[1] See my correspondence with John Earl Haynes.

[2] See Volume 7 of History of the Counter Intelligence Corps.

[3] For the birth announcement of the Counter Intelligence Corps in the press, see New York Times. For an annotated survey of the published literature on the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), see J. Ransom Clark’s bibliography The Literature of Intelligence: a-m, n-z; for a brief history of the CIC and the location of unpublished source material, see Ruffner’s essay; for histories of the CIC, consult this excerpt from Covert Warfare, Volume 12: The Counter Intelligence Corps in Action and Ian Sayer and Douglas Botting’s very readable America’s Secret Army: The Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence Corps (Grafton Books, 1989). For perspective on violations of the delimitation agreement with the FBI, see Chapter 10 of Joan Jensen’s Army Surveillance in America, 1775–1980. For first-hand accounts of CIC agents, see Ib Melchior’s memoir Case by Case: A U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent in World War II (Presidio, 1993) and Duval Edwards’s Spy Catchers of the U.S. Army in the War with Japan (Red Apple Publishing 1994, p. 283). For primary materials (training materials and domestic work product) of a CIC agent, consult the papers of Isadore Zack at the University of New Hampshire Library.

[4] For example, the source of the opening quotation, “Arthur K. Peters, Historical Manuscript on Second Service Command, 1941–45, pp. 53–56, (Unclassified) (Central Records Facility)” is unavailable to Cold War historians.

[5] Fred Cook, a journalist who closely followed the case, memorably summarized Chambers’s denials in The Nation (March 10, 1984):

“In his first appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, on August 3, 1948, Chambers charged only that in the mid-1930’s Hiss had belonged to a Communist Party cell in Washington D.C. He testified emphatically that espionage was not its purpose. In fourteen previous interviews with the FBI, he had said the same thing. Under all kinds of pressure he stuck to that story. Grilled on Meet the Press on August 27, 1948, he repeated his charge that Hiss had been a Communist, but he ruled out espionage, saying, ‘That was a group not for the purpose of espionage but for the purpose of infiltrating government policy’ Even after Hiss sued Chambers for libel in 1948, he did not change his story. On October 14, a Federal grand jury asked him if he could name anyone who was positively guilty of espionage against the United States. After taking a night to think it over, Chambers testified, `I do not believe I know of such a name.’ In depositions taken for Hiss’s libel suit in Baltimore, he remained adamant. On November 4, 1948, Hiss’s attorney demanded that he produce documentary evidence, if he had any, to support his story. The next day, Chambers testified he had no such material, adding that he had never received any documents from Hiss.”

Susan Jacoby seriously distorts these facts in her book, Alger Hiss and the Battle for History (Yale University Press, 2009), when she claims (p. 6) that Chambers denied that Hiss was a spy for only a few months instead of nearly ten years: “At first Chambers denied that he and Hiss had engaged in espionage, but a few months later (after the statute of limitations on espionage had expired), he led HUAC investigators to the microfilm concealed in the famous hollowed-out pumpkin on his Maryland farm.”

Moreover, contrary to Jacoby’s claim (asserted on p. 6 and repeated on p. 16), Chambers’s repeated denials that Hiss was a spy cannot be explained by his concern about being prosecuted for espionage. The statute of limitations for espionage at the time was only three years. Hence, Chambers could have accused Hiss of espionage any time after 1941 without fear of being prosecuted himself for that crime.

Chambers would have been vulnerable to prosecution as a spy if he had engaged in espionage in 1937–8 and it had been discovered before 1940–1. In fact, he did receive classified information from Franklin Reno of the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1937–8 for transmission to the Soviets and nonetheless mentioned Franklin Reno’s name and employment when he met Assistant Secretary of State Berle in 1939. This seems odd behavior for someone concerned about being prosecuted for espionage.

Clearly, there must be some other explanation for the Chambers’ insistence for nearly a decade that Hiss gave him no documents and committed no espionage.

[6] See the news story in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

[7] It is Allen Weinstein’s contention, based on his reading of the defense files, that Alger Hiss knew the location of his typewriter from the outset. My own review of those files does not support this conclusion. It appears to me that the defense considered a large number of possible locations, one of which proved correct.

[8] See Special Agent Gorin’s account, which includes a photo of his identity card (signed by Hiss) and photos of his fellow agents. In personal correspondence, Gorin was unable to clarify whether other counterintelligence agents were monitoring Hiss since, if they were, he would not have known it due to “secrecy of operations.” Gorin’s own assignment was apparently to “investigate possible Russian incidents” at the conference.

[9] For a discussion of the breadth of the surveillance, consult Chapter 10 of Army Surveillance in America, 1775–1980. For primary documents, consult the papers of Isadore Zack at the University of New Hampshire Library.

[10] In personal correspondence, John Earl Haynes and Athan Theoharis have both pointed out that under the delimitation agreements, the Counter Intelligence Corps should have deferred to the FBI on domestic surveillance of civilians.

However, the evidence indicates that these delimitation agreements were often violated. The historian specializing in Army surveillance has documented continual expansion by the Counter Intelligence Corps into areas of domestic investigation that had been allocated to the FBI. Every one of the agents I have contacted (Isadore Zack, Edward See, Leonard Gorin, and others) confirms that domestic investigations were common. As Zack put it: “we poached freely in FBI territory” (with the approval of the commanding officer). Zack’s own work product confirms this.

