This article assesses the activities of US intelligence services in early Cold War Austria along four separate, albeit linked axes. The organizations under observation, namely, Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Strategic Services Unit (SSU) Austria, as well as (to a lesser extent) Central Intelligence Group (CIG) Austria, are explored differently than as in the past, cast not as cogs within a larger intelligence machinery directed from Washington, DC (headquarters) but rather as relatively autonomous producers of regional intelligence that was disseminated locally, laterally, and up the inner-organizational chain of command (“the field”). Key to discovering how OSS, SSU, and CIG evolved in Austria (rather than as the result of changes effected in Washington, DC, or its surroundings) are the interactions between middle management in Austria and senior leadership in Washington, several of whom were former “field” men (or women) themselves. Austrian-based staffing and reporting, operational successes and failures, as well as biographical sketches of several key individuals in question are presented, allowing for fresh insights into how each organization actually operated in Austria to be gained. Through studying these aspects jointly, the authors posit the emergence of a unique intelligence culture among US intelligence officers shaped by their shared Austrian experience, perhaps denoting a more efficient and fruitful approach to local and regional peculiarities.

We have no heart to become orphans over here at the mercy of a spit-and-polish army stepfather.

Alfred C. Ulmer Jr. (September 1945)

The broad strokes of US intelligence service activities in early Cold War Austria have been outlined by a variety of talented and competent researchers.1 In no way does this contribution seek to call into question their (in many cases) groundbreaking and unique findings. At the same time, following the successive declassification of ever more sensitive records, particularly the so-called withdrawn material by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), pursuant in part to the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act in 2000, it is prudent to reflect on how these documents impact our collective understanding of the organizations involved, specifically, the personnel ofnonmilitary US intelligence agencies.2

This article goes about accomplishing the above in four separate, albeit linked manners. First, the organizations under observation, namely, Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Strategic Services Unit (SSU) Austria, as well as (to a lesser extent) Central Intelligence Group (CIG) Austria, are explored differently than they have been in the past, that is to say, not as cogs within a larger intelligence machinery directed from Washington, DC, but as relatively autonomous providers of an intelligence product that was disseminated locally (to consumers in different branches of the US government active in Austria), laterally (to other offices of the same organization, primarily the Italian and German missions), and up the chain of inner-organizational command, extending to the US capital.3 In other words, this article showcases how OSS, SSU, and CIG actually operated in Austria (“the field”) rather than as they were prescribed to based on the manifold organizational directives and strategies enacted in Washington, DC, or its surroundings (headquarters).

Key to understanding how such dissonance between the field and headquarters could not only be tolerated, but also supported, is the second focus of our article. The personal interactions between what constituted field leadership in Austria (middle management) and senior management in Washington, many of whom were former field men (or women) themselves, is essential.4 Illuminating these interpersonal relationships allows for fresh insights into how each organization actually operated in Austria to be gained, supporting the hypotheses that: (1) a largely unbroken continuity from OSS to SSU to CIG existed, and (2) that battle lines between “organizational culture and organizational structure” were not as clear-cut between headquarters and the field as has been believed.5

The third aspect of this article, which overlaps contextually with the previous two, is a brief organizational summary and exploration of OSS and SSU Austria’s successes and failures. In the final part, several of the main figures introduced in the previous three sections are examined in greater detail, showcasing not only their professional qualities, experience, and capabilities, but, more poignantly, how they were influenced by or adopted Central European/Austrian outlooks, mannerisms, and characteristics the longer they spent “in country.”6 In several cases, long friendships and marriages resulted from the shared experience of Austria. As we argue, owing to the positions that many of these personnel later rose to within the US Defense and Intelligence hierarchies, how they produced intelligence as well as the organizational culture(s) of OSS, SSU, CIG, and likely, CIA in Austria (and beyond) were impacted. Although none “went native,” trading their figurative swords for ploughshares in Austria, our subjects did shift their perceptions away from those held by their colleagues and superiors in Washington, where a different (and on occasion, contradictory) organizational structure and world outlook crystallized. Although equally valid, this structure was often at odds with conditions in the field, making the development of a more capable and effective “local” organizational culture in Austria understandable.

New Organizational Insights

Chronologically speaking, our study addresses September 1945 up to the summer of 1947 coinciding with the dissolution of OSS and the formation of CIA, respectively. However, in a practical sense, the records consulted taper off from mid-October 1946 onward, owing to the nearly complete integration of SSU into CIG. Records for the latter are believed (by and large) to remain classified.7 Despite this obstacle, it is possible to draw several generalizations that are relevant to the period (September 1945–November 1946) and believed to be applicable up to the summer of 1947, if not beyond.8

First, apart from personnel and staffing issues, formal organizational changes (from OSS to SSU, and SSU to CIG) had little real impact on how US nonmilitary intelligence structures in Austria (or other European missions and stations) operated. Such a statement might be derided as blasphemous by scholars of the bureaucratic or Washington-centric histories of the organizations under study.9 However, clear differences did exist between what was set to paper along the Potomac and what officers based on the Danube actually did or thought.10

Dissonance between headquarters and the field is evidenced from as early as the advent of SSU in October of 1945 and is certainly a carryover from OSS days.11 Decisions reached stateside were only felt abroad in the form of cables, pouches (large physical collections of cables and reports), or, even more rarely, as the topic of discussion at individual visits to the US capital or various European cities (typically London, Rome, Berne, Wiesbaden, or Heidelberg).12 Sapping even more of the urgency of top-down directives was that days, weeks, or even months could elapse between receipt, acknowledgment, and reply of communiques, for both administrative and operational memoranda.13 Compounding this was a physical separation from the US and American culture, which for many OSS and SSU personnel (including most of our protagonists) amounted to years.14

One positive effect of this “distance” was that struggles among the machinery of the US federal government, then raging in Washington, had little bearing on how those same organizations interacted with one another in places then so far afield as Austria. As the ever-colorful Al Ulmer points out:

The obstructionist tactics of a neighboring government agency would have killed the interest of most of us here, had we the ill fortune to be in Washington waging the battle; we consider ourselves lucky to be over here grinding out reports instead of in your shoes.15

In Austria, however, OSS and SSU actively collaborated with those same agencies locally on a regular (and fruitful) basis. As just two examples, the US Army was reported to have “provided a world of cooperation” while State Department officials “unbend as much as within their nature to work along with us.”16 While running the Austrian Secret Intelligence (SI) Desk within SSU Austria, Charles B. Friediger, an Austrian emigrant, expressed a sentiment similar to Ulmer’s in the summer of 1946, going into slightly more detail:

Close relations between SI operatives and officially accredited US representatives are essential during the occupation period. The simplest living needs in the present period demand the continuous assistance of the Army in the way of billets, rations, transportation, communications, etc. Special attention is drawn to the fact that the Austrian desk during the occupation period is supplying G-2 with a great amount of spot news which is not strictly SSU material. This contribution of SSU, which seems to be fully appreciated by G-2, is probably contributing toward the comparative high degree of harmony between the two services. In the post-occupation period, SSU will be able to render similar services to State and other US agencies. While the support of the Army is now needed, the support of the State Department will be needed in the post-occupation period. The system of take and give is a good one.17

Elsewhere, US military commanders in Germany and Austria, as well as State Department officials in Hungary, Switzerland, and across Europe seem to have overwhelmingly appreciated and valued the work that their compatriots in SSU were doing, being more than eager to lend a hand where possible.18 That CIG Austria operated under State Department (Legation) cover in the middle of 1947 implies that the relationship remained good even after SSU ceased operations in October of 1946.19

What all of this suggests is that bureaucratic hostilities were largely confined to Washington and that everyone in the field played for the “same team.”20 In fact, one of the few problems that SSU Austria did identify in its liaisons with other US authorities it collaborated with in 1946 was actually with its sister branch, SSU Italy, headed by James Angleton Jr.21 In the same document, no adverse mention is made of State or the US Army.

The disconnect between the organizational structures of Washington and the organizational culture developing in Austria also seems to have grown owing to the large number of staff who continued from organization to organization in the field, but here, too, making a clear distinction is not possible.22 This is because a number of field personnel were promoted to positions of authority in Washington.23

One result of such continuity was the fostering of a culture of informality throughout OSS and SSU Austria. Personnel promoted to senior managerial positions in Washington often came from the field and thus, understood its peculiarities. For Austria, Howard M. Chapin, Richard Helms, and Evelyn M. Williams provide excellent examples of this. Chapin, formerly head of Secret Intelligence Central Europe (SICE) and later OSS Austria, took over the Central-European Scandinavian SI Section in Washington in October of 1945, leaving OSS Austria entirely in the care of Lt. Col. Charles W. Thayer.24 Helms’s trajectory was similar to Chapin’s, albeit his time was spent in occupied Germany, including quadripartite Berlin. After his resignation from SSU in January of 1946, Helms took a “leap of faith” and was rehired to the Washington staff to replace Maj. Hans V. Tofte on short notice (another field man who himself had taken over Chapin’s role barely a month earlier) in February.25 Williams, a lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and attached to X-2 Germany at the end of the war, was rehired to SSU in January of 1946 to manage the Austrian counterintelligence desk.26

Informality or familiarity was apparent in terms of not only personnel selection or promotions, but also duties and responsibilities. Middle managers often performed tasks wholly different from those that their titles or job descriptions suggested, in some cases doing what their ostensible supervisors, subordinates, or even other organizations should have.27 Such a divergence between the organizational structure of SSU and the various cultures that developed in the field is even codified in SSU’s General Outline of November 1945 where the organization is officially divided between “headquarters” and “the field.”28

At least in Austria, the lack of noninterference by Washington was tacitly welcomed, although it did create confusion elsewhere.29 Well into 1946, steps were taken only after those in the field recognized it as a problem (i.e., the initiative for greater centralized supervision came from the bottom up, rather than from the top down).30

It would be wrong, however, to confuse institutional familiarity and a willingness to seize the initiative as implicitly unprofessional or inefficient, even when they might appear so. As an example, a September 1946 memoranda from Washington calling for an immediate end to using interoffice stationery with OSS or SSU letterhead and markings from headquarters appears to have been ignored by SSU/CIG Austria personnel.31 This was because SSU Austria had begun to gradually “phase out” referring to itself as such as part of new cover arrangements with US Forces Austria (USFA) entering into force in June of that year.32 As such, Washington was several months behind the field.

