Secret Intelligence in the Twentieth Century

By Nigel West; Heike Bungert et al. | Go to book overview

2

Unresolved Issues of World War II; The Records Still Closed and the Open Records Not Used

Gerhard L. Weinberg

More than half a century after the end of World War II, numerous questions and controversies about that great conflict are still shrouded at least partly in darkness because important records are still closed to research. Exactly whom these materials are being kept from and why is frequently hard to understand. By this time, one would think that secrecy serves little purpose. Privacy considerations concerning some records about individuals will remain for a few years yet, but national security? Whose, and from whom? The far greater danger, to which I have called attention repeatedly, is that the records themselves will have degenerated physically beyond recall before they are microfilmed or made accessible, or both; 1 but I suppose that this possibility is of little concern to those who insist that some files of the 1930s and 1940s cannot yet be seen by scholars.

In discussing the records still closed, recently released, and long since open but inadequately utilized, the discussion here is limited to materials which relate to intelligence in the broadest sense, including espionage and signals intelligence. The largest and most obvious collection of records still closed is that of the former Soviet Union. As David Glantz and Jonathan House make clear in their recent comprehensive study of the war on the Eastern Front, the archives of the former Soviet Union are steadily closing, not opening; and most of the operational records, to say nothing of the intelligence records, are simply not accessible to scholars on a regular and equal basis. Those with enough hard currency to dole out can get access to

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