The Illustrious Career of Arkadiy Harting

22 SEPT 93

No Foreign Dissem

Third chief of the Okhrana's Paris center for combatting the Russian revolutionaries abroad.


Rita T. Kronenbitter

To the Russian revolutionaries of all colors the life of Abraham Hackelman, as he was originally named, was one of endless and utmost infamy. He was a traitor to his ethnic group, an informer, spy, provocateur, impostor, and the most ruthless bloodhound of the Tsarist regime. When his true identity was exposed in 1909 at the height of his career as Arkadiy Harting, the press of western Europe was filled with accounts of his betrayals and activities as a master spy on behalf of the political police and finally as director of its foreign service, the Paris Okhrana. Among the files of the Paris station there are preserved several thick volumes of clippings from European newspapers giving the revolutionaries' version of the life of this extraordinary and by them most hated man. Writers competed with each other in describing him in the strongest terms of dread and repugnance.

The newspapers received the bulk of their information about his sinister exploits from Vladimir Burtzev, who at that time was engaged in setting up a counterintelligence bureau for the revolutionaries. When he first broke the news that Paris Okhrana chief Harting was none other than the former agent provocateur Hackelman,2 who 19 years before under the alias Landesen had been sentenced in absentia by a Paris tribunal to five years' imprisonment, the press wanted more of such sexy stuff. Burtzev's bureau supplied more. It began issuing special bulletins on the case, for the story constituted a windfall of favorable publicity for the revolutionaries and a damning indictment of the already discredited Paris Okhrana, Burtzev's paramount target. It also brought Burtzev in some needed money; the papers were eager to pay for releases about the scandal embarrassing the Russian and indirectly the French government.

While this frenzied publicity was based on two central items of truth—Harting's identity with Hackelman and the 1890 criminal conviction in Paris—the great bulk of it was dizzy flights of fancy, propaganda aimed at the Okhrana when the Tsarist service could not defend itself or enter into polemics with the European press. Hackelman's intelligence career could not have been known to the revolutionaries except in fragmentary incidents, and his story has never been written. The Okhrana files, containing hundreds of his reports and a few about him, however, attest to his truly fantastic rise from a lowly informer to a position dominating the Russian secret service abroad and exerting a strong influence on the services of the European countries. Then after this phenomenal ascent the sudden fall, ending his career forever and hurting seriously the organization he had built.

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Petersburg and Riga

Abraham Hackelman was born 29 October 1861 in Pinsk, where his parents owned a small grocery store. It appears that he first served the political police as an informer while in secondary school there. Then, being a very promising student, he was sent to St. Petersburg in 1879 to enroll at the Gorniy Institut. Here he made a good start, devoting himself entirely to his school work. Rather shy and aware that as a Jewish student he had to do exceptionally well to satsify the professors, he avoided student company. Student politics would not only interfere with his studies but also bring a constant risk of expulsion. He was intent on becoming an engineer as soon as possible and was not interested in political agitation, particularly not in the underground cell meetings of the terroristic Narodnaia Volia (People's Will) which was concentrating on recruiting students at the time.

Hackelman would most likely have become an engineer if he had not been befriended by two diametrically opposite persons at about the same time. One of these was Vladimir Burtzev, a classmate and student leader, who wanted him to join his underground cell. The other, who did not visit him at school, was Colonel Sekerinsky, chief of the St. Petersburg political police. The details of both the ostensible and the true recruitment are unknown, but it can be assumed that Hackelman would never have joined the subversives except on the colonel's urging. He became a professed fellow conspirator and an informer. His studies apparently did not suffer as much as he had feared, and his small income from the newly constituted Okhrana relieved his struggling parents of the burden of his college expenses. Gradually Hackelman gained access to the inner circle of conspirators planning terrorist acts. He reported a series of plots and made possible a large number of arrests. Nevertheless he managed to escape suspicion. When he was once mentioned as possibly the traitor, Burtzev, in whose cell he worked, refused to believe it. He held Hackelman to be his best friend and an ideal revolutionary. Defending him in the meetings of the underground, he told the comrades how the two of them had begun together their revolutionary careers. Their careers would in fact run on together, but on opposite sides as principal protagonists in the great battle between the Okhrana and revolutionary intelligence.

