Traitors and Spies: A Chronology

Here are some of the spies and traitors of my lifetime. There were many more, but these are the ones I remember. Some spied and betrayed for money, some for the challenge or the romance of the game, but most did it for a grand illusion. In the end a few were remorseful, but most stayed defiant. None felt sufficiently appreciated by their masters or their contemporaries. None claimed or seemed to be happy.


Part 1: School for Spies (1931 to 1939)

1931 Harold “Kim” Philby meets Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean at Trinity College, Cambridge. Philby joins CUSS (Cambridge University Socialist Society). Burgess is a member of The Apostles, a club favoured by many communists and homosexuals. Maclean and Philby are soon joined by a close friend, James Klugmann, who remains openly pro-Soviet throughout his life.


1932 Klaus Fuchs, a nineteen-year-old student, joins the German Communist Party.


1933 The American communist Whittaker Chambers goes to Moscow for espionage training.

In Shanghai, the legendary Soviet spy Richard Sorge meets a young German-Jewish communist named Ruth Kuczynski (later known as “Sonia”) and enlists her for the GRU (Soviet military intelligence). Ruth becomes a friend of Sorge’s assistant and (probably) mistress, a communist journalist named Agnes Smedley. Smedley is also acquainted with a young English journalist and tobacco company clerk named Roger Hollis. (Twenty-five years later Hollis becomes the head of MI5.) Hollis may meet Sonia in Smedley’s circles in China, along with a German Comintern official, Arthur Ewert.

Sonia goes to Moscow to attend a six-month training school for spies.


1934 Philby goes to Vienna. He marries an Austrian-Jewish girl named Alice Friedmann (“Lizi”), a communist. In Vienna Philby is recruited for the Soviets by the Hungarian agents Theodor Maly and Gabor Peter (who later becomes Hungary’s chief of AVO, the communist State Security Police).

Anthony Blunt, a Fellow at Trinity College (later code-named “Johnson”) and his lover Guy Burgess (“Hicks”) are recruited by the Soviets. Philby (“Stanley”) is said to play a part in Blunt’s recruitment. Blunt in turn recruits Michael Straight, Leo Long and others.


1935 Donald Maclean (“Homer”) is recruited by Burgess and Blunt, on instructions from the Soviets via Philby. (These Cambridge spies are a rare instance of agents knowing one another.) Maclean joins the British Foreign Office as Third Secretary.


1936 GRU officer Walter Krivitsky (Schmeka Ginsburg) is transferred to the KGB (then called NKVD) and becomes rezident (station chief) in The Hague, co-ordinating Soviet intelligence in Western Europe.

Philby, by then a fully-fledged Soviet agent, pays several visits to Germany pretending to be a Nazi sympathiser.

Guy Burgess, on Soviet instructions, joins the BBC.

John Cairncross, an open communist at Cambridge, is recruited through James Klugmann. He “quits” the Communist Party, sits for a Foreign Office examination, and soon joins the same department as Maclean.

An American Comintern activist, Gregory Kheifetz, meets and develops a young Italian-Jewish student named Bruno Pontecorvo in Rome. On his suggestion Pontecorvo establishes contact with the famous French scientist (and prominent communist) Frédéric Joliot-Curie. Eventually Pontecorvo, code-named “Mlad”, will be the Soviet’s conduit to the atomic secrets of Enrico Fermi.


1937 Chambers, disillusioned, quits the Communist Party and his spy assignment.

Philby goes to Spain, ostensibly as a correspondent for the London Times. He separates from his too obviously communist wife Lizi, who goes to live in Paris (but will spend the war years in Britain working as a Soviet agent, still married to, but separated from, Philby).


1938 Krivitsky’s best friend, another Jewish KGB agent, is killed in one of Stalin’s purges. Krivitsky defects, initially to the French, and gives clues about KGB moles. If followed up, Krivitsky’s clues could lead to Maclean (“a Scotsman of good birth”) and Philby (“a newsman in Spain”). The clues aren’t followed up, and both Maclean and Philby end up joining British intelligence. Maclean is not exposed for another thirteen years, while Philby is not exposed, at least not fully, for another twenty-five.

In Spain the KGB recruits the American Morris Cohen, who later marries Lona Cohen. She is to become a top Soviet courier. Among other things, she will carry in a box of paper tissues the first detailed description and drawings of the atomic bomb, given to her by Klaus Fuchs.

Roger Hollis is taken on by MI5.


