GENARAL ARTICLES

IGOR GOUZENKO

DOUGLAS HOW December 15 1946
GENARAL ARTICLES

IGOR GOUZENKO

DOUGLAS HOW December 15 1946

IGOR GOUZENKO

GENARAL ARTICLES

DOUGLAS HOW

THE lawyer spoke the name and looked across the big brown room and beckoned. The man beside the door in the middle of the southern wall, the door to the grand jury room, saw this and opened the door and spoke the name. The name was Igor Gouzenko. Immediately then a little procession of men filed out, one after the other, some peeling off from the formation and fanning out, hut three of them carrying on across the room, Gouzenko in the middle smaller than the others. Then this small one went on alone, past the press tables and past the lawyers and on into the little witness box between the judge and the jury, and looked then at John Cartwright, the crown counsel who had called him here this one more time after the many times before.

He was a pale, plain man in a neat grey suit; a man blunt in construction, thick around, of some five feet and seven inches, with a strong face with a strong jaw and with heavy eyebrows above his dark eyes and below his brown hair.

His name, he said to the first question, was Igor Gouzenko, and his birthplace, he said to the second, was a village near Moscow.

His companions, the watchdogs of this man the lawyers sometimes call The Goose, for short, were seated now about the great old Ottawa courtroom, four or five Mounties in civilian clothes scattered strategically, some standing, some sitting, seemingly mere spectators among the few spectators, but seeming so only because their indifference was a mask.

Another of Canada’s spy trials was beginning. The Russian Gouzenko, the key to them all, was out in public again.

For another day in the weeks and months that may become years, the Mounties guarded his life and his knowledge with all the stolid purpose, with all the regard they have come to attach to the protection of this foreigner who came to them one autumn day of 1945 as probably the greatest windfall in the history of their prolonged running battle with Communism in Canada.

For all the other things Igor Gouzenko has become, he is that to them. (It may be reported parenthetically here that we have heard high RCMP officials speak of the man in what could only be characterized as a lyrical purr.)

And they wouldn’t like to see anything happen to him. And they don’t intend that it shall. So they guard him closely. All the time. In the courts where the public can see him. In the unknown haunts to which they spirit him, back to his wife, Svetliana Borisovna, and their two Canadian-born children.

Ilis Mind Made Up

THIS watch has been incessant since that memorable day of Sept. 7, 1945, when, after two bitter, hectic days, Igor Sergeievitch Gouzenko finally made himself heard by official Canada.

Two days before, his fears raging, he had walked out of the Russian Embassy, on Ottawa’s Charlotte Street, never to return to his job as cipher clerk to its military attaché. His coat covered stolen telegrams, files and letters, the scraps of paper that were to prove the spectacular tale he had to tell of Russian fifth column activities in this Canada he had come to know and want as his home.

In those two days of September, 1945, he had enough danger to surfeit any man.

They were the climax to a year of growing determination, to an August in which he finally began to remove vital sheets of paper from the Russian Embassy files. 'These he took to his apartment on Somerset Street and hid behind canned preserves in his kitchen closet. Nearby he kept a box of matches.

Then came the night of Sept. 5. At eight o’clock

he walked oui. through the passages of the stalely legation overlooking the Rideau River. The last of the documents went with him.

'Throttling his excitement, he took a streetcar and went straight to the Ottawa Journal, seeing in the press the safest and best medium for his actions. (“All the Embassy staff fears the press,” he has said since.) But neither reporters nor editors would hear this wildly perturbed young foreigner out. He turned away, and with him went probably the greatest scoop in Canadian journalistic history.

He slept that night in his apartment. The next day he and his wife and son tramped the streets for hours, the documents a burning bundle beneath his arm, visited official offices, visited the newspaper again, said “this is a matter of life and death,” but still none would hear him out. With dusk they went home again, frustrated and terribly alone.

Soon Igor Gouzenko saw two men across the street, apparently watching the apartment building. Minutes later someone knocked on his door. He knew the voice when it spoke. It was a Russian voice, an Embassy voice. Man and wife froze in terrified silence. But the boy, Andrei, toddled across the room.

Gouzenko slipped through the back door and along the balcony to an apartment of an RCAF noncommissioned officer and his wife. He said to them, “I think the Russians are going to try to kill me . . . Will you look after my son?”

Overcoming their shock, the Canadian couple said they would look after the boy Andrei.

Then both the Russian and the Canadian saw another man stalking along a lane at the back of the apartment house. Gouzenko hastily revised his request. “May we all stay here?” he asked.

