[bas relief by Oleh Lesiuk]
Transcriptions of MI5 / MI6 Case File Intelligence Records on the Covert Soviet NKVD Organisation Known as Wostwag.
PRO Research by Nigel Linsan Colley (Oct 2005 - January 2007)
[NB - THIS IS PAGE TWO OF THE DOCUMENT CLICK HERE FOR PAGE 1]
Wostwag was a very commercially successful trading cover for the Soviet secret services' operations across the world in the 1920s and 1930s, acting as a cover for many illegal 'Rezident' agents and providing funds for local Communist parties. Its connection with the NKVD was brought to Western security agency's notice in the late 1920s by NKVD defector, Walter Krivitsky.
Originating in Germany in 1924; after the accession to power of Hitler, to avoid 'Nazification' and undue interest into its affairs, its international branch offices became autonomous creating a very complicated structure of separate companies.
Out in China, Wostwag had a sole monopoly of trade with Urga in Outer Mongolia, with 50% of its profits going straight to the Moscow State bank, Its operations concentrated on the fur business - in 1936, its General Manager Adam Purpiss, who had sole power of attorney over the company's finances banked over $900,000 in the Chase Manhattan Bank, New York. Evidence shows some of these funds were used for purchasing aeroplanes from America and Holland for Outer Mongolia - but the Chase believed that Purpiss was and a former member of the Cheka and also "one of the shrewdest and cleverest men the Far East"..
Wostwag were alleged by the Chinese police "to have imported arms and ammunition for the Chinese Communists and to have acted as their bankers”.
The following information comes from British Public Records Office files KV2 /1902 & KV2/1655
[Transcription notes – the original copies are in some places very blurred, especially in so far as deciphering individual spelling on persons names and “?” marks are used appropriately. E&OE. Also, if you choose to use the PRO information elsewhere please courteously cite www.garethjones.org as your source of transcription. Finally, this information is offered and provided FOC in the hope of if you are able to contribute any information in return, then you will do so, so as to aid my personal quest into further researching the murder of Gareth Jones
(For background info into the tie-up with Adam Purpis & Wostwag with Gareth's murder, please see Chapter 1 of M.S. Colley's book: 'Gareth Jones - A Manchukuo Incident' - CLICK HERE -
For the salient 34-year MI6 case file on the covert Soviet activities of Gareth's co-captive, the German journalist Dr Herbert Mueller, who invited Gareth on his last fateful journey provided courtesy of Wostwag, and who was was released unharmed after two days in captivity CLICK HERE.)
FYI – references to my original JPG photos are accompanied by thumbnails to medium resolution pictures of the original documents. - A zipped file of all photos below is available on request as well as individual high resolution images
– Thank you in advance for any constructive criticism and feedback, Nigel Colley (direct email: nigel 'at' colley.co.uk) –- January 2007.]
THE FOREIGN SERVICE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
July 16, 1938.
Dear Captain Liddell:
[next four pages not copied]
[The allotment of shares from Feb 25, 1936; Zloczower is down for 10,999 shares and Glucksmann] … for 8,999 shares which indicate that one share of each has been re-transferred to [Henry Charles] Edwards and [Leonard] Olive [a London Solicitor’s clerk].
Dear [Herschel V] Johnson
Thank you for your letter of 16th July .
The information that EHRENLIEB and ZLOCZOWER of the Far eastern Fur Trading Company were at some time connected with Wostwag West-Osteurpaeische Warenaustausch Aktiengesellschaft of 19 Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin, N.W. 6 is of great interest to us. Our own information regarding Wostwag confirms your report that it was at one time a cover for Soviet Underground Activities. It was reported to us in 1929 that the firm was acting as a centre for G.P.U. financial transactions in Europe. This was to some extent bone out when in 1933 the Far eastern branch of the Company at 49, Taku Road, Tientsin, was visited by a known Soviet agent, Albert Feierabend (last mentioned in your letter dated 29th April, 1938).
With regard to Adam PURPISS, this man was known to us in 1937 as head of the Tienstisn branch of Wostwag. The same report of that year mentioned that Wostwag had been in engaged in trade with, or for, the Soviets in Mongolia for many years passed. On10.17.36, PURPISS is said to have been granted Honduras Passport No. 160 in Paris. Soon afterwards, he left for London on “Fur Buiness”. He arrived at Croydon from Amsterdam on 23.10.36 and left again on 27.10.36 for Berlin. This is interesting in view of the fact that the headquarters of the Wostwag organisation are presumably still at 19, Schiffbauerdamm, Berlin, N.W. 6. PURPISS is apparently a Lativian, and is sometimes stated to have been born at Krostavos and sometimes at Honduras, the date of his birth being 14.5.83.
We shall attempt to gather as much information as we can about the activities of EHRENLIEB and ZLOCZOWER, and of the Fur Trading Company in London, but in this we will bear in mind your particular request that no direct enquiries should be made which might cause them to suspect that a general investigation is in progress.
Colonel Sir Vernon Kell
THE FOREIGN SERVICE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
1, Grosvenor Square
September 29, 1938.
The information contained in ypour PF 4551/B.4b, of July 22 last, was discretely conveyed to Dunn in Washington, who has replied that your information about the visit of Albert Feierabend is certainly of interest and, strangely enough, while this is the first concrete evidence we have of Feierabend’s connection we have suspected a possible tie-up from the very start of this case.
With regard to Adam Purpiss, he is actually the head of the entire organization in China. His Honduran passport appears to have been obtained regularly in Paris on July 10, 1936, but it has been repudiated by the Honduran Foreign Office. (This is for your confidential information only). I believe it is safe to assume Purpiss has never even seen Honduras.
