Irving Saypol was born in New York City on 3rd September, 1905. His parents, Louis and Michakin Saypol, had been born in Russia. Saypol obtained a law degree by taking evening classes at Brooklyn Law School.
In 1934 Saypol established his own law firm. He worked as a lawyer until becoming a government prosecutor in 1945. Four years later he was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. (1) Roy Cohn, who worked for him in the 1940s described him as "a highly competent United States Attorney". (2)
After the Second World War it was decided to use the Alien Registration Act against the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA). On the morning of 20th July, 1948, Eugene Dennis, the general secretary of the CPUSA, and eleven other party leaders, included William Z. Foster, Benjamin Davis, John Gates, Robert G. Thompson, Gus Hall, Benjamin Davis, Henry M. Winston, and Gil Green were arrested and charged under the act. This law, passed by Congress in 1940, made it illegal for anyone in the United States "to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government".
Irving Saypol led the prosecution of these men. It was difficult for him to prove that the eleven men had broken the Alien Registration Act, as none of the defendants had ever openly called for violence or had been involved in accumulating weapons for a proposed revolution. The prosecution therefore relied on passages from the work of Karl Marx and other revolutionary figures from the past. When John Gates refused to answer a question implicating other people, he was sentenced by Judge Harold Medina to 30 days in jail. When Henry M. Winston and Gus Hall protested, they were also sent to prison.
The prosecution also used the testimony of former members of the CPUSA to help show that Dennis and his fellow comrades had privately advocated the overthrow of the government. According to Ted Morgan, the author of Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America (2003): "The prosecution relied on thirteen ex-Communist witnesses, several of whom were FBI infiltrators. They testified that they had been taught that the party's goals could only be achieved through violence." (3) The most important witness against the leaders of the party was Louis Budenz, the former managing editor of the party's newspaper, The Daily Worker.
After a nine month trial the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States were found guilty of violating the Alien Registration Act and sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Robert G. Thompson, because of his war record, received only three years. They appealed to the Supreme Court but on 4th June, 1951, the judges ruled, 6-2, that the conviction was legal. It was later discovered that Louis Budenz was paid $70,000 for his information during the trial. As a result of this prosecution Saypol was described by Time Magazine as "the nations's number one legal hunter of top communists." (4)
On 30th July 1948, Elizabeth Bentley appeared before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. The following day Bentley named several people she believed had been Soviet spies while working for the United States government. This included William Remington, Mary Price, Victor Perlo, Harry Dexter White, Nathan Silvermaster, Abraham George Silverman, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, Harold Glasser, Henry Hill Collins, Frank Coe, Charles Kramer and Lauchlin Currie.
Silverman, Kramer, Collins and Witt all used the Fifth Amendment defence and refused to answer any questions put by the HUAC. (5) However, one of those named, William Remington, did agree to answer questions before Congressional committees. Athan Theoharis, the author of Chasing Spies (2002), believes this was a serious mistake: "Remington's problems stemmed from two factors. First, he did not take the Fifth Amendment when responding to the committee's questions in striking contrast, for example, to Silvermaster and Perlo. Second, by then most of the individuals named by Bentley were no longer federal employees while Remington continued to hold a sensitive appointment in the Commerce Department. He was one of only three named by Bentley who was currently employed in the federal government." (6)
Remington appeared before the Homer Ferguson Senate Committee. He admitted meeting Elizabeth Bentley but denied he helped her to spy. He claimed that Bentley had presented herself as a reporter for a liberal periodical. They had discussed the Second World War on about ten occasions but had never given her classified information. The committee did not find Remington's explanation persuasive, and neither did the regional loyalty board. The board soon recommended his dismissal from the government. (7)
Elizabeth Bentley appeared before the NBC Radio's Meet the Press. One of the reporters asked her if William Remington was a member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA)? She replied: "Certainly... I testified before the committee that William Remington was a communist." To preserve his credibility Remington sued both NBC and Bentley. On 15th December, 1948, Remington's lawyers served her with the libel papers. The libel suit was settled out of court shortly thereafter, with NBC paying Remington $10,000. (8)
