Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes, Venona and Laurence Duggan – A Comparison

Venona Decryptions in the Context of Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes on Laurence Duggan’s File

Alexander Vassiliev’s notes on Laurence Duggan’s file, Archival No. 36857, Alexander Vassiliev, Yellow Notebook #2, pp. 1-39, posted on the website of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Cold War International History Project, topic_id= 1409&fuseaction=topics.documents&group_id=511603

Laurence Duggan identified behind Venona decryptions from 1943 and 1944, Venona – dated documents,

p.202 Letter from Mer dated 4.2.1943

“As you know, he is not a fellowcountryman [zemlyak”/ compatriot] or a paid probationer. He is a very decent and progressive American. He has always helped us, and acknowledges that we are the vanguard of progressive mankind. He has never taken a single cent from us. Our personal friendship has also played a major part in our liaison. …

… p.203 Shared ideology and personal friendship are the mainsprings of our connection with Frank. Because of his personal qualities — he is an exceptionally honorable man— he could never imagine that we might put pressure on him, exploiting the work he did for us in the past. If this thought had ever seriously occurred to him, he would have long since rid himself of us. Any hint on our part (regardless of how delicately or diplomatically we put it) about the fact that he is firmly connected with us

p.204 and that, having agreed to work for us, he took upon himself a certain obligation, would make it clear to him which way the wind was blowing. …

p.205 …

… So far, I have only one method of working with him: serious politico-educational influence; instilling in him the thought that, in helping us, he is helping the very best of humanity; expressing our sincere gratitude; persistently appealing to his conscience to help us more actively; and developing our personal friendship. I hope we can win him over with this method. …

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 32.]

[There are no notes on pages 206-218 in Archival No. 36857.]

p.219 Report on 19 [undated, written in Moscow Center – S.Ch.]

Negative factors:

1) “Because he occupies a high government post, has a family, and is constantly in a non-left and reactionary environment, the source is losing his party feeling, on the basis of which we had begun working with him.”

p.220 He succumbs to the influence of Trotskyites and anti-Soviets.

2) Vacillation on issues of USSR’s domestic and foreign policies, Trotskyite tendencies.

3) He is known for his liberalism and for his connection to the embassy. Known to: 1. “Raymond”; 2. Krivitsky (possibly); 3. “Nikolay” – enemy of the people; 4. it is possible that the traitor “Nord” betrayed 19 to foreign intelligence.

4) He tried to break off his connection 6 times.

p.222 It is essential that “Mer” get 19 to meet with him more frequently and that he devote more energy to 19’s ideological education.

[Yellow Notebook #2, p. 33]

[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated May 29, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona New York to Moscow #812, May 29, 1943:

“19”[ii] 1 reports that “KAPITAN” [iii] and “KABAN” [iv], during conversations in the “COUNTRY” [STRANA] [v]”, invited “19” to join them and ZAMESTITEL’[v] openly told “KABAN”

[10 groups unrecovered]

second front against GERMANY this year. KABAN considers that, if a second front should prove to be unsuccessful, then this [3 groups unrecovered 2 harm to Russian interests and [6 groups unrecovered]. He considers it more advantageous and effective to weaken GERMANY by bombing and to use this time for “[4 groups unrecovered] political crisis so that there may be no doubt that a second front next year will prove successful.”


[14 groups unrecovered]

“19” thinks that “KAPITAN” is not informing ZAMESTITEL’ of important military decisions and that therefore ZAMESTITEL’ may not have exact knowledge of [1 group unrecovered] with the opening of a second front against GERMANY and its postponement from this year to next year. 19 says that ZAMESTITEL’ personally is an ardent supporter of a second front at this time and considers postponement

- 2 -

[15 groups unrecovered]

can shed blood

[13 groups unrecovered]

recently shipping between the USA and

[40 groups unrecovered]

The “COUNTRY” hardly [9 groups unrecovered] “insufficient reason for delaying a second front.”

No. 443                                                                                                            MER [vii]


[ii]     19             :      Unidentified cover designation.

[vi] ZAMESTITEL’:  i.e. Deputy – therefore possibly Henry Agard WALLACE, who was ROOSEVELT’s Deputy (Vice President) at this time: later he is referred to by the covername LOTsMAN.

[hand-written notation] More likely to be Harry Hopkins?

[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated June 28, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #916, June 28, 1943:

Duggan was “presumably” identified behind “Fr” in a mostly non-decrypted communique from June 28, 1944, which mentioned some non-decrypted information from a source who was identified as “Frank” with some degree of certainty, as well as some non-decrypted remarks of FR…’s.

