New Video from the 1945 Yalta SummitHistorians/History
Mayton filmed the event and, using additional material obtained from the U.S. Army signal corps, created a remarkable film that is the basis of his forty-seven minute interview. The host, Theodore Baehr, is presently Chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, a division of Good News Communications, Inc. and publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Movieguide, a website and biweekly journal that evaluates motion pictures and other entertainment products from a conservative Christian perspective on suitability for family consumption.
Despite Mayton’s position, there is remarkably little known about him other than what can be gleaned from the interview. He was born in Russia, lived for a time in Houston (where he knew Lyndon Johnson as a schoolteacher) and was in the American military in 1917, stationed in Siberia at the time that Lenin and Trotsky seized power. Fluent in Russian, he was recruited to Yalta as a translator and “security” specialist, obviously well-suited by virtue of his position as a high ranking officer in America’s chief intelligence gathering organization.
Mayton was clearly anti-communist, well versed in Stalin’s atrocities in the gulag as well as his 1939 non-aggression pact with Ribbentrop and the Nazis that facilitated Hitler’s invasion of Poland. His views were known to the Soviets, who “blackballed” him for an official position in Moscow and who were aware of his presence at Yalta.
Despite the fact that Mayton had to be around ninety years old at the time of the interview, his mental faculties are remarkably unimpaired. Only one glaring factual error, Roosevelt’s whereabouts in March 1945, is noted, but this has little bearing on the overall impact of the video.
The film contains at least 15 minutes of previously unseen video, some of which appear to be outtakes of film shot by the U.S. Army, that shows Roosevelt in a decidedly poor physical condition that has never before been publicly revealed. Mayton also echoes the prediction of Lord Moran, Churchill’s physician, and others that FDR only had a short time to live based on his haggard appearance and demeanor.
There is virtually nothing found on Mayton on the web, other than a 1927 article on the Chinese economy and some association with Louisiana State University. No family has been located, nor is there even an obituary to be found. His name does not appear in the searchable data bases of the New York Times or any other major American newspaper.
Despite Mayton’s obscurity, his importance is clear and this video is a valuable historical document, well worth the attention of the historical community. I am happy to share the serendipity of its rediscovery. Perhaps further research in the newly released OSS files at College Park, Maryland will cast some further light on this cryptic yet important man.
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Steven M Lomazow - 1/18/2010
Mayton died in Altanta in 1994 at the ripe old age of 97. He had one daughter, Patricia Ann, who was nine years old in 1944.
Steven M Lomazow - 1/18/2010
That makes a lot of sense. Mayton probably would not have known about the closed car and I the people arriving at the palace look much too fresh to have been in an open jeep for so many hours.
Alonzo L Hamby - 1/18/2010
Great footage! Thanks to Steve Lomazo for unearthing it!
One should not fault Col. Mayton too much for misremembering a few things so long after the event. But let's be clear that FDR did not ride 90 miles in a jeep from the airstrip to Malta. He and the rest of the party traveled in closed autos. He was in a jeep briefly after landing at Saki airfield and seems to have used one after arrival at Yalta to get from his quarters to the conference hall.
See the new book by S. M. Plokhy, YALTA.
Steven M Lomazow - 1/17/2010
Since submitting this article wehave found Mayton's OSS file. It is a fascinating supplement to the video:
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