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Soble in 1957
|Birth name||Abromas Sobolevicius|
15 May 1903|
Jack Soble (May 15, 1903 – 1967) was a Lithuanian who, together with his brother Robert Soblen, penetrated Leon Trotsky's entourage for Soviet intelligence in the 1920s. Later, in the United States, he was jailed together with his wife Myra on espionage charges. He was born in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania as Abromas Sobolevicius and sometimes used the name Abraham Sobolevicius or Adolph Senin.
Soble was born in 1903, Abromas Sobolevicius, in then-Russian controlled Lithuania to a wealthy Jewish family. Soble travelled to Leipzig, Germany in 1921, to attend college, and where he joined the German Communist Party. In 1927, travelled to the Soviet Union, where he married and then returned to Germany. Soble studied briefly at the University of Berlin where he became a Trotskyist which led to his expulsion from the Communist Party and the university. Decades later, Soble would claim that he was coerced by Soviet agents to become a spy in 1931 after his wife returned to the USSR to visit her sick mother and threats to her safety were made if he did not cooperate. These claims are considered suspect as there is evidence that Soble had earlier contact with Stalin's agents.
Soble, who now adopted the name Abraham Senin, became publicly known as a prominent member of the German Trotskyist circle, visiting Leon Trotsky himself on at least two occasions. But suspicions were aroused about his activities and Trotsky booted Senin and his brother from the party. Soble returned to the USSR, and began work for Profintern. In 1940, Soviet spymaster Lavrenty Beria dispatched the entire Soble family to the United States, by way of Japan and Canada. Soble later testified that Beria had told him that if he undertook the mission to spy on the United States, Beria would allow Soble's entire family to leave the Soviet Union.
Soble arrived in 1941, and took over supervision of an NKVD spy ring known as the "Mocase", replacing Vasily Zarubin who under the pseudonym "Vasili Zubilin" became the head of the NKVD in the United States.
The seeds of Soble's downfall came were actually sown in 1947, when founding member of the ring, Boris Morros confessed to FBI agents that he had been working as a Soviet spy. Morros agreed to operate as a double agent, betraying Soble and the other members of the ring. Both Soble and his wife, Myra, were arrested in 1957. Morros also named Jane Foster Zlatovski, her husband George Zlatovski, Alfred Stern, Robert Soblen, and Jacob Albam as members of the espionage ring.
After their arrest, the Sobles were interviewed numerous times, Jack at the Federal Correction Facility in Danbury, Connecticut and Myra at the Women's House of Detention, in New York City, where they provided some information. They were questioned about members of the Rosenberg spy ring, but they both denied knowing many of the members. The Sobles revealed that they had traveled to Russia, Lithuania, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Canada, and the United States on behalf of Soviet intelligence. On a mission to gather intelligence on Stalin opponent Leon Trotsky, Soble visited Trotsky in Turkey in 1931 and in Copenhagen, Denmark a year later.
While awaiting Trial, Soble attempted to commit suicide and government attorneys described him as a "psychopathic personality." After a trial, both Soble and Myra Sobre, along with their associate Jacob Albam, were convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to prison. Myra Soble received a five-and-a-half year prison sentence for her role in the espionage ring. On October 8, 1957, Federal Judge Richard H. Levet, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, reduced her sentence to four years.
Soble himself was sentenced to a seven-year sentence, which he began serving at Lewisburg Prison. In 1958, Soble intentionally swallowed more than a pound of nuts and bolts, in what was characterized as a suicide attempt but which Soble later claimed was a protest against prison conditions. In 1961, Soble testified against his brother, despite attempts by Robert's attorney to have Soble declared mentally incompetent. Robert Soblen committed suicide in 1962, and shortly thereafter, Soble was released early for good behavior.
Following his release, Soble continued to testify for the government in other espionage trials.
- "Life Histories of Three Named as Red Spies". Chicago Tribune. January 26, 1957. p. 2.
- Conant, Jennet (2011). A Covert Affair. New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 326. ISBN 1439163537.
- Haynes, John Earl; Klehr, Harvey (2000). Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America. Yale University Press. pp. 250–252.
- Carlisle, Rodney (2004). Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. Routledge. p. 582.
- "Jack Soble's Release Bared; Spy's Brother". The Chicago Tribune. 12 September 1962. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jack Soble.|
- Schafranek, Hans, Das kurze Leben des Kurt Landau. Ein österreichischer Kommunist als Opfer der stalinistischen Geheimpolizei, Wien 1988, pp. 224–249, 319-327 (concerning the origins of Soble's activities for the GPU and the infiltration of the Trotskyist movement in Germany 1928 - 1933)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Freedom of Information Act
- Haynes, John Earl, and Klehr, Harvey, Early Cold War Spies: The Espionage Trials that Shaped American Politics, Cambridge University Press (2006)
- Haynes, John Earl & Klehr, Harvey, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, Yale University Press (1999).