DW: M. Stanton Evans, co-author with Herbert Romerstein of Stalin's Secret Agents and author of Blacklisted by HIstory, is currently working on a larger piece addressing the spate of attacks on American Betrayal.
In the meantime, he has given me permission to publish the following.
"Harry Hopkins, Diana West and Me"
by M.Stanton Evans
To understand the attached email exchanges between John Earl Haynes and myself some background information is needed.
There are a lot of details here that amount to “inside baseball.” It is however precisely from the accumulation of such details that the true history of the Cold War will be, or more accurately should be, written.
By far the major issue in this discussion is whether President Roosevelt’s top adviser, Harry Hopkins, was in back channel communication with the Soviet KGB in the 1940s, and if so for what purpose he would have been in contact.
The role of Hopkins in this respect has recently been pushed to the forefront by Diana West’s book, American Betrayal, in which she references two Hopkins-related items derived from Soviet sources. One is a decrypted KGB message in the Venona cable series between Moscow and its U.S. agents. This involved a May 1943 conference (called Trident) between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Present at the meeting was a KGB source code named “No.19”, who reported to the Soviets a confidential conversation between the two leaders.
In 1998, Air Force historian Eduard Mark published a lengthy essay about this cable and the Trident conference, concluding that “No. 19” in fact was Hopkins. (Though not contending that he was in such contact for disloyal purpose.)
A second Hopkins item referenced by West is the statement of a KGB defector, Oleg Gordievsky, quoted in a 1990 book by British Cold War historian, Christopher Andrew (KGB: The Inside Story). In this discussion, Gordievsky recalled a Moscow lecture by Iskhak Akhmerov, a one-time high ranking KGB “illegal” in the United States.
In this lecture, according to Gordievsky, Akhmerov said that during World War II the Soviets had many agents in the U.S., but that their “most important” agent was Hopkins. This shocking assertion – later modified by Gordievsky, per Andrew, to “unconscious agent”— was the more so as Hopkins in Gordievsky’s telling was identified by name, not by a pseudonym or symbol subject to interpretation.
Among other things discussed by Diana West, these Hopkins references have ignited a firestorm of attacks against her—principally by Ronald Radosh but also by others—accusing her of impugning the loyalty of Hopkins, and saying she is misrepresenting the Cold War record.
A main emphasis in this Radosh attack is the contention that Eduard Mark recanted his position on No. 19-as-Hopkins and that this discredits her position, to wit: “At a conference on Soviet espionage held a week before his untimely death, West’s source, Eduard Mark, publicly stated that he now acknowledged that Harry Hopkins was not Agent 19, and that the conclusion he reached in his 1998 article was false.”
The conference referred to was a meeting held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington in May 2009, discussing the notebooks of another KGB defector, Alexander Vassiliev, and the book Spies, by John Haynes and Harvey Klehr, based on the Vassiliev data. The reason I somewhat mysteriously got pulled into the current dispute is that I happened to be present at this meeting, along with my associate and co-author-to-be, the late Herb Romerstein.
Also present at the meeting were Eduard Mark himself, Radosh and Harvard Cold War historian Mark Kramer. As the accompanying memos show, Radosh and Kramer have lately been contending that Eduard Mark got into an exchange with me about Hopkins, and that it was in the course of this that Mark recanted his position on No.19, saying that he had been wrong in naming this KGB source as Hopkins.
(This assertedly in response to a John Haynes analysis based on the Vassiliev papers, indicating that No. 19 in fact was Laurence Duggan, an oft-cited pro-Soviet official in the U.S. State Department of the era. A condensed version of this analysis is contained in the Haynes email to me of August 22, attached.)
I don’t pretend to know whether No. 19 was Hopkins or Laurence Duggan—there are problems either way—but I certainly know that the references to me by Kramer-Radosh are totally in error. I had no such encounter with Eduard Mark, about No. 19 or anything else, then or ever.
It was because of these inaccurate citations of me in support of Radosh’s attack on West that I wrote the accompanying memos, which supply other specifics on the matter. As I say in my second email, such wildly inaccurate statements about my alleged but nonexistent role in provoking Mark’s comments lead me to wonder about the whole recantation scenario.
