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The Discredited Hero (Igor Gouzenko)

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The Discredited Hero

Igor Gouzenko was a Russian who did a great deal of damage to communism and the USSR. Some may see him as a selfish man, who betrayed his country for money and personal freedom, but others may see him as a selfless man, who despite the severe consequences for him and his family, did what would ultimately benefit the whole world. My opinion is that he was a great, selfless man who sacrificed all he had for the freedoms we enjoy in democratic countries around the globe. Gouzenko's sacrifice also included the imprisonment of 11 people who had barely done anything wrong, but was unavoidable because the supporters of communism had to be stopped if they couldn't be converted.

Igor Gouzenko was born in Russia on January 13, 1919. He lived in Communist Russia under Stalin. He did very well in school and was accepted at the Moscow Architectural Institute. When WWII began he was lucky to not be sent to the front. Instead the NKVD chose him to become a cipher clerk. His job was to code and decode documents and messages sent by mail. This was necessary because there was no reliable way of communicating information secretly without having messengers intercepted by enemy spies. Gouzenko lived well in Russia, but he also saw the horrors of Stalin's regime all around him. He was sent to work in the Russian embassy for Colonel Nikolai Zabotin in 1943. His term was supposed to last 3 years. While in Canada, Gouzenko saw the many benefits of democracy and how much better it was than Stalin's regime. The most shocking scene he saw in Canada was at the airport, where he saw so many old people that in his book he commented on that fact that in Canada you can be old and "not only alive, but obviously happy," unlike in Russia, where people weren't allowed to get old. They would be killed before that. He also loved the freedom of speech in Canada. Most political articles in Canadian newspapers would be considered illegal in Russia and the authors wouldn't survive very long. Gouzenko was happily enjoying his stay in Canada when in 1944 Zabotin informed him that for unknown reasons he was ordered to return to Russia immediately. The only explanation is that he did something and he was in trouble with the government, and in those times trouble meant death or prison. However, with negotiation, Gouzenko managed to get permission to stay a year longer. That's when he realized that he needed to do something unless he wanted to die when he went back to Russia. He started panning his defection early. When the time to return was nearing, he had gathered 108 secret documents and letters Ð'- 250 pages Ð'- in his home. On September 5th 1945 Ð'- a little after WWII was over Ð'- he had run out of time and had to either defect or go to Russia and likely be killed for knowing too much. In the evening of his last day of work he took all of the secret documents and letters he had and went to the Ottawa Journal with them. He didn't speak much English and the few people who were left at the office didn't understand well what he was saying, and when they did, they refused to take his documents and told him to go to the R.C.M.P. Gouzenko didn't trust the RCMP because he thought that there were Russians spies there too (which could easily have been true). He spent the two fearful days trying to make people take him seriously. He knew that Zabotin knew that he hadn't shown up for work and probably noticed that some documents are missing. Eventually, the RCMP realized that he had some important information and decided to give him and his family protection and let him testify. In order to stop communism, its supporters had to be stopped. Several months later, using the documents that Gouzenko stole, the RCMP made over 100 arrests of communists in positions of power. 20 were tried and 11 convicted. Igor worked hard to make sure that as many people as possible are convicted.

Igor Gouzenko was married to Anna Gouzenko at the time he defected. She was pregnant with their daughter Ð'- Evelyn. They also had a little boy Ð'- Andrei. Eventually Igor's defection had a negative effect on his family. His family that was in Russia suffered as well as his family in Canada. His mother was interrogated by the N.K.V.D. at a prison in Lubianka. As a result, she died. One can safely assume that she was tortured to death. Igor thought that his sister, Irina and his brother Vsevolod were dead, the former because of his defection and the latter since WWII.5 However, according to Gouzenko's criminal file from 1956, they were actually living somewhere in the district of Cheliabinsk.5 Anna's family of two parents and a sister were all imprisoned for five years while her niece, Tatiana was sent to an orphanage. 5 It may seems like Igor Gouzenko was "extraordinarily callous" as one RCMP officer called him when he knew what would happen to Gouzenko's family if he defected, but he explains his actions as he writes:

"My decision was a harsh one but, believe me, it was the only way to break the vicious Ð''hostage circle' used by the Soviet to hold and muzzle those persons sent to foreign embassies."

He also said that it was "for the ultimate good of a new Russia" and that "Mother was getting old and in Russia today, people aren't permitted to grow very old" and therefore she would have died soon whether he defected or not. These are the words of a man willing to fight for democracy at all costs and a man who did not defect for personal gain.

Gouzenko did not live a happy life after he defected. He was not taken care of by the RCMP well at all. For several years the Gouzenkos lived in an old house on some unknown location in the middle of nowhere. They were given no money. All they got was almost enough food to survive and something like a shelter. Igor Gouzenko eventually had to do something about it. He sold the rights to his story to Holywood and wrote two books. One was an autobiography called "The Iron Curtain" and the other a novel called "The Fall of a Titan" which



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