Venona: FBI Documents of Historic Interest/Belmont Memorandum 1950-05-15

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To Ladd Assistant to the Director, FBI.

3640422Venona: FBI Documents of Historic Interest — Belmont Memorandum to Ladd: May 15, 1950Alan Harnden Belmont



TO: Mr. LaddDATE: May 15, 1950

FROM: Mr. Belmont




The purpose of this memorandum is to briefly summarize important investigation developments in this case individual these related thereto, based on   information.


  has been able to furnish to us certain fairly detailed information regarding MGB (Soviet Intelligence) activities in the United State in the period April, 1944, through March, 1945. The   information indicates the extensive use of cover names by the MGB which often makes identification difficult where we have little information available from the source. In the following material an effort has been made to beak down the information from   into individual networks, particularly in the instances were we previously had investigated certain ramifications of the Soviet espionage activity in this country.


The   information deals in part with the operation of the MGB in their recruitment and use of personnel in various Government Agencies previously known to us through our investigation to the Nathan Gregory Silvermaster case. The individuals positively or tentatively identified from   include Nathan Gregory Silvermaster, Helen Silvermaster, Ludwig Ullman, Bela Gold, Sonia Gold, Victore Perlo, Elizabeth Bentley, Jacob Golos, Harry Magdoff, Peter Rhodes, Allen Rosenberg, Harold Glasser, Anatoli B. Gromov, Joseph Katz, and Vladimir S. Prevdin, all of whom were implicated in the information furnished to us by Elizabeth Bentley.

In addition to the foregoing, we have a considerable number of individuals attached to the same network, identified only through cover names, whom we are attempting by investigation to identify. The most important of these is an individual by the cover name of Albert, who, from the   information, operates above Silvermaster and was in contact with MGB officials of the New York Soviet Consulate. We have an active investigation in progress to identify Albert, and he will undoubtedly prove to be one o the unidentified principals of Bentley, whom we have not been able to identify based on the information provided by her.


You will recall that we have conducted an extensive investigation in the Lydia Altschuler, was., etal, Internal Security — R case concerning an espionage network involving cipher messages in secret ink exchanged between persons in the New York City area and persons in Mexico City and South America. The secret ink messages dealt primarily with the efforts of the espionage parallel to free Frank Jacson, Trotsky's killer, who was imprisoned in Mexico City. You may recall that there were eight messages in the Altschuler traffic which we were never able to decipher because we could not find the book used in the encipherment. From   information we identified this book as "Una Excursione a Los Indios Ranqueles," a paper-bound edition published in Argentina. Through this identification our Cryptographic Laboratory has just finished the decipherment of seven of the eight remaining messages intercepted in the Altschuler case. These messages extend the ramifications of the espionage parallel we knew in the Altschuler case and one message shows the network was, in 1943, setting up a radio station in Argentina. One of the messages sets forth that the same code was to be used by the station as in the Altschuler case, and gives the frequency to be used and the time of intended operations. We are to attempting to develop whether there is in existence traffic intercepted from such a station. There is some indication that such traffic will be in existence available through either the Armed Forces Security Agency or the FCC.

It is also of considerable interest to note that the radio stations set up at the Soviet Consulates in New York City and San Francisco transmitted messages in code, and among the intercepts available in connection with these two transmitters there have been found intercepts of a station operating on at least one of the frequencies and using one of the call letters set forth in the secret ink messages. A preliminary examination by our Cryptographic Laboratory indicates that we will be able to decipher at least one of these messages, but it is not possible to accurately predict whether we will be able to tie this in with the South American station. As soon as the Cryptographic Laboratory finishes their work this entire matter will be reviewed and analyzed for you and submitted to the Field for further investigation.

