Marcus Klingberg, known as the highest-ranking Soviet spy ever caught in Israel, died on Nov. 30, 2015. His life story will always be one of the most shocking real-life spy scandals for the State of Israel.
“This is the type of story they write TV series or movies or captivating books about. There aren’t many people like him,” Avigdor Feldman, one of his lawyers, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
A biologist first, Klingberg’s life as a spy unfolded when he was arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet in January 1983. He was convicted of spying on Israel for the KGB of the former Soviet Union for the past 30 years. He was Polish but escaped to the Soviet Union in 1939 when World War 2 started with the German invasion of Poland. He might have loved the Soviet Union as his home.
He immigrated to Israel with his wife and daughter where he was accepted into the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps. He eventually reached the rank of lieutenant colonel working at a classified Israeli biological research institute. In 1957, he was delegated as the deputy head of the Israel Institute for Biological research only to be arrested in 1983 for providing the Soviet Union with information about Israel’s bioterror weapons.
There were reports that he confessed to being a spy and was sentenced thereafter to 20 years in prison. In 1998 he was released to house arrest. In 2003, when his sentence ended, he left Israel and lived with his daughter and grandson in Paris.
Publicly, he never admitted to being a spy for the Soviet Union. “I didn’t think of myself as a spy; even today I don’t consider myself a former spy,” he wrote in his memoir titled “The Last Spy.” In an article written for The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine in 2010, he said he owed his life to the Soviet Union. “My feelings about this remain with me despite the fall of the Soviet Union, a country to which not only I owe my life, as well as my career in epidemiology and my most useful work; but above all, the opportunity to fight fascism.”