Labour History Review

Proletarian cadres en route: Austrian NKVD agents in Britain 1941-43

Labour History Review (1997), 62, (3), 296–317.

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A balanced account of these complex dependencies is provided by Kevin McDermott and Jeremy Agnew, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin, Houndmills, 1996. Google Scholar

See Mikail Narinsky and Juergen Rohan (eds.), Centre and Periphery: The History of the Comintern in the Light of New Documents, Amsterdam, 1996. A volume of contributions on the national sections of the Communist International is being prepared by the same editors. Centre and Periphery: The History of the Comintern in the Light of New Documents Google Scholar

See, for example, Henry Srebnik, London Jews and British Communism, 1995; Nina Fishman, The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions 1933-45, Aldershot, 1995; Kevin Morgan, Against Fascism and War: Ruptures and Continuities in British Communist Politics 1935-41, Manchester, 1989. These volumes are reviewed in Science and Society, vol. 61, no. 1, 1997. This number, edited by Kevin Morgan, also contains essays on various aspects of Communism in Britain and the British Empire. Google Scholar

For the espionage cases of Dave Springhall and Percy Glading see Francis Beckett, Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party, 1995. Both had studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow in the late 1920s. For treatment of the Dave Springhall case in the official history of the British Communist Party, see Noreen Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1941-51, 1997, pp. 72-4. There is no reference to Glading's role as an agent in the official history volumes, though it is not ignored by Willie Thompson, who comments in general and particular on the spy question, including some views expressed about Klugmann: see The Good Old Cause: British Communism 1920-91, 1992, pp. 51-2. There has been considerable, but so far apparently inconclusive comment on Klugmann, in Labour History Review, vol. 57, no. 2, 1992, pp. 3-4; vol. 58, no. 1, 1993, p. 5; vol. 58, no. 2, 1993, pp. 3-8. Google Scholar

A balanced account of these complex dependencies is provided by Kevin McDermott and Jeremy Agnew, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin, Houndmills, 1996. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

See Mikail Narinsky and Juergen Rohan (eds.), Centre and Periphery: The History of the Comintern in the Light of New Documents, Amsterdam, 1996. A volume of contributions on the national sections of the Communist International is being prepared by the same editors. Centre and Periphery: The History of the Comintern in the Light of New Documents Google Scholar

See the standard works on Soviet espionage abroad: Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev, 1990; John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions, New York, 1993; W. G. Krivitzky, I was Stalin's Agent (edited by Mark Almond), Cambridge, 1992. Google Scholar

See, for example, Henry Srebnik, London Jews and British Communism, 1995; Nina Fishman, The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions 1933-45, Aldershot, 1995; Kevin Morgan, Against Fascism and War: Ruptures and Continuities in British Communist Politics 1935-41, Manchester, 1989. These volumes are reviewed in Science and Society, vol. 61, no. 1, 1997. This number, edited by Kevin Morgan, also contains essays on various aspects of Communism in Britain and the British Empire. Google Scholar

See her memoirs, Blaues Blut und Rote Fahnen: Ein Leben unter vielen Namen, Wien-München-Zürich, 1969. Google Scholar

For the espionage cases of Dave Springhall and Percy Glading see Francis Beckett, Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party, 1995. Both had studied at the International Lenin School in Moscow in the late 1920s. For treatment of the Dave Springhall case in the official history of the British Communist Party, see Noreen Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1941-51, 1997, pp. 72-4. There is no reference to Glading's role as an agent in the official history volumes, though it is not ignored by Willie Thompson, who comments in general and particular on the spy question, including some views expressed about Klugmann: see The Good Old Cause: British Communism 1920-91, 1992, pp. 51-2. There has been considerable, but so far apparently inconclusive comment on Klugmann, in Labour History Review, vol. 57, no. 2, 1992, pp. 3-4; vol. 58, no. 1, 1993, p. 5; vol. 58, no. 2, 1993, pp. 3-8. Google Scholar

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The tragic end of Nebenführ and his family is chronicled by Hans Schafranek, ‘"Angehörigen von Volksfeinden können wir nicht helfen". Das Schicksal der Familie Nebenführ’, in H. Schafranek (ed.), Die Betrogenen: Österreicher als Opfer stalinistischen Terrors der Sowjetunion, Wien, 1991, pp. 75-100. Die Betrogenen: Österreicher als Opfer stalinistischen Terrors der Sowjetunion 75 100 Google Scholar