The historians who compiled History of the Counter Intelligence Corps must have enjoyed composing the following passage concerning CIC encroachment into areas designated under the delimitation agreements for the FBI: “The Counter Intelligence Corps mission in the United States during World War II was based on the Delimitations Agreement with the FBI and ONI completed in 1940. Because of its huge case load, though, the FBI frequently overlooked CIC activities off military reservations where the boundary line of jurisdictions touched. Unless CIC worked the case it would only add to the FBI burden. This did not, of course, apply to a case of any magnitude or special importance.

[11] What is alleged about this episode is reported in Sayer and Botting’s America’s Secret Army and Joseph Persico’s Roosevelt’s Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage (Random House, 2001, pp. 229–31). For a more skeptical account, see the long footnote on pp. 223–4 of Athan Theoharis and John Cox’s The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition (Bantam, 1990). It seems likely that the real source of the President’s displeasure with the CIC has never been disclosed. In any event, the Corps defied key parts of the order and resumed domestic surveillance the moment Roosevelt died.

Roosevelt’s discreet expulsion of the Corps foreshadowed the more public furor that erupted in Congress when the Corps was discovered spying on civilians during the Vietnam era. In 1970, a whistle blower (Christopher Pyle) reported that “Army intelligence had 1,500 plainclothes agents watching every demonstration of 20 people or more throughout the United States” during the 1960’s. Indeed, according to Special agent Ann Bray, quoted in Duval Edwards’s Spy Catchers of the U.S. Army in the War with Japan [Red Apple Publishing, 1994, p. 281] “At the height of the civil disturbance period, a CIC agent could get a report from the street to Fort Holabird HQ in 20 minutes, from practically any city in the U.S.; seconds or brief minutes later, the report was in Operations Center in a lower basement of the Pentagon.” Although many regard this spying on Americans as excessive, the Corps had a different perspective: “this was at a period when NO ONE knew when certain areas of our country might have to be placed under military law to protect lives and property” (ibid, p. 283). Pyle’s disclosure triggered investigations by Ervin’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights and then by the Church Committee, which culminated in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

[12] See page 45 of Sayer and Botting or page 228 of Jensen.

[13] See letter from FBI Director Hoover to the Army’s Director of Intelligence.

[14] Concerns about Reno arose as soon as he arrived at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

[15] See Reno’s file as it appears in the National Archives II. Investigation of Hiss in this circumstance would have been standard practice.

[16] Much of the literature on the Ales cable, the Venona intercept alleged to refer to Hiss, can be found at The Alger Hiss Story. The CIA has provided additional information on the Venona intercepts.

[17] It remains unclear because all references to the first date when a message was circulated within the intelligence community have been deliberately concealed. The message was intercepted in March 1945 and it was circulating on or before 1949. For a discussion of this point, see Anthony Summers, The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon, p. 492 note 16.

The information from the Venona project helped Army Military Intelligence identify Soviet espionage agents. Such identifications were surely communicated by the code-breaking branch of Army Military Intelligence to its spy-catching branch, the Counter Intelligence Corps. As Venona experts John Haynes and Harvey Klehr confirm, “The substance of the messages with the names of scores of Americans who had assisted Soviet espionage circulated among American military and civilian security officials” (Venona, Yale University Press, 1999, p. 14).

[18] A colorful first-hand account of many break-ins is contained in Surreptitious Entry (D. Appleton-Century Co., 1946) by Willis George. He recounts participating in some 200 “black bag” jobs while working for the government (OSS and Office of Naval Intelligence) during the 1940s. When interviewed by Manice Lockwood on August 10, 1973, Schmahl recommended this book and even professed to have coauthored it. In this memoir, George confines himself to his exploits against Nazi spies. But, like Schmahl, George was later deployed against Communist spies as well. Constanides (CIA) identifies George as a key member of the team that broke into the office of Amerasia, a left-wing magazine. The office was littered with classified documents from the State Department, the Navy, and OSS. George went on to write the OSS training manual, Picks, Clicks, Flaps, and Seals, which describes how to open sealed envelopes without detection. A valuable and readable account of the celebrated Amerasia break-in and its aftermath can be found in The Amerasia Spy Case: Prelude to McCarthyism (University of North Carolina Press, 1996) by Harvey Klehr and Ronald Radosh.

The leader of the Amerasia break-in team was OSS agent, Frank Bielaski. Bielaski, like Schmahl and his mentor John (“Steve”) Broady, was a New York private detective whose investigative skills were useful to the military. Both Broady and Bielaski were sufficiently renowned as wire-tappers to be singled out in the Reporter article (December 23, 1952, p. 22 of Part 1) on wiretapping. The Republican National Committee also utilized Bielaski’s investigative skills and made him their Director of Investigations. In August 1941, General Donovan learned of Bielaski’s wire-tapping skills and soon Bielaski became head of OSS’s Domestic Investigations Division. (See Robert Thayer’s August 29, 1941 correspondence on joining OSS.) In 1947 Bielaski received a certificate of appreciation for meritorious service to OSS.

[19] To be more precise, the FBI originally claimed that Gouzenko had referred to an assistant to an Assistant Secretary of State under Stettinius but six days later transformed this into an Assistant Secretary of State under Stettinius. There were six Assistant Secretaries of State, among them Alger Hiss; but they had many assistants. For a discussion of this point, see Amy Knight’s How the Cold War Began, p. 3.

[20] The quotation is from America’s Secret Army: the Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence Corps by Sayer and Botting.

[21] Even without attempting any deception, CIC agents were routinely mistaken for FBI agents. As Volume 7 of History of the Counter Intelligence Corps notes: “Moreover, since it was not until the war had started that CIC came out from complete undercover, agents soon discovered that in spite of their War Department Military Intelligence credentials, the greater part of the citizenry they called upon thought that they were FBI agents.”

[22] The same can be said of the Navy and OSS, both of which pursued civilian spies on the home front. See note [18].

[23] In the absence of Army files, painstaking research would be required to document Army participation in the case of Elizabeth Bentley, the “red spy queen” who defected to the FBI in 1945. According to Chambers’s biographer [Tanenhaus, p. 206], Bentley provided the FBI with a “far more extensive and detailed [picture of the underground] than anything Chambers had yet disclosed—she implicated more than eighty agents—and was minutely confirmed by later documentation.“

What prompted Bentley’s defection? In the spring of 1945, she was picked up in a bar by a “Peter Heller.” A sexual relationship developed. Eventually, frightened that her lover was in fact an undercover FBI agent and that she was about to be apprehended, Bentley defected to the FBI. Bentley’s Soviet handler recognized that Heller was an undercover agent and surmised that he worked either for the FBI or War Department. Since Heller was not an FBI agent, Allen Weinstein concluded that Heller was “a military intelligence operative” [The Haunted Wood, p. 101]. On the other hand, Bentley’s biographer, Lauren Kessler, disagrees [Clever Girl, p. 123, 324], basing her conclusion on a single FBI document. Kessler concludes that Heller was simply a married man, having an affair with an unmarried woman. Is Kessler correct or has she fallen for Heller’s clever cover story? Weinstein examined tens of thousands of pages of FBI files on Hiss and even then fell for Schmahl’s cover story. Imagine relying on a single FBI document to determine whether Schmahl was an undercover counterintelligence agent. The dispute about whether Heller was an unhappily married man on the prowl or a CIC agent using that as his cover story certainly cannot be resolved one way or the other without vastly more research than either of these historians has been willing to undertake. The places to start are (1) the military personnel records in St. Louis and (2) the lists of the graduates of MITC at the National Archives II in College Park.

[24] Defense files indicate that Schmahl was working for Hiss’s lawyers as early as October 21.

[25] Exactly how the penetration was accomplished remains unclear and constitutes the most vulnerable part of my reconstruction of events. How could the Army be sure that whatever law firm Hiss chose would in turn choose Schmahl to conduct the pre-trial investigation?

After the War, the prominent investigative firms in New York City were likely all run by people with military intelligence training and experience. Schmahl and Bielaski, for example, had separate investigative firms and military experience. As for Broady, who ran a third investigative firm, he clearly had contacts in the Army since he had written a letter to someone in the Army years earlier indicating that “Schmahl would be well equipped for a commission in the United States Army in the Specialist Corps as a translator.” See agent Sizoo’s report dated June 25, 1942. The military presumably contracted sophisticated wire-tapping and other work out to such firms upon occasion.

In this environment, Military Intelligence probably had enough leverage over these firms that it could have asked whichever of them was chosen to conduct the pre-trial investigation for Hiss’s libel action to discreetly contract it out to Schmahl. Contracting out assignments was common during this period. Thus, during 1945-7 when Schmahl was approached about an assignment he could not or did not want to do, he would take the job and then subcontract to the agency run by Maheu. Similarly, some of the jobs Broady accepted were contracted out to Schmahl.

Indeed that is what happened when the law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton approached Broady about conducting the pre-trial investigation for Hiss’s libel case. The law firm hired Broady as its chief investigator. Schmahl was not one of Broady’s employees but had been running his much smaller firm, “Horace W. Schmahl Investigations—Trial Preparation” out of the same address at 19 Rector Street for three years. Broady apparently subcontracted the assignment to Horace Schmahl from the outset. Almost immediately, Schmahl moved into his own offices at 62 William Street. Although it was Schmahl, not Broady, who always met with Hiss and his lawyers, payments for investigative services rendered were mailed to Broady. If the law firm had instead engaged Bielaski’s firm, presumably Bielaski would have contracted out the work to Schmahl and the checks would have been mailed to Bielaski.

In an attempt to illuminate this issue further, I consulted an attorney at Debevoise and Plimpton who helped prepare Hiss’s libel suit. He told me that Broady’s firm was at the time very prominent and would have been a likely choice. The attorney reviewed the firm’s files on its dealings with Broady and Schmahl. His letters summarize his reading of these records.

[26] Schmahl describes his language skills in his OSS Personal History Statement.

[27] In his Coram Nobis petition, Hiss was able to document at least 22 actual contacts and 13 additional possible contacts between Schmahl and the government (Department of Justice and FBI). For details see footnotes 64 and 66 of Footnote on a Historic Case: In Re Alger Hiss, No. 78 Civ. 3433 by William A. Reuben. Both Hiss and Reuben were, of course, unaware that Schmahl was working undercover for the Counter Intelligence Corps. Presumably Schmahl had contact with Army counterintelligence personnel during this period as well.

[28] Allen Weinstein reached a different conclusion about Schmahl. In Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case (Knopf, 1978, p. 530), he expresses the view that Schmahl was just a garden-variety private investigator who “became persuaded of Hiss’s guilt and quit the investigation. After that, he passed information on the defense efforts to the FBI.”

