The professional path of Adolf Chapsky is typical for his generation of intellectuals seeking to better people’s lives: a specialised commerce school in the Polish city of Lodz, the Technical School in the German city of Strelitz, drafted into the army and combat in the First World War, then political and party work, joining the Red Army and fighting in the Civil War.
In 1921, Chapsky started working for the OGPU. Over the next few years, he quickly made his way up to senior positions in the central office and attained the rank of major of state security, which corresponded to the rank of brigade commander in the Red Army. He was sent on numerous missions by the Foreign Department of the OGPU, including China, Rome, and the USA. Since 1934, he was in charge of the "legal" Station in London. His official cover was as second secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Great Britain. During Chapsky’s tenure as Station head, intelligence work intensified, first with Kim Philby, and then with other members of the Cambridge Five.
Like other security officers of "the first wave", Adolf Chapsky was caught up in the purges. In the summer of 1937, he was called back to Moscow, arrested on false charges in September, and shot as a foreign spy soon after.
Twenty years later, by decision of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, the verdict against Chapsky was vacated, and the case was closed for lack of evidence.