Military Review

How a bug ate American secrets

9 February 1945, when Soviet troops were still fighting in Eastern Europe, a significant event for the entire Soviet Union took place in Crimea. The pioneer camp Artek was opened. Invitations to the opening of the camp were sent to the leaders of the allied countries: Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Of course, during the severe war years neither Roosevelt nor Churchill had the opportunity to fly to the Crimea. Therefore, the United States was represented by US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman, and the United Kingdom was represented by Ambassador Archibald John Clark Kerr. Mr. Harriman had no idea that his visit to Artek would be the beginning of a whole espionage epic that would last for many years.

Starting from the second quarter of the twentieth century, the United States in the list of the main opponents and competitors of our country moved the United States of America. Although diplomatic relations were established between the USSR and the USA as early as 1933, and during World War II, the countries were allies in the anti-Hitler coalition, the confrontation between the intelligence and counterintelligence of the two states did not stop for a minute. After the end of the 1943 Tehran Conference of the Year, Joseph Stalin personally ordered Lawrence Beria to organize an audition for the American Embassy in Moscow. Moreover, the technical capabilities for the implementation of this task existed.

Lev Sergeevich Termen, hereditary nobleman of French origin, was a unique person. It combines musical talent and mathematical ability. In 1916, Lev Theremen graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in cello. In parallel, he studied at the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of Petrograd University, but from the second year he was drafted into the army — the First World War was on. A mathematics student was sent to training at the Nikolaevsk Engineering School, then to officer electrical courses, after which Termen began service in the reserve electrical battalion that served the radio station in Tsarskoye Selo.

How a bug ate American secrets

After the revolution, Theremin headed the laboratory of the Physicotechnical Institute, invented the world famous musical instrument "Theremin", and in 1928 he moved to the USA. He created Teletouch Inc and developed alarm systems for US penitentiaries. Most likely, already at this time, Leo Theremin established strong ties with the Soviet secret services, since he was directly involved in the creation of Soviet trade missions, under whose brand in the 1920-e - early 1930-s. Soviet scouts were active. In 1938, Theremin returned to the Soviet Union, and already in 1939, he was arrested and received 8 years of camps. For his technical knowledge and innovative proposals, Termen was transferred to a closed "sharashka". It was there that he invented the Chrysostom endovibrator, and the Buran system.

The listening device was advanced for its time. The most important thing was that Zlatoust worked without additional power sources. The "bug" led the radiation from a remote source, which could be located hundreds of meters from the place where "Chrysostom" was installed. As we understand, for the Soviet intelligence and counterintelligence this invention was invaluable and it should be immediately “put into action”, which happened in 1945 year.

Mr. Averell Harriman, the American ambassador to the USSR, could not hide his enthusiasm - at the opening of "Artek" he was solemnly presented with the large emblem of the United States. Made from the most expensive woods, the coat of arms was a true work of art. The ambassador was beside himself with happiness, especially given that the British ambassador was not given anything like that. Such a gift would be a worthy decoration of the embassy, ​​so a satisfied Harriman took him to Moscow. Here, the coat of arms was checked for the presence of listening equipment by intelligence specialists assigned to the American embassy, ​​but they did not find anything. The coat of arms took its place of honor on the wall of the embassy, ​​right behind the workplace of Ambassador Harriman himself. The fact that the bug called "Zlatoust" now settled for a long time in the American Embassy, ​​neither Harriman nor the other employees could have imagined.

Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria was also pleased - part of the ingenious plan for the “implantation” of the bug at the American embassy was carried out. Now it was necessary only to establish a system for obtaining information. To this end, in the house, located opposite the American Embassy in Moscow, two safe houses were equipped. They installed a generator and a receiver of the reflected signals, and to disguise the employees of the security agencies carefully depicted housewives - dried clothes on the balconies of safe houses, imitated the daily life of Soviet inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Soviet intelligence officers carefully recorded all the conversations that were conducted at the embassy. After all, Harriman hung the coat of arms in the very heart of the American residence - in his own office, which means everything that the ambassador said to his assistants or guests, immediately became well-known Soviet intelligence agents. The Soviet leadership promptly received information about many American plans and designs.

In 1947, Lev Termen was rehabilitated and released from prison, who continued to work in secret laboratories of security agencies. For the creation of brilliant listening systems, Lev Sergeyevich Termen was not only released from prison, but also became the winner of the Stalin Prize. In addition to Zlatoust, he also invented Buran, a remote infrared eavesdropping system that made it possible to read the vibration of glasses in the windows of a room that was monitored.

Political changes were changing, but the “bug” continued to work properly in the American embassy building. Four ambassadors changed. Each of them tried to equip the embassy room for themselves, completely changing the furniture, and sometimes the whole interior. But none of the main American representatives in Moscow over the years has raised a hand on the coat of arms of the United States of precious wood - it seems that all the ambassadors considered him a wonderful decoration of his office.

