To support Soviet soldiers in Stalingrad Battle, KGB workers of the city of Gorky asked Germans for clothes and shoes and built aircraft of wood
February 2, Russia celebrated 60th anniversary of Stalingrad Battle. The decisive factor of Soviet Army’s victory in the greatest battle of 20th century was literally impossible virtue of Soviet soldiers. In the meanwhile, there was one more important factor – intellectual superiority. KGB workers (Russian: Chekists from abbreviation ChK – Extraordinary Commission, previous title of KGB) made special contribution to this victory. Here is the story of KGB workers of the city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) and a Soviet prisoner of war, real patriot, who succeeded in confusing supreme commandment of Hitler army and helped to win a victory.
Fascist Agents in the city of Arzamas
At night on 15th to 16th September, 1942, in Arzamas Region, a group of fascist agents was thrown with parachutes. All of them, except one (who was later found and executed) gave themselves up to Arzamas Region Office of State Security. All of them appeared to be Soviet soldiers who were taken prisoner in Germany and got to Warsaw spy school. Their task was to report to fascists through portable radio transmitter the data about Soviet defence factories, dislocation of military and civil aircraft, about work of railway and water transport, and about spirits of the population. State security bodies received much useful information from the detained. Though, the main story started later, when the “spies” received a task from the Centre…
Gorky KGB and Third Reich: Intellectual Play
In several days, Chekists talked to one of the “spies.” Semen Karabanov said that he agreed to cooperation with Germans, hoping that German intelligence would send him to Soviet rear and he would give himself up to be any way useful in fight with the enemy. In the spy school, Semen made his best to please the administration. At the same time, he inclined several agents to give themselves up when they get to Soviet rear. The information was confirmed by four colleagues of Semen.
“In 6 days after his landing, Karabanov connected through portable radio transmitter with Warsaw spy centre and told to Germans, what Soviet KGB workers asked him,” remembered later KGB colonel Konstantin Gryznov, who died several years ago. Karabanov’s radiograms coordinated with the Centre had to misinfom Germans.
“Of course, we understood that Germans would check up Semen and his information,” – colonel Gryznov told. – “Warsaw spy school was very interested in Gorky airdromes. And Karabanov reported them, that there was a civil airdrome 10 km southward from the city. In fact, that was a small and unimportant airdrome in Scherbinki settlement.” Karabanov also reported about a military airdrome with fighters north-east from the city of Gorky. Though, before, within only a couple of days, this wooden airdrome was built…
In several days, fascist aircraft twice flew over the “airdrome,” while in two weeks, Semen Karabanov was thanked by spy school commandment through portable radio transmitter. A year later, while attacking the city of Gorky, Germans threw several dozens of bombs on the “airdrome.”
Special Task of the Centre
The operation Radio Play became more and more large-scale. Reporting of the next “secret” was the task of the Soviet Army General Staff. In October, November, and December of 1942, Semen Karabanov reported Germans about a large-scale transference of echelons with tanks, cannons and other kind of arms to Moscow direction. While in fact the equipment was transported to Stalingrad. Hitler Commandment believed in Soviet Army preparing for an attack in the West Front. The same piece of information was later reported by another agent, who also worked for Soviet Army.
In January, Krabanov was reported to have been awarded by German government with Iron Cross. It was a very honorable award. Germans seemed to be glad with their success. While Stalingrad Battle became the greatest event of World War II. Since that time, it was obvious that Germany was losing the war.
New Play: “Dull Telephone”
The operation Radio Play was too successful to finish it. Moscow worked out one more plan: to make Germans to sent an assistant to Karabanov, to capture him and to know more about Germans’ plans. Germans trusted Semen.
Since February 1943, Karabanov started to report to Warsaw spy school that he needed money, new clothes and shoes, otherwise he would have to seek a job to keep on working with portable radio transmitter. The school was silent too long. Then a radiogram arrived, advising to hold out anyway, though to avoid applying for work. Nothing about an assistant. Semen started to insist. No reaction. Then the decision was found, and a very easy one. Since March 1943, the connection between Karabanov and German intelligence centre started to get out of order, for KGB specialists worked a bit with the portable radio transmitter accumulators. Semen could still hear Germans very well and reported them that he could not hear them. Finally, the intelligence centre reported him about an aircraft being prepared to transport a messenger with money and feeding for portable radio transmitter. By this time, Karabanov’s transmitter stopped working at all.
The messenger had to check up Karabanov, before coming to him. The house of Semen was equipped in a special way, therefore, when drawer was opened in Karabanov’s house, two Chekists in the next house could hear a bell. This was the sign that the visitor was in the house. At the same time, the police was searching for the messenger. Several months passed. The messenger did not come. In the meanwhile, Germany started to suffer defeats.
Unindentified Flying Fellow
At night to June 27, 1943, over territory of the region, a German Heinkel aircraft was noticed. In one and a half hour, a parachute jumper was thrown from the aircraft. Though, he was not captured. In the meanwhile, Karabanov was applying for work, keeping all the KGB instructions.
In two weeks, the hostess of the flat Semen was renting called to KGB and reported about some Kuzma who had come and brought a package from relatives. This was a signal, that some unknown person had come to Semen when he was not at home. The unknown man met with a military in the street, and they went away together. It looked like Germans sent two agents, though it was too strange. Chekists could not inform Karabanov, for he was in a farm, where he worked, while the messenger could have already reached the farm. So, Chekists could have hope only for Semen. However, the scene of the meeting was rehearsed several times.
Two German Agents Met in Volga Quay
Girls who worked together with Semen in the farm said to the unknown man Semen usually mushroomed during the pause. Initially, Agent Dergun really wanted to check up Semen, though when he say him, he had already no doubts as to his colleague and immediately reported about the aim of the visit, 90 thousands Soviet rubles, and four anode batteries he had in a suitcase buried in the forest. He also told to Semen that he was not alone.
Semen did not show he was nervous. He bought a bottle of vodka and some food and proposed to drink together. Soon, the three of them came to Semen’s flat, where they were met by a special group of KGB.
The secret of the third agent was shockingly simple, which probably well illustrates how complicated the war situation was. Agent Rodin who was sent to Yaroslavl Region had failed his operation and wanted to escape both from Soviet and German intelligence. While Dergun simply met him in quay of Volga River, in the city of Gorky. Ironically, here, his fate found him.
The Play Finished: Awards and Executions
The beginning of the captivity was similar for the tree of them, while the end was different. Dergun and Rodin were sentenced to death, while Semen Karabanov was awarded with Great Patriotic War Order of First Degree and soon met with his family. His real name was long kept secret by KGB and only recently reported by Nizhny Novgorod Office of Federal Security Service. Semen spent his childhood in the school for homeless children described by Anton Makarenko in his “Pedagogic Poem.” In the book, his name is Kalabalin.
While the suitcase was found by a villager, who spent the money. Though, after so many years he was not executed.
Natalia Rezontova Special to PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: https://www.pravda.ru/districts/36948-spy/