Summer of 69: George Trofimoff Pt. 1, Soviet Spy

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

<music> George Trough them off checked his watch four P._M.. The end of another uneventful day at work uh or at least that's what he tried to tell himself outside Georgia's office at the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center his employees as were gathering there things ready to go home for the day. Normally they might all go out for beer together. Maybe listen to the latest Rolling Stones Record Rd but today he told them to go ahead without him. George went back into his office and locked the door. He listened intently as the remaining workers went home for the day. Finally he was alone. He grabbed the binder of classified classified documents resting on the desk. Protocol dictated that George returned to the safe in the next room. He put it in his briefcase. Instead this is espionage the par cast original exploring the missions behind the world's most incredible spies and what brought their covert vert operations into the public eye throughout this show. We'll explore real world spy tactics required to impersonate exploit and infiltrate infiltrate the most confidential places in the world. I'm Carter Roy. This is our first of two episodes on George Trofimoff an American intelligence agents officer who sent hundreds of classified documents to the Soviet Union while he was the head of the Nuremberg Joint Interrogation Center from Nineteen nineteen sixty nine to nineteen eighty seven this week chart Georgia's rise through the U._S. intelligence community and delve into how he went from from being a loyal American Patriot to one of the most prolific agents for the K._G._B.. Next week we'll examine Georgia's stunning downfall and look at how he became the most senior U._S.. Military officer to ever be charged with a crime of espionage. This episode is part of par casts summer of Sixty Nine Event July twenty second through August ninth all your favorite park s shows are teaming up to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark. Some are in American history. The summer of nineteen sixty nine from the Manson murders to the moon landing ending diving deep into this summer America hit a boiling point with twenty three special episodes across sixteen different park asked originals will be digging into the fallout of M._l._k.'s assassination wide reaching l._S._d.. Colt and rumors of a Kennedy family cover up you can find these specials castles and more all on our new par cast presents feed on spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts at par cast grateful for you our our listeners you allow us to do what we love so let us know Howard doing reach out on facebook and Instagram at podcast and twitter at podcast network several of you have asked how to help us. If you enjoy today's episode the best way to help us is to leave a five star review. Wherever you're listening it really does help help from the day he was born? All George Trofimov new was hardship his father other Vladimir was a former member of the Russian nobility who lost everything when the communists came into power after the Bolshevik Revolution Vladimir Vladimir fled to Berlin in the early nineteen twenty s stripped of his former wealth he scrape pennies together by playing guitar and music halls but but it wasn't all bad for Vladimir he met and married a pianist named Ekaterina Kartala their son George was born shortly after on March Ninth Nineteen twenty seven but George was barely a year old when he had his first taste of tragedy the Katharina died of complications from throat surgery in June nineteen twenty eight Vladimir was barely making ends meet and realized he wouldn't be able to adequately take care of Little George with a heavy heart he gave his son over to the care of a fellow family of former Russian nobles who had fled after the Communist revolution. They promised to raise George as if he was their own although George was well loved life if was extremely difficult he lived in a two room shack with a tiny closet serving as a bedroom for George and his foster brother Eager Susan meal meal who was nine years his elder George could scarcely believe the stories is foster parents told him about the wealth and status they and his father's family's used to have back in Russia every night he in ebor would imagine the fabulous lives they would've lead if the Communists I hadn't taken over the two boys shared an incredibly close bond. George was a frail sickly child and eager protected him from the bullies that pastored him at school. George idolized him for it. They did everything together. They walked to school played and were altar boys at the Russian Orthodox Church. They attended every week. The beautiful ornate church was a stark contrast to Georgia's squalid living conditions. The gold plated icons inlaid with valuable gemstones constantly reminded George of the life that the Communist Party had stolen from him in his family. The church had a powerful impact on Eagle or as well in nineteen thirty six when George was nine years old ebor left home Tom and became an apprentice. Deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church. George was devastated to see him go but he was happy ego or was pursuing his dream dream. Meanwhile Georgia's identification with his Russian heritage continue to grow stronger it mid nineteen forty forty one shortly after World War Two erupted fourteen year old George joined the National Organization of Russian youth during the organization's annual Summer More Camps Georgia's schooled on the glory of the former Russian Empire as he learned more and more about the country's history he began to develop a deep and unrelenting unrelenting hatred of communism and soon George got his opportunity to fight the communists who had driven his family away from home in October nineteen forty four when George was seventeen he received a notice that he had been drafted into the German army. He didn't want to fight for the Nazis. Many of Georgia's Jewish Russian classmates had suffered from the atrocities of the Holocaust he remembered. I remembered how several of them had disappeared from school. Never to be heard from again. He decided that he would evade the draft and make a run for allied occupied territory before he left. George briefly reunited with his foster brother eager who had now been ordained gene does a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church. They wouldn't see each other again for another eighteen years. After his meeting with eager. George took a train to Pilsen in Czechoslovakia now known as the Czech Republic in December nineteen forty four from there he said off toward the allied occupied city of Paso over one hundred miles away but there were no more trains to take and as a draft dodger major. He didn't know if he could trust anyone to take him by car. If George wanted to get to pass out he'd have to get there on foot as has george snuck through the countryside he had to evade both the retreating German forces as well as the rapidly advancing Soviet army. If the Germans cottam he risked being executed as a deserter. If the Soviets Cottam he risked being executed as an enemy combatant not even his Russian in heritage would save him if anything being the son of a former noble would probably make his fate even worse but to George George the risk was worth it. He was tired of the poppers life he had lead in Germany. He was willing to put his life on the line for the chance to to really make something of himself in the West the land of opportunity if he could make it into allied territory he could rebuild the fortune that the Communists had taken from his family over the next few months George had several close shaves and narrow narrow escapes as he made his arduous journey toward Passo finally on the morning of May Ninth Nineteen forty-five George George received incredible news. The Germans had unconditionally surrendered to the allied forces. Although the war was over he didn't want to go back to Germany even though the Nazis had lost. He wasn't sure how he would be treated as an army deserter so he continued West with the help of a U._S.. Army unit George arrived in Paris in July nineteen forty five where he obtained an immigration nation visa to the United States. George arrived in New York in December nineteen forty seven but the specter of military service continued to follow him in June nineteen forty eight the American government enacted the Selective Service Act which required all men between the ages of of Nineteen to twenty six to register for the army although he wasn't a citizen as a permanent resident George was required to sign up but unlike in Germany this time George was happy to join he was eager for the chance to serve the country that had provided him with the safe haven and little in the way of formal education he saw it as a potential career opportunity The war in late nineteen forty nine George received his first assignment six months in Frankfurt Germany interrogating Soviet Army deserters seeking asylum from Joseph Stalin's oppressive regime although the term interrogation brings up dark imagery Georgia's Georgia's job wasn't a torture information out of people the U._S. Army Field Manual on intelligence interrogation defines interrogation as ask quote the process of questioning a source to obtain the maximum amount of usable information for George torturing the people he was questioning would be counterproductive not to mention illegal his sources weren't enemy combatants. They were defectors trying to escape a bad situation Asian as someone who'd been in that situation George was able to connect with them on a personal level using his own resentment of the Soviet Union Union it worked in Frankfurt. George got an ex Soviet Army captain to give him up to date intelligence on the U._S._S._R.'s this ours artillery tactics and extensive technical information it was the early days of the Cold War and an armed conflict between between the United States and the Soviet Union was very much a possibility in the event that war did break out the intelligence George had secured and would be invaluable upon returning to the U._S.. In May nineteen fifty he was quickly promoted to sergeant and and continued to climb the military ranks. George was at the forefront of the quickly changing field of military intelligence and love the opportunities. Is that the military had given him in September nineteen fifty one he became an American citizen further cementing his dedication to his career career on March Ninth Nineteen fifty three his twenty sixth birthday. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant military intelligence in the United States eight Army Reserve in late nineteen fifty four while George was stationed at Fort Bragg North Carolina as a Russian language language instructor he met a young woman named Francis Their relationship quickly became serious and they married in June nineteen fifty five. Although George enjoyed married life he hated his teaching assignment he felt like it was stunting his chances at advancing his career and moving moving up the pay scale so in March nineteen fifty six George secured an assignment in Laos the former French colony in Southeast Asia Asia. The Laotian Royal Family was fighting a bitter civil war against insurgent communist forces Georgia's job was to serve as the translator for a Task Force evaluating the quality and utilization of American military assistance to the Laotian royal family he was greeted with pomp and circumstance everywhere he went and finally got a taste of the opulence he so badly desired with every a decadent meal he was treated to and every gift he was given George grew more accustomed to living what he called the good life his his inability to let it go would be his ultimate downfall coming up George's. I love of the finer things in life gets him in hot water now back to the story George Trofimov's blossoming blossoming career in U._S.. Military Intelligence was allowing him to finally experience the life of luxury he had dreamed of as a youth in nineteen. I'm fifty six. His assignment. In Laos was like a dream come true everywhere he went George was treated to incredible meals and ungiven expensive gifts. Unfortunately Georgia's wife Francis wasn't able to adapt to this unfamiliar society in late Nineteen Eighteen fifty six. She returned to the U._S. and filed for divorce. George didn't contest it. Georgia's Laotian assignment ended did in one thousand nine hundred fifty eight however his time in Laos had made him knowledgeable about the country's political military and economic situation in January nineteen fifty nine. He was able to put that knowledge to us when he accepted a position as an intelligence analyst at the U._S.. Army Pacific headquarters in Hawaii while in Hawaii George spent everything he had in pursuit of maintaining the lifestyle dial he had become accustomed to in Laos lifestyle he deserved as a descendant of Russian nobility on top of his love of fine food food. He developed a taste for luxury automobiles to take advantage of Hawaii's beautiful weather. He bought a brand New Plymouth convertible and drove it all around the island. He even was able to find love again. Albeit briefly while playing tennis George met Edwin Lee who became his second wife in the spring of nineteen sixty but before the year was up Georgia's transferred to South Korea and Edwina wasn't enable to come with him. The separation proved difficult for the young couple and Edwina asks for a divorce Georgia's ego prevented him from changing changing anything about his life to accommodate at Weena if he had to get a divorce to maintain his lifestyle so be it after his brief stint in Korea George transferred once again to Frankfurt Germany in March nineteen sixty one after his his thirty fourth birthday this time he would be overseeing a clandestine mail screening operation in which mail to and from the Soviet the union was examined for any useful intelligence information mostly in relation to living conditions shortly the after arriving in Germany he met a woman named Alexa Riester. Although Georgia's first two marriages had failed he hadn't given up on finding the right a person he and Alexa were married that October. It seemed like the third time was the charm for George they quickly had three children Nicole. All Natalie and Alexander George was obsessed with giving his family a life of luxury and spent every penny he earned on them has has his family grew. George bought a top of the line ambassador station wagon among other fine things but Georgia's newfound domestic bliss it was tempered by the construction of the Berlin Wall in nineteen sixty one which escalated the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union a union although he was now an American citizen the Cold War hadn't diminished Georgia's deep love for his ancestral home of Russia a love that was strengthened when he reconnected with his beloved foster brother Eagles Ouza meal in nineteen sixty two you had just been appointed as the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Munich only four hour southeast of Georgia's Base in Frankfurt allowing him to visit ebor somewhat frequently but if he knew what his brother had become he might have been more cautious washes ego are was much more than a Russian Orthodox priest. He was also a member of the K._G._B.. Although no it's unclear when eager became part of the organization the Russian Orthodox Church was closely connected to the Soviet government. It was is common for church officials to pull double duty as K._G._B.. Agents had george known about ego or secret he might have cut ties with with them. Especially after George was put in charge of a unit interrogating Russian and East German refugees in nineteen sixty three with cold war tensions at an all time high any intelligence either side could gain was invaluable in Georgia's ability to connect with Soviet veit defectors made an incredibly skilled interrogator. He was so good that in November nineteen sixty eight George was offered a permanent position to oversee the U._S.. Army element at the Joint Interrogation Center in Nuremberg Germany also known as the J. I see Z.. In conjunction with German French and British officers George would be supervising a vast intelligence operation collecting information nation