As our music editor has opined, the world has changed since the digital revolution.
Remember Kim Philby, who spied for the USSR? Fiendishly clever? Ahead of the technological game? A modern spook whose expertise led his British masters up the garden path?
Well – no. A filmed master class he conducted in the DDR in ’81 shows what an amateur affair it was. He ‘borrowed’ paper files every day, took them home to be copied and returned them the next day! No fancy equipment, no 007 tricks, no subtlety at all.
The Beeb has the story. Fascinating.
6 thoughts on “A different world”
Just listened to the broadcast via i-player radio. While no doubt being of great significance to historians It was rather unexciting and farcical. Elements of black and white comedy come to the fore as Philby defects by giving his “watcher” the slip by persuading his shadower to go skiing. Fictionally, he’d probably have shot him on the ski lift.
Le Carre deserves a medal for making that world exciting!
Blush, read that as “come to the fore”. Please edit J-man before anyone else appears.
I’ll bet that MacLean, Burgess and Philby weren’t the only ones.
As with most things the truth is often very dull. Back then it was easier to get away with than today, though the risks were — and remain — extremely high. My favourite are the Chinese. They do not acknowledge committing espionage. If any of their spies are caught they’re out on their own and no one will help them.
Jazz – Erm, Anthony Blunt was stripped of his knighthood and sinecure job in the Establishment after being exposed as the fourth man after Philby, Burgess and Maclean. Roger Hollis, the erstwhile Director General of MI5, remains in the frame as the elusive ‘fifth’.
I have copies of Miranda Carter’s biography of Blunt alongside Peter Wright’s ‘Spycatcher’ on the shelves should you need any cross referencing.