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MOE BERG (1902 – 1972) Baseball Player & Spy

In Cold War, Espionage, Sports on September 15, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Moe Berg

Moe Berg became famous for what he did, but it was his charisma and storytelling that endeared him to his friends.  Below the surface he was very private, however, and the mystery that surrounded him facilitated a career change from being a public figure as a major league baseball player to the anonymity of being a spy.

Bernard Berg was lured to the land of opportunity around the turn of the 20th century.  He ran a laundry, and while he ironed shirts taught himself to read English, French and German in addition to the Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian he already knew.  He took night classes at the New York College of Pharmacy and moved his family to Newark, New Jersey to open his own pharmacy.  Bernard and Rose had three children.  Sam became a doctor, and Ethel was a lovely lady.  Morris (Moe) had his father’s intelligence and curiosity, but not his ambition.  For all his fame, his career choices made him a big disappointment to his dad.

When Moe was three and a half he insisted on going to school like his older siblings. He was an excellent student, and the only negative comment he received on an early report card said that he sang off key.  Berg’s hobby was baseball, and he played street ball with the neighbor kids until he could be on a real team in high school.

Berg was voted the “Brightest Boy” in the class at Barringer High School, a private school where he was virtually the only Jew.  He didn’t experience much anti-Semitism, but when Berg was recruited to play third base on the Roseville Methodist Episcopal Church team, he used the pseudonym Runt Wolfe and found it easy to pretend being somebody else.

After two semesters at NYU, Berg was accepted to Princeton where he played short stop.  His arm and quick agility made up for being a mediocre hitter.  He inherited his father’s facility for languages and studied Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit, graduating magna cum laude.  Off the diamond he tutored his teammates, and to confuse their opponents Berg and the second baseman yelled strategy in Latin.

TURNING A HOBBY INTO A CAREER          After graduation, Berg was offered a teaching post at Princeton but opted to play for the Brooklyn Robins (later the Dodgers).  He got a $5,000 signing bonus for joining the team.  After the first season he studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, taking history, linguistics and literature classes in French and Italian.

One reason Berg was able to accomplish so much was that he was basically a loner.  He socialized but maintained an aura of mystery by not sharing personal information with friends.  He hated accountability and disappeared frequently so that friends and colleagues rarely knew where he was.

When he returned from Paris, Berg was traded to the Minneapolis Millers, an American Association team, and then the Reading Keystones in Pennsylvania.  He had already established a double identity for himself, and after the 1925 season he started planning for his post-baseball life by enrolling in Columbia Law School.  He was traded to the Chicago White Sox and skipped spring training so he could finish classes.  That did not endear him to the coaches, but when Berg’s professor discovered that he was the Berg who played baseball at Princeton, he arranged classes so Berg’s schedule could accommodate both his job and his studies.

Good thing, because during the 1927 season Berg pulled his team out of a dire situation.  Within two weeks, the White Sox lost three catchers to injury.  Even though he hadn’t played behind the plate since the sandlot days, Berg volunteered for the position.  In his first game as the starting catcher, the White Sox beat the Yankees, and Babe Ruth was hitless.  He played catcher for the rest of his career.

A REAL SINGULAR SENSATION          In his whole academic career, Berg failed only one course, evidence.  That prevented him from graduating from law school with his class.  He was able to retake the course, and received his degree in February 1930.  He passed the New York bar that spring and headed right off to spring training.

Moe Berg Baseball Card

In early April, Berg injured his knee but was back in the lineup in May, although he only played 20 games all season.  In the fall he joined the Wall Street law firm of Satterlee and Canfield, a job that justified his education and appeased his father but wasn’t as fun.  He only worked during the off season and lasted there just a few years.  In 1931 Berg was picked up the by Cleveland Indians, but bronchial pneumonia kept him in the dugout most of the season.  The Indians released him in January 1932, and he went to spring training for the Washington Senators.

Being “the brainiest guy in baseball” opened up the opportunity for him to be a guest panelist on the radio quiz show “Information Please.”  That seeming contradiction in his personality was only one of the quirks that distinguished Berg.  He was eccentric about his wardrobe and always dressed in a black suit and tie.  Every morning he took the first of three daily baths, picked up newspapers from several major cities plus some in French, Spanish and Italian, and read as many as he could during breakfast at a local diner.  He was adamant about reading every paper he bought regardless of how out of date, and piles of them covered every flat surface in his apartment or hotel room.  Until he had read it, a newspaper was “alive,” and no one else was allowed to touch it.  Once he read it, it became “dead,” and he would dispose of it.  If anyone, for any reason, touched one if the “alive” journals, Berg considered it dead and refused to read it. 

