Report of the
Senate Select Committee
INFORMATION FROM RUSSIA, NORTH KOREA AND CHINA
The Committee's mandate from the Senate encompassed a review of the
fate of Americans still listed as missing from World War II, the
Korean War and the Cold War. Accordingly, the Committee has
conducted an investigation of reports that unacknowledged U.S.
prisoners had been held by Soviet, Chinese and North Korean
officials during and after one or more of these conflicts, and that
U.S. prisoners might have been transferred to the Soviet Union
during the war in Vietnam.
U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIA Affairs
The disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the establishment
of a democratic government in Russia have created new possibilities
for investigating reports concerning U.S. POWs. In mid-February,
1992, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Bob Smith met with Russian officials
in Moscow to discuss the prospects for cooperation on this issue.
This visit laid the groundwork for the creation on March 26, 1992
of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission for POW/MIA Affairs
(Commission) under the leadership of Col. Dmitri Volkogonov and
former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Malcolm Toon. Sen.
Kerry and Sen. Smith were designated as representatives of the U.S.
Senate on the Commission.
The objectives of the Commission are 1) to obtain access to people
and documents in Russia that could shed light on the fate of U.S.
servicemen missing from World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War
and the war in Vietnam; 2) to pursue all reports alleging the
presence of U.S. POW/MIAs in the former Soviet Union and assist in
facilitating their repatriation if they desire; and 3) to establish
a mechanism by which remains identified as American can be returned
to the United States.
A full description of the activities of the Commission may be found
in Section 3 of this Chapter.
Task Force Russia
An organization had to be created to convert the Commission's
policy objectives into action. The Secretary of Defense directed
the Secretary of the Army to form such an organization. The Army
recalled from retirement Maj. Gen. Bernard Loeffke to be the
director, Task Force Russia (TFR); the deputy director is Col.
Stuart Herrington, USA, a career intelligence officer.
The responsibilities of the Task Force are to acquire and analyze
data provided by the Commission. In Moscow, archivists, historians,
and an interpreter were assigned to pursue leads concerning U.S.
POWs through interviews and access to archival records. Staff in
Washington, D.C. were assigned to translate, analyze and compare
the new information with information in existing U.S. databases,
and to assess its value and reliability before releasing it to
family members through DOD casualty affairs offices. In all, Task
Force Russia has a staff of 35 persons, including seven in Moscow.
The close coordination between the committee and the U. S.
Delegation to the Commission was enhanced through the direct
liaison established between the Committee staff and TFR resulting
from the assignment of a Committee investigator, Al Graham, to the
Task Force element in Moscow.
A more detailed description of the organization and activities of
Task Force Russia may be found in Section 3 of this Chapter.
Investigation in Progress
While substantial progress has been made, the investigation remains
incomplete. The reasons for this include the relatively brief
duration of the life of the Committee; the voluminous nature of the
materials stored in Russia; logistical impediments to reviewing
materials held abroad; and limited cooperation on the part of
individual officials in Russia assigned to work with the Commission
and the Committee.
The difficulty in reaching a firm judgment based on current
information is illustrated by the present status of data regarding
the 8,177 Americans still listed as missing from the Korean War. Of
that number, the U.S. Government has information that 2,177 people
died in POW camps; 293 were missing in action at sea; 412 died in
aircraft incidents over North Korea; approximately 300 were buried
in abandoned graves in United Nations cemeteries in North Korea;
and another 576 were buried in isolated, unidentified graves. This
leaves more than 4,600 soldiers who did not return who could be, as
RAND researcher Paul Cole put it, "anywhere [in North Korea]. . .
literally, anywhere." Further complicating the arithmetic is
the uncorroborated testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Corso,
who was posted at the National Security Council during the
Eisenhower Administration, that at least 900 U.S. POWs were taken
to the Soviet Union from North Korea.
Although firm conclusions remain elusive, some progress on the
issue of U.S. POWs in the former Soviet Union has been made.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin has stated that some Americans were
imprisoned in the former Soviet Union after World War II, that a
small number of U.S. prisoners were interrogated by the Soviets
during the Korean War, and that approximately a dozen U.S. airmen
were captured and imprisoned during the Cold War period. The
Russian Government has stated, however, that there are no Americans
now being held in the former Soviet Union against their will.
