Journal PhotoResearcher Fuchs Caroline
At his first meeting with Kurnakov, Hall handed over documents that provided specifics both of The February 9, cable: Klaus Fuchs and Harry Gold. been in clear view since Whittaker Chambers first made his charges against Alger Hiss public on August Fuchs, as it turned out, was a Soviet agent who had kept Soviet authorities fully apprised of the Justice Department to Klaus Fuchs. analyses by Bonitz showed that an early work by Klaus Fuchs in , “The First he went to France, where he met his future wife, Grete. Keilson. She used to say was trying to fly to Prague from Raleigh, North Carolina, an. Officer Stanley.
Most, Angie thought nervously, had attended college. On a piece of paper before her were ten sets of numbers, arranged in five-digit groups. The numbers represented a coded message. Each five-digit group had a secret meaning.
Below that row of 50 numbers was another row of 50, arranged in similar groups. The supervisor told them to subtract the entire bottom row from the top row, in sequence. She intuited that the digit 4, minus the digit 9, equaled 5, because you just borrowed an invisible 1 to go beside the top number.
Angie Nanni raced through, stripping out the superfluous figures to get down to the heart of the message. Then she ran out of the room to tell her superiors they had a new candidate for the Russian code-breaking project. It also helped seal the fate of other Americans, such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.
Their conviction was based in part on the work of Angeline Nanni and a group of other extraordinary American women.
Their persistence and talent brought about one of the greatest counterespionage triumphs of the Cold War: Venona, the top-secret U. Their work unmasked such infamous spies as the British intelligence officer Kim Philby, the British diplomat Donald Maclean, the German-born scientist Klaus Fuchs and many others.
They provided vital intelligence about Soviet tradecraft. Their work was so highly classified that President Harry Truman likely did not know about it. German physicist Klaus Fuchs right helped advance the Soviet atomic program by sharing Manhattan Project secrets. A decrypted cable concerning his meeting with a Soviet courier.
The most celebrated name was that of a man, Meredith Gardner, a linguist who deciphered names and words, working closely with FBI agent Robert J. But in the cryptanalytic unit—where the tough analytic math was done, where the messages were prepared and matched, where the breakthroughs happened, where the numbers were so painstakingly stripped—the face of Venona was different: Benson, a retired historian for the National Security Agency. Benson interviewed some of them for a classified internal history of Venona, only portions of which have been declassified and released online.
More important, while the exploits of Gardner and other men have been the focus of entire books, the women themselves did not talk about their work—not to their friends, not to their families, hardly to each other.
Most took the secret to their graves. This article is based on exclusive interviews with Nanni, the last living member of the original team of Venona women; relatives of code breakers who are no longer alive; and NSA and CIA publications that detail how the project unfolded.
It marks the first time that any of the female Venona code breakers has given an interview to a reporter. Even now, talking about her career makes Angie Nanni nervous: She and her colleagues—young women from rural towns—were privy to some of the most closely held secrets of Cold War espionage. Anybody who saw the women together could easily mistake them for a suburban garden club. They wore shift dresses, big hair, fishbowl glasses.
They liked to picnic, shop, play bridge, bowl together. Most started out as schoolteachers. They had ferocious intellects, a powerful command of languages and math, a steely commitment to public service and an almost familial devotion to one another.
Like Angie Nanni, most of them came to Washington during the war and never left. Bachelorhood kind of came with the territory: She dresses in la bella figura tradition, with startlingly brilliant gold jewelry and bright, well-tailored clothing. She still cooks for herself; grocery shops; walks every day. And she still lives in the same downtown apartment, exotically decorated with knickknacks she picked up on travels and at antiques stores. The Venona messages were encoded in a fiendishly complex system, so difficult to crack that the women mined the same trove for decades, endlessly going over code groups, digging out names, going back and back as new information came to light.
At the peak of the Cold War—which was also the peak of the baby boom, an era when American women were urged to spend their lives as homemakers—it was women who started Venona.
