w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update – 18:17 09/03/2006
By Yossi Melman
On the afternoon of Friday, April 13, 1956, Zelig Katz entered the office of Amos Manor, which was located in an Arab building opposite the flea market in Jaffa. Manor was the head of the Shin Bet security service. Zelig Katz, who had Hebraized his name (as was usual at that time) to Ziv Carmi, was his assistant and bureau chief. In an exclusive interview with Haaretz, Manor recollects the exchange of words that took place some 50 years ago.
Manor: Has the material arrived from Eastern Europe?
Carmi: Yes. Material has arrived from Warsaw.
Manor: Is there anything interesting?
Carmi: There’s some speech by Khrushchev from the congress.
Manor (shouting): What? Where’s the material?
Carmi: In my room.
Manor: Bring it immediately.
Carmi rushed to his room and returned with 70 photographed pages in Polish. "I said to him, you’re an idiot," says Manor. "You are now holding in your hand one of the most important secrets in the world." Manor’s astonishment and anger further increased when he discovered that the speech had been sent from the Shin Bet representative in Warsaw with a Foreign Ministry courier, three days earlier. "I said to Zelig, call Duvid and tell him to come here at once."
Duvid was David Schweitzer, a soccer player for Hapoel Tel Aviv who years later became the coach of the Israel national team; he was then in charge of the Shin Bet photo lab. Manor asked Carmi to translate the text for him. "The further he progressed in the translation, the more I cursed," he says. "Good grief, I said to myself."
Within a short time Schweitzer arrived. "I told him to photograph one copy and develop it as fast as possible – I have to bring it to Ben-Gurion." The photo and development took about two hours. While he was waiting for it, his wife Tzipora called. She was used to unconventional work hours and to her husband’s absence, and she asked when he was coming home.
At 6 P.M., twilight, Manor got into his Vauxhall and immediately drove to the home of the prime minister on Keren Kayemet (today Ben-Gurion) Boulevard in Tel Aviv. "I came to Ben-Gurion and told him, we have Krushchev’s speech from the 20th Party Conference. I don’t know whether it’s authentic. We got the speech from one of our sources in Warsaw, who got it from a woman who worked for [Polish Communist leader Wladyslaw] Gomulka."
But as we know, the secretary, the friend of journalist Viktor Grayevsky, who obtained the speech, was the secretary of [Polish prime minister] Edward Ochab, rather than Gomulka.
Manor smiles. "I thought at the time that it was Gomulka. I also told Ben-Gurion that I didn’t know whether the source was a double agent who had leaked the speech as disinformation, or whether the speech was original, but had been deliberately leaked to us, so that it would reach the West. ‘Judging by what was translated for me, I have the impression that it’s authentic, but I suggest that you read it yourself.’ Ben-Gurion knew Polish. I remember that he asked me three times what disinformation meant, and three times I explained to him. I left him a copy and departed."
Manor returned from there to his house in north Tel Aviv. The next morning the phone rang and he was asked to return to the house on Keren Kayemet. "Ben-Gurion said: ‘If it’s authentic, it’s an historic document, and 30 years from now there will be a liberal regime in Moscow.’ He returned the material to me without telling me what to do with it."
On Sunday, April 15, when he returned to his office, Amos Manor told the head of the Mossad, Isser Harel, about the document. "I told him, if it’s authentic, it’s an atomic bomb. I told him about the conversation with Ben-Gurion, and that I had decided to send the copy immediately to the CIA, but to maintain the utmost secrecy, I preferred that it be flown to Izzy Dorot, our representative in Washington, rather than being handed over to the CIA representative in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. I enclosed a letter with the document, in which I asked Izzy to give the material personally to Jim Angleton, and to emphasize repeatedly that I was not certain about the authenticity of the material, and that they should examine it carefully."
