Harry Gold

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For other people named Harry Gold, see Harry Gold (disambiguation).
Harry Gold
U.S. vs. Julius & Ethel Rosenberg and Martin Sobell, Government Exhibit 5, photograph of Harry Gold - NARA - 278750.jpg
Harry Gold after his arrest by the FBI
Born (1910-12-11)December 11, 1910
Bern, Switzerland
Died August 28, 1972(1972-08-28) (aged 61)
Resting place Har Nebo Cemetery
Occupation Laboratory chemist
Criminal charge Conspiracy to commit espionage
Criminal penalty 30 year sentence
Criminal status parolled after 14 years

Harry Gold (December 11, 1910 – August 28, 1972) was a laboratory chemist and spy for a number of Soviet spy rings operating in the United States during the Manhattan Project.

Early life[edit]

Gold was born Heinrich Golodnostskiy in Bern, Switzerland, to Russian Jewish immigrants. On 13 July 1914, the family arrived at Ellis Island, New York, where they changed their family name to Gold. They moved to south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] As a young man, he became interested in socialism, which eventually led him to contacts within the Communist movement.[citation needed]

After leaving South Philadelphia High School in August 1928 (receiving his diploma in February 1929), Gold was a woodworker at Giftcrafters in Kensington, Philadelphia. From December 1928, he was an entry-level worker for the Pennsylvania Sugar Company. In April 1934, Tasso Lessing Black recruited Gold for Soviet espionage.[2] From 1934 to 1936, he studied chemical engineering at Drexel Institute, while working as a Pennsylvania Sugar Company laboratory assistant. Gold attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude in 1940.[3] In February 1946, he lost his Sugar Company job. From June 1946, he worked for Brothman Associates.[4]


In 1940, Jacob Golos activated Harry Gold for Soviet espionage, but he was not a recruited agent of the rezidentura. This changed in the late 1940's, when Soviet Case Officer Semyon Semenov appropriated Gold from Golos.[5] Gold became a formally recruited Soviet agent at this time, and was assigned the codename GUS, GOS, or GOOSE. Semenov remained Gold's control officer until March 1944.

In 1950, Klaus Fuchs was arrested in England and charged with espionage. Fuchs confessed that while working in the United States during World War II he had passed information about the atom bomb to the Soviet Union. Fuchs denied working with other spies, except for a courier who collected information from him. When initially shown photographs of suspects, including Gold, he failed to identify him as the courier, but did so after subsequent prompting.[6]

Under interrogation, Gold admitted that he had been involved in espionage since 1934 and had helped Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union by way of Soviet General Consul Anatoli Yakovlev. Gold's confession led to the arrest of David Greenglass. His testimony resulted in the arrest, trial, and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.[7]

In 1951, Gold was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. In May 1965, he was paroled after serving just under half of his sentence. In 1972, he died in Philadelphia, age 62;[8] he was interred in Har Nebo Cemetery in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hornblum, 2010: 5
  2. ^ Hornblum, 2010: 38
  3. ^ Frances Griggs Sloat. "Time Trials". Xavier Magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ Hornblum, 2010: 160-161
  5. ^ Williams, Robert Chadwell (1987). Klaus Fuchs: Atom Spy. Harvard University Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-674-50507-7. 
  6. ^ "Interview with Robert Lamphere". PBS.org. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ Hornblum, 2010
  8. ^ Whitman, Alden (February 14, 1974). "1972 Death of Harry Gold Revealed". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-07. Harry Gold, who served 15 years in Federal prison as a confessed atomic spy courier, for Klaus Fuchs, a Soviet agent, and who was a key Government witness in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg espionage case in 1951, died 18 months ago in Philadelphia. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Harry Gold testimony, April 26, 1956, part 20, 1020, both in “Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States,” U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act, 84th Cong., 2d sess.
  • Hoover, J. Edgar (1951-05-00). "The Crime of the Century: the Case of the A-Bomb Spies". Reader's Digest. 58 (349): 149–168.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Hornblum, Allen M. "The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb," New Have: Yale University Press, 2010 ISBN 978-0-300-15676-8
  • Lamphere, Robert and Shachtman, Tom. The FBI-KGB War, New York: Random House, 1986
  • Trahair, Richard C.S. and Miller, Robert. Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations, Enigma Books 2009 ISBN 978-1-929631-75-9
  • Sheinken, Steve. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

External links[edit]

Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) Full text of Alexander Vassiliev's notebooks, including more information on Gold's involvement in espionage.