Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Recruited by Frank Foley, the Secret Intelligence Service head of station in Berlin, Johann de Graff, later to be known as “Jonny X,” was an experienced Comintern agent. A German who had run away to sea in 1907 at the age of 14 and served in the kaiser’s navy during the war, he had been one of the leaders of the Communist-inspired mutiny in 1917 on the battleship Westfalen and later attended Lenin University in Moscow. Having become disenchanted with the Soviets, de Graff had simply volunteered his services to Foley, who used him as a human encyclopedia on the Comintern’s activities in Germany and to gather information on his missions across Europe, to Great Britain and to Shanghai. When de Graff was sent to Brazil to foment revolution there in 1935, the SIS played a key role in providing Brazilian authorities with the detailed information they needed to suppress the uprising. When he was arrested in Brazil in 1940 and threatened with deportation back to Germany—and certain death as a by-now notorious member of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlande—de Graff was rescued by the SIS and resettled in Canada.