presents a detailed summary of:
HUNTING FOR THE PASTby Lev Prozorovsky
1985 Riga, "Liesma"
OKHOTNIKI ZA PROSHLIM
One cold spring night, an alarm is raised at a Baltic sea border post. A man is spotted landing on the coast and dashing into the forest. Border guards quickly scramble and apprehend him. The captured person (Bergmanis) is the son of Latvian emigres. He claims he grew disillusioned with the Western lifestyle and merely wanted to return and live with his sister, who resides in a Latvian village. The KGB, however, finds a hidden two-man submarine, and when confronted with it, Bergmanis admits there was a second person who arrived with him.
It turns out that Bergmanis was just a dupe used by western agents, who intended to sacrifice him. They expected his capture to cover the infiltration of the second "real" agent. In this, they succeeded.
Enter Latvia Legally
The search for the second agent leads first to a "cultural worker" at a sea side resort. (Photographs & accordion playing for the tourists). He is replaced with a KGB operative. A bearded geologist named Viktor Serfik then shows up, asking about some local residents, including an old retired forester named "Rosenberg" and an elderly woman named "Biruta".
Biruta suddenly turns up dead of a heart attack, her home ransacked. At the wake, her drunken son reveals that some time ago, he and Biruta, digging in their garden found an old metal box containing Nazi documents from the days of occupation. The documents--which have since disappeared--apparently contain a list of Nazi collaborators and spies.
Suspicion falls on Nadya Bronnikova, a 40-year-old nurse and daughter of White emigres. She was a close friend of Biruta and is scheduled shortly to take a cruise along the Baltic and North Seas. The KGB keep Bronnikova under surveillance as she prepares to board the cruise ship, and they see that Viktor Serfik is in the crowd of well-wishers, watching her depart. As soon as Bronnikova boards the ship, the KGB question her firmly (with two citizen-witnesses present). She reveals that the documents are sewn into the lining of her purse. She and Biruta had done this intending that Bronnikova would go abroad and sell them to a fascist organization in the west which provides pensions to those who truly were in the service of Hitler. Before she left, however, and immediately after Biruta's death, Serfik confronted her and offered her 10,000 rubles for the documents. She agreed, and the bearded geologist gave her instructions to hand the documents over to an agent in Rotterdam. Bronnikova gives the documents to the KGB and is taken into custody, although the firm but kindly KGB agent suggests that she will be let off with only a reprimand.
THE MANY NAMES OF THE SECRET POLICE Cheka Extraordinary Commission (for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage); 20 Dec 1917 GPU State Political Directorate; 8 Feb 1922 OGPU Unified State Political Directorate;1923 NKVD People's Commisariate of Internal Affairs; 1934 SMERSH Death To Spies; March 1943 MVD Ministry of Internal Affairs; March 1946 KGB Committee for State Security; 1954
Meanwhile, Rosenberg turns himself in, confessing that for years he tried to wheedle the Nazi documents away from Biruta, fearing that he himself was named as a collaborator. In the days of occupation, the Nazis rounded up a bunch of children and demanded that Rosenberg lead them out into the forest, somewhere where no Soviet partisans would be found. Rosenberg, thinking that the Nazis just intended to frighten the children, complied. However, the Nazis did in fact murder the children and gloated that Rosenberg was now "theirs" and they would give him the Iron Cross to make sure the Soviets would never trust him again. Shortly thereafter, the Nazis came to Rosenberg's hut with the documents, which he assumed contained his name. A partisan attack, however, forced the Nazis to bury the documents before leaving in confusion. The Nazis, however, had tricked Rosenberg. He was small potatoes. His name was not on their list, which included only real spies and collaborators. The KGB colonel in charge angrily denounces Rosenberg, but releases him.
