By pure serendipity, I saw this video on ebay and speculated a bit less than twenty dollars to acquire it. It was worth it.
The video is an oral history of Col. Joseph Gregory Mayton, who was chief of the Russian division of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, predecessor to the CIA). Mayton attended the 1945 Yalta conference as translator for and liason of General George Marshall and was recruited by virtue of his fluency in the Russian language.
Being the super-spy that he was, he was aware of the repression and atrocities perpetrated by Stalin and was anti-communist. This resulted in his being "blackballed" for an official position in Moscow and it is clear that the Soviets had a docier in him since, as you will see, they "knew about him" at Yalta.
Most importantly, he took his camera with him and shot video of the conference, combining it with that taken by the U.S. Army Signal Corps into a remarkable 30 minute film that contains large amounts of previously unseen footage. Some of the video, obviously outtakes, shows FDR in a state never before publicly seen, something that would never have been permitted during his lifetime.
By way of background, Mayton was born in 1897 in Russia, emigrated in 1918, spent some time in Houston (where he knew LBJ as as schoolteacher) and had some academic connection with LSU prior to his time in the service. He was discharged in October 1945. He was married, probably had no children and died in Altanta at the ripe old age of 97. This video was made in 1988, when Mayton was nearly over 90 years old, but he most definitely "has all his marbles" to put it in neurological parlance.
There is only one glaring factual error in the video, FDR's whereabouts in March 1944,but that is really not diminish the importance and credibility of Mayton's dialogue.
The host of the film, Ted Baehr, is presently director of a fundamentalist Christian film reviewing organization, but this is really all about Mayton.
The video is in five parts since one can only put 10 minute segments up on You Tube (thank goodness for 21st Century technology).
I hope you enjoy this fascinating, unique and informative historical document as much as I did.
ps. We have just (1-7-10) acquired Mayton's de-classified OSS file from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. I was made aware of it by the most accomodating President of the OSS Society, Charles Pinck (http://www.osssociety.org/) and sent my great researcher, Tim Frank, there to retrieve it. It confirms everything we know about Mayton and, among other things, reveals that he had one child, a daughter, who, if she is still alive, would be around eighty years old.)
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Sunday, December 20, 2009
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