What the above hopefully demonstrates is that structurally dividing US nonmilitary intelligence efforts along the timelines of the organizations to which they belonged does not provide much practical insight into how these organizations actually operated in Austria (and most likely, elsewhere), since they subscribed to and crafted a markedly different culture. Similarly, the discrepancy was not simply between the field and headquarters but, rather, between personnel who had field experience, or tenure with OSS and/or SSU, and those who might be termed organizational or institutional outsiders or newcomers. With that said, there are two notable (and intertwined) caveats where the relationship with Washington headquarters was formal, namely, personnel and budgetary matters.

OSS/SSU Austria

In Austria major departures were mandated from above (and that is to say, driven by forces external to OSS or SSU) and adhered to, taking place from roughly September 1945 until January 1946, before starting up again in March and April of 1946. Understanding for these was in short supply in the field, with Ulmer noting: “The recently ordered drastic personnel cut [by Washington] is being effected at a time when all agencies in the theater are calling more and more on the branch for procurement of specific items of intelligence” (emphasis added).33

From the end of May 1946, departures again slowed, and replacements were hired to make up for staff attrition. As Richard Helms, by then heading Foreign Branch M in Washington (albeit still only as acting chief), wrote to Ulmer in early July:

Things are really looking good these days, and I understand that he [Burton Lifschultz] is a valuable member of your organization. Please indicate to him that we would certainly like to have him stay on and that prospects for continued employment are definitely good. The above is no intention of mine to get into a situation which I know you have in hand, but I thought perhaps Washington assurances of a good future might help you to keep him.34

Again, despite being senior management, as a former field man Helms was able to understand and address Ulmer’s concerns in the field, as though he were in the same position, even going so far as to note the difference between the two areas. In addition, the ability to not only retain staff, but offer them something akin to career prospects signals a marked change from the situation that had prevailed since October 1945.

This change is key, as from an all-time high of 194 personnel as of August 31, 1945, within the space of around one year, SSU Austria shrunk by 80 percent (37 personnel) compared to its predecessor.35Table 1 lists an approximation of OSS and SSU Austria personnel strength based on monthly progress reports.

Table 1

Personnel Staffing Levels of OSS and SSU Austria, August 1945–July 1946

YearEnd of MonthPersonnel Staffing
1945  OSS Austria 
 August 194a 
 September 145b 
1945  SSU Austria 
 October 134c 
 November 80b 
 December 69d 
1946  SSU Austria 
 January 45e 
 February 54f 
 March 55g 
 April 42h 
 May 38i 
 June 36j 
 July 37k 
YearEnd of MonthPersonnel Staffing
1945  OSS Austria 
 August 194a 
 September 145b 
1945  SSU Austria 
 October 134c 
 November 80b 
 December 69d 
1946  SSU Austria 
 January 45e 
 February 54f 
 March 55g 
 April 42h 
 May 38i 
 June 36j 
 July 37k 

Cf. Monthly Report OSS Austria, September 28, 1945, Entry 99, Box 34, Folder 3, Record Group 226, NARA II (all sources are RG 226, NARA II).


Cf. Exhibit 1, Present and Contemplated Future Strength of SSU, March 7, 1946, Entry 210, Box 134, WN 06272.


Cf. OSS Personnel Services Analysis, undated, in ibid.


Cf. Roster by Branches, SSU WD Austria, December 14, 1945, Entry 210, Box 342, WN 13352–60.


Vienna to Washington, #3917, November 10, 1945, Entry 88, Box 659, Folder In Plain Vien 001-099.


Cf. Fortier, Klaus, Walker, Cullen, Boberg to Rear Adm. Sidney W. Souers, Report of Survey of Strategic Services Unit under CIG directive no. 1, March 14, 1946, Entry 210, Box 314, WN 10846.


Cf. Alfred C. Ulmer to Chief, Personnel Branch, SSU Washington, Operational Charts and Personnel Needs, March 7, 1946, Entry 210, Box 342, WN 13352–60.


Austria Personnel as of April 15, 1946, in ibid.


This is an estimate based on personnel departures noted in May reporting; however, owing to in-transfers and returns from temporary duty elsewhere, the actual figure might be slightly different. See Ruth E. Bradfield, Special Order No. 11 SSU Austria, May 15, 1946, in ibid.


Cf. Kingman Douglas to Colonel Galloway, July 9, 1946, Entry 210, Box 310, WN 10831.


Cf. Viena to Washf, #312 (In 40133), August 6, 1946, Entry 210, Box 457, WN 17008-17010.

In the chain of command, although a civilian-military hybrid, OSS elements arriving in Austria in May 1945 remained subordinate to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, United States Army (MTOUSA), before being transferred on August 21 to the command of United States Forces European Theater (USFET), the successor of European Theater of Operations, United States Army (ETOUSA) and officially organized as OSS Austria.36 Simultaneously, OSS Austria was put under the command of USFA.37 As noted at the time:

The activation [of OSS Austria] did not signalize the birth of an infant organization, but conferred official unit status upon an organization which has operated continuously in Austria longer than any other agency of the US government, military or civilian. This unit, whose operations on Austrian territory reach back well into 1944 and whose open existence in Austria antedates V-E Day, has passed safely beyond the initial stages of organization and expansion and has settled down as a well-established, productive intelligence organization.38

Despite being a “well-established, productive intelligence organization,” OSS Austria was officially disbanded at the end of September/beginning of October 1945, and replaced by SSU Austria, overseen organizationally by the US War Department. It should be noted that a number of other US intelligence organizations did operate in Austria concurrently, among them the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC),39 as well as Army (G-2) and Air Force Intelligence (A-2); however, these were full military organizations, whereas SSU was a sort of civilian-military hybrid, “an orphan [. . .] at the mercy of a spit-and-polish army stepfather.”40 Although the authors have found no indications that The Pond operated in Austria (as it did in neighboring Hungary), until more documentary evidence concerning that organization comes to light, the possibility that it maintained a presence in Austria during the period cannot be categorically ruled out.41

Around the beginning of February 1946, organizational change did grip SSU, but more so in Washington than the field.42 The newly created Central Intelligence Group (CIG) commenced its lengthy process of evaluating SSU, culminating in the former’s October 19, 1946, gobbling up of the latter.43

On paper, the organizational changes that accompanied the creation of CIG appear far-reaching. For example, in June of 1946, SI and X-2 were abolished and replaced by the Foreign Security Reports Office (FSRO), headed by a chief and composed of various foreign branches, which included several national (country-based) stations or missions.44 In reality, this changeover simply saw regional chiefs (in the case of Austria, Richard Helms), renamed branch chiefs and officially given responsibility for handling local matters that they had informally addressed in the past, albeit with a new degree of separation between them and senior management.45 Making matters even more complicated, SI and X-2 were renamed Foreign Reports Branch (FRB) and Security Control Branch (SCB), which at least in Austria would be merged with one another in around three months’ time.46 This laborious and highly bureaucratic process did not have particular bearing upon the personnel make-up, collection capabilities, or operational efforts of SSU Austria, representing far less of a caesura than has been believed to date.47

Instead of heralding the beginning of a new, more “hands-on” managerial style, structural developments originating from Washington appear to have had the opposite effect, further exacerbating the distance between it and the field. The Fortier Commission of February and March 1946, which signaled CIG’s first fact-finding exploration of SSU, only interviewed Washington-based personnel, noting in its official report:

No investigation was made by the Committee of the field stations and missions of SSU in Europe, Asia and Africa. In this respect, the Committee had to rely on representations made by Washington staff personnel, on the cursory perusal of some old field reports, and on conversations with a few former field operatives of OSS. [. . .] No detailed examination was conducted of the particular capabilities or productivity of individual, Washington, or field personnel.48

Thus, the only overarching organizational change for SSU Austria, so far as the records show, was the renaming of the Central-European Scandinavian SI Section in Washington, DC, to Foreign Branch M in June of 1946 and the new names assigned to SI (FRB) and X-2 (SCB).49

In terms of personnel, Helms continued to oversee Ulmer (by then mission chief of SSU Austria) from February 1946 until (at least) the middle of October 1946. The earliest that this arrangement is believed to have changed is from the middle of 1947 when Ulmer and his wife returned to the United States (but remained with CIG). Figures 1 and 2 show the positive and counterintelligence structures of immediate relevance to OSS, SSU, CIG, and CIA Austria.

Figure 1

The evolution of positive intelligence in Europe pertaining to Austria

Figure 1

The evolution of positive intelligence in Europe pertaining to Austria

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Figure 2

Postwar US Counterintelligence hierarchy for Austria

Figure 2

Postwar US Counterintelligence hierarchy for Austria

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The Process

As has been touched upon above, OSS, SSU, and likely CIG Austria’s staff were divided into a number of different sections and branches. Information flowed from sources to officers before reaching unit heads (in the case of SSU Austria, depending on the date, within the local SI Branch, these could include “Special Projects,” the “Hungarian Intelligence Unit,” the “Vienna Intelligence Unit,” etc.). From there, branch chiefs (SI/FRB, X-2/SCI/SCB, Reports, Security, etc.) collected all reports from the personnel they oversaw, summarizing noteworthy matters, statistics, and insights, and creating monthly progress reports, which were forwarded to the mission chief. In turn, he and his staff picked out the highlights, drafting a mission/station report for the month that served as the cover letter to the individual monthly branch reports. Joined together, this packet of documents would be sent near the beginning of each month to Washington as a single progress report, typically numbering twenty to forty pages. There is no documentary evidence that this workflow changed significantly during the period under examination.

