Military Review

Fedor and Martha

Fedor and MarthaThe global economic crisis that broke out in 1929 – 1932 showed the fragility of the order existing in the world, since individual countries, primarily Germany, Italy and Japan, began to look for a way out of the unfavorable economic and foreign policy situation on the path of revenge and aggression. In a whole series of European states — in Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, Finland, and others — frankly fascist and authoritarian regimes were established. Europe was a serious hotbed of tension that could at any time lead to a new world war.

With the advent of Hitler to power in 1933, Germany began to establish a new order in Europe, envisioning the conquest of living space in the East, revising in its favor the colonial division of the world that emerged as a result of the First World War. Hitler's plans went far beyond the revision of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which deprived Germany of all its colonies, curtailed its territory and limited sovereignty, including the right to have significant armed forces. Hitler was obsessed with the establishment of Germanic world domination and turned his attention primarily to the East.

In connection with the aggravation of the domestic political situation in Germany at the beginning of the 1930-s, the head of foreign intelligence Arthur Artuzov decided to strengthen the work in the country from illegal positions. Illegal intelligence officer Fedor Karpovich Parparov, who had previously worked in Germany, was sent to Berlin.

Fedor Parparov was born on November 23 1893, in the town of Velizh, Vitebsk Province. Passed exams for six classes of the gymnasium. From 14 for years, he worked as an apprentice at a forest export company in Riga, then as a clerk at the People's Bank in St. Petersburg. In August, 1918, he returned to his native Velizh. There, in November of the same year, he became a member of the RCP (b), worked as head of the city committee committee of the party.

In April 1919, Parparov volunteered for the Red Army. He served as a Red Army man, political inspector, head of the political department of the 5 Army Political Department, then Commissar of the Division Headquarters and Commissar of the Army Engineering Directorate. In 1920, Parparov was demobilized from the army due to illness. He worked as deputy head of the administrative department of the People's Commissariat of Education, then in the trust “Mossukno”. In 1924, he graduated from the Law Faculty of Moscow State University. At the same time actively studying German.

At the beginning of 1925, Parparov was hired by the Commissariat of Foreign Trade and in February of that year, as an excellent master of the German language, he was sent to the Soviet trade mission in Germany. Working in the trade mission, he was attracted to cooperate with the Berlin OGPU foreign intelligence station. In 1929, the Center decided to withdraw Parparov to Moscow for retraining and subsequent withdrawal to Germany through illegal intelligence.


In the 1930 year, Parparov returned to Berlin with his wife and son, where, according to a legend developed at the Center, he declared himself a defector, declaring a break with the Soviet authorities. Soon he received a residence permit, first as a stateless person, and then acquired a Romanian passport. To legalize its activities, Parparov opened an export office in Berlin. Later, they opened branches of their company in several European countries, as well as in North Africa, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, which created a reliable cover for reconnaissance trips.

After the completion of the legalization measures, the scout reported to Moscow about his readiness to begin combat work. Later, the Center created under his leadership an agent group, which was then deployed into an independent illegal residency. A number of sources that had access to secret materials of the German Foreign Ministry and the leadership of the Nazi Party (National Socialist Workers' Party) were transferred to communicate with the intelligence officer.

Having settled in Berlin as a medium-sized businessman, Parparov looked like a completely successful young entrepreneur at the same time engaged in journalism. But even from this point of view, it was problematic to make stable contacts among politicians interested in intelligence, high military and civilian officials. Parparov decided to try to reach these people through their technical staff. To this end, he placed the following announcement in one of the Berlin newspapers in the middle of 1931: “A young entrepreneur is looking for a partner to spend time together and help in journalistic work. Full confidentiality is guaranteed. ”

Two weeks later, a letter arrived in the name of the scout. In it, an unfamiliar woman wrote: “I would like to meet you if you possess such modesty as you promise. I am from the best of Berlin society, where I will gladly introduce you when we meet. I am married, but very often I am alone, because I am too honest. You have to decide whether you want to meet me. As soon as you answer, you will find out who I am. Of course, trust is necessary. ”

The proposal was promising. The scout was particularly interested in the words about belonging to "the best Berlin society", and he decided to act. Parparov called the telephone number indicated in the letter and made an appointment.

And so the young people met at the cafe, feeling a little awkward about the unusual way of dating. But she quickly passed. A lively conversation ensued, which lasted for quite a while. An elegant, pretty woman of years 30 frankly told a complete stranger about her life, about her family, about Berlin society. Touching her husband, she noted his callousness, dryness and stinginess, as well as the constant employment of official affairs. At the end of the conversation, after a little hesitation, the woman admitted that her husband was a responsible official of the German Foreign Ministry, one of Ribbentrop's assistants.

Naturally, the scout immediately had a question: why does this lady so artlessly reveal his soul to him? Is there a trap here, is everything clean? But the sincerity of the interlocutor, her behavior and manner of holding spoke in her favor. And Parparov decided to continue the acquaintance. Young people began to meet, and soon friendly relations established between them, and a steady feeling of trust arose.

Fyodor and Marta - so these two will henceforth be referred to in correspondence with the central apparatus of foreign intelligence and will remain under these names forever in archival affairs. So we will call them.

From conversations with Martha, the intelligence officer learned that she suffers from loneliness in connection with her husband's regular business trips. In addition, from time to time she is constrained in funds due to a certain husbandness of stinginess and is counting on additional earnings.

The center reacted very discreetly to Fedor’s contact with a German woman. “In the relationship with Martha, be careful, continue her development, but do not go for recruitment until the verification activities. Do not show interest in her husband and his work, in his documents. Create an impression with Martha that she interests you primarily as a woman, as well as a possible assistant in your journalistic activities, ”recommended in an operational letter from Moscow.

In the meantime, in conversations with Martha, Fedor increasingly touched on political issues related to the situation in Germany, Europe and the world. His interlocutor also showed a keen interest in these issues. In Fedor’s judgments and assessments, she found answers to many of the questions that were troubling her. His words were strikingly different from what her husband and his colleagues said to her. Martha believed that Fyodor needed her marks for his journalistic work. Soon it became clear to the operative that a German woman could become a serious source of political information and would agree to the transfer of her husband’s materials.


Martha’s test gave positive results. Information about her possible cooperation with the German intelligence services was not received. In the verification report, Martha Fyodor wrote to the Center: “She is a little over 30 years old, she was born in one of the cities on the Rhine into the family of a large merchant. She graduated from the conservatory, and then with the aim of improvement attended music courses. Loves to play music at home. After the death of her father, Martha with her mother and sister spent the summer months in the southern resorts of Germany. There she met her future husband, a middle-aged diplomat, a typical Prussian official. People who know Martha describe her as a cheerful, sociable person who loves to have fun, but within the limits allowed by etiquette. She knows her worth and enjoys a good reputation. It is characterized by inspiration and vitality. About such women, the Germans usually say: "Easy to live, but not frivolous."

Despite the fact that Martha was the wife of a high-ranking German diplomat, the Center was not in a hurry to assign tasks to the intelligence officer on organizing access to the documents available to her husband. Meanwhile, the meeting of the operative with the German continued, Martha’s confidence in Fedor grew. Soon, Fedor reported to the Center: “Relations with Martha were considerably strengthened, but it is difficult to grasp their shades because of extreme caution on our part.”

Meanwhile, Martha told Fyodor that during one of the international conferences attended by her husband, the head of the German delegation asked her to help in a delicate matter: she had, under a specious excuse, invited a separate foreigner to a pre-rented room in a restaurant with a briefcase of secret documents. These documents are very interested in the Germans. Martha coped with the errand. German intelligence services poured a sleeping pill into a glass of a foreigner’s wine, he fell asleep, and his documents were photographed and returned to the place. Fearing exposure, the foreigner was forced to support Germany’s position in voting on the issue of lifting restrictions on the armaments of her army, as stipulated by the Versailles Treaty.

