Tag Archives: Czechoslovakian

Faces of the First Red Scare

As part of the ongoing research for my book on the global history of immigrant radicals who were deported during America’s First Red Scare, I have posted brief profiles of 836 (and counting) individual deportees I have identified. This list is a work in progress, and entries are being added updated as I obtain additional information.

Who is included:

This list includes radicals and suspected radicals who were deported between 1918 (following America’s entrance into the First World War) and 1925, when the last of the foreign-born radicals arrested between 1917 and 1920 were expelled, some after serving prison sentences or being interned as “enemy aliens.” It includes both those who were deported by government order and those who were ordered deported but “voluntarily departed” at their own expense with the government’s consent (both categories were included in US government deportation statistics). It does not include those who fled the country to avoid arrest or deportation. It includes both individuals deported for belonging to legally-defined “anarchistic classes,” and others who were suspected of radicalism but deported on other grounds (most commonly for entering the country without inspection or being retroactively deemed “likely to become a public charge” at the time of their entry).

This is not a complete list. In the fiscal years (June-July) 1918-1926, the United States deported 979 aliens as “anarchists,” and an unknown number of additional radical immigrants under other statutes. The largest single group of deportees, composed of 242 alleged radicals (as well as seven unrelated deportees) departed on the USAT Buford on December 21, 1919. However, it appears that no complete list of Red Scare deportees was produced by either the Bureau of Immigration or the Bureau of Investigation. I have instead had to rely on partial lists and mentions of individual cases included in these organizations’ files, congressional testimony, radical publications, newspaper reports, and other sources.

How to use this site:

Profiles have been posted in small batches. They are organized in alphabetical order by last name, followed by alternate spellings and pseudonyms in parentheses. (The Cyrillic spellings of Russian names are generally my best guess; American sources from the era were wildly inconsistent in their spellings of such names. The same is true of the transliteration of Chinese names in the Roman alphabet.) You can also browse the Index of Names.

Birth years are often approximate, usually having been calculated from an individual’s age at the time of their examination by immigration authorities, and some may therefore be off by a year.

You can search by individuals’ nationalities (country of birth and, in some cases, ethnicity [i.e. Jewish, Lithuanian, etc.]) by using the tags above.

Occupations describe the individuals’ employment in the US, not necessarily the work they engaged in before arrival or after their deportation.

Political affiliations represented include the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the anarcho-syndicalist Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada (URW); the anarchist Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM); anarchists unaffiliated with larger organizations; the Communist Party of America (CP); the Communist Labor Party (CLP); the Socialist Party of America (SP); the Socialist Labor Party (SLP); and unaffiliated socialists. You can search by political affiliation by using the tags above.

You may also use the “Search” box at the top of the page to look for individual names, locations, etc.

The main sources used for compiling these profiles are case files from the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Record Group 85, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC; the Old German Files (OG) and Bureau Section Files (BS) of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Record Group 65, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (as digitized at fold3.com); and (for Italians) the Casellario Politico Centrale (CPC), Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome, Italy.

A special thanks to Molly Thacker and Brooke Thompson, who photographed hundreds of INS files for me; Malcolm Archibald, who has translated a number of Russian-language sources; D.J. Alperovitz, who has provided photographs of several IWW members; and the dozens of other archivists, translators, activists, and colleagues who have helped me locate, acquire, and read material from across the globe while undertaking this research.

Finally, if you have additional information about any of the deportees, or spot an error, please contact me!

Novenad to Nozevsky

Frank A. Novenad

Deported to Czechoslovakia, May 8, 1920. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

Petr Novik (Петр Новик; Peter Novick; Nowick)

Born 1897, Grodno, Russia. Printer. Migrated to US 1914. 1918 joined the Union of Russian Workers in New York. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/119

Yakim Novik (Яким Новик; Noik)

Born 1884, Minsk, Russia (present-day Belarus). Miner. Migrated to US 1914. Joined the Union of Russian Workers in Fairmont, West Virginia. Arrested December 2, 1919. According to immigration inspector, he “belongs to the most ignorant peasant type of White Russia…He has not sufficient intelligence, in my judgement, to become a dangerous anarchist but would probably be a blind follower if a leader of ability should arise to point the way. He is not a type of man that is now, or ever will be, of value to this country.” Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/607

Ivan Novikov (Иван Новиков; Novikoff)

Born 1882, Rovennki, Russia. Printer. Migrated to US 1909. Employed as a linotype operator for the socialist newspaper Novy Mir. An anarchist and prominent figure in the Union of Russian Workers in New York. (He told authorities he joined the URW in 1917, but likely joined earlier.) The apartment in the Bronx that he and his wife and children shared with several borders was a meeting place for Russian anarchists. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. According to Alexander Berkman, “In Ellis Island he spent most of his time in the hospital. He refused to accept bail as long as the others arrested with him remained in prison. He consented only when almost at the point of death and then he was dragged to the boat to be deported.” Berkman also described him as “a man of intellectual attainment and much political acumen.” Deported on the Buford. During its voyage, elected to committee of deportees charged with negotiating with the immigration inspector on board for better conditions. His wife, E. Novikov, unsuccessfully petitioned to be deported with their children in order to rejoin him. In Russia, in April 1920, he told Berkman: “I can’t afford the luxury of expressing an opinion [on the Bolshevik’s action]…I have been promised a place on a commission to be sent to Europe. It’s my only chance of joining my wife and children.” May 1920 he departed for southern Russia, and in 1922 the US Department of Justice received information that he intended to illegally return to the US. However, he did not manage to leave Russia, and in 1932 he was sentenced to a three-year sentence at the forced labor camp in Kudymkor.

