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Statement of Elia Kazan 

Before The House Committee on Un-American Acitivities

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APRIL 10, 1952

ELIA KAZAN

Executive Hearing (released April 11)

A subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities met at 4:25 p.m., in room 330, Old House Office Building, the Honorable Francis E. Walter, presiding.

Committee member present: Representative Francis E. Walter.

Staff members present: Frank S. Tavenner, Jr., Counsel; and Raphael L. Nixon, Director of Research.

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Mr. Tavenner: Mr. Kazan, you testified before this Committee on January 14, 1952, in an executive session, did you not?

Mr. Kazan: That’s correct.

Mr. Tavenner: In that hearing, you testified fully regarding your own membership in the Communist Party approximately seventeen years ago and your activity in the Party, did you not?

Mr. Kazan: That is correct.

Mr. Tavenner: However, you declined at that time to give the Committee any information relating to the activities of others or to identify others associated with you in your activities in the Communist Party?

Mr. Kazan: Most of the others, yes, sir. Some I did name.

Mr. Tavenner: But you declined at that time to name all of them?

Mr. Kazan: That is correct.

Mr. Tavenner: Now I understand that you have voluntarily requested the Committee to reopen your hearing, and to give you an opportunity to explain fully the participation of others known to you at the time to have been members of the Communist Party.

Mr. Kazan: That is correct. I want to make a full and complete statement. I want to tell you everything I know about it.

Mr. Tavenner: Now, in preparation for your testimony here, have you spent considerable time and effort in recalling and in reducing to writing the information which you have?

Mr. Kazan: I spent a great deal of time, yes, sir?

Mr. Tavenner: Do you have prepared, in written form, the full and complete statement which you say you would like to make to the Committee?

Mr. Kazan: Yes, sir, I have such a statement prepared.

***

(Statement of Elia Kazan:)

New York City, N.Y., April 9, 1952

The House Committee on Un-American Acitivities,

Washington, D.C.

Gentlemen:

I wish to ammend the testimony which I gave before you on January 14 of this year, by adding to it this letter and the accompanying sworn affidavit.

In the affidavit I answer the only question which I failed to answer at the hearing, namely, what people I knew to be members of the Communist Party between the summer of 1934, when I joined it, and the late winter or early spring of 1936, when I severed all connection with it.

I have come to the conclusion that I did wrong to withhold these names before, because secrecy serves the Communists, and is exactly what they want. The American people need the facts and all the facts about all aspects of Communism in order to deal with it wisely and effectively. It is my obligation as a citizen to tell everything that I know.

Although I answered all other questions which were put to me before,, the naming of these people makes it possible for me to volunteer a detailed description of my own activities and of the general activity which I witnessed. I have attempted to set these down as carefully and fully as my memory allows. In doing so, I have necessarily repeated portions of my former testimony, but I believe that by so doing I have made a more complete picture than if I omitted it.

In the second section of the affidavit, I have tried to review comprehensively my very slight political activity in the 16 years since I left the party. Here again, I have of necessity repeated former testimony, but I wanted to make as complete an over-all picture as my fallible memory allows.

In the third section is a list of the motion pictures I have made and the plays I have chosen to direct. I call your attention to these for they constitute the entire history of my professional activity as a director.

Respectfully,

Elia Kazan

 

State of New York,

County of New York, ss:

I, Elia Kazan, being duly seorn, depose and say:

I repeat my testimony of January 14, 1952, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, to the effect that I was a member of the Communist Party from sometime in the summer of 1934 until the late winter or early spring of 1936, when I severed all connection with it permanently.

I want to reiterate that in those years, to my eyes, there was no clear opposition national interests between the United States and Russia. It was not even clear to me that the American Communist Party was taking its orders from the Kremlin and acting as a Russian agency in this country. On the contrary, it seemed to me at that time that the Party had a heart the cause of the poor and unemployed people whom I saw on the streets about me. I felt that by joining, I was going to help them, I was going to fight Hitler, and strange as it seems today, I felt that I was acting for the good of the American people.

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