Tuesday, November 13, 2007

George Koval

George Koval may not be a household name. In fact the CIA and FBI kept it buried for many years due to their embarasment . An article in yesterday's New York Times as the obituary of this Russian who spent his early years in the U.S., spoke American English without accent was able to as a non com with a false identity get assigned to the Manhattan Project working on the original atomic bomb during WWII. Later he was employed as a nuclear physicist at Los Alamos all the while transmitting secret information back to his Soviet handlers.

The thing that got me was Koval was identified as a "secular Jew". His parents had come to the U.S. when Koval was an infant as a fund raiser for the enclave at Birobidzan.

Birobidzan was to be a Jewish area in the Soviet. Jews from various parts of Russia would resettle their and persue their lives as an ethnic minority free from the pograms and prejudices of the greater Russian society. Many Jews from the U.S. emigrated to help "Uncle Joe" Stalin establish the working man's paradise.

Also funds were solicited in every Jewish community. This caused a bit of a problem for me.
Rummaging through some of my grandfather M's things I found a receipt for a membership contribution to Friends of Biorodizan. Intrigued, I did some research and discovered that this was one of many scams the new Soviet government used during the 1920's to harvest hard currencies for the regime.

When I received my army commision in 1951, there was a long list of organizations that I was to certify that not only I had not belonged but that I didn't know of anyone who had belonged. Of course Friends was one of them.

It took about two seconds for me to decide I was not going to betray my poor old deceased grandfather.

The other memory this article invoked was a conversation with my normally very laid back father.

This was a time after the execution of the Rosenbergs when protests were made asking for their exoneration. I mentioned this and also recalled that in my San Francisco days a Rabbi friend was chaplain to Alcatraz. He reported an encounter with inmate Sobel, part of the Rosenberg- Fuchs gang that passed nuclear secrets on to the Soviets.

Sobel maintained that they were doing the world a service creating a counterbalance to America's monoply on nuclear power and the punishments meted out by the courts deprived humanity the use of their brilliant minds.

Without a moments thought my dad who spent his first sixteen years in Russia countered, "For any Jew who would spy for Russia execution was too easy a punishment."'


Post a Comment

<< Home