* Soviet spies in America Whittaker Chambers

Cold War Spies: Whittaker Chambers (United States, 1901-61)

Figure 1.--This is the Whittaker Chambers family at their Westminster Maryland home. The press caption read, "The Chambers' Family Fireside: Mt. and Mrs. Whittaker Chambers sit ny the fireside of their farm home near here. With them are their two children, 150year-old Ellen, and, partly hidden by the key Communist soy investigatiin wirness, 12-year-old John." The photograph was dated January 2, 1949. .

Whittaker Chambers was born Jay Vivian Chambers (1901). He was also known as David Whittaker Chambers. He was a writer and editor. He joined the Communist Party in the mid-1920s, even before the Depression which caused many to question Capitalism. He began writing for the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker (1927-29). He also wrote for the Marxist journal, The New Masses. He later becane an editor (1931-32). Soviet agents recruited him to engage in espionage activities (1932). He first opperated in New York City. He moved to Baltimore after being assigned resposibility for Communist operatives living in and around Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. This as a result was an especially important assignment. The U.S. Federal government was an obviously important target. This was also the time that Stalin had unleased the purges of the Great Terror. These were three widely publicized show trials and a series of closed, unpublicized trials held in the Soviet Union. We do not think that Chambers understood the full dimensions of the Terror, but he understood ennough. Many prominent Old Bolsheviks which had crossed Stalin or even not enthusistically supported him were arested and tortured until they confessed to non-existent crimes/ mostly treason. Those who resisted torture confessed when their families were threatened. They were executed or committed to the Gulag where most perished. Chambers was horrified and ended his association with the Communist Party (1938). Stalin stunned the world by forming an alliance with NAZI dictator Afolf Hitler -- the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact (August 1939). The War began with a high level of NAZI- Soviet Cooperation. Chambers's friends (including the journalist Herbert Solow and Soviet defector Walter Krivitsky) helped him to warn American authorities and thge public about Soviet espionage activities and infiltration of Federal agencies. He met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle, a Brain Truster (September 1939). Among others he identified Alger Hiss as a Soviet agent. Berle, under whom Hiss worked, scoffed at the charge. Berle produced meeting notes, but did not contact the FBI until several months later (March 1940). Berle's notes were quiettly filed away until they became evidence a decade later in the Hiss case. Chambers emerged as a fervent anti-Communist during the McCarthy Era. Chambers then working as editor at Time Magazine publically outed Alger Hiss, a respected member of the liberal establishment, as a fellow member of his underground Communist cell during the 1930s (August 1948). This lent currency to the Republican charges that Communists had penetrated the Truman Administration. Chambers testified in the perjury and espionage trial of Hiss. He was vilified by the Americam Left who elevated Hiss to martyred sainthood status. We now know that Hiss like the Rosenbergs were guilty as sin. There were two protracted trials. Hiss sued Chambers for slander. In the end, Hiss was finally convicted of perjury for denying his espionage activities and sentenced to 5 years in jail. This was done without the proof offered by the still secret Venona Papers. Chambers described both his espionage work and his subsequent conversion to anti-Comminism in a 1952 book. [Chambers] William F. Buckley Jr. described him as 'the most important American defector from Communism'.


Chambers, Whittaker. Witness (1952).

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Created: 6:38 AM 5/12/2020
Last updated: 6:38 AM 5/12/2020