Kim Philby

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Kim Philby : biography

1 January 1912 – 11 May 1988

London and Spain

In London, Philby enrolled at the School of Slavonic languages to learn Russian, helped by his father, a friend of the director. The school trained people for a career in diplomacy or the intelligence services. Philby’s Russian was never good and he soon took a job at a monthly magazine, the World Review of Reviews, for which he wrote articles and letters (sometimes under pseudonyms) and occasionally served as acting editor.

At this point, Philby and Litzi separated. They remained friends and divorced only in 1946. When the Germans threatened to overrun Paris in 1940, where she was then living, he arranged her escape to England. In 1936 he joined a trade magazine, the Anglo-Russian Trade Gazette, as editor. The paper was failing, and its owner changed its role to covering Anglo-German trade. Philby engaged in a concerted effort to make contact with Germans such as Joachim von Ribbentrop, at that time the German ambassador in London. He joined the Anglo-German Fellowship, which was supported both by the British and German Nazi governments, and made many trips to Berlin.

In February 1937, Philby travelled to Seville, Spain. At the time, Spain was embroiled in a bloody civil war, triggered by the rebellion of Nationalist forces under General Francisco Franco against the socialist Republican government of President Manuel Azaña. Philby worked at first as a freelance journalist; from May 1937, he served as a correspondent for The Times, reporting from the side of the pro-Franco forces. He was also working for both Soviet and British intelligence, posting letters in a crude code to a fictitious girlfriend—Mlle Dupont in Paris—for the Russians. He used a simpler system for MI6 delivering post at Hendaye, France, for the British Embassy in Paris. When visiting Paris after the war, he was shocked to discover that the address that he used for Mlle Dupont was that of the Soviet Embassy. His controller in Paris, the Latvian Ozolin-Haskins (code name Pierre), was shot in Moscow in 1937 during Stalin’s purge. His successor, Boris Shpak (code-name Bazarov), a Lithuanian, suffered the same fate two years later during the purges.

Both services were interested in the combat performance of the new Messerschmitt Bf109s and Panzer I and IIs deployed with Nationalist forces in Spain. Philby told the British, after a direct question to Franco, that German troops would never be permitted to cross Spain to attack Gibraltar.

His Soviet controller at the time, Theodore Maly, reported in April 1937 to the NKVD that he had personally briefed Philby on the need "to discover the system of guarding Franco and his entourage." So as to assist in Franco’s assassination, Philby was instructed to report on vulnerable points in Franco’s security and recommend ways to gain access to him and his staff.Boris Volodarsky: History Today magazine, London, 5 August 2010 However, such an act was never a real possibility; upon debriefing Philby in London on 24 May 1937, Maly wrote to the NKVD, "Though devoted and ready to sacrifice himself, [Philby] does not possess the physical courage and other qualities necessary for this [assassination] attempt."

In December 1937, during the battle of Teruel, a Republican shell hit just in front of the car in which Philby was travelling with the correspondents Edward J. Neil of the Associated Press, Bradish Johnson of Newsweek, and Ernest Sheepshanks retrieved 27 November 2008 of Reuters. Johnson was killed outright, and Neil and Sheepshanks soon died of their injuries. Philby suffered only a minor head wound.

The Spanish Army Red Cross of Military Merit awarded by [[General Francisco Franco to Kim Philby at Salamanca town on 2 March 1938]] As a result of this accident, Philby, who was well-liked by the Nationalist forces whose victories he trumpeted, was awarded the Red Cross of Military Merit by Franco on 2 March 1938. Philby found that the award proved helpful in obtaining access to fascist circles: "Before then," he later wrote, "there had been a lot of criticism of British journalists from Franco officers who seemed to think that the British in general must be a lot of Communists because so many were fighting with the International Brigades. After I had been wounded and decorated by Franco himself, I became known as ‘the English-decorated-by-Franco’ and all sorts of doors opened to me."