Monday, August 22, 2022

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation [2 volumes]: History, Powers, and Controversies of the FBI" by Douglas Charles and Aaron Stockham

A book was published in May 2022 : "The Federal Bureau of Investigation [2 volumes]: History, Powers, and Controversies of the FBI" by Douglas M. Charles and Aaron Stockham

The Federal Bureau Of Investigation Douglas M Charles

 FBI Douglas M. Charles & Aaron Stockman


This is an encyclopedia of the FBI and a short article is dedicated to Leon Turrou. 


First, I have to introduce myself. My name is Bertrand Vilain. I am the author of a book in French: "Affaire Seznec : les archives du FBI ont parlé", last edition in 2022, not translated into English. The book is about the most known and mysterious French cold case that happened in Brittany, West of France, in 1923, called "L'affaire Seznec" or the Seznec Affair. Guillaume Seznec was sentenced to life in prison at the Cayenne penal colony. He claimed his innocence his entire life. This decision of justice is still considered today as one of the worse miscarriage of justice in France. The Seznec family has been fighting even until now. I met many times with Denis Seznec (grandson of Guillaume) who started the process of going back to court based on my book. Without entering into all of the details, Leon Turrou after leaving ARA (American Relief Administration) is strongly suspected of being involved in a traffic of Cadillacs in 1923 in relationship with Guillaume Seznec and Pierre Quéméneur. 


I had a long and courteous exchange of emails with Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones about Leon Turrou. Rhodri mentioned my research in his book "The Nazi spy ring in America". I am also in touch with Bertrand M. Patenaude of Stanford University who wrote "Big show in Bololand".

I do understand that Turrou is not a major character in the history of the FBI and there are only 2 pages in this book about him. I was surprised to see the contributor to this book about Leon Turrou was Richard Bareford. I had an exchange with him for a while but his point of view about Turrou was too complacent to be taken seriously. The only work produced by him is a biography of Turrou published without any reference, in 2017 on the web site findagrave. The sources of this biography are almost exclusively Leon Turrou's statements. There is no additional research or other sources. It appears that several statements are not proven or sometimes completely untrue.

For instance, according to Bareford in findagrave : 


"In 1916, he [Turrou] left for France and joined a Polish unit of the French Foreign Legion. While recovering from battle wounds in a Paris hospital he met Teresa Zakrzewski, from Zahacie, Poland (now Belarus)". 


The FBI did extensive research with the help of the french government around 1938. They didn't find any Turrou or Turovsky in the foreign legion in France during WW1. Turrou has never received "La croix de guerre avec palme". All that is well known and can be easily found in Turrou 's FBI files. In the Congressional Record Appendix Feb 15, 1962, A1074, Lieutenant-Colonel Turrou honored by veterans of foreign wars. The official military biography of Turrou was recalled. There is not a single mention of Turrou in WW1.


According to the Passport statements at the US Consulate in Warsaw, Poland, in July 1922, Teresa Zakrzewski has never been to France. She got married to Leon, on October 16, 1917 at the Roman Catholic church of Vladivostok, Russia. Their first child, Edward, was born November 10, 1918 in Taiga in Siberia. In 1919, the family moved to China. In October 1919, Leon Turrou decided to move back alone to the States leaving a 1-year-old kid and a 7 months pregnant wife in the chaos of the Russian civil war. Teresa moved back to Taïga, Siberia, where the second son, Victor, was born on December 10, 1919. I am not sure Bareford's statement in findagrave is very serious: "In the chaos of the Russian civil war, Turrou became separated from his family".


Leon Turrou was invited in a radio show Jonathan Breakfast Club Los Angeles, on March 7, 1939. He gave more explanation about this part of his life "My wife went to Siberia to give birth to our second child while I remained in China. During that time,1918, there was a civil war going on in Russia. My wife got stranded on the other side of the gate while I was in China and for 2,5 years I was unable to communicate with her. My inquiries at the American Consulate indicated everyone in that little village where she was living was actually massacred. I gave them up as dead. It was then I decided to return to the United States.". As seen previously, the second son Victor was born on December 10, 1919. Turrou left Shanghaï for France and the USA before October 1919. This part of Siberia was still controlled by the white army and during the civil war, the Russian part of the Chinese Eastern Railway remained under the administration of the Whites. According to the passport statements, Turrou's wife lived in China from 1919 to 1920. All the members of the family are Russian polish. Turrou is not a US citizen, why does He think the American consulate is the most appropriate one to get information ? All Turrous's explanation doesn't make any sense.


When Turrou arrived in New York, on November 19, 1919, he got in touch with his old friend Davidowsky who stated the following to the FBI agent Louis Loebl in 1938:" While in Moscow, Davidowsky received numerous postal cards and letters from Turrou indicating that He was getting to be "quite a famous man" and he had all kinds of adventures with women there." and "When Turrou came back from Russia, He fell in love with a Russian woman by the name of Palubova but Davidowsky found out later that while in Vladivostok Turrou married his present wife [Teresa Zakrzewski] who joined him in New York..." in FBI file 1 section 3 page 36/280.


Bareford's biography published in the book "The Federal Bureau of Investigation [2 volumes]: History, Powers, and Controversies of the FBI" forgets to mention the dark side of Turrou as it is presented in Bertrand Patenaude's Book, "Big show in Bololand" and in others publications or archives. According to Bareford, page 464, "He [Turrou] completed his active duty in June 1949 with the rank of major. Among his decoration were the bronze star medal, the croix de guerre and the Legion d'honneur. After the war Turrou settled in Paris".