Based on the research to date, the Committee cannot make definitive
judgments that go beyond what the Russian Government has stated is
the case. Reports alleging the transfer of prisoners to Soviet soil
during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts remain under investigation,
as do the specific circumstances of Cold War shoot-downs. Large
quantities of archival material remain to be examined; and many
potential sources of first-hand information have not yet been
The Committee recommends that the U.S. continue to attach a high
priority to cooperation with the Russian Government in efforts to
resolve the fate of missing Americans. Efforts to obtain
cooperation from the Governments of China and North Korea should
The Committee held public hearings on this subject on November 10
and 11, 1992. The first day featured testimony from eight
Alan C. Ptak, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Dr. Paul Cole, researcher for RAND corporation;
Capt. John P. Gay, USN, director of the Asia/Pacific Division,
Joint Chiefs of Staff;
Lt. Col. Phillip Corso (USA, Ret.), of the National Security
Council staff under President Eisenhower;
Serban Oprica, a former Rumanian engineer, now an American
citizen, who served in North Korea;
Col. Delk Simpson, former U.S. military attache in Hong Kong;
Steve Kiba, a POW from Korea held in China.
The second day of hearings, November 11, featured testimony from an
additional twelve witnesses:
Richard Boylan, archivist at the National Archives;
James Sanders, co-author of Soldiers of Misfortune;
John M. G. Brown, author of Moscow Bound (unpublished
Thomas Ashworth, researcher, author, and speaker on POW/MIA
Col.Gen. Dmitri Volkogonov (ret.), military adviser to
President Boris Yeltsin and Co-Chairman of the U.S.- Russian
Richard D. Kauzlarich, Assistant Secretary of State for
European and Canadian Affairs and member of the Joint
Gen. Bernard Loeffke, USA, director, Task Force Russia;
Albert Graham, the Committee investigator posted to Moscow;
Dolores Alfond, the chairperson for the National Alliance of
Robert Dumas, the brother of a soldier lost in Korea;
Bruce W. Sanderson, whose father was lost in a Cold War shoot-
Jane Reynolds Howard, whose husband suffered a similar fate;
Gregg Skavinski, the nephew of Master Sergeant William R.
Homer, a member of the crew of a USAF RB 29 shot down by a
Soviet Air Force MIG-15 over the Sea of Japan in 1952.
These witnesses provided the Committee with a wide spectrum of
sometimes irreconcilable viewpoints concerning Americans missing
from World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Indochina, and on Soviet
involvement with American POWs in these conflicts.
Testimony of General Dmitri Volkogonov
On November 11, 1992, the Committee received testimony from Gen.
Dmitri Volkogonov, retired, military adviser to Russian President
Boris Yeltsin and co-chairman of the Commission.
Gen. Volkogonov made a preliminary statement which noted that while
all Soviet leaders from Khrushchev to Gorbachev said that this
problem did not exist, the new democratic government of Russia has
said that the problem of U.S. POWs in Russia did exist and
continues to exist today. Gen. Volkogonov stated that he had spoken
with President Yeltsin on the eve of his departure for Washington,
and that President Yeltsin wished to present the Committee with a
statement. That statement follows:
The intergovernmental commission established by decision
of the U.S. and Russian presidents for the purpose of
determining the fate of American citizens missing in
action in World War II and later is evidence of the new
nature of Russian-U.S. relations. The commission is
headed by Colonel General Volkogonov and Ambassador Toon.
Over a short period of time the commission has done a
great deal of work in studying Russia's enormous state
and agency archives, including those that had been closed
to the public until recently, from the ministry of
security, the ministry of defense, the foreign
intelligence service, the ministry of internal affairs,
the foreign ministry, and military intelligence.
It has questioned dozens of participants and witnesses of
the events involving American citizens on the territory
of the former USSR. During the plenary meetings held in
March, May, and September of this year, the U.S. side was
given documents on American citizens who found themselves
on the territory of the former USSR in World War II and
the Cold War period, and some documents that contained
information on several U.S. citizens who had been taken
prisoner during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The commission has found evidence of American citizens
staying in camps and prisons of the former USSR, and
discovered shocking facts of some of them being summarily
executed by the Stalin regime and in a number of cases
being forced to renounce their U.S. citizenship. Some of
them still reside on the territory of the former Soviet
Union. Their names and addresses have been identified and
communicated to the U.S. side.
A number of former U.S. citizens have stayed in Russia
voluntarily after World War II and still reside here. Of
course, in a democratic Russia they have the right to
decide about their lives themselves, all their rights are
As a result of the work done, one may conclude that today
there are no American citizens held against their will on
the territory of Russia. However, all the questions have
not been fully answered. There are cases that still
require additional examination. For my part, as Russia's
president, I express the hope that the Joint Russian-
American Commission will continue its work and that it
will be able to find answers to the outstanding
Gen. Volkogonov stated his desire to make three essential points.
