Schapiro's Grand Jury Testimony
following are excerpts from Meyer Schapiro's grand jury testimony
of February. 9, 1949, reaffirming his story that Chambers
received his translation work after his break with the Communist
This inadvertantly contradicted Chambers and backed Hiss's
contention that Chambers had left the Party before the latest
date listed on the Baltimore Documents.
Will you give the Grand Jury as much as you can of
that? You started to tell us about that before, and I
interrupted you. Can you say about what time in 1938 it
was that he came to you - in the Summer or Spring?
I think in the Fall.
And where did he contact you?
At my home, in West Fourth Street.
And how long prior to that hadn't you seen him?
A. Perhaps a year or a year and a half.
What did he say to you at that time?
A. He told
me that he was in hiding; that he was afraid of Russian
agents of the Military Intelligence, who were after him; that
he had broken with the organization; that he had been engaged
in secret work with them, or for them; and he had to make
a living and it was a desperate matter; and that it was quite
possible that his wife and two children were in danger.
at that time I introduced him to the Director of the Oxford
University Press, Mr. Willert, and recommended him as a translator
- and he is an admirable translator, one of the best from
French and German in this country. You know he translated
"Bambi" and Werfel, and a number of other writers
- and I was the intermediary in forwarding manuscripts, and
so on. He didn't want the people at Oxford Press to know where
he lived, he was so much disturbed about the danger to himself.
Did he ever meet anybody at the Oxford Press or talk to anybody
there, as far as you know?
He did meet Mr. Willert personally.
Did he ever make any statements to you with reference to his
contacts with Mr. Willert?
Well, of a purely personal kind. Mr. Willert was very kindly
and glad to help him.
Did he ever refer to the fact that he was concerned about
whether anybody in the Oxford Press might not have some connection
with the Russians?
Well, it is barely possible, I have a vague memory of some
anxiety about that, but I can't remember any names in connection
with it. He wrote me once - or, rather, I wrote to him once
- a letter about information I had gotten from this man Willert,
that a Russian was in town, or a Ukrainian had come to New
York, and I forwarded the information to Whittaker, and he
told me that this man was obviously a Russian agent, and he
had to avoid him. That is the one occasion I remember. Now,
in just what context I
learned that, I am not sure. I don't recall.
Did Chambers ever say to you, about that time, that Willert
told him that somebody was looking for him?
This may be the context of it, but I don't know just what
date it was, and with reference to what event; but I did communicate
to him that I learned from the people at the Oxford Press
- from one of the men at the Oxford Press; probably Willert,
but it might have been someone else there, because I knew
four or five people there - that this Russian was in New York.
What name was Chambers using at that time, do you recall?
I can't recall.
But it wasn't Chambers?
Well, with Willert he used the name Chambers.
He did use the name Chambers?
Yes, of course,
Well, have you any information that Willert identified
him under any other name?
No, I don't know that.
Now, at that time, with reference to his activities, when
he came to you and said he had broken away, he told you he
was engaged in espionage, and so forth, for this outfit?
He didn't say espionage; he said he was engaged in secret
work, and I didn't question him as to what he did and whom
Was there any discussion as to whether he should go to the
It was later, sometime in 1939.
What did he say then?
In 1939, the following issue came up: A number of people who
had been Communists, engaged in secret work, had been killed.
One of them was named Ignatz Reiss, who was a man in the Russian
underground service, who had been asked to fake documents
in preparation for the Moscow trials; and this man published
in the Dutch Socialist press a statement about the instructions
that had been given to him, and announced his own resignation
from the Russian service, and returned all the medals and
honors he had received from the Russian Army, and so on; and
a few weeks later he was found dead in Switzerland, and it
turned out that the people who had assassinated him were Russians.
his widow published all the information in the Socialist press
and in the leftist-group presses, and it occasioned
a great deal of discussion.
then there appeared in the world left press - I mean the whole
range, from Socialist to Anarchist to Syndicalist to Communist-opposition
groups - a letter from Leon Trotsky, advising people who wanted
to break with the Russian service, as to what to do in order
to protect themselves from assassination; and he recommended
that people in that situation should write a letter telling
what they had done, and give it to a friendly Government that
was not allied in any way with Russia, and to demand protection.
became very well known at that time, because of a
number of assassinations that took place. Some of them were
in connection with the Spanish Civil War.
I believe that Whittaker decided to do the same thing,
to seek protection from the United States government by confessing
that he had been a member of some apparatus,
some secret underground group, so that it would be
known to the authorities what he had done and who he was,
and hence any assassination of Whittaker would be immediately
attributed to the Russian Government; and I believe that was
sometime in 1939.
Did he talk to you about it?
A little. We discussed it a number of times,
Did you know Isaac Don Levine?
No, I had heard of him, and occasionally seen articles of
his, but I had never met him.
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