International Spy Museum Gains 5,000 Artifacts Including an Enigma Machine

Florida businessman H. Keith Melton is donating his collection.

September 15, 2017 5:00 am
International Spy Museum
H. Keith Melton points to a key on an Enigma Machine with four rotors and a some Japanese characters that was used in World War II to encode messages, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Washington. The machine is one of the many items that he is donating to the International Spy Museum from his collection of spy objects. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The International Spy Museum in Washington has just gained new artifacts including the ax used to assassinate Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and a chunk of Gary Powers’ U2 spy plane.

H. Keith Melton, a wealthy businessman from Boca Raton Florida, gave the museum more than 5,000 items that he gathered during 40 years of globetrotting, reports the Associated Press. They will be the cornerstone of a new facility that is opening soon.

Melton spent four decades years look for the ice-climbing ax, which ended up being under a bed in Mexico City, reports Associated Press. The basketball-size chunk of Powers’ U2 plane, which was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, was a gift from a Soviet official.

Melton, a founding member of the museum’s board, also had a 13-foot-long World War II spy submarine, a victory flag that the CIA-backed Cuban exiles never flew after the botched Bay of Pigs invasion, spy cameras, clothes, secret writings, listening devices, and more.

According to AP, it took nine people 17 days to pack up the collection. Melton was formally the largest McDonald’s franchise owner in the country. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1966, writes AP, and went to Vietnam during the war. He started placing ads around the world seeking spy articles. The AP writes that his interest in the spy world was a hobby that “sort of got out of control.”

But he considers his biggest coup to be the ice that killed Trotsky because he looked for it the longest. The assassin, Ramon Mercader, was a communist and suspected agent of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. He was jailed for several years in Mexico. Melton said he made three trips to Mexico City to prove it was the right ax.

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