• U.S.

COMMUNISTS: Gentleman, Very Timid

2 minute read
TIME

The Department of Justice lassoed another alien Red last week. This one was Alexander Bittelman, 58, bespectacled and intellectual member of the Communist Party who had gone to Miami for his annual winter vacation.

Russian-born Alexander Bittelman, said the Justice Department, arrived in the U.S. in 1912, joined the Communist Party in 1919, had 14 aliases, filed notice of intention to become a U.S. citizen in 1935, then did nothing more about it. He wrote eloquent articles for Communist publications in the U.S., and became general secretary of Manhattan’s Morning Freiheit Association, which publishes the Communist Yiddish-language newspaper, Morning Freiheit. For the past few years Bittelman has been a mild looking suburbanite, commuting from Croton on Hudson to Manhattan.

The Communist Daily Worker loudly and righteously demanded to know “what excuse the Department of Justice had for arresting to deport a man whom six federal administrations had not molested during 28 years of open Communist activity.”

In Miami, where Bittelman and wife lived quietly in an expensive apartment, spending most of their time reading on the lawn, neighbors were floored. Said one of them: “He was a very nice gentleman, very timid.” The Department of Justice thought differently. It charged him with advocating the violent “overthrow of the U.S. Government,” released him on $5,000 bail.

State Department officials last week refused to let Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer into the U.S. when Niemeyer recently asked for a visa so that he could deliver a lecture series at Yale. Niemeyer, who helped design the proposed New York capital of the United Nations, is one of the world’s best known architects. He is also one of Brazil’s best known Communists.

Last week New York’s Communist Councilman Benjamin J. Davis explained why it is Communists all think and act alike. “Communism is a science,” he declared, “and science is the same everywhere. H2O is water in Moscow and H2O is water in America. We are not against water because it happens to be HoO in Moscow. It is ridiculous.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com