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Encyclopedia > Igor Gouzenko
Gouzenko wearing his white hood for anonymity

Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko (January 13, 1919, Rogachev, Soviet UnionJune 28, 1982, Mississauga, Canada) was a cipher clerk for the Soviet Embassy to Canada in Ottawa, Ontario. He defected on September 5, 1945 with 109 documents on Soviet espionage activities in the West. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar). ... RahačoÅ­ (Belarusian: ; Russian: ) is a town in the Homiel Province of Belarus. ... June 28 is the 179th day of the year (180th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday (link displays the 1982 Gregorian calendar). ... Motto: Pride in our past, Faith in our future Area: 288. ... This article is about algorithms for encryption and decryption. ... The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada is the Russian embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, It is located at 285 Charlotte, at the eastern terminus of Laurier Avenue. ... Motto: Advance Ottawa/Ottawa en avant Location of the City of Ottawa in the Province of Ontario Coordinates: Country Canada Province Ontario Established 1850 as Town of Bytown Incorporated 1855 as City of Ottawa Amalgamated January 1, 2001 Government  - Mayor Larry OBrien  - City Council Ottawa City Council  - Representatives 8... Motto: Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet (Latin: Loyal she began, loyal she remains) Capital Toronto Largest city Toronto Official languages English Government - Lieutenant-Governor James K. Bartleman - Premier Dalton McGuinty (Liberal) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament - House seats 106 - Senate seats 24 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area [1] Ranked... A defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. ... September 5 is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1945and died 2007 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Spy and Secret agent redirect here. ...

Gouzenko's defection exposed Joseph Stalin's efforts to steal nuclear secrets, and the then-unknown technique of planting sleeper agents. With World War II over, the "Gouzenko Affair" helped change western perceptions of the Soviet Union from an ally to an enemy, and is often credited as a triggering event of the Cold War. [1] “Stalin” redirects here. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ...



Gouzenko was born in Belarus. At the start of World War II, he joined the military where he trained as a cipher clerk. In 1943, he was stationed in Ottawa, where for two years he encoded outgoing messages and deciphered incoming messages for the GRU. His position gave him knowledge of Soviet espionage activities in the West. For other uses, see GRU (disambiguation). ...


Gouzenko's Somerset Street apartment in 2007.
Gouzenko's Somerset Street apartment in 2007.

In 1945, hearing that he and his family were to be sent home to the Soviet Union and dissatisfied with the quality of life and the politics of his homeland, he decided to defect. Gouzenko walked out of the Embassy door carrying with him a briefcase with Soviet code books and deciphering materials. He initially went to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but the RCMP officers on duty refused to believe his story. He then went to the Ottawa Journal newspaper, but the paper's night editor was not interested, and suggested he go to the justice ministry, where nobody was on duty. Terrified that the Soviets had discovered his duplicity, he went back to his apartment and hid his family in the apartment across the hall for the night. Gouzenko, hidden by a neighbour, watched through the keyhole as a group of Soviet agents broke into his apartment and began searching through his belongings and only left when confronted by Ottawa police. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 463 pixels Full resolution (2667 × 1545 pixel, file size: 1. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 463 pixels Full resolution (2667 × 1545 pixel, file size: 1. ... RCMP redirects here. ... The Ottawa Journal was a daily newspaper published in Ottawa, Ontario from 1885 to 1980. ...

The next day Gouzenko wasn't able to find contacts in the RCMP who were willing to examine the evidence he had removed from the Soviet embassy. Gouzenko was transported by the RCMP to the secret "Camp X", now abandoned, but located in present-day Oshawa and comfortably distant from Ottawa. Camp X had been used during World War II as a training station for Allied undercover personnel. While there, Gouzenko was interviewed by investigators from Britain's MI5 (because Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, Britain's internal Security Service was employed, not MI6, which would have been the case for a defector outside the British Empire), and also by investigators from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (the Central Intelligence Agency was in the process of being formed and was not yet operational). Camp X was the unofficial name of a World War II paramilitary and commando training installation, on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. ... Oshawa (estimated 2004 population 150 000; metropolitan population 296 298) is a city on Lake Ontario located approximately 60 km east of downtown Toronto in Ontario, Canada. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the United Kingdoms external intelligence agency. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the primary investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), serving as both a federal criminal investigative body and a domestic intelligence agency. ... The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an intelligence agency of the United States government. ...

Even once the RCMP expressed interest in Gouzenko, it has been alleged that the Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King initially wanted nothing to do with him. Even with Gouzenko in hiding and under RCMP protection, King reportedly pushed for a diplomatic solution to avoid upsetting the Soviet Union, still a wartime ally and ostensible friend. Documents reveal that King, then 70 and weary from six years of war leadership, was aghast when Norman Robertson, his undersecretary for external affairs, and his assistant, Hume Wrong, informed him on the morning of September 6, 1945 that a "terrible thing" had happened. Gouzenko and his wife Anna, they told him, had appeared at the office of Justice Minister Louis St. Laurent with documents unmasking Soviet perfidy on Canadian soil. "It was like a bomb on top of everything else", King wrote. A prime minister is the most senior minister of a cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. ... Not to be confused with William Lyon Mackenzie, Mackenzie Kings grandfather. ... Norman Robertson and McKenzie King, 1944 Ambassador Norman Alexander Robertson, CC (March 4, 1904 - July 16, 1968) was a Canadian diplomat and was one of Prime Minister Mackenzie Kings advisers. ... September 6 is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years). ... Year 1945and died 2007 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Louis Stephen St. ...

Robertson told the Prime Minister that Gouzenko was threatening suicide, but King was adamant that his government not get involved, even if Gouzenko was apprehended by Soviet authorities. Fortunately for Gouzenko, Robertson ignored the Prime Minister's wishes, and authorized granting asylum to Gouzenko and his family, on the basis that their lives were in danger.

Ramifications of the defection

The evidence provided by Gouzenko led to the arrest in Canada of a total of 39 suspects, of which 18 were eventually convicted, including Fred Rose, the only Communist Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons and Sam Carr, the Communist Party's national organizer. A Royal Commission of Inquiry, headed by Justice Robert Taschereau and Justice Roy Kellock was conducted into the Gouzenko Affair and his evidence of a Soviet spy ring in Canada. It also alerted other countries around the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, that Soviet agents had almost certainly infiltrated their nations as well. Categories: 1907 births | 1983 deaths | Canadian historical figures | Members of the Canadian House of Commons | Canadian communist politicians | Soviet spies | People from Quebec | People stubs ... The Communist Party of Canada is a communist political party in Canada. ... A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a parliament. ... The House of Commons (French: Chambre des communes) is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign (represented by the Governor General) and the Senate. ... Sam Carr was the national organizer for the Communist Party of Canada and, its successor, the Labour-Progressive Party in the 1930s and 1940s. ... In states that are Commonwealth Realms a Royal Commission is a major government public inquiry into an issue. ... The Right Honourable Robert Taschereau, PC , CC (Quebec, 1896 – 1970) was a lawyer who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and who briefly served as acting Governor General of Canada following the death of Georges Vanier in 1967. ... The Honourable Mr. ...

Gouzenko provided many vital leads which assisted greatly with ongoing espionage investigations in Britain and North America. His testimony is believed to have been vital in the successful prosecution of Klaus Fuchs, the German communist physicist, who emigrated to Britain and who later stole atomic secrets for the Soviets. Fuchs spent some time at Chalk River Laboratories, northwest of Ottawa, where atomic research has been underway since the early 1940s. His information also likely helped in the Rosenberg investigation in the U.S. Gouzenko, being a cipher clerk by profession, likely also assisted with the Venona investigation, which probed Soviet codes and which eventually led to the discovery of vital Soviet spies such as Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross (the so-called Cambridge Five), as well as Alan Nunn May. Klaus Fuchs ID badge at Los Alamos. ... It has been suggested that Chalk river unidentified deposits be merged into this article or section. ... Julius Rosenberg (May 12, 1918 – June 19, 1953) and Ethel Greenglass Rosenberg (September 28, 1915 – June 19, 1953) were American Communists who received international attention when they were executed for passing nuclear weapons secrets to the Soviet Union. ... The Venona project was a long-running and highly secret collaboration between intelligence agencies of the United States and United Kingdom that involved the cryptanalysis of messages sent by several intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union. ... Sir Donald Maclean (January 9, 1864 – June 15, 1932), was a Liberal politician in the United Kingdom. ... Guy Francis De Moncy Burgess (16 April 1911 – 30 August 1963) was a British-born intelligence officer and double agent who worked for the Soviet Union and was part of the Cambridge Five spy ring that betrayed allied secrets to the Soviets before and during the Cold War. ... Harold Adrian Russell Kim Philby or H.A.R. Philby (OBE: 1946-1965), (1 January 1912 – 11 May 1988) was a high-ranking member of British intelligence, a communist, and spy for the Soviet Unions NKVD and KGB. In 1963, Philby was revealed as a member of the spy... Anthony Frederick Blunt (26 September 1907 – 26 March 1983) was an English art historian and the Fourth Man of the Cambridge Five, a group of spies working for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. ... John Cairncross (July 25, 1913 – October 8, 1995) was a British intelligence officer during World War II who, along with four other men (Kim Philby, Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt) passed secrets to the Soviet Union during the war. ... The Cambridge Five (also sometimes known as the Cambridge Four) was a ring of British spies who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and into the early 1950s. ... Alan Nunn May (May 2, 1911 — January 12, 2003) was a British atomic scientist and a spy who supplied secrets of British and American atomic bomb research to the Soviets during the Manhattan project. ...

