United States, World

Cold War Spies

What if I said you were being spied on right now? And what if I also said that all around you and that there is no way to hide or get away from it? The physical concept of and use of spies started to become a big deal in the early-mid 1940’s, during the second World War (WWII), but more often and specifically in 1945, during the Cold War, and are still being used today in many different sorts of ways and tactics. Throughout the Cold War, spies were used by both sides of the Cold War itself (America or Russia) to gather information or trade secrets from the opposition. However, not all spy missions were successful. Some ended violently, with horrifying results of interrogation and similar methods of gaining and gathering information once again, in a cold cycle of information flow between the two sides. On top of this, both the United States and the Soviets Union would do anything to keep their secrets safe.

To start off, spies were put into use during 1945 in the cold war Espionage was used by both sides throughout all of the war. Many of the spies were chosen depending on certain aspects. They of course needed to blend in and of course many of them were men. But being a spy was not all that it made up to be, and it was most definitely not glorious. If you were to be caught, there were multiple punishments, the main ones being death or torture. The most famous spies during the time of the Cold War were the Cambridge Five Graduates who had the highest position in British establishment. Also, there were many spy agencies deployed during the Cold War such as the KGB. The KGB was a massive network of spies created by the Soviet Union in 1952. In the Cold War the KGB were very succesful in uncovering a plethora of US Navy Intelligence and more. In 1961, three men and two women were jailed for a combined 62 years from the KGB, for they were caught giving away British nuclear information about nuclear submarines that would potentially be used in combat if a full-scale war were to break out.

Second, spies from the Soviet Union were much more organized and more focused on getting to the inside and actually gathering the information on the inside. This forced the United States to make technology, or even code languages, to help prevent spies listening in on government officials phone conversations. Although not being a part of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, the Navajo code was used during WWII between United States bases and comrades so that the Axis could not gather the information that was flying between transmitters, in which proved to be a very helpful and tactical tool for the United States on their way to eventually win the second World War along with the rest of the Allies. And, the Americans during the Cold War had more nuclear weapons than the Soviets did, and the main goal of Soviet spies was to gather information about where the missiles were located and how the missiles were being produced at such a fast rate. Soviets would use devices to tap the phones of government officials. Hotels near government buildings were often checked for spies listening to phone conversations, which also proved to be semi-efficient during this time period of the Cold War.

Ethel & Julius Rosenberg Who Were Caught and Executed for Spying

Third, during the Cold War, there were famous, or should I say infamous, spies of the time. The Cold War was often considered and still is considered the golden age of espionage, in which the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union used these spies to uncover information that would otherwise not be gathered or attained through simple conversation. Two of these infamous spies were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who in fact were traitors of the United States. The two lived in New York and were devoted communists, and were rumored to have sent military secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as well as heading a cult-like union of their own in the United States that acted as a small scale web of spies, and were eventually caught and sent to the electric chair by former President Eisenhower, and were the first Americans to be sent to their deaths on a basis of espionage. Another traitorous spy of the time period was Klaus Fuchs, who worked on the Manhattan Project, and eventually confessed to authorities that he had been handing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union and that they now had their own atomic, or nuclear, bomb in their own hands. His allegiance to the Soviet Union was also traced back to the Rosenberg spy ring, and he was severely punished for his actions. Yet another infamous spy of the Cold War was Aldrich Ames, a Wisconsin-born, son of a CIA analyst turned wrong after joining the agency himself. He began trading secrets for money and funds for military and intel secrets. Over the course of nine full years, Aldrich Ames made approximately $2.7 million dollars from these daring “missions,” if you will, and Aldrich Ames had a plan to how he went about doing his business with trading secrets for massive sums of money to the KGB (Soviet Spies). He would pre-arrange drop sites for dropping off classified information for these specific KGB agents to pick up the information, and in total, as previously stated, he amassed over $2.7 million dollars in the process before getting caught after avoiding arrest until 1994. A final exampl

