Bolten the POW
This is an excerpt from his daughter’s remembrance of her father. D-Day From Behind the Barbed Wire by Susanna Bolten Connaughton.
The Germans allowed these activities because they were following the rules of the Geneva Convention, they wanted the same fair treatment of German POWs, and because they believed that busy POWs would not be escape-planning POWs. They were mistaken. The camp’s engaging singers and energetic softball players not only kept the POWs occupied, but also helped to divert the guards’ attention.
The POWs formed a Security & Escape Committee. The small group coordinated escape plans and tunnel digging proposals, and the sending and receiving of coded letters and clandestine packages. With cigarettes and chocolates received in packages from home, they bribed guards for information, food, and tools. Every evening after Lights Out, they assembled “The Bird,” their secret radio. The Bird “sang,” coded messages and news updates broadcast over the BBC.
Using his college German, my dad became one of the camp translators, picking up a little Polish and Russian along the way. He facilitated discussions between Colonel Drake and Oberst Schneider, the camp Kommandant, and between his fellow POWs and the guards. He accompanied sick POWs on hospital visits outside of the barbed wire, which afforded him opportunities to observe and exchange intelligence.
His friend, 2nd Lieutenant J. Frank Diggs, previously a reporter for The Washington Post, asked and received permission to publish a monthly camp newspaper. He named it The Oflag 64 Item, a lighthearted four-pages that reported on camp shows, lectures, and sporting events. I found all fifteen issues of The Item in my dad’s foot- locker. Once a month, my dad accompanied Diggs to the German print shop in town — under armed guard — where he translated Diggs’ instructions to the typesetters.
As you can see, SB had a lot of practice planning and participating in clandestine missions. It’s inconceivable he was not involved in planning escape missions.
SB and his time in Germany Post War II
SB must have loved Germany and its people. The Germans are a very orderly and logical people. The Germans obey the law; they follow the chain of command. The German language is a very logical language; above all languages it has rules of grammar and obeys them. It is this obedience and discipline which makes Germany so strong economically. The rest of the world is messy; not so Germany. One might say that SB found a home there. Germany is the perfect haven for men who like order and discipline.
SB in Germany 1946-49
Although formally listed as junior staff in Lucius Clay’s rebuilding of Germany, it doesn’t seem likely that a graduate from NYU is going to be a clerk for too long. They don’t train people at NYU and Harvard to be bus boys. SB received a degree in International Relations from Harvard in 1949.
As a Jew, he certainly must’ve known about the smuggling network that transported Jews into Palestine. He would have come in contact with people like Mike Harari. Similarly he would have come in contact with members of the Gehlen organization. As a Jew of Russian extraction he would have asked to take a role in fighting the Soviet Union, a nation responsible for committing so many pogroms against the Jews.
It’s inconceivable that an intelligent man fluent in Russian and German would not be put to good use.
SB’s CIA Career
According to his wife’s obituary:
From 1955 to 1960, the Boltens lived in Bonn, Germany, where Seymour was the CIA”s Deputy Chief of Station, and Stacy took the opportunity to travel and ski with her sons.
That’s an important position. He would have known about Gladio, the Gehlen Organization. He most certainly would have known about Lee Oswald unless of course the CIA had infiltrated thousands of agents into the Soviet Union. He also would known about the smuggling lines transporting Jews to Palestine.
Why wasn’t Seymour Bolten passed up the ladder to be head of the CIA or at least assistant director?
Now, of course, I’m speculating here.
He wasn’t because a) he died at age 63, and b) he wasn’t a true believer.
SB was a hybrid. He was half elite and half regular person. He had to be to integrate with people of varying backgrounds. Jack Ruby and George Bush didn’t run in the same social circles. You need a person who can bridge the two.
SB was the first born son. As such, I would not be surprised if his father gave him his elite half and his mother the regular remainder. I say this because at heart he was a regular person.Yes, it’s true, his parents were merchants and unschooled in a formal manner. No matter; elitism is a function of personality not personal wealth and your level of completed education.
The CIA couldn’t fully corrupt SB’s soul. He still had a conscience which believed in fairness and justice. This was so because SB did not possess an integrated personality. As mentioned previously, there were two people living inside him. These two people were constantly at war within his mind. There was the side that could operate with cool efficiency, and then there was the side that was passionate about justice in this world.
There is an incident when he was a prisoner of war which illustrates this. While on a detail he was ordered by a German officer to walk in the gutter and not on the sidewalk. He spoke up and refused. For this he was put on trial. He was willing to risk his life for a principle. You wouldn’t catch Allen Dulles doing that. You wouldn’t catch any elite doing that.
If SB had ascended to the top position of the CIA, he would’ve abolished it or at least intentionally undermined its effectiveness. He had come to see what so many of us see today: that the CIA is incompatible with a republic and that republic’s survival. How can I know this? I can not cognitively know this, but I can emotionally feel it.
SB’s Role in Latin America
We know from his resume that SB was placed in charge of Latin America in 1961. No other details are given.
It would be impossible for him not to know the most classified of information. That his role is so thoroughly shielded is damning.
In 1972, SB was placed in a new role dealing with drugs. His role brought him into the Nixon White House where he dealt with Egil Krogh. He also would have had contact with Hunt, McCord, Barker, Sturges, et al. – people heavily involved with Cuba and JFK.
My belief is that the Watergate break-in was a CIA operation to setup Nixon in order to remove him from office. Why would the CIA go after someone who was “one of their own”? Because the CIA felt that Nixon had betrayed them by stopping the Vietnam war. The Vietnam war was the cash cow of the elites; it was intended to be what Afghanistan is today – a war never to be won.
SB’s presence in LA indicates his intimate connection to Latin America and more well-known operatives.
Our old friend, Mike Harari, played a prominent role in the affairs of Panama while General Torrijos was in charge. Manuel Noriega was one of Torrijos’s cronies. Given that GHWB launched an invasion of Panama with one purpose only – to find Noriega and sequester him forever, Noriega must have had a lot of juicy information on GHWB. It would be inconceivable that SB was out of the loop on what was going on in Panama. Of course, SB died in 1985. It would be fascinating to see who showed up at the funeral. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
I believe that the man covering his face in the famous Op 40 photo is Seymour Bolten. Compare the photos with him as a younger man.
Now, the covering the face doesn’t prove he’s SB, but SB is the type of man who would cover his face. SB was different; he was a thinker who thought 40 moves ahead.