The Beatles in Liverpool- In association with Merseyguide

For Lenin, read Lennon November 18 2000

How the Beatles transformed the cold war
John LennonTruth has always been stranger than fiction in the looking-glass world of spying for and against the Soviet Union. But nothing prepared us for the facts that have been recently unearthed from Soviet archives. Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and their Cambridge associates handed over to the Soviet Union such a mass of top drawer material - literally tens of thousands of secret documents - that their Russian masters not only could not cope with the volume but thought they were leaking so much that they must be double agents. Their suspicions were confirmed by the fact that the English spies never betrayed any British agents operating in the Soviet Union. They did not know that there was another reason: Britain did not actually have a network of spies at that time because most covert activities were directed against Germany.

But now it emerges that Soviet paranoia took a fascinating turn in the 1960s. According to Dr Yury Pelyoshonok, a Canadian doctor of Soviet studies who grew up in the Soviet Union, the Soviet authorities thought that the Beatles were a secret weapon of the cold war because "the kids lost their interest in all Soviet unshakable dogmas and ideals and stopped thinking of English-speaking persons as the enemy". All of this is contained in a two-hour film on the fab four coming out in the US, during which film director Milos Forman says: "I'm convinced the Beatles are partly responsible for the fall of communism."

But while the KGB was convinced that the Beatles were undermining the Soviet political system, what was happening in the UK? According to the former intelligence officer, David Shayler, MI5 was investigating John Lennon as a suspected subversive himself, a move partly triggered by his contributions to the Trotskyite Workers Revolutionary party. Maybe John Le Carré should be persuaded to write all this up. There's only one problem. No one would believe it. Least of all the Russians

SOURCE: Guardian Unlimited