In addition to the foregoing, we have indentified through   two individuals, Floyd C. Miller and Robert Menaker, who were Soviet espionage agents used in the infiltration of the Socialist Workers Party (Trotskyites). Miller was used in connection with the continued infiltration by the Soviets of Mrs. Natalia Trotsky's household in Mexico City. Menaker had been in South America as a representative of the Midland Export Company a firm operated by Michael Burd. Through a review of the Bureau's files on Burd we developed the identities of two person, Nicholas and Maria Fisher, who were, in 1944, attempting to enter the United States in transit to Mexico from the Soviet Union. These two persons are undoubtedly identical with persons named by   as "The Paint" (Cheta). It might be noted that their application to pass in transit through the United States was denied by the Interdepartmental Visa Committee. Further investigation is being actively conducted to determine if these persons did succeed in entering the Western Hemisphere at some other time. We also are investigating to determine the ramifications of the possible use of the Midland Export Company as a Soviet espionage cover. It might be noted that the Midland Export Company did come to our attention in connection with our investigation in the Altschuler case. We are actively investigating this matter to develop its full potentialities.


Through   information we determined that Boris Morros' cover name was Frost (which is the English equivalent of Moros in Russian, although the Soviets used the name as Frost). Alfred K. Stern, according to   was designated under the cover name of Louis, and a memorandum prepared by him obtained by us through investigative efforts in February, 1945, was summarized in the   information and sent by the MGB in New York City to Moscow. While the above has not assisted materially our efforts in investigating the Mocase, it does furnish corroborative information to that furnished by our informant, Morros.

In addition to the foregoing, there is information from   regarding a person designated by the cover of Aida who was working in 1944 for the United Palestine Appeal and the MGB desired to place her with the Committee of Jewish Writers and Artists in New York City where they thought she would be of greater use to them. A tentative identification of this individual has been made as Esther Trebasch Rand, who has been implicated in the espionage notwork in the Mocase and she is a contact of Jack Soble. We are conducting investigation in attempt to verify the tentative identification of Rand.


We are currently attempting, through investigation, to identify an employee of MED at Los Alamos in 1944, designated by the cover name of Kalibr and Schmel. The known facts regarding this individual, from   are that he was to be contacted near Los Alamos in the latter part or November, 1944, by one Osa. It was later reported that he had been contacted and was willing to assist the MGB. It was reported that he arrived in New York City on leave in early January, 1945. We originally thought he might be Luis W. Alvarez, a prominent physician now employed at the Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California, but upon the receipt of the information from the source that the individual had arrived in New York City in early January, 1945, we determined that Alvarez was not there at that time. We are conducting an intensive investigation to develop this individual's identity, hampered by the fact that certain leave records at Los Alamos have been destroyed. We are also, through investigation, attempting to identify Osa.


Recent Information from   reflects that Theodore Hall, in November, 1944, was in New York city, where he was in contact with Saville Sax. Hall, at that time, was employed by MED at Los Alamos. At the recommendation of Sax, Hall agreed to supply to Soviet Intelligence information concerning work being done at Los Alamos. Hall delivered to Beck (unidentified) certain information, and Sax contacted an official at the Soviet Consulate and delivered to him certain information. Based on the foregoing, an intensive investigation has been instituted.

Theodore Alvin Hall, who is identical to the Hall mentioned in the   information, presently is employed at the University of Chicago at the Institute of Nuclear Physics.

Sax also is residing in Chicago, where he is operating a mimeographing business.

Further investigation is being conducted to determine the current activities of these individuals and to identify Beck.


As you know, the   information enabled our identification of Coplon as Soviet espionage agent. Two other individuals were involved with Coplon in her espionage activity in 1944, one being Marian Davis, now Marian D. Berdecio, who in married and living in Mexico City. She formerly played by ONI and by the coordinator of Inter-American affairs. We have a pending investigation on Berdecio. The second individual who actually recruited Coplon was Flora Don Wovschin, who presently is married and is believed to be in the Soviet Union. She formerly was played by ONI and by the State Department. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Enos Wicher, are presently in the United States and we are investigating them not only to determine whether they have any connections with Soviet espionage, but also in order that we may learn if Wovschin returns to the United States.


Our investigation of Fuchs was initiated on information from   We are currently attempting to identify Fuchs' American espionage contact, "Goose," who not only apparently operated Fuchs while Fuchs was in the United States, but also apparently was to operate Abraham Brothman, designated by the MG under the cover name of "Constructor." Brothman presently is operating a consulting engineering firm in New York City, and instructions have been issued to interview him and various of his associates in an effort to identity Goose. You will recall that Brothman was named by Bentley as having furnished information to her in 1940 — a fact admitted in interview by Brothman. A brief fully detailing the various aspects of this investigation has been submitted for your information.