Turrou got the Legion d'Honneur in the 60s because of his position as Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States in Paris. Again, there is not a single piece of evidence about the "croix de guerre". At that time, the situation is very threatening for Turrou. An investigation carried out by the Prevost Marchal General, Colonel Francis E. Howard showed Turrou was suspected of having purchased his grade of officer and was involved in the national scandal of WW2 surplus in 1949-1950. The hearings of the Congress committee of disposition of war surplus property showed Turrou was friend with George Dawson, a British crook who made a fortune buying and reselling US War surplus mainly motorcycles, trucks, and cars. It appears Dawson was almost the exclusive purchaser of the US army surplus in Europe....According to the president of the committee, Congressman, Herbert C. Bonner, Dawson made 100 M $ profits. In 1948-1949, Major Turrou was Director, Compliance Division, Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner, 41 rue du Faubourg St. Honoré Paris, France. Basically, he was in charge of controlling and investigating the legitimacy of the markets done by Dawson. No need to say, Turrou has never done any investigation regarding his friend, George Dawson. This scandal was huge in the States with the implication of John Maragon, a friend of  Major General Harry Hawkins Vaughan, military  aide of President Truman at the white house.


At this point, I don't know exactly what happened to Turrou as we do not have access to his military records but I have the feeling he was not welcome anymore in the army. The fact he decided to stay in France might be related to investigations done on him in the States. Turrou's boss in Paris, General Clyde Hyssong, Director of the Foreign Liquidation Commission had obviously to take early retirement in 1949 at the age of 55. The investigations done by Congress brought to light the management's problems and disorders in his department in Paris.  


Regarding the influence of Turrou and the case that stirred up the nation ” the moment when Americans began to turn away from neutrality and against Germany, according to Bertrand Patenaude in Wall-Street Journal from Oct 9, 2020 : "But not everyone was persuaded by the screaming headlines. A New York Times editorial, describing the espionage trial as a “petty, sordid and often faintly humorous drama,” concluded that “the spy problem is no real problem at all”. “The Nazi Spy Ring in America” shows that the threat was real, even as it fails to deliver an engaging narrative worthy of this fascinating episode."

From a french point of view, Turrou came to France in June 1939, several weeks before the declaration of war. He presented himself as the US counterintelligence chief with french origins that vary from one newspaper to another one. The articles are mainly to promote Turrou himself, the movie, and his book just released in french. In numerous interviews, he barely talked about the menace of nazism. 


Below, is a recap non-comprehensive with proven facts about the dark side of Turrou : 


1916 : He leaves the USA for China with checks without provision: Davidovsky in FBI files 


1914-1918 : Turrou lies on several occasions about his participation in WW1, joining the French foreign legion and about medals he would have received : FBi Files 


1919 : Turrou moved back to the States leaving his pregnant wife and 1 child in the chaos of the Russian civil war 


1920 : Dissolute life with numerous romances in New York: FBI File Davidovsky

         Apr 20, 1920 : Declaration of Intention for naturalization. He swore not to be married. 


1921 : Turrou reported a plot against the french politician Viviani visiting the US. Police were unable to confirm Turrou 's statements 


Numerous fake declarations to obtain US citizenship. Feb 7, 1921 Leon Turovsky signed a Petition for Naturalization swearing he is not married (for the second time). 


1921-1923 : A.R.A. Turrou is involved in several illegal activities. He purchased jewelry by check from a Russian and then he advised his bank that the check was stolen and He ordered to reject the payment / Hoover archives, Bertrand Patenaude 


May 1923 Affaire Seznec : Turrou is strongly suspected of being the American Charly or Sherdly who started a business selling surplus ww1 cadillacs in France to the GUEPEOU in Russia. This business appeared to be non-consistent and a scam. Two French Breton guys Guillaume Seznec and Pierre Quemeneur were ripped-off and lost all their savings. Pierre Quemeneur mysteriously disappeared: see Bertrand Vilain "Les archives du FBI ont parlé" 2020-2022, FBI files and Davidowsky 


1929 : Hired by Hoover as a Special Agent. Turrou's resume is full of false statements: FBI files 


1937 : false declaration in a car accident: FBI files 


1938 : Nazi spy ring. Turrou sells information about an investigation done by the FBI. During the case, Turrou lies to the court regarding his bio.


1939 : travel to France. He presents himself as the big boss of the American Counterintelligence: French newspapers 


During his stay in France, an imaginary plot against Turrou almost identical to the Viviani plot in 1921 : French Police file Sureté Nationale 


1945-1946 : According to a CID document dated June 5, 1946, Turrou is considered incompetent, a coward and a pathological liar. In the same document, he is suspected to have paid Purvis, $ 11,000 to get his grade of an officer. 


1948-1949 : Turrou is involved in a major WW2 surplus scandal. It looks like as an officer, Compliance Division, Office of the Foreign Liquidation Commissioner, he helped the British crook, George Dawson to buy for millions of dollars WW2 surplus. 

1951 : Congress investigation about WW2 surplus in Germany and corruption. The name of Turrou is mentioned many times. 

1954 : Turrou is involved with Onassis in a corruption case in Saudi Arabia. Turrou sold documents: FBI files 

1955 : Turrou purchased pipeline equipment for Getty-oil company. He got a hidden commission: see "Getty the richest man in the world" Robert Lenzner.