But now another Canadian woman had come in from another apartment, and, hearing this, she took the Gouzenkos down the hall to her apartment and kept them there. The NCO took his bicycle and went in haste to the city police station.

Two policemen came. They told the Canadian woman to keep her bathroom light on until something threatened, then to turn it off; they would watch from the street. Then they left.

Hours passed. Midnight neared.

A Light Blinked

FOUR men came quietly to Igor Gouzenko’s door, knocked. The NCO, thinking it was the police, looked out from the adjoining apartment. A Russian asked him where Gouzenko was. The Canadian said he had no idea. The Russians left.

But quietly they slipped back again, broke open the door and entered Gouzenko’s apartment.

Along the hall the bathroom light switched off. The policemen came again and found the Russians ransacking the apartment.

“What are you doing here?” the policemen asked. One Russian emerged from a closet. He was Vitali Pavlov, ostensibly the Embassy’s second secretary, but in truth the head of what the Royal Commission later reported to be “a powerful” NKVD organization in Canada. He was tough.

“We are Russians,” he said flatly. “We are looking for papers that belong to the Russian Embassy.”

Another Russian told a policeman, “The boss (Zabotin) told us to get Gouzenko.”

Words passed. The police questioned their mode of entry. The Continued on page 45

Continued on page 45

Continued from page 19

Russians said the apartment was Soviet property and that they could do as they wished»

In uniform, Lieut.-Col. Rogov, the “Jan” of the spy ring, said, “You have insulted me.”

Tough Vitali Pavlov said, “Get out.”

But the two policemen wouldn’t go. They called in an inspector, who took a hasty look and asked the Russians to wait while he went out to make certain enquiries about this ticklish situation. But while he was gone the four Russians left. (Later they paid $5 for breaking the lock.)

The next morning Igor Gouzenko and his wife and his son and all the vital documents were driven to the big stone national headquarters of the RCMP, 100 yards or so from the Parliament Buildings. Here now, at last, his tale came out.

Months later, in a Montreal courtroom one day, a defense lawyer asked why he hadn’t gone to the Mounties in the first place.

“I feared,” was the reply, “that the NKVD might have agents there, might have penetrated the RCMP.”

“Now, seriously, you don’t believe that.”

“You never know,” said Igor Gouzenko.

Schooled for Spying

Just two years before, Igor Gouzenko had come from Russia, schooled as a link in a chain of spies. Clark, the Russians called him, as a code name.

... So began the tale the small man in grey told Canada’s police. And, like ripples on a silent lake, the reverberations spread until they were black ink in headlines and raw gossip in the streets and mud upon the waters of world diplomacy. For from the story of this square, 27-year-old former Red Army lieutenant there sprang many startling repercussions, many things:

A Royal Commission labored four months and finally told Canada that not one—not only Gouzenko’s spy ring —but four others were active within her borders.

A Canada that had fancied herself as a postwar link between the East and the West found herself instead the cynosure of a truculent and vigorous Russian hostility.

Eighteen Canadians, the majority

highly educated, one a millionaire, most of them in Government jobs, almost half of them foreign-born, found themselves facing the courts, and at this writing five had been sentenced to prison, one fined, two others acquitted. In England a noted scientist got 10 years for giving uranium and atomic information to the Russians in Canada.

Months passed without appointment of a new Soviet ambassador. The Embassy staff was riddled by recalls to Moscow.

One political party, the LaborProgressive, or Communist party, was finally branded the incubator of a nefarious espionage, saw its lone member of Parliament sent to prison and appeal, its accused national organizer vanish.

Another, the Liberal Party, weathered a clamorous, sceptical public inquest of its methods in holding and questioning the detainees, rode out another political storm that still declines to die.

In one massive, unprecedented indictment, the Government-issued, 733page Royal Commission report talked of, exposed, interpreted Russian activities in language one country seldom uses on a friendly, let alone a recently allied, power. The implications of international Communism were laid bare for all to see.

The police maintained that they had the scent before Gouzenko came. But many Canadians asked themselves where the investigation would have been today without his betrayal of the Russia to which he feared to return.

For he is the steel threat that binds the Government’s case together. For this reason, then, but even more because of the mortality rate of post1917 Russians who inadvisedly embraced democracy, this ex-conspirator is guarded as no free man has ever been guarded before in Canada.

The Hidden Guest

Only his guards and an inner circle of high RCMP officials know where he is kept, and their silence is impervious. Commissioner S. T. Wood, the No. 1 Mountie, has said he didn’t know where Gouzenko’s sanctuary or sanctuaries is or are—and has chuckled, “And I don’t want to.”