That same day, the document was sent to Washington via Foreign Ministry courier. Two days later, on April 17, the document landed on the desk of CIA chief Allen Dulles, who quickly informed President Dwight Eisenhower. That same day, Angleton called Amos Manor. James Jesus Angleton was the CIA’s head of counterintelligence, and in charge of the clandestine liaison with Israeli intelligence. "He told me it was of utmost importance, and asked me to identify the source who had provided the speech. I replied: ‘Jim, we have an agreement between us that we do not reveal sources of information, and the agreement applies to this case as well,’" Manor says.
Years later, Angleton told Manor that the CIA had enlisted its top experts, as well as leading Sovietologists from the academic world, to examine the speech and determine whether it was an original document or a fake. For that purpose, they even sent a copy of the speech to be perused by the U.S. ambassador in Moscow.
Shock and disbelief
The secret speech was delivered on February 25, 1956, in the evening. The 1,400 delegates at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were suddenly invited to a final, closed session, in the Central Committee building in Moscow. The representatives of the foreign delegations were not allowed to enter the hall. When Nikita Khrushchev, the party’s first secretary, began to speak, the delegates could hardly believe their ears. Some of them fainted from shock. Without any prior preparation, Khrushchev began a sharp and unprecedented attack on his predecessor, Joseph Stalin, who had died three years earlier.
During the four hours of his speech – 26,000 words – Khrushchev described Stalin as a "despot," condemned the "cult of personality," and accused him of "crimes that caused cruel violence." He criticized Stalin for "most cruel repression," for inventing the concept of "an enemy of the people," and determined that he "had severely distorted the principles of the party."
Immediately after the speech, the delegates scattered, without any discussion taking place. But word of the secret speech spread quickly. Officials cited from it at party meetings, and it began to engineer a process of reforms. First hints of a secret, historic speech delivered at the Soviet Communist Party congress reached the West a few days later. The U.S. administration, as well as the governments of Britain, West Germany, France and others, were eager to learn the contents of the speech. The assignment, naturally, was given to the intelligence organizations. But the Israeli Shin Bet beat out all the others.
Two weeks after the Americans received the speech from Israel, Angleton once again contacted Manor and informed him that the experts had come to the conclusion that it was an original and authentic document. "Jim was in seventh heaven," says Manor. "He asked my permission to publish the material. I went again to Ben-Gurion and asked for his opinion. Ben-Gurion told me that he understood the Americans, because this was a document of historic importance, and gave his consent. I informed Jim of the decision, but asked him not to mention us as the source. We didn’t want to be involved."
The relations between Israel and the Soviet Union were already very poor, because of Soviet support for Egypt, and the Israeli leadership was afraid of a Soviet reaction that was liable to harm not only Israel, but the Jews of the Soviet Union as well. After a few weeks’ hesitation, the CIA leaked the speech to The New York Times in early June; the newspaper published it in full. The publication caused a worldwide sensation, and the speech became a central propaganda tool in American foreign policy. It was broadcast in many languages on Radio Free Europe, whose broadcasts from Germany were beamed to the Soviet Union and its satellites. Tens of thousands of copies of the speech, in many languages, including Georgian, were distributed from hot-air balloons that were sent eastward from Germany and Austria. In the opinion of CIA experts, the uprising in Hungary in October 1956 was a direct result of the dissemination of the speech.
Allen Dulles, in his 1963 book "The Craft of Intelligence," wrote that he considered obtaining the speech one of the most important intelligence coups during his term in office. Manor has a copy of the book, with a personal dedication from the author, who describes him as a "true professional."
For years, many people – journalists, secret agents, diplomats, officials – tried to take the credit. Even Isser Harel, the first chief of the Shin Bet and the head of the Mossad during the period in question, tried by implication to take credit for the achievement. "During that period we provided our American colleagues with an important document, which is considered one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of intelligence," he wrote in his book, "Security and Democracy" (Hebrew, 1989).