John Gilland Brunini, the foreman of the new grand jury investigating the charges made by Elizabeth Bentley, insisted that Ann Remington, who had divorced her husband, should appear before them. During interrogation by Bentley's lawyer, Thomas J. Donegan, Ann Remington admitted that William Remington was a member of the CPUSA and that he had provided Bentley with secret government documents. "Ann Remington was the first person from Elizabeth's espionage days who did not portray her as a fantasist and a psychopath." (9) On 18th May, 1950, Elizabeth Bentley testified before the grand jury that Remington was a communist. When he stopped spying we "hated to let him go." The grand jury now decided to indict Remington for committing perjury. (10)
Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz went on trial in November 1950. They were charged, not with espionage, but with conspiring with Harry Gold to impede a federal grand jury investigation in 1947. Although the Justice Department was aware that Brothman was only a minor agent they saw it as an important dress rehearsal for the forthcoming trial of Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell. (11) Saypol opened the trial with a statement which dealt with "the world-wide quest for communist totalitarian". He spoke of "a world communist movement whose purpose it is by treachery, deceit, infiltration by other groups, espionage, sabotage, terrorism, and other means... to establish a communist totalitarian dictatorship." Saypol told the jury that most of the trial was devoted to "evidence of activities in the interests of the Russian government, of membership and affiliation and activities connected with... the Communist Party." (12)
During the trial Brothman's lawyer explained that he had passed out unclassified blueprints as a way of drumming up business. (13) The blueprints, which were his own, sometimes were returned and sometimes were not. Elizabeth Bentley was one of the most important witnesses against Brothman. She insisted that Brothman was a secret member of the Communist Party of the United States and that she collected his dues. Bentley testified: "Usually we first had something to eat. By the time it was fairly late and then during the meal I would explain the latest Communist Party policy and theories to Mr. Brothman or he would talk a bit about himself, and then afterwards he would hand me the blueprints and sometimes he would dictate a very involved technical explanation of what the blueprints were all about." (14) Bentley also claimed that Brothman told her that "he had access to blueprints for what he termed a kettle to be made for the United States arsenal in Edgewood, Maryland. She said that Jacob Golos told her that the Soviets "would be very much interested in obtaining that particular blueprint." (15)
Harry Gold also testified against Brothman. He argued that his first meeting was on 29th September, 1941. At the second meeting, Gold told Brothman what industrial information was desired by the Soviet Union and also asked for "any and all information which Abe might find available to him regarding matters of military interest." Gold claimed that at their fourth meeting he gave him a "blueprint of a piece of chemical equipment known as an esterifier." Irving Saypol asked him what he did with this blueprint and he replied that he gave it to Semyon Semyonov. Gold also told the court that Brothman told him that he had given Golos and Bentley "plans regarding high octane gasoline, a turbine aircraft engine, and an early model of the jeep." (16)
Gold admitted that he went to work as chief chemist for Abraham Brothman in May 1946. He was promised the possibility of becoming a partner. However, the company was not profitable. Gold commented: "When there was no money, I was a partner. When there was money, I became an employee." Gold claimed that he was owed $4,000 in back salary when he left the company. Gold was eventually sacked and Brothman changed the locks to keep him out.
Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, the authors of Invitation to an Inquest (1983) pointed out: "The forgotten defendant at the trial was Miss Moskowitz. The formal charge against her, conspiring to obstruct justice, provided no details - she was not named in any of the overt acts of the indictment. The single witness against her, Harry Gold, mentioned her only infrequently and in such oblique terms that it was impossible to judge whether she had been a conscious participant in the alleged conspiracy. Gold testified that Miss Moskowitz had been present at some of the dinner and other meetings at which he and Brothman discussed their FBI interviews and grand jury appearances and indicated that she had given them her approval and encouragement, but he told almost nothing about what she had said." It emerged during his testimony, that Gold disliked Moskowitz. He claimed that she treated him badly and without sufficient dignity and was "unkind" and that he had "found her to have a violent temper" and "avoided her." (17)
Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz did not testify on their own behalf. Moskowitz argued that the reason for this was they did not want to expose the fact that they were having an affair. “He was married. I had no right to do that. And I was overcome, I guess, with humiliation that I had ever let myself get into that.” (18) The jury was not impressed by this decision and after deliberating for three hours and fifty minutes, the jury found both defendants guilty.
