Paris Okhrana: Final Phase

22 SEPT 93

No Foreign Dissem

Setbacks, successes, and conversion to war work of the Tsar's countersubversion field agency.


Rita T. Kronenbitter

The exposure of its much-decorated chief, Arkadiy Harting, as a provocateur and fugitive from French justice came as a severe blow to the Okhrana abroad in June 1909. The greatest organizer and operator ever to head it had to be whisked out of Paris to evade arrest after Vladimir Burtzev's revolutionary intelligence, supported by the liberal press of France, demonstrated beyond doubt that he was the same man as both Abraham Hackelman, a police informer of the 1880's, and the provocateur Landesen whom a Paris court had sentenced in absentia to five years' imprisonment in 1890.1 When the blow fell Harting was at the height of his success. The strong intelligence service he bad organized, with much praise from Petersburg, operated in many European countries, recognized by them and having working liaison with their security services. For his achievements in France and other Western countries he was being considered for a Legion of Honor award when the exposure terminated his career.

Harting was not immediately replaced. Until November 1909 the Paris Okhrana had as acting chiefs his two case officers Captains Dolgov and Andreev successively. In ordering them to take charge headquarters violated its own rule prohibiting staff agents (as well, of course, as non-staff agents) from entering Okhrana premises. The overt staff remained the same, and so did the "external" service of non-Russian detective and surveillance personnel, but several important penetration agents had to be deleted from the "internal" service roster. This was because Burtzev, with his counterintelligence crew including such defectors as Michael Bakai and Leonid Menshchikov, succeeded in exposing them and making them useless as agents, sometimes killing them off if they failed to hide away on time.2


Mending Liaison Fences

When Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Krassilnikov arrived in November of 1909 to become the last chief of the Okhrana abroad, the staff personnel had increased by one assistant, Mikhail Bobrov. The case officers, because of their overt affiliation with the Paris center, could no longer handle the penetration agents and were therefore recalled to Russia. They were replaced by a Lt. Colonel Erhardt, an exceptionally competent staff agent, who remained as the principal case officer until his death from appendicitis in May 1915.

The immediate and very pressing problem for Krassilnikov was to regain something of the prestige necessary for successful operation of the service abroad. The repercussions of Burtzev's relentless campaign against France's harboring a branch of the Russian police were nearly disastrous. The liberal press and parliamentary interpellations vigorously demanded expulsion of all MVD representation, even as the operatives of the Turkish services had been summarily expelled earlier that year. Minister Clemenceau prohibited the Sûreté from engaging in any further liaison with the Okhrana. In time he rescinded the order, but then he was succeeded by Briand, a more determined radical. For months a closing of the entire Russian service in France appeared imminent.

Finally a visit of Tzar Nicholas to France and Okhrana's intelligence to the effect that Russian Anarchists were placing a bomb on the S.S. Vérité in Cherbourg, where His Majesty intended to board, turned the unfavorable tide. The Sûreté had to cooperate. Ambassador Nedilov also interceded, holding conferences with Briand, and eventually obtained an assurance that the French government would do nothing to interfere with the Okhrana. Briand issued instructions to the Sûreté for the renewal of liaison but at the same time asked the Russians "to avoid, as much as possible, all activities that would lead to scandalous consequences and not to undertake any action that could be construed as violating the rights of French citizens."

Even with this official reprieve the Okhrana's prestige in France remained severely shaken. In England also, the Harting scandal led to a complete termination of liaison with Scotland Yard, and it was only after a year of friendly and professional approaches that Krassilnikov was able to regain a close working relationship with Thomas Quinn, head of the Yard. The chiefs of the Prussian Sicherheit and other services in Germany, however, remained fairly constant in exchanging anti-revolutionary intelligence despite the scandal.

Krassilnikov was not as dynamic a leader as Harting, who studied every target, planned every important operation, gave personal guidance to penetration agents, and himself often acted as their case officer. Krassilnikov, strong on systematic organization of the service, was more of a manager, capable of giving good guidance for operations but always aloof from any direct participation in them. The running of operations, in his view, was the job of the agents and their case officers in the Russian internal service and of the investigators and their supervisors in the non-Russian external service.

