John Alexander Symonds
“I'd say: ‘join the KGB and see the world’ - first class. I went to all over the world on these jobs and I had a marvellous time. I stayed in the best hotels, I visited all the best beaches, I've had access to beautiful women, unlimited food, champagne, caviar whatever you like and I had a wonderful time. That was my KGB experience. I don't regret a minute of it ...”
KGB Romeo Spy Part 8 - Entrapment 2
This is the story of John Alexander Symonds life. The draft book was circulated to about 200 publishing houses and several showed an interest in offering it to the public.
Unfortunately the D-Notice Committee made objections to some of the contents on the grounds of National Security and so the book was never published.
The book is now published in its entirety on this website for the first time.
INDEX to my Biography
‘Your usual brandy?’ said Todor the barman. ‘Yes please’, I heard myself saying, not assertively but like a submissive schoolchild who has just felt a ruler whacked across the back of his hand. I was still quivering from Nick’s interrogation and in dire need of a steadier. ‘With a large bottle of mineral water and a strong black coffee’, I added. ‘Yes Sir. That goes without saying!’
I drank some of the water, then I topped up the coffee with the brandy, a good local mark masquerading as a ‘Napoleon’. Todor could see I was depressed, down, showing all the symptoms of a bad day at the office. This evening he seemed friendly, even attentive, in contrast to his bland manner on my previous visits. Maybe he thought I was going to be a good customer that night, in the mood to get very drunk. He plied me with plate after plate of nibbles - nuts, crisps, cheesy biscuits, fingers of toast with sardines, little spicy sausages. Meantime I ordered a bottle of champagne - or rather a champagne-style wine from Moldova just as good (in the circumstances) as the best brand from Rheims.
By now I was ‘merry’ and feeling a bit better disposed to the world. Perched on my bar stool, I had even begun to accept Todor’s traditional garb as normal - the big bow tie, puffed up shirt, open waistcoat, baggy trousers, strapped ‘tsarvoul’ slippers and a broad sash around the waist – like a folk dancer in a national troupe. Not that a folk dancer would be wearing cuff protectors half way up his sleeves. With his receding hairline, he looked like a cross between an old-style English butler and a medical researcher.
As the evening wore on, and we made idle chat, Todor leaned over and made a suggestion which took me quite by surprise. ‘Hey, my friend’, he whispered, ‘a couple of extremely attractive young women are staying here. a tourist courier and her chum from Germany. They’re on the lookout for men and ripe for it. So tonight how about you, me and them making up a foursome?’
I hesitated. I was still reeling from that drubbing by Nick, and women were the last thing on my mind. Also, I wondered, was Todor’s approach genuine and spontaneous, or was he another link in the chain of entrapment which already had me tied and bound? This must be another set-up. I thought. It’s all Nick’s doing. It’s an initiative test, but which way does he want me to go? Do I take the offer or spurn it? I’d better sleep on and tell Nick about it in the morning but I’d better make Todor think I’m enthusiastic.
‘Sorry, old chap, not tonight. I’ve got an early start tomorrow but the girls sound terrific. I’ll be back here in the evening so why don’t we all meet up then?’
‘You never know. Opportunities like this don’t come up so often. What’s that you English say? ‘He who hesitates is lost’?
‘Thanks for the service, Todor. Goodnight’.
Next morning, as usual, Nick picked me at seven and took me to another hotel which served a far better breakfast, buffet-style. I raised the subject of the barman’s offer and asked Nick what should I do. ‘It’s up to you, of course, but, as far as I’m concerned, go ahead! After all, you are here to enjoy yourself!’
Ho! ho!, I thought, this is a change of tune. I didn’t enjoy yesterday’s interrogation. But then again, I recognised, this is what we do in the police. Hard, soft, hard, soft. First we’re nasty, then we’re nice. Until the ‘client’ is thoroughly disoriented, doesn’t know which way to turn, and ultimately willing to do anything we ask.
Then it struck me. What an extraordinary pickle I’m in. Here am I, a lusty, able-bodied Englishman in my prime, with an insatiable if insensitive appetite for female flesh, and I’m asking this agent of some foreign power, please sir, may I go out with a girlie tonight! What’s happening to me?
Then I remembered that nightmare vision of a mountain road and a bullet in the head.
For the rest of the day Nick and I went back to the villa and continued my debriefing. By now I noticed that whenever we moved on to discuss another of my police colleagues, he wanted all the juicy details. For instance, once I’d demonstrated that officer X was corrupt, the details of X’s corruption did not greatly interest him. (Why should it? He wasn’t going to be putting the man on trial at the Old Bailey) No, he wanted to know whether X was an inveterate adulterer, a homosexual or a compulsive gambler. Did he have any other foibles or weaknesses? Had he any hidden assets, foreign bank accounts, or land in someone else’s name? In short, everyone has an Achilles heel, so what was this man’s? Once Nick had that piece of knowledge, he seemed to relax, secure in the belief that X could first be indulged, then blackmailed into serving whichever alien cause Nick himself served. Knowing merely that X would happily work with the Devil if only the bribe were big enough did not satisfy Nick. He had to know where to apply the vice.
Throughout this day Nick had continued in the ‘soft’ mode of interrogation. At five in the afternoon we broke up and took the official chauffeur-driven car back to town. He dropped me off at my hotel and then went on to his own. He always left me alone in the evening – I’m sure he needed a rest just as much as I did – and left me to my own amusements. Except that this evening, of course, my amusements were being supplied by little balding Todor.
When I turned up at the Berioska bar Todor looked pleased to see me. ‘It’s all on’, he said, pouring my brandy, and beckoning to a young woman across the room. She came over and Todor introduced her as the tour courier who was a very pleasant and attractive Bulgarian girl.
First night I had been cowed so much - my conversations with Nick had so drained me (he had good grounds).
The foreign currency bar was generically called a Birioska, denoted by the sign of a tree.
Nina told me all about her family, her children and their rabbits. I was starting to enjoy her company. Spoke good English. Very elegant, tall. Well-dressed, well-groomed. Calm steady grey eyes. She seemed fascinated by my tales of wild animals in Africa, life in Morocco. I was thanking her for her company, and hoping we could meet again, when Todor insisted that we all go on to another place, after the bar was closed.
When we went back to their hotel, the barman smaller than both the women, was feeling the courier’s bottom. I tentatively took Nina’s hand and she politely removed it. Fair enough. She wasn’t going to be seen that way in public. Back in the room the barman and the courier got stuck in, clinches, brandy, and a bucket of ice. Music, talking. While they were pawing each other, the Barman suddenly turned her over on the bed, flipped her over, raised her legs in the air, and pulled her knickers up to her knees, as if tied together, and immediately entered her. She wasn’t ready for it. But what the fuck do I do Now. Nina was a bit put off by the whole thing. He has got out his huge dong, she screams, but her persists. Effectively it was rape. Later I discovered that to a Bulgarian this was normal. As a Scotland Yard copper I would have arrested him for rape which I had witnessed. But not in these circs. She was sobbing with pain, He was plunging away.
Do I stop it, twist his arm behind his back? Todor kept looking at us as if we should be getting down to it too, egging us on. He zipped himself up and said goodnight. I stayed while Nina comforted the Bulgarian, and I left too, expressing my regrets. Never expected to see either of them again. I later discovered that this cruel and vicious rape was a macho way of Bulgarian sex. The courier complained he had hurt her. I had seen it but how Nina saw it? I don’t know. She was trying to look away. Wham Bam Thank You Mam, except he didn’t thank her.
I think the courier was married to a West German, she was living in Germany, coming back and forth with German tourists, but probably still under obligation to the Bulg secret service.
Next morning told Nick. He told me not to worry and it would be a good idea to see if I could find Nina again, see if she was ok etc. Next evening I went down to the bar again. Todor was there, but very surly, presumably knew I had reported the rape to Nick. Nina came in again, without the courier, among a group of her fellow tourists. She waved, came over and we discussed our mutual distaste and revulsion at what had happened the previous night. The courier had been unable to work that day, stayed in her room.
We had a meal, champagne, etc. We soon put aside the bad bits and carried on talking. And later I invited her to my room. Let’s take some drinks. She declined, had to get back to her room. To comfort her friend. I took her back to her hotel, gave her a peck on the cheek.
Next day, pure debriefing. Nick suggested I took her out of town, to a monastery where they make their own wines. Free tasting of all the wines and if you do, you get totally pissed. And so I’d agreed to meet her for lunch (half day at the office!) we met, and I offered to take her to this monastery. She agreed, we went, in a car and driver supplied by Nick. She must have thought I’d hired and paid for this myself – not in a shitty little Lada taxi. We had a pleasant afternoon, greeted by monks who appeared to be expecting us, a VIP tour, tried every wine and by the time we set off back we were feeling very merry, on top of the brandy and champers before. Pale Amber to rich ruby red.
The car had been waiting all the time. By this time we were quite merry. When we got to my room (she agreed this time) it was made up like a seduction palace. Nun’s bosums cakes, cherry on top, light sponge.
Then the music was played. Normally the radio just had national music, interspersed with items about the tractors federation annual production stats. Now they were playing ‘Je t’aime, moi non plus’ which I had never heard before because it had been banned when I was in England. Lots of grunts and orgasm, and it did the trick. She came on to me, she was ready, glistening eyes, widened pupils, breathing. It was the climax to a two day courtship, dragged each other’s clothes off (as if in a hot movie) she was ripe and I was ready. Fell into each other’s arms and made love. We rested for a while and then made love again. Quite straight that day. Just getting to know each other. If they were filming that, they may have decided I needed some lessons! She may have been slightly disappointed that I had come so soon. But I was able to rise to the occasion and come again several times! Hotel chocolates too. Champagne. Lots of flowers. Various free gift bottles of wine, including Bulls Blood. I enjoyed it, I said, and she said. How apt, El Toro she said, patting me on the head. (perhaps she was commenting on the way I had done it).
We’ve broken down the barriers, a sexual relationship, a lovely day in the country. Fuck the tour group, so really we spent several nice days together, I was looking to duck out of the interrogation, she spent the nights in my room. Hand in hand, arms around each other, young lovers, walks ion the beach and in the woods, she was very passionate, no inhibitions now about walking in public in an embrace. Now we were into oral sex, rapidly progressing to more complicated forms of sex, which I enjoyed. Neither my wife or any of my previous girlfriends had gone in for that kind of stuff, sounds odd to say. I’m not saying she was the first to suck it, I had a nurse who had done nothing else. But this was my first uninhibited sexual experience. And of course in between the gourmet meals, champagne etc sun beach, walks, waiting for the desire to come again, of course we talked. She told me all about her life, growing up, her own family her marriage her husband. Obviously very happy, so, why was she on holiday alone.
That’s when she told me all about his preoccupation at work. That’s when the chance of this hol in Bulgaria with her courier friend came up. He was all in favour because he couldn’t get away. He worked for a secret organization, involved in keeping obbo on Willy Brandt’s office staff, because they had discovered t here was a spy in the office. I thought she was telling me he was in the German secret service. She also told me that they had heard this info from British intelligence in a complimentary way, as she stroked my balls etc. Her husband was obviously grateful to Britain! And here was I fucking his wife!
And now all of a sudden a seed of doubt entered our relationship. Was she telling me this genuinely, or was it all part of a set-up by Nick, to test my initiative and honesty. I f I did not tell him, and he had set it up, then he be would sure I was working for Britain, and withholding stuff which could be helpful to the enemy, Russia/E Germany.
I decided to tell him, but when I did, he just said, oh’ that’s very interesting. And didn’t seem over-excited. He certainly did not egg me on, to ask her for more info, to pressure her. Perhaps because he thought I Might blow it. So he just said, well, carry on with the relationship. And see how it goes.
[next section accidentally deleted – about him not working for secret service but for the E- W reunification committee, which the Russians had said was contrary to the Potsdam Agreement, and so it had to go underground but it had lots of money. Therefore the real secret service had come to the E-W committee because it had lots of cash to pay for the vast investigation which now had to be conducted into the vast staff at the Chancellery, 200 or 400 people. Any of whom might be the spy or spies. Ebert himself was a politician not a security man, in the SPD. It had huge tranches of money, to be handed out to secret services in such a situation. Guillaume had been hand-picked by Brandt, a thorough workaholic male secretary type. His other sec was a middle-aged woman, spinster-type. She may have been the most likely suspect, whereas GG must have been vetted several times.
Nina hadn’t been able to remember the name of GG, but it was probably said to her while she was doing the dishes one night. She did recall him telling her the name of the suspect while she was serving dinner. She did say it was a strange name but she couldn’t recall.
Of course I couldn’t take too great an interest, this was just idle post-coital chat, not a formal interrogation. She spent a second night with me.
I reported all this to Nick – [on day 2 the barman intros the girls, then the courier is raped before our eyes in her sad room] reported back - I was a bit nervous about being a witness to a rape, might have been construed as being a party to it, failing to stop, a rapist by proxy. So I was anxious to tell Nick. He said, ‘that’s the Bulgarian way. Might have looked like a rape to you but here in Bulgaria that’s normal. So on day 3 when I had already arranged to meet her for lunch – pissed at the monastery. Back to my hotel room. I had an idea to try my luck. A little hand touching in the car way back, her hand on my knee. When I got back I was surprised to see the room had been prepared like a bridal suite. Flowers, chocs, champagne, Moldav. Napoleon brandy, best wines from Hung. – she now up for it, glistening eyes, shallow breathing, desp for it. At that time anyone obbing me, by this time I was really sex-starved. Having resisted all these female hangers-on at Sundance, who were always trying to seduce you. Longer than half a year faithful to Barbara. That meant my love-making was comparatively brief. Second that I must have appeared very virile. Came back for me several times. She ended up satisfied but I did not perform skillfully the first time which might have been better than doing it half a dozen times. It was Nina who made me look good. She was an accomplished lover, had the skills to make me look good. Nina would have made anyone look good.
