About CIA

 

Office Of Strategic Services

Enigma Machine

During World War II, the Germans used the Enigma, a cipher machine, to develop nearly unbreakable codes for sending secret messages. The Enigma's settings offered 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible solutions, yet the Allies were eventually able to crack its code.

The machine was developed by the Dutch to communicate banking secrets. The Germans bought the patent in 1923 for intelligence purposes. Polish intelligence was able to purchase an Enigma at a trade fair and procure a codebook from a French agent. When Poland was overrun in 1939, the Poles realized they wouldn’t have capabilities to solve the code and gave the information and machine to the Allies.

By end of the war, the British were reading 10 percent of all German Enigma communications at Bletchley Park, in England, on the world’s first electromagnetic computers.

This is a three-rotor Enigma. The Germans eventually added two more rotors, and with each change, Allies had to obtain a new machine and codebooks.

32 cm x 26 cm x 15 cm
(L x W x H)

 

Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife

Introduced in 1941, this knife is named after its two British designers, Captains W. E. Fairbairn and E. A. Sykes. While serving with the Shanghai Police, they gained experience in close-combat fighting. Fairbairn and Sykes designed the weapon for striking at vulnerable parts of an opponent’s body, especially the vital organs.

Because of its effectiveness, the knife quickly became a favorite of British commandos. Fairbairn was later loaned to the Office of Strategic Services as an instructor. While with OSS, he created a special version of the knife for them. Successor versions of the weapon were made well into the 1990s.

29.2 cm x 5 cm x 1.5 cm
(L x W x H)

Helms Letter

As Americans celebrated victory in Europe in May 1945, Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer Richard Helms wrote this touching and eloquent letter to his young son on a captured sheet of Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery. Helms’s words captured the meaning of the war, not only for OSS but for many others who had fought against Hitler. Helms would later become Director of Central Intelligence.

Richard Helms

Richard Helms was a natural-born intelligence officer. Throughout his life he was the soul of professionalism and discretion. An Easterner with an impeccable resume, he worked as a journalist in Berlin in the 1930s, saw Jesse Owens win the 200-yard dash at the 1936 Olympics, and chatted with Hitler.

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Navy, served in New York, and got pitched by an OSS officer who said that he was “a natural” for “black propaganda.”  Accepting the pitch meant starting on a long career in intelligence, mostly in the field of espionage rather than “black propaganda.” Helms received only two weeks of training before being assigned to coordinate intelligence on Germany, which mostly meant handling the stream of reporting from the OSS Station in Bern.

In early 1945, he found his way overseas to London, where he worked for (and shared an apartment with) another future Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), William J. Casey. One of his most memorable tasks was to prepare young men to parachute into Germany to gather intelligence. He ended his OSS service in Berlin, where he ultimately replaced yet another future DCI, Allen W. Dulles, as Base Chief. It was, he remembered, a chaotic time of working against former Nazis as well as keeping an eye on the emerging threat from the Soviets. Helms’s assignment in Berlin was the first of a series of senior management positions that would eventually propel him to the top of CIA in 1966.

His service as DCI was marked by controversy. It did not help that he worked for two Presidents who were suspicious of CIA. Many in the Johnson Administration considered CIA analysis on Viet Nam to be too pessimistic, and Helms walked a fine line between serving the President and defending analytic integrity. During the Nixon Administration, Helms became embroiled in countering the left-wing takeover of Chile and had to fend off White House pressure for CIA to help quash the Watergate investigation. By the end of 1973, President Nixon had had enough of Helms and asked him to resign. He refused, but eventually accepted the President’s proposal to appoint him Ambassador to Iran, his last senior Government post.

 

Machete

One of the most famous knife types in the world, the machete was quite capable of cutting its way through the dense jungles of Burma. Its lengthy blade could also deliver a devastating blow to an enemy. OSS acquired machetes with blades between 18 and 22 inches long.

59cm x 5 cm x 2 cm

(L x W x H)

 

Office of Strategic Services Blood Chit

This silk blood chit was issued for use by the Office of Strategic Services in the China-Burma-India Theater. Written in several native languages, it reads, “This foreign person (American) has come to China to help the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should save and protect him.”

20 cm x 21cm
(L x W)

 

Office of Strategic Services Compass

This was used by an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer who served with OSS Detachment 202 in the China-Burma-India Theater. After first commanding an OSS base at Kunming, China, he then established a new tactical OSS unit that recruited, trained, supplied, and directed numerous guerillas and intelligence operatives north of the Yangtze River. His teams destroyed two spans of the Yellow River Bridge and cut the Peking-Hankow Railroad in numerous locations.

11cm x 5 cm x 3 cm
(L x W x H)


Office of Strategic Services Escape & Evasion Knife

This knife was used by British and American demolitionists during WWII. A member of an Office of Strategic Services Jedburgh team carried this on his first mission as he parachuted into Nazi-occupied France.

15 cm x 2 cm 1.5 cm
(L x W x cm)


Office of Strategic Services Letter Removal Device

During World War II, one used this special pincer device to take letters from their envelopes without opening the seals. By inserting it into the unsealed gap at the top of an envelope flap, one could then wind the letter around the pincers and extract the letter from within.

