Bittelman, Alexander

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BITTELMAN, ALEXANDER (1890–1982), U.S. Communist leader and journalist. Bittelman was born and grew up in Odessa, Russia. He joined the socialist Bund at an early age, then emigrated to America in 1912 and settled in New York City. Bittelman studied engineering, worked for the People's Relief Committee, and in 1919 became editor of Der Kampf, the organ of the Jewish Communist Federation. In the same year he joined the American Communist Party, soon becoming its "Jewish specialist." He was sent to Moscow in 1922 to obtain funds for establishing the party's Yiddish paper, the Morning Freiheit. From 1923 to 1928 Bittelman worked in the party's national office in Chicago. He traveled to India on a political mission; then edited the Communist upon his return. He devoted himself to writing articles of a historical and ideological nature, several of which were published in 1937 in his Milestones of the History of the Communist Party. A member of the Communist Party National Committee after World War ii, Bittelman also served as general secretary of the Morning Freiheit Association, which he sought to reorganize as a center for Jewish Communist propaganda and culture. In 1943 his 63-page Jewish Unity for Victory was published. Bittelman was indicted under the Smith Act in 1951 for conspiring to overthrow the government and was jailed in 1955 for a three-year term. Released from prison in 1957, he wrote for the Daily Worker until his expulsion from the party for revisionism in 1958. In 1960 he published his personal testament, A Communist Views America's Future. He also wrote Jewish People Face the Post-War World (1945) and To Secure Jewish Rights: The Communist Position (1948).


M. Epstein, Jews and Communism (1959), 398–403; T. Draper, Roots of American Communism (1957), index.

[Edward L. Greenstein]