Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bill Romey, first to hear Russian when the Berlin spy tunnel tap was turned on

Posted: 27 October 2011;
Updated: 13 November 2011.

After receiving the Spies Beneath Berlin DVD, I decided to follow a long-held hunch to determine if the guy who originally wrote to me at UC Berkeley in 1958-59 was the emeritus professor I located by a Google search many months ago. Since I didn't know him or how he got my name, I never responded to that Berkeley note, having signed an oath not to talk about the Berlin operation to unauthorized persons for 20 years. The note went something like: 
You don't know me, but I know you. You were great 'over there'... Bill Romey.
Obviously I never forgot the note or the name and, until recently, never checked it out.

In 2005, when Professor David Stafford took an interest in anecdotal stories by those who were actually at the site, I wrote to him that I might know the whereabouts of another guy and did he want me to follow it up. Because Stafford never answered that question, I let it drop. That is, until the British DVD arrived.

On August 11, 2011, I called the number I thought might be the guy and was excited to discover that it was! Here is the opening paragraph to my email to him after a two hour conversation getting acquainted:

Bill!
At last a live voice to a name from long ago!!--5 decades? (I don't forget this stuff!) Consider this a belated reply to your single cryptic note to me at Berkeley (?) sometime in the late 1950s. 
Romey then sent me several books that he had written. The first was an e-book:
...by the way, and I'll send you a CD of my e-book:Journals of a Geologist-Geographer in Russia (written in 2009).  It includes several pages that relate to my London-Berlin experiences (but nothing very explicit about the site as such).

And then I receive two paperbacks. One published in 1996 about his love for France and his experiences in that country over many years, beginning as an exchange student in the early 1950s.




 The second book (below), published in 1975, contains an interesting collection of reflections as a professor of geology at several university faculties after his graduate school days at Berkeley. I was amazed to discover that we were at Berkeley at the same time, worked in the same building (Hearst Mining Bldg) and had offices on the same floor (basement), but never met. Now his long-ago Berkeley note made sense!



Friday, November 11, 2011


Today (11-11-11) I received Bill's CD account of the Berlin Tunnel, which is contained in his e-book entitled "NOT TO BE A SPY". Here is an excerpt:
PREFACE 
My name is Wilmer Richart. At least that's the name they gave me at The Farm so the others wouldn't know who I really was. I've wanted to put this story down for many years but I've been afraid to do it for fear THEY would come after me legally... or "otherwise" as they sometimes do. But in recent years THEY have been getting exposed all over the place. The operation this account describes has been highly publicized over the years, and the details are widely known. Only the perspective may be new. Now, with the incredible shift away from the bugbear of Stalinist Communism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, I don't suppose a yarn from over thirty years ago is going to hurt them (or me) at all. If the procedures I describe here are still in use and considered secret they should have been changed by now and deserve to be exposed if they haven't been already. Besides that, everything I describe has passed enough into the realm of my own fantasy that I don't really know how true it all is any more. It represents a memory of realities embellished in various ways in my mind's eye. Nonetheless, to the extent that we create our own realities, this is a "true" story.In other respects, however, it may also just as well be considered pure fiction. The names of the people in my story are, like my own, creations either of my own or of someone else's. When you think about it, aren't all names just that, after all? Where necessary I have, like Mark Twain's mysterious stranger, felt free to invent new people and suppress others. Intelligence people do that all the time. I have felt free to change places and events in ways that suit my purposes, remedy lapses in memory, and, if I wanted to be pompous about it, I could add "in order to protect national security." Above all else, this tale should be looked at for just what it is: neither a historical document nor a faithfully autobiographical account but just as a story based on some events experienced by a young man. I leave the reader to decide where the boundaries between truth and fiction may lie.

Somewhere in New York December, 1989

No comments: