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Harvard Red Caught on Karlsruhe; Anti-Nazi Exploit Baffles Officials

Allen K. Philbrick, 2o of Winnetka, Ill., a Harvard junior, was taken into custody by police late last night having been discovered stuffing anti-Nazi propaganda down a ventilator of the German cadet cruiser Karlsruhe at the navy yard yesterday afternoon.

For several hours he steadfastly refused to reveal his identity, finally giving his correct name and address to police just before midnight. Previously he had given several fictitious names and addresses.

His apprehension raised a question in international entanglements which United States Marshal John J. Murphy, naval officials, Baron Kurt von Tippelskirch, the German consul, officers of the Karlsruhe, and police had been unable to answer early this morning. They could not find a charge to place against the prisoner.

Several telephone calls to government officials in Washington were made by Murphy, but apparently the marshal's superiors there were as baffled as the marshal himself was in Boston.

A temporary way out was finally found when it was decided to hold Philbrick overnight on "suspicion of anarchy." He was taken to the city prison early this morning. Federal officials promised a decision today as to his future status.

Philbrick, known at Harvard as one of the college's leading radicals, is the son of Allen E. Philbrick, a professor at the Chicago Art Institute. The younger Philbrick is secretary of the Harvard chapter of the National Students' League, and was one of the leaders in arranging the recent peace meeting in the college yard which caused a near riot when a large "pro-war" delegation appeared and disrupted the scheduled affair.

He is a member of the Harvard Liberal club, and rooms in Adams house at the college. In checking at his room to make sure that the student name he finally gave was correct, police found a large collection of Marxian literature.

Officers of the Karlsruhe caught him aboard the boat and turned him over to navy yard officials. An escort of marines subsequently took him to the yard gate, where he was turned over to Inspectors William Goldston and Benjamin Goodman of the police "red" squad.

His presence on the cruiser was first suspected when a cadet found a mimeographed flier on board and handed it to his superior officer.

The leaflet read:

Attention German sailors! Let not Hitler lie to you. His promises have been broken daily. Your salvation lies, German sailors, in communism. The heroic K. P. D. has joined and will fight for United Soviet Germany.

The watch was ordered to keep a sharp eye on visitors. Finally, Lt. Schmidt, an officer of the watch, spied the man putting papers into the ventilator. He asked him to accompany him to the gangway, where he was placed under arrest by Marine Sergt. Lufkin.

He was questioned in the office of the yard by Capt. Harold E. Cook, Lt. H. L. DeRivera and Lt. C. M. Reynolds. Realizing the seriousness of the offense, which was without precedent in this basin, they called the German consul and Murphy.

The conference lasted nearly four hours. Murphy was advised by U. S. Atty. Francis J. W. Ford that the federal government had no jurisdiction over the deck of a German ship which was here as a guest of the U. S. navy and the city of Boston.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The Russian Revolution presented the strongest-ever counter to the American Revolution. The outcomes of the Russian Revolution posed a challenge to America's understanding of what a successful revolution would mean. During the 1930s, the Soviet Union was still seen as the principal ideological threat to the United States. Americans therefore feared Communism more than the rise of National Socialism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. In May of 1934, Allen K. Philbrick was caught "stuffing" procommunist propaganda "down a ventilator of the German cadet cruiser Karlsruhe." Philbrick's actions would have aroused the fears of Americans. The Boston Police department's "'Red' Squad" responded by taking Philbrick into custody and by holding him under the charge of 'suspicion of anarchy.' Urban police departments in the United States from the 1870s on routinely contained units charged with discovering and exposing political subversion.


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"Harvard Red Caught on Karlsruhe; Anti-Nazi Exploit Baffles Officials" article from Boston Herald newspaper

publisher   Boston Herald newspaper
date   May 16, 1934
location   Boston, Massachusetts
width   3.5"
height   11.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L06.072

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See Also...

Letter to Ward and Annie Clarke about Communism

WWII political letter to Henry L. Clarke

"Communist Impudence" article in The Gazette and Courier newspaper

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