Harry Gold

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Harry Gold after his arrest by the FBI

Harry Gold (December 11, 1910 – August 28, 1972) was a laboratory chemist who was convicted of being the courier for a number of Soviet spy rings during the Manhattan Project.

Early life

Gold was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Russian Jewish immigrants. As a young man he became interested in socialism which eventually led him to contacts within the Communist movement.[citation needed]

After leaving school, Gold worked for the Pennsylvania Sugar Company as a laboratory assistant. He lost his job in 1932 as a result of the Great Depression. After a variety of menial jobs, Gold studied chemical engineering at Drexel Institute (1934–36). Gold attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude in 1940.[1] Gold was recruited into espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union in 1935 by Thomas Lessing Black. He eventually found work with Brothman Associates.[citation needed]


In 1940, Harry Gold was activated for Soviet espionage by Jacob Golos, but he was not a recruited agent of the rezidentura. This changed in the late 1940s when Soviet Case Officer Semyon Semenov appropriated Gold from Golos.[2] Gold became a formally recruited Soviet agent at this time, and was assigned the codename GUS, or GOOSE. Semenov remained Gold's control officer until March 1944.

In 1950, Klaus Fuchs was arrested in England and charged with espionage. Fuchs confessed that while working in the United States during World War II he had passed information about the atom bomb to the Soviet Union. Fuchs denied working with other spies, except for a courier who collected information from him. When initially shown photographs of suspects, including Gold, he failed to identify him as the courier, but did so after subsequent prompting.[3]

Under interrogation, Gold admitted that he had been involved in espionage since 1934 and had helped Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union by way of Soviet General Consul Anatoli Yakovlev. Gold's confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass. His testimony resulted in the arrest, trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, though he was later accused by defenders of the Rosenbergs of being a somewhat unreliable witness. Gold's biographer Allen Hornblum has countered these claims, defending the accuracy of Gold's testimony and the tremendous amount of detailed information that he provided to investigators.[4]

Gold was sentenced in 1951 to thirty years imprisonment and was paroled in May 1965, after serving just under half of his sentence. He died in 1972 in Philadelphia, age 62;[5] he was interred in Har Nebo Cemetery in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

See also


  1. Frances Griggs Sloat. "Time Trials". Xavier Magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Williams, Robert Chadwell (1987). Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy. Harvard University Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-674-50507-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Interview with Robert Lamphere". PBS.org. Retrieved November 24, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Hornblum, Allen (2010). The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-15676-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Whitman, Alden (February 14, 1974). "1972 Death of Harry Gold Revealed". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-07. Harry Gold, who served 15 years in Federal prison as a confessed atomic spy courier, for Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet agent, and who was a key Government witness in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg espionage case in 1951, died 18 months ago in Philadelphia.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Harry Gold testimony, April 26, 1956, part 20, 1020, both in “Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States,” U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act, 84th Cong., 2d sess.
  • Lamphere, Robert and Shachtman, Tom. The FBI-KGB War, New York: Random House, 1986
  • Trahair, Richard C.S. and Miller, Robert. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, Enigma Books 2009 ISBN 978-1-929631-75-9
  • Sheinken, Steve. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

External links

Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) Full text of Alexander Vassiliev's notebooks (including more information on Gold's involvement in espionage.)