Paul Burns was an American citizen who served as a non-state sponsored "volunteer" in the Abraham Lincoln Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, and later for Soviet intelligence in the United States. While serving in Spain, Comintern officials identified Burns as "a reliable and honest member of the party" who was "suitable for organizational work." Later became an employee of Soviet news agency TASS.
Back in the United States, Burns operated a safe house for Soviet intelligence. Burns worked with Bernard Schuster. A KGB message was sent from New York to Moscow on 16 August 1944 discussing Burns covert relationship with Soviet intelligence. Three days later General Pavel Fitin, head of the KGB directed a memo to Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, asking for information on Paul Burns, a social worker and fellow Lincoln Battalion veteran, Louis Horvitz, operated another safe house. Leonid Kvasnikov, a KGB Case Officer, used one of these safe houses of members of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) for a meeting with a source near the end of 1944, although it is not clear which.
Paul Burns is referenced in the following Venona project decrypt:
- 1166 KGB New York to Moscow, 16 August 1944.
- Report on Americans, 27 September 1937, Archive of the International Brigades, RTsKhIDNI 545-3-453.
- Fitin to Dimitrov, 19 August 1944, Archive of the Dimitrov Secretariat of the Comintern, RTsKhIDNI 495-74-485.
- John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 224.