A NEW EXPERIENCE          In 1932 and 1934 Berg was a part of delegations that went to Japan to coach college teams there.  He was so captivated with the Japanese lifestyle that he slept on a tatami mat and traded his dark suit for a kimono, and he learned enough Japanese to be conversant.

During his second trip, Berg did something that opened up another career option later.  He didn’t show up for the final exhibition game, claiming afterward to have been sick.  Instead he donned his kimono, bought flowers and went to the hospital to visit the daughter of the US ambassador who had just given birth.  Speaking Japanese, he got her room number, walked past her fifth-floor room, threw the flowers in the trash and took the elevator up to the seventh floor where he climbed some stairs to the bell tower.  He reached into his kimono, pulled out a movie camera and documented military installations, shipyards, and industrial complexes around Tokyo.

While he was gone, Berg was released from Cleveland, but the Boston Red Sox added him to their roster.  He spent more time in the bullpen telling stories of his travels than behind the plate.  He spent a few more seasons in a Red Sox jersey, but his days as a player were numbered.  In 1940, the Sox put him on the coaching staff for $7,500 a year.

GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK          Becoming a coach was essentially being put out to pasture, and Berg was ready for something more challenging.  As World War II escalated, the thrill of getting the clandestine footage in Tokyo nudged him toward more international opportunities.  In January 1942, he retired from baseball and accepted an assignment from the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) to go to Latin America and monitor the overall health and fitness in the region for $22.22 a day.

His trip was delayed, but Berg was able to keep busy.  William Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), agreed to let Berg deliver an address directly to the Japanese people via short wave radio.  Speaking in Japanese, Berg reminded them of the mutual friendship they had shared with America, especially through the common love of baseball.  He encouraged them to denounce the political leadership that was leading them into committing national suicide.

Berg also took advantage of the postponement to find an audience for the film he shot in Tokyo.  He screened it for key members of the intelligence community.  The reaction to the footage was mixed, and the radio address had no real impact on the war, but both efforts proved Berg could handle clandestine work.

When he finally went to Latin America, his primary mission became to improve life for the US servicemen stationed there, something he thought was important.  But he wanted more, so he made contacts, poked around and got some intelligence on the Nazis in Brazil.  Washington liked his effort and tapped Berg for the OSS.  While he waited for that appointment to come through, he was distracted by the first woman who was more than just arm candy.

Estella Huni was a tall brunette who played and taught piano.  Like Berg, she was a voracious reader and spoke Italian, German and French.  She introduced Berg to music, and he taught her about baseball.  They lived together in New York, something respectable people didn’t do, and Berg’s father was so disapproving that he refused to meet his son’s girlfriend.

In early 1943 Berg officially joined the OSS for $3,800 a year.  He learned all the skills a spy would need at training camp and passed his final by entering a heavily guarded American defense plant and stealing classified information.  On May 4, 1944, Berg headed for Europe with $2000 in travel allowance, a .45 pistol and his black suits.  His assignment was to find out which German and Italian scientists were working on an atomic bomb, and his primary person of interest was German scientist Werner Heisenberg, considered to be the greatest theoretical physicist in the world.

GOING UNDERCOVER          Berg went wherever he wanted to go whenever he wanted and didn’t respond to orders to keep in touch with the OSS office.  He maintained his established daily routine and translated any documents he acquired into English.  He made contacts, and Paul Scherrer, the head of the physics department at a university in Zurich, Switzerland, led Berg to Heisenberg.  Scherrer and Heisenberg were friends and colleagues before the war.  Scherrer invited Heisenberg to Switzerland to give a lecture at the university, and attending would be Berg’s riskiest assignment.

Berg had studied physics, and he was briefed on what to listen for during the lecture.  If he heard anything that indicated the Germans were on the verge of using an atomic bomb, Berg was ordered to kill Heisenberg on the spot.

