Military Review

The last "trip" of intelligence officer Abel

The last "trip" of intelligence officer Abel

History The life of the Soviet intelligence legend William Fisher (better known as Rudolf Abel) is a plump volume. And although it is full of white pages, the available material will be enough for a dozen of spy television series. Open the book of the life of William Genrikhovich and leaf through it the last few pages.

Buying a tear of an illegal scout

The returning scout is met by friends, colleagues and family. This is a holiday for all of them. A scout is leaving for a "business trip" without a pump. To part with relatives, not even knowing how long the "business trip" will last (and whether he will return home) is an ordeal. Usually, an 1-2 employee escorts him, who know everything, understand everything.

Fisher escorted Pavel Gromushkin. They sat in the car and waited to announce the start of registration on the plane. They worked together with 1938 of the year, understood each other without words. “You know, Pasha,” interrupted William, “I don’t need to go, I guess. I'm tired. So many years ... All the time alone. It's hard for me. And the years ... "-" Be patient, Willy, well, a little more. A year and a half - and everything will be over, ”Gromushkin tried to console his friend, but he stopped himself: a lonely tear ran down the cheek of an illegal alien.

Scouts believe forebodings. More than once, an unconscious sense of danger saved them from failure. It did not deceive William at that time either.
But it was impossible not to go.

Atomic resident

During 1948-1957, Fisher was a resident of Soviet intelligence in the United States. He was the central figure of a network of intelligence officers and recruited agents who extracted the US nuclear secrets for the USSR. Having blown up an atomic bomb, the Americans did not intend to stop. Created new types of nuclear weapons, modified the old, improved means of delivery.

The USSR joined the atomic race and literally attacked the Americans on the heels. The scouts also participated in this “marathon”. The Soviet genius Kurchatov (a genius without quotes!) Received up to 3.000 pages of information obtained by Soviet intelligence a month. These data helped a war-ravaged country save millions of rubles, avoid research that leads to a dead end and get ready-made results without conducting expensive research. The saved forces, means and time helped the USSR to finally get ahead in this race.

In August, the 1953 of the year in the Semipalatinsk USSR blew up the first hydrogen bomb, and in 1961 - the largest 58 megaton “king bomb” ever exploded. (Its creators, remembering the threat of Khrushchev, among themselves called their offspring "fucking mother.") Most of the information about the successes (and failures) of American scientists during their development of atomic weapons was supplied by the Volunteers group, led by William Fisher (pseudonym Mark ).


Fisher, in fact, organized not one, but two completely independent networks. One included intelligence officers and agents operating in California, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, the other covering the US East Coast. There was also a third network created by him, which is not to be talked about - from future saboteurs. In the event of a war between the USSR and the USA, these agents, divided into groups headed by specialists who had gone through the school of partisan war, should have paralyzed the work of the US seaports. (Fortunately, the invaluable experience of these people was not needed).

Who were these "volunteers"? Overwhelmingly, these were employees of scientific centers and laboratories who worked for the USSR not for money, but by conviction. Someone sympathized with the USSR, and someone understood that only nuclear parity in the possession of nuclear weapons would keep the United States from the temptation to use an atomic bomb against Russia. And they stole nuclear secrets for the Soviets, not taking money for it, but risking their lives, because in case of failure each of them was threatened with an electric chair. Let us pay tribute to these people, whose names we probably will never know ...

Urgent replacement

Soviet scout was very hard. Tense double life for several years! Do not forget, because he had to live a legal life, have a source of income, pay taxes, so as not to become the object of interest of the tax inspectorate. It was she who during the routine check could unearth inconsistencies in his biography. Fischer feared the tax service more than the FBI. William opened a photo studio, wrote and sold paintings, even patented inventions and constantly sent radiograms to the Center with a request to send an assistant, or even better, a replacement.

An experienced security officer, high-class intelligence officer Robert was sent to help Mark. Fisher knew him personally and was preparing for the meeting. But in the Baltic Sea, the ship on which the scout sailed, crashed. Among the few saved Robert was not. I had to urgently look for a backup. In 1952, Marko was sent with his Finnish wife Reino Heikhanen (alias Vic) to help Mark as a radio operator (with the prospect of replacement). Unlike Fisher, Vick had a real American passport, but Vick turned rotten inside.

Rotten inside

Anxiously, William began to notice that his assistant was breaking down, drinking, wasting money, becoming increasingly negligent about his work. He was clearly not fit for service in illegal intelligence. Vic was not just useless, he was becoming dangerous. By the Kheikhanen couple, the police had already been called several times by the neighbors: the family scandals of the spouses were becoming more and more noisy.