[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and  a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated June 30, 1943. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1025, June 30, 1943:

[Part I]   TO VIKTOR [LINK to “Viktor”] [i].

FRENK [ii] reports the following:

1.  In the near future the “COUNTRY [STRANA]” [iii] and the “ISLAND [OSTROV]” [iv] will land strong forces in ITALY and on her islands with the aim of seizing the whole of ITALY. The forces will be landed simultaneously at various points

[52 groups unrecovered]

… In all [B% probability % 3 they [1 group unrecovered] for military operations [in] [a] NORWAY this winter.

[17 groups unrecovered]

[D but] did not say [D% anything] of the kind.  [4 groups unrecovered] beginning in the winter Anglo-American forces will launch a military operation [in] [a] NORWAY.

[There is almost a yearlong gap in the Venona decryptions and an even longer gap in Vassiliev’s notes on Laurence Duggan’s file. This gap is partially filled with the report below, which was discovered in Russian diplomatic files. Its “very well informed source” was most likely Duggan (in view of his relationship with Sumner Welles.) The original report, which Moscow Center received from its U.S. station, does not appear among the Venona decryptions, nor in Vassiliev’s notes on Duggan’s file. The report is a typical example of the circulation of intelligence reports during World War II. – S.Ch.]

USSR                                                     [stamp]

People’s Commissariat                           NKID TOP SECRET

of State Security                             Dep. of Am.[erican] countries

1st Directorate                                       Entr. № 969

18 September 1943                                24/IX 1943

№ 1/3/6169


To Comr. Dekanozov

Hereby report to you the information received from the USA on 28/VIII-43:

In the opinion of our very well informed source, the resignation of Welles is an unfavorable development [‘factor’] for Soviet-American relations. Although Welles has never been a friend of the USSR, he, nevertheless, had realistically estimated its role and tried to improve relations between the USA and the USSR and was an advocate of concluding an agreement on political issues without waiting for the end of the war.

HULL represents the old reactionary trend. This is a cunning politician, who enjoys decisive influence among Southern Democrats. He is an opponent of concluding an agreement prior to final formulation [‘oformlenije’] of American public opinion. Has always been hostile to the Soviet Union. A supporter of restoring pre-war status quo in the Baltics and in the Balkans. 4

In view of the coming presidential elections, ROOSEVELT could not ignore HULL’s role and preferred to keep [preserve] him despite his [Roosevelt’s] friendship with WELLES.

The source supposes that in case WELLES is sent to Moscow as Roosevelt’s representative for negotiations, the State Department would surely sabotage his activity.

[signed]  Head,

1st Directorate NKGB of the USSR                                        /FITIN

[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated May 24, 1944. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow, #744, 746, May 24, 1944 (Laurence Duggan was tentatively identified by the Venona translators behind “F”:

[Part I]   [C% Reference your no. 1729[a]. FR. …[ii]

[22 groups unrecovered]

[18 groups unrecovered]

[Part II]

that the leaders intend to attack

[43 groups unrecoverable]

[D% with] the ISLANDERS [iii], Near-Eastern, European, post-war, trade, and oil questions. The creation of an oil commission of representatives of the COUNTRY [v] [and] the ISLAND [OSTROV][v] for deciding world oil questions. [2 groups unrecovered] oil conference our participation.

KAPITAN[vi] is badly afraid of the possibility of China’s withdrawal from the war. LOTsMAN’s[vii] main task is to persuade China to see the war through and to strengthen friendship with the COUNTRY. LOTsMAN in conversation with F.[viii] gave him to understand that he would be nominated for the election.

They are afraid for KAPITAN’s health – after more than a month’s leave he has once more gone on leave.

No. 463                                MAJ [ix]

25 May

Notes: …

[ii] FR…..: Probably should read FRENK, i.e. FRANK, Laurence DUGGAN.


[viii] F.: Probably refers to FRANK, …

p. 229 Report by “Albert” dated 10.7.44

Prince’s  resignation came as a surprise to me. I did not expect him to quit his job in that division altogether. He spoke to me quite often about his difficulties and his situation there. His situation became especially shaky after his chief superior’s deputy was forced to leave the department. As you know, many years ago this deputy brought Prince into the department, and he was thought of as his man (protégé). Recently, Prince informed me that the chief superior hates the deputy who resigned because of his polit. activities in the press and his speeches, which criticize the director’s division as well as his political views.”

