Military Review

110 years ago was born the legendary Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Ivanovich Abel (William Fricher)

The father of our hero, Heinrich Matthäus Fischer, was born on the estate of St. Andrew’s Yaroslavl Province in the family of German subjects who worked for the local Prince Kurakin. The mother of the legendary agent, Lyubov Vasilyevna Korneeva, was from Khvalynsk, in the Saratov province. The young spouses were active in revolutionary activities, they were personally acquainted with Krzhizhanovsky and Lenin. Soon, their activities became known to the royal secret police. Fleeing from arrest, a young couple of political émigrés went abroad and found refuge on the northeast coast of England, in the town of Newcastle. It was here that 11 was born on July 1903, a son was born, who was named William in honor of the famous playwright.

Few people know that William Fisher had an older brother - Harry. He died tragically in the summer of 1921 on the River Uche near Moscow, saving a drowned girl.

At sixteen, young William passed the exams at the University of London, but he did not have to study there. My father continued his revolutionary activities, joined the Bolshevik movement. In 1920, their family returned to Russia, adopted Soviet citizenship, and at the same time retained British citizenship. At first, Fisher worked as a translator at the Executive Committee of the Comintern in the department of international relations. A few years later he managed to enter the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies at the Indian branch and even successfully completed the first course. However, later he was called up for military service.

In security agencies Fisher with 1927-th. In the same year he married a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory in harp class Elena (Ele) Lebedeva.In the Civil War, the future intelligence officer was not able to participate, but he joined the ranks of the Red Army in 1925 in the year with enthusiasm. He fell to serve in the first wireless telegraph regiment of the Moscow Military District. It was here that he became acquainted with the fundamentals of the radio operator profession. The young young man, tolerably speaking English, German and French, who had a clear biography, who had a natural tendency to technology, was noticed by the personnel officers of the United State Political Administration. In May, 1927 was enrolled as a translator into the foreign department of this organization, which was then controlled by Artuzov and engaged in, among other things, foreign intelligence.

7 On April 1927, the wedding of William and a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory Elena Lebedeva took place. Subsequently, Elena became a famous harpist. And in 1929, they gave birth to a child, a girl they named Evelina.

After some time, Fisher was already working as a radio operator in the central office. According to unconfirmed reports, his first illegal business trip to Poland took place at the end of the twenties. And at the beginning of 1931, William was sent to England. He traveled "semi-legally," under his last name. There was such a legend: a native of England who came to Russia on the basis of parental will fell out with his father and wishes to return with his family. The British Consulate General in the Russian capital issued British passports, and the Fisher family went abroad. The special mission lasted for several years. The scout managed to visit Norway, Denmark, Belgium and France. Under the pseudonym "Frank", he successfully organized a secret radio network, broadcast radiograms of local residencies.

The business trip ended in the winter of 1935, but in the summer the Fisher family again went abroad. In Moscow, William Genrikhovich returned in May of 1936, after which he was assigned to train illegal intelligence officers to work with communications. In 1938, Soviet spy Alexander Orlov ran with his family to the United States. Everyone who worked with him (and among them was Fisher) was under threat of exposure. In this regard, and perhaps because of the distrust of the party leadership to those who had connections with the "enemies of the people", at the very end of 1938, Lieutenant GB Fisher was fired. William was still very lucky; during the army purges with scouts, they didn’t stand on ceremony, many of his friends were shot or thrown into prison. At first, the agent had to interrupt himself with odd jobs, only six months later, thanks to his connections, he managed to get a job at an aircraft factory. Even without higher education, he easily solved the set production targets. According to the testimony of the company's employees, his main “fad” was a phenomenal memory. Also, the scout had supernatural instincts, helping to find the right solution to almost any task. Working at the plant, William Genrikhovich constantly sent his father’s friend, Secretary of the Central Committee Andreev, reports with a request to restore him in intelligence. For two and a half years, Fisher was “civilian,” and finally, in September of 1941, he returned to service.

