A CIA operative stationed in Germany in World War II penned a brief letter to his young son on office stationary that once belonged to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
The CIA operative was Richard Helms, the man who would become the leader of the CIA during the mid-60s through the early 70s.
According to The Washington Post, the letter, which is now in the possession of the CIA Museum in Langley, Va., arrived at its addressed destination sometime around May 29, 1945 and was addressed to "Master Dennis J. Helms c/0 Mrs. Richard Helms," who, at the time, lived in Orange, N.J.
In the letter, Helms offered his 3-year-old son, Dennis, an insight into the German dictator, who had caused the deaths of millions of people and later committed suicide in his underground bunker on April 30,1945:
"Dear Dennis, the man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe - three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins."
Helms continued, "He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat - a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so."
Too young to grasp the meaning of the letter, Dennis would have also been unable to appreciate the intriguing anecdote of his father sneaking into Hitler’s office to swipe the curious keepsake.
The letter, which is reported to have arrived at Langley the day after Osama bin Laden was killed, was sent by the younger, now 69-year-old Helms, along with an album of other letters and photos, from his home. Helms turned over the items to the museum’s new exhibit highlighting the history of the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s predecessor agency, for which his father had worked.
Accordingly, both men communicated extensively over the years through letters, and numerous correspondences between the two are available to the public at Georgetown University’s library, which obtained written documents belonging to the senior Helms in 2008.