Laurence Duggan was born in 1905. His father, Stephen Pierce Duggan, was the head of the Institute of International Education, a major organizer of teacher and student exchanges. He studied at the Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, before graduating in 1927. (1)
Duggan became an official of the State Department's Latin Department. He married Helen Boyd, who was described as "an extraordinary beautiful woman: a typical American, tall, blonde, reserved, well-read, goes in for sports, independent". (2) Another friend commented that she was "beautiful, well balanced, capable and sure of herself, seemed the perfect counterpart to him. An excellent housekeeper and busy woman, she was an attentive and loving companion to Larry. " (3) The couple had four children.
Laurence Duggan was a supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and welcomed his victory in the 1932 Presidential Election. Duggan began meeting with other government officials who supported the New Deal. A "discussion group" was established by Harold Ware, the son of Ella Reeve Bloor, and a member of the American Communist Party and a consultant to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA). Other members included Alger Hiss, Nathaniel Weyl, Harry Dexter White, Abraham George Silverman, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, Henry H. Collins, Lee Pressman and Victor Perlo. Ware was working very close with Joszef Peter, the "head of the underground section of the American Communist Party." It was claimed that Peter's design for the group of government agencies, to "influence policy at several levels" as their careers progressed". Weyl later recalled that every member of the Ware Group was also a member of the CPUSA: "No outsider or fellow traveller was ever admitted... I found the secrecy uncomfortable and disquieting." (4)
Susan Jacoby, the author of Alger Hiss and the Battle for History (2009), has pointed out: "Hiss's Washington journey from the AAA, one of the most innovative agencies established at the outset of the New Deal, to the State Department, a bastion of traditionalism in spite of its New Deal component, could have been nothing more than the rising trajectory of a committed careerist. But it was also a trajectory well suited to the aims of Soviet espionage agents in the United States, who hoped to penetrate the more traditional government agencies, like the State, War, and Treasury Departments, with young New Dealers sympathetic to the Soviet Union (whether or not they were actually members of the Party). Chambers, among others, would testify that the eventual penetration of the government was the ultimate aim of a group initially overseen in Washington by Hal Ware, a Communist and the son of Mother Bloor... When members did succeed in moving up the government ladder, they were supposed to separate from the Ware organization, which was well known for its Marxist participants. Chambers was dispatched from New York by underground Party superiors to supervise and coordinate the transmission of information and to ride herd on underground Communists - Hiss among them - with government jobs." (5)
Whittaker Chambers was a key figure in the Ware Group: "The Washington apparatus to which I was attached led its own secret existence. But through me, and through others, it maintained direct and helpful connections with two underground apparatuses of the American Communist Party in Washington. One of these was the so-called Ware group, which takes its name from Harold Ware, the American Communist who was active in organizing it. In addition to the four members of this group (including himself) whom Lee Pressman has named under oath, there must have been some sixty or seventy others, though Pressman did not necessarily know them all; neither did I. All were dues-paying members of the Communist Party. Nearly all were employed in the United States Government, some in rather high positions, notably in the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the National Labor Relations Board, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the Railroad Retirement Board, the National Research Project - and others." (6)
Peter Gutzeit, the Soviet Consulate in New York City, was also an officer in the NKVD. In 1934 he identified Laurence Duggan as a potential recruit. Iskhak Akhmerov decided that Boris Bazarov should be the one to work with Hede Massing. Bazarov told Massing that that they wanted her to help recruit Duggan and Noel Field. The plan, suggested by Gutzeit, was to use Duggan to draw Field into the network. Gutzeit wrote on 3rd October, 1934, that Duggan "is interesting us because through him one will be able to find a way toward Noel Field... of the State Department's European Department with whom Duggan is friendly." (7)
Massing later recalled in her book, This Deception: KBG Targets America (1951): "Of the conquests I made while a Soviet agent, the one I regret most is Larry Duggan... Larry and Helen lived in the same house, on the floor below the Fields and were their most intimate friends.... Larry was, when I first heard of him, in the Latin American Division of the State Department... Larry impressed me as being an extremely tense, high-strung, intellectual young man... His wife, Helen, beautiful, well balanced, capable and sure of herself, seemed the perfect counterpart to him. An excellent housekeeper and busy woman, she was an attentive and loving companion to Larry." (8)