Judge Irving Kaufman expressed "regret that the law under which these defendants are to be sentenced is so limited and so restricted that I can only pass the sentence which I am going to pass, for I consider their offense in this case to be of such gross magnitude. I have no sympathy or mercy for these defendants in my heart, none whatsoever." He sentenced both to the maximum term permissible under the statute: Brothman, seven years and a $15,000 fine; Miss Moskowitz, two years and a $10,000 fine. (19)
Alexander Feklissov, a Soviet diplomat working as an intelligence agent in New York City later argued: "On July 29 it would be Harry Gold's former employer Abraham Brothman's turn, along with Miriam Moskowitz, his associate and mistress, to go behind bars. Neither one had anything to do with atomic espionage nor even with the Rosenberg network. Brothman, code named Konstruktor and subsequently Expert, had worked for the INO but had only provided the results of his own research, which had no military value... As for Miriam Moskowitz, while she knew of her lover's secret activities, she had taken no part in them." (20)
William Remington's trial began on 26th December 1950. According to Gary May, the author of Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) "The oak-paneled courtroom was the largest in the federal building and second home to the government's chief prosecutor of Communists, Irving Howard Saypol, who stepped up to the lectern to deliver the government's opening statement. Saypol, rotund with steely blue eyes and the manner of an undertaker, was forty-five years old... Speaking in a monotone so low that many reporters strained to catch his words." (21)
In his opening speech Irving Saypol argued: "We will prove that William W. Remington was a member of the Communist Parry, and we will prove that he lied when he denied it.... We will show his Communist Party membership from the mouths of witnesses who will take the stand before you, and from written documents which are immutable.... You will see... how, while drawing a high salary from the Government, he prostituted his position of trust... for the benefit of his Communist Party to which he was attached. For that Party we will show that he took documents and vital information from the War Production Board and turned these over to a fellow member of the Communist Party, for ultimate delivery to Russia. It will he shown ... that his adherence and his loyalty was primarily to the Russian Government.... I am confident that on the basis of the overwhelming and undisputed evidence which is about to he presented to you, you will find beyond any reasonable doubt that Remington lied to the grand jury, that he is guilty of perjury." (22)
Roy Cohn, joined the prosecution's legal team. He pointed out that the main witness against William Remington was his former wife, Ann Remington. She explained that her husband had joined the Communist Party of the United States in 1937. Ann also testified that he had been in contact with both Elizabeth Bentley and Jacob Golos. "Elizabeth Bentley later supplied a wealth of detail about Remington's involvement with her and the espionage conspiracy. Remington's defense was that he had never handled any classified material, hence could not have given any to Miss Bentley. But she remembered all the facts about the rubber-from-garbage invention. We had searched through the archives and discovered the files on the process. We also found the aircraft schedules, which were set up exactly as she said, and inter office memos and tables of personnel which proved Remington had access to both these items. We also discovered Remington's application for a naval commission in which he specifically pointed out that he was, in his present position with the Commerce Department, entrusted with secret military information involving airplanes, armaments, radar, and the Manhattan Project (the atomic bomb)." (23)
One of Remington's main witnesses was Bernard Redmont. During cross-examination Irving Saypol attempted to show that Redmont was a secret member of the Communist Party of the United States. Saypol asked him why he had changed his name from Rothenberg to Redmont. He explained that it was because "there is a certain amount of anti-Semitism in the world, unfortunately." Saypol (whose real name was Ike Sapolsky) replied "I take it you are of the Hebrew heritage?... So you wanted to conceal that by taking this other name... That is your concept of good Americanism?... As a matter of fact, it is the Communists who take the false names, isn't it?"
Saypol then went onto question Redmont about the name of his eight-year-old son, Dennis Foster Redmont. Saypol suggested that he had been named after two senior members of the CPUSA: William Z. Foster and Eugene Dennis. Redmont replied: "We named him Dennis because we liked the name. We named him Foster after... my grandfather." Saypol then suggested: "Didn't you tell some members of the Communist Party in Washington, D.C that you named your son Dennis Foster in honor of these dignitaries... of the Communist Parry?" "I certainly did not," Redmont insisted. (24)
During the trial eleven witnesses claimed they knew Remington was a communist. This included Elizabeth Bentley, Ann Remington, Professor Howard Bridgeman of Tufts University, Kenneth McConnell, an Communist organizer in Knoxville, Rudolph Bertram and Christine Benson, who worked with him at the Tennessee Valley Authority and Paul Crouch who provided him with copies of the southern edition of the communist newspaper, the Daily Worker. (25)
Remington was convicted after a seven-week trial. Judge Gregory E. Noonan handed down a sentence of five years - the maximum for perjury - noting that Remington's act of perjury had involved disloyalty to his country. One newspaper reported: "William W. Remington now joins the odiferous list of young Communist punks who wormed their way upward in the Government under the New Deal. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and he should serve every minute of it. In Russia, he would have been shot without trial." (26)
Thomas W. Swan, was highly critical of Saypol's behaviour during Remington's trial. He was especially unhappy with his cross-examination of Bernard Redmont: "We wish to admonish counsel for the prosecution that in case of a re-trial there should he no repetition of the cross-examination attack on defense witness Redmont.... Redmont testified that he had changed his name for professional reasons and that he had done so pursuant to Court order. On cross-examination the prosecutor continued his inquiry of this matter long after it became clear that the change of name had no relevancy to any issue at the trial, and could only serve to arouse possible racial prejudice on the part of the jury." (27)