Captain G. M. Liddell.
Box No. 500. Parliament Street, B.O.
29th October 1938
With reference to your letter dated 29th September, 1938. It may be of interest to you that Adam PURPISS arrived in this country from Paris on 11.10.38 travelling on Honduras Passport No 160. He came by air and gave as his address the Park Lane Hotel. He was described as a ‘comercant’ who had come to sell furs and skins.
PURPISS left for Calais on 17th October.
During the time he was here we were unable to obtain any further information as to his activities.
Colonel Sir Vernon Kell
N. D. Borum Esq.,
THE FOREIGN SERVICE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
1, Grosvenor Square
February 24, 1939.
Referring to your letter dated October 29, 1938, File PF. 46551/B.4b, regarding the arrival in this country on October 11th last of Adam Purpiss, information has been received to the effect that the Honduran Government has repudiated the document on which this man travelled.
The set-up which has been established in the Far East under the name of the Oriental Trading and Engineering Corporation appears to now have been abandoned. It is presumed that this organisation will now operate directly through Outer Mongolia with Urga as the headquarters.
Captain G. M. Liddell.
Box No. 500. Parliament Street, B.O.
THE FOREIGN SERVICE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
London, July 15, 1940.
The information contained in your P.F.46551/B.4. of 7th June last was received in Washington with extreme interest but they have reason to doubt that all firms mentioned therein were set up and controlled by Wostwag. It has been learned from a source tested and proved reliable on numerous matters that Wostwag was established in 1922 as a German concern by the Fourth Department of the Red Army (Soviet Military Intelligence Service) as a cover for gathering military information in foreign countries.
Several of the persons mentioned in your letter under reference are known to be now in the United States posing as reputable business men. Kleges, who was personally trained in the United States in 1930 by Nicholas Dozenberg and Albert Feierabend, to prepare him for the role of an American business man in Paris, disappeared from Paris in 1938.
I shall be glad to have any additional information which may become available regarding these firms and person for transmission by cable to my opposite number.
[signed] Herschel Johnson
Captain G. M. Liddell.
Box No. 500. Parliament Street, B.O.
[CIMG0263 –Previous page of report photographically illegible – possibly retake on next PRO visit]
KRIVITSKY does not know Rubin GLUCKSMAN, the present chief of the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company in London, but is certain he is a Fourth Department man. He believes that he is not an Austrian and that his passport is a Moscow one
[NLC cross-reference NOTE – Thomas Walker – the 1935 Soviet famine photo Hearst Papers’ fraudster - AKA Robert Green – Moscow is perhaps a good place to hide for an escaped US (‘serial’ passport forger) convict from Colorado Prison for 14 years? see Krivitsky FBI FOIA files. To See THOMAS WALKER webpages on this site clcick HERE ]
KRIVITSKY regards it highly important that a thorough investigation should be made into the whole personnel of the Far Eastern Fur Trading Co., although it is possible that GLUCKSMANN himself is actually still under training and held in reserve for more active work at a later stage. This is the usual procedure for newly appointed heads of companies established by the Fourth Department.
In regard to the creation of the firm KRIVITSKY feels sure that the solicitor – Herbert OPPENHEIMER – would not have been used accidentally for the legal formalities. Something must already have been known about him in the Fourth Department. KRIVITSKY believes that he actually met him in Paris in connection with arms deals for Spain.
File No.: PF 46,551 Name: Far Eastern Fur Trading Company /
Receipt Date: Jan- Feb 1940
Original from: Branch Memoranda
Dated Jan- Feb 1940
Extracted on: 30.6.70 By: PC Section: R.5
Extract from a Branch Memoranda re Information from General KRIVITSKY during his visit to this country: - February 1940.
COVER FOR ILLEGAL RESIDENT AGENTS.
Most frequently some form of business cover would have to be arranged. Sometimes a firm was actually created for a particular purpose and sometimes it was possible to arrange through an intermediary that the intended agent should come to this country as the representative of some genuine and important firm. In these latter cases the firm would probably be quite unaware of the true character of their representative.
A highly important firm called [W]Ostwag or the Eastern Trading Company was created by the Fourth Department in Berlin in 1922. It provided a genuine business cover for a large number of Fourth Department agents.
[CIMG2455.JPG & CIMG0256.JPG page 10 – repeat of info from 1938 report at beginning of the first document?]
PURPISS is believed to be of Latvian origin and to have been born on the 14th March 1883. During 1936 and 1938, however, he was travelling on a Honduran passport obtained in Paris, which has since been repudiated.
Originally, a number of the WOSTWAG organisation in Hamburg, he first came to notice in the Far East in 1936. By then he had, however, been in Tientsin for sometime with the ORIENTAL TRADING AND MERCHANDISING COMPANY.
He was a 4th Department agent according to KRIVITSKY.
PURPISS was General Manager of WOSTWAG in the Far East and of the ORIENTAL TRADING AND MERCHANDISING COMPANY, when the latter was a subsidiary of WOSTWAG, while he was General Manager of O.T.E.C., Far East, following its purchase by the New York company of the same name.
The CHASE NATIONAL BANK of Shanghai stated quoted local reports in 1937 to the effect that PURPISS was at one time associated with the Cheka and with the 3rd International according to one report mentioned by CHASE, he was a High Commissioner for the Soviet Province of Outer Mongolia. The bank also stated that there was a certain amount of mystery concerning PURPISS’ past connections.
In April 1937, PURPISS ran a private import-export company at Kalgan (near Peking) under his own name.
