Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods



William Skardon
William Skardon

On December 21, 1949, Arnold introduced his friend to Skardon and left the two to chat alone. Skardon, a tall man who smoked a pipe, invited Klaus to sit.

Klaus described his concern about his father accepting a professorship in theology at the University of Leipzig in East Germany. Would he be a security risk because of it?

Skardon said he did not think so, but then startled Klaus by asking:

"Were you not in touch with a Soviet representative while you were in New York? And did you not pass on information to that person about your work?

"I don't think so," he answered ambiguously.

"Skardon told him there was 'precise information which shows that you have been guilty of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union.'" ( Richard Rhodes, Dark Sun)

After another hour, with Klaus admitting nothing, other than having once been a member of the German Communist Party, Skardon suddenly stopped and asked Klaus to get in touch with him if he had anything else he wanted to discuss with him.

The Christmas holidays passed. Despite some jovial Christmas parties, Klaus became more and more concerned. Finally, two weeks into the New Year, Klaus knocked at the door of Arnold's office and told his friend he needed to speak again with Skardon.

Arnold looked up from the papers he was working on and promised to call Skardon for Klaus.

* * *

Klaus headed to London. Paddington Station was austere. Britain had not yet recovered from the war, and London was a grim place, particularly on a gray January day. He walked the half-mile to MI5 headquarters, past one of the tobacco shops where he had once met with the Girl from Banbury, handing her documents, which she silently accepted, then disappearing into an entrance to the Underground.

The lift to the third floor, to Skardon's office, creaked slowly. He walked down a corridor with beige walls, interrupted by doors with frosted glass windows. Finally, he arrived at Skardon's office. He took a deep breath and went in. A middle-aged secretary looked up from her desk.

Before the secretary could reply, Skardon came out of his office to greet him.

Once seated at the plain table in what was, in reality, an interrogation room, Klaus began to speak. Klaus told Skardon briefly that he had been giving secrets to Soviet Russia since 1942. Skardon stopped him and called in a stenographer.

Skardon again asked Klaus what secrets he gave to the Russians. Klaus explained that he could only tell him what he did and that he could not discuss the secret material with Skardon.

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