Crown lawyers have not infrequently mentioned the “danger” in which Gouzenko stands, in asking judges to make his appearances as few and scattered as possible. The Soviet Embassy has asked for his deportation to Russia as a thief and “a capital criminal.”

The press, ever sensitive to a new Gouzenko angle, has heard or reported that he and his family (a) live at the RCMP’s Rockcliffe training barracks on the outskirts of Ottawa; (b) that when his court appearances are frequent he has held down as much as a whole floor of an Ottawa hotel; (c) that he has been kept at the ultrasecret Chalk River, Ont., atomic development plant near the Petawawa military base; (d) that he spent the court-free summer on an island in the Gatineau Valley, north of Ottawa.

To all these the high Mounties give an enigmatic chuckle, say: “They’re

all shots in the dark.”

They’re equally reticent about his day-to-day existence. But one said, “Don’t worry about Gouzenko; he’s living better than any of us.”

Except for his court appearances, nobody has reported seeing Gouzenko publicly in more than a year. Yet his wife, a tall dark girl with her hair habitually in braids, had a second baby in that time, and the father has said it was bom in a hospital.

People who have been close to the young Russian in those months describe him now as primarily a man thirsting for all that the Canadian democracy has to offer, reading about it, talking about it and dreaming about the day when he can go out and seek its tangibles and its intangibles for himself.

He pores eagerly over Canadian newspapers and magazines, studies their editorials and articles. As a Russian, reared in the rigidities of a one-track journalism, the freedom of the press, the clash of opinions piques him.

Sometimes he and his wife go to a movie and this stirs them, too, and sometimes they talk of them with their companions until midnight and until after midnight.

As for books, he has read several Russian classics, has read both Canadian and American novels and Wendell Willkie’s “One World.”

He Would Paint Canada

Particularly, though, he likes books on art, because both he and his wife are gifted artists, he so gifted that one lawyer who saw some of his landscapes in oils wanted to buy them.

It, is this talent that the man hopes to develop into the foundation of his future livelihood. In the past year he has finished a number of canvases of the Canadian countryside he has seen in his travels. Those who know him say the Dominion’s beauties impress him greatly.

This grasping for Canada seemingly runs through everything he says and everything he thinks. In free-ranging, and frequent conversations with his RCMP companions, he fires questions repeatedly about the Canadian way of life.

In addition to caring for her two youngsters, Mrs. Gouzenko shows a keen interest in Canadian and American magazines, spends a lot of time knitting, crocheting and sewing, with marked proficiency, and directs much of her attention to making clothes for the children.

No news photographer has succeeded in crashing the RCMP barricade to get a picture of Gouzenko. The Mounties are fully aware that everything there is to know about his appearance and his background is known to the NKVD—a typically thorough investigation preceded his departure—but they contend there is no reason why Canada should broadcast further hints to identification.

Edward Mazerall, named as a spy by Gouzenko and now serving four years, once started sketching the Russian as he testified in one of the preliminary hearings last spring. A police constable saw him, and the magistrate confiscated the drawing, with the smiling observation, “I don’t think this would help anybody recognize him, anyway.”

For a man who knew no English when he came here in June, 1943, Gouzenko’s command of the language is surprising.

He studied it under an Ottawa schoolteacher while at the Embassy, but shorthand reporters who first heard him before the Royal Commission last February say his English then was so bad an interpreter had to execute frequent rescues. They have noted “a tremendous improvement” since, but a fellow Russian, Mervyn Black of the RCMP, is constantly at his side in the courts to pull him through the odd word.

His voice today is a somewhat high, throaty, obviously foreign instrument that sometimes marches ponderously from phrase to phrase, sometimes flows Continued on page 48

Continued on page 48

Continued from page 46

Continued from page 46 glibly through whole passages, sometimes comes out with statements like ‘Vorder in which zis pepper shoeld be . . .”

On the witness stand Gouzenko demonstrates marked intelligence, a seriousness that seldom yields to humor, a phlegm that seldom veers into excitement. He is cautious without being reluctant, firm without being flippant, canny without being furtive.

Frightened Traitor

Quite noticeably, he refuses to be pushed around by defense lawyers. In numerous cases their main hope of acquittal may rest in shaking the jury’s faith in what one of them unsuccessfully called ‘‘this renegade Russian.” They draw from him his oaths of loyalty to the Soviet, his so-called "undertaking” not to expose the activities he finally did expose; they suggest to him that he feared to go home, that he is a traitor.

