Britain’s Jewish Communist Traitors

Francis Carr Begbie


In his plea for Britain to take in thousands more “Syrian refugees”  Lord Alf Dubs tearfully recalls how he was brought to Britain, aged six, from Prague, as a Kindertransport Jewish refugee.  His former parliamentary colleague, wealthy publisher Lord George Weidenfeld too, was fond of recalling how he found sanctuary in Britain after fleeing Austria just before the war. He said it was the main factor in his decision to help pay for the transport of thousands of Syrian refugees into the west.

The Kindertransport has been exposed as a confection of distortions, myths and omissions previously in TOO, but there is another little awkward fact about the Jewish refugees taken in by Britain before the war. And that is the remarkably high proportion of them who chose to actively betray the country which gave them sanctuary by acting as spies for Britain’s deadly enemy, the Soviet Union.

They not only ensured that many British agents were sent to their deaths or capture, torture and long periods of imprisonment, but played a crucial part in stealing the atomic bomb secrets that allowed the Soviet Union to catch up and have its own atomic bomb by 1949. Their treachery compromised the security of Britain and the West and probably extended the length of the Cold War and the enslavement of the subject peoples of Eastern Europe.

What is more astonishing is that in many cases the British authorities took no action against them to avoid official embarrassment. As a result some of Britain’s foulest traitors were left free to enjoy their retirements in comfort and security.

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It is well-known that Jews were prominently involved in the left throughout the twentieth century, including communism, that leftist politics was mainstream within Jewish communities during much of that period, and that leftist Jews typically continued to have a strong Jewish identity. Information on Jewish involvement in communist spying increased greatly in the last 20+ years because in 1995 the USA began to open up its Venona Soviet code decryption archive. Another eye-opening tranche of incriminating material came via the publication of the Mitrokhin Archive spirited to the West by a KGB archivist defector in 1992. Finally, in a spirit of damage control, in 2001, the British intelligence services began to open up some of their older files for inspection in the National Archive. This led to the launch of something of a cottage industry for authors who found an eager audience for true-life stories about wartime espionage and derring-do.

Despite the seriousness of their crimes the media has chosen to portray these traitors as colourful romantics and their actions as the understandable acts of misguided conscience. This murderous stab in the back by many Jewish refugees towards the people who took them in, has gone completely unremarked.

Up until recently this subject has been overshadowed by the Cambridge non-Jewish spies of Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean who all defected to Moscow. They lived upper-class, raffish lifestyles and their bohemian milieu lent the story a kind of perverted glamour.  But they were not even the most important spies in an enormous communist network which reached into many institutions — a network of Russian and German exiles who seem to have been overwhelmingly Jewish.

One of MI5’s most embarrassing lapses concerned its failure to catch Edith Tudor-Hart. She was born Edith Suschitzky in Vienna and on her first visit to Britain was deported from Britain for suspicious communist activities but she returned in 1933 as a political refugee after marrying an English doctor. From the moment she arrived she was working as a Soviet agent and set up as a professional photographer in an apartment opposite Abbey Road recording studio in north London.

She was really working for another Jewish refugee — and Soviet spy controller — Arnold Deutsch, and she couriered for the  Soviet Union’s most successful spy in Britain, the senior MI5 officer Kim Philby. As early as May, 1934 the three were meeting on park benches in Regents Park. By the time of the Cambridge ring defections in 1952 she was strongly under suspicion but under interrogation denied everything. Soon after she was admitted to psychiatric hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown which MI5 interrogators took as an indication of guilt.

An old MI5 file, released for view last year, said “From such evidence as is on record (letters, observations etc.) she would appear to be a rather typical, emotional, introspective and somewhat intellectual Viennese Jewess …. (L)ike so many leftwing intellectuals of her generation, she displayed an unhealthy interest in psychology and psychiatry”.

No further action was taken against her despite the strong suspicions including her photographic equipment being found in possession of another group of Jewish communist spies. She ended her days running an antique shop in Brighton. A major exhibition of her photography took place at the Scottish National Gallery in 2013 and a sympathetic Guardian article said her files not only confirmed MI5’s suspicions “they also betray a degree of anti-semitism and xenophobia within the agency.” (!) A Telegraph article described her as “the spy with a conscience.”