Doing something like this was the reason Berg joined the OSS.  On December 18, 1944, forty-two year old Berg dressed as a university student.  In his pockets he had two things he hoped he wouldn’t have to use: a pistol to kill Heisenberg if necessary, and a potassium cyanide capsule to kill himself.  He sat in the front row, and as he scanned the room, he realized that there were Nazi soldiers posted in various locations to keep an eye on Heisenberg.  Berg took notes as Heisenberg expounded on theoretical physics, the content and language a little over Berg’s head.

Berg didn’t hear anything in the lecture that warranted him to take action.  In talking with Scherrer afterward they agreed that Heisenberg was a German who was anti-Nazi.  Berg’s approach shifted, and he wanted to bring Heisenberg to America to work.  Scherrer thought that was a good idea and invited Berg to attend a dinner in Heisenberg’s honor where the scientist inadvertently confirmed the Allies wishful thinking.  When someone baited him with the comment that he really had to admit the Germans were losing the war, Heisenberg admitted that was true.  It was through Berg that the United States became confident that the Germans were not close to being able to detonate an atomic bomb.

The Heisenberg assignment was the highlight of Berg’s espionage career.  After the war there wasn’t much for him to do.  Berg resigned from the OSS in 1945 and became bored and restless.  He was nominated for the Medal of Freedom, but he respectfully rejected the award, although he never explained why.  It was hard to find something as interesting as being paid to roam the globe on secret missions for his country.  

During the Cold War he was sent to Europe on a couple of assignments for the CIA to find out how far along the Soviet Union was to having atomic weapons.  He got through a Russian checkpoint into Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) by holding up a paper with a big red star on it.  It was a piece of stationery from the Texaco oil company.  He loved being back in the field, but he refused to be accountable for his time or keep records of his expenses.  Berg hated bureaucracy, and that attitude wasn’t very compatible with government work.  In 1954 his contract expired and his security clearance was revoked.

Berg ran into financial trouble when a company he had invested in went bankrupt.  Adding in some unpaid personal taxes, the IRS claimed he owed over $12,000.  Not willing to be beholden to anyone and with no income, Berg ignored the notice, refused to make payments and even refused to declare bankruptcy.  Finally he made an offer to pay $1,500, and because Berg was a national hero, the IRS accepted.  He had to borrow the money from a friend.

LIVING LIFE ON HIS TERMS          During the latter part of his life, Berg depended completely on friends.  He never married, and technically he lived with his brother and then his sister in Newark, but he was really a vagabond staying with friends wherever he happened to land.  He carried his toothbrush and a list of phone numbers, and made friends with train conductors so he could ride for free.  People loved having him around, and he was a very entertaining raconteur.  He took advantage of their hospitality and often stayed for weeks.  He spent hours reading, and it was not unusual to see him at the ballpark watching a game.

Berg was not without his own problems.  In 1963 he started dressing very sloppily, and due to a large umbilical hernia, he no longer looked or acted like an athlete.  He refused to have it treated until four years later when he met a pediatric surgeon at a World Series game and came to trust him enough to do the surgery.  He also suffered from sundowner’s syndrome where he got disoriented when he woke up in the middle of the night and fell trying to find his way.

In May 1972 Berg was staying at his sister’s house when he fell out of bed at night and hit the night stand.  After four days he finally consented to go to the hospital and was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurism.  On May 29 he asked the nurse, “How are the Mets doing today?” and then died before he could hear the answer.

QUESTION:  What contradictions do you have in your personality that make you seem like two different people?  How does that impact your life?

©2011 Debbie Foulkes All Rights Reserved

Sources:

Dawidoff, Nicholas, The Catcher Was a Spy; The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.  New York: Pantheon Books, 1994.

Kaufman, Louis; Fitzgerald, Barbara; Sewell, Tom, Moe Berg, Athlete, Scholar, Spy.  Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.

http://www.moeberg.com/

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/MBerg.html

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bergmo01.shtml

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ELIZABETH BENTLEY (1908 – 1963) Communist Spy & FBI Informant

In American History, Cold War, Espionage, Feminists on April 25, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Elizabeth Bentley

For Elizabeth Bentley, with the Great Depression came the demise of the American Dream.  As a young woman caught up in spying for the Russians, she idealistically believed that the security of communism offered hope for restoring opportunity and creating a future for American citizens.  Since the USSR was an ally of the United States during World War II, handing over secret documents to Moscow was really advancing the common mission.  But after the war, the Soviet Union became the enemy, and Bentley’s idealism turned to fear.  She saved her life by ruining the lives of others, but she couldn’t save herself from her personal demons.