PURPISS made at least two visits to the UK, one in October 1936 and a second in October 1938. On both occasions he stated he was here on “Fur Business” and on the second is known to have contacted GLUCKSMANN of the F.E.F.T.C.
M) David ROSENBLIT
Born 6th June 1889 at Wonkowitch, Russia. Married 20th April 1912, Vienna. Wife Gabrielle, born 4th June 1884 in Vienna. Children Walter, born21st September 1913, Eric, born 11th December 1920, entered USA from France on the 6th September 1939. Stated his last place of residence was Paris.
ROSENBLIT was a Director of WOSTWAG in Berlin from about 1923 up to September 1933. In 1929 an S.I.S. report on the methods used by the Comintern for transferring funds to local Communist parties named WOSTWAG, Germany, as being concerned in these transfers and cited David ROSENBLIT as the company’s liaison man with the Comintern transfer committee.
He is now in the United States (1949), where until at least 1946 he was operating an import-export firm known as SOCCOMBO
25th August 1945
Our Ref: P.F. 46551/ADF
XXX rang me up a few days ago on Mrs Archer’s suggestion, asking if he could have a look at our files of the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company, in order to get some illustration of the use which was made of such firms in financing the Russian underground activities. The files are at the moment in very full use in another investigation and it would be difficult to lay hands on them , but I have been able to have a look through them in the country and I am afraid there is very little which would help XXXX investigations.
The general matter is, of course, dealt with in our paper on the KRIVITSKI material and in particular, on Pages 11, 12 and 13, of that document. XXXXX has, of course, seen this. In addition, there is a report by the Board of Trade, Trading with the Enemy Department, on the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company. A copy of this report was sent to Vivian on the 8th June, 1940, but I am now sending you another copy in case it may be of any use to Carew Hunt. I should be grateful if you would return it to me in due course.
Will you let me know if there is any further information which XXXX wants and I will
gladly try to get it for him. If he could tell me exactly what he is after, I will have the files examined again and see if there is anything which more fully meets his requirements.
R. H. Hollis
N.A.R. Philby Esq.,
[On Sept 15, 1949, J. A. Cimpeman, Legal Attache at the US Embassy in London sent a copy of a memorandum on ‘Boris Nimton [formerly NIEMCOW / NIEMCOZ] and the Soviet cover firm WOSTWAG, which is based on the results of a recent investigation in New Jersey” to Mr K Morton Evans of MI-5 at Leconfield House, Curzon Street, London. [A copy was also sent to MI-6.]
The first six pages of the report refer to NIEMCOW specifically and his operations in the US.
In précis he was born Lepal, Russia on December 16, 1892, moved to Poland until 1916 and until 1925 held German identification papers. He studied Science of Art under protection of wealthy patron in Vienna in 1918, Berlin in 1919 & 1920, and in Dresden in 1921. Entered WOSTWAG in 1925 and became Hamburg manager in 1930.
In 1924 applied for Soviet passport and wanted to close contracts in 1926 for WOSTWAG in US with several American firms.
Immigration records showed he entered US in Oct 1935 and December 1936. He visited WRIGHT and TUPPER. In March 1937 left US on Polish passport, but was also bearer of a Lichtenstein passport.
In Oct 1937 RUBIEN was General Counsel and Secretary of OTE and stated that NIEMCOW was acting as adviser to OTE.
[CIMG2420 – Page 5 - Further background document]
NK 100 -32736
Information Concerning Wostwag
Confidential informant T-2, of known relaibility, advised that Wostwag (abbreviation WEST Ostenropaische Waren Austausch Action Gesellshaft), had been formed by the Forth Department of the Red Army in Berlin in 1922, and that AARON EHRENLIEB and his brother, ABRAHAM EHRENLIEB, Junior Staff Officers of the Fourth Department, were placed in charge. It was a business organisation used as a cover by Soviet agents for the transmital of funds and information to and from the Soviet Union. About 1926, the EHRENLIEB brothers were replaced by USCHER ZLOCZOWER.
T-2 advised that information had been recieved that during the examination of the books in London in 194, it was recently indicated that the firm was a branch of WOSTAG. For example, it was ascertained that the company was started by the EHRENLIEB brothers in February 1936, The books of the company also disclosed payments from a third organisation known as SOCIETE ANONYME FRANCAISE POUR L’IMPORTATION DE LEGUMES SECS, operated by FRANK KLEGES in Paris, and to WOSTWAG in Berlin. WOSTWAG had branches in the FAR EAST under the name Far Eastern Trading Company.
The Far Eastern Trading Company was composed of the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company at Tientsin, and other branches of WOSTWAG in Harbin. Kalgan and other places. The principal business of the firm was the sale of Russian produce in Germany passed to them through the Soviet Trade Delegation at Berlin. T-2 advised that the proceeds of WOSTWAG Trading were retained by the Fourth Department to augment their espionage and internal disruption grants. It was stated that the business side of WOSTWAG and later its branches were in the hands of a Bolshevist-Latvian.
The informant stated that about 1925 or 1926 the Fourth Department suspected that the activities of WOSTWAG had become known to the Germans. They therefore decided to withdraw the EHRENLIEBS and other members of the Russian General staff and let the firm continue purely commercial activities under a speculant agent. It was explained that speculant agents are usually people who have become outlaws in their own countries on account of their Communist activities and are usually Austrians, Czechs, Hungarians, and Roumanians. One EHRENLIEB later went to Tientsin in connection with the Far Eastern Trading Company and the other went to Urga, the Soviet Colony in Outer Mongolia.
