Soviet intelligence agents and suspected agents

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Soviet intelligence agents and suspected agents

KV 2/2882

Joseph Volodarsky and Elisabeth Volodarskya (KV 2/2880-2882)

Security Service attention on Joseph Volodarsky and his wife focused on a clumsy attempt at industrial espionage in 1932. Volodarsky, posing as a Romanian journalist, offered bribes to Shell Mex employees in return for oil industry information. One of these employees, Marcus Weinstein, reported his concerns to his superiors, and was instructed to supply information under control to Volodarsky, until the latter was arrested, tried and fined for his efforts. Volodarsky was in fact an OGPU agent, posing in Britain under cover of being employed by Russian Oil Products.

KV 2/2880 (1930-1933) includes reports of Volodarsky's various meetings with Weinstein, numerous photographs of Volodarsky (for example serial 6b) and a case summary (serial 45a). At this time the Volodarskys were living at 160 Highbury New Park, an address associated with many Soviet agents, and this file includes (serial 37a) photographs of all the residents in 1932.

After this setback the Volodarskys left Britain, but soon appeared under new names in Canada, where they were interned at the start of the Second World War. Here they confessed their roles as agents in North America (Volodarsky sought to hide his earlier activity in Britain – the link was only established from information provided by his wife) and acted as defecting informants.

A copy of the FBI report on their interrogations as forwarded by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the Security Service is at serial 115a in KV 2/2881 (1938-1941). The information provided by Volodarsky is followed up in KV 2/2882 (1944-1957), which includes a further photo of Volodarsky (serial 135c), and where he is described flatly as "An informant who was active in Soviet espionage in the United States from 1933 to 1938."

Go to Discovery to view image of KV 2/2880

Go to Discovery to view image of KV 2/2881

Go to Discovery to view image of KV 2/2882

Peter Astbury (KV 2/2884-2886) 1936-1958

Astbury was a Communist Party member during his time as a student at Cambridge. He maintained that membership through his military service and beyond, eventually admitting his allegiance.

The Security Service first began to take an interest in him in 1936 (KV 2/2884, 1936-1950) when his name began to appear in intercepted correspondence of other suspects. There is a summary of his early career at serial 36g. He did, however, manage to join the army and gain a commission before the Service could intervene, and so Captain Astbury served out the war in the GHQ Liaison regiment.

The file details how he was captured at Arnhem on 17 September 1944. After his release he seems to have courted publicity and given press interviews detailing his claims to have been involved with 'phantom' communication systems on D-Day and thereafter. The file reveals that he was in regular contact with prominent Communists such as Douglas Springhall. In 1947, Astbury joined Manchester University to work as part of the "cosmic ray team".

Astbury made his communist views public knowledge in November 1950, as reported in KV 2/2885 (1950-1953), which also documents growing disagreements between him and the leader of the Manchester team. Astbury's name became closely linked to the Cambridge spy ring when a letter from him to Guy Burgess was found among the latter's possessions in New Bond Street on 7 June 1951 shortly after Burgess defected (copy at serial 141a).

Despite a close watch being kept on his activities and contacts, no evidence seems to have emerged of Astbury passing information about his research to the Soviets. At this time, Astbury frequently travelled to Switzerland for research purposes and the Service continued to gather information on his work and contacts through to 1958 (KV 2/2886, 1953-1958).

The Kuczynski family

This release contains a number of further files on the extended Kuczynski family of Soviet intelligence officers and associates. (Those relating to Ursula Kuczynski and her two husbands, Rudolph Hamburger and Leon Beurton, have already been transferred to The National Archives (KV 2/1610 and KV 6/41-45); as have those relating to Juergen Kuczynski (KV 2/1871-1880) and Bridget Kuczynski (KV 2/1567-1569). The family was heavily involved in the Klaus Fuchs atom spy case.)

KV 2/2889-2893 (1941-1957) covers the youngest sister Renate and her husband Arthur Simpson, who worked as a senior scientist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. KV 2/2927-2933 (1936-1957) deals with Sabine and her husband Francis Loeffler, a Cambridge educated communist lawyer. KV 2/2935-2937 (1936-1957) relate to Barbara Kuczynski and her husband Duncan McRae Taylor.