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Staff Agents

Soon after his arrival the new chief reported to headquarters that he had transferred all deep-cover agents in France except one to Lt. Colonel Erhardt. The important ones were contacted personally without the participation of the outgoing case officer Captain Dolgov; others were informed in writing. Captain Rekk, another staff man assigned to act as case officer, was gradually given a number of the penetration agents. Krassilnikov rented a new safe house for his own meetings with the case officers, and they found safe places for meeting their agents. By the middle of 1911 Erhardt was in charge of thirteen penetration agents, four who lived in Paris and met the case officer in person and nine in other cities and countries who maintained contact mostly through correspondence by cable and registered mail. Captain Rekk had a similar arrangement with three men in Paris and six abroad.

In a 1911 dispatch to headquarters, making the point that headquarters should no longer write to case officers directly but only through him, Krassilnikov spelled out in detail how the reporting process worked. Penetration agents were under as strict and continuous control as circumstances and the work load of the two case officers permitted. The agent submitted rave reports to the case officer, who reviewed and edited them, destroyed the original, and sent the edited report unsigned to the Paris office. Only a code term on the report indicated its origin so that the Paris office would know the agent source and the dispatching case officer. But when a report was sent to headquarters, all references to agents and case officers were dropped. Krassilnikov insisted on this because after the Harting affair all agents were afraid of exposure, and Burtzev had alluded to his well-placed sources at headquarters.

From the beginning of his administration until the termination of the service in March 1917 the shortage of competent case officers was the subject of many memoranda exchanged between Krassilnikov and Petersburg. For a short time Colonel von Kotten of the Gendarme Administration in Moscow assisted as case officer, but he had to be recalled after an agent named Moses Ripps whom he had hired earlier in Moscow, actually an assassin planted by the revolutionaries, attempted to kill both him and Harting and was brought to trial by the French authorities. The public trial, fully exploited by the leftist press, exposed von Kotten to the extent that he could no longer serve abroad in any Okhrana capacity. Then Captain Rekk had to go after he got similar publicity in connection with a tour to London. His handling of agents there created disaffection, and his work in liaison with British security organs at the time of the coronation of King George V was poor. Krassilnikov's recommendation that he be dismissed was accepted.

Two replacements arrived in due course—Captain Litvin in July 1912 and Captain Lustig in August. Both were soon promoted to lieutenant colonel, and Erhardt could then distribute the handling of deep-cover agents geographically. He himself covered most of the agents in France; Litvin those in England, the Low Countries, and Germany; Lustig those in Switzerland and Italy. This division of labor was subject to frequent changes and adjustments, however, as the agents' targets moved around. Captain Likhovskoi was the last case officer assigned, when Erhardt died in 1915. During the war the reports of some agents in Switzerland refer also to a case officer named Keller, on whom the Okhrana files contain no information.

Case officer tasks had to be entrusted quite frequently to the senior assistants in Krassilnikov's office—his deputy and business manager Boris Sushkov and assistants Ivan Melnikov and Mikhail Bobrov. (The other overt employees were Chashnikov and Fedorova, who did reports and code room work, and Kozhanov.) And one of these, deputy Sushkov, was a presumed traitor. The story of how he was found out is sufficiently intriguing to interrupt this exposition.

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A Provocation by Disguise

Burtzev spoke, as mentioned above, of intelligence contacts at Petersburg that led to his exposure of Okhrana agents, but there were subtler allusions to a possible leak right in the Paris office. Krassilnikov was all but sure that Burtzev had a source there, but there was not the slightest ground to suspect anyone in particular. On one occasion a penetration agent in Burtzev's office was present when he had a telephone conversation with someone in the Russian embassy, and at other times he made references to an "embassy source." Krassilnikov, knowing that no one in the embassy proper could have access to Okhrana records, expressed his suspicions to headquarters. But all his own officers and clerks were employees of many years' good standing, known for their loyalty, and devoted to him personally. The unsettling puzzle persisted through several months.

