Roland Perry, The Fifth Man, Pan Books London 1994.

Selections by Peter Myers, September 12, 2001; update March 30, 2023.

My comments within the text are shown {thus}.

This book alleges that the "Fifth Man" in the Cambridge spy-ring was Lord Victor Rothschild.

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ADDED March 30, 2023: details about the apartment in Bentinck St that Victor Rothschild shared with Burgess & Blunt (p. xxv & 93). These two are kept together, to preserve continuity.

{p. xi} Some of the key information. in this book came from interviewees - scientists, politicians, diplomats, businessmen and intelligence agents - who did not wish to be acknowledged, for understandable reasons. ...

I am grateful particularly to my contacts in British Intelligence ... they were responsible for leading me to a key revelation in 1978, which finally fitted the Fifth Man jigsaw in the 1990s.

Thanks also to my CIA contacts ...

Acknowledgement must also go to the seven main KGB respondents ...

Documentary film-maker, Jack Grossman, who fought with both the

{p. xii} RAF in the Second World war, and the Haganah after it, was of assistance with background and Israeli Intelligence. ... Appreciation for explanations of some of the more esoteric bomb and radar technology goes to Sir Mark Oliphant ...

{p. xx} The Fifth provided Stalin almost on a daily basis with what Churchill and Roosevelt were saying about the USSR. The spy also had particular links to the US military and intelligence during and after the war.

His work and that of the others in the ring went on for longer than originally believed by investigators. They were all involved in spying for the Russians before, during and after the war. Their espionage was wide-ranging and included the 1943 Anglo-American discussions on the opening of a second front in the west; information on major war projects such as the atomic bomb and biological weapons; data on Eastern European nations in exile in London (who were anti-Stalin); background to discussions on the post-war Marshall Plan to redevelop Western Europe. Furthermore, while calling the Five a 'ring' implies they worked

{p. xxi} together, they mainly operated independently of each other. However, at times two or more would combine. Often their linking revolved around Blunt, who was the middleman most closely in contact with Soviet Controls in London from 1942 to 1963, the year Philby defected and Blunt was exposed to MI5 investigators.

Another important clue, on which those who knew the Fifth Man's identity all agreed, was that after his main spying days for the KGB finished in the UK in 1963, he went on to have a 'successful career' in both business and public life.

This again cut down the list.

Apart from fitting the many facts and dues to the Fifth Man jigsaw, intangibles such as motivation were vital. This had to go beyond the altruistic obligations of those who felt it their duty to defend Western civilization against Hitler's barbarity. The spy in question had to be inspired on a higher level than his belief, shared with the others in the Ring of Five, that Soviet Marxist ideology was superior and would eventually dominate Western capitalist democracies.

The Fifth Man's original motive was survival, for himself, family, race, and country. He was compelled to supply the Soviet Union with information that would smash Hitler, for over the duration of the war its people were prepared to sacrifice and suffer more than any other to defeat him. But after the war, the Fifth Man's ideological commitment caused him to go on spying for the KGB. In so doing, he became caught in a web of betrayal and tragedy, which lasted half a century.

The Fifth Man was Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild (1910 to 1990), better known as the third Lord Rothschild. He was the British head of the famous banking dynasty, which apart from prolific achievements in art, science, wine and charity, had shaped recent history by such acts as the financing of the British army at the Battle of Waterloo and the purchasing of the Suez Canal for Great Britain and Prime Minister Disraeli.

Victor Rothschild's purpose was to go a step further and change the course of history ...

{p. xxv} In 1940, Blunt and Burgess were living in Rothschild's leased three-storey maisonette as was his assistant at MI5, Tess Mayor, whom he later married, and Patricia Parry (later Baroness Llewellyn-Davies. the Wilson-appointed Labour peeress), both left-wing Cambridge graduates. ... Bentinck Street became a facility for the analysis and of espionage material including microfilm and documents.

{p. 93} When the lease ran out, the four permanent occupants and Victor all pooled their resources to take it over. The meticulous Blunt handled the details of managing the household accounts and the five shared a common kitchen and sitting room, which was used for much entertaining.. Blunt had a boyfriend installed, whereas, true to long-term form, Burgess had homosexual parties with friends and boys. ...

Yet that life and the partying went on and attracted many visitors who were often too drunk to leave. Maclean, Philby and Guy Liddell were frequent guests. ... After these drunken forays, Tess often found herself assisting an inebriated Blunt or Burgess from the front door of the maisonette to bed.

{p. xxxiv} ... Rothschild had been on the inside through the war until 1945, and since then on the outside as an intelligence man who had a unique relationship with his wartime employer.

He had left them officially, yet unofficially still ran agents after the war in Israel, Iran, China and other nations from 1945 to at least 1969. He was the classic outsider-insider. His special place in the Establishment as a power-broker, with unsurpassed connections in every major institution in Britain, allowed him to bypass the usual restrictions on lesser-born citizens. He couldn't actually pull the files in M15 or M16, but he could always find someone who would do it for him, if he needed access. Rothschild was a regular visitor to British Intelligence offices. He lunched and dined constantly with its directors at his favourite pubs, Pratt's and White's, and always made it a pleasure when he picked up the tab for expense account-conscious spy chiefs.

Rothschild had been on intimate terms with most of them: Guy Liddell, Roger Hollis, Dick White, Maurice Oldfield. He became a sort of father confessor, someone who understood the machinations of intelligence and was compassionate about the chiefs' problems in defending the realm. Rothschild was always there to give sound advice, or pick up the phone to help with a contact. In dealing with directors-general, he transformed from an aloof, even sullen character to an effusively charming, extremely helpful and trusted friend. The demure, introverted lord vaporized and was replaced by the communicative fixer.

Rothschild provided relief for intelligence chiefs from the pressures of the office. He was the confidant with whom they could share the intrigues of the espionage game. In their time, every one of them in varying degrees had divulged the key intelligence secrets to him, the ones which the Russians were after.

In 1958, Rothschild's fostering of Peter Wright turned quickly to patronage on the basis that they were scientists who got on awfully well. Wright was an easy prey for the sophisticated peer. Although talented, Wright was not Oxbridge educated and therefore an outsider in a service which was run by the old-school ties. He felt snubbed by those too ignorant to comprehend his great value in the intelligence war. Wright was also ambitious, prepared to put in many hours of overtime to achieve his goals, whether it was developing a new device, or gaining an expanded budget. His

{p. xxxv} diligence and intelligence may have been unsettling to those used to the antiquated methods of defending HM, the realm and the masses.

Not so with ebullient Victor, who took him under his golden wing. For the first time in his professional life, Wright felt wanted, understood and appreciated. In this atmosphere, Wright spilled everything that was happening inside MI5. Rothschild offered help. He was in the oil group Shell, overseeing scientific development. He seconded staff to MI5. Wright told him about every piece of espionage technology under development. Rothschild offered ideas of his own and actually devised some new technology himself. He made introductions to heads of major British organizations like the AWRE (Atomic Weapons Research Establishment), which led to further expansion of MI5's R & D.

This new, powerful chum, who impressed Wright more than anyone else in his life, was in effect responsible for expanding British Intelligence budgets. This was an individual to be almost worshipped, especially in the niggardly world of Whitehall departments. It was damned hard to convince the bean-counters that Intelligence needed more funds. Why should we give you more money? the Government accountants would ask. The war is over. We're not under threat, are we?

Here was a noble obliged, apparently by his breeding, conscience and generosity, to dispense largesse and influence for the good of the services, and the nation. This way, Rothschild developed enormous goodwill within and without the services. No one was respected more, not just amongst the worker bees such as Wright and Arthur Martin, or the chiefs. Captains of industry, mandarins of Whitehall, ministers of the crown and successive prime ministers knew of his help and activity. Many wanted his services, but until 1970 - apart from the occasional Government committee - Rothschild preferred to keep the mystique of the outsider-insider and a little distance from those with whom he worked and consulted in Intelligence. His job at Shell, particularly from 1958 to 1969, allowed him all the freedom of activity and travel he desired.

It's accepted among MI5 agents that during the 1945 to 1963 period, the Russians were receiving vital information which enabled them to thwart British operations run against the Soviet Embassy and the KGB. All Russian interviewees said that the Moscow Centre received the data. Ex-KGB Colonels 'F' and 'B' and Modin admitted

{p. xxxvi} that the Fifth Man was at least prominent in gathering the data and informing the Russians about MI5 missions.

All through the post-war years to 1963, the Fifth Man was active in passing on vital information about MI5's plans and projects concerning the Russians and the KGB. Because of the failures, breakdown, conflict and fear this caused within British Intelligence everyone on the inside believed that MI5 had been penetrated by someone. The inference was always that it had to be an insider. But as this book will show it wasn't Hollis or Mitchell. Even one of the leading Russian double agents working for MI6, Oleg Gordievsky, who defected to Britain in 1985, denied that the Russians had anyone of importance on the inside of M15 in the contentious years from 1945 to 1963.

Wright, Martin and the various committees over the decades that chased around the British Intelligence maze searching for a mole, did not consider that he or she never existed. If that was correct, and all the evidence overwhelmingly suggested it was, then there was never penetration. In that case, the Fifth Man had to be an outsider who looked in often enough and listened with an expert technical ear hard enough to be more effective in compromising British Intelligence than any insider, including Philby, and for far longer.

Modin and ex-KGB Colonels 'F' and 'B' confirmed that the Fifth Man worked in tandem with the Fourth Man, Blunt, who after 1945 was the key middleman, the main receiver of espionage data from the Fifth Man and others to be passed on to the KGB Controls. That is why, under interrogation in 1964, Blunt made much of the definition of the word spying. No, he confessed, he had not spied for Russia, lately.

'Lately' implied after 1945. He, Burgess and Philby and several others interrogated, sang the same refrain. They had all done the right thing by the Allies, who included the Russians, in the Second World War by passing on information to the Moscow Centre in the drive to defeat Hitler. But they claimed they had not continued after 1945.

This was inaccurate. According to Modin and several other KGB agents, all of the Ring of Five went on operating after the war, in increasingly dangerous circumstances, as did many of the second-rank spies such as Cairncross (which Cairncross denies). Modin has become an unofficial spokesperson for Russian Intelligence in recent

{p. xxxvii} years. His status in KGB ranks and fame in the West is based on running the Ring of Five after 1945. He did not take up residence in Britain until 1947.


In the late 1950s, the Cold War was in deep freeze as the clandestine techno-battle expanded between the USSR and the West. The US was using Britain as a floating aircraft carrier in its preparation for an expected conflict with the Communists, which the Americans wished to confine, if that were possible, to Europe. US bomb, defence, military and communications bases linked with British bases and formed a mosaic across the length and breadth of the country.

The Moscow Centre knew about every extension to the Anglo-American network, and planned to counter it. At first it didn't know how this could be done without detection. Many Anglo-American military installations were placed in obscure locations in the country.

An ingenious suggestion to the KGB Controls from one of their British agents was that a petrol retail outlet chain should be set up. Pump stations could be built on back roads near the installations and could be used to spy on the network by, for instance, intercepting the microwave communications between bases. In preparation for war, the pump outlets could be taken over by special Soviet military forces in order to destroy the bases.

