Wednesday, September 24, 1952
TESTIMONY OF HARRY
SLOCHOWER, BROOKLYN 26, N. Y., ACCOMPANIED BY HIS ATTORNEY,
ROYAL W. FRANCE
Raise your right hand, Doctor.
You do solemnly swear in the matter now
pending before this subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the
United States Senate, that you will tell the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I do, sir.
Mr. MORRIS. Will you give your full name and
address to the reporter, please?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. My name is Harry Slochower,
S-1-o-c-h-o-w-e-r, and I live at 221 East Eighteenth Street, Brooklyn
26, N. Y.
Mr. MORRIS. What do you do, Mr. Slochower?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You mean: What is my
Mr. MORRIS. What is your occupation?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I teach and write and lecture.
Mr. MORRIS. What do you teach?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am officially in the
department of German, but it so happens that various developments
within the college, that most of my courses are in comparative
literature, and world literature.
Mr. MORRIS. Are you a full professor?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I was hoping to become one next
year, but what this will do to that chance, I don't know. As a matter
of fact, yesterday morning I was asked to hand in some data on my
contributions to publications. That was yesterday morning. They didn't
know about the subpena and I didn't tell them, because I was hoping
that they wouldn't know. The very fact of the hearings, the very
mention of the name in this type of thing, you are aware of it,
Senator, is enough to indict one. You have only to be accused, then you
are guilty. First comes the verdict and then comes the trial.
Senator FERGUSON. That has been a very fine
speech on your part. In other words, you are criticizing this committee
for trying to look into the question of the internal security of the
United States of America?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. No, sir.
Senator FERGUSON. Let us proceed along the
line of getting the facts.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. No, sir; I am not. May I say
something about your allegation?
Senator FERGUSON. I, of course, heard what you
had to say, and now you may start the examination.
Mr. MORRIS. Were you mentioned in the 1940-41
hearings, or identified in the hearings of the New York legislative
committee, as a Communist?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I wasn't present there when the
testimony was given, but I was told that one of my colleagues by the
name of Bernard Grebanier had mentioned the fact that I was, had been,
or was a member of the Communist Party.
Mr. MORRIS. Were you called in as a witness in
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You mean before the
Rapp-Coudert? Oh, yes-twice. Once it was a meeting with--well, yes;
there was an investigation. It was a private hearing, though. It never
Mr. MORRIS. Were you at that time a member of
the Communist Party?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Well now, Mr. Morris, if you
allow me to answer this question fully, I will have to begin with a
Mr. MORRIS. Well, it calls for a "yes" or "no"
answer, unless you want to invoke some kind of privilege.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. This is a very serious matter
and I think you ought to allow me a little leeway. I beg your
Senator FERGUSON. I might ask this: Are you
going to answer the question?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am going to answer, in my
Senator FERGUSON. That is what I mean. You are
going to answer the question?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am going to answer in my way;
yes. I am going to communicate to you with respect to the question
which you put.
Senator FERGUSON. As to whether or not you
ever were a Communist?
Mr. MORRIS. The question is whether or not you
were at that time when you were investigated in another investigation,
and I would like to know whether or not you were at that time a member
of the Communist Party.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I understand the question, and
I would like to answer in my own way.
Chances are that Senator Ferguson and the
others are acquainted with a famous novel called The Trial.
Senator FERGUSON. Has that anything to do with
Mr. SLOCHOWER. It has a lot. In that novel
there is a character who is accused by somebody of something he did not
know what it was, and for the rest of his life is investigated and
reinvestigated until the end, when they starved him to death. I was
asked in 1940 or 1941--I have forgotten the date--this question which
you are asking me again.
Since 1940, 12 years, this question has been
asked again and again by the Rapp-Coudert, by the board and faculty and
so on, and I have had 12 years of the utmost difficulty of living, in
trying to live down the accusation that was made.
Senator FERGUSON. Have you ever answered that
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes; I did answer it.
Senator FERGUSON. Go ahead and answer it now.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I want you to understand the
difficulty of facing the prospect of answering this question for the
rest of your life. Is it original sin? Once somebody has accused you,
you are guilty for the rest of your life?