1939 Blunt’s friend Guy Liddell eases Blunt into MI5 at the start of the war (on behalf of the public school network rather than the Soviet spy network—though some other sources also name Tomas (Tom) Harris as Blunt’s mentor). As for Guy Burgess, he finds a place for himself in MI6, and manages to bring in Philby.

The FBI gives sanctuary to Krivitsky in America where he meets Chambers. They agree to expose Soviet agents in the USA and Britain. Chambers goes as far as to approach Assistant Secretary of State Adolph A. Berle, but is reluctant to reveal any names. Roosevelt’s White House finds the whole matter too vague and ignores Chambers.

Igor Gouzenko, aged twenty, is accepted to study at the Kuibishev Institute of Military Engineering in Moscow.

Ribbentrop and Molotov sign the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact. Germany invades Poland; the Second World War begins.


Part 2: The Big Bang (1940 to 1945)

1940 Roger Hollis becomes Acting Head of MI5’s “F” division, overseeing pro-Soviet communist activities in the UK.

Gouzenko, with the rank of lieutenant, trains as a cipher clerk. One of his colleagues, a Lieutenant Panchenko, is executed for mistakenly throwing a coded telegraph from Molotov into the garbage.

Anthony Blunt joins the temporary (wartime) staff of MI5. So does Guy Burgess. Leo Long is in MI4 (a more technical section, involved in logistics evaluation).

Donald Maclean marries an American, Melinda Marling.

Pontecorvo, by then a nuclear physicist living in France with his Swedish-born wife, finds refuge in the USA shortly before the Germans reach Paris.

The Soviets invade Finland.

France falls; the Battle of Britain begins.


1941 Krivitsky in Britain exposes two code clerks (Captain John Herbert King and Tyler Kent) but has only imprecise clues to give about moles in high places in the USA and Britain. (Volumes of his documents are stored by the French in a barge on the Seine, but documents are lost when the bottom of the barge inexplicably rots away.) Despondent about the failure of British and US authorities to follow up his leads, Krivitsky commits suicide in Washington or, as some claim, is killed there by the Soviets.

In the same year Ruth “Sonia” Kuczynski, who had been working in Switzerland in a spy-ring under the code-name “Lucy”, is sent by the GRU to establish the British branch of “Rote Capelle” (the famous Soviet spy-ring “Red Orchestra”). She is to recruit spies and send intelligence to Moscow through dead-letter boxes as well as radio transmissions. Her assignment coincides with MI5’s move from London to Blenheim Palace, near Oxford.

Sonia also settles near Oxford, just a few miles from Blenheim Palace, where Hollis works, and the town of Oxford, where he lives. During this time Sonia and her brother Jurgen meet and enlist a fellow German refugee, the scientist Klaus Fuchs (later code-named “Charles”) who is working for the British on something named “Tube Alloys Project”. It is, in fact, the joint US-British effort to develop the atomic bomb.

Japan attacks Pearl Harbor; Germany invades the Soviet Union.


1942 The GRU recruits Cambridge-educated British scientist Allan Nunn May, who is soon assigned to the British side of the “Manhattan” (atomic bomb) project.

Sonia moves to Oxford itself, where she now lives less than a mile from Hollis’s residence.

Gouzenko, aged twenty-three, is assigned to GRU headquarters in Moscow. He marries his teenage sweetheart, Svetlana.

Chambers goes to the FBI, but still reveals no names.

The Allies institute a ban on decoding Soviet traffic (presumably for the duration). Soviet radio messages are copied and stored, but not decoded or analysed.


1943 The Soviets, through the web of KGB spymaster Pavel Sudoplatov (Department S), start penetration operations against Los Alamos and other American labs. They target, in particular, the scientists Robert Oppenheimer (code-named “Star”), Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi (“Editor”). Influenced by ideals of “scientific internationalism”, these scientists, along with the physicist Niels Bohr, begin to act as sources or agents of influence for the Soviets, whether unwittingly or, as in the case of Oppenheimer, wittingly.

On Oppenheimer’s suggestion, the Americans invite Fuchs to work on the “Manhattan” project in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Bruno Pontecorvo (“Mlad”) joins the British atomic team in Canada at the Chalk River nuclear research project.

Gouzenko is given a “legend” (false identity) and is posted as a cipher clerk to Ottawa. He goes by air; his wife Svetlana follows him by ship after the birth of their first child.

At Roosevelt’s request to Stalin, Moscow announces the dissolution of the Comintern.


1944 Blunt is named MI5’s liaison with Allied High Command, while Philby is named to head Section IX (Soviet counter-intelligence) of MI6. Donald Maclean is appointed First Secretary of the British embassy in Washington.

