Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fred Rose: Canadian Communist MP and Spy

Stalin’s Man in Canada: Fred Rose and Soviet Atomic Espionage
By David Levy
Enigma Books

Fred Rose was a labor organizer, left wing politician, Soviet agent, and Atomic spy. He was born in Lublin, Poland in 1907 into a Jewish family and emigrated to Canada with his parents who settled in Montreal where he joined the Young Communist League. Rose was elected National Secretary in 1929 and quickly became a member of Gaik Ovakimyan’s North American NKVD network where he worked with Jacob Golos, Elizabeth Bentley’s employer, in securing Canadian passports for Soviet agents. In 1942 he switched his espionage activity to the GRU, Soviet military intelligence. In 1943 Rose was elected to the federal Canadian parliament from Cartier, a working class district in Montreal where he lived. His campaign literature was both in Yiddish, French and English. He was re-elected in 1945.

In September, 1945 Soviet Embassy GRU clerk Igor Gouzenko, defected with documents that revealed an elaborate espionage operation to acquire American atomic research. Fred Rose was a major player in the scheme. Prime Minister Mackenzie King ordered an enquiry to gather evidence to be used in the trials of Rose and others. Rose was found guilty of conspiring to turn over information about the explosive RDX to GRU chief Col. Nicolai Zabotin, and was sentenced to a six-year prison term.

He returned to his native Poland in 1953 after his release from prison. Fred Rose passed away in Warsaw in 1983, a disillusioned witness to the collapse of the Leninist vision he’d lived by. The importance of his role is revealed for the first time in this masterful study.

David Levy was born in Montreal and grew up in the federal constituency of Cartier. He received an M.A. for a dissertation on Edgar Allan Poe, a Ph.D. for a ground-breaking study of the early American cinema. He has worked in television and radio, done journalism, lectured on early cinema history in Canada, the USA and Europe, travelled in the Caribbean, Europe and Asia and created a radio series for teaching English in China. The journalism includes an essay on media co-written with Art Spiegelman for RAW magazine. Work in progress: From Chaguanas to Jerusalem: En Route to a New Millenium, a collection of travel pieces dealing with the transformation of the Cold War into the war on terror. Researching the origins of the Cold War led to an investigation of the Fred Rose affair which brought him back home to Cartier. He lives in Montreal.

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