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Cross post from H-Diplo 22 July 2003 Commenting on: From: Susan Butler <firstname.lastname@example.org> "Hornbeck's assistant was Alger Hiss. Are there any comments on the significance of this fact?" Whealy comments: About 1975 Alger Hiss came to Ohio University to plead his case that Nixon and the FBI forged the pumpkin papers and the typewriter. I was 18 in 1948 and have remained neutral about the case ever since. I do not have sufficient evidence to vote for or or against Hiss. In any case, I invited him in 1975 to lecture to my diplomatic history class. He chose to lecture on Hornbeck in 1938. He gave a somewhat sympathetic portrait of a pro-British old aristocrat who dominated the Far Eastern Desk. He made no comment on Japan, Ambassador Grew, or the Soviet Union. I left 10 min for questions and I allowed the students to ask any question they wanted. They were rather naive from the perspective of my generation. I took a poll before Hiss came. 1 out of 20 had ever heard of Hiss and nobody had heard of Chambers. They knew next to nothing about communism and were living in the post Vietnam amnesia. They had been lied to for too long by TV. I later had dinner with about 5 or 6 colleagues and Hiss. I did not ask him anything about Hornbeck, but we did discuss Donald Hiss his younger brother. Don joined Acheson's staff in the State Department to ration oil exports to Japan in July 1941. If I were younger or had a PhD student, I would have encouraged him/her to write a paper on the theme of this net. I have an unproven hypothesis that the papers that Hiss photoed for Chambers probably referred to the Sino-Japanese War. In any case, I remain agonistic about the whole case. The many books hostile to Hiss, never discuss what was in the pumpkin papers. They were probably low grade intelligence hardly harmful to the State Department or Roosevelt. Japan and the USSR were fighting an undeclared war on the Manchurian frontier. In general, most diplomatic historians are naive about intelligence and exaggerate its importance in deciding battles or the fate of the balance of power. This kind of sensational journalism probably dates from World War I romantic stories about "secret weapons" the "decisive turn" in the front, the "quick fix that turns the tide." Robert Whealey Ohio University