Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Communist Activities in the Cleveland, Ohio, Area

TUESDAY AFTERNOON—JUNE 5, 1962

United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities, Washington, D.C.

PUBLIC hearings

The subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities reconvened at 2 p.m., Hon. Francis E. Walter (chairman) presiding.

Subcommittee members present: Representatives Walter, Doyle, Scherer, Johansen, Bruce; also present Representative Schadeberg.


TESTIMONY OF FRIEDA KATZ, ACCOMPANIED BY COUNSEL, JOSEPH FORER
Mr. Nittle. Would you state your name, please?

Mrs. Katz. My name is Frieda Katz.

Mr. Nittle. You are represented by counsel ?

Mrs. Katz. Yes, I am.

Mr. Nittle. Would counsel please identify himself for the record ?

Mr. Forer. Joseph Forer.

Mrs. Katz. Will the committee give me permission to read a statement?

The Chairman. No. You can leave the statement, and if we think that it is relevant, we will make it a part of the record.

Mrs. Katz. Thank you.

Mr. Nittle. Does the statement contain any references as to whether or not you are a member of the Communist Party as of this moment?

Mr. Forer. Well, all you have to do is look at the statement.

Mr. Nittle. Are you a member of the Communist Party, Mrs. Katz, as of this moment ?

Mrs. Katz. I should like to use my privilege under the fifth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and my privileges and rights under the first amendment to the Constitution, of freedom of speech, redress to the Congress, and so on.

The Chairman. You said, "I should like to." Do you?

Mrs. Katz. I do. I refuse to answer the question on those grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Do you know Julia Brown ?

Mrs. Katz. I refuse to answer the question on the previously mentioned grounds.

Mr. Scherer. Witness, were you in the hearing room during the time that Julia Brown testified ?

(Witness conferred with counsel.)

Mrs. Katz. Yes ; I was present.

Mr. Scherer. You heard her testimony ?

Mr. Forer. During part of the time, I think.

Mrs. Katz. Part of the time. That is correct.

Mr. Scherer. Did you hear testimony with reference to you ?

(Counsel conferred with witness.)

Mrs. Katz. I did not hear all of the testimony.

Mr. Scherer. You heard part of it ?

Mrs. Katz. I heard part of it.

The Chairman. Whose testimony are you talking about?

Mr. Forer. He is talking about Julia Brown's testimony.

The Chairman. Let the witness answer the question.

Mrs. Katz. I must refuse to answer the question, on the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Scherer. Now, is there anything that Julia Brown said about you that is untrue ?

Mrs. Katz. I refuse to answer the question on the previously stated grounds, under the first amendment and the fifth amendment to the Constitution.

Mr. Scherer. Was Julia Brown telling the truth when she identified you as one of the leading Communists in the State of Ohio ?

Mrs. Katz, I must refuse to answer this question on the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Scherer. I have no further questions at this time.

The Chairman. Go ahead, Mr. Nittle.

Mr. Nittle. Do you also refuse to answer the question on the ground that the statements made by Julia Brown are true?

Mrs. Katz. I have already stated the grounds on which I have refused to answer the questions. These are my constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, and the right not to incriminate myself, and these are the grounds on which I have refused and will decline to answer questions.

Mr. Nittle. I state as a fact, Mrs. Katz, that you were also a member of the Communist Party prior to your marriage to Dave Katz, and that you were a member of the Communist Party under the name of Frieda Zucker. Will you affirm or deny that assertion ?

Mrs. Katz. I shall refuse to answer, under the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Is it not a fact that under the name Frieda Zucker you were the secretary of the Tom Paine branch of the Communist Party in Cleveland, Ohio, and you were so listed in the Ohio 1939 yearbook of the Communist Party ?

Mrs. Katz. I again refuse to answer the question under the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Do you know Abe Strauss ?

Mrs. Katz. I refuse to answer the question on the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Were you the executive secretary of the Civil Rights Congress in Cleveland, Ohio ?

Mrs. Katz. I decline to answer the question, again on the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Mr. Chairman, I would like to read into the record a reference to the Civil Rights Congress as it appears in the committee's Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications.

There is a footnote on page 44, as follows:
In response to a petition from the Attorney General for an SACB order requiring the Civil Rights Congress to register as a Communist-front organization, the SACB held hearings between November 1954 and June 1955 * * *. Thereafter, the Civil Rights Congress moved to dismiss the Attorney General's petition on the ground that the organization had dissolved on January 6, 195G. The SACB denied the request to dismiss the petition, stating that the Civil Rights Congress had "failed factually to establish its dissolution, and in any event, that under the proper application of the [Internal Security] Act dissolution of the respondent would not divest the Board of jurisdiction."
Now, I ask you, Mrs. Katz, as its executive secretary, was the Civil Rights Congress in Cleveland dissolved by the Communist Party ?

Mrs. Katz. I must decline to answer this question on the previous grounds stated.

Mr. Nittle. Are you not presently the secretary of the Ohio Bill of Rights Conference?

Mrs. Katz. I must decline to answer that question, on previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. And was not that local organization a counterpart of the national organization titled "Civil Rights Congress" ?

Mrs. Katz. I again decline on previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. I state to you as a fact that your name appears in the City Directory of Cleveland as secretary of the Ohio Bill of Rights Conference, 2014 East 105th Street, Room 202.

Mrs. Katz. I must again decline to answer the question on the previously stated grounds.

Mr. Nittle. Now, Mrs. Brown testified that about the mid-1950's, the Communist Party headquarters, which was then operating under the disguise of its front names, had moved its quarters from Euclid Avenue to 2014 East 105th Street, Room 202. Do you affirm or deny that testimony ?

Mrs. Katz. I shall again decline to answer the question on the previous grounds stated.

Mr. Nittle. Are not the Civil Rights Congress and the Ohio Bill of Rights Conference one and the same organization?

Mrs. Katz. I must again decline to answer the question on the grounds stated.

Mr. Nittle. Was not this a case of the same Communist group in Cleveland operating under different disguises and names to confuse the public ?

Mrs. Katz. I repeat my declination on the grounds previously stated.

Mr. Nittle. And did not the Communist Party succeed in duping many Negro people in that area ?

Mrs. Katz. I have already indicated my reasons for declining to answer. I do not see the point in the continued making of such statements. I am declining to answer under my rights under the first amendment to the Constitution, and the fifth amendment, not to incriminate myself.

Mr. Nittle. The staff has no further questions, Mr. Chairman.

The Chairman. Are there any questions ? The witness is excused.

Source: Communist activities in the Cleveland, Ohio, area : hearings before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-seventh Congress, second session. June 4 and 5, 1962 (1962)

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