Harold (Kim) Philby, the son of the diplomat, Harry St John Bridger Philby, was born in Ambala, India, in 1911. "Philby's father nicknamed his son Kim after the eponymous hero in the popular Rudyard Kipling novel. Brought up by an Indian nanny, Philby's first language was a sort of nursery Punjabi; like Kipling's Kim, he was a white child who could pass for an Indian... The seeds of Philby's double life lay in his childhood, his father, his upbringing and the intense ideological conversation that shaped him in early adulthood... Like many late-Empire products of the establishment, he had an inborn faith in his ability, and right, to change and rule the world." (1)
Kim Philby was educated at Westminster School. According to Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988): "He lived in a dormitory and did his studying in a small room containing only a chair, a table and a bookshelf. There was no central heating and the only warmth came from coal fires lit when winter was well advanced." (2)
One of his teachers commented: "I've only happy memories of him. I liked boys who used their wits and didn't shirk the grind of hard work. The regime of (Westminster School) was liberal, and I believe young Philby benefited from that. He probably suffered by missing the guidance of a father whom in some ways he resembled. The boy had no problems of adjustment. I found him intelligent, amusing, charming. He was a rebel at heart, I knew, but he had little of his father's eccentricity." (3)
In 1928 Philby went to Trinity College on a history scholarship. Philby joined the Cambridge University Socialist Society and most of his new friends held left-wing views. This included Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean, David Guest and James Klugmann. His biographer, Ben Macintyre, points out: "He (Philby) canvassed on behalf of the Labour Party. But there was no sudden conversion, no revolutionary epiphany when the religion of communism seized his soull. Instead, the student moved slowly leftwards... Unlike many of his friends, Philby never joined the Communist Party. His beliefs were radical, but simple: the rich had exploited the poor for too long." (4)
Philby became disillusioned with the Labour Party when Ramsay MacDonald formed a National Government in 1931. He later recalled in My Secret War (1968): "It was the Labour disaster of 1931 which first set me seriously to thinking about possible alternatives to the Labour Party. I began to take a more active part in the proceedings of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and was its Treasurer in 1932/35. This brought me into contact with streams of Left-Wing opinion critical of the Labour Party, notably with the Communists. Extensive reading and growing appreciation of the classics of European Socialism alternated with vigorous and sometimes heated discussions within the Society. It was a slow and brain-racking process." (5)
The greatest influence on Kim Philby was Maurice Dobb. A lecturer in economics, he had joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1922, and was open with his students about his communist beliefs. Dobb's friend, Eric Hobsbawm, has pointed out: "He (Dobb) joined the small band of Cambridge socialists as soon as he went up and... the Communist Party. Neither body was then used to such notably well-dressed recruits of such impeccably bourgeois comportment. He remained quietly loyal to his cause and party for the remainder of his life, pursuing a course, at times rather lonely, as a communist academic." (6) According to one of his students, Joan Robinson, not all of his students agreed with his political views. A group of "hearties" seized him and threw him "fully dressed into the River Cam" in a futile effort to teach him sense. This happened to Dobb more than once; but his persecutors became bored and eventually left him alone. (7)
Anthony Cave Brown, the author of Treason of Blood (1995) has argued that it was Maurice Dobb who converted Philby to Marxism: "His message was that of the classless, scientifically run society offered by Marx, the decline of capitalism, the high superiority of the very fashionable dialectical materialism. This, in theory, was meant to provide both a general worldview and a specific method for the investigation of scientific problems. It was the official philosophy of communism. Dialectical materialism captured many men with Kim's disposition; and it is said that when he understood it, he experienced the blinding light of reality and certainty about life, a light similar to that experienced by some religious believers when they first sense the presence of God." (8)
Philby obtained a third class in part one of the history tripos (1931) and a second class (division I) in part two of the economics tripos (1933). Before leaving Cambridge University he went to see Dobb, and asked him how best he might "devote his life to the communist cause". Philby later recalled: "On my very last day at Cambridge I decided that I would become a communist. I asked a don I admired, Maurice Dobb, how I should go about it. He gave me an introduction to a communist group in Paris, a perfectly legal and open group. They in turn passed me on to a communist underground organization in Vienna. Matters were at crisis point in Austria and this underground organization needed volunteers. I helped smuggle wanted socialists and communists out of the country." (9)
Maurice Dobb sent him to meet Louis Gibarti, an agent of Comintern based in Paris. Some historians have suggested that Dobb might have been the man who recruited Philby as a spy. John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, the authors of Deadly Illusions (1993) point out that when Philby asked him "devote his life to the communist cause" Dobb did not then direct his former pupil to the "CPGB headquarters in London. Instead he gave Philby a letter of introduction to an executive of the International Workers Relief Organization known as MOPR." (10) This contact then passed him to the Comintern agent.
However, Phillip Knightley, who later interviewed Dobb, also thinks that this is a possibility: "Dobb may have decided that a recruit of Philby's calibre would be of greater service in Europe than in Britain. Philby, because of his recent experiences in Germany, may himself have expressed a wish to work outside Britain. (He was not forthcoming on this point in our talks.) Or, and this is only speculation, Dobb was a talent-spotter and steered Philby towards the man who recruited him for the Russian intelligence service." (11)
Gibarti sent Philby to Vienna where he stayed with Israel and Gisella Kohlman. Also living in the house was their divorced daughter, Litzi Friedmann. She later recalled: "When I first met Kim he had just come down from Cambridge and had come to Vienna to learn German. He stayed with my parents as a paying guest and we went out together sometimes. He had very leftish views and was very progressive. I was a member of the Communist Party, which was then illegal and worked underground. We had an affair and I was fond of Kim." (12) Philby immediately fell in love with the 23 year old Litzi, who has been described as "dark-haired, Jewish, vivacious, direct to the point of bluntness". "When Philby met Litzi, he was still a virgin and a political naif; she swiftly attended to both deficiencies. Litzi was a fully committed revolutionary... Philby was instantly besotted." (13)
Natasha Walter has argued: "For her, the young Englishman who presented himself at her door in 1933 was, at first, a potentially useful helper and source of funds.... Philby had already been intellectually convinced by communism, but Friedman radicalised him. He began to work with her - begging people for money, acting as a courier for underground organisations, helping hunted militants to get out of Vienna, and seeing what the fight against fascism meant for people risking their lives because of it. As he himself said later, these experiences crystallised his faith." (14) Litzi who was a member of the Austrian Communist Party, was already working with the NKVD and had recently spent two weeks in prison for subversive activities.
Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss instigated the suppression of the left and after banning trade unions ordered the arrest of socialists and communists. It is estimated that in four days 1,500 people were arrested and most of the leaders were executed. Philby realised that a British passport would offer Litzi protection and on 24th February 1934 he married her in Vienna Town Hall. "The police were hunting down active communists, and I found out that they were after me. One way I could avoid arrest was to marry Kim and get a British passport and leave the country. And this is what I did. I wouldn't call it exactly a marriage of convenience. I suppose it was partly that and partly love." (15) A few weeks later the married couple arrived in London. They lived with Philby's mother, who wrote to her husband in Saudi Arabia: "I do hope Kim gets a job to get him off this bloody communism... He's not quite extreme yet, but may become so." (16)
While in London Litzi Friedmann met an old friend, Edith Tudor Hart. She had also been born in Vienna and recently married an Englishman, Alex Tudor Hart. In January 1934 Arnold Deutsch, one of NKVD's agents, was sent to London. As a cover for his spying activities he did post-graduate work at London University. In May he made contact with Edith and Litzi. They discussed the recruitment of Soviet spies. Litzi suggested her husband. "According to her report on Philby's file, through her own contacts with the Austrian underground Tudor Hart ran a swift check and, when this proved positive, Deutsch immediately recommended... that he pre-empt the standard operating procedure by authorizing a preliminary personal sounding out of Philby." (17)
Philby later recalled that in June 1934. "Lizzy came home one evening and told me that she had arranged for me to meet a 'man of decisive importance'. I questioned her about it but she would give me no details. The rendezvous took place in Regents Park. The man described himself as Otto. I discovered much later from a photograph in MI5 files that the name he went by was Arnold Deutsch. I think that he was of Czech origin; about 5ft 7in, stout, with blue eyes and light curly hair. Though a convinced Communist, he had a strong humanistic streak. He hated London, adored Paris, and spoke of it with deeply loving affection. He was a man of considerable cultural background." (18)
Deutsch asked Philby if he was willing to spy for the Soviet Union: "Otto spoke at great length, arguing that a person with my family background and possibilities could do far more for Communism than the run-of-the-mill Party member or sympathiser... I accepted. His first instructions were that both Lizzy and I should break off as quickly as possible all personal contact with our Communist friends." It is claimed by Christopher Andrew, the author of The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009) that Philby became the first of "the ablest group of British agents ever recruited by a foreign intelligence service." (19)
Deutsch reported back to his superiors that Philby was an excellent agent. "His father... is an ambitious tyrant and wanted to make a great man out of his son. He repressed all his son's desires. That is why he is a very timid and irresolute person. He has a bit of a stammer and this increases his diffidence... However, he handles our money very carefully. He enjoys great love and respect for his seriousness and honesty. He was ready, without questioning, to do anything for us and has shown all his seriousness and diligence working for us." (20)
The two men developed a close relationship. Philby said of Arnold Deutsch: "He was a marvellous man. Simply marvellous. I felt that immediately. And the feeling never left me... The first thing you noticed about him were his eyes. He looked at you as if nothing more important in life than you and talking to you existed at that moment.... And he had a marvellous sense of humour." (21)
Deutsch told Philby that he must break of all communist contacts. He should establish a new political image as a right-winger, even a Nazi-sympathiser. "He must become, to all outward appearances, a conventional member of the very class he was committed to opposing." Deutsch told him. "The anti-fascist movement needs people who can enter into the bourgeoisie." Deutsch gave him a new Minox subminiature camera and gave him a codename (Sohnchen). He began to instruct Philby on the rudiments of tradecraft: how to arrange a meeting; where to leave messages; how to detect if his telephone was bugged; how to spot a tail, and how to lose one. His first task was to spy on his father, Harry St John Bridger Philby, as it was believed he had important secret documents in his office. (22)
Philby was told by Deutsch to get a job in journalism as it would give him excellent cover for spying for the Soviet Union. His first job was as a sub-editor at the World Review of Reviews, a literary and political monthly. He then moved to the Anglo-German Trade Gazette, a magazine devoted to improving economic relations between Britain and Germany which was partly financed by the Nazi Germany government. He also joined the Anglo-German Fellowship, a pro-fascist society formed in 1935 to foster closer understanding with Adolf Hitler. Deutsch pointed out that the group offered Philby ideal political camouflage, as well as the opportunity of finding out information that would be of help to Joseph Stalin and the Soviet government. (23)
Philby found playing the role of a keen young fascist "profoundly repulsive" because "in the eyes of my friends, even conservative ones, but honest conservatives, I looked pro-Nazi". (24) Malcolm Muggeridge was one of those who found Philby's conversion to fascism believable: "A born adventurer like Kim, with very little political subtlety and an eye always to the main chance, was almost certainly attracted by this Anglo-German nonsense. It would have been quite in character. He admired Goebbels and once told me he could easily have worked with him. Don't forget at this stage, in 1936, the bandwaggon between London and Berlin hadn't stopped rolling, and Kim would have been quite ready to jump on it for that very reason." (25)
Arnold Deutsch asked Kim Philby to make a list of potential recruits. The first person he approached was his friend, Donald Maclean, who had been a fellow member of the Cambridge University Socialist Society (CUSS) and now working in the Foreign Office. Philby invited him to dinner, and hinted that there was important clandestine work to be done on behalf of the Soviet Union. He told him that "the people I could introduce you to are very serious." Maclean agreed to met Deutsch. He was told to carry a book with a bright yellow cover into a particular café at a certain time. Deutsch was impressed with Maclean who he described as being "very serious and aloof" with "good connections". Maclean was given the codename "Orphan". (26) Maclean was also ordered to give up his communist friends.
