He Was the West’s Most Important Undercover Spy. An Affair Brought It All Down.


But this was no Soviet-style present trial. The defendant was not current in the dock, to be photographed and filmed making a damning confession of his crimes; even had he not, by April that yr, been past the quick attain of Poland’s authorities or navy, there was by no means any probability that he would have been publicly arraigned.

For nearly three years, Goleniewski had been the West’s most necessary spy, working undercover inside Communist intelligence providers in Poland and the Soviet Union. Utilizing the codename “Sniper,” he had despatched tons of of pages of Moscow’s navy and espionage secrets and techniques to the West. Polish intelligence and the KGB in Moscow had harbored suspicions that Goleniewski had been working covertly for the U.S. for a number of weeks, which could have been a consider his defection.

After he dropped his cowl and defected to the United States in January 1961, he went on to supply but extra very important intelligence secrets and techniques — finally figuring out greater than 1,600 Soviet bloc brokers spying in the West. Amongst the most necessary spies he uncovered had been George Blake, Moscow’s man inside Britain’s MI6; West Germany’s head of counter-intelligence; and a Swedish Air Pressure colonel who had bought U.S. and NATO secrets and techniques to Moscow for many years.

The court docket proceedings that day had been terse and to the level — the whole listening to was concluded properly earlier than the day’s finish — and occurred fully behind closed doorways. No report was printed in Poland’s state-controlled media, and there’s no proof that the CIA, or some other Western intelligence service, was even conscious it had taken place.

There was a purpose for this deliberate and strict secrecy: The embarrassment Goleniewski’s defection brought about to the intelligence operations of the Urząd Bezpieczeństwa (UB), Poland’s secret police company, in addition to to these of Soviet Bloc espionage businesses with which it labored, was devastating. Publicizing his defection, and the secrets and techniques he betrayed, would have solely deepened the wounds and highlighted the dramatically enfeebled place of the Soviet bloc spy networks to their counterparts in the West.

Hidden from public scrutiny at house, and out of the sight of its worldwide enemies, the Polish Intelligence Service was remarkably frank. The proof it introduced to the Warsaw Courtroom set out the particulars of Goleniewski’s profession as a spy, the chronology of his defection, and determined efforts by the UB to restrict the injury it brought about. However the trial additionally revealed his full private historical past — a historical past of affection affairs that had made him more and more sad along with his life in the Soviet bloc, and which was considerably at odds with the selectively edited biography he had given to the CIA.


Michał Goleniewski was born on Aug. 16, 1922, in Nieśwież, a metropolis in the northeast nook of Poland, near its border with the Soviet Union. His father, additionally named Michał, was an accountant; his mom, Janina Turynska, a housewife. Throughout the interwar years, the household moved to Wolsztyn, 800 kilometers to the west and near the border with Germany. Michał, Sr., labored for a brewery, a job that might not have helped his incipient alcoholism, whereas his spouse ran the house and introduced up their son.

Michał attended the native highschool, earlier than gimnazjum, or preparatory faculty, graduating simply earlier than the outbreak of struggle in 1939. By his personal account, given to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, he spent the years by which Poland was occupied by Hitler’s troops learning regulation at the College of Poznan — though subsequently he additionally claimed to have been arrested and imprisoned by the Nazi authorities on suspicion of belonging to an unlawful group.

The reality, as introduced to the Warsaw District Navy Courtroom, was considerably much less respectable than both of those different histories: “In the years 1940–1944 he labored as an accountant in agricultural properties at Tloka and Wroniawa in the Poznań Province,” the prosecutor reported, including that always this employment “was below German administration.” He had, in brief, been a collaborator.

When World Conflict II ended Goleniewski utilized for membership in the Polish Staff’ Occasion and began work — initially as a sentry, then as a clerk — at the new Communist authorities’s Ministry of Public Safety, the MBP, which, below the umbrella of the UB, oversaw the state’s home and international intelligence providers.

Over the subsequent 12 years he would rise steadily by means of the ranks of the MBP/UB. In 1946 he was awarded one among Poland’s highest honors — the Cross of Advantage — later to be supplemented by the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, cementing his standing as a dependable apparatchik in the new Communist state’s labyrinthine forms.

He additionally evidently had highly effective patrons inside the intelligence service. In 1948 he was promoted to chief of the Counter-Intelligence Division for the district of Poznan, a put up he would maintain till 1950. All through these two years, fellow officers made a succession of formal requests that Goleniewski needs to be investigated for “cooperating with the Nazi occupier and performing to the detriment of Polish residents.”

