18 May 2018

Music Theater Programs for Kids

[Two topics readers of Rick On Theater will know are of major interest to me are arts and theater education for school children and young adults and live music in the theater.  I’ve written about them and posted articles by other writers on this blog many times, but I still see a need to reemphasize the importance of supporting these efforts.  (See “Degrading the Arts,” posted on 13 August 2009; “The Sound of Muzak,” 16 June 2011; “Arts & Music Education,” 21 March] 2014; and “Arts In Schools,” 18 November 2015, among others.)  I’ve been holding on to two articles on the subjects for a couple of years now, and I feel this is a good time to republish them on ROT.  Both are about musical theater programs for children and one emphasizes the importance of live music to the experience. 

[First up is the transcript of a broadcast of “On Stage,” a program of NY1 News, the local news channel of Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum).  Hosted by Frank DiLella, the Emmy-winning (2018) host of “On Stage” who’s also appeared as a theater correspondent for the BBC, Sirius XM, “The Early Show” on CBS, CTV (Canadian private television broadcaster), and Al Jazeera TV, the program aired on 18 August 2012.] 

By: Frank DiLella

The classroom: Broadway. The course: musical theater. And the faculty: members of the Great White Way. Welcome to the school of Students Live!

Students Live! founder Amy Weinstein created the company after she was asked by the producers of the original production of “Rent” to form a curriculum that would help develop young audiences for Broadway.

“It grew into an interactive training ground to connect Broadway artists in front of and behind the scenes to young people from all over the world,” Weinstein said.

Students Live! teacher and “Wicked” dance captain Alicia Albright regularly conducts a Broadway choreography workshop for aspiring young performers. On the day NY1 stopped by, Albright was teaching a portion of the song “Dancing Through Life” to some students.

“The goal is that they leave remembering that hard work brings results and also, no matter what they do, whether they pursue this or not, if they do pursue it, hopefully it gives them hope and inspiration to pursue it and if they don’t, hopefully they will support the arts and the Broadway community for the rest of their lives,” Albright said.

“It kind of reminds us if we want to be an actor or singer, we can if we work hard and we put our minds to it,” said dancer Gianna Newborg.

While musical theater and Broadway are considered staples of American culture, in 2008 Students Live! opened up their program to folks overseas.

Forty-eight students from South Korea are currently putting the finishing touches on their musical show entitled “Journey to America.” The musical revue features well known Broadway songs including “One,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “NYC.” Tony-nominated actor John Tartaglia and Broadway casting director Benton Whitley recently attended a rehearsal to provide the kids with some musical theater advice.

“You forget that these kids are from another country. Most of them don’t speak English at all and all of a sudden they come here and in 14 days, it’s total immersion,” Tartaglia said. “All of a sudden, they’re singing all these complicated lyrics from 40 different Broadway shows. From where they started to where they are now, it’s incredible. It’s overwhelming.”

“I think a lot of times, kids from other cultures think they should be seen and not heard,” Whitley said. “I think theater is an incredible outlet for them to actually realize that’s not always the case.”

Veteran Broadway producer Alecia Parker said programs like Students Live! are essential for the New York theater community and beyond.

“It makes our industry stronger and builds new audiences for tomorrow, which we can’t ever forget about,” she said.

While her program seems to be thriving, Weinstein said she has big plans for the future.

“My goal in the next five years is to have a brand name that Broadway has as a conservatory on Broadway to develop younger audiences,” she said. “Not necessarily just to sell a ticket but to create what they need to cast in their shows and to create appreciation for all the shows.”

[For more information on the Students Live program, log on to www.studentslive.net.

[Since 2000, StudentsLive’s Award-Winning live interactive education programming have attracted over 100,000 participants from as far away as Guam, the UK, Italy, and from all across the United States.  The League of American Theatres and Producers and the Theatre Development Fund have awarded StudentsLive grants for Outstanding Education Programs on Broadway.  StudentsLive’s programs are now attracting adult groups and tour internationally in collaboration with presenters all across the world.

[Guest Speakers and workshop participants at the high profile Exclusive Student Matinees and Workshops on Broadway have included: Judge Judy, Geraldine Ferraro, Johnnie Cochran, Tommy Hilfiger, Kathy Lee Gifford, Susan Lucci, George Hamilton, Reba McEntire, Chazz Palminteri, Bernadette Peters, Joey Fatone, Scary Spice

[StudentsLive’s ongoing commitment is to create highly effective, interactive and engaging workshops, events and programs for audiences of all ages in partnership with the best theater the  U.S. has to offer, Broadway.  The organization offers a highly personal inside connection to live theater with educators, corporations, group leaders, families, Girl Scouts, adult individuals, and overall educated, sophisticated, and new theater attendees worldwide.

[StudentsLive’s mission is to create and inspire newer, better and wider audiences and artists alike: and to connect and provide deeply engaging and creative access to Broadway shows by offering the highest quality programming, and services on Broadway today.  As Hilary Clinton stated: “Programs like these enable a new generation of audiences to make the arts a permanent part of their lives.”]

*  *  *  *
by Bettina Covo

[The second article was originally published in the February 2014 issue of Allegro, the member magazine of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, the union that represents members of the pit orchestras for all Broadway and many Off-Broadway shows (among other gigs around town).  It’s no surprise, then, that its pages often contain articles in support of live music in New York theaters—Local 802 supplies the instrumentalists and music directors for all those shows.  I couldn’t agree with them more strongly—even though I don’t play an instrument.  This program, which AFM supports for obvious reasons, is Inside Broadway and the series in question is called Creating the Magic—because that’s what happens when drama, music, singing, and dancing all come together in a theater!  (It’s all the more appropriate that the production for this year was Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s most magical of all musicals, Cinderella—which ROTters will know is a show close to my heart since I saw it in its world première on television in 1957 (see my post “Cinderella: Impossible Things Are Happening,” 25 April 2013).]

Live music brings the magic of theatre to kids

What happens when you combine the wonders of live music with the power of live theatre? Magic! Recently, over 3,000 public school children were treated to a special holiday gift – a look behind the curtain into the inner workings of a Broadway show.

Inside Broadway has presented another wonderful production in its Creating the Magic series. This time, the show was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s magical “Cinderella” and the venue was the Broadway Theatre at 1681 Broadway.

As the morning began, excited students piled into the theatre, many of them rushing to take a peek at the musicians in the orchestra pit. Even though protective netting prevented anyone from getting too close, it didn’t stop the kids from trying. When asked if they played music, many of the students gleamed with pride as they named the instruments they studied. To say they were excited to hear live music from live musicians would be an understatement.

Inside Broadway’s executive director Michael Presser began the presentation with a short history of the Broadway Theatre, which was immediately followed by one of the numbers from the show. Spellbound, the children watched as the stage director and various crew members from the many theatrical departments – lights, sound, props, set changes, costumes – came out on stage to reveal the secrets of producing a Broadway show.

At every Creating the Magic event, representatives from Broadway unions are invited to speak. Recording Vice President John O’Connor attended on our behalf to talk about Local 802 and the importance of live music.

Later, the talented cast (Laura Irion, Andy Jones, Rebecca Luker, Laura Osnes and Kirstin Tucker) performed several more charming musical numbers from the show, accompanied by Local 802 members Brian Taylor (piano), Billy Miller (drums) and Mark Vanderpoel (bass), under the direction of musical director Andy Einhorn. After each number, Michael Presser interviewed the cast members to talk about their theatrical careers.

Andy Einhorn was then given the opportunity to address the audience from the podium, explaining the role of the music director in a Broadway show. The children were totally engaged, attentively listening to Einhorn talk about the music and the orchestra.

“Participating in Inside Broadway was truly a rewarding opportunity for me and the other musicians who helped out,” Einhorn said. “It was great to see so many children experience the joy of watching how the sets, props, lights and music all function to help create the totality that is a Broadway musical. We are blessed at ‘Cinderella’ to have a large orchestra thanks to our producers and our friends at the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization.”