Again, the point about all this is far larger than misstatements concerning me, or the book by Diana West. The real story to be told is the true saga of Harry Hopkins—FDR’s key adviser in the war years – a mystery that has yet to be unraveled.
M Stanton Evans to John Earl Haynes 08/20/2013
Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 8:02 PM
To: John Haynes
It was good seeing you some weeks back at the Benn Steil event, though there wasn’t a chance to do much more than say hello. Ironically, in view of the current Ron Radosh attack on Diana West, both of them were present also.
In which connection, Diana West has forwarded to me her correspondence with you concerning Eduard Mark and Venona source 19, with a separate memo from Radosh (in which I am somewhat surprisingly and inaccurately mentioned). This quotes Mark Kramer on Eduard Mark's supposed recantation on the issue. In this memo, Kramer says he remembers my raising the issue of Hopkins and No. 19 at the Vassiliev--Spies conference, and that Eduard Mark “intervened” in the course of my remarks to say that he had changed his mind about the subject.
Kramer further said that Eduard Mark and he discussed the matter on the way to the Metro, and Radosh adds the reinforcing comment that “others, including me, remember this quite well” (presumably meaning the conference part, as distinguished from the Metro, but maybe the latter also). In your letter to Diana West, you in substance concur with the above, though without any mention of me .
Concerning all of which, some observations, and a question.
First, if Mark Kramer and Ron Radosh “remember” such an episode involving Eduard Mark and me, they remember something that never happened. I had no such encounter with Eduard Mark about Harry Hopkins, No. 19, or anything whatever. My contribution to the discussion concerned J. Robert Oppenheimer. I had brought with me part of the FBI file on Oppenheimer, and read from it segments in which Communist leaders Steve Nelson and Bernadette Doyle were recorded by the Bureau as saying Oppenheimer was a CP member but had to lie low because of the war time work that he was doing. This reading led to a brief exchange between me and Vassiliev, a later rejoinder from Martin Sherwin, and later still a brief discussion between you and me about the Oppenheimer issue.
Thus the supposed recollections of Kramer and Radosh about my part in all of this are totally mistaken. I don't know what Eduard Mark may have said on the way to the Metro, or in other settings where I was not present, but he never said anything to me, or in response to me, about No. 19 and Harry Hopkins. If Kramer-Radosh are so distinct in their remembrance of something allegedly involving me that I know to be in error, I marvel at their powers of recollection.
So much for me. What actually happened on the Harry Hopkins front as I observed it was essentially as follows: The Hopkins-related comments that apparently ignited a response from Eduard Mark were made not by me but by Herb Romerstein. Herb got into a somewhat testy exchange with Vassiliev about Akhmerov, and in the course of this alluded to the Gordievsky/Akhmerov reference to Hopkins as a Soviet agent.
This seemingly angered Mark, who made a subsequent statement denouncing the allegation that Hopkins was a Soviet agent – comments evidently aimed at Herb, though not by name. None of this had anything to do with me. Even more to the point, it also had nothing to do with No. 19, but was instead apparently triggered by Herb and the Akhmerov matter. Equally important, it was not in my view a Mark recantation of anything, since his 1998 essay, though saying the case was ambiguous and uncertain, strongly implied that Hopkins was not a Soviet agent. In particular, Mark discussed the to him apparently greater likelihood that Hopkins was a hyper friendly contact with the Russians whose activities led some of them to think he was a kind of agent for them , since they didn’t know about things he was otherwise doing to oppose them.
Accordingly, none of what happened at the conference, so far as my knowledge and participation were concerned, amounted to any kind of recantation by Mark. If such recantation did happen on source 19 or anything else, it had nothing to do with me, or as far as I know Herb, or anything else occurring there that I was aware of then or later.
Again, if something was said by any of the parties where I wasn’t on the scene, I of course can’t confirm or deny what happened. But I certainly deny the Kramer-Radosh version involving me.