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the perjury conviction on the ground that Judge Noonan's charge to the jury had been "too vague and indefinite" in defining exactly what constituted party "membership." The court, which did not touch upon the guilt or innocence of the defendant, ordered a new trial to be held. Roy Cohn was convinced that this time they would be successful as he believed the evidence was overwhelming: "He had denied turning over secret information to Elizabeth Bentley - yet she had testified that he gave documents to her and we had produced copies of some of the documents. He had denied that he had attended Communist party meetings in Knoxville - yet witness after witness, all former Communists, had come forth to swear that Remington had attended the meetings. He had denied that he had paid dues to the Communist party - yet both Miss Bentley and his own former wife had said that he did. He had denied that he had asked anyone to join the party - yet his former boss at the TVA had testified Remington had asked him. He had denied even knowing about the existence of the Young Communist League at Dartmouth while he was an undergraduate - yet a classmate had said they had discussed the organization when they were students." (28)
Irving Saypol next case was the most important post-war trial in America. The trial of Julius Rosenberg, Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell began on 6th March 1951. Saypol argued: "The evidence will show that the loyalty and alliance of the Rosenbergs and Sobell were not to our country, but that it was to Communism, Communism in this country and Communism throughout the world... Sobell and Julius Rosenberg, classmates together in college, dedicated themselves to the cause of Communism... this love of Communism and the Soviet Union soon led them into a Soviet espionage ring... You will hear our Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Sobell reached into wartime projects and installations of the United States Government... to obtain... secret information... and speed it on its way to Russia.... We will prove that the Rosenbergs devised and put into operation, with the aid of Soviet... agents in the country, an elaborate scheme which enabled them to steal through David Greenglass this one weapon, that might well hold the key to the survival of this nation and means the peace of the world, the atomic bomb." (29)
Elizabeth Bentley worked closely with Jacob Golos, Julius Rosenberg's main Soviet contact. She recalled that in the autumn of 1942 she accompanied Golos when he drove to Knickerbocker Village and told her "he had to stop by to pick up some material from a contact, an engineer." While she waited, Golos had met the contact and "returned to the car with an envelope of material."
Irving Saypol asked Bentley: "Subsequent to this occasion when you went to the vicinity of Knickerbocker Village with Golos.... did you have a telephone call from somebody who described himself as Julius?" She replied that on five of six occasions in 1942 and 1943 she received phone calls from a man called Julius. These messages were passed on to Golos. Judge Irving Kaufman commented that it would "be for the jury to infer... whether or not the Julius she spoke to... is the defendant Julius Rosenberg."
Julius Rosenberg was asked if he had ever been a member of the Communist Party on the United States. Rosenberg replied by invoking the Fifth Amendment. After further questioning he agreed that he sometimes read the party newspaper, the Daily Worker. He was also asked about his wartime views regarding the Soviet Union. He replied that he "felt that the Russians contributed the major share in destroying the Nazi army" and "should get as much help as possible." His opinion was "that if we had a common enemy we should get together commonly." He also admitted that he had been a member of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee.
Rosenberg was asked about the "mahogany console table" claimed by Ruth Greenglass to be in the Rosenberg's apartment in 1946. Rosenberg claimed he had purchased it from Macy's for $21. Irving Saypol replied: "Don't you know, Mr. Rosenberg, that you couldn't buy a console table in Macy's... in 1944 and 1945, for less than $85?" This was later found to be incorrect but at the time the impression was given that Rosenberg was lying.
The "mahogany console table" was not presented in the courtroom as evidence. It was claimed that it had been lost. Therefore it was not possible to examine it to see if Greenglass was right when she said that a portion of the table was hollow "for a lamp to fit underneath it so that the table could be used for photograph purposes." After the case had finished it the table was found and it did not have the section claimed by Greenglass. A brochure was also produced to suggest that Rosenberg might have purchased it for $21 at Macy's. (30)
Ethel Rosenberg was the final defence witness. The New York Times described her in court as a "little woman with soft and pleasant features". (54) During cross-examination she denied all allegations regarding espionage activity. She admitted that she owned a typewriter - she had purchased it when she was eighteen - and during her courtship had typed Julius's college engineering reports and prior to the birth of her first child, she did "a lot of typing" as secretary for the East Side Defense Council and the neighborhood branch of the Civil Defense Volunteer Organization. However, she insisted that she never had typed anything relating to government secrets. (31)
Irving Saypol pointed out that she had testified twice before the grand jury and both times she had invoked her constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. Much of her grand jury testimony was read in court, disclosing that many of the same questions she had refused to answer before the grand jury she later answered at her trial. The New York Times reported that she "had claimed constitutional privilege... even on questions that seemed harmless." (32) Ethel gave no specific explanation for her extensive use of the Fifth Amendment before the grand jury, but noted that both her husband and brother were under arrest at the time.
