The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Hoover) to the Chief of the Division of Foreign Activity Correlation (Neal)


Reference is made to the telephone call from this Bureau to you on August 7, 1948, concerning the above captioned matter.2 The following facts are being set forth for your information and consideration and no further action will be taken by this Bureau.

At approximately 2:15 PM on August 7, 1948, the Clarkstown, New York Police Department advised that a complaint had been received that a woman was taken from a rest home operated by Mrs. Alexandra Tolstoy by four men believed to be Russians in a black Buick sedan.

Mrs. Tolstoy, above mentioned, is identical with Countess Alexandra L. Tolstoy, head of the Tolstoy Foundation.3 She and her assistant, Martha Andreevna Knutson, were interviewed and Knutson advised that at about 1:25 PM, on August 7, 1948, she was at the Reed Farm, Lake Road, Valley Cottage, New York, which is operated by the Tolstoy Foundation and noticed a car with three or four men and one woman arrive at the farm. Two men got out of the car and one of them approached her and asked where “the school teacher with the twins” was.4 Knutson told him she did not know and said that Kasienkina5 was the only teacher she knew. Knutson said she noticed then that the other man who had gotten out of the car was talking to Kasienkina who was working in the kitchen. At about this time, Knutson advised, Countess Tolstoy arrived on the scene.

Countess Tolstoy advised that Kasienkina came to her and said she was leaving, that “she had to go”. Tolstoy went with Kasienkina to [Page 1025] the latter’s bedroom, locked the door and advised Kasienkina that she did not have to go, that this was America and that if she wanted to stay, Tolstoy could have the police at the farm within fifteen minutes. Countess Tolstoy advised that Kasienkina insisted that “she had to go” and proceeded to pack her bags and get her things ready. Tolstoy further advised that she told Knutson to call the men on the farm-just prior to the time she went to the bedroom with Kasienkina. When Kasienkina came out of her bedroom with her bags one of the men who had arrived in the car took the bags and rushed her to the car. Meanwhile the men at the Reed Farm had surrounded the car and were going to rush it but Tolstoy told them that Kasienkina wanted to go and that she had a right to go.

Countess Tolstoy further advised that about ten minutes after Kasienkina left the farm which was about 1:35 PM, a station wagon with New York license SU–225, drove up and asked for Kasienkina. These individuals were told that Kasienkina was not there and the station wagon left. Countess Tolstoy said that she then called the Clarkstown Police Department and gave them the facts. She gave the license of the station wagon and also advised the police that the first car was a black Buick sedan.

Advice has been received that the Clarkstown Police Department put out an alarm for both of the above mentioned cars and subsequently the station wagon was stopped, but after the occupants identified themselves and claimed diplomatic immunity they were permitted to proceed.

Countess Tolstoy stated that Kasienkina does not speak English, that she was employed as a teacher in Agricultural Chemistry. Her husband was shot in Russia and her child later disappeared. Some of her belongings were left at the Reed Farm.

Countess Tolstoy also explained that Kasienkina went to a man at the Russian daily newspaper, “Novoye Rosskoye Slovoye”6 on July 29, 1948 and told her story. This man sent Kasienkina to Vladimir Zenzinov7 who called Countess Tolstoy and asked her if she could, hide out a person for a few days. Countess Tolstoy said she could but that she would have to turn the person over to the Immigration and; Naturalization Service and thereafter the person would have to take her chances on staying in this country. Countess Tolstoy also said that if it developed this person was a spy she would, of course, be turned [Page 1026] over to the proper authorities. It was arranged for Kasienkina to meet Countess Tolstoy on July 30, 1948, but Kasienkina did not appear. However, on July 31, 1948, Kasienkina took a cab and told the people at her residence that she was going to the pier to depart from this country. Instead she went to Zenzinov’s office and the latter brought her to the Tolstoy Farm by bus, arriving there at about 1:20 p. m. July 31, 1948. Countess Tolstoy said that Kasienkina seemed to be quite happy at the farm.

