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Published 26 April

"Out of the Night" (1941) by Jan Valtin - BOOKS ONE AND TWO


This is the memoir of a militant and full-time party worker in the German Communist Party (KPD) and in the Comintern – the international organization of all the Communist parties in the world - in the twenties and thirties, this is a first-hand account of many of the dramatic events which shaped the future of Germany and the world between the two World Wars, this is an adventure story that has to be read to be believed, this is an autobiography that is so packed out with dialogues and conversations and interrogations that it can well be considered a novel, and a particularly well-paced and well-written one at that.

Here you will live through the Spartacist revolutions of 1919, the phenomenal monetary crisis of 1923, and the ultra-violent Communist uprising in Hamburg that same year. You will gain insight into how and why the KPD fought so hard against what it saw as its main enemy, the Social Democratic Party, right up to Hitler’s sudden conquest of total power in 1933. You will be interested by this first-hand account of how promising activists from all over the world were trained in Moscow for party work above and below ground at that time, and you will follow the fascinating account of the narrator’s underground Comintern work all over Europe, Asia, Latin America and even the U.S. of A.

And you will live through the catastrophic election crises of 1932 that brought Hitler to power (with 32% of the vote versus 51% for the three main left and centre parties) and his brutal, rapid and astonishingly efficient crushing of the powerful and well-armed KPD organization in Germany - before doing likewise to the other main opposition forces in the country. And last but certainly not least you will see from the inside just how terrifying and inhuman and above all painful it was to be a political prisoner of the Nazi regime – or a person of Jewish extraction – right from the first days of total Gestapo control in early 1933.

And then there is espionage and counter-espionage, there is resistance inside and outside the prisons, there are major uprisings and revolts all over the world, there are escapes, and there is more . . .

Written in English by its polyglot author, this big (750-pages, 280,000 words) book was first published in February 1941 in the USA – and had sold over a million hardcover copies in America alone by the end of that year!

It is, in our considered opinion, one of the most important books of its time.


For technical reasons we have presented the on-line text spread over two articles, with Books One and Two here, followed by Book Three in the following article.

The complete text has been regrouped into an ebook which can be downloaded – in Kindle or ePub format - below.

OUT OF THE NIGHT

OUT OF THE NIGHT that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
. . . .
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

BOOK ONE - THEY CALLED IT DAWN

I. LUMPENHUND
II. SAILOR’S WAY
III. I STRIKE OUT
IV. SMUGGLING FOR THE COMINTERN
V. "DID YOU EVER KILL A MAN?"
VI. CAPEGOATS ON THE BARRICADES
VII. RED VAGABONDAGE
VIII. PASSAGE TO CONSPIRACY
IX. I ATTACK THE PACIFIC
X. THE ROAD TO LENINGRAD
XI. COURIER TO THE ORIENT
XII. FROM SHANGHAI TO SAN QUENTIN

BOOK TWO - THE DANCE OF DARKNESS

XII. NEW WEAPONS
XIV. THE INFALLIBLES
XV. FIRELEI
XVI. FIRELEI MAKES HER DECISION
XVII. BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL
XVIII. SOVIET SKIPPER
XIX. IMPOTENT AND OMNIPOTENT
XX. THE MAN HUNTERS
XXI. STALIN OVER THE SEVEN SEAS
XXII. INSPECTOR-GENERAL FOR ENGLAND
XXIII. HOW WE ENGINEERED MUTINIES
XXIV. THE SWASTIKA CASTS ITS SHADOW
XXV. SCANDINAVIAN INTERLUDE

BOOK THREE - THE NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES

XXVI. STORM SIGNALS
XXVII. IN THE HURRICANE
XXVIII. DEAD MEN ON FURLOUGH
XXIX. IN THE LANDS OF TWILIGHT
XXX. WEST OF THE RHINE
XXXI. "DEATH IS EASY"
XXXII. CAPTURED
XXXIII. THE GESTAPO QUESTIONS ME
XXXIV. HELL
XXXV. I SIGN A CONFESSION
XXXVI. OF COMRADES AND THE HEADSMAN
XXXVII. MAN-CAGE MAGIC
XXXVIII. MY BATTLE FOR "MEIN KAMPF"
XXXIX. DARK DUEL
XL. I JOIN THE GESTAPO
XLI. FREEMAN ON A LEASH
XLII. ABDUCTED
XLIII. FLIGHT

WHO’S WHO

BOOK ONE - THEY CALLED IT DAWN

Chapter One - LUMPENHUND

I AM A GERMAN BY BIRTH. But the years of my childhood were scattered over places as far apart as the Rhine and the Yangtze-kiang. My voyage began at the point where the Rhine suddenly sweeps westward to bite its course through the mountains before it curves north again to flow, broad and swift, past the Lorelei and the towers of Cologne. One day in 1904 my mother, then on the way from Genoa to Rotterdam to join her husband, who had come in from the sea, felt that her time was near at hand. She interrupted her journey and went to the home of people who knew her, in a little town near Mainz. There she gave birth to her first son. And before I was one month old, she carried me aboard a steamer, bound down the Rhine to Rotterdam.
My father had spent most of his life at sea. But despite his roamings, he had the devotion of a wanderer for the land of his birth, a devotion which I did not learn to share. During the decade preced­ing the World War my father was attached to the nautical inspec­tion service of the North German Lloyd, in the Orient and in Italy; it was a shore job which allowed him to take his family from port to port at Company expense. One result of this nomadism was that by the time I was fourteen I spoke, aside from my native lan­guage, fragments of Chinese and Malay, and had a smattering of Swedish, English, Italian and the indomitable Pidgin-English of the waterfront. Another upshot was that I acquired early a conscious­ness of inferiority toward boys who had had the privilege of ex­periencing their boyhood in one country. In the face of the challenging bigotry of those who had taken root,—"This is my country; it is the best country,"—I felt a certain sad instability. I retaliated by regarding with a childish contempt the healthy mani­festations of nationalism.
Invincible wanderlust was another result of our life on the waterfronts. I ran off on hot afternoons to explore the harbors and to watch maneuvering ships and toiling stevedores. I knew the smells of godowns and of ships’ holds; when the wind stood right I could distinguish the aroma of jute or copra or tropical woods a quarter of a mile away from the wharves. I liked to read books of explora­tion and bold voyaging. I never played at being a soldier. I was either a skipper, a boss of longshoremen or a pirate. I liked to sail the little boat I had when I was twelve through squally weather in the estuaries of the rivers Weser and Elbe. I had my proudest mo­ment when the master carpenter at the boatyard pointed me out to a colleague with the words, "That curly-head, he sails like the devil."
My father rarely spoke of his adventurous past of which tattooings of anchors, barques, and exotic wenches with enormous hips on his arms and body, as well as ponderous silver decorations bearing the Chinese dragon and the Persian lion, gave an inkling. Like most German craftsmen of the period, he was conservatively class conscious. He belonged to the Social Democratic Party, was a loyal trade-unionist, and considered the Kaiser as a superfluous clown. He was militant in a quiet way, yet capable of sudden erup­tions of temper, and he firmly believed in a just and beautiful socialist future.
My courageous and deeply religious mother had a dream of her own: a house on some hill, with a garden and a sprinkling of birches around, a friendly anchorage to which her four sons, all of whom were destined to follow the sea, would flock for a holiday after every completed voyage. She was a native of Schonen, the southernmost province of Sweden, and she shared the natural hos­pitality and a respectful love for all growing things which seem to be the characteristics of the Swedish.
The first school I attended was the German school of Buenos Aires. I remained there but a little over a year, and my memory of it is vague. Two years at a British school in Singapore followed. It was here, in an atmosphere of equatorial heat and British world domination, that I first became aware, shamefacedly, of the vast gulf which separated me, the child of a worker, from the sons and daughters of colonial officials and the white merchants of the East. I had no access to their parties, and the bourgeois arrogance of their parents made them shun the humble home of my family. We had but two Chinese servants, while they had fifteen and twenty. Because my father saw no harm in my association with the offspring of his industrious Eurasian aides, the little "imperialist" snobs of my class coined a nickname for me which even made some of the grown-ups smile. It was Lumpenhund] which means "ragged dog." I was awkward and too big for my age. The teacher, a gen­teel but slightly battered Englishwoman, suspected, I fear, that her discriminations against her only proletarian pupil and her genuflec­tions before the sires of the well-to-do escaped my attention.
In 1913 my father was transferred to a temporary job in Hongkong, and later the same year he was called to supervise the outfit­ting of newly-bought ships in Yokohama and Batavia. In all these travels his family went with him—traveling second or third class on chance steamers of the North German Lloyd. I well remember the officious deck steward of the liner Kleist who hustled me from the promenade deck to a deck considerably nearer the waterline.
"Sei nicht traurig," my father had consoled me. "Wir sind nun einmal Menschen der zweiten Klasse." [1]
People of the second class! The family grew larger from year to year. A sister was born in Hongkong. Another aboard a ship be­tween Suez and Colombo. A brother was born in Singapore; it was he who later became an officer in the Nazi air force to find his death through an act of communist sabotage in 1938.
The year 1914 saw us in Genoa, Italy, where the company needed an expert on stowage to help the agent in charge in the dis­patching of the so-called "macaroni liners," the huge ships of the Berlin type engaged in carrying vast numbers of Italian emigrants and harvest hands to New York and the South American wheat and beef metropoles. It was in Genoa that the War overtook us. German shipping came to a standstill.
We continued to live in Genoa until Italy declared war on Ger­many in the following year. The intervening nine months savored of a protracted nightmare. They taught me what mass hatred and chauvinism in its ugliest forms could be. Every news kiosk was plastered with pamphlets and posters showing German soldiers nailing children to tables by their tongues, or tearing out the tongues of beautiful young women. I could not go into the harbor, which held for me a fascination I am at a loss to explain, without being assaulted and trounced by bands of Italian hoodlums. On the way to and from school, and even in the garden adjoining our cottage on the slope of the Righi, I and other boys suspected of being German were bombarded with stones and manure of mules, beaten with sticks, spitten into our faces and hounded even through the broken windowpanes of our homes. I had little respect for Italian boys as fighters. Banded together and armed with solid clubs, six Austrian, Swiss or German boys could easily, I believed, put ten times their number of youthful salita wolves to flight.
Had my father called these Italian super-patriots traitors and Schweinehunde [2], I could have understood the situation and sung the Hohenzollern anthem; but he fervently condemned this war. Be­cause he believed in an active socialist internationalism and work­ers’ solidarity above and beyond the borders of nations, he also condemned the socialist leaders of Germany when they declared a social truce and voted for war credits in August, 1914. All this left me puzzled, frightened, distrustful, and somewhat mutinous against the might-is-right slogans of the time.
When Italy finally declared war, my father, to avoid imprison­ment as a naval reservist, had disappeared toward the northern frontier together with scattered groups of compatriots. An official in a flaming uniform entered our home and demanded that we leave Italian soil within twelve hours, taking only such belongings as we could carry. Abandoning by far the larger portion of our possessions, mother and children boarded the Milano express and crossed the Alps into Germany overnight. We entered the Fatherland like refugees from abroad. After all, to the older of us children Germany was like an alien land.
Beginning with the third year of the War we lived in Bremen. My father served in the Imperial fleet. His first assignment had been aboard a Heligoland patrol boat; now his post was in the forward torpedo room of the battleship Thüringen, stationed at Wilhelmshaven and for periods at the Kiel naval base. My mother fought incredibly hard to keep her brood alive on the meager allowance allotted to families of men in the service. I wore clothes made of paper, my shoes were made of wood, in summer I went barefoot, and our staple food consisted of turnips and dismal bread, with potatoes rare and horse meat a luxury. They were years in which we came to know the meaning of steady hunger, and in the winters, of fierce cold. We collected beech-nuts in the woods to have oil, and acorns to have coffee. Like a pack of wolves we boys would prowl at the edges of the estates and the fields and the army depots, stealing wood, potatoes and tinned food, and scavenging for precious coal in the vicinity of factories and railroad yards. Repeatedly I was caught by an elderly forest-keeper or gendarme. Since I saw nothing wrong in such petty depredations, I arrived at a point where I regarded everyone who wore a badge of authority as an overbearing foe.
In school my marks were below the average. The haphazard training I had received at the foreign schools did not enable me to meet the rigid requirements of the German educational system. My teacher, a man named Schlüter, had lost both his sons in France, whereupon his wife had killed herself with gas. He reacted to his own misery by beginning and ending his days at school with most brutal beatings of his pupils. At the slightest provocation he used to haul them across his desk, in front of a class of fifty, and flog them with a cane until they were unconscious. I became his frequent victim because my personal heroes were neither Bismarck nor Ludendorff, but Magellan, Captain Cook, and J. F. Cooper’s "Red Rover"—foreigners all as, indeed, I was myself.
This teacher would pound into our heads the famous catch­word "Hold out!—Hold through!—Hold your tongues!" and tell us that the British blockade was to blame for the plight of all Germans. But my father, and other sailors, home on furlough with a load of filched sugar and Kommisbrot [3], blamed the Kaiser and the munition makers. With the sons of other rebellious workers I sat in secret cellar gatherings and sang:

Death to hangmen, kings and traitors,
Give the masses bread!
Forward! ’Tis the people’s slogan:
Free we’ll be—or dead.

In September, 1918, when I was almost fourteen, an older friend who was a journeyman to a master chimney sweep brought me into one of the youth groups of the Independent Socialists. These groups, which already used the name of Spartakus Jugend [4], were, I was told, illegally organized by young revolutionists. from Berlin.
A scraggy band of child rebels, we met secretly in attics, in abandoned houses and even on roofs. We were taught by men who claimed they were deserters from the navy to hate the rich, to tell the poor that they must rise in a body and fight, to disrupt patriotic school meetings with itching powder and stink bombs which were given to us packed in candy boxes, and to sabotage the war chest collections of old metal parts, bottles and felt hats which were conducted through the schools. This we did, and more, acting out of our own zealous initiative. We drew caricatures of the Kaiser hanging from a gallows and passed them furtively from hand to hand. We gave articulation to our contempt for established author­ity by hurling dead rats through the open windows of police stations.
From my father and other sailors, when they came home for a monthly two-day leave, we heard much of what was going on in the fleet. Mutiny brewed. The men, crammed into narrow quarters a thousand and more on a single ship and ridden by hunger, hated the officers for their arrogance and the champagne and butter they consumed. The Kulies [5] of the Fleet wanted more than an end to the war; they talked of revenge for all the degradations of the past. On several ships secret action committees of the sailors and stokers had been elected. The latrines in the shipyards became the centers for clandestine revolutionary meetings. Desertions increased; sailors sold their uniforms and decamped inshore. Several ringleaders from the warships had been court-martialed and executed by Imperial firing squads.
Not a week passed that we did not have a deserter staying over­night in our dingy apartment. Usually they left at dawn, clad in civilian rags, on their way to Berlin or Munich and on to Saxony and Silesia. Most of them brought service pistols into the houses of workers. My mother abhorred arms. But I knew that several fami­lies in the same tenement had firearms hidden away in the basement, under floor boards, in window casings, and stove pipes. People were silent and sullen. No one in our block or the next believed that the end of the war was near.
Once a sailor returning from Petrograd was our guest. Tall, gaunt, to my eyes a rather adventurous figure, he stood in a corner of the living room and told about the victory of the Bolsheviki and the first workers’ government in the world. He drank great quanti­ties of bad, black, unsugared coffee, and talked until he was hoarse. The room was full of people. They kept on coming and going. They asked questions, shook their heads, argued, and many eyes shone. When it was time to go to sleep he became afraid to stay; someone might have informed the police, he thought. I led him to the family of a friend on the other side of the river. This sailor slunk into a doorway or into a side street whenever he saw a policeman under the street lights ahead. In the end I was a little disgusted. I had a fairly low opinion of policemen. For two long hours we trudged through the night, the sailor and I, without exchanging a word.
Toward the end of October, 1918, my father wrote that the High Seas Fleet had received orders for a final attack against England. No secret was made of it. The officers, he reported in his blunt fashion, reveled all night. They spoke of the death-ride of the Fleet. Rumor had it that the Fleet was under orders to go down in battle to save the honor of the generation that built it. "Their honor is not our honor," my father wrote.
Two days later the Fleet was under way. The people in Bremen were more surly than ever.
Then came stirring news. Mutiny in the Kaiser’s fleet! Young sons of the bourgeoisie who had been sporting sailors’ caps now left them at home. I saw women who laughed and wept because they had their men in the Fleet. From windows and doors and in front of the food stores sounded the anxious voices: "Will the Fleet sail out? . . . No, the Fleet must not sail! It’s murder! Finish the war!" Youngsters in the streets yelled, "Hurrah."
Details filtered through. Aboard the Thüringen the mutineers had seized the ship. They had dropped the anchors, smashed the lights and disarmed the officers.
A shout went up: "Down with the Kaiser! Down with the war! We want peace!"
Passing men shook their heads and said the penalty for mutiny was death. A deserter from a mine-sweeping flotilla carried further news. The battleship Helgoland had followed the example of the Thüringen. The stokers had doused the fires and killed the steam.
The Fleet did not sail. The Fleet returned to port.
Five hundred and eighty mutineers from the Thüringen and the Helgoland, among them my father, were arrested and jammed into cells in the ships.
At home we spent two dreary nights. My mother prayed. The younger children shivered in their beds. There was no coal and no food. I remember wondering why I could not get excited over the possibility that my father would have to face the firing squad. The arrest of the mutineers, however, was only an incident. With help from outside they smashed the doors, stormed the ships, and took control. The officers gave way. Aboard the Helgoland a chunky young stoker yanked down the Kaiser’s flag and hauled the red flag to the masthead. By November 7 the whole Fleet was in revolt.
That night I saw the mutinous sailors roll into Bremen on cara­vans of commandeered trucks—red flags and machine guns mounted on the trucks. Thousands milled in the streets, Often the trucks stopped and the sailors sang and roared for free passage. The workers cheered particularly a short, burly young man in grimy blue. The man swung his carbine over his head to return the salute. He was the stoker who had hoisted the first red flag over the Fleet. His name was Ernst Wollweber.
In front of the railway station I saw a man lose his life. He was an officer in field gray who came out of the station the minute it was surrounded, and was seized by the mutineers. He was slow in giving up his arms and epaulettes. He made no more than a motion to draw his pistol when they were on top of him. Rifle butts flew through the air above him. Fascinated, I watched from a little way off. Then the sailors turned away to saunter back to their trucks. I had seen dead people before. But death by violence and the fury that accompanied it were something new. The officer did not move. I marveled how easily a man could be killed.
I rode away on my bicycle. I fevered with a strange sense of power. I did not know that it was part of the mass intoxication which, like the chunky stoker from the Helgoland, had risen from the depths to take charge of minds and events. Not far from Hillmann’s Hotel a band of civilians was trouncing a policeman who tried to forbid them to ride on the outside of a tramcar.
I circled toward the Brill, a square in the western center of the town. From there on I had to push my bicycle through the throngs. The population was in the streets. From all sides masses of humanity, a sea of swinging, pushing bodies and distorted faces was moving toward the center of the town. Many of the workers were armed with guns, with bayonets, with hammers. I felt then, and later, that the sight of armed workers sets off a roar in the blood of those who sympathize with the marchers. Singing hoarsely was a sprawling band of demonstrating convicts freed by a truckload of sailors from Oslebshausen prison. Most of them wore soldiers’ greatcoats over their prison garb. But the true symbol of this revolution, which was really naught but a revolt, were neither the armed workers nor the singing convicts—but the mutineers from the Fleet with their reversed hatbands and carbines slung over their shoulders, butts up and barrels down.
The City Hall of Bremen fell without real fighting. No one rose to defend the toppling Empire. The masses did not want blood­shed, not even revenge; they were war-weary and now they were determined to stop the spook. Late that night tens of thousands of workers filled the marketplace. Among them was a sprinkling of soldiers and the inevitable sailors from the warships.
At the foot of the Roland statue a frightened old woman crouched. "Ach, du lieber Gott," she wailed piercingly. "What is all this? What’s the world coming to?" A huge-framed young worker who gave intermittent bellows of triumph and whom I had followed from the Brill, grasped the old woman’s shoulders. He laughed resoundingly. "Revolution," he rumbled. "Revolution, madam."
Speaker followed speaker in proclaiming the new epoch from the balcony of the City Hall; a lanky soldier, a representative of a newly elected workers’ council, a large-bodied official of the Social Democratic Party, and in between the thick-set ringleader of naval mutineers, Ernst Wollweber.
Wollweber hurled his words like rocks into the masses.
"We stripped the Kaiser of his boots," he ended. "Now let us finish off the capitalists. Long live the German Soviet Republic!"
The masses responded. They roared until it seemed their faces would burst. The compulsion was irresistible. I roared with them. The upsurge spread from the coast to the south, with sailors as the spearhead of revolt. The Prussian government gave way. Bavaria was proclaimed a republic. In Hamburg, traditionally the reddest town of Germany, Soviets came to power. The Kaiser bolted to Holland, and two days later the Armistice was signed.
I did not see my father again. I was told that he had been elected to the revolutionary workers’ and soldiers’ council of Emden. Later my father went to Berlin. The Independent Socialists sent him to Brunswick. Meanwhile I spent the better part of each day on my bicycle, running errands for a sailors’ committee which had established headquarters in the Weser Shipyards. I did not understand the quarrels between the various workers’ parties, but I easily acquired the contempt with which the former mutineers regarded the moderate politicians. Each day in Bremen saw demonstrations and counter-demonstrations of rival proletarian blocs. A sem­blance of unity came to pass only when the field gray troops flooded back from the front, still under the command of their old officers. I was among the multitude who met the returning regi­ments 75 and 213 on the north-western fringe of the city. The soldiers were silent and plastered with mud. The officers had their swords drawn and they answered the shouting masses with sneers and threats.
"We’re going to clean up here," was their threat.
Once in the city, the soldiers from the front were surrounded by revolutionary sailors and shipyard workers entrenched in machine gun nests on roofs and balconies. The troops were trapped; everyone expected a massacre. However, they were disarmed and dis­banded without bloodshed. A few days later the first signs of the existence of newly formed nationalist bands were in evidence. Posters shouted from the walls, "Destroy the November Crimi­nals." Squads of workers tore them off. Tired horses, abandoned by the troops, were butchered at night in the streets by flocks of determined women.
In January, 1919, disunity led to open battle. The Ebert-Scheidemann-Noske forces, right-wing socialists, enlisted the aid of nationalist divisions under the command of officers from the Western Front to head off the attempts of the Spartakus Bund to seize power. Hundreds died in the streets of Berlin. Karl Liebknecht and the heroic woman who shared his leadership, Rosa Luxemburg, were murdered by a camarilla of such officers. Rosa was torn to pieces and flung into a canal, and the monarchist rabble rejoiced in a new song which began:

"A corpse floats in the Landwehr Canal . ."

In Bremen the sailors were still optimistic. As one of them put it, "As long as we have a machine gun, a loaf of munition bread and a liverwurst, we have no cause for worry." There was street fight­ing in Munich, in Hamburg, in Silesia. In Bremen the moderates were shoved aside. Soviets ruled the city, and proclaimed it an in­dependent republic.
On January 20 came the news that my father had died in a hos­pital in Wolfenbüttel. That gave me a fearful shock. My mother, almost out of her mind with grief, left at once for Brunswick. The younger children were left in charge of a neighbor. On January 22 my youngest brother, five years old, was found dead in his bed. No one saw him die.
Since the middle of November, 1918, I had ceased going to school. The Young Spartakus group to which I belonged was quite active. Each morning we went to the Red House on the left bank of the Weser and got packs of leaflets from the secretary of a fierce hunchback who had somehow come to power in the councils of the revolutionary sailors. The leaflets we distributed in the harbor, at the factory gates, and in suburban tenement districts.
In the first days of January, 1919, the Spartakus Bund consti­tuted itself as the Communist Party of Germany, but we had taken such pride in the old name of our organization that we did not call ourselves Young Communists, but Young Spartacists. On January 27, on the Kaiser’s birthday, sailors with red armbands organized us boys into squads of twenty. All day we spent in breaking up the Kaiser Day meetings arranged by the principals of gymnasiums and high schools. We armed ourselves with clubs and stones and burst in on the meetings. We tore the Imperial flags from the pulpits and subdued the singing of "Heil Dir im Siegerkranz" [6] with the German version of the Marseillaise. The teachers did not dare to interfere with our rowdyism. The better-dressed and better-fed boys we drove out into the streets.
Came February. The tragedy that had been enacted in Berlin—the crushing of fighting revolutionary minorities by the young Reichswehr under the command of War Minister Gustav Noske, a social democrat,—was repeated in many outlying cities. Rumors spread in our ranks that Berlin was sending reactionary troops to suppress the Soviets in Bremen. On February 3, people clustered around posters announcing that General Gerstenberg’s division was approaching the city from the south. All revolutionary work­ers were called to arms. The sons of the bourgeoisie evacuated the city. In long drawn-out columns they raced away on skates over the frozen moorland to join the on-marching troops.
The somewhat less than three hundred members of the Young Spartakus League were mobilized to serve as messengers and dis­patch riders. Many of us were supplied with new bicycles which had been taken from the stores. The Revolutionary Defense Com­mittee used boys and girls as couriers because youngsters were less likely to be suspected and halted by advancing Noske troops. All through the day I watched sailors and workers place field cannon on covered spots along the river front and machine guns on stra­tegic housetops. Spartacist detachments were marching toward the outskirts of the city. Most of the marchers were young, under twenty. They were all badly clad. Some wore rags in place of boots. They had their rifles slung butt-end up over their shoulders and their hands buried in their pockets. Their faces were pale, and blue with the cold.
The night from February 3 to February 4 I did not go home. A mixture of self-destructive defiance and hectic fatalism, a mood that sprang from the tireless little horde of sailors, seemed to domi­nate all of us, old and young. I heard men talk of annihilating the counter-revolution. They could not fool me; I knew what was in their minds. They themselves faced annihilation and they realized it, but their fever and their self-respect and their sensitivity toward ridicule did not permit them to give up a position already as good as lost. I half slept through that night on the ground floor of the Stock Exchange building.
The large hall was cluttered with young men and a few young women. Scores of bicycles leaned against the walls. Firearms were stacked near the doors. On heaps of straw people snored or con­versed in whispers. Big pots of bad coffee steamed on kerosene stoves. It was still dark when we were roused. Several sailors ran among us, leaping over the debris, kicking the sleepers right and left, and shouting.
"All up! Reise! Reise! The Noske guards are coming!"
On Market Square the undersized hunchback, a huge sailor, and a young man with spectacles were issuing orders. From the left bank of the river drifted the thump of artillery and the hard chatter of machine guns. With five other boys I was ordered to proceed to the central savings bank on Kaiser Street. We were to serve as dispatch riders between the bank and the Weser Shipyards in the west.
Three of our courier group deserted at once. I doubt that their motive was fear. They simply went off to get closer glimpses of the battle. All that day curious mobs were dodging around street corners, undeterred by bullets whining past their ears. Two times during the forenoon I made the journey between the bank and the shipyard with a scrawled report of the comrade in charge of defending the entrance of Kaiser Street, a thoroughfare that led from the river to the central railway station. At that time the western portion of the town was still outside the zone of fighting. Barricaded stores, shattered windows, patches of pavement torn up and heaped to form barricades were landmarks all along the route. There seemed nothing more to do after the second trip. Since I had never been inside of a bank I proceeded to explore the building. Not a window was intact. Doors had been broken. Desks, chairs, filing cabinets and rugs were piled up against the windows, ready to be hurled on the heads of attackers in the street below. At some of the windows snipers were at work. No one stopped me; any spy of the counter forces could have walked into the building to reconnoiter the forces of the defenders. Finally I came to rest in a large room on the top floor. From Hein Rode, a sailor with whom I was acquainted, and from what I saw, I gained an under­standing of the rudiments of the most bitter form of combat — house-to-house fighting in the streets.
There was a machine gun firing from the largest window. Two sailors and a youth about my own age served it. By this time the whole city reverberated with the sounds of battle.
Snipers fired at soldiers crawling over distant housetops. The field pieces along the river roared intermittently. The vicious ham­mering of machine guns was continuous. Men were shooting from speeding lorries and from doorways. Several houses were afire. Down in the Brill inquisitive pedestrians ran for their lives. Frag­ments of rock and much glass littered the streets. Then came pro­longed explosions of such violence that the building rocked as if under an earthquake.
"A direct hit?" I asked excitedly.
"Mines," Hein Rode said calmly. "They’re using mine-throw­ers."
Advancing along the Meter Strasse, the Noske guards were near­ing the left side of the river. I saw them leap from doorway to doorway, while others came simultaneously across the roofs and garden fringes. From half a mile off they looked like animated toy soldiers; in reality they were veterans of the Western Front. The thumping of the mines increased. The southern bridge-head of the Kaiser bridge swarmed suddenly with field-gray shapes under steel helmets.
At the window the machine gun jammed. A sailor turned and said, "Hang on now, the comrades are blowing up the bridges." An instant later he cursed: "Verdammt, why don’t they blow up that bridge?"
There was a lull in the firing. The Noske guards stormed the bridge. As they ran, they shouted. And abruptly the machine guns opened in merciless bursts. I saw many soldiers fall. Death was commonplace. That day it evoked in me no other emotion than would a fascinating show. An instant later we all ran from the building in a panic. The thunder of exploding hand-grenades was less than two hundred yards away. Shells exploding in the air ripped chunks of rock out of the towers of the cathedral. A dis­patch rider coming from the direction of the marketplace roared something about armored cars.
Angry shouts went up. "The bridges are taken!" There was no sign of discouragement. But there was a hideous confusion. A rumor spread that Knief, the revolutionary teacher, and Fraczunkovitz, the hunchback, had escaped by plane.
"Better get going," Rode advised me. "Save your skin."
I mounted my bicycle and rode away, unaware at first of the direction I was taking. Dead men sprawled grotesquely here and there, and in many places the snow was splotched with blood. I reached the moat, a natural line of defense encircling the inner city. It too had been deserted. Red Guards were retreating to the rail­way station. Several times I was stopped by Noske Guards, but seeing that despite my height I was only a child, they let me pro­ceed. Everywhere lorries loaded with soldiers in field gray ad­vanced slowly. I fled the town, following a detachment of retreat­ing mutineers. After three days of wandering I reached Hamburg.
From the railway station I wrote a postcard to my mother to assure her that I was alive. She wired me what little money she managed to scrape up. Next day she arrived in Hamburg, looking like a ghost.
"I don’t want to go back," I told her. "I’m going to sea."
For a long while she was silent. Only her patient gray eyes wid­ened and filled with fathomless sadness. Finally she said, "But our country has no ships. They were all taken by the British."
"I shall sign on as deck boy under some foreign flag," I replied.
In the following days my mother sold the remnants of family sil­ver she had brought with her, and bought me oilskins, seaboots, blankets and a few other necessities. She also gave me a small Bible, and she arranged with Wolfert, a shipping master with crafty blue eyes in a drinker’s face, that I could live at his boarding house until he had procured me a ship.
When the train moved out of the Hamburg station I saw her standing at the window, frail, shabby, sad and invincibly loyal. "Fair winds," she called to me. "May God be with you."

Chapter Two - SAILOR’S WAY

IT WAS SPRINGTIME IN HAMBURG. I wanted a ship, a job at sea, and a chance to work myself up to a captain’s rank. For weeks I haunted the waterfront, but the great seaport was a sleeping giant. Except for coastal trade and a few food ships from America, the Hamburg harbor was dead. The British blockade was still in force, although it was months after the signing of the Armistice. It was springtime in Versailles, too, where the peace that was to haunt the world was being perfected.
I would awake hungry, and was still hungry when I went to sleep. Hunger wiped out the lines between adolescents and full-grown men. A sack of flour was worth more than a human life. When a fruit cart of a peasant from Vierlanden was turned over in the street and a middle-aged man tried to shoulder me aside in the scramble for the winter apples, what else was there to do but to stand up and hit him in the face? I was in my fifteenth year.
I took part in the plundering of a wholesale fish store in Altona. Tons of fish were dumped on the cobblestones, and people grabbed the fish and ran. When a policeman interfered, what else was there to do but to slam a ten-pound codfish into his face? When for a fish or a piece of leather cut out of a stolen transmission belt, a boy could have the body of a girl not older than himself or be instructed in lewd practices by a soldier’s widow turned prostitute, what meaning was there in all the pratings of the need for law and order and a decent life?
When one is thrown adrift in a polluted stream, with no dry land in sight, what escape is there? I took no active part in the political riots of this Hamburg spring, but my heart was with the revolutionary workers, perhaps because it was their side which always lost in the end. Whenever I saw a policeman level his rifle against a civilian, I felt the same hatred as at the sight of a teamster cruelly mistreating his emaciated horse. Each day armed workers skirmished with the police. Night after night the sounds of desultory firing echoed over the city. Yet the news that a trawler loaded with flounders or herring was steaming up the river moved the people more than stumbling against a dead man in the gutter, or encountering a lorry piled high with crude coffins, or coming upon a barricade manned by a few determined-looking youths.
I hunted for food and work. But the struggle to conquer and defend power seemed the essence of life. In the Grenzfass, a large beer hall in the St. Pauli district, I heard and met for the first time Herrmann Knüffgen, an incarnation of all the political adventur­ers of our century. Surrounded by a singularly well-knit assort­ment of revolutionary toughs, Knüffgen radiated an atmosphere of indestructible aplomb. Of medium height, slight of build, with a mop of almost colorless hair, his pale eyes gleaming with reckless deviltry, he was no more than twenty-two or -three at the time. Early that morning, at the head of his Rollkommando [7], he had successfully raided a basement arsenal of the Bürgerwehr [8], a counter-revolutionary organization of armed citizens. Knüffgen made a speech. The hall was full of workless dockers.
"The rich must die so that the poor may live," he cried. There was a thunder of cheers. The sailor’s Messianic fervor fired my imagination, yet there was nothing bloodthirsty about him as there was about many others who had risen from the depths. Shortly after this stirring meeting in the Grenzfass, Knüffgen embarked on an enterprise that made him the idol of waterfront radicals the world over. A delegation of the Communist Party of Germany was scheduled to go to Moscow at a time when Russia was closed to the West by the civil war. Herrmann Knüffgen was commissioned to bring this delegation to Moscow dead or alive. He stowed himself and the delegates away in the fish tank of an out­bound trawler. Once at sea, he emerged with a revolver in each hand, imprisoned the captain and the crew of ten, and took pos­session of the vessel which he then navigated around the North Cape to Murmansk. The delegation arrived in Moscow to confer with Lenin, and Knüffgen, upon his return to Germany, was convicted and jailed for piracy on the high seas. No prison, how­ever, could hold him long.

The faithful shipping master Wolfert, through his acquaintance with former sailship masters, at last found me a ship. One morning, half drunk as usual and bullying his frightened wife, he thrust a letter into my hands and shouted at me to report to the Ship­owners’ Association for duty aboard the former Africa liner Lucy Wörman. As if by sudden magic, I was signed on as ordinary sea­man and the following day I packed my canvas bag and went aboard. The ship hulked gray and mournful at her wharf, her flanks covered with creeping rust. The thought of being able to make my living on the good clean sea made me weep with joy.
The ship was bound for South America. She was loaded with crews who were to man and bring home the large fleet of German vessels marooned in the ports of Chile and Peru during the war. Desperately anxious to leave the hunger-ridden Fatherland, thou­sands schemed and bribed to get a berth aboard the Lucy Wörman. Scores of the nearly four hundred who were signed had been among the mutineers of the Imperial navy; scores of others had never been aboard a ship before; once at sea none manifested the slightest intention of bringing German ships back home, or of ever returning to Germany.
The ship was infested with stowaways. Three boatloads of them were returned to shore off Cuxhaven. Before the red rock of Heligoland was abeam, five prostitutes were discovered in the boatswain’s locker, and three other young women, who proved to be the wives of former storekeepers, among the crew. All of them were transferred to homebound fishermen. But many others, found later, remained aboard.
Soon after the Cornwall capes had slipped out of sight astern and the Lucy Wörman bucked westward over the Atlantic rollers, gambling centers and even a brothel set up in business in messrooms and cabins overnight. Tattooing booths, bands of musicians, in­structors in English and Spanish and jiu-jitsu began to flourish. Spartacists, anarchists and self-styled missionaries launched discus­sion circles. Gangs of hoodlums assaulted and robbed the more prosperous voyagers. One old man was found with his throat cut. Another elderly man put on holiday clothes and at sunrise jumped into the ocean.
The ship’s officers, reinforced by a few loyal mariners of the prewar school, barricaded themselves on the bridge and in the engine room. Elsewhere conditions bordering on madness reigned. A Pirate’s Club sprang up, announcing as its purpose seizure of the ship for a journey to the South Seas. Off the Azores, however, such leadership as there could be fell to a man named Herrmann Kruse.
Kruse, an old member of the Spartakus Bund, called a general meeting of his followers aboard the Lucy Wörman and emerged as the head of a newly elected ship Soviet. He formed a ship Tcheka, and by sheer terror subdued all independent marauders in our midst. Kruse, about twenty-five years old, was blond, bearish, quick-tempered, and had a flair for oratory. He brought some order out of the confusion and now he demanded control of the ship. The skipper armed his officers with pistols for the meeting with Kruse’s Soviet. By way of retaliation Kruse’s strong-arm squads seized all available provisions and began a hunger blockade against the bridge and the engine room. Most of the time the steam was kept low, and at times the ship wallowed helplessly without steam at all. In sight of the green shore of Jamaica a passing oil tanker, apparently suspecting trouble aboard the Lucy Wörman, signaled.
"Can I give you assistance?"
"Thank you. I have a cargo of lunatics," our skipper answered.
But the officers succeeded, despite all difficulties, in bringing the vessel to Colon. One faction on board planned to scuttle the ship in the Panama Canal, to desert, and to walk through the jungles to Mexico or the United States. Herrmann Kruse and his guerrillas, armed with clubs and belaying pins, opposed this. Kruse’s plan was to allow the Lucy to pass through the Canal, then to overpower the officers. After that, we were to steam for the Galapagos Islands, establish a Soviet Republic, and ask Moscow for protection, supplies and women.
Opposing factions shrieked their protest. "Kruse wants to be a dictator! Down with Galapagos! We land right here!" Little did the American authorities at Colon suspect what a mess was passing into the Canal. In defiance of Kruse, "debarkation squads" were hastily formed as we steamed through the Canal. The rush to reach a shore that looked inviting from a little way off was contagious. As a matter of course, I joined one of the squads.
We packed our belongings, put on life preservers, and lined up along the rail for the plunge. The captain shouted from the bridge for us to desist, but he was greeted with laughter. Group after group heaved their bundles overboard and jumped after them. The Canal waters were soon dotted with swimming men.
I, too, jumped. I felt the water rush upward, smooth and warm, and then I swam for dear life, pushing with all my strength to get away from the deadly propeller. Several of my fellow-deserters were cut to shreds. The shore was much farther away than it had seemed from the ship. Close behind me, as I swam, struggled a middle-aged shoemaker. "Das ist schön [9]," he kept saying to encourage me, "now, ho! for America!"
Together we finally reached the muddy bank and ran for the green cover less than fifty yards away. The ground was soggy, and the underbrush dense. But we pushed forward. Soon we came on four other deserters, and the six of us proceeded in single file, carrying our water-soaked bundles and streaming with perspiration. Our leader was a stoker who had once served on Amazon River steamboats. Sometimes the underbrush was so thick that we could not penetrate it; at other times we were confronted with swamps which seemed to stretch out for miles. Once in a while the Amazon River stoker climbed a tree to look around. All he could report was jungle all around, a few hills, and steamers passing in the Canal. The passing steamers looked as if they were threading their way through the treetops.
After walking in circles for four or five hours, we struck a lake. We tried to skirt the shore of the lake, but soon ran into swamps. The Amazon River stoker cursed almost without interruption. The shoemaker chattered happily. He told us he had all the tools of his trade in the bundle he carried, and he looked forward to a prosper­ous existence in some American city. Suddenly our leader halted.
"Look—a railroad," he exclaimed.
Ahead of us was a railroad embankment, neat, compact, dry. Someone said: "Let’s stay here and dry out our bundles. When they’re dry, they’ll be easier to carry." We all agreed.
We opened our bundles and spread the wet things over the tracks: shirts, pants, papers, tobacco. The stoker sent one man a hundred yards in each direction to watch for oncoming trains. We stripped off our clothes and spread them out to dry. The sec­ond youngest of our group, who had been a metal worker’s appren­tice, had found some wild bananas.
We munched bananas and relaxed in the sun. Our hopes rose. The shoemaker wanted to ride the next train into Panama City. He was anxious to start himself in business without loss of time. The stoker spoke of a foreman’s job in a vast banana plantation.
It was agreed that the men who stood guard on both sides of the tracks should whistle when a train approached. But when a train came from the Atlantic side, the guard did not whistle. Naked, his pants and shirt jammed under his arm, he came running toward us down the tracks. Behind him rumbled the train.
It was too late to save our things. Our leader yelled, "All hands take cover."
We dived into the jungle. The train ran over our belongings. Then it stopped. Men in khaki uniforms jumped from the train, and began to comb the jungle.
We separated. I crawled through broad-leaved bushes, moving on hands and knees, and when I rose I confronted a grinning soldier.
"Come on," he said, grasping my shoulders. "You can’t run around here with no clothes on."
He led me to the train. All my companions had been caught. I put on a shirt which had been cut under the armpits by the train, and a pair of trousers which had but one leg. My comrades did not look much better. We were herded into the train and taken to a station. From there we were marched to a police post. The Americans treated us hospitably. They fed us and plied us with cigarettes.
Before nightfall we were all loaded into a motor launch and returned to the Lucy, which was anchored in Panama Bay. The ship weighed anchor and shaped a course down the west coast of South America, calling at Callao and ports to the south. The majority of the men on the Lucy Wörman refused to man the ships for the voyage home. There were strikes, arrests by the Chilean police, jail breaks. Herrmann Kruse became known all along the Nitrate Coast as the "Commissar from Hamburg."
I deserted the ship at Antofagasta. Seven months I lingered on the Chile coast. Here I found a freedom I had not known in Europe. The world of political strife, of cold and hunger, seemed as distant as Saturn. Employers and officials asked neither for references nor for papers of identification. I worked in a rigger’s gang engaged in refitting a number of old sailing vessels in the roadsteads of Antofagasta and Iquique, and thus acquired a working knowledge of old-fashioned seamanship and of Spanish. After that job gave out, a labor agent of Antofagasta recruited me for the Chuqui copper mines high up in the barren Andes. My work was that of a splicer of wire cables and my pay was high beyond all expectation—ten pesos a day, for good splicers were rare. Life in the mining camps was rough, particularly after paydays when gambling bouts frequently ended in a flash of knives. Much of the bestiality was due to the absence of women; all but the hardiest prostitutes from the coast shunned the trade with the rabble of the Chuqui mines. Many of my fellow workers had been more or less forcibly con­scripted from the jails of the larger towns; they were of many nationalities, a hard-working, hard-drinking, unruly crew. The vision of a Chilean girl, Carmencita, with whom I had become friendly, drew me back to the coast. I arrived in Antofagasta on a copper train, with more than three hundred pesos in my pockets, only to find that Carmencita had become the companion of a jobless Norwegian second mate.
I traveled south as a deck passenger aboard a slow coastwise steamer, and after a few aimless days in Valparaiso, I decided to visit the nearby capital, Santiago de Chile. Here I found work in a candle factory under a domineering British foreman. It was inside work which I detested heartily. In a cafe I met a young American who had come from Argentina and spoke enthusiastically about the lusty life in Buenos Aires. Next day I threw up my job of packing candles and bought a trans-Andean railway ticket to Buenos Aires. I arrived in the La Plata metropolis with two pesos and sixty centavos. Mounted carabineros were rounding up beach­combers in large batches, belying Buenos Aires’s reputation as the ideal haven for castaways from all the world. After three days of dodging the energetic carabineros, I signed on as a full-fledged sailor aboard the barque Tiljuca, a supply ship for the Norwegian and British whaling bases on the Antarctic island of South Georgia, and manned entirely by Russians and Germans. Toughened as I was, compared with the toughness of the Tiljuca tars, I was a mere infant. One of them ate his salt pork, seasoned with tobacco, raw. Another answered a letter from his mother, imploring him to come home after so many years, by writing that he would come home as soon as he had found someone rich enough to be killed for his money. They gloried in their toughness. Thoroughly soaked with vino tinto, none of them hesitated to rob an itinerant hawker or to rape an immigrant girl come aboard to beg food, but all of them showed an almost sentimental affection for the Tiljuca’s mongrel dog and the forecastle canary. Perhaps only that combination of life on the Buenos Aires Boca and on the forbidding Antarctic seas is able to produce such types. One four months’ voyage to the bleak island of South Georgia killed off my ambition to become an Antarctic whaler. I left the Tiljuca on her return to Buenos Aires for trampship journeys under the flags of Britain, Norway and Greece which landed me in the fall of 1921 in the negro quarter of Galveston, Texas. I was seventeen.
The black folk were friendly to me. An elderly master painter treated me as if I had been his son until, by a stroke of luck, I found a berth on what, I believe, was the finest and largest sailing ship afloat at that time. It was the Magdalene Vinnen, a four-masted barque, which eventually brought me back to Chile.
One of my shipmates had broken a leg off Tierra del Fuego. The captain of our ship refused to have the injured man transferred to a hospital. There was a near mutiny on board in which I had a hand. To avoid arrest by the Chilean harbor police, I deserted at night in the captain’s gig and repaired to familiar haunts in Antofagasta. Christmas Eve of 1922 found me celebrating with other stranded sailors on the green lawns of Plaza Colon, toasting Mrs. Bready, the chesty female shipping master of Nitrate Coast, who generously had supplied a keg of wine. For a fee of six pounds sterling Mrs. Bready found me a berth aboard an ancient barque, the Obotrita, Captain Dietrich, bound with nitrate around Cape Horn to Hull, England. I paid off in Hull in the early spring of 1923. From there I bought passage to Hamburg.
I came home to study navigation, with the intention of obtaining an officer’s ticket. But the minute I set foot on German soil, I found myself sucked back into a whirlpool of hate and distress even more fierce than the one I had left. I found that my family, my mother and the three younger children, stripped by the cyclonic inflation, badly needed what little money I had.
I saw an aged woman standing at a curb, burning thousand-mark bills, and cackling at the silently watching crowd.
"What’s the matter with the woman?" I asked a bystander. "The matter?" the man said. "She’s crazy." And he added: "The country needs a good revolution."
I walked away. The country was sick. During my years at sea, which had almost made me forget the old hates, my country had had no peace. In 1920, the militarists under Kapp had struck at the Weimar Republic. Ministers of the Republic had been assassinated. In 1921, armed insurrections in Saxony and Thuringia had been crushed without mercy. In January, 1923, French and Belgian armies had invaded the Ruhr to enforce payment of war reparations. Separatist bands rioted in the Rhineland. Inflation stalked the land with giant strides. Foreign scavengers descended upon Germany in droves, exchanging for a pittance the products of native toil. Prices leaped ahead of wages in a mad dance.
Between the city of Hamburg and its great harbor flows the river Elbe. I was at the ferry landing when the thousands of dockers returned from work. The dockers were met by their wives and daughters who seized their day’s pay and rushed to the nearest stores to buy food because next day this money would be worthless.
On the ferry landing stood a squad of customs officials and harbor police. Each worker, before he was allowed to pass, was searched for contraband by the officers. One worker had concealed under his coat a small bag of flour he had taken from some ship’s hold.
A policeman held the bag with flour aloft.
"You are under arrest," he said.
"I took this flour from a broken bag," the worker protested. "It was spilled into the hold anyway."
The officer snapped: "I know all about your broken bags. You fellows rip open the bags with your hooks. Come on, now."
He took the worker by the sleeve to lead him away.
The worker tore himself free. "Give me back my flour," he demanded. "It’s mine!"
Two other policemen stepped up and tried to put handcuffs on the worker. A scuffle ensued. Another stevedore stepped in. "You fat-necked parasites," he roared at the policemen. "Let my friend go. Give him his flour back."
"Nothing doing. Keep moving."
Other dockers joined the struggling group. The policemen drew their rubber truncheons, formed a skirmish line, drove the workers back from the wharf. A worker, young and lean, with the five-point star, the emblem of the Communist Party, on his blue cap, sprang on a bitt and shouted:
"Down with the police. Down with the lackeys of capitalism. Throw them into the harbor!"

That night, on my way to the dingy room I had rented in a tenement in the waterfront district, I was accosted by two women. One was about forty, the other barely over sixteen.
The older woman tugged at my sleeve and said, "You have a good face. Please help us."
They were refugees from the Rhineland. The older woman’s husband had been a member of a sabotage brigade against the French. He had helped blow up a railway line to prevent shipment of German coal to France. He had been arrested, convicted to twelve years of penal servitude by a military court, and had been carried off into France. His family had been told to leave the zone of occupation within twelve hours. Their house and their garden were seized. They had wandered for weeks, pushed on from town to town by unwilling authorities. The older woman was terribly emaciated.
"It’s bitter cold," she said. "Please give us a place to sleep." "I have only a small, cold room," I explained.
The woman’s eyes lit up. "We can sleep on the floor," she said. "We are thankful just to have a roof over the head."
I hesitated. I thought of giving her some money, but then I remembered that the stores were closed, that the hotels demanded foreign currency, that the money would be useless. It was German money.
"All right," I said. "You can come with me."
I took them to my room and we had a supper of tea and black bread.
The woman said: "My daughter can sleep with you in the bed and I will sleep on the floor."
I was not astonished. In their home town they had been respectable people. But it was the custom all over the land, in the degen­eration of post-war years, that refugee girls had to peddle their bodies for bread and a place to sleep.
I looked at the girl.
"I am not afraid," the girl said. "I’ve had to do it before."
I said no. I thought of their man languishing in some distant French prison. He had blown up a railway. In such times, it seemed to me, the best thing one could do would be to blow up the whole world. I told the women to use the bed. Then I walked down to the street. There a group of young workers were busy pasting posters on the walls.
"Communism alone brings national and social freedom," the posters said.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
The leader of the group brought his face close to mine. He seemed satisfied.
"Sure," he said.
For two hours I helped the young workers put up posters. Often we climbed on one another’s shoulders to place the posters so high that they could not be torn off. Very little was said. Three of us worked, and two stood at the corners watching for police. Twice police patrols surprised us. They came running, swinging their clubs. But we ran faster and escaped.
"Some day," the leader of the Young Communist group said, "we won’t run. We’ll have guns and fight them on the barricades. Ten dead policemen for every dead worker."
His eyes blazed hate.
"Blood must flow," said another.
We parted. All night I walked aimlessly through cold streets. Near the Sternschanze Station I passed a house in front of which stood an ambulance. Attendants carried an old woman out of the house. The old woman was dead.
"She has hanged herself," someone said. "Hanged herself with a piece of wire."
"Why?"
"She had a pension, but her month’s pension couldn’t buy her a box of matches."
A man standing nearby spat vigorously.
"The poor grow poorer and the rich grow richer," he growled. "Good night," I said, moving on.
The man raised his right fist. "Red front!" he bellowed.
In the gray of early dawn I found myself in an outlying section where long streets were lined with drab one-family houses which resembled one another like so many eggs in a box. In front of the stores, at the street corners, women began to line up. They shivered in the cold and counted the paper in their hands. They counted hundreds of thousands, millions. They were determined to be first to spend this money when the stores opened.
As it grew lighter I came to a house where a town official argued heatedly with a housewife. The housewife looked unhappy. She had her arm tightly around the shoulder of a boy about ten. At the curb stood a truck. Two sinewy truckmen were waiting. I stopped and listened to the argument.
The woman could not pay her rent. The official showed her a warrant of eviction. Every day there were mass evictions. To attract the least attention, they were carried through in the early morning hours.
"We shall transport your belongings to the city storage," the official said. He pushed the woman aside and entered the house, and the two truckmen followed him.
A minute later they began loading the furniture into the truck. A passing man who carried a big bundle of newspapers under his arm halted and asked the woman: "An eviction?"
The woman nodded. "I don’t know where we shall go now," she said dejectedly.
"I’ll call up the Red Self-Help," the man said.
He placed his newspapers on the sidewalk and ran to the nearest store. Then he sauntered back and told the truckmen: "You can’t drive away with this woman’s furniture."
The woman waited nervously. In less than ten minutes the truck was loaded and the truckmen were tightening the ropes around their load. At this moment a column of roughly-clad men swept around the corner on bicycles. All of them had the red five-pointed star on blue caps.
The truckmen, seeing the raiders approach, stood aside. The official came running out of the house. The man with the news­papers pounced on the official and started beating him. The others leaped from their bicycles, cut the ropes on the truck. Each of them seized a piece of furniture and carried it back into the house. Two minutes later the truck drove away, empty, and the official had fled. People gathered. The men of the Red Self-Help formed a picket line in front of the house. Others marched along the street, shouting in chorus:
"Refuse to pay rent to the landlords!"
"Form Red Self-Help squads in every block!"
"Only Communism gives you freedom and bread!"
Slowly I walked from the scene. Three blocks away I saw a lorry loaded with green-uniformed Security Police speed past me down the street.

I wanted to ship out, to get away, to go back to the far seas. I made the rounds of the British and Scandinavian shipping masters. They had no ship for me. Their offices were besieged by stranded foreign seamen.
"Our nationals come first," they told me. "You’d better go and sign aboard a German ship."
I went down to the riverfront, to the central shipping office of the Shipowners’ Association. I walked through a filthy backyard and up a flight of iron steps. The shipping office was a dark, gloomy hall. Thousands of men lounged in the backyard and in the hall. All seamen out of a job.
I went to one of the barred windows and threw in my papers. The clerk looked at them, shoved them back.
"What do you want?"
"I want to register for a berth," I said.
"On deck?"
"On deck, yes."
"I can’t register you."
"Why not?"
"All your discharges show foreign service."
"Want me to starve to death?"
"No; you can apply for a dole."
"To hell with your dole. I want a ship."
"Can’t give you a ship. You’ve sailed on foreigners. You’ve paid no taxes in Germany. I can’t give you a ship, I tell you."
"Listen! I’m a sailor. I’m a German. This is a German shipping office. I’m willing to work. Any ship. Anywhere."
"Aw, get out!"
At this instant a broad-shouldered man with bronzed features, who had stood in the crowd around the windows, shoved me aside.
"Come on, partner," he said to the clerk, "register this fellow. An equal deal to everybody."
"I can’t," protested the clerk, "that’s against the regulations." "Damn your regulations. If you don’t register this man, he can’t even get a dole."
"Who are you anyhow?"
"Never mind that," said the man, "I’m a stoker. And I tell you this man will be registered."
"Getting tough?"
"You bet your teeth."
"Hah, beat it."
The stoker thrust his sun-blackened head close to the bars. "Listen, Bonze [10]," he growled, "do you know what’ll happen if you don’t register this comrade?"
"What?"
"I’ll get a hundred men to take those benches and smash up the place. Smash your cocoanut, too, for that matter."
"I’ll call the police."
"You’ve called them many times. That won’t save this new partition. Remember how we smashed the other one? Touch that telephone and we’ll dance with you."
The clerk did not touch the telephone. He went into a private office and returned with the director. The director looked like a walrus. His name was Captain Brahms. When he spoke, he thun­dered as if he was shouting through a megaphone.
"What’s all the noise about?" he thundered.
"This man must be registered," demanded the stoker.
"Is he your brother?"
"Don’t try to be funny."
"Oh, it’s you," barked the walrus, "what’s your name?"
"You won’t get it," said the stoker truculently.
"Are you not the hellion who brought a gang with stink bombs in here a week ago? You’re ripe for arrest."
"Go ahead, you old crook."
"Are you inciting riot?"
"Sure," said the stoker, "we’re tired of your special lists for boys who come with recommendations and bribes. We’re tired of rotting on your blacklists."
"There are no blacklists," shouted Captain Brahms.
By that time hundreds of men stood packed around the window. Loud calls burst from the charivari of voices.
"Down with the politician!" . . . "Pull off his beard!" . . . "Beat him!"
"Register this man!" the stoker roared.
Captain Brahms walked calmly to a telephone. He called the police.
Eight or ten men had seized one of the heavy benches and used it as a ramming pole. The clerks fortified themselves behind their desks which they hastily pushed together. Outside, from the yard, rocks hurtled through the windows.
The stoker roared: "Down with the special lists! Abolish secret placement! We’re years ashore and can’t get a ship! Down with the hunger regime!"
After two blows the partition splintered. A score of sailors raised havoc with furniture and files. Others pounced on the clerks who defended themselves with broken-off chair legs. Captain Brahms crawled under a table. The broad-shouldered stoker pounded the captain’s hindquarters with both fists. The thousands in the hall and down in the yard milled about, laughing, shouting, cursing. In the center of the hall a group of fifty men stood massed, yelling in chorus: "Hunger! Hunger! We want a ship!"
A high-pitched scream came from the yard. "Überfallkommando!“["Überfallkommando" = riot squad.]]"
Police. Sirens pierced the air. Three large trucks full of men in green uniforms clashed to a halt. Before they had stopped, a hundred policemen leaped to the pavement. They drew their rubber truncheons while they ran. They pitched into the crowds, dealing vicious blows left and right. Those who resisted were handcuffed and led to the trucks. A voice roared:
"Arbeitermörder! [11]" Murderers!
A policeman had lost his footing on the stairs. Four, five seamen were on top of him, hitting, kicking, robbing him of his truncheon and pistol. In the yard a young policeman ran to the shelter of a doorway. He drew his pistol and took careful aim. An instant later a youngster in a gray sweater spun around and pitched on his face. There was a thousandfold howl of rage.
"Murderers!"
"Re-mem-ber . . . the police chief is a socialist!"
"Down with the socialist traitors!"
Suddenly all policemen had pistols in their hands. They were nervous and badly scared. Voices barked:
"Strasse frei! Es wird geschossen!" [12]
Men ran away in all directions, often trampling one another underfoot. Women, appearing from nowhere, shouted abuse. Others threw garbage cans from windows at pursuing policemen. Half-stunned, I made my way to the Cathedral of St. Michael. Beside me walked an old mariner. He was serene, as if nothing had happened.
"Even if they had registered you," he said, "you’d have waited all of two years for your turn to ship out."
"They killed a man up there," I said.
"That’s all right, you’ll get used to that . . . Let’s have a beer."

Chapter Three - I STRIKE OUT

I WANDERED ABOUT AIMLESSLY, thinking what to do. Shall I run away from this diseased country? Or shall I join the forces which are actively attacking the wrongs that made my blood
rebel? One road tempted me with the free and happy countries I had seen during my seafaring years. The other filled me with the fervor and the high expectations of revolutionary youth. I felt a strangulating loneliness. I yearned for a place where I could belong.
In a waterfront tavern I studied the Shipping News. There was a steamer of the Roland Line leaving at five for Panama and Valparaiso. The very names of those ports conjured up before me vistas of high coast-lines, of warmth and abundance, of laughing brown-eyed girls, and of jobs under foreign flags or in the copper mines, of jobs with decent wages and with promise for the future.
I decided to go. With the last of my money I filled a satchel with food—biscuits, sardines, corned beef and a bottle of water, and crossed the river to the India Docks.
The steamer was loaded. The longshoremen were closing the hatches, and the deckhands were busy lowering the derricks. In an unguarded moment I slipped aboard and ran forward to hide. I climbed into the chain locker, closing the manhole above me. The bulkheads were damp and rusty. Beneath me tons of ponderous chain were curled up like iron snakes. A smell of mud and bilge water filled the place.
I heard the siren roar, muffled commands, the loud tramping of many feet, the rumbling of winches. Then the whole ship vibrated as the engines began to turn over. We were outbound. In two or three days the ship would have cleared the English Channel and I could come on deck and report myself as a stowaway to the captain.
Somewhere in the river estuary the steamer ran into a fog. I knew it by the roar of the siren which came at steady two-minute intervals. Three, four times the siren roared. The vibration in the bulkheads ceased. The engines were stopped.
I heard the patter of feet on the forecastle head. It was followed by the clashing sound of metal striking metal. Someone was work­ing on the windlass directly above my head. Suddenly I realized: the fog was too dense for the ship to proceed and the pilot had decided to anchor until the weather cleared. They’d drop the anchor and the chain beneath me would rush upward, tons of iron banging upward through the chain locker and I would be smashed to shreds in the darkness below.
A clear voice rang above me: "All clear anchor!"
Faintly, a rumbling voice came from the bridge—"Forty-five fathoms. Stand by to let go!"
"Help!" I yelled.’ "Hold anchor! Man below! Help, help!" The clear voice above me said: "God Almighty."
The next instant I had unfastened the manhole and scrambled out of the chain locker. A young officer came rushing down from the forecastle head.
Seeing me, he shouted: "Any more of you bums down there?"
"No."
He ran back on the deck. "All clear!"
A command from the bridge: "Let go anchor."
The anchor thundered to the bottom. All around was soupy fog. From near and far sounded the sirens of other ships groping in the fog. My knees trembled as the officer led me up to the bridge.
"Stowaway, sir," he reported to the skipper.
Late at night I was taken ashore in the pilot’s launch. I spent the night in a dank police station in Cuxhaven. Next day a cold-eyed police judge sentenced me to seven days in jail for trespassing on the property of the Roland Line.
I served the seven days in the Hamburg city jail. The jail was overcrowded with workers of all ages caught stealing on the wharves, in railroad yards and warehouses, or surprised by police in the act of plundering food stores.
Among my fellow prisoners was a communist agitator, a thin young man whose name was Willy Zcympanski. A fanatic fire burned in his gray eyes. Seeing my eagerness, he singled me out for special attention. His explosive enthusiasm was contagious. The clear sincerity of his devotion thrilled me. More and more I became convinced that dedication to the revolution was the only worthwhile thing in life.
"With us a man can find awareness of his own strength," Zcympanski said. "He is no longer a homeless cur. A man is born to fight."
His influence upon me was so strong that I gripped his shoulder.
"Great battles are in the offing," he continued. "The Party must prepare the armed rising. This time we won’t be losers. Soviet Germany and Soviet Russia will be invincible together. Then we’ll reach out—France, China, America, the whole world. No nobler aim is possible. To achieve it, no sacrifice can be too great."
On the morning of the fourth day Zcympanski was called out. He went to trial for having organized communist nuclei among the police. Before he went he gave me a message for his sister, who worked at the Hamburg telephone exchange. The message, in code, was written on a piece of toilet paper. He also gave me a ragged little book, urging me to pass it on before my release. It was the Communist Manifesto.
I did not see Zcympanski again until 1932. By then he had become one of the most efficient operatives of the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. Loyal to the last, he committed suicide in a Nazi prison in 1937.
When I was released, a police officer ordered me to leave Hamburg immediately. "We want no vagrants in this town," he said.
"Who, indeed," I thought, "is making vagrants out of us?"

I went to see Zcympanski’s sister. She was a handsome blonde of twenty-five, tall and intelligent. Her name was Erika. Immediately she invited me to the first hot bath I had had in weeks. The fact that I had brought her a message from her brother made her regard me as a comrade. The sound of the word comrade, coming from her lips, made my blood leap. She told me I could stay at her apart­ment as long as I liked. Her warm, yet practical simplicity aroused my trust and admiration. I found in her a trait which is characteristic of many honest revolutionists: a fundamental kindliness and compassion side by side with a cruel disregard for the lives of all who actively opposed the interests of the revolution. On the walls were a portrait of Lenin and the picture of a young mother nursing her child.
"Do you like to read?" she asked me.
I nodded. Beneath the pictures low shelves were crowded with books.
"Revolution is a science," she smiled. "Without sound theory, action is nonsense."
I read hungrily. When I did not read, I prepared a frugal meal over the tiny gas range, and then I slept. After three days of it, I craved motion. The Communist Party had called the unemployed masses to a demonstration which was to take place that night. I de­cided to be there.
It was clear from the start that among the thousands who as­sembled in the belt of suburbs there were many who were de­termined that the demonstration should not be a peaceful affair. These were the trained Party members. They came with short pieces of lead pipe in their belts and stones bulging in their pockets. They did not hide their intention of coming to grips with the police.
Torches cast flickering lights over the swelling crowds. A whistle shrilled and the crowds began to move forward behind gray-uniformed military detachments of the Party. Red flags were unrolled, and the workers’ bands began to play the Internationale.
Toward nine o’clock the demonstrations from the outskirts converged. We were now skirting the inner city. All streets leading toward the center were blocked by police. Searchlights fingering over hundreds of crimson flags; sudden fanfares, and the gleaming reflections of torches on steel helmets imparted a strong macabre effect to the whole. And suddenly, after a muffled and manifold repeated command, the head of the demonstration swung toward the banned ground of the inner city.
Immediately the police pitched in. The pace of the masses slowed down. Men in the gray uniforms of the Red Front League pressed forward to assault and break up the police phalanx into small isolated groups. Then twittering sounds pierced the night. Flying squads of the police, emerging from side streets where they had been lurking, drove wedges into the flanks of the demonstration.
"Dissolve! Clear the streets!"
It was impossible to follow that order. Tumult ensued. Rocks flew. Clubs cracked. Throngs ran from pursuing policemen, only to reassemble and return to the fray as soon as their pursuers had turned for a sally in another direction. I found to my astonishment that, in the excitement of a street battle, a blow across the face with a rubber truncheon did not cow a man’s fighting spirit, but lashed it to a bright flame. The intimidating psychological effect which police uniforms usually have on a nondescript mass of rioters vanishes when the rioters discover that even a well-armed policeman is no match for a score of bare fists at close quarters. At times I saw young workers with the red five-pointed star on their caps jab their pocket knives into the legs of police horses. Invariably the horses reared and bolted.
In the end, we were scattered. The battlefield was littered with caps, torn clothing, broken glass, police helmets. With a horde of several hundred men and women I wandered toward the Aussenalster, a residential section of the well-to-do. The flags had disappeared. The bandsmen, to save their instruments, had long since gone home. A ragged, wild-eyed assembly of scarecrows, we roved up and down the broad, clean residential streets, yelling in unison.
"Hunger! Hunger!"
Lights were switched off, shades rattled down, doors were locked as we approached. A single howl out of a hundred throats plunged whole blocks into darkness. Once in a while a police truck sped around a corner, siren yelling, and cursing men leaped to the pavement amid the screaming of brakes. Instead of bread we got beatings. After all, it was what we had asked for.
Toward midnight we parted, tired, bruised, and hoarse from shouting. I turned up the collar of my coat, for it was bitingly cold. I had lost my cap in the brawling. My overcoat was in a pawnshop. As I passed the railway station, a young woman walked beside me. She was older than I; twenty-eight, perhaps.
"Going home?" I asked.
"Home," she said . . . "that dank hole . . ."
For a while we walked side by side, saying nothing. She buried her hands in her armpits and whistled a song. Then she said:
"Let’s sleep together."
"No."
"Why not? You are a comrade, nicht wahr? [13]"
"Yes," I said absently.
"So come," she urged, and her voice sagged into a plaintive wail as she continued: "I need a man. I’m so goddam alone. I have not slept with a man for ages."
"I like you, but I can’t."
"Listen, I’m good in bed."
"I have a girl to go to," I explained.
She nodded. "I have one, too," she said.
"A girl?"
"Yes, a little girl. I wish, by Christ, she’d been born dead."

Two days after taking part in the hunger demonstration, in the second week of May, 1923, I joined the Communist Party. Early in the morning I went to the Red House in Hamburg.
A short, wiry man with strong eyebrows and a salient jaw received me, and asked a few pointed questions. It developed that he had known my father during the wartime underground work of the Spartacists in the Fleet. Considering me a very fit and reliable recruit, he signed me up at once.
"We have very little time to train and choose our cadres," he said. "We believe in pushing young blood to the fore. We believe in youth, bold, disciplined youth."
"I shan’t disappoint you," I replied.
"Remember, a campaign is not a matter of leaflets and meetings, but of action, action and more action. Action means strikes. Mass strikes are the prelude to armed insurrection. We must bring con­ditions to a revolutionary boiling point, with any and all means at our command. Is that clear to you?"
"Very clear," I answered.
"All right," he went on, "you’ll work in the maritime section. Comrade Walter handles that. You know that Germany is an in­dustrial country dependent on industrial exports and raw material imports. So shipping is a jugular vein of German capitalism. Should we succeed in making harbors and ships into fortresses of the Communist Party—we’ve got that jugular vein in our grip. We can break it and the bourgeoisie will bleed to death. You’ll report to Comrade Walter."
Albert Walter was a thick-set, jovial, highly energetic Bolshevik of international caliber, and the undisputed chieftain of communist activities along the German seaboard. Bronzed, barrel-chested, he had a massive forehead, mobile features, and his small brown eyes seemed always on the alert. He was in his late thirties, and had lived for fifteen years the life of a professional seaman.
After his release he made his way to Moscow where Lenin made him a political commissar in the Baltic fleet. In 1922, the Comintern chiefs, considering Walter their most able man in marine affairs, assigned him to head the International Propaganda and Action Committee of Transport Workers (IPAC-Transport) . The communists being entrenched more solidly in Hamburg than in any other great seaport, Hamburg became the center for Comintern enterprises in the all-important marine industry.
Albert Walter ordered me to join one of the communist "activist" brigades in the harbor of Hamburg. Each month about a thousand ships entered this port, for the bulk of German exports and imports went through the docks of Hamburg. In the river basins along the Elbe flew the flags of every maritime nation on earth.
Each morning the harbor "activists" gathered on various concentration points along the waterfront. There the leader of each brigade assigned his men to certain docks and ships, and supplied them with leaflets and pamphlets, and with the slogans of the day. So armed, we slipped into the harbor and boarded the ships and set out to win over their crews. Most ships were guarded by officers or company watchmen, and a wide range of dodges and tricks had to be employed to board the ships in spite of the guards. Often we swarmed aboard over the hawsers. At times we slunk aboard disguised as hawkers of neckties or as laundrymen. We distributed our leaflets, sold newspapers and pamphlets, launched discussions, and endeavored to enlist the young militants among the crews in the Communist Party.
Our immediate aim was to arouse discontent among the seamen, discontent against rations, wages and ship’s discipline. Wherever a crew was receptive to our agitation, we went on to form an action committee on the ship to prepare for coming strikes, or to build up the Party unit among the men, or to pick particularly able individuals for courier service and other confidential work.
Returning ashore at the end of the day, each "activist" wrote a detailed report on the ships he had visited that day. At headquar­ters these reports were copied and filed. These shipping files contained detailed data on practically every ship in the merchant serv­ice, permitting Albert Walter and his aides to obtain at any time an accurate picture of available forces before deciding on any major action. This system, known as the "Hamburg method," was later adopted by communist waterfront organizations on all continents.
I pitched into Party work with a high fervor. Nothing mattered outside the communist offensive. From early morning, when the stevedores went to work, until the ships’ crews went ashore at nightfall, I went from ship to ship, from wharf to wharf, in fulfillment of Party duty. And in the evenings there were meetings and discussion circles and political courses to attend which rarely broke up before midnight. I had no thought of clothes, amusements or girls. I felt myself a living wheel in the Party machine. I grew leaner, harder, and was supremely happy.
Among the innovations which I introduced was a method of work whereby the most active communists on each ship pledged themselves to engage in propaganda drives among the crews of other German ships in foreign ports of call. At one of the next conferences of the "activist" brigades I gave a detailed report of my experiments which met with acclaim. Up to then I had been classed as an agitator; I was now accepted as an organizer. The proposal of Albert Walter that I was to take charge of all Party work aboard the Hamburg-America Line vessels was accepted. Some fifty ships manned by more than two thousand seamen came into the category. That night I was so elated I could not sleep! All night I made plans—I thought of the fifty ships as my ships. Such responsibility was sweet.
I was on the way to become a professional revolutionist, in accordance with Lenin’s conceptions. I learned well the Party principle that the heart of the Comintern and its affiliated Parties must consist of an inner organization of men and women whose one and only aim in life is to work for the revolution; who are ready for any personal sacrifice the Party should demand, who are pledged to unreserved obedience to their Central Committee and utmost unity of aims.
I was class-conscious because class-consciousness had been a family tradition. I was proud to be a worker and I despised the bourgeois. My attitude to conventional respectability was a derisive one. I had a keen one-sided sense of justice which carried me away into an insane hatred of those I thought responsible for mass suffering and oppression. Policemen were enemies. God was a lie, invented by the rich to make the poor be content with their yoke, and only cowards resorted to prayer. Every employer was a hyena in human form, malevolent, eternally gluttonous, disloyal and pitiless. I believed that a man who fought alone could never win; men must stand together and fight together and make life better for all engaged in useful work. They must struggle with every means at their disposal, shying no lawless deed as long as it would further the cause, giving no quarter until the revolution had triumphed.

Already in June it became clear that decisive revolutionary events were impending. The breathtaking collapse of currency, the rapid disintegration of the anti-communist trade unions, the growing demoralization of the middle class and the spontaneous influx of large numbers of desperate and rebellious young workers into the ranks of the Communist Party were unmistakable signals of the coming tempest. Moscow had given a mandate to Karl Radek, the Comintern’s most clever—and most cynical—propagandist, to direct from Berlin the political campaign for a communist seizure of power. The order of the day called for transformation of sporadic strikes into a general strike, which in turn was to be the prelude to armed insurrection. An emissary of Radek, an ascetic-looking, fair-haired Russian named Kommissarenko, outlined the plans in a meeting of all communist forces in the harbor of Hamburg.
A few of the older communists objected. "But the masses are not ready," they said. "They’ll stand aside and leave us to fight alone."
Kommissarenko’s reply came like the crack of a whip: "Once we strike out, the masses will follow. The masses must make the revolution—but we will lead it!"
The young elements carried the day. We cheered the Russian. We were prepared to go ahead with a blind religious élan.
Came the day when all the action committees of the waterfront met in a secret session. Ernst Thälmann, who was then the chief of the Hamburg organization, spoke: "Let nothing deter us. The actions of a determined minority will rouse the fighting spirit of the masses. Stop ships by force when their crew refuses to strike. Board the ships and kill the steam. The Party is with you with every ounce of its strength. With the seamen in action, the work­ers of other industries will follow—the dockers, the shipyard hands, the railwaymen. Above all, we must teach the masses that there is no substitute for strike and armed rising. in the struggle for power."
I did not sleep that night. Between eleven and three my brigade was busy painting strike slogans in six-foot letters on the sides of ships and quays. In groups of four men we went out in commandeered rowboats, with strips of burlap wrapped around the oars to muffle the sounds of rowing, and slipped from ship to ship, from wharf to wharf, smearing in white and red paint the words: "Strike for the right to live decently. Strike! Strike!" On some ships this slogan reached almost from bow to stern.
In the dark of the night, across the oily harbor water, we could see other boats move stealthily along the sides of sleeping ships. My companions in the boat were Ilja Weiss, a bold, sinewy Hungarian; Hans Wonneberger, a broad-framed sailor; and a boy from the Young Communist League. Weiss led the expedition; Wonneberger and I painted with brushes tied to broom sticks; the young communist bailed the water out of the leaking boat.
While painting in the Hansa Docks, we were surprised by a launch of harbor police. Caught in the beam of a searchlight we rowed madly toward a ladder at the end of the wharf. The young communist swarmed up the ladder with catlike agility. I followed close behind. Just then the police launch came alongside and a young officer leaped into our boat, shouting:
"Ha, rioters. Halt! You are under arrest!"
I scrambled up the wharf. Hans Wonneberger dived into the harbor and swam away in the night.
Ilja Weiss snarled: "Take this!"
He crashed a pail half filled with red lead squarely into the officer’s face. The officer gasped for air, then fell. Weiss lunged up the ladder.
"Red Front triumphs," he yelled.
The men in the police launch started shooting. We ran away in the shadows of a long freight shed and heard the bullets ricochet from the corrugated iron walls.
"Close shave," chuckled Weiss.
"Where’s Comrade Wonneberger?" I panted.
"Never mind him. He swims like a fish."
Two minutes later the twittering siren of a police car sounded ahead. We ran into the shed and crawled into a stack of concrete sewer pipes. When all was quiet, we returned to the city on separate routes.
Ilja Weiss is today the secretary of the International Club in Odessa, wanted by most European police departments. Hans Wonneberger made the mistake of falling in love with a girl who turned out to be a secret agent of the Nazi Party in 1932. He was abducted by the G.P.U. to Novorossisk, and has since disappeared in Soviet Russia.

At seven in the morning all Party forces entered the harbor. The gates and the ferry landings were guarded by police. Communist military units engaged the police to allow the mass of agitators to penetrate the harbor from all sides. We overran the gangway guards and told the seamen to strike or to suffer a strike­breaker’s fate. Other "activist" units were working in a similar fashion among the dockers’ gangs. An officer who confronted the group of Ilja Weiss with a pistol in his hand was thrown into the harbor. Columns of striking seamen and unemployed workers mobilized by the Party boarded the ships to chase recalcitrant crews ashore by main force. Trade union officials who advised moderation were beaten up.
By noon the wide reaches of the harbor resembled a battlefield. Communists reinforced by a few hundred strikers waged a hand to hand battle with seamen who refused to heed the communist order. On three wharves we cut the mooring lines of ships, setting the vessels adrift in the hope that they would collide and block the channel to navigation. Mobile police squads descended to join the affray and to make arrests. Trucks filled with prisoners rumbled toward the jails. Steamers which had been boarded by special sabotage units whose task was to douse the fires in the stokehold roared their sirens for police assistance. By three o’clock forty ships lay paralyzed, but the police slowly succeeded in pressing us out of the harbor. Police barricaded the entrances. At the Elbe tunnel stood a machine gun and a sign: "Stop—he who proceeds will be shot."
Most of the seamen who had followed the communist slogans had lost their berths, and many were in jail. No one thought of criticizing the communist doctrine that no strike, even if the strikers wind up out of a job or in jail, must be regarded as a defeat. Strike is training for civil war; so every strike, no matter how it ends, is a political triumph for the Party.
Even before our wild June action in the harbor of Hamburg had been brought to its conclusion, I was summoned to a secret meeting. The majority of the lesser-known waterfront agitators were present. After we had been pledged to silence, one of Thälmann’s aides issued instructions that all communist sailors in the meeting should inform the Shipowners’ Association of their willingness to man the steamers which had been tied up by the strike.
Murmurs of surprise and indignation ran through the audience. I was deeply shocked by this crafty and dishonest maneuver. That very morning we had led two newly arrived ships’ crews into the strike. Albert Walter’s propaganda squads had distributed the crimson leaflets which told the seamen: "No steam for the engines! No work on deck! STRIKE!"
A rebellious shout came from a comrade behind me:
"We are no strikebreakers!"
The Party officer was unperturbed. He waited patiently until our protests had subsided. Then he spoke.
"Comrades," he explained, "what the Party demands of you is not blacklegging. What the Party demands is your co-operation in a tactical maneuver which is bound to carry Bolshevism more solidly into the merchant marine. The strike will not continue for long. Shall we give the shipowning sharks a chance to retaliate by excluding communists from the crews of their ships? Shall we permit the ships to sail without availing ourselves of an opportunity to make each ship a fortress of the Communist Party? . . . We must take advantage of today to strengthen our positions for the battles of tomorrow. We are not a crowd of deaf-mutes. We are communists. Party discipline demands that you follow the Party command."
It was dirty business, we knew. It was like stabbing a knife into the back of our fellow-workers, the sailors and stokers who had trusted our leadership and followed our strike call.
To us, communists, loyalty to the Party, however, came before loyalty to the proletariat. While the action committees still issued manifestos exhorting the seamen to continue to strike, ships stealthily manned by communists steamed seaward at dawn.

Chapter Four - SMUGGLING FOR THE COMINTERN

ONE EVENING, toward the end of June, Albert Walter re­quested me to meet him at ten in the Cafe Rheingold in St. Pauli, amusement district of Hamburg.
"It has to do with a strictly conspirative matter," he warned me. "I know you can be trusted."
At the Rheingold, over a glass of Niersteiner, Walter introduced me to a man called Hugo, an inconspicuous young man with a sharp nose, steady eyes and somewhat oblique manner. He wanted exact information about the number of reliable communists aboard Hamburg-America Line steamers on the North Atlantic run. I told him that the Party had strong positions on four of these ships; one of them, the Westphalia, was due to leave in a few days. Hugo was pleased. He confided that three comrades whose lives were endangered had to be smuggled to America aboard the Westphalia.
Hugo’s full name, I later learned, was Hugo Marx. He was the resident agent of the G.P.U. in Hamburg. Next morning he took me to the apartment where the three fugitive comrades were hidden. They were mere boys, and two of them were rather drunk. All of them were overjoyed when they heard that a way had been found to ship them to New York.
After Hugo departed, they began to talk. It was with amazement that I learned that they had been the leaders of one of the holdup gangs which the underground section of the Party—the Apparat—had organized to carry out payroll robberies, a practice originated in Tsarist Russia by Joseph Stalin to fill empty Party coffers. At the head of a band of fifteen communists they had held up and robbed the payroll of the municipal gas works of Berlin-Charlottenburg in January, 1923, and a few weeks later they had seized another payroll in a factory at Berlin-Spandau. Their technique was simple. Masked and armed with revolvers, they had invaded the respective offices with the words: "In the name of the revolution—hands up!" Their loot they delivered to the military section of the Party in Berlin. Then one of their gang had broken down, and would not carry on. Threatened with death by his comrades, he turned informer for the Berlin police.
"Why don’t you go to Russia?" I demanded.
The three knew no answer. "Hugo said we must go to America," one of them blurted out.
"Why don’t they go to Russia?" I asked Hugo Marx at our next meeting.
"They are known to the police," the G.P.U. agent replied. "We cannot incriminate the Soviet Government."
There may have been other reasons for sending the fugitives to New York. It is not customary to ask questions regarding internal Party matters. A night later I had three of our militants from the Westphalia come ashore. Each of them received twenty-five dol­lars from Hugo Marx for smuggling the three youngsters aboard their ship, and to supply them with food during the voyage. Hugo sent a courier with a supply of women’s clothing. Disguised as girls and escorted by the seamen, the three fugitives boarded the ship at night and were safely hidden in a space formed by large crates in hold number one. They reached New York harbor undetected, were duly smuggled ashore, and disappeared. Their names were Emil Bergeman, Paul Gorisch, and Paul Eyck.
There is an epilogue to the Odyssey of these youths. Abandoned by the Party, they eventually returned to Germany after long and aimless wanderings. Captured by the police and brought to trial years later, each was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. The Party did not even organize a campaign in their defense.
Less than a week after the hapless brigands had clandestinely left Germany, Hugo Marx requested me to release a number of my best men on Hamburg-America Line ships from all official Party work. I flatly refused. The men he wanted to have at his disposal were the backbone of our organizational network on the North Atlantic. Hugo Marx did not quarrel with me; he quietly went to Party headquarters and complained about my stubbornness. A few hours later a messenger from headquarters summoned me into the presence of Ernst Thälmann, then the Party chief in Hamburg. Thälmann had been a transport worker in his youth. He was a burly, thick-faced man, blunt of manner, and a victim of the habit of pounding table-tops with his sledgehammer fists. Rudely, he asked me if I knew the meaning of the word sabotage.
"Yes," I said timidly, overawed by the nearness of one of the strongest figures in the German Communist Party.
"What you do looks to me like sabotage," he growled. "Why do you refuse to co-operate with Comrade Hugo?"
The outcome of it was that I promised to follow all of Hugo’s directions. I did not know the power wielded by the G.P.U. in Party affairs; I had not yet realized that the G.P.U. was completely in charge of the Apparat—vital subterranean section of the Party machine; and that it safeguarded itself by the crude and effective method of intimidating even its most lowly assistants.
When I stepped out of Thälmann’s office, I found Hugo Marx waiting for me. He gave me a thin smile. We boarded a taxi and rode to the Dammtor Station. At a corner table, we joined a swarthy, middle-aged, elegantly dressed man. He gave his name as Meyer. With gnashing teeth I surrendered to him and Hugo Marx a list of about thirty communist seamen in the North and South American trade. "Meyer" busily made notes. He looked more like a Levantine merchant than a German Bolshevik. During the following weeks, in addition to the usual harbor propaganda, Hugo Marx and "Meyer" contacted me each time a German vessel had returned to Hamburg from New York or Buenos Aires. I was instructed to escort individually the selected communists among their crews to a basement beer hall on the waterfront where they were interviewed by "Meyer." I was not permitted to be present at these interviews. Invariably I received next day a brief note and a ten-dollar bill; the note ordered me to shun in future all contacts with the respective seamen.
For many months the nature of "Meyer’s" schemes remained a deep mystery as far as I was concerned. Most of the sailors who had been transferred to the G.P.U. organization were older Party members than I. They kept their secret well. Only some years later, in 1926, after I had myself advanced into the inner circles of the Apparat, did Hugo Marx solve the mystery for me. The communist seamen whom I had surrendered to "Meyer" were employed in a large scale man-smuggling enterprise created by the Party and the G.P.U. to acquire funds for the purchase of arms and ammunition from Belgium. Prospective emigrants from Germany and the East European countries had been lured to Hamburg by promises of cheap transportation to the United States and the Argentine, with no questions asked. "Meyer" had established several boarding houses in Hamburg where the emigrants were fed and housed for one dollar a day while waiting for a suitable ship. Three officials of the Hamburg-America Line had been bribed by "Meyer" to sign up the emigrants as regular members of the crews of outgoing ships. The communists aboard these ships then assisted the illicit immigrants to desert their ships in New York or Buenos Aires. The fee exacted from each of the voyagers ranged from fifty to a hundred dollars. They made the crossing as potwashers, kitchen helpers, coalheavers or ordinary seamen until an investigation started by an officer aboard the Cap Polonio—one of the largest German passenger liners—threatened a scandal. In November, 1923, this traffic in human contraband was stopped by an order from Moscow. "Meyer," whose real name was John Bornos, attempted to carry on the smuggling business for his private profit. The G.P.U. ordered him to pack up and go to the Soviet Union. Bornos-Meyer refused. He was then denounced to the German police. He and ten of his collaborators were seized and sent to jail.