First, the Russians fully understand the moral significance of the
possibility that Americans might still be living on the territory
of the former Soviet Union. Second, the issue is of significance in
Russia because for many decades, human lives and individuals were
considered nothing more than statistical data in the Soviet Union.
Accordingly, the search to determine the fact of Americans missing
in action in the former Soviet Union is an example to the Russians
of how the government needs to be concerned with the fate of
individuals, and thus the issue has enormous humanitarian, moral
and legal significance for Russia. Third, conditions in Russia are
difficult, and the issue of whether or not reform will continue in
Russia remains under very great doubt. Therefore, the U.S. should
recognize the significance of the fact that the Russian government
and President Yeltsin are paying such close attention to the issue.
In his written statement, Gen. Volkogonov described the conclusions
of the investigations conducted by the Joint Commission to date:
1. No U.S. citizens are currently being detained within
the territory of the former USSR. The conclusion is based
on a thorough analysis of all archival documents,
interviews with witnesses, and on-site inspections of
possible American housing sites.
2. A group of Americans is living in Russia as either
political refugees from the USSR period or individuals
voluntarily remaining in Russia. A list of these
individuals as well as their addresses, and an agreement
to meet with representatives of the American contingent
of the Commission have been obtained and the Russian side
is prepared to provide this list. In addition, one
American, Marcus Lee, a Florida businessman, was arrested
in Moscow in the spring of 1992 and is currently being
detained at Lefortovo prison, charged with attempted
export of contraband icons.
3. Thousands of American citizens traveled overland
across the former USSR beginning with the Second World
War. The majority of these were Americans liberated by
the Red Army from Nazi camps and subsequently repatriated
(22,454). The second major group consisted of American
pilots forced to land within the USSR and interned here
(730). There were also several dozen individuals who were
detained in Germany, in Austria, in the USSR and other
socialist nations for "espionage" as well as a few pilots
from American aircraft shot down over the USSR. The
Commission has succeeded in accounting for virtually all
of these individuals. The Russians are convinced that
they are not presently located (with the exception of
those who have died) within the territory of the USSR.
4. The Russians were successful in identifying the burial
sites of virtually all U.S. citizens who died in the USSR
during the Second World War, with the exception of a few
who died en route to or in prison-of-war camps or those
buried in mass graves. The Russians intend to continue
their efforts to identify the remaining burial sites of
U.S. citizens in these areas.
5. The Russians were less successful in obtaining
information on U.S. citizens missing during the Vietnam
or Korean Wars, events taking place outside the Soviet
Union. Some documents were located concerning the Korean
War, including information on the numbers of prisoner-of-
war camps for Americans in Korea; their location; and,
the number of prisoners housed in these camps. Some
interrogation materials and fragmentary evidence on 71
American servicemen captured in Korea were found.
Unfortunately, virtually nothing has been found to date
on the Vietnam War. The only documents concerning the
Vietnam War located to date relate to the fate of nine
American deserters sent by the KGB to the USSR and on to
neutral countries. The Russians have not been successful
in recovering anything new or significant from
conversations or eyewitnesses or participants in these
6. The Russians have appreciated the assistance of the
U.S. side of the Commission for its willingness to
provide assistance in searching for Russian prisoners and
MIAs in Afghanistan. The Russians believe approximately
100 of them are still alive and that many of these are
being held under inhumane conditions in prisons belonging
to warring Afghani groups. The Russians, while
appreciating the assistance offered to date, believe the
U.S. could do more to assist in the liberation of Russian
prisoners-of-war in Afghanistan.
Gen. Volkogonov testified that the six Americans recorded as having
been in captivity in the Soviet Union in 1954 were held in separate
camps and classified as special prisoners. Each was arrested in
Europe for espionage or intelligence activities on behalf of the
United States. At the time, any foreign citizen who was detained
was automatically charged with espionage, according to Gen.
Volkogonov, whether or not there was any substance to the charge.
With respect to the fates of the six prisoners, Gen. Volkogonov
. . . two people, Hopkins and Clifford. . . were held for
eight years and subsequently shot. This is Mr. Ogins, who
served eight years under an espionage sentence and then
after his sentence expired he should have been released,
but Abakumov, who was then Interior Minister, reported to
Stalin that this was a person who had seen too much and
proposed that he be liquidated, and Stalin gave the order
allowing him to be executed. . .
Three of them were given back, were released to American
representatives in Berlin. Subsequently, two died, one
took Soviet citizenship, and the fate of another is still
Gen. Volkogonov provided to the Committee the names of Americans
now living in Russia who are political refugees or voluntarily
remaining in Russia. He also cited American citizens living in the
former Soviet Union who were American citizens from childhood, but
who ended up in the Soviet Union in the 1930's and were then forced
to renounce their U.S. citizenship and become Soviet citizens. Many
of these individuals passed through the prison camps and some died
there. Some made their way back to the United States eventually.