She probably got me the job of a Romeo Spy! If this had been an audition I would have won the part. Mock report: VIRILE BUT INEPT! I had been leading a life involving the escaping of death by a hairs breadth. All making me very hot. For someone who was making a first appearance on the scene it was a dream debut. It was obviously controlled, I would say. The bed fitted out, sending us to these monks, back to the music-filled stuff. Out the window, the beach and the black sea, you think you could sling your fishing rod out the window and catch your dinner.
What must have made me look good, was her looks and her skill. She was the one who turned me from being an ordinary bloke into a super Romeo. Nick probably thought it was me who had brought this about. Even though she was the leader, initiator of every action. After three times I may not have been standing to attention, at which point she took oral care of me. She knew she could bring me back up. This was just normal straight sex with a normal middle class straight woman. The Fuck of the Century! It was a millionaire’s set up. Nothing ever matched that, the first time for me in those kind of circumstances.
During the convs in between. R&R. She came back to the subject. I said something like I could never go to Germany again (Don’t step I may never go to Gy again, what with hubby being in secret police. She said, no he’s not a ss man, he’s on this political committee. His signature was needed to hand over more millions of marks to the secret service. So now we’re really stick into Nina!
Next morning I tel Nick all this, and he’s very pleased. She’s just got one more day. We drop the debrief and I spend all the time with her. We made love a few more times, more daring, in the pine forest we made love, spent dat together, by this time ‘in love’ both of us. And we promised to keep in touch , write to each other., and she gave me her address to write to, in Bonn. Her surname. She said she was very glad to have met me, but made the point that she still loved her husband, no qu of abandoning her marriage, but maybe another holiday romance with me would be fine. Not to barge in on her marriage. Off went the coach. Last I saw of her. Probably a coach to the airport.
Next morning I told Nick and he said he had been called back to Moscow. By this time I knew he was KGB, of course, and equally I realised that I wasn’t going to get my dossier published either in Stern on in France. But by this time I had already conceived that I might get my revenge by bringing the house down via the KGB.
Marcel had got the dossier off me, by talk of publication in France. Then I had given more specific information about individuals, but now a new opportunity had arisen, knowledge of these people’s corrupt activities had now fallen into hands of KGB who could not aim to recruit them. In due course they would come back to me about specific officers (but that was during my future Moscow debriefings).
So with Nick in Moscow, what now with me? I thought in my innocence I would just be free to go back to Morocco. But No Nick said he would go back to Moscow but He wanted to see me in a few days still in Bulgaria, just for a short time. SO he handed me over to a Bulgarian militia or security man called (again) Todor. Who had been friendly if not fawning in Nick’s presence. But as soon as we were alone his attitude turned to distinctly unfriendly if not contemptuous. I later found out that this was because all Bulgs detested Russians because they had ripped off the country, exporting all the produce to Moscow including meat, sheepskin coats, etc ruling the entire country with a rod of iron.
So no wonder this man treated me with contempt – Struga was the dist where he placed me in a shit flat in a miserable working class area, pavements with broken slabs and pot-holes. The block – 3 floors with 3 flats each and I was in the middle floor. Tiny, dirty, huge double bed on one side of a curtain, with a a couple of chairs on the other side. The n A tiny kitchen, a toilet with the shower, not really room for a shower, and a hole in the floor for the water to flow out. Dusty, stuffy.
Todor left me for a good half hour to get the key, when he came back he just wafted me in, and didn’t even go in himself. No explanation of how anything worked. I went into this bed-sit and opened the window. A Dreadful smell. I was immediately above the block dustbins immediately above the decomposing slime and dustbins. Impossible to close lid because it was overflowing. In my room there were just big slimy bluebottles pouring in. SO I spent the next hour trying to get these bastards out before shutting the window.
Only had a few Lev. I found my way to the main street, tram rattling, eventually found a shop with tea, milk sugar – struggling to find the right words in Bulgaria. Later I found the milk was in fact yoghurt. Tea was green tea – only the sugar was any good. Tea got cold by the time you had stirred it often enough to melt the very hard sugar lumps.
All this was a bit of a come down from the previous day With Marlene Dietrich in the millionaire’s suite. Later I found that everyone else in the block was militia. Any of my visitors were stopped and q’d as to why they were visiting the Englishman. Upstairs the man with the shoes?!
In a hotel I could have walked out and met my UK SIS Control! So there am I drinking green tea and feeling thoroughly pissed off. I went to bed early, tired, bed seemed comfortable, mattress torn, full of straw. Exhausted. Five minutes later, it seemed but must have been longer, I jumped up, having felt a very severe sting on my neck, just under ear. I look in the mirror and I have nasty red lump. Stings all over me, rush to the shower drag off my clothes, stand under water to soothe the bites, and I go back into living room and found I am covered in bites. The black thing I have killed I skewer with a pin, and the entire mattress was alive with bed bugs.
