Out in the Open

The triple life and regrets of a KGB spy

Jack Barsky had one family in Germany and one in the United States while working as a KBG spy.
KGB spy in America 0:59

"[When] I was forced to look back and come clean about my life, it was hard to accept [the] reality that I always thought of myself as a well intentioned good person," says Jack Barsky

"In reality, certain actions that I took were certainly not in the realm where you have a heading that says good."  

For a long time, Jack lived a triple life.

He had a wife and a child in his birthplace of East Germany.

He also had a wife and two children in America.

His third life was living as a KGB spy. 
The people around him didn't know it, but Jack Barsky was a spy for the KGB.

In 1978, Albrecht Dittrich landed in America as Jack Barsky to start his mission.

He ended up living a lie for the next 20 years, deceiving many in the process, including members of his German and American families.

"There was a lot of compartmentalization that took place. When I went back to...East Germany it was like going home. And when I went back to the United States it was like coming home."

Jack had the chance to give up the deceit about 10 years into his mission, when the KGB ordered him back. If he disobeyed, he'd be killed.

But Jack wanted to continue living in the U.S. because his first child - his daughter Chelsea - with his wife in America had just been born. So, Jack risked it all and managed to convince the KGB to let him stay. 

Jack finally revealed his identity as a spy to his American wife. Their marriage was unraveling and Jack confessed during an argument.

"I decided to just use the last weapon I had to tell my then wife what I sacrificed to stay with her and Chelsea."

Little did Jack know that his home was bugged by the FBI. 

Jack says the hardest thing about keeping such a big secret was coming to terms with how he saw himself and his life.

"When I got into this type of job I believed in [communism] and I could rationalize everything because I was serving a greater good. Therefore, I could do some damage to some people because what I would achieve would help more," said Jack. 

"When that was taken away from under me, that's when I had to realize, maybe I could have done better in life."