The Woodstock Typewriter
Between WWI and the end of the second world war, many people believed world communism was the only way to put and end to war. Not all the proponents of communism in the US were refugees from the ghettos of Russia. Americans who wanted to bring the United States into a global form of government were eager to spy for the “mother country”.
Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers were both Americans who believed in a one-world government and became members of the communist party and both became spies for the Soviet Union.
During the second war, when Stalin could no longer hide reports of the millions of Russians he murdered, the majority of utopian idealists woke up and broke from the party. Many of those who worked as spies and tried to break free were assassinated.
Chambers became disillusioned with communism but Hiss did not. Hiss worked in FDR’s Justice Department, State Department and became close friends with the Roosevelts. The President was told many times that Hiss was a soviet agent but FDR would always turn a deaf ear. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt’s administration was filled with communists including Harry Dexter White who was assistant Secretary of the Treasury and Harry Hopkins, FDR’s closest advisor.
Hiss was with the President when he met with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta in 1945 to discuss post-war policies. He was instrumental in convincing FDR to hand over Eastern Europe to Stalin and to give the Soviet Union the majority of influence in the United Nations.
Hiss wrote the Charter for the United Nations and became its first acting secretary-general, and eventually went on to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In 1948 the House on Un-American Activities called Whittaker Chambers to testify against his friend Hiss, who denied being a communist. During the hearings Chambers provided proof that Hiss was part of a large group who were working in the Federal Government and sending sensitive information to Stalin. That’s where the Woodstock typewriter came in to play. Chambers produced evidence of Hiss’s espionage with four handwritten notes in Alger Hiss’s handwriting, five strips of microfilm and sixty-five typewritten copies of State Department documents typed on Woodstock typewriter number 230099. Although Hiss wasn’t charged with espionage because the statute of limitations had expired, he was found guilty on two counts of perjury and served three years of two five-year sentences.
After the Soviet Union fell in 1991 and the Russian archives were opened and the US released the Venona transcripts, the final proof was revealed that Hiss was, in fact, an agent for Soviet military intelligence (GRU).
Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Woodstock: