Talk:Kim Philby

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The line "Among his espionage duties for the Soviets was the writing of spurious love letters (interlaced with codewords), addressed to a girl in Paris who lived on the Rue de Grenelle. Only years later did he discover to his fury that the letters were actually addressed to the Soviet Embassy and that the possibility existed he could have been so easily found out" is somewhat ambiguous. Anyone with knowledge about such an event might clarify. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:02, 14 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


When I 'initiated' this article I feared for it. The information on Philby is completely contradictory beyond the most basic dates. Sources don't agree on his positions in SIS, his value, what secrets he passed on, even whether he was homosexual or heterosexual. This misinformation lead me to create a rather dry article - the dates were there but his actual role was left vague.

He was heterosexual. - Richardcavell 18:33, 11 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I can't believe it is safe to include information such as that from Declare as it is either arguing towards a specific theory and therefore dodgy; or it is bizzare but essentially irrelevant or confusing/distorting (eg - pipe smoking pet). I have therefore moved the Declare material to below.

Normally I'm all in favour of non-NPOV. But I think in this case it's not NPOV but veracity that will suffer. If you disagree you can put the Declare stuff back, I won't get into an 'edit war'.

His father made sure he was never baptized, and seemed to have a special interest in baptism, sending samples of water from the Jordan River to the British Museum for testing for occult powers.

, where he was the SIS Head of Station, and spent a lot of time near Mount Ararat

When he lived in Beirut, he had a pet fox that drank whiskey and would puff on smoking pipes, which died in 1963.

Tim Powers based the book Declare on his unusual life story, providing a supernatural explanation for his behavior ("Tradecraft meets Lovecraft").

Certainly Declare shouldn't be used as a reference; but the afterword to Declare has footnotes referencing various books and articles about Philby, which might support some of the above "bizarre but essentially irrelevant" stuff. --Jim Henry 15:43, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What's this about Philby and young boys? Does anyone have a cite on the anonymously posted claim? Buffyg 23:21, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I removed it. Unsourced anonymous accusation from an anonymous source, that I can't corroborate from likely searches of Google. The "known homosexual" languages sounds like an axe to gind, too. I've left it here if anyone can confirm it. Varitek 01:47, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

*[[1991]] Unnamed sources within the United States intelligence community confirmed that Philby had been a known homosexual and sexual deviant and had been wanted for questioning in the rape/murders of 12 small boys. A recently unclassified governmental finding found references to Philby's involvement in the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, however there was never any proven, direct connection.

clumsy attempt at slur. What "recently unclassified governmental finding"? All conspiracies lead to JFK. 01:42, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Jack Philby[edit]

from John Loftus book: "...There was another special reason for Kim's hatred {of his father}...Jack raped Kim's mother. Young Kim was a bastard. It was all hushed up...when it was discovered the woman was pregnant, a marriage was quickly arranged in September 1910. According to rumors, Kim was born January 1, 1911, not 1912, as officially recorded. With the help of Jack's collegues in the civil service, an altered birth certificate was planted in the hospital files..." Any use for this information? Also, need help creating a disambig page for Philby Nobs 21:35, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Loftus is not someone who can seriously be cited in an encyclopaedic work. His prose is beyond reactionary, to the point of sensationalist. His extremism was not directed at any particular subject apart from "Nazis" until Sept. 11, 2001, after which he began an alarmist print/radio campaign which included broadcasting the address of a "terrorist" on his radio show, which led to an innocent family being threatened and harassed. Qualifying Loftus would be the equivalent to making Rush Limbaugh Hilary Clinton's official biographer.

My Secret War p. 88n reads: "transfer from SOE to SIS", not from SIS to SOE Nobs 03:33, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Born where[edit]

The article isn't consistent: it says he was born in India at the top, but in England in the "chronology" section. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 13:26, September 1, 2005 (UTC)


Seminumerical 07:24, 5 October 2005 (UTC) 'Thus, in 1956 Philby was again in the employ of SIS as an "informant on retainer".' AT THIS Point in the edit history SIS is not, or is no longer defined. A reader might reasonable expect to hear about SIS before the above mentioned sentence.Reply[reply]

