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History
07
World at War The Attempt by Nazi Germany to Assassinate the ‘Big Three’ – Stalin,
Roosevelt and Churchill – Was Foiled Thanks to Soviet Intelligence
Laughter
Triple Jeopardy: the Nazi Plan
through Tears
Moscow recently hosted
a memorable one-artist
to Kill WWII Leaders in Tehran
show, exhibiting the work
of legendary political
cartoonist Boris Yefimov. The
exhibition, entitled “Lessons
of 20th Century History in
Cartoons,” was one of very
KONSTANTIN KRYMSKY_ITAR-TASS
ITAR-TASS
few exhibitions in the history
The British Big Ape Media TV “light cavalry” because of their of art to be opened by a 107
company and the Moscow agility and speed. They shado- year-old artist.
TV Center are making a wed Germans and identified
documentary series about Iranian agents. Gevork Varta- Cartoonist Boris Yefimov has
Russian-British relations nian/Amir today claims that the had an eventful life. He saw
over four centuries. The Lion “light cavalry” had been instru- Nicholas II, the last Russian
and the Bear, for release in mental in bringing about the tsar, in the flesh. He was a
2008, will mix documentary arrest of several hundred friend of the celebrated Silver
history, travelogue and people who posed a great dan- Age poets and prose writers.
personal accounts and will ger to the USSR and Britain, He was a frequent visitor in the
be presented by author, who both had troops stationed Kremlin offices of the first Bol- on, he plied his wit on Churchill
and Winston Churchill’s in Iran as early as the autumn shevik leaders, and took part in and Truman.
granddaughter, Celia of 1941. the Nuremberg trial. The first Yefimov was without doubt
Sandys. On the eve of the Tehran Con- editions of his cartoons were one of the main drivers of So-
ference, the Soviet and British published in 1924, prefaced by viet propaganda. He produced
NIKOLAI DOLGOPOLOV
field stations were working his friend Leo Trotsky. famous drawings from the
MOSCOW under tremendous strain. The Like many artists, Yefimov show trials which Bolshevik
“light cavalry” received orders had a delicate relationship leaders would use to frame
One of the best sections in the to prevent the assassination with the authorities under Sta- each other. But it was perhaps
film is devoted to the Tehran attempt at all costs. These lin. Once, the fearsome dicta- in World War II when he
meeting of the three leaders in young men handled the job. I tor ordered him to produce a achieved greatest notoriety,
1943, when Hitler’s agents asked Gevork Vartanian whe- cartoon of Dwight Eisenhow- producing a gallery of unfor-
planned to destroy the Big ther it was true that on the eve er. Yefimov was duly sum- gettable cartoons. It is said
Three in one fell swoop. The of the Tehran Conference the moned to the office of Com- that Hitler had ordered Yefi-
attempt was foiled by Soviet Soviet and British intelligences munist Party Chief of Ideology mov’s name on the blacklist of
intelligence. moved ruthlessly to detain all Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill knew that Nazi agents were trying to hunt them down in Tehran Andrei Zhdanov in 1947, and those to be killed as soon as
The “Long Jump” operation to the suspects. told that Comrade Stalin want- Moscow was taken by Ger-
assassinate the Big Three “What did you expect?” Gevork ed him to make a cartoon mans.
