Alger Hiss testifying
|Born||November 11, 1904|
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
|Died||November 15, 1996 (aged 92)|
New York City, New York, United States
|School||Baltimore City College high school|
Johns Hopkins University
Harvard Law School (1929)
|Spouse||Priscilla Fansler Hobson (1903–1987)|
|Parents||Mary Lavinia Hughes|
Charles Alger Hiss
|Relatives||Bosley Hiss, brother|
Donald Hiss, brother
Anna Hiss, sister
Alger Hiss (November 11, 1904 – November 15, 1996) was an American lawyer, government official, author, and lecturer. He was involved in the establishment of the United Nations both as a U.S. State Department and UN official. Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950.
Alger Hiss and Joseph E. Johnson, who became a secretary of the Bilderberger organization wrote together with some others the foundation paper of the UNO. Alger Hiss was the first chief secretary of the UNO.
On August 3, 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist Party member, testified under subpoena before the House Committee on Un-American Activities that Hiss had secretly been a communist while in federal service, contradicting his prior testimony under oath that Hiss had never been a communist. Called before HUAC, Hiss categorically denied the charge. When Chambers repeated his claim on nationwide radio, Hiss filed a defamation lawsuit against him.
- „The only two non-Jews in the communist conspiracy were Chambers and Hiss... Every other one was a Jew and it raised hell with us.“ (Statement of President Richard Nixon in 1971, as recorded at the White House on tape and released by the National Archives in 1999.)
During the pretrial discovery process, Chambers produced new evidence indicating that he and Hiss had been involved in espionage, although both men had previously denied this under oath to HUAC. A federal grand jury indicted Hiss on two counts of perjury; Chambers admitted to the same offense, but, as a cooperating government witness, was never charged. Although Hiss's indictment stemmed from the alleged espionage, he could not be tried for that crime because the statute of limitations had expired. After a mistrial due to a hung jury, Hiss was tried a second time. In January 1950, he was found guilty on both counts of perjury and received two concurrent five-year sentences, of which he eventually served 44 months.
Arguments about the case and the validity of the verdict took center stage in broader debates about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the extent of Soviet espionage in the United States. Since his conviction, statements by involved parties and newly exposed evidence have added to the dispute. Although the New York Times identified what it called a "growing consensus that Hiss, indeed, had most likely been a Soviet agent," in 1993 historian David Halberstam wrote, "Many other important files remained closed, including Soviet records, and ironically—even though the House Un-American Activities committee is long defunct—HUAC’s own documents. These were sealed in 1976 for an additional fifty years. Until we have full access, the Hiss controversy will continue to be debated."
- The reference is to Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. (Sources: N.Y. Times, Oct. 7, 1999 and Newsweek, Oct. 18, 1999, p. 30)
- Also at: Judaic Communists: The Documentary Record
- Rosenbaum, Ron (2007-07-16). Alger Hiss Rides Again. Slate. Retrieved on 2007-11-13.
- Barron, James (2001-08-16). "Online, the Hiss Defense Doesn't Rest". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/16/technology/online-the-hiss-defense-doesn-t-rest.html?scp=1&sq=The%20Hiss%20defense%20doesn't%20rest&st=cse. Retrieved 2009-08-29. See also:
"...the vast majority [sic] of modern American historians today and particularly those specializing in domestic Cold War accept Chambers’ overall version of events." Oshinsky, David (2007-04-05). Transcript, Alger Hiss and History, Inaugural Conference (PDF). New York University, Center for the United States and the Cold War.
"Yet the weight of historical evidence indicates that Hiss was ... a member of the communist underground and a Soviet spy." Elson, John (1996-11-25). "Gentleman and Spy?". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,985571-1,00.html.
"In the end, the publication of the Venona intercepts ... settled the matter — to all but the truest of believers." Stanley I. Kutler (2004-08-06). Rethinking the Story of Alger Hiss. FindLaw.
"Most historians have conceded the argument to Weinstein. They have done so, however, not because the evidence against Hiss is clear and definitive, but because the evidence box — filled as it is with a morass of circumstantial detail — leaves them the easy option of finding him guilty of some form of espionage activity during his murky relationship with Chambers." Bird, Kai and Chervonnaya, Svetlana. "The Mystery of Ales". American Scholar Summer 2007.
"The question of his guilt or innocence remains controversial." Svetlana Chervonnaya Hiss, Alger (1904 – 1996) DocumentsTalk.com. Accessed: 2010-09-09.
- David Halberstam, The Fifties (New York: Random House, 1993), p. 16.