In connection with the EHRENLIEBS, it may be noted that they attempted to enter the United States in 1922, but were barred by immigration regulations concerning physical well being. The latter EHRENLIEB in 1936 was sent to London where an affiliate company WOSTWAG known as the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company was formed in 1936. The new company was registered in the United Kingdom and staffed by commercial men carrying on legitimate business. Certain members of the staff, however, devoted a portion of their time to Fourth Department work.
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Confidential Informant T-3 of known reliability advised that in 1932 Oriental Trading and Engineering Company at Tientsin was called a subsidiary and branch of WOSTWAG. Its managers were listed as A. PURPISS. A Lativian, and A. EHRENLIEB, an Austrian.
Informant T-3 advised in October 1932 the managers and stockholders of WOSTWAG were reported to be ALFRED DEVINGTEL, 622,500 marks, DAVID ROSENBLITH, 207,500 marks, and Dr. U. ZLOCZOWER. In 1937 the interest of ROSENBLITH appears to have been transferred to Colonel CLAUDE TUPPER.
Informant T-3 advised that WOSTWAG authorized the following persons to sign checks on the WOSTWAG account at the Chase National Bank in New York as of September 5, 1931,
DAVID ROSENBLITH, Director
ALFRED DEVINGTEL, Director
Dr. USCHER ZLOCZOWER, Director
JOSEPH RUBER, Prokuist
JACOB KNOBIL, Prokuist
PAUL BLANK, Prokuist
It has been learned that the word Prokuist translated means power of attorney.
JACOB KNOBIL, above referred to, advised this office in the spring of 1949 that he had been employed by WOSTWAG and that it did a world-wide importing and exporting business. He said these transactions were conducted in the Orient by exporting fur, skins and other products to such markets in the world as would be most profitable, and the proceeds used to import trucks, tea and other commodities to use to purchase additional furs, etc. from Outer Mongolia. He stated that due to trade restrictions and other conditions the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company of Delaware was formed to take over the WOSTWAG business in the orient. He stated it was customary for business firms to incorporate under the protection of the country which offered the most favourable trade protection.
BACKGROUND OF ORIENTAL TRADING AND ENGINEERING COMPANY
On 10 December 1936 there was incorporated under the laws of Delaware, the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company (hereinafter referred to as OTE). The law firm of WHITE and CASE of New York handled the matter at the request of LEWIS L. CLARKE, a prominent New York Executive. The officers of the new company/
-- 6 --
/were CLAUDE A. TUPPER, President and Treasurer; LEWIS L. CLARKE, Vice President and Secretary, ADAM PURPISS, General Manager.
JACOB KNOBIL informed agents of this office that CLARKE and TUPPER were in fact “dummy” stockholders, and that the real interest in the company was held by BASCILIUS BUCHHOLZ, who invested $110,000 in the company, and himself, JACOB KNOBIL, who invested $40,000 in the company. He insisted that this was a usual commercial practice to use local people as officers and stockholders, when incorporated in another country. He said that these matters are handled on the advice of counsel. He stated that BUCHHOLZ put up part f the $40,000 credited to KNOBIL but insisted that he could not recall how much he had personally contributed. He said BUCHHOLZ advanced the funds against commissions to be earned by KNOBIL.
Informant T-3 advised that $150,000 which the company was started with, was furnished in the form of a remittance from FRANK KLEBES in Paris. The informant advised that ADAM PURPISS stated that he did request the transmittal of the funds from someone in France. KNOBIL denied to the agents any knowledge of a person named FRANK KLEBES.
Just before the dissolution OTE, BUCHHOLZ immigration authorities that his financial interest in OTE was upwards of $110,000. KNOBIL stated upon dissolution of the company he was paid $29,000 of the $40,000 investment.
KNOBIL advised that BUCHHOLZ had the Mongolian Fur business which appears to have been handled by WOSTWAG, and that BUCHHOLZ exported the furs through various companies including the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company in London. KNOBI, a former employee of WOSTWAG, worked for BUCHHOLZ in Paris during the 1930’s and arrived in April 1940 at New York accompanied by BUCHHOLZ. He said it was BUCHHOLZ’s idea to form Oriental Trading and Engineering Company, and that BUCHHOLZ ran it.
Investigation has reflected that BUCHHOLZ was born in Elisabethgrad, Russia August 14, 1885 and resided in Urga, Mongolia from 1914 to 1930. BUCCHOLZ, on May 28, 1942, was employed as an economist of the Soviet Purchasing Commission, Washington, D.C.. His daughter, ELIZABETH BUCHHOLZ, married Major BARABANCHIKOV and the daughter returned to Russia. Immigration records reflect that BUCHHOLZ left the United States through Miami bound for Natal, Brazil on November 16, 1942. JACOB KNOBIL stated he believed that BUCHHOLZ returned to Mongolia. Oriental Trading and Engineering was dissolved as of January 13, 1941. At the time of dissolution the stockholders were JOPSEPH RUBER, JACOB KNOBIL, and BASILIUS BUCHHOLZ.
- 7 –
Although NIEMCOW had no known stock interest and held no office in the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company, Delaware, he appears to have had considerable to do with its formation.
The office files concerning the corporation in the offices of CASE and WHITE, Attorneys, New York City, reflect the following:
The law firm’s billing records in connection with the incorporation of the OTE list the following pertinent entries:
12/7/36 Attorney PAUL SAUREL met with ADAM PURPISS and BORIS NIEMCOW.
12/8/36 Mr. ABNER RUBIEN advised that he was Counsel for ADAM PURPISS and requested he was provided with copies of any agreement involving the two.
- 8 -
12/9/36 SAUREL met with PURPISS, NIEMCOW and RUBIEN.
12/11/36 meeting at office with CLAUDE A. TUPPER, JOHN E. SIEGEL, LEWIS L. CLARKE, PURPISS, NIEMCOW, RUBIEN and SAUREL.
12/18/36 SAUREL met with TUPPER and NIEMCOW.
2/2/37 Directors meeting of WHITE and CASE. Those present were TUPPER, NIEMCOW, CLARKE and SIEGEL.
10/19/37 Meeting held by SAUREL, CLARKE, SIEGEL and NIEMCOW to discuss the changes necessary as the result of the death of CLAUDE A. TUPPER.
11/3/37 Same person present at meeting to arrange transfer of stock from the estate of TUPPER.
12/31/37 SAUREL had meeting with NIEMCOW and unidentified “representative”.
1/13/38 NIEMCOW and SIEGEL visited WHITE and CASE together.
3/11/38 SAUREL saw NIEMCOW and suggested that OTE secure other attorneys.
3/21/39 Directors meeting of WHITE and CASE with NIEMCOW present. At this meeting CLARKE and SIEGEL resigned from OTE.
Newark Confidential Informant T-4, of unknown reliability, a New York attorney formerly associated with WHITE and CASE, advised he had some familiarity with the corporation transaction. He stated the notes made at the time indicated the following names connected with it:
PURPISS, TUPPER, CLARKE, RUBIEN and SIEGEL, as well as “OSKAR WIKSTROM,” 132 West 31st Street, 6-6305, Pacific Merchandise Company. He said the articles of corporation were filed on December 10, 1946 [SIC 1936?] but amended the following day. It was his recollection the amendment was for the purpose of authorising the issuance of power of attorney to an individual equal to that of the directors of the firm but applying only outside of the United States. JACOB KNOBIL had indicated that the power of attorney was given to ADAM PURPISS.
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Informant T-4 identified a photograph of the subject being identical with one of the individuals in the transaction. He further stated that SIEGEL, whom he thought was an accountant, told him on one occasion that NIEMCOW was a Soviet agent but he gave no particular substantiation for this statement.
LEWIS L. CLARKE was interviewed by agents of the New York Office for information concerning the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company. He recalled being one of the officers of the corporation for a time and had only a vague recollection of the company and the individuals involved. He is an elderly man who a very active interest in a number of large corporations. He recalled he was introduced to NIEMCOW by a mutual friend, “LAIE LUBER”, a shipping magnate from Yugoslavia. He resided on Long Island and died in 1946. He said NIEMCOW was frequently at LUBER’s residence and it was there that he met him first. He was certain that NIMCOW had some connection with OTE Corporation and was present at any number of the meetings at which organizational details were discussed and agreed upon.
Mr CLARKE’s secretary examined personal diaries of Mr. CLARKE and made the following entries available in connection with the organization of OTE:
12/7/36 Col. HARTIELD, Col. TUPPER, Mr. NIEMCOW, Mr. SAUREL – 14 Wall St.
12/8/36 WHITE and CASE – meeting re OTE Co.
12/7/36 Hotel Governor Clinton – Col. TUPPER’s apartment – to sign papers.
12/9/36 Banker’s Club – Re. OTE Co.
12/10/36 WHITE and CASE – Re. OTE co.
12/11/36 WHITE and CASE – Re. OTE co.
12/12/36 WHITE and CASE – Re. OTE co.
12/12/36 Governor Clinton Hotel.
12/14/36 WHITE and CASE – 10.00am.
12/15/36 Col. TUPPER and others at WHITE and CASE.
12/21/36 CLIFTON B. WILBUR – Credit Dept. Chase National – re. OTE Co.
up a new corporation. He planned to leave for Chicago December 11, 1936 and proceed to Tientsin where he intended to open new accounts in dollars and local currency at the Tientsin Branch of Chase.
Later, an official of KITINGDON-SCHILD Corporation advised the bank that it had an exclusive contract with OTE for the purchase of furs from China and Mongolia. A new corporation, Chinese Mongolian Fur Corporation, had been formed and was owned 50 per cent each by OTE and KITINGDON-SCHILD. It had been formed to act as a selling agent in the United States. He stated that ERNEST WRIGHT, Pacific Merchandise Company, had acted as OTE New York Representative and would probably continue to represent them.
In November 1936, a member of the KITINGDON-SCHILD Corporation advised that the Chinese Mongolian Fur Corporation had been capitalized at $10,000 and the directors would probably be Mr. KITINGDON of the firm bearing his name, and WRIGHT. Negotiations for the contract were principally with PURPISS. He also said he had questioned PURPISS concerning the Oriental Trading and Engineering and WOSTWAG and was informed that they were two separate corporations but that stockholders of each had certain stock interest in the other concern.
In early 1937 a memorandum from the Shanghai Branch of Chase reported that in a discussion with Mr. EHRENLIEB of OTE “formerly manager in Tientsin and now in charge of the financial end of the office,” he had stated that it would be necessary to have a final accounting with WOSTWAG before a balance sheet of OTE could be prepared.
In connection with OTE acting as an exporter and importer with Outer Mongolia, EHRENLIEB stated he did not know if this arrangement would continue. The memo from Chase in Shanghai reflected the opinion that Outer Mongolia is considered an independent state, but there was strong Soviet influence and it was felt to be more or less controlled by the Soviet Government, EHRENLIEB informed Chase that the corporation (OTE) is the largest shipper of furs in North China and Manchuria. The Shanghai branch indicated that it appeared to the bank that the Soviet Government or a Mongolian State Enterprise used the company for import-export operations of Outer Mongolia. It was stated that the usual procedure was to ship furs and skins from Outer Mongolia to Europe and America with shipments to London or New York depending on where the
[CMG2428.JPG page 14]
/best market is or where funds are needed to pay for machinery and other merchandise which has or will be purchased for shipment to Mongolia. The Shanghai Branch reported that based on information furnished by OTE and what it had learned from other sources “It is the opinion that this is a semi-official Soviet organisation with powerful Soviet backing. From interviews they have practically confirmed that they have close connections with the Soviet Government, and the fact that PURPISS is understood to have been a former High commissioner of Outer Mongolia would confirm this. At any rate, it would seem that WOSTWAG and now OTE has a trade agreement with Outer Mongolia and these concerns handle import-export operations for the state”.
