Kim Philby

Project 72 of 74

Kim Philby - spymuseum.comBorn Harold A. R. Philby in 1912 in Albama, India.

His family was very well off, his father being St. John Philby, a famous explorer and adventurer who was assigned to India as an assistant commissioner for the Punjab. The best man at St. John’s wedding in 1910 was Bernard Montgomery who would ultimately become the most famous British general of World War II. Harold was given the nickname Kim by his father, after the spy hero of a Rudyard Kipling novel.

Graduated from Westminster before entering Trinity College at Cambridge in 1929 where he studied history, While in school he was recruited by Soviet intelligence, as were his friends Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean. He worked as an NKVD agent, traveling on vacations to France, Austria, Germany and other areas of Europe that he thought were ready for revolution. He related his evaluation to his Soviet handler. While in Germany, he took part in open hostilities against Nazi Brown shirts, working alongside of the Communists. He later helped set up a front organization, the World Peace Congress. Graduated from Trinity in 1933.

Traveled to Vienna, Austria in 1934 and married Alice Friedman, also a communist. Was sent to Spain where he worked as a correspondent for the London General Press new agency, covering the Spanish Civil War. He worked under the guise of being a supporter of Generalissimo Francisco Franco and as well as being against the communist cause. He became associated with the ring wing Anglo-German Fellowship organization, which was sympathetic to Nazi causes. As such, because of his pro-Fascist persona, he was welcomed into Franco party headquarters and followed Franco from city to city as he moved. Philby obtained information from Falangist officers and reported this back to his Soviet contacts. Left Spain in 1939 and separated from Friedman, in part to disassociate from her known pro-communist stance.

Was hired by the London Times to serve as a German correspondent. Because of his pro-Fascist persona, Philby was able to obtain information on the Nazis and passed it along to his Soviet contacts. He was invited to formal and private dinner with prominent Nazi officials and military figures, so his information was particularly valuable.

At the outbreak of war between Britain and Germany Philby was working with the British Expedentiary Force in France. British military officials recognized him as a noted war correspondent and were therefore comfortable with sharing information with him. Philby immediately passed this information on to Moscow.

Kim Philby - spymuseum.comAfter Germany defeated France, Philby returned to Britain. Despite his previous membership in the pro-Fascist Anglo-German Fellowship as well as his wife’s communist past, Philby was brought into the British Secret Intelligence Service in 1941 (he was aided by is father, who contacted Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of SIS, directly. As part of the counterespionage division of SIS, he he coordinated information exchanges between MI6 agents and Sandor Rado Soviet spy ring in Switzerland, obtaining valuable military information for Britain. Also was aligned closely with the Special Operations Executive, an espionage network which worked with underground resistance forces fighting against Germany. His success in these areas gained him high praise within the British intelligence community.

At the outbreak of war between Britain and Germany Philby was working with the British Expedentiary Force in France. British military officials recognized him as a noted war correspondent and were therefore comfortable with sharing information with him. Philby immediately passed this information on to Moscow.
After Germany defeated France, Philby returned to Britain. Despite his previous membership in the pro-Fascist Anglo-German Fellowship as well as his wife’s communist past, Philby was brought into the British Secret Intelligence Service in 1941 (he was aided by is father, who contacted Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of SIS, directly. As part of the counterespionage division of SIS, he he coordinated information exchanges between MI6 agents and Sandor Rado Soviet spy ring in Switzerland, obtaining valuable military information for Britain. Also was aligned closely with the Special Operations Executive, an espionage network which worked with underground resistance forces fighting against Germany. His success in these areas gained him high praise within the British intelligence community.


Was assigned, in October 1944, to Section IX of SIS, establishing an anti-communist desk. He was in charge of a movement to seek out communists in the British government, particularly those who had infiltrated British intelligence agencies. The basis for placing Philby in this position was his familiarity and friendliness with high-ranking Russian military and diplomatic officials. Philby’s new Soviet handler was Anatoli Lebedev. Philby grew the section from a one man shop to a 30 person department in only 18 months. Worked hand in hand with William J. Donovan and Allen Dulles of the United States Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Barely escape exposure in August 1945 when Konstantin Volkov, vice consul at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, defected. Volkov, an NKVD intelligence officer, warned of several moles in the British intelligence community, including one who was the head of a counterintelligence unit. Volkov warned against sending the information to Britain. via cable because of security concerns.

