This week we will take a look at another well intentioned American whose circumstances led to participation in the Communist Party. Sometimes we can learn from our circumstances and develop a strong Godly character while at other times Satan will use life events to lead us down the road to ruin. When that happens only God can save us.
Whittaker Chambers had no way of knowing that after he deserted the Russian espionage system, the Soviets would replace him with a woman. Her name was Elizabeth Bentley. She came from a long line of New England American ancestors. She had attended Vassar, traveled and studied in Italy for a year and returned to the United States in 1934 only to find the nation deep in depression. Failing to find a job, she decided her only option was to learn a business so she enrolled at the School of Business at Columbia University. There she met a group of people who were very friendly and sympathetic toward her. Little did she know that they were Communists. In time they explained Communism to her and to her it seemed rather reasonable; in fact the way they explained it she felt Communism would be a great improvement over American Capitalism…which at the time was bogged down with unemployment and bankruptcy. So Elizabeth decided to become a Communist. As a girl in her twenties she saw herself as being a player in a new era of history, able to solve all of humanities problems. She went to work for New York’s Welfare Department and while there she was made financial secretary of the Columbia University Communist unit. Her activities were tracked by the leaders of the Russian underground apparatus and before she knew what happened she had been moved into the underground network of Soviet espionage. During this time she worked for three different individuals before she was finally assigned to work for an old-time revolutionary called “Timmy”. Elizabeth fell in love with Timmy. One day he said to her: “You and I have no right to feel the way we do about each other…There is only one way out, and that is to stick together and keep our relationship unknown to everyone…You will have to take me completely on faith, without knowing who I am, where I live, or what I do for a living.”
This was how Elizabeth Bentley became a Communist ‘wife’ of a man who turned out to be Jacob Golos, one of the all-powerful chiefs of the Russian Secret Police in the United States. Under his training she became what she later called a “steeled Bolshevik.” In May, 1940, she read that an attempt had been made against the life of Leon Trotsky (a long time threat to Stalin) in Mexico. The attempt failed. His personal bodyguard had been kidnapped and was shot in the back. (Communist politicians play for keeps.) Elizabeth came to the belief that Jacob Golos had been in on the plot. Several months later a killer actually got through to Trotsky and smashed his skull with an alpenstock.
Beginning in 1941, Elizabeth was use by the Russian espionage apparatus to collect material from contacts in Washington. She became a courier for the Silvermaster spy group…more on this group in just a bit…which was extracting information from Communist contacts in the Pentagon and other top secret government agencies. Occasionally there was a near disaster, as was the case after Gregory Silvermaster got a job with the Board of Economic Warfare through the influence of an administrative assistant at the White House. After taking the job he was shown a letter addressed to his superior from the head of Army Intelligence indicating that the FBI and Naval Intelligence had proof of his Communist connections. The letter demanded Silvermaster’s discharge. He panicked and asked Elizabeth Bentley what to do. Her instruction was: Stand your ground, put on an air of injured innocence; you are not a Communist, just a ‘progressive’ whose record proves you have always fought for the rights of labor. Rally all your ‘liberal’ friends around…If necessary, hire a lawyer to fight the case through on the grounds that your reputation has been badly damaged. Meanwhile, pull every string you can to get this business quashed. Use Currie, White (Harry Dexter White, top official of the Treasury Department), anybody else you know and trust.” [Out of Bondage, Elizabeth Bentley, pages 173-174] Anyone familiar with the format of defense followed by suspected Communists who were hailed before Congressional investigating committees will recognize the Party’s trademark on trite pretention of abused innocence. After months of fighting back , the Under-Secretary of War became convinced that an injustice had been done to Silvermaster and his dismissal was thereby counter-ordered. Silverman was allowed to resign and return to his old job in the Department of Agriculture with a clean slate. As Bentley concludes: “After a sigh of relief…throughout the entire Russian Secret Police apparatus, we went back to our normal routine.” (Spying)
Now to address the “Silvermaster Cell”. While exonerated, Silvermaster was anything but innocent. He had members of his cell assigned to various levels of government connection. Such as:
> Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Director of the Labor Division of the Farm Security Administration; detailed for a short period to the Board of Economic Warfare.
> Solomon Adler, Treasury Department agent in China.
> Norman Bursler, special agent Department of Justice
> Frank Coe, Assistant Director, Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department; special assistant to US Ambassador in London; assistant to Executive Director, Board of Economic Warfare; Assistant Administrator, Foreign Economic Administration.