The bank memorandum suggested it was possible that large deposits in London and New York might not be in the name of the company, It pointed out that between January 1 and April 9, 1937 approximately $400,000 passed through the Shanghai Branch, most of it coming from London and was believed to represent funds remitted by the “Mongols Fur People”, the London Agents of OTE.
The Bank memo dated July 26, 1938, reflected that JOSEF REUBER, Assistant Treasurer of Oriental Trading and Engineering Company, accompanied by Mr. NIMCOW, opened an account at the 42nd Street Branch of Chase for OTE with a check of Pacific Merchandise Company in the amount of $3,000. NIEMCOW acted as an interpreter for REUBER, who advised that the firm already had an account at Shanghai and that this would be the only New York account.
Files of the 42nd Street Branch of the Chase National Bank show that JOSEF REUBER opened up a personal account in August, 1938 with a check of NIEMCOW’s in the amount of $235.65 drawn on the Pennsylvania Branch of the Chase National Bank. It was indicated that NIEMCOW acted as an interpreter for REUBER but stated he was not connected with the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company.
Confidential informant T-5 in November 1947 advised agents of the New York Office that Samuel HOCHSTEADT had been known to informant since 1927, at which time the informant was employed in the Russian Embassy in Vienna. To informant’s knowledge HOCHSTEADT had been recruited from the Austrian Communist Party to do espionage work. When HOCHSTEADT was reported working in China for the
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Oriental Trading and Engineering Company, which was known to be a cover company, informant knew that HOCHSTEADT must still be active.
HOCHSTEADT arrived in the United States in December 1938, as Chief Accountant o the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company which and paid his expenses from China to the United States. He spent a two month’s vacation in France en route. A $1,500 immigration bond for HOCHSTEADT and his family was put up by ZLOCZOWER.
In connection with the capitalization of the Oriental Trading and Engineering Company furnished in the form of a draft from F. KLEGES, Paris, NICHOLAS DOZENBERG, an admitted former Soviet Agent, had trained KLEGES in the operation of a dried fruit import and export concern. DOZENBERG stated he had already established in Paris a regular business for such goods and KLEGES was to go to Paris as an American citizen and buy out this established firm. DOZENBERG said that he trained KLEGES for about four months and the latter left for Paris in May 1930. He identified KLEGES as actually being one JOHN KIRSCHENSTEIN who had originally arrived in the United States about 1929 and fraudulently obtained the naturalization papers of one FRANK KLEGES and thus obtained the passport under which he left the United States.
WALTER KRIVITSKY has also stated that KLEGES was a Soviet agent and that KLEGES had operated as a Soviet agent under him.
Informant T-2 reported that an examination of the books of the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company show that the firm handled business for the SOCIETE ANONYME FRANCAISE POUR L’IMPORTATION DE LEGUMES SECS, which was KLEGES’ firm in Paris until at least 1937. It showed payment of two unreported sums of money to KLEGES in 1937. The records also showed payments to Martin’s Bank for the credit of WOTWAG and KLEGES’ firm. Informant advised that REUBER, GLUCKSMAN and ZLOCZOWER, Directors of the Far Eastern Fur Trading, balance the books of KLEGES firm in 1937.
PACIFIC MERCHANDISE COMPANY
Informant T-2 advised that one of the directors of the Far Eastern Fur Trading Company in London was USCHER ZLOCZOWER, whose business address was in case of pacific Merchandise Company, Incorporated, 132 West Street, New York City. The informant also advised that one MAX ROTHSTEIN, also known as MAX ROONEY, was a former employee of WOSTWAG and had furnished Immigration Services in March 1939, a letter of reference from ERNST WRIGHT of the Pacific Merchandise Company.
New York State Department records reflect that pacific Merchandise Company was incorporated on June 25, 1934, for the purposes of carrying on an import-export business and would act as agent or broker for foreign or domestic
individuals, firms, or corporations. The capital stock was $50,000, consisting of 500 shares at $100 per. The directors, until the first meeting, were three individuals believed to be employees of the attorney handling the corporation. Their addresses were all given as 132 West 31st Street, New York City, the address of the attorney and also the address of Pacific Merchandise Company. The company was dissolved on March 10, 1941.
New York Department records reflect another firm by the name of By-Products Importing Company, was formed on June 6, 1934. The articles of incorporation, the capital stock and the incorporators were identical with these of Pacific Merchandise Company. The certificate of Dissolution listed the officers as ERNEST WRIGHT, President, BORIS NIEMCOW, Secretary, and the same individuals as directors plus one MAX KOHN. The dissolution was actually effected October 31, 1941.
Confidential informant T-6, of known reliability, advised that in 1936 Pacific Merchandise Company was a dealer in skins and sausage casings with offices at 132 West 31st Street. He said the company had tax difficulties in connection with the segregation of assets. A hearing was held on July 21, 1939, at which time WRIGHT as president of the corporation, testified that he held 60% of the stock or 300 shares. He said it was valued at $30,000 and that BORIS NIEMCOW was secretary and had invested $15,000 in the company. He testified that ADOLF STEINEMANN was treasurer and had invested $5,000 in the corporation. He said that STIENEMANN was located in China and lived there. He testified that all officers received a salary except BORIS NIEMCOW, and that NIEMCOW was made an officer in 1938.