The Party ordered me to take a sailor’s berth aboard the steamer Fredenhagen, a Baltic tramp trading between Bremen, Hamburg and the ports of Finland. Before this ship left port, I was summoned to Party headquarters. With me were several of my shipmates. Similar calls were sent to groups of communists from other ships.
In a dingy little office on a top floor we found a sleek communist from Berlin, a hard-headed ex-marine engineer and trusted lieutenant of Albert Walter, and the inevitable Hugo Marx. We crowded into the office until we stood packed together like herrings in a barrel. The ex-engineer opened the session with a resounding grunt.
"For a while you boys will become rum-runners," he announced.
I thought at first that he was joking. He explained that much money could be made in smuggling hard drinks to countries where liquor was banned, and that the Party was at financial ebb tide and therefore in need of all the money that could be raked together. One responsible comrade was appointed for each ship. I became the leader of the Fredenhagen unit. Our assignment was to buy large quantities of rum, whisky and cognac free of duty in the free-port zone, and to sell this contraband in the ports of Finland. The selling was to be accomplished through specially created agencies in Helsinki and other ports. Among the ships represented at this conference were, besides the Fredenhagen, the steamers Pleskow, Amisia, Fortuna, Bolheim, several ships in the Swedish ore trade, and others which were in the North Atlantic service. We were in high spirits; the adventurous flavor of our assignment made us forget that we were actually strikebreakers. The ex-engineer unwrapped a shoe box filled with million-mark bills, and Hugo Marx carefully noted down the amounts allotted to each ship.
I chose to believe that the money we raised by serving the Party as alcohol smugglers would be used for the purchase of arms and ammunition. Already it was an open secret in our midst that Soviet officers had been sent from Moscow to act as technical advisers, and that military preparations for the expected armed rising were well under way.
Through a shipchandler’s runner who was a Party member I bought eight hundred bottles of assorted liquors. To do this a customs certificate was necessary. I obtained a certificate for eight bottles of cognac. At Party headquarters this certificate was forged by Hugo Marx who added two zeros to the eight. The contraband was brought aboard at night. For hours we were busy burying the eight hundred bottles in the bunkers under tons of coal.
Four days later our ship entered the harbor of Helsinki. From there the Fredenhagen proceeded to Viborg and Kotka, other ports on the south coast of Finland. In each of these ports, as soon as the steamer had come to a rest, a dozen Finnish customs officials came aboard to search the ship. The customs law, however, permitted each member of the crew to have one bottle of hard drink for personal use in his cabin. So, as the Finnish customs men crawled through every corner of the ship—but never taking the trouble to dig up the coal in the bunkers—they were offered a gratuitous drink in each cabin they entered. They were not averse to drink. By the time they had finished ransacking the ship for contraband, most of them were well loaded with spirits. When they departed, they left behind a routine guard or two.
Invariably, during the night the two customs guards were lured to a carousal below decks by communist seamen appointed to this duty. Then I went ashore to the address given me by the sleek communist from Berlin. I found a small office in a conservative building in Helsinki near the Park where military bands give concerts during the summer months. The sign on the door read: "Koskinen & Niminen." This firm was in reality a Finnish Comintern organization camouflaged as a restaurant supply firm. Iron­ically the words "Export—Import" had been added to the sign.
A husky young woman sat in the office. She spoke Swedish.
I gave her the watchword: "The pneumonia medicines are here."
"That’s good," she said. "What ship? How many?"
"Ship Fredenhagen; eight hundred bottles," I answered.
She telephoned. After a while she informed me, "Return to your ship, comrade. Friend Koskinen is mobilizing the customers. They’ll be streaming in on you all night."
I went back aboard. Two hours later our "customers" arrived, whole swarms of them at a time. Men and women, thirsty steve­dores and well-to-do citizens, waiters, bell-boys, chambermaids, prostitutes and others of more opulent aspect. They paid from sixty to a hundred Finmarks for each bottle. A Finmark had gold value. Having bought the liquor with German paper money, our profits exceeded 3,000 per cent. Each bottle brought more than thirty times its original price. While the customs men amused themselves below with drink and enterprising waterfront wenches, the Party unit did a thriving business. By daybreak approximately six hundred bottles had been sold. The proceeds, I calculated, were the equivalent of three machine guns at Belgian wholesale prices. The rest of our stock we sold in Viborg and Kotka, where branch offices of "Koskinen & Niminen" had been established.
This smuggling business in behalf of the Party was not always transacted without friction. Non-communist members of the Fredenhagen’s crew had formed their own private smuggling-rings. Even the captain, the mates, the engineers—all dealt in contraband because the wages they earned would not even pay the rent for their homes after the voyage was completed.
The rival syndicates aboard were in fierce competition with one another. They began by going into the bunkers at night and dumping all the coal they could shovel atop of our stores so that we were unable to reach them when the customers came. We answered by digging up the bottles of our competitors, emptying them of their contents and filling them with water or tea. More than one sturdy Finlander came raging aboard, as often as not with a dagger in his hands, after he had discovered that what he had bought as rum turned out to be cold tea. In the end, the communist group prevailed. Out at sea, at night, we destroyed or heaved overboard the remaining contraband of our rivals, and put guards armed with crowbars over our own.
We left Finnish waters without serious mishap, homeward bound. An emissary of the Party awaited me on the locks as the Fredenhagen passed into the Kiel Canal. I handed our smuggling profits to the Party courier.
My ship went to Bremen. Before she left on her next voyage, I had aboard, again through Party funds, almost two thousand bottles of three-star cognac for "Koskinen & Niminen." Each round trip to Finland lasted three weeks. Each trip the volume of our contraband increased. On the third trip not only the bunkers, but also the lifeboats, the bilges, the fore peak and even the spare water tanks were crammed with bottles, all carefully wrapped in burlap. The success of our previous enterprises had made our chiefs cast prudence to the winds.
The Central Committee of the small illegal Communist Party of Finland under Nino Virtanen mobilized the larger part of its organization in Helsinki to take this record consignment off the Fredenhagen. About a hundred men and women boarded the steamer, and left it with bottles packed into sacks or strapped around their waists. Three such expeditions were made in the course of a single night. In the early hours of the morning, the leader of the Finn transport column asked me:
"How many bottles have you got left?"
"Plenty," I said. "Better have them off the ship by daybreak."
I realized that the "unloading" had been so conspicuous that it would endanger us to keep the rest of our contraband aboard for another day. The harbor seemed suddenly well-manned with customs men.
The Finn growled in disgust: "Whoever heard of financing a revolution by selling booze!"
I explained that the German Communist Party, by using dozens of ships, had made a good fortune out of such smuggling enterprises. It meant rifles and hand-grenades for quite a number of proletarian companies. And doubtless, I hinted, the Communist Party of Finland was making a fair profit as well.
The Finn agreed. He sent a boy to reconnoiter the location of customs patrols on nearby docks, then armed five local communists with five bottles each, and told them to run athwart of the customs officials to detract their attention from what was going on aboard the Fredenhagen.
The five did their job well. We heard them run, the customs men in pursuit. There came the sound of bottles being splintered on the cobbles. Meanwhile, the Helsinki comrades emerged from freight sheds and with the aid of every communist in the Fredenhagen’s crew managed to get the remaining bottles ashore. I went to the office of "Koskinen & Niminen" to wait for the money which belonged to the German Party.
I waited fully nine hours. The Fredenhagen steamed for Viborg—without me. In the afternoon a Finn came barging into the office, spitting and cursing.
"Where’s my money?" I demanded.
"Money, hell!" he ranted. "Do you know what your precious master Bolsheviks are responsible for? I’ll tell you! The whole Communist Party of Helsinki is stone-drunk."
This was not what I had expected. I told the Finnish comrade that the cognac had been the property of the Communist Party of Germany, and, therefore, the property of the Comintern. Moscow would not like it.
Most Finns are of a type that is hard to rouse, but when their tempers burst into open flame things are apt to burst asunder. I feared this Finn would go berserk. "Satana," he said with a ferocious twist of his lips. "I have no money. Get out of here." This was followed by a cataract of Finnish of which I did not under­stand a word. And then: "I regret you’re so husky. I’d lynch you—you merchant!"
I fled. From opposite doorways I watched the entrance of the house in which the office of "Koskinen & Niminen" was located. At nightfall Koskinen himself entered the building. I ran across the street and stopped him on the stairway. He was a portly, mild-mannered man whose whole body winced when I grasped his shoulder from behind.
He said nervously, "Why do you bother me?"
"At least give me enough money to take a train to Viborg," I demanded.
He handed me a hundred Finmark note. "We are dissolving our firm," he said. "There have been some arrests. You must notify our friends in Hamburg. They must never, never forget that Finland is a fascist country."
I raced to the station, cursing my own carelessness and the monumental thirst of the Finns. I boarded the east-bound train and arrived in Viborg in time to catch my steamer, the Fredenhagen. After four days I was discharged in Bremen. No reasons for my discharge were given. I hastened to Hamburg to report to Walter and Hugo Marx. They had already a complete report of what had occurred at Helsinki. News of the fiasco had left them unperturbed.

In September the Party began to organize its able-bodied mem­bers into military companies of one hundred men each—Hundertschaften [14] There were eleven such companies in Hamburg, and several hundred of them in all the Reich. Each formation consisted of five detachments of twenty men. Each Sunday the hundreds marched out for military training in lonely stretches of forest or heath. Young Soviet Russian officers, most of whom spoke German, directed the training. Five or six such officers operated in the Hamburg area. They had come to Germany in the guise of sailors aboard Soviet vessels, and "activists" from Albert Walter’s corps had smuggled them ashore at night. Under assumed names, using false German passports, they had their quarters in the homes of Party members. Their chief in Hamburg was a short, gruff, square-headed Russian who called himself Otto Marquardt, nominally an official of the Soviet Trade Mission in Hamburg.
I was detailed to the seventh proletarian company of the Hamburg area. This formation, chiefly composed of seamen, proudly called itself the "Red Marines," and Thälmann considered it one of the best shock-brigades along the North Sea Coast. In the intervals between week-end maneuvers in the heath south-west of Hamburg, I was singled out for service in the courier corps of the Hamburg organization. At first I thought this service rather dull, because it was simply a matter of relaying messages between the known leaders and their Russian military advisers, men like Otto Marquardt, who took good care not to be seen in the company of German communists well known to the police. But the weekly trips to Kiel, Lübeck, Cuxhaven and Bremen, and two journeys to Berlin, gave me an insight into the doings of an underground élite whose existence I had barely suspected.
Outstanding in this political underworld was the figure of Johnny Dettmer, whose reckless daring could well measure up with that of the pirate heroes of my boyhood. Dettmer was a blond, blue-eyed giant of twenty-four, quick-tempered, clever, and with the strength and agility of a panther. He was one of those honest political desperadoes who are invaluable fighters in riot and upheaval, but who invariably come to grief once orderly conditions have been established. It was Ernst Wollweber, one of the Comintern chieftains, who remarked to me in later years of Comrade Dettmer, "We need men like Johnny to win the fracas, but after the revolution we’ve got to shoot them."
In the early fall of 1923, Johnny Dettmer was a gun-runner for the Red Hundreds of northern Germany. Otto Marquardt and an unnamed superior of Hugo Marx sent him to Kolberg, a small town on the Baltic between Stettin and Danzig. There, in a tavern, he met a youthful Soviet officer and a German communist named Lukowitz. I came to know Lukowitz well. He was a grizzled, slow-moving man, a former tugboat captain who later became one of the Party chiefs in the Lübeck district. Scattered in third-rate hotels in Kolberg were about a dozen other communists of Dettmer’s caliber. All of them had had seafaring experience. Lukowitz sometimes took them out to sea in three motor launches which had been purchased by the Comintern—seemingly to no purpose at all. The three launches—Liese, Anita, and Sturmvogel—were staunch old boats, built of oak, thirty-six to forty feet in length, fitted with old gasoline motors and capable of making seven knots in friendly weather. (I saw the boats in 1930. Reconditioned, they were then used by the Comintern bureau in Danzig for the smuggling of communist literature to Poland, where the Party was illegal, by way of the lower Vistula and the port of Gdynia.)
Johnny Dettmer and his comrades loafed in Kolberg for a week, justifying their presence by appearing to be interested in the pur­chase of a boat. Then a courier from Berlin brought a message for the Soviet agent in Kolberg. The Russian summoned Lukowitz. Lukowitz rounded up his waiting crew and between them they manned the three launches, knowing that at last something was afoot.
They left the Kolberg fish pier at daybreak, keeping a steady north-north-west course. Dettmer was aboard the Anita, Lukowitz on the Sturmvogel. Offshore they spread out so as not to attract the attention of passing craft.
It is fifty-five miles from Kolberg to the southern tip of Bornholm. With the high shores of the island in sight, they cut their motors, brought sea-anchors out and drifted, a lookout man on duty on each boat.
They waited until eleven at night, watching the lights of passing westbound steamers. At eleven a steamer which had crawled up slowly from the east flashed a signal after it had reached a spot five miles south of the southern extreme of the island. The signal was the letter L—dot-dash-dot-dot, repeated at intervals until Lukowitz answered with similar flashes. Then the steamer turned south and the launches followed until they were out of sight of Bornholm.
The steamer was a small trampship. It showed no flag, but all knew that it was a Soviet vessel. As the launches approached, sailors lowered a grating covered with canvas to screen the steamer’s name. The launches made fast alongside, and Lukowitz spoke a few words with a man who leaned over the steamer’s rail. Heavy bundles tied up in pieces of tarpaulin were lowered into the launches. Each bundle contained ten obsolete rifles which had once belonged to the Tsarist army. Then came small barrels full of cartridges buried in flour. Three hundred rifles were transshipped in less than an hour, and after a curt salute the launches drew away from the steamer’s side. The launches waited until the Soviet ship had disappeared in the night, heading toward the Kiel Canal and a legitimate port of call.
Lukowitz instructed his crews: "Should the coast patrol stop us—over the side with the stuff."
All next day they drifted, pretending to fish. In the following night the launches ran shoreward. They landed their contraband at a point between Kolberg and a fishing village called Deep. There was a cluster of huts and a shallow channel running a little distance inshore. A truck was waiting beside a heap of rotting fish. They loaded the arms and ammunition into the truck, and covered the whole with rotting fish. The truck, manned by two taciturn youngsters, departed as soon as it had been loaded, heading toward the highway of Stettin.
Johnny told me this story in Low German, his native tongue, which he was in the habit of using. Low German has a tough and earthy flavor, and nuances of rollicking disrespect impossible to translate. As it is, Johnny is beyond bearing me a grudge for doing insufficient honor to his beloved waterside dialect, for, in 1934, his head came off under the Nazi ax.

Chapter Five - "DID YOU EVER KILL A MAN?"

I ENTERED UPON MY DUTIES as a courier for the underground organization of the Party at the end of September. My first trip was from Hamburg to Berlin. I was instructed to deliver
a sealed letter to an address at 104 Möckernstrasse. There, in a cozy apartment, I was received by a voluptuous-looking olive-skinned young woman. I recognized that she was Russian from the way she spoke German. Her name, I learned subsequently, was Maria Schipora. But the message which I carried from Otto Marquardt was not for her. It was for Hugo Eberlein, a member of the Central Committee of the Party, who was then in charge of communist contacts in the German army and navy.
Maria Schipora served me benedictine while I waited for Eberlein. She kept on urging me to drink. After three or four drinks, I began to fear that this Russian woman might be a spy for the police. I rose and said brusquely: "I do not like this. Who are you? What’s your business?"
She leaned forward over the table and laughed.
"You came to meet Comrade Eberlein?" she asked.
"Yes."
"Who sent you?"
I refused to answer.
"I know Marquardt well," she said. "We’ve worked together for years."
I realized then that Maria Schipora was on the payroll of the G.P.U. We quickly became friends. I harbored admiration for communists engaged in international work. She spoke simply. And she was swift and avid. Her lips were full and red. She grasped my hair and kissed me.
"Comrade Eberlein always comes late," she said.
Eberlein did not come that day. Instead a tall, gloomy ascetic-looking man, in his early thirties, arrived, and I handed the Hamburg letter to him. The stranger immediately began plying me with questions about the excellent intelligence service which the North German Lloyd, the Hamburg-America Line and other slipping companies had established in the fringes of communist waterfront organizations. I gave him what little information I had. When the woman, who listened attentively, mentioned the caller’s mime, Felix Neumann, I was electrified. When the functionaries of the Red Hundreds spoke of Neumann, it was in whispers. He sas the head of a new organization of T-units, terror groups, the skeleton staff of a future German Tcheka. He told me to stay in Berlin until the next day because he wanted me to take to Otto Marquardt some material which would not be ready before morning. He then asked me about my Party work. I told him that I preferred assignments which called for more action than shuttling between towns as a courier.
"Did you ever kill a man?" Neumann asked abruptly.
"No," I said.
"Well, then, how would you do it?"
"I’d shoot him."
Neumann grinned gloomily. "Wrong," he said. "If you shoot at a man and only wound him, what then? He’ll go to the hospital and tell the police all about it, is that right?"
Maria Schipora interjected: "Usually a man is shot at night. At night it’s dark. In the dark one can’t see."
"Besides, shooting makes noise," added Neumann.
"How would you do it?" I asked.
’Always make sure that he’s dead," Neumann explained with characteristic cold-bloodedness. "The safest way is to make him unconscious by blows on the head, then to cut his veins with a razor. If you do that, you’re sure he’ll be dead."
I did not know what to make of it. Was he in earnest? Did he want to test my nerves? Was he joking? At that time I did not know the answer. It came to me in fragments, piece by piece, wiping away the doubts. Felix Neumann had spoken in dead earnest.

I spent the night at the Möckernstrasse apartment. Maria Schipora made a simple supper and, while we ate, we talked about the political mood of the workers and about the strategy of street-fighting. Maria told of an interview she had had with a Kremlin agent, a Tartar by origin, who called himself August Kleine, but whom Brandler, the German Party chief, had nicknamed "the man from Turkestan." Felix Neumann told of an arms buyer for the Party named Grenz who had skipped with $5,000 he had received from the Soviet embassy. They then talked of the tasks of the T-units to keep the Party clean from spies, and of murder.
Late at night five other people arrived, two girls and three men, among whom was a powerful six-footer with slightly Jewish features, Edgar André. I took an instinctive liking to him from the beginning. We became staunch friends, and the friendship lasted until he, too, died at the hands of Hitler’s headsmen. The two girls were Eva and Lu, both members of the T-units. Eva—small, dark, catlike, was Neumann’s mistress. Lu, whose name was Luise Schneller, was angular and hardboiled; she related that Ruth Fischer, a Party leader, had approached her with the request that a T-unit should give her colleague and rival, the "fat Brandler," a terrific beating. Ruth Fischer had even supplied Lu with the addresses of Brandler’s secret meeting places. For me this was the first intimation of the existence of fierce jealousy and rivalry among leaders whose word was law for the rank and file.
Long after midnight the talk shifted to the strategy of the coming insurrection, which was to begin with a rising in the provinces and end with a march on Berlin. Partisan corps were being organized all around the capital, a task which lay in the hands of Edgar André and his aides. The two of his aides who were present, Gromulat and Bozenhard, looked capable enough; their idea was to emulate on a large scale the exploits of Max Hölz, the communist Robin Hood of 1921, who since then had been condemned to prison for life. The hours slipped by, and the men and the girls talked and talked as only communists of that wild and irresponsible period could talk when they were among themselves. They were as preoccupied with their own importance and their revolutionary tasks as children are with new and engrossing toys. I listened as if under a spell. After all, compared with the tight-lipped conspirators of a later decade, we were like children partaking of a heady wine.
Finally, halfway between midnight and dawn, Felix Neumann rose and said dramatically: "Children, I want to sleep."
The apartment of Maria Schipora seemed to be a camping place for a great number of functionaries passing through Berlin on illegal missions. Each of those present drew blankets from a stack in a closet. Felix Neumann and Eva had a room of their own. So had Maria. The rest slept on couches and on the rug.
Quite openly Maria said to me: "We two sleep together."
I was a bit embarrassed by Edgar André’s quizzical glance and by his remark, "Maria, can’t you get enough Reichswehr officers to keep you content?"
"Bah," Maria snapped, adding in a soft voice: "Comrade Edgar, there is nothing better than good, clean youth."
Turning to me, she said half-angrily, "Don’t mind these old troopers. Don’t you think there is a reason for my letting you stay here?"

Felix Neumann woke me at eight. He had already been outside to telephone. André and his assistants had departed, and Eva and Lu were making ready to leave.
In the morning light Neumann’s hollow face was gray. "Snatch your coffee in a restaurant," he said crisply. "A friend wants to see you."
We rode in a taxi to a little hotel in Neukölln. In a dingy front room of the hotel a man clad in pajamas rose from the bed when we entered. Scattered on the bed and the floor were the morning newspapers.
"This is the comrade from Hamburg," Neumann said.
Dark, strong eyes sized me up. The man in pajamas was about thirty-three years old; his body was strong and lithe, his fair hair tousled, and his sharply-cut face had an expression of unsmiling, wide-awake determination. He looked like a Russian or a Lett. He asked me how our units in Hamburg were armed, how the train­ing progressed, and if the rank and file had confidence in their leadership. He made short-hand notes of the things I told him, and observed that he thought it necessary at times to inform himself of the opinions of the comrades at the bottom. He then instructed me to take two parcels to Hamburg, one for Otto Marquardt, the other for a young lady named Anja Daul. Both packages would be handed to me at the station before I boarded the Hamburg express.
"Do you need money?" he asked me suddenly.
"No," I answered, though I was nearly penniless.
"We might need you," the man said quietly.
Neumann and I were bidden to wait in the room until the other had dressed and departed. When he had gone, I asked Neumann why we had not been allowed to leave first.
"A precaution," Neumann replied. "This is an important comrade. He never sleeps twice in the same place."
"Who is he?"
"General Wolf. Did you ever hear of the Kronstadt rising against the Bolsheviki? Well, General Wolf is the man who crushed it."
Maria Schipora saw me off at the station. She brought the two packages. They were rather bulky bundles, but light for their size. "Now what’s that?" I gasped.
"Soiled towels," she laughed, her liquid eyes twinkling. "Have them washed and send them back."
Each bundle of towels contained a sealed parcel of cigar-box size. I do not know what the boxes contained. One I delivered to Otto Marquardt, the other to Anja Daul who lived with her sister in a two-room place on a short street called Venusberg. Both Daul girls were smartly dressed, young, blonde, uncommunicative, and both wore short bobs. Also, both were Russian, and members of the Hamburg T-units. Both were caught and sent to prison in 1925.
The situation in Hamburg was tense. Two police officers had been murdered, and Ernst Thälmann had sought cover by going underground. Each day the Party organized the plundering of food stores and raids on transports carrying food. These plunder­ings were mass affairs, provoked to test the militancy of the mass of unorganized workers.
After a few days of minor activities with the Red Marines, I was again sent to Berlin to deliver a slender envelope to the man I had come to know as General Wolf. The letter was glued to the skin of my back by Marquardt’s elephantine secretary, a good-natured but efficient girl known as Fat Grete. She was working in the office of the Soviet Trade Mission, and was destined to become one of the most trusted female veterans in the movement.
Maria Schipora, lissome, bright-eyed and elegantly dressed, met me at the station in Berlin. In a cab we rode to the Melanchthon Strasse, got out and walked to a restaurant where Maria told me to wait. After a short while, she returned with a sedate young man who introduced himself as Karl. Karl escorted me to another restaurant several blocks away, and in the lavatory he loosened the letter from the skin of my back. At a table near the door General Wolf and a soft, pale-faced man were having coffee. I sat down at the table and slipped the letter to General Wolf. He pocketed it without reading.
"Neumann will see you soon in Hamburg," General Wolf said.
Immediately he and the pale-faced man left. As before, I was told to wait. For a full half-hour Karl and I sat at the table, staring at each other without a word. The mysterious comings and goings of General Wolf and his friends intrigued me considerably. His pale-faced companion I later recognized as Fritz Heckert who, in 1923, directed the Comintern courier system between Berlin and Moscow; a communist of international importance and a Reichstag member for many years, he perished in Moscow, during the great purge.
Maria Schipora was waiting for me in the street. She had, it seemed, much money to spend. For some time we rode about Berlin in a cab, then had dinner in Cafe Bauer, and after dark she invited me to her apartment. Again she treated me to benedictine, and was violently amorous, whispering now and then how sweet and easy life could be if one only had money. At first I was puzzled by her behavior, and then I began to develop a strong distrust of her. "What’s her game?" I asked myself.
"You act like a bourgeois," I told her. She laughed lazily. "Wouldn’t you? It’s nice to make money." She went on: "All this political nonsense makes me sick! It’s hopeless, anyway. Should someone come to you and say: ’Here are a thousand goldmarks if you do me a little favor,’—would you do it?"
"Do what?"
"Oh, sell interesting items to some people."
"Which people?"
She drew up her knees and clasped her arms around them. "Hugo Stinnes, for example," she drawled. "Or General von Seeckt. Why not?"
For a moment I was stupefied. I pushed her away and made a grab for my hat and coat. Hugo Stinnes, the industrialist, owned half of Germany’s mines, ships, factories. Von Seeckt was the creator and commander of the Reichswehr, the real power behind the government of the Republic. Maria Schipora had turned her back. She was observing me in a mirror. She gave a giddy little laugh.
"Please stay," she said. "I was joking."
I took the first train to Hamburg, and was naive enough to rush to Party headquarters to contact Hugo Marx. The ground burned under my feet. Something had to be done with Maria Schipora. I found Hugo Marx, and reported my discovery of a traitor in the party Apparat.
Hugo Marx grinned. "That’s all right," he said.
Nothing happened. Maria Schipora was no spy. She had tested me, in her own way, under orders from Felix Neumann.
During the following days Felix Neumann was in Hamburg. I met him in the home of Erika Zcympanski which had become for me a refuge for rare free hours. She had given me a duplicate key to her apartment. I was free to use her books and to eat anything I found in her larder. As soon as I came, Neumann motioned her to leave. When we were alone, he showed me a mimeographed circular letter. The headline read: "Kill spies and provocateurs."
"Do you agree with that?" he demanded.
Without hesitation I said, "Of course."
"We are going to use you for special work," he said. He drew a sheet of notepaper from his pocket and put it on the table. Then he handed me a pencil. "Sign this."
Typewritten on the paper was the following text:

"I herewith admit my participation in the robbery on the bookmaking establishment in Bremen, Bahnhofstrasse."

Neumann noted my surprise.
"A formality," he said.
"But I don’t even know of such a robbery," I protested.
"Just the same, anyone who’s active in the T-units must sign such a declaration. As I said—a formality. We must be sure of our men. Sign." He fairly rapped it out.
I thought Felix Neumann was mad. I saw no sense in this trans­action. I refused to sign it.
"Very well," he said with an air of finality. "We’re through with you. We’ve been mistaken." His eyes grew dull in his cadaverous face.
I hastened to Albert Walter’s office. He had acquired a four-story building in the Rothesoodstrasse, near the waterfront, which now served as headquarters for his harbor brigades. The place buzzed with activity. Men from the docks and the ships were shouldering in and out. I told him of Neumann’s proposition and proposed at the same time that he, Walter, should find a way to relieve me of further courier duties and put me back to work on the waterfront where I felt I belonged.
Albert Walter gave his volcanic temperament free reign.
"That Neumann is a bloody jackass," he raged. "Tell him to go to the devil. Never mind, I’ll tell him." He went on wishing the plague on "all the little Tchekists in Berlin." When he calmed down, he wrote a curt note to Otto Marquardt. "Tell that infernal Neumann to leave my men alone," the note said. Turning to me, Albert Walter concluded, "Take this to Marquardt. He is a sensible man."

Felix Neumann was quick to denounce Albert Walter for his peremptory refusal to release me for duties in the T-units of Gen­eral Wolf. But Walter knew well how solid a reputation he enjoyed in the Kremlin. He wrote to Moscow, referring to Felix Neumann as a "lunatic." And Moscow backed Walter because the burly old sailor was the most capable man it had to lead its cam­paigns in the harbors and on the ships. I did not know at the time how lucky I was to return to the Red Marines instead of blunder­ing into the fold of Maria Schipora, Felix Neumann and their clique. For the gloomy Neumann, whose thought and talk re­volved around murder, was suddenly arrested. To save his own skin, he betrayed the whole officer corps of the T-units—the Ger­man Tcheka—into the hands of the Reich police. Some months later General Wolf himself was captured and charged with murder.
General Wolf had been sent to Germany by the Soviet Govern­ment to handle the military end of the planned insurrection. He arrived in Berlin bearing a false Norwegian passport. Soon after­wards a wide network of Red Hundreds and T-units came into existence. He maintained three private apartments in Berlin, one in Dresden, one in Hamburg and another one in the Soviet Em­bassy in Berlin. In Hamburg, he was known as Herrman, in Berlin as Helmuth or General Wolf, in Dresden as Goresoski, in the Soviet army as Gorey, and upon his arrest he gave his name as Peter Alexander Skoblevski, under which he made history, too.
Felix Neumann went to work for Skoblevski as liaison agent be­tween the military high command of the Party and the Soviet legation in Berlin. On one occasion he drew $35,000 in American currency on order from Skoblevski; on another occasion, $50,000 for the account of "the man from Turkestan." These sums were spent on arms and propaganda.
Felix Neumann was, nevertheless, promoted to the leadership of the T-units. Skoblevski gave Neumann $5,000 to recruit new mem­bers for this Apparat, and to put the terrorists to work. The revo­lutionary committee demanded the assassination of General von Seeckt, head of the Reichswehr, on the eve of the insurrection. This, they hoped, would disorganize the army and lash the revolu­tionary hopes to a frenzy. None other than Zinoviev himself, the President of the Comintern, wrote in a manifesto, "General von Seeckt is the German Kolchak, the greatest danger for the work­ers," while he described Adolf Hitler, who was then preparing his Munich Putsch, as "a ridiculous petit bourgeois."
Felix Neumann at once put the War Ministry under surveillance to gather information about the movements and habits of von Seeckt. He also telephoned the general’s aide-de-camp, presenting himself as a seller of French military secrets, and asked for a private interview. Neumann’s plan was to have General von Seeckt murdered in his own office. But the head of the Reichswehr re­fused to fall into this trap.
Meanwhile Skoblevski’s agents had discovered that the general went riding horseback in the Berlin Tiergarten each morning. Felix Neumann bought a quantity of an edition of the Berline Illustrierte, which contained von Seeckt’s picture. He had the pic­tures cut out and distributed to the members of the Berlin T-units. For three days in succession the Reichswehr chief was followed during his morning rides by G.P.U. agents on horseback, while other terrorists lurked behind trees along the route. Von Seeckt, however, was accompanied on his rides by a group of Reichswehr officers, all of them armed to the teeth. Finally a seventeen-year-old girl, Anny Gerber, the mistress of one of the Tchekists, was assigned by Felix Neumann to cultivate a love affair with one of General von Seeckt’s orderlies or stablemen. The plan was to hide a Tchekist on the grounds of the general’s official villa, and to shoot him off his horse before his fellow officers could join him. The girl was frightened, and Felix Neumann threatened to have her killed if she did not follow orders. Anny succeeded in finding a lover among the general’s men, but, it seems, she fell in love with him herself. General von Seeckt was warned, and stopped riding. And Skoblevski decreed the assassination of Anny Gerber.
A stormy session between Neumann and Skoblevski followed. Felix Neumann feared that he might be discharged for incompe­tence. To be discharged meant to be killed. He later admitted be­fore a high court of the German Republic that he had feared for his own life. The G.P.U. never allows those who know too many secrets to retire. The session ended with a command by Skoblevski: "Von Seeckt must die within three days!"
So a last attempt was made in December, 1923. General von Seeckt had gone to Weimar, but when he returned to Berlin, G.P.U. men were waiting for him in the main hall of the Anhalter Bahnhof, among them Felix Neumann himself. All were armed with new Ortgies pistols.
Von Seeckt sensed trouble. He waited in his train until the arrival of the guards he had summoned. Surrounded by officials and station detectives, he swept through the station to the waiting automobile of the War Ministry. After the decisive defeat of the German Communist Party in the following weeks, Karl Radek, through Brandler, ordered that the plans to kill von Seeckt be dropped.
Other prominent personalities whose death warrant Skoblevski had issued were Hugo Stinnes, Germany’s richest man, and Privy Councillor Borsig, the head of the German steel trust. Felix Neumann was put in charge of both undertakings. Tchekists shadowed Stinnes and invaded his residence at the Hotel Esplanade in Berlin. Felix Neumann’s men also closed in on Borsig’s villa in Tegel, a fashionable suburb. A strike of the steel workers was in progress; the Party chiefs hoped that Borsig’s death would raise the strike to a more violent, revolutionary pitch. This time no shooting was to be done. Skoblevski suggested poisoning. From a mysterious source he obtained glass tubes containing typhus and cholera germs. These he entrusted to Felix Neumann. They were to be used in individual murders, and also against army and police officers in case of the outbreak of civil war. Neumann selected a special group from among his agents to procure rabbits and conduct experiments with the germs. Attempts to kill Stinnes and Borsig failed. The steel strike ended in defeat. But the glass tubes were found by the police, and became major exhibits in the Tcheka trial in Leipzig.
Weeks of maneuvering to take the lives of leading figures did not detract the T-Apparat from its chief task,—counter-espionage and the silencing of police spies in the communist organizations. The death-list included a certain Wetzel, head of the communist unit in the textile workers’ union; Police Commissioner Schlotter, in charge of the anti-communist drive in southern Germany, and others. But what proved to be the undoing of Skoblevski and his secret division was the assassination of one Rausch in Berlin. Rausch was a member of the Party and also an undercover agent of the Berlin political police, and in touch with the Hitler move­ment.
Suspicion first fell on Rausch through the alertness of Hugo Marx in Hamburg. About the middle of October, a motor lorry loaded with rifles and hand-grenades, on its way from Stettin to communist Hundreds of the Weser country in the west, was held up by fascist detachments on the highway between Lübeck and Hamburg. Two of Skoblevski’s German assistants, in charge of the arms consignment, put up a resistance and were killed. The fas­cists, reputedly former members of the Iron Division and the Free Corps of Captain Ehrhardt, made off with the heavily loaded lorry to haunts on Junker estates in Mecklenburg or Pomerania. Only a spy in Skoblevski’s own Apparat could have betrayed this trans­port of guns and grenades to the nationalist Feme organizations.
Hugo Marx, assigned to investigate, reported that Rausch might be the informer. "The more a man engaged in conspirative work talks of violence and bloodshed," Marx observed, "the more likely is he to be in the pay of the police." Hugo Marx’s suspicions were soon verified. The police raided two communist basement arsenals in Berlin. A bomb factory, also in a Berlin cellar, was likewise raided. Members of the T-units, who returned to Berlin after they had bombed a few government buildings in Hanover, were ar­rested at the station. These arrests and raids were traced to Rausch by one of Skoblevski’s female counter-spies, and Felix Neumann received instructions to put Rausch out of the way.
Three attempts were made, one with the help of a girl from Maria Schipora’s group, the second in the lavatory of a brothel where Neumann had posted Tchekists armed with razors, and the third in Rausch’s own home. Felix Neumann himself, with the snarl, "Take this, you bastard!" emptied his pistol into Rausch’s groin.
Felix Neumann was too excited to follow the advice he had given me a few weeks earlier. He did not use a razor to slash his victim’s throat. Still alive, Rausch was rushed to the St. Lazarus hospital in Berlin.
The court records in Leipzig have it that Skoblevski, hearing that Rausch was not dead, had blurted out: "That’s not the way. The man must die!"
Rausch died. Felix Neumann fell into the hands of the police. At once the G.P.U. got busy trying to bribe a prison physician to order Neumann’s transfer to an insane asylum, but to no avail. Felix Neumann was broken by the political police. Skoblevski and fourteen other Tchekists were arrested and charged with treason and murder.
Most of the captured terrorists gave way under a year of police pressure. But Skoblevski himself admitted nothing. He maintained stubbornly that he was a Russian student stranded in Germany, that his arrest was a mistake, that he had never set eyes on any of the other men in custody. The trial before the Supreme Court of Leipzig lasted nine weeks. Felix Neumann, Skoblevski and a third G.P.U. man were condemned to death. The others received long terms in prison. Between two court hearings an attempt was made in prison to assassinate Felix Neumann, the traitor. He was struck on the head, but escaped.
Before the Leipzig trial began, a silent drive was inaugurated by Felix Dzerjinsky, founder of the Tcheka and supreme chief of the G.P.U in Soviet Russia, to liberate General Skoblevski. As his tool Dzerjinsky chose the twenty-one-year-old but unscrupulous Heinz Neumann, who was the son of a wealthy Berlin grain dealer. Heinz Neumann, later a member of the Reichstag and one of the most talented agents of the Comintern, acted in 1923 as liaison man between the G.P.U. and the Comintern headquarters in Mos­cow and the German Communist Party. It is the same Heinz Neumann who was to emerge in later years as a close friend of Stalin and to gain the reputation of the "Butcher of Canton" in the Chinese civil war.
Three young Germans who had come to Moscow in 1923 under the auspices of Berlin Party headquarters were invited to drinking bouts by Heinz Neumann. One of the three, Dr. Carl Kinderman, betrayed homosexual tendencies. This, and a few critical remarks about the conditions in the Soviet Union, gave Heinz Neumann a pretext to denounce the three to the G.P.U. They were arrested and charged with having been sent to Russia by the secret fascist organization "Consul" to assassinate leading Soviet officials. Month after month, the three German radicals languished in the Lubianka dungeons in Moscow, and the German press made a big stir about them, demanding their release.
At this stage the G.P.U. began secret negotiations with the German Ministry of Justice, offering to exchange their German prisoners for Skoblevski. The German government refused. Skob­levski had been sentenced to die. The G.P.U. answered by bring­ing the three Germans before the highest military tribunal in Moscow. It was the first of the so-called show trials. Carl Kinder­mann stood up and denounced the G.P.U. in open court. Felix Dzerjinsky himself, Kindermann reported, had bargained with him to obtain a "confession." Another of the accused, the student von Dithmar, followed Kindermann’s example. The third, the stu­dent Wolscht, had been broken down and made a deal with the G.P.U. while in prison. He had become a member of the Bolshevik Party during his confinement in the Lubianka, and now, while on trial, he praised the Soviet policies and implicated himself and his comrades. All three were condemned to be shot as spies.
Still the German government refused to exchange Skoblevski. Whereupon the G.P.U. arrested a number of German consular officials and their wives, accusing them of anti-Soviet conspiracies. At the same time, the negotiations to free Skoblevski were renewed.
Skoblevski was not executed. In September, 1926, he was ex­changed for eleven German prisoners of the G.P.U. Carl Kinder­mann and von Dithmar were freed. Wolscht, who had "confessed," died in the Lubianka prison in Moscow, according to a Soviet announcement. As for the lesser Tchekists who had been sentenced in Leipzig, the Party abandoned them to their fate.
There is a sequel to this chapter. In 1937, I was questioned about General Skoblevski by the director of the Foreign Division of the Gestapo, Regierungsrat Schreckenbach. I then learned that Skob­levski, under the name of Gorev, had become a Soviet military adviser to the Loyalist armies in Spain.
"May I see a photograph of this Gorev-Skoblevski?" I asked.
"There is none," was the reply. "The police records of him were stolen in 1927."

General Skoblevski, however, was never put on trial to answer for the thousands of lives sacrificed in the adventurous uprisings which he had organized in Germany during 1923. On October 16 of that year Otto Marquardt appointed me leader of a detachment of twenty men of the Red Marines. Six of these twenty were armed with old Russian carbines, five had new automatic pistols of Belgian make, four had old revolvers of various caliber, the rest were armed with knives and clubs. Between us we possessed six rejuvenated German World War hand-grenades of the egg-shape type. The oldest in my group was twenty-seven years old, the second oldest twenty-three and the youngest sixteen, a husky riveter’s apprentice. On October 19, I took my detachment aboard a train bound for Bremen. We got off at Buchholz and had ma­neuver practice in a nearby forest; a footpath was a city street, selected rocks represented tenements, and fallen trees served as barricades. We agreed on certain signals for assault, for co-opera­tion in ambush, for retreat and for scattering. Then we marched to Hamburg, following the railway, taking sharp note of the ter­rain on both sides. On October 21, each man bought a quart of kerosene for the purpose, if need be, of setting buildings, barri­cades, or police lorries afire. On the same day Hugo Marx gave me a detailed plan of Police Post 42 in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, and I took five of my comrades to the Eimsbüttel district to study all details and approaches of the station at close range. In doing this, I was as serious as any earnest young skipper who shaped the first course of the first ship under his command. We did not think of ourselves; we thought of our duty to prepare the great break­through into a better future.
How strong were we really? Every comrade asked that ques­tion; few could answer it. Our leaders maintained that the majority of the German workers stood behind the Communist Party. They always talked that way on the eve of a major blow, so as to inspire confidence among those of their followers who were willing to throw away their lives.
For weeks Moscow’s decision as to the general uprising had hung in the balance. Courier after courier arrived in Berlin from Moscow, bearing message after message. Moscow ordered revolu­tion, countermanded the order, and restored it. In Berlin, the Cen­tral Committee of the Party, under Karl Radek, was undecided. Our leaders were immersed in factional squabbles, confused by conflicting commands from the Kremlin, while the Party couriers waited to carry to the Red Hundreds in the provinces the signal to go ahead. The story has been told by Walter Zeutschel, an active participant in the events.
When the Social Democratic Party refused to join the planned communist revolt, Ernst Thälmann, in a rage, dispatched the couriers with the order for the rising. This exploded like a bomb. The other members of the Central Committee leaped from their seats and stared at each other in bewilderment. Brandler was first to regain his composure. He sent his men out to stop the couriers. But the courier for Hamburg had already started. Brandler’s mes­senger rushed to the station.
"Too late," he was told. "There goes the train."
For a while the messenger stared at the tail lights of the train which rolled toward Hamburg. Then he went home.

Chapter Six - SCAPEGOATS ON THE BARRICADES

IN OCTOBER, 1923, the day’s wage of a docker in the harbor of Hamburg was seventeen billion marks.
On the night of October 2 2 all detachment leaders in Hamburg were summoned to a house on Valentinskamp. There were about sixty men present, denoting that our armed communist forces in the district numbered roughly 1,200. Otto Marquardt and his secretary, the elephantine Grete, were present. So were two young Russian officers. But none of them spoke; listening, they hovered in a corner where the light was dimmest. The final instructions were issued by one of Ernst Thälmann’s aides. There was no enthusiasm. A spirit of silent resignation permeated our meeting. The air was stifling and full of smoke. The faces of the sentries at the door were taut and pale. But we were determined to triumph or to die for the revolution. The meeting broke up with a muffled shout, "Forward! Long live Soviet Germany!"
In a tenement around the corner the detachment couriers, their bicycles parked in a rear courtyard, were waiting. I found my courier, the riveter’s apprentice, in a kitchen, eating a large meal of boiled potatoes and margarine. I ordered him to mobilize my group—Detachment Two of the Red Marines—and to tell the men to assemble outside of the suburban town of Harburg at a certain point on the Hamburg-Bremen railway line at twelve-thirty sharp. The rifles were to be left with a Party member in Eimsbüttel, to be called for later. The boy clattered downstairs, still munching.
Then I took the local train to Harburg, a journey of twenty minutes. The night was dark, windy, but not cold. I felt so hot that I loosened the woolen scarf I wore around my neck and unbuttoned my windbreaker. The Harburg organization had assembled a lot of stolen bicycles in a vacant store a couple of blocks from the station. Here the front door was locked, there were no lights, but a side-door, opening on an alley, was open. Comrades were stationed at the corners to warn against occasional policemen. I received a bicycle and crossed the outskirts. Once out on the high­way, I extinguished the light, and followed the railway line until a cluster of long low sheds popped out of the night. A few lanterns drew small circles of yellow light. On a siding stood a few empty freight cars. This was our point of assembly. A dark figure leaped suddenly on the highway and raised an arm.
In the shadows of the empty freight cars huddled a group of local communists. None of them had firearms. By midnight sixteen men from my detachment had arrived. Half an hour later two stragglers from another detachment appeared. They had lost their way or misunderstood their directions. Both of them had Belgian pistols. At 12:45 I said:
"Let’s go."
We surrounded the sheds and overpowered two elderly watch­men. We locked them into a small toolshed. Their guns, small Mausers, were taken by two local militants. A long freight train approached, and we lay still until it had passed. Then each man did the job he had previously been appointed to do. We had a high degree of beginner’s luck. Two men cut the telegraph wires. Four, with saws and an ax from the toolshed, felled nearby trees. Another group toiled to dislocate ties and rails. The local com­munists banded together and pushed a freight car from the siding to the main line of trains bound for Hamburg. Trees, timbers, debris and rocks were heaped on the line. The purpose of this action was to prevent police and troop reinforcements to roll un­hindered into Hamburg once the authorities had given the alarm. A lone field policeman who blundered into our midst was imme­diately disarmed.
In the small hours of morning the city lay quiet. We assembled in the blackness of a small park. Two couriers brought our six rifles from their hiding-place. They were distributed to those who had had rifle experience in previous encounters. We were now twenty-seven strong, including two girls who carried iodine, bandages, scissors and clubs. No one spoke an unnecessary word. Our task was to raid Police Post 42.
We proceeded in two single files, one on each side of the street, hugging the houses. From a public telephone booth I called the police station.
"Come quickly," I telephoned. "There are three burglars here in a luggage shop." I gave an address on the far side of the Eimsbüttel district. That would draw part of the police force away from the post.
I directed my detachment to halt a block away from the station. Like ghosts we vanished into the doorways. I sent a youngster ahead to enter the station. He was to ask the police officer in charge to telephone for a doctor—because of a premature birth some­where in the district. The young comrade soon returned to report that five policemen were in the station. Three of them had hung their gun belts on hooks in the wall, and were playing cards. I was tempted to attack that very moment, but I held back.
The signal for the insurrection came like a thunderclap. It came in the form of three-men groups who were smashing the street lights. With a feeling as if my skin was shriveling up and going off in all directions, I put two fingers into my mouth and whistled.
From two sides we closed in. That instant I wished I were far away, out at sea on some ship; others later told me that they had the same sensation. But each of us was ashamed to stand back. We rushed at the station building, intent to kill before we ourselves would be killed. It was no bloodless assault. Someone behind me, crazy with excitement, fired his pistol into the air and yelled. That warned the policemen. A window was thrown open. The light in the station went out. The guns barked, blotting out thought.
I saw two of my comrades fall. For a while one of them whimpered like a dog that had been run over. Against the wall of a short hallway, flanked by two guard-rooms, stood two policemen. Stilettos of yellow fire leaped from their hands. Close to the door a young stevedore in a patched gray sweater pulled the release of a hand-grenade. "Stand off," he said hoarsely. Then he counted, yelled: "Twenty-one . . . Twenty . .." Six or seven of us crouched on both sides of the entrance. The grenade roared, and the hall­way was free. We sprang forward with the roar of the explosion still in our ears.
Smoke filled the inside of the station. From the floor a policeman was still firing. The stevedore crushed his face with a kick of his heavy boot. Another policeman had the side of his neck torn away; he was bleeding to death under a table. Someone switched on the lights. The three remaining policemen were cornered, their arms raised high.
The stevedore raged: "Shoot them. Kill the whole murderous lot!"
I stopped him. The Party command had ordered us to keep prisoners as hostages. We shackled the policemen together with their own handcuffs. Outside the station a crowd shouted for arms. Men and boys came running from all directions, and a few women from the communist ambulance service. We found a dozen rifles and thirty rounds of ammunition for each, and an equal number of service pistols. There were also some first-aid kits and a machine gun. A middle-aged worker stepped forward when I asked who could use a machine gun. He pulled out his Party book, and said he had served in the war. I gave him the machine gun, and called for volunteers in the crowd to help him mount it on the roof of a house from which three important streets could be dominated. The girls from the ambulance service carried our wounded away. Throughout the city the Party had established first-aid stations in the apartments of sympathizers.
By this time a squad from another Red Hundred, composed of older men, took over the captured station. Others tore up the pavement and erected a barricade; timbers, garbage cans, old furniture obstructed the street. Cursing dispatch-riders lugged their bicycles over the obstructions. The sounds of distant rifle fire filled the night. Within that hour nearly a score of other police posts were stormed by communist detachments in the districts of Hamm, Horn, Barmbeck and elsewhere.
I have often been asked: "What are the thoughts and feelings of a thousand men who set out to conquer a city of more than a million in one onslaught?" The answer is that at first they plunge ahead in a delirium of self-destruction. They cannot believe that they will win, but they would rather die than admit this to them­selves. But after their initial success they become, in a way, rational, and their self-confidence grows to monstrous proportions. There was neither fear nor hesitation in our minds. What we did, we felt, was good and right. We did not think of ourselves. We did not anticipate private material gain. We were fanatics prepared to give all, and ask nothing for ourselves. We despised the hood­lums who took advantage of darkness and confusion to loot and maraud for individual profit and pleasure.
A band of such hoodlums was looting a number of stores. A squad of communists gave them battle. The goods in the stores were now the property of the working class, and looting had become a crime. From an apartment in the rear of a store came piercing cries for help. Three or four men from my column forced their way into the apartment. After a while they returned and reported: Two plunderers had surprised a girl in her bed. One of them had grasped the girl’s wrists and the other raped her. My comrades had yanked the two into the now empty store.
"You made them cold, I hope?" I said. I heard no shots.
"With bayonets," one of the comrades answered.
We advanced, keeping close to the houses. There was no time to lose. It was still dark, and the surprise element is greatest in the hours before dawn. We moved toward the center of Hamburg. Other columns, I knew, were doing the same from all surrounding points.
Despite the dead and wounded we had lost, my group was stronger now. Clusters of volunteers followed the spearhead. Many streets swarmed with people. Party agitators endeavored to draw people into the streets and to keep them there. Skoblevski’s in­structors had made it clear to us that it was important to have crowded streets when fighting took place. Nothing will rouse the wrath of the population so much as police firing into unarmed masses. At intersections, small groups of partisans collected kero­sene in garbage cans and heaps of old rags; their task was to stop police lorries with sudden barricades of fire.
At daybreak we met resistance. A strong force of Security Police had entrenched around a small railway bridge, behind nearby trees and in adjoining houses. Their carbines cracked.
"Disperse! To the roofs!"
We dived into the houses on both sides. Doors splintered under carbine butts, and tenants in pajamas and nightshirts fled toward the cellars. Men crouched in windows, on the balconies, on the roofs. As if by common consent, the communist units held their fire. It was the prelude to what Soviet officers had taught us was the "bottling up" maneuver.
The police did not walk into the trap. We settled down to an hour of sniping. The machine guns of the police blasted away at anything that moved in the street. We tried to work ourselves toward the enemy by advancing over the roofs, but we lacked the ropes and ladders necessary to do this with success. A few reckless communists who straddled window sills to take better aim were quickly hit. One roared and spread out his arm, and plunged down from a height of five stories. Lying half in a doorway was a small child, stone-dead.
From the roof of a tenement a hundred yards away came a ringing voice.
"Don’t give up. Hang on!" the voice shouted. "Reinforcements are on the way."
Communists were marching into Hamburg from all outlying communities. Then came two shrill whistles—the signal for assault. From my perch in an attic window I saw the snipers disappear from other roofs. Voices yelled: "Storm!" I leaped down four flights of stairs into a hallway already crowded with armed parti­sans. Perhaps one in five had a rifle, one in four a pistol, and the rest carried hammers and spiked clubs.
The signal for assault sounded again.
I and a few others pushed out into the street. Instantly, the screech of whining lead drove us back into the house. The side­walks were littered with dead and wounded. Gray, fire-spitting things moved forward. Armored cars.
We had been taught how to fight armored cars. Here and there hand-grenades were thrown out of doorways and low windows. Only one of them exploded. The others were dead. The armored cars continued to advance, raking the street. A youth carrying a bottle in each hand darted out of a house, and ran up to the first car. He smashed both bottles against the car, and then was dead. An older man, a bristly-faced scarecrow, now lunged toward the armored car. In the moment of his death he threw a bundle of burning rags on the back of the gray thing. This man—I can never forget him. He was the most pathetic hero of the Hamburg rising. The armored car was enveloped in flame and smoke, and the faster it moved, the brighter the flames became. At the end of the block it stopped. But two others continued, machine guns spitting.
By now I was, with many others, in the street. Police counter-attacked in the shelter of armored cars. A low barricade of cobble-stones at the end of the street stopped them. From a window, a solitary figure took potshots at civilians and policemen who at­tempted to clear away the obstacle. Before waves of attacking police we scattered into side streets. We retreated, scuttling from doorway to doorway, shooting before we ran. Of my detachment, the Red Marines, I saw nothing more. Around me, men I had never seen before, were shooting and yelling. And then we all ran, each man for himself, each man abruptly aware, it seemed, of the paramount task of saving his own skin.
Retreat is the death of any insurrection. What had begun as a concerted assault ended in a desperate defense, in equally desperate but short-lived attacks, and a guerrilla warfare which knew no leaders except those who took charge of haphazardly assembled groups before they were smashed and dispersed a few minutes later.
At Hamburgerstrasse and Bornes Road, in the north-east of the city, following the sound of heavy firing, I found a series of well-constructed barricades. No one seemed to be in command. But in the cover of piled-up benches, trees and stones, and from behind overturned carts and automobiles, members of the Red Hundreds gave battle to police. Others were sniping from windows and roofs of houses which flanked the barricades. In a courtyard, a woman distributed bread and liverwurst. Here was well-organized re­sistance. I was relieved, and asked for news.
"More police posts have been taken in the Borgfelde and the Uhlenhort districts," I was told.
"And the harbor?"
The harbor was decisive.
"The whole harbor is on strike."
Toward noon, the police brought mortars and mine-throwers into action. We crawled a little way back, and when the thunder and the smoke cleared away, our barricades were wrecked and police pushed forward in the rear of armored cars. There was a lull in the firing.
"Drop your arms," a policeman barked. "Hände hoch! [15]
He was shot on the spot. A group of communists advanced to meet the police. Ahead of them they shoved three captured police officers. Nevertheless, the police opened fire. One of the prisoners was instantly killed. The two others ran toward the police. A communist sprang from a doorway, tripped one of the escaping officers and shot him through the back of the head.
Again we retreated, fighting for each house. At dusk I found myself with two comrades on the roof of a garage, holding off a police patrol firing from windows on the opposite side of the street. Our fronts had broken up. All forces were scattered. Sounds of shooting came from all directions. A block down the street a group of Red Guards carrying wounded comrades was taken prisoner.
I was glad when it grew dark. One of the men on the garage roof was hit. The other jumped to the street and ran screaming into the arms of the police. I slid down into a backyard and entered the back door of the next house. It was a restaurant. I rushed through the restaurant, left it by the front door, and crossed into another street. The street was empty. I ran into a house and knocked at the door of an apartment.
A white-haired woman with a kind, wrinkled face opened the door. She looked at the pistol in my hand.
"What do you wish?" she asked serenely.
"Let me in."
"Better wash yourself," the woman said.
I did. She gave me coffee and bread and butter. My clothes were badly torn. The woman gave me an old overcoat.
"Take it," she said. "I’ve kept it eight years now, ever since my husband died."
I put on the overcoat. It was too small, but it was all right. "I’m going to leave my arms here," I said.
"Yes, leave them here," the woman agreed, adding: "I shall throw them away the first chance I get."
"What happened today in the center of the city?"
"I know only little. Armed bands tried to loot the big stores while the fighting went on in the suburbs."
"Did you see a newspaper?"
"No," she said nervously. "You must go away now."
I went into the street. Posters on the walls ordered all citizens to leave the streets by eleven o’clock. Barbed-wire barricades, guarded by steel-helmeted police, blocked important intersections. At several points I was stopped and searched by police patrols.
"Leave me alone," I said. "I come from work. I want to go home."
"Why is your face burned?"
"There was a fire in the house."
"Well, don’t go west," a policeman advised. "Hell is loose in Barmbeck."
I could still hear the sounds of rifle fire interspersed with heavier explosions. I wondered what the Party was doing in Berlin, in Saxony, in Silesia, elsewhere. Like my comrades, I took it for granted that the Red Hundreds had gone into battle all over Germany.
Avoiding the patrols, I made my way westward. I walked for hours. On the edge of the great proletarian district of Barmbeck, the bedlam of battle was louder than ever. Police trucks full of prisoners rumbled by. The prisoners sat on the floors of the trucks, their arms raised high. Police were shooting from the houses, from armored cars, from behind sandbags piled up in the street. I circled northward around the fighting zone. The streets were quieter. Stores showed light, and there was even music in a few small cafes. There were young workingmen and girls who held each other close and laughed. I entered a cafe for a glass of beer. People drew away from me, and were suddenly silent.
"What’s the matter with you?" I asked.
They gave no answer. I hated them. The noises of slaughter less than a mile away were in the room. I drank the beer. When I went out, I slammed the door and the glass panel splintered. Cautiously I approached the zone of fighting.
I hailed a man who passed on a bicycle. I was not mistaken; he was a courier.
"How’s the situation?"
"Bad."
The Reichswehr command had decreed the death penalty for disobedience to the authorities. It was rumored that the German navy was steaming for Hamburg. More than nine hundred communist partisans had been arrested during the fighting. The police recaptured most of their stations, after driving out the defenders with gas and mines.
"Let me ride with you," I said.
"Can’t—I must be off."
A thought burned in my brain: "If the insurrection in other parts of the country has failed, we in Hamburg are lost." The masses, idle in strike, were not willing to fill the gaps of our ranks. The communist vanguard fought. The masses were passive. Perhaps the workers really did not want a revolution? I brushed the doubts aside. A skirmish line blocked the street ahead.
"Halt! Where to?"
"Red Marines."
A sentry held a flashlight into my face. "Pass," he said.
The vicinity of Pestalozzi Street was an armed communist camp.
On the sidewalks columns were re-formed and received their orders. In the van of a couple of hundred silent marchers, I saw Johnny Dettmer, the gun-runner of previous months. Almost all the men seemed well armed. At another spot, raiding parties were formed to attack the harbor. Special squads formed by men of Hugo Marx’s Apparat were on the way to offer their services as volunteers to the police, to plant themselves in our enemy’s camp. The police, it was known, were organizing a Bürgerwehr, an auxiliary force of anti-communist citizens. Everyone I saw was going somewhere or doing something. The din of rifles and ma­chine guns, flaring up, diminishing at times, but always loud and disturbing, was only a few hundred yards to the south. Knots of men slept in doorways; they looked at first glance like heaps of corpses. On a corner, shouting violently at a group of dispatch-riders, I saw the short, compact figure of Herrman Fischer, the chief of the first Red Hundred.
"What do you want me to do?" I said.
"Do? Let’s see—Red Marines are off to Geesthacht. Go there tonight. You’ll be four hundred strong. Get hold of the dynamite factory before morning."
"Can you get me a gun?"
Herrman Fischer laughed. "Disarm a policeman," he said, "and you’ll have a gun."
Units of five were assembled for the night march to Geesthacht, an industrial suburb on the right bank of the Elbe. The idea of seizing a dynamite factory animated even the most hungry and weary. Soon we were on the way in small groups, and unarmed, because we had to pass the districts controlled by troops and police.
Without serious mishap we slipped through. One of the bridges which crosses a ship canal running parallel to the river is called the Kornhaus Bridge, and it was for this point that we were head­ing through a maze of crooked old streets. We came upon two policemen patrolling a little square in front of a church. They had carbines, pistols, bayonets, rubber truncheons, and they wore steel helmets.
Three men are necessary to disarm a policeman—two to hold his arms, the third to cut away his Sam Browne with a sharp knife. In the shadows of a side street we waited until the officers had passed. Then we pounced on them. Now our group was armed.
We stripped the policemen of their uniforms and told them to run for it or be shot. They ran. The uniforms we took with us.
A little further on, the street was blocked by a barbed-wire entanglement. We ran for cover, suspecting a trap. Nothing hap­pened. The boldest in our group, a scraggy boilermaker, crept forward to investigate. The barricade was unmanned. On its other side an automobile without lights had stopped, and a man was trying to pull part of the entanglement aside. The boilermaker’s guffaw echoed in the silent street.
"Come on," he said. "These are profiteers."
The rest of us hastened up to the group on the other side of the barbed wire. The occupants of the car were a pudgy, middle-aged man and a young woman in a fur coat. Between them, with a firm grip on the man’s collar, stood the boilermaker.
"Look at these beauties," he said. "Motorcar, fur coat and all."
Here, we thought, was a true profiteer. We made the man take off his topcoat and his pants. The woman we forced to surrender her fur coat and her shoes. She was calm, but her escort shivered like a leaf. He pulled out a wallet and offered to buy back his pants.
"Sure," the boilermaker said. He took the wallet, pulled out a wad of bills, tore them in half and threw them into the night. "So much for your money," he snarled. "Now run or we’ll hang you to a lantern."
The woman walked off on her toes. The man followed her, lurching from side to side as if drunk. We pushed the car into the barbed wire, and overturned it.
We occupied the boat-landing beneath the Kornhaus Bridge and waited. A tall blue-eyed youngster from another unit had donned one of the police uniforms and had gone to the Baumwall a half mile away to hire a water taxi, a Barkasse. We posted a sentry up street to warn us should police approach. Armed platoons on motor trucks passed twice. Each time we darted into the public comfort station beneath the quay. Finally the peaceful chugging of a motor told us that a launch was coming along the canal. It drew alongside the landing. The young communist in police uniform held his pistol pressed against the spine of the launch captain. The launch was about forty feet long, with a small cabin in front of the wheel. We crowded into the cabin. Those who found no room lay down flat in the bottom of the Barkasse. So, with only the steersman and the uniformed comrade visible from the quays, the launch passed through the end of the canal, veered into the broad river and continued upstream. Nearly twenty men were aboard the launch. About four o’clock in the morning we landed on a grassy embankment off Geesthacht. Again we waited, crouched close to the ground, while the boilermaker slipped away to scout for the points of assembly.
The silence was oppressive. We were too far from Hamburg to hear the sounds of shooting. Presently two girls, muffled to their ears, arrived.
"This way, comrades," they whispered.
They led us to an abandoned factory. The windows were cov­ered with sacking. Armed guards were on duty behind a breast­work of empty oil drums and piled-up earth. A few girls and women had set up field kitchens with oil stoves. Pea soup and tea in tin bowls were served to all newcomers. Many were too tired to eat; they fell asleep with the spoons in their hands. The dark, bare halls of the factory teemed with activity. Only necessary words were spoken. Squads armed with picks and shovels went out and others returned. Regular trenches were being dug on both sides of the two main highways leading from Hamburg to Geesthacht.
Dawn came dull and gray. We lined up in front of the factory walls for last instructions from the detachment commanders. The instructions were simple enough—seizure of the railway station, the arsenal, the dynamite factory; arming of the Geesthacht work­ers and a renewed advance on Hamburg. The final admonition was: "Let no wounded fall into the hands of the police. On to victory!"
In the chill morning we attacked. The trenches crossing the highways were well manned to prevent the penetration of police or troops from Hamburg. We advanced in four columns, each with its own important objective. I was assigned to the force which was to raid the dynamite factory; exhausted as I was, I did my duty as a good soldier of the revolution.
Small assault groups went ahead to disrupt the communication lines of the defenders, and to test the strongest points in the defense of the main buildings. We had planned a surprise coup, but it was we who were surprised. The resistance was fierce. Soon rifles cracked from the windows of workers’ dwellings and from the roof on the rambling factory. We gained ground slowly through backyards and gardens, and worked ourselves through many of the small one-family houses that skirted the factory area. An armored lorry was stopped with two hand-grenades. By the time our squad faced the factory gates, half of our number had fallen in the fire.
The day turned into a nightmare. I saw a girl from the com­munist first-aid columns who had followed us to tend the wounded. Her mouth and chin were half torn away by a slug, and she was still whimpering. We did not take the dynamite factory. We were pressed back into the trenches which followed the crest of a low hill, and there we held out until the afternoon.
Airplanes droned overhead, dropping leaflets first, and then blaz­ing away with machine guns. "Surrender," the leaflets said. "Re­sistance is useless." That I knew, and so did every other man in the trench. But we had no thought of surrender. We would fight until we were dead. Mortars thundered and threw sheets of rock and mud on our heads. And then came a new, dreaded noise: the juicy hammering of heavy machine guns. Terrified shrieking followed.
"The navy! The navy!"
We had believed in the revolutionary tradition of the navy. We had hoped that our propagandists would cause a naval revolt when the order was given to shoot on workers. We were mistaken. We saw the blue uniforms run, throw themselves to the ground, rise and run again. They were sailors from a destroyer flotilla that had slipped upriver early in the morning.
Here and there a communist threw away his gun and ran. More followed, and then we all abandoned our arms and ran. We ran like hunted hares in all directions. The "hurrahs" of the sailors sounded menacing and hollow as they charged with bayonets fixed.
Fleeing communists asked one another: "Where do we con­centrate? Where is the command?"
"Don’t know," was the invariable answer. "Get a breathing spell, and keep on fighting till we know what’s happened in Berlin."
Berlin? Berlin was calm. A message from Zinoviev had post­poned the revolution. Every third member of the Hamburg Party machine was either dead or wounded or in jail.
But the Party is like an animal with seven lives. After our rout in Geesthacht, I was hidden with three others in the home of a partisan when a Party courier, combing through the houses of sympathizers, brought orders from Otto Marquardt’s staff to as­semble in the suburb of Ahrensburg. We headed toward Hamburg, each man alone. Some went by boat, some followed by rails, and others trudged along the roads. Many were arrested by police patrols on the way.
On Thursday, the third day of the rising, shooting continued all through the night, single shots, and now and then, a strong fusillade or a burst of machine gun fire.
Off a street called Wandbecker Chaussee I found a worker who had been shot through the stomach. He groaned at regular inter­vals, and after each groan, he bit into the barrel of his Russian carbine. Passers-by made a cautious circle around the fallen man and hurried on. I picked him up and carried him around a corner, in the hope of finding a friendly house. I had never been in this section of the city before. I dragged the wounded man into a gap between two houses and tried to speak to him to find out who he was. He could not answer. Like all of us, he had left his identifica­tion papers at home. I fell asleep behind three garbage cans, and when I awoke toward the morning, the worker was dead. I dragged the corpse back to the street, and propped him against a wall so that a cruising ambulance could find him. Then I took his rifle; only two cartridges were left.
Ahrensburg, just outside Hamburg on the railroad to Luebeck, was mainly in the hands of Red Hundreds. Headquarters was the railway station. Men slept on the stone floor and others trampled over them without heed. A stocky man was in charge, and a mad plan was afoot.
The plan was to seize the central railroad station of Hamburg, which had a commanding position. Eight important thoroughfares ended at the station. Spies had been sent to find out the strength of police and troops guarding the terminal. The stocky man wanted to fill a local train with armed men, run it into Hamburg, and overwhelm the station. A new consignment of Russian rifles had arrived from Lûbeck.
"Once you’re inside, massacre every uniform you see," the stocky man said.
A thin communist with a meek face and a drooping mouth pro­tested. "Do you want to murder us all?" he cried. "Go tell Thälmann and Brandler and Lenin to storm the damned station them­selves."
The stocky man pushed the defeatist against a door.
"Hold still, my boy," he murmured.
In a flash he drew his pistol and shot the thin man through the head.
A murmur went up and a few "Bravos." Many of us crashed our rifles to the floor. I was sick of it, and so were others. For a minute it seemed that comrade would murder comrade.
"We’re through," someone said.
The argument stopped when a scout arrived from the Hamburg station. He reported two hundred policemen hidden in the wait­ing rooms. New posters in the city squares had the caption: "Persons bearing arms against the government are subject to the death penalty."
Resistance had become a farce. We had no leaders. Demoraliza­tion took its course. Isolated rebel units, still fighting out of sheer stubbornness and, perhaps, a craving for revenge, retreated along the Lübeck road. The vast majority, broken, bedraggled, dis­gusted, sauntered away, each man leaving the next to shift for himself.
"What did we get out of it?" one of my companions asked. "I don’t know," I said.
"I wish I knew," the other mumbled forlornly.
A skirmish line of policemen bore down the street.
"We’d better separate," I proposed.
"All right."
We parted. I felt as if I should never be happy again or enthusi­astic about anything as long as I lived. So much bloodshed and suffering! It made a man want to turn his face to the clouds and roar, so great was the pain. For what? When I entered the Cafe Bunte Kuh in St. Pauli above which I had rented a shabby little room, someone pointed me out to a police patrol. There was no chance to flee. The people were hostile. Even the prostitutes mocked me. "To the gallows with him," one of them repeatedly chanted, swinging an empty beer glass. A policeman held me in a grip that threatened to break my arm. So I was led to the police post on the Davidstrasse.
The small jail was overcrowded. The cells were packed with arrested men, and new arrivals were herded into the guard rooms which were so crowded that men stood on each other’s feet. The usual organized rowdyism of a band of communists in jail found no response in this gathering. A dismal stench filled the place, faces were surly or stoic, and except for the ribaldry of a few intoxicated sailors, men spoke in whispers. After a wretched hour I was called out and pushed aboard an open truck together with many other prisoners. On the rear end of the truck, his carbine across his knees, sat a policeman. We sat on the floor boards, hands raised above our heads, while the truck sped toward the head­quarters of the Security Police.
The policeman on the rear end of the lorry was young, and his face was gaunt and sunken from lack of sleep. On the way, the prisoner next to him, a gorilla of a man, lashed out at the guard with both feet. Both pitched to the pavement. The truck stopped, its siren twittering for aid. A policeman jumped down from the front seat, his pistol drawn.
"Nobody move," he commanded.
The next instant he began to shoot. We tumbled off the lorry in a welter of arms and legs, and sprinted away in all directions. The street in which the truck had stopped was long and straight and narrow, but to the left lay the ancient section of Hamburg, a labyrinth of alleys, crooked passages and crumbling houses. The denizens of the Gängeviertel—the alley quarter—prostitutes, pimps, criminals and down-and-outers of every description, hated the police and helped the hunted.
I emerged after dark. That night I spent in the apartment of Erika Zcympanski. Other fugitives were there, two wounded, and all utterly exhausted. We slept on the floor like dead men. Erika, after a sleepless night, was as good-looking and practical as ever. She had summoned a communist physician to treat the wounded. The touch of her firm, cool hand as it stroked over a face hot with fever and crusted with dirt, was like a fairy tale come true. Blood and filth could not affect her. Those who could, departed after a bath and a breakfast of coffee, butter and rolls. The morning papers reported that four hundred dead and wounded had been counted in hospitals and morgues; one-third of the known casual­ties were policemen. An unknown number of communist casualties were still hidden away in the homes of partisans.
"The police will be after me," I told Erika. "I must get away." "Where will you go?"
"I’m going back to sea."
"Never forget the cause you fought for," she said. "You can keep up contact with the Party through me."
I left Hamburg in the afternoon. On a corner people were scrutinising a new bill which showed the figure one followed by twelve zeros—a thousand billion marks on one piece of paper. life on the streets was orderly and quiet. The church bells rang for the burial of the dead.
Eleven days I was on the road, wandering toward the Rhine. I begged food from peasant women and slept in barns. I crossed the river Weser at Minden and entered Holland at night over the frontier town of Gronau. The next night, curled up in a meadow, I almost froze to death. But the following day, in the town of Arnhem, I saw a barge captain loading his craft with new red bricks. I asked him if I could help.
"Yes," he replied.
I helped him to load the barge, and for this he granted me a slow passage down the north arm of the Rhine to Rotterdam.

Chapter Seven - RED VAGABONDAGE

IN THE NORWEGIAN SAILORS’ HOME in Rotterdam I wrote a letter to Erika Zcympanski, asking her to inform the Party of my whereabouts. It was my plan to stay in Rotterdam until instructions arrived. The Comintern, I knew, had its organizations in every civilized country, and I felt it did not matter whether I was in Germany or not so long as I remained loyal and willing to serve the cause. Though stunned by the Hamburg horrors, my faith was intact. The movement to which I belonged was inter­national; the doctrine that no worker has a fatherland was firmly rooted in my mind, and it was with open defiance and ill-concealed pride that I told myself: "You have not lost your fatherland. You never had a fatherland. You are an internationalist who has but a single task—to help put the capitalists and their henchmen into the grave all over the world."
From the sailors’ home I went to the offices of the Communist Party to ask for aid as a refugee from Germany, and to put myself at the disposal of the local organization. The red-cheeked, sleepy-eyed Dutch Bolshevik who received me, glanced slowly around his disorderly office and said:
"Well, you’ll have to wait until we inquire about you from the German Party."
Exasperated, I cried: "The Party in Germany is outlawed.
"We can do nothing for you if you have no mandate from your Party," the Dutchman said.
"Just give me an address where I can sleep and eat for a couple of days."
"We are no charitable institution," the Dutchman said.
Angry, on the verge of tears, I left him.
Later that day a detective picked me up and took me to a little jail which gave me the impression of being a detention place for assorted alien beachcombers. I had clambered into the fish tank of a discharged trawler to pick up left-overs which I intended to cook over a fire built by bums in a nearby freight car, when the detective leaned over the coaming and told me to come along.
I had no papers to prove my identity, and refused to give my name to the policemen who questioned me. I feared they would king me to the border and surrender me to the German police.
"I got drunk and lost my ship in Antwerp," I told them. "So I came to Rotterdam to find me another ship."
They gave me a pound of excellent bread, a hunk of cheese and coffee. Before it got dark a gendarme called, and I was told to go with him. He brought me to a train. No other travelers were in the compartment. The gendarme sat in a corner by the door which he barricaded by keeping his feet on the opposite seat. Soon the train began to move.
“Where are we going?" I asked.
"You are going where you came from," the gendarme said.
I almost blundered. "Germany?" I wanted to ask. I rose to open the window.
"Keep it closed," my guard advised. "It’s cold." Patting his belt, he added: "Don’t try to run away. If you run, I must shoot at you.”
"Well, where are we going?"
"To Belgium."
I was relieved. The gendarme gave me a guilder. I was grateful. He never smiled. He had curiously tender eyes in a harsh-featured face, and he began to ask me about the life on ships. It seemed that he liked the sea, but he liked more a warm stove in the eve­ning. At a small station he led me out of the train. The lights were frosty. The night was dark and raw. I shivered in the cold. Despite my six-foot frame, I felt weak and worn-out. The gendarme obtained for me a glass of rum and hot water from a fat girl in the waiting room.
"We are near the frontier," he said, pointing out of the window. “Yonder is Belgium."
A young border patrolman wrapped in a thick woolen shawl and a camel-hair coat, was waiting for us. The gendarme yawned and shook my hand, and the border guard grabbed my arm and led me out into the night. By-and-by the weather cleared, the stars shone, and a howling wind blew across the flat country.
We trudged over fields and waded through shallow ditches.
Thrice the border guard sat down in the shelter of barns to smoke a cigarette. While he smoked, he forced me to lie face to the ground. When we neared the strip of no-man’s-land, we began to crawl on our hands and knees. Behind a thin barrier of brushes we paused.
My escort pointed into the gloom ahead.
"Go straight that way," he whispered, "one hundred meters, and you will be in Belgium. There are no patrols. Belgian patrols like to make fires. Now go and keep on going, and don’t ever come back to Holland."
"All right," I said.
"Remember, one year in jail if you come back."
"I remember."
I bent my body toward the ground and ran forward. The wet grass made sucking sounds under my feet. A hundred yards away I halted, and turned to yell insults at the border guard.
"Keep quiet, you smerlapp [16]," he answered. "Keep going!"
Early in the morning I stopped at a farmhouse and asked a clean-looking woman for permission to wash under the pump.
"Poor fellow," she said. "Have they pushed you over the border?"
"Yes," I said.
"Many come that way. Pushed here, pushed there, all the time."
She gave me a piece of coarse soap and a towel. After that I had a breakfast of beans and bacon. I helped the woman to wring out a mountain of laundry until a farm helper harnessed the horse to get firewood from the nearest town. I went with him. The town was Esschen, only a few miles due north of Antwerp. I helped the farm-hand to load his cart and then I struck out on a shiny high­way leading south.
The waterfront of Antwerp is the home of many outcasts. It is more international than Shanghai; it is the most international waterfront in the world. It was like a tonic to find myself in the pandemonium of harbor noises, docks and wharves cluttered with foreign freight, of seafaring sounds and smells. In the endless line of drinking places, Lascars and Norwegians guzzled away shoulder on shoulder, and a few francs and meal were to be had for the asking. In the Chrystal Palace and all its satellites around the Steen, naked women of all types pranced in tap-rooms full of noise and smoke and roistering men from the ships. And Antwerp was at that time one of the toughest places in Europe in which to find an outbound berth; seven thousand men were on the beach, and battalions of bums besieged every ship as soon as it was moored.
I spent the first night in the common sleeping quarters of the Salvation Army, after obliging its dormitory baas [17] with a prayer. Early the second night, bent on some form of deviltry to shake off the bothersome shadows of blood spilled in Hamburg, I met Mariette.
She was standing behind a window, which reached down to street level, and smiled at me as I entered the short, crooked street. She neither jerked her head nor beckoned with her arm as did the buxom Flemish girls in adjoining houses. She smiled and I stopped.
Small and trim, she had luminous coal-black eyes. The lights in the room drew her outline sharply. I went inside, into a cloud of perfume and tropical heat. There were some palms in pots, a thick rug, a massive radio, a couch as large as a lifeboat, and pictures on the walls. The girl was draped in white silk. Her bare feet stuck in white sandals studded with colored beads. The grime of Ant­werp was blotted out. Immediately she drew the curtains.
"Hello," she said.
"Hello," I replied. "What’s your name?"
"Mariette."
"You are French?"
"I am from Marseilles."
She slipped her hand under my coat and wriggled close. She was taut and warm.
"Maybe you like me?"
"I have no money," I said.
"Such tales to tell," she laughed. "You’re one of the nicest boys I touched."
"You lie."
"Listen, I never lie! You’ve smiling eyes. How old are you?" "Twenty."
"I’m thirty," she said, teeth flashing. "The meisjes [18] in the next house are twenty-two and twenty-three. Cows who will stink at thirty. It comes because I take very good care. See, I have skin like silk; a little bit yellow, but it is like silk."
She prattled on like running water.
"Look here, Mariette," I told her, "I have no money. Not one copper."
"That’s bad."
"If you hadn’t smiled, I wouldn’t have come in," I explained.
She leaned back and laughed.
"I know how it is," she said. "Tell me, what can I do with you if you have not one copper?"
"You can call a policeman," I answered.
"You are crazy. I never call policemen."
For a short while she eyed me curiously. Then she said: "It is bad business to waste time on a boy who hasn’t a copper. But listen, I know a man who pays me much money. He says his wife makes him sick. I can call him to come here, and he can sit behind this door and look. He’ll do nothing; just sit and look. You pay not one copper. He pays. All right?"
"No."
"Why not?" She shrugged her firm shoulders. "If you have no copper, why not make money facilement?"
"I’ll visit you a lot when I have money," I promised.
"Pouf! Where you from?"
"Hamburg."
"From Hamburg and no copper, hah?"
"I ran away from the police."
"Why?"
"I helped to try to make a revolution."
Her attitude changed abruptly. "Tell me about it," she said. I did.
We had been sitting on the couch. Mariette rose and brought me a glass of wine.
"I give you a little money," she said.
"Why should you give me money?"
She watched me drink the wine. Her answer astonished me. "Were I a man, I’d be a revolutionist," she said slowly. "But a woman, what can she do? People give me plenty money because I am a nice whore. I don’t care. I like revolution. When a revolu­tionist comes to me, I help him."
We became friends and talked. Prostitutes I had known before had been covering their bedraggled existence with a sheen of irre­sponsibility, and one or two of them had been stupidly vile. Mariette’s outstanding mark was a certain level-headed self-reliance. She told me about her life. She had followed her profession for thirteen years. A Greek brought her into the business. She insisted that she had entered the house willingly; that was in Marseilles, when she was seventeen. "The Greek, he told to all his friends, `Come, I have a girl who sleep with no man before.’ Oh, la! They gave me no rest. Up the stairs, down the stairs, all the time. Then somebody made me sick. . . . But today, if a man is sick, I can see quick. I say, ’Go!’ Is he drunk or mad, I take knife. I put the knife against his belly and say, ’Go!’ So he goes."
Mariette went on to explain that she felt herself responsible for the welfare of her sailor friends. "When a sailor love me one time, he comes back for more each time his ship is in port. Every morning I look in the paper. I see the names of the ships that have come. I know: this man will come tonight, and this one and that one. Fifteen, twenty, sometimes more. They are friends. When one does not come, I am sad. I ask: What is it? Is he sick? Is he dead? Is he married?"
I asked her if she knew some foreign revolutionists in Antwerp. "I know Bandura," she said. "You meet him?"
"No."
"Maybe his real name is not Bandura," she explained. "We call him Bandura, though. He’s always looking for revolutionists to help him."
Inside of me something became alert.
"What does Bandura do?" I inquired.
Mariette drew her knees up to her chin, and put both hands against her temples.
"He makes trouble," she said. "I buy him overcoat and shoes; sometimes he makes me afraid. He sends other men to me and makes me hide them from police. Police come around many times and ask, ’Where is man from Riga? Where is little Chinaman? Where is big Pole?’ I laugh. Bandura, he only int’rested in trouble."
"Maybe I’m from the police. How’d you know?" I interjected.
"Maybe some day you will be my sweetheart," she said.
"The hell I will."
"And when you’re a policeman and want to go away, I shall tell you: Come, take me one time more. Then I take the knife and—alas! you are a man no more, and then I say: Now go!"
"Well, I’m no policeman," I said.
"I know that."
"I want to meet Bandura."
"Sure." She paused and then said: "Soon, it is nine. My friends will come from the ships. Now you must go."
About five the next afternoon I met Bandura in Mariette’s den. He looked the part of a tight-lipped, picturesque brigand, a big-boned, starved-looking man with angular Slavic features. He wore brogans, a reeking old overcoat and a smeary sixpence cap from under which protruded the fringes of matted yellow hair turning gray. He sat on the extreme edge of a chair, peering at me as I came in and said, "Good you come."
We talked. The simplicity and ability of the man impressed me from the start. I answered many searching questions. Bandura was a Ukrainian anarchist who carried on an independent war against all shipowners whose vessels traded in ports in which Bandura happened to be at the moment. He worked for no organization and recognized no authority except the right of the underdog to help himself. His collaborators, he maintained, were proletarians of every creed, and nondescripts with a vein for rebellion.
Bandura was the typical representative of those itinerant water­front revolutionists I have since met in every port of call. One and all, they were fugitives from the political police of their own lands. Few had passports. Thus deprived of all chance to obtain a lasting refuge and steady work, they vagabonded from one country to the next, often voluntarily, more often hounded as dangerous undesirables.
"I hope you are no mutton thief," Bandura said to me.
"What are mutton thieves?"
"Fellows who come with sample cases full of programs, big theories, big plans. Fellows who scram in danger. Heels in a cloud of dust. Fellows who want ham and eggs every morning."
"Then I’m no mutton thief," I said.
"You’ll have to prove it," Bandura retorted. "Show us by pick­ing a ship where the chow is rotten. Follow her around from port to port and make the crew raise Cain till the chow gets good. For action we need no politicians; we need ’activists’."
"How can a man get a ship in Antwerp?" I demanded. "Antwerp is bad. But there are other ports. Best chance is Eng­land. Alien seamen can’t stay in England, so foreign ships are hard up for men in British ports, since Englishmen won’t work for less than eight-pound-ten."
"I’ll go to England," I said.
"Go to Liverpool. Liverpool is best."
Throughout our conference Mariette was curled up on her couch, listening with apparent interest, but never saying a word. When I was about to depart, Bandura stopped me. "I go first," he said. "I go first and come last." Before he went, Mariette sprang up, took off his cap, and kissed him lightly on the forehead.
I lived and worked with Bandura’s band for several days. They had their quarters in garrets above various small waterside saloons. The saloon owners, Greeks, Germans, Estonians, and even a Hindu, tolerated Bandura’s "activists" because they brought a lot of seamen with money to spend into the premises. We spent the day in the harbor, visiting ships, arguing with crew members, dis­tributing a small action paper written and printed by Bandura in English, German, and Swedish. Bandura had a remarkable aptitude for languages, but his orthography was atrocious. Nevertheless, the paper had punch. It appeared, as stated under the title, "when needed." Its name was Our Rudder.
Came the day when Bandura informed me that he had a ship for me to go to Liverpool. The ship, a British weekly steamer, was to sail from Ghent. In the night and in a pouring rain, a young Lett and I started out on the highway to Ghent. Toward morning, a half-tipsy businessman on his way to the Kortryck cotton ex­change invited us to ride in his car, and two hours later he dropped us near the imposing old castle of the Counts of Flandres in the heart of the town.
The following night I was on my way to Liverpool in the coal-bunker of a little weekly tramp. Lying on sacks spread over the coal, a packet of sandwiches as a pillow, I counted the beams overhead and the raindrops which came through a crack in the bunker hatch. Hardly out of the canal, which connects Ghent with the North Sea, I was discovered by a trimmer who entered the bunker with a smoking kerosene lamp. I gave the trimmer ten of the sixteen shillings in silver from Bandura’s treasury. He agreed to say nothing. For the ten shillings he supplied me with a blanket and food,—on British weekly boats seamen buy and prepare their own provisions,—and kept me informed of the vessel’s progress along the coasts of England and Wales. North of Bristol Channel we ran into fog; the plaintive yells of the siren continued until we reached the Mersey after a scant four-day voyage. I dug down into the coal during the customs examination, and when that was over, I scrubbed myself off in the stokehold, dousing pails of hot water over my head.
The working-class quarters of English cities are the most dreary in the world. The harbor gates are well guarded. By eleven o’clock, the whole city seems to be asleep except for staggering homeward-bounders and a few querulous whisky-Marys. I heartily disliked my new surroundings. Illegal shipping masters demanded four pounds in advance for an illegal berth on a Greek or Baltic tramp-ship. Two nights I slept in a boarding house for West Indian negroes, which was run by a toothless hag who charged ninepence per bed and night. I obtained meals during my cruises through the docks by washing dishes for ships’ cooks. By chance I fell in with crew members from a German steamer who told me that their ship was due to leave for the West Coast of North America.
The seamen with whom I spoke were, like most German seamen at that time, communist sympathizers. They supplied me with the remnants of a paillasse [19] and with it I climbed into the starboard coal bunker, and from there through a manhole in the after-bulk­head into hold number three. The cargo was pig iron. I put the ragged mattress on the pig iron and went to sleep. The thunder of winches on deck awakened me. "High tide," I told myself. The ship was on her way.
After a few hours, someone hailed me from the bunker. "All is clear—you can come out."
I crawled back into the bunker and out on deck. It was dusk. We had cleared the river, the pilot had gone, the land dropped down, and the clean horizon of the sea rose high. I went to the forecastle. The iron stove glowed red. I ate a good meal, answered questions, asked for news from Germany, and was content. Life seemed so infinitely sweet and rich.
After breakfast the following morning, I bathed and shaved, put on whatever clean clothes the comrades could spare, and went amidships to report myself to the captain.
The ship’s name was Eleonore, home port Hamburg, and she had been resurrected from a boneyard by an enterprising Jewish mer­chant named Regendanz, whose initial was painted in white on the Irithered green of the funnel. It turned out that Captain Walter, a stout, mild-mannered, white-haired man, with a huge head, had known my father well. He treated me with the utmost kindness. He was too pensive and gentle a man to deal with the rabid radi­calism of his crew.
"And in America," he asked me, "you intend to run away?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"I can’t blame you," he said sadly. "Germany is going to the dogs."
Without turning his head, he wiped a tear from his eye.
Among the Eleonore’s crew were men who had taken part in the wild voyage of the Lucy Wörman. Before leaving Hamburg, they had formed a syndicate of sailors and stokers, and laid in a con­traband cargo of liquor which they hoped to sell in the United States at a great profit. They drank it themselves instead. In the Caribbean, the engine room personnel became thoroughly drunk. The blazing sun and the heat reflected by the iron decks did the rest. Quarrels broke out, knives flashed, and a coal-heaver tottering away from a pursuer who was swinging a knife, went clear over the rail.
The ship was stopped and the drunken comrades of the coal-heaver fought some more in the attempt to man and lower a boat. When they were stopped, they became raving mad. The watch on deck, aided by volunteers from the watches below and led by the chief mate, a former submarine commander, overpowered the drunken stokers. It was an ugly job. Each man, and most of them were naked in the grim sunlight, had to be stunned by blows and then tied to ringbolts on the hatch-coamings and drenched with cold water. Meanwhile a sailor whose name was Ronaikal swam out to the man who had fallen overboard. He dragged him to the ship’s side and both were hauled aboard with bowlines. The coal-heaver was dead.
For me this was a lucky break. I signed the ship’s articles and became a regular crew member in the drowned man’s place. I be­came a coal-heaver, carting coal in a wheelbarrow from the reserve bunkers to the fires on the watch from twelve to four. So, when the Eleonore steamed into San Pedro harbor two weeks later, the immigration officers had no reason to detain me as a stowaway.
I was jubilant to be back in America. Here a man could roam over a whole continent without being accosted by a border guard.
I deserted ship the first night in San Pedro, slept in a Mexican colony of shacks known as "Happy Valley," and in the morning I walked into the nearest lumber yard and asked the foreman for a job. He hired me on the spot at five dollars a day.
Ten days I worked in the lumber yard. Half of my earnings I sent to Bandura. The following five days, I worked in a sardine cannery in Wilmington. Then I was discharged, having been caught lugging a case of canned sardines to the I.W.W. hall where traveling delegates slept on crude benches. I had a high admiration for those ingenious and resolute invaders who traveled a thousand miles on freight trains with nothing more than a red card and a dollar or two. A few days I worked in Los Angeles as a dish­washer. Then, with a young hobo from Iowa, I loafed through the orange plantations toward the town of San Bernardino, sleeping in the bungalow of a man who had the obsession that his mission was to build a church. For a bed and breakfast I promised him to collect a ton of stones for his church. We struck a bargain; but he happened to be a homosexual. The bargain ended with the builder of churches yelling for help, with sudden flight as my lot. In the San Bernardino mountains, I leaped aboard the first freight train that toiled slowly up an incline. It carried me across a most dismal stretch of desert and at a village called Barstow I was obliged to get off. I was promptly arrested by a cheerful ruffian with a gun in his holster and a badge on his chest. He told me to choose be­tween going to jail for vagrancy or going to work on a bridge construction job in the desert. I chose the job, and the deputy sheriff drove me to a railway camp.
"Ho, Mr. Robinson," he called. "Here’s a stiff who wants to work."
I went to work. I carried cement sacks on my shoulder, from a shed to a greedy concrete mixer, at a run, ten hours a day at fifty cents an hour, with an angry sun beating down from a cloudless sky. Cement mixing with sweat entered my pores and hardened. I shivered through a cold night in a boxcar crowded with Mexican fellow-workers. In the morning, the deputy sheriff came around to see if I was still there. The second night I pretended to go to sleep, but slipped out into the night when all was quiet. The stars shone brilliantly. The yellow mountains loomed in the moonlight. With­out regrets, I abandoned two days’ pay and boarded the first freight toward the coast. It was a cattle train. While I clung precariously to the lattice work of the cars, the wheels thundering beneath me and striking showers of sparks, I felt the tongues of cattle inside run over my hands and wrists. I managed to climb to the roof of the car and there I fell asleep. When I awoke, it was daylight and the train had stopped. A man stood above me, prodding, me with his foot.
"Got a gun on you?"
“No.”
"Get up. Raise your arms."
He searched me. Then he ordered me to climb down and walk ahead of him to a station house. I asked the man who he was. "I’m a special officer of the Southern Pacific Railroads," he said. Then I asked him to let me go. He demanded a dollar. I gave him the dollar and he commanded me to get out of town.
"What town is this?"
"San Berdoo," he said.
A man in a big blue car offered me a ride. I accepted. He was a cameraman who had traveled far and wide. He drove at breakneck speed. When I got out of his car, stiff-legged and tired, I stood in front of the William Fox Studios in Hollywood.
In a cafeteria on one of the boulevards a fat man was looking for pirates. I told him I was a sailor. Deeply bronzed, without a haircut for many weeks, and wearing only dungarees and a blue shirt with its sleeves cut off, I looked fit enough for a pirate. The fat man hired me at seven dollars a day, for two days.
In the early morning I and a horde of other dark-haired and sun-scorched men were loaded into comfortable trucks and taken to the San Pedro waterfront where three imitations of old galleons were moored to a wharf. We boarded the galleons and were towed out toward Catalina Island. Those among us who were not dark enough were painted brown. Some, half naked and in chains, be­came galley slaves; others, armed with swords, axes and knives, became pirates. Directors, assistants, cameramen rushed about and mapped directions. The stars, Milton Sills among them, came in motor-boats. The day went by in filming a battle at sea. Ships were rammed, boarding parties flew at each other’s throats, whips cracked over the backs of the rovers, men pitched overboard, and slaves ran amok. Between the scenes everybody drank lemonade and played dice for dimes and quarters. This went on until the gin stood low. The second day passed in similar ways. The galley slaves who had been painted brown were warned not to wash or bathe overnight.
During one of the intervals, between two spurious battles, I ran into Ronaikal, my former shipmate who had fished the drowned coalheaver out of the Caribbean. He seemed quite prosperous. His alertness and perseverance, together with his fine physique and a quick mental grasp of things, had carried him to an average of five days of work weekly with various motion picture companies. Since the filming of further sea battles was delayed, Ronaikal took me to a casting office on Spring Street and introduced me to a man who was then corraling teamsters for a Wild West produc­tion. I became a teamster. The pay was five dollars. The job con­sisted of driving a covered wagon, one among hundreds in action, at top speed down a long grassy slope of a location farm about twenty miles out of Hollywood. At first I had difficulties; I had never touched or handled a horse before. But the natural liking I had for dogs and horses enabled me rapidly to manage the team as well as the next man. Finally a wheel came off, and my wagon capsized. One of the megaphone men yelled enthusiastically, "Fine! Fine!"
One evening in the large dormitory of the York Hotel, where I lived, I met Virchow, one of my comrades from Hamburg. He had deserted from the Westphalia in New York and had come to the West Coast on one of the Luckenbach ships. He showed me letters received from Party members in Germany. The German courts were grinding out wholesale sentences against communists for treason, insurrection, rioting, conspiracy and murder. Many had been sentenced to death, but all such sentences had been com­muted to life imprisonment. Among those who were condemned for life was one of my friends who had helped to storm the Eimsbüttel police station, Wilhelm Willendorf, a big-boned, sad-looking, fearless militant.
The effect which this news had on me was overwhelming. The hatred I felt for a system which destroys in cold blood the best sons of the working class was so great that I was speechless for several minutes. Inside I boiled with helpless rage, and with shame! Over there in Germany comrades went into dungeons for life, and here was I—well on my way to enjoy the Hollywood humbug. Virchow pulled a soiled sheet of printed paper from his kit-bag and handed it to me. I stared at it. It bore the title, "Sturm"—Tempest—and a subtitle, "By Seamen—For Seamen." It was an underground newspaper printed by the marine section of the Com­munist Party of Germany. Its contents were inflammatory. They gripped me and shook me through and through.
"I’m going back to fight," I said.
Virchow drew back. "Germany is the lousiest, toughest coun­try in the world," he mumbled. "I’ll never go back."
"Then you’re a deserter."
"And what are you?"
"I’m going back."
I threw away a fair chance for a peaceful life. I journeyed to San Pedro and pestered the skippers and mates of every ship bound for Europe. The captain of the United American Lines freighter Montpelier signed me on as an able-bodied seaman. Thirty days later, under a gloomy North Sea sky, the Montpelier maneuvered through the locks and moored in Antwerp’s Siberia Dock.

I went looking for Mariette. She was gone from her old place, and I concluded that she had moved to another street. So I made the rounds of the haunts of Bandura’s band—Rose of England, Monico Sam, Café Belgenland, Helgoland Bar, Susie’s Paradise. I found him in a Chinese drinking place on Brouversvliet. He looked as gaunt and hungry and dauntless as ever.
"The girl Mariette has died," Bandura said mournfully. "She was more lovable than all the debutantes west of the Rhine thrown together. We gave her a fine funeral."
I sipped my tea silently. Bandura growled:
"Take off your cap in honor of Mariette."
I took off my cap. Bandura told me about her funeral. He and his helpers had devoted two full days to collect money aboard the ships to bury Mariette with revolutionary honors. At night they had raided the parks and a number of private gardens, and had collected a mountain of fresh greens and spring flowers. They had carried her coffin on their own shoulders, and a train of waterfront agitators of many nationalities had followed them with red and black flags. Bandura had made a speech over the open grave. The inscription on the tombstone, Bandura told me, read: "Mariette, who loved and aided the toilers of the sea."
"I’m glad you did it that way," I said.
"Rest assured," Bandura said with a melancholy grin: "No de­cent whore has ever had more sincere mourners, nor was one ever buried with greater dignity."
I made a violent attempt to break the spell of sadness, and shouted for beer. A plump young waitress with a bloated face brought beer. She put it on the table, then she suddenly ran her arm down Bandura’s neck through the opening of his shirt.
"Beer for me too?" she cried.
Bandura pushed her away. "Off with you," he snarled. "You stink."
"How goes your waterfront campaign?" I inquired. Bandura leaned forward and, with a coughing laugh, replied:
"Well, very well. Right after we had closed Mariette’s grave, with all my boys assembled, the gendarmerie swooped down on us. We all went to jail for one night. A day later we were deported, some to France, others to Holland. The following night, we all turned around, and back to Antwerp we came."

Chapter Eight - PASSAGE TO CONSPIRACY

DURING THE THREE DAYS my ship remained at Antwerp I spent every free hour with Bandura and his followers, who had greatly increased in numbers in the months of my absence. Each week ships from Helsingfors, Reval and Riga had carried to Antwerp a batch of stowaways,—mostly political fugitives, all em­bittered, all accustomed to a hard and frugal way of existence. Among them Bandura moved like an uncrowned king; he was their leader because he lived as they lived, worked as they worked, and still proved himself the most able in this crew. He now had estab­lished contacts with bands of political harbor marauders in Mar­seilles, Bordeaux, London, Cardiff, Rotterdam and even in Oran of the North African coast, and in Strasbourg, the shipping center on the upper Rhine. He corresponded and co-operated with I.W.W. units on the American West Coast, and with anarchist groups in Spanish and Latin American ports.
One of Bandura’s new followers was Ilja Weiss, an "activist" in my early Hamburg days. Weiss was the Hungarian who had slapped a pot of paint in the face of an officer of the Hamburg harbor police. The German police had pushed him clandestinely into Holland. Arrested again in Rotterdam, the Dutch police had pushed him into Belgium. I met Weiss in a half-dark backroom of a saloon.
"You are still a communist?" he demanded.
"Certainly."
"Well, then you must know what we have set out to do in Bandura’s outfit."
I listened. Weiss worked in close co-operation with my former chief, Albert Walter, in Hamburg. The German Communist Party had emerged out of the short period of illegality which had fol­lowed the bloody October, and Walter had re-established head­quarters in the Rothesoodstrasse, near the Hamburg waterfront, directing from there communist maritime activities in all parts of the world for the Profintern—the Red International of Labor Unions. The task of this organization, founded in 1920 as an aux­iliary to the Comintern, was to conquer all existing trade unions or, where domination proved impossible, to wreck these unions and to set up communist bodies in their place.
The Comintern had delegated Ilja Weiss and others to steal Bandura’s organization away from its creator and leader, for whom the Comintern had no use because he stubbornly refused to take orders. Twice attempts had been made to bribe Bandura by offer­ing him a lucrative position in the All-Russian Transport Union in Leningrad, but the Ukrainian had derisively refused.
I admired Bandura and I felt an honest contempt for Ilja Weiss. He insinuated that a campaign had been launched by the com­munist faction to spread the rumor that Bandura was a narcotics addict, and that he used most of the money donated by seamen to keep several mistresses in idle luxury. The circumstances of Mariette’s burial were to serve as a salient point in this intrigue. Ilja Weiss suggested that I should spread among the "activists" in every port of call the word that Bandura was a crook, that he led a double life, pretending to be a pioneer of workers’ welfare, but that his private life was that of a bourgeois libertine.
"Bandura is nothing of the sort," I said.
"Maybe not," Weiss countered. "But politically, he is an irre­sponsible blackguard."
"Why can’t we acknowledge Bandura’s leadership?"
"We’d never be sure in a revolutionary crisis that he wouldn’t break away with slogans of his own. He’s too damned independent. How do we know he doesn’t get paid by the shipowners?"
"That’s ridiculous."
Weiss’s greenish eyes were small and bright. "Bandura makes no difference between a fascist dictatorship and the dictatorship of the proletariat," he went on. "Every government is tyranny in his eyes. In a war against the Soviet Union, he would refuse to campaign for Russia. We must get rid of him. He is a counter-revolutionary in disguise."
"Prove it!" I cried out in a fury.
"Bandura carries on his agitation aboard Soviet ships," Weiss said with subdued ferocity. "He tells the Russian seamen that they have a right to go on strike for better food and higher pay. What is that?"
I was silent. Weiss added:
"It is one thing to strike against the capitalists; it is an entirely different thing to go on strike against a socialist state."
I was deeply disturbed. What Ilja Weiss had told me of the com­munist offensive to control the waterfronts made my heart beat faster. In the end we would win; the red flags of freedom and equality would fly over the most distant ocean; sailors would be masters of their ships; precious cargoes would be carried to fill the needs of peoples and not the shipowners’ pockets. I was resolved to do my share to carry communism to victory on the seas. So would Bandura, I had felt sure, whose readiness to lay down his life for the workers’ cause was beyond all doubt. And now came Weiss who said that Bandura was a foe of social revolution, and an enemy of the Soviet Union! This was my first encounter with the ruthless intolerance of a monolithic creed toward all individual independence of attitude and thinking. It was not Weiss who had originated the plan to defame and to break Bandura; he was simply carrying out a command. He was a Bolshevik of the East European school who would not shrink from murdering his own brother if his chiefs told him that such an act would bring victory a tiny step closer. Without such men, and such blind loyalty, the Comintern could not survive. Disloyalty I detested. A traitor was not worth a bullet. Yet, I recognized the hideous alternative: if Ilja Weiss spoke the truth, a refusal to betray Bandura would make me appear as a traitor to the communist cause.
Before the Montpelier left Antwerp, I asked Bandura point-blank: "Are you for workers’ power in Russia?"
His gaunt face contracted as if under a spasm of pain. He fished some Dobbelman tobacco out of his hip pocket, rolled a cigarette, and lit it. Then he said calmly:
"I know why you ask this. Yes, I am for a free society of work­ers, but in Russia the workers have no power and no real freedom. No Party can give the workers freedom. For freedom they must fight themselves."
"The communists lead them in this fight," I protested.
"Most communists I know are fine, brave men," Bandura said. "Only their leaders—bah!" His arms flew out in a gesture of de­spair. "They are mutton thieves," he added fiercely.
My attempt to change Bandura’s views was futile. Ilja Weiss had his way.

The Montpelier steamed to Hamburg. I had apprehensions that the police would arrest me for my part in the October insurrection. But my steamer flew the Stars and Stripes of America, a welcome flag in any German port, and the police did not bother the crew. I hired an unemployed German to work in my place as long as the ship was in Hamburg, and went ashore to report to Albert Walter.
The aspect of Walter’s office had changed. There were new desks, new filing cabinets, and large new maps on the walls. There was a large reading-room, well equipped with communist newspapers in many languages, and a "Lenin library." The ground floor of the building was occupied by a hall for meetings and a restaurant in which drinks were served. The place was crowded with seamen and their girls, and a sprinkling of "activists" was at work to shape the opinions of the visitors. Officially the building was known as the International Port Bureau, the first in a chain of seamen’s clubs which was to encircle the earth in years to come,—centers of propaganda and a growing communist power on the waterfront.
Albert Walter, brown-skinned and massive, was enthusiastic over his work and hungry for the smallest details related to shipping.
"Write down all names and addresses, conditions you’ve found in sailors’ boarding houses, seamen’s missions, shipping offices, jails, and describe the methods of customs examinations in different ports, places where you crossed the border, and how you got into England. Forget nothing. Small items can be of great value to us. We’re reaching out with all sails set."
I wrote the report. The same night I was called to Walter’s private quarters. He lived in a modest third-floor apartment, together with his mother, a small, agile woman whose life revolved around her energetic son. Also present was Walter’s trusted secretary, a fanatic young blonde named Gertrude G., and two men I had not seen before.
The two men were Atchkanov, a Russian, and Ryatt, a Lett. Both had a mandate from Moscow to act as advisers to Albert Walter in the international drive for communist domination of shipping. Atchkanov was a lively little man with a mop of unruly gray hair and restless button-eyes. He was Zinoviev’s right-hand man in marine problems. Ryatt was tall and lean, with a bony, noncommittal face. He was a specialist in communist war fleet or­ganization. Later in 1931, he became the director of the Comintern passport forging bureau, with offices on the Ogorodnikova in Leningrad.
"Ah, a real sailor," Atchkanov muttered when I entered.
Old Mrs. Walter poured Caucasian wine into glasses, and Walter distributed excellent cigars. Atchkanov read a report from Ilja Weiss on the progress of efforts to take over Bandura’s organiza­tion. Turning to me, he said, "It was smart of you to establish a good personal relationship with Bandura." I replied that I had a hearty dislike for dishonest underground maneuvering.
Atchkanov smiled faintly. "Practical Bolshevism means the cor­rect combination of legal with illegal methods of work," he said. "Understand, dear comrade, that strategical maneuvers have an important place in our operations. And what is a strategical ma­neuver? We launch a ruthless offensive, while declaring openly that we are waging a purely defensive campaign. We feign friend­liness toward an implacable enemy so as to have a better chance to annihilate him in good time. These are strategical maneuvers."
"I like clear fronts," I said stubbornly. "If we fight someone, then why not make an open declaration of war? Trickery the workers will never understand. Why must we maneuver to bring one man to grief? The Comintern Congress gave us the direction, ’To power through conquest of the masses’."
"That is correct," interrupted Ryatt, who spoke in a harsh, stac­cato voice. "We must stay with the masses, bind ourselves to them, never act in isolation from the masses—except in conspirative tasks!"
All this I comprehended and accepted. But that Bandura, who had been kind to me, should be defamed, perhaps destroyed, in such a cold-blooded manner evoked my resentment. Atchkanov and Ryatt, with characteristic persistence and patience, persuaded and argued like clever older brothers. They trusted me, and appar­ently needed me, and it was no hard task for them to bend me to their will.
"More elasticity!" Atchkanov cried. "Bolshevist elasticity. Com­rade Lenin himself taught us that Bolshevist elasticity consists of the ability to change tactics and to employ the widest range of methods without ever losing sight of the one and only final goal."
To me, still a young communist, these men were heroic figures. In Atchkanov and his kind I then saw idealists who had behind them the overwhelming authority of the victorious Soviet Revolu­tion.
Atchkanov put his arm around my shoulder. "Comrade Walter has recommended you for a try-out in international work," he said. "You are still young in the movement, but you’ve done good work in the harbor and you’ve fought on the barricades."
I was somewhat embarrassed by his friendliness. "That’s noth­ing," I murmured.
Albert Walter guffawed: "Did you hear that? He says that’s nothing."
"One day on the barricades," observed Ryatt, "is worth three years of ordinary Party membership."
The instructions I received were, in short, as follows:
I was to keep my berth aboard the Montpelier and return to the Pacific Coast. Before leaving Europe, Ilja Weiss would arrange to have me appointed as Bandura’s delegate to the groups with which he had contacts in the harbors of California, with the aim of bring­ing these groups into Albert Walter’s network of harbor "activ­ists." I was to take with me large quantities of propaganda literature to be distributed in all ports of call. Forwarding addresses in San Pedro and San Francisco were agreed upon, for the shipping of further propaganda material in English, Spanish, and Japanese. The Spanish pamphlets were for distribution to Mexicans, to the dock­ers in Panama and the workers of the Panama Canal Zone. The Japanese material was to go to Honolulu and other places on the Hawaiian Islands. Wherever possible, I was to recruit sympathizing seamen from other ships to join in this distribution of propaganda literature. I was to attempt to find one "activist" in each port of call reliable enough to be supplied with money and instructions for the formation of "activist" brigades after the Hamburg model. I was to become a member of the International Seamen’s Union of Amer­ica, then under the conservative guidance of Andrew Furuseth, to form opposition cells in his organization in a drive for a militant class war policy. If possible, I was to foster contacts with men be­longing to the United States Coast Guard, particularly those who had gotten themselves into some sort of trouble, and forward their names and addresses to Albert Walter and Atchkanov. I was to "test"—by bribes—a certain official of the American Shipowners’ Association in Los Angeles Harbor as to his willingness to place communists aboard American ships. I was also to take close-up photographs and furnish a detailed description of a new harpoon gun used by the whaling ships of the California Sea Products Cor­poration, and to study and report upon the use of airplanes in the great tuna fisheries of Southern California. Finally, I was expected to send in regular reports on all I could find out about the economic conditions and political attitudes of American waterfront workers, particularly those engaged in the vast lumber industry and on the tankships of the Standard Oil Company.
This was a bulky order. Aside from the propaganda assign­ments, it savored of G.P.U. business.
"Don’t try to do everything at one time," Ryatt advised. "You know, before the war they sent me to prison for ten years. I soon learned I couldn’t do ten years all at once. I did one day at a time, and so it was easy. That is how you must do it."
Albert Walter saw me making notes. "Don’t write up too much," he said.
"But I can’t remember it all."
"Well, destroy your notes as soon as you do."
I was allowed forty American dollars a month with which to finance my work. Walter counted out the first three months’ budget in new American bills, and entered the sum he gave me in a tiny notebook. Walter added:
"And don’t fear that you’ll be alone in the wilderness. We’ve a great many comrades like you aboard the ships and active in the same field."
Soon all details were arranged for. As usual, I was not permitted to leave Albert Walter’s apartment before Ryatt and Atchkanov, who were in the country illegally, had departed. Ryatt shook hands with me gravely. Atchkanov beamed. He almost hugged me. "Do your job well," he said in his fluent Slavic German.
After they had gone, Albert Walter threw open all windows. He was in shirt sleeves. His big chest expanded. The skin of his arms and chest had the color of old teakwood. Gertrude G., his secretary, prepared to take dictation. She perked up, quiet and alert. "Life is a joyous affair," Walter rumbled. Relaxing, Gertrude smiled for the first time that evening.
Old Mrs. Walter, moving around like a faithful ghost, had cleared off the table. "Child," she suddenly told her burly son, "it’s eleven. You must go to bed."
He rose and gave her a resounding kiss.
"I’ll go now, Comrade Walter," I said.
"Mach’s gut [20]," he replied, "and I’ll stand by you through hell." The night was bright, and a warm wind blew. I strode toward the harbor. I felt the urge to sing. My blood, too, was singing.
The night before the Montpelier left Hamburg on her westward voyage was the right kind of a night for furtive doings. I volun­teered for the job of gangway watchman. All the members of the crew were ashore for a few last hours of gamboling with the Reeperbahn belles. The captain had locked himself in with two girls, a lot of wine and a substantial night-lunch, and the curtains on his cabin windows were drawn. Meanwhile, Albert Walter’s contact men worked with noiseless efficiency.
Large paper suitcases, heavily loaded, were smuggled aboard. The black initials on their outsides denoted the language in which the literature they contained was printed. And late at night a surreptitious visitor, a man whom I had least expected to see, ar­rived. He was Hugo Marx, the Hamburg Jack-of-all-trades for the G.P.U.
"I bring you a friend," he said. "He must go to Canada in safety. You must find him a place to stow away."
I already had too many duties to attend to without bothering about a stowaway.
"Comrade Walter gave me no instructions about it," I said. "Put him on another ship."
"No. He must go with you," Hugo Marx hissed.
"Who sent him?"
The G.P.U. man snapped viciously: "Why do you seek in­formation you don’t need?" I was put out over my own impulsiveness.
"Comrade Ryatt wishes this friend to go on your ship," Marx said in a more conciliatory tone.
There the matter ended. I had suspected that the newcomer was merely another illegal emigrant who paid the Party a few dollars for a passage. Now I knew he was not. He was a communist going out on Party business. It was not in my power to ask further questions.
Hugo Marx flashed a quick, cold smile, and departed. The new­comer addressed me in excellent English: "Have you anything to eat? I was in a devil of a hurry today. I’m as hungry as a wolf."
It was too dark on deck to see his features, but I saw enough to know that this stranger had a well-built body and broad shoulders. He was of medium height, and young. When I led him to the sailors’ mess room, which was situated on the after-part of the boat deck, a girl slipped out of the shadows and joined us.
"Who’s she?"
"My girl," the newcomer said.
"Is she going to Canada, too?" I asked in consternation. "Oh, no," was the answer.
We had coffee, bread and cold beef in the mess room. I real­ized almost immediately that the newcomer was a communist of exceptional ability. His name was Michel Avatin, a Lett. He was a former waterfront organizer for the Communist Party in Riga. He had been in Russia, and he had worked for the Comintern in England. He called himself Lambert, and he had a good British passport in that name which he handed to me for safekeeping during the voyage. Obviously he was not of proletarian family; he gave me the impression of being the descendant of a family of officers, or of having been a cadet or a junior naval officer him­self. He radiated quiet self-reliance. He knew ships. His move­ments were swift and his appearance rather smart. His face was smooth, clean-cut and tanned. His hair was light and silky. His eyes were a steady gray, but they had, like his nose, an indefin­able Asiatic quality. His mouth was thin and hard. He was as different from Bandura as any revolutionary "activist" could pos­sibly be. I liked him instantly. So, I felt, did he like me. In Michel Avatin I met one of the most extraordinary figures in the subter­ranean Apparat of the Comintern.
The girl was very young, not more than nineteen. She was small and trim, and she had a somewhat ugly but highly intelligent face. She was Jewish, and a native of Warsaw. Michel Avatin called her Malka. Her full name was Malka Stifter. They had met and fallen in love while attending a political school in Moscow a year earlier.
I found a good hiding place for Avatin. From the Montpelier’s spar-deck a vertical wooden hatch opened into cargo hold number three. At sea or in port this hatch was never used. I supplied Avatin with a blanket and a can containing a gallon of water, and arranged to lower a package of food for him through an airshaft at a certain hour each night. This was convenient, because I was on duty dur­ing the watch from twelve to four. The cargo in hold number three consisted of English textiles, crockery and shoes in packing cases, which we arranged to form a comfortable cave below the waterline. Before he slipped into his hiding place, Avatin said to me:
"I will take Malka into my arms. Who knows, each time may be the last."
The third mate’s cabin was empty. Two days before, the third mate had had a fight with the Montpelier’s chief officer, who was a most picturesque ruffian, with the result that the third mate deserted the ship. In the deserter’s cabin Michel and Malka had their fare­well embrace while I stood outside on guard. Then Malka slipped out, waving her hand to say good-by, and hastened ashore. The blackness between the cranes and sheds swallowed her. A little later Avatin came on deck.
"I am ready," he said.
The Montpelier left Hamburg. It took twenty days to steam from the North Sea to Panama, and twelve from Panama to San Pedro in Southern California. I read much during this voyage. The librarian of the Hamburg Port Bureau had supplied me with many books and pamphlets.

While crossing the North Atlantic, during my watches below, I would crawl at night into hold number three to pay short visits to Michel Avatin. Once he told me he had found a triangular iron scraper, and with it contrived to break open three packing cases to explore their contents. One contained shoes, and Avatin had found a pair that fitted him. The second case contained rayon stockings. The third, toys. From now on he amused himself with stuffing ladies’ stockings into Oxford shoes. Then he sorted out all the left-foot shoes, and packed them into the case which originally held only stockings. That accomplished, he closed both cases with minute care.
"Two unknown merchants are due for a nightmare," he ob­served, adding: "I did not touch the toys. Toys are for children."
Sometimes we had brief talks of a more serious nature. Michel Avatin was bound for Vancouver. He volunteered no information about his assignment there, and I asked no questions. Hugo Marx’s ominous "Why do you seek information you don’t need?" still rang in my brain. It was the fundamental law of all conspirative work that no man should know more about the secrets of his organization than was essential for him to carry out his own particular duty.
One morning, twelve days out of Hamburg, an engineer an­nounced that a stowaway had been discovered aboard the Montpelier. I rushed on deck. There, in the brilliant sunlight, hands in pockets, stood Michel Avatin. When he saw me, he gave no sign of recognition. It appeared that before daylight two members of the engine room crew had entered number three hold on a pilfering expedition. When they came, Avatin crawled into the farthest corner of the hold. But the invaders used flashlights, and began to break open a few boxes. Either the lights were noticed on deck, or the sounds of hammering and splintering wood were heard. Officers investigated. The pilferers fled in time, but Michel Avatin was discovered.
He was quite calm about it. He was given a spare berth in the sailors’ forecastle, and was put to work with the deckhands. But when the Montpelier entered the Panama Canal, Avatin was put in irons and locked up in a little storeroom next to the chief mate’s cabin. Canal officials came aboard and questioned him. I was so nervous I could hardly keep my mind on the ship’s work and the distribution of my Spanish propaganda tracts. I put aside a chisel, a hammer and a fire-ax, and thought of ways to liberate my com­rade. When the steamer nosed into the Gatun locks, I found an unguarded minute in which to speak to Avatin through the tiny porthole in his prison.
"I can give you an ax to smash the door," I said. "I’ll make you a raft. You can jump overboard and paddle ashore."
Michel Avatin shook his head. "I have no business in Panama," he replied. "I am going to Vancouver."
"All the same, they’ll keep you locked up in every port." "Don’t worry. I’ll get out when I want to."
"Do you want the ax?" I asked.
"No. You may give me some tobacco."
"All right."
"And don’t forget," Avatin muttered. "I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Savvy?"
"Savvy.”
Out at sea again, on the Pacific side, Avatin was released and put back to work. We avoided speaking to one another, except at night and in secluded spots. I cultivated an acquaintanceship with Sparks, the radio operator, to learn what would be done with the stowaway when the ship entered American ports. I feared he would be taken off to jail. But I was soon reassured. The usual procedure with stowaways was to lock them up aboard ship in every American port of call, and to chase them back ashore in the first European harbor. Ports of call were San Pedro, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. Avatin decided to remain quietly aboard in all United States ports, but to make a dash for freedom in Van­couver, after lulling the Montpelier’s officers into believing that he was a peaceful and docile individual. He had given the captain a false name, and he was unafraid of impending question­ing by United States immigration officials.
One of the ship’s oilers, a Hawaiian, made a duplicate key to Avatin’s prison cell from a wax impression the Lett had managed to make of the lock. In addition to the key, all Michel Avatin needed was a good file to saw through his irons when the time to escape had come. Meanwhile he made friends with almost every­one of the crew, which was not difficult since seamen have a natural respect for anyone who shows himself to be a willing and capable hand in ship’s work. Besides, Avatin was adept as a barber, a craft he had learned in a Latvian jail. Among those on whom he practiced his skill was the captain of the Montpelier himself. When the steamer dropped anchor in the outer harbor of San Pedro, to wait for the arrival of the port doctor and the customs and immi­gration authorities, Avatin was locked up again, but this time no irons were clamped over his wrists.
For three days the Montpelier discharged cargo in San Pedro. I contacted some of the waterfront delegates of the I.W.W., and tried to convince them of the necessity to build an international revolutionary organization of seamen and dockers. I argued: "The marine industry is international, and its rulers can only be beaten by international strikes. Of what good are strikes on American ships in American ports when three-fourths of the American mer­chant marine is at sea or in foreign harbors? An effective strike calls for the stopping of American ships all over the world, and to do this it is imperative to have an international fighting organization of seamen. The same goes for shipping of other nations." The Wobblies admitted that my argument was sound. "Well," I con­tinued, "the foundation of such an international organization has been created, with headquarters in Hamburg, and traveling organ­izers are on the job all over the world to spread the idea and to enlist the assistance of radical waterfront groups in all important harbors."
I did not disclose that this campaign had been inaugurated and was backed by the power of Moscow and the Comintern. That was not necessary. Once a wide range of auxiliary groups had been harnessed to the scheme, the communist units would see to it that all key positions came under communist control. Essential to the success of the plan was a penetration into the conservative International Seamen’s Union of America by adherents of the "Ham­burg Program."
At six in the morning, an hour before the regular ship’s work began, I was up again distributing leaflets and pamphlets among several thousand longshoremen who had assembled in a large shed near the waterfront where the stevedore bosses recruited their men for the day. The remnants of my Spanish literature I distributed in the shack colony of "Happy Valley," where most of the Mexican harbor workers lived. So, on each of three mornings, about two thousand pieces of Atchkanov’s propaganda found their way into the hands and—I hoped—brains of the marine workers in Los Angeles Harbor. It was clear that if this were done only once a week by delegates from various ships, the propaganda wave could soon be followed up by concrete organization. Regular Communist Party units among the waterfront workers of the West Coast wcre still practically non-existent in 1924.
The Montpelier left San Pedro and steamed to San Francisco. Here again Michel Avatin permitted himself to be locked up and questioned by immigration officers. I paid off in San Francisco. My leave-taking from Michel Avatin was brief. I expressed misgivings as to his predicament. He answered with hard-boiled humor: "The British Empire is my pet. When it capsizes one fine day, I’m going to get a decoration in Moscow. Until then, attack and never tremble." I returned his British passport to him, and went on my way.
"Greet my girl Malka, should you see her," were Avatin’s part­ing words.

Since that foggy morning in San Francisco, Michel Avatin has crossed my path many times. But neither he nor I ever saw Malka Stifter again. Her story is one of the countless tragedies which mark the trails of Comintern campaigns.
For years Avatin roved through many parts of the British Em­pire, on more or less important secret missions, until, in 1929, he was trapped in London by Scotland Yard agents. With G.P.U. aid, he escaped and subsequently joined the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. Malka, meanwhile, was engaged on assignments in various countries of Eastern Europe. Unhesitatingly, she sacrificed her youth and her love to the cause. In the Comintern she won a rep­utation for having a natural talent for the dangerous "disintegra­tion" work among soldiers and police. She worked in the Baltic countries, in Yugoslavia,—the graveyard of Bolsheviki,—and in Poland. The strong positions secured by the Comintern in the Polish army were largely a result of Malka’s persistent efforts. The later mutinies of 1931 in Skiernivice, Lodz, and Nova-Vileiko were due in part to Malka Stifter’s groundwork. Finally she was arrested by the political police of Poland. In violation of Party orders, Ava­tin made a hazardous dash to Poland to find a way to liberate his girl. He did not succeed. Reports of the treatment Malka suffered at the hands of Police Inspector Zaremba, in the prison of Lwov, kindled in Michel Avatin that monumental hatred of policemen and police spies which later transformed him into a merciless profes­sional spy-hunter and executioner. Many weeks of torture failed to extract from Malka the names of communists engaged in Polish military work. But they broke her in the end. In the prison infir­mary, she gave away the names of her comrades after Police In­spector Zaremba, a sadistic fiend, had on two occasions inserted hot pieces of iron into her sexual organ. This atrocity occurred late in December, 1930, and was repeated in the second week of January, 1931. Communists released from Lwov prison brought the report to Berlin. Georgi Dimitrov, then head of the Berlin bureau, considered Malka a traitress. But Avatin, nevertheless, caused her name to be placed on the honor roll of communist martyrs.

Chapter Nine - I ATTACK THE PACIFIC

WITH THE ZEAL OF A CRUSADER, I struck out on my career of an underground worker on the Pacific Coast.
For a week I collected information about the Coast Guard service. I haunted the Coast Guard pier at the end of the Embarcadero, and struck up acquaintances with sailors on cutters moored after a turn of patrol at sea. I studied the requirements for enrollment in the service, and followed the men on shore-leave to learn all I could about the haunts they frequented. Late at night, I would steal aboard the cutters and place communist tracts where they would be found by the crews in the morning. At the end of the week, to round out the picture, I went to the Coast Guard sta­tion and applied for an official Lifeboat Certificate. Two Coast Guard captains subjected me to a rigid examination on the spot. Together with other applicants, I manned a lifeboat and pulled out into the bay for a test of seamanship. One of the officers, Captain Anderson, a rough old sea-dog, barked commands for maneuvers he wanted us to execute. That over, the second captain, whose name was Patricius, took charge of the theoretical end of the examination. Among the eight applicants present, I was the only one who passed the test. I received a document, signed by Captain Patricius, to the effect that I was a certified lifeboat man. With this paper in my pocket, I felt safer. That night I wrote a report to Albert Walter, detailing the information I had gathered on the possibilities of communist penetration into the Coast Guard service.
The following five months I roamed the West Coast from Puget and to San Diego. Rarely did I stop for longer than a week in any one place. Every steamer of the Roland Line brought conents of propaganda literature from Hamburg, and I faithy distributed every piece of it, not even shying from such important ports as Santa Barbara or Eureka or Newport, Oregon.
oney I did not receive; Albert Walter’s letters complained of his heavy financial obligations elsewhere. I traveled many thousands miles in these months, but my traveling expenses were almost nil. The coastwise vessels on which I shipped to go from one harbor to another were the lumber carriers Robert Johnsen and Grays Harbor, the freighter Admiral Sebree and the passenger liner Dorothy Alexander. Often I traveled as stowaway, chiefly using the Yale and Harvard, which were the fastest ships on the Coast.
During these months I never had a drink, never a real day rest, and never did I go out with a girl. I lived only for the cause. Yet at times I was bitterly lonely. There was a night when I sat a pile of timbers in the harbor of Tacoma, broken-down and ready to give up and desert. "Life," I thought, "could be so pleasant, easy, if only I would strike out for myself; I could learn a trade, start a business, have a big new car and a good home, and life. would be all velvet and sweet!" A moment later I became so angry at my own bourgeois thoughts that I snatched a piece of wood from the ground and crashed it over my own head.
Albert Walter, Atchkanov and Ryatt had reason to be content with me. By the end of November, I had brought the Hamburg bureau in contact with small but fairly stable "activist" groups in Seattle, Grays Harbor, Portland, Astoria, San Francisco, and San Pedro. I now decided to invade Hawaii.
In Hamburg I had been given the name of an official of the American Shipowners’ Association who had been reported as bribable by one of Albert Walter’s scouts. This official, we were led to believe, would ship any man on any desired ship for a fee of ten dollars, with no questions asked. It was important to have such man at hand, and it was equally important that he should have no suspicion that he was assisting communist agitators to entrench• themselves in strategic shipping lines. Albert Walter and Atchkanov had put it up to me to follow this lead, and to put it to practical test.
It was easy. I went to San Pedro and asked for Mr. X., a tall, handsome, smooth-faced young man, in the offices of the Ship­owners’ Association. I had labored two days to make a little sailship model in a bottle, and this I presented to Mr. X. He was pleased. The following morning I wrote him a note, reading: "Please get me a ship to Honolulu." I put it into an envelope, together with ten dollars, and slipped it on his desk. Before the week had passed, I was called up for a sailor’s berth aboard the Calawaii, one of the luxury liners of the Los Angeles Steamship Company. Asked by the chief officer if I was an American citizen, I said: "Yes, sir." I was signed on without further ado.
The Calawaii, painted a cool tropical white from stem to stern, was a regular vessel of the Hawaiian trade. In the course of each round trip of three weeks, the steamer spent a week in island waters with Honolulu and Hilo as the chief ports of call. Before she sailed, I lived through a hectic night, smuggling aboard my accumulated stock of suitcases and packages full of propaganda literature in the Japanese language.
The passage to Honolulu was balmy. The wild, warm, rock­bound face of Molokai, and Diamond Head pushing its gleaming snout out into the sapphire sea, seemed to laugh serenely at the con­ception that revolution could ever come to ride these shores. The white breakers foaming over purple cliffs, the wheeling gulls and the lush green of the hills belched gay derision at the puny prose­lyte of Lenin; they made me think of peacefully humming fisher­men, of full-throated brown maidens with enticing hips, and of Captain Cook. Dark youngsters dived for coins in the harbor, and on the wharf the fat brown musicians of the Royal Hawaiian Band hurled a musical welcome. But beyond the crowd of bright-eyed, brightly dressed people, with flame-colored leis around their necks, I saw what I had searched for: —a fringe of Mongolian faces rising above faded dungarees and often sleeveless denim shirts. The proletariat! I was reassured.
I found that forty percent of the population was Japanese, with Filipinos, Chinese and Portuguese the next strongest groups. Most of the Chinese became tradesmen and merchants. The real working class of Honolulu is Portuguese-Hawaiian-Japanese, with an influx of negro blood on the Portuguese side, while the plantation proletariat of the island is mainly Filipino. Contrary to the Comintern’s practice in other "semi-colonial" countries, no nationalist slogans could be raised in Hawaii, since each race there is confronted by a majority of all other races. Moreover, in the streets of Honolulu words like "half-caste" or "half-breed" are taboo. All I saw and heard and read then about the racial and social constellations on the Hawaiian Islands I incorporated in a rambling thirty-page report which I dispatched to Hamburg. Five years later, in 1930, I saw this report in Moscow, in the office of Losovsky, whose real name is S. A. Dridzo, the chief of the International Propaganda and Action Committees of the Profintern. It was marked in red pencil, "Sehr interessant." And a sentence which stated that Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and English propaganda literature should be spread concurrently in Honolulu was also heavily underlined in red.
On this first voyage, all I had for distribution were tracts and leaflets in Japanese. I saw to it that the wharves of Honolulu and Hilo were littered with them for days. I deposited them in bundles of fifty and more in waterfront ice-cream parlors, in speakeasies, and in the numerous Japanese "massage-salons" which functioned as substitutes for brothels for the poor. I retained my job aboard the Calawaii and returned with her to San Pedro to pick up, in addi­tion to Japanese, all the Spanish and English propaganda material I could obtain. During my second trip to the Islands, I boarded every vessel in Honolulu harbor, including the small coastal steamers, two Japanese ships, and the square-rigged sailship Tusitala of New York. I was put to flight by the officers of several steamers of the Matson Line and the Dollar Steamship Company, but I found promising young sympathizers aboard the liners City of Los Angeles and Molokai and aboard the Tusitala. Their names I sent on to Hamburg, so that "activists" in other ports could be notified to continue the work of building communist units on these ships. In Hilo, I hired a taxicab for a six-hour drive through sugar and pineapple plantations. Whenever I saw Filipino laborers at work. I would shout to attract their attention and then fling handfuls of leaflets in Spanish out of the car. A man with a martial red
mustache took up the pursuit in a rattling Ford, and ordered me get off the land or go to jail. The taxi-driver apologized profusely We drove back to Hilo. This was, I believe, the first time in tory that the cry "Workers of the World, Unite!" was passed to the plantation coolies of Hawaii.
My third voyage between California and Honolulu gave me rare opportunity for personal contacts with a large number of Filipino workers. While in the port of Los Angeles, I noticed hundreds of rough wooden berths in three tiers were being built into the ’tweendecks of the Calawaii. When I asked for the purpose of these mass quarters, the bosun replied, "Slave transport. We were to carry to Honolulu a large consignment of plantation workers who had arrived from Luzon a few days earlier.
At sea, the Filipinos were not allowed to come on deck. The fact that the well-fed and well-groomed men and the sleek women of the first and second class could loaf and play and dance and make love in the sunshine and under the stars, while many times their number of dark-skinned toilers were forced to camp in the crowded, evil-smelling gloom of the ’tweendecks, aroused my anger and spurred me on to tireless activity. I spent more hours among the Filipinos than on deck or in the forecastle. These sons of the land of seven thousand islands may have looked like a dull and uniform mass of slaves to the complacent outsider, but the more I dug my­self into this mass and endeavored to become a part of it, the more I became aware that these men, who were fed on rice and treated like cattle, had well-defined personalities, hopes, and dreams and plans. They loved their homeland, and many of them were capable of making articulate their will to national independence. A good half of them could read, and about one-fourth could speak and understand English. The communist doctrine which in the case of oppressed peoples combines the slogans of class war with the struggle for national liberation, fell here, when translated into its simplest terms, on fertile soil. My Filipino listeners were visibly intrigued when I expounded to them the doctrine that all men, no matter what the color of their skin, were entitled to equal rights, that the first step of the fight for equal rights was the fight for equal wages with white workers, and that the best method of accomplishing that was through strikes at harvest time. I saw dusky faces light up with comprehension, and then they went on jabber­ing excitedly among themselves.
One of them, an elderly man with an almost herculean torso, asked me: "Is that the will of God?"
"Most certainly," I said. "God did not make rich men and poor men."
More than once, during idle moments, I felt the temptation to become a lazy and contented resident of Hawaii, the true land of flowers, champagne-like surf and tolerant living. But when I returned to San Pedro from my third voyage to the Islands, I found a letter from Hamburg awaiting me at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Y.M.C.A. As usual, it was written in a simple code—the alphabet starting with M, every fourth letter being invalid, the whole arranged something like a crossword puzzle to be read from right to left and from the bottom upward. Albert Walter wrote that his organization was preparing a world-wide campaign against seamen’s missions, and for this purpose he wanted material on the doings of the Seamen’s Church Institutes of America which were believed to be subsidized by the shipowners to neutralize the in­fluences of class-war propaganda. He also instructed me to collect accurate information on the living conditions of seamen aboard the tankships of the Standard Oil Company. Such information was necessary to formulate communist programs of demands for tanker crews. The Standard Oil Company was representative of Americas tank-shipping. Oil transports would play a vital role in future wars. Communist control of this branch of merchant shipping had been raised to a major issue in the action program of the Marine Section of the Comintern.
I left my berth on the Calawaii in February, 1925, and started out on a four weeks’ journey through the Seamen’s Church Institutes of the West Coast. The Seamen’s Institutes in American ports were the best in the world. They maintained reading-rooms libraries for seafaring men, they received and forwarded mail, served wholesome meals at lower prices than most restaurants, maintained a free employment service for deck and engine-room personnel, and offered legal advice to seamen. They often gave social evenings, dances and lectures for the men from the ships. They even showed motion pictures free of charge. Some of theta had dormitories and single rooms to provide cheap quarters far jobless seamen. The atmosphere in these institutions was clean and cheerful. There were no attempts at aggressive "soul-saving.” Neither were there any guards or bouncers, with the exception of the Seamen’s Institute in New York, a large building on South Street. No membership fees were exacted. Every mariner was wel­come as long as he did not disturb the peace of the house. Though they excluded drunks and questionable women, the Institutes were places where seamen liked to gather in idle shore hours to meet friends, to get their mail and to write their letters, to check their baggage, to read, and to play chess.
But from the communist point of view, the Seamen’s Institutes were agencies of the shipowners, created to preach docility and religion. They were looked upon as supply bases for strikebreakers and as espionage centers against the always numerous rebels and malcontents in the marine industry. So they had to be exposed and fought, tooth and nail. The plan for this campaign was originated in Moscow and Hamburg in 1924. It went along with the decision to establish communist International Seamen’s Clubs in all impor­tant harbors. And if the International Clubs (Interclubs) were to thrive as cultural, educational and political centers of the seafaring population, the Seamen’s Institutes had to be wrecked and rooted out of existence. The war against them was waged for many years, and reached its violent climax in the early thirties when sailors’ homes, including the largest of them all, in New York, became the scenes of riots and raids by wrecking squads under communist command.
It was my lot to do some of the earliest reconnoitering and skir­mishing in this field. In San Pedro, San Francisco and Seattle, travel­ing between ports along the Pacific Highway and occasionally as a stowaway on coastal ships, I won the favor of the mild-mannered directors of the respective Seamen’s Institutes by offering myself as a voluntary worker. I undertook to clean reading-rooms and offices, to visit ships in search of sailors willing and able to sing at entertainment evenings. In this way I gained an insight into the organizational structure of these Institutes, and their working meth­ods. I obtained some of their official literature. I lay in wait for unguarded minutes, to glance over the correspondence on the managers’ desks. I did some ignominious sleuthing to determine the outside sources which supplied the Institutes with funds. I even compiled rough statistics about the number of seamen who enjoyed the Institute’s hospitality during a normal stay. Each evening I made detailed notes of all my observations, and at the end of a month I sent the fruits of my labors, including the printed matter I had filched, to Albert Walter in Hamburg. I heartily disliked this petty spying; I was better fitted for action than for lurking and backstairs diplomacy.
I went to San Pedro and bribed Mr. X. to ship me out aboard a Standard Oil tanker.
The ship was El Segundo of the Standard Oil Company of California. Half of her crew consisted of college students turned sailors for pleasure and profit. I went to work upon their minds with gusto, but with almost no results. At sea, often until midnight, the mess room rang with wild political discussions. I also studied the living conditions, the attitudes and grievances of the professional Standard Oil seamen. I induced two of their number, whom I could class as communist partisans, to enter the International Seamen’s Union to carry on disruptive work inside of that organiza­tion. I had joined the Union myself during my second voyage on the Calawaii, and had found sufficient raw material among the members of the San Pedro branch to start an opposition group whose task was to discredit the union leaders with the rank and file and to obstruct their plans at the weekly branch meetings. The rest of El Segundo’s crew remained unresponsive to my agitation. Standard Oil sailors were well-fed and well-paid and, as a rule, indifferent to communist arguments. Of the many American tank-ships I had visited during a year of roaming on the West Coast, crew members of only one vessel, the Empire Arrow, succumbed to my drive for a communist ship unit.
Back in San Pedro, three weeks after I had signed on, I dashed back to the ship, but the El Segundo had already departed. At my request, the marine superintendent of the Standard Oil Company. a certain Mr. Pendergast, gave me a letter of recommendation.
A year of single-handed campaigning had left me with the feel­ing that I was like a man who shoveled water into a barrel without a bottom. I craved for a rubbing of shoulders with men who were better than I. To none of those I had met since leaving Hamburg was I willing to concede that quality. I dreamt of being able, some day, to lead vast armies of workers into the firelines of revolution. I also dreamt of being, some day, master on the bridge of one of the finest liners afloat. But a career in the American or any other mer­chant marine was barred to me by the law. Aliens were not wanted. And in Germany I was wanted—for taking up arms against the government. A workers’ revolution seemed to be the only way out The old laws would be swept away, and with them their makers. But revolutions were not made in America. They were in the mak­ing in Europe and Asia. I decided to return to Europe. One of my younger brothers had come to the Coast a few months before as a sailor aboard the Norwegian freighter Hoyanger. We swapped a few identification papers. I would be safer in Europe if I used his name.
A curious twinge of conscience made me postpone my departure. I remembered that my Hamburg chiefs had expected me to do something about a harpoon gun used on whaling ships out of San Francisco. The matter had not been mentioned again in Albert Walter’s letters, and I attached no special importance to this mis­sion. I regarded it as one of the usual minor assignments given to young communists to test their talents for industrial espionage. I knew that a special department of the German Communist Party—and probably of the Communist Parties of other countries as well —engaged in this branch of spying to aid the better reconstruction of Soviet industry. The department was known as the "BB­-Apparat" (BB—Betriebs Berichterstattung—Industrial Reports).
I journeyed to San Francisco and presented the letter of recommendation given me by the Standard Oil Company in the offices of the California Sea Products Company which operated three whaling ships. I applied for a job, and the official who questioned me seemed impressed by my brawn and my eagerness to go to work. Within two days, I became a deckhand aboard the whaler Traveler.
Our hunting grounds were the waters off the north and south of the jagged Farallon Islands, where the playful humpbacks and the giant sulphur-bottom whales were still fairly abundant. The animals, once sighted, were killed with harpoons fired from small cannon mounted in the bows of the steamers, and were then hauled alongside and pumped full of air to keep them afloat. The boating cadavers were towed to the whaling station near Monterey to be hung up in chains, cut to pieces, and boiled to yield material for the manufacture of soaps, perfumes and margarine. Each cruise lasted from four to five days. In ten days, the Traveler delivered no less than seven humpbacks and one sulphur-bottom to the slaughter­house on the beach of Monterey.
These ten days made me ill. A live whale curving his fifty-ton bulk with wondrous elegance to the surface of the sea was a beau­tiful thing to behold. I was captivated by this combination of power and grace which life had taken so many years to build. Then came man, greedy, ruthless, slimy, and cunningly adjusted a grenade in the tip of his harpoon to blast to shreds heart and lungs of the whale. The sight of a whale fighting in the sea ahead, hurt, spurting blood, unable to roar his anguish or to kill his murderers, was more than I could endure. His carcass chained and trailing along­side the ship toward Monterey, spreading an intense odor of putre­faction, what a miserable end for the good-natured titan of the sea!
The latest harpoon gun was aboard the Hawk, a newer sister ship of the Traveler. I spent an hour with the Hawk’s gunner at a time when he was lovingly cleaning his shiny cannon. He answered willingly and with pride my questions regarding the intricacies of the gun and its handling. I borrowed a camera from the cook, and made pictures of the gun from six different angles. I was aware that I was doing a slipshod job, but I detested whaling. I had the film developed and sent the negatives, together with a short report, to Hamburg. And then I deserted my berth without even asking for my pay.

I was hunting for a ship in San Pedro to take me to Europe when a curt note from Albert Walter bade me sign on once more aboard the Calawaii. The note, in effect, said: "We have heard that the Filipino plantation workers in Hawaii are contract laborers who will be returned to the Philippine Islands in due time. We are, therefore, greatly interested in knowing if these workers are free enough to attend political schooling circles before returning to their homes. Comrade B. is now boatswain on the Calawaii, and will co-operate with you. With international salute, A. W."
When the Calawaii came in, I went straight aboard and de­manded to see the bosun. He was a German, a man of about thirty, of the blond, taciturn, hard-bitten type, and an excellent seaman. I showed him the letter from Hamburg, and he saw to it that I was signed on in the capacity of Quartermaster. Comrade B. had been a war prisoner in Siberia. Like many other German war prisoners in Russia, he had joined the Bolshevik Party after the Soviet Revo­lution and taken part in the subsequent civil war. He had been sent abroad in 1923 by the Maritime Section of the Comintern as propagandist and liaison man on the west coasts of North and South America.
The second night after our arrival in Honolulu harbor, Comrade B. had rounded up four or five local communist sympathizers and escorted them aboard for a conference to determine in which districts the largest number of Filipino laborers were concentrated. The conference took place in the small two-man cabin which I shared with Comrade B. in the forward part of the ship. It was a fruitless session. The pseudo-communists of Honolulu suffered from an excessive dose of what Comintern circles contemptuously call Lokalpatriotismus. Comrade B. pounded away at them with great patience. We wrangled for hours, and our voices often were louder than prudence permitted. What we did not know was that another Calawaii quartermaster, a young member of some patriotic American organization, was eavesdropping through the thin wooden partition which separated us from the adjoining cabin.
Next day, steaming toward Hilo through cobalt seas, Comrade B. and I were called out by the Calawaii’s chief officer, Mr. Wells, a handsome and efficient mariner, and nobody’s fool. Mr. Wells, leaning against the rail, looked us over with his penetrating eyes.
"This must stop, gentlemen," he said. "I’ve been told that you two are I.W.W. delegates. We don’t want Wobblies on our ships. Moreover, I don’t want any more secret soap-boxing on my ship."
For several seconds we stood dumbfounded.
“Mister Mate," Comrade B. said, "I’d like to know what rat—"
"That’ll do," the mate cut in, turning abruptly. "You know what I mean. That’s all."
There was no doubt in our minds as to the identity of the ship’s spy. That he had reported us as I.W.W.’s was proof that he had not understood too much of our talk. My dislike for informers was so intense that I wanted to go forward to subject the spy to what Ernst Thälmann called a "proletarian rub-down." But Com­rade B., more level-headed and experienced than I, stopped me.
In Hilo, we skipped an afternoon’s work and hired a ramshackle car. As was customary in that port, the Calawaii’s jazz band played on the sundeck, and the officers and passengers were dancing with a bevy of bored debutantes from ashore. We saw Mr. Wells, his face happily flushed, whirling and gliding with a young thing in his arms, and so we slipped away unnoticed. We cruised around the island of Hawaii until dark. The roads were excellent. The towering outlines of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa against the un­marred blue of the sky were a rare sight which gave our journey the flavor of a holiday trip. But we had only casual glances for the volcanoes. Our eyes hunted for the meandering lines of Filipino workers in the vast stretches of sugar and pineapple. Wherever we saw a sizable crew at work, we investigated the location of the men’s barracks and the village nearest to them. Leisurely we walked through the villages. Comrade B. and I made notes of everything we thought might be important. It was clear that communist organ­izers, detailed to recruit and school Filipino plantation workers, would have to establish themselves inconspicuously in these villages; if they could manage to win the goodwill of the local Chinese, they would have plenty of opportunity for association with the Filipinos. The propaganda literature would have to be printed in neu­tral covers, to look like catalogues or advertising matter. An organizer would not have to go into the plantations himself. Once he had interested a few of the workers, they could carry the discussion and pamphlets into the barracks. We returned to the Calawaii, dusty and weary, but with the feeling that we had done a good day’s work. Comrade B. did not want to send the report of our scouting expedition from Hawaii. He decided to wait until we were back in San Pedro.
That same night, after a cold shower, I went back ashore in Hilo for some refreshment in one of the ice-cream stores near the docks. When I walked into the place. I saw the youngster, whom I suspected of being the ship’s informer, lurching over a small round table in the background. He had had too much okolehau, and he was slightly drunk and very cocky. He had a knife in his hand and amused himself with cutting a number of grass skirts and other Hawaiian souvenirs from a wall where they had been hung up for display. Seeing me, he pranced and brayed: "Hallelujah, I’m a bum . . . I won’t work! I.W.W. I—Won’t—Work!" Now I was sure. I lunged and with both fists struck him in the face. Then I re­turned to the ship. At turn-to hour, next morning, I saw that two of his front teeth were knocked out. He looked at me obliquely, keeping silent.
But he had his revenge. The Calawaii had hardly docked in San Pedro ten days later when immigration officers boarded the ship, leaving a watchman to guard the gangway. I was ordered to bring all my papers to the captain’s salon. Comrade B. had received the same order. In the salon two immigration officials in uniform re­lieved me of my Able Seaman’s Certificate, my Lifeboat Ticket, and my discharge book of the Shipowners’ Association.
"Wait in your cabin until further notice," they told me.
A minute later a shipmate informed me that he had heard the gangway watchman say that the officers had come aboard to arrest "a couple of undesirable aliens." Then Comrade B. flew into the cabin, cursing.
"We’ve got to vanish," he said.
We agreed on a meeting-place ashore, and separated. We heard a voice through the companionway on deck, shouting our names. I ran through the ’tweendecks toward a port amidships, used at sea for dumping kitchen garbage. I slipped through the port. The rim of the concrete quay was too far off for me to reach. But at the bottom of the four-foot-wide gully, between the ship’s side and the quay, were heavy logs chained to ring-bolts in the concrete and serving as fenders. I let myself drop to one of these logs. The sur­face was slimy and barnacled. I crawled along the logs, dodging a column of water which poured from a scupper, until I cleared the steamer’s stern. There was an iron ladder here leading to the top of the quay. I ran up this ladder, and disappeared in the murk of a great cargo shed.
I met Comrade B. in the booth of a soothsayer in the Long Beach amusement district, a few miles from the Pacific docks. There was a hunt for us going on all over San Pedro and Wilmington. Com­rade B. had salvaged his bundle of notes and his money. I had sal­vaged nothing. Bareheaded, in khaki shirts, dungarees and canvas shoes, we deliberated in a moving roller-coaster on what we should do. We saw no chance of ever getting another ship in any West Coast port. Both of us were refugees from the Germany of 1923, and were unwilling to invite capture and deportation. Neither of us had any identification papers. Our belongings were still aboard the Calawaii.
I knew an elderly girl in Long Beach, whose failure to win the man she loved had driven her to toy with communism. She worked as a waitress in a seashore restaurant. When the restaurant closed at eleven, I met her and explained our predicament to her. She de­clared herself willing to board the Calawaii to see if there were still any guards on duty. While she went aboard, Comrade B. and I waited in an empty railway car a hundred yards from the ship. She returned to report that there were two watchmen at the gangway.
In the dark night, Comrade B. and I slunk through the harbor until we found a skiff. We manned the skiff and paddled through the Pacific docks to the offshore side of the Calawaii. Several barges were moored alongside. In the darkness, I fell through an open hatch into the hold of a barge, and remained unconscious for some time. As if by miracle, I suffered no broken bones. Comrade B. hoisted me back on deck, and revived me with harbor water. Then he clambered up the side of the Calawaii, and ten minutes later he lowered our belongings into the skiff which I had meanwhile pad­dled under the steamer’s prow. We glided silently and landed in a deserted part of the docks where there were no customs guards on duty. That night we spent in the tiny apartment of our friend, the waitress from Long Beach.
Comrade B. intended to make another stowaway journey to the Hawaiian Islands. I asked him if he needed me as his assistant.
"No," he said. "You are too tall and too conspicuous. You better go on to New York." He could not forgive me my blunder of hitting the informer in Hilo. He gave me enough money to pay my railway fare to St. Louis, where I went to the German Club, whose members were just then engaged in mass-singing and indoor gymnastics, to ask for financial assistance to continue to New York. I told them I had lost my ship, and intended to catch it again in some East Coast port so as not to lose my pay. I received three dollars and an introduction to a kindly German, a salesman of sewing machines, who was driving to New York and was glad to have a companion on his trip.
New York bewildered and oppressed me. I tarried long enough to induce one of the land-sharks, who acted as shipping masters and notaries public in dismal upstairs rooms along South Street, to procure for me a sailor’s berth aboard the Carlier, of the Royal Lloyd Belge. A fortnight later, in the early fall of 1925, I paid off in Antwerp.

Chapter Ten - THE ROAD TO LENINGRAD

THE LUSTY WATERFRONT DISTRICTS of Antwerp had, in my absence, undergone a thorough cleansing under the in­fluence of an aggressive Catholic campaign. Policing had become much stricter. No longer did nude harlots lean out of the windows facing the Cathedral to yell their enticements at passing sailors. The public mass brothels had disappeared. The hordes of beachcombers and outcasts from all the coasts of the world were no longer permitted to camp on the promenades along the river. The hundreds of male and female innkeepers, stretching from the Rhine Quay to Siberia Dock, were less bland and more grouchy since Antwerp was on the way to surrender its reputation as the wildest and most vicious port in the world to Hamburg, Shanghai, and Alexandria.
And Bandura was no longer in Antwerp. I was somehow dis­appointed to hear that the old warrior had been induced to kow­-tow to Communist Party discipline. After repeated arrests and deportations to Holland and France, and persistent returns to Ant­werp, he had been maneuvered into moving to the Hamburg waterfront where a tighter supervision of his doings by the Party was possible. The Antwerp harbor "activist" brigades had fallen wholly under communist control, exercised by Ilja Weiss, the Hungarian, with the assistance of a Chinese student from Berlin and a horse-faced militant, "Red" McGrath, a native of New Zealand. Fortified with a monthly subsidy from the treasury of Albert Walter, they swamped an average of eight hundred ships a month with propaganda.
A letter from Albert Walter suddenly ordered me to leave Ant­werp. It appeared that I had been selected for a term of special training at the Communist University in Leningrad. My instruc­tions were to get my sailing papers from Comrade Anton, at an address in Merxem, a suburb of Antwerp. I found myself in a well‑appointed drygoods store, in the back of which was an elegantly furnished office completely equipped. A demure woman led me into this inner office, where Comrade Anton received me. He was a stern-faced six-footer, of polished manner, resembling a church­man far more than an agent of the G.P.U. Yet he was in charge, as I discovered later, of all the G.P.U. operations in Flanders. He had an Apparat of his own, which functioned independently and the existence of which was unknown even to Ilja Weiss and the local Party leaders.
Comrade Anton spoke faultless German, English, French, and Flemish—his mother language. He received me in a businesslike fashion. He knew in advance of my coming, and prepared for me a document typed in Russian and bearing two huge blue Soviet seals. He gave me the sum of twenty Dutch guilders, detailed in­structions as to how I was to get to Russia, and told me to report to Comrade Ryatt, 15 Prospekt Ogorodnikova, in Leningrad.
My ship was the Russ, a German vessel chartered by the Soviets and manned by a crew approved by Albert Walter’s office. She was due to sail from Rotterdam with a cargo of iron for Lenin­grad. I went to Holland via the "underground" route. At every important frontier-crossing, the Comintern had established a courier station charged with conducting illegally traveling communists across the borders. I went to the Belgian frontier town of Esschen by train. A well-dressed young man awaited me at the sta­tion. He had two bicycles, one for himself, and one for me. We waited until it was dark. At a leisurely pace he led me over a labyrinth of obscure country-paths toward the north. No border patrol stopped us. Two hours later we arrived at the Dutch frontier town of Rozendaal. My guide saw me aboard a train to Rotter­dam; he himself returned to his relay station on the Belgian side.
Although I did not pay for my passage, I did not have to hide except during our traverse of the Kiel Canal where German officials checked the steamer through the largest canal locks in the world. Most students for the Comintern schools travel in this manner, which enables them to slip in and out of Russia without the knowledge of foreign port or border authorities.
I despair at describing my emotions when the first dim land­marks of the Soviet Union rose out of the mist,—Kronstadt, the outlying islands, and then the workaday contours of Leninport. No devout worshiper could have entered a holy shrine with greater reverence than I entered Russia’s westernmost metropolis.
I walked through the dreary streets of Leningrad, and my steps were light and firm. Of the many strange towns I had entered in the course of my long vagabondage, Leningrad was the least strange of all. I was like a ragged wanderer coming home at last to see if things are as they should be. Gone was all the unrest, gone die accursed lust for action at any price. I was no longer a chunk of mutinous scum in enemy country. I was content to hold my bead high and let my eyes drink in the expressions in the faces of simple men and women who had their place at the helm of the first Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
No one came to tell me: "Turn! Flee, you innocent, you ridicu­lously happy fool! Flee before it is too late!" Had someone said it, I should have struck him down.
Throngs were on the streets. The men and women I saw were better clothed and looked better fed than I. Many faces were seri­ous. almost sad, but many were also strong with mute determination. And smiles and laughter were common among those who sauntered in groups between drab rows of houses aching for paint. I was hungry, and dog-tired from hours of walking. My shoes were worn out. The overcoat I wore was torn. I kept on asking for the way, until at last an open-faced boy understood what I wanted. He was a student of chemistry, and a Komsomol. We walked side by side and talked.
They should have sent somebody down to meet you at the ship," the student said. And after a while, when he learned that I had been in America:
’"Is it true that workers in America have automobiles?"
“”Yes, a good many of them."
"They say a worker in America is as good as dead at forty," the student said, adding pensively, "We, too, shall have automobiles."
We swung into the Prospekt Ogorodnikova, and entered a massive building flanked by gardens. The thickly carpeted vestibule was dominated by a bronze bust of Lenin. There was an array of palms almost touching the lofty ceiling. Large mirrors reflected the brilliant light. Heavy leather armchairs were arranged along the walls. Wide doors painted ivory and gold led off in all direc­tions; Signs at the doors bore the words "French Section," "Anglo-American Section," "Colonial Section," and others. I was in the International Club of Leningrad.
"Formerly it was the private palace of a big shipowner," the student explained. "You should have been here a few days ago for the October celebration. The Internationale was sung in seventeen languages at the same time."
Ryatt, the Lettish Bolshevik to whom I was to report, was not in the Club. He had gone to Moscow for a couple of days. A gloomy German functionary took care of my needs. He led me to a rambling basement restaurant which resembled a modernized medieval wine cellar. Half of the fifty large round tables were occupied. Many languages could be heard. I ate a hearty, well-cooked meal, and my beer glass was filled and refilled without my asking. From the restaurant I was led to a barber shop, and from there into a steam-chamber and bathroom where I lingered all of an hour. After the bath, a husky, taciturn woman put me to bed on a ponderous leather couch in one of the upper rooms of the Club.
"Schlaf," she said curtly. "Now you must sleep."
I closed my eyes and slept long, until late the next morning. "Vstavayte! Get up!" a harsh voice said.
Above me towered a hard-faced man in white. At his side hovered a pleasant young woman. The man reminded me of the gunner of the whaler Hawk; the woman resembled in stature and expression the girls I had seen working as stevedores in the harbors of Finland.
"I’m the doctor," the man said. "I must examine you."
I looked for my clothes. They had disappeared. The contents of my pockets lay neatly on a table.
The woman laughed. She said something in Russian.
"She says your rags are in the furnace," the doctor translated. "She burned them."
"But what am I to put on?"
"Never mind. You’ll get others."
She went away to get clothes. The doctor examined me. He could find nothing wrong. The garments which the woman brought me were not new, but they were strongly made, and they were warm. A faint smell of disinfectant clung to them.
"We take care of our boys," the doctor said. "You may go down for breakfast."
In the restaurant the sad-looking German was waiting for me.
"Eat quick, it’s late," he said.
"Where are we going?"
"To the G.P.U."
"The G.P.U?"
"Yes, naturally."
I thought I should be questioned. I had been warned that the secret services of capitalist countries were eager to send their spies into the Comintern schools.
On foot and in battered, overcrowded street cars we traveled into a district of palaces which had once belonged to men who were now dead and gone, or in exile. We passed the hulking Admiralty and entered one of the thoroughfares which radiate from that point. We approached the silent, thick-walled build­ing on Majorov Prospekt.
All manner of people cluttered the grimy hallways. After a period of waiting, I was conducted to a spacious office the only decorations of which were a portrait of Lenin and another of Felix Dzerjinsky, the creator of the Tcheka. Two men in uniform sat at a table. One was short and fat. The other seemed hardly more than a pair of piercing eyes in a landscape of prominent bones.
I was not questioned. They were well informed about my past. All they wanted was to verify my identity and obtain a photo­graph for my communist student’s pass card. I was instructed to use the name of Adolf Heller during my stay in the Soviet Union. All students used assumed names to safeguard them against in­formers of foreign police departments. Anonymity was essential for the work we were expected to do. I was warned to be wary about communications with strangers. I was also requested not to send letters by mail to friends or relatives abroad. All letters with foreign destination were to be turned over to the secretary of the International Club. They would be brought to Berlin by the weekly courier, and posted there so as not to show their Soviet origin. The real reason for this was a strict censorship of outgoing communications by the G.P.U. Then I was photographed.
Before I left, the cadaverous-looking official made a short speech. Except for his accentuation of each sentence with a jerk of his corpse-like head, he might have been talking to himself. No doubt, he had made the same speech a thousand times or more. "Maintain unshakable proletarian discipline," he concluded. "You are a guest of the Soviet Union. You shall become its son. Prove yourself worthy of our common historical task. Be worthy of the great tradition of the Soviet Revolution.

The morning after Ryatt’s return from Moscow, I attended my first lecture in the International Division of the Communist Uni­versity. The central building of this academy of Bolshevist theory and practice was the former palace of the Duma, now the Uritzkv Palace, facing one of the largest garden-squares in the world. The lofty windows, the columns and marble stairways, the paneled wall and enormous candelabras, the whole massive splendor of a vanished regime, brought home to the newcomer a realization of the completeness of the Bolshevist triumph. From the secret schooling circles in the Czarist prisons and underground hovels to this magnificent Palace! The somber portraits of the giants of the Revolution were everywhere. Emblazoned in stone were the words, Workers of the World, Unite!
Over six thousand students attended the Communist University in the winter of 1925-26. The large majority were Russians, who were trained for political and administrative work in the Party machine, the economic councils, in the trade unions and co-opera­tives, in the Red Army, the Red Navy and the G.P.U., and for functions in the great number of communist auxiliary organizations.
The foreign students were incorporated in the International Division which occupied twenty-odd rooms on the second floor of an adjoining building which once housed the Leningrad garri­son. The Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Malays had their own "University of the Peoples of the East" in Moscow, and a smaller one, the Pan-Pacific University, in Vladivostok. American com­munists had their special department in the "University of the Peoples of the West," also in Moscow. Each of the foreign groups of the Communist University also included a number of Russian communists who were being prepared for revolutionary service outside the Soviet frontiers. They were a picked lot, young and alert, and all of them were fluent in at least one language besides their native Russian.
The courses of the International Division dealt almost exclu­sively with aspects of class war and the struggle for communism. They did not aim at educating academic scholars. Revolutionary theories were never treated apart from actual class war experi­ences. The battles of the past and present—armed risings, strikes, civil wars—were analyzed and dissected, the mistakes of strategy and methods were pointed out, and lessons were drawn to guide the student in the actions of the future. All courses led up and culminated in the Leninist conception of the most important step on the road to a classless society—the seizure of power through revolution, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the prole­tariat under the leadership of the Communist Party. Every thought, every campaign, every action whatsoever had value only if it constituted a forward step to the seizure of power. Every omission, every scruple and laxity that could tend to retard the advance was an unpardonable crime. Revolution was not one way out—it was the only way out.
There was a special Military Department where Red Army officers lectured on the strategy of street fighting and the science of civil war. There was a special section for the study of African problems and languages, and another one—reserved for a strictly segregated and tight-lipped elite—where G.P.U. officers were the instructors. Photography, fingerprinting and police work were taught here. And known to all were the classes in which large num­bers of Russian girls worked tirelessly to acquire fluency in the languages of the West. These girls were political workers. They were the "Aktivistki"—a title of which they were very proud.
The international universities of the Comintern are in reality schools established and maintained by the Russian Communist Party which is identical with the Soviet government. The Comin­tern being in effect no more than the foreign division of the Russian Party, we students often jokingly referred to the Comin­tern as the Moskauer Fremdenlegion—Moscow’s Foreign Legion. Yet very few of our instructors were Russian. The majority of the members of our faculty were Germans, Letts, Poles, Finns and Hungarians. Most prominent among them was Otto Wilhelm Kuusinen, a leader of the Finnish Soviet revolution of 1918, one of the founders of the Comintern, who had been a trusted collab­orator of Lenin. Today Kuusinen still remains a loyal servant of the Kremlin, and recently figured in the world news as the head of the Finnish puppet government set up by Stalin during the Russian invasion of Finland.
Of my other instructors, the two Hungarians, the sedate and scholarly Pap and the good-natured though volcanic Goegoes. came to grief some years later in Budapest, where they had been sent to stage a communist coup. Both were betrayed to the authori­ties by their own Party chief, Rakoshi. Driven to insanity by the police, Pap hanged himself in the prison of Zegedin in 1930. Goegoes died in the grip of his torturers. Another lecturer, the talented German, Arthur Ewert, who was popular because of his robust warmth and rollicking humor, rots to this day in a Brazilian prison. Most horrible was the end of Rosa Speculant, a puritanical Jewess, who lectured on propaganda. She was subsequently sent by the Comintern to Poland, and was seized there by the political police. Nothing was heard of her until an escaped fellow-prisoner arrived in Berlin with this report:

"Police Inspector Tkaczuk came to Luck prison to question Comrade Speculant. To make her confess, he had the soles of her feet beaten with canes. Water, petroleum and urine were poured into her nostrils. Because she still refused to confess, she was raped by prison guards. They transferred her to the venereal ward of the prison hospital."

Since then a children’s home on the Black Sea near Novoros­sisk had been named after Rosa Speculant.
High functionaries of the Comintern occasionally lectured at the University. These lectures were gala events. They had the character of Bolshevik mass meetings, and were held in the venerable main hall where formerly the ill-fated Duma convened. Out­standing among our guest lecturers was Ossip Piatnitzky, the hard-boiled chief of the organization department—the Orgbureau —of the Comintern. Piatnitzky was the man feared most by sluggish Party bureaucrats the world over. He was the man who paid or stopped, decreased or increased the subsidies of the Comin­tern for Parties abroad. He was the man who swung the lash of open criticism without fear or favor; where he saw a festering wound—he jabbed his fingers into it with gusto. The short, stubby, graying, blunt-faced and keen-eyed Piatnitzky waved ap­plause aside as a waste of time. He was immensely popular among the students. Among the experts of conspirative organization he was the undisputed master. His voice rang hard, and it had a humorous tinge. He ended a three-hour speech on the "organiza­tion of victory" with the cry: "Our revolutionary fatherland, the Soviet Union, is at war with the whole of the capitalist world. Only the triumph of the world revolution can end this war."
The foreign students lived in segregated quarters, grouped ac­cording to their nationalities. Aside from official fraternity nights, close private relationships between students of different nationali­ties were not encouraged, because of fear that spies might have wormed their way into the student corps. I lived with a group of German and German-speaking comrades from the Baltic coun­tries in an old tenement house in the Viborg district. On one side was the Nevka, the northern arm of the Neva estuary; on the other a vast lunatic asylum, one section of which was run by the G.P.U. We rose at half past six, awakened by a swarthy house superintendent’s helper, a Georgian, who ran from room to room, shouting hoarsely, "Arise, ye prisoners of starvation . . ." After a breakfast of bread and tea, we were on our way. A street car bore us south across the Neva at a snail’s pace, stopping at every block while hordes of passengers piled in and out. In high spirits, we often indulged in coarse flirtations in the darkness and the slashing cold of a Leningrad winter morning.
The first lecture started at nine. The subjects ranged from Marx’s "theory of surplus value" to the "application of Clausewitz’s Rules of Warfare in the conduct of strikes," from "revolutionary defeatism and the transformation of an imperialist war into a civil war" to "mass psychology and propaganda." Then followed an hour of discussion. Every problem from war to marriage was analyzed from a strict class viewpoint. Another lecture followed, and another hour of discussion. By that time it was one o’clock.
The hour from one to two was devoted to gymnastics, target practice with small-caliber revolvers and rifles, and other forms of physical exercise. The instructors were officers’ apprentices of the Red Army, and superb examples of physical perfection they were! Individual athletic stunts were taboo. If anyone possessed exceptional prowess, he was not permitted to boast about it as young people like to do. Everything was done collectively, and the pace of motion was that of the slowest. At times three Komsomols supplied a musical rhythm with trumpets. One of the exercises consisted of doing gymnastics while standing under icy showers, a test of self-control in which the girls invariably outdid the hardiest of the male students. Severnoye Siyanye—"aurora borealis”—this torture was called.
In the afternoons, we usually wrote essays or leaflets on sub­jects assigned by our instructors. The students had a choice be­tween two themes, such as "Why do the Communist Parties fight the Versailles Treaty?" or "What must be the policy of the Com­munist Parties in the event of war between Germany and France?" I recall an assignment on the question, "Is America an imperialist state?" It followed our study of Scott Nearing’s book, The Ameri­can Empire, given us in mimeographed copies translated in vari­ous languages.
Each minute of our time was supervised by a Comintern con­trol bureau of which Kuusinen was the invisible, and the German communists Kühne and Schneller, the visible heads. Schneller had been a world war officer in the German army. Kühne was a combination of a fox and a scientist, and later became the secre­tary of the communist bloc in the German Reichstag. At times Heinz Neumann, whose regular abode was in the Comintern build­ing in Moscow, took a hand in the planning of our time down to the smallest detail. Many of us developed a secret animosity for this scion of a Berlin grain millionaire because of his brusque, dictatorial manner, and because of the undisguised cynicism with which he summoned likable girl students to his hotel. It was known that he had a beautiful young girl from the Caucasus region as his mistress in Moscow. Nevertheless, each time he was in Len­ingrad some Scandinavian or German girl was invited to gratify Heinz Neumann’s appetite. The girls went to him willingly. Neu­mann had the reputation of being one of the few foreign com­munists who belonged to the inner circle around Stalin, whose name already then spelled magic to us. But the whole foreign divi­sion of the Communist University chuckled when Heinz Neu­mann was set upon and beaten by unnamed men in the shadow of Peter the Great’s monument on Dekabrist Square. As usual, Neumann was in the company of a young woman, and both were tipsy with vodka. The following day,—the Lenin-Liebknecht-Luxemburg memorial day,—Neumann nursed his bruises in soli­tude. But the next morning he appeared in the control bureau to issue orders to student delegates about a fraternity evening with Putilov workers in the Palace of Labor. This cold-blooded liber­tine was an efficient Party worker.
Official supervision did not stop with the detailed disposition of our time. All our reading, our conversations, our personal associa­tions were supervised by undercover agents of the G.P.U., which also had an informer assigned to every group of students. Only communist newspapers—a huge selection of them—were allowed to be in our hands. We were not permitted to have books other than those issued by the libraries of the University and the Inter­national Club. We were carefully steered away from all private contacts with Russian workers and students. At regular intervals, all rooms in the students’ homes showed traces of a thorough search, conducted while their occupants were in school or on an excursion. G.P.U. men listened in on all group conversations. We were sincere revolutionists, and regarded the G.P.U. as our pro­tectors. We were devoted to the Soviet Union. We had nothing to hide. We were far too busy from morning till night to stray off the ironbound communist path. Nothing ever came to my atten­tion in all those months to indicate that a foreign communist stu­dent had gotten himself into difficulties with the G.P.U.

The student group to which I belonged counted fifty-three members, sometimes more, sometimes a few less. We lived well. We received our meals free of charge; we were given clothing when we needed and applied for it; entertainment and excursions did not cost us one kopeck. The fifty rubles each of us received fortnightly from the Kassa of the control bureau we could spend as we liked on drinks, cigarettes and other incidentals. But fifty-three of us were assigned to sleep in eight small rooms, the three largest of which provided quarters and sleeping space for the fifteen girls in our group. The boys were crammed, seven and eight strong, into each of the remaining chambers. We slept on collapsible army cots. When all the cots were mounted, the rooms were filled with sleeping gear from wall to wall. Usually the lights were kept burning all night, for there was always one who thought it more important to do required reading than to snatch a full measure of sleep. Iron stoves glowed red, but there were not enough to go around. Small oil lamps, battered percolators, samo­vars and even candles were used to battle the grim cold of winter. There were broken window-panes patched up with paper or pieces of old cloth. Yet, all the discomfort and lack of privacy never led to quarrels or peevishness among us. We took pride in showing that no hardship could daunt us.
We despised the bourgeois ideals of a settled existence, of mar­riage and love, of ownership and law and order. None of us looked forward to having children or a garden or only a roomful of furniture and books of his own. We thought we knew what awaited us in the years to come. We were the youth of inter­national conspiracy. The capitalists and their hireling governments would fight us tooth and claw because they knew that our triumph would spell their death. We expected no quarter and we intended to give none. Our job was destruction—utter, uncompromising destruction—of capitalist society and the capitalist state, an uproot­ing and overturning of all standards and values grown out of the basic conceptions of my land, my house, my country, my wife, my factory or ship or mine or railroad!
Marriage among the young professionals of world revolution was discouraged. Men with families and women with children were too likely to become lovers of peace. In the always stormy and frequently short career of the professional communist normal marriage relations were blasted in the bud. In the face of the tre­mendous revolutionary goal set before us, cultivation of a per­manent emotional alliance between one man and one woman seemed trivial and futile. But we were no celibates. We were healthy young animals as capable of erotic passion, of falling in love, and of yearning for the caresses of a beloved as any virile youths and life-hungry girls.
Debates on the merits and demerits of "free love" we left to the intellectuals of an already rotting liberalism. We were too direct in our mutual relationships to fall victim to the customs of courtship and flirtations prevalent on "the other side." Outlawed were sultry whisperings and lascivious insinuations. Outlawed was erotic jealousy. Outlawed was the pursuit and the pestering of girls who were in no mood to respond. Outlawed were false shame and morbid curiosity. It was a rule that the student who felt him­self drawn to a certain girl would tell her frankly: "I desire you. Be my companion as long as the Party permits us to be together." When the feeling was reciprocal, the girl would smile and nod, and the matter was settled. And so it was also the other wav around. Often two or more young men sometimes shared the intimate friendship of one girl. No secret was made of such an agreement. The recreation rooms on the ground floor of our house, where we danced and drank vodka and played chess in the evenings, became toward midnight the inalienable reservation of the lovers. The Russian Komsomol girls haunted the international students’ homes in flocks, surrounding as they did the young revo­lutionists from foreign lands with an aura of romantic heroism. But the hordes of luckless prostitutes who shivered in the squares and doorways never entered our life. Cases of venereal disease among the students were extremely rare.
The master craftsmen in the Kremlin could not have wished for better tools. We were the unflinching prisoners of a grandiose make-believe, we who looked upon ourselves as hard-headed ma­terialists. We dismissed the distress of today, the human wreckage littered all about us, the terror and the militarism prevailing in the country, with the stereotyped belief that we were marching forward with giant strides: "The power is ours—and the future, too!"
Of the six comrades who were my roommates during that Len­ingrad winter, two are dead, one is in prison. I lost all trace of the others.
In prison is Hans Sorgers. He was a cheerful, tenacious youth who danced the Schuhplattler [21] at the International Club and liked to sing Bavarian mountaineer songs. He became an editor for the German Party press, stuck to his post after the Reichstag went up in flames, until an infatuation with a young Jewish girl brought him into the toils of the Gestapo. They questioned the girl after a routine roundup. Half-crazy with fear, she betrayed her lover. Fifteen years of solitary confinement in Plötzensee prison near Berlin are his lot.
Another, Nicola Koffardschieff, a bold and earnest Bulgarian, with a head like carved oak, was an excellent chess player. He was the only one in our group who never put his arm around a girl. But he liked children. He gave them bonbons and told them stories. That was his relaxation—that, and a liter of vodka once a month. Then Nicola was drunk, he became gloomy and went out to walk in the streets all night. He was a hard worker whom only children could make smile. In September, 1931, Georgi Dimitrov sent Nicola to Bulgaria on a Comintern mission. On October 30, risking his own life to liberate an arrested comrade, he was shot to death by police agents in the streets of Sofia.
And there was Kazys Kentautas, the Lithuanian, whom I will never forget. He was the best student in our group, the son of a blacksmith in Memel. He read Hegel and Feuerbach in the original, and surreptitiously he read Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. Kazys was no fighter, but he was one of those who would walk naked into a fire to prove to himself that mind could sometimes triumph over matter. One evening in the Leningrad Palace of Labor he saw me dancing with Kristinaite, a fiery-eyed slip of a girl, who studied economics and conspiratorial organization at the Foreign Division. He fell in love with her at once. He could work himself into a state of near-intoxication simply by staring at Kristinaite’s hair, which was a smooth glistening black. From that day on, he showed less interest in school, but somehow he was too shy to speak to her. I told Kristinaite about Kazys. He was training himself for work in Fascist countries—the most dangerous of all activities. Kris­tinaite gave me a flashing laugh and went to Kazys Kentautas. After that they were together almost every night. He was coura­geous enough to marry her. Kristinaite used to say, "After the revolution we shall have babies." Shortly afterwards, he was sent to work underground in Finland, she to Roumania or Greece. Later they worked together in Latvia, and in 1930 Kristinaite had a baby which she kept in a children’s home in Ostrov, just across the border.
I heard nothing more from them until the end of 1933. In the Comintern service we hardly ever wrote each other private letters. One was not supposed to know where the other was, unless both had the same assignment. But in October, 1933, I dis­covered their names in the files of the western Secretariat of the Comintern in Copenhagen. From Latvia both had been sent to reorganize the Party in Lithuania. They were captured and thrown into the dungeons of Kovne. Kazys Kentautas was condemned to death for high treason. Kristinaite refused to make a confession. Inhuman jailers tortured her with heavy prison keys. Kristinaite went mad. To hide the consequences of their brutality the jailers murdered her a night later.
I often think of Kristinaite’s flashing laugher. Had I told Kazys, when he declared his love for her: "Go away, Comrade Kentautas, she is not for you, you cannot even dance," Kristinaite might have lived a little longer.