on the inner workings of the Soviet Union with his high level security clearance. George had access to the secret documents that the J. I generated on everything related to the U._S._S._R.. Including living conditions political operations and and military strategies consumed by his work at the J I see George now had little time to spend with his family. He tried to make up for it by spending ever increasing amounts of money on them but he refused to give them what they really wanted his Knowing George worked in military intelligence your made sure they rekindled the powerful bond they had as children the next step push for eager to determine if George would be amenable to sharing classified information he accomplished this through informal talks when he'd ask for George's opinion on certain international matters then innocuously ask what people at his job thought about it. Although Gore wasn't asking for classified information he was testing Georgia's barriers when George showed no resistance to eagles questions James. The priests turned K._G._B.. Agent moved on to the next step and snare meant Georgia's financial problems. Adams were the perfect opportunity to get him to spy for the K._G._B.. At first eager reassured George that he wouldn't have to repay the money but then in the summer of nineteen sixty nine. You Gore came to George with the proposition if he photographed classified classified documents from the J I see George could receive a guaranteed stipend from the K._G._B.. That would permanently fix his financial problems. George couldn't believe what ego or was telling him they hit grown up hating the communists and now eager wanted him to help help their cause the Soviets had forced their families from their homes made them into little more than beggars on the streets of Berlin. Furthermore are Georgia's proud of his position in the American military the United States had made George them man he was he hated the idea of doing anything thing to harm his adopted country but on the other hand nothing may George Happier than living the good life and at that moment his life was far from good he was reduced to living in a tiny bachelor apartment barely early keeping his head above water his every paycheck went to supporting his family. He tried to convince himself that he wouldn't be doing it to help the Communists it would be in service of mother Russia and he wouldn't provide the K._G._B.. With any information on on American military capabilities or intelligence strategies he'd only photograph documents detailing what the U._S. had learned about the U._S._S._R.. Dr George Soon came to a decision he would help. His brother. Eager was delighted. Although discovering American secrets was the ultimate goal knowing what the U._S. knew about the Soviet Union was still incredibly helpful. If any important strategies strategies had been revealed the U._S. could use the intelligence George provided to simply change its approach to whatever the U._S. had learned to get George started ebor provided him with a brand new double frame camera allowing him to easily photograph two pages at once as well as a tripod into gooseneck lamps for specialized lighting in order to photograph the documents arguments George would have to smuggle them out of the J. I C taking pictures in his office was out of the question. The German military -tary controlled the building security and even with Georgia's position he wouldn't be granted entry outside normal working hours on top of that if he was discovered with a camera at work he'd be arrested and heartbeat. George hope that getting the documents out of the G I see it would be easy. He already brought a briefcase to work every day and the German officers who controlled entry and exit never checked it although there were security measures to prevent people from breaking into the safe that held all the classified documents when the office was empty there were no real protocols to prevent anyone from taking them during regular hours but still when the moment of truth came George was nervous. He tried to tell him south that it was just like any other day but in his heart he knew it wasn't this time he had more more than just his leftovers from lunch in his briefcase. He had a binder full of highly classified documents as well. If George was acting strange the German officer who led him out of the building didn't notice he was buzzed out with hardly a second glance and yet as George went home. He couldn't help a check over his shoulder every once in a while to make sure he wasn't being followed when a police car sped past him sirens blaring nearly jumped out of his shoes finally after what seemed like an eternity George I made it home he immediately rushed down to the basement. He had a lot of pictures to take coming up. George becomes entwined in the K._G._B.'s web and now back to the story in order to stave off office financial troubles. George Trofimov agreed to photograph confidential American intelligence documents and send them to the K._G._B.. He he had successfully smuggled a binder full of top secret papers out of the Joint Interrogation Center in Frankfurt Germany but his work wasn't done yet. He had to make sure the pictures were taken properly. George needed to be extremely careful throughout the process. If there was any sign signed the documents had been tampered with his whole scheme could come crashing down. He was so meticulous that when he had to remove staples in document