Marzani, Carl.

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Carl Marzani (1912-1994), Italian-American immigrant radical, was briefly a Communist Party, USA organizer on New York City's Lower East Side, served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and briefly thereafter in the State Department, was a political documentary filmmaker, the author of six books and numerous articles, and as an editor and publisher, first translated published portions of the work of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Marzani served almost three years in prison, from 1947-1950, for defrauding the United States by concealing his prewar Party membership during the period of his government employment. He lived and worked in New York City most of his life.

Carl Marzani was born in Rome, Italy, on March 4, 1912. Carl's father, Gabriel, was a Socialist, and the family emigrated to the United States in 1924, settling in Scranton Pennsylvania. In America, Carl entered the first grade at the age of twelve. As his English improved, he became an outstanding student, and in 1931, Carl graduated from Scranton High School and received a scholarship to Williams College.

Once in college, Carl became an avowed Socialist. He joined the League for Industrial Democracy, and wrote stories that reflected his beliefs for the school's literary magazine: Sketch, of which he became editor of in his sophomore year. While still in college, Carl met the woman who would later become his first wife, actress Edith Eisner, whose stage name was Edith Emerson. Marzani graduated summa cum laude from Williams College in 1935, with a BA in English. After graduating, Carl went to New York to look for work, which was scarce due to the depression. In the summer of 1936, he received word from Williams College that he had been awarded a Moody fellowship to Oxford University.

At this point in his life, Carl considered himself a "mild radical". He knew little about Communism and had read nothing on Marxism. However, this changed on the way to England to attend Oxford in late August of 1936, when he read Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution, which had a profound effect on him. In 1936, the Spanish Civil War broke out, and it became known that Mussolini was backing Franco by sending planes and troops. In late 1936 through early 1937, Carl served as a member of the Durruti Column, the leading anarchist troops in Spain. He then returned to Oxford to complete his studies, and married Edith in Oxford on March 12th 1937. In June 1938, Carl received a BA in Modern Greats; Philosphy, Politics and Economics. While Carl was in Spain, Edith became a Communist. Influenced by Edith, Marzani joined the British Communist Party, and became treasurer of the South Midlands district. In the summer of 1938, Carl and Edith left Oxford with $500 and hitch-hiked around the world, visiting India, Indochina, China, Japan, and Europe, and used their Communist contacts to meet Nehru and other important radicals.

In May of 1939, the Marzanis returned to America, where they moved to New York's Lower East Side. Having difficulties making ends meet, they were on relief, and later got jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Carl and Edith also both joined the Communist Party, USA, going under the names Tony Whales and Edith Charles. Marzani's WPA job was to work on income studies at New York University. From WPA, Marzani assumed an Assistant Instructor position, and was then promoted to Instructor. During this time, Carl was the disstrict Organizer for the Communist Party on the Lower East Side. After the Soviet Union was invaded, the Communist Party set up a popular front anti-fascist organization, and wanted Marzani to become its director. Marzani agreed, but he resigned from the Communist party in August, 1941, because he felt he could not function in both capacities.

In early 1942 Carl resigned from his job at NYU and went to Washington to help the war effort. From 1942-1945 Marzani worked under Colonel William J. Donovan for the Office of Strategic Services in the Analysis Branch. On August 23, 1943, Marzani was drafted. He served two weeks in the military's basic training program in Virginia, and was then sent back to the OSS. Shortly after, his first child Judith Enrica (Ricky) was born. In 1945, he moved to the Department of State, where he worked as the Deputy Chief of the Presentation Division of the Office of Intelligence. Marzani's most significant work was the preparation of top-secret reports for military leaders, taking complex statistics, and communicating the results in all media including films. He also picked the targets for the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, which took place on April 18, 1942.

In 1946 Marzani decided to leave government service, and founded and directed Union Films, a film documentary company that had contracts with United Electrical and other unions to do documentary films for them. The most important film Deadline for Action, a 40 minute documentary made for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE-CIO), placed major responsibility for the Cold War on the United States, linking this to the growing attacks on labor unions. The documentary was released in September 1946, five weeks before Marzani resigned from the State Department.

