THE TERRIBLE SECRET Part VIII
Review by Joseph T Major of
THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB
by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin (Basic Books; 1999; ISBN 0-465-00310-9; $32.50)
In any event, I do not despair in the least of ultimate triumph. I repeat with more intense conviction: the truth is on the march and nothing will stop it! It is only today that this affair has begun, since it is only now that sides have definitely been taken; on the one hand, the culprits who want no light at all on this business; on the other, lovers of justice who would lay down their lives for it. I have said elsewhere and I say again, when the truth is buried underground, it grows, it chokes, it gathers such an explosive force that on the day when it bursts out, it blows everything up with it. We shall soon see whether we have not laid the mines for a most far-reaching disaster of the near future.
Émile Zola, J'Accuse!
In 1998, in woods near the city of Berne, Swiss security forces exploded a bomb, using a water cannon. It happened to be the security device for a buried Soviet arms cache, intended for the use of Special Tasks units. The location of this cache had been taken from the KGB archives. Not, however, with their consent, or even knowledge.
In 1992, Colonel of State Security (ret.) Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin made a visit to an outlying outpost of the late Evil Empire, and made contact there with emissaries of the Main Ally of the Main Adversary. (The SIS, that is.) This trip was the climax to twenty years of diligent work. In 1972, having been deeply influenced by the deeds and words of the dissidents, Mitrokhin decided to dissent in his own way.
Mitrokhin worked in the KGB Archives, supervising the reports of the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence). What he did by way of dissent was to start taking notes, and hiding them in and around his house. By his retirement in 1984, he had two trunks and two cases full of them. (It seems that KGB internal security was haphazard; after a few months, Mitrokhin quit even bothering to hide his notes.)
After his retirement, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mitrokhin decided that he needed a safer place in which to collate his archives. Reports indicate that he approached the CIA first, but they were uninterested. (Perhaps they thought the East German HVA Archives were enough?) The SIS, now, they were interested in finding out how Kim Philby almost drank himself to death . . .
Professor Christopher Andrew (at, ironically, Cambridge), author of Her Majesty's Secret Service and co-author (with previous defector Oleg Gordievsky) of KGB: The Inside Story, Comrade Kryuchkov's Instructions/Instructions from the Centre, and More Instructions from the Centre, recounts here this greatest and most profound opening of the archives that were to be preserved forever.
Already this news has unleashed bombshells on the world. The one item that has been most noteworthy has been the story of Agent HOLA, Melita Norwood, the longest-run British agent. Norwood began by passing on information about the wartime atom bomb project; her last contact was in 1975. She had been, and according to recent reports, still is, a Communist true believer.
Heretofore information from the KGB archives has been, well, slanted. The Mitrokhin Archive is a sampling of raw data, unculled, unweeded, if unanalyzed.
The principal narrative begins with an overview of the early days of the Cheka and OGPU, revealing some interesting items. Andrew discusses the early Cheka disinformation operations, revealing what really happened to Sidney Reilly (he was shot and his body laid out in the Lubyanka sickbay) and how deluded the anti-Soviet resistance had been. (Whether, as he says (hopes?), "two or three divisions of Western troops" could have overthrown the Bolsheviks in 1919 [p. 27] is another matter.)
The greatest asset to Soviet intelligence was the presence of dedicated true believers throughout the world. Not surprisingly, Andrew begins by describing the recruitment of the Cambridge spies, the "Magnificent Five", and the other spies in the British system.
As the true believers defended the system abroad, at home it was being disrupted. The narrative here balances off the internal quest for Trotskyite saboteurs and wreckers with the search for them abroad. As the Chekists had penetrated and neutralized the White Russian emigré organizations, so did the NKVD penetrate and neutralize the Trotskyite emigré organization. At home, however, it was devastated by the Great Terror, as its best and most capable were ruthlessly unmasked as Trotskyist saboteurs working for the restoration of capitalism, and shot.