Yes, I agree; there appears to be somewhat of a piecemeal approach to this article from dozens of sources, and no one straightforward coordination of the whole to iron ambiguities such as you just put your finger one. nobs 16:01, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. I have now replaced all references to "SIS" with "MI6". If editors prefer SIS, then please change all references to "MI6" to read "SIS", or, if there's a concensus to this effect, put a note on my talk page and I'll be glad to do it myself. TheMadBaron 16:17, 18 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Many Poles believe that Philby was involved in anti-Polish activities during WWII. He's rather unpopular there. Xx236 10:30, 17 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've seen the "Infamous assassins" covering the Gibraltar incident. To me Philby looks like one of many charachters that either had a way or a motive, but he can't have been interested in squashing General Sikorsky. Sikorsky was (in a way) friendly with the Soviets, as long as they shared a common enemy. Philby should have known that if Stalin wanted him dead, Stalin would have Sikorsky done away with. Stalin did not see himself bickering with the a new Polish Head of Defence (a real anti-Soviet). Hitler was less interested in the incident, as he would like to have Sikorsky alive, not dead. The Spaniards had no way to get beyond their borderline towards Gib. Someone had a way AND a will, but I don't see Philby like acting alone on this one. One can't argue that the plane was of good quality, and the pilot was still better.-- (talk) 22:26, 19 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fourth Protocol[edit]

I deleted reference to ths book stating Philby was a triple agent who work for Britain "all along'. In fact the inference is that after many years in the USSR he may have started passing along some information. Iwalters 21:56, 18 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


what about peter wirghts book sypycatcher in the references section


I have cleaned up the slightly erroneous information about Philby's Moscow years in this article based on Genrikh Borovik: The Philby Files: The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby, Phillip Knightley : Master Spy, The : The Story of Kim Philby and Rufina Philby: Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years. Those are the best sources for that period of his life. —Preceding unsigned comment added by LennartF (talkcontribs)

Christopher Andrews The Mitrokhin Archive; Defence of the Realm. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 17 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I edited the last paragraph of the Beruit section, correcting the statement that Philby "immediately confessed" to Nicholas Elliot when told of new evidence against him. I based my correction on The Philby Files by Genrikh Borovik, which I also added as a reference. I think The Philby Files serves as the most reliable source on the information in question, considering that the information in the book came from discussions with Philby himself. --Runnermonkey 01:19, 16 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Beruit Speculation[edit]

The question of how Philby responded to accusations from Nicolas Elliot can not be answered without mere speculation. Thus I have edited the last paragraph of the Beruit section to reflect the nature of the topic, avoiding leaning toward any possible answer. It is not known whether Philby confessed to Elliot or simply downplayed the accusations. Philby himself claimed the latter, but many sources do claim otherwise. --Runnermonkey 01:18, 16 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Graham Greene and Kim Philby[edit]

This article refers to Graham Greene as a "deputy director" of the MI5. If you go Graham Greene's article there is no indication that he actually held a rank in the organization, just that he was recruited by Philby to perform espionage for Britian during WW2.

  • I agree: in the world of smoke and mirrors one cannot both know and tell, but I expect Greene was a wartime "asset" and thereafter only a lifelong patriotic "agent". Delete it!Jezza


Is there really any connection between Philby and the Graham Greene-written "The Third Man"? Besides the title, they seem to me to be wholly unrelated. Perhaps this reference should go?e


I agree "The Third Man" reference is spurious and the notation should be removed. Graham Greene wrote the novella in 1949. Kim Philby fell under suspicion in 1951.

My understanding, from reading long ago ("My Secret War" perhaps or maybe "Treason in the Blood" or an obscure New Yorker article from the late eighties), is that after the Burgess / MacLean affair news story broke, the press widely used the term "The Third Man" as part of the sensational headline fodder of the story as at the time there was speculation there was a third member of their ring. Now we know that there was not only a third, but there was a fourth and a fifth at least. Harry Lime is small beans compared to our Mr. Philby which is to say there is no relationship between Greene's character and Philby in terms of their activities. I suspect the confusion arises out of the press re-manufacturing the title of a movie into a headline. --Poxenator 06:29, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Who ever is responsible for this page is spreading lies about a great man who waged resistance against fascist counter revolution. The Harry Lime accusation is simply absurd as is the account of his life in Moscow; the BBC reports that Philby died a happy man; he liked Andopov and was considered a hero; he lead a good life, as an espionage educator and held the privileges of a ranking KGB general; your article is a shameless distortion. If it was a grade 7 essay I'd fail the student. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:15, 16 July 2012 (UTC) --Reply[reply]

The literature section has:

Graham Greene's novel The Human Factor explores aspects of Philby's story.