Burtzev refused to believe an even more positive accusation against Hackelman. In 1882 the revolutionaries caught up with a Captain Sergei Degaev who had worked among them as an undercover agent for the Okhrana. Degaev declared in his confession that Hackelman was also an Okhrana informer. Luckily no one at the time believed in the truth of this confession .3 Hackelman continued to be trusted, and more subversives were arrested that year, including finally Burtzev himself when he brought in from Rumania a team equipped with bombs.

To escape any suspicion for this betrayal, Hackelman promptly left St. Petersburg and enrolled in the Riga Polytechnicum. Here he resumed his extracurricular activities, participating in the student underground and reporting to the Okhrana. But when in 1884 a number of arrests were made, the Riga subversives got more on him than a mere suspicion; they uncovered his association with an Okhrana officer and sentenced him to death as a traitor to the cause.

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Swiss Interlude

Hackelman escaped abroad and enrolled the same year under the name Landesen at the Polytechnicum in Zurich. He had again decided to devote himself to finishing his college work, but here too he met a group of Russian students, or exiled revolutionaries who made studying something of a sideline. Associating with them, he found a whole crew engaged in the manufacture of bombs for delivery to Russia. Two of these amateurs, students of philosophy named Dembsky and Dembo, were blown to pieces by an infernal machine they had just constructed. For nearly a year "Landesen" had no contacts with the Okhrana, whose headquarters at St. Petersburg, however, followed attentively his association with the Narodnaia Volia terrorists in Zurich and Geneva.

The Okhrana had recently decided to establish a center in Paris for operations against the émigré revolutionaries in France and Switzerland. One of its high officials named Zvoliansky was sent abroad late in 1884 for the necessary talks with the French government and also to spot possible recruits for penetration agents. Landesen headed the list of prospects. Zvoliansky, who had known him in St. Petersburg, interviewed him in Zurich and proposed he continue his studies at the university and be given the status of secret agent working in the Narodnaia Volia there. Landesen was willing but asked for a salary of 1,000 francs a month. He also wanted an assignment in Paris, whereas most of the leading Russian terrorists were at that time concentrated in Switzerland. Zvoliansky reported that he bad a "talent for the job ... skillful and intelligent, he could become most useful if he were not asking for such a high salary."

When in April 1885 Peter Rachkovsky was commissioned to head the Paris Okhrana, he was instructed to contact Landesen again for possible recruitment but to negotiate for a salary of not more than 300 francs. He was given a dossier on the candidate's past services with a caveat in regard to his security-mindedness. If recruited, Landesen was to receive an extensive security briefing to preclude any repetition of the 1884 exposure in Riga.

The clandestine meetings with Landesen lasted four days. Rachkovsky, though he had headquarters' and Zvoliansky's assessments to go on and in ..cite of headquarters' impatience for the immediate recruitment of penetration agents, did not want to rush into hiring people. To size the man up himself, he induced him to talk for two days about his informant jobs at St. Petersburg and Riga and his contacts with the terrorists in Switzerland. His security failures in Russia had to be discussed in detail so that he could recognize his own weaknesses and learn to guard against another exposure. After Landesen's admissions and explanations fully satisfied him, Rachkovsky directed the talks to his prospective employment and assignments. In the end he persuaded him to remain in Switzerland and start at 300 francs a month plus travel expenses. Landesen would report directly to Rachkovsky, as his case officer, on the activities of the Narodnaia Volia.

Rachkovsky did not rule out the possibility of Landesen's eventual transfer to Paris, but the logical place for the time being was Switzerland, where be had already developed some contact with several rabid subversives. His acquaintances Bach, Baranikova, Sladkova, and Lavrov all had dossiers in Rachkovsky's files of dangerous terrorists. Bach. living in exile since 1880, was one of the most wanted persons; he had been ringleader in several assassinations in Russia. The contents of his dossier were carefully gone over in the course of Landesen's briefing for his first assignment; the agent memorized everything on record about Bach's background, personal character, and past conspiratorial associates.