For the “producing” branches (specifically SI/FRB and X-2/SCI/SCB, as well as the combined FSRO from June 1946 on), there were also other paths of dissemination. As noted above, raw intelligence could be distributed “locally” to customers in Austria (such as the CIC, G-2, USFA, State) or “in theater” (AMZON, OMGUS), “laterally” to other European missions and stations of SSU (in Rome, Germany, London, Paris, etc.), or even directly to branch chiefs in Washington (this was especially common among X-2/SCI/SCB). In the case of the latter, X-2/SCI/SCB even sent along individual reports on operational matters in Austria to regional staff in Washington, largely/often skipping several steps in the established workflow.50

Further complicating production was that raw intelligence gathered and disseminated directly to customers (wherever they might be located) was not evaluated centrally in Washington prior to dissemination to other branches of the federal government, but often only within OSS and SSU Austria itself, owing to the divorce of the former’s Research and Analysis Branch, and its subsequent attachment to the State Department.51 Even here, on numerous occasions, those who should have been analyzing reports and processing them in Austria were tasked instead with translating them from German owing to the scarcity of native speakers.52 At other times, operatives or sources would be asked to translate their own reports, essentially skipping the (local) analytical branch altogether, which doubled as a control mechanism.53

Intelligence received in Washington and deemed pertinent might be disseminated further to local customers such as State or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who would then distribute it to representatives in country. These might have already received the same reports weeks or even months earlier, forming a highly inefficient loop. As can readily be ascertained, the process was imperfect, handicapped even further by the aforementioned delays in transmitting and processing.

Operational Successes and Failures of OSS and SSU Austria

Taking the above into account, the results achieved by OSS Austria and later SSU Austria appear more impressive. For example, within six weeks, eighty-nine high-level Hungarian war criminals in Austria were apprehended, interrogated, and prepared for extradition to Hungary by around four members of OSS Austria.54 The first two Hungarian war criminals tried and convicted in Budapest (László Bárdossy and Béla Imrédy) had been processed by the Hungarian (SI) Desk of OSS Austria.55

Even with the demise of OSS looming, its Austrian-based staff noted that their branch supplied “well over 90% of all CI intelligence put out by G-2.”56 In January 1946 Ulmer stated that:

The [Vienna Intelligence] unit has firm friends in all of the political parties, important labor unions, and semi-public societies, though lack of available qualified operational personnel prevents complete exploitation of our opportunities. In general, it may be said that the political parties look upon the organization as an unofficial liaison body to which they can speak frankly and have their propositions reach a fairly high-level audience.57

Table 2

Reports Issued by OSS and SSU Austria, August 1945–May 1946

DateReports Issued in LA and LS SeriesPer Capita
August 169a 0.87 
September 170b 1.17 
October 140c 1.04 
November 104d 1.30 
December 54e 0.78 
January 74f 1.64 
February 72g 1.33 
March 80g 1.45 
April 70h 1.66 
May 67i 1.76 
DateReports Issued in LA and LS SeriesPer Capita
August 169a 0.87 
September 170b 1.17 
October 140c 1.04 
November 104d 1.30 
December 54e 0.78 
January 74f 1.64 
February 72g 1.33 
March 80g 1.45 
April 70h 1.66 
May 67i 1.76 

Cf. Progress Report for August 1945, Harry H. Harper to CO, Detachment “A,” OSS Austria, September 1, 1945, Entry 99, Box 34, Folder 3, Record Group 226, NARA II (all sources are RG 226, NARA II).


Cf. Progress Report for September 1945, October 1, 1945, ibid.


Cf. Harry H. Harper to CO, SSU Austria, Progress Report for October 1945, November 1, 1945, Entry 108B, Box 76.


Cf. Henry C. Fleisher for Alfred C. Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report for November 1945, December 3, 1945, Entry 108B, Box 77.


Cf. LS-010-131, Alfred C. Ulmer to CO, SSU Austria, Progress Report for January 1946, February 1, 1946, Entry 108B, Box 76.


Theodore Cohn for Robert D. Brewster to CO SSU Austria, February 1, 1946, ibid.


Cf. Unknown to CO, SSU Austria, Progress Report for March 1946, April 1, 1946, ibid.


Cf. Reports Officer to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report for April 1946, May 1, 1946, Entry 211, Box 33, WN 20132–37.


Cf. FSRO-21, LS-010-531, William S. Mackenzie for the Chief of Mission to the Director, SSU, Washington, Monthly Progress Report for period of May 1–31, 1946, June 1, 1946, Entry 210, Box 310, WN 10 m831.

The numbers in tables 1 and 2 actually show that the most productive month under examination (in terms of reports per capita) was May 1946 (1.76) with December 1945 the least productive (0.78). Assuming that the “Christmas season” was responsible for the dip in productivity, the next worst month was August 1945, when OSS Austria had its highest staff levels (0.87), although this too could be explained by the jubilation following the Japanese surrender that month and uncertainty about the fate of OSS. What the figures clearly show is that even with around 40 percent less personnel (from 134 to 80), reporting actually increased from October to November if taken on a per capita basis (from 1.04 to 1.3 reports).58 During a subsequent phase of organizational chaos, Ulmer quite ironically “regretted” that his mission’s reporting output was increasing (the number of reports actually remained constant, dropping on a per capita basis from 1.64 in January to 1.33 in February).59

OSS and SSU Austria’s reporting were not only good in terms of quantity, they also impressed qualitatively. As early as July 1945 a report was filed noting that Soviet NKVD agents were entering the American zone in Austria in plainclothes and grabbing persons of interest off the street.60 A few months later, an SSU/CIC dangle in Vienna confessed that his Russian contacts (NKVD officers) had ordered him to procure “five US E[nlisted] [M]en’s uniforms, complete with insignia, decorations etc. and a company grade officer’s insignia, C[ombat] I[nfantrymen’s] B[adge], etc., and an officer’s uniform if possible [. . .] promising 500 Schillings for each uniform.”61 On the back of these warnings, the much-discussed “Shanghai Incident” of January 22/23, 1946, in Salzburg, which was blacked out, owing to the geopolitical ramifications its disclosure might have had, should be seen as a culmination of hostile Soviet efforts that OSS and SSU Austria had been warning of for months, rather than their beginning.62

While some have claimed that SSU as a whole was slow to recognize the Soviet threat, SSU Austria does not fit this mold.63 As early as September 1945 an SSU Austria Progress Report emphasized how the SI Branch had switched focus to the “No. 1 Intelligence Objective,” the Red Army/Soviet Occupation Forces in Central Europe.64 Again, considering that the war had (officially) ended just weeks earlier, it is harsh to accuse OSS or SSU Austria (let alone their organizational superiors in Washington) of “ignoring the Soviet threat.” Similarly, SCI/A (OSS/SSU Austria’s X-2 branch) noted around the same time that it had:

Almost completely dissolved its interrogation center and those activities concerning the apprehension of GIS [German Intelligence Service] personnel. All present and future operations will concern only those directed towards the penetration of foreign intelligence services.65

Given such timely (and proactive) responses to the looming Soviet threat, claims like the following, appear to require serious amendment:

By 1946, American military intelligence in Austria had already switched their “enemy image” from getting rid of Nazis to containing Communists. This may have been a case where intelligence was not in the vanguard, but followed the political leaders [emphasis added].66

If anything, the opposite might be postulated, namely that SSU paid too little attention to De-Nazification in Austria, although a closer exploration of that topic is outside the scope of this study.

As we have shown, OSS and SSU Austria were the vanguard, far ahead of political leaders at home, since they targeted and reported on Soviet occupation forces in Austria (and beyond) as early as September 1945. United States political leaders, busy slashing budgets to drive up the “peace dividend,” paid little heed to the intelligence reports generated from Austria and Germany and then, as now, proved all too eager to drop political failure at the doorstep of an intelligence service.

Despite its successes and foresight, SSU Austria was far from perfect. For example, in the middle of March 1946, Zsolt Aradi, a veteran of OSS and SSU Austria’s predecessor, SICE, submitted a report that was referred to by Helms in Washington as “a complete dud.”67 In another case, SCI/A’s Caviar Operation in Salzburg saw an entire network of dubious dissident Georgians voluntarily surrender to the NKVD and be taken to Lower Austria, in the belief that they were bettering their cover. They were never heard from again, with reports indicating that the entire group was tortured and summarily executed.68 Despite the personnel attrition and occasional operational lapses, both OSS and SSU Austria were far from the bumbling or incompetent intelligence novices they have often been described or accused of being.

Figure 3

Al Ulmer and John Richardson together in Trieste, in late 1945 or early 1946. One of Ulmer’s first moves as head of SSU Austria was to recruit Richardson and appoint him head of the Trieste out-station. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

Figure 3

Al Ulmer and John Richardson together in Trieste, in late 1945 or early 1946. One of Ulmer’s first moves as head of SSU Austria was to recruit Richardson and appoint him head of the Trieste out-station. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

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Learning the “Drill” in Central Europe

With generalizations about the overarching organizations, hierarchical structures in Washington, a chronology, and brief survey of operational exploits presented, we come to the final aspect of this article, namely, who its key personnel were and how they were shaped by their time in Austria and Central Europe.69 To ensure that our sketches were representative, only those personnel who spent a period longer than six months in either OSS and/or SSU Austria were considered.70 While some of the individuals had foreign-born parents or were born abroad to Americans, an effort was made to select only those who had themselves been born US citizens, and not naturalized later in life. Similarly, we have attempted to examine individuals from multiple branches and echelons within OSS and SSU Austria, including chiefs, branch heads, and secretaries as well as proponents of both of Vlahos’s generations, namely the paradigm-builders and the paradigm-extenders.

Representing branch heads (SI), chiefs, and paradigm-builders is Alfred C. Ulmer Jr., whose affiliation with OSS began in June 1943 and covers the entire period under study except for a brief respite in November 1945 when he went to London to be discharged from the Navy (before rejoining SSU as a civilian immediately thereafter).71 Ulmer’s Austrian connections began in 1944, when he was made operations officer for the German-Austrian section of SICE. The end of the war in Europe in 1945 saw him named head of OSS Austria’s SI Branch, before rising to command of SSU Austria in December 1945/January 1946, following the departure of Charles W. Thayer. Never keen to miss a comedic opportunity, he described the beginning of his chiefdom as one of “wearing two hats.”72

Like his predecessor, Ulmer saw Vienna as an “ideal base for Central European operations.”73 In the best Habsburg tradition, the intelligence “empire” that he sought to stake out was to include “projects into Austria, South Tirol, Trieste, and Yugoslavia, Hungary, and perhaps other sections of the Balkans and Eastern Europe.”74 He did not “foresee any conflict with other SI missions, since the Balkans are virginal (sic!)” a belief not shared by Chapin’s (brief) successor as head of the Central-European Scandinavian SI Section in Washington.75 In concluding his retort, Tofte did give Ulmer a firm “attaboy,” noting:

We wish to emphasize again that everybody here [in Washington] is admiring the effort of SSU Austria in the face of the present serious handicaps, and we want to assure you that we are becoming increasingly convinced that the part played by your mission in the general program of keeping the SSU alive and in the picture during this period of uncertainty will bear fruit in the not too distant future.76

Ulmer liked to use German phrasing, or even a sort of “Germanglish” in his reports. On one occasion he stated that SSU needed a new “Vertrauensmann in the Vatican” and that a group had just come out of Hungary “black,” while (according to his son) Ulmer and his wife Doris (who came to live in Austria in early 1946) would refer to each other frequently as “Schatzi.”77 This seems to have been common among OSS/SSU Austria’s personnel, especially those whose first language was German (such as Charles Friediger), as on another occasion the more Germanic “take and give” surfaces in a report (as opposed to the standard English “give and take”) alongside German usages such as “Britishers.” Even the SI Branch’s pet dachshund was given a decidedly Austrian name, “Wurschtl.”78

Figure 4

OSS and SSU Austria personnel freely adopted a number of what might be termed “Austrian-isms” and on some occasions, seemed to fuse elements of American and Austrian culture. A nice example of this is how SI Branch named its pet dachshund, held here by 1st Lt. Dyno M. Lowenstein. The authors believe that the dog’s name relates to the Austrian term for sausages (Würschtl) and not the clown/joker meaning the word has in Viennese dialect (Wurschtl) for the simple reason that it is ubiquitous in American English to refer to dachshunds as “sausage dogs.” The alternative, that the dog’s name was derived from the Wienerlied of the period, “Der Wurschtl,” seems less likely inasmuch as the picture is believed to predate Hans Lang’s/Erich Meder’s song by around a year. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

Figure 4

OSS and SSU Austria personnel freely adopted a number of what might be termed “Austrian-isms” and on some occasions, seemed to fuse elements of American and Austrian culture. A nice example of this is how SI Branch named its pet dachshund, held here by 1st Lt. Dyno M. Lowenstein. The authors believe that the dog’s name relates to the Austrian term for sausages (Würschtl) and not the clown/joker meaning the word has in Viennese dialect (Wurschtl) for the simple reason that it is ubiquitous in American English to refer to dachshunds as “sausage dogs.” The alternative, that the dog’s name was derived from the Wienerlied of the period, “Der Wurschtl,” seems less likely inasmuch as the picture is believed to predate Hans Lang’s/Erich Meder’s song by around a year. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

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Representing X-2/SCI/A as well as the paradigm-builders is Maj. Edward P. “Phil” Barry, a “thoroughly practical officer.”79 In the summer of 1945 Thayer wrote to William Donovan, still head of OSS, that Barry was “not only [. . .] generally recognized as the leading authority in the field but also he has sufficient judgment to exploit possibilities to the fullest with complete discretion.”80 Before the war Barry had completed a year of university studies abroad in Freiburg (Breisgau), although, he only found his way to OSS in 1944.81 From then on, however, he was an integral part of all Central European and Austrian counterintelligence aspects of OSS and SSU emanating from Italy.

In many ways, Barry and Ulmer complemented one another. When resigning SSU Austria, Chapin remarked, “I do not believe he [Barry] need fear any loss of position or prestige by working wholeheartedly toward this end [collaborating with Al Ulmer’s SI Austria] without referring back here [to Washington] for decision.”82

Like Ulmer, Barry too occasionally interjected Germanic flourishes into his messages, writing, for example, in 1946 that “Dr. [Karl] Priester seems to feel that if he seeks reemployment in police department alone he will certainly be accepted but will probably be assigned as Bezirk Chief at the most.”83 Perhaps giving credence to Chapin’s assessment, Ulmer got along well with Barry, who noted that he was the only member of SCI/A that his SI Branch would like to poach for their own setup, supposing that they were unable to recruit externally.84 In addition, Barry was held in high-esteem by James Angleton Jr., whose opinions of his northern professional neighbors were rarely positive/complimentary.85 Ultimately, Barry left SSU at the end of May 1946, with Ulmer reporting to Helms that he had “definitely determined to go to law school.”86 Barry was succeeded as head of SCI/A by John G. Heyn.87

Barry’s relationship with his immediate superior in Washington from January 1946 on, Evelyn M. Williams, was certainly more tenuous than either that with his local chief, Al Ulmer, or that enjoyed by Ulmer with his regional supervisors, David F. Strong and Richard Helms.88 Perhaps owing to the perceived seriousness of counterintelligence work, flourishes such as those typical among the SI personnel are absent in communications between Williams and Barry.89

Turning to the paradigm-extenders, we shift our focus toward individuals who only collaborated with OSS, but were not “founding fathers” of the organization, to borrow one of Vlahos’s phrasings. Representing SI in this regard was Robert J. Cunningham, who would go on to become head of SSU Austria’s FRB (SI’s replacement) in August of 1946, a position roughly equivalent to that which Ulmer had earlier held within OSS Austria.90 By May 1946 Cunningham had been “overseas for more than 30 months,” primarily with the US Army.91 When recruited for work specifically in Austria, he was described as “a Harvard graduate who speaks German, French, and Italian [and] is going to work out very, very well.”92 In introducing him to Helms in writing during a trip in the late spring of 1946, Ulmer wrote that he was “completely authorized to speak for the [Austrian] mission” in Washington.93

Despite Cunningham being an SI man, more was put on his plate than his job description suggested, signaling that after being “demobbed,” he went on to become a fully trusted member of SSU Austria setup. For example, in January of 1946, during a period of frequent personnel departures, he “assist[ed] in reviewing intelligence before it passe[d] to Mr. [Theodore] Cohn in the reports section, as well as additional screening and checking,” activities traditionally performed by Reports and SCI/A, respectively. Trading his pen and typewriter for handcuffs and a service weapon, he even escorted Yugoslav prisoners of war to Belgrade to stand trial. Further indicating just how much confidence Ulmer (an OSS veteran) placed in his ability, in the same report he commented that he would “be happy to send Cunningham off to run his own unit somewhere in the Balkans as long as [Henry C.] Fleisher or someone else with his executive ability comes over.”94

Figure 5

John H “Rich” Richardson (left) and Manojlo “Mike” Jovanovich (right), also in Trieste, in late 1945 or early 1946. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

Figure 5

John H “Rich” Richardson (left) and Manojlo “Mike” Jovanovich (right), also in Trieste, in late 1945 or early 1946. Photo courtesy of the Ulmer family.

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Later that year, when overseeing the Special Projects section of SI Austria, Cunningham traveled as Ulmer’s emissary to Rome, along with Zsolt Aradi, to hold a “clear-the-air” conference, and set down geographic and subject matter boundaries and guidelines with James Angleton Jr. and Stephen Streeter, both of SSU Italy.95 Ulmer even gushed about Cunningham to Helms, referring to him and Richardson (introduced below) as “our two best operational chiefs both highly qualified as career officers.”96

SSU played a very personal role in Robert Cunningham’s life. In July of 1946 his future wife, Mary Rose Whitaker, was brought in as a secretary to SCB to replace Mrs. Persis Ladd, who departed for the United States. The fact that Cunningham would, barely two months later, oversee the merging of SCB and FRB in Austria into “a combined Reports Office” (FSRO) likely brought the two even closer together (at least, professionally speaking).97 According to Cunningham’s obituary, he and Whitaker married in 1949, while both were employed by CIA.98

With that said, Cunningham does not appear to have been Whitaker’s first suitor from within the organization; according to memoirs written by John H. Richardson, his father, upon his assignment to SSU Austria, also briefly courted the administrative assistant. In fact, Cunningham and Richardson had themselves been friends, both serving in CIC in Italy during the war, and later making the jump (at nearly the same time) to SSU Austria.99

In referring to his father’s career, particularly the time spent in Vienna, it becomes clear that John “Jocko” or “Rich” Richardson could also serve as a highly representative example of Vlahos’s second generation, the paradigm-extenders.100 Like Barry, Richardson had spent time in the 1930s studying in Germany (Berlin), being more “comfortable” there than in London or Paris.101 Rejected by the Merchant Marine and the FBI owing to his poor eyesight, he was accepted into the Army, training with the Signal Corps, before being picked out for the (then) highly secretive CIC.102

After training Richardson was attached to Unit 305, then based near Caserta, serving with distinction throughout the Italian campaign, rubbing elbows on numerous occasions with the personnel of X-2 Italy (SCI/Z).103 Following VE-Day, he would be detailed to Zell am See and Salzburg, where his unit collaborated with the local X-2 Branch, and later, SCI/A. For his efforts in Austria, Richardson received, along with Cunningham, a glowing recommendation from his former CIC commander, Lt. Col. Ralph W. Powers.104 By December 1945 Richardson decided to join up with SSU, and, almost immediately, was dispatched to Trieste to get a handle on the mismanaged SSU Austria outpost there covering Yugoslav matters.105 Within a month, as a result of Richardson’s efficiency, SSU Austria’s Yugoslav coverage had “improved visibly” and by March, even the SSU Secretariat reported on his work rate to the organization’s director, stating:

Most noteworthy in the last month has been the revivification of the Trieste office. Not only has the number of reports increased but their quality has improved greatly. This is due to the skilled efforts of SI Source, Enniskillen [Richardson], who already has developed a small intelligence unit with many diversified and qualified sub-agents and informants. Enniskillen is well-equipped to carry out the SI assignment in this area which is the “indicator” of the friction between Yugoslavia and Italy as well as between rival factions in each of these countries.106

In a subsequent report to the director of SSU in May of 1946, Richardson was referred to as “prolific.”107 According to Helms, Richardson, who had “good French, Italian, and German” was “well qualified for his assignment [Trieste] and has demonstrated his ability to handle it during the months that he served in this capacity.”108 Immediately after his recruitment, like Cunningham, Ulmer referred to him as a “first-class man” and one “who is mature, capable, has an excellent record as an investigator and writes outstanding reports.”109

