Amazing Spies

Amazing Spies

by Charles Margerison

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Amazing Spies by Charles Margerison

Welcome to the secret world of spies. For obvious reasons, their lives are often shrouded in mystery however in this unique collection of short stories, you'll come 'face-to-face' with some of the world's most amazing spies, as their unique stories come to life. Meet the Russian spy who risked everything to share intelligence after being shocked at how the KGB were oppressing fellow Russians. Explore the fascinating and little-known story of Maria Poliakova, a daring young woman who played a key role in Hitler's ultimate downfall. Delve into the unbelievable life of Sidney Reilly who was the real-life inspiration for Ian Fleming's creation of James Bond. Travel with Klaus Fuchs, a spy who leaked crucial nuclear bomb information from the USA, UK and Canada to the USSR.
Each story comes to life through BioViews®. These are short biographical narratives, similar to interviews. They provide an easy way of learning about amazing people who made major contributions and changed our world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781921752278
Publisher: Amazing People Worldwide
Publication date: 06/01/2012
Series: Amazing People Worldwide - Inspirational
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 31
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Educational psychologist and entrepreneur, Dr Charles Margerison, created the concept for the Amazing People series during a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, when he wondered what Shakespeare might say if he was interviewed about his life achievements. The series now features the stories of over 500 amazing people.As well as working in educational institutions for many years, Dr Margerison has consulted widely for global organizations. He was previously Professor of Management at Cranfield University, UK, and the University of Queensland, Australia. The author of numerous books, Dr Margerison is a member of the Royal Institution and the Royal Society of Literature.

Read an Excerpt

Amazing Spied

By Charles Margerison

Viewpoint Resources Ltd

Copyright © 2017 Charles Margerison
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-921752-27-8


