Mally, Theodore Stepanovich

   Possibly the greatest of the great Soviet illegals of the 1930s, Mally traveled a path that led him from one church militant to another, and to a martyr’s death. Captured on the Eastern Front during World War I, Mally, who had been ordained as a Roman Catholic deacon before entering the Hungarian army as an officer, joined the Bolsheviks and the Cheka. Following the civil war, he went abroad to recruit and run agents in England. He was fondly remembered by Kim Philby as the gentle man who taught him how to spy. Mally was a very careful operations officer, and his frequent complaints to Moscow about his inadequate cover prompted suspicions.
   Despite his success in recruiting agents in the British establishment, Mally was recalled to Moscow by Nikolai Yezhov. Mally apparently knew he was going to his death; he told a friend who had refused to return: “Don’t you see that I must go back? Shall I hide now? If I do, they will tell you the priest was a spy.” Mally was arrested on his return and tortured. He was tried on 20 September 1938, convicted of working for several hostile intelligence services, and shot the same evening. Following Joseph Stalin’s death, he was posthumously rehabilitated and his picture hangs in the service’s museum.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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