Ludwig Lore (1875 – 1942) was an American socialist newspaper editor and politician, best remembered for his tenure as editor of the New Yorker Volkszeitung and role as a factional leader in the early American communist movement. During the middle 1930s, Lore wrote a daily foreign affairs column for the New York Post and secretly worked recruiting potential agents and gathering information on behalf of the Soviet foreign intelligence network.
Lore was editor of the German-language socialist daily published in New York City, the New Yorker Volkszeitung. Under Lore the paper had more the feel of a tabloid magazine than a typical straight newspaper, an orientation which is said by one historian to have "suited his personality and approach."
The historian Paul Buhle has written of Lore:
"He was a jolly man whose political and aesthetic inclinations fit no prescribed categories. If he enjoyed a particular writer, in any of the many languages he could understand, he ordered translations made, or did them hmself. He printed classics galore, but he also went out of his way to encourage young artists. He did not, personally, have any great immediate hopes for the dramatic transformation of the United States. Rather, the [New Yorker Volkszeitung] set itself to create an enjoyable publication for the aging reader, whose main political activities centered around fraternal, support, and leisure activities. Unlike the other immigrant papers whose editors had to battle for left positions (likewise readership) against social democratic or conservative elements in their own communities, the [New Yorker Volkszeitung] already had all the readers it would ever require. Lore needed to hold onto them, through chains of loyalty and the charms of literary excellence."
Lore was married to a woman named Lilly and together with her had three boys.
During this interval, Lore's New Yorker Volkszeitung was brought into the communist orbit, albeit neither fully nor wholeheartedly. The paper professed what was essentially a Communist interpretation of international events and advocated a general Communist policy at home, yet was only partially and unwillingly dragged into the mire of the bitter factional Communist Party politics of the 1920s.
One historian notes:
"For the [New Yorker Volkszeitung] veteran, the struggle for political, electoral socialism in the United States had taken decades of self-sacrifice and many reversals. Readers of the paper had never been happy with the 'underground' mentality of the early Communist movement, because they viewed hyperrevolutionary rhetoric as the worst possible response to repression. The formation of a legal Workers Party in 1922, and the beginnings of a political campaign structure (minimal though it was), encouraged them greatly."
Lore was two times a candidate of the Workers Party of America, running for Lieutenant Governor of New York in 1922 and for U.S. Congress in the New York 14th District in 1924.
Post-Communist Party years
Lore was an independent thinker who was reluctant to take political orders, a personal characteristic which made him unsuited for the increasingly centralized Communist movement of the late 1920s. In addition, his well-known personal fondness for Leon Trotsky, established during Trotsky's time living in New York, during which he wrote for The Class Struggle, made Lore an easy target for factional opponents.
In 1925, fearing proto-Trotskyist indiscipline, Lore was brought up on charges before the executive of the Workers (Communist) Party's German Language Federation. When the executive refused to expel Lore, changes were made in the composition of the body to make Lore's expulsion inevitable. Lore was expelled from the organization later that same year.
As editor of the Volkszeitung, Lore attempted what has described as a "balancing a feeling for a theoretical Marxist line with a more sensitive reading of American political culture," in which he "tried, and ultimately fialed, to develop a communism that would meet the demands of the aging generation of radical German-Americans in the 1920s and 1930s."
By the end of the 1920s, the Volkszeitung had lost some of its radical edge, taking the form of a more vaguely "socialistic" labor and cultural publication, complete with wire service photos and non-political fare such as radio listings and classic literature. Lore sought to occupy political space in between social democracy and communism, a position roughly akin to that of the Independent Labour Party in Great Britain.
As the 1920s came to a close and the Communist Party moved into an ultra-sectarian phase known as the "Third Period," Lore found himself disaffected from his old party comrades. His Volkszeitung continued to defend the policies of the Soviet Union, however, and sought to support CP-sponsored initiatives in which radicals of various stripes could work together for common objectives, such as the International Workers Order and the International Labor Defense.
