The latest batch of MI5 files have been released at The National Archives this morning. As always they contain a fascinating new glimpse into the murky world of Second World War and Cold War espionage and provide extraordinary insights into some of the most famous of all spies.
The activities of Kim Philby, arguably the most important Soviet spy of the Cold War, are comparatively well known, but there has always been a mystery surrounding his recruitment. The files released on the relatively unassuming figure of Edith Tudor-Hart (KV 2/4091–4093) go a long way to solving this. Born in Austria as Edith Suschitzky, she was associated with left wing movements from early on in her life and married the British doctor Alexander Tudor-Hart, both becoming members of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Edith was close friends with Litzi Friedmann, who would become Philby’s first wife and MI5 believed that it was through this connection that Tudor Hart came to know Philby in Vienna in the early 1930s. There is strong evidence to suggest that it was Tudor-Hart who first introduced Philby to Arnold Deutsch, the Soviet agent who was to initially run Philby and the other spies in the Cambridge Five ring. As such one source told MI5 that she was ‘the grandmother of us all’. Continue reading »