The Shin Bet and the Mossad secretly made sure that Israel would get the credit for the success. In October 1956, about nine months after the 20th Congress, British intelligence had not yet succeeded in getting their hands on an original copy of the speech. On the eve of the Sinai Campaign, Manor met with Nicholas Elliot, the MI6 representative in Israel. Manor: "He asked me, ‘Can you get a copy of the speech for me, too?’ I asked him, ‘How do you know we have it?’ He said, ‘At first we thought that the Yugoslavs had leaked the speech, but later on we came to the conclusion that it was you.’ I said to him, ‘Don’t ask me about my relations with the other services,’ and I refused."
But while many people knew or guessed that the speech had been obtained by the Israeli intelligence community, the identity of Viktor Grayevsky, the agent who had obtained the speech while putting himself in danger, remained a secret (see box). Only in the early 1990s was this fact published separately by the present writer and by journalist Shlomo Nakdimon in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
Obtaining the speech and transmitting it to the Americans was one of the high points of Operation Balsam – the secret cooperation with the CIA, which had begun several years earlier. "To this day," Manor believes, "it remains the greatest intelligence-gathering achievement for the Israeli intelligence community. In terms of politics, it was an historic document. It put us on the map of the world intelligence community."
From the hell of Auschwitz
The career of Amos Manor is no less amazing than this achievement. At the age of 35, eight years after being rescued from the hell of Auschwitz and Mauthausen, weighing 40 kilograms, the new immigrant was appointed to head the Shin Bet. But Manor hates superlatives. His condition for giving this interview was that his picture would not appear on the cover of the magazine, and he asked that the interview not be "schmaltz and kitsch." According to his own testimony, this is his first full interview in the media, after he was interviewed 12 years ago for Yarin Kimor’s film on Israel Television’s Channel One. Today, at the age of 88, he continues to be active in business (among other things, he is a partner in a hotel management firm) and in meetings of Shin Bet veterans, and he has a phenomenal memory for all the details.
He was born Artur Mandelvici in the town of Sighet, Transylvania in October 1918, about a month before the end of the First World War. His well-to-do family provided him with a fine education. At the age of 16, he was among the founders of the Zionist Habonim movement in Transylvania. Afterward he studied engineering in the city of Limoges, France.
In 1940, the region where he lived was transferred from Romania to Hungary, and he was drafted into the Hungarian army, where Jews served without uniform, and were in effect employed in forced labor to build ditches and fortifications. In May 1944, Manor was sent together with his entire family on the first transport of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. His parents, his two brothers and his sister were murdered. He survived 360 days, during which he was transferred from Auschwitz to the Mauthausen camp in Austria.
Upon his return to Romania, he joined the Mossad l’Aliyah Bet (the Institute for Illegal Immigration), which organized illegal immigration to Palestine. In 1949, after the founding of the state, he immigrated to Israel and considered joining a kibbutz, but his commander in Aliyah Bet, Moshe Carmel and the head of the organization, Shaul Avigur, introduced him to Isser Harel, the head of the Shin Bet. "Isser made a strange impression on me," says Manor. "He was very secretive. He gave me a phone number, but he didn’t tell me where his office was." When they met, Harel told him, "I was impressed by you," and suggested that he head the department for Soviet bloc activity.
What about you impressed him, in your opinion?
"I was young, I had a university education, I spoke seven languages (Romanian, Hungarian, Yiddish, Hebrew, English, French and German), I looked athletic and European."
Two days after the first meeting with Harel, he was taken to Shin Bet headquarters in the Jaffa flea market. There, on the second floor, he met with the members of his department.
We were dilettantes
Department was an exaggeration. Manor found one worker, a secretary and two female soldiers. "We began to work, but everything was compartmentalized, and I wasn’t familiar with other parts of the service. One day, Isser introduced me to Ezra Lavi of Hadera, who was the director of the Communist section. He wanted me to learn from him."
