Did the FBI Confiscate Nikola Tesla's Papers?

by candy47

A brilliant physicist, prolific inventor and a true genius Nikola Tesla developed a 'death ray'. Did the FBI confiscate those designs the day after he died?

Nikola Tesla claimed to have developed a 'teleforce' weapon, the press coined it a 'death ray'. The weapon, according to Tesla, could be used against enemy armies on the ground or in the air. The teleforce weapon would send particle beams through the air at such colossal force that it would annihilate a fleet of enemy planes from a distance of 200 miles. This, Tesla claimed, would end all wars. Tesla took great care to not let the plans fall into the hands of enemies of the United States.
Tesla died January 7, 1943 at the height of World War II, and more than one U.S. Government agency had an imminent interest in obtaining and securing those plans. Was it the FBI?

Above photo credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation in the public domain.

FBI Myth No. 10

The FBI prepared a list of 'FBI Myths', Nikola Tesla's death ray is number 10.

Ever since Tesla's death, the Federal Bureau of Investigations has denounced rumors that they are in possession of the 'death ray' plans. The FBI has repeatedly reported that representatives of the Office of Alien Property seized Tesla's papers for safekeeping. ('alien' in this instance refers to foreign persons). Tesla was a U.S. Citizen, so the jurisdiction of the Office of Alien Property is questionable.

The original of this iconic photo was done as a double exposure.


Office of Alien Property

Under the Department of Justice

In 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Office of Alien Property. During World War II the agency accumulated an enormous portfolio of real and intellectual properties belonging to enemies. In 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson abolished the office.

FBI Releases Papers

Freedom of Information Act

In 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act, President Obama ordered the FBI to release all papers in their possession relating to Nikola Tesla. [There are too many to list here but I've selected a few that I think are pertinent].

Sava Kosanovich

Sava Kosanovich was Tesla's nephew and heir, he also had strong ties to the communist party. The day after Tesla died, Kosanovich entered Tesla's residential hotel room reportedly to look for a will. Kosanovich gained access to the room by three representatives from the Hotel New Yorker while accompanied by Tesla's longtime friend, Kenneth Sweezey, custodians from the Office of Alien Property, and representatives of the Yugoslavian consulate.

Tesla's safe was opened, some items were removed and recorded, such as personal photos, newspaper articles, a compilation of greetings from friends and the like. The safe was then closed and locked.

In the letter to J. Edgar Hoover dated June 25, 1955, Mr. Sweezey is sure of at least one item missing from Tesla's effects. Hoover replied as having no knowledge of what was in or possibly taken from Tesla's safe.

FBI Papers
FBI Papers

Click to Enlarge Letters

FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers
FBI Papers


Various formats
Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla

Even the gods of old, in the wildest imaginings of their worshipers, never undertook such gigantic tasks of world-wide dimension as those which Tesla attempted and accomplished....

View on Amazon

Tesla: Man Out of Time

In Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney explores the brilliant and prescient mind of one of the twentieth century's greatest scientists and inventors. Called a madman by his ...

View on Amazon

My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

Serbian inventor NIKOLA TESLA (1857-1943) was a revolutionary scientist who forever changed the scientific fields of electricity and magnetism. Tesla's greatest invention, A/C c...

View on Amazon

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Updated: 08/04/2021, candy47
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candy47 on 06/22/2017

No, but I certainly will! Thanks for the recommendation.

DerdriuMarriner on 06/20/2017

candy47, Have you seen the film The Prestigue with Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannsson? David Bowie makes an unforgettable contribution as Nikola Tesla.

candy47 on 01/20/2016

I agree mihgasper! There is so much we don't know about Tesla.

mihgasper on 01/19/2016

There are many myths about Nikola Tesla and we'll probably never know how many of his ideas stayed unrealized. I believe he was a dreamer above all. This world needs more dreamers!

candy47 on 10/22/2015

I agree blackspanielgallery. Back then they called him a 'mad scientist'. People criticize what they don't understand.

blackspanielgallery on 10/22/2015

Tesla was a genius. His work is still of value.

candy47 on 10/22/2015

Thanks Nate. I wish I could have known him.

NateB11 on 10/22/2015

Everything about Tesla is fascinating, the information you've presented here included. He was a genius and could have changed the world. Good stuff.

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