J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972)
John Edgar Hoover takes a degree in law and joins the American Justice Department in 1917. After working as an assistant for the Attorney General, in 1924 he is named director of the Bureau of Investigation, which becomes the FBI in 1935. Initially Hoover distinguishes himself in the fight against organized crime. In 1936 the FBI is entrusted with tasks relating to domestic security and becomes more of an anti-espionage institution. After World War II Hoover ultimately turns it into a political instrument that primarily targets left-wing political groups. Material is collected on politically active intellectuals, including Einstein. In some cases, surveillance is followed by direct intimidation. Under John F. Kennedy’s presidency, Hoover’s influence begins to wane. At the time of his death and up until today, his methods and his political legacy are already highly controversial.