United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-Am.

Hearings regarding Steve Nelson (including foreword) Hearings online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-AmHearings regarding Steve Nelson (including foreword) Hearings → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

A i . J( ^\o\}


Given By



(Including Foreword)






JUNE 8. 1949

Printed for the use of the Committee on Un-American Activities






Y - ?, /



AUG 27 1949

United States House of Representatives

JOHN S. WOOD, Georgia, Chairman




Frank S. Tavenner, Jr., Counsel
Louis J. Russell, Senior Investigator
Benjamin Mandel, Director of Research
John W, Carrinoton, Clerk of Committee



Foreword v-ix

Testimony of Steve Nelson 129

Appendix 154

Reproductions of Nelson exhibits 1, 9, 10, 15, and 16 follow appendix.



June 8, 1949.

Mr. MOULDER. Mr. Nelson, in the event of war between the
United States and Russia, to which country would you owe your
allegiance and loyalty in such a conflict?

Mr. NELSON. I refuse to answer that question.^

Steve Nelson, with aliases of Louis Evans, Joseph Fleischinger, and
"Hugo," was born Steve Alesarosh on January 1, 1903, at Chaglich,
Yugoslavia. Steve Nelson entered the United States on eTune 12,
1920, accompanied by his mother and two sisters. He gained admis-
sion to the United States as a citizen of this country under the name of
Joseph Fleischinger, that being the name of his mother's brother-in-
law. Nelson's mother and two sisters also gained admission at that
time by falsely representing themselves as the wife and children of
Joseph Fleischinger. The name of Nelson's mother and the names of
her three children were all included on the United States passport
issued to said Joseph Fleischinger.^

On June 22, 1922, a warrant of arrest in deportation proceedings was-
issued charging that the subject, his mother, and two sisters had
entered the United States without proper passports; that they had
entered by false and misleading statements; and that they were per-
sons likely to become public charges at the time of their entry.

A hearing was held under the authority of the warrant of arrest in
Philadelphia on October 17, 1922, as a result of which the examining
immigration inspector recommended that the aliens be afforded the
opportunity to legalize their residence in the United States. It
should be noted that during the hearing the United States Govern-
ment recommended that Steve Nelson, his two sisters, and his mother
be afforded a haven in the United States, even though they illegally
entered the country. During the hearing, it was brought out that
Steve Nelson, his two sisters, and his mother had taken advantage of
opportunities in this country; that Steve Nelson, as well as his sisters,
were attending school, and that the entire family had gained employ-
ment. In the recommendation of the immigration inspector it was
stated that after examination of the aliens it was decided that the
subject individuals were taking advantage of the opportunities
offered by this country and undoubtedly would become substantial
citizens. On October 30, 1922, the Board of Keview entered an order

• See p. 153. Mr. Nelson's refusal to answer the question is based on his answers to previous questions in
the testimony wherein he refused to answer questions on the grounds that it might incriminate or degrade

» See p. 136, exhibit 1.



that the warrant of arrest be canceled on payment of head tax if the
Department of State would waive passport requirements. On
November 14, 1922, the Secretary of State waived the passport and
visa requirements in behalf of the subject, his mother, Maria, and his
two sisters. Thereafter, on November 27, 1922, the aliens were
examined by surgeons of the United States Public Health Service and
passed; head tax was collected; and the entry of the subject, his
mother, and his two sisters was legalized.

Steve Nelson was admitted to citizenship in the United States
District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, Mich., on
November 26, 1928, and was issued certificate of naturahzation, No.

In evaluating Steve Nelson's entry in the United States and the
Government's position in legalizing said entry, the United States
afforded a haven for a refugee whose political ideologies in subsequent
years dedicated themselves to tbe violent overthrow of the United
States Government by force. It is not definitely known when Steve
Nelson joined the Communist Partj^. However, in an article in the
Daily Worker, November 10, 1937, under the byline of Joseph North,
dispatched from Valencia, Spain, North stated that while interviewing
participants fighting for the International Brigade, he obtained the
following information from Steve Nelson:

The working people of the Soviet Union were passing through a bitter period
and Steve joined the Friends of Soviet Russia. On the first anniversary of
Lenin's death [1925], he joined the Communist Party at the memorial in Phil-
adelphia. ^

This alleged statement by Steve Nelson is noteworthy because, as
previously stated, he was granted citizenship on November 26, 1928.
If the truth of the article written by Joseph North which appeared
in the Daily Worker could be established, it is apparent that Steve
Nelson was a member of the CommuTiist Party prior to gaining his
citizenship and therefore perjured himself when he obtamed his na-
turahzation papers.