Now my question about all this. I have read with great interest your rebuttal to Mark's 1998 essay saying Hopkins was No. 19. In this rebuttal, written in January 2013, you counter with your thesis, backed with numerous references to Vassiliev’s papers, that No. 19 in fact was Laurence Duggan. You further contend, in answer to Mark's view that Duggan wasn't at the Trident conference, that he could have been, though not showing up on the attendance lists or in other relevant records, as an aide to Henry Wallace (whose presence at this particular meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill is based on your further inference from the cover names – quite reasonable, I think, as you and Mark both explain it, concerning Wallace.)
That said, my question is: If you knew Mark had recanted his position on Hopkins-No.19 three-plus years before you wrote your rebuttal in January 2013, why didn't you mention this in your essay? That obviously would have settled the matter beyond all cavil, as nothing could possibly have been more conclusive in favor of your analysis.
Indeed, mention of this could have obviated the need for a rebuttal entirely, since all you had to say was “Eduard Mark recanted his position on No. 19 in my presence at a conference in 2009.” Alternatively, if you wanted to write your rebuttal anyway to spell out the details for Mr. Fetter, it would have been an irrefutable capstone to your argument. But in the text I have you didn't use it.
Knowing how comprehensive and thorough you are both in documentation and in argument, I find all this extremely puzzling. Any clarification you can offer would be appreciated.
PS Since drafting this memo, I have read your latest essay on Hopkins, written with Harvey Klehr. I notice that this contains a footnote on the Mark affair, to the same general effect as the version discussed above, thus giving the story greater prestige and status. As the person whose name has been freely and I might add rather recklessly tossed around –though not by you—as the supposed provocateur of Mark’s recantation ,I am intensely interested in knowing exactly how the recantation story came to be, and what might be the factual basis for it. (I note that in your email to Diana West you say you remember the remark at some session of the conference.) Any further information you can provide would be most welcome. Best, Stan
John Earl Haynes to M Stanton Evans 08/22/2013
We put the mention of Ed's remarks at the 2009 symposium in a note rather than in the text in order not to give it undue status because, most importantly, the Vassiliev notebooks provided more than ample documentation that "19" was Duggan, so Ed's 2009 remarks warranted noting but only noting.
In the essay we provided the page numbers of the entries on Duggan and "19" in Vassiliev's notebooks. There are many entries and here are three of relevance.
White Notebook #1 p. 45
Mer’s letters to C. through Zarubin
“Re “Frank.” – For the sake of convenience and simplicity I will continue to call “19” “Frank.”
My relationship with him has improved significantly. He is not displaying his former nervousness and conveys the impression of a person who is sincerely sympathetic to us…
Unfortunately, “Frank” is not especially active in serving us needed information. True, events have confirmed some of his principal reports over the past few months. He still refuses to meet more than once every four or five weeks. He attributes the skimpiness of his information to the fact that he deals primarily with his own area and doesn’t have any access to materials in other areas. He views himself as mistreated and oppressed in the office and doesn’t seek out close contact with his colleagues.
Just to be on the safe side, I tried to introduce him to “Nelly.” He politely declined this idea.
I offered him a phone number and address here or in Washington where he could call or write a message to me; he gently turned this down, too. All this shows that he prizes his safety and doesn’t want to become tightly connected to us.
Sometime in the future I may have to tell him my surname. It’s hard to set up a realistic cover story about how we got to know him, and equally hard to develop a natural friendship with him, when he doesn’t know my surname.
I hope he will not betray us on his own initiative: he is quite tightly connected to us through his materials (29.7.42).
Yellow Notebook #2 P. 30 (from Duggan's personal file)
Mer – to C 9.10.42
“He is an honest and genuinely progressive-minded person…He is a true American with all the patriotic qualities, and has spent a number of years doing significant, high-level work towards the realization of the USA’s imperialist ambitions. [Mer wanted to introduce 19 to “Nelly” in case he was drafted into the army.
Mer – to C 17.11.42
“He is a genuinely progressive American. He sympathizes with us and understands our role in this war, but at the same time, he is an American patriot through and through. His intellect is shaped by his continued, concrete work putting into practice America’s influence on its neighbors. He is not a fellowcountryman or a paid probationer, and he is absolutely determined not to risk his position. Having once been burned, he is prone to significantly exaggerating any danger. He used to bring me bundles of the most interesting materials from his office; now he does everything he can to avoid even citing his sources when he reports something to me.”
