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To: email@example.com Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2007 9:05 AM Subject: Max Bedacht I am glad to see that the latest report on Max Bedacht's comings and goings in 1932 confirms that he was in fact in New York for considerable stretches of time in July, August, and September, 1932, and not simply on July 9 and August 25, as some have maintained. There was certainly enough time for him to have made the alleged contact with Bedacht, which after all required only the day of the actual contact. Chambers recalled that this summons from Bedacht came in June. The available documentation shows that it could not have happened in June. How to interpret this? My training is as a historian, not a lawyer. And as a historian I would not immediately conclude that Chambers (or any individual in a similar situation) was lying, that he invented the whole story. After all, many people when trying to remember an event 15 years after it happened, might not get the exact month right, even though the basic thrust of their recollection is accurate. Recall for Chambers was all the more difficult because those who engaged in work for the illegal apparatus were warned not to keep any evidence of their activities, such as diaries, correspondence, etc. The reason is obvious: the police or FBI might suddenly seize these records and the operations would be endangered. So Chambers had no records he could consult before he melodramatically (and rather foolishly) declared that it was specifically a "hot June day" when he met Bedacht. As a historian I would at least consider the possibility that Chambers had simply misremembered. Perhaps the event occurred not in June, but at some other time that summer, in July, August, or September. The question then becomes: is there other evidence to support Chambers' assertion? Here the memoir of Nadezhda Ulanovskaia is important. She asserted that the account provided by Chambers in his autobiography was accurate, and that Bedacht was in fact responsible for contacts between the CPUSA and Soviet intelligence in the early 1930s. Why would Ulanovskaia lie about this issue? I have yet to see any attempt to refute Ulanovskaia's testimony. As for the contention that in the summer of 1932 Bedacht did not have enough time to serve as the link between the CP and Soviet intelligence agencies, here we are in murky territory. How much time did such a task require of the member of the CPUSA who was chosen to carry out this responsibility? Bedacht, it seems, did not like this sort of work, carried it out reluctantly and perhaps not very diligently, and took the earliest opportunity to pass off the duties to someone else, J. Peters. I know quite a bit about Peters in his role as supervisor of the illegal apparatus. His contacts with the GRU (the Soviet agency with which he had the closest contacts) apparently took up only a small percentage of his time. For example, in 1933, 1934, and 1935 Peters did a good deal of "legal" CP work. He was part of a triumvirate running the Organization Department. He traveled frequently all across the country to give speeches, do union organizing work in Detroit, and to supervise the work of the districts. He spent a good portion of his time on his project for forging passports and other documents, which involved only brief contact with Soviet agents. So serving as the "link" between the CPUSA and Soviet intelligence agencies was by no means a full time job. Finally, the many historians and critics who gave very favorable reviews of Tanenhaus's work on Whittaker Chambers certainly did not find it to be "politically-inspired hagiography" or accuse Tanenhaus of being a "partisan" Just because a scholar, after intensively studying the evidence, concludes that Chambers was by and large telling the truth does not make him or her a "partisan." The reason Tanenhaus's book has been much praised is that the author carefully and objectively sifted the evidence and presented a persuasive interpretation. Tanenhaus has made the massive collection of evidence he accumulated available to researchers at the Hoover Institution Archive. Anyone who wishes to refute the arguments in his book should make a careful study of this evidence. It might require a series of articles or even a book to do so, but I'm sure objective readers would welcome such a work and would keep an open mind to persuasive interpretations that differed from those of Tanenhaus. Tom Sakmyster Professor of History University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH 45221