Despite Marzani's honorable service in the OSS, his past membership in the Communist Party and Deadline led to an eleven-count indictment in January, 1947 on charges of fraud -- receiving his government pay while concealing pre-war membership in the Communist Party. At this time, Edith found out that she was pregnant with their second child. On June 22, 1947, Carl Marzani was convicted in a Federal Court in Washington. The Appeals Court threw out nine counts; the Supreme Court (granting a rare rehearing) split 4-4 on the last two. Marzani served thirty-two months of a thirty-six month sentence.

In prison, Marzani studied and made notes for a book, We Can Be Friends: The Origins of the Cold War (1952), showing how Truman started the Cold War. In September of 1947, Edith gave birth to their second child, Anthony (Tony) Hugh. In 1950, Marzani tried to smuggle out a manuscript that he was working on, but was caught, and placed in solitary confinement for seven months. During his stay in prison, Carl and Edith wrote extensively to each other. Edith ran Union Films, raised their two small children, supported Carl's mother, and battled with multiple sclerosis. Union Films folded in 1949, after being harassed by New York City with zoning violations and other restrictions.

After his release from prison in 1951, Marzani worked for the United Electrical Workers, as the Editor for UE Steward, a leadership magazine, until 1954. At this time he joined Cameron Associates, headed by Angus Cameron, a radical editor. Together they ran the Liberty Book Club (established 1948). One of the first books released was L abor's Untold Story, a history of the U.S. labor movement, published for the UE and reflective of its views. After Cameron left, the venture became Marzani & Munsell which operated the Library-Prometheus Book Club. Notable Cameron Associates titles included: False Witness, The Open Marxism of Antonio Gramsci, and Marzani's autobiographical novel, T he Survivor .

In 1960 Carl and his first wife, Edith separated in 1961, and divorced in 1966. In 1966, he married Charlotte Pomerantz, a children's book writer. They had two children together. A daughter, Gabrielle Rose was born December 12, 1967, and a son, Daniel Avram, was born February 19, 1969. Also in 1966, Carl's publishing company, Marzani & Munsell, was destroyed in a fire. Carl then went on to purchase, renovate and rent four brownstones in Chelsea, Manhattan( a portion of one of these became his home). Marzani also wrote The Promise of Eurocommunism (1981), and a four volume autobiography, The Education of a Reluctant Radical (1992-1994).

In the late 1980s Carl's health declined. He died on December 11, 1994.


Musser, Charles. "Carl Marzani and Union Films Making Left-Wing Documentaries during the Cold War, 1946-1953." The Moving Image vol. 9, no. 1 (2009): 104-160.


1912: Born: Rome, Italy March 4th. 1924: Immigrated to the United States on Labor Day. 1935: Graduated from Williams College, BA in English, summa cum laude. 1936: Received Moody Fellowship to Oxford University from Williams College. 1936: Served with Anarchist Durruti Column in Spanish Civil War. 1937: Attended Exeter College, Oxford University 1937, 1938, and enrolled in School of Modern Greats (Philosphy, Politics, Economics) BA in Modern Greats, 1938 1937: Married Edith Eisner, an actress known as Edith Emerson on March 12th. 1937: Marzani joins the Communist Party of Great Britain on August 12th. 1939: Hitch-hiked around the world with Edith Marzani. 1939: Section Organizer, Lower East Side, Communist Party, USA. 1939-1942: Instructor in Economics, New York University. 1942-1945: U.S. Office of Strategic Services. Deputy Division Chief, Presentation Division. Supervision of Intelligence Reports, Studies and Analysis. 1944: First child, Judith Enrica (Ricky) is born on 1/24. 1945-1946: U.S. Department of State: Deputy Division Chief, Office of Intelligence.. 1946-1948: Owner of Union Films. Film maker, writer, director, producer of documentaries. Wrote and directed Deadline for Action for the UE-CIO. 1947: Indicted in January on charges of defrauding U.S. Government, by concealing membership in Communist Party. 1947: Anthony (Tony) Hugh Marzani is born in September. 1947-1950: Inmate, various Federal prisons. 1949: Union Films folds. 1950-54: Editor UE Steward for United Electrical Workers, a monthly publication directed to 16,000 shop stewards. 1954-67: Co-Director with Angus Cameron of Liberty Book Club and a publishing firm. Became President of Marzani and Munsell Publishers after Cameron went to Knopf as senior editor. 1966: Edith and Carl divorce. 1966: Carl marries Charlotte Pomerantz, a children's book writer on November 12th. 1966: Fire destroys the firm of Marzani & Munsell. 1967-1983: Carl renovated and operated four brownstones in Chelsea, Manhattan. 1967-1985: Carl and Charlotte have 2 children together: Gabrielle Rose, and Daniel Avram. Two grandchildren: Jennifer Spector and Max Cutler (both children of Ricki Marzani). Early 1980s: Lecture tour for The Promise of Eurocommunism. 1994: Publishes Memoirs. 1994: Died on December 12th.

