Edith Tudor Hart

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Edith Tudor-Hart
Allegiance Soviet Union Soviet Union
Active 1925-195?
Codename(s) Edith[1]

Birth name Edith Suschitzky
Born (1908-08-28)28 August 1908
Vienna, Austria
Died 12 May 1973(1973-05-12) (aged 64)[2]
Nationality British / Austrian
Occupation Photographer, spy
Alma mater Bauhaus, Dessau

Edith Tudor-Hart (née Edith Suschitzky; 1908–1973) was an Austrian-British photographer, communist-sympathiser and spy for the Soviet Union. Some of her work is in the National Gallery in London. Brought up in a family of socialists, she trained in photography at Walter Gropius's Bauhaus in Dessau, and carried her political ideals through her art. Through her connections with Arnold Deutsch, Tudor-Hart was instrumental in the recruiting of the Cambridge Spy ring which damaged British intelligence from World War II until their discovery in the late 1960s. She recommended Litzi Friedmann and Kim Philby for recruitment by the KGB[3] and acted as an intermediary for Anthony Blunt and Bob Stewart when the rezidentura at the Soviet Embassy in London suspended its operations in February 1940.

Early life and education[edit]

Tudor-Hart's father was a social democrat who was born into the Jewish community in Vienna, but had renounced his faith and become an atheist. He opened the first social democratic bookshop in Vienna (later to become a publishers). Tudor-Hart's brother Wolfgang Suschitzky described their father as "a great man. I realised that later on in life, not so much when I saw him every day. But, I met interesting people, some of his authors who came and had lunch with us or met people who came to his shop."[4] Suschitzky recalled boyhood memories of the family excitement that greeted the Russian Revolution in 1917.[5] Tudor-Hart studied photography at the Bauhaus in Dessau, but worked in Vienna as a Montessori kindergarten teacher. Her brother also became a well-known photographer and cinematographer in Britain. He cited his sister as an influence on his decision to pursue an artistic career over a scientific one.[6]

An anti-fascist activist and Communist, she saw photography as a tool for disseminating her political ideas.[7] She married medical doctor Alex Tudor-Hart, who belonged to a well-known radical and artistic family. The couple fled to London, England in 1933, so that she could avoid prosecution and persecution in Austria for her Communist activities and Jewish background.[8]

London[edit]

While her husband practised as a GP in the area of Rhondda Valley in South Wales,[9] she began to produce photographs for The Listener, The Social Scene and Design Today, dealing with issues such as refugees from the Spanish Civil War and industrial decline in the north-east of England. From the late 1930s, she concentrated more on social needs, such as housing policy and the care of disabled children. This change in work may have been because after separation from her husband who had just returned from the Spanish Civil War, their son, Tommy, became an incurable schizophrenic. She was friends with photographer Margaret Monck.[10]

Spying activities[edit]

Tudor Hart was instrumental in recruiting both the Cambridge Spy ring which damaged British intelligence from World War II through to their discovery in the late 1960s. Whilst working as a photographer she also acted as a courier.[11] Her rather unsubtle codename was 'Edith'. Tudor Hart had met Arnold Deutsch in Vienna in 1926, and with him she worked in the OMS, the International Liaison Department of the Comintern.

When she moved to London her main contact was Litzi Friedmann. In May 1934 Arnold Deutsch discussed with Edith and Litzi the recruitment of Soviet spies. Litzi suggested her husband, Kim Philby. [12] "According to her report on Philby's file, through her own contacts with the Austrian underground Tudor Hart ran a swift check and, when this proved positive, Deutsch immediately recommended... that he pre-empt the standard operating procedure by authorizing a preliminary personal sounding out of Philby." [13]


She was placed under surveillance by Special Branch after October 1931 when she was observed attending a demonstration in Trafalgar Square.[11] Tudor-Hart was of interest because of her friendship with Litzi Friedmann, who was Kim Philby's first wife and almost certainly spotted Kim as a potential Communist agent during his stay in Vienna,[11] where he was a sympathiser of the Social Democrats who waged a civil war against the government of Engelbert Dollfuss. Tudor-Hart vetted Philby for the NKVD and introduced him to 'Otto' (Deutsch's code name).[14] When, in 1934, Friedmann and Philby arrived in London from Vienna, Tudor Hart is credited as having suggested to Deutsch in his role as the now London-based NKVD recruiter, that the NKVD recruit them as agents.[15][16][17] She also helped to recruit Arthur Wynn in 1936.[18]

She acted as an intermediary for Anthony Blunt and Bob Stewart when the rezidentura at the Soviet Embassy in London suspended its operations in February 1940.[citation needed] In 1938–39 Burgess used her to contact Russian intelligence in Paris.[11]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Edith Tudor Hart (1987) The Eye of Conscience; text by Wolf Suschitzky. Nishen. (The Photo Pocket Book 1.) ISBN 1-85378-401-X
  • Edith Tudor-Hart (2013) 'In the Shadow of Tyranny', edited by Duncan Forbes, catalogue for the exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland and Vienna, Austria, ISBN 978-3-7757-3567-4

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Von Bushy, Scratchy (3 August 2004). "Shortcuts:Secret history I, spy". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Lloyd, Raymond. "50–100 Year anniversaries of distinguished Women of History: 2023". Shequality.org. Shequality. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Walter, Natasha (10 May 2003). "Spies and Lovers". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY 3 – The situation in Austria and my father's suicide". Web of Stories. Web of stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Interview with Suschitzky
  6. ^ "WOLFGANG SUSCHITZKY 2 – Studying photography and moving to London". Web of Stories. Web of stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Edith Tudor Hart". Liverpool International Photography Festival. look 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Oxford University Press (2004). Edith Tudor Hart. 
  9. ^ Eric Hobsbawm, Everybody behaved perfectly, London Review of Books, 33(16), August 2011
  10. ^ "Margaret Monck". Exploring 20th Century London. Exploring 20th Century London. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d "25 November 2002 releases: Soviet Intelligence Agents and Suspected Agents". MI5 History > The Security Service at the National Archives. Crown Copyright. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  12. ^ >Biography of Edith Tudor Hart
  13. ^ John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions (1993) page 134
  14. ^ Volodarsky, Boris (August 2010). "Living a lie: almost everything written about and by Kim Philby is wrong". History Today. 
  15. ^ Genrikh Borovik (1994). The Philby Files – The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby. ISBN 0-316-10284-9. 
  16. ^ William E. Duff (1999). A Time for Spies: Theodore Stephanovich Mally and the Era of the Great Illegals. ISBN 0-8265-1352-2. 
  17. ^ Nigel West (2005). Mask: Mi5's Penetration Of The Communist Party Of Great Britain. ISBN 0-415-35145-6. 
  18. ^ MacIntyre, Ben; Bird, Steve (12 May 2009). "Civil servant Arthur Wynn revealed as recruiter of Oxford spies". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 May 2009.