For a start, Landesen was to rent an apartment in Zurich that would be a convenient meeting place for the subversives. He was to play the role of a student whose family were of some means—not too rich, but putting him in easier circumstances than the average Russian student in Zurich. At first he should associate with all young Russians there, regardless of political attitude, but then gradually show preference for the revolutionaries, particularly Bach and another intellectual named Lev Tikhomirov. Rachkovsky did not reveal to Landesen that the reason for his special interest in Tikhomirov was a plan to develop him into another penetration agent .4

Landesen soon became well known in Zurich's colony of Russian students and exiled intellectuals. His associates were often in need, and small loans led them into some dependence on him. The poorest of them all seemed to be Bach, his principal target, and it was not long before Bach agreed to save himself rent by moving into his apartment, which thus became the central meeting place for the terrorist intellectuals in Switzerland. Landesen reported on them and their movements daily. When he asked for more money, Rachkovsky would comply promptly but always in moderation. The agent could not afford to risk arousing suspicion about his income. His money actually came from Russia, the Okhrana backstopping in the role of his relatives and occasionally writing to reproach him with affection for being a foolish spendthrift.

After an inspection tour in the fall of 1886, Zvoliansky submitted to headquarters a critique of Hackelman-Landesen's first work abroad. He praised both agent and case officer for their teamwork, Rachkovskv in Paris for his guidance and Landesen in Zurich for exhaustive coverage of the terrorists' activities. The Okhrana had received a steady flow of reports on all projects of the leader Bach through his conferences in Landesen's apartment with comrades living in various Swiss cities and those dispatched to or returning from Russia. It had full information on the clandestine Narodnaia Volia printsbop in Geneva which produced terrorist literature for smuggling into Russia.

Rachkovsky consulted Landesen about the mounting and timing of a raid on this printshop. Landesen supplied him enough information to convince the Swiss police that they should make such a raid and arrest the subversives. The operation was successful. It terminated the Narodnaia Volia propaganda system, eliminated Switzerland as a center for the terrorist organization, and all but destroyed the organization. Landesen remained in Zurich until 1890 to continue watching Bach and his residual cell.

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Provocation in Paris

Landesen's next assignment, as a penetration agent in Paris, was of short duration but in a way the most significant of his career. In this operation he was actually an agent provocateur.5 His case officer had a very special purpose in mounting the operation; it was a studied auxiliary to a major political action project. None of his records indicate that Rachkovsky formally informed headquarters about his ruthless plan, and it is possible that no one but case officer and agent knew about it. Their teamwork in planning and carrying out this action was even closer than that which Zvoliansky had commended in Switzerland.By 1890 the majority of the Russian terrorists had moved from Switzerland to Paris. It was natural for Landesen to move there to join his student friends and grateful colleagues. Paris thus became the new underground center. Landesen attended their gatherings and grew to be one of their leaders. His reports told of new plans for acts of terror to be committed in Russia and against Russian officials abroad. In Russia the information would have given ground enough for raiding the meetings or arresting the members individually.

In France, however, Rachkovsky felt helpless. He had gained the close cooperation of the Sûreté, but the French police were handicapped in anti-revolutionary actions by an unfriendly press and public opinion. He therefore planned the next operation with the purpose of helping to sway French public favor away from the revolutionaries and their anti-Tsarist propaganda. More important still, if he could force the Sûreté to act against the terrorists it would impress the regime in St. Petersburg with the French government's ability to crack down on revolutionaries. This last aspect of the operation was probably his main concern. He had put much effort behind the scenes into promoting a Franco-Russian alliance. While the French seemed to favor it, the imperial court in Russia was lukewarm or even hostile so long as France was giving asylum and protection to Nihilists and other enemies of the Tsar.

Case officer and agent played equal roles, as they were accustomed, in planning this politically motivated master stroke. The risk of failure was considered, and the real risk of exposing the provocateur. It was decided that if Landesen were exposed he could go into hiding and then take another identity for his further career. Landesen suggested the plan of operation and Rachkovsky allotted the funds. Landesen was to propose a scheme for the assassination of Tsar Alexander III to a group of leading terrorists. Rachkovsky suggested the names of some that should be assembled for the conspiracy and Landesen added others.

