My reason for writing this book is very simple: I would like to keep the record straight. I want to put in permanent form the full story of my experiences as a Lend-Lease expediter and liaison officer with the Russians during the war, when I served for two crucial years, from May 1942 to June 1944, both at Newark Airport and at the big air base at Grand Falls, Montana.
I went into the Army as a businessman in my forties and a veteran of World War I. From the First, as my story shows, I worked wholeheartedly on behalf of the Russians because, like everyone else, I considered it my duty to do so. That they were satisfied with my efforts is indicated by the fact that it was Colonel Kotikov, head of the Russian mission at Great Falls, who requested my promotion to Major.
But the tremendous volume of Lend-Lease material going through under “diplomatic immunity,” the infiltration of Soviet agents through the Pipeline, the shipments of non-military supplies and even military secrets, were more than I could stomach. I finally protested through proper channels, first in Great Falls, and then in Washington; nothing happened. This was in 1944, while I was still in the Army.
When the atom bomb was first dropped in August, 1945 I learned the full meaning of a word – uranium – I had already encountered in my contact with Colonel Kotikov. When the President announced in 1949 that the Russians had the bomb, I went to see Senator Bridge and my story was thoroughly investigated by the F.B.I. as well as by Fulton Lewis, Jr., who interviewed me on his broadcasts. There followed one Congressional hearing in December, 1949 and another in March, 1950.
I have been shocked at the efforts of the character assassins and press experts to keep the implications of this story from being brought into proper focus. A vicious attack was launched against Fulton Lewis, Jr., and the sniping at me has continued for nearly three years, in the vain hope that this story would never be evaluated and understood by the public. (Incidentally, I wish to state that Mr. Lewis has not seen the manuscript of this book, nor had any connection with it.)
As late as June, 1952 the Long Island Daily Press falsely declared:
“A Congressional committee, however, found no basis for (Major Jordan’s) charges.”
On the contrary, three members of the Committee stated just the opposite. First there is the following summary by Senator Richard M. Nixon, Republican nominee for Vice President. His questions are addressed to Donald T. Appell, former F.B.I. agent and the special investigator for the Committee on Un-American Activities:
Mr. Nixon: Your investigation shows first, then, that Major Jordan did, at least on two occasions, make a report concerning the passage of materials through Great Falls?
Mr. Appell: Yes.
Mr. Nixon: As I recall, Mr. Chambers had to tell his story five times before any cognizance was taken of his charges. So apparently if Major Jordan had told his more than twice he might have gotten the Government to do something about it. But be that as it may, as I see it at present time the issues are five.
First of all, the charge was made that if the shipments were going through, Major Jordan should have made a report. In this regard, he did make a report of the charges at least on two occasions. Is that correct?
Mr. Appell: Yes.
Mr. Nixon: As far as you have been able to find, at least two reports were made?
Mr. Appell: Yes; that is correct.
Mr. Nixon: Another point that was made was whether or not he tore radar equipment out of C-47 planes. As I understand, this particular phase of his story was questioned in the article in Life magazine, in which they said that the report that Mr. Jordan ripped out radar equipment from C-47s was preposterous, and they quoted his superior officer, Meredith, in that respect; and it was further said that as a matter of fact no C-47s were equipped with radar at the time mentioned by Major Jordan.
The investigation of the committee, in addition to your own, has shown, (1) that the C-47s equipped with radar and going to Russia did go through Great Falls; and (2) that Mr. Jordan specifically asked permission of Colonel Gitzinger in Daytona to tear the radar equipment out of a specific plane on one occasion.
Mr. Appell: That is correct, and he received that permission from Colonel Gitzinger.
Mr. Nixon: Then on the point of whether Mr. Jordan did or did not tear radar out of a plane, your investigation substantiates Major Jordan?
Mr. Appell: That is correct.
Mr. Nixon: Another point that Major Jordan made was that certain documents were going through Great Falls under diplomatic immunity; that he broke into the cases, examined the documents, and that some of the material in there which he examined consisted of plans, secret material, and so on, which it would be assumed would not be regarded under diplomatic immunity.
