Born in Vienna, Kohlmann married at the age of 18 but divorced a year later. She joined the Communist Party and was imprisoned by Austria in 1932 for a few weeks. She was then the mistress of Gábor Péter. Philby arrived in Vienna in 1933. In February 1934, the Dolfuss government began a further crackdown on known leftists. Philby and Kohlman believed that she would be a target, so they married in Vienna on 24 February. In her book The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years, Philby's last wife, Rufina, quotes another author, who she calls Brown (this is probably Anthony Cave Brown), as saying that Teddy Kollek was at the wedding. In any event, more than twenty years later, Kollek recognized Philby at CIA headquarters.
After the Socialist movement collapsed in April 1934, they left Vienna for London, and arrived in May. Friedmann had a friend in London who was working for Soviet intelligence, the Vienna-born photographer Edith Tudor-Hart. One biographer of Philby, Genrikh Borovik, who had access to the Soviet archives, says that Tudor-Hart recommended Friedmann and Philby as suitable candidates for NKVD recruitment.
Friedmann and Philby split up in the 1930s – some sources claim that Philby had to distance himself from known communists to penetrate the British establishment. However, they remained in contact for years afterwards and divorced only in 1946. After the war, Friedmann and the German-Jewish refugee Georg Honigmann went to live in East Berlin in 1947, where Honigmann became editor of the Berliner Zeitung. Friedmann and Honigmann had a daughter, Barbara Honigmann, in 1949 and split up shortly after.
Barbara Honigmann has written a biography of her mother.
- "Spies and lovers". The Guardian. 2003-05-10.
- Boris Volodarsky: Stalin's Agent: The Life and Death of Alexander Orlov. Oxford University Press, London, 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-965658-5.
- Rufina Philby (2003). The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years. ISBN 0-9536151-6-2.
- Genrikh Borovik (1994). The Philby Files – The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby. ISBN 0-316-10284-9.
- Barbara Honigmann (2004). Ein Kapitel aus meinem Leben (A Chapter from my Life). ISBN 3-446-20531-4.