Agent Sonya

The spy who baked scones

Ursula Kuczynski, better and more infamously known as Ruth Werner, led a truly remarkable life. Born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1907 to a well to do middle class household, during the 1920’s she pursued an education first in book dealing then as librarian. In 1924 she joined the youth wing of the German communist party before joining the party itself in 1926 at the age of nineteen.

In 1930 with her first husband and fellow communist Rudolf Hamburger the pair moved to Shanghai as it provided ample opportunities for Rudolf as an architect. It was here that within months Ursula was introduced to the now famous Soviet agent Richard Sorge who was likely the one to recruit her to the Soviet Intelligence Directorate and under his command she ran a spy ring between 1930 and 1935 with the codename “Sonja”. After some time in Switzerland where she recruited agents to be sent into Nazi Germany and also Danzig where she left a resistance group in her wake, she moved on to England with her new husband, Len Beurton, an International Brigades veteran and fellow Soviet agent.

Now moving to Oxfordshire the pair continued their work, recruiting German exiles and infiltrating the US intelligence service. However, Ben Macintyre’s new biography Agent Sonya and the promotional Daily Mail coverage of it make most hay of her association with Melita Norwood and Klaus Fuchs, with whom she bravely conveyed British atomic research to the Soviet Union, which was fundamental in hastening the first successful Soviet nuclear bomb test in 1949, and of the fact that Ursula went undetected in her local community of Great Rollright, being known chiefly as a housewife and baker of excellent scones.

We communists must celebrate her deeds, which denied the United States imperialists the monopoly of atomic annihilation and undoubtedly prevented further nuclear aggression as seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, be it in Korea where General Douglas MacArthur advocated their use or elsewhere.

As such, we commemorate Colonel Ursula and those she worked with ardently and dutifully in the great cause of proletarian internationalism as heroes.

Ursula Kuczynski, just one of many heroic fighters for socialism produced by the international communist movement of the 20th Century. Image: Collection of the Hamburger family / Courtesy of Peter Beurton / Mica Murphy/Penguin