Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kim Philby

Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby (1 January 1912 – 11 May 1988) was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union. A communist, he served as an NKVD and KGB operative.

In 1963, Philby was revealed to be a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, the other members of which were Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing secret information to the Soviet Union. His activities were moderated only by Joseph Stalin's fears that he was secretly on Britain's side. Philby was an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from 1946 to 1965.

Early life
Born in Ambala, Punjab, British India, Philby was the son of St. John Philby, a member of the Indian Civil Service and, later, a civil servant in Mesopotamia, a well-known author, orientalist, convert to Islam, and an advisor to Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia.
Nicknamed "Kim" after the young boy, son of an Irish soldier in Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim, Philby attended Aldro prep school. Following in the footsteps of his father, he continued to Westminster School, which he left in 1928 at the age of 16. He won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read history and economics. Whilst at Cambridge, he was treasurer of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and canvassed for the Labour candidate for Cambridge in the 1931 election. He graduated in 1933 with a 2:1 degree in economics.

London and Spain
In London, Philby enrolled at the School of Slavonic languages to learn Russian, helped by his father, a friend of the director Denzil Ross. The school was well known for training people for a career in diplomacy or the intelligence services. Philby's Russian was never good and he soon took a job at a monthly magazine, the World Review of Reviews, for which he wrote articles and letters (sometimes under pseudonyms) and occasionally served as "acting editor."
In February 1937, Philby travelled to Seville, Spain. At the time, Spain was embroiled in a bloody civil war, triggered by the rebellion of Nationalist forces under General Francisco Franco against the socialist Republican government of President Manuel Azaña. Philby worked at first as a freelance journalist; from May 1937, he served as a correspondent for The Times, reporting from the side of the pro-Franco forces. He was also working for both Soviet and British intelligence; posting letters in a crude code to a fictitious girlfriend Mlle Dupont in Paris for the Russians; and a simpler system for MI6 delivering post at Hendaye, France for the
British Embassy in Paris.

Both services were interested in the combat performance of the new Messerschmitt Bf109s and Panzer I and IIs deployed with Nationalist forces in Spain. He was able to tell the British after a direct question to Franco that German troops would never be permitted to cross Spain to attack Gibraltar.

World War II
In July 1939, Philby returned to the Times office in London. During the Phoney War from September 1939 until the Dunkirk evacuation Philby worked as the Times correspondent with the British Expeditionary Force headquarters. After being evacuated from Boulogne on 21 May, he returned to France in mid-June (now representing the Daily Telegraph in addition to The Times).
Esther Marson-Smedley, a correspondent with the Daily Express who shared the train ride from Plymouth to London drinking champagne, then introduced him to Marjorie Maxse who offered him a role in the War Office.

Philby's role as an instructor of sabotage agents again brought him to the attention of the OGPU. The new London resident, Ivan Chichayev, (code-name Vadim) re-established.

Washington, D.C.
In September 1949, the Philbys arrived in the United States. Officially, his post was that of First Secretary to the British Embassy; in reality, he served as chief British intelligence representative in Washington, D.C. His office oversaw a large amount of urgent and top-secret communications between the United States and London. Philby was, additionally, responsible for liaising with the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency and promoting "more aggressive Anglo-American intelligence operations."

During the summer of 1945, a Soviet cipher clerk had reused a one time pad to transmit intelligence traffic. This mistake made it possible to break the normally impregnable code. Contained in the traffic (intercepted and decrypted as part of the Venona project) was information that documents had been sent to Moscow from the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, the intercepted messages revealed that the British Embassy source (identified as "Homer") travelled to New York City to meet his Soviet contact twice a week. Philby had been briefed on the situation shortly before reaching Washington in 1949; it was clear to Philby that the agent was Donald Maclean, who worked in the British Embassy at the time and whose wife Melinda lived in New York. Philby had to help discover the identity of "Homer", but also wished to protect Maclean.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the British Embassy leak was still ongoing, and the stress of it was exacerbated by the arrival in Washington, in October 1950, of Guy Burgess – Philby's unstable, dangerously alcoholic, and flamboyantly homosexual Cambridge colleague and fellow Soviet spy.