The idea seemed outstanding in principle, but any Russian-controlled company selling petrol would have to appear legitimate to fool the CIA and British Intelligence. The Russians had never set up such a capitalist enterprise before. It would have to compete with major Western retail corporations in Britain. Specialist products would have to be developed by scientists. Marketing and distribution know-how would be needed.

By coincidence or otherwise, Rothschild joined Shell in 1958 in a relatively lowly job as a part-time adviser to its research section. He immediately made his presence felt and his role was quickly expanded.

A year later, Nafta Great Britain, a Soviet retail outlet chain began operations in the UK. By the eariy 1960s, it was competing

{p. xxxviii} with the bigger Western companies. Its marketing strategy was unique in the business. Nafta set up pump stations on out-of-the-way B roads, far from the population centres and competitive outfits such as Shell and Mobil. The Russian company's managers claimed that it would compete where the big boys would not bother to go. Scores of these Nafta stations never made money in the thirty years they were open for business. They were suspiciously close to the most important defence installations in Britain.

Was Rothschild the mastermind behind Nafta? The timing for his move to Shell and the creation of the Russian company would suggest he was a prime suspect. So would his background. He had investigated commercial espionage early in his career at MI5. As its security offficer during the war, he learned all there was to know about how to steal equipment and documents. Rothschild's scientific expertise also made him a candidate as Nafta's founder. His early work at Shell covered research into gas, oil, petroleum, diesel engine fuel oil and several other products, all of which were found among Nafta's offerings to the British market. But he didn't restrict his interest to science and research. Fellow executives at Shell were stunned by his inquisitiveness in all fields from production to packaging, distribution, marketing and advertising.

His great hunger for knowledge allowed him to absorb it all, and his skills did not go unnoticed at Shell. He gained quick promotion. By 1963, he was Shell's scientific research and development supremo worldwide, even though the company never quite sorted out whether their distinguished lord was a full-time employee or not. His power and position allowed him to be around when he liked, which gave him the chance to carry on his clandestine activities, such as running agents for Dick White in Israel, Iran and China. The Shell position was just right as a cover for his frequent travels to the Middle East, where the company produced its raw petroleum.


After Burgess and Maclean defected to Russia in 1951, Rothschild spent the next four decades - the rest of his life - covering trails which linked him to them as the Fifth Man. Internal British

{p. xxxix} Intelligence investigations began in late 1951, and like every other person connected to the defectors, he was questioned. It was mild then, but when Philby defected in 1963, and Blunt 'confessed' in exchange for immunity from prosecution in 1964, the interrogations increased.

Many, including Rothschild, took Blunt's lead and opted for the immunity card. Some made the deal which prevented prosecution then made certain admissions, such as 'yes, I passed on data to people like Blunt during the war, but never to the Russians directly.' Others said 'thanks for the immunity' to avoid first, being falsely accused, and second, guilt by association. They then proceeded to give away precisely nothing. Rothschild was in the latter category. Yet no matter what he did after that, the issue dogged him. He protected himself legally against defamation by threatening to sue anyone who accused him of being the fifth Man. But Rothschild never sued an accuser. Nor did he ever act like an innocent person. Someone with his clout, who was innocent, could have calmly waited for an accusation or innuendo, then pounced. No one, unless it was an intelligence insider with specialist knowledge, could have presented evidence which would have indicted Rothschild. Only a confession was strong enough evidence to convict major spies. The trouble with a court action would be the skeletons it would reveal which would have increased the suspicion that the accused was in fact a Soviet agent. This was the danger that forced him to keep up his legal threats and bluff, but to avoid the courts.

In defending himself, Rothschild instead chose the indirect but effective media route to keep the lid on accusations and deflect them from him. He wrote books and articles, and made highly publicized speeches. These improved his image away from the secret world which preoccupied him for fifty years of his life. He spoke and wrote only rarely and evasively about his links to those in the ring of five. He could hardly dismiss his close friendships with Blunt and Burgess, but he tried to distance himself from them.

He used intelligence, press and publishing contacts to create books which deflected suspicion away from him and on to others, such as the long-suffering ghost of Roger Hollis.

{p. xl} The Third Lord Rothschild was camouflaged as the Fifth Man by virtue of his powerful position in the Establishment. The vast wealth of his banking dynasty embedded him in the power elite more than the other members of the Ring of Five. It was a perfect cover and served to shield him. He seemed the epitome of the ruling class of twentieth-century Britain, and therefore the least likely to be a traitor. Yet a closer scrutiny showed that he had other allegiances, which over time and on specific occasions ran contrary to British interests.

Rothschild was more loyal to his Jewish heritage than anything English. He showed this in his long commitment to his race's problems. After his political awakening at Cambridge in 1930 he supported refugees from Soviet and German pogroms. In the war, he feverishly fought the Nazis. Once Hitler was defeated, Rothschild assisted in the creation of a homeland for the Jews who had been dispossessed. When the new nation was established he again helped in guiding Israeli leaders to the people, technology and weaponry which would defend it.

He was never so committed to his country of birth and its established order. In fact, more than once when confronted with a conflict between race and country, he chose race. For instance, when the British tried to thwart the birth of Israel, which would have upset its power base in the Middle East, Rothschild intrigued against British interests. It would not have been difficult for him to make another commitment, this time to another power - the Soviet Union - and what for decades he considered was a superior cause.

As a secret communist and professed socialist he would like to have seen the collapse of the old Establishment order in Britain. There was some irony in Rothschild's secret desire to destroy the House of Lords and capitalism. These sources of power developed his own privilege and prestige, which in turn allowed him to contemplate being in the vanguard of change.

His background again gave him an international view of the world, which paralleled the aspirations of the communist movement. Its emphasis between the wars on science as the vehicle for brave, new Marxist societies appealed to him and many of his colleagues at Cambridge. It was put to him as an experimental phase in the build

{p. xli} towards a grand, classless society. Like all experiments there would be failures, but in the end the logic of it would lead to success.

Rothschild's deep involvement in Britain's power structure protected him and may partly explain why he lived longer than anyone else in the Ring of Five. All were under enormous strain while involved in espionage. Burgess, Maclean and Philby were from the upper class but none had the wealth, privilege and prestige of the lord who bestrode politics, business, science and society. Only Blunt, as the monarch's art curator, was guarded in a similar way. But he didn't have the money to buy further protection if required.

This extra protection provided security of mind and it's not surprising that the other four were afflicted by alcoholism in varying degrees. Burgess and Maclean were killed by it. Philby nearly was too, whereas Blunt could not stand pressure without being anaesthetized by gin or Scotch. Rothschild liked his wines and spirits but remained in control.

Another factor not to be ignored in Rothschild's survival was a successful second marriage to his understanding wife, Tess. She admitted in an interview with me that her husband carried too many secrets, and that she was not privy to all of them. (Tess was Rothschild's assistant at MI5 for five years and would have known some secrets within British Intelligence.) While she would not have been aware of his activity involving the KGB, Tess held similar political views to Rothschild and thus provided stability, comfort and communication over issues about which he was passionate. Rothschild was only troubled in his final years, when the pressures brought on by his decades of covering up the past caught up with him and depressed him.

By comparison, Burgess and Blunt were homosexuals in an era when it was illegal, which brought its own pressures. Both philandered most of their lives and had many relationships. Burgess's affairs were unstable and transitory, and it is unlikely that either man could have confided anything of their KGB activity with any partner. Instead, they were forced to bottle up tensions.

According to Modin, Maclean's wife Melinda knew he was a KGB agent (something she has denied), but their marriage was unstable and Maclean was tormented by his bisexuality, especially during times of strain in his double life. Philby only found fulfilment in his fourth marriage to a Russian in Moscow late in life. His brief first

{p. xlii} marriage of convenience was to a communist agent in the 1930s, but for the greater proportion of his spying days in the West it is unlikely that his female partners knew of his true masters.

Postscript: Modin published a book of his own on the Cambridge spies in 1994, first in French, Mes Camarades de Cambridge, and then in English, when its title changed to My Five Cambrtdge Friends. The French edition had Modin playing his game of not divulging the name of The Fifth. But the English edition included some subtle changes which implied Cairncross was number Five. Confused by this, Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian newspaper rang Modin in Moscow early in November 1994. He found the Russian angry that the English edition now seemed to be saying Cairncross was the Fifth Man. He categorically stated that he had never said or written this. Daniel Korn, a researcher for the British documentary film company Touch Productions, investigated this contradiction and verified Norton-Taylor's findings. At least Molin remained consistent in his deception about number Five.


A book on Russian espionage would not be complete without a conundrum. Modin supplied one during our interviews in Moscow in 1993.

'Just as the Three Musketeers were four,' he said, 'so the Cambridge five were six.'

In the tradition of the conundrum, Modin appeared to confuse the issue by also saying:

'To these five names a sixth was added: John Cairncross.'

However, the Russian would not then admit Cairncross was therefore one of the Ring of Five (which was really a Ring of Six).

Why was he playing this enigmatic game? Why not say yes, the five (six) were Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt, the Fifth Man, and Cairncross?

I could find only one explanation. Cairncross, who was never in the same league as the Ring of Five (six), was added as a red herring to hide the identity of a still living number six.

A key was the use of the word names. Five names could only represent six people, if the names of two of the people were the same. {End of the Prologue}

{p. 54} Espionage, if shared, could cement a relationship. If it wasn't, the spy's disintegration could be faster and greater. Keeping his secret life from a perceptive woman led to increased tensions.


While making his assessment, the ever gracious Otto delivered his polished lines of enticement. Philby, Blunt and Burgess had warned him that Rothschild had to be reeled in on the Jewish, anti-Hitler line. Too much clap-trap about the 'rightness' of the communist view might cause his eyes to glaze over with uncertainty and boredom. He had heard and comprehended all the theory but was unconvinced. He knew too much about Stalin's Jewish pogroms in Russia.

Rothschild judged Stalin and Hitler to be about equal in their appalling treatment of Jews. A dictator was a dictator, and a dead, starving or tortured human was the same on either side of the Eastern border. {Stalin was murdered in 1953, over his plans to counter perceived collusion between Russian and American Jews: death-of-stalin.html}

Otto found he had to be more careful in his sales pitch with Rothschild than any other of the key targets that he, his protege Arnold Deutsch, and Philby had been after. Victor would not be seduced like Burgess and Philby by ideology and the panacea of a perfect communist world with a post-Stalinist figure astride East and West. Nor could this target be lured like Blunt by appealing to his artistic vanity and his detestation of the foibles and conservatism of his own, elite class.

Rothschild, like Watson, was influenced into believing that Russia's laboratories of social and scientific experimentation would lead to a better, albeit Godless world with test-tube man in charge. Otto had been briefed by Blunt and Kapitza that this could be used as a second line of argument. Rothschild, Otto had been informed, was a believer in the certainties of scientific development even if it went down spurious or counterfeit trails.

Young Victor's chosen line of research was some proof of this. He was investigating how fast sperm swam, and why only one sperm managed to fertilize an egg. 'It occurred to me,' he wrote in

{p. 55} Meditations, 'that light might be shed on this problem by treating an egg in a suspension of sperm as if it were a sphere being bombarded by gas molecules.'

In one sense this may not have been deemed a 'sexy' topic, but it was neither spurious nor counterfeit. In the secret laboratories of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, scientists were already scanning Rothschild's published literature (in Russia this would continue for a quarter of a century) for data that would help in cloning a German super race, or a Soviet superman.

