Episode #10 – An Ex-KGB Spy in America with Jack Barsky & Chelsea Dittrich

An Ex-KGB Spy in America with Jack Barsky & Chelsea Dittrich

    Born in East Germany as Albrecht Dittrich, he was spotted and assessed for intelligence work while still in college in 1969. Dittrich was approached by a Stasi agent and later met with a KGB agent who offered him a critical assignment that would require him to break completely with his former life. Dittrich agreed. 

    He went on to be trained in the USSR for several years where he learned tradecraft and studied English with an American woman who’d fallen in love with a KGB man and followed him back to the Soviet Union. In 1978 he finally entered the United States by a circuitous route requiring three separate aliases, where he began to live under the name Jack Barsky, taken from a young boy born around the same time as Dittrich, who had passed away at the age of ten. 

    For the next decade he lived and worked undercover, performing various tasks for the KGB, all the while building his legend in the US. He worked to make contact with influential figures in the US government, and to spot and assess other possible candidates for KGB recruitment. 

    Then in 1987, the signal came. He was recalled to the Soviet Union for reasons unknown. But Jack wasn’t ready to leave his American family behind. His newborn daughter Chelsea anchored him, and he decided to risk everything and defy the KGB, so that Chelsea could grow up with her father by her side. 

    For episode 10 of the Spycraft 101 podcast, I talked to both Jack and Chelsea about their incredible life stories. Jack’s work in the United States, and Chelsea’s eventual realization of who her father really was, and what he’d done to stay with her. 

    You can read more about Jack and Chelsea’s incredible story in his book Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America.

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