The   information sets forth the attempts by the MGB to reactivate a person designated by the of name of Nik in Los Angeles in June, 1944. The information sets forth that Nik had ceased operation in behalf of a Soviet espionage contact because he was under surveillance by the FBI. He was being recontacted by a Soviet agent designated under the cover names of Douglas and Ike. Nik has been positively identified as Amadao Sabatini, who has been interviewed and is, to a certain extent, cooperative with us, although he is not wiling to furnish us any information which he does not think we know. Sabatini admits espionage in behalf of Gregori Kheifets, a former official at the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco. However, Sabatini claims that his recontact in June, 1944, was by Kheifets, while we know definitely that it was not the Kheifets and was the individual Douglas. Sabatini also was the cutout between Kheifets and Jones Orin York, an aircraft employee, in 1943, whom we have tentatively identified in the   information under the cover name of Igla. York recently admitted his espionage activities (on 4/10/50) in an interview with our agents, and has admitted that he was active from 1937 until 1943. You will recall that he ha named as one of his earlier espionage contacts William Wolf Weisband, a present employee of the Armed Forces Security Agency.

We are attempting, through investigation to identify Douglas, and we have issued instructions to the New York Office to interview   a Czechoslovakian whom what we believe to be identical with Mariya mentioned in the information provided by   She was being operated by Douglas. If the interview with her is successful we hope to learn the identity of Douglas.


You will recall that we conducted an extensive investigation regarding the espionage activities of Andrei Ivanovich Schevchenko, who, in 1943, was attached to the Bell Aircraft Plant at Niagara Falls, New York, as the head Soviet Inspector of that plant. Schevchenko later became Vice President of the Amtorg Trading Corporation. The information from   reflects that Schevchenko was designated under the cover name of Arseniy and he apparently occupied an important position in the MGB apparatus operating in the United States. It is also of interest to note that both of our double-agent informants, Loran G. Haas and Leona Franey, are mentioned in the information furnished to us by   and it appears that the MGB believed them to be reliable.

Another individual in this particular network who is mentioned is Vladimir M. Mazurin, who also was to attached to the Soviet Inspector's Office at the Bell Aircraft Plant in Niagara Falls, and who apparently was recruited by the MGB after he arrived at the plant. It might be noted that we did develop information in the Schevchenko case which indicated that Mazurin was operating as a sub-agent for Schevchenko.

Another individual that we investigated to some extent in connection with the Schevchenko case was Vladimir Morkovin, who was employed at the Bill Aircraft Corporation, Niagara Falls, Now York, as a Research Aerodynamicist. Our investigation showed he was contact with Schevchenko. He was designated in the information from   under the cover name of Author. Morkovin left his employment at Bell Aircraft in August, 1946, and in January, 1947, took employment at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he presently is working in the Aeronautical Engineering Department, this department having had contracts with the Navy and with the Air Force. We presently are conducting an active investigation concerning Morkovin.

Another individual who was associated with Schevchenko, according to our investigation of him, and who is also mentioned in   information, is William Pinsly. Pinsly was employed by the Curtis Wright Corporation in Williamsville, New York, on December 22, 1942, in the Aeronautical Engineering Department. He held this position through 1944 and was noted to be in contact with Schevchenko on several occasion. He was designated by the MGB under the cover name of Cork. Instructions have been issued for current investigation of Pinsly.