Burgess' presence was problematic for Philby, yet it was potentially dangerous for Philby to leave him unsupervised. The situation in Washington was tense. From April 1950, Donald Maclean had been the prime suspect in the investigation into the Embassy leak. Philby had undertaken to devise an escape plan which would warn Maclean, currently in England, of the intense suspicion he was under and arrange for him to flee. Burgess had to get to London to warn Maclean who was under surveillance. In early May 1951, Burgess got three speeding tickets in a single day – then pled diplomatic immunity, causing an official complaint to be made to the British Ambassador.Burgess was sent back to England, where he met Maclean in his London club.Burgess drove Maclean from his home in Tatsfield to Southampton, where the two of them boarded a boat to France and thence to Moscow.

Under a cloud of suspicion raised by his highly visible and intimate association with Burgess, Philby returned to London. There, he underwent MI5 interrogation aimed at ascertaining whether he had acted as a "Third Man" in Burgess and Maclean's spy ring. In July 1951, he resigned from MI6, preempting his all but inevitable dismissal.

In August 1956, he was sent to Beirut as a Middle East correspondent for The Observer and The Economist. In 1961, Anatoliy Golitsyn, a major in the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, defected to the United States from his diplomatic post in Helsinki. Golitsyn offered the CIA revelations of Soviet agents within American and British intelligence services. Following his debriefing in the US, Golitsyn was sent to SIS for further questioning. The head of MI6, Dick White, only recently tranferred from MI5, had suspected Philby as the "Third Man." Golitsyn proceeded to confirm White's suspicions about Philby's role. It was decided that Nicholas Elliott, an MI6 officer recently stationed in Beirut who had previously believed in Philby's innocence, would attempt to secure Philby's full confession.

It is unclear whether Philby had been alerted, but he began suffering nervous breakdowns and increasing alcoholism. Eleanor noted that as 1962 wore on, expressions of tension in his life "became worse and were reflected in bouts of deep depression and drinking." She recalled returning home to Beirut from a sight-seeing trip in Jordan to find Philby "hopelessly drunk and incoherent with grief on the terrace of the flat," mourning the death of a little pet fox which had fallen from the balcony. When Nicholas Elliott met Philby in late 1962, the first time since Golitsyn's defection, he found Philby too drunk to stand, and with a bandaged head having fallen repeatedly and cracked his skull on a bathroom radiator, requiring stitches.

Philby told Elliott that he was "half expecting" to see him. Elliott recalled himself confronting him saying "I once looked up to you, Kim. My God, how I despise you now. I hope you've enough decency left to understand why." Prompted by Elliott's accusations, Philby proceeded to confirm the charges of espionage and describe his intelligence activities on behalf of the Soviets. However, when Elliott asked him to sign a written statement, he hesitated and requested a delay in the interrogation. Another meeting was scheduled to take place in the last week of January. It has since been suggested that the whole confrontation with Elliott had been nothing but a charade to convince the KGB that Philby had to be brought back to Moscow, where he could serve as a British penetration agent of Moscow Centre.

On the evening of Wednesday, 23 January 1963, Philby vanished from Beirut, failing to meet his wife for a dinner party at the home of Glen Balfour-Paul, First Secretary at the British Embassy. The Dolmatova, a Soviet freighter bound for Odessa, had left Beirut that morning so abruptly, that cargo was left scattered over the docks. Philby claimed that he left Beirut on board this ship.

It was not until 1 July 1963 that Philby's flight to Moscow was officially confirmed and revealed. On 30 July, Soviet officials announced that they had granted him political asylum in the USSR, as well as Soviet citizenship.

Upon his arrival in Moscow, Philby quickly discovered that he was not a colonel in the KGB, as he had been led to believe. He was paid just 500 roubles a month, and his family was not immediately able to join him in exile. It was ten years before he walked through the doors of KGB headquarters, and he was given little real work of any kind. Philby was under virtual house arrest, guarded and having all visitors screened by the KGB. Mikhail Lyubimov, his closest KGB contact, explained that this was to guard his safety, but later admitted that the real reason was the KGB's fear that Philby would return to London.