Meanwhile Fuchs transmits to the Soviets key secrets of the atom bomb (specifically the implosion design and data on U-235). Although Fuchs belongs to Sonia’s GRU spy-ring in Britain, in their eagerness for Fuchs’s material the Soviets transfer him to their KGB controller in the USA, Anatoli Yakovlev. The Soviets use their US couriers, including Lona Cohen as well as a communist named Harry Gold, to contact Fuchs.

Gouzenko and his family are recalled to Moscow.


1945 The Second World War ends with atomic bombs exploding over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Gouzenko is still in Ottawa because his masters extended his tour of duty by a year, but is now recalled to Moscow again. A month later he defects with his two-year-old son and pregnant wife. (At first Canada is at a loss about what to do with a defector from a wartime ally, and very nearly sends Gouzenko back.)

In the USA a disillusioned communist, Elizabeth Bentley, tells the FBI about a GRU technology theft spy-ring operating in the USA, and gives the name of one contact as “Julius”.

The Cold War begins. KGB officer Konstantin Volkov attempts to defect in Turkey, but the information ends up on Philby’s desk. The Soviets kidnap and kill Volkov.

The Soviets are having problems with their first nuclear reactor. The KGB sends the scientist Yakov Peytrovich Terletsky to Denmark to meet Niels Bohr and ask for some tips. The meeting is facilitated by the Danish fellow traveller, writer Martin Andersen Nexø. (Bohr probably recognises the purpose and likely result of this “scientific exchange”.)

The Soviets permit Blunt to leave MI5 and devote himself to his art work, but Blunt stays in touch with his former colleagues in intelligence as well as with the KGB.

President Roosevelt dies.

Gouzenko’s second child is born in a town near their Royal Canadian Mounted Police hideout, “Camp X”.


Part 3: Handwriting on the Wall (1946 to 1953)

1946 The Kellock-Taschereau Commission in Canada begins its inquiries into the Gouzenko affair. The evidence reveals a joint GRU/KGB operation in Canada, code-named “Candy”, seeking information on the atomic bomb.

The Cold War goes public.

Canadian members of the spy-ring include a Member of Parliament, Fred Rose, and the organising secretary of the Communist Party of Canada, Sam Carr. Another eighteen men and women are civilian functionaries, military officers and scientists working variously for the National Research Council, the Department of Munitions and Supply, External Affairs, the RCAF, the RCN, the Wartime Information Board and the British High Commission. Ten are eventually convicted in Canada and given sentences ranging from six years (Fred Rose and Sam Carr) down to a $500 fine (John Soboloff, a Toronto medical doctor). Ten are acquitted.

Altogether, Gouzenko’s evidence and documents implicate some twenty-one Canadians and Britons, including “Alex” (Allan Nunn May) and a certain “Elli” whose identity is unknown to this day. The young cipher clerk’s information also contains clues, though no solid evidence, about the US atomic spies and Alger Hiss. In addition, Gouzenko describes a graveyard “dubok” in England, a secret hiding place for messages, later found to bear a striking resemblance to St Sepulchre’s cemetery about a mile from Sonia’s and Hollis’s homes in Oxford.

The man sent by MI5 from Britain to debrief Gouzenko is (or appears to be) Roger Hollis. Normally MI6 handles both intelligence and counter-intelligence abroad, and the initial interview is conducted for the British by an MI6 officer named Peter Dwyer, but in this instance, after Dwyer puts in his report, MI6 chief Sir Stewart Menzies asks Philby to go to Ottawa himself. Philby pleads other business and suggests Hollis rather than another MI6 officer for the Ottawa trip.

Later that year Allan Nunn May is tried, convicted and sentenced in Britain to ten years in prison.

Klaus Fuchs returns to England to take up a post at Harwell, Britain’s new nuclear research establishment. Attention is called to Fuchs for the first time because a Canadian suspect named Israel Halperin on Gouzenko’s list has Fuchs’s address in his notebook. This information is passed to MI5. They put Fuchs under surveillance, but he does nothing suspicious and after a few months the surveillance is dropped.

Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee appoints Sir Percy Sillitoe, former Chief Constable, to head MI5. This outside appointment, probably made by Attlee because insiders in the intelligence establishment are thought to have Tory leanings, results in mini-class-warfare inside MI5. Sillitoe is isolated from senior officers such as Guy Liddell (who was in line for the promotion), Dick White, Roger Hollis and others.

Philby asks his MI6 chief for leave to go to France to divorce his estranged wife Lizi, in order to marry Aileen Furse, with whom he has been cohabiting and produced several children. Though Lizi is known to MI5 as a Soviet agent, Philby’s marriage is viewed as a youthful mistake and nothing further is said about it by either branch of the service. The divorce goes through quickly and quietly, and Philby marries Furse in September 1946.