> William Gold, known as Bela Gold, assistant head of the Division of Program Surveys, Bureau of Agriculture Economics, Department of Agriculture; Senate Subcommittee on War Mobilization; Office of Economic Programs in Foreign Economic Administration.
> Mrs. William (Sonia) Gold: research assistant House Select Committee on Interstate Migration; labor-market analyst Bureau of Employment Security; Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department.
> Abraham George Silverman: Director of the Bureau of Research and Information Services, US Railroad Retirement Board; economic adviser and chief of analysis and plans, Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Materials and Services, Air Force.
> William Taylor, worked in the Treasury Department.
> William Ludwig Ullman, worked in the Division of Monetary Research, Treasury Department; Material and Services Division, Air Corps Headquarters, Pentagon.
This list is provided to show an example of the Communist involvement in US government operations. Unfortunately this was not the only spy cell operation within the confines of our government. Other cells included the “Perlo Cell”, and the “Ware Cell”. There were also other Communist government plants who cooperated in providing strategic information who were not tied to any particular cell.
The above list of names is set forth to illustrate the remarkable and devastating pipelines of information which Elizabeth Bentley says the Russian Secret police tapped during the time she served as the Russian Secret Police pay-master and courier in our nation’s capital.
Elizabeth Bentley worked doggedly for the Soviets until 1944. A great shock came to her in 1943 when her ‘husband’ Jacob Golos died suddenly of a heart attack. Just before his death he revealed to her the ruthlessness of his Soviet superiors who were driving him unmercifully and forcing him to engage in activities which were nauseating even to the revolutionary-hardened sense of his own calloused conscience. After Golos’ death she learned that Earl Browder had agreed to turn over a group of American Communists in Washington to a most unscrupulous set of Soviet espionage agents. One of their friends was included but her ‘husband’ said he was expendable. Shortly afterward she received a visit from a top Soviet official from Moscow who told her that she had been awarded the highest medal of the Soviet Union…the Order of the Red Star. She became revolted when she found out what kind of individual this official was. She came to the conclusion that the Communist leaders in Russia were absolutely incapable of building a great new world…no matter how much information she sent them. Her final blow to her idealism came when the Soviets tried to force her to turn over to them a girl-friend who was wanted for the immoral role of an ‘entertainer’ for high government officials.
One night she was finally able to admit what had happened to herself: “We had been corrupted and smashed by a machine more merciless than anything the world had ever seen.” A few weeks later she walked into the FBI ready to do anything in her power to make amends to her native country. In some ways, it was simultaneously a triumph and a tragedy. For her it was a triumph…the chance she needed to square herself with her conscience and her country. She gave sworn testimony in 1948 that nearly became a tragedy. The Communist press was joined by many so-called ‘liberal’ factions to accuse her of being everything from a degenerate to a psychopathic liar or a victim of insanity. It took time and many corroborative testimonies by many witnesses to finally halt the clamor.
Both Elizabeth Bentley and previously introduced Whittaker Chambers testified they were typical members of a small but extremely dangerous segment of Americans who, through misguided ideologies, swelled the ranks of Communism during the interval between World War I and the close of World War II. They both went through the same evolution:
> An ideological conversion followed by a desire to take action…introduced through an education system (no surprise).
> Exposure to the hard-core realities of Communism in actual operation.
> And, finally, an awakening followed by a dynamic determination to desert the delusion and fight it from the outside.
In most cases these wayward US citizens usually returned to the American way of life more loyal to its principles than when they left. A few did not and to this day still labor day and night in a dedicated service to ‘the cause’. Of course, those leave behind a trail of potential damage to our security and safety…the atomic bomb for instance.
I have always thought that one of the missions of the Christian church is to encourage the foundation basis for moral integrity and Godly principles. Maybe I am wrong. These being part of our political character, maybe politics doesn’t belong in the church. Maybe I have been wrong all along…but my conscience does not agree with that conclusion. While of course the Word of God is the standard for His church, certainly the nation that makes this standard possible should receive some recognition. Some churches are even embarrassed to display the flag. I hope and pray that God will open the eyes of the leadership of those churches.
Next week we will take a look at Communism during the post World War II era. During the war allies became strange bed fellows but the goals of Communism were never dissolved. As I have said before, Communist are very patient and the end of World War II meant it was again time to take up the banner of world domination…a goal of Satan.
“In conflict tactics there are certain rules that the organizer should always regard as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen.'” (Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky, well-known Marxist community organizer)