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CIA Museum Artifact Highlighted on NBC Nightly News

CIA Museum Director Toni Hiley discussed a unique CIA Museum artifact when she appeared on NBC Nightly News recently. View the video and transcript of her interview below.

Engel: About a year and a half ago, you acquired a unique letter

Hiley: We did. We’re always looking for unusual artifacts that can help us tell a very powerful story. And we had reached out to the Helms family for pictures of former Director Richard Helms to include in the gallery, and his son Dennis was kind enough to provide scrapbooks. So in looking through the scrapbooks, our archivist found a letter.

Engel: And this is the letter here that’s—

Hiley: This is the letter

Engel: What, on Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery?

Hiley: Yes, and the son directed this piece to our collection.

Engel: Dear Dennis: the man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins. He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty.

Engel: Your father wrote this letter to you when you were three years old.

Helms: That’s right.

Engel: When do you first remember having this in your possession?

Helms: This would’ve been when I was in high school

Engel: When you first read that—when you came across it when in high school—by accident-- do you remember your reaction, aside from thinking it was cool?

Helms: No, I thought, that was an amazing way to sum up so much in so little space. And later on I put the pieces together and realized that he was a newspaper man, so therefore he was used to writing things that were pithy and succinct.

Engel: And not only in newspaper, he worked initially for wire services where you have to really compress your thoughts down.

Helms: That’s right, he was in the United Press before it was United Press International and he covered the 1936 Olympics.

Engel: He interviewed Hitler

Helms: He interviewed Hitler and some other guys…it was a fascinating time.

Hiley: He couldn’t imagine though, that, as he wrote that letter. And look at the last sentence: “the price of ridding society of bad is always high." He couldn’t imagine that the CIA would receive that letter some 66 years later, that we would receive it the very day that we as well as you heard that Bin Ladin was dead.

Engel: You received this letter on the same day that Bin Ladin...

Hiley: The very same day. That Monday of the raid.

Engel: Wow.

Engel: He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat-- a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so. The price for ridding society of bad is always high. Love Daddy.

Historical Document
Posted: Jan 16, 2014 07:41 AM
Last Updated: Jul 10, 2014 12:19 PM