0189_Out of Bondage: The Story of Elizabeth Bentley_1951_an auto-biography of an American spy for the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945 – Part 1– introduction by dj

Donna Jack
March 13, 2017/updated Mar 15, 2017

Recently I completed my first reading of Elizabeth Bentley’s autobiography, Out of Bondage:  The Story of Elizabeth Bentley.  This blog is an introduction to the personal drama that Elizabeth Bentley lived through. You will experience breath-taking adventure as you read for yourself — the first-hand account of her life as an international Soviet Communist espionage agent!

NOTE:  Soviet espionage is not confined to the 1930s and 1940s.  It has continued, and still exists today.

Through her book, Elizabeth takes you with her as she comes to believe that she is going to help make the world a better place for everyone.  Eventually you will experience with her, the growing horror that she feels, as she gradually discovers she has been duped — and then realizes that she is trapped.  She finds herself part of a world-wide sinister plan to enslave the part of mankind that will be allowed to live.  Would she be allowed to live, or would anyone else  she knew survive?

Elizabeth Bentley is another one of our true American Heroes who ends up risking everything, including her own life, in order to help uncover the operation that she for many years, had an active part in implementing and managing.

This blog piece focuses on some of how she got ensnared into Communism.

Her experience is in many ways common to countless people who have gotten sucked into supporting the goal of Communist world domination, believing the fantasy that Communist promise:  justice and fairness for all mankind.

How can an educated, white, middle-class person, get to the point in their life, where they want to risk their life to help destroy their own country?  As you read Elizabeth’s autobiography you find some answers to that question.

Elizabeth returns home, from Italy.

Elizabeth begins her book in July 1934.  At that time she is in her 20s, having just returned to the United States after studying a year in Italy. In Italy she witnessed Fascism first-hand under Mussolini’s regime, and it terrified her.  In the United States she was seeing chaos that seemed to have been caused by the two depressions, and she feared that Fascism would soon be here.

Two months later in September of 1934 she hadn’t found employment.  Seeing no hope for our economy, Elizabeth was ripe to support something that she thought would answer her desire to “insure a just world where men could live and work like human beings.” p. 4

Both her parents had died, leaving her some money from her father’s estate; but it would not support her for long.  So she decided to enroll in the Columbia University business school, and acquire skills necessary to qualify her for a secretarial job.

She meets Lee

Elizabeth rented a furnished room across the hall from Lee Fuhr, who was taking classes at the Teachers’ College of Columbia University.  Elizabeth was impressed that though Lee had come from a very poor family; and Lee had had to work in high school to help support her family;  and Lee had married when very young; and her husband had died when Lee was carrying their first child — that Lee, with all her trials, continued always to be happy, loving, and ready to help people.  Elizabeth was impressed that Lee knew for certain that she could help end starvation and poverty in the world.

Elizabeth, like Lee, also had great compassion for people, compassion that she learned from her mother who had always cared for people.  But unlike Lee, Elizabeth was lonely, aimless and discouraged — she was neither secure nor working toward any certain goal.

They both agreed Fascism and Nazism were evils to be fought_
but Lee knew she “had the answers”

Elizabeth learned that she and Lee agreed Fascism as well as Nazism were evil and had to be eradicated from the world.  Lee introduced Elizabeth to what Lee told her was the doorway that leads to correcting these evils, and correcting other evils as well.  The doorway was The American League Against War and Fascism.

The Columbia University Teachers’ College branch of the American League Against War and Fascism, was made up of professors, graduate students and some people from the community.  Elizabeth found the members of the League optimistic, and relentlessly focused on a goal.  All the members shared a contageous excitement.

Since Elizabeth saw no future for herself, she decided to get involved with this “electric” group, and with all her might, she joined in the work she strongly believe in —  the fight against Fascism.

As Elizabeth got to know the people in the League, she found all of them were “generous and genuinely kind under all circumstances.  They seemed to have a heartfelt concern for the welfare of other human beings.”  p. 8

Elizabeth’s life was becoming more and more involved with people in the League, and also with the cause they were advancing.  The League kept her very busy.  She didn’t realize that she was isolating herself from all other people and interests.

One day Elizabeth told Lee that she understood what the League was against, but she had no idea what it was really standing for,.  She wanted to know.

Lee told her that the League was protecting our democracy, but Elizabeth didn’t think there was any democracy left to protect.  From Elizabeth’s observations, she was certain that human greed had caused all the problems that she saw around her, destroying democracy in the process.

Lee disagreed with Elizabeth, and told her that the greed she saw was only a by-product of capitalism.  In other words, capitalism causes greed.  She said that people aren’t greedy by nature, and that greed would disappear if the profit motive were eliminated.  Without the profit motive, everyone would happily work, and produce, and keep only what they actually needed.  There would then be an abundance left over for everyone.