I spent the rest of the night walking around , I wouldn’t go back to bed. Had a good loook round the flat, noted that it hadn’t been properly cleaned since previous tenant. He had left his dressing gown behind, on bathroom door. When I tried it on I was trialing six inches of extra material, slippers huge size 13-14, I could wear them keeping my shoes on. In one kitchen cupboard with lots of developed film, a red bulb, of documents and technical mags in German. The kitchen had therefore been used as a dark room. My predecessor had clearly been a spy too. What the hell had happened to him?
Later I notice there was an old Mer with flat tyres parked on the pavement beside the flats.
Following morning I took myself to Sofia airport and demanded a place on the next plane out of Bulg > Paris. Back to Rabat – I had open return tickets. I wasn’t on a two week excursion fare! But at the airport I realise that I had probably been followed. They asked why do you want to go. Lots of people came up to me, and they said, ‘wait there’ wait there’. Until up came Todor I said Im’ not staying here in that dreadful flt, pulled up my shirt showed him all the bed bugs.
Todor made phone calls, looking very embarrassed and instead he said, you don’t have to go back to the flat, into best hotel, nice room. A doctor came in to rub salve, a couple of injections, very nice room, a wadge of Lev, so now I’m taking some money off a Bulg, in the coffee bar of a Hotel ‘Sofia’? Close by George Dimitrove mausoleum of Lenin, by royal palace.
And I stay there in the htel until Nick comes back. I go to the currency bar and meet a very nice girl. I meet Anka. Blond, very attractive, beautiful, spoke reasonable English. She worked as a nurse in the ‘very special hospital’, reserved for politburo members, army generals etc Best staff, doctors and equipped with all latest high-tech equip. I asked if I could come and see it – she said there was no way you could get within 100 yards of it, lots of security. We became friends, and stayed so. I later discovered that her father was a militia general and was chief prosecutor of Bulgaria – did all the top cases. Prior to rev, she said, he had been a train driver from poor peasant background. This was itself a huge advance on his origins, but had determined to better himself, studied law by correspondence till in the end he qualified. After Rev he had gone to university on a special course and become a militia lawyer, grad risen to judge then state prosecutor. This was the reason why this beautiful girl was the nurse to anyone e.g. Todor Zhivkov and was able to waft into the best hotel in town and makes friends with anyone e.g. a lone Englishman. She was the apple of her father’s eye who she had round her little finger (she said) so the local militia knew there was no point in making trouble for her or me when she did this. I wasn’t giving it to her, she was interested in music, films, going to England for arts etc, and I was very pleased to have her as a friend.
Todor reappeared and told me the flat had been totally cleaned and refurbished and would I please come back and look at it. The outside was still dreadful but the inside had been cleaned up, fumigated, wobbly table gone but a smaller bed which gave a bit more room to move about in. Everything had been redecorated, scrubbed, windows cleaned, dustbins emptied and loved under some other poor bastard’s window. Living room had been enhanced with shiny garish furniture which they were very pleased and proud of. Whole place being renovated. New cooker, etc and it didn’t look too bad, and I agreed to go back in. Films had disappeared. As cupboards had been cleared and painted. And the old Merc had gone – it has previously belonged to the German speaker who had gone and never returned. Todor was apologetic, going out of his way to make up. Make me content. Trying really hard.
Soon I discovered why. Nick was back After a week or 10 days Nick came back. Nick told me that Moscow were very interested in my information and wanted more – wanted the exact name of the suspect in Brandt’s office. Nina had said they had gradually whittled the suspects down from 400 to about 20 – everyone in the Chancellery had been bugged, opened everyone'’ mail, it had cost millions, but now they were down to the inner circle – and this fact had caused worries for the party – as opposed to if it had been a postman or a clean, in which case Brandt would have survived.
Anyway, they wanted me to go to Bonn contact Nina, invite her to go with me to Berlin – story was to be that I knew I had to go to Berlin, longing to see her, I knew she wanted another holiday, could she come with me to Berlin.
So I had to be given an intensive training session with Nick. [See other accounts] Had to learn a legend, why I would be going there, my excuse, love – I wrote her a letter there and then - to be posted from somewhere else – e.g. Paris – preparing the ground, missed her, and wanted to see her again.
I also cited the address of some W German I had met in Africa. As my excuse for going to Berlin. And I wrote to him also, how nice a time we had when we met, coming to Berlin so I’d love to see him and have a drink. He told me he was the best pastry cook in W Berlin! ALL PART OF STORY MY LEGEND./ HWO TO MAKE MARMARKS, GO TO MEETINGS ETC, BASIC THINGS I NEEDED. HAD TO MEET SOMEONE TO GET A PASSPORT, WITH FALSESTAMPS IN AND OUT OF MOROCCO, PARIS ETC, AND SO OFFI WENT – PLANE TO SOFIA TO PARIS AND THEN ON TO BONN – WALKED AROUND A BIT AND PHONED HER UP IN A BOX IN HER STREET CLOSE BY HER HOUSE. I WAS ALSO TRYING TO SPOT IF HER HOME WAS UNDER SURVEILLANCE – AFTER ALL, SHE MIGHT HAVE TOLD SECURITY FOLK ABOUT ME. BUT HWNE I RANG SHE WAS PLEASEDT OHER FROM ME, SHE SAID DON’T GO, I’LL BE OUT STRAIGHTWAY, AND FIVE MINUTES LATER OUT SHE CAME, DRESSED IN THIS WITCHLIKE GEAR – AN EMOTIONAL REUNION IN MY HOTEL. SHE AGREED TO GO TO BERLIN, WOULD MAKE ALL ARAGGNEMETS OVERNIGHT, AND SO THE FOLLOWING MORNING WE MET AT BONN AIRPORT – WE SPENT ALL AFTERNOON AND EVENING FUCKING IN THE HOTEL. THEN SHE WENT HOME AT ABOUT 6 PM AS HER HUSBANDWOULD BE COMING HOME, THEN SHE PHONE MED TO SAY IT WAS ALL ON, I BOUGHT THE TICKETS, SHE PHONE D AGAIN LATER AND I CONFIRMED THE ARRANGMEENTS, APIRPORT, PLANE ARRIVE IN BONN AND MY INSTRUCTIONSWERETO GO A CERTAIN HOTEL. (AS I HAD TO DO IN BONN). NO-ONE ASKED ANY QUESTIONS IN EITHER PLACE – PROBABLY WE WERE FILMED AT IN BOTH PLACES.
I think I had been told in Berlin that I should make love in the open, not under the covers (as I had done in Bonn) – I’d been told this before I left Bulgaria. To do so in Bonn, a live-sex show just down the road from where she lived, wasn’t on! Bonn was very staid.
I might have been there as Eddie Herbert etc, all my cousins’ names.
New on 12.11.99 (Thurs)
Then into my giving her my address PO Box in rabat. But she gave me her address in Bonn. More important!
When I Went to Bonn I rang her from outside the house which looked spectacular. I got her to come out and she was dressed in a very eccentric outfit, like a witch! A Black hat, like a silly welsh hat, and black cloak!
Smoking not very much, a ciggie now and again. With a cup of coffee. Coffee and tea breaks with Nick. Couldn’t smoke much because he had to do lots of long marches, overnight sometimes. I couldn’t stop to say, let’s stop, I’m puffed out – need a breather. I had to set an example. Then I used to smoke Players, very strong, Capstan untipped. One was very satisfying, didn’t want another until the next cup of coffee. In Bulgaria I tried the local cigges, quite satisfying, locally grown, Turkish tobacco, very pungent, quite a strong smell. ‘BT’ the local brand (then and now) Bulgar Tabak.
The villa was typical of Bulgaria – official villas – kept for the use of important visitors like Nick. A newish building, really nice furniture – traditional Bulgarian Furniture (cf Turkish) – bare floors but with chuck carpets (throws) – collage wall carpets. Bare wood floorboards, pine. In the middle of a pine forest. Had bee nthick forest. All Slunchen Bryag had been forest before clearing – the old Bulgar queens palace was just up the road. This was formerly Romania. Bulgars took their territory up to the main river as a border, on this line a Romanian queen had built a palace.
Had been infested by snakes – so snake bite boy in the clinic. Back in England there had been a woman with a vast hedgehog sanctuary – so these hedgehogs were exported to the town to fight the snakes. Snakes had been plaguing the resort, not good for the tourist image. Monk seals on the coast.
The villa was back from the beach, all private villas closed to the public. A strip of land which you could only enter through agate wit ha little militia man in a hut, and as you drove through ,you could see half a dozen villas – one put aside for our use. No-one slept there, I believe, run by local militia. Govt villas – guest villas – on rising ground. Just above – Road along coast, driving West towards Romania, towards Danube. On right the scrub, the beach, the sea. On the left you look upwards towards these villas set slightly above the road. An impressive gate with a little guard. If I had got out of the villa, I would have been extremely lucky to get out of the compound! Secure accommodation. I’ve no doubt everything was recorded, and very probably filmed. I’d always be sat on one side. Seating, fixed and arranged, typical controlled interview scene – I later came to understand this. Very rigid instructions given to all these apparatchik so I came to spot their text book techniques. Forcing people to follow these rigid rules in th hend defeated its own purposes. Because the interrogee would recognise the technique and be able to counteract. Always a security guard. Even when the tea was served in samovar – Russian green tea, poued into a glass, held in a little metal glass-holder with a handle. Sugar always in very hard lumps. So when the tea was served we’d always end up sitting in exactly the same place ( even after getting up for a stretch). Coffee always served in the Turkish fashion, brought to the boil three times, has to be watched, deflates, sugar added? Three times to the boil – again very rigid, a la Turque.
