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Bella Dodd & Communism in America

Tesa Becica

Review of The Devil and Bella Dodd: One Woman's Struggle against Communism and her Redemption; Mary A. Nicholas and Paul Kengor, (Tan Books, 2022) 422 pp.
bella dodd
This was not an easy read for me for several reasons:

First, the main subject matter is grave and scary. I was not only introduced to the beginnings of the machinations conducted by the communists, but also to their fruits, which are abundantly being reaped in our present time.

Second, this biography does not read like a novel, but rather is a history of modern Communism and Socialism in the United States. There are still aspects of Bella’s life that are private and open to speculation, such as the question of if she had a son or not. However, the facts of how Communism took root are here in this well-documented book; there are almost eight pages of bibliographical references and 1,080 footnotes.

I am amazed that educated and proclaimedly compassionate persons, like Bella Dodd, can swallow the brutal behavior called for by Stalin who openly boasts: “The concept of dictatorship means nothing more nor less than unrestricted power absolutely unimpeded by laws or regulations ... based on force and not on law.” (1) Sadly, most people are ignorant of history, are not taught to think critically, and are too lazy to research things for themselves.

A difficult & tumultuous youth

Miss Dodd was born on a farm in 1904 in the small village of Picerno, Italy, to a widowed mother with nine children, who remarried Rocco Visono, a stonemason. Her tenth child, Maria Assunta Isabella “Bella,” was born in Italy after her father relocated to New York with the boys. Her mother, who joined him after Bella’s birth, left Bella in Italy with foster parents until 1909, when she finally returned to bring her 5-year-old daughter to New York to join the rest of the family.

bella dodd hoome

A difficult transition: from the small Catholic village of Picerno Italy to the harsh ‘modern’ New York City

Her family was nominally Catholic, gradually falling away from Mass attendance, wanting to be “American.” The few concessions to the faith (some pictures, votive candles to Our Lady) were considered symbols of their Italian heritage. She had been devout when in Italy, so this left a void. Ironically, the school principal read from the Bible every morning which impressed Bella deeply; she remembers the indignation of some of the teachers and indifference of the pupils, which at the time bothered her.

She was a born leader and brilliant, and was placed two years ahead of her age group in school. One day, however, on her route home from school, her left foot got caught in the trolley track, where it got wedged and then crushed, necessitating an amputation of part of her leg. It took nearly a year for her to recover, and this loss caused her a great trauma.

During her recuperation at home, her mother instilled in her the belief that she could accomplish whatever she aspired. She entered high school in the Bronx wielding her crutches in 1917, a significant year (Fatima revelations and the Bolshevik Revolution). The school was an ideological minefield of communist propaganda. The notions of fighting for social justice for the poor and downtrodden appealed strongly to the idealistic young Bella, who was a popular class leader and at the top of her class.

With the scholarship money she won, Bella attended Hunter College, one of the largest all-women institutions at that time. There she met Sarah Parks, an English communist professor who introduced her to the literature on revolution. Later, Bella would state, “Sarah Parks did to me what communists do to young people throughout the world. They make them unhappy, and dissatisfied, and ashamed of their own country.”

bella dodd youth

Young Bella Dodd, a passionate speaker for her communist ideals

By her second year at Hunter, Bella was a committed believer in science, evolution and intellectual achievement. She was also now anti-religious and touted herself as a politician with a hunger for power. She later mused that her initial motivation for joining the Communist Party was because of the exhilarating power she experienced at this time, along with the thought of doing good for others.

Graduate studies were undertaken at Columbia University, another hotbed of progressivist ideology with many educators like John Dewey spouting socialist ideas.

Bella, now a master organizer, taught political science at Hunter for 12 years, being described as the most popular professor at Hunter College.

She went on to study economics at Columbia and law in New York University Law. Her mentor, Sarah Parks, committed suicide during this period, which pained Bella greatly (only later did she realize the emptiness of an intelligence without faith in God and without moral standards).

Her trip to Europe in 1930 exposed her to Fascism at first hand, and it repelled her. Communism seemed much purer and more turned to the underprivileged. On her return ship journey, she met a group who induced her to join the Teachers Union, which also led to her involvement with trade unions.

While abroad she also met a Georgian engineer, John F. Dodd, who was even more anti-clerical than she. Their civil marriage lasted only a few short years. The Party had deterred her from having children, and she contemplated adoption after her divorce, which was not frowned upon by the Party. A study published in 1968 revealed that in Russia it was “not unusual” to have up to 15 divorces; by 1920, abortion was fully legal and free; and by 1934, women were having three abortions for every life birth.

Bella officially joined the Communist Party in 1935, but did not receive a Party card until later, a stratagem to protect members who could thus lie about party affiliation by claiming they did not carry a card. In 1943 she became an open member of the Party.

communist party

She officially joined the Party in 1935, & specialized in organizing teacher unions & strikes

The book details numerous organizations and people she met who influenced her, including a member of the socialist Fabian movement, Horace Mann, “father” of the American public education system.

Another group she met was composed of followers of the Frankfurt School, which already in 1934 advocated the “critical theory.” I found it interesting that so many of our buzzwords and seemingly new ideas are rooted on Marxism/Communism. In addition to the intellectual influence, “queer theory” and “gender theory,” as well as feminism, were being promoted around those cirles.

