June 17, 1978
letters which follow, selected from among the mass of mail
we received regarding Weinstein-on-Hiss, constitute something
of an informal interim report on the case, the book and the
lawsuit against Weinstein, his publisher and possibly The
Krieger, a Communist Party organizer for three decades, lives
today in a quiet house on a quiet street in Rohnert Park,
Calif., where Allen Weinstein came to visit him in 1974. Five
weeks later, Krieger received a strange letter that as he
now looks back on it began the noise in his life.
letter was from Isaac Don Levine, the lay pope of American
professional anti-communism, and its message was bewildering.
Levine wrote that Krieger's adopted little daughter, Natasha,
had arrived in America from the Soviet Union and was anxious
to be reunited with him. It was obvious that Levine thought
Sam Krieger was Clarence Miller, a leader of the 1929 Gastonia
textile strike who, with six comrades, fled to Russia (against
the wishes of the American party leadership) to avoid serving
a seventeen-to-twenty-year term for a second-degree murder
conviction arising out of strike violence in Gastonia. The
red-haired Miller was installed in a comfortable Moscow apartment
and taught political classes. He became known as the Red Professor.
He also came to know the mother of a little girl named Natasha.
Krieger wrote Isaac Don Levine that he was barking up the
wrong Clarence Miller. That was in 1974. He never heard another
"Perjury,"Krieger, who back in the 1920s recruited
Chambers into the party, is identified as the fiery textile
strike leader who fled to the Soviet Union under the name
Clarence Miller. This serves Weinstein's melodrama by making
Chambers's recruiter a more sinister and important figure
in the party than the lowly Sam Krieger who was at that time
the circulation manager of the Yonkers (N.Y.) Statesman.
then, were Weinstein's sources on Krieger/Miller? When I called
him, he said one was a woman who heads a refugee program in
New York. Weinstein did not give me her name. She had given
Krieger's address to a mysterious Russian woman: She told
me the young woman found him and they had a sad reunion, Weinstein
said. He sounded genuinely moved. I told him that Krieger
said there had been no such visit. He shrugged over the phone.
other source, he said, was an anti-Communist journalist. Was
he Isaac Don Levine, I asked. Why yes, it was, he said. I
told the professor that I had talked to his source just that
morning and that Levine had said it was Weinstein who had
told him Krieger was Miller, not vice versa.
was a silence on the phone. That's weird, Weinstein said.
Well I have what he said in my notes. It's all here. You're
welcome to come look at them.
wrote an article in the San Francisco Chronicle reporting
Isaac Don Levine's recantation and the statements of two men,
Alden Whitman and Sender Garlin, who had known both Krieger
and Clarence Miller back then and said that there wasn't a
ghost of a chance that the two were the same. Bridgeport police
records supported Krieger's assertion that he was arrested
for party work in Bridgeport in 1934 when Clarence Miller
was in Russia.
Weinstein is right in his repeated identification of Krieger
as Miller, then Sam Krieger is a fugitive from justice and
May 24, Sam Krieger filed suit against Allen Weinstein in
U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking general, punitive
and special damages. In addition to demanding $1 million from
Alfred A. Knopf, Weinstein's publisher, the suit asked the
court to enjoin Knopf from identifying Krieger as Miller in
any future printing of "Perjury" and demands
that errata slips be sent by the publisher to bookstores throughout
the country to be inserted in copies already bound.
asks damages of $2 million for Weinstein's statements in The
New Republic that he has Krieger on tape not denying that
he was Clarence Miller. Krieger said he told Weinstein exactly
the opposite, on tape. In addition, Krieger says that Weinstein
gratuitously misquoted his opinions about Hiss and Chambers
in The New Republic.
lawyers are Doris Walker of Oakland and John Clancy of San
Francisco, who has represented the Esalen Foundation and Hunter
S. Thompson. Clancy said that The New Republic had
been given sixty days to retract Weinstein's statements about
Krieger. If they refuse, the magazine will be named as a defendant,
false statements, says the suit, are libelous on their face
and clearly expose the plaintiff to hatred, contempt, ridicule,
shame, fear and loathing, in that a convicted murderer
who has fled to avoid serving his sentence is not viewed as
your ordinary good neighbor.
one of his defenses of "Perjury," Allen Weinstein
rounded on me as a recanter on the apparent ground that I
had told Victor Navasky I could not remember talking with
Priscilla Hiss's former sister-in-law in 1974 about whether
Mrs. Hiss had denounced her husband at a 1968 dinner party.
