In 1944, the Norwegian nurse Gunvor Galtung Haavik fell in love with a Russian prisoner of war. She was working as head nurse at the hospital in Bodø when she met Vladimir Kozlov. Haavik’s life was about to be turned upside-down.
Gunvor (born 1912) grew up in Odda, and showed an early interest in Russian art and culture. In the 1930s, she met the Russian artist Valery Carrick, a colorful character who became her father figure, friend and teacher for over a decade.
In 1932 she quit medical studies. Instead, she attended nursing school and took a job at the hospital in Bodø. During World War II, she participated in helping Russian prisoners into Sweden and it was her Russian language skills that led her into the Norwegian Foreign Service where she worked from 1946 to 1977.
The Russian war prisoner Vladimir Kozlov became Galtung Haavik’s great love and great sorrow. But the Cold War was about to lay an icy blanket over the fragile peace.
In 1947, Galtung Haavik was sent to Moscow and worked as a personal secretary to the Norwegian Ambassador. On a hot summer day in Leningrad that same year, Galtung Haavik and Vladimir Kozlov met each other once again. It turned out that Vladimir was married, so they had to meet in secret. It did not take long before the KGB showed their interest in these secret meetings. The flirtation to lure Gunvor Galtung Haavik into the KGB’s spider’s web had begun. Her love drove her to treason against her country.
She was whirled into a life she had dreamed of and seduced into a romantic dream of the old Russia. KGB gave her an apartment where she and Vladimir could meet – and in 1950 she was caught in KGB’s ‘honey trap’. They threatened to ruin her career and to send her great love to Siberia.
After repeated threats she signed the KGB agent deal.
She started delivering secret material to her control officers. She let them read courier mails and gave them confidential information about Norwegian foreign policy. In 1957, she confessed to Vladimir about her grim secret. This was the last time they would ever meet. Their love was crushed under the political pressure.
In 1956, Gunvor Galtung Haavik left Moscow, but her intelligence operations continued through her job as a secretary at the Foreign Ministry in Oslo. For nearly 27 years, she had over 270 secret meetings with KGB where she gave information about Norwegian foreign policy. In the Foreign Service Galtung Haavik had access to highly classified information and her espionage activities were considered very harmful to Norway.
On April 1 1977, the bomb struck. For several years, the Norwegian Police had Galtung Haavik under surveillance and she was arrested during a secret handover meeting with her liaison officer. She confessed shortly after her arrest: ‘I’ll tell it like it is – I’ve been a KGB agent for 30 years’. For her, the confession was a relief.
No one at the embassy or at the diplomatic service suspected her spy activity. Gunvor Galtung Haavik broke all myths as a spy: She is the first and only Norwegian woman caught for this form of criminal activity.
Galtung Haavik died in Drammen Jail before the trial came up. We will never know the actual truth about her life as an agent. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Gunvor Galtung Haavik’s birth. There are still speculations about her real cause of death.
The Norwegian film Ice Kiss (2008) tells the story of Galtung Haavik based on A. R Jacobsen’s documentary book Ice Kiss from 1991.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews