Bradley F. Smith

Bradley F. Smith Formerly of Santa Cruz Faculty member at Cabrillo College for thirty-two years and acclaimed historian, died in London on July 10 after a long illness. Smith was a ground breaking historian of the Second World War and intelligence. His ten books on World War II earned him many honors, especially his work on the origins of the CIA, lives of Hitler and Himmler, and the Nuremberg Trials. Smith was born in Seattle in 1931, where his father was a professor at the University of Washington. Graduating summa cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1958, he spent a year at the University of Munich in Germany; he was awarded a Fulbright and became a Wilson Fellow. He joined Cabrillo in 1960 and retired in 1992. He was a most popular lecturer and offered special classes and seminars on Nazi Germany. He organized a community film program for several years, and with William Grant, a colleague, led a Great Books group at the local library. He took a leave of absence in 1967-68 during the period of racial conflict in the South to teach a year at Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama where he was a civil rights activist. His first article in The Journal of Modern History in 1971on the early career of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS during Hitler's rule in Germany, led to his book A Nazi in the Making, published in 1971. Throughout the 1970s Smith began to write the books which would make his name as a scholar. Foreign Affairs welcomed Reaching Judgment at Nuremberg (1977) as 'a superbly written and novelesque account, which is also a sound work of historical scholarship'. The Shadow Warriors: OSS and the Origins of the CIA (1983) was, like all his books, meticulously-researched, and it remains the best general account of the Office of Strategic Services, the USA's Second World War intelligence agency. Critical commentaries praised the book's revelations of a controversial subject. Part of Smith's genius, long before the widespread release of intelligence-related material, was to find revealing documents in public archives and among his favourite places were the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, the National Archives in Washington D.C., and the UK National Archives at Kew. His success in plundering that repository of documentary riches was exemplified in Sharing Secrets with Stalin: How the Allies Traded Intelligence 1941-45 (1996), which did an extraordinary job in uncovering a story that changed our assessment of the achievements and the failures of that improbable wartime alliance. Above all, however, was his extraordinary generosity in cheerfully sharing his own research with younger scholars, to whom he was invariably encouraging and helpful. Writing his books while teaching at Cabrillo also exemplified Smith's abiding commitment to community college education. He leaves his widow Jenny-Wilkes of London and two daughters, Maggie and Leslie, from a previous marriage, and two grandsons, Bradley and Harrison. A memorial service will be held November 16th at 4pm at the Sesnon House Cabrillo College.

Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Nov. 11, 2012