Chapter Eleven - COURIER TO THE ORIENT

THE OLD WANDERLUST STIRRED MY BLOOD with the coming of spring. I had had enough of lectures in the Communist University, and hungered for the winds and the freedom of the sea. Besides, the year of 1926 promised thunder. A general strike was in the offing in England, and we expected it to shake the British Empire to its foundations. In China, the revolution was clearly on its way. In the Dutch East Indies, plans hatched in the Comintern for an insurrection were afoot. I asked to be sent into the field. My request was granted. Ryatt informed me that I would serve as a courier to the Orient as soon as arrangements had been completed. In the meantime I was delegated to attend the in­auguration of a Seamen’s International Club in Murmansk.
Accompanied by a girl interpreter, I started out for the Arctic port. Two days and nights our train crawled northward over a desert of snow. Situated on a dismal fjord, Murmansk was at that time still a sleepy and overgrown village spread chaotically on the slopes of low, barren hills. Its lower portion was half submerged in frozen mud and slush. The spent warmth of the Gulf Stream, paw­ing feebly around the North Cape, made Murmansk the only ice-free Soviet harbor north of the Black Sea. It was a bleak harbor, with unkempt sheds and piers. An ancient little trawler and two small trampships hovered in the fog offshore. An indescribable gloominess lay over the place. From a smeary sky fell a drizzle that could be called neither rain nor sleet nor snow. But the houses near the station, built of rough-hewn logs, were stanch and warm.
A delegate from the Soviet Seamen’s Union awaited me at the station, where the people were dirty and ragged and sulky. He had a face from which life seemed to have drained all desire. He nodded a surly welcome and motioned me to follow him, with­out pulling his hands out of the holes of his tattered overcoat. We made our way to the International Club, a long and low log building, decorated with a bronze bust of Lenin, pictures of Marx and other revolutionary leaders, Red banners, a large rack full of brand-new books and pamphlets, and a phonograph with a big pink-colored loudspeaker. Rain dripped through the sacking which covered the windows in lieu of glass. There was not a lava­tory in the building.
The active membership of the Murmansk Interclub was made up of five Russians, two of them girls from Leningrad who knew German and English, and four foreign seamen, a German, two Scandinavians and a Scot. They were an eager lot, quite content with their task of upholding the cause of internationalism in this wettest corner of the Soviet fatherland. I delivered the main address during the inauguration ceremony, after the chairman had introduced me as a "delegate from the workers of capitalist Europe."
Upon my return to Leningrad a week later, I found instruc­tions awaiting me to go via Berlin to Rotterdam to sign up there on a steamer bound for the Far East. Ryatt procured for me the necessary credentials, and a Swiss passport the original photograph of which had been replaced by one of myself.
"Whenever you are using a phony passport," Ryatt explained in his dry, disillusioned manner, "see that you cross the frontier at night. At night the border policemen are less attentive and flaws in the passports don’t show so much under electric lights."
To avoid traveling through Poland, where the political police was the most efficient agency in a generally inefficient country, I used the slightly round-about route through Riga, entering Germany over the East Prussian border town of Eydtkuhnen.
The express which I took from Riga had been a few short weeks before the scene of a bloody occurrence which reminded me that the profession of a Comintern courier, upon which I was embarking, is one of the most hazardous on earth. The international couriers Nette and Machmannsthal had been en route from Berlin to Moscow, carrying a batch of confidential documents for­warded by Soviet agents in London. The documents were carried in diplomatic pouches. Outside of Riga, shortly after the two couriers had crossed from Lithuania into Latvia, two strangers wearing black suits and black masks forced their way into the sleeping compartments occupied by the Comintern men. The in­vaders drew pistols and demanded the surrender of the pouches. It was night, and the train was speeding north at close to sixty miles an hour. Nette, who had been sleeping in the top berth, reached for the pistol under his pillow. In the lower berth Machmannsthal also snatched his gun, which he had strapped to his pajamas. Instantly the masked strangers opened fire. The couriers, still entangled in their blankets, also began to shoot. Four guns blazed away at a range of less than six feet. Nette was hit through his lungs and stomach. He pitched out of his berth, but continued to fire from the floor of the rocking train. The compartment was spattered with blood from top to bottom. When the smoke cleared away, the two assassins lay dead. Nette was dying. Machmanns­thal, seriously wounded, survived. The mail-by-courier was saved. Later investigations by the Riga police and the G.P.U. in Lenin­grad established that the dead assailants had been former White Guards in the employ of the British secret service.
In Berlin, I received my orders from Fritz Heckert, one of Moscow’s chief agents abroad, and a Chinese communist whose name was, I believe, Wan-Min. Bela Kun was then also in Berlin, which was at that time the seat of the Comintern’s chief agency outside of the Soviet Union. The German Republic was the most liberal and the most lax in hunting down foreign agitators. My tasks for the next few months were outlined to me over coffee and cake in the Cafe Bauer.
A coup was being planned for the Dutch East Indies. A victori­ous insurrection of the natives of Java and Sumatra, it was hoped in Moscow, would whet Japan’s appetite for these rich Indonesian islands. Any Japanese move in the direction of Java would, in turn, cause Great Britain to intervene. And that, in turn, would divert British attention from what was going on in China. The strategy was to "play one capitalist country against another" for the benefit of the Soviet Union. My duty was to convey a consignment of confidential material to M. Lan, a female Chinese Comintern agent in Indonesia. The consignment consisted of a number of packages, the contents of which were too incriminating to be sent through the mails, and too bulky to be smuggled successfully along any regular passenger route. They probably also contained money. For identification purposes, I was given the snapshot of a dog. Anyone who presented to me another copy of this photograph either in Singapore or Sabang or Belawan, would be the authorized recipient of the consignment. I was to sail as a bona fide seaman from Rotterdam, where my courier mail was awaiting me. Heckert showed me a picture of M. Lan, and told me that she would probably come aboard my ship in person.
"Your salary from now on," Heckert said, "is eighty dollars a month. After your stuff is delivered in good order, send me a tele­gram and go on to Shanghai for further instructions."
From the "Technical Bureau"—the passport forging center which the Comintern maintained in Berlin—I received a good German seamen’s book and credentials of a missionary in the em­ploy of the Mission for Seamen in London. Before I boarded the Berlin-Amsterdam express, I was insistently warned to tell no one, "not even your mother or sweetheart," where I was going, to avoid all private communications, and to be deaf and dumb to inquiries from outsiders. "Schweigen ist Gold," [22] Wan-Min ex­plained. "If you cannot be silent, we can’t use you."
My steamer was the Franken, Captain Kühnemann, of the North German Lloyd, a fine new ship then on her maiden voyage.
I shipped on her by a simple ruse. When the vessel put into Rotterdam, a communist in the crew feigned serious illness and was transferred to the marine hospital. I had no difficulty in ob­taining the "sick" man’s berth. But before the Franken sailed, I was brusquely burdened with additional responsibilities. A young local communist roused me from my bunk in the middle of the night.
"Come ashore," he panted, "there’s a messenger from Ham­burg."
Albert Walter in Hamburg had gotten wind of my journey to the Far East and had quickly decided to have me transact some of his business at the expense of the Berlin office which financed my trip. I dressed and scrambled ashore. In a tavern I met Hugo Marx. His pale, thin face showed the usual foxy smirk, and his eyes were half closed. He gave me a letter of instructions marked "MEMORIZE—DESTROY," and several thick envelopes con­taining money for the communist harbor units in Genoa, Alex­andria, and Colombo.
The Franken steamed seaward, with my "mail" stowed away safely. The first port of call was Genoa. It rose out of the sea in the early morning, an amphitheater of pearl-gray, yellow and rose against a background of treeless green hills with crumbling forts on their crests.
A communist had to be careful in Italy. Mussolini’s likeness seemed to stare through every shop window in Genoa. Hawk-eyed young Blackshirts were in every street. One wrong word, one careless move, one harmless little crime of omission could con­sign scores of honest revolutionists to destruction in the inquisition chambers of the Ovra. The messenger of the Italian "underground" organization came aboard in the guise of a stevedore. He recognized me by a prearranged sign: a blue bandanna with a double knot around the neck. His open, energetic face belied all popular conceptions of the aspect of a conspirator.
"Give me a cigarette," he said genially.
I struck a match for him and waited for the password. The Genoese gave it with almost playful nonchalance. "Let’s go once more to Tripolis . . ." he hummed in Italian.
That was the first line from a soldiers’ song of the Turkish War.
gl. . Oh, let’s cut off the heads of Arabis," I continued.
I sauntered forward. He followed leisurely. In the bosun’s locker, I handed him the envelope I had received from Hugo Marx. It had been hidden in a new coil of rope. The Italian tore the envelope open and went over its contents. It contained some typewritten sheets and a sum of money in American dollars. I arranged with him to come aboard that night to take me to a conference of waterfront functionaries. The Italian tore the envelope into tiny shreds. The money he pocketed. The letters he fastened to his thigh with a rubber band. He was ready to depart.
"Good luck," I said. "Don’t forget—tonight."
"Viva Lenin," he replied with quiet fervor. "Ora e sempre! [23]

"Let go, forward and aft!"
The Franken steamed down the coast of Italy, and several days later she bunkered at Port
Said. Coal barges drew alongside, and a band of howling Arab coalheavers overran the ship. I had a letter for the communist harbor organization of Alexandria, the chief port of Egypt. I knew that my Hamburg headquarters had sent word to inform the comrades here of my coming. No doubt they would send a messenger to meet me at Port Said. I waited. For a while I expected the Alexandria courier to be among the hawkers of coral knick-knacks and Turkish delight. But he did not turn up.
The winding banks of the Suez Canal glided by, hot and yellow, deserted except for batteries of mooring poles, a few huts and donkeys, and at times a camel bearing an atrocious load. The Franken traversed the length of the Red Sea. Forbidding Bab-el-Mandeb appeared and vanished in a starry night. And after six days’ steaming through the leaden Indian Ocean, the anchor went down in Colombo roads.
In the north, crowded and mysterious, lay India. At school in Leningrad I had heard N. M. Roy, the leading East Indian Bolshevik, lecture on the problems of the communist offensive in India. The Party was strong in the industries of Bombay, Madras. Calcutta. Participants in strikes and demonstrations were counted by the hundred thousand. Child labor, the longest hours, the low­est pay, and the highest death rate furnished superb material for agitation. But in India, the obstacles in the way of communist ad­vance were stronger than among more primitive colonials. Primi­tive people are impatient and virile. The Hindu’s chief vice was his senile tradition, his enervation, his passivity. The Communist Party of British India was forced to fight on many different fronts., It fought British imperialism. It fought Gandhi as a traitor to the Indian peoples. It fought the reactionary portion of the native bourgeoisie. It allied itself with the liberal faction and the intelli­gentsia, with the intention of cutting their throats later. It took pains not to step on the religious toes of the Moslems of the Mala­bar Coast. And wave after wave of propaganda literature, printed in Moscow and Leningrad, in a dozen of the hundreds of Indian languages, strove to break down the most stubborn obstacle of all —the caste system of the Hindus.
The courier of the Colombo organization, a middle-aged Lascar, was punctual. At sunset he paddled out from shore in a comfort­able skiff. He clambered aboard, carrying ebony toy elephants and a bundle of gaudy shawls which he at once began to peddle among the mates and engineers. He wore mended khaki pants and a sleeveless blue shirt, dangling outside his belt. The password that had come to him from Hamburg he shouted loudly all over the ship:
"Who’s got for me the London Times? I like to read. Ne matter how old."
I took him forward under the pretense that I wanted to buy a shawl, and handed him his letter. He promised to forward it is Pondicherry, the French colony, where the headquarters of the Maritime Section was established. I found no time to go ashore with him. The Franken was at anchor only a few short hours. We parted. As I leaned at the bulwarks, watching the Lascar paddle away in the velvety darkness, I suddenly saw him as a maniac who was trying to cross a stormy ocean in a coffin. For a moment the aim I and he and all of us struggled for seemed endlessly far away. “We are all maniacs, paddling through the night in coffins," I thought. "Dead men on furlough!" I heard the lapping of the harbor water and the thump of the chain cable in the starboard hawse-pipe. On the low shore lights burned dimly. I went below for coffee and a smoke.
The Franken steamed eastward, skirting the Bay of Bengal, shunning the dangerous Nicobar Islands. The approaches to Malacca Straits were dotted with shipping, with liners and tramps from overseas, with filthy little coastwise steamers, with high-sterned junks that looked like dozing bats, with native craft of outlandish shape and cut of sail. Around this passage between the Indian Ocean and the China Seas the ports of call lay within a scant day’s run from each other. The first was Sabang, rich, green and bluff, a coaling station on the northern tip of Sumatra. Belawan, Pulo Penang, Singapore followed. Here, I had been told, the revo­lution would strike next. Here the chief consignment of the contraband I carried was to be taken ashore. My tenseness grew from day to day. I slept little. I must not miss the messenger from the Indonesian Party. Whatever the many book-sized packages contained, I had carried them halfway around the world. They were important. I scrutinized each tawny Malay stevedore as he came aboard. I watched the boatmen, the hawkers, the ships-chandlers’ runners for a sign of recognition. I even wondered whether the courier I awaited might be among the little ten- and twelve-year-old girls who came aboard to wash the sailors’ laun­dry and to peddle their hips.
Nothing happened in Sabang. No likely stranger approached me while we lay in the glaring roadstead of Penang. Then came Singa­pore. The lines were hardly fastened around the bitts and the metal rat-guard brought out, when a shipmate hailed me.
"Ho—come here! There’s woman asking for you."
Out of a cluster of Chinese dockers stepped a small Chinese woman. She was dressed smoothly in black. Her motions were graceful, her features lean and energetic. She knew my name. In the shelter of the rudder house astern she drew what looked at first glance like a piece of cardboard from her miniature black-and-gold handbag. It was the photograph of a dog.
"Do you like this type of dog?" she inquired pleasantly. "I have one just like this," I laughed.
So I met M. Lan, the female liaison officer of the Communist Party of Indonesia. She gave me the address of a Babu money changer’s booth on a square just outside the limits of the harbor. At night, with the aid of a young Chinese, I smuggled my contraband ashore past a cordon of drowsy Sikhs. Nearby M. Lan sat smoking in a rickshaw.
To this day I do not know the exact nature of the illicit con­signment I transported from Rotterdam to Singapore. Taken to­gether, the packages weighed perhaps three hundred pounds. They may have contained Belgian automatics, or ammunition or ex­plosives. In any case, it was dynamite, printed or real, and I was thoroughly glad to see it leave my jurisdiction without a mishap. "Transaction completed," I cabled to Fritz Heckert in Berlin.
The expected revolutionary coup came to pass less than half a year later. In November, 1926, large sections of the toilers of Java rose with guns in their hands. An insurrection in Sumatra followed. Buildings were burned to the ground, railways were blasted, much blood was spilled in battles between the insurgents and government troops. The tactics used by the rebels of Java and Sumatra were much the same as I had witnessed during the barricade fighting in Hamburg. The same, also, was the directing hand behind the scenes. The risings failed. Hundreds fell in battle. Hundreds were wounded. Thousands were captured and sent to the prison camps of New Guinea. Hundreds were summarily con­demned to death by military courts.

I deserted the Franken in the harbor of Hongkong. The Chinese seamen and dockers were out on strike. British marines patrolled the wharves of this British Crown Colony perched on the edge of a China seething with the promise of revolt. I still had in my possession some four hundred dollars of the Comintern money originally destined for Egypt. I decided to use it for agita­tion among the British, American and German seamen in Hong­kong harbor. But I quickly learned that such a plan was not feasible in a place where the British navy and the British secret service poked flashlights into the obscurest corners. They were hunting high and low for one Kuchiomov, a Comintern agent who had come to Hongkong to organize a continuance of the general strike. Then I learned of the case of Comrade Dosser, another agent of the Comintern who had tried to settle in Hongkong in the guise of a commercial representative. His Eurasian mistress had made an attempt to poison him in his hotel. Dosser tied her hand and foot, and changed his quarters, but was soon arrested and de­ported. With true Bolshevik pertinacity he returned secretly, was arrested and deported again, but escaped to Shanghai. British agents seized him there, and since then nothing more was heard of Comrade Dosser. This information caused me to decamp. I embarked for Shanghai as a deck passenger on a coastal steamer.
In Shanghai, I reported to a contact address of the Comintern in the lower part of Nanking Road. It turned out to be a barber shop. A Chinese student took my credentials, and told me to wait. The following day we boarded rickshaws and rode out into the beautiful gardens on Bubbling Well Road. To be drawn through the streets by a half-naked and sweating human draft animal made me uncomfortable. The glistening yellow back in front, the patter of bare feet on the burning asphalt, the strident gasps of a voice shouting for the right of way aroused in me an urge to leap off, to pat the perspiring shoulders, to say, "Listen, take it easy, let’s have a lemonade together." But the streets of Shanghai were as un­sentimental as they were full of motion. Passing me were red-faced mountains of flesh in immaculate white, bearded Sikhs stalking under their turbans with a mixture of meekness and complacent arrogance, dirty children rolling in the gutters, women grunting under fearful loads, chanting traders. And everywhere I saw un­smiling workmen, swinging along the sidewalks, bitterly poor, but able and hardy, prime material for any revolution. "China is Asia!" was a phrase I recalled hearing from the lips of a leader in Leningrad: "If we have China, we also have India and all that lies between."
We stopped at the gardens in the vicinity of the Majestic Hotel. A man with pronounced Slavic features and the manners of a courteous Parisian was waiting there. He was of a type that would fit into the role of a school teacher or of a locomotive engineer. His name was Mandalian. He was the Comintern agent in charge of operations in the district of Shanghai.
No orders regarding my next assignment had come through from Berlin. "We can use you here just as well," Mandalian ob­served after a few perfunctory questions. His first act was to make me surrender to him the four hundred dollars in my possession. After that we promenaded through the gardens, Mandalian talk­ing in a rapid but disciplined voice, and I straining to catch the significance of every word.
"Don’t cock your head to one side like a conspirator," he admonished me before we had sauntered a hundred yards. "There may be watchers. Be léger; act like an idle man chatting about the horse races."
Mandalian spoke mainly about the foreign warships and foreign soldiers in China, an armed force which constituted the greatest danger for communist revolution in China. The guns of the gray ships could not be put out of action by a frontal attack of even a million badly armed coolies. Another way had to be taken; the disintegration of the morale of foreign sailors and soldiers by means of persistent propaganda. The Comintern had created a special anti-military department to engage in this work in Shang­hai, under the direction of a capable Chinese communist named Siu. The men from the foreign warships simply refused to let themselves be drawn into political discussions by Orientals whom they had been taught to despise. Comrade Siu needed a man wila could meet the British and American sailors and marines on their own ground, who could talk their language and be looked upon as an equal. To Mandalian I was that man. Until I got further or­ders from Berlin, I was to assist Siu in the anti-military department. I met him the same day in the house of the Chinese Seamen’s Union.
Comrade Siu had studied in Europe and knew German well. He was a stocky, mobile man in his thirties, married to a Russian girl who acted as his secretary. The number of functions he held was astounding. He was the Party commissar for the Shanghai Sea­men’s Union. He directed the work of communist spies in the well-organized remnants of the former Kolchak army, whose surviving members were stranded in Shanghai by the thousands. Siu also managed the affairs of the revolutionary student groups in Shanghai. He put a fairly new mimeograph machine at my disposal and introduced me to a group of Japanese and Chinese com­rades with whom I was to work. "Den Panzerkreuzern müssen wir die Zähne ausziehen," he remarked. "Let’s pull out the warships’ teeth!"
We were blissfully unaware of our own grotesque audacity. Our combined force consisted of a score of assorted communists, including a handful of Japanese and two Scandinavians lusting for adventure. Equipped with a portable printing machine and a weekly allowance totaling a hundred Shanghai dollars, we set out to "pull the teeth" of the combined navies of Britain, France, Japan and America on the lower Yangtze-kiang. The sum we re­ceived to finance our fight amounted perhaps to one-fifth of the salary which the Comintern paid to Comrade Mandalian and Comrade Siu. It was they who later spoke learnedly in Moscow conventions about the reasons for the Chinese defeat; we of the rank and file had no word in the matter.
About one-third of the warship crews spent their nights ashore in relays. They frequented the music halls and tingle-tangles of the International Concessions and the brothels and sing-song dives in the Tchapai district. The girls in the brothels were Chinese, hardly more than browbeaten children under a veneer of vicious­ness, and without a will of their own. Most of them had been sold into slavery by their parents at the time of their first menstruation, and the owners of the brothels discarded them when they reached maturity. These houses of misery were patronized exclusively by Europeans and Americans, and the majority of the customers were men from the foreign warships and the marine detachments. To the Chinese communists in our unit fell the task of besieging the popular brothels. They joined the waiting rickshaw coolies at the entrance, and plied every arriving bluejacket or marine with tracts containing incitements to disobedience and mutiny. One of the Chinese comrades employed his wife and sister to befriend the girls in the houses for the purpose of smuggling our leaflets into the rooms of the child prostitutes. The latter seemed intrigued by the promise that their greedy and unmerciful masters, the brothel bosses, would be dumped wholesale into the Whangpoo River after the revolution.
The foreigners in our anti-military department, the two Scan­dinavians, six or seven Japanese and I, concentrated on the music halls of the Nanking Road area. There was always a sprinkling of navy men and marines in the crowds that filled these places night after night. The girls here were Eurasians or the daughters of Russian refugees, rather prettily dressed, lewd, and wholly mer­cenary. We found some sympathizers among the Eurasians who were willing to accept sheafs of propaganda material for distribu­tion to the bevy of bluejackets each of them had on hand, but this scheme was effectively sabotaged by some of the Russian women who seemed to be acting as undercover agents for local White Guard organizations. Besides, the rivalry between the moody, drink-hungry Russians and their flashier, younger Eurasian sisters was virulent. In the end, there was nothing for us to do but to en­gage the warship sailors in direct political discussions. Regularly the debates threatened to end in a fight. The bluejackets had come ashore to amuse themselves, and they resented our instructions unless we first invited them to a drink. For that, however, we lacked the money.
In the mass slaughter of communists which followed Chiang Kai-shek’s break with Moscow in 1927, nearly all the Chinese comrades I had worked with in Shanghai perished. Years later. after the death penalty for communists had been decreed in Japan. I learned the fate of my Japanese companions. "Comrade Sano and his aides—Fukumoto, Nabejana Mitamura and Takara—were abducted by Japanese secret police in Shanghai and spirited aboard a ship to Kobe." The report which the Comintern received about them bore the comment: "Vermisst; keine Org-Folgen," mean­ing: "They disappeared. Their disappearance had no damaging consequences to the organization—they kept their secrets like good Bolsheviks."
After three weeks of anti-military work, my sojourn in Shanghai ended abruptly. On a stifling day at the end of July, 1926, Siu, through his Korean courier, asked me to meet him at a corner of the Rue Molière.
"I have news for you," Siu said.
"Instructions?"
"Right."
He told me that I was needed in San Francisco. He had an address neatly printed on a leaf of yellow cigarette paper.
"Report to this address." he said.
"How the devil am I to get to San Francisco?" I demanded. I haven’t even five dollars."
Siu shrugged his thick shoulders. "You may wait for the money, or you may travel without money. There is nothing a Bolshevik cannot do. In any case, turn over your contacts to Comrade Sano.”

Chapter Twelve - FROM SHANGHAI TO SAN QUENTIN

OPPOSITE THE CUSTOMS JETTY, on the other side of the river, lay the American liner President Wilson. Her home port, San Francisco, was painted across her stern. She was due to sail at dawn. I boarded her during the night, and crawled into a lifeboat on the after deck. Early in the morning, peering through a hole I had cut into the tarpaulin, I saw that the liner was already plowing seaward. I lay face down beneath the thwarts and listened to the far-off hammering of the engines. So a peaceful day passed. I thought I was well on the way to California. But the night brought a surprise.
Unearthly howls came from somewhere quite near the lifeboat. As the howling continued, with brief intervals of quiet, I remem­bered that wild beasts were often transported in cages to some zoological garden, and thought such a cage had been placed on the after deck. The howling was full-voiced, long-drawn, ending on a note of utter desolation.
I finally squirmed out of the boat to investigate. The stars shone bright in a violet night. Alongside the lifeboat stood a tent. From the inky interior of the tent came the smell of flowers, and the howls.
I entered the tent and struck a match. In the tent was a coffin. The coffin was covered with flowers. At the head of the coffin, fastened to the tent pole, stood the portrait of a Chinaman. Crouched against the side of the coffin was a fat little dog. I sat down on the coffin and caressed the dog. We became friends, and the dog stopped howling.
Suddenly I was startled by the thought that the man in the coffin must be a Chinaman, the one whose portrait was fastened to the tent pole. Chinamen are never carried from China for burial in America; but wealthy Chinese who died in America were often carried to China to be buried in their homeland. I came to the conclusion that the President Wilson was not heading for America.
I rushed out of the tent and scanned the horizon. On the board side, barely visible, was a low-crouched shoreline. It to me that the President Wilson was steaming south, not toward California, but away from it, to Hongkong, perhaps, or Manila, or Singapore!
It was Hongkong. I changed my hiding place to a lifeboat as far away as possible from the corpse and the mourning dog, and two days later I abandoned the President Wilson among the piers of Kowloon.
Across the wharf lay another liner, the Empress of Canada. Smoke poured from her yellow funnels.
"Where’s she going to?" I asked a shipchandler’s runner.
"To Vancouver—she’s the fastest ship on the Pacific."
Lights blazed from the run-planks and the godowns. The clatter of winches merged with the chatter of tourists and the yells of many Chinamen in the magic singsong of the waterside. Darting through the crowd, I mounted the gangway.
"Ticket, please," chanted a uniformed watchman.
I waved a piece of paper under his nose. "A telegram for Collins," I bawled, leaping past the guard into the stream of passengers.
Ships did not puzzle me. I veered into a passageway, climbed a companion, ran along the promenade deck, climbed a ladder, rushed for the Empress’ third funnel. No smoke came from it. It was a dummy, put there for esthetic reasons. On a long voyage inside of a funnel was a better hiding place than a lifeboat. I climbed the narrow iron ladder to the platform near the upper of the stack.
The siren roared. Whistles shrilled. Soon the ship was moving. The sweetish smell of the shore dropped out of the wind and the Empress of Canada forged out to sea. I curled up on a soot-covered grating and slept. The smoke from the forward stacks blotted out the stars.
Before sunrise next morning I climbed down to the deck. I slipped into a luxuriously appointed bathroom. The night aloft had turned me as black as a chimney sweep. I bathed and shaved and cleaned my clothes. I washed my only shirt and dried it over the hot-water pipe. Then I went out on the promenade deck.
Immediately a short, tough-looking man in white and gold accosted me. From the marking on his sleeves I knew him to be the master-at-arms, a sort of seagoing police chief. Without ceremony he asked:
"Do you travel first class?"
"No," I told him, "third."
"I’m sorry," he said, "but this is the first class deck. The third class is forward, two decks below this."
I decamped. The ’tweendecks teemed with a conglomeration of Chinese, Eurasians and a few nondescript whites. Hawkers of soups, biscuits and colored drinks blocked the passageway.
Hungry, I asked one of the flying cooks to let me taste his soup. The soup was hot and good. Just then a deep voice boomed behind me and an enormous paw gripped my shoulders. I whirled. Before me stood a giant in a shoddy brown suit, with fierce eyes and shaggy brown hair turning gray. His breath smelled of the bottle.
I said, "I’m just taking in breakfast."
"Breakfast you call that, what?" the giant bellowed. "Up the Andes and down the Amazon River! How about it? I’ve been looking for a fellow like you all along. From Iquitos to Para, astride a mahogany log! Name’s Ferguson—what’s yours?"
I gave him a name.
"Hell of a name," he boomed. "Come over here, an’ meet my friend Killman, Augustus Killman, the best man that ever skinned a Mandarin."
Killman was tall and stringy, with a weather-burned face and deep-set gray eyes. He gripped my hand with a painful grip, and by way of reply I stepped on his toes.
"You’re all right," he observed gravely.
Ferguson threw his arms around Killman’s neck and mine, and roared: "Up the Andes and down the Amazon, astride a mahogany log."
It was the beginning of the most hilarious illegal voyage I had ever made. The two asked me to join a fan-tan tournament con­ducted by a potbellied Chinaman and a few half-caste bodyguards on the after hatch. Ferguson gave me ten dollars after I had ad­mitted that I was penniless. I gambled, won at first, and then lost all. Ferguson lost. Killman won steadily, and by sunset his pockets bulged with accumulated rolls of silver.
"Let’s go an’ have supper," Ferguson said.
I told him I could not go to the dining room because I was a stowaway. Ferguson was not surprised.
"Wait here," he said.
After dinner Ferguson and Killman invited me to their cabin. From his coat, Ferguson drew a steak, bread, butter and cheese, all wrapped up in a napkin.
"Eat," he boomed. "Up the Andes . . ."
For eight days I moved freely about the ship, undiscovered. Ferguson supplied me with food which he smuggled from the dining room. He also lent me a set of clean clothes. Each day ended in a wild drinking bout. The nights I spent in deck-chairs and bathrooms. Shanghai, Yokohama and the Inland Sea lay well astern. The Empress of Canada cleaved eastward through the open Pacific. America lay only nine days ahead.
It was then that Ferguson, whose liquor supply had given out, said he was tired of "carrying steaks in his pockets." He proposed that I should go into the dining room and take my meals with the other passengers.
I did. It was on the ninth day out of Hongkong. At Ferguson’s side I had breakfast and lunch without mishap. During dinner. however, I saw the Eurasian steward count the heads at his tables. I saw him shake his head and count again. Then he disappeared.
"We’ll tell him you’re our son," chuckled Killman.
The steward bobbed up in the doorway. With him was a man from the purser’s office. Both counted. They counted one more than they had on their list. They whispered, and the man from the purser’s office narrowed his eyes and nodded. The next minute the steward handed me a sheet of note paper and pencil. Suavely he requested me to write down my name and the number of my cabin.
"G. F. Collins," I wrote. "Stateroom 36."
"Please call at once at the purser’s office, sir," the steward purred.
I went topside and climbed to the lofty, soot-encrusted platform inside the upper rim of the Empress’s third funnel. They found me after a two-hour search. A grinning sailor told me to come down. Three uniformed men received me.
"Beg pardon, sir, may we see your ticket?"
"Sorry, I have none."
"No ticket? Why?"
"No money."
They brought me to the captain.
Who’re you?" the captain demanded.
"Stowaway, sir."
Nationality?"
"American, sir."
"That’s what they all say. Name?"
"Collins."
"Humph! Why not Smith? Got any papers?"
"No, sir."
"Sell ’em?"
"Lost ’em."
The captain smiled broadly. "Got any baggage?"
"No, sir."
"See what he has in his pockets."
The master-at-arms searched me. The search produced a watch, a knife, a razor, a toothbrush and three handkerchiefs.
Then I was assigned to the bosun, a blustering Irishman, and put to work, scraping teak skylights, doors and railings from morning to night with steel scrapers and pieces of glass. I was not alone. I shared the ship’s prison—an emergency lazarette on the forward part of the boat deck—with five unkempt Russians, flotsam of the Shanghai waterfront, all of them stowaways caught the first day out.
Time and space spun by. Each day five hundred miles of the Pacific Ocean rushed past the liner’s flanks. I plotted and planned means of escape. Killman had procured for me several pounds of butter. This I augmented with bosun’s grease, which is used to grease the blocks and shackles. I found that if I stripped and coated my body with grease and butter, I would be able to wriggle through a porthole. I practiced at night while the Russians were asleep.
Near land the weather changed. The sky was covered with flying scud. There loomed the coast, the hills, the jutting head­lands of America. The master-at-arms herded me together with the Russians into the lazarette. He counted: "One, two, three, four, five, six. All right, boys. We’ll keep you here till the police come aboard." The heavy teak door slammed shut. The key turned in the lock. The ship cut shoreward, and a little later her anchor rumbled to the bottom. Quarantine. Two hours later the Empress nosed her way into Victoria harbor.
The Russians jabbered like excited baboons. They planned to escape after overpowering the Chinaman who would bring us food. The Chinaman came, cautiously, and shoved our breakfast through a porthole which opened on the boat deck. As soon as he had gone, I took off my clothes. I greased my body from shoulder to hip. I threw my clothes out on the boat deck. Then I followed —head out, arms out, shoulders . . . I jammed on with clenched teeth. The hard brass ring took off strips of my skin.
Outside I dressed. I put on a pair of sun-glasses I had picked up during the voyage, and mingled with the crowd. People thronged over the gangway. The master-at-arms stood chatting at the rail. He did not recognize me. Two immigration officials at the gang­way stopped me.
"Passport?"
I had expected that question.
"Oh, I just came aboard here to ask the mate for a job,"I explained.
"How did you get aboard?" one of them snapped.
"With the shipchandler—he’s my uncle."
I walked ashore, rounded the corner of a shed, and continued hastily toward the town. Soon a car stopped beside me. My heart missed a beat. A man leaned out of the car.
"Hey," he called out, "do you want a lift?"
Ten minutes later I pondered my situation in a little park on the other side of Victoria. During the day I hid in an empty barge. At night I roamed the waterfront. Far off, barely visible across the Straits of Juan de Fuca, which separates Vancouver Island from the mainland in the south, lay the United States.
I found a rowboat which was tied to a pole, slipped off the painter, and shoved out into the current-infested waters. A wind was blowing. Visibility was low. I rowed madly, heading south. The boat pitched in the sea, standing all but upright at times, and often I had to stop and bail with my cap. I sang in the night, "Death to hangmen, kings and traitors . . ." I fought the urge to turn around and give up. I cursed myself as a ludicrous lunatic. But I rowed. I rowed all that night. I rowed all of the following day. I rowed all through the following night. I was wolfishly hungry. I soaked my handkerchief in the rain and sucked it dry. My hands were covered with open blisters. I felt that any moment I might crumple in the bottom of the boat and wail.
About eleven in the morning of the third day I landed on a wooded shore. I pushed my boat back into the current, empty, and then collapsed and slept. It was night when I awoke. I found a road and followed it. It led to a small town—Port Angeles. I crossed through Port Angeles and struck a highway which led south.
After considerable hitch-hiking, I arrived in San Francisco, broke but triumphant. I went to report to the address Siu had given me in Shanghai, a rooming house on Clay Street, and asked for Miss Green. I was directed to a comfortable room three flights up. There I confronted a severe-looking girl who wore spectacles. But when she stepped, forward, I saw at once that her austerity and her spectacles were camouflage. She had a firm-fleshed body and mischievous eyes. She was not American. Her name, I felt, was not Miss Green.
"I am the comrade from Shanghai," I said.
"You came like this?"
"I came as a stowaway."
She was not suspicious. Mandalian had sent a cable after my departure from China. She made tea and sandwiches.
"What’ll be my job here?" I asked.
"You’ll see," she said, obliquely.
"American Party work?"
"No. We’ve no contacts with the Party in the United States. It has gone down to two thousand members this year."
"Well, what am I to do?"
"You’ll know soon," she smiled.
The girl went out to telephone and to get me some clothes. I bathed and slept until she returned. "The chief will see you at nine," she said.
In a cozy restaurant, near the Golden Gate Park, the chief was waiting. He was a Russian who posed as an engineer, and went under the name of Getsy. He was a slender man in his forties, with a quiet, intellectual face. His hair and eyes were gray and the suit he wore also was gray. He had the guarded, monotonous voice of a man who had acquired the trick of talking while appearing to be asleep.
Getsy was well informed about my Party record. "Avoid seeing any of your friends here on the Coast," he warned me. "No one except the people I designate must know that you are in California." Turning to the girl, he added, "Give him some money, Gushi."
The girl took a few bills from her purse and pushed them to­ward me over the table.
"Is there anything else you need just now?"
I looked at the girl. The name Gushi fitted her much better than the distant "Miss Green." She showed her throat and laughed. With half-closed eyes, the Russian gazed at me through the smoke of his cigarette.
Three days I loafed, with nothing to do but to follow my whims. Gushi had arranged for a room for me in the same house in which she lived. Whenever she was not busy with liaison duties for Getsy, we were together. It was obvious from her attitude that she disliked and feared her superior. She never spoke to me about the nature of his activities. She was, I gathered, the only person who knew where Getsy had his secret quarters.
"He is a comrade," she said on one occasion, "but . . . he is not human. Nothing exists for him outside his work."
Even more than the run of Comintern workers on foreign mis­sions, Gushi lived on an island of her own, which had almost noth­ing in common with the habits and customs of the surrounding enemy world. She was forbidden to have friends outside the staff of Getsy’s Apparat. Every new acquaintance, no matter how harmless, was regarded with suspicion. To her and her kind,—and there were thousands like her in the Soviet secret services,—all the normal recreations of healthy young people were closed. She would never be able to go her own way, never have a husband and children, never have a real home. The psychological result was a cool and brazen make-believe defiance which had its roots in hidden loneliness and discontent. Gushi was glad to have me as her companion. And I was glad to have her.
"Let’s forget everything," Gushi said. "Let’s have an orgy."
She sent the house porter for Italian food and liquor, and then we locked the door and drew the shades. Somehow, death-like exhaustion brought on a feeling of freedom. During the day, when Gushi was away on Getsy’s business, I rode to the beach and swam through the breakers. At times I thought of swimming out farther and farther, until my strength would leave me and make it im­possible for me to return. But I always returned. Gushi would fold up her work when I arrived. "Any news for me?" I would ask. Then Gushi would thrust her body forward, and say brusquely: "Not yet. Let’s drink moonshine. Let’s light a candle. Let’s have an orgy."
On the fourth day Getsy called me to a conference. Again I met him near Golden Gate Park. He was immaculately colorless, and he gave his instructions in a cold voice. It was a matter of launching a transport of illegal communist literature to Japan. The President Jefferson, of the Admiral Line, was due to sail from Seattle to the Orient. Aboard the liner four communists served as members of the crew. They were to smuggle a large consignment of Japanese pamphlets to Yokohama. The position of Japan in the Orient was of the greatest significance for the revolution in China. Next to Britain, Japan was the strongest imperialist factor in the East. The success of a revolution in China depended in part upon effective obstruction—by strikes and sabotage—of Japanese inter­vention. Since the lines of communication between Vladivostok and Nippon were too closely guarded by the Japanese secret service, all transmissions of money and propaganda material from Moscow to Japan were diverted over the West Coast ports of the United States.
Together with Gushi, I went to Seattle to attend to the shipment which had come by way of New York, packed securely into barrels. I mobilized our assistants aboard the President Jefferson, saw to the re-packing of the pamphlets into many smaller units, their transportation and safe concealment aboard the ship, and fixed the passwords to be given to the recipients of the shipment. In less than a week Gushi cabled the Comintern cover address in Yokohama that the "toys" were on their way.
Gushi was a tireless worker. All her emotional savagery evapo­rated when she switched her mind to organizational duties. Exalted over the smooth consummation of our assignment, I bought some pretty presents for her and two tickets for a play. She was so pleased that she squeezed my arm and began to dance.
"After the play, let’s go and dance," she said. "I haven’t been to a dance in eternities."
"You look different," I said, as she brushed her thick blonde hair before the mirror in our hotel room.
"I am different."
There was a knock on the door. It was a telegram from Getsy. He ordered me to proceed at once to Los Angeles. He was waiting for me in a hotel. Gushi’s face tightened as I read the message. Her shoulders sagged. "We’ll dance another time," she said, adding, with shrill sarcasm: "We’ve no time to be silly, my friend. It’s marschier oder krepier!" [24]
"What is this about?" I asked, pointing to the telegram. "I cannot tell you," she answered slowly.
We parted at the station. I never saw Gushi again.
Late the following night I arrived in Los Angeles. I rode straight to Getsy’s hotel. He was in pajamas, a gray-faced somber figure working over papers that were spread out on the desk and on chairs. A fog of cigarette smoke hung in the room. He gathered his papers and locked them into his briefcase before he uttered a word.
"What happened in Seattle?"
"No mishap. Gushi notified Yokohama."
"Very well."
Getsy paced the room, his eyes on the carpet. "There is a serious job you must do," he said.
"All right. What is it?"
"An execution," Getsy said mildly.
I was suddenly on guard. I became tense and inexplicably nervous. This was not what I had expected. Getsy kept pacing the room. His slippers made no sound on the carpet. I noticed that his eyes avoided me. I waited. In a barely audible monotone Getsy went on:
"In the ranks of the revolution we must distinguish three types of hidden enemies. To begin with, there are the trained spies and agents provocateurs without whom no police department could score even a temporary victory over our units. The best of these men are smuggled into the movement from the outside; the rest are recruited from among the weaklings and unstable partisans who have stumbled into the Party by mistake. The second category are the saboteurs and disrupters of Party campaigns and Party unity. And then there are those whom we accepted as sincere revo­lutionists, whom we trusted and honored with important responsi­bilities, and who saw fit to betray our trust for their own personal gain. The individuals of this last group are by far the most dangerous and despicable. They are the slimy buccaneers who sell the lives of our comrades for money, who steal and plunder and use blackmail, who ferret out our secrets to auction them away to doe highest bidder. Such creatures must be hunted down and de­stroyed like the vipers they are. To leave them alive would be a crime to our movement. This you surely understand. We have no means to bring traitors to an open trial. But we have the means to punish them. Sometimes the traitor flees and goes into hiding, and retribution is delayed. We search for him, and when we find him, we must punish him regardless of how much time and space he has put between himself and his treachery. It is of such a man that I speak."
It seemed as if Gushi’s lips were whispering into my ear: "Dear comrade, do you see now why we needed you in America? Some­where, far away, a tribunal of comrades has condemned a traitor to death, and you were chosen to do the hangman’s work. Marschier oder krepier,—march or croak,—and close your eyes if that will make you feel better."
The cigarette I smoked burned my lips, and I snatched it from my mouth. In front of me stood Getsy in wine-colored pajamas, holding an ashtray in his thin gray hands.
"I doubt if I’ll make a good terrorist," I said.
"This is not a matter of terrorism. Acts of terrorism are com­ponents of a definite revolutionary offensive. Consider this execu­tion as an entirely internal affair."
"It’s murder, Comrade Getsy."
"Nonsense. Suppose you have a family. Suppose you have chil­dren you dearly love. Suppose you invite a man whom you con­sider a good friend to stay in your home. Suppose this man who enjoys your hospitality takes a butcher knife and cuts the throats of your children, steals your possessions, and escapes. Is it murder to kill such a man?"
"No."
"Very well."
"Where is the fellow?"
"Here in Los Angeles," Getsy said.
He walked to a closet and rummaged in a pocket of his coat. He took out an envelope, and-from it he drew a photograph the size of half a postcard.
"Look at it."
I scrutinized the photograph. It showed the head and the chest of a middle-aged man of heavy Jewish features.
"This man," Getsy said coldly.
"Executions are G.P.U. business," I said.
"Just so!"
"I think a comrade better trained than I should do it."
"I have no other man at hand. It is a pressing matter. All the preliminary work has been done. We have the address." Mutter­ing, he said: "Don’t think this is a personal affair. The decision to wipe out this snake does not come from me."
"What did he do?" I demanded.
"What affair is it of yours?" Getsy snapped.
Fear, anger and a stubborn sense of duty battled inside of me. "Suppose I resign?" I said irately. "And go back to Germany."
Getsy stiffened. "Resign? I trust you said that rashly. Once in a while we dismiss a man—for cowardice, for disloyalty, maybe for unproletarian conduct. But resign?"
"I did not mean it."
"I know you did not."
"It is one thing to shoot an enemy in barricade fighting. Shoot him in self-defense. Or in a red rage. An altogether different thing is a deliberate killing," I tried to argue.
"A difference of degree, no more," said Getsy.
"If I am to take a man’s life, I want to know why."
Getsy came up to me and put his hands on my shoulders. "My dear comrade," he said. "This man is a traitor—and that’s enough. Traitors must die. That’s a universal law, as old as the first tribe."
"Well, I’ll have to find out."
"In our organization independent investigations are not per­missible. You know that."
"Give me time to think."
Getsy resumed his pacing. I sat in a deep chair, my hands cupped over my head, trying to straighten out a disturbing turmoil in my brain: I had accepted the principle of Red Terror as a necessity. Counter-revolutionists, speculators, spies, traitors, usurers had no right to live. What then was my objection to sending a traitor to the devil with my own hands? A just man sitting by the fireside and reading that a dangerous criminal had been hanged until dead might grunt with warm satisfaction. A judge who had sentenced some luckless scarecrow to the gallows might go home afterward to enjoy a good steak and relax with his wife. But would the just man grunt with satisfaction and the judge find pleasure in his steak and the embrace of his wife if they had to do the hanging with their own hands?
Getsy was pacing to and fro, his hands clasped behind his back, talking, talking. His monotonous voice seemed to cast a spell over the whole room, until it was as gray and pitiless and impersonal as the owner of that voice himself, which was saying: "Bourgeois ethics are not our ethics. Humanitarian considerations, where enemies of the revolution or the Soviet State are concerned, savor of petty bourgeois sentimentality which is incompatible with the demands of class war and the expansion of Soviet power."
Was I a blubbering weakling? Was I seeking refuge in the moral and esthetic ramifications of a world to which I had never belonged? Getsy spoke of his life in the outlawed organizations of the Bolsheviki in Czarist times, told how the hunted revolution­ary workers of St. Petersburg and Kiev had captured and executed Ochrana spies in cellars and in the woods. He spoke of Tcheka work during the years of civil war. He spoke of the legions of workers who had become the victims of treachery and were now rotting in countless prisons and graves. Must it be reported to Moscow that I refused to carry out a revolutionary task? That I indirectly strove to shield a traitor to the cause from his in­evitable end? Or that I accepted the law that traitors must die, but was too weak and hesitant to uphold it in action? That a better, more devoted comrade than I must be employed for the task? Did not the Comintern possess the status of an army at war? Was it not everywhere understood that a soldier in the front line trenches who refused to level his gun at the foe had forfeited his own life?
There was no way out. Getsy stopped near enough to touch me. His voice was so low that it could not be heard more than a few feet away. Was I afraid of having my neck broken under the gallows for murder? "To prevent that is merely a question of organization," Getsy said. Thousandfold worse than hanging was ostracism from the Party. Here was a traitor who thought he had at last found a safe refuge. He would use the knowledge he had, to destroy those whose trust he had betrayed. Therefore he himself must be destroyed.
"Comrade Getsy," I wanted to say, "why not do the assassinat­ing yourself?"
"All right," I said. "I shall do it."
Getsy let himself drop into a chair.
"When?" I asked.
"Without delay," Getsy said. "Is your head clear? Very well: Let’s consider the details." The Russian’s voice was dry and cold.
The following days were filled with a mad exasperation, a wild craving for sleep and escape, and futile efforts at self-hypnosis to shut out and down the agony brought on by doubts and hesita­tions. The specters of that bloody Hamburg October of 1923 now came back to plague me. It was not fear that troubled me. It was a battle between my blind sense of duty and the spontaneous re­bellion of my nature against the alien savor of the projected enter­prise. The struggle left me mutinous and in a daze. In a daze, clumsily, I tackled the assignment, in a manner that would have drawn contemptuous jeers from Hugo Marx and the fatuous Felix Neumann. I found the man whom Getsy’s spies had tracked down, and assaulted him in broad daylight off a crowded street, knowing beforehand that the assault would end in failure. I struck him once with the butt of a revolver, in a gesture of violence that was more a blundering appeasement of a perverse sense of duty than the expression of an intent to destroy. My astonished quarry roared for help, and I ran like a man in a trance, vaguely aware of the fact that I had not even made the least preparation for a successful getaway.
A truck driver was running in my direction. Barbers emerged from a nearby barber shop. They rushed in pursuit of me, swing­ing their scissors. I ran two blocks and then darted into a small hotel, and up the stairs to reach the roof of the building. I fell on the stairs, and when I rose I saw the truck driver and three barbers storm up the staircase.
"Stand back," I said.
The foremost barber, a lanky, fearless individual, brandished his scissors.
"Stand still, or we’ll rip you to pieces."
I made no attempt to resist them. Complete indifference and a great weariness engulfed me. The barbers led me to the barber shop. A hooting crowd followed.
"Hit him on the jaw! String him up!" There were yells and laughter.
"First man who hits him gets ripped up," a barber warned.
Then police arrived. Handcuffs were snapped around my wrists.
"All right, boy, come along now," a policeman said comfortably.

I was questioned by two detectives in a large room on the ground floor of the Los Angeles city jail. Both were powerful men in their thirties. Occasionally they made notes on large yellow pads. They seemed satisfied with the information I gave about myself until they touched the cause of my arrest.
"What’d you hit this man for? What was the big idea?" I was silent.
"Why’d you do it?"
"He sneered at me and I got mad at him."
"Aw, go on. You want us to get rough with you?"
Silence.
"We’re going to knock the living Jesus out of you. How’d you like that?"
I looked toward the door. Outside the sun shone brightly. A detective saw the direction of my glance. He picked up his re­volver from the table.
"Don’t try to run," he growled. "I’ll brain you with this." "I’m not going to run," I said.
"Who were your partners?"
"I had no partners."
"The lone wolf, what? You better tell us who your partners were."
Silence.
One of the two got up and stepped behind me. He grasped my hair and jerked my head backward. His free fist tapped the ridge of my nose.
"Come on, now—who were your partners?"
"I tell you I did it alone," I cried.
"Where do you live?"
"I had no room. I came into town this morning."
"Where’d you come from?"
"British Columbia."
"You look like a guy who’s responsible for a lot of holdups around here."
"I did nothing of the sort."
"No? How long you been a gunman? Who’re you working for anyhow?"
"I’m working for nobody. I came here to find a job."
By this time four or five other detectives had assembled and were standing around me in a close circle. Using their fists they began to push me back and forth in the circle. All of them mut­tered threats. When they stopped, one of them said: "You better come clean. Tell us all about it."
The questioning continued for another half hour, without further results. I felt depressed. Inwardly I cursed Getsy. The detectives, skeptical as they were, failed to penetrate my defense. My lips were swollen and the left side of my face was bruised before the rough-and-tumble interview ended.
I was thrown into a large, cage-like space in what seemed to be the basement of the building. The floor was of iron. The sides consisted of steel bars covered with strong wire meshing which reached from floor to ceiling. The ceiling also was of iron. Around the outside of the cage was a narrow runway for the guards and beyond that the grimy outer walls of the building. There was no window in sight. Electric lights glared day and night. Dirty canvas hammocks were suspended from steel racks in two tiers. In a corner was a faucet and a broken down toilet.
It was the filthiest jail of the many I have known. It was crammed with prisoners. The strongest, using their superior brawn, took possession of the hammocks. The weakest were forced to curl up on the iron floor. There were no blankets, no soap, and no toilet paper. Old pastmasters of bestiality and frightened first offenders, burglars, auto thieves, pimps and boys caught drinking from a hip flask rubbed shoulders freely. Men picking vermin out of their shirts during the day, and sexual perverts struggling with newly acquired punks during the night, were a common sight. The sounds of banging doors and names shouted by policemen and trusties made a continuous noise. Recalcitrant prisoners were manhandled by the trusties under the eyes of police officials. An exasperated negro who kept yelling for morphine was beaten per­haps ten times during a single day.
"What now?" I asked myself. "Will the Comintern make a cam­paign in my behalf?" Never. That was clear. The solicitude which Moscow showed for men of the caliber of Gorev-Skoblevski was not for the much more numerous lesser legionnaires in the service. No one would bicker for an exchange of prisoners in my case, even if such a thing would be feasible in America. My chiefs would expect me to "march or croak"—or both, as all the generals expect their cannon fodder to do. I listened to a fellow prisoner explain luxuriously the details of a hanging. A policeman and two trusties were beating the sick negro because he kept on howling for morphine. The negro writhed on the dirty steel, whining a prayer. His torturers had flushed faces, as if each had come straight from a successful seduction. A rough voice barked at the negro: "Pipe down, you black bastard!"
Toward the end of the second day I was called out of the cage and ushered into a small windowless room. Here I waited, sur­rounded by absolute silence, wondering what was to come.
Finally a detective entered. I had not seen him before. He greeted me jovially and offered me a cigarette.
I sat down, looking into his bland smile.
"Now, my boy," he began, "you know why you’re here and you know that this situation can bring you in a tight spot if you don’t act just right. You’re a bright young fellow, and I’m not going to try to fool you because I know that won’t work. I’ve got a son about your age; so I’m sorry to see a youngster like you in this place. I thought I’d come in and find out from you what was the trouble. Don’t tell me anything if you don’t want to. Those other guys who hit you don’t know their face from a hole in the ground. Just too dumb, you see? I believe in giving a man a decent break. I thought I’d come to see you and let you tell me your story just as it happened. I’d be glad to help you. Now just take it easy. Don’t tell me a whit if you think that’s the smart thing to do."
This was dangerous. I gripped my hands tightly under the table and told the same story I had told the detectives who had first examined me.
"That’s all right," my questioner continued after I had ended. "But why should a nice kid like you try to protect anybody who doesn’t deserve it? You ain’t the kind to beat daylights out of a fellow because he wouldn’t give you a drink of water. Did that man hurt you sometime before? Or play you some dirty trick? Or was just somebody else trying to make a sucker out of you, making you bash in another guy’s brains? What’d you get out of it? Noth­ing! And the guy who hired you, why, maybe he’s wrapping himself around a good juicy steak with fried potatoes right now. Ain’t I right?"
I struggled against the hypnotic effect of the man’s persuasive voice. The method he used was one no prisoner expects to en­counter. His eyes were kind; his face remained pleasantly relaxed. With a clumsy show of doggedness I held on to the original version of my motive.
The other purred on, "Why, I could get you a suspended sen­tence easy. A boy like you don’t belong in jail. Think of all the nice girls walking around outside. Or all the boys of your age taking out the girls in their cars. Take ’em to a good dinner, take ’em to the beaches. That’s fun, kid! You could stay at my house when you get out till you’ve found yourself a good job. I wouldn’t mind that. Only I sure hate to see you in jail."
The man was an expert. He did not know how near he was to winning his clever battle when he looked at his watch and pre­tended to be astonished how quick the time had passed. He patted me on the shoulder and shook hands.
"Well, so long. Think it over. I’ll see you again."
I did not see him again. But I was visited later by the same detectives who had questioned me immediately after the arrest. They were in shirt sleeves, and one of them had a two-foot piece of garden hose in his hand. The other put a piece of paper and a pencil on the table.
"Better write down the names of your confederates," he com­manded. "Write down what you tried to do. Write ’robbery’ or ’attempted murder’ or whatever it was."
I bent down over the table and took the pencil into my hand. I wrote nothing.
One detective clamped my head under his crooked arm and his colleague flogged me with the piece of rubber hose. When he had finished, his face was red and he was breathing hard. The other twisted my arm. But I did not write. The detectives left me. They promised to return in five minutes to continue the procedure. That was all I saw of them.
My next abode was the county jail atop the skyscraper City Hall. This was a highly modern place of confinement, clean, and operated in an efficient manner. The prisoners were kept in batches of thirty in long, narrow cages. At night we were locked into two-man cells the doors of which were opened and closed by electricity. At no time were we let out for exercise in fresh air, as is the custom throughout Europe. But through partly opened windows we could see the street traffic far below, and the less restrained among us amused themselves by directing piercing yells at girls passing on the distant sidewalks. I studied the various types of outlaws, sneaks and simple unfortunates, and endeavored to understand their attitudes toward life. Weeks passed. I shunned all contacts with the outside world, so as not to endanger Getsy’s organization.
One morning I was called to one of the small visitors’ rooms. A dapper young man with long eyelashes and a flashy tie told me he was a lawyer, come to prepare my defense. I took him for a special sort of spy for the police.
"I need no lawyer," I said. "Please go away and leave me alone."
"I am satisfied," he smiled. "I see you have not weakened. Getsy sent me."
Startled, I was still distrustful. "Getsy?" I answered. "Oh, I re­member. He likes to wear loud neckties."
"No," the lawyer said promptly. "His ties are gray, always gray." That convinced me. I asked him what I should do.
"At any price, avoid questioning. We want no more inquiries. Don’t wait for a trial. Plead guilty, and get it over with."
"Plead guilty to what?"
"Anything. Make them stop probing. Don’t allow them to call up witnesses."
"All right.
"Ask for a public defender, and tell him you want to plead guilty."
That was all. He gave me a firm handshake, a keen glance, and then he departed as smoothly as he had come. A few days later I pleaded guilty in Superior Court to the charge of "assault with a deadly weapon." No witnesses were called; no further questions were asked. Two minutes after I had entered the court room, the judge sentenced me to from one to ten years in San Quentin prison.

BOOK TWO – THE DANCE OF DARKNESS

Chapter Thirteen - NEW WEAPONS

A THOUSAND DAYS I LIVED behind the gray walls of San Quentin, wearing the gray felon’s garb, rubbing shoulders with thousands of fellow convicts under the eyes and the clubs and the guns of the guards. I entered the prison in a mutinous mood, breathing and talking rebellion, and thinking of ways of escape. A man in prison is supposed to rot. Prisons are built to break men, and when a man is broken, society has consummated its revenge. But I was determined not to be broken. I recognized quickly how impotent even the toughest criminal was against the massive authority of the prison administration. As time went by I discarded all plans of escape, crushed the inner urge to play the futile role of a mutineer, and settled down in earnest to defeat the purpose of imprisonment by making myself stronger and more capable to fill my place in the revolutionary struggles of the future. Through the first year I toiled in the roar and clatter of the prison jute mill. In the second year I advanced to the job of a prison li­brarian. And the third year saw me as a teacher of languages and mathematics in San Quentin’s educational department. They were not peaceful years; prison life is not monotonous, but brimful of struggle and strife, victory and defeat in manifold forms.
Neither were they empty years, despite the utter absence of privacy and women. I was too occupied to suffer under such mild hardship. Far more important to me than yearning for pleasures beyond my reach was the forward plunge into a new world of zestful discoveries and intensive self-education. San Quentin gave me far more than it could take away. It had developed in me a passionate reverence for the universe of letters. I read and studied almost everything I could lay my hands on, from Lord Jim and Jean Christophe to Darwin’s Origin of Species and Bowditch’s Epitome of Navigation. I mastered English, learned French and Spanish, studied Astronomy, Journalism and Map-Making,—courses made available to the inmates of San Quentin by the University of California. I became a contributor to the prison maga­zine, the Bulletin, and in its printing plant became proficient in the craft of typesetting. Throughout this period I remained the loyal legionnaire of the Comintern. I had established a secret prison library of revolutionary literature, and had organized Marxist schooling circles and an atheist league among the convicts. Despite the prison censorship, I had maintained contact with the Comin­tern network outside. So immersed was I in my self-imposed task that I at first regarded my parole and subsequent release as an un­welcome disturbance of an engrossing life. However, the Comin­tern expected my return to Berlin. I left San Quentin in the first days of December, 1929.
"Luck to you," grinned the guard at the front gate.
Three days later I boarded a steamer bound for Europe. Le Havre was the first port of call. During the routine customs and police examination of passengers and crew a French official with wine-happy eyes singled me out for special attention. I had no French visa; neither had I any baggage or money. "Monsieur," he said, "you cannot travel in France. We must detain you." He escorted me to the Immigrant Home near the waterfront. There I was led to a room which contained a bed, a table, a washstand and a chair.
Departing; the officer said, "In the morning the authorities will decide what to do with you."
I did not wait for morning. My room had a tiny window, and twelve feet beneath the window ledge was the sidewalk of a quiet street. Throughout the night a middle-aged sentry patrolled around the building, passing every two or three minutes under my window. The night was raw and squally. I watched until the sentry had rounded a corner; then I wriggled out, feet first until I hung from the ledge. I let go, and dropped to the pavement. The wind whistled between the houses. At the end of the street, lights shone on a wharf. I ran. I was free!
I tramped the streets of Le Havre all night, intoxicated with deep draughts of freedom. A man lives his life only when he is marching, I thought, when he keeps marching onward at any price. When he stops marching, he decays. The joy of life is the joy of the experi­ence that comes from feeling one’s own strength. In the thousand days spent in San Quentin I had never stopped marching. That is why I strode the streets of Le Havre, through driving rain and darkness, with eager delight, drinking the raw December air like a honeymoon wine. I climbed high to the top of the steep promon­tory, where the lighthouse looms, for no other purpose than to shout my gladness and my challenge into the wind-filled night.
I came to my senses toward dawn. My shabby suit had wilted like burlap in the rain. The wind had carried away my cap, and my shoes were oozing water and mud. For two hours I wandered about in search of the offices of the Communist Party of Le Havre, but in vain. I did not ask for directions. People might become sus­picious at the sight of a disheveled foreigner inquiring for the communist headquarters.
I made my way to the harbor. Beyond a breakfast and a chance to dry my clothes there were three things I wanted most. I wanted to hear the word "Comrade." I wanted a woman. I wanted to feast my eyes and brain on something that was imper­sonal and beautiful at once. The first ship I boarded in my quest for breakfast was a British weekly boat from Cardiff. A Cockney officer, belching vituperation with enormous lung power, drove me off. It was good to hear the old Limey salt-water curses. Next I boarded a Norwegian Far Eastern freighter. The Norseman was as clean as the English ship was dirty, and the Norwegian sailors met me with the traditional hospitality of their country. They gave me a powerful breakfast of coffee, oatmeal, French bread, salt fish and chewing tobacco, and while I ate they unstintingly praised the temperament of the Le Havre wenches and the natural beauties of Norway. I stripped and hung my clothes over a radiator to dry.
At noon, while the crew was in the mess room for lunch, a young Scandinavian from ashore entered, and started out on a political harangue. He then pulled wads of leaflets from under his belt and distributed them to the sailors, who addressed the new­comer as Comrade Söder. The headline on the leaflets ran: "Who are the enemies of the seamen?" The emblem they displayed—a globe crossed by an anchor and a flag—was the insignia of the Maritime Section of the Comintern. Söder was a member of the Havre "activist" brigades. I almost hugged him for joy, and told him who I was. "Welcome, comrade," he said.
"Comrade" was still a magic word to me. Toward evening we walked ashore together. Söder warned me:
"Be careful about what you say when you meet the comrades higher up. You’ve been away a long time."
"Why careful?"
"Well, just be careful. There’ve been big clean-ups in the Comintern. The Comintern has changed its face. It has been unified. It is now going like a torpedo. One direction only. No more vagaries. No internal discussions. No compromises."
I was to learn much more about this change of face during the coming weeks. Zinoviev and Trotsky had been purged. Bukharin was pushed away from the helm of the Comintern. Stalin now dominated Russia and, therefore, the Comintern as well. He had launched the gigantic industrialization program of the Five­Year-Plan, and those who opposed him were trampled into the gutter. Purges in Moscow were followed by purges in the Comin­tern, whose organizations changed their role of assault troops of the world revolution for the role of defense guards of the Soviet Union. And the most militant formations of the Comintern fell into line with fervor; the Five-Year-Plan would make the Soviet Union the strongest industrial and military power on earth. That was de­cisive. The immense strength of the new Soviet Union would guar­antee the victory of the great revolutionary offensive of the future.
No army could boast of a more rigid organization or of a more uncompromising discipline than the Comintern under Stalin. In the consciousness of every communist the word Parteibefehl—Party Order—towered paramount and inexorable. Any display of inde­pendence and originality of spirit was regarded as caprice and manifestation of a bourgeois heritage. Courage, devotion, tenacity were demanded, and, above all, a blind trust in the idealism and the infallibility of the Politbureau in Moscow. With this policy, the backbone of the Comintern—the strata of "activists" between the top-flight leaders and the rank and file—was well content. An army whose generals were pulling in different directions was doomed to defeat.
Söder led me to the resident liaison agent of the Comintern and G.P.U. in Le Havre. Such agents are stationed in all important harbor and inland cities. Their official duty was to provide con­tacts and safe conduct for international functionaries assigned to, or passing through, their districts. They provided cover addresses for all conspirative mail and literature consignments. They received and distributed the Comintern subsidies for the local organizations. Aside from this, they had the function of keeping a close check on the "activities" and the private lives of Party members in the area under their supervision. All official reports of the Party leaders were tested for accuracy in Berlin and Moscow by comparing them with the concurrent secret reports of the liaison agent on the spot. Invariably these agents were natives of the country in which they worked; invariably they were on the payroll of the G.P.U.
The man at the head of the Apparat in Le Havre was a French schoolteacher named Cance, a dark, hard-boiled little man with a clipped mustache, who thoroughly enjoyed his job. He was a cap­tain-of-the-reserve in the army of the French Republic. He was still at his secret post as late as 1937, at the time of the abduction in Paris of the White Russian leader, General de Miller, all traces of whom were lost at Le Havre, where a Soviet steamer left on the morning after the abduction. Second in command of the Le Havre Apparat was his wife, a beautiful, gray-eyed, flaxen-haired young woman. They lived in a spacious, well-proportioned house of their own (58, Rue Montmirail), atop a hill overlooking the town, the mouth of the Seine, and the wide sweep of the harbor with its cleverly camouflaged shore batteries and fortifications.
M. Cance was a perfect host, and a marvel of efficiency. He jotted down the information I gave him about myself, put it instantly into code, and dispatched his young son to telegraph it to Berlin for verification. A few minutes later a succulent meal was on the table, together with wines and assorted liqueurs. Madame Cance was bewitching. Her cherry-red lips talked in a language that sounded like music. Before she married, she had been a dancer. Later in the evening she donned a flowing garment of raw silk, held together by a golden chain around her waist, and she danced while Cance played the fiddle. A pantomime which they called the "Death March of the Paris Commune" followed. It opened with a wild rhythm of advancing Communards and ended in a frantic "Vive la Commune!” and a piteous whimper before the exploding rifles of the firing-squad. Soon I was reeling through a voluptuous fog, not knowing whether it was due to the uncanny performance of Madame Cance, or the quantity of liquor I had poured down my throat. A score of times I saw the sanguine face of Cance bob through the mist and I heard his soldier voice yell:
"Buvez, mon ami, et vivez joyeux!" [25]
I had been a hard drinker in my earlier years at sea, but I was no match for Comrade Cance. He kept my glass filled and urged me to drink and to keep on drinking. He exhorted me to recount "the best adventures" of my youth. He did it to sound me out to rock-bottom.
"Certainement," Madame Cance laughed.
"It is to your own advantage, camarade," her husband added.
I talked like a waterfall, as men will talk when the pressure of prison has been lifted from their brains. It was Cance’s business to probe and to spy. I did not mind. I had nothing to fear. Their guest room, which was mine for the night, had sheltered, I was told, distinguished visitors: Romain Rolland, Bela Kun, Kuusinen, Albert Walter, Andre Marty, Tom Mann and a host of other Comintern agents, like the Finn Sirola, alias Miller, the Red Army General Gussev, alias P. Green, the Briton Harry Pollitt, who had stopped off here on their way from Moscow to New York. About each of them Comrade Cance had an amusing story to tell. Bela Kun had insisted that his interpreter must be a vivacious brunette, and willing to go to bed with him. Kuusinen had had a tom-cat’s aversion to cold water. General Gussev had brought his own vodka, and had demanded two girls at once. Harry Pollitt had blushed like a clergyman from Kensington. Albert Walter had been a perfect gentleman, but he detested women. Romain Rolland had droopingly regretted that he had taken his secretary along to Le Havre. And so on. With devilish versatility Comrade Cance impersonated them all. Madame Cance sipped liqueurs, and regarded her husband with steady eyes and a half-mocking smile. And then he unexpectedly produced the pictures of three girls. One by one he handed them to me, speaking the while as if explain­ing the layout of his garden to a friend:
"Voici, Suzanne—bitter-sweet and demure. Voilà la petite Babette, of large experience, but exquisite. Et c’est Marcelle—who is a real filly. They are the brides of the Comintern au Havre. Choose. Which one shall it be?"
I was too surprised to answer at once. Madame Cance leaned forward, and said earnestly: "Allez, camarade, pourquoi pas? To each according to his needs." Cance gave a barking laugh.
"We are no ascetics," he announced. "The Bolsheviki and the Parisians—there are no truer hedonists in our century."
"A comrade who comes from prison deserves the best," chimed in Madame Cance.
Cance telephoned. Marcelle was away; she had gone to visit her mother in Rouen. Suzanne was at home. Cance grinned into the telephone. A comrade de l’Amérique? Just returned from prison? Young? Of course, she would come!
Madame Cance retired. My host experimented with the radio. Dreamy waltz music streamed into the room. "We shall retain the best of bourgeois culture after we have destroyed the bourgeoisie," he observed. "You long for beauty! Don’t miss the Louvre when vou pass through Paris."
"The girl—is she a prostitute?" I asked.
"Mais non," he replied quickly, "elle est une activiste!
A message from Berlin, relayed over Basle to make it appear that it originated there, arrived in the middle of the night. It con­firmed my identity. I was awakened by singing at seven in the morning. In the vestibule of the house, Comrade Cance snapped commands as he, his wife and son were doing their morning gym­nastics. After breakfast of café-au-lait and dry French bread, my host supplied me with a hundred francs and an address in Paris, and drove me to the station. Suzanne was with us. She accompanied me to the train until a few seconds before its departure. Police agents looking for a supposedly homeless fugitive would never suspect him in a man escorted to a train by a chattering young lady. Soon I was speeding toward Rouen, and on, along the winding valley of the Seine, plunging through tunnels and many times crossing the meandering river. The sun shone on the boulevards when I arrived in Paris. The streets were strangely quiet. People were still resting from their Christmas celebrations.
At a Metro station I studied a plan of the city. I sauntered away at random, choosing the boulevards the names of which best ap­pealed to my imagination, and late in the afternoon I came upon the Seine in the vicinity of the Bastille. I followed the Seine until I came to the Louvre. There I crossed a little bridge to the left bank, traversed a gloomy dungeon-like passage, and found myself in a narrow old street lined with shops of book merchants and dealers in pictures and antiquities. It was Rue de Seine. I looked for number 63, the address of the liaison agent of the G.P.U. A sulky concierge answered the bell. Following the directions I had been given by Cance, I asked to see Monsieur Ginsburg, the architect. The concierge snapped to alertness. She gave me a piercing look. "Entrez, monsieur!". She led me through a silent courtyard and into a building in the rear. She opened a door, using a latch key.
"Entrez, monsieur."
I entered a small, completely empty room. Its only window opened into what seemed to be a narrow air shaft. I turned to the concierge that she had probably made a mistake. But the door had clicked shut. It had no knob on the inside. I was locked in. the other side, the concierge mumbled, "Attendez, monsieur."
After a while I heard a man’s voice, subdued, but angry. The door was opened. A slender young man of less than medium height greeted me.. He had a pale, sharply cut and intelligent face, sharp greenish eyes, and a high forehead. He wore glasses. "Bitte tausendmal um Verzeihung," [26] he said in cultured German, “Our friend Cance has telephoned me about you. The concierge is a fool. Please step into the atelier [27]. My name is Ginsburg."
The atelier was spacious and light. New steel furniture upholstered in bright colors, stacks of blueprints, bookshelves, office machines, maps, a vase full of yellow flowers, reproductions of famous paintings on the walls and a bronze miniature of the Laocoon Group on a pedestal in a corner, gave the place a mixed flavor of cold efficiency and cheerful warmth. R. W. (Roger Walter) Ginsburg was an architect, a thoroughgoing European of undefinable nationality. He had a charming young companion, a native of Alsace and a linguist of mark, whom he introduced to me as his wife. Her name was Doris. At a table, going through a stack of mail, sat two dusky, black-haired and black-eyed men. Hearing that I had come from the United States, they immediately engaged me in an excited conversation in which Doris Ginsburg acted as interpreter.
This architect’s office in the Rue de Seine was probably the most cosmopolitan rendezvous of the Soviet secret services in West Europe. Traveling instructors of the Comintern and agents of G.P.U., coming and going on the broad road that led from Moscow to Berlin and Paris, never neglected to call on Roger Ginsburg for their mail, for an exchange of passports, for money, for accommodation in the homes of Party members, or to contact collaborators, to collect material for internal intrigues, and deposit their reports for delivery to the next courier to Berlin Moscow. No incriminating written material, other than that which callers could carry in their pockets, was ever allowed to litter the atelier. For each branch of his department Ginsburg maintained a separate apartment in adjoining houses, the tenants of which were Party members assigned to serve the Apparat. The Parisian Sûreté, supposedly so crafty, was a laughing stock in Ginsburg’s atelier.
I was quartered in the Hotel d’Alsace, in a quiet street branch­ing off from the Rue de Seine. It was a Comintern hotel, staffed by communists, and managed by a husky blonde woman who ran­sacked the rooms of her guests whenever it pleased her, tolerating no scrap of evidence of revolutionary schemes in her domain. She spoke English in the American way. Her "Okays" rang through ceilings and walls. When someone telephoned, she insisted on listening to what was said, though she offered no objections when her guests brought girls into their rooms, provided that the pur­pose was not dictation, but l’amour!.
The two dark-haired individuals I met during my first call at the atelier turned out to be communist chieftains from South America. One was Urso, from Paraguay, the other was Perez, the head of the Uruguayan Communist Party. Both had come from Moscow, and they were stopping off in Paris to await the arrival of an important comrade from Berlin, one Harry Berger, to confer on the details of a certain campaign in the Latin-American coun­tries. I almost emitted a guffaw when I saw the powerful head and the square shoulders of "Harry Berger" appearing in the room. I recognized him in a flash. He was Arthur Ewert, who had been my political instructor at the Communist University in Leningrad. I gave no sign of recognition. Neither did he. To the South Amer­icans, he was Camarado Berger. After a few jovial preliminaries, he tore into them with sledge-hammer blows of broken Spanish, berating them, I gathered, for "syndicalistic tendencies" and "op­portunist deviations." Other callers interrupted, and the three de­parted to continue their conference in the Jardin des Tuileries.
On two afternoons I helped Doris Ginsburg to translate reports and resolutions from German into English. One of the documents was a manifesto of the Western Secretariat of the Comintern, calling for the organization of hunger marches in every country on February 1, 1930. Another was a report on the decisions made by an international conference of negro delegates in Vladivostok. A third contained a long list of factories and mines in Algeria and Tunisia, in which communist cells had been established. This was mere routine to Doris. To me it was fascinating work. It gave me a conception of the vastness of the organization of which I was a part.
The following morning Doris asked me to act as interpreter at a conference of a group of foreign communists, with Racamond and Frachon, the leaders of the Red Trade Union bloc in France, the CGTU, which counted several hundred thousand members and was the strongest section of the Profintern. Doris herself had other pressing work. I accepted her proposal with alacrity.
The conference took place in a worker’s dwelling in the suburb of St. Denis. I met the two Frenchmen at the headquarters of the Red Trade Unions, a rambling agglomeration of buildings on Rue des Granges aux Belles, and together with a quiet girl secretary we made the tedious journey to St. Denis. Julien Racamond was a scarred old oak among men, slow-moving, quick-thinking, one of the rare communist leaders who really had influence among the masses. His colleague, Benoit Frachon, a thick-set but mobile man, enjoyed the reputation of being the foremost expert on revolu­tionary strategy and organization in France. Sitting between them in the Metro, I felt much like a junior lieutenant jammed in be­tween two grizzled generals.
A strange group was waiting for us at the meeting place in St. Denis. There were four men and a woman. One was an emaciated and sad-looking East Indian. Beside him sat a pudgy, lively man whom the others addressed as Mustafa Sadi. He was a Syrian. The other two were Ratti, an Italian organizer from Marseilles, and Allan, a big, blond Scot, who looked like a prosperous merchant. The woman was quiet-eyed and reserved. She had rings on her fingers, and she crouched on the sofa with a fur coat wrapped around her. I later met her in England. She was the wife of a British Comintern agent with a long record of intrigues in Ger­many, the United States, and China. All of them spoke English. But Racamond and Frachon knew only French. Sentence by sentence I translated English into German, and the girl interpreter then put my German into French.
So, for the first time in my life, I had an opportunity to watch at first hand one of those informal conferences of conspirators of international caliber, which inevitably resulted in strikes, raids. shootings, headlines, and wholesale jailings in places hundreds and often thousands of miles away. This particular conference dealt with impending campaigns in Syria, Palestine, Transjordania, and Egypt. Mrs. Hardy made a report on the political situation in the Near East. Julien Racamond, heavy-handed and gruff, laid down the policy and the general line of action for the future. Benoit Frachon cleared up fine points of tactics. The subject of the con­ference was to decide on ways of harnessing the militant nation­alist element among the Arabs to the Comintern wagon. Propa­ganda literature was to be shipped. Arms were to be smuggled. Agitators and organizers had to be placed in every coastal town between Alexandrette and Alexandria. Then there was talk of chartering a Greek or Turkish steamer; of a Jewish superintendent in Tel Aviv whom no one suspected of being a communist; of slogans which would not meet with the antagonism of the Moslems on religious grounds; of the organization of terror groups to harass the soldiery of Britain and France; of campaigns to fight the sur­render to France of Syrian rebels who had been caught by British troops in Transjordania; of Arabs who were to be sent to a university in Moscow; of strikes and passive resistance; and of the advisability of launching a wave of sabotage acts against the rail­roads. The headquarters for the communist efforts in the Near East was located in Marseilles. Its traffic manager was Ratti, the Italian. Everybody present made notes, and everybody smoked and drank vin rouge.
This meeting had no secretary and no chairman. Racamond ruled it, and, I gathered, that he controlled the subsidies of the Comintern for the whole Near East. Sums were mentioned: five hundred francs, seven thousand francs, twelve million francs. The East Indian bargained in a hollow voice. Mustafa Sadi got up and shrieked like a hysterical woman, tears rolling down his ample cheeks, pleading with Racamond for a thousand francs more. Allan, the burly Scot, waxed sardonic. But Racamond, ably seconded by the cold-blooded Frachon, ruled the meeting. Raca­mond would jump to his feet and shake his enormous fists over the head of Mustafa Sadi, as if he were about to murder him. In no time at all, five hours flew by. The meeting broke up. Racamond, cracking jokes, departed. Frachon followed him like a shadow. The East Indian looked as if he was about to fall asleep. Mustafa Sadi mopped perspiration from his forehead. Allan scanned a London Times. The Englishwoman yawned and wrapped her fur coat tighter about her angular figure. Things were settled. Soon the money would change hands, printing presses would thunder, couriers would start out with false passports and suitcases with double covers, and somewhere in the Near East gendarmerie and troops were scheduled to work overtime.

Back in the Rue de Seine, where I went to receive final direc­tions for my departure to Berlin next day, Roger Ginsburg told me that Arthur Ewert wished to talk to me. Ginsburg said confidentially: "I think you should know that Comrade Ewert’s posi­tion in the Comintern is not very firm. He is a capable Bolshevik, but unfortunately he has a head of his own."
The Ewert I met was very gentle and very human, almost soft, which was a strange thing in a fighter of his experience and ability. He spoke of his past. From his job in Leningrad, he had been sent to America, and for some time he had been the virtual dictator of the Communist Party of the United States. An intrigue spun by Thälmann in Berlin had brought him back to Moscow in 1929. In such cases, it was difficult to discern where the political motives ended and the personal motives began. The two leaders then aired their differences in Moscow in the presence of Molotov and Manuilsky. Arthur Ewert was the loser. Yet Ewert was convinced that he was right. He favored an alliance with the German Social Democrats and a united front against the rapidly rising National Socialist Party of Hitler. On the other hand, Thälmann, backed by Moscow, maintained that the Socialists, the rivals in the camp of labor, were the chief enemies of the communist movement. "Der Hauptfeind ist die Sozialdemokratie!" [28] Molotov demanded that Ewert write a confession, admitting his bankruptcy, and that this document of humiliation be published in Imprecorr, the widely read foreign bulletin of the Comintern. Ewert was a true communist. A true communist cannot conceive of a life outside the Party. He humiliated himself. His confession was published on February 23, 1930. Ewert, as he spoke, accentuated each sentence with an almost apologetic smile.
"Why do you tell me all this?" I asked. "You are so much older in the movement than I."
"Because you are returning to Germany, my boy," he answered. "You are young. Your name still has a good sound in the move­ment. And it is youth that finally will decide the great issues. The young comrades in Germany should know that not Social Democracy, but Fascism, is the chief foe of the workers. I tell you we are making a horrible mistake!" Mournfully he added: "They are sending me to South America. Nothing will be decided there. The decisive battles will be fought in Germany."
This sounded convincing. But I remembered Söder’s admoni­tion, "Be careful. We are going like a torpedo. One direction only." And Ginsburg’s warning: "Unfortunately he has a head of his own."
"How can I know you are not pulling a personal oar?" I brazenly demanded.
Ewert emitted one of his broad, good-natured laughs. "Of course, I am," he said. "Tell me, who is not?"
"I don’t understand you."
"You will! The advent of Stalin has changed the Comintern. Obedience counts for more now than initiative, just like it was in the old Prussian army. Look around you with critical eyes. No Communist Party has a real, home-rooted leadership. And why? Because Moscow won’t permit it! The result is that a wooden-brained zealot like Ernst Thälmann leads the strongest Communist Party outside of Russia. A top-sergeant leading a Party on which hangs the fate of the world revolution!"
I grew rebellious. "Comrade Thälmann has been elected by the Party Congress," I said. "We owe loyalty to the leaders we elect because the principle of democratic centralism is fundamental in the Party."
"Rubbish," countered Ewert. "Stalin wiped out democracy and kept to centralism. Leaders are appointed, not elected. Every leader pulls his personal oar. Every leader strives to form his private net of spies and his secret private army to bolster him from the bottom. And the congress? I’ll tell you. Congresses are called when it is too late to check tyranny from the top. Congresses are convoked only to say ’Aye’ to cut-and-dried decisions. That may sound to your chaste ears like counter-revolutionary talk."
I was by now completely bewildered. This man had been my teacher. He was an authority on the credo which I had accepted body and soul. For a cornered mind, salvation lies in action. I did not ask myself who was right and who was wrong. I broke into the open with a challenge.
"Yes, Comrade Ewert, it does sound like counter-revolutionary talk!"
"And it isn’t," Ewert growled.
"You pursue factional interests. Even if your life is correct, it tends to disrupt Party unity."
"I don’t want to disrupt. I want you to see the truth and to let others know it."
"And then?"
"I don’t want to be melodramatic. But an alliance between us and the Social Democrats might shift the course of history for many years. It must be an honest alliance."
"We cannot make an alliance with traitors," I said.
"By saying that we are driving the strongest trade unions in the world into the bourgeois camp. We are making an error that may cost us all our lives. I don’t want to bulldoze you to accept my opinion. But I want you to think it over. I want you to raise this question with the rank and file of the German Party. The whole future of the revolutionary movement hinges on what is happen­ing in Germany this year and the next."
I bade good-by to Arthur Ewert. His eyes, deep under a bulging forehead, followed me to the door. The cold night air. lapping against my throat and crawling up my sleeves, made me aware that I was mumbling to myself. "No matter what our course," I told myself, "the Comintern is the only true revolu­tionary force in the world, and if men want social revolution they must follow the Comintern through fire and water, and not weaken it by bitter factional strife."
At the Hotel d’Alsace I found a typewritten note.
"See me immediately. R. G."
I walked around the corner and a block along the Rue de Seine to Ginsburg’s atelier. Ginsburg was working over a blueprint.
"You were with Comrade Ewert all this time?" he inquired pleasantly.
"Yes . . . I am tired."
"He gave you instructions?"
"No. We talked unofficially."
Roger Ginsburg put a portable Continental on a low steel table. He opened a drawer, and took out paper. "I will make a strong coffee with cognac," he said. "Sit down here. Write a report about everything Comrade Ewert said to you. Write it in detail, please."
"But why?"
"Parteibefehl!
Break the character and independence of your man, and you will have an obedient trooper. That was the new weapon of the Comintern. My duty as a communist was to betray Arthur Ewert, my respected teacher. Was treachery among comrades to become henceforth the price of loyalty?
I wrote the report. Ginsburg kept toiling over his blueprints, never raising his head or looking around until I had typed the last letter of the last word and made ready to leave.
"Better sleep at my place tonight," he said. "You’ll leave for Germany in, a few hours."
Ginsburg’s pale face was like a mask. I saw through it. He was determined to give me no chance to warn Ewert before I left Paris.

Chapter Fourteen - THE INFALLIBLES

A MOTHERLY FRENCHWOMAN OF CONSIDERABLE GIRTH, one of the couriers of the Paris Apparat, escorted me to the Gare de 1’Est, purchased my ticket, and put me aboard a train to Strasbourg. At the Strasbourg station, another courier recognized me by a Red Cross insignia in my coat lapel, and led me to the offices of the Strasbourg liaison agent, in a modern apart­ment house on Avenue Jean Jaures. The agent’s name was Sorgus. He was a dark-skinned Alsatian in his thirties, a conscientious worker, whose hobby was the collecting of butterflies.
On orders from Sorgus, a tall, thin, taciturn young girl from the Strasbourg Party office accompanied me at night to the village of Lauterburg, which lies at the point where the Rhine passes into German territory. Here the Comintern maintained a border post. In a little house, which seemed to be an overturned barge with windows cut into its sides, the girl introduced me to a brawny youth. He grabbed a fishing tackle and motioned me to follow him. We went to a point where several boats lay moored to a pole. The black water gurgled. The Rhine flowed swiftly between low grassy banks. We entered a boat and pushed off, drifting down­stream with the current, and pretending to fish. There were lights ahead of us. We passed them without being challenged.
"We are now in Germany," the youth said.
He brought out a pair of clumsy oars and pulled over to the right bank of the river. The oarlocks were wrapped in cloth, so that the rowing made no noise. I jumped ashore. My guide pulled away in the night. I stood on a wide meadow. The wind blew in cold gusts. I trudged away from the river toward a house without lights. There was a road. The road led into a highway. A sign at the junction read, "Karlsruhe-4 Kilometer."
I did not go to Berlin by the shortest route. In San Quentin I had dreamt of freedom. In Paris, I had had experiences which still by heavily on my mind. I had spent almost nothing of the money I had received from Cance, Ginsburg, and Sorgus. So I decided to have a week for myself. I boarded the train from Karlsruhe to Heidelberg. I was back in my own country, but how little did I know it! The Rhine folk loved their land. They would live no­where else, and they were proud that their cradles had been rocked along the Rhine. "Nur am Rhein da möcht ich leben, nur am Rhein geboren sein . . ." [29] It was here, in the country between the Neckar and the Main, that I had been born, only to be taken away before my mind was ripe enough to imbibe its enchanting contours. And now, after twenty-five years of vagabondage, I beheld for the first time this land of my birth.
I took a room in a hotel overlooking the Neckar. Later in the day I mounted the ruins of the Heidelberg castle, and after that I tramped through the solitude of naked woods. The country, even in winter, was the most beautiful I had seen. The next day I again wandered alone through the woods.
In the evening I went to a bar. It was Saturday night. There was music, and a crowd of young people were eating, drinking, danc­ing, seemingly without a care in their lives. I sat alone at a table, drinking Niersteiner, watching enviously, but I was too bashful to ask any of the girls to dance with me. They were all so carefree and innocently frivolous. They wanted to play, and I had already forgotten how to play. Then I saw a girl at another table who also was alone and looked melancholy. She was about twenty-six, blonde, with a round face and a good figure, and she was very drunk. To drown my dejected mood and to attract her attention, I looked at her and began to sing raucously, "Hiking is the miller’s joy."