In 1931, Lore gave up the editorship of the ailing Volkszeitung to become a freelance journalist. Three years later, Lore joined the editorial staff of the New York Post, for which he wrote a daily foreign affairs column called "Behind the Cables." In his column, Lore frequently emphasized the threat to world peace implicit in the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party in Germany.
During this interval, Lore was recruited to work for the foreign intelligence network of the Soviet Union, working under the code-names "Leo" and "10." According to Russian historian Julius Kobyakov, who had access to his official files, "Leo" began his work for Soviet intelligence in 1933, recruited by Soviet intelligence rezident Valentin Markin. Whittaker Chambers knew Lore because they both reported to Markin.
By the middle of 1934, Lore had begun to supply information gathered from sources which he had recruited, code-named "Willi" and "Daniel." A January 1935 report described Lore as a recruiter and handler of agents for Soviet intelligence who was responsible for gathering information from four sources. Lore received $350 per month for his services.
Espionage historians John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev credit Lore with the recruitment and handling of David A. Salmon (code-named "Willi"), one of Soviet intelligence's most important information assets in the US government. Citing Soviet archival evidence, the historians charge that from 1934 until early 1937 Lore paid Salmon, chief of the U.S. Department of State's communication and archives division, a stipend of $500 per month in exchange for classified diplomatic communications — information then passed along to the Soviets. While it is not clear whether Salmon was aware he was providing information to a foreign government or merely leaking information for a fee to a prominent New York Post journalist, or even whether Salmon was "Willi" at all, the fact remains that for several years Soviet intelligence had unparalleled access to the secret communications of prominent diplomatic and military decision-makers through Lore's connection.
According to John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Lore's contact with Soviet intelligence seems to have been ended in 1937 owing to a belief in Moscow that Lore retained ties to the Trotskyist movement. In the superheated atmosphere of the Great Purge the Trotskyists were believed by Soviet authorities to be engaged in an international terrorist conspiracy aimed at the overthrow of the Stalin regime and Lore's purported connection cast doubt upon his loyalty and reliability. In addition, Lore was believed by his Soviet handlers to have been guilty of financial improprieties, taking the form of double-dipping for multiple monthly expense stipends. In fact, the real reason for the Soviet's termination of relationship was their discovery that Lore had cheated them about the identity of his sources at the Department of State.
Russian historian Svetlana Chervonnaya asserts that Lore falsely claimed the high ranking functionary Salmon as his source so as to throw his Soviet handlers off the trail to the fact that he was himself rewriting information obtained from "lower level clerks at the Communications and Records Division." After enhancing the mundane information which he received with his own interpretive content, Lore then pocketed the handsome monthly stipend which was purportedly destined for the top-ranking official Salmon, Chervonnaya charges.
Chervonnaya indicates that in February 1937 Lore's deception was discovered by Soviet intelligence when they rented an apartment across the street from Lore and began round-the-clock surveillance.
Chervonnaya cites the published work of Julius Kobyakov as the basis for her challenge:
"Throughout the whole period of surveillance, he left his home only once, for four hours. For three nights running, [Lore's] study was bustling with work, with the participation of all the family members; in particular, [Lore's] wife and son were taking turns at the typewriter typing something. When providing us with the materials, [Lore] repeated his usual lies about a trip to Washington and meetings with sources. * * *"The situation was aggravated in late spring 1937, when the Soviet 'illegals' managed to ascertain that the 'Willie' and 'Daniel' whom Lore had presented to his Soviet handlers, were 'dummies.'"
"With the results of physical surveillance, the Centre arrived at a preliminary conclusion, that [Lore] was an exceptionally talented compiler. The use of information from open sources, fishing in them for any new data, as well as their analysis and evaluation, often produce outstanding results; many intelligence services do not neglect this method of information-gathering. But such work is considered auxiliary to the main task — obtaining information from agent sources... * * *
According to historians Haynes and Klehr, the exact date of Lore's termination by Soviet intelligence is not known and no record of him is said to be found in secret police archives after April 1937. In fact, according to Lore's case file, on July 2, 1937, Moscow Centre instructed its New York “illegals” to break off the relationship with Lore and “to take measures to avoid any hostile actions” on his part.
