Top Ten Reasons Alger Hiss is Not Guilty

Many years and tens of thousands of pages of FBI investigation found no trace of Alger Hiss and subversive activity.i

No mention of Hiss has been found in archival documents of the Communist Party of the United States.ii

No evidence has been found in any available Russian archive showing that Hiss was involved in any Soviet service, secret or otherwise.iii

Had Alger Hiss – US State Department mandarin for many years – been a Soviet spy, he’d have been a national celebrity; and yet his name is unknown in Russia, where Western spies like the Cambridge Five and Klaus Fuchs are famous. iv

The ex-KBG officer and journalist Alexander Vassiliev, on whom U.S. scholars depend for their evidence that Hiss was an agent code-named Ales, testified in London’s High Court that he never saw any evidence of Hiss as spy. He found a cable demonstrating that “Ales” was in Mexico while Hiss was highly visible in Washington, DC, organizing the UN. v

In the 69 years since Nixon began his crusade not a single credible witness has corroborated Whittaker Chambers’s tale of Hiss as a spy. Nor was the FBI able to confirm it despite many years of fruitless

FOIA searches reveal that the FBI knew the typewriter on which Hiss’s wife allegedly reproduced secret documents could not possibly have been the Hiss family typewriter. vii

FOIA searches also reveal that the three “pumpkin patch” film canisters, which Nixon claimed proved the “greatest treason conspiracy in American history,” contained only pages of maintenance manuals from the public shelves of the Bureau of Standards library. viii

Grand jury proceedings – kept secret until 1999 – reveal that Nixon knew that all the evidence produced by Chambers was innocuous. ix

The extraordinary conclusion is that if Alger Hiss had been a Soviet spy, neither the American secret services nor the Soviet secret services knew anything about it.x


iVictor Rabinovitz, Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer’s Memoir (Urbana and Chicago: University Of Illinois Press, 1996) pp.14, 144, 145. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The American Experience (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1988) p.68.

iiHarvey Klehr, John E. Haynes and Kyrill M. Anderson, The Soviet Secret World of American Communism (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998) pp.xv-xvi, “collections were open for research” (Communist Party USA records thru 1944). Klehr, Haynes and Fridrikh I.Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995), p.321 “indeed his name never occurs.”

iiiThe following bulleted list gives a partial accounting of the Russian scholars and experts who have studied the Alger Hiss Case at the request of Westerners.

  • Colonel-General Dmitri Volkogonov, former head of the USSR Defense Ministry Military History Institute in a letter to Professor John Lowenthal in 1992. “Mr A. Hiss has never and nowhere been recruited as an agent of the intelligence services of the USSR.” Lowenthal asked, “In your opinion, if Alger Hiss had been a spy, would you have found some documents saying that?” “Positively.”
  • Lieutenant General Vitaly Grigorievich Pavlov, deputy head of Foreign Intelligence’s American Division 1939 to 1941 and later deputy head of Foreign Intelligence itself, in an interview with Dr Svetlana Chervonnaya, Russian historian and archivist, May 23, 2002. “At the time when I first read in the press of the charges against State Department official Hiss I had an immediate question: could he really be involved? And I do remember exactly that on all lines, including operational, I was told clearly: he has nothing to do with foreign intelligence.” Quoted by Matthew Stevenson, in Remembering the Twentieth Century Limited (New Hampshire: Odysseus Books, 2009), p.114.
  • Major General Julius Kobyakov of the SVR, once Deputy Director of the KGB’s American Division, wrote in 2003 that he had studied: “Every reference to Mr A. Hiss in the SVR (KGB NKVD) archives” as well as their “sister services” and had concluded that “Mr A. Hiss had never had any relationship with the SVR or its predecessors,” Humanities and Social Sciences Online, h-diplo Discussion Logs, email from Julius Kobyakov,, October, 10, 2003:
  • “I have found in the SVR archives positive hard evidence that Alger Hiss had not had any relationship with the SVR or its predecessors.” Ibid., October 16, 2003: .Ibid., October 10 2003: “I am ready to eat my hat if someone proves the contrary.”
  • Vladimir Fedorov, Chief of the Main International Relations Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, in a letter to Tony Hiss dated November 6, 2002: “Please be informed that the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation possesses no material on Alger Hiss’s involvement of any nature in the activities of Soviet military intelligence…This conclusion was made after a thorough examination of all archival materials.” Quoted by Matthew Stevenson, op.cit, p.114.
  • Oleg Danilovitch Kalugin, former Major General, Head of KGB operations in Washington, in a Los Angeles World Affairs Council television program, C-Span 2, January 13, 1992: “Some, not-too-honest KGB officers would gladly declare that ‘Hiss is my agent.’ In fact, he is not.” “Venona and Alger Hiss,” by John Lowenthal, Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 15, no. 3, 2000.
  • Lieutenant General Pavel Sudoplatov, head of the NKVD’s Administration for Special Tasks, which carried out sabotage operations behind enemy lines in wartime: “There was no indication that [Alger Hiss] was a paid or controlled agent which I would have known”. The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness – A Soviet Spymaster (London, Little Brown & Company, 1994), p.227.
  • Major General Boris Labusov, Head of the Press Bureau of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), in a letter to Professor Lowenthal: “[the Russian journalist] Alexander Vassiliev worked in our press office just here in Moscow, but, if he’s honest, he will surely tell you that he never met the name of Alger Hiss in the context of some cooperation with some special services of the Soviet Union.” Notes from telephone conferences between Lowenthal and Labusov, July 21, and December 8, 1999.” Op.cit, Lowenthal, 2000.
  • Professors Nikolai Sivachyov and Evgeny Yazkov of Moscow University: History of the USA since World War 1, translated by A.B. Eklof (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1976), pp.237-238, “The case of Alger Hiss…was an obvious fabrication.”
  • Professor Igor Usachev, John Foster Dulles: A Political Myth and the Reality (Moscow: Mysl, 1990) pp.167-168. “The Hiss case was used as a pretext to unfold in the country the persecution campaign of progressive public men.”

The list above could easily go on. Not a single Russian official contacted found anything indicating that Hiss was involved in any way whatever with any Soviet secret service. Books published in English by Russian insiders about Soviet spy craft either dismiss the idea of Hiss as an agent or don’t mention him at all.

Agents generate such huge amounts of paperwork that had Alger Hiss actually been a spy there would have been so much paperwork as to make it very surprising that no-one with access to Soviet archives has yet been able to find it.

ivQuote from email to JB from Dr Svetlana Chervonnaya, July 27, 2009.

vNeutral Citation Number: [2003]EWHC 1428 (OB), in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London WCA 2LL, Friday, June 13,2003, before Mister Justice Eady. See trial record, tapes 7 and 3, transcript by Anna Kuprina, 2009: In the course of this trial, Alexander Vassiliev testified, “I didn’t see the document saying directly that Hiss is Ales.” The jury bundles also included the letter from him to Victor Navasky, former publisher of The Nation, on October 17, 1999: “I never saw a document where Hiss would be called Ales or Ales may be called Hiss. I made a point of that to Allen [Weinstein].”

vi and

vii A Soviet spy called Hede Massing did testify that she flirted with Alger at a party over which one of them was to recruit their host for the cause. But the party she describes could not have happened according to State Department records and had not happened according to both host and hostess. Neither the FBI nor Massing's own controller believed it had, and KGB general Kalugin commented “Some, not-too-honest KGB officers would gladly declare that ‘Hiss is my agent.’ In fact, he is not.” See and

And an economist called Julian Wadleigh testified to giving information to Chambers but knew nothing at all about Hiss.

viii “What the FBI Knew and Hid,” by John Lowenthal (The Nation, June 26, 1976):">

ix I.F. Stone, “The ‘Flimflam’ in the Pumpkin Papers” (The New York Times, April 1, 1976):

There are three sets of documents:
1 Baltimore Papers: typed sheets debunked by the Justice Department & handwritten scraps, also debunked by Justice.
2 Pumpkin rolls of film: 35mm negatives of typed sheets from Sayer's office: debunked by Sayers himself before the grand jury. The only spyworthy material in the exchanges was NOT included in the films, though it was found in the State Dept copy.
3 Pumpkin undeveloped film in canisters: maintenance manuals.

x As soon as Nixon’s grand jury testimony became public in 1999, his knowledge of this was obvious: Of the 3 canisters, he himself described their contents to the first grand jury: “having mainly, incidentally, the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics report which were worth nothing whatever” Of the Baltimore papers, he had the Justice Department’s report; of the Sayre papers, he had Sayre’s dismissal.