Talk:Rudolf Abel

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Good article Rudolf Abel has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.

Birthplace discrepancy[edit]

According to the FBI at "Rudolph Ivanovich Abel (Hollow Nickel Case)", Abel was not born in the UK, but rather:

"Mark" [Collins or simply "MARK"] made another admission—that he was a Russian citizen, Rudolf Ivanovich Abel, born July 2, 1902 in the Soviet Union. Although he refused to discuss his intelligence activities, the photo studio and hotel room which he occupied were virtual museums of modern espionage equipment. They contained shortwave radios, cipher pads, cameras and film for producing microdots, a hollow shaving brush, cuff links, and numerous other "trick" containers.

We need to address this discrepancy, particularly since this FBI page already in among this article's footnotes. --Tenebrae (talk) 19:50, 4 October 2015 (UTC)

There is no discrepancy regarding Vilyam "Willie" Genrikhovich Fisher's birthplace and birthdate. You are confusing the "real" Rudolf Ivanovich Abel with a story fabricated by Fisher when questioned by the FBI in 1957, that he was a Russian living under false identities and gave his real name that of a deceased friend and KGB colleague, Rudolf Ivanovich Abel. The Centre, Fisher knew, would realize he had been arrested as soon as it saw the name Abel on the front page of the American newspapers. The name "Abel" stuck. Adamdaley (talk) 01:16, 10 October 2015 (UTC)


The last sentence in the fourth paragraph is inaccurate:

During this period Fisher stated that his real name was Rudolf Ivanovich Abel and that he was a Soviet citizen, although he refused to discuss his intelligence activities. By stating his real name, Fisher was trying to send a covert signal to Moscow to let them know that he had been captured.

According to "The Spy of Cadman Plaza" by Nathan Ward, published in the New York Times on April 24, 2009:

When he was caught in 1957, he identified himself as Rudolph Ivanovich Abel; that was the name of a dead K.G.B. colonel.

So if Abel was trying to send a signal to Moscow, he was not doing so by stating his real name. I am adding a sentence prior to and recrafting the last sentence as follows: "Rudolf Ivanovich Abel" was the name of a deceased KGB colonel.<ref>{{cite web |url= |title="The Spy of Caman Plaza" |last1=Ward |first1=Nathan |date=24 April 2009 | |publisher=The New York Times Company |access-date=18 October 2015}}</ref> By stating this name, Fisher was trying ... A.T.S. in Texas (talk) 06:13, 19 October 2015 (UTC) Born in the United Kingdom to Russian émigré parents, Fisher moved to Russia in the 1920s and served in the Soviet military before undertaking foreign service as a radio operator in Soviet intelligence in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He later served in an instructional role before taking part in intelligence operations against the Germans during World War II. After the war, he began working for the KGB, which sent him to the United States where he worked as part of a spy ring based in New York City.

Real Name?[edit]

Why is his "real name" Vilyam "Willie" Genrikhovich Fisher? He was born William August Fisher. Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher is a Russian version of his name. He was famous as Rudolf Abel, and the Soviet postage stamp, in fact, calls him Abel. Who actually called him Vilyam Genrikovich Fisher?--Jack Upland (talk) 09:04, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Though born in United Kingdom he was of mixed German and Russian blood. When he was formally employed by the OGPU he was asked:
"In this document you say that you're German. Here you say your Russian. Here British. What are you?"
"I don't know what I am according to your rules. I'll be whatever you say I am."
"You're Russian."
As far as the Soviet Union were concerned William August Fisher became Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher.
Arthey, Vin. (2004). p. 73. Like Father Like Son: A Dynasty of Spies. St. Ermin's Press in association with Little Brown. London. ISBN 1-903608-07-4. Adamdaley (talk) 03:12, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
A "W" (Cyrillic В) is pronounced more like the English "V" (Cyrillic У). It would be more common to pronounce the name as the English "Villy".