demint he replaced them in the exact same holes when he was done over the course of several grueling hours George photographed hundreds of pages ages of classified documents but he wasn't done yet he still had to get the papers back to the safe undetected. It turned out the George had no reason to worry. There was no system to track when documents were taken out or return to the safe. All the personnel mel who had access to the safe were soldiers. They operated on the core belief that they could trust their colleagues to responsibly handle their confidential documents. They had no idea how deeply George was betraying that trust with the documents safely back in the safe there there was one final step remaining delivering the film containing the photos Georgia taken while George was fairly really certain as work had gone unnoticed. He couldn't be sure the film wouldn't come under scrutiny once he passed it on to Ebore in order to make it look look as inconspicuous as possible. He returned the film to its original packaging and glued shot so it looked like it had never been opened opened. The hand off to Ebore went off without a hitch ego brought the film with him on his next visit to Moscow and by the time the summer of nineteen eighteen sixty nine ended George received his first monthly payment the equivalent of seven thousand U._S. dollars in German marks which equates equates to about forty eight thousand dollars today as long as George kept supplying ebor with pictures the money would keep coming. AH FOR GEORGE THE SAFE and the J I c became an endless treasure trove along with the intelligence gathered from the refugees questioned I into the facility it also contained important strategic information including intelligence objectives which listed current intelligence Information Ryan required by the United States intelligence priorities which identified and ranked the current intelligence needs of the U._S.. Military Soviet Viet- in Warsaw Pact Order of battle documents which detailed the U._S. has knowledge of enemy military organizations and capabilities and up to date knowledge of the U._S._S._R.'s current chemical and nuclear weapons capabilities in the course of his espionage object. George delivered pictures of over seventy binders with each containing four hundred six hundred pages of classified information towards quickly became indispensable to the K._G._B.. Many K._G._B.. Agents <music> are assigned several codenames over their tenure in order to protect their identity throughout his time relaying information George was dubbed Onta- Marquees and Konzale he was identified as the K._G._B.'s most valuable agent in a list of assets prepared in nineteen seventy three the intelligence George was providing was incredibly beneficial by knowing what the U._S. U._S. knew about them. The U._S._S._R. was able to stay one step ahead of its Cold War rival in its own intelligence activities as the money kept coming in George found new luxuries to augment his bachelor lifestyle in addition to his addiction to what he called the good good life. Georgia's profligate spending was also a strategy for avoiding detection the K._G._B.. paid Abduction and murder to combat what are considered to be actual or potential threats to the Soviet regime as both an American intelligence intelligence officer and K._G._B.. Agent himself George was all too familiar with these ruthless tactics if the meeting went badly really George knew he might not have long to live shortly after George arrived at the designated meeting spot on the promenade alongside the trounce river a short square jawed man approached in an introduced himself as Oleg although George George didn't realize it he was meeting with General Oleg Kalugin. The chief of the K._G._B.'s Directorate Kay he was is one of the K._G._B.'s senior most officials reporting directly to the chief of Intelligence Olegs main concern was that Georgia's ability to obtain information wasn't compromised in any way George reassured him that he had the complete trust of everyone he worked with. He was certain that he wasn't under any suspicion. Next Oleg brought up the issue of Georgia's just decline in performance George braced himself for a very unpleasant conversation but oleg was much easier on him than George urge had anticipated he simply urged George to increase the volume of information he was delivering and to make sure it was actionable. Intelligence Aginst the Soviet Union could use to strengthen its position. He was satisfied that George was a dedicated agent and agreed to increase his pay. As long as George delivered on olegs request. Once George was back in his car he let out a breath wrath. He hadn't realized he was holding in. He knew this meeting was probably his first and only warning it was time for him to redouble his efforts to that end. George delivered a crucial piece of intelligence. He'd been holding back on delivering the U._S.. Is Knowledge of the Soviet Union's order of battle in Eastern Europe which detailed the placement and extent of the U._S._S._R.'s various military forces this was incredibly important information according to former four-star General Glenn Otis quote our knowledge of the Soviet Union's forces was critical to the way we laid out our defense plans if they knew what we we knew it gave them an advantage because they could then change although George was happy with the increase in pay that came with a better intelligence he provided he was growing restless. He was almost fifty years old and he was getting tired of the Bachelor lifestyle style in nineteen seventy seven George met an eighteen year old woman named Marian after true to form courtship in which he showered art her with expensive gifts they married in late nineteen seventy eight. The newlyweds moved into a large house on the outskirts of Nuremberg because of Georgia's exemplary service to the K._G._B.. EBOR was able to give him the ninety thousand marks or about forty thousand U._S.. Dollars for the downpayment life was great. George poured money into the house and his marriage making sure Marian always had whatever her heart desired but three years after buying the house George was again beset by financial troubles in July nineteen eighty-one the value of the U._S.. Dollar plummeted along with the German mark suddenly George was struggling to meet his his mortgage payments and maintain the lifestyle he was dedicated to keeping even with more financial assistance from Eagle or via the K._G._B.. He was unable to stay afloat by the end of nineteen. eighty-one George was forced to sell the house and he and Marion had to rent into tiny place in the city. The downgrade in lifestyle was more than Marian could bear shortly after moving. She asked for a divorce verse. George wasn't surprised he knew that their relationship was only as strong as his ability to provide his wife with a comfortable comfortable lifestyle but even though his personal life was in turmoil George continued to deliver valuable intelligence to the K._G._B.. Some time in the early nineteen eighties George gave eager the C._I._A.'s intelligence targets from nineteen seventy seventy eight to nineteen eighty-one. This information identified what the United States believed were the biggest threats posed by the Soviet Union and it was such important information it was given directly to the Soviet Prime Minister Leonid Brezhnev Georgia's services services were so valuable that at some point he was awarded the order of the Red Banner One of the highest honors that could be bestowed to a Soviet agent however in nineteen eighty-seven eager informed George that the K._G._B.. Didn't need anything else for the time I'm being but George still needed money and there were still classified documents he could deliver he decided to keep going and accumulated over twenty five rolls of film each one containing over seventy pages of classified documents a few months months later. George delivered the film eager although his handlers were happy with the information they told George in no uncertain terms was that he had to stop in ordered him to destroy his camera by that time American Soviet relations had improved significantly efficiently. The two sides were moving closer to reconciliation in the risk of George getting caught outweighed. The benefit of the intelligence is he gave them. Although George was desperate to maintain the cash flow his espionage had provided he knew he had to take his order seriously Ali. He's smashed his camera with a hammer and threw it away far from his house with his spy career. Effectively over ver- George had lost one of the most exciting components of his life his health deteriorated and in nineteen ninety when George was sixty three his doctor ordered him to take a thirty day medical leave at a five star SPA in Austria. It was just the sort of pick me up. George urging needed one day while George was in the dining room. He noticed an attractive woman sitting by herself at a dining table her her name was Utah. She was at the SPA to recover from a liver operation should been divorced for eighteen years and had an adult daughter. The two two of them shared a mutual attraction and met frequently over the next few days playing tennis and sharing meals together when it was time for Utah to check out he showed her how he felt in the only way he knew how a lavish gift in the form of Black Pearl earrings after a year of dating King George in Utah Were Married on October Twenty Third Nineteen ninety-one through Yudas job is the manager of a travel agency. The newlyweds were able to get all expenses paid trips to high end resorts all across Europe this time it was George was being treated to the good life and he was determined determined to provide the same luxuries to his new wife. George began to plan for his retirement and in Nineteen ninety-two they visited the Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne Florida. It was a brand new community exclusively reserved for active retired or honorably discharged urge military officers George in Utah loved it and plan to move there as soon as possible in August nineteen ninety four sixty 67-year-old George applied for an early retirement program that would give him a bonus payment of twenty five thousand dollars enough to cover the down payment of their new house in Florida with the finances. Taking care of the move was planned for late December nineteen ninety four. You're on December fourteenth with the move only a few days away. George was woken up. It's six A._M.. With a loud knock at the door he threw on a robe thinking. Maybe it was Utah who had already left for work. Maybe we she had forgotten something but when he opened the door he was greeted by a horde of German and American intelligence agents they informed George he was under suspicion of committing espionage against the United States NATO in the Federal Republic Republic of Germany. He was under arrest

Coming up next