Moderator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen, friends and comrades. We are glad to welcome you again at the Foreign Intelligence Service press office. Today we are presenting a book by Yuri Lvovich Kuznets entitled "Teheran-43 or Operation Long Jump". The choice of the date for launching the book is not accidental. It is less than two weeks to the memorable date. November 28, 1943 saw the opening of the Teheran conference. And without any exaggeration it was a turning point in the allies' relations.
Press Conference with Veterans of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service
Official Kremlin International News Broadcast
November 18, 2003
It is an ungrateful business to describe the book. You will all read it or at least leaf through it to form your own judgment. I would like to introduce the panelists. First, the author will say a few words about his hard work, Yuri Lvovich Kuznets. Then we will hear from the director of the publishing house Pavel Mikhailovich Bystrov thanks to whom this book has seen the light of day. And I don't think I need to introduce our heroes, veteran spies, veterans of the external intelligence service Gevork Andreyevich Vartanyan and his wife Goar Vartanyan who linked their fates when they were very young, a boy and a girl, and have been living a very worthy life. You see the Star of the Hero and the Order of the Red Banner. And Gevork Andreyevich insists that three rays in that star belong to Goar. There is some truth in that. But I won't bore you with long introductions and give the floor to the author of the book Yuri Lvovich Kuznets.
Kuznets: Dear colleagues, dear comrades. It gives me all the more pleasure to use that form of address because the use of this word is in the tradition of the Russian Army and Navy. Every commander in our army during the Crimean War called his men "comrades". Admiral Kornilov and Admiral Nakhimov called their sailors "comrades." And in the years of the Civil War such a conservative figure as Admiral Kolchak has also began his field orders with the word "comrades."
I think with more than 80 years history of using that word, I think we would do well to remember it today.
So, it happened that when I woke up in the dead of night once I momentarily had a feeling that I had forgotten everything that I have written in this book. So, I may have difficulty recalling some events and dates, but one thing I will not permit myself is to be too long winded and to speak too long about this book. By the way, how much time do I have?
Moderator: Would ten minutes suffice?
Kuznets: At the moment it seems even too much. But I would be lucky if I managed to stick to this time limit.
Well, as often happens, I turned to this story with very serious doubts that I would be able to derive something from this story. That was in the mid-1960s when I got hold of a small pamphlet called "The Conspiracy Against Eureka." The pamphlet had been written by a man who at the time bore the name of Yegorov, but from some antics and mannerisms in the text I realized it was a pseudonym. It was about how a conspiracy had been hatched in Berlin and brought to the political scene of Iran, a conspiracy against Eureka. The conference of the heads of main anti-Hitler allies was named at the suggestion of Churchill. He was the only person who enjoyed thinking up romantic names to each of the war-time conferences.
A lot has been written and said here about Churchill, chiefly on the negative side. But I must say that the man's undoubted literary talent produced handsome names for whole conferences. A special operation was to be carried out as soon as the three leaders -- Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin -- met in Teheran. The film Seventeen Moments of Spring was still a long way off, we did not yet know the popular darling that Schtirlitz would become. By the way, the people who worked in the FRG at the time this spy serial appeared said that the streets of West German cities were empty and became quite safe because would be offenders were watching the next part of the series. I did not know about it at the time, but it speaks volumes about the quality of the serial that won the hearts and minds not only of the fellow countrymen but those who had fresh memories of their joint work with Mueller, Schellenberg, Himler, Kaltenbrunner.
The too were watching because there was something to see. So, this book described a group of Cheka men who came from Moscow to foil a conspiracy aimed at killing or kidnapping the three leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition. And the main character who in my book goes under the name of Mayer although his real name was Richard August. He was shot. Simple as that. This person presaged Schtirlitz. But in reality everything was different. However for some reason I got interested in this episode. After a long stay in a number of front-line countries in the Near East and Afghanistan, where I worked for full eight years from September 1979 to September -- actually to the beginning of 1988. I devoted full eight years to Afghanistan.
Since Afghanistan and Iran are closely interconnected both historically and mentally, I also had some idea of what the situation in Iran was like at that troubled time when Homeini had come to power. Having come back after 14 years of wandering around this interesting region, I must say that in the absence of something better I feel proud that I managed to stay in Afghanistan for full eight years at different periods, of which half I had to spend there and could not even take a vacation.
It was after the return that I decided to start exploring this issue because there is still some controversy or even contradictions with respect to Teheran as described in literature. On the one hand, there is no doubt that the Hitler leadership wanted to hit the anti- Hitler coalition leaders. I must say that Teheran was not the first such case.
In January of 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill met in Casablanca. The Germans had their agents even in the US ruling circles, particularly in the Department of Defense. The messages they intercepted mentioned the name of Casablanca. Hitler's special services took an aim, but in Spanish "casa" means house, and "blanca" white. So, German decipherers reported that the meeting was most likely to take place in the White House, that is in the United States.
German agents in the US became very active. Washington was being constantly watched, so to speak. Meanwhile Roosevelt and Churchill were peacefully conversing in Casablanca. By the way, such things happen in the most intellectual sphere -- I hope I can say that -- such as foreign intelligence. One would think that everything was thought over, studied and investigated, but then all of a sudden a very funny story happened when all those who had relation to terrorist activities had focused on Washington, while the event, which the special services were supposed to upset, took place in Casablanca.
In the year 1943, the Germans learned quite quickly that the conference was going to take place in Teheran. And it became clear that the first meeting of the three leaders was being planned to be held there. I must say that Stalin new Churchill quite well. However, he had not met with Roosevelt before Teheran. Therefore Roosevelt became the subject of scrutiny by Stalin and the Soviet delegation. They had to make close contact and establish if not a friendship then at least an understanding on both sides.
This is why the Teheran Conference was of great important for out country. However, I think I have to say that the work in Iran was very difficult for our intelligence. I hesitated before raising this issue because Gevork Andreyevich Vartanyan and Goar Levonovna Vartanyan experienced these difficulties themselves. Despite their young age, Gevork Andreyevich and Goar Levonovna fulfilled very important missions, some of which were connected with the prevention of terrorist acts against the heads of government, especially since the relationships between the heads of government were quite complex.
Stalin was a very observing person and a very circumspect person. It's just a little touch to help you understand what was happening at that time. Once he noticed that President Roosevelt had sent some note on a small piece of paper to Churchill who was sitting next to him. Stalin gave an instruction to Ivan Ivanovich Agayants, our intelligence agent in Iran, to get that note, not just to find out what was in it, but to get the note itself. This story was published in one of the newspapers last year. I used it in my work. I cited the source, of course. But the fact is that Ivan Ivanovich did get a copy of the note.
In the note Roosevelt wrote to Churchill, Sir, your fly is open. On the same note Churchill replied, The old eagle will not drop out of the nest.
This may be a funny fact, but it shows that nothing went unnoticed in the relationships between the heads of state.
As I recall what I wrote in this book -- I think I have already run out of my 10 minutes and I can hardly be brief, but I believe I can stop my opening remarks here because there is no need to retell the book that any of you can buy right here in the press bureau. I would like to invite you if not to buy, its retail price is 50 rubles, then at least leaf through it. This is also provided for in our procedure.
If you find something interesting in it, I can think of two factors to explain that. First of all, I explain this by the human factor. When I studied sources, I not only read the reports and analytical documents, the copies of coded messages, I simply fell for the elegance of those people and the greatness of their exploit.
Secondly, it is precisely the documents themselves. I consciously wrestled with my own text, trying to make it smaller, only in order to enable the reader to get acquainted with the train of thought of our intelligence officers, with their style and their information and analytical possibilities which of course surpassed what could be offered by Hitler's special services. Unwittingly, one feels tempted to tell something about what the hostile camp looked like, who was Richard August, alias Mayer; who was major Schultze Holtus who was an official of Abwehr-1, meaning the central apparatus of military intelligence.
