Carl Marzani

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Carl Aldo Marzani (4 March 1912 - 11 December 1994), was an American who served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II and later the U.S. Department of State. He also became a political documentary filmmaker, authored many books and articles, and was an editor and publisher. Marzani served nearly three years in prison for concealing his Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) membership while in the OSS.

Soviet archives and Venona decryption reveal that he was an NKVD spy and Soviet propagandist. In 2012, Hudson Institute adjunct fellow historian Ronald Radosh hinted that Marzani's Soviet-published We Can Be Friends may have been plagiarized in Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States.[1]

Early years

Marzani was born in Rome, Italy. The family emigrated to the United States in 1924 and settled in Scranton Pennsylvania. Carl entered the first grade at the age of twelve. As Marzini learned English his schooling improved, and he graduated from High School in 1931 with a scholarship to Williams College.

At Williams Carl became a Socialist and joined the League for Industrial Democracy. Marzani began writing and became the editor of the schools literary magazine. Marzani married his first wife Edith Eisner, an actress whose stage name was Edith Emerson. Marzani graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in 1935, with a BA in English. Marzani then moved to New York. In 1936 Marzani received a Moody fellowship to Oxford University.

Spanish Civil War

When the Spanish Civil War broke out Marzani lead anarchist troops in Spain the Durruti Column during late 1936 and early 1937. In June 1938 Marzani received a BA in Modern Greats; Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford. He then joined the British Communist Party, and served as treasurer of the South Midlands district. In the summer of 1938 Marzani and his newe wife Carl travelled around the world, visiting India, Indochina, China, Japan, and Europe, using Communist Party contacts to meet Nehru and others.

Communazi era

After their world tour, the Marzanis returned to the United States and went on relief, the New Deal term for government assistance and welfare. Eventually they got government paid jobs with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) while at the same time joining the CPUSA, with false identities. Marzani joined the CPUSA 23 August 1939, on the day the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed.

As a WPA instructor at New York University, as served as district Organizer for the Communist Party on the Lower East Side of New York. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in mid 1941, Marzani became director of a popular front anti-fascist organization, and resigned from the Communist party in August, 1941.


In early 1942 after the United States became involved in World War II, Marzani joined the OSS, the predecssor organization of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Marzani worked under Colonel William J. Donovan from 1942–1945 in the Analysis Branch. While at the OSS Marzani worked closely with a group of Soviet agents [1][2] managed by Eugene Dennis, who later became CPUSA General Secretary. In 1945 Marzani transferred to the Department of State, where he worked as the Deputy Chief of the Presentation Division of the Office of Intelligence. Marzani's handled the preparation of top-secret reports, dealing with statistics, and communications in all forms of media. He also picked the targets for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, which took place on April 18, 1942.

Cold War propaganda

In 1946 Marzani founded and directed Union Films, a film documentary company that had contracts with United Electrical and other unions to do documentaries. One film entitled Deadline for Action, was released in September 1946, five weeks before Marzani resigned from the State Department. The film blamed the United States for the Cold War.


In January 1947 Marzani's was indicted on fraud charges, receiving government pay while concealing CPUSA membership. Marzani was convicted on 22 June 1947, but nine counts were overturned on appeal, while the Supreme Court split 4–4 on a rare rehearing the last two charges. Marzani served thirty-two months of a thirty-six month sentence.

In prison, Marzani began work on a book blaming President Truman for starting the Cold War. Caught in 1950 attempting to smuggle out of prison a manuscript, Marzani was placed in solitary confinement for seven months. The book was published in 1952 as We Can Be Friends: The Origins of the Cold War.

Union Films went out of business during his stay in prison. After his release in 1951, Marzani edited UE Steward for the United Electrical Workers until 1954. The same year he joined Cameron Associates and partnered with Angus Cameron to run Liberty Book Club. Later Liberty became Marzani & Munsell which operated the Library-Prometheus Book Club.

Vietnam era propaganda

Oleg Kalugin, a retired KGB officer in 1994 identified Marzani as a contact and a recipient of KGB subsidies for his publishing house in the 1960s.


  • Louis Budenz, Men Without Faces: The Communist Conspiracy in the USA (New York: Harper, 1948), 252.
  • Carl Marzani, The Education of a Reluctant Radical, book 4 (New York: Topical Books, 1995), 3–7, 30, 87.
  • Oleg Kalugin, with Fen Montaigne, The First Directorate: My 32 Years in Intelligence and Espionage Against the West (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), 48–50.
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, (Yale University Press, 1999), 104, 218, 220–221.
  • FBI file Marzani, Carl Aldo - BOPNO HQ-0770023443
  • FBI file Marzani, Carl Aldo - BOPNO HQ-0870144622
  • FBI file Marzani, Carl Aldo - BOPNO HQ-1000345490


  1. Ronald Radosh (November 12, 2012). A Story Told Before: Oliver Stone’s recycled leftist history of the United States. The Weekly Standard. Retrieved on June 20, 2019.