The English Name "William Wordsworth" spelled in Cyrillic is "Уильям Вордсворт" but spoken in Russian as "Уильям Уордсуорт". Also, as he is more ethnic German his 'real surname' would be spelled "Fischer", having been changed to 'Fisher' after immigrating to UK to anglicize the spelling. THE REAL question is why the use of the "Abel" name - If his real name and codename are "Fisher"? - I can find no clue to source of Abel in the Russian and/or German Interwiki either, just seems to magically appear. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 07:52, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

His use of the alias "Rudolf Abel" is explained under "Capture". He became famous as Rudolf Abel, and that is why this article is called "Rudolf Abel".--Jack Upland (talk) 12:49, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

Appeal to US Supreme Court[edit]

Any information?--Jack Upland (talk) 10:45, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Information on the Supreme Court would be relevant to James B. Donovan's Wikipedia page. Adamdaley (talk) 03:12, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
Are you saying it's not relevant here?--Jack Upland (talk) 03:20, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

Recent Changes.....[edit]

Rudolf Abel article (formally entitled Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher), an "A-Class" article since July 22nd, 2012. Has successfully met the five criteria of the Military History "A-Class" Assessment. See link for more information: [1]. With the release of the movie, the "Bridge of Spies", it appears some people feel compelled to make unnecessary edits on Rudolf Abel. It is important to note that any "edits" concerning references can either affect the referencing, or result in an error being placed in the references section. I am prepared to welcome any constructive edits, however the deletion of an entire section, referring to Reino Häyhänen is not only a mystery to me. Häyhänen is critical to the eventual capture of Rudolf Abel in 1957 by the FBI. Adamdaley (talk) 02:21, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

And the influence of Häyhänen on Abel's capture is preserved. What was included was a lot of cruft having nothing whatever to do with Abel. Put it on Häyhänen's page, where it belongs. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 03:57, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Trekphiler – As Fisher was ordered to reactivate the "Volunteer" network in the United States, why wouldn't the codenames of the said network be relevant? Adamdaley (talk) 06:48, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
Because you're naming the people, who have their own pages. Notice, where they aren't linked to, I've left them in. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 18:49, 17 October 2015 (UTC)
In 2010, I came across an unfinished page entitled Vilyam Genrikhovich Fisher. After purchasing, reading and cross referencing fourteen books, I finished the page. This was never intended to be "Rudolf Abel's" page, as the aforesaid did not exist until Fisher was captured and provided the FBI with this alias. Fisher would never have achieved notoriety had it not been for Häyhänen's involvement and eventual defection. I do not agree the passages you chose to delete had no relevance. No other contributors appear to have a problem with this page. There are ways to communicate civilly without labelling another's work as "JUNK". Adamdaley (talk) 08:36, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
More power to you for finishing the page. That doesn't mean all the assorted trivia having nothing whatever to do with Fisher isn't still junk. That Fisher became notorious because of somebody else does not mean Häyhänen's troubles or stupid behavior belongs on this page. Since they're his actions, they belong, if anywhere, on his own page. More to the point, I see no valid rationale whatever for including the codenames of people who have their own pages & comments about Cohen who has her own page. I don't see you explaining, & since you want it in, it's incumbent on you. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 05:52, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
G'day, all, I think in some ways Trekphiller has a valid point. Some of the information could be better placed in other articles; this would help keep the narrative more tightly focused on Abel (starting a page on Hayhanen is a good step in this direction, I think). That said, I certainly wouldn't label the work as "junk". Such sentiments are not conducive to fostering a collaborative work environment. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 09:40, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I disagree. This isn't an overly long page. Häyhänen's story is vital to Fisher's story. I don't understand Trekphiler's compulsion to delete this stuff.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:27, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
Trekphiler – With your recent edit on November 26, 2015 on Rudolf Abel, do you think you have made a positive contribution towards the overall article? Adamdaley (talk) 03:00, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
I hope so. I'm not opposed to any mention of Häyhänen; I get how important his screw-ups were. What's not on-point to Fisher is everything else about Häyhänen, the Cohens, the lives of the people whose identities were stolen, & the codenames. Taking that out, IMO, sharpens the focus on the subject of the page, namely Fisher. What I can't understand is the mania for including it when it has nothing at all to do with him. The issue isn't page length, it's being on-topic. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 19:26, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
All Hallow's Wraith – Your reference has changed the referencing style of the article. If you want to contribute, then I suggest you make the referencing in the same style. His parent's names are in the Infobox referenced. Adamdaley (talk) 23:54, 9 December 2015 (UTC)

