The ACLU’s untold Stalinist heritage

Foster was a key figure in the early years of the American communist movement who belonged to the ACLU’s National Committee in the 1920s, according to FBI documents. He later wrote a book titled “Toward Soviet America” in 1932 and also testified under oath before Congress that he opposed American democracy.

Noted author Paul Kengor has unearthed declassified letters and other documents in the Soviet Comintern archives linking early leaders of the ACLU with the Communist Party.

Kengor found a May 23, 1931 letter in the archives signed by ACLU founder Roger Baldwin, written on ACLU stationery, to then American Communist Party Chairman William Z. Foster asking him to help ACLU Chairman Harry Ward with his then-upcoming trip to Stalin’s Russia.

The letter suggests Ward intended to visit the Soviet Union to find “evidence from Soviet Russia” that would undermine the capitalist profit motive.

Baldwin wrote the letter at a time when Stalin was deporting 1.8 million Ukrainian peasants to Siberia under his policy of the forced collectivization of agriculture, which resulted in the deaths of up to 10 million Ukrainians in the two years that followed.

The Ukrainian government considers this to have been an act of genocide.

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