October 14, 1995 in Nation/World

Eleanor Roosevelt Recruited By Spies?

Compiled From Wire Services

During World War II, Soviet espionage agents tantalized their bosses in Moscow with the possibility of recruiting Eleanor Roosevelt, the president’s wife. There is no public evidence any such attempt was carried out and the contact they hoped to use says the Russians never came to her.

The reference to Eleanor Roosevelt was in a cable dated May 26, 1943, from the Soviet KGB chief in New York to the director of foreign intelligence in Moscow.

It was one of scores of documents declassified and made public by the National Security Agency.

To this day, large segments of individual documents defy decoders.

The 1943 cable began, “For processing Captain’s wife we (section undecipherable) her great friend Gertrude Pratt, wife of the well-known wealthy Elliot Pratt.”

If the Soviets were looking for someone close to Roosevelt, Pratt was a good choice. She often stayed at the White House and eventually divorced Pratt and married Joseph Lash, an Eleanor Roosevelt confidant who lived in the family quarters.

“I don’t know what this might mean,” Lash said from her home in New York City. “The only connection I ever had with the Soviet Union was that I was in charge of an international student meeting.”

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