my grandfather -- the almost spy #general
Hilary Henkin <hilary@...>
I'd like to add to Todd's account that if you have good reason totoggle quoted messageShow quoted text
think there might be a FBI etc. file, and if you get a response to
your inquiry that no records were found, you have the right to appeal.
A few years ago, I'd sent in an FBI FOIA request for a relative of
mine. It was common family knowledge that he was a "Communist", and
that the FBI watched him, and restricted his movements.
My request came back "no file found", as did the appeal. Then last
year, I sent in a new request (not mentioning the first request at
all), and this time received almost 30 pages. Nothing
earth-shattering or genealogically significant, but very interesting
to know. A a matter of fact, there was nothing at all to merit
suspicion, other than he'd once signed a pro-communist petition, and
the furrier's union he was a member of was known to have Communist
backing. Ah, the days of Hoover and McCarthy
At 08:49 AM 3/2/2006, Todd Brody wrote:
In the 1950s, my grandfather travelled to the former
Soviet Union to participate in fur auctions. When my
brothers and I were kids, my grandfather used to tell
us how he was followed by the KGB on his way >from the
hotel to the synagogue in Leningrad.
On a lark, I decided to send a FOIA ("Freedom of
Information Act") request to the FBI and CIA to see if
they had any files on my grandfather. The letter took
about thirty minutes to write (there are sample FOIA
requests on the websites of both agencies) and the
total cost of the request was the price of a stamp.
Within a week I received my first letters >from the CIA
and FBI telling me that they were reviewing the
request and asking for additional information. (My
wife who saw the mail first said to me "oh my god
Todd, what are you doing now!" -- she isn't as
interested in family history as I am.
A few weeks ago a received a letter >from the CIA
saying that they had no files on my grandfather. So I
figured that this wasn't going to lead anywhere.
That's okay, I didn't really expect anything.
Yesterday, I got a big envelope >from the FBI, which
contained his whole case file, including interviews
with my grandfather (which discuss in detail his trips
to the Soviet Union) and evaluations as to whether he
might be able to serve as a "potential security
informant" or "double agent." The file reads like a
John Le Carre novel. Ultimately, the FBI decided that
he would not be a good spy because he didn't speak
enough Russian and was only in the Soviet Union for
2-3 weeks per year.
My grandfather died a couple of years ago so I
couldn't discuss this with him. My grandmother never
knew about his contact with the FBI -- or so she says!
Did this FOIA request get me any new genealogical
information? Not really. But it did provide a lot of
detail about a part of my grandfather's life that I
never really knew about. And it also refreshed my
grandmother's own memories, which is also helpful. So
I guess that the lesson >from all of this is that there
is a lot of interesting information in unexpected
places and all you need to do is ask.
Searching: BRAUDE (Telz, Alsiad, Plotel), GLASS (Sandomierz, Montreal),
ROSENBERG (Skaryszew, Montreal), GROSSER (Sieniawa, Przemysl, Jaroslaw), LAMM
(Sieniawa, Przemysl, Jaroslaw), FRANKFORT (Sieniawa), ARFA (Biezun, Zuromin,
Sierpc, Plock), MAJ ((Biezun, Zuromin, Sierpc, Plock).
Sylvia Furshman Nusinov
Adding to Hilary's answer to Todd's original message re the FBI:
When I requested copies of my Dad's Naturalization and Citizenship documents
from the Miami INS years ago, I was surprised to receive, in return - athick batch of papers.
In addition to the 1958 Petition for Naturalization and my Dad's Citizenship
papers, were copies of his original "green card" [Alien Registration] and a
U.S. Department of Justice Investigative Form!
Stamped at the bottom of the sheet were the words: "No investigation
conducted by FBI pertinent to your inquiry. This is a result of a request for
an FBI check only and is not to be considered as a clearance."
A box is checked: Reason for Request:"Naturalization".
I've never given this form a second thought - since there wasn't anything
negative about it!
Only relief on my part!
Sylvia Furshman Nusinov
ABELMAN, ARONSON, DOROGOI, FRUCHT/FURSHMAN, FURSTMAN, GORDON, MELC,
SHEINKEROVICH, SHIMENOVITZ, Kaunas,Vilnius, Moletai,Ukmerge, Lithuania
AVNER, AWNER,WECHSLER, EHRENPREIS,FRIEDHOFFER, Ukraine
NOUSSINOFF/NUSINOV, LENTOTCHNIK/LENT, Ukraine