Reds in America - Richard M. Whitney

The Stage and the Movies

The Communist party of America was quick to see the excellence of the stage and the screen as mediums through which Communist propaganda could be fed to the public without contravention of the laws. As soon as the report on this phase of extending radicalism to the general public was explained to the high Communist authorities in Moscow a plan was agreed upon to enlist the movies and the stage for this purpose, and Moscow stood ready to spend whatever money was necessary to further such a movement. Charles Recht, the highest Soviet representative of Communist Russia in America today, took up with Will H. Hays, as head of the Motion Picture industry in the United States, the matter of producing radical films to cost $8,000,000, the money to be furnished from Moscow. It is impossible to state exactly how much of this $8,000,000, was raised in the United States and sent to Moscow, but it is safe to say that three-quarters of the amount came from the pockets of citizens of this country, and the chief purpose for which it was solicited was the destruction by force of this Government. Publicity attending this proposal resulted in the failure of the scheme to flood the United States with propaganda films; the Recht scheme fell through.

Unfortunately for the loyal American members of the labor unions of this country the Communists have linked labor with Communism in the film service that is supplied to motion picture houses throughout the country. In addition to this general service, a special class of films is being used at union and non-union workers' meetings, picnics and other gatherings. These pictures are especially designed to create dissatisfaction among the workers by showing exaggerated pictures of life among the rich and the contrast of life among the very poor. In urging the use of these pictures the Communists point out the fact that messages may be conveyed to the public by means of the screen which would not be permitted by law to be spoken from a public platform.

Many prominent "movie favorites," men and women, as well as stars of the legitimate stage are involved, knowingly or unknowingly, in this plan to sow the seed of Communism through entertainment for the public. Isadora Duncan, the dancer, who expressed vitriolic indignation when it was suggested that she, or her new Russian husband, might be tainted with Communism, when they were held up for brief investigation at Ellis Island, is quoted far and wide in Communist newspapers and magazines, published in many languages, in her expression of favor for the Russian Communistic regime. It can be found in big, black type in these Communist publications as follows:

"The martyrdom which Russia is suffering will be as fruitful for posterity as the martyrdom of the Nazarene."

She has never denied having made the statement, as far as is known; she has preached Red Communism in this country, and she numbers among her intimate friends many Communists both in America and in Europe. Yet she was indignant when the suggestion was made that she, or her husband, might be a Communist.

In this connection it is interesting to note that all artists—actors, singers, dancers and the like—coming to the United States from Russia are obliged to secure permission from the Soviet authorities before they are permitted to leave Russia. This includes all, including the Moscow Art Theatre Company, whether of Russian origin or of any nationality. This permission is granted only if the artists agree in writing to three conditions which are included in the contract which enables them to leave Russia. These three conditions are:

  1. The artists agree not to conduct propaganda while in the United States against the Soviet regime. Special preference is shown those who agree to conduct propaganda for the Soviets.
  2. They agree to deduct from their earnings for the benefit of the Soviet State twenty-five or thirty-three percent of their earnings while in this country. (There are evidently two forms of contract.)
  3. They agree to return to Russia at the expiration of their leave.

In order to justify these demands and in order that certain artists will not be alarmed at thus signing away their receipts to the Soviets, the Soviet Government has appointed a "special committee" which supervises the trips and instructions to the artist. This committee consists of reliable members of the Communist party, but for the purpose of distracting the attention of the capitalist nations from the Committee, all official papers are signed by Krassin. It is believed that the money thus collected goes to the International Propaganda Bureau in Berlin, which regularly sends funds to the Communist party of America to aid it in its fight against the Government of the United States. It may be stated authoritatively, at any rate, that a goodly portion of this money, collected from lovers of opera, the stage and dancing in the United States, is used for propaganda of the Communist movement. The artists are "remitted" the amount of their "taxes", according to the contract, if they disseminate communist propaganda in the United States.

