In BETRAYAL IN BERLIN, he tells the astonishing true story of the Berlin Tunnel, one of the West’s greatest espionage operations of the Cold War. Vogel also provides the most vivid account to date of George Blake, the dangerous Soviet mole who betrayed the operation, including information from rare interviews the author conducted with Blake himself. This is a narrative so intricate that only now, after more than a half-century, is it possible to piece together the whole story. Vogel’s definitive book is filled with so many layers of deception and double-cross that it’s as thrilling to read as the great spy novels of John le Carré and Len Deighton.
Its code name was “Operation Gold,” a wildly audacious CIA plan to construct a clandestine tunnel into East Berlin to tap into critical Soviet telecommunication lines. The tunnel, crossing the border between the American and Soviet sectors, would have to be 1,500 feet (the length of the Empire State Building) with state-of-the-art equipment, built and operated literally under the feet of the Cold War adversaries. If successful, the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) would have live access to a vast treasure of Soviet military and intelligence communications. Exposure might spark a dangerous confrontation with the Soviets. Yet as the Allies were burrowing into the German soil, a traitor, George Blake (code-named Agent Diamond by his Soviet handlers), was burrowing into the operation itself.
BETRAYAL IN BERLIN is a heart-pounding account of the operation and its disastrous betrayal. After U.S. Army engineers and British telephone specialists succeeded against long odds in secretly digging the tunnel and placing the taps in May 1955, the West captured a flood of Soviet military and intelligence communications. Upon its discovery nearly a year later, the tunnel was celebrated as an astonishing CIA coup, and the agency basked in its new reputation as a bold and capable intelligence agency that had outwitted the KGB. But that celebration ended when Blake’s treachery was revealed by a Polish defector in 1961, and Western intelligence learned to its shock that the KGB had known about the tunnel from the beginning. Afterwards, it was widely believed that the Soviets had fed the CIA and SIS disinformation. But as Vogel shows, the KGB left Soviet military and intelligence secrets exposed in order to protect Blake—and the intelligence deemed worthless was actually enormously valuable.
Vogel’s dogged research unearthed recently declassified documents in U.S., British and German archives, many of them secret for half a century. He interviewed dozens of key participants in Operation Gold in the U.S., England, Germany and Russia, many of whom who had never spoken before about their roles. Vogel interviewed Blake, who is now 96 years old and has been living in Russia since his dramatic escape from prison in 1966, and the book includes fascinating new details about the spy’s life of deception and betrayal.