Morris Cohen (Soviet spy)

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Morris Cohen

Morris Cohen a.k.a. in London as Peter Kroger (2 July 1910 - 23 June 1995), was born in New York to a family of descendants from Russia. His father was from an area near Kiev, and mother was born in Vilnius. Cohen received an athletic scholarship as an outstanding rugby player to attend Columbia University.

In 1937 and 1938 Cohen joined the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and fought as a foreign national "volunteer" in the Spanish Civil War with compatriot Amadeo Sabatini, veteran and career Soviet spy. Cohen was injured ion the war. In 1938 Cohen agreed to begin serving Soviet foreign intelligence, and by November 1938 returned to the United States. Cohen married Lona Cohen who was an activist in the CPUSA in 1941.

In mid 1942, during the World War II, Cohen was drafted into the U.S. Army and later was stationed in Europe. Cohen was demobilized from the Army in November 1945 and returned to the United States and resumed active espionage work with Soviet intelligence.

As Soviet spy networks were compromised in this immediate period, connection with Soviet intelligence was temporarily ended, but resumed in 1948, when the Rezidentura ascertained that Cohen could be approached. Together with Lona Cohen they ensured the continued secret connection with a number of the most valuable sources of the Rezidentura. They began working with Col. Rudolph Abel along the line of illegal intelligence up to 1950, at which time they secretly left the United States and went to the Soviet Union.

In 1954 the Cohens reappeared in London as antiquarian book dealers under the names of Peter and Helen Kroger, working for Soviet intelligence with Conan Molodogo. Morris Cohen became the British Illegal Rezident. British security officials arrested the Cohens on 7 January 1961 as part of a Soviet espionage network that had penetrated the British navy. Cohne was sentenced to 25 years.

In 1967 the Soviet Union admitted the Cohens were spies and in August 1969 Britain agrees to exchange them for a British subject held in the Soviet Union. The Cohens returned to Moscow and Morris continued the work of training younger colleagues for illegal intelligence.

The Cohens were awarded the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Friendship of Nations for their espionage work. After the collapse of the USSR they also were given the title of Heroes of the Russian Federation by the Yeltsin government. They lived out their lives on KGB pensions until their deaths—Lona in 1992 and Morris in 1995.

The Cohens are referenced in Venona decrypts 1239 KGB New York to Moscow, 30 August 1944; 50 KGB New York to Moscow, 11 January 1945, regarding an erroneous report Morris had been killed in Europe. The Cohens helped pass Manhattan Project secrets to the Soviet Union. His code name in Soviet intelligence and the Venona files is "Volunteer".

See also

External links


  • Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) [1]
  • Russian Federal Foreign Intelligence Service, Veterany vneshnei razvedki Rosii (Veterans of Russian foreign intelligence service), Moscow: Russian Federal Foreign Intelligence Service, (1995).
  • FBI Morris and Lona Cohen file, 100–406659.
  • Rebecca West, The New Meaning of Treason, New York: Viking (1964), pgs. 281–288.
  • Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel, Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy, New York: Times Books (1997) pgs. 244–253.
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press, pgs. 316, 317–319, 320, 321, 334.
  • Interview with Dr. Svetlana Chervonnaya