Peter Gutzeit was an officer in the NKVD. He was sent to run the Soviet spy network in 1933. One of his first recruits was Boris Morros, who told Gutzeit that he was a movie director at Paramount Pictures and offered to assist Soviet organizations in the United States. Gutzeit reported back to Moscow that "during a conversation with Morros, I got the impression that he might be used to place our operatives in Paramount offices situated in every country and big city."
Morros was handed over to Gaik Ovakimyan who asked Morros to place an NKVD operative in the Paramount office in Berlin. "Morros claimed that he was ready to arrange this when there was an opportunity... and that he would recommend this man as his good acquaintance." On 21st August 1934 Morros informed Ovakimyan that he would be able to do this as long as the agent was not Jewish. Eventually the Soviet agent, Vassily Zarubin, took the post and became one of those working in Nazi Germany.
Morros now told Peter Gutzeit that he had been promoted to "director of the firm's entire production in Hollywood". Gutzeit reported to Moscow that "we asked Morros about taking one or two people for training in his studios." Gutzeit went to visit Morros in Hollywood. Gutzeit phoned him at his office and later recalled that "by the tone of his voice I felt he was not very pleased about my arrival." He carried out some research into Morros and discovered he was only "a director of the musical sub-department of the firm's production department". Morros admitted that he had lied about his power in the film industry. Gutzeit reported that Morros wanted to break with the NKVD. However, Gutzeit was not willing for him to do this and reported to Moscow: "We are not going to leave him, and in 2-3 months will meet with him again and seek the contribution he promised.
Gutzeit later reported: "Morros considers himself a political friend of the USSR and is ready to render any help he can. He was never paid. Due to the character of his work, Morros could be used as a talent-spotter for recruiting people he knows in Hollywood, who could be useful in our work and for providing covers for our illegals working in other countries... He has exceptionally wide connections among actors and movie people in Hollywood... Developing Morros's connections may yield interesting results."
In August 1935, Gutzeit reported that he had arranged the infiltration of two agents into the anti-Bolshevik Russian community in the United States. He explained that in America these groups were small and fragmented and "lacked backbone" and funding.
Gutzeit was warned on 14th September, 1935 by the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee to be very careful about recruiting new agents. He was warned that "the slightest trouble in this direction can cause serious consequences of an international character affecting relations not only between us and the country of your residence... The work demands particular operational characteristics: (a) maximum caution; (b) observation of the rules of security; (c) caution and purposefulness in the selection of agents."
One of Gutzeit's targets was William Randolph Hearst. In response to Gutzeit's view that Hearst was under "German influence" he was asked by his superiors based in Moscow to "acquire compromising material on Hearst concerning his connection (especially financial) with the Nazis." Gutzeit replied that he would "try to acquire an internal source at Hearst's organization standing close to the head of this concern". It is not clear if Gutzeit managed to do this but he did send back compromising information on Hearst from an unnamed reporter working for the New York Post.
In December 1937 Samuel Dickstein had a meeting with the Soviet ambassador Alexander Troyanovsky to the United States. Troyanovsky's reported back to Moscow: "Congressman Dickstein - Chairman of the House committee on Nazi activities in the U.S. came to the Ambassador and let him know that while investigating Nazi activities in the U.S., his agents unmasked their liaison with Russian Fascists living in the U.S." Dickstein promised to pass on information on these "fascists" for which "he would need 5-6 thousand dollars". Gaik Ovakimyan, NKVD's New York station chief, was asked to investigate Dickstein. He reported that Dickstein was "heading a criminal gang that was involved in shady businesses, selling passports, illegal smuggling of people, and getting the citizenship."
Nikolai Yezhov gave permission for Troyanovsky to agree a deal with Dickstein. However, there was a dispute over money. Dickstein demanded $2,500 a month but initially the NKVD was only willing to pay $500. After lengthy negotiations, Dickstein agreed to a compromise monthly payment of $1,250 in exchange for his assistance, which, he reiterated, came only "out of sympathy toward the Soviet Union". Although they saw he was potentially a valuable agent, they disliked the idea that he was motivated by money. Most agents were ideological who not only did not ask for money, but refused it when offered and accepted it with great reluctance as payment for expenses. To show its disgust, the NKVD gave Dickstein the codename ZHULIK (CROOK).
Gutzeit became Dickstein's handler. He reported on 25th May, 1937: "We are fully aware whom we are dealing with. CROOK is completely justifying his code name. This is an unscrupulous type, greedy for money, consented to work because of money, a very cunning swindler.... Therefore it is difficult for us to guarantee the fulfillment of the planned program even in the part which he proposed to us himself."
On 26th May, 1938, the United States House of Representatives authorized the formation of a successor to the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, by a 191 to 41 vote. "The Speaker of the House of Representatives is authorized to appoint a special committee to be composed of seven members for the purpose of conducting an investigation of (1) the extent, character, and object of un-American propaganda activities in the United States, (2) the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic origin and attacks the principle of the form of government as guaranteed by the Constitution, and (3) all other questions in relations thereto that would aid Congress in any necessary remedial legislation."
The first chairman of the Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was Martin Dies. Dickstein did not manage even to gain a seat on the new committee. Walter Goodman, the author of The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1968), argued: "Despite this setback, no cause took more of Dickstein's energies or his passion, than the creation of a committee to investigate subversive activities. If any man deserves the title of Father of the Committee, it is Representative Dickstein. He earned the distinction by relentlessly trying to create such a committee from 1933 to 1938 and had the rest of his life to regret it."
The NKVD was disappointed when Samuel Dickstein was not appointed to the HUAC. Peter Gutzeit wrote that Dickstein "won't be able to carry out measures planned by us together with him." He did provide transcripts of its hearings, lists of American Nazis and details of the war budget, but this was not enough to justify his handsome salary. Dickstein told Gutzeit: "If there was no trust, it was impossible to work. For illustration he told that for some years he had worked for Poland and everything was OK. He was paid money without any questions. A couple of years ago he worked for the English and was paid good money without any questions. Everything was delicate and on the sly. Our case is only trouble.... Apparently, he really managed to fool the Poles and the English -i.e., to promise something substantial and to limit himself to rubbish."
Gutzeit complained that Dickstein had been unable to obtain grand jury interrogations of suspected German agents. Gutzeit reported that when he told Dickstein in July 1938 that his information did not justify his monthly payments: "He blazed up very much, claimed that if we didn't give him money he would break with us ... that he is employing people and he must pay them, that he demands nothing for himself." Gutzeit reminded Dickstein that his other arrangements involved only money while with the NKVD "he is guided by ideological considerations, by the necessity of struggling against a common enemy - fascism."
When the Un-American Activities Committee began to concentrate on communists in the United States. According to Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999): "In response to Peter Gutzeit's request in September 1938, the Congressman publicly denounced the Dies Committee's focus on Communist groups and their allies. Dickstein also provided his Soviet associates with the names of several informants within the ranks of fascist organizations in the United States whom he argued could provide useful information. He even turned over transcripts of alleged tape-recorded hotel room conversations between American Nazi leader Fritz Kuhn and his mistress, the latter a Dickstein snitch. By then, the New York Democrat had begun to speak out in favor of terminating the Dies Committee."
Walter Krivitsky was invited to appear before Martin Dies and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) on 11th October, 1939. Dies asked Krivitsky if Soviet intelligence agencies cooperated with German and Italian agents and therefore faced with "a combined espionage problem?" Krivitsky admitted that even before the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had been co-operating. He argued that an "exchange of military secrets and information, as well as other forms of collaboration, is indispensable to both Hitler and Stalin." After the session he provided additional information in closed chambers on Soviet agents working in the United States.
Peter Gutzeit asked Samuel Dickstein to obtain a copy of Krivitsky's testimony in the closed session of the HUAC. He was unable to do this and instead produced a vague summary of what he said. He also insisted that Krivitsky had presented no concrete evidence of espionage on its part in the United States. The NKVD agents, however, found Dickstein's report suspicious when they recognized that portions of it strongly resembled news accounts and Krivitsky's public speeches. Dickstein did agree to attack Krivitsky and he dismissed the hearings as ridiculous and described Krivitsky as "nothing but a phony".
NKVD decided that Dickstein was a hopeless spy and in a memo to Moscow from Peter Gutzeit concluded that Dickstein's only possible future use was in giving speeches in Congress under NKVD direction, receiving for each from $500 to $1,000. The following month NKVD reported: "According to all datat his source can't be a useful organizer who could gather around him a group of liberal Congressmen to exercise our influence and, alone, he doesn't represent any interest. On the other hand, (Dickstein) refuses to give documentary materials and refused to switch to per-piece pay (i.e., for speeches) and we are not going to pay thousands for idleness. Therefore, we decided to break with Dickstein." It is estimated that during his period as a Soviet agent he was paid over $12,000.
Peter Gutzeit was recalled to Moscow and arrested as "a people's enemy". It is not known the date of his execution.
Using funds provided by the NKGB, Morros would establish a music publishing house in the United States - a business that could also serve as a cover for Soviet illegals. Since Moscow could not provide funds for such a project at the time, Zarubin approached "the Red millionaire," Martha Dodd's husband, Alfred Stern ("Louis"). Zarubin's superiors in Moscow endorsed the project and assigned the code name "Chord."
Soviet intelligence's adventure in the American commercial music industry was launched at a September 1944 meeting of Morros and Stern brokered by Zarubin. The enterprise that unfolded resembled the classic film comedy The Producers, substituting for that movie's famous song line ("Springtime for Hitler and Germany") a chorus of "Autumn for Stalin and Motherland." Zarubin described the venture's opening phase to Vsevolod Merkulov in Moscow: "At the first meeting ... we discussed all the questions of principle. I repeated once more that (Stern) wouldn't have the right to interfere in ( "Chord's") operational and commercial essence.... Afterward, the lawyers drew up an agreement"
The New York station chief became enmeshed in the project's "operational and commercial essence." Zarubin told Merkulov that plans for the company already underway, led by the energetic Boris Morros, included contests involving South American composers, with the winners and best works signed to contracts, and negotiations with well-known conductors Leopold Stokowski and (in Paris) Serge Koussevitzky for purchasing their works. Morros had already acquired record production equipment for a Los Angeles plant he intended to purchase. In addition, he had already begun to promote the new company to broadcasting networks, orchestras, and motion picture studios: "In fact," Zarubin proudly informed his Moscow colleague, "Chord has already begun practical activities.... Financially, it will be ready this winter for use as a cover but, if we needed it even earlier... we could send people under Chord's flag right now."
"I know, women reporters are always a good thing," Wright agreed, "but we're broke, simply broke."
While showing him her portfolio, Dorothy had an inspiration. She remembered there were some city policemen who had organized themselves into "diet squads" in order to demonstrate that the poor could live well enough on $5 a week. Some wealthy women in Chicago were feeding themselves on a quarter a day. If The Call would pay her just $5 a week-what a lot of factory girls were getting, she pointed out - she could be a "diet squad of one" and write from a more radical perspective about the experience for The Call.
Perhaps the idea appealed to Chester Wright, or perhaps he had developed admiration for the sheer bravado of this eager, ambitious, attractive young woman. He agreed to hire her for a month at $5 a week, and if he decided to keep her, somehow he would find the money to pay her $12 a week afterward.
The next morning Dorothy packed her suitcase, said goodbye to her parents, left the suitcase at The Call, and went out in search of her own lodging. On Cherry Street there were many tenements displaying "furnished room" signs and in one of them she easily found something that seemed suitable. Rent was $5 a month. There were vermin in the mattress, she found out during the first night, and the loose panes in her window rattled with the steady draft from the narrow air shaft beyond. With the draft came the stench from the hall toilets. At night the neighborhood cats "shrieked with almost human voices." Even so, Dorothy was delighted with what she had found and felt that she had been led to her new home by a guardian angel.
Having a room and a job, her sense of isolation evaporated. The staff of The Call quickly absorbed Dorothy into their social life, inviting her to join them at Child's Restaurant on Park Row in the small hours of the night after the day's edition had gone to press. Here they renewed their permanent arguments about their competing radical ideologies. Some of the staff favored the anarchist "Wobblies" who were attempting to gather all workers, whether skilled or unskilled, into one vast union. The Wobbly heroes included Big Bill Haywood and Joe Hill, the labor organizer who had been executed by a firing squad in Utah but whose songs were heard on every picket line. Others aligned themselves with the American Federation of Labor, whose membership was restricted to skilled industrial workers, the elite of labor, who took a longer and less revolutionary view of change than Wobblies. There were other factions as well, though as vet there was no Communist Party. Socialism, in its variety, was well represented by The Call's staff. Dorothy took no sides.
Although The Call was politically a Socialist paper there was a four-sided struggle going on among the men who made up the top staff. There were those who were in sympathy with the American Federation of Labor, opposing the Amalgamated Clothing Workers who were out of the Federation. There were those who favored the Industrial Workers of the World. The reporters on the Call were naturally attracted to the Wobblies, as the I.W.W.'s were called, because they believed in direct action and were impatient of the dialectic of the orthodox Marxist. The industrial workers opposed the craft workers of the old AFL, calling the skilled workers of the federation the aristocrats of labor. The leadership was outstanding. Bill Haywood in the West, Joe Hill in the Southwest, and in the East, Arturo Giovannitti and Joe Ettor, who led the strikes in the Lawrence and Paterson mills. These two men were arrested during the Lawrence strike and their places were taken by Carlo Tresca and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Both these strikes took place before I began to work on The Call, but I heard Gurley Flynn, as she was called, speak at meetings for the Mesabi Iron Range strikers and I was thrilled by her fire and vision. Later, after the Russian Revolution, she became a Communist as many of the IWW members did, and right now at this writing she is under arrest with other leaders of the Communist party, for trying to do the same thing she was doing then, change the social order. Only now it is the Communist dictatorship she is working for, rather than a free society of decentralized and federated groups such as the IWW envisaged.
Those IWW workers who did not go over to the Communists were organized into the great industrial unions of the CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Today there is, only a remnant left, and their weekly paper, The Industrial Worker, still published in Chicago, is placed on the subversive list.
At the time I worked for The Call there were also the small anarchist groups.
Anarchism, according to the American Encyclopedia, is a vaguely defined doctrine which would abolish the state "and other established social and economic institutions and establish a new order based on free and spontaneous co-operation among individuals, groups, regions and nations. Actually anarchism is not one doctrine but many; practically every theoretical Anarchist has had his own distinctive ideas."
Prince Kropotkin, for instance, was a scientist by avocation, who, after being trained in a military school as a personal aide to the Czar, chose a regiment going to Siberia so that he could engage in his scientific pursuits, work with the geographical society, and explore the natural resources of Russia. Later on in his explorations of Finland and Siberia, after active experience of co-operation, he pointed out that the voluntary association of men on a scientific expedition worked out better than the regimentation of military men. He lived and worked so closely with peasants and artisans that his writings, Fields, Factories and Workshops, Mutual Aid, and The Conquest of Bread, are practical handbooks.
Francisco Ferrer, the Spaniard, on the other hand, expended all his energy and practical ability in the founding of free schools, establishing hundreds of them in Spain. Sacco and Vanzetti were syndicalists, engaged in organizing of workers and calling for the abolition of the wage system.
Anarchism has been called an emotional state of mind, denouncing injustice and extolling freedom, rather than a movement. There was anarchism in ancient Greece. Zeno believed that freedom and equality would bring out the essential goodness of human nature. Kropotkin looked back to the guilds and cities of the Middle Ages, and thought of the new society as made up of federated associations, co-operating in the same way as the railway companies of Europe or the postal departments of various countries co-operate now...
Emma Goldman was the great exponent of free love in those days, and lectured on the subject, as well as on birth control, literature, anarchism, war, revolution. She had many lovers, and later when she wrote her story Living my Life, she spoke most frankly of her affairs. As I remember it, I was revolted by such promiscuity and even when her book came out would not read it because I was offended in my sex. Men who are revolutionaries, I thought, do not dally on the side as women do, complicating the issue by an emphasis on the personal.
