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Date Posted: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 15:49:06 -0600
From: Michael Ravnitzky

For several years, I have been doing research on Major George Racey Jordan, author of From the Diary of Major Jordan. Recent publications have borne out some of his wild claims regarding transfer of massive strategic assets (including nuclear materials and nuclear and military data) to the Russians during World War II through lend-lease channels. More significantly, I have never seen any good rebuttals of any of his allegations, even those about Harry Hopkins.

I have recently come across some previously unpublished declassified Jordan material from government archives. Does anyone have any suggestions on sources of additional material?

Note: I've gotten the congressional testimony, contemporary book reviews, etc. Jordan died in the mid-1960's. If anyone has any insight, please send me a private email, or public if interest warrants.

Michael Ravnitzky
1-L, William Mitchell College of Law

Date Posted: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 16:37:32 -0600
From: Hubert van Tuyll

I'd be interested in hearing about those publications, as I'm sure would other list members. I kind of doubt that a Soviet agent wanting to export 'strategic assets' to the Soviet Union would have used a program as thoroughly bureaucratized as the Lend-Lease organization, but if there is evidence to the contrary, I'd certainly be interested in seeing it. My recollection of Jordan's diaries (read while doing Lend-Lease research) is limited but the evidence Jordan cited could be interpreted in more than one (i.e. sinister v. innocent). More specific information would, of course, be welcome.

Regards, Hubert van Tuyll, Augusta State University

Date Posted: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 16:37:33 -0600
From: Eduard Mark <75717.2660@CompuServe.COM>

Some years ago I looked into Jordan's allegations. I also filed a FOIA with the FBI which yield several thousand pages of material. My conclusion, which was also that of the FBI, was the Jordan's allegations had been concocted out of whole cloth for publicity and profit. (I presume that the material released to me is available in the FBI's FOIA Reading Room.) Jordan's Congressional testimony, moreover, was riddled with contradictions of the most obvious kind. The man was a total fraud, and just the sort of person who with false accusations distracted attention from the very real and very serious problem of Soviet espionage. Few even of the most frenzied zealots of 1950 paid him any heed.

VENONA, moreover, does NOT bear out Jordan's accusations regarding atomic espionage. VENONA and various Russian sources provide much information about the dates when information was obtained and how it reached Russia. Little or none of this corresponds with Jordan's allegations.

As regards Jordan's accusation that Hopkins wheedled information about the atomic bomb from General Groves, General Groves own testimony before Congress disproves that, as do various documentary collections in the National Archives.

I shall something to say in a future article regarding Hopkins's secret contacts with the Soviets. Suffice it to say that the truth bears no resemblance at all to the allegations of the psychopathic Mr. Jordan.

Eduard Mark
Department of the Air Force

Date Posted: Sat, 15 Feb 1997 17:44:13 -0600
From: Brian Villa

I hate to disagree a bit with Eduard Mark, whose scholarship in this area is well ahead of mine. Perhaps I can agree with him. But I think he does overlook that the essential facts of what the Major reported have never been authoritatively refuted, if anything the congressional hearings tended to confirm his findings. He may have been a psychopath later, but to my knowledge there is no indication that he was that during World War II. The original investigators, if memory serves me correctly, thought he was careful even methodological.

That he went off the deep end later does not invalidate, by itself, what he reported during the war. It is the same problem we have with Igor Gouzenko, whose 1945 revelations were dead on and are well confirmed by Venona. Gouzenko's later statements are a different matter. The difference between Gouzenko and Major Jordan, I submit is that Gouzenko was wise enough to steal actual copies of documents so that his story which seemed preposterous could not be challenged.

But I would like very much to hear Dr. Mark's comments on why he thinks Jordan's 1945-1959 assertions are not credible other than arguments drawn from evidence of personality. That is a class of evidence most historians, and I am sure that includes Dr. Mark, really hate to invoke unless it imposes itself imperatively.