Rothschild's work would contribute to the build-up of data Hitler's scientists would use to weed out the non-survivors and the weak in his cock-eyed grand design. It would also assist Stalin's white-coated brigade in their inhuman experiments with drugs, social behaviour, genetics, and psychiatry.

Otto was well briefed about Victor's research and even feigned knowledgeable interest in the subject. Rothschild's smugness about being at the forefront of his field was fortified by flattery. Otto, with his worldliness and articulate elegance, managed conversational insertions about communism providing the best facilities for improving modern man's lot.

The work Rothschild was doing was germane to a 'brave new world', and he knew it, although he was not then aware of the hideous attempted and actual uses to which it would be put.

The main anti-Hitler argument had to be delivered with equal care also, for despite his youthful naivety, the young Victor on some levels was already shrewd and perceptive. For that reason, Blunt had advized that the other key Comintern control, Arnold Deutsch, should not be used first in attracting Victor. Deutsch was a Jew. If he dwelt too much on the persecutions, he might make the target suspicious that his recruitment was too contrived. Philby had convinced the Controls that Rothschild was potentially their most important catch. He had to be wooed with great subtlety and finesse.

Rothschild was well aware of the stark choices emerging because of Hitler's rise to power. The German 'Third Reich' was to last, according to its architect, for a thousand years, which for civilization would mean a barbaric period in history, a darker age than had ever gone before. There was a sense of noblesse oblige in Rothschild's

{p. 56} response. His privileged, hereditary position would mean he could influence events if he so chose. Tackling Hitler, via communist opposition, seemed the only effective route.

Many British politicians had no stomach for another conflict like the Great War. They had let the military run down to the point that even a middle European power could challenge Britain. Leaders were already talking about appeasement with Hitler, which was tantamount to political capitulation and eventual concessions to German expansionism. This led to a sense of impotence and frustration amongst those who sensed the dangers posed by Hitler.

Rothschild's status in society and his political leanings meant that he was, in a sense, 'ripe' for persuasion to take up a cause against Nazism and fascism. He was an elite rebel with a cause, but in search of a way to exercise it. The Comintern's secret path was the only one available to him, unless he turned to more active politics, like his friend Churchill. But Rothschild was not about to contemplate that. He preferred, like his powerful antecedents especially his grandfather, Nathaniel Mayer ('Natty'), the first Lord Rothschild, to keep his politics as private as possible. Like Natty, he would employ his ability to get things done and influence major events from behind the scenes.

Natty was a powerful back-room manipulator of late Victorian politics, who supported Disraeli and intrigued against Gladstone. In addition, the splendour of Tring Park was the setting for negotiations ranging from the extension of Cecil Rhodes' diamond empire to the reconstruction of London University. Churchill became a regular visitor as Natty supervised the destruction of Liberalism in the hope of strengthening the Conservative Party, which was his most notable political accomplishment.

Aware of all this, Otto first painted a raw picture of the expected mighty battle between fascism and the left. He then dabbed in points about the skirmishes already begun in Austria, which would ring true from what Philby and the Viennese Rothschilds were saying. The Control next added a few big brushstrokes about the might of Germany and the danger this posed to civilization, without mentioning the Soviet Union just yet.

'Hitler is marking time,' he told the target, 'so he can build his military force. Then he will move. Nothing is surer. We have to be ready.'

{p. 57} Otto also worked on demonstrating that only Russia would have the will and might to tackle fascism. He did this by reminding Rothschild that he, Otto, had experienced at first hand the Allied efforts, which included the might of half the world, to crush the fledgling communist revolution in Russia in the early 1920s. The control then spoke of the financial, military and trade deals on-going between Germany and Britain.

This touched a nerve, for young Victor had seen this during his time at the Bank. Making money overrode moral principles in some international dealing and he became more disgusted with this as his political sensitivities became more acute.

Otto obliquely referred to glowing editorials about Hitler in some leading conservative papers, implying that the ruling classes were pandering to the German dictator. That gave Rothschild pause before he agreed dejectedly that he too had sensed this. Even at his mother's dinner parties there had been ignorant talk about the importance of forging links with Germany and pacifying the strutting demagogue with bribes and concessions.

There were also Hitlerites amongst the City's merchant-bankers and businessmen. They were combining with right-wing Tories in favour of rapprochement and conciliation with the Nazis, no matter what they did. Otto warned that the far right elements amongst the Tories were gaining the ascendancy within the party. More moderate members such as Winston Churchill were 'unlikely to gain power'.

Otto suggested that it was conceivable Germany and Britain would combine in an attempt to overthrow the Soviet Union. This struck a further chord with Rothschild. There had been much discussion about it at Cambridge.

Later, Otto switched to the obvious line that Hitler and fascism had to be obliterated. Only a nation the size of the Soviet Union, if it was strong and prepared by Intelligence reports, could do that. Agents in Britain could play their part by climbing into positions of power and decision-making. They could then guard against conspiracies between Britain and Germany, by informing the Soviet Union if there were any. Otto even suggested there could one day be a link between Britain and a strong Soviet Union, especially if the right people were in positions of influence in Whitehall.

Details from Otto were few. The objective had been to arouse Rothschild's interest in secret work to defeat Hitler and that meant

{p. 58} supporting the Soviet Union. It was an accumulated appeal to his survival instinct as a Jew, his protective urges towards the family, his ego, and his rebellion against the Establishment, which he believed would be overturned and replaced by a better, science-driven society.

Otto made his proposals sound as if the new recruit would be able to take part in history-making events. He could even shape them, as Rothschilds had done for two hundred years.


The Comintern considered the question of Rothschild's immediate role. A person of his name and stature could hardly slip away like Philby with a false ID and pose as a freelance journalist in fascist-controlled countries. Although the dirty word 'espionage' was never used, the next Lord Rothschild was not the type to act as a straight agent. It was ludicrous to suggest he could be used to infiltrate extreme right-wing groups.

Otto suggested, however, that he might consider helping to finance the setting up of a front to assist other operatives in order to create the right credentials for infiltration. Otto explained that it would be useful for those supporting the cause to become members of, for instance, the Anglo-German Fellowship. It attracted the cirdes in which the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, moved. He, himself, was pro-Hitler {is this why he was forced to abdicate?}, as were several of the upper-class members who filled the Fellowship's banquets.

Rothschild was inquisitive about who would be asked to penetrate that circle.

'Guy Burgess is enthusiastic,' Otto replied. 'So is Kim."

It was the first time Rothschild had been given direct evidence that members of his circle had joined the cause. The thought of the quieter, shrewder Kim changing his image was plausible. But Victor scoffed at the idea Burgess could present himself as a fascist.

Otto was adamant. Guy, he claimed, was qualified for the job. All he needed was a preparatory link to neo-fascism. The concept was straightforward. Rothschild was asked to contribute towards funding a newsletter specializing in economics, finance and business with strong links to Germany. Burgess was ignorant of such matters

{p. 59} so a professional journalist sympathizer, German communist Rudolph Katz, was ready to be brought in to do most of the donkey work in London by writing and editing the newsletter. Burgess acted as the titular editor and, under Katz's direction, researched and wrote some contributing articles.

It would be an entree to the fascist networks linked with the Anglo-German Fellowship. Burgess could roam free in these circles. Again, Otto didn't have to spell out some of the methods randy, debaudhed Guy would use to extract information and develop contacts. Rothschild's thoughts changed from bemusement to amusement. Grubby Guy's frenzied dalliances had their uses, it seemed. He could be discriminating after all.

Rothschild was able to go further and use his family contacts to introduce Burgess to influential members of the Conservative Party. According to Modin, these induded George Ball, an MI5 agent and founder of the Conservative Research Unit - the Party's information service. (This led to Burgess becoming parliamentary assistant to a young, extreme-right Conservative, Jack Macnamara. He was a homosexual and a member of the Anglo-German Fellowship.)

In further discussions with Otto, Rothschild brought up his own image. How could he be seen financing a right-wing business letter? It wouldn't be good for the family name, or the Bank. Otto explained that no one would need to know he was behind it. In any case, some of the funds would be provided from elsewhere. Rothschild volunteered that they could always claim his mother Rozsika was financing Burgess's ventures. Technically this was accurate because she looked after most of Victor's finances. Burgess was on a retainer from her of £100 a month for advising her on stock investments.

Rothschild warmed to the idea and even volunteered that Burgess and Philby could act as couriers for the family banking operations, if a front was needed. Victor's family was familiar with private intelligence networks - they had their 'spies' at court, in governments, the military and business - people retained to inform the family's decision-makers of a business deal here, a political intrigue there.

More than a hundred years ago Nathan Mayer Rothsdlild, the founder of the British dynasty, had run a swifter spy service than those of the British or French Government. His agents followed

{p. 60} the armies everywhere and were so efficient that Nathan knew Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo before either government. The Rothschild network had remained intact since 1815. What's more, it had already been activated to help Jews in trouble in Germany.

Victor's cousin James had influenced him into supporting the setting up of Israel in order to give the tens of thousands of dispossessed a 'home'. James, a Liberal MP, was giving financial backing to creating many Jewish cooperatives in Palestine. However, expansion of the settlements was being held up by a 'pro-Arab' lobby in Whitehall. Britain didn't seem likely to honour the declaration of Foreign Secretary Balfour who in 1917 had promised to recognize Zionism and had called for a Jewish homeland.

At the last of their initial meetings in 1934, Otto and Victor discussed Rothschild's plans for the future. He didn't really see himself ever reaching for a position of influence within Government, mainly because he was loving his research and being at Cambridge.

'I can see myself going on to the age of forty or fifty,' he told Otto and many contemporaries.

The Control was not happy with this response at first. He suggested it would be most helpful if he could set his mind on a key position now. Otto flattered him by saying he could achieve great things for Britain.

Rothschild wanted to know why it was so important to join Whitehall. The Control gave the stock reply he had been using with some sincerity in discussions with other recruits.

'War is inevitable,' he maintained. 'That is when positioning really counts.'

This gave Rothschild more to consider, but he did not respond. Otto had already concluded that this young man would be the most difficult to direct. Normally this would cause a Control to not proceed with the recruitment. Yet he understood why Philby had been keen to add Rothschild to the network of agents. Apart from his intelligence, he was single-minded, independent, and apparently in awe of no one.

Otto salvaged something by suggesting it would be useful to know of the secret work of scientists at the major institutions, such as Cambridge. The Comintern agent said he was aware that secret research had been going on in the area of 'gas' warfare since the First

{p. 61} World War. Knowing how far it had gone would be helpful. Rothschild agreed that he would assist where he could, as he had in gaining information for Kapitza over the last two years.

Otto wrote to Moscow about Rothschild, explaining the unconventional nature of his activation as a functionary, and his usefulness in financially supporting other agents and supplying useful scientific data.

According to several KGB sources, Otto, Deutsch and the Moscow Centre were then ambivalent about 'fully recruiting' Rothschild to a point where he would be regarded as more than a subagent, that is, someone on the fringe who could help with finance and information from time to time, or as a supplier of intelligence data to full agents such as Burgess, Blunt and Philby.

They had other misgivings because the target had no obvious ambition to join British Intelligence or the government. They were impressed by his intellect but worried about his wife Barbara not being 'suitable' for the cause. There were further concerns about his attitude to Palestine and the campaign to create a Zionist state which confused the Moscow Centre. The Soviet Union had no firm policy on the issue and it was unable to voice an opinion when Otto asked for one to give Rothschild.