Who were their Iranian "roof providers", shall I say, because without such "roof providers" no illegal activity is possible. But why should I say all this if it is possible to read all this? I would like to invite you to spare a little of your time to take a look at the "row of sights" and the documents the elegance and reliability of which cannot be overestimated. Concerning the "row of sights" I am very appreciative to my friend and the man who wrote some section of the book -- Valentin Ivanovich Zhilyayev who provided indeed quite unique photographs and, contrary to gossip that appears now and then that Stalin never flew by plane, that he was afraid of them to the point of panicking, that a huge detour route was chosen by land, one of these photos shows the moment in which the "supreme commander" is boarding a special liner in Baku at 10 o'clock in the morning on November 26, 1943. This picture is interesting in that we always saw "frontal" photos. In this case, however, the chief of his guards Vlasik, who was allowed to do that, took a picture of the boarding moment and in the center of the picture was the back of the supreme commander-in-chief. But I assure you that although I never saw Stalin alive, that was so expressive and recognizable a back, that could not be mistaken for somebody else's.
Well, this is in order to say that the "row of sights" also represents a certain value. I thank you for your attention.
Moderator: Dear friends, I would like to remind you once again that this is a book that narrates not only about the events around the Teheran Conference but in general about the confrontation of the Soviet and the British intelligence services with the German special services in Iran, starting perhaps from the year 1940, which period is covered, and if you take the historical perspective, you can cover the end of the 19th century and so, the book is largely based on archive documents that have been declassified. This includes the unique archive materials of the service of foreign intelligence and the federal guards service.
As the chief editor of our essays on the history of foreign intelligence Vladimir Alexeyevich Kirpichenko, who is present here, likes to say, "everything is the truth here" barring the descriptions of the weather and the dialogues.
Now I would like to give the floor to Pavel Mikhailovich so that he could say a few words as publisher.
Moderator: To Pavel Mikhailovich Bystrov about why they took up the series and what attracted them. Yuri Lvovich wishes to make a small remark.
Kuznets: Very small. There is a couple or more pages devoted to what an ordinary Russian knows about Iran. And I counted three things. Firstly, it is the voyage by Afanasi Nikitin to India via Iran. Secondly, it is the assassination of the Russian ambassador Griboyedov. Thirdly, it is the song about Stenka Razin who threw the Persian princess into the Volga. So, it transpired that Mikhail Mikhailovich Gromyko when he was foreign minister, ordered ...
Remark: He is not Mikhail Mikhailovich...
Kuznets: Andrei Andreyevich, I beg to be excused. Such things happen when one is overly agitated. Andrei Gromyko ordered to clarify whether there had been such a case. That is why when you, dear colleagues, gather around the table on the New Year eve sooner or later feel like signing that song, please, bear it in mind that the investigation carried out by Mr. Gromyko proved that high-born Persian ladies were at that time unavailable in the territory controlled by Stenka Razin.ong other things, I was so much struck by this circumstance that I made a reference to that point so that when the readers gather around their festive table, they would not treat the tragedy seriously. Andrei Gromyko himself did not hide his profound satisfaction over the fact that the well-known troop leader and diplomat Stepan Razin did not perpetrate such a hideous act because high-born Persian princesses were not to be found in Russia. That's it.
Q: So, then he threw a Russian princess overboard?
Kuznets: You know, Andrei Andreyevich did not delve that deep.
Bystrov: Good afternoon. Unlike Yuri Lvovich I will be brief. Yuri Lvovich did not have to persuade me long to publish the book. Actually, everything was decided during our first meeting when he was showing his materials, and I decided immediately to publish it because in my childhood I saw the well-known film Teheran-43 probably about five times.
Yuri Lvovich's book precisely demystifies that film, and says that there were no German subversive agents with scars on their faces crawling through the sewage tunnels with large amounts of explosives. And that is why the book seemed interesting to me and that is why we decided to publish it. I wish to point out that we published it quite quickly, largely thanks to the literary talents of Yuri Lvovich because there was no need to edit and revise a lot of things as is usually the case with some memoirs or documentary books. Here everything proceeded quite quickly and triumphantly.