Raynaud himself was delivered to the police several times drunk, and once he even lost the “container” - the coin inside which the microdot was stored (the 1 microfilm frame). Among illegal immigrants, it is not customary to “knock” on their own, but there was simply no way out. Fisher sends a radiogram: “Call off the liaison!”

Vika was sent a radiogram that he was awarded an order and promoted in rank. For the presentation of the order and retraining of his cause in Moscow. Vic sits on the ship and goes on a long voyage with transfers and change of passports on the route Le Havre - Paris - West Berlin - Moscow. May 1 Mark received a radiogram that Vic arrived in Paris, will leave for Germany tomorrow and will be in Moscow in a few days. But Vick did not go anywhere from Paris, but went straight to the American embassy.


The first reaction of the employees of the American Embassy was to call the police. Dirty-dressed, foul-smelling, obviously drunk visitor claimed that he was a Soviet agent and demanded a meeting with the ambassador. All this looked like a badly concocted provocation. But the information given to the surface did not leave any doubts - this chronic alcoholic who looks like a homeless man really has to do with espionage. The ambassador accepted him.

The initial joy of an unexpected gift of fate was quickly replaced by disappointment: Vick had worthwhile information “the cat cried”. Fisher entrusted no agent, no address, no mailbox to the drunken Vika. Even Vic knew a minimum about his patron: the pseudonym that he had recently been promoted to the rank of colonel, was engaged in photography, lived in New York, and could indicate the area of ​​supposed residence. District plus a verbal portrait - it was already something.

Hunting resident

The FBI began methodically combing the area. Soon the FBI learned: Mark is Emil Goldfus, the owner of a photo studio in Brooklyn. It turned out that the Soviet resident lived almost opposite the FBI office. During the inspection of the apartment, a radio transmitter, microfilm, containers (bolts, pencils, cufflinks with hollowed out entrails) were found. But Mark himself was not in the apartment. The studio was installed around the clock surveillance, but the owner of the apartment did not appear. Still not knowing about the failure, Mark cut off the only thread leading to him - he moved out of the photo studio. But one day he came back to pick up something that he greatly valued.

Meeting that did not take place

Illegal scouts often work as married couples. Having a partner is not only a strong psychological support, but a solution to certain problems of a physiological nature. If the scout is working alone, the burden of loneliness is added to the hard life while waiting for the arrest.

One day, Mark's associate Yuri Sokolov, who worked under diplomatic cover, received a strange task: to test the resident, find out how he has with women? And in the course of the next meeting, Sokolov somehow seemed to ask himself this delicate question. Fisher carefully looked at the liaison officer: “Yura, did the authorities in Moscow change?” - “Yes, but where did you find out?” - “Just when the authorities change, they always ask me the same question. Tell Moscow that I have no one. I love my wife and is faithful to her. ”

And then Mark asked to arrange a meeting with his wife in some cafe. She will be in one corner, he will be in another, he will simply look at her, and that’s all. But then he interrupted himself: “No, not necessary. After all, I want to talk to her, take her hand. You will arrange a meeting for us at a safe house, and this is already dangerous. Forget everything I asked for. ”

So, the piercing scene of the meeting between Stirlitz and his wife in a cafe is not from Fisher’s biography. In fact, the illegal intelligence officer did not even have the right to do so.

But Fisher was brought letters from his wife and daughter on rolled-up pieces of tissue paper, which he read was obliged to burn. Contrary to all instructions, Fisher kept the letters. Behind them, he returned to his apartment. Who dares to blame him for this? ..

Invisible Man

Despite the observation, Mark managed to get into the apartment unnoticed. I must say that it was already his [b] second visit the apartment.

The script for the film “Dead Season” Vladimir Weinstock was simply taken aback when Fisher with a tangerine string came to him in the intensive care unit, where he lay after the operation. The entrance to the intensive care unit by unauthorized persons was strictly prohibited. Quarantine! The wife, who worked as a doctor in a nearby department, could not get through. Fisher could. Without noise, without crying, he went through all three posts. It was a professional who simply could go everywhere unnoticed.

Fatal accident

On his first visit, Fisher delivered a portable receiver and documents that he considered for himself not entitled to leave. If these documents fell into the hands of the FBI, the people who obtained the information would pay for it with their lives. Having secured his “volunteers”, Fisher found it possible to do something for himself. He neatly opened the cache in the apartment, but the container with the letters fell out and went off somewhere. For several minutes the scout crawled, searched for him - and could not find him. He turned on the light for a few seconds, but that was enough. At the exit, the FBI agents recorded Mark and led Fisher to his room at the Latham Hotel. When Mark's photo was shown to Heyhanen, he said: “Yes, this is it.”