Some of the artists coming from Russia are opposed to the Communists, hut they are not allowed to leave the country at all unless they agree to the terms set forth above. In order to control them and divert their attention from the real purpose of their trip, and to conceal from them the use of the money they contribute to the Communist coffers, the "Special Committee" hides behind the name of the Central Famine Relief Committee. The supervision of such artists and money is turned over to innocent-appearing Soviet organizations in various countries, such as, for instance, the Russian Red Cross in the United States. Incidentally, it should be mentioned here that, according to official statements by Soviet authorities, the danger of famine in Russia is past; crops have been excellent, and there is no starvation due to famine. In fact grain is now being exported to central European countries. This authoritative information should be sufficient answer to the hysterical pleas to the American public to "Save Starving Russia."

The connection between the tours of Russian actors and artists and the Soviet ring in Moscow is shown in the certificate furnished the Russian Red Cross representative by the Communist authorities, which reads as follows:

"R.S.F.S.R. (Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic) Central Famine Relief Committee. Special committee for the Organization of Artists' Tours and Art Exhibits, of the People's Commissariat for Education.

"Dated at Moscow-, 192—, No.-.

"The Special Committee for foreign artistic tours and art exhibits hereby certifies that the Representative of the Russian Red Cross in America is granted the right to be an Agent of the Special Committee for arranging in America appearances of Russian artists and for the organizing of art exhibits.

"The Representative of the Russian Red Cross in America is authorized to conduct, in the name of the Special Committee, negotiations with impresarios regarding the conditions under which artists will appear and will conclude in its name, contracts with the impresario-promoters with the sanction of the Special Committee in each particular case, in accordance with instructions given to the Russian Red Cross.

"The Representative of the Russian Red Cross is obliged to render to Russian artists aid in the judicial defense of their interests in the event of a violation of the contract on the part of the impresario.

"(Signed) B. KRASS1N,

"Acting Chairman of the Special Committee."

Early in the movement the Communist ring in Moscow awoke to the fact that the American people were profligate with money spent on foreign theatrical and operatic talent. It took but a short time for them to begin the organization of companies to be sent on tour in the United States in order to get some more of that easy money for Moscow. It has already been noted that a part of the plans of Captain Paxton Hibbon, as set forth in an interview in the Moscow Izvestia, official organ for the Communists in the Soviet regime in Russia, to raise money for Russia was by arranging "a trip of Russian actors to the United States, together with musicians and artists who will under the auspices of the Russian Red Cross [which is controlled by the Red Government of Russia] help to collect means for the relief of Russia and at the same time will prove to the American public the high standard of Russian art reached during a time of revolution."

The spoken word, however, even singing and dancing, do not carry Communistic propaganda as far or as adroitly as do the films, which accounts for the fact that the Communists are devoting more attention to the films than to the legitimate stage. To be sure, the stage brings in a steady, reliable income which the Moscow ring greatly needs and so this feature of the work is continued. Every "artist" sent over from Russia under contract with the Soviet Government allots a definite portion of earnings to the Government as is specified in the contracts. And the people of the United States who patronize these performers may be assured that they are seeing the best there is in Russia; for there is abundant and reliable evidence that instead of a "high standard of Russian art reached during a time of revolution," the stage and all the arts in Russia have fallen into the lowest state of degradation reached in any country in modern times. With the theatres patronized exclusively by the peasants and workers the stage has been brought down to a new low level. The drama is now almost entirely lewd and suggestive beyond anything ever seen in any country before.