Every try was rapidly snuffed out: “cancelled in Warsaw,” based on notes on an inside Polish safety service report. By 1955 he was a division head inside the MBP’s Division 1, which managed civilian counterintelligence; no less than a part of his duties concerned monitoring members of the fragmented anti-communist resistance — a process which he pursued below the cowl id of “Dr. Roman Tarnowski,” an official of the Normal Prosecutor’s Workplace, and one which earned him a popularity as a relentless and unforgiving interrogator of dissidents.

On February 1, 1955, he was appointed deputy head of the scientific and intelligence department of Division 1. It can be his ultimate position and, like the positions which preceded it, introduced Goleniewski into shut contact with all of Poland’s navy and civilian espionage providers.

Based on the indictment in opposition to him:

As the Head of the Division VI Dep. 1 of the Ministry of the Inside, the suspect had entry to supplies constituting a state secret of particular significance. Particularly, he was completely oriented in the group of the work of the intelligence service of the Inside Ministry on the technical and scientific part, and knew the community of secret collaborators of Division VI … carried out by the Division in addition to the construction, duties, kinds and strategies of labor of Division 1 and cooperating models.

However Goleniewski’s obligations prolonged far past Poland’s borders. Throughout the Fifties he turned the KGB’s “level man” in Warsaw, combining an official position as the UB’s liaison to the Soviet intelligence service chiefs with a covert remit to temporary Moscow on the actions of his colleagues. Each jobs required him to journey all through the Soviet bloc states and, regularly, into the West.

It was clear from the prosecutors’ proof that they didn’t, then, realise, Goleniewski had been working with Western intelligence since 1958.

Regardless of the further calls for brought on by this twin position, the UB discovered Goleniewski to be a reliable and environment friendly employee on behalf of the Polish secret state. An inside efficiency overview, written by his quick boss, Colonel Witold Sienkiewicz, on August 25, 1960, reported that:

The work of the division headed by Comrade Goleniewski could be very numerous and apart from operational {qualifications} requires data of technical and financial issues. Regardless of this particular work, Comrade Goleniewski, having organizational expertise and self-denial at work, fulfills it. The contribution of Comrade Goleniewski’s work to the division is massive … He [has] gained expertise in working with brokers and works with them each legally and illegally with good outcomes.

Colonel Sienkiewicz did, nonetheless, be aware that Goleniewski’s conceitedness and unconcealed ambition had made him unpopular along with his fellow spies:

In relations inside the workplace and with colleagues he’s immodest. He considers himself the wisest and greatest on all the points entrusted to him. He makes judgements about individuals too swiftly, usually on the spur of the second, although he could revise them in the course of his work. He likes to indicate off his friendships and relate to extremely positioned personalities.

Extra tellingly, Sienkiewicz additionally famous his subordinate’s “tough and complex” private life. It was, Sienkiewicz recorded, a marital downside that adversely affected Goleniewski’s work; it might even be one among the motivations for his defection in January 1961.

Anna Diachenko was only one yr older than Michał Goleniewski, however her grownup life had been slightly harder than his seemingly easy rise. She was born in Russia in June 1921, however had come to Poland in the Nineteen Thirties and been granted citizenship. Throughout the first years of Nazi occupation, she was transported to Germany for pressured labor, earlier than escaping with a lover she had met in the work camps; from 1943 onwards they survived by marrying below a false id, then hiding from German troops in, or close to, Wolsztyn. In October 1944, Anna gave beginning to their daughter, Halina; however sooner or later earlier than or simply after the finish of the struggle — the UB’s in depth recordsdata don’t report a precise date — her husband died, leaving her to convey up the little one alone.

That modified in 1945 when she met Goleniewski; the couple had been married in March 1946 and Halina was formally registered as his adopted daughter. As his profession progressed, the household additionally grew; Danuta, one other daughter, was born in April, and a son, Jerzy, adopted in November 1950. Each youngsters had been fathered by Goleniewski.

The couple’s relationship was, nonetheless, deeply troubled. Anna suffered from psychological well being issues — most likely the results of her wartime experiences however exacerbated by Goleniewski’s frequent infidelity. She periodically walked out of their government-provided house on
Warsaw’s Solariego Avenue, and on no less than two events she was hospitalized for “delusional schizophrenia.”

By 1954 the marriage was — based on Goleniewski’s personal written account for his Polish intelligence employers — “in full disintegration.” Anna regularly accused him of “poisoning” or “destroying” her and had come to view her husband as “Enemy Quantity One.” When Goleniewski’s father died, in an ill-documented industrial accident in 1952, he introduced his mom Janina to dwell with them in the house; the transfer brought about but extra turmoil — Anna vehemently objected and finally “banished” her mother-in-law from the household house.

