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Ron.ld J. Rychhk

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$As oNLy ru.ENTy rlvo yEARs oLD when I becal-re an officer ofthe far-flung Soviet bloc intelligence comnunity and its disinlormation rnachinery, and my whole world was suddenlyturned upside down. Up until then, all I had r'r.anted in life was to go to "Arnerica." That had been my father's lifelong dream. He spent most ofhis working career managing the sen'ice department at the Bucharest afiliate of General Motors, the Amedcan aotomobile compony, andhewas {irmly determined that one day he would gather up his farrily and emigrate to D etroit, where he had l elatives. Trapped byWorldWar II and then afterwards bythe Soviet occupation of Romania, he was forced to give up that dream, though not before passing his

love for Arnerica along to me, his only child. The noment the United States reopened its enbassy in Bucharest after the end ofthe w:r, I became one ofits enthusiastic visitors and soon joined the Young Friends ofthe United

bythe U.S. government. Fufthermore, my best ftiend in those days, an older boy who was my idol, had already enngrated to the United States and rvas there waiting for n-re. The son ofan engineer who hadbeen employed by an Arnerican'ovned oil company i Romaniar he was my next-door neighbor and meator until he left Romania just before the start ofWorldWar ll to study in the United States. Then in October- 194,1,I observed a youngAl-rerican lieutenant stoppingto stire at the rubble that had o nce been my farnily's sturdy, trvo-story hotse. It States, an organization sponsored


had been flattened on April

,1, 1944,

during the 6rst Arnerican bombardment

ofBucharest. The lieutenant tumed out to be rny friend. 'l\4rere is MotherJ" was I he could say when he saw that his house was also gone. "She died in April ,1bornbing," I said.

Visibly shakery rny ftiend, now "Lieutenant Bota," said: "lwas with the squadron that dropped the bornbs on Bucharest that day." We embraced. "You know," he told me a few days later, as he rvas about to leave Romanin agnin, "I have a nice place to live over there in America. Now it's yourhome as much as lt is mine." Whn theq did I end up in communist Romania's political police, the Secuiitate, instead of inAmerica? Put very simply, I shot myselfin the foot. \44ren I graduoted fton-r high

school I decided 1o get my engineering degree before leaving for America. In that summerof19,17, when I was admitted to the Pol)'technic lnstitute in Bucharest, the I(ngdom ofRon1ania had a coalition government in which only a ferv cabinet men-rbers wete communists, and travel abroad was unrestricted. A few months later, however, the cornnunists ovedhrew the king,

tookoverthe entire govemment and closed the country's borders. In January 1951, rvhet the 6rst generation ofRon-rania's engineers and economists tr:fned under con-rmunist rule were about to graduate/ I was draftedas an olficer ofthe massive Sovietbloc intelligence machinery. Under your entire education, you really had no chance of choosing your emPloyer. The govemnent decidedwhere you had to wor\ andthatwas that. Iwas distraught. But since I did not really knowwhat'America" meant, So11et comrrrunism, where the govermr-rent paid for

I was not able to assign true dinensions to myloss. At the same

time,I did

not really know whot the Secarlfate was either. Moreover, I was just begin ning to enjoy a ceftoin degree ofpopularity among my classmates because ofmyAncill ("The Porcupine"), a satirical magazine I put out fil1ed with my own cartoons. Afterthe Nazi troops had occopiedRomania and turned the Bucharest GeneralMotors afiliate into a military unit for r-epairing Gemlan cars and trucks, Father had opened a car repair business ofhis own. It was the only place in Romania repairing Amefican cars) :Ind he was doing s o well tl,at he bought me a car as a rervard for being adrnitted to the Polpechnic


Instit[te. That car, a small Peugeo!

gave me a legup

anong my colleaguesi

because there were only hvo other boys who had cars omong all the


two thousand students at that engineering school. The saying goes that in the country ofthe blind, the one-eyed man is king. That's what Iwas a


Sccodtate. That organizatioq estiblishediust

couple ofyears earlier, had at fust been stalled with hastily recruited miners

and other blue collar workers. Theywere considered to be politically reliable,

but most ofthem hardly knew how to hold apen. Compared to them,I was x whiz kid. My father, who had started his life

tinsmith in his father's shopl had been detelmined to see that his only child woold never need to touch a hammer, so he had spent every spare pennyhe earned on my education. At age nine I could ploy Beethoven's Krealzer Sonata oa my yiolil1, at twelye I was showing



as a

erli oz' s Idle Fixe at the rtusical evenings I would


for my fellow students/ and at sl{teen I was lecturing on Marcel Proust's In Remembrance oJ Things Past.

intel Iigence career.A couple of months after I became a Securitate officer,Iwas called in bymyboss, Captain Finel Lazarovici, and told to report to the chief ofthe Cadre (pelsonnel) Directoratethe lirst thing in the moming. Thelook onhis face reflected my boss's conrmiseration. Cadrehad alreadybecome a fiighterilg rvord throughout the countly/ and the chiefofthe Securitate's My education

was, however, not the only factor that favored my

Cadre Directorate was said to be


sheer terror. At least, that was what I had

heard my fellow olficers whisper. Just

ty lifting

one 6nger, they said, he could

have you promoted, demoted, ormade to disappear into

thin air. Ofcourse,

lwas unable to close my eyes thewhole night. My shirt clung danply to rny back on that April moming in 1951 when I knocked on the mahogany door with the nameplate reading Dilecfol de Cadre. Had "they" leamed about myoldvisits to the American Embassy? Or about the button with the king's picture on it that I used to wearJ I incon spicuously flexed the muscles in my neck to see


was still wearing my chain.