Inasmuch as some controversy has arisen over the documented facts stated above, concerning the relations between the Soviet government and the Moscow Art Theatre, other evidence which clearly substantiates these official statements, is presented in the following. During the winter of 1921-1922, Mr. Morris Gest successfully initiated "Russian" dramatic propaganda in this country by presenting the Chauve-Souris at the Century Theatre in New York. On August 28, 1922, most of the New York morning papers carried announcements to the effect that Morris Gest and F. Ray Comstock were bringing "Europe's foremost theatrical organization, the Moscow Art Theatre" for a limited engagement to begin in January, 1923. These articles comprised about a column and a half respectively in The New York Times and The Herald and were identical in language and of a style easily recognized as written by a press-agent. In the course of a lurid description of the histrionic abilities of the Moscow Art Theatre group, this press-agent release said, italicized for emphasis:

"Permission of the Soviet government has been obtained for the American tour under unusual circumstances. The company has a leave of absence from Moscow for seven months from next January. But under the conditions of this leave of absence it must return to its home stage in time to celebrate the silver jubilee of its founding in the early autumn of 1923. [As a matter of fact this troop is still in the United States (Jan. 1924).]

"The culmination of the negotiations in Mr. Gest's invitation and the Moscow Art Theatre's acceptance marks the completion of one of the most intricate, prolonged and costly parleys in the annals of the contemporary theatre. Ever since last February, when Mr. Gest made the first overtures to Moscow, following the enormous success which Balieff's Chauve-Souris had scored, the cables have been kept busy. Thousands of words have passed in both directions, and in June, Nikolai Rumiantseff, business manager of the theatre, arrived in New York to conduct negotiations in person."

The Moscow Art Theatre evidently started for America promptly. Cyril Brown, special correspondent of The New York Times at Berlin, cabled his paper under a date of Sept. 2, the following:

"The Moscow Art Theatre Argonauts will sail on their own ship from Soviet Russia on Sept. 10 with the intent to tour America and display Russian art, under a pledge to refrain from all Bolshevistic propaganda or any other political activity, under the management of Morris Gest. The Soviet government has placed a special ship at the Art Theatre's disposal for transportation of scenery, properties and personnel from Petrograd to Stettin, Germany.

"The Soviet was forced to tender shipping because the railroad service is such that special trains could not be spared to transport the Art Theatre with its elaborate bag and baggage.

"Water transportation for the troup from Petrograd to Danzig costs 333,000,000 Soviet rubles.

"It took a lot of red tape before the Soviet government gave permission for the Art Theatre's journey to America. . . . "

The advance guard of the Moscow Art Theatre landed in New York on the last day of 1922, according to The New York Times of the following morning. The party included Sergei Barthenson, designated as the manager. A release by The American Defense Society, comprising the substance of the documentary evidence above given, had some days previously been broadcasted to the American press, and it had caused vigorous denials and protestations of disbelief on the part of many interested persons notwithstanding its authoritative character. Upon landing, a reporter asked Barthenson:

"'It is said that 33% of the profits from the American tour will go to the Soviet government.'

"'That is not true,' said Mr. Berthenson. 'The proceeds of the first five performances will go to the Russian Relief Association, which is like the American organization now working in Russia. It will be devoted to feeding and clothing destitute Russian people and especially the children. We do not pay any state tax to the government nor have we consulted the Soviet in any way before coming to the United States."

The players themselves landed Jan. 4, 1923. In the large party at the dock to greet the new arrivals was Sergei Rachmaninoff, the pianist, and "Boris Anisfeld, who has done many of the scenic settings at the Metropolitan Opera House." When Constantin Stanislavsky, "one of the two founders of the famous cooperative organization" was told that their entrance to this country had been protested by The American Defense Society on the ground that support of the Moscow Art Theatre would contribute either directly or indirectly to the support of Communist propaganda in this country, he said through an interpreter, shaking his head:

"'It is not so. We have no connection with the Soviet government.'"

The next reel in this "Russian" theatrical scenario is given by The New York World, September 15, 1922. The article follows a "double head" and is itself "double leaded," thereby placing the information it contains in the important or "must" class. The caption reads:


The body of the article follows:

"Otto H. Kahn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Company and liberal patron of the arts with many millions is the silent figure, sometimes called 'angel,' back of the Russian Art Theatre movements in America, The World learned from authoritative sources yesterday. Mr. Kahn, when questioned as to his cooperation with Morris Gest of Comstock-Gest admitted he was instrumental in the New York presentation of Balieff's Chauve-Souris and that he was sponsoring the coming visit of the Moscow Art Theatre Company to America.

