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The WRINGER Collection

This site will be taken down on December 31, 2021.

The term “WRINGER” refers to a past effort by the U.S. Air Force to obtain intelligence information about the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe’s communist bloc from interviews with German and Japanese POWs who were released after World War II.

Incarcerated in the Soviet Gulag, these prisoners of war were released back to their homelands by the thousands beginning in 1946. U.S. Air Force officers quickly realized the tremendous amount of political and military information these former POWs possessed, and initiated an intensive interview program. From 1947 through 1956, U.S. Air Force personnel in West Germany interviewed over 300,000 people. A similar program was then created in Japan.

WRINGER sources ranged from common laborers to highly skilled technicians who were detained in forced labor camps throughout the Soviet Union. Not all of the former prisoners had particular knowledge about the Eastern Bloc, but just about everyone remembered the broad details of the places where they had worked. Most importantly, some of them remembered meeting, seeing, or hearing about American or Allied service members who were also held in the camps.

Although of particular interest to American researchers, the WRINGER records have been praised by Soviet scholars for their accuracy and detail. The reports, which have been declassified, are stored in 1,350 boxes at the National Archives’s repository in College Park, Maryland. This database contains 123 documents included in those files.

Note: This database is no longer updated by FRD, but is maintained as a historical reference.

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  December 8, 2015
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