"Vom Wasser haben wir’s gelernt,
"Vom Wasser . . .
"Das hat nicht Ruh’ bei Tag and N acht,
"Is stets auf Wanderschaft bedacht,
"Das Wasser, das Wasser, das W a-a-a-a-asser."

 [30]

That girl and I, the two outcasts in the happy-go-lucky Heidel­berg crowd, came together. Her name was Liese. I never asked for her second name, and she did not ask for mine. Two days we were together in Heidelberg. We bought rucksacks and provisions, and spent six glorious days hiking across the Odenwald mountains from Heidelberg to Darmstadt. Almost every mountain crest along the famous Bergstrasse [31] bore an old, deserted castle with a moat, a drawbridge, dungeons, wells dug down into the base of the mountain, and walls often six to ten feet thick. The Comintern seemed as far away as Saturn. We were hardy and happy. Each day we grew younger.
We parted in Darmstadt. Liese returned to Heidelberg. I traveled north.

In Berlin, I reported at once to Communist Headquarters, the Karl Liebknecht House, a huge building commanding a wide square, the Bülowplatz. But for the block-long red banners in front, the Karl Liebknecht House appeared like any other business palace; but inside it was fortified and guarded like an arsenal. I gave one of the guards a written note, and asked him to report me to the organization department of the Central Committee. I waited. From somewhere came the dull hammering of presses. Doors banged and people rushed by. The hallways were plastered with blazing posters, diagrams, bulletins. In the courtyard, the bicycles and motorcycles of the Party couriers were parked by the dozen. At last the guard returned.
"Comrade Ernst will see you," he announced. "Fourth floor, room thirty-nine."
Room thirty-nine was small and bare. The windows had no curtains. There was a large desk, two hard chairs, and a picture of Stalin on the wall. The walls were painted a uniform battleship gray. Behind the desk sat a man. Two small, black, piercing eyes glowered at me.
The man was short and burly. His thin hair was combed to cover a bald spot on his head. He had chunky hands, a hard round forehead, and a thick, straight mouth. His chunky face was of an unhealthy color, and the expression on it was the most saturnine I had ever seen. It denoted power, patience, ruthlessness, distrust. But the really outstanding feature in this man were his eyes—unblinking, glistening slits without a trace of white. Before a word was said, I knew who this man was. I had seen him before. He was the stoker from the battleship Helgoland, who in 1918 had hoisted the first red flag of revolution over the Imperial Fleet.
Ernst Wollweber had traveled far since the day he had risen from the depths to kick one of the main props from under the Kaiser’s war machine. He had become a member of the inner bureau of communist strategists in Central Europe, a member of that anonymous aristocracy of professional revolutionists without whose expert and formidable assistance the constantly publicized top-rank Party officials would be naught but garrulous generals without an officer corps to lead their army. To obtain for him con­stitutional immunity from arrest by police, Ernst Wollweber had been elected to the Prussian Diet. As a member of that legislative body, Wollweber had also acquired the right to free travel on German railroads between the Rhine and East Prussia. Moreover, the government paid him the substantial allowance granted to all members of German parliaments. Thus the Weimar Republic financed the journeys and maintenance of a host of agitators and organizers, elected as deputies, whose policies and actions aimed at nothing less than the complete destruction of that Republic.
"You are Comrade Ernst Wollweber," I said huskily.
The man nodded. He gave the Party salute: "Rot Front!" Then he growled, "Sit down." We shook hands over the desk. Wo11weber’s grip was hard. His face screwed itself into a mirthless grin, which revealed a row of irregular tobacco-stained teeth.
"How long have you been away from German Party work?"
"About seven years," I said.
"How are the American prisons?"
"Not bad."
"You did good work there. But the political storm center is now Germany. We need you right here." He lit a fresh cigarette with the butt of the last. "By the way," he added, "have you already communicated with Comrade Albert Walter in Hamburg?"
"Not yet. I shall write a report to him."
"That is not necessary," Wollweber said. "The Party leader­ship is here. Give your report to me."
"All right."
As he continued to question me, I had the feeling that Woll­weber was circling around me with infinite caution, tightening his circle and coming a little closer after each of my answers. Suddenly he said:
"I have read your report on your conversation with Comrade Ewert."
I was startled. The Comintern’s previous usage had been to forward letters of denunciations to those who had been so de­nounced. This had been done in a spirit of frankness and comradeship. But now it was brought home to me once more how much conditions in the Comintern had changed. Denunciations and con­fidential reports of comrade against comrade were welcomed now in high places. The system of secret dossiers—to be produced "when needed"—was on the way to become a component part of almost every communist leader’s private arsenal.
"Oh, did Ginsburg? . ." I began.
"Say, Comrade Ginsburg," Wollweber interrupted. "The Party does not like the omission of certain accepted forms."
"Comrade Ginsburg requested me to write it," I explained.
I did not know where I stood. Ewert—Wollweber. . . . Were they friends or foes? As organization chief, Ernst Wollweber held the same position in the German Party which Ossip Piatnitzky held in the Comintern. The Org-Leiter [32] could make and break men in his machine almost at will.
"It was a very interesting report," Wollweber said. "Did you and Comrade Ewert agree to communicate privately in the future?"
"No."
"Private communications between comrades sometimes have their value. More often, they are dangerous—to the younger correspondent. Your report on Comrade Ewert is in my possession. Consider that it was written for me—privately!"
"All right."
"What sort of work do you like best?"
"Maritime organization."
"Good. I’ll make certain proposals concerning you at the next session of the Central Committee. Maybe you’ll be put in charge of the Rhine, or the Danube, or the Berlin-Brandenburg canals. I’ll let you know in a few days. In the meantime, you can acclimatize yourself to Germany."
When Wollweber spoke, each word seemed to come out in a slow sullen growl. He gave the impression of being a man who was never in a hurry, who was utterly without fear, whom nothing could surprise, and who had stripped himself deliberately of all illusions.
Ernst Wollweber arranged for my board and lodging, pending my next assignment, and introduced me to the man who was in charge of the Party archive in the rambling cellars of the Karl Liebknecht House. For over a week I had the run of Party head­quarters. I read much to catch up on developments, talked with many members of the Karl Liebknecht House staff, and studied the official Party reports of the past two years. So I found my bear­ings in the most colossal communist machine as yet built up out­side the Soviet frontiers,—a machine which served in later years as a model for Communist Parties in all other countries.
The Communist Party of Germany had at that time a quarter of a million members. It published twenty-seven daily papers, with a total circulation of about five million. A dozen weekly and monthly publications and hundreds of factory sheets augmented the regular Party press. Nearly four thousand communist cells functioned in Germany, with over six hundred of them in the city of Berlin alone. Surrounding the Party, was a belt of eighty-seven auxiliary organizations which received their orders from Moscow by way of the Karl Liebknecht House.
Working silently and efficiently in the shadows of the ponder­ous communist edifice, was the underground G.P.U. network of the German Party. Its divisions included the "S-Apparat" for espionage, the "M-Apparat" for communist penetration into the army and navy, the "P-Apparat" for disintegration of police morale, the "BB-Apparat" for industrial espionage in favor of the Soviet Union, the Parteischutzgruppen [33]—the armed bodyguards of Party leaders, the "N-Apparat" for passports, Party censorship, courier service and communications, and the various Zersetzungs Apparate [34] for counter-espionage and disintegration work in the Social Democratic Party, the Catholic Center, the Monarchists, and among the military formations of the Hitler movement. Every department of the Party and every auxiliary organization was directed by a special emissary from Moscow, invested with extraor­dinary dictatorial powers.
The expressive word "agent" is never used in Comintern circles; the official title of the foreign commissars of the Kremlin is the awkward "International Political Instructor." Each of these international agents was a specialist in a given field. There were specialists in propaganda technique, in strike strategy, in industrial organization, women’s specialists, espionage specialists, advertising experts, Red Army experts, business managers, police specialists, and specialists for each of the basic industries—steel, shipping, railroads, mining, textile, public utilities, agriculture and the chemical industry—and expert accountants sent to clear up financial tangles. Rarely were they known by their true names. They hardly ever lived in hotels. They had secret offices and secret quarters, usually in the homes of trusted Party members. All these instructors were well dressed and well paid, and seldom did any of them appear in a meeting without the protective escort of a personal courier or an alert-eyed girl who served both as secretary and mistress. It was this elusive corps of Comintern agents that formed the real leadership of the Communist Party.
But Berlin was more than the center of German communism; since 1929, it had become the field headquarters for the whole of the Communist International. Moscow was too remote from Western Europe and the Americas to carry on a close and con­stant supervision of the activities of its Foreign Legion. Besides, the laws of conspirative work demanded that the broad stream of international agitators in and out of Russia should be reduced to only the most necessary trickle. It was decided to let all threads end in Berlin, and to retain only a single line of communication between Berlin and Moscow. A Western Secretariat of the Comintern was therefore established in Berlin, whose jurisdiction reached from Iceland to Capetown. Appointed to act as its political chief was Georgi Dimitrov, who was responsible only to Molotov, the real ruler of the Comintern.
I met Dimitrov through Willy Münzenberg, who had invited me, in his capacity as president of the World League against Im­perialism, to speak about America at a meeting of Chinese communist students attending the Berlin University. The meeting was a success. Late that evening, Münzenberg, who had taken a liking to me, remarked:
"Something approaching a revolutionary situation is ripening in India. How would you like to go to Calcutta?"
I answered that I was awaiting an assignment in Germany. I mentioned Wollweber’s name. Münzenberg flared up. "You have been doing international work. You should have reported to the Western Secretariat," he rattled out. "Not to Wollweber. Woll­weber is Germany."
"Well, I’m a member of the German Communist Party."
"That is correct. But as an international worker, you are not under the jurisdiction of the German Central Committee. Who is Wollweber? Wollweber is a Lokalpatriot. He thinks Germany is the whole world. A capable comrade, but no internationalist."
I now discovered a new form of rivalry—the rivalry for power between the vertical national sections of the Comintern and the large number of horizontal international leagues. Despite all my loyalty to the Comintern, I found myself asking: "Who is stronger—Wollweber or Münzenberg?"
Two days later, in the early morning, there was a knock at my door. A determined-looking girl courier entered.
"I come from the Westbureau," she announced. "Comrade Dimitrov wants to see you."
Dimitrov was at that time almost unknown outside of the ranks of the Comintern aristocracy. Men of his type prized anonymity. For ten years, until 1923, he had been a member of the Bulgarian parliament. He then led an armed communist rising, which ended in failure, and escaped into exile. In his absence, a court in Sofia sentenced him to death. In Moscow, after being held responsible for the catastrophic defeat of communism in Bulgaria, Dimitrov wrote a document of self-humiliation, and won the friendship of Stalin. He became the head of the Communist Balkan Federation, and was later promoted to the leadership of the Western Secretariat of the Comintern. Among the large assortment of aliases he used in Berlin, the choicest were Dr. Steiner, Alfons Kuh, Professor Jahn, and Dr. Schaafsma-Schmidt.
Dimitrov’s girl courier, wary of followers, piloted me to a house on the Wilhelmstrasse, number 131-132. Here, behind the camouflage of a modern bookstore and a publishing firm called Führer Verlag [35], the Comintern maintained a dozen departments, a host of typists, couriers, translators and guards. I was ushered into an elegantly furnished office. On the wall, in a massive black frame, was a portrait of—Bismarck.
My first impression of Dimitrov was disappointing. I had expected to meet a steely man, a hardened veteran of many campaigns. Instead there came out of an inner office a large, soft, flabby-faced individual, stout and dark, dressed like a dandy and smelling of heavy perfume. He wore a thick ring on his left hand. His well-manicured fingers held a black cigar. His eyes were large and bold. I soon found that he was a driving, domineering person­ality. He spoke German with remarkable fluency. His words came loud and hard.
"We’ve written finis to a ten-year period of revolutionary adventurism," he said. "Putschism is definitely discarded. Our program is now one of planned action; a plan extending over a number of years. We cannot achieve the revolution by fly-by-night coups, we can achieve it only with Bolshevist methods. We must organize and lead every possible strike, even the smallest—and do it against the will of the socialist trade union bureaucracy. A continuous barrage of independent strikes will break the mass influence of the Social Democracy, disrupt the whole system of industrial production, and deepen the capitalist crisis until it reaches a point of collapse."
Dimitrov grew more violent as he spoke:
"The Social Democrats tell the workers that it is impossible to win strikes when there’s a crisis with millions of unemployed. They advise the workers to accept wage reductions without offer­ing resistance. Here is the opportunity we communists must seize! We must cultivate a hatred in the heads of the workers against their false leaders. Each and every day we must pound it into them ten thousand times: ’The Socialist and trade union leaders are traitors! They are the most dangerous enemies of the workers! They have sold out the workers to the bourgeoisie."
"And the Nazi movement?" I asked, thinking of Arthur Ewert and his warning.
"The Hitler movement has no followers among the workers," he countered. "Hitler promises everything to everybody. He steals his ideas from all sides. Nobody takes him seriously anyway. He has no tradition and no background. Not even a program. Don’t let yourself be distracted. The biggest obstacle on the road to proletarian revolution is the Social Democratic Party. Our foremost task is to liquidate its influence. Afterwards, we’ll sweep Hitler and his Lumpengesindel [36] into the garbage-can of history."
Suddenly Dimitrov asked me: "What do you think of the Ger­man Party?"
"Compared with other Communist Parties, it is like an express train among pushcarts," I replied.
Dimitrov smiled long at me. His eyes, his wide mouth, his whole mobile face were smiling.
"Maybe so," he finally said. "But the locomotive might be rusty and burn a tremendous over-load of coal. Maybe ten stokers are necessary to make it move ten yards."
I was dumbfounded to hear it from the mouth of the infallible leader.
"We must never shy away from Bolshevist self-criticism," he continued. "Selbstkritik is a sharp weapon. The locomotive is not beyond repair. The rusty parts can be taken out; shiny, new, young parts can be put in. Maybe some of the stokers are saboteurs. Maybe the coal is not very good. Well?"
"Let’s put on some good stokers and good coal," I said. Dimitrov laughed like a gleeful boy.
"Why not?" he said. "It will run like the devil."
Then he switched to my future work. "We are sending you to Moscow," he announced. I nodded, intent. on hearing more.
"Sailors belong to ships. You’ll continue with the Maritime Section. We must push ahead with full strength in the shipping in­dustry. When war comes . . . you know what it means. We must have capitalist shipping in our hands. The Soviet Union needs peace. Nothing is better for taming a capitalist shark than to cut off his exports and imports. You’ll meet Albert Walter in Moscow. A lot of other sailors will be there. You’ll all thrash things out with Comrade Losovsky."
I was photographed on the top floor of the Karl Liebknecht House. Within a day, I received a Danish passport in the name of Rolf Gutmund, a commercial traveler and resident of Aalborg. It was a good passport. Except for a change of photograph, it had been left intact. A Soviet visa and a Polish transit visa were already entered in it. In addition, I received a special document of identifi­cation, typed in Russian, with instructions to show it only to the Soviet frontier police. I traveled with three other comrades, a Hungarian named Emmerich Sallai, a girl from Cologne sent to study at the Lenin University, and an apple-cheeked leader of the Communist Party of Switzerland. Sallai, seeing that my overcoat was shabby and light, supplied me with a heavy coat he had in reserve.
An hour before my departure, I had unexpectedly chanced upon Wollweber in the restaurant of the Karl Liebknecht House. He sat alone at a table, hunched over a glass of beer, the personification of a creature continuously brooding over conspiracies and alliances. He looked askance at me when I told him that I was going to Moscow.
"Who is sending you?"
"Comrade Dimitrov."
He gave a faintly sardonic smile Then he shook my hand. "Gute Reise," [37] he growled. "Don’t forget to come back."
He exchanged a few curt remarks with my travel companion before he walked away, holding his hands clasped behind him. Lights danced in the eyes of the girl from Cologne. "Do you know Comrade Ernst’s nickname?" she purred intimately. "In meetings he imitates the gestures of Vladimir Ilyitch. We get him mad by calling him ’Little Lenin.’ They say he practices Lenin poses in front of a mirror when he’s alone."
With uncanny precision, a messenger from the Profintern singled us out in the bedlam of the station in Moscow, upon our arrival there two days later. We were driven to the Bristol Hotel, a Comintern caravansary for communist transients from abroad. I was lodged in a room together with a Finn and a Lett. Three cots, three chairs, a table, a washstand, a samovar and a picture of Stalin made up the furniture. There was an outfit for cooking, but it had broken down and was long out of use. I had hardly spent two hours in the hotel—which was more like a cosmopolitan tene­ment than a hotel in the European sense—when a sly-faced Ger­man engaged me in a conversation about Russia. He was too friendly. And after a while, he began to criticize openly the Five­Year-Plan and Stalin’s qualities of leadership. I knew what he meant. The man was the inevitable house spy of the G.P.U. I told him to stop his counter-revolutionary nonsense or be kicked out of the room. Thereafter, whenever he saw me, he raised his right fist with a grin and shouted: "Heil Moskau!"
The morning after our arrival our group scattered. The girl from Cologne moved to one of the students’ houses. The Swiss departed for a conference with Piatnitzky. I did not see him again. Sallai moved to the Hotel Savoy where his compatriot, Bela Kun, who had received the Order of the Red Banner, was the center of the Hungarian colony. I asked Sallai if he wanted back the over­coat he had, given me. He seemed to be hurt.
"I have one just as good. Keep it, because I don’t need it."
I wore the overcoat for three years. It lived longer than its original owner. For Emmerich Sallai, together with another Comintern man, was condemned to death for high treason in Budapest on July 28, 1932, and was hung the same night. Both were reported to have died with the cry, "Long live the proletarian dictatorship. We shall be avenged."

The marine conference in the Profintern was already under way. Risking a rebuke from my superiors, I stole one short day to roam through Moscow. The Five-Year-Plan propaganda dom­inated public life as a high mountain dominates the surrounding sea—it was visible wherever one went and, to me, it was stirring. The Kremlin had decided to sacrifice for years the normal well-being of one hundred and sixty million people to win a titanic race against a century of backwardness. "Socialism or die!" To the young communist from abroad, this "all or nothing" cry was familiar and reassuring music. "Once the Five-Year-Plan is com­pleted, the Soviet Union will be so invincibly strong that it will insure the triumph of revolution outside of Russia." What was this not worth to a young fanatic, who was prepared to suffer every privation himself, even to give his own life for the revolu­tion? Such reasoning made the Bolshevist indifference to the ocean of human suffering stretching before our eyes appear in a noble light.
The elite of the Maritime Section of the Comintern attended the conference in the Red Room of the Profintern building. A tall, lean Russian presided, a blond young man of reserved manners. It was Kommissarenko, the chief of the shipping and waterfront unions of Russia and Siberia. But the man who dominated the meeting was Losovsky, the head of the Profintern. He had a thin, almost hollow face, an ill-tended reddish heard, and quick, fanat­ical eyes. He was a clever speaker, fond of sarcasm and possessed of a lashing vitality which I thought highly unusual in a man of his decrepit appearance. The third important figure in the assembly was Albert Walter; his energetic bluffness and virility had not changed since I had seen him last. The rest were delegates from the maritime sections of the Communist Parties of nearly a dozen countries. The conference had been called to formulate plans for the organization of an International of Seamen and Harbor Workers, and of Red waterfront unions on all continents. The new International was to be created within a year, after a world-wide preparatory campaign. Its chief task was the mobilization of seamen for the protection of the Soviet Union in case of war, by tying up the shipping of nations antagonistic to Russia. Concurrently, the new International was to serve as a battering ram for the destruction of all maritime unions which could not possibly be brought under communist control. On the fourth day of the conference, Ossip Piatnitzky, the organization chief of the Comin­tern, addressed us on the technique of translating propaganda into organization, and organization into action. This lynx-eyed, aggres­sive, yet unassuming Old Bolshevik spoke of "our tasks in Malaya, Greece or America" as if these countries were garden patches in Moscow.
Of special interest to me were the reports on the steady progress of communism along the American seaboard ever since the early haphazard days when I had been one of the legion of traveling delegates from Hamburg to carry propaganda literature across the Atlantic. International Seamen’s Clubs had been established, with Profintern funds, in the nine most important ports of the United States. Using the working methods developed in Hamburg, these clubs had consolidated their growing influence, and gave rise to a national organization which was called the Marine Workers’ League. Losovsky had granted a special monthly subsidy for the publication of a communist newspaper for American seamen, the Marine Workers’ Voice. The Moscow conference, accepting a plan drawn up by Kommissarenko, decided that the time had come to engineer into existence a Red trade union of American waterfront workers. Two young American communists, possess­ing leadership qualities and the necessary ruthlessness, had risen from obscurity to a place high in Losovsky’s favor. Losovsky spoke of them with almost fatherly affection. One was George Mink. The other was Tom Ray. Losovsky and Walter agreed to A give Mink the leadership of the Atlantic coast, and Ray that of the Pacific, with respective headquarters in New York and San Fran­cisco. Mink and Ray were placed on the payroll of the Profintern; Losovsky decreed that they should receive additional monthly allowances to cover the costs of the Marine Workers’ Voice, of the maintenance of the International Clubs, and of sending a crew of organizers into all harbors between Norfolk and Seattle. Like all Soviet funds for maritime work abroad, this money was to be conveyed to its destination through Albert Walter’s office in Ham­burg. Finances were also provided for a convention of American waterfront communists, held in April, 1930, three months after the Moscow conference, in New York, to organize the Marine Workers Industrial Union. It was attended by 118 delegates from Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf and Great Lake ports. George Mink, Tom Ray and a certain La Rocca were then summoned to Moscow to submit reports and receive further instructions.
Each evening, after a day of drawing the blueprints for future campaigns, ended with an outright saturnalia. The only groups that kept aloof from these orgies were the Russians, the grave-faced Chinese, and the older communists, who withdrew to pre­pare their notes for the next day’s speeches and arguments. The rest of the delegates repaired to their hotels, the Bristol and the famous Lux, where most of the foreign Comintern workers had their crowded quarters. Vodka, wine and a variety of cheap candies and cakes were always on hand. Often there were as many as twenty-five of us in a room six or eight yards square. The sudden stripping of an unsuspecting newcomer, mutual dousing with cold water, vodka-drinking tournaments, and "nationalization of women"—a juicy satire on bourgeois propaganda—were popular games. Men appeared in women’s clothes, girls dressed as peasants or stevedores, and—with lights turned out—each partici­pant was obliged to regain his original outer garments before the master of ceremonies decided to switch on the lights. Mock "proletarian courts" then meted out punishment to those caught in diverse stages of dishabillement. Our frolics usually terminated at midnight; no communist wished to risk being caught catching up on his sleep during the next day’s duties. The older Bolsheviks knew new no pity in this respect.
On the last day of the conference Albert Walter showed me a letter from Wollweber, written in Berlin. The "Little Lenin" was jealous of the attention Walter was receiving in Moscow. He com­plained to the Comintern that the most promising young elements were being stolen from the German Party for international assign­ments. "He is a peasant," Walter burst out. "Don’t let him dupe you."
"But why all this confounded sneaking?" I cried.
"Human nature is the most stubborn concoction imaginable," Walter replied grimly.
The next day I was commissioned to go to Antwerp to take charge of the activities of the communist waterfront units and the International Clubs in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ghent and Dunkerque. My monthly salary was $100; my monthly organizational budget $750. I was glad to return to the firing lines. I detested the life of a politician.
News of the rising strife in Germany burst like a warning squall into the sleepy atmosphere of my compartment as I passed through Berlin. The news hawkers howled on the platforms, "Bloody Riots in Berlin and Hamburg! Nazi Sturmführer Murdered!" The Party had led the unemployed masses into battle against the police. There had been barricade fighting in industrial districts. Hamburg reported dead and wounded. On February 23, in Berlin, the Storm Troop leader Horst Wessel had died from bullets fired by communist assassins. Dr. Goebbels’ newspaper, the Angriff, [38] clamored for revenge. The struggle for the conquest of Berlin, of Germany, of the world, was thrown into a swifter pace. From an adjoining railway car, packed with Brownshirts, singing came.
It was the Horst Wessel Song, written by the murdered Nazi student, the battle-song which was destined to rank equal with Deutschland über Alles in later years.
My train pulled out of Berlin. Westward it rolled, toward the Rhine. The first smell of spring was in the air.

Chapter Fifteen – FIRELEI

IN ANTWERP I MET FIRELEI.
I saw her for the first time in the Museum of Art, where I occasionally went to enjoy a quiet hour away from strident reality. Among the full-bodied austerity of the Dutch masters she sat, a splash of living beauty and color, the daughter of an impu­dent and fearless age. She had an open sketchbook on her knees, and the crayon in her right hand flew over the paper. She had small, but able hands. She peered intently at the somber portrait of a woman on the wall in front of her. Her glance leaped to the paper on her knees and her right hand drew swift contours. And then her eyes swung back again to the likeness of the older, sturdier woman on the wall.
1 halted and looked over her shoulder. She was so absorbed in her work that she was unaware of my intrusion. Some powerful and intangible influence took hold of me. It was beyond explanation, and utterly new. There was an inimitable harmony between her attitude of concentration and the easy grace of her posture and motions. I came as close to her as I dared. A blue Basque cap clung smoothly to her dark blonde hair. Her hair had a satiny hue; it glistened faintly under the lights. She was slender, and firmly made. Her knees and legs were of the kind that convinced one that there could be no trace of lassitude or laziness in her make-up. The skin of her arms and the nape of her neck had all the freshness of a Nordic woman addicted to sunlight and wind. It was a clear ivory, with the blood pulsing close to the surface. I watched with the breathless excitement of a half-starved wanderer who sees lighted trees through windows on a raw Christmas night, feeling empty-handed and poor. I was so close now that I touched her. She looked up in a flash. She had full, mobile lips. Her eyes were gray and searching. "What are you doing here? What do you want of me?" they seemed to ask. I dropped my glance. I murmured a silly excuse. Then I fled, hot with shame and anger at myself.
I had much to do that day. A large consignment of literature had to be smuggled aboard a French vessel bound for Saigon. It had to be done with utmost circumspection, for not a month passed in Cochin-China without some heads of communist militants falling under the guillotine. Willy Münzenberg had sent an Annamite "activist," Le Huan, to Antwerp with orders to proceed to Saigon. I had to take care of him. But all these duties failed to draw my mind away from the girl I had seen in the Museum of Art.
I cursed at myself: "You fool, know your limits. Such a fine girl is not for you! Call her a bourgeois bitch, and be done with it. Stick to the Komsomol girls and the sluts from Skipper Street. To them you are like a king. To her, you are a nuisance, a scavenger, a rootless ragamuffin . . . Call her a bourgeois bitch, and be done with it!"
Yet the next day and the days following I hastened to the Art Museum and skulked for hours through the high-ceilinged halls, suffering pain from the knowledge that I was neglecting my duties as a revolutionist. I could not find her in the Museum.
The sun shone warm, and the people of Antwerp began to come out to sit gossiping on their stoops. It was March. Le Huan was on the way to Cochin-China, not knowing that he was going straight to his death in the Prison of Annam. A melancholy young Polish Jew, named Hirsch, arrived from Paris with a mandate to go to Galicia. I put him aboard a ship bound for Gdynia. I received three postcards from him, in which he wrote that all was going well in Poland. Then came a curt note from Berlin, instructing me to strike Comrade Hirsch off my list. Hirsch had been caught by police. Some months later, on June 12, he was hung for high treason in Lemberg. Our campaign of agitation went on with meetings in the International Clubs, propaganda among the dockers and rivermen, and furious paper attacks against the socialists and their unconquerable trade unions. There were huge consignments of printed matter, arriving from Berlin and Moscow, for shipment to Jamaica, to Siam, to India. The sun shone warmer, and the boldest of the cafe owners on the Meir put out their first tables on the sidewalk.
And then I suddenly met her again. I was sauntering along the water.front. The harbor was full of ships and noise. The air was redolent of tar and brine, and the Antwerp cathedral stood mas­sively against the blue sky. On a rusty bitt, at the edge of a wharf, sat the girl. Her legs dangled over the green water of the docks. Again she was drawing, her eyes leaping diligently from the paper to a conglomeration of river craft moored nearby, and back. Behind the river ships reared an assembly of cranes and sheds, and beyond them the roofs of Antwerp and the tower of the cathedral glistened in the sunlight.
I came nearer. This time I would speak to her. In the workaday patchwork of sunlight and shadow she seemed far less distant than in the church-like sanctity of the Museum. The harbor was my domain.
The river barges had romantic names. They hailed from Amster­dam and Strasbourg, and some had come all the way from Rouen and Paris. On their decks, men squatted in the sunshine. Some smoked their pipes, resting. Big-hipped women called to each other from ship to ship. A fat little dog was barking at a line of fluttering laundry. The girl had drawn the stern of a French Rhine barge. There were mooring lines and the large horizontal steering wheel, and a contented woman nursing a baby in the shadow of a companionway. The girl saw me. She gave me a smile of recognition. I looked at her drawing.
"It looks real," I said. She flushed.
"It is so difficult to capture the moods of the docks," she observed.
"Have docks moods?"
She laughed and closed her sketchbook. She was a girl who liked to laugh. She was not "bourgeois." Hers was a captivating sim­plicity that made the application of a label seem idiotic.
"You’ve forgotten the name of the ship," I said. "A ship must have a name. It’s Oran."
"Yes, yes. I must put in the name." She hesitated for a moment. Then she opened the book defiantly. "So—O-R-A-N."
She spoke in English, as I had before her. She formulated each word with utmost care. With a light toss of her head, she said: "English is the language of sailors, no?"
"That’s right."
"Are you a sailor?"
"Sure."
"Where is your ship?"
"I’m ashore. I’m looking for another ship."
"I have an uncle who was a captain. He always said a sailor without a ship is like a pastor without a church. Where did your last ship come from?"
"From Galveston."
"Where is Galveston?"
"In America. In Texas."
"Oh—I have heard of Texas. What did you bring to Ant­werp-en?"
"Grain," I said.
"Sailors are lucky, I think."
"Ha, why?"
The girl did not answer at once. Then she leaned back and said: "Panama, Sumatra, Honolulu, Madagascar, Oran. . . . I like the names so much."
She drew up her knees and clasped her arms around them. Sh looked toward the river, where a large Japanese ship was outbound in the wake of smoking tugs. "Do you like Antwerp-en?" she queried.
"Yes. Is it your home?"
She shook her head. "I am here to study," she said seriously.
"Are you an artist?"
"Oh, no." She smiled quickly. "I still must learn how to use my eyes and hands. I love lines and colors when they have a meaning, like sounds and moods. I wanted to study in Paris, but my parents would not permit it. So I came to Flanders."
"You look like a Flemish girl."
"My mother was Flemish. Flanders is rich! The town of Ghent was once the Venice of the North. It once had more ships and merchant princes than all of England,"
"Do you admire merchant princes?"
The girl laughed merrily. A ship nosed into the dock. The Danish flag flew from its stern. Hoarse yells from rough throats hung in the wind.
"Where is your home?" asked the girl.
"Wherever ships are," I said.
"Look!" she cried out.
A group of men clambered ashore from a British steamer tied to the wharf a little way off. They were Lascars, cadaverous fellows, with turbans on their heads and bright cotton shirts protruding from under sweaters fluttering about their thin thighs. As they passed us, a tall man with velvety deer eyes and a drooping mustache bared all his yellow teeth in a grin.
"Stokers," I said.
"Where are they going?"
"To Skipper Street."
The girl made a grimace of distaste, and said resolutely: "Sit quietly on this bitt. I shall try to make a sketch of you."
"What will you call it?"
" ’A sailor looking for a ship,’ " she replied. "Hook your thumbs in your belt, and sit still."
We spoke little. Winches rumbled near and far. From the river drifted a ragged concert of siren blasts. The eyes of the girl were now intent and strangely impersonal. They shuttled between the sketchbook and me. I became as self-conscious as a schoolboy whose secrets were being dragged into the light. A small cluster of stevedores drew up, and glued their eyes to the girl. One of them shouted admiringly: "Ah, la garçonne!" [39] He brought the tips of his toil-hardened fingers to his mouth, in the French manner, releasing them with the sound of a vigorous kiss. The girl answered with a mischievous glance in their direction. "Please, my friends," she said in Flemish, "try not to disturb me." After that, she was able to finish her sketch, while we talked of many things.

I called her Firelei. The name fitted her well, I thought. We met as often during the following weeks as I could contrive to snatch a few hours’ leave from the constant rush of my duties. I was hopelessly, vehemently in love. I had considered love a hypocritical habit of the despised bourgeoisie. But now I wanted Firelei to be my mate and comrade at any price. She liked me. I was of a differ­ent tribe than the young men a girl of her type was wont to meet. She was at a loss to place me in any of the traditional categories of the social order she knew. In her eyes, I was neither bourgeois nor a worker, nor did I belong to the conventional bohème. She Now me as an individualist and a rebel. And Firelei, like most of post-war Europe’s best youth, was a rebel, too, a rebel against the conventions of a generation that had forfeited the privilege to show youth the way into the future. Youth had learned to cleave a path of its own. This we both understood and accepted. But Firelei knew nothing of the real nature of my work. "Communist" was a very fashionable word in the Europe of 1930. It suggested unwashed individuals reeking of sweat and cheap coffee, gathering into hordes and yelling "Down!" in the streets. I feared that she would sever relations with me and flee if I told her who I was.
Firelei was half German, half Flemish. Her father was a busi­nessman in Mainz on the Rhine. The German revolution of 1918 had come two months after her eleventh birthday. After her gradu­ation from a Lyceum, she had attended art school in Frankfort, and then in Munich, where she met an engineering student with whom she ran away on a hiking tour across the Alps. Her father, who had gone in pursuit, brought Firelei back to Mainz and maneuvered her into accepting a job in the advertising department of a fashion house. She worked for nearly three years in Mainz, uninterruptedly at war with her parents. The family was Deutsch-National; it moved in pro-monarchist circles. But Firelei detested soldiers and all authority that lives on a dogma and a uniform. She was sensitive and stubborn. Prolonged discontent and an inborn love of freedom made her reckless. She threw up her job, and went to Paris to develop further her clear artistic talent. The family implored, raged, begged her to return. In a German provincial town it was a disgrace to have a daughter run wild in Paris. Firelei, living ten days on bread and cheese, replied with a demand for a monthly allowance. They compromised by permitting her to go for a year to Antwerp, where she had an uncle, a retired sea captain who had lost his left leg on the Congo River. It was in his house that Firelei lived.
Sometimes my work took me to Rotterdam, Ghent and Dun­kerque. I was away from Antwerp two and three days at a time. When Firelei came, eager to have my companionship, she often could not find me. Unavoidably she came to the conclusion that, for a sailor, I was leading a very strange life. Her uncle, a shrewd and physically powerful man, became suspicious of my activities. I did not want to lie to Firelei. I did not want to give her up. I decided to tell her the truth. Tossing and muttering in sleepless nights I came to the point where I decided to discard the Comintern, if need be, to win the girl I loved.
But the hold the Comintern has on the minds of its indentured servants can be compared only with the grip the Jesuit Order has on its members. Events of great magnitude ripening in India and Cochin-China swept me back to my post. Some four thousand Lascars served in the crews of British and German ships for which Antwerp was a regular port of call. These Lascars formed the pipeline through which the Comintern pumped an incessant stream of propaganda, instructions, and rank-and-file agents into all East Indian harbors.
In Comintern circles there was already talk of "The Indian Revolution." Throughout the spring of 1930, many communists allowed themselves to become intoxicated with the prospects of "capsizing" the British Empire by bringing the Soviets to power in India. There was street fighting in Calcutta and other towns. The newly-founded Red Trade Union in India was under the direction of the Pan-Pacific Secretariat of the Profintern, which the American Earl Browder had established in 1927 in Shanghai with funds allotted him by Losovsky.
My sense of duty toward the revolution plunged me into painful inner struggles. Had I the right to draw Firelei into such a life of conspiracy and violence? She meant infinitely more to me than the luckless Hindus. But I clung to the Comintern as a peasant clings to the land of his forbears. The Comintern was the earth which gave me life and purpose. And there was Firelei—rooted in a dif­ferent soil. I wrestled with the thought that she was far too good, too fine, to be destroyed in the Comintern service. I wrestled with the idea that I must discard one to win, and to keep, the other. I was afraid of the hidden weakness and potential treachery which is the heritage of every human being. It seemed much simpler to persist in the unthinking "Either—Or!" But where, I asked myself, lay triumph, and where defeat?
One night Firelei became mine. I told her that I had been in prison. I told her that I was in the employ of the Communist International. I told her that I was proud to be a revolutionist, and that I never would be anything else. Firelei’s point of view was one of chaste and youthful idealism. Had not all the great thinker and poets and artists been revolutionists at heart? She knew nothing of the ugly realism of the communist movement.
"When we gain power," I said to her, "all human suffering will end. Life will be joyous. Oppression, marching armies, unjust laws, hunger and wretchedness will be remembered only as specters of a vanquished past."
Firelei had a woman’s inborn compassion for noble souls. I showed her a report from the Belgian Congo, describing the fearful conditions under which the wretched natives were forced to work in the copper mines and cotton districts around Bama and Leopoldsville.
"It is against this inhumanity that we are fighting," I said.
I showed Firelei another report, dealing with the lives of com­munists condemned by Fascist courts to the prison of Santo Stefano, an island five miles from Naples. I told of prisoners chained in the hold of a ship, of men who were not permitted to see the sun or to hear a human voice year after year, of sickness and death in the dungeons, of a cemetery without names and crosses on the farthest end of the island, of bad food and gendarmes grown vicious out of boredom. Firelei had tears in her eyes.
"We must rescue them," I said. "For that we fight."
I showed her a third report, which had come through from Saigon. It told of the struggle of the coolies for the right to organ­ize in Red unions, of strikes against the most pitiful wages on earth, of the ferocity of the Resident Governor of Annam and the French gendarmerie, of the killing of workers, and of the slaughter of peasants who had refused to pay exorbitant government taxes.
"The coolies in Cochin-China feel and love like you and I do," I said. "They have a right to shape their own destiny. Their struggle is just, and we must fight to help them."
I unfolded to Firelei a world that was like a gruesome picture-book of injustice and misery brought about by a handful of rich men in London, Paris, Brussels, and New York. She was not equipped to challenge this Marxist interpretation of poverty, mass-joblessness, and war. She idealized me and I idealized her. We were together now night after night, engulfed in a wave of delirious happiness that surpassed in intensity all conceptions we had had of the human capacity for unrestrained self-surrender. Not many days passed before she said: "Let me help you in your work."
Firelei was not a communist. Her free-and-easy nature rebelled against being made a cog in an organization where blind obedience and totality of leadership were paramount. She volunteered her help out of a new feeling of comradeship, and out of an altruistic desire to alleviate the suffering of helpless people. I strove to keep her away from the ugly phases of communist practice. She painted posters, drew caricatures, and designed decoration schemes for the International Clubs. She became fascinated by motifs that had hitherto been completely beyond her horizon. Her work had originality because she knew nothing of the Russian pattern, and it soon attracted the attention of the propaganda department of the Western Secretariat. "Who is the comrade who can draw so well?" asked a letter from Berlin. I ignored the inquiry. Firelei was more interested in the constellations of lines and colors, and the effects they could exercise on the emotions—including her own, than in the strategy and tactics of political conspiracy.
We discovered that we had in common a love of the sea, of growing things, and of a life of motion. Each week I deserted my Comintern duties for one day to hire a boat and go sailing with Firelei on the lower reaches of the Schelde. At times we sailed to Vlissingen for a walk over the dunes and to spend a night around a fire on the beach. We swam, won friends among fisherfolk, made love, dug for clams, and I taught Firelei what I knew of the stars and planets overhead. For the moment we asked no more. We belonged to each other.
Firelei’s uncle grew more belligerent each time his niece returned home defiantly at dawn. I came to regard him as my personal enemy. Most Flemings are easy-going, but they can be brusque and harsh when their own interest or the honor of their clan is involved. The retired sea captain at first only threatened to send Firelei back to her parents in Mainz. As the girl continued to defy his ideas of propriety, he resorted to violence. One day Firelei came to me pale and disturbed.
"Uncle Bert has tried to lock me up." Her laughter had a faintly hysterical note. "I did not permit it and he beat me. What shall I do now?"
"Move out," I said. "Make no concessions. Bring him to his knees."
"Where should I go?"
"To me."
"Naturally. But they’ll stop my allowance."
"Freedom is worth more than money."
"But you’ve barely enough to live on yourself."
It was true. The larger part of my monthly salary dribbled away to meet unexpected organizational expenses, and there were months in which I received no pay at all. The Comintern had a way of demonstrating to its employees their dependence on the treasuries in Moscow and Berlin by sudden stoppages of subsidies. Such sporadic periods of penury were a loyalty test devised by the thrifty Piatnitzky. However, they never lasted longer than a month. "When you and I are together, there’s no obstacle we cannot overcome," I said to Firelei.
From then on we lived together. Firelei’s uncle refused to allow her to take her belongings from the house. "Beware of the sailor," he warned her. "Only a renegade discards his home." I mobilized a squad of communist longshoremen for a night raid on the old sea captain’s house. Firelei’s belongings, which included several trunks full of books, were transferred without a serious mishap to my quarters under the roof of a six-story tenement facing Ant­werp’s marketplace. Our abode was rather unkempt and gloomy when Firelei moved in, but after a few busy days her sense of beauty and harmony transformed it into a cheerful anchorage for both of us. The walls were painted with good ship’s paint filched from boat lockers by some of my seafaring aides; the furniture was restored and rearranged; pictures found their places on the walls, bookshelves were installed, and Firelei saw to it that there were always flowers about the room. It was the nearest thing to a home I had had in the twelve years since the Great War.
Up to this time Firelei had rarely met any of my communist associates. Now it became unavoidable that she would meet them more frequently and observe them at close range. These com­munists were not of the local Party organization, with which I had little to do, but men and women engaged in the international Apparat of the Comintern, passing through Antwerp on their vari­ous missions. At times they stayed overnight at my den, and, accepting as a matter of course that Firelei was a member of the service, they often spoke without reservation, as men will in a place they consider safe after a long and hazardous journey. It became apparent to Firelei that communist activities were closely linked with the Soviet secret police.
One of my visitors—en route from England to Berlin—was a Macedonian whose name was on the "wanted" list of every polit­ical police in Europe in connection with the assassination in Sofia of Nikolaus Mileff shortly after the latter’s appointment as Bul­garian envoy to Washington. Another, a Eurasian Bolshevik, told of his escape from Pamekasan Prison on Madura Island in the Dutch East Indies, where some six hundred leaders of the armed insurrection of 1926-1927 in Java and Sumatra were confined. This emaciated Eurasian, who called himself "Waldemar," was a cutthroat who might have fitted into any pirate tale. Before his trans­fer to Madura Island, he had spent two years in the Digul River prison camps in the jungles of Dutch New Guinea under harrow­ing conditions. He prided himself on having organized prison mutinies and engineered the murder of several guards. "With this," he said abruptly pulling a long thin dagger from under his belt and caressing it in Firelei’s presence. He had come to Antwerp as a stowaway from Singapore. I escorted him to Verviers, where the communist in charge of the border station smuggled him through the frontier woods to Aachen and put him aboard a train bound for Berlin. Still another, a Russian waiting in Antwerp for a Soviet steamer to take him to Leningrad, tried to create a favorable im­pression on the silently listening Firelei by telling her of his exploits as a G.P.U. agent in Bangkok, where he claimed to have pressed a number of maids of the Rajhani Hotel into a Soviet commercial espionage organization which called itself "Association of Em­ployees of Europeans."
The more Firelei learned of the underground machine of the Comintern, the more pronounced became her distaste for the com­munist movement as a whole. The single-track fanaticism, the matter-of-fact callousness, and the intolerance of many of the communists she met, appalled her.
"How can people who talk of nothing but destruction and bloodshed lead humanity to freedom and happiness?" she asked.
"You must understand that we are at war," I answered. "The purpose of war is to annihilate the enemy. We must destroy before we can build anew:.
"But why must we borrow the methods from Russia? Every­thing you do is aimed at violence. I don’t like violence."
"Every birth is like a revolution—violent! Even the most gentle child enters life amid screams and blood."
"I have so much to learn," Firelei said.
"You must learn how to hate," I told her.
"I wish we could go away and live our own lives," Firelei concluded.

One night I returned very late from a dash to Rotterdam. I was surprised to see that the light was still burning in our room. Firelei was not asleep. I found her poring over a sheaf of manuscripts I had written, partly in San Quentin and partly during odd hours, to take my mind off the often sickening pressure of Comintern business. The stack included the manuscript of a book, and a num­ber of short sketches and articles dealing with the experiences and observations of my early years aboard sailing ships. Firelei’s voice was tinged with jubilation.
"This is a discovery!" she exclaimed. "Why have you never told me that you write? Why don’t you send these pieces out to be published? Let’s do it! I think they are vivid, really good."
I saw at once that Firelei hoped that my writing could open for her and me a life away from the Comintern.
"They are not Marxist," I said. "I just wrote them because I dream sometimes of going back to a sailor’s life."
"Just because of that! Let me send them out."
She begged irresistibly. Next morning she went to the city library to explore publications likely to accept material portraying the ways of ships and sailors. The following days she toiled at my typewriter, putting a number of manuscripts she had selected into shape. She worked devotedly, and with an enthusiasm that astonished me. The book manuscript which I had named "Scum’s Wake" she promptly dispatched to a publishing house in New York. A description of a sailing vessel maneuvering through a foggy English Channel night went to the Blue Peter, a nautical magazine appearing in London. A story of Heligoland, to which Firelei affixed the title "Silver Bridges," was sent to a tourist peri­odical in Hamburg, and an account of my stowaway voyage from Shanghai to Vancouver was put on its way to a New York travel magazine. Firelei continued to re-type more of my manuscripts during spare hours.
Weeks flew by fast. And then came one triumph after another to the girl I loved. Blue Peter accepted my article, "Fog." From New York came a fairly handsome check for my stowaway yarn, and the German tourist journal was equally fast in paying for "Silver Bridges." The American publishing house reported that "Scum’s Wake" was under consideration. The magazine editors asked me to send them more stories. I stared at the checks, not knowing what to do. I was half bewildered by such unlooked-for success, and apprehensive of a publicity I did not want. For me to write for bourgeois publications was like trading with the enemy. But not so to Firelei.
"Follow it up," she pushed me with bright eagerness. "Write some more." Firelei did all she could to overcome my foolish resistance.
"Go on writing," she urged. "In this way we will win freedom."
"Freedom from what?"
"From people who hold you in their hands like a pawn."
"Listen," I objected. "I belong to the Comintern."
"You belong to yourself—and to me!"
"I cannot do it. I believe that loyalty to a chosen cause is the greatest thing in a man’s life."
Firelei came close to me. She murmured endearments. "Let us be ourselves," she said. "We need not be dependent. We are fit enough to shape our own destiny. We need not rummage in secrecy and ugliness."
Firelei was afraid of the future. She knew enough now of the Comintern service to realize that, sooner or later, it would disrupt and smash any harmonious relationship between any man and woman in its ranks.
"What is on your mind?" I asked her brusquely.
"Shall I tell you?"
"Do."
"I want a baby."
I could not find the answer to give her. We had never spoken of marriage. We both believed that a union between a man and a woman cannot be made holier or more enduring by the official blessings of a functionary or a clergyman. But we both believed that it was a crime to have a child when the possibility of bringing it up in security and happy surroundings was lacking, and when the parents lived in constant fear of sudden flight or of a prolonged plunge into prison.
"I am bound to serve the cause as long as I live," I said, well aware of waverings inside.
"Write, all the same. You may change your mind some day," Firelei said quietly.
I found time to write. I played with the idea of breaking away and striking out on my own the way a soldier toys with the thought of deserting his muddy trench to return to a distant home­stead, never earnestly believing that it can be realized. The ties which held me shackled to the communist machine were stronger than I cared to admit to myself. Nevertheless, I wrote, with Firelei at my side. Whenever I began a piece, I finished it in a single sit­ting which usually ended at dawn. Five or six articles and stories, all of which had the sea as their background, went out to various magazines. The editors sent me checks in return, and printed what I had written. Strangely enough, all this did not excite me at all. I took it as a matter of course, in the belief that "there is nothing a Bolshevik cannot do." Had I not won Firelei? My self-confidence still bordered on the monstrous. I would not have shied away from an assignment to sail a canoe around Cape Horn or to take charge of the government of Afghanistan. Meanwhile Firelei was making plans for my literary career, and talked of renting a fisherman’s cottage on a desolate spot of the Flanders coast.
The end of this period of wavering came like a sudden awaken­ing from a long and erratic dream. It came in the form of a mes­senger from Ernst Wollweber in Berlin. The messenger was Michel Avatin, the Lett, whom I had helped to conduct across the ocean aboard the Montpelier six years earlier. The years, it seemed, had not made him older. Compact, firm-faced, swift-moving and ever at ease, he appeared one evening at the International Club in Ant­werp and embarked immediately on a thorough overhauling of the organization which I had a mandate to direct. I liked to work with Avatin. He was efficient and incorruptible. His reputation in the Comintern was that of a man who never crawled, never begged favor, never accorded mercy to shirkers. He was known to have friends and backers high in the councils of the G.P.U. and the Russian Party. But he was the kind of man who never demanded anything of anyone that he would not be able and willing to do himself.
Avatin exercised many functions as a representative of the For­eign Division of the G.P.U. His routine check-up on the soundness of the Comintern’s international Apparat in the Lowlands was only part of his mission. His main job was that of director of the Party’s "S-Apparat," the espionage department, in Germany and the smaller adjoining countries. In Antwerp, he requested my assistance in compiling a select list of little-known but reliable young com­munists to be planted within the Russian White Guard organiza­tions in Belgium and Holland. Avatin also went into conference with one of his aides, who was an employee of the Italian consulate in Antwerp. Mussolini’s Ovra was very active in luring exiled Italian revolutionists to Southern France, particularly to Marseilles, where they were occasionally abducted to Italy. The conference between the Lettish spy hunter and the Italian took place in the suburban office of Comrade Anton, the resident agent of the G.P.U. in Antwerp.
"When you catch an Ovra spy, what do you do with him?" I asked Michel Avatin.
"We cross-examine the unimportant ones, then give them a hard beating, and let them flee. The dangerous spies we execute, to strike fear into their colleagues."
Abruptly, while we were striding along a street, Avatin said: "Take me to your quarters. I have instructions for you from Com­rade Wollweber."
"But I am not under Wollweber’s jurisdiction."
"Perhaps you are. He has taken over our military work in Central Europe."
The tone in which Avatin said this was casual, but I thought it had a mildly ominous undertone. "Central Europe" embraced Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands and Belgium. We mounted the six flights of stairs to my garret quarters. In a flash Avatin’s eyes had taken in every detail of the place. Firelei was there. There was a startled look in her eyes. Her lips parted, she moved forward to greet the Lett, a stranger to her. It was obvious that Avatin’s appearance—a strongly masculine mixture of Viking and Mongol—had instantly caught her artistic interest.
Michel Avatin shot a questioning glance in my direction. "She is my comrade," I said.
"Party member?"
"No."
"I regret," Avatin muttered. "Please ask her to leave us alone for one hour."
Firelei picked up a book, and left the apartment without uttering a word.

Chapter Sixteen - FIRELEI MAKES HER DECISION

AS MICHEL AVATIN FACED ME SQUARELY, he was the image of all the power of the Comintern and the G.P.U. He possessed the uncompromising poise of a fanatic who regarded himself as a member of the ruling caste of one-sixth of the surface of the earth.
"How can you, an international representative engaged in illegal work," he demanded, "allow someone who is not a Party member to know an address on the secrecy of which depends the safety of our conspirative Apparat?"
"Which address?"
"This address. Your address. "
"The girl is trustworthy," I said.
"Trustworthiness is a mere assumption until it has been tested in the fire," countered Avatin. "She is not a Party member."
Our conversation became increasingly bitter. A Party spy in the Antwerp Apparat had collected a lot of details about my personal life, and reported them to Comrade Anton who, doing his duty as a G.P.U. representative, had included them in his regular reports to Berlin. Avatin spoke quite frankly about this system of "mutual Bolshevist control." The reports had reached Ernst Wollweber who, with the assent of Dimitrov, had just then decided to place me in charge of the illicit traffic in firearms from Belgium to Ger­many. It was shortly after Chancellor Brüning, the Catholic leader, had dissolved the Reichstag and fixed September 14 as the date for a general election. The election struggle was being carried on in a spirit of civil war. To the surprise of all, the Nazi Party, under Hitler and Göring, struck out for power with unexpected ferocity. Communists fought Socialists. Socialists fought the Hitler troops. Hitler guards fought Communists. Ernst Thälmann, the Communist Party figurehead, had announced: "After the destruction of the Socialists, the final struggle for power in Germany will be between Bolshevism and Fascism." The military section of the German Communist Party needed arms which were hard to get in Germany. They had to be smuggled in from the border coun­tries. Wollweber had selected me to take charge of this enterprise on the Belgian side. The fact that Firelei was not a trained and tested Party member, endangered—in communist eyes—not only this project, but also all other illegal enterprises with which I was connected.
"You are long enough in the movement to understand this," said Avatin. "You must either drop your girl or make a communist of her. Let danger test her loyalty. Then we will welcome her warmly."
"I suppose the alternative is that I’ll be kicked out of the Party?"
"There is no such alternative."
"I know it."
"We cannot release anyone who has worked in the Apparat. What is a girl? The world is full of girls. To us, the Party is every­thing, the beginning and end of all things."
"Perhaps Firelei does not want to enter the Party."
"If she loves you—and does not want to lose you—she will become a member of our Party," Avatin said.
"And otherwise both she and I would have to go to the Soviet Union?"
"That is the only way, comrade."
Avatin had a way of suddenly changing his tune. Now he used persuasion, and spoke like an anxious friend. "Comrade, the path you are taking is the wrong path." Now he spoke with the double-edged pride of a zealous officer about to lead his troops to glory and death. "We live for the revolution—it is impossible for us to live any other life."
Totalitarian faith and reckless obedience won. Avatin and I and countless others knew only one master—the Party and the Comin­tern, and had but one obsession, that the battle for revolution was the only worthwhile aim in our age. It was Parteibefehl that I should discard Firelei or win her unconditionally to the cause. It was Parteibefehl that I should cease writing for publications which Leninist theory identified with the enemy camp. I stopped writing. I scrapped my dreams of independence which now looked insipid and false. I became rude when Firelei hesitated to let me bend her to my will. I purchased guns in Brussels and Antwerp and had them smuggled into Germany by maritime couriers. I worked to exhaustion so as not to have time to think. I was violently at war with the avid individualist who was my other self. A strange harsh­ness took hold of me, and I trampled on the beauty and tenderness I had barely learned to cherish. Firelei left me, horrified, not com­prehending the sudden change. I traced her, and all night I stood on the street in front of her refuge and roared her name like a wild beast. Two policemen brought me to my senses. They released me after I explained that I was not a madman.
After four days’ absence, Firelei returned to me. Her infatua­tion was stronger by far than her instinctive insistence on a normal way of life. Her capacity for self-abasement was as great as mine.

During the following two weeks, rush work kept me busy for sixteen hours a day and more. Two middle-aged men, who looked like prosperous merchants, came to Antwerp by airplane from Paris with credentials from Dimitrov. I had been advised by the Western Secretariat in Berlin, in a coded message, to assist the two arrivals in every possible way. The two were the chiefs of the South Amer­ican bureau of the Communist International with headquarters in Paris. One was Gustav Sabottka, a Czech, who also headed Mos­cow’s international campaigns among the miners. The other was a quiet-spoken Russian or Pole, who used an American passport and was known to communists in Belgium and France as "Comrade René." Both had a formidable reputation in the confidential circles of the Soviet secret service abroad. They were accompanied by two smart-looking female secretaries and a bodyguard of three Frenchmen of the Paris Red Front League. The girls smelled of eau-de-cologne and the men of atrocious French cigars. Comrade Anton and I had a communist family move from its home in the Merxem suburb, to provide a temporary abode for the South American bureau. In such cases, secret private quarters were essen­tial, because hotels were obliged to report their guest lists daily to the police.
The newcomers’ sudden descent on Antwerp had to do with the Comintern’s preparations for major coups in a number of South American countries. In most of these countries the Communist Parties operated illegally, necessitating the maintenance of a system of communications which was independent of the mails and cables. For this purpose, we had a net of maritime couriers on ships sailing out of Marseilles, but a sudden raid by the French Sûreté, in con­nection with communist schemes in Syria and the Near East, had disrupted the Marseilles organization. So it had been decided to move the communications center for South America to Antwerp, until the damage suffered in Marseilles could be repaired.
The organizations at my command in Rotterdam and Antwerp now concentrated for a number of days exclusively on pressing communists, sailing on ships in the South American run, into the Comintern courier service. As a safeguard, they were freed from all regular Party duties. Huge batches of printed matter and much money went to Buenos Aires and Montevideo. These emergency couriers were virtual prisoners of the international Apparat, under the surveillance of our lynx-eyed watchers and G.P.U. operatives on the docks of the terminal ports on both sides of the Atlantic. We took these precautions to prevent consignments from becom­ing "lost." Even out at sea a courier was under the secret surveil­lance of a fellow-communist in the vessel’s crew.
Most of the propaganda literature shipped from Antwerp was destined for distribution among Latin American armies and navies, exhorting the men to mutiny in case of an acute crisis. I learned that astonishing numbers of undercover agents were on their way to South American states. The Communist Parties there were known to have strong anarchist tendencies. Moscow did not trust the Latin American leaders out of sight, and therefore had them amply covered with Comintern supervisors.
Sabottka and René were well satisfied with the prompt way in which I adapted my organization to serve their emergency needs. René became particularly friendly with me. He intimated that he could use me as an organizer on South American rivers. Both of them, beyond a tentative effort at flirtation, ignored Firelei. Sabottka referred to her, in speaking to me, as "your enticing bour­geois wife." I resented it bitterly. But I did my duty as a communist. Private likes and dislikes had no right to survive. René pulled my hair in a fatherly manner. "I shall mention your excellent co-opera­tion in my next report to Moscow," he promised.

Firelei’s father appeared unexpectedly in Antwerp. He came to take his daughter back to Germany. Since Firelei wished that I should speak to him, I met him in a hotel room I had rented for the interview. He was a well-preserved and slightly paunchy man, with red cheeks and the outward signs of opulence. He had come, ex­pecting to see his daughter. Instead, he found me. From the first instant I met him as an enemy, determined to repulse him swiftly, ruthlessly, and finally. Inside, I felt I was soft. Brutal aggression was the best defense against this softness.
"Was wünschen Sie?" [40] I asked, with forced bluntness. "Where is my daughter?" the man asked huskily.
"Your daughter belongs to me!"
The man pleaded and blustered like a desperate beggar under a rich man’s portal. He squirmed and implored. He made threats. He asked for consideration and pity. I was sorry for him. I became un­necessarily cruel. "Leave now or I’ll throw you down the stairs," I threatened. Firelei’s father departed, shaking his fist at me. "I’m going to have your past investigated," he half shouted, half mut­tered. "I’ll make it as. hot as hell for you—you communist!"
To him, I knew, I was a vicious hoodlum. I told Firelei what had happened. She suddenly recalled that it was her father’s birthday. That made her restive. For a long time she moved aimlessly about the room. She mentioned the rollicking festivals with which her family traditionally celebrated the birthdays of any of their clan. There would be a festival that night at Uncle Bert’s. There would be wine and champagne and tables laden with food. On past occa­sions, Firelei had spoken of these jamborees with disgust, and had said: "They are gobbling and guzzling away a thousand marks in one night while people outside must gnaw dry bread." Now Firelei decided to go to the home of her sea-captain uncle to placate her father, and to try for some sort of truce with the family.
"I will make it clear to him that there is no reason why they should worry and suffer because of me," Firelei said.
"Do you intend to go alone?"
"No. We’ll go together. We have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to fear."
We went late. A meeting had detained me. Approaching the house, a well-constructed three-story building of gray stone and brick, with a carefully tended little garden on one side, we heard the muffled sounds of feasting. A group was singing—

"Trink, trink Brüderlein trink,
"Lasset die Sorgen zu Hause . . .”
 [41]

I rang the bell. A Flemish maid opened the front door. Firelei walked through the vestibule to a large living room. Many people were there. I heard the clinking of glasses. The furniture had been moved aside to make room for dancing. The singing continued. A jovial roar arose as Firelei entered the living room, but when I fol­lowed her all the people suddenly became silent. I felt the hostility in their heavy stares. Then one of the men rose, and stumped toward me. He was a broad-shouldered Fleming with a full, once weather-beaten face and iron-gray hair. He was Firelei’s uncle. It was not easy to discern that one of his legs was artificial. His out­stretched arm pointed toward the door.
"Leave my house," he said.
"If you make him leave, I shall leave with him," Firelei said.
Seconds loaded with painful consternation followed. Firelei’s father pushed forward, muttering. Other men began to grumble. A woman gasped:
"Jesus-Maria, what a girl!"
"Leave my house!" the one-legged sea-captain repeated im­periously.
"What is the matter with you all?" asked Firelei. I now faced her father.
"I’m sorry about this morning," I mumbled. "Let’s try to talk sense."
Five or six people rose, and tramped past us to get their hats. Others walked about the room, not knowing what to do. There was general confusion. Someone crashed his fist on a table. A carafe was pushed over and splintered. A woman rocked to and fro, her hands clasped to her face. Firelei stood immobile. Her left hand touched her throat. Her slender form was upright in the commo­tion. Her face was pallid. Her eyes showed amazement, her lips bewilderment and scorn. The one-legged man stood in front of me, both hairy fists raised high. He roared into my face:
"How can you do such a thing to me? How can you do such is thing to me?"
Other men gathered around us. The thought of being pounced upon by a number of enraged and half-drunk citizens seemed ridic­ulous. The men were advancing, and I backed against a wall, look­ing for Firelei. An elderly woman with black curls grasped Firelei’s wrists, and was trying to drag her into an adjoining room. She struggled to free herself. Another woman and a man seized her arms and jerked her about. Meanwhile, the advancing men, led by the sea-captain, were pushing me toward the street door.
"How can you do such a thing to me?" he raged.
"Shut up," I yelled. "You’re crazy!"
"Go," he shouted with all the force of his lungs. "Go, I tell you, go!"
It was a bitter burlesque. I suddenly lunged forward, and the men gave way. I leaped across the room where Firelei was still struggling, her dress torn. Her assailants were terrified. They let her go. The one-legged man, his eyes blazing under thick brows, interfered. Firelei cried:
"Uncle Bert, you drank too much, you don’t know what you’re doing."
The front door slammed with such force that the house vibrated. A man had fallen over the table. He wept. The sea-captain seized Firelei’s shoulders. He almost lifted her off the floor.
"A disgrace! A damned disgrace!" he shouted madly. Firelei’s father joined him.
"You won’t inherit a penny," he threatened. "I won’t give you the dirt under a fingernail." He seemed to have gone berserk. Sounds like those of fog-horns came from the throat of the one-legged man:
"A disgrace! Freethinkers and whores!"
Firelei struck him across the mouth. He was silenced.
The black-haired woman wailed, "Our girl, our baby .. ."
Firelei was disheveled and frantic. Never had she expected a welcome like this. I led her out of the house. We hurried down the street. For a dozen paces the one-legged man stumped behind us. Then he stopped.
We went in the direction of the harbor. Brassy music brayed from behind the windows of the dives. Sailors rolled toward pleasure. At the corners, prostitutes smoked cigarettes and coaxed passing mariners.
"This was beastly," I panted.
"It was pitiful," Firelei said.
We walked on in silence, skirting the bank of the Schelde until we came to the gloomy battlements of the Steen, an ancient fortress of the Jesuits.
"And now—what?" I asked Firelei. "Where you go—I go," she answered.

Another week passed. Firelei had stubbornly refused to register as a member of the Party, which to her was an alien, impersonal monster.
"Men were not made for uniforms," she said emphatically. "Neither real ones, nor spiritual ones. I can help you in all sincer­ity without yelling ’Hurrah!’ or ’Down’ at things I know so little about."
My nerves were frayed, my attitude toward Firelei became un­fair. I was worn out from overwork and lack of sleep. I was no longer sure of my footing. Life seemed an idiotic carnival, a sense­less clamor without respite and joy. One day, Firelei asked me: "Why must you hurt me when you are dissatisfied with yourself?"
"Am I hurting you?"
And then I rushed off to meet René. He was in the company of the eternally calm and mournful Comrade Anton. Also present was an intelligent-looking young man I had not seen before. He was a German, Karl S., a graduate of the Western University in Moscow. He had been sent to Antwerp to relieve me of my duties. I was given another assignment.
"You will acquaint Comrade Karl with the details of your Ap­parat," René said, adding with a fine smile, "I have made arrange­ments with Comrade Walter. You are going on a trip to Buenos Aires. Your steamer is leaving Southampton in two days. Tell no one where you are going. We shall spread the intelligence that you have returned to Germany."
Little time remained to prepare for my departure. I surrendered to Karl S. all the material, contacts and information he needed to carry on. Then I hastened to the garret that had been home to Firelei and myself through four crowded months. I was standing in front of the bed, packing a suitcase, when Firelei came in. With­out saying a word she stepped close to me and put her arms around my neck. But my thoughts were already at’ the La Plata.
"Please leave me alone," I said.
"Why should I leave you alone?"
"I don’t know. I have no time. You disturb me."
Firelei laughed.
"Grumpy-one," she said. "A pleasant welcome you give me. . . . Or is it farewell? Are you going away?"
"Yes, tonight."
"Where? I am going with you."
"I’m going for the Comintern. I must go alone. I cannot tell you where I am going, but I shall be back before long."
I pretended that I did not hear her sigh. She disengaged her arms, and slumped into a chair.
"Jan," she said, using the name I had adopted for the Lowlands waterfront, "Jan, listen to me, I want to talk to you."
"Go ahead."
"Tell me, am I no more to you than a handy object in bed?"
I stopped packing. "No," I said, "you are my comrade."
"Comrade!" she cried, "I hate the word. I hate the bed. I hate the dreary life we are leading. You are always away. You never come to me before midnight. You do not even ask me for food or money. Must it be like that? Must we be so miserably empty when we are together? Why don’t we take a holiday and walk through the fields? Why can’t we get some flowers and some wine, and have an evening to ourselves?"
I saw her fight back the tears. Firelei was ashamed of tears.
"I’m sorry I have made you suffer," I said. "But can’t you under­stand that we are in the midst of the biggest social upheaval of all times, that I follow the most sublime aim any man can follow? I belong to the Cause; I belong to it brain and hide. You’ve said to me once ’Where you go—I go.’ I wish you would follow me. No word has a deeper meaning than the word Comrade."
"I cannot, Jan."
Firelei’s face was ghastly pale. Her lips twitched. The tip of her left foot tapped the floor in a nervous tattoo.
"Why can’t you?" I demanded harshly.
"Because I can see how these last months have changed you. You have become a serf. A fanatical serf. Whenever you speak of the Party, the muscles in your face seem frozen hard and your eyes are cruel and wild. The Cause, always the Cause."
"It’s splendid," I said, "and true!"
"It’s ugly," she answered. "It takes everything and gives nothing."
"That’s not ugly."
"Yes, it’s ugly—a mass of sweating, shouting scarecrows is ugly!"
Firelei crossed the room to where a water color portrait, which she had made of herself in front of a mirror, was fastened on the wall. It had been remarkably well done. She paused in front of it, her eyes scanning every line of the picture.
"Look," she said, "this is I. My breasts are small and firm, my legs are slender and strong, the lines of my hips are enticing and my voice is melodious. I know it, because you have told me so. My eyes are gray, and they like to laugh. When they laugh, they sparkle. They tell me that I belong to you with body and soul. You are much stronger than I. What you make of me, I am."
"You are my comrade," I said.
"Am I?" Firelei smiled. "I dreamt that you had a powerful dog. The dog had the face of Avatin. It forced me to eat in one room while you ate in another. Then you saw me give poison to your dog, and you came and broke my wrists and struck me in the face with the plate from which the dog was eating. When I fell, you told the dog to kill me."
"Firelei! Firelei!" I shouted.
She was still gazing at her likeness. She turned.
"Don’t shout," she said softly.
I implored her to be sensible.
"How can I be sensible when you are out of your mind?" she answered serenely.
I hesitated, and said: "I shall take a later train to Vlissingen."
"No," Firelei replied. "You still have an hour before the last train. You are going to England? I have bought candles and a bottle of Madeira. Let us put on our best clothes. Then we will darken the room and light the candles. Let’s pretend you’ve just come back from your voyage."

I boarded the liner Monte Pascoal at Southampton Roads, travel­ing second class, and armed with credentials purporting me to be a representative of the Universum Publishing House in Berlin. The contraband I carried included six reels of film in flat steel cases. I did not know the contents of the films. All I knew was that Sabottka and René attached great importance to having them safely de­livered to the central Profintern office in Montevideo (Confederacion Sindical Latino Americana). I also carried several large money envelopes, which were to be called for by one of Arthur Ewert’s South American couriers. Money for Latin America was usually transmitted through the Soviet Trade Delegation (Yujamtorg) in Buenos Aires. In Comintern circles it was understood—though never mentioned or discussed—that funds not sent by cable, but by secret courier, consisted of currency forged for the Comintern by German craftsmen in Berlin. This was especially true of Ger­man, Belgian, French and American currency in denominations of 100. I did not know whether the money I carried to Buenos Aires was counterfeit or not. Its transmission, however, was organized with extraordinary circumspection. It was a very large sum. How large, I had no way of knowing. The three envelopes were marked A, U, and C—Argentine, Uruguay, Chile. Before my departure, there had arrived a beautiful cowhide suitcase built by an expert in Berlin. The money envelopes were placed into its hollow cover in the presence of René, Comrade Anton, and myself. Anton then glued the lining into place. To gain access to the consignment, it would now be necessary to cut open the cover of the suitcase. I then filled the suitcase with harmless papers of the Universum Publishers and with soiled laundry. "It is almost fool-proof," Rene smiled. "It makes you feel secure. When one feels secure, one acts inconspicuously."
I had paid the rent for my garret quarters for three months in advance. I would be back, I hoped, within sixty days. Firelei prom­ised to face this period of loneliness bravely.
During the voyage to Montevideo I brushed up on my Spanish, became the most persistent visitor of the ship’s library, and slept much, and conscientiously avoided all personal contacts with my fellow passengers. Vigo, Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro and Santos were ports of call. I resisted the powerful lure of these ports with success. I did not go ashore with the gay caravans of sightseers, because I was afraid to leave my contraband at the mercy of any possibly inquisitive steward or ship detective. The night before the Monte Pascoal entered the yellow mouth of the La Plata, heading for the anchorage off Montevideo, I hid the metal cases containing the films in the biscuit-tank of one of the steamer’s lifeboats. The passport and customs inspection by the Uruguayan authorities were perfunctory for the passengers of the first and second class. With a firm grip on my new cowhide suitcase, I journeyed ashore by the first launch.
As I walked from the landing, through the knots of shouting cab-drivers, I noticed that I was shadowed by two well-dressed individuals. One of them kept some twenty yards behind me, the other followed on the opposite side of the street. My first thought was, "Police!" I quickened my stride, turning corner after corner. The two followed. I was debating with myself whether to hail a taxi or to break into a run. The bright yellow suitcase I carried was an object too easily identified. "If I ran, I’d be arrested at once," I calculated. "If 1 jumped into a taxi my pursuer would take the number of the car or even follow me in another." In despera­tion, I tried another trick. I pulled a travel booklet out of my pocket, simultaneously throwing a furtive look over my shoulder. I tore the paper into small pieces, so that my shadowers could see what I was doing, and then scattered the shreds into the street. The two sleuths, I felt sure, would stop to pick up the scattered bits of paper. I halted, pretending to look into a shop window, and watched them from the corner of my eyes. They did not stoop to gather the papers. The one behind me grinned brightly, waving both hands in a gesture which among seamen signifies "All clear." I waited, every nerve tense. The man came straight up to me. His companion crossed the street.
"Zum Teufel, [42]" the first one laughed, "you run off like a cock­roach, you with your long legs."
He had spoken in German. His companion nodded a welcome. "We come from Harry Berger," the German said.
Harry Berger was the cover name for Arthur Ewert. The two were guards sent to meet me to insure the safety of my consign­ment. We all boarded a cab, and drove to a small restaurant on the Calle Viejo, the back room of which was the office of the Monte­video liaison agent. There I produced my credentials, which had been typed on linen and sewed into the shoulder-lining of my coat. The liaison agent, a burly, fluff-faced German, at once dispatched a courier to the Monte Pascoal to smuggle the heavy metal film containers ashore.
Montevideo and Buenos Aires served as Comintern headquarters for all countries south of the Panama Canal. Communism in South America was entirely under the direction of foreign agents. Russians, Germans, Poles, Letts and Finns were in responsible posi­tions, and there were a number of New Yorkers in the corps of traveling agitators.
My stopover in Montevideo lasted several weeks. A female repre­sentative of the Yujamtorg office in Buenos Aires came to Montevideo on one of the week-end excursion steamers. She was a thin, bloodless person of about thirty-five, smartly dressed and harshly matter-of-fact. She was the secretary of the Bolshevik Party cell among the Yujamtorg personnel, and probably a stationary agent of the G.P.U. To her I surrendered the cowhide suitcase. She scru­tinized the lining of its cover with a magnifying glass, and, finding the identification marks and the lining intact, she handed me a receipt for "one case of electric bulbs." Incidentally, less than a year later, on July 31, 1931, the Yujamtorg was raided and closed by the Buenos Aires police. It then moved across the La Plata, and was re-established in Montevideo. Proof of the close connection between the Yujamtorg and the bloody communist insurrections in Brazil caused the Uruguayan government to close its offices and expel the Soviet trade envoy, Minkin, in December, 1935. It was then that Arthur Ewert was arrested as the leader of the revolu­tionary outbreaks in Brazil, where he is still imprisoned, although renounced and abandoned by the Comintern.
The hospitality of the communists of Montevideo exceeded any­thing I had so far encountered in Europe or in the United States. I was given a luxurious room in a private house on the outskirts of the city. I was lavishly fed. Each day brought invitations to dinner in the homes of local communists—which included doctors, tally-men and tugboat captains now on the payroll of the Profintern. There were many pretty girls showing their eagerness to throw themselves into the arms of the foreign camarado. Germans in general were at that period most popular in South America. Even the tough-looking hombres in the communist rank and file tried to outdo each other to win the patronage of a Bolshevik from over­seas. Often enough a meeting ended with a dusky comrade sidling up to me and, with flashing of eyes and teeth, suggesting in an intimate whisper: "Oiga—senorita pequena y hermosa? Vamonos! Pajaro!" [43] I declined. I was hungrily waiting for a letter from Firelei. I had told her to turn over mail for me to Comrade Anton, who would forward it. But none arrived.
My sojourn ended after I had spoken as a delegate of the Mari­time Section of the Comintern at a conference of waterfront func­tionaries from Peru, Chile, Uruguay and the Argentine. Action programs were drafted for the seamen, the dockers, the rivermen and the personnel of the South American navies. I cited the details of the mutiny of the German fleet in 1918 to impress the Latin Americans with the importance of building up communist units in every navy. I spoke enthusiastically, and even the cheeks of my interpreter were hot with enthusiasm.
Little did I dream then that in September, 1931, during the presidential election campaign, the Comintern would make a seri­ous bid for power in Chile. The country became paralyzed by strikes and riots. The slogan "All power to the Soviets!" was raised. The Chilean fleet mutinied and the mutineers seized naval bases. Martial law was declared and eighty government airplanes bombed and machine-gunned the mutineers. The revolt was crushed. Three hundred and twenty mutineers died in the battle. A score of ring­leaders were sentenced to death, and many more sent to prison.
My job was done. I crossed to Buenos Aires and there embarked on the Cap Arcona for Europe. No letter from Firelei had reached me. This deeply worried me. The fast liner hammered northward, no man aboard her more impatient to get home than I. Aboard the Cap Arcona, I made a disquieting discovery. The German Reich­stag elections had taken place during my absence from Europe. The Communist Party had gained a million votes, and had become the third strongest party in the land. The Socialists had lost many hundred thousands of their followers. The Comintern policy of wrecking them had not been in vain! But the surprise that came like a thunderclap from the clear skies was the tremendous advance of the Hitler movement, which up to this time had been regarded worthy only of disdain. In one gigantic leap the National Socialists had increased their mandates in the Reichstag from 12 to 107; they who only two years earlier had but one-fifth of the communist strength now ranked as the second strongest political party in the country. Some new, hitherto unknown force was rising with the ominous roar of a yet distant tide-rip. And I first saw its signs aboard the Cap Arcona.
The crew of the ship, one of the largest in the German merchant fleet, contained a strong, disciplined, well-organized cell of Nazi storm-troopers, who flooded the vessel with their propaganda. I observed them doing drills and gymnastics during their watch below. They were a band whose élan and defiance of all outsiders compared with nothing I had as yet perceived under the German flag. They exercised their rule through a combination of propa­ganda and terror. All of them were young, representing a high type of German youth. I came to the conclusion that is was time to do something, to do it soon, to do it with all the energy and persistence at our command. I remembered the warning voice of Arthur Ewen: "We shall be destroyed!"
Upon my arrival in Hamburg I submitted my report and I was immediately given a new assignment which called for my presence for some months in Bremen and the Weser country. Ernst Woll­weber in addition to his many other controlling functions, had acquired the chieftainship of all communist forces in German ship­ping, railroads and communications. Ernst Thälmann and his satellites were more often in Moscow than in Berlin. Maneuvering in the dark with much patience and genuine ability, Ernst Woll­weber, the saturnine ex-mutineer whose cradle had been rocked among the coal mines of Silesia, became more and more the domi­nating force behind the scenes of the strongest and best-organized communist movement outside of Russia. I was now directly re­sponsible to Wollweber, and subject to his orders.
I telegraphed to Firelei, but received no reply. I notified Woll­weber that I intended to make a dash to Antwerp for a day or two. He replied that the Party could not recognize the validity of private enterprises on the part of its employees. I wrote back to Berlin by airmail that I had no "private enterprises," but requested a short leave of absence to find Firelei and to arrange for her com­ing to Bremen. I stressed the fact that Firelei’s artistic talents would be of value to the propaganda department of the Party. Wollweber answered in what approached an ultimatum. "Intimate contacts between responsible comrades and un-proletarian outsiders are out of the question," he wrote. "I have made that clear to you before. Please accept my standpoint. Unless the person (Firelei) becomes a member of our organization and submits to its discipline, we must reject her as a possible danger to our Apparat. If you cannot under­stand that, you have not grasped the Leninist definition of what a Bolshevist Party should be."
I went to Antwerp. It was the beginning of November. A wet wind howled in from the North Sea, and rain-water gurgled in the gutters. I stormed up the stairways to the garret where Firelei and I had had so many happy hours together. At the top landing I stopped for breath. My heart pounded. I drew the key, unlocked the door, and entered. The place was empty. A thin layer of dust was on the floor. There were no books, no clothes, no curtained windows that faced the tower of the Cathedral. Only gaping, depressing emptiness. Firelei had left no message. Then my eyes struck something horrible. There was the picture Firelei had painted of herself, tall, silent, and tender in its colors. Dismally it stared at the stripped room. It was the portrait of a murdered girl. The plaster on the walls showed through where the eyes had been. The eyes had been cut out.
I began a frantic search. The landlord knew nothing. He only grumbled about the nuisance of having lone women go and make a mess of things. I raced to the house of Firelei’s uncle, but the door there was slammed into my face. I questioned the neighbors. No, they said, the German painter-girl had not come back to the sea-captain’s home. I phoned the police. I questioned Comrade Anton and all other Antwerp communists who might have known her. None of them knew where Firelei had gone, except, perhaps, Anton—and he refused to tell because I had not come to Belgium in an official capacity. "Maybe she has returned to her parents in Germany," he suggested. "Daughters of the petite bourgeoisie capitulate at the first serious obstacle."
It was not true. The large-bosomed and large-hearted madame of the Café Banana, where Firelei went at times to sketch waterfront types, knew what had happened to my girl.
"She is in the hospital, the poor meisje," she said in her masculine voice. "She was very ill. But she is better now, nearly well. Why in the name of the Saviour did you not take better care of her?"
"What happened? Tell me quick!"
"An abortion," the woman said. "Godsverdume, she was brave enough to do it herself. She nearly bled to death when they came for her."
Intense remorse, self-accusation, pangs of conscience racked my whole being. I fought them with gnashing teeth. Through the eyes of the twisted rationalism of a communist such mental agony was the attribute of weaklings. I tried to think. "Daily throughout the world, men and women stumble and fall! Shall we stop our advance because of personal calamities inevitable as sunrise?"
"Firelei loves flowers," I thought. "They would be a sign that I stood with her." I bought flowers, and with them I tiptoed to her bedside. How could I ever forget the expression of joyful relief on her face when she saw me? A long time we looked at each other, holding hands, not saying a word.
Firelei spoke first, after a long, radiant smile.
"You have come back," she said.
I talked of many things that I knew would please her. And then I asked: "Why did you do it?"
"I thought you’d never come back," she answered softly. "I have learned how it feels to die."
Day after day I lingered in Antwerp. Firelei’s recovery was like the coming of spring. A wire from Wollweber reminded me that it was November, the stormiest month of the year.
"Return without delay," the wire said.
"I must go," I told Firelei.
"Soon I shall be well enough to follow you," she said happily. "It will be good to share life with you."
"All our life we will be comrades," I said.
The color in her cheeks had disappeared. Her face looked thin­ner, harder, more determined.
"I have changed my mind," she said. "I had much time to think. The day I come to Bremen you must make me a member of the Communist Party."
Inadvertently I recoiled. I knew that it was not her acceptance of Bolshevism, but her love for me, which brought her to this decision.
"In Bremen you will meet my mother," I said.
"I am glad," Firelei smiled. "She and I will be friends, I feel sure."

Chapter Seventeen - BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL

CAPTAIN GÖRING, Hitler’s right-hand man, was scheduled to appear as the main speaker at a mass meeting of the National Socialists in Bremen. The chief of the anti-Nazi division of the Communist Party, the ruthless Heinz Neu­mann, gave the command to break up the meeting, Our local lead­ers shunned this duty, perhaps because they learned to respect Göring’s storm-troopers. As a newcomer, I was delegated to do the job. This was part of my new assignment.
A hundred picked men from the Red Front League were placed at my disposal for the Göring affair. They were fearless young roughnecks, one and all. We had a special leaflet printed for dis­tribution at the meeting, under the headline: "Ten questions Nazi Göring fears to answer." I detailed my men into groups of five and instructed them to mingle with the crowd in the hall and to go into action at the shout, "The National Socialists are neither na­tional nor socialist." Each man was armed with a blackjack and brass knuckles, and a batch of fifty leaflets.
The meeting was to begin at eight in the Kasino, the largest hall in town. A steady stream of men and women flowed through all the streets leading to the Kasino. A platoon of policemen occupied all surrounding corners. Girls and young men roamed the side­walks. Some wore red bands around their sleeves—they sold com­munist publications. Others wore the swastika insignia—they shouted Hitler slogans in raucous chorus. Here and there a minor affray broke out, but was quickly squelched by the police. Brown-shirted troopers marched by in closed formations. A howl went up:
"Down with the Brown murderers!"
"Down with the Muscovite pest!" came in prompt reply.
Thousands jammed the hall. Ranged along the walls and in front of the speaker’s stage, storm-troopers stood shoulder to shoulder. A brass band played a war march. Crimson banners of gigantic dimensions covered the walls. A hundred bearers of swastika flags formed the background of the stage. In the huge crowd, my crew of communists were like a drop in a river.
All of a sudden the array of Brownshirts lining the walls stood at attention. Right arms flew upward. The band blared fanfares. The massive walls of the building seemed to shake as the human mass broke out in one tremendous roar:
"Heil! Heil!"
A score of stalwarts goose-stepped down the aisle toward the stage. They were followed by uniformed men bearing storm ban­ners. The golden swastika which topped the banners glittered under the lights. And then a grim-faced, burly man in civilian clothes strode down the aisle. His chunky right arm was raised in the Hitler salute. Another column of stalwarts followed directly behind him. A bell rang. The roar ceased. A whip-like man, with a military voice, announced that Captain Göring would speak on "Versailles must die so Germany may live."
The chunky man stepped forward, glowering at the audience, his broad muscular face brilliant under the spotlight. A beautiful blonde girl presented to the Nazi chieftain a bouquet of roses as large as a wheel. Captain Göring sniffed the roses, and grinned. Then he took off his coat and threw it carelessly behind him under the table. He rolled up his shirt sleeves and loosened his belt. Laughter of approval mixed with applause. Göring swung his arms, as if to limber up, and the applause rose to a booming roar.
Captain Göring spoke. His speech was rude and vigorous, scorn­ful of politeness, and so simple that a child often could have under­stood him. -What convinced his hearers, however, were less his words than the impression of truculent and brutal personal honesty which he created. His voice and his fists pounded the Treaty of Versailles. He paced up and down on the stage, fists clenched, hairy arms flying, his face streaming with sweat. His voice became a gale of menacing sounds. He worked himself into a blazing fury. He yelled and growled and hammered. He grumbled and pranced in road outbursts of wrath. He attacked everything in the world from God down to pawnbrokers and nudists, excepting only the Army. He unleashed a wild surf of hatred, and sent it thundering into his audience. I was amazed to find the mass of stolid Germans more excited than a crowd of Spaniards in a bull ring. I tried to be cool, tried to take notes on what I intended to say after Captain Göring had finished, but soon gave it up. The man fascinated me.
At last Göring ended amid an earthquake of applause. He sat down and mopped his face. He fished his coat from under the table and wrapped it carelessly around his shoulders. The whip-like man with the military voice rose and asked if any representatives of enemy parties wished to speak ten minutes each to refute Captain Göring, who would be glad to answer all questions raised. I rose and stepped forward, automatically obeying my "Parteibefehl!" I felt my scalp shrivel and grow cold. I handed the whip-like man a slip of paper, bearing my name and Party affiliation.
The whip-like man announced: "A representative of the Communist Party now has the word. I beg the meeting to maintain discipline."
I mounted the stage. A deathly silence descended upon the great hall. Troopers of Göring’s bodyguard eyed me curiously.
After the first sentence, my self-confidence returned. There were snickers and catcalls, but there was also the frenetic applause of my hundred aides in the crowd. I pointed out that the Treaty of Ver­sailles was the consequence of a lost war, and that the war had been provoked by capitalists for imperialist purposes. "All Germany knows," I went on to say, "that the Nazi Party is financed by capitalists exploiting the German nation. The National Socialist Party is neither national nor socialist—yet it calls itself a workers’ party!" At this point I turned and pointed toward Captain Göring: "Does this man look like a worker?"
Göring thrust his bull-head forward. Half a dozen troopers jumped on the stage and rushed me. "Raus mit dem Halunken," Göring ordered, "Out with this scoundrel!" That same instant my aides, in groups of five, rose in the crowd and hurled fistfuls of the small red leaflets though the densely packed auditorium. There was general tumult. I leaped off the stage over the heads of the troopers below, and plunged headlong into the crowd. A blackjack came down on my head. In the excitement I barely noticed the impact. The Brownshirts had left their points of vantage along the walls, and were lunging toward the center of the hall, to fall upon the intruders. A terrifying melee followed. Blackjacks, brass knuckles, clubs, heavy buckled belts, glasses and bottles were the weapons used. Pieces of glass and chairs hurtled over the heads of the audience. Men from both sides broke off chair legs, and used them as bludgeons. Women fainted in the crash and scream of battle. Already dozens of heads and faces were bleeding, clothes were torn as the fighters dodged about amid masses of terrified but helpless spectators. The troopers fought like lions. Systematically they pressed us toward the main exit. The band struck up a martial tune. Hermann Göring stood calmly on the stage, his fists on his hips. My plan had been to create such a pandemonium in the packed hall that the police forces waiting outside would barge in and close the meeting. But the police did not intervene; it was controlled by Social Democrats, who were satisfied to let the anti-democratic forces break each others’ heads undisturbed.
All about me communists were fighting now to gain the street. They ran off like hares. I also ran. Rounding a corner, I passed a big open motor lorry. In it sat thirty policemen, motionless, hold­ing their rifles like silent specters.