The source of the Berlin residency Martha.

Martha’s husband, as it turned out, was aware of this operation, but obviously didn’t really value his wife’s honor if he agreed that she would take on the dubious role of the bait. This circumstance Martha. Later, however, she used these skills to gather information surrounded by her husband and at times obtained extremely valuable information for Fedor.

In one of the operational letters to the Center Fedor pointed out: “Family life is Martha, and therefore she is looking for satisfaction in any activity. The husband is stingy, and the lack of personal funds is beyond doubt, which she often speaks about. Once she asked to give her money to buy a coat. Issued 150 marks. The achieved level of relations allows us to raise the question of gradually drawing it into work in our interests. I asked her to find out the information of economic nature that we are interested in. She reported on the content of an unofficial report on this issue, seen from a journalist friend. ”

Soon, Fyodor, on the pretext of assisting him in journalistic work, asked Martha to prepare a review based on her husband's materials for the League of Nations session, in which he participated as a member of the German delegation. She compiled the corresponding certificate and handed it to the operative. Information sent to Moscow received a positive assessment of the Center. In the conclusion of the Center it was noted: “Preliminary acquaintance with the first materials received from Martha testifies that we are dealing, apparently, with a serious source.”


After some time, the Center authorized the recruitment of a German under a “foreign flag”. She easily agreed with Fedor’s proposal to earn some money on selling her husband’s documents to a foreign state. Soon, Marta was recruited to the flag of Japan. In a report to the Center, the operative wrote: “Without her resistance, they agreed that Martha would withdraw the documents from her husband’s file or rewrite them ... She was given 400 marks for treatment.”

In order to enhance safety in his work, Fedor discussed with Martha the possibility of photographing the documents of her husband, which he took home for work. A camera was purchased and Fedor taught a German woman to use it. For the legend of the presence of her camera, Martha began to talk to others about her passion for photographing.

Meanwhile, the Nazis came to power in Germany, who launched a massive preparation for war. The information received from Martha unequivocally indicated that the main goal of German aggression in Europe would be the Soviet Union. In this regard, the documentary materials received from it became more and more important.

Martha’s husband was directly subordinate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended meetings of the ministry’s leadership, and at times meetings with Hitler. He got acquainted with the directive documents of the Third Reich. Often the husband shared with Marta his problems, showed individual papers and discussed their contents with her. If earlier Martha did not delve into the essence of those or other official documents that fell into her hands, she now tried to memorize their content or write down the most important thing.

Martha did not accept fascism, she was critical of her husband’s cooperation with the Hitler regime, dictated, first of all, by careerist considerations. From the Germans continued to receive valuable information about Hitler's foreign policy plans. By the nature of service, Marta's husband participated in all international conferences attended by the German delegation. To the great joy of her husband, Martha began to accompany him on foreign trips. She used these trips to obtain relevant information that was of particular importance to Moscow.

During one of these international meetings abroad, the secret materials of the German delegation were placed in a safe box, access to which was restricted. There was a safe in the apartments reserved for Martha and her husband. Marta managed to make a duplicate key and, taking advantage of every opportunity, retrieved documents and copied them, rewriting them by hand. She was, like Caesar's wife, beyond suspicion.

Warned about the upcoming trip of Martha and her husband abroad, Fyodor served in advance there for the selection of places of secret meetings with the source. Having done this work, he returned to Berlin and carefully worked out with Martha the conditions for a meeting in a city unfamiliar to her.

The political atmosphere in Europe continued to deteriorate. The center increasingly assessed Martha’s information as “very important and interesting.” It was decided to transfer work with her to the “Soviet flag” in order to pose to the German informational issues directly affecting the interests of the USSR. Fedor prepared himself very carefully for this conversation, but Martha reacted quite calmly to his confession about working for Soviet intelligence.


