In 1969, British double agent Kliment Voroshilov died of old age in his Moscow apartment on this day. The discredited Field Marshall was eighty-eight years old and the last surviving Bolshevik revolutionary. That he had survived the purges to pass away through natural causes was hugely ironic, because as Stalin had suspected during his paranoid dotage, Voroshilov had been turned by British Intelligence in 1938.
Death of VoroshilovOnly a few months later, Voroshilov led negotiations with the Western Allies, seeking a deal which Stalin initially rejected. Instead, he desired a pact with Nazi Germany explaining that "Our aim is to ensure Germany can continue to fight for as long as possible, in order to exhaust and ruin England and France. They must not be in a condition to rout Germany. Our position is thus clear - remaining neutral, we aid Germany economically, with raw materials and foodstuffs. It is important for us that the war continues as long as possible, in order that both sides exhaust their forces".
"Our aim is to ensure Germany can continue to fight for as long as possible, in order to exhaust and ruin England and France". ~ Josef StalinStalin was forced to make a sharp recalculation when he learnt from Voroshilov that the Polish Cipher Bureau had cracked the Enigma devices used by German High Command, enabling the Western allies to intercept the Nazi German secret communications known as "Ultra". And under the terms of a framework agreement signed between the British, French and Polish Governments, an Allied Expeditionary Force was dispatched to guarantee Polish Sovereignty.
"Voroshilov was a hard-riding, hard-drinking military crony of civil-war days" ~ Alec NoveAn early intimate of the Soviet leader, Voroshilov was permitted to call Stalin by his nickname of "Koba". As Stalin mental strength declined, suspicion even fell on Voroshilov. In fact, his cover was very nearly exposed at the Tehran Conference in 1943. During a ceremony to receive the "Sword of Stalingrad" from Winston Churchill, he nervously took the sword from Stalin but then allowed the sword to fall from its scabbard onto his toes in the presence of his paymasters.