The WRINGER Collection
The term “WRINGER”
identifies the past effort of the United States Air Force
to obtain intelligence information on the Soviet Union and
communist Eastern European nations from overt interviews with
former prisoners of war of the Soviet Union.
Following World War II, thousands of German
and Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) were incarcerated
in the forced labor camps of the Soviet Union. These POWs
were forced to help rebuild the Soviet Union following
the Second World War. Beginning in 1946, the Soviet Union
began releasing thousands of these German and Japanese
POWs to their homeland. U.S. Air Force officers quickly
realized the tremendous political and military information
these ex-POWs possessed, and initiated an intensive interview
program. From 1947 through 1956, U.S. Air Force personnel
in the U.S. Zone of Germany interviewed over 300,000 ex-POWs.
A similar program was intiated by the U.S. Air Force in
Japan upon the return of thousands of Japanese POWs.
WRINGER sources ranged from common laborers
to highly skilled technicians. These men were detained
in forced labor camps throughout the former Soviet Union.
The fact that an ex-POW had no particular knowledge did
not make the individual valueless. Almost all German and
Japanese ex-POWs had the ability to remember at least the
broad details of the places where they had worked. Most
importantly, some of them remembered meeting, seeing, or
hearing about U.S. and allied servicemen who were also
detained in the forced labor camps.
Researchers from the Defense Prisoner of
War/Missing Persons Office (DPMO), Joint Commission Support
Directorate (JCSD) have initiated a concerted effort to
review the WRINGER reports. They are specifically searching
for reports that may shed light on the numerous eyewitness
sightings of U.S. servicemen reportedly held in Soviet
forced labor camps. The WRINGER reports are now declassified
and stored in 1,350 boxes at the National Archives’ College
In addition, the WRINGER reports have triggered
considerable interest among many outside researchers. Scholars
of the Soviet period have commented on the detail and accuracy
contained in the reports, indicating the importance they
have for their own inquiries into those individuals unaccounted-for
in the Gulag.
The database contains 123 documents. New
documents are added as they are received and processed.