Friday, July 09, 2010

The Great Spy Exchange: How It Happens

The US and Russia are swapping spies today in a ritual reminiscent of many a Cold War legend. As I write this a flight carrying the five men and five women who allegedly spied for Russia is about to touch down in Vienna, the traditional playground of international spies.

However some of the most celebrated exchanges happened on Glinicke Bridge between Berlin and Potsdam, where the line between East and West used to be (marked by white cross on the photo below).   

And here is the climax of the 1968 Soviet spy film 'Off-season' ("Мёртвый сезон"): Russian spy Ladeynikov walks across the bridge towards American Nichols. The actors are both Lithuanian, so the joke was: 'They swapped one Lithuanian for another'. But the fact is, the film was consulted by  Konon Molody (alias Gordon Lonsdale), arguably the most successful Russian illegal spy, then safely back in Moscow. The film's main character is based on Molody.

Glienicke bridge (photo by Torsten Henning):

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