My mother, who lived a quiet life in her tiny Bremen apart­ment, received Firelei well. She abhorred communism, because it preached violence and denied God, but her urge to aid those in need knew no discrimination. Had a drunken murderer come to her for help, she would have given it to him. Her three small rooms were full of memories of the past. My mother loved to regard her home as an open haven for her five wandering children and their friends. Both of my brothers, sturdy six-footers obsessed by an in­vincible wanderlust, had gone to sea. My two sisters also were away, the older one as a nurse in a Berlin hospital, the younger as a photographic expert with the scientific expeditions of Dr. Leo Frobenius, the African explorer in the wilds of Sudan. "Oh, but they always come back to me," my mother smiled, content to wait.
One day Firelei said to me: "Mother is worried about you. When you became a communist, she tried hard to understand com­munism, but she could not. It breaks her heart to see you work only for destruction and strife. She prays that you should turn away from it."
"It is too late," I said.
"Mother thinks it is never too late. She has begged me to in­fluence you to go to navigation school to study for the next officers’ examinations. She says it has always been your dream to stand as a captain on the bridge of a liner."
"It is still my dream," I said, struggling to hide a treacherous upsurge of emotion. "Only tell me—who would entrust a known communist and an ex-convict with a valuable ship? No, no, it is far too late!"
"Why not do it, and see what comes of it?" Firelei implored. "There is nothing you cannot do. With a navigator’s license in your pocket, you will surely find a berth. Remember, it is never, never too late!"
I did not neglect my various Party duties. But I found time to enroll as a student at the Nautical School in Bremen. Its director, Captain Preuss, had known my father well. He received me warmly.
"Sieh, wer kommnt denn da!" [44] he boomed. "Well, well, my boy, have you become tired of the Bolshevist nonsense?"
"How do you know I’m a Bolshevik?" I asked, somewhat embarrassed.
"Allah told me," laughed Preuss, adding seriously: "Don’t be a fool. Shipowners have their information service. You’ve been giving them a lot of trouble lately. They’ve got your name on the blacklist—in red ink, I assure you. However—repent, and we shall see what we can do."
Attending school consumed but little of my time. I had mastered the essential mathematics and nautical astronomy in San Quentin, and had to put in but a few hours at school each week to conform with the government regulations for prospective ships’ officers. I had no reason at this time for shouldering the additional burden of studies other than that of trying to please my mother. I was overworked, ate insufficiently, and slept too little. But my mother was overjoyed; in her innocent heart she believed that she had won a victory over the Comintern.
I found the Nautical School a citadel of Hitler. The staff of thirty teachers was composed of Nazis. The roughly three hun­dred students were Nazis. The officers’ club—the Tritonia—was dominated by Nazis. The school was swamped with Nazi litera­ture. During recesses, the school roared with Nazi meetings. Many of the students came to the lectures in storm-troopers’ uni­forms. Every coat lapel around me boasted the flashy swastika insignia. I was the only communist there.
"Why are you a Nazi?" I asked one of them. It was toward the end of 1930.
"Look what this so-called democracy has done for us," he answered with complete self-assurance. "Half of our ships are rotting in graveyards. Adolf Hitler will lead Germany to its right­ful place among the nations. We shall have colonies. We are going to expand in all directions. We are going to have the finest mer­chant marine in the world. Under Hitler, our ships will sail—and not rot."
"A program of imperialist expansion," I commented.
“Most certainly!"
"That’ll mean war."
"What of it? Men were born to wage—and win—wars."
"The German people want no war."
"We are the German people."
"Look at Russia," I said. "It is the only country in the world whose merchant marine is growing."
"Don’t tell me about Russia," replied the Nazi. "I’ve been to Vladivostok with my last ship. The girls there come aboard to let themselves be raped five times for a tin of sardines. That’s Bolshe­vism for you!"
"The Russians exported more grain than Canada did last year," I countered.
"I advise you to stop your communist propaganda in this school," the Nazi said coldly. "Some of our boys might bring their riding whips and flog you out of the building. So hold your tongue."

Firelei, whose deep love for me had driven her into the move­ment, soon won considerable popularity in the German Com­munist Party. She painted posters which the Party used in nation-­wide drives. Her caricatures of Hindenburg and Hitler and other enemy leaders were reproduced in the Party press. She organized theatrical groups which toured the German Northwest; the most famous and talented of these groups was called the "Red Re­porters." Without receiving a penny of remuneration, she worked from morning till night. She was kept too busy to realize that her plunge into Party work doomed her hopes for a legitimate career as an artist. At times, when she was tired, she would ponder and ask, "Where does all this lead to?"
"Forward and upward!" I would answer. "We have no time to he tired."
I had stopped my sallies into the field of literature. When I wrote, I wrote for the Party press. My articles and sketches ap­peared in a number of communist dailies and weeklies. On orders from Wollweber, I had cut short all efforts to publish my book, "Scum’s Wake," in the United States. Instead it was censored by the literary department of the Comintern, to eliminate deviations from official Stalinist policy, and in mutilated form it appeared in the camouflaged German communist press controlled by Willy Münzenberg and several trade union publications in Soviet Russia. Since I was a salaried employee of the Comintern, I was formally requested to contribute the payments due to me toward "the suc­cessful completion of the Five-Year-Plan." I did so cheerfully. As a reward, I was nominated to the post of honorary president of the League of Proletarian Writers in the Northwest District.
I had also written two one-act plays which were entitled "Signal of Mutiny" and "The Sailor’s Enemies." They were both accepted by the Party and subsequently performed by the communist theatrical groups aboard the largest liners of the North German Lloyd in Bremerhaven, including the crack ships Columbus and Bremen, causing a greater disturbance in shipowners’ circles than a month of intensive strike agitation. The plays were open incite­ments to mutiny, veritable commands to the crews to seize the ships and to hoist the red flags when the time was ripe. Simultane­ously with these performances went a dogged propaganda aboard the vessels of the North German Lloyd, the company that prac­tically dominated the old Hanseatic metropolis of Bremen. Great, therefore, was my astonishment, when I was approached one day by a representative of the Lloyd Verlag, the publishing house of the North German Lloyd. The representative invited me to call at the editorial headquarters of the company for a confidential con­versation with the editor-in-chief of the Lloyd Journal. Loyally I wired Wollweber informing him of the fact.
"Be careful," he replied, "their object is bribery. But the con­tact may be of value."
The editor-in-chief received me graciously. She was a cultured woman, a certain Miss von Thülen, the sister of one of the most powerful personages in the North German Lloyd. Serenely she informed me that the company had been informed that I experi­enced financial difficulties in completing my term at the Nautical School. She offered me a contract to write one article a month for her magazine, a total of twelve pieces at two hundred marks each. I refused. She then asked me if I would consider translating the official tourist guide for 1931 of the North German Lloyd from German into English. This tourist guide was well known in all North Atlantic ports. It was a two-hundred-page book praising the beauties of Germany. Miss von Thülen offered me a thousand marks to do the job. I accepted. The tacit understanding was that I should refrain from all further efforts at stirring up trouble among the crews of the Lloyd ships.
Wollweber considered planting me as an undercover agent of the Comintern inside the North German Lloyd. This plan, how­ever, was torpedoed by Heinz Neumann, who wanted me for his anti-Nazi campaigns. I did only a small part of the translation my­self. The bulk was done in record time by official translators of the Communist Party. After ten days, I was able to deliver the English version of the tourist guide. I received a check for one thousand marks. The money went into the treasury of the Com­munist Party, and I continued to harass the North German Lloyd at every possible turn. Again I had wantonly thrown away a chance of building up for myself an independent existence within the law. Firelei was stunned by my recklessness. My mother was deeply hurt by my treachery.
Wollweber was on one of his tours of inspection to all the com­munist units in the transport industry of Central Europe. The man was uncanny. No detail, no weakness escaped him. He was a beast with the brain of a malevolent scientist. There was nothing he feared, except publicity. I said to him good-naturedly, "They call you the ’Little Lenin,’ but you’re much more like Stalin than Lenin."
At that Wollweber stopped short. "What makes you think that?" he asked, showing his tobacco-stained teeth in a grin.
"Well," I said warily, "Comrade Lenin was always before the masses."
"What have you got against Comrade Stalin?" Wollweber scowled.
"Nothing," I said.
"Comrade Stalin is the greatest living statesman," Wollweber declared, as if he were sentencing someone to be hung. "No one who questions this assertion can ever be used in a vital function."
That evening, the day’s work done, Ernst Wollweber said to me: "Now let’s go and be happy."
"What is it that you need to be happy?"
"A quiet place, where a man can let go of the life-lines, and drink a case of beer in peace."
I laughed. I invited Wollweber to my quarters in the proletarian Westend of the city. I bought two cases of beer and cajoled the landlady into preparing a large amount of Bratwurst and potato salad. Wollweber arrived at nine. Always suspicious, he sent his secretary ahead to investigate the house before he entered it him­self. The secretary was a small girl of twenty, fairly attractive but tight-lipped, and devoted to her master like a well-trained dog.
Wollweber was a heavy drinker, though he hardly ever touched a drop of alcohol unless he felt himself perfectly safe from the long arms of his many enemies. This time he drank without restraint; his small, gleaming black eyes fastened themselves like sucking animals on Firelei. His hands soon followed, but Firelei laughed them away. With a few swift strokes, she drew a caricature of the plainly amorous Wollweber and named it "Cannibal looking for a bride." Wollweber guffawed, but the epithet "Cannibal" became as popular as that of "Little Lenin."
Wollweber talked of his youth. Early in the Great War his father, a miner, had been killed on the Russian front, and Ernst had become a member of the Socialist Youth at the age of seventeen. His trade had been that of a riverman. He had plied the German waterways, smuggling defeatist propaganda from Berlin to the western front until, one day, he helped a group of "activists" sink a number of cement barges in a canal in Belgium to block the trans­ports of war material to the front. The Socialists expelled him for his radicalism, and Wollweber joined the Spartakus Bund and, at the same time, volunteered for the Imperial Navy. He had fought in the Battle of Jutland, and had then become one of the chief organizers of the final mutiny in the German fleet. Wollweber boasted of his prowess both as a revolutionist and a man, and all the while he edged himself closer to Firelei. His little secretary-mistress watched him like a hypnotized mouse. Abruptly Wollweber turned to me.
"This chit of yours," he growled. "I must have her in bed." Pointing to his frightened secretary, he added: "You take Helen, she’s a nice little hare."
The drinking bout ended suddenly. Firelei, Helen and I de­camped, seeking emergency quarters in a hotel and leaving the "Little Lenin" alone in charge of my abode. Returning next morn­ing to see what had happened to my chief, I found him in bed with a Junoesque prostitute he had managed to pick up in the street after our departure. Wollweber had sobered up. He paid the girl, and told her to be off.
"Bah," he snarled when we were alone, "after a night like this I could puke at myself. Life is a leprous hell-hole. Unsatisfactory, altogether unsatisfactory."
A few minutes later, after a dousing with cold water, he was again the old, disillusioned warrior. "Let me see your plans for the Weser mobilization," he growled. "We must put more punch into it. By February we must come to strikes that will tear the trans­port industry to ribbons."

The Hitler movement was sweeping the country like a storm flood, washing away the parties in the middle. Because it was my business to fight it, at meetings, in the factories, in the streets and on ships, I studied its methods. The Nazis waged their campaigns with unlimited courage and ruthlessness, with devotion and cynicism. They promised higher wages to the workers, higher profits to industry, and well-paid jobs to the unemployed. They promised the liquidation of department stores to small traders. They promised land to the farmhands, tax-exemption and higher income to the farmers, and government subsidies and cheap labor to the large landowners. They promised to outlaw strikes and at the same time supported every strike to curry favor with the toilers. They ranted against capitalism and bargained with captains of industry behind the scenes. They held out the promise of careers and of power to students and intellectuals, who rallied to the Nazi banner by the thousands. Nazi propaganda was as quick as lightning, seizing upon every mistake made by other political groups. Hand in hand with this propaganda went a superbly organized terror. Merchants were terrorized into surrendering part of their profits to the Nazi Party. Liberals were terrorized until they dared not hold public meetings. Brown-shirted raiding detachments, schooled in the technique of terror, clubbed, stabbed and shot opponents in daily affrays.
We raised the slogan, "Strike the Nazi wherever you meet him!" But it was a secondary motto for us. The paramount aim of the Communist Party was still the destruction of Social Democracy, the "principal foe" blocking the road toward a Soviet Germany. So it was that in organizing a maritime strike campaign, I concentrated my main efforts on the destruction of the socialist-controlled trade unions. With the aid of many hundreds of thousands of leaflets, we stirred up the discontent of the workers and lashed them to wild hatred against the employers, against the police and against the Social Democratic leaders—who favored arbitration.
The tactics employed by the Comintern to wreck the socialist trade unions was that of the "united front." Every communist meeting, newspaper, leaflet raised the slogan of the "united front" on every occasion. In the beginning, because of my sincere belief in the desirability of co-operation with the socialists, I took it literally. I went to the headquarters of the socialist Transport Workers’ Union in Bremen to propose to its chief a plan of united action in the strike then imminent. One of the numerous G.P.U. spies in our Party got wind of my visit, and sent a confidential report to Berlin, in which he accused me of secret counter-revolutionary negotiations with a notorious "Social-Fascist"—a term then in vogue among communists. The report was forwarded to Herrmann Remmele, communist Reichstag deputy, then touring Western Germany. He promptly collared me, and gave me a rough-and-tumble lecture on what the Comintern meant by the "united front."
Comrade Remmele made it clear that no "united front" was wanted unless it preserved communist leadership. The aim was to unite with the rank and file against the will of their socialist leaders. This was called the "united front from below," and was calculated to drive a wedge between the rival leaders and their masses, and to split the trade unions. All communist proposals were intentionally so worded as to be rejected by the socialist chiefs. These proposals invariably ended with the appeal, "Defend the Soviet Union, the fatherland of all workers!" The socialist leaders rejected this formula, and the communists then cried, "Traitors! Saboteurs of co-operation!" Thus the "united front" maneuver became one of the main causes of the impotence of organized German labor in the face of Hitler’s march to power.
I bowed to Remmele’s order. "That is the Party line," he said. "Any deviation from it is equal to treason!" Five years later this veteran of the Bolshevist movement, the author of a volume in praise of the Soviet Union, who had been condemned to prison in Germany and fled to Russia, came to the end of the "Party line." He was shot in the dungeons of the G.P.U. in Moscow as a "Gestapo spy."
The blind hatred for the Social Democrats took a decisive turn about the middle of January, 1931, when Georgi Dimitrov issued a secret memorandum of instructions to all leaders and sub-leaders of the communist columns. A special committee, headed by Thälmann, Heinz Neumann and Wollweber, was set up to carry the instructions into effect. Summed up in one sentence the instruc­tions were: "United action of the Communist Party and the Hitler movement to accelerate the disintegration of the crumbling democratic bloc which governs Germany."
My chief aide, a leather-faced engineer named Salomon, and I stared at each other in consternation.
"Who is crazy?" Salomon muttered. "We—or the Central Committee?"
"Without the help of the Social Democratic Party, the German bourgeoisie cannot survive," Wollweber growled in a meeting of Party functionaries. "With the liquidation of the Social-Fascists, we are preparing the soil for civil war. We shall then give Hitler our answer on the barricades."
Those who objected were threatened with expulsion from the Party. Discipline forbade the rank and file to discuss the issue. From then on, in spite of the steadily increasing fierceness of their guerrilla warfare, the Communist Party and the Hitler movement joined forces to slash the throat of an already tottering democracy.
It was a weird alliance, never officially proclaimed or recognized by either the Red or the Brown bureaucracy, but a grim fact all the same. Many of the simple Party members resisted stubbornly; too disciplined to denounce openly the Central Committee, they embarked on a silent campaign of passive resistance, if not sabotage. However, the most active and loyal communist ele­ments—I among them—went ahead energetically to translate this latest Parteibefehl into action. A temporary truce and a combining of forces were agreed on by the followers of Stalin and Hitler whenever they saw an opportunity to raid and break up meetings and demonstrations of the democratic front. During 1931 alone, I participated in dozens of such terroristic enterprises in concert with the rowdiest Nazi elements. I and my comrades simply followed Party orders. I shall describe a few of such enterprises to characterize this Dimitrov-Hitler alliance and to illustrate what was going on all over Germany at that time.
In the spring of 1931, the socialist Transport Workers Union had called a conference of ship and dock delegates of all the main ports of Western Germany. The conference took place in the House of Labor in Bremen. It was public and the workers were invited to listen to the proceedings. The Communist Party sent a courier to the headquarters of the Nazi Party, with a request for co-operation in the blasting of the trade union conference. The Hitlerites agreed, as they always did in such cases. When the conference opened, the galleries were packed with two to three hundred Communists and Nazis. I was in charge of operations for the Communist Party and a storm-troop leader named Walter Tidow —for the Nazis. In less than two minutes, we had agreed on a plan of action. As soon as the conference of the Social Democrats was well under way, I got up and launched a harangue from the gallery. In another part of the hall Tidow did the same. The trade union delegates were at first speechless. Then the chairman gave the order to eject the two troublemakers, me and Tidow, from the building. We sat quietly, derisively watching two squads of husky trade unionists advance toward us with the intention of throwing us out. We refused to budge. As soon as the first trade union delegate touched one of us, our followers rose and bedlam started. The furniture was smashed, the participants beaten, the hall turned into a shambles. We gained the street and scattered before ambulances and the Rollkommandos of the police arrived. The next day, both the Nazi and our own Party press brought out front page accounts of how "socialist" workers, incensed over the "treachery" of their own corrupt leaders had given them a thorough "proletarian rub-down."
On another occasion the German liberals were the victim. The Democratic Party had called a public mass meeting in defense of the German Constitution. It had summoned its military organiza­tion, the "Young German Knights," to protect this meeting against extremist raiders. A large police force also took up positions in the great hall. The day before the meeting, the Nazi Party had approached the Communist Party with a request for aid to smash the rally of the Democrats. A truce was established between the Red and Brown guerrillas. Both sides concentrated to wipe the Democrats off the political map. 1 was assigned to lead the Com­munist wrecking party; the Nazi faction was again under the com­mand of Tidow, a soldier of fortune in the clique of Captain Röhm. Our hordes came early, filling the hall before the Demo­crats arrived in force. The main speaker of the evening was Gen­eral von Lettow Vorbeck, the defender of German East Africa during the Great War. We granted Lettow Vorbeck a bare ten minutes of uninterrupted speaking. Then, at a signal, group of Nazis and Communists in the front row of the auditorium began to shout the vilest terms of abuse at the General. Police and "Young German Knights" immediately intervened to silence the marauders. In a few seconds a grand battle was in progress. Bottles and chairs whistled through the air. Well over a thousand raiders tangled with hundreds of "Knights" and police and several thousand inno­cent listeners. Tidow’s men and my own had brought with them itching powder, stink bombs and a large number of white mice. The itching powder and the mice were used to drive the women present from the meeting. General von Lettow Vorbeck was locked in a lavatory beneath the stage. The police did not dare to use their weapons for fear of hitting noncombatants. Eventually, the police drove us into the street, where the affray continued far into the night. The mass rally of the Democrats was shattered beyond hope, like so many others of their meetings throughout the Reich.
Communist co-operation with the Hitler movement fir reasons of political expediency did not stop at wrecking the meetings and demonstrations of opponents. In the spring of 1931, the German Nationalists moved for a plebiscite to oust the Social Democratic government of Prussia. Together with the followers of Hitler, they collected the number of signatures required by law to force the Berlin government to make the plebiscite mandatory Tensely we Communists awaited the answer to the questions. ’How are we to vote? If we vote with the Nazis, the Socialist government of Prussia might fall, and a combination of Hitlerites and Monarchists will come to power in Prussia, the dominant state within the Reich. Surely we are not to give our votes to make Hitler ruler of Prussia?"
The Communist high command, under Dimitrov, ga’e us the answer by telegram and letter, and through circulars, pamphlets, and headlines in the Party press. "Down with the Social Democrats, the chief enemy of the workers! Communists, your duty is to sweep the Socialist traitors out of the government offices!" So, while Communist and Nazi terror groups blazed away at each other in nightly skirmishes, Communists went loyally to the polls to give their votes in support of a drive launched by the Monar­chist Hugenberg and the Fascist Hitler.

The wave of strikes which we had engineered in the early months of 1931 was water on the Nazi mill. The miners struck in the Ruhr, in Saxony, and Silesia. In my own province, along the seaboard, the waterfront workers followed. We endeavored frantically to turn this strike into a major political battle by leading the masses into conflicts with the police. But the workers, taught by many bitter experiences, were either too tired or lacked confidence in the power of the Communist Party. Under such conditions, the encounters tended to be short and hectic.
Hamburg and Bremen were at that time the most important ports of call for the Soviet merchant marine. We received in­structions from special emissaries to exempt Russian shipping from the strike. It was Parteibefehl. So when the dockers struck, all ships were affected except those flying the Soviet ensign. Our strike committees formed special stevedoring gangs to load and unload Russian vessels while the craft of other nations lay para­lyzed. The mass of strikers protested. Nazi agitators exploited the opportunity with the cry: "The Soviet Union organizes scabbing! While the workers starve, the communists draw pay from Soviet steamers! The Communist Party places the profit interest of the Soviet Union above the bread-and-butter interest of German proletarians!"
Many of us were sick at heart at the transformation of the Soviet government into the foremost strike-breaking firm in Ger­many. But our Party leaders were adamant. "Those who strike against the Hammer and Sickle," they proclaimed, "are saboteurs of the Five-Year-Plan, traitors to the first Land of Socialism!" Striking workers who opposed this decree were clubbed at meetings and driven off the waterfront by Red Front squads, and often straight into the outstretched arms of the Hitlerites.
At the same time, the Nazi brigades muscled into our ranks for the purpose of infiltrating those industries which had remained immune to their propaganda. In Bremen and Minden, the Nazis perpetrated bold coups and threatened to attain a majority in the strike committees. The job of driving the Nazi squads off the docks and out of these committees was given to Edgar André, one of the leaders of the outlawed Red Front Fighters’ League. I had met him in 1923, in the lair of Maria Schipora. This warmhearted giant and superb fighter displayed uncompromising cruelty when it came to grinding Hitler’s columns into the dust.
Edgar André had won great popularity among us after he had successfully smashed Nazi meetings in which Dr. Joseph Goebbels had been the chief speaker. André organized Red terror units in all North German towns, armed them with stilettos and Belgian automatics, and gave them the order: "For every communist murdered, five storm-troopers must be killed!" It was André who was mainly responsible for the creation of a special military organization named the "Anti-Fascist Guard." No man inspired greater fear and hatred in the hearts of the storm-troopers than Edgar André. Our undercover agents in the Hitler formations reported that the storm-troop commanders, Karl Ernst of Berlin and Fiebelkorn of Hamburg, had decreed, "André muss sterben!—André must die!"
By this time, two years before Hitler’s ascent to power, the framework of the Gestapo was already in existence. The Nazis had adopted the pattern and technique of the Tcheka, and the elite of the storm-troopers had proved itself most gifted in copying the model of mass terror originated in Soviet Russia. From now on, it was terror against terror.
The Nazi decision to "liquidate" Edgar André, we knew, would be carried out at any risk. André called a secret conference on March 4 to discuss the establishment of a special school to train the Anti-Fascist Guard in terrorist warfare. I was invited to the conference, and had been requested to bring with me a list of fearless young communists fit to lead terrorist drives against the storm-troopers. We met in utmost secrecy in the backroom of a tavern in Fünfhausen, a village a few miles from Hamburg. But André himself was not present, as he had received sudden orders shortly before the meeting to fly to Paris on a pressing military mission.
The conference at Fünfhausen ended quite late. After a glass of beer at the bar, I boarded the night omnibus for Hamburg. With me were two other communists, Karl Henning, a member of the Hamburg senate, and a comrade named Cahnbley, who was in charge of the secret printing of illegal army and navy propaganda.
Outside of Fünfhausen the bus stopped. Three young men, one in the uniform of a Nazi storm-trooper, entered and sat down near the driver. There was nothing unusual in that; the Hitlerites drummed day and night in these outlying communities. But while the bus was speeding along the open road, the three newcomers suddenly leaped up and drew guns. The uniformed trooper pressed his automatic into the driver’s back.
"Just keep her going," he said calmly.
The other two faced the rear of the car, their fingers on the triggers of their pistols. In a flash I realized that there had been a spy at the Fünfhausen conference, and that these three were assassins. One of them, a tall, blue-eyed youngster, leveled his gun at Cahnbley.
"You’re André," he barked. "We are looking for you."
Cahnbley shrunk back in his seat. The other passengers sat like frozen corpses. Comrade Henning intervened.
"Leave him alone," he said. "That’s not Edgar André."
The pistols swung around. One of the Nazis snapped: "I know you. We’ve got you on the list, you’re Henning."
"Put down your shooting irons," Henning said.
I exchanged a glance with Cahnbley. The next instant we lunged at the assassins. Their guns roared. Glass splintered. The trooper in front was firing at Cahnbley and me. A woman shrieked.
We were unarmed. Comrade Henning slumped across the lap of a woman beside him, and groaned. The tall young Nazi was still firing at Henning. Some of the bullets struck the woman’s legs. She squirmed and screamed.
Comrade Cahnbley had pulled off a shoe and was attacking the Brownshirt in front of him. The smell of burnt powder filled the bus. A small child crumpled. The guns roared deafeningly. Sud­denly Cahnbley reached for his face, and pitched atop two women in the aisle. Both women were bleeding. A bullet grazed the top of my head: I reeled and slumped between two seats.
The bus stopped. Struggling against unconsciousness, I heard the assassins order all passengers out on the highway. I closed my eyes and lay still, pretending to be dead, and was dragged out of the bus and thrown into a ditch by the road. The Nazis com­manded the chauffeur to drive on alone. They cut the telephone wires overhead, and were picked up by a car which had followed the bus.
Men were busy with flashlights. Blood ran down the back of my head. Henning was dead, hit seven times in the head and chest. Cahnbley had lost an eye and part of his nose. The wounded child whimpered. Two wounded women were unconscious, the third kept screaming at the top of her voice. Someone bathed my head in cold water. Before the police arrived, I staggered away in the dark. A milk truck brought me to Hamburg.
Two nights later I sat on the platform of a communist mass meeting in the Sagebiel Hall of Hamburg. Ernst Thälmann, the Party leader, spoke. He called for the formation of Red Vigilante committees in town and country to meet the Nazi terror.
After Thälmann, I stood up to address the meeting. The chair­man referred to the bandage I wore around my head as a "badge of revolutionary honor." I urged the masses to drive Nazi invaders out of the working class districts, and to avenge the death of Com­rade Henning. I terminated my speech with the cry, "Death to Fascism! Germany is not Italy!"
From fifteen thousand throats came the cry for vengeance: "Rache! Rache!"
Michel Avatin, of the G.P.U., was assigned to track down the murderers of Henning. They were apprehended, but had to be surrendered to the police. The judges before whom they were tried were, like most German judges, Nazi sympathizers. The assassins received prison terms, and were freed shortly after Hitler came to power. All three subsequently became members of the Hamburg Gestapo.

Chapter Eighteen - SOVIET SKIPPER

CAPTAIN PREUSS, the director of the Nautical School, called me to his private office. In his weatherbeaten face his eyes were keen and young. His large, hairy ears, which gave his countenance a faintly humorous aspect, seemed to jerk forward with an air of immense belligerency.
"Ships must sail," he said in his explosive manner, "and the smartest youngsters on God’s earth are just good enough to sail them. Accord?"
"Aye, sir."
"Hell’s bells!" Captain Preuss went on. "This is the end of February. The navigators’ examinations are a week away. And what do you do? Frazzle your time away with the Red stinkers! You could make the angels sick! I could ring eight bells and kick you out. But I happen to be a soft-hearted jackass. I want you to realize that you are at a point where the channels fork. One course, the one you’re on now, leads into the mudbanks; the other leads to clean deep-water. I wouldn’t give a hoot if you weren’t an old sailor’s son."
The captain’s words cleaved apart the artificial bridge I had built within me to close the gap between contradictory urges—the rebel urge and the urge to be a commander of ships. Captain Preuss’s voice now came in a gentle rumble:
"We all have our follies and our dreams, my boy. Some dreams we can make come true, others—never! They are murdered by their own realization. You can go the decent way." Biting off the end of a cigar, he added: "Or you can go to hell."
I could not find the strength to fight my way to a clear-cut decision. But I decided to pass the ships’ officers’ examinations. "Perhaps I will strip off the chains," I thought, "and make the big jump yet!"
Keeping myself awake nights with black coffee, cognac and endless cigarettes, I snatched time from Party work to prepare for the examinations, which covered the theory of magnetism, dead reckonings, spherical trigonometry, salvage laws, cargo stowage, business English, treatment of scurvy, and Sumner lines. I struggled with azimuths and amplitudes, with longitude sights and ex-meridian altitudes, chronometer errors and the receiving and sending of wireless messages in Morse. I was thankful for what I had learned in San Quentin when I emerged as the second best in a group of seventeen students, and even received honorable mention in the bourgeois press of Bremen. I was presented with a document which gave me the right to serve as navigator on ships of any tonnage on any ocean.
I looked long at my navigator’s certificate. "You scrap of paper," I thought, "to me you are of no greater worth than a share in rubber plantations on the moon!" Was I not on the blacklist of every shipowner in the land?
The next three weeks I was immersed in a crusade among the waterfront workers along the Rhine. Firelei had gone through a course in a Party school, and was now attached to the publicity department of Weltfilm [45] in Hamburg, a company dealing in Soviet motion pictures. On my return trip I found a letter inviting me to call at the headquarters of the North German Lloyd.
I was ushered into the office of Captain von Thülen, chief of the nautical division. He explained to me that his company, one of the largest and oldest shipping concerns in the world, was al­ways on the lookout for talented young men to join the officer corps of the fleet. Gruffly he deplored my alliance with Com­munism, advised me to break with radical politics, and offered me a job as junior officer on one of the Far East ’liners! Von Thülen was joined by Captain Paul König, the man who had navigated the German freight submarine Deutschland from Bremen to Baltimore and back during the World War. Both of these powerful old seadogs promised me a fine career on condition that I sever all connections with the Communist Party.
This was an opportunity which did not come twice in the course of a lifetime. And I knew it. A good, respectable job, security, and the prospect of an honorable career were within my grasp. I had to choose between the realization of my boyhood dream and the perilous uncertainties of the life of a professional revolutionist. For several minutes I fought a violent inner battle.
In the end, I declined. Bourgeois honor was not my honor. I was bound up with the Comintern, and live and die with the Comintern I would. I thanked the master mariners for their kindness. They could not grasp why any young seaman would reject such an offer. To them, I was an utter, unredeemable fool.
Like a blind man I stumbled down the thickly-carpeted stair­ways of the North German Lloyd building. Out on the street, heedless of the stares of passers-by, I wept like an unhappy child, overwhelmed by a wave of helpless, terrible anger at myself. I had burned behind me the last bridge to the world of normal duty and normal pleasure.
Firelei was pale and silent when I told her what had happened.
"Must it be so?" her sadness seemed to say. "Everything for the cause—and nothing for ourselves?"

The Party got wind of the fact that I had an officer’s ticket. At the end of May I was called to Berlin, and the girl courier who met me at the station led me straight to a conference in Ernst Thälmann’s office in the Karl Liebknecht House. Fritz Heckert and Dimitrov were present.
Dimitrov, strongly perfumed as always, grinned from ear to ear. "You’re the first ship’s officer who is also a member of the Communist Party," he said.
Fritz Heckert, stroking his flabby abdomen, came to the point: "You must now get about among the officers and engineers of the merchant marine, to build up revolutionary cells in that group."
I did not tell the comrades that I had been offered an officer’s berth. They took it as a matter of course that, as a known agitator, my name was on the blacklists in every shipowner’s office between Königsberg and Emden. But Heckert and Dimitrov lost no time in developing their plan of campaign, which called for my joining the largest of the seven existing unions for captains, mates and engineers, and the organization of a "Unity League for Ships’ Officers"—a front organization for the actual work of Communist Party units. I was allowed an initial budget of eight hundred American dollars, with later monthly budgets to fit my needs. This money was to come from the West European Bureau of the Profintern, which then received one hundred thousand dollars monthly from Moscow, and was under the control of Fritz Heckert in Berlin.
Ernst Thälmann proposed that I should first go for a short sojourn to the Soviet Union to study methods and conditions in the nautical union there. Dimitrov and Heckert agreed at once.
"Without having had actual experience as a ship’s officer," I objected, "I shall be discredited and kicked out of the first officers’ meeting I enter. The Nazi organizers will stand up and say: ’Look, this man has never stood on a bridge, and now he comes to tell the mates and engineers to fight under his direction.’ "
"All right," Dimitrov said. "We’ll get you a ship. We’ll get you a job as captain on a Soviet ship. You must arrange to have some Nazis in your crew who will see with their own eyes that you are the real commander of the ship."
That sounded fantastic. But the adventurous flavor of this proposition made my blood tingle. Dimitrov promised to inform me when he had found a suitable ship. Fritz Heckert then telephoned his secretary, Liselotte, a thin dark girl who was also his bed-mate, to bring eight hundred dollars from the Soviet Trade Mission. Twenty minutes later she arrived, carrying the money, in five- and ten-dollar bills, in a battered briefcase.
In Hamburg, I spent seven days exploring the various officers’ unions and boarding dozens of ships to interview mates and engineers. Then I wrote the first issue of the new ships’ officers’ bulletin, which I called The Bridge, and had an edition of five thousand copies printed on the Party presses. I divided the lot into parcels and shipped them to the International Seamen’s Clubs in Danzig, Kiel, Stettin, Lübeck, Hamburg, Bremen and a number of smaller ports. I then went off with a member of the Party motorcycle squad on a trip through all German harbors.
I was in Danzig when a message from Berlin reached me. It read:

"Report to Soviet consul in Bremen to take command of Soviet Pioner. Choose your own crew. Wollweber."

My heart pounded. The magicians of the Comintern had turned the trick. At twenty-seven, with no practical experience as a navigator, I was told to go and become a skipper! I made a mad race for Hamburg by motorcycle. At nine o’clock the next morning I was with Firelei. Breathlessly I told her of my mission.
"Take me along," she said at once.
"But the Party," I demanded. "You can’t run off without a leave of absence."
"Party or no Party," she decided. "If you become a captain, I request to be signed on as cabin boy."
I called the Hamburg chieftain of the Ships’ Officers’ League, Comrade Karl Meininger, a former leader of the Freethinkers’ Society, and put him in charge of all our units in German ports during my absence. (Incidentally, this Meininger was arrested by the Gestapo in 1934, convicted to prison for high treason, escaped from Germany in 1936, and subsequently became a master mariner of a Palestine merchant vessel.) Then Firelei and I hastily packed some belongings, and we took the train across the heath of Lüne­burg to Bremen.
At the Soviet consulate in Bremen, I met an official of the Sovtorgflot, the Russian shipping trust, who was supervising the construction of Soviet ships in German shipyards. The consul introduced him as Captain Kostin, supposedly a former submarine commander in the Czarist navy.
"Our friends in Berlin have recommended you highly," the consul said to me. "I assume that you’re thoroughly familiar with all phases related to the captaining of a valuable ship?"
"Of course," I answered brazenly.
The fact that "our friends in Berlin," who had recommended me, knew nothing more about ships than that they began at the bow and ended at the stern did not disturb the consul at all. Cap­tain Kostin, a vivacious little man, patted my shoulder and led me to his automobile which was parked in front of the consulate. Together we journeyed out to the Vulkan Shipyards.
My ship, the Pioner—Russian for Pioneer—was a large and fine sea-going tub, just completed, and designed for service on the northern coast of Siberia. My duty was to take the ship around the North Cape of Norway to Murmansk, where a Russian crew would take charge of the vessel and conduct it farther to the mouth of the Yenisei River. It incorporated the highest craftsman­ship with the latest in shipbuilding technique, and was equipped with two 800 h.p. Diesel engines.
Captain Kostin, I soon discovered, was a rank amateur in things nautical. He did not know what a sea-anchor was. He did not even know the workings of a compass. Had it not been for the honesty of the capitalist shipbuilders of Germany, Captain Kostin would have sent without hesitation any leaking coffin to brave the ice-infested Northern Sea Route as long as that coffin had the general contours of a ship. My first thought was to report this fraud to the G.P.U.; Kostin, in my eyes, deserved to be shot.
But Firelei saved Captain Kostin’s life. She thought him a lovable chap. He entertained us royally, gave us elaborate dinners, rooms in the best hotel, and told us with great enthusiasm that soon Murmansk would be the foremost fisheries port in the world.
I had a free hand in fitting out the Pioner. I bought a mountain of provisions to last us not only through the voyage north, but also for the return trip by rail, for I knew that Russia was then an extremely hungry country. When I began to choose my crew, however, I ran into trouble.
Besides Firelei, whom I made the Pioner’s cook, I needed ten men; a machinist, three oilers, a mate, four able seamen and a cook’s helper. I intended to recruit at least four of my crew from the unemployed members of the officers’ unions, possibly members of the Nazi Party, to have impeccable witnesses that I had really been a skipper. The other six were to be bona fide seamen from the ranks of the Communist Party. But the communist high command in Bremen, headed by Comrades Robert Stamm and Nickel, dis­rupted my plans.
Stamm and Nickel maintained that I was liable to their orders. They stormed against the plan of taking along a few Nazis. They asserted that Nazis would wreck the ship en route, commit acts of sabotage, and engage in espionage once they were in the Soviet Union. All of the Pioner’s crew had to be Party members, and Stamm and Nickel were going to supply them.
We compromised in the end. The Party Committee was to furnish five crew members, leaving me to select the other five, provided none of them belonged to an enemy organization. After the contract was signed, the visas affixed to our papers, and the Pioner ready to sail, I found that among the five men the Party had supplied not one had ever worked aboard a ship. They were simply favorites of the Bremen Party chiefs, out to earn some easy money, regarding the trip as a junket to the proletarian fatherland.
With Red flags flying, sirens screaming, delegations from the Party bidding us farewell, and with Captain Kostin throwing smiles and kisses at Firelei, the Pioner pulled into the river and pointed its bluff nose toward the North Sea. I paced the bridge, hiding my pride, and trying to assume a most casual professional manner, but watching meanwhile like a lynx every act of the grizzled old Weser pilot as he eased the ship down the river.
I had no experienced mate. My engineer was in reality an auto mechanic. Of my sailors, only two could steer a ship. The rest made up by electing a ship’s committee, a provisions commission, and a Kultur Kommissar to organize Marxist entertainment during the voyage. Below the town of Brake, we met the tide and ran into short, choppy seas. Before we had reached Bremerhaven, where the river meets the North Sea, the president of the pro­visions commission and the Kultur Kommissar draped greenish faces over the stern rail.
"You’ve a nerve," the grizzled Weser pilot turned to me. "For a million rubles, I wouldn’t go to Murmansk on this ship!"
Off Bremerhaven, the customs launch came alongside to take the seals off our stores which we had bought in a free-port zone. They included several cases of cognac and some thousands of cigarettes. To my consternation, the customs inspector came raging on the bridge.
"The seals in your storeroom are broken," he yelled. "Who gave you authority to break customs seals before leaving German waters?"
I went below, the inspector fuming at my heels. I found that the comrades of the provisions commission, not knowing the free-port regulations, had broken the seals in their eagerness to plan the provisioning of our expedition. Now they stood there sheepishly. Some grumbled about "bourgeois provocation" on the part of the customs officials.
"Who broke those seals?" the inspector continued to rage. "How many cigarettes have been smuggled ashore between here and Bremen? How many bottles of cognac, how many pounds of tinned butter, have been smuggled ashore? I have to confiscate the ship! I order this vessel to put into Bremerhaven for investigation!"
All protests were futile. Three customs guards were put aboard the Pioner, which, at a snail’s pace, crawled toward Bremerhaven where other guards tied her unceremoniously to a pier.
Ten hours of bickering and negotiations followed. At the cus­toms house, I was interrogated as if I were a pirate. The Pioner was searched from stem to stern. Every bottle of cognac, every cigarette, every pound of butter and coffee and rice was accounted for. While I answered questions and signed declarations to satisfy the authorities, my comrades aboard took the opportunity to launch a series of flying meetings among longshoremen and wharf policemen.
The Weser pilot, after having sworn that nothing had been smuggled ashore, departed with the remark: "Young man, you’ll never get to Murmansk."
"We fine you three hundred marks, and twenty-three marks for costs," the customs official, who had conducted the investigation, announced. "You can pay the fine and clear out. You can also contest the fine. In the latter case, this ship will be detained until the court decides the issue."
With gnashing teeth I paid the fine. It almost emptied the Pioner’s cash-box. Then I returned to the ship, and told the Kultur Kommissar and the three comrades of the provisions commission that they were fired.
"You have no authority to fire us," they objected. "We shall call a meeting of the crew to pass upon the matter."
"You are fired, without pay," I snarled. "You’re fired! Pack your bags and get off my ship!"
"We refuse to leave the ship."
"Get off!"
"This is unproletarian conduct," they protested. "We shall ap­peal to the Party."
"Get off my ship," I said, "or I’ll have you arrested as mutineers."
They refused to budge. Firelei and my engineer, who enjoyed a somewhat macabre sense of humor, connected the fire hose and the engineer set the pumps working.
"Get off my ship," I commanded again.
"You’ll answer for this before the Party Control Commission," the Kultur Kommissar blustered.
"Douse them!"
Firelei and the engineer turned the spurting hose on the re­calcitrant comrades, pursuing them around the deck and into their cabin with a jet of oily harbor water. Finally, all four escaped to the wharf. The engineer, Comrade Lausen, stood guard with a monkey wrench to prevent them from coming back aboard.
I sped to the communist Port Bureau in a taxi, and hired four new seamen. Then I mobilized the Party newspaper truck, and sent the four men to Bremen to get their visas from the Soviet consul. Within eight hours they were back.
In the meantime, a courier from Captain Kostin arrived in Bremerhaven with this message:
"Dear Comrade, you will please proceed with SS Pioner to Kiel to take in tow SS Lososi. Lososi is moored at the coal hulk in Kiel fjord, and must be towed to Murmansk by SS Pioner. I shall meet you at Kiel. With international greetings, Kostin."
Pioner was soon under way. Once in open water, I turned east­ward between the islands of Heligoland and Scharhoern, ran into the Elbe estuary, passed Cuxhaven, and entered the locks of Brunsbüttel on the North Sea end of the Kiel Canal. When the Cuxhaven coast guard station ran up a signal: "What ship?" I re­plied proudly, "Pioner, Bremen to Murmansk."
Much dangerous water lay between Kiel and the North Cape, but I was determined to bring my ship to Murmansk or never show my face again to any living creature! Before we left the Bruns­büttel locks, with the Canal pilot aboard, I received a telegram from Bremen. I knew immediately that it was a telegram from the Communist Party, inspired by the Kultur Kommissar and the provisions commission I had so rudely driven off the Pioner. It read:

"You are herewith expelled from the Communist Party for gross opportunism and unproletarian conduct. Leave ship Pioner at once. Nickel."

I called a shipchandler’s runner and asked him to send a wire for me to the Communist Party in Bremen.
"Go to hell," I wired. "I and Pioner on way to Murmansk."
We passed through the Kiel Canal at night. It was like steaming along a brightly lit highway. At dawn, churning in the opposite direction, a flotilla of destroyers passed by. Politely I dipped the red Soviet flag when the low gray warships were abeam, and I had the satisfaction of seeing units of the German navy dip their ensigns in return, thus taking notice of a ship of which I was commander.
On the giant locks of Holtenau, at the Baltic end, stood dapper little Captain Kostin, grinning a welcome. He boarded the Pioner before we proceeded to the roadstead where, moored to an ancient coal hulk, lay the high seas trawler Lososi, newly built in the Germania shipyards of Kiel. The Lososi, I saw at first glance, was one of the most modern trawlers afloat. She was more than twice the size of the Pioner.
The Lososi had no crew. Captain Kostin maintained that no crew was necessary, since the Pioner was going to take the trawler in tow. I said that I needed at least three men to man the Lososi, even if we towed her. A ship in tow had nevertheless to be steered, particularly in the rock-infested waters off the Norwegian coast. Captain Kostin explained in his effervescent manner that Sovtorg­flot had made no arrangements for manning the Lososi.
"Well, in this case," I argued, "you are Sovtorgflot. Therefore you can give me power of attorney to hire three more men."
"That’s utterly impossible," Captain Kostin protested. "I can­not take such a responsibility."
He handed me the Lososi’s papers, and grudgingly I signed a receipt for one new trawler.
"By the way," Captain Kostin said, "have you a chart of Trondheim Fjord?"
"No."
"By all means, get a chart of Trondheim Fjord," he said. "There is a small port, called Muruviken. On your way to Murmansk, you’ll put into Muruviken for two hundred tons of woodpulp. This woodpulp is for Murmansk."
"Woodpulp?" I repeated, bewildered.
"Woodpulp, of course, woodpulp. Put the woodpulp into the Lososi and bring it to Murmansk. Here are the papers; everything is in perfect order."
With the woodpulp papers he handed me a bottle of Kupfer­berg Gold champagne, and jumped into a waiting launch. He had to go back to Bremen to "supervise" the launching of another tug. As the launch drew off, I shouted after him:
"Hey, how about a line to tow the Lososi?"
"There’s a good towline on the Pioner," he shouted back, cheerfully waving both arms.
I took two sailors forward to open the fore peak and break out the towline. The line turned out to be merely the cut-off end of a hawser, less than a hundred feet in length, far too short to tow a ship like the Lososi over a good portion of the Atlantic Ocean. With so short a line, a heavy sea running up from astern would threaten to hurl one ship on top of the other, and smash both. Besides, a short line, having no spring effect, would snap at a sudden jerk. I decided that I would have to procure another line.
The fact that the Lososi had no crew did not bother me. I could put three men from the Pioner to steer the Lososi, leaving the lead­ing vessel with a crew of nine. If the Russian workers could com­plete the Five-Year-Plan on dry bread and cucumbers in three years, then why could not I bring to Murmansk two ships with one crew?
I went ashore and telephoned Derutra, the Soviet shipping com­pany, in Hamburg. A cheerful voice with a thick Russian accent answered.
"I need a towline," I said. "I need a full-length towline, other­wise I cannot leave for Murmansk."
"A towline? Please, comrade, explain."
At length I explained the nature and the purpose of a towline, and after that I explained why I could not sail without it. "I need a good, long towline," I concluded. "I need it at once."
The voice at the other end of the wire paused. I heard sounds of an argument in Russian. Then the voice answered:
"You may need a towline, comrade. I am sure you do. It is a serious expense. I cannot—well, you better talk to the comrade in charge of foreign purchases."
The comrade in charge of foreign purchases reported his presence.
"I need a towline. . . ." Again I explained my problem from beginning to end.
"Very well," said Comrade Foreign Purchases. "But what guar­antee do we have that the towline will be shipped back to us once it is in Murmansk? We shall never see it again. We—"
"But I need a towline," I groaned into the telephone.
"Of course, of course, but . . . I cannot make a decision on the spur of the moment, comrade. I shall connect you with Comrade Vice President. He will be pleased to arrange the matter. . . ."
Comrade Vice President was at the telephone.
"I need a towline . . ." I reiterated.
"Certainly, comrade . . . only permit me to have my Comrade Secretary consult the Pioner inventory list. . . . Have an instant’s patience, please."
"I need a towline," I barked. "Without a towline I can’t sail. A towline costs three hundred marks. It is cheaper to buy a tow­line now than to waste money on port taxes."
"We understand perfectly," the other replied suavely. "But .. . suppose a towline is not really required. I cannot buy a towline without possessing myself of all the pertinent facts."
"Comrade Vice President,—I need a towline. . . ."
"Yes, yes." And then, disconsolately: "Please wait. I cannot per­sonally take the responsibility."
I waited. I called again. I was on the telephone for an hour. Finally Hamburg answered: "We have no power to buy a tow­line for you. Our inventory shows that there’s a good towline on the Pioner."
I wrangled some more. Derutra in Hamburg told me to take up the matter with the Soviet Trade Embassy in Berlin. I phoned Berlin.
"I need a towline," I said, "to bring two new Soviet vessels to Murmansk. Without a towline, both ships will be marooned in Kiel."
At the Berlin end of the wire a heavy voice said: "All right. We shall discuss the matter. Call us again in twenty-four hours."
Twenty-four hours I waited. The expense for twenty-four hours in port ran close to a hundred marks. Then I called Berlin again.
"This is the master of the Pioner speaking. ’How about a towline?"
"Oh, yes, a towline. We have communicated with Hamburg. Hamburg informed us that there is a good towline aboard the Pioner. Please make use of it."
"There is no towline," I yelled in a rage. "There’s a line—as short as a dog’s tail . . . no good for towing. . . . I want a real towline."
"Oh, a line for towing?"
"Yes, a line for towing!"
"Please have patience. We cannot decide off-hand."
I then telephoned Captain Kostin in Bremen. His secretary said that Captain Kostin had been called to Berlin about some business concerning a towline.
Another day went by. Another hundred marks of Russian money went to the devil. Early next morning I called Berlin again.
"This is the master of the Pioner and Lososi. I need a tow­line to . . ."
"The comrades are not in yet," a female voice interrupted. "Call again at ten o’clock."
I called at ten.
"How about that towline?" I ranted.
"Exactly," the thick voice I had heard two days before answered. "Yes, the towline. We are sending a man tomorrow to establish the fact that there’s really no towline aboard the Pioner."
"You crooks," I barked into the telephone. "You are sabotaging the Five-Year-Plan. If I have no towline by tonight, I’m going to take the Pioner to sea and leave the Lososi behind."
After that I called a meeting of my crew to consider what to do. Comrade Lausen, my engineer, suggested that we sneak alongside some tug after dark, and steal a line. We rejected. this proposal for fear that it might end in the confiscation of our ship. I went ashore to a shipchandler and bought the best towline I could find. I did not pay cash, but told the manager of the firm to present the note I signed to the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin. Returning with my towline in a water taxi to the Pioner, I found three stony-faced Russians on board. They said they had just arrived from Berlin to man the trawler Lososi!
I divided the Russians into three watches, one man per watch, and convinced myself that they could steer. That done, all hands turned out to secure one end of our precious towline around the Lososi’s forecastle and foremast, and late in the afternoon we cleared the anchorage of Kiel and headed out into the Baltic.
Luckily, the weather was fine until we had negotiated the Sound between Denmark and Sweden. We did not make more than six knots an hour. In the Kattegat, between Göteborg and the Cape of Skagen, we ran into a stiff north-wester. The Pioner, with a draft of less than five feet, pitched wildly in the seas.
Off Skagen I changed course to the westward, making for the southernmost tip of Norway. In the reddish rays of a setting sun I saw the three Russians leaping up and down on the dancing fore­castle head of the trawler astern, and gesticulating madly. Franti­cally they pointed toward the towline. Through a pair of powerful glasses—the Pioner had the best possible equipment—I discerned that the towline was chafing through where they entered the Lososi’s hawse pipes. At any minute the line threatened to part and set the trawler adrift.
I hove to with the Pioner and lowered a dinghy and sent three men into the dinghy. The towline hung slack. The Lososi turned slowly and wallowed in the beam sea. The three men in the dinghy rowed over to the Lososi, and together with the Russians they heaved in some of the towline. Since there was no steam on the trawler, this work had to be done by hand. The back-breaking job took all of four hours. The damaged spot in the line was hauled in, the line refastened and the points of friction guarded against further damage by wads of canvas and burlap. When the three men returned to the Pioner, the dinghy capsized. All three, however, could swim, and we hauled them aboard with heaving lines. So pronounced was our eagerness to safeguard the interests of the Soviet Union that we lowered another boat and set out to salvage the overturned dinghy! It was well after midnight when we resumed our westward course, both ships pounding and spanking in the choppy seas. We on the Pioner saw the Lososi meander back and forth like a pendulum. At first we blamed the North Sea for this crazy swinging of the trawler, but later I discovered that, after nightfall, our Russian colleagues had simply gone to sleep, leaving the ship to steer by itself. On the following day, with the coast of Norway in sight, I stopped again, had the Russians brought aboard the Pioner, and transferred three of the latter’s crew to handle the bigger Lososi.
Standing well off the coast, I kept the two ships on a northerly course during the three following days. Needless to say, I rarely slept. Day and night I remained on the bridge, hollow-eyed, oblivious to hunger, and finding it a fascinating business to navi­gate two undermanned ships with no one to rely on except myself. The world of political strife seemed to belong to another planet. Acutely I felt that my love of the open sea stood in grim conflict with my loyalty to the Comintern. Still, were the ships to be wrecked because of my insufficient nautical experience, I was firmly resolved to kill myself rather than to face the sneers of Dimitrov and Heckert. To these comrades, I was a Bolshevik, and I believed that there was no task a real Bolshevik could not accomplish.

Firelei learned to steer the Pioner. She proved to be, one of my best helmsmen, and she quickly developed the knack of using a sextant for latitude observations of the sun at noon and of Stella Polaris at night. When she steered the ship, she sang. Looking out over the wide expanse of the sea, she told me: "Now I know why sailors like to sing when they’re at work."
I began to hug the coast around Cape Statland, for I remembered the woodpulp and I did not want to miss Trondheim Fjord. The Fjord pilot came aboard, guzzled nearly half a bottle of the Pioner’s cognac, and brought both ships safely to the ramshackle pier of a lumber mill in the village of Muruviken.
We learned that the waterfront workers along the whole coast of Norway were on strike. Yet we had to take on a load of wood-pulp for the Soviet Union. The Five-Year-Plan recognized no strikes. It could not wait. The Soviet representative in Oslo had made arrangements, through the Norwegian Communist Party, to have the woodpulp loaded by scabs on the Lososi. But my men of the Pioner disliked the idea of working with strikebreakers. I had to talk for hours before I could convince my crew that strikes were fought against the capitalists, and not against the Homeland of Socialism. Only the three Russians did not care. Strangely enough, they were the least class conscious members of the gang under my command.
The news that two vessels flying the hammer-and-sickle were in port spread like wildfire along Trondheim Fjord. Six hours after we had tied up to the wharf, the Communist Party membership of Trondheim, a town of 60,000 inhabitants, turned out in full force. They came on trucks, on bicycles and buses to Muruviken, to greet the victorious revolutionary workers who sailed ships under Soviet banners. More than three hundred Norwegian com­rades, men and women and children, swamped the Pioner and Lososi. Their astonishment was great when, instead of a full crew of doughty Russians, they found a lot of Germans at home under the magic Soviet insignia, for they had brought placards and banners bearing the inscription: "Greetings to the builders of Socialism."
All the same, we had a fine time. I organized an "international fraternity meeting," opened our cognac and cigarette stores, harangued the Norwegian comrades’ on the success of the Piatiletka (Five-Year-Plan), and toward evening I left Comrade Lausen in charge of a crowd of revelers aboard the ships and, together with Firelei and the Party Committee of Trondheim, I was driven to address a workers’ meeting. It was a meeting of strikers. They
cheered loudly when I was introduced to them as the Russian skipper of Russian ships.
I returned to Muruviken at two in the morning. Many of the portholes of the Pioner and Lososi still showed light, and weird noises came from the insides of the ships. The decks were littered with drunken Norwegians, sprawled among empty bottles and broken glass. Aboard the Lososi, a few couples were dancing to the tunes of a balalaika played by one of my Russian sailors. Every bunk in the crew’s quarters of the Pioner contained a female Nor­wegian communist in the arms of a German comrade. At intervals, the girls and women, with bursts of shrieking laughter, were ex­changed among the owners of the bunks. Firelei, tipsy herself, remembered the fire hose she had used against the Kultur Kommissar in Bremerhaven. She tied a pail to a lanyard, filled it with the brine of Trondheim Fjord, and kept dashing the brine into every bunk until the irate Comrade Lausen seized her and threw her overboard. I stripped and jumped overboard after her. That was a signal. Soon every man able to swim discarded his clothes and followed me into the water for a merry time in the gentle light of the northland night. At dawn I commandeered all the taxis that could be found in Muruviken, and bundled my Norwegian guests pell-mell into them. Instead of money, each taxi driver re­ceived a bottle of cognac. Quiet began to settle on the Pioner and Lososi.
Next afternoon, with the woodpulp aboard, I conducted a thorough search of both ships before we put out to sea. My suspicions were verified. Four male and two female Norwegian communists were dragged from their hiding places and hustled ashore. With the motors hammering as sound as ever, and the coast pilot aboard, Pioner headed seaward, dragging the Lososi with two hundred tons of woodpulp in her wake.
The Norwegian coast pilot was in charge of the ships, and I caught up with my sleep. We proceeded northward along the inland passage, between the coast and the maze of rock-bound islands, and the nights became so light that newspapers could be read under the eerily flaming midnight sky. We passed Boervik and Bodoe, wound our way through the sinuous channels east of the Lofot Islands, left Narvik, Tromsoe and Hammerfest—said to be the northernmost town on earth—astern. At Gjoesvaer Island, close to the North Cape, I discharged the pilot, cleared the Cape and pointed the Pioner’s prow eastward into the Arctic Ocean. We were now in a luminous, mirror-like sea, three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. At midnight the sun hung, like a glow­ing orange, low over the northern horizon.
I navigated with the greatest caution. Nordkyn and the Vardoe promontory hove into sight and vanished. A school of whales gamboled in the velvety sea. I shaped a course for Kildin Island, which lies just east of the entrance to Kola Bay.
Seventeen days after leaving Kiel we entered Kola Bay. The low shores were shrouded in fog, and I made the Pioner’s siren roar every minute as the ships edged yard after yard into Russian waters. When the Murmansk pilot boat appeared like a specter out of the mist, with screaming gulls wheeling overhead, I felt like shouting with joy. Our safe arrival in Russia I regarded as the greatest triumph of my life. Lined up along the rail, the crew of the Pioner eyed the pot-bellied Russian pilot as though he were some fabulous god. But this Soviet citizen showed no interest in the new ships we had brought. His first thought was a cup of good coffee and a dish of ham and eggs—two items which Firelei promptly supplied.

Chapter Nineteen - IMPOTENT AND OMNIPOTENT

A SQUAD OF G.P.U. men boarded the Pioner in the Murmansk harbor, but no marine official came to receive the two fine and costly ships I had navigated with so much pride, and with so much zeal for the Five-Year-Plan. The leader of the G.P.U. was a wiry, swarthy fellow, with inquisitive button eyes, who spoke English fluently. Each member of my crew was examined to the marrow of his bones. Since all of us possessed the black Communist Party membership books, the G.P.U. officials willingly fraternized with us as soon as they had completed our examination. But not one of them expressed and interest whatever in the two brand-new ships.
I scrutinized the harbor with keen interest. An atmosphere of mud, toil and fish enveloped it. The sleepy village of Murmansk had become a veritable volcano of activity since my last visit there at the beginning of 1926. The town had expanded, and new settle­ments of large log houses stretched away in many directions. Giant fish sheds had been erected out of logs and corrugated iron. A large fleet of high seas trawlers lay moored to the wharves or were anchored in the bay. Winches rattled without cessation; loads of fish swung through the air. Men and women ran about, worked, shouted. A long, new, massively built pier jutted out far into the harbor. I gazed at it, and wondered.
"Look at the pier," I said to the G.P.U. leader. "The super­structure looks wrong. It’s built so that there’s no room for the stevedores to stand and work."
"Yes," the G.P.U. man answered sullenly. "Sabotage! We shot the engineer."
Next I pointed to a cluster of trawlers anchored offshore. They were new ships, but they looked broken down and rusty.
"Why are these ships laid up?" I asked. "Why are they not at work, at sea, catching fish? Why are they so rusty?"
"We have no shipyard here to repair them," my guide said, "and paint is scarce." He shrugged his shoulders. "Nitchevo [46], soon we shall build a shipyard and repair them."
No one, as yet, had come to claim the Pioner and Lososi. I demanded to know to whom I had to turn over the ships.
"The port captain," the G.P.U. official informed me. "He will see you soon."
All day passed and no port captain appeared. But the manager of the wharf, where the two ships lay moored, a clean-shaven ruffian in polished boots, came storming, telling me to move my ships to the other side of the harbor, because he had no room for them on his pier.
I brought out lines in boats to the other side of the harbor basin, and hauled the two orphaned vessels across. The watchman there protested strongly for some obscure reason of his own. I paid no attention to his protestations and he ran off, threatening to report me to the port captain for disobedience. But the port captain still remained a mythical figure.
Toward evening the Pioner was haunted by a great number of ragged women and children. They sneaked aboard to beg for bread or any other provisions we could spare. Firelei cooked a stew of potatoes, salt pork and peas, and our Russian visitors gobbled up enormous portions down to the last scrap. Fed, the women began to ransack every cabin which was not locked. They tried to carry off blankets and shoes and even alarm-clocks. In the end, I was forced to gather my crew and drive them off by main force. Later some of the younger women came back and offered to share the bunks with the members of the Pioner crew for a pair of socks, a piece of good soap, or a can of corned beef.
At eight o’clock, the local G.P.U. chief boarded the Pioner and invited us to spend the night with him ashore. Firelei and I accepted gladly, and asked him to show us Murmansk.
"How is it that so many women come to beg food? Why are there so many prostitutes? Is there no work for them?" inquired Firelei.
"We have plenty of work for all," the G.P.U. man said. "But many of our citizens still have more interest in useless fineries than in the big things we accomplish. Did they bother you? I shall have them arrested!"
Every street in Murmansk was crossed by red banners bearing Five-Year-Plan slogans. Every street was crowded with work-stained men and women. The streets had no pavement. The board sidewalks were broken in many places, and people had to balance themselves in single file over planks thrown across holes in the ground, or wade across patches of knee-deep morass.
"Never mind the rotten streets," the G.P.U. man told us. "In two years we shall have paved roads."
We passed the rambling log building of the International Club, which I had helped to inaugurate more than five years before. At that time I had had a vision of this club developing into a center of culture. What I saw now was a grimy den, crammed with noisy workers of all ages and sexes, some of them reading ragged newspapers, others eating fish which they had brought wrapped up in paper, but most of them drinking vodka under the busts and portraits of Stalin and Lenin.
The smell of damp clothes, unwashed bodies, and fish was everywhere. An abandoned truck was sunk deep in the mud of the main street. Often we stepped over men and women who had gone to sleep, drunk, on a piece of wood in the mire. Utter squalor and dull indifference met my eyes everywhere. The only modern stone buildings in town were the bank and the house of the G.P.U. In most of the log houses, every room was occupied by a family, often by two. Single workers were quartered at the rate of five to eight men and women in a room. The constant arrival of new hordes of toilers resulted in the overcrowding of the newly constructed log houses before plumbing, lights or even partitions could be installed. I saw families of five housed in rooms which contained no furniture beyond a huge pile of rags, a packing case and a few nails in the wall,—and the inevitable color print of Stalin. Only my fanati­cal belief that the industrialization of the Soviet Union, even though it entailed unprecedented mass suffering, was essential to our victory in the whole world, sustained me.
Our exploration of Murmansk, "the frontier of socialist labor," was not without a humorous side. Firelei, commenting on the many drunken people who sprawled in the streets, asked our G.P.U. mentor if the Party organization of Murmansk could not provide more wholesome entertainment for the workers.
The G.P.U. man drew himself up truculently. "Drunks?" he asked. "Have you seen a drunk? Has he offended you? Where? I shall arrest him immediately!"
We entered a long barn-like structure which served as the only cinema theater in town. It was packed with ill-smelling humanity. There were no vacant seats. The G.P.U. chief tapped three specta­tors on their shoulders and told them to get up and surrender their seats. They grumbled at first, but when they turned and noticed the smartly pressed uniform of the political police, they jumped up with alacrity. We said we could stand, but our guide would hear nothing of it.
We saw a Hollywood "Wild West" picture, with hard-riding cowboys in five-gallon hats doing a lot of shooting. The G.P.U. man, proud of his English, insisted on explaining every scene to us in a loud voice. Voices in the audience clamored for silence. Our host roared his defiance, and continued to expound who stole whose cattle, and who shot whom.
"Damn good picture," he proclaimed at the end.
We went back to the Pioner at a very late hour. We found Murmansk wide awake. The whole population worked in three shifts, and under the gloomy midnight sun work progressed as in broad daylight. Hundreds of women and a few men were building a fence around a portion of the harbor. They dug deep holes in the swampy ground and sank concrete pillars into the holes. We stopped to watch a group of elderly women doing this labor. Their coats and skirts were old and ragged, their boots were cracked open at the seams, and the mud ran out of them. Their faces looked emaciated. Each time they struck their picks into the stubborn earth, they emitted long-drawn grunts.
"Are they convicts?" Firelei asked uneasily.
"No, no," the G.P.U. man answered emphatically. "Many thousands come to work in the factories in Leningrad. There they are formed into brigades and sent to work in Murmansk. After one year in Murmansk, they are allowed to look for work in Leningrad."
"Do they always work at night?"
"Some work in the daytime, others at night. Time is precious, and the USSR needs fish." Then he went on to tell us that the G.P.U. had crushed a movement of passive resistance among these workers some three months earlier. "They whispered from ear to ear, ’Take your time, go slow!’ We arrested four hundred."
"What happened to them?" asked Firelei.
"We shot the leaders here. The others we sent away in a train."
"What became of them?"
"I don’t know. We have no time to waste on saboteurs."
Back in our cabin aboard the Pioner, Firelei threw herself on the bed and wept. The superficial view she had had of Murmansk had revealed to her greater horrors than any she had seen in hunger-ridden Germany. This was not the Socialist Fatherland she had looked forward to with such eagerness.
"Is this what we are fighting for?" she asked.
"The masses of this country are backward," I argued. "What we have seen illustrates the superhuman efforts made by the Bolsheviki to liquidate the heritage of Czarism. No price can be too high to build a socialist society."
I knew that sounded hollow, but I was fiercely determined to defend my faith.

When no one had shown up the following morning to claim the two ships in my care, I went in search of the port captain. I found him in a dingy office behind a battery of telephones, a lean and melancholy man, with a bristly face and dirty fingernails. He wore an unkempt white linen suit. His feet were on the desk, next to a glass of tea.
"I am the captain of the Pioner and Lososi," I said. "I want to hand over the ships to your care."
The port captain, an official of the North State Fisheries, looked startled.
"Ships?" he muttered. "What ships?"
"New ships I brought over from Bremen and Kiel, two new ships."
He looked perplexed. Laboriously he hoisted himself out of his chair. He now addressed himself to a burly, red-faced, blue-uniformed assistant:
"Two ships have come in from Germany. Are they in good condition?"
"I shall inspect them," the assistant rumbled.
The port captain told me to come back in two hours. He would have to telephone headquarters in Leningrad to verify my statement.
When I returned, I found the port captain beaming. He offered me tea, cake, cigarettes.
"I have called Leningrad," he said. "We’ve been expecting these two ships for weeks."
It took the port captain three days to assemble a crew to take over the Pioner and Lososi. Meanwhile he invited me to be his guest. His wife, who was typist at the bank, fed me cabbage soup, fish, caviar, black bread and vodka. But most of his time the port captain spent aboard the Pioner, enjoying our tinned beef, butter, jam, and cognac.
Finally, the Russian crews for both vessels arrived. There were twenty-seven men for the Pioner and more than forty for the Lososi. Hailing from the Yenisei country in Siberia, from Arch­angelsk and from various points of the Kola peninsula, they were an adventurous-looking, boisterous, hard-bitten lot. They filled the ships with gleeful shouts, admired their cleanliness and newness, tested their outlandish fixtures, spat on the scrubbed decks, jumped on the mattresses with their mud-caked boots, banged doors, scat­tered the contents of tool chests, turned the shining galley into a chaotic mess, cut the leather straps from the wheel house windows, and then settled down in comfortable groups around the inevitable vodka bottles, which appeared out of the shapeless bundles they had brought with them. In an hour the two new ships were transformed into battered madhouses.
The Russian captain assigned to bring the Pioner to Siberian waters was a blond youngster, not more than twenty-one years old. I surprised him in the act of dumping my belongings out of the door of the captain’s stateroom.
"I now take charge of this ship," he announced. "Therefore this cabin is mine."
When I demanded that he put my things back and find other quarters for himself until I had made arrangements for my return passage to Germany, his cockiness subsided. Just then the radio operator, a fellow with Mongol features and immense shoulders, reminded him that his crew was hungry, and that he should request the surrender of the Pioner’s storeroom keys from me.
"Give me the keys," he said. "We need meat, we need flour, we need canned goods."
I knew that if I gave him the keys, our stores would certainly evaporate, and I needed the remaining provisions to feed my men during their voyage home.
"Nothing doing," I retorted.
After a lengthy squabble, he sent some of his men to filch a sack­ful of codfish from the nearest shed. Soon the once sleek Pioner smelled of fish and grease from bridge to bilges.
"I now take charge of this ship," the Russian skipper repeated. "You and your crew, you can go."
I requested him to sign a paper stating that he had received the ship Pioner and all inventory aboard in good condition. He signed the receipt with a flourish, without troubling to check on the condition of ship and gear. The same performance took place aboard the Lososi, whose new master was a Lett with a long reddish mustache. I and my crew packed our bags, and the Russians, happy with vodka, carried our luggage to the railway station, shouting and singing all the way. As we marched through the morass, Comrade Lausen marveled:
"These Russians up here look like men, but act like overgrown children. We could have sold everything movable in Kiel and Trondheim, and delivered two empty ships here, and none of ’em would have been the wiser."
My engineer spoke the truth. Already some costly nautical instruments had disappeared, and the electric range in the galley was out of order. The two hundred tons of woodpulp we had picked up in Norway, with the aid of scabs, belonged to a consign­ment needed in Leningrad. But this valuable cargo now lay on the wharf in a disconsolate heap, not even covered by tarpaulins, and cloud-banks in the sky promised rain.
For two days we camped amid a reeking crowd at the Mur­mansk station, waiting for a train to Leningrad. Trains departed twice a day, but they were so full that we could find no room aboard. And we lacked the hardiness to join the huddled bevies of voyagers atop the roofs of the coaches.
I enlisted the energetic intervention of my friend from the G.P.U., and the fifth train took us along. It included two uphol­stered cars, which were almost empty; their only passengers were three or four higher Soviet officials. The rest of the train, nearly half a mile long, was made up of box cars and "hard" coaches. Our party, of the Pioner crew, traveled in one of these coaches. Each of us occupied a sort of wooden shelf on hinges, allowing one to stretch out. On the way, the porter brought us sheets and blankets, luxuries which our mass of Russian fellow-voyagers had to do without.
The Russians all about us regarded us as if we were wondrous animals; we carried with us meat and butter in tins. When we ate, women flopped from nearby shelves and begged. The conductor drove them off, and for a while I thought we would be mobbed.
"When you sleep," he warned us, "keep on your shoes."
During our first night on the train, many articles of clothing were stolen from us while we slept. After that, I found it neces­sary to divide my crew into watches, to safeguard our poor belongings from the luckless proletarians about us, who had an urge to help themselves. More than once, in our crowded coach, a young girl accosted a German sailor, offering him a trip to the lavatory in return for a bar of sunlight soap.
Three nights we spent on the train. When we reached the outskirts of Leningrad, I distributed the rest of our provisions among several Russian families who were rich in children. One mother said to me, "God bless you." They ate the food then and there, and carefully stowed the empty tins into their bundles. A north-bound train passed us—bound for Murmansk. Firelei and I counted seventy-six cars in this train. Dense clusters of faces and bodies were visible through every window. It had little in common with the de luxe express trains on the Moscow run. It resembled, like our own train, a decrepit mule forced to carry a mountain. In the rush and clangor of the Leningrad station, we stood in file for six long hours to check what little baggage we had.
My comrades passed the time in excursions to the former Czar’s palaces, which were now museums and children’s homes. They visited the Smolny and the Red Putilov plant. Most of the time, my men went hungry; no meals were to be had before two in the afternoon, except in restaurants where a tough steak cost eighteen rubles.
Our ship, the Smolny, left Leningrad almost three days behind schedule. Before the ship steamed seaward, a detachment of G.P.U. soldiers swarmed aboard and searched most passengers to the skin.
Off Kronstadt, Engineer Lausen heaved a deep sigh. "I’d hate to be buried in this land," he said bluntly. "Wait till we have a Soviet Germany,—then we’ll show the Muscovites what efficiency in Socialism is. Those fine ships in Murmansk—all rusty and rotten . . . verflucht!"
My own faith in the Bolshevist rule and in the magic achieve­ments of the Piatiletka had been badly jolted, too, by my Mur­mansk voyage. This, my first journey in a non-political capacity to the Soviet Union, had bared to me an incongruous duality in the Socialist Fatherland. I had found, on the one hand, a studied insensibility towards human suffering, slavish fear of responsibility, vast incompetence, and a tragi-comic inefficiency. On the other hand, I well knew the deadly efficiency which prevailed in the activities of the infallible Party and G.P.U., where ruthless decisions were swift and "activism" was enthroned. It was this strange and bewildering bedfellowship of mass impotence and ruling caste omnipotence which had made Comrade Lausen burst out in despair: ". . . verflucht!"
It was a mood which lingered with me after we had left Lenin­grad. It might have eventually freed me from the Soviet obsession had not circumstances brought me back to Leningrad two months later as a commanding officer belonging to the "infallible and omnipotent" elite of Bolshevism.

After my return from Murmansk, I became a member of the inner circle guiding the Maritime Section of the Comintern. Early in September, 1931, I received an order to report to Dimitrov in Berlin. A girl courier of the Western Secretariat at once led me to an obscure coffee house in the Moabit district. After some time Dimitrov, Wollweber, several other Germans, and a Russian whom I had not met before, arrived. They came one by one, Dimitrov first sending his secretary ahead to investigate if any unwanted outsiders were around. This conference laid down a plan of action for a strike based on tactics new in the history of industrial warfare.
The Comintern planned a major blow against German shipping. On October 1, all German merchant ships were to be stopped, not only in Germany, but in all foreign ports and on the high seas as well. The pretext for this strike was a scheduled wage cut for seamen; the object was to paralyze Germany’s foreign trade with one stupendous blow. Already action committees had been created in all important harbors. A force of sixteen agents was detailed to lead the planned coup. Wireless messages were to be sent to all ships at sea which had radio operators sympathizing with com­munism. The initial blow was to be struck against German vessels in Soviet harbors, as a signal for German crews all over the world to follow suit. Wollweber and Albert Walter were put in charge of the campaign in Germany. I was assigned to lead the action in the harbors of the Scandinavian countries and the Soviet Union. Others were dispatched to direct the assault against German shipping in Holland, Belgium, France, England and the United States. A young American, Marcel Laroque, active in the Mari­time Section of the Communist Party of the United States, was made director of operations in Antwerp.
We disposed our forces according to plan. The chiefs of the communist units on all outgoing ships received their secret in­structions. Two days after the Berlin conference, I was on my way to Leningrad, stopping off en route in Copenhagen, Göteborg and Stockholm. I crossed by boat from Stockholm to Turku, and reached Leningrad by train along the south coast of Finland. A special mandate from the Western Secretariat put all func­tionaries of the Leningrad International Club at my disposal. I dispatched the head of the German Section in Leningrad, Fritz Richter, to Odessa, to take care of German ships in the Black Sea ports. I remained in Leningrad, establishing headquarters in the vicinity of the port.
Our preparations were carried out with a minimum of publicity. Quarters for striking seamen were arranged for. A squad of young women from the foreign language schools was made responsible for the entertainment of strikers to keep them away from their ships and the waterfront. A detachment of German-speaking G.P.U. agents with marine experience was put at my disposal. They were disguised to play the role of striking sailors, and assigned to prevent any German ship from bolting in the night after it had entered the harbor. The Soviet longshoremen were to de­clare a sympathy strike and refuse to work tied-up German vessels. Already Sovtorgflot had chartered sufficient additional British and Scandinavian tonnage to avoid a stoppage of Soviet export nor­mally carried in German bottoms.
At dawn, October 1, the call for strike and mutiny was broad­cast. Three German steamers were in the port of Leningrad. Com­mittees in European harbors reported that twenty-five other Ger­man ships were at sea on their way to Leningrad. German shipping, unaware of the international conspiracy against it, sailed serenely into the trap.
The German ships in Leningrad were the Anita Russ, Asta and Bolheim. I went aboard each of them with a bodyguard of three G.P.U. men, shouldered past the protesting officers, and called a meeting of the crew. I declared that the strike was on, that the German shipowners had to be taught a lesson they would never forget. The communists in each crew promptly voted in favor of joining the strike. The rest were told that they would be treated as strikebreakers if they did not join. A few rebelled. Aboard the Asta, the chief officer blocked the gangway with a gun in his hand. Gangs of Russian longshoremen, led by a G.P.U. man, now boarded the ships. The Asta officer was struck down. The rebels in the crews were bundled ashore by main force.
An hour later, I telegraphed to Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp and Rotterdam: "German crews in Leningrad strike one hundred percent. Appeal to all other crews to follow example of Leningrad mutineers."
The news was flashed around the globe. In Hamburg, Bremen, Kiel, Stettin, in Belgium and Holland, in Bordeaux, Philadelphia and Bombay, German sailors tied up their ships. Rumors of mutinies on the high seas poured in. More than a hundred crews struck. In each case the strike decision was enforced by the Party unit aboard the respective ship. Vessels which had no communists in their crews did not join the action, except in Russian ports, where the seamen were forced to abandon their ships with the help of the Soviet police.
By October 9, twenty-one German ships were held imprisoned in Leningrad harbor. By October 13, their number had increased to thirty-six. The crews of five German steamers were taken ashore in Odessa. Occasionally the officers of a ship attempted to take their craft to sea at night, leaving their crews behind. I had foreseen that. We had set up Vigilante Committees to keep watch on every quay. Runaway steamers were forced to return, and their captains were fined by the Soviet authorities for "conspiring to go to sea with undermanned ships."
The German government protested vigorously against this detention of German ships in Soviet ports, and against the mass abduction of German sailors. The Soviet government replied that the German seamen were striking of their own volition, and that it had no legal power to intervene.
Meanwhile, the seven hundred "striking" seamen in Leningrad were lavishly entertained. The picketing of their ships was done by Komsomols and the G.P.U. The daily strike meeting was really a banquet, followed by floor shows and dancing. In their own words, the German sailors "lived like lords." Most of them had acquired Russian sweethearts—"Streik-Liebchen. [47]" Excursions were arranged for them, as well as evenings at the theaters and visits to model factories and museums. Everything possible was done to keep the German workers from mingling with their Russian fellow-toilers.
On the morning of October 19, a telegram arrived from Berlin. The strike was called off! The wage cut was accepted. The seamen were to be advised to return to their ships. I was stunned. It was defeat. But why?
I learned the answer later. The Hitlerites, who had supported the strike in its early stages, had executed one of their about-fronts, and made an offer to the shipowners to man the marooned vessels with Nazis. Soon ships began to leave Hamburg manned exclusively by storm-troopers. To thwart the conquest of the merchant marine by Hitler, the Communist Party had commanded its followers to return aboard the ships. The strike was over.
Then came the aftermath. The maritime laws of the Weimar Republic had been taken over unchanged from the Kaiser’s time. Under these laws, seamen who struck on the high seas or in foreign ports were guilty of mutiny. In German ports and in the pilothouse of the Kiel Canal, special courts were set up to sentence the mutineers. The courts worked in three shifts, twenty-four hours a day. Crews who had struck abroad were met by police upon arrival in German waters. Police boarded the incoming steamers. They arrested the mutineers and brought them to court. One hundred and forty-two ringleaders who had heeded the communist call to action were sent to prison. Twenty-five of the ships which had been tied up in Leningrad became overdue. Their crews, knowing what awaited them in Germany, mutinied at sea. Fires were doused, engines disabled with sand. Lifeboats loaded with mutineers left their ships to drift helplessly on the Baltic. Government airplanes were sent out to locate the distressed vessels.
Like most communist campaigns, this one, too, left a wake of shattered hopes, broken homes, and misery for its guileless participants.
I returned to Germany aboard the Soviet steamer Kooperatzia. As soon as I set foot on German soil, I was accosted by two burly men in civilian clothes. They flashed their badges.
"Show your papers!"
"What’s the matter?"
"We’ll show you. You’re under arrest!"
They escorted me to the central jail in the heart of Hamburg.
I was photographed and fingerprinted and locked in a solitary cell. The charge brought against me by the German government was "sabotage and incitement to mutiny and rebellion."
I was not the only one who had been arrested for engineering the mass mutiny in German shipping. From information whispered by the prisoner who distributed our food, and from a constant surf of yells that came from hundreds of cell windows, I gathered that half of the great prison was filled with arrested communists. That was heartening. Detectives came to question me. They cajoled and threatened. I refused to answer. I refused to eat. I joined the chorus of yellers, and would hoist myself up on the bars to look out of the window. I did everything I could do to violate the official rules of conduct. I knew that my comrades did the same. In the face of such mass action, the jailers were bewildered and helpless. All day communist demonstrations surged outside the prison yards. I heard the singing crowd, the chorus of shouts, and the sounds of police attacks on the mass of demonstrators.
Among the prisoners were Albert Walter, Edgar André and Christian Heuck, a Reichstag deputy from Kiel. (Heuck hanged himself in 1933 shortly after his arrest by the Gestapo.) All three had been seized in violation of their constitutional immunity. The whole non-communist press, from the Nazis to the Social Democrats, demanded drastic punishment for the arrested.
Nothing happened. The investigations of the police and the courts got nowhere. The Soviet Union was at that time Germany’s best customer. The Soviet flag ranked second only to the Union Jack among the foreign shipping in German harbors. The German government realized that a prosecution of the strike leaders would inevitably incriminate and compromise the Soviet Union, and feared the consequences to the trade and political relations between Moscow and Berlin.
After nine days in jail, we all were released without further ado. We stepped out into the gray November light, dirty, unshaven, weakened by our hunger strike. Girls from the Communist Sport Clubs received us in the streets with red banners. They served Wiener sausages and beer. We celebrated our triumph. It was true that the strike had ended in defeat for the German workers; nevertheless, for the Soviet Union it was a triumph.