Would it be more accurate and helpful to say something like

The Human Factor by Graham Greene has a main character partly modeled on Philby.

That is, it isn't overtly about Philby like the Powers or Forsyth novels listed. --Jim Henry 15:39, 30 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Philby was a close friend of the novelist Graham Greene, who reportedly left MI6 rather than become involved in exposing Philby. Then Greene shares responsibility for the deaths that were caused by Philby.Lestrade (talk) 02:11, 19 January 2008 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]


It seems to me that the more elaborate details in the "Chronology", such as those concerning Konstantin Volkov, should be moved to earlier sections of the article. The "Chronology" should serve as a brief summary, or be removed altogether, once such details are transferred. TheMadBaron 16:24, 18 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

-- guys, i don't know how to add another section here, so: "reported that at the Paris meeting in late 1955 Rothshchild argued that much more Ultra material should have been given to Stalin" - Stalin died in early 1953, so something is definitely wrong here —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:35, 29 December 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mitrokhin Archive[edit]

I have finished reading The Sword And The Shield, the first book written from info in the Mitrokhin Archive and have inserted information about his life in Moscow, including first hand accounts of his downward spiral into alcoholism, his subsequent rehabilitatin and his KGB job.I have tried to insert this info into the section MOSCOW without removing any of the good info.If you wish to edit the Moscow section, courtesy is called for.Saltforkgunman 05:46, 14 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not bloody Nikita[edit]

His Soviet cryptonym was Stanley. C 08:47, 18 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Behavior of Burgess[edit]

What exactly constitutes behaving very badly? The reader is left wondering what would cause someone to be labeled persona non grata. (Diskzero 15:55, 19 March 2007 (UTC))Reply[reply]

I've seen the film on the Cambridge 5. The actor who was being Burgess, had a such behaviour that a slight more of it, would generate an ASBO. Everyone (the characters in the film) saw it. He looked more like a liability, rather than a useful tool to his (actual) system.-- (talk) 22:02, 19 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Operation Musketeer[edit]

'He was supposedly given the position of second-in-command to the leader of Operation Musketeer, the British, French, and Israeli plan to attack Egypt and depose Gamal Abdel Nasser. However, given Philby's sympathies, it can only be supposed, if this truly occurred, that his role was less one of support, than of subversion.' Where did this come from? Why on earth would a disgraced ex-spy be given second in command of such an operation? 09:07, 14 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The article needs some serious overhaul. The tone alone is so weird that at time I thought it was a joke:

First came the discovery of the cryptonym HOMER (Donald Maclean) in the VENONA decrypts — a "jigsaw puzzle" of decrypts, decoded piecemeal because some Soviet code clerk had used a one-time pad twice; then came another visit from Guy Burgess who ensconced himself in the Philby household for a year and proceeded to behave very badly.

The biography is told out of chronological order and parts are repeated. SnappingTurtle (talk) 12:08, 5 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One year later and the biography is still out of order (especially the section "Washington DC"). I don't know enough about this person to try to sort through the details. (talk) 17:11, 28 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

University career[edit]

Query - "Chronology" section says he entered Trinity in 1929 to read economics; "Early life" and "Chronology" section both say that he graduated in 1933. The Cambridge tripos is three years ie if he entered in 1929 he would have graduated in summer 1932, not 1933. Can anyone elucidate? Or did he do an extra year becuase he transferred from history to economics? I would be very surprised by this as it's not usual to do an extra year when transferring degree courses at Cambridge. Whatever the answer, can it be made clear in the text please. (talk) 14:20, 15 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

St. John Philby's (father's) Allegiance[edit]

Reading biographies about HAR Philby suggest his father was slightly radical, perhaps unstable, but not disloyal. He seems to have "gone native" with the Arabs, and perhaps resented the treatment of indigenous peoples by the Empire, but also seems to had vision of a reformed empire entirely in line with the eventual formation of the Commonwealth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:21, 17 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Crazy Commas[edit]

This article needs a complete overhaul. For one, commas seem to have been randomly applied throughout, yet never hitting the right spots even by chance. Some sentences are now very hard to make sense of, or are unjustifiably ambiguous. There's far too much conjecture. Some editors seem to have been letting their imaginations run away with them. Given the delicate nature of the subject, there are far too many claims made which aren't backed up with references or evidence.