Massing argued that "every decent liberal has a duty to participate in the fight against" Adolf Hitler. He agreed and then she told him she was a Soviet agent and suggested that he should give her "anything of interest" in his department. Duggan said that he "doubted that there would be anything and he showed some reluctance, but promised to think it over and let me know." They had lunch together a week later: "Much to my surprise, he not only consented to work with us, but developed a complete plan, and explicit technical details of how he would collaborate with us. He was not going to hand over any document to us - that he made clear beyond a doubt. But he was willing to meet me, provided that I knew shorthand, every second week and give me verbal reports on issues of interest." (9)
Hede Massing worked with both Laurence Duggan and Noel Field. Massing wrote in This Deception: KBG Targets America (1951): "To 'develop' Noel Field was the task I was to concentrate on. I was to keep my eyes open, meet other people and report on whatever could be of value to us; but Noel was my main assignment.... I met them one evening at their own home. We hit it off extremely well. Not only was Herta Field from Germany, but the atmosphere, the whole household, was very similar to any intellectual German household that I had known. Herta and Noel were deeply concerned about fascism in Germany and were very well informed on all the political issues of importance. It was quite obvious that the first evening that Noel was a learned and astute student of Marxism." (10)
In April 1936 Massing's reported to her controller that Field had been recently approached by Alger Hiss just before he left to attend a conference in London: "Alger Hiss (she used his real name because she was unaware of his codename) let him know that he was a Communist, that he was connected with an organization working for the Soviet Union and that he knew Ernst (Field) also had connections but he was afraid they were not solid enough, and probably, his knowledge was being used in a wrong way. Then he directly proposed that Ernst give him an account of the London conference." The memorandum continued: "In the next couple of days, after having thought it over, Alger said that he no longer insisted on the report. But he wanted Ernst to talk to Larry and Helen (Duggan) about him and let them know who he was and give him (Alger Hiss) access to them. Ernst again mentioned that he had contacted Helen and Larry. However, Alger insisted that he talk to them again, which Ernst ended up doing. Ernst talked to Larry about Alger and, of course, about having told him 'about the current situation' and that 'their main task at the time was to defend the Soviet Union' and that 'they both needed to use their favorable positions to help in this respect.' Larry became upset and frightened, and announced that he needed some time before he would make that final step; he still hoped to do his normal job, he wanted to reorganize his department, try to achieve some results in that area, etc. Evidently, according to Ernst, he did not make any promises, nor did he encourage Alger in any sort of activity, but politely stepped back. Alger asked Ernst several other questions; for example, what kind of personality he had, and if Ernst would like to contact him. He also asked Ernst to help him to get to the State Department. Apparently, Ernst satisfied this request. When I pointed out to Ernst his terrible discipline and the danger he put himself into by connecting these three people, he did not seem to understand it." (11)
On 26th April, 1936, Boris Bazarov reported back to Moscow: "The result has been that, in fact, Field and Hiss have been openly identified to Duggan. Apparently Duggan also understands clearly her (Hede Massing) nature... Helen Boyd (Duggan's wife), who was present at almost all of these meetings and conversations, is also undoubtedly briefed and now knows as much as Duggan himself... I think that after this story we should not speed up the cultivation of Duggan and his wife. Apparently, besides us, the persistent Hiss will continue his initiative in this direction. In a day or two, Duggan's wife will come to New York, where she (Hede Massing) will have a friendly meeting with her. At Field's departure from Washington, Helen expressed a great wish to meet her again. Perhaps Helen will tell her about her husband's feelings." (12)
Headquarters instructed Bazarov to be certain that none of his agents undertook similar meetings across jurisdictional boundaries without your knowledge". Bazarov was particularly concerned about the behaviour of Hede Massing "knowing that her drawbacks include impetuousness". They made it very clear that they were very keen to recruit Laurence Duggan and his wife: "Therefore we believe it necessary to smooth over skillfully the present situation and to draw both of them away from Hiss... It is our fault, however, that Field, who is already our agent, has been left in her (Hede Massing) charge, a person who is unable to educate either an agent or even herself."
The NKVD was able to recruit Duggan. Massing reported back to Moscow in May 1936: "He (Duggan) said he preferred... being connected directly with us (he mentioned our country by name) because he could be more useful... and that the only thing which kept him at his hateful job in the State Department where he did not get out of his tuxedo for two weeks, every night attending a reception (he has almost 20 countries in his department), was the idea of being useful for our cause." (13)
Boris Bazarov wrote in another memo: "It is true that he is widely known as a liberal, a typical New Dealer... But that is not a problem. For the sake of security, he asked us to meet with him once a month, and he would like very much if our man knew stenography. He cannot give us documents yet, but later, apparently, he will be able to... He asked us not to tell his wife anything about his work and revealed an understanding of contact technique." Another report said that Duggan is "a very soft guy... under his wife's influence, a very lively, energetic and joyful woman. Laurence is cultured and reserved."
