THE LOST SPY-AN AMERICAN IN STALIN’S SECRET SERVICE BY ANDREW MEIER
REVIEWER :LAURENCE HUMPHRIES
This book written by an investigative journalist , and an expert in Russian affairs is a meticulous account of Isaiah Cy Oggins and his wife Nerma, two young American idealists who committed themselves to Communism only to be crushed , betrayed and destroyed by Stalin and Stalinism.
As an indictment of Stalinism this book and its author are to be congratulated. It is a exposure of the counter revolutionary role of Stalinism in the Workers Movement. Meier starts the story.
“Isaiah Oggins was one the first Americans to spy for the soviet Union. for more than a decade beginning in 1928 he served in Josef Stalin’s espionage networks in Europe, Asia and America. At each station of his odyssey Oggins gained greater responsibility in the underground and greater respect in Moscow”. .
“For half a century Oggins life remained a mystery without an investigator in explaining it. I discovered a man of astonishing faith and innocence and a story of desire and dedication really impossible to imagine today.” .
Cy Oggins enrolled in college and became a University Professor. he met Nerma and they married soon after. this was a true love match and very soon they would start their work for the NKVD or OGPU.
In telling the story of Cy Oggins Meier takes us forward to his arrest in Lubyanka in 1939 and forward again to his secret activity with Nerma moving from Country to Country , First in Berlin Germany , then Paris in France. In Lubyanka Oggins is only a number. “Prisoner 568 a low number but the new year was only seven weeks old”.
Meier had found Cy and Nerma’s son Robin and this story is more for him than anyone else.
Robin comments “Politics was not just something you thought of once a year , he went on ,it shaped your life,-who you friends were, were you lived , where you studied .where you shopped and of course where you worked”. .
In 1924 Cy decided with Nerma’s help to commit himself to the secret work. Meier shows how all his friends , left their radical ideas behind forsook them and moved on. Not Cy and Nerma. “Cy’s belief in his ideals had only strengthened, but many of his fellow student radicals had moved on”. .
Cy and Nerma’s odyessy would take them to work in Berlin in Germany. Lenin believed in the importance of Germany as a Revolutionary centre . ” Lenin had long seen Berlin as the showpiece for World Revolution. In 1921 the Comintern had proclaimed Germany the next country to undergo a proletarian Revolution”. .
While in Berlin Cy and Nerma worked around a counterfetting operation. “Within months the Counter fetting operation began to unspool. on January 23rd 1930 while false $100 dollar bills were beginning to surface in Berlin The Berlin Tageblatt broke the story”..
In 1940 Cy Oggins was still in the Lubyanka. stalin had besmirched the name of Communism insisting on show trials when hundreds of old Bolsheviks and loyal communists were accused of all sorts of crimes without any evidence. Cy Oggins would be one of them.
“Cy had not much of a trial after his arrest in February 1939, he endured nearly a year in the Lubyanka”..
In January 1940 Cy was moved from Moscow to the Norilsk region.
Cy and Nerma left Berlin in 1930 in a great hurry as the counter fetting operation was unfolding. their next port of call would be Paris.
In Paris Cy and Nerma were to come into contact with the great Illegals. “The great illegals numbered no more than a dozen men and women, yet together they formed a spine of intelligence network that strtched from Europe to America”. .
In 1942 Cy Oggins was transferred to Butyrka Prison in Moscow. the American state department and the American ambassadors first learnt of Oggins incarceration by polish officers who had managed to sneak a message out to the Americans. In a telegram it stated “A polish citizen who has been released from prison by Soviet authorities under the amnesty has arrived in Kuibyshev and presented a letter to the Polish Embassy to the effect that a Mr Oggins described as a Columbia University Professor and a American citizen arrived in Moscow from Paris in 1938 was arrested in February 1939 and was sentenced to 8 years in Prison”. .
Two diplomats from the American foreign service were allowed to visit Cy in Prison . His last words to them were “Please endeavour to keep in touch with me”..
The American state department as well as the Soviet government are both guilty of Cy Oggins state sponsored murder.
“In 1935 after being in America for just one year he set sail for china Nerma and the boy would remain in san Francisco”. .
Cy Oggins arrived in Darien China to work under Charles Martin who had been one of the famous members of the Rote Kapelle (The Red Orchestra). Leopold Trepper a polish Communist was one of the Leaders and in his book the great game he said “it was only the Trotskyists who fought Stalinism”.
By 1937 Stalin had started a purge of the NKVD, this terror had started but there were some who fought like Ignace Reiss (Poretsky) a GPU agent and a Old Communist who broke with the NKVD and joined the Left opposition.
In his letter to Stalin he said “Now I will not take another step our paths diverge , he who now keeps quiet becomes Stalin’s accomplice, betrays the working class betrays Socialism. I intend to devote my feeble forces to the cause of Lenin. I want to continue the fight for our only victory, that of the Proletarian Revolution”. .
Reiss did not know that there was a Stalinist Agent in the Trotskyist movement. His name was Mark Zbrowski and it would be left to Alexander Orlov a retired GPU chief from Spain to expose him.
“For Cy and Nerma the vengeance wrecked by the Bosses in Moscow (The murders of Trotsky and his son Leon Sedov foretold the end of the campaign . The idealism that had led them to the trenches would endure. Their hope in the future would not waver”..
By 1942 Nerma had been told about Cy’s incarceration and she received telegrams from him. “I received your message and am happy to know that you and the child are in good health. I should appreciate your doing everything you can make it possible for us to be together again”. .
The FBI continued to keep tabs on Nerma and visited her several times but were unable to secure Cy’s release from the Gulag. Cy Oggins was executed by the Soviet state in 1947.
As Meier continues the story “It was not an execution , it was state murder. only months before in May 1947 Stalin had banned Capital Punishment but the American Prisoner could not be released” .
In 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union Boris Yeltsin the new President of Russia gave the Americans a note “It was a file recently received from the archives, The Prisoner Yeltsin said was an American who even though innocent of the crimes he had been charged with had been killed”..
General Volkongov , a high ranking Russian official came to Washington. “The American he assured the Senators and reporters was murdered because he had seen too much by Stalin”. .
Sudoplatov , one of Cy Oggins’s executioners claimed that Cy was a double agent. None of this was true, Cy Oggins remained true to the Communist and Stalinist ideal right to the end.
“Oggins was not a double agent nor even a Trotskyist , the Centre went after every agent in his control group guilty by association, they were removed from the Field and almost always eliminated”..
Cy Oggins was eliminated because unfortunately he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is an important book detailing the reactionary and counter revolutionary activities of Stalinism, a cancer in the workers Movement. Following Trotsky’s advice we must print , expose and publish the crimes of Stalinism. I strongly recommend this Book.
1) THE LOST SPY PG.7
2) DITTO PG.7
3) DITTO PG.44
4) DITTO PG.53
5) DITTO PG.85
6) DITTO PG.104
7) DITTO PG .121
8) DITTO PG..129
9) DITTO PG.150
10) DITTO PG.177
11) DITTO PG. 192
12) DITTO PG. 227
13) DITTO PG.232
14) DITTO PG. 252
15) DITTO. PG.271
16) DITTO .PG.274
17) DITTO.PG. 280