By the center of 1958, Goleniewski determined he may now not cope along with his spouse. He requested the UB for permission to use for a divorce — a bureaucratic sanction necessitated by his senior position in the intelligence service — citing Anna’s sickness and unreasonable habits as justification.

However that was solely half of the fact: Michał Goleniewski had one other, extra urgent, purpose to rid himself of his unstable partner — he had launched into a brand new and passionate affair. Irmgard Kampf was 28 years previous when she first encountered Goleniewski. She was a secretary in the thirteenth District Secondary College in Mitte, East Berlin, incomes a modest 300 ostmarks a month — a reality which defined why she nonetheless lived along with her aged dad and mom of their small house at 54 Wollinerstrasse.

Based on his personal account, Goleniewski ran into her “unintentionally” on one among his
missions to East Germany in 1958. Though Poland and the German Democratic Republic had been notionally allies inside the wider Soviet bloc of countries, their intelligence providers maintained a cautious rivalry.

When Goleniewski and Kampf first met, throughout the spartan tables of the Melodie restaurant on Friedrichstrasse, he was initially suspicious, fearing that she is likely to be an agent of the GDR’s ubiquitous secret police and that the apparently likelihood encounter is likely to be “a provocation” by
the Stasi.

He launched himself as Jan Roman, a Polish journalist “of Jewish origin,” claimed to have been a resistance fighter throughout the struggle, and stated that his whole household, aside from his mom, had been murdered by the Nazis. If the story was basically unfaithful, based on his personal, inside UB account of the relationship, it evidently discovered favor with the considerably impressionable Irmgard:

She spoke about the tragedy of the Jewish individuals throughout the Nazi period and expressed herself in a decidedly anti-fascist manner … She instructed me that she favored Jews very a lot; when her mom labored as a seamstress in a tailor’s workshop earlier than the struggle … she [Irmgard] usually stayed with a Jewish resident close to her, who gave her sweets and handled her like her personal little one. I didn’t cover the indisputable fact that I used to be a communist or the indisputable fact that I hate the FRG [West Germany] and fascists of all sorts. If IK had any worries, it was solely as a result of the indisputable fact that she is German and that because of this she may lose me . . .

Quickly the friendship blossomed right into a clandestine love affair. Goleniewski organized to see Irmgard each time he travelled to East Berlin and she or he launched him to her dad and mom, Franz, 75, and Luize, 69.

Over time she invited her widowed sister, Margette Mische, and her brother Franz to cross the border from their properties in West Germany and meet her lover over meals at the house on Wollinerstrasse.

Irmgard Kampf was falling in love with the older, good-looking, powerfully constructed Polish “journalist.” However the lies he had instructed her initially had been turning into unsustainable — not least as a result of the paperwork he carried on missions to the GDR recognized him as Roman Tarnowski, not Jan Roman. Goleniewski additional embroidered his preliminary cowl legend, telling the Kampf household that after the struggle he had served in the Polish Military for 4 years earlier than turning into a journalist, first in China after which in a information company working with Poland’s international service.

He stated that his work required frequent journey to conferences throughout the Soviet bloc of nations and concerned writing “propaganda about fascists in the German Federal Republic.” When he got here to the GDR, he stated he was supplied with an workplace in the Polish Embassy in East Berlin — a wholly bogus element which may have brought about bother had Irmgard ever tried to contact him there.

Fortunately, he recorded, “for the whole interval of our acquaintance she by no means as soon as tried to name me at the Embassy or to ask for my cellphone quantity there.” Goleniewski attributed this luck to Irmgard’s “unbelievable discretion” — although naivety and the hard-learned East German
survival strategy of by no means asking dangerous questions most likely performed a big half.

Evidently unaware that their affair had been found by the Stasi, the couple exchanged a remarkably frank succession of letters and telegrams. These, as the UB recordsdata sniffily famous, “devoted numerous house to erotic issues,” however in addition they revealed Kampf ’s insecurity, and Goleniewski’s touching makes an attempt to consolation her.

“I’ve a relentless concern and worry that one thing may occur to you,” Kampf wrote in an early letter to her lover. “That will be fairly dangerous for me. However I imagine that all the things will probably be good and my religion desires to help you in your laborious work.” Some months later, she tried to precise the frustration and loneliness she felt in the intervals when that work prevented Goleniewski coming to see her in Berlin. “It’s laborious to be affordable with out figuring out you’ll be again once more with me … I get weak now … [but] you understand that at the proper second I can by no means say “no” to you … ”

For his half Goleniewski tried to reassure her and, as the relationship deepened, he requested Kampf to marry him:

I firmly imagine that all the things will probably be advantageous. Strive, please, as soon as once more [to] help my proposal. I want to be with you, provide you with new braveness and organize all the things that’s solely a hindrance. Travelling for my work could be very sophisticated and time-consuming, however give me a fast reply and I’ll do no matter you suppose will probably be good.