However, Bazarov later claimed that he changed his mind about working as a spy. Norman Borodin, who replaced Hede Massing as his main contact after she left for Paris, reported that he was having doubts because "his wife was pregnant, and he had to think about his family's well-being." Borodin added: "Sooner or later... the authorities would discover his meetings with me, and then he would be fired from the State Department and blacklisted."
A few weeks later Duggan was handing over documents to the NKVD. Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999), has pointed out: "Duggan began delivering U.S. diplomatic dispatches from European embassies, among them U.S. diplomatic dispatches from European embassies, reports on State Department perspectives on the Spanish Civil War, and a confidential cable from Ambassador Bullitt in Moscow recommending reforms at State in the event of a new world war." (14)
It was suggested that Duggan should be paid money for his information. Boris Bazarov reported back to Moscow: "You ask whether it is timely to switch him to a payment? Almost definitely he will reject money and probably even consider the money proposal as an insult. Some months ago Borodin wanted to give Duggan a present on his birthday. He purchased a beautiful crocodile toiletries case with (Duggan's) monograms, engraved. The latter categorically refused to take this present, stating that he was working for our common ideas and making it understood that he was not helping us for any material interest." (15)
By the summer of 1937, over forty intelligence agents serving abroad were summoned back to the Soviet Union. Walter Krivitsky realised that his life was in danger. Alexander Orlov, who was based in Spain, had a meeting with fellow NKVD officer, Theodore Maly, in Paris, who had just been recalled to the Soviet Union. He explained his concern as he had heard stories of other senior NKVD officers who had been recalled and then seemed to have disappeared. He feared being executed but after discussing the matter he decided to return and take up this offer of a post in the Foreign Department in Moscow. General Yan Berzin, Dmitri Bystrolyotov and Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, were also recalled. Maly, Antonov-Ovseenko and Berzen were all executed. (16)
Most of these were executed. Ignaz Reiss was ordered back to Moscow but as he knew what was going on he refused to return. In August he wrote a series of letters that he gave in to the Soviet Embassy in Paris explaining his decision to break with the Soviet Union because he no longer supported the views of Stalin's counter-revolution and wanted to return to the freedom and teachings of Lenin. "Up to this moment I marched alongside you. Now I will not take another step. Our paths diverge! He who now keeps quiet becomes Stalin's accomplice, betrays the working class, betrays socialism. I have been fighting for socialism since my twentieth year. Now on the threshold of my fortieth I do not want to live off the favours of a Yezhov. I have sixteen years of illegal work behind me. That is not little, but I have enough strength left to begin everything all over again to save socialism. ... No, I cannot stand it any longer. I take my freedom of action. I return to Lenin, to his doctrine, to his acts." These letters were addressed to Joseph Stalin and Abram Slutsky. (17)
Ignaz Reiss became concerned that he would also be eliminated. Richard Deacon, the author of A History of the Russian Secret Service (1972) has pointed out: "Ignace Reiss suddenly realised that before long he, too, might well be next on the list for liquidation. He had been loyal to the Soviet Union, he had carried out all tasks assigned to him with efficiency and devotion, but, though not a Trotskyite, he was the friend of Trotskyites and opposed to the anti-Trotsky campaign. One by one he saw his friends compromised on some trumped-up charge, arrested and then either executed or allowed to disappear for ever. When Reiss returned to Europe he must already have known that he had little choice in future: either he must defect to safety, or he must carry on working until he himself was liquidated." (18)
Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999) has pointed out that Hede Massing had worked for Reiss and that he had "been informed about various American agents of the NKVD... Protecting Soviet agents in the U.S. government as well as in Europe, therefore, required killing Ignatz Reiss before he denounced figures such as Duggan and Field." (19) On 15th August, 1937, Iskhak Akhmerov sent a message to Moscow: "(Reiss) knew about (Duggan) and his wife.... Also, apparently, Reiss, being at your place at home (NKVD headquarters in Moscow), became acquainted with personnel files of our network." Akhmerov pointed out that Reiss and his wife, Elsa Poretsky, also knew about Hede Massing and Noel Field. (20) On 11th September, 1937, NKVD officials in Moscow informed Iskhak Akhmerov: "(Reiss) is liquidated, but not yet his wife. So far, we do not know to what extent she knows about (Duggan) and what steps she will take in future. Now the danger that (Duggan) will be exposed because of (Reiss) is considerably decreased." (21)
Duggan became very concerned with the Great Purge that was taking place in the Soviet Union. He brought this up with his controllers in the United States. Norman Borodin wrote to headquarters on 2nd July, 1937: "Duggan cannot understand events in the USSR... the disclosure of Trotskyite-fascist spies in almost all the branches of industry and in the state institutions embarrass him enormously. People he had learned to respect turn out to be traitors to their motherland and to the socialist cause... He repeats again and again: he cannot understand it, he is embarrassed, he cannot sleep... He does not want to work for a country where something happens that he does not understand." According to Borodin, Duggan saw these events as an "incomprehensible nightmare." (22)
