Whether there was a war or not, spies had an important role to play in the world’s history. They were the ones gathering information for their countries, or, sometimes, spying for other nations. They changed the way things happened, and some of them are considered heroes, since they actions saved nations.
If you are also curious who are we talking about, here the 10 of the most famous spies in the world’s history:
10. Richard Sorge (1985 – 1944): Soviet spy in Japan
Richard Sorge is the best spy that the Soviet Union had in Japan, before and during the World War II. He was born in Azerbaijan, and his uncle was a friend of Karl Marx. He was recruited as a spy after he suffered some physical traumas in the World War I. In 1922, he arrived in Frankfurt, and in 1933, he started to spy in Japan. He told the Red Army all the Japanese plans, but he was arrested in 1941 in Tokyo. The URSS denied he was their spy, so he was hanged in 1944 in Tokyo.
9. The Cambridge Five Born (20th Century): Soviet spies in the UK
During the World War II and until the 1950s, five Cambridges passed all the relevant information from the UK to the Soviet Union. They also send wrong information to the Nazis. They are called the Cambridge Five, but actually there are only four names known: Kim Philby (who did a lot of damage to the American and British intelligence system), Donald Duart Maclean (he contributed to the Soviet blockade of Berlin), Guy Burgess (secretary of the British Deputy Foreign Minister), Anthony Blunt (art historic and professor, recruited the other spies).
8. Bella Boyd (1844 – 1900): Confederate Spy
Born Maria Isabella Boyd, Bella was a Confederate spy during the American Civil War. Her operating center was her father’s hotel, where from she managed to send a lot of useful information to the Confederate generals. Once, the Union’s soldiers broke into her parents’ house, and she didn’t have any problem in shooting them. She was only 17 years old when she was recruited.
7. Nathan Hale (1755 – 1776): Continental Army Spy
During the American Revolutionary War, Nathan Hale was one of the Continental Army’s captains. Actually, he is the first spy in America, and it all started when he volunteered to work in an intelligence-gathering mission. He was caught by the British, and he was hanged. However, his speech before death will remain in the history: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”.
6.Eli Cohen, Israeli Spy
Eli Cohen was an Israeli Spy who worked in Syria and developed close relationships with the Syrian leaders, state, and military. In fact, he was the third in line to become President of Syria when he was found by the Soviets. On May 18, 1965 he was executed by Syria for being an Israeli spy. He is deamed the person who saved Israel and prevented it from being destroyed. It was because of him that Israel was able to win the 6 Day War in 1967 when it was attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
5. Klaus Fuchs (1911 – 1988): Soviet Union spy
Even if Fuchs was born in Germany, he became a spy for the Soviet Union. He was recruited because of his significant knowledge about atomic bombs, and everything he actually knew in physics. He worked in the United States on the Manhattan project, and also at the Los Alamos in New Mexico. For two years, he delivered information to the KGB. When he returned to the UK in 1946, the army started to interrogate him, and he admitted to be a spy. He stayed in prison for nine years, and when he got out he moved to Germany.
4. Giacomo Casanova (1725 – 1798): Spy for the Venetian Inquisitors
Casanova is famous all around the world for his womanizing skills, but actually he was an important spy of the eighteenth century. He received a great education and the financial support from his mother and her patrons (his mother was an actress). Casanova became a lawyer and he got very rich. Between 1774 and 1782, he spied for the Venetian Inquisitors, and he explained everything is his famous diary. In 1782, he was sent into exile.
3. Aldrich Ames (1941 – )
Ames was a CIA Counter officer, but he was spying for the Soviet Union. He was convicted in 1994. In his first case, Ames was sent in Turkey, Ankara, where he had to recruit officers for the Soviet intelligence. In 1985, Ames simply walked inside the Soviet Embassy in Washington, asking for money in exchange for the secrets. He had some personal problems, so he became an alcoholic.
2. The Rosenbergs (1915, 1918 – 1953): Soviet Union spies
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were two American Communists, who spied for the Soviet Union. They were both executed, after they passed nuclear secrets. They met in 1936, at the Young Communist League, were Julius was a leader. The couple had two sons. The KGB recruited Julius in 1942, and he became one of their best spies. Julius started to recruit other spies as well. In 1951, Julius and Ethel were found guilty for revealing nuclear secrets and sentenced to death.
1. Mata Hari (1876 – 1917): Spied for Germany and France
Born Margaretha Geertruida (Grietje) Zelle, Mata Hari was a Dutch exotic dancer, and a high class prostitute. She used to live in Paris. In 1905, she divorced her husband; it was the moment when she started her dancing career, taking the name of Mata Hari, which means “Eye of the Dawn”. During the World War I, she spied for France, but the French denied this. Later, in 1917, she started to deliver information to Germany. The French intelligence identified Mata, and she was executed at the age of 41.
By Alex Noudelman