{But if Trotsky had been in power, a deal with Rothschild would have been straigtforward; Trotsky used to play chess with Baron Rothschild at a cafe in Switzerland, before the Revolution (Joseph Nedava, Trotsky and the Jews, p. 36): nedava.html}

The Centre also found problematic the fact that Rothschild had independent means. It was harder to manipulate or 'keep' agents who were not financially dependent in some way, even if it just meant the odd cash payment for expenses.

Otto sent numerous communications to the Centre about several agents in the last few months of 1934. Despite Moscow's uncertainty about Rothschild, this period marked the beginning of his secret life. Otto advised him, as he did Burgess, Philby, Maclean and Blunt, to sever all relationships with the far left. Rothschild gave up his links to the Communist Party.

{p. 76} Victor Rothschild, like several Comintern supporters, waited through the early months of 1937, but did not hear from Otto or Deutsch. The death of his uncle Walter meant that the newly-titled 26-year-old had taken his seat in the Lords and was busier than ever. Having been elected to a Fellowship at Trinity in 1935, he was now lecturing in Zoology and advancing his study into sperm movement and fertilization.

In June 1937, Rothschild learnt that Otto had returned to Moscow at Stalin's orders. The Soviet Dictator had been purging the Comintern in an attempt to eliminate all remnants of Trotskyism. At their last meeting eight months earlier Otto had hinted that he might be in danger. He knew that Stalin's assassins had been hunting down some of the leading Comintern people in several countries, and he expected trouble.

Blunt, who saw more of Otto and Deutsch, the two key agents in England, and acted as a conduit for any information Rothschild might wish to pass on, thought Otto's life might be at risk.

The information chilled the other three key British agents then working for Moscow: Philby, Burgess and Donald Maclean, the main Cambridge spy at the Foreign Office. It worried Rothschild too. Although he had less direct contact with the Comintern Controls, he had met Otto and Deutsch on at least six occasions for discussions, and several more times socially. The two Comintern agents had from time to time turned up at private functions involving the five and other British agents.

Rothschild was still on the fringe of Comintern activity, but his sponsorship of the Katz-edited financial magazine had allowed

{p. 77} Burgess to join the Anglo-German Fellowship. Burgess had successfully buried his far-left connections to emerge as a fascist-sympathizer, using his homosexuality to insinuate himself further into important far-right circles.

Rothschild kept in contact with Kapitza in Moscow and wrote reports on scientific developments to accompany data published in obscure journals and papers, largely restricted to the international scientific community. These covered a range of subjects, including biological toxins and nuclear physics, which would eventually lead to research into germ warfare and atomic weaponry. Some of the data he passed on was classified. It was all of enormous help to Russian scientists.

If anything, his prose style was even more deft than the brilliant yet verbose Burgess, and the precise Philby. Furthermore, Rothschild was breaking down far more esoteric information than the others. His reports would often be accompanied by explanatory drawings, which demonstrated his extraordinary capacity for comprehending anything scientific.

Whether it was the very early rudiments of the gas centrifuge method of collecting 'fissionable' uranium or the experimentation of scientist Mark Oliphant in 'Hydrogen power' at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge, Rothschild could twist his mind around the theory and picture it, in much the same way as Einstein visually perceived his theory of relativity.

He built up friendships with the relevant science departments at Cambridge and other strategically-placed agents such as Alister Watson, who met in discussion groups and in relaxation hours to inform each other about developments in their respective specialties. Rothschild would dwell on areas outside his discipline until he could understand the principles well enough to hold his own with the experts.

'Knowing other [scientific] developments allowed us to crossfertilize,' he later told his MI5 scientist friend Peter Wright. 'It stimulated the imagination. For instance, after a discussion with nuclear physicists, who were forever in discourse about bombarding this and that with gas molecules, I applied it to my own work.'

Apart from regular talks with his scientific peers, Rothschild daily had his face buried in papers and journals. He made a point of reading everything. ...

{p. 88} ... Moscow's instructions, it was Rothschild who remained the least dictated to of the subagents, those on the fringe willing to help the Soviets as major conflict in Europe loomed.

Even though he was not yet thirty he had a commanding presence. The Soviets did not wish to lose him because of his increasing power and influence. The Centre was well aware of Rothschild's proximity to Churchill, now jockeying behind the scenes for leadership as they learnt from Rothschild himself. The Soviet Controls decided at first that they would use his close friends to influence him. Blunt in particular could usually persuade him.

Gorsky set about 'activating' all his agents. The Nazi-Soviet Pact marked the beginning of the key agents' and second division of subagents' attempts to get important jobs, preferably within the Intelligence community. To many, war seemed inevitable but in Britain until it was declared there was a reluctance to put funds into developing Intelligence departments.

A few days after the Pact, the Fuhrer, now free to bully whom he wished, marched on Poland, which the West was ill-prepared to defend.

{p. 89} Moscow wanted spies in all sections of British Intelligence, the Foreign Office, and the military, but they couldn't make real penetration until Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939. Then both MI5 and MI6 expanded by recruiting the best minds from Oxbridge.

The incestuous network helped themselves. Burgess, at MI6 and still on a retainer from Rothschild, recommended Philby for a job in Section D of MI6. Rothschild, who had helped nudge Burgess into his position before the war, had been in turn recommended to MI5 by Burgess, and Guy Liddell, then deputy director of MI5's B division, who had in turn been introduced by Burgess to the young lord.

However, according to ex-KGB Colonel 'F' and Modin, Rothschild was the key to most of the Cambridge ring's penetration of British Intelligence.

'He had the contacts,' Modin noted. 'He was able to introduce Burgess, Blunt and others to important figures in Intelligence such as Stewart Menzies, Dick White and Robert Vansittart, the Permanent Under-secretary of State in the Foreign Office, who controlled MI6.'

Churchill and Rothschild had long since patched up their minor differences, and the still-frustrated politician had put in a good word for his brilliant young friend after he had submitted a paper on the German banking system to the War Office. The paper showed how, using spies in the international banking system, the Nazis' plans could be predicted. The science all-rounder left his research at Cambridge for a position in the Commercial Espionage Unit of MI5's Section B.

{p. 116} ... But despite the slow start, Enrico Fermi made a big leap forward with his 1942 Chicago Experiment. This relied on Peierls' chain reaction concept but demonstrated that the bomb could be made using plutonium. This was done by building a reactor using natural uranium fuel - that is, 99.3 per cent U-238 and 0.7 per cent U-235 - encased in graphite. During the chain reaction some of the uranium was transformed into plutonium, and it could then be separated chemically and used as bomb fuel.

Peierls, Frisch and Co. were not impressed with this experiment and Rothschild couldn't rely on information about plutonium - or any other secret work - coming through from them to the Government and M15, as with the famous Memorandum. And since not all scientists were as motivated to stir the Government to action as these two outstanding Jewish physicists, Rothschild instead had to go out and glean facts from his other contacts in England and the US like an assistant researcher in order to comprehend the fundamentals. This meant visiting every defence research establishment and asking questions about all aspects of a project. The problem was, how could he do this and remain above suspicion?


Rothschild found an ingenious legitimate way of learning everything he needed in all areas of secret research involving not only nuclear and biological weapons but also radar. He wrote a memo to Guy Liddell reminding him of the laxity he had found in commercial organizations in his earlier intelligence work. There was now an urgent need to tighten security in all defence and research establishments. Liddell put him in charge of security, giving Rothschild the right to examine any building he wished. It also meant, if he was doing his job properly, that he should understand every development in order to make sure it was secure.

Late in 1942 he visited Birmingham University and examined every aspect of the Peierls/Frisch laboratory. Then he went next door to check on Oliphant who was refining the magnetron, which would turn radar into a war-winning weapon for Britain.

'It was our one and only meeting,' Oliphant told me in an interview in January 1994. 'Rothschild wanted to know everything

{p. 117} about it [the operation of the magnetron]. He went over the whole lab and absorbed information like blotting paper. He wasn't an expert but he didn't pretend to know things. He asked a lot of questions, and took notes in a long discussion which ranged across our areas of scientific expertise. Rothschild was cheerful enough in that meeting. He was a very bright individual and I liked him very much.

The MI5 security inspector did more than learn about the secret work. He slipped a three-inch diameter magnetron into his pocket when Oliphant wasn't looking. That night Rothschild drove to his Cambridge home and copied the design of the device, with its three terminal electrodes, which generated short radio-waves.

Early the next morning Rothschild drove to London, gave the magnetron and drawing with explanatory notes to Blunt at Bentinck Street for passing on to the Russians, who microfilmed everything by the afternoon. They gave it back to Blunt, who returned the device to Rothschild at his MI5 office in St James's."

Rothschild wrote a note to Oliphant, attached it to the magnetron, packaged it and sent it back to Birmingham by special messenger. Oliphant was shocked to receive it. The note said:

Perhaps you should tighten up your security. Enjoyed our meeting, Yours etc Rothschild

Oliphant had no reason to suspect Rothschild was doing other than his appointed security job. In fact, the scientist was most grateful, even beholden to him.

'He could have caused us trouble by reporting our slackness,' Oliphant commented. 'But he didn't. I immediately tightened up our procedures and made sure no equipment was left lying around. Rothschild never commented about us, but in a report he was scathing about security in general.'

Early in 1943, Rothschild visited Professor G. P. Thompson's laboratory at London's Imperial College, again for 'security' reasons. There he had the plutonium route to the bomb explained to him. Thompson's team had the right principle for generating plutonium but had failed by using heavy water instead of graphite as a moderator in the reactor.

{p. 118} Rothschild was able to inform Blunt, again with his trademark diagrams of explanation, how it worked and Blunt wasted no time in passing it all on to a Control.

According to former KGB Colonel 'F': 'This was the kind of data our scientists were looking for. It took us some time to develop a nuclear weapon using plutonium, but that initial clue was the start. We admit it [the first Russian bomb, exploded in 1949] was just a copy of the American design, which led to 'Fat Man'. [The bomb, 'Fat Man', exploded on Nagasaki soon after 'Little Boy' - fuelled by U-235 - was exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.] It also educated us in the rudiments of [plutonium] breeder reactors for industry.'

By March 1943, Rothschild had achieved his aim of having a complete overview of the struggle to be first to make a 'superbomb'. Through his diligence as MI5's security inspector, he had developed a knowledge of every major scientific development in the Allied war effort. No one in Britain or America, not even Churchill's scientific adviser Baron Cherwell, knew as much as Rothschild. He made sure Russia's scientists had the basics of every secret project from biological warfare to radar and the various types of potential nuclear bomb.

[p. 119} In April 1943 German troops uncovered the Katyn Woods site not far from the Soviet city of Smolensk where the KGB had massacred 8,000 Polish officers. Most had been shot in the back of the neck. It was known that these officers had been interned by the Russians in the winter of 1939, after Soviet forces had occupied eastern Poland.

The Nazis made quick propaganda out of the grisly discovery and it caused outrage amongst the exiled Poles, notably General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the premier of the exiled Polish Government and commander-in-chief of all that country's forces abroad.

The first man to bring him the news was Donald Maclean from the Foreign Office, who was in charge of 'administrative liaison' with Allied troops in Britain - at this time mostly Poles and French.

