advertisement 1
advertisement
SEARCH:
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014                                                 SUBSCRIBE TO OUR RSS FEEDrss feed

Head of the Whole Business

Published by on January 25, 2011

Head of the Whole Business thumbnail

Red Conspirator: J. Peters and the American Communist Underground
by Thomas Sakmyster; University of Illinois Press, March 2011
$50.00, 312 pages, including 6 black & white photographs

reviewed by David Chambers

FROM AUGUST 3, 1948, until today, America has had to wait to learn more about the head of Soviet espionage in Washington during the 1930s.

On that day, Whittaker Chambers (my grandfather) told the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) under subpoena:

The actual head of the group—well, the elected head of the group—was either [Nathan] Witt at one time or [John] Abt, and the organizer of the group had been Harold Ware. The head of the whole business was J. Peters.

Only a few Americans then knew the name “J. Peters”—among half a dozen or more pseudonyms. By that time, however, both the FBI and the INS had taken active interest in his hidden career and that of an alter ego, “Alexander Stevens.” Like most good spies, Peters hid in plain sight. In fact, his definitive Communist Party’s Manual on Organisation (1935) was available in larger cities, predating William H. Whyte’s best-selling The Organization Man by 20 years.

At last, a sleuth has picked up the cold trail. Dr. Thomas Sakmyster is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Cincinnati. His expertise lies in Early 20th Century Hungarian affairs. His revelations in Red Conspirator are riveting.

“J. Peters” was born Sándor Goldberger, a secular Jew in an Austro-Hungarian border town in 1894. Trained as a lawyer, he entered a long career as a Communist Party functionary. He immigrated to the United States in 1924. Peters was a decidedly efficient and shrewd party bureaucrat and passionate in his belief of Communism. He rose quickly to leadership back in his homeland district, and again in the States to the party’s national committee. Had Peters applied himself to capitalism instead of Communism, he might have headed a very different business. Chances are we would speak of him today among prominent Hungarian-Americans entrepreneurs like George Soros, Calvin Klein, Estée Lauder, and John Hertz.

Instead, in 1931 Peter’s skills in party organization led him to Communism’s meccas, Moscow and Berlin. He trained as “Org Praticant”—and spy. In Moscow, he came to know many people who would figure in Federal investigations in the 1940s and 1950s, like Gerhard Eisler (first husband of Hedde Massing) and Jacob Golos (handler of Elizabeth Bentley). In Berlin, he became an expert in passport forgery.

Back in the US in 1932, Peters continued to work on organization practices during the 1930s. In this period he wrote and published his Manual. He also began to establish his “illegal apparatus.” He concentrated on “special mail” (secure communications) via “mail drops.” The network extended around the country, seeking to minimize detection by American government authorities. He also began to establish his “secret apparatus.” He concentrated on infiltrating the US Federal government. This task fell to him in part due to earlier association with Max Bedacht, a previous underground go-between. Bedacht seconded Whittaker Chambers to the underground, then Peters succeeded Bedacht. Chambers served Peters, first in mail drop activities, then in the Ware Group. Thus, Chambers found himself in 1948 under subpoena before HUAC, talking about Peters.

Most tantalizing in Red Conspirator is the thwarting of one Federal agency by another. In the 1940s, HUAC and the FBI were working to flush out Peters’s role in the Soviet underground. Meantime, the INS was trying to deport him. (Peters chose to leave of his own free will prior to deportation.) Rounding out the book are scrapbook-like anecdotes about Peters in Hungary, from his return in 1949 to his death four decades later.

In 1983, Peters began to write a memoir for the Hungarian party’s secret files. Since the fall of the Soviet empire, it has become available to the public—for those who know of it. The memoir fills in many gaps in Peters’ life. It also helps Dr. Sakmyster weigh what to accept, interpret, and reject in Peters’ own self-assessment.