Chapter Twenty - THE MAN HUNTERS

TOWARD THE CLOSE OF 1931, the Maritime Section of the Comintern turned a large share of its attention to the merchant fleet of Japan. Events in Manchuria had been rushing to an unmistakable crisis. The Japanese army was on the point of seizing that country. Relations between Moscow and Tokio grew more threatening daily. The Comintern had launched a worldwide anti-Japanese campaign. Our seamen’s organization started a sabotage offensive against the transport of war supplies to Japan, and against Nippon’s merchant marine in general.
This was, to my knowledge, the first time that communist sabotage methods were put to the test on a large scale. The Comintern network was too feeble in Japan, partly because the death penalty had been decreed there for communists, to paralyze its harbors by strikes. In accordance with the general rule of "action at any price," sabotage was employed wherever strikes could not be effective.
Sand was manipulated into the bearings of the steamers’ pro­peller shafts. Cargo winches were disabled. Winch runners and hawsers were treated so that they would break when put under stress. Labels and inscriptions on boxes and crates were changed. At sea, in bad weather, ventilator shafts were turned into the wind to allow sea water to pour into the cargo holds. At night gallons of kerosene or benzine were poured through the airshafts, and a few fistfuls of kerosene-soaked oakum followed. As the weeks passed on, each Vigilante chief evolved his own set of tricks. Japanese ship guards were reinforced to no avail.
Soon evidence cropped up to show that Japanese secret service agents were busy in European ports to check the wave of sabotage acts. A Chinese language student at the Berlin University, a highly intelligent lad known in our Chinese section as "Comrade Yang," was sent to Rotterdam to take charge of our sabotage brigades in Dutch ports. In the guise of a laundryman’s runner, he personally boarded every incoming Japanese ship to investigate sabotage possibilities and to lay plans which then were executed by members of his Port Vigilante Committee and helpers in the steamer’s crew. One day Yang was overpowered by secret service agents aboard a Japanese vessel. He was kept a prisoner. The ship left Rotterdam, bound for Yokohama by way of Le Havre, Oran, Port Said. A hue and cry was raised in Comintern circles over this incident. Yang’s delivery to the police of Nippon spelled certain death for him. It also tended to demoralize the spirit of our sabotage groups everywhere. Kommissarenko gave me the assignment to do everything necessary to save Yang from the hangman in Yokohama.
I wrote an appeal for action and had it translated into seven languages under the heading, "Rescue the kidnaped Chinese coolie!" I notified our units in Le Havre, Oran, and Alexandria to leave nothing undone to help Yang escape from his floating prison. The ship meanwhile called at Le Havre. An attempt by local communists to free our Chinese comrade was foiled by the French police. The steamer proceeded to the next port of call, Oran, on the North African coast, with Yang still aboard. Kommissarenko was very angry. Others who had known the cheerful little Chinaman already considered him as good as dead. After a sleepless night I came to the conclusion that there was only one man capable of liberating Yang despite hell and high water. This man was Michel Avatin, the Lett of the S-Apparat—Espionage Defense department —of the Comintern. Avatin was in Berlin. Since he was under G.P.U. jurisdiction, I had no power to summon him.
"Give me Avatin for three weeks," I told Kommissarenko.
For a while the Russian thought it over. His calm, blond face betrayed nothing. Then he said:
"Avatin, of course. I should have thought of him before."
Avatin arrived in Hamburg late that night. He came straight to my apartment on the Schaarmarkt, and roused Firelei. I was not home. Firelei notified me of Avatin’s arrival. I hastened to meet him.
I found Michel Avatin sunk in an easy chair, sipping coffee and looking over a sheaf of drawings by Käthe Kollwitz. I was much agitated about Yang. Avatin’s presence calmed me immediately. Neither earthquake nor mass murder could disturb him in the least, it seemed. He listened to the facts as I outlined them, asked a few questions pertaining to communication, then nodded, brooded for a minute—and got up.
"Very well, comrade," he said. "I’m going to Oran."
The available time was short. Yang would arrive in Oran within four or five days. But no one in all the Comintern had Avatin’s reputation of being able to travel the greatest distance in the short­est possible time and with a minimum of effort and noise.
A week of acute suspense followed. I felt as if I were waiting for my own reprieve from execution. Finally a telegram arrived early one morning.
"All clear. M. Lambert."
"Lambert" was one of Avatin’s cover names. I was exuberant with joy. Yang was free!
Avatin flew from Hamburg to Amsterdam, from Amsterdam to Paris, from Paris to Marseilles. In Marseilles, he conscripted the services of a tested Greek G.P.U. agent named Michael. Together with Michael he traveled as stowaway to Algiers, hiding under the boilers of a Mediterranean steamer. From Algiers, the two pro­ceeded by rail to Oran. There was an International Club in Oran. Avatin mobilized the harbor "activists" and the communist units among the dockers of Oran. When the ship on which Yang was kept a prisoner arrived to take on bunker coal, Avatin was ready. He and a group of his aides were armed with axes and crowbars.
"It was as simple as stealing a horse," Michel Avatin told me later. "Our Africans have guts! I went aboard to find out where Yang was hidden. He was in a cabin way below decks, handcuffed. Our Africans stormed the ship and set little fires. While the Japs turned out to extinguish them, my ax-men broke the door and made off with Comrade Yang. I put him in a car and drove out with him into the desert till everything had quieted down."
In the Soviet secret service Avatin was an exceptional figure, and immensely popular. He never remained behind the lines while sending his men into fire. He advanced into danger with his aides, leading them on.

One of Avatin’s superiors, a lanky, taciturn and stony-faced Lett named Schmidt, had arrived in Hamburg on a special mission for the G.P.U. His arrival was surrounded by extraordinary mystery. Instead of merely slipping into the country with false papers, he was smuggled ashore at night from a Soviet vessel. Schmidt’s compatriot, Michel Avatin, came over from Berlin to meet him.
Schmidt’s mission had to do with stamping out foreign espio­nage within Soviet ranks. His task was to deliver a blow to the Auslandsabteilung, the Foreign Division of the Nazi Party. Since no one in the Comintern was better informed than I on the Nazi doings in the merchant marine, I was summoned to take part in the conferences between Schmidt and Avatin.
The Nazi Foreign Division was the organization of National Socialists outside of the German frontiers. It commanded strong columns in the United States and most South American countries, in the Balkans, and to a lesser extent in Western Europe and Scandinavia. In the Far East and in France, it co-operated with elements of the former Czarist army. The Auslandsabteilung played a dual role. Officially it endeavored to carry Nazi propaganda into the homes and offices of the thirty million Germans living abroad. Unofficially it maintained a more effective network of interna­tional military espionage than the German secret service; the results of Nazi military espionage were transmitted to the general staff and the officer corps of the Reichswehr, and was one of the chief means of widening and consolidating Nazi influence in the armed forces of the German republic. Occasional trials before German courts and convictions of many officers for Nazi agitation were never serious enough to affect this state of secret collaboration. The Nazi "points of support" (Stützpunkte) on vessels of the merchant marine formed the living and efficient link between Hitler’s units abroad and the headquarters of the Foreign Division in Hamburg. Chief of the Auslandsabteilung in 1932 was Herr Thiele, a former executive official of the North German Lloyd. Each group of nations stood under the direction of a departmental head. The heads of the departments were responsible to Thiele, and Thiele only to Hitler. Thiele disappeared in the Blood Purge of June, 1934. Wilhelm Bohle and Rudolf Hess took over the direc­tion of the Nazi Foreign Division.
It appeared that in December, 1931, the G.P.U. had discovered a member of the Nazi Party among the students of the Western University in Moscow. This spy committed suicide in the Lubianka Prison not many days later. Before he died, he had revealed to his questioners that the Hitler movement had established an information service on Soviet affairs through a chain of contact men on Soviet soil. A number of German engineers and mechanical experts were suspected of being secret members of the National Socialist Party. It was also suspected that they were co-operating with anti-Stalin forces in the industrial centers of the Soviet Union. A certain Professor Ernst Schwartz, who had an apartment in Hamburg and a house in Frohnau, a suburb in Berlin, had been designated as the chief of the Nazi espionage service in the Soviet Union. The G.P.U. sought documentary proof to warrant the ar­rest of German nationals in Russia. Comrade Schmidt had been assigned to handle the matter in Germany. He and Avatin con­cocted the following plan:
Six communists from Hamburg, who must be unknown to Berlin police, were to follow all movements of Professor Schwartz for a period of two weeks. At a given hour they would detain him, while another squad of our Espionage Defense Apparat raided the Pro­fessor’s Berlin residence and his apartment in Hamburg. All his books, files and documents were to be seized and conveyed to Hamburg to await shipment to a Soviet port by the next Russian steamer. The six shadows were supplied by Hugo Marx, the Ham­burg liaison agent of the G.P.U. My job was to see to the safe transfer of Professor Schwartz’s documents from Berlin to Ham­burg, and aboard ship. Avatin would direct the action. Schmidt would remain the guiding spirit in the background.
All I knew of the conspiracy was what Michel Avatin and Com­rade Schmidt deemed necessary for me-to know, no more. Each of us proceeded separately to Berlin, where we met in a communist restaurant on Hedemannstrasse. While our operatives spread their net around Professor Schwartz, I took quarters in a hut belonging to Laubenkolonie—a colony of cottages and small gardens—out­side of Berlin, known as Felseneck. Situated between the capital and the suburban town of Reinickendorf, it contained less than a hundred cottages, and was more a secret camp of the communist military organization than a community of gardeners. The country surrounding Felseneck was rather lonely and undeveloped, despite the nearness of newly erected apartment blocks at the edge off Berlin-Schönau. Ill-kept hedges, fences, piles of debris and gar­bage heaps added to the inhospitality of the place. This was im­portant, for the Felseneck colony contained several houses which served as guard-stations for the German G.P.U. Here I awaited the delivery of the documentary loot from Professor Schwartz’ villa.

The material which Avatin’s aides gathered about Professor Schwartz showed that he had headed the intelligence bureau at­tached to the headquarters of Captain Röhm, the supreme chief of the storm-troops. When the Foreign Division of the Nazi Party was established in the spring of 1931, Schwartz, who knew Russia from World War service, had been assigned to a special section dealing with Soviet affairs. If it was true that he was in charge of numerous Russian contacts, a raid on his archives could possibly lead to the extermination of all Nazi agents in the Soviet Union. Schwartz was fifty-four years old. His official rank was that of a storm-troop leader. To camouflage the real nature of his activities, he posed as a portrait painter. Where and when he had obtained the title of professor remained a mystery.
Avatin’s crew struck on the evening of January 18. Professor Schwartz was lured away from his Frohnau residence by a faked call from the office of Dr. Joseph Göbbels, who was then the chieftain of the Nazi Party in the Berlin district. The caller was a G.P.U. man. While Schwartz was away, G.P.U. men raided his villa, tying up the Professor’s wife and two servants, and escaping with two trunks full of material taken from his files. The trunks were first brought to 34 Choriner Strasse, a communist relay station in the north of Berlin.
But if the G.P.U. had its spies inside the Hitler movement, so did the Nazi Party’s secret police chiefs —Heinrich Himmler and one Diels—have their agents in the communist organizations. A flying squad of storm-troopers swooped down unexpectedly on the house at 34 Choriner Strasse. But the loot taken from Professor Schwartz’s home was then already on its way to the Felseneck colony. The Brownshirts stormed the relay station on Choriner Strasse with guns in their hands. Red Front guards on duty in the house replied with fire. Four of the Nazi raiders were shot before the police arrived.
Nazi headquarters was informed through some spy in communist ranks that Professor Schwartz’s archives were being rushed to a hiding place in Felseneck. Ernst Schwartz himself sped to a road­house named Waidmannslust, [48] which was a storm-trooper’s strong­hold an hour’s marching distance from Felseneck. He put himself at the head of a force of armed Brownshirts, and moved post-haste against the communist colony.
While all this was going on, I sat serenely in a cottage by a pot-bellied stove, discussing with comrades the general political situa­tion, and waiting for the load of papers to take to Hamburg. The two trunks containing the filched documents never arrived, how­ever, in Felseneck colony. They were lost without trace in the vastness of the Berlin suburbs. The two comrades who drove the hired car which carried the trunks were never heard of again. It was later learned that they had lost their nerve and deserted.
A courier burst in upon us. Breathlessly he reported that a col­umn of two hundred armed Nazis was invading Felseneck. I rose to investigate, and to find the leaders of the colony. It was too late. From far and near came the alarm shouts of the Red Front guards. It was one o’clock, and the night was dark. Lights sprung up in the shacks. Those who had guns spread out in skirmish line through the gardens. Yells, the sound of crashing wood and splintering glass were heard. The storm-troopers, advancing slowly, demol­ished and ransacked every hut, beginning at the periphery of the colony and working their way toward the center. Rocks flew through windows. Doors were kicked in. The night was filled with roars and the crackling of pistol fire.
I was not armed. I knew of nothing better to do than to crouch behind a fence and wait, a broken brick in each fist. From the lanes, from shattered windows, from behind the fences and the naked hedges pistols shot tongues of flame. The shooting was wild. The confusion was great. At times it was impossible to discern who was friend and who was foe, for the storm-troopers wore no uniforms and carried no insignia. Storm troopers invaded a cottage twenty yards away. Its occupant, a young worker named Fritz Klemke, darted out of the door. A second later I heard him shriek through the barking guns. He died quickly.
I saw men and women running in the night. I ran with them. Searchlights blazed up on both sides of the colony. There was the shrill twittering of police trucks and the heavy cracking of service revolvers. Police were closing in, but the lorries could not get through the narrow lanes of the colony. Attackers and defenders alike scattered in the darkness. In the cold, dim light of the morning I reached the Tiergarten, miles away from the scene of the massa­cre. I wandered through the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate. The streets were empty. I found a restaurant open, and ordered coffee. It had never tasted better to me.
Later in the day I went in search of Avatin. I was told that he had gone to Essen, in Western Germany. Schmidt also decamped. The newspapers were making a terrible noise about the Felseneck affair. Two policemen had been among the victims of the affray. The Berlin police arrested fifty-four storm-troopers and twelve communists, and a big inquiry was on. I fled to Hamburg.
The police found clues linking the Felseneck massacre to communist operations in Hamburg. Police Commissioner Braschwitz of the political police in Berlin, made a special trip to Hamburg to question Edgar André, the chief of the Red Front Fighters, but to no avail. Incidentally, Braschwitz later joined the Nazis and became one of the chiefs of the Gestapo.
Professor Schwartz was found dead on the doorstep of a Felse­neck cottage. The wall of the cottage, owned by a communist named Hohmann, showed thirty-odd bullet marks. According to the police report, Schwartz had been stabbed in the back "with an unusually long knife."
To avenge the murder of Professor Schwartz, the storm-troop formations among the students of the Berlin University launched a murderous attack on the members of the communist student units. The latter called for reinforcements. The fighting became so vio­lent that the police closed the university "until further notice."
The S-Apparat of the Party had discovered the identity of Himmler’s spy in the Felseneck colony. He was a twenty-one-year-old youth named Bernhard Wittkowsky. Shortly afterwards his body was found on the outskirts of Berlin, his head bashed in. In the distant city of Essen another Nazi spy, Arnold Guse, was located and assassinated the following day.
Hitler offered publicly a reward of five hundred marks for the disclosure of the names of the G.P.U. killers. It brought no results.
When I saw Avatin again at the end of January, he seemed un­changed. We talked about the failure of the Berlin expedition and the death of the Nazis.
"Who did it?" I asked abruptly.
Avatin gave me a quick glance. "Does it matter?" he replied. "They were bitter enemies of the proletariat."

When the hue and cry over the Felseneck massacre had died down, Schmidt tackled his next assignment. It seemed that the British espionage forces had secured a foothold among the crews of Russian vessels. The British secret service employed for this pur­pose agents connected with the foreign branches of the bitterly anti-Bolshevik British National Union of Seamen. In Hamburg, the agent who cultivated contacts in the Soviet merchant marine was a certain Andersen, a Scandinavian of cunning and ability. Comrade Schmidt was sent from Moscow to carry out a major operation on Mr. Andersen. A squad of German communists was assigned to assist Schmidt in his undertaking. They dogged every step Mr. Andersen was taking. They burglarized his offices on the Schaarsteinweg (only a few houses away from the maritime head­quarters of the Nazis, the Stellahaus) and found a way of inter­cepting Andersen’s mail.
This brought certain results. There was a reshuffling of the crews of seven or eight Soviet steamers, and a few Russians who had been popular figures in the International Club disappeared. In February, 1932, arrangements were made to abduct Mr. Andersen and take him to the Soviet Union aboard a Russian vessel. From Schmidt, whose brooding eyes always seemed to be searching the floor in front of his feet, and Herrmann Schubert, Reichstag dep­uty and Hamburg Party chief, I received the order to put ten reliable men from my Apparat at the disposal of Karl Stevens, known as "Punch." Stevens was one of the most ruthless function­aries in the Espionage Defense department. Stevens and his crew of ten were to seize Mr. Andersen.
But Andersen had been informed by his own spies of what was afoot. When Stevens and his raiders burst into Andersen’s office early one morning, they were met by a mob of British seamen armed with clubs and brass knuckles. A fierce hand-to-hand fight ensued. The office was demolished and Mr. Andersen lay under a table with a broken skull. The police arrived and the raiders were obliged to scatter and flee. Mr. Andersen, after a sojourn in the hospital, returned to England. In retaliation, a strong band of armed men raided the International Club in Hamburg. They came at night, at a time when the Club was crowded with seamen of many nations. and their girls. Next morning, I counted some two hundred chairs the legs of which had been broken off by the men who had used them as weapons against the assailants. As usual, the police arrived after the fracas had ended, and their questioning was only a perfunctory gathering of material for an official report.
Shortly afterward newspapers, reporting the assault on Andersen, characterized the International Club in Hamburg as a "den of assassins."
"Punch" Stevens vanished from the Hamburg waterfront to evade apprehension by police for another crime. Years later, while I was in a Nazi prison, I learned from fellow-prisoners that in the spring of 1934 a Gestapo agent had recognized Stevens wearing a storm-trooper’s uniform. He was seized and questioned. Under torture, Stevens admitted that he had joined the Nazi formations as a G.P.U. assignment. Three months later the Sondergericht—the Special Tribunal—condemned him to life imprisonment. For all that, he was more fortunate than his chief, Herrmann Schubert, one of the pillars of German communism, who fled to Russia, where he became a professor at the Lenin School. Together with many other prominent communist exiles, Comrade Schubert was executed in the dungeons of the G.P.U. during Stalin’s great purge.

During the first six months of 1932 four abductions over the sea route were carried out by the German Apparat of the G.P.U. in Hamburg. The fate of one of the four victims touched me to the quick. The long arm of Stalin reached my friend, the Ukrainian Bandura, whom I had learned to like and respect in the days when he was the chief of the waterfront agitators in Antwerp.
Bandura, who had joined the Communist Party because he loved the rebels of the waterfront as if they were his own children, cut a most pathetic figure in Hamburg where he had been transferred. Eternally cadaverous and in rags, abused and imposed on by the "100% Stalinists" in the organization, he was nevertheless loyal and dauntless in the defense of seamen’s interests. For all his devo­tion, he was treated as an outcast, under suspicion of nursing heretical "syndicalist tendencies" in the Party.
Bandura was bitterly unhappy. Since his early youth, he had known no other life than that of a class-war fighter. More and more he took to drink, which he procured from the French ships where he had successfully built up a number of units.
"I live in a reeking bilge, no one understands me," he blurted out one day, despair spread all over his wasted face. "Everyone who was good to me, I lost,—my wife, my friends, my children—everybody! everybody!" The intensity of his despair shook me. "What is it that you people want me to do? Please tell me that!" he roared piteously. I could not help him. Only those who know the communist method of completely isolating one suspected of heresy will understand Bandura’s position. It is a deadly method. It is like depriving a fish of water, yet keeping it alive to suffer.
A strange friendship came into being between Bandura and Firelei. It began on a day early in February, when Firelei and I had married. Her parents, realizing that no force at their command could part us, had adopted a conciliatory attitude and given her sufficient money to establish a cheerful home. We had rushed through the marriage ceremony in Hamburg, and from there we had hastened into the harbor to attend a conference aboard a Soviet vessel. Bandura had been there, and so was an official representative of the Russian trade unions who, jealous of Bandura’s popularity among Soviet seamen, had launched a savage campaign to discredit the Ukrainian. Firelei’s inborn sense of justice had prompted her to defend Bandura, and from that day on the shaggy wanderer had shown her the attachment of a loyal dog.
One day Firelei said to him, "Comrade Bandura, come home with me, you need a bath and a good meal." The unkempt old warrior had meekly trotted away behind her. Since then I met him often in our apartment. Bandura would come to relax and gather hope. Sipping coffee, he would say to Firelei: "Say something."
"What should I talk about?" Firelei would ask.
"It does not matter," Bandura would grumble. "Speak of the birds. Speak of the trees. Speak of the child that is to come. Just speak for me."
Firelei was with child. When I saw him together with Firelei I thought of a battered, broken old oak in the company of a graceful young birch. She admired Bandura for his knowledge of life and for the superb human qualities which lived under his derelict ex­terior. Firelei would speak for a while, and then Bandura would talk, talk for an hour or more. He would talk about life. About the dreams of his youth. About beauty no prison or hardship could break. About the rivers along which he had traveled. But he never talked politics when he was with Firelei. When Bandura left her, he would say:
"Your son, I shall love him! I am not poor now, I am rich!"
"Comrade Bandura should never have become a revolutionist," Firelei said to me.
"Why not?"
"As a boy he wanted to be a gardener. If the Great War had not smashed into his life, he’d be a wise old gardener by now." Off and on I had received reports from our harbor "activists" that they had encountered Bandura on Russian ships in the harbor, and ashore in the music dens of St. Pauli in the company of Soviet sailors. Bandura had no business to take him to Russian vessels. He was the head of the "activist" columns which covered steamers under the flags of France, Yugoslavia and Greece. Persons visiting Soviet ships were required to have a pass issued by the Soviet consul general. Bandura had no such permit. "What of it?" I thought. "Bandura is a Slav, he craves the company of his countrymen."
There exists an agreement between the G.P.U. and the Comintern representatives in the various ports which provides that Soviet seamen in harbors outside of Russia should get little opportunity to cruise around at will amid "capitalist" surroundings. The enticement of such surroundings had often enough resulted in the desertion of Russian sailors, especially of those who were not confirmed communists. Soviet ships in foreign ports were under the constant supervision not only of their own leading committees and suspicious shoreside police, but also of the local Communist Vigilantes. The official reason given for this supervision was to prevent sabotage by anti-Stalinist elements. The real reason was to impress Soviet mariners with the fact that the G.P.U. is everywhere. The head of this protective squad in Hamburg was Hugo Marx, the pale-faced and vain G.P.U. fox, who had entered my life in the stormy months of 1923. Aside from his function as head of the Vigilantes, Hugo Marx held the job of foreman in the communist stevedoring firm known as Stauerei Einheit [49], which chiefly loaded and discharged Soviet steamers. One morning Hugo Marx appeared unannounced in my office, locked the door, glanced swiftly over his shoulder, and hissed peremptorily:
"We’ll have to drop Bandura."
"Why so?"
"We’ve watched him closely. He’s been giving us trouble for years. Who knows if he’s not in the pay of Trotsky?"
I scoffed: "If Bandura is a Trotskyist, then I’m a Christian Scientist."
Hugo Marx produced a list of names of Russian ships.
"Here are the ships on which Bandura agitated against the Soviet government in the last twelve months," he buzzed. "I’m in possession of written reports from each of these ships."
"What’s his line of agitation?" I demanded.
"His line is that the Bolshevist Party under Stalin has made itself independent of the Russian proletariat. Here are his exact words: ’Democratic centralism has become bureaucratic centrism. You have no socialism in Russia, but dictatorship of a counter-revolutionary gang of eunuchs. Stalin must go before the workers’ power can be resurrected.’ Now, what about that, I ask you?"
I was silent. These were no trumped-up charges. Bandura was well-informed on what was happening in the Soviet Union. Bandura, despite his homelessness, was a peasant. He knew the significance of man-made famines. He knew what the G.P.U. troops were then doing to the peasants in the Ukraine. And so, Bandura, the rebel, struck back as best he could.
"Bandura tells the Russian seamen that the workers in other countries hate Stalin," Hugo Marx continued. "One of the sailors on the Krasny Profintern objected. He told Bandura he’s read in Pravda that Comrade Stalin was beloved and trusted by the world proletariat. What do you think Bandura said to that? ’Pravda lies, no one loves Stalin,’ that was his answer."
"Well, what are you going to do? Expel him from the Party?"
"No. We’re going to send him away."
"To the Soviet Union?"
"It depends on what we can arrange. It is for Berlin to decide. The comrades at the bottom must know nothing. To them it must be explained that Bandura has been sent on a mission to Poland."
Hugo Marx departed. A day later I saw Bandura.
"Comrade Bandura," I told him, "I know you can keep a secret."
Bandura was half drunk. He had just returned from a tour of the French ships in the harbor. He pointed to his heart. "Many great secrets are locked here," he said. "They are safe with Bandura."
"The G.P.U. has reports on your talks with men on Russian steamers," I said. "They do not like it. You had better disappear. Go to Rotterdam or Marseilles or anywhere."
Bandura laughed. "You want to get rid of me?"
"I speak in earnest. I am giving you warning."
"The G.P.U. has the same odor as the killers of Karl Liebknecht," Bandura grumbled. "They are the traitors, not I."
"All the same, they have power."
"And I have faith, comrade. I had faith before you were born. Where is your wife?"
"Firelei?"
"I want to see her."
"You cannot."
"I understand," the Ukrainian said with cutting derision. "I am a man who spreads the pest. I believe in liberty. You believe in howling with the pack. Good-by. Tell your wife that I thank her much for her kindness."
"Take care no one sees you when you leave."
Bandura did not leave Hamburg. He was seized by G.P.U. men, and kept for nine days in a secret detention place, at 19 Kohlhofen. In. the first days of June, 1932, in the middle of a mild summer night, he was escorted aboard the Dnepr. Bandura offered no resistance. The Dnepr sailed for Leningrad. Bandura was one of the first in the legion of foreign communists exiled to the Solovietzky Islands in the White Sea, the isles of "tears that turn to ice."
"What has happened to Comrade Bandura?" the "activists" of Hamburg asked more than once after his disappearance.
"He has been sent to Gdynia," was the answer.
And three weeks later another legend was let loose. It ran: "Comrade Bandura has been arrested by Polish police in Gdynia."
In the torrent of events, the fighting Ukrainian was quickly forgotten.
Three other men were abducted and put on the road to Leningrad during the first half of 1932. They were spirited out of Hamburg aboard the Soviet steamers Alexey Rykov and Rosa Luxemburg. All these kidnappings were carried out under the eyes of the German authorities, without arousing the slightest suspicion. By this time the underground G.P.U. network had grown so widespread and efficient abroad that it functioned like a veritable empire within empire on several continents.
One of the three victims had been a member of the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin. He had stolen a substantial sum of money and decamped to Cologne, where he attempted to establish himself as an exporter of toys. He was seized in Cologne by Michel Avatin and his aides, and brought back to Berlin. There a "proletarian court," composed of two G.P.U. officials and two members of the communist unit of the Soviet Trade Mission staff, ruled that he be returned to Russia. Under G.P.U. guard, he was brought to Hamburg, a pudgy, dejected-looking man with horn-rimmed glasses. To prevent him from committing suicide, he was kept day and night in irons. One of the crew of the Soviet freighter Rosa Luxemburg was instructed to "disappear" in Hamburg, and the luckless embezzler from Berlin was then registered in his place as a regular member of the crew. He was never heard of again, and it was taken for granted that he was shot in Soviet Russia.
The two other involuntary passengers to Russia were Italians. Mussolini’s political police, the Ovra, was very active in Germany and Austria. Almost every Italian consulate had a political spy attached to it. One of the two was seized by the G.P.U. in Vienna, where he had played the role of an anti-Fascist officer of the Milan garrison. He had described himself as a fugitive from the Ovra, and a member of the outlawed Communist Party of Italy. His real job was to spy on the transports of communist propaganda, printed in Vienna and in the Italian language, being smuggled across the Alpine frontier to Italy. He was paid two thousand liras for each seizure of such a clandestine transport. He arrived in Hamburg, in G.P.U. custody, more dead than alive, and was shipped to Leningrad aboard the Alexey Rykov.
The second victim was an Italian spy attached to the consulate in Hamburg. He appeared in my office about May 20, 1932, posing as a communist who had broken out of a jail in Turin. He carried newspaper clippings to prove his story, and volunteered to work in the Italian section of the International Club in Hamburg, which was very active at the time. Supplied with a special subsidy, it published a newspaper and pamphlets which were smuggled into Italy aboard Italian ships. Among the Italian vessels trading with North European ports there was not one which did not have a communist cell among its crew. The spy’s task was to ferret out the names of these contact men, so that the Ovra could arrest them when they arrived in Italian ports.
I did not suspect the newcomer of being a spy. He made a good impression and talked liked a trained communist. In an international shipping center like Hamburg political refugees arrived almost every day, some along the highways, others as stowaways. When I notified the Party’s Espionage Defense Apparat to investigate the record of the new arrival, I merely adhered to our accepted routine. Every newcomer who could not produce official Party credentials was kept under surveillance until we were convinced of his trustworthiness. It was purely a measure of self-preservation.
The Italian was assigned to quarters with a family of Party members. When he went into the harbor, he was shadowed by our Vigilantes. A girl from the Young Communist League was assigned to cultivate his friendship. I took care not to assign him to Italian ships. He spoke French, and was detailed for a test period to the French section.
The Italian’s name was Giacomo Bianchi. At first he displayed none of the faults and mistakes committed by the run of spies. No compromising material was hidden in his room. He abstained from asking questions not pertaining to his allotted duties. He spent no more money than his meager weekly allowance paid by the French section. He received no mail and wrote no letters. Nevertheless, he betrayed himself. I was about to call off his surveillance and accept him as a reliable member of our circle, when Hugo Marx appeared like a ghost and whispered, "Better be careful."
"Have you found anything?" I asked.
Marx nodded. The night before, a crew of Italian sailors had attended one of the political dances at the International Club. Giacomo Bianchi had also been there, talking to French seamen. The Italians had been treated with beer by a group of Russians and had enjoyed themselves hugely. But by no gesture or word had Giacomo betrayed that he was aware of the presence of his anti-Fascists compatriots.
"This is suspicious," Hugo Marx whispered. "Giacomo is a spy. Were he not a spy, he would have talked with his fellow-Italians. To hide the fact that he is a spy, he avoided talking to them in the presence of others."
Our surveillance of Giacomo was tightened. One night, in bed with the girl from the Young Communist League, he promised to take her on a tour to Italy. She had assented, snuggled closer and prodded him to tell more. "I have influential connections," Giacomo had hinted mysteriously. Next morning we had the report. A few days later Giacomo was shadowed to a restaurant where he had supper with a stranger. The stranger was trailed to the Italian consulate quarters. A day later this stranger was photographed by one of Hugo Marx’s helpers. The photograph was put into the girl’s handbag. The next night, while she sat with Giacomo in the restaurant of the International Club, the girl drew out the photograph. Showing it to Giacomo, she said: "We have caught an Italian informer. He has given us a list of his assistants. Let’s rejoice!"
Giacomo did not wait. He excused himself and hurried away. Two agents of the G.P.U. caught him in his room while he was hastily packing his belongings.
The spy was almost tortured to death in the beer storage cellar of the International Club. The torture was administered by the members of the Italian section. They had a ferocious hatred for Ovra informers, and wanted to kill him as painfully as possible. He was beaten between the legs until he gave away all he knew about the Ovra activities in Germany. After that, it was impossible for the G.P.U. to release him. He would have informed the police and warned his fellow-spies. But for my intervention, the Italians would have murdered him on the spot. It would not do to have a corpse on the premises. Giacomo was removed to 19 Kohlhofen, the secret prison of the G.P.U. in Hamburg. I did not see him again. After some weeks, he was transported to the Soviet Union aboard the Alexey Rykov. Not even the girl who had been his mistress knew what had become of him. She was told that Giacomo had escaped to Holland.

Chapter Twenty-one - STALIN OVER THE SEVEN SEAS

STALIN’S POWER ON THE SEVEN SEAS had developed by 1932 into a vast maze of imposing facades and underground passages. This far-flung dominion waged propaganda campaigns, maintained numerous smuggling rings, ran schools for agitators and wreckers, initiated mass strikes, organized mass sabotage, instigated naval mutinies, engaged in various forms of espionage, carried out assassinations, employed crews of expert kidnapers, and operated prison ships disguised as merchantmen.
Control of the marine industries of all capitalist countries was always regarded in Moscow as of foremost strategic importance. To be able to paralyze at will international ocean and river traffic was deemed vital to the defense of the Soviet Union. Ever since the conference of the Comintern’s Maritime Section, held in Moscow in 1930, which I had attended, an ostensibly independent international body had been functioning among the waterfront workers of the world. It went under the name of the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers—ISH for short, but was in reality a masked continuation of the Comintern’s Maritime Section. Like the Comintern and the Profintern, ISH was designated to appear as a sovereign, self-governing organization. To make its camouflage more effective, its headquarters was established not in Moscow, but in Hamburg, at 8 Rothesoodstrasse.
The chief of the ISH was Albert Walter. He received a monthly subsidy of $52,000 for international waterfront activities. The source of this money was Sovtorgflot, the Soviet Shipping Trust, which deducted it from the wages of Soviet seamen and longshoremen.
I had been nominated in August, 1931, by Georgi Dimitrov to the Political Bureau of the ISH, and was attached to its headquarters. My salary was $200 a month. From this vantage point, I became intimately conversant with every major communist activity in international shipping.
The operations of the ISH comprised three distinctive fields: (1) revolutionary action, (2) communications between the Mos­cow-Berlin centers and the rest of the world, (3) marine espionage.
The campaign among ships’ officers was only a small fraction of the assignments put on my shoulders shortly after my arrival at the Hamburg headquarters. In the Comintern, the life-juices of men are burned out at an appalling rate. The curse of overwork and suffocation in the ocean of detail was on all of us. Functionaries staggered under a dozen, and more, tasks. Protests were of no avail. We used to joke: "A bourgeois consists of flesh and bone; a communist consists of functions."
The ISH possessed organizations in twenty-two countries and nineteen colonies. Aside from its stationary functionaries, the ISH employed a corps of fifteen "political instructors" who were constantly on the road, each of them responsible for the smooth functioning of the communist waterfront Apparat in his territory— the Levant, the West Indies, the U. S. A. and Canada, the Scandinavian countries, etc. The ISH operated forty-seven International Clubs in as many different ports. Its central publication, the ISH-Bulletin, was issued in thirteen languages, printed in Hamburg, and dispatched from there to Red waterfront organizers all over the world. Of the total monthly budget, only about $8,000 went to pay for the maintenance of ISH headquarters and field staff. The remaining $44,000 was sent abroad as subsidies to the organizations affiliated with the ISH.
To countries which tolerated Communist Parties within their frontiers, the subsidies were usually sent by cable to neutral cover addresses or spurious business firms; to countries where the Communist Party was forced to exist illegally, subsidies were conveyed by the Comintern’s maritime courier system. Later, however, the stringent laws prohibiting the export of currency in a large number of countries forced us to abandon use of the cables for money transfers. Couriers serving in the crews of vessels and communists serving as employees on international trains became more and more the carriers of confidential Comintern mail. Banks, for obvious reasons, were almost never used for the transmission of funds. Utmost care was exercised to avoid all incriminating contacts between the communist Apparat and the official diplomatic agencies of the Soviet Union.
In the United States, recipients of these communist waterfront subsidies were, from 1930 to 1933, George Mink, and subsequently Roy ("Horseface") Hudson. The addresses to which this writer dispatched funds were 140 Broad Street, and Box 13, Station O, both in New York City. These subsidies included allowances for the Marine Workers’ Voice, for the maintenance of International Clubs, for wages of organizers, for the support of a special communist group in the Panama Canal Zone, and for communist activities in the U. S. Navy and Coast Guard. George Mink later became one of the chief G.P.U. international operatives; Roy Hudson became a member of the Central Executive Committee of the American Communist Party.
During this period, while serving as a member of the executive of the ISH, I came in contact with several American communists. Some of them worked under my personal direction. Two were destined to rise high in Stalin’s favor. They were George Mink, of G.P.U. fame, and James W. Ford, the negro who became the Communist Party’s perennial candidate for Vice President of the United States. We regarded Ford as a careerist, of no great courage and even less industry, but possessing an uncanny knack of wheedling close to those in charge of budgets. Very dark of skin, inclining to corpulence, soft-spoken and well-dressed, Comrade Ford went about his duties in a quiet diplomatic manner, displaying considerable ability for unobtrusive political intrigue.
In 1930, James Ford was appointed to the post of secretary-general of the International Committee of Negro Workers, with headquarters in Hamburg, selected because of its excellent shipping connections with the West Indies and the shores of Africa. Ford’s office was located in the building of the Hamburg International Club. He was supplied with secret quarters, a monthly subsidy from Moscow, and a young mistress who, incidentally, was also a member of the G.P.U. Negro agents from the Moscow school were dispatched to Britain, Jamaica, the United States, and to South Africa. James Ford’s organization—referred to in short as the Negerkomitee—flourished. Countless manifestoes, brochures and a monthly magazine, the "Negro Worker," came off the Communist Party presses in Hamburg, and found their way to all parts of the world inhabited by negroes. Since the contents of the "Negro Worker" were very inflammatory, the greater portion of each edition had to be smuggled to its destinations by the maritime couriers of my Apparat. All agitation and organization efforts of the Negerkomitee were directed toward inciting the colonials to strikes and rebellion, particularly in the British possessions. But the least active in these machinations was James Ford himself. He was too much of an intellectual to be a revolutionary "activist," and he detested danger. A political instructor from Moscow, a Pole named "Adolf," once said to me, "This Ford is an expensive parade-horse. He swallows too much money and he sleeps too much."
Albert Walter raged. "Let’s get rid of this fraud, let’s chase him back to America," he proposed to Moscow.
"Ford must stay for representative purposes. He is a good speaker," Losovsky wired back.
The end came suddenly. A large batch of copies of the "Negro Worker" had been smuggled to Durban and Capetown. There was much unrest and some violence among the dockers in South African ports. The British Secret Service traced the seditious "Negro Worker" to Hamburg. The Colonial Office in London lodged a protest with the German government, accusing it of sheltering instigators of uprisings in the British Empire. A police raid on our Hamburg headquarters was the result. Fearing arrest, James Ford rushed out of the building, jumped on a bicycle, and attempted to speed away to safety. The attempt was futile and ridiculous. In a North German town like Hamburg, no negro could make himself more conspicuous than by racing off on a bicycle with policemen in pursuit. In Comintern service, to become conspicuous means to become useless for conspirative work. Ford was summarily relieved of his international functions. But Losovsky saved Ford. Ford packed his bags and vanished. A more efficient colleague, one George Padmore, arrived from Moscow to take charge of the Negro Committee. After a short period of "exile" in Moscow, Ford returned to America where the communist press hailed him as "the great negro leader."
Of an altogether different stripe from Ford was his fellow-countryman, George Mink, also destined to become a special favorite of the Kremlin—in other and more perilous fields. He appeared in Germany in the latter part of 1931, when I met him in the ante-chamber of Dimitrov’s establishment, the Führer Verlag, in Berlin. He was an unusual type of man, young, dapper, with slightly Jewish features and full of watchful, cynical arrogance. He was rather short, but strongly built. His mouth was small and cruel, his teeth irregular, and his eyes, of a greenish-brown color, had a faint wild-animal glint. Yet to an uncritical eye Mink appeared as a nondescript mediocrity. On the occasion of our meeting, he received a considerable sum of money—several thousand dollars—in American currency for waterfront activities in the United States. The money was paid to him by Fritz Heckert, Reichstag deputy and treasurer of the Western Secretariat of the Comintern.
"Who is this fellow?" I asked.
"A gangster from New York," Heckert answered jocularly. "Better go with him on the same train. He’s also going to Hamburg to take a boat for the United States. Mink likes the girls, and he’s got a lot of money with him."
Soon Mink and I sat snugly in a compartment of the Berlin-Hamburg express. We were alone. Mink produced a bottle of French cognac and a sheaf of lewd photographs. "The tarts like such pictures," he explained. "One look, and they fall on their backs." We drank cognac and talked. Mink knew that I was a member of the ISH executive. He wanted to make a good impression. So he boasted of his exploits.
He had joined the Communist Party in 1926 in Philadelphia, where he had worked as a taxi driver. As a sideline, he went marauding on the docks. His chest swelled with pride when he mentioned that his cronies had dubbed him "Mink, the harbor pirate." He had come to the conclusion that the life of a professional communist would appeal to him. He moved to New York in 1927 and on his own, wrote confidential reports and offered his services to Losovsky in Moscow. His energy and his lack of scruples, coupled with his experience as a "harbor pirate," qualified him for an appointment to bring American shipping under the Comintern banner. He organized the first International Clubs on the American seaboard. He was called to Moscow in 1928, agreed to spy for the G.P.U. on fellow-communists suspected of unreliability, and won the patronage of Losovsky to whom Mink claimed to be distantly related. Supplied with a false passport, funds and special powers, George Mink toured the United States, Mexico and other Latin American countries. From 1930 on, however, Mink was more often in Berlin, Hamburg and Moscow than in New York. Officially, he was engaged in revolutionary trade union work; secretly, he had become part and parcel of the Counter-Espionage Apparat of the G.P.U.
Early in 1932, following a secret radio message, the officers of the Hamburg-America liner Milwaukee raided certain cabins aboard their ship, which was at the time on the high seas, bound to Hamburg from New York. The occupants of the raided quarters were three G.P.U. couriers serving as stewards on the Milwaukee. They were Ferdinand Barth, Camillo F., and Carl R. Typed reports, photostats, code messages, blueprints and photographs—the whole haul of one month’s industrial spying in America—was discovered hidden in their mattresses. The three couriers were put in irons and later surrendered to police for questioning. One of the comrades in the Hamburg Apparat who was responsible for the safe conduct of such espionage matter resigned from the Party a few days later. But G.P.U. men in possession of organizational secrets are never permitted to resign. This comrade, a young technician named Hans Wissinger, was requested to go to the Soviet Union. Prizing his freedom, he refused. The chiefs of the S-Apparat then decided to do away with Wissinger. Among the men assigned to carry out this mission were Hugo Marx and George Mink. Marx and Mink were birds of a feather.
The executioners did not bother to inquire into Wissinger’s guilt or innocence. On May 22, at dawn, Hans Wissinger was found shot to death in his bed in his apartment on the Mülenstrasse. In the International Club, which was only a few doors from the scene of the murder, the killing of Wissinger created a considerable stir. He had been well known to the Hamburg "activist" corps. Albert Walter angrily demanded to know who had been indiscreet and foolhardy enough to carry out a "liquidation" within a stone’s throw of the official ISH building. He summoned Hugo Marx.
"Ask George Mink," Hugo Marx answered drily.
The communist press, to avoid a scandal, attributed the killing of Wissinger to Nazi terrorists. Later that day I found George Mink at the International Seamen’s Congress, which was then in session in Hamburg. He sat in the adjoining restaurant, drunk and singing, surrounded by a flock of female Party stenographers. I accosted Mink:
"Did you know Wissinger?"
"What about him?" he demanded.
"Perhaps he was innocent," I said. "Perhaps you have made a mistake."
Mink gave the standard G.P.U. answer: "We never make mistakes! We never strike at innocent men!"

Among the crowd of international Bolsheviks which populated Hamburg in the early thirties, George Mink was hated and despised. Even his own compatriots openly regarded Mink as a gangster. Albert Walter referred to him as the "cut-throat from the Bowery." Later in 1932, during an outbreak of factional strife between Ernst Thälmann and the ISH chief, Mink was charged by the Berlin G.P.U. office with collecting damaging material against Comrade Walter.
Sailors are a rough tribe. One morning men from Albert Walter’s bodyguard seized George Mink and searched him. Hidden in his pocket they found a miniature camera. Since the carrying of photographic paraphernalia in communist offices of international importance is strictly forbidden, Albert Walter was informed of the find.
The old sailor raged. "Beat him up," he ordered. "Trounce him!"
That was music to the ears of the Hamburg comrades. They hauled George Mink over a table and flogged him. Then they threw him down the stairway.
In the meantime Mink had vanished from my horizon. In 1935, when I was a prisoner of the Gestapo, I was questioned about him. I learned then that he had been arrested in Copenhagen where the central offices of the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. had been moved upon Hitler’s advent to power. One night at the end of May, 1935 a chambermaid in the Hotel Nordland in Copenhagen was heard yelling for help. Other employees of the hotel rushed into the room and found one of their guests—George Mink—attempting to rape the maid. Mink was turned over to the Copenhagen police. He was charged with an offense against public decency. But when detectives searched his room they found secret codes, cyphered addresses, false passports and three thousand American dollars of doubtful origin. George Mink and several of his associates were seized and charged with espionage in behalf of the Soviet Union. On July 30, 1935, in a trial held behind closed doors, Mink was sentenced to eighteen months in prison.
After his release, George Mink went to Moscow. Only Losovsky’s powerful influence saved him from being permanently shelved for his imprudent behavior in Copenhagen. The G.P.U. supplied him with a passport in the name of "Alfred Hertz," and dispatched him to Barcelona. Mink did not fight in the front lines against the advancing armies of General Franco. He operated in the safe hinterland. His apartment in the Hotel Continental became the breeding-place of many of the murderous G.P.U. night raids on the homes of anti-Stalinists in Barcelona.
Another American who played a prominent part in Stalin’s crusade on the seven seas was a certain Comrade Appelman, a former Party organizer in Albany, New York, who went under the nom de guerre of Mike Pell. He had worked for the Comintern in Germany and Soviet Russia, and had organized the first anti-war committees among the crews of American transatlantic liners, led by the President Roosevelt.
Late in May, 1932, Mike appeared at the first International Seamen’s Congress held in Altona, a Red suburb of Hamburg, as a member of the large delegation of the United States waterfront workers, of which George Mink was the leader. This Congress, called by the "independent" ISH, was a "united front" affair. To all appearances, the delegates were to deliberate on a basis of complete equality, "irrespective of race, color or political creed." In reality, the Congress was ordered and financed by the Kremlin from beginning to end; even the fares of the delegates from far-off corners of the earth were paid out of our funds.
The delegates began to arrive in Hamburg three weeks before the event. They came by train and airplane and passenger liner, and some arrived from across the seas as stowaways. They came from Capetown and San Francisco and Sydney, and from a hundred harbors in between, pilgrims to the grand masquerade of Stalin’s power on the seven seas. They were turned over to Communist Reception Committees who supplied them with private quarters, food, money and entertainment. A member of the Espionage Defense was assigned to each delegation, ostensibly as guide and interpreter, actually as a spy to ferret out possible anti-Stalinist sentiments among the visitors from abroad. Counted together, the delegates represented approximately a million seamen, dockers and rivermen. Only a minority were communists. Yet, the majority of non-communist elements was hopelessly at the mercy of the communist "fraction" (caucus) , which never acknowledging its existence to the outsiders, operated secretly as a disciplined body to dominate the seemingly democratic procedure of the convention.
All resolutions, speeches and programs were written in advance in our communist headquarters. All chief speakers were communists in various disguises, and they were told exactly what to say before they were allowed to utter a word. Among the mass of foreign delegates there was only one who saw through this fraudulent system of wire-pulling, and rose to protest against it openly. He was Engler, a delegate from Rouen, France. Engler was quickly taken care of. Two assistants of Hugo Marx, posing as German policemen, visited Engler the same night. They told him that the German authorities considered him an undesirable alien. Then they escorted him to Cologne and put him on a train to Paris with the admonition, "If you return to Germany, Herr Engler, you will go to jail."
Several speakers were chosen by Kommissarenko from the strong American delegation which attended the Congress. Louis Engdahl of Chicago, who was then touring Europe with Ada Wright, the mother of one of the negroes in the famous Scottsboro case, spoke on "International Solidarity." Harry Hynes, the national organizer of the Red Marine Workers Union of America, expounded the technique of strikes on the waterfront. (Harry Hynes was later killed in Spain.) Thomas Ray, of San Francisco, spoke about the tasks of seamen in the event of war against the Soviet Union. (Thomas Ray subsequently became the directing force behind the National Maritime Union of America.) None of these speakers voiced their own original thoughts. Engdahl’s speech was written by Willy Münzenberg, Hynes’s exposition had come from Kommissarenko’s brain, and Tom Ray’s lecture on the art of mutiny and sabotage against munitions transports had been drafted by me.
Many of the delegates were outright impostors. Chinese students from Berlin spoke as the "representatives" of the dockers in Canton and Wei-hei-wei. A negro from Trinidad, who had spent most of his life in London, was acclaimed as the delegate of the negro river workers on the lower Mississippi. Such tricks are a feature of every international communist convention.
On the second day of the proceedings it became clear that no delegation from East Indian ports could arrive in Hamburg. The British government had refused passports to the East Indians, and had imprisoned the leader of their delegation. Kommissarenko went about the congress hall, muttering to himself. Suddenly he turned to me, saying: "India is important. We need a Hindu at this Congress. Go and scare up a Hindu, bring him here, and we will make him speak."
I went out to hunt for a likely Hindu. The steamer Drachenfels of the Hansa Line was in port. Its stokers were Hindus. I hastened down to the harbor and boarded the Drachenfels. The Hindus aboard did not understand me when I talked to them about a congress. I tried another method.
"Like ’em singsong-missy? Like ’em young little singsong-baby? You boys quick come with me. No charge."
Three of the East Indians were willing to go. Two wore scraggy beards. The third was clean-shaven, but as thin as a skeleton. All three wore grimy turbans and shirts dangling out over their belts. Licking their chops in anticipation, they followed me into a taxicab. We drove straight to the Congress.
"Come inside," I said. "See ’em singsong-babies. Right here."
The three were stunned when they saw themselves in a hall full of men bent over papers; bewildered they stared at the red banners all around them. I led my victims past the table, where the international praesidium sat, and on to the speaker’s podium. I pushed the clean-shaven one ahead. There was the sound of drums, and then silence. Ernst Wollweber, the president of the Congress, rose and announced with a thunderous growl that in spite of the attempts of Scotland Yard to sabotage the participation of an East Indian delegation, the East Indian comrades had found a way to come to the Congress. He ended with the call:
"The representative of the Dockers’ Union of Calcutta now has the word."
The three Hindus stood helpless on the stage and grinned.
The young American, Mike Appelman, now took charge of the situation. He glowered ferociously at the Hindus.
"How long you work?" asked Mike in a fierce whisper. "Six to six," said a Hindu.
"The East Indian comrade says that the imperialist exploiters force East Indian workers to labor uninterruptedly from six in the morning to six at night, a minimum of twelve hours a day, and
seven days a week," interpreted Appelman, turning to the audience.
"How much your pay?" Appelman snapped at the Hindu.
"Three pounds."
"East Indian proletarians must slave 360 hours a month for 60 shillings, or six hours for the equivalent of a quarter dollar," announced Appelman to the Congress.
"What you eat for supper?" he asked the Hindu.
"Rice!"
"They are fed like animals. Three times a day a handful of rice, that is the ration of East Indian workers!" bellowed Appelman.
"You like more money? Better supper? Beat up the boss?" he coaxed his quarry.
The Hindu stared. Then he grinned, and nodded.
"The East Indian workers declare themselves willing to join in the struggle of the classes, the struggle for higher pay and shorter hours, for freedom from exploitation, for Socialism, for the protection of the Soviet Union against attacks of the imperialist sharks!" Appelman thundered.
The Congress roared applause. The band struck up the Internationale, and the delegates rose to their feet and sang. Quickly the three Hindus were hustled out of the hall. At the entrance, they demanded to know when they would meet the promised "sing-song-missies."
"Beat it, you bums," they were told. "Get back to your ship!"

The virtual dictator of the Congress which drafted the program of demands for the seamen and dockers of all nations, was the Russian Kommissarenko. He was also the dictator of the Soviet Transport Workers Union and its four hundred thousand members. Comrade Kommissarenko held up before the full session of the Congress, the methods and conditions in Soviet shipping as models for all the other merchant marines in the world. "Our struggle will not cease," he shouted, "until the Red banners of proletarian freedom fly from the mastheads of the last ship afloat." But in a Sonderkonferenz [50]—a caucus meeting of responsible ISH functionaries, Kommissarenko spoke in a far more cold-blooded vein. Here he discussed with us the special political tasks of the communist ship units, particularly those of Russian vessels. As one of the heads of the Maritime Apparat, I had come in frequent contact with Soviet ships. They were prison ships—camouflaged as ships of freedom—in more than one sense: prison ships for their crews, who were subject to special maritime laws which were unsurpassed in ferocity even by the Kaiser’s ill-famed punitive Seemannsordnung [51]; and prison ships for recalcitrant foreign communists whom the G.P.U. thought imprudent to leave at large. Kommissarenko took all this for granted; he was speaking as a Bolshevik to Bolsheviks.
Following the inauguration of the Five-Year-Plan and the concurrent transformation of the Comintern into an arm of the Soviet secret service, the kidnaping of possibly dangerous police spies and communist renegades abroad became a matter of routine. The victims ranged from officials in the Soviet diplomatic corps and its trade missions to police informers, agents provocateurs, spies of foreign governments, embezzlers of Soviet and Comintern funds, leaders of anti-Stalin organizations, hostages, obstructionists and saboteurs, and such renegades whose knowledge of the Kremlin’s secret-service Apparat tended to imperil the lives of important undercover agents and the existence of an organization built up painstakingly and at great expense to Moscow.
Of all this the communist rank and file knew, of course, nothing that could be termed concrete. The comrades drafted into the underground Espionage Defense corps, which co-operated with the G.P.U. in the abductions, never came from the ranks of known leaders. They were taken from the strata which lay between the top committees and the obedient communist herd. The men recruited for this so-called S-Apparat had to meet three fundamental requirements: an impeccable record of three years of Party activities, at least one arrest in which they had divulged nothing harmful to the police, and a fanatical belief in the historic world mission of the Soviet Union. They had to be young, resolute, and blindly devoted to the cause. Once they were taken over by the Espionage Defense, they faded completely out of the official picture of the Party.
The procedure used in the abduction of a spy or a traitor seldom varies. Abduction is given preference over assassinations on foreign territory, unless the victim is so obscure a personality that no one would take much interest in the circumstances of his death. First comes, in most instances, a friendly offer of a job in the Soviet Union. If the victim agrees to go, he may not even be shot or exiled when he gets to Russia; he may really get the job, an unimportant sinecure a thousand miles or more from the nearest frontier station, with the certainty that he will never, never be allowed to leave the Socialist Fatherland. Most of the communists who are so "invited" go voluntarily, resigned to their fate. They are apt to look upon a life outside the Soviet movement as worse than death. To them, self-surrender to the G.P.U. is a last gesture of loyalty to the cause which had already taken their best,—the sky-storming enthusiasm of their youth!
But once the serene G.P.U. invitation to "go to Moscow and take a rest" is rejected, the Espionage Defense corps goes into action. The G.P.U. does not wait for the arrival of a Soviet ship in some nearby port before it seizes its quarry. The victim is seized at the first good opportunity and kept imprisoned—sometimes for months—awaiting the arrival of a Soviet vessel manned by a hand-picked crew. The G.P.U. has secret places of detention in or near key cities. In Hamburg, it was the cellar of a house which harbored a book-distribution firm, the Viva, at 19 Kohlhofen, in the heart of the city. In Berlin, it was a summer house on Schönholzerweg, on the outskirts of Reinickendorf-Ost, a town not far from the capital. In Copenhagen, it was a summer cottage owned by Richard Jensen on the highway from Copenhagen to Kjoege. In Paris, it was a house on the Rue d’Alembert, managed by Beaugrand, a member of the French parliament living at 221 Rue Etienne Marcelle in the Montreuil district, just around the corner from the Paris outpost of the G.P.U. There were many more such Soviet secret detention places in foreign lands, the exact location of which I have no way of knowing. From these illegal jails the prisoner is spirited aboard a Soviet ship during the night before sailing.

Quite apart from the official sessions of the Congress, secret organizational conferences, to which only communists were admitted, convened in adjoining halls. The subjects which were discussed here were of an intimately conspirative nature—communication networks, personnel questions, subsidies, new wrinkles in the engineering of strikes, concrete plans of action against the shipping of various nations, and the work of communists in the navies of capitalist countries. In one such meeting, which I directed, the tactics used in naval mutinies of the past were thoroughly analyzed, mistakes made clear, and successful methods recommended for application in the naval campaigns of the future. A Russian delegate who had come with the Soviet vessel Dnepr expounded the methods employed by the Bolsheviks in the Czar’s Baltic fleet. A German, the Reichstag Deputy Willy Leow, explained the numerical factors involved in the victorious mutiny in the German Imperial Navy. Comrade Languinier, a Frenchman, analyzed the risings of French warship sailors in Toulon. Delegates from the Danish navy and the Polish naval base of Gdynia followed. But the greatest interest was reserved for the lessons of the naval revolt of Chile and the mutiny of the British Home Fleet at Invergordon, both of which had taken place during September, 1931. George Mink reported on the events in Chile, while Cole, a delegate from Liverpool, spoke on "The Spirit of Invergordon."
The mutiny of the British fleet at Invergordon was a political event of the first magnitude. It had rocked not only the British Empire, but also the faith of millions of non-Britishers in the immunity of Albion’s battleships to the bacillus of rebellion. The mutiny began on the night of September 12, after Sir Austen Chamberlain had announced in the House of Commons that a reduction in pay had been decided upon for all lower ratings in the navy. That night the sailors gathered thickly in the shoreside canteens—and the agitators went to work. Able Seaman Bond, of H.M.S. Rodney—which ranked among the most powerful units of the Home Fleet—jumped atop a table and called on the sailors to answer the government’s decision with a strike. The next speaker was Len Vincott, the organizer among the ringleaders. Ship delegates were elected to carry the strike call to all the vessels of the fleet. A day later ship committees were elected. On Monday, September 14, a meeting of crews’ delegates fixed the beginning of the strike for 6 A. M., Tuesday morning. A glass was thrown at a naval officer who attempted to dissolve the meeting. The sailors returned to their ships, some singing the "Red Flag," a communist battle song. Through the night shouts leaped from ship to ship: "Don’t forget tomorrow morning!"
"Tomorrow morning" came. First to strike were the sailors aboard the Rodney. Their cheers rolled over the roadstead. Two hours later all crews of the Home Fleet were on strike. The sword and shield of the British Empire was paralyzed. After thirty-six hours the Admiralty capitulated before the mutineers. The affair was hushed up. Neither trials nor convictions followed. Twenty-four ringleaders were merely discharged from naval service—"for subversive conduct"—and given free railway tickets home. In the subsequent discussions of the lessons of the Invergordon mutiny at the Hamburg Congress, one of the Russian emissaries observed that such a naval strike "transformed the British Lion into a harmless pussy-cat." The latter phrase was snapped up and internationally popularized by the American delegate, Mike Appelman, in a book, "S.S. Utah," which in thinly disguised fiction form outlined the technique of organizing strikes and mutiny on the high seas, and which was published by the subsidiaries of the Comintern in Russia, Germany, the Scandinavian countries and in America. The Invergordon mutiny created in the minds of many uninitiated Bolsheviks an unwarranted optimism regarding the possibility of "capsizing" the British Empire. However, my misadventures in England in the course of my next assignment, confirmed the opinion of our leaders that, in spite of the "spirit of Invergordon," our forces were far from whittling down the claws of the British Lion.

Chapter Twenty-two - INSPECTOR-GENERAL FOR ENGLAND

I WAS SUMMONED to Berlin after the International Seamen’s Congress had closed and the last of the delegates had received the funds for their homeward passage. Georgi Dimitrov’s welcome was exceptionally friendly.
"Dear comrade," he told me, "we are sending you to England. You will find a delicate situation there. Our British movement is a pain. It will not grow, neither will it die. Harry Pollitt and his crowd are as snobbish and as incapable of revolutionary mass work as they are English."
For five long hours I received detailed instructions pertaining to my mission. They included an overhauling of the financial management of the London Daily Worker and the communist shipping paper, the Seafarer, as well as a tour of British ports, a reorganization of the communist trade union opposition, known as the "Minority Movement," of the East Indian Seamen’s Union, the headquarters of which was in London, and the West Indian Society —an international negro organization centered in Cardiff, Wales.
It was by far the most important job I had ever been assigned to tackle. I spent two more days in going over the British correspondence in the files of the Western Secretariat of the Comintern. I found that the reports sent in by the British Central Committee were a mixture of diplomacy, self-righteousness and claims to successes which had not been attained. Every letter ended with a shrill request for money. The British Party had almost no income of its own. Perhaps five percent of its recorded members paid dues. Every phase of Party activity was dependent on subsidies from Moscow.
Incidentally, it may be noted that the British files of the Western Secretariat were not kept at the main offices which were housed at the Führer Verlag. The records pertaining to each individual nation were kept in different private apartments of trusted Parry members. This decentralization of documentary material made it impossible for the police to seize in one raid the bulk of confidential Comintern records in Berlin. Even the efficient Gestapo failed to get them. In the spring of 1933, they were transferred in small batches to Copenhagen.
Painstaking preparations were made to ensure my safe entry into the United Kingdom and the efficacy of my lines of communication. Britain was one of the freest countries on earth. But it had in Scotland Yard a police machine that worked with almost omniscient precision. Scotland Yard spies were everywhere. The British passport authorities had a reputation for discovering at a glance the most subtle forgeries in traveling documents. In the Comintern we knew that no well-known agent could ever hope to pass a British port of entry without official molestation. Numerous Comintern men had in previous years been seized and deported by Scotland Yard.
I received three false passports to cover my sojourn in England. There was a Dutch passport in the name of Gerhart Smett, which I was to use for entry and for registration with the London police. A Norwegian passport in the name of Alfson Petersen was to serve as my identification for the British Communist Party. I kept in reserve an American passport, originally issued to one Kurt Peter, to be used only in an emergency or for sudden flight from arrest. The description in all of these passports fitted me perfectly. The only items which had been changed were the photographs and the bearer’s signature. In addition, I carried business credentials introducing me as the representative of a wholesale fish merchant in Rotterdam. The fish merchant actually existed; he was paid to acknowledge this letter of recommendation in case of an inquiry. All these documents were issued by the Comintern counterfeiting center, which had its offices in Berlin SW68-72 Lindenstrasse.
Taking the plane for Croydon from Hamburg-Fuhlsbüttel, I carried only the Dutch passport and the fish merchant’s letter. The other passports, addresses and the Comintern credentials were then brought to me by two maritime couriers who handled our secret communications to and from England. Both were engineers serving on the British weekly boats Teal and Lapwing.
I bade Firelei farewell and flew to London on a crystal—clear day. The examination at Croydon caused me some uneasy moments. Passport officers on duty perused every page of my Dutch passport. Then they began to thumb leisurely through their suspect list. A few questions followed. I passed. A bus brought me into London.
I met Harry Pollitt, communist leader of Great Britain, at the Brasserie Universelle in the Piccadilly district. He was a handsome, well-built and elegantly-attired man in his late thirties, an excellent and tireless talker, with a very high opinion of his own abilities. He received me with a forced joviality which gave me the impression that he looked with hidden disfavor on my presence in London. "Something is rotten in Denmark," I thought. "Comrade Pollitt must not be permitted to obscure the facts." From the first we were enemies. Pollitt’s resentment was sugar-coated. To him I was an ignorant interloper in British affairs. But no one in any Communist Party dares openly to question the authority of "the man from Moscow." When Pollitt offered me quarters with a communist family, I declined. The nature of the business I had come to do was unpleasant. The hazard of residing at an address known to functionaries suspected of corruption was obvious. I also declined to make use of a girl secretary Pollitt offered to assign to me. I was quite certain that she would be a spy of the Central Committee.
"She’s a good-looking chit," Pollitt tempted.
"Don’t bother," I said. "I’ll have my own Apparat."
The British Party chief seemed to sniff the air cautiously. He thought I was a Russian.
I took lodgings in one of the innumerable boarding-houses around Euston Station. Then I proceeded to gather a nucleus of reliable assistants whose names and addresses had been transmitted, with other material, by the courier aboard the Teal. My aides were Joe Keenan, a hard-boiled little Australian and a veteran of many Comintern enterprises, "Red" McGrath, the lanky New Zealander with whom I had co-operated in Antwerp in the years following the Hamburg insurrection of 1923, Patrick Murphy, one of the few hard-drinking, hard-fighting Irishmen in the G.P.U. service, and a girl named Cilly. Cilly was young and tall and dark, coolly independent and chic; she was a German girl who had worked for the Soviet Trade Mission in London, the Arcos, until that institution had been raided by Scotland Yard. We met in a tea-room to exchange observations and to get our bearings.
In the Comintern, the British Party occupied a singular position. It had never had a shake-up. It had never been torn asunder by factional struggles. Yet, since the general strike of 1926, it had become the most useless and expensive toy of the Communist International. It had swallowed money to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars yearly. After ten years of existence, it counted less than one-tenth of the number of units commanded by the Party in the city of Hamburg alone. "What is the reason for this stagnation?" I asked myself.
The chief reason was perhaps the mental attitude of the British worker. Another reason was to be found in the ineptitude and arrogance of the Party leadership, and its corrupt point of view that revolution was a good business, provided revolution did not come. And the third factor was the proficiency of British trade union leaders and of Scotland Yard in the art of sterilizing in the gentlest manner any communist attempt at an offensive.

I decided to attend to the London Daily Worker first. The editorial and business offices of this central Party organ were under Scotland Yard supervision from nine o’clock each morning to punctually six at night. Two detectives were always on duty. I saw them standing on the other side of the street, lounging in doorways, pretending to be engrossed in newspapers, actually sizing up every person that entered or left the building. Our check-up had to be done at night, without a forewarning to those concerned.
Joe Keenan and Pat Murphy rounded up the staff in their homes. Our session lasted until seven next morning. This was repeated twice more in the course of a week. The bevy of well-groomed Britishers—not a worker among them—was furious about my "G.P.U. methods" of investigation and cross-examination. But they exercised prudent restraint, fearful for their jobs. Our conferences were stormy, nerve-racking affairs. But that is the joy of overhauling an organization financed fully by Moscow; "the man from Moscow" can slash away at will, become sarcastic, go berserk, and insult the Moscow-paid pawns to his heart’s content—and not one of them will stand up for fear of being mentioned in a "confidential report."
The Daily Worker had been launched in 1930 with an initial subsidy of $45,000, supplied by the Soviet Government via the Comintern with the understanding that each issue should comprise a minimum of one hundred thousand copies. In addition to the initial subsidy, $2,600 had been sent each month by the Western Secretariat to pay for the wages of the Daily Worker staff. In April, 1931, the British Central Committee had reported to Berlin and Moscow that the circulation of the Daily Worker had been raised to over two hundred thousand, and had requested a monthly budget of $4,000 to pay for the greatly increased number of comrades employed by the Party press department. The discrepancy between the allegedly rising circulation of the paper and the dismal stagnation of other Party activities had given rise to suspicion in the heads of responsible Comintern functionaries. After a most bitter investigation, this is what I found:
The circulation of the Daily Worker was not two hundred thousand, but a bare thirty thousand. The editorial business personnel had not been increased. Where did the Comintern money go? A small part of it had been used to buy advertisements! Businessmen were paid by the Daily Worker to use its space with the design of demonstrating the paper’s growing influence to Moscow. The rest of the money went in the form of salaries and "expenses" to a small clique of Central Committee members. "Expenses" included fairly luxurious apartments, maintenance of mistresses, vacation trips to the South Shore, and fur coats and automobiles for the wives of prominent British Stalinists.
The British comrades tried hard to explain the facts away by talking for hours about the vicissitudes to which the Daily Worker had been subjected by the British authorities. The Daily Worker had been banned from the official newspaper trains. In 1931, the chief printer had been sent to jail for nine months. Frank Paterson, one of the ostensible owners of the paper, had been condemned to two years of hard labor. One of the editors, Comrade Allison, had gone to prison for three years. Another, Comrade Shepherd, had been sentenced to twenty months of hard labor in connection with the Invergordon mutiny of the British fleet. And so on. I laughed off these explanations. Anti-communist terror in Britain was a kindergarten affair when compared to the hardships encountered by our comrades in most European and Asiatic countries. Ruthlessly I cut down wages to four pounds sterling a week and "expenses" to nothing. I had brought with me from Berlin the subsidies for June and July, and I hung on to them like a hard-headed miser. After all wages were paid, there was a surplus of nearly $1,600, which I used to improve the circulation machinery. I sent off a long report on my findings to Hamburg, by my courier aboard the Lapwing. From Hamburg it was forwarded to Berlin, from Berlin to Moscow. One by one, with the exception of Gallacher, the Lenins of the British Empire were called to Moscow.
The conditions that existed in the offices of the Daily Worker, I found, were duplicated in most of the other departments of the communist movement in Britain. It was led by a corrupt clique of bureaucrats looting not only the Comintern treasury, but also the pockets of their own rank and file. In the blazing summer heat of London, I investigated almost a score of communist offices bearing the name-plates of the many auxiliary organizations, and everywhere the picture was the same: well-groomed and voluble officials loafing behind a shiny desk, trim-looking secretaries, office hours from nine to four, heaps of paper plans and resolutions, portraits of Lenin and Stalin on the wall, and no contact worth mentioning with the laboring masses of Great Britain.
One of my tasks was the inspection of the London bureau of the Friends of the Soviet Union, outwardly an "independent" body. Since the end of 1930 this organization had received a special monthly allowance with which to combat the intensive British anti-Soviet campaign that centered around the employment of slave labor in the vast lumber camps of the G.P.U. in the country around Archangelsk. The Friends of the Soviet Union in London had received huge consignments of the handsome and expensive pictorial review, U.S.S.R. in Construction, and money with which to finance a large-scale distribution of this publication among British teachers, college professors, and professional groups. Probing through the records and the premises of the "Friends" in London; I found that the money had been spent to no good purpose while big stacks of U.S.S.R. in Construction reposed in the cellars, thickly covered with dust.
The British Party had in its ranks no groups of militant character. When one of the officials wanted a batch of leaflets distributed, he was obliged to hire some down-and-outer for a union wage of five shillings a day to do the job. A good proportion of these Party "volunteers" earned their meager bread and butter by acting as small-time informers for Scotland Yard. (Later that year, when Scotland Yard agents had arrested me, a London police inspector told me gravely: "We’ve got you communists hamstrung. Why, if we want to know something, we walk right into any of your offices and buy the information we are looking for.")
One of the coups which won me credit in Moscow was the liquidation of the cozy nest which two top-flight British communists, Comrades Thompson and George Hardy, had feathered for themselves at Comintern expense. Thompson and Hardy were the team at the head of the most important department in the Communist Party of Great Britain,—in charge of the harbors, the docks, the fisheries and the vast British merchant marine. Thompson was a hard-voiced giant, formerly an official of the British Trade Union Congress. George Hardy was a soft-footed, foxy schemer, who had transacted Comintern business in many far places, in India, Moscow and Vladivostok, in South Africa, Shanghai and the United States. I had met both Hardy and Thompson briefly in Berlin and Hamburg during the previous year. Both looked like prosperous merchants, and their women were sufficiently groomed to have stepped fresh out of some fashionable country club.
"When you deal with these two, be rough, be aggressive," Dimitrov had advised me. "They’re liable to sell you the Nelson Statue on Trafalgar Square, if you don’t look out."
I found what I had expected to find. The communist waterfront organizations in Great Britain registered some fourteen hundred members, but not one of them had paid dues beyond an initiation fee. The International Seamen’s Clubs in British ports were not political centers, but unsavory cafes run for the personal profit of Hardy and Thompson. The International Club in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the West Coast of Africa, which was budgeted and directed from London, had been transformed from a communist rallying point to something that closely resembled a slave-trading center. Returning negro comrades told the tale. Hardy had sold the Freetown unit to a clique of "Krubosses," men who supplied coastal vessels with longshoremen for a fee amounting to one-third of the negroes’ wages. Thompson did a flourishing business by importing Arab and Chinese seamen for placement on British ships far below the regular wage standards. The monthly ISH subsidy of $2,500, which Hardy and Thompson received through Albert Walter to make British shipping Red, was distributed in the following manner: Hardy paid himself a salary of $1,000, Thompson paid himself a salary of $1,000, and the remaining $500 they used for printing a newspaper, the Seafarer, not for distribution among dockers and seamen, but solely for dispatch to German and Soviet ports as "proof" of their activities in England. Patiently I collected voluminous details for a report to Georgi Dimitrov. My courier on the Teal relayed the report to Hamburg. Meanwhile George Hardy, aware that something threatening was afoot, collected counter-material against the Maritime Center in Hamburg and myself. He accused me of having organized a burglary on his office on Commercial Road, and of the theft of his personal files. He entrusted this counter-report to his wife and sent her to deliver it in Moscow. It would have been easy to stop Mrs. Hardy in Berlin. However, she was allowed to proceed.
From Berlin I soon received instructions to break Hardy and Thompson with every means at my command, and to install a new leadership in their Apparat. The methods of "breaking" men were as familiar to me as they were to anyone who had grown up in the communist movement. First I stopped all payment of subsidies. The Seafarer ceased to appear. One after one, the seven existing International Clubs in British ports were forced to shut down. Through unsigned leaflets spread among their own followers, I accused Hardy and Thompson of stealing workers’ money and of complicity with Scotland Yard. I had caused damaging personal data on Hardy to reach the hands of the bitterest foes of communism, Bevin and Spence, the leaders of the British, maritime unions. Soon this material began to appear on the front page of Mr. Spence’s journal, the Seaman, and found its way into every foc’s’le under the British flag. As a result, Hardy accused Thompson of treachery, and Thompson gave Hardy a tremendous thrashing in front of Charley Brown’s famous tavern on West India Dock Road. By way of revenge, Hardy denounced me to Scotland Yard, and detectives began to comb the East End, asking for a "Russian with an American accent." Several times I had the distinct feeling of being trailed. But, fortunately, the average detective can be recognized a hundred yards off.
The campaign to break Hardy and Thompson was a complete success. The blustering Thompson was not dangerous; he was permitted to resign. George Hardy was ordered to go to Moscow. For two weeks he hesitated. "Goddamn you sons-of-bitches," he told me, "you’ve got my wife there."
"You sent her there, didn’t you?" I answered.
George Hardy was, after all, an Englishman. He went to Moscow. He was permitted to remain alive. But he has, to the best of my knowledge, never emerged from his oblivion.
The new leadership for the Comintern work in the field of British Empire shipping was selected at the World Congress against Imperialist War in Amsterdam, financed and engineered by the Kremlin in August, 1932. It was sponsored by a fine array of liberal "innocents," ranging from Romain Rolland to Patel—the Chairman of the East Indian National Congress. It also brought together the international Comintern elite. In one of the secret conferences which accompanied the open "show" session, the successors to Thompson and Hardy were appointed.
After Hardy and Thompson were pushed out of the way, I concentrated on the West Indian Association. This was a league of negroes, built up in the course of years by a negro named O’Connell, controlling numerous local units in Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and on the lesser islands. It stood for the defense of negro rights and the promotion of cultural relations among the various negro centers. O’Connell, who had his head office in Cardiff, was an energetic individual, very dark of skin, but with the nose of an Arab horseman and the chin of a pugilist. He was not a member of the Communist Party, but held the card of one of the more important auxiliaries,—the Friends of the Soviet Union. My instructions were to plant a communist adviser in O’Connell’s office, and to enchain O’Connell by inducing him to accept a regular subsidy of a few hundred dollars from the International Secretariat for the Friends of the Soviet Union. Actually such a Secretariat did not exist; the "Secretariat" was Willy Münzenberg. The aim was, of course, to use O’Connell’s Association as a communist transmission-belt among the negro populace of the West Indies. The assistant I had intended to put into O’Connell’s office was a London negro named Jones, a graduate of the Lenin School in Moscow. What I did not suspect, however, was that Comrade Jones had been for years, and still was, on the payroll of Scotland Yard.
My mission ended in bleak defeat. I journeyed to Cardiff. O’Connell was willing to accept the money I offered to support his organization, but he stubbornly insisted that the West Indies were one thing, and Moscow another. Bluntly he told me: "I represent my negro brothers; you want me to represent Russia among the West Indians. I cannot be a servant to two masters. My conscience rules that out."
"But we are deeply interested in helping the colored people in their just fight," I explained.
"Who are ’we’?" O’Connell barked." ’We’ is Moscow. Moscow is deeply interested in helping Moscow."
I then tried another method. There were several negroes in Cardiff who were both members of the Communist Party and of the West Indian Association. They did not amount to much, but they were there. I printed a leaflet denouncing O’Connell as a "traitor" to the negro cause, pointing out that the final liberation of the negroes could only be accomplished by revolutionary means, and urged the members of the Association to depose O’Connell. The leaflet was distributed in Cardiff and on ships manned by West Indian negroes. O’Connell reacted promptly. He called an open meeting of his followers to make short shrift of the Stalinist opposition.
I summoned Jones from London and a handful of other negro communists from Liverpool and Birkenhead to strengthen our group in the forthcoming meeting. Roles were assigned in advance to all participants. I established a temporary headquarters in a fish-and-chips shop a few doors away from the meeting hall, maintaining contact with the communist caucus by two negro couriers. Besides O’Connell, the Association had no formidable speakers. On the other hand, each member of our unit was able to deliver a harangue. I felt confident that we would carry the day. Once a communist bloc was established inside the Association, O’Connell could either be forced to abdicate or come to terms.
O’Connell won the battle. He had been informed about every detail of my plan. Plainclothesmen hovered about the meeting. O’Connell opened the meeting by calling every member of the communist group by name, including Jones, and demanded that they should leave the building. A scuffle ensued, a few heads were broken, and then the policemen closed in and arrested every communist in the meeting on a charge of "disturbing the peace." I cursed myself for a crude blunderer. The Cardiff police, too, were now scouting for "the Russian with an American accent." I fled out of Wales in disgrace. Arriving in London, I reported my failtire to Berlin. Orders arrived from Berlin to break O’Connell or to wreck his Association. Pat Murphy was sent to Cardiff to continue the campaign. It ended, months after I had left England, with the liquidation of the West Indian Association. The Cardiff offices moved several times before they finally closed down. O’Connell sank into obscurity.

In the middle of July, I was suddenly recalled to Germany. The atmosphere I found upon landing in Hamburg convinced me that great and implacable forces were moving against each other for a final cataclysmic clash. But the crashing events in my homeland belong to another chapter. I returned to London in August, this time by boat via Grimsby. There were still the affairs of the East Indian Seamen’s Union to be straightened out.
Moscow had demanded that the headquarters of the Union be transferred from London to Calcutta. A closer contact with the home bases of the East Indian waterfront workers was desired. But for some mysterious reason the Central Committee of the British Party and the leader of the East Indian Seamen’s Union had consistently sabotaged every attempt to transfer the head office to Calcutta.
"We know little about this outfit," Albert Walter had told me. "The head of the Union is a Hindu. He’s a fat, good-for-nothing loafer, but he has more shipping contacts to India than anyone else. Find him, and put some TNT under his hindquarters. He calls himself Vakil."
As is done in all such cases, I began by stopping the Hindu’s budget. Three of my aides, working in eight-hour shifts, kept his place under observation from the window of a room I had rented in a house on the opposite side of the street. Vakil’s headquarters occupied an old two-story house, with six rooms distributed above a large ground-floor store which now served as a meeting-hall and club-room. I reasoned in the following manner: "The Hindu refuses to move his firm to Calcutta. For this he must have a reason. I must find out whom he meets, what he does, and what influence keeps him stubbornly in London." A week of surveillance revealed nothing, except the picturesque figures of the Lascars from the ships in port who visited him. Vakil himself went into the harbor each morning to board vessels with East Indian crews; on these journeys he carried a sample case filled with cheap watches and other trinkets. That was his camouflage to avoid being challenged by the policemen who guard the gates to all London docks.
In order not to lose more time in fruitless surveillance, I decided to interview the Babu without further reconnaissances. I entered his place unannounced, on a Sunday evening. Vakil’s office on the first floor was a greasy little room, with posters on the walls, piles of East Indian literature on shelves, and a primitive printing press in a corner. A train of curious Lascars had followed me from the club-room up the stairway to see what the Occidental wanted in their building. I ordered them to go back to the ground floor. They complied, plainly frightened, taking me for a policeman.
The Babu was a large, brown, fat man, approaching fifty. He was dressed like any East End innkeeper, and his small, sly eyes squinted at the world between barricades of fat. He was not alone. Two turbaned individuals squatted near him on low chairs. They all jumped up when I walked into the office.
"What may be your wish, sir?" said Vakil with dignity.
"I come from the International of Seamen and Harbor Workers."
"Ah!"
We sat down. Vakil’s two companions wanted to leave. But I prevented that. "I am the first to leave," I decreed. "You can go after I have gone." We talked. All my probing as to why the chief of the East Indian Seamen’s Union refused to transfer his headquarters to Calcutta led to no results. Vakil talked volubly. He boasted of his contacts with India, pointed out the trust placed in him by the Lascar sailors, and then embarked on long lamentations about the lack of co-operation from our international organization. All this, I soon realized, was only designed to keep me from prying into his affairs.
"Give me a list of all your contact men on ships to East India," I demanded. "Show me your correspondence with the East Indian units. Show me your financial records."
"Oh, but they’re written in a language you could not read," the Babu countered.
I settled down to a night of gathering fragmentary notes about his organization. Vakil’s answers to my questions came reluctantly. Many were evasive, more were obviously false. I tried then what is known in the Comintern as the "Thälmann method." I brought my fist down on the table and rose, overturning the chair. Leaning forward with all the truculence I could mobilize, I roared:
"Comrade Vakil, your actions are not those of a revolutionist. I thought I had to deal with a Bolshevik. ’Where is your Bolshevist frankness? I see now that I have to deal with a shyster. I want no subterfuges. I cannot permit you to play in the dark with the vital interests of our East Indian class brothers! We put you in charge of this organization. We have a right to know what you have done with it!"
Vakil slumped in his chair„ his arms dangling limply.
"My word!" he said finally. "Your impudence is remarkable!" "Let’s come to terms," I said.
"Ah!"
"Remember, we are stronger than you. Do you imagine we can permit anyone to steal one of our organizations, and let him get away with it?"
"Do not forget," the Babu murmured, "we are in London."
I pretended not to understand the threat, and requested him to prepare a report on his organization. I promised to return for it in the morning. Vakil agreed.
I called Joe Keenan from the nearest telephone, instructing him to rouse our three assistants. At two o’clock in the morning we met at the entrance of Blackwall Tunnel, at the end of East India Dock Road. From there we proceeded to the Babu’s headquarters.
Vakil was already in bed. He appeared at the door in grimy green pajamas. We pushed him back into the house and entered. Then we searched the building. Outside of our group, only Vakil and his two turbaned aides were present. The latter two were locked in a back room and placed under guard. Vakil we herded into his cluttered office.
A strange inquisition followed. The Babu was a weakling. Under threats, he divulged everything we wanted to know, including the secret of his refusal to transfer his Apparat to Calcutta. At times his blubbering fear was so grotesque that we could hardly keep from breaking into laughter. Vakil had transformed the East Indian Seamen’s Union into an opium smuggling ring which had its customers in London. His ships’ delegates in the East India trade bought the drug in small quantities in various ports of India. The necessary capital was supplied by Vakil. They purchased the opium for an equivalent of $2.30 per kilogram, and smuggled it into London, where Vakil paid them a commission of twenty percent. The Babu then sold the opium to the local traders for whatever he could get.
"What did you do with the money?"
"The profits were very small. I am a man with a large family," Vakil said mildly.
The truth was that Vakil had no family at all, but he had become the owner of several houses in Whitechapel. I told Vakil that he had to relinquish all control of the Indian Seamen’s Union effective at once. I threatened to denounce him to the British authorities if he persisted in using union members for the opium traffic. In reality, I had no such intention; men of Vakil’s type would not hesitate to denounce our East Indian adherents on the ships should he get into trouble himself. I seized all papers, documents and files I could find in the building. My companions packed them into sacks, and one at a time the sacks were carried away to an apartment on High Street, in the deepest slums of Poplar, Which I had rented after my first arrival in England to serve as a secret depot for colonial propaganda material. I wrote immediately a detailed report on the case to Berlin. The Babu’s records followed a week later, in charge of our courier aboard the Lapwing.

The "breaking" of Vakil had a sequel. Again my presence in London was denounced to Scotland Yard, either by Vakil himself, or by the Central Committee of the British Communist Party, which fiercely resented my high-handed intrusion in British affairs.
Another East Indian, a student named Gani, had been sent from Berlin to direct the alienation of East Indian seamen from Vakil and to organize the transfer of the Union to Calcutta. One afternoon, when I left Gani after a conference we had had in the Poplar town hall, the safest of places for communist conspiracy, I hastened toward the other side of London to meet Cilly, my secretary, at the King’s Cross Station. I took the Commercial Road bus to Aldgate. A soon as I had stepped off the bus, to cross over to Aldgate Station, the subway terminal, two burly individuals stepped from behind a corner and grasped my arm.
"Hello," I said, "what are you chaps up to?"
"You bloody well answer the description of a foreigner we are looking for," one of the men replied.
Both flashed badges.
"We are from Scotland Yard," they murmured in unison.
I had in my pocket some notes on my conversation with Gani, and other notes pertaining to a letter I had intended to dictate to Cilly. The letter had been intended for our unit chiefs in Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow, and the Tyne ports. I crushed the notes into one lump in my pocket, jerked them out with lightning speed, stuffed them into my mouth and began to chew frantically. I was choking.
One of the detectives was patting my back with vigor. "Spit out the documents, brother," he counseled.
A few of the notes I had succeeded in swallowing, one or two I spat out, rubbing them to shreds with my feet as soon as they fell to the pavement. The detectives dragged the others out of my mouth with strong stubby fingers. I had felt too secure. I had neglected one of the most important rules of conspirative technique, the rule which said: "Never carry written material in your pockets; let it be carried by an unknown assistant, or hide it in the lining of your clothes or the cavities of your body."
Scotland Yard agents prove their efficiency by never making an unnecessary show of force, a show so dear to the policemen of most other nations. There were neither manacles, nor jiu-jitsu grips, nor a police-wagon clanging through crowded streets. Simply a little push into the ribs, and a drawled, "Aw, come along now; you wouldn’t resist, would you?"
"No," I said.
"Where were you going?" they asked.
"I was going to my apartment to pack up and leave the country," I told them.
"All right. Then let’s all go to your apartment."
We entered Aldgate Station and boarded a westbound train. I sat in a corner by a window, a detective at my right, the other on the opposite seat. It was all quite pleasant. The Yard men joked, asked me how I liked Piccadilly and how the English girls compared with the girls of my own country.
"The Russian girls are supposed to make great paramours," one detective said.
I was on guard.
"I don’t know. I’ve heard that too."
"Aren’t you a Russki?"
"No."
"Well, well, fancy that! Flow do you like England?"
"I don’t like it."
"Well, if you’d come to us right away, we’d have showed you around a bit. I’m sure you would have liked England."
"Maybe."
"What do you think is the best country in the world?"
"The United States."
"Not Russia?"
"No."
"We sure appreciate your frankness," one of the men said with irony. "But you fellows will never get anywhere in Britain. Who in hell wants to sleep seven in a bed as they do in Russia? Or don’t they?"
"Don’t know. I’ve never been in Russia."
We left the subway in the West Center of London and sauntered to my quarters which contained nothing that could compromise me. By leading them there I hoped to keep the sleuths away from the East End, where most communist centers of operation were located. On the way, we stopped at a public house. I bought the detectives a drink, and then they bought drinks in their turn, and the game of cat-and-mouse went on. After we reached my rooming-house quarters, the two detectives stripped me naked and searched every inch of my clothing and the room. The questioning that followed lasted many hours. I first led them far afield, but was later tricked into contradictions, and when I admitted that I had told them a cock-and-bull story, we all laughed as if we greatly enjoyed each other’s company, and the detectives ordered tea and sandwiches. Even after they had become convinced that I would reveal nothing and admit nothing, not even the obvious fact that my passport was a fine piece of forgery, did they become rough or menacing in their methods.
"Listen here," one of them suggested suddenly, "if you’d work for us, you could make a little money on the side. The job you’ve got now is not very lucrative, is it? Anybody can use a few extra pounds."
"I told you already I don’t like England."
"Where did you intend to go from here?"
"To Germany. I got a nice girl there."
"Well, mayhap you will not see your girl so soon. We might charge you with entering the country under false pretenses."
"Suit yourselves," I said.
There is a Comintern saying pertaining to deportation methods which runs like this: "In Russia you are shoved under the country, elsewhere you are kicked out of the country, but in England you are bowed out of the country." I can certify to its correctness. For one of the detectives announced, after they had given up further questioning as useless:
"We want no unpleasantness, you know. The Home Office is content to send you fellows where you came from, and just put you on the suspect list. We’re going to put you on a boat in the morning. Just let us keep that passport of yours."
"What! No photographing? No fingerprinting?"
The detectives grinned. "We have your picture in the passport, and your fingerprints we’ve got on the glasses you handled in the public house a little while ago."
I became suspicious that these men might not be agents of the British Government at all, but impostors. Why were they so casual? Why did they not take me to headquarters? I demanded to see their credentials.
"Anybody can show a badge," I said.
"Oh, certainly."
Both produced their Scotland Yard identification cards. My respect for that police force grew enormously.
"You’re a nice chap, and so are we. We won’t make a scandal about it. But any time you fancy earning a few extra pounds,—why, drop us a postal card."
One of the two kept me a prisoner in my own room for the rest of the night. The other departed to attend to the formalities of "bowing" me out of England. A police inspector and another agent arrived in the morning.
"We sure give you credit for carrying no correspondence in your luggage," the inspector commented while he watched me packing my belongings. "Do me a favor and don’t come back to England. It’s absolutely unprofitable for you, and a nuisance for us."
I was escorted by train to Grimsby. There I was put aboard one of the liners of the London and North Eastern Railroad. A detective accompanied me until we were outside of British territorial waters. He departed with the pilot.
The second part of the sequence to the "breaking" of the fat Babu in London was tragi-comic. He wrote to Albert Walter, the chief of the ISH, that he would denounce all East Indian communists he knew to the British Secret Service, if the records taken from his office were not returned within a month. The matter was referred to the G.P.U. office in the Hedemannstrasse in Berlin. At first Michel Avatin was assigned to go to London to "silence" Vakil. But Avatin was known to Scotland Yard and too valuable a man to lose in such a minor action. Another man, one Patra, was dispatched in his stead. Patra, a tall, thin, keen-eyed fellow from the Balkans, had worked since January, 1932, in the special Apparat directed by the taciturn Lett Schmidt, whom I had met before in Hamburg, where he was wont to arrive in the guise of a sailor aboard various Soviet ships. Patra went to London.
Years later, through a fellow-prisoner in the Gestapo cellars of the Polizeipräsidium [52] on the Alexanderplatz in Berlin, I heard what had happened to the Babu. He had been chloroformed in his den near the London East India Docks, put into a trunk, and was thus smuggled past the English dock policemen aboard a Russian ship in Tilbury. Vakil was brought to Leningrad in good health.
"What happened to the Hindu in Russia?" I inquired.
"I don’t know," the other said. "They say he became an attendant in a hospital."