The FBI followed Mark for several days, hoping that he would lead them to his agents, but the Soviet intelligence officer did not meet with anyone. 21 June 1957 of the year in 7: Morning 20, in the same place in the hotel, Fisher was arrested. The Soviet intelligence officer did not lose his presence of mind and began to gather. Having received permission to take with him supplies for painting, he put brushes, paints and a palette in his bag, which he cleaned beforehand. A piece of paper on which he scrubbed paint, sent to the toilet. This leaflet was not the first to come to hand. On it was recorded the text taken at night, but not yet decoded radiogram. So literally in front of the FBI Fisher managed to destroy evidence.

To the first question, “Your name?”, The Soviet intelligence officer answered: “Abel. Rudolf Ivanovich.

Why Fisher Became Abel

Rudolf Ivanovich Abel was a close friend of William G. Fisher. They worked together, were friends of families. In Moscow, waiting for a radiogram from Mark, but she was not there. But a message appeared in the American press “Soviet spy Rudolf Abel was arrested!” This was a message from Mark: “I am arrested”. There were very few people who knew about the existence of a scout named Abel. In the United States, there was only one - William Fisher.

The message was the second message: "I will be silent." An arrested intelligence officer, ready to surrender one and all, will not conceal such nonsense as his name. In Moscow, everyone understood and decided: "We will pull out." But Soviet intelligence officer William Fisher returned home almost 5 years later and not under his own name.

Luck Fisher - Advocate Donovan

In all cases, the captured Soviet intelligence officer fell electric chair. Abel himself did not doubt it. But the American order demanded a trial. New York lawyer James Donovan, a former intelligence officer, Captain III, undertook to defend the arrested Soviet intelligence officer.

It was a great success. Unlike his bloodthirsty colleagues, Donovan believed that in the future the Soviet intelligence officer could be bargained with the Soviets and therefore intended to seriously fight for the preservation of the life of his client. Two intelligence officers - one acting, the second retired - quickly found a language with each other.

For the sake of justice, we note that until recently Don Advocat’s lawyer, recalling his past skills, tried to recruit his client, once again confirming the truth that there are no former intelligence officers.

The FBI agents who arrested Abel appealed to him "Mr. Colonel", and Mark immediately knew who had issued it. In the US, only two people knew about his promotion: he himself and Vick who informed him about it. Having studied the realities of American life, Abel proposed to Donovan to build a defense against discrediting the main witness for the prosecution Heikhanen.

Court - 1

The selected line of defense was correct. On the one hand - an honest officer. Yes, a hostile power, but courageously performing its duty. (We are proud of our guys who are “working” in Moscow!) A faithful husband and loving father. (Donovan read the letters of his wife and daughter — the very ones that became “fatal.”) The photographer and the artist (representatives of the local bohemia just sing the praises) play several musical instruments, a talented inventor (here are the patents). Neighbors - delighted. The police have no complaints. He pays taxes regularly and pays rent.

On the other hand - a traitor, renegade. Tasteless and sloppyly dressed, with illiterate English. An alcoholic who beats his wife (here is the testimony of neighbors). By the way, he is a bigwife, he has another wife and abandoned child in the USSR (here are the references). Slacker who never worked anywhere. 1600 $, on the advice of Abel, paid by Donovan to private investigators, were not wasted. They unearthed the entire background of Heikhanen, who almost burst into tears at the trial.

But still 23 August 12 jury unanimously rendered the verdict "guilty." The sentence did not exclude the death penalty.

Court - 2

Donovan rushed into a new battle. Despite the abundance of evidence, the evidentiary part of the accusation noticeably limped. Yes, spy. But what harm did he do to the United States? Some guesses and assumptions! Vic did not know the essence of the encrypted radiograms transmitted to them. Not a single secret document was found. Who worked for him, what secrets they stole is not known (none of his agents Abel passed). Where is the damage to US national security? Show, I don't see him!

Abel himself was silent during the whole process, did not answer a single question, what led his lawyer alternately to despair, then to rabies. The final sentence is 30 years in prison. After the trial, Abel thanked Donovan and insisted that one of his paintings be presented as a gift to a lawyer.

In prison

The term of the Soviet intelligence officer had to serve in the prison of Atlanta. The prison administration was not at all happy about the eminent prisoner. Abel's personal file was plump and empty at the same time. His personal qualities, his past, even his real name remained unknown. The warden said he feared for the life of the convicted Abel. It is even possible that the American convicts out of a sense of patriotism will score the Russian spy to death.

