Igor Gouzenko was a Russian cipher clerk who worked in Ottawa, Canada, encoding communication to and from Moscow. He moved to Canada with his wife, Svetlana and his daughter, Evelyn, because of the oppressive lifestyle under the rule of Joseph Stalin. He later published a novel about his life in the Soviet Union in his in his book, The Fall of the Titan. When M15 agents of Britain’s Security Service found him suspicious and asked him to return to the Soviet Union, he refused because of the unappealing life he would have to go back to. He truly enjoyed and appreciated the freedoms he received in Canada.
The M15’s suspicions were proved correct when Gouzenko was later revealed to be a KGB intelligence officer working for the Committee of Public Safety. After working as a clerk for a few years, Gouzenko had collected information on a number of Canadian officials and realized Joseph Stalin’s plan to steal nuclear plans. He first revealed his story to the Canadian Mounted Police as well as the Ottawa Journal Newspaper, but they were not convinced by his story. On September 5, 1945, he rushed into a newsroom claiming that he had evidence of a Soviet spy base in Britain. He brought 109 documents with him as sources of proof. After being investigated by Kim Philby and Roger Hollis of Section IX, he provided enough information to arrest and convict 22 agents and 15 Soviet spies in Canada such as Klaus Fuchz, Fred Rose and Allan May. His interrogator, Roger Hollis, was later suspected of being a Soviet mole which created suspicions about possible inaccuracies reported by him and other M15 agents. Suspicions of espionage rose, causing 70 other British officials to be expelled for spy activity by 1983. When Gouzenko heard he would be sent home to the Soviet Union, he decided to defect. To avoid threats and danger, he and his family sought asylum in Ontario, assuming new identities.
Gouzenko’s testimony revealed that he had evidence of Soviet spies in Canada, which spread anti-communist feelings throughout North America. Some of the files are believed to have aided in other communist espionage investigations such as the Rosenburg trial. Other countries besides Canada became increasingly suspicious of that Soviet agents were spying on them. Fear of Soviet infiltration resulted in feelings of the Cold War period.
Researched by Becca Baassiri
Cosby High School
Volunteer for the Cold War Museum
1) “The Gouzenko Affair.” CBC Archives. 2008. CBC. 3 Jun 2008
2) Simkin, John. “Igor Gouzenko.” Spartacus Educational. 3 Jun 2008
For additional information click here.
Note: Links to external sites will open in new browser windows and are not endorsed by The Cold War Museum.