Alexander Vassiliev’s Notes on Pavlov’s “Orientation”: A Comparison with the Original Document

The Four Successive “Shapes” of Vitaly Pavlov’s April 6, 1942 “Orientation”

Captain Vitaly Pavlov‘s assessment of the state of NKGB activities in the United States as of early 1942 is an extraordinary document. So far as is known, it is at this point the only available authentic and contemporaneous view into the real state of Soviet political intelligence at that time – a detailed, step-by-step description of the NKGB’s targets, leads and assets in targeted agencies of the U.S. government.

Readers are invited to compare the actual full-length document with the different emphasis found in the considerably shortened notes about it taken by Alexander Vassiliev during his 1994 and 1995 research into KGB archives. Following these side-by-side translations is a short report about the way the “Orientation” has been treated in the two intelligence history books, published ten years apart, based on Vassiliev’s notes: The Haunted Wood (Random House, 1999 ) and Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America (Yale University Press, 2009).

Alexander Vassiliev’s notes on “Political and diplomatical line of work (Plan),” dated April 4, 1942, Alexander Vassiliev’s Black Notebook, pp. 41-43, referenced  to Archival # 43173, v. 1, pp. 8, 8a, 9, 9a.

A Xerox of the Original Pavlov’s Orientation, “Political and diplomatical line of work” with a handwritten notation on the bottom of its first page – providing the same archival reference as in Vassiliev’s notes and what looks like the June 1994 date and some register number of the copy taken.

Political and diplomatic line of work (Plan)

File 43173 v. 1

[Pencilled in the top left corner:






[to] Comr. Apresyan

6/IV 42

TOP SECRET

POLITICAL AND DIPLOMATIC LINES OF WORK

[handwritten 0n the bottom of the page:

No 170/542                                   arch 43173 v. 1

[penciled] 01.06.94             p. 8, 8a, 9, 9a (2 sheets)

Black Notebook, p. 42






“We are interested in the plans developed by the government for conducting foreign and domestic policy of the country; [in] all the accompanying machinations, backstage negotiations, intrigues – [in] everything that is done before one or another government decision becomes public knowledge. The task is to penetrate into those places where [the policy] is being conceived, [where it] is being developed; into the places where arguments and debates take place, where the policy is being made. In the USA, such places are: the White house with Roosevelt’s staff, State Department, various ministries, government commissions, OPM and others, as well as intelligence and counterintelligence agencies – FBI and Donovan’s bureau, etc. These are the objects that [we] have taken as a starting point in our work.”




On the work of W.h.: working [people] whom Roosevelt knows in person (Morgenthau, Hopkins, Ickes, Welles etc.) on the basis of personal contacts, oral reports, personal envoys.

Black Notebook, p. 43

Using the channels of such ministries, as the department of State, War, Navy and others with the purpose of maintaining konspiratsija.




“It is thus understandable that penetration into the Roosevelt circle is the ultimate goal we pursue in our day-to-day work.”


Thus far, there are no agents [agentury], but there are approaches. One of Roosevelt’s secretaries “Page” is used blind.





Lead: through the source “Diane” to involve the secretary of Harry Hopkins.


To direct “Lisa” to work at some charity society headed by Eleanor Roosevelt to get closer with her.”

p. 8

The objects the workers on this line should concentrate their attention on are determined by the structure and government of this particular country.

We are interested in the plans developed by the government for conducting foreign and domestic policy of the country; [in] all the accompanying machinations, backstage negotiations, intrigues – [in] everything that is done before one or another government decision becomes public knowledge.

The task is to penetrate into those places where [the policy] is being conceived, [where it] is being developed; into the places where arguments and debates take place, where the policy is being made.

In the USA, such places are the WHITE HOUSE with Roosevelt’s staff, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, various Government Departments, government commissions, like OPM and others, as well as intelligence and counterintelligence agencies – FBI and Donovan‘s bureau, etc.

These are the objects that [we] have taken as a starting point in our work.

WHITE HOUSE – [is] the brain of the foreign and domestic policy of the USA, a place all political and diplomatic information is coming to.

The President’s staff consists of a number of people with whom the President is personally close, such as Morgenthau, Hopkins, Ickes, Welles and others, as well as a staff of personal secretaries, advisers and experts in various questions.

The work here is based on personal contacts, oral reports, private envoys, in all important and key matters avoiding the channels of such ministries as the Department of State, War, Navy and other [departments], with the purpose of maintaining konspiratsija.

