Jona von Ustinov

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Jona von Ustinov
Born Jonah Freiherr von Ustinov
2 December 1892
Jaffa, Palestine
Died 1 December 1962(1962-12-01) (aged 69)
Eastleach, Gloucestershire
Cause of death
Heart Attack
Residence Eastleach, Gloucestershire
Nationality German
Other names Klop Ustinov
Alma mater Grenoble University,
University of Berlin
Occupation Journalist, diplomat
Home town Berlin, Germany
Spouse(s) Nadezhda L. Benois
(1920-1962; his death)
Children Peter Ustinov
Parents Plato von Ustinov,
Magdalena Hall

Jona Baron von Ustinov (aka Klop Ustinov (Клоп Устинов)) (Russian: Иона барон фон Устинов) (2 December 1892 – 1 December 1962) was a German journalist and diplomat who worked for MI5 during the time of the Nazi regime. He was the son of Baron Plato von Ustinov and father of the actor Sir Peter Ustinov.

Early life[edit]

Ustinov was born Jonah Freiherr[1] von Ustinow in Jaffa, Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, the son of Plato von Ustinov, a former Russian officer and naturalised citizen of the Kingdom of Württemberg, who had married Magdalena Hall, then living in Jaffa, the daughter of the Ethiopian court-lady Katharina Hall, also known as Welette-Iyesus and her husband Moritz Hall, a Jewish-born convert to Protestantism, cannon-caster of Negus Tewodros II of Ethiopia and missionary of St. Chrischona Pilgrim Mission in Ethiopia, and later in Jaffa.[2] Magdalena and Plato von Ustinov had four children, Jonah being the eldest.[3] Jonah von Ustinov disliked his first name and chose the nickname "Klop" ("Bedbug" in Russian), by which he was known to his friends and relatives for the rest of his life.

Ustinov went to school in Jaffa, where – until 1900 – his father hosted the school of the Protestant Immanuel congregation in his Hôtel du Parc, later in Düsseldorf, and Yverdon. He studied at Grenoble University in France and worked at University of Berlin before moving to London. This peripatetic life engendered in Ustinov a cosmopolitan attitude that made him averse to any kind of nationalism.

Beginning career[edit]

In World War I he was conscripted into the German Army and served in the Army Air Service unit Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 250.[4][5] He was awarded the Württembergian Military Merit Order for his services.[6] His brother Peter von Ustinow joined the same unit and was killed in action on 13 July 1917.[7] After the war Ustinov worked for "Wolff's Telegraphisches Bureau", the first German news agency, in Amsterdam.

On 17 July 1920 he married the painter Nadia Benois (1896-1975), daughter of Leon Benois. The Ustinovs returned to London where Klop became a press officer for the German Embassy. Their son Peter was born on 16 April 1921.

Due to his political opinions Ustinov got into problems with the new Nazi government almost immediately. In 1935 the conflict culminated when Ustinov refused to prove that he was not of Jewish descent ("Ariernachweis"). As a result he lost his job and chose to become a British citizen, thus avoiding internment or deportation later during the war.

Later career[edit]

Meanwhile, he had begun working for the British intelligence service MI5 and hosted secret meetings of senior British and German officials at his London home. Notable among these guests were the diplomat Robert Vansittart and Winston Churchill (then out of power). Another was Baron Wolfgang zu Putlitz, a First Secretary of the German Embassy in London who provided detailed information about German rearmament. It was, alleged Peter Wright, "priceless intelligence, possibly the most important human-source intelligence Britain received in the prewar period".[8]

He also tried to convince the British government of a more robust attitude towards Nazi Germany. Seven months before the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, he was able to acquire the German plans. He later regretted that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain could not bring himself to take any action.[citation needed]

Death[edit]

Ustinov died on 1 December 1962 in Eastleach, Gloucestershire from a massive heart attack.[9] Administration of his estate was given to his wife, Nadia, on 7 May 1963 - his effects were valued at £1 196.[10]

References[edit]

  • Peter Ustinov, Dear Me, 1977 Pavor S. A.
  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiherr was a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. Before 1919 preceding the first name, former titles are with people alive after 1919 dependent parts of the surname, thus preceding the main surname and not to be translated. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  2. ^ Wolbert G.C. Smidt, "Verbindungen der Familie Ustinov nach Äthiopien", in: Aethiopica, International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies, vol. 8 (2005), pp. 29-47.
  3. ^ Cf. Holtz, "Hall, Moritz", in: Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: 3 vols., Siegbert Uhlig (ed.), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2002, 2005, 2007, Vol. 2 / D - Ha (2005), article: 'Hall, Moritz'. ISBN 3-447-05238-4. There is also a family photo, which shows Magdalena von Ustinov, née Hall with Plato von Ustinov and their children, including their son Jona(h).
  4. ^ The Aerodrome
  5. ^ Frontflieger(German)
  6. ^ Cf. "Jona von Ustinow", in: Frontflieger.
  7. ^ The Aerodrome
  8. ^ Peter Wright, Spycatcher, 1987, p. 87
  9. ^ Death registered (as Iona Ustinow) in the Cirencester Registration District in the fourth quarter of 1962.
  10. ^ Principal Probate Registry, Wills and Administrations (1963), p. 522.

External links[edit]