J. Peters bigraphy, stories - Spies

J. Peters : biography

August 11, 1894 - 1990

J. Peters (born Sándor Goldberger; 1894–1990) was the most commonly known pseudonym of a man who last went by the name "Alexander Stevens" in 1949. Peters was an ethnic Jewish journalist and political activist who was a leading figure of the Hungarian language section of the Communist Party USA in the 1920s and 1930s. From the middle 1930s, Peters was actively involved in the espionage activities of the Soviet Union in the United States, fabricating passports, recruiting agents, and accumulating and passing along confidential and secret information.

In October 1947, Peters was served with an arrest warrant for alleged violation of the Immigration Act of 1924, which required alien immigrants in America to possess a valid visa. On August 3, 1948, while appearing under subpoena before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), Whittaker Chambers, identified Peters as a spy. Later that month, Peters appeared under subpoena before HUAC but did not cooperate. He invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer sensitive questions. On May 8, 1949, Peters left for communist Hungary to avoid imminent deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Peters remained in Hungary until his death in 1990.


  • The Communist Party: A Manual on Organization


Early years

Sándor Goldberger (or Alexander Goldberger

 ) was born August 11, 1894 in the town of Csap, Ruthenia, in the northeastern part of what was then part of the Kingdom of Hungary. There were about 3,000 people in the town at the time of Sándor's birth, including a substantial number of ethnic Jews like the Goldbergers who had fled from official and popular repression in Tsarist Russia. 

Many of the Jews of throughout the Kingdom of Hungary attempted to assimilate into society by the adoption of local language and customs, speaking Hungarian rather than Yiddish and in general attempting to become, in the words of one scholar, "more Magyar than the Magyars themselves." Peters' biographer notes that this seems to have been the case with the Goldberger family, who apparently spoke Hungarian in the home and who gave all three of their sons — Sándor, József, and Imre — ethnic Hungarian names.Sakmyster, Red Conspirator, p. 3.

Like most Jewish families in Csap, the Goldberger family was poor, with Sándor's father working as a train brakeman before leaving to join his wife running a restaurant. The family seems to have been secular rather than actively religious members of the Jewish faith, although it remains possible that they held nominal membership in a local synagogue.

In 1899 Sándor was sent to the large city of Debrecen to live with his grandfather, where educational opportunities were brighter than those of Csap. Sándor attended and graduated from primary school and gymnasium in that city. He apparently developed an affinity for the workers movement at a similarly early age, influenced by his grandfather and an uncle who were active participants in the railroad and machinist unions.

Following his graduation from gymnasium in 1912, Sándor decided to become a lawyer, enrolling in the law school at the University of Kolzsvár in Transylvania.Sakmyster, Red Conspirator, p. 4. He did not attend courses in that city, however, instead studying law on his own in Debrecen and returning only to take examinations. (Whittaker Chambers stated in his memoirs that, "He had studied law at the university of Debrecen in Hungary.") In order to support himself, Sándor worked briefly in an office job before taking a position teaching at the gymnasium in Debrecen.

With the coming of World War I in the summer of 1914, Sándor Goldberger was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army, receiving training in the infantry. Sándor was selected for officer training and early in 1915 he received a commission as a Lieutenant in the infantry reserve.Sakmyster, Red Conspirator, p. 5. Sándor was assigned to the Italian Front, where he remained for the duration of the war.

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Living octopus

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