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William Rosen

Rosen's name came up during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in August 1948, when Whittaker Chambers claimed that Alger Hiss gave his 1928 Ford to a service station in Washington D.C. that was owned by a member of the Communist Party. Chambers said that Hiss wanted the car to be used by a loyal Party worker. In subsequent testimony, Hiss claimed he had been unsuccessfully trying to get rid of the car, which he said was virtually worthless, when he gave it to Chambers as part of a deal to sublet an apartment to Chambers in 1935.

To support Chambers' story, committee investigators turned up motor vehicle records which showed that Hiss had not purchased a new car to replace the Ford until September 1935, several months after Hiss had sublet his apartment to Chambers. That meant, they said, that Hiss would have left himself without a car if he had given the Ford to Chambers when he said he did. When Hiss refused to change his story, saying he did not have access to records which could sharpen his memory, committee members were openly scornful.

Additional records turned up by the committee showed that Hiss had transferred the car's title to the Cherner Motor Company in Washington on July 23, 1936. That same day, according to the title, the car was transferred to a man named William Rosen and a chattel mortgage of $25 was placed on the car (supporting Hiss's testimony that the car was worth very little).

Contrary to Chambers' story, the Cherner Motor Company was not a service station, but rather the largest Ford agency in Washington. Subsequent investigations by the defense revealed that the company did not record the sale in its customary fashion, and records relating to the transfer of the car to Rosen were missing.

When Rosen was located, he said he had been expelled from the Party in 1929. He was subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution at the second Hiss trial. Claiming Fifth Amendement protections, he refused to answer most questions put to him. He did say, however, that he had never met Alger Hiss or J. Peters. He also said he was not in Washington when the transfer was made. An examination of the signature on the back of the transfer revealed it was not Rosen's.