B.L. Villa, U. of Ottawa

Date Posted: Sun, 16 Feb 1997 14:22:34 -0600
From: Eduard Mark <75717.2660@CompuServe.COM>

I am surprised that Professor Villa, whose contributions to the forum I have read with great interest, should credit anything so obviously fantastic as Jordan's story. For the benefit of the uninitiated, I shall provide a summary of the allegations at issue. During the last world war Jordan served as an officer of the U. S. Army Air Forces at Mahlgram Air Force Base, which was in one of the states of the upper mid-West. Through Mahlgram flew aircraft bound for the Soviet Union under Lend Lease. Jordan claimed in the late 1940s that his suspicions had aroused by the large number of suitcases he saw aboard Russia-bound transport aircraft. One evening he entered a DC-3 and opened a suitcase at random. And, lo and behold, in the suitcase he found a map of the Manhattan Engineering District and other documents he supposed in retrospect to have been plans for the atomic bomb. There was as well a letter on White House stationary from Harry Hopkins to Anastas Mikoyan. What a coincidence! Jordan claimed that the letter began (I quote from memory) "Dear Mr. Minister: I had a hell of a time getting this material from General Groves . . ."

Why do I not believe this story? Let me count the ways.

(1) It asks too much of my credulity (which I will admit is sometimes great, as when I allowed myself to think for a while that Jordan's story just might be true). Jordan opened one suitcase and it just happened to contain the plans for the atomic bomb. Give us a break;

(2) Harry Hopkins was no idiot, and only and an idiot would sign his name to a letter in the act of committing such treason;

(3) The NKGB was not, for the most part, staffed by idiots and would not have sent such invaluable information on a flight of thousands of miles over American territory and through American military bases. It is, in any event, known from VENONA and other sources that the Soviets usually sent their most valuable take from New York and Washington in diplomatic bags;

(4) Anybody even remotely with Hopkins's career can see that while he was naively pro-Soviet, he was no traitor. It was he, after all, who stopped FDR from giving Churchill carte blanche before his trip to Moscow in October 1944. (Read Bohlen's "Witness to History" for this episode) Harry Hopkins, by dragging himself time after time from sickbeds to do FDR's bidding, gave his life for his country no less than did his son Stephen, who died a Marine in the Marshall Islands;

(5) In his testimony before Congress Jordan altered his tale from session to session as journalists and various witnesses raised embarrassing details. (I laboriously wasted several dozen hours of my life back in 1983 tracing the various shifts in Jordan's testimony);

(6) The FBI investigated Jordan's case and concluded that he was lying (I paid about a thousand bucks back in 83 for documents from the FBI, which I presume are still available in the FBI's Reading Room. Even J. Edgar Himself could not take Jordan seriously;

(7) Journalists investigated the case and reached the same conclusion;

(8) A friend of Jordan's wrote an article for "The Reporter" which explained how Jordan admitted in private that he had lied;

(9) Mikoyan had nothing to do with the USSR's atomic project. (Read David Holloway's very good book "Stalin and the Bomb" which goes deeply not only into the structure of the Soviet atomic project but with the espionage also. Then read the first release of VENONA and see how it compares with Jordan's ludicrous tale;

(10) Groves himself denied that he ever received any improper requests for atomic data from Hopkins, and nothing in Groves's papers suggests the contrary;

(11) Anyone who knows how sensitive material is handled in the government would know that it is simply inconceivable that Groves would have given Hopkins the plans for the bomb even if he had been asked. I could write more, but enough is enough.

When I wrote that Jordan was a psychopath I did not mean that he was a wacko in the sense that he belonged in a little room with padded walls. I meant that he was a man without a conscience who would say or do anything that suited his purposes, which were to make a little money, gain some attention, and strike a blow at the New Deal in the process.

To turn to a more serious subject: Does anybody out there in the ether think O. J. Simpson is innocent? I will personally give the person who springs most effectively to the defense of this great but unappreciated American a tour of the famous Hanger 14 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Eduard Mark
Department of the Air Force

Date Posted: Sun, 16 Feb 1997 14:22:35 -0600
From: Brad De Long

> Michael Ravnitzky wrote:
> For several years, I have been doing research on Major George Racey
> Jordan, author of From the Diary of Major Jordan. Recent publications
> have borne out some of his wild claims regarding transfer of massive
> strategic assets (including nuclear materials and nuclear and military
> data) to the Russians during World War II through lend-lease channels.