Was the cross hanging from it to blame?

Finding n-ryself in the rniddle of a room the size of a tennis couft, I snapped to attention and bluted out, "Long life, Comrade Colonel!Junior Lt. Ion Mihoi Pacepa repoting." " Chert rcsmi!" the voice behind the desk swore loudly in Russian. "By the devil, you're already a grown man!"

It took me a minute to realize that I kne'w that voice. That bulldog in uniform sitting behind the desk was the son ofa man who hadwotkedwith my father at the General Motors dealership in Bucharest. His father was Carol Demeter-how could I ever forget him? From 193$ when Carol Demeter had been arrested for communist activiry until 1944, when he had been released by the Soviet troops, my father had personally seen to it that the pdsoner's wife and sonlacked for nothing. "Do you rememb er that slap your father pasted on my mug?" the colonei asked. His mustache bristled at me like porcupine quills. he

My flesh crawled. How could I forgetl I had been with Father when had fnally located Demeter's sory who had been hanging around with a

gang ofloiterers and had disappeared ftorn home a few weels before. The imprint my fadrer's heary hand had left on the wal,ward teenager's cheek still stuck in my memory Father had never slapped me. He had usedwords, not slapsr to educate me.

'Well," Colonel Demeter saidwhen I

6na11y managed :r

nod, "that slap

made arr-ran out ofme." He er.piained that soonafterthat slap, hehadstarted training to be a caryenterlike his fother, and then he had joined the Com-

munist Party and found his way to the Soviet Udon. "Now it's my turn to pay your father b aik." My father never gave me the slightest hiDt that he had ever spoken to Colonel Demeter about me. Nor did Colonel Derneter actually say theyhad talked, although for the nert ten yen rs I would physically sense his protective hand cupped around me. Only once, in 1954, when he welt out olhis way to see that my father was buried with great military pomp, did he take credit for looking out for me. In his funeral oration for my father, Demeter, by then a Secuitate general rested an enomous paw on ny shoulder and addressed the coiin: "Restinpeace. Your son is in good hands."

In March 1t53, Stalin died ignominiously,

trying to sober Bp in a scorching sauna after a long drbl<ing bout with his crony, Nikita Klrushchev. wl.ri1e

Today, few Russians like to admit that they ever worshiped Stalin. Not many Nazi admirers could be found in Germany afterWor.ld War II, either. But on

March 6, 1953, four million people wept in Red Square at Stalin's funeral. Sirens rvailed, bells tolled cars blew their homs, and work stopped all around



the coontry. The whole Soviet bloc felt that an era ofhistoryhad passed


oblivion with this man lvhose narrre had been synonymous widr communism.

At that time, I was already

bloc intelligence oincer. I was not yetr however, aware that a Soviet leader's image was so impoltant that he would go to anylengths-even to the point ofkilling and imprisoning millionsr rewiting history, destroying institutions, manipulating religion, and changing


a Soviet

all in an efl'ort to beati4r hirnselfor to demonize his

competitors and enemies. Soonthereafter, however,Iwould be assigned to tlre inner circle ofthe despot's enormous dez inJormatsi a machinery, tdich was responsible for all that image-building. Stalin's successor, Nikita Kfuushchev, began his reign by executing the whole leadership ofStalin's political police as traitols, so as to give tlle appearance that he condemned his predecessor's crimes. Thathad become a rite ofsuccession in the Soviet Union. Only one ofthe irst erght chiefs of the Soviet state sequdty serwice who served between to have died




1953, dren reappeared at


19 I 7

and 1 95,1 is known

Semen lgnatyev, who vanished into thin


provincial post and died ofnatural causes in 1983.r

Felils Dzerzhinslg', the founder ofthat organization, died suspiciously ofa stroke in 1926, after nn argument with Stalin.rThe rest $'ere either poisoned (VyacheslavMenzhinskyin 193,1) or executed as traitors and spies (Genrilh

in 1938, Nikolay Yezhov in 19,10, Lawenty Beriya and Vsevolod Merkuiov in 1953, Vikor Abakumov in 1954). Yagoda

To be on the safe side, Klrushchev executed his spy chiel Madimir Dekanozon as well, repiacing him as spy chief r'r.ith Genelal Aleksander Salfiarovslg, the chiefsoviet intelligence adviser to Romirniar who had been my de Jacto boss and mentor in Romania. That brought me into (hrush' chev's inner circle. Dudng the ensuing years, I would be pushed to the top

ofRomanian loreign intelligence aud would become involved in some of Khrushchev's most impoltant foreign political projects, from his brutal crushing ofthe 1956 Hungarian uprising to his constnictior, ofthe Berlin Wall andprovocation ofthe Cuban missile crisis. Many years later I would look back on all these events and reflect on how they swept me into another rvorld and put an end to anyhope I had of working as a chenical engineerr to say notlring ofbecoming an American. Now, however, that I have finally been fortumte enough to setde down in this country ofrny father's and my own youthlirl dreanls, I have come around to




tlat the path I was channeled into taking

atleast one rcspect,

may have been,


blessingin disguise. Eventually my intelligence career aforded me unique insights into a system of government that has changed a

ofhistory In fac! because Romania was a relatively small country, I believe that I, as its top intelligence oficer, very possibly had a clearer picture ofhow the Krelr'\n and rts dezinfotflatsiln really functioned than perhaps all but the very innermost Soviet inner ctcle. the couise


Disinformation by Pacepa KGB  

Ion Mihai Pacepa admits that he worked for the KGB in his own book.

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