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IGOR GOUZENKO - Page Text Content


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1: On Sept. 5, 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, a Russian cipher clerk named Igor Gouzenko fled the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa with 109 documents proving the existence of a Soviet spy ring in Canada. His revelations reverberated throughout the world and helped to ignite the Cold War...

2: BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE: | Birth Date: 13 Jan 1919 Igor Gouzenko influenced the Cold War Era

3: Gouzenko was born to a Ukrainian family in the village of Rogachovo, Moscow.

4: Background Information

5: Before the Defection...

6: Igor Gouzenko was part of a group at the Soviet Embassy that worked for military intelligence, the GRU. He served as an intelligence officer on the front lines during World War II battles against the German Army in 1941.

7: After returning from the Russian front, he received training in coding and cipher work.

9: Espionage Operations

10: In 1943, as the Soviets began in earnest to launch an atomic bomb project, they sought to find out more about western efforts to build a bomb.

11: The GRU was well aware that Canada was taking part in research on the atomic bomb, so in June 1943, the Russians sent Igor Gouzenko, and 14 other officers to Ottawa.

12: At the Embassy in Ottawa, the team, apart from Gouzenko, was ordered to infiltrate the Canadian National Research Council and the research branch of the Department of National Defense and collect confidential information on the nuclear research in Canada.

13: Meanwhile, Gouzenko worked in the coding room, the inner sanctum of the Embassy, where he enciphered outgoing messages and deciphered incoming messages for the GRU.

14: It was his job position that gave him knowledge of Soviet espionage activities in the Canadian government.

15: In Ottawa Gouzenko lived with his wife, Svetlana and baby son in a small apartment.

16: Defection

17: defection difekSHn/ noun To disown allegiance to one's country and take up residence in another

19: Gouzenko had collected information on a number of Canadian officials after a while of working as a cipher clerk. He realized Joseph Stalin’s plot to steal nuclear plans.

20: Gouzenko had tasted the freedom from the shackles of the repressive Stalinist government in the West, and being disgruntled about the Soviet intelligence operations against Canada, their former ally...

21: Gouzenko decided to defect and seek refuge for him, his wife and child.

24: On the evening of September 5, 1945 he left the embassy, carrying 109 secret documents on Soviet espionage activities in the West.

26: What Challenges Did He Face?

28: Igor Gouzenko approached the media and tried to contact the Minister of Justice but was initially turned down by all of them.

29: Fearing for his life or at least apprehension by a Soviet team, Gouzenko hid with wife and child the next night at a neighbor's, (he worked for the RCMP) who notified the police when a team actually broke into Gouzenko's house.

30: There was an immediate effort to discredit Gouzenko, by accusing him of being an ugly, illiterate alcoholic who was just trying to get money from the Canadian government in return for intelligence of little value. Both Igor and his wife, Svetlana, spent years fighting this insulting battle.

32: Gouzenko was given a new identity, moved to Camp X in Ontario, which had been a base for espionage activities during World War II and for the rest of his life, he and his family had police protection.

33: Gouzenko even destroyed all pictures of himself on file at the embassy before defecting, which is why there are very few photographs under his name. He lived the rest of his life in ambiguous obscurity and in fear of revenge by Stalin's men.

34: Igor Gouzenko was introduced to the public during a radio interview with American Drew Pearson.

35: He produced a memoir, This Was My Choice (1948), and a novel, The Fall of a Titan.

36: From time to time, Gouzenko emerged from the shadows. In these public 'appearances' he would always wear a pillowcase or a hood over his head which for most Canadians became his trademark.

37: Even his death, apparently from natural causes, was surrounded in secrecy.

38: How did the outcome of his defection contribute to Canada's nationality?

39: Igor Gouzenko's defection was one of those events that really, truly change the course of history. The Gouzenko Affair foreshadowed the beginning of the "Cold War."

40: If Gouzenko didn't defect, Canada wouldn't have had a clue that their supposed ally was in fact, traitorous. His defection made Canada become tight on certain measures including national security and making alliances. | Gouzenko's testimony and documents confirmed that as early as 1942, the Soviet government had regarded the Western allies as potential enemies. Also, it revealed that there was a spy ring operating in Canada, aimed at, among other things, the secrets of the atomic bomb.

42: Gouzenko's documents also contained a considerable amount of information regarding Soviet espionage in the United States.

43: The fact that Canada was able to help USA meant that USA was indebted to Canada. | In the long term, this affair resulted in the restructuring of the national security system.


45: His revelations marked the beginning of the Cold War and an awakening of anti-Communist sentiment. Indeed, he made Canada, as well as other nations, recognize the changing relationship with the USSR and the chilling of the world's political climate... | Without Igor Gouzenko, Canada as well as the United States would still have no idea that the Russians had direct access to their systems and would have been deceived into thinking that they were allies.

46: In conclusion, Igor Gouzenko is the greatest Canadian that ever lived because even though he knew the many risks he was putting on his family as well as on himself, he still made the decision to defect and help Canada realize the plans of the USSR. Without Gouzenko, Canada would not be as strong a nation in terms of security.

47: Gouzenko really warmed relationships between Canada and the United States since he brought down a number of spies and their compatriots.


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  • By: Yvonne Nnadi
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