On 15 April Sikorski and Count Racynski, the Polish Ambassador in London, went to see Churchill at 10 Downing Street.

'Alas', Churchill told them, 'the German revelations are probably true. The Bolsheviks can be very cruel."

KGB agent Maclean had reported to Gorsky that the Poles were suspicious of Stalin, who had similar feelings towards Sikorski. Now he informed his Control that the Poles were going to call for an investigation into the Katyn murders by the International Red Cross. Sikorski did this publicly the day after his meeting with Churchill and against the British Prime Minister's advice. Moscow was well prepared and it retaliated by breaking off relations with Sikorski's Government. It called the Poles 'Fascist Collaborators' and blamed the massacre on the Germans.

{p. 150} ... the Cold War marked the beginning of defections from Russia by those who had experienced a better life in the West. The defectors needed to have something to sell.

This put the Soviet bomb espionage networks in jeopardy. Those Russians abandoning their posts enhanced the concept of 'the wilderness of mirrors' in which defectors became wittingly or unwittingly involved in molehunts based on the new data they gave. If a KGB defector suggested there were spies inside Western services nearly everyone became a suspect, because the game was to be undetectable which meant that possible moles ranged from the most to the least obvious.

The first major Russian to leave his post in the West post-war with promises of major secrets was a 25-year-old cipher clerk in the Ottawa Embassy named Igor Gouzenko. In September 1945, he claimed that Moscow had an important spy at the heart of British Intelligence. But Gouzenko couldn't make up his mind whether he worked for MI5, or Section Five of MI6.

Gouzenko was speaking about a spy who had operated until 1945, which at first could have meant any one of twenty people. Over time it narrowed down to a handful, including Blunt, Roger Hollis (then in charge of monitoring the British Communist Party) Guy Liddell and Rothschild - all at MI5 - and Philby at MI6.

A few weeks later, KGB operative Konstantin Volkov in Istanbul told a British Embassy official that he wanted to defect. His deal was £27,500 and sanctuary in Britain in exchange for data about five British double agents in Intelligence and two in the Foreign Office. The key spy again was initially thought to be in MI6, but over the years Volkov's claims were reassessed and could have meant a section head of MI5, which then pointed to Hollis once more. But Liddell and Rothschild's roles could also be interpreted to mean head of section until 1945. (Philby alerted the Centre and Volkov was taken back to Moscow and executed.)

The upshot of such defections and accusations was to make both British Intelligence and the FBI (the CIA was not yet in operation) far more alert to moles inside espionage agencies and spies within vital operations such as the Manhattan Project. The agents and their Controls were suddenly under far more stress than they had ever experienced in wartime as the hunts began.

{p. 151} The end of the war signalled a confirmation of the commitment of the Ring of Five to their espionage work for the Soviet Union. But now a clandestine approach was paramount. They were working for the new enemy of the West. If exposed now as KGB agents, they would be viewed as full-blown traitors.

Rothschild decided to formalize his relationship with his close assistant, Tess. In 1946, he divorced Barbara and married Tess, thus beginning a far more settled and successful private life for the versatile spy. He officially gave up service for MI5 after helping to reorganize its structure. In public, he lifted his profile in keeping with his background by continuing to do research at Cambridge and by taking up directorships, such as with the British airline BOAC. He accepted war honours and awards in Britain and the US, and continued his work in the House of Lords.

In private, unlike others who left the service, he was addicted to the secret world and could not give it up. Because of his independence, position and the reputation he had gained during the war, he was able to keep in touch with the secret services' most powerful men.

He could afford to dabble when and how he liked. But as always with Rothschild, there were strong motives behind his affiliations. He was closely connected to the Jewish drive for a homeland for the millions of refugees made homeless by the upheaval of the war and used his position in the Lords to make powerful, cogent public statements, which would get wide press attention.

His unseen contacts with Intelligence were useful in helping the Jewish Haganah - the precursor to Mossad - learn what the British

{p. 152} were thinking and doing, for the Foreign Office jealously guarded its influence in the Middle East.

The Arab nations were against any form of a Jewish state in their region. The FO was determined to maintain its standing with the Arabs and it was difficult for Zionists to get support for the radical idea of a new country in the midst of hostile nations.

The political campaign for it had to be subtle, thoughtful and persistent. There was much education to be done in a parliament and political system that had not exactly been feverish in its support of the Jews during the war. There had been some sympathy, especially in the Labour movement, but there had also been ignorance, even hostility before the war amongst Conservative elements, including newspapers, who backed Hitler. Despite the horrors of the death camps there was a deal of work needed to turn the pre-war apathy into post-war support.

As the months of the first post-war year were eaten up with his various public and clandestine activities, everything Rothschild did seemed increasingly to be inspired by the Jewish refugee/homeland problem. It was a continuation of his work in the 1930s, but now with the possibility of a humane solution, he was redoubling his efforts in public and in secret.

Rothschild had cleverly cultivated a 'neutral' position concerning the politics of the issue and had friends in the press comment that he was 'the most pro-Arab Jew in the UK'. He went further in a Lords speech and stated 'I have never been a supporter of Zionism, or what is called political Zionism; nor have I been connected officially or unofficially with any Zionist organisation.' But in a debate on 'The Situation in Palestine' on 31 July 1946, he came out into the open.

The debate coincided with great unrest in Palestine, a few days after the King David Hotel was blown up by Jewish terrorists members of the notorious Irgun and Stern Gang. British soldiers were killed in the incident.

Rothschild made his speech in response to an official Anglo-American Commission recommendation, which wanted Palestine partitioned into four areas with the right of entry, into a 'Jewish Province in Palestine, of 100,000 Jews to be selected primarily from Germany, Austria and Italy.'

Rothschild started by again denying that he was a Zionist or connected with its intelligence operations, and then proceeded to

{p. 153} make a near-emotional (for him), but always rational case for Jews being allowed to have their part of the partition.

He pointed out that, in the worldwide tradition of the past few hundred years, pogroms were still going on, the latest as recently as July 1946 in Kielce, Poland. Rothschild reminded their lordships that 'almost all the young Jews in Palestine had fathers, mothers and relations who were among the six million Jews tortured or gassed to death by Hitler'.

He gave a graphic account of an aunt, 'whom one loved dearly - she was seventy-five years old and quite blind - [who was] ... clubbed to death by the SS on the railway station outside an extermination camp ...'

Rothschild then spoke of a Foreign Office-influenced, 1939 British White Paper, which was against a Jewish settlement. It was viewed by many Jews as 'a betrayal of previous promises' going back to the Balfour Declaration in November 1917, in which the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs wrote the following reply to Lord Walter Rothschild, Victor's uncle:

Dear Lord Rothschild, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of s~rmpathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which have been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet: 'His Majesty~s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation. Yours sincerely, Arthur Balfour

Victor invoked Churchill's reaction to parts of the White Paper: 'That is a plain breach of a solemn obligation, a breach of faith . . . What will those who have been stirring up the Arab agitators think? Will they not be tempted to say, "They are on the run again. This is another Munich."'

{p. 154} Rothschild attacked some Arab nations for their anti-British and pro-Hitler stances and then commented on the Anglo-American recommendation:

'A prerequisite of this recommendation being implemented was that no further acts of terrorism should take place ... that illegal armies in Palestine should all disarm before these displaced people were allowed into Palestine. The Jews, constrained to Palestine, felt, quite wrongly no doubt, that this added condition was directed against them, rather than against the Arabs, who had all the surrounding countries such as TransJordan and Syria, in which to prepare for resistance.'

Rothschild defended the Jewish Army and at the same time showed the English connection to it by noting that many of its members 'did many acts of valour for England during the war', and that it was trained 'by a national hero of ours,' General Wingate.

Rothschild added an historical perspective: 'Palestine ... is the only country where the Jews, after 2,000 years, have been able to get back to their business of tilling the soil and living on the land ...' Then he invoked some passion by speaking of Gestapo torture, which explained why the Jews had become desperate for a safe refuge from persecution.

He ended his speech with a back-handed compliment: 'I remember that only a few years ago my grandfather was the first Jew your Lordships allowed to sit in this House, and I therefore felt it my duty to try and explain something of the trials and torments of my co-religionists in Palestine.'

The speech attracted worldwide attention and signalled that Rothschild's war had not ended. He would put the same fervour into setting up Israel as he did in defeating Hitler. This meant he would court the Americans with whom he had built such superb relations during the war. Money and support would come from the powerful Jewish lobby in the US, but Rothschild had not forgotten his contacts in the Kremlin. If they and the Americans backed a Jewish homeland it would more than cancel out British intransigence.

The KGB were hoping that Rothschild could still help them as they geared up their efforts to steal Western bomb intelligence. He was secretly anti-American when it came to their drive to be the biggest military power and, like Oppenheimer, he was keen to do

{p. 155} what he could to create a 'balance of terror', where each of the superpowers had the bomb as a deterrent to each other's aggression. He also still held a strong ideological belief that Socialism should be the dominant system on earth.

One way the Russians could be sure of his help would be if they acceded to his demands about a Jewish homeland. In 1946, he kept lobbying for more refugees to be released from behind the Iron Curtain, and news kept coming in that more than a trickle of Jews were moving across the borders.

{For more on the Atomic Spies see atomic-spies.html}


In 1946, the heavily guarded Los Alamos compound at a secret spot in the desert of New Mexico became a place of confusion as the Manhattan Project fell into limbo for more than a year as scientists tried but failed to bring it under civilian control. This period hampered the KGB's access to secrets as scientists came and went, without leadership and direction. The situation was salvaged when the Atomic Energy Act formed the AEC, which resuscitated the Project, followed by the McMahon Act on 1 August, which put civilian control over the military.

These changes didn't worry the Russians but they were concerned that the new Act would affect all Anglo-American scientific exchanges. Section 10 of the Bill made the distinction between 'basic scientific data', which could be shared with other nations, and 'technical processes', which could not. Only US citizens could have access to 'restricted data' -- information concerned with the use of atomic weapons and the production of fissionable material.

This severely cut the amount of data the British Mission at Los Alamos could access and saw a steady drift of scientists, including Fuchs in 1946, back to research, or academia in Britain. Fuchs had emerged over a five-year period as the key atomic scientist spying for the KGB. He had worked overtime at Los Alamos, helping in as many areas apart from his own speciality as time would allow, and his departure was a major blow to the Russians. The KGB would either have to increase its espionage in the US, or find other ways of obtaining data from the new AEC.

Controls had urgent discussions with their top agents in the US

{p. 156} and Britain. In the US, more was required from the agents coded PERSEUS, BULL, SHOT and TIFF, as well as conduits such as Gold, Greenglass and the Rosenbergs. Amongst the now excluded foreigners, only one, Rothschild, had the flexibility and connections to adjust to the new dilemma. He had used the brilliant ploy of making himself security inspector during the war, now he had to find an excuse to visit Washington and the AEC.

This time, through his friendship with the head of the British Mission, physicist James Chadwick, he had himself appointed as a special liaison with American scientists concerning the development of a dubious new atomic weapon based on releasing radioactive material.

An American scientist had thought of using the radioactivity from the cyclotron - the nuclear accelerator for producing a stream of electrically charged atoms or nuclei travelling at a very high speed - in a bomb. This could destroy the human population of a large city.

Some of the British scientists, such as Oliphant, were against it, but US General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, wanted it to be considered in depth. He ordered Chadwick, Oliphant, Rothschild and others not to say anything in Britain about the possible new bomb in case the discovery became public.

