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 Emilio Kosterlitzky

Emilio Kosterlitzky

Moscow, Moscow Federal City, Russia
Death 2 Mar 1928 (aged 74)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Section C Tier 1 Grave 21
Memorial ID 43017922 · View Source
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Adventurer. He was born to a Russian father and German mother and at age ten was taken to live near Berlin. Four years later he entered a military school at St Petersburg, Russia and then transferred to the Royal Naval College in Moscow. In 1872 he was assigned to a training ship for a world cruise and in December of that year he jumped ship in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. His activities from that time until May 1, 1873 are not well defined. One rumor, which he denied, was that he reached the United States, enlisted in, and then deserted from, the United States Army. On that date he enlisted in the Mexican Army and his first name from that date on was converted from Emil to Emilio. He enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks and ultimately retired from with the rank of colonel. During the 1880s he fought in the Apache Wars on Mexican side of the border. He also assisted American troops pursuing Apaches across the border under the 1882 United States–Mexico reciprocal border crossing treaty. He became acquainted with all the United States army troops and with much respect they referred to him as the "Mexican Cossack." Meantime, he was performing a parallel service as commander of the famed Rurales or mounted police of Sonora under the favor of President Porfirio Diaz to whom he was ever loyal. His greatest fame came as the commander of this dreaded outfit and his tight fisted rule over the Mexican people. A strict disciplinarian he could be as harsh and ruthless as he was tireless and incorruptible. At the same time he was generally fair-minded, courteous, soldierly, and willing to listen to some supposed criminal he had taken. One historian said, "He freed many men, and he shot many men." He retired on February 12, 1912, but the new president, Francesco Madero requested his return to duty on September 11, 1912. On March 13, 1913 he was in a battle with insurgents during the Mexican Revolution and, being badly outnumbered, he surrendered to American forces in Nogales, Arizona. He and his men were interned at Fort Rosecrans, near San Diego, California where he was held until 1914. His knowledge of the borderlands, fluency in the Russian, German, Spanish, English, French, and Italian languages, and his intelligence and reliability led to an appointment as Special Employee of the united States Department of Justice. In the words of J Edgar Hoover he rendered services "of great value in investigations along the Mexican border and on the West Coast." He resigned this position because of failing health on September 4, 1926 and lived in Los Angeles until his death.

Taken from a page of "History of the FBI".
Thanks to Joe Pearce.

The Russian Cossack Turned Special Agent
Special Agent Emilio Kosterlitzky was one of the most colorful characters to ever serve as a special agent.
A cultured, Russian-born man of the world, he spent four decades in the Russian and Mexican militaries, rising to the rank of brigadier general in Mexico. To avoid the dangerous tribulations of the ongoing Mexican Revolution, he settled down in Los Angeles in 1914.

In 1917, the same year as the Bolshevik revolution in his native land, he joined the FBI. He was 63.

Kosterlitzky was appointed a “special employee,” like today’s investigative assistant but with more authority. And with his deep military experience and international flair (including strong connections throughout Mexico and the Southwest U.S. and the ability to speak, read, and write more than eight languages) he excelled at it. His work included not only translations but also undercover work.

On May 1, 1922, Kosterlitzky was appointed a Bureau special agent at a salary of six dollars a day. Because of his unique qualifications he was assigned to work border cases and to conduct liaison with various Mexican informants and officials. By all accounts, he showed exceptional diplomacy and skill.

In 1926, Kosterlitzky was ordered to report to the Bureau’s office in Phoenix but could not comply because of a serious heart condition. He resigned on September 4, 1926. Less than two years later this grand old gentleman died and was buried in Los Angeles.

Family Members

  • Created by: Tom Todd
  • Added: 12 Oct 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 43017922
  • Gary Hancharik
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Emilio Kosterlitzky (16 Nov 1853–2 Mar 1928), Find A Grave Memorial no. 43017922, citing Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Tom Todd (contributor 46900975) .