Mr. MORRIS. What is your answer?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am not a member of the
Mr. MORRIS. That is not the question: Were you
at the time you are referring to, when you state some charge was made
against you, were you at that time a member of the Community Party?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I hope that the time is coming
when the higher courts are going to declare that a question of this
sort is in violation of those traditions of America which I have
learned to cherish.
I came here as an immigrant and I came from a
country which knew oppression. I have the hope and expectation that the
higher courts will declare that this question is not proper. I should
like to protest on that basis of the first amendment.
Senator FERGUSON. I cannot recognize the first
amendment, as a lawyer and a member of the United States Senate. I
cannot allow you to invoke that as a reason.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. There is a possibility that the
high courts might reverse you.
Senator FERGUSON. I do not believe they will
or I would rule otherwise.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. The other thing is that I am
hoping also that the time may come when it will be declared that this
Federal body has no jurisdiction in a matter which concerns a city or
State educational system. This is another ground on which I should like
to protest against the question.
Senator FERGUSON. I will deny that ground.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. O. K., sir. In that case I am
left with only one answer, and that is I have to invoke the fifth
amendment with regard to the question of whether I had been a member of
the Communist Party in the years 1940 or 1941. I believe those were the
years you mentioned.
Mr. MORRIS. At the time you were identified
before that committee.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. However, I want to add I am not
implying I am guilty. I understand that the fifth amendment has been
put into the Constitution for the purpose of protecting the innocent. I
am availing myself of that privilege.
Senator FERGUSON. Under the fifth amendment I
will allow you to refuse to answer.
Mr. MORRIS. In 1950, Professor Slochower, did
you sign a letter addressed to President Truman, urging freedom for the
leaders of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes, sir; I did.
Mr. MORRIS. That was reported in the Daily
Worker of August 22, 1950, page 2.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You would know that, but I
didn't, because I don't read the Daily Worker.
Mr. Monnrs. You do recall it?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes; I wrote the letter. I can
tell you what I wrote in it.
Mr. MORRIS. Could you tell us?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I was concerned with one member
of the committee, Professor Bradley.
Mr. MORRIS. Prof. Lyman R. Bradley?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes; whom I knew personally,
and who was a professor of German. My field was originally German, and
we had many, many conversations about culture, and I found him to be a
completely decent human being. I don't know anybody more so than
Professor Bradley. It was out of a personal feeling that this man was
put in jail and lost his job. Another person can go in another city and
change his name or something, but this is an investment in which you
lose it and you lose everything.
I felt so strongly about this friend of mine
that I took this steps unprecedented in my case. I am not a political
person. This was a personal appeal on behalf of Dick Bradley.
Senator FERGUSON. Did you know at that time
whether or not he was a Communist?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. How could I?
Senator FERGUSON. I am asking you.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You are implying that I have a
basis of information.
Senator FERGUSON. I asked you whether you did.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. No.
Mr. MORRIS. Do you know of any individual now
living who was the past a member of the Communist Party?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Living or dead?
Mr. MORRIS. Any man now living. Do you know
now any individual now living who was in the past a member of the
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am sure Joe Stalin is a
Mr. MORRIS. Do you know any professor or any
teacher on to Brooklyn faculty who was at some time a member of the
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Mr. Morris, as I told you
in executive hearing,1 am willing to answer all questions pertaining to
this nature which cover roughly the past 10 to 12 years. Beyond that,
well, I would say I would always answer your questions about my birth
and confirmation and things like that, but beyond the 12 years,
questions of this type, I am forced to refuse.
Senator FERGUSON. In other words, there is a
certain period that you refuse to answer about, under the fifth
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes, sir.
Senator FERGUSON. And outside of that period
you are perfectly willing to answer the questions?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Anything you want, sir.
Senator FERGUSON. I understand that.
Mr. MORRIS. Professor Slochower, have you done
anything in the last 10 or 12 years which would indicate, in your
opinion, opposition to the Communist organization?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You see, Mr. Morris, I should
address myself to you.
Senator FERGUSON. That is perfectly all right.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. My field is not politics. My
field is philosophy, literature, art, and now it is the myth. Now,
within that field, by implication one might say I am for or against,
but the difficulty of
the question is this: So far as I know, there is no Communist doctrine
which is dogmatic, as far as I know.
Mr. MORRIS. You know the question refers to
the Communist organization, not the Communist theory.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. The Communist Party that I have
done anything against it?
Mr. MORRIS. Yes.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. What chance would I have?
Mr. MORRIS. I am asking if you have.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I would have to join a
political party of some kind. I don't know how that is possible. I
could tell you this: that within my field I have expressed myself in
many ways which directly and by implication accounted to some doctrines
held by many Communists.
Senator FERGUSON. I did not quite get that.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I say, that in my field I could
point to a number of things I differ, if not, am opposed, to positions
held on these questions; let us say literature and philosophy, opposed
to positions held by many Communists. I say "many" because there is no
dogma as far as I know on philosophy.
Senator FERGUSON. Do you think there is
freedom of thought in philosophy?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You mean in the Soviet Union?
You mean in our sense?
Senator FERGUSON. Yes.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I will tell you.
Senator FERGUSON. I wish you would.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. The thing has to be viewed
historically. Russia and the whole East has never known economic,
social, political, and intellectual freedom. They never had an American
Revolution and never a French Revolution. Absence of a middle class
prevented all of those wonderful things.
Senator FERGUSON. They lacked the idea of
freedom of religion and freedom of thought and assembly?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. It is conceivable to me why
most of the Russian people might accept certain lines, because they
don't miss them. So freedom of thought in our sense certainly cannot be
present anywhere in the East, and I don't even mean Russia. China or
Greece or Turkey or Africa, any of those countries which never had a
French Revolution or an American Revolution, with all the ideals of
laissez faire. We have had them and we had to fight for them to keep
them and not fall into the very trap that we think we are being led by
Mr. MORRIS. Professor Slochower, have you ever
advocated that violence is justified?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I am a man of peace. I am
praying for peace. I have a little daughter.
Mr. MORRIS. Do you remember writing a book
review, Prospects of American Democracy, by George Counts, and this
book review appeared in the New York Teacher in 1939?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I recall that the review was
published. I hardly recognized the review, but I remember having
Senator FERGUSON. You claim it is not a proper
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I don't know what the quote is.
Mr. MORRIS. You say:
It must be admitted that the problem of means
and ends in its theoretical formulation represents something like an
Democracy is used at times in the sense of its
ultimata form, i.e., a classless order; at other times, it stands for
relative democracy as it exists under class rule. B ut, in his advocacy
of means, Counts neglects to differentiate between the two kinds of
The point seems to be that in class society,
where democracy is relative, methods too must be relative.
If means are viewed in context, as means-end
fascism, in which violence is an end, cannot be lumped with communism,
where it is intended, at worst, as a transitory weapon.
Mr. SLOCKOWER. I recognize that
somewhat–not the formulation, you see.
Mr. MORRIS. There you say with respect
to communism, “Violence is intended, at worst, as a transitory weapon.”
Senator FERGUSON. What did you mean by
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I had reference to the
famous theoretical position of one of the Marxist writers, what they
call the dictation of the proletariat is a transitory phase.
Senator FERGUSON. In other words, you
must have the dictatorship as a means of going over into communism.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. That isn’t precisely the
point that they make. I think the point they make is that it may
be necessary to have what they called dictatorship of the proletariat.
Senator FERGUSON. That is what Russia
claims she has now–the dictatorship, prior to transferring over to pure
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I think so, although some
of them make more ambitious claims that they have gone already into the
stage of socialism and not already advanced into the stage of
communism. I am not sure of this. I was here formulating
the philosophy and nat the practice.
By the way, this “means to an end”–did I use
quotations? That isn’t my phrase. It is John Dewey’s, and I
here make public acknowledgment to John Dewey that this is his phrase
and not mine.
Mr. MORRIS. That hyphenated word, you
mean, not the whole paragraph?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. In one part of his
development he held that position, and I was a student of his.
Mr. MORRIS. Have you ever written for
the New Masses?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes.
Mr. MORRIS. What did you write for New
Mr. SLOCHOWER. It is long ago, but I
think it was primarily during the time of Hitler, during the thirties,
when, to my mind, New Masses was identical with anti-Hitler. So
was Science and Society.
Mr. MORRIS. Are you now a member of the
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Yes; I am.
Mr. MORRIS. Have you any reason to
believe that any Communists exist now and have existed in the past in
the Teachers’ Union?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I may be praised for this
or damned, but my contacts in the Teachers’ Union have been so tenuous
that the only thing I know is I send my dues in and then I get the
newsletter, and I see the kind of things which they do, which I think
are worth while–and that is why I belong.
Senator FERGUSON. Do you ever see
anything that they do in that newsletter that is not worth while?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I don't recall, offhand. What I
am concerned with about the Teachers' Union first is it is an
organization in which the officers, and so on, are elected by ballot,
and I always get the ballot.
Senator FERGUSON. Well, did you know Bella
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Very slightly.
Senator FERGUSON. Did you know that she told
how they did it by ballot, but the Communists rigged it?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Bella Dodd, I understand, is
now in a personal state of mind where maybe she is seeing visions.
Mr. MORRIS. Who told you that?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. That is a literary term.
Senator FERGUSON. Suppose she is telling the
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Suppose she is.
Senator FERGUSON. Do you think she might be?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I have no way of knowing.
Senator FERGUSON. Have you any evidence to
show that she was wrong when she told, in effect that she rigged the
elections and rigged the passing of resolutions?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Senator Ferguson, as a lawyer
and former judge, you know it is impossible, logically, ever to prove
the negative, somebody said.
Senator FERGUSON. You indicated that she was
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Well, it is possible. She has
had a very, very difficult time.
Senator FERGUSON. I wondered whether you
wanted it to stand as your answer.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. With regard to this, no. My
point is you can never prove a negative.
Senator FERGUSON. And you do not know whether
or not they did riot the elections?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Certainly not, but to prove
what they didn't do--"When did you stop beating your wife?" You cannot
prove a negative, legally, and I think it is recognized as such.
Mr. MORRIS. Professor, the question is: While
you were in the Teachers' Union, did you ever encounter any evidence of
present-day or past Communist activity?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. As I said, my contacts have
been so limited, because of my interest in writing and so on, and so
forth, that I do not recall anything which suggests that, Mr. Morris.
Mr. MORRIS. Even when you were in local 537?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. What was that?
Mr. MORRIS. The Teachers' Union local when it
was a separate local.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. When was that?
Mr.MORRIS. Certainly it existed in that form
in 1940 and 1941.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You see, as soon as you bring
up the dates, I have to--
Senator FERGUSON. He has to invoke the fifth
amendment back of that time, he indicates to the committee.
Mr. MORRIS. Mr. Chairman, may I raise one
point, as a legal matter?
If we go back 10 and 12 years, I wonder what
statute of limitations runs that long and what kind of crime would be
outlawed by it?
Senator FERGUSON. The difficulty is that there
are some crimes that are not barred by the statute of limitations, such
as absence from the country extending the period; also the fact that
something there could connect a person with a crime now. And in all
rulings here I want to use the Constitution in its broadest sense, and
i just feel that and think that this man is conscientiously claiming
this on the ground that it might tend to incriminate him.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. I have very good reasons for
doing it, but I cannot tell the reasons. The reasons are very good, and
it has to do not with implying anything about guilt, Senator--nothing
Senator FERGUSON. So, I just merely give him
the benefit of the doubt, and do not require him to answer.
Mr. MORRIS. Have you ever used an alias, a
name other than your own?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. That sounds like an
embarrassing question. You mean--well, when I went somewhere with
somebody or what?
Mr. MORRIS. I don't mean that, Professor. I
mean, have you ever been known over a long period of time by a name
other than your own name?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. In the old country, my mother
used to call me Hirschel. First it was anglicized in this country to
Hirsch, and then Harry, and when people want to compliment me they call
Mr. MORRIS. You know the ordinary implications
of the question: Have you ever been known by an alias?
Mr. SLOCHOWER. You are referring to political
Senator FERGUSON. Did you write under another
Mr. SLOCHOWER. Again, if it is a question with
regard to the past 10 to 12 years
Senator FERGUSON. You refuse to answer on the
grounds of the fifth amendment.
Mr. SLOCHOWER. That is, whether I was known
under any other name? Again for very good reasons, which do not imply
Mr. MORRIS. Mr. Chairman, may this whole book
review be introduced into the record?
Senator FERGUSON. Yes.
(The book review referred to was marked
"Exhibit No. 32" and is as follows:)
EXHIBIT No. 32
[From The New York Teacher, January 1939]
DEMOCRACY THROUGH EDUCATION
THE PROSPECTS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
(By George S. Counts)
The attempt to stem the Fascist juggernaut is
prompting many of our contemporaries to plumb the past for support of
the persuasion that the democratic idea is rooted in man's history. As
here conceived, democracy appears as an eternal category.
Professor Counts' The Prospect of American
Democracy argues that the American past offers such heritage on which
fascism is likely to founder. The uniqueness of America consists in
that its people early threw off the shackles of feudal mores and
mentality, not permitting the congealments of "classification, caste,
and legitimacy" from which the Old World suffers. Today, however;
American democracy is in a dilemma. Economic individualism has given
to a collectivism in favor of the few. And the problem we face is how
to rescue democracy from "America's 60 Families."
Professor Counts offers a nine-point program.
It consists of two main planks: Education and organization of the many
"as producers, consumers, and citizens." But this program--and this is
Counts' leading emphasis--requires faith in the democratic temper and
process, willingness to grant civil liberties "to all elements of the
population, * * exercise of moderation and tolerance." The democratic
attitude is, for Counts, fundamental in our struggle against fascism.
The study contains a fundamental ambiguity in
its employment of the term "democracy." Democracy is used at times in
the sense of its ultimate form--i. e., a classless order--at other
times, it stands for relative democracy, as it exists under class rule.
But, in his advocacy of means, Counts neglects to differentiate between
the two kinds of democracies. He insists that democratic procedure must
at all times be uniformly practiced. Otherwise, there will result loss
of faith in the democratic method, which will open the way to
dictatorships. And dictatorships, regardless of their program are, for
Counts, inimical to the democratic idea. He would stake everything on
education and organization; that is, on reason and group-affiliation.
Now, the essence of Counts' nine-point program
prevailed in Germany before Hitler. Yet, it did not stop nazism. Counts
advances a curious claim to account for this, saying that it was
violent acts of the Left that gave the dictators "no inconsiderate
measure of support." The fact is that Hitler's sole weapons were
emotionalism and the truncheon, whereas the Social Democracy relied
almost exclusively on reason and education. And one may well say that,
by following a literal democratic process, by allowing liberty to the
enemy who used this privilege to abolish liberty, that fascism was able
It must be admitted that the problem of means
and ends, in its theoretical formulation, presents something like an
irresolvable antinomy. In practice, there is danger and hope in both
democratic and undemocratic procedure. The point seems to me that, in
class societies, that is, where democracy is relative methods too must
be relative. If means are viewed in context (as means-ends) fascism, in
which violence is an end, cannot be lumped with communism, where it is
intended, at worst, as a transitory weapon.
Mr. MORRIS. That is all. The next witness will
be Prof. Gene Weltfish.
Senator FERGUSON. Mr. Morris, it is
about 5 minutes to 5. I do not know that we can finish this witness. I
think we ought to go over to 9 in the morning.
Mr. MORRIS. Mr. Chairman, may we have
the open session at 10, and continue the practice of having our
executive session at 9?
Senator FERGUSON. The executive session will
be at 9, and the open session at 10 in the morning. You will all come
back at 10 o'clock.
The committee will rise until 9 o'clock
Mr. MORRIS. Will the witnesses in open session
who have not been heard be here at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning?
(Whereupon, at 4:50 p. m., the committee
recessed to reconvene at 10 a. m. Thursday, September 25, 1952.)