Owing to the aforementioned classification schedules of CIG documents, it is difficult to determine precisely when Richardson transferred from Trieste to Vienna (for example, Richardson’s son believes that this occurred in early 1947); however, once there he became deputy to Ulmer, still heading CIG Austria. Within a few months, Ulmer vacated his position and was replaced by Richardson although, again, the timeline here is not precise owing to the lack of primary documentation.110

Ostensibly, Richardson fully took in Austrian culture, attending “balls to meet Austrian conservatives and h[anging] out in nightclubs to cultivate the socialists [. . . and] not scrimping on the luxuries.”111 A friend of Richardson’s later reported to his son that “Vienna was where he became a master at talking without saying anything,” one of the most time-honored Viennese pastimes.112 A CIA case officer in Germany, Jean Nater, later remarked to Richardson’s son that they referred to his father’s staff scornfully as “the Vienna Choir Boys.”113

Like Cunningham, Richardson also eventually met his wife in Austria, although she was not an employee of CIG or CIA, but an American working with the US Army’s Austrian Youth Program in Linz, Eleanore Koch. In the best Austrian tradition, the couple wed not in a church, but the Vienna Rathaus on February 25, 1950, rolling out the red carpet only ten weeks after meeting.114


Much has been written about US intelligence efforts in Austria during the early Cold War. Thanks to the relatively recent declassification of previously withdrawn material by CIA, it is possible to look not only at the operational achievements of OSS and SSU in Austria, but also at the personnel of these organizations. As a result, we have been able to identify a unique intelligence culture that emerged among American officers in Austria and was often at odds with the bureaucratically prescribed intelligence structures forming or formed in Washington for the same organizations. Generally speaking, OSS and SSU Austria can be seen as having gone their own way, whether in terms of targeting priorities, structure, operations, or even reporting style. Much of this was influenced by the surrounding environment in which the men and women of OSS and SSU Austria operated. Most US personnel had spent months, if not years, away from the States, German words and phrases snuck in to English reports, outdated administrative memos were ignored, interoffice romances were common, and a sort of “padded” relationship with Washington grew from the informal ties established between the commanders of OSS and SSU Austria, and their immediate organizational superiors in Washington, nearly all of whom had been field men or women. Although far from the “clientitis” or “localitis” found among diplomats and Foreign Service officers, some similarities can be observed.115

Many, particularly those who call for a greater “professionalization” within the world of intelligence, might scoff at all of these discoveries (or revelations, such as the assignment of a codename to Doris Ulmer) as yet more evidence of the primitive state of US nonmilitary intelligence at the outset of the Cold War. However, this misses the point. What the men and women of OSS and SSU Austria did worked, was rated effective (if customer responses matter), and, so far as the authors are aware, did not lead to any major intelligence failures or lapses but, rather, quite a few solid to moderate successes, even against the Soviets, the hardest target of all. It must be added that perhaps at no time since has US intelligence in Austria (or the world for that matter) operated with fewer personnel and less resources than it did between September 1945 and October 1946. The more thought-provoking question therefore is whether the organizational structures developed and mandated from on high in Washington for SSU and CIG might, as Zegart suggests, be endemic of “an American political system that hinders effective design” with the field’s own organizational culture, which developed outside those “corridors of power,” being more authentic, efficient, and unencumbered.116 Providing an answer to that query/claim will only be possible once files detailing US intelligence efforts beyond 1946 are declassified in full; yet, for the time being, as this article has hopefully demonstrated, a strong argument can be made that they were.



See, for example, Alfred Ableitinger, Siegfried Beer, and Eduard Staudinger, eds., Österreich unter alliierter Besatzung 1945–1955 (Vienna: Böhlau, 1998); David Alvarez and Eduard Mark, Spying Through a Glass Darkly: American Espionage against the Soviet Union, 1945–1946 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2016); Siegfried Beer, Target Central Europe: American Intelligence Efforts Regarding Nazi and Early Postwar Austria (Minneapolis: Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota, 1997); Siegfried Beer, “Rund um den ‘Dritten Mann’: Amerikanische Geheimdienste in Österreich 1945–1955,” in Österreich im frühen Kalten Krieg 1945–1955: Spione, Partisanen, Kriegspläne, ed. Erwin Schmidl (Wien: Böhlau 2000), 75–100; Siegfried Beer, “Salzburg nach dem Krieg: Beobachtungen des US-Geheimdienstes OSS/SSU über Österreich 1945/46,” Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde 139 (1999): 117–221; Günter Bischof, Austria in the First Cold War, 1945–1955: The Leverage of the Weak (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999); Ralph W. Brown III, “Making the Third Man Look Pale: American-Soviet Conflict in Vienna During the Early Cold War in Austria,” Journal of Slavic Military Studies 14, no. 4 (2001): 81–109; James Jay Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002); Kevin C. Ruffner, “Eagle and Swastika: CIA and Nazi War Criminals and Collaborators,” unpublished manuscript, Washington DC, 2003, tinyurl.com/yc5b7hs8.


See Ruffner, “Eagle and Swastika,” chapter 1, pp. 8–9.


OSS was a hybrid military-civilian organization that served as the first attempt at a centralized intelligence agency in US history, coming into existence several months after the US entry into the Second World War. SSU was a streamlined successor to the former, subordinated to the War Department, and shorn of OSS’s operational, propaganda, and research and analytical components, among several others. In October 1946 SSU was incorporated into Central Intelligence Group (CIG), which ultimately formed the backbone of CIA in 1947.


These can, in many cases, be traced back to close working relationships forged during the war as well as the considerable autonomy afforded OSS in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MEDTO).


This second hypothesis is derivative of that suggested by Glenn P. Hastedt, who posited, through the use of Organizational Theory, that institutional continuity from OSS to CIA hampered the latter’s efforts at reform. See Richard M. Cyert and James G. March, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963); Glenn P. Hastedt and B. Douglas Skelley, “Intelligence in a Turbulent World,” in Intelligence Theory: Key Questions and Debates, ed. Peter Gill, Stephen Marrin, and Mark Phythian (New York: Routledge, 2009), 112–30, and Glenn P. Hastedt, “CIA’s Organizational Culture and the Problem of Reform,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 9, no. 3 (1996): 249–69.


To accomplish this, we have only examined personnel without an immediate immigrant or foreign background, since OSS and SSU Austria employed many stateless individuals, first-generation immigrants, and even former enemy nationals.


Difficulties separating OSS, SSU, and CIG records were recognized as early as the 1970s by Walter Pforzheimer, the founder and curator of CIA’s Historical Intelligence Collection. As such, declassified records relating to CIG are fewer in number than those of either OSS or SSU. In many cases, declassified reporting on operations ceases abruptly from the middle of October 1946. For an appreciation of the difficulties surrounding this, see Walter Pforzheimer to Assistant Deputy Director for Intelligence, January 28, 1970, General CIA Records, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Digital Reading Room, available at: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP72-00310R000200290016-8.pdf.


The authors believe that SSU Austria became the foundation for the Austrian mission or station of CIG, and remained subordinate to Foreign Branch M, with leadership of both unchanged until at least the summer of 1947. Concerning the setup of CIG and CIA in Austria see, for example Siegfried Beer, “Early CIA Reports on Austria,” Journal of Contemporary Austrian Studies 5 (1996): 247–88.


These include Mark M. Lowenthal, US Intelligence: Evolution and Anatomy (New York: Praeger, 1984); Thomas F. Troy, Donovan and the CIA: A History of the Establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America, 1981); Michael Warner, “Prolonged Suspense: The Fortier Board and the Transformation of the Office of Strategic Services,” Journal of Intelligence History 2 (2002): 65–76, as well as “Salvage and Liquidation: The Creation of the Central Intelligence Group,” Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996), also published in Journal of Intelligence History 2, no. 1 (2002): 65–76; Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (New York: Anchor, 2008); Amy B. Zegart, Flawed by Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NCS (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999).


Carafano falls victim to this line of thinking, noting, “As the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union crystallized, however, these institutions [Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council] were being debated, developed, and organized. As a result, critical strategic assessments made during these crucial years still relied heavily on clumsy instruments such as the intelligence network in Austria” (emphasis added). Cf. Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 87.


In the report from which this article’s epigraph is taken, Ulmer states “When Col. Chapin and I think about the possibilities which are now opening up, our mouths water, and when we think about turning back to the army or otherwise dissipating our highly competent operational personnel and agents, we are filled with regret at the probable loss of this teamwork and experience to any permanent organization.” Cf. Salz to Wash 002, September 17, 1945, Entry (hereafter E) 108B, Box (hereafter B) 75, Record Group (RG) 226, National Archives and Records Administration II, College Park, MD. (All subsequent citations ending in RG 226 are from NARA II.)


Regarding Berne see Chief SI (Switzerland) to Chief SI (Washington) through Chief SSU (Switzerland): Monthly Report for February, March 4, 1946, E 210, B 192, Withdrawal Number (hereafter WN) 7969, RG 226.


Time did not heal old wounds. As late as August 1946, it took three months for an operational progress report to reach Washington from Austria. See LSX-228, Denis Reid to Alfred Ulmer: Positive Intelligence Potentialities of Sybille Project, August 12, 1946, E 213, B 2, WN 20650-20659, RG 226.

In October 1946 James Angleton Jr., then commanding SSU Italy and relaying a message from Robinson O. Bellin (posted to Budapest), noted that “the fact that communication with Washington via pouch requires at least two months in each direction [Budapest to Washington and vice versa] means that any information sent in this manner will be useless so far as immediate orientation is concerned.” Cf. LHX-13, AE2 to SSU Italy (BB8), Distribution of AE material and sending of newspapers to Italy from AE-land, October 24, 1946, E 196, B 27, RG 226.


While chief of mission in Switzerland, Robert P. Joyce wrote in November 1945 that “most of our personnel have been overseas for at least 2 years and desire to return home for quite understandable reasons.” Cf. Chief of Mission Switzerland to Brig. Gen. John Magruder, Report for Month of October 1945, November 22, 1945, E 210, B 177, WN 7784, RG 226.


Alfred C. Ulmer to Stephen B. L. Penrose and Maj. Hans Tofte, Progress Report, Central Europe and Balkan Areas, January 23, 1946, E 108B, B 76, RG 226.