See the standard works on Soviet espionage abroad: Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev, 1990; John Costello and Oleg Tsarev, Deadly Illusions, New York, 1993; W. G. Krivitzky, I was Stalin's Agent (edited by Mark Almond), Cambridge, 1992. Google Scholar

Radomir V. Luza, The Resistance in Austria, 1938-1945, Minneapolis, 1984, p. 102. The Resistance in Austria, 1938-1945 102 Google Scholar

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See her memoirs, Blaues Blut und Rote Fahnen: Ein Leben unter vielen Namen, Wien-München-Zürich, 1969. Google Scholar

Marie Tidl, Gregor Kersche (1892-19.): Ein Leben - nach Dokumenten und Erzählungen, Wien/Millstatt, 1991, p. 60. Gregor Kersche (1892-19.): Ein Leben - nach Dokumenten und Erzählungen 60 Google Scholar

The tragic end of Nebenführ and his family is chronicled by Hans Schafranek, ‘"Angehörigen von Volksfeinden können wir nicht helfen". Das Schicksal der Familie Nebenführ’, in H. Schafranek (ed.), Die Betrogenen: Österreicher als Opfer stalinistischen Terrors der Sowjetunion, Wien, 1991, pp. 75-100. Die Betrogenen: Österreicher als Opfer stalinistischen Terrors der Sowjetunion 75 100 Google Scholar

Radomir V. Luza, The Resistance in Austria, 1938-1945, Minneapolis, 1984, p. 102. The Resistance in Austria, 1938-1945 102 Google Scholar

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Marie Tidl, Gregor Kersche (1892-19.): Ein Leben - nach Dokumenten und Erzählungen, Wien/Millstatt, 1991, p. 60. Gregor Kersche (1892-19.): Ein Leben - nach Dokumenten und Erzählungen 60 Google Scholar

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See the short references in Nigel West, Secret War: The Story of SOE, Britain's Wartime Sabotage Organisation, 1992, pp. 91-92; M. R.D Foot, SOE: An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive 1940-46, 1984, pp. 209-10; F. H. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War, vol. 2, 1981, p. 66; Gordievsky and Andrew, KGB, pp. 410-12; Peter Wilkinson and Joan Bright Astley, Gubbins and SOE, 1993, pp. 94-95. Google Scholar

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See the correspondence in PRO HS4/329, 331 and 347; Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, pp. 99-102. Google Scholar

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See the short references in Nigel West, Secret War: The Story of SOE, Britain's Wartime Sabotage Organisation, 1992, pp. 91-92; M. R.D Foot, SOE: An Outline History of the Special Operations Executive 1940-46, 1984, pp. 209-10; F. H. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War, vol. 2, 1981, p. 66; Gordievsky and Andrew, KGB, pp. 410-12; Peter Wilkinson and Joan Bright Astley, Gubbins and SOE, 1993, pp. 94-95. Google Scholar

Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, pp. 98-99, 123-27. Google Scholar

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According to Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, p. 89, Major General Sir Colin Gubbins, Chief (CD) of SOE, 1943-46, preferred ‘straight’ guerrilla warfare to the ‘subversion and terrorism flavoured by some of the most fanatical members of SOE’. He may have been influenced by army service in Ireland, 1919-22, where he witnessed IRA use of both methods: ibid., pp. 26f. Google Scholar

See the correspondence in PRO HS4/329, 331 and 347; Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, pp. 99-102. Google Scholar

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Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, pp. 98-99, 123-27. Google Scholar

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According to Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, p. 89, Major General Sir Colin Gubbins, Chief (CD) of SOE, 1943-46, preferred ‘straight’ guerrilla warfare to the ‘subversion and terrorism flavoured by some of the most fanatical members of SOE’. He may have been influenced by army service in Ireland, 1919-22, where he witnessed IRA use of both methods: ibid., pp. 26f. Google Scholar

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See Pavel and Anatoli Sudoplatov (with Jerrold L. and Leona P. Schechter), The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness - A Soviet Spymaster, 1994, pp. 21, 32, 126-27. Google Scholar

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According to Gordievsky and Andrew, KGB, p. 411, Chichayev (Vadim) also handled the Cambridge spy ring. After 1943, Konstantin Kukin (John), a higher ranking NKVD officer on the diplomatic staff in London, became ‘resident’ and enabled Chichayev to concentrate on liaison with SOE and governments-in-exile in Britain. See also, Genrikh Borovik, The Philby Files: The Secret Life of a Master Spy - KGB Archives Revealed (edited and with an introduction by Philip Knightley), 1995. Google Scholar

