Lectures from the Allen Room & Wertheim Study: Noel Field : The Last Stalinist

Date and Time
November 18, 2014


Event Details

Born in Hungary, Kati Marton has combined a career as a reporter and writer with human rights advocacy.  Since 1980, Marton has published eight books.  Her 2009 book, a Cold War memoir entitled Enemies of the People - My Family’s Journey to America, published by Simon & Schuster, was a National Book Critics Circle finalist, and is soon to be the subject of a major motion picture.  Her latest book, Paris – A Love Story, published in August 2012 by Simon & Schuster, is a memoir with Paris at its heart and like all stories of Paris, love as its theme.  Marton's books have been translated into five languages.  She is on the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Rescue Committee, the New America Foundation, and Central European University.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, P.E.N. International and the Author’s Guild.  She was the winner of a George Foster Peabody award for a documentary on China.  She has also received two honorary doctorates: one from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island in 2000 and another from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York in 2009.   In 2011 she was awarded the Leo Nevas Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association.

A Dangerous Man – the Noel Field Story

We are daily reminded of the danger posed by quiet, alienated men pursuing secret lives in our midst.  In a different era, Noel Field lived such a life.  Field’s hidden faith was Communism, his God, Stalin.  A mysterious and obscure figure in the annals of the Cold War, Field should be as well known as Alger Hiss or Kim Philby.  The human cost of this American’s fanaticism exceeded that of either of those legendary spies.  Field is virtually unknown because in 1949 Stalin’s agents abducted him from his Prague hotel and held him captive for the rest of his life, first in an actual prison, then inside a country that itself was a prison state, Hungary.  Only two Western journalists ever reached Field: my mother and father.  In the chaos and violence of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, my parents breached the Fields’ Budapest hideaway.  Two couples, one American the other Hungarian, faced each other with wary curiosity. All four had been recent inmates of the same prison. “What happened to your little girls?” Herta Field asked my mother, as she led my parents to their comfortable Budapest living room. They were shocked by Field’s assertion that Soviet troops, on a killing spree against Hungarian freedom fighters, were the real revolutionaries.  The Hungarians, according to Field, were counterrevolutionaries.  My parents were stunned that, despite torture and five years of prison, Field remained a true believing Communist.  Nor did he seem contrite that his false testimony caused the death of hundreds of his comrades.  In Field’s eyes, any means was legitimate to reach the goal of the Workers’ State.  Even killing workers. Using Field’s personal correspondence, the secret police files in the Budapest and Moscow archives, the New York Public Library’s vast Cold War collection of periodical and books, and with the help of his surviving family, I will attempt to pierce the mystery at the core of A Dangerous Man:  How did a well born and well connected  American lose faith in his own country and become a hardened Stalinist – even after falling victim to its brutality.