Irving Charles Velson

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Charles Irving Velson was an American who had a long career in the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) secret apparatus and worked for Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU). He was the son of Clara Lemlich Shavelson and changed his name to Velson in 1939 or 1940. Velson worked as a machinist at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1931 to 1938.

Velson worked closely with J. Peters, head of the CPUSA's secret apparatus, and was Velson was involved with support of Cpl. Robert Osman in espionage activities on behalf of the GRU in the Panama Canal Zone, according to Congressional investigators. Robert Gladnick, a former CPUSA functionary and Lincoln Brigade supports this version. Gladnick states that Bernard Schuster (aka Bernard Chester) then director of the CPUSA's antimilitarist operations, was replaced in the mid 1930s by Velson, in a program to develop secret Communist groups among American military personnel. Venona decrypts show Velson reporting on weapons technology and other agent handling tasks.

Velsons' code name with the GRU, and as decyphered by the Venona project is "Nick".


Charles Irving Velson is referenced in the following Venona decryptions:

  • 1324 GRU New York to Moscow, 11 August 1943;
  • 1456 GRU New York to Moscow, 8 September 1943.


  • Testimony of Charles I. Velson, 26 September 1951, Unauthorized Travel of Subversives Behind the Iron Curtain on United States Passports, U.S. Congress, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act, Senate Judiciary Committee, 207–217;
  • Robert Gladnick, I Was a Fifth Columnist, Gladnick folder, Isaac Don Levine papers, Emory University Library, Atlanta, Ga.
  • The Political Graveyard
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press (1999), pgs. 185–186.