Red Conspirator represents a major contribution to scholarship in 20th Century American and International Communism. The approach and tone are scholarly. The findings are electrifying. Perhaps the most dramatic is the author’s conclusion: J. Peters operated his own infiltration networks, namely the Ware Group and its successive apparatuses. He cooperated with and supported the KGB (in those years, the OGPU and then NKVD) and GRU (Soviet military intelligence). However, as a model organization man, he prepared for the future and formed his own secret apparatus as well. This was “the whole business” that he headed, “conducted by largely on his own initiative,” Sakmyster concludes. “No Soviet agent ever served directly as his handler.”

Related Articles:

Readers' Comments

  1. David Chambers on January 27th, 2011 3:12 pm

    Article plus hyperlinks as references available at: http://wcinbooks.whittakerchambers.org/2011/01/head-of-the-whole-business/

  2. HOAC member on January 29th, 2011 7:23 pm
  3. HOAC member on April 13th, 2011 2:38 pm

    New website for author Thomas Sakmyster: http://sakmyster.wordpress.com/





Current day month ye@r *

  • hotbed of anti-semitism
  • US News »

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston

    April 26, 2013

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston thumbnail

    by Keith Johnson WAS SLAIN Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamarlin Tsarnaev (pictured) coerced, blackmailed or manipulated by Mossad agents posing as FBI agents? Mark Glenn and the crew over at The Ugly Truth have produced a series of radio broadcasts making a compelling argument that he was: TUT Broadcast April 20, 2013 The Victory Hour […]

    Africa, History »

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order

    January 3, 2013

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order thumbnail

    by T.R. Bennington AS EVER, BUT ESPECIALLY in our present state of civilizational malaise, there is a need for figures with the power to inspire — men who in less confused and cynical times would have been unabashedly described as heroic. One such figure is Corporal John Alan Coey, a young soldier who has perhaps […]

    Social Sciences »

    The Happiness Hypothesis

    May 8, 2011

    The Happiness Hypothesis thumbnail

    Of Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis, and Historical Narratives by A. Helian JONATHAN HAIDT IS ONE OF THE MOST coherent thinkers in the social sciences today. A Professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, he specializes in the study of morality and emotion, and how they vary across cultures. He describes himself as an […]

  • Reader’s Comments

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Login / Register / RSS

  • Vintage Mencken »

    Mencken’s Translation of The Antichrist

    June 9, 2013

    Mencken’s Translation of The Antichrist thumbnail

    The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche on “democracy,” “equality,” Judaism, and Christianity: translated by H.L. Mencken THIS BOOK BELONGS to the most rare of men. Perhaps not one of them is yet alive. It is possible that they may be among those who understand my “Zarathustra”: how could I confound myself with those who are now sprouting […]

    Opinion »

    The Irrepressible Mencken

    June 13, 2013

    The Irrepressible Mencken thumbnail

    by Paul E. Gottfried RECENTLY I’ve been thinking about someone whose name is attached to an organization I’m currently president of, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956). For years I’ve tried to understand why the Baltimore Sage has been branded, mostly recently in The Weekly Standard (see here and here) and in a voluminous biography by Terry Teachout, […]

    Arts, Film, Literature »

    Pauline Kael: One Against the Herd

    May 6, 2012

    Pauline Kael: One Against the Herd thumbnail

    Selected Writings of Pauline Kael; Library of America, 2011 Pauline Kael: Alone in the Dark; Brian Kellow, Viking Adult, 2011 by Ron Capshaw FOR CONSERVATIVES, PAULINE KAEL IS notorious for her much-quoted comment about her astonishment that Nixon won the 1972 election since “everyone I know voted for McGovern.” Despite this prime example of the liberal […]

  • Names and Topics



  • FEATURED ARTICLES

    Opinion »

    The Irrepressible Mencken

    June 13, 2013

    The Irrepressible Mencken thumbnail

    by Paul E. Gottfried RECENTLY I’ve been thinking about someone whose name is attached to an organization I’m currently president of, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956). For years I’ve tried to understand why the Baltimore Sage has been branded, mostly recently in The Weekly Standard (see here and here) and in a voluminous biography by Terry Teachout, […]

