A lot of proverbs apply to Ursula Kuczynski. The Soviet super-spy lived disguised as a strict wife and mother from the Cotswolds in the middle of the English countryside. "Don't judge a book by its cover." And, of course, "First impressions are not always right." In Ursula's case, everyone's first impression was as wrong as possible. The locals in the Cotswolds knew her as "Mrs. Burton" who bakes extremely delicious biscuits.
This heroic woman has too many names: Ursula, Sonya, Mrs. Burton, Ruth Werner. The last name is a writing pseudonym, which she took while writing her memoirs. Ursula Kuchinski - radio operator, resident, colonel of the GRU. She lived not one life, but several! Bond in a skirt managed to work with Richard Sorge in China, get an education in the USSR, take part in the theft of the secrets of the atomic bomb and serve as the head of an illegal residency. With all this, the lady managed, as they say, without leaving the box office, that is, without leaving the air, to give birth to three children! Among other things, the woman was beautiful, charming and turned the head of more than one scout.
Ursula was born in Berlin in 1907. She was the daughter of a very famous German economist in the twenties of the 20th century. Father's name was Rene Robert Kuchinski, he was a Pole by birth. Already in the mid-thirties, Kuchinski began to work in tandem with her husband Rolf as a liaison in Richard Sorge's group in China. Sorge personally gave the woman the pseudonym "Sonya". He remained with her for the entire time of her underground work as a radio operator.
In 1939, Ursula and her husband were illegally sent to work in Switzerland. Her husband's pseudonym was "John". At that time, the couple already had a son, Mikhail. Later "Sonya" became first the first, and then - the main radio operator of the "DORA" reconnaissance group. The group was led by the Hungarian political émigré Sandor Rado. He was a commissar of the Hungarian Red Army, an internationalist fighter, who devoted himself to intelligence activities.
Agent "Sonya" was not only beautiful, brave and smart, but also extremely resourceful. Illustrative in her work was one incident that happened to her while working in Switzerland. Ursula was summoned for questioning by a security officer. He blurted out to her face: “We have information that you are using a radio transmitter. There is no point in denying it! The bellhop from the grocery store heard the sound of the Morse key and reported to us …"
Despite all the unexpectedness of such a turn, Kuchinski was not taken aback. She immediately realized what to do. “Most likely it's all about the children's toy that I bought for my son. This is a working model of the Morse telegraph apparatus. There is a key, a buzzer, a flashlight battery and a Morse code table. Before leaving for school, my son played with it enthusiastically, and the messenger from the store could hear him. " She thought to herself: "Not me, in fact - I work at night."
The officer was discouraged by this reaction. He probably expected anything, but not such an answer, with a mocking and at the same time condescending smile on the woman's face. “Firstly, you can buy this device at your nearest toy store.Secondly, we can walk with me and you will see this "criminal" subject at work. True, he's pretty shabby. " The security officer was bribed by Ursula's sincerity and politely declined her offer.
On the tragic night for the Soviet Union, from 22 to 23 June 1941, Ursula and her husband conveyed to the Center: “Director. In this historic hour, we will stand at the forefront with unchanging loyalty and redoubled energy. " They really began to work intensively, information about Hitler's plans was sent regularly. Meanwhile, the fascist hordes were rapidly advancing on their homeland further and further. Communication with the Center was unexpectedly interrupted. The radio operators did not know why Moscow was silent.
At this time, the radio center was relocated to Ufa. The connection was restored and the work began to boil again. Everything was going well, until, by an unfortunate accident, one of the radio operators met a charming young man with whom she fell head over heels in love. He turned out to be an agent of the Gestapo. This was how almost the entire DORA group was arrested, including Ursula's husband. He went on the air to the last. Was captured during a session with the Center. While the Gestapo were breaking down the door, "Jim" coolly destroyed documents and a radio station. Sandor Rado himself managed to escape. With the advance of the Red Army, the Swiss government freed the radio operators.
After the war, "Sonya" took up social activities and began to try her hand at literature. Initially, she lived with her family in the GDR. Ursula rose to the rank of colonel in the Red Army. She was awarded two Orders of the Red Banner. Kuchinski with her three children (from various Soviet spies) moved to the UK and became Mrs. Burton. She settled near the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Center and then in the idyllic village of Great Rollright, near Chipping Norton. It was in England that Comrade "Sonya" became the curator of Klaus Fuchs, the most successful Soviet thief of nuclear secrets.
Other residents of the quaint village of Great Rollright in the Cotswolds saw her as simply a beautiful married lady who loved to bake and raised three children alongside her husband Len. They often met her as she rode her bike down the road to the bakery. Despite her slight European accent, the locals thought she was just another woman struggling with the hardships of post-war life. Ursula looked like an ordinary refugee who now simply enjoyed a calm and peaceful existence in the village.
But appearances can be extremely deceiving. In fact, Mrs. Burton was not at all a quiet, sedate lady, like all her neighbors. In fact, she was a Russian spy, a colonel, ardently devoted to the cause of communism. During the war, she fought fiercely against fascism and hated what Hitler did to her homeland.
After moving to England with her second husband, whom she met in Switzerland, she worked a lot for the Soviet Union. As an experienced and knowledgeable radio technician, she was able to transmit classified information. It's safe to say that her neighbors had no idea what Ursula, whom the Russians call "Sonya", was actually doing.
Nor did they know about the many lovers she had before she settled in Great Rollright. Her whirlwind romance novels are detailed in Ben McIntyre's new book, Agent Sonya.
Ursula has fallen in love many times. She had romance and marriage, with both men and women. At least one woman for sure. The fiery revolutionary who convinced Ursula to start her espionage career. At the same time, she had a family, a husband and a son. Ursula gave the impression of a cultured, sophisticated housewife who devoted herself entirely to her child.
Beneath this calm, serene appearance, however, was a woman who lived a life full of dangers and daring antics. A life on the brink, in which she was very close to arrest and execution.If "Sonya" had been declassified back in Poland, undoubtedly, the Germans would have sent her to the gas chamber.
Later, when she spied on the British and Americans, she would have been sent to prison and may never have been released. Ultimately, Ursula returned to Berlin, where she died in 2000 at the age of 93.
Even historians who did not share her political views and did not approve of her activities in the name of Stalin and the Soviet Union highly respect Ursula for her cunning, ingenuity and courage. She may have been wrong in their opinion, but she acted with the best of intentions. Comrade "Sonya" firmly believed that communism could make the world a better and more just world.
Whether communism is good or bad, Ursula Kuczynski is a great and heroic woman. She evokes unconditional admiration for her unbending character, sharp mind and unprecedented courage.
Read our article about another heroine of your people: The recently discovered treasure of Queen Boudicca has shed light on the most romantic page in Celtic history.
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