Did any Western defectors not regret their decision? (Cold War)

In the Cold War there were a number of defectors from the West to the Soviet Union or affiliates, on reading of their subsequent histories it appears that the majority fairly quickly came to regret their decision and some tried to be repatriated to their country of origin.

Are there any examples of defectors who apparently never regreted defecting and believed they made the right decision?


21 American and one British POW in the Korean War intially refused repatriation and there were 6 American defectors after the war. Some of them eventually returned but some did not.

A high profile case which deserves mention is Kim Philby:


Philby is a strange case, however you slice it. Hard to tell what really motivated him, or what he did or did not regret any given point.

Kim Philby was one who was I was going to bring up.

Since someone else brought up Philby, I ought to bring up Edward Lee Howard, who seemed very pleased with his defection to Moscow, at least up to the point in 2002 where, as this article puts it, he died from a suspiciously broken neck.

Joe Dresnok is possibly the only defector still living in a communist country*. He was a high school dropout who frankly didn’t have much going for him in the free world when he defected to North Korea in the 60’s. In North Korea, he’s been set up as a full-fledged member of the elite and a minor celebrity (one of his jobs was to play the “evil capitalist” in numerous North Korean soap operas, he also taught at the major state university). He’s lived a very comfortable life in a very nice apartment and had two marriages that were probably completely arranged by the state. He certainly doesn’t regret it and at least based on the impression given by the books and documentaries of his life before defecting, it seems hard to say that he would have done much better in life had he stayed in the US.

*I know there’s a few left-wing radicals wanted in the US who are still hiding out in Cuba, but I don’t know if that really counts.

That kind of makes you wonder why more people didn’t try that particular trick! :smiley:

Thanks for the answers everyone

Here’s a person you probably have never heard of:

This guy deserted from the West Germany army in the 60s while he was a conscript. He is an unrepentant communist, he was an informer of the East German Stasi and today is the editor of a communist newspaper.

You’re right, I hadn’t heard of him, thanks!

German born, Russian spy Richard Sorge. His wiki page is interesting. I read a book about him years ago. He was hanged for spying in Japan, 1944.

seem to have at least be satisfied with their decision. At least I’ve found no online indication that he or his wife had ‘changed their minds’. The kids pretty much grew up in Russia during the 80s and 90s so they are probably more likely to be happy with their lives.



I wish I had been in his house as a fly on the wall. To see his reaction when …the wall fell.