Several journalists covering the trial noticed that no FBI agents were called to testify. The reason for this was that if they appeared the lawyers could have asked questions and the answers would have been very unfavourable to the prosecution. "For instance, what was the evidence of espionage activity against Ethel Rosenberg? Just one question of this kind could make the entire structure disintegrate." (33)
Emanuel Bloch argued: "Is there anything here which in any way connects Rosenberg with this conspiracy? The FBI "stopped at nothing in their investigation... to try to find some piece of evidence that you could feel, that you could see, that would tie the Rosenbergs up with this case... and yet this is the... complete documentary evidence adduced by the Government... this case, therefore, against the Rosenbergs depends upon oral testimony."
Bloch attacked David Greenglass, the main witness against the Rosenbergs. Greenglass was "a self-confessed espionage agent," was "repulsive... he smirked and he smiled... I wonder whether... you have ever come across a man, who comes around to bury his own sister and smiles." Bloch argued that Greenglass's "grudge against Rosenberg" over money was not enough to explain his testimony. The explanation was that Greenglass "loved his wife" and was "willing to bury his sister and his brother-in-law" to save her. The "Greenglass Plot" was to lessen his punishment by pointing his finger at someone else. Julius Rosenberg was a "clay pigeon" because he had been fired from his government job for being a member of the Communist Party of the United States in 1945. (34)
In his reply, Irving Saypol, pointed out that "Mr Bloch had a lot of things to say about Greenglass... but the story of the Albuquerque meeting... does not come to you from Greenglass alone. Every word that David and Ruth Greenglass spoke on this stand about that incident was corroborated by Harry Gold... a man concerning whom there cannot even be a suggestion of motive... He had been sentenced to thirty years... He can gain nothing from testifying as he did in this courtroom and tried to make amends. Harry Gold, who furnished the absolute corroboration of the testimony of the Greenglasses, forged the necessary link in the chain that points indisputably to the guilt of the Rosenbergs."
In his summing up Judge Irving Kaufman was considered by many to have been highly subjective: "Judge Kaufman tied the crimes the Rosenbergs were being accused of to their ideas and the fact that they were sympathetic to the Soviet Union. He stated that they had given the atomic bomb to the Russians, which had triggered Communist aggression in Korea resulting in over 50,000 American casualties. He added that, because of their treason, the Soviet Union was threatening America with an atomic attack and this made it necessary for the United States to spend enormous amounts of money to build underground bomb shelters." (35)
The jury found all three defendants guilty. Thanking the jurors, Judge Kaufman, told them: "My own opinion is that your verdict is a correct verdict... The thought that citizens of our country would lend themselves to the destruction of their own country by the most destructive weapons known to man is so shocking that I can't find words to describe this loathsome offense." (36) Judge Kaufman sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the death penalty and Morton Sobell to thirty years in prison.
A large number of people were shocked by the severity of the sentence as they had not been found guilty of treason. In fact, they had been tried under the terms of the Espionage Act that had been passed in 1917 to deal with the American anti-war movement. Under the terms of this act, it was a crime to pass secrets to the enemy whereas these secrets had gone to an ally, the Soviet Union.
Saypol served on the New York Supreme Court from 1952 until 1968. In 1976 he was indicted with Judge Samuel DiFalco for bribery. (37) According to Miriam Moskowitz: "In the case the indictment covered, the Public Administrator agreed to allow an auctioneer to handle the sale of a particular estate property that he himself had previously appraised. It would bring that person substantial commissions. The candidate for the double appointment was none other than Saypol's son Roger. In return, the indictment charged, Saypol, Sr., promised to give lucrative court assignments to lawyers hand-picked by the Public Administrator. The indictment also accused the defendants of having met to discuss the use of different names to conceal the fact that Saypol's son was both appraiser and seller of a property. Subsequently, in January 1976, Saypol telephoned the Public Administrator to ask if he needed help for a lawyer the Administrator was interested in placing. The Administrator responded affirmatively. The indictment said that justice Saypol gave a patronage assignment to the lawyer named by the Public Administrator. The crimes of bribery and perjury Saypol was charged with carried a prison sentence of up to seven years. However, since the evidence against him had been based on a conversation recorded by the FBI in an illegal wiretap, the indictment was thrown out of court. Saypol suffered embarrassment and notoriety. He retired from the bench soon after." (38)
Irving Saypol died from cancer on 30th June 1977.