Chapter Twenty-three - HOW WE ENGINEERED MUTINIES

SEVERAL DAYS AFTER MY EXPULSION FROM BRITAIN I received orders through Albert Walter to go back into the Lion’s mouth.
"But I’ve just been ’bowed’ out of there," I objected.
"That’s just it," the bronzed old sailor rumbled. "They don’t expect you back right away, and that’s why you have an excellent chance to slip in again."
I was given another passport and credentials, together with five hundred dollars. I was not to go to London, but to Glasgow. The Scottish section of the British waterfront union, controlled by the powerful labor leader Ernest Bevin, had broken away from its mother organization and was conducting independent strikes in Grangemouth and Glasgow. A report from the resident G.P.U. agent in Glasgow had revealed that three men in the leading committee of the splinter union were communist sympathizers. Moscow’s plan was to bring about its affiliation with the Profintern. To this end, financial support for the harbor strikes in Scotland had been sent by the Comintern. So I was assigned to interview the communist sympathizers in the Glasgow leadership, and to pave the way for a communist invasion to conquer their union. This was to be done in co-operation with Gallacher, the only communist member of the House of Commons. I had met Gallacher, a rough and aggressive type, in London, and knew that he was at logger-heads with Harry Pollitt, his Party chief.
Without delay I embarked on a small British trampship for Newcastle. The only other passenger was a Newcastle merchant named Bates. During the passage, I cultivated the friendship of this man to such an extent that he invited me for a week-end at his home just as our steamer was nosing its way between the grimy banks of the Tyne. As a guest of a prominent citizen of Newcastle, I felt sure that I would not be bothered overmuch by the. Newcastle passport inspectors. However, the uncanny efficiency of the British police thwarted my plans.
No sooner had the ship been moored to her Newcastle wharf when two burly plainclothes officers boarded it and accosted me.
"Your passport, please! We’ve been ’advised of your coming!"
Forlornly I sat in the cabin, watching the two detectives scrutinize my passport through large magnifying glasses, while Mr. Bates, waiting for me on the quay, honked the horn of his car. One detective looked hard at me.
"This passport has been tampered with," he said slowly. The other detective rapped his knuckles on the table. "This passport has been tampered with," he echoed.
My person and my belongings were searched with minute care. They did not find what they were looking for. The addresses and memoranda I needed for my work had been entrusted for transmission to a maritime courier aboard another ship. I bluntly refused to answer any questions.
"Come along!"
I was brought to the jail of the harbor police. It was run by men who wore the uniforms of the British Navy. It was a brick building, kept scrupulously clean. Each individual cell had its own fireplace. Before I was locked into a cell, I was given tea and a plate of ham-and-eggs, and a warder lighted a wood fire. Late at night I was called out into the guard-room for questioning. Strangely, no detectives were present. My interviewer was an elderly officer in a naval uniform. His face was drawn and deeply lined, suggesting the hidden anger of a man half-crazed from insomnia.
"Why did you come to the United Kingdom on a false passport?"
"I refuse to answer."
"You refuse to answer?"
"Yes."
The officer snapped into a weird fury. I had the impression that I was dealing with a lunatic. I stepped back against the wall, the officer following me, crouched as if ready to spring.
"Sir!" he shrieked. "I am ’sir’ to you, do you comprehend that? I am ’sir,’ you unspeakable hoodlum!"
"Sir," I muttered, taken aback by the unexpected onslaught.
"You damned communists," he yelled. "You want to set the world afire. Not while I live! You are as bad as the Germans who sank our ships from ambush in the war. You are worse. You are . . ."
At first I thought that this was an attempt at intimidation, an effort to frighten me and to make me yield information. But it was not that. I realized that my examiner was out of his mind. Not until he had exhausted himself was I locked again into my cell.
The sheets of my bed were white and crisp, the blankets were clean, the fire crackled and then it died down. I slept soundly. Next morning, when the detectives came to settle down to an ordeal of questioning, I told them about my night experience with the commander of the jail. The detectives apologized for the official’s rudeness. They explained that the top of his skull had been blown off when his ship was torpedoed by a submarine in 1916, and that he now wore a silver skull.
Two days and nights I lingered in the Newcastle jail. The detectives, after convincing themselves that I would not give them any information about myself and my employers, talked chiefly about England and occasionally indulged in amiable mockery at my futile attempt to enter it for a second time. I tried to gain some indication as to the identity of the Scotland Yard informer in Hamburg who had advised them of my coming. They merely laughed. "We don’t need informers. We sniff in the air and we know. Aha! Someone’s coming."
Again I was expelled from Britain. I was returned to Hamburg on the same ship on which I had come to Newcastle. After that, my name was definitely stricken from the list of Comintern men eligible for assignments in England. Once a man had become known to Scotland Yard, the best disguise, it seemed, would avail him nothing. To the Comintern, Great Britain has always been one of the least dangerous yet one of the most difficult terrains.

"Get ready to go to Holland at once," Albert Walter said to me in his blunt, though ever-enthusiastic way. "I have communicated with the Western Secretariat. A Dutch shipping strike is looming. Get it started. Pick out the biggest ship on which we have a strong unit. What we want is a sensational action, ein Fanal—a beacon—a striking example for other crews to follow. And don’t forget to whack away at the Social Democrats in your strike manifestoes."
I arrived in Rotterdam early the following morning. The Dutch shipping strike was mildly supported by the Social Democrats. What the Comintern wanted was an action of violent lawlessness which would be condemned by the Socialist leaders, and would thus afford us an opportunity to designate them as traitors to the seamen’s cause.
Liaison agent and political instructor for our maritime units in the Dutch merchant marine was Willem Schaap, whose quiet manners and gentle blue eyes were belied by his silently driving energy. The Central Committee of the Dutch Party had been advised from Berlin to assign all its forces to aid in a spectacular waterfront coup—forces made up of 5,700 communists organized in 142 cells. Moscow’s purpose in ordering this action went far beyond the confines of Dutch shipping proper. In the Far East, the Communist Party of Indonesia was preparing for a blow against Dutch colonial rule. The Indonesian communists, still remembering their bloody defeats in the insurrections of 1926 and 1927, were to be encouraged by a demonstration of communist power in the mother country. If they saw that the Communist Party was strong enough to disrupt shipping between Holland and the Colonies, they would take heart and launch a new offensive for "national liberation." As usual, the pretext seized upon to launch these actions was threatening wage cuts. As usual, the underlying reason for the planned coup de main was the Soviet Government’s frantic fear of an imperialist invasion of Russia, and its resultant aim to divert the eyes of Britain, France and Japan to imbroglios far from the Soviet frontiers.
In Willem Schaap’s office, I and Comrade de Groot—a member of the Dutch Central Committee—looked over the lists of communist units on Dutch vessels. We chose the liner Rotterdam for our initial action. The Rotterdam was the pride of the Dutch merchant marine, a large luxury liner then on the way to Rotterdam from New York with the Dutch Olympic team among her several hundred passengers. The communist cell aboard this vessel counted twenty-seven members, including seven Germans who had gone through the experience of the German shipping strike during the previous year. Among the communist sympathizers was the ship’s junior radio officer. The liner was scheduled to call at British and French channel ports en route. I had no doubt that the Holland America Line, owner of the ship, was informed of the imminent strike, and would therefore order the Rotterdam’s captain not to enter any Dutch port until the dispute was settled. Those were the usual tactics of shipowners. By keeping their ships away from home ports, they hoped to keep their crews uninformed about impending conflicts. This gave us the opening for which we searched. Early in September, I sent Willem Schaap to the English South Coast to intercept the Rotterdam, and to organize mutiny in case the owners should attempt to prevent the ship from proceeding to its regular terminal harbor in Holland. I was con­fident that our force of twenty-seven communists would be strong enough to swing the crew of two hundred into action.
While the Rotterdam approached Cape Landsend, our columns in the harbor of Rotterdam worked day and night. We called dozens of meetings and distributed many thousands of strike manifestoes. We sent agitation squads aboard every ship in port. At night, our detachments went into the harbors in boats, and armed with paint and brushes, they smeared the strike slogans on ships’ sides, quays and cargo sheds. Action Committees were formed. Communist employees in the offices of the Holland America Line were instructed to keep us informed on the shipowners’ plans. Our agents in the Rotterdam police department were put on the alert to warn us in advance of intended raids.
As I had expected, the liner Rotterdam received a wireless message from her owners, ordering her to discharge passengers in Plymouth and Boulogne, and to return to New York without touching any Netherlands port. Willem Schaap hastened to Plymouth, slipped aboard the Rotterdam, and remained there during the steamer’s crossing to the French coast. This gave him time to map out the plan of battle with the members of the ship’s communist unit.
At a fixed hour, our column aboard the Rotterdam—then at sea, steaming toward New York—went into action. Through the assistant radio officer and the head of the communist unit, the crew was told that a wireless message had been received to the effect that Dutch seamen were solidly on strike in all Netherlands ports and that the strikers had appealed to the Rotterdam crew to force their captain to return to home waters. In reality, no such message had been received. In reality, Dutch shipping had not as yet been tied up solidly. Our plan was to bring about such a tie-up through an electrifying mutiny aboard the Rotterdam.
The mutiny proceeded according to plan. A delegation of communists presented an ultimatum to the liner’s master, Captain van Dulken. They demanded that the ship should not proceed to New York, but return to home waters to join the strike.
Captain van Dulken refused. He informed the crew that there was no general strike in Dutch shipping. The German communists in the delegation called him a liar, insisted on the correctness of the counterfeit wireless message, and repeated their demands in the name of the liner’s crew. Again Captain van Dulken refused.
The communists acted boldly. At the head of a horde of volunteers from among the rest of the crew, they invaded the engine room, extinguished the fires, and stopped the engines. Helpless as a giant coffin, the liner drifted about the western reaches of the English channel. The news of a mutiny on the high seas aboard one of the largest ships in the Dutch fleet swept away the remnants of strike-resistance in Rotterdam. Overnight all shipping was stopped. Except for the mass pickets and regiments of police, the harbor lay dead.
The radical turn of the movement was more than the leaders of the moderate Dutch Federation of Seamen had bargained for. They objected against tactics which violated the laws of the land. I leaped at the chance. All along the waterfront, crimson leaflets were distributed, denouncing the Socialist chiefs as "traitors who sell the sailors’ hides to the shipowners by refusing to carry on the struggle with all means, inside and outside the law!" As a result, Dutch seamen flocked in droves into the communist camp.
The Dutch shipowners made attempts to man their marooned vessels with Chinese seamen, some three hundred of whom were scattered in Oriental boarding houses along the harbor front of Rotterdam. At the suggestion of Willem Schaap and his Chinese assistant we decided to scare off the Chinese sailors by what Comrade Schaap chose to refer to as "psychological terror." The head of the Red Front Fighters’ League in Rotterdam was appointed to the job of "chief psychologist." He armed himself with a band of Party guerrillas and a list of Chinese boarding houses. Some members of this host posed as officials of the Dutch Federation of Seamen, others as members of the Rotterdam alien police. They made the rounds of the boarding houses and threatened the jobless Oriental mariners with "immediate deportation to China" if they should dare to occupy the berths of striking Netherlands seamen. A few Chinese who disregarded this order were slugged with sandbags. The great majority, however, stoically succumbed to Comrade Schaap’s "psychological" treatment.
Meanwhile play and counterplay aboard the Rotterdam continued. Captain van Dulken pretended to capitulate to the crew’s demands to tie up his ship in Rotterdam. But in the middle of the night, he secretly changed course, again heading for New York. At sunrise the communist stokers discovered the skipper’s trick. The sun should have risen over the bows. Instead it rose over the stern. The ship was steaming west. Again the fires were killed, again the big ship drifted helplessly between Cape Lizard and Ushant.
"Back to Rotterdam," the action committee threatened, "or we will put the scow on the Cornwall rocks."
Captain van Dulken had no choice. Aboard the Rotterdam the communists were masters. The helm was put hard over once more. In the night of Monday, September 5, the big ship dropped anchor off North Hinder Lightship, and her captain wirelessed the Dutch Admiralty: "Mutiny—request aid."
In Rotterdam harbor marines were loaded aboard a pilot ship to go out and down the mutineers. The gunboat Meerlant was dispatched by the Admiralty to escort the Rotterdam into port. I had foreseen this emergency, and prepared for it. An "activist" squad distributed leaflets among the embarking marines. "Proletarians in uniform," the leaflets said, "refuse to arrest your brothers aboard the Rotterdam! Their fight is your fight. Remember the glorious tradition of the Potemkin mutineers!" There was a minor disturbance when a small group of marines refused to participate in the expedition against the Rotterdam rebels. However, they were quickly disarmed and arrested.
Between two and three in the morning of September 6, the embattled liner was brought into Rotterdam. The decks were occupied by a company of marines; the gunboat Meerlant followed close astern. Ten ringleaders were arrested and flung into prison, charged with mutiny and sedition. Among them were our seven German comrades.
Far grimmer was the outcome of another mutiny which took place, under the Dutch flag, on the other side of the world a few short months later. Its preparation and its technique were closely linked with the lessons gained in the rebellion aboard the Rotterdam, and were the results of the silent efforts of the M-Department—the Military Section—of the Comintern.
There are branches of the M-Department in all major Communist Parties. They are the active organs of "Revolutionary Defeatism," the arms of the Kremlin in the armies and navies of other countries. The units of the M-Department were trained to carry on untiring, obstinate and systematic revolutionary propaganda within the armed forces of capitalist nations. The aim of this campaign, as we well knew, was the complete disintegration of discipline and morale in "imperialist" armies and navies. The recruiting for the Communist Party of former members of armies and navies was also considered of great value. Ex-soldiers and sailors were used to establish and build up contacts with men still under the colors. In the event of war, this whole Apparat was expected to organize military sabotage, mutinies and soldiers’ strikes whenever the interest of the Soviet Union dictated such action. The analytical reviews of the well-known naval mutinies in the Black Sea, in Toulon, in the German Imperial Fleet, of the British Fleet at Invergordon, and of the Chilean warships were required reading for all responsible functionaries in the Maritime Section of the Comintern and the M-Department.
Particularly strong were the communist positions inside the navies of Germany, Denmark, France, and Holland. There existed since 1931 special schools in Rouen, Hamburg and Rotterdam for the training of communists for naval work. In the middle of September, 1932, after the strike of Dutch seamen had ended, I was ordered to put eight members of the Dutch Young Communist League through a ten-day course of training in naval work. The eight young communists were scheduled for military service in the armed forces of their country. Being seamen by profession, they would enter the navy and were expected to apply for service in the East Indian squadron of the Dutch fleet.
I regarded this as a minor assignment. The ten days went by like a holiday. The schooling of the eager youngsters took place in the building of the International Club, 7 Willemskade, a house overlooking the wide inner harbor of Rotterdam, with liners and warships in plain sight of the apprentices in naval conspiracy.
The last of my lectures was also attended by a young Chinese Comintern agent, who had arrived from Moscow on his way to Indonesia. This comrade, a quiet, attentive man, sat silently in a corner, listening and occasionally taking notes. Willem Schaap introduced him to me as "Leo Chang."
"What has he got to do with the Dutch navy?" I inquired. "He’s going to take care of the Colonial Squadron," Schaap replied.
"Leo Chang," after a string of conferences with the M-Department in Rotterdam, departed for Batavia. I returned to Hamburg, and was soon too immersed in other duties to pay much attention to what the Comintern units in the Dutch navy and "Leo Chang" were cooking up in Indonesia. What happened four months later in Far Eastern waters was so startling that it overshadowed for a brief spell in our minds even the gathering Nazi holocaust. However, because the events occurred a few days after Hitler became Chancellor and at a time when the United States was in the midst of a grave financial crisis, they remain to this day a little-known chapter of our times.
The naval garrison at Soerabaja, Java, rose in revolt. The Dutch Government, seeing the very existence of its vast East Indian empire imperiled, acted swiftly. Four hundred and twenty-five of the Soerabaja mutineers were put in irons and thrown into prison.
The Comintern shouted: "Down with the imperialists! Liberate the prisoners of Soerabaja!" It was too fine an opportunity to miss.
In Kotoraj, a small port of northern Sumatra, lay the Dutch battleship De Zeven Provincien. Aboard this warship, the M-Department of the Comintern had a strong unit, and also an action committee composed of Dutch and Javanese marines. "Chang," the Comintern emissary, had studied in Moscow, among other things, the feat of the Potemkin mutineers in the Czar’s Navy. A courier arrived from Singapore, the Comintern headquarters for the Dutch East Indies, with instructions. The sailors of De Zeven Provincien were to seize the warship, steam for Java coast, and bombard the naval station of Soerabaja. Such an action could well serve as a signal for the hoisting of red flags on all other naval units, and a general rising in the Dutch East Indies.
The commander and officers, except nine, of De Zeven Provincien were ashore in Kotaraj. Shortly before dawn on February 5, the mutineers struck. At bayonet point, eight of the nine remaining officers were handcuffed. One escaped by jumping overboard; he swam ashore. Then, just before daylight, the mutineers steamed out to sea with the captured battleship. They set course for Java.
Immediately Moscow hailed this abduction of a warship as a significant and tremendous success. Comrade Dimitrov, in Berlin, ordered me to issue a manifesto in support of the mutiny. "Navy men of all countries," I wrote, "prepare to follow the glorious example of the De Zeven Provincien mutineers!" This proclamation was printed in German, Dutch, English, Scandinavian and French editions, and distributed clandestinely aboard the warships of the respective nations.
Simultaneously, the Comintern machine in Holland as well as in the Netherlands Indies went into action. Meetings were called. Proclamations, printed on miniature presses, previously smuggled to Singapore and Batavia, were distributed by the hundreds of thousands. They called the workers to solidarity actions, to demonstrations and strikes as a necessary prelude to armed insurrection.
Already the Dutch crews of other warships had rebelled. Forty-five of the ringleaders were arrested. Flying squadrons ordered to pursue De Zeven Provincien were delayed because the workers of the airplane base had gone on strike. Whipped on by action committees, part of the native laboring population of Soerabaja went on strike. Many were arrested.
In the capital of the Netherlands, the government met hastily. Decrees were issued to counteract subversive schemes in the Colonies. Members of the army and navy were subjected to punishment for having communist literature in their possession.
Meanwhile, Comrade "Chang" issued orders to seize the navy arsenal in Soerabaja to arm the revolutionary proletariat.
The mutineers of De Zeven Provincien were steaming down the coast of Sumatra. From Celebes a loyal squadron of cruisers and destroyers steamed full speed through Java Sea to intercept the mutineers.
It is an ironical fact that a government spy among the crew of De Zeven Provincien had warned her skipper of the impending mutiny. But the skipper, comfortably ashore for the night, had laughed. Two hours later the abduction of the battleship had taken place. Now, with seven officers and twenty marines, he was speeding aboard the government vessel Aldebaran in pursuit of his runaway command. But De Zeven Provincien was faster. It was not easy to catch her. Besides, her armament included 11-inch guns. In the Comintern, we fervently—and foolishly—hoped that the roar of these 11-inch guns would set an end to 300 years of Dutch rule over the islands of spices!
In Batavia, a squadron of flying boats, armed with machine guns and bombs, was taking off to sea under sealed orders. Two submarines, two destroyers and a mine-layer joined in the hunt for De Zeven Provincien. Reinforcements were sent to protect the arsenals of Soerabaja. There, the loyal cruiser Java and the destroyers Evertsen and Piet Hein lay in wait to meet the approaching mutineers. The commander of the kidnaped battleship had shifted to the faster vessel Eridanus, which glued itself to the wake of De Zeven Provincien, constantly signaling the latter’s position.
Then came defeat. The solidarity actions ashore petered out. The mutineers were now alone. Trouble broke out in their own ranks; they sent contradictory radio messages into the world and De Zeven Provincien, heading down the western coast of Sumatra, made no more than seven knots. M. Wibaut, a leading Socialist, publicly condemned the attitude of the mutineers. Mass meetings pledged themselves to support the government. The Comintern, recognizing defeat, coldly abandoned the mutineers to their fate. The mutineers, seeing themselves deserted, offered to surrender, provided their liberty would be guaranteed.
The government replied: "No negotiations! Unconditional surrender!" Army units were concentrated in western Java to prevent a landing of the mutineers. In addition to the assembled East Indian squadron, six seaplanes, a cable ship and a navy tug joined the hunt.
After five days the combined government forces cornered De Zeven Provincien off southern Sumatra. The mutineers had no anti-aircraft guns. A sea plane dropped a message.
"Surrender or we open fire," the message said.
The mutineers refused to hoist the white flag. Stubbornly De Zeven Provincien continued on her course.
"Surrender!" another signal repeated.
"Stand off!" was the curt retort of the mutineers.
Planes roared overhead. They dropped bombs. A direct hit abaft the bridge set De Zeven Provincien afire, killing 22 mutineers and wounding 25 others. In a panic the mutineers rushed for the boats. The government forces were prepared to annihilate the captured and imprisoned officers together with the insurgents. To the last minute the members of the action committee sent radio messages condemning wage cuts and demanding justice.
The bitter end had come. The survivors were clapped into prison. Later a court martial in Soerabaja condemned 19 Javanese and 5 Dutch ringleaders to penal servitude ranging from 1 to 18 years.

Firelei was too happy for words to see me back home. I thought her more beautiful, more lovable than ever. It was September 25, 1932. Two days later our son was born. I stood at the head of Firelei’s bed, holding her hands, oblivious of the hours. On the wall above the bed was a picture showing Lenin in a pensive pose. A Party physician and a nurse from the corps of communist Samaritans attended. Firelei fought bravely, as any woman does who is not afraid of life. To me it seemed that the birth of a child was a greater event in the existence of the individual than a revolution. They had much in common, birth and revolution. Both were violent. Both were paid for with struggle, pain, blood. Both marked the beginning of new life, and no one could tell beforehand what course it would finally take. Something red and ugly and slimy was belched into the world.
"A boy," the doctor grunted.
"A boy," Firelei cried in wondrous exhilaration. "Do you hear? A boy! Oh, how beautiful!" And then, whispering fearfully: "He doesn’t cry! Why doesn’t he cry?" And a moment later: "Oh, did you hear? He cried! He got spanked and he cried! Oh, how beautiful, how beautiful!" Firelei’s gentle, happy voice filled our Spartan apartment and all the universe with the cry: "How beautiful!" Then she relaxed, contented.
We called the child Jan.

Chapter Twenty-four - THE SWASTIKA CASTS ITS SHADOW

ONE DAY I ASKED ERNST Thälmann:
"What will happen when Adolf Hitler seizes power?"
"Let him," he answered, "he won’t last long. The workers will rise. There will be civil war."
In the spring of 1932 a working alliance between the powerful Socialist and Communist Parties of Germany would have dammed the tide and thereby changed the course of world history. This conviction grows out of my experience as an active participant in one of the embattled armies, for it is as such that I am writing of the events preceding the rise of Hitler to power, and not as a would-be objective historian or eyewitness.
Early in 1932 the Hitlerites already had control of the governments of Thuringia and Brunswick, but Prussia—which is two-thirds of Germany—was still firmly in socialist hands. On March 17, the socialist-controlled police of Prussia, to thwart a planned storm-trooper march on Berlin, raided Nazi headquarters in Berlin and in hundreds of lesser towns. On April 17, a government decree outlawed the military organization of the Nazi Party. Police raided and closed the strongholds of the Brown Guards.
The prohibition of the storm-troop organizations became a farce, though it had been based on serious intentions. The military formations of the Nazis continued to exist, and to grow. The only visible effect of the new law was that the Hitler guards wore white shirts instead of brown ones.
Thirteen million Nazis were confronted by eight million Social Democrats and half that number of militant Catholics. The balance of power lay in the hands of the Communist Party and its five million followers. For a time it seemed as if the March and April raids on the Nazi fortresses signaled the beginning of a gen­eral offensive to drive Hitlerism into impotent obscurity. The com­munist rank and file was eager to pitch in and help. But in Moscow, at the Eleventh Session of the Executive Committee of the Comin­tern, D. Z. Manuilsky, the mouthpiece of Stalin in the Communist International, rose and said:

"In order to deceive the masses, the Social Democrats deliberately proclaim that the chief enemy of the working class is Fascism. It is not true that Fascism of the Hitler type represents the chief enemy . . ."

Manuilsky’s voice was the voice of the Kremlin. To communists the world over it was law. It created a hideous confusion among the leaders of the German Party. Sickly half-measures were the result, a swinging between extremes which ranged all the way from outright co-operation with the Hitler movement to murderous ambushes against isolated storm-trooper detachments.
Election battles followed each other like waves before a storm. Each time I returned to Germany during 1932, I found myself in the middle of a wild election fight. The armies which were pitted against each other in those months were more numerous than the armies which fought the World War.
The rough figures of two elections, the first and the last of democratic Germany, tell eloquently how much democracy was worth in Germany in 1932:
In the National Assembly elections of 1919 the parties which supported the democratic Weimar Constitution commanded 25,723,000 votes. The parties which condemned the Weimar Constitution received only 4,667,000.
In the last free Reichstag elections in November, 1932, the Democratic Front mustered 13,314,000 adherents, while the legions of absolutism and dictatorship had surged up to 21,337,000.
In the fourteen years of its existence, German democracy thus lost 12,670,000 of its one-time supporters, while the parties pledged to put democracy to death had won 16,670,000 new fighters.

Adolf Hitler had sent a special emissary to Hamburg to direct a drive to smash the organizational monopoly which the Communist Party had attained in a large part of the German merchant marine. Hitler’s agent was one Heines, one of the crowd of former officers with which the Nazi Party fairly swarmed, a blood-thirsty ruffian of Captain Roehm’s crew of pederasts. This Heines had been condemned to death for murder in the 1920’s, but was freed by the Hindenburg Amnesty. In 1933 Hitler made Heines police president of Breslau. Heines was executed by the Gestapo in the Nazi "Blood Purge" of June, 1934.
A day after Heines arrived in Hamburg, the Communist Reichstag deputy Heinz Neumann made his appearance. Long a specialist in the art of terror, he proceeded to dictate to the Hamburg Party chiefs the details of an offensive of bloodshed. "Blut muss fliessen—blood must flow," was the young Berliner’s favorite phrase. Neumann was feared in the Party. He was known as a favorite of Stalin.
"Give me a man I can use to make hell hot for Nazi Heines in Hamburg," he demanded. The Hamburg Party head, Herrmann Schubert, assigned me to do Neumann’s bidding in the anti-Heines campaign.
"Our most vicious fault is our womanish humaneness," were the Berliner’s first words to me in an interview which took place in my Hamburg apartment. "Why not rid ourselves of this indecent squeamishness? The Hitler bandits! The rock-headed Social Democratic saboteurs! With such people words are useless!"
Heinz Neumann was not representative of the general type of Party leader. To a certain degree he had preserved his indepen­dence of thought; he demanded discipline, but hated it himself, and the keynote of his character was a reckless and brilliant irresponsibility. He had a fine, intelligent face, and a ready smile. His eyes were large and cruel. He acted as if the world had been created for him, Heinz Neumann, to move in. His contempt for the simple, plodding worker bespoke his bourgeois ancestry. To many young female communists he was still the romantic knight of revolutionary adventure. He could take them and throw them away whenever he liked. Among Party belles the phrase, "I have slept with Heinz Neumann," sounded like the proud equivalent of "I have received the Order of the Red Banner." Comrade Neumann was obsessed with a craving for ruthless action. To him, every socialist worker who rejected Soviet leadership was equal to the most rabid Brownshirt, and therefore ripe for the knife or the bullet. "The socialists are social-fascists," he liked to snarl in the middle of a conference. "They are the left-wing of the Hitler movement." But, like most killers who have their subordinates do the killing, Heinz Neumann was a physical coward.
His instructions as to the methods of frustrating the Heines cam­paign on the Hamburg waterfront can be summed up in a single sentence: "Break up the first seamen’s meeting called by Heines, and shoot down every Brownshirt on sight."
The first part of this order I carried out. I entered the meetings with a force of several hundred communist sailors and dockers, and burst them asunder. I rejected Heinz Neumann’s proposal of mass murder after the Nazis had fled out of the hall into the streets, because I knew that the storm-troops would inevitably retaliate. The loathsome aspect of the frequent shooting affairs was that as often as not innocent passers-by, including women, had been the victims. Neumann was furious about my "squeamishness." His fury seemed justified after a picked force of two hundred Nazi Elite Guards in their turn blasted a communist meeting which eight hundred men and women attended. At about this time—the beginning of May—the Marine Storm of the Nazi Party had established a stronghold on the Schaarmarkt, in the heart of the Hamburg waterfront district.
Neumann, his thin face invaded by a nervous pallor and his eyes spurting cold rage, insisted, "We must show the Hitler bandits that they cannot settle down with impunity on the Red waterfront. I give you ten days’ time. Ich will Leichen sehen—I want to see corpses."
Of the seven Party leaders present not one dared to object. Trembling from head to foot, I said:
"Comrade Neumann, I am a bad hand at butchery. My field is organization and communication." With that, I left the confer­ence, and have been thankful for it ever since. Had I followed Neumann’s orders, I should not be alive today. The men who took my place in the Berliner’s cortege of terrorists all died horribly.
Heinz Neumann entrusted the job of producing Nazi corpses along the harbor of Hamburg to Johnny Dettmer, a reckless blond giant I had known already in 1923, when he had engaged in smuggling Russian rifles into Germany to arm the Red Hundreds. Comrade Dettmer was not "squeamish." At the head of the "Red Marines," a section of the Party’s outlawed military organization, he produced corpses in sufficient numbers to gladden even the heart of Heinz Neumann.
Early one morning a squad of seven young Nazis were on their way to distribute propaganda to the dockers at the harbor gates.
Johnny Dettmer’s crew sauntered up behind them on Admiralty Street, and shot all seven in the back. In the dawn of another morning, members of the Hitler Youth, boys and girls, were marching toward an excursion steamer they had chartered for a holiday trip. The approaches to the excursion piers led through park-like surroundings. Behind trees and bushes Johnny Dettmer’s crew lay in ambush. Boys and girls, none of them over sixteen, were hit indiscriminately by dumdum bullets from the guns of the Red Marines. On another occasion, on the night of May 19, 2932, a group of young Nazis on their way home from a meeting were pounced on by Red Marines in a dark street (Herrengraben), and dragged into the doorways of near-by houses. Here eight or nine of them were lacerated with knives. One Nazi had his eyes stabbed out with a screw driver. Another, the storm-trooper Heinzelmann, was stabbed eleven times. Members of the Red Marines then sat on their victim, slashed off his genitals, and severed his vertebrae. I and other comrades with me were stiff with horror on hearing the details of these exploits. But we had learned how to hold our tongues. In the Party, heresies were discovered with a facility and ingenuity that out-rivaled the Spanish Inquisition. The purpose of these instances of screaming terrorism—to frighten the Brownshirts away from the waterfront—was not achieved. The Hitler bands continued to push their spearheads into the working-class domain with unshakable courage and tenacity.
After this series of wholesale murders, Heinz Neumann suddenly vanished from the stage of German and International Bolshevism. Intrigues spun against him by the Thälmann-Pieck leadership became his undoing. Ernst Thälmann seized upon Neumann’s heretical interpretation of the bastard conception of "Social-Fascist" to break one of his most talented rivals. The later misadventures of the Berlin millionaire’s son are not without a searing irony. Neumann was exiled to Moscow, where he sulked for nearly two years. When the aging Wilhelm Pieck, Thälmann’s nominal successor and the young Berliner’s bitter enemy, arrived in Moscow after the German debacle, Neumann was commissioned to go to Germany to lead the "underground" movement against Hitler. Such an assignment was tantamount to a death sentence. Instead, Neumann went to Switzerland and launched a campaign to send Comrade Pieck to Germany in his place. Neumann was ordered to return to Russia—and refused. The G.P.U. then denounced him to the Swiss police, who arrested Neumann on a charge of having entered Switzerland on false passports. The Nazi government demanded that the Swiss authorities surrender Neumann to the Gestapo to face charges of murder and treason. Neumann’s choice was: Germany—or Russia. He chose Russia, recanted, humiliated himself before the Central Control Commis­sion in Moscow, and won Stalin’s forgiveness. In 1936, just before the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, Neumann appeared in Spain with a mandate from the Comintern, and using the name of Enrique Fisher. He plunged straight into a jurisdictional quarrel with the G.P.U. machine in Madrid. He was seized by the G.P.U. in Spain and brought back to the Soviet Union at the height of Stalin’s great purge. Heinz Neumann, the chief terrorist of the Comintern and the author of the slogan, "Strike the Nazi wherever you meet him!" died from a bullet fired by Stalin’s executioner.
In 1937, in Copenhagen, I had occasion to ask Ernst Wollweber:
"Why was Comrade Neumann executed?"
"Don’t call him ’comrade!’ " the Silesian had growled, "he was a spy of the Gestapo."

Hitler’s finest involuntary allies were we, the communists. Our rank and file, in its largely instinctive struggle against the Nazi advance, was checked almost weekly by the infallibles in our high councils in Moscow and Berlin. How often was I admonished by my superiors, and admonished in turn the comrades working under my direction: "Don’t concentrate your efforts on Hitler; hew to the Line; we must deliver our hardest blows against the ’Social-Fascists’—the Social Democratic Party! They and their trade unions must be smashed if we are to win the majority of the workers for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!" We followed instructions with vigor, for we had been trained to subject ourselves to an exact control and to a personal discipline that savored more of Bismarck than of the Karl Marx we worshiped.
Firelei saw through it all.
"We are as loyal as phonograph records," she once remarked to me.
"That is our strength," I had answered. "To conquer the earth we must have a World Party without a division of opinion in its ranks."
"An Eiffel tower of phonograph plates, all playing the Inter­nationale," Firelei smiled back at me.
I had become angry. Intolerance was the air we breathed. Firelei was too good a soldier to break from the ranks.
In the spring of 1932, the democratic parties in Germany joined forces for their one and only major attempt to stem the Nazi stormflood by a concerted counter-drive "within the boundaries of Constitution and law." They formed a cartel of organizations which, numerically and financially, was far stronger than the Hitler movement. They named the cartel the Iron Front, and established the Aktivisierung — activization — of all republican resources against Hitler as its aim. The daily Nazi average of two thousand mass meetings was to be countered by an equal number of "Stop Hitler" rallies. The leaders of the Iron Front proclaimed their intention to reconquer Germany by a continuous barrage of mass meetings. They copied the Nazi and communist propaganda technique, but emasculated their campaign from the start by rejecting the use of strong-arm methods alongside their propaganda. Shock-brigades of trade-unionists — Hammerschaften [53] —were formed to protect the meetings and propaganda squads of the Iron Front against storm-troop raids.
No sooner had the Iron Front launched its counter-offensive than all the units of the Communist Party received instructions to sabotage the enterprises of the Iron Front at every turn. This we did. Propaganda detachments of the Iron Front were forcibly re­lieved of their arms and of the leaflets and papers they had set out to distribute. Iron Front meetings were disrupted by packing the halls in advance with storm-troopers and communists. Communists professing to be democrats entered the Iron Front organizations by the hundreds for the sole purpose of creating confusion. And accompanying these underhanded jabs was a tremendous campaign in the Nazi and the communist press. The leaders of the Iron Front, backed by the government of Chancellor Brüning, made only feeble efforts to strike back. A dozen communist newspapers were suppressed, and a score of communist editors sent to prison for "literary high treason." When the Nazi storm-trooper organi­zations were outlawed by decree, in April, the directors of the Iron Front had the power to follow up this measure with a general offensive, but they lacked the pluck. They were afraid of revolution. They were afraid, it seemed, even of their own power.
The government of Chancellor Brüning, which had been supported by the democratic bloc, was dismissed on May 30, 1932. Democracy’s attempt to rule by decree had ended in failure. Franz von Papen, ex-spy and lion of the Gentlemen’s Club of intriguing noblemen, became Chancellor, and General Schleicher, the head of the Reichswehr, his Minister of War. Hitler had given his word of honor to support the Papen Cabinet—on two conditions: immediate dissolution of the Reichstag and new elections, and repeal of the government ban against the storm-troops. The conditions were granted. Rearming of the nation became the chief topic among the adherents of the new regime. "Death to Bolshevism" was the war-cry under which rearming was to be accomplished without stirring up noisome attention abroad, particularly in France. The storm-troops unleashed a new wave of terror. The number of political killings reached a new high during the first week of June. Hitler presented the Papen Government with a sudden ultimatum. The ultimatum demanded the proclamation of martial law, suppression of the Communist Party, and control of the Prussian police by National Socialists. Von Papen refused; Hitler threatened to let "events take their course"; von Papen, fearing that the Hitler movement would surge upward beyond the government’s control, prepared for a coup de main himself.
The Nazi storm brigades were reported to be concentrating in huge camps around Berlin. The Reichswehr had been put in a state of highest alarm. The storm-troopers spoke openly of the coming "night of long knives." Chancellor von Papen prepared to strike in Prussia; a reactionary Nationalist government in the Reich and a socialist-controlled government in the largest German state were incompatible bed-fellows. The cry, "Drive the Marxists out of the Prussian ministries!" swelled to a thunderous surf. Prussia was democracy’s last fortress. Upon my return from England, I repaired post-haste to a meeting in the Karl Liebknecht House.
It was an extraordinary meeting. The whole Central Committee of the Party was assembled there, together with the leaders of all auxiliary organizations and the members of the traveling corps. It was a stormy meeting which lasted from eight in the evening to five in the morning. A dozen factions were at loggerheads; roars and screams punctuated the debates, and at times I thought that the élite of German Bolshevism would come to blows. Some advocated that the full fury of the Party should be turned against Hitler. Some spoke for a last-minute alliance with the Social Democrats. Others held that a violent Nazi coup would drive the socialist workers into the communist camp. However, the tenet that the socialists were the main foe of Soviet power prevailed. Ernst Thälmann raged like a maddened bull, formidably seconded by Hugo Eberlein, the Party treasurer, Herrmann Schubert, the Vice President and by Willy Leow, Leo Flieg, Fritz Schulte and other members of the Reichstag and the Central Committee. Ernst Wollweber and Hans Kippenberger sat silently, and so did Hotopp, a leader of the League of Proletarian Writers. In the end, all proposals to form an honest alliance with the Social Democrats were defeated. The old line prevailed.
"You communists, by your policy of disrupting the front of labor, are chiefly responsible for the counter-revolutionary up­surge in Germany," challenged the socialist press.
"Traitors!" screamed the communist press in answer. "Bridge builders of Fascism!"
Today, looking back on that assembly of confusion in the Karl Liebknecht House is looking upon an assembly of corpses. After the Reichstag Fire, most of the participants in that savage, but fruitless, meeting succeeded in escaping the Gestapo. Stripped of their power, they met again in Moscow, of no further use to their masters in the Kremlin. The G.P.U. proceeded to complete the job which the Gestapo had wished, but failed, to do. Kippenberger and Schubert, Leo Flieg, Birkenhauer and Hugo Eberlein; the Rote Fahne [54] editors, Süsskind and Knoth and Nofke; Thälmann’s secretaries, Werner Hirsch and Meyer; the leading Prussian communists, Dr. Lothar Wolf and Dr. Fritz Halle; the writers Hotopp, C. Haus, Kurt Sauerland and Emel; Fritz Schulte and Heinrich Kurella—the editors of Imprecorr; Bertha Gropper, the garçonne of the communist Reichstag delegation; and others whose names could fill page after page—they all were destined to join Heinz Neumann in the graveyards of the G.P.U.
Hitler, Göring, Goebbels and their host of four thousand speakers roared over the land in airplanes and high-powered cars. Night after night they descended in German towns to speak to the masses. No community was too remote or too obscure for their invasion: Königsberg on Thursday, Cassel on Friday, Hamburg on Saturday. Hitler tore through the air in the day, and at night he hypnotized the multitudes into a chauvinistic frenzy.
Our leader, Ernst Thälmann, proclaimed that the sharpening of the conflict now gave our policy "the strategic slogan of the People’s Revolution." Words! We all knew that we were not strong enough to make a revolution. The Reichswehr was full of hidden Nazis. The German police outside of Prussia was infested with Nazis. There was only one force in the land strong enough to crush the Brownshirts and Steel Helmets in open civil war. The trade unions, controlled by the Social Democratic Party, were that force. But its leaders flinched at the prospect of civil war.
The Communist Party set out to play a most desperate game. Secret instructions were dispatched to all unit leaders, ordering the seizure of the next opportunity to provoke a mass slaughter between the storm-troops and the workers. A great number of killed working people, it was hoped, would incite the masses of trade unionists to counter-action over the heads of their own leaders. The Communist Party would then put itself at the head of the angry masses with the demand for a general strike and the arming of organized labor. The aim was to bring about civil war and complete alienation of the socialist masses from their traditional leadership. The scheme was as criminal as it was absurd. But we communists, living in a make-believe world of our own, went forward with the optimism of megalomaniacs from Mars.
The awakening was rude. It began on a Sunday in July. The high command of the storm-troops had ordered all Brownshirt formations of the North Sea districts to assemble for a march through the communist quarters of Hamburg-Altona. Immediately the Communist Party concentrated its military formations in Hamburg for a counter-demonstration. The intention was to have the two armed parades, each counting tens of thousands of marchers, to clash head-on in narrow streets. In addition, every able-bodied communist not participating in the demonstration was assigned to one of the many points of assembly in the suburbs. Each brigade thus assembled was supplied with a list of names and addresses of Nazi and Steel Helmet functionaries in the district. In the event the meeting of the two demonstrations in Altona did result in a massacre, our orders were to invade the homes of known Hitler followers and to make short shrift of all who fell into our hands. An elaborate courier service connected the scores of shock-brigades with the communist supreme command of three—Herrmann Schubert, the Hamburg Party chief, Ernst Wollweber, representing the Central Committee, and Edgar André, the chief of the military Apparat. A greater number of armed communists lay in wait in the tenements that Sunday morning than on the eve of the ill-fated armed insurrection of October, 1923. Squads of girls and women were in readiness to take care of the wounded and those eventually hunted by police. "Der Tag der langen Messer"—"the day of long knives"—was in the offing.
The socialist police chief of Altona, Eggerstedt, outlawed the planned communist counter-demonstration at the last moment. At the same time, he reaffirmed the permission given to the Nazis to march, and furnished them with police protection. (The same Eggerstedt was later murdered in cold blood in a Gestapo concentration camp near Papenburg two days after his arrival there.) Communist spies in the storm-troops ferreted out the route the Nazi parade was to take. Armed units of Red Front Fighters were stationed in advance on the roofs of houses along the route of the storm-troop invasion. Charged with leading the sailors’ and dockers’ units of the Party, I had these forces, some eight hundred strong, assembled in a large number of waterfront taverns all along the wide river front of Hamburg and Altona. Our ordre du jour was to rout all Hitlerites from the ships and out of the harbor after the massacre of the Nazi demonstration in Altona had become a success.
The storm-troops marched. They marched with bands crashing and swastikas flying. Their demonstration was flanked by police. Police lorries with machine guns preceded and followed the marchers. The parade entered the sinuous old districts of the city, winding forward like an immense brown snake. The blare of trumpets and the rolling of the drums reverberated from the walls of dingy houses. The side streets along the route seethed with many thousands of workers and their womenfolk, shaking fists, hurling rocks and garbage at the Brownshirts, and shouting abuse.
The storm-troops marched like one machine. The faces of the youngsters were set and pale. At minute intervals, at a signal of detachment leaders, they broke into a hollow roar:
"Death to the Red Pest! Germany—arise!"
Then the first shots cracked from the roofs. The roofs were too slanting and the streets too narrow to take a direct aim at the marching troopers. The shooting was directed at the bases of houses facing the snipers. The ricocheting bullets flew then into the Brownshirt columns. Some women who had been watching the parade from the windows of their apartments were hit and fell screaming. The storm-troopers crowded into the houses to trap the attackers on the roofs. Garbage cans hurtled out of windows.
Police trucks pounded into battle. Machine guns raked the roofs and the windows. Policemen hurled gas grenades and people ran like cockroaches. The storm-troops were broken up in irregular, badly shaken groups. Some continued their march; most of them fled. The communist Feuergruppen [55], who had set out to annihilate the Brownshirts, now found themselves locked in a hopeless combat with the police. The "day of long knives" ended in failure and bewilderment. Our waiting units around the field of battle waited vainly for the order to strike. Eighteen dead and two hundred wounded littered the cobbled streets. Many more wounded and a few dying men were hidden in the homes of com­munists, where they were attended by communist Samaritans. When I returned home, still dazed by the disaster, Firelei met me at the door. "Be quiet," she said, "we have three wounded comrades here."
"Will they pull through?"
She nodded. "Such a day poisons the heart," she added in a low voice.
This was the "Bloody Sunday of Altona," which precipitated the ill-famed but historical "Rape of Prussia." The Western Secretariat of the Comintern could have done Hitler no greater favor than to provoke the Altona massacre. Chancellor von Papen seized upon the pretext that the Social Democratic Government of Prussia had proved itself unable to preserve law and order in that state, and demanded evacuation of the Berlin government buildings by Ministers Severing and Braun. These two Social Democratic heads of the Prussian Government in turn branded the ultimatum of von Papen as unconstitutional, and announced that they would yield only to brute violence. Von Papen’s coup d’état became an accomplished fact on July 20, a few days after the butchery in Altona. A newly-appointed police president of Berlin, accompanied by fifteen soldiers, invaded the Prussian Government palace and arrested the ministers. The socialist chieftains followed the soldiers to the Reichswehr barracks, where they were released a few low hours later against their pledge to do nothing. Thus, a handful of men had put out of office, in violation of the Weimar Constitution, a body of Prussian Government officials who had at least thirty thousand armed and trained policemen under their rightful command.
The communist masses were on the streets. Millions of manifestoes calling for a general strike were distributed by our "activist" brigades. Mass arrests of communists followed. The Social Democratic forces did not stir. Too thoroughly already had the hearts of the workers been poisoned by brother-strife and mutual dis­trust. A clever and ruthless young man, Dr. Herrmann Diels, who had been von Papen’s spy in the Prussian Cabinet, and who also was Hitler’s spy in the Papen machine, was made head of the Political Police of Prussia. The formal organization of what was to become the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei)—already existing in embryo within the Nazi Party——was begun by Diels on July 20, 1932.
Fourteen Nazis and communists were killed on July 31, the day of the new Reichstag election. Nazis emerged as the strongest political movement in the country. The Socialists still maintained the second place. The Communist Party came third. On August 13, Adolf Hitler, in reply to his clamorous insistence, was offered a share in the government. He rejected the offer. He wanted all—or nothing. On August 30, Captain Göring became the President of the Reichstag. But that body proved itself again unable to function; there was no majority capable of forming a government. The deputies rejected the Papen Government by a vote of 513 against 32. Whereupon Chancellor von Papen dissolved the Reichstag. That happened on September 12. New elections were scheduled to take place on November 6. I returned from my assignment in Holland in time to plunge into the caldron.

In the savagery of the election war which filled all of October to the brim neither I nor my comrades found time for an hour’s reflection or a single night’s normal sleep. For the moment we shelved all international duties to bring every ounce of our strength to bear on the German field.
Every few days there was a general alarm of all Party members, alarms caused by rumors that Hitler had set the date for his march on Berlin. Thrice within a month I was arrested by Hamburg police; each time I spent the night in the cellars of the grim city prison; each time the cellars were crammed with communists, Steel Helmets, storm-troopers and members of lesser belligerent organizations. The political struggle did not cease even in the jails. It was the most active and most dreary month of my existence. The Party commanded, and I rushed like a robot, one among uncounted other robots, a cog in a hideous welter of senseless machinery. To Firelei and to me, the only non-combatant in our sphere seemed to be our son, little Jan. His robust smallness, when he drowsed in his basket or squirmed in his bath, was a delight to the many overworked and frantic or grimly-determined male and female revolutionists who stamped in and out of our rooms at all hours of the day and night. The astonished stares, the pensive smiles and the gruff chuckles of the comrades—in the presence of Jan—contained something of the expression on the face of a convict who hears a child’s guileless laughter penetrate his world of stone.
October also was a month of strikes. It was a standing order of the Comintern to organize strikes whenever and wherever possible, to disorganize production and transport, and thus to sharpen the conflicts and the distress caused by the economic and political crisis. Chancellor von Papen’s measures to fight unemployment provided an excellent soil for the growth of a wild strike wave. One-third of the German working population was jobless; it was this army of the workless which furnished the most devoted and reckless militants for the communist and storm-troop ranks. Von Papen’s plan was to increase the number of the employed without a corresponding increase in the national wage total. The Communist Party roused the masses to lay down their tools, and every strike was linked with the cry, "Away with the Papen regime!" Meanwhile the Hitler movement had also declared an open war against the government. Five storm-troopers who, in Silesia, had tortured to death a communist by shooting him thirty-five times while his mother was forced to look on, had been condemned to death by a Special Tribunal. Hitler, in answer, had publicly adopted the convicted murderers as his "blood brothers," and launched a frontal attack against von Papen. "Down with the Papen regime!" became also the war-cry of the Nazis. Communists and Brownshirts combined forces in a common effort to wreck the Papen plan by an avalanche of strikes.
November 3, at 4 A. M. on the eve of the elections, the strike wave culminated in the great Berlin transportation strike. Communists and Nazis stood shoulder to shoulder in the picket lines, in the raiding squads and in the action committees. Chancellor von Papen threatened martial law and the calling out of the Reichs­wehr. The National Socialists and the Communist Party countered with an armed concentration of their brigades in the environs and the suburbs of Berlin. The strike continued, dominating the elections of November. Hitler lost nearly two million votes and 33 mandates in the Reichstag.
We all breathed freer. The Party press burst out in jubilation. "Hitler’s Ship is Sinking!" the headlines announced. The socialists lost seven hundred thousand followers who had joined the communist camp. With almost six million votes, the Communist Party now commanded an even 100 mandates in the Reichstag. But in truth the battle had again ended in a stalemate. The Hitler move­ment, though on the decline, was still the strongest party in the land. No parliamentary majority was possible; again the Reichstag was a machine that could not run. The strikes went on. Twelve days later von Papen tendered his resignation.
General von Schleicher became Chancellor of the Reich on December 2. They called him the "Social General." Secret rearming of the nation with the aid of the trade union millions was the gist of his program. He sought to alleviate the acute factional bitterness in the country by a sweeping amnesty of political prisoners. Thousands of incarcerated communists and storm-troopers left the German jails; they were soldiers immediately returning to battle.
"Away with Schleicher!" raged the Nazi press.
"Down with the Schleicher Government!" the communists echoed.

Chapter Twenty-five - SCANDINAVIAN INTERLUDE

I WAS CALLED to Berlin on December 6, 1932, to report to Georgi Dimitrov. He looked fat and happy. Under the thunderclouds of July he had feared that the Western Secretariat of the Comintern, which he headed, would be forced to evacuate from Berlin. No such precaution, he thought, was necessary now. The nervousness which had invaded Comintern circles had subsided somewhat after Hitler’s election setback in November. Once more attention was turned away from the Brown Menace and directed toward the "chief enemy," the Social Democratic forces. Hitler was on the way out, Dimitrov assured me. "Hitler will never come to power," he insisted.
I met in Dimitrov’s office on the Wilhelmstrasse a secretary I had not seen there before, a girl of athletic build and mannish gait, who followed her master around like a faithful dog. Her name was Isa. She made coffee for us on an electric percolator while I received my instructions.
"Do you like to work with me?" the Bulgarian asked me.
"Yes," I smiled.
"I like to work with you, too. You are going to Scandinavia."
Two days I rummaged through the files of the Scandinavian countries, which were kept in a basement apartment in Berlin-Lankwitz, to gain background information on my new assignment. Without further delay I received my credentials, false passport and funds, and boarded the night express over Warnemünde-Gjedser to Copenhagen.
Controlling all Comintern operations in the north of Europe was Richard Jensen, a hulking oak of a man, a native of Denmark. Orders from Moscow were relayed to Jensen by way of Berlin, and Jensen forwarded them to the chiefs of the Central Party Committees—Aksel Larsen in Denmark, Sillen in Sweden, and Christiansen in Norway. This Dane was an extraordinary figure, a rough and domineering Viking, three hundred pounds of flesh and bone, capable of formidable cunning, yet addicted to gusts of rolling laughter. He was seven feet tall and he drank immensely. He drank beer before breakfast, beer was constantly on the desk in his office, and at night, in bed, he drank beer before he was ready to fall asleep. All who knew him, liked him. Others came and went like so many shadows over the Comintern scene, and disappeared, burnt out or discarded or killed,—but Jensen endured through the years. He was a former workingman who liked to spend his money like a lord, and he was one of that small group of foreign Bolsheviks who seemed to enjoy Stalin’s unflinching trust.
Four times each year Jensen journeyed to Moscow, occasionally to Berlin and Paris, but he liked best his home town, Copenhagen. His address, until I left the Soviet service in 1938, was the most constant and reliable of Comintern addresses: Vesterbrogade 70, some five minutes’ walk from Copenhagen’s Central Station and the Tivoli. The favorite amusement of this comrade consisted of having every visiting emissary—including the highest—drink himself senseless. It gave him a primeval pleasure to walk away in triumph while some self-important "man from Moscow" lay snoring on one of the thick rugs in his apartment. Richard Jensen’s wife, colorless but incorruptible, an able woman in her forties and two heads shorter than her husband, was a member of the G.P.U. Jensen’s son, Martin, also served in the Foreign Division of the G.P.U. While in Copenhagen, I was Jensen’s guest. I found my host a master in the difficult art of combining boisterous hospitality with the exacting requirements of conspirative work.
The Communist Party of Denmark was small but sound. It had four newspapers and eleven thousand members. It commanded an efficient military organization, a number of units in the Danish navy, and an exceptionally active group of cultured fellow-travelers led by a well-known Copenhagen architect, Paul Henningsen. Denmark was not an industrial country. Without its merchant marine and without its export of dairy products, the country would fall on extremely evil days. So the waterfront workers were, from the communist standpoint, the decisive portion of Danish labor. To break the socialist influence in the ports and to gather sufficient strength to threaten the Danish government with an export blockade—and thus make it malleable to the wishes of Moscow—was the principal aim of Comintern efforts in Denmark. To wield the cudgel of an export blockade with success, capture of the marine workers’ trade unions was essential. The Sailors’ Union and the Firemen’s Union of Denmark were rich and powerful organizations, affiliated with the Amsterdam Socialist International (ITF), under the fighting Dutchman Edo Fimmen. Their eventual capture by communist cells working from within and without was later hailed in Moscow as a classical example of how a foreign trade union must be conquered and harnessed to Soviet power.
The campaign was directed by Richard Jensen. Organized drives of character-assassination against the socialist leaders, bribery and blackmail of lesser employees, the installation of spies, caucus conspiracies, packed meetings, outright terror, the sending of delegations of union members to be feted in the Soviet Union, a ceaseless propaganda among Danish crews in foreign ports, free Soviet films, and smooth collaboration with the cultured elements, through the Danish Friends of the Soviet Union, were the familiar methods employed. The shipping industry in Copenhagen fell under communist control. Jensen saw to it that anti-Stalinist elements among the seamen were ousted from their berths. By the end of 1932, there was not one Danish ship which did not have a communist unit in its crew. Even the only two steamers plying regularly between Iceland and Hamburg, Dettyfoss and Godafoss, were manned by a majority of communists and served as courier ships for the G.P.U. At the next convention, Edo Fimmen flew to Copenhagen to save his union. He made a three-hour speech in German, and then Richard Jensen bribed Fimmen’s translator to fall ill. No other translator was at hand. The Dutchman returned to Amsterdam, beaten. The Firemen’s Union, its treasury of millions, and the buildings it owned in Copenhagen, became the virtual property of the Comintern, with Jensen in power, collarless and unshaven, but "more powerful than the King of Denmark."
My assignment consisted of a ten-day tour through the Danish ports to speak at union meetings as the "representative of the transport workers of the Soviet Union." Denmark was a most happy and liberal country. I traveled—as a "Russian delegate"—to Odense, Sonderburg, Aarhus, Esbjerg, Aalborg and some of the lesser harbor towns, hatching new schemes with the local groups, tearing down in my speeches Danish institutions, assaulting the trade union leaders and the socialist Stauning government, and not once was I bothered by the authorities! In all the Danish towns I found overnight quarters in the homes of charming people, communist sympathizers of the intellectual type. Outside of Copenhagen, the nimbus of a "man from Moscow" was so pronounced that the Party girls felt compelled to outrival each other in offering their favors to the visitor "sent by Stalin." In Sonderburg I marched down the main street behind a band of accordion players, followed by a cheering crowd, to the tune of the Internationale. Unfortunately, there was little time for such pleasant play. The meetings, three in each town, one for the leadership, another for the general membership, and the third an open meeting, had been prepared by organizers sent out in advance. After each day, Martin Jensen, who acted as my translator, dispatched a detailed report to his sire. Richard Jensen was satisfied with the results of my tour. "Next time I go to Moscow I’ll give your name a good sound," he promised. Then, truculently: "Let’s get some beer."

From Copenhagen I proceeded to Sweden. Jensen warned me of the efficiency of the Swedish police which reputedly exchanged reports on foreign agents with Scotland Yard.
The procedure by which to avoid passport control on entering Sweden was simple. I ferried across the sound to Malmo. The passport control station in Malmo had two gates. One was marked "For Scandinavians," the other "For Foreigners." At the latter gate each traveler had to submit his papers to inspection and fill out a printed questionnaire; at the gate marked "For Scandinavians," no examination whatever took place. A girl from Richard Jensen’s Apparat accompanied me. She chattered loudly in Danish as we passed through the "Scandinavian" entrance into Sweden. I nodded at her chatter and laughed. The official on guard, hearing the banter, passed me without molestation. Eight hours later I was in Göteborg, the chief seaport and second largest city of Sweden.
The liaison agent in Göteborg had been advised of my coming. I was at once escorted to his snug apartment on Jaerntorgsgatan by his courier, a girl who had been waiting at the station. This G.P.U. man’s name was Harold Svensson. He was a suave man of about thirty-six, short, slight of figure, and blond. I had heard of him in Berlin, Hamburg and Copenhagen. His job was coastal espionage and contacts. The communist units he controlled aboard the largest Swedish liners, the Gripsholm and the Kungsholm, had at times been used by the Western Secretariat for the transmission of special material to and from New York. Harold Svensson was a Swedish customs official and a member of the harbor police of Göteborg. He camouflaged his conspirative connections by hold­ing a nominal function in the Swedish branch of the Friends of the Soviet Union. His wife, a rather chic brunette, also was in government employ. The seven days I spent in Göteborg I lived in the home of one of Svensson’s aides, an idealistic ruffian named Knut Bjoerk.
My duties in Sweden were of a distasteful nature. The Com­munist Party of Sweden had long been, and still was, the most independent among the seventy-six Parties affiliated with the Comintern. It was the only Communist Party which had achieved sound financial independence, an ability to carry out its tasks irrespective of whether subsidies from Moscow, via Berlin-Copenhagen, arrived in time or not. Now, Moscow disliked a state of financial independence among its foreign auxiliaries, for such independence deprived the Kremlin of its power to precipitate any recalcitrant organization into bankruptcy, prevent the appearance of its press and the payment of salaries to its leaders.
It was an unwritten but iron law in the Comintern that no central Party organ should enjoy complete financial independence, and that the wages of Central Committee members must be paid not out of money obtained from membership dues, but out of the regular monthly subsidy from the treasury at the disposal of Ossip Piatnitzky in Moscow. Surplus funds raised by communist activities outside of the Soviet Union were required to be placed, in one way or another, under control of one of the numerous Soviet institutions, and Moscow then decided how much of it should be used by the various organizations, and for what purpose. Financial serfdom of this sort was one of the main levers used to keep the doings of all Comintern Parties subservient to the interests of the Soviet Union.
The financial backbone of the Communist Party of Sweden was a chain of modern and well-administered workers’ clubs, operating popular restaurants and doing a thriving business in all the larger Swedish towns. The Comintern had decided to separate this lucrative source of income from the Swedish Party machine, to place it as a co-operative enterprise under G.P.U. supervision, or—in case of insurmountable opposition—to destroy it.
My chief collaborator in this drive was Gustav Holmberg, a former teacher at the Lenin School in Moscow, member of the Swedish Central Committee, and head of the G.P.U. in West Sweden. Comrade Holmberg had the mild and steadfast appear­ance of a successful American retail merchant, an appearance greatly valued by the G.P.U. chiefs in the selection of stationary agents. Holmberg decided which functionaries should be invited to attend the "restaurant conferences." The speeches I made were not my own product. They had been written in advance in Berlin by one of the managers of the Münzenberg press "trust." I delivered them with all the vigor of which I was capable, and the wrangling that followed continued until far into the nights. Holm­berg was busy making notes. "Reading the barometer," he called it quietly, leaving me to harangue and to search for arguments with which to counter the many stubborn objections to the Comintern scheme.
It is one of the peculiarities of the communist movement that an emissary of the Comintern—though he be far less able than a local functionary—wields much greater authority than the latter when it comes to the job of "co-ordinating" the views of an assembly of lesser communists. To the average Party member, the visiting International Representative is a powerful and mysterious creature, a veritable Solomon of World Revolution. To safeguard his prestige, he must keep a distance between himself and the rank and file similar to that kept by any colonial official of the British Empire who seeks to maintain a divide between. his august per­sonality and the natives.
After four days of obnoxious horse-trading, the Swedes gave in to me. Unanimously a resolution favoring the reorganization of the restaurant business as a "private" enterprise was adopted, and the delegates were pledged to secrecy. The road was now clear for official negotiations between Berlin and the Stockholm Central Committee. A long report, signed by Holmberg and myself, went off to Berlin. One Eiling, a business expert of the G.P.U, a man who incidentally had a great outward resemblance to H. G. Wells, was sent to Sweden to complete the stealing of the profitable restaurant chain in the name of the "Bolshevization" of the Swedish Party. Before he arrived, I was already speeding northward in a sleeping compartment of the Copenhagen-Oslo night express.
All the Swedish workers’ clubs were eventually liquidated. The management of the club in Göteborg, the largest and most pros­perous of all, occupying two floors of the Rialto Building, refused to surrender the business to the G.P.U. In the summer of 1933, after the G.P.U. had deliberately used this club as a base for a sensational kidnaping expedition, the police closed the establish­ment "because of crimes committed on the premises."

The Communist Party of Norway was the enfant terrible of the Comintern. Time and again it had been split and purged almost out of existence, but as soon as it recovered, its leading personnel slipped back into the ways of Sodom and Gomorrah. Most Norse Bolsheviks were sincere revolutionists, hardy "activists," but nevertheless they remained in essence a gang of chesty libertines. A few months before my arrival they had received a substantial subsidy with which to finance the communist penetration of the Norwegian whaling fleet; a week later the Party cashier had run off to Sweden, taking with him the money and the wife of a Toensberg contractor. At the last Party convention in Oslo, a dis­cussion dealing with the creation of women’s committees had ended in a violent altercation about the wife-swapping activities of the Party chief, Christiansen, the organization chief, Ottar Lie, and the rest of the Central Committee.
On Christmas night of 1932, one of the leading propagandists of the Party, Alfson Pedersen, stripped the Communist Party head­quarters of its typewriters and mimeographs, sold them to a junk-dealer, who was also a Party member, and together with his cronies he staggered up Carl-Johann Street toward the King’s Palace, all roaring the battle-song of the Soviet aviators.
Dimitrov, talking to me about Norway, had called the Norse­men "good fellows, but dissolute brigands." The Party contained more déclassé elements and black sheep from bourgeois cradles than bona fide workers. The only stable groups were those among the students of the universities of Oslo and Trondheim, and the Norwegian seamen’s units which were scattered over all con­tinents. Apart from a handful of professional men, the dynamos of the local Party groups were invariably students or sailors. In the many Norwegian towns I visited in the course of a five weeks’ journey, the reception I received was always the same: I was invited to drink, and only after I had proven my ability to keep abreast of the sturdiest native guzzlers were the comrades ready to engage in a series of protracted palavers on Party matters.
The chief liaison agent between the Comintern-G.P.U. Apparat and the communist organizations of Norway was one of the best-known physicians in the Norwegian capital, Dr. Arne Halvorsen. He maintained a private residence in a fashionable settlement called "Summer’s Joy," a clinic at 22 Aakebergsveien, and a secret politi­cal laboratory at Number 2 Carl-Johannsgade, a building overlook­ing the large square which fronts the Central Station of Oslo.
Dr. Halvorsen was a man of multitudinous contacts. The threads he held in his hands ran into universities, hospitals and technical schools, into shipyards, coast-defense establishments and the government’s hydrographic office. His wife, Karin, a tall, dark, melancholy young woman, was an executive secretary in the offices of Wilhelmsen, the most important shipowner in Norway. Karin Halvorsen was, like her husband, a secret Party member. Her brother, also in Soviet service, held a position in the Norwegian State Police. Dr. Halvorsen himself had begun life as a street-car conductor, had worked himself through university and medical schools, and had become a government physician attached to the pilot service of the Atlantic coastline. During the Russian civil war Dr. Halvorsen had made his way to Moscow to offer his services to the Bolshevist cause. He won the confidence of Lenin and Dzerjinsky, and had become an intimate friend of Anatole Lunacharsky, the first Soviet Commissar of Education. After his return to Norway, the G.P.U. had claimed him as an extraordinary find. Dr. Halvorsen was a large man, apparently lazy, but with a face full of fleshy energy. He had keenly intelligent gray eyes and a sardonic cast of mind. Excessive drinking had brutalized him. Night after night he sat up until three, forcing his wife and his guests to follow his alcoholic pace, and then slept until eight, which was all the sleep he needed. Among his secret operatives were a number of girls—Party members—who had fallen under the doctor’s domination after he had performed on them needed abortions. Smiling pleasantly, he once showed me in a backroom of his clinic long rows of glass jars containing human embryos in all visible stages of development. Each jar bore a label on which, neatly printed, was the name of a dead revolutionist.
"What’s this?" I exclaimed, aghast.
Dr. Halvorsen gave a sardonic guffaw. "I showed them to Comrade Lunacharsky when he toured Norway last year. He almost fainted."
Karin Halvorsen, the doctor’s wife, was the unhappiest woman I have ever met. She looked on, without uttering a word, when her husband lounged in a club-chair with his arms clamped around a younger Party belle, a barrel of beer on the living-room floor, and an assortment of stronger drinks in bottles on the tables. I saw Dr. Halvorsen invent new ways of torturing her every night I spent in his abode. She gave the impression of being a woman who had wept her last tear long ago, and was incapable of weeping more. But she was loyal to him, loyal to the death—or was it loyalty to the cause? Through her, copies of all important documents pertaining to Norwegian shipping reached the G.P.U., and often before they reached the offices of their legitimate recipients.
On the second day after my arrival in Oslo I tackled a meeting of the Central Committee, laying down the ideas of Dimitrov and Jensen on what the Communist Party of Norway should be and do. Norway, outside of its railways and public utilities, had only three really important industries: whaling, fisheries, and merchant shipping. But there was not one man in the Central Committee who knew much about maritime matters. The only department which really functioned was the Apparat controlled by Dr. Halvorsen, whose agents, spread over all important points from Christiansand to Narvik, engaged in military work and espionage, particularly in the country north of the sixty-eighth parallel, a region coveted by the Soviet Union as of strategic importance. To me fell the task of making the Central Committee ocean-minded. To befog the issue, Christiansen, the Party chief, made a long speech about the "political situation." Ottar Lie, his right-hand man, and others followed their chief’s cue. They all sounded very earnest and very respectable. It was the usual defense put up by functionaries desiring to hide the concrete weakness in Party activities. To pierce their defense, by way of showing them that the Comintern knew more about their personal short-comings and vices, I jumped into the subject of wife-swapping. Christiansen jumped to his feet in blustering indignation.
"Our private affairs have no bearing on our political tasks," he shouted.
"They have a powerful bearing," I retorted.
I had brought with me excerpts from reports the Comintern had received from its inner-Party spies in Norway. I was able to cite seven occasions on which a Norwegian Communist leader, in his tours of Norway, had exchanged his wife for the wives and mistresses of other Central Committee members. Getting wind of this, the Party rank and file had drawn certain conclusions, one of which was that next to drinking tournaments, "free love" had become the chief occupation of the Oslo communists. Anyone desirous of an abundant supply of bed companions of the opposite sex simply had to join the Party, which, indeed, was often referred to as the "Red Harem." Besides, Dr. Halvorsen had warned me not to associate with any female Norwegian communist without first consulting him. "They blossom with venereal disease," he had explained.
Comrade Christiansen and his aides saw the point. Should they be called to Moscow, and should the G.P.U. supply the anti-Stalinist press of Norway with details of the organized promis­cuity of their amours, their careers as professional revolutionists and "labor leaders" would be shattered. In such a situation fresh young comrades from the Moscow schools, coming to Norway as crusaders for "proletarian decency," would have a good chance of success in spite of their obscurity and inexperience. The Central Committee appeared temporarily cowed.
We proceeded to lay down a plan of action for the communist invasion of the whaling fleet, and for the progressive consolidation of Party positions in the ports and in shipping. The organization program I submitted, which had been formulated in Berlin, was unanimously accepted. But after the conference ended I was due for a typical Norwegian surprise. I had not noticed in the heat of argument that Ottar Lie had slipped out of the meeting. I noticed, however, that my overcoat had disappeared. It was a good new camel’s-hair coat. Ottar Lie, the organization head of the Party, had sold it in a second-hand store. He appeared a little while later, a bottle of gin under each arm.
"What’s the idea, Comrade Lie?" I demanded.
"Oh," he laughed, "I saw the fine coat in the hall and I couldn’t figure out to whom it belonged, so I sold it. Let’s have a drink, Comrade International Representative."
I saw the humor of the situation. We drank. After the gin had gone down the throats, Ottar Lie proposed:
"Now let’s go out and sell my coat. It’s pretty shabby, but it’s a coat just the same."
My work in Norway began in earnest. Christiansen proposed that his niece should accompany me as secretary and interpreter on my Norwegian travels. I, of course, rejected his offer; she was the usual spy which Central Committees under investigation liked to place into the International Apparat to keep them informed on the activities—and the vulnerable spots—of "the man from Moscow." Instead I accepted a secretary of Dr. Halvorsen’s choice, a secret Party member with a G.P.U. commission. She was Kitty Andresen, residing at 26 St. Hallvard, Oslo, an Amazon with ugly features and an irrepressible vitality. Between trips, on Saturdays, when no Party work could be done because the Party was drunk, she loved to take me out to Oslo Fjord to swim among ice floes, or to hike and ski among the densely wooded mountains and lakes of Nordmarken. I was a bad hand at these exertions, but her sparkling glee in the face of my own exhaustion was ample recompense. Kitty was a graduate of Oslo University. She neither smoked nor drank, was adamant in Party matters, but could surrender herself to emotional convulsions over an American "Wild Western" motion picture, provided the shooting on the screen was mixed with plenty of sentimentality.
In the first week of my mission I concentrated on Oslo; in the second, I overhauled our organizations in the smaller but vital ports south of the capital—Fredrikstad, Toensberg and Sandefjord, the latter two places being the home bases for the bulk of the world’s Antarctic whaling fleets. The third week I gave to the Bergen district; the fourth to Trondheim. Everywhere I found the same picture: a fundamentally sound rank and file, and a leadership of semi-intellectual libertines. I changed administrators where the material for new leadership was at hand. The district leaders of Fredrikstad and Bergen I sent off to Berlin, ostensibly to report to the Western Secretariat, in reality to have them out of the way while a reorganization of their districts took place. I arranged with Berlin that they should be kept hamstrung for at least one month; I do not know what became of them later.
In Oslo, I inaugurated a new International Club and established a permanent action committee among shipyard workers and dockers. In Toensberg and Sandefjord, I laid the groundwork for schools in which ship organizers were to be trained to build up communist units aboard the large vessels of the whaling fleet. In Bergen, I addressed membership meetings of several independent local trade unions to prepare them for affiliation with the Profintern in Moscow, but only met with partial success. At the same time I gathered all available communists on the spot into caucus sessions, with the aim of having them capture control of the local unions from within. In Trondheim, aside from some organizational work, I addressed the communist group of university students on subjects of their own choice on three successive evenings. The themes they chose were "The Program of the Comintern," "The Tasks of Communists in the Event of Imperialist War," and "State and Revo­lution." I gained the impression that the youth of Norway was far less firmly rooted in their native soil than the youth of, say, France or Holland. The youngsters of Trondheim took a perverse pride in tearing down their own country in favor of a cold-blooded internationalism. But in the Comintern "internationalism" and "Soviet power" are synonyms.

In Norway, as elsewhere, the most tragic figures in the communist movement were those whose lives were deliberately destroyed by the cause they had sworn themselves to serve. There was Arthur Samsing, a tough, blue-eyed, cheerful little man, who was hounded to exile and possibly physical destruction because of some remarks he had made about the "haves" and "have-nots" in the Communist International. I had known Comrade Samsing for years. He had worked for the Comintern in America, in Belgium and Germany, and in his native land, Norway. Samsing made the mistake of saying what he thought. Once he was sent on a dangerous assignment to Gdynia. Death was the almost inevitable lot of any Comintern man caught by the police on Polish soil. But no danger or hardship could deter Samsing. While he was active in Gdynia, his young wife, whom he had left together with two small children in Oslo, became desperately ill. A costly treatment was necessary to save her life. Samsing appealed to Georgi Dimitrov to advance him the necessary funds. He received an answer to the effect that the organization could do nothing for his wife, who was not a member of the Party. Samsing left Gdynia and journeyed to Berlin. He was told that the Comintern had no funds to spare and that Comrade Dimitrov was on vacation. Dimitrov was vacationing in Zoppot, a fashionable gambling resort near Danzig, a short jump from Gdynia! Arthur Samsing sped to Zoppot. He found his Bulgarian chief, far from the trenches of class war, sharing a suite in an elegant hotel with a beautiful dancer from Berlin. Samsing asked Dimitrov for money to save his wife. He had no other resources; his whole life had been spent in and for the movement. Dimitrov, resenting the fact that one of his frugally living "activists" had trapped him in the role of a bon vivant, became very angry. Samsing departed, penniless. He did not return to his post in Gdynia. He went to Oslo to stand by his wife who was then living with her children in an abandoned cottage in the woods beyond Oslo. The Comintern struck him off its payroll as a deserter. Samsing replied in an open letter, contrasting the economic well-being of the Comintern chiefs —the Bonzen—with the chronic distress of the majority of "activists" who faithfully carried on the perilous work in the lower depth.
"Der Samsing ist verrückt," Dimitrov replied to the open challenge. "Samsing is crazy."
That happened in the summer of 1931. Samsing’s wife continued to live. Samsing himself became exceedingly active in the Communist Party of Norway. For all that he remained jobless. Clad in cast-off rags, emaciated from hunger, his only quarters the tumbledown cottage in the woods, he continued to serve the Party as a volunteer. Repeatedly he was arrested and sent to jail. But to a revolutionist of his type a life outside of the movement was unthinkable. He was one of the few Norwegians who did not drink. The Comintern did not expel him; Samsing had worked too long in the Soviet service and he knew too many of its secrets. More and more, however, he became obsessed with the idea that his mission was to clean the Party and the International of its Bonzen—its parasitic and all-powerful bureaucracy. The Comintern decided that Arthur Samsing was ripe for "liquidation."
Invited, Samsing refused to go to the Soviet Union. "There are enough communists in Russia," he replied, "but not enough communists in Norway." In the fall of 1932, the Comintern proposed that Samsing should send his wife and children to the Soviet Union, the wife to be treated in a sanatorium, the children to be cared for in a children’s home. To this Arthur Samsing agreed. He knew that his family would be held as hostages, that he would never see them again unless he went to Russia himself. All the same he thought they would have a better chance in life in the Soviet Union than in a continuance of their former hunger-ridden existence. The family went to Copenhagen, and Richard Jensen dispatched them to Leningrad. Samsing went on to serve the Party in Oslo.
I met Arthur Samsing again in January, 1933. His bitterness toward Dimitrov and his ilk had not downed his enthusiastic belief in the future of socialism. The Norwegian Central Committee, fearing his clean-cut energy and his ruthless honesty, liked to use Samsing for actions which were likely to result in his arrest. One such action to which he was assigned, during my presence in Oslo, was the breaking up of a session of the Storting, the National Parliament of Norway. Samsing, at the head of a band of determined assistants, entered the Storting and successfully disrupted the proceedings. Before the day was over, the whole police force of the capital was hunting for Arthur Samsing. Not many days later Dr. Halvorsen handed me a letter from the Western Secretariat. The letter contained orders not to employ Comrade Samsing in any action that would tend to increase his already uncomfortable popularity in the Norwegian Party. This was followed up with the suggestion that I should induce Samsing to go to Russia. Samsing gave a harsh laugh when I told him about the letter.
"Tell Dimitrov to leave me alone," he said. "To make war on the Bonzen is more important than to have a soft job in the Soviet Union. Tell Dimitrov that I’m not ready to be put on ice."
I left it at that, warning Samsing to tone down his challenge.
"You stand alone," I told him. "A revolutionist who stands alone against the Comintern can never win. The Comintern always wins over the individual mutineer."
"Tell Comrade Dimitrov," he replied earnestly, "that Comrade Samsing thinks that for a Norwegian communist Norway must come first, and not the Soviet Union. A communist must fight for the liberation of his class brothers, not for the national ambitions of the Soviet Union."
"The Soviet Union is the symbol of communist strength and glory," I countered.
"Rubbish! And you know it."
"Without the Soviet Union, World Communism has no chance to survive."
"The emancipation of the workers can only be accomplished by the workers themselves," Samsing jeered. "We can do without the great big man with the stick."
I pleaded with the stubborn little Norwegian. The argument I used in an attempt to bring him back to the old slave-and-soldier loyalty was the same I had used in silent hours to defeat my own gnawing doubts. "Perhaps there is something true in what you assert," I said. "The Comintern is becoming the illegal arm of the Narkomindel (the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs) in Moscow. It is nevertheless the strongest revolutionary organization that ever existed. There is no substitute for the Comintern. If we honestly want revolution and socialism in the world, we can only win it with the Comintern, against it—never."
"Go on," Samsing laughed. "Or shall I finish the sermon for you? Here goes: ’A communist who puts himself into consistent opposition to Stalinist leadership will inevitably wind up in the camp of the bourgeoisie and the counter-revolution.’ I was a blind man. But when I saw Comrade Dimitrov whoring around in Zoppot, I got my eyesight back. That fur-coated proletarian! I told him I belonged to Norway, not to Poland. ’Comrade Samsing,’ he said, ’we’ve long observed your opportunist tendencies,’ and I answered, ’Comrade Dimitrov, you are wearing such a fine suit. It’s too big for me, but I can have it changed.’ What did he say? ’Samsing, du bist verrückt. You need a rest.’ "
"Maybe you do need a rest," I muttered.
"I told Comrade Dimitrov," Samsing went on, "I told him: ’If you chase away all the intelligent people who are not pliable, and keep only obedient idiots, then you will certainly ruin the Party.’ That’s not from Samsing. Comrade Lenin wrote that in a letter to Bukharin. Comrade Dimitrov looked at me as if he wanted to say: ’Samsing, if you were not crazy, you’d be ashamed of yourself.’ Ha-ha-ha! Tell the Bonzen that Samsing is still going strong."
Samsing was doomed. It was only a matter of weeks. At the end of January, Samsing was called to Copenhagen for a conference with Richard Jensen. To the astonishment of the Copenhagen "activists," Samsing arrived stone-drunk. He did not return to Oslo. He disappeared.
To jump ahead of my narrative, the Samsing episode, as far as I was concerned, was closed a few months later. I went again on a mission to Norway in April, 1933. In Aftenposten, Norway’s greatest newspaper, I saw a photograph of Arthur Samsing displayed over a question printed in large type, which ran: "Where is this man?"
The Oslo police waited long for an answer. One evening I asked Dr. Halvorsen, "What became of Comrade Samsing?"
"Oh, he’s in Russia," he replied pleasantly.

On January 30, 1933, I was in Trondheim. A telegram arrived. "Come back. Urgent. Firelei."
I felt strangely disturbed. I hastened to Oslo, an overnight journey by rail across snow-covered mountain land. In Oslo, I jumped into the express to Malmoe-Trelleborg, and arrived in German Stralsund early the following morning. During my last days in Trondheim I had been too busy with workaday details to follow the press. On the train I had read Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Firelei was awaiting me on the platform of the Stralsund. She was poised on her toes as the train pulled in. I leaned out of the window and called out her name. For a second or two a cloud of Nazi storm-troopers obscured her from my view. The sounds of clanking heels and the smell of leather went by. Then we were together.
"Something sad has happened," Firelei said.
"Yes?"
"Your mother has died."
The impact was strong. A short assault of anguish mingled with a vague consciousness of guilt because of things I had left undone shook me. It was too late.
"Was she still alive when you sent me the telegram?" I asked.
"No. The Party ordered me to wire you."
The hissing of steam from the locomotive filled the air. I heard the gruff exclamations of the porters, the strident cries of sandwich men, fragments of desultory conversation. Firelei drew me aside. And then, quietly, she added:
"Hitler has just become Chancellor."

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Notes
- we have taken the liberty of adding these translation-footnotes to the original text.

- click on a note number to return to the original position in the text.

Notes

[1Sei nicht traurig. Wir sind nun einmal Menschen der zweiten Klasse.” = Don’t be sad. We are for now people of the Second Class.

[2Schweinehunde” = pig-dogs.

[3Kommisbrot” = Army bread.

[4"Spartakus Jugend" = the Young Spartakus League.

[5Kulies” = coolies, underlings.

[6"Heil Dir im Siegerkranz" = Hail to Thee in the Victory Wreath".

[7"Rollkommando" = raiding party.

[8"Bürgerwehr" = Citizen’s Defense.

[9"Das ist schön" = That’s nice.

[10"Bonze" = fat cat.

[11"Arbeitermörder!" = murderer of workers!

[12"Strasse frei! Es wird geschossen!"= Clear the street! There will be shooting!

[13"nicht wahr?" = not true?

[14"Hundertschaften " = groups of one hundred ("Red Hundreds").

[15“Hände hoch!” = hands up!

[16smeerlapp” = pig.

[17baas” = boss.

[18meisjes” = girls.

[19paillasse” = straw mattress.

[20Mach’s gut” = Do it well.

[21Schuhplattler” = the Flat-shoe, a Bavarian dance.

[22Schweigen ist Gold,” = Silence is gold.

[23Ora e sempre!” = Now and forever!

[24marschier oder krepier!” = march or croak.

[25Buvez, mon ami, et vivez joyeux!” = Drink, my friend, and live joyously!

[26“Bitte tausendmal um Verzeihung” = Please accept a thousand apologies.

[27atelier” = workshop.

[28Der Hauptfeind ist die Sozialdemokratie!” = Social Democracy is the main enemy!

[29"Nur am Rhein da möcht ich leben, nur am Rhein geboren sein . . .” = I only want to live on the Rhein, only there to have been born . . .

[30"Vom Wasser haben wir’s gelernt,
"Vom Wasser . . .
"Das hat nicht Ruh’ bei Tag and N acht,
"Is stets auf Wanderschaft bedacht,
"Das Wasser, das Wasser, das W a-a-a-a-asser."

=
“From water we have learnt,
“From water . . .
“It has no rest in day or night,
“It only thinks about wandering around,
“The water, the water, the wa-a-a-a-ater.

[31Bergstrasse” = Mountain Route.

[32Org-Leiter” = organization leader.

[33Parteischutzgruppen” = Party defense groups.

[34Zersetzungs Apparate” = disruption apparatuses.

[35Führer Verlag” = Leader Publishing House.

[36Lumpengesindel” = low-down scum.

[37"Gute Reise” = Have a good trip.

[38Angriff” = Attack.

[39la garçonne” = the tom-boy.

[40Was wünschen Sie?” = What do you want?

[41Trink, trink Brüderlein trink,
Lasset die Sorgen zu Hause . . .”

=
Drink, drink little brothers, drink,
Leave your worries at home . . .”

[42Zum Teufel” = Confound it (“to the devil”).

[43Oiga—senorita pequena y hermosa? Vamonos! Pajaro!” = Listen—a beautiful little girl? Let’s go!

[44Sieh, wer kommnt denn da!"” = Look who’s coming now!

[45Weltfilm” = World Films.

[46Nitchevo” = never mind.

[47Streik-Liebchen” = strike sweethearts.

[48"Waidmannslust" = Hunter’s Delight.

[49Stauerei Einheit” = The Stevedore Unit.

[50Sonderkonferenz” = Special Conference.

[51Seemannsordnung” = Regulation for Sailors.

[52Polizeipräsidium” = Police Headquarters.

[53Hammerschaften” = The hammer groups.

[54Rote Fahne” = The Red Flag.

[55Feuergruppen” = Fire Groups.