Klaus Fuchs

1911 – 1988

Many people think that science is about assembling facts
It is not, and never can be
Science is more about politics
With knowledge you can have power
You can control people's lives
Working on the atomic bomb made me realize that
Should just one group of people have that power?
Having been born in Germany, I was under threat
They knew I disagreed with their views
After seeing the Nazis take over, I left the country of my birth
First, I went to France and then to the UK
There, I gained two doctoral degrees at Bristol and Edinburgh
It was the start of my career in making atom bombs
However, in 1940 that was interrupted
Germany, led by Hitler, declared war on Britain
The Nazis had already invaded many countries
I offered my services to the British Government
Instead, they made me a prisoner on the Isle of Man
Coming from Germany, I was under suspicion
A month later, I was transferred to an internment camp, in Quebec
In the camp, I met many more Germans
How many were spies?
Of course, they did not say, but it set me thinking
Surprisingly, I was allowed to leave
Professor Max Born intervened on my behalf
I returned to Edinburgh to work with him
Next, I went to work in Birmingham on another secret project
Again, I was surprised to gain British citizenship, in 1942
From being regarded as a potential enemy, I became accepted
It was ironic, as the Russians had asked me to work for them
Of course, they did not want me to go to Russia
Their military intelligence secret service was called the GRU
In 1941, I met an agent called Sonia
Her real name was Ruth Werner, a German Communist
She knew of my opposition to the Nazis
When the Germans invaded Russia, she contacted me
She knew I would be against the attack
One of the reasons I had left Germany was my politics
My belief in the communist movement was strong
Therefore, I promised to send information to Sonia
She wanted to know about new weapons
At that time, my knowledge was limited
But, it was my mission to discover military secrets
A person called 'Rest' from the Russian Embassy contacted me
He set up a communication link for me
However, within a short period of time I left Britain
An invitation to go to the USA arrived
On arrival in New York, I was briefed on a secret mission
It was called the Manhattan Project
This was the codename for the team designing an atom bomb
Not for the first time, I had to sign the Official Secrets Act
Little did the Americans know of my Russian connections?
Indeed, it had been a fast and amazing journey
Having escaped from Germany, I had become a British citizen
However, they had imprisoned me
I had managed to escape, via an official release
Then, I was offered work on secret British military projects
Yet, the Russians had made me an offer that I accepted
Now, the Americans were opening their secrets to me
I could hardly believe my ears and eyes
Neither could my Russian contacts when I told them
Before long, I was asked to go to Los Alamos, New Mexico
It was another secret military research operation
They wanted me to work on the explosive devices
My expertise was on the fissionable core of a plutonium bomb
In the process, I learned a great deal
Not only from my own research, but from others
They told me secrets of the new wonder bomb
Within a short period, I told the Russians
A new contact called Raymond had been introduced
His real name was Harry Gold
People asked how I did it
In truth, security was lax
On one assignment, I simply went for a walk
It was in the countryside and no one followed me
At a designated spot, I put a note in a canister
A few days later, another walker found it
Of course, that was Harry Gold, alias Raymond
He passed it to Alexandre Feklisov
So, the Russians learned about the hydrogen bomb
Indeed, I also met with Feklisov six times
Key data on uranium 235 was passed on
The Russians did some calculations based on my figures
The Americans were producing 100 grams of uranium; 235 per month
Also, they created 20 kilograms of plutonium in the same period
It was clear that the USA did not have enough atomic material at that time
They could not launch a new war against the Russians and the Chinese
However, our work had brought an end to the Second World War
Having seen the test explosions, I knew what would happen
The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not have a chance
The heat from the bombs burnt people alive
It was not pleasant to contemplate
I had contributed to the devastation
Yet, could I prevent another disaster?
Supplying atomic secrets to the Russians could help
That was my view at the time
They needed to be able to defend themselves
So it was that the Cold War started
Both the USA and the Russians gained nuclear weapons
A policy of threat and stand-off developed
It was given the letters MAD
Mutually Assured Destruction
Mad was a very appropriate name
Anyone who thought they could win, was mad
Yet, the cost to both sides was enormous
During that time, I attended many high level meetings
To my surprise, there were other Russian spies present
Donald Maclean, from the UK, was there
Of course, we did not mention our secret work for the Russians
However, I knew that secrets do escape
In my own case, would anyone inform on me?
It was of course inevitable
By 1946, I had returned to the UK
Working at Harwell, the atomic research centre
One day, an officer from the British Secret Service came to see me
Questions were asked about my work
Clearly, I was once again under suspicion
The last time it was for being a German spy
Now they asked questions about the Russians
To start, I denied everything
But, it was clear they had broken Russian codes
It was known as the VENONA Project
William Skardon from the Special Branch interrogated me
He was a knowledgeable man and did not use force
However, he knew how to put me under mental stress
My lies were exposed with ruthless precision
Therefore, I confessed that I was a spy for the Russians
Newspapers were full of the story
The trial was as much show business, as it was justice
Of course, my confession made it easier
Sir Hartley Shawcross prosecuted me
The trial only lasted 90 minutes
On March 1st 1950, I was convicted
Lord Goddard sentenced me to 14 years in jail
Harry Gold and other Russian spies were also caught
I was stripped of my British citizenship
For the next few years, however, I lived free of charge
In 1959, I was once again set free
I had only served nine years and four months of my sentence
On gaining freedom, I left for East Germany
There I married a lady who had been a student with me
She was a member of the Communist Party
East Germany was then called the German Democratic Republic
It was a Russian-controlled, communist-controlled state
Amazing that the British would allow me to go there
Within a few months, the secret service met me
They wanted to know my secrets
Of course, I helped them
After all, they were communists and had welcomed me home
Within five years, they arranged for me to meet Chinese people
They arranged workshops on the construction of an atomic bomb
Once again, I was asked to share my knowledge
Yes, knowledge is power
In recognition, I was elected to the Academy of Sciences
Also, I became a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
My research continued in Dresden, where I lived
Retiring in 1979, my friends gave me awards
I was given the Order of Karl Marx
Also, I was awarded the Fatherland's Order of Merit
My communist colleagues recognized my achievements
Yet, in the west I was regarded, as an evil spy
Was I a hero or a villain?
After all, I had helped America and Britain get the 'A bomb'
I had also shared that knowledge with the Russians
They used it to develop their defence system
No major wars in Europe followed
By 1988, I knew my time had come
I reflected on my work
My knowledge had been used to balance power
Time will tell, if I was right to do so.

Klaus Fuchs

1911 – 1988


Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs was born in Russelsheim, Germany, in 1911. He had three siblings and was known as 'Klaus'. The family moved to Eisenach, where Klaus attended the gymnasium. He furthered his education at the University of Leipzig, where his father was a professor of theology.