One of Bella’s strategies was to recruit and place people in key organizations and positions to infiltrate and influence them so that those agents eventually would control them. Front organizations were key elements of deception to gain control of groups. Bella helped join and organize many of them, which were tied into the Russian-global conspiracy.

Bella was the Communist Party’s chief organizer of public-school teachers via the Teachers Unions. As a faithful party member, she was not adverse to lies and deceit. Carefully chosen language, including outright and subtle lies, false names, perjury, disinformation, deceit, and words of violence are the lifeblood of communists.

The Communist Manifesto excoriates home education, calling it exploitation, and touts public education as essential for all as key to their objective of changing the world. Bella assisted at conventions targeting teachers and educational organizations, especially the teacher unions. In a short number of years, in one state alone, Bella and the Party had about 10% of all union members under their control, a work done by placing communists in New York’s teachers union. By 1941, one quarter of all union members were communists.

bella dodd quotes

Exposing the communist plan placed her in danger

The remaking of language is another key in changing the mindset of society. As an example, does one flinch today at the term “single mother?” This term was introduced early on in the effort to make illegitimate babies no big deal and to introduce a new morals where free love is admissible, thus facilitating the breakdown of the traditional family.

The higher she rose in the Party ranks, the less she dealt with communists, but rather interfaced with representatives of the Rockefellers, Lehmans, Harrimans, and other monied people who were all making financial deals with Russia. In her later writings, she asserted Communism “would fall by the wayside if it were not supported and promoted by people who had something to gain materially by the promotion of Communism.”(2)

Subverting the Chruch

Another primary goal of Communism is to penetrate and subvert churches and seminaries, especially the Catholic Church. Satan recognizes his greatest enemy. They employed their small-cell formula effectively in seminaries with huge success, beyond even communist expectations.

seminarians bella dodd

She attested that high Church officials were compromised & the seminaries infiltrated

Manning Johnson explained to Congress in July 1953: “It is an axiom on the communist organization strategy that if an infiltrated body has 1% Communist Party members and 9% Communist Party sympathizers, with well-rehearsed plans of action they can effectively control the remaining 90%.” (3)

Bella claimed she was responsible for the infiltration of “over a thousand communist men” into seminaries. A “living witness” to Bella’s statement of infiltration is Sherry Finn, of Redondo Beach, California, with whom I am personally acquainted through pro-life work and the Traditional Mass.

Five years were spent disentangling herself from the Party before she was officially expelled from the Party after disillusionment and disgust compelled her to leave. She was hounded by both the KGB and the FBI. Smear campaigns were launched against her, her property vandalized, attempts were made on her life, so she moved frequently, living in hiding at times. It made practicing law on her own very difficult, and financial worries abounded.

sheen and bella dodd

Bishop Sheen forbade her to reveal the names of four compromised Cardinals...

After her conversion to the Faith, in which Msgr. Fulton Sheen played a great role, she adopted Our Blessed Mother as her role model. Her return to the Faith was gradual, but steadfast.

Bella died in April 1969, after suffering greatly during her last years from serious physical ailments, including pleurisy, diabetes, myocardial infarction, and septicemia; she was confined to a wheelchair the last year of her life.

She had worked profusely and courageously after her return to the Faith to speak out against Communism. She had wanted to join the strictest convent she could find to make expiation for her sins, but Bishop Sheen advised her that by speaking publicly she would help make reparation for her past and keep others from following a similar trajectory. Most regrettably, Bishop Sheen – whose reputed anti-Communism was actually a compromised position – prohibited her from naming four Cardinals at the Vatican with whom she had been “in close contact” as fellow members of the Communist Party.

bella dodd quote

Commenting on her past: ‘I had set myself adrift on an uncharted sea with no compass’

To get the message out, Bella Dodd testified before both Houses of Congress multiple times and countless meetings around the country “no matter how small,” such as a PTA or Boy Scouts. She even ran for several public offices in New York.

Bella confessed that had she read more Lenin, she would have known about the Party’s ethics and morality, and realized she was not actually helping the people for whom she wanted to devote her life.

Most people will not read Lenin, but reading this book will reveal Communism’s putrid infamy, illustrating and unmasking the plot behind much of our current society’s subtle and ever-more blatant plunge into anti-godlessness. As Bella Dodd herself said, the leader of this conspiracy is Lucifer.

Bella Dodd’s journey can assist us in combating this evil of Communism, which Our Lady warned us of in 1917, telling the three shepherd childred that “Russia will spread her errors throughout the world.” Communism continues, in a different mask, and Catholics should be wary of attempts to rehabilitate Russia’s new Communism.

  1. Stalin, Problems of Leninism, 134-35
  2. Notarized statement by Johnine Leininger and Paul Leininger dated March 25, 2002, who were present for Bella Dodd's presentation in California. Also Testimony of Bella Dodd, “Subversive Influence in the Educational Process,” US Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other internal Security Laws, 82nd Congress, Second Session, September 8, 1952, 17.
  3. Bella V. Dodd as featured on State of the Nation, February 1955.


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Posted March 11, 2024


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