21 May 2014 - FAMOUS SPIES


FAMOUS SPIES

G'day folks,

Ever wanted to be a spy? Check out these characters in history.

In and out of wartime, spies play an essential role in information gathering for their nations (and, on occasion, as double-spies for other nations). The spies listed here are the most famous in history.

1. Mata Hari Born: 1876; Died: 1917



Mata Hari in a dancing costume
 Spied For: Germany (and Possibly France)

Mata Hari was the stage-name for Dutch-born Margaretha Geertruida (Grietje) Zelle who was an exotic dancer and high class prostitute in Paris. In 1905, after divorcing her husband, she began her career as an exotic dancer, taking the name Mata Hari (meaning “sun” or “Eye of the Dawn”). She posed herself as a princess from Java. Posing as an exotic person was possible in those days because the lack of telecommunications. During this period of her life she was often photographed in scant clothing or nude.

She mixed with the upper class and became a courtesan to many important high-ranking military men and politicians. This put her in a very good position to gather information. During World War 1, the Netherlands remained a neutral nation, enabling Mata Hari, a Dutch national, to cross national borders freely. At one point she was interviewed by British Intelligence and she admittedly to being a spy for the French. The French later denied this. It is still unknown whether this was true.

In January, 1917, the German Military Attache in Madrid sent an encoded radio signal to Berlin, stating that they were receiving excellent information from a German spy codenamed H-21. French intelligence intercepted the messages and were able to identify H-21 as Mata Hari. On February 13, 1917, Mata Hari was arrested in her Paris hotel room. She was subsequently tried for espionage and found guilty. She was executed by Firing Squad on the 15th of September, 1917 at the age of 41.

2. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg Born: 1915, 1918; Died: 1953



The Rosenbergs
Spied For: The Soviet Union

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were American Communists who were executed for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. They met in the Young Communist League in 1936, where he was a leader. They had two sons. Julius was recruited by the KGB in 1942 and was regarded as one of their top spies. He passed classified reports from Emerson Radio, including a fuze design which was later used to shoot down a U-2 in 1960.

Julius also recruited many people sympathetic to the cause to assist the KGB. He provided the KGB with thousands of documents from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics including a complete set of design and production drawings for the Lockheed’s P-80 Shooting Star. A former machinist at Los Alamos (the US Nuclear Development Area), Sergeant David Greenglass confessed to having passed secret information on to the USSR, and in doing so, implicated his brother-in-law: Julius Rosenberg. He initially denied any involvement by his sister Ethel. The Rosenbergs were arrested.

In 1951 the case against the Rosenbergs began. Greenglass, the prosecution’s main witness, told the court that his sister Ethel had typed nuclear secrets he gave her at a meeting in their home, and that he gave Julius a sketch of a cross-section of an implosion type nuclear bomb. Both Rosenbergs were found guilty and sentenced to death. Their conviction gave fuel to Senator McCarthy’s investigations into anti-American activities. They were both executed by electric-chair in Sing Sing Prison in 1953.

3. Aldrich Ames Born: 1941



Ames in FBI custody (1994)
Spied For: The Soviet Union

Ames is a former CIA Counter-intelligence Officer who was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union in 1994. On his first assignment as a case officer, he was stationed in Ankara, Turkey, where his job was to target Soviet intelligence officers for recruitment. Due to financial problems in his personal life as a result of alcohol abuse and high spending, Ames began spying for the Soviet Union in 1985, when he walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington to offer secrets for money.

Ames was assigned to the CIA’s European office where he had direct access to the identities of CIA operatives in the KGB and Soviet Military. The information he supplied to the Soviets lead to the compromise of at least 100 CIA agents and to the execution of at least 10. He ultimately gave the USSR the names of every CIA operative working in their country; for this they paid him 4.6 million dollars. Ames used the money to live well beyond his means as a CIA agent, buying jewellery, cars, and a $500,000 house.

In early 1985, the CIA began to notice that they were losing their “assets” at a very rapid rate. For unknown reasons they were not willing, in the early stages, to believe that they had been infiltrated by the KGB, instead presuming the leak to be via bugging devices. 

When the FBI were finally brought in to investigate, Ames became the primary suspect. Fearing he would defect on a CIA trip to Russia, The FBI arrested him at the airport with his wife. He was given a life sentence and is incarcerated in the US Penitentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.

4. Giacomo Casanova Born: 1725; Died: 1798



Casanova, the great lover
Spied For: Venetian Inquisitors

Casanova, born in Venice, is most well known for his womanizing and his book The Story of My Life which gives the best account of life in the eighteenth century that we have. Due to the financial support for many patrons of his mother (an actress) he was able to go to school to receive a very good education. This enabled him to become a lawyer. Over many years his romantic affairs with women in power made him a very powerful man. He gained and lost riches at a rapid rate (in one case he lost the equivalent of over 1 million Euros in one night).

Between the years of 1774 and 1782, he worked as a spy for the Venetian Inquisitors of State. It is not known what his role involved as his famous diary ended the year he began his work. In 1782 he was exiled from Venice for spreading libel against one of the City patricians.

After his exile he became a librarian and lived out his life in the service of the Chateaux of Dux in Bohemia.

5. Klaus Fuchs Born: 1911; Died: 1988
 


ID photo of Klaus Fuchs
Spied For: The Soviet Union

Fuchs was a German-born theoretical physicist who worked in Los Alamos on the atom bomb project. He was responsible for many significant theoretical calculations relating to the first fission weapons and early models of the hydrogen bomb. Whilst attending university in Germany, Fuchs became involved with the Communist Party of Germany. After a run-in with the newly installed Nazi government, he fled to England where he earned his PhD in physics. For a short time he worked on the British atomic bomb project.

It was while he was working for the British that he began to give information to the Soviets. He reasoned that they had the right to know what the British and the Americans were developing. In 1943 he was transferred to the United States to assist on the Manhattan project. From 1944 he worked in New Mexico at Los Alamos.

For two years he gave his KGB contacts theoretical plans for building a hydrogen bomb. He also provided key data on the production of uranium 235, allowing the Soviets to determine the number of bombs possessed by the United States. On his return to the United Kingdom in 1946, he was interrogated as a result of the cracking of some Soviet ciphers. He was tried and sentenced to fourteen years in prison, the maximum term under British law for passing military secrets to a friendly nation. he was released after nine years and immediately moved to Germany where he lived out the remainder of his life.
 

Clancy's comment: There ya go. What an interesting life they must have led.

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