Lavi was in charge of the surveillance and monitoring of the Israel Communist Party (Maki). The Shin Bet was divided into departments at the time. Lavi worked in one department, which was responsible for internal matters, mainly political spying against parties, organizations and people whom Harel considered hostile or dangerous elements to the young Israeli democracy – and Harel was suspicious of many people. Manor worked in Department 2, which eventually turned into the department for preventing espionage and subversion, which today is better known as the "Jewish Department." Ten months later, Harel promoted Manor to head of the department – in charge of preventing espionage.
What did you actually do?
"They didn’t teach me what to do. Gradually I taught myself. We observed and surveilled diplomats from the Communist bloc. We tried to understand who was really a diplomat and who was an intelligence agent. Of course we lacked experience, whereas opposite us were people who had taken courses and had tremendous operational experience."
How was that reflected?
"They knew how to identify the surveillance and to evade it. It was a kind of game of amateurs vs. professionals. We were also very poor. We had no money. Only a few cars were available to the small operations unit, so how could we even work? In all, they made us a laughingstock. But what worked in our favor was the fact that we were dilettantes, and we were eager to succeed and to improve. Slowly but surely, we learned how to identify intelligence people. We followed them, we also carried out covert infiltration, and we began to achieve results.
What was the most important achievement during those years?
"When I was department head, we assumed that the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc were helping Maki financially, and we decided to discover how it was done. By chance we discovered an attempt by Eastern Europe to purchase in Israel merchandise whose sale had been embargoed by the United States – copper, various metals, electrolytes et al. We discovered that Israeli merchants of Polish, Romanian or Czech origin tried to buy forbidden merchandise in the West, and to bring it to the Soviet Union and to Eastern Europe via Israel."
How did you discover that?
"By undercover penetration of those companies and businessmen. And with the help of censorship of letters that entered and left the country. We opened the letters, we read and photographed them. That’s how information accumulated. And then we called on the merchants, I personally met with several of them, and convinced them that for the sake of Israel, they had to stop. They obeyed and cooperated."
In May 1951, Prime Minister Ben Gurion went on an unofficial trip to the U.S., at the invitation of Jewish organizations. He used the visit for a clandestine meeting with General Walter Bedell-Smith, the head of the CIA. Until then, the Americans had rejected every Israeli request to establish a clandestine liaison between the two countries, for fear that its discovery would harm their ties with the Arab world. Another reason for the American reservations was the fear that Israel – because of the kibbutzim, the immigration from Eastern Europe and the socialist parties – was a branch of the Soviet Union, and permeated with its agents.
"Ben-Gurion very much wanted a liaison with the CIA, but Bedell-Smith was hesitant," says Manor. "In the end he agreed, on condition that it would be super-secret. Ben-Gurion promised to maintain the secrecy." After Manor succeeded in exposing false reports by a Mossad agent in Vienna, Mossad chief Reuven Shiloah suggested that Manor transfer to the Mossad and be responsible for the secret liaison that had just been established with the CIA.
"Isser Harel objected," says Manor. "And Isser was very stubborn." But Shiloah did not give in, and presented the problem to Ben-Gurion. The prime minister decided that Manor would remain in the Shin Bet, but would hold the intelligence community’s American portfolio.
How was the connection maintained?
"They told me that I had to gather information about the Soviet bloc and transmit it to them. I didn’t know exactly what to do, until I had the idea of giving them the material we had gathered about a year earlier, about the efforts of the Eastern bloc to use Israel to bypass the American embargo. We edited the material, made the necessary erasures, and informed them that they should never ask us to identify sources. We also made a rule, that we would never give them names of Israelis. The report was sent to Washington, and the reaction was unanticipated – great enthusiasm. They asked us to gather more and more material for them."
What did they ask for?
"Anything we could get about Eastern Europe. Sometimes I didn’t understand why they needed us. They asked for Romanian money, telephone directories and maps of cities, and even the price of bread in the Eastern bloc countries."
And how did you manage to get the information?
