Krivitsky, Walter

(1899–1941)
   Born Samuel Ginsberg in Russian Poland, Krivitsky joined the Bolshevik Party in 1917 and entered military intelligence as an illegal. Working first in Eastern Europe and then in Western Europe, Krivitsky became a senior GRU officer, recruiting and running agents. He was in effect the GRU illegal rezident for Western Europe. In 1937, following the assassination by the NKVD of his colleague and friend Ignatz Poretsky, Krivitsky decided to defect to the United States in the autumn of 1937. Unlike other early defectors, Krivitsky took a very public stance, meeting with anti-Stalinists and writing articles for the popular press, appearing before a congressional committee, and authoring the popular best-seller In Stalin’s Secret Service. Krivitsky in 1938–1940 came under intense pressure from American communists and fellow travelers, who sought his extradition to the Soviet Union. Krivitsky survived due to the support of a small coterie of anti-Stalinist intellectuals. He traveled to Canada and then to London, where he was debriefed in detail by the British intelligence and security services. His information identified important Soviet spies in London and gave the British leads to moles deep within the British establishment, which were not followed up.
   Krivitsky continued to speak and write about the Soviet intelligence services and their threat to the United States. In February 1941 he traveled to Washington and was found dead—an apparent suicide—in his hotel room. Krivitsky had frequently told his supporters that the Soviet services would kill him and try to make it look like a suicide. There still is no convincing evidence to prove whether Krivitsky was murdered or committed suicide. His death silenced an important witness, who was providing accurate information about the scope of Soviet intelligence operations inside the United States.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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