Jacob MilanContemporary Global IssuesResearch Paper Soviet Spies in America Since World War II, American culture has been terrified at the thought of aRussian invasion on U.S. soil. There are many signs that point to the fear that Russiahas instilled into Americans. If you look at modern day culture in the U.S. it stillthinks about Russian spies, it shows us making movies like Red Dawn or even moremodern shows like the channel FX’s new show The Americans that premieres inJanuary. Russia still scares our modern society and even though Russia may not bethe most economically powerful country in the world, they still are a very powerfulmilitarycountry. There is reason to believe that our society is easy to blend into andtherefore would be an opportunity for a spy infiltration. It has been accomplished inthe past and has even been done recently. During WWII, spies for Russia werededicated to the cause of spreading communism. That was the whole focus andintent of these spies within the United States. The spies in today’s world do not havethe same motives necessarily as before. Some of these people are more interested inmoney as opposed to when the Rosenberg’s were spying and giving information tothe Soviet Union in hopes that communism would spread west. In my opinion that ispart of the scariest thing to Americans. Much like terrorists in the Middle East whomurder and sacrifice their own lives for a cause, they do it for a purpose and not anymonetary gain just like the spies post-WWII.
Well before the U.S. started scheming ways of ending the war in Japan duringWorld War II, the Russians have been planning and spying on Americans. The Sovietspy scandals in the 1940’s are very well documented. The rush for being the firstcountry to achieve atomic dominance was a real need for both countries. As historyshows the U.S. did achieve the atomic bomb and dropped it on Japan to end the U.S.involvement in World War II, but Russia was not far behind when it came toestablishing their nuclear weapons either. This was established due to someintelligence that was found by Russian spies that infiltrated American society andalso American government. In 1949, the Soviets had stated that they had finally detonated their ownatomic bomb successfully. At that same time it also became apparent that theSoviets had obtained the information to build this type of bomb by stealing it andhaving their many scientists work meticulously on the prototype. This was the firstinstance that American’s found out about the Soviet breach of intelligence. HarryGold was the first to step forward and admit that he was a traitor working with theSoviet Union. American society was appalled and shocked that there could be atraitor within the country. This put U.S. culture in fear and paranoia of just aboutanyone in the country. (FBI) Harry Gold’s testimony of working for the Soviets also led to a numerousamount of revelations. Such revelations opened the door to many different spiesthat had infiltrated the country and seemed to be at work for many years beforetheir discovery. Harry Gold had spoke about David Greenglass. Greenglass becomingexposed also led to a number of others involved in compromising information to the
Soviet Union. Greenglass was connected to a number of communist supporters andalso Soviet spies in his family. Ethel Rosenberg was Greenglass’s sister and wife ofJulius Rosenberg. Ethel Rosenberg was born of immigrants to the U.S. her father wasRussian, while her mother was Austrian. On June 18th 1939, Ethel married JuliusRosenberg who was also an immigrant born of both Russian parents. From 1932-1935 Julius and Ethel were dating and that’s really when theybegan their communist devotion. Julius was actually part of the Young CommunistLeague at the age of 14. Julius was also part of the International Workers Orderalong with his wife Ethel as well. Before the U.S. was even involved in World War II,the Soviets had already infiltrated and had dedicated loyalists to the communistcause inside of the United States. In the fall of 1940 Julius was hired in the war department for U.S. ArmySignal Corps. Julius finally found an in to get vital information and try to help thecommunist cause. The real person behind the Soviet spy ring was Anatoli Yakovlev.Yakovlev was actually part of the Russian consulate in New York and that was whenhe was able to recruit Julius Rosenberg. Yakovlev’s mission was to steal U.S. atomicbomb research. With the recruitment of Rosenberg the task finally had legs behind itand was able to develop. David Greenglass Ethel’s brother had joined the U.S. Army in 1943. By 1944,he was finally working on the Manhattan Project, which was the building of theatomic bomb. This was Rosenberg and Yakovlev’s break to finally obtaininformation about the atom bomb. While the Manhattan Project was being testedand worked on in New Mexico, Greenglass had to somehow get the information back
to Rosenberg and Yakovlev. Yakovlev even listed the help of Harry Gold a fellowcommunist supporter, to be the deliverer of Greenglass’s information. Gold wouldpass information from Greenglass back to Rosenberg about the atomic bomb. Goldwould use either himself as the deliverer or even sometimes using Greenglass’s wifeRuth as a courier. By 1945 Rosenberg was then dismissed from his job at the U.S. Army SignalCorps after his communist party involvement was discovered. Rosenberg wouldhowever continue to spy for the Soviet Union. In 1946 Greenglass was honorablydischarged from the U.S. Army and was no longer working on projects such as theManhattan Project. Greenglass also had a change of heart when he thought that theSoviet Union was more interested in world domination, rather than spreading theCommunist way throughout the world. Greenglass no longer continued spying for Russia, but Rosenberg continuedto spread information to the Soviet Union. By 1950 the entire spy ring would cometo a meteoric fall. A physicist by the name of Klaus Fuchs had been arrested andcharged for espionage. Klaus had been working on the Manhattan Project as welland was passing on information to the Soviet Union. While this seemed totallyunrelated it really wasn’t. Klaus was connected to Harry Gold the same wayGreenglass was connected to him. Once the FBI got wind that Gold was the courierthey arrested him as well. After Gold admitted to spying for the Russians he beganopening up about whom he was working with. Gold’s testimony brought to lightDavid Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg, Julius Rosenberg, and Anatoli Yakovlev.
