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Erich W. Isenstead Papers

Identifier: GTM-070807

Content Description

Papers of Erich Wolfgang Isenstead comprising personal correspondence, professional records, photographs, newspapers and printed ephemera regarding his work in postwar Bavaria for the Information Control Division of the Office of Military Government, United States, primarily regarding U.S. efforts toward denazification and reconstruction of Germany's press, broadcast media, and other cultural infrastructure.


  • 1900 - 1994
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1952


Collections-level access restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical / Historical

Erich W. Isenstead was born Erick Wolfgang Eisenstadt in Berlin-Neukoelln, Germany in 1918, to Elly and Dr. Joseph Eisenstadt. Erich attended the Kaiserin Augusta Gymnasium in Berlin, where he studied Classics and German history. Following an incident in 1936 in which Joseph was detained by Nazis and badly beaten, the Eisenstadt family emigrated to New York in 1937 and began the process of naturalization. In straitened circumstances and unable to pursue an academic career, Erich worked in the hotel industry for several years. Erich and Joseph were baptized at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity in New York City in 1940. Becoming a citizen in August, 1943, and being drafted into the army in April 1944, Erich served in a Combat Engineer Batallion in the European Theater during the final year of the war, and applied successfully for transfer to the District Information Services Control Command in Munich, where he was assigned to the Intelligence Branch as an interrogator. As a gifted student with a scholastic bent, and a (recent) former German national, Erich proved himself invaluable to the rapidly developing U.S. efforts to denazify Bavaria and to understand and influence the political culture of occupied Germany.

According to Erich,

"[w]hen this organization was absorbed by Military Government for Bavaria and became Information Control Division, I civilianized and continued in the Intelligence Branch as Intelligence Field Officer mainly concerned with vetting and screening applicants for information media licenses. In October 1947 I became Acting Chief of the Field Research Section, being charged with all vetting operations in Bavaria and the checking of public opinion reactions. In July 1948 I was confirmed in this position which had been incorporated in the newly established Intelligence Division, OMGB. In January 1949 I became Acting Chief of the Research Branch, Intelligence Division and was approved in that job on 4 March 1949. In this position I was responsible for intelligence collection all over Bavaria as it pertains to Military Government, liaison with other intelligence agencies operating in Bavaria, special projects such as Paper Clip, and the files, library, and archives of the Division. The Branch consisted of 5 other American and 30 German personnel."

Erich was still only 30 years old when he became Chief of the Research Branch, and he continued to work in the field of intelligence throughout the existence of the Office of Military Government, U.S. (OMGUS) and its civilian successor, the Office of the High Commissioner of Germany (HICOG), eventually transitioning to the newly formed CIA in a career that spanned the entire Cold War period. Erich Isenstead died January 24, 1994; his pastor and eulogist Theodore Schneider said of Erich's later career, "[h]is work is praised, but it can never be reported."


3.93 Linear Feet (7 document cases, 6 oversize flat boxes, and 1 photo-album binder/box)

Language of Materials



Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Elizabeth and Genevieve Isenstead, 2007.

Related Materials

The Erich Isenstead Papers comprise documents created within the context of the National Archives and Records Administration Record Group 260, Records of the Office of Military Government, United States, and Record Group 466, Records of the U.S. High Commissioner of Germany.

Erich W. Isenstead Papers
Ted Jackson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057