Grand Jury Minutes




















Chambers and the
Spiegel Testimony

On 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.

According 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.

The 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.

From Chambers' Grand Jury Testimony:

Mr. 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. Mr. 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.

A 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.

Mr. Spiegel denied the apartment had been used for photography. Also, like Hiss, William Spiegel recalled that, in those days, Chambers had had bad teeth.

Read excerpts from William Spiegel's testimony

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