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Authors: Evelyn Anthony

Tags: #Fiction, #Espionage, #Mystery & Detective, #General

The Defector (29 page)

BOOK: The Defector
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“Mother,” Irina entreated, “Don’t cry-please don’t cry.” She held Fedya Sasanova in her arms, and she could feel how thin she had become. They had brought Fedya up to an interview room, and then to the surprise of both women, they had been left alone. Fedya clung to her daughter and sobbed. And as she embraced her, she whispered, “Don’t say anything; they’re listening in. Have you any jiews of your father -just tell me, quickly.” Irina kissed her, “Don’t be upset,” she said loudly.

“Try to control yourself.” And then in a whisper, “I’m waiting; I’ll have news soon.” Fedya was wearing a plain clean overall; she had been allowed a brush and comb and a small mirror. Her food rations had improved suddenly. Nobody had questioned her again, but she had been told to copy out a letter that horrified her. And copy it again and again, with variations. This happened in the middle of the night, without any explanation. She gazed at her daughter through the brimming tears, and tried to smile.

“You look well,” she said.

“Are you studying hard? You mustn’t worry about me, I’m being well looked after. We can sit down here.” There were two upright chairs, which Irina pulled close facing each other. She sat opposite her mother and reached out to take her hands in hers.

“I’m working hard,” she said.

“Oh, mother, I don’t want to reproach you, but why did you tell lies about my father? Don’t you realize what you did? You knew he wasn’t well? Why didn’t you alert his superiors?” The hands holding Fedya’s were squeezing hard in warning. Anguish of mind had sharpened her wits. She hung her head and muttered.

“I know. I know I did wrong. Try to forgive me, Irina. I deserve to be punished for it. I just hope the authorities will be merciful. But you must forgive me you must. Now that your father is dead…” She gave way to a flood of tears.

“I mustn’t cry,” Irina reminded herself.

“I mustn’t betray myself. She knows what I’m doing, she understands I don’t mean a word…” Aloud she said, “He’d be alive if you hadn’t failed him. But what’s done is done now. Listen, Mother, Comrade Volkov let me see you. He says you’ll be given a chance to rehabilitate yourself. You’ve got to work hard and obey the rules, and you won’t be away for very long. Will you promise me to do that? ” Fedya signalled to her daughter to get up. They had been allotted ten minutes and the time was nearly up. She embraced her again, and whispered in her ear.

“If you get a message if I say” your little mother” don’t believe it. It will be a lie. I’ll never come home, my darling. It doesn’t matter. Go the West. Go to your father. Tell him I love him. ” The door opened and the guard came into the room. He put his hand on Fedya’s arm.

“Time is up,” he said. He took her away, and she glanced over her shoulder at Irina and gave a wan smile.

“Goodbye,” she said clearly, ‘. little daughter. ” It was the old-fashioned Russian endearment from parent to child. Irina was escorted out of the building. Volkov’s Volga car slid to the side entrance. The driver opened the rear door for her. She asked to go home to her apartment. On the journey back he glanced into the rear-view mirror, as instructed, but she wasn’t crying. She appeared quite calm, he reported later. The de humaya crept up to listen outside the flat door once she had gone inside, but she heard nothing until the girl switched on the radio to a programme of popular music. That evening, without warning, Antonyii Volkov called on her. He sat down in the small sitting-room and accepted a glass of vodka. She was pale and puny-eyed. She had kept her tears until she was alone, as he expected she would. His opinion of her courage had been right. She was a brave and resolute creature, although naive. He listened while she described her meeting with her mother, and when she thanked him, he only nodded. He accepted a second vodka. Then he told her he was sorry to bring her bad news. The head of the Committee for State Security had been reviewing Fedya Sasanova’s case. In spite of all Volkov’s efforts on her behalf, they had refused to be lenient. She was being shipped to the Kolyma labour camps the next day. The complex at Kolyma were the worst of all the penal colonies, deep in the Arctic Circle at the eastern end of Siberia. No one sent there had ever returned. He set his glass down on the little table by his chair, folded his hands and watched her, waiting.

“Do you have an English translation of Crime and Punishment The girl assistant at the foreign books counter shook her head.

“No,” she said brusquely.

“We don’t have that in English.”

