Document 15: Testimony of George Hewitt

Washington State Joint Legislative Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities,
Second Report: Un-American Activities in Washington State (Olympia, 1948), 248-89.

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MR. HOUSTON: Will you place state your name?

MR. HEWITT: George Hewitt. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Mr. Hewitt, are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir, I have been a member of the Communist Party since 1926. I left in 1944. . .

MR. HOUSTON: Have you ever held office or positions of responsibility in the Communist Party?

MR. HEWITT: I have many—I've held many offices. I at one time was the —a member of the National Committee of the Party. I was a member of the National Control Commission; I was section organizer at Harlem; I was an editor of the "Negro Liberator," one of the newspapers that the central committee of the party placed out in their drive toward Negro recruitment. Later on I became another organizer in the Long Island section of New York City.

MR. HOUSTON: Now, Mr. Hewitt, were you ever in the City of Seattle before in your life until you came to this hearing?

MR. HEWITT: This is the first time.

MR. HOUSTON: Since you have been in attendance in this room have you seen any people that you've recognized?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: Would you name those people that you recognize?

MR. HEWITT: Well, Professor Gundlach.

MR. HOUSTON: Professor Gundlach, Professor Ralph H. Gundlach?

MR. HEWITT: That's right.

MR. HOUSTON: You're positive that's the same man?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: Anybody else?

MR. HEWITT: Mrs. James.

MR. HOUSTON: Mrs. Florence Bean James?

MR. HEWITT: That's right.

MR. HOUSTON: Anybody else?

MR. HEWITT: Professor Rader.

MR. HOUSTON: Professor Rader. Is that Professor Melvin Rader?

MR. HEWITT: Melvin Rader.

MR. HOUSTON: Now, you've had occasion to meet him face to face?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: He is the man that—you're positive of your identification?

MR. HEWITT: Very definite.

MR. HOUSTON: All right. Now, let's go back, and suppose you tell us the circumstances under which you met Professor Ralph H. Gundlach.

MR. HEWITT: In the State of New York, in the year 1938 and '39, there was for the first time a practical attempt made to carry out the decisions of a conference that we had in Moscow, under the leadership of this same Manuilsky who was the U. N. leader for the Ukraine. He was one of the top secret men working with us in the Lenin School. At this meeting was Elizabeth Lawson, "Pop" J. Mindel, who is now the . . . Commissar of Cultural and Educational Activities in the United States for the Communist Party, and a few others that I will go into a little later; but nevertheless, this meeting in the United States was an offshoot of this preparation made in Moscow. It was the first secret school of professionals ever held in this country. It had about seventy students. . . . I taught in this school, and I taught also in the state secret school where I had the occasion to meet and converse with a number of these Communist professors, under strict obligations of secrecy.

MR. HOUSTON: Now, where was this school held?

MR. HEWITT: Up near Kingston, New York, on Briehl's farm. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Now, these students, you say, were professional men. Were they primarily teachers, or engineers, or lawyers, or what?

MR. HEWITT: Teachers from universities.

MR. HOUSTON: Now, how were these people selected, to be in attendance there?

MR. HEWITT: Very carefully, by the National Board or National Committee of the Party. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Now, I will ask you if any of the men you have named were in attendance at that school?

MR. HEWITT: Professor Gundlach. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: And he attended this secret Communist school. Is there a shadow of a doubt as to whether he could have attended that school and have not been a member of the Communist Party?

MR. HEWITT: No, sir, he could not. He would have to be a member of the Communist Party to attend that school.

MR. HOUSTON: And selected by the National Committee?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: Did Professor Melvin Rader attend that school?

MR. HEWITT: The same answer applies.

MR. HOUSTON: Now you are positive that that is the Melvin Rader you have seen here in this room?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: And that you met face to face less than an hour ago.

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir.

MR. HOUSTON: Now what year was this school held?

MR. HEWITT: That was in the—about the year '39—'38 and '39.

MR. HOUSTON: How long was the course?