The KGB keep the bearded geologist (Serfik) under surveillance, still hoping that he will lead them to the second agent. Serfik goes to Tallin, where me immediately picks up a woman named Lili and goes with her to the city hall where they register to be married. Serfik spends the night with Lili, then, the next day, they go to the office where she works as an expeditor, providing food supplies to ships. Lili drives a van full of food supplies to a cruise ship heading for Helsinki. She is allowed to drive into the belly of the ship, but a suspicious guard searches underneath the cans of condensed milk and barrels of brown mushroom juice, where he discovers a man hiding. A chase ensues around the ship, and the suspect leaps off into the water. The suspect is apprehended. It is Serfik, who was carrying an envelop with $1,000 in it.
Serfik claims he stole the money from a foreigner in a restaurant. He says he planned to go to Helsinki, spend the money, then go to the Soviet embassy and "repent". He says Lili had nothing to do with his plan and did not know he was hiding among the food.
Serfik then changes his story: He is not Serfik, but is really Max Deryakin. Serfik is his half-brother. Some time ago Max was working as an assembler at a watch factory. He was part of a delegation visiting Switzerland to demonstrate Soviet watches. He defected, but after a while he longed to return to his mother, about whom he constantly dreamed. He claims he got a ride on a yacht into the Gulf of Finland where some Estonians were working on a Soviet fishing boat. He convinced the Estonians to hide him on board and return him to his motherland. (The KGB officials know, of course, that this is just slander against Estonians, who are patriotic and would never help a foreigner sneak into the country.)
Once back in Latvia, however, Max claims that his mother threw him out. He took Serfik's passport, since he and his half- brother look very similar, and went gadding about. He got bored and decided to return to the west.
The KGB go to Riga to question Max's mother (in the presence of two citizen-witnesses). She said Max's bad character is probably due to the influence of his father, who used to say, "Only fools need an education, smart people need money." She relates that after Max had defected, he wrote to her saying that he wanted to return. She replied to him in care of a lawyer, Jerry Sherwood (known to the KGB as a CIA agent operating in the Scandinavian countries). When he returned recently to her, he stole the passport of his half- brother (the real Viktor Serfik, a genuine, honest geologist) and disappeared. A search of the apartment turns up the clothes which Max had used when infiltrating the country--proving that he was in fact the second agent who arrived with Bergmanis. He was also responsible for Biruta's death, since he had confronted her demanding the documents in a manner which caused her to have a heart attack. His plan had been to get the Nazi documents and use them to blackmail Soviet citizens into doing the CIA's bidding.
Another CIA adventure exposed and foiled!
Prozorovsky, Lev Vladimirovich Born in 1914 on
the Volga in the Atkarsky uezd, near Saratov, the
son of a country doctor. Father died when he was 13. After 7th
grade in school, he went to work in order to help his mother raise
their sister. He was a packer of boxes, an elevator operator in a
hospital, an electrician, and a lighting technician at an opera
theater, where he also joined the Komsomol. He later became a
police officer assigned to the Saratov criminal investigation group
"BB" (brigade for the struggle against banditism). He was wounded
on 17 May 1935, which ended his police career.
He went to work as a photographer for the newspaper "Communist", which published his first poem in March 1938.
He took evening classes at the pedological institute and became the Sartov correspondant for "Soyuezfotokhronika".
During the Great Patriotic War, he was sent to the front as a photo scout for an artillery division until August 1942, after which he was a correspondant for the army newspaper "Na Razgrom Vraga". In September 1944 he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
His first book, "Raketa", a collection of poems, was published in Riga in 1955. This was followed with several adventure stories, including "Foreign Winds" (1957), "Spear of the Black Prince" (1962), and "Duel Without Seconds". In 1957 he became a member of the writers union, upon the recommendation of Mariya Davidovna Marich, author of a novel about the Decemberists, "Northern Lights".
"Hunters For The Past" is the result of five years of friendship and study with the border guards in the Baltic region, where Prozorovsky watched with his own eyes the struggle against, as he puts it, "those attempting to bring ideological poison into our nation."