the secret agent: bumblers

Deeds of derring-don’t. The cult of the secret agent at least as represented in spy fiction is basically fearless, obedient, efficient and clever. His real-life counterparts may enjoy a few of the James Bond type attributed but some spies were simply terrible bumblers who seemed to rise to their level of incompetence…

---Jean Dujardin, image for source...

—Jean Dujardin, OSS117…click image for source…

For sheer ineptitude, few spies can match Reino Hayhanen, a Soviet agent for the U.S. in the 1950’s. His superior, the redoubtable Colonel Rudolf Abel, was a top-notch professional, feted and decorated by the Soviets and exchanged or Gary Powers in the U2 incident. Hyhanen, however, knew nothing about spying, and next to nothing about photography, even though his cover was a Newark, New Jersey, photo shop. Hayhanen was finally recalled to Moscow, but Abel’s relief was short-lived: en route, Hayhanen decided to defect to the U.S. authorities and served as the main witness against his former boss.


(see link at end)…On June 15, a photograph of Goldfus which the FBI took with a hidden camera was shown to Hayhanen. “You’ve found him,” the former Soviet Agent exclaimed. “That’s ‘Mark.'”

Goldfus—registered at the Hotel Latham under the name of Martin Collins—was kept under surveillance from the night of June 13 until the morning of June 21, 1957. During this period, FBI agents discreetly tied together the loose ends of the investigation, matters which had to be resolved before this Russian intelligence officer could be taken into custody.

---Abel Trial: Reino Hayhanen Photograph - Abel Trial: Reino Hayhanen Fine Art Print---

—Abel Trial: Reino Hayhanen Photograph – Abel Trial: Reino Hayhanen Fine Art Print—

Arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on an alien warrant based upon his illegal entry into the United States and failure to register as an alien, “Mark” displayed a defiant attitude. He refused to cooperate at all.

Following his arrest, “Mark” was found to possess many false papers, including two American birth certificates. The first showed that he was Emil R. Goldfus, born August 2, 1902 in New York City. According to the second one, he was Martin Collins, born June 2, 1897, also in New York. Investigation was to establish that the Emil Goldfus whose birth certificate “Mark” displayed had died in infancy. The certificate in the name of Collins was a forgery….

…Indicted as a Russian spy, Colonel Abel was tried in federal court at New York City during October 1957. Among the government witnesses to testify against him was his former trusted espionage assistant, Lieutenant Colonel Reino Hayhanen

On October 25, 1957, the jury announced its verdict—Abel was guilty of all counts….Read More:

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2 Responses to the secret agent: bumblers

  1. Jon says:

    Reino Häyhänen climbed to the rank of Lt. Colonel, in itself this would say he was not a bumbling idiot. He spoke three languages proficiently and was not arrested by immigration as you suggest but he handed himself into the American Embassy in Paris and through him broke a vast spy ring in America and led to the recovery of Gary Powers, the downed U2 pilot. Get your facts right before publishing rumours and lies.

  2. Greg Roberts says:

    Jon is right. Häyhänen turned himself in to an “embassy official” (aka CIA agent working out of the American Embassy in Paris). The agent had been working on securing this defection for quite awhile. When Häyhänen finally came in, the official took 20 pages of notes, arranged his flight and flew back to the US with him on a commercial flight. On that flight, Häyhänen started to have second thoughts, so the agent had to solicit the help of one of the pilots to secure him with belts to his seat. Upon the arrival in the US, the FBI met him at the plane to promptly take full credit! How do I know this? John Roberts, the CIA agent, was my father!

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