Weinstein’s view is hard to square with Schmahl’s prior employment as a special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps, his offer to help the FBI with Communist Party matters one year before being retained by the Hiss defense, his statement to the FBI two months after being retained by the defense that he was really working for Military Intelligence, his concern long after he had stopped working for the defense in the spring of 1949 that the FBI destroy his letter of November 1950 which provided information on the defense’s planned motion for a new trial, and his contacting the war-time head of OSS (William Donovan) and Assistant Director of Special Operations at the CIA (Wyman) about re-assignment just weeks before Hiss entered prison (see 1951 correspondence among Schmahl, Donovan, and the CIA).

Weinstein bases his view that Schmahl was just an ordinary private investigator rather than a government double agent on his reading of “more than one thousand pages of released FBI material.” But Schmahl worked for Military Intelligence, not the FBI. Thus, Weinstein’s inability to find evidence in FBI files on the Hiss case that Schmahl was a government agent is unsurprising. The evidence I found lies elsewhere — in the civilian and military records in St. Louis, in the Donovan correspondence file at the Army Military History Institute at Carlisle, and in various FBI files not classified as pertaining to the Hiss case. Additional evidence presumably lies in Army files that it declines to release.

[29] See his Personal History Statement.

[30] See MITC records of his graduation.

[31] The St. Louis file of his military service record was destroyed in the massive fire in 1973, although parts of it have been reconstructed and some of that released. Fortunately, the FBI summarized the St. Louis file before the fire. His application for a license to be a private investigator in the State of New York confirms that Schmahl served in the War Department, Counter Intelligence, Washington, D.C. from December 1, 1943 to December 13, 1945. Department of Justice indices also confirm his assignment to Army Military Intelligence.

[32] Under the heading “Qualifications of enlisted personnel,” TM 30-215 “War Department, Technical Manual, Counter Intelligence Corps” dated Sept. 22, 1943 says that “To be eligible for assignment to the Counter Intelligence Corps, enlisted men must possess the following minimum qualifications: age 22 to 44 years inclusive for special agents and agents” (p.7). Several archivists advised me that these rules were still in effect at the time Schmahl was discharged (27 months after the publication date of TM 30-215) at the age of 38. In addition, Conrad McCormick (an archivist at Fort Huachuca who served in the CIC and is an authority on CIC history during the 1940s) was at a loss to explain why Schmahl was discharged so soon: “This is odd. At that time there were thousands awaiting separation and this was based on a point system in which age was only one factor—and being 37 or 38 years wasn’t much of a point earner. Since he had no Army overseas service or any points for combat or wounds I have no idea how he was lucky enough to get out that soon.“

McCormick finds Schmahl’s record highly peculiar but has expressed considerable skepticism about my interpretation of his record. Nonetheless, McCormick did make one gratifying concession: “You say you wonder whether any of the evidence against Alger Hiss was manufactured. The question of Hiss’s guilt aside, the involvement of Horace Schmahl in any aspect of that case is certainly a valid reason for having such a suspicion, and that is unfortunate since the waters are muddy enough in the Hiss case.”

[33] This ruse has apparently been used in nonmilitary settings. Erving Goffman reports that “In police work, a rookie cop who is to be used as a plant may be let go from the Police Academy on grounds of possessing a criminal record which, in fact, has been documented for him.” See note 84 on p. 50 of Goffman’s Strategic Interaction (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1969) and the references he cites. Goffman might have added that this ruse makes deciphering records concerning the rookie cop a particular challenge for historians.

A document from the National Archives II illustrates that the military was using similar ruses during World War II. It concerns the cover story of another multilingual European (Ib Melchior) who, like Schmahl, served first in OSS and then in Military Intelligence. In going under cover as a civilian, Melchior was supposed to be “discharged” from the military because of the recurrence (bogus, of course) of a cancer. In fact, he was re-classified 4F (unfit for military service because of a disability).

As for Schmahl, documents from Military Intelligence dated February, 1941 leave the impression that Schmahl was removed from the “Military Dictionary Project“ by Arthur Vollmer under suspicion of being a Nazi agent. Presumably this was part of a cover story intended to deceive someone at the time but which now contaminates the historical record. If Schmahl had really been suspected of being a Nazi spy, it seems doubtful that Vollmer would have vouched one year later for Schmahl’s “invaluable” contribution to the dictionary project in a letter of recommendation Schmahl showed the FBI (Sizoo report dated June 25, 1942), that Donovan would have trusted him as his personal investigator at COI later in 1941 (See note 49), that Schmahl would have used Vollmer as a character reference on his Personal History Statement (PHS) in the fall of 1943, or that Schmahl would have mentioned his contributions to the Military Dictionary Project on that PHS. Similarly, although OSS records may indicate that Schmahl left OSS under a cloud of fresh suspicions of Nazi involvement, the head of the OSS, who was personally well acquainted with Schmahl, recommended him to CIA Special Operations in 1951, reporting that his OSS record was excellent. Moreover, when Special Operations checked with Military Intelligence about Schmahl, no concerns were expressed about his Nazi leanings; the only concerns were about his habit of “talking too much.” If any of the various allegations that Schmahl was a Nazi spy had the slightest validity, the Counter Intelligence Corps—renowned for its careful vetting of its personnel—would never have made him a Special Agent.

[34] The earliest use of the letterhead “Investigations—Trial Preparation” that I have found was February 5, 1946; the latest use of such letterhead was May 31, 1951.

[35] See the textbook Counter Intelligence Corps Investigator.

[36] See the FBI memo alluding to Schmahl’s offer.

[37] His last known use of the cover story that his investigative expertise was in “trial preparation” is in his letter to the CIA. See 1951 correspondence.

[38] See a summary of Schmahl’s testimony.

[39] The other investigator was Harold Bretnall. An account of Bretnall’s tip to the Hiss defense can be found in Allen Weinstein’s Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case (in the section of the Appendix with the mocking title “The Double Agent: Horace Schmahl, Mystery Man”) and in Fred Cook’s article on Schmahl and Kunze. Bretnall’s claim of having been an associate of Schmahl is consistent with newspaper accounts. In early 1949, lawyer/investigator John G. Broady was charged with tapping the phones of Mayor O’Dwyer and other city officials. As one of Broady’s employees at the time, Bretnall’s testimony was widely reported in the newspapers. See, for example, the New York Times (March 24, 1949). After leaving his job with Broady, Bretnall continued to work as a private investigator, spending several years on the Sam Sheppard case before retiring. The Hiss defense said Bretnall provided his tip in “the mid-1960s” but died shortly thereafter. Bretnall’s obituary is dated August 25, 1963, which is (approximately) consistent with the Hiss defense’s account of the episode.

Allen Weinstein (Perjury, p. 29) seems to question the entire story about Bretnall. “But ‘Bretnall’ remained as elusive a figure as ‘Morrow’ [who had provided a similar tip years before] had been, and his supposed allegations were unsupported by any documentation ...” [My emphasis]

Considering that (1) Bretnall did work for Broady in 1948–9 when Broady was retained by the Hiss defense and was using Schmahl as the chief investigator, that (2) Bretnall did identify Schmahl as a double agent a decade before the government released the first FBI files corroborating his claim, and that (3) the Hiss defense did specify the approximate date when Bretnall died, Weinstein’s mocking dismissal of this entire episode as if it were a fantasy seems more than a little unfair.

[40] Schmahl himself linked these two episodes together when he told the FBI that “for the past 20 years he had been doing international work for the Department of Justice through the office of Mr. Armand Chankalian ... ” Evidently “international work” entailed coordinating with the Justice Department in the military’s pursuit of Americans believed to be working on behalf of foreign powers against the United States. See [43] for more on Chankalian and [42] for more on Kunze.

[41] For a history of the Bund, consult Martha Glaser’s “The German-American Bund in New Jersey” (New Jersey History [1974] 92, 33–49). Although in theory, the delimitation agreement prevented the Counter Intelligence Corps from domestic investigations, the Bund was an important target of the New York office—at least according to CIC Special Agent Edward See (currently of Westport, Connecticut). Volume 7 of History of the Counter Intelligence Corps confirms his recollection: “In the days immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack, the Counter Intelligence Corps in New York conducted almost daily raids [presumably all in violation of the delimitation agreements], in conjunction with the FBI and New York City police, on the homes and business places of suspected Nazi sympathizers. These persons included members of the German–American Bund, the NSDAP, and the Kyfhaeuser League. Property seized was mostly of a propaganda nature such as booklets, swastika armbands, and uniforms. There were also some shortwave radios, weapons and membership lists and records. By the middle of 1942 the menace from organized pro-German or pro-Nazi groups had been neutralized in the New York–New Jersey area, and CIC discontinued the raids.”

[42] I have investigated Adam Kunze and his wife with some care. I have corresponded with their daughter (the actress, Julia Meade) and have even interviewed several devoted drama students of the actress Caroline Meade, Mrs. Adam Kunze. Allen Weinstein is clearly sloppy in repeatedly referring to Bessie Meade as Adam Kunze’s wife instead of his sister-in-law throughout both editions of Perjury: the Hiss–Chambers Case.

In addition, Weinstein dismisses the claims of others about Adam Kunze’s political orientation by referring to him as “an allegedly pro-Nazi typewriter-store owner.” Accounts in the popular press (for example, see October 11, 1938 Bergen Public Record and June 19, 1941 New York Daily Mirror), in FBI reports, and in letters sent to the FBI all tell a similar story: the Kunzes were personal friends of Fritz Kuhn, the so-called “American Fuehrer” who headed the German–American Bund. When the government succeeded in jailing Kuhn, the Kunzes took his wife into their home. When Kuhn first came up for parole, Adam Kunze offered him a job in his typewriter shop (however, parole was denied). Both Kunzes were unmistakably pro-Nazi. Adam was admittedly less vocal about his beliefs than his actress wife. She is quoted as describing Adolph Hitler (whom she apparently met when she took her children to Germany in 1939) as “a Modern Jesus Christ.” A Military Hearing Board determined that both husband and wife should be excluded from the Eastern military area as security threats. The report of the Hearing Board’s findings on the Kunzes was dated January 26, 1943 so the proceeding must have concluded earlier. I was unable to find the transcript but the procedures used in all such hearings are described here.

Horace Schmahl did know Adam Kunze: two incoming letters from Kunze in March 1940 are noted in the FBI mail cover on Schmahl (see agent Sizoo’s report of May 6, 1940 here). However, Kunze was almost surely Schmahl’s target, not his friend. It seems more than a coincidence that Schmahl’s work for the Naturalization Control Unit ended only three days before the Hearing Board’s final report that the Kunzes were security threats.

