Soviet Intelligence Officers

Soviet Intelligence Officers

(KV 2/1410-1431)

Nicolas Klishko

(KV 2/1410-1416)

Nicolas Klishko (1880-c.1937) was considered to be one of the leading Bolshevik agitators in Britain at the time of the October revolution in 1917, but was, strangely, permitted to keep working for Vickers on munitions work until August 1918. He had first come to the attention of the British authorities in a security context in 1910 when, as an exile from Russia, he was associated with Russian nihilist circles in London and was said to have conspired to export arms to Russian revolutionaries (this was not proved). By 1915 he was believed to be a 'social democrat' and was thought to be passing information on armaments matters to his housemate, Harrison Litvinoff, who was in turn passing the reports to the Germans with a view to helping them defeat Tsarist Russia. A close watch was kept on Klishko and his 'wife', Phyllis Frood, and as the revolution developed, his permission to work with munitions was eventually withdrawn and he was expelled to Russia (via Sweden). Eighteen months later he returned to Britain as part of the Soviet trade delegation, and a close watch was resumed (never having been dropped on Frood). Klishko subsequently held other overseas posts for the Soviet government, and eventually settled with Frood in Moscow, where he was arrested in 1937 and is assumed to have been shot shortly thereafter. Frood was exiled internally but resurfaced in the UK in 1964 to claim an inheritance left by her sister.

KV 2/1410 is the first of nine reconstituted files on Klishko and Frood, indicating the importance with which Klishko was viewed. This file, covering 1915-1918, deals with growing MI5 suspicions of Klishko and the watch that they kept on him and his contacts. There is lengthy correspondence with Vickers, which was torn between wanting to remove him from their employment, and the possibility that he might help them the firm lucrative contracts in post-war Russia. A Vickers manager, J E Hutton, wrote in November 1917 that Klishko "is very friendly with the notorious Lenin, and his views are the most extreme Leninite views." MI5 nevertheless asked Vickers to keep employing Klishko so that a close watch could be kept on him. It was even planned that he travel to Russia on Vickers business in November 1917. A Home Office warrant was taken out on Klishko in December 1917, and the file thereafter contains copies of his correspondence as well as surveillance and informant reports on his activities. The file includes a Special Branch report of a search of his home address carried out in February 1918, and debates about whether or not it was sensible to expel Klishko. It is interesting to note that, because MI5 was responsible for the permits for staff doing munitions work, Klishko was frequently required to visit MI5 offices on official business to do with his permit.

The story continues in KV 2/1411 (covering 1918-1919), during which time Klishko's permit to work in munitions was withdrawn, he was interned on a prison ship and finally expelled for Russia (though being transported via Sweden, he managed to establish himself instead in Stockholm). The file includes copies of his correspondence with Frood both from the ship and from Stockholm, and the product of the correspondence watch on Frood. There is a summary of the case to date in the minute sheets.

Klishko returned to London as secretary to the Russian trade delegation in 1920, and the planning (in 1919-1920) for this visit is recorded in KV 2/1412. He returned to the UK in 1920, having signed an undertaking in Copenhagen not to interfere with British internal affairs and politics, and his movements, correspondence and activities were closely monitored.

File KV 2/1413 consists mainly of the product of that surveillance. A fresh Home Office warrant was taken out on Klishko on 19 May 1920, and there is a record of Klishko's interrogation by Sir Basil Thomson (then Head of the Special Branch) at Scotland House on 28 May 1920.

Klishko remained in Britain for some time, and the results of continued surveillance and checks on correspondence covering 1920-1930 are in KV 2/1414. Klishko in fact left the UK in 1923, and was Soviet consul in Peking, 1924-1928, before working in Berlin and eventually returning to Moscow in 1932.

