OGPU and the army

Ben MacIntyre’s article Did MI6 let Cold War spy Kim Philby escape to Moscow? in The Times, 28 September 2019. Here is my comment posted on the newspaper’s website.

[Kim Philby:] I joined the OGPU as one joined the army.

This sort of argument is consistent with what apparently was routine Communist intelligence training in presenting a personal narrative.

I have the personal misfortune to be a brother in law of an officer working for the Polish Communist Ministry of Internal Affairs, Jerzy Skwarczyński, a graduate of a military school. He appeared in our family in 1979, when he married my older sister. I was still in high school then. Professionalism, patriotism and subordination of an army type were part of the story. The problem was that both of my parents were former inmates of Communist concentration camps. But they couldn’t do much about their daughter’s choice.

Today, I know beyond any doubt that both my sister and my brother in law continually worked against me and against my parents, not only before 1990, but the whole time after that. When I got married, this was extended to my own family as well.

The apologetic argument of either following orders or working for a greater good frequently comes up, whenever someone’s ties to Communist intelligence or Communist party are discussed. So, Philby’s statement to this effect is nothing really new and nothing surprising.


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