Home February 2021 Orange County’s Jewish History- Mother Housewife Teacher Spy

Orange County’s Jewish History- Mother Housewife Teacher Spy

Marion Miller Neuberger (née Freed), born in 1920 in NYC and raised in Florida, had a typical mid 20th century Jewish upbringing. An only child, she was doted on by her parents, Harry and Ida, attended college, became a teacher, married and had kids. “I was what I considered a typical housewife with two little children,” she said in a 1982 interview in what was then Leisure World (now Laguna Woods). But all that changed in 1950, when she received an invitation to attend a meeting of the “Los Angeles Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born.” Her husband Paul, who had done some counterintelligence work for the United States during WWII, was fairly certain the organization was a communist front. The couple contacted the FBI, who agreed with Paul’s assessment and asked if Marion would go to the meeting and report back to them. She agreed, assuming it was “one and done.” But they asked her to keep attending, which she did, for close to five years. She worked in the organization’s office, where she would smuggle out letters and other items, go to a phone booth, give them to an FBI agent to be photocopied, and then return them. “It was just like in the movies,” she laughed. But after she and Paul were asked to join the Communist Party and accepted, things became more serious. The tension eventually caught up with Marion and she took a leave of absence, after which, while five months pregnant with her third child, she testified in D.C. One issue that was difficult for Marion was how many Jews were involved in the American Communist movement. When testifying again in 1959, she was specifically asked if she and Paul were “members of the Jewish faith,” to which she replied yes. House Committee member D. L. Jackson (R-CA) then went on to state, “This is a delicate area, and I know I shall be accused … of bringing racism into this hearing, but I think that the selfless service rendered by the Millers has strengthened the [reputation] of millions of loyal American Jews.” Asked years later if she would do it again, she replied “I feel I did what was right at the time. Under the exact circumstances, I suppose I would.” 

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