Live Double

   / Dead Double
   One of the means used by the Soviet intelligence services in establishing illegals was the live double/ dead double ploy. Intelligence officers would obtain a birth certificate for a child who had died within the first two years of life. The certificate was then used to obtain further documents, such as a passport. The illegal would be given the dead double’s documents, along with other documents to create a legend for the new live double. When William Fisher entered the United States as an illegal in 1949, he carried the passport of Emil Robert Goldfus, who had died as a twoyear-old child five decades previously.
   As it became more difficult to find dead doubles in the United States and Great Britain, the KGB and the GRU began to document many illegals as Germans who had been born outside the borders of Germany and had to flee to Germany with the defeat of the Third Reich. In Eastern Europe, archives and church records were in shambles, and there were many dead doubles to be exploited. When Rudolph Herrmann entered Canada in 1962, his wife was using the identity of a German woman born in Czechoslovakia who had perished in an Allied bombing raid in the last days of the war. KGB Line N (Illegal Support) officers in rezidenturas had the duty of collecting documents to create legends for illegals like Fisher. They sought out agents with sources of legal, school, and military records to buttress these legends. Especially prized were documents from small towns where birth and death records were poorly kept, and where school records were nonexistent. The live double/dead double ploy is now used by terrorists and gangsters, as well as other people trying to change their identities.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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