To the Editor:
I would like to comment on Stephen Schwartz’s review of Dorothy Gallagher’s book, All the Right Enemies: The Life and Murder of Carlo Tresca [Books in Review, November 1988]. As an old comrade of Tresca’s, I have studied the case of his unsolved murder for more than forty years, in both Italy and the United States. While there has always been some fear—and suspicion—that the GPU was involved in the murder, I have always thought it clear that Tresca was murdered in New York by henchmen of the Italian fascists. After the murder, Carlo Tresca’s companion, Margaret de Silver, initiated an investigation by John Nicholas Beffel, one of Tresca’s political comrades, who found that the fascists were responsible. This was also the conclusion reached by another comrade, Ezio Taddei, who wrote a pamphlet about the murder.
Now, however, your reviewer, Stephen Schwartz, asserts that there may have been collaboration between the Communists and the Mafia. He writes that “there is sufficient evidence to believe that the actual killer was Carmine (Lilo) Galante” and that “two of the most notorious and extreme Stalinists in the history of the American union movement, the maritime leader Frederick N. (‘Blackie’) Myers and the warehouse organizer Louis Goldblatt, were suspiciously close to Galante on the night of the murder” (emphasis added).
But what exactly does Mr. Schwartz mean by “suspiciously close”? He has an obligation to spell it out more clearly and not leave us with a mere suspicion.
Stephen Schwartz writes:
Records of the two private investigations of the Carlo Tresca murder by John Beffel and Ezio Taddei are not available to me, so I cannot judge them. But the pamphlet, Who Killed Carlo Tresca?, published in 1945 by the Tresca Memorial Committee, left open the probability of Soviet involvement in the murder, and pointed to the possible implication of Enea Sormenti a.k.a. Vittorio Vidali, a key Communist functionary and strong-arm man.
In her book on the Tresca case, Dorothy Gallagher notes the “remarkable coincidence” that on the night of Tresca’s murder, the Stalinist union leaders Blackie Myers and Louis Goldblatt were present in the same place as Carmen Galante—namely, the parole office to which Galante, a Mafia figure, had to report regularly. Both Myers and Goldblatt were affiliated with unions—the National Maritime Union and the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, respectively—that employed extensive violence against their political adversaries, including supporters of anarcho-syndicalism like Tresca. Conceivably, they might also have been connected with the notorious Vidali.
According to Miss Gallagher’s book, the Mafiosi in the Tresca case also had other associations with the Stalinists, mainly through political connections involved with the Communist-dominated American Labor party.
What is now necessary in my opinion is for Dorothy Gallagher to disclose more fully the documentary sources of her information about the presence of Myers and Goldblatt in the parole office on the night of the Tresca murder and for this information to be thoroughly investigated and evaluated.