All Hallow's Wraith – You clearly have not noticed the consistency of the spelling of "Fisher" throughout the article. There was a consensus among the fourteen books that the spelling of "Fisher" was the most favorable spelling rather than "Fischer". Adamdaley (talk) 06:54, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

I don't oppose changing the last name spelling. All Hallow's Wraith (talk) 06:58, 10 December 2015 (UTC)


A skilled linguist - a native English speaker, as well as Russian and German from his parents and French from Monkseaton Grammar School - he got a job as a translator." says Arthey Speaking four languages or being good at learning languages doesn't make someone a linguist. And linguists are lousy translators, generally speaking. -- (talk) 19:29, 28 November 2015 (UTC)

Fisher/Abel never learnt to speak "French". Adamdaley (talk) 03:00, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Which paragraph version should be kept?[edit]

Which version of the opening paragraph should be kept in the early life section? Please have your say below All Hallow's Wraith paragraph. Please remember that Rudolf Abel's parents are referenced in the Infobox. Adamdaley (talk) 07:23, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

Adamdaley version:
Fisher was born William August Fisher on July 11, 1903, in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, the second son of Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher. Revolutionaries of the Tsarist era; his father was an ethnic German from Russia and his mother was of Russian descent.
All Hallow's Wraith version:
Fisher was born William August Fisher on July 11, 1903, in Benwell, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, the second son of Lyubov Vasilyevna (Zhidova) and Heinrich Matthäus Fisher. Revolutionaries of the Tsarist era; his father was an ethnic German from Russia and his mother was of Russian descent.

Why would something that's in the infobox not also be included in the text? At least in this case? I don't understand. All Hallow's Wraith (talk) 07:44, 10 December 2015 (UTC)

They would have been married, that is why I worded it the second son of Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher. If they want to know their full name it's in the infobox. No need to be overally complicated since it's Vilyam Fisher's/Rudolf Abel's page. Normally when you write a letter to a married couple you address it too, Mr and Mrs not Mrs and Mr. Adamdaley (talk) 08:06, 10 December 2015 (UTC)
The WPBIO convention appears to be AHR's version. I'd change "ethnic German from Russia" to "etnnic German" (since "German from Russia" is "ethnic German"). I'd also delete both parents' middle names as OT & fix the punct. (It should be "Tsarist era, his father an ethnic German", unless the "revolutionaries" is a complete thought, which it isn't now.) TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 00:17, 11 December 2015 (UTC)
It's not what should be changed within the paragraph. It's what version should be kept. I have assumed that Heinrich and Lyubov got married and took the last name of Fisher. As for their middle and last names at birth can stay in the infobox is my opinion. The rest of that paragraph the ethnic country and whatnot can stay as it is. I would like other people to have their say in this. Such as Nick-D, Sturmvogel 66, AustralianRupert, Peacemaker67, Anotherclown, Auntieruth55, Dank, Hawkeye7, MisterBee1966, Nikkimaria, TomStar81, Kirill Lokshin, Roger Davies, Ed!, Ian Rose – as well as any others that I haven't included here. Adamdaley (talk) 02:38, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
I prefer the second version, as it has more detail, providing his father's middle name and his maternal grandfather's full name. His mother's name is the normal Russian form with patronymic. It is usual in biographical articles to include the mother's maiden name in some form. It's true that the formal address of a married couple in the UK back then was "Mr and Mrs Adam Daley", but that form has fallen into disuse. We don't normally use it here because we like to retain as much information in the encyclopaedia. Hawkeye7 (talk) 04:03, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
Hawkeye7 – What I mean is with the Mr and Mrs is: Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher. NOT Lyubov and Heinrich Fisher. Adamdaley (talk) 04:52, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
I know what you're saying, but it is anachronistic. Today, wimmin getting married often (but not always) change their surnames by deed poll to match their husband's; but this was not the case in late Victorian times. In Russia, she would have remained Lyubov Vasilyevna; in Britain, she would have assumed her husband's name, and become Mrs Heinrich Fisher. If you think it should be otherwise, you'll need a source. Hawkeye7 (talk) 09:18, 12 December 2015 (UTC)
I favor the first option because to me it looks right, however I am open to changing it if the conventions of the time support a different style. TomStar81 (Talk) 22:57, 12 December 2015 (UTC)

