History’s Most Famous Traitors

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Stella Kubler (1922-1994)

Stella Kubler, born into an assimilated middle-class Jewish family in Berlin, was a “Jew catcher” – a Jew working for the Nazis to find other Jews in hiding. She was infamously known as “The Blond Ghost” or “Blond Poison,” because she was blond and blue-eyed and could pass for Aryan.

In return for her help, the Nazis gave her money and agreed to spare her parents. She went on to expose hundreds of friends, ex-classmates, and even some relatives. Besides tracking down Jews with great fervor, she also beat, tortured, and humiliated Jewish prisoners. After she was captured by the Russians, she served 10 years in prison. She converted to Christianity and committed suicide in 1994.

Source: Harold Clements / Getty Images

The Cambridge Five (1930s-1950s)

The Cambridge Five were a spy ring of turncoats recruited from Cambridge University in England during the 1930s by the Soviet Union. The group were students who were convinced that Marxism was the best counterweight to the rise of fascism. The five were: Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Don MacLean, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross.

They passed enormous amounts of material to the Soviet Union during and after World War II. Several of the group defected to the Soviet Union, including Philby, who was honored by the Soviet Union on a postage stamp. The Five caused severe damage to the United States and Britain in the volume and value of the intelligence that was compromised. The U.S. also questioned the competence of the British secret service in the wake of the scandal.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee

Christopher John Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee were boyhood friends from California who were arrested for espionage. Boyce was an American defense industry employee who became disillusioned with CIA interference in the internal affairs of other countries. He sought out Soviet contacts and sold top-secret U.S. satellite technology information to the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for espionage. He escaped from prison and robbed banks before he was recaptured in 1981. Boyce was released on parole in 2002.

Lee was a drug dealer who used the opportunity to pass along information to the Soviet Union for financial gain. He was convicted of espionage and sentenced to life in prison, but released on parole in 1998. Their story became a 1985 movie starring Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn titled “The Falcon and the Snowman.”

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

John Anthony Walker, Jr. (1937-2014)

John Anthony Walker Jr. was a U.S. Navy chief warrant officer and communications specialist convicted of spying and selling Navy secrets to the Soviets for 18 years starting in 1967. For the U.S., it was one of the most damaging espionage episodes of the Cold War. The Russians provided Walker with a device that would record the rotor setting of cryptographic machines, allowing them Soviets to decipher all communications issued.

Walker also recruited a close friend and family members to spy for the Soviet Union. He and his cohorts were apprehended in 1985, and, with his brother, he was sentenced to life in prison. Walker died in captivity in 2020 , a year before he was due for parole.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Aldrich Ames (1941-present)

Aldrich Ames was a 31-year CIA veteran who was arrested by the FBI on espionage charges in 1994, three years after the Soviet Union collapsed. At the time of his arrest, Ames, who spoke Russian and specialized in the Russian intelligence services, had been spying for the Russians since 1985. Ames passed classified documents to the KGB by using prearranged hiding places. Many CIA agents were compromised as a result of his treason and Russian intelligence sources were executed by the Soviets.

American intelligence became curious about his swelling bank account and began surveillance in 1993. He and his wife were grabbed outside of their Virginia home in 1994. Both pled guilty and Aldrich was sentenced to incarceration for life without parole. He remains incarcerated. His wife was sentenced to 63 months in prison and completed her sentence. Documents showed Ames had pocketed nearly $2 million from the Soviet Union in the first four years of his spying operations.