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A Stone for Willy Fisher

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biography,
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Fisher/Abel
particular, his unusual manual dexterity; he could do. anything with his hands. While at the KGB training school, Fisher became friendly with another student, an open and forthright young man named Rudolf Ivanovich Abel. They would remain close friends and colleagues for life.
Upon completion of training, Fisher was assigned to KGB headquarters in Moscow for work in the Illegals Administration. In Moscow, he met an attractive young music conservatory student, Yelena Stepanovna Lebedeva, and they were married during the next year. Not long after the wedding, he received orders for his first foreign assignment as an "illegal." Willy Fisher was assigned to work in Great Britain and was supervised by Alexander Orlov, who operated from the rezidentura in Paris. (Although Fisher entered Britain under his own name with his British passport and his presence there was technically "legal," the KGB considered him to be an illegal.) He worked in Britain until 1931, then returned to the Soviet Union. Willy and Yelena's only child, a daughter named Evalina, was born the following year. Shortly after Evalina's birth, Willy was alerted for his next assignment: Copenhagen. When he arrived in Denmark, Fisher learned that all intelligence networks in Nazi Germany that had survived the Gestapo had been removed. Only individual agents, able to continue to work alone, were left in place.2
Fisher's superiors told him that the nets had been relocated to nearby countries such as Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, but that he was not to become involved in German operations. In the event of war, Moscow expected that most of the small countries of Europe would fall under Nazi occupation. Willy Fisher's mission was to organize stay-behind networks; to train Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes as radio operators for the nets that would be activated when a German occupation took place. For the next several years, he was kept busy traveling throughout Scandanavia in this work.
In 1937, Fisher was ordered to return to Moscow immediately. The Soviet Union was in the middle of the "Great Purge." Fisher had reasons to be nervous. His status as the son of an "Old Bolskevik" no longer offered him any protection; many "Old Bolsheviks" had already dissappeared. His foreign birth and former assignment to work under Alexander Orlov (who had recently defected) were additional black marks against him. Soon after his return, he was called into the head office and dismissed from the service without explanation. Yelena was furious and wanted to initiate an intensive campaign for reinstatement. Willy was more sanguine; he calmed Yelena down and explained that such an effort was bound to have negative effects. He told an old friend in conversation, "The organs of state security may leave you, but you do not leave the organs." He and Yelena agonized because dismissal was usually followed by arrest. Fisher, however, was allowed to remain at liberty and he obtained employment as a radio engineer.
After Hitler's invasion of Russia in June 1941, Fisher expected recall into active military service. Instead he found himself recalled to the KGB and assigned to the Fourth Administration to conduct partisan warfare against the
2 Stalin ordered removal of the nets in Germany because he feared Hitler would use evidence of their existence as an excuse for an attack on the Soviet Union.

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