Colonel Africa: the Spaniard that became a legend of Soviet intelligence

Biography 15/01/20 Press Bureau of the foreign intelligence Service, Polkovnik Africa: the Spaniard that became a legend of Soviet intelligence

the Name of this scout, which, incidentally, is not a pseudonym, was only declassified in 1997. It was then that the world learned about who this Africa de Las Heras, and what benefits it has brought to the Soviet Union. However, most of the documents relating to the activities of Colonel Africa are still classified as “Secret”. However, it is known that for almost half a century, which she dedicated to the exploration, she didn’t have a single slip.

the radio Operator Africa

Africa de Las Heras Gavilan was born in 1909 in Morocco, where he had exiled her father for disagreeing with the monarchical system of Spain. In gratitude to the African continent, which became the head of the family’s second home, he named daughter. However, Africa itself chose to live in Madrid. There, she took a job at a textile factory, where, according to Gennady Marchenko, author of the book “Manuscript”, she joined the Communist party. In 1937, the Africa began to cooperate with Soviet intelligence and a few months later was illegally smuggled into the USSR. Before the great Patriotic war, as well as in Spain, worked in the textile industry.
But in wartime Africa had to learn different crafts. In 1942 she trained as radio operators and were in the notorious reconnaissance and sabotage detachment “Winners”. As expressed by Africa itself de Las Heras, for her and her colleagues the radio then was the real and main weapon. She, along with other radio operators around the clock encrypted, sent, received and decoded information. As the authors of the publication “Secret informants of the Kremlin” Vladimir Antonov and Vladimir Karpov, the detachment, which, incidentally, was commanded by Hero of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Medvedev, has never lost contact with Moscow. And this wouldLa merit and Africa.

Illegal “Patria”

the War is not ended when Africa was invited to join the service in an illegal division of foreign intelligence. Radio operator agreed. And this despite the fact that, according to Vladimir Antonov, in his book “Life on the “legend” and de Las Heras was to always break up with their Spanish friends and relatives. Since then, they about it heard nothing: Africa for them to just disappear. The scout received a new code name “Patria”, which means “homeland.” Despite the fact that Patria had an excellent command of not only the native language but French, and Russian, for illegal work required special training, which Africa was successfully held.

Some time Africa de Las Heras Gavilan tasks of the centre, while in Paris as a refugee. But soon she decided to smuggle in Latin America, where Patria had to live a long 20 years. Africa is well settled in the new place, but to maintain my cover in 1956 was sent to her partner, who was supposed to play the role of her husband. In fact, Africa has registered a relationship with a completely stranger to her man. Really pleased with the fact that the Soviet intelligence officer Giovanni Antonio Bertoni (nickname Marko) was a countryman de Las Heras. However, the dummy at first the marriage was happy. Together Patria and Marco lived until 1964. It was then that Bertoni died.

awards & recognitions

meanwhile, even after the death of a spouse Africa continued to work and to convey important information to his superiors in the centre. Only 3 years later she returned to Moscow. However, from time to time, an effective intelligence officer continues to be sent to overseas missions to complete important tasks. And no wonder: the fact that, according to the author of the book “the Battle for Berlin. Full chronicle – 23 day and night”, Andrew Suldin, for almost half a century of service Africa de Las Heras Gavilan did not commit any mistake.
it is not surprising that Colonel Africa is not retired: 1971 she taught school for spies, illegals, giving them invaluable experience. For this reason, the name de Las Heras, was declassified only in 1997. Despite the fact that many documents revealing the activities of Africa, are still classified as “Secret”, about the merits of scout telling her awards: 2 orders of red Star, order of Lenin, 2 medals “For courage”, order of the Patriotic war 1st and 2nd degrees. Only 3 years before the death of Colonel Africa retired. Even though they say it is and after retirement was always in touch with the center.

Yulia Popova

© Russian Seven

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