The Russians have identified five of these people now living in
Russia, each of whom is elderly, and each of whom wishes to receive
help in locating and contacting relatives in the United States.
Gen. Volkogonov also testified concerning the possibility that a
secret camp exists or existed for American prisoners in Russia:
If you had asked me that question before 1985, I would
have allowed for the possibility that such a secret camp
could have existed. However, since 1985, such large and
dramatic changes have taken place in our country that I
can no longer imagine that it would be possible for such
incidents or events to be concealed. . .
If there were a secret camp, or a jail, or even a single
American held against his will secretly, we would know
about it sooner or later. The moral climate in our
country makes it, I believe, psychologically impossible
for this information not to come to light.
I believe we will still find more information about the
fate of Americans who were in the Soviet Union. We may
find their graves or more information about their tragic
fate. Not all the documents have yet been examined, but
I can nearly exclude the possibility that we will find
any live American being held in Russia against his or her
In closing, Gen. Volkogonov stated that he believes joint efforts
will be necessary for another three to six months to complete the
process of determining the fates of all American citizens located
within the former Soviet Union, including those who have emigrated
and those who have died. Gen. Volkogonov also said that:
It is possible that some may be disillusioned with the
results of our efforts. However, we are convinced that we
have done everything possible on this side to answer all
questions submitted to us. You should also keep in mind
that conducting this work is difficult while attempting
to maintain the course of reform. The Government of
Russia and President Yeltsin, personally, in spite of his
severe work load and difficult problems, continue to
devote enormous attention to this effort. President
Yeltsin views the work of the Commission as a "test" of
trust and willingness to work together and to forget
forever the times when we were enemies.
Gen. Volkogonov's Letter of December 17
The Committee received a letter from Gen. Volkogonov dated December
17, 1992. The letter includes the following:
While working in the Presidential Archive, I made it a
point to go through all documents which may have
contained information on American POWs, including
correspondence between Stalin and Mao Tse-tung, Kim Il-
song and Chou En-lai, as well as correspondence with
Soviet Ambassadors to Korea, China and Vietnam. These
documents do not contain any evidence of American POWs
being sent to the USSR.
U.S. POWs and Korea
Defense Department efforts to analyze materials received by the
Commission remain in progress. Gen. Loeffke told the Committee
during his testimony that the effort to reach conclusions has been
complicated by the official deceptions that characterize Soviet
They have lied to us, and they have said openly that they
have lied to us. So we know if you develop that
historically, they did keep some in World War II, they
did keep them in the shootdowns, because they've already
said that, that they had them. So if you develop that
line, you could go in and say that we believe that they
did that in Korea also. . . [the Defense Department is]
holding a very conservative view until we can come to
some very hard facts. . . [But] it's all possible. . .
The Russians have admitted that they interrogated U.S. POWs during
the Korean War period. Testimony has differed, however, about
whether the interrogations occurred in North Korea, near the
Chinese border, or whether some occurred within the borders of the
Soviet Union, as well. As Gen. Loeffke testified:
Al Graham and I were questioning this Colonel, and at the
end of an hour and a half I asked if I could record this
on tape, and we did, and he on tape said yes, I
interrogated American POWs in Russian uniform. And he did
it more than once. And he said his colleagues did it,
too. . . His latest version, it is in Korea. And in all
fairness to the Russians, he was in the Far East, and he
says the Khabarovsk area. (Khabarovsk being a Russian
base in Russian territory) So the Khabarovsk area is
larger than the city of Khabarovsk. So it could have been
in defense of him saying another area just besides the
city, but he did mention a specific base which is in
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Alan Ptak testified that, as
of November, 1992, the Defense Department was still evaluating the
information it had received concerning the possibility that some
U.S. POWs may have been transferred to the Soviet Union or to China
during the Korean War.
Assessment of Committee Investigator
Beginning in May, 1992, Al Graham, a Committee investigator, was
posted to Moscow to undertake interviews, archival research, and
related investigatory work under the aegis of the Commission.