Some twenty-five conspirators assembled for the first meeting and listened to Landesen's scheme. It entailed the construction of bombs in Paris. When the question was raised as to who would pay for the equipment, Landesen said he was sure he could get the necessary sum from his rich uncle. A workshop was rented in the Rainey woods near Paris. Various types of bombs were manufactured and several conspirators trained who were to go to Russia as an advance team. Landesen himself was scheduled to go with this group.When enough bombs were on hand and the first conspirators ready to depart, Landesen set a date when the weapons were to be distributed among the conspirators, together with written instructions on the role each one was to play in the assassinations. Rachkovsky, who was kept informed of every detail, now knew just when and where to find this incriminating evidence in the possession of the individual conspirators, for Landesen was personally in charge of the distribution. Through his agent Jules Hansen, Rachkovsky passed the information to Minister of Foreign Affairs Flourence and :Minister of Interior Constance. The Sûreté then rounded up all the participants with their bombs and other arms except Landesen, who had disappeared.

In the ensuing famous Paris trial of 1890, Landesen was sentenced in absentia, as the ringleader, to five years imprisonment; some twenty others were sent to prison or expelled from France. The provocation was a complete success from Rachkovsky's standpoint except for the effect on his most important agent. The court trial was useful in alerting the French public to the dangers of the Russian terrorists. The incident promoted liaison with the Sûreté Générale, which got credit for rounding up the subversives and so enhanced its reputation for good work. The Paris center was commended by headquarters. Above all, the imperial regime was now convinced that the French government could be depended upon to be firm and take action against the Nihilists. Negotiations for signing a Franco-Russian alliance began shortly after the trial.

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International Honors

Landesen remained in his Paris hideout for two months after the arrests. In August 1890, settling in Belgium as a Russian nobleman, he received an award of 1,000 rubles annual pension. This did not mean retirement. At one time he was reported active with a Baron Sternberg, a., Okhrana agent sent from headquarters to work among the Belgian Anarchists. For the most part, however, he traveled on Okhrana business through various European countries, usually as a security companion to important personages. In a letter from London still preserved in the files he asked headquarters' permission to get himself baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church and to have his name legally changed to Baron Arkadiy Mikhailovich Harting. The request was granted; he became an Orthodox Christian at Wiesbaden, but the festival ceremony took place at the Embassy Church in Berlin, with Count Muraviev officiating as his godfather and the wife of Imperial Senator Mansurov as godmother. For this purpose be falsely registered his birthplace as St. Petersburg. He did not feel comfortable in this company as a Jew from Pinsk.

In recognition for his extraordinary services Rachkovsky heaped favor after favor upon Harting, usually in the form of important assignments that could only lead to promotions and decorations of all sorts. When Crown Prince Aleksandrovich came for his betrothal to Allissa Hesse in Coburg-Gotha, Harting, in charge of security, received a present of 1,000 rubles, together with an appropriate medal. As the Tsar's bodyguard in Copenhagen he was given medals from the Emperor and from the King of Denmark; and when the Tsar went hunting in Sweden and Norway he got gold medals there. Similar assignments in Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other countries invariably brought presents, medals, or other decorations. He earned several medals in England and France. Now one of the most decorated of contemporary international dignitaries, he traded his dashing socialite bachelorhood for marriage to a young and very wealthy Belgian, Madeleine Palot.

It appears that the decorations and prestige and even the marriage to a rich socialite were all part of a design. Rachkovsky was after firm liaison arrangements with the security services of as many European countries as possible. When he had put an ace operator of the Okhrana into the position of being awarded presents and decorations from all these governments, he could reciprocate and honor their security officials with awards from the Tsar. Medals exchanged in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual recognition often paved the way to cooperation. It was in fact in this period of the 1890's, as a sequel to Harting's international assignments, that Rachkovsky succeeded in establishing liaison between the various security services and his Okhrana center. And it was in Belgium, after Harting's marriage, that the Okhrana developed the most lasting and comprehensive exchange of information. Up to the outbreak of war in 1914 the Paris center received from the Belgian Surete Generale a continuous transcript of its records on all Russian political subversives and other terrorists.