In the past since the installation of the bug in the arms, the time the United States and the Soviet Union have again become bitter enemies from yesterday's allies in the anti-Hitler coalition. The Cold War began, an aggressive NATO bloc was created, and hostilities unfolded in Korea. All these circumstances demanded more special attention from the American special services to the smallest details, including in the life of the American embassy in Moscow. In 1952, radio engineers accidentally spotted a wave on which Zlatoust operated. Where the bug is installed, naturally no one knew. The secret service officers turned the entire building of the American embassy in Moscow, including the cabinet of American ambassadors, upside down.

In the end, inside the shield of precious wood, which depicted the American coat of arms, counterintelligence found a strange device. Small metal wire, hollow cavity chamber, membrane. In this device, there were no batteries, radio components. It was completely incomprehensible how it works. The Americans even doubted whether this was really a bug - they thought that it was just a model for distracting attention, and the real bug was hidden in another place. However, management decided to send a strange device for examination. The true nature of the strange device was recognized only by the British scientist Peter Wright. What the American intelligence officers learned from him plunged them into real shock. Never before have Americans encountered similar inventions. Who knows, if it were not for pure chance in the 1952 year, how much more could a bug work in the building of the American Embassy?

Naturally, the American counterintelligence could not survive the shame calmly. For a long time история with the embassy coat of arms carefully hidden from the American public. Information about Zlatoust was leaked to the media only in 1960, eight years after its discovery. By this time, both Stalin and Beria had long been dead, and the general political situation in the world had also changed quite a lot. And then, in the 1960 year, the Americans released information about Zlatoust purely from utilitarian considerations - in order to justify themselves before the Soviet Union after the scandal with the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft shot down by air defense forces. Then the idea was born to explain the dispatch of a reconnaissance aircraft with a coat of arms history - they say, if you are, then we are.

When information about Zlatoust fell into the hands of American intelligence services, they tried to create an analogue of such a device. However, there were no such geniuses like Leo Theremin in America, so the efforts were in vain. Americans didn’t create anything like that at that time. The development of a similar device did not work out with the British special services, which also became interested in Chrysostom. The devices created within the framework of the American and British programs, although they could reflect information, but for a much shorter distance and, most importantly, absolutely not with what Chrysostom has, are quality. The latter circumstance actually deprived the American and British inventions of meaning - they could not keep a full listening of the premises.

It is still not fully known how much useful information the Soviet leadership received thanks to Zlatoust installed in the building of the American Embassy in Moscow. After all, the device worked in the most intense post-war years, from 1945 to 1952, when relations between the USSR and the USA were rapidly deteriorating, the confrontation between the two political and economic systems unfolded - in Eastern Europe, East and Southeast Asia, in Africa and Latin America All these years, the little bug "Zlatoust" faithfully served the security interests of the Soviet state.

As for the biography of the brilliant creator of "Chrysostom" Lev Sergeevich Termen, it was not very smoothly formed. Even in the post-war years, already a very old man, he again had to endure many trials. 1964 to 1967 Theremin worked in the laboratory of the Moscow Conservatory, developing new electromusical instruments - that is, he returned to his original occupation. In 1967, Harold Schonberg visited Moscow, who recognized Lev Theremin and could communicate with him. After that, The New York Times wrote about a Soviet genius who modestly works at the conservatory. This publication was enough to start new problems. Theremin's studio was closed, his inventions were destroyed, and Theremin himself retired. Only with the help of acquaintances, the ingenious inventor managed to get a job at the laboratory of the physics department of Moscow State University, of which he continued to be a mechanic for many years.

Interestingly, in March 1991 of the year 95-year-old Lev Sergeyevich Termen, who suffered a lot from Soviet power, joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. At this time, the ranks of the CPSU were already in a hurry to leave many of those who had previously sworn allegiance to Leninist principles, and then immediately found themselves in the ranks of liberals and "democrats." When journalists asked Lev Sergeyevich about the purpose of his entry into the party, the elderly inventor replied that he had promised to do so even to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin himself. And it really was true. Lev Termen, the 26-year-old inventor, and Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the October Revolution, met personally in March of the 1922 year. Then a presentation of the inventions of Lev Termen was arranged in the Moscow Kremlin, which was attended by Vladimir Ilyich. Lev Theremin demonstrated to Lenin his own alarm system and the musical instrument Termenvoks, and Vladimir Ilyich even tried to play Glinka's Terranvox Lark.

