Svetoslao N. Hlopoff

United States


Svetoslao N. Hlopoff arrived in eastern France as a soldier with the U.S. Army in December 1944. After the surrender of Nazi Germany, a roundabout route took him to the Allied Kommandatura in Berlin as a Russian-English interpreter. In this capacity he experienced the beginnings and the collapse of the Four Powers Administration.

Svetoslao N. Hlopoff was born in 1924 as the son of Russian immigrants in Rome. When he was five years old, his family moved to Paris and nine years later to New York. After the U.S. entered the Second World War in December 1941, Svetoslao was designated an ‘enemy alien’ because of his Italian citizenship. As such he was no longer allowed to move freely. This changed when the Allies negotiated an armistice with Italy in September 1943. Shortly thereafter Svetoslao enlisted in the U.S. Army and received American citizenship at the same time. In December 1944 he arrived at the front in eastern France with the 42nd Infantry Division via Marseille. During a brief stay in Paris in March 1945 he visited a Russian Orthodox church. Two members of the U.S. Army noticed this and his knowledge of Russian. Together with other multilingual officers, he received instruction in Russian language and culture. He travelled to Berlin in July 1945 with the first occupying troops of the Western Allies. His mission was to work as an English-Russian interpreter and translator at the Allied Kommandatura in Berlin. Representatives of the four occupying powers met there at regular intervals to settle matters of political, economic and social life in Berlin. Svetoslao N. Hlopoff recalls collaboration at the Allied Kommandatura at his operational level as quite constructive, at least until the outbreak of the first Berlin crisis in the early summer of 1948. He returned to the USA in the autumn of 1948 after the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the collapse of co-operation among the Four Powers.