Yes, there was a small delay when Zhilyayev's materials appeared. Nevertheless, I am extremely glad that we published the book, we published it in advance of the 60th anniversary of that event and I understand that Yuri Lvovich has promised another book...
Kuznets: I have shared secret information. But I'll try.
Bystrov: So, I think we will continue to lift the veils of secrecy surrounding some historical events.
Voice: Within the limits of what is permissible.
Bystrov: Within permissible limits.
Moderator: No more than that. Now I would like to give the floor to Gevork Andreyevich Vartanyan who is here easily the harshest critic of the book because Gevork Andreyevich and Goar Levonovna were direct protagonists in the events described in the book and they know first-hand what it feels like to crawl in basements and wells and tunnels depicted in the film Teheran-43.
Just one little comment. When the director of Teheran-43, Naumov, was asked whether he knew our resident in Teheran to his face before choosing his actor he said: "Honestly, I didn't. I had the man and his personal qualities described to me and I selected an actor accordingly." You surely have all seen this film. He is intelligent, decent, kind. And when our television ran a film that devoted much space to our resident Ogayants Ivan Ivanovich, they turned out to be physically alike. And as regards the inner world, they were practically twins.
Ivan Ivanovich Ogayants was the Godfather who introduced Gevork Andreyevich to the intelligence community. Gevork Andreyevich.
Vartanyan: Thank you. Dear Yuri Lvovich, dear comrades, it is very pleasant for me to be here today together with my wife. We read the book from cover to cover. Honestly, we liked it very very much because all the aspects are described objectively. Those who have never been to Teheran now can have a complete idea of how it looked and what the political situation was like. All the aspects are treated in depth.
It turned out to be a historical book that might be on every reader's desk top.
It is heartening that the book pays tribute and has some warm words about our dear and highly regarded Ivan Ivanovich. He was an extraordinary man, master spy, we often met him when we were in Teheran and we worked under his supervision throughout the war of 1941-1945.
And of course, the book does justice to him. And it is very pleasant to us that the memory is cherished. Many say that no such attempt had been made. All this is rubbish. An attempt had been made, and we provided the security of the conference and we knew what was going on. Actually, there had been an attempt and you know from history that 6 radio operators had been seized and made to defect and they worked under the control of our intelligence services from Berlin. And there was no doubt that there was a conspiracy.
There are unfortunately, some self-styled writers who distort our history. Before long they will be claiming that there was no Great Patriotic War or just that our country was a mere participant. Gradually, the credit comes to be ascribed more and more to the Americans and the British and we area being sidelined quietly. And I think it is you duty, the duty of printed and electronic media, to provide more historical facts on the air so that the people know and do not forget the services that the Soviet Union has made to the whole world.
It is thanks to the participation and the effort of our great people that we won and liberated the whole of Europe from fascism. It is gradually been forgotten, but we should see to it that it is not forgotten. And young people should be brought up in a patriotic spirit because of late patriotism has somehow been forgotten. And patriotism is a great force because if a person does not love his country, he or she won't do anything for it.
So, let us all of us join forces in order to restore the former might of our Homeland and bring up our youth in the spirit of patriotism. We have good young people, only you have to work with them.
But to go back to the book. Thank you very much, Yuri Lvovich. We bow to your talent. It is great that you have given such a book to our people. Thank you.
Moderator: I would like to chip in here. There is no contradiction between what was said by Pavel Mikhailovich and what was said by Gevork Andreyevich. Yes, an attempt on the Troika of the participants in the Teheran conference was being prepared, but the intelligence men, let us be fair, both Soviet and British intelligence men, claim the credit for foiling it. In general, Teheran was an instance of how the special services of different countries can interact.
The assassination attempt was foiled long before the conference began. This is really high class and virtuoso performance of the intelligence men. Not putting oneself between the assassin and the person you guard, but to minimize the danger of an assassination attempt. Still, the danger existed and for that reason President Roosevelt agreed to live on the territory of the Soviet Embassy during the Teheran conference. If my memory serves me, Churchill was under very tight security. I think a special passage had been made.
Voice: It was dug.
Moderator: Well, when we pass on to questions and answers Goar Levonovna and Gevork Andreyevich are living witnesses, they have seen everything with their own eyes.