"We conducted friendly interrogation of new immigrants who arrived in the country. And to our surprise, we discovered that they had interesting material. One had been a party activist, and another had worked in an industrial or military plant. Of course we mainly tried to get military information, from the construction of ships in the Romanian port of Constanza, to Soviet weapons that reached the Romanian or Polish army. Everything was conducted in absolute secrecy, and even in the Shin Bet they didn’t know about it. There were perhaps four people who were in on the secret of the operation: I, my secretary Zelig Katz, Isser and Zvi Aharoni, who carried out the interrogations."
What was the code name of the liaison operation?
"Balsam. I think that either my secretary Zelig or Isser gave it that name."
Who worked with you on behalf of the CIA?
"At first I didn’t know. Until early in 1952, when Shiloah and Teddy (Kollek) told me that Jim Angleton was in charge of the liaison with Israel. But they didn’t know exactly what his job was at the CIA. And then one day in April 1952 he came to Israel. I greeted him at the airport in Lod, together with Reuven Shiloah. He stayed at the Sharon Hotel in Herzliya, which at the time was the only five-star hotel, but he spent most of the time in my little two-room apartment on Pinsker Street.
"Out of seven days, he spent four with me. He would arrive at 11 P.M. and stay until 4 A.M., and then I would drive him back to the hotel. My wife was in the next room, and from time to time she served coffee. He brought a bottle of whiskey with him, and drank all the time, but he never got drunk. I didn’t understand how a person could drink so much without getting drunk. I myself didn’t drink, and he came to terms with that."
What was your impression of him?
"That he was fanatic about everything. He had a tendency toward mystification. Eventually, after maybe 30 years, he told me why he had really come to Israel. He had understood from Teddy that I, a new immigrant from Romania, was conducting Operation Balsam, and that terrified him."
He suspected that you were a Communist agent?
"Yes. He actually came to examine me. That was the reason why he, the chief of counterintelligence, was in charge of the liaison. They suspected us. But at the end of the visit I felt that he had a positive impression, and he told Teddy and Shiloah that he was pleased to have me in charge of the operation."
And what happened afterward?
"I asked Angleton, and he agreed to organize an in-service intelligence course for some of our guys. In October 1952, six of our people went to take the course, but they weren’t satisfied, because they were taught theory. To calm things down, Jim sent me two plane tickets, for myself and my wife, so I would come to Washington. I came and reassured the guys.
"Jim tried to ensure that I had a pleasant stay, I met with him a few times in the hotel. He also showed me a new device called a lie detector. I asked him to let one of the students in the course, Zvi Aharoni (a few years later, a member of the group that captured Adolf Eichmann), travel to Chicago to study with the inventor. Jim agreed. Zvi traveled to Chicago and returned with a polygraph machine, which he had received as a gift from Jim. That was the first such device in Israel."
Did you get other gifts from the CIA?
"I told Jim that we were weak on technology, so they gave us microphones, wiretapping equipment for telephones, cameras. But aside from that, we didn’t ask for anything in return. We didn’t ask them for information, because we were afraid that they would ask us for information about the Arab world.
"In 1954 Jim invited me for another visit, and asked me to expand the information-gathering activity, going beyond the interrogation of new immigrants in Israel, to Eastern Europe itself. With considerable hesitation, we agreed. I personally recruited and briefed a number of people and sent them to be our representatives in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest. But I didn’t agree to send people to Moscow, because I was afraid they would be caught. That’s how I recruited Yaakov Barmor, who was working at the time at the tax bureau of the Histadrut labor federation, and was sent to Warsaw. My instructions to the people were: ‘Don’t endanger yourselves, look for ties that you can maintain as diplomats, and try to get people to give you political information.’ I didn’t even dream of military information."
This expansion of Operation Balsam took place after Harel was appointed head of the Mossad and appointed his bureau chief and assistant, Isidore Roth, who had Hebraized his name to Izzy Dorot, to head the Shin Bet. Manor: "In September or October of 1953 Isser called me in and told me: ‘Listen, I think we have to let Izzy go, and I’m proposing you for the job.’ I asked him, ‘Do you think there’s a chance Ben-Gurion will agree?’"
