Secret files, forgotten after the end of the Cold War, have sparked an unlikely mystery after evidence of a suspected spy was discovered – with an iconic name.
A historian made the find after sifting through the dossiers in a warehouse in Warsaw, Poland.
He found evidence of a British diplomat who arrived in the Polish capital in 1964, who gave his communist minders the slip by snooping around a military base along the Soviet border.
The dark-haired Englishman could just have been an innocent embassy secretary who lost his way, but there was the question of his name.
He was called Bond. James Bond.
Marzena Kruk, director of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance which is now in charge of this secret police files, has no doubt what Bond was up to.
“He was a spy doing spying things,” she said.
The historian who actually discovered the dusty old document isn’t so sure. “He was only a secretary,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “The evidence here doesn’t really indicate that he was a spy.”
Filip Hagenbeck – the former leader of the Polish secret service’s Counterintelligence Branch 10, which was tasked with unmasking foreign spies – believes that Bond was a decoy.
“Frankly speaking, I don’t think he was a spy,” he said. Given that Ian Fleming’s books were already huge international hits and the third 007 movie, Thunderball, was released in 1964, sending the real Bond to Warsaw was just intended as a distraction.
“They were sending him to make him some kind of bait,” Hagenbeck added. “To make counterintelligence chase him instead of other persons.”
“It was a game which was played, you know?”
James Albert Bond died in 2005 and his secrets may have died with him.
But there’s one person left alive more qualified than anyone else to command on the real James Bond’s Cold War activities. His widow, Janette.
Janette Bond, now 88, has no doubt that her late husband worked for British Intelligence.
She claims that when he was posted to Warsaw, she was sent along with him to help his “cover story.” Bond suspected the couple living upstairs from their Warsaw apartment of eavesdropping on him, and would sometimes communicate with his wife using handwritten notes rather than speaking out loud, she recalls.
And the level of surveillance was so intense that the Bonds’ son, also named James, learned to recognise the Polish secret service cars that routinely tailed them wherever they went.
She adds that sometimes she was told to leave official embassy parties with another British diplomat so that he husband could slip away on a clandestine mission. It wasn’t always successful. “If it didn’t work, it was aborted,” she added.
It’s possible that James Albert Bond was merely sent to Warsaw to distract Counterintelligence Branch 10, or of course it could have been a clever double bluff and he was an agent hiding in plain sight.