The presentation concluded, aptly enough, with the song “There’s Music in You,” followed by a question-and-answer period. Most of the questions are usually directed towards the actors and sometimes the stage director and crew. This time, it was truly heartening to see so many of the children ask Andy Einhorn questions about being a Broadway musician. He was pleasantly surprised. “I particularly found myself encouraged that so many students had questions about how to become musicians on Broadway,” Einhorn said.

A young trumpet player asked “How does one become a Broadway musician?” Einhorn’s response, “Practice, practice, practice, but above all – have fun!”

And indeed, fun was had by all, especially the fortunate children who were privileged to see what it takes to produce the nightly miracle of a Broadway show. Thank you to the musicians and the creative team, and to Michael Presser and his dedicated staff as well as the board and patrons of Inside Broadway for giving everyone involved such a magical holiday gift. Finally, as reported in last month’s Allegro, Local 802 was recently asked to join the board of Inside Broadway. We’re proud that we are represented in this wonderful organization.

13 May 2018

Art New York 2018

I haven’t been to many art fairs; gallery shows and museum exhibitions, sure—plenty and varied.  Even the occasional artist’s studio.  I’ve been to the odd county fair that included a sampling of art and craftwork among the agriculture and artisanry exhibits.  (I even have a wonderful ceramic sculpture I bought at a Maryland county fair—the artist, Doug DeLind, is a Michigander—in around 1993.)  I went to an ArtExpo New York in about 1987 when it was housed at the then-newly opened Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s far West Side in Midtown.  Israeli sculptor Hayim (now known as Haim) Azuz was exhibiting there and I had bought one of his bronzes a few years earlier at the Israeli artists’ colony of Safed, so he sent me an announcement.  That was the extent of my exposure to art fairs until 4 May (yes, Star Wars Day) 2018 when I went up to Pier 94 at 55th Street and 12th Avenue on Manhattan’s Hudson River bank for Art New York 2018.

This year’s Art New York was the city’s fourth, running from Thursday, 3 May, to Sunday, 6 May; the inaugural fair was in 2015.  (Art New York, founded by Miamian Nick Korniloff, actually started in 2014 as the Downtown Art Fair, housed in the 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Avenue between East 25th and 26th Streets in Manhattan, not far from where I live.)  As it happened, the same period of May this spring was art fair week in New York City, with Frieze New York taking place on Randall’s Island on 4-6 May, TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) New York Spring 2018 at the Park Avenue Armory on 4-8 May, and 1-54 Contemporary African Art New York 2018 from 4-6 May in Brooklyn.  Also in Brooklyn the same weekend were The Other Art Fair, 3-6 May, and Fridge Art Fair, 2-6 May.  (In mid-April, the 2018 ArtExpo was installed at Pier 94.)  I got a brochure for Art New York, however, with a two-fer ducat (regular day tickets went for $40 with discounts available for seniors and students), so I called my friend Diana, a member of several art museums in New York City and a former art student at New York’s Art Students League, and asked if a trip to Pier 94 for the fair interested her.  She affirmed it did, so we met a 3 p.m. on that Friday and spent five hours (until closing) walking through the fair and it was fascinating. 

Art New York, an offshoot of Art Miami, includes nearly 100 galleries from 30 countries—including cities across the United States.  It’s a commercial set-up—there was a “VIP Preview” day on Thursday, 3 May, principally for gallery buyers and collectors—so the art is all for sale (at prices mostly in the five-figure range).  The fair’s promos state that Art New York displays “works by important artists from the contemporary, modern, post-war and pop eras” and provides “a platform for a selection of new and established contemporary galleries to present emerging, mid-career and cutting-edge talent.”  Each booth was a display by a retail gallery with work by such artists as David Hockney, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Anish Kapoor; there were also special exhibits like a solo show by Cey Adams (Gary Lichtenstein Editions of Jersey City, NJ), the original creative director of Def Jam Recordings; a display by Jason Newsted, the one-time Metallica bassist, of his on-going series, “RAWK” (55Bellechasse, Paris and Miami); and an installation by actor-turned-artist Adrien Brody. 

There was also a considerable presence of charitable organizations; for instance, the “RAWK” exhibit supported the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, which sponsors the arts and environmental, marine, and wildlife education and preservation, and the Cey Adams (American, b. 1962) exhibit benefited the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation that helps to fight homelessness and hunger in the U.S.  Also represented were the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan’s SoHo and the Joe Namath Foundation that supports several children’s charities and neurological research.

At 133,000 square feet, the T-shaped Pier 94 has become a preferred site for large exhibitions, both for trade shows and for art expositions.  Approximately 144 feet wide by 746 feet long, the pier building can be configured in several ways, but for Art New York, it was essentially a straight promenade of three aisles with cross-overs about every 25 yards or so and several side displays at the entrance.  (The building’s ceiling height is 20-26 feet, so the space feels cavernously high.)  There must have been about 150 display booths, clustered in groups of three to five, with a cocktail bar off to the left at the front, a café bar to the right, a “VIP Lounge” in the center, and a café at the far end. 

The booths were all identical, like oversized office cubicles, all white-walled and without ceilings, running in four rows along the length of the building.  Some of the art spilled over into the aisles, lending to the sense of a vast, almost endless space.  Looking down the aisle from the entrance, it seemed to go on forever—and when we actually reached the café at the western end of the exposition, I was taken a little by surprise.  There were few places to stop and sit down, aside from the lounge and the café, so five hours made for a long (and physically tiring) afternoon.  Since there’s no unifying theme as in museum shows and even most gallery exhibits, it was a lot like looking at an art kaleidoscope.  Fair publicity asserts that there were 1,200 artists represented.  I won’t be able to give a detailed “review” of Art New York,  so I intend just to try to describe my experience that Friday afternoon. 

This isn’t to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience.  I’m not sure I’d rush to repeat it, but it wasn’t a disappointment; after all, I did spend five hours there.  In general, I’m not enamored of the latest in art—say from the ’90s on (see my report on the Whitney Biennial, posted on 22 June 2017)—but there was also a lot of work from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s (and even earlier, the classics of 20th-century art), and some surprising exhibits that were interesting to see even if I wouldn’t want to own any of the art.  

Among the stalwarts of the 20th century were Stanley Boxer (represented in my late parents’ art collection by my mother’s favorite piece, Highfromblare (High From Blare), c. 1987; see my report “A Passion For Art: My Parents’ Art Collecting,” posted on Rick On Theater on 21 November 2017), Fernando Botero (ditto and Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib (2007),” 26 November 2017), Alexander Calder (“Calder: Hypermobility at the Whitney,” 21 August 2017), Marc Chagall, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Marcel Duchamp, M. C. Escher, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, Hans Hofmann, Robert Indiana (and his many imitators), Jasper Johns, Yayoi Kusama (whom I looked for but didn’t see on my visit; see my profile on 18 May 2017), Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Joan Miró, Kenneth Noland (of the Washington Color School; see my article on 21 September 2014), Pablo Picasso (yes, that guy), Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol (some of whose pieces on show were different from what I expect from this artist), among others. 

Diana, to her delight, was very taken with Sam Francis (American, 1923-94), an abstract expressionist whose work was exhibited by several galleries at Art New York.  Diana spotted a couple of his pieces in a display very close to the entrance, the Rosenfeld Gallery of Manhattan and Miami, and was so impressed with his use of color and space that she took a few cell-phone photos to send to her friend in Chicago who’s a former gallerist in that city.  After Untitled of 1953 (watercolor on paper on board) and untitled of 1990 (acrylic on paper), Diana stopped at many other Francis canvases in the exposition (Untitled SF87-071 (Acrylic), 1987, Gilden’s Art Gallery, London; Untitled, 1982, Masterworks Fine Art, Oakland, Calif.) and exclaimed to the gallery reps staffing the displays how much she admired the art for its “core,” by which she meant the solid basis of the work, the artist’s groundedness in the principles of his art, the seriousness of his intentions—as opposed, it appeared, to the impulsiveness of other, later expressionists who, Diana seemed to feel, just daubed paint haphazardly on the canvas or paper without consideration of balance or harmony.  (I’ve said before that Diana appears to like art that follows established principles and fits recognizable patterns, even in abstract art.  She displays the same predilection in theater.)

The Rosenfeld Gallery, right at the beginning of our trek, also displayed a number of other striking pieces by established artists, sort of setting a tone for the afternoon’s experience.  Aside from Francis, among the artists from the mid-20th century were Jean Dubuffet (French, 1901-85 – Group Society, 1979; Dessin Bonpeit beau neuille, 1982), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-97 – Landscape 7, 1967), Andy Warhol (American, 1928-87 – Jacqueline Kennedy II ( Jackie II), 1966; Rollover Mouse (From the Toy Painting Series), 1983), Kenneth Noland (American, 1924-2010; Doors Easel, 1989), and Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976 – Untitled, 1949; Untitled, 1965).  These are all artists with whose work I’m quite familiar—or so I thought. I got the same lesson throughout the fair.

Warhol’s Jacqueline Kennedy II, for instance, is a color silkscreen print of a photo bust of the former First Lady, not unlike other work by the pop artist, but Rollover Mouse (synthetic polymers and silkscreen inks on canvas), while it’s a recreation of the box from a child’s wind-up toy, it’s much more impressionistic than his iconic soup cans and Brillo boxes, with blurry edges of the lettering and the mouse figures.  Labeled a “unique work,” it’s also not the whole box, as if it were a cropped photo.  Lichtenstein’s Landscape 7, a screenprint on four-ply, white rag board using iridescent silver Mylar collage mounted on board, wasn’t one of his signature comic book scenes (though there were some of those around as well) but a geometric abstract, more Op than Pop. 

Calder, whose mobiles were the subject of the recent Hypermobility and whose wire sculptures were the heart of Focus at the Museum of Modern Art about a decade ago, was a surprise for me with his 1965 Untitled gouache on paper which, while it could have been a graphic representation of the elements of one of his more fanciful mobiles, was apparently filtered through the eye of Joan Miró with some of the Spanish Surrealist’s squiggles, arachnidan thingies, crescent moons, and discs floating over a schmeared pink-and-brown background.  (The two artists met in Paris in 1928 and became lifelong friends.  There were actual Mirós in several other galleries at Art New York.)  The small 1949 Untitled (it’s only 9 x 12), gouache and ink on paper, was even more of a surprise: a totally abstract expressionistic piece of black and white splotches, with irregular outlines and blurred edges, and a black circle in a red field. 

Golden oldies weren’t the only art that Rosenfeld premièred for us at the fair.  Nearly ubiquitous at Art New York were two former street artists who flourished in the 1980s: Keith Haring (American, 1958-90), with 1981’s ink-on-paper Untitled, Untitled from 1982, 1983’s Monkey Man, and  Untitled of 1986, in Rosenfeld’s display, and Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-88), whose untitled (marker on paper, 1981) and In Color (oil, acrylic, oil stick, and mixed media on paper, 1986) were exhibited by that gallery as well.  These artists, though, didn’t surprise with divergences from their familiar styles—neither artist having lived long enough, I suppose, to stray from their initial impulses.  (I’m not really a fan of Basquiat, but Haring’s virtually an icon of late-20th-century American art, and I actually still remember with fondness his signature chalk drawings in the blank advertising panels in the New York subway stations; their whimsy and the joy Haring seemed to be expressing with his dancing figures—even the dogs—made a subway ride more tolerable, especially in the Execrable Eighties.) 

Adrien Brody, a film producer and Oscar-winning actor (for The Pianist in 2002), turned seriously to making art with his début exhibit in 2015 at Art Basil Miami.  He’d been painting as an avocation for a long time, he’s said, because he appreciates “the creative autonomy afforded me as an artist, which an actor doesn’t have.”  His multi-media installation, Metamorphosis: Transformations of the Soul, is displayed in a small room off to the right, just past the entrance to Art New York and uses  video, sound, photographs, collage, and painting to explore Brody’s artistic influences, reflecting “a lifetime of influences, experiences and labors of love.”  Viewers walk into the roomlet that brings to mind a cluttered artist’s studio (which exists somewhere in upstate New York, but the exhibit attendants wouldn’t say where) to encounter mementos, bits of art or art studies, photos, newspaper clippings, books, bric-a-brac, and an apparently haphazard collection of items, as if Brody’d been assembling bits and pieces of his life over many years.  Entering through a doorway on the left, visitors may meander through the space at will for as long as they wish, communing with Brody’s assemblage, eventually exiting back out to the small wing of the exposition through a doorway on the right.  I found myself rather unengaged by the experience, but I suppose your response depends a lot on your interest in the actor.

Near Metamorphosis was the small exhibit of the Joe Namath Foundation.  Several contemporary artists celebrated legendary Jets quarterback Namath, whose 75th birthday is on Thursday, 31 May, in a set of specially selected works.  Edwin Baker III (American, b. 1991), a Florida-based painter who is Broadway Joe’s son-in-law, created I Get Better Looking Every Day (2018), a collage portrait of the Hall of Famer for the Art New York exhibit.  Other artists in the display, the proceeds of which go entirely to the foundation, included Skyler Grey, Bradley Theodore, Mr. Brainwash (the anonym of French-born, Los Angeles-based filmmaker and street artist Thierry Guetta), Harry Benson (an iconic photograph of the Hall of Famer), Danny Minnick, Jason Newsted, Al Baseer Holly (aka ABH), and Yigal Ozeri.  (While most of the art in this display clearly and directly referred to Namath, famous football player, one painting seemed to be all about The Simpsons—yes, those Simpsons: Homer and Bart, et al.  I can only guess that the allusion is to the two appearances Namath made on the animated TV show.  Namath’s image doesn’t appear in the painting, the creator and title of which I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember.)

In the exhibit of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Newsted (American, b. 1963), “RAWK” (the title is the “eye dialect” spelling of ‘rock’), with which I was unfamiliar, stopped me at the 55Bellechasse cubicle because so many of his images resembled Basquiat: Circle of Willits (2006), Blue Griot (2007).  Then I spotted one canvas frankly called Basquiatty (2007), which kind of clinched my impression!  At the Cavalier Galleries (Greenwich, Conn.; New York City; Nantucket, Mass.), I was also arrested in my amble down the aisle of Art New York by a sculpture with which I felt I was familiar.  Well, not so much the actual sculpture, but its style, so I thought I recognized the artist’s work.  It’s a 6½-foot tall bronze casting of a standing man in a sort of neo- impressionistic rendering.  He’s holding out his right hand, bent at the elbow, and on his up-turned palm stands a tiny version of what I took to be himself.  The larger image is looking gently at the little man in his hand, his left arm behind his back.  The sculpture is called Inner Dialogue (2017) by Jim Rennert (American, b. 1958), and I knew I’d seen something very like it, in a much larger scale, in Union Square a year or so ago.  So I stopped and asked a man in the gallery who was wearing an ID badge around his neck if this was the same artist.  “It is,” said the man I took for a gallery attendant, “and I’m the artist!”  (Rennert’s 2013 Think Big was the piece on public display in a triangle off the southeast corner of Union Square.  The 12-foot statue, which always made me think of Charles de Gaulle, stood in the square from June 2014 to May 2015.)  

There were several other sculptures by Rennert in the gallery, including Listen (2017), a two-foot bronze piece of a man standing with a finger pressed to his lips, and Paradigm Shift, a 2017 flat bronze-and-steel panel of a forced-perspective room lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a man standing in the open doorway at the end of it, seemingly very far away.  I then noticed that the walls of the space, lined with prints and paintings, held several of a similar iconography, like Hustling (2016), depicting the black silhouette of a businessman on a yellow-and-white background, attaché in his right (up-stage) hand, walking determinedly to some engagement, which turned out to be Rennert’s work as well.

In the same gallery were several whimsical bronze sculptures of hippopotami in fabric tutus, clearly reminiscent of Edgar Degas’s famous Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1878-81).  One, in fact, Hippo Ballerina, fourth position (2015), could have been a direct parody of the beloved Degas.  The artist, Bjorn Skaarup (Danish, b. 1973), has done a series of animals in human activities and costume, such as Rhino Harlequin, Bowing (undated) and Greek Warrior Mouse (undated).  I dubbed the hippo set “Degas by way of Disney” in reference to the Fantasia “Dance of the Hours” sequence from the 1940 animated film.