If you permit me, I would like to give the floor to consultant, director of the External Intelligence Service Vladimir Alexeyevich Kirpichenko who had access to these materials being first deputy chief of External Intelligence of the KGB, the First Main Directorate. He had access to archive materials.
Now working on an essay on the history of external intelligence, he has turned to them again and I know that he has made a very attentive and critical study of the book, but I think that Vladimir Alexeyevich --
Kirpichenko: I appreciate the author of the book for restoring the historical justice by addressing those present in this room as comrades. I personally don't like the address "ladies and gentlemen." Ladies, I don't mind, but gentlemen... in Russian the word gentleman (gospodin) has a slight pejorative connotation.
So, dear colleagues. The author Yuri Lvovich has done a tremendous amount of work. He has presented at us with a good book. It contains no sensations, no inventions, it is strictly documentary. We are happy to say that the author thanked the intelligence people for helping him write this book. And I am grateful to the author for devoting his book to Soviet and Russian intelligence officers. I thank you on behalf of old spies.
I am familiar with the operations carried out by our intelligence service in Iran during the war. I used some documents and facts as vivid photographs. As I read the book, the photographs came alive and turned into a full-length film about Soviet intelligence activities in Teheran during the war.
There was a tremendous amount of work, and there were several intelligence networks. One of the merits of this book is that it draws a detailed and authentic picture of Iran, portraying the sentiments in tribes and ruling circles and how different intelligence services worked against each other. Only a few really know about cooperation between the Soviet intelligence service and the British and US intelligence services.
While cooperating we actually worked against each other. Just as we do now. We cooperate with the intelligence services of major countries in Europe and the US on such an acute question as terrorism. But at the same time we are working against each other. That's how it has always been. And it could not have been done differently.
But people got the impression that we did not cooperate. On the contrary, we had very good cooperation with the British intelligence service in Iran and Afghanistan. This is described in detail in the book written by Andrei Vladimirovich. And this is another merit of the book.
Now there is this endless discussion on whether there was the long jump or not. I want to say that there were preparations for the assassination of the heads of three states. We even know such facts that von Ortel, who leaked to our Nikolai Kuznetsov in a drinking binge that there would be a trap in Teheran and hinted that the purpose was to destroy the big three, was appointed head of a subversive school in Copenhagen and trained agents in subversive activities for this act. But since our and British intelligence services were aware of this fact, it became possible to timely destroy the fifth column in Teheran and upset the assassination plans. But the assassination had been prepared and there is no doubt about that.
In principle, I don't see any flaws in the book. Everything is perfect. It provides valuable material for a person who studies the history of intelligence. But I personally disagree with some passages that refer to the books written by Christopher and Gordiyevsky, these two bandits. Christopher is a product of the Cold War. In his books he referred to Soviet security bodies as illegal bands. He wrote all of his recent books in cooperation with intelligence service traitors, be it Kuzechkin (sp?) or Gordiyevsky. He might as well have not made these references. He might have referred to others.
And another passage refers to Sergo Beriya. I read this reference, just like Yuri Lvovich's book, using pens of different colors to underline different places except the fact that Sergo Beriya is the son of Lavrenty Beriya. That's the only truthful fact there. All the rest was thought up. And I think there was no need to refer to this book. There is enough proof without that.
And then this story with eavesdropping. Sergo Beriya, who was still a student at an academy at that time, eavesdropped and reported personally to Stalin. Gevork and Goar know what it's like to study a foreign language to the point where you know it as well as your native language. And being a former head of the general intelligence service, I know what it's like to teach a person a foreign language. And it's just a legend of course that this young man, Sergo Beriya, translated the eavesdropped conversations to Stalin. Actually as everything else that is written in this book is.
So many people have spoken and written about things like eavesdropping. First of all, all people eavesdrop each other. Second, Roosevelt and Churchill were not so naive to tell each other different secrets while meeting in our residence or the embassy. I myself was involved in such operations and I know what it's like. It's hard to get information from such conversations, and equipment was not so good at that time.