After some time, Martha's husband was appointed to the post of ambassador to one of the European countries. Fyodor was to prepare Martha for the transfer to another operator. However, she categorically refused to meet with a stranger. Communication with Martha for some time was carried out during the periods of her visits to Berlin or Fyodor's visits to other European capitals. In this regard, meetings began to be irregular, which adversely affected the operational results of working with her.

Tensions in Europe and, in particular, in Germany increased. Europe stood on the threshold of World War II. Information about the intentions of Hitler's Germany was necessary for the Soviet leadership, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain it. As a result of mass repressions unleashed in Moscow, the Soviet foreign intelligence was paralyzed. Was recalled to Moscow and Fedor. Later on a false accusation of collaborating with the Gestapo, he was arrested and thrown into prison, where he was tortured and beaten. The connection with Martha has been lost.

To restore contact with a German, an experienced intelligence officer Vardo, Elizaveta Zarubina, the wife of a prominent Soviet intelligence officer, illegal Vasily Zarubin, was sent to Berlin. The choice of the Center was not accidental: Vardo had extensive experience in France and Germany. She brought a letter from Fedor, written by him in the internal prison of the NKVD in Lubyanka. However, Martha suspected that the letter was not written by an operator, as it was typed: Yezhov's Kostolomes injured Fyodor’s hands, and he could not write. Martha, in an ultimatum form, demanded that Vardo immediately call Fyodor to Berlin to meet with her.

Of course, this requirement could not be fulfilled, so Vardo told Martha that Fedor was going to be sent to work in a country from which he would not be able to come to Berlin for several years. Martha replied that she believed mostly only Fedor and was afraid of the carelessness of new people. Nevertheless, Vardo managed to convince the German woman of the security of her meetings. Played a role and that the scout spoke fluent German. The flow of important information from the source resumed.

Unfortunately, this did not last long. Martha still demanded a meeting with Fedor and gradually began to shy away from contact with the scout. A steady relationship with this most valuable source of information was established only after Martha received her own letter from Fedor. In the letter Fedor asked her not to worry, to believe Vardo and not to refuse contact with her. Marta continued her collaboration with Soviet intelligence, her information was highly appreciated in Moscow. In one of the letters sent by her to the Center for Fedor and preserved in the archives of foreign intelligence, Martha wrote: “I work in the most difficult conditions, I work like an automaton. But if I get discouraged, I can lose my activity. ”

In another letter, she noted: “They want to use her husband again at work in the central office of the Foreign Ministry, and this will give us a lot more and will be much more important than his current post abroad. Until now, everything was fine. And then everything will be fine. You just have to be smarter ... I am very pleased that Molotov visited Berlin. It would be terrible if conflicts arose between our countries that would lead to war. I hope that a good relationship will resume. ”

However, these hopes of Martha were not justified.


The attack of Hitler's Germany on the Soviet Union forever broke the connection of the German with the Soviet intelligence. On the eve of this event, Vardo handed over the emergency conditions to Marta, but no one ever used them.

For a long time Martha’s fate was unknown. Only after the war did Alexander Korotkov, a resident of the NKVD foreign intelligence in Germany, establish that during one of the bombings of Berlin by the British aviation her broken psyche could not stand it. Martha fell ill, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, from where she had not left.

В historical Chronicles of Soviet intelligence Marta remained one of the brightest sources of critical information on the eve of World War II. She deserves the kindest memory.

As for Parparov, after being sent back to Moscow in 1937, he went on a business trip to Holland, where he established contact with a former intelligence officer of one of the western countries in Germany. A foreigner was attracted by Parparov to work in the Soviet Union. The source received very important materials, which covered mainly the construction of military ships, airfields and landing sites in Germany.

At the beginning of 1938, in connection with the betrayal of Walter Krivitsky, Parparov returned to Moscow. 27 of May of that year, he was arrested and was under investigation until June of 1939. The reason for the arrest was his joint work in Berlin with the repressed scouts Boris Gordon and Karl Zilli, as well as the recommendations in his personal file, which were given to him by the senior foreign intelligence officers Terentiy Deribas and Dmitry Smirnov who had previously been shot.

