Engelbert Broda

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Engelbert Broda (29 August 1910, in Vienna – 26 October 1983, in Hainburg an der Donau) was an Austrian chemist and physicist suspected by some to have been a KGB spy code-named Eric, who could have been a main Soviet source of information on British and American nuclear research.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Broda was born in 1910 as the first son of Viola and Ernst Broda, a Viennese lawyer. His brother Christian was later to become Minister of Justice in Austria. Broda was strongly influenced by his uncle Georg Wilhelm Pabst, a famous film director, and Egon Schönhof, who returned to Austria as a convinced communist after serving time as a prisoner-of-war in Russia. While he studied at the University of Vienna, Broda took part in the communist resistance against the National Socialists. During that period, he was imprisoned several times because of his political activities. Broda emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1938.

Scientific career[edit]

Broda had his Ph.D. in Chemistry approved in 1934 at the University of Vienna. From 1940 he worked at the Medical Research Council at the University College London, researching the transformation of light into chemical energy. From 1941 he worked at the Cavendish Laboratory, on radioactivity and nuclear fission. At this time he made intensive studies of the work of Ludwig Boltzmann.

In 1947 he returned to the University of Vienna. From 1955 until 1980 he served as Professor for Physical chemistry. His major work as a scientist - Evolution of the Bioenergetic Processes - was published in 1975.

Political initiatives[edit]

Broda became a member of the Pugwash movement, in support of nuclear disarmament. He also worked to propagate the use of solar energy, and in 1979 he was awarded the Austrian Award for the Protection of Nature, for his initiatives concerning a projected power plant in Dürnstein, Wachau.[2] He was given an honorary funeral at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna.

Alleged espionage[edit]

In 2009 Broda was accused of espionage in a book based upon the journalist Alexander Vassiliev's access to formerly undisclosed KGB archives.[4] According to the book, KGB reports from August 1943 suggest that Broda ("Eric") was the main Soviet source of information on British and American nuclear research at this early time.[1] MI5 had suspected he was Alan Nunn May's recruiter, but did not have conclusive proof.[5]


  • Kräfte des Weltalls (Forces of the universe), Globus, Vienna 1954 (an introduction for non-specialists about phenomenons of astronomy, radiation, palaeogeography, raw materials, the basic structures of chemical substances, and fundamental principles of life)
  • Ludwig Boltzmann. Mensch, Physiker, Philosoph, 1955
  • Atomkraft - Furcht und Hoffnung, 1956
  • The Evolution of the Bioenergetic Processes, 1975 [6]
  • Wissenschaft, Verantwortung, Frieden, 1985

Further reading[edit]

  • "Spies, the Rise and Fall of the KGB in America" ISBN 978-0-300-12390-6, John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliew
  • Scientist Spies by Paul Broda (2011)


  1. ^ a b Leonard Doyle (10 May 2009), "New spy book names Engelbert Broda as KGB atomic spy in Britain", Daily Telegraph
  2. ^ a b Ben Macintyre (10 June 2009), "The spy who started the Cold War", The Times
  3. ^ John Earl Haynes; Harvey Klehr; Alexander Vassiliev (2010). Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15572-3.
  4. ^ ISBN 978-0-300-12390-6 Copyright 2009 John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliew
  5. ^ MI5 Website - Engelbert Broda
  6. ^ Katalogzettel Universitätsbibliothek Wien

External links[edit]