Cf. ibid. See also Beer, Target Central Europe, 9.


Cf. Charles B. Friediger, Special Area Plan for Clandestine Intelligence Program, June 4, 1946, E 210, B 509, WN 19051, RG 226. SI focused on “positive intelligence,” that is, intelligence gathered from clandestine sources, informants, and agents not believed to be under enemy control. This contrasted with counterintelligence (X-2), which shouldered several different intelligence-gathering tasks. First and foremost, X-2 was the only branch of OSS aware of the top-secret ultra decrypts of the German enigma machine, being allowed to use their insights to assist field commanders. Second, X-2 performed a security function, protecting the integrity of OSS as an organization and its intelligence product (i.e., from penetration agents and disinformation). In common parlance, X-2 served as “spy catchers.” Third, it could playback “turned” or erstwhile enemy agents to the enemy, co-opting them into being sources of intelligence. At least in OSS and SSU, the Security branch handled physical object security (office watchmen/guards, safes, locks, etc.) and in conjunction with X-2 performed background checks (vetting) on potential employees/agents.


Regarding the deployment of the 3rd Guards Tank Army into Czechoslovakia in 1946, US Army Intelligence, G-2, “could not believe its eyes [. . . and was] completely uninformed on both of these questions as was the State Department.” Cf. 1098 [Alfred C. Ulmer] to Richard Helms, June 4, 1946, ibid.

On State Department officials in Hungary see, for example, Vienna to Washf, #412 (In 41113), August 29, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226.

At the same time, relations between the successive American commanders of the Allied Control Commission in Budapest and some SSU personnel detailed to their commands were poor. This will be the topic of a forthcoming article from one of the authors.


See Henry C. Addison to Fletcher M. Knight, Washington: Informal Situation Report—Austrian Mission, April 9, 1947, E 210, B 509, WN 19051, RG 226.


For its part SSU Austria was “willing to play any position on the team.” Cf. Henry C. Fleisher for Alfred C. Ulmer to CO SSU Austria; Progress Report—November 1945, December 3, 1945, E 108B, B 77, RG 226.


The reasons for this would make for an interesting study. One explanation might be found in the differing composition of the two European missions. Angleton Jr.’s SSU Italy was based around the counterintelligence units he oversaw during the war, which operated very differently from Ulmer’s SSU Austria, which was strongly SI in character. In his comprehensive study of OSS’s setup in wartime London, Nelson MacPherson quotes a 1945 statement by Walter Lord, a member of the OSS/SI Secretariat in London, which notes the ever-present “fundamental concept of branch dominance” and its “apparent acceptance by Washington.” See Errigal [believed to be Robert J. Cunningham] to Chief of Mission (Austria), Problems of the Austrian Mission, June 3, 1946, E 210, B 509, WN 19051, RG 226. For the quote from Lord, see Nelson MacPherson, American Intelligence in War-Time London: The Story of the OSS (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2003), here 54.


Günter Bischof notes something similar in referencing “The remarkable continuity of bureaucratic personnel [. . . who] wrote the decisive memoranda and minutes, prepared the position papers for the high-level conferences, and thus safeguarded the continuity in foreign policies.” See Austria in the First Cold War, 5.


In applying Vlahos’s framework for US Foreign Policy, Hastedt identified four “generations” within CIA: The Paradigm-Builders, the Paradigm-Extenders, the Paradigm-Mimickers, and the Paradigm Killers. For our study, we have adapted this framework to the micro-level, looking not at CIA over the course of fifty years, but OSS, SSU, and CIG over the period of five. It is fair to say that the personnel of SSU Austria were a mix of the first two categories, depending on whether they had served with OSS or were new to the organization. See Hastedt, “CIA’s Organizational Culture,” 252. For the original notion, see Michael Vlahos, Thinking about World Change (Arlington, VA: Foreign Service Institute, 1990).


SICE was created in the summer of 1944 to coordinate Central European intelligence and operations from a single command in Caserta/Bari. Previously, seemingly every branch of OSS (Labor, SI, X-2, Special Operations, Morale Operations, etc.) had maintained country-specific capabilities and personnel. SICE operated Austrian, Hungarian, and Czechoslovak desks, combining Labor, SI, SO, and MO “under one roof,” launching numerous missions, with varying levels of success, into Central Europe up until the war’s conclusion. For a listing of such missions into Austrian territory see Siegfried Beer and Stefan Karner, Der Krieg aus der Luft. Kärnten und Steiermark 1941–1945 (Graz: Weishaupt, 1992), 76. More current studies on the Austrian activities of SICE can be found in Florian Traussnig, Miliärischer Wiederstand von außen. Österreicher in US-Armee und Kriegsgeheimdienst im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Vienna: Böhlau, 2016), as well as Peter Pirker, Codename Brooklyn. Jüdische Agenten im Feindesland. Die Operation Greenup 1945 (Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 2019). For the information on Chapin see Howard Chapin Personnel File, E 224, B 117, RG 226.


A member of the Danish resistance, Tofte earned distinction during the Second World War. Not only did he elude the Gestapo and make his way surreptitiously to the United States in 1941, but he also went on to join OSS and organize special operations among the Tito Partisans in Yugoslavia. See Hans Tofte Personnel File, E 224, B 780, RG 226, as well as Henrik Krüger, Hans V. Tofte - Den danske krigshelt, der kom til tops i CIA (Oslo: Aschehoug, 2005), and R. Harris Smith, OSS: The Secret History of America’s First Central Intelligence Agency (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972), 145. For quote in text, see Division Deputy Europe to Lt. James Q. May, Salary Arrangements for Mr. Richard Helms, March 1, 1946, as well as Qualifications and Experience, undated, both in E 224, B 326, RG 226.


See G-TSX-30, LSX-003-609: X2/OSS Mission to Germany to Distribution, June 9, 1945, E 213, B 1, WN 20631-20639, RG 226. For additional background information on Williams, see Ruffner, “Eagle and Swastika,” chapter 11, p. 17 n. 34. Ruffner’s supposition that DH136 was Williams’s codename appears to be correct.


The authors are aware of two high-profile OSS cases of a similar nature. These are the aforementioned Capt. James Angleton Jr. and Robert P. Joyce. The former served as de facto head of counterintelligence in Italy (despite being officially subordinate in this role to Col. Andrew Berding) whereas the latter “although nominally referred to as Chief SI, [. . .] embraced the coordination of all geographic desks of SI as well as all branches of OSS conducting activities behind enemy lines in the Balkans and Central European countries. Thus, in an unprecedented manner for OSS activities, SI, R&A, SO, Labor, Morale, Commando Group, X2 and all other branches were coordinated to the end that a smooth-functioning integrated machine was developed.” For the information pertaining to Joyce see Michael G. Mitchell to B. Homer Hall, June 10, 1946, E 92, B 65, Folder (hereafter F) 1182, RG 226. For the information on Angleton Jr. see Duncan Bare, “Hungarian Affairs of the US Office of Strategic Services in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, from June 1944 until September 1945,” MA thesis, University of Graz, 2015, 47–51. Available at: https://unipub.uni-graz.at/obvugrhs/download/pdf/457450?originalFilename=true.


This states, “SSU is divided into two main parts: Headquarters, located in Washington DC, or elsewhere in the continental US, and Field Offices, located in the several geographic areas beyond the continental limits of the US wherein their respective activities are carried on.” Cf. The Strategic Services Unit Outline Plan with Appendices, November 29, 1945, E 210, B 309, WN 13154-13156, RG 226.


Alvarez and Mark refer to Ulmer as “a man to seize opportunities and chances.” The overabundance of freedom had a different impact upon Robert Joyce, heading the Swiss mission, who wrote the following to his superiors in Washington: “We have a feeling here that we are operating in more or less of a vacuum, as we receive virtually nothing from Washington in the way of direction and we naturally are unaware as to whether our activities are being directed along the proper lines and whether the intelligence information we transmit to Washington is useful to policy making agencies.” Cf. Chief of Mission Switzerland to Brig. Gen. John Magruder, Report for month of October 1945, November 22, 1945, E 210, B 177, WN 7784, RG 226. For the quote about Ulmer see Alvarez and Mark, Spying Through a Glass Darkly, 147.


At a May 1946 conference attended by nearly all SSU European Mission and Station heads (or their proxies), it was agreed that Washington needed to exert more “administrative and intelligence-wise” supervision as “the closest liaison in the field cannot take the place of overall Washington supervision, particularly as applies to intelligence operations.” Cf. DOTS-1024, G-SITS-1039; Crosby Lewis to Col. William W. Quinn, June 13, 1946, E 210, B 223, WN 9894, RG 226. Carafano acknowledges a similar trend in the US military’s occupation of Austria noting “in the policy vacuum of the early Cold War years, strategy in Austria appeared to emerge from below rather than emanate from above [. . .] at a time when the apparatus used to develop and implement national security policy was in transition.” Cf. Carafano, Waltzing into the Cold War, 116–17. See also Alvarez and Mark, Spying Through a Glass Darkly, 25–26.


See Col. William S. Quinn, Detailed Procedure for Liquidation of SSU Activities Overseas, September 13, 1946, E 210, B 314, WN 10846, RG 226.


Cf. VIUAA to AMUAA, Frankfurt, PAUAA, ROUAA, BRUAA, LOUAA, #094 (In 37504), May 28, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226. See also Beer, Target Central Europe, 9.


See LS-020-404, Eugene F. O’Meara to Director, SSU, Washington, Monthly Progress Report, March 1946, April 9, 1946, E 108B, B 76, RG 226.


Cf. Richard Helms to Alfred C. Ulmer, July 5, 1946, E 210, B 459, WN 17162-17189, RG 226.


Monthly Report OSS Austria, September 28, 1945, E 99, B 34, F 3, RG 226.


OSS MEDTO Report August, September 19, 1945, E 99, B 34, F 1, RG 226.


Monthly Report OSS Austria, September 28, 1945, E 99, B 34, F 3, RG 226.




SCI/A, the counterintelligence branch of OSS and SSU Austria, enjoyed “excellent relations” with the CIC, collaborating on arresting and interrogating war criminals and persons of interest. Cf. SCI/A Preliminary Report, May 15–31, 1945, n.d., E 108A, B 276, RG 226. For more on CIC’s activities in Austria see Siegfried Beer, “Monitoring Helmer. Zur Tätigkeit des amerikanischen Armeegeheimdienstes CIC in Österreich 1945–1950. Eine exemplarische Dokumentation,” in Geschichte zwischen Freiheit und Ordnung. Gerald Stourzh zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Emil Brix et al. (Vienna: Styria, 1991), 229–59; and James V. Milano, Soldiers, Spies and the Rat Line (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1995).


Alfred C. Ulmer Jr. to Stephen B. L. Penrose, Dr. Walter C. Langsam, and Captain Gerald F. Else. Cf. Salz to Wash 002, September 17, 1945, E 108B, B 75, RG 226.


The Pond was an intelligence organization created in the spring of 1942 by the US Army’s Military Intelligence Service with President Roosevelt’s blessing and headed by Capt. Jean (John) Grombach, one of Donovan’s most vociferous critics and a staunch opponent of OSS. Speaking against the existence of a Pond presence in Austria is that its most memorable personality, James McCargar (pseudonym Christopher Felix), would not have had to ask CIG’s Vienna station head for assistance in smuggling Hungarians into Austria in 1947 if his own organization had possessed facilities in country. See, for example, Groundhog Operation in Hungary, 1945–1947, n.d., McCargar Name File, FOIA Digital Reading Room, available at: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/MCCARGAR%2C%20JAMES_0006.pdf. Groundhog was one of CIG/CIA’s names for The Pond.


See, for example, the last line of a cable sent on January 22, 1946, from SSU Headquarters in Washington to Rome stating, “The President today announced the establishment of a national intelligence authority and a Central Intelligence Group under a director appointed by him. . . . The new intelligence set-up is very much in line with our long-sought objectives. The details of administrative adjustments are not yet worked out. You should, however, carry on with present activities with confidence that a national service is being realized.” E 88, B 654, F Out Plain Rome 1100-1199, RG 226.


See Col. William S. Quinn, Detailed Procedure for Liquidation of SSU Activities Overseas, September 13, 1946, E 210, B 314, WN 10846, RG 226.


See Col. William W. Quinn, Section II, General Order No. 13: Establishment of Foreign Security Reports Office, June 17, 1946, E 210, B 303, WN 12524-12544, RG 226.


For example, Richard Helms, acting head of Foreign Branch M (Central Europe: Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland), had previously been the acting chief of the Central-European Scandinavian SI Section, covering largely the same area, both being located in Washington, DC. See ibid.


In their founding documentation these were referred to as “groups” and “divisions”; however, at least in Austria, they became “branches.” Cf. Col. William W. Quinn, Section II, General Order No. 13: Establishment of Foreign Security Reports Office, June 17, 1946, E 210, B 303, WN 12524-12544, RG 226, with 1098 to Richard Helms, August 24, 1946, E 215, B 6, WN 26171-26179, RG 226.


As early as February 1946, Brigadier General Magruder, director of SSU, reported that his organization was “in a position to provide complete administrative services for CIG both immediately and for a considerable time in the future. [. . .] The present assets of SSU in no way constitute a complete or adequate world-wide clandestine intelligence agency, but to the extent that SSU is the sole operating agency not only in many geographical areas but in specialized functions it could profitably be employed by CIG until replaced by or incorporated into a permanent organization.” In other words, as early as CIG’s formation, SSU was ready to be incorporated into it. See Brig. Gen. John Magruder; Establishment of Clandestine Collection Service for Foreign Intelligence, SSU-5379, February 14, 1946, E 210, B 309, WN 13154-13156, RG 226.


Cf. Fortier, Klaus, Walker, Cullen, Boberg to Rear Adm. Sidney W. Souers, Report of Survey of Strategic Services Unit under CIG directive No. 1, March 14, 1946, E 210, B 314, WN 10846, RG 226.


Zegart’s observation noting that the National Security Act of 1947 “made no substantive changes to CIG’s design or operations at all” is hereby reinforced. Cf. Zegart, Flawed by Design, 183–84.


Alfred C. Ulmer, Relationship between SI and X-2 Austria, June 3, 1946, E 210, B 509, WN 19051, RG 226.


The R&A Branch of OSS would form the core of what is today known as the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). This organizational change left SSU with no centralized analytical capability, apart from the various Reports sections, which were more concerned with processing and forwarding received reports than assessing them. See Troy, Donovan and the CIA, 310–13, as well as Warner, “Prolonged Suspense,” 66 n. 2. On the contribution of Austrians in analytical branches of the OSS cf. Siegfried Beer, “Recherche, Synthese, Consulting: Die Forschungs- und Analyseabteilungen des US-Kriegsgeheimdienstes COI/OSS und Österreich, 1941–1945/50,” Journal for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies 13, no. 2 (2019): 123–34.


See 1098 to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report for May 1946, June 1, 1946, E 210, B 310, WN 10831, RG 226, as well as SSU Organization and Personnel in Switzerland, May 17, 1946, E 210, B 427, WN 16551-16554, RG 226.


One asset, Lister, of the paregoric operation brought along a “Lambda-born [USSR-born] Czech youth to serve as translator, courier between here and Prague, and aide de camp.” See Viena to Washf, #410 (In 41102), August 29, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226.


Flues to Amzon, Paris, London, In 20073 #108, Relay of Salzburg #71, July 28, 1945, E 88, B 645, F In Rome Plain August 1945, RG 226, as well as LS-010-103-SI, Alfred C. Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress report for October 1945, November 2, 1945; E 108B, B 76, RG 226.


Fleisher for Ulmer to CO SSU Austria; Progress Report—November 1945, December 3, 1945.


August Monthly Report OSS Austria, September 28, 1945, E 99, B 34, F 3, RG 226. “CI intelligence” is an odd turn of phrase, as it should be “counterintelligence” or “CI”, but not both together. It is possible that this is simply a typo, but we cannot rule out the possibility that “CI intelligence” refers to “confidential informant intelligence.”


Cf. LS-010-1231, Alfred C. Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report December 1945, January 2, 1946, E 215, B 6, WN 26180-26199, RG 226.


Ulmer must have felt this in November 1945 when he wrote to Chapin (then in Washington), “While I have had no statistical analysis made, the production of intelligence from Austria seems to have increased rather than decreased with the consolidation of the staff.” Cf. LS-002-1106, SI-17, Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Ulmer to Lt. Col. Howard M. Chapin, October Monthly Reports, SI Austria, November 6, 1945, E 215, B 6, WN 26165-26170, RG 226.


See SSU WD Mission to Austria to Chief, Central-European Scandinavian Section, SI, February 26, 1946, ibid.


To be fair, the words “dubious” and “vague” are penciled in on the report; however, their hand is not discernible. LS-233, Russian Activity in American Zone, July 4, 1945, E 108, B 186, RG 226.


See LSX-122, X-2 TS-1951, General Anti-American Activities of NKVD Vienna, December 12, 1945, E 190B, B 30, F 312, RG 226.


The Shanghai Incident was the twice-attempted kidnapping of a German spymaster, “Klatt” (Richard Kauder) by Soviet intelligence officers posted to Salzburg, aided by several Austrians. At least one of the Soviet intelligence officers wore the uniform of an American military policeman during the second attempt, with another wearing elements of a GI uniform. For contemporary reporting on the Shanghai Incident see LSX-174, Shanghai Incident: Project Cactus, March 5, 1946, E 213, B 2, WN 20640-20649, RG 226. This is also discussed by Alvarez and Mark, Spying Through a Glass Darkly, 171–76, as well as Brown, “Making the Third Man Look Pale,” 85. Winfried Meyer’s authoritative work on Klatt, published in 2015, is likely the best exploration of the personality publicly available; see Winfried Meyer, Klatt: Hitlers jüdischer Meisteragent gegen Stalin (Weimar bei Marburg: Metropolis, 2015).


In what is perhaps the first work dedicated to the history of SSU in Central Europe, David Alvarez and Eduard Mark gave rather poor marks to SSU’s (overall) efforts in Central Europe vis-à-vis the Soviet threat. SSU Austria seems to buck this trend.


Monthly Reports for OSS Austria, September, November 20, 1945, E 99, B 34, F 3, RG 226.


Cf. LSX-010-1018, SAINT Austria to SAINT Washington, October 18, 1945, E 108A, B 276, RG 226.


Cf. Bischof, Austria in the First Cold War, 111. Carafano, whose study is concerned almost exclusively with US military intelligence, is also guilty of buying into this myth, although he secures an out by noting that “Reports on the Soviet forces and KPÖ were also collected by the OSS’s successor organization, the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). Despite the fact that these organizations reported to the USFA G2 [sic], adverse findings on Soviet occupation troops were not included in official periodic updates.” Cf. Waltzing into the Cold War, 83.


For the original report, see LA-402, Movement of Russian Troops into Yugoslavia, March 15, 1946, E 108A, B 24, RG 226. For the “complete dud” see LS-010-430, 1098 to Richard Helms, Activities of SI Austria, May 6. 1946, E 215, B 6, WN 26180-26199, RG 226.


The “scheme” was first outlined in LSX-77, Project Caviar: Progress Report #9, September 29, 1945. Subsequently, the group’s whereabouts were sought in LSX-123, Project Caviar: Progress Report #14, December 3, 1945. Both reports are located in E 213, B 2, WN 20640-20649, RG 226. See also Review of Project Caviar, n.d., E 216, B 3, WN 26380, RG 226; and Alvarez and Mark, Spying Through a Glass Darkly, 161–65.


On “learning the ‘drill’ in Central Europe,” cf. LS-002-1106, SI-17, Lt. Cmdr. Alfred Ulmer to Lt. Col. Howard M. Chapin, Transmitting: Letter, Subject: SICE affairs, November 6, 1945, E 215, B 6, WN 26165-26170, RG 226.