The staff mirrored the Nick’s move – they’d rise and fall according to his moods – so when he was angry or ill-tempered they would behave in exactly the same way – so you got this sense of a collective will that it would be futile to oppose challenge or irritate.
Kavarma – a hot earthenware squares of meat in a tasty sauce, moussaka as a hot pot stew, shopska salad – all introduced to me at this restaurant. At the foreign currency bar.
Brandy + champagne.
bow tie, fluffed up sleeves, sash, and cuff protectors
BORIS – the mercenary that John must tell m about.
The reason why Nina and I did not join in was the brutal way the Bulgarian barman took the Bulgarian courier, who very attractive, young. He screwed her. Right there and then, in front ofu, no foreplay, drinks- semi-friendly wrestling, then .. being made witnesses to a very nasty rape. Nina and I were both put off. In the courier’s room. Nina was sharing the courier’s room.
With Nick's encouragement and knowledge, I made a date and went out with a Bulgarian girl, who I think worked as a sort of courier, and a German girl who was sharing the courier's room. We went out and we had a nice time and I got friendly with this German woman; she was quite attractive and things went on from there.
I told [the Daily Express] that sometime in 1973 I had played a part in the discovery by the KGB that a Soviet bloc agent named Gunter Guillaume who was employed as a private secretary to Herr Willy Brandt [Chancellor of West Germany] had been identified by Western security services as a spy and was under close observation in the hope of identifying his contacts. I [said] that all the account I had read about this incident were incorrect. Guillaume had been identified as a KGB officer by Chapman Pincher and other writers and his eventual arrest was described as a successful operation, inasmuch as the KGB had not been aware of his discovery and the subsequent observation of him before his arrest.
This incident was regarded as a triumph for British intelligence who had apparently originally supplied the West Germans with the information about Guillaume and Chapman Pincher attempted to draw some conclusions regarding this British success.... I [said] I was in a position to show that the above supposition was incorrect and that in truth Guillaume had been an East German intelligence officer who had not been under the control of the KGB and that the KGB to my knowledge had known that Guillaume was under the observation of Western intelligence officers for a period of many months before his actual arrest.
I could identify the source of information in W Germany regarding the observation on G nad I had received information subsequently that the KGB had informed the E Germans that their agent was under observation and would be arrested and advised his immediate withdrawal. The E Germans had ignored this advice and the arrest of G brought about the loss of office of Brandt. The Soviet Union had apparently been displeased about the fall of Brandt which they felt could have been avoided if the E Germans had taken their advice, and I understand that the E German leader who was also in control of the Secret Police was summoned to Moscow and severely censored by Brezhnev in respect of this matter.
BBC INTERVIEW Transcript
And then this woman told me that her husband was involved with West German security and he was engaged on a big job at the moment. They were watching a spy to see who his contacts were and he couldn't get away - he'd told her to go and have a holiday by herself. [The spy proved to be the communist agent placed in the office of the German chancellor Willy Brandt].
And so I told Nick that, and the next thing was they wanted me to go to Bonn to find the girl and to take her to East Berlin, and to find out more about it. So here I am, a complete rookie spy, you know, on a sort-of probation, and I've immediately stumbled on such a revelation. I was given all sorts of instructions - you know, if I needed help to make a mark on a lamppost here; if I met somebody he would say something to me and I would reply in a certain way and so on.
And I met this girl, we went off to West Berlin, and I think they wanted me there for a reason. They wanted to see more about this girl. They wanted to record our conversations and perhaps film us. It was like living in a spy novel. This was when I first realised that the whole business was a game. Because it ended up we were all going into pubs and clubs and everyone was drinking and it all became a wonderful sort of booze-up. We had West German and East German blocs there - singing and drinking and eating giant sausages.
It was my very first job, and it was just pure luck, because it ended up this huge success, and I was commended for this. I was invited to continue living in Bulgaria and to do similar jobs around the world. I was taught how to be a better lover. Or perhaps I wasn't a very good one before and needed instruction. It was very pleasant - two extremely beautiful girls came to teach me. And so I used to go off and try to meet and seduce girls, various girls in various embassies.
I had to have basic training. For example, going off to foreign countries, I had to be told how to make contact, how to find drops for leaving information or picking information up. How to do secret writing using a mirror or a glass-fronted picture and impregnated paper and writing on little squared paper - you know, full stops, separate space and so on. And what sort of pencil to use and pressure to put on and all that sort of business.
I was given a full what they called a legend to fit whatever passport I was using. I was all different nationalities and had all sorts of backgrounds which I had to learn - quite often backgrounds to make me more interesting to the target girl. The thing is, it was a game. Everything was a game. Everyone was doing it. The British were putting out secretaries as bait. And then Russians were doing it, Americans were doing it, we were doing it, the French were doing it, Germans were doing it.
