Melvin Purvis

FBI Melvin Purvis Letter from Germany Before Nuremberg Trials Commence

FBI Melvin Purvis Letter from Germany Before Nuremberg Trials Commence


MELVIN PURVIS, Typed Letter Signed, to Mr. McCloy, October 9, 1945, Frankfurt, Germany. 1 p., 8" x 10.5". Expected folds; some aging; very good.


Former G-Man Melvin Purvis, who led the successful pursuits of notorious 1930s gangsters, was serving as an intelligence officer in Germany at the end of World War II. He collected evidence against the most prominent members of the political, military, judicial, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. In this letter, written just over a month before the military tribunals began in Nuremberg, he wrote this letter to Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, seeking a meeting.


As U.S. High Commissioner to Germany from 1949 to 1952, McCloy controversially freed or reduced the sentences of many war criminals convicted and sentenced at Nuremberg, outraging many around the world.


Complete Transcript:


Frankfurt, Germany


October 9, 1945


Dear Mr. McCloy,


I have just learned you are over here and I should like very much to see you.
I am now on a survey trip over the American Zone but can adjust my itinerary and be available at any time and place convenient to you. Sergeant Klein in General Clay’s office in Frankfurt will be able to locate me. I shall leave my addresses with him.


With kindest regards and looking forward to seeing you, I am




Melvin Purvis


Melvin Purvis (1903-1960) was born in South Carolina and received a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Purvis joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1927, and in 1932, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover placed him in charge of the Chicago office. Purvis led successful manhunts for gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd. Hoover was annoyed by the publicity Purvis received and demoted him. In 1936, Purvis published a memoir of his years with the FBI, titled American Agent. During World War II, Purvis served in the U.S. Army as an intelligence officer, reaching the rank of colonel. He helped compile evidence against Nazi leaders for the Nuremberg trials, held from November 1945 to October 1946. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in South Carolina, likely a suicide.


John J. McCloy (1895-1989) was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Amherst College in 1916 and Harvard Law School in 1921, interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during World War I. He became an attorney in New York and represented some German corporations in the 1930s. U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson hired McCloy as a consultant in September 1940, and McCloy became an Assistant Secretary of War in 1941. He participated in task forces that built the Pentagon, created the Office of Strategic Services (which became the Central Intelligence Agency), and proposed the United Nations and the war crimes tribunals. He also played a pivotal role in the relocation of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast to inland internment camps. He advised President Harry Truman in mid-1945 to offer terms of surrender to Japan that would preserve the Japanese monarchy and use the atomic bomb only if necessary. Truman ignored McCloy’s advice and ordered the atomic bombs to be dropped as soon as they were ready. After initially opposing the idea, McCloy advocated ending racial segregation in the military. McCloy served as Assistant Secretary of War until November 24, 1945, then returned to the private sector, where he served as the second president of the World Bank from March 1947 to June 1949. He also served as U.S. High Commissioner to Germany from September 1949 to August 1952. He later served as chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank (1953-1960), chairman of the Ford Foundation (1958-1965), and chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (1954-1969). After serving as an adviser to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, he also advised Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He was a member of the foreign policy establishment group called “The Wise Men,” statesmen marked by nonpartisanship, pragmatic internationalism, and opposition to ideological fervor.


This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.



Item: 68020

Price: $700.00
Melvin PurvisMelvin Purvis
Melvin Purvis
Click above for larger image.