Duggan asked to meet Hede Massing "to discuss all of his doubts with her." Iskhak Akhmerov, the station chief, told Borodin that this must not happen. Duggan was eventually told that the reason for this was that it would compromise his security. Duggan was now a very important figure in the network as he recently had been promoted to the post of head of the State Department's Latin American division. Moscow sent a message to Akhmerov: "All the puzzling questions from Duggan must receive exhaustive answers from you. Leave nothing unclear... We cannot lose him for any reason." (23)
On 23rd August, 1937, Akhmerov reported: "Ideologically (Duggan) is not our solidly formed man yet. He lives and circulates in the circle of State Department officials who represent a privileged and conservative caste in Washington. He reads mainly newspapers of the anti-Soviet kind and, being exceptionally busy, he cannot read Marxist literature or our brother press. Undoubtedly, these circumstances play a major role in his vacillations, which, thus far, have not disappeared." (24)
Despite his reservations about the Soviet government, Laurence Duggan continued to supply the NKVD with documents. Akhmerov informed Moscow that on "August 30... he (Duggan) passed me cables for over an hour, approximately 60 pages which I photographed and include in this mail. The second part of the documents, about 100 pages, he gave me at a third meeting on September 13... Thus far I meet with him to receive documents about once a fortnight." (25)
Duggan was friendly with Diego Rivera and in October 1937. Iskhak Akhmerov was aware that Leon Trotsky was living with Rivera and urged him not to be "taken in" by the leader of the opposition. Duggan continued to question what was happening in the Soviet Union. On 3rd January 1938 Akhmerov reported: "He (Duggan) claims he cannot digest events in the Soviet Union... He thinks something is fundamentally wrong, since there cannot be so many members of the Right and Left oppositions who became traitors." (26)
In March 1938, the Deputy Secretary of State warned him that some members of the security staff had expressed concerns about his political views. He was told "it does not befit a person of your status to have Marxist books". Duggan was warned about having left-wing friends and that he should "be exceptionally careful in your contacts". Duggan expressed fears to Akhmerov that he was being investigated as a spy. (27)
In August 1939, Isaac Don Levine arranged for Whittaker Chambers to meet Adolf Berle, one of the top aides to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He later wrote in Witness: "The Berles were having cocktails. It was my first glimpse of that somewhat beetle-like man with the mild, intelligent eyes (at Harvard his phenomenal memory had made him a child prodigy). He asked the inevitable question: If I were responsible for the funny words in Time. I said no. Then he asked, with a touch of crossness, if I were responsible for Time's rough handling of him. I was not aware that Time had handled him roughly. At supper, Mrs. Berle took swift stock of the two strange guests who had thus appeared so oddly at her board, and graciously bounced the conversational ball. She found that we shared a common interest in gardening. I learned that the Berles imported their flower seeds from England and that Mrs. Berle had even been able to grow the wild cardinal flower from seed. I glanced at my hosts and at Levine, thinking of the one cardinal flower that grew in the running brook in my boyhood. But I was also thinking that it would take more than modulated voices, graciousness and candle-light to save a world that prized those things." (28)
After dinner Chambers told Berle about NKVD agents working for the government: "Around midnight, we went into the house. What we said there is not in question because Berle took it in the form of penciled notes. Just inside the front door, he sat at a little desk or table with a telephone on it and while I talked he wrote, abbreviating swiftly as he went along. These notes did not cover the entire conversation on the lawn. They were what we recapitulated quickly at a late hour after a good many drinks. I assumed that they were an exploratory skeleton on which further conversations and investigation would be based." (29)
It has been claimed by the authors of Stalin's Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government (2012) the list included Laurence Duggan, Joszef Peter, Harold Ware, Alger Hiss, Nathaniel Weyl, Lauchlin Currie, Donald Hiss, Noel Field, Harry Dexter White, Nathan Witt, Marion Bachrach, Julian Wadleigh, John Abt, Henry H. Collins, Lee Pressman and Victor Perlo. (30)
According to Chambers, Berle reacted to the news about Hiss with the comment: "We may be in this war within forty-eight hours and we cannot go into it without clean services." John V. Fleming, has argued in The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books that Shaped the Cold War (2009) Chambers had "confessed to Berle the existence of a Communist cell - he did not yet identify it as an espionage team - in Washington." Berle, who was in effect the president's Director of Homeland Security, raised the issue with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "who profanely dismissed it as nonsense." (31)