I think it is quite clear from your testimony that that phase of Major Jordan’s testimony stands up; is that correct?
Mr. Appell: Well, we do know, we are in contact with a witness, a former employee of the Russian Purchasing Commission, who helped pack one pouch of so-called diplomatic mail that went through, and we know it contained material highly secretive on industrial and war developments . . .
Mr. Nixon: Is it the intention of the staff, then, to present the witness [Victor A. Kravchenko] who may be able to substantiate, at least in part, Major Jordan’s testimony that secret material was going through?
Mr. Appell: That is correct. [Mr. Kravchenko’s testimony is quoted on pages 257-67.]
Mr. Nixon: On the point of the so-called shipments of uranium . . . the shipments went through. Is that correct?
Mr. Appell: Two specific shipments of uranium oxide and uranium nitrate and shipments of heavy water have been completely documented to include even the number of the plane that flew the uranium and heavy water to Great Falls.
Mr. Nixon: And the final point is the matter of Mr. Hopkins having attempted to expedite the shipments. Major Jordan’s testimony on that was that his notes, written at the time, showed the initials “H.H.” on one of the consignments which he broke into. Your investigation has shown no correspondence of Mr. Hopkins in which he used the initials “H.H.” Is that correct?
Mr. Appell: That which we reviewed.
Mr. Nixon: I understand that. My point is that as far as the investigation you have been able to make is concerned, you as yet have been unable to substantiate Major Jordan’s story on that point; is that correct?
Mr. Appell: Yes.
Mr. Nixon: But you have substantiated it on the four other points I mentioned?
Mr. Appell: Generally, yes.
Mr. Nixon: That is all.
Representative Harold H. Velde, also a member of the Committee, put this question to the investigator:
“Was Major Jordan’s story, as far as your investigation was concerned, ever discredited by any of the witnesses whom you contacted?”
Mr. Appell: “No.”
Finally, Representative Bernard W. Kearney of New York State made this statement:
“Listening to the testimony here, it seems to me the only one who did do his duty was Major Jordan. On two separate occasions, Major Jordan not only brought all this to the attention of his superior officers, but as a result conferences were held by various (Government) agencies named * – then it was dropped.”
With regard to the Hopkins note and the Hopkins telephone call (which are fully discussed in Chapter 6), I realize that there is only my word for them. But suppose that a letter of Hopkins signed “H.H.” existed, would that prove my charge that I saw a particular note on White House stationery in a black suitcase on a plane headed for Russia? Of course not. Why, then, have some persons insisted that producing such a signature is necessary, when such evidence would prove nothing?
Perhaps because they were impelled to raise a smoke screen. My point was that my notation of the signature (reproduced in center section of this edition) was “H.H.”, just as President Roosevelt sent Hopkins memos addressed “H.H.” (See Roosevelt and Hopkins by Robert Sherwood, page 409).
Since I have neither the letter itself or the transcript of the phone call, I have only my word to offer. I ask the reader only one thing: please reserve your judgment until you finish this book.
I am not a professional soldier, though I have served in two wars. I am a businessman who volunteered in the interests of my country. There is no reason, fortunately, for me to pull punches because of any pressures which can be applied to me. I have called the plays as I saw them.
I most sincerely acknowledge the assistance of those who have helped me with this volume: Colonel William L. Rich, Paul R. Berryman, John Frank Stevens, and Colonel Theodore S. Watson and his friends for their advice and insistence that I take leave of my business and spend the two years of effort necessary; and the writer whom a good friend of mine prevailed upon to undertake the Herculean job of sorting, rewriting, checking and preparing the data I have used – Richard L. Stokes, General Robert E. Wood and Eldon Martin of Chicago, for securing documents for reproduction; Mr. Robert A. Hug, N.Y. Public Library, microfilm division, for patient aid in research; and finally, my publishers for their patience and perseverance in seeing this book through this press.