So, some things turn into legends, and people who don't know these things simply tend to overestimate their importance. They couldn't say anything that could be of interest to Stalin. But that doesn't matter. I simply expressed my attitude toward the authors whom I severely criticized in my works. It's a very good book, a very interesting book. Thank you, Yuri Lvovich. Keep on writing.
It's very fortunate that your first book about counter work of different intelligence services in Afghanistan against each other is included too. They complement each other.
Moderator: Just to exemplify what Vadim Alexeyevich has said, Soviet and Western intelligence services began cooperation against their common enemy during the war but at the same time they continued to work against each other as evidenced by the fact that Gevork Vartanyan received an excellent intelligence education in a British intelligence school which he had managed to infiltrate. As a result of his activities, this British intelligence school which was training agents for operations in the Soviet Transcaucasia, was closed because all of their agents were not fit for work since they had become known to our intelligence service.
Before we move on to questions and answers, there are two things I would like to ask of you. First, we will answer only those questions that are related to the declared topic of our press conference. And also, when you ask questions, identify yourselves and your media.
Q: You worked with the documents -- (inaudible) -- are there any secrets left concerning the Teheran Conference? And if there are still such secrets in documents and archives, when will they be disclosed?
Kuznets: I would redirect your question to Vadim Alexeyevich because he is consulting the Foreign Intelligence Service leadership on questions of history. But there is one thing I can tell you. As far as I know, in the archives of any intelligence service the chronicling of what happened or could have happened never ends. There is no such intelligence service in the world, especially if you consider that the British and American documents were published back in the 1960s and 1950s. I don't think any intelligence service in the world opens up to the last document even to scholars, not to speak about the broad public.
Moderator: I can add to this. Of course, information about our informers has remained and will remain a secret because they have children and grandchildren who live in this country. The network of agents is the holy of holies. And that information is not subject to mandatory declassification under the law after, say, 30, 40 or 50 years.
Q: ITAR-TASS. What methods did the local intelligence community consider that would be used to make an attempt on the heads of the allied states and what method was chosen? Thank you.
Kirpichenko: Various methods were considered. I will be frank with you and I will tell you that we don't know what method they finally chose. The simplest thing would be to shoot them dead. Because all the others would have been more complicated.
But since an attempt was made to address the question to me, I will tell you what was not and shouldn't have been in the book. And that was that Stalin, Molotov and Voroshilov had full dossiers on the positions of the allies. Our "Cambridge Five" from London provided exhaustive information on what concessions Roosevelt and Churchill could make and what stand they would take. So, the wisdom comes not through a system of eavesdropping, but through genuine documents that the Cambridge Five provided us with on the eve of the Teheran conference.
As for the method that was finally chosen to destroy the heads of the allied countries, we do not know. We did not penetrate that far.
Kuznets: Just a couple of words. It follows from the documents that at the time of its arrest the terrorist group had pistols, machineguns, revolvers, grenades and explosives and they were very well equipped. The most interesting thing is that they had managed to bring so many different weapons and communications (the famous firm Telefunken) items in the luggage. It took ten camels to take all this from the place where the plane landed to Teheran. Nothing indeed is known about more sophisticated weapons.
Q: Ekho radio station. Could you speak in more detail about the actual clash, I mean the arrest, as you put it? What happened, and what role did Otto Scorzeni play in that attempt?
Kuznets: First, not only Ortel, but, according to Gevork Andreyevich, Scorzeni himself have been dropped in in the vicinity of the city of Qum, he reached Teheran and surveyed the sites he was interested in. He paid attention to the American Embassy. I don't know if he had approached the Soviet and British embassies which were situated close to each other.
Secondly, you know, I can neither confirm, nor deny the version of the directors Alov and Naumov when an attempt to use cameras was made. But in 2001 this was how two Arabs assassinated Marshal Masoud posing as Japanese journalists and penetrating his apartment. They destroyed the Marshal and everyone who was in the room using a television camera as a container for explosives which were set off. So, I do not rule out that version, though it has not been confirmed historically, such a method might have been used.