The fears of the chief did not materialize. On the very first day, Abel's cellmate, the mafia Vincenz Skilante from the Alberto Anastasi family, said that he did not want to share the camera with the comm and demanded that the newcomer be transferred. It is not known what Abel was talking to Vincenzo at night, but in the morning the mafia demanded a bucket of water, a stiff brush and crawled on the cell for several hours on all fours, tearing off the floor. A few days later, the wardens reported to the head of the prison that the criminals showed all new respect to the new superintendent and respectfully called him “Colonel” among themselves.

Soon the "Colonel" became a prominent figure in prison. He drew Christmas cards and distributed them to prisoners, taught them to play bridge, gave lessons in German and French. To the delight of the administration, he painted a portrait of the new President Kennedy.
There is a version that this portrait was later presented to the president and for some time hung in the Oval Office of the White House. Oh, how I want it to be true!

The Return of Colonel Abel

Donovan was a prophet. 1 May 1960, the Soviet air defenses shot down a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, capturing its pilot. The Soviet side, since 1958, offered exchange options, but then it could only offer convicted Nazi criminals, which, naturally, did not suit the Americans. Now there is a serious figure for the exchange. In Leipzig, “Frau Abel” was urgently found, who turned to German lawyer Vogel for mediation in her husband’s release, and he in turn contacted Donovan.

Although Abel remained a mystery to the Americans, they understood that they were in the hands of a high-class scout, not like a spy pilot. There is an opinion about Abel Allen Dulles, director of the CIA (1953-1961): he dreamed "to have at least a couple of Abel-level agents in Moscow." Therefore, for the equivalence of the exchange, the Americans demanded two more arrested agents. Marvin McEnin, who was sitting in Kiev, and Frederick Prior, who was sitting in the GDR, went to the appendage to Powers.

February 10 The 1962 of the Year on the Gliniki Bridge saw the famous exchange of Powers for Abel. Subsequently, the "meetings" on the bridge became regular, and the bridge received the honorary nickname "spy". According to the testimony of those present, the procedure was very accurately reproduced in the movie “Dead Season”. As Donovan wrote in his memoirs, while joyful shouts and exclamations came from the east side, only one person approached Powers and said: “Well, let's go.” Powers only smiled sourly.

So for William G. Fisher ended his last “business trip”, which lasted 14 years.

Life under another's name

William Fisher returned to the USSR Rudolf Abel. So he was represented everywhere, so he went through many documents. Even in the obituary it was said about the death of the outstanding Soviet intelligence officer Rudolf Ivanovich Abel. They even wanted to write “Abel” on the tombstone, but a widow and a daughter rebelled. As a result, they wrote "Fisher" and in brackets "Abel". William Genrikhovich himself was very worried about the loss of his name and did not like it when Rudolf Ivanovich addressed him. Fisher often said that if he knew about the death of a friend (the real Abel died in 1955), he would never have called his name.

Without the right to glory

Among the awards of the Fisher 7 Orders, many medals. Golden Star Hero of the Soviet Union is not. Giving a Hero is extra instances, papers. A scout illegal has no right to once again attract attention. Yes, he came back, but there were others behind the cordon whom he had drawn to work, we must first think about them. Such is the fate of the illegal scout - to remain in obscurity. Declassified during the lifetime of Rudolf Abel (Fisher) - a rare exception. Therefore, among the illegal immigrants are so few heroes and generals. The fighters of the invisible front themselves are people without ambitions, their motto is: “Without the right to glory, to the glory of power.”

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  1. Gamdlislyam
    Gamdlislyam 15 January 2014 10: 24
    Thanks to the author for the article. Article +
    About the scout Abel R.I. I knew from school. Only in the seventies did he recognize his real last name and first name - middle name. Little was written about him at that time, mainly short newspaper articles, or articles in thick magazines. However, this NAME evoked admiration and respect, and even pride.
    With the collapse of the USSR, a huge amount of literature and films appeared dedicated to Fischer VG, but the image of Rudolf Ivanovich Abel that formed in my mind in my youth remained unchanged.
    A low bow to Fisher William Genrikhovich and all those obscure heroes of the Motherland who serve "Without the right to glory, to the glory of the state."
    A wish to the author: Write an article about the pre-American period of Fischen V.G. (and they are not heroic and difficult)
  2. Shadowcat
    Shadowcat 15 January 2014 10: 49
    "As for my informants, I assure you, they are very honest and modest people who perform their duties carefully and do not intend to offend anyone" J.V. Stalin in a letter to W. Churchill
  3. Vova Vartanov
    Vova Vartanov 15 January 2014 13: 27
    Thank you for the material, it is not verbose and tasteful!
  4. Walking
    Walking 15 January 2014 14: 31
    As all the same, the selection of employees in Soviet intelligence was not very well set, along with high-class intelligence agents there were also such as Heinanen, how many good illegal intelligence agents failed because of them. Where did the bosses look at all?
    1. Gamdlislyam
      Gamdlislyam 15 January 2014 15: 22
      Quote: Hiking
      As all the same, the selection of employees in Soviet intelligence was not very well set, along with high-class intelligence agents there were also such as Heinanen, how many good illegal intelligence agents failed because of them. Where did the bosses look at all?