The most important Jewish spy was Melita Norwood who was born in England as Melita Stedman to Latvian immigrant parents who were committed bolshevik revolutionaries and spies themselves. She joined the Party in the thirties and got a secretarial job at the offices of the innocuous-sounding British Non-Ferrous Metals Association. This was to be her gateway into the heart of the atomic bomb research establishment because she became secretary to Dr G. L. Bailey, the head of Britain’s atom bomb project throughout the war, with access to both his home and office safe. For decades she passed documents and secrets to both the KGB and the Red Army’s GRU. She was identified as a security risk in 1965 but no action was taken and she retired to leafy suburbia. Her spying was confirmed by the Mitrokhin archive in 1992 but she was never prosecuted. More recent files show she was more highly valued than the Cambridge spies and was secretly awarded the Order of the Red Banner by the KGB. She never hid her left-wing sympathies and when she leafleted her neighbourhood she was tolerated as just another harmless English eccentric.  Throughout her spying days she was helped by her husband Hilary Nussbaum, who was also a committed communist and who took her surname.

Because of her treachery the Soviets were able to create a copy of the British atom bomb within a year, and to catch up with the underlying technology within two years. She ended her days comfortably in a sheltered housing complex in south London while the Mail ran a breezy article about the “jam-making granny” spy who tended a garden allotment. Like all the unmasked Jewish spies she expressed no regrets for spying for Stalin.

Another important Jewish refugee spy who inexplicably escaped prosecution was Ursula Kuczynski, also known as Ruth Werner though she had at least three other names. Born in Berlin to a wealthy Jewish family she enjoyed an expensive schooling and rich lifestyle but rejected it all to become a communist revolutionary and spy. After working for the Soviets in China and Switzerland throughout the war, she and her second husband Leonard Breurton came to live in Oxfordshire where she worked as a courier for the Atom bomb secrets of yet another Jewish refugee spy, the traitor scientist Klaus Fuchs who was caught by the Venona interceptions and jailed in 1950 for passing atomic secrets.  The file on Fuchs, who had joined the Communist Party in his youth in Berlin, suggests he was helped in his endeavours by a host of Jewish women including his sister, his mistress and many others.  Kuczynski also received eager help from her sister and brother who were also communists.

Some Jewish communist women were married to non-Jewish traitors and acted as “handlers” for the various Soviet intelligence agencies.  A good example was Kim Philby’s wife Litzi Friedmann who was born Alice Kohlmann in Vienna. She initially fled to Britain as a refugee in 1933 and in fact married Philby to get a British passport.

Philby rose to become head of the anti-Soviet section of the Secret Intelligence Service as MI5 is formally known and until recently was thought to be the KGB’s most successful agent.  Because of him, probably hundreds of agents who were sent into the Ukraine and Albania, were caught and executed. After a long career of helping Philby and betraying the country that gave her sanctuary and after Philby’s defection, Friedmann was allowed to return to East Germany.

There were many other Jewish women communist spies. In 1939 one of the Cambridge spies, Donald MacLean, was working at the British embassy in Paris where the Soviet spy overseeing him was Kitty Harris, a Jewess from the East End of London, with whom he was having an affair.  Her real NKVD courier role was not revealed until 2001 via the Venona files. (She eventually married Earl Browder, chairman of the CPUSA, the American Communist Party). She fled to the Soviet Union and died of alcoholism in Gorky in 1966.

Then there was Hildegard Pauline Ruth Gerwig, of German Jewish extraction, who married two non-Jewish scientist traitors in turn and is thought to have “run” both for the Soviets. First was Engelbert Broda, and the second was Alan Nunn May who worked deep within the British atomic bomb project.  Long suspected, Broda was only named as a spy in 2009.

The wartime BBC may have been a hive of communist fellow travellers but the groupthink leftism was not shared by every employee, and one in particular was patriotic and independent-minded enough to take his suspicions further. Eric Blair, who wrote under the pen name George Orwell, may have been a socialist but he detested Stalinism. Orwell listed those he thought too untrustworthy to be allowed to work in propaganda and sent it to his bosses; they included those who  “in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists”.

When, in 2004, George Orwell’s list of unreliables and potential traitors was revealed it was met with outrage in left-wing circles. The list is not perfect. But as time has passed more and more of Orwell’s judgements have proved to be spot on. One of those he suspected was a Jewish political asylum seeker who became one of the most important spies in Britain. Peter Smollet was the name of a Daily Express correspondent who was born Hans Peter Smolka to a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna. He was already an NKVD agent when he hurriedly left Austria for Britain in the early thirties to escape a crackdown on communists. He arrived in Britain ostensibly working as a journalist, but MI5 already had a file on him because he was expelled from France for photographing a French armaments factory.

Nevertheless, well-connected, he soon landed plum jobs with the Daily Express, The Times and eventually BBC as roving European correspondent while at the same time being an agent for the Comintern (Communist International).