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[Several pages follow on about the trading of the Pacific Merchandise Company]
Letter from J.A. Cimperman, Legal Attaché, Foreign Service of the USA, London Embassy to James Robertson of [MI5] Leconfield House, Curzon Street, London on Sept 17, 1951.
Dear Mr. Robertson,
By my letter dated January 13, 1949, I furnished your office with a lengthy report regarding the German firm WOSTWAG, a reported cover for Soviet military intelligence activities.
Throughout this report and specifically on pages 113-115 is set forth information concerning on Adam PURPISS. The Bureau has interviewed numerous Soviet espionage agents and confidential informants regarding PURPISS but they were unable to provide any information regarding his present whereabouts or activities since 1938. One source, a former missionary and trader in China advised that he heard PURPISS was in Shanghai, China, in about 1939.
Could you let me know whether your office has any information regarding his whereabouts and activities since 1938 or 1939?
The Bureau informs that none of the individuals who were associated formerly with WOSTWAG or its affiliates and who were interviewed in recent years regarding the operations of and regarding their associations with those firms admitted knowledge of any espionage or Communist activities on the part of any of those companies or any individuals associated with them. Could you kindly let me know whether any investigation conducted by your office on WOSTWAG and its affiliates has established definite proof of the operation of those firms as cover companies for Soviet military intelligence or for Comintern activity?
A similar request is being made of MI-6, by my letter No. 1568, dated September 17, 1951.
J. A. Cimperman
[CIMG0286.JPG Presumably the reply to Cimperman from British Intelligence – author unknown]
We have at last been able to examine in some detail the comprehensive report on WOSTWAG and its associated companies which you sent with your letter No. 2619 of the 13th January 1949. You may care to have a few comments which will possibly be of use in your continued investigation of the case.
You have probably already linked up the late Claude A. TUPPER, President of the ORIENTAL TRADING AND ENGINEERING COMPANY, with the person of the same name whose firm, the INTERNATIONAL TRADE PRESS OF CHICAGO, reportedly provided cover for the activities of Robert ELMSTON [?], the well known Communist and probable R.I.S. agent in Europe between 1930 and 1936.
It may assist you in clearing up the confusion in the post-Germany careers of the EHRENLIEB brother to have on record that Aron Zelig EHRENLIEB’s alien registration card shows him to have lived in London from the 21st April 1936 (the date of arrival from Vienna) until at least the 4th July 1937 – the latest date we know he was for certain in this country. There are several entries on his card during this period showing changes of address and short visits to France, all of which make it clear that Aron Zelig EHRENLIEB was living in the UK at this time. Your information from Chase records, however, suggests that Aron EHRENLIEB was in China in the first half of 1937. In this connection we should like to point out that there is nothing on his Alien’s Registration Card to show that he was either in or away from this country during the period 24th September 1936 to 4th May 1937. Since we have no record of any departure or return, we should normally be inclined to assume that he ad not left the UK during this time. Here is no further record of EHRENLIEB in this country after the 4th July 1937, when he left for France. According to his wife (formerly Gitla ????, born Iceland 1900, who appears to have married EHRENLIEB shortly after her arrival in the UK on the 30th May 1936) , whom he left behind, EHRENLIEB had gone to Russia.
Amongst the papers of Ruben GLUCKSMANN of the FAR EASTERN FUR TRADING COMPANY, London, a draft business letter addressed to “A. Z. EHRENLIEB, Urga” was discovered. It had apparently been written by Uscher KLOCZOWER of the F.E.F.T.C. about October 1937 and referred to a letter of EHRENLIEB’s written (probably from Urga, Mongolia) in late September 1937. The draft letter imp[lied that A. Z. (presumably Aron Zelig) EHRENLIEB had not long before left the F.E.F.T.C., London, for Urga, though apparently only on a visit. His decision to remain in Urga seems to have been unexpected.
We can confirm that Rubin GLUCKSMANN had a wife named Martha. Her name before her marriage to GLUCKSMANN in Hamburg in 1934 was Martha BASS [?]. They had two adopted children, Eliza and Miriam, both born in Jerusalem in 1924 and 1926 respectively, and one son of their own, Joseph Andre, born in France in 1937. While GLCKSMANN was a Director of the F.E.F.T.C., London, his family lived in France.
We are also able to confirm from GLUCKSMANN’s and the F.E.F.T.C.’s papers that the PACIFIC MERCHANDISE COMPANY of New York was the F.E.F.T.C.’s selling partner in the United States.
The GLUCKSMANN papers also indicated that GLUCKSMANN was closely connected with, if not actually directing, the SOCIETE POUR LE COMMERC D’OUTRE MER in Paris before he came to the F.E.F.T.C. in London.
[Next pages not yet photographed from PRO file.]
The following pages are background pages of Wostwag, Moscow and to the formation of Wostwag in China and Mongolia with references to an egg business in Moscow and taking eggs from Kulaks in Ukraine [Coincidentally C.F Orwell hens in Animal Farm!] This Russian side of the business ceased after the end of NEP in 1929 - They are listed for completeness and will be transcribed fully in due course.
… Wostwag through Rosenblith as an expert to export eggs from Russia to Germany. He said that he and Rosenblith went to Moscow together and that they arrived between the death and the burial of Lenin.