Weinstein thereupon quoted in part from a letter he says I
sent him in late 1974.
I retired from The New York Times two years ago and
moved out of New York, my files on the Chambers/Hiss case
were irretrievably dispersed. Noting this fact, I wrote Weinstein
on May 12 asking for Xerox copies of all my private letters
and memorandums in his possession. I offered to pay the costs
of copying. In view of Weinstein's repeated professions of
scholarly openness, such a request should have been honored.
I was not totally astonished, however, that he did not respond
to my letter, inasmuch as he had quoted from my private letters
and memorandums as a source for a number of allegations in
"Perjury" without my permission, consent
footnotes in the book, he says the quotations and citations
he used are by courtesy of Alden Whitman. Nothing could be
further from the truth. The implication that I cooperated
or collaborated with Weinstein in the research or preparation
of "Perjury" is false. I did not see the
book in any form until I received a bound copy shortly before
its official publication date.
leave it to your readers to characterize Weinstein's behavior
and to judge to what degree it accords with standards of scholarship
that prevail generally in the history profession.
Weinstein has used my private letters and memorandums without
permission and has thus miscast me as a willing participant
in his book, I have taken advice and put Alfred A. Knopf,
Inc., the publishers of "Perjury," on notice.
I have asked Knopf to give me an undertaking to excise from
future printings or editions of the book, including any paperback
editions, all citations bearing my name. I naturally pointed
out to Knopf its failure to exercise prudence in finding out
whether Weinstein had the permission of the owner of the contents
of private letters and memorandums to make use of them. Under
common law copyright, as your readers may know, the contents
of the correspondence belong to the writer.
would not burden your readers with this recital of my dealings
with Weinstein save for the fact that he has made a public
issue of his scholarship and his veracity. It occurred to
me that your readers should not believe that everyone shares
Weinstein's astigmatic self-view.
Nation, as Allen Weinstein points out in "Perjury,"
has been foremost in keeping alive the hope that Alger
Hiss could be proved innocent. This political investment,
however, does not justify Victor Navasky's misrepresentation
of the historian's case. A crucial example is the editor's
account of Josephine Herbst's testimony about the Ware group.
He charges Weinstein with omission-distortion because (1)
she never used the word stolen; (2) she believed
the documents possessed by the Ware group were trivial and
intended for The Daily Worker, not Moscow; (3) she
knew John Herrmann's apartment was not used for developing
photographs while she was there.
Herbst did say, as Weinstein quotes her testimony, that she
had seen in the apartment certain documents that had been
taken from government offices by members of the cell and brought
to the apartment for transmission to New York. (p. 138.) She
was not claiming that the group was authorized to transmit
these documents; the absence of the word stolen, therefore,
is a mere quibble by the editor. Weinstein's fairness is revealed
by his noting that Chambers recalled no such espionage work
being done in 1934 by members of the Ware group, whose major
functions, he believed, were to recruit more Communists within
the government and to influence government policies. (p. 140.)
himself, moreover, makes the editor's points that she thought
the material was "innocuous" and believed that "'no
direct contact existed between our group and Soviet authorities.'"
(p. 138.) As Weinstein points out, however, she did not know
of Chambers's work for the Red Army's Fourth Branch. The historian
also notes that, while no pictures may have been developed
while she was in Herrmann's apartment, she lived there only
for three months in 1934 and hence could not speak about Chambers's
possible use of the quarters for espionage work - his and
not the Ware group's - at other times. (p. 140.)
editor's distortion by omission is capped, by his ignoring
the critical fact: Herbst told Hiss's lawyers that Chambers
and John Herrmann regarded Hiss as an important prospect to
solicit for the purpose of getting papers. (p. 141.)
evidence is clear that Chambers, Herrmann and Ware, as Weinstein
concludes, all told Josephine Herbst in mid-1934 that they
were already in touch with Alger Hiss, trying to recruit him
for espionage more than six months before Hiss claimed to
have met Chambers under more innocuous circumstances. (p.