The Directorate for Special Tasks began its work at that time, under the leadership of Yakov Isaakovich "Yasha" Serebryansky. Yasha's men struck at both Whites and Trotskyists worldwide.
During the Spanish Civil War, the NKVD operated apparently without restraint in the Republic, liquidating Trotskyite enemies of the people as if they had been in the Soviet Union. Indeed, chief Soviet military advisor (and GRU chief) Army Commander Yan Karlovich Berzin "complained that Orlov and the NKVD were treating republican Spain as a colony rather than an ally." [p. 73] The subsequent career of Alexander M. Orlov, codenamed NIKOLSKY, is interesting; he knew when his number was up, and what to do about it.
The legacy of the Great Terror for Soviet intelligence was a morbid suspicion of its sources. Thus, Stalin rejected as provocations proofs at every level of the forthcoming German attack. In the middle of the Great Patriotic War, the Magnificent Five were under suspicion as turned agents.
Along with paranoia there came puffery. The NKVD prided itself on its organization of the patriotic partisan resistance in the occupied territories. They seem to have exaggerated even more than OSS flacks did (at least the SOE confessed afterwards that it had been fooled in the Netherlands). Andrew cites one case of a "heroic NKVD resistance group" in Odessa that actually broke down in a spasm of paranoia, with executions killing more members than the Nazis did [pp. 97-9].
They were somewhat more successful spying on their allies. The history of the "superb network" has been recounted recently in enough sources to only need a summarization here. (Andrew does get the title of the Laurel & Hardy movie Flying Deuces, produced by Boris Morros (Agent FROST) right [p. 106].)
But this was when Melita Norwood, Agent HOLA, began her work. She worked at the Non-Ferrous Metals Association uranium and plutonium being non-ferrous metals.
And if you like blood-curdling thoughts, here's one: "Henry Wallace . . . said later that if the ailing Roosevelt had died . . . and he had become president, it had been his intention to make [Lawrence] Duggan [Agent FRANK] his Secretary of State and [Harry Dexter] White [Agent JURIST] his Secretary of the Treasury." [p. 109]. Eek!
And another: "We [the NKGB Residency] are afraid of putting LIBERAL [Julius Rosenberg] out of action with overwork." [p. 128] Rosenberg was not just passing along A-bomb material; proximity fuze information, for example.
But then things began to fall apart, with the defections of Igor Gouzenko and Elizabeth Bentley, and the attempted defection of Konstantin Volkov (who was betrayed by Philby). To counterbalance them, the MGB began developing "illegals", people who would operate without diplomatic cover, pretending to be citizens of the target country. The first of these was Vilyam Genrikovich (William August) Fisher, better known as "Rudolf Ivanovich Abel".
Fisher's career in the Main Adversary had mixed results. He took over control of the principal agents there, including Morris and Lona Cohen and Ted Hall. However, he failed to recruit any new agents. The CPUSA just wasn't cool any more [p. 175].
We all know about the Main Adversary (the U.S.) and its Main Ally (the U.K.). But there was a rest of the world, too, and the third adversary was France. Work there was helped by the large, viable Communist Party there and by the fact that French intelligence seemed more interested in squabbling than in spying. In such an atmosphere, attitudes such as Frédéric Joliot-Curie's pledge to the Soviets that "French scientists . . . will always be at your disposal," [quoted p. 151] are hardly surprising. (As when M. Joliot-Curie endorsed the "germ-warfare" disinformation campaign.)
William "Emil Goldfus" Fisher was not the only illegal agent in the Main Adversary. Costa Rica prided itself on the services of the talented diplomat Teodoro Castro. So did the MGB, on the services of its agent Iosif Romualdovich Grigulevich the same man, of course. Castro/Grigulevich infiltrated with comic ease, becoming first adviser to the Costa Rican UN delegation and then Costa Rican ambassador to Italy. As opposed to his previous career, which included taking part in assassination attempts on Trotsky.