We will prove that William W. Remington was a member of the Communist Parry, and we will prove that he lied when he denied it.... We will show his Communist Party membership from the mouths of witnesses who will take the stand before you, and from written documents which are immutable.... You will see... how, while drawing a high salary from the Government, he prostituted his position of trust... for the benefit of his Communist Party to which he was attached. For that Party we will show that he took documents and vital information from the War Production Board and turned these over to a fellow member of the Communist Party, for ultimate delivery to Russia. It will he shown ... that his adherence and his loyalty was primarily to the Russian Government.... I am confident that on the basis of the overwhelming and undisputed evidence which is about to he presented to you, you will find beyond any reasonable doubt that Remington lied to the grand jury, that he is guilty of ... perjury.
In the course of an answer in his loyalty quiz, David Martin had sworn in 1943 that while in Knoxville he had not known many Communists" except Bill Remington. He was one of the townspeople and everyone knew him as a character. He was a young fellow who was fanatical in his political beliefs. I won't deny that he was a Communist, as that was well known, because he approached everyone and asked them to join the Communist party." This from the lips of a defense witness called by Remington. It would be a hell of a cross-examination!
Next day, Attorney Chanler called David Stone Martin as his first witness. Apparently all that Chanler had wanted to establish through him was that there was a sort of hot-rod atmosphere in Knoxville at the time, and that Remington was part of it. Direct examination was soon complete.
We had Irving Saypol all primed for cross. He asked some routine questions. Then he had Martin say that he always told the truth. If he had made statements to the Civil Service Commission years before - which he did not now recall - of course they would be the truth. He was then shown his interrogatories of 1943, which he recognized. We then read certain inconsequential ones to him. As to each answer, he impatiently asserted it was the truth - all his answers were the truth.
At this point, Saypol, smiling, walked toward the witness chair. Those in the courtroom knew that something was up, for Irving was not known for his warm treatment of defense witnesses. As defense witness Martin's own words, naming the man for whom he was testifying as an active Communist, rang through the courtroom, I knew that we had scored a devastating point. Later, while deliberating, the jury asked for a copy of this 1943 statement by Martin.
The next witness, on January 15, was Bernard Redmont, the 32-year-old journalist, whom Rauh thought was the most important defense witness. Redmont spent almost two full days on the witness stand. Chanler began by asking him about his relationship with Remington and Helen. He said that he had met Remington first in 1939, but they became good friends when he arrived in Washington in 1942. They would lunch together, and he and his wife, Joan, and young son, Dennis, often visited the Remingtons at Tauxemont. There was never any indication that the Remingtons were Communists.
"If Mrs. Remington testified here that you and your wife told her in Remington's presence that you were both Communists, she was not telling the truth was she?" Chanler asked.
"That is complete imagination," Redmont replied. It is true that I lunched occasionally with Helen Johnson, a free-lance writer, who said she did research for PM and other leftist publications, but I never gave her secret or confidential information, paid her money, or met with John Gulos.
Following a short recess, Saypol began his cross-examination, which immediately became a cruel and irresponsible attack. He noted that Chanler had asked the witness why, as a young journalism student, he had changed his name from Rothenberg to Redmont. "You say Dean Ackerman (of Columbia University) advised you to do that? Tell us what he said to you and what you said to him."
"I remember... saying that I was going into a career of journalism, and I felt that... anglicizing the name... would mean an effective and shorter byline.... His advice was that it was a good idea and he thought it should be done by court order, which we did. . . . I also remember discussing with him other questions which I will go into if your Honor thinks it is fitting, which are because of religious matters."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Saypol.
"Well," Redmont said, "there is a certain amount of anti-Semitism in the world, unfortunately."
Redmont had given Saypol the opportunity to make his point. "And you were going to hide under a phony name. Is that your idea?"
Chanler jumped up. "I Object to that, your Honor.... Mr. Saypol has tried to bring religious prejudice into this case."
"Sustained," said Noonan, but Saypol continued to pursue that line anyway.
"I take it you are of the Hebrew heritage?" "That is correct"
"So you wanted to conceal that by taking this other name. Is that the idea... "It was not a question of concealment," Redmont insisted.
"That is your concept of good Americanism?" Saypol sneered. "As a matter of fact, it is the Communists who take the false names, isn't it?"
"It is not a false name, Sir," Redmont protested. "If it were... I am sure the court would not have ordered it."
"I am sorry if I offended your sensibilities," said Irving Saypol (whose real name was Ike Sapolsky).
Saypol was also obsessed with the name of another Redmont, Bernie and Joan's eight-year-old son, Dennis Foster Redmont. Since Redmont was a suspect in the Silvermaster case, the FBI had placed a tap on his telephone; in one conversation, recorded in February 1946, Joan was talking to their friend Helen Scott about attending a Communist Party rally in Baltimore, where Party leader William Z. Foster was to speak. Jokingly, Joan said that "Denny is Bill Z's namesake." Five years later, Saypol saw nothing funny about this, or the possibility that young Redmont might have also been named after another Party official, Eugene Dennis, who, along with Foster, Saypol had prosecuted the year before. Now he intended to skewer Redmont about these alleged Communist connections.