Klaus trained as a scientist in Germany, and became active in student left wing and communist politics while attending university. Klaus joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany. He transferred his studies to the University of Kiel and continued to study mathematics and physics. Around that time, his mother committed suicide to avoid capture by the Nazis in Germany. His sister, also met the same fate and died eight years later.


When the National Socialists, led by Hitler, came to power in 1933, he fled the country. Klaus first went to France, followed by England, where he gained a PhD qualification, in physics. He took up teaching positions but, having German citizenship, he was interned for part of the Second World War, before being released to work on science projects related to military applications. Klaus was eventually selected to go to the USA to work on the Manhattan Project that was producing the first nuclear weapons. Little did the Americans or the British know that he was passing secret information to the Russians. He had kept his communist beliefs hidden. His spying activities continued, until 1949, when he was arrested.

Klaus Fuchs was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but only served nine years and four months. On his release, he travelled to East Germany, which was, at that time, under the control of the Russians. He was able to continue his work and gave the Russians and the Chinese valuable information on nuclear secrets. In 1959, Klaus married an old friend, Margarete Keilson.

Klaus was elected to the Academy of Sciences in East Germany. He was appointed as Deputy Director of the Institute for Nuclear Research, in Rossendorf. Klaus retired from that role in 1979.


Klaus received the Fatherland's Order of Merit and the Order of Karl Marx. He also was the recipient of the National Prize of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

He lived for nearly 30 years after his release from prison, until he was 76. Klaus died, in Berlin, and was buried in Friedrichsfelde Cemetery.