“Would it be possible to order one?” Jeremy Spencer Barr inquired. The assistant shook her head. She seemed to enjoy frustrating him.

“I couldn’t say,” she said, and turned her back on him. Spencer-Barr felt a touch on his arm. A young man was beside him.

“Excuse me, but I heard you asking for Crime and Punishment in English.”

“Yes, I did,” Jeremy said.

“Apparently there isn’t one, and nobody can help. I want to improve my Russian by retranslating it.”

“Well, you could try the library at the University,” the man suggested.

“If your purpose is study, they might lend a copy.”

“Thank you very much,” Jeremy said.

“That’s most kind. I’ll go along there.” He walked away; the Russian lingered, asking for books which he had ordered.

“They’re not in,” the girl snapped. She had heard him offer help to the foreigner and she was sullen.

“I sent for them a month ago,” Poliakov protested.

“I need them for my students. Why can’t you ever get anything quickly?”

“Because we don’t print them, Comrade,” she sneered.

“We only sell books. If you want to complain, write to the printers.” She picked up a sheaf of bills and marched away from the counter. Poliakov made his way to the shelves at the back of the shop. He stopped beside Spencer-Barr, who was reading a book of Russian verse.

“My name is Daniel,” he said. Spencer-Barr didn’t look up from the book.

“What news of the Daughter?” Poliakov took a book from the same shelf and opened it.

“Worrying news,” he said.

“I won’t have an opportunity to see her before next Thursday. Rumours have been going round the University.”

“What kind of rumours?” Jeremy asked, turning a page.

“Rumours that she’s under some Party boss’s protection,” Poliakov murmured.

“An official car has picked her up every weekend. I checked on it myself. It belongs to An-tony ii Volkov. KGB.” Spencer-Barr closed the book of poetry and slotted it back into the shelf.

“Meaning she’s working for them? It wouldn’t be made public if she were.”

“That’s what I tell myself,” Poliakov said.

“Volkov was her father’s superior. She could make a deal to help her mother.”

“It’ll be interesting to see if she mentions him on Thurs day,” Jeremy said.

“If she doesn’t, we’ll have to do some thing about her. Otherwise you and all your people will be arrested. We can’t have that. ” He ran a finger over the row of books and pulled out another one.

“Leave a bus ticket in this book of poetry to let me know you’ve seen her.

I’ll meet you here at three o’clock on Friday.” Poliakov nodded.

“We’d better go now. You leave first.”

“Good luck,” Jeremy said. He replaced the book and walked away.

“Oh, my dear, my dear, how happy I am!” The grey-haired woman embraced Davina, and then kissed Peter Harrington, enthusing over them loudly. She wiped her eyes, and said, “Forgive me it’s so long since I’ve seen Helga. She’s so like my sister…”

They walked away, one on each side of her, their arms linked, watched by the sullen Vopo border police. They caught a bus to the Oktoberstrasse, a residential district built since the war. The grey buildings housed flats, their facades grim and uniform; each block had a caretaker who was in the pay of the State Security Police, the merciless SSD who held the population of the city in total subjection. The woman introduced them to the man on duty in the passage below her flat.

“My niece and her husband,” she said, “Herr Jaeger and his wife Helga they’ve come all the way from Hamburg to visit me! Isn’t that wonderful?” She hurried them to the lift, and they went up to the fifth floor. She opened the green-painted door, and they went into the flat. It was one room, with a kitchen and a shower. Three people did in fact seem like a crowd.

“I’ve done what I can,” she said, ‘but you’re not encouraged to decorate too much. ” She stripped off her coat, and she seemed taller and younger. The fussiness of manner had disappeared. She held out her hand and shook theirs in turn.

“Sit down,” she said.