Rachkovsky had been trying for some time to establish a separate agentura in Berlin. The city was becoming a center for the Russian Social Democrats in exile, who used the Prussian borders with Russia's Poland as a safe and convenient infiltration gate for revolutionaries. The Prussian Sicherheit Dienst was hesitant about developing permanent liaison with the Okhrana, and it refused to discuss a separate agentura, even if the agents were to be Germans, until Rachkovsky specified that the proposed station would be under the direction of Harting and its task limited to collecting information on Russian revolutionaries and supplying this to the Germans for purposes of cooperation. The Praesidium approved the proposal without delay upon hearing the name Harting, a man who had been decorated by their Kaiser and thanks to whom several of the Praesidium officials were wearing the Tsar's medals.

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Station Berlin

Harting assumed the Berlin post in December 1900. Settling down at Friedrichstrasse No. 4, he was known as an engineer attached to the Imperial Consulate. He opened the agentura on the same pattern as the center in Paris, engaging first three and soon thereafter three more external, surveillance agents and then gradually introducing the internal, penetration agents. On the average he had to maintain three safe houses, since he and his assistant Michael Barkov had to make all their intelligence contacts outside the consulate.

The external agents were men recommended by or at least known to the German security police. Despite this advantage they never gained the access their counterparts in other countries had to police records on the revolutionaries. The reason for this, Harting explained in several dispatches, was the German system of decentralization. There was not only a separate and independent service in each state of the Reich, but within Prussia and even in Berlin each police district kept its separate file and there was no routine reporting to a central intelligence repository. To overcome this difficulty Harting hired as his secret agent Herr Wineck, a high official of the Sicherheit Dienst and former chief of its Russian section. Wineck was in a position to gather the police records on the revolutionaries from all districts, and between 1902 and 1904 he channeled over a thousand reports to Harting. He was paid for this service in the form of gifts, a regular salary did not seem appropriate.6

Harting maintained in Germany some half dozen penetration agents, frequently assigning them to border infiltration points. His ace man was Dr. Yakob Zhitomirsky, who as a student in Berlin had worked for the Sicherheit Dienst before he was picked up by the agentura in 1902 and insinuated into the Leninist group of revolutionaries. His exceptional achievements were culminated in 1906, after Harting had become chief of the Paris center.

Rachkovsky's concept of the Berlin agentura was as a branch of the Paris center with operations limited to Germany and the Low Countries. As long as the chief in Paris was Harting's protector and real friend the arrangement worked smoothly, but Rachkovskv fell into disfavor and was replaced by a bureaucrat named Rataev who, in Harting's estimate, lacked all the qualifications of an intelligence director.7 Harting's agents therefore were soon found on special assignments in Switzerland, Italy, and England. The resulting friction with Paris never came to a head, although a sudden summons to St. Petersburg once made Harting wonder whether he was going to get a reprimand for projecting operations into Rataev's territory.

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Japanese Targets

The call to headquarters turned out to be the beginning of a new chapter in Harting's career. Director Lopukhin had read with interest a number of Harting's agents' reports concerning the activities of a Japanese Colonel Akashi, who was conducting anti-Russian intelligence operations from Paris into several European capitals. The director wanted Harting to help set up a separate counterespionage organization aimed at Akashi's system. His job as chief in Berlin was abruptly terminated and a caretaker sent there.

Harting now became a traveling staff agent. In constant trips back and forth from St. Petersburg he repeatedly covered Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Brussels, and London. His task was to spot among the diplomatic missions agents that could develop access to the Japanese embassies and consulates. He concentrated especially on the Japanese legation at Brussels, where he learned that Colonel Akashi was spending more rime than at his regular post in Paris. It may have been Harting's trusted Belgian friends who got hold of the Japanese code for telegraphic messages.8

Returning from these many trips abroad he made until late 1904, Harting was debriefed not only by the Okhrana director but also by the general staff. Russia was at war with Japan, and the military intelligence section developing new assets gave Harting a field officer status. His rank was raised nearly every time he came back from Europe. In the end he was given the stars of a major general, assigned to the regular army, and placed in charge of a newly formed counterespionage unit for ,the Far East. The Okhrana files, logically, contain no record of his work on this military assignment, which was of short duration before the sudden termination of hostilities.