Who was “Comrade Rudolf Abel”, under whose name William Fisher became world famous? It is known that he was born in Riga in the 1900 year (that is, he was three years older than Fisher) in the chimney sweep family. In Petrograd, a young Latvian appeared in 1915. When the revolution began, he took the side of the Soviet government and volunteered to join the Red Army. During the Civil War, he served as a fireman on the Retivy destroyer, fought at Tsaritsyn, was retrained by a radio operator in Kronstadt and was sent to the distant Commander Islands. In July, 1926, Abel was already the commandant of the Shanghai consulate, and later a radio operator at the embassy in Beijing. INO OGPU took him under her wing in the 1927 year, and in 1928 the Rudolph was sent over the cordon as an illegal scout. Until 1936, there is no information about his work. When Abel and Fisher met up to the end is not clear. A number of historians suggest that they first met on assignment in China in the 1928-1929s. In 1936, the two scouts were already strong friends, and their families were also friends. Fisher's daughter, Evelina, recalled that Rudolf Abel was a calm, cheerful man, and, unlike her father, knew how to find a common language with children. Unfortunately, Rudolph did not have his children. And his wife, Alexandra Antonovna, was from a noble family, which greatly interfered with the career of a talented intelligence officer. But the real tragedy was the news that Abel's brother, Waldemar, who worked as head of the political department of the shipping company, was counted among the participants in the Latvian counter-revolutionary conspiracy of the 1937 year. For espionage and sabotage Voldemar was sentenced to death, and Rudolph was fired from his organs. Like Fisher, Abel worked in different places, including the rifleman. December 15 1941 year, he was returned to the service. In the personal file you can find mention of the fact that in the period from August 1942-th to January 1943-th Rudolph was a member of the task force in the direction of the Main Caucasus Range and carried out special tasks for the preparation and throwing of sabotage detachments to the enemy rear. By the end of the war, the Order of the Red Banner and two Orders of the Red Star were on its award list. In the 1946 year, Lieutenant Colonel Abel again, this time finally, was fired from the state security organs. Despite the fact that William Fisher continued to serve in the NKVD, their friendship was not over. Rudolph knew about sending a friend to America. In 1955, Abel died suddenly. He never knew that Fisher had impersonated him, and that his name was forever included in the annals of intelligence.

Until the end of the war, William G. Fisher continued to work in the central intelligence apparatus in Lubyanka. Many documents about his activities are still not available to the public. It is known only that he was 7 on November 1941 in the post of head of the communications department was involved in ensuring the security of the parade, which took place on Red Square. Like Rudolf Abel, William organized and dispatched our agents to the German rear, supervised the work of partisan detachments, taught radio at the Kuibyshev intelligence school, participated in the legendary Operation Monastery and its logical continuation - the Berezino radio game, leading a number of Soviet and German radio operators.

Operation Berezino began after Soviet intelligence officers managed to create a fictitious German detachment allegedly working in the rear of the USSR. To help them, Otto Skorzeny sent more than twenty spies and saboteurs, and they all fell into the trap. The operation was built on a radio game that Fisher masterfully conducted. The only mistake William Genrikhovich and everything would have failed, and the Soviet residents paid with their lives for the acts of terrorism of saboteurs. Until the end of the war, the command of the Wehrmacht did not understand that they were being led by the nose. The last message from Hitler's bid in May 1945-th read: "We can not help, we hope in God's will."

After arriving in 1962 from the USA, Willy Fisher - Rudolf Abel drew a lot. However, painting, and seriously, he was engaged before the war.After the end of the Great Patriotic War, Fisher was transferred to a special reserve, gradually starting to prepare for a long assignment. He was already forty-three years old, and he had a really great knowledge. Fisher was well versed in radio equipment, chemistry, physics, had an electrician specialty, professionally painted, although he did not study anywhere, knew six foreign languages, played the guitar remarkably, wrote stories and plays. He was a fantastically gifted man: carpentry, carpentry, plumbing, engaged in silk-screen printing and photography. Already in America, patented a number of inventions. In his spare time he solved mathematical problems and crosswords, played chess. Relatives recalled that Fisher could not be bored, could not bear to waste time in vain, was demanding of himself and others, but absolutely indifferent to the status of a person, respected only those who thoroughly mastered their work. About his profession he said: “Intelligence is a high art…. This is creativity, talent, inspiration. ”