He said Rosenblith stayed in Moscow with him for about two weeks and then left. Wostwag had an office in Moscow at Kuznietzki ?ost number six. It consisted of four or five rooms and employed about twelve people. When he arrived in Moscow the egg business had not been set up and occupied himself by translating German letters into Russian. He also said he was a linguist which influenced his being hired by Wostwag.
He said Wostwag, Moscow had an Export Department but not for eggs or poultry. He said during his first six weeks in Moscow, he was given more to do. He saidf that he made a contract furs with one Dolgin, a representative of Wienshenker who was a furrier in New York City. His son Lev Weinshenker is presently in business in New York City.
As a result of this contract, Wostwag Moscow established a department for the export of furs. Zloczower said that one Raabe was a director of Wostwag and in charge of the office in Moscow.
Raabe was hired towards the end of 1924, and when he died, the newspapers stated he was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Zloczower said he stayed in Russia for about a year and a half and during that time he started the egg exporting business. He established about thirty egg buying stations in the vicinity of Voronzh, Russia, which was used as a central point. The eggs were packed in Roumanian excelsior which had to be dried and the eggs were then exported to Germany.
Zloczower stated that during the time he was in Moscow, he recalls that the Wostwag office was in charge of Nicoli Nicoliovitch, last name unknown, a Russian emogre, who was an old man and wore a goatee. He was followed by one Raabe who was the Soviet Government representative in Wostwag at Moscow and as previously stated when Raabe died, the papers identified him as a member of the Soviet Communist Party.
Raabe was succeeded by one Feinstein, who was forty years old in 1924, 5’ 9” tall, 150 lbs., was with the Soviet Trade Delegation at Berlin as financial director.
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While in Moscow, Feinstein exercised the control of the Soviet Government’s share of the business. In 1925, Zloczower returned to Germany after he had set up the egg exporting system in Russia for Wostwag. He also operated an egg exporting business in Germany where Wostwag had eleven stations for the purchase of eggs.
Zloczower said he used to be in England from December until Easter every year and then he would spend a few months in Berlin and return to Voronzh, Russia to handle the egg buying business. This arrangement continued until 1929 when Wostwag and all other foreign firms had their concessions discontinued. Zloczower said he could see the discontinuance of the concession because of the difficulty the kulaks were having from whom Wostwag purchased their eggs.
Between 1925 and 1929, the Soviet Government had a representative at Wostwag, Berlin, named Yevseyev. When he left, Basilius Bucholz followed him and Zloczower said because Bucholz was a Russian, he presumed that Bucholz was also a Russian representative. Bucholz never learnt to speak German, French or English during the period Zloczower knew him. He said it was always necessary he had someone who could speak Russian to translate for him.
After Bucholz came to Wostwag. It expanded its business in Mongolia and Bucholz instructed Zloczower to go to Mongolia because Wostwag was distressed over the amount of merchandise sent there and not sold. He believed it was worth about $100,000. Zloczower was also to help establish the exporting business in Mongolia, Manchuria and China.
When Zloczower arrived at Urga, Mongolia, he met Dain and it was his impression that this branch had been established about six months o a year. Zloczower said he examined the general merchandise in the warehouse and contacted merchants in Urga and disposed of the goods.
While in Urga, he bought furs, casings and horse hair and arranged for their shipment to Germany. Zloczower stated that while in Urga, Wostwag bought furs from Mongolian traders and the government agency “Monzenkoop”. Zloczower stated that he stayed at Urga for about four months during which time he acted as a consultant for Dain. From Urga, he went to Harbin, Tientsin and Hankow. It was his opinion that the first two branches had been recently established and that the third branch he established himself.
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At Harbin, the manager was a red-haired German, later identified as Langammer. And there he found that Wostwag had overpaid for sheep casings.
At Tientsin, Haltrecht, who was a Pole, was manager and he was succeeded by a tall fellow named Kronberg.
Zloczower, upon reinterview, corrected his recollection and stated that Wostwag did not have a branch at Tientsin but hat he ha been instructed to inspect O.T.E. Corporation at Tientsin. Also, that Haltrecht was the original manager of O.T.E. Corporation, and Kronberg was his successor.
At Hankow, Zloczower hired one Jann as manager. In 1930, Zloczower placed Mimersdorf in charge of the Shanghai office. Zloczower hired an American in Shanghai named – Niles, who was an expert, to manage that phase of the business. The casings expert was Hauk, a German from Bohemia.
Zloczower said that the Chinese merchandise was originally mostly shipped to Germany. Later, Wostwag found that the most important buyers for these goods were in the United States and so they used Ernest Wright as their representative and shipped the Chinese merchandise directly to the United States.
It was Zloczower’s impression that Bucholz had invested money in the Wostwag business and that Bucholz also handled the procurement of Soviet licenses for the shipment of goods through the Soviet Union.
Zloczower said that every year he made a trip to the Orient to supervise the Wostwag business there and in the Fall of 1932, when he returned to Germany, the Nazis were in power and he asked Wostwag for assistance in getting business in France as he intended to live there. He said that Wostwag had a relationship with a firm in Paris, D’Outre Mer, which dealt in casings. It was started by David Rosenblith [SIC] and had, Rignant, and Stehlin as Directors.
Zloczower said that D’Outre Mer was in effect a subsidiary of Wostwag and was established in order to get some of its capital outside of Germany.
Zloczower went to Paris, France in 1933 and Rosenblith signed over the stock in the company to him and Zloczower carried on the business of the company
[That’s Enough Wostwag? ED.]
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Original Research, Content & Site Design by Nigel Linsan Colley. Copyright © 2001-17 All Rights Reserved Original document transcriptions by M.S. Colley.Click here for Legal Notices. For all further details email: Nigel Colley or Tel: (+44) 0796 303 8888