Education: The Struik Case

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Except for a scattering of top-level mathematicians across the nation, and the students in his classes at M.I.T., few Americans had ever heard of Dirk J. Struik when his name first appeared in the news two years ago. He was a mousy-looking mathematician who had come to the U.S. from Holland in 1926, the author of half a dozen learned tomes, and a Marxist lecturer of note in Mexico, The Netherlands and the U.S.S.R. But by last week M.I.T.'s Professor Dirk Struik (pronounced strouk), was considerably better known in his adopted land. He was the center of a Boston dust-up that involved both scholars and churchmen.

Secret Meetings. The wind began to blow when Struik's name came up during the Manhattan trial of the eleven top U.S. Communists. According to FBI Undercover Agent Herbert A. Philbrick—the prosecution's surprise witness at the trial—inconspicuous Professor Struik was an active and dedicated Communist. Struik had made no secret of the fact that he was a trustee of Manhattan's Jefferson School of Social Science and of Boston's Samuel Adams School, and a member of the Council of American-Soviet Friendship. Witness Philbrick testified that Mathematician Struik had also given lectures at secret Communist cell meetings in Cambridge. After that testimony, Struik's name began to make headlines.

To newsmen in Boston he flatly denied party membership: "I try to be a Marxist in the broadest sense." But when he was later summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Struik stood on his constitutional privileges against selfincrimination, and refused to say whether or not he was a member of the Communist Party.

Three months ago, a grand jury of Middlesex County indicted him under Massachusetts law for conspiring to overthrow both the state and federal governments. Struik sympathizers started rushing to his defense.

Public Dinner. Harvard Geologist Kirtley Mather sent out 30 letters to Protestant clergymen all over the state, suggesting that Struik be invited to attend community gatherings. Other sympathizers organized an Emergency Defense Committee. When the American Legion gave a testimonial dinner to Philbrick last month and Governor Dever proclaimed a "Philbrick Day," the Struik Defense Committee trumpeted its reply: the occasion, it said, was really "Informer's Day." Two days later, the Universalist Church of Annisquam, Mass, dismissed the Rev. George Abbe for being one of the committee's sponsors. The Greater Boston Universalist Ministers' Association promptly protested, and the sympathizers again took heart.

By this week the Struik Defense Committee had a nationwide fund-raising campaign going. Marxist Struik would apparently have plenty of support when he finally comes to trial early next year.