Jacob Epstein (spy)

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Jacob Epstein, also Jake Bermanen, was born 10 November 1903 in Brooklyn of Russian parents. He graduated from Cornell University in 1924, where he became friends with Anna Colloms, who was also a student. In 1938, Epstein volunteered for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, and was badly wounded. Epstein married Ruth Wilson, whom he met while convalescing from his injuries, and both allegedly served as Soviet intelligence operatives.

During World War II Epstein was stationed by Soviet intelligence in Mexico City. Epstein was put in charge of the Gnome Project which was the secret plan to free Ramón Mercader, Leon Trotsky's murderer, from jail.

Epstein is referenced in Venona decrypt 800 New York to Moscow 28 May 1943, and another decrypt on 30 May 1943. The material cites Epstein as having placed two agents in the prison Mercader was held at. The plan called for moving Mercader out of Mexico once the jailbreak was made.

Venona decrypt 193–194 Mexico City to Moscow, 14 March 1944 identifies Anna Colloms, while on a courier mission to Mexico, reporting the KGB detected surveillance of Ruth Wilson, Epstein's wife, and Colloms, who went to Mexico for liaison with Jacob Epstein, but achieved nothing.


Jacob Epstein's code names in Soviet intelligence are "Harry" and "Garri". Epstein is referenced in the following Venona decryptions: