Stalin’s Spies: an ISM Event

Photo courtesy of
‘The Secret’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’

This Friday at 4:30 pm, the International Spy Museum, in cooperation with the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, is hosting an event on Stalin-era espionage. The free event includes the opportunity to view unique artifacts from the life of one of the Soviet Union’s most famous spies, Dmitri Bystrolyotov, as well as a chance to interact with the Museum’s historians and several panel experts.

Dmitri was the Soviet Union’s real life James Bond, earning a reputation as one of the greatest Soviet Spies of all time. He was a sailor, doctor, lawyer and artist recruited by Stalin for his dashing good looks and ease with languages to seduce secrets from willing targets during the 1920s and 30s. However, after falling out of Stalin’s favor, Dmitri was sentenced to the Gulag for 16 years.

Photo courtesy of
‘F Street – Rendezvous – 01-31-11’
courtesy of ‘mosley.brian’

In this behind-the-scenes event you will see powerful artifacts from Bystrolyotov’s life in the Gulag donated by his family, including:

  • Winter Gloves – The winter gloves that Bystrolyotov wore in the Gulag.
  • Wooden spoon and cigarette holder – that he bartered for in the Gulag and then decorated himself.
  • Manuscript – An account of Bystrolyotov’s adventures in Africa, handwritten in the Gulag in a combination of ink and iodine taken from the camp infirmary.
  • Self-portrait – made in iodine.
  • Typescript – Entire first volume of Bystrolyotov’s memoirs with handwritten author’s corrections.
  • Copper ashtray – hand made in the shape of a goat from Bystrolyotov’s desk.

Guests have a chance to meet the Museum’s Historian and Collections Manager, Mark Stout, and hear from a panel of top experts on the subject of Stalin’s spies, including:

  • Prof. Emil Draitser, author of Stalin’s Romeo Spy, is Professor of Russian, Department of Classical and Oriental Studies, Russian Division, Hunter College of the City University of New York.
  • Stephen Schwartz, is a well-known journalist and independent scholar and author; his books include Intellectuals and Assassins: Writings at the End of Soviet Communism and Sarajevo Rose: A Balkan Jewish Notebook.
  • Prof. Susan Weissman, is Professor of Politics at Saint Mary’s College of California and hosts a weekly drive-time radio program on KPFK in Los Angeles. She is the author of Victor Serge: The Course is Set on Hope.
  • Peter Katel, is a veteran journalist who previously served as Latin America bureau chief for Time magazine, in Mexico City, and as a Miami-based correspondent for Newsweek and The Miami Herald’s El Nuevo Herald.

This special afternoon concludes as speakers, staff, and guests continue the discussion over drinks with complementary light appetizers just around the corner at the Riot Act Comedy Theater.

The International Spy Museum is located in Penn Quarter at the corner of 8th and F Streets, NW. The closest Metro is Gallery Place/Chinatown, which services the Red, Yellow, and Green lines. For more information, call the museum at 202.393.7798.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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