advertisement 1
advertisement
SEARCH:
Monday, May 21st, 2018                                                 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/





  • Forgotten victim
  • Literature, US News »

    Homeless Jack on “Grabbing Some Pussy”

    November 7, 2016

    Homeless Jack on “Grabbing Some Pussy” thumbnail

    We discovered this piece scrawled on some foolscap left on our doorstep, an all-lower-case Kerouac-style stream of consciousness rap, and offer it as we found it. by H. Millard trump is an american original and a throwback to the days when americans were bursting with confidence and energy and the sheer joy of freedom and […]

    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 […]

    Science »

    Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth

    March 2, 2015

    Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth thumbnail

    “DOES the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?” If you answered the latter, you’re among a quarter of Americans who also got it wrong, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation. A survey of 2,200 people that was released Friday revealed some alarming truths about […]

  • Reader’s Comments

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Login / Register / RSS

  • Vintage Mercury »

    Jailbirds

    June 7, 2017

    Jailbirds thumbnail

    by Jim Tully; from The American Mercury, September, 1928; transcribed by Kevin I. Slaughter THE jail room was thirty-five feet long, twenty-five feet wide, and seven feet high. In this large cage were fifty prisoners. Some had been sentenced and were serving jail terms; others awaited trial, or removal to the penitentiary. The floor was of […]

    Opinion »

    The Old Right and the Antichrist

    June 7, 2017

    The Old Right and the Antichrist thumbnail

    by Richard Spencer (pictured) The following address was given to the H.L. Mencken Club’s Annual Meeting; November 21-23, 2008. BEFORE William F. Buckley settled on writing God and Man at Yale in 1951, the 25 year-old had something quite different in mind as a debut volume. Buckley planned, and may have begun drafting, a book caustically […]

    Literature »

    The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 2

    May 16, 2018

    The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 2 thumbnail

    by Philip St. Raymond for The American Mercury LOOK AT THE headline and lead article in the Atlanta Georgian newspaper of April 29, 1913, we have illustrated above. Click on this link to see a large and easy-to-read version. “LEE’S GUILT PROVED, Detectives Assert” — “SUSPICION LIFTS FROM FRANK” — “We Have Sufficient Evidence Now to […]

  • Names and Topics



  • FEATURED ARTICLES

    Literature »

    The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds Audio Book: To West Virginia

    November 12, 2017

    <em>The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds</em> Audio Book: To West Virginia thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie for The American Mercury THIS WEEK in Vanessa Neubauer’s new audio book reading — chapter 17 — of Robert Griffin’s The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds we learn why William Luther Pierce moved the main office of his White revolutionary organization, the National Alliance, from the Washington, DC area to the forest-covered […]

    Frank Audio Books, History »

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 5

    November 10, 2017

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 5 thumbnail

    THIS WEEK we present the fifth and next-to-last audio book installment of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey’s closing arguments in the 1913 trial of Leo M. Frank (pictured) for the strangling and sex murder of his 13-year-old sweatshop employee Mary Phagan. Even more than 100 years later, we are still feeling the repercussions of this case — […]

    Literature »

    The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds Audio Book: Bob Mathews

    November 5, 2017

    <em>The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds</em> Audio Book: Bob Mathews thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie for The American Mercury TODAY WE bring you the story of Dr. William Pierce’s encounter with White revolutionary Robert Mathews (pictured), in Vanessa Neubauer’s new audio book — chapter 16 — of The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds. Click here for all the chapters of this book that we’ve published so […]

    Frank Audio Books, History »

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 4

    November 3, 2017

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 4 thumbnail

    VANESSA NEUBAUER’S audio book reading from the 1913 Leo Frank case this week is the fourth part of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey’s closing arguments. Leo Max Frank (pictured with his wife Lucille in happier times) was ultimately convicted of murdering his 13-year-old pencil factory employee, Mary Phagan, in a case which set the stage for Jewish-Gentile […]

    Literature »

    The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds Audio Book: Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    October 29, 2017

    <em>The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds</em> Audio Book: Alexander Solzhenitsyn thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie for The American Mercury TODAY WE bring you Vanessa Neubauer’s new audio book — chapter 15 — of The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds, which discusses Dr. William Pierce’s exploration and critique of the work of the great Russian intellectual Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Click here for all the chapters of this book that […]

    Frank Audio Books, History »

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 3

    October 27, 2017

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 3 thumbnail

    THIS WEEK’S audio book presentation on the 1913 Leo Frank case is the third (of six) parts of prosecutor Hugh Dorsey’s closing arguments. His arguments, along with the evidence in this case, were ultimately successful — and Jewish pencil factory superintendent Leo Frank (pictured) was convicted of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan, his sweatshop employee. Frank […]

    Literature »

    The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds Audio Book: Cosmotheism

    October 23, 2017

    <em>The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds</em> Audio Book: Cosmotheism thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie for The American Mercury COSMOTHEISM is a religion for those of European descent founded by physicist, teacher, philosopher, writer, and American political activist William Luther Pierce. On this week’s audio book installment of the only authorized biography of Dr. Pierce, Professor Robert S. Griffin’s The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds, we learn […]

    Frank Audio Books, History »

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 2

    October 20, 2017

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 2 thumbnail

    THIS WEEK WE present the second part of the closing arguments of Solicitor Hugh Dorsey (pictured in a  contemporary newspaper illustration), the prosecutor in the 1913 murder trial of Leo Frank for the slaying of his sweatshop employee Mary Phagan. This prosecution has been presented in the major media as a case of “anti-Semitism” — […]

    Literature »

    The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds Audio Book: Our Cause

    October 15, 2017

    <em>The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds</em> Audio Book: Our Cause thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie for The American Mercury THIS WEEK in our audio biography of William Pierce (pictured), read by Miss Vanessa Neubauer, we present author Robert S. Griffin’s exploration of Dr. Pierce’s spiritual ideals, as expressed in his seminal speech Our Cause. Click here for all the chapters of this book that we’ve published so […]

    Frank Audio Books, History »

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 1

    October 13, 2017

    New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Dorsey’s Closing Arguments, part 1 thumbnail

    TODAY WE present the closing arguments of Solicitor Hugh Dorsey (pictured), which were the very last arguments heard by the jury, in the 1913 murder trial of Leo Max Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan. These powerful, successful, and historic arguments span some six hours, and they will be presented here over the next […]