In 1931, Steve Nelson's importance to the Communist movement
was recognized in Moscow and he was called there to attend the Lenin
Institute. On August 1, 1931, he filed a passport application with the
Department of State in which he requested permission to visit Ger-
many to study building construction. He falsified his passport by
stating that he was born in Rankin, Pa., on December 25, 1903. This
criminal offense was never prosecuted due to the fact that it was not
discovered until the statute of limitations had run.'^ There is further
evidence with respect to Mr. Nelson's attendance at the school in
Moscow. Mr. William Nowell testified before this committee on
November 30, 1939, and he stated that while he was a member of the
Communist Party he attended the Lenin Institute in Moscow and that
Steve Nelson was in attendance at this school under the name of Louis
Evans. Mr. Nowell stated in his testimony that Nelson's prominence
in the Communist Party was conspicuous because of his frequent con-
tact with the OGPU (Russian secret police) in Moscow. Additional
evidence of Nelson's visit to Russia has been developed by this com-
mittee which indicates that in July 1933 Nelson filed with the American
consul in Austria a 2-year renewal of his passport, stating that he had

3 See p. 137, exhibit 2.
< See p. 142, exhibit 9.


resided in Russia from September 1931 to May 1933 and had resided
in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria from May 25, 1933. Nelson,
when questioned by this committee regarding his attendance at the
Lenin School, refused to answer on the ground of self-incrimination.

Official mtelligence reports in possession of this committee reflect
that Nelson was in China for 3 months in 1933, working for the
Comintern in Shanghai, and that a coworker of his was Arthur Ewert,
a well-known Comintern agent, who was subsequently sentenced to
imprisonment in Brazil for his part in the Communist revolution in
1935. The exact date of the subject's return to the United States
from China and the European countries mentioned above is unlmown,
but in 1934 he contributed an article to the Party Organizer, official
organ of the central committee of the Communist Party, U.S.A.

During the Spanish Civil War, Nelson received considerable
publicity in the Communist press because of the fact he had risen to
the rank of lieutenant colonel in the International Brigade of the
Loyalist Ai-my. Nelson returned to the United States in the latter
part of 1937 from Spain and became active in the afl^airs of the Veterans
of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the American League for Peace
and Democracy, both notorious Communist organizations.

Since 1938 Steve Nelson has been a national figure in the Com-
munist Party, as well as a leading functionary in the Moscow-con-
trolled Communist underground.

With reference to Nelson's participation in the Abraham Lincoln
Brigade, Nelson applied for a passport on February 13, 1937, and
the passport was issued on February 23. This passport was issued
to Nelson under the name of Joseph Fleischinger.^ It is noted on
the application form that the name Fleischinger was misspelled in
two places by the applicant. This criminal violation likewise escaped
the attention of the authorities until the statute of limitations had
expned. When questions were propounded to Nelson regarding
this false passport, he again followed the current Communist Party
line by declining to answer questions and placed hinself under the
sanctuary of the fifth amendment to the Constitution.

Steve Nelson was so important to the Communist movement and
had gained such favor with his superiors that in 1940 he was assigned
as organizer for the party in the bay area at the port of San Francisco,
Calif. He was also given an underground assignment to gather
information regarding the development of the atomic bomb. This
assignment was facilitated by Steve Nelson's having met a woman in
Spain who had gone to Spain in 1937 to meet her husband, also a
volunteer in the International Brigade. Upon arrival in Spain, this
woman was informed that her husband had been killed, and she was
befriended by Steve Nelson. This woman, upon her return to the
United States, moved to Berkeley, Calif., where she became acquainted
with and married one of the leading physicists engaged in the develop-
ment of the atomic bomb.