Georges Paques, a secret communist and eventually French attaché to NATO, is recruited by the KGB. (He becomes a member of the “Sapphire” spy-ring that is to inspire the Leon Uris book and Alfred Hitchcock movie Topaz.)

The first Soviet nuclear reactor becomes operational.


1947 Alexander Foote, a British spy originally recruited by Sonia for the GRU in Switzerland, becomes disillusioned with the Soviets and gives information to MI5 about her. MI5 questions Sonia (Ruth Kuczynski) and her English husband Len Beurton, but conclude that this innocuous Jewish mother and housewife was at worst a minor collaborator with the Soviets until the Stalin-Hitler pact, so they do nothing further about her. (What happens next is still in doubt. The official story is that Sonia and her husband fled Britain shortly after this interview, but this is probably disinformation. There is evidence that Sonia continued to live in Britain until 1950. The difference is crucial in that it points to Sonia possibly being shielded by a highly-placed mole in British intelligence.)

Fuchs is confirmed in his position at Harwell after being cleared as only “a slight risk” by MI5.

Donald Maclean is appointed Joint Secretary of the Western Allies’ Combined Policy Committee on atomic energy development (giving him unescorted access to all secret installations).

Gouzenko and his wife buy a house in Ontario. Their third child is born.


1948 George Blake (born Behar) is angered at the British establishment because of a frustrated love affair with Iris Peake, later Lady-in-Waiting to the Queen. Blake is a Jew, and Peake’s family disapproves of the relationship. At this point Blake has already been recruited by his uncle, the Dutch communist Henri Curiel. Thirsting for revenge against the ruling circles of Britain, Blake finds employment with MI6.

Whittaker Chambers finally testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee and reveals the name of Alger Hiss, a senior figure in the US foreign policy establishment. Chambers claims that Hiss is a Soviet agent who gave him sensitive documents to photograph and pass on to Moscow. When Chambers produces the microfilms, Hiss (who at first denies even knowing Chambers) is eventually convicted of perjury.

Donald Maclean is posted to Cairo as Embassy Counsellor.

Roger Hollis becomes Director of C Branch (Protective Security) of MI5.

Fuchs, working at Harwell, manages to convey information about the triggering mechanism of the H-bomb to his masters (according to what he eventually tells a cell-mate named Hume in prison).

Gouzenko publishes his first book (This Was My Choice) in Canada.


1949 Philby becomes Washington station chief for MI6.

Alexander Foote publishes his confessions, Handbook for Spies, in Britain. (The book is said to be written in Foote’s name by his MI5 case officer, Courtenay Young.)

A CIA cryptanalysis project (variously code-named “Bride”, “Drug” and “Venona”) laboriously scans Soviet traffic recorded during the war and finds evidence of an atomic spy-ring. The description of one spy fits Klaus Fuchs (code-name “Rest”). The other description fits a man-and-wife team with a relative working on the “Manhattan” project, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, works as a technician at Los Alamos.

Bruno Pontecorvo gets transferred to Harwell. (The FBI search his home in the USA while he is working at Chalk River in Canada and find some documents indicating communist affiliations, but as it happens they pass the information to the British via none other than Philby, MI6’s new Washington station chief.)

Agnes Smedley, the journalist and old mentor of Soviet recruits and agents in Shanghai, visits Britain on her way back to China, but she falls ill and dies in Oxford at fifty-eight.

The Soviets explode their first atomic bomb.


1950 MI5 interviews Fuchs. He soon confesses, and picks out a photograph of Harry Gold as one of his couriers. This, coupled with earlier information from Gouzenko and Elizabeth Bentley, leads the FBI to Gold, Greenglass, the Rosenbergs and the atomic spy-ring in the USA. The Rosenbergs are arrested and charged.

Ruth “Sonia” Kuczynski, along with her husband and three children, disappears from England and turns up later in East Berlin. (Apparently Fuchs does not implicate Sonia to MI5 until he learns in prison that she’s safely out of the country.)

Pontecorvo is vetted and cleared by MI5, but decides to leave Harwell and accept a post at Liverpool University instead, severing his connection with secret work. A short time later, while on a European holiday with his family, he defects and turns up in Moscow.

Hugh Hambleton, a young Canadian economist, is recruited for the KGB in Ottawa by Soviet “cultural attaché” Victor Bourdine.

