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Soviet intelligence officers

Alexander Orlov (KV 2/2878-2879) 1926-1956

Orlov, a man of many aliases and assumed identities, is described on these files (in September 1953, minute 2c) as being a man "…who may prove to be virtually another KRIVITSKY who has been living undisturbed and unappreciated in America for about fifteen years." (KV 2/2878, 1926-1954) His career as an illegal OGPU (fore-runner of the KGB) resident in Britain and then his work in Spain before settling in the United States in 1938 went completely unnoticed by the American authorities until he published his memoirs in 1953.

This file conveys much British frustration at the FBI's handling of the case (for example serial 8a). It reveals the degree to which the Americans had not appreciated at the time the value of potential defectors, and so had entirely failed to question Orlov or realise his potential. Had they done so, they may have unmasked Kim Philby years in advance of his eventual flight to Russia.

KV 2/2879 (1954-1956) continues the story, with the Security Service considering the various leads that Orlov might provide, including the identity of the Communist spy in the Foreign Office. The minuting and correspondence on the file consider a number of names, with Donald Maclean as the leading candidate. However he could not be identified positively as the key figure who, according to Orlov, had been made aware of Eden's reaction to the breaking off of Uruguayan-Soviet relations and passed the information back to Moscow. 

The file includes a detailed summary of Orlov's opinion of the information supplied by Walter Krivitsky (serial 64b) passed to the Security Service by the FBI. With the Service unable to question Orlov directly, the file ends with the conclusion that no further investigation was possible.

Go to Discovery to view image of KV 2/2878

Go to Discovery to view image of KV 2/2879