Nevertheless, he did not disclose that he was already married, and had three youngsters — a lie he justified to himself on the grounds that he “didn’t need to trigger her [Irmgard] any fear.”

Blissfully unaware, Kampf accepted his proposal and commenced studying Polish in anticipation of a brand new life in Warsaw.

By October 1960, the Stasi had seen and heard sufficient. Erich Mielke, head of the East German Ministry for State Safety, despatched an in depth report back to his reverse quantity in the Polish authorities, setting out the particulars of Goleniewski’s “unauthorized contacts” with Irmgard Kampf, a GDR citizen. Rattled, the UB ordered Goleniewski to write down an exhaustive account of — and rationalization for — his harmful secret life, and warned him that he must finish his affair in Berlin.

On November 11, Goleniewski delivered his response to his quick boss, Colonel Sienkiewicz. Over 9 carefully typed pages he tried to justify himself, complaining about the “harassment” he had obtained from his spouse and asking as soon as once more for permission to divorce Anna and thereafter to marry Irmgard. Above all he burdened that he genuinely felt affection for Kampf, that she had fallen in love with him, and that they’d been sexually intimate for fairly a while. If the UB insisted on rejecting his pleas, and compelled him to interrupt off the relationship, he requested approval to take action in particular person:

The destructive angle of the Ministry administration to my private plans [has created] an unhealthy local weather a couple of utterly human matter, and … I’m in a really tough private state of affairs: how to surrender my plans and break my acquaintance with IK. I can do that solely in a humane manner by private contact … and with out inflicting a “surprising” state of affairs. I have to inform you that, from phone conversations with IK, on account of phenomena and information incomprehensible to her over the final 2-3 months, she finds herself in a state that equals full psychological imbalance. I don’t suppose anybody is desirous about condemning this lady, whose complete fault is confined to the indisputable fact that she has human emotions for me, to irreversible or critical sickness … That’s the reason I’m asking — if it have to be so — to assist me clear up this matter in a human manner. I’ve 14 days of unused trip for 1960, and I’m asking for permission to make use of it in the GDR on 7 days for the sole objective of fixing my private matter in accordance with the resolution of the Administration.

Goleniewski’s claims to be in love with Irmgard might need carried extra weight had the UB not already found that he was concurrently carrying on an affair with a lady in Poland, and that he had additionally promised to marry her. Deeply unimpressed, simply earlier than Christmas 1960 the UB summoned its amorous spy to a proper assembly, ordered him to interrupt off all contact with Irmgard, and for good measure instructed him he was to be moved out of his present senior put up.

The perfect Sienkiewicz may do to melt the blow was to grant Goleniewski’s request for a ultimate journey to East Berlin at the finish of the month — after which solely given that he mixed tying up unfastened ends along with his brokers in Germany with giving Irmgard the dangerous information in particular person. He instructed Goleniewski to go, however to verify he was again in Warsaw on January 6, 1961.

Confronted with the seemingly collapse of his profession and the imminent lack of the monetary and journey privileges that went with it, Goleniewski realized that point had nearly run out.

With no different viable route out of his troubles, he made pressing plans to defect.

Utilizing a Minox miniature digital camera, he photographed the remaining paperwork in his workplace secure, stashed a few of them in a safe drop website in Warsaw, and put the the rest in three envelopes to be carried individually by courier to await him in Berlin.

Certainly one of the envelopes was sealed — a safety measure Goleniewski defined on the grounds that it contained delicate “ciphers [which] should not fall into anybody else’s arms.”

He then drew 11,300 deutschmarks from workplace funds and despatched a telegram to Irmgard, advising her that he would arrive in East Berlin round New Yr, and instructing her to e book annual vacation from her faculty between January 3 and eight.

The remainder of the UB’s proof to the court docket rehearsed the story of his conferences along with his controller in East Berlin, his calls for for more cash, and his complaints about being below surveillance; then it laid out the circumstances of his presumed defection on January 4 and the occasions which adopted.