The Communist Party and the Soviet Government were aware of
Steve Nelson's acquaintance with the physicist and attempted to use
this as a medium of infiltration of the radiation laboratory at the
University of California, which was working on the development of
the atomic bomb. An investigation of the aforementioned scientist
disclosed that neither he nor his wife engaged in any subversive activi-

« See p. 146, exhibit 10.


ties and that their loyalty has never been questioned by the Govern-
ment. Nelson later reported that neither the physicist nor his wife
were sympathetic to communism.

Under the guidance of Steve Nelson, infiltration of the radiation
laboratory actually began in other ways. A cell was developed within
the laboratory, consisting of five or six young physicists. The exist-
ence of the cell has been established in sworn testimony before this
committee. According to a sworn statement by a witness, Giovanni
Rossi Lomanitz was the principal Communist Party organizer. The
records of this committee also reflect that David Bohm, presently a
professor of physics at Princeton University, was also a member of this
cell. Upon two occasions, both Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz and David
Bohm declined to answer questions regarding their respective member-
ships in this cell upon the grounds that to do so might tend to incrimi-
nate them.

Other alleged members of this cell at the Radiation Laboratory are
under investigation by this committee and such evidence of member-
ship will be forthcoming in future hearings of this committee.

In 1942 Steve Nelson gained another promotion within the
Communist Party when he was assigned as county organizer at
Alameda, Calif. This assignment placed the atomic-bomb project
under the direct jurisdiction of Steve Nelson for the Communist Party.
According to the official files of the Government, while Nelson was
under surveillance, he visited the home of Vassili Zubilin, a former
secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C, who was then
in Oakland, Calif. Zubilin's cover name in the Communist Party
was "Cooper." During this meeting. Nelson complained to Zubilin
about the inefficiency of two individuals working for the apparatus.
These persons have been identified by the committee and theu' names
are beiiig presently withheld from the public. Because of Mr. Nelson's
complaint to Zubilin, these individuals were transferred from Alameda
County — one to Detroit, Mich., and the other to Los Angeles, Cahf.

The amount or value of the information gained by Steve Nelson
regarding the development of the atomic bomb is not known. How-
ever, due to the alertness of the officials of the Manhattan Engineering
District and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Steve Nelson's at-
tempt to gather information was stopped. Physicists at the radiation
laboratory who belonged to the Communist Party were removed from
their positions under one pretext or another.

Steve Nelson's participation in the Communist conspiracy regarding
the atomic bomb has been previously exposed in a report issued by
this committee on September 28, 1948, entitled "Report on Soviet
Espionage Activities in Connection With the Atom Bomb." Since
this report is predicated on the activities of Steve Nelson, excerpts
from our report of September 28, 1948, are included herewith:

* * * Late one night in March of 1943, scientist X, who was a scientist at
the University of California, went to the home of Steve Nelson, having earlier in
the evening made arrangements with Steve Nelson's wife to meet Nelson there.
Nelson was not then at home but came in at about 1 :30 in the morning. After-
Nelson had greeted scientist X, the latter stated that he had some information
that he thought Nelson could use. He read to Nelson a complicated formula,
which Nelson copied down. Scientist X gave as his reason for asking Nelson to-
copy it down that the formula was in the handwriting of some other person, and
that he, scientist X, had to return the formula to the University of California.


Radiation Laboratories in the morning. The radiation laboratories were en-
gaged in vital work in the development of the atomic bomb.

Several days later Nelson contacted the Soviet consulate in San Francisco and
arranged to meet Peter Ivanov, the Soviet vice consul, at some place where they
could not be observed. Ivanov suggested that he and Nelson meet at the "usual

As a result of the surveillance that was being kept on Nelson, the meeting be-
tween Nelson and Ivanov was found to take place in the middle of an open park
on the St. Francis Hospital grounds in San Francisco. At this meeting Nelson
transferred something to Ivanov. If the matter transferred included the formula
that scientist X had given Nelson several days previous — and the inference is
irresistible that it did — it was a formula of importance in the development of the
atom bomb.

