Kingsport EspionageWe watch the dramatic portrayals of international espionage routinely in movies and on television. James Bond has rescued the damsel and secured the sensitive information for decades. Movies and novels regarding spies and their dangerous exploits have established a dedicated niche and mass followings. During World War II, Kingsport had its very own issues with spies.

Alfred Dean Slack worked with Holston Ordinance Works, today’s Holston Defense, from 1943 to 1944. This mild-mannered chemist then found employment with a paint manufacturer in upstate New York. No one suspected him or his time in the Tri-Cities as anything more than a job.

Scandal broke onto national headlines in July of 1950. Slack was 44-years-old when the FBI arrested him in Syracuse, New York. He was charged with selling defense secrets to Russia.

J. Edgar Hoover, himself, stated Slack was actually a contact for Harry Gold. Slack had supplied Gold with not only a sample of a new and powerful explosive; he provided secrets on how it was made. The substance was manufactured in Kingsport, Tennessee. Slack’s treason took place during his employment in Kingsport.

Harry Gold was arrested the previous month on the charges of selling atom bomb secrets, which he’d obtained from Dr. Klaus Fuchs. The doctor had just been convicted in Britain for his activities.

Gold passed on his secrets to Soviet principal Semen M. Semenov.