As of Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Whittaker Chambers, Soviet spy-turned-informant, knew that his testimony could cost his career and cause his children to be shunned. He began his book, Witness, explaining:
“My children, as long as you live, the shadow of the Hiss Case will brush you. In every pair of eyes that rests on you, you will see pass, like a cloud passing behind a woods in winter, the memory of your father . . . In time . . . you will ask yourselves . . . What was my father? I will give you an answer: I was a witness . . . A witness . . . is a man whose life and words are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences” (5).
As a young man, Chambers believed only Communism offered hope for change. He became part of a spy ring in Washington, D.C. He faithfully tried to ignore Stalin’s purges—executions of suspected dissenters—until Dmitri Schmidt, a Red Army general, was shot for treason. “The Communist Party [was] cutting out of its own body all that could weaken or hamper it . . .” (76). Chambers now saw Communism as a false faith.
Evidence against Marxist atheism came unexpectedly while watching his infant daughter eat porridge: “My eye came to rest on the intricate convolutions of her ear—those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature.... They could have been created only by immense design.’ The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion…. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid on my forehead” (16).
Who could have guessed that the transformation of a devout atheist and conviction of Alger Hiss for perjury would hinge on one tiny ear?