The Fate of Spies

Of the nine spies smuggled into the Lithuanian Soviet Union by the British, and the eight dropped in by the Americans in the late forties and early fifties, none returned.

Some were turned and became double agents, some were executed or shot in battle, and some were imprisoned.

The most curious of them all was Anicetas Dukavicius, the last man sent into Lithuania by the British in 1953. Having spent almost two decades in prison, he lived to see Lithuanian independence in 1991.

Dukavicius then reportedly presented himself to the British and claimed that they had promised him ten pounds a week while on the job, and he now wanted to collect payment for almost forty years of employment.

Sadly, I don’t know if he received the money.

This story and others like it are part of a wonderful DVD television series called the Secret Files of the Twentieth Century in English subtitles, or Slaptieji XXa Archyvai in Lithuanian.

So much remains unknown about this part of the world, but historians have also revealed a great deal that makes for excellent cold war material. This is popular history at its best.

In the first series, there are shows about the Soviet kidnapping of East European dignitaries out of postwar Berlin and a detailed study of the most infamous murder of Jews in Lithuania, the Lietukio Garazas massacre, among other shows.

In the second series, one show tells the story of the Lithuanian partisan leader whom Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s successor, had flown to Moscow in 1953 in order to see if they could come to some sort of arrangement. But things ended badly for both of them. J. Zemaitis was executed in Moscow, and so was Beria. Still, one can’t help wondering how history would have turned out if these two men had survived and prevailed.