Rubens-Robinson Case

The name used in historical literature for a Soviet-American diplomatic confrontation that took place in early 1938, following the arrests in Moscow of a married couple who had entered the Soviet Union on American passports in the names of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Louis Robinson. An investigation launched by the U.S. Department of State revealed that the Robinson passports were fraudulent and that the couple possessed a second set of passports issued in the names of Adolph Arnold Rubens and Ruth Marie Rubens. The incident thus became known as the Rubens-Robinson case.

Following this investigation, the United States refused to recognize Mr. Rubens-Robinson as an American citizen but insisted on its right to defend the interests of his wife, who was identified as an American citizen named Ruth Marie Boerger. The U.S. continued to press the Soviets for information regarding Mrs. Rubens’s fate – and then, for the right to hold a prison interview with her. When the interview was finally granted on February 10, 1938, Mrs. Rubens refused American assistance. On June 9, 1939, Ruth Marie Rubens was sentenced by a Soviet court to 18 months in jail, which by that time she had already served. On June 19, she visited the U.S. Embassy and declared that she did not intend to return to the United States. On October 10, 1939, Ruth Marie Rubens took Soviet citizenship and relocated to Kiev, which became her permanent residence. Her husband was convicted of espionage and sentenced to “10 years without the right to correspondence,” which in those years was often equivalent to a death sentence. We now know that Rubens-Robinson was an officer of the Soviet military intelligence named Arnold Adamovich Ikal. [[1. Sovetsko-Amerikanskie otnoshenija: Gody nepriznanija, 1934-1939. Dokumenty. Moskva: Mezhdunarodnyi fond "Demokratija", 2002, s. 600. ( Soviet-American Relations: The Years of Non-Recognition, 1934-1939. Moscow: International Foundation “Democracy,” 2003, p. 600); FRUS. Soviet Union, 1933-1939, p. 911.]