Monday, April 11, 2011

Disappointing. (Kim Philby In Moscow 1963-88)


          On his defection to Moscow in 1963, Philby had been dismayed to discover that he held only agent status in the KGB, did not hold officer rank and was not even allowed to set foot  inside the Lubyanka.  For the first five years of his Moscow exile, however, he was kept occupied by long debriefing sessions, helping to ghostwrite the memoirs of Konon Molody (published under his alias “Gordon Lonsdale”) and writing a sprightly, but tendentious memoir of his own career as a Soviet agent inside SIS, published in 1968 under the title of My Silent War.   Philby made no mention of the disappointments of his life in Moscow.  Instead, he claimed that , “As I look over Moscow from my study window, I can see the solid foundations of the future I glimpsed at Cambridge.”  Philby concluded his preface with words which were intended to inspire others:

"It is a sobering thought, that for the power of the Soviet Union and the Communist idea, the Old World, if not the whole world, would now be ruled by Hitler and Hirohito.  It is a matter of great pride to me that I was invited , at so early an age, to play my infinitesimal part in building up that power… When the proposition [to join Soviet intelligence] was made to me, I did not hesitate.  One does not look twice at an offer of enrollment in an elite force.”

Kim Philby photographed on the street in Moscow, 1970s

Lubyanka, KGB Headquarters (originally built as All Russian Insurance Company), before 1917. Click on photo to enlarge.

Kim Philby, USSR commemorative stamp, 1990

Excerpt: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB.
by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, New York, Basic Books, 1999, page 415.


  1. Enthralling stuff. That's old Edwin Newman interviewing handsome Kim the Killer.

  2. For all my interest in this subject, I had until a couple of days ago never seen the Philby interview footage, which I found gripping. Hoping perhaps to see the wheels spin, as you can do with some people, I found Philby to be an impenetrable wall. I felt like Superman (in this context only) trying to see through lead. Curtis