Obviously, some of the pleasure of Art New York were the quirky and amusing pieces, a sense of fun and humor in what’s often a self-important business, and some was the delight in seeing so many of the modern masters whose work was the cutting edge when I was growing up and experiencing art for the first time.  (I’ve written of my experiences surrounding my family’s involvement with Washington, D.C.’s Gres Gallery in “Washington Art Matters,” 5 September 2013; “Yayoi Kusama,” 18 May 2017; “A Passion for Art,” 21 November 2017; and “Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib (2007),” 26 November 2017; among other posts.)  I’m not sure I’ll rush off to another art fair soon—it’s an exhausting endeavor—but I did enjoy Art New York, both seeing the art (though there’s an awful lot to digest if you really want to see it) and chatting with the gallerists—who are there, of course, to sell you their wares, but who also know a bit about art, especially “their” artists.

08 May 2018

'Who's Who In CIA': A Cold War Relic

The year after my father left the Foreign Service and returned to the U.S., a little book was published in East Berlin.  It was entitled Who’s Who in CIA and purported to name everyone who worked for the spy agency.  (It’s full title was Who's Who in CIA: A biographical reference work about 3000 employees of the civilian and military intelligence branches of the U.S. in 120 nations.  There are in fact something over 2,500 biographical entries in the book’s 605 pages.  I blogged briefly on this book in “Spook Book,” part of “Short Takes III,” posted in Rick On Theater on 8 February 2012.)  

When the English edition of the book was published in East Germany in July 1968 (it went to press in May and a German edition came out in June), it created quite a stir in the circles of official Washington, especially among Foreign Service (and former-Foreign Service) officers . . . not for fear of being outed as a spy—the book wasn’t taken that seriously by anyone—but because everyone wanted to see her or his name listed.  If you were anybody, you were in the book.  In fact, if you weren’t in the book—you weren’t anybody.  I guess it was the 1968 equivalent of Googling yourself—except without the tech. 

There was a rush on copies of Who’s Who so the curious could see if their names were listed—and my dad is in it.  The little entry, modeled, apparently, after the famous Marquis Who’s Whos of prominent Americans in various fields, has most of my dad’s facts correct—except the ones that concern his “intelligence” work.  For instance, his military service is indicated as “1941-46 Captain in CIC of US Army.”  (The CIC was the Counter Intelligence Corps of the World War II army, the precursor of today’s Military Intelligence Branch, in which I served 25 years later.)   In truth, Dad’s World War II service was as an artilleryman, first as an enlisted man and then as a company-grade officer, culminating as the commander of the headquarters battery of an artillery battalion that fought in western Europe from France to Germany at the end of the war. 

Dad was not an intelligence officer (I was), but because he spoke German, he’d been sent for extra training at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, the army’s Military Intelligence Training Center during the war.  (Almost all GI’s who spoke one of the enemy languages—German, Italian, Japanese, Czech and Slovak, Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and several others of hangers-on which sought German or Japanese protection from Soviet or Chinese aggression—or a language of any of the occupied countries—Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, Greek, Indonesian, Norwegian, Polish, Thai, among many others—were sent to MITC, though not all of them made it through the training.)  When Germany surrendered in May 1945, Dad was assigned briefly to the CIC during the occupation to help interview Germans and interrogate captured Third Reich officials to identify and locate high-ranking Nazis who were sought for arrest.  (Dad was shipped out for the Pacific in late August and then back to the States in September.  He actually separated from the service at the end of 1945, not ’46 as Who’s Who shows; he was officially discharged in 1946, but he was already married to my mom by then and at his private-sector job in Washington, D.C.)  But he was dubbed a CIC officer by Who’s Who’s compilers on the basis of a three-month temporary assignment.

Another item in my father’s Who’s Who entry was the notation “from 1962 in USIA, work for CIA.”  USIA was the United States Information Agency (also known as the U.S. Information Service, or USIS), the Foreign Service’s public diplomacy agency; it dealt in cultural propaganda intended to promote the idea of the United States as a nation and a social concept.  It’s operations were entirely transparent and overt.  (In Germany and Austria after World War II, USIA was an adjunct of the Allies’ de-Nazification program.)   Because my dad’s employer had been the U.S. Information Agency, and in Europe where, in many languages, ‘information’ and ‘intelligence’ are the same word—Nachrichten in German, for instance, or svedeniya in Russian—the information service was the intelligence service, a misunderstanding ensued (and was exploited by the compilers of Who’s Who in CIA). 

The compilers went on to add another item in my dad’s biographical profile: “resident: Bad Godesberg, Turmstrasse 77.”  Bad Godesberg was the suburb of Bonn, then the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (aka West Germany), in which most diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy, were located.  (Now part of the city of Bonn, it was also where the U.S. Embassy housing complex was located, in the section of Bad Godesberg known as Plittersdorf, which was what the complex was often called unofficially; Turmstrasse 77 was the address of our apartment in the complex.)  Below that information, the entry stated “OpA: Coblenz, Frankfurt/Main, Bonn (Attaché).”  “OpA” was the book’s abbreviation for area(s) of “operation,” and Koblenz (the modern German spelling used in the FRG) was Dad’s first post in USIA.  He was director of the Amerika Haus there (his official title was Information [not Intelligence] Center Director, Koblenz), the USIA cultural center with a library and auditorium/meeting hall for concerts, readings, lectures, receptions, and performances. 

Frankfurt am Main, a little over 75 miles east of Koblenz, was the site of the U.S. Consulate that had oversight for the Koblenz Amerika Haus and other USIA facilities in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz); other Amerika Häuser were overseen from different consulates.  Dad went there for meetings with his immediate superior and the Consul-General, but he was never stationed there (though Dad’s official mailing address through the Army Post Office was at the Frankfurt Consulate-General).  He was transferred to the embassy in Bonn in 1965 as the Cultural Affairs Officer, sometimes unofficially referred to as as the cultural attaché.  He left Bonn and USIA the year before Who’s Who was published. 

I note that Who’s Who doesn’t say “residence,” but “resident.”  In the espionage game, a resident is a spy who operates in a foreign country for prolonged stretches; he or she is sometimes the head of a spy ring.  The same word, with the same meaning, exists in both German (Resident) and Russian (rezident).  As far as an area of “operation” is concerned, Dad’s responsibility extended to the region surrounding the city of Koblenz (a town of 100,000 inhabitants) plus its suburbs and satellite towns.  He met with civic, business, political, and religious leaders of the region, as well as students of both the high school and university levels, to talk about U.S. history, culture, and political system.  For instance, he gave a series of lectures to German Hochschule (high school) students about the American Civil War, a subject of particular interest to my dad and of great curiosity to Germans, who knew very little about this uniquely American event.  Dad also arranged performances by American artists such as opera singers or classical musicians who were members of the local municipal opera company and orchestra.  The first experience I had with Edward Albee was a reading, in German, at the Amerika Haus of his American Dream (1961), for example.  Those were the kinds of “operations” in which Dad engaged. 

Furthermore, Koblenz was in the former French Zone of Occupation, only 100 miles from the Luxembourg border on the far western frontier of the Federal Republic (and almost 300 miles from the nearest point on the border with the German Democratic Republic), hardly an area of Cold War espionage (as Berlin was even a decade later when I was there).  A real CIA officer would have had little to do in Koblenz in 1962-65, the time of my father’s assignment at the Amerika Haus.  There might have been a better argument regarding Dad’s next assignment, at the embassy in Bonn—but there already was a CIA officer posted there (about whom I’ll say a little more in a bit).

