MIA : Early American Marxism : Document Download Page: Russian Soviet Government Bureau


The Russian Soviet Government Bureau was an agency of the Soviet government, established in the United States to serve as a procurement agency and clearing house for news and press releases from the Russian Republic. The bureau was headed by Ludwig C.A.K. Martens, who enterred the United States a German subject before being named Soviet representative in America early in 1919.

On June 12, 1919, the “New York Joint Legislative Committee Investigating Seditiious Activities,” chaired by Sen. Clayton R. Lusk — known to history as the “Lusk Committee” — obtained a search warrant directed against the Manhattan office of the Russian Soviet Government Bureau, located at 110 W 40th Street. The raid was conducted that same day by the Committee in association with the New York state constabulary, and a large number of documents were removed from the building to the headquarters of the Lusk Committee,

In the course of its public hearings in the fall of 1919, the Lusk Committee subpoenaed Ludwig Martens to testify before it. Martens, under claim of diplomatic immunity, refused to heed the subpoena and was arrested and taken to New York City Hall on Nov. 14, 1919, where he was released upon posting of $1,000 bond. He subsequently appeared before the Committee, testifying that he had received some $90,000 from Soviet Russia to fund the operations of the Russian Soviet Government Bureau, but declining to name names as to the identity of those who provided this money. Martes was cited for contempt by the Chairman of the Committee but left the jurisdiction before this proceeding against him was completed. Martens’ secretary, Santeri Nuorteva, was similarly called before the Committee and declined to answer, was likewise cited for contempt and left the jurisdiction. Michael Mislig, an associate of Martens and Nuorteva and Secretary of the Russian Federation was similarly called before the Lusk Committee and cited for contempt for refusing to answer its questions. He, too, fled the jurisdiction of the Committee.

(fn. Stevenson (ed.), Lusk Committee Report, v. 1, pp. 27-28.)