George Racey Jordan
East Hampton, Long Island
August 1, 1952
“Mr. Brown” and the Start of a Diary
Late one day in May, 1942, several Russians burst into my office at Newark Airport, furious over an outrage that had just been committed against Soviet honor. They pushed me toward the window where I could see evidence of the crime with my own eyes.
They were led by Colonel Anatoli N. Kotikov, the head of the Soviet mission at the airfield. He had become a Soviet hero in 1935 when he made the first seaplane flight from Moscow to Seattle alone the Polar cap; Soviet newspapers of that time called him the “Russian Lindbergh.” He had also been an instructor of the first Soviet parachute troops, and he had 38 jumps to his credit.
I had met Colonel Kotikov only a few days before, when I reported for duty on May 10, 1942. My orders gave the full title of the Newark base as “UNITED NATIONS DEPOT NO. 8, LEND-LEASE DIVISION, NEWARK AIRPORT, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, INTERNATIONAL SECTION, AIR SERVICE COMMAND, AIR CORPS, U.S. ARMY.”
I was destined to know Colonel Kotikov very well, and not only at Newark. At that time he knew very little English, but he had the hardihood to rise at 5:30 every morning for a two-hour lesson. Now he was pointing out the window, shaking his finger vehemently.
There on the apron before the administration building was a medium bomber, an A-20 Douglas Havoc. It had been made in an American factory. It had been donated by American Lend-Lease, is was to be paid for by American taxes, and it stood on American soil. Now it was ready to bear the Red Star of the Soviet Air Force. As far as the Russians and Lend-Lease were concerned, it was a Russian plane. It had to leave the field shortly to be hoisted aboard one of the ships in a convoy that was forming to leave for Murmansk and Kandalaksha. On that day the Commanding Officer was absent and, as the acting Executive Director, I was in charge.
I asked the interpreter what “outrage” had occurred. It seemed that a DC-3, a passenger plane, owned by American Airlines, had taxied from the runway and, in wheeling about on the concrete plaza to unload passengers, had brushed the Havoc’s engine housing. I could easily see that the damage was not too serious and could be repaired. But that seemed to be beside the point. What infuriated the Russians was that it be tolerated for one minute that an American commercial liner should damage, even slightly, a Soviet warplane!
The younger Russians huddled around Colonel Kotikov over their Russian-English dictionary, and showed me a word: “punish.” In excited voices they demanded: “Pooneesh — peelote!” I asked what they wanted done to the offending pilot. One of them aimed an imaginary revolver at his temple and pulled the trigger.
“You’re in America,” I told him. “We don’t do things that way. The plane will be repaired and ready for the convoy.”
They came up with another word: “Baneesh!” They repeated this excitedly over and over again. Finally I understood that they wanted not only the pilot, but American Airlines, Inc., expelled from the Newark field.
I asked the interpreter to explain that the U.S. Army has no jurisdiction over commercial companies. After all, the airlines had been using Newark airport long before the war and even before La Guardia Airport existed. I tried to calm down the Russians by explaining that our aircraft maintenance officer, Captain Roy B. Gardner, would have the bomber ready for its convey even if it meant a special crew working all night to finish the job.
I remembered what General Koenig had said about the Russians when I went to Washington shortly after Pearl Harbor. He knew that in 1917 I had served in the Flying Machine Section, U.S. Signal Corps, and that I had been in combat overseas. When he told me there was an assignment open for a Lend-Lease liaison officer with the Red Army Air Force, I was eager to hear more about it.
“It’s a job, Jordan, that calls for an infinite amount of tact to get along with the Russians,” the General said. “They’re tough people to work with, but I think you can do it.”
Thus I had been assigned to Newark for the express purpose of expediting the Lend-Lease program. I was determined to perform my duty to the best of my ability. I was a “re-tread” as they called us veterans of World War I and a mere Captain by the age of 44 — but I had a job to do and I knew I could do it. The first days had gone reasonably well and I rather liked Kotikov. But there was no denying it, the Russians were tough people to work with.
