In 1920 a scandal involving one of Britainâs most senior and celebrated generals from the First World War, a leading naval officer and a communist Finnish actress rocked the British establishment. Documents held here at The National Archives reveal the true extent of this long-forgotten spy story.
The tale started when the Finnish authorities raided the house of Madame Hella Vuolijoki, a leading figure in Finnish society suspected of supplying intelligence to the newly formed Soviet authorities in Russia. Vuolijoki was an interesting character who had previously come to the attention of MI5. Their agent reported that she was:
‘Very well known in Helsingfors, is clever, far seeing, extremely energetic. Keeps salon. Is greatest champion of proletariat and Soviet Russia. Employs all her womanâs wit and energy in trying to catch and impose her views on prominent foreign journalists and diplomats who frequent her salon, and listen to her views on the great questions of the day.’ (KV 2/1393)
She was on the MI5 blacklist of individuals barred from entering the UK and was, at various times, believed to be operating as a spy for the Germans, the Soviets and the Japanese. Continue reading »