The ‘information’/’intelligence’ overlap was probably part of the reason that the book listed my dad.  Furthermore, since all Soviet Bloc diplomats were “spies” at some level or another, they just assumed all of ours were, too.  (In fact, when I was training for Military Intelligence, we were admonished that certain professions were not authorized for use as cover identities for agents because such use could taint the real work of people in those lines.  These jobs included Red Cross workers, clergy, teachers, medical personnel—and diplomats.)  Believe me (or don’t: it’s really too late now, anyway), my dad was not in the CIA.  Though because Dad worked for the Information Agency, his father, who was born in Eastern Europe (and spoke both German and Russian among other languages), thought his son was a spy until the day Grandpa Jack died. 

According to Who’s Who’s publisher, “CIA” is “used as an appropriate synonym for the whole of the US intelligence system.”  In the ministry halls of the Eastern Bloc, that “system,” included such agencies as: 

  • the Department of State and the U.S. Foreign Service
  • the U.S. Information Agency (USIA, my dad’s outfit)
  • the Agency for International Development (USAID, the U.S. foreign-aid agency)
  • the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • the Peace Corps
  • the U.S. Education Exchange
  • the U.S. Mission to the UNO (United Nations Organizations, AKA: the U.N.) 
In the words of Who’s Who, all these agencies and several others “are used by the CIA for intelligence purposes or . . . have, with official sanction, been infiltrated.”  (There’s actually no such organization as “the U.S. Education Exchange”; I presume Mader was referring to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which oversees both the National Student Exchange Program and the Fulbright Program, though most of their clients are high school and college students.)

The book’s publisher explains that the intent of the book is “to demask . . . leading officials and officers, collaborators and agents of the US intelligence services who are operating on five continents.”  It ended up naming almost everyone who ever served overseas, however, even privately, or served in any high-ranking post in the government.  In testimony before the U.S. Congress in 1980, Ladislav Bittman, a former intelligence officer for the Czech Intelligence Service specializing in disinformation (1964-66), who defected to the United States in 1968 and claimed to have been one of the coauthors of the book, asserted:

About half of the names listed in that book are real CIA operatives.  The other half are people who were just American diplomats or various officials; and it was prepared with the expectation that naturally many, many Americans operating abroad, diplomats and so on, would be hurt because their names were exposed as CIA officials.

In fact, Who’s Who left out actual CIA and other intelligence people.  Richard Helms (1913-2002), the Director of Central Intelligence in those days (1966-73), is in there, as are his predecessors Roscoe Henry Hillenkoetter, (1897-1982; DCI, 1947–50), Allen Welsh Dulles (1893-1969; DCI, 1953–61), John A. McCone (1902-91; DCI, 1961–65), William Francis Raborn, Jr. (1905-90; DCI, 1965–66), as well as William Joseph [“Wild Bill”] Donovan (1883-1959, the founding director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II forerunner of the CIA.  (Oddly, Donovan is listed, even though he was long dead by the time the book was compiled, but Walter Bedell Smith, DCI from 1950 to 1953, who’d died in 1961, is not.)  

(As I will throughout this article, I have used the names as presented in Who’s Who’s biographical entries.  I’ve marked insertions with brackets and I’ve corrected errors, such as incorrect birth years, and added current data, like years of death, as pertinent.)

In addition, included in Who’s Who in CIA are Lyndon Baines Johnson (1909-73; President of the United States, 1963-69), Professor Hubert Horatio Humphrey (1911-78; Vice President of the United States, 1965-69), Robert Strange McNamara (1916-2009; U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1961-68), Professor Dean Rusk (1909-94; U.S. Secretary of State, 1961-69), Clark M. Clifford (1906-98; adviser to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter; White House Counsel, 1946-50; Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, 1963-68; Secretary of Defense, 1968-69), and several National Security Advisors and heads of the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.  There’s even an entry for journalist and commentator Bill D. Moyers (b. 1934) who served as Deputy Director of the Peace Corps (1962-63), a special assistant to President Johnson (1963-67), and White House Press Secretary (1965-67). 

(Who’s Who also lists as intelligence officials other prominent previous and current members of the federal government such as: Frank Church, 1924-84, U.S. Senator from Idaho, 1957-81; Lawrence S. Eagleburger, 1930-2011, career Foreign Service Officer from 1957, later Secretary of State, 1992-93; [R. W.] Scott McLeod, 1914-61, Department of State’s Bureau for Security and Consular Affairs, 1953-57, Ambassador to Ireland, 1957-61; Professor Dr. Dr.  Arthur Meier Schlesinger [Jr.], 1917–2007, National Chairman of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), 1953-54, Special Assistant to the President, 1961-64; and Cyrus Roberts Vance, 1917-2002, Secretary of the Army, 1962-64, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 1964-67, later Secretary of State, 1977-80.)

Among the well-known and government-connected, however, are also some just-plain citizens, some with recognizable names, caught up in Who’s Who’s net because many (but not all) had an association with an intelligence agency during their World War II service:

·   Stewart Johonnot Oliver Alsop (1914-74), newspaper columnist and political analyst; worked with the OSS during World War II (aiding the French Resistance, for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre).
·   Leroy Anderson (1908-75), composer (“The Syncopated Clock,” “Sleigh Ride,” “The Typewriter”); served in CIC during World War II.
·   August Hecksher [II] (1913-97), public intellectual and author; editorial staff of the New York Herald Tribune (1948-56), Parks Commissioner of New York City (1967-72); worked for OSS in North Africa during World War II.
·   Garson Kanin (1912-99), playwright and film and stage director (Born Yesterday; husband of actress-playwright Ruth Gordon).
·   [Andrew C.] McLellan (1911-86), labor leader and Inter-American Representative of the AFL-CIO.
·   George Meany (1894-1980), labor leader and president of the AFL-CIO (1955-79).
·   Professor Dr. Eugene Willard Miller (1915-2002), geographer, university professor, and academic writer; professor of geography at Pennsylvania State University (where he created the Department of Geography), 1945-80; worked as a geographer for OSS during World War II.

Less (in)famous are the agents who later would participate in the CIA-backed Chilean coup of 1973 that overthrew Salvador Allende Gossens, the elected Marxist president, who are also named in the book, including David A. Phillips (1922-88), a CIA officer in South and Central America who was involved in the Allende coup and a similar operation in Guatemala in 1954.  Who’s Who in CIA also names Richard Skeffington Welch (1929-75), the CIA station chief in Athens who, seven years after the book appeared, was gunned down outside his residence by Marxist guerrillas after his name and address were published in a local newspapers.  (Also listed is former CIA agent Philip Agee, 1935-2008, who in 1975 published Inside the Company: CIA Diary [Penguin Books] which identified 429 names and descriptions of “employees, agents, liaison contacts or were otherwise used by or involved with the CIA or its operations; and of organizations financed, influenced or controlled by the CIA.”)

Missing are any Deputy Director for Operations (or Director of Plans, as the position was called at the time Who’s Who was compiled and published; Desmond Fitzgerald, 1965-67, and Thomas Karamessines, 1967-73 were the incumbents during that period), the head of the CIA Directorate of Operations (DO), the clandestine arm of the agency (except those, like Dulles and Helms who rose to become DCI), and J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), the long-serving Director of the FBI (1924-72).  (Karamessines, 1917-78, was actively involved in the 1970s in plans to destabilize the government of Chilean President Allende.)  Another CIA name omitted from Who’s Who is that of Aldrich Ames, b. 1941, who went to work for the agency in 1962 and by 1985 had become a KGB mole in the CIA providing intelligence to the Soviet Union and Russia until he was arrested in 1994.  Ames was tried and convicted of espionage and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Some other people well known to have been connected with the CIA who aren’t mentioned in the book are G. Gordon Liddy (b. 1930) and E. Howard Hunt (1918-2007), two of the Watergate burglars who, in 1972, helped break into the Democratic campaign headquarters in Washington on behalf of Richard M. Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President; either of the other Watergate burglars who were CIA operatives (Bernard Barker, 1917-2009, and James W. McCord, Jr., b. 1924); William “Rip” Robertson (1920-70), another operative engaged in the Guatemala coup; Gerry Patrick Hemming (1937-2008), a mercenary soldier and CIA operative who worked in Cuba (where he met Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy) to aid Fidel Castro overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959; and James Jesus Angleton (1917-87), the famous mole-hunter in the CIA who became almost obsessed with uncovering a KGB undercover operative inside the agency, predicting the discovery and arrest of Aldrich Ames—which Angleton didn’t live to see.