It is thus understandable that penetration into the Roosevelt circle is the ultimate goal we pursue in our day-to-day work.

Unfortunately, we do not yet have any agents there; however, we have threads that stretch to the President himself and to his secretaries. For instance, we are currently using, however blind, one of Roosevelt’s personal secretaries. At present, we see it as our goal to use him most efficiently with a far range goal of shifting him into our agent work mold. /We are discussing sub-source “Page“/.

The second, however even vaguer lead in the same direction is [an attempt to] involve a secretary of Harry Hopkins through our source “Diane”.

“Diane” is personally acquainted with this girl and we have assigned [her] to develop this acquaintance with the purpose of studying the object targeted for recruitment.

We also hope to direct our source, “Lisa” to work at some charity society headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. Having demonstrated herself [positively] during the work, “Lisa” will probably manage to get closer to the President’s wife.

p.8a

Is well received in the government circles, visits the W. h. without ceremony source “Nigel.”





State dep-t.


Highly valuable agent “19th.” Our illegal operative has resumed contact with him after a long break. “It is necessary to qualify [this by saying] that the residency has never used all the opportunities of this source. Under various pretexts, the “19th” had tried to avoid the work. Now he is in the same mood, as obvious from his reaction to resuming contact with him.”






Task: to penetrate into the Russian and European departments, as well as into the department of information and the archive [department].



The Ministry of Finance. The group of “Pal” (agent) which includes “Jurist”, “Saks”, “Pik” and “Polo.” Used blind.








Of great importance – the work of the War Production Board.

– 2 –

Source “Nigel“, due to his social standing, is well received in the government circles, visits the White House without ceremony. It is not our goal to use him in this particular direction, since we think that he has more promising, from our standpoint, possibilities. However, we should not exclude receiving information through him from the functions of his work with us. We have sent the details of the plan of “Nigel”‘s use in a letter No 1 of the current year.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE – the clearinghouse for diplomatic information and sending instructions to American diplomatic missions.

Here we have one highly valuable agent – “19th” – with whom our illegal operative has resumed contact after a long break. However, it is necessary to qualify [this by saying] that the residency has never used all the opportunities of this source. Under various pretexts, the “19th” had tried to avoid the work. Now he is in the same mood, as obvious from his reaction to resuming contact with him. For this reason, the operative in contact with the “19th” faces a huge task of educating this agent and of maximum use of all his possibilities.

The source “Nigel” used to be hired by the State Department twice, and had resigned from his job twice. Using his contacts, he may provide information to us, however, this is not the most important thing in [our] work with him.

We set it as our goal to penetrate into the Russian and European departments, as well as into the department of information and the archive [department]. For this purpose, the “19th” has been given an assignment, along with illuminating the work in the “Circus”, to provide profiles” of the people working in the above said departments.

The situation with cultivating the Ministry of Treasury looks better. The group of “Pal” which includes “Jurist,Saks,” “Pik” and “Polo” is at present the most efficient among the agent network we possess. However, at present only “Pal” is our agent, all the rest are used by us blind.

In early March of the current year, we received a report from the res-[idenc]-y that “Jurist” and “Pal” had received a new assignment that is of great interest to us. Our task is [to make] maximum use of them at present, and to shift them gradually completely into our channel – in the future.

A detailed orientation in this matter has been given in the most recent letter to the residency.

In the wartime situation, the work of the War Production Board assumes great importance.

To know in advance the production plans, manufacturing and shipment terms; to know all the functioning leverages of this complicated capitalist machine with its combination of the general goals pursued by the government and






p. 9  “Agent “Zero” with whom a contact has recently been established, works as a secretary of a defense commission. We do not yet know all her possibilities, however, in view of her being our trusted person, we think that through her we will be able to obtain leads on the people of interest to us.”








“Committee of Donovan – “Ratsiya” – organized under the President’s direct supervision, is at present highly active in building up a powerful centralized intelligence apparatus, involving in its work various government and private agencies of the USA.

Our task is – taking advantage of the organizational period – to infiltrate our people there and to [undertake] cultivation with their assistance. There are approaches, but no sources.

– 3 –

private goals and interest. To know which of the “springs” may turn most efficient in one or another of our undertakings – this is what we need.

However, ours are no more than vague preliminary outlines of a possibility of penetrating into that place.

