Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Did My Father Do in the O.S.S.?

The Office of Strategic Services was an intelligence agency created during the Second World War, with a principle mission of coordinating espionage activities of the different American armed services. After the War it was transmogrified into the C.I.A.

My father, Sidney Kaufman, about whom I write extensively in The Memory Of All That, served in the O.S.S. during the war, making training and propoganda films. But the details of his activities are few and I don't really know what he did.

Though in recent times (in August, 2008), O.S.S. records became available through the National Archives, ten years ago, my request for my father's military records was met with a form letter stating that there was no record of Sidney Kaufman (with his birthdate and Social Security number) ever having served in any branch of the military. This is because O.S.S. files were in the C.I.A. archive and were entitely classified -- n personnel were identifiable, period. For many years, the only absolute proof I had for his service in the O.S.S. was this identification badge. I will never know the details of his wartime service.


  1. Oh, to lay hands on one of the films!

  2. I describe what I do know about his activities in the book, including a pretty funny moment when he was arrested for mishandling "TOP SECRET" documents which were actually props for a film about how to handle TOP SECRET documents, but nobody had clearance to look at them to see if he was lying about their only being blueprints for a shopping center in Van Nuys marked "Top Secret," so he was taken off to military prison.

  3. My father was in the OSS as well, but worked as a film editor on the Nuremberg Trials - not the feature, the gov't sponsored doc that was never released until now. Bud Shulberg's niece Sandra has produced the film that is now showing in various cities. Email me and I'll give you her contact info, she may be able to help.

    Coincidentally, I saw your talk yesterday at the Decatur Book Festival with my sister, a writer for the AJC, and we thoroughly enjoyed it! As a music lover, Gershwin is a personal favorite of mine. Your family stories are just wonderful. We have our own celebrity filled family stories from early Hollywood in the 1920-30's, but much is a mystery now that most of the archivists are gone.

    I can't wait to read your book! Many thanks for the talk.

  4. nice site! my Dad was also in the OSS & i have a copy of his badge as well (he was # 777). he was fortunate enough to stay in D.C. & the war ended before he was ever sent behind enemy lines