Rothschild was a friend of the Chairman of the AEC, Admiral Lewis Strauss, and made several trips to the US. He combined his liaison work with US scientists, which broadened from the consideration of the hideous new radioactive bomb to fallout in general, with his other roles such as his position on the Anglo-American Commission on Palestine.

Rothschild was given access in his scientific role to major atomic weapons secrets, but he couldn't stay in Washington to monitor AEC-Manhattan Project progress. He hoped to persuade the Americans to ignore or avoid the McMahon Act and to return to the 'spirit of cooperation' engendered between the two nations during the war after the agreements between Churchill and Roosevelt. However, there was a new mood in Washington under President Harry Truman, who was against sharing, not the least because he was suspicious of the new Labour government under Clement Attlee. He was aware of some of the current cabinet members' efforts to improve relations with the British Communist Party before the

{p. 157} war. Truman's appointees at places such as the AEC were of a like mind.

Nevertheless, Rothschild lobbied Strauss concerning the proposed shut-off of US atomic secrets under the McMahon Act. On one visit, Strauss arranged a dinner for him with several other senior military and scientific personnel. Rothschild again raised the subject of exchange of atomic secrets. The Americans became 'edgy'.

Strauss had been quiet on the subject when he suddenly responded in front of the gathering at the end of the dinner:

'Why should we let you have secret inforrnation when you've got Mr John Strachey, a communist, as War Minister?'

Strachey had been a frequent visitor to Bentinck Street during the war and was more than an acquaintance of Burgess and Rothschild.

'So that's what's bothering you,' a stunned Rothschild eventually replied.

'Yes, and you can tell the Prime Minister.'

'I can assure you and everyone else,' Rothschild said, trying to salvage some ground, 'that the information I have will not go to him [Strachey].'

The Americans accepted the assurance, but were not impressed. Rothschild informed Attlee, who addressed his cabinet on the matter, warning them off any association with the Communist Party.

By 1947, not even Rothschild was allowed access to AEC data, although the KGB still had an 'in' via Donald Maclean, who had been appointed as Secretary to the British Delegation on the Combined Policy Committee. The Committee determined the nuclear policy of the US, Britain and Canada in tandem, but as the McMahon Act had thwarted meaningful cooperation on the important secrets, it was a lame duck.

At this point there was a marked lull in top nuclear intelligence coming through to the Centre. Beria was desperate. It didn't seem that the Soviets could deliver the much-desired bomb for Stalin. Beria had instructions and letters sent to scientists such as the Dane, Niels Bohr, who had been helpful before, asking for the latest research data. Bohr sent a message back saying that the Americans had denied him access.

Beria gave instructions to London and Washington that more had to be done. With guidance from Rothschild and others Maclean

{p. 158} could gather 'basic scientific data' from the AEC, such as the type and amount of raw materials used, the weight of bombs, and patents, which were filed in order to legally protect any device or process developed at Los Alamos."

Maclean had been issued by the AEC with a 'permanent pass to the Commissioners' Headquarters'. He made at least twelve visits, five of them at night according to AEC records, between June 1947 and his departure for an appointment in Cairo a year later.

A later AEC damage assessment found he had access to estimates of uranium ore supply and requirement forecasts for the period 1948-52, although these later turned out to be inaccurate.

Pressure on the KGB increased after America's successful tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. They revived Russian fears about their own capacities and Beria began to fret that the Soviet Union would never detonate anything like the American productions. However, in 1947 the indefatigable Fuchs, who was at Britain's atomic research station at Harwell, was able to furnish Beria with refined details of the plutonium route to the bomb, which had first been supplied in principle by Rothschild in 1943.

Fuchs had not originally worked in the plutonium field, but after the explosion of the 'Fat Man' bomb over Nagasaki and his transfer from Birmingham to Los Alamos, he garnered - with Oppenheimer's acquiescence - as much data on the alternative weapon technology as possible. Everyone in the Manhattan Project remembered Fuchs's extraordinary diligence and selflessness in helping out in areas outside his expertise.

By late 1947, Igor Kurchatov, who directed scientific work on the bomb, was so sure that the Russian scientists finally had the technical skills to build the weapon that he took the nuclear charge of the first proposed Soviet atomic bomb - a nickel-plated plutonium ball about ten centimetres in diameter - to Stalin in his study at the Kremlin.

'And how do we know that this is plutonium, not a sparkling piece of iron?' Stalin asked. 'And why this glitter? Why this window dressing?'

'The charge has been nickel-plated so that it would be safe to touch,' Kurchatov replied. 'Plutonium is very toxic, but nickel-plated it's safe.'

Stalin handled it. He noticed its heat.

{p. 159} 'Is it always warm?' he asked. 'It always is,' Kurchatov replied. 'The continuous nuclear reaction of alpha-disintegration is underway inside. It warms up. But we shall excite a powerful fission reaction in it. This will be an explosion of great power.' Stalin was not completely convinced but he later authorized the testing of the first bomb. It was to take until September 1949.

{p. 220} ... connection had to be secret even to the other members of the ring although in reality the Five and others knew who fellow members were. It developed a brotherhood. Rothschild only took this underground camaraderie seriously when the war began.

Every position he had in wartime whether at Porton Down or within MI5, gave him autonomy. While investigating Nazi commercial espionage, he had his own little team. When Guy Liddell took him on in his counter-espionage section at M15, the over-indulged yet deserving Victor - a favourite of Liddell's amongst the brilliant young spies he was commanding - was given his own section, the small yet important counter-sabotage unit. There were just six members at the beginning and Rothschild was boss.

Yet he never shirked his responsibility. The boss was first to risk life and limb. As MI5's security inspector turning up on secret research doorsteps, he worked solo and effectively. With SHAEF on the Allied thrust into the Continent, it was Rothschild who took command of the Ring of Five and even directed the KGB Controls who he had running to Paris to receive espionage data. Rothschild was the dictator of which intelligence should be purloined and from where. The KGB Controls kept their complaints to themselves.

By 1943 Rothschild, the KGB men realized, was indeed a one-off. He, more than any other agent, had the power to collect vital information for the Centre. He and they knew he was in a better position to determine what espionage was useful in the struggle against the Nazis. Yet still he cooperated if what he considered important requests were made.

Not surprisingly, he upset people when he took on the Chairmanship of the Agricultural Research Council in 1948. This was a much bigger, bureaucratic show, where one paid due deference to offficialdom and the pace was slow. He no longer had the pressure and excitement of rushing the Soviets something they should know about a German tank division. There was not even the driving force of a profit motive, which the disdainful young Victor had briefly experienced at N. M. Rothschilds. He had dealt with the slow grind of the civil service and government institutions before, but not from the inside as at the ARC, which he thought was an apt acronym.

Rothschild, as everyone from his wife to his various intelligence networks knew, liked to get things done by the fierce and energetic

{p. 221} application of reason and logic, which he was certain was the solution to all problems. It could apply to defusing a complicated bomb, or understanding the making of a nuclear weapon, or the mechanics of reproduction. He worked best on his own, and found fellow human beings occasionally difficult and often not governed by the laws of physics. They had ideas, admittedly often moribund and unimaginative ones compared to his, but minor intellectual inspirations nevertheless. These people would insist on airing their views or voicing opinions. If they were irrelevant to the way he wanted to go, he would ride roughshod over them. Former employees at ARC recalled that Rothschild was 'impatient', 'insensitive' and, on occasions, 'intimidating'.

Some claimed he treated people like fools unless they could prove they were not. When they could not present evidence to the contrary, he would not suffer them. This upset and angered subordinates and colleagues.

'He would do drastic things without consultation,' an ARC executive recalled. 'He could be very persistent in trying to get his own way even against the majority of the Council. The Secretary, Sir William Slater, found him a great trial, interfering in things that were in the realm of management, not policy.'

At heart, Rothschild was more an active governor or manager, not a policy-maker floating above the action and destined to create guidelines and stay aloof.

Whether he appreciated it or not he was trapped in areas that didn't suit him. He certainly understood that after twenty years his clandestine world, the extent of which only he knew, was still the field that extended his mind and diverse skills more than any other. This was because his espionage work was linked with survival, which had been his motivation during the war and after, when he was helping create and defend Israel. Consciously or unconsciously, Rothschild was dinging to the secret world for succour, and the intermittent sense of achievement, which he craved.


Months after Israel was formed, Rothschild was involved with Chaim Weizmann in setting up a special nuclear physics department

{p. 222} in a scientific institute in Rehovoth. The establishment was named after Weizmann, the nation's first president and himself a distinguished biochemist.

Its aim even in those heady days of 1948 was to build nuclear weapons for Israel. It became the nation's best kept secret and the most fervent desire of the new nation's founders. They never wanted their race to be threatened with another Holocaust. Atomic weapons would be the ultimate deterrent to future Hitlers.

Yet when the idea for an Israeli bomb was first conceived, the Soviet Union was still a year away from its own first trial blast. The Russians were expecting to detonate, literally after seven years hard labour, when it should have taken perhaps a century of normal research. They had thrown enormous resources, thousands of scientists and strong spy networks at the problem. Israel would have to copy that approach from a standing start. It had limited resources and a trickle of Jewish technicians. But it did have espionage networks.

The dream of an Israeli bomb was ambitious indeed, but it spurred Rothschild to keep abreast of all things nuclear so he could pass on data to the Weizmann Institute, which was planning a nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev Desert. Under a modified guise of concern about the spread and dangers of nuclear weapons, he was able to keep contact with appropriate scientists around the world. He began this official and legitimate process at the end of the Second World War by becoming an expert on fallout, which allowed him to monitor the Manhattan project. He continued in the 1950s, even on occasions attending informal conferences on controlling nuclear weapons held by leading British atomic scientists, who were beginning to comprehend and assess their creation.

The Dane, Niels Bohr, had stimulated consciences post-war by arguing that nuclear matters belonged to an 'open world', with which the Russians - desperate to build a nuclear arsenal - agreed wholeheartedly. He had plenty of support from the scientific community in the US too, but Washington was never going to support 'the free interchange of ideas' with those dangerous Russians, even if it had nothing to do with detail about bomb technology.

{But the US Government did make such a committment in the 1946 Baruch Plan: baruch-plan.html}

Bohr's idea was taken up by mathematician and philosopher, Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein and the British Atomic Scientists

{p. 223} Association, many of whose members Rothschild knew well. They set up their first conference at Pugwash, Nova Scotia, in 1955.

Rothschild assiduously kept contact with the key organizers so that his involvement always seemed natural.

Correspondence with Russell in early 1955 was typical:

Dear Russell, I would like to present the manuscript of your recent broadcast dealing with the Hydrogen Bomb to Trinity. Can you suggest any way in which I might acquire it? Yours Sincerely, Rothschild

The so-called Pugwash Conferences emerged as the scientists' response to the arms race between the US, USSR, China, Britain and France, and the dangers of fallout.

Scientists from twenty-two nations turned up and problems concerned with peace and the impact of atomic weapons on humankind were discussed. Rothschild later floated ideas about how to harness the nuclear genie for 'peaceful purposes' and not war. He urged the idea of breeder reactors for energy, of which he was a long-term supporter. What he avoided mentioning was the ease with which breeder reactors could be adapted to extract weapons-grade nudear fuel.

