The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

FOUR
THE MAGNIFICENT FIVE

Among the select group of inter-war heroes of foreign intelligence whose portraits hang today on the walls of the SVR's Memory Room at Yasenevo is the Austrian Jew Arnold Deutsch, probably the most talented of all the Great Illegals. According to an SVR official eulogy, the portrait immediately "attracts the visitor's attention" to "its intelligent, penetrating eyes, and strong-willed countenance." Deutsch's role as an illegal was not publicly acknowledged by the KGB until 1990.1 Even now, some aspects of his career are considered unsuitable for publication in Moscow.

Deutsch's academic career was one of the most brilliant in the history of Soviet intelligence. In July 1928, two months after his twenty-fourth birthday and less than five years after entering Vienna University as an undergraduate, he was awarded the degree of PhD with distinction. Though his thesis had been on chemistry, Deutsch had also become deeply immersed in philosophy and psychology. His description of himself in university documents throughout his student years as an observant Jew (mosaisch)2 was probably intended to conceal his membership of the Communist Party. Deutsch's religious faith had been replaced by an ardent commitment to the Communist International's vision of a new world order which would free the human race from exploitation and alienation. The revolutionary myth image of the world's first worker--peasant state blinded both Deutsch and the ideological agents he later recruited to the increasingly brutal reality of Stalin's Russia. Immediately after leaving Vienna University, Deutsch began secret work as a courier for OMS, Comintern's international liaison department, traveling to Romania, Greece, Palestine and Syria. His Austrian wife, Josefine, whom he married in 1929, was also recruited by OMS.3

Deutsch's vision of a new world order included sexual as well as political liberation. At about the time he began covert work for Comintern, he became publicly involved in the "sex-pol" (sexual politics) movement, founded by the German Communist psychologist and sexologist Wilhelm Reich, which opened clinics to bring birth control and sexual enlightenment to Viennese workers.4 At this stage of his career, Reich was engaged in an ambitious attempt to integrate Freudianism with Marxism and in the early stages of an eccentric research program on human sexual behavior which later earned him an undeserved reputation as "the prophet of the better orgasm."5Deutsch enthusiastically embraced Reich's teaching that political and

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