141.) If the editor can challenge this crucial conclusion,
let him do so, rather than throw dust in the reader's eyes
by misrepresenting Weinstein's account and slandering his
character as a historian.
from Victor Navasky:
his zeal to defend Allen Weinstein's brief, Professor Strout
seems to be guilty of the sort of carelessness which has made
"Perjury" such a dubious guide to the complications
of the Hiss case. First, he refers to Josephine Herbst's testimony
about the Ware group, even as Weinstein referred to her depositions.
In fact, all of the evidence from Miss Herbst is in the form
of FBI interviews, interviews with Hiss's lawyers or private
fact Herbst said several times that she didn't believe pictures
could have been developed in the tiny Ware apartment because
it lacked a closet and the bathroom was totally impractical
for developing purposes.
Professor Strout seems oblivious to the bottom fact about
Weinstein's treatment of Herbst: that by citing
her statements out of historical context, he tries to use
her second- and third-hand impressions (it is difficult to
say which, given Weinstein's inadequate footnoting system)
of the so-called Ware group in 1934 as evidence of espionage
in 1937 or 1938. Especially since Herbst had no direct knowledge
of Hiss one way or the other, this seems a clear abuse of
newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews over
the past several months, Allen Weinstein has repeatedly said
that what clinches his case against Alger Hiss (the strongest
incriminating evidence) are memos he found in Hiss's own lawyers'
files. According to Weinstein, this evidence establishes that
early in December 1948 Hiss knew of the whereabouts of the
Woodstock typewriter he had owned in the 1930s, that he lied
about this knowledge to the FBI, the grand jury and even to
his own lawyers, and that thereafter, for five months, with
his brother Donald and Mike Catlett, the son of a former maid,
he engaged in a conspiracy to prevent anyone - government
investigators and even his own lawyers - from finding the
spent a quarter of a century studying the Hiss case, and in
particular having interviewed all the available witnesses
with knowledge of the typewriter, something that Professor
Weinstein, for all his vaunted research and scholarship neglected
to do, I can confidently declare these allegations by Weinstein
to be patent nonsense, complete distortions of the record.
For the purpose of economy, let me restrict myself to Weinstein's
ludicrous charge that Donald Hiss and Mike Catlett attempted
to suppress knowledge about the whereabouts of the typewriter
(a typewriter which in any case the government later claimed
was useless for its prosecution of Alger Hiss).
research establishes that from the time the Hiss Woodstock
was brought to the Catlett house, sometime between December
1937 and April 1938, until it or what is claimed to be
the same machine was recovered at the home of Ira Lockey,
Sr. in April 1949, the typewriter was used or possessed by
twenty-four persons, none of whom, except for Pat and Mike
Catlett, was known to Alger Hiss or to any member of his family.
In that eleven-year period, the machine was kept in no less
than twelve, and possibly as many as eighteen, different locations.
reader of "Perjury" is told little about
these complications and therefore is unable to appreciate
the overwhelming difficulties facing Donald Hiss and Mike
Catlett as they tried to follow this trail after eleven years.
Contrary to Weinstein's assertion, Donald Hiss never knew
that Ira Lockey possessed the typewriter in 1949. Rather than
covering up such knowledge, Donald Hiss persistently returned
to Lockey's house, no less than six times, in his quest for
the typewriter, and each time Lockey denied possession. Donald
Hiss finally and justifiably wrote this lead off as a dead
end when, directed by Lockey, a hunt through a junkyard produced
only an old Royal typewriter. Contrary to what Weinstein says,
Donald Hiss kept Alger Hiss's lawyer, Edward McLean, fully
informed about all these searches.
J. Cook (The
Nation, May 12, 1962) makes the intriguing
point that the sudden and mysterious appearance of the typewriter
in April 1949 may have been connected with an FBI visit to
Ira Lockey, Sr. in February 1949 after Donald Hiss's continuously
frustrated efforts. In any case, there is no conceivable basis
for Weinstein's charge that Donald Hiss and Mike Catlett withheld
knowledge from Alger's lawyers that the typewriter had been
traced to Ira Lockey.
Weinstein's account, which ignores almost all of this history,
is indeed the strongest incriminating evidence but it is further
evidence against the credibility.
am employed as a researcher by the National Emergency Civil
Liberties Foundation. I have been spending considerable time
on Alger Hiss's pending petition for coram nobis, so
I am obviously not a disinterested bystander in the dispute
over Allen Weinstein's "Perjury." Since the
NECLF office houses the complete Hiss defense files as well
as thousands of pages of FBI documents on the Hiss case, I
have been able to compare these records with Allen Weinstein's
alleged documentation for his charges against Alger Hiss.