It was women who kept Venona going, and women who rolled Venona up. In the early s, after Angeline Nanni had established herself as a member of the Venona team, she sprang for a professional portrait. The Russians had a well-earned reputation for creating unbreakable codes, and U. But the Soviets were unpredictable, and it would be vital to know their intentions in a postwar world. The collection of intercepts had begun earlier, and somewhat by accident: Starting inSoviet communications were vacuumed up as part of a massive Allied effort to intercept transmissions sent by the Germans, Japanese and other Axis nations.
When the United States abruptly entered the war on December 8,the Office of Censorship began to receive a copy of every international cable. There, the Soviet messages accumulated in a wooden file cabinet, and then another, and another. Nobody knew what to do with them, but no crackerjack code-breaking operation throws any message away.
By earlythe head of Army intelligence, Carter Clarke, had come to distrust the Soviets, ally or not. If they were planning to broker a separate peace with Germany, Clarke wanted to be able to warn his bosses. At about the same time, a bright young home economics teacher was becoming discontented with the charms of rural southwest Virginia.
NOVA Online | Secrets, Lies, and Atomic Spies | Read Venona Intercepts: February 9,
Gene Grabeel, 23, had grown up in Lee County. Her hometown, Rose Hill, had people, a grocery, a church and a service station. Her mother raised chickens and sold eggs, and her father farmed tobacco and worked a variety of jobs. The Grabeels had a tradition of sending their girls to college.
At the time, the only job a female college graduate could reliably expect was teaching school, and Gene taught home economics to teenage girls in Madison Heights, Virginia. When she told her father she hated it, he urged her to find work that made her happy.
At a holiday dance in her hometown during the Christmas season inshe chatted with a childhood acquaintance, Frank Rowlett, who was now a top official in the Signal Intelligence Service. Rowlett confided that there was better work in Washington. By that time, the Army had sent a handful of officers out to seek recruits for its code-breaking operation.
- Klaus Fuchs arrested for passing atomic bomb information to Soviets
Since most of the men were off fighting, the recruiters focused on women. Ninety percent of Arlington Hall code breakers would be women. Grabeel traveled to the post office in Lynchburg to hand her application for war work to a recruiter named Paavo Carlson. He offered her a job—doing what, he could not say, because nobody had told him, either—and asked her to head for the capital as soon as she could. On Sunday, December 28,she arrived by train and took a cab to Arlington Hall, where she was given hasty training in the art and science of breaking codes.
At Arlington Hall, most work focused on Japanese Army codes, but Grabeel, four weeks after arriving, was directed to attack the Soviet intercepts, an immensely secret and sensitive task even in that secret and sensitive place. Her code-breaking partner was Second Lt. Leonard Zubko, a Rutgers graduate fresh out of infantry school at Fort Benning. Eager to command troops, Zubko later figured he got this desk job because he knew Russian.
He did not enjoy it.
Klaus Fuchs arrested for passing atomic bomb information to Soviets - HISTORY
He and Grabeel were seated in one corner of a room and told to speak only in whispers. The other occupant was a British liaison officer—an odd allotment of office space, as the British were not to know what was going on. And so Venona began: The first thing Grabeel and Zubko did was try to get a grip on what, exactly, they had.
Before long, Zubko was replaced.
The Women Code Breakers Who Unmasked Soviet Spies
Other men came and went. As often happens in code-breaking, enemy countries became an odd sort of ally. Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was born in Germany in Hounded by the Nazis because of his Communist proclivities, Fuchs fled to England, where he became a naturalized citizen.
A bright young physicist, he was hired to work on the British atomic bomb project in Soon afterward he started spying for the Soviets. Released from prison the day before, Klaus Fuchs, 48, prepares to board a flight to East Germany on June 24, When the United States entered the war, Great Britain merged its atom-bomb effort with America's, sending over 15 of its leading scientists.
The group was investigating ways to separate U from U U is better suited to generating an atomic explosion than the heavier isotope of uranium. As this cable suggests, Fuchs kept right on spying once he reached America, offering secrets about the two processes for separating isotopes of uranium then being explored by Manhattan Project scientists—gaseous diffusion and the electromagnetic method. When the war ended, Britain reestablished its own atomic-bomb project, which Fuchs rejoined in mid Harry Gold spent 16 years behind bars for his role as courier for Fuchs and other spies.