During that time, he arranged for and conducted interviews with
Russian officials, citizens, and retired officers who served in
Southeast Asia and Korea. During the Select Committee's hearing on
November 10, 1992, Mr. Graham testified that Soviet military
officers interrogated some U.S. POWs during the Korean War and that
some of these interrogations may have taken place on Soviet
According to Mr. Graham, one problem experienced by U.S.
investigators in Russia was that several high-ranking Russian
officials whom they interviewed subsequently changed their
. . . perhaps the most flagrant case of turnaround during
a reinterview concerns a well-known Russian colonel,
scholar, and renowned Far East expert, who was stationed
at Khabarovsk from 1950 to 1954. This individual was
asked by the chief of the general staff to review all
documents on Korea. . . currently supposedly in their
During the first interview with him conducted on August 19th, 1992,
he told five Joint Commission representatives -- four U.S., one
Russian -- that Soviet military specialists had been given approval
to interrogate American servicemen in Korea, and that some American
servicemen with experience, seniority, and specific specialties
were selected for transfer to the U.S.S.R. for further
He mentioned that in the confluence here between Russia,
Manchuria, China and North Korea, there was . . . . a
naval base called Posyet, which served as a transit point
for the movement of Americans north by rail or plane to
Khabarovsk, the Far East military district headquarters.
He maintained that the number of Americans processed
thorough Khabarovsk was in the hundreds and they were
under KGB control, both during and after the
interrogations. He did not know their fate after the
He personally claimed to have interrogated two American
POW's. One he recalls was a Lieutenant Colonel Black.
Efforts were made according to the Colonel to recruit and
gain cooperation of Americans. (During) a follow-up
interview of this individual, on September 29, 1992, at
which General Loeffke was present, he admitted he
received a phone call from a Foreign Intelligence Service
representative the night before. He then considerably
modified his previous testimony, denying any knowledge of
an American POW named Black and the fact that American
POW's from the Korean War were interrogated by Soviets at
However, he did admit interrogating two American POW's in
North Korea and asserted that there were anywhere from 10
to 25 Soviet interrogators involved in this process,
indicating a large number of American POW's were
interrogated during the Korean War.
He now maintained that the interrogation point, which was
in existence for at least 18 months, was located at a
juncture between North Korea, China, and the U.S.S.R.
borders. He did not completely rule out that it may have
been on Soviet territory.
According to Mr. Graham, immediately following the first interview
with Col. Korotkov, the Russian side produced an additional witness
who confirmed the use of questionnaires for obtaining information
from American POWs in Korea, but who insisted that the interviews
had been carried out primarily by Koreans in Korea. This witness
said that no American POWs from the Korean conflict were taken to
the USSR. Mr. Graham's conclusions, based on the conflicting
statements received, was that:
Although we have no direct evidence to prove it, there
appears to be a strong possibility that at least a
handful of U.S. POWs, possibly more, were transferred to
Soviet territory during the Korean War.
The Russian side will likely stick to its current line
until the body of evidence gathered through a vigorous
interview program forces the government and security
services to re-evaluate their position.
Although doubtful that such individuals could have
survived the rigors of the Soviet camp system this long,
it is theoretically possible that one or more could still
be alive. It is more likely that some former POWs. . .
who chose to cooperate with the Soviets for whatever
reason could be alive in Russia and do not desire their
presence to be known.
Research and Analysis of Paul M. Cole, RAND Corp.
On November 10, 1992, the Committee received testimony from Dr.
Paul M. Cole, an analyst with the International Policy Department
of the RAND corporation. RAND has undertaken a project through the
National Defense Research Institute, a federally-funded research
and development center. Originally, the project was to review
information concerning the fate of American POW/MIAs in Korea. In
April, 1992, the project was expanded to include a study of
evidence that American servicemen and civilians may have been
transported to the Soviet Union or its allies during World War II,
the early Cold War, or the Korean War.
Although the project is not yet complete, Dr. Cole was able to
provide the Committee with an overview of the work done to date, as
well as some conclusions. With regard to the Korean War, Dr. Cole
concluded the following:
Concerning Korea, the record on individual MIA/POW cases
is extremely detailed, and was originally organized
chronologically and geographically before being
reorganized alphabetically. The original chronological
and geographic databases are now being recreated, and few
questions would remain unanswered once the effort is
Two groups of Korean War prisoners remain unaccounted
for: prisoners who made it alive to a camp, and those who
did not. Those who made it alive to a camp, but were not
repatriated, are known as POW, body not recovered, or
POW/BNR. The location and number of more than 2,000
POW/BNR remains can be estimated with great certainty,
although the state of the remains is unknown. Prisoners
who did not survive the time between capture and arrival
at a camp, characterized by Dr. Cole as "post-capture
killed, body not recovered" or PCK/BNR, should not in his
view be characterized as POWs. Approximately 900 or more
PCK/BNR's occurred during the Korean War, with the
remains of those who died last located in scattered
locations throughout North Korea.