I have discovered, literally, more than 100 serious errors
of fact in "Perjury," some of which were
discussed in Victor Navasky's review. But Navasky's demonstrations
of Weinstein's unfounded allegations and sweeping distortions
could be multiplied manifold from the available evidence.
as an example, the question of whether Alger Hiss knew about
the location of the Woodstock typewriter in December 1948
and lied about this knowledge to the grand jury and to his
lawyers. Weinstein's sole evidence for this charge is an ambiguous
letter written December 28, 1948 by John Davis to Edward McLean.
Navasky has demonstrated that on its face the letter does
not support Weinstein's charges against Hiss, and that, far
from being certain about the whereabouts of the typewriter,
the Hiss investigators were searching in many different locations.
Navasky doesn't cite the strongest evidence in this regard,
a defense memorandum dated the same day as the Davis letter,
December 28, 1948, which clearly demonstrates that Hiss had
no clear recollection of what happened to the old Woodstock,
and that his suggestion to Davis (that it may have been given
to the Catletts) was only one of several possibilities that
had occurred to him. Under the caption, "What Happened
to the Typewriter," five investigative leads which the
defense intended to pursue are listed:
all typewriter dealers and repairmen in Washington, Baltimore,
Westminster and Lynbrook.
Check Hiss maids and their relatives ... Catletts.
Relatives and friends of the Hisses to whom it may have
Charities, such as the Salvation Army and self-help organizations.
Hiss remembers that he reported a theft to the Washington
police in 1939 or 1940. . . . This should be checked.
as Navasky pointed out, the January 21, 1949 memo, entitled
"Oral Report from Mr. Schmahl Today," demonstrated
that the defense had indeed spent the previous month checking
out all these possible locations. But of course Weinstein
did not attempt to present all the evidence fairly in order
give the reader a chance to reach an honest judgment. Rather,
as the late Matthew Josephson, winner of the Parkman Prize
for history, wrote about "Perjury:" Weinstein
has no sense of values as a biographer or historian to lead
him through all this chaotic mass of stuff, but adopts the
standards of HUAC, the FBI, Nixon even. . . . He must destroy
the myth of Alger Hiss as America's Dreyfus case and save
the myth of Chambers as the suffering hero who rescued America's
intellectuals from Soviet communism.
Weinstein introduces me several times in "Perjury"
almost always in a manner which seriously distorts the truth.
It would take too much space to provide you with even a reasonably
complete list of his mistakes, but let me offer the following
as representative of Weinstein's erroneous assertions about
me or events of which I had first-hand knowledge:
p. 91 Weinstein writes: In Meyer Schapiro's room at Columbia
Chambers met a young man
named Sender Garlin who was then working for Russian-American
I was at no time associated with this relief organization.
p. 103 Weinstein writes that after the death of Chambers's
brother, Chambers resumed contact with Communist friends late
in 1926. He adds that Chambers also remembered that "friends
in the C.P. like Harry Freeman and Sender Garlin who were
then working on The Daily Worker, to get me out of
my mood... Urged me to go with them on that paper."
Freeman and I (who lived in New York) could not have been
working for The Daily Worker in 1926 because the paper
did not move to New York from Chicago until the spring of
1927. I joined the staff several months later.
his effort to create a conspiratorial atmosphere in which
Chambers and Hiss were allegedly operating, Weinstein cites
a defense memorandum by a Hiss lawyer. Here (p. 382) I am
quoted as saying that Chambers had disappeared in 1933 and
had gone underground. Victor Navasky, in his rebuttal to Weinstein
( The Nation, May 6), quoted me accurately: Maybe the
lawyer used these words, but I did not. Words like "underground"
are not part of my vocabulary.
claims that among those recognizing Chambers immediately after
a decade were Sender Garlin, Josephine Herbst, Julian Wadleigh,
William Edward Crane and Maxim Lieber. His footnote, No. 59,
p. 596, cites HUAC 1, pp. 1004-5 (1948). This citation
is a phony, for I am nowhere listed in these pages of HUAC
nor are any of the other five persons mentioned, except for
Nelson Frank. Questioned by Rep. Richard M. Nixon, Frank,
a Red expert on the New York World-Telegram, said he
recognized Chambers after a lapse of twelve years. Frank testified
that he had been a part-time reporter on The Daily Worker
in 1928 when he allegedly first met Chambers. Since I
was city editor of The Daily Worker at the time, I
can state categorically that he testified falsely on this
name appears seven times in Weinstein's index and four times
in his reference notes. However, at no time did he make any
attempt to communicate with me to check any assertions
I have borrowed Allen Weinstein's "Perjury" and
find myself included in it as a witness. I'm not certain whether
for the prosecution or defense in the case of Weinstein vs.