Lee reported to Elizabeth that her dramatics teacher had studied in the U.S.S.R., and that in the U.S.S.R. they had figured out everything– all was working out perfectly fine over there.

Elizabeth was skeptical, and brought up the bloody revolutions that had ushered in the changes in Russia, fearing revolution would break out here as well.  But Lee assured her the United States was different, and that the changes here would come about through laws, negotiations between employers and groups representing workers, and the use of other peaceful methods.  With the passage of time, workers would have more and more control of businesses, and owners would eventually sell out their interests and become managers.  There would be no more greed.

Elizabeth truly believed that if any good changes were to take place here, they would have to be based on the Christian principles she had learned from her parents. But it would take a very large organized effort to make the changes that were needed for that kind of improvement.  Could there ever be such an organization?

A group that brings together all the diverse efforts
in order to change society for the better

Lee told her there already was a group of people organized who would lead us all to the new society — it was “The Communists” — Lee was a member of the American Communist Party,  just one of many Communist parties around the world.  They all were affiliated under the Communist International (Comintern) which was headquartered in Moscow.  At that time Russia was the only Communist country in the world.

After her initial shock, Elizabeth went to one of the Communist meetings, and was surprised that she already knew so many of the Communists there. The Party members were made up of people who were:  rich, poor and in-between; and men and women with all levels of education in many professions.  Elizabeth was especially taken back to learn of all the professors at Columbia University Teachers’ College that were in the Communist group.   Lee said to Elizabeth:

” ‘Why, in Teachers’ College you’d be surprised to find . . .’  She stopped abruptly and looked at me warily:  ‘I shouldn’t have said that;  just forget it.’ ”  p. 19

Lee then told Elizabeth that Communists are just like anybody else, except that they “have a more highly developed social conscience than most” people outside the Party.  p. 19

Elizabeth ends up becoming a member of the American Communist Party
and moves up the ranks – not at her own request –
but because she is told to move up.

Once Elizabeth becomes an official Communist, she has to give up her own life and he own mind — but by the time she decides to join, she has already become more conditioned to do what she is told without thinking.  This obedient nature is increased until she eventually becomes a “steeled Bolshevism.”  p. 139

NOTE #1 from the editor of this blog:

What happened to Elizabeth has been replicated over and over.  This gives you part of a picture of what was going on in Elizabeth’s life and mind when she was introduced to Communism for the first time.  It is a familiar story that has been repeated over the decades – all across our country.  It is still being repeated, especially in our schools.  One difference is that it is not necessarily identified in the schools as Communism. Students are conditioned with subliminal messaging and other subversive psychological techniques.

NOTE #2 from the editor of this blog:
You can easily convince people to believe
what they want to believe.

Years later, Elizabeth Bentley looked back and wondered how she could have believed the claims of Communism.  One of the reasons she came up with was they promised to do what she hoped could be done to help our country.

The quote below is taken from the DVD  The Fall of Communism:  The Untold Story, a Robert Buchar Film.  The speaker is Angelo Codevilla — Professor of Internaitonal relations at Boston University — Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer and a membr of President-Elect Reagan’s Transition Team.

“The most difficult thing in the world is to try to convince people
that which they do not want to believe.
The easiest thing in the world is to in fact convince them
that which they want to believe.  No effort is required.
People will simply believe what they wish.”

Dishonest people take advantage of the above phenomenon, and use people’s wishes to ensnare them, or to neutralize them.

Did you notice that Elizabeth Bentley sincerely wanted to be able to  “insure a just world where men could live and work like human beings”? p. 4

After being with Lee, Elizabeth came to believe that if she joined with Lee, she could help cure all the greed in the world, and get rid of Nazism and Fascism.  She was willing to invest all of her time and energy trusting that the League could indeed do such miracles.  She trusted with blind faith.

Elizabeth was heading down a disastrous path

She had no idea at that time, but Elizabeth would sadly learn years later, that everything that Communists promise the masses are lies.  They tell people what they want to hear, but lead the people where the Communists want them to go.

Elizabeth would become consumed with responsibilities that she didn’t want to have; be told to do things she didn’t want to do and be forced to do them; lose her dearest loved one to death; become emaciated and be deprived of sleep; and live in constant fear for her life — this was all happening while she was working in the United States as one of the top “high level” Soviet espionage agents.

Even while she was suffering greatly under the iron fist of Moscow, she was exercising control over American Communists and Communist sympathizers, and placing spies within our government in Washington D.C. (All these were spies who were placed strategically – many patiently awaiting orders, or stealing secret information, or influencing our government policy).

_____________________________

Note:  Whittaker Chambers defected from the Communist party.  Elizabeth then added to her own espionage contacts, the ones who were under Chambers.

See Blog 0184_Whittaker Chambers_1948 witness in the case of Alger Hiss (A Soviet Espinonage Agent)

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