You will recall that in the Spring of 1944 Kravchenko defected from his position with the Soviet Government Purchasing Commission in Washington, D. C. The informatics from   reflects that thereafter he was designated by the cover name of Komar by the MGB and they were active in determining his activities and associates. They had a woman designated by the cover name of Ola who was to travel from Washington, D.C., to New York City to establish contact with Lydia Estrin, the mistress of David Dallin, both of whom were active in Russian Social Democratic circles and were assisting Kravchenko. We have not been successful in identifying Ola as to date, although we have conducted an extensive investigation in this respect. It also was reported that Ola was acquainted with Laura Peabody Cunningham and the Soviets knew that she was employed by the Naval Communications. We have interviewed Cunningham who is now married to a man by the man of, as she is still employed by Naval Communication. There is no definite information to the effect that she was ever used by the MGB. We also have interviewed Alexei Stoopenkov who apparently was acquainted with both Cunningham and Ola. Stoopenkov has furnished us certain information which has assisted us in our investigation, but has not definitely enabled us to identify Ola. Stoopenkov presently is a State Department employee, working as a guard attached to the American Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

Another individual who was infiltrating the Russian Social Democratic group which was assisting Krevchenko, was a person designated by the cover name of Tulip. It also appears that he was active in Trotskyite circels. Because of the lack of identifying information concerning him, we have not been successful in identifying him to date, although an active investigation is being carried out.


The information from   reflects that the Soviets were using two individuals who apparently had positions high in the United States Government and were close acquaintances of Henry A. Wallace in 1944. One of these individuals was designated under the cover name of Jurist and we have not succeeded in identifying him to date. He apparently was in a position to furnish high level information to the Soviets involving such persons as President Roosevelt, Henry A. Wallace, Cordell Hull, and Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Jurist, on April 29, 1944, furnished to the Soviet the information that Vice President Wallace was to go to China, and it is noted that Wallace actually left for China on May 20, 1944. Jurist apparently was a little afraid of his position in the Government because of his cooperation with the MGB, and stated that an exposure of his connections would lead to a political scandal and might have an effect on the coming elections.

One suspect who has been considered for Jurist is Samuel Irving Rosenman, who was an assistant to President Roosevelt in 1944. However, it might be noted that Rosenman is mentioned by the MGB, according to   by his real name on one occasion and it has been noted that the MGB, once it designates a man by a cover name, thereafter uses the cover name to the exclusion of the individuals's real name at all times.

Another individual who apparently was close to Wallace, and who is mentioned in the information from   was an individual designated by the cover name of Frank. Frank was reported to be considering reigning from the State Department as of July 22, 1944, for "personal reasons." The identity of Frank has not been developed to date in view of the fact that the only available information is to the effect that he was well acquainted with Wallace and was to resign as of that date. However, it interesting to note that Laurence Duggan (deceased), mentioned by Whittaker Chambers and Heda Massing, did resign from the State Department in the latter part of July, 1944. We have investigations in progress to identify both Jurist and Frank.


According to   on March 30, 1945, Anatoli B. Gromov, First Secretary and MGB representative at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C., informed his Moscow headquarters that Ales had, for some years, be the leader of little group working for Soviet Military Intelligence. It was stated that this group was composed mainly of Ales' relatives and that the group, which apparently was centered in the State Department, was working mainly on developing military information only and the information from the State Department interested them very little. It was stated that Ales, after the Yalta conference, had been in touch with a high Soviet official whom Ales implied was Comrade Vishinsky who thanked Ales on behalf of Soviet Military Intelligence. It would appear likely that is individual is Alger Hiss in view of the fact that he was in the State Department and the information from Chambers indicated that his wife, Priscilla, was active in Soviet espionage and he also had a brother, Donald, in the State Department. It also is to be noted that Hiss did attend the Yalta conference as a special adviser to President Roosevelt, and he world, of course, have conferred with high officials of other nations attending the conference. An attempt is being made by analysis of the available information to verify this identification.


The   information reflects that the Soviets were able to make extensive use of the Communist Party, USA, both for recruitment and for checking on various individuals regarding whom the MGB wanted information. Earl Browder was known by the MGB under the cover name of Rulevoy, and Browder was cognizant of the Soviet activity in the infiltration of various United States Government agencies. There is also some indication in   information that he knew of other activity on the part of the MGB. We are attempting, through investigation, to identify an individual designated by the cover name of Echo who appears, according to   to have occupied a responsible position in the Communist Party and to have been used in various way by the MGB.