Why did you have doubts?
"Because I was a new immigrant, unknown and not a party member. I was different from the Mossad of that time. I was invited to a meeting with Ben-Gurion, who interrogated me for three hours. Two days later I was informed that the ‘Old Man’ had appointed me to the job."
How did you get along with Isser Harel for 10 years, until your retirement in 1963?
"People didn’t stop asking how two such different people worked together. I was born in a wealthy home and did not experience anti-Semitism; Isser came from a small town and arrived in Israel as a halutz (pioneer). I’m tall and he’s short. I was an active athlete, I played soccer, tennis, volleyball, I fenced, swam, ice-skated. I liked jazz, Isser didn’t even know what it was. He was a party member, I wasn’t. I read Haaretz, he read Davar [a now defunct left-wing daily]."
What kind of relationship did you have with him?
"He was the chief of the Mossad and of the committee of the heads of the security services, and I was the head of the Shin Bet. But I accepted him as first among equals. My relationship with Harel was very harmonious until 1960. Even if there were differences of opinion between us, that had no influence on operations. But in 1960 I began to notice a change in his behavior. He began to speak critically about Ben-Gurion. Slowly but surely I understood that he had been hurt by the fact that Ben-Gurion had promoted the young people – Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan and Abba Eban – and appointed them ministers, but had skipped over him.
"Our relationship also soured because of the affair of the German scientists. He began to operate contrary to Ben-Gurion’s policy, because the Old Man did not accept his crazy theories. Isser claimed that Chancellor Adenauer was playing a double game with Israel, and was presumably helping Nasser to develop atomic weapons. I thought that Adenauer was making every effort to restore Germany to the community of normal nations, and therefore there was no possibility that he would help Nasser attain atomic weapons.
"I saw that Isser had lost all sense of proportion. I told him: ‘Ben-Gurion doesn’t understand you, and I don’t understand you, either.’ Although relations between us remained correct, some of the friendliness was lost."
Did you order people killed as part of your job?
"We didn’t kill and we didn’t torture and we didn’t do anything illegal, neither to Jews nor to Arabs, aside from the issue of clandestine infiltrations."
Are there additional secrets from your period that have not been told?
"There is only more particularly sensitive thing that we did, which I’m not willing to discuss even today."
A brief encounter with history
"I acted on impulse," says Viktor Grayevsky, the man who voluntarily handed the Shin Bet one of the greatest successes in its history. "Today in hindsight I know that I was young and foolish. Had they discovered me, we wouldn’t be speaking today. I don’t know whether they would have killed me, but I certainly would have sat in prison for many years."
Grayevsky, 81, is retired from the Israel Broadcasting Authority. He immigrated to Israel from Poland in 1957. At the recommendation of Amos Manor, he joined the Foreign Ministry, worked on the international broadcasts of the Voice of Zion to the Diaspora, established the Russian-language broadcasting department, and later became director of the station.
During his first 15 years in Israel he continued to maintain a connection with the Shin Bet and was used for clandestine operations involving the Soviet Union. But he refuses to talk about it, offering only the following words: "I confronted the Soviet Union three times in my life – with the Khrushchev document, with the broadcasts, and with another affair that it’s still too early to talk about. Most of my life I fought the Soviet Union."
Born in 1925 in Krakow, his name was Viktor Spielman. Together with his family, he escaped to the Soviet Union with the outbreak of World War II, and thus his life was saved. In 1946 he returned to Poland, joined the Communist Party, studied journalism at the Academy of Political Science and joined the Polish news agency. "When I joined the party they told me that with a name like Spielman I wouldn’t go far, so I changed it to a Polish name – Grayevsky," which has a similar meaning, "to play an instrument," or "to act."
