Tag Archives: United Communist Party

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 761 (and counting) individual deportees I have identified. This list is a work in progress, and some entries will be updated as I obtain additional sources.

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. 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 together 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, who photographed dozens 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!

Bileski to Bogen

Harry Bileski

Deported to Austria May 1920. No further information found.

Included on list of radical deportees in INS file 54325/36G

Mikhail Bilokumsky (Michael)

Born 1892, Andreevka, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Laborer. Migrated to US 1912. Member, United Communist Party. Arrested January 1921 in Philadelphia during second Palmer Raids, and again April 1921 while handing out UCP May Day handbills with a friend. Ordered deported to Russia in August 1921 on basis of revolutionary content of those handbills; lost Supreme Court challenge in 1923 (United States ex rel. Bilokumsky v. Tod, 263 U.S. 149), by which time the Soviet Union no longer accepted deportees from US. Instead, a passport was obtained from a New York representative of the “Ukrainian Diplomatic Mission,” an anti-Soviet self-proclaimed government in exile not recognized by the United States or Ukraine. A Bureau of Immigration board of review ruled in January 1924 that Bilokumsky be released on bond because “the passport cannot be used…and in order to effect deportation a passport must be had from the Ukrainian Soviet representative which is not practicable at this time.” But these instructions were ignored; on May 24, 1924 he was deported via Switzerland to the Russian border, where he may have been turned away; rumored to have been left in Romania, prompting the Communist newspaper Novy Mir to protest that if Bilokumsky was left stranded in a “country that is hostile to Russia he will either be imprisoned or murdered.” He was last reported to be “stranded and starving in Vienna.” No further information of his fate was found.

INS file 55009/76

See also: Kansas State News (Topeka KS), August 29, 1924

_________ Bjorkman

IWW member deported October 28, 1919. No further information found.

Included on list of IWW prisoners and deportees in One Big Union Monthly, March 1920

Catherine Hartog Bloom

Born 1883, Hoogwoud, The Netherlands. Housewife. Migrated to US 1913. Not radical before arrival; joined Socialist Party circa 1915 and was treasurer of her SP local in Chicago; transferred to Ninth Ward branch of Communist Party of America in October 1919. Husband Nick Bloom “in the building trades”; owned home in Chicago, which they intended to sell so he could return to The Netherlands with her. Deported June 1921. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54861/120; FBI file OG 381560

Sergey Bobkov (Сергей Бобков, Serge Bobkoff or Babkoff)

Born 1898, Russia. Member and delegate of the Union of Russian Workers. Arrested Seattle, December 1919. Deported January 1921. Subsequent activities unknown.

FBI file 388847

Sevastyan Bogdanovich (Севастьян Богданович, Sebastian aka Sam)

Born 1892, Russia. Laborer. Migrated to US 1915. Union of Russian Workers. Arrested March 1920, Baltimore, after “nearly caused a riot” by giving pro-Bolshevik speech in front of Holy Rosary Church. Deported February 1921. Subsequent activities unknown.

FBI file OG 384761

Xenov Bogen (Зенов Боген, Zenow/Zenov Bogen)

Born 1893, Korets, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Laborer. Migrated to US 1913. Joined Union of Russian Workers early 1919. Arrested Hartford, Connecticut, during first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/207

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

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