In October and November of 1913, Burtzev's exposures of Okhrana agents became dangerously frequent for the service. Then one day Burtzev announced that he would soon have in his possession the names of all the secret agents of the Russian police in Paris. Krassilnikov went to Petersburg for a conference with the Director centering on two sets of recommendations for putting an end to Burtzev's intelligence activity. After the conference a measure was approved by the MVD Minister which would change the whole structure of the Okhrana in Paris. As one consequence of the reorganization Boris Sushkov's functions as business manager would be absorbed elsewhere. Sushkov, who was then also visiting Petersburg, was instructed not to return to Paris.

For the period of his own absence from Paris, Krassilnikov had ordered increased surveillance of Burtzev. Two teams were engaged to keep the revolutionary intelligence establishment under constant watch, and the penetration agents inside it were instructed to double their observation and reporting. Upon his return to Paris, Krassilnikov studied the reports of these surveillance teams and penetration agents. They contained no lead to Burtzev's particular source, but they all agreed on one significant observation: Burtzev had suddenly become sullen and ill tempered, deliberately refusing any discussion of his big operation to expose all of the Okhrana agents. He also appeared to be less well informed than theretofore about the current activities in the Okhrana office. On the basis of these and other observations Krassilnikov reported his impression that Burtzev was disturbed and frustrated by the sudden loss of an important source of intelligence. But there was still no indication of who that might be.

Eugene Jollivet, who bad started work in Burtzev's office as a double agent for the Okhrana about 1 November, reported among other things that Burtzev had asked him to locate Boris Sushkov's new address. Burtzev said he needed it to include in a list he was publishing of the names and addresses of people connected with the Okhrana. But his evident anxiety in singling out SushkoVs address and not asking for any others struck Jollivet. Krassilnikov was shocked.

When he left Paris Sushkov had not given his landlady a forwarding address because he supposed he was coming back. It did not occur to Burtzev, finding him gone, that he had left Paris; and Jollivet also supposed he was in the city somewhere. Krassilnikov therefore instructed Jollivet to keep on searching for Sushkov, but not to report any finding to Burtzev before clearing it with himself. Jollivet should also try to worm out of Burtzev the reason for the search.

In the days following, Jollivet had several more meetings with Burtzev, who appeared more and more frantic at each. And each time he modified the story as to why he needed the address so urgently. First he said that the address was for a mutual friend. Then he said he was trying to locate Sushkov for a noblewoman who would find it embarrassing to approach him at the embassy. Finally he went so far as to admit that the woman for whom he wanted the address would be his go-between to Sushkov to get information about the Okhrana. It was now clear that he wanted the address for his own personal contact.

With this information on hand, Krassilnikov quickly developed a plan with his case officer Litvin, who was of approximately the same height and build as Sushkov. Litvin rented a furnished house under the name and title "Boris Sushkov, Official of the Russian Embassy." Jollivet rushed the address to Burtzev, who was delighted but cautious: he wanted to make sure this Sushkov was the one he was after. He had begun to suspect that Sushkov might have left Paris when two of his surveillance agents reported that he was no longer observed anywhere around the embassy.

Burtzev telephoned the address, and the concierge confirmed that M. Boris Sushkov, official of the Imperial Embassy, was the tenant there. He then instructed Jollivet to find out whether this Sushkov looked like the man Burtzev knew, wearing pince-nez and a soft velour hat with wide brim, and also what time of day he left and returned home and where he went. Krassilnikov and Litvin had paid proper attention to details, so Jollivet returned to Burtzev with a surveillance report establishing that the man did look like Sushkov, wore a pincenez and soft velour hat with wide brim, and was leaving his quarters daily at 6 P.M. for a walk to a physician's some three blocks away.

Burtzev was convinced. He ordered Jollivet to leave Paris immediately and to stay in his country home until called upon again. It was obvious that he wanted to contact Susbkov without the danger of being observed doing it even by his good agent. On the same day, 25 January 1914, Colonel Litvin left the house at 6 P.M. and turned in the direction of the physician's office. Although he knew Burtzev to be nearsighted, he took no chances; he had added to the Sushkov hat and glasses some shoulder padding to appear more like the man. Soon after he started out he noticed an older gentleman crossing the street in his direction. The stranger pointed with his finger to signal the way they should turn. He came quite close, peered at Litvin sharply, then started, turned suddenly, took another look, and quickly walked away and disappeared. A surveillance agent, on hand for the purpose, followed him home—to Burtzev's house. To make sure, Colonel Litvin had Burtzev pointed out to him at a lecture three days later. It was the same man.