[Av annotation in right hand column] In his letters, Mer calls 19 Frank
And “Frank” is identified both in AV’s notebooks and in Venona as Duggan while Mer is identified in both as Akhmerov
The third passage of particular relevance to Venona 812 is from White notebook #1 page 55, an August 1944 message (after Venona 812)
C. to May (11 August 1944) (copy of cipher cable)
Information has been received that Amer. intelligence has installed microphones in all Soviet institutions in the US. Am. intelligence has established the names of many Sov. intel. agents working in the most varied businesses.
Change of pseudonyms: Mer — Albert Informer — Douglas
Nelly — Stella 19 — Sherwood
Pal — Robert Dir — Cat
Polo — Donald Carmen — Miranda
Jurist — Lawyer Don — Senor
Clever Girl — Myrna Satyr — Rita
Hell — Lion
Sherwood, the former “19”, is identified in the notebooks and in Venona as Duggan.
All of the pages where Duggan, "19", etc are in the notebooks and in Venona are in the essay and both sources are available on the web in easily searchable formats at the Wilson Center virtual archive. There are so many references to "19" as Duggan from the mid-30 to 1944 in AV's notebooks that I cannot take seriously the view that "19" in Venona 812 is someone other than Duggan.
Second, as we explained in the essay, we don't give much evidential weight to non-contemporaneous memories of what someone heard someone else say absent other corroboration. That is why we regard Gordievsky's twenty year old memory of what Akhmerov said of events twenty years earlier as worth noting but not much more than that. At the symposium Ed did mention briefly in one of the Q&A sessions that he no longer held to his view that "19" was Hopkins. I remember the remark but don't specifically remember at which session it was, only that it was an interjection when someone else was talking, presumably something involving Hopkins, but I don't remember who. Mark Kramer says it was in a session he chaired and while he thought it was an interjection on something you said he now thinks it might have been Herb. In any event he also talked to Ed about it when they went to the Metro after the session ended that day and Ed was clear he no longer held that "19" was Hopkins. And Ron Radosh also remembers Ed's remarks. I thought that in the essay, however, we should not go beyond my less clear memory which, of course, didn't bring you into it at all. In any event, given our attitude that hearsay evidence of this sort should be kept in mind but not given great weight, a note seemed the appropriate place. We simply to not regard what Ed said as of anything other than minor interest. It is irrelevant to the matter of "19's" identity.
As was mentioned in our essay, when Vassiliev's notebooks came into our hands, our regard for Ed's historical skills was such that he was one of the specialists we gave copies to a year before the notebooks were made public in order to prepare papers for the 2009 symposium.
When I gave him the notebooks I mentioned to him that there was material on "19" in the notebooks. This was not a total surprise to Ed. In 1999 Weinstein and Vassiliev's book, The Haunted Wood, had come out and there were references in it to Duggan with the cover name "19" in the 1930s. Andrew and Mitrokhin's first book, also 1999, also mentioned "19" as Duggan in the 30s. Ed and I had discussed this when the books came out. (Ed often stopped by my office at the Library of Congress to discuss Cold War history and our latest research.) Ed's assumption/hope was that "19" was Duggan only in the 30s and his conclusion about "19" in 1943 was still possible. I didn't think so, and both books reinforced my view that Harvey and I had been exercising proper caution in our Venona book decision to stick with the Venona analysts designation of "19" as unidentified. The notebooks, of course, settled the matter.
When I gave Ed the notebooks I assumed he would review the entries on "19" even though he was focused on Hiss. We were both busy in this period, me with getting Spies ready and Ed with his Hiss essay, and when we met we were usually discussed Hiss, a major concern to both of us and getting the Hiss story right was important to both of us.