"Did you have any admiration for (Foster)" "No, sir."
"Did You have any admiration for Dennis'" "No, sir."
Saypol then placed a copy of Dennis Foster Redmont's birth certificate in evidence as Government's Exhibit 24. "And I take it you named him Dennis and You named him Foster in recognition of some ancestor or some outstanding... American, is that right?"
"We named him Dennis because we liked the name," Redmont said. "We named him Foster after... my grandfather.... In the old country his name was Fishel, which translated into English is Foster or other similar Anglicized names."
"After whom did you name Dennis?" "After nobody."
"Just picked it out of the sky," Saypol mocked. "Yes, that is right."
"Didn't you tell some members of the Communist Party in Washington, D.C that you named your son Dennis Foster in honor of these dignitaries... of the Communist Parry?"
"I certainly did not," Redmont insisted.
"Don't you think you might want to change the boy's name now, Mr. Redmont?"
"That is absurd," Chanler yelled.
Saypol plunged ahead. "How do you spell Dennis." "D-E-N-N-I-S."
"That is the way this Communist leader spells his name, isn't it?" "I really don't know," Redmont said.
"As I remember it, the word 'Fishel' in yiddish means "little fish,' doesn't it?" asked Saypol.
Redmont did not know.
"What you were doing was making a big fish of the child by naming him after William Z. Foster. Isn't that so?"
"No, it is not," Redmont said.
We wish to admonish counsel for the prosecution that in case of a re-trial there should he no repetition of the cross-examination attack on defense witness Redmont.... Redmont testified that he had changed his name for professional reasons and that he had done so pursuant to Court order. On cross-examination the prosecutor continued his inquiry of this matter long after it became clear that the change of name had no relevancy to any issue at the trial, and could only serve to arouse possible racial prejudice on the part of the jury.
The first actual trial of any of the nine Americans arrested during 1950 and linked with the Klaus Fuchs atom-spy ring opened in New York City's federal courthouse at Foley Square on November 8 of that year before Judge Irving R. Kaufman. The defendants were Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz, both of whom pleaded innocent. The prosecutor was U. S. Attorney Irving H. Saypol, aided by three assistants including Roy M. Cohn.
Both defendants had been labeled A-spies by the press at the time of their arrest that past summer. Now newspaper headlines unabashedly heralded the start of an atomic espionage trial (Daily News: "Gold Prepares To Testify Against 2 In Atom Spy Ring" and "Bail Cancelled For 2 On Trial In Atom Plot"; Herald Tribune: "Two Go On Trial In Atomic Spy Case, Lose Bail-Saypol Links Brothman and Miss Moskowitz to `World Communist Conspiracy"').
However, Brothman and Miss Moskowitz were charged, not with espionage, but with conspiring with Harry Gold to impede a federal grand jury investigation in 1947. An additional charge against Brothman alone was that he had agreed with Gold on a false explanation of their associations with each other and others and had influenced Gold to tell this manufactured story to the grand jury.
In mid-June 1947, a federal grand jury had been convened in New York City to begin what proved to be a fruitless, year-long investigation of a tale of extensive espionage activity recounted to the FBI some time before by Elizabeth T. Bentley, a self-confessed Soviet spy courier.
In preparation for this grand jury investigation, the FBI had interviewed numerous people who might have had some knowledge of Miss Bentley's story. On May 29, 1947, two FBI agents called on Abraham Brothman at the office of his small Queens firm of consulting chemists and engineers called A. Brothman Associates. The agents brought along photos of Miss Bentley and a Jacob Golos, then deceased, who Miss Bentley had alleged was her espionage superior and lover.
The evidence will show that the loyalty and alliance of the Rosenbergs and Sobell were not to our country, but that it was to Communism, Communism in this country and Communism throughout the world... Sobell and Julius Rosenberg, classmates together in college, dedicated themselves to the cause of Communism... this love of Communism and the Soviet Union soon led them into a Soviet espionage ring... You will hear our Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Sobell reached into wartime projects and installations of the United States Government... to obtain... secret information... and speed it on its way to Russia.... We will prove that the Rosenbergs devised and put into operation, with the aid of Soviet... agents in the country, an elaborate scheme which enabled them to steal through David Greenglass this one weapon, that might well hold the key to the survival of this nation and means the peace of the world, the atomic bomb.
In 1948 the ambitious Irving Saypol had forged his way into the culture of corruption to seek the post of United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. The appointment was a political patronage position decided on by a triumvirate consisting of Generoso Pope, Sr., Carmine De Sapio and Frank Costello.
Pope was the owner of an influential Italian-language newspaper, Il Progresso. He also owned Colonial Sand & Stone Co., a construction materials supply company, and was a man to be reckoned with in the New York Democratic Party. Roy Cohn, a close friend, had had a number of business dealings with Pope and had invested money in his company. De Sapio, another friend of Roy Cohn, was head of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party organization in New York, and a close friend of Frank Costello. Costello was a mobster.
At a critical moment in the deliberations of this trio when it seemed that the appointment might go to a political rival, Saypol called on his friend, Roy Cohn, for help. Cohn jumped quickly into the situation, and the appointment went to Saypol.`
After Saypol successfully prosecuted the case against Abraham Brothman and me, he prosecuted the Rosenbergs and Sobell in March 1951 and won more convictions. He also handled the prosecution of William W. Remington and a number of other high-profile cases, and then left the United States Attorney's post to accept an appointment to the New York State Supreme Court in September 1951, an appointment also reported to have been arranged by Costello.
In May 1976, after twenty-five years on the bench, Saypol was indicted for bribery and perjury, both felonies. According to the indictment, Saypol and a member of the Manhattan Surrogate's Court met in the latter's office in November 1975 with the Public Administrator (also indicted) to trade favors.
It was the Public Administrator's job to liquidate assets of estates and preserve their maximum value when there was no will. To prevent possible collusion between the appraiser of an estate and the auctioneer, the Public Administrator adopted a policy that forbade the appraiser of an estate from also selling the same property at auction.
State Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, have enormous power. Among other duties, they can assign lawyers as referees in bankruptcy, or as guardians to minors. These are much-sought-after assignments; they usually earn the appointees handsome fees and open doors to valuable connections.
In the case the indictment covered, the Public Administrator agreed to allow an auctioneer to handle the sale of a particular estate property that he himself had previously appraised. It would bring that person substantial commissions. The candidate for the double appointment was none other than Saypol's son Roger.
In return, the indictment charged, Saypol, Sr., promised to give lucrative court assignments to lawyers hand-picked by the Public Administrator.
The indictment also accused the defendants of having met to discuss the use of different names to conceal the fact that Saypol's son was both appraiser and seller of a property.
Subsequently, in January 1976, Saypol telephoned the Public Administrator to ask if he needed help for a lawyer the Administrator was interested in placing. The Administrator responded affirmatively. The indictment said that justice Saypol gave a patronage assignment to the lawyer named by the Public Administrator.
The crimes of bribery and perjury Saypol was charged with carried a prison sentence of up to seven years. However, since the evidence against him had been based on a conversation recorded by the FBI in an illegal wiretap, the indictment was thrown out of court. Saypol suffered embarrassment and notoriety. He retired from the bench soon after.
Irving H. Saypol was seventy-one years old when he died of cancer a year after the indictment, on June 30, 1977.
(1) Gary May, Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) page 209
(3) Ted Morgan, Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America (2003) page 316
(4) David Caute, The Great Fear (1978) page 63
(5) Sam Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (1997) page 246
(6) Athan Theoharis, Chasing Spies (2002) pages 132
(7) Gary May, Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) page 119
(8) Kathryn S. Olmsted, Red Spy Queen (2002) page 148
(9) Kathryn S. Olmsted, Red Spy Queen (2002) page 158
(10) Gary May, Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) page 167
(11) Sidney Zion and Roy Cohn, The Autobiography of Roy Cohn (1989) page 66
(12) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 92
(13) Ted Morgan, Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America (2003) page 282
(14) Elizabeth Bentley, testimony at the trial of Abraham Brothman and Miriam Moskowitz (14th November, 1950)
(15) The New York Tribune (15th November, 1950)
(16) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 97
(17) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 104
(18) Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker (29th November, 2010)
(19) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 105
(20) Alexander Feklissov, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs (1999) page 252
(21) Gary May, Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) page 209
(22) Irving Saypol, speech in court at the William Remington trial (26th December, 1950)
(24) Gary May, Un-American Activities: The Trials of William Remington (1994) 238-239
(26) Washington Daily News (February, 1951)
(27) Thomas W. Swan, court opinion of the William Remington trial (22nd August, 1951)
(29) Irving Saypol, speech in court (6th March, 1951)
(30) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 148
(31) New York Times (28th March, 1951)
(32) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 150
(33) Alexander Feklissov, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs (1999) page 264
(34) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 153
(35) Alexander Feklissov, The Man Behind the Rosenbergs (1999) page 268-269
(36) Walter Schneir and Miriam Schneir, Invitation to an Inquest (1983) page 153
(38) Miriam Moskowitz, Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice (2010) pages 266-267