|Award(s)||Hero of the Soviet Union (posthumous)|
|Birth name||Harold Adrian Russell Philby|
|Born||1 January 1912
Ambala, Punjab, British India
|Died||11 May 1988 (aged 76)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Buried||Kuntsevo Cemetery, Ryabinova Ulitsa, Moscow, Russia|
|Spouse||Alice (Litzi) Friedman
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby or H.A.R. Philby (OBE: 1946-1965), (1 January 1912 – 11 May 1988) was a high-ranking member of British intelligence who worked as a spy for and later defected to the Soviet Union. A communist, he served as an NKVD and KGB operative.
In 1963, Philby was revealed as a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. His activities were moderated only by Stalin's concern that Philby might be a double agent.
Born in Ambala, Punjab, British India, Philby was the son of St. John Philby, a British Army officer, diplomat, explorer, author, and Orientalist who converted to Islam and was advisor to King Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia. He was nicknamed after the protagonist in Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim about a young Irish Indian boy who spies for the British in India during the 19th century. He was educated at Aldro prep school and Westminster School which he left in 1928 at the age of 16. Philby studied history and economics at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was introduced to and became an admirer of Communism. He graduated in 1933 with an upper second class degree in economics. It has been suggested that his father, while not a spy himself, was opposed to the British establishment and was thus Kim Philby's inspiration and probable mentor. The elder Philby died in 1960.
Philby asked one of his tutors, Maurice Dobb, how he could serve the Communist movement. Dobb referred him to a Communist front organisation which in turn passed Philby to the Comintern underground in Vienna, Austria. The front organisation was the World Federation for the Relief of the Victims of German Fascism in Paris. The World Federation was one of innumerable fronts operated by the German Communist Willi Münzenberg, who was a leading Soviet agent in the West.
The Soviet intelligence service itself (then the OGPU) recruited Philby on the strength of his work for the Comintern. His case officers included Arnold Deutsch (codename OTTO), Theodore Maly (codename MAN), and Alexander Orlov (codename SWEDE). All of them were to suffer under Stalin's purges.
In 1933, Kim Philby went to Vienna to aid refugees who were fleeing Nazi Germany. There he met Litzi Friedman, a Jewish Communist with whom he entered into a marriage of convenience, bringing her to Britain in order to save her from persecution in Austria. The marriage did not outlast the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, as ordered by Moscow, Philby began cultivating a pro-fascist persona, joining the Anglo-German Fellowship and editing its pro-Hitler magazine.
On 3 February 1937 Philby traveled to Seville, Spain, via Lisbon with Litzi Friedman, who was to remain in Portugal as an emergency communication link until Philby reached Seville, where he began work as a freelance journalist and a Soviet agent, ordered to report on the security arrangements at Francisco Franco's headquarters. He was arrested as a suspicious alien while attending a bullfight at Córdoba, but was merely warned about unauthorized traveling and sent back to Seville. He had disposed of his codebook before it was discovered and requested a new one, which was delivered to him by Guy Burgess at a meeting in Gibraltar. Philby passed his report on Franco's headquarters to Burgess who relayed it to London, and shortly afterwards Philby was ordered back to London to meet with Deutsch and Maly.
Reportedly, it had been intended that Philby assassinate Franco, but Maly reported to Moscow that while Philby was a loyal and willing agent he lacked the necessary courage to carry out the mission and instead proposed that he develop his career as a news correspondent. On 24 May 1937 he was appointed by The Times as the paper's accredited special correspondent with the Nationalist forces under Francisco Franco, with a generous expense account of £50 a month.
Among Philby's espionage duties for the Soviets was the writing of spurious love letters interlaced with codewords, and addressed to a fictitious girl in Paris who lived at 78 Rue de Grenelle. Years later he discovered, to his fury, that this was in fact the address of the Soviet Embassy in Paris, and the possibility had existed that he could have easily been found out.
In December 1937, near the Spanish town of Teruel, a shell hit just in front of the car in which Philby was traveling with the correspondents Edward J. (Eddie) Neil of the Associated Press, Bradish Johnson of Newsweek, and Ernest Sheepshanks  of Reuters. Johnson was killed outright, and Neil and Sheepshanks soon died of their wounds, but Philby suffered only a minor head wound. Tom Duprée, then British honorary consul at Saint Jean de Luz, France, proposed decades later that Philby had set a bomb in the car to kill Sheepshanks before he blew his cover. Professor Donald Read considers this highly improbable, though.
