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Master's Thesis by Soviet Spy at USC

Mockery of scholarship



False semblance of legality and mockery of scholarship

excerpt from Enemy Amongst Trojans. A Soviet Spy at USC, 2010, p. 21

False semblance of legality

The Master's Thesis written by [Soviet spy] Witczak-Litvin at USC [Department of Political Science in May 1943] aimed "to describe, to analyze, and to evaluate the administration of criminal justice in the USSR." [33] In a detached scholarly-type way the thesis presented the legal framework of the Soviet Union, its constitution guaranteeing freedoms and rights, system of government, and justice system. While characterizing the latter as "sharply different" from the U.S. system, it described it as just another system of justice.

The thesis projected a false semblance of legality, without a single word pointing to a completely different reality and practice in the USSR, a fact well known and understood by that time in the West. By mid 1930s, the enthusiastic Soviet social engineers had ruthlessly exterminated a dozen million men, women, and children with unprecedented cruelty. [34] Practically all offences had "become political offences. Ordinary cases of theft by peasants from collective farms ... [were] considered political offences ... and ... [from 1935] thefts by children over the age of 12 were made capital political offences." [35]

The thesis chapter "The Soviet Court in Action" [36] asked a question "How do the Soviet carry out these principles [of the justice system] in practice?" The Soviet spy Litvin, posing as Witczak, answered with picked "balanced" quotes from selected references, presenting the Soviet system as another justice system on par with others. The thesis truly mocked the very notion of scholarship.

In the late 1930s, the Soviet state turned on its own trusted cadres in violent purges. Now devout Communist party members, apparatchiks, military and KGB brass, industrial leaders, intellectuals, and their families were themselves arrested, tortured, murdered, imprisoned, and banished, after token trials or by executive order. KGB [state security] and GRU [military intelliegence] leadership was thoroughly purged several times. [37] Five consecutive GRU directors were arrested and executed from 1937–1940. "Obviously, besides heads of the directorate [GRU] practically all heads of departments and divisions as well as intelligence officers overseeing foreign spy networks and responsible for analysis of intelligence informations were arrested." [38]

It was the time when especially KGB and GRU officers had to prove their loyalty—in order to survive—by denouncing their closest comrades. A top Soviet military intelligence operative General Walter Krivitsky described that "everyone was a traitor, until he proved the contrary by exposing someone else as a traitor [39] ... The very concept of guilt was lost sight of. The reasons for man's arrest had no relation to the charges lodged against him. Nobody expected them to have. Nobody demanded it. The truth became entirely irrelevant." [40]

Litvin spent some time in Moscow at that particular period in between his foreign assignments. He was fully exposed to the system of "criminal justice" in the Soviet Union that he would later describe in his thesis. One can only wonder what helped Comrade Litvin not to be arrested and perish in the purges.


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"Mike Gruntman, an astronautics professor at USC, has written an interesting and succinct account of this [espionage] case that heretofore escaped the attention of other espionage academics. A nice contribution to the literature."

Studies in Intelligence (unclassified extracts), CIA, Vol. 59, No. 4, p. 74, December 2015.


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