Email | Share | Print

Carl Marzani


Marzani, Carl. (Marzani, Carl Aldo), b. March 4, 1912, Rome, Italy, Italian American, Militia, graduated from Williams College, Exter College, Oxford, started his graduate work at Oxford, Single, Student, Domicile Oxford College and Scranton, Pennsylvania, England, 24 yrs. old, Sailed October 1936 aboard the American Banker, Served with the Durriti Column on the Aragon Front, Returned to Oxford in 1937 and subsequently joined the CP, WWII: recruited into the OSS and in 1942 moved to the State Department. d. December 11, 1994, Marzani wrote a semi-autobiographical novel The Survivor and later a five volume memoir titled The Education of a Reluctant Radical, volume 3 Spain, Munich and Dying Empires, deals with his service in Spain.


Sources: CPC, Good Fight C, Italian, AICVAS; Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, Carl Aldo Marzani Papers TAM.154 & Carl Marzani Photographs Photos 078; (obituary) Robert Colodny, “Carl Marzani,”  The Volunteer, Volume 17, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 5, 7;  Ross Papers - Obituary NY Times? Clipping no date.; Carl Marzani, The Education of a Reluctant Radical, volume 3 Spain, Munich and Dying Empires Ancestry. 


Carl Aldo Marzani was an American leftwing political activist and publisher. He was successively a Communist Party organizer, volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War, United States federal intelligence official, documentary filmmaker, author, and publisher. During World War II he served in the federal intelligence agency, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and later the U.S. Department of State. He picked the targets for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, which took place on April 18, 1942. Marzani served nearly three years in prison for having concealed his Communist Party membership while in the OSS.

Marzani was born in Rome, Italy. The family emigrated to the United States in 1924 and settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Carl entered the first grade at the age of twelve, not knowing English. He graduated from High School in 1931 with a scholarship to Williams College. There, Marzani became a Socialist and joined the League for Industrial Democracy. He began writing and became the editor of the school's literary magazine. In 1935 he got married to his first wife, Edith Eisner, an actress whose stage name was Edith Emerson. The same year, he graduated summa cum laude from Williams College with a BA in English. Marzani thereupon moved to New York. In 1936 he received a Moody fellowship to Oxford University.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out Marzani traveled to Spain to volunteer for the Republican army. He commanded troops the Durruti Column, a unit of the anarchist wing of the Republican forces, during late 1936 and early 1937. He soon resumed university studies and in June 1938 Marzani received a BA in Modern Greats, Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford. The former anarchist supporter underwent a radical change in his ideology, joining the British Communist Party and serving as its treasurer of the South Midlands district. In the summer of 1938 Marzani and his second wife travelled around the world, visiting India, Indochina, China, Japan, and Europe, using Communist Party contacts to meet Nehru and others.

After their world tour, the Marzanis returned to the United States and went on relief, the New Deal term for government assistance and welfare. Eventually they got government paid jobs with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) while at the same time joining the CPUSA under false identities. Marzani joined the CPUSA 23 August 1939, on the day the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed. As a WPA instructor at New York University, as served as district Organizer for the Communist Party on the Lower East Side of New York. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in mid 1941, Marzani became director of a popular front anti-fascist organization, and resigned from the Communist party in August, 1941.

In early 1942 after the United States became involved in World War II, Marzani joined the OSS, the predecssor organization of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Marzani worked under Colonel William J. Donovan from 1942-1945 in the Analysis Branch. While at the OSS Marzani worked closely with a group of Soviet agents managed by Eugene Dennis, who later became CPUSA General Secretary. In 1945 Marzani transferred to the Department of State, where he worked as the Deputy Chief of the Presentation Division of the Office of Intelligence. Marzani handled the preparation of top secret reports.

In 1946 Marzani founded and directed Union Films, a film documentary company that had contracts with United Electrical and other unions to do documentaries. One film entitled Deadline for Action, was released in September 1946, five weeks before Marzani resigned from the State Department. The film blamed the United States for the Cold War.

In January 1947 Marzani was indicted for defrauding the government by receiving government pay while concealing CPUSA membership. He was convicted on 22 June 1947, but nine counts were overturned on appeal, while the Supreme Court split 4-4 on a rare rehearing of the last two charges. Marzani served all but four months of a thirty-six month sentence.

In prison, Marzani began work on a book blaming President Harry S. Truman for starting the Cold War. Caught attempting to smuggle a manuscript out of prison in 1950, he was placed in solitary confinement for seven months. The book was published in 1952 as We Can Be Friends: The Origins of the Cold War.

Union Films went out of business during his stay in prison. After his release in 1951, Marzani edited UE Steward for the United Electrical Workers until 1954. The same year he joined Cameron Associates and partnered with Angus Cameron to run Liberty Book Club. Liberty Book Club eventually became Marzani & Munsell which operated the Library-Prometheus Book Club. In this phase of his career Marzani was a contact for the Soviet secret police agency, the KGB, and the KGB subsidized his publishing house in the 1960s, according to allegations made in 1994 by Oleg Kalugin, a retired KGB officer.

Marzani was one of the interviewees in Vivian Gornick's 1977 book, The romance of American communism. Like the other interviewees, Marzani was concealed by a pseudonym; his was "Eric Lanzetti".

- Biography courtesy of Wikipedia.

ALB Archival Materials

Search the Tamiment Archives

Full Database Record

Last Name Marzani
First/Middle Name Carl
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes CARL A MARZANI 04 Mar 1912 11 Dec 1994 (V) 10011 (New York, New York, NY) New York