Perlo group

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The Perlo group was a collection of Soviet spies in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s. It had sources on the War Production Board, the Senate La Follette Subcommittee on Civil Liberties; and in the United States Department of Treasury. The first Venona transcript referencing the Perlo group states all member names in clear text. Code names had not yet been assigned, except in the case of Harold Glasser, who had already been assigned a code name because of previous engagements with Soviet espionage.

The Perlo group fits into the Venona project information when transcript # 687 of 13 May 1944 is examined. Iskhak Akhmerov in New York City personally prepared a report to MGB headquarters in Moscow advising that some unspecified action had been taken regarding Elizabeth Bentley in accordance with instructions of Earl Browder. Akhmerov then made reference to winter and also to Harry Magdoff. This latter reference was then followed by a statement that in Bentley's opinion "they" are reliable. It was also mentioned that no one had interested himself in their possibilities.

The name Golovin was mentioned, and it was then reported that Victor Perlo, Charles Kramer, Edward Fitzgerald and Harry Magdoff would take turns coming to New York every two weeks. Akhmerov said Kramer and Fitzgerald knew Greg Silvermaster, whose cover name was later changed to "Robert".

Bentley advised that Jacob Golos informed her he had made contact with a group in Washington, D.C. through Earl Browder. After the death of Golos in 1943, two meetings were arranged with this group in 1944. The first meeting was arranged by Browder and was held in early 1944. The meetings were held in the apartment of John Abt in New York City and Bentley was introduced to four individuals identified as Victor Perlo, Charles Kramer, Harry Magdoff and Edward Fitzgerald.

KGB Archives

Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev in Haunted Wood, a book written from an examination of KGB Archives in Moscow, report the KGB credits the Perlo group members with having sent, among other items, the following 1945 U.S. Government documents to Moscow:


  • Contents of a WPB memo dealing with apportionment of aircraft to the USSR in the event of war on Japan;
  • WPB discussion of the production policy regarding war materials at an Executive Committee meeting;
  • Documents on future territorial planning for commodities in short supply;
  • Documents on a priority system for foreign orders for producing goods in the United States after the end of the war in Europe;
  • Documents on trade policy and trade controls after the war;
  • Documents on arms production in the United States in January 1945;


  • A WPB report on "Aluminum for the USSR and current political issues in the U.S. over aluminum supplies" (2/26/45);


  • Documents concerning the committee developing plans for the U.S. economy after the defeat of Germany, and also regarding war orders for the war against Japan;
  • Documents on the production of the B-29 bomber and the B-32;
  • Tactical characteristics of various bombers and fighters;
  • Materials on the United States using Saudi Arabian oil resources;


Data concerning plans for a 1945-1946 aircraft production from the WPB;

  • More data on specific aircrafts' technical aspects;


  • Data concerning the new Export-Import Bank;
  • Data concerning supplies of American aircraft to the Allies in June 1945;
  • Data from the top secret WPB report on U.S. war industry production in June;


  • Detailed data concerning the industrial capacities of the Western occupation zones of Germany that could be brought out as reparations;
  • Information on views within the U.S. Army circles concerning the inevitability of war against the USSR as well as statements by an air force general supporting U.S. acquisition of advanced bases in Europe for building missiles.


Victor Perlo headed the Perlo group. Perlo was originally a member of the Ware group before World War II. The ring included a Senate staff director and supplied the Soviet Union with United States aircraft production figures. Perlo infiltrated through the United States Department of Commerce in 1938 to gather data on basic economic decisions he presented to Harry Hopkins, Secretary of Commerce. He transferred to the Division of Monetary Research, and served under Harry Dexter White, followed by Frank Coe and Harold Glasser. Perlo left the government in 1947. Perlo also worked for the Brookings Institution and wrote American Imperialism. Perlo's code name in Soviet intelligence and in the Venona project is "Raider".


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