Also not named are any of my father’s USIA, consular, and embassy coworkers (except one, Dad’s immediate predecessor in Koblenz and Bonn: Gunther Karl Rosinus, b. 1928, who’d served in the State Department’s Office of Intelligence Research from 1951 to 1953)—most notably the woman who was the embassy spook, Herma Plummer (1908-91), although everyone (including this teenaged foreign service brat) knew what her job was.  Plummer was not a covert operative when she was in Bonn, even though her career had included years in the DO, and before that she was an alumna of “Wild Bill” Donovan’s OSS.  Described by an embassy colleague, George Jaeger (b. 1926), who’d arrived in Bonn around the time my father left (and is listed in the book!) as an “elderly Margaret Rutherford-like graduate of . . . Allen Dulles’ World War II operation,” she cut  a distinctive figure along the halls of the embassy in her proto-earth shoes and earth-mother attire.  (This was the Herma Plummer I remember, but according to a CIA colleague from the 1950s, she’d been “an attractive, tall woman, always elegantly dressed.”)  She retired as a GS-15 (the equivalent of an army colonel or a navy captain) a month after the English version of Who’s Who was published, a recipient of the CIA’s Intelligence Medal of Merit, the agency’s third-highest award.  (Dad was an FSO-4, the Foreign Service equivalent of a GS-10 or -11, the same as an army captain or a navy lieutenant.)

Who’s Who in CIA was compiled by Mohamed Abdelnabi (Beirut), Ambalal Bhatt (Bombay—now Mumbai), Fernando Gamarra (Mexico City), and Shozo Ohashi (Yokohama), under the direction of Julius Mader (1928-2000; aka Thomas Bergner) doubtless with the assistance and guidance of the GDR’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security or, more commonly, Stasi, the East German secret police) and possibly also the Soviet KGB.  Mader, a self-declared journalist who, as an agent of the MfS Department of Agitation (Abteilung Agitation) with the rank of major and an Offizier im besonderen Einsatz (OibE, or a special operations officer), was adept at anti-Western propaganda and disinformation.  (‘Disinformation,’ or Desinformation in German and dezinformatsia in Russian, is, according to Wiktionary, “Intentionally false information disseminated to deliberately confuse or mislead.”)  He “self-published” Who’s Who so it wouldn’t bear a government publishing label—although in reality there was no such thing as an independent publication in the GDR. 

The book, like most Soviet Bloc publications in that era, is cheaply bound at 5¾″ x 4¼″ and, as I noted earlier, 605 pages long.  It has a red fabric hard cover and a dust jacket of cerulean blue on the top half and crimson-and-white stripes on the bottom half to call to mind the U.S. flag (without exactly matching the colors).  Aside from the biographical listings, Who’s Who in CIA contains a “Foreword” by Mader, the facsimile  of a short letter of thanks on Foreign Relations Committee letterhead from Senator Joseph A. Clark (1901-90; Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, 1956-68) to Mader (whom a note explains “helped the US Senate in investigations against the CIA”) for “suggest[ing] additional readings on the CIA,” “Notes for the user,” and a list of abbreviations used in the entries.  Mader also includes six fold-out line-and-block diagrams of the organizational structures of the “American Intelligence Services,” the “Office of Intelligence Research of the State Department,” “Military Intelligence Headquarters of the USA,” the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the “System of several cover organizations used by the CIA.”  At the end of the book are included two detachable cards, one for corrections and additions and the other for the submission of more names of U.S. intelligence agents.

Mader, whose real name was apparently Thomas Bergner (there’s some confusion over which name was his birth name and which a pseudonym), was born in the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic, the part of Czechoslovakia with a large ethnic German population which Hitler annexed in 1938.  After the German surrender in 1945, Sudeten Germans, including 16-year-old Mader’s family, were forcibly resettled within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, which in 1949 became the German Democratic Republic, a puppet state of the Soviet Union.  After a brief turn studying business in 1946 and ’47, Mader began studying law, journalism, political science, and economics at the Universities of Berlin and Jena, the Institute of Internal Trade in Leipzig, and the German Academy for Political and Legal Science “Walter Ulbricht” in Potsdam.  He earned a masters degree in business in 1955.

He joined the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the communist party of the GDR) in 1958.  In 1960, Mader became a full-time agent of the MfS (with yet another cover name, Faingold), earning the designation OibE in 1962 and the rank of major in 1964.  (Both the KGB and the MfS were military or paramilitary organizations with uniforms and military ranks.)  He was awarded a doctorate in economics and social sciences from the Academy of Law and Political Science in 1965.  At the MfS, where he wrote propaganda tracts and books and works of disinformation, his specialties were the operations and structure of the intelligence and security organizations of the FRG (the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz—the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution—the West German equivalent of the FBI, and the Bundesnachrichtendienst—the Federal Intelligence Service—the FRG’s CIA counterpart), the United States, and the United Kingdom.  (Mader also wrote extensively about the Third Reich, a pervasive bugaboo for the East Germans, Soviets, and the whole Warsaw Pact.  There are frequent references to “fascists” and “neo-fascists” in Mader’s writings, including Who’s Who in CIA.)

Some of Mader’s books before the publication of Who’s Who in CIA were Gangster in Action: Design and crimes of the U.S. Secret Service (1961) and No Longer a Secret: The secret of the German Federal Republic and its subversive activity against the GDR (1966).  He continued to write such books until 1988 (CIA Operation Hindu Kush: Intelligence activities in the undeclared war against Afghanistan was his last), the year before the Berlin Wall came down, and the year Mader received the Patriotic Order of Merit in silver, the award’s second-highest level, for outstanding service to the GDR in civilian life.  All together, his books, including translations, sold several million copies, mostly in the Soviet Bloc.  He died in (a reunited) Berlin at the age of 71, though the final 12 years of his life, after the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic, to which he’d devoted his entire adult life, seem to have gone largely unrecorded.

In his Foreword to Who’s Who in CIA, Mader explains his rationale for compiling the book.  In doing so, he doesn’t hesitate to employ portentous language to depict the dire importance of the publication:

Never in the history of the USA has the influence of its intelligence system on home and foreign policy been as great as it is today.  For, as tools of the monopoly groups that rule in North America, the various intelligence services of the USA play a special part in the global strategy of that state. (p. 7)

[The US intelligence services] send out their spies and subversive agents, conspire with neo and pro-fascist cohorts, prepare putsches, and armed intervention, and stimulate ideological subversion. (7)

Oddly, much of what Mader and is cohorts say in Who’s Who is largely factually correct, but it’s spun in a propagandistic way that, first, makes the facts seem ominous and threatening:

. . . psychological warfare and all the dirty methods of subversion were publicly raised  to state policy for the USA. (8)

The US intelligence services . . . plan and organize dangerous actions at every hour.  For this reason the people of all nations are warned of the organizers of the CIA machinations. (14)

This approach served both to alert the populations of Warsaw Pact nations to Western plotting and subterfuge and to provide legitimacy for the activities of the Soviet Bloc security forces like the KGB and the Stasi.

Second, the book omits any mention of activity by the Soviet Bloc forces that might necessitate U.S. and Western response, portraying itself as the innocent victim of U.S. intrigue.  In fact, Mader accuses the U.S. of actions and practices in which the USSR and the Eastern Bloc openly engaged:

North American imperialism takes upon itself the right as the world’s policeman, so to speak, to intervene against every democratic, progressive and non-capitalist development all over the world. (7)

[The CIA] has been unmasked hundreds of times the world over as [the] leading centre of imperialist espionage activities and as the coordinating centre for coups d’etat against lawful governments as well as for counter-revolutionary attacks. (10)

Third, perfectly ordinary actions and policies are made to appear dangerous and excessive. 

