Code name “VADIM.” A Soviet intelligence operative in Great Britain and the United States in the 1930s and 1940s.
Very little is known about Gorsky’s early years. According to his official biography, he received only a secondary school education and then “joined the state security agency” in 1928. In 1936, he was posted to London as an assistant to two successive residents who were both recalled to face execution on false charges. In the wake of the mass purges which decimated foreign intelligence, the London station was closed and Gorsky was recalled to Moscow in early 1940. At that time, he had been running 18 agents, including the famous “Cambridge Five.”
In November 1940, Gorsky returned to London, this time as the station chief (resident), working under the cover of attaché and then Second Secretary of the Soviet Embassy. Initially a three-man operation, Gorsky’s London station numbered 12 operatives by early 1944. Besides the famous “Cambridge Five” and other sources of political information, the station was running sources who provided the Soviets with an early warning on the British atomic bomb project. In January 1944, Gorsky returned to Moscow and became a department head.
In September 1944, Gorsky arrived in Washington D.C. as NKGB station chief (resident), operating under diplomatic cover with the rank of First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy and using the alias of Anatoly Borisovich Gromov. In his diplomatic role, Gorsky worked as the Embassy’s press officer, monitoring American press and radio broadcasts and sending detailed monthly reports to the Soviet Foreign Office (NKID). His second cover was that of an authorized representative of VOKS – a society for promoting contacts in the cultural sphere. On the VOKS front, “Gromov” served as a sort of liaison between the Soviets and a wide range of American “contacts.” From the VOKS files we can see that “Gromov” corresponded, met and talked with famous writers, artists and musicians, discussed postwar plans for exchanging concert artists and other attractions, and took part in various public and cultural events. His contact list included American government agencies and institutions such as the U.S. Armed Forces Institute and the U.S. War Department, the U.S. Office of War Information, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Security Agency, the National Research Council and the United Nations Information Office, to name a few.
At the same time, Gorsky was running a huge network of agents, sources and contacts, which provided political, military and scientific/technical information, including information on the production of the atomic bomb.
Gorsky left the United States hastily on December 7, 1945, after the NKGB learned about the defection of their long-time agent, Elizabeth Bentley. For his work in the United States, Gorsky was promoted to the rank of Colonel and awarded the Patriotic War Order. From 1946 to 1950, he was head of the First Department of the MGB Foreign Intelligence Directorate.