Despite Weinstein’s errors in identifying Adam Kunze’s wife and the nature of the couple’s political leanings, I agree that Adam Kunze almost certainly had no role in the fabrication of evidence against Hiss. I base this on the inescapable fact, long neglected not only by Hiss’s detractors (Weinstein and most recently Capshaw) but by researchers who believe Hiss was framed (like Fred Cook): Kunze died (see obituary) before before the counterintelligence community had concluded that Hiss was a spy—before Yalta, before the Amerasia break-in, before transmission of the Ales cable, and before Gouzenko’s defection. Following his death, his typewriter shop was taken over in February, 1945 by his widow and her sister.

[43] The Naturalization Control Unit of the US Attorney’s Office is referred to several times in Schmahl’s appointment letter and personnel file (see pp. 1, 3, 4, and 5). Note that the signature of Armand Chankalian (whose role in the Hiss case as Schmahl’s contact at the Justice Department is discussed in note [40] appears on Schmahl’s personnel papers (see pp. 9 and 10). Schmahl’s own characterization of the Naturalization Control Unit is contained in his Personal History Statement filed with OSS. He lists his supervisor as Howard Corcoran. According to the New York Times (January 14, 1942 and July 7, 1942), Corcoran (along with his subordinate, Armand Chankalian) was deeply involved at the time in “containing” the Bund.

Decisions about whether to prosecute under civilian law or hold a military hearing required careful coordination between Howard Corcoran in the US Attorney’s Office and Lt. General Drum of the Eastern Defense Command and First Army (Governors Island). (See February 25, 1943 letter from Corcoran to Drum.) Schmahl seems to have represented the Army while working for the Naturalization Control Unit. As mentioned in note [41], the Counter Intelligence Corps in this period was actively investigating the German-American Bund. Like the investigation of Hiss a few years later, this involved the joint efforts of the Department of Justice/FBI and Military Intelligence, an often- uneasy collaboration which—although ruled out in theory by the delimitation agreements—nevertheless occurred in practice.

On his Form 6, Schmahl claimed to have worked previously for the Department of Justice as an independent contractor. The FBI mail cover (contained in the FBI report of agent Sizoo dated May 6, 1940) did record 2 incoming letters from the US Attorneys Office of the Southern District of New York. Moreover, Schmahl did translate newspapers of the German–American Bund for the US Attorneys office. (See January 5, 1977 DOJ letter from E. Ross Buckley to author.)

[44] See his Personal History Statement.

[45] Although I have not obtained a description of Camp Ritchie’s course in Questioned Documents and Handwriting, I presume it closely resembled the course on the same subject given at the training school of the Corps of Intelligence Police (which became the CIC). The one month course presented there in 1941 covered the following subjects of instruction: “Elementary document examination; exemplars; tentative comparison; identification; continuous custody; submission to experts; value as evidence; typewriter identification; FBI files; samples from all machines available to suspect; more than one sample from each machine; length of sample; invisible inks; types; use of; concealment; value; paper; chemicals to bring out; test suspected documents.” The handout of Lt. Thompson for a single lecture on Questioned Documents in August 1942 illustrates the subjects covered (handwriting, forgery, typewriters) as do the handwritten notes on his lectures taken by Special Agent Isadore Zack.

For more on CIC training, see John Mendelsohn’s The History of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) (Garland Publishing, 1989).

According to Melchior, CIC training was much more rigorous than OSS training. See p. 20 of Ib Melchior’s memoir, Case by Case. To graduate from OSS training one had to pass the following test: “Because it was impossible to have the graduate agents go up against our real adversaries, the Gestapo and the German armed forces, in a ‘test’ situation, which by the nature of the beast must embody a margin for error, the OSS brass had devised the next best thing. We would be sent on a mission to an American target, fully as important and as thoroughly and completely safeguarded as any enemy objective we might have to attack. We would pit ourselves against our own law enforcement agencies, the FBI, and armed forces security personnel. And these agencies did not know that we were not real saboteurs and spies. It was up to us to complete our mission successfully without being caught.”

Presumably a similar test was used to determine whether the forged documents and credentials of trainees could pass the scrutiny of the FBI lab undetected. This would have been particularly good training for the operation against Hiss.

[46] Consult the correspondence between Donovan, Schmahl, and Wyman.

[47] See James Srodes, “The Spy of the Century,” in The Spectator, Nov. 23, 1996, p. 9–13 and the discussion below in [52].

[48] In 1942, Schmahl told the FBI that he had been employed as the “personal investigator for Colonel William Donovan of the Office of Coordinator of Information.” Tom Moon tends to corroborate Schmahl’s claim in This Grim and Savage Game: OSS and the Beginning of U.S. Covert Operations in World War II (2000, Da Capo Press). He describes an incident in which Donovan proved the capabilities of his OCI outfit to an admiral who was taunting him. Donovan allegedly boasted that he could “get your secret files and blow up your ammunition dump on the other side of the river by midnight ... Donovan went to the phone and called one of his men, Horace Schmahl.” Within an hour, Moon recounts, Schmahl had organized a successful safe-cracking expedition (see This Grim and Savage Game). The source of this anecdote is not identified, but Moon assures me it was not Schmahl. Nonetheless Schmahl enjoyed telling such yarns to gullible listeners, and Moon’s source may have been a syndicated column written three decades earlier by Jim Bishop “The OSS Wasn’t All Grim” which appeared in 200 newspapers around April 16, 1971 (see, for example, Lewiston Evening Journal, p. 4 of that date). The column reports substantially the same story as Moon’s book with “Grim” in its title. Bishop seems to attribute the source of his column to “an articulate gentleman named Horace Schmahl… who is now a shipping and insurance executive.” Given Schmahl’s propensity to embellish and Donovan’s practice of using people “outside of the organization but reporting directly” to him (See Schmahl/Donovan/CIA correspondence), it seems impossible to determine whether Donovan in fact ever used Schmahl as his personal investigator and, if so, whether anything like the yarn recounted both in the book and syndicated column ever occurred.