But unfortunately, they have not approached those two embassies fearing, naturally, that they could be identified on the distant approaches. In general, their position was extremely difficult, even hopeless not only because there was multi-tier security coordinated with the British sides, but also because in July 1943 about 200 pro- German agents and Germans who were operating without cover were not destroyed but put in jail and served as a source of information for British and Soviet special services.
Iranians who were cooperated with the Germans were well known and the removal of almost 200 active pro-German agents from the field left the remaining part of the pro-German underground network without control. Each terrorist act needs to be thoroughly prepared. Terrorists have to be received and accommodated and provided good cover.
When all this was gone, even the Iranian accomplices of Germans, because the Germans themselves were already out of the game by that time, could not operate any more because there were no bases, there was no management, there was no plan, there was nothing that was necessary for a successful terrorist act against the leaders of the Hitler coalition.
Q: You also said that the Iranians did most of the work.
Kuznets: By Iranians I meant the pro-Hitler part of this underground network.
Moderator: The Iranians did not do it.
Q: But who did?
Moderator: If you know history, in 1941 Iran was basically occupied by Soviet and British troops and divided into zones. Soviet and British troops were stationed in Teheran. There was one story, I learned about it from Gevork Andreyevich, actually rather from Goar Levonovna, that Teheran was even been used at that time as a place for wounded Soviet servicemen to rest and undergo medical treatment. So, the Iranians did not do it. When the troops were being deployed, the old shah Reza Mohammad Pahlavi had to give up power in favor of his son at the moment and died in 1944, if I am not mistaken, on the Petreli (sp.?) island. So, the Iranians did not remove them.
Kuznets: In South Africa. I think something has been withheld.
Q: Soviet and British.
Kuznets: Soviet and British special services, using the friendly part of Iranians -- well, politically active Iranians, shall we say, and our agents, they determined that 79 to 200 politicians, army and police officers and journalists were indeed working in the interests of Germany.
Moderator: Goar Levonovna and Gevork Andreyevich were actually trying to identify these people.
Vartanyan: There were about 400 people who were neutralized after the Soviet and British troops had entered Teheran. All of them were neutralized and some were handed over to British authorities who sent them to India, and some were recruited by our intelligence service, while still others who refused to cooperate were sent to the Soviet Union where after the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad most of them were recruited by our intelligence service. They then returned to Iran and continued to work for our intelligence service.
Kuznets: As for the Iranians, army and police officers, they openly helped German agents who had been handed over to them. Such were the rules. The book describes one case when German agents handed over to the Iranian side were seen hanging around Teheran from morning till night as if they were not under arrest at all, while those who had to be heavily guarded were actually guarded by the weakest and sick policemen. For example, one of the German agents was guarded by two policemen, one of whom was paralyzed up to his waist, and the second had an advanced stage of tuberculosis.
Moderator: He couldn't walk.
Kuznets: He couldn't walk. So, it was a difficult situation. The Iranian parliament was crawling with German agents. There was the so-called blue party. A whole chapter is devoted to it in the book. This party voted for the neutrality of Iran and against a war on Germany. There are no easy countries for an intelligence service. But Iran is a country where a foreigner always sticks out, especially a European. And he is constantly under some mental umbrella because the Iranian society is a very closed society, especially when one bears in mind the 3,500 years of monarchy: of course, this is a lot in order to learn to fear foreigners. And finally the Iranian counterintelligence. It did not act in our interests either.
Q: Gevork Andreyevich, the question is for you. What specific assignment was given to you and to your group? I don't know. And what was your work, what was the purpose of your participation in those events?
Vartanyan: Originally it was to locate the fascist agents. We worked for one and a half years to find out the fascist "rezidentura" led by Franz Mayer. We have been able to find out about 400 fascist agents who were uncovered after the entry of our troops, which means they were arrested and called to account.
In the subsequent period, we also participated in providing security for the Teheran conference. And probably fortune smiled to our group and it was possible to stop a landing party that fascists put the area of Qum -- not far from Teheran. Then they entrenched themselves in a villa in Nadiri street in downtown Teheran. And it was there that the group was arrested by British intelligence.