Hopefully someone with the time, inclination, and knowledge, can give this article the re-write it desperately needs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:26, 19 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article is still in need of copy editing. Kdammers (talk) 10:11, 7 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am currently in the slow process of a massive copy-edit of the article, including restructuring the information presented and removing some of the more staggeringly irrelevant details. I'm also removing anything that I know off the top of my head to be factually inaccurate -- however, I am really concerned that someone with more than an amateur's interest in the topic, or at least with better access to references, needs - at some point - to go through and fact-check. My edit should be live in a couple of days. -- Zhuravlei (talk) 01:22, 26 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Overhaul of article[edit]

I have posted the first half of my proposed overhaul of the article. (A few sections remain to be rewritten, which I hope to get to in the next few days). The size of the article has decreased precipitously, mostly because I removed a large number of "might well have," "would have," and "may have" statements, as well as material that seemed to have little or no relevance to the topic. If anyone feels strongly about this material, feel free to add it back. I would also really welcome help from anyone interested in improving the article, particularly anyone willing to help unify the citation styles, since that's not my strong point... -- Zhuravlei (talk) 21:55, 30 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I feel this is a very weak article and it distorts the life and legacy of Kim Philby. Firstly, it mentions his relation with a fascist supporter in Spain, August 1939. In fact, this was a part of the soviet strategy of extracting information from fascist sympathizers and financiers. Secondly, it implies that he was mislead by the KGB. In fact, upon his move to the USSR he was immediately given a hero's welcome, and he maintained all the privileges of a top ranking KGB official. Also, BBC coverage, not just from Cambridge spies but other news reports (available on you tube) state that Philby was very happy in the former USSR. He was viewed as a hero, he taught espionage techniques. The only western journalist to discuss with Philby says hat Kim died a happy man; he very much admired Andropov; the Soviet union was still in existence but was opening up and he never saw the fall of the USSR, — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:57, 5 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Photos of spies[edit]

I have noticed an intriguing thing about Wikipedia. On all the bio pages of spies I've looked at, there are no photos of them whatsoever. Is this a conscious policy decision (maybe relating to copyright) or is something more sinister afoot...Noodleki (talk) 14:08, 5 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This editor has since disappeared.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:06, 5 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure if that is Jack Upland's attempt at a joke, but Noodleki last edited at 20:04, 3 October 2015 - less than 2 days ago - Arjayay (talk) 10:56, 5 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hero of the Soviet Union?[edit]

Is there any evidence that he was awarded it?

In the interview in the Telegraph (see with his KGB supervisor - in 2012 - he said "I started to talk about his contribution in the victory over Nazi Germany. When I examined the materials carefully, I felt a sense of injustice. How could it be that he did so much but was not a Hero of the Soviet Union? I began to bring this idea to our leadership. They explained that it was not the best time, the year being 1987: maybe Gorbachev didn’t want tensions with Britain. So my idea did not win support. Then, suddenly, a document comes from the office of KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov, where it arrived from the office of Mikhail Yasnov, then chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, with a note saying: “Mr Kryuchkov, please consider the letter attached.” In the letter, three students from Kharkov expressed their surprise that a man who did so much for the victory was not made a hero. It was shortly after Philby’s interview with Genrikh Borovik was shown on television that the Kharkov students wrote their letter. Orders were given to prepare the necessary documents. We began, but Philby died in May 1988."

This would seem to imply that as he died, they stopped the process?

Also, in a 2012 article on Voice of Russia ( - which was 100 years after his birth

"Asked why her husband has not been awarded with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Rufina Philby says: “Bureaucracy. Officials said that this couldn’t be done because he had no Soviet citizenship.” “This is certainly unfair,” Nikolay Dolgopolov, the author of a book about Kim Philby says. “Probably, now, when 100 years turned since his birth, Kim Philby will be post mortem awarded with the title of the Hero of Russia. After all, there has already been a precedent – in mid 1990s, a group of foreign spies became Heroes of Russia for getting some secret information about nuclear tests.”