Philby's reports were so favorable to the Nationalist cause that, like the three victims of the accident, he was personally awarded the Red Cross of Military Merit by Franco on March 2, 1938.
In 1940, Philby applied on Burgess's advice for a vacancy in Section D of SIS (later MI6), which had been set up in 1938, and subsequently met with War Office intermediary Marjorie Maxse, who assessed him as a suitable candidate. He then met with Maxse a few days later, Maxse being accompanied by Burgess who had volunteered to verify her assessment of Philby's suitability. Eventually the editor of The Times received a phone call asking whether Philby was available for war work and he was hired as a British intelligence officer.
When Section D was absorbed by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in the summer of 1940 (and Burgess was fired for "irreverence"), Philby was appointed as an instructor in the arts of "black propaganda" at the SOE's training establishment in Beaulieu, Hampshire.
In September 1941 Philby began working for Section V, the Iberian Section, in charge of Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, and Africa. He soon became friends with the chief archivist and thereby gained access to files on Spain and Portugal, and was able to pass on to his Soviet controller information on SIS operations against Soviet targets. During 1942-43 Philby's responsibilities were expanded to include North Africa and Italy and he was made the deputy head of Section V by its head, Felix Cowgill, "in all intelligence matters".
In early 1944 SIS re-established Section IX, its prewar anti-Soviet section. Cowgill, who had previously headed, was placed in charge. In late 1944 it became known that "C", Sir Stewart Menzies, wanted to enlarge the section's mandate, Philby was instructed by his Soviet superiors to ensure that he became head of the section and eventually he managed to undermine Cowgill and accomplish this. As a Soviet agent, Philby had accomplished something of a coup.
During the two years he spent as head of Section IX, Philby had access to the identities of British intelligence officers and agents, and also to hundreds of classified documents from the Foreign Office, the War Office, and the Admiralty.
All went well for Philby until August 1945, when Konstantin Volkov, an officer of the NKVD (later KGB) decided to defect to Britain with the promise that he would reveal the names of Soviet agents in SIS and the Foreign Office. When the report reached Philby's desk, with a bit of luck and clever scheming, he managed to get the assignment. He tipped off Moscow and then flew to Istanbul by way of Cairo. With the plane being delayed by storms, the ambassador being on his yacht in the Bosporus, the Russians had time to kidnap Volkov and Philby returned to London after a close call.
After the war, Philby was sent as Head of Station to Istanbul under the cover of First Secretary to the British Embassy. While there, he received a visit from Guy Burgess. File KV 5/36 (1946) of British Military Intelligence contains the warning from Kim Philby to the Security Service of 9 July 1946 warning of possible Irgun attacks against the British legation in Beirut, just before the attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The File also includes discussion on the conflicting claims as to whether or not a warning was given.
In 1949, Philby's next — and last — assignment was as First Secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, where he acted as liaison between the British Embassy and the newly formed CIA. His luck ran out, however. First came the discovery of the cryptonym HOMER (Donald Maclean) in the VENONA decrypts — a "jigsaw puzzle" of decrypts, decoded piecemeal because a Soviet code clerk had used a one-time pad twice; then came another visit from Guy Burgess who ensconced himself in the Philby household for a year and proceeded to behave inappropriately. Burgess was declared persona non grata, as was Philby soon after.
In January 1949, the British Government was informed that Venona project intercepts showed that nuclear secrets were passed to the Soviet Union from the British Embassy in Washington in 1944 and 1945 by an agent code-named 'Homer'. In 1950, Philby was asked to help track down this agent. Knowing from the start that 'Homer' was his old university friend, Second Secretary Donald Maclean, Philby warned Maclean in 1951, leading to the defection of both Burgess and Maclean.
After the defection of his two friends, Philby was asked to resign from SIS, and he spent the next several years being questioned by MI5 and SIS. Since he did not break, however, he was finally cleared of being the "Third Man" by the Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan in the House of Commons. Eventually he was re-employed as an SIS agent, with the cover as a correspondent in Beirut for The Observer and The Economist.