In May 1934 Philby arranged for Deutsch to meet another one of his CUSS friends, Guy Burgess. (27) At first Deutsch rejected Burgess as a potential spy. He reported to headquarters that Burgess was "very smart... but a bit superficial and could let slip in some circumstances." Burgess began to suspect that his friend Maclean was working for the Soviets. He told Maclean: "Do you think that I believe for even one jot that you have stopped being a communist? You're simply up to something." (28) When Maclean told Deutsch about the conversation, he reluctantly signed him up. Burgess went around telling anyone who would listen that he had swapped Karl Marx for Benito Mussolini and was now a devotee of Italian fascism. (29)
Burgess now suggested the recruitment of one of his friends, Anthony Blunt. According to Blunt's biographer, Michael Kitson: "Blunt - hitherto the image of an elegant, apolitical, social young academic - began to take an interest in Marxism under the influence of his friend the charming, scandalous Guy Burgess, a fellow Apostle, who had recently converted to communism. Blunt's move to the left can be plotted in his art reviews, in which he turned from a Bloomsbury acolyte into an increasingly dogmatic defender of social realism. He eventually came to attack even his favourite contemporary artist, Picasso, for the painting Guernica's insufficient incorporation of communism." (30)
Other friends, John Cairncross and Michael Straight were also recruited during this period. Arnold Deutsch handled recruitment but much of the day-to-day management of the spies were carried out by another agent, Theodore Maly. Born in Timişoara, Romania, he studied theology and became a priest but on the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army. He told Elsa Poretsky, the wife of Ignaz Reiss: "During the war I was a chaplain, I had just been ordained as a priest. I was taken prisoner in the Carpathians. I saw all the horrors, young men with frozen limbs dying in the trenches. I was moved from one camp to another and starved along with other prisoners. We were all covered with vermin and many were dying of typhus. I lost my faith in God and when the revolution broke out I joined the Bolsheviks. I broke with my past completely. I was no longer a Hungarian, a priest, a Christian, even anyone's son. I became a Communist and have always remained one." (31)
As Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014), has pointed out: "For a spy, Maly was conspicuous, standing six feet four inches tall, with a shiny grey complexion", and gold fillings in his front teeth. But he was a most subtle controller, who shared Deutsch's admiration for Philby." (32) Maly described Philby as "an inspirational figure, a true comrade and idealist." (33) According to Deutsch: "Both of them (Philby and Maly) were intelligent and experienced professionals, as well as genuinely very good people." (34)
Christopher Andrew has argued in his book, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (2009): "KGB files credit Deutsch with the recruitment of twenty agents during his time in Britain. The most successful, however, were the Cambridge Five: Philby, Maclean, Burgess, Blunt and Cairncross.... All were committed ideological spies inspired by the myth-image of Stalin's Russia as a worker-peasant state with social justice for all rather than by the reality of a brutal dictatorship with the largest peacetime gulag in European history. Deutsch shared the same visionary faith as his Cambridge recruits in the future of a human race freed from the exploitation and alienation of the capitalist system. His message of liberation had all the greater appeal for the Five because it had a sexual as well as a political dimension. All were rebels against the strict sexual mores as well as the antiquated class system of inter war Britain. Burgess and Blunt were gay and Maclean bisexual at a time when homosexual relations, even between consenting adults, were illegal. Cairncross, like Philby a committed heterosexual, later wrote a history of polygamy." (35)
Kim Philby and Litzi Friedmann visited Spain on behalf of the NKVD in February 1934. However, his Soviet controllers began to grow concerned about their marriage. It was a constant reminder that in the past he had held left-wing views. As Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988) has pointed out: "Litzi was a constant reminder to Philby's friends and colleagues that he had spent time in Vienna, that he had rescued this Austrian girl because she was in danger of arrest as a communist, and that he married her to get her a British passport. If, as the Russians wanted, Philby was to establish an impeccable right-wing persona, Litzi, a Jewish communist, was going to be a continuing handicap. There is evidence that Philby's Russian control told him - and perhaps Litzi too - that from now on Philby would operate better alone." (36) Philby told his close friend, Jim Lees, that he would "have to get rid of Litzi". (37)
The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 offered Kim Philby a solution to the problem of how to get away from Litzi. Philby was instructed to go to Spain using freelance journalism as a cover. His main objective was to "spy on the Nationalists and to report back on troop movements, communications, morale, and the military support being provided to Franco's forces by Germany and Italy". (38) Philby quickly ingratiated himself with the people surrounding General Francisco Franco. It also enabled him to get several pro-Franco articles published in The Times to help develop his image as a neo-fascist. Franco was grateful for the support Philby gave to the Nationalists and on 2nd March, 1938, awarded him the Red Cross of Military Merit.
In 1937 Joseph Stalin became concerned that Soviet agents working abroad may be supporters of Leon Trotsky and his theory of World Revolution. Nikolai Yezhov established a new section of the NKVD named the Administration of Special Tasks (AST). It contained about 300 of his own trusted men from the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Yezhov's intention was complete control of the NKVD by using men who could be expected to carry out sensitive assignments without any reservations. The new AST operatives would have no allegiance to any members of the old NKVD and would therefore have no reason not to carry out an assignment against any of one of them. The AST was used to remove all those who had knowledge of the conspiracy to destroy Stalin's rivals. One of the first to be arrested was Genrikh Yagoda, the former head of the NKVD.
Within the administration of the ADT, a clandestine unit called the Mobile Group had been created to deal with those considered to be supporters of Trotsky. The head of the Mobile Group was Mikhail Shpiegelglass. By the summer of 1937, over forty intelligence agents serving abroad were summoned back to the Soviet Union. This included Arnold Deutsch, Theodore Maly, Ignaz Reiss, Alexander Orlov Yan Berzin, Artur Artuzov, Elsa Poretsky, Dmitri Bystrolyotov, Boris Vinogradov, Peter Gutzeit, Boris Bazarov, Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko and Walter Krivitsky. Maly, Berzin, Artuzov, Vinogradov, Gutzeit, Bazarov and Antonov-Ovseenko were all executed. Reiss refused to return and was murdered in Switzerland.