Death and legacy
Ludwig Lore died in 1942.
- Paul Buhle, "Ludwig Lore (1875-1942)." in Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas (eds.), Encyclopedia of the American Left. First edition. New York: Garland Publishing Co., 1990; pg. 434.
- Solon DeLeon with Irma C. Hayssen and Grace Poole, The American Labor Who's Who. New York: Hanford Press, 1925; pp. 140-141.
- Paul Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung: The Twilight of the German-American Socialist Press" in Elliott Shore, Ken Fones-Wolf, and James P. Danky (eds.), The German-American Radical Press: The Shaping of a Left Political Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992; pg. 171.
- Svetlana Chervonnaya, "Ludwig Lore (1875-1942)," DocumentsTalk.com, Moscow. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore (1875-1942)," in Encyclopedia of the American Left, pg. 435.
- Paul Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pg. 172.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pp. 172-173.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pg. 175.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pg. 176.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pp. 176-177.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pg. 177.
- Editorial note in Elliott Shore, Ken Fones-Wolf, and James P. Danky (eds.), The German-American Radical Press: The Shaping of a Left Political Culture, pg. 146.
- Buhle, "Ludwig Lore and the New Yorker Volkszeitung," pg. 178.
- John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009; pg. 155.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 156.
- I.N. Kobiakov, “Bumazhnaia fabrika,” (The Paper Mill) by in Ocherki istorii rossiiskoi vneshnei razvedki: Tom 3, 1933-1941 gody. (Essays on the History of Russian Foreign Intelligence, vol. 3, 1933-1941). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 2003; pg. 191.
- Whittaker Chambers, Witness. New York: Random House, 1952; pp. 317, 389, 412.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 157.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 198. Note that the veracity of the identification of "Willi" as Salmon has been challenged by Russian historian Svetlana Chervonnaya.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 196.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 199.
- Svetlana Chervonnaya, "David Aden Salmon (1879-?)," DocumentsTalk.com. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- Haynes, Klehr, and Vassiliev, Spies, pg. 158.
- Svetlana Chervonnaya, "Ludwig Lore: A Background File," DocumentsTalk.com. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- I.N. Kobiakov, “Bumazhnaia fabrika,” (The Paper Mill) by in Ocherki istorii rossiiskoi vneshnei razvedki: Tom 3, 1933-1941 gody. (Essays on the History of Russian Foreign Intelligence, vol. 3, 1933-1941). Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia, 2003; pp. 191-199. Svetlana Chervonnaya, translator. Available online at http://www.documentstalk.com/wp/ludwig-lore-a-background-file
- "Our National Executive Committee," The Class Struggle, vol. 2, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1918), pp. 123–125.
- "Leon Trotsky," in Year One of Revolution: Celebrating the First Anniversary of the Russian Soviet Republic, November 7, 1918. Brooklyn, NY: The Class Struggle, 1918; pp. 7–8.
- "In the Throes of the German Revolution," Dance of the Ten Thousand. New York: Rand School of Social Science, December 31, 1918; pp. 12, 15.
- "The National Convention," The Class Struggle, vol. 3, no. 3 (August 1919), pp. 346–348.
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- "My Position Toward the Farmer-Labor Movement," The Daily Worker, vol. 2, no. 239 (December 29, 1924), pg. 5.
- Nazi Politics in America: Are Nazi Agents Spreading Propaganda Here? If So, Who and Where are They? New York: American Jewish Committee, 1933.
- "How Germany Arms," Harper's Magazine, April 1934, pp. 505–517.
- "A Nazi Confesses," New International, vol. 2, no. 1 (January 1935), pp. 19–20.
- "Will Europe Go to War," The Nation, vol. 145, no. 4 (July 24, 1937) and no. 5 (July 31, 1937), pp. 127–129.
- Svetlana Chervonnaya, "Ludwig Lore: A Background File," DocumentsTalk.com. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- James P. Cannon, The CEC, the Minority and Comrade Lore: How the Minority “Fought” Lore When They Controlled the Party," from James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism: Selected Writings and Speeches, 1920-1928. New York: Spartacist Publishing Company, 1992.