As my remarks about repairing the bomber on time were being translated, I noticed that Colonel Kotikov was fidgeting scornfully. When I finished, he made an abrupt gesture with his hand. “I call Mr. Hopkins,” he announced.
It was the first time I had heard him use this name. It seemed such an idle threat, and a silly one. What did Harry Hopkins have to do with Newark Airport? Assuming that Kotikov carried out his threat, what good would it do? Commercial planes, after all, were under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aeronautics Board.
“Mr. Hopkins fix,” Colonel Kotikov asserted. He looked at me and I could see now that he was amused, in a grim kind of way. “Mr. Brown will see Mr. Hopkins — no?” he said smiling.
The mention of “Mr. Brown” puzzled me, but before I had time to explore this any further, Kotikov was barking at the interpreter that he wanted to call the Soviet Embassy in Washington. All Russian long-distance calls had to be cleared through my office, and I always made sure that the Colonel’s, which could be extraordinarily long at times, were put through “collect.” I told the operator to get the Soviet Embassy, and I handed the receiver to Kotikov.
By this time the other Russians had been waved out of the office, and I was sitting at my desk. Colonel Kotikov began a long harangue over the phone in Russian, interrupted by several trips to the window. The only words I understood were “American Airlines,” “Hopkins,” and the serial number on the tail which he read out painfully in English. When the call was completed, the Colonel left without a word. I shrugged my shoulders and went to see about the damaged Havoc. As promised, it was repaired and ready for hoisting on shipboard when the convoy sailed.
That, I felt sure, was the end of the affair.
I was wrong. On June 12th the order came from Washington not only ordering American Airlines off the field, but directing every aviation company to cease activities at Newark forthwith. The order was not for a day or a week. It held for the duration of the war, though they called it a “Temporary Suspension.”
I was flabbergasted. It was the sort of thing one cannot quite believe, and certainly cannot forget. Would we have to jump whenever Colonel Kotikov cracked the whip? For me, it was going to be a hard lesson to learn.
Captain Gardner, who had been at Newark longer than I, and who was better versed in what he called the “push-button system,” told me afterwards that he did not waste a second after I informed him that Colonel Kotikov had threatened to “call Mr. Hopkins.” He dashed for the best corner in the terminal building, which was occupied by commercial airlines people, and staked out a claim by fixing his card on the door. A few days later the space was his.
I was dazed by the speed with which the expulsion proceedings had taken place. First, the CAB inspector had arrived. Someone in Washington, he said, had set off a grenade under the Civil Aeronautics Board. He spent several days in the control tower, and put our staff through a severe quiz about the amount of commercial traffic and whether it was interfering with Soviet operations. The word spread around the field that there was going to be hell to pay. Several days later, the order of expulsion arrived. A copy of the order is reproduced in chapter nine of this edition, a masterpiece of bureaucratic language.
I had to pinch myself to make sure that we Americans, and not the Russians, were the donors of Lend-Lease. “After all, Jordan,” I told myself, “you don’t know the details of the whole operation; this is only one part of it. You’re a soldier, and besides you were warned that this would be a tough assignment.” At the same time, however, I decided to start a diary, and to collect records of one kind and another, and to make notes and memos of everything that occurred. This was a more important decision than I realized.
Keeping a record wasn’t exactly a revolutionary idea in the Army. I can still see Sergeant Cook, at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1917, with his sandy thatch and ruddy face, as he addressed me, a 19-year-old corporal, from the infinite superiority of a master sergeant in the regular Army: “Jordan, if you want to get along, keep your eyes and your ears open, keep your big mouth shut, and keep a copy of everything!”
Now I felt a foreboding that one day there would be a thorough investigation of Russian Lend-Lease. I was the only one cog in the machinery. Yet because of the fact that I couldn’t know the details of high-level strategy, I began the Jordan diaries.