The question is whether it should be included in the infobox or the text instead. If it's in the infobox, why wouldn't it be in the text? The text has more detail than the infobox, not the other way around. All Hallow's Wraith (talk) 01:29, 15 December 2015 (UTC)

I think you are eager to change things before we get a fair result. At the same time, I'll see if I can find two sources for Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher. But let's wait for more responses. Especially from Peacemaker67 and Auntieruth55. Adamdaley (talk) 02:55, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
If something is in the infobox, it must be in the text (and is usually cited to a source there). Don't make assumptions about people's marital status, go with how it is described in reliable sources. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 03:36, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
G'day, I agree with PM here, if something is included in the infobox in principle it should be within the text. Regards, AustralianRupert (talk) 04:45, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
IMHO, the entire paragraph needs a rewrite. No one is born with a name: the name is given. etc. auntieruth (talk) 19:48, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
Fisher was born on July 11, 1903, in [[Benwell]], [[Newcastle upon Tyne]], [[United Kingdom]],<ref name="Whittell, 2010, p. 9">Whittell (2010), p. 9.</ref> the second son of Lyubov Vasilyevna (Zhidova) and Heinrich Matthäus Fisher. His father was an ethnic [[History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union|German from Russia]] and his mother was of Russian descent.<ref name="Arthey, 2004, p. 10">Arthey (2004), p. 10.</ref><ref name="Whittell, 2010, p. 9">Whittell (2010), p. 9.</ref> He was given the name William August Fisher.<ref name="Arthey, 2004, p. 73">Arthey (2004), p. 73.</ref>
Fisher's father, a revolutionary activist, taught and agitated with [[Vladimir Lenin]] at [[Saint Petersburg State Institute of Technology|Saint Petersburg Technological Institute]].<ref name="Whittell, 2010, p. 9">Whittell (2010), p. 9.</ref> Arrested for sedition in 1896, he was sentenced to three years internal exile.<ref name="Arthey, 2004, p. 8">Arthey (2004), p. 8.</ref> He fled to the United Kingdom in 1901,<ref name="Andrew, 1999, p. 146">Andrew (1999), p. 146.</ref> the alternative being deportation to Germany or imprisonment in Russia for avoidance of military service.<ref name="Arthey, 2004, p. 11">Arthey (2004), p. 11.</ref> While living in the United Kingdom, Fisher's father took part in gunrunning, shipping arms from the North East coast to the Baltic states to help the [[proletariat]].<ref name="Whittell, 2010, p. 9">Whittell (2010), p. 9.</ref>
Auntieruth55 – Why are people quickly to jump to change the paragraph rather than trying to workout if their parents names should be included in the text or not? Adamdaley (talk) 22:28, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
I thought it was a given that parents' names should be in there. I was fussing over the rest of it, which was confusing. auntieruth (talk) 15:21, 16 December 2015 (UTC)
Auntieruth55 – I thought I made it pretty clear above what we were talking about. As for the rest of that paragraph, it's not confusing. I think you just misunderstood what the paragraph was trying to say. Adamdaley (talk) 01:57, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
Anotherclown – What do you think? Which paragraph should we have? Adamdaley (talk) 01:57, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
Nikkimaria – What do you think? Which paragraph should we have? Adamdaley (talk) 02:01, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
Don't have a strong preference on the names, really. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:16, 17 December 2015 (UTC)

