FOR THE FILES
Alger Hiss Investigation
with Adolf Berle
Berle telephoned me on December 15th in answer to my letter
of December 14th to him regarding the authenticity of the
said he believes that the notes reproduced as Government's
Exhibit 18 are copies of the scratch notes he made during
his conversation with Chambers, except for the pencil notations
thereon, as to which he has no information. He has no recollection
whether he had the notes typed and turned over the typed copies,
or whether he turned over the originals and the copies in
evidence were from there. However, he is reasonably sure that
the copies reflect fairly accurately his original notes.
to the discrepancies between the notes and his House Committee
testimony, he says that it is not as serious as would appear
on the surface. Chambers seemed to him a man who honestly
believed what he was saying, but was incapable of standing
up under questioning on any matter, and generally gave the
appearance of a crackpot. Thus, Chambers started by referring
to various people, including the Hiss brothers, as Communists
(whence came Berle's 'CP' notations), but in the course of
the conversation his definiteness faded out, and he admitted
that he really meant no more than that they were the kind
of people whom the Communist Party had tried to interest generally
in the Communist point of view. Berle believes that his testimony
before the House Committee accurately reflects the sum of
his conversation as a whole, whereas his notes, made currently
as the conversation went on, rather than as a careful resume
prepared afterwards, merely reflect statements which Chambers
made at one point or another but then failed to stand to.
Berle began his conversation with me very formally and nervously,
he warmed up as we went along, and we ended on a cordial note.
I agreed that no further reply to my letter was necessary.
(signed Chester T. Lane)
Lane was the New York attorney who prepared Alger Hiss's motion
for a new trial.
to The Witnesses