Maurice and Leontine Coens, with whom William Genrikhovich worked in New York, spoke of his personal qualities: “An incredibly highly cultured, spiritually rich man…. Highly educated, intelligent, with a developed sense of dignity, honor, commitment and integrity. It was impossible not to respect him. ”

My daughter grew up at the scout, it was very hard to say goodbye to her family, but Fisher went voluntarily to his main task. He received the latest instructions before shipment personally from Vyacheslav Molotov. At the end of 1948 in New York, in the Brooklyn area, an unfamiliar photographer and artist Emil Goldfus drove into Fulton Street in the 252 number. In the late forties, Soviet intelligence in the West was going through far from the best of times. McCarthyism and the “witch hunt” reached their apogee, spies seemed to be intelligence agencies in every second inhabitant of the country. In September, 1945 of the year, Igor Guzenko, the coder of the Soviet attache in Canada, turned to the enemy. A month later, representatives of the American Communist Party, Bentley and Budenz, testified to the FBI related to Soviet intelligence. Many illegal agents had to be immediately withdrawn from the USA. The scouts legally working in Soviet institutions were under round-the-clock surveillance, constantly awaiting provocations. Communication between spies was difficult.

In a short time, Fisher, under the operational pseudonym "Mark", did a great job of re-creating the Soviet intelligence structure in America. He formed two agent networks: California, which includes intelligence agents operating in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, and Eastern, covering the entire coast of the United States. Only an incredibly gifted person could do this. However, William Genrikhovich was just that. It was Fisher, through a high-ranking Pentagon worker, who found out plans to deploy American ground forces in Europe in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. They also obtained copies of Truman's resolution on the creation of the CIA and the National Security Council. Fisher handed over to Moscow a detailed list of tasks assigned to the CIA, and a project on the transfer of powers to the FBI to guard the production of atomic bombs, submarines, jet planes and other secret weapons.

Through the Coens and its group, the Soviet leadership maintained contact with residents who worked directly on secret nuclear facilities. Sokolov was their liaison with Moscow, but due to circumstances, he could no longer fulfill his role. He was replaced by Fisher. 12 December 1948 for the first time he met Leontina Cohen. The contribution of William Genrikhovich to the delivery of the most valuable information on the creation of nuclear weapons is huge. Mark was in touch with the most responsible "atomic" agents of the USSR. They were citizens of America, but they understood that in order to save the future of the planet, it was necessary to preserve nuclear parity. It is also possible that Soviet scientists would create an atomic bomb without the assistance of intelligence officers. However, the mined materials significantly accelerated the work, it was possible to avoid unnecessary research, time, effort and money, so necessary for a ruined country.

From Fisher's story about the last business trip to the States: “In order for a foreigner to receive a visa to the USA, he needs to undergo a long, thorough check. For us, this path was unfit. I had to enter the country as an American citizen who had returned from a tourist trip ... In the United States, they have long been proud of the inventors, so I became one. Invented and made devices in the field of color photography, took pictures, multiplied them. My friends saw the results in the workshop. Lifestyle led a modest, did not get the car, did not pay taxes, did not register as a voter, but, of course, did not tell anyone about it. On the contrary, he spoke for acquaintances as an expert in financial matters. ”

20 December 1949 of the year resident of the Soviet Union, William Fisher was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. And in the middle of 1950 in connection with the possible disclosure, the Cohen spouses were taken out of America. Work on the atomic area was suspended, but Fisher remained in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no exact information about what he did for the next seven years and what information he obtained for our country. In 1955, the colonel asked the authorities to give him leave - his close friend, Rudolf Abel, died in Moscow. Being in the capital made a depressing impression on the intelligence officer - most of those with whom he worked during the war were in prisons or camps, the immediate superior Lieutenant General Pavel Sudoplatov was under investigation as an accomplice of Beria, and he was threatened with capital punishment. Fly away from Russia, Fisher said to the mourners: "Perhaps this is my last trip." Premonitions are rarely deceived.