Though not all went well for the Center. As they learned when their would-be Canadian illegal Yevgeni Vladimirovich Brik (Agent HART) defected which they only found out after he had compromised almost all of the new agents they had recruited in the fifties. (The exception being Hugh Hambleton.)
The Mitrokhin Archive resolves, in a fashion not satisfying either side, the problem of Agent SASHA and Igor Orlov, one of the big questions of the Great Mole Hunt. Igor Orlov, né Aleksander Kopatzky, was accused of being a double agent based on evidence provided by Anatoli Golitsyn. Right agent, wrong code-name.
And speaking of Anatoli Mikhailovich Golitsyn, code-name GORBATY ["Hunchback"] they were out to get him. They were madder about another one, code-named IDOL Yuri Nosenko. (It was customary to give defectors insulting code-names.)
The fifties and sixties saw two different shifts in KGB spying: away from the ideologically motivated agent, and towards scientific and technological intelligence. A number of other Illegal agents attempted to enter the U.S., only to fail one way or another. (Oddly enough, the case of the agent who tried to defect, only to fall under suspicion by Angleton and be betrayed, is not mentioned.)
Page 189 lists the favorite rendezvous places for KGB agents in the Main Adversary in the sixties. It will be possible for the Worldcon-going fan to visit a few of those, in Chicago (the men's tie store on Randolph Street), or Philadelphia (the Silvanna Hotel).
Active Measures i.e., propaganda forgeries were a more successful field for KGB activities. Many of the fondest beliefs of progressive thinkers and conspiracists were conceived in Moscow Center. Andrew and Mitrokhin describe how Mark Lane was manipulated by the KGB [pp. 227-8]. Another such measure involved a forged letter supposedly from Lee Harvey Oswald to E. Howard Hunt [p. 229]. Since the letter is addressed to "Mr. Hunt", some conspiracists believe that it was "actually" sent to the nutcase billionaire H. L. Hunt. By this, the chekists gained double value from a single item.
Another manipulated agent is Philip Agee, well-known anti-CIA activist [pp. 230-4]. The KGB and Cuban Intelligence, the DGI, seem to have been his uncredited researchers.
By now the alleged transvestism of J. Edgar Hoover has passed into common parlance. Andrew, who thinks like a historian, and not like a journalist or conspiracist, finds the independent source claiming these exotica to be unreliable, not understanding that to journalists and conspiracists these are the most believable kind of sources. The detailed description of how this theme was generated in the KGB disinformation service will convince nobody save the rational.
Whereas Martin Luther King might feel doubly harassed, since the KGB was also on his case. Racial strife played a useful role in Active Measures campaigns, but the efficacy of their efforts was limited by the KGB's lack of understanding of American society. For example, no Ku Klux Klansman worth his hood would ever say, "Blacks, Welcome to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles!" [quoted p. 239]
Going back to Golitsyn, one of his beliefs was that the Prague Spring was an elaborate deception operation intended to trick the West into believing the myth of liberalization. If this were the case, the KGB lied even to itself, as the Mitrokhin archives show the deployment of KGB agents working in Czechoslovakia against the Dubcek government. Some infiltrated organizations, others carried out harassment measures against activists, and some helped make preparations for the armed intervention (which was itself described in The "Liberators" by "Viktor Suvorov", another defector to Britain). The level of effort shown here makes the CIA's 1954 campaign against Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala look like the work of children playing Super Sekrit Agents (imagine the "S"s dyslexically reversed here).
The KGB had a widespread network of agents and informers in all the Warsaw Pact countries. The suspicion of the Soviet fraternal comrades by Nicolae Ceausescu (as reported by former Romanian intelligence chief Ion Mihai Pacepa in Red Horizons) seems to have been not unjustified, though whether it justified his only wearing new clothes and burning them after wearing was another matter.