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Revival in Paris

In August 1905 the MVD appointed Harting chief of the foreign Okhrana. His friend Rachkovsky, now back in favor, was made chief of operations at headquarters. The same teamwork the two had displayed in the past reappeared at once, now at the top level. Rachkovsky gave Harting authority to organize the service according to his best judgment. As the correspondence shows, Harting's instructions were to study the structure of the service and the productivity of operations, report his findings, suggest changes, and proceed with whatever measures he deemed necessary.

Harting proved to be a truly methodical organizer. On the way to Paris he stopped in Berlin to close the agentura there—it had practically stopped functioning in his absence—and transfer its records to Paris. The key agents in Germany, however, he left under the direction of case officer Barkov.

In Paris, Harting found that Rataev had already left for Russia in order to avoid meeting his hostile successor. The Paris establishment had all but disintegrated. The one remaining deep-cover agent, Gersh Kuryansky, was reporting direct to the Okhrana office, contrary to strict rules against such practices. Only four external agents were left, of which only two could be used for surveillance purposes; one, Fehrenbach, did nothing but collect information from liaison centers, and another, Henri Bint, had become a confidential aide and principal agent and refused to go back to routine surveillance assignments.9

Harting made visits to Geneva and London. In Geneva Swiss security chief Mercier was placing intercepted correspondence of the revolutionaries at the disposal of Okhrana agents Rigault and Depassel. But two other agents, police employees Boquet and Deleamon, did nothing but deliver transcripts of police records. There were no surveillance or investigation agents. In London there were only two agents—Michael Thorpe, who furnished transcripts of police records, and a certain Farce, who was engaged in surveillance tasks.

In Harting's first survey he reported to headquarters that not only the external service but also the Russian clerks in the Okhrana office were being paid through the Frenchman Bint, who in fact even kept the office accounts. Bint was paying himself up to 1,000 francs a month, and the pay of all external agents had been greatly increased without justification, because at least during the last twelve months they had been almost inactive. The payment of these exorbitant salaries left no money to pay a newly arrived deep-cover agent, Batushansky. Harting demanded a free hand to revise the budget, establish a substantial penetration service, and run an invigorated external service. Headquarters approved, and he brought under his control the penetration agents who had been sent out by the provincial Okhrana branches and at the same time began recruiting in the field.10

Within a year Harting had succeeded in placing 16 productive penetration agents in the Anarchist, Socialist Revolutionary, and Social Democratic committees in France, Switzerland, Germany, and England. He developed strong liaison ties with the security services of many countries, and wherever possible he used external agents who were approved by the local services and therefore given access to their security records on Russian revolutionaries.

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Arms Smuggling

One of Harting's major achievements was to completely stop gunrunning into Russia on the part of the revolutionaries. For this purpose he set up a network of special agents to find and report on anyone financing or purchasing arms, the dealers involved, the vessels carrying the cargoes, their captains and crews, etc. Seven such agents were assigned to the ports Amsterdam-Rotterdam, Antwerp, LondonBirmingham, Hall, Liverpool, and Geneva. He also had paid informants in the companies engaged in arms shipping, and he developed contacts with chiefs of the secret police in Hamburg, Liibeck, and other ports.

The smuggling problem had become acute during the Russo-Japanese War, when Colonel Akashi supplied Konni Zilliacus, the Finnish Socialist, funds to purchase guns for a shipment on the SS "John Crafton." It is not certain that Harting had a man aboard this ship. but at any rate he was able to inform headquarters of its cargo and schedule in time to prevent its docking and unloading, and the cargo was lost when the steamer later grounded in the delta of the Kem River. Thereafter his agents uncovered other attempted shipments on the "Luma," "Flynn," "Cecile," and "Cvsne," one steamer after another. All the attempts failed.

As all shipments through the Baltic were blocked, the Leninist group in Berlin under the management of Meyer Wallach (Maxim Litvinov) attempted a shipment of arms via the Black Sea. The Dutch security director was the first to inform Harting of the revolutionaries' intent to use this alternate route, sending arms overland via Passau through Austria to the coast. Agent Dr. Zhitomirsky in Berlin was alerted. He soon reported that Litvinov was traveling with eight "seamen" from Berlin to Vienna. Harting put a surveillance agent on the train, and another joined him in Vienna. They reported that Litvinov's group had split into three teams and the first was bound for Bulgaria. Harting rightly guessed that their steamer would be located at the Burgas or Varna docks. He so reported, and the craft was sunk in the Black Sea soon after leaving port.

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The development of the Paris Okhrana into a service which was in operational aspects an independent establishment paralleling the organization in Russia can be attributed predominantly to Harting. Under his direction all previously autonomous assets aboard—in Berlin, the Balkans, and Galicia—were integrated with the Paris center. Within a short period of time the service reached its height of operational activity, and Harting still had only four assistants—his number two man Boris Sushkov, Ivan Molchanov and Nikolai Chashnikov taken over from Rataev, and Ivan Melnikov. Sushkov and Molchanov often served as case officers for internal agents; Melnikov and Chashnikov worked on records and reports and as contacts with the principals of the external service.

Although Harting, himself a tireless case officer, was thus assisted by two qualified subordinates in maintaining operational contacts with agents, by 1907 the work load and security considerations called for some reorganization. A new type of case officer was introduced, a staff officer of gendarme (or army) rank assigned to the field under deep cover to take charge of penetration operatives. Like the deep-cover agents, these new case officers were never admitted to Okhrana premises, and all their contacts with Harting and his aides were clandestine. Captains Dolgov and Andreev were the first such officers, each handling a group of penetration agents. The job required much travel, since the agents might be in England, Switzerland, Italy, or wherever. Dolgov's assignments were usually in England and the Low Countries and Andreev's in France, Switzerland, and Italy, while Michael Barkov continued in Germany.

By the end of 1908 the Paris center had over forty men and women placed in Russian revolutionary organizations abroad, a number of them on some central committee and among the leaders, others at intermediate levels of a conspiratorial hierarchy. Mere membership in a revolutionary party did not qualify for agent work; at least good prospects of gaining influence were required, and of course the confidence of the leaders. The external, detective service was numerically about one-half the size of the internal.

Henri Bint served as the principal for most external agents in France and Switzerland. He also organized teams for special surveillance and investigative jobs and assembled, dispatched, and paid the agents. The constant reshuffling of teams in time made all Bint's agents acquainted with one another. Ordinarily a team under Eugene Invernizzi concentrated on revolutionaries who lived in the Italian and French Rivieras, surveilling them and intercepting their mail through access to local post offices; and similar teams were at work in Berlin and London. All of them, however, were subject to disruption when some member of the imperial family needed protection on a visit in western Europe. Quite often Bint was ordered to call together some dozen agents and organize them for coordinated operations with the police and security units of the area to be visited. On such assignments Bint or whoever was in charge in his stead would be in constant telegraphic communication with Harting, informing him hour by hour of the placement of each agent, coordination arrangements, alerts, warnings, etc.

One of Harting's major contributions to the organization of the Paris office was the introduction of a filing system and a system for recording intelligence and operational data. During his period of office, headquarters began to supply printed 3x5 cards on all revolutionaries and political suspects. Harting supplemented these with additional data and started an operational card file on all persons mentioned in intelligence and operational reports. This reference system, as numerous notations indicate, was used for operational planning, verification of data, and background for intelligence reporting. The Paris files thus became in some respects superior to those in the central Okhrana repository in Russia.

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The Fall

Of the four chiefs of the Paris Okhrana Harting seems the most impressive in both activity and personality, and he was no doubt the most universally liked by his office subordinates and secret agents. The same kind of teamwork he had achieved with Rachkovsky he extended to his agents. What endeared him to them more than the remuneration—which he always insisted on keeping at high levels wherever due—was his engaging personality and habitual human interest in their welfare and security.