      Dear colleague Vitaly, you probably did not read the article carefully. Prepared for work with Fischer V.G. the courier died tragically. It took time to prepare a new one and implement it in the United States (and this is not months, but years). Reino Heihanen, who was already legalized in the United States (had a real American passport), was sent as a temporary solution to the problem of a liaison. Alas, illegal intelligence is an area of ​​activity where personnel is always in short supply. In addition, take into account the processes that were taking place at that time in the USSR. Khrushchev N.S. came to power, who organized "perestroika" in the country, with the dispersal of the leading personnel of the special services (and the arrest of many of them, imprisonment for long periods, and some were shot), with the reduction of the staff of the law enforcement agencies ( including intelligence), with a sharp cut in the KGB budget. There was a real leapfrog in the leadership of the department, i.e. the leaders were no longer thinking about how best to select and train personnel, about how to stay in their posts. Many personnel (illegal immigrants) fell out of favor (considered unreliable) for having contacts (working) with the so-called "Beria gang".
      1. Khrushchev
        Khrushchev 16 January 2014 03: 08
        Quote: Gamdlislyam
        with the dispersal of the leading cadres of the special services (and the arrest of many of them, landing for long periods, and some were shot),

        did everything right. By the way, the initiator of the executions was not Khrushchev but Zhukov - almost all executions in the case of Beria were carried out by the military collegium of the USSR Armed Forces. So the Beetle cracked down on those who in the past, by scantiness, threatened to grind it into camp dust. And the physical liquidation of the former personnel of the central apparatus of the MGB was stopped just by Khrushch. It is no coincidence that the shipowners turned off the fool only after the removal of Zhukov.
        Quote: Gamdlislyam
        with a sharp cut in the KGB budget

        another lie. Actually, the KGB was created by Khrushchev. How could it be possible to cut down the budget of what the citizen of the modern Soviet Union did not exist before?
  5. Normman
    Normman 15 January 2014 19: 05
    I would like to believe that Fisher’s colleagues are working modestly and neatly for the good of Russia in the West and the East.
    1. I think so
      I think so 15 January 2014 21: 19
      I would like to believe that Fisher’s colleagues are working modestly and neatly in the West and East.

      It’s just not realistic ... in today's Russia ... Most of the agents at that time worked for the idea, but now there is no idea, there is money, and money is a SALE thing, whoever pays the most for that and works ... And a series of recent GREAT Russian failures foreign intelligence confirms this ...
  6. vezunchik
    vezunchik 15 January 2014 20: 45
    Russia is strong in people, regardless of nationality, who consider themselves RUSSIAN! Russian patriots who love their homeland! Unfortunately, there are few such people in the country's leadership ...
  7. Klim podkova
    15 January 2014 21: 06
    From the book by Yu. Drozdov "Notes of the Chief of Illegal Intelligence":

    “I don’t remember now who gave me the leaflet with the poem“ Sheremetyevo ”, from where the illegal scouts sometimes went on assignments and where they returned. And I don’t know if it was written by some poet, or by an illegal who returned to his homeland after completing a combat mission.
    Somewhere in the sky there were high sounds
    As if someone quietly and gently touched the string.
    Oh great happiness - after a long separation
    Return back to your home country.
    To return is not someone, not yesterday's talent,
    Realized the mistakes of the Parisian winter,
    Not forgiven for old age gray-haired emigrant
    And come back from work. From work - home.
    No rains, no blizzards, no hot flames
    Not broke, Russia, your frontiers,
    And high stars rise above the woods,
    And the silver month in the ravine lies.
    In Sheremetyevo Grove - birch, birch.
    Silently the girl is holding a field flower.
    Forgive me, Russia, involuntary tears,
    Just long dreamed of meeting with you.
    26 July 1972