The former spy says he knew he'd get away with it. And he did. He traded his true identity as East German Albrecht Dittrich for a new life in the U.S. as American Jack Barsky. Then the undercover spy blended in to American society by leading a normal family life and working for top U.S. corporations -- all while spying undetected for the Soviet Union in the last decade of the Cold War. The FBI eventually caught up to him, but he never went to jail and he remains in the U.S. to this day, a resident of an upstate New York town where he has achieved a piece of the American Dream. Barsky tells his fantastic story for the first time to Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Asked by Kroft if he really thought he would get away with being a Soviet Spy in the U.S., Barsky replies with a laugh, "Yeah, otherwise I wouldn't have done it." But he points out that when he was recruited by the KGB, it wasn't to be a spy, rather he was to be a "scout for peace." "The communist spies were the good guys and the capitalist spies were the evil ones. So we didn't use the word spy," he tells Kroft.
What did he think of America? "It was the enemy. And... the reason that the Americans did so well was because they exploited all the third-world countries," Barsky says. "That's what we were taught, and that's what we believed. We didn't know any better."
The KGB apparently didn't know any better when they expected him to get a passport in the U.S. The form asked so many questions about his past that he had to leave the office. "I was not given very good instructions with regard to how to apply for a passport," he remembers. "They made a number of mistakes in terms of giving me advice...They just didn't know," says Barsky.
The real Jack Barsky was a 10-year-old American boy whose name on a tombstone became the identity for a Soviet spy who needed a birth certificate.
On Sunday, Kroft reports on how Barsky was able to pull off the ruse for so long, how he managed to remain in the U.S. free and clear and how he dealt with his double identity that included two separate families, one here and another in East Germany.
Perhaps the most important piece of information he admits to stealing in the 1980s was American computer code that helped the Soviets' factories compete with those in the West. "I would say [the most important] was the computer code because it was a very prominent piece of industrial software still in use today," says Barsky, who would not elaborate except to say, "It was good stuff."