By far the largest and most influential of the American intelligence branches is the Central Intelligence Agency which is directly subordinated to the Executive Office of the President of the USA, and whose director holds a key position in the mechanism of the North American power system. (9-10)

The fact that the CIA is the largest U.S. intelligence agency is irrelevant.  Some agency will obviously be the largest in its category; it’s not pertinent, but it sounds scary because one of Mader’s main goals is to demonize the U.S. intelligence complex, with special emphasis on the CIA.  Remember that Mader’s intended audience wasn’t the populace of the the Western allies but the people of the Soviet Bloc and,  more pointedly, the so-called unaligned nations.

That the DCI is subordinate to the U.S. president is also routine.  So is the Secretary of Defense, the civilian head of our military; in fact, as Commander-in-Chief, the president is de facto and de jure the direct superior of the generals and admirals of all branches of the armed forces.  The same command structure pertains in nearly every country on earth, including both the Soviet Union and the present-day Russian Federation. 

I’m not sure what Mader means when he asserts that the DCI “holds a key position in the mechanism of the North American power system” since I’m unaware of any collective power structure for Canada, the U.S., and Mexico (not to mention Greenland, the nations and territories of Central America, and those of the Caribbean—all part of North America), but if he really means the United States, then . . . well, duh.  The DCI is an important member of the president’s national security team—for obvious reasons, I should think—but only an occasional participant in the National Security Council, attending only when invited for matters  pertaining to his responsibilities.  (The current regular intelligence advisor to the NSC—though not a permanent member—is the Director of National Intelligence, a post that didn’t exist until 2004.  Before that the DCI held the position, but even so, the NSC has no executive authority; it’s an advisory body whose recommendations must be confirmed and issued by the president.)  The DCI isn’t autonomous, however.  He (or she, though the office hasn’t yet been filled by a woman) can’t launch operations on his own or define policy, any more than the Secretary of State can establish diplomatic relations with a nation or the Secretary of Defense can go to war at their volition.  (Actually, not even the president is supposed to be able to do that latter, but Vietnam proved that he can.) 

Public opinion in the USA already fears that the CIA has become the “invisible government”.  This becomes particularly clear when one analyses to which alarming measure the CIA and the Department of State, the Foreign Office of the USA, have become integrated in terms of personnel.  Even the “New York Times” of April 27th, 1966 estimated that 2,200 CIA agents are active in the diplomatic service if the USA “under official cover abroad”. (10-11) 

Certainly there’s cross-over between the State Department, the military, and the intelligence community.  (Does anyone believe that this didn’t happen in the Soviet Union and the GDR?  Before we elected George H. W. Bush, a former DCI in 1976-77, president in 1988, Yuri Andropov, Chairman of the KGB from 1967 to 1982, was premier of the USSR, 1982-84.  Today, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, was head of the Federal Security Service, successor of the KGB, from 1998-99.)  The experiences and backgrounds are analogous—which doesn’t mean that the crossovers in the Department of State are spies any more than the former military officers in the foreign office are still warriors. 

The New York Times estimate of intelligence personnel abroad cited, 2,200, isn’t out of line as a worldwide figure, especially given what was going on around the world in the the mid-1960s.  (Saigon and Vietnam would probably have accounted for a majority of these people.  Berlin, where I was stationed five years later, was also agent-dense during the Cold War.)  Most of those wouldn’t be espionage or counterespionage agents, but technicians, interpreters and translators, and various specialists, some on short-term assignment for specific tasks.  Mader makes the number seem sinister—without acknowledging the size of the clandestine Warsaw Pact presence beyond the borders of Eastern Europe in response to which the U.S and Western activity would have expanded. 

In addition, “official cover” doesn’t mean the intelligence personnel attached to embassies or consulates are clandestine or covert (though some are, of course).  Many are known to the other mission workers and even the public just as Herma Plummer was at the Bonn embassy in the ’60s.  (When I was an MI counterintelligence agent in Berlin, we wore civilian clothes and didn’t use our ranks in public, but everyone knew where we worked—there was a brass plaque at the entrance to our office that read “66th Military Intelligence Group.”  Many civilian intelligence personnel operated under similar conditions.)

(The New York Times material cited in the passage above is from “How C.I.A. Put ‘Instant Air Force’ Into Congo: Intervention or Spying All in a Day’s Work,” published on 26 April 1966—not 27 April, as Mader writes.  The correct quoted line is: “under official cover overseas,” a quotation from historian Arthur Schlesinger’s 1965 book A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.  This Times article was the second of five in a series about the CIA, 25-29 April.)

Furthermore, Mader often writes in Marxist boilerplate, probably for the consumption of the already-converted leftists in his audience, that sounded rote, stilted, and unconvincing even in 1968.  Take, for instance, this statement:

. . . the intelligence service of the USA has always been the domain of the fanatical enemies of democracy and a stronghold of the anti-communists. (8)

The Stasi writer is here deliberately employing the logical fallacy of “equivocation,” that is, using a word with two different meanings without specifying which sense the writer intends so as to mislead the reader or draw the reader to a false understanding.  The word here is ‘democracy,’ which we in the West understand to mean “a government by the people” but by which Mader and the communist East mean “a government in the name of and for the people” (such as, the German Democratic Republic, the former East Germany, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the present-day North Korea). 

Leaving aside the descriptive “fanatical,” which is certainly intended to be a hot-button word to inflame the reader, the whole of the U.S. government—yea, even our entire culture at large—could be said to be “anti-communist” during the Cold War, as we are also “anti-fascist” and “anti-imperialist.”  (Okay, I’m talking officially and theoretically.  I know we don’t always live up to the ideal.)  That’s no surprise.  But we’re only an “enemy of democracy” if you define ‘democracy’ as a single-party socialist state and not a country with a government of freely elected representatives of the citizens.  Mader wants you to read the passage above and think we’re opposing such nations as France, Australia, Japan, Sweden, or India.  (Granted, we have sometimes overstepped our bounds, such as in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in ’54, and Chile in ’73.)  Whatever differences we have with the so-called liberal democracies, we don’t oppose them; at the same time, we do oppose countries like Cuba and the DPRK, sometimes with a ferocity and tenacity that exceeds logic, I’ll acknowledge—but we have also reconciled with other nations such as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a one-time implacable enemy who essentially defeated us.  Mader wants readers of Who’s Who to think the United States is secretly fighting our capitalistic allies on behalf of some crypto-fascism—hence, the Marxist equivocation in his rhetoric.

Who’s Who in CIA was largely regarded in the West as an act of disinformation.  The errors and omissions, the inclusion of so many people who weren’t connected to any kind of intelligence work, was seen as a way to roil the waters of East-West Weltpolitik by sowing distrust among the citizenry of friendly or neutral nations.  The omission of so many actual intelligence personnel, especially working agents abroad, was interpreted as a tactic by the communist agencies like the Stasi and the KGB to divert attention from the U.S. agents so that it would be easier to keep an eye on what they were up to or to make use of them in various ways—feeding them false information or preventing them from successfully acquiring useful intelligence. 

Despite its official dismissal by the United States’ intelligence community, the CIA nevertheless felt Who’s Who was worthy of some kind of response.  The agency helped journalist and investigative writer John Barron, publisher of Reader’s Digest,  to write KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents (Reader’s Digest Press, 1974).  The book’s appendix, on which the author admitted that the CIA collaborated, names 1,600 alleged KGB and GRU officers posted abroad as diplomats. (The KGB, whose initials are an abbreviation of the Russian name Committee for State Security, was the main security organization and secret police of the Soviet Union; the GRU, the Main Intelligence Directorate, was the principal military intelligence agency of the USSR—and is still the largest foreign intelligence organization of the Russian Federation.  Remember that I said earlier that Soviet and present-day Russian diplomats were also spies?)  In the New York Times, reviewer Hugh Trevor Roper, an Oxonian historian of early modern Britain and Nazi Germany, wrote, “How the K.G.B. functions, how it uses its unchallenged, arbitrary power, is the subject of Mr. Barron’s book,” which sounds to me like a direct reaction to Mader’s book. 