I'm puzzled. Weren't we supposed to be transferring massive amounts of military materiel and other strategic resources to Russia via lend-lease?

Remember, up until mid-1944 if the Russians decide to make a separate peace with Hitler, then the U.S. and Britain have little if any chance of reestablishing themselves on the European continent...

Brad De Long

Date Posted: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 10:36:40 -0600
From: Michael Ravnitzky

>Brad De Long wrote:

> I'm puzzled. Weren't we supposed to be transferring massive amounts of
> military materiel and other strategic resources to Russia via
> lend-lease?

*Inappropriate and unacknowledged* strategic materials like Uranium. Strategic meaning weapons of mass destruction, maps of military sites in the U.S. and other inappropriate transfers. Read Jordan's book, which is very interesting in hindsight, in spite of the demurrers of Mr. Mark.

Mike Ravnitzky

Date Posted: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 10:42:44 -0600
From: Brian Villa

Re Eduard Mark's posting of 16 February.

Wherefore does my posting of 14 Feb. which starts out "I hate to disagree a bit with Eduard Mark, whose scholarship in this area is well ahead of mine. Perhaps I can agree with him...." merit Dr. Mark's opening:

>I am surprised that Professor Villa, whose contributions to the forum I
>have read with great interest, should credit anything so obviously
>fantastic as Jordan's story. ???

So obviously ?

Suffice it to say that on Dr. Mark's own telling he spent $1,000 dollars and several weeks of his valuable time pursuing just one aspect of the Jordan story. Why, does he have to cast aspersions on others who would follow in his path ?

To the readership who might be interested in this matter. Major Jordan, who claimed to have discovered evidence that the Soviet Union was abusing diplomatic mails to transport what he thought might be the product of espionage, who broke into Soviet diplomatic mail and who claimed the Soviet Union was obtaining atomic materials under lend lease license was in 1) the right place 2) time, and 3) right position of authority to make the investigations which he claimed to have made and which he noted in his apparently contemporaneous diary.

It should be noted that Richard Rhodes, who is a careful Pulitzer Prize winning scholar believes the "general credibility of the story has been established. (Dark Sun, p. 100)

I would be the first to admit that there are a lot of problems with the implications of Jordan's story, and even more with the way Jordan interpreted these facts, and still more with the publication history of his works. But given what we now know, about Soviet intelligence operations in the United States during the Second World War, I have to agree with Richard Rhodes that the story cannot be dismissed out of hand. The vigor of Dr. Mark's reply leads me to believe there is a story here worth pursuing.

B.L. Villa, Professor of History U. of Ottawa

Date Posted: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 19:51:04 -0600
From: Eduard Mark <75717.2660@CompuServe.COM>

In answering my post on Major Jordan's tale, Brian Villa does not mention the key point, which was not Jordan's claim that the Soviets were shipping diplomatic mail through Mahlgram Air Field on the Alaska-Siberian route for Lend-Lease aircraft. Of course they were -- they filed manifests with the American authorities. Presumably some of the material so-shipped was intelligence-related. Jordan's key claim -- and this is why he wrote a book and testified before Congress -- was that he had opened one of the suitcases and found proof that Harry Hopkins was shipping atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

As for my reasons why I think that claim is nuts, I refer readers to my recent post.

Eduard Mark
Department of the Air Force

Date Posted: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 10:25:24 -0600
From: Brian Villa

Dr. Eduard Mark has asked me, politely-thank you, to comment on the part of Jordan's claim that he finds most fantastic. I am trying to take a breather before the upcoming Alperovitz climax or anti-climax but gladly will I meet Mark's request.

I think Dr.Mark is not being quite exact when he says Jordan associated Hopkins with the technical papers. The note which Jordan found, if memory serves me correctly concerns one HH, presumably Hopkins, claiming to have made an extra effort with Groves to get the Uranium license.