He began work as a junior reporter, and advanced to the rank of senior editor, responsible for the department handling the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies in Eastern Europe. "It was a position that opened the doors to the party and the government for me." In 1949, his parents and his sister immigrated to Israel. Grayevsky decided to remain in Poland. In December 1955 his father contracted a serious illness, and Grayevsky came to visit him. To organize the visit, he met with Yaakov Barmor, ostensibly the first secretary in the Israeli embassy in Warsaw, in fact a Shin Bet representative. "No, I didn’t know he was from intelligence. I thought he was a diplomat," he says.
The visit to Israel shook up his world view. Grayevsky became a Zionist. He returned to Poland, but he had made the decision to immigrate to Israel. About four months after his return from Israel he came, as usual, to the workplace of his girlfriend, Lucia Baranowski, to meet her for coffee. Baranowski, who was also Jewish, had fled during the war from the Lvov ghetto and joined the partisans, where she met her future husband. In the mid-1950s, she served for a short time as a junior secretary – actually a worker on loan – in the office of the first secretary of the Communist Party, Edward Ochab.
She was 35 years old, with one son. Her husband was the deputy prime minister of Poland. The couple lived in the same apartment, but separately. "Her marriage was not a success, and she was my girlfriend in every sense," says Grayevsky, then a 30-year-old bachelor. That same day, at 11 A.M., Baranowski was very busy and was unable to go out to the cafe. "Ochab’s office was in the headquarters of the partx’s Central Committee," he says. "Everyone knew me, the guards, the office workers, I was almost a member of the family there. While I was talking to Lucia, I noticed a thick booklet with a red binding, with the words: ‘The 20th Party Congress, the speech of Comrade Khrushchev.’ In the corner it said: ‘Top Secret’."
That was one of the few copies sent by order of the Soviet Politburo to leaders of the Eastern Bloc countries. "Like others, I had also heard rumors about the speech," says Grayevsky. "We knew that the United States had offered a prize of $1 million to anyone who could obtain the speech. We also knew that all the intelligence services, all the diplomats and all the journalists in the world wanted to get their hands on the speech. Thus, when I saw the red booklet, I immediately understood. It mainly aroused my curiosity as a journalist. I told Lucia: ‘I’ll take the booklet, go home for an hour or two, and read it.’ She said, ‘Fine, but I go home at 4 P.M., so return it by then, because we have to put it in the safe.’
"I put the booklet under my coat and left the building, without anyone being suspicious or examining me. After all, they all knew me. At home, when I read the speech I was shocked. Such crimes. Stalin a murderer. I felt that I was holding an atom bomb, and since I knew that the entire world was looking for the speech, I understood that if I threw the bomb it would explode. I decided to go back and return the booklet to Lucia, but on the way I thought about it a lot, and I decided to go to the embassy, to Yaakov Barmor. Poland hadn’t done anything bad to me, but my heart was with Israel, and I wanted to help.
"I went to the embassy and rang the bell. The building was surrounded by Polish soldiers and policemen, and there were cameras all around, which checked everyone who entered. I went to Barmor’s office and told him: ‘Look what I have.’ He turned white and then red, and changed colors again. He asked to take the booklet for a minute, and he returned to me an hour and a half later."
Did you understand what he was doing?
"Of course. I knew he was photographing. After an hour and a half he returned, gave me the booklet and said ‘Thank you very much.’ I left the embassy and went to Lucia. I arrived between 2:30 and 3, and returned it to her."
Grayevsky immigrated to Israel in January 1957. When he submitted the request to immigrate, he was fired from his job. Lucia Baranowski died in Poland of a serious illness 15 years later. "We never spoke about what had happened," he emphasizes.
And what about compensation? He says that it didn’t enter his mind to ask for anything. "What are you talking about? I acted out of an impulse that stemmed from my connection to Israel. It was a bouquet from a new immigrant to the State of Israel. No professional spy could have managed to get what I got. I was lucky."
Do you consider yourself a hero?
"No. I’m not a hero. I didn’t make history. The person who made history was Khrushchev. I met up with history for a few hours, and our ways parted."