The location of approximately 3,500 MIAs may never be
determined because the U.S. has not been able to
determine where they died. By contrast, the location of
remains left in burial sites, UN cemeteries, and aircraft
crashes on North Korean territory can be stated with
Since 1953, the U.S. has received nearly 900 sets of
unidentified remains from North Korea, collected by the
North Koreans in a manner that has precluded association
with any individual MIA, with the result that all of
these names are still on the full list of 8,177, with the
individuals buried in Hawaii without identification.
American POWs were transferred to the territory of
Communist China during the Korean War to be interrogated
by Russians and Chinese. The majority of these POWs were
returned to camps in North Korea; those known to be held
as political prisoners were repatriated in the mid-1950s.
There is no documentary evidence suggesting Americans
were left behind in China; however, interrogations and
interviews offer some testimonial support for such
American POWs were interrogated by people identified by
the POWs as Russians, but only a small percentage of U.S.
POWS reported this type of contact. Evidence shows that
perhaps two dozen repatriated American POWs were
successfully recruited by foreign intelligence services.
U.S. authorities were aware of this soon after the Korean
War. Seven American missionaries who spent three years in
a North Korean prison camp were repatriated in May 1953,
through China, Moscow and Berlin, after having been held
as internees. Circumstantial evidence suggests that
Americans were transferred from Korea or China to the
territory of the Soviet Union, however, to date this
evidence is hearsay which is not supported by
corroborative documentary evidence.
In response to questions, Dr. Cole stated that there is evidence,
consisting of TFR interviews with prison guards and others, that
some U.S. POWs may have been transferred to the Soviet Union during
the Korean War. However, Dr. Cole expressed caution about making
any firm judgments based on the information provided:
In this last trip to Moscow the Commission was presented
various documents, some of which didn't even relate to
POWs. But as a gesture, they were handed over to
Ambassador Toon and to the commissioners. Well, right in
those documents that were given to us in Russian and
translated, it talks about how the information can be
either changed, distorted and so forth, in order to keep
the truth from anybody who might fall upon the documents.
Now these documents go back to World War II, specifically
I believe it was 1949. But nevertheless, there is a
pattern here of deception on the part of the Russians,
with a lot of their documentation. So in my judgment, we
have to be very very careful before we make a judgment
about an occurrence, or something like that, until we
have documentary evidence, archival evidence, and
In response to further questions, Dr. Cole testified that the total
number of U.S. POWs who might have been transferred to Soviet or
Chinese territory was certainly less than 100. He also noted that
one of the documents provided to the U.S. by the Russians on this
subject related to an Australian; and that other documents were
interrogation transcripts that had been made by the Chinese and
then summarized by the Russians. In addition, most of the
individuals who had been interrogated by non-Korean officials were
Dr. Cole testified that the RAND review of POW/MIA issues related
to the Korean War was also subject to ambiguities because of
inaccuracies in the original casualty data and because casualty
reporting methods changed over time.
In addition to the losses in captivity and the difficulty of
documenting the fates of American POWs who lost their lives as a
result of criminal mistreatment by the Korean Communists, post-war
records in the U.S. are, to quote Dr. Cole, "contradictory,
ambiguous, inconsistent, or a mixture of any of these." According
to Dr. Cole:
In 1991, the Department of Defense stated in testimony
before Congress that 389 U.S. servicemen who had been
POWs in North Korea had not been repatriated or otherwise
accounted for by the Korean People's Army and the
Yet according to Dr. Cole, casualty status data maintained by the
U.S. government contradicts these figures. In fact, he says, the
list of 389 contains the names of 197 MIAs, 180 Americans who may
or may not have ever been prisoners, and one case which has in fact
been resolved. According to Dr. Cole, "prisoner status means that
the individual was lost under circumstances that were consistent
with a probability of live capture. There is no evidence in many
cases that those listed as POWs were ever seen alive in a POW
camp." Dr. Cole notes, for example, that the majority of the 188
Army names on the list belonged to individuals who were lost during
the first eight months of the Korean War. Given the brutality of
the Koreans in this period, and the conditions of imprisonment for
U.S. POWs at this time, according to Dr. Cole, "the likelihood of
survival for this group was very low."
RAND also reviewed information concerning the alleged
transportation of U.S. POWs to the USSR from Korea. It is well
documented that there was a significant Soviet presence on the
ground in North Korea during the war. In addition, some returning
U.S. POWS and Army personnel reported having been questioned by
Russian officers in North Korea or China. A 1974 Air Force
assessment of the Korean War POW experience, quoted by Dr. Cole,
described Soviet interrogations of U.S. POWS in Korea as follows:
Interrogators of three nationalities, Chinese, North
Korean, and Caucasian (presumably Russian) questioned
USAF personnel during the Korean conflict. The
preponderance of interrogators were Chinese who, after
their entry into the conflict in late October of 1950,
took over the responsibility for POW from the Koreans.
