the secret agent: mostly men in grey

The cult of the secret agent. In fact as in fiction, the spy is the indispensable person of our time. Spies go back to Biblical times, yet today, or more precisely particularly since the Enlightenment their sphere of activity poses a deadly threat to the open society…

…It is no secret that Western intelligence agencies appear, to, though discreetly, to act as behind the scenes patrons of the arts as did the Communists in their time. If we go back to Tad Szulc’s time, and if his CIA informants were credible, the agency’s former head, Richard Helms, occasionally presented visitors to his office with copies of E. Howard Hunt’s spy thrillers. Even if the gesture could be interpreted as an illustration of Helm’s sophisticated sense of humor, it is significant that the CIA allowed Hunt to publish his tales, for they are sufficiently realistic, in spots, to give the professional reader some useful information about how its agents, and particularly their minds, operate.

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The Kremlin at the same time, or slightly earlier, was systematically glorifying the deeds of real spy heroes and not Hunt’s fictional Peter Ward. Under Stalin, and for some time after his death, the wartime services of Richard Sorge went unrecognized; no doubt because the German crypto-Communist, who became the most successful agent of the GPU before he died a martyr’s death n a Japanese prison, had warned Stalin of Hitler’s intention to attack the Soviet Union and was ignored.

But in November, 1964, shortly after Khrushchev’s fall from power, Sorge was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union, and an outpouring of hagiography appeared in the press, both about him and about the other previously secret combatants in the underground war against Hitler.


(see link at end)…This seemingly devoted German, this cynical adventurer with a high zest for living, was, in fact, one of the greatest and most dangerous spies of all time. He was a man who had turned an embittered back on Western civilisation and embraced the rigid commandments of Communism. From his Tokio vantage point Richard Sorge had, with a Nazi Party card in one hand, a Russian Communist Party card in the other, played with the greatest armies the world has seen and influenced the course of some of the decisive battles of our time.

Perhaps it was this astounding run of success in espionage that upset Sorge’s brilliant brain. For it is my belief that in the last few months of his activities he thought himself above his masters in the Kremlin, above his dupes in Berlin and Tokio. Only a man drunk with a feeling of secret power over the destinies of nations could have told a confidant: ” If I had worked for the Allies, history would record my name in the same breath as those of Churchill and Roosevelt.”

Through the tense post-war years, the fascinating thread of the master spy’s commandments for a Soviet spy continues to leave its mark on history. Fanatical ideologists like Nunn May, Fuchs and Algar Hiss conform to the principles of Richard Sorge. Disillusioned secret agents like Igor Gouzenko, Petrov and Khoklov provoke the alarming thought that among us in the West are many others.

Sorge was both Communist and spy. His mask was elastic, limited only by his remarkable ingenuity. The mask finally split and revealed a man with three faces. Read More:

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