Philby occupied himself by writing his memoirs, published in England in 1968 under the title My Silent War. (It is a measure of KGB distrust that the Russian version of this book was not published till 1980.) He continued to read the Times, which was not generally available in the USSR, listened to the BBC World Service, and was an avid follower of cricket.
Philby died in Moscow in 1988, of heart failure. Only posthumously did he receive the praise and appreciation which had escaped him in life: he was awarded a hero's funeral and numerous medals by a grateful USSR, including the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction awarded for heroic feats in service to the Soviet state and society.

Philby in Literature
Kim Philby appears as one of the central antagonists in William F. Buckley Jr's 2004 novel Last Call for Blackford Oakes.

Philby is a central character in the 1981 Ted Allbeury novel The Other Side of Silence.
The 1984 Frederick Forsyth novel The Fourth Protocol features an elderly Kim Philby's involvement in a plot to trigger a nuclear explosion in Britain. In the novel, Philby is a much more influential and connected figure in his Moscow exile than he apparently was in reality.

The 1993 Joseph Brodsky essay Collector's Item (published in his 1995 book On Grief and Reason) contains a conjectured description of Philby's career, as well as speculations into his motivations and general thoughts on espionage and politics. The title of the essay refers to a postal stamp commemorating Philby issued in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

The 2003 novel Fox at the Front by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson depicts Philby selling secrets to the Soviet Union during the alternate Battle of the Bulge where German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel turns on the Nazis and assists the Allies in capturing all of Berlin. Before he can sell the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, he is discovered by the British and is killed by members of MI5 who stage his death as a heart attack.

The 2002 Tom Clancy novel, Red Rabbit, he is mentioned in passing as a reference to how defecting agents are treated.

Kim Philby is mentioned throughout the book "The Secret War Against the Jews" by John Loftus; where Loftus describes Philby as a western betrayer of the Jewish people.

Philby in Film and Television
Cambridge Spies, a 2003 four-part BBC drama, recounts the lives of Philby, Burgess, Blunt, and Maclean from their Cambridge days in the 1930s through the defection of Burgess and Maclean in 1951. Philby is played by Toby Stephens.

Philby, Burgess and MacLean – Spy Scandal of the Century, a BBC drama produced for TV in 1977, covers the period of the late 1940s, when British intelligence investigated Kim Philby's colleague Donald Maclean until 1955 when the British government cleared Philby because it did not have enough evidence to convict him.

The 2005 film A Different Loyalty is an unattributed account taken from Eleanor Philby's book, Kim Philby: The Spy I Loved. The film recounts Philby's love affair and marriage to Eleanor Brewer during his time in Beirut, and his eventual defection to the Soviet Union in late January 1963.

In the 1987 adaptation of the above mentioned Frederick Forsyth novel The Fourth Protocol, Kim Philby is portrayed by Michael Bilton. In contradiction of historical fact, he is murdered by the KGB in the opening scene.

In the 2007 (TNT) television three-part series The Company, produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, and John Calley, Philby is portrayed by Tom Hollander.

Graham Greene, Kim Philby's close friend, wrote the screenplay for The Third Man using Philby as a model for Harry Lime, one of the characters.

Philby in Music
In the song "Philby", from the Top Priority album (1979), Rory Gallagher draws parallels between his life on the road and a spy's in a foreign country. Sample lyrics : "Now ain't it strange that I feel like Philby / There's a stranger in my soul / I'm lost in transit in a lonesome city / I can't come in from the cold."

The Philby affair is mentioned in the Simple Minds song "Up On The Catwalk" from their sixth studio album Sparkle in the Rain. The lyric goes "Up on the catwalk, and you dress in waistcoats / And got brillantino, and friends of Kim Philby."

Learn more about the Cold War and Kim Philby;




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