Agent “Zero” with whom a contact has recently been established, works as a secretary of a defense commission. We do not yet know all her possibilities, however, in view of her being our trusted person, we think that through her we will be able to obtain leads on the people of interest to us.

“Anyuta” works at OPM Committee as secretary and shorthand reporter; we have decided not to recruit her for the time being, since at present her possibilities are not worth it; still, we think to keep an eye on her and to obtain materials from her periodically, so that to have an idea of what she may be able to do for us.

With all this said, we have not taken this area or work into active cultivation. With a deeper and more careful scrutiny, it will be possible and necessary to find ways for penetrating into it, and this will be our next task.

DONOVAN’S COMMITTEE –

“RATSIYA” – organized under the President’s direct supervision, is at present highly active in building up a powerful centralized intelligence apparatus, involving in its work various government and private agencies of the USA.

Our task is – taking advantage of the organizational period – to infiltrate our people there and to [undertake] cultivation with their assistance.

Through our source “Dir“, we have learned that the well-known American intelligence agent who is rather prominent in the country’s politics – W. Lippman – is connected with Donovan (code name “Dictor”). We have given “Dir” an assignment to ascertain the nature of this contact and using this channel to cultivate “Ratsiya”, along with cultivation of Lippman himself.

Our second source, “Mirage,” works at the newly created committee on coordination of all cultural activities between the countries of Southern and Northern America. This committee is headed by Nelson Rockefeller.

The first material we received has demonstrated that the threads from “Ratsiya” are running towards this committee as well. Hence, we consider the committee of Rockefeller (code name “Cabaret”) as the second opportunity for cultivating “Ratsiya”.

There is also another opportunity taking shape for cultivating this organization. Our source “El'” [she] in her latest report has informed us that John Wiley with whom she had recently got acquainted and who, allegedly is Donovan’s deputy, had offered her a job at “Ratsiya”. “El'” has been given an assignment to develop this acquaintance, however the recent arrest of “El'”‘s friend and a search at her place made us slow down in pursuing this affair. We are ascertaining the reasons for the arrest.

In her recent report, the source “Lira” mentioned among the radio commentators she knew the name of Joseph Barnes who had been appointed by the President to work as a radio commentator at the “Ratsiya” committee.

Our source “President” is also familiar with Joseph Barnes, so we got down to his detailed vetting in view of his possible








p. 9a

“Summing up all the above said, we see the following shortcomings in the work on this line:

1. Inadequate use of all the possibilities of the agent network at our disposal.

2. Many areas have remained absolutely “closed” for us. Particularly it is necessary to emphasize that the war forces us to make major emphasize on illuminating the work of military industry, which we have thus far achieved in a highly insignificant measure.

Black Notebook 44

We must try to learn not just the current policy, but also the policy of tomorrow – this is our task.

– 4 –

use.

Source “President” has recently taken a job in Washington at the German department of the “Foreign Broadcasting Monitoring Service,” that was organized not long ago under the supervision of “Ratsiya” committee. This is one of the most probable opportunities for active cultivation of “Ratsiya”. That was the reason why in response to the latest report from the residency that the position of the “President” had been shaken due to suspicions that he worked for the reds, we responded that it was necessary to make everything possible to secure him in this job.

Summing up all the above said, we see the following shortcomings in the work on this line:

1. Inadequate use of all the possibilities of the agents at our disposal.

2. Many areas have remained absolutely “closed” for us. Particularly it is necessary to emphasize that the war forces us to make major emphasize on illuminating the work of military industry, which we have thus far achieved in a highly insignificant measure.


We must try to learn not just the current policy, but also the policy of tomorrow – this is our task.

The rest of our sources: “Davydov”, “Informator, “Lisa” and “Fakir” are used mostly for obtaining politinformation.

[hand-written]

(Orientation compiled by c.[omrade] Pavlov)


More than a dozen years after the Pavlov “Orientation” was first brought to the attention of American historians, it remains a document awaiting a champion and an interpreter. Here is how it has fared so far:

Pavlov’s April 6, 1942 Orientation in The Haunted Wood by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev (Random House, 1999)

In April 1942, the writer of the “Orientation,” Captain Vitaly Pavlov, was head of the American division of NKGB foreign intelligence. This same intelligence operative appears by name only once in The Haunted Wood (on page 137), as the writer of a July 1954 report to Alexander Panyushkin, then head of the KGB foreign intelligence. Yet from 1939 through the middle of 1942, Pavlov had been supervising the American line of NKGB Foreign Intelligence.