I quite agree with Dr. Mark that the Hopkins question is one very large problem with Jordan's story. Dr. Mark has put his finger right on a critical question because it is the Hopkins part of the story which even Rhodes, who accepts the general credibility of Jordan, does not mention, because, I rather think, he cannot swallow it either, any more than can Mark.

For what it is worth, and it is based on some work, I do not believe, for a moment that Harry Hopkins was disloyal to his President or his country, as some around Jordan did, and as he sometimes thought. But you must remember even Harry Truman had his doubts about Hopkins' loyalty and one of his principal purposes in paying a visit to Hull in the Hospital shortly after assuming the Presidency was to ask Hull if he could vouch for Hopkins. Hull gave him that assurance and a more solid endorsement there could not be because Hull was not soft on the Soviets. That gives one, I think the essential parameters on the middle range question.

But assume Jordan's story is roughly correct, about what he found, and try to see it from his point of view for just a moment. Here Jordan has been witnessing a massive abuse of diplomatic mail by the Soviet Union (not in doubt), shipments of what look like everything but the kitchen sink of US technology (not in doubt either). He knows, accurately that Harry Hopkins is the great lend lease expediter to the Soviets, and knows the Soviets can appeal to him. He finds a note that seems to be from Hopkins. This sticks in his craw because he thinks Hopkins is abetting this abuse by the soviets. He goes to Washington to complain about abuse of diplomatic privilege. He sees John Hazard, at State, who tells him to pipe down. And nothing changes at Gore Field. Then Jordan hears in 1949 of rumours of stolen or missing atomic materials then hears of the Soviet test, and the shock of the century for the United States. Jordan then puts two and two together and gets 66. Well we can blame him for deficient historical analysis or bad math and then blame him too for being so uncritical as to allow himself to become the plaything of the John Birch people. But we can also understand his error.

Dr. Mark seems to think that Jordan invented the whole story and that I am afraid is probably not the case. The Uranium shipments were made under lend lease license. That is known. Groves admitted to it, and claimed on one occasion under oath to have done so under pressure. At least I think that is right.( Unfortunately there is not a single copy of those hearings in any Canadian library , not even the library of Parliament and I had to use them on a quick trip set up for me by the indefatigable John Collins of Harvard's Government depository library. There are two set of Congressional hearings.) Now if the shipments were made legally to the Soviets, why not claim credit for it ? Hopkins was a friend of the Soviets but also posing as a deeper friend of the Soviets than most, and what could have been more natural then to tuck in a note, saying he hoped the Soviets appreciated the extra effort. I am sure that Roosevelt would have approved. There is no evidence of treason here and to the extent that Jordan played with that supposition, he was off base. I think Dr. Mark and I are in agreement there.

Now why the Uranium shipments? It is surely one of those ironies of fate that in the course of a long effort to figure out the conundrum of what Roosevelt's postwar strategy for dealing with the Soviets I should have come a couple of years ago, to the view that this particular episode relates to other important evidence that will at last allow us to resolve the Roosevelt/Russia conundrum. When Professor John Lewis Gaddis graciously visited the University of Ottawa to be our keynoter speaker I explained my general thesis in a somewhat raw state to him and he was, I must tell you, underwhelmed. I expect some firm to fierce reviews.

Barring a last minute hitch my teaser for the book will be published this July. Now if someone will kindly pull the plug on my H-Diplo membership right after the conclusion of the Alperovitz debate I will get on with that manuscript, for I am hoping it will be my main contribution to historical literature.

Suffice is to say, as regards the particular point that Dr. Mark asks about, Groves may never quite have understood why he was being asked to concur in Uranium shipments to the USSR, any more than could Jordan. He, in suspecting treason was way off base.

Michael Ravnitzk, who has posted on this subject, indeed who raised the question will probably provide us with the detailed scholarship on the Jordan question, at least I hope so. But obviously the more important question is not Jordan but Groves and behind Groves, Roosevelt.

Having thus met Dr. Mark's query will he please explain for me why he thinks Groves allowed these Uranium and other critical materials shipments to the USSR at a time when they were all in very short supply, at a time when, Groves stated, his main obsession was to keep the Soviets from getting the secrets ?

Brian Loring Villa, U. of Ottawa
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