I am quite ready to concede now that men are the single-minded, the pure of heart, in these movements. Women by their very nature are more materialistic, thinking of the home, the children, and of all things needful to them, especially love. And in their constant searching after it, they go against their own best interests. So, I say, I do not really know myself as I was then. I do not know how sincere I was in my love of the poor and my desire to serve them. I know that I was in favor of the works of mercy as we know them, regarding the drives for food and clothing for strikers in the light of justice, and an aid in furthering the revolution. But I was bent on following the journalist's side of the work. I wanted the privileges of the woman and the work of the man, without following the work of the woman. I wanted to go on picket lines, to go to jail, to write, to influence others and so make my mark on the world. How much ambition and how much self-seeking there was in all this!
For a while my assistant on The Masses was Dorothy Day, an awkward and charming young enthusiast, with beautiful slanting eyes, who had been a reporter and subsequently was one of the militant suffragists who were imprisoned in Washington and went on a successful hunger strike to get themselves accorded the rights of political prisoners; she wrote a delightful novel, The Eleventh Virgin, about those days, in which fact is mingled with I do not know how much fiction. I think that I recognize "Hugh Brace" in her book as intended for me: "a tall, slightly-built youth who was thirty-three and looked twenty-three. There was a look of great delicacy about him, an appearance of living in the night-hours and sleeping during the day. As a matter of fact, most of his work was done at night, not only his own writing, but his editorial work on the Flame, a monthly magazine... You did not notice the color of his hair or eyes. They were contradictory eyes. They were curiously detached and yet luminously sympathetic. During the course of the lunch, June noticed that his clothes as well as his manners had the same awkwardness. It came, she thought, from extreme shyness, and remained with him even when he forgot himself in the heat of discussion. Behind his writing desk, he had poise. With a pen in his hand, he was gracious as well as graceful. He lost neither his dignity nor his train of thought when interrupted... In back of his apparent softness there was a streak of iron and he was never ill" - a very flattering portrait.
It was after the suppression of The Masses that I again went to Washington, this time with a group to picket the White House with the suffragists. It was mainly because my friend Peggy Baird was going that I decided one evening to accompany her. The women's party who had been picketing and serving jail sentences had been given very brutal treatment, and a committee to uphold the rights of political prisoners had been formed.
Hypolite Havel, who had been in so many jails in Europe, described to us the rights of political prisoners which he insisted had been upheld by the Czar himself in despotic Russia: the right to receive mail, books and visitors, to wear one's own clothes, to purchase extra food if needed, to see one's lawyer. The suffragists in Washington had been treated as ordinary prisoners, deprived of their own clothing, put in shops to work, and starved on the meager food of the prison. The group who left New York that night were prepared to go on a hunger strike to protest the treatment of the score or more women still in prison.
In Washington it was known by the press and police that the picket line that day would be unusually large so when we left the headquarters of the women's party the park across from the White House was crowded with spectators. Many police held back the crowd and kept the road clear for the women picketers.
They started out, two by two, with colored ribbons of purple and gold across the bosoms of their dresses and banners in their hands. There was a religious flavor about the silent proceedings. To get to the White House gates one had to walk halfway around the park. There were some cheers from women and indignation from men, who wanted to know if the President did not have enough to bother him, and in wartime too! By the time the third contingent of six women reached the gates - I was of this group - small boys were beginning to throw stones, and groups of soldiers and sailors appearing from the crowd were trying to wrest the banners from the hands of the women. The police arrived at once with a number of patrol wagons. I had to struggle for my banner too, with a red-faced young sailor, before a policeman took me by the arm and escorted me to the waiting police van. Our banners were carried, protruding from the back of the car, and we made a gay procession through the streets.
Bail had been provided for us and after our names and addresses were taken at the police station we were released. The trial was set for ten o'clock the next morning. When the thirty-five of us appeared, the judge pronounced us guilty and postponed the sentence.
Again that afternoon we picketed and again there was arrest, release on bail, trial and postponement. The tactics were then changed, and when we were arrested once more and taken to the Central Station, we refused to give bail and were put in the House of Detention for the night.
The facilities there were inadequate for so many prisoners. We had to sleep fifteen in a room meant for two, with cots cheek by jowl so that it was impossible to stir. The next morning we were all sentenced. Many of the women on receiving their sentences took the occasion to make speeches to the judge, who sat patiently though somewhat uncomfortably facing the righteous wrath of the thirty-five women.