Klishko paid further visits to the UK in 1930 and 1931, which are recorded on KV 2/1415. This file chiefly deals with the period 1930-1933, but includes later papers covering 1951-1972, dealing with Frood's return from Russia to collect an inheritance from her sister, which received some press coverage at the time, and an eighteen page summary of the cases dated 1972. This summary attempts to encapsulate Klishko's career, and estimates that 'contemporary assessments suggesting that he was the OGPU Resident or the UK representative of the Third International are misleading… undoubtedly Klishko's primary task [in 1920] was to work with Theodore Rothstein in the consolidation of the British Communist Party and funding it through Russian official channels…'. The file includes several poor-quality photographs of Klishko.

KV 2/1416 dates from 1922-1923 and records investigations into a payment of £60,000 made to Klishko in 1921, and various other financial matters relating to the channelling of funds to various revolutionary groups or individuals through the Soviet trade delegation.

Igor Gouzenko

(KV 2/1419-1425)

Igor Gouzenko (1919-1982) was cipher clerk to the Soviet military attaché in Ottawa in September 1945, when a security blunder on his part resulted in him being ordered back to Moscow. Fearing for his future, Gouzenko defected to the Canadians and passed them information about the extensive Soviet espionage network in Canada and the West and about the organisation of Soviet espionage generally. Among others he identified Alan Nunn May (a British physicist working in Canada but shortly due to return to the UK) and Kathleen Willsher (registrar at the British High Commission in Canada), as Soviet agents, and gave the first suggestions that the Soviets had gained access to the atom bomb secrets. He provided copies of cables between Moscow and Ottawa, which gave important clues to intelligence officers engaged in trying to break the Soviet codes. A Canadian royal commission reported on the case at the time, but these files show the British reaction to the defector and the information he provided.

The main file covering 1945-1947 is KV 2/1419, but after copies of the original cables notifying the Security Service of the defection (transmitted to and from Canada through the Secret Intelligence Service), and subsequent summaries of the progress of the case, the file is mainly concerned with the distribution and return of copies of the Canadian royal commission report. There is a copy of the Home Office reaction to the report on file giving the views of the permanent under- secretary, Sir Alexander Maxwell, and the Home Secretary, James Chuter Ede.

KV 2/1420 follows the development of the case in detail, containing the original correspondence on the case in 1945. The first report on information derived from Gouzenko is included and there are also copies of translations provided by him of cables passed between Moscow and Ottawa. These include the details of how, on his return to London, May (codename ALEC) was to meet his Soviet intelligence contacts outside the British Museum. The file includes material to be inserted into the original report brought back to the UK by Roger Hollis, including hand-drawn charts showing the organisation of Soviet intelligence overseas.

The case develops further on files KV 2/1421-1424, which show the co-operation between the British, Canadian and American intelligence agencies, particularly on matters such as the timing of May's arrest. There are frequent case summaries and analyses of the organisation of Soviet intelligence, updated as information derived from Gouzenko or other agents identified by him grew.

KV 2/1421 includes correspondence between Roger Hollis at MI5 and Kim Philby at MI6 (including Philby's signature) from February 1946 where Philby is seeking Hollis' comments on a draft (not on the file) he has prepared about the case.

KV 2/1422 includes a note of a meeting of 1 March 1946 attended by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the UK High Commissioner in Canada, Malcolm Macdonald, Philby, Hollis and other officials, where the timing of May's arrest was discussed following a Canadian request to co-ordinate action in the UK with the report of the royal commission.

Though most of the files refer to Hollis's interviews with Gouzenko (for example in KV 2/1423 there is reference to a meeting Hollis had with him on 21 November 1945), none contains a report or note of the actual interviews.

KV 2/1424 includes an album of photographs of Soviet agents involved in the case provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) from October 1948.

KV 2/1425-6 contain high-level correspondence from 1945 about the case (for example, in piece 1425, Foreign Secretary Bevin's minute of 27 October 1945 to Prime Minister Attlee on the timing of May's arrest).

KV 2/1427 contains copies and translations of documents provided by Gouzenko to the Canadians.

KV 2/1428-1429 contain, respectively, copies of the RCMP report of November 1945 into espionage in Canada, and the royal commission report of June 1946.