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5 Americans who nobly served Russia

31 Jan 2023, 04:55 GMT+10

Americans helped the Bolsheviks to consolidate their power in the country, participated in the extensive Stalinist industrialization and even fought in the Red Army against the Nazis.

1. John Paul Jones

Portrait of John Paul Jones.

Portrait of John Paul Jones.

Public Domain

An American captain of Scottish descent, John Paul Jones is considered today as one of the "Fathers of the American Navy". During the War of Independence, he became one of the first officers of the U.S. Continental Navy and was much more successful in naval battles than others.

Soon after the end of the conflict, the captain found use for his talents in the distant Russian Empire, where he was promoted to Rear Admiral. In June 1788, commanding a squadron of 11 ships, he participated in the defeat of the Turkish fleet near the Black Sea fortress of Ochakov. The enemy lost 15 ships and 6,000 soldiers; in addition, fifteen thousand were taken prisoner.

In Russia, John Paul Jones was waiting for a brilliant career, but it was ruined by a high-profile sex scandal, as a result of which the naval commander was forced to hastily leave the country. Read about the details of that case here.

2. John Reed

John Reed at a meeting in Nakhichevan.

John Reed at a meeting in Nakhichevan.


American journalist and writer John Reed came from a wealthy family and studied at Harvard, which, however, did not prevent him from dedicating his life to the struggle for the triumph of socialism. Once in Russia in 1917, he witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution, met Vladimir Lenin and Lev Trotsky and even worked for a time in the Soviet Commissariat (Ministry) of Foreign Affairs.

Reed described the revolutionary events in detail in his 1919 book 'Ten Days That Shook the World'. The journalist's work was enormously popular in Russia and Lenin, in particular, commented on it this way in the introduction of the 1922 edition: "Here is a book which I would like to see published in millions of copies and translated into all languages. It gives a truthful and most vivid exposition of the events so significant to the comprehension of what really is the Proletarian Revolution and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat."

Read more about the great friend of Soviet Russia who was buried on Red Square near the Kremlin wall here.

3. Robert Robinson

Engineer Robert Robinson of First State Bearing Factory instructing workers.

Engineer Robert Robinson of First State Bearing Factory instructing workers.

Lev Nosov/Sputnik

In the late 1920s, the Soviet Union undertook large-scale industrialization, for which it actively invited specialists from abroad. One of them was Robert Robinson, the only black worker at Ford's Detroit plant in those years.

Trying to escape racial harassment in his homeland, Robinson moved to the Soviet Union, where he lived for 44 years. He worked in a factory, engaged in politics and even starred in movies. But not everything went smoothly for the American in his new country, either.

Read about the difficult life journey of Robert Robinson here.

4. Joseph Beyrle

Beyrle as a POW, 1944.

Beyrle as a POW, 1944.

Public Domain

The biography of Joseph Beyrle, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, is truly unique - during World War II he was able to fight for both the American and Soviet armies.

In June 1944, he was captured in Normandy and ended up in a concentration camp in Poland. He soon escaped from it and made his way to Red Army positions. Read about how the former paratrooper became a Soviet tanker and met Marshal Georgy Zhukov here.

5. Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames.

Aldrich Ames.

Getty Images

Aldrich Ames has been called almost the most valuable and highly paid agent of the KGB. Holding a high-ranking position in the CIA, he worked for the Soviet and Russian secret services for nine years.

Thanks to his efforts, Moscow received a huge amount of classified information and was able to expose a number of American agents, including seven colonels and lieutenant colonels and even one general of the KGB. Ames was cherished as the apple of the eye and only a few high-ranking KGB officials knew of his activities. Nevertheless, in 1994, the agent was uncovered and arrested by the CIA.

Read more about Aldrich Ames, as well as about equally effective double agents here.

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