Greg Silvermaster

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Greg Silvermaster

Nathan Gregory Silvermaster (27 November 1898–1964) was born in Russia, attended school in China, received a B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle and a Ph.D. from the University of California. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1927.

Contents

KGB in the USG

Silvermaster headed up a very large KGB operation inside the United States Government (USG) during World War II. Elizabeth Bentley idenitifed Silvermaster as a long-time courier for Soviet intelligence. While nominally remaining on the employment rolls of the Farm Security Administration, Silvermaster arranged in 1942 to be detailed to the Board of Economic Warfare. The transfer, however, triggered objections from military counter-intelligence who suspected he was a hidden Communist and regarded him as a security risk. On 16 July, the U.S. Civil Service Commission recommended "Cancel eligibilities...and bar him for the duration of the National Emergencey."

Silvermaster denied any Communist links and appealed to Under Secretary of War Robert Patterson to overrule the security officials. Harry Dexter White contacted Patterson and told him that suspicions about Silvermaster were baseless. Lauchlin Currie, a presidential aide personally phoned Patterson and urged a reconsideration of Silvermaster’s case. Silvermaster subsequently received two promotions and pay raises.

At the War Production Board Silvermaster was able to provide the Soviet Union with a large amount of data on arms, aircraft, and shipping production. In June 1943, Silvermaster sent a War Production Board report on arms production in the United States, including bombers, pursuit planes, tanks, propelled guns, howitzers, radar and submarines, sub chasers, and the like, to Soviet intelligence. Then in December 1944, the New York KGB office cabled another Silvermaster report stating: “(Silvermaster) has sent us a 50-page Top Secret War Production Board report . . . on arms production in the U.S.”

Silvermaster is also associated with Harry Dexter White at the Bretton Woods conference, and his testimony before the US Senate Internal Security Subcommittee covers “175 pages of interrogation and exhibits” regarding his espionage activities in the US. His code name in Soviet intelligence and in the Venona files is "Pal", "Pel" and "Pol" (i.e. Paul).

Chronology

Silvermaster group

The Silvermaster ring operated primarily in the Department of the Treasury but also had contacts in the Army Air Force and in the White House. Sixty-one of the Venona cables concern the activities of the Silvermaster spy ring.

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