Seeing double: Harrison pressed into service for the Reds

Marguerite Harrison had fallen for an old ploy. She naively had thought that she had won the Bolsheviks’ trust by pretending to be a journalist sympathetic to their cause. Instead, they had allowed her access to incriminating information and forced her to acknowledge she was a spy.

Mogilevsky was in charge of recruiting international agents and his intention was to force Marguerite to spy on foreigners in Moscow.

Her choice was to agree to his terms or be locked up in Lubyanka. As long as she was not in prison, she had hope that she could get her reports to the Military Intelligence Division and perhaps even bribe her way out of the country.

Marguerite Harrison, about 1920

Coolly, she accepted Mogilevsky’s offer to provide him with information. And thus a complicated game ensued in which she passed along to the Chekist tips about the foreigners she met while trying at the same time not to betray her American mission.

Mogilevsky released her to return to the guest house. She got word to U.S. officials that she feared her life was in danger. She wrote to the Associated Press asking for the London bureau chief to recall her.

Ultimately, no one was able to help. Each week she met with Mogilevsky in the gardens outside the Kremlin wall to give her report, usually on Socialists she had encountered.

As the weeks passed, she found herself strangely attracted to this man who held her life in his hands.

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