On the night of June 25 of 1957, Mark was renting a room at the Latham Hotel in New York. Here he successfully conducted another communication session, and at dawn three FBI agents broke into him. And although William was able to get rid of the received telegram and cipher, the "feds" found in him some items related to intelligence activities. After that, on the move, they offered Fisher to cooperate with them, avoiding any arrest. Soviet resident flatly refused and was detained for illegal entry into the country. In handcuffs, he was taken out of the room, put in a car and transported to an immigration camp in Texas.

In March, 1954, in the United States, Reino Heyhanen was sent to the United States as an illegal radio operator. This intelligence was a psychologically unstable person. His lifestyle and morals raised fears from Fisher, who for three years had asked the Center to withdraw the agent. Only in the fourth year his appeal was satisfied. In May, 1957 of the year Heikhanen decided to return. However, having reached Paris, Raynaud unexpectedly went to the American embassy. Soon, on a military plane, he was already flying to testify in the United States. Of course, almost immediately found out about this at Lubyanka. And for some reason they did not take any measures to save Fisher. Moreover, he was not even informed about the incident.

“Mark” immediately knew who had passed it. Unlock in that he is a scout from the USSR, it did not make sense. Fortunately, the real name of the colonel was known only to a very narrow circle of people, and Reino Heyhanen did not enter it. Fearing that the Americans would start a radio game on his behalf, William Fisher decided to impersonate another person. On reflection, he settled on the name of the late friend of Rudolf Abel. Perhaps he believed that when information about the capture of a spy will be known to the public, at home they will be able to understand exactly who is in a US prison.

7 August 1957 of Abel was charged with three counts: stay without registration in the United States as a spy of a foreign state (five years in prison), a conspiracy to collect atomic and military information (ten years in prison), a conspiracy to transfer the USSR the above information (death sentence). 14 October in a federal court in New York began a public hearing on the case of the United States v. Rudolf Abel. The name of the scout has become known not only in America, but throughout the world. On the very first day of the TASS meeting, a statement was made that among the Soviet agents there is no man by the name of Abel. For several months, both before and after the trial, Fisher was tried to be turned over, inclined to betrayal, promising all sorts of life benefits. After this failed, they began to intimidate the scout with an electric chair. But it did not break him. He did not say a word, nor did he give out a single agent, and this was an unprecedented feat in stories intelligence. At the risk of his life, Fisher declared: “Under no circumstances will I cooperate with the United States government and will do anything to save my life that could harm the country.” In court, from a professional point of view, he kept himself ideally, he answered all questions about guilty plea with a categorical refusal, refused to testify. It should be noted lawyer William Genrikhovich - James Britt Donovan, who served in intelligence during the war. He was a very conscientious and intelligent man, who had done his best, first to protect Mark, and later to exchange him.

October 24 1957 th year, James Donovan made a brilliant defensive speech. It is worth quoting one passage from it: “... If this person is really who our government considers him to be, then this means that in the interests of his state he performed a very dangerous task. We send with such tasks only the most intelligent and brave people from among the military personnel of our country. You also know that everyone who accidentally met the defendant, involuntarily gave him the highest appreciation of moral qualities ... ".

One of the latest photos of Colonel FisherA jury found Fisher guilty. Mark had only one percent to avoid a death sentence, but according to the laws of the United States between the jury’s verdict and the final verdict of the judge, it could take quite a long time. 15 November 1957 of the year Donovan appealed to the judge, asking him not to impose the death penalty. A far-sighted lawyer cited one very convincing reason: “It is quite likely that in the near future an American agent of a similar rank will be captured in Soviet Russia or in her ally country ... In this case, the exchange of prisoners in accordance with the national interests of the United States can be organized through diplomatic channels. ” Fortunately, the judge also turned out to be a reasonable person, instead of the electric chair, William Fisher received thirty-two years in prison. Upon learning of the sentence, the Soviet side decided to start the struggle for the release of its intelligence officer. Or maybe they were afraid at the top that Fisher would not stand up with time and decided to share important information with the Americans.