"The financier, one of the best known patrons of the arts, did not go into figures regarding his support of Mr. Gest, but was enthusiastic in his praise of the producer who brought to this country new and striking organizations. . . . "

The same issue of The World contained a special dispatch from London in which it is stated that "Feodor Chaliapin, famous Russian baritone-bass, who sails for New York, Oct. 25th, and who is to fulfil a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company, to-day said he is to receive 30% more than Caruso ever got from the Metropolitan for the same number of performances. His contract is for a minimum of fifteen appearances.

"Chaliapin told The World representative he intended to go into the movies while in America and would play the leading part in a novel scenario in which he is collaborating with Maxim Gorky." The World, in comment following, places Chaliapin's salary at $4,000 for each appearance at the Metropolitan.

The busy Mr. Gest then returns from Europe again in a gray topper and will neither affirm nor deny cabled reports to the effect that he would bring to America Lady Diana Manners or Eleonora Duse. He did say, however, according to The Times of August 16th, 1923 that "he had now got his parents with seven brothers and sisters living in Berlin, after spending four years in getting them safely out of Odessa. They will remain in the German capital, he added, until his mother's health has been completely restored. Then he will bring his family to America."

Meanwhile, it is announced from Moscow through the medium of The Times, June 29, 1923, that "the ex-imperial ballet of Petrograd will give a season in New York next winter, with full cast of two hundred artists from the Petrograd schools and a selection of its unparalleled costumes and decorations. Ivan Vassilivich Ekskosovich, Director of the State Theatre, Petrograd, informed The New York Times to-day that authorization had just been received for an American tour, which, unlike the Art Theatre, will be unpreceded by performances in Europe."

After reciting the difficulties which beset the company during the trying days of the revolution when "bullets flew in streets outside, though stage and dressing rooms were in arctic cold through lack of fuel," nothing daunted, these Russian stage-folk of the Petrograd State Theatre, "carried on its business as usual." Then the story continues:

"Now there has been formed a mixed company with the State to run the Petrograd Stale Theatre in Russia and abroad."

The Labor Film Service was the name of an organization, as usual using "labor" as a medium of appeal, formed for the express purpose of presenting radical films for exhibition before American audiences. The field director of this organization was, from the start, J. D. Cannon, of Seattle, Washington, a radical leader who had been active in iron and steel workers' strikes and an official of the Mine, Mill and Smelters' organization. Cannon carefully canvassed the United States, selling stock in the Labor Film Service at $10 a share, chiefly to members of labor unions, with the argument that he was going to present films to counteract the capitalist films being shown which placed labor in a false and undignified position. He made no secrecy of presenting radical films, although to the union members he did not admit that he was working for Communism. He announced that the pictures presented by his company would be propaganda in behalf of radical and labor unions, motion pictures describing what he called the terrible conditions existing among the working classes in the United States. The pictures were designed to stir up antagonism and hatred between workmen and their employers.

One of the first pictures presented was The Contrast, by John W. Slaton, a well-known radical of Pittsburgh. One of the pictures in this masterpiece portrayed a child taking food from a garbage can besides a dog belonging to some rich person, and was entitled "To be seen in any great city—it costs $10 a day to feed this dog." The advertising matter concerning this picture proclaimed:

"The girl in this picture will be seen coming around a street corner, seeking something to eat from a garbage can, acting as though she feared detection. Then a maid will be seen carefully leading this pedigreed dog into an elegantly furnished dining-room to partake of a tempting chicken dinner, but already surfeited he declines to eat."

