Top FDR Aide Hopkins Was Soviet Agent; Book Examines ‘Betrayal’

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt‘s most powerful assistant was a “conscious Soviet agent,” according to a new book that details how Harry Hopkins and others in FDR’s administration revealed U.S. secrets — and influenced American policy — to help Josef Stalin‘s Communist dictatorship.

Hopkins went so far as to alert Soviet officials about FBI surveillance that had discovered a Communist agent’s role in what proved to be the U.S.S.R.’s plan to steal atom-bomb secrets from the Manhattan Project, author Diana West explains in her new book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character.

“If Harry Hopkins, the top aide to President Roosevelt, was indeed a conscious agent … what does this say about Roosevelt?” West said Tuesday, describing the “implications” of Hopkins’s role in shaping FDR’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. “History as we know it completely unravels.”

Since the 1990s, when the U.S. declassified its “Venona” decodings of secret Soviet cable messages, several Cold War historians have suspected that Hopkins was the agent identified in the cables as “Source 19,” who in 1943 provided the Kremlin with details of a private top-secret conversation between Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. No official in FDR’s White House had as much access to the President as Hopkins, and West’s book cites extensive evidence from both Russian and U.S. sources to chronicle Hopkins’s role as the most influential of those who pushed American policy in a pro-Soviet direction during Roosevelt’s presidency.

Harry Hopkins was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1934.

Harry Hopkins was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1934.

Known to history primarily as an architect of FDR’s New Deal economic policies, Hopkins died in 1946, before investigations of Communist subversion and espionage exposed traitors like State Department official Alger Hiss and atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. As director of Lend-Lease policy, Hopkins’s pro-Soviet leanings were no secret during World War II, when the U.S. was allied with the U.S.S.R. against Hitler’s Germany, and an August 1943 article in the New Yorker described Hopkins as “an articulate propagandist for all-out aid to the Russians.”

Yet the presidential aide’s influence became the subject of controversy in 1949, when a U.S. Army officer who had worked in the Lend-Lease program, Maj. George R. Jordan, testified to Congress that wartime shipments to Russia approved by Hopkins included uranium and other materials necessary to the development of atomic weapons. Jordan testified that the Soviets also used Lend-Lease shipments to smuggle back to Moscow classified U.S. documents about the top-secret Manhattan Project. Much of Jordan’s testimony about the flow of stolen secrets to Moscow was corroborated by Victor Kravchenko, a Soviet official who defected in 1944 — and whom Hopkins unsuccessfully sought to have handed back over to the Russians.

Harry Hopins (left) with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at a 1943 wartime conference in Tehran, iran.

Harry Hopins (left) with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at a 1943 wartime conference in Tehran, iran.

Further evidence indicating Hopkins’s status as a Soviet agent emerged in the 1990s with the defection of KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky, the declassification of the Venona decryptions, and the publication of KGB documents smuggled out of Russia by former Soviet intelligence officer Vasili Mitrokhin. In a 1990 book, Gordiesvsky said that a top KGB official, Iskhak Akhmerov, described Hopkins as “the most important of all Soviet wartime agents in the United States.”

“Defenders of Hopkins have been trying to dance around it ever since,” said conservative author M. Stanton Evans, who last year published Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, co-authored with former U.S. counter-intelligence expert Herbert Romerstein. Evans said in a telephone interview that Romerstein, who died last month, “said definitively that Hopkins was a Soviet agent.”

Despite the post-Cold War revelations, many biographers and historians continue “whitewashing” Hopkins’s record, Evans said. Controversy is likely to continue because unlike those Evans calls “slam dunk cases” like Hiss and other Roosevelt administration figures including Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White — where the Venona messages and other proof clearly identifies them as Soviet agents — the evidence pointing to Hopkins as “Source 19″ is subject to interpretation. Other possibilities, including State Department official Laurence Duggan, have been suggested as “Source 19,” although Evans said, “I don’t buy it.”

Harry Hopkins had more access to FDR than any other White House official.

Harry Hopkins had more access to FDR than any other White House official.

Some have argued that Hopkins was an unwitting agent who didn’t realize he was being used by Stalin to influence U.S. policy. However, Evans noted Hopkins’s connections to other known or suspected Soviet agents, including his onetime assistant David Niles, who was mentioned in the Venona cables as helping two KGB agents obtain U.S. visas. But perhaps the most damning evidence is how Hopkins tipped the Soviets in 1943 to the FBI’s surveillance of Communist espionage activity.

A confidential message from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, reproduced in West’s new book, told Hopkins that a “continuing” investigation had discovered that Russian diplomat (and Comintern agent) Vasily Zarubin had made a payment to U.S. Communist Party official Steve Nelson to help place espionage agents “in industries engaged in secret war production … so that information could be obtained for transmittal to the Soviet Union.” This information had come from a “bug” at Nelson’s home in Oakland, California, through which the FBI first learned of the Soviet effort (code-named “Enormous”) to obtain the atomic secrets of the Manhattan Project. Instead of warning President Roosevelt, however, Hopkins “privately warned the Soviet embassy in Washington that the FBI had bugged a secret meeting” between Nelson and Zarubin, according to documents from the KGB archives smuggled out by Mitrokhin.