Soviet success with communist parties outside the Warsaw Pact, however, was more mixed. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Western Communist Parties were able to provide aid the French PCF helped infiltrate French intelligence, while the Italian PCI was well placed in the government but this dropped off in the fifties, for reasons similar to the dropoff of agents in the U.S.
And speaking of the U.S. and Communist Parties . . . in spite of suspicious indications about courier KHAB, the Center and Party continued to trust him. One of the less-mentioned revelations from the Mitrokhin papers [pp. 287-293] is the degree to which it corroborates the story of Morris Childs (KHAB) and his brother Jack (MARAT) told in John Barron's Operation SOLO. (The KGB just didn't like John Barron. After the publication of KGB: The Secret Work of Soviet Secret Agents, they began spreading rumors that he was a Zionist agent [p. 19].)
Other Communist parties weren't quite as risible as the CPUSA. Don Camillo (the priestly hero of Giovanni Guareschi's anti-communist stories) wouldn't have been surprised to learn that the PCI (Italian) received millions from the Soviet Union [pp. 295-6]. The other Eurocommunist parties, the PCF (France) and PCE (Spain), were less favored. Like Peppone, the PCI boss in the Don Camillo stories, the Soviets were faced with splinter factions, and favored the more Soviet-oriented ones.
Not all was well at home. (One wonders how the Foreign Intelligence Directorate got involved in this you can be sure that the people who decry alleged CIA involvement in domestic affairs will be foremost in denying this.) The Soviet Dissident movement began in 1965, with the protest against the trial of writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel. Obviously professionalism had vanished since the good old days of Stalin, as Sinyavsky and Daniel continued to maintain their innocence, whereas then they would have been good little prosecution witnesses. Nevertheless, the KGB set about penetrating this new "anti-Soviet" group. One of the first things they found was that one of the publicists of the Sinyavsky-Daniel trial in the West was a KGB agent with a second job [p. 310].
An evil spider lurked in the heart of the Socialist Motherland, and the heroic chekists under the Socialist leadership of Comrade Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov valiantly sought to smite this vile spider-god. At least, that's how the KGB saw Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, code-name PAUK ("Spider"). Andropov took dissidence seriously, having seen its effects at first-hand in Hungary in 1956. However, the Soviet dissidents weren't to be disposed of as easily as Nagy.
Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the country in 1974, and in keeping with Soviet émigré tradition, was provided with pro-Soviet agents for his entourage in this case, two Czech StB spies [pp. 318-9]. Soon enough, he realized what was going on, though. This campaign continued at high levels for the next few years.
The other chief dissident, Andrei Sakharov, was the target of even more virulent effort. Mitrokhin lists a number of Active Measures targeted at this ascetic (the code-name for Sakharov, ASKET) [pp. 323-7]. Sakharov was everything from a homosexual to a Zionist, while his wife Yelena Bonner (code-name LISA ("vixen")) was everything from a whore to a flack for the tobacco industry, according to uncredited chekist sources. Bonner has told of how she felt so stressed from this harassment that she thought she would die.
Pavel Sudoplatov was, shall we say, annoyed at being arrested and imprisoned at the fall of Beria. In retrospect, from the Soviet point of view, this was, perhaps, a big mistake. The Mitrokhin Archives describe a post-Sudoplatov Special Tasks capability that was badly degraded. Apparently, Donovan "Red" Grant would really have been a bumbler, and James Bond needn't have worried about "SMERSH".
The first such operation was against Tito, and the hit man was to be "Teodoro Castro", Iosif Grigulevich, and the methods he proposed sound straight out of Operation MONGOOSE, the CIA war against Fidel Castro [pp. 357-8]. It wasn't Stalin's death that wound up that plot, but the publication of The Secret History of Stalin's Crimes the Center was afraid that Orlov might blow Grigulevich's cover.