At this one day he called a halt to one lawyer. “I have,” he said strongly and deliberately, his dark eyes sparking, “severed my connections with the Soviet regime, not with Russia . . . Russia existed a thousand years before this regime; she will exist a thousand years after it is gone.”

Another time, when another defense lawyer coyly professed an ignorance of Communism, Gouzenko asked him whether he wished to discuss “theory or reality . . . there is no Communism in Russia today.”

Here Igor Gouzenko is on the fringe of that jungle of political isms that has split the world in two and spewed him forth as a symbol of its dark division. There is nothing he would rather do on the witness stand than tell a jury of 12 Canadians why he crossed the no man’s land fropi Communism to democracy. It is a compelling story, a story that gets in your belly and warms it and gets in your mind and stokes it. And he tells it well, his sluggish English afire with things he feels and knows.

Yet he has really only told it once in its whole being. It was during the Fred Rose trial in Montreal, and even the defense sat silent, uncomplaining, and heard this Russian assess his world and explain himself in a voice that came from deep within the wilderness of little, lonely men. He has asked crown lawyers to let him tell it again, but, for reasons of their own, they never have.

In essence there are two explanations of Gouzenko’s action. One is fear. A replacement had arrived to take his place shortly before he fled. An Embassy friend is supposed to have tipped him off that he was doomed. With slowly mounting conviction he had come, over a period of a year, to his decision to flee. Quite possibly some hint of his flagging loyalties slipped out.

The other is freedom. In two years in Canada, living among her people, he came to see Russia as a “land of violence and suppression of all freedom,” of “lying propaganda” about the democracies, of “secret preparations for the third world war,” of plotting to “establish a Communist dictatorship throughout the world,” of cold and unpublicized acceptance of aid from countries where its agents were “preparing to deliver a stab in the back.” The Soviet regime came to loom as an enemy of its own subjects.

In those two years he came to see Canada as “a land of complete freedom of the individual,” watched in awe the June, 1945, general elections, saw “the evidence of what a free people can do” in war. The people who have come to know him since testify that an inherent idealism was profoundly moved by all of this.

Obviously, then, it was a hybrid of both these forces that impelled him. Certainly, for all their differences, they both pointed in the same direction.

So, bravely, he fled, in hope and in fear, into the paradox of his status today.

As a man who fled the Russian police state he may well live forever within the protective shadow of Canadian police. As a man who fled fear he may live in fear for the rest of his days. As a man who covets freedom he may never know anything but its most abridged blessings. As a man who admired democratic methods, he has found himself ensnarled in ¡s wife "’ex judicial system that makes him tell the same tedious story again and again and yet again, as often as twice a day.

Yet, for all the sheer boredom that mfast be attached to it, he is said to look upon that system as another surprising bulwark for the preservation of the individual as the basis of society.

Where he will go, what he will do when the trials have run their course must be conjecture. The lawyers have asked him that, too, and he has held up his two hands and said, “I will work with these,” and pointed to his head and said, “and with this too.”

Those who know him say it has always been his ambition to stand on his own feet. He was virtually flat broke when he left the Embassy, had saved little or nothing from his salary of $200 a month, plus espionage and living bonuses of $75. Any surplus had been swallowed up in buying furniture and laying in a stock of canned food and clothing for the prospective return to the homeland.

The Canadian Government is believed to be paying him an allowance, but it has not been reflected in any splurge of new clothing. He usually appears in the light grey suit, occasionally in a dark brown suit, is invariably neat in whatever he wears.

Freedom Questionable

His propensity for the pencil and brush will quite probably hew the line of his future livelihood. In addition he studied architecture for three years before the war came and the Red Army took him. With these assets and with his natural intelligence he would probably have no trouble making a living in a Canada where he was completely free.

But his freedom is questionable. A high Canadian official, for instance, reflected one attitude when he said, “I have reason to believe that the Government will be alive to its responsibilities and see that this man is protected for the rest of his days.”

Conceivably, Gouzenko might stay with the RCMP as an adviser on Communist activities, although his highest position in the party itself was secretary of a Young Communist club while he was in school. His two years at the very hub of its illegal activities in Canada should mean, however, that his value would be high.

But probably in the final analysis the man’s own decision will set his course.

He has told the lawyers, “I know I’m in danger.” His eyes, darting swiftly to any part of the courtroom where anyone moves, bear out his statement. Knowing this, it .will be for him to decide where he wants to go, what he wants to do when he’s free to do as he pleases. _

Ouo+e

It has been said war does not settle anything. War does settle one thing: it determines who is going to have the responsibility of drawing the peace that follows.—Lord Halifax.