29.2 cm x 4.8 cm
(L x Diameter)


Office of Strategic Services Patch (Replica)

General William J. Donovan, founder of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), had a patch designed by the Army Quartermaster Corps as the insignia for OSS. In a memorandum dated June 16, 1943, he stated:

"Black is associated with activities which may be performed under cover of darkness. The gold is used for strong contrast and visibility of the insignia. The spear head is taken from the design of force of attack and defense of the nation’s honor and is indicative of opening the way to subduing the enemy’s defenses."

According to an OSS document dated July 9, 1943, anticipating that approval of the patch would be granted, General Donovan procured 195 fully-embroidered cloth shoulder sleeve insignia. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff rejected Donovan’s request. Exactly what happened to General Donovan’s unusable patches is not clear. It is thought that most were destroyed.

This patch is thought to be one worn by a CIA courier and is based on Donovan’s OSS prototype.

8 cm x 5.5 cm
(L x W)


Office of Strategic Services Pin

For identification purposes, General William J. Donovan, Director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), arranged for the design and manufacture of OSS insignia pins and made them available to former members of the OSS. The pin has the letters "OSS" stamped in gold on a red enamel background.

Shortly after the end of the war and upon the disbanding of OSS, General Donovan sent OSS veterans a letter offering the pin:


28 September 1945

To Former Members of OSS:

It is my pleasure to forward to you the enclosed certificate commemorating your service in World War II as a members of the Office of Strategic Services. This certificate exemplifies in a tangible way my feeling that some such recognition should be given to personnel of OSS as evidence of the resourcefulness, courage and devotion to duty shown by the men and women of the Agency who provided our Nation with an unprecedented service which hastened the day of victory.

To provide identification of the members of the organization, a group of former OSS associates has arranged for the design and manufacture of insignia available to those who are receiving certificates. The insignia is a lapel emblem which has the letters "OSS" stamped in gold on a red enamel background. At the request of this group there is enclosed herewith a coupon for the use of those who wish to procure such emblems.

I also enclose the text of remarks made at a meeting of OSS personnel held on 28 September, and a copy of President Truman's letter to me. The credit for OSS accomplishments belongs to the superior personnel who made them possible. I am deeply grateful for your loyal and effective contribution.

Sincerely,

William J. Donovan
Director

0.5 cm x 1.3 cm
(H x Diameter)

 

Office of Strategic Services Silk Escape and Evasion Map

Printed on silk, which is durable, this map doesn’t rustle at night and can be folded up very compactly to be more easily concealed. The map is printed with waterproof dyes so the colors would not run if it got wet.

86 cm x 75 cm
(L x W)


Stella Uzdawinis’s Office of Strategic Services Pendant

During World War II, Stella Uzdawinis served as a civilian in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). She was assigned to the Research and Analysis Branch; this office analyzed enemy intentions and capabilities. She then went on to work in the Secret Intelligence Branch (SI) that was directly involved in the secret collection of intelligence.

While assigned to SI, she was stationed in France and worked as a communicator, probably a Lithuanian translator. After the war she was employed as a civilian in the US Army until her retirement in April 1968. She never told any of her family about her career with the OSS, which they did not learn of until after her death when they found photos and this pendant.

 

Shortly after the end of the war and upon the disbanding of OSS, General Donovan sent OSS veterans a letter offering the pin:

28 September 1945

To Former Members of OSS:

It is my pleasure to forward to you the enclosed certificate commemorating your service in World War II as a members of the Office of Strategic Services. This certificate exemplifies in a tangible way my feeling that some such recognition should be given to personnel of OSS as evidence of the resourcefulness, courage and devotion to duty shown by the men and women of the Agency who provided our Nation with an unprecedented service which hastened the day of victory.

To provide identification of the members of the organization, a group of former OSS associates has arranged for the design and manufacture of insignia available to those who are receiving certificates. The insignia is a lapel emblem which has the letters "OSS" stamped in gold on a red enamel background. At the request of this group there is enclosed herewith a coupon for the use of those who wish to procure such emblems.

I also enclose the text of remarks made at a meeting of OSS personnel held on 28 September, and a copy of President Truman's letter to me. The credit for OSS accomplishments belongs to the superior personnel who made them possible. I am deeply grateful for your loyal and effective contribution.

Sincerely,

William J. Donovan
Director

3 cm x 1.2 cm x .3 cm
(L x W x H)


Stereoscope and Case

During World War II, Allied photographic interpreters used the stereoscope to analyze photos of enemy territory taken by airplane-mounted cameras. Three-dimensional views were possible using stereo image pairs.

16 cm x 8.3 cm x 2.7 cm
(L x W x H)

 

Woodsman’s Pal Knife

An essential part of the survival kit for American forces in the Philippines, China, and Burma, this knife was ideal for cutting through jungle brush. It also had potential as a combat knife—its manufacturer provided instructions on how to use the Woodsman’s Pal to defeat a Japanese soldier armed with a samurai sword.

42 cm x 14 cm x 2 cm

(L x W x H)


Posted: Jul 23, 2012 09:04 AM
Last Updated: Nov 21, 2012 08:31 AM