Lauterbach was among a group of several journalists employed by Time magazine including John Scott that demanded publisher Henry Luce fire Whittaker Chambers as head of the foreign news department because of Chambers unsympathetic views toward Stalinism and Soviet Communism. Lauterbach was Time's Moscow bureau correspondent. According to Jack Soble, Lauterbach threatened to resign rather than write articles critical of the Soviet Union. Soble recommended Lauterbach for recruitment to the KGB. Lauterbach was already a concealed member of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA).
Lauterbach carried the Party line in a January 1945 LIFE magazine tribute to Stalin for his birthday, entitled Stalin at 65. Lauterbach says Stalin was driven to "push through collectivization of farms at any cost, to build up the morale, to promote the Stakhanovite speed-up movement, to make peace with Hitler for enough time to plan and build for the war he knew was coming...". Lauterbach quotes Stalin as saying, "Those who think I would ever embark on the adventurous path of conquest blatantly underestimate my sense of realities." And closes with Stalin's greatest contribution "to the workers of the world by establishing socialism in one country, by raising the economic level of the masses in Russia to new highs by setting up the Soviet Union as the shining example".
Lauterbach was one of the first American journalists to write about the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. Lauterbach described how the impact of the "full emotional shock came at a giant warehouse chock-full of people's shoes, more than 800,000 of all sizes, shapes, colors, and styles...In some places the shoes had burst out of the building like corn from a crib. It was monstrous. There is something about an old shoe as personal as a snapshot or a letter. I looked at them and saw their owners: skinny kids in soft, white, worn slippers; thin ladies in black highlaced shoes; sturdy soldiers in brown military shoes..."
After the War Lauterbach was a Nieman Fellow in 1947 at Harvard's Neiman Foundation for Journalism. The Richard E. Lauterbach Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Civil Liberties has been established by the Authors Guild of the Authors League of America.
- Whittaker Chambers, Witness (New York: Regnery, 1997), 498.
- Sam Tanenhaus, Whittaker Chambers (New York: Random House, 1997), 182.
- Louis F. Budenz, The Techniques of Communism: Invading Education Chap. X, (1954), pgs. 208-248.
- Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments, Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws to the Committee of the Judiciary, United States Senate, 83rd Congress, 1st Session, July 30, 1953.
- Robert Edwin Herzstein, Henry Luce, Marshall, and China: The. Parting of the Ways in 1946, George C. Marshall Foundation, 1998.