Operation «Everest» (1944). To the History of the Members of the Surviving Soviet Intelligence Group That Was Part of the Pickaxe Scheme

Brilev S.B.


The paper highlights the real as well as non-proved and invented events in the biographies of the Soviet agents, Josef Zettler and Albert Huttary, who in 1944 were parachuted into Austria under the Anglo-Soviet «Pickaxe» scheme, which from 1941 to 1944 was carried out by the Intelligence directorate of the Soviet NKVD / NKGB and the Britain’s Special Operation Executive (SOE). The group, codenamed «Everest», was the only one that survived in Nazi captivity after it was captured by the Gestapo. The article draws upon declassified documents from the National Archives (TNA) of the United Kingdom and the Comintern files of the Russian State Archive of Social-Political History (RGASPI). A valuable addition is an official reply from the Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) to a request from the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK). Based on the information contained in these sources, the article reconstructs the activity of the subversive group on the territory occupied by German troops as well as the further fate of the scouts, who managed to survive and broke free from captivity. The paper also clarifies some details from the pre-war biography of Zettler, who had been engaged in intelligence activities in Spain. About his partner, the Austrian Huttari, much less is known: only that he was recruited by the NKVD in the middle of World War II.


intelligence; Comintern; NKVD / NKGB; SOE; the gestapo; Austria.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.01.09

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