Hiss. The consistent misspelling of my name and the description
of me as former editor of The Daily Worker are inconsequential
errors, whatever they may imply about the author's scholarship.
There are, however, distortions about statements I made and
about my past activity that require correction.
book (pp. 381-2): "Schmahl [an investigator for Hiss's
legal defense] informed McLean [Hiss's lawyer] in late January
that 'through a very confidential contact' he had learned
that A.B. Magill, former editor of The Daily Worker, 'knew
the identity of a man with whom Chambers is said to have had
an extensive affair in his younger days.' Schmahl interviewed
Magill, who described Chambers's affair with Ida Dales and
strongly implied that she and other women had been lesbians
when Chambers took up with them. Magill also said 'that Chambers
had an affair with a good-looking young boy, nicknamed "Bub"
. . . when Chambers was employed on the staff of The Daily
Worker.' Magill reiterated a theme that characterized
the C.P. line on Chambers by this time and the unofficial
comments of those Communists who volunteered information:
'Chambers was in the habit of showing Magill his manuscripts
for perusal before publication.' According to Mr. Magill,
'some of those manuscripts would turn your stomach.' They
were, said Mr. Magill, 'dripping with perversities, violence
and weird plots.'"
facts: I did not describe Chambers's "affair"
with Ida Dales, nor did I imply that she was a lesbian. I
referred to Ida Dales as Chambers's first wife. I did
not say that Chambers had an affair with Bub. I told the person
who interviewed me that Chambers was suspected of homosexuality,
and it was in that context that I mentioned "Bub."
I never said that Chambers was in the habit of showing me
his manuscripts before publication. He was not. I told the
interviewer that on one occasion in the summer or early fall
of 1931, while I was a house guest of Chambers at his home
on Long Island, he showed me two or three short stories and
a poem. I was impressed with the quality of the stories, but
even more impressed with their obsession with violence. I
said nothing about "perversities," or about "turning
your stomach," or about "weird plots."
book: "Lieber said recently that A.B. Magill, who
had provided information on Chambers to the Hiss defense,
was the representative of the American Communist Party who
helped him make contacts
in Mexico with Eastern European embassies (Lieber and his
family, after several years in Mexico, settled in Poland)."
facts: I was not the representative of the American Communist
Party in Mexico. From 1950
to 1952 I was a correspondent there, first of The Daily
Worker and later of Telepress, a left-wing international
news agency that folded in the latter year. During two and
a half years in Mexico I was occasionally invited, as were
Mexican newsmen and women, to social functions at the Czech
and Polish Embassies. Maxim Lieber sought repatriation to
the country of his birth, Poland, and I may have introduced
him to a Polish Embassy official, though I have no specific
recollection of doing so. Lieber departed for Poland more
than two years after I left Mexico.
one who was a member of the Communist underground in Washington
from mid-1934 to early 1937, I find some of Victor Navasky's
quoted contradictions of statements from interviews by Allen
Weinstein in "Perjury" rather perplexing.
have known personally a number of the people whose denials
Navasky quotes. I would not expect
one of them, if confronted with a statement published in a
context unfavorable to them, to give an honest, unprevaricating
response. But the case of Katherine Perlo's letter to President
Roosevelt was even more puzzling.
derides Weinstein as follows: "The Washington 'underground
Communist group,' headed
by Victor Perlo, was 'confirmed' when 'Katherine Wills Perlo
wrote an anonymous letter to the White House in 1944.'"
Navasky seems to be doing something strange - suggesting that
Weinstein needed Mrs. Perlo's
letter to prove the existence of the underground, and that
anything shaky about the letter should shake any right-thinking
reader's belief that there ever had been a Washington Communist
proceeds then to find the letter shaky because Mrs. Perlo
was under the care of a psychiatrist,
and because she added the psychiatrist's name to those of
her husband and others she accused of a Communist conspiracy.
have no information about Mrs. Perlo's psychiatrist. For all
I know, he could have been a Communist.