This confirmed fully the suspicion that Sushkov had served as Burtzev's source for identifying Okhrana agents. Other incriminating evidence piled up subsequently, including a written deposition signed by his colleagues Melnikov and Bobrov. They described Susbkov's truculent behavior in the office, the nature of his complaints, and incidents indicative of disloyalty. There is no record in the files of how headquarters disposed of the case, but Krassilnikov's little operation bad some really important results. Burtzev was never again in a position to expose any agents, internal or external, and this is one reason his sources of income dried up and he was left without a service.

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The External Service

Giving his staff officers full authority to handle the penetration agents and make independent decisions with regard to operations, manager Krassilnikov devoted more personal attention to the organization of the external service. When he took over, there were only 22 external agents, some of them controlled by Henri Bint, a veteran of some 30 years of Okhrana service who was in charge of various ever-shifting investigation and surveillance teams. Krassilnikov studied the records of these agents, their loyalty and achievements, and found justification for some dismissals. Others he met to evaluate personally and determine which would make the more likely leaders. He selected as principal agents for area coverage the following: Invernizzi for Italy, Woltz for Germany, Tueppinger for Austria and Switzerland, and Aebersold for England. Among the French agents he found Marcel Bittard-Monin the best prospective leader; he had had ten years experience in the French service and had a fine record with the Okhrana from the time he was hired by Harting in 1908.

This proposed geographic distribution, despite efforts to achieve it in 1910 and 1911, failed for various reasons. The agents, as they were repeatedly regrouped into surveillance crews, almost constantly bickered among themselves. For the most part they were selfish mercenaries. There was much jealousy because of differences in pay and kinds of jobs. They preferred duty on the Riviera. They objected to assignments if they did not like the other members of the team. Italians and Frenchmen were sullen if they had to work with Germans. The French resented Italian supervision. The older ones looked down on the newer recruits. The use of female agents caused an occasional fist fight among the males.

By the end of 1911 the number of non-Russian agents had increased to 50, mostly men. Krassilnikov had Bittard-Monin establish an office in Paris for communication with all team supervisors and individual investigative agents in the countries of Western Europe. By giving Monin the communications code for release to crew supervisors, he set up a network that he believed would suffice until a more geographic grouping could be established.

The only geographic grouping that did become possible was attained in England by 1912. Krassilnikov made a special trip to see Thomas Quinn and asked for the services of one man who could be entrusted with the handling of the Okbrana's external agents in England. Quinn designated Francis Powell, an Irishman whom he called one of his best men at the Yard, and Powell accepted under the condition that working for the Russians would in no way prejudice his status at Scotland Yard. After six months of trial operation, Powell was placed in charge of all Britishers then or afterwards serving the Okhrana. All were former Scotland Yard employees, fully trained, who proved to be true assets to Krassilnikov. There were never any reports of friction among them.

This arrangement of relying entirely on Powell and his personnel with the recommendations and approval of the Scotland Yard chief was Krassilnikov's master stroke. After an initial period marked by rather sharp corrections and even reprimands, all available correspondence attests to good cooperation and efficiency. Particularly when the war broke out and the Okhrana added counterespionage to its tasks, Powell's group became an active center of intelligence liaison with the British. A sample reprimand from the period of adjustment is reproduced below.

Paris, 11 September 1913

Mr. Powell:

I should feel grateful if you stopped creating problems on every occasion.

I must remind you that in this service everything is done upon my orders.

If I am at all times disposed to acknowledge your observations and explanations and to take into account matters that appear justifiable, I cannot tolerate any lectures or acrimony on your part.

Will you from now on accept the observations that I have to make about your agents without presenting me with problems and explanations and with the calm that is required by the dignity of our service.