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34]

p.228 20.7.44 May reported from NY that 19 has tendered his resignation from the SD, supposedly for personal reasons. Ovakimian’s resolution: “It is strange that we are learning about this after the fact.” 21.7.44

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 33]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1015, July 22, 1944:

- 2 -

FRANK [FRENK][ix] will resign from the BANK [BANK] [x] allegedly “for personal reasons”. Details and prospects for the future are being looked into.


[ix]  FRENK:  possibly Laurence DUGGAN.

p.232 19 has become assistant diplomatic adviser to the UNRRA.

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1114, August 4, 1944:


FRENK[ii] has been appointed [2 groups unrecovered] Assistant Diplopmatic Adviser of the SHELTER[PRIYuT][iii]. The former ambassador[iv] of the COUNTRY[STRANA][v] to RIO[vi] now occupies his previous post.

MER[vii] [4 groups unrecovered] [B% residency did not know] about this change. According to MER, FRENK, even before this, was announcing that his position in the BANK[viii] was precarious, but, since MER confronted him with the question of keeping [2 groups unrecovered] about leaving the BANK, F. [ii] in our hearing never [9 groups unrecovered] F.’s potential.

No 619                               MAJ[xi]


[ii]  FRENK, F.:  i.e. Laurence Duggan, Director of Office of American Republic Affairs, U.S. State Department, to 19 July 1944, Assistant Diplomatic Adviser to UNRRA July 1944-1946.

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1251, September 2, 1944:

In accordance with our telegram no. 403 [a] we are advising you of the new cover-names: … Among the new cover-names introduced by you there are disadvantageous ones which we propose to replace as follows: … ShERVUD – KNYaZ’[xx], …

No. 700                                        MAJ[xxiv]

Notes: …

[xx] ShERVUD – KNYaZ’: i.e. SHERWOOD – PRINCE, Laurence DUGGAN.

[There are no notes of any meeting between Laurence Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of the Venona decryption dated November 18, 1944. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow #1613, November 18, 1944:

In mid-October AL’BERT[ii] tried to get in touch with KNYaZ’[iii]. The latter’s wife stated that KNYaZ’ had left for the PROVINCES [iv] and would return after Christmas. At one time KNYaZ’ was compelled to resign because of the dismissal of LUN’s[v] former deputy on the grounds of organizational and political disagreement.

As a result of the election, LUN’’s dismissal and the appointment of LOTsMAN[vi] in his place are not ruled out. Inasmuch as KNYaZ’ is friendly with LOTsMAN [1 group unrecovered] he could count on a leading post in the BANK[vii].

[There are no notes on any discussion of using Laurence Duggan in the capacity which is suggested in the Venona decryption of the cable from November 21, 1944. Neither are there any notes on any meeting between Duggan and a Soviet contact around the date of this Venona decryption.

“Albert” was not identified as Iskhak Abdulovich Akhmerov by the time the Venona operation was officially closed (1980). The identification of “Art” as Helen Koral also looks like a much later addition, most probably, in or after 2005. – S.Ch.]]

Venona, KGB New York to Moscow # 1636, November 21, 1944:

- 4 -

4. From your telegram[v] I conclude that the decision to use ARTEM[vi] in ALBERT’s[vii] line of work has not been rescinded by you. [1 group unrecovered] after thorough checking (which is being carried out at the moment on KNYAZ’s’[viii] instructions) [2 groups unrecovered] we will put him in touch with ART[ix] and will thus create a second, as it were reserve line of communication with AL’BERT.


Note: …

[v] Presumably NEW YORK’s No. 1393 of 3rd October

1944 (3/NBF/T95).

[vi] ARTEM: Possible either G.N. OGLOBLIN or M.N. KhVOSTOV.

[viii] KNYaZ’: i.e. “PRINCE”: possibly Laurence DUGGAN.

[ix] ART: Probably Helen KORAL.

There are no notes on file pages 233-245. The next note — after the brief note that “19 has become assistant diplomatic adviser to the UNRRA,” which may be dated as early August 1944 — refers to a memo on Duggan’s article in the December 1947 issue of America magazine:

p.246 “Prince’s” article in the magazine “America,” No. 12, 1947 “The international exchange of students and academic workers” …

[Archival No. 36857, Yellow Notebook #2, p. 34.]

  1. Here and after, the Roman numerals and occasional letters in brackets indicate the translators’ footnotes in Venona documents.
  2. Here and after, this means the number of cryptonyms which have not been decrypted.
  3. In Venona decryptions, A%, B%, C%, D% indicate the level of presumed certainty in the decryption. In this case, a B (second from top) level of certainty refers to the word “probability.”
  4. Underlined in the document.