UB headquarters found his absence on January 6. When he did not make the deliberate rendezvous with one among his East German brokers, and when he couldn’t be discovered at the Berlin house he had rented, alarm bells started ringing inside the corridors of Polish intelligence.
Colonel Henryk Sokolac, Deputy Chief of Division 1, was dispatched to trace down the lacking agent. He found that the watchers’ final sighting of Goleniewski had been hurrying from Wollinerstrasse with Irmgard Kampf in the direction of the border with West Berlin and got here to an unavoidable conclusion: Goleniewski had defected, and should have taken with him the UB “ciphers” — the cowl identities and matching actual names of brokers working in the West.

Again in Warsaw, Sienkiewicz ordered an pressing investigation to find out precisely what top-secret materials Goleniewski would have already got betrayed. UB technical workers broke into the locked secure in Goleniewski’s workplace; They found that he had clandestinely amassed an enormous vary of paperwork detailing a few of the intelligence service’s most delicate data.

This included the “secret cooperation of the intelligence service of the Ministry of the Inside” with Polish authorities ministries — each navy and civilian. The recordsdata additionally recognized the UB’s “community of secret collaborators … working in Western nations.” Worse, Goleniewski’s broad obligations had given him entry to knowledge on Poland’s pursuit of nuclear vitality, in addition to “secret details about the Polish Military.” As Sienkiewicz recorded, in a somber preliminary report back to the state prosecutor, the lack of these secrets and techniques was the most devastating betrayal ever to hit Polish intelligence:

Disclosure of the above data to the different facet paralyses our exercise and can lead to the arrest of particular person secret collaborators — which, based on our understanding, has already taken place … Switch to the enemy will severely hinder the battle of safety organs in opposition to espionage and different hostile actions organized or impressed by international facilities.

On January 13 the UB flashed pressing cables to its heads of station in London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, Washington, Ottawa, New York, Stockholm, Copenhagen, The Hague, Tel Aviv, Mexico, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, advising them that Goleniewski was lacking — presumed defected — and instructing them to warn their brokers “about the must take precautions in private and office habits, in the metropolis and at house . . . Guarantee staff don’t panic. They need to not touch upon this matter as a result of it’s essential to keep away from leaks.”

The UB knew, nonetheless, that this amounted to little greater than shutting the steady door after its thoroughbred had bolted.

The issue for Polish intelligence chiefs and their final masters in Moscow was that neither knew the place Goleniewski had gone. They knew that the CIA had nearly actually spirited him away; that, in flip, steered he was now tucked up in a secure home someplace in America. However till they might hint his precise location, neither had any option to implement the court docket’s capital sentence.

The UB selected a twin strategy. It opened a case file — code identify TELETECHNIK — and assigned officers to 2 separate investigative strands.

The primary and most pressing was to find the place Goleniewski was dwelling. Brokers all through America had been tasked with tapping each doable contact inside the U.S. authorities for leads; concurrently, officers in Warsaw took the first steps in what would flip into an extended and grubby undercover operation to focus on the defector’s Achilles heel. All through his troubles along with his spouse Anna, Goleniewski had relied on and supported his widowed mom; the UB reasoned that whereas he was unlikely ever to contact his estranged spouse or youngsters once more, he would, at some stage, phone or write to Janina. Discreet enquiries revealed that she was 62, lived alone in a small house in the metropolis middle, and that she was helpfully weak: She was liable to heavy ingesting and, in the UB’s opinion, had a surprisingly busy intercourse life. Polish intelligence started looking for appropriate candidates to take advantage of each perceived weaknesses, and thru them to trick her into revealing her son’s location; as soon as she did, it reasoned, the court docket’s loss of life sentence might be fulfilled.

The second, parallel technique was aimed toward one thing much less instantly deadly. The UB started planning a cautious and refined program to discredit the defector in the minds of those that had given him refuge.

The weapon it adopted for this was way more highly effective than the poison in a KGB syringe: it was the fact. By abandoning his spouse and youngsters in Warsaw — and particularly by telling Irmgard he was legally free to marry her, thus implicating the CIA in a bigamous marriage — Goleniewski can be dwelling below a self-suspended Damoclean sword. As quickly as he surfaced in the United States, the UB would guarantee it fell — and really publicly; he can be proven up as a shameless liar and the CIA as credulous dupes.

Neither U.S. intelligence nor its new star informant was conscious of the destiny that Warsaw deliberate for all of them. That spring of 1961, as Goleniewski and Irmgard celebrated their bigamous wedding ceremony and settled right into a CIA-funded house in Arlington, Operation TELETECHNIK slowly floor on. It would, finally, final nearly a decade and would finally play a big half in destroying Goleniewski’s credibility.

In the meantime counter-espionage providers all through Europe and the Center East started arresting the main Soviet bloc spies he had uncovered.