Countess Tolstoy further advised that on July 29, 1948, Mikhail Ivanovich Samarin came into her office and begged her to hide him and his family. He indicated that he needed help because he would be shot upon his return to Russia. Countess Tolstoy warned him as she had Kasienkina that she could hide him for a few days and then it would be necessary to turn him over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She explained to him that he would have to take his chances on being able to stay in this country and further informed him that if he turned out to be a spy he would be turned over to the proper authorities in this country. On Friday, July 30, 1948, Countess Tolstoy arranged a meeting for Samarin with Andrew Shebanoff8 of Freehold, New Jersey. At 1:00 a. m. July 31, 1948, Shebanoff took a truck to Samarin’s apartment, picked up his family and his belongings and took them to the hideout. Countess Tolstoy advised that she asked Samarin if there was anyone else who wanted to leave and he advised her that Kasienkina also wanted to leave and that he thought she was all right but would not recommend her because he had learned never to trust anybody.

Countess Tolstoy advised that she asked Kasienkina if there was anyone else among the teachers who wanted to leave and Kasienkina advised she understood Samarin wanted to leave but she did not know whether to trust him or not because she had learned never to trust anyone.

Countess Tolstoy stated that Shebanoff is a former member of the Communist Party in Russia and was in prison with Stalin at one time.

However, he has turned against Russia. He is fairly well off and has been known to help many people. She also advised that she has known Zenzinov who resides at 294 Riverside Drive, New York City, for sometime, and that he is a Socialist Revolutionary and a foe of the Communists. He is an author and when he was in Russia he was friendly with Kerensky.9

[Page 1027]

You will recall that Sunday newspapers reflected that a press conference was held at the Soviet Consulate in New York City10 and at this conference, Kasienkina through an interpreter, claimed to have been kidnapped and taken to the Reed Farm, after her arm was pierced with a hypodermic needle. At the conference, Kasienkina claimed to have been approached by one Vladimir Zenzinov and had also been influenced by a Dr. Alexander Korchinsky.11 She claimed that both of these men took her to the Reed Farm. She also claimed that while at the farm she wrote a letter to the New York Consulate stating, “I am not an enemy. I am very loyal to my country. I love my people with all my heart. I beg you not to let me perish here. I have been deprived of my freedom.” The letter was apparently longer but the above portion was the only one given to the press. At the press conference it was further stated that this letter was postmarked August 5, 1948. It allegedly was given to a vegetable man who was driving by the Reed Farm and he later posted it.12

At the press conference it was stated that when this letter was received by Yakov M. Lomakin,13 he notified the New York City Police Department, advising them that he was going to the Reed Farm and wanted the police to go with him. He said it was understood that the police would have a representative at the farm but that when he arrived with his assistant and his chauffeur, they did not see the police and therefore they went in by themselves.

At the press conference it was further stated that Kasienkina advised she wanted to go back to Russia and it was necessary to use force to get her out of the house where she was staying at the Reed Farm. About this time approximately twelve men surrounded the car and grabbed Lomakin and his assistant but they got away with Kasienkina.

[Page 1028]

At the press conference it was also stated that Mikhail Ivanovich Samarin, who was a teacher of mathematics at the Soviet Private School and his wife who was a teacher of languages at the same school, were scheduled to depart July 31, 1948, aboard the SS Pobeda, but were missing. Lomakin advised the press conference that it was understood the Samarin family was taken to a camp in New Jersey. He advised that he was going to make an effort to see if he can obtain the release of the Samarin family, who allegedly are at the Rover Camp, Cassville, New Jersey.14 Lomakin also advised that he did not know what his next move would be, that if the FBI wanted to talk to Kasienkina, permission to do so might be given on Monday.15 Lomakin also indicated that he might get in touch with Commissioner Wallander16 at the Police Department and make some effort to obtain the release of the people who are being held, if there are any, against their will at the farm.