Spy Aldrich Ames

e of a spy from the Cold War actually worked for the United States instead of the KGB or the Soviet Union, in which he turned Russian secrets in to the U.S. officials and employees of the C.I.A.. His name was Adolf Tolkachev, and he forever changed the dynamic of

spying in History, for he used C.I.A. supplied cameras to take photos and mail them back to the U.S. after gaining trust of the C.I.A. in 1979, and mailed these photographs to the States from 1979 to 1985 regularly. However, Aldrich Ames and Edward Lee Howard, two potentially dirty C.I.A. agents, informed Russia of his actions and dialogue with the United States, and he was executed in Russia the following year. During his time as a Cold War spy for America, he gained over one million dollars in profit for handing over Russian and Soviet secrets between the six years (1979-1985), and made out to be a very efficient and strong spy for the United States in general. It was a shame that the dirty C.I.A. agents, specifically the infamous Ames as stated before, snitched to Russia that he was conversing with the United States of America, due to how productive of a Cold War spy he had been in the past for America, just as the other spies were for their homeland and devoted supporters (the Soviet Union and Russian intelligence).

Today, spying has acquired a rather romantic connotation from movies, books, and more examples of media, but it was far from sunny and paradisiacal. It was in fact a dirty mess to get yourself in to. Spies like the Rosenbergs, that tried gaining intelligence from the Manhattan Project (a nuclear bomb building effort started by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and continued under Truman and Eisenhower in the United States of America) proved to be skilled at their jobs as spies, but there were some that acted as double agents, which got them into an even worse mess with acting as a spy for not only one side of the Cold War, but for both sides, American and Russian. The Soviet Union employed men from Britain to spy on Britain, as well, and these five main spies and practitioners of espionage proved to become very famous and known as the Cambridge Five. British agents paid a high price for their betrayal. And in fact, when the Cold War ended, espionage slowed, but did not stop entirely after the breaking up of the Soviet Union and the formation and emergence of Russia as a whole and solid country. This reduction in espionage allowed for spying to get more “under the radar,” and continued for some time, even into this century and millenium (the 2000s). According to historylearningsite, “In 1996, Russia expelled nine British diplomats for running a spy ring. In 1997, a former MI6 agent, Richard Norwood, was jailed for a year for passing secrets over to Russia. In 2002, Raphael Bravo was jailed for 11 years for trying to sell secrets to the Russians and in 2003 Ian Parr received a ten-year sentence for trying to sell to Russia Cruise missile secrets.” The most recent one was discovered only four years before the first iPhone was released in mass quantity to consumers around the world, mainly in the United States, in which I find it very amazing that spying has continued for this long of an amount of time. Isn’t it fascinating that the concept of espionage between Russia and America has always been pretty tense? And not only between the United States of America and Russia, but the whole world?

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin

In conclusion, the concept of espionage never really came into play until the first and second World Wars (WWI and WWII), and became a regular activity for some during the Cold War between the United States and Russia, in which a race for the opposing intelligence began between the two nations. There  were many instances in which the spies on either side were forced to act in complete and utter secrecy to get the job done handling classified documents, recording conversations, tapping into telephones, and posing as an imposter in many different ways, as well as the existence of some pretty infamous spies such as the Rosenbergs, who created a web of Soviet spies in America (mainly New York), as well as Aldrich Ames, a Central Intelligence Agency employee gone wrong. These spies of the Cold War Era used a variety of tactics and dexterous maneuvers to stay underground from law enforcement and governmental authorities of both the United States and Russia, but what one might find interesting the most is that many of the spies that were caught or handed over, like Ames handing Tolkachev back to Russia, were executed within the next coming year, as the Rosenbergs were executed by the order of former President Eisenhower, but many were sentenced to lifetimes in prison, some of which might still be alive today. What might be even more surprising to many is that the President of current Russia, Vladimir Putin, was once himself a young KGB agent during the Cold War, which shows how much the world has changed since then. In summary, the Cold War brought on an entirely new wave of spies and tactics to deploy them around the world, but mainly revolving around Russian developments and the Manhattan Project in America during this Cold War Era.

Article by Sie Arciszewski






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