In October 1949 Philby arrived in Washington as British intelligence liaison to the newly created US intelligence agencies under the National Security Act of 1947. Philby received Venona material which the US was sharing with the UK, but he did not have information about the source, since Venona was one of the most highly rated top secrets. He shared a house in Washington, at 4100 Nebraska Avenue, N.W, with his friend from the Cambridge days, fellow British diplomat, intelligence officer and Soviet penetration agent, Guy Burgess.
In 1949, Philby was in Washington, D.C., as the MI6 liaison to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The two agencies launched an attempted revolution in Albania. The exiled King Zog had offered his troops and other volunteers to help, but, for three years, every attempted landing in Albania met with Albanian army ambush (Albanians knew the emergency radio call routine).
Philby is believed to have passed to Moscow information on the small size of the United States' stockpile of atomic weapons and its capacity (at that time, severely limited) to produce new atomic bombs. Based in part on that information, Stalin went ahead with a 1948 blockade of West Berlin and began a large-scale offensive armament of Kim Il Sung's North Korean Army and Air Force that would later culminate in the Korean War.
When Maclean was identified in April 1951, surveillance commenced to obtain evidence independent of Venona, as the US and UK did not want to reveal the existence of Venona. Maclean defected to Moscow with Guy Burgess a month later in May 1951. Philby came under instant suspicion as the "Third Man" who had tipped them off.
Philby had already been suspected by James Jesus Angleton, who had heard Philby declare after receiving his OBE in 1946, that "This country could do with a stiff dose of proper Socialism." CIA Director General Bedell Smith sent an ultimatum to the British that either Philby be fired, or they break off the intelligence relationship. He also made it clear to Sir Stuart Menzies that Philby was no longer acceptable to the CIA as an SIS liaison and had to leave the US.
Philby was summoned back to London in June 1951 by Menzies, where he denied knowing Maclean and said that he had been fooled completely by Burgess. His interviewers were unimpressed and Philby was unhappy at the prospect of being questioned as part of the inquiry into the escape of Burgess and Maclean. However, during subsequent interrogations Philby defended his actions by claiming that he had been acting as a double agent with the permission of SIS and he had indeed been given permission to approach the Soviets and pretend that he was willing to work for them. Following the inquiry, Philby was officially discharged from SIS but continued employment with them, working in Cyprus among other places.
Philby was denied his pension until an internal investigation failed to come up with definitive proof of his work with the NKVD. On 25 October 1955, against all expectations, he was "cleared" by Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan in an ill-timed statement made in the House of Commons: "While in government service he carried out his duties ably and conscientiously, and I have no reason to conclude that Mr. Philby has at any time betrayed the interests of his country, or to identify him with the so-called 'Third Man', if indeed there was one."
Thus, in 1956 Philby was again in the employ of MI6 as an "informant on retainer" and was supposedly involved in Operation Musketeer, the British, French, and Israeli plan to attack Egypt and depose Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Better attested is his role as Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Economist, which also led to his exposure. In late 1962, a British-Jewish woman, Mrs. Flora Solomon, was attending a cocktail party in Tel Aviv and made a comment about how Philby, the journalist in Beirut, displayed sympathy for Arabs in his articles. She said that his masters were the Soviets and that she knew that he had always worked for them. The comment was overheard by someone at the party and was relayed to the offices of MI5 in London, which sent Victor Rothschild to interview her. Mrs. Solomon declared that she would never testify against Philby, but she admitted that he had told her he was a spy and had tried to recruit her to the Communist cause.
Although MI5 and MI6 could not immediately agree on how to deal with Philby, it was eventually agreed that a personal friend of Philby from his MI6 days, Nicholas Elliott, would be sent to confront him in Beirut. There seemed to be a constant leak of information and it is alleged that there was a high-level MI5 mole at the time. Although it is unclear whether Philby was aware of the developments against him vis-a-vis Flora Solomon, or whether he knew about the defection of Anatoly Golitsyn (which led to the arrest, escape, and defection to Moscow of fellow MI6 officer and Soviet agent George Blake), there is evidence that in the last few months of 1962 Philby began to drink heavily and his behaviour became increasingly erratic. Philby may have also been warned by Yuri Modin, a top Soviet handler who had served in the Soviet embassy in London, when he travelled to Beirut in September 1962. Modin was the controller of the "Cambridge Five".