It is not possible, memorandum of this length, to detail the information available from   regarding MGB officials attached to official and semi-official Soviet establishments in the United States. However, certain interesting observations can be made on the basis of   material. An individual by the name of May was directing the MGB espionage activity which was stemming from the Soviet Consulate in New York City. He undoubtedly was the Legal Resident Agent for the MGB at that Consulate. However, he directed activities which are outside the New York area, reaching to the West Coast, to Los Alamos, and even to Washington, D. C. He has not been identified, and it appears possible that the cover name of May is for the position of Legal Resident Agent rather than for one individual. If this is true, then Vassili Zubilin would probably have been May up until Zubilin's departure from the United States in the latter part of August, 1944. You will recall that Zubilin was attached as a Second Secretary to the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C., but spent a considerable amount of time in New York City. According to   information, under May, the Legal Resident Agent, there were individuals in official or semi-official Soviet positions who were designated as "cadre men." These individuals apparently headed various individual networks which were being operated by the MGB in the United States. We have not identified all of these individuals, but have succeeded in identifying a few of them. One of the more important ones was Vladimir S. Pravdin, the former head of the Tass News Agency in New York City. Pravdin was in contact with a number of American correspondents, apparently both on an open and clandestine basis. Among his contacts were persons such as Johannes Steele, Richard Lauterbach, and Stephen Laird. We are conducting investigations on all of these individuals. is is to be noted that Laird is presently employed by CVS. Another individual who has been identified with reasonable certainty is Mikhail Chaliagin, who was, in 1944, attached to the Soviet Consulate in New York City, and we had previously conducted investigation concerning him in connection with the Altschuler network during 1943 and 1944. Another individual who was heading a particular network was an individual designated by the cover name of Shtok. This individual may be identical with Semyon Markovich Semenov, who was attached to the Amtorg Trading Corporation in 1943 and 1944. Semenov was the subject of an extensive investigation prior to his departure for the Soviet Union in September, 1944/

The Legal Resident Agent at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D. C., following his arrival in the United States in September, 1944, was Anatoli Gromov who, you will recall, we identified in connection with the Silvermaster case. According to  , Gromov, who was designated under the cover name of Vadim. was to take over the activities of the Government network following his arrival. In addition to the individuals mentioned heretofore who were MGB agents attached to official establishments, there is a considerable number that we have not identified to date and there are others who occupied relatively minor positions who have been identified. All of these individuals identified by us have departed from the United States. We are attempting to develop to the fullest possible extent the activities of these individuals even though they have returned to the Soviet Union because their information gives us a fuller insight into MGB activities in this country.


A brief motion is being made of certain other identifications which have been made from the information supplied by  

Charles Davila, an individual active in Roumainian circles in the United States, was designated by the MGB under the cover name of Doker. He apparently was cooperating with the MGB in connection with their interest in Roumainian affairs in 1944. He is being actively investigated.

Roman Moczulski, in 1944, was employed by the Polish Telegraphic Agency, and was being recruited, according to   by the MGB. He is the subject of a pending investigation.

Sava N. Kosanovic, Yugoslavian Ambassador to the United States, was designated by the MGB under the cover name of Kolo and he apparently was cooperating the MGB. Kosanovic is the subject of investigation in connection with Yugoslavian Activities in the United States.

Ivan Subascic who, in 1945, formed coalition government with Tito in Yugoslavia, was being used by the MGB in 1944 in the United States. He was designated under the cover name of Seres. He is presently in Yugoslavia.

  in 1944, was in the United States as a French refuge and was active on the newspaper "France-American." The MGB was in contact with him, according to   and was making arrangements for his future we in connection which his pending departure for Algiers, North Africa. He is presently believed to be in France.

Anton S. Ivanci who, in 1944, was the President of a Yugoslav seaman's club in New York City, was active in behalf of the MGB, and they made arrangements for his being contacted in London upon his return to London. It is to be noted that Ivancic later returned to Yugoslavia where he was killed in a accident, the accident reportedly being a planed affair. The investigation on him has been closed.


The information contained in this memorandum has been set forth in order to briefly summarize for you the important investigative developments. The   case is being used as a control file, to insure that the individual cases growing out of the information from   are promptly and vigorously handled. It is contemplated that from time to time memoranda such as this will be prepared la order that the entire picture with respect to the instant investigation will be available to you.

Very important to press all angles. Please bring this memo up to date from time to time for my information.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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