Despite his fears Duggan continued to supply the Soviets with classified material. In December 1938 Akhmerov reported that: "I would meet Duggan in the evening in a decent quiet bar, or he very often picked up in his car. We drove to a dark area and talked in the car... He would pass them (State cables) in the afternoon on his way to lunch. I would photograph them in about an hour and a half and pass them back. That was due to the fact that he had to return them to the State Department archive on the same day." (32)
On 2nd October 1939, Duggan claimed he had been approached by the State Department's chief security officer had approached him asserting that they "had information that he had cooperated with Soviet intelligence, providing the latter with secret materials and secret information. Further, the assistant claimed that it would be better for him if he found another job." Duggan claimed that a member of the network must be a traitor and that in future he would only "work openly within American leftist circles". (33)
It is not clear if Duggan was telling the truth about being investigated by security as in January 1940 he was appointed as personal adviser for Latin America to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. When the Soviet government became aware of this they told Iskhak Akhmerov to resume contact with Duggan. On 26th November, 1942, he was told that Duggan "undoubtedly has access to many materials of paramount interest for us" and could also provide "valuable oral information" based on discussions with his colleagues. Moscow demanded that Akhmerov remind Duggan of his moral commitments" to Soviet intelligence and to say "we do not mean to blackmail him with the fact that in the past he gave us documentary materials." (34)
In July 1944 Laurence Duggan resigned his post and joined the newly organized United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration as a diplomatic adviser. After the war Duggan replaced his father, Stephen Pierce Duggan, as head of the Institute of International Education. It was later reported by Time Magazine "since 1946 he had held a $15,000-a-year job as president of the Carnegie-financed Institute of International Education, which provided for a flow of exchange students between the U.S. and foreign countries." (35)
Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers both named Laurence Duggan as a Soviet spy when they testified before the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Hede Massing had also told FBI agent, Robert J. Lamphere, that Duggan had provided secret documents to NKVD agents. Lamphere pointed out in The FBI-KGB War (1986): "The previous summer Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers had testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the shock waves from their testimony still held the headlines. In those hearings Chambers had made allegations about Alger Hiss, and when the HUAC started looking into Hiss, one of the names that came up was Laurence Duggan, a former colleague of Hiss's at the State Department who was now president of the Institute of International Education. That development hadn't surprised me, because I knew of Larry Duggan-Hede Massing had recruited him to spy for the KGB, and had told me (rather reluctantly) that she'd done so." (36)
On 11th December, 1948, the FBI questioned Duggan about information that he was a Soviet spy. On 20th December, Laurence Duggan fell to his death from the sixteenth floor of his office building. Time Magazine reported: "In the raw, early darkness of a Christmas-week evening, Manhattan's slushy 45th Street rustled with the shuffling sound and movement of people. Fifth Avenue's traffic brayed and rumbled close by. But the opened window, 16 floors above the din, was just an anonymous rectangle of light - one of thousands held by the city's glowing towers against the black sky. No one in the streets noticed the man who was silhouetted in its frame. No one saw him start his long, tumbling drop to the street. He fell on a heap of dirty snow. Passersby stopped, turned, and saw him then; a thin, black-haired man lying broken and dying." (37)
Robert J. Lamphere was distressed when he heard the news that Laurence Duggan's close friend, broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, "charged over the airwaves that Duggan had been hounded to his death by the FBI." He also pointed out that the New York Herald Tribune published a poem by Archibald MacLeish on Duggan: "God help that country where informers thrive! / Where slander flourishes and lies contrive." (38)
Larry (Duggan) impressed me as being an extremely tense, high-strung, intellectual young man. His wife, Helen, beautiful, well balanced, capable and sure of herself, seemed the perfect counterpart to him. An excellent housekeeper and busy woman, she was an attentive and loving companion to Larry.
Where I could clearly see the reasons, the motivations, for Noel's need for an activity outside of his work and personal life, it struck me as strange from the very start as far as Larry was concerned. Larry's life with Helen, their unquestioned compatibility, his obvious success at so young an age, seemed not to warrant such outside activities.
He seemed so much more a part of the American scene. His background, his interests, were different from those of Noel. Noel was still partly European; though probably both of his parents were born in this country, he was of an English mother and Swiss father. But he had lived and had been educated abroad.
I reported about the Duggans in the regular routine way to Fred (Boris Bazarov). I did not fancy him at all interested in someone who worked in the Latin American Department. But I was quickly straightened out on that point when Fred said, ironically, "The world does not begin and end with fascism, Hede! We are interested in the whole world - even in Latin America." And so to my "Assignment Field" was added Duggan.
