Rachel Dübendorfer

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Rachel Dübendorfer
Rachel Hepner

(1900-07-18)18 July 1900
Died3 March 1973(1973-03-03) (aged 72)
Spouse(s)Kurt Caspary
Henri Dübendorfer
Paul Böttcher [de]
Parent(s)Adolf Hepner (father)
Spying career
ServiceRed Three

Rachel Dübendorfer (née Hepner,[1] 18 July 1900 - 3 March 1973)[2] was an anti-Nazi resistance fighter. During the Second World War, her codename was Sissy, and she was leader of a section of the Red Three Swiss resistance movement.

Personal life[edit]

Dübendorfer was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1900.[2] She was the daughter of Adolf Hepner,[2] and was Jewish.[3][4] She moved to Germany in the 1920s, and moved to Nürensdorf, Switzerland in 1933.[2] She was married twice: first to German lawyer Kurt Caspary in c.1921, then to Swissman Henri Dübendorfer, which allowed her to gain Swiss citizenship in 1934. She divorced in 1946 and became the partner of Paul Böttcher [de].[5] She died in 1973 in East Berlin, East Germany.[2]


In 1918, Dübendorfer joined the Communist Party of Germany.[1] In 1927, Dübendorfer joined the Soviet Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU),[1][2] where she worked alongside Paul Böttcher.[2] At the start of the Second World War, she worked as a secretary at the League of Nations International Labour Organization, and also led a group of Swiss Communist informants in Geneva, Switzerland.[4] Dübendorfer began receiving sensitive information from sources in the organisation.[6] She received intelligence reports from German refugee Rudolf Roessler[7][8] (nicknamed Lucy)[6][5] in return for not revealing his identity.[8] Their operation was known as the Lucy spy ring.[5] In 1942, Dübendorfer received German military information about the planned Case Blue invasion of the Soviet Union (USSR).[6]

In 1941, Dübendorfer met Alexander Radó for the first time.[4] In 1942, she became a leader of a section of Rado's Red Three resistance movement.[7] Other leaders in the movement included George Blun [de] and Otto Pünter [de].[5][9] Initially, Dübendorfer did not mention to Radó the name of Roessler, her most important informant.[3] In November 1943, Dübendorfer became the lone Red Three leader after other leaders, including Radó, were arrested and imprisoned.[10] As leader, Dübendorfer tried unsuccessfully to contact Moscow through Hermina Rabinovitch, a friend who lived in Montreal, Canada.[11] Dübendorfer refused to co-operate with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, and did not want to send information back to Moscow.[5] She provided information to MI6 officers in Switzerland, under the proviso that this information was not shared with Moscow.[3] In April 1944, Dübendorfer and Böttcher were captured.[10] She was imprisoned in the USSR and later East Germany from 1946 until 1956.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Ergebnis der Suche nach: nid=1065691734" (in German). German National Library. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Dübendorfer, Rachel" (in German). Historical Dictionary of Switzerland. 10 June 2002. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Day, Peter (2014). Klop: Britain's Most Ingenious Secret Agent. Biteback Publishing. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Haufler, Hervie (2014). Codebreakers' Victory: How the Allied Cryptographers Won World War II. Open Road Integrated Media. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kilzer, Louis (2000). Hitler's Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich. Presidio Press. Retrieved 15 January 2019 – via WorldCat.
  6. ^ a b c Ginsberg, Benjamin (2013). How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 84–85. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b Richelson, Jeffery T. (1997). A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ a b Crowdy, Terry (2011). The Enemy Within: A History of Spies, Spymasters and Espionage. Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  9. ^ Richelson, Jeffrey T. (1997). A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 127. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  10. ^ a b "„Werther hat nie gelebt"". Der Spiegel (in German). 10 July 1972. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  11. ^ West, Nigel (2007). Mask: MI5's Penetration of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Routledge. Retrieved 15 January 2019.