In March, 1958, after Fisher's conversation with Allen Dulles, the Soviet intelligence officer was allowed to begin correspondence with the family. Saying goodbye, the director of the CIA told lawyer Donovan: "I would like to have three or four such intelligence officers in Moscow." However, he had a very poor idea of ​​who the Russian spy was in reality. Otherwise, Dulles would have understood that in the Soviet Union only one intelligence officer of this level is enough for him.

After long delays, the United States Department of Justice allowed Fisher to correspond with his wife and daughter. She had a general character about family affairs, state of health. The very first letter to his home, William Genrikhovich, ended with the words: “With love, your husband and father, Rudolph”, making it clear how to apply to him. The Americans did not like much in the messages; they rightly assumed that the Soviet agent was using them for operational purposes. 28 June 1959, the same Ministry issued an unconstitutional decision to ban Fisher from communicating with anyone outside of America. The reason was very simple - the correspondence does not meet the national interests of the United States. However, Donovan's stubborn struggle gave results, Fisher was forced to allow communication. Later, the “German cousin Rudolph”, a certain Jurgen Drives from the GDR, and in fact foreign intelligence officer Yuri Drozdov entered the correspondence. All communication went through Donovan and a lawyer in East Berlin, the Americans were very cautious and thoroughly checked both the lawyer and the “relative”.

The development of events accelerated after 1 of May 1960 of the year in the Sverdlovsk region was shot down by a reconnaissance aircraft U-2. His pilot, Francis Harry Powers, was captured, and the USSR accused the United States of carrying out espionage activities. President Eisenhower in response offered to recall Abel. In the American media, the first calls began to exchange Powers for Rudolph. “New York Daily News” wrote: “It can be said for sure that for our government Rudolf Abel is of no value as a source of information about the activities of the Reds. After the Kremlin squeezes out all the possible information from Powers, their exchange is quite natural ... ". In addition to public opinion, the Powers family and lawyers also put strong pressure on the president. Intensified and Soviet intelligence. After Khrushchev gave the official consent to the exchange, Drives and a lawyer from Berlin, through Donovan, began trading with the Americans, which stretched for almost two years. The CIA understood perfectly well that a professional intelligence officer "weighs" much more than a pilot. They managed to convince the Soviet side to release, in addition to Powers, a student of Frederick Prior, who was detained in August 1961 in East Berlin for espionage, and Marvin Makinen, who is in prison in Kiev.

110 years ago was born the legendary Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Ivanovich Abel (William Fricher)
In the photo, he is visiting colleagues from the GDR in 1967.

To organize such "appendages" was very difficult. The intelligence services of the GDR did a great service, giving the Pryer domestic intelligence.

After spending five and a half years in the federal correctional prison in Atlanta, Fisher not only survived, but also managed to force investigators, lawyers, even American criminals to respect themselves. A well-known fact, when imprisoned, a Soviet agent painted in oil a whole gallery of paintings. There is evidence that Kennedy took his portrait and hung it in the Oval Hall.

10 February 1962, several cars drove up from both sides to the Gliniki Bridge, which separates East and West Berlin. Just in case, a squad of GDR border guards hid nearby. When the radio signal was received on the transfer of the Pryer to the Americans (Makinen was released a month later), the main exchange began. William Fisher, Pilot Powers, as well as representatives of both sides converged on the bridge and completed the agreed procedure. Representatives confirmed that they were waiting for them. Having exchanged looks, Fisher and Powers dispersed. An hour later, William Genrikhovich was surrounded by his relatives, who had flown specially to Berlin, and the next morning went to Moscow. At parting, the Americans forbade him to enter their country. However, Fisher did not intend to return.

When asked about the main task of intelligence, William Genrikhovich once answered: “We are looking for someone else's secret plans that are turned against us in order to take the necessary countermeasures. Our intelligence policy is defensive in nature. The CIA has a completely different way of working - to create prerequisites and situations in which military actions by their armed forces become permissible. This administration organizes uprisings, interventions, coups. I declare with full responsibility: we do not deal with such matters. ”

After rest and recovery, Fisher returned to work in intelligence, participated in the preparation of a new generation of illegal agents, traveled to Hungary, Romania and the GDR. At the same time, he constantly sent letters requesting the release of Pavel Sudoplatov, who was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. In 1968, Fisher starred with an opening speech in the film Dead Season. He organized performances in institutions, factories, even on collective farms.