I didn't want to be in an 'I told you so' mode, so I left it to Ed to raise the matter of "19" when he felt like it. I never had any concerns that he would not accept the evidence. Ed was an excellent archivally oriented historian, and after he examined them he regarded AV's notebooks as totally reliable and was enthusiastic that they would allow him to put an end to the Hiss matter. Ed was deeply frustrated, indeed outraged, that Intelligence and National Security had published an article by John Lowenthal that in a highly mendacious essay continued to defend Hiss and denied that "Ales" in Venona was Hiss. Ed responded with “Who Was ‘Venona’s ‘Ales’? Cryptanalysis and the Hiss Case,” Intelligence and National Security 18, no. 3 (Autumn 2003). He thought the essay he prepared based on AV's notebooks would be the definitive scholarly word on the Hiss case. It may be.
The only reason Ed's brief remark at the symposium sticks in my mind at all was that I had been waiting for him to bring up the "19" issue. I thought we might talk about it at the dinner after the end of the symposium for paper givers, but Ed begged off attending, explaining that lately his energy level had deteriorated and he found it difficult to stay awake after 9 PM. At the time I attached no special significance to that, but Ed died only a week or so later, in his sleep, from heart failure. I assume his declining energy was, in fact, a symptom of his declining heart. I thought it a great loss to scholarly history. It was also a personal loss to me. Ed was, well, a peculiar personality, a loner, and rubbed lots of people the wrong way. I, however, admired his dogged research skills, shared his interpretive stance toward Cold War history, and happily accepted his eccentricities (as he accepted mine). He was a friend and I regret his premature death.
M Stanton Evans to John Earl Haynes 08/29/2013
On Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 7:31 PM, Mary Jo and Bill
Thank you for your reply to my recent memo. I appreciate your taking the time from a crowded schedule to address my questions.
I wrote to you at such length because I wanted to correct the wildly inaccurate record out there concerning what I said at the conference, and also because I wanted to get your further comment on the Mark recantation issue.
In your response you de-emphasize the recantation business, saying it is a distraction from the main issue-- the evidence that No. 19 in fact was Duggan. That the main issue is Duggan vs Hopkins is of course true, but the two elements obviously go together. If Mark in fact recanted, as noted in my previous memo, that would for most people have clinched beyond any doubt that No. 19 was Duggan.
As to the significance of this whole side dispute, I also think it overblown – not just the recantation part, but the No. 19 stuff in general. The matter was never discussed by me at the conference, or by anyone else within my earshot. If it was discussed, I never heard it, or even heard about it in connection with the conference, until Radosh and Kramer brought it up in the attack on West.
In which connection, it’s noteworthy that Kramer in one of his emails describes the Mark recantation issue as a “red herring.” That’s an interesting thing for him to say, as he has been quite active in dragging this red herring across the path, and doing so repeatedly.
In point of fact, he and Radosh have raised the recantation issue at least four times I know of (there may be others I haven’t seen), three of them involving me – all for the purpose of clinching the argument that No. 19 was Duggan instead of Hopkins. These statements are explicit, quite circumstantial, and categorical in nature—and as they relate to me, completely false. They are as follows (emphasis added throughout):
1) Radosh in his 7,000 word attack on West, entitled “McCarthy on Steroids” ( August 7 ): “At a conference on Soviet espionage held a week before his untimely death, West’s source, Eduard Mark, publicly stated that he now acknowledged that Harry Hopkins was not Agent 19, and that the conclusion he reached in his 1998 article was false.”
2) Radosh expanding on this on August 17, quoting an email from Kramer, saying: “Ron, I can definitely confirm it. I was chairing the session, and Ed intervened when Stan Evans referred to Harry Hopkins as No. 19. Ed said, ‘the Vassiliev notebooks show that this isn’t true. I thought it was but it isn’t. When I found out that I’m wrong, I’m willing to admit it.’ I talked about this with Ed after the session, as he and I were heading for the metro station.”
To this statement from Kramer, Radosh added: “Others, including me, remember this quite well.”
3) On August 18, Kramer expanded further on the recantation theme in another message to Radosh, circulated to you and others. This says : “Yes, Ed made the comment while Evans was talking, but Evans just continued talking, evidently unaware (or at least not willing to acknowledge) that he was being contradicted.”