was masterminded on Hitler’s Vartanian replied. “To let the That was the start of Operation by Soviet and British machine- in Tehran. I was close enough “about the impending Ameri- Today, we can regard the artist
orders by Otto Scorzeny, an Germans take out the three Long Jump. The Germans es- gunners. to see your grandfather, Stalin can military presence in the and his work as self-contradic-
SS thug and daredevil sabo- leaders with one stroke? tablished communication with “All the participants in the Te- and Roosevelt. What struck Arctic.” tory. On the one hand, he was
teur. People were placed under Berlin. The ‘light cavalry’ was hran Conference were able to me was their confidence and The artist had barely got home close to the political leadership
The first tip-off about the plan- temporary arrest on the slig- given the mission to locate the go back and forth safely. calmness.” when his telephone rang. of the Soviet Union and active
ned attempt came from Soviet htest suspicion. intruders’ radio station in the “According to some informa- “You must have had a certain “Comrade Stalin wants to in every propaganda cam-
intelligence agent Nikolai Kuz- If suspicions were not confir- huge city of Tehran. Day and tion, the Nazis planned to get amount of luck,” noted Ms. speak to you,” said the secre- paign. On the other, this was in
netsov, aka Wermacht Ober- med, they were released after night, 14 to 16 hours a day we into the British Embassy Sandys. tary. Stalin said he wanted the service to the regime that killed
leutnant Paul Siebert, from the conference. On one occa- scoured the streets. Eventually through a water supply chan- “Yes, of course,” Vartanian cartoon to be ready in an hour his own brother. Yefimov was a
Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Kuz- sion we had to arrest an Ira- we found the place where the nel and assassinate Churchill agreed. “Luck is important for and a half. history-making personality not
netsov, a famed Soviet spy, got group was hiding. on his birthday, November 30. many professions, and all the Failure would surely have only due to his longevity and
an SS man named Ulrich von “From then on the Germans But these plans were foiled. more so for that of an intelligen- meant falling into the hands of central political positioning but,
Ortel to spill the secret over a Their parents had were transmitting messages to “In those days I was also there, ce agent.”
-
secret police chief Lavrenty most of all, due to his satirical
bottle of good brandy. Von Ortel
fled from the USSR
Berlin that were intercepted by Beria, who probably would and artistic gift.
-
not only told his “friend” Paul
to escape Stalin’s
the Soviet and British intelli- have fitted him up as a spy
about the operation, but invited
gulag. They were
gence. But the Nazi radio ope- and saboteur. In fear of his life, Prepared by
him to accompany him on a trip rators were nobody’s fools. the artist worked furiously for Konstantin Fets
to Tehran to buy cheap Persian outcasts and refu- One of them managed to send
Tehran in 1943: 90 minutes until, with some re-
rugs.
gees, but they put
a coded message, ‘we are lief, he passed the cartoon to
their lives at risk
under surveillance.’ a waiting messenger.
‘Light cavalry’ had
for the sake of the
“The principals in Germany The Big Three Stalin liked the cartoon but
no mercy for the Germans realized that the operation was corrected the caption.
RIA NOVOSTI
In the autumn of 1943, fate Motherland getting off to a disastrous start. Yefimov’s brother was, howev-
thrust 19-year-old Gevork Var- The Nazis decided against The meeting in Tehran (code- Three, although they had not er, less fortunate in this game
tanian into the center of the sending the main group led by named Eureka) was held from abandoned the idea of abduct- of chance. Better known by his
operation. Vartanian was an in- Scorenzy to certain death. The November 28 to December 1, ing Roosevelt. pen-name Mikhail Koltsov, he
telligence agent as well as the nian Nazi agent at a wedding Germans failed to make their 1943, and was the first World The U.S. president was the was a prominent Soviet figure
son of a Soviet intelligence party. We got a tip that he was Long Jump. War II conference between the most vulnerable of the three — a Pravda newspaper corre-
agent who worked in Iran under complicit in the assassination “Your grandfather,” Vartanian Big Three (the Soviet Union, leaders, as Soviet Foreign spondent and founder of sev-
the cover of a wealthy mer- plot. As it turned out, it was not went on, “was staying at the the United States and Britain) Minister Vyacheslav Molotov eral political publications. In
chant. He received his first as- the first terrorist attack he had British Embassy, where he attended by Josef Stalin. The pointed out to U.S. Ambassa- 1942, Koltsov was arrested in
signment and the cover name been a part of.” was provided with security main issue on the agenda was dor Averell Harriman on the the Pravda editorial office. He
Amir from the resident in guards. But the U.S. Embassy the deadline for the opening of night of November 27-28. He was convicted on trumped-up