The thing is that I was never a great womaniser. Normal, I would say - slightly less than normal probably. In fact, I had a long-term relationship with a girlfriend who did think there was something wrong with me, because it went on for some months and I made no attempt to rush her into bed. So obviously someone decided that my techniques should be improved - not just a matter of jumping into bed and jumping out again five minutes later. They sent me very beautiful girls for training. Obviously they're the only people that could train me, and I was trained in all sorts of things. Because of my size and all the rest of it, I was trained that it wasn't a good idea to get on top of people - you know, different positions and whatnot and to be a careful, patient, considerate lover.
It really was work. It wasn't just for my pleasure, sexual pleasure. It was part of a long drawn-out process to ensnare that woman and to make her feel I was the only man in the world for her to eventually get papers out of her safe for me or whatever.
How many did I have sex with or affairs with? Oh well, hundreds. Hundreds, but I would say that there were several every month over an eight-year period which were jobs, you know. Take them slowly and carefully - studied. Studied their likes, dislikes, woo them. And then seduce them. And then try to get them to betray their country.
They used to invite you to Moscow. And when you went to Moscow, you went to a nice hotel that had a very nice television which had a camera inside it. Also there was a very thick bathroom door with a mirror with another camera inside that. When you went there, to Moscow, you always had a very nice time, but there was always a price to pay. When in Moscow I was always getting asked to do favours by the local Moscow department of the KGB.
The Moscow KGB were very much like our English CID - corrupt, rough, tough, punch you in the face and then claim that you tried to attack them. And they were not too bright. Not having access to foreign agents, they used to ask favours, you know. Can you get one of your chaps, Englishmen, to go after this girl or whatever? And I was given a card which got me into the British embassy social club and a description of a woman who had been noticed and regarded as being lonely and sad, and it was known that she had an important job as secretary to one of the top people.
And I was asked to approach her and to make friends with her and to see what happens. In other words, was she a plant? And so this particular lady used to like the opera and the ballet and whatnot, and because I'd just returned from Africa and didn't have much in the way of togs, I was equipped with a new suit - slightly too small, but I've still got the jacket of it.
[I was told that during the performance] she'd be sitting in such and such a seat and a good time to talk to her was during the break when she would go and have a lemonade in the bar. And so I made her acquaintance and she was a very very nice lady and she was genuine. She really was sad and lonely. And she wasn't a plant. And we had a nice time. We made friends and I was given roubles to entertain her, and I bought her some very nice amber jewellery. She was a very nice girl. I've thought about her since then.
[I decided to stop because] I was becoming more and more known. The Americans made several attempts to snatch me. I was becoming a nuisance to them because I'd been chasing their girls all over the world.
I think what turned the land was I was put up to chasing the wife of the American CIA resident in Tanzania. He was a bit of a womaniser, apparently, and he had a sort-of lonely wife left behind who used to wander up and down this beach and occasionally go into the [local] hotel for lobster and what-not, and someone spotted that and I was put up to chasing her. And they took exception to that, I think, and on my return from Tanzania that time I was accompanied by an American snatch squad who were obviously going to snatch me off the plane at the other end. But, fortunately for me, the plane was flying to Ethiopia, which of course was full of my friends, so on the plane we had these large bulky-looking Americans pushing around, and when we got off the plane I had all sorts of even larger Russian types.
That's how silly it had got. I had a lot of trouble from the Australians in a Singapore bar when I was talking to an Australian girl out of their embassy. I'd had enough.
So as soon as I came home, I admitted I had been working for the KGB. I'd fallen into their clutches and they'd used me for these sort of minor tasks but I had gathered a little bit of maybe useful information and I was prepared to cooperate and really help. But what happened was that our intelligence people decided not to interview me but to rubbish me.
I was never debriefed. I offered myself for debriefing. I said my name's John Symonds, I used to work for the KGB, I know all these people in the KGB and I kept my ears open and I heard this and I heard that and all the rest of it - maybe I can help you? [Their reaction was] oh get away you.
[Do I have any regrets?] Well, I didn't do anything really, you know. What did I do? I just had a nice life. I'd say join the KGB, see the world - first class. I went to all over the world on these jobs and I had a marvellous time. I stayed in the best hotels, I visited all the best beaches, I've had access to beautiful women, unlimited food, champagne, caviar whatever you like and I had a wonderful time. That was my KGB experience. I don't regret a minute of it because I'd been forced into being a fugitive, to live off my wits abroad.
What harm came from it? Who did I hurt? The only people I hurt was the Metropolitan police, and I think that no one wanted to debrief me was because they knew that as a result of my dossier getting into KGB hands, all sorts of people had or could have been recruited including not only senior police officers but other senior people and I don't think... I think they wanted to keep the lid on that."
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