The information was therefore delivered via diplomatic pouch and ended up on the desk of Kim Philby. An astonished Philby recognized that he was one of the moles Volkov was about to uncover. Philby insisted in interviewing Volkov himself, instead of leaving that task to an agent in Istanbul. By the time Philby arrived there, however, Volkov had disappeared, presumably executed after Philby notified to the Soviets about the impending defection.

When Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cipher clerk in Ottawa, Canada defected in September 1945, Philby managed the information so that although a number of Soviet agents were exposed (including Allan Nunn May), he (Philby) was not.

Was awarded the Order of the British Empire in late 1945 for his work in wartime intelligence work, after being nominated by Sir Stewart Menzies.

Kim Philby - spymuseum.comDivorced Alice Friedman and in 1946 married Aileen Furse with whom he had three children. Was sent during this period of time to Istanbul, Turkey, a hotbed for espionage activity in post-war Europe, serving as acting first Secretary of the Foreign Office In this position, he identified to his Soviet handler, several Albanian nationalists planning to overthrow the communist government in place. The operatives were summarily captured and murdered. Also, worked to foil and British and American invasion of Albania, while at the same time passing along information about Soviet plans for the region. He was commended for his information which was ultimately useless due to its untimeliness.

Was sent to the United States in 1949 to serve as the First Secretary to the British Ambassador in Washington, D.C., acting as a liaison officer between British Intelligence and the CIA and FBI. This placed him in the position of working amongst the elite of the Western intelligence committee. Guy Burgess was also assigned to Washington, D.C. and they two worked together to channel information to Moscow. Met every week with James Angleton, sharing information and coordinating counterespionage efforts.

Received reports that Donald MacLean, another member of the Cambridge Five and alleged to have been Burgess’ lover, was suspected of being a Soviet mole and warned the KGB of the matter. Learned that MacLean and Burgess might soon be arrested. Philby warned Burgess but also warned SIS that MacLEan might be the person identified by Soviet defectors as being Soviet agent from a “good family” who served as a high-Ranking Foreign Office official. Philby hoped that once MacLean escaped, any evidence that could point to him (Philby) would disappear also. In May 1951, Burgess and MacLean, defected, fleeing to Moscow.

Came under immediate suspicion from British authorities because of his friendship with Burgess and MacLean. Further damaged by a report given to the CIA by a defector, Ismail Akhmedov-Ege, which identified Philby as a Soviet mole. Philby flatly denied the allegations and was interrogated intensely. Stewart Menzies rose to his defense, but Philby angrily resigned his position with the Foreign Office. He was further supported by future British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan who deemed Philby and “”upstanding citizen” and a “hero.” Based on this type of support, Philby was brought back into SIS.

Kim Philby Funeral - spymuseum.comWorked in Beirut under the guise of a correspondent. His wife Aileen died in December 1957 and he married Eleanor Brewer (former wife of Sam Pope Brewer in 1959. Was clearly believed to be a Soviet spy after Soviet defector Anatoli Golytsin named him. Was confronted with the mounting evidence by friend Nicholas Elliott, a British agent then working in Beirut, Lebanon. Elliott offered immunity from prosecution if Philby cooperated and Philby filed a two page confession the next day and submitted to three days of oral confessions. Fearing a long prison sentence like that given to George Blake, Philby fled to the Soviet Union, by way of a Polish cargo ship bound for the Russian port of Odessa. Became of Soviet citizen on July 3, 1963.

Was awarded the Order of Lenin and worked at the KGB headquarters where he was given the title of General. Was joined by his wife and children in 1963 but began having an affair with Don MacLean’s wife Melinda, prompting Eleanor to move to the United States. Was introduced to Rufina Ivanova by defector George Blake and married her in December 1971. Died on May 11, 1988 and was buried in Moscow with full military honors as a KGB General. Was honored with depiction on a Soviet postage stamp in 1990.

 

The Death of Kim Philby
 

Most Wanted Spies

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