George Blake, British Spy Who Betrayed the West, Dies at 98

He was born George Behar in Rotterdam on Nov. 11, 1922. His mom was a Dutch Protestant; his father, Albert, was a Spanish Jew born in Turkey who fought the Ottoman Empire in World Struggle I and was wounded, cited for gallantry and given British citizenship. He settled within the Netherlands as a businessman.

When his father died in 1934, George went to Cairo to reside with relations, together with a cousin, Henri Curiel, who grew to become an Egyptian Communist chief. He was visiting within the Netherlands when World Struggle II broke out in 1939. His mom and two sisters escaped to England, however he joined the Dutch resistance, operating messages and gathering intelligence for 2 years.

Retreating to Britain, he modified his surname to Blake, joined the Royal Navy, educated in submarines and was recruited by Britain’s wartime Secret Intelligence Service as a novice agent. Fluent in Dutch, German, Arabic and Hebrew in addition to English, he translated German paperwork and interrogated German prisoners.

After the warfare he studied Russian at Cambridge — by then, Philby, Burgess and Maclean had graduated into spy tradecraft — and his instructor, a local of pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, impressed in him a love of Russian language and tradition, a step in his conversion. He was then despatched to Germany to construct a community of British spies in Berlin and Hamburg. Utilizing the duvet of a naval attaché, he recruited scores of brokers.

Simply earlier than the Korean Struggle started in 1950, Mr. Blake was despatched to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, underneath diplomatic cowl to prepare one other spy community. However he was captured by invading North Korean forces. Held for 3 years in North Korea, he was subjected to Communist indoctrination.

He later denied that this had influenced his conversion, insisting that the American bombing of North Korea had been the prime issue. “The relentless bombing of small Korean villages by huge American flying fortresses” killing “ladies and youngsters and outdated individuals” horrified him, he mentioned. “It made me really feel ashamed” he added. “I felt I used to be dedicated to the unsuitable facet.”

Mr. Blake mentioned he met with a Ok.G.B. officer in North Korea, agreed to turn into a Soviet agent and instantly started disclosing secrets and techniques. He wished no pay, and to keep away from suspicion he insisted on being given no privileges and launched with different captive diplomats. Because the Korean Struggle wound down in 1953, he was repatriated to Britain and obtained as a nationwide hero.

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