The task of running the Philby network was taken over by Gregory Grafpen but he was recalled to Moscow in November 1938, where he was arrested and imprisoned. Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) has pointed out: "Philby's controller in Paris, Ozolin-Haskins, was shot in Moscow in 1937. His successor, Boris Shapak, lasted two more years before he too was ordered home to be killed. A few defected before they could be seized, further fuelling Stalin's paranoia, but most submitted to the inevitable." (39)
Flora Solomon introduced Philby to Aileen Furse at her home on 3rd September 1939. It was the day that Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany. Philby later recalled: "So it was a date well remembered, because it was disastrous for the world and to myself." Solomon commented: "Aileen belonged to that class, now out of fashion, called county. She was typically English, slim and attractive, fiercely patriotic, but awkward in her gestures and unsure of herself in company ." (40)
Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy has argued: "She had shown signs of a self-destructive streak - her family said she sometimes deliberately injured herself to gain attention when she felt she had been neglected.... Philby found that she had an open manner, an easy laugh, and was a good companion. He treated her with sentimental affection, talking to her about his adventures, listening to her stories about her work... They were obviously in love." (41) Solomon commented that "Philby found an avid listener in Aileen and the next I heard they were sharing a flat." (42)
Anthony Cave Brown has suggested that Aileen was the ideal woman for Philby: "She knew little of politics, she was not well read, but she was intelligent, practical, and incapable of disloyalty, either personal or political... Aileen herself had association in the Somerset world of horses and point-to-points. She was just the mate for a progressive conservative, which was the political coloration Kim had assumed at The Times - but not convincingly enough for Aileen's mother; who disapproved of Kim on the grounds that she knew him to have been a communist." (43)
In December 1938 Guy Burgess joined the British secret service. He was appointed to section D of MI6, dedicated to sabotage and subversion. He became close to Guy Liddell and other senior officers. Burgess had become a member of the establishment. As Phillip Knightley, the author of Philby: KGB Masterspy (1988) has pointed out: "They considered themselves a class apart... Who else would have tolerated the drunken, aggressive, dirty, drug-taking Guy Burgess, seducer of sailors, lorry drivers and chorus boys, except the Bentinck Street clan who saw beyond his appalling facade into a brilliant and original intellect." (44)
It is believed that Burgess suggested to Marjorie Maxse, chief organization officer of the Conservative Party, and chief of staff of MI6 Section D's training school for propaganda, that she should recruit Philby. Maxse agreed and he was given security clearance by Guy Liddell of MI5. Philby points out that Ralph Deakin, the Foreign News Editor of The Times, summoned him to his office and he was told him that the War Office had telephoned to ask whether he was "available for war work".
In his book, My Secret War (1968) Philby described his first meeting with Maxse: "I found myself in the forecourt of St. Ermin's Hotel, near St James's Park station, talking to Miss Marjorie Maxse. She was an intensely likeable elderly lady (then almost as old as I am now). I had no idea then, as I have no idea now, what her precise position in government was. But she spoke with authority, and was evidently in a position at least to recommend me for interesting employment. At an early stage of our talk, she turned the subject to the possibilities of political work against the Germans in Europe. For ten years, I had taken a serious interest in international politics; I had wandered about Europe in a wide arc from Portugal to Greece; I had already formed some less than half-baked ideas on the subversion of the Nazi regime. So I was reasonably well equipped to talk to Miss Maxse. I was helped by the fact that very few people in England at that early date had given serious thought to the subject. Miss Maxse's own ideas had been in the oven very little longer than mine."
A few days later Philby had another meeting with Maxse: "At our second meeting, she turned up accompanied by Guy Burgess, whom I knew well. I was put through my paces again. Encouraged by Guy's presence, I began to show off, name-dropping shamelessly, as one does at interviews. From time to time, my interlocutors exchanged glances; Guy would nod gravely and approvingly. It turned out that I was wasting my time, since a decision had already been taken. Before we parted, Miss Maxse informed me that, if I agreed, I should sever my connection with The Times and report for duty to Guy Burgess at an address in Caxton Street, in the same block as the St. Ermin's Hotel.... I decided that it was my duty to profit from the experiences of the only secret service man of my acquaintance. So I spent the weekend drinking with Guy Burgess. On the following Monday, I reported to him formally. We both had slight headaches." (45)
In 1941 Philby was transferred to SIS, Section V, under Major Felix Cowgill. The unit included some notable figures such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, Victor Rothschild, Gilbert Ryle and Stuart Hampshire. Major Cowgill was not rated highly by this group. Philby later argued: "Cowgill was up against a formidable array of brains... All these men outclassed Cowgill in brainpower, and some of them could match his combativeness. Trevor-Roper, for instance, was never a meek academic; and it was characteristic of Cowgill's other-worldliness that he should have once threatened Trevor-Roper with court martial. It is a tribute to Cowgill that he fought this combination for nearly five years without realizing the hopelessness of his struggle." (46)
Ben Macintyre, the author of A Spy Among Friends (2014) has argued: "Major Felix Cowgill was the model of the old-style intelligence officer: a former officer in the Indian police, he was rigid, combative, paranoid and quite dim. trevor-Roper dismissed him as a 'purblind, disastrous megalomaniac', and Philby, privately, was equally scathing. 'As an intelligence officer, he was inhibited by lack of imagination, inattention to detail and sheer ignorance of the world'. Cowgill was 'suspicious and bristling' toward anyone outside his section, blindly loyal to those within it, and no match for the Philby charm." (47)
Hugh Trevor-Roper knew about Philby's left-wing past and was amazed that he had been recruited by MI6. Trevor-Roper wrote in The Philby Affair (1968): "I admit that Philby's appointment astonished me at the time, for my old Oxford friend had told me, years before, that his travelling companion was a Communist. By now, of course, I assumed that he was an ex-Communist, but even so I was surprised, for no one was more fanatically anti-Communist, at that time, than the regular members of the two security services, MI6 and MI5. And of all the anti-Communists, none seemed more resolute than the ex-Indian policemen, like Colonel Vivian and Major Cowgill, whose earlier years had been spent in waging war on 'subversion' in the irritant climate of the Far East. That these men should have suspended their deepest convictions in favour of the ex-Communist, Philby, was indeed remarkable. Since it never occurred to me that they could be ignorant of the facts (which were widely known), I assumed that Philby had particular virtues which made him, in their eyes, indispensable. I hasten to add that, although I myself knew of Philby's Communist past, it would never have occurred to me, at that time, to hold it against him. My own view, like that of most of my contemporaries, was that our superiors were lunatic in their anti-Communism. We were therefore pleased that at least one ex-Communist should have broken through the net and that the social prejudices of our superiors had, on this one occasion, triumphed over their political prejudices." (48)
Philby was put in charge of fighting German espionage in the Iberian Peninsula. Philby claimed that a high proportion of German intelligence operations against Britain were mounted from the Iberian Peninsula, the biggest expansion, from two officers to six, was planned for the sub-section dealing with Spain and Portugal." (49) The unit was based in St Albans and Kim Philby and Aileen Furse, rented a cottage on the outskirts of the town.
Later that year Walter Krivitsky, a senior Soviet intelligence officers, who had defected to the West, was brought to London to be interviewed by Dick White and Guy Liddell of MI5. Krivitsky gave details of 61 agents working in Britain. He 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 Philby and Donald Maclean. However, White and Liddle were not convinced by Krivitsky's testimony and his leads were not followed up.
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.
During the Second World War Philby was placed in charge of the propaganda training programme for the Special Operations Executive. By 1943 Philby had responsibility for Spanish, Italian, French and African affairs. He came to the attention of Major General Stewart Menzies, Director-General of MI6. Menzies was impressed with Philby and in October 1944 he was placed in charge of Section IX (Soviet Affairs).
After the war Philby was responsible for monitoring Soviet espionage. In this role he was able to protect other Soviet agents such as Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt. In September 1945, a Russian diplomat, Constantin Volkhov, approached the British vice-consul in Istanbul with information about three Soviet agents working in the Foreign Office and the counter-espionage service in London. Philby was able to tell the KGB who quickly arrested Volkhov and took him back to the Soviet Union.
On 5th September 1945, Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the Russian Legation, defected to the West claiming he had evidence of an Soviet spy ring based in Britain. The case was passed on to Philby. He suggested that Gouzenko should be interviewed by Roger Hollis.
Gouzenko provided evidence that led to the arrest of 22 local agents and 15 Soviet spies in Canada. Information from Gouzenko also resulted in the arrest and conviction of Klaus Fuchs and Allan Nunn May. Gouzenko also claimed that there was a Soviet agent inside MI5. However, he was later to argue that Hollis showed little interest in this evidence. "The mistake in my opinion in dealing with this matter was that the task of finding the agent was given to MI5 itself. The results even beforehand could be expected to be nil."
In 1949 Philby became the MI6 liaison officer in Washington. In this post he was able to discover that SIS planned to overthrow Enver Hoxha, the communist dictator of Albania. Philby was able to communicate this information to the Soviet Union and the Albanians involved in the conspiracy were arrested and executed.
In 1950 Stewart Menzies and John Sinclair discussed the possibility of Philby becoming the next Director General of the MI6. Dick White was asked to produce a report on Philby. He asked Arthur Martin and Jane Archer to carry out an investigation into his past. They became concerned about how quickly he changed from a communist sympathizer to a supporter of pro-fascist organizations. They also discovered that the description of the mole provided by Walter Krivitsky and Igor Gouzenko was close to that of Philby's time in Spain as a journalist. It was now decided that Philby could in fact be a double-agent.
When Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean defected in 1951 Philby became the chief suspect as the man who had tipped them off that they were being investigated. Under pressure from Clement Attlee and Herbert Morrison, Stewart Menzies agreed that Philby should be interrogated by MI6. However, they cleared him of being part of a spy ring. However, the CIA insisted that he should be recalled to London. In September 1951 Philby officially resigned from MI6 but continued to work for the organization on a part-time basis. He was also paid £4,000 to compensate him for losing his job.
On 23rd October, 1955, the newspaper, New York Sunday News, reported that Philby was a Soviet spy. Two days later Marcus Lipton asked Anthony Eden in the House of Commons: "Has the prime minister made up his mind to cover up at all costs the dubious third-man activities of Mr. Harold Philby". Eden refused to reply but, Harold Macmillan, the foreign secretary, issued a statement a couple of days later: "While in government service he (Philby) carried out his duties ably and conscientiously, and I have no reason to conclude that Mr Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called 'Third Man', if indeed there was one."
Philby now called a press conference where he denied he was a spy. He added that "I have never been a communist and the last time I spoke to a communist knowing he was one, was in 1934". Philby accused Lipton of lying and challenged him to repeat his claims outside the protection of the House of Commons. Lipton was forced to issue a statement where he withdrew his comments about Philby. Philby now moved to the Middle East where he worked as a foreign correspondent for The Observer and the The Economist. He also continued to work as a part-time agent of MI6.
In December 1961, Anatoli Golitsin, a KGB agent, working in Finland, defected to the CIA. He was immediately flown to the United States and lodged in a safe house called Ashford Farm near Washington. Interviewed by James Angleton Golitsin supplied information about a large number of Soviet agents working in the West. Arthur Martin, head of MI5's D1 Section, went to to interview Golitsin in America. Golitsin provided evidence that suggested that Kim Philby had been a member of a Ring of Five agents based in Britain. The same spy ring that had included Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.
It was now decided to send the MI5 agent, Nicholas Elliott to interview Philby in Beirut. Elliott got the impression that he had been tipped off to expect a visit from MI5. This encouraged rumours that a Soviet mole still held a senior position in the security services. Philby admitted that he had been a member of the Cambridge Spy Ring. However, except for Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, he refused to name other members of the group.
Philby was now aware that he was in danger of being arrested and therefore on 23rd January, 1963, Philby fled to the Soviet Union. In his book, My Secret War (1968), Philby admitted that he had been a Soviet spy for over thirty years. Philby's wife, Rufina, later recalled: "Kim... was tortured by his life of deceit. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, tormented by a recurring nightmare in which he imagined himself being caught red-handed. Kim did not get a kick out of the danger and risk. Far from it. It was against his nature. To the end of his days he openly talked about how the hardest and most painful thing for him had been the fact that he had lied to his friends. Until the very end it is what tortured him most."
Kim Philby lived in the Soviet Union until his death in 1988.
I've only happy memories of him. I liked boys who used their wits and didn't shirk the grind of hard work. The regime of (Westminster School) was liberal, and I believe young Philby benefited from that. He probably suffered by missing the guidance of a father whom in some ways he resembled. The boy had no problems of adjustment. I found him intelligent, amusing, charming. He was a rebel at heart, I knew, but he had little of his father's eccentricity. Perhaps he strove too slavishly to imitate him later when the maggot got into his brain at Cambridge.
It was the Labour disaster of 1931 which first set me seriously to thinking about possible alternatives to the Labour Party. I began to take a more active part in the proceedings of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and was its Treasurer in 1952/35. This brought me into contact with streams of Left-Wing opinion critical of the Labour Party, notably with the Communists. Extensive reading and growing appreciation of the classics of European Socialism alternated with vigorous and sometimes heated discussions within the Society. It was a slow and brain-racking process; my transition from a Socialist viewpoint to a Communist one took two years. It was not until my last term at Cambridge, in the summer of 1933, that I threw off my last doubts. I left the University with a degree and with the conviction that my life must be devoted to Communism.
A born adventurer like Kirn, with very little political subtlety and an eye always to the main chance, was almost certainly attracted by this Anglo-German nonsense. It would have been quite in character. He admired Goebbels and once told me he could easily have worked with him. Don't forget at this stage, in 1936, the bandwaggon between London and Berlin hadn't stopped rolling, and Kim would have been quite ready to jump on it for that very reason.
It is feared that the conflagration destroyed much of the evidence of its origin, but it is felt here that enough remains to support the Nationalist contention that incendiaries on the Basque side had more to do with the razing of Guernica than General Franco's aircraft. . . . Few fragments of bombs have been recovered, the facades of buildings still standing are unmarked, and the few craters I inspected were larger than anything hitherto made by a bomb in Spain. From their positions it is a fair inference that these craters were caused by exploding mines which were unscientifically laid to cut roads. In view of these circumstances it is difficult to believe that Guernica was the target of bombardment of exceptional intensity by the Nationalists or an experiment with incendiary bombs, as it is alleged by the Basques.
As an undergraduate at Oxford I had heard admiring accounts of him from a friend who often travelled with him in vacations. And, sure enough, while we were still waiting for Philby, my old Oxford friend himself appeared in Section Five as a herald of the coming Messiah. I admit that Philby's appointment astonished me at the time, for my old Oxford friend had told me, years before, that his travelling companion was a Communist. By now, of course, I assumed that he was an ex-Communist, but even so I was surprised, for no one was more fanatically anti-Communist, at that time, than the regular members of the two security services, MI6 and MI5. And of all the anti-Communists, none seemed more resolute than the ex-Indian policemen, like Colonel Vivian and Major Cowgill, whose earlier years had been spent in waging war on 'subversion' in the irritant climate of the Far East. That these men should have suspended their deepest convictions in favour of the ex-Communist, Philby, was indeed remarkable. Since it never occurred to me that they could be ignorant of the facts (which were widely known), I assumed that Philby had particular virtues which made him, in their eyes, indispensable. I hasten to add that, although I myself knew of Philby's Communist past, it would never have occurred to me, at that time, to hold it against him. My own view, like that of most of my contemporaries, was that our superiors were lunatic in their anti-Communism. We were therefore pleased that at least one ex-Communist should have broken through the net and that the social prejudices of our superiors had, on this one occasion, triumphed over their political prejudices.
He rarely spoke about politics, though one assumed he took the vaguely Leftist position fashionable among the bourgeois intelligentsia of his generation. Far stronger in him than anything of this kind, as it seemed to me, was his romantic veneration for buccaneers and buccaneering, whatever the ideological basis, if any, might be. Boozers, womanizers, violence in all its manifestations, recklessness however directed, he found irresistible. Hence his, and many others', otherwise unaccountable love for Burgess, and tolerance of his preposterous and unlovely ways. On this showing he would have been more at home among Nazi bully-boys than the pedantic terrorists of the USSR. He actually said to me once that Goebbels was someone he felt he could have worked with.
I found myself in the forecourt of St. Ermin's Hotel, near St James's Park station, talking to Miss Marjorie Maxse. She was an intensely likeable elderly lady (then almost as old as I am now). I had no idea then, as I have no idea now, what her precise position in government was. But she spoke with authority, and was evidently in a position at least to recommend me for "Interesting" employment. At an early stage of our talk, she turned the subject to the possibilities of political work against the Germans in Europe. For ten years, I had taken a serious interest in international politics; I had wandered about Europe in a wide arc from Portugal to Greece; I had already formed some less than half-baked ideas on the subversion of the Nazi regime. So I was reasonably well equipped to talk to Miss Maxse. I was helped by the fact that very few people in England at that early date had given serious thought to the subject. Miss Maxse's own ideas had been in the oven very little longer than mine.
I passed this first examination. As we parted, Miss Maxse asked me to meet her again at the same place a few days later. At our second meeting, she turned up accompanied by Guy Burgess, whom I knew well. I was put through my paces again. Encouraged by Guy's presence, I began to show off, name-dropping shamelessly, as one does at interviews. From time to time, my interlocutors exchanged glances; Guy would nod gravely and approvingly. It turned out that I was wasting my time, since a decision had already been taken. Before we parted, Miss Maxse informed me that, if I agreed, I should sever my connection with The Times and report for duty to Guy Burgess at an address in Caxton Street, in the same block as the St. Ermin's Hotel.
The Times gave me little difficulty. Deakin huffed and sighed a little, but he had nothing spectacular to offer me. So I left Printing House Square without fanfare, in a manner wholly appropriate to the new, secret and important career for which I imagined myself heading. I decided that it was my duty to profit from the experiences of the only secret service man of my acquaintance. So I spent the weekend drinking with Guy Burgess. On the following Monday, I reported to him formally. We both had slight headaches.
The organization to which I became attached called itself the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). It was also widely known as MI5, while to the innocent public at large it was simply the secret service. The ease of my entry surprised me. It appeared later that the only enquiry made into my past was a routine reference to MI5, who passed my name through their records and came back with the laconic statement: Nothing Recorded Against. Today, every new spy scandal in Britain produces a flurry of judicial statements on the subject of "positive vetting." But in that happier Eden positive vetting had never been heard of. Sometimes, in the early weeks, I felt that perhaps I had not made the grade after all. It seemed that somewhere, lurking in deep shadow, there must be another service, really secret and really powerful, capable of backstairs machination on such a scale as to justify the perennial suspicions of, say, the French! But it soon became clear that such was not the case. It was the death of an illusion. Its passing caused me no pain.
Guy first took me to the office that had been assigned to me. It was a small room with a table, a chair and a telephone, and nothing else. With a snort of annoyance, Guy disappeared down the corridor and came back with a sheaf of foolscap which he laid on the table. Satisfied that I was now fully equipped for my duties, he told me that my salary would be the same as his: £600 per annum, paid monthly in cash and no nonsense from the Inland Revenue. No snooping after a single secret shilling! In fact, the secrecy of pay-scales concealed gross inequalities. Each contract was theoreticallv a private, secret one between the Chief and his subordinate. And if the Chief could get A cheaper than B, whatever their respective merits, he would be silly not to do so. However, I was quite happy with the arrangement, and I was then taken off to be introduced to some of my future colleagues. As they play no substantial part in my story, I shall not embarrass them by mentioning their names.
The section of SIS in which I found myself was known as Section D (for Destruction). I never saw its charter if it had one. From talks with my colleag-ues, I gathered that the object of the section was to help defeat the enemy by stirring up active resistance to his domination and destroying, by non-militarv means, the sources of his power. The head of the section was Colonel Lawrence Grand, to whom I was introduced a few days after joining his staff. Tall and lean, he looked startlingly like the dream-figure who should have approached me in Germany or Spain. The difference was that his mind was certainly not clipped. It ranged free and handsome over the whole field of his awesome responsibilities, never shrinking from an idea, however big or wild.
Late in 1942 my office had come to certain conclusions - which time proved to be correct - about the struggle between the Nazi Party and the German General Staff, as it was being fought out in the field of secret intelligence. The German Secret Service (the Abivehr) and its leader. Admiral Canaris, were suspected by the Party not only of inefficiency but of disloyalty, and attempts were being made by Himmler to oust the Admiral and to take over his whole organization. Admiral Canaris himself, at that time, was making repeated journeys to Spain and indicated a willingness to treat with us: he would even welcome a meeting with his opposite number, 'C'. These conclusions were duly formulated and the final document was submitted for security clearance to Philby. Philby absolutely forbade its circulation, insisting that it was 'mere speculation'.
He afterwards similarly suppressed, as 'unreliable', a report from an important German defector. Otto John, who informed us, in Lisbon, that a conspiracy was being hatched against Hitler. This also was perfectly true. The conspiracy was the Plot of 20 July 1944, and Canaris, for his contribution to it, afterwards suffered a traitor's death in Germany.
At the time we were baffled by Philby's intransigence, which would yield to no argument and which no argument was used to defend. From some members of Section Five, mere mindless blocking of intelligence was to be expected. But Philby, we said to ourselves, was an intelligent man: how could he behave thus in a matter so important? Had he too yielded to the genius of the place?
Taking the line that it was almost inconceivable that anyone like Burgess, who courted the limelight instead of avoiding it, and was generally notorious for indiscretion, could have been a secret agent, let alone a Soviet agent from whom strictest security standards would be required. I did not expect this line to be in any way convincing as to the facts of the case; but I hoped it would give the impression that I was implicitly defending myself against the unspoken charge that I, a trained counter-espionage officer, had been completely fooled by Burgess. Of Maclean, I disclaimed all knowledge.... As I had only met him twice, for about half an hour in all and both times on a conspiratorial basis, since 1937, I felt that I could safely indulge in this slight distortion of the truth.
He (Donald Maclean) never liked spying. Philby and Burgess were attracted to the adventure and the secrecy of belonging to a small group of people with inside knowledge and they enjoyed the small amount of danger. Maclean didn't like that, but he felt he should do it as that was how he was of most use.
One thing which I have learnt from knowing Philby is that he was not the womaniser he was portrayed to be. You see, he married all the women and not every man marries all his girlfriends. In fact most of them don't. His women were always in trouble in some way and by marrying them he got them out of trouble.
I liked him. I've often asked myself what I would have done if I'd discovered he was a secret agent at that time. I think, perhaps, if in a drunken moment he had slipped a hint, I would have given him twenty-four hours to get clear and then reported him.
I could not claim (Dick) White as a close friend but our personal and official relations had always been excellent, and he had undoubtedly been pleased when I superseded Cowgill. He was bad at dissembling but did his best to put our talk on a friendly footing. He wanted my help, he said, in clearing up this appalling Burgess-Maclean affair.
Mr Philby had been a friend of Burgess from the time when they were fellow undergraduates at Trinity College, Cambridge. Burgess had been accommodated with Philby and his family at the latter's home in Washington from August 1950 to April 1951 . . . and, of course, it will be remembered that at no time before he fled was Burgess under suspicion. It is now known that Mr Philby had Communist associates during and after his university days. In view of the circumstances, he was asked in July 1951 to resign from the Foreign Service. Since that date his case has been the subject of close investigation. No evidence has been found ... to show that he was responsible for warning Burgess or Maclean. While in government service he carried out his duties ably and conscientiously, and I have no reason to conclude that Mr Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called "Third Man', if indeed there was one.