He covered the German entry into Prague at the behest of his boss at the BBC, Soviet mole Guy Burgess, and was also reporting to the other Soviet master spy Kim Philby. In 1961 Smollett was interrogated but was released through lack of evidence. He eventually fled, not to the Eastern bloc, but to the family landed estate in Austria and died, wealthy and comfortable, in 1980. He was finally confirmed as a Soviet agent by the Mitrokhin archive in 2003. Smollett, incidentally, got his revenge on George Orwell by persuading several publishers not to publish his allegorical novel Animal Farm, a seminal work of anti-totalitarianism.

In its coverage the BBC prefers to portray these wartime spy investigations as hysterical “Red Scares.” But in 1953 there was concern about the Jewish emigre head of the BBC’s Russian service who seemed to be bending over backwards to portray the Soviet Union in a positive light. He is said to have made the BBC Russian service as left-wing as the New Statesman and Nation. The name of this man Anatol Goldberg  was on a list of suspected fellow-travellers — or worse — submitted by a worried Conservative MP. Goldberg was initially defended but later discreetly shunted sideways and removed from this post, although he stayed as a commentator. In retirement Goldberg wrote an admiring biography of Stalin’s notorious genocidal propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg which was so one-sided even the New York Times found it hard to take. So what was the truth about Anatol Goldberg? The answer presumably lies in the archives of the KGB or MI5.

And what of Lord Victor Rothschild who, like his friend Kim Philby, was a wartime MI5 officer.  He owned an apartment at 5 Bentinck Street in Marylebone. At various times this raucous establishment hosted soirees that included at least three of the Cambridge spies as well as the notorious Zionist traitor John Strachey who became a Labour MP.

No conclusive proof of betrayal by Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild has ever emerged, but rumours continue to swirl around his name. He denied any wrongdoing to the end of his life, but an Australian author and espionage expert Roland Perry was not convinced and accused him of being a spy in a book called The Fifth Man. Perhaps more time will tell.

Incidentally, what was the wealthy publisher, Viennese-born Lord Weidenfeld, doing among that nest of traitors in Bentinck Street? When he died last month he was lauded for his work in flying thousands of “Syrian refugees” into Poland and said it was the least he could do, having been a wartime refugee into Britain himself. What did he have in common with Philby, Burgess and MacLean?

It would be appropriate here to mention the well-known case of George Blake, who was born in Egypt to a Jewish father and English mother.  As a communist schoolboy he fled from wartime Netherlands to Britain and returned the country’s generosity by spying for the Soviets. He was caught, sentenced to 42 years in prison, but then escaped and was spirited behind the Iron Curtain by British peace campaigners. He is still alive at 93 and the unusual circumstances of his escape created a mini book and film industry which invariably treats him and his co-conspirators with great affection.

How sad so few of these authors and film makers sought to spare a thought for Blake’s victims.

Britain’s failure to prosecute wartime spies has become impossible to hide in recent years thanks to the opening of these archives. But there seems to be a silent consensus that there is one aspect of these failures which should not be probed too hard, and that is the ethnic dimension. As glaringly obvious as the predominant Jewishness of these spies, it is totally off limits as regards scrutiny or even comment.

This is a very brief survey but there are many other cases in the archives and many more questions than answers. What is in the unpublished files on notorious Stalinist apologist Eric Hobsbawm who was honoured by Tony Blair but kept under close wartime surveillance by MI5? Was the friendship between this fanatical wartime communist historian and Cambridge spy Guy Burgess entirely innocent?

And what of another Cambridge friend of the gregarious Guy Burgess and an open supporter of the Soviet Union, the Marxist physicist don J. D. Bernal? Today university buildings  are named after Bernal, a pioneer of crystallography, but in 1931 he organised two trips to Moscow where Cambridge scientists were politely grilled by their Soviet counterparts, much to the alarm of many.  Mysteriously, Bernal’s post-war scientific reputation has survived his espousal of the bogus Stalinist science of “Lysenkoism.” It also survived his receipt of the Stalin Peace Prize and his membership in the notorious communist-front World Peace Council. There are also worries about Churchill’s chief scientific adviser Lord Zuckerman, some of whose files remain closed.

And MI5 built a huge file on science popularizer Jacob Bronowski who became famous through his 1970’s television series The Ascent of Man. Bronowski, who worked in military research, was so loud and abrasive about his Soviet sympathies that he alarmed his colleagues, and MI5 labelled him a security risk. The BBC has since portrayed him as the victim of a monstrous injustice. But why was he blocked from working in atomic research?

The few of the proven Jewish traitors who have sought to exculpate themselves have explained that they were doing it for world peace, that in passing the secrets of the Atom Bomb to the Soviets that they helped create a fairer, more equal world.  How sad that in doing so it involved such a murderous stab in the back to the people who so generously took them in.

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