Text size

Amos Manor, head of the Shin Bet security service from 1953 to 1963, died on Sunday in Tel Aviv at age 88, after an illness.

Manor always cited the achievement he was most proud of as obtaining the text of Nikita Kruschev's famous secret speech denouncing Stalin to the 20th Soviet Communist Party Congress.

It was Polish journalist Viktor Grayevsky who had unwittingly stumbled upon the secret document and turned it over to the Shin Bet representative in the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw in 1956.

With prime minister David Ben-Gurion's consent, Manor passed the speech along to the CIA, something that enhanced the image of Israeli intelligence in the Americans' eyes and resulted in an upgrading of relations between the two intelligence communities.

Manor was born Arthur Mendelovici, in the town of Sighet, Transylvania (today Romania), in 1918, to a wealthy, Zionist family. In 1944 he was sent with most of his family on the first transport of Jews from Hungary to Auschwitz. He survived the Holocaust and from 1947 was active in Romania in the Mossad for Aliyah Bet, which was responsible for smuggling illegal Jewish refugees into Mandatory Palestine. His code name was "Amos."

In June 1949 he immigrated to Israel with a forged Czech passport and a month later was recruited to the Shin Bet. In January 1950, he officially became Amos Manor.

Manor served in various positions in the service before becoming head of the department for surveillance of Eastern bloc diplomats and intelligence agents.

In 1952 he was appointed deputy Shin Bet head, and the following year its chief, in what was considered a meteoric promotion for a new immigrant who had arrived only four years earlier.

Manor told Haaretz in an interview a year and a half ago that his rapid promotion led the CIA to suspect him of being a KGB and Romanian plant.

Manor is survived by a wife and son. His funeral will be held today at 4 P.M. at the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul, Tel Aviv.