In the fifties, the Soviets began preparing for the next war, laying arms caches throughout Western Europe and the Americas. In the sixties, the KGB recruited leading Sandinistas to carry out sabotage missions in the Main Adversary [p. 363]. Other Special Tasks units targeted dams and pipelines in the U.S. and in Canada [p. 364-5].
Anatoli Golitsyn might be relieved to learn that he was indeed targeted by the KGB for liquidation [p. 367]. However, so was his main target, Yuri Nosenko. Other famous defectors on the chekist liquidation list included Peter Deriabin (whose last book, Inside Stalin's Kremlin (1998), contains some really hot Kremlin gossip), the assassins Nikolai Khokholov and Bogdan Stashinsky, the couple who ruined the networks in Australia, Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov, and Igor Gouzenko, the code clerk, himself. That the KGB ended up claiming the death of Reino Hayhanen in a crash as a success showed how (un)successful their efforts were (Hayhanen drank and drove).
These efforts declined from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous. The KGB actually threatened to break Rudolf Nureyev's legs [p. 370]. Small wonder Andropov liked The Godfather.
But Don Yuri Vladimirovich and this thing of theirs had friendly relationships with other Families across the world. As part of the campaign against the allies of the Main Adversary, the KGB provided supplies and training to various terrorist organizations, beginning with Wali Haddad's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In the Main Ally of the Main Adversary, they armed and aided the Official IRA. Their "subsidiaries" supported the Sandinistas and the German Red Army Faction. (All this is no more than what Claire Sterling said in The Terror Network.)
And other Soviet spies worked against the U.K. Not, however, Harold Wilson, though some of his business associates were of dubious provenance [pp. 404-5]. In fact, thanks to the exposal and mass expulsion of the KGB and GRU staffs in Britain after the defection of Oleg Lyalin, "[for] the remainder of the Cold War the KGB probably found it more difficult to collect high-grade intelligence in London than in almost any other Western capital." [p. 416]
This does read as bragging. To look at the record, though, reveals that spying in Britain was not particularly effective. Indeed, Britain received a number of significant defectors, from Oleg Gordievsky to Mitrokhin himself. The legend of a British intelligence establishment riddled with traitors is only that, a legend.
Not everyone in the NATO alliance was so fortunate. The disruptive efforts of such Stasi/KGB double agents as Heinz Felfe indicate that on the grounds of effectiveness, the CIA made a poor choice in picking up Reinhard Gehlen.
Yet, as with Wilson, so with Willy Brandt i.e., he too was not a Soviet agent. Yet a number of Soviet and East German agents operated in West Germany, and even achieved some successes. Though whether bringing down Brandt, as high-level agent Günter Guillaume did, can be counted as a success depends on what you mean by success.
Other, lesser allies of the Main Adversary were more fruitful fields of recruitment. France in particular was a very good place. The same pattern of disillusionment held true there and in Italy, though, as the enthusiastic "the future that works" Soviet fans died out and were replaced by mercenary agents. The enthusiastic Communists there tended to be Eurocommunists, and the Center had to deal with deviationism.
In Assignment In Utopia, The Red Decade, and Worker's Paradise Lost, Eugene Lyons commented with astonishment on the gullibility of clergymen, that they should find such a resolutely antireligious society to be so desirable. Seekers for proof of the description need only to look to the vehement quote from Lenin reprinted here on page 486 that begins, "Every religious idea, every idea of God, every flirting with the idea of God, is unutterable vileness". How the KGB agents who pervaded the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia felt about this was an interesting consideration. Particularly since everyone with any standing in the Church hierarchy had to cooperate. This wholescale collaboration has severely weakened the moral authority of the Orthodox Church in the post-Soviet era.
And in turn this infiltration affected the rest of the world. Soviet experience in taking over the leadership of front organizations never proved so valuable as when it came time to work in the World Council of Churches.
Or other groups. For example, Agent ADAMANT died in the presence of Pope John Paul I. Who thought he had merely seen the premature, tragic passing of the saintly, devoted Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad [p. 490]. (No conspiracists have made this out to be a part of a conspiracy, which may show where their heads are at.)