INS file 54709/111; FBI file OG 379190

See also: Alexander Berkman Papers, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam; Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth (Diary 1920-1922); G. P. Maximoff, The Guillotine at Work: Twenty Years of Terror in Russia (Data and Documents)

Alexander Noviksichi

Deported to Russia January 22, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

Peter Novokov (Петр Новоков; Pete; Novokoff)

Born 1890, Mogilev, Russia. Miner. Migrated to US 1913. Joined the Union of Russian Workers in Monessen, Pennsylvania, in September 1918. Arrested on raid on Jamison Mine in Downs, West Virginia, during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported on the Buford.

INS file 54709/590; FBI file OG 8000-382461

Vikenti Nozevsky (Викенти Нозевский; Vincent Nozewski)

Deported to Russia January 22, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

Solari to Spisak

Giuseppe Solari

Born 1884, Genoa, Italy. Laborer; carpenter. Migrated to US 1905. Joined brother Giovanni in the US, who paid for his passage and his mother’s. Worked his way up from a pick-and-shovel worker to cabinetmaker; financially supported his mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and thirteen nieces and nephews. A close associate of Luigi Galleani, a distributor of anarchist literature, and and the secretary and treasurer of the anarchist Gruppo Autonomo in East Boston. Described by the US government as “one of the leading anarchists in New England” and by Italian authorities as “the deus ex machina of many meetings and conferences held among the subversives” of East Boston. Arrested May 17, 1918, for agitating against the military draft; “it required two automobiles to transport to the Federal Building the immense amount of literature and correspondence that was found in the premises” of his home. Deported June 24, 1919, with Galleani and others. Under surveillance by the Italian government, which noted that he maintained his anarchist ideas but recorded no radical activities on his part. Died 1937 in Genoa.

INS file 54241/22; CPC busta 4857

Peter Solocha (Penataley; Solocho)

Born 1893, Chernigov, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Autoworker. Migrated to US 1913. Joined the Union of Russian Workers branch in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in early 1919. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported January 22, 1921. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54707/243

Fedor Solenki (Федор Соленки; Fred; Solonika)

Born 1896, Volodymyr-Volynsky, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Ukrainian. Laborer. Migrated to US circa 1912. Joined the Union of Russian Workers in New London, Connecticut circa 1917. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Claims to be illiterate, but in possession of radical literature. According to the Immigration Inspector, “even though his illiteracy or stupidity [should] be taken into consideration, I believe he is very dangerous, because his evidence shows he is easily led, as he admits attempting to secure members for the Union of Russian Workers.” Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/241; FBI file OG 374549

Karl W. Sonntag (aka John Fensky)

Born 1886, Breslau, Germany (present-day Wrocław, Poland). Polish. Served three years in the German navy. Laborer; machinist. Migrated to US 1908 (deserted ship in Galvaston, Texas). Sonntag was a skilled metalworker who patented a “tire-testing machine” (US patent no. 1068180) in 1913. Joined the IWW in Kansas City, Missouri, 1914; found work as a lumber worker and active in IWW strikes, for which he wrote radical songs. 1917 imprisoned for three months in Idaho for “criminal syndicalism” following his participation in a lumber strike at the Potlatch Lumber Company. Arrested in Walla Walla, Washington, February 8, 1918, after reported by the “Minute Men of Seattle” for unlawfully working within a federally-mandated “prohibited zone” along the waterfront from which Germans and other “enemy aliens” were barred. (Sonntag had secured employment by using the name “John Fesky” and claiming to be Austrian.) Upon discovery of his IWW membership, he was also charged with advocating the unlawful destruction of property, but then interned at Fort Douglas in Utah as an “enemy alien.” There he spent eight months in the disciplinary barracks for singing IWW songs, on what he described as a diet of “bread and water, and finally two leaden bullets in the leg.” Released on the condition that he “voluntarily depart” to German, which he did on June 23, 1919. He expected “to be busy in the so-called German revolution” upon his return, but he “found that I again got badly fooled,” and he subsequently made his way to Soviet Russia. There he found employment at the Felser & Co. factory in Nizhny Novgorod, where his workday was “sixteen hours and more.” After IWW leader William D. Haywood jumped his bail and fled to Russia in 1921, Sonntag, who had known Haywood in the United States, wrote him a letter of welcome, advising, “if this country needs anything it’s organizers and I think you’ll have a hell of a lot of work to do here…Let’s all do your best to make a paradise for workers out of this country.” No further information found.

INS file 54379/116

See also: Lewis S. Gannett, “Americans in Russia,” The Nation, August 17, 1921

Emilio Souto

Deported IWW member.

Charles Spangberg

Spangberg’s IWW membership card

Born 1887, Sweden. Lumber worker. Migrated to US 1905. Joined the IWW in February 1917. Arrested in Spokane, Washington, April 6, 1918. Deported November 4, 1918. January 1919 wrote to Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson inquiring why he had been deported and when he could be allowed to return to the US; there is no record of a reply being sent. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54379/235

Andrew Jacob Spisak (aka A.J. Smith)

Born 1886, Rozgony, Austria-Hungary (present-day Rozhanovce, Slovakia). Metalworker; sign painter. Migrated to US 1904. 1912 lost his left eye and suffered a skull fracture from a workplace accident. Communist Party of America. Braddock, Pennsylvania. Arrested April 29, 1921 by members of the Edgar Thomson Steel Company’s private police force for posting radical May Day leaflets published by the United Communist Party; convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s sedition law, then turned over to immigration authorities. Released November 1922; detained again June 1923 and held on Ellis Island for seventeen months while awaiting a passport from Czechoslovakia, which was initially denied on the grounds that he had resided outside of Czechoslovakian territory for more than ten years and therefore lost his citizenship. Deported to Czechoslovakia, October 24, 1924. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54809/601; FBI file BS 202600-1897

See also: Daily Worker, November 15, 1924