Bentley’s parents were a dry goods merchant and a teacher in Connecticut, and they had only one child.  They were staunch Republicans and Episcopalians, and her father founded a temperance newspaper that promoted the evils of alcohol.  It was a strict and sheltered childhood for the young girl whose unscrupulous life as an adult belied her upbringing.

After high school, Bentley got a scholarship to Vassar where she majored in English and minored in Italian and French.  Being an only child did not give Bentley a sociable personality.  She was primarily a loner, but she mingled for the first time with people who thought radically differently from how she was raised.  Her mother died while she was in college, and when she graduated, Bentley used her inheritance to travel to Europe.  She had her first romance on the ship en route.

When she returned to the States, the only thing Bentley was qualified to do was teach, and she got a job at Foxcroft School, a prep school for girls in Virginia.  She left Foxcroft in 1932 and attended Columbia University Graduate School until she got a fellowship to the University of Florence.  Her dad died before she left for Italy, but he didn’t leave her any money.

Perhaps to compensate emotionally for being orphaned in her 20s, Bentley became very promiscuous.  She soothed her depression with alcohol and had to borrow money for her expenses.  All of these distractions affected Bentley’s academic standing.  She failed a course and was suspended twice.  While she was researching her thesis she had an affair with her professor who ordered his assistant to write Bentley’s paper for her, although she claimed she had written it herself.

During the summer of 1934 Bentley returned to New York and enrolled in business courses at Columbia.  She lived down the hall from a woman who used the name Lee Fuhr, a Communist who invited Bentley to go to meetings of the Communist Party.  Jobs were scarce during the Depression, and Bentley couldn’t find work.  The tenets of communism were more attractive in light of this dire situation, and Bentley eventually embraced the new political point of view

As a new member of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), Bentley had to go to four meetings a week, take classes in Marxism and Leninism, hand out fliers and go to rallies, and she served in several leadership roles.

I SPY             Bentley was able to work at a few part time jobs, but none of them had long term potential.  Her life opened up in 1938 when she decided to step up her involvement in the Party, and she met “Timmy” on a street corner.  “Timmy” was a Soviet operative.  His cover was the head of the World Tourists travel agency, but he actually supplied U.S. passports and other documents for Soviet spies.  Bentley knew “Timmy” for six months before she accidentally learned that he was really Jacob Golos (formerly Jacob Raisin), a Russian Jew who had survived a Siberian labor camp and, after becoming a United States citizen, helped found the CPUSA.  He was in charge of a network of spies and reported directly to the Soviets.  Golos was 18 years older and several inches shorter than Bentley.  He had a common law wife and son in Russia and was living with another woman when they met.  Even though operatives weren’t allowed to socialize together, it wasn’t long before they became intimate.  For the first time in her life, Bentley was in a real relationship and had meaningful work.

When Bentley was unemployed again, Golos decided she was ready for the next step and taught her how to be a spy.  He showed her how to properly use a pay phone, how to store important documents in her apartment, how to rig a book behind the door to detect a break in, how to burn or flush down the toilet important documents so they couldn’t be found, and how to lose a tail.

In April 1941, Golos had a heart attack.  He recovered, but the FBI was watching him, and he didn’t have much stamina.  Having been groomed to take over for Golos when the time came, Bentley was ready to step into his shoes.  A new cover company was formed, United States Service and Shipping Corporation (USS&S), and she became the vice president earning $200 a month, with frequent raises up to $800 a month and a very generous expense account.

CLEVER GIRL             Bentley also took over as supervisor for Golos’ network, and the Soviets gave her the code name umnitsa, meaning “Clever Girl.”  She became a handler supervising individuals, including William Remington who worked at the War Protection Board.  She was also in charge of the Silvermaster Group, one of the biggest spy networks in America.  Members of Silvermaster Group included her direct contact Nathan Silvermaster who worked in the Agriculture Department, and others who worked at the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury, the most influential being Harry White, the undersecretary of the Treasury.

Golos died Thanksgiving night 1943, and Bentley comforted herself by drinking, most often to excess.  The following year the Silvermaster Group and an additional one, the Perlo Group, were taken away from her, and the Soviets weren’t quite sure what to do with her.  She was told to report to a new contact, “Al,” Anatoly Gorsky, the first secretary at the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. and the local head of KGB operations.