Viktor Andreevich Kravchenko17 was interviewed on August 7, 1948, and advised that Kasienkina had approached the editor of “Novoye Rosskoye Slovoye” shortly prior to July 31, 1948, stating that she did not wish to return to Russia and asked for assistance. The editor referred her to Vladimir Zenzinov, 294 Riverside Drive, New York City, who is an elderly Russian of right wing political leanings. Kravchenko advised that on August 7, 1948, he called Zenzinov and Zenzinov immediately requested that Kravchenko see him. At this time the occurrences at the Tolstoy Farm were related to Kravchenko. It should also be noted that Miss Tolstoy advised that after receiving this information Kravchenko communicated with Representative Carl Mundt.18 Kravchenko also advised that he had determined through Zenzinov that no statements had been given by Kravchenko [sic] or Miss Tolstoy. He also stated that newspaper men had attempted to obtain the complete story from Zenzinov but he had cautioned Zenzinov not to make any disclosures.

Kravchenko stated that Samarin had been moved to a location other than the one believed to be known to the Soviet Consulate and he offered to locate Samarin. Kravchenko also stated that when located he would make him available for interview.

At 9:45 AM, August 8, 1948, Mikhail Ivanovich Samarin called at the FBI office in New York City accompanied by Kravchenko. [Page 1029] Samarin was advised through a Russian speaking agent that he did not have to make any statement and was free to leave at any time.19 All agents present at the interview identified themselves as such.

Samarin described himself and his wife as of working-class parentage. He advised that he has a mother, two sisters and three brothers in the USSR, one of his brothers being a Lieutenant Colonel in the Red Army. His wife has a mother, brother and two sisters in the USSR. Both the Samarins were in infrequent communication with their families.

Samarin advised that he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Pedagogy in 1935. He has been with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a teacher ever since except for two years in the Red Army from which he was released in 1943 because of wounds. He stated that he arrived in this country at Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Klavdia, and daughter, Elena, on December 3, 1943, destined for the Soviet Private School, Washington, D. C. He served there as instructor and director until his arrival in New York City in July, 1946. At the Soviet Private School in New York City he was instructor of mathematics and languages and was director until replaced as director a short time ago by Konstantin G. Andrienko. However, he continued on as a teacher.

Samarin claimed that shortly after arriving in New York City, he decided, that if possible, he would like to remain permanently in the United States. After being ordered to return to the USSR on July 31, 1948, aboard the SS Pobeda, he definitely decided to take steps in this direction. Coincidently, on approximately July 25, or 26, 1948, while out walking with his wife and twin children, who were born in the United States, he was approached by a strange man and woman who admired the children, and with whom, with this entree, he conversed in Russian. Samarin indicated that he was soon to return to the USSR and the unnamed man suggested that this would not be necessary. Samarin showed interest and the unnamed man offered to assist him in this direction. Two more meetings were held between Samarin and the unnamed man on the same date. At the final meeting Samarin was given the telephone number and address of the Tolstoy Foundation, New York City, and told to contact them and mention the name of one Pervuhov.20 Samarin was unable to state if this was the unknown man’s name, but believes not. He made contact with Miss Tolstoy in New York City on July 29, 1948. She arranged for a Mr. Shibanov to meet Samarin on July 30, 1948. At 11:00 PM, Shibanov picked up Samarin and family in a truck and took them to his farm in Freehold, New [Page 1030] Jersey. On July 31, 1948, they were transferred to the farm of Mr. Kozak in the same vicinity, but described by Shibanov as safer. Samarin’s family were at Kozak’s farm at the time of this interview.

Regarding his reason for his defection, Samarin stated he desired to rear his children, including the twins born here, under the advantages available in the United States; he feared constant surveillance if he returned to the USSR because he was not a Communist Party member and had been in a foreign land for a long period; he feared the possibility of war and was not convinced of the right of the USSR cause. If there was a war, he foresaw an immediate draft and he did not desire to readjust to the rigor of USSR life.