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As the files of British Army officers are available to scholars only up to 1913, relatively little is known about the background of SOE staff. In internal SOE correspondence, symbols were used. The acronyms of some staff members have been deciphered by West, Secret War, pp. 327-46, while others are to be found in a PRO press-release of 9 June 1995 concerning the transfer of files (note 12 above). An army officer's career can sometimes be reconstructed by using the Army Lists in the PRO. Google Scholar

See Pavel and Anatoli Sudoplatov (with Jerrold L. and Leona P. Schechter), The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness - A Soviet Spymaster, 1994, pp. 21, 32, 126-27. Google Scholar

The fates of some Pickaxe agents are described, albeit with grave inaccuracies, in Gunther Nollau and Ludwig Zindel, Gestapo ruft Moskau: Sowjetische Fallschirmagenten im 2. Weltkrieg, München, 1979. Gestapo ruft Moskau: Sowjetische Fallschirmagenten im 2. Weltkrieg Google Scholar

Lebensstationen can be translated as life phases, though station also refers in other contexts to a stopping place and a stage on a journey. Google Scholar

According to Gordievsky and Andrew, KGB, p. 411, Chichayev (Vadim) also handled the Cambridge spy ring. After 1943, Konstantin Kukin (John), a higher ranking NKVD officer on the diplomatic staff in London, became ‘resident’ and enabled Chichayev to concentrate on liaison with SOE and governments-in-exile in Britain. See also, Genrikh Borovik, The Philby Files: The Secret Life of a Master Spy - KGB Archives Revealed (edited and with an introduction by Philip Knightley), 1995. Google Scholar

See the analysis of this key event in modern history in Winfried Garscha and Barry McLoughlin, Wien 1927: Menetekel für die Republik, Wien-Berlin, 1987. Wien 1927: Menetekel für die Republik Google Scholar

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The causes, course and consequences of the Austrian Civil War are well documented in Erich Fröschl and Helge Zoitl (eds.), Februar 1934: Ursachen, Fakten, Folgen, Wien, 1984. Februar 1934: Ursachen, Fakten, Folgen Google Scholar

As the files of British Army officers are available to scholars only up to 1913, relatively little is known about the background of SOE staff. In internal SOE correspondence, symbols were used. The acronyms of some staff members have been deciphered by West, Secret War, pp. 327-46, while others are to be found in a PRO press-release of 9 June 1995 concerning the transfer of files (note 12 above). An army officer's career can sometimes be reconstructed by using the Army Lists in the PRO. Google Scholar

Rossilskii Tsentr Khraneneiya i Isytcheniya Dokumentov Noveishei Istorii (Russian Centre for the Conservation and Study of Documents of Modern History, Moscow - hereafter RTsK), 495/197/3059, pp. 32-35, Cadre File (CF) Wilhelm Wagner, Autobiography, n.d. [1934]. The numbers cited refer in sequence to fund, registry volume, document, and page(s), in accordance with standard Russian archival practice. A somewhat exaggerated version of the fighting in Florisdorf was written by Heinz Roscher, the area Schutzbund commander: see RTsK 495/187/658, not paginated, Report, 12 May 1934. In a published version of the account, marred by communist polemics, Roscher also mentioned Wagner's contribution: see Heinz Roscher, Die Februarkämpfe in Florisdorf, Basel, 1934. Google Scholar

The fates of some Pickaxe agents are described, albeit with grave inaccuracies, in Gunther Nollau and Ludwig Zindel, Gestapo ruft Moskau: Sowjetische Fallschirmagenten im 2. Weltkrieg, München, 1979. Gestapo ruft Moskau: Sowjetische Fallschirmagenten im 2. Weltkrieg Google Scholar

A detailed account of the lives and fates of Austrian economic and political émigres to the Soviet Union is to be found in Barry McLoughlin, Hans Schafranek and Walter Szevera, Aufiruch-Hoffnung-Endstation: Oesterreicherinnen und Oesterreichicher in der Sowjetunion, 1925-45, Vienna, 1997. Aufiruch-Hoffnung-Endstation: Oesterreicherinnen und Oesterreichicher in der Sowjetunion, 1925-45 Google Scholar

Lebensstationen can be translated as life phases, though station also refers in other contexts to a stopping place and a stage on a journey. Google Scholar