The leader of the picketers received a sentence of six months, the older women were sentenced to fifteen days, and the rest of us to thirty days. We started our hunger strike right after receiving our sentences. The scant meal of weak coffee, oatmeal and bread was the last one we expected to have until our demands (for the rights of political prisoners) were granted or we were released. I was too excited to worry much about food. I was to find that one of the ugliness of jail life was its undertone of suppressed excitement and suspense. It was an ugly and a fearful suspense, not one of normal hope and expectation...
Finally, at four o'clock, things began to happen to us. Prison wagons were brought, wagons that had only ventilators along the top and were otherwise closed. Two of them sufficed to carry the prisoners to the jail. When they reached that barren institution on the outskirts of the city, backed by a cemetery and surrounded by dreary bare fields, there was another long halt in the proceedings. After a low argument at the entrance (we never heard what people were saying and that too was part of the torture), the police vans were turned away and started off in another direction.
Those women who had served sentence before knew that we were being taken to the workhouse, and many stories had been told of what the prisoners had suffered at the hands of the violent keeper there, a man named Whittaker. We were all afraid.
It had been completely black in the prison vans but when we were ushered by a number of policewomen into a waiting train which rolled out of station immediately, the lamps along the road had not yet been lit. It was the beginning of November, and I sat with my face pressed against the glass watching the blue twilight, pierced with the black shapes of many scrawny trees. Here and there lamps glowed in farmhouse windows. In the west the sky still held the radiance of the sun which faded gradually and left one with a terrible sense of desolation and loneliness. It was sadly beautiful at that time of night. I was glad for the company of my friend Peggy, and we tried to stay near each other so that we would not be separated later.
There was more waiting after we had been driven from the railroad station to the administration building of the workhouse. A matron tried to take our names and case histories, which all of us refused to give.
We waited there in the administration building, while the matron sat behind her desk and knitted. The spokeswoman for our group was an elderly woman from a socially prominent family in Philadelphia and she had asked to see Mr. Whittaker, the superintendent, before we were assigned to our cells. The matron paid no attention to her request but left us all standing, until of our own accord we took benches and chairs about the room. Some of the younger ones sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. We were beginning to be very tired.
There are two billion people in the world and if we believed all we read in the paper everyone must line up on the side of Communism or Americanism, Catholicism, Capitalism, which the most Catholic newspapers would have us believe are synonymous. Of course, there are bad Americans, bad Catholics and bad capitalists, but still, they say, you can't print such holy pictures as you have in this Christmas issue in Russia, and you can't oppose war and the draft and taxes, as you do, without being thrown into concentration camps, if you are in Russia or a satellite country.
In our eulogies of poverty which we have printed again and again in The Catholic Worker, one of which is running in this issue of the paper, we write with the recognition that we stand as Americans, representing in the eyes of the world the richest nation on earth. What does it matter that we live with the poor, with those of the skid rows, and that those in our other houses throughout the country are living with poverty which is so great a scandal in a land of plenty. We know that we can never attain to the poverty of the destitute around us. We awake with it in our ears in the morning, listening to the bread line forming under our window, and we see it lined up even on such a day as the gale of last Saturday when glass and tin and bricks were flying down the street. The only way we can make up for it is by giving of our time, our strength, our cheerfulness, our loving kindness, our gentleness to all.
We need always to remember that it is atheistic Communism which we oppose, but as for economic Communism - it is a system which has worked admirably in religious orders for two thousand years. The bishops once stated that many of the social aims of the Communist are Christian aims and must be worked for by Catholics. In our parishes and communities we should have credit unions, maternity guilds, and insurance benefit societies which would reach God's poorest. If we are trying to see Christ in our neighbor, we must see to his dignity, his worth, his position as a son of God. And to do this, it is not enough just to help out in an emergency. It is necessary to build a society where people are able by their work to sustain themselves, but also by mutual aid, to bear one another's burdens, when by sickness or accident men are unable to work.
Dorothy became very quickly a legend in the prison. There was a lot of press at the time and a picket line outside. Everybody was aware of it, and we were certainly celebrities of a sort inside the prison. Most of the guards were Catholic, and they came to her and had their Bibles blessed and their rosaries kissed.