Samarin stated that when he first contacted Miss Tolstoy she asked him if he knew that another teacher was already at the Tolstoy Foundation. He advised that he knew nothing whatsoever concerning the defection of Kasienkina until he heard this. He advised that he has developed no information concerning Kasienkina’s defection and has had no contact whatsoever with officials of the Soviet Consulate since he left his home on July 30, 1948, with Shibanov. Samarin left the FBI office at 5:20 PM, August 8, 1948, accompanied by Kravchenko.

. . . . . .

The above is being furnished for your information only and is not to be distributed outside of your Department. For your information, however, these facts have also been made available to the Attorney General21 and to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

  1. This was related to the disappearance of two Russian teachers from the special private school operated for the children of members of the Consulate General of the Soviet Union and other agencies at New York City.
  2. Miss (Countess) Alexandra Lvovna Tolstoy (Tolstaya) was the daughter of the Russian novelist Count Lev (Leo) Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828–1910). She was the head of the Tolstoy Foundation (“Fund”), Inc., with offices at 289 Fourth Avenue, New York City, which was a welfare organization, and which operated and maintained the rest home of Reed Farm at Valley Cottage in Rockland County, New York.
  3. The reference is to Mikhail Ivanovich Samarin. His wife was Klavdiya Mikhailovna Samarina. Their twins, Tatyana Mikhailovna and Vladimir Mikhail-ovich, had been born in New York. There was also an older daughter, Elena (Helen) Mikhailovna.
  4. Mrs. Oksana Stepanovna Kasenkina (Kasyenkina).
  5. The reference is to Mark (Max) Weinbaum, editor of the Novoye Russkoye Slovo (New Russian Word) in New York City.
  6. Vladimir Mikhailovich Zenzinov was a journalist, writer, and editor of the Russian Review for Freedom in New York City. He claimed that he had been a member of the Executive Committee of the Soviet (Council) of Workers’ Deputies; in Petrograd in March 1917 along with Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin and Vyacheslav-Mikhailovich Molotov.
  7. Presumably intended is Harry Sbibanov, owner of a chicken farm and a former revolutionary in Russia.
  8. Alexander Fedorovich Kerensky had been a minister and then prime minister (July–November 1917) of the Provisional Government of Russia.
  9. The statement made by Mrs. Kasenkina to the press at a conference arranged at the Consulate General of the Soviet Union on August 7 is in the New York Times, August 8, 1948, pp. 1, 48.
  10. Identification indefinite. A Federal Bureau of Investigation memorandum of August 25, 1948, suggested the possibility of an Alexander Kojansky who was a chemist but not a doctor, although using that title. (702.6111/8–3048)
  11. This letter was postmarked from Haverstraw, New York, August 5, 1948, 8 a. m. The envelope was directed to A[lexander] E[fremovich] Porozhnyakov, an attaché of the Consulate General, who resided in the same building as Mrs. Kasenkina. A photostatic copy of this letter is on file under 702.6111/9–2048. The letter indicated a strong wish not to return to the Soviet Union and an explanation why the writer held that view. There was suspicion regarding the handwriting of this letter, which could not be certainly resolved in a Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory Report of October 5, 1948, because the handwriting characteristics were not sufficiently comparable. (702.6111/9–2048) In an interview on September 9, 1948, at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York with officers of the Police Department, Mrs. Kasenkina believed the copy shown to her was too long, being five sheets of paper whereas she had mailed about two pages, and she did not recognize some of the characters as being in her writing. The transcript of this interview is filed under 702.6111/9–1048. See also footnote 1, p. 1049.
  12. Yakov Mironovich Lomakin was consul general of the Soviet Union at New York.
  13. The Rova (Roova) Camp, or Farm, was operated by the Russian United: Mutual Aid Society. The Samarin family was not sheltered here.
  14. August 9.
  15. Arthur W. Wallander, Commissioner, New York City Police Department.
  16. For documentation on Kravchenko’s own defection and the attempts by the-Soviet Government to obtain his deportation, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 12241241, and 1945, vol. v, pp. 11311138.
  17. Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota was a member of the Un-American Activities Committee of the House of Representatives.
  18. See the account in the New York Times, August 9, 1948, p. 1.
  19. Not identifiable.
  20. Tom C. Clark.