The Korean War begins. So does the McCarthy period, with a speech by Senator Joseph McCarthy in Wheeling, West Virginia.


1951 The CIA’s “Venona” decrypts now finger “Homer” (Donald Maclean). Philby alerts the KGB. Spymaster Yuri Modin assigns Guy Burgess to exfiltrate Maclean from England to Moscow, but Burgess either panics and flees with Maclean or, as some sources think, is compelled to defect by his Soviet controllers. Incredibly, Blunt accompanies the MI5 agents searching Burgess’s apartment and removes incriminating papers pertaining to Philby.

Philby, known for his association with Burgess, is recalled to Britain under suspicion. He soon leaves the Secret Service with a small pension (although he retains his association with friends and former colleagues in MI6 while he continues to work as a journalist).

Fuchs is tried, convicted and sentenced to fourteen years in prison.


1952 GRU Colonel Pyotr Popov defects in Vienna by throwing a note into the car of an American diplomat, and becomes a CIA mole.

On the request of MI5’s director of counter-espionage, Dick White, Gouzenko provides a detailed memo to RCMP Superintendent George McClellan about his information concerning the MI5 spy “Elli”. The memo produces no results.

In Canada RCMP officer Terry Guernsey begins to compile a file code-named “Featherbed” listing ex-communists who later entered government service. Eventually this file is to become a mole-hunt operation under the same code-name.

On the basis of some notes found in Burgess’s apartment after his escape, John Cairncross, now a Treasury official, is interviewed by MI5. Believing him to be just an insignificant sympathiser-informer for the Soviets during the early war years, MI5 allows Cairncross to resign and go abroad.

Bruno Pontecorvo becomes a Soviet citizen.

In the USA, McCarthysm waxes.


1953 Stalin dies. Beria is executed; the post-Stalin era begins.

ASIO begins to “turn” KGB resident Afansy M. Shorokhov (“Vladimir Petrov”) in Canberra.

Meanwhile the KGB recruits John Vassall, a homosexual clerk in the British Admiralty, by setting him up with a “raven” in Moscow.

In the USA, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed, but several more important members of the atomic spy-ring make deals or escape.

Maclean’s wife Melinda, pregnant at the time of her husband’s defection, disappears from Switzerland where she had been living with her three children, and joins her husband in Moscow. (Later she is to leave Maclean and move in with Philby.)

Dick White replaces Sir Percy Sillitoe as head of MI5. White appoints Roger Hollis as his deputy.

The Soviets put down the East Berlin uprising by force.

The Korean War ends.


Part 4: Skeletons in the Closet (1954 to 1963)

1954 In Australia, Shorokhov and his wife Evdokia defect (though the KGB nearly manages to take Evdokia back; she is already aboard a plane for Moscow when she is rescued with much ballyhoo in Darwin). Shorokhov’s debriefing yields further clues about Philby. Shorokhov and Evdokia settle in Melbourne as “Mr and Mrs Sven Allyson” and lead a quiet suburban life.

Leslie James “Jim” Bennett, a Welshman and former GCHQ (British signals intelligence) officer, emigrates to Canada and joins the security and intelligence section of the RCMP. (Bennett’s innovative ideas include the “Movement Analysis” and “Vehicle Sighting Program”, both soon adopted by British intelligence.) Eventually Bennett rises to become the head of the Soviet desk of the RCMP.

James Watkins, a homosexual career diplomat, is appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Moscow.

In the USA, McCarthysm wanes.

The Gouzenkos’ fourth child is born.


1955 Gouzenko wins the Governor-General’s Award for Literature in Canada for Fall of a Titan.

Blake wins a vital posting for MI6 in Berlin, where he manages to betray the MI6-CIA communication tunnel to the KGB.

A Canadian counter-espionage operation (code-named “Keystone”) is foiled by a leak.

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan states in the House of Commons that there is no evidence that Kim Philby ever betrayed the interests of Britain.

The Gouzenkos’ fifth child is born.


1956 Blunt, by then Surveyor and Keeper of the Royal Pictures, is knighted by the Queen (possibly as a reward for helping to retrieve from Germany after the war some embarrassing letters written by the Duke of Windsor).

Philby leaves England and goes to Beirut as a correspondent for the Observer.

Popov is assigned to Berlin where he is fingered by Blake. The KGB recalls Popov and attempts to “turn” him.

The KGB recruits Canadian ambassador John Watkins by a “honey trap” operation in Moscow (although they probably get no benefit from him).

Hugh Hambleton begins his work at NATO headquarters in Paris, where he continues to spy for the Soviets for the next four years.