Everything he learnt ended up at the Weizmann Institute, which was in part his creation. (His secret support of it with information and finance was rewarded publicly in 1962 when he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute.)

Rothschild was not a technician like Klaus Fuchs. He could not create the weaponry for Israel. But he could inform its Intelligence leaders (with whom he was very dose as an important, secret member of Mossad) which scientists might be helpful, where the available technology might be and how it might be obtained and funded.

The Israelis sounded out several possibilities. In 1956, Shimon Peres, then director of the Defence Ministry under Moshe Dayan, had many meetings with ministers in Guy Mollet's French socialist government as they prepared for the Suez Canal operation. The French, British and Israelis planned to wrest back the Canal from President Nasser of Egypt, who had nationalized it.

{p. 224} Peres first gained the trust of the French, then he struck a deal with Defence Minister, Bourges Maunoury. In return for Israel's help over the Suez Canal, in which it would make the initial attack on Egyptian defences, the French promised to consider supplying nuclear plants at Dimona. Israel carried out its part at Suez, and fortuitously Maunoury replaced Mollet as prime minister. Maunoury and his foreign minister signed a top-secret agreement with Peres and Asher Ben-Natan, a Mossad agent at Israel's Defence Ministry.

In it, the French promised to supply a powerful 24-megawatt reactor, the technical know-how to run it, and some uranium. The secret deal was only known to about a dozen individuals, induding Rothschild, and with good reason. The fine print of the document allowed for the inclusion of equipment which would permit the Israelis to produce weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

In 1957, French engineers began building the two-storey reactor facility at Dimona on the edge of the Negev Desert, which secretly went down six levels below ground. The subterranean construction would be the place where nuclear weapons would be built. With several Mossad officers in attendance, the engineers also dug an 80-foot deep crater in the sand. In it they buried Machon 2 - a unit which would allow the Israelis to extract weapons grade plutonium, the fuel for the bomb.

{When Mordecai Vanunu revealed Israel's nuclear weapons, Shimon Peres ordered Mossad to arrest him; he was jailed for 18 years: vanunu.html}


In July 1955, Peter Wright joined MI6 as the agency's first full-time scientist at a starting salary of £1700. ...

{p. 225} By 1955, British Intelligence needed to be dragged into the scientific age as espionage was rapidly moving beyond the straight human skills of thieving, agent-running and watdhing.

Wright was chosen to facilitate the change, cautiously. But he ran into problems of background, attitude, class, style and ignorance. He was a technocrat, the first at MI5, and this generated suspicion. Wright had power over the gadgetry, the new-fangled devices of the Intelligence war. For men who hitherto had considered even the secretary's typewriter a mystery, there were inherent difficulties in learning the new technology, whidh in the 1950s was as much scorned as feared.

At first, the new man didn't really seem to have hardened political allegiances, whidh was also a worry for those around him. He knew little about politics and cared less ...

{p. 248} ... MI5 had limited resources and the gesture seemed generous to Wright.

'Rothschild was fascinated by my plans for the scientific modernization of MI5,' Wright recalled, and admitted being particularly garrulous in his company. '[He] offered me many suggestions of his own.'

After dinner they talked until late into the night.

'I soon realized that he possessed an enormous appetite for the gossip and intrigue of the secret world,' Wright said, ' and we were soon swapping stories about some of the more bizarre colleagues he remembered from the war.'

Rothschild was in full charm mode from the beginning with Wright, whose deference to his friendly lordship left him gullible and open to manipulation. Wright came away 'feeling for the first time that, with his backing, great achievements were possible.'

This demonstrated Rothschild's pervasive influence from outside British Intelligence, thirteen years after he had officially left MI5. The Intelligence services' key scientist in the now dominant technowar could only look forward to continuing achievement, developing operations using modern techniques, if Rothschild supported him.

Wright looked up to him, not only socially but professionally and intellectually. He was also in awe of his subtle power and influence:

'I doubt I have ever met a man who impressed me as much as Victor Rothschild,' he commented in Spycatcher. 'He is a brilliant scientist, a Fellow of the Royal Society, with expertise in botany and zoology, and a fascination for the structure of spermazotoa. But he has been much, much more than a scientist. His contacts, in politics, in intelligence, in banking, in the Civil Service, and abroad are legendary. There are few threads in the seamless robe of the British Establishment which have not passed at some time or other through the eye of the Rothschild needle.'

Wright was very proud of the relationship. It showed that he was not neglected by the amorphous establishment after all. On the contrary, one of the greatest amongst its ranks was fulsome in his recognition of the scientist's skills. He was even patronizing him and willing to become friends.

It gave Wright a certain sense of his own importance and power. He could pick up the phone to the high and the mighty and say

{p. 249} with increasing confidence, 'Victor ... er ... Lord Rothschild said I should speak with you.'

Rothschild also showed he was a man of action as well as talk by putting some Shell laboratories at MI5's disposal, which made everyone happy. The meagre MI5 budget was augmented by Shell's generosity, and Rothschild was able to keep abreast of everything MI5 was doing.

He went further and began work himself on 'a variety of technical developments, including a special grease which would protect equipment if it was buried underground for long periods'.

The grease was developed. British Intelligence used it 'extensively' as they did other of Rothschild's inventions. Not only was he aware of and knowledgeable on everything from British Intelligence bugging techniques to surveillance operations, he was creating the technology himself and overseeing many new developments.


Rothschild went further in his lordly patronage of Wright. He had kept abreast of nuclear weapons progress in Britain and was a close friend of Sir William Cook, then the deputy head of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE). He suggested that Wright should approach Cook for resources.

'His well-timed lobbying made my visit much easier,' an evergrateful Wright remarked.

Wright told Cook of his approach to counter-espionage, which was to develop technical ways of attacking Soviet spy communications. Communications were the only vulnerable point in an agent's cover, because he had to send and receive messages to and from his controller.

Wright said in Spycatcher

'I explained to Cook that Rafter already provided us with the most valuable weapon of all - an entree into Russian radio communications - but that we urgently needed new techniques to attack their physical methods of communications as well, such as secret writing, microdots, and dead letter drops. Progress on these would vastly improve our chances of counter-espionage success.'

{p. 250} Cook responded by providing MI5 with thirty people at AWRE including top scientists, and resources. AWRE paid for everything for two years before the UK Defence Research Policy Committee took over the funding.

This example demonstrates Rothschild's power to instigate developments which embraced so many people and resources that it hid his action as the trigger of the expanded activity. Yet with his great capacity and passion for absorbing all matters scientific, he kept intellectually on top of all these new activities.

AWRE's people devised four programmes. The first was a chemical agent which used radioactivity to detect any secret writing. Secondly, AWRE produced a neutron activation process for detecting microdots - photographs which were reduced to microscopic size, making them virtually invisible and easily concealed under stamps, on top of punctuation marks in typed letters, or under the lips of envelopes.

The third programme encompassed a counter to the success of dead letter drops - so called because instead of dangerous face-to-face meetings, an agent could leave espionage material in containers in, for instance, a tree trunk, where it would be picked up later by the receiving spy.

The KGB treated their containers so they could tell if they had been tampered with by MI5. AWRE came up with a special X-ray technique, which allowed MI5 to inspect containers without tampering with them and fogging unexposed film inside.

The fourth programme caused ecstasy among MI5's buggers. It developed an X-ray method of reading safe combinations from the inside which, according to Wright, 'gave MI5 potential access to every safe in Britain.' Thanks to Rothschild the KGB knew of every development and were able to take steps to counter them. Furthermore, they used the technology themselves against Western agents.

MI5 inventions and technical advances went on, while Rothschild kept in contact with the key figures and digested the reports. This, coupled with his close contact with Dick White, other intelligence chiefs, Wright and the heads of the key research facilities in everything from weapons to radar, meant that Rothschild understood better than anyone in MI6 or MI5 every aspect of British Intelligence, from technical developments to their application in the field.

{p. 251} By comparison, Roger Hollis, MI5's head, had the power of veto on operations but he did not comprehend the detail of the technology or its application. He would have known when, where and why an operation was being run, but would have had little knowledge of how. Hollis's attention to them would have been at times scant, given his key function as an administrator. Even then, according to most, he was at best a competent paper shuffler.

He was not atypical of the underwhelming civil servants in the British bureaucracy, who had risen to prominence due to diligence rather than talent. His background - Oxford undergraduate, with a serviceable, unspectacular intelligence record - rather than his brilliance had seen him rise with little trace to a top job, which really needed someone as safe but with more intellect and flair. The same limitations applied to Graham Mitchell, Hollis's deputy, although he was sharper and more cunning than his boss.

Rothschild made a point of keeping strong contacts with them both, so that if he was in the MI5 building, seeing Peter Wright or someone else, it would seem natural. There were many ex-service officers who visited the offices from time to time, but never with the frequency and interest of Rothschild.

His role was unique in the annals of British Intelligence, and he was welcomed as a VlP, a vital friend with the whiff of power, money and influence, always used to the good of the Secret Service.

It was an overwhelming front, used creatively during the war when research facilities opened up to him unquestioningly. After all, he was a peer of the realm, a man of enormous wealth, great intellect and at times an imperious manner which if anything boosted his overall image.

From the doorman to the director, everyone showed the highest respect to the busy lord, who often seemed to be in a rush from a meeting in Whitehall or the Bank, or on his way to Cambridge.

Until 1962, little Rothschild did was questioned. He had information, access and the best understanding of the espionage war of anyone, including Wright. The scientist may have known as much about what was going on in the research laboratories, although even this is doubtful. Rothschild himself was creating and directing some of it at Shell.

Yet Rothschild also knew the information that counted, which Wright would never be privy to. This was the vital data, including

{p. 252} secrets, discussed at the top of the Establishment in clubs and at dinners held by Rothschild and his peers.

This information on the espionage demi-monde would filter down to Wright only if it were necessary. The data in question was not only concerned with this operation against the Russians or that versus the French. It might be about a new appointment, the cutting of a budget, the boosting of another and the power-plays in politics and business, all of which affected the shape and destiny of British Intelligence.

Everything of importance was passed on to Sir Anthony Blunt for consumption inside the Soviet Embassy and the Centre in Moscow. He had not been entirely above suspicion since the Burgess/Maclean defections, but nevertheless he had near-impeccable credentials as the Queen's art surveyor and expert. What's more, Her Majesty liked him. He had been a favourite of her father's and he had done an important service for the Royals during the war.

It all added up to Blunt having an excellent cover. Even though his own direct spying days were over, he was still an important conduit for others and the KGB could rely on him. It meant that the Controls had steady, fast access to the important operational secrets.

Over a period of time, Wright began to notice that every single counter-espionage operation run against the Soviets was failing. He began to wonder why.

{p. 253} In mid-December 1961, a stocky, Ukrainian-born KGB major defected in Finland and set up a chain of events which would eventually lead to exposure of the complete Ring of Five. Anatoli Golitsyn was not running for ideological reasons. He had been caught in a typical Soviet Embassy power struggle between the Ambassador and the KGB Resident. Golitsyn had sided with the Ambassador, who had lost the battle. Golitsyn thought he might be murdered, so he defected with his family and was happily accepted by the CIA.