West’s new book — praised by Evans as “explosive” — extends far beyond Hopkins to survey not only the history of Soviet penetration of the American government in the 1930s and ’40s, but also the intense effort to prevent exposure of the secret agents who served Stalin’s dictatorship while on the U.S. payroll. That effort has continued even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the revelations from Russian and American sources that confirm the testimony of such ex-Communist witnesses as Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley.

“While this story is political and historical, it is also moral and cultural,” West said. “Not only is there is a major rewrite of history in order, there are some major wrongs that need to be righted — wrongs to our great witnesses and investigators, our truth-tellers, including of course Sen. Joe McCarthy. Only in this way, I believe, do we get a chance at returning even just closer to a moral universe of right and wrong, black and white, truth and lie.”

Like McCarthy, who has been demonized as a “witch hunter,” others who told the truth about Communism were smeared and dishonored, West said, while Soviet agents who betrayed their country are celebrated as heroes.

“Is there a statue to Bentley at her alma mater Vassar? … Of course not. There is, however, the Alger Hiss Professor of Social Studies at Bard College.” This history “is not taught to Americans and is not known to Americans,” West said, because “the people who do know it would never be permitted to teach it on our campuses.” West said the resulting distortions of history have consequences.

“There is also an urgent relevance in terms of current national security,” West said. “The lies about Communism and Communist influence operations then and the lies about Islam and Islamic influence operations now are striking, as I note throughout the book. The most frightening aspects of this are not due to the challenges posed by staving off threats to liberty from another collectivist totalitarian ideology, but rather by the greater threat posed by the spectacle of the U.S. government lying to the American people about Islam today as it once lied about Communism.”


  1. June 5, 2013  11:41 pm by Bob Belvedere Reply

    Thanks, Stacy, for this report. I'm just about to start reading Mrs. West's book.

  2. June 6, 2013  6:51 am by Dinsdale Piranha Reply

    Now we have people in government who are doing the same things, for free, and intending to benefit ALL our enemies.

  3. June 6, 2013  8:37 am by Otis A. Glazebrook, IV Reply

    Didn't Amity Shlaes reveal much of this stuff in her book "The Forgotten man"?
    If this is news? Imagine what you will think when you read "Lincoln's Marxists" by Benson & Kennedy and the follow it up with "Karl Marx on America and the Civil War" and get it from the horse's mouth?
    The American Progressive socialist era began 3 generations before most of you think it did.
    A clear starting date is W.L. Garrison's July 4th,1829 Park Street Church speech. The hypocrisy is that gov. John Winthrop (P- MBC) instigated New England's business model of the Triangle Trade when he shipped Pequot Braves to the Barbados and traded them for Negroes, rum, cotton & rum.
    Thank Horace Greeley and Charles a. Dana for your ignorance.

    • June 6, 2013  9:28 pm by Hans Reuger Reply

      We got screwed on that deal.

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  8. June 6, 2013  7:51 pm by Mark Hillyard Reply

    I just posted this on another website before I read this article, Telegraph Blogs:
    In 1968 I was in a classroom debate which centered on the Vietnam War and my perception of Communism and their desire to gain control of us. The loudest mouthed opponent of mine answered me when I asked, "If the communist's were attempting to take us over would you fight them?" The girl yelled at me and said, "No, I wouldn't fight them!" I replied, "Would you let them just come in?" She said, "Yes I'd let them come in." When the bell rang she got up and cursed me for all the school to hear, calling me a baby killer, etc.

    By the way, this was a history class and the teacher was a known Communist, my parents kept telling me. He lived two doors down the street from me. He didn't like me much. But, the commies are here and we can thank idiots like those mentioned.

    • June 7, 2013  12:02 pm by Jack P Reply

      Back in the day, a significant number of people in the U.S. preferred to be "Red rather than dead" when asked if they would resist a communist takeover of the Gov't.

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  10. June 6, 2013  10:42 pm by Loretta Vincent Reply

    BTW, George Bush Sr. Is A Nazi Spy (

  11. June 7, 2013  1:40 am by Kurt Marquart Reply

    Well things don't change. How many Brotherhood members have infiltrated us? I'd bet my life that for the 1 that was caught, theirs 50 that weren't.

  12. June 7, 2013  5:16 am by Blitzkrieg Reply

    Soviet plans have been implemented so many generations ago Americans today don't know what's even hitting them on a daily basis. Even to begin comprehending what's taking place now, people need to start out with books like Betrayal, Origins of the Fourth World War, The Perestroika Deception, New Lies For Old and also do research on Yuri Bezmenov. This has gone too far, for too long and traditional America is not coming back. It's going off the cliff, Soviet style. I leave the following quoes for a peace of reality:

    "We cannot expect Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism."

    -- Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev, 1959

    "If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come and see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you."

    -- Nikita Khrushchev, at a reception in the Kremlin, 17 November 1956.

    "If you think the U.S. Government is not being run by Moscow agents, you will only be fooling yourselves."
    -- Gen. Jan Sejna Czech defector to U.S.

  13. June 7, 2013  9:51 am by rhino699 Reply

    This is not really anything new. It has been known for years that FDR had the most communist laden administration in US history, up to that point. That has continued since then and was amplified during the Clinton years and has been followed on with the current Obama reign. The sad thing is that history has repeatedly proven Socialism/Communism/Fascism to be complete failures yet some delusional fools continue to push the concept. Of course, these "fools" will eliminate the useful idiots that supported their rise to power, then they will become filthy rich and then retire/die in bliss

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