These diaries consist of many components. The first was started at Newark, and later grew into two heavy binders stuffed with an exhaustive documentation of Army orders, reports, correspondence, and names of American military persons. It covers the Soviet Lend-Lease movement by ship from Newark, and by air from Great Falls and Fairbanks from early in 1942 to the summer of 1944.
The record is not only verbal but pictorial. Among many photographs there are eight which commemorate the visit to Great Falls of the most famous member of any World War I outfit — Captain “Eddie” Rickenbacker. A sort of annex, or overflow, contains oddments like a file of Tail Winds, newspaper of the 7th Ferrying Group.
The second section, also begun in Newark, is a small book with black leather covers. In this I entered the name, rank and function of every Russian who came to my knowledge as operating anywhere in the United States. The catalogue identifies 418 individuals not a few of whom were unknown to the FBI. Mr. Hoover’s men were interested enough to Photostat every page of this book.
The list proved to be of value, I was told, in tracing Communist espionage in America during the war. Incidentally, this ledger opens with what authorities have praised is a very complete roster of Soviet airbases — 21 in all, with mileages –from Bering Strait across Siberia to Moscow.
The third part, a sizable date-book in maroon linen, is the only one that follows the dictionary definition of a diary as “a record or register of daily duties and events.” It is a consecutive notation of happenings, personal and official during nine months of 1944. But we are two years ahead of ourselves, and we shall come to that period later.
An official explanation of the expulsion of the airlines from Newark Airport was necessary for public consumption, but the one given could hardly have been more preposterous. The CAB press release stated: “All air transport service at the Newark, N.J. airport was ordered suspended immediately by the Civil Aeronautics Board today . . . The Board attributed the suspension to the reduced number of airplanes available and the necessity for reducing stops as a conservative move.”
We at the airport were told there was too much commercial airplane traffic; the public was told that the ban was imposed because there were now fewer planes! And the idea that “conservation” resulted from the ban was absurd: the planes now stopped at La Guardia, which they hadn’t before, instead of at Newark!
On June 12th, the day of the ban, the identity of the “Mr. Brown” mentioned by Colonel Kotikov was revealed. His name was Molotov.
Front pages revealed that he was the President’s overnight guest at the White House. The newspapermen all knew that Molotov had been in Washington from May 29th to June 4th, traveling incognito as “Mr. Brown.” (One reporter asked Stephen Early, “Why didn’t you call him ‘Mr. Red’?”)
At Early’s request they had imposed a voluntary censorship on themselves and the visit was called the “best kept secret of the war.” At one point during this period, Molotov visited New York. Though I don’t know whether Colonel Kotikov saw him then, he obviously knew all about Molotov’s movements.
Late in the evening of Molotov’s first day at the White House, Harry Hopkins made an entry in his diary. I think it is shocking. Hopkins wrote:
“I suggested that Molotov might like to rest [Hopkins wrote].
Litivinov acted extremely bored and cynical throughout the conference. He made every effort to get Molotov to stay at the Blair House tonight but Molotov obviously wanted to stay at the White House at least one night, so he is put up in the room across the way [across from Hopkins’, that is].
I went in for a moment to talk to him after the conference and he asked that one of the girls he brought over as secretaries be permitted to come, and that has been arranged.” 
Ten days after the Molotov story broke, Harry Hopkins came to New York to address a Russian Red Rally at Madison Square Gardens. He cried:
“A second front?
“Yes, and if necessary, a third and a fourth front . . . The American people are bound to the people of the Soviet Union in the great alliance of the United Nations. They know that in the past year you have in your heroic combat against our common foe performed for us and for all humanity a service that can never be repaid.
“We are determined that nothing shall stop us from sharing with you all that we have and are in this conflict, and we look forward to sharing with you the fruits of victory and peace.”
Mr. Hopkins concluded:
“Generations unborn will owe a great measure of their freedom to the unconquerable power of the Soviet people.”
“Mr. Brown” And the Start of a Diary
- Roosevelt and Hopkins: An Intimate History, Robert E. Sherwood, (Harper, 1948), p. 560.
- Ibid, p. 588.