“I did what I did for ideological reasons, never for money”
Born in Rotterdam, Holland on 11 November 1922, George Blake was named for King George V. At the outbreak of the Second World War he worked for Dutch resistance for a time before relocating to England where he joined the Royal Navy and was assigned to the Dutch section of MI6.
After the end of hostilities he was sent to Hamburg where he recruited former German soldiers and sailors for MI6. In October 1948 he was sent to head up a new MI6 station in Seoul, Korea. He was captured at the start of the Korean War in June 1950.
In jail he told his captors that he wanted to contact the Soviet embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea. It was the time he became a spy for the Soviet Union. “I did what I did for ideological reasons,” he said, “never for money.” He was released in 1953 and moved back to London where he worked in MI6’s Y section. His first betrayal occurred in October of that year when he gave away “a list of top secret technical operations carried out by MI6 against Soviet targets”. In 1955 he went to Berlin and, ostensibly working for MI6, was in fact in the pay of the KGB.
In 1961 he was recalled to London and accused of being a Soviet spy after a defector revealed his identity. Blake confessed, was tried for treason in May 1961 and sentenced to 42 years in prison “a year for each agent betrayed”.
On 22 October 1966 Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs with the aid of IRA man Sean Bourke. The Irishman and two others smuggled Blake to East Germany. Rumours have long persisted that the KGB financed the escape, enlisting the help of the IRA. In 1990 Blake admitted that he was disillusioned by the demise of communism and longed for the old days of totalitarianism. According to reports from Moscow, Blake is still an active member of the Russian Secret Service.