All Hallow's Wraith, trekphiler, Nick-D, Sturmvogel 66, AustralianRupert, Peacemaker67, Anotherclown, Auntieruth55, Dank, Hawkeye7, MisterBee1966, Nikkimaria, TomStar81, Kirill Lokshin, Roger Davies, Ed!, Ian Rose What if a source has both Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher as well their full name as above? Adamdaley (talk) 07:05, 17 December 2015 (UTC)

I don't have a strong opinion either way, but think a third option (i.e. compromise) is probably the best as there seems to advantages in both proposals. I understand Adam's point re them being married so don't have an issue with that form being maintained in-principle (assuming this is supported by the refs). However, as Hawkeye7 says it is standard in biographies to include maiden names in the text - as far as I've seen this is usually given in brackets (e.g. "(née X")) although I'm unsure what the conventions were at the time. Equally as Peacemaker67 says if its in the infobox it probably should be in the text and ref'd there. Anotherclown (talk) 22:04, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
Why are you wasting time with this?--Jack Upland (talk) 10:36, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
Jack Upland – Why do you think we are having a debate about this? Adamdaley (talk) 23:36, 18 December 2015 (UTC)
The sentence in question with the parents' names have been written for a "flow" affect. the second son of Heinrich and Lyubov Fisher. Which of course no-one has ever brought up or even noticed before. Compared to the second son of Lyubov Vasilyevna (Zhidova) and Heinrich Matthäus Fisher. Which is a god damn mouthful to say and is of course unreferenced with the names. As I referenced the names before this got changed. Adamdaley (talk) 21:07, 20 December 2015 (UTC)


On Talk:Bridge of Spies (film)#Section on Inaccuracies? there has been a discussion about the accuracy of the portrayal of Abel's accent in the film. In the course of that user:Sam Blacketer links to sources for Abel's accent: logically there could be a section here on Abel's accent. DrArsenal (talk) 23:53, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

Sentence? and Appeal?[edit]

I'm confused because I watched the movie. I know that the incident of Donovan's raincoat being stolen in East Berlin didn't actually happen.

There's something in the movie about a Supreme Court appeal. Did that happen? I can't tell from the article. There's no mention, so maybe not.

There is also a scene in the movie where Donovan talks the judge out of the death penalty-- as far as I can tell from the article, the death penalty was never on the table, and of course it's very doubtful that that incident occurred..

The article says this: "Fisher was tried in Federal Court at New York City during October 1957, on three counts:[60] Conspiracy to transmit defense information to the Soviet Union – 30 years imprisonment;[1] Conspiracy to obtain defense information – 10 years imprisonment;[1] and Conspiracy to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without notification to the Secretary of State – 5 years imprisonment.[1]"

Well, what the heck does that mean? Are those supposed to be the maximum sentences for each charge, or what? This is very unclear; those year terms should probably be removed if they don't mean anything, or if they do mean something, we should have that meaning explained. According to both the article and the movie, the actual sentence was 30 years (of which he served four).

Others may also have seen the movie and wondered about these things. It might be good if someone could more clearly explain the sentencing business, perhaps explicitly state whether the death penalty was ever a possibility, and whether there was any kind of appeal ever filed. Maybe that stuff belongs in the article about the movie, I don't know, but at least the above confusing passage about the charges and sentencing terms could be cleared up. (talk) 05:59, 4 May 2017 (UTC)