Works by Carl Marzani


1994: The Education of a Reluctant Radical Book 1 -- Roman Childhood Book 2 -- Growing Up American Book 3 -- Spain, Munich, and Dying Empires Book 4 -- From Pentagon to Penitentiary 1981: The Promise of Eurocommunism 1969: The Wounded Earth: An Environmental Survey 1960: Dollars & Sense of Disarmament, with V. Perlo 1958: The Survivor, a novel: 1952: We Can be Friends--Origins of the Cold War


1990: On Interring Communism and Exalting Capitalism 1971: The Threat of American Neo-Fascism 1968: The Unspeakable War 1962: The Shelter Hoax & Foreign Policy, editor 1961: Cuba vs. The CIA, with Robert Light


1959: The Open Marxism of Antonio Gramsci 1959: Inside the Khrushchev Era by Giuseppe Boffa


1949: "Our Union" (UE) 1948: "Dollar Patriots" 1947: "The Great Swindle" 1946: "Deadline for Action" 1945: "Air Force Report" 1944: "War Department Report"

From the guide to the Carl Aldo Marzani Papers, Bulk, 1935-1975, [1890]-1994, (Bulk 1935-1975), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Herbert Aptheker Papers, 1842-1999, (bulk 1934-1994) Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Guide to the John Gerassi Papers, 1979-1983, 2000s Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn John Gerassi Oral History Collection, 1980 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Carl Marzani Papers, 1970-1974 University of Minnesota Libraries. Immigration History Research Center [ihrc]
Carl Marzani Papers, 1970-1974 University of Minnesota Libraries. Immigration History Research Center [ihrc]
referencedIn Albert Prago Audio Collection, 1981-1982 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Papers, 1925-1997 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Additional papers of Eve Merriam, ca.1930-1992 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Carl Aldo Marzani Papers, Bulk, 1935-1975, [1890]-1994, (Bulk 1935-1975) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aptheker, Herbert, 1915-2003 person
associatedWith Baldwin, Calvin Benham, 1902-1975 person
associatedWith Belfrage, Cedric, 1904-1990 person
associatedWith Bessie, Alvah Cecil, 1904-1985 person
associatedWith Biberman, H. J. (Herbert) person
associatedWith Bridges, Harry, 1901- person
associatedWith Burgum, Edwin Berry, b. 1894 person
associatedWith Cameron and Kahn. corporateBody
associatedWith Cameron, Angus (Donald Angus) person
associatedWith Cameron Associates. corporateBody
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963 person
associatedWith Dunham, Barrows, 1905- person
correspondedWith Eddy, George A. person
associatedWith Fast, Howard, 1914-2003 person
associatedWith France, Royal W. person
associatedWith Gerassi, John. person
associatedWith Heym, Stefan, 1913-2001 person
associatedWith Kahn, Albert Eugene, 1912-1979 person
associatedWith Lardner, Ring, 1915-2000 person
associatedWith Lessing, Doris May, 1919- person
associatedWith Liberty Book Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976 person
associatedWith Maltz, Albert, 1908-1985 person
associatedWith Marzani & Munsell, Publishers (New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith McWilliams, Carey, 1905-1980 person
associatedWith Merriam, Eve, 1916-1992 person
associatedWith Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967 person
associatedWith Nelson, Steve, 1903- person
associatedWith Nelson, Truman John, 1912- person
associatedWith Orwell, George, 1903-1950 person
associatedWith Perlo, Victor person
associatedWith Prago, Albert person
associatedWith Prometheus Book Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Edwin Burritt, 1854-1906 person
associatedWith Snow, Edgar, 1905-1972 person
associatedWith Starobin, Joseph R. (Joseph Robert), 1913-1976 person
associatedWith Strong, Anna Louise, 1885-1970 person
associatedWith Ward, Henry Frederick, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Winter, Ella, 1898-1980 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975


Birth 1912-03-04

Death 1994-12-11



Ark ID: w6z15m8s

SNAC ID: 66156221