25 October 1957* (St 52/128) Wilfred Burchett

Central Committee approves July 1957 KGB request for one-off grant (20,000 roubles) and awards 3,000 rouble monthly allowance to WILFRED BURCHETT, Moscow correspondent of the National Guardian (USA) newspaper [Russian: 25 Oct 57, 5 pp] total 5 pp. Also contains text of KGB request (17 July 1957, 1379-S), pp. 3-5.


[page one of five]

52/128 of 25 October 1957

Special File



Request of the Committee for State Security at the USSR Council of Ministers

To grant the request of the Committee for State Security under the Council of Ministers of the USSR for a single payment to Burchett, the correspondent of the “National Guardian” newspaper, the organ of the American Progressive Party, of 20,000 roubles and a monthly subsidy of 3,000 roubles.

Sent to:  Comrade Serov [Chairman KGB]

Excerpt distributed :
25 October 1957
[signed] Sidorova


[page two – duplicate typed version of page one]

52/128, 25 October [195]7

Request of the Committee for State Security at the USSR Council of Ministers

Grant the request of the Committee for State Security under the Council of Ministers of the USSR for a single payment to Burchett, the correspondent of the “National Guardian” newspaper, the organ of the American Progressive Party, of 20,000 roubles and a monthly subsidy of 3,000 roubles.

Central Committee Secretary

Sent to:  Comrade Serov [Chairman KGB]


[page three – 17 July 1957 (No 1379-S)]

Top secret

Committee of State Security [KGB] of the USSR Council of Ministers

17 July 1957, No 1379-S


To the CPSU Central Committee

I report that at the end of May this year, an officer of the Committee for State Security established operative contact with W[ilfred]. Burchett, correspondent of the “National Guardian” newspaper, the organ of the US Progressive Party, who is accredited in Moscow.

Earlier Burchett worked for many bourgeois newspapers such as the British Daily Express and The Times, the American Christian Science Monitor and others.

From the materials available to the Committee for State Security about the personality of Burchett and his activities, the following is known:

Burchett (b. 1911) is an Australian of English origin, who was born in the family of a farmer. In 1934 to 1935, Burchett joined the “Friends of the Soviet Union” and began to maintain contacts with progressive elements and members of the Australian Communist Party. In 1936, he joined the Communist Party [1] and, not having distinguished himself in any way as a member of the Party, he left for London. Since that time, he has not had any organisational links with the Party.

Burchett is a prominent journalist and publicist on international questions, the author of many progressive books, two of which were published in the Soviet Union. A correspondent for bourgeois newspapers of a right-wing inclination, he simultaneously collaborated confidentially with progressive and communist newspapers and journals.


[page four]                                                                                                         2.

Burchett has travelled a great deal. He was in the USA. During a long period of time he lived in Europe and in the countries of the Far East, where he established major connections in political and journalistic circles. Before his arrival in the Soviet Union, he lived in Hanoi and Peking.

Working in Berlin as a correspondent of the Daily Express, he repeatedly travelled to the People’s Democracies – Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria. At the same time, he cooperated with the international Telepress agency.

In 1948, when this agency became Czechoslovakian and was headed by the Czech Jakš, the latter accused Burchett of collaborating with the English intelligence service. As a consequence, his second wife in Bulgaria, who lived in Sofia, was expelled from the Communist Party. It was subsequently revealed that Jakš was a provocateur and he was arrested by the Czechoslovak organs. After this, Burchett’s wife was rehabilitated and reinstated in the Bulgarian Communist Party.[2]

[Illegible, but seems to read: “Burchett visited Moscow twice, in 1954 and 1956”.] During these visits, an agent of the Committee for State Security was placed close to Burchett, who was informed in a cautious way that he could gain accreditation from a newspaper for permanent work in Moscow. After Burchett received an appointment in Moscow from the newspaper National Guardian, the relevant authorities took a decision on his accreditation and the provision of an apartment for him.

Because the editors of this newspaper cannot fully provide for Burchett in the role of its correspondent, he came to Moscow on the condition that he would be awarded a monetary subsidy, and have the opportunity of unpublicised collaboration in the Soviet press.

During the period of contact with Burchett we have succeeded in sufficient measure in studying his personal qualities and potential, the character of his


[page five]                                                                                                     3.

links to the political world abroad, and among the diplomatic corps and foreign journalists in Moscow, and we have also received an array of interesting materials from him in written form.

Considering that Burchett, by his personal qualities and extensive links in political and journalistic circles represents unquestionable interest for our operations, we have taken a decision to engage Burchett in collaboration with the organs of the KGB.

On our instructions, Burchett is seeking opportunities to penetrate the American and West European press.

Considering our interest in the journalistic activities of Burchett for the bourgeois press, in a way that is desirable to us, and in his covert collaboration with the Soviet press, the Committee for State Security requests a one-time payment to Burchett of 20,000 roubles and a monthly subsidy of 4,000 roubles.

A draft resolution of the CPSU Central Committee is attached.

Chairman of the Committee for State Security of the Council of Ministers





[1] This implies that BURCHETT (1911-1983) remained a covert member of the Communist Party after he left Australia. That he had “not distinguished himself” as a Party member can also be read as not having drawn attention to himself in that capacity.

Like any clandestine, Burchett’s contacts thereafter were not through the Australian or any other Communist Party but directly with the KGB, then headed (1954-1958) by Ivan Serov.

[2] Two articles by Robert Manne in THE MONTHLY (Australia) discuss Burchett’s role and reputation.

The first article, “Agent of Influence: Reassessing Wilfred Burchett”, No. 35 (June 2008) was published before this KGB application to the Central Committee became widely known. Manne’s second article “Wilfred Burchett and the KGB”,  No. 92 (August 2013) considers the evidence provided by the above document, and compares its contents to previously published sources.


  1. Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [];
  2. Text added by hand is indicated in italic script;
  3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been added to a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.

Translation by Robert Horvath, July 2013