Larry was well informed about me through Noel and when I first spoke to him about "every decent liberal has a duty to participate in the fight against the menace, Hitler," I found, naturally, complete agreement. It was much easier to talk to Larry than it had been to Noel. It was less personal, less involved, more political in a way. By his terminology and the timbre of discussion I gathered eyed that he either had been a Socialist, or had at least given time and thought to the Socialist idea.
I approached him much sooner and much more directly than I would have dared to with Noel, and brought my request to help us by letting us know "anything of interest" in his department. He doubted that there would be anything and he showed some reluctance, but promised to think it over and let me know.
It was considered a very favorable reaction by Fred and we decided to wait for a while and not to press him. When I saw him next, which was after a memorable trip by car with the Fields and Helen Duggan (where we stopped in Baltimore to eat a famous oyster stew that made me deathly sick) I reminded him that he had wanted to "think it over."
About a week later I phoned his office and asked him to have lunch with me. He seemed pleased. I picked him up and we went to the Club Oasis.
And here, much to my surprise, he not only consented to work with us, but developed a complete plan, and explicit technical details of how he would collaborate with us. He was not going to hand over any document to us - that he made clear beyond a doubt. But he was willing to meet me, provided that I knew shorthand, every second week and give me verbal reports on issues of interest.
When I explained that my function was that of a recruiting officer operating under supervision of a higher functionary, and that t could connect him with someone else, he again stressed the technical requirements. Good English and shorthand. He had no time to waste.
It was a great success. Fred was very pleased. I must admit that I was filled with pride. Fred thought that it called for a celebration. This took place at Gerda's house and was elegant, elaborate, and strictly entre nous, Bill, Fred, Anton, Gerda, and myself. There was sukaski, vodka, caviar, borscht, champagne. Fred drank little, just enough to be able to beam without restraint, lift his glass and toast me: "Kakoye chelavyek!" What a girl! he said.
I saw Larry just once more to make arrangements for the meeting with "my friend." He himself described the meeting place, in a parked car on the outskirts of Washington. He seemed pleased by the evidence of decentralization, when he learned that I was not to be present, and indeed, had no idea who the man would be who was going to work with him. He thought that to be a sign of a well-organized machine and liked it. We had agreed at the outset of our arrangements that Helen was not to know about it. This, too, pleased him.
My assignment with reference to Duggan was at an end. I dropped out.
But I could not help asking Fred a week or so after the supposed meeting with Larry had taken place, how it had come off, unconspiratorial as it was. He was worried, but did not say why.
Several weeks passed, when Fred said to me, "You. know that fellow," even when we were alone, he would not mention the name of a co-worker, "he makes difficulties."
"What sort of difficulties?" I asked.
Fred was not ready to tell me.
"You probably did not send the right man to handle him, probably he did not meet the conditions!"
"I don't know," Fred said, "you might have to see him once more and talk to him."
Fred never mentioned Duggan again. He did not send me to see him.
While Lawrence Duggan continued providing State Department documents to the NKVD throughout 1937, as attested by the cable traffic between Moscow and its American stations, a high-ranking defector from Soviet intelligence in Europe threatened to reveal not only Duggan's role as an agent but that of many other operatives and sources throughout Western Europe and the United States. Ignatz Reiss (code-named "Raymond"), the head of NKVD operations in Europe based in Paris, had broken his ties to Moscow in July 1937 because of the threat to his security and that of his family posed by Stalin's ever-expanding purges in the USSR, which had even reached into the foreign intelligence networks.
Hedda Gumperz and Paul Massing, after leaving the United States, had worked for Reiss. Through their briefings, Reiss had been informed about various American agents of the NKVD. Itzhak Akhmerov responded on August 15, 1937, to his superiors' inquiry about American sources known to Reiss by noting that "(Reiss) knew about (Duggan) and his wife.... Also, apparently, Reiss, being at your place at home (NKVD headquarters in Moscow), became acquainted with personnel files of our network." The Reisses, Akhmerov continued, had also socialized with Noel Field and his wife, Herta, in Switzerland through introductions by the Massings: "Also, take into account that Field ] is a friend of (Duggan's). It is very important to keep (Field) in our hands. If (Field) is compromised in connection with (Reiss's) disclosures, apparently (Duggan) will be frightened and will want to break contact with us. In his time, (Field) recommended [Duggan] to us." Protecting Soviet agents in the U.S. government as well as in Europe, therefore, required killing Ignatz Reiss before he denounced figures such as Duggan and Field.
Shortly before defecting with his wife and children, Reiss had delivered a letter to the Soviet Embassy in Paris addressed to the USSR's Central Committee in Moscow. The defector stated that he was "returning to freedom - back to Lenin, to his teachings and his cause," in short, breaking with Stalin's leadership. It took two months of diligent pursuit before a pair of NKVD assassins caught up with Reiss at a restaurant near Lausanne, Switzerland. On September 4, 1937, Reiss's pursuers seized him, shoved him into their car, and (according to NKVD official Pavel Sudoplatov's later account) promptly ended his life: "Three miles from the restaurant they shot Ignatz Reiss and left him on the roadside."