[49] See my email exchange with Horace Schmahl, Jr.

[50] Wyman’s career prior to October 1946 is summarized in a brief biography. His brief tenure at the CIA is mentioned in his c.v. and in a news story announcing his departure from the Agency. His obituary summarizes a lifetime of service. Highlights of his career were recounted in the Congressional Record.

[51] For the full context, see the December 11, 1948 FBI memo. The language used by the FBI agents on this occasion is reminiscent of the language used in 1942, when the FBI encountered Schmahl guarding a plant producing navigational equipment for the military. See the report of FBI agent Sizoo dated June 25, 1942.

The FBI report of its interrogation of Schmahl contains a passage, which reflects the ongoing turf war between the FBI and G-2 over plant security. The passage refers specifically to a directive from President Roosevelt designed to apportion assignments between the Military Intelligence Division and the FBI: “It was carefully and frankly pointed out to Mr. Schmahl that by the President’s Directive the FBI was designated as the agency to investigate sabotage, espionage and related activities, and that any information which he obtained along these lines should be turned over to this Office; that as a private investigator he had no investigative jurisdiction over activities of this kind or any activities beyond the scope of private employment...” [My emphasis]

Clearly, in 1942, the FBI could not have been distancing itself from Schmahl as a representative of the Hiss defense; and I do not believe that was the FBI’s principal intent in 1948. In both cases, the FBI’s concern was to distance itself from an agent of Military Intelligence and to assert that MI had no business involving itself in a case, which was instead (under the delimitation agreements) the responsibility of the FBI.

For more on the turf war between the Army and the FBI that played out over securing domestic plants of possible use to the military, see Joan M. Jensen.

[52] Summers apparently based this report on an article by James Srodes, who discovered a short, undated, and unsourced file memo in the papers of Drew Pearson, which appears to have been composed sometime in 1948. Pearson identified as George Bowden the aide whom Donovan supposedly dispatched in 1945 to warn the State Department. Bowden was second in command in the OSS. He had organized the secret intelligence branch (SI) in which Schmahl had served. In Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939–1961 by Robin Winks [Morrow, 1987, p. 145], however, Bowden is said to have left OSS in 1944 because of illness. Winks could, of course, be mistaken about the date or Pearson could be mistaken about the identity of the aide. More research (the examination of State Department records, Bowden’s papers, and any wiretap transcripts that are available) is needed to pin down the details of this story.

Pearson’s account is not implausible, however, given that (1) Donovan knew in 1945 that OSS had been extensively penetrated by Soviet agents [Weinstein and Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood, p. 249–264]; (2) Hiss’s boss, Secretary of State Stettinius, had compelled Donovan to return in mid-February 1945 intercepted Soviet codebooks that he had purchased from the Finnish intelligence [ibid, p. 247]; and (3) Stettinius had, at Hiss’s urging, rejected outright Donovan’s offer that OSS collect intelligence at the UN Conference in San Francisco (Stephen C. Schlesinger, Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations, p.93–4).

[53] See note [5]

[54] Athan Theoharis provides an illuminating discussion of this dilemma.

[55] In March, 1946, for example, Hoover advised the Attorney General against a Civil Service hearing, which would have been required to secure Hiss’s dismissal, since he did not think “a hearing would be wise as the material against Hiss was confidential and if it were not used there would not be enough evidence against him.” [My emphasis]. See p. 317 of Weinstein’s Perjury.

[56] The typed summaries contradicted what Chambers had been saying in one important respect: although Chambers had stated under oath on sixteen prior occasions that he had left the Party in 1937, his “lifesaver” contained some material dated 1938.

[57] Consult the FBI memo on the typewriter serial number. For a discussion of this memo and its significance, see John Lowenthal’s article in The Nation (June 26, 1976).

[58] When I say the trial exhibit “could not have been Hiss’s machine,” I am dismissing as implausible the wild conjecture advanced by Allen Weinstein [Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case (Knopf, 1978, p. 365–7)] that the typewriter salesman had stolen a later model machine from his company after his 1927 retirement, sold it to Hiss’s in-law, and then was obliged to lie about the date of sale when questioned by the FBI eleven years later to avoid “opening himself to a charge of larceny.” The salesman, long since dead, was unable to sue Weinstein for damages—unlike some of the living he has similarly libeled.

[59] See the Affidavit of Daniel P. Norman.

[60] Historians claiming that the Hiss case is “closed” and that anyone raising questions about it is “in denial” commit an error in logic. They fail to distinguish the question of Hiss’s guilt from the question of whether he was convicted on the basis of fraudulent evidence.

[61] Judge Goddard dismissed Hiss’s motion for a new trial in part on this second objection, arguing “there is not a trace of any evidence that Chambers had the mechanical skill, tools, equipment, or material for such a difficult task.”

[62] In dismissing the compelling evidence of foul play which the defense had assembled, Judge Goddard also argued this third point: “If Chambers had constructed a duplicate machine how would he have known where to plant it so that it would be found by Hiss?”

