Peters, J. (1894-?)

Alexander Goldberger

J. Peters

One of the cover names used by a U.S. Communist party functionary whose real name was Alexander (Sandor) Goldberger, also known as Goldfarb. In files of the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA) and the Comintern, he appears as “Joseph Peters,” “Peter,” “Peters,” “JP,” “Steve” (after about 1937) and “Storm.” He is also known to have used the names of Alexander Stevens, Isidor Boorstein and Steve Miller.

Born in 1894 in Cop (in modern-day Ukraine, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), Peters finished gymnasium (high school) and entered a university, but dropped out for lack of funds and joined the army in 1914. He joined the revolutionary movement in 1918 and, after it briefly seized power in Hungary in 1921, continued revolutionary work in Czechoslovakia. In 1924, he immigrated to the United States and soon became a functionary in the Hungarian bureau of the U.S. Communist Party, where he was promoted to secretary in 1927.

In late 1929, Peters became head of the Language Department of District 2 (New York) of the Communist Party, and in March 1930, organizational secretary of the same district. In the same year, he was appointed to the Central Organizational Department of the Party. In late 1931, Peters was sent to the Comintern in Moscow to serve as an intern (“practicant”) in its Anglo-American Secretariat. He later became an intern in the Organizational Department, where, according to Comintern and Communist Party records, he was trained in “cadre work”. Upon his return from Moscow in early 1933, the Party assigned him to do such work in the United States. His contribution included drafting a “Manual on Organization.” In CP USA files from 1933 to 1935, we see Peters in charge of Party organizational matters: “training of cadres,” settling personnel issues, “safeguarding” the Party and its forums, traveling to Districts, attending numerous Party meetings and forums of its “mass organizations” – and in continuous correspondence with Districts, Party functionaries and members.

According to J. Peters’s Comintern file, “beginning in late 1935 to 1936, J. Peter worked as a secretary on organizational matters of the Communist Party District organization of the State of New York”, and “in late 1936, he began working at the Organizational Department of the Party Central Committee, where he was given assignments of a special type.” At the same time, he took part in the public work of the Party – teaching Party-building at Party schools, visiting district organizations, taking part in the Central Committee’s plenums and Party congresses, etc. Another reference identifies Peters’ occupation from 1936 to 1938 as “worker in the conspiratorial [from the Russian word “konspiratsija,” meaning operations under security rules] apparatus attached to the CC CP USA.” According to a report written in Moscow in January 1939, Peters’ work included organizing “the system of communications” between the Party Central Committee and Party organizations in the states, and “fairly satisfactory safeguarding of vital documents of the Central Committee.” Under Peters, this apparatus “also had experience with radio communications, simple reproducing machines, electrical instruments for tracing enemies” – and “organized special income for this work.” In that capacity, “Peters became generally known to be doing this work” among Party members until he was relieved of his position in June 1938. According to a Moscow biographical reference dated October 1947, “from 1939 to 1940, he has worked exclusively on special assignments.”  That same month, Peters was arrested by U.S. immigration authorities (under the name of Steve Miller) and later deported to Hungary. 1

The story of J. Peters and his relationship with Soviet intelligence will be dealt with in greater detail and documented at a later date. Watch for alerts on new postings.

  1. 515-1-4127, p. 101; “John Peters” file, 495-261-5584, pp. 1 (with reverse), 26, 24; 495-14-407, pp.1-6, RGASPI.