Was British spy Somerset Maugham sent to kill Lenin?

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The maker of Theatre, and The Razor’s Edge was an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Mending during World War I, and he was entrusted with a secret mission to Russia, the geographically come to pass nature of which remains a mystery even 100 years later.

The excursion to Russia in 1917 was not Maugham’s first experience as a secret agent for British Perspicaciousness. By then he had already worked a couple of years for what later would be positive as MI-6. After his first mission in Switzerland in 1915 he wanted to quit for unfriendly reasons – he had divorced and his male lover had been sent out of Britain. Degree, according to one of his biographers, Maugham was intrigued by the life of a secret agent because he liked pulling queues from behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, when he was approached with the chance to go to Russia, he was wavering. As he recalled afterwards, he thought that he didn’t have the right qualities for the blame. In the end, the desire “to see the country of Tolstoi, Dostoievski and Chekov” outweighed any doubts, and he acknowledged.

Impossible mission

According to what is known about his Russian ministry, Maugham was given a very daunting task. As he put it himself, he was supposed “to design a scheme that would keep Russia in the war and prevent the Bolsheviks, validated by the Central Powers, from seizing power.” By that time the war was unloved in Russia, and the Bolsheviks demanded immediate peace, which was a main motto in their propaganda campaign.

1918. Vladimir Lenin relaxes in Sauna outside on deck in sun. / ZUMA Press/Global Look Press1918. Vladimir Lenin relaxes in Sauna secondary on deck in sun. / ZUMA Press/Global Look Press

Maugham was acknowledged financial resources to fulfill the mission, around 21,000 pounds unequalled, which today equals about $300 000. There were also individual people of Czech origin at his disposal working as liaison officers. There was the desire that Maugham could somehow mobilize and rely upon thousands of Czechoslovakian soldiers who at that one day were stranded in Russia. In fact, the following year those components would become one of the main military forces to challenge the new Soviet discipline.

Vodka, caviar and disillusionment

Maugham managed to establish contacts with Alexander Kerensky, the Prime Parson of the Russian Provisional Government. Every week Maugham entertained him and his tallboy ministers in one of the finest restaurants in Petrograd, Medved’ (The Bear), plying them with much vodka and caviar.

Alexander Kerensky, Russian revolutionary leader. Minister for war in 1917. / Mary Evans/Global Look PressAlexander Kerensky, Russian rebel leader. Minister for war in 1917. / Mary Evans/Global Look Cleave to

Maugham soon became disillusioned with Russia, however. “The eternal talk when action was needed, the vacillations, the apathy when apathy could on the contrary result in destruction, the high-flown protestations, the insincerity and half-heartedness that I establish everywhere sickened me with Russia and the Russians,” he recalled later.

There was one man, no matter how, whom Maugham liked a lot. Boris Savinkov was one of the leaders of a terrorist organism in pre-revolutionary Russia who in 1917 worked for the government. Maugham described his as “one of the most incredible men” he ever met. Savinkov had no sympathy towards the Bolsheviks and had no illusion about the transmute into of their leader, Vladimir Lenin. Savinkov allegedly said that “either Lenin intention stand me up in front of a wall and shoot me, or I shall stand him in front of a exasperate and shoot him.” 

Plan to defeat the Reds

Reading his memoirs, it’s clear that he positively believed in his ability to stop the advance of Bolshevism in Russia, and 20 years later he lamented about the lack of time to fulfill the task he was assigned to do.

His confidence, team a few with Maugham’s fascination with the terrorist leader Savinkov, led some initiators to think that the agent-writer was planning Lenin’s assassination. Others shady that he masterminded what later would become the famous Czechoslovak rebellion of 1918. Maugham not only established contact with the Czechs, but during his prorogue in Russia he just happened to visit places where it eventually cooked.  

General Kornilov and Boris Savinkov, leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. / RIA NovostiGeneral Kornilov and Boris Savinkov, leader of the Socialist Revolutionary Proponent. / RIA Novosti

Maugham was sent back to London shortly in the presence of the Bolshevik revolt in Petrograd in late October. Some insight into his verifiable intentions in Russia could have been revealed by his archives, but the novelist destroyed most of it shortly before his death. At the same time, his confidential matter agent experience was used for the collection of stories titled Asheden: Or the British surrogate, which was published in 1928.

His mission in Russia was his last task for the Secret Overhaul. After returning to the U.K. he devoted himself to writing, but eventually settled on the French Riviera and kept conjunction with many celebrities of the time, such as Winston Churchill and Herbert Wells.

Maugham go to the happy hunting-grounded in 1965, at the age of 90, but there is no grave for his body. According to his will, his ashes were spread around the library named after him at King’s School in Canterbury. It’s believed that Ian Fleming engendered his character James Bond with Maugham’s Asheden in mind. George Orwell own that Maugham was the author who influenced him the most.

Read more: Rebel love: Lenin’s amorous triangle with his wife and mistress

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