THE Christian Science Monitor's first Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist, Edmund Stevens, always denied he was a Communist. Newly
released documents from the Soviet archives indicate that Stevens
joined the Communist Party in the United States.
According to the Russian records, Stevens, who won the Pulitzer
in 1950, joined the Young Communist League (YCLUSA) in 1931 and the
American Communist Party (CPUSA) in 1938.
The disclosure of Stevens's affiliation is in the book "The
Secret World of American Communism," which was released yesterday
by the Yale University Press. The information was a surprise to the
Christian Science Publishing Society, which had made attempts in
the past to determine if Stevens was a Communist.
David Cook, editor of the Monitor, says: "If Stevens did join
the party, whether as a youthful experiment, out of a deeper
commitment to communism, or as a means of securing an exit visa for
his family, the fact should not have been hidden."
Stevens's son, Edmund Jr., who now lives in Boston, hypothesizes
that his father may have joined the party in an effort to get his
family an exit visa from the Soviet Union. It was a time when
Stalin was purging opponents, and many people, including
foreigners, felt in danger.
The new book's authors -- Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and
Fridrikh Igorevich Firsov -- found the first reference to Stevens
in a July 1942 inquiry from Pavel Mikhailovich Fitin, the head of
foreign intelligence for the NKVD -- a forerunner of the KGB -- to
the Communist International (Comintern). The Comintern directed
Communist movements around the world. Stevens at the time was
trying to get a visa to enter Russia as an adviser to Gen. Russell
Maxwell, an aide to W. Averell Harriman, one of President Franklin
Roosevelt's most trusted assistants.
The reply from Comintern informed Fitin about Stevens's
Communist affiliation, including the assertion that in 1926 the
then-16-year-old belonged to a school organization of Italian
fascists for two months in Rome.
Apparently the Comintern pulled out of its files a 1938 letter
from Edward Browder, the general secretary of the CPUSA. Mr.
Browder stated: "I knew Edmund Stevens when he was working in the
American youth movement, and I found his work to be satisfactory.
For our part there are no objections to his being given work in
Moscow, where he could be useful."
The Comintern said it had no more recent information about him.
Mr. Klehr says there is no indication that Stevens did any
espionage work for Soviet authorities. …