Alice Barrows

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Alice Prentice Barrows was a secretary of Dr. William A. Wirt, who headed the U.S. Office of Education in the early days of the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt. Barrows had been a member of the Communist Party of the United States since 1919, the same year she began working for the Office of Education. During World War II Barrows was the Executive Secretary of the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship.

In 1934, a Congressional Investigation was held to examine statements Dr. Wirt made regarding a meeting in Alice Barrows home a year earlier. Laurence Todd, an American journalist who covered the Department of State for the Soviet news agency TASS from 1927 to 1952 was also in attendance. The "Wirt Incident" was widely reported and provoked much controversy. Barrows and several other government employees revealed to Wirt they were members of the Communist party. Wirt testified before the Bulwinkle investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1934,

"I was told they believe that by thwarting our then evident economic recovery, they would be able to prolong the country’s destitution until they had demonstrated to the American people that the Government must operate business and commerce. By propaganda, they would destroy institutions making long term capital loans—and then push Uncle Sam into making these loans. Once Uncle Sam becomes our financier, he must also follow his money with control and management.

Wirt further testified they told him,

"We believe we have Roosevelt in the middle of a swift stream, and that the current is so strong, that he cannot turn back or escape from it. We believe that we can keep Mr. Roosevelt there until we are ready to supplant him with a Stalin. We all think that Mr. Roosevelt is only the Kerensky of this revolution. We are on the inside. We can control the avenues of influence. We can make the President believe that he is making decisions for himself." [1][2]

Dr. Wirt authored, America Must Lose by a "Planned Economy", The Stepping-Stone to a Regimented State in 1934.

A June 1945 Venona project decryption of the Washington, D.C. KGB Office to Moscow's Eighth Department, the political intelligence wing, relayed information on matters regarding President Truman and Attorney General Francis Biddle. KGB agent Charles Kramer, who served on the staff of several U.S. Senate Subcommittees, and Barrows are the sources of the information. Mary Van Kleek who headed the Russell Sage Foundation and also served on the Board of the National Council, visited Washington weekly to meet with Barrows and Nathan Gregory Silvermaster.

The organization Barrows served as Director was found in 1953 to be a Communist front organization by the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB). In its Findings of Fact, the SACB said the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship,

"advances positions...markedly pro-Soviet and...anti-United States a Communist-action organization which has as its primary purpose to advance the objectives of the world Communist movement under the hegemony of the Soviet Union; it has the policy to support and defend the Soviet Union under any and all circumstances...We conclude that the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship, Inc., is substantially directed, dominated, and controlled by the Communist Party of the United States...and is primarily operated for the purpose of giving aid and support to...the Soviet Union, a Communist foreign government."


  1. Hearings, House Select Committee To Investigate Certain Statements of Dr. William Wirt, 73rd Congress, 2nd Session, April 10 and 17, 1934.
  2. The Roosevelt Myth, John T. Flynn, Fox and Wilkes, 1948, Book 1, Ch. 6.


  • Hearings, Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments, Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, June 23, 1953, pp. 823–840.
  • United States. Subversive Activities Control Board. Reports of the Subversive Activities Control Board. Washington. United States Government Printing Office. 1966. Vol. 1, p. 501.
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)
  • Dr Wirt faces the cameras and tells all, Literary Digest v. 117 (April 21, 1934) p. 7.