A WWII Spy’s Twilight Years
After WWII ended, Ernst Kaltenbrunner became the highest ranking SS member to face justice at the Nuremberg trial. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, sentenced to death, and hanged in 1946. Otto Skorzeny carried out special missions for the Nazis’ until war’s end. He was captured, but escaped from an internment camp in 1948. He went on the lam for a few years, and finally settled in Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain. Skorzeny spent time in Argentina, as an advisor to president Juan Peron, and as a bodyguard to his wife, Eva Peron. Versatile, he also worked as a military and security consultant for various Arab regimes, and performed the occasional gig for the Israeli Mossad. He died of lung cancer in Madrid, in 1975. As to Gevork Vartanian, he received his country’s highest award, Hero of the Soviet Union, in recognition of his services.
Vartanian met and married another NKVD agent. The duo spent more than three decades after WWII in Soviet intelligence, as it evolved from the NKVD to MGB to KGB to SVR. The couple got married several times throughout their career as part of their cover. Vartanian retired from the SVR in 1992, after which he trained young agents. His identity was kept secret until 2000, when his role in the defeat of Operation Long Jump was finally revealed. He died in 2012, aged 87. His funeral was attended by Russia’s then prime minister, and former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev described Vartanian as: “a legendary intelligence agent, a genuine patriot of his country, a bright and extraordinary person… He took part in splendid operations, which went down in the history of the Russian foreign intelligence service“.