The exile of the Austrian Left in Czechoslovakia is exhaustively treated in Manfred Marchalek (ed.), Untergrund und Exil: Österreichs Sozialisten zwischen 1934 und 1945, Wien, 1990. Untergrund und Exil: Österreichs Sozialisten zwischen 1934 und 1945 Google Scholar

See the analysis of this key event in modern history in Winfried Garscha and Barry McLoughlin, Wien 1927: Menetekel für die Republik, Wien-Berlin, 1987. Wien 1927: Menetekel für die Republik Google Scholar

The causes, course and consequences of the Austrian Civil War are well documented in Erich Fröschl and Helge Zoitl (eds.), Februar 1934: Ursachen, Fakten, Folgen, Wien, 1984. Februar 1934: Ursachen, Fakten, Folgen Google Scholar

See the case studies in the article by Barry McLoughlin and Hans Schafranek, ‘Die Kaderpolitik der KPÖ-Führung in Moskau 1934 bis 1940’, in Hermann Weber and Dietrich Staritz (eds.), Kommunisten verfolgen Kommunisten: Stalinistischer Terror und ‘Säuberungen’ in den kommunistischen Parteien Europas seit den dreissigen Jahren, Berlin, 1993, pp. 125-47. Kommunisten verfolgen Kommunisten: Stalinistischer Terror und ‘Säuberungen’ in den kommunistischen Parteien Europas seit den dreissigen Jahren 125 47 Google Scholar

Rossilskii Tsentr Khraneneiya i Isytcheniya Dokumentov Noveishei Istorii (Russian Centre for the Conservation and Study of Documents of Modern History, Moscow - hereafter RTsK), 495/197/3059, pp. 32-35, Cadre File (CF) Wilhelm Wagner, Autobiography, n.d. [1934]. The numbers cited refer in sequence to fund, registry volume, document, and page(s), in accordance with standard Russian archival practice. A somewhat exaggerated version of the fighting in Florisdorf was written by Heinz Roscher, the area Schutzbund commander: see RTsK 495/187/658, not paginated, Report, 12 May 1934. In a published version of the account, marred by communist polemics, Roscher also mentioned Wagner's contribution: see Heinz Roscher, Die Februarkämpfe in Florisdorf, Basel, 1934. Google Scholar

Yet over sixty Schutzbündler resident in the Soviet Union were rejected by Stalin's secret police for service in Spain. See the list in RTsK 495, 80/558, pp. 100-01, 23 March 1937. Google Scholar

A detailed account of the lives and fates of Austrian economic and political émigres to the Soviet Union is to be found in Barry McLoughlin, Hans Schafranek and Walter Szevera, Aufiruch-Hoffnung-Endstation: Oesterreicherinnen und Oesterreichicher in der Sowjetunion, 1925-45, Vienna, 1997. Aufiruch-Hoffnung-Endstation: Oesterreicherinnen und Oesterreichicher in der Sowjetunion, 1925-45 Google Scholar

See Hans Landauer, ‘Wien-Moskau-Madrid: Die Odysee österreichischen Schutzbündler 1934-45’, in Jahrbuch 1990 des Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes, Wien, 1990, pp. 76-88. Jahrbuch 1990 des Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes 76 88 Google Scholar

The exile of the Austrian Left in Czechoslovakia is exhaustively treated in Manfred Marchalek (ed.), Untergrund und Exil: Österreichs Sozialisten zwischen 1934 und 1945, Wien, 1990. Untergrund und Exil: Österreichs Sozialisten zwischen 1934 und 1945 Google Scholar

Barak, Stancl and Mayr are repeatedly mentioned in the standard works on Austrian units of the International Brigades. See, Vereinigung österreichischer Frewilliger in der spanischen Republik 1936 bis 1939 (eds.), Österreicher im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg: Interbrigadisten be ichten über ihre Erlebnisse 1936 bis 1945, Wien, 1986; and DÖW (eds.), Für Spaniens Freiheit Österreicher an der Seite der Spanischen Republik 1936-39. Eine Dokumentation, Wien-Munich, 1986. Google Scholar

See the case studies in the article by Barry McLoughlin and Hans Schafranek, ‘Die Kaderpolitik der KPÖ-Führung in Moskau 1934 bis 1940’, in Hermann Weber and Dietrich Staritz (eds.), Kommunisten verfolgen Kommunisten: Stalinistischer Terror und ‘Säuberungen’ in den kommunistischen Parteien Europas seit den dreissigen Jahren, Berlin, 1993, pp. 125-47. Kommunisten verfolgen Kommunisten: Stalinistischer Terror und ‘Säuberungen’ in den kommunistischen Parteien Europas seit den dreissigen Jahren 125 47 Google Scholar