The KGB could not control the dissident sects. The description given on pages 504-6 of the attempt to repress the Jehovah's Witnesses shows how jealous the Soviet state was of any challenge to its moral authority. But they could keep a small sect down. A greater challenge to its moral authority began in 1978.
"Wojtyla holds extreme anti-Communist views," [quoted p. 508] the KGB station in Warsaw said about the new Pope. They proposed measures to try to infiltrate and neutralize this new threat [p. 514] but, faced with a weak sister in the Polish SB, did not put much reliance in their efficacy. (Mitrokhin does not confirm the comment by Soviet cryptology specialist Viktor Sheymov in his Tower of Secrets in which he hints at a Special Task action against the Pope.)
And these "anti-Communist views" spread to the nation. The Mitrokhin Archives contain the other side's perspective of the disintegration of Communist authority in Poland, as the Worker's and Peasant's State proved to have been against them all along. One startling revelation is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the Poles demanded Warsaw Pact intervention and the Soviets ruled it out [p. 530].
Nine years later, the Soviet troops stayed home again, as the entire bloc crumbled. Shortly thereafter, so did the home.
In an afterword, Andrew discusses the part that Soviet intelligence played in maintaining the structure of the Soviet state. The Soviet vision of "intelligence" was one in which espionage was directed against enemies of the state foreign and domestic without distinction.
Yet this led in turn to trivialities. The ineffectual émigré organizations, the chaotic Trotskyist sects, were labeled Enemies of the People and pursued with a ruthless, vehement, and disproportionate fervor. Not to mention the totally imaginary oppositions of the thirties.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the first-rate intelligence-collecting departments of Soviet intelligence were not complemented by as good evaluating departments. Operation RYAN, the ferocious search for proof of a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the West, was merely one of the last ones. No matter what the men in the field reported, Moscow Center possessed a stunning incomprehension of its opponents, and in the end that signaled the failure of the organization.
The flood of revelations unleashed by the fall of the Soviet Union has left some people in shock. That McCarthyite crap was for real!
Well, not exactly. Your neighbors weren't deep-penetration Commie infiltrators, trained at the super-secret Russian base that was a replica US town. Not only weren't Dwight Eisenhower and George C. Marshall Commie traitors, but the Soviet agents had left government service long before "Deskflyer Joe" had made his first wild drunken accusation. The British had cleaned up their spy act in 1971, with the defection of Lyalin; not only wasn't Harold Wilson a spy, but there were no significant spies in the British government.
And the Soviets were the ones financing Nicaraguan contras to fight in the U.S. Were some of those people being aided by the sanctuary movement in the eighties scouting out those churches as potential sites for arms caches?
There is (understandably) some concern that this material is, well, in the tradition of the Riga forgers who, in the early twenties, ground out for Western consumption reams of "intimate Bolshevik records" wherein Lenine and Trotzky were purging and shooting each other repetitiously. And some of it may indeed be open to question.
However, much can be checked, and much of what can be checked does check. One would think that if Mitrokhin had wanted to generate McCarthyite fantasies for the ultra-right, he would have confirmed things like the KGB plans to assassinate the Pope, or their absolute control of the world terror network.
As the Venona Codex revealed that people like Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were in league with unspeakable evil, so do the Mitrokin Shards add more squamous, abominable, and blasphemous discoveries about the secret world of the Friends of Soviet Russia. Particularly since there is going to be at least one more volume in this series . . . [To Be Continued]
As for the people whom I accuse, I do not know them, I have never seen them, I entertain against them no feeling of revenge and hatred. They are to me simple entities, spirits of social ill-doing. And the act that I perform here is nothing but a revolutionary measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice.
I have one passion only, for light, in the name of humanity which has borne so much and has a right to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my soul. . . .
Émile Zola, J'Accuse!