School of Darkness


Bella Dodd’s story is a human document of immense importance to Americans today. Here are the inner workings of the Communist Party in this country as seen from the secret counsels and strategy meetings of the National committee, to which she belonged for a crucial span of years.

Hers is a story familiar to many a young American idealist who saw in Communism a new gospel and who worked sacrificially in the cause until the inevitable bitter day when the cause betrayed him. For Bella that day came almost too late for her own salvation.

As a brilliant young college instructor, and one with legal training, Bella Dodd attracted the attention of top Communists by her unremitting fight to improve the pay and working conditions of New York City’s teachers. Her conversion to Communism was a slow infiltration of the mind by an appeal to love of humanity, a vision of a better society and wider social justice. She rose in Party ranks to National Committee membership. This report of her activities and those of the high-up Party leaders covers the historic period during World War II of the Democratic Front, the Rapp-Coudert investigation of Communist teachers, the propaganda drive in behalf of Loyalist Spain, the work of the Women’s Trade Union for Peace, and the goings-on in the famous ‘Ninth Floor’ of Communist headquarters.

She recreates the atmosphere of suspicion and conspiracy which was part of the air she breathed in those days. She reports tense sessions in which friends turned their backs on friends and former leaders found themselves demoted overnight as the “Party line” from Moscow changed course. Despite all this, Bella Dodd finds reaffirmation of her faith: “I have learned from bitter experience that you cannot serve man unless you first serve God in sincerity and truth.”

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