Yet over sixty Schutzbündler resident in the Soviet Union were rejected by Stalin's secret police for service in Spain. See the list in RTsK 495, 80/558, pp. 100-01, 23 March 1937. Google Scholar

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See Hans Landauer, ‘Wien-Moskau-Madrid: Die Odysee österreichischen Schutzbündler 1934-45’, in Jahrbuch 1990 des Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes, Wien, 1990, pp. 76-88. Jahrbuch 1990 des Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes 76 88 Google Scholar

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Barak, Stancl and Mayr are repeatedly mentioned in the standard works on Austrian units of the International Brigades. See, Vereinigung österreichischer Frewilliger in der spanischen Republik 1936 bis 1939 (eds.), Österreicher im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg: Interbrigadisten be ichten über ihre Erlebnisse 1936 bis 1945, Wien, 1986; and DÖW (eds.), Für Spaniens Freiheit Österreicher an der Seite der Spanischen Republik 1936-39. Eine Dokumentation, Wien-Munich, 1986. Google Scholar

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Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, p. 115. Google Scholar

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Wilkinson and Bright Astley, Gubbins, p. 115. Google Scholar

According to Mayr, the survivors were picked up by the liner Queen Mary and brought to Scotland via Iceland. Interview with Albin Mayr, 20 June 1990. Google Scholar

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According to Mayr, the survivors were picked up by the liner Queen Mary and brought to Scotland via Iceland. Interview with Albin Mayr, 20 June 1990. Google Scholar

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Kim Philby, My Secret War, 1968 edn., p. 42. Google Scholar

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PRO HS4/344, Note on Koltsov (Juri Kruus), n.d. Google Scholar

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See the examples of the Eifler/Fellendorf/Panndorf/Boerner and Trapp/Gersmann/Freund teams of Russian agents sent to East Prussia in 1942 recounted in Nollau and Zindel, Gestapo ruft Moskau, pp. 9-62. Google Scholar

Kim Philby, My Secret War, 1968 edn., p. 42. Google Scholar

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PRO HS4/344, Note on Koltsov (Juri Kruus), n.d. Google Scholar

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See the examples of the Eifler/Fellendorf/Panndorf/Boerner and Trapp/Gersmann/Freund teams of Russian agents sent to East Prussia in 1942 recounted in Nollau and Zindel, Gestapo ruft Moskau, pp. 9-62. Google Scholar

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Michael Heim and Gregor Ruf, ‘"Anthropoid" - oder der Tod der Agenten in den Blaubergen’, in Tegernseer Tal, nr. 102, 1989, pp. 18-23. ‘"Anthropoid" - oder der Tod der Agenten in den Blaubergen’ Tegernseer Tal 18 23 Google Scholar

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Nollau and Zindle, Gestapo ruft Moskau, pp. 77f; Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisation der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO), Berlin, NL 36/529, pp. 51-53, Handschriftliche Notizen von Wilhelm Pieck, September 1943. Google Scholar

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Michael Heim and Gregor Ruf, ‘"Anthropoid" - oder der Tod der Agenten in den Blaubergen’, in Tegernseer Tal, nr. 102, 1989, pp. 18-23. ‘"Anthropoid" - oder der Tod der Agenten in den Blaubergen’ Tegernseer Tal 18 23 Google Scholar

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Nollau and Zindle, Gestapo ruft Moskau, pp. 77f; Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisation der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO), Berlin, NL 36/529, pp. 51-53, Handschriftliche Notizen von Wilhelm Pieck, September 1943. Google Scholar

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Such was the fate of Lindwurm team, sent by the Comintern and dropped from a Russian bomber over Poland in 1943. The entire group was captured by the Vienna Gestapo in 1944 and re-arrested by SMERSH after the liberation of the city. See Leopold Spira and Hilde Mraz (eds.), Österreichische Stalin-Opfer, Wien, 1990, pp. 79-83. Österreichische Stalin-Opfer 79 83 Google Scholar

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Such was the fate of Lindwurm team, sent by the Comintern and dropped from a Russian bomber over Poland in 1943. The entire group was captured by the Vienna Gestapo in 1944 and re-arrested by SMERSH after the liberation of the city. See Leopold Spira and Hilde Mraz (eds.), Österreichische Stalin-Opfer, Wien, 1990, pp. 79-83. Österreichische Stalin-Opfer 79 83 Google Scholar

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McLoughlin, Barry