A few days after this meeting between Nelson and Ivanov on the St. Francis
Hospital grounds, the third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Washington, a
man by the name of Zubilin, came to the Soviet consulate in San Francisco.
Shortly after Zubilin's arrival, he made an appointment to meet Steve Nelson in
Steve "Nelson's home. At this meeting Zubilin paid Steve Nelson 10 bills of un-
known denominations.

The individual alleged by former intelligence officers and Government intelli-
gence reports to be scientist X appeared before the committee in secret session
and denied that he had ever known Steve Nelson or Steve Nelson's wife, and
further denied that he had ever had any meeting with Nelson or anyone else such
as described above, or that he had ever given to any unauthorized person any
formula or other classified information. This in direct conflict with the testimony
of two Federal agents who were assigned to the investigation.

When Nelson testified before the committee in September 1948, he refused to
answer ail pertinent questions on the ground that his answers would tend to in-
criminate him. It is significant, in this connection, that when asked if he had
ever been in the Soviet consulate in New York City, he answered "No"; but when
he was asked if he had ever ridden in an automobile of the Soviet consulate in New
York City in the period 1938 to 1948, he refused to answer on the ground that his
answer might incriminate him. He also refused to answer on the same ground
when asked if he was acquainted with Vassili Zubilin of the Soviet Embassy in the
United States * * *

920S0— 49-



United States House of Representatives,

Subcommittee of the Committee on

Un-American Activities,

Washington, D. C.

A subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities met
pursuant to call at 11:25 a. m. in room 226, Old House Office Building,
Hon. John McSweeney presiding.

Committee members present: Representatives John McSweeney
(presiding), Burr P. Harrison, Richard M. Nixon, and Francis Case.

Staff members present: Frank S. Tavenner, Jr., counsel; Louis J.
Russell, senior investigator; William A. Wheeler, investigator; and
A. S. Poore, editor.

Mr. McSweeney. The chairman has designated me to preside over
the subcommittee's hearing this morning.

Let the record show that this is a subcommittee appointed by the
chairman, constituted of Mr. Harrison, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Case, and
John McSweeney, who has been designated to preside.

Mr. Tavenner, will you proceed.

Mr. Tavenner. I would like to call as the first witness Mr. Steve.

Mr. McSweeney. Will you rise and raise your right hand. You
solemnly swear to tell the committee the whole truth and nothing but
the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Nelson. I do.

Mr. Bloch. May I note my appearance for the record? I am
representing Mr. Nelson as his counsel.

Mr. Tavenner. Will you state your name and address?

Mr. Block. Emanuel H. Bloch, 270 Broadway, New York City.


Mr. Tavenner. Mr. Nelson, will you state your full name?

Mr. Nelson. Steve Nelson.

Mr. Tavenner. When and where were you born?

Mr. Nelson. I was born in Yugoslavia.

Mr. Tavenner. What date?

Mr. Nelson. December 26, 1903.

Mr. Tavenner. What is your present address?

Mr. Nelson. Harmarville, Pa.

Mr. Tavenner. Wliat was your father's name?

Mr. Nelson. Michael.

Mr. Tavenner. Where was he born?



Mr. Nelson. The same place.

Mr. Tavener. Is he now Uving?

Mr. Nelson. No.

Mr. Tavenner. Did he come to the United States?

Mr. Nelson. No.

Mr. Tavenner. What is your mother's name?

Mr. Nelson. Mary.

Mr. Tavenner. Is she Uving?

Mr. Nelson. Yes.

Mr. Tavenner. Is Steve Nelson your only name, or did you for-
merly go by a different name?

Mr. Nelson. My name is loiown to the committee. It is Mesarosh,
M-e-s-a-r-o-s-h. Steve is the first name.

Mr. Tavenner. Do you have brothers and sisters?

Mr. Nelson. I do have two sisters.

Mr. Tavenner. Wliat are their names?

(Witness confers with his counsel.)

Mr. Nelson. Mr. Chairman, I am going to avail myself of my
constitutional right of not answering that on the grounds of the fifth
amendment, which, as you know, provides that I need not incriminate
myself here.

Mr. McSweeney. And it is your interpretation that giving your
sisters' names comes within the protection afforded you under that

Mr. Nelson. Yes.

Mr. Tavenner. Is Josef Fleischinger your uncle?