Evidence indicates that the Koreans reluctantly gave up
this responsibility, and that often tense feelings rose
concerning who was to have custody of a new POW. Not
infrequently, POWs reported that they were captured by
North Koreans and turned over to the Chinese only after
much heated discussion and sometimes near violence
between the two groups. In some cases, a POW remained in
North Korean custody for prolonged periods of time.
The most detailed discussion of the interrogations now available is
contained in the recent interview by Dr. Cole of Victor
Alexandrovich Bushuyev, Deputy Chief of Intelligence for the 64th
Soviet Air Corps. On September 16, 1992, Mr. Bushuyev made the
We had contacts with the American POWs, mainly the
pilots. We weren't interested in anybody else. I was
responsible for organizing the interrogations and for
processing all of the information received during the
How were the interrogations organized? All arrangements,
the structure of the interrogation, its content etc.,
were completely in the hands of the Chinese. We prepared
questions in advance. Then we gave the questions to the
Chinese. They asked the questions while interrogating the
American POWs. When I was there, I believe all American
POWs were completely in Chinese hands on the territory of
All American pilots, with no exception, would be
interrogated in the town of Sinidju. It was the very
northern most point in Korea, near the Yalu river across
from An' Dung where we were stationed. There was a
special building there--the interrogation point.
Americans would be brought there. We could see it from
An'Dung. We would go there about twice a week to
accommodate the prisoners. Sometimes there were just a
few of them so we didn't need to go.
I was responsible for the interrogations of the POWs, but
neither I nor the translators ever saw any of the POWs
with our own eyes. Contact on our level was completely
prohibited. We only had to get questions ready and then
receive the answers.
We would enter the building from a different side before
the POWs were brought there. We would go to our room and
would sit there very quietly. Only then would they bring
in the POWs. We had no visual contact. We would sit
behind the wall, a thin wooden wall, and the translators
would sit with us. We heard everything. The
interrogations were in English, or course.
We were prohibited from seeing the Americans . . . The
Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow would give us
questionnaires: ask this, ask that, whatever we thought
was interesting. I don't want to offend the American
pilots, mainly we would deal with the pilots, but they
were of no value. They didn't know anything. They were
average pilots, and good athletes.
I was there for more than one year, the most tense
period. Practically all the POWs went through my hands,
not in person but their files and interrogation
materials. Several hundred of them. But, again I want to
say that none of them was any serious value to us. We
knew twice as much as they could tell us. . . Practically
all of the American POWs belonged to the Chinese. The war
was conducted not by the Koreans but by the Chinese and
Soviets. The Koreans were under pressure and had no
rights. They would just load and unload stuff, build
roads, that sort of thing.
There was no need to bring Americans to Russia. Military
personnel, location of bases and all that were already
known. We had no questions of this sort. We had the
planes as well, all their parts, so it didn't make any
sense [to take pilots to Russia]. If someone had asked
for political asylum we would have, but I haven't heard
of any such cases. As far as I know, our
counterintelligence people didn't express any particular
interest in the pilots. We would have known this.
Regarding the issue of post-capture deaths of American MIA-POWs in
the Soviet Union, Dr. Cole has stated the following:
I have interviewed two Soviet military advisers in Korea
who had contact with two Americans POWs who were not
repatriated. The first, tentatively identified as First
Lieutenant Niemann, was definitely seen and perhaps
interrogated by Soviet military advisors. Niemann, who is
on the RAND and TFR lists, is listed in several records
Another Soviet military adviser recalled having contact
with "Lt. Colonel V. Black" in order to arrange an
interview with Pravda. Colonel Vance E. Black of
California, who has not been accounted for since he was
shot down in May 1951, was seen alive by an American POW
in Pyongyang in March 1952. Lt. Colonel Vance E. Black
may be the "V. Black," who was identified in the Pravda
article and seen by a Soviet military adviser.
According to a retired KGB Major General, Soviet
intelligence wanted to recruit agents. George Blake's
decision to work for the KGB, whether it was the result
of recruitment or simply a walk-in, gave the KGB
additional incentive to find other potential agents among
the UN prisoner-of-war population. Army G-2 analyses of
repatriated American POWs turned up an alarming number of
cases that fit this pattern. In June 1954, the U.S.
advised the Air Force that "evidence had been uncovered
which concerned the assignment of Sabotage and Espionage
missions to repatriated American prisoners of war during
"Big and Little Switch," and that quite recently new
cases of this type have been discovered." No evidence has
yet been obtained that points toward a similar North
Korean or Chinese interest in recruiting agents. There
have been reports over the years that American POWs were
used as guinea pigs in Sino-Soviet biological
experiments. None of this has been documented thus far.