On September 11, 1937, NKVD officials in Moscow informed Akhmerov: "(Reiss) is liquidated, but not yet his wife. So far, we do not know to what extent she knows about (Duggan) and what steps she will take in future. Now the danger that (Duggan) will be exposed because of (Reiss) is considerably decreased."
Soviet intelligence had begun to depend upon well-placed agents within the State Department, such as the NKVD's Laurence Duggan and Noel Field and the GRU's Alger Hiss, to provide vital information from America's "neutral" diplomatic outposts regarding the capabilities and intentions of Germany and Japan. The Soviet Union understandably viewed both countries as its potential "main enemies" in an Atlantic-Pacific war, the approach of which Moscow believed probable if not yet inevitable.
Duggan in particular proved extremely helpful at this time. At a March 19, 1937, meeting, he gave Borodin a letter he had received recently from Joseph C. Green, head of State's Office of Arms and Munitions Control, which Green in turn had received from the Navy Department: "This letter said the navy knew that U.S. plants were now receiving large war orders from many countries," Borodin reported to Moscow, "in particular the USSR and Turkey.... In principle, the navy does not object to filling the orders ... but it categorically objects to carrying out war orders for the USSR since it reckons that the latter is a potential enemy."
The following month, Duggan provided information from Green's files on foreign war orders in the United States, which elicited this rare compliment from Moscow: "We can ascertain your success in working with (Duggan)," who by then was becoming fearful of continuing to pursue departmental information in areas other than his direct Latin American responsibilities, as Borodin informed Moscow in late May: "(Duggan I thinks that now trying to acquire similar folders with German, Japanese, and British or Italian orders would be like 'playing with fire.' We'll see in future, but now, in his opinion, Green must be left in peace. We completely approved his point of view."
That same month, however, Duggan passed other documents to Borodin, including some dealing with arms purchased by Spanish government officials in Mexico and a copy of a U.S. Embassy report from Berlin. He also described confidential discussions of peace prospects undertaken on Roosevelt's and Secretary of State Cordell Hull's behalf in Europe by an American diplomat.
Ideologically (Duggan) is not our solidly formed man yet. He lives and circulates in the circle of State Department officials who represent a privileged and conservative caste in Washington. He reads mainly newspapers of the anti-Soviet kind and, being exceptionally busy, he cannot read Marxist literature or our brother press. Undoubtedly, these circumstances play a major role in his vacillations, which, thus far, have not disappeared."
The previous summer Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers had testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the shock waves from their testimony still held the headlines. In those hearings Chambers had made allegations about Alger Hiss, and when the HUAC started looking into Hiss, one of the names that came up was Laurence Duggan, a former colleague of Hiss's at the State Department who was now president of the Institute of International Education. That development hadn't surprised me, because I knew of Larry Duggan-Hede Massing had recruited him to spy for the KGB, and had told me (rather reluctantly) that she'd done so.
In the raw, early darkness of a Christmas-week evening, Manhattan's slushy 45th Street rustled with the shuffling sound and movement of people. Fifth Avenue's traffic brayed and rumbled close by. But the opened window, 16 floors above the din, was just an anonymous rectangle of light - one of thousands held by the city's glowing towers against the black sky. No one in the streets noticed the man who was silhouetted in its frame. No one saw him start his long, tumbling drop to the street.
He fell on a heap of dirty snow. Passersby stopped, turned, and saw him then; a thin, black-haired man lying broken and dying. The curious gathered, and with them blue-overcoated policemen. Then an ambulance nosed up.
At the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, he was given back his name: his billfold showed that he was Laurence Duggan, 43, of suburban Scarsdale. The routine of police process widened out, reaching for the rest of the story. He was an educated man (Exeter and Harvard 1927). He had a wife and four children. He had spent 14 years in the State Department, nine as head of the Latin American Division, four as adviser on political relations. Since 1946 he had held a $15,000-a-year job as president of the Carnegie-financed Institute of International Education, which provided for a flow of exchange students between the U.S. and foreign countries.
But none of this explained his death. Police, who hurried to the Institute's 16th floor offices, found few clues. Duggan's brown tweed overcoat and his briefcase (which contained a ticket for an airplane trip to Washington the next day) were placed near his desk. His left overshoe was on the floor; he had been wearing only the right one when he fell. Police found no note.