Pavlov’s “Orientation” is briefly excerpted in The Haunted Wood (on pages 160 to 161), without attribution; the document is, moreover, misidentified as a “dispatch from Moscow” to its U.S. station, when in fact it was an internal assessment (an “orientation,” as it is originally described in the bottom of the Xerox copy of the document) written for  Moscow Center’s operatives a few months before Pavlov left Russia for his next assignment, as the NKGB Foreign Intelligence resident in Ottawa, Canada.

Here is the way this document appears in The Haunted Wood:

“… A precise understanding of U.S. intentions and perspectives – such as Silvermaster‘s August 5, 1941 account of the cabinet luncheon discussion – became a priority for Stalin and his colleagues, who turned to their intelligence networks in America, as this April 6, 1942 dispatch from Moscow indicated:

We are interested in the [U.S.] government’s plans for the country’s foreign and domestic policy, all machinations, backstage negotiations, intrigues, all that is done before this or that decision of the government becomes known to everybody…. The task is to penetrate into those places where policy is born and developed, where discussions and debates take place, where policy is completed. (The chapter’s footnote 26 references to file 43173, v. 1, p. 8.)

The NKGB leadership’s practical instruction accompanying this general mandate was to coordinate regular receipt of crucial secret information from all major sources within the government – the State Department and other cabinet ministries as well as the OSS, FBI, and other intelligence or counterintelligence bodies – but especially the White House. Moscow believed, correctly, that where possible, Roosevelt avoided using official government channels for fear of leaking information and losing control of policy. Thus, the April 6, 1942 memorandum concluded that “penetrating the surroundings of Roosevelt himself is the goal that we seek in our everyday work.”

(The chapter’s footnote 27, which cites the same KGB file, refers to, without quoting directly from, a detail from the same page of the Pavlov document: “Lauchlin Currie‘s (“Page’s”) role in conveying information from the White House to Soviet intelligence was also vital during these years. See, for example, New York station to Moscow, August 10, 1943, No. 1317, VENONA files.” The next sentence in the text of The Haunted Wood following the passage quoted here reads: “In practice, this meant seeking access to a small circle of the President’s closest friends and associates such as Harry Hopkins and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau (hence the crucial importance of sources such as Lauchlin Currie and Harry Dexter White).”)

After this quick glimpse into an early passage in Pavlov’s “Orientation,” Allen Weinstein jumps to other subjects. In doing so, he ignores an extraordinary document that is, at this point, the only known authentic and contemporaneous view into the real state of Soviet political intelligence at that time – a detailed, step-by-step description of the NKGB’s targets, leads and assets in targeted agencies of the U.S. government. Perhaps Allen Weinstein has sound reasons for paying more attention to the fragmentary information in the small fraction of early 1940s Soviet cable traffic captured by the U.S.’s Venona decrypts than he does to the riches in the Pavlov “Orientation.” But if he has such reasons, he fails to spell them out.

Pavlov’s April 6, 1942 Orientation in Spies: the Rise and Fall of the KGB in America by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev (Yale University Press, 2009)

Pavlov’s “Orientation” had even less luck in SPIES, the second book constructed from the KGB documents shown to Alexander Vassiliev during his 1994 and 1995 research into KGB intelligence files. In SPIES, the “Orientation” has no voice at all, remaining unmentioned, un-cited, and unquoted from. The name of its writer, Vitaly Pavlov (“Klim“) is also absent from all of the book’s chapters, even though Pavlov served as Moscow’s chief “curator” [“curator”] of NKVD foreign intelligence operations in the United States from early 1939 to mid-1942. Pavlov’s name emerges only in a few footnotes to Chapter 8 (“Celebrities and Obsessions”):

42. … Conversation with “John,” 27 January 1950 (conducted by Pavlov and Kovalenok); Conversation with “John,” 28 January 1950 (conducted by Pavlov and Kovalenok); … KGB file 30595, v.3, pp. 63-81, 93-99, Vassiliev, Yellow
#3, 54-56, 61-62.

47. … KGB Vienna to Moscow Center, 1 June 1954; Moscow Center to KGB Vienna, 3 July 1954; Pavlov to Panyushkin, 24 July 1954; …

70. … “Tikhon” to Pavlov, reply to letter of 27 September 1952; Gorsky annotation, 30 December 1952; … KGB file 77273, pp. 188-93, 198, Vassiliev, White #2, 124-26.