One of the partisan detachments during the Great Patriotic War
Many citizens who were born in the USSR, and even those who were born after the collapse of the Land of the Soviets, watched the feature film “Shield and Sword”. The four-part feature film was shot in 1968 and played very well at the box office. The picture was watched by over 135 million people. Then none of the audience of the film knew that the prototype of the intelligence officer Alexander Belov was Alexander Panteleimonovich Svyatogorov, one of the outstanding Soviet intelligence officers during the Great Patriotic War and the first post-war years.
How an employee of “Zaporizhstal” became a Chekist
Alexander Svyatogorov was born on December 15, 1913 in an ordinary working-class family in the city of Kharkov. In his hometown, the future scout first graduated from school, and then from a technical school, after which he worked for a long time at the Zaporizhstal plant. Since 1932, Alexander Svyatogorov worked at the enterprise, first as a foreman, then as a shift supervisor and finally as a shop manager, having managed to build a fairly successful working career. According to the recollections of his son, during the years of work he was both a leader in production and a Stakhanovite, and even came up with one technical innovation that allowed him to optimize the work process: one person could do the work of four workers on the conveyor.
The son also recalled that Alexander Svyatogorov was fond of sports, although he never differed in his heroic physique, height – 175 cm, shoe size – 42. At the same time, Svyatogorov had an excellent reaction and a good sense of humor. A civilian with a technical education who built a good career in manufacturing, he never studied the art of intelligence, but ended up in the ranks of the NKVD. It happened in the late 1930s.
At the same time, Alexander Svyatogorov himself recalled that he witnessed the repressions unfolding during these years, when every now and then not only the heads of the shops, but also ordinary workers disappeared from the plant. They summoned Svyatogorov to the NKVD and asked him to testify against a worker from Zaporizhstal named Melnichuk, who, under torture, confessed that he was a Japanese spy. In turn, Alexander Svyatogorov knew him exclusively as a decent and honest person, an ordinary hard worker from the countryside. During interrogation as a witness, Svyatogorov refused to slander an innocent person and recognize him as an enemy of the people. As a result, Melnichuk was still released, and Svyatogorov, most likely, was remembered as a person who did not coward and did not testify against an innocent person.
Perhaps this story also played a role when Svyatogorov was invited to work in the state security agencies in 1939. The NKVD needed new cadres, competent and well-educated specialists. By that time, the organs themselves had been cleansed. Yezhov and many employees who took part in the great terror were shot, it was necessary to renew the staff. So Svyatogorov, quite unexpectedly for himself, became a Chekist. Among other things, he was engaged in the consideration of cases of previously arrested people, prepared his conclusions on various cases. Thanks to this, some of those arrested were released. At the same time, Svyatogorov studied foreign languages and studied the basics of operational work, all these skills will be useful to him already during the Great Patriotic War.
The liquidation of the chief of the Kharkiv garrison
Alexander Panteleimonovich met the beginning of the war in Zaporozhye, where he continued to work almost until the surrender of the city. At this time, NKVD officers were involved in operations to search for German saboteurs and parachutists, restore order in the rear of the Red Army troops, mine and prepare for the explosion of important urban industrial and infrastructure facilities. In addition to saboteurs, the Chekists had to fight with looters. Once they managed to detain the head of the savings bank, who was trying to hide with sacks full of money that he took from work.
After the mining of strategic objects in Zaporozhye, Svyatogorov left at the disposal of the state security captain Leonov, who took over as head of the 1st Directorate (intelligence) of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR. This department was responsible for the creation of an agent network in the territory occupied by the Germans, and also oversaw the preparation of reconnaissance and sabotage groups and their transfer over the front line to the rear of the enemy. The administration was especially active in the regions of Kharkov and Voroshilovgrad (Lugansk). Only on the territory of the Zaporozhye region, with the participation of the 1st Directorate of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR, 59 partisan detachments were created with a total number of more than 2,600 people. All of them were transferred to the rear of the enemy and were actively operating in the occupied territory.
It is believed that with the participation of Alexander Svyatogorov, an agent network was organized in Kharkov, and mining of important objects was carried out: bridges, factories and individual buildings. Among other things, the Khrushchev House was also mined. A solid brick mansion in which Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine, lived in the pre-war years. The building was mined by saboteurs under the leadership of a well-known mine explosives expert Ilya Starinov. The calculation of the Soviet side fully justified itself, the high German authorities chose the mansion for their accommodation. The headquarters of the commander of the 68th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht, Major General Georg Braun, was located in the building.
Alexander Svyatogorov in the first years of service
Taught by the bitter experience of Kiev, the Germans examined all the buildings that were going to occupy. But in the mansion they found only the bait left by the Soviet miners, a powerful land mine in the basement. At the same time, the real radio-controlled mine was deeper, its German sappers safely overlooked. The agents left in the city monitored the movement of Brown, who was the head of the Kharkov garrison. When the general drove into the mansion and arranged a reception, information about this became known to Svyatogorov, who passed it on to Starinov, who activated an explosive device with a capacity of at least 350 kg in TNT equivalent. The activation was carried out using a radio signal, which was transmitted to the city from Voronezh. As a result of a terrible explosion, the mansion was destroyed, General Georg Brown himself, two officers of the division headquarters, as well as 10 privates and non-commissioned officers of the headquarters (almost all clerks) died under the rubble. There were also seriously wounded, among them the chief of the reconnaissance department of the 68th Infantry Division.
