Herbert Romerstein, most recently a professor at the postgraduate Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC, is a specialist on espionage, Soviet political warfare, international terrorism, and internal security. He is the author of such books as Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government (2012), The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and American Traitors (2000), and Heroic Victims: Stalin’s Foreign Legion in the Spanish Civil War (1994). The Hoover Institution has recently acquired Romerstein’s archives, the result of some sixty years of his research and collecting. When fully processed and registered, it will be Hoover’s largest collection on the subversive activities of communist action and communist front organizations in the United States and abroad, substantially complementing the holdings of two large Hoover collections with a similar focus: the US Subversive Activities Control Board records and the William T. Poole collection.
Herbert Romerstein was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1931. In high school he joined the Communist Youth League and soon after became a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA, where, as he has often said, he “learned to read communist.” His infatuation with communism, however, was short-lived. When the Korean War began, he had to decide which side he supported; he decided to support freedom. Following his military service, he became a research analyst and investigator for American Business Consultants, who published the anti-Communist newsletter “Counterattack”, and for Bookmailer, a small publishing house, that published his first book, Communism and Your Child in 1962. He testified before the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security on Communist Infiltration of Youth Organizations in 1951 and before the Subversive Activities Control Board. He attended the Vienna Youth Festival in 1959 and the Helsinki Youth Festival in 1962, all sponsored by the Communist front groups World Federation of Democratic Youth and International Union of Students.
Romerstein entered US government service in 1965 as an investigator for the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. Later he served as minority chief investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security and as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In his final years of government service, during President Reagan’s administration, Romerstein served as head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures of the United States Information Agency. Since retiring from the government in 1989, Romerstein has done extensive research in both US and foreign archives, including work in the Ukrainian archives and in the archives of the Communist International in Moscow.
Maciej Siekierski siekierski [at] stanford.edu