1940. And no ‘Long Jumps’ was on the city’s outskirts and the second front. proposed that Roosevelt charges and shot.
He formed a group of seven During the filming at the Rus- staying there was too risky. In It appears that it was not Josef should stay at the Soviet Em- Throughout his life, Yefimov
like-minded people. All were sian Foreign Intelligence Ser- a departure from the rules of Stalin nor Winston Churchill, bassy. worked all for the principal So-
of about the same age – Ar- vice press office, Celia San- protocol, Roosevelt, after much but Franklin Delano Roosevelt If Roosevelt had stayed at the viet press outlets. In the 1920s,
menians, a Lezghin and an dys tried to find out from urging, stayed at the Soviet who was the key target of the U.S. diplomatic mission locat- the satirist held Chamberlain
Assyrian – and they communi- Gevork Vartanian how they Embassy, where, of course, Nazi intelligence. The number ed far from the center of Teh- and Daladier as his main tar-
cated in Russian and Farsi. had managed to foil the plot. Stalin was also staying.” one Nazi saboteur, Otto ran, either he or Stalin and gets; in the 1930s and 1940s,
Their parents had been exiled The slender man in a well-fit- Churchill’s granddaughter was Skorzeny, admitted in 1966 Churchill would have had to he turned to Hitler, Mussolini,
or fled from the USSR to esca- ting dark suit with the top Rus- naturally curious to know what that he had planned Operation travel to the talks through Teh- Goering and Goebbels; later Stalin
pe Stalin’s gulag. They were sian military decoration – the security precautions had been Long Jump to kill Stalin and ran’s narrow streets, where
outcasts and refugees, but Golden Star of the Hero – taken to guard the Prime Minis- Churchill and abduct Roos- Nazi agents could easily have
they put their lives at risk for answered in good English and ter. evelt. concealed themselves in the
the sake of the Motherland then, at Ms. Sandys’s request, “The street between the Soviet The Nazi intelligence had at- city’s crowds
that had rejected them. repeated the answers in Rus- and British Embassies, which tempted a similar operation in Surprisingly, Churchill support-
They were new to the intelli- sian. were located close to each 1943, before Tehran. The op- ed Molotov’s idea that Roos-
gence profession and people “Six German radio operators other, had been sealed off. eration to assassinate Roos- evelt should stay at the Soviet
from Soviet intelligence had to had been dropped by parachu- They stretched a six-meter tar- evelt during his meeting with Embassy, which was three or
teach them as they went along. te into the holy Muslim city of paulin sheet to make some- Churchill in Casablanca was four times larger than the other
The resident called the group Qum and made it to Tehran. thing like a passage guarded not approved only because two countries’ missions and
Germans translated Casablan- had a large territory guarded by
ca as “the White House” and Soviet troops and police.
feverishly searched for agents The British prime minister re-
among the extensive German called years later that they had
community in the United convinced Roosevelt, and the
States. next day he and his staff, in-
Roosevelt was the first to pro- cluding his marvelous Filipino
FROM PERSONAL ARCHIVES
pose the meeting of the three cooks, moved from his yacht to
leaders in Tehran in the begin- the Russian Embassy. He was
ning of December, 1942 in his assigned large and comfort-
DMITRY KOROBEYNIKOV_RIA NOVOSTI
letter to Stalin, but the last (on able premises.
November 8, 1943) to agree to However, it was suspected that
attend it. Russians tapped Roosevelt’s
The Germans had learned quarters. The surviving partici-
about the time and place of the pants in the Tehran conference
conference in mid-October, said several years ago they
having cracked the American doubted that it was so, al- RIA NOVOSTI
The way we were: Gevork Vartanian and Goar Vartanian (left) in Tehran, June 30, 1946. Right: they have naval code. They planned an though nobody could say for In his 1940 cartoon series “Blood and Business”, Boris Yefimov de-
been together ever since operation to eliminate the Big certain.
-
scribed how the powerful Wall Street profited from the war.
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