In the 1930s a number of young men at Cambridge University were recruited as Soviet spies. They became known by the KGB as the 'magnificent five' but were better known in Britain as the Cambridge spy ring.
They were not motivated by financial gain but by the belief that capitalism was corrupt and that the Soviet Union offered a better model for society.
The Cambridge spy ring was informally led by Harold 'Kim' Philby. He and his friends later moved into jobs in British Intelligence and the Foreign Office where they had access to top secret information. They spent their working lives passing valuable information to the Soviet Union.
Like many Catholics who, in the reign of Elizabeth, worked for the victory of Spain, Philby has a chilling certainty in the correctness of his judgement, the logical fanaticism of a man who, having once found a faith, is not going to lose it because of the injustices or cruelties inflicted by erring human instruments. How many a kindly Catholic must have endured the long bad days of the Inquisition with this hope of the future as a riding anchor. Mistakes of policy would have no effect on his faith, nor the evil done by some of his leaders.
Kim was never a double-agent. He always only worked for the Russians. Even when he began working for British intelligence, he was already spying for the KGB.
He was tortured by his life of deceit. He would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, tormented by a recurring nightmare in which he imagined himself being caught red-handed.
Kim did not get a kick out of the danger and risk. Far from it. It was against his nature. To the end of his days he openly talked about how the hardest and most painful thing for him had been the fact that he had lied to his friends. Until the very end it is what tortured him most.
I spent many months last year researching the British secret service for my novel Restless - the story of a young woman working in the lower echelons of the British espionage business - and I found this dry and acerbic analysis particularly helpful and revealing. Not least because this was the organisation that had admitted into its ranks at least five double agents for the Soviet Union: Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, John Cairncross, Anthony Blunt and the "super spy" Kim Philby, whose near-effortless rise through the secret-service hierarchy resulted in him being groomed, postwar, for the ultimate top job - that of "C" itself. It would have been an unrivalled coup for Moscow to have their man running the British secret services. And it very nearly came off.
In the course of writing the novel I became very curious about this covey of British double agents and what united them, apart from their betrayal of their country. All were middle class or upper-middle class, all well educated with solid professional careers in the great institutions of the state. They were members of "the establishment" in every degree - their background, their ostensible values, their speech, their clubs, their dress, their pastimes and pleasures. There was nothing on the surface to distinguish them from the thousands of other privileged, Oxbridge-educated young men working in the Foreign Office or the diplomatic service or the BBC. Yet each chose to become a traitor.
One can understand how in the 1930s, when these agents were first recruited by the Soviets, the ideological appeal of communism presented the only real alternative to the seemingly inexorable rise of fascism in Europe. Yet the more I looked at these men and read about their double lives, considered their fallibilities and their anxieties (Burgess and Maclean in particular), their luck and their unremarked incompetence (Philby excepted) - I began to feel that ideological zeal simply couldn't explain their many years of successful and fatal duplicity. There had to be some other motivation other than the allure of communism - especially after the devastating shock of the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. Once Stalin and Hitler became allies, only the most perverse reasoning could maintain that there was one true enemy of fascism and that it was Soviet Russia. The tortuous double-think of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) is both revealing and risible in this regard. The Daily Worker, the party's newspaper, had been virulently pacifist and anti-Nazi, but after the 1939 pact all criticism of Hitler virtually ceased in the paper. Then, when Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, the CPGB became virulently anti-Nazi again. No person of intelligence could take such policy about-turns seriously.
Furthermore, these British traitors both lived in and flourished in a democratic society, each one benefiting from the privileges offered to its educated elite. They were not hounded or embittered, nor victims of repression or state corruption, nor thwarted in ambition, blocked at every turn - so why did they become traitors?
The case of Kim Philby is perhaps the most interesting. Philby was a man universally liked, a highly respected professional - competent and industrious, decorated after the war - and a charming and amusing companion. His wife regarded him as a "divine husband" and classed their marriage as "perfect". He existed at the highest levels of the secret service for 10 years, between 1941 and 1951, without attracting the slightest suspicion. Hugh Trevor-Roper (the author of the caustic judgment on his colleagues above) knew Philby during the war and described him as "an exceptional person: exceptional by his virtues, for he seemed intelligent, sophisticated, even real".
In 1951, after the flight of Burgess and Maclean to Moscow, Philby was obliged to resign from the service, to the regret of his colleagues, because of his close association with Burgess, a friendship that he refused to disown. Even this was regarded as a symbol of his fundamental decency and good fellowship. It was not held against him and he was reintroduced to the service after some years in a minor role (in Beirut) before eventually fleeing to Moscow in 1963 - possibly because a Soviet defector was about to reveal his identity.
No one really knows how many deaths and imprisonments Philby was responsible for. The number is probably in the hundreds. For example, British agents and couriers sent to Albania and Ukraine to foment anti-communist revolution after the war were routinely intercepted and executed thanks to Philby's advance warnings. In Washington in the late 1940s he passed on all secret material that crossed his desk to the Russians - most usefully analysis of America's nuclear capability. One can argue that Philby's information was instrumental in the prosecuting of the Korean war and the Cuban missile crisis. He was an extremely effective and important double agent.
William Boyd's investigation of the rationale for the allegiance to Moscow of the Cambridge spies hovers around an obvious reason without actually landing upon it. They were scions of Britain's ruling elite, and as, counter to Boyd's implication, that elite was very unsure of its future in the 1930s, they looked to a country in which a new elite was creating a modern, dynamic society. They looked to Moscow because they wished to emulate Stalin's ruthless programme of development in Britain, with themselves in the driving seat. Their conversion to Stalinism did not signify a rejection of their elitism, but was a direct expression of it.
Kim Philby was a "Soviet agent", as the sub-heading identifies, not a "double-agent" as William Boyd claims ("Old-school spy", September 23). Crucially, Boyd omits Philby's anti-fascist activities in his reasons for the betrayal. He believed that "England" had been betrayed by a ruling class that had made alliance with fascism. Yes, there were psychological reasons, but you can't totally dismiss this from the analysis.