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May-12-2013 15:03printcomments

Herbert Romerstein: A Life Devoted to Advancing Freedom

Herb was a happy warrior and devoted to his family. His funeral, complete with military honor guard, was conducted by his son-in-law, an Orthodox rabbi.

Herbert Romerstein
Herbert Romerstein photo courtesy: hoover.org

(WASHINGTON DC) - The death of Herbert Romerstein takes from us a man who devoted his life to advancing freedom, and exposing its enemies, as well as a long-time friend.

Herb was born in Brooklyn in 1931. Always an idealist, in high school Herb was attracted to the utopian dreams advanced by Marxism and joined the Communist Youth League and soon after became a member of the Communist Party, where, as he often said, he "learned to read communist." But his infatuation with communism was brief as he came to understand its totalitarian reality. When the Korean War began, Herb had to decide which side he supported. He chose freedom and enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Following his military service, he became a research analyst for American Business Consultants, which published the anti-communist newsletter "Counterattack," and Bookmailer, a small publishing house which published his first book, "Communism and Your Child" in 1962.

Herb testified before the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security on communist infiltration of youth organizations in 1951 and before the Subversive Activities Control Board. He attended the Vienna Youth Festival in 1959 and the Helsinki Youth Festival in 1962, all sponsored by the communist front-groups World Federation of Democratic Youth and International Union of Students.

Probably the nation's leading expert on the intricate details of communist subversion, from 1965 to 1983 Herb was a professional staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives, including tours of duty as investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, minority chief investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

During the Reagan administration, Herb was head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation of the U.S. Information Agency from 1983-89. After retiring from the government, Herb did extensive research in both the U.S. and, with the end of the Cold War, in foreign archives which then became available, including the archives of the Communist International in Moscow. In 2004, Herb visited Poland and spoke at conferences in various Polish cities, one of the meetings was held in the Polish Parliament where he supported Polish scholars whom urged the opening of the Polish Communist archives.


Now, in the 21st century, many Americans are unaware of the romance many Americans, and other in the West, had with Communism. They were enthralled with its promise of a "classless" society and a "worker's paradise"---and ignored the reality of the brutal tyranny which Communism actually produced.

Consider a few examples. Lillian Hellman, the prominent playwright, visited Russia in 1937, when Stalin's purge trials were at their height. On her return, she said she knew nothing about them. In 1938 she was among the signatories of an ad in the Communist publication NEW MASSES which approved the trials. She supported the 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland, stating: "I don't believe in that fine, lovable little Republic of Finland, that everyone gets so weepy about. I've been there and it looks like a pro-Nazi little republic to me." There is absolutely no evidence that Hellman ever visited Finland---and her biographer states that it is highly improbable."

In a July 1954 interview with LIBERATION, the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, who had just returned from a visit to Russia, said that Soviet citizens did not travel, not because they are prevented from doing so, but because they had no desire to leave their wonderful country. "The Soviet citizens," he declared, "criticize their government much more and more effectively than we do. There is total freedom of criticism in the Soviet Union."


The Rev. Hewlett Johnson, the dean of Canterbury, was a regular visitor to the Soviet Union during the reign of Joseph Stalin. He saw the system as more consistent with Christian principles than the democratic capitalism on his own England. He said that in the Soviet Union "cooperation replaces competitive chaos and a plan succeeds the riot of disorder...Russia is the most moral land I know. During many months in Russia...I never saw a sight I would screen from the eyes of a young girl."

We could fill many pages with such words of praise for Communism and life under Stalin's tyranny on the part of Western intellectuals, clergymen, literary figures and others. It was Herb Romerstein's mission in life to make the truth about Communism widely known and understood. The end of the Cold War and the archival material which became available made it clear how right Herb had been from the beginning. Many on the American left continued to defend figures such as Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg as being innocent of the charges of subversion and espionage against them. The Soviet archival material shows how correct those charges were.

Herb wrote a series of books exploring this archival material in depth, including "The KGB Against 'The Main Enemy': How The Soviet Intelligence Service Operates the U.S." (with Stanislav Levchenko, 1989); "Soviet Active Measures and Propaganda: New Thinking and Influence Activities in the Gorbachev Era" (1989); "The Venona Secrets, Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors" (with Eric Breindel, 2001), and "Stalin's Secret Agents" (with M. Stanton Evans, 2012).

The data in these books confirm that spying suspects such as Alger Hiss were indeed guilty as charged and that the Communist Party, USA , in spite of constant denial, was directly connected to the Communist Party in Russia and many of its members were engaged in espionage.

The Hoover Institution of Stanford University has acquired Herb's archives,the result of some sixty years of researching and collecting. It will be Hoover's largest collection on the subversive activities of communist action and communist front organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

If we know the truth about Communism, the Soviet Union and its American and Western supporters---and agents----it is in large measure due to the work of Herb Romerstein, and a small number of like-minded men and women. We must also remember that, despite the seriousness of the subject matter to which he devoted his life, Herb was a happy warrior and devoted to his family. His funeral, complete with military honor guard, was conducted by his son-in-law, an Orthodox rabbi. Herb's was a life well lived. He will be missed by many, but his legacy will endure.

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Salem-News.com contributor Allan C. Brownfeld received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary, his J.D. degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary and his M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. He has served on the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia, and the University College of the University of Maryland.

The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, Mr. Brownfeld has written for such newspapers as THE HOUSTON PRESS, THE RICHMOND TIMES DISPATCH, THE WASHINGTON EVENING STAR and THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. For many years he wrote three columns a week for such newspapers as THE PHOENIX GAZETTE, THE MANCHESTER UNION LEADER, and THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. His weekly column appeared for more than a decade in ROLL CALL, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in such journals as THE YALE REVIEW, THE TEXAS QUARTERLY, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, ORBIS and MODERN AGE.

Mr. Brownfeld served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was the author of that committee's 250-page study of the New Left. He has also served as Assistant to the Research Director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to such members of Congress as Reps. Phil Crane (R-Il) and Jack Kemp (R-NY) and to the Vice President of the United States.

He is a former editor of THE NEW GUARD and PRIVATE PRACTICE, the journal of the Congress of County Medical Societies and has served as a Contributing Editor AMERICA'S FUTURE and HUMAN EVENTS. He served as Washington correspondent for the London-based publications, JANE'S ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ANALYST and JANE'S TERRORISM REPORT. His articles regularly appear in newspapers and magazines in England, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries. You can write to Allan at abrownfeld@gmail.com

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