In February 1942, when Leonov died, his adjutant Svyatogorov actually continued the work he had begun. He himself studied hard and was engaged in the further preparation of saboteurs for throwing into the German rear. Alexander Svyatogorov was engaged in this work until the liberation of Kiev by Soviet troops in November 1943. After that, he himself was appointed commander of a reconnaissance and sabotage group, which was transferred to the territory of Poland in the Lublin Voivodeship.
Liquidation of the Lublin intelligence school of the Abwehr
In the Lublin Voivodeship, Svyatogorov’s sabotage and reconnaissance group got used to it quickly enough, choosing as its base one of the partisan detachments operating on the territory. On the territory of Poland, the group trained intelligence officers, invented various legends for them and supplied them with German documents, which were prepared by a separate specialist. Svyatogorov sent trained agents to various enemy services, where they obtained intelligence, carried out sabotage and murder of high-ranking German officials.
From 1944 to 1945 he took part in reconnaissance and sabotage activities in Poland and Slovakia. The scouts’ success was the defeat of the 14th SS Grenadier Division “Galicia”, which was recruited from Ukrainian volunteers. The division was not so much noted in the battles at the front as it stained itself in numerous war crimes against civilians in various European countries. In battles with the Red Army, it was defeated in July 1944 near Brody. The remnants of the division, including numerous deserters, fled west. Some of these fighters reached the partisan detachment, which included Svyatogorov.
Some of them were recruited and introduced into the Lublin intelligence school, thanks to which Soviet intelligence received a lot of useful information. Including personal photos of the saboteurs trained at the school. At the same time, Svyatogorov himself appeared several times in Lublin in the uniform of a German officer, but was not at the school itself, carrying out general management and coordination of operations. When the scout learned that the school was attended by the chief of the Lublin Gestapo Akkardt, he decided to conduct a raid, which proved to be successful. The intelligence school was defeated and Accardt was killed. At the same time, the scouts got valuable documents that were transferred to Moscow and helped to neutralize some of the saboteurs already transported across the front line. At about the same time, Svyatogorov began to act under the pseudonym Major Zorich, which he retained during operations in Slovakia. The pseudonym was taken in honor of the deceased Serbian friend Svyatogorov, who saved his life.
Another famous operation organized by Svyatogorov was the capture of Walter Feilengauer, assistant chief of the Abwehr, personal representative of Admiral Canaris. Hauptmann Feilengauer was taken to Lublin, where he arrived with his mistress and personal secretary, Sofia Sontag. At this time, a scout from Svyatogorov’s detachment, Pole Stanislav Rokich, who was fluent in German, was already operating in the city. He was in the city as the Hauptmann of the German army with documents in the name of Friedrich Krause. In Lublin, he met the German translator and typist Taisia Brook, who turned out to be Sontag’s longtime friend. When this became known, Alexander Svyatogorov decided to implement a daring plan. In a short time, Krause’s wedding with Brook was played out, to which Sontag was invited.
Knowing that Feilengauer was jealous, the scouts hoped that he would also come to the ceremony, and so it happened. As a result, Canaris’ personal representative was taken alive at a rigged wedding, on which Soviet intelligence officers spent several thousand zlotys. But the event paid off completely, since the information received from Feilengauer was invaluable.
Later, Alexander Svyatogorov carried out sabotage and intelligence activities on the territory of Slovakia, was engaged in the release of the Czechoslovak communists from imprisonment, and participated in the organization of the Slovak national uprising. He acted in the area of Banská Bystrica, where he landed as part of a sabotage detachment of 12 people on October 16, 1944. The detachment joined with the partisans of Alexei Yegorov and operated under the name “Foreign”. Alexander Svyatogorov celebrated Victory Day in Slovakia, in Bratislava.
Post-war service of Alexander Svyatogorov
After the war, as a person who knows the Slovak language well, Svyatogorov, after an internship, ended up in Bratislava as vice-consul of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was only a legal cover for intelligence work. From 1948 he worked in Berlin. Here he acted under the legend of a “defector”, supervising operational activities. Svyatogorov carried out general management of the local residency until 1961, after which he was recalled to Moscow. This was largely due to the fact that the KGB agent, the direct executor of the murder of Stepan Bandera, Bogdan Stashinsky, fled to West Berlin.
Alexander Svyatogorov in the form of a diplomatic officer
This was a serious blunder for Soviet intelligence, which affected the fate of many security officers working in the GDR. So Svyatogorov actually ended his career. He even managed to sit in Lefortovo, but was acquitted and released. At the same time, the head of the KGB of Ukraine found a position for Alexander Panteleimonovich at the Institute of Cybernetics of the National Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, where Svyatogorov worked for a long time, overseeing the creation of codes and ciphers, as well as providing counterintelligence support for these activities. The famous Soviet intelligence officer died on June 22, 2008, six months before his 95th birthday. He was buried in Kiev at the memorial Baikovo cemetery.