Vasili Mitrokhin

1922 – 2004

My vacation to Riga, Latvia, was not a holiday
It was the first step in my planned escape from Russia
Taking some of the secrets with me was risky
Yet, I had to do it, as without them nobody would believe me
After all, I knew where the skeletons lay
As the senior archivist of the KGB, I had archived the vital information
The Union of Soviet Republics insisted on proper records
They had many lists and files on thousands of cases
The lists were hot property of the Russian Secret Service
The Committee of State Security, known as the KGB
The sword and the shield were their symbols
The Russian Secret Service intelligence agency was feared
Being on one of their lists could be a death sentence
It was my job to keep the lists and their dark secrets
Yes, as the senior archivist, I was the trusted keeper of the records
I knew the KGB secret service spies and their locations
In particular, I had the list of foreign spies working for Russia
The records of what they did came before my desk
In addition, I knew the inner secrets of the Soviet system
They did not make for pleasant reading
There was the list of those put on trial and their sentences
Also included were those killed without trial, and their places of death
They were all in the KGB foreign intelligence official records
For over a decade, I had made personal copies
Nobody knew, otherwise I would have been arrested
After sleepless nights, I decided to escape to the West
But how could I do it?
I knew that in Latvia there were embassies for the USA and the UK
By going on vacation, I could make contact
But would they believe me?
It was impossible to take all the files with me on my trip
A few would have to suffice
Aged 70, I had retired from my high security trusted role
Was I still being watched?
Caution was essential on any travel and visits that I made
Latvia was a former Soviet satellite country
Was it possible to go there without too much suspicion arising?
In 1991, when I arrived, it had been recently liberated
Certainly, the atmosphere was more buoyant than in Moscow
Communism had been overthrown
It seemed that anything and everything was for sale
So, why not State secrets?
The first job was to locate the USA Embassy
My heart was beating very fast as I rang the bell
What should I say to the young clerk who answered?
I felt the sweat running down the back of my neck
Not being fluent in English, I asked to see an official who spoke Russian
Two arrived, and I explained that I had some secret information
But, they did not seem very interested
They demanded proof of my identity
Telling them that I was an archivist did not impress them
Showing them my shopping basket, I said it held secret information
On the top there were sausages and the secret files lay underneath
They gave me the impression that more urgent business awaited them
Probably, I did not fit their image of a person who had top secrets
My request for asylum got no reply
What could a 70 year old man contribute to their efforts at spying?
Perhaps they were looking for a dynamic young spy, like James Bond
The copies of the documents I provided could be fake material, they said
They turned me away and I wondered what to do next
Rejected and feeling in danger, I walked away fearing the worst
Had I been seen by Russian spies?
Dejected, I returned to my hotel, this time with the cold sweat of fear
Should I return quietly to Russia and hope no one had noticed?
Walking down the street, I noticed the British Embassy
Taking a chance, I went to the door and rang the bell
The welcome was warmer, but still very reserved
But, I was invited in and a Russian speaker arrived
The interviewer asked me to describe my career
So, I told him how I came to have an important job
My family came from Yurasovo, Ryazan Oblast, in central Russia
As a teenager, I entered the Artillery School
My interests and studies focused on history and law
I graduated from university with degrees in both subjects
However, all of that was overtaken by the Second World War
It was a tough time and I was fortunate to survive
Vast areas of Russia were ravaged by the German Army
Horrific acts of brutality were committed
It is estimated that over 20 million Russians died during the war
It had a great effect on me and those of my generation
As a believer in communism, I joined the Government's Foreign Service
Stalin was still the leader in the Kremlin
It was not an easy time, as he was renowned for his purges
As a young man in my 20s, I said little, but learned a lot
The new enemy, Stalin said, was Capitalism
It was vital to get military information from America and European nations
We recruited many spies, from those countries, to work for us
Yet, I began to have some doubts
My overseas visits showed me that capitalism was working
Russia was still poor and dissenters were punished
There was no tolerance for those who did not agree with Stalin
He died in 1953, but his successors were little better
However, I kept my views to myself and did my foreign service job
I was rewarded with another promotion as senior archivist
The new position gave me access to secret information
What I discovered shocked me
My concerns reached high levels as I read more of the documents
They showed evidence of how the Stalin purges had been organized
Many good Russians had been killed by their own Government
Show trials, death sentences and deportations, had taken place
In the papers, I read about torture and the deaths of millions of citizens
The gulags of Siberia were crammed with political prisoners
Also, thousands of soldiers who fought in the war, were imprisoned
Stalin accused them of consorting with the enemy for being captured
There was no way I could change the system
But, I could record and make copies of the records
Even if, at the time, I was not sure what to do with the information
Each day, I would copy information and put it in my shoes
Walking past the guards each night was a risk
However, as the respected archivist, they never searched me
The secret notes were stored at my second home in the country
Many of the documents were put in old farm milk containers
My wife knew what I was doing, but no one else
Between 1972 and 1984, page after page was copied
In total, there were 25,000 pages and more of dangerous and deadly notes
Then, for years I waited for the chance to use them
When the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, so did the Communist 'Iron Curtain'
Maybe it was possible to escape
The secret records could be the bargaining chips
My objective was to ensure that my wife and family were safe
That is why I went to Riga
Also, the reason I was wandering the streets and knocking on doors
The British Embassy checked the information that I gave them
They wanted time to assess the information and make plans
So, I returned to Russia and continued as normal
British undercover agents began spying on me
They checked my story without arousing suspicion
Eventually, the British Government arranged for my family to escape
But, only after I told them where the secret information was stored
They sent their secret service to my farm near Moscow
The search began
The agents were amazed at what they found
The milk urns, at my farm, were full of KGB spy secrets
The information on the whole Russian network shocked them
Particularly on the traitors from their own country
They were not aware of the Russian spies they had within their own ranks
The Americans were also astounded when they learnt of the secrets
They had rejected my offer, but got the information from the British
There were more spies in their country than they had realized
Suddenly, they found out that I was valuable to them
They had turned away the old man in Riga looking for asylum
How could a retired archivist be of any help?
Now, they realized their mistake
But, I wanted more than asylum
When I escaped, my intention was to publish what I knew
Maybe that would help reduce the problem of spying
With Christopher Andrew, I wrote a book
The Sword and the Shield:
The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

That was published in 1999
Tales of many dangerous covert operations were described
People who betrayed their countries and people
Leading to torture, imprisonment and, in many cases, assassinations
However, my time was slipping away and there was so much to tell
My life had been defined by the secret world of spies
Indeed, for good reasons, I became one myself.


Excerpted from Amazing Spied by Charles Margerison. Copyright © 2017 Charles Margerison. Excerpted by permission of Viewpoint Resources Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Life Stories of Amazing People,
Klaus Fuchs,
Vasili Mitrokhin,
Maria Poliakova,
Sidney Reilly,
The Author,
The Amazing People Club Team,

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