— Chambers' Break

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Whittaker Chambers' Break with the Communist Party

Since the Hiss verdict, key evidence has appeared that substantially alters the facts of the case.

Beginning in 1939, Whittaker Chambers repeatedly said in statements and under oath that he left the Communist Party and went into hiding in 1937. Then in November, 1948, he changed the date to April 1938. He did so after turning over to Alger Hiss's attorneys copies of State Department documents he said Hiss had given him in April 1938.

Chambers' conflicting statements about the date of his departure from the Party were raised by the defense at both trials, but it was only after Hiss's conviction that the defense uncovered evidence which indicated that Chambers had left the Party in 1937. This new evidence was included in Hiss's 1952 motion for a new trial.

To read more about what the Hiss defense learned about the date of Chambers' break with the Communist Party, read the pertinent sections of Hiss's 1952 motion for a new trial.

The release of FBI documents on the case in the 1970s showed that the government had information supporting the defense's contention that Chambers had left the Communist Party in 1937. This new information was included by Hiss in his 1978 coram nobis petition, which sought to overturn the guilty verdict because of prosecutorial misconduct. To read the portion of Hiss's coram nobis petition on Chambers' break with the Party, click here.



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