The abrupt end of Harting's service came as a very serious blow to the Okhrana abroad. He himself probably expected it after Leonid Menshchikov, a former subordinate official of the Okhrana in Russia, defected to Vladimir Burtzev and the intelligence bureau he was organizing for the revolutionaries. Harting suspected rightly that Menshchikov had some information which might lead to his exposure. On the morning of 15 June 1909 the Paris newspapers broke the sensational news that Arkadiy Mikhailovich Harting, chief of the Russian secret police in Paris, famous socialite, and candidate for the French Legion of Honor, was none other than that Abraham Hackelman who, under the alias Landesen, had been sentenced in 1890 by a Paris tribunal to five years imprisonment as a terrorist provocateur. The press demanded his immediate arrest and Socialist deputy Jaures seized on the case in parliament to attack the Clemenceau cabinet and call for the expulsion of the Russian secret service.

The government in St. Petersburg issued official denials, pointing to Harting's noble birth, high rank in the army, etc. but at the same time sent telegrams ordering him to leave Paris at once. He settled at first in Belgium under some unknown name. Burtzev sent teams to Brussels to locate and kidnap him to bring him back to France and prison. But Harting hid so well this time that he even vanished from the secret Okhrana files.

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1 Based chiefly on the collection Zagranichnaya Okhrana in the Hoover Institution. For earlier articles from this source see "The Okhrana's Female Agents" Parts I and II, Studies IX 2 p. 25 ff and IX 3 p. 59 ff, "Okhrana Agent Dolin," Studies X 2 p. 57 ff; and "Paris Okhrana 1885-1905;" Studies X 3 p. 55 ff.

2 The Russian, having no "H," transliterates the two names as Carting and Gakelman or Gekelman respectively.

3 Instead of sentencing Degaev to death after his confession, the terrorists ordered him as a matter of retribution to kill his case officer, a Colonel Sudeikin. After accomplishing this murder Degaev escaped abroad and eventually became a teacher of mathematics in the United States.

4 Lev Tikhomirov was a Nihilist and influential advocate of terror. Landesen's reports on his character and personal weaknesses gave Rachkovsky the background needed for his plan to convert and recruit him. To shake his revolutionary morale Rachkovsky apparently first used poison-pen letters. Then he engaged journalist Jules Hansen to publish a pamphlet in French entitled "Confessions of a Nihilist" which compromised Tikhomirov and made him the target of revolutionary attacks. He was even blamed, thanks to Landesen's machinations. for a police raid on an underground printshop in Geneva which produced tracts for the Narodnaia Volia to smuggle into Russia. In the end he did not become an agent, but Rachkovsky did persuade him to publish a book in Russian, Why I Stopped Being a Revolutionary.

5 The term "provokator" was applied by the revolutionaries to all police agents and investigators. In a strict sense, however, this operation appears to be the only one abroad on record which definitely constituted deliberate provocation. The practice was officially forbidden.

6 In the version given by V. A. Agafonov, Wineck, wrongly called Winen, is shown serving Harting with the express approval of Kaiser Wilhelm. Harting's dispatches requesting headquarters not to award a medal to Wineck because such favors might compromise him clearly disprove this story.

7 For Rataev's administration see Studies X 3 p. 62 ff.

8 The operation which exploited the code and developed a network for intercepting messages in a telegraph office in Brussels was entrusted to Okhrana official Ivan Manasevich-Manuilov, who used 16 agents in the daring and for a time most successful operation. For an earlier operation of Manasevich-Manuilov see Studies X 3, p. 65 f.

9 For these arrangements under Rataev see Studies X 3, p. 65.

10 In an outgoing dispatch he took note, however, that agent Vinogradov (Evno Azev) had not been transferred to his control but was being paid directly from headquarters.

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No Foreign Dissem

Historical Document
Posted: May 08, 2007 08:10 AM
Last Updated: Aug 04, 2011 02:55 PM