It was only in June, 1939, that Parparov was released from prison on orders from Beria. Strangely enough, Martha's letters to him contributed to this, as well as the fact that she continued, at the request of the operative, to cooperate with Soviet intelligence. The accusations that Fyodor worked with Martha under the Gestapo cap also fell as groundless.

After his release, Parparov worked for some time as a legal adviser at a Moscow factory. In 1940, he was reinstated in the NKVD with the rank of State Security Major, which corresponded to the rank of Army Colonel.

At the end of 1940, Parparov left for Estonia, where he reestablished contact with Elsa, one of his previously recruited agents in the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Elsa reported, in particular, on the concentration of the German armed forces in the south-east direction and gave the scout other valuable information. Of particular importance was information about Germany’s building up its troops on the Yugoslav border, which were then introduced into this country to suppress a popular uprising. This operation delayed the German attack on the Soviet Union for three weeks.

Active work with Elsa continued until the spring of 1941. Later it turned out that Elsa, like Martha, suffered during the bombing of Berlin by British aviation, received a heavy concussion and died in the American occupation zone.

Since the spring of 1941, Parparov, from a legal position, has carried out the responsible mission of the Center in the Baltic. The war found him with his family in Lithuania. It was necessary to evacuate under continuous bombing and under German fire tanks. With great difficulty, the scout reached Moscow. In June 1941, he was enlisted in the Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade for Special Purpose of the 4th Directorate of the NKVD.

In October 1941, Parparov was returned to foreign intelligence and sent to Switzerland by an illegal resident through Iran. However, in April 1943, the scout had problems with a Swiss visa and he was forced to return to Moscow.

Parparov again sent to the 4-th control of the NKVD. He had to work with Field Marshal Paulus, who was (after the defeat of his army at Stalingrad) in captivity in a camp near Suzdal. As a major specialist in Germany, after the war, Parparov participated in the preparation of the Potsdam Conference and the Nuremberg process. At the trial, he presented Field Marshal Paulus to international judges, which caused a sensation among the journalists present. Then he participated in events related to the organization of the occupation authorities in Germany.

In the middle of 1950, Fyodor Karpovich retired. Until his death in 1959, he headed the military department at Moscow State University.

As the author of the essay told the son of Fyodor Parparov, Lev Fedorovich Parparov, who was with his father in Germany and worked at the Nuremberg trial as an interpreter, Fyodor Karpovich, who loved the river and the sea, was embarrassed after the war to appear on public beaches because when he took off his shirt , on his back there were clearly visible scars and streaks from healed wounds. They remained from before the war, when the brave scout was subjected to torture and torture in Yezhov's dungeons.

Lev Fedorovich Parparov worked on a book of memories about his father and actively collected materials related to his work, met with his colleagues and friends. However, he failed to complete the work begun. The premature death resulting from a heart attack in 2001 broke off the job. The book remained unfinished.
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  1. makarov
    makarov 16 November 2013 08: 31
    But about the legendary scout back in Soviet times an art book was published. In childhood, I reread it several times. and even with a flashlight under the covers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name.
    1. kaktus
      kaktus 16 November 2013 08: 45
      and if on book sites to search? I will also see what I find - lay it out. History must not be forgotten good
      1. Gamdlislyam
        Gamdlislyam 16 November 2013 09: 32
        Dear colleagues, this was a book - a collection of articles about scouts. This article is probably written on the basis of materials for a book (unpublished), which was prepared by his son in the 90s. Hence a certain roll of the article, and almost complete lack of information on the activities of Colonel Parparov F.K. during the war years and post-war years.
        Unfortunately, on the SVR website about Parparov there is only a brief reference.
  2. crambol
    crambol 17 November 2013 22: 44
    Damn touching! We must not forget that scouts are also people, and this imposes a particularly heavy burden of responsibility on them - to the homeland and to relatives.