Our people shared very much information with the British intelligence but the British, true to form, also continued to do mean things to us despite the fact of their being allies. They established a special group and organized a school where they trained subversionists and spies to be dropped over the territory of the Soviet Union. And in that school I went through a six-month training and so I am grateful to the British intelligence.
Q: Ekho Moskvy. I would like to know how you came to know your wife. Was it organized as part of an assignment, or how was it?
Vartanyan: I became acquainted with my wife thanks to her brother who was recruited into my group. She was 13 at that time but when she grew up, I also recruited her to my group. And since that time to this very day we have been "marching" together. We got married in 1946.
Q: And then the last question. Could you tell us what you did to get this high award?
Vartanyan: I think this is the general outcome of the work. In 1984 I became Hero of the Soviet Union while Goar Levonovna received the Order of the Combat Red Banner.
Moderator: Received the award when working in clandestinity. So, I would like Gevork Andreyevich to simply say a few words about that episode -- about the moment he received that very award.
Vartanyan: Well, it was 1984. We were then on an assignment in the West. And then came a cable. Ordinarily, cables were always received by Goar Levonovna, including encoding and deencryption -- she took part. But on that day she got stuck at work and so I received the cable. It was a very brief cable. And when a cable is brief, one always expects that something is coming. Or, it may be some occurrence, some emergency and probably it is necessary to get away as soon as possible. Or, something unfortunate has happened back home or among friends -- someone died and this was the message to inform you. And all of a sudden, I open the encoded message and I do not believe my own eyes -- Goar then said I grew pale. And I think that it was precisely a message to make you pale. I read the words saying that I have been awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union while Goar Levonovna was receiving another order.
And after the war, it was the first case of the award of the Hero of the Soviet Union. I ran through the message several times and I did not believe my own eyes. But then I gave the cable to Goar to read and she said, no, she would not read it because it might bode something bad. But I say that the message is good and I try to persuade her... I could not hide from her the feeling of being a Hero of the Soviet Union. I gave the message to her. Then we quickly collected everything and burned and then we went to the restaurant to fittingly mark the occasion.
Moderator: Any more questions?
Q: You said that a landing party was dropped somewhere in August in the area of Qum, didn't you?
Vartanyan: No, it was in early summer or late spring.
Q: Teheran was selected as the venue for the conference... You write to say that Roosevelt had agreed. So, how come that Scorzeni knew that nothing was known?
Kuznets: No, the fact is that several groups had been dropped and I was speaking about the group where incidentally Ortel was also present, that same one. I spoke about the group that was dropped already in early summer or in mid summer. In July, I think.
Vartanyan: I think it was end of August.
Kuznets: In August. The air hummed with infinite exchanges of information related to preparations for the conference.
Q: So, the word "Teheran" was already known in August?
Kuznets: There was the word "Teheran". And once again I wish to say that there were several groups dropped and in 1944 such practice continued. The Germans were desperately fighting in order to make impossible or ineffective the supply of goods under lend-lease through Iran. That is why the struggle did not end after the Teheran conference. And in 1944, for instance, a large landing group headed by Martin Kurmis was dropped. Kurmis was an SS-man who caught the attention of his commanders by his personal participation in the killings of Jewish population in Vilnius and in Kaunas. He was then flown to Afghanistan with a delicate assignment: to hand over to a pro-German tribal chief a golden pistol as a personal gift from Hitler and several thousand gold coins in a special bag. The task was to induce the tribes in southern Iran to launch massive strikes on shipments of lend-lease cargoes. I had not imagined the scale of that operation and its effectiveness, but as I found out all along the routes of the supply of lend-lease cargoes in Iran there was fierce fighting with the Iranian authorities. Our vessels carrying shipments on the Caspian were blown up and sank. We managed to establish how many vessels were sunk and how many trainloads of necessary foodstuffs and equipment have been destroyed by these tribal fighters. So, the struggle continued.
Moderator: So, the representatives of pro-German tribes, the Kashkai and so on --
Moderator: Any more questions? Well, thank you.