Top Secret: How FBI Seized Documents Written by Nikola Tesla

Lauren Simmonds

nikola tesla
Lauren Simmonds

January the 9th, 2024 – Did you know that the huge number of documents written by Nikola Tesla were labelled as Top Secret by no less than J. Edgar Hoover?

As we all know, the world famous scientist from Smiljan, Nikola Tesla, died in New York on January the 7th, 1943 at the age of 86. The cause of his death was coronary thrombosis, and he died in room number 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel (he allegedly stayed in rooms whose number was divisible by three). In the storerooms of the hotel, there were huge amounts of Nikola Tesla’s documents that he wrote throughout his life. On the occasion of his death, the mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, gave an honorary speech on the radio.

Around 2,000 people attended the incredible Nikola Tesla’s ceremonial burial, including Nobel laureates. He was cremated, and the urn containing his ashes can be seen today in the Nikola Tesla Museum in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. At the time of his death, Tesla was working on a teleforce weapon, a kind of death ray, which was supposed to be able to be used to shoot planes out directly of the sky. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover gave Tesla’s documents the designation of top secret material, because they could potentially be dangerous in the hands of the enemy (and he wouldn’t have been wrong, given that the era we’re talking about was dominated by World War II).

In the end, as Dnevno writes, these designations were removed, and the documents were inherited by Nikola Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanović, and today they can be found in the aforementioned Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

Regarding the City of Zagreb, which sits so close to his hometown of Smiljan in Lika, Tesla once said: “I consider it my duty, as a native son of my country, to help the City of Zagreb in every way possible with advice and action.” Povijest/ reports that he said this on May the 24th, 1892, when he proposed the construction of an alternating current power station to the Zagreb City Municipality, which – as one of the many blows Tesla suffered throughout his life – rejected the proposal.

Nikola Tesla was no ordinary individual, as you might well have gathered, but what makes him interesting isn’t just his futuristic mind and astonishing inventions. Did you know that he suffered with severe and untreated OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), loved pigeons, despised pearls and was a germaphobe? You can read more about Tesla’s quirks and the psychiatric condition that dominated his life here.


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