A Stone for Willy Fisher


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Willy was moved into a student dormitory. Together with some other students, he acquired an enthusiasm for the new marvel of radio communications. This enthusiasm led him to become a radio amateur and his new hobby would alter the course of his life. In a 1966 magazine article, he recalled:
In our free time many of us diverted ourselves as radio amateurs. That was the time of detector receivers, spark transmitters-we only heard of radiotelephony as something that was in its infancy. It would be hard for today's youth to conceive of the inventiveness of amateurs of that time. We obtained the wire for coils by removing it from old apartment doorbells that did not work. We found the crystals used for detectors in rocks or in geological collections. The condensers for tuning were of all sizes and shapes. I remember how I managed in 1923 to obtain an R-5 lamp that took an incredible amount of energy to heat up. I remember how we had to improvise to make the wet cells feed this lamp, which shone while in use no worse than any good burner.
In 1922, Willy Fisher was accepted for membership in Komsomol, the Communist Party youth organization. At the same time, he decided to become a radio engineer. When he had completed his technical schooling and passed the qualifying examination he was able to obtain employment in a radio components factory. He also enrolled in an evening study course concentrating on science, physics, and mathematics.
In 1924 he was called up for military service and was assigned to a Soviet Army independent radiotelegraph battalion. He was demobilized during the winter of 1926 and had to decide what his future employment would be. According to his recollection, "I had two offers-a scientific research institute and the OGPU's Foreign Department. I was attracted by radio technology as well as by the romance of espionage. Comrades argued that my knowledge of foreign languages must be used in the service of the motherland. Finally the decision was made, and I became a Chekist on May 2, 1927." 1
The reasons why the organs of state security would have an interest in young Willy Fisher are clear:
- His background indicated political reliability;
- He was native-fluent in English; adequate in French and German;
- He was a radio communications expert;
- He had a genuine British passport.
William August Fisher, like all other new recruits, went through an intensive training course. His instructors gave him high evaluations and noted, in
1 There is reason to believe that Willy's decision was more difficult for him than it was later made to appear. He was under pressure by recruiters from the OGPU, his friends and, most importantly, his father, to accept the offer from state security. Major General V. Drozdov of the KGB observed, "It must be said that Abel himself reacted to this without any enthusiasm, as he was interested above all in radio technology and dreamed of a scientific career. But, like a disciplined Komsomol member, he did not refuse the new appointment."

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: Aug 03, 2011 03:00 PM