Edith Tudor-Hart

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Edith Tudor-Hart
Edith Tudor Hart.jpg
Edith Suschitzky

(1908-08-28)28 August 1908
Vienna, Austria
Died12 May 1973(1973-05-12) (aged 64)[1]
Brighton, England
NationalityBritish / Austrian
Alma materBauhaus, Dessau
OccupationPhotographer, spy
Espionage activity
AllegianceSoviet Union Soviet Union
Service years1925-195?

Edith Tudor-Hart (née Edith Suschitzky; 1908–1973) was an Austrian-British photographer, communist-sympathiser and spy for the Soviet Union. 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 the security services discovered all their identities by the mid-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.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Her father, Wilhelm Suschitzky (1877–1934), was a social democrat who was born into the Jewish community in Vienna, but had renounced Judaism 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."[5] Suschitzky recalled boyhood memories of the family excitement that greeted the Russian Revolution in 1917.[6]

She studied photography at the Bauhaus in Dessau[when?] , 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.[7]

An anti-fascist activist and Communist, she saw photography as a tool for disseminating her political ideas.[8] In 1933 she married medical doctor Alex Tudor-Hart, who she had met in 1925. She was described "by those who knew her in her youth as immensely vivacious, amusing, curious, and gifted".[9] 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.[10]


While her husband practised as a GP in the area of Rhondda Valley in South Wales,[11] 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.

Spying activities[edit]

Tudor-Hart was instrumental in recruiting members of the Cambridge Spy ring, which damaged British intelligence from World War II through to its discovery in the late 1960s. While working as a photographer she also acted as a courier.[12] 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.[citation needed]

When she moved to London, Tudor-Hart's 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.[13] "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." [14]

Tudor-Hart was placed under surveillance by Special Branch after October 1931 when she was observed attending a demonstration in Trafalgar Square.[12] Tudor-Hart was of interest because of her friendship with Litzi Friedmann, who was Philby's first wife and almost certainly spotted him as a potential Communist agent during his stay in Vienna,[12] 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).[15] 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.[16][17][18] She also helped to recruit Arthur Wynn in 1936.[19]

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.[12]

Later life[edit]

She separated from her husband and suffered a breakdown. After the Second World War, she opened an antique shop in Brighton. She died of stomach cancer in Brighton on 12 May 1973.[20]


  • Forbes, Duncan (2005). "Politics, photography and exile in the life of Edith Tudor-Hart (1908–1973)". In Behr, Shulamith; Malet, Marian (eds.). Arts in Exile in Britain, 1933–1945: politics and cultural identity. Amsterdam: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-1786-3.
  • Forbes, Duncan, ed. (2013). Edith Tudor-Hart: in the shadow of tyranny. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. ISBN 978-3-7757-3567-4. Catalogue for an exhibition in Edinburgh, Vienna, and Berlin
  • Jungk, Peter Stephan (2015). Die Dunkelkammern der Edith Tudor-Hart: Geschichten eines Lebens. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag. ISBN 9783100023988.
  • Tudor-Hart, Edith; Suschitzky, Wolf (text) (1987). The Eye of Conscience. The Photo Pocket Book. 1. London: Nishen. ISBN 1-85378-401-X.

Documentary film[edit]


  1. ^ Lloyd, Raymond. "50–100 Year anniversaries of distinguished Women of History: 2023". Shequality.org. Shequality. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  2. ^ Von Bushy, Scratchy (3 August 2004). "Shortcuts:Secret history I, spy". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  3. ^ Walter, Natasha (10 May 2003). "Spies and Lovers". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  4. ^ The Guardian", 21 August 2015, How MI5 failed to expose matriarch of Cambridge spy ring by Ian Cobain
  5. ^ "Wolfgang Suschitzky 3 – The situation in Austria and my father's suicide". Web of Stories. Web of Stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  6. ^ Interview with Suschitzky
  7. ^ "Wolfgang Suschitzky 2 – Studying photography and moving to London". Web of Stories. Web of Stories. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Edith Tudor Hart". Liverpool International Photography Festival. look 2011. Archived from the original on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Alex Tudor-Hart". Spartacus educational. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  10. ^ Oxford University Press (2004). Edith Tudor Hart.
  11. ^ Eric Hobsbawm, Everybody behaved perfectly, London Review of Books, 33(16), August 2011
  12. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  13. ^ >Biography of Edith Tudor Hart
  14. ^ John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions (1993), p. 134
  15. ^ Volodarsky, Boris (August 2010). "Living a lie: almost everything written about and by Kim Philby is wrong". History Today.
  16. ^ Genrikh Borovik (1994). The Philby Files – The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby. ISBN 0-316-10284-9.
  17. ^ William E. Duff (1999). A Time for Spies: Theodore Stephanovich Mally and the Era of the Great Illegals. ISBN 0-8265-1352-2.
  18. ^ Nigel West (2005). Mask: Mi5's Penetration Of The Communist Party Of Great Britain. ISBN 0-415-35145-6.
  19. ^ MacIntyre, Ben; Bird, Steve (12 May 2009). "Civil servant Arthur Wynn revealed as recruiter of Oxford spies". London: The Times. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
  20. ^ "Edith Tudor Hart". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  21. ^ "Tracking Edith: a courageous woman with a mission / Auf Ediths spuren: Eine mutige Frau mit einer Mission". Retrieved 6 September 2018.