One prominent omission is that of the CO of OSS Austria, and first chief of SSU Austria, Charles W. Thayer. In a letter he drafted to SSU director Brigadier General Magruder in November of 1945, he remarked, “You will note that my own name is not among those listed. I am neither particularly qualified for nor interested in permanent employment of the type this job will develop into. The State Department has been hinting about my coming back to it but I would prefer to return to Washington with OSS [sic] before making up my mind. I think the new set-up will have taken shape by early December leaving me with nothing much to do. Unless, therefore, you desire me to stay on, I would appreciate orders at that time to return ‘for consultation.’” See Charles W. Thayer to Gen. Magruder, 12 November 1945, E 210, B 342, WN 13352-13360, RG 226. For his farewell letter from Gen. Mark Clark, see Gen. Mark Clark to Lt. Col. Charles W. Thayer, January 14, 1946, E 224, B 771, Charles Thayer Personnel File. See also Charles W. Thayer, Hands Across the Caviar (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1952), 177–224.


Fleisher for Ulmer to CO SSU Austria; Progress Report—November 1945, December 3, 1945.


Ulmer to Penrose and Tofte, Progress Report, Central Europe and Balkan Areas, January 23, 1946.


Thayer “suggested that OSS Austria be assigned jurisdiction over Balkan X-2 activities with exception of course of Greece.” See Thayer to 109 [Gen. William Donovan], #269 (In 19381) Relay of Salzburg #23, July 21, 1945, E 216, B 3, WN 24955, RG 226. For Ulmer’s nearly identical recommendation less than four months later as quoted in the text above, see LS-010-103-SI, Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress report for October 1945, November 2, 1945.


Fleisher for Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report - November 1945, December 3, 1945.


Cf. Vienna-Wash #12, SITS 978, Alfred C. Ulmer to Howard M. Chapin, Operational Status Report SICE, December 7, 1945. For Tofte’s reaction, see: Maj. Hans V. Tofte to Col. Charles W. Thayer attn. Alfred C. Ulmer, 9 January 1946. Both can be found in E 215, B 6, WN 26165-26170, RG 226.


Cf. Ibid.


Cf. Vienna-Wash #13, Alfred C. Ulmer to Howard M. Chapin, December 18, 1945, Ibid. For the “black” quote see LS-010-1231, Ulmer to CO SSU Austria, Progress Report December 1945, January 2, 1946. The authors are indebted to Nicolas and Christopher Ulmer for their agreement to discuss their father/grandfather, as well as the visual materials which they shared.


Unfortunately, no textual records apart from the inscription written on the picture by Al Ulmer have been found mentioning Wurschtl. Owing to the collegial climate that pervaded OSS and SSU reporting, it is not beyond reason that Wurschtl might have been mentioned in correspondence or assigned a codename (Doris Ulmer, for example, was given the codename “Flower” in reporting between Howard Chapin and Charles Thayer in November and December of 1945). For the “take and give” reference see Friediger, Special Area Plan for Clandestine Intelligence Program, June 4, 1946.


See Lt. Col. Howard M. Chapin to Lt. Col. Charles W. Thayer, November 1, 1945, E 216, B 6, WN 26165-26170, RG 226.


Cf. Thayer to 109, #269 (In 19381) Relay of Salzburg #23, July 21, 1945, E 216, B 3, WN 24955, RG 226.


See Ruffner, “Eagle and Swastika,” chapter 11, p. 5.


Cf. Barry to Thayer, #55, August 22, 1945, E 210, B 504, WN 19469-19490, RG 226.


Cf. ibid.


See LS-002-1106, SI-17, Ulmer to Chapin, Transmitting: Letter, Subject: SICE affairs, November 6, 1945.


See Robin Winks, Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War, 1939–1961 (New York: William Morrow, 1987), 377–78.


Cf. LS-010-430, 1098 to Helms, Activities of SI Austria, May 6, 1946.


Cf. FSRO-21, LS-010-531, William S. Mackenzie for the Chief of Mission to The Director, SSU, Washington, Monthly Progress Report for period of 1–31 May 1946, June 1, 1946; E 210, B 310, WN 10831, RG 226.


In a July 1947 postscript attached to a report concerning Zsolt Aradi, Williams wrote, “Major Barry’s opinions on choosing agents has, with passage of years, been proven often ill-advised.” Williams’s Austrian X-2 Desk (G-2) was part of the Central Europe Area Desk (G), first overseen by Herman Horton, a former FBI man and veteran of OSS X-2 in China during the war. His desk also included Germany and Switzerland (G-1). Subsequently (June 1946), Horton would be named acting chief of FBP, or Southeastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy, and Greece), in a capacity similar to that held by Richard Helms for Central Europe. For the postscript, see Alfred C. Ulmer Jr. to Chief, SI Branch, SSU Washington, Sarazen, April 25, 1946, Special Collection—NWCDA, FOIA Digital Reading Room, available at https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/ZSOLT%20ARADI%20VOL.%202_0066.pdf. For general information concerning Williams, see Captain J. R. Baine to X-2 Staff, X-2 Routing symbols, January 8, 1946, E 190B, B 35, F 354, RG 226, as well as X-2 Branch Report, undated, E 210, B 314, WN 10847, RG 226. Pending further archival research, an exploration of Williams’s tenure with SSU and her role in Austria, as well as Central European matters, would make for a particularly interesting study.


Williams seems to have held a poor view of Ulmer’s efforts in Austria. In one report from the late summer of 1946, she remarks, “The idea of this instruction [from Ulmer] is prima facie good but glaringly indicates that the Chief of Mission (1) Isn’t informed on CE, and (2) Has not been informed by SC [Security Control] in Austria as to what they do and can do, or what records they have.” Cf. LS-013-816, 1098 to SCB Vienna/Salzburg, Intelligence Priorities for SCB, Austria, August 16, 1945, E 215, B 6, WN 26180-26199, RG 226.


See 1098 to Richard Helms, August 24, 1946, E 215, B 6, WN 26171-26179, RG 226.


According to Helms, Cunningham had been in the US Army for three and a half years, the last of which had been with the CIC in USFA. See Richard Helms to Director SSU through Chief SI, Robert J. Cunningham, June 14, 1946, E 210, B 459, WN 17162-17189, RG 226. See also VIUAA to SSUAA, SSUCC, #049 (In 36948), May 13, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226.


Cf. Vienna-Wash #12, SITS 978, Ulmer to Chapin, Operational Status Report SICE, December 7, 1945.


Cf. 1098 to Richard Helms, June 4, 1946, E 210, B 509, WN 19051, RG 226.


Cf. Ulmer to Penrose and Tofte, Progress Report, Central Europe and Balkan Areas, January 23, 1946.


See LS-024-510, SSU-4125, Robert J. Cunningham to Chief of Mission, SSU, WD Mission to Austria, May 10, 1946, E 215, B 6, WN 26180-26199, RG 226.


Cf. VIUAA to SSUAA, #048 (In 36942), May 14, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226.


See LSXA-9, FSRO-103, John G. Heyn to CO SSU, WD Mission Austria, Progress Report Covering the Period of June 1–30, 1946, Security Control Division, Austria, June 30, 1946, E 210, B 314, WN 10844, RG 226.


See: Horan & McConaty, “Robert Joseph Cunningham Obituary,” Horancares, unspecified, https://www.horancares.com/obituary/robert-joseph-cunningham.


For a humanizing and introspective look into John Richardson’s career as an intelligence officer and the effects that this had upon his family, see John H. Richardson, My Father the Spy: An Investigative Memoir (New York: HarperCollins, 2005). Here, 72 and 84.


In Richardson’s biography of his father, he claims that he was given the nickname “Jocko”; however, on Al Ulmer’s photos, he is referred to as “Rich.” Both nicknames are used here.


Ibid., 21 and 31.


Cf.ibid., 37–38 and 40–45.


While in Italy he did his best to learn the language, which, unlike German, he did not speak. In one letter which he wrote to someone in the United States, he stated that all he needed was “a good English-Italian grammar book.” Ibid., 52 and 54.


See LS-002-215, David F. Strong to CO SSU, attn. Alfred C. Ulmer Jr., February 15, 1946, E 108B, B 75, RG 226.


Cf. VIUAA to SSUAA, #048 (In 36942), May 14, 1946, E 210, B 457, WN 17008-17010, RG 226. Ulmer wrote of Richardson’s predecessor, Capt. “Huppert” (whose real name was ostensibly Umberti): “we definitely feel that on the basis of his three months’ record in Trieste, he does not qualify to continue in charge of the office.” Cf. Vienna-Wash #12, SITS 978, Ulmer to Chapin, Operational Status Report SICE, December 7, 1945. For the Huppert/Umberti information see LS-003-906, SI Personnel Roster, September 6, 1945, E 215, B 6, WN 26165-26170, RG 226.


In both of these reports, Richardson is referred to by the codename “Enniskillen.” For the first see Ulmer to Penrose and Tofte, Progress Report, Central Europe and Balkan Areas, January 23, 1946. For the second see Secretariat to Director, March 14, 1946, E 210, B 177, WN 7790, RG 226.


Eugene F. O’Meara to Director SSU, Monthly Progress Reports, n.d., E 211, B 33, WN 20132-20137, RG 226.


Cf. Helms to Director SSU through Chief SI, June 14, 1946.


Cf. Vienna-Wash #12, SITS 978, Ulmer to Chapin, Operational Status Report SICE, December 7, 1945.


Richardson, My Father the Spy, 82, 83.


Ibid., 84.


Ibid. Cf. Emil Bobi, Die Schattenstadt. Was 7.000 Agenten über Wien aussagen (Salzburg: Ecowin, 2014).


Richardson, My Father the Spy, 87. The analogous name for the spooks in Berlin was “Cowboys,” as occasionally mentioned in interviews by CIA officer Tennent H. Bagley, who was detailed to Vienna from 1951 to 1955.


Ibid., 90–94.


These phenomena refer variously to the tendency among diplomats to treat representatives of the country they are accredited to as clients or markedly favor their host country to the detriment of their neighbors or even their home country. “Clientitis” has made the interdisciplinary jump to encompass intelligence officers as well, denoting a negative behavior that has the potential to contribute to intelligence failure. See Christina Shelton, “The Roots of Analytic Failures in the U.S. Intelligence Community,” International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 24, no. 4 (2011): 637–55, here 638. DOI: 10.1080/08850607.2011.598779.


Cf. Zegart, Flawed by Design, 223.

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