However other sources imply that he was made a HSU - but I can't find anything definitive (like press coverage at the time of the supposed award)... can anyone find anything that shows this happened, or should the mention be removed?

Thanks! (talk) 16:44, 19 October 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm reading Philby's 1968 book (My Silent War) and, after checking the WP article, have arrived at the same issue as the above IP editor. The key revelation in the interview reported by Nikolai Dolgopolov is "orders were given to prepare the necessary documents. We began, but Philby died in May 1988". It is earlier mentioned that his decorations included "the Order of Lenin (and) the Order of the Red Banner..." Philby's name does not appear in this list nor this one. Until it does, with due verification, we have no choice than to remove the HotU from Philby's article. Bjenks (talk) 09:16, 1 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Much of various later sections recounting biography (e.g. under "Personal Life") are almost exact repetitions of information providied in the initial sections of this article. This is not uncommon in Wikipedia articles in general, but it does make the articles which it infects seem inflated and amateurish. Rtelkin (talk) 08:53, 30 August 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There's a sentence that reads "Thanks to British counter-intelligence efforts, of which Philby's Iberian subsection formed a significant part.". Presumably there's a clause missing there? --1Rabid Monkey (talk) 09:38, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think so. Turn it around into a declarative sentence, and it's OK. "Philby's Iberian subsection formed a significant part of British counter-intelligence efforts." Stu (talk) 15:12, 27 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That doesn't mean the same thing. Furthermore, the paragraph that the sentence concludes builds up towards Philby taking action against an Abwehr operations around Gibraltar. The sentence in question doesn't elucidate on his effectiveness or otherwise. If I had access to the source, I would probably change the sentence by appending the specific actions Philyby's subsection took against the Abwehr operatives. --1RM (talk) 19:27, 30 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The phrase is still there. I agree with 1Rabid Monkey that there is clearly a missing phrase.Afarr (talk) 18:13, 25 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I removed it. It should say, "Thanks to..., the Abwehr was thwarted," or something....--Jack Upland (talk) 10:52, 20 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quote from Jefferson Flanders book review[edit]

The article boldly (and without context) states "Philby's betrayals caused thousands of combat deaths during the Korean War." A book review written by Jefferson Flanders is cited, but Flanders doesn't state clearly where he got that information. This is a very bold assertion, and until a clear and reliable source is found for this, I suggest we remove it from the article. Mark Froelich (talk) 00:35, 19 January 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After six days and no response I have removed the statement referred to above. If a better source can be found for the statement, I have no problem with putting it back in. But it was too contentious, especially with its weak citation.Mark Froelich (talk) 06:15, 25 January 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ivan Chichayev or Anatoly Gorsky? JOHN or VADIM?[edit]

An IP added the following information without a reference at 16:00, 13 June 2011: "The new London rezident, Ivan Chichayev (code-name Vadim), re-established contact and asked for a list of names of British agents being trained to enter the USSR." Ivan Chichayev had the code name "JOHN"[1] and Anatoly Gorsky had the code name "VADIM"[2], so should the name be changed to Anatoly Gorsky or should the code-name be changed to "JOHN"? - Location (talk) 19:17, 20 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The whole page needs re-writing[edit]

This is the single worst page on wikepedia that I have ever come across. The entire page is badly written. HubberDubber (talk) 12:50, 29 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Elena Modrzhinskaya[edit]

[11][page needed] pp.212-213 of Genrikh Borovik, The Philby Files, 1994 Also discussed in "The Secret War" by Max Hastings 2015 in the chapter "A little help from their friends" and on page 363 the author states Modrzhinskaya attended Philby's 1988 funeral with lingering doubts of some "last deceit". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:25, 5 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussion at the nomination page. —Community Tech bot (talk) 14:07, 10 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Operation Bodden[edit]

The article correctly quotes the source book when it suggests Operation Bodden involved the Abwehr's use of radar to detect allied shipping in the Straits of Gibraltar, but in fact the method of detection was bolometry.[1] This in only a minor change of detail, quite tangential to the subject.--AntientNestor (talk) 14:26, 24 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Hinsley, F. H. (1979–1990). British intelligence in the Second World War. London: HMSO. p. 720. ISBN 9780116309334.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)