So much said, now to answer your letter of September.

With regard to your note of 82.80 francs for your mission to Sandringham, you know well that the payment of accounts can never be made on the same day or the day after. Delays occur for many reasons—control, my absence, etc.

As for the incident concerning the transport of baggage of [agents] Aebersold and Kerr from Copenhagen to Klampenborg, the matter first of all is not within your competence. Your agents on a mission to Denmark, or out of England in general, are naturally under the direction of the center, not yours. The center in Paris does not have to issue them orders through you as intermediary. This would mean unnecessary loss of time. That is the reason we wrote to Aebersold directly to let him know that his reports should be addressed directly to Paris.

As for the transfer of their baggage from Copenhagen to Klampenborg for which, according to you, M. Bittard refuses to pay, I must remind you that M. Bittard only executes my orders. He cannot himself refuse or grant anything without referring to me for instructions. Therefore I ask you, Mr. Powell, to act accordingly and not to take it upon yourself to pay agent expenses that I myself find unacceptable.

I do not know under what conditions agents of other nationalities perform their travels. Our agents get 15 francs daily for extra expenses when traveling, and that should be ample to cover the charges for baggage. In extraordinary cases the service is of course obliged to pay for more expensive transport. In this case no such need arose. The agents traveled alone by rail and tram which also carried their luggage. Under such conditions and especially in view of the incident you caused, I persist in my decision not to pay the transport fees in this case. If, contrary to my orders, you want to pay them, that is your personal matter of which the service will honor no account.

I remind you on this occasion that your personal approval for the payment of accounts is not sufficient. I have to approve payments also. Moreover, although the expense accounts of your service in England are verified and preliminarily approved by you, that does not apply to your agents on missions in countries outside of England. Such accounts are examined and approved by the center, which has at its disposal the necessary data for verification.

It is most regrettable that Kerr had to abandon his service in Denmark.

I consider it more useful if you remain in London to direct your service.

I will find an agent to replace Kerr.

Accept, Mr. Powell, my salutations.


The external service controlled by Bittard-Monin's office suffered some serious defections, which eventually resulted in its termination in 1913. The first came in 1910. Maurice Leroi, a friend of BittardMonin and Bint, went over to the revolutionary intelligence. He detailed to Burtzev everything he knew about the Okhrana and then became Burtzev's chief aide supervising the French agents who worked for the revolutionaries. The next defector was a young and unimportant Italian agent, Giuseppe Leone, who however knew much about the members of the network in Italy and their interception of letters to and from the revolutionaries there. Still another one was Parisian agent Feuger, who went to Burtzev to tell his story when he was dismissed in 1913.

By the middle of 1913, as a result of these defections, Krassilnikov could read in almost any Parisian or Italian newspaper the names of most of his external agents and their doings. Lengthy explanations to headquarters were required, and there were proposals from both sides. Krassilnikov recommended the complete dissolution of Bittard-Monin's network, the forming of a cover firm for Paris and France, and separate groups of external agents for Italy, Switzerland, and Germany like Powell's agentura in London.

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Proprietary Setup

Discussions as to how the external service should be reorganized went on for several months. An informal agreement was reached by the end of October 1913, and Bittard-Monin's network was disbanded. All agents were dismissed, and a public announcement was issued to that effect. Although the official headquarters decision on this and other actions did not come until the end of the year, Krassilnikov proceeded with what he was confident would finally be approved. The terminated agents had to sign before a notary public documents attesting to their period of service, their receipt of termination pay, their surrender of all papers, ciphers, photographs, etc. belonging to the service, and their certification that they had no further claims against it.

At the same time, ex-agents Bint and Sambain proceeded with the establishment of a cover firm, a private detective service financed entirely by Krassilnikov. They incorporated their agency in conformity with all legal requirements as to partnership contracts and declarations of purpose. Public announcements gave its address and a statement of capitalization. Somewhat gradually the partners, subject to Krassilnikov's approval, hired back the French agents who had distinguished themselves under Bittard-Monin. The reorganization was thus a convenient means to get rid of non-Russian agents considered incompetent or untrustworthy.