MR. HEWITT: It was supposed to be a course of a month and a half.

MR. HOUSTON: Six weeks.

MR. HEWITT: Six weeks intensive study of Marxism-Leninism for the professional personnel.

MR. HOUSTON: This was secret, completely from the public.

MR. HEWITT: Definitely.

MR. HOUSTON: Was this school—did it teach revolution against the Government of the United States?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir. It taught Marxism-Leninism, Political Economy, Parliamentarianism, methods of illegal and legal work, the state, which is the basic concept of Marxism-Leninism, and when you speak of the state, or teach the state, you teach the dictatorship of the proletariat, which means how to overthrow the capitalist form of government. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Now just before—I don't—we've got to hurry along—but in your testimony the other day you stated that you, in two places, that you had seen a woman by the name of Florence Bean James in Russia.

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir

MR. HOUSTON: And that there were other occasions in America. Would you elaborate on that just a little bit?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir, one of the most popular places for people of the Cultural International Communist field-center, I would say, in Moscow was known as the Meyerhold Theatre. . . . It was the Repertory Theatre of Moscow. . . . I was very intimate with the . . . people [in charge of] this theatre and they discussed very loosely the Americans who would come to Mrs. James.

MR. JAMES: You're a liar. [Mr. James then asked Mr. O'Brien, who legally represented him and his wife, to speak with Canwell. O'Brien and Canwell conferred quietly for a moment.]

CHAIRMAN CANWELL: I wish to state for the record at this time that we have a request by counsel for a reluctant witness, who is willfully in contempt for refusal to give testimony. This request indicates a desire to challenge testimony.

We have made every reasonable and consistent effort to get such witness to tell her story under oath. This, she was obviously unwilling to do. We cannot, as a Committee of the Legislature, accept a condition that a witness testify only to information of her or her selection. As to the questions brought up by counsel, they will be discussed with our investigators and considered but we cannot take the position that a witness who refuses to testify has any standing on his own until he does willingly come to the stand, tell his story, answer the questions that this Committee has a right to ask. Then that person has every right to tell their part of the story; and we will proceed with no further disturbances from the back of the room.

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Chairman, this Committee—

CHAIRMAN CANWELL: I will ask to have you removed, Mr. O'Brien and Mr. James, if we have any further outbursts back there.

MR. O'BRIEN: Perjurer—


I wish to state, also, that we cannot, as a Committee of the Legislature, permit the Communists, their friends, or advisors, to take over a function of the Legislature. These hearings are held for legislative purposes, and they are not held as a forum to debate the authority of the Legislature, and I want that strictly understood that these hearings are held for legislative purposes only.

Shall we proceed? . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Will you continue? . . . Now, did you see or hear Mrs. James at any other places in Russia?

MR. HEWITT: As I state, Mrs. James was considered to be of prime importance from the point of view of cultural infiltration. We discussed these things very seriously, and there was no bones about it. . . . I had the occasion to see her in the Comintern headquarters [and] the Profintern Building which was where . . . they had cultural trade union activities there. . . . She appeared before these high authorities in this section of the Soviet Union.

[After a recess, Houston resumed his questioning of Hewitt.]

MR. HOUSTON: What, to the best of your recollection, is the date you returned from Moscow?

MR. HEWITT: The latter part of 1933. . . .

MR. HOUSTON: Now, in your testimony the other day you said that you thought you went to Russia early in 1930 and returned early in 1934. Yesterday, that you thought it was in late 1939. . . Now, can you clarify that, which you think is correct, and how a mistake could occur of that kind?

MR. HEWITT: Yes, sir. It's quite possible that in the sequence of dates that one could confuse a certain date, such as dates eighteen years back. I'm not an authority on remembering time, hour, days, but generally one can fit a certain situation in a category of events. It is very clear that a number of people could be in the Soviet Union in the year 1934. I don't doubt this, but it's very definite that the people were there in 1932, without a question of doubt. . . .

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