Harry Rositzke, 91, a farmer, author, teacher, scholar and spy who for 25 years ran Central Intelligence Agency covert operations against the Soviet Union from Munich, New Delhi, New York and Washington, died of pneumonia Nov. 4 at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton.
Mr. Rositzke raised beef cattle in Middleburg, wrote books about the CIA and the KGB, taught at Harvard University, researched such arcana as Anglo-Saxon grammar and vowel duration in High German, and, during the Cold War, directed the parachuting of espionage agents into the Ukraine region of the Soviet Union.
His books include "The CIA's Secret Operations" (1977) and "The KGB: The Eyes of Russia" (1981), but he also wrote "The C-Text of the Old English Chronicles," which is considered a classic of Anglo-Saxon research. He did his doctoral dissertation at Harvard on "The Speech of Kent Before the Norman Conquest."
In 1981, The Washington Post's Henry Allen wrote of Mr. Rositzke, "He should be George Smiley, the John LeCarre spy novel hero -- a little out of the mold, a scholar." Responding to that appraisal, Mr. Rositzke said: "I was just reading 'Smiley's People.' The point is, academic training leads you to look at the facts, to weigh the facts. But Smiley couldn't exist in any real environment."
Mr. Rositzke was a veteran of World War II duty with the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor in espionage to the CIA. He volunteered in 1946 to monitor the intelligence operations of the Soviet Union, a major wartime ally against Nazi Germany. In the OSS, he had been chief of military intelligence in London and Paris, and later chief of the steering division in Germany, where he operated out of a former sparkling-wine factory near Wiesbaden.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who became an aide to President John F. Kennedy and a presidential scholar, was one of Mr. Rositzke's OSS colleagues. It came to him as no surprise that Mr. Rositzke opted for a career in intelligence after the war. "War had made him a professional. Peace evidently offered him a scope for analysis and action on questions more urgent than Anglo-Saxon grammar, his previous specialty," Schlesinger wrote in a preface to Mr. Rositzke's 1977 book on the CIA.
Mr. Rositzke, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., graduated from Union College and received a doctorate in Germanic philology at Harvard. In 1935 and 1936, he studied experimental phonetics on a fellowship at the University of Hamburg, where he had an opportunity to witness the Nazis' consolidation of power in Germany. He would later describe this experience as frightening. From 1936 to 1942, he taught at Harvard, the University of Omaha and the University of Rochester.
As a specialist on Soviet intelligence after the war, he moved initially into quarters in Washington where, by his own description: "The walls were pockmarked with holes and the ceiling smudged with stains from the rain and snow that leaked through the fragile roof. It had no carpet. It was furnished with one antique desk."
He ran agents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe from 1949 to 1954 and was based in Munich for the last two years of this assignment. "We were sending people into the Ukraine -- people forget that there was an active resistance movement there. . . . We'd fly them in and parachute them from C-47s. We never lost a plane. We were pleased to see how inefficient the antiaircraft forces were." The East German government in those years gave Mr. Rositzke one of the longer entries in its published directory of CIA agents operating in the region.
As the CIA station chief in New Delhi from 1957 to 1962, Mr. Rositzke's espionage targets were Soviets, Chinese and Tibetans. He lunched monthly with his resident counterpart from the GRU, the Soviet military intelligence arm, and he also developed a working relationship with John Kenneth Galbraith, Kennedy's ambassador to India, who was deeply suspicious of the CIA.
Later in the 1960s, he worked on the recruitment by the CIA of Soviet diplomats in Washington and New York and began to focus on terrorism and wars of national liberation. He retired from the CIA in 1970 as chief of the international communism unit.
In 1955, Mr. Rositzke purchased a 350-acre farm in Middleburg, where in retirement he raised beef cattle, mowed his fields, drove his tractor and wrote about the craft of intelligence.
Espionage, he would argue, had a useful role in the maintenance of political order. "Spies in the right places can induce a feeling of security by negative reporting or guarantee no strategic surprises by positive reporting. Their value in reducing the paranoid tendencies of the Soviet Union should not be underestimated."
Writing about the KGB, Mr. Rositzke observed: "The clandestine mentality is rooted in a conspiratorial view of the world . . . [that] someone out there is plotting against me. . . . Since the world is a threatening place, only secret counter-action can guarantee survival." In a 1981 Washington Post review, David Wise wrote that this argument "could also provide the rationale for the CIA's own covert operations around the globe."
In all, Mr. Rositzke wrote five books about Soviet affairs, the CIA and the KGB, most of which were intended to supply information for the 1970s public debate that accompanied disclosure of such covert CIA operations as assassination plots and the drugging of people without their knowledge or consent. By this time, Mr. Rositzke's thinking was at variance with the standard political posture of the Cold Warriors of earlier times.
Schlesinger described this in his preface to "Secret Operations," as "his skeptical portrait of the 'Cold War mentality,' his conviction that Moscow's postwar strategy was basically defensive, his observations about 'the myth of a communist monolith' and his unsparing critique of the 'military mindedness' of the containment policy."
Survivors include his wife, Barbara Bourgeoise Rositzke of Middleburg; two children, John Brockman Rositzke of Jackson, Mich., and Anne Elizabeth Hunt of New York; and two grandchildren.