Mr. Nelson. I will take the same stand on that question, Mr.
Chairman. I refuse to answer that on the ground it may tend to
incriminate me.

Mr. Tavenner. Let me ask you this question: In what manner
could the acknowledgement that Josef Fleischinger is your uncle tend
to incrimmate you?

Mr. Bloch. I don't know what my rights are here. I know they
are severely limited ; they have been in the past. I don't know if the
committee would like to hear an objection in any legal form. If
I am allowed to record the objections, I would like to state for the
record that the question itself calls for the divulgence of information
that might be incriminatory in character. Therefore, the question
is improper and I object to it.

Mr. Tavenner. In reply to counsel, I desire to state that if there
is any indication from evidence that is presented to this committee
that such should be the case, he would be within his rights in claiming

Mr. Bloch. Furnishing you evidence, or a scintilla of evidence, to
indicate the basis of the witness' refusal to answer on the ground it
might tend to incriminate him would, in and of itself, destroy the
privilege, because it might furnish a link, or a clue, or evidence itself,
that might reveal information of an incriminatory character.

Mr. Tavenner. In the absence of or refusal of the witness to give
any evidence to this committee wherein the divulgence of that infor-
mation might be incriminatmg, I think he should be compelled to
answer the question.

Mr. Block. I wonder if the committee would give me a moment
to discuss with the witness his constitutional rights and clarify in
my own mind something?


Mr. McSwEENEY. Yes.

(Witness confers with his counsel.)

Mr. Block. If the committee pleases, the witness would like to
clarify his refusal by a sketchy summary statement which will suggest,
at any rate, to the committee his basis for refusing to answer without
destroying the privilege.

Mr. McSwEENEY. Mr. Nelson, proceed.

Mr. Nelson. In the first place, I understand the fifth amendment
to mean that you have no right to press me to interpret or to give you
my reasons for not answering the question. Secondly, this com-
mittee knows that I am a Communist, and if I should admit that I
know certain people, those people would be subject to persecution,
and I will not cooperate with the committee on that score.

Mr, Nixon. Mr. Chairman

Mr. Nelson. And of course because it would incriminate me.

Mr. Nixon. Mr. Chairman, the reasons the witness has given do
not bear on the matter of self-incrimination. The fact that it is
going to embarrass somebody else who happens to be a relative cer-
tainly does not bear on the question of self-incrimination. I think
the understanding should be reached at the present time that if the
witness is using self-incrimination simply to show his contempt for
the committee, that the committee should take proper action.

Mr. Bloch. The witness did not confine his refusal to the fact it
may involve other people in persecutions, as he termed it, but he also
assigned the reason that he himself would be incriminated. I think
the record bears that out very clearly. He might have many reasons
for refusing to answer, but I submit that if one of those reasons in-
volves his right against self-incrimination, his refusal should be upheld.

Mr. Harrison. Might I ask what counsel suggests?

Mr. Tavenner. I would like the witness to comply with what I
conceive the law to be in such matters, that if he has any reasons or
can give this committee any information that could lead this com-
mittee to believe that his reply would be of an incriminatory nature,
then he should not be required to answer the question; otherwise, he
should be required to answer. And I want him to have every oppor-
tunity to present to this committee some information that would
permit this committee to come to some conclusion, because I deem it
to be the right and privilege of this committee to determine whether
or not the question should be answered.

Mr. Case. Mr, Chairman

Mr. Bloch. If the committee pleases

Mr. McSwEENEY. Mr. Case.

Mr. Case. Did the witness complete his statement? He started
to say for the further reason that it would tend to incriminate him-
self. Did that complete your statement?

Mr. Nelson. Yes.

Mr. Block. If I might be heard for 2 seconds on this question, and
I think it is a question of law more than anything else, the courts,
have held repeatedly- — and this is within the last few years, and if
you care for the citations I can give them to you — ^that when an
avowed Communist is questioned about his associations, affiliations,
and activities in connection with his Communist beliefs, he has the
absolute right to rely upon the fifth amendment, because the Govern-
ment — incidentally, particularly this committee — has made claims

1 3 4

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-AmHearings regarding Steve Nelson (including foreword) Hearings → online text (page 1 of 4)