Khrushchev reveals Stalin’s crimes in his secret speech at the 20th Party Congress.

The Soviets crush the Hungarian uprising.

Roger Hollis becomes Director-General of MI5.


1957 The Soviets launch Sputnik.

A Canadian counter-espionage operation (code-named “Dew Worm”) is foiled by a leak.

Herbert Norman, Canada’s ambassador to Egypt, is recalled to Ottawa for “discussions” under suspicion that he may be a Soviet agent. Norman commits suicide by jumping off the roof of his apartment building in Cairo.

The Gouzenkos’ sixth child is born.


1958 Niels Bohr visits Moscow University to help celebrate Physicists’ Day. (According to Sudoplatov’s memoirs, during the ceremonies Bohr affects not to recognise Terletsky.)

A man, who later turns out to be UB (Polish intelligence) agent Mikhail Goleniewski, begins writing German-language letters to the US embassy in Berne, containing valuable information on Soviet spies.


1959 KGB fails to “turn” Popov; he is executed.

Klaus Fuchs, released from prison, goes to East Germany.

As a result of further “Venona” decryptions, MI5 finally deduces that the innocuous-seeming German housewife Ruth Kuczynski must have been “Sonia”.

Goleniewski’s information yields clues eventually leading to the discovery of the “Navy spy-ring” of naval clerk Harry Houghton and his mistress Ethel Gee.

A Canadian counter-espionage operation (code-named “Apple Cider”) is foiled by a leak.


1960 GRU Colonel Oleg Penkovsky defects in Moscow by handing a note to US tourists, and becomes a mole for MI6. His handlers in Russia are MI6 agents Roderick and Janet Chisholm.

The “Navy spy-ring” operation in Britain leads to a spymaster posing as a Canadian businessman, Gordon Lonsdale. He runs, among others, Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee. In reality Lonsdale is a Soviet illegal, named Konon Molody. His arrest leads to his confederates, the booksellers Peter and Helen Kroger, who turn out to be none other than Morris and Lona Cohen. (Lona was the courier for Klaus Fuchs during the war who carried the first drawing of the atom bomb in her Kleenex box from Los Alamos to New York.)

Roger Hollis is knighted.


1961 A Sino-Soviet split emerges.

Mikhail Goleniewski (code-named “Lavinia”) physically defects to the CIA in West Berlin and blows Blake’s cover. Blake’s confessions to MI5 give more clues about “Stanley” (Philby). MI5 also learns but fails to absorb that Blake had earlier fingered Roderick and Janet Chisholm to the KGB.

Later that year Major Anatoli Golitsin, KGB rezident in Helsinki, defects to the CIA with his wife and child. (Eventually Golitsin is to exercise tremendous influence in the Western intelligence community.) He all but identifies Philby as a KGB mole. Over the next two years Philby, under Soviet orders, submits to a series of interrogations by MI5, giving away as little as he can.

President Eisenhower breaks off diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro. After the election of President Kennedy, Cuban exiles try to overthrow Castro in the Bay of Pigs.

Khrushchev erects the Berlin Wall.

President Kennedy sends military advisers to South-East Asia, starting the full-scale involvement of the USA in the Vietnam War.

Igor and Svetlana Gouzenko produce their seventh and eighth children, twins.

Whittaker Chambers dies at sixty.


1962 While Oleg Penkovsky’s revelations are helping President Kennedy to face down Khrushchev in the Cuban missile crisis, Penkovsky is caught by the KGB partly as a result of information about the Chisholms supplied by the traitor Blake.

The RCMP get a crack at Golitsin, but misinterpret the defector’s clues about a homosexual Canadian diplomat enlisted by the KGB (John Watkins), and for two years mistakenly focus their investigation on David Johnson, Canada’s ambassador to the Soviet Union between 1956 and 1960, who also happens to be a homosexual.


1963 When Golitsin’s debriefing is completed, the clues yield (among others) John Vassall, John Watkins, Georges Paques and Kim Philby.

Philby disappears from Beirut and turns up in Moscow.

In the same year Michael Straight tells the FBI about having been recruited by Anthony Blunt at Cambridge. (Straight was a speechwriter for President Roosevelt while giving information to the Soviets during the war.) Blunt confesses to MI5 in exchange for immunity, and confirms Cairncross as another agent (possibly the “fifth man”). Blunt also betrays KGB mole Leo Long, who soon confesses under a similar deal.

Another Canadian counter-espionage operation (code-named “Moby Dick”) is foiled by a leak.

Meanwhile Penkovsky is tried and executed.

Burgess, an alcoholic, dies in Moscow at fifty-two.

