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Edward Crankshaw (3 January 1909 – 30 November 1984), was a British writer, author, translator and commentator; best known for his work on Soviet affairs and the Gestapo (Secret State Police) of Nazi Germany.
William Edward Crankshaw was born in the suburban town of Woodford, County of Essex, England on 3 January 1909 to Arthur Edward Crankshaw (1876-1965) and Amy Beatrice Crankshaw (1879-1962). He had one sibling, a younger brother Geoffrey Crankshaw (1912-2009) a noted critic of English music. Edward Crankshaw was educated in the Nonconformist public school, Bishop's Stortford College, Hertfordshire, England. He started working as a journalist for a few months at The Times. In the 1930s he lived in Vienna, Austria, teaching English and learning German. He witnessed Adolf Hitler's Austro-German union in 1938, and predicted the Second World War while living there.[clarification needed]
In 1940 Crankshaw was contacted by the Secret Intelligence Service because of his knowledge of German.[clarification needed] During World War II Crankshaw served as a 'Y' (Signals Intelligence) officer in the British Army. From 1941 to 1943 he was assigned to the British Military Mission in Moscow, where he served initially as an Army 'Y' specialist and later as the accredited representative of the British 'Y' services, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Following a breakdown in 'Y' cooperation with the Soviet General Staff in December 1942, the British 'Y' Board recalled Crankshaw to London in February 1943. In May he was assigned to Bletchley Park, where he served as a liaison officer on matters pertaining to Russia.
From 1947 to 1968 he worked for the British Sunday newspaper The Observer, specialising in Soviet affairs. He obtained a transcript of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's secret denunciation of Stalin in 1956, a newspaper sensation. While a junior reporter, Crankshaw had been summoned by Guy Burgess of the Foreign Office to be criticised for being "too soft towards Russia"; after Burgess was unmasked as one of the Cambridge Five spies (for the Soviet Union), and fled to Moscow, Crankshaw met him there several times, though he did not report on Burgess for The Observer, and ended up liking the spy.
Crankshaw wrote around 40 books on Austrian, (Vienna; Vienna, the Image of a Culture in Decline; Fall of the House of Habsburg; Gestapo. Instrument of Tyranny; Maria Theresa; Bismarck; The Habsburgs: a dynasty...) and Russian subjects, (Britain and Russia; Putting up with the Russians; Tolstoy: The making of a novelist; Russia without Stalin; The Shadow of the Winter Palace: Russia's Drift to Revolution, 1825–1917; Khrushchev: A Career; introduction, commentary and notes to Khrushchev Remembers; The New Cold War, Moscow vs. Pekin; preface to Grigory Klimov's The Terror Machine).
References and notes
- Wolfgang Saxon. 4 December 1984. "Edward Crankshaw is Dead at 75; Author on Soviet and Hapsburgs." The New York Times: B10.
- UK National Archives. HW 50/11. 1 June 1941 – 10 February 1945. Dossier on Russian Liaison. Notes on Sigint cooperation with the Russians during World War II (Crankshaw's mission to Moscow).
- UK National Archives. HW 61/37. July 1942. Appointment and terms of reference for Lieutenant Colonel Crankshaw, representative of the Y services in Russia attached to No. 30 Mission Moscow.
- UK National Archives. HW 50/11.
- Robert McCrum (29 May 2016). "How Cambridge spy Guy Burgess charmed the Observer's man in Moscow". The Observer. Retrieved 29 May 2016.