January 25, 1949, Whittaker Chambers described to the grand
jury the process by which he said documents were brought out
from the State Department by Alger Hiss for transmission to
the Soviet Union.
to Chambers, this process began in early 1937. Documents were
taken from the State Department by Hiss and given to Chambers,
who would photograph and return them to Hiss to take back
to his office the next morning before they were missed. Chambers
claimed he did the photographic work himself, at the apartment
of William and Anna Spiegel on East Madison Street in Baltimore.
Chambers testified to this before the grand jury and also
at both Hiss trials.
grand jury minutes released in October 1999 now make public
for the first time the testimony of both Spiegels. Disputing
Chambers' version of events, they said they were not living
in the apartment when Chambers said they had let him use it
for espionage work. Chambers repeated his version of events
at both trials. The prosecution knew of the Spiegel's testimony
and did not call them to the stand at either trial. The defense
never knew of their testimony.
Chambers' Grand Jury Testimony:
CHAMBERS: Almost immediately after this meeting [around January
1937] Mr. Hiss began to produce documents from the State Department,
which were photographed and the photographs transmitted to
Bykov. The photography was done at first, I believe, in an
apartment on Madison - corner of Madison and Cowan Street
in Baltimore. The apartment was rented by a family named Spiegel.
had a small business making a kind of composition cork which
was used in novelty lines; it was used for putting around
waste baskets or making jackets for books, and other things.
Mrs. Spiegel was, at that time, I believe, in the Baltimore
school system. I'm not definitely sure, but I believe that
Mrs. Spiegel was a member of the Communist Party. I'm much
less sure whether Mr. Spiegel was. The Spiegels were contacts
of David Carpenter and he arranged with them for us to use
his apartment for photographic work. At that time I did photography.
When I would come into the apartment, to which I must have
had a key, I suppose, the Spiegels would go out for the evening,
and I think I usually left before they returned.
week later, on February 3, William and Anna Spiegel were called
to testify before the grand jury. The Spiegels contradicted
Chambers on key aspects of his testimony. They said they did
not move into their apartment on East Madison Street until
the fall of 1937, so Chambers could not have used their apartment
to photograph documents in early 1937. The Spiegels differed
somewhat when recalling the number of times Chambers came
to their apartment, but said he was not a regular visitor.
They also said they did not leave the apartment when he arrived,
as he claimed.
Spiegel denied the apartment had been used for photography.
Also, like Hiss, William Spiegel recalled that, in those days,
Chambers had had bad teeth.
excerpts from William Spiegel's testimony
to the Grand Jury