President Kennedy is assassinated, probably by Lee Harvey Oswald.


Part 5: The Great Mole Hunt (1964 to 1973)

1964 Soviets set up “Line X” (industrial espionage unit) involving a KGB officer named Vladimir I. Vetrov.

Meanwhile Golitsin’s theories of deep KGB penetration into British and US intelligence lead to a ten-year mole hunt in both countries, fuelled by CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton’s support for Golitsin’s ideas (including the notion that the Sino-Soviet split is a KGB deception operation). Yuri Nosenko, another KGB defector, is illegally detained for three years because Golitsin convinces Angleton that Nosenko, who says there is no mole inside the CIA and that the KGB never had any operational interest in Lee Harvey Oswald while he lived in the Soviet Union, is spreading Soviet disinformation (which may or may not be true).

It is not until Nosenko and another defector named Yuri Krotkov refocus the RCMP’s investigation that Golitsin’s initial clues lead to John Watkins, David Johnson’s successor in Moscow. Watkins, sixty-two, by then retired and living in Paris, is interrogated by Bennett and another RCMP officer. The lengthy series of debriefings (conducted first in Paris, then in London and finally in Montreal) lead the RCMP to conclude that Watkins, groomed to be an agent of influence, never actually provided any benefit to the Soviets, and was guilty only of failing to reveal the KGB’s attempt to blackmail him. Near the end of the last debriefing session Watkins dies of a heart attack.

MI5 interviews Cairncross in Rome where, immune from prosecution, he makes a confession, also implicating Klugmann. He describes his own activities for the Soviets while at the Treasury and at MI6 during the war, where he passed on information relating to “Ultra” (the famous British code-breaking operation at Bletchley against the Germans’ “Enigma”).

Khrushchev is deposed; the Brezhnev era begins.


1965 The Soviets honour Kim Philby for his achievements by awarding him the Order of the Red Banner.


1966 Blake, serving a forty-two-year sentence, escapes from jail with the help of the IRA’s Sean Bourke and is smuggled to the Soviet Union.


1968 The “Prague Spring” is put down by the Soviets.

Kim Philby’s memoirs (My Silent War) are published in Britain with a foreword by Graham Greene.


1969 Border incidents in the Far East; Soviet and Chinese troops trade fire.

In East Berlin the Soviets award Sonia her second Order of the Red Banner for her spy work in Britain (her first decoration was kept secret).


1970 The great mole-hunt (code-named “Fluency” in Britain and “Featherbed” in Canada) degrades Western intelligence during the early 1970s.

Sir Roger Hollis, by now retired at sixty-four, is investigated and questioned by MI5. No evidence is found to implicate him as a Soviet agent (a conclusion many intelligence analysts continue to dispute).


1972 Leslie “Jim” Bennett, head of the RCMP’s Soviet desk, is forced to retire under suspicion, a casualty of the great mole-hunt. Bennett is blamed for the various Canadian counter-espionage operations that went sour in the 1950s and 1960s. After retirement he settles in Australia.

Michael Henley, newly appointed head of MI5, reactivates the investigation into the Hollis affair. Gouzenko is interviewed again by an MI5 agent named Stuart, who shows Gouzenko a report of his debriefing by MI5 after his defection. The report is patently false, a “legend”, attributing statements to Gouzenko that he never made. This persuades Gouzenko (and others, possibly including MI5’s Peter Wright) that the KGB’s super-mole must be the agent who prepared the report, presumably the former head of MI5, Hollis, who interviewed Gouzenko in 1946.


Part 6: Secrets Buried (1973 to 1984)

1973 The Paris peace accords are signed by the USA and North Vietnam.

Gouzenko is interviewed by MI5 once again. This time he is asked to pick out the agent who interrogated him from six photographs. Gouzenko picks two as possibly being the man who interviewed him twenty-seven years earlier, but the very question indicates that MI5’s records of the initial interview—the proof that the interviewer was Hollis—may have disappeared from MI5’s files.

In Britain Sir Roger Hollis, sixty-eight, suffers a stroke and dies.


1974 James Angleton is fired from the CIA, ending the great mole-hunt which wreaked havoc with both the CIA and British intelligence services for ten years. Golitsin’s influence in the intelligence community fades.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is exiled from the Soviet Union.


1977 Ruth “Sonia” Kuczynski publishes her memoirs in East Germany. The book reveals at least some of her true activities, and she is again publicly honoured by Soviet intelligence for her efforts.


1979 Disgruntled MI5 officers leak the 1963 deal with Blunt, compelling Margaret Thatcher to admit it. Scandal; Blunt is disgraced, shorn of his knighthood.

