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The No. 1 Communist in the U.S., the mouthpiece of Moscow's serpentine line and the brain of the party's policies here, is a man named Gerhart Eisler. So, last week, said a man who ought to know: Louis Francis Budenz, the former managing editor of the Daily Worker who forsook Communism for Catholicism (TIME, Oct. 22, 1945). It was Eisler, said Budenz, who gave him directives right from the Kremlin's mouth.

So also said another former Red who should know: Ruth Fischer, a onetime noisy leader of the Communist Party in pre-Nazi Germany's Reichstag. She is Eisler's sister. They hate each other furiously.

Brotherly Love. Gerhart Eisler is a chunky, bright-eyed, 49-year-old German who has been in the U.S. for five years. Last week he and his slender, 35-year-old wife, Brunhilda, were packed and read)' to sail to Germany. Then the State Department suddenly took back its permission for them to leave the U.S. In their almost bare $35-a-month New York City apartment, balding Gerhart Eisler spouted "ridiculous . . . stupid . . . nonsense" at the idea that he was a super-secret agent of Kremlin policy.

Of course he was a Communist, he said, but a German one, who had taken no part in the U.S. party's business. He was just a writer for something called the German-American. He had helped out on a book, The Lesson of Germany. He often used the pen name Hans Berger.

Gerhart Eisler-Berger has the background and the intellectual equipment for the role of The Brain. He and sister Ruth were the children of a Viennese scholar-philosopher. Gerhart was one of the founders of Austria's Communist Party. In Germany, in the early '20s, he and sister Ruth were at the top of opposing Red factions—she the flamboyant leader of the violent revolutionaries, he the quiet theoretician of the "reconcilers."*

In the Spotlight. It was Gerhart (he says) who got sister Ruth tossed out of the party in 1925 (she now edits an anti-Stalinist newspaper, which the Communists call "a gutter sheet"). Gerhart went on to Moscow, presumably as a reliable Comintern cog. From then on his role was that of many a Red agent—tours of duty in the Far East, in Spain with the Loyalists, back to Germany, then to France when Hitler rose to power. Eisler and his wife got out of France in 1941 on a U.S. transit visa, stayed in New York City when regulations blocked their intended journey to Mexico.

Had Louis Budenz put the spotlight on the real Brain of U.S. Communism? Those who know Communists best thought that if Gerhart Eisler was not the top man he was surely one of the top man's top men. They also thought it was smart to keep him in the U.S.—a well-trained German Communist could be much more troublesome to the U.S. in Germany than he could, under the spotlight, in the U.S. itself.

Said Eisler: "Ah, believe me, it is not a pleasure to be a Communist in this country. . . . And now they won't let me go back where I came from."

* Their brother is Hanns Eisler, left-wing Hollywood cinema composer. No stranger to Moscow he wrote a battle song, Komintern, many others hailed by the Daily Worker as Marxist music.