“I’ll bring some coffee. And don’t worry; this place is quite clean. I have it checked regularly by a friend. He works in an electronics company.” She had a bold smile; it made her look quite handsome. She was the widow of a trade-union official who had been killed at Auschwitz by the Nazis, after a life spent struggling for socialism and freedom for his fellow-workers. Frieda was her code name; she had been part of the Communist underground that operated through the war inside Germany. She had never been caught, and her cover was so skilful that when the Gestapo seized her husband, she was considered too unimportant to warrant more than a brief, brutal questioning. She came out with a broken nose and three cracked ribs; but she was free and able to continue her work. The Russian liberation of her country had seemed to Frieda and to thousands of other left-wing Germans the justification for all they had suffered. In the smouldering ruins of Berlin they waited for the Red Army to deliver them. The deliverance was such that Frieda nearly lost her mind. An orgy of looting, rapine, summary executions and sheer savagery erupted in the city, and engulfed every German citizen, regardless of age or sex or political creed. Frieda managed to reach the Soviet command post in her district, hiding in the ruins, and avoiding the groups of drunken soldiers who were breaking down doors and dragging people out. The Russian commander’ was quite sober. She was brought in and pushed to her knees in front of him. She began to shout and protest at what was happening; she told him who she was and the name of her husband, and of the Party membership which had cost him his life. She was never clear about the details of what happened next; she had a memory of the Soviet commander taking her to the door and shouting in Russian. She was taken to the guardroom, where a dozen grinning men stripped and raped her, jeering and calling her comrade. She was found that night lying in the street outside the post, semiconscious and naked, bleeding from internal injuries. Two old men carried her to shelter in a cellar, and a little group of terrified people cared for her. There was a period in hospital, and then discharge. Where there had been chaos, now she found order. The streets were being cleared, supplies organized; the people cowered under a domination as iron-hard as the Nazi terror. This was East Germany under its Communist liberators; it became the German Democratic Republic under the newly formed government of Ulbricht. Frieda got a job in one of the new factories that were being built; she worked in the kitchens. She never mentioned her Party membership and she had a set of papers belonging to someone else, who had died during the first three months of Russian occupation. She had a new name, a new identity. Her mental and physical health recovered slowly, and with it the spirit that had survived life in Nazi Germany, and found the will to fight again. By the end of 1973 she had enrolled as a British agent, providing cover for infiltrators and refugees. The bogus Dieter and Helga Jaeger were two names to her; she knew as little of their real purpose in Berlin as they knew about her true identity. Suffering had not dimmed the quick intelligence, or the humour; she assumed her garrulous, elderly skin, and just as easily threw it off and laughed at herself.

“I call her my Doppelgdnger,” she explained.

“Fussy Frieda. That dirty spy downstairs doesn’t have to sneak after me;

I drive him mad telling him all about my day in the factory and what I bought for dinner, and how I’ve got a niece coming to visit me he almost hides when he sees me coming! I’m more worried about the couple who live down the passage. He’s a driver in the Ministry of Agriculture;

she works in the Charite Hospital. But they have good clothes, a colour television set. You don’t get luxuries like that from being an honest worker. I think he works for the SSD. That’s why I’ll slip you two out before they get back. Is everything clear? ” She addressed herself to Peter Harrington. As soon as they had crossed into East Berlin, Davina noticed how he changed. The middle-aged Englishman, with his rakish air and schoolboy humour, had disappeared as if he had suddenly stepped into a hole at her side and vanished. Peter Harrington had become Dieter Jaeger. He not only dressed like an East German, he walked like one, with a serious expression on his face, a brisk way of speaking and a tendency to push in front of her. The change was fascinating to her; she watched him, while he and Frieda examined the two sets of papers with their new identities. He was a true professional; watchful, keen and very wary. He passed one set of papers to her.

“Give Frieda your West German passport and visa,” he said.

“As soon as we get out of here, you’re Gertrude Fleischer, and I’m your husband Heinz.” Davina took the East German passport and opened it. Her own face stared at her. It was quite a shock till she remembered they had taken several sets of passport photographs at the house in Langham Place. Gertrude Fleischer, aged thirty-three, married, height five feet six inches, hair colour brown, eyes grey, distinguishing marks none;

home address, 331 Hoffburg, Karl Marx Platz, East Berlin 6. Occupation, secretary. She shut the narrow blue booklet; there was an envelope addressed to her, with an official postmark. She took the enclosure out. It was a visa, stamped by the Soviet Embassy, granting entry to the Black Sea resort of Livadia. She put the document and the passport into her handbag. Frieda stood up.

“I’ll walk you both to the bus; we’ll board together and I’ll get off three stops down. You continue till you get to the Air Terminal building. From there you’ll be taken by bus to the airport. Your flight leaves at nine o’clock.”

BOOK: The Defector
11.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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