Life in Canada

Gouzenko and his family were given another identity by the Canadian government out of fear of Soviet reprisals. Little is known about his life afterwards, but it is understood that he settled down to a middle class existence somewhere in Canada. Gouzenko managed to keep in the public eye, however, writing two books, This Was My Choice, a non-fiction account of his defection, and a novel The Fall of a Titan, which won a Governor General's Award in 1954. Gouzenko also appeared occasionally on television, always with a hood covering his head. The 1954 Governor Generals Awards for Literary Merit were the eighteenth such awards. ...

Gouzenko died of a heart attack in 1982 and his grave was not initially marked. His wife Svetlana, who died in September 2001, was buried next to him and it was only in 2002 that the family put up a headstone.

In June 2003, the City of Ottawa[2] and in April 2004, the Canadian federal government[3] put up memorial plaques in Dundonald Park commemorating the Soviet defector. It was from this park that RCMP agents monitored Gouzenko's apartment across the street the night men from the Soviet embassy came looking for Gouzenko. The memorial plaques are the result of four years of effort by history enthusiast Andrew Kavchak, who first came across Gouzenko's case while at the university, and decided that "the first major international event of the Cold War" deserved a memorial. Dundonald Park is in Centretown Ottawa, Ontario. ... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ...


  • "The Defection of Igor Gouzenko: Report of the Canadian Royal Commission" (Intelligence Series, Vol. 3, No. 6), Aegean Park, 1996. ISBN 0894120964
  • Amy Knight, "How the Cold War Began: The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies", Carroll & Graf, 2006. ISBN 0786718161
  • J. L. Black & Martin Rudner, eds., "The Gouzenko Affair", Penumbra Press, 2006. ISBN 1894131916
  • Sawatsky, John, "Gouzenko: the untold story", Gage Publishing Ltd., 1984. ISBN 0-775-9812-2
  • Granatstein, J.L., & Stafford, David, "Spy Wars", Key Porter Books Ltd., 1990. ISBN 1-55013-258-X

Carroll & Graf Publishers is an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group specializing in history, biography, and fiction. ...


  • The story of the Gouzenko Affair was made into a film by director William Wellman, starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney as Igor and Anna Gouzenko. The film was shot in the actual Canadian locales and used original documents of the Embassy.

William A. Wellman (February 29, 1896 - December 9, 1975) was a movie director. ... Dana Andrews (January 1, 1909 - December 17, 1992) was an American film actor. ... Gene Tierney (November 19, 1920 – November 6, 1991) was an American actress. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Igor Gouzenko - Camp X Historical Society (1956 words)
Gouzenko asked Cpl. Main if he and his wife Mildred would take their small son into their house as he believed that Russians from the Soviet Embassy were going to try and kill them.
Gouzenko handed over his documents to the RCMP and he, his wife and son were placed in protective custody.
Gouzenko would continue to be debriefed by members of the RCMP, FBI and BSC for the duration of his stay at the old farm house.
Igor Gouzenko - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (553 words)
Igor Sergeyevich Gouzenko (January 13, 1919, Rogachev, Soviet Union – June 1982, Mississauga) was a cipher clerk for the Soviet Embassy to Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.
Gouzenko's evidence led to the exposure and arrest of several spies outside of Canada including Alan Nunn May and Klaus Fuchs and contributed to the exposure of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
Gouzenko died of a heart attack in 1982 and his grave was initially unmarked.
  More results at FactBites »



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