George Blake (1922- ), was a famous British spy and quadruple agent for the Soviets.
Blake was born as "George Behar" to mixed parentage in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the son of Dutch mother and a Jewish Egyptian father of Italian descent who had become a naturalized British citizen. Blake's father died when he was 14, and Blake was packed off to be educated in Egypt in accordance with one of his father's final wishes.
While in Egypt, Blake fell under the influence of his father's cousin Henri Curiel, who was a prominent member of the Communist Party of Egypt and secretly a KGB agent. According to Blake, by the time he returned to the Netherlands a few years later he was already a dedicated communist for life.
With the invasion of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany in 1940, Blake became active in the Dutch underground, where he took on the nom de guerre "Max de Vries." But when the Gestapo figured out who he was and tried to apprehend him in 1942, Blake disguised himself as a monk and escaped to Britain. In Britain he changed his name from Behar to Blake and joined the Royal Navy as an ordinary officer. However, because he could speak so many different languages, Blake was soon transferred to the Special Operations Executive where he took part in covert intelligence operations and was involved in smuggling British secret agents into occupied Europe.
After the war, Blake was recruited into MI6 and was sent to Germany were he was tasked with building up a British intelligence network in Soviet-occupied East Germany. During his years in MI6, Blake fell in love with an MI6 secretary named Iris Peake, who later went to work for the Queen. The two decided to marry, but the marriage was opposed by the aristocratic Peake family, who would not accept their daughter's marriage to a foreign Jew. Iris cracked under the intense family pressure and the marriage was called off leaving Blake devastated and heart-broken.
He swore revenge against the British nation which he had worked so hard for, but which had now betrayed him and destroyed his life. He approached his uncle Henry Curiel and was recruited into the KGB, and was now a double agent.
In 1950, Blake was sent by MI6 to Korea. When the Korean War broke out, Blake was captured by the North Koreans when they overran the British Legation in Seoul. Blake spent nearly three years in North Korean prisons, where he read the works of Marx and became a staunch Marxist-Leninist.
After his release, Blake returned to Britain as a national hero. He revealed some of his connection to the Soviets to MI6 and was soon sent back to Germany to work as a triple agent in Berlin, where his task was to recruit Soviet officers as new spies for the British network. He now became a quadruple agent, passing details on nearly 400 British secret agents to the Soviets, several of whom were subsequently captured by the USSR.
In 1959, Blake was exposed to the American CIA by Polish defector Michael Goleniewski. In a sensational 1961 trial, Blake was sentenced to 42 years in prison - the longest prison sentence ever handed down by a British court up to that time. Newspaper reports claimed that the 42 years represented one year for each of 42 secret agents said to have been betrayed by Blake and killed by the Soviets, but this appears to have been a fabrication.
Blake only served five years of his sentence, however. In 1966, he escaped from Wormwood Scrubs Prison by climbing over the wall using a rope thrown from the outside by some British friends with ties to the KGB. Blake fled to the USSR, leaving behind his wife and three children, and started a new life.
In 1990, Blake published an English autobiography, No Other Choice, in Britain. The book's publisher transferred about 60,000 pounds to Blake before a British court intervened to stop Blake from profiting from the damage he did to the British nation. In 2004, Blake published a Russian memoir, Transparent Walls, in which it was claimed that even at the age of 82, he was still considered an active agent in the KGB-successor Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation.
In recent interviews given to the Western media, Blake says that he is still an ardent Marxist-Leninist. He admits that he now deeply regrets the deaths of the agents he betrayed, but he adamantly denies being a traitor, insisting that he was never truly British:
"To betray, you first have to belong. I never belonged."