("Quid coniuratio est?")
From the upcoming issue of Steamshovel Press (#12, due in two weeks):
A Day In The Life
A Newly Declassified Document on Wilhelm Reich
In 1991 Steamshovel Press editor Kenn Thomas began a Freedom of Information Act search of government files on Wilhelm Reich, the orgone psychologist and UFO combatant whose scientific equipment was destroyed and books burned by the federal government after it sent him to certain death in the federal prison in Lewisberg, Pennsylvania in 1957. The FOI search yielded many interesting documents and a never before published photograph of Reich from his prison file. In November 1994, the Immigration and Naturalization Service declassified a document that had been withheld from the original FOI request. It details an attempt by the FBI in 1953 to get Dr. Reich to identify "suspected subversive aliens and to furnish information gained while a former member [sic] of the Communist Party in Germany" in the 1930s.
As the document reveals, the hapless agent assigned to this task stumbled upon a Wilhelm Reich quite removed from the narrow political preoccupations of his young adulthood. Reich had reached an advanced stage of his study of the orgone and had become convinced of its role in the developing awareness of the UFO phenomenon. The FBI agent had preoccupations of his own--the nudes in the artwork around Reich's Orgonon lab, for instance, and any potential information on the two suspected Communists (names deleted for the most part, in compliance with FOIA privacy protections)-but reached the surprising conclusion that Reich had "information which may be helpful to the government of the United States." By visit's end, however, the agent came away thoroughly chastised for his McCarthyist inquiry and with a clear glimpse of Reich's rage over his overlooked and misunderstood work. It clearly vindicates Reich from any suspicion that he fell prey to the McCarthyist temperament, as he gave none of the corroboration sought by the FBI and demanded from the agency acknowledgement of the real issues he felt he faced, not the agency's red-baiting fantasies.
Reich's widow, Ilse Ollendorff, mentioned this incident in a 1978 interview with Reich biographer Myron Sharaf (Fury On Earth, St. Martin's Press, 1983), but this is the first time the agent's report has been published. Steamshovel acknowledges with gratitude the FOI declassification procedure that led to this new look at a day in Reich's career.
SUBJECT was interviewed by the writer on November 24, 1953 in the office of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, known locally as ORGONON, which he heads, about four miles west of Rangeley, Maine, off Maine Route 16.
ORGONON consists of several hundred acres of open fields and sparse to heavy forest, situated on a slope overlooking Rangeley Lake. Visible structures consist of one dwelling house, one small structure signed "STUDENT LABORATORY", two garages, and one two and a half story wood and stone structure overlooking the surrounding property which is used as ORGONON laboratory- observatory. A private road leads to ORGONON property from the public highway through stone columns with a chain barring fence. The chain was not in place upon my arrival. Signs at the gate point to ORGONON and proclaim "RESEARCH AREA" and "RESTRICTED AREA". A sign at the laboratory indicates "BY APPOINTMENT ONLY." The first floor contains much medical testing and electrical equipment. The office, library and observation platform are located on the second floor. A vertical metal tower on the roof contains several aerials for ultra-high frequency reception, but no radio receiving or sending apparatus was to be seen. Hung on the walls of the second floor, office and library, are several large paintings of nude women and one American eagle. Also visible were several statues of nudes, and one photograph of a famous statue of a nude man and woman. Just inside the door leading to the observation platform were three shot guns and rifles with a supply of ammunition unboxed, in position for instant use. A holstered pistol of heavy calibre hung by a belt from the chair-back in which SUBJECT sat during the interview. A system for interoffice communication was visible as was a portable record player and standard radio receiver. Judging from my seating arrangement during the interview and by suspicious actions of SUBJECT, it is believed a recording of the conversation was made, or intended.
Upon examination of my identification card and badge, SUBJECT invited me into his office. He had apparently been working in the laboratory with another man who was visible upon my entrance through the main door. Again asking to see my identification, SUBJECT informed me he is a psychiatrist and a scientist, and as such he questioned my honesty and loyalty and said I may be a Communist underground worker testing his knowledge of Communist activities. SUBJECT stated he had been interviewed at Rangeley about one year ago by a government agent (not otherwise identified) and that SUBJECT had "thrown him off the property" as he was a Communist sympathizer, arriving at that conclusion upon the basis of his knowledge and training as a psychiatrist. SUBJECT said he had subsequently reported the matter "to the government", but he would not elaborate further on the details.
SUBJECT was informed that the purpose of the interview was to obtain his testimony regarding knowledge of the Communist movement and to determine his spirit of cooperation in disclosing Communist aliens in the United States. SUBJECT replied that he would cooperate fully, but said his exact words should be recorded, either by tape or record, or by appearance before a public hearing body. The fact that he was about to be asked to identify a specific alien was not made known to SUBJECT until his true feelings concerning cooperation were known. General questions concerning Communism were put to SUBJECT for this purpose, in replies to which SUBJECT stated he had not engaged in Communist activity "in over 20 years", that over six million Germans had been Communist members during his own membership, that he is opposed to Communism as Communism is against the three things that he considers most important in life, namely, "Love, Freedom and Babies", that he was in favor of the execution of the Rosenbergs but would not have wanted to be the executioner, that he hated persons who "hid behind the Fifth Amendment", and that his study of the face of Malenkov revealed that Malenkov to be a psychopath. After a lengthy dissertation on Communism SUBJECT said he was aware he was being tested as to his attitude toward Communism and asked that he now be questioned as to the specific reason for the interview.
SUBJECT was then shown the photos of LIO [deleted] and asked if he knew of the Communistic activity of either. SUBJECT almost instantly replied that he had never met either alien, that he had no reason to believe either alien was a Communist, in fact he believed both aliens were completely innocent and that the suspicion was baseless, but that he had seen FEUCHTWANGER's photo somewhere.
SUBJECT then lost self control. He paced the floor and pounded the table. His face reddened and his speech became at times incoherent. When asked if he had been offended in some way which caused his excitement, SUBJECT said he had been. SUBJECT then went on to say that in effect, he had been insulted in being asked to merely identify a suspected Communist, that I did not realize who he, SUBJECT, was, that I did not understand how minor was the importance of questioning him concerning individual Communists as he wanted it plainly understood that his personal knowledge of Communism extended beyond the "political field" of Communism and went deep into the heart of the philosophy of present day Communism-dictatorship as compared with Marxism. From that point on SUBJECT pounded on the theme that the danger to the United States and the free world did not stem from the actions of mere individual Communists, but because the United States failed to understand and get to the root of the "Communist disease"...
--more in Steamshovel Press #12
Steamshovel Debris: Reich wrote a letter to the Immigration Service as a follow-up to this visit. In it, he asked, "How is it possible that many millions of decent, hard-working people are falling prey to little political horsethieves of the Moscow or any other kind?" He also identified three major dangers to society: power drunkards, neurotic passivity, and the threat from outer space.
Currently available in Steamshovel Press #11:
JFK, LSD and the CIA, Part 3, with rare photographs;
Chicago Conspiracy Researcher Sherman Skolnick Speaks!
Dr. Alan Cantwell on Genetically Engineered AIDS;
An Ugly American in Dallas? Ed Lansdale and the JFK Tramps
BioSphere 2 Shakedown
John Mack's UFO Abductees
Beat Poet Lew Welch Alive?
Jack Nicholson and Wilhelm Reich
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Back issues available.
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Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"