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US WWII spies files unveiled

Latest update : 2008-08-16

Some 35,000 documents and over 750,000 pages containing information about spies working for the first US intelligence service, the OSS, have been declassified, revealing that famous people such as historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr were once spies.

Formerly classified files on famous US ex-spies such as chef Julia Child, Arab-Israeli peace negotiator Ralph Bunche, and Hollywood actor Sterling Hayden were unveiled to the public Thursday by the National Archives.

The 35,000 documents are part of a massive archive, much of which has been previously released, on the first-ever US wartime intelligence unit known as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

The OSS was the precursor to the Central Intelligence agency (CIA), and its clandestine network sprung up in the 1940s, mainly in Europe and North Africa.

The entire collection of 750,000 pages includes "initial applications to join the OSS; preliminary training and subsequent work assignments; pay, leave and travel documents; evaluations, basic medical information; and awards, decorations and discharge papers," the Archives said in a statement.

Among the well-known names in the files are Child's, who made French cooking popular in the United States with television shows and books, and joined the OSS after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Her work as an OSS spy was previously known, but the release of the new documentation includes more details about her service.

Other files are available on former CIA directors Allen Dulles and William Casey, as well as famous athletes and actors of the era.

The OSS was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in June 1942, and by the end of 1944 it employed 13,000 spies and personnel abroad. It dismantled in 1945 and was replaced by the CIA in 1947.

Date created : 2008-08-14