In 1945, Gorsky ordered Bentley to relinquish all her contacts and to quit working at USS&S.  Since some of the contacts knew her phone number and address, she had to move for security reasons.  She obeyed orders but then defiantly went back to USS&S because her replacement was doing a terrible job and she needed work.  She was acting hostile toward Gorsky, and he tried to get her to go to Moscow. She refused to go without the proper legal documents because she knew that if she did, she would never return.  Gorsky’s last attempt at calming Bentley down was to order her to take a vacation, and he started looking for an acceptable husband for her.  He appreciated her need for income, so he patronizingly gave her $2000.

Bentley could feel her life getting more difficult, and the intrinsic rewards for spying weren’t feeling so rewarding.  It was dawning on her that the Soviet priority was not to create more social equality in the United States, and the FBI was starting to investigate USS&S.  Bentley’s life was falling apart, so she took the recommended vacation in Connecticut.

As she later described a life changing experience, Bentley was walking around one day and stopped into a church to pray for guidance.  She heard a voice in her conscience that said “You must make amends.”  However, Bentley’s habit of exaggerating the facts for effect made fear and revenge more plausible explanations for her change of heart than a voice in her head.

CHANGING ALLEGIANCE             In August 1945, Bentley walked into the office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Connecticut using a fabricated reason for being there to test the waters.  The agent listened to her for two hours sensing that there was an underlying motive for her visit.  Bentley returned to New York and USS&S, and it wasn’t until October that she talked to the FBI again, continuing to misrepresent her intent.

During several subsequent interviews, Bentley finally revealed her story of espionage and named her contacts.  During the month of November she worked at USS&S during the day and talked to the FBI at night which resulted in a 107-page statement revealing 87 U.S. citizens and Russians who were spies in the U.S.  J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, was thrilled with Bentley’s report, and by December there were 72 special agents working to verify Bentley’s claims.  The only evidence Bentley had to support her accusations was the $2000 Gorsky had given her, and she surrendered it to the FBI.

The FBI gave Bentley the code name “Gregory,” but NKGB intelligence found out about her defection.  To minimize the damage she was doing to their networks, all espionage was stopped immediately and all Russian nationals were called home.  Now the Soviets wanted revenge, and Gorsky was part of the discussion about the best way to eliminate Bentley permanently.  He suggested poisoning her food, but the NKGB never did try to kill her.

One immediate effect of Bentley’s confession was that 24 of the 27 people she named who were still working in the federal government were no longer employed.  Then, after two years, the FBI got a lucky break in the investigation.  Army code breakers on a top secret decryption project called Venona were finally able to decode Soviet cables that detailed their spying activities in the United States.  When the names of the spies in the cables were cross referenced with Bentley’s statement, the FBI finally had the documentation they were looking for.  Although the existence of the cables remained secret, the agency had specific information to justify continuing their investigation.

While she was acting as an FBI informant, Bentley continued to work at USS&S until the president, John Reynolds, closed it down in early 1947.  Then she got some clerical jobs and started testifying in Grand Jury investigations.  Looking for work and testifying would be major preoccupations for the rest of her life.

DAMNING TESTIMONY             Bentley testified in front of grand juries, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS), and she was the first woman to appear on the television show Meet The Press.  Her testimony was responsible for indicting or convicting many alleged spies, and she was an important witness in two high profile cases.  Whittaker Chambers, an editor at Time magazine, confessed to HUAC that he and Alger Hiss, a lawyer who worked in the State Department and helped establish the United Nations, practiced espionage as members of the Communist Party.  Chambers had immunity, but Hiss was convicted of perjury.   Bentley corroborated his story.  Bentley also testified at the trial of Julius Rosenberg, who was ultimately convicted along with his wife for passing information to the Soviets about the atomic bomb.  She said that, although she had never met him, she had received phone calls from him.  The judge in Rosenberg’s appeal trial said that it was Bentley’s testimony that connected the Communist Party to the Soviet Union.