It is reported that the first thing that Philby said upon meeting with Elliott was that he was "half expecting" to see him. Many sources claim that he confessed immediately when confronted with the evidence, while others, including Philby himself, have maintained that he continued to downplay the accusations. Although a further interrogation was scheduled in the last week of January 1963, Philby disappeared on 23 January. Records later revealed that the Dolmatova, a Soviet freighter, was called to port in Beirut on this date and had left so quickly its cargo remained scattered on the dock.
CIA operative Miles Copeland, a close friend of Kim Philby, describes how Philby was constantly being suspected of spying for the Soviets but succeeded in skillfully evading such suspicions for some time. Copeland was once handed an "ultra-thorough checklist" from his superior in an attempt to see if Philby committed any suspicious actions as prescribed by this form; he first objected to the idea of spying on Philby since he was his "friend”, but obliged under pressure later on. After Copeland's painstaking examination was over, he handed in his checklist to his superior, with none of the points in the checklist checked and the conclusion that Philby had not committed any suspicious acts. His superior responded by saying: "Aha, now that’s interesting, even a perfectly normal person must have done something, at least one thing, that is deemed suspicious by this checklist."
After Philby's defection, the CIA and MI6 largely gave up their attempts to plant agents in Soviet territory. Philby was also able to tell Moscow just how much the CIA knew about its operations. Moscow asked Philby not to bother saving spies who had served their purpose, but he sat on several reports that revealed the names of other Soviet spies anyway.
Kim Philby surfaced in Moscow, and quickly discovered that he was not a colonel in the KGB as he had been led to believe, but still just agent TOM. It was 10 years before he walked through the doors of KGB headquarters. He suffered severe bouts of alcoholism. In Moscow, he seduced Maclean's American wife, Melinda, and abandoned his own wife, Eleanor, who left Russia in 1965. His autobiography, My Silent War, was published in the West in 1968.
According to information contained in the Mitrokhin Archive, the head of KGB counterintelligence, Oleg Kalugin, met Philby in 1972 and found him to be 'a wreck of a man'; "The bent figure caromed off the walls as he walked. Reeking of vodka, he mumbled something unintelligible in atrocious, slurred Russian."
Over the next few years Kalugin and the Young Turks in the Foreign Intelligence Directorate rehabilitated Philby, using him to devise active measures, and to run seminars for young agents about to be sent to Great Britain, Australia, or Ireland. In 1972 he married a Russian woman, Rufina Ivanova Pukhova, who was twenty years his junior, with whom he lived until his death at age 76, in 1988. Only posthumously did he receive the praise and appreciation which had escaped him in life; he was awarded a hero's funeral and numerous posthumous medals by a grateful USSR, including the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction awarded for heroic feats in service to the Soviet State and society.
Perhaps Greene, always intuitive, resigned because he suspected that Philby was a Russian penetration agent. … If Greene did suspect Philby, it would be just the kind of thing that would catapult him out of the service rather than share his suspicions with the authorities.’
In 1933, during a visit to Vienna, Philby met Alice (Litzi) Friedmann, an Austrian communist of Hungarian-Jewish origins, the daughter of a government official. They were married in February 1934 and left for England.
In London in 1941, he began to live with Aileen Furse, the daughter of Captain George Furse of the Royal Horse Artillery, and they had children while he was still married to Litzi. However, a divorce was finalized in December 1946, and a week later he married Aileen. They had three sons and two daughters together, and Aileen died in 1957. Philby had no other children.
In 1959, in Beirut, Philby married Eleanor Brewer, an American who had been married to an American journalist when he met her there. After Philby defected to the Soviet Union in 1963, Eleanor joined him in Moscow, but she left him in 1965 to return to the US. She died in 1968. Her book, Kim Philby: The Spy I Loved, was published around the same time. Philby had begun an affair with Donald Maclean's American wife Melinda, whose maiden name was Melinda Marling, probably in 1965. She left Maclean and went to live with Philby in 1968. However, they did not marry and Philby left her for a much younger woman named Rufina Ivanova, whom he married in 1971. Rufina Ivanova is still alive, and is a co-author of The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years (2000)