Cannon harped on his desire to present "the truth" to the public through the medium of these pictures, and The Contrast may be cited as an example of his idea of the truth. It was also advertised that the following suggestive questions would be shown on the screen in connection with this picture:

"There were no labor unions in Egypt during many centuries. Why did that nation lose her civilization two thousand years ago?"

"There have been no strikes in China for six thousand years. Does that account for her long death-like sleep and submerged millions?"

"In view of these facts, what would happen in America if the labor movement would be crushed?"

"If it is dangerous, therefore wrong, for labor to organize and strike, is it not equally wrong for capital to organize and raise prices?"

"If wage workers should not organize solidly, why should lawyers, doctors, business men and ministers organize?"

Another graphic bit of screen advertising shown during the progress of the picture reads:

"The next scene will be thought-compelling. It will show a worker's dining-room table with empty dishes. The wife enters from kitchen, babe in arms, little girl clinging to mother's skirts, and she will say: 'Mamma, I am hungry.' The mother will bid them all to sit at the table and wait for papa, with whose coming she expects food. He enters, but is empty handed. When the mother sees this her head bows, tears start, the babe is pressed tightly to her breast. The father throws his coat aside, looks at the empty table and hungry family, rea.ds the splendid extract from the Declaration of Independence, folds his arms and shakes his head."

The American Federation of Labor made a report on Cannon in 1921 ib which it was pointed out that he had been a member of the Western Federation of Miners, and when he came East he was appointed organizer for the Metalliferous Miners of which Charles Moyer was the head, "just previous to his arrival," the report continued, "the late John Mitchell was having a series of conferences with the mine owners for the purpose of getting recognition for the organization. The mine owners had practically agreed to recognition of the union when Cannon began making speeches advocating action along the lines of the Western Federation of Miners, with the result that the mine owners backed up on the Mitchell proposition and not only refused recognition, but decided to give any organization that might he formed a light.

"In the territory of which Mr. Cannon was in charge, comprising the States of New York and New Jersey, there were more than 40,000 men engaged in this industry. He has been very active in all radical movements; has talked syndicalism aryl approved Sovietism. He has taken sides with secessionists against the legitimate trade union organization, and has been very close to Morris Hillquit and Sydney Hillman and groups of similar stripe. He is now selling stock for the Labor Film Service Company, an organization in which Hillquit is interested."

In one of his letters sent to labor unions throught the country Cannon stated that bis company had secured another picture, The Jungle, based upon Upton Sinclair's novel, which he said had been made five years before. "It was produced," he wrote, "before the evil influence now so evident in the moving picture world got such a hold on industry. We are going to revise the picture and bring it up to date." This process, it developed, was to make the scenes depicted by Sinclair appear to be true pictures of today. An attempt was made to publish a Labor Film Magazine in connection with this company, but the New York police authorities refused to grant it a permit. It was plainly evident that a part of the work proposed was to take moving pictures of any situation reflecting against the Government in its treatment of workers in the enforcement of law and order, and then display them at radical meetings for the purpose of inciting class feeling. Another of Cannon's letters, this one addressed to a radical in Oakland, Calif., contained the following informative paragraph:

"Our enterprise bears the endorsement of such prominent leaders as Norman Thomas, Rabbi Judah L. Magnes, Scott Nearing, Louis Waldman, I.M. Sackin, etc. We also have endorsement of the Central Federated Union, United Hebrew Trades, Italian Chamber of Commerce and other labor organizations."

Robert C. Deming, director of the Connecticut Board of Education, came into possession of some literature of the Labor Film Service as far back as 1920, and in referring to it made use of the expression that "Lenin and Trotsky are not short of agents in this country." It is also known that a motion picture producer, Guy Hedlund, of Hadlyme, Conn., had at that time been approached with an offer to go to Germany for the purpose of developing film publicity. This offer, it is understood, was refused, as it was evident that this propaganda was intended to aid the radicals.