Part of Bentley’s personality that made her a good spy also served her well on the witness stand.  She stayed very calm and confident under intense scrutiny, often contradicting a cross-examiner if she felt it was necessary.  As valuable as she was to the FBI, however, she had no friends or reliable income.  She was characterized as a psychopath in rumors around Washington and received death threats.  Underlying her strong public persona was a woman who needed to self medicate her insecurities with alcohol, and the bottle became the most reliable thing in her life.

Bentley tried to mitigate her financial circumstances by writing her autobiography.  She holed up in a rented room in Westport, Connecticut while she poured her life out onto paper.  She reinvented herself as she wanted people to think of her: a woman who worked as a spy because she was in love with Golos and blindly idolized and obeyed him.  She conveniently failed to mention her own idealistic drive, the alcoholism and her numerous affairs.  The book, called Out of Bondage, was serialized in McCall’s magazine before it was released.  The magazine articles were more popular than the book, and the fabrications and unsubstantiated allegations made it difficult to determine what was fact and what was fiction.

SEEING THE LIGHT             In 1948, Bentley discovered another form of relief.  She had a religious awakening, and on November 5 she was baptized into the Catholic Church by Monsignor Fulton Sheen.  She considered this her ultimate break with communism.  Not everyone believed that Bentley’s new found faith was sincere, however, since there were many people in the Catholic Church who were anticommunist and could help her.

Monsignor Sheen did, in fact, help Bentley.  She never got paid for giving testimony for the FBI, so she needed a job.  Sheen got her a teaching job at Mundelein College, a Catholic women’s college in Chicago, for $3,500 a year.  Openly living with a man out of wedlock and alcoholism did not make her a good role model for her students, and she agreed to resign.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD             For Bentley there were other jobs, more boyfriends, and new opportunities to testify, but nothing could make her happy or pay her bills.  She knew how much the FBI valued her in exposing and bringing down Communist infiltrators, and she used that to her advantage.  She created reasons for them to continue to need her by embellishing her stories with new facts and allegations, and when she got really desperate she would threaten to stop cooperating.  In order insure that Bentley would continue to be a favorable witness, the FBI would capitulate to her demands by giving her money, driving her to appointments, reducing a hit and run traffic violation and getting rid of a violent suitor.  When she owed the Internal Revenue Service $3,700 in taxes for creative distribution of her book royalties, she threatened to “blow the lid off the administration” if she didn’t get help.  Once again her contacts rallied and she got her IRS debt reduced to $1,000, the U.S. attorney got her reinstated to a teaching job, and the FBI chipped in $100. In return for their generosity, the government agents had to deal with an increasingly irrational and ungrateful woman,

Bentley had a hard time making the connection between her behavior and reputation and losing teaching jobs, and in a disillusioned moment, she left the Catholic Church.  She desperately turned again to the only source she could trust.  Bentley wrote a letter directly to J. Edgar Hoover essentially asking for a character reference to help her get another job.  He responded with a letter that simply confirmed that the testimony Bentley had given was true, not a glowing recommendation.

In the fall of 1959, Bentley did get one more opportunity to work, at the Long Lane School in Middletown, Connecticut.  At this reform school for girls, Bentley had more in common with this population of misfits than any previous student body.  She continued to write directly to Hoover, and he answered her letters not as a friend, but in case the FBI needed her to testify in the future.

In 1960, while teaching at Long Lane, Bentley received a master’s degree in education from Trinity College.  For three years her life was the most stable it had ever been, and she enjoyed her privacy away from public scrutiny.  The week before Thanksgiving 1963, Bentley went to the doctor complaining of severe stomach pains.  On December 2 she had exploratory surgery, and the surgeons found her abdominal cavity was so full of cancer there was nothing they could do.  They closed her up, and she died the following day, one month before her 56th birthday.  Even though there were lengthy obituaries written about her in the New York Times and the Washington Post recounting her valuable contribution to the government’s effort to eliminate communism in its ranks, only a handful of colleagues and FBI agents attended her funeral.

QUESTION:  Have you ever done something you really regretted later?  How did you deal with it?

©2011 Debbie Foulkes All Rights Reserved

Sources:

Kessler, Lauren, Clever Girl: Elizabeth Bentley, the Sy Who Ushered in the McCarthy Era. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.

Olmsted, Kathryn S., Red Spy Queen, a Biography of Elizabeth Bentley. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

http://homepages.nyu.edu/~th15/who.html

http://www.atomicarchive.com/Bios/Rosenberg.shtml