    Fiction »

    Needed: A New Sexual Morality

    June 13, 2013

    Needed: A New Sexual Morality thumbnail

    Arman asks: Do we need a new code of sexual morality? by H. Millard IN OUR BELIEF SYSTEM for ourselves alone, our thinking on morality is based on the belief that each of us as White individuals must multiply and expand our particular DNA Code to its maximum during our lifetimes. In what follows, you […]

    Vintage Mencken »

    Mencken’s Translation of The Antichrist

    June 9, 2013

    Mencken’s Translation of The Antichrist thumbnail

    The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche on “democracy,” “equality,” Judaism, and Christianity: translated by H.L. Mencken THIS BOOK BELONGS to the most rare of men. Perhaps not one of them is yet alive. It is possible that they may be among those who understand my “Zarathustra”: how could I confound myself with those who are now sprouting […]

    History »

    100 Reasons Leo Frank Is Guilty

    April 26, 2013

    100 Reasons Leo Frank Is Guilty thumbnail

    Proving That Anti-Semitism Had Nothing to Do With His Conviction — and Proving That His Defenders Have Used Frauds and Hoaxes for 100 Years by Bradford L. Huie exclusive to The American Mercury MARY PHAGAN was just thirteen years old. She was a sweatshop laborer for Atlanta, Georgia’s National Pencil Company. Exactly 100 years ago […]

    US News »

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston

    April 26, 2013

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston thumbnail

    by Keith Johnson WAS SLAIN Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamarlin Tsarnaev (pictured) coerced, blackmailed or manipulated by Mossad agents posing as FBI agents? Mark Glenn and the crew over at The Ugly Truth have produced a series of radio broadcasts making a compelling argument that he was: TUT Broadcast April 20, 2013 The Victory Hour […]

    Classic Essays »

    H.L. Mencken, America’s Wittiest Defender of Liberty

    April 26, 2013

    H.L. Mencken, America’s Wittiest Defender of Liberty thumbnail

    by Jim Powell DURING THE FIRST HALF of the twentieth century, H.L. Mencken (pictured) was the most outspoken defender of liberty in America. He spent thousands of dollars challenging restrictions on freedom of the press. He boldly denounced President Woodrow Wilson for whipping up patriotic fervor to enter World War I, which cost his job as […]

    Vintage Mencken »

    The Malevolent Jobholder

    April 26, 2013

    The Malevolent Jobholder thumbnail

    by H.L. Mencken (pictured) IN THE IMMORAL monarchies of the continent of Europe, now happily abolished by God’s will, there was, in the old days of sin, an intelligent and effective way of dealing with delinquent officials. Not only were they subject, when taken in downright corruption, to the ordinary processes of the criminal laws; in […]

    Africa, History »

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order

    January 3, 2013

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order thumbnail

    by T.R. Bennington AS EVER, BUT ESPECIALLY in our present state of civilizational malaise, there is a need for figures with the power to inspire — men who in less confused and cynical times would have been unabashedly described as heroic. One such figure is Corporal John Alan Coey, a young soldier who has perhaps […]

    Fiction »

    The Real Zombie Apocalypse

    January 3, 2013

    The Real Zombie Apocalypse thumbnail

    by H. Millard RACE MEANS SUBSPECIES. A subspecies is a group of organisms that has diverged from the species and which is on its way to being a separate species, usually no longer capable of bearing offspring with the old species. We Whites are a subspecies. We are on our way to becoming a separate […]

    Fiction »

    The Eagle and the Cockroach

    January 3, 2013

    The Eagle and the Cockroach thumbnail

    by H. Millard THE EAGLE swooped down and said to the Cockroach, “You are a despicable creature and you are hated by humans. You live everywhere, you eat anything, and you breed like crazy. “I, on the other hand, am loved by humans. I am so noble and beautiful that many humans use me as […]