The film. The Contrast, was probably the most successful picture presented by this company. It was shown, sometimes publicly and at other times secretly, in practically every important city in the country. Its connection with the Moscow Communists was plainly demonstrated, although not for public information, at a meeting of the Chicago Federation of the Friends of Soviet Russia, a Communist branch organization, at No. 220 West Oak Street, on March 2, 1922. At that time a representative of the Labor Film Company was present soliciting business for this film for use by the Friends of Soviet Russia. Moritz J. Loeb, of the Friends of Soviet Russia, took occasion to state that this body was not only a relief organization but its members were really friends of Soviet Russia and used their influence to promote the efforts of that regime to secure recognition. He said specifically that the real function of the Friends of Soviet Russia was to bring pressure on the capitalist governments, especially the United States, in order to force them to recognize Soviet Russia officially.

Loeb, who was then secretary of the Chicago organization of the Friends of Soviet Russia, said that the film could be used for propaganda purposes and shown in regular motion picture houses, and that through this propaganda many sympathizers could be reached who would not be wilting to sit through or even attend a lecture on the subject. The representative of the Labor Film Service assured those in attendance upon this meeting that the film had been made in a most radical manner, showing things that a speaker could not-give utterance to on a public platform.

The Cooperative League of America, the American branch of an international organization which has in its membership a number of Communists and radicals of other hues, officially indorsed the Labor Film Service and urged all persons interested in the cooperative or trade union movements to patronize it. It is interesting to note that labor union officials. Communists and "parlor bolshevists" were also interested in this organization.

The Communists are never asleep on matters that can be turned to their advantage. When Orphans of the Storm, one of D. W. Griffith's great plays, was produced, the Communists discovered that it might be utilized as excellent propaganda for their cause. Accordingly the word was sent out for all Communists to "press-agent the film as much as possible and this was done. This is not meant to reflect, even by inference, that Mr. Griffith was interested in aiding the Communists, but the Communists believed that he was aiding them and appreciated it.

The attitude of the Communists is best explained by indicating the "atmosphere" of the plot as shown by one of the captions. This read: "Danton, the Lincoln of the French Revolution!" The film was afterwards suppressed in France.

The success, much of it under cover, of the Labor Film Service Company, although after a year or more it proved a failure, resulted in other efforts to enter the radical film field. In California the Mission Pictures Corporation was organized and a Mrs. Clews, prominently identified with the Teachers' Council movement in Los Angeles, approached a number of the wealthy radicals of that city and Pasadena asking support for this company, which had been recently formed, and the first picture of which was Science of God. This company at that time wbs preparing to start work on another radical picture to be called Robinson Crusoe , a Social Pioneer.

Bruce Rogers, the notorious West Coast Communist, who was in Southern California collecting funds for the Communist party of America and the Federated Press League, sold a film scenario to Lasky. The real author of this scenario, it is said, was in Alaska, but Rogers disposed of the picture and enjoyed the proceeds.

In the Communist files are found mention of Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Norma Talmadge, Lila Lee, Allan Hollabar, Charles Ray, Percival T. Gerson, Rob Wagner, Eric Von Stroheim, Joseph Schenck, William C. de Mille and others connected with the motion picture industry. Some of them are known to be in hearty sympathy with Communism and to be close friends of Communists, to whose cause they have contributed largely.

When William Z, Foster, the salaried industrial director of the Communist Party of America, was in Los Angeles shortly before the party convention at Bridgman, Michigan, which he attended as a delegate, he was the guest of honor at a reception given by Charlie Chaplin, the film comedian at which were present many radical members of the "movie" colony at Hollywood and a number of parlor bolsheviks. Among them were William C. de Mille and Rob Wagner. On this occasion Chaplin is said to have told Foster that neither he nor any of the stars associated with him had any use for Will Hays. "We are against any kind of censorship," the comedian said, "particularly Presbyterian censorship."

At this reception the great importance of motion pictures with their educational and propagandist appeal for the cause of the labor movement and the Communist revolution was openly discussed and several instances were cited of the introduction of radical ideas into motion pictures and on the legitimate stage. Mrs. Kate Crane Gartz, a wealthy Pasadena society woman who has many friends among the radicals, told those present at the reception that she had recently been approached by a scenario writfer named "Hocheimer," and asked for a large sum of money to put radical Communist propaganda into scenarios "to do the greatest possible good to the cause." Mrs. Gartz was one of those who gave letters of introduction to Charlie Chaplin appealing for funds to aid the strikers, to Comrade Plotkin, an organizer for the Garment Workers' Union in the East, when he was sent by the Communists to agitate among the railroad strikers in Southern California.

As an instance of radical propaganda finding its way onto the legitimate stage the Communists call attention to The Fool, which was tried out at the Majestic Theatre in Los Angeles, preparatory to placing it on Broadway. Richard Bennett took the principle role: that of a minister of the Gospel who undertakes to settle a strike, forces the company to accept the strikers' terms, resulting in the loss of millions to the company, and does a number of impossible things in defiance of the present social system. The Fool is said to have traits of Jesus Christ as well as of Dostoevsky's Idiot. Since Hauptmann's Die Weber, the drama depicting the revolt of striking weavers in Silesia, it is said that no stronger radical labor propaganda has been produced for the stage. One of the most effective scenes in The Fool, it is reported, is one showing a Polish labor agitator in a fiery soapbox speech against the ten-hour day and for better working conditions and higher wages.

Foster, who is one of the Trustees of the Garland Foundation, told Charlie Chaplin and Mrs. Gartz on his visit to Los Angeles, that the Garland fund could be depended upon to be used in aiding any of the radicals who got into trouble with the authorities. But Foster was especially prolific with promises to the effect that there would be many uses for the funds promised by the eccentric New England Harvard youth. Foster said the Federated Press was to get $100,000 and a number of Communist workers on the Coast were promised salaries.

Bruce Rogers was the money-getter for the Communists, to whom Robert Morss Lovett, Harvard '92, as president of the Federated Press League, wrote urging him to see and collect money from William C. de Mille, Allan Hollabar, and Eric Von Stroheim whose pro-Germanism made him a prominent figure during the war; Dr. Percival T. Gerson, Will Rogers, Charles Ray and Charlie Chaplin. Lovett said in this letter, which was quoted in an earlier chapter, that he had written these men, that "they helped us before and will do it again," and assured Rogers that "these men are with us." It may be of interest to "movie fans" to know that William C. de Mille married a daughter of Henry George and has been very active in single-tax movements.

It has been known for a long time that Charlie Chaplin has been interested in radical movements and a heavy contributor to radical funds, much of which found its way into Communist channels. He and Lila Lee, a Famous-Player star; and Raymond Griffith, playwright, motion picture producer and actor, were among the guests of Mrs. Gartz and Prince Hopkins at the now famous dinner given in honor of Upton Sinclair, when there was a gathering of radicals of every known hue, on April 5, 1922. Among the speakers on this momentous occasion was the redoubtable Chaplin, who told with great gusto of his pride in having given District Attorney Woolwine, of Los Angeles, what he called "a good lesson regarding the real meaning of syndicalist ideas." Chaplin said that he had visited Woolwine in his office and discussed with him the subject of criminal syndicalism. He asked Woolwine to show him one of "those terrible, cut-thoat murderous I.W.W.'s, whereupon one of the I.W.W. prisoners was brought from the jail for his edification. Chaplin said that he and the district attorney questioned the prisoner and "were much impressed by the intelligence and enthusiasm of the clean cut young radical."

It was in August, 1922, that Charles Recht, the New York lawyer who defended Ludwig C.A.K. Martens and succeeded him as head of the Soviet Russian Government representation in this country, conducted negotiations as was stated earlier in this chapter, with Will Hays, as head of the motion picture industry in the United States, regarding the order Recht received from the Moscow Government to purchase films to cost $8,000,000. These films were to be made in the United States and to be entirely for propaganda purposes. They were to be anti-Christian, anti-capitalistic, and to show the great advantage of Communism over the present state of affairs in the rest of the world.

Recht sailed for Europe early in September, 1922, with an appointment to meet Norma Talmadge, the film star, and her husband Joseph Schenck, a motion picture producer, on Sept. 25, at the Hotel Breslin in Berlin whence they were to go to Moscow to conclude the negotiations for an extensive picture propaganda campaign. Schenck and his wife, it U understood, failed to get to Moscow because they could not get satisfactory guarantees for their personal safety. Will Hays may not have had the slightest idea of what Recht was deliberately aiming at during the negotiations the two had and when the proposal was publicly exposed the deal fell through.

The Friends of Soviet Russia undertook some time ago a nation-wide motion picture campaign to aid in obtaining American gold for the Soviet Government to handle under the guise of relief funds. These pictures were taken in Russia and were manifestly propaganda films. Censors in various parts of the country so cut the films, however, that they were at last reduced to nothing but lantern slides. Automobiles were furnished to take exhibitors of these slides from one city to another in order to get as extensive publicity for the propaganda as possible.

Early in 1922 a number of prominent New York people allowed their names to be used as patrons and patronesses of a "Russian Fair and Costume Ball," given by the American Committee for Relief of Russian Children, under the impression that they were really lending aid to famine sufferers. They did not know that their efforts were being given to aid in the perpetuation, through the force of the Red ; Army, of the present regime in Russia before any thought was given to the starving children. The names of some of the most prominent writers, artists and some society women misled by plausible appearances, were sandwiched in with the names of Scott Nearing, Charlie Chaplin and Constance and Norma Talmadge.

In connection with the efforts to disseminate Communist propaganda by means of public amusement, should be mentioned renewed activity on the part of the Communists to capture the youth of the world for Communism. In a circular "about the session of the Bureau of the Communist Youth International," marked "strictly confidential!" found in the mass of documents captured by the Michigan State authorities when they raided the illegal Communist convention at Bridgman, the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International in Moscow gave specific instructions that the Communists of all the countries of the globe must make a special drive to get at the young children who are gathered in such organizations as the Catholic youth unions, the Y.M.C.A. organizations and the Boy Scouts. This document was in German.

In passing, it should be mentioned that the Bridgman raid was the greatest blow sustained by the Communist party of America, and therefore by all radicals, in the history of the United States. The Michigan authorities caught seventeen of these men actually conspiring Uo overthrow the United States Government by force, found the records of every delegate to the convention, the financial statements of the party, "sucker lists" of many cities, written instructions to the Communists from the directing circle in Moscow of which Lenin and Trotsky are the active principals, and almost countless documents which prove the conspiracy and the guilt of every person in attendance.

The document pertaining to capturing the youth of the world for Communism confesses that these organizations of youngsters constitute the "greatest obstacle to the development of Communist youth organizations," and so should serve to keep loyal citizens of all countries firmly behind such bodies. In one part of this circular it says:

"There are four big groups of such unions [referring to organizations which 'count big masses of young workers among their members' and which must be combated 'with great energy']:

  1. "The Catholic youth unions (mainly in Latin countries and their colonies).
  2. "The Protestant youth unions ( . . . in Central Europe and Scandinavia).
  3. "The Young Men's Christian Association (in the Anglo-Saxon countries).
  4. "The Boy Scouts."

The full text of this circular, intended as a guide book, or hand-book to be used by those bent on debauching the youth of the world with Communism, runs to upwards of ten thousand words. With the strict confidence enjoined by the Communist organization issuing it broken by the officials bent upon the enforcement of the law, this document now constitutes a challenge to loyal parents and Americans of maturity to lend aid and support to every move that strengthens these organizations of youth whose influence among voung workers is so great that the world-wide Communist organization fears them and must outline a campaign of battle to alienate them from ideas of religion and patriotism.