The total number of men and women rehired through the firm was no more than fourteen. When the war came this figure was immediately reduced by the draft, and soon thereafter the partnership ceased to function. More pressing new tasks in counterespionage required Bint's presence in Switzerland and the assignment of his partner to several missions in the Scandinavian countries.

Bittard-Monin, after the break-up of his network and his own "dismissal," continued in the role of the Okhrana's most important non-Russian agent. He set up a cover office and a number of accommodation addresses for the service, becoming Krassilnikov's principal agent for the handling of several individual external agents in France. He also assisted in the control of external agencies abroad, as follows:

Italy: based in Genoa from 1914 to 1917 but occasionally managed from Rome, with Invernizzi handling agents Roselli, Vizzardelh, de Carolis, and Frumento;

England: Powell in charge of a team including Aebersold, Kerr, Thompson, Murphy, Thorpe, and Reed;

Germany: up to July 1914, Neuhaus, Woltz, and Tueppinger.

The war and shortage of personnel prevented the establishment of a network in Switzerland reporting to Bittard-Monin, but the area was covered by correspondents, Russians at first, then mostly replaced by non-Russians. These were never used for surveillance or investigations, just placed close to targets to observe and report directly to Krassilnikov. The list of names ran Boquet, Jalong, Trainer, Beaume, Dennis, Mour, and Raphael.

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Penetration Agents

A by-product of the reorganization was a new type of internal agent. Before, they all had to be Russian. Whatever their cover, they had to penetrate the target groups as fellow revolutionaries. But now a number of the French external agents, upon dismissal by BittardMonin in October of 1913, rushed to Burtzev's revolutionary service, less as a matter of wanting revenge than in search of jobs. Some who had much of interest to tell Burtzev were actually hired, and first among these was Eugene Jollivet—applying at the suggestion, however, of Krassilnikov through Bittard-Monin. Thenceforth, under the code name "Tourist," he served as a penetration agent in the revolutionary intelligence office as long as it lasted. One of his first contributions, we saw above, led to the discovery of Sushkov's treachery. Then ex-agent Mme. LeDavadie, hired by Burtzev, was doubled and controlled by Krassilnikov through Bint.3 The Okhrana exploited several other dismissed agents who turned to Burtzev for employment, but these two, Jollivet and LeDavadie, became the important ones, giving Krassilnikov daily reports on everything that took place in the office of his paramount revolutionary opponent.

Krassilnikov did not make any notable changes in the regular Russian internal service as inherited from his predecessor. Some of the agents were permanently posted and fairly secure within their targets. Mortality was nevertheless heavy, with frequent exposures, dismissals, and wherever the revolutionaries could manage it, liquidations. These losses were generally made up by sending new penetration agents from headquarters. Krassilnikov did succeed in effecting some coordination in the posting of new agents. Provincial branches of the Okhrana were no longer permitted to send their independent agents; all had to be coordinated and approved by headquarters, which in turn kept the Paris office informed.

At the outbreak of the war the total number of internal agents abroad was about sixty, operating mostly in France, Switzerland, Italy, and England, with only a few in Germany and some ten in the United States and Canada. The case officer for North America, then and through the war, was Colonel Litvin, who also handled the agents in England. There is no sign in the records of Litvin's having an assistant for the handling of his great mass of correspondence. The original reports in his own handwriting submitted to Krassilnikov's office and attributed by code to some dozen agents daily are evidence of an amount of work that only a fast, capable, and tireless case; officer could accomplish. Case officer Lustig likewise appears to have been a mass producer of reports from agents in other countries of Europe.

The drafting of agents for military service was a serious blow to the Okhrana, at home and abroad. Krassilnikov constantly pleaded for exemptions and frequently got them. The remaining cases of draft, however, along with volunteers, decimated his personnel. No new agent recruits were forthcoming despite appeals. Headquarters was probably impressed by the fact that several revolutionary groups in 1914 ceased their anti-government activities and joined patriotic causes, a number even enlisting in the French army. Only a few of the top leaders of the Socialist Revolutionaries remained unswerving in their campaign for the overthrow of Tzarism. In headquarters' view this change of climate reduced the tasks of the Okhrana abroad. It was well known that the Social Democrats (Lenin's Bolsheviks) augmented the peace campaign of the defeatists as the war progressed, but the Okhrana obviously did not consider them as dangerous as the Socialist Revolutionaries.