A joint FBI-RCMP operation code-named “Red Pepper” leads to Hugh Hambleton. He is interrogated in Canada and confesses to having assisted the Soviets, but claims not to have harmed Canadian interests. In the next few years he publicly discusses some of his espionage activities, but for some reason is never prosecuted in Canada (which greatly annoys the FBI).


1980 DST (French intelligence) turns Colonel Vetrov, who becomes a mole and reveals technology theft operations.


1981 Following the publication of a book (Their Trade is Treachery by intelligence analyst Chapman Pincher), Margaret Thatcher denies again in parliament that the late Sir Roger Hollis was a Soviet mole.

Leo Long’s involvement as a Soviet agent is publicly exposed for the first time. Though immune from prosecution, Long apologises for his actions in a television broadcast.


1982 In a tragi-comedy of errors, Vetrov stabs and kills a KGB officer and wounds his own secretary-lover in a Moscow park. While he is in jail for murder, the KGB starts investigating him as a possible traitor and Vetrov gives himself away.

On a trip to England (which he undertakes against RCMP advice) Hugh Hambleton is finally arrested. He is subsequently tried, convicted and sentenced in Britain to ten years for espionage.

Gouzenko, by now a blind diabetic, dies of heart failure in Canada at sixty-three.


Part 7: Secrets Declassified (1983 to 1996)

1983 Vetrov confesses and is executed.

Maclean, sixty-nine, dies of cancer in Moscow. Blunt, seventy-five, dies in England.


1985 Mikhail Gorbachev assumes the leadership of the Soviet Union.


1987 Peter Wright, assistant director of MI5, retires and publishes his memoirs, Spycatcher, in Australia. The book reiterates Wright’s belief that Sir Roger Hollis was a Soviet agent. The British government tries but fails to block the book’s publication.


1988 Philby, seventy-six, dies of natural causes in Moscow. Klaus Fuchs, seventy-five, dies in East Germany.

Melinda Marling quietly returns to America.


1990 Yuri Modin, KGB spymaster for the “Cambridge Five”, gives a series of television interviews in Moscow about his career to Western journalists.

Golitsin, living in the USA under an assumed name, claims that the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe is part of a long-standing Soviet deception plot.

George Blake is interviewed on Soviet television, where he boasts of betraying hundreds of CIA and MI6 agents.


1991 The Soviet Union collapses.

Shorokhov (“Petrov”, “Allyson”), dies of natural causes in Australia at eighty-four. Evdokia (“Mrs Allyson”) survives him and passes away in 2002.


1993 Russian nuclear scientists admit that the first Soviet atom bomb was based largely on material supplied by Klaus Fuchs.


1995 The Gouzenko family, Svetlana, eight children and sixteen grandchildren, celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their defection in Canada and receive congratulatory letters from Anatoly Shcharansky, William F. Buckley, Conrad Black (as Lord Black of Crossharbour then was) and Lady Margaret Thatcher. Since most of the Canadian guests don’t know the real identity of their long-time neighbour, “the nice Russian lady”, I collect the letters first, take them to the party, and hand them to Mrs Gouzenko in a private room. The one from Lady Thatcher, hand-delivered by a friend, contains an empty packet of artificial sweetener. It is next to the handwritten note Lady Thatcher put in the envelope herself. She was on a diet at the time.

History is made of such footnotes. Here’s another: a few years later I’m standing by Svetlana Gouzenko’s deathbed. She’s feeble but fully conscious, succumbing with serene dignity to the final stages of pancreatic cancer. Her eldest daughter, Evy Wilson, is aiming a hand-held camera at her mother to record a last revelation the defecting GRU cipher-clerk’s widow has for the West. I’m about to hear for the first time what Svetlana evidently believes to have been the Soviet Union’s most closely guarded secret. When the Georgian cobbler Vissarion Dzugashvili married his washer­woman wife, she was already pregnant. She had worked for some rich people and these things happen. Born in the village of Gori, Georgia, in 1879 as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili, the evil dictator later known to the world as Joseph Stalin, was half Jewish. Need one say more?

1996 A British court rules that Blake can receive a £90,000 advance for his book No Other Choice from the publisher Jonathan Cape. The ruling demonstrates that values may stagnate but prices are going up. A similar endeavour by a man named J. Iscariot barely fetched thirty pieces of silver 2000 years ago.

George Jonas was born in Hungary in 1935 and migrated to Canada in 1956. He is a journalist who has also written novels, plays and poetry. He has a website at www.georgejonas.ca.


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