The title of Hero of the Soviet Union was not given to Fisher, like many other intelligence officers. This was not accepted, the authorities were afraid of information leakage. After all, the Hero is additional papers, additional instances, superfluous questions.

William Genrikhovich Fisher died 15 on November 1971 in his sixty-eighth year of life. The real name of the legendary scout did not immediately disclose. The obituary written in the “Red Star” read: “... Being abroad in difficult, difficult conditions of R.I. Abel showed rare patriotism, endurance and perseverance. He was awarded three Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Star, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor and other medals. Until the last days he remained in the battle post. "

Without a doubt, William Fisher (aka Rudolf Abel) is an outstanding agent of the Soviet era. An extraordinary man, a fearless and modest domestic intelligence intelligence man, lived his life with amazing courage and dignity. Very many episodes of his activities still remain in the shadows. With many cases, the secrecy has long been removed. However, some of the stories against the background of already known information seem routine, others are very difficult to recover entirely. Documentary evidence of the work of William Fisher scattered on a pile of archive folders and put them together, to restore all the events - painstaking and long work.

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  1. omsbon
    omsbon 11 July 2013 09: 42
    he constantly sent letters requesting the release of Pavel Sudoplatov, sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

    Great scout and wonderful person!
    His memory will remain for many, many years!
    1. xetai9977
      xetai9977 11 July 2013 13: 37
      Man-legend without exaggeration !!! During my childhood, the idol of youth and the pride of the people.
  2. Terrible ensign
    Terrible ensign 11 July 2013 11: 07
    Thank you for the article!..
    The most complete, informative and consistent presentation of the life of an excellent intelligence officer (compared to articles, journalistic stories, etc. in other sources). Is there any interesting book about William Genrikhovich? .. Colleagues, recommend it.
  3. Oberst_71
    Oberst_71 11 July 2013 14: 02
    This is really an indicator, not a ki like Penkovsky and Rezun
  4. pensioner
    pensioner 11 July 2013 14: 53
    Yeah ... Man-legend. A symbol of courage and devotion to duty. Not every country has had such and is. Not in every one.
  5. valokordin
    valokordin 11 July 2013 16: 11
    Quote: retired
    Yeah ... Man-legend. A symbol of courage and devotion to duty. Not every country has had such and is. Not in every one.

    Such a person could only be a convinced communist, brought up in the spirit of deep devotion to the Soviet motherland, which can not be said about the current ones, concerned only with the presence of a bank account. If you compare Fisher, Kvachkov, and, beloved by the authorities, Serdyuk and Chubais, you immediately feel a big difference.
    1. ded10041948
      ded10041948 11 July 2013 19: 30
      Listen, that’s what I did not expect from you, these are comparisons of heroes and patriots with these ... You have to be more careful!
  6. nemec55
    nemec55 11 July 2013 17: 15
    The father of our hero, Heinrich Matteus Fischer, was born on the Andreevskoe estate of the Yaroslavl province in a family of German citizens who worked for the local prince Kurakin

    Where is this monkey
    Tykta (2) RU July 9, 2013 13:38 p.m. ↑

    Was Hitler German for sure? or not? Are you definitely a German? and then one named German and by occupation, the Fuhrer has already radically solved troubles with our people ... you will be the same as I understand it - but you are not a fascist, you are enemies of the Russians, the history of world wars confirms this.

    1. nemec55
      nemec55 11 July 2013 17: 34
      The Germans living in Russia have always been famous for their devotion to the motherland
  7. The comment was deleted.
  8. ded10041948
    ded10041948 11 July 2013 19: 37
    And with whom did Lonsdale (Conrad Young) work? In some publication (I do not remember the source), information slipped that Abel oversaw the legalization of Young in Canada. If anyone in the subject - make it clear, do not let die an idiot!
  9. mithridate
    mithridate 11 July 2013 23: 38
    patriot is not in words. but in fact