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On Military Duty

As its counterintelligence work against the revolutionaries thus decreased, the Okhrana in Paris was loaded to capacity with counterespionage and regular intelligence tasks against the enemy. Krassilnikov now used the bulk of his depleted group of external agents for gathering background information for counterespionage. He also sent some of the non-Russian agents into Germany to gather military and political intelligence on the enemy, on the activities of certain Russians who remained in Germany, and on the Russian POWs. He continued to use the diminished force of internal agents against the revolutionaries, but with emphasis on their exploitation by the Germans for intelligence and propaganda against Russia. Lenin, Trotsky, Litvinov, Lunacharsky, and other Bolsheviks became the principal targets, with emphasis no longer on their propaganda for an uprising within Russia (the flow of this propaganda from abroad had virtually stopped because of the war) but on international plotting around the Zimmerwald conference and its sequels and on the defeatist campaign aimed principally against Russia.

Krassilnikov organized extensive intelligence coverage of the Northern Route. From Powell's full coordination with the British on cargo and passenger movements in the port of Newcastle he gathered the intelligence required for operations in Christiania and Stockholm. Agents were constantly en route through the Scandinavian countries, following revolutionaries and their couriers and seeking to detect the activities of the widespread German intelligence networks which were organizing the Finns and other Baltic peoples for operations against Russia.

The loss of personnel and the new military requirements made it imperative to become more flexible. If an external agent could serve in deep-cover assignments, he was so used in spite of established practice to the contrary. Internal agents, on the other hand, could be employed for investigations and local liaison where expedient. Military intelligence, once prohibited to Okhrana organs, became the order of the day. Counterespionage against foreign nationals in France, Italy, and England was welcomed by the Allies, with whom the Okhrana was in indirect liaison. It passed its reports daily to the Russian military mission for transmittal to the Allied Section de Centralisation des Renseignements.

In neutral Switzerland external agents Bint and Woltz, both now in deep-cover capacity, clandestinely engaged the services of a score of local security organs. When the general secretary of the Federation of Russian Seamen's Unions, a Communist front, was reported to have organized on behalf of Germany a network of reporters from the Baltic, Black Sea, and Mediterranean fleets, Krassilnikov engaged both internal and external agents in an operation to destroy that service. When requests were received for intelligence reports on Germany he provided external agent Bint with funds to recruit Swiss agents for journeys into Austria and Germany to collect military, economic, and sociological information, as well as some specific counterespionage data. When an opportunity presented itself to convert a strictly anti-revolutionary agent into a double and countersabotage agent employed by German services, Krassilnikov found ways to engage far-flung operational support that fooled his opponents throughout the war.4

Krassilnikov's organizational capabilities were most noticeable in wartime. When all government agencies in Paris were evacuating for Bordeaux, he left in Paris only a small unit under the control of Colonel Lustig and entrusted the management of Okhrana affairs in England and the Scandinavian countries to Colonel Litvin. The close liaison with all Allied services which he established at all points made Paris Okhrana appear to be almost a subsidiary of Allied counterintelligence. The Paris office channeled its daily reports on enemy services, agents, and suspects to the Allies; and in turn it received from the liaison much information for transmittal to headquarters.

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1 See the author's "The Illustrious Career of Arkadiy Harting" in Studies XI 1, p. 71 ff.

2 For the work of Burtzev's bureau see the author's "The Sherlock Holmes of the Revolution" in Studies XI 4, p. 83 ff.

3 For her story in full see the author's "The Okhrana's Female Agents, Part II" in Studies II 3, pp. 66-72.

4 See the author's "Okhrana Agent Dolin" in Studies X 2, p. 57 ff.

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No Foreign Dissem

Historical Document
Posted: May 08, 2007 08:18 AM
Last Updated: Aug 04, 2011 02:03 PM