Ella Wolfe

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Ella Goldberg Wolfe (May 10, 1896 – January 8, 2000) was a Ukrainian-born American political activist and educator. With her husband Bertram Wolfe, she was one of the founders of the American Communist Party. Later in life, her political views shifted to the right.[1]

She was born Ella Goldber in Kherson and came to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her parents in 1906. She met Bertram Wolfe in 1910 when she was fourteen and they married in 1917. The couple, part of the cultural left, began work at the Rand School. After the passage of the Sedition Act of 1918, they were forced to go underground, living under assumed names. They lived for a time in Mexico City, where their circle of friends included Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. In 1929, they moved to Moscow but fell out with Stalin; they left two years later and returned to Brooklyn. Wolfe earned a degree in Spanish from Columbia University and went on to teach Spanish literature at Hunter College and in public schools in New York City.[1][2]

After Stalin aligned himself with Hitler in 1939, Wolfe and her husband abandoned communism and, in fact, became opponents of communism. At the time, the couple found themselves hated by the left and distrusted by the political right.[3]

In 1966, Wolfe moved to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where she spent her time editing her husband's papers and providing eye witness accounts to researchers of the historic times in which she lived.[2] Wolfe was consulted by researchers for the film "Reds".[4] She became politically conservative and was a supporter of Ronald Reagan.[1] She also became friends with Edward Teller, who was strongly anti-communist.[5]

She died at home in Palo Alto at the age of 103.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Hodgson, Godfrey (January 17, 2009). "Ella Goldberg Wolfe". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b Korro, Virginia Sanchez (March 3, 2011). "Of Teachers and History: A Brooklyn Memoir". Huffington Post.
  3. ^ Tanenhaus, Sam (January 7, 2001). "The Lives They Lived: 01-07-01: Ella Goldberg Wolfe, b. 1896; A Tale of Three Centuries". New York Times.
  4. ^ "Ella Goldberg Wolfe, a Figure in U.S. Communism Movement, Dies". Washington Post. January 15, 2000.
  5. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (January 13, 2000). "Ella Goldberg Wolfe, 103, Communist Turned Reaganite, Dies". New York Times.