Los Alamos, part of the vast government project to create the first atomic weapons. Courtesy photo
SANTA FE ― Recursos de Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Council on International Relations (CIR) presents “The KGB and Soviet Espionage,” a lecture by John Haynes and Harvey Elliott Klehr, two leading experts in Soviet espionage.
The lecture is 5-7 p.m., May 19 at the Forum on the campus of the Santa Fe University of Art & Design.
People generally think that the Soviet espionage against the American atomic project was highly successful. It was successful, but the historical evidence also shows that the picture was more complicated. The KGB began its attack very early in 1942 and met nothing but disappointments, repeated failed attempts at recruitment, wild goose chases, and misunderstandings. Then came considerable success in 1944 and 1945. In 1946 every penetration that we know of that the KGB had into the American atomic program ended and attempts to generate new sources in the late 40s failed.
“Espionage was one of General Groves’ main concerns during the Manhattan Project,” said Ellen Bradbury Reid, president of the board of Recursos de Santa Fe, who grew up in Los Alamos. “For all of the attention paid to secrecy and counter-intelligence, spies were still able to penetrate the project and steal information about the atomic bomb.”
Most of the KGB’s efforts were concentrated in Santa Fe and important events took place at landmarks here, including the Scottish Rite Temple, a drugstore on the Plaza, the bridge by El Castillo, 109 East Palace, the office of Dorothy McKibben who checked every one into Los Alamos.
Haynes and Klehr examine the ways scholars have ignored or distorted new evidence from recently opened Russian archives about espionage links between Moscow and the Communist Party of the USA. They analyze the mythology that continues to suggest, against all evidence, that Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, and others who betrayed the United States were more sinned against than sinners. They set the record straight about the spies among us. Haynes and Klehr were the first U.S. historians who used the newly opened archives of the former Soviet Union to examine the history of American communism. Their 1995 book, “The Secret World of American Communism” explores this.
Harvey Klehr, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Politics and History at Emory University, and John Earl Haynes, retired to Santa Fe after twenty-five years as 20th Century Political Historian at the Library of Congress, together and separately have published fourteen books on American communism, anticommunism, and Soviet espionage. Their latest book is “Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943” (Yale University Press, 2014).