Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Selected Documents Released under the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act

Record Group 226: Records of the Office of Strategic Services

On June 26, 2000, the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) made available to researchers approximately 400,000 pages of previously classified documents from the records of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), 1942-45, and its successor the Strategic Services Unit (SSU), 1945-46. This release contains new and historically valuable material that would not have been declassified without the passage of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act and the efforts of the National Archives and the Central Intelligence Agency under the act.

Since there was a close intelligence relationship between Britain and the U. S. during World War II, the two sides shared much information, and as a consequence the OSS release contains much British intelligence information of historical value.

British intelligence was able to intercept and decipher messages of the SS Security Service (SD) sent by radio from Rome to Berlin (and vice versa) during the late summer and fall of 1943. The translated text of the SD messages during August, September, and October 1943 may be found in the IWG release. They provide a much better picture of how the Holocaust in Italy began. One example is the translated British decrypt of a German SS Security Service (SD) communiqué from Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Head of the Reich Security Main Office, (Berlin) to Herbert Kappler, German Police Attaché in Rome, October 11, 1943, which British Intelligence furnished to the OSS. [Records of the Office of Strategic Services (RG 226), Document # 670 (CIA Box4, Project 907122).] The decrypts contain much detail about early German decisions to deport Italian Jews to Auschwitz.

One key OSS informant during WWII was an anti-Nazi German Foreign Office official named Fritz Kolbe, who carried many hundreds of documents with him on frequent visits to Switzerland, where he met with OSS officials. Kolbe, codenamed George Wood, became Allen Dulles's best source in Bern during 1944 and 1945, a story well known to intelligence historians. Many of Kolbe's documents and extracts from them are scattered throughout the open OSS collection, but this June IWG release contains a complete set of them in translation, showing that they were sent to President Roosevelt and others. By the end of the War, Kolbe had provided more than 1,600 documents to U.S. intelligence. Among these, collected in the OSS "Boston Series," is Report No. 9, hand delivered to the White House on January 10, 1944, concerning Nazi plans to roundup 8,000 Jews in Rome.
[Records of the Office of Strategic Services (RG 226), Entry 210, Box 440.]