[63] Professor Fred Rodell of the Yale Law School recognized the brilliant case that the Hiss defense had assembled in its motion for a new trial. The affidavits reporting the scientific conclusions of the three distinguished experts assembled by the Hiss defense persuaded Rodell that Hiss had been framed and he was outraged that Judge Goddard dismissed Hiss’s motion (See Saturday Review, May 31, 1958.) Writing a half century ago, Professor Rodell was careful to recognize that, as a matter of logic, evidence that Hiss was framed did not establish that he was innocent. Rodell raised several questions about Hiss’s unconvincing explanation of his relationship with Chambers and about his general evasiveness. Rodell went on to say, however: “No—in saying that Alger Hiss was framed I mean that regardless of whether he was once a spy or milder manner of Communist, he was convicted on phony, fabricated evidence” [Rodell’s emphasis]. Rodell thought that it was the FBI which framed Hiss, a reasonable mistake given that no one had recognized until now the involvement of Military Intelligence with its undercover spy-catcher “helping” the defense and its vast experience with document forgery.

[64] For a conceptual discussion of cover stories and what was needed to support them (forged documents, appropriate clothing, etc.) see OSS’s counterfeiting manual and assessment of whether the deceptions were successful. The goal was to enable the agent “to present convincing evidence that the cover was the reality. In this task documentation was only one phase.” For a concrete application of these principles, see the proposal for the cover story of Ib Melchior.

London’s OSS was justifiably proud of its forgeries, which were executed with meticulous attention to detail:

“Even if it was known who signed what and where it was done, what entries should be made in pencil and what in ink, whether a particular photograph should be taken in uniform or civilian clothing, and facing what way, (taking care that documents issued at an earlier time should show a person younger in appearance than those issued later) and a thousand and one other matters that are necessary, one still had to be aware of such things as ink, handwriting, typewriting, etc...”

Fortunately, OSS was sufficiently proud of its accomplishments that it microfilmed the records of its London office. The microfilms are located in the National Archives and printed excerpts (among them the passage quoted) are contained in Covert Warfare, Volume 2, The Spy Factory and Secret Intelligence, 1989. For published excerpts of the remarkable London files at NARA, see Mendelsohn’s volumes.

Forgeries to support cover stories were so routine that the BACH Unit of OSS required the completion of special forms detailing the cover story of the agent and the particular set of documents required to support it. The forms of OSS’s Bach group are discussed in Covert Warfare, Volume 2: The Spy Factory and Secret Intelligence. Tom Moon discusses the location, personnel and procedures of the Bach group in his book This Grim and Savage Game: The OSS and U.S. Covert Operations in World War II (pp. 192–8).

Unlike OSS, the CIC centralized the preparation of cover stories for covert operations around the world in its Operations Section at CIC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was there that cover stories were devised and documents to support them were provided. See pp. 48–49 of The Counter Intelligence Corps in Action, Volume 12 of Covert Warfare: Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Military Deception During the World War II Era, edited by John Mendelsohn (Garland Publishing, 1989), which reprints portions of The History of the Counter Intelligence Corps, Volume V, available at National Archives, Record Group 319.

[65] On December 28, 1948, nearly four months before the typewriter exhibited in court was discovered and turned over by the defense as a trial exhibit, an official of the Woodstock typewriter company reported to the FBI that Schmahl had phoned him to say “[Schmahl] knew present location of the typewriter.” The FBI had already noticed that “Schmahl throughout his own investigation had inquired only about typewritten specimens and that he made no inquiries concerning the typewriter itself; that furthermore it was felt that perhaps Schmahl had knowledge of the present whereabouts of the typewriter...” If Schmahl (or another spy catcher working with him), did track down Hiss’s old machine, that might explain the curious phrasing in the official HUAC report (1951): “The location of the typewriter and certain other pieces of evidence needed during the trial of the case was amazing.” The FBI strenuously denied ever finding the machine. During this period, however, the FBI considered charging Schmahl with impersonating an FBI agent.

[66] It is very reasonable to ask why I think Schmahl was working for the Army rather than for General Donovan. After all, Donovan had previously used Schmahl as his personal investigator and was sufficiently convinced as early as 1945 that Hiss was a spy to warn the State Department.

I doubt that Schmahl was working for Donovan for four reasons: (1) Schmahl confided to the FBI in December, 1948 that he was working for Military Intelligence. (2) Only the Army was disturbed that Schmahl was “talking too much”; Donovan seemed untroubled and indeed still tried to arrange for Schmahl to meet Wyman even after learning of this report from Governors Island. (3) When interviewed in 1973 by Manice Lockwood, Schmahl talked extensively about OSS and Donovan but scrupulously avoided any mention of the Army; indeed Schmahl insisted that he had served in the Navy, never the Army, during the War and even told his interviewer of his attempt to obtain his Navy personnel files from “Miss Silk.” (4) When testifying in court about his wartime service, Schmahl again emphasized his friendship with Donovan and his service in OSS (which, if the records can be trusted, lasted only a few months) but omitted any mention of his service in the Counter Intelligence Corps.

Schmahl’s rapid succession of government jobs (OWI, DOJ, FBIS, etc.) probably reflected the Army’s moving him from post to post as demands for his linguistic, legal, and investigative skills arose. In his trial testimony, however, he declined to identify his real employer (the Army) and instead substituted the Attorney General—testimony the opposing lawyer ridiculed.

[67] The spy-catcher penetrated Hiss’s legal team at a time when Chambers was continuing to insist that Hiss was not one of his espionage sources. See note [5].