Reviews of Who’s Who in CIA included Daniel Brandt’s assessment for his website NameBase, which focuses on people involved in international intelligence activities and related subjects, such as reviews of books and articles on intelligence and espionage.  In his review, Brandt, once an activist with Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a counterculture organization in the 1960s and ’70s, states, “Mader paints with a broad brush,” admitting to listing “former OSS, military intelligence (even during WW2), State Department personnel . . ., FBI counterintelligence, and also the occasional politician who sat on this or that intelligence committee.”  Adding, “Generally when Mader includes a name, it’s merely an indication that Mader found this person interesting for one reason or another,” Brandt quipped.  “Some of his names . . . appear to have been compiled by looking for the word ‘intelligence’ in the State Department Biographic Register.”  He cautioned that “further research and corroboration is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.”  Nonetheless, “Mader apparently had access to some information on CIA officers that was not publicly available,” and the reviewer concluded, “For the occasional investigator who is too experienced to expect easy answers, this book continues to be quite useful.”

Brandt’s review is clearly a much later evaluation (it’s undated, but NameBase wasn’t started until 1995), however a contemporaneous notice was published in the Los Angeles Free Press (28 March 1969), an alternative weekly with a radical political perspective.  In “Who’s Who in the CIA: A Review of the Real Underground,” which also reproduces some of the charts and listings from the book, Freep (as the paper was known) founder and editor Art Kunkin asserts, “‘Who’s Who in CIA’ was undoubtedly compiled as a weapon of Russia against the United States,” adding, however, “It is not surprising, therefore, that this book has much to say about the obviously anti-democratic effect of the United State’s huge intelligence apparatus but not one word about the other noted enemy of human freedom, the equally sizeable and repressive Russian espionage system.”  Pointing out all the evil work of the Soviet secret police that Mader neglects to mention—perpetrating domestic terrorism to maintain the power of Soviet leaders, murdering or assassinating political opponents, “forging” evidence for show trials, planning the invasions of Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), murdering opponents in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) including communist partisans in anti-Stalinist factions—Kunkin observes, “However, it must be underscored that these omissions do not detract at all from the book’s graphic demonstration of the power and size of ‘invisible government’ in the United States.” 

Kunkin maintains that “the reasoning of spy hunters is that any person who has ever been associated with intelligence work is always suspect” (which I suppose is an explanation for my father being labeled a CIA operative off of a few months’ assignment with the CIC in World War II), and he illustrates his contention with a quotation from Who’s Who regarding the “knowledge that imperialist intelligence services usually ‘buy-up’ the recipients of their pay, and also those who have fallen into their clutches till the end of their lives.”  Kunkin does admonish Mader (parenthetically) because he’s “not very clever.  The nature of his real employer is verified not only by his convenient cold war omissions but by his communist cliches.” 

(Let me make a personal observation concerning Kunkin’s first statement above, that among “spy hunters,” especially those of the Warsaw Pact, I suspect, once someone’s been associated with an intelligence agency, he or she is forever after tagged with the label “intelligence operative.”  My father, as I noted, was temporarily assigned to the CIC during the beginning months of the occupation of Germany, from May 1945, when the Third Reich government surrendered, until Dad was shipped to the Pacific in August.  He never had any contact with an intelligence organization before that or after.  I, on the other hand, was an officer in Military Intelligence, the successor of the CIC, for almost five years.  It was the whole of my army service, including 2½ years as a counterintelligence special agent in Cold War Berlin.  Once I got out of the army, however, I never had any dealings with MI or any other intelligence agency.  No one ever contacted me or tried to recruit me.  I’m proud of my service and what I did during that time, but that part of my life ended in 1974.  What I have left is what I learned about myself from the experience—and a lot of stories.  I have never had call to use any of the tradecraft I learned again.  Neither had my father, and neither, I’m sure, had any of the people in Mader’s book who had a one-off connection with some intelligence agency at one time in their lives.  To believe otherwise is absurd—and paranoid.)

The Freep editor further suggests:

In this shadowy cloak and dagger world it must also be assumed that the Russians do not even want to expose certain American agents.  It is obviously easier in some circumstances to tolerate a known agent whom you can watch and divert from important information than continually have to cope with uncovering new agents. 

Who’s Who’s listings, Kunkin observes, “are usually people whose Intelligence background has already been publicized.”  Furthermore, he says, “Their past and present affiliations probably could be determined simply by close study of telephone directories, newspaper files, etc.”  There may even be a few “ringers” in the entries as well, “thrown . . . at us for [the Soviets’] own political purpose.”  But Kunkin bemoaned that some private citizens where lumped in with the intelligence workers, and what he feared most  was “that these suspect listings may be correct,” after all. 

He singled out the entry for Frederick Amos Praeger (1915-94), founder of Praeger Publishers, who issued books on communism (as well as other topics such as art and archeology).  Feared Kunkin, “Praeger’s ‘listing’ may simpl[y] be a result of his anti-fascist affiliations in World War Two [Praeger was born in Austria], but, then again, the widespread rumor that he has published ‘cold war books’ with CIA money may indeed be true.”  Who’s Who in CIA, says the reviewer, shows “how American trade union leaders, businessmen, college professors, government officials, and military men are entangled in the web of the so-called Intelligence agencies.”  The lesson Kunkin took away from the book is:

On the one hand, we had an elected government presumably responsible to the people; on the other hand, the military-industrial complex which President Eisenhower warned about linked its future with the development of a super-secretive intelligence-operational group manipulating domestic and international affairs with a total disregard for democratic procedures anywhere.

The Free Press editor and publisher concludes his anti-establishment treatise (Kunkin had much more to say that wasn’t directly pertinent to the book) by affirming: “The public needs to be informed of the urgency of the problem.  Given these considerations, ‘Who’s Who in the CIA’ is a valuable book despite its compromised source.”

None of this is to say, of course, that the Washington world of the foreign service and intelligence apparatus like the State Department, USIA, and the CIA wasn’t entirely engaged for months in the summer of 1968 looking to see who was named and who wasn’t.  At social functions which my dad’s former foreign service colleagues attended, there was always insouciant chatter about the book and its listings.  Almost immediately upon its release, Who’s Who in CIA became impossible to find in bookstores and reports are that it even disappeared from many libraries across the country.  Art Kunkin guessed that the book’s popularity was partly spurred by government secretaries and clerks who bought it to see what their bosses were hiding in their backgrounds.

Dad obtained a copy of Who’s Who in CIA as soon as it was released, but my mom gave it away with most of her and my father’s books after he went into a nursing home and she moved to a smaller apartment, not realizing what it represented.  I wanted to replace it, but it was hard to find in the early ’90s and I used to check the used bookstores, of which there were then dozens near my home in New York City.  I even checked Revolution Books, a Marxist bookstore off Union Square near where I live, that had a section devoted to military history and related subjects.  After the Internet had become available and I used it to search for a copy of the English edition in good condition for a reasonable price, I eventually replaced the book in 2005, nine years after my father’s death.  (I paid €18, or $23 at that time.  Today, some copies are selling for anywhere from just over $100 to well over $300.)

The world in which Who’s Who in CIA could exist is gone now and for those born after the Cold War ended and the Soviet empire collapsed, it probably seems a little ridiculous and silly.  In “Berlin Memoir, Part 4” (posted on Rick On Theater on 9 February 2017), I wrote: “The Cold War was a wondrous time—if you’re Franz Kafka!”  (I’ve blogged a lot about my MI experiences in Berlin; see “Berlin Station,” 19 and 22 July 2009; “The Berlin Wall,” 29 November 2009; “Berlin Stories: Three SNAFU’s,” 18 August 2012; and “Berlin Memoir,” 16 and 31 December 2016, 20 January 2017, 9 and 19 February 2017, 11 and 29 March 2017, and 13 April 2017.  I also wrote a little about my dad’s work with USIA in Germany in “An American Teen In Germany,” 9 and 12 March 2013, and “Home Alone,” 12, 15, and 18 June 2015.)  This article is about a little piece of that world-spanning absurdity that briefly touched my own family a little.  It’s obviously a memory I still carry with me after 50 years.