By July 1950, all of the parties involved in Gold’s testimony were chargedwith espionage. Anatoli Yakovlev was given a diplomatic pardon and was notcharged with any crimes. He was back in Russia 4 years prior to any indictments aswell. David Greenglass pleaded guilty and received 15 years in prison for espionage.Julius and Ethel Rosenberg pleaded not guilty and remained stating their innocenceeven during their death penalties. They were both put to death by electric chair onJune 19th, 1953. In a 1992 interview with Anatoli Yakovlev who was the General Consul inNew York, stated that the FBI probably uncovered less than half of the spy ring thatwas involved in the atom spy case. Yakovlev was also the ring leader, he wasinvolved in really organizing Gold, Rosenberg, and Greenglass to spy effectivelywithin the United States. He stated that his network still had many unknown parts atthe time that were never found out. This makes one think that there is moreinformation out there that the Soviets uncovered. It also would lead to theassumption that there is more than likely a group of spies still in the U.S. in morecurrent times. Once the Rosenberg case was made aware of the public many peoplefeared the Russians even more. People did not trust each other as much and thethought of a threat breaching our country was made very aware in the public.Americans overall have the feeling of security and the thought that no other countrycan infiltrate and hurt the United States. With this information the public shouldknow that America is a target of other countries and that it wouldn’t be impossiblefor spies to make progress. With the large amount of immigrants that have been inthis country for years a foreign country could easily assign a group of people to
blend in. Once these people can find a break like the Rosenberg’s did they caneventually get access to information if they go about it the right way and start torecruit, network, and eventually lead information back their country. It is a scary thought when you actually think about it. A small time familywith a communist devotion was able to get in the U.S. Army and eventually getinformation about some of our most top-secret weapons. Now this plan took yearsto make happen and much patience was involved, but once they got the rightopportunities it eventually lead to the atom bomb being constructed for the SovietUnion. This could also be thought of as the beginning of the Cold War. The Cold Waralmost brought the entire world at war again and would have brought very muchchaos and destruction to many countries, the United States included in my opinion. Russian spies have recently been discovered as of a couple years ago in theUnited States as well. They once again found a way to blend into modern Americansociety that way they were able to really get to work to find pertinent information totheir cause. Many people are so paranoid about the potential of a nuclear warRussian spies are a symbol for American fear. The nuclear threat would have thepossibility of coming from either Russia or the U.S. if an attack was going to happenanywhere in the world. Either of these countries involvement into any of the nuclearphase would almost guarantee the other country to choose a side. Russian spies are not just something in the past either. Just recently as 2010,there were 10 people who were accused of espionage. These spies were undercoverfor a very long time, but wound up being a completely different breed of spies fromthe ones described earlier. These spies were not as moved by the communist cause
as the Rosenberg’s. These spies were actually accused by their peers of asking forfishy amounts of money. Many of them would ask for money then the budget wouldcall for and they would place it under travel or living expense. One couple even hadRussia purchase them a house and claimed that it would make operations gosmoothly. They were basically sent over and told to infiltrate policymakers, getweapons information, and strategic information about the U.S. They are sent overand develop real “American” lives. They get odd jobs to make ends meet, they get toknow their neighbors and throw parties. One of the arrested spies even was flashierthan the rest, by driving around a sports car and having a pretty girlfriend. Some ofthese spies were getting very close to some of the information they were seeking bybefriending U.S. cabinet members and one even took a job as a confidant. These spies were considered to be elite in the Russian SVR, which is themodern day KGB. The U.S. found out about these spies from Alexander Poteyev, anAmerican spy in Russian foreign intelligence who was fleeing Moscow. Russia wastrying to imprison him for treason and desertion. Which after learning about theRussian justice system would have basically been a death sentence for the man. Thethen Russian president Dmitry Medvedev for four American spies previouslyarrested swapped the ten arrested spies. Upon the Russian spies arrival back to theKremlin they were awarded the highest honor at the Kremlin. These cases show that even in today’s way of living there are still manysecrets that both countries have. The intelligence of both countries is extremely vitalto either if anything as far as war is to happen. In my opinion it also shows a lack oftrust between either countries. They still have spies in America today and it is
almost guaranteed that the U.S. most definitely has people over in Russia as well. If itworries the government it most definitely is a concern for the people as well. American culture is most certainly not immune to infiltration no matter whatany government entities try to tell the people. In modern American media also triesto make it aware of the fact that this could happen. I believe that it why you seeshows, movies, or books about Russian spies in the U.S., it is a ploy to get you to buyinto the reality that this type of thing actually happens. Our society, ever since its origin has been a melting pot of immigrants. Peoplecome to this place start a new life and are given a chance to succeed. With that saidpeople aren’t necessarily paranoid that everyone around them is a spy trying toobtain information like the Cold War days, but there should be a bit of awareness.To this day I believe that it still scares this society and it should. All of these attacksand fighting you see in the Middle East is so close to setting off a chain reaction ofwars that could greatly affect the entire world. With people choosing alliances andpicking sides this could easily expand into a larger scale of situations that could leadto nuclear attacks. These spies in both Russia and the U.S. are just proof that bothare still trying to remain a step ahead of the other and this scares American society.Sources1) http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/the-atom-spy-case2) http://www.hanford.gov/c.cfm/oci/ci_spy.cfm?dossier=453) http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/31/nation/la-na-russian-spies-20111101
Soviet Spies in the United States By: Jacob Milan Contemporary Global Issues 12-10-12