Such a choice, if made by a comrade, would have been natural.
But about Victor Perlo himself and his underground activities
there can be no doubt. I attended a unit meeting (we did not
use the term cell) once a week for more than two years, and
Vic was present surely at more than seventy of them. He was
my first unit leader; how well I remember his kneeling one
night drawing a map of China with different colors of chalk
on a child's blackboard, while giving us a progress report
on the territory gained by Chu Teh, Chou En-lai, and Mao Tse-tung.
am not sure whether Katherine Wills Perlo is the wife I knew.
If she is, the marriage has an interesting
history. Vic was only 22 when I first met him in 1934. He
had been a mathematical prodigy, and was brilliant at his
job in the New Deal. But his development had been one-sided.
The more sophisticated comrades called him socially immature,
and a campaign was launched to help him try, as the rest of
us were doing, according to party directives, to play the
role of a proper bourgeois adult. Always an earnest and literal-minded
adherent to party decisions, Vic appeared, within weeks, proudly
leading a blonde bride. He established her in a little country
house and even produced a baby. Vic's wife never seemed a
natural as a Communist, and I am not surprised, if this Mrs.
Perlo is the same woman, that she became fed up with the party
and its demands.
whoever she was, whatever her mental condition in 1944, however
she phrased her accusation, the Washington underground not
only existed but was used, to my knowledge, for stealing documents
from government agencies. I myself carried out such an assignment,
admittedly a harmless one for I had no access to secret information,
but performed by means of stealthy, illicit entry and the
rifling of an official's files, for practice. But my husband,
whose breakdown and death may have been due to the conflicts
caused by his conspiratorial activities, was leader of one
of the most productive of the five-member units that made
up our part of Hal Ware's group. He himself regularly went
to the New York waterfront to give a party contact confidential
information from his job in the shipping division of the labor
board of NRA, later of the National Labor Relations Board.
Everyone in Hal Ware's group had accepted the directive to
get whatever we could for the party to use in any way it saw
from Victor Navasky:
appears above is a second draft. When Hope Hale Davis called
to ask whether we were printing her letter I assured her we
were, but observed that she had misconstrued my point, which
had to do only with Weinstein's deficiencies as a scholar.
In a footnote on p. 22 of "Perjury" he refers to
an anonymous letter sent by Mrs. Perlo "to the FBI"
which accused her husband of "espionage." In fact
the letter was sent to the President and said nothing about
espionage. On hearing this, Hope Hale Davis said, "Oh,
I forgot to put in the espionage part," and a few days
later her addendum arrived with the final paragraph amended
to include the espionage part.
Davis is accurate in her memory, however, she has provided
further evidence of "Perjury's" carelessness, for
Weinstein neglected to include her name along with others
he listed as members of the Perlo and Ware groups.
have read with interest the account of your efforts to verify,
at Mr. Weinstein's invitation, his quotes or summaries of
certain taped interviews.
experience comes as no surprise to me, as my reading of the
book (I have only been able to struggle through half if it
so far) indicated clearly that, while posing as a scholar
whose search has revealed hitherto unknown facts, Mr. Weinstein
has merely taken existing material, and by clever use of the
English language makes every correction of prior testimony
by Alger Hiss sound as if he had been forced to retract a
lie while at the same time misquoting Whittaker Chambers so
that subsequent changes would not appear to be changes at
refer you for instance to page 47 where Weinstein says that
". . . Hiss adjusted his testimony . . ." whereas
in his portrayal of Whittaker Chambers he not only plays down
changes (see page 19) but in one striking instance actually
misquotes Chambers on a vital point, so that no later correction
will be necessary. I refer in this instance to Chambers's
testimony before HUAC, commencing with a prepared statement
on August 3, 1948 and repeated frequently until he found it
necessary to change his story toward the end of August 1948.