To this Kramer again added the comment about the metro, but with some puzzling changes: “I was unable to call on Ed because the session was already going too long and the WWICS had a reception scheduled. As Ed and I were walking to the metro afterward, I told him that I had wanted to have him speak but was worried that it would prompt further comments by Evans and Romerstein. So I just called a halt.”
Kramer wanted Eduard Mark to speak but didn’t call on him because of Evans and Romerstein? Compare this to the Kramer quotes from Mark, in paragraph #2 above, which are quite different . In the new version “Ed intervened” has disappeared, along with the rather full bodied statement by Mark recanting his position. Now it appears that I (and perhaps Herb) somehow or other prevented Mark from being called on to speak in answer to my alleged comments . Which is it?
4) Also on August 18, Radosh emailed to Andrew Bostom, a person unknown to me but a defender of West, once more stressing Eduard Mark’s (non-existent) exchange with me, as relayed by Kramer and confirmed by Radosh. This is worth quoting at some length:
“So you [Bostom] accept the hearsay of Gordievsky, then a junior officer, of what he heard 20 years ago supposedly from Akhmerov 40 years ago, and don’t accept what Mark Kramer, a distinguished scholar and Cold War historian, says took place at a conference that is recent at which I and others heard this exchange? The exchange came up while discussing another point, and was not the focus of the entire conference. It occurred only because he answered the argument made by Stan Evans. Why should there have been a major presentation about it in an exchange during a Q and A discussion?
“If this is hearsay, and hence you dismiss it, you must also dismiss the Gordievsky claim as hearsay. I await your answer to this, Dr. Bostom.”
As you can see from these quotes, the “red herring” about Mark’s supposed recantation was repeatedly brought into play by Kramer-Radosh, not by me . Further, as set forth in my earlier memo, all of this as it pertains to me is fantasy, pure and simple. No such encounter between Eduard Mark and myself ever happened, period.
Looking at this amalgam of conflicting and constantly shifting statements about something I allegedly did but in fact did not leads me to question the whole recantation scenario that it relates to. Hence my inquiry to you in my earlier memo about your recollection of the matter.
In your reply you indicate that Kramer now says he may have been mistaken about me – which would be quite a switch from the repeated and explicit statements quoted above – and that the person who got into an exchange with Eduard Mark was Herb. But if this is the revised new version, it still doesn’t get the job done, since Herb ‘s somewhat oblique exchange with Mark was premised on Akhmerov, not source 19. Their opposing statements concerning Hopkins (both of which were in fact recorded) are as set forth in my previous memo.
As you probably know, Herb’s emphasis on the Gordiesky-Akhmerov angle was of long standing. He for example set forth his conclusion that Hopkins was a Soviet agent in reviewing the Gordievsky-Christopher Andrew book over 20 years ago (Human Events, January 12, 1991). This was based mainly on the Gordievsky comments (with some not-too-flattering Herb references to Andrew), but also on Hopkins episodes involving Kravchenko, Zarubin, Philip Faymonville and others. None of this concerned No.19 or Mark’s article on the subject, which wasn’t published until 1998.
Even more to the present point it was the Gordievsky –Akhmerov matter, not source 19, that Herb referenced in his comments to Vassiliev at the conference about the workings of the KGB, which apparently angered Mark.
As you also know, Herb’s assessment of all such issues was based on great first hand experience and extensive knowledge : his personal acquaintance with Gordievsky, long study of the KGB and 40 plus years of real-world experience in the intelligence wars. (This backed by senior intelligence officers who de-briefed Gordievsky in the ‘80s, and maintained contact with him thereafter, who strongly vouch for his veracity and reliability in such matters.)
I personally have never contended in speech or writing, that I could on my own authority conclude that Hopkins was a Soviet agent, since I don’t have the credentials or expertise to make such a judgment. Herb, however, had both. The contention to this effect via Gordievsky-Herb thus can’t in my view simply be dismissed in casual fashion as “hearsay” and swept under the carpet. All of which, however, is the topic for another day – and another essay.
In the meanwhile, my thanks as ever for your time and your attention to this memo.