Vasily Zarubin

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Vasily Zarubin

Vasily Mikhailovich Zarubin (1894–1972). Zarubin was born in Moscow. In the United States Zarubin used the cover name Vasily Zubilin and served as Soviet intelligence Rezident from 1941 to 1944. Zarubin's wife, Elizabeth Zubilin, served with him.

Zarubin served with the Russian Imperial Army on the Western Front during World War I from 1914. For agitation against the war Zarubin served in a penal battalion. Zarubin was wounded in March 1917. He served in the Red Army and fought in the Russian Civil War from 1918-1920.

External reconnaissance

He joined the Cheka in 1920 and served in its internal security section. In 1923 he was appointed as the chief of economic division OGPU in Vladivostok and organized the fight with the smuggling of narcotics and weapons from Europe to China. In 1925 he transferred to foreign intelligence. In 23 years of service, 13 years were on the Illegal work in different countries.

Served as a legal officer in China (1925), a legal officer in Finland (1926), Illegal Rezident in Denmark and Germany (1927–1929) posing as a Czechoslovak citizen, an Illegal Rezident in France (1929–1933), and an Illegal Rezident in Germany (1933–1937) after Hitler came to power. In 1937 Zarubin returned to the USSR for work with the KGB's central apparatus and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for his work in creating the underground antifascist groups.

From 1939 to 1940 he was one of NKVD's officers in Kozelsk camp for Polish POWs. In Kozelsk his task was to investigate the Polish POWs in the camp. After most of the POWs were massacred in the Katyn Forest he was reassigned to other duties.

In 1940 he also survived an accusation of working for the Gestapo.

In the spring of 1941 he undertook an assignment in China in 1941 and is credited with obtaining information from a high-ranking German adviser to Chiang Kai-shek about Hitler's plans to attack the USSR in mid-1941.

North American Rezident

Zarubin was appointed ecame the chief of the KGB legal Rezidentura in the United States in the fall of 1941. On 12 October 1941, just as the Germans were on the outskirts of Moscow, Zarubin was personally directed by Josef Stalin to his primary task: to discover if the United States would attempt to arrange for separate peace with Germany and not finish the war.

Zarubin actively participated in recruiting work. The Rezidency obtained political information from the United States Government, and the scientific-technical information that was highly valuable to Moscow and regularly reported to Stalin. The Rezidentura under Zarubin achieved large results and made the weighty contribution to strengthening of the economic and military power of the Soviet Union. Zarubin was recalled in 1944 to face a second accusation of working for the Germans, which he survived.

For the achieved results achieved during September 1944 Zarubin received the title of the Commissioner of State Security, and by the decision of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR on 9 July 1945 became a Major General.

After returning to the USSR, Zarubin became deputy chief of foreign intelligence and simultaneously deputy chief of illegal foreign intelligence. He worked in this capacity up to 1948 when he was discharged due to health status.

Zarubin was awarded the Order of Lenin twice, the Order of the Red Banner twice, and the Red Star, with many other medals.

"Mr. Hoover" letter

Lieutenant Colonel Vassili D. Mironov was a subordinate of KGB North American Rezident Vasili Zarubin during World War II. While working in the United States, Mironov used the covername Markov.

Mironov evidently was displeased with his superior and other KGB Officers working in the KGB Rezidentura, and denounced Zarubin and others in anonymous letters to both Josef Stalin and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. The letter caused Zarubin's recall to Moscow. The investigation against him and his wife, Elizabeth Zarubina, lasted six months and established that all his contacts were legitimate and valuable, and that Zarubin was not working with the FBI.[1]

The anonymous letter drafted on a Russian typewriter was mailed in Washington in August 1943. The original text in Russian was addressed to "Mr. Guver." It identifies Soviet "intelligence officers and operations that stretched from Canada to Mexico." This extraordinary note denounced Zarubin and 10 other KGB officers in North America, along with two of their assets. FBI Special Agents quickly concluded that the letter was genuine and largely accurate, although they gave little credence to its claim of passing secrets to Japan.

The FBI subsequently increased surveillance of persons named in the letter. It also includes accusations of war crimes against the KGB Rezident in Washington, Vassili M. Zarubin (a.k.a. Zubilin), and his deputy, Markov (in the United States under the alias of Lt. Col. Vassili D. Mironov).[2]

The letter asserted that Zarubin and Mironov were directly implicated in the bloody occupation of eastern Poland during the Nazi-Soviet alliance of 1939-41 and the murder of some 15,000 Polish soldiers—officers and NCOs, regulars and reservists—captured by the Red Army. The letter provided accurate and early confirmation of Soviet complicity in the executions in the Katyn Forest were German occupation forces in April 1943 discovered a mass grave containing 4,300 Polish corpses. Only someone "in the know" could have revealed that Polish soldiers had been interned at Kozelsk and Starobelsk and that Polish soldiers had been killed "near Smolensk." This information was known to only a handful of people in 1943 and was carefully concealed for almost 50 years by Soviet authorities.

Mironov was recalled from Washington and arrested on charges of slander, but when he was put on trial, it was discovered that he was schizophrenic. He was hospitalized and discharged from the service.

See also


  1. Pavel Sudoplatov, with Anatoli Sudoplatov, Jerrold L. and Leona P. Schecter, Special Tasks: Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness and Soviet Spymaster (New York: Little, Brown, 1994), pp. 196-197.
  2. Robert Louis Benson, and Michael Warner, eds. VENONA: Soviet Espionage and the American Response, 1939-1957, pg. 9. Washington, DC: National Security Agency/Central Intelligence Agency, 1996. Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1996.
  • Document No. 20 in Robert Louis Benson and Michael Warner, eds., Venona: Soviet Espionage and the American Response, 1939-1957 (Washington, DC: National Security Agency/Central Intelligence Agency, 1996).
  • No author [probably William K. Harvey, CIA], Memorandum for the File, "COMRAP," 6 February 1948, Central Intelligence Agency, Vassili M. Zarubin file. [1]