(See page 5 where Mr. Weinstein writes that Chambers said
he left the party in 1938 whereas in fact, Mr. Chambers said
he left the party late in 1937.) This of course, is a crucial
"correction" of the facts by the author, since assuming
Mr. Chambers was correct when he said that he left the party
in late 1937, the documents he produced dated February and
March 1938 could not have come from Alger Hiss.
annoying as I find Mr. Weinstein's deliberate manipulation
of the reader's impression of the respective truthfulness
of Mr. Hiss and Mr. Chambers, I am even more put out by his
unscholarly habit of appearing to append verification of an
otherwise unsupported statement referring the reader to a
footnote at the back of the book which, when consulted, fails
to confirm the statement footnoted: page 186, footnote 63;
page 194, footnote 81; page 196, footnote 1; page 197, footnote
3; page 215, footnote 41; page 319, footnote 27.
are but some of the defects I picked up, having neither the
time nor the patience to check each footnote, but even these
discrepancies are sufficient to give "the lie" to
the current propaganda that Mr. Weinstein, through his outstanding
scholarly efforts, has finally "proven" that Alger
Hiss is guilty.
felt an eerie sense of deja vu when I read in The
Nation that Allen Weinstein reneged on his promise, even
dare, to have Victor Navasky inspect his "Perjury"
archives. Apparently, Weinstein didn't have the nerve
to turn away Navasky himself and had his wife perform this
graceless task at the door of their Washington home. I consider
this breach of a promise, made with great bravado on television,
a mark of dishonor. It raises the question whether such a
man can write honest history. For I don't think an historian's
character is unrelated to his product. For example, Weinstein
despises personal contretemps. He is extremely uncomfortable
in situations, private or public, where he is strongly challenged.
In other words, he has a difficult time coping with unpleasantness.
This personality trait would be of no matter in a medieval
historian, but it hurt Weinstein's research immensely. His
fear of confrontation prevented him from presenting evidence
to principals in the Hiss case. I was with him when he told
Alger Hiss in his last interview that he thought Hiss was
guilty. Although extremely nervous, Weinstein went on to say
that he possessed documentary evidence proving Hiss had lied
when he said that he had no independent recollection of the
whereabouts of the Woodstock typewriter. But did Weinstein
show the accused his documentary evidence as any cub reporter
would have done? No. Nor did he have the courage to face Mrs.
Hiss with an allegedly incriminating letter. Nor did he allow
Donald Hiss to comment on his alleged role in hiding the Woodstock
typewriter from the FBI. Weinstein constantly wraps himself
in the nonpartisan mantle of an objective historian. Yet he
failed at crucial times to let the witnesses to history speak
in his book. Why? I repeat, it's a matter of character. How
can I make these statements? I was once Weinstein's friend.
My feeling of deja-vu relates to another betrayal of
promise that likewise bears on the question whether Weinstein
can write honest history.
story is a footnote to "Perjury." My dispute
with Weinstein has nothing to do with Hiss's guilt or innocence.
It is irrelevant to history, but I judge not to the current
imbroglio regarding Weinstein's methods that is his reliability
as an historian. As I wrote Weinstein recently, I happen to
believe in the book if not in you. I would not write those
words today even though I think Hiss is guilty.
would take more space than it is worth to give the full story
of the dealings between Weinstein and myself on the news rights
to "Perjury" which persuade me that his character
must be an element in anyone's judgment of his work on the
Hiss case. Weinstein had given me exclusive news rights to
the discoveries he claims to have made in the course of his
research for his book. I was to make them public in a long
reneged on this verbal contract. I had, with Weinstein's approval,
arranged for the exclusive interview to appear in Politicks
six weeks before the book's publication date. After I
made this deal known to Weinstein, he allowed his agent to
sell the news rights to Time without so much as telling
me or Tom Morgan, editor of Politicks. The handling
of this matter is now before the Ethics Committee of the Society
of Authors' Representatives at my instigation.
I faced Weinstein with this betrayal he offered to send me
a check from his Time fee to compensate for my small
Politicks payment and said he would make amends to
Politicks. Knopf is going to hate me for this
by calling a press conference in its offices to answer any
and all questions regarding "Perjury." I
declined the former and Morgan the latter. Weinstein thought
he could cover his dishonor with a check and some publicity.
He concluded by saying that he hoped he could salvage our
friendship and would come up for dinner the following night.
As with Navasky, he never showed.
so I come back to my original question. Can such a man write
honest history? I'm not sure. Navasky demonstrated that Weinstein
has fiddled with evidence, overstated facts and covered up
ambiguities in order to fit his view of the case. I see certain
parallels in Weinstein's personal behavior. And so I would
not be surprised if the character that broke promises both
to Navasky and me, when it suited his purposes, also betrayed
history in "Perjury" where it suited his
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