Association of Former Intelligence Officers

Alexandre Feklissov, Confession d'un Agent Soviétique, Paris: Éditions du Rocher, 1999, 422 pages, 135 FF. (available through: Jean-Paul Bertrand Éditeur, 6, Place Saint-Sulpice, 75279 Paris cedex 06, France. Tel: 01-40-46-54-00; FAX: 01-40-46-91-36)

The Rosenberg case gets another look but this time it is by someone who should know. Alexandr Feklisov, Rosenberg's case officer 1943-1946, has recently published a useful memoir in France. The author, 85, reveals significant details concerning his long career in Soviet intelligence, including a definitive presentation of the Rosenberg case. Feklisov makes it clear that Rosenberg was an ideological recruit whose Marxist-Leninist perspective reinforced his pro-Sovietism. The author gives an extensive account on how Rosenberg was recruited and developed, on what he passed to the Soviets, and on whom who recruited into his spy ring. The author explains how he trained Rosenberg in photography and presented him with a special Leica with which to photograph documents. According to Feklisov, the two had over fifty meetings during which Rosenberg passed documents and photographic copies of documents.

One Christmas, the author says, Rosenberg made a gift of a proximity fuse, then a prime requirement of Soviet scientific and technical intelligence, "Line XY." According to Feklisov, owing to Rosenberg's "gift," a special Soviet factory was established to develop and perfect the proximity fuse, and one well-known later success was the 1960 shoot-down of the U2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers.

There are also accounts of the successful exfiltration to the Soviet Union of Rosenberg colleagues Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, who passed 9,165 pages of documents to Soviet intelligence. Feklisov says that exfiltration was offered to Rosenberg but he chose to remain in the United States for family reasons. Many details concerning the personalities and operations of the New York "residence" are also presented. Feklisov was also Klaus Fuch's case officer, 1947-1949, and he includes much interesting commentary on this well-known case. While several other cases are included, Feklissov's comments on his behind-the-scenes contacts, via John Scali, with the White House during the Cuba Missile Crisis are particularly interesting. Feklisov, who headed the Washington, DC "residence" during the period, says that it was President Kennedy who offered the compromise leading to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Official "Camelot" historiography holds the opposite, that it was Khrushchev who backed down and offered a compromise. Feklisov's memoir, written with journalist Sergueï Kostine, reads well and provides significant historical insight. (reviewed by Dr. Clifford Kiracofe)

Reviewed in AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #24-99, June 18, 1999

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