Intelligence reports located in the U.S. archives are
nearly silent on the issue of whether American MIA-POWS
were transferred to the territory of the USSR. If this
activity took place, it was not discussed in Eighth Army
G-2 daily reports or annual summaries. If this activity
took place it was not widely known to repatriated POWs.
Thus far only one repatriated POW affidavit has been
located that mentions this activity.
In this affidavit, repatriated POW John T. Cain said that he had
been told by a Nationalist Chinese officer that a U.S. helicopter
pilot with the rank of Second Lieutenant had been taken to Russia
in March, 1952. The Captain did not know the branch of service, and
had communicated this information to POW Cain through "sign
language, in broken English, and by pictures drawn on the ground
In the early and mid-1950's, according to Dr. Cole, the U.S.
Government took the position that Americans may well have been
transported from Korea or China to the territory of the USSR. For
example, according to press reports, in May 1954, the U.S.
Department of State delivered a note to the Soviet Foreign Ministry
accusing the Soviets of having transferred American prisoners to
the territory of the Soviet Union from Korea. The Soviet
Government's rejection of the U.S. note was the first public notice
that the U.S. had made such a protest. As Dr. Cole stated, "reports
were apparently collected through U.S. intelligence and diplomatic
channels that U.S. POWs during the Korean War were seen in Soviet
Yet, the following year, the coordinated inter-agency position of
the United States took precisely the opposite position, concluding:
With regard to the question of United States personnel
captured in Korea, the Department of Defense has informed
us that all American servicemen, missing or unaccounted
for in that conflict, have been presumed dead. In close
cooperation with the Department of Defense, however, we
intend to continue to seek information from the
Communists about their fate. Further, we have no evidence
that any United States personnel captured in Korea were
ever taken to the Soviet Union.
As Dr. Cole stated:
There has been no official explanation that squares these
two contradictory positions. The possibility that
American POWs were moved from Korea or China to the
territory of the USSR cannot be ruled out. Thus far, no
documentary evidence has been found to support such a
position. Circumstantial evidence (viz., missing POWs,
Sino-Soviet intelligence cooperation, Russian presence in
Korean POW camps) and eyewitness testimony (former
prisoners, Soviet military sources) point to the
possibility that some American POWs may have been taken
to the USSR. The motives for this activity have not been
Testimony of Gen. Volkogonov on Korea
In response to questions from the Committee, Gen. Volkogonov said
that he had found no evidence to indicate that large numbers of
U.S. POWs had been held in the Soviet Union during the Korean War.
As he testified:
I have examined an enormous number of documents,
including the documents of Stalin, Beria, and all the
special services, and these are documents which would
have contained evidence of American prisoners being taken
through Soviet territory.
I want to bring your attention to one document
emphasizing that the leaders of these secret agencies,
the KGB, the NKVD, did not lie to one another. They told
the truth to one another in the totalitarian system
because it was extremely dangerous for them not to do so.
They may have deceived America or the Soviet public, but
among themselves they were forced to tell the truth.
And here is a document giving evidence to the following.
This is a document of February 4, 1954 of Interior
Minister Sergei Kruglov, written to him, indicating that
in special prisons on the territory of the Soviet Union
there are six American citizens being held in special
prisons and camps of the ministry of internal affairs.
This document was never intended to be made public. It
was top secret, and it contains the names of these
persons, but again, was purely for the internal use of
the Interior Ministry.
And this was immediately after the war in Korea. Despite
all of our work--and we have many archivists working,
dozens of experts searching, on their own time on a
volunteer basis, a great many archives. Despite this, we
have found no confirmation of the presence of other
American citizens located on the territory of the Soviet
Gen. Volkogonov testified that apart from the February 4, 1954
document, the Russians have found only one other document
concerning Korean-era U.S. POWs. This document concerned two U.S.
airmen from a helicopter forced to land in North Korea, in behalf
of whom the U.S. Embassy in Moscow requested Soviet assistance.
According to Gen. Volkogonov, the Soviet government decided not to
respond to the note. The Russians have no information on the fate
of these two men.
With respect to the location of interrogations of U.S. prisoners
during the Korean war, Gen. Volkogonov has told the Committee:
Based on testimony by G.I. Korotkov, who participated in
interrogations of American POWs from the Korean War
period, interrogations were conducted in an especially
equipped site at a junction of the Korean, Chinese and
Soviet borders. So far we have been unable to determine
the exact location of this site. The Soviet side was not
engaged in transporting American POWs to this site.
Probably they were brought by Korean servicemen, who then
took them away after interrogations.