One of the two windows of his office was open. Measuring, the police found that it was raised 28 inches, was 44 inches wide. Its sill was 33 inches above the floor. Was it possible that Duggan, who was slight, but fairly tall (5 ft. 10 in., 140 Ibs.), could have fallen out? How? Or had he jumped? Why?
The police had no quick answers. But when the news of Duggan's death reached Washington, South Dakota's headline-hunting Republican Congressman Karl E. Mundt decided excitedly that he had them all. He called a midnight press conference and made a sensational announcement.
Duggan's name, Mundt said, had cropped up at a secret hearing held by the House Committee on Un-American Activities early in December. At that time, Russian-born Isaac Don Levine, an ex-Hearstling who edits the anti-Communist publication Plain Talk and who collaborated with General W. G. Krivitsky on his memoirs, had made a damaging charge. He said that in 1939 he had heard ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers tell former Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle that Duggan was one of six men from whom Communists had obtained secret documents.
Mundt was asked when the committee would disclose the rest of the six names. His reply put him on a par with J. Parnell Thomas as a stumbling block to a just and objective investigation of Communist activities in the U.S. "We will give them out," he wisecracked, "as they jump out of windows."
The next day the FBI announced that it had questioned Duggan at his home only ten days before his death. It was a "routine" interview, said the FBI.
Then from Washington, onetime Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, who had been Duggan's immediate superior in the State Department, sent a telegram to New York's Mayor O'Dwyer which said: "I find it impossible to believe his death was self-inflicted . . . I hope you will take every step . . . to find out whether there may not be some other explanation." Mayor O'Dwyer, further spurred by superheated newspaper stories which darkly suggested foul play, put 33 detectives on the case.
Duggan's family believed that he had opened the window to get air, had slipped or fainted, and had fallen. In Scarsdale, his widow, Mrs. Helen Boyd Duggan, a onetime advertising executive, angrily told newsmen: "I deny that my husband had anything to do with Whittaker Chambers or... with spying. It's the biggest lot of hooey I ever heard. It just isn't so - any part of it."
When newsmen caught up with Whittaker Chambers, after yet another session before the New York grand jury investigating Communist activities, he told them that he had never met Duggan, had never received documents from him, had no personal knowledge that he was a Communist. Next day he augmented his statement, without clarifying it, by adding that he had nevertheless "found it necessary to give Duggan's name to Mr. Berle."
So far as hard-digging newsmen were concerned, there was no more solid evidence that Duggan had had knowing contact with Communist espionage. There were indications that he had been friendly with a former State Department official named Noel Field, identified last summer in testimony by Chambers as a member of a Communist apparatus. The New York Daily News quoted Alger Hiss as saying that Duggan was a very good friend of his and that he was a "victim of persecution." Hiss later denied having made the statement.
The charges and countercharges were a torpedo blast to the Un-American Activities Committee, which had taken a new lease on life by proving that its espionage investigation was something more than a "red herring." California's G.O.P. Congressman Richard Nixon beat a quick, strategic retreat via a television broadcast. Said he: "Whittaker Chambers' statement clears Duggan of any implication in the espionage ring." Democratic committee members tore at Mundt like wolves snapping at a fallen fellow. Said Congressman F. Edward Hébert of New Orleans: "... a blunder... a breach of confidence." Mississippi's loudmouthed old John Rankin cried, self-righteously: "Atrocious."
Attorney General Tom Clark also spoke up. "The evidence (gathered by the FBI) discloses," he said, "that Mr. Duggan was a loyal employee of the United States Government." Later this week on a television program, he added that Duggan had been approached ten years ago by "two persons," but that Duggan had "repulsed them both" and that "we have found no connection between him and any espionage."
His death was still unexplained. At week's end the New York police department made public the result of its special investigation: "Mr. Duggan either accidentally fell or jumped."
When Duggan's name was mentioned prominently in 1948, other FBI agents questioned him; ten days later he apparently committed suicide by jumping out of a Manhattan hotel window. This death, coupled with the death by heart attack of Harry Dexter White, who had been named before the HUAC by both Bentley and Chambers, and who had been grilled by the committee harshly, incensed many people. I, too, was disturbed by Larry Duggan's death, but wasn't losing any sleep over it because I knew from my work with Hede Massing that he'd been a Soviet spy. I guess that's why I could hardly believe my ears when Duggan's close friend, broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, charged over the airwaves that Duggan had been hounded to his death by the FBI. Murrow made the man seem like a martyr, and acted as if there had been no basis for the FBI's ever having investigated Duggan as a spy. Then I could hardly believe my eyes as I read in the pages of the New York Herald Tribune a poem by Archibald MacLeish that referred in passing to Hiss and Duggan by saying: "God help that country where informers thrive! / Where slander flourishes and lies contrive."