Lev Sergeevich was still alive when, in 1992, his small laboratory on Lomonosovsky Prospect was defeated by unknown persons who had entered it. They not only broke all the tools of Lev Termen, but also stole some of the inventor’s unique archives. To whom it was necessary, we can only guess. The law enforcement agencies, which is not surprising at that time, didn’t find the criminals who defeated the Theremen’s laboratory. 3 November 1993 of the year 97-year-old Lev Sergeevich Termen died. They buried him very modestly. In the last journey of the ingenious inventor, only daughters and a few acquaintances accompanied them. None of the representatives of the country's leadership has ever honored the memory of a person who made a huge contribution to ensuring state security in the difficult post-war years.
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  1. forty-eighth
    forty-eighth 24 October 2017 15: 12
    "For his technical knowledge and innovative suggestions, Theremin was arrested and received 8 years of camps."

    So it would be more correct to build a phrase.
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 24 October 2017 19: 12
      No, the phrase is built just right.
      Theremin got 8 years on the fact of staying abroad. But for technical knowledge and innovative suggestions, Termen was replaced by a “sharashka” conclusion.
      1. andrewkor
        andrewkor 24 October 2017 20: 09
        In the 30s, a delegation from ZiSa had the experience in the USA to take from the local specialists. Upon returning, they asked one hard worker, how do American workers live? They live well, the hard worker replied. He got the same 8 years. In 1980. I also saw him at the Center for Sports and Sport of Zil.
      2. Looking for
        Looking for 25 October 2017 13: 34
        If the expression is correctly constructed, then not "upon the fact of stay ....", but "on the fact of stay ..."
        1. siemens7774
          siemens7774 25 February 2018 19: 55
          Seeker. You have just shown how the media reverse the concept of news. After such nuances, a liberd with upside down brains appears.
  2. Same lech
    Same lech 24 October 2017 15: 15
    It’s a pity ... it’s a pity that the Motherland treats her child prodigies so badly and does not fully utilize their talent ...

    I listened to TERMENVOKS Theremin ... really liked the unusual sound.
    Respect and respect for Theremin hi
  3. maxxavto
    maxxavto 24 October 2017 16: 34
  4. Hurricane70
    Hurricane70 24 October 2017 16: 34
    But no one stole them from the scarabs, along with their brains, and no one lured! Hard times, hard life!
    1. forty-eighth
      forty-eighth 24 October 2017 16: 45
      Interesting opinion. And if such people were to the wall and a bullet in the forehead, then they would not have been lured with a guarantee at all.
      That’s the only thing I don’t like the scoop of that period for is the attitude to the luminaries of science and technology. Dull in those days lived freer and more satisfying.
  5. A. Privalov
    A. Privalov 24 October 2017 17: 38
    Artek opened back in 1925 year. After the liberation of Crimea in the spring of 1944, the buildings were repaired and by the end of the summer children were already being taken. In February, 1945, indeed, brought some of the participants in the Yalta conference.
  6. polpot
    polpot 24 October 2017 19: 39
    Beautiful operation smart people what to say not a bastard Bakatin with drawings of wiretaps ran to the US Embassy what time are such and heroes
  7. andrewkor
    andrewkor 24 October 2017 20: 02
    In the 60s, our neighbors had one TV set on our street, all the children gathered for fairy tales, before a fairy tale concert from Moscow, and there an old shaggy musician leads his hands near the device and utters unearthly enchanting melodies. I remembered it all my life. Then I just found out That Theremin himself played on Theremin!
  8. Karen
    Karen 24 October 2017 20: 46
    In 1952, radio engineers accidentally spotted the wave on which Zlatoust worked.
    The device did not work at a fixed frequency, but at a "floating" frequency, so they could not understand what was happening ...
  9. Des10
    Des10 24 October 2017 21: 40
    That's how for me since childhood his Theremin was a miracle - and it remained.
    And in the memory.
  10. Dedall
    Dedall 24 October 2017 21: 49
    Good article!
    I tried for thirteen years to read something about the inventor of “Thereminvox”, but then, and it was in the mid-70s, I did not find anything. But I collected the device itself according to the scheme and the magazine "Young Technician" and even managed to play some then popular tunes.
  11. kalibr
    kalibr 24 October 2017 21: 56
    None of the representatives of the country's leadership honored the memory of the man who made a huge contribution to ensuring the security of the state in the difficult post-war years.
    And then we still wonder why talented people leave "there." There, if the leadership of the country does not accompany the other world, they give money. And here, no money, no wires ...
  12. safar gafarov
    safar gafarov 25 October 2017 09: 55
    History of the Soviet Lefty. Cool, he savvy an Amer flea
  13. Monarchist
    Monarchist 25 October 2017 12: 29
    Ilya, thanks for the story about "Zlatoust" it was interesting to read. Here are just my small additions: I somehow saw documentary footage where Gariman’s daughter holds this eagle. It seems in the book "Technical Intelligence. That Ilyich to Ilyich" I read that the traitor informed the Americans about the eagle, and so they would have been scratching their turnips for a long time