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Walter Krivitsky

John Simkin

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Walter Krivitsky was born in Russia in 1899. He became a Soviet Intelligence officer and in 1923 he was sent to Germany in an attempt to start a communist revolution. Later he moved to Austria where he worked with Ignace Reiss. In 1933 he was transferred to Holland as director of intelligence with liaison responsibilities for other European countries. According to Krivitsky he was now "Chief of the Soviet Military Intelligence for Western Europe".

In 1936 Joseph Stalin instigated the Great Purges. Krivitsky feared for his life when his friend Ignace Reiss was murdered by KGB agents in 1937. He decided to defect and managed to escape to Canada where he lived under the cover name of Walter Thomas. Krivitsky eventually contacted the FBI and gave details of 61 agents working in Britain.

In 1939 Krivitsky was brought to London to be interviewed by Dick White and Guy Liddell of MI5. Krivitsky did not know the names of these agents but described one as being a journalist who had worked for a British newspaper during the Spanish Civil War. Another was described as "a Scotsman of good family, educated at Eton and Oxford, and an idealist who worked for the Russians without payment." These descriptions fitted Kim Philby and Donald Maclean. However, White and Liddle were not convinced by Krivitsky's testimony and his leads were not followed up.

Krivitsky returned to the United States and wrote his memoirs, I Was Stalin's Agent. Now a fervent anti-communist he appeared before Martin Dies and the Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Walter Krivitsky was found dead in the Bellevue Hotel in Washington on 10th February, 1941. At first it was claimed that Krivitsky had committed suicide. However, others claimed his hiding place had been disclosed by a Soviet mole working for MI5 and had been murdered by Soviet agents.

It is believed that he was betrayed to the KGB by Kim Philby.



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  • 6 years later...

Whittaker Chambers was a close friend of Walter Krivitsky. He definitely believed that he had been killed by the KGB: "He had left a letter in which he gave his wife and children the unlikely advice that the Soviet Government and people were their best friends. Previously he had warned them that, if he were found dead, never under any circumstances to believe that he had committed suicide." Krivitsky once told Chambers: "Any fool can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a good natural death."

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