Clandestine war of superpowers is much more intriguing than any fiction, however we know little or nothing about it. Those who participate in actions usually do not prepare documents telling the story. That’s where fiction, based on a true story, fills the gap. Contra-ODESSA is such a story, based on true events. Below is an excerpt from the book.
From the Author
Inspired by a true story, this novel is about the activity of KGB and CIA agents in Argentina in 1960s. Enthused by success of the Cuban revolution, Soviet Union leaders stretched their resources to support communist and leftist radical groups in Argentina in their struggle for power. America was very active there as well, supporting political parties and movements that opposed the assault of communism. Interests of the two superpowers, as well as their secret services, collided in Latin America.
Shortage of foreign currency was one of serious obstacles for the Soviets. To solve this problem, at least in part, they sent to Argentina a group of its best operatives with the task to find Nazi criminals and high-ranking SS officers, who kept their fortunes in Swiss banks—fortunes obtained by looting during World War II—and extort from them their secret account numbers. This money was indeed used for support of the communist movement in Latin America. I happened to know about this operation by sheer chance.
Once, on a bright Saturday morning, my long-time friend Dr. Z visited me for a cup of coffee and a small talk. Before coming to Canada he lived in the former Soviet Union, where he was a reputable doctor in charge of elite sport teams. Among the best in the field, he was widely known in the privileged circles of the communist regime. He was regularly sought after to treat the privileged of all sorts: prominent party leaders, technocrats, and—another part of the human race susceptible to ills—high-ranking KGB and GRU officers. Many of those secret service bosses became alcoholics and drug addicts who, sensing the end of life approaching, were eager to share with someone trustworthy the intriguing secrets of their past. Perhaps, knowing that Dr. Z was friendly with many famous Soviet writers they had hoped that he would tell them the story, which, as they had thought, should belong to history. Or, it might have been the intelligence, quick wit, charisma, and excellent “miracle” medical service, which was Dr. Z’s signature at every visit that loosened their tongues, leading them to spill the beans.
At the time of Dr. Z’s visit, I was writing a novel about Stalin’s time and needed access to open KGB archives. When our second cups of coffee arrived, I asked him if he still knew someone who could help me with this. He promised to make some calls.
“You know,” he said, “some twenty years back, I had a few patients among top-ranking KGB people. One of them called me at one o’clock in the morning. ‘Come to me at once,’ he said. He begged me to save his life. Although I was still mostly asleep, I detected by the timbre of his voice that he was dying. Using words that were never a part of my vocabulary, I dressed up and went to him. When I arrived, I recognized that he was drunk, and obviously had one leg in the grave.
“’I have to take you to the hospital,’ I said to him. ‘I have neither proper medical instruments, nor the whole range of medication, to save your life.’
“’No, no,’ he protested. ‘Under no circumstances. This will ruin whatever remained of my carrier in KGB, and subsequently my whole life. I would rather die.’
“’But if you die in my hands, it would ruin my carrier,’ I argued, ‘and perhaps a lawsuit will follow.’
“Anyway, to make a long story short,” Dr. Z continued, “I did whatever I could. It took a few hours to bring him back to the land of living. In late morning, when he felt much better, I was about to leave but he begged me to stay.
“’I need your company, please,’ he said. ‘I want to tell you some stories of my life. You know, in the ’60s, I was one of those who were in charge of organizing a heat team, whose task was to find former SS members and Nazis who kept their money in secret accounts in Swiss banks, and make them speak. Eventually the team got in quite a mess there. Four of them disappeared without a trace. But later I got a hint of what happened to them. They had plenty of professionally forged passports, connections in different parts of the globe, incredible skills.’
“Suddenly he was so weak that he fell asleep,” Dr. Z said. “At that time I was not interested in the story. I had so many encounters with people like him, heard so many no less intriguing stories, that another one wouldn’t bother me a bit in my state of exhaustion. All I wanted was to go to bed. I have never seen him afterward.”
Dr. Z said that he did not know the names of KGB operatives. Most likely, this was true, although even if he did know them, he wouldn’t have told me. In the middle or late 1960s, when they operated in Latin America, they were young, in their late twenties or early thirties, which means that as of now, in the year 2011, they may be still alive in their late sixties or early seventies.