The KGB major was in such a hurry that he departed empty-handed, with no files or stolen documents. But the determined, tough son of a peasant carried much information in his head. He doled enough out to the CIA to encourage them, particularly Angleton, to persevere with him. The head of counter-intelligence was most interested to hear what he had to say about a Ring of Five spies recruited in Britain in the 1930s. This was the first confirmation from Russia of rumours circulating in the West since the Burgess/ Maclean defections in 1951 that there was a Cambridge Ring of Five Soviet agents.

Golitsyn claimed they were close to each other, close enough to know that each had been recruited by the Comintern as dedicated, secret communist agents. The bonding had made them a formidable combination.

Golitsyn could give no names, except that one of them was codenamed STANLEY and had been connected with recent KGB operations in the Middle East. It stunned Angleton. Philby was in Beirut at the time working for the Observer.

{p. 254} 'Jim had been pondering the subject of Philby's betrayal since 1951,' former CIA operative 'I' claimed. 'I would say that he had at first rejected the idea and then had gradually, slowly come round to the idea that Kim could have been a traitor. But it was hard [for Angleton], very tough. Not just because he had looked up to him and had been trained by him. Jim was one very proud Chicano. To have been conned like that was not palatable. Now there was a pretty goddamn strong indicator that Philby was a traitor.'

It preyed on Angleton's mind. He began to wonder about others he had met in London in 1944 and 1945.

'He had a little list,' the CIA man recalled. 'It was the other suspects among the British.'

Was Rothschild on that list?

'He wouldn't show the list to anyone. But he was already suspicious of Rothschild. He had first annoyed Jim on his patch. Jim had special connections with Israel and he felt the British [Intelligence] through Rothschild were interfering. He had the same doubts about Philby that he had about Rothschild. They never uttered sentiments [one way or the other] about the communists.'

Angleton also took note of Rothschild's maverick attitude and subsequent behaviour in dealing with Israel. In the 1940s it ran contrary to British interests. He was serving two masters with a conflict of interest: MI5 and Mossad. If he was capable of serving two, could he secretly serve a third?

'Jim worried about Israel's left-wing politics when it was formed. He was concerned that some of the British agents [including Rothschild] had been happy with that. But not Jim. He wanted them to be a wholesome [laughs] anti-communist US satellite. That took a little time [laughs].'

Angleton let British Intelligence know of Golitsyn's revelations. He encouraged them to investigate further.

'The Philby and Blunt cases were exhumed,' Peter Wright recalled, 'and a reassessment ordered. MI5 and MI6 came quickly to the conclusion on the basis of the new leads that Philby was the Third Man.'

British Intelligence was abuzz with the new data. Meetings were held. Key MI5 people like Dick White were keen to move against Philby immediately. It soon became a matter of not if but when something would be done. But the Intelligence chiefs and their

{p. 255} masters in Whitehall decided as early as February 1962, that Philby would not be charged.

Instead he would be offered immunity in exchange for disclosing all. It was thought that it would be far better to interrogate him in depth to drain from him as much information about the KGB as possible. He would have been the best placed of all foreign spies to explain Soviet operations abroad. According to a former senior MI6 offficer:

'If he didn t accept that [immunity], the general feeling was that it would be better if he defected, though the former was preferable to the latter. We had kept such situations quiet before. The last thing we wanted was a scandal.'

Former KGB Colonel 'F' was in agreement:

'Philby was a major prize for them [MI6]. We were informed that they wanted very much to question him, but without fuss without trouble.'

Philby and his biographer, Phillip Knightley, considered it more likely that British Intelligence wanted to engineer his defection:

'My view, and that of my superiors in Moscow,' the spy told the writer, 'is that the whole thing was deliberately staged so as to push me into escaping, because the last thing the British government wanted at that time was me in London, a security scandal and a sensational trial.'

Modin agreed with this assessment. 'They didn't want him back,' he told me adamantly. 'The publicity would have been damaging to MI6. The Government would have been in trouble.'

It was a difficult time. George Blake, another of Modin's former agents working for MI6, had been arrested and charged under the UK Offficial Secrets Act. Blake confessed, was tried at the Old Bailey and given a forty-two-year jail sentence, the longest term ever imposed under English law. The British Government would have been upset by another public airing of the poor security in British Intelligence, especially as Philby was a far bigger operator, and someone viewed as part of the ruling class. It would have been a severe embarrassment for Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who seven years earlier had announced that Philby was not the Third Man. He would be made to appear either a liar or unable to control British Intelligence if Philby now confessed.

Early in 1962, there were also calls in Whitehall for an inquiry into

{p. 256} MI5's failure to detect another spy, John Vassall, at the Admiralty. Fleet Street was making matters worse by catching spymania.

Under instruction from editors, journalists were looking for any new angle on espionage, no matter how thin or hoary the story. They were picking up on rumours and scurrilous tales such as the one about the senior member of the Cabinet who was sharing a girlfriend with a Russian from the Soviet Embassy. In fact, it was later discovered that this triangle involved John Profumo, Secretary of State for War, Christine Keeler and GRU officer Yevgeny Ivanov, whose cover was Soviet Assistant Naval Attache.

It all added up to the KGB having the luxury of time to examine its options and cover the tracks that might lead to the Fourth and Fifth men, should Philby defect. According to several sources in the KGB, MI6 and the CIA, Modin planned and executed the whole operation.

Although Modin admitted a 'knowledge' of what was happening, he refused to speak of his involvement. It was 'a KGB operation matter' he couldn't discuss. Yet fellow officers, Colonel 'D' and Colonel 'F', were less reticent.

'He lectured about defection [at the Andropov Institute in Moscow in the 1980s],' Colonel 'D' recalled. 'While he never mentioned his own part [in the Philby affair], he seemed to be an expert. It is unlikely that the Centre would have given that [operation] to anyone else. Modin had been the Control for the Five. They knew and trusted each other.'

In fact, Modin travelled to Beirut in May 1962 to warn Philby via the local Control of the evidence against him and to explain that a decision not to prosecute had been made.

How were the Fourth and Fifth men involved?

'They were the two left in the ring. He [Modin] couldn't just leave them without some contingency.'

Colonel 'F' suggested that Blunt was again asked if he wished to defect. But the KGB still couldn't offer him access to the Palais de Versailles.

'We wanted to know how he felt now,' he said. 'It was a decade since he had refused to leave with Burgess and Maclean. But he was sure, still. He would stay in London and face the situation.'

And the Fifth Man?

{p. 257} 'He was not directly under suspicion. I don't believe there had been any thought of him defecting.'

But the KGB still had to cover the Fifth Man's tracks or create an alibi for him, something that would put him above suspicion at a critical time. Modin was in touch with Rothschild and a scheme was hatched.

It was also decided that Rothschild, who had been monitoring the attitude to Philby by talking to Dick White, Hollis and Wright, was to get a message to Philby warning him that British Intelligence were prevaricating over his fate. He should be prepared to face interrogation and make contingency plans for escape. However, Rothschild was to make it clear that Moscow preferred he stay in place for as long as possible. Defection was to be a last resort.


In August 1962, a few months after British Intelligence planned to move against Philby but not put him on trial, Rothschild was in Rehovoth, Israel. He made contact with a fellow Mossad agent, who was despatched to Beirut to contact Philby and brief him on the latest attitude of White and Hollis towards him. They were now planning to interrogate him in Beirut. He would probably be offered immunity in exchange for a full confession.

Rothschild was visiting the Weizmann Institute, to take part in a ceremony at which he was made an Honorary Fellow. He went to a party at Weizmann's house afterwards and met Flora Solomon, 'a Russian emigre Zionist' and former friend of Philby's, who was an executive at department store group, Marks and Spencer. She had introduced Kim to Aileen and had been a witness at her wedding.

'She had obviously been in the thick of things in the mid-1930s,' Wright recalled, 'part inspiration, part fellow accomplice, and part courier for the fledgling Ring of Five, along with her friends Litzi Philby, and Edith Tudor Hart.'

Now Solomon and Rothschild were claiming that she had come forward to denounce Philby. The reason? Philby's pieces in the Observer about Israel. She was saying that their anti-Israel slant had 'angered' her.

{p. 276} ... like an American might take the Fifth Amendment. They said, "Yes thank you very much", and then proceeded to hide behind the arrangement by confessing absolutely nothing - except that they might have known someone from the Comintern during university days, or that they had once been members of the Party.

'This way, if the connections ever became public they could say with impunity: "There was never a shred of evidence that I was ever a Soviet agent."'

Rothschild appeared to have been in the second group. He was interrogated eleven times.

Commenting much later, he said:

I was questioned very extensively. The authorities, as I call them, said that they wished to talk to me and they talked in quite a friendly way.

I have a feeling that they believed in me. I was quite happy to tell them everything I knew. We had a very long talk. I was quite happy to tell them how well I knew Burgess and Blunt. I have no recollection [of] anyone asking me if I was a Soviet agent and it would have been naive for a professional interrogator to do that. I think they were more interested in who were my friends. I know all sorts of people who were questioned in the same way. I know people of great distinction, greater distinction, who were also questioned. All sorts of people. There really was an investigation. And I don't object to that. You have to help your country and I think all the people concerned did that.

According to former MI6 agent James Rusbridger, Peter Wright and another MI5 source, Rothschild was fed information in 1962, which ended up 'in the wrong place' - namely with the KGB inside the Soviet Embassy in London. This did not prove he had spied, for the data just conceivably could have been stolen from him. Yet it raised suspicions. However, Rothschild still managed to convince people that he and Tess were victims by association. Their friends Guy, Anthony, Kim, Michael, Leo and so on, with whom they dined, drank, studied, lived and worked, had duped them.

So believable was Rothschild that his links with MI5 in 1964 did not diminish. In fact, while Blunt took the brunt of the on-going inquisition, and others were hounded, transferred to unclassified work, even forced into suicide, Rothschild intensified his MI5 connections, as if he were making amends for ill-advised, always innocent past friendships.

{p. 277} The first day Wright took over the interrogation of Blunt from Martin, his tape recorder broke down. He knelt to thread the loose tape spool which had jammed it.

Blunt remarked to Martin: 'Isn't it fascinating to watch a technical expert do his stuff?"

Blunt had never met Wright before and was supposed to know nothing about him. The remark told Wright instantly that someone had briefed him about his new inquisitor. According to KGB sources, it would most likely have been the Fifth Man.

'Who else would it have been?' Colonel 'F' remarked. 'He was a friend, still in contact, and the Fifth Man was the only one of the ring left unexposed. Logically he would have been concerned to help Blunt.

It added to Wright's confusion as he began a monthly questioning of Blunt. Each session drifted into drunken reminiscences and the interrogator walked away with nothing, except well-honed disinformation. Blunt was surviving where Philby had feared to tread. He was fortified by the knowledge that he would never be charged and secretly informed by the Fifth Man of every reaction by Wright.

His work at the Courtauld and the Palace continued, allowing him to keep his respected public status, and sustaining his air of superiority.

It added to Wright's perturbation. Not only were his technical operations against the Russians a failure but he could not elicit the vital information from Blunt that would have directed MI5 to the Fifth Man. Frustration led to anger and a growing desperation to find someone, anyone that would even vaguely fit the profile of the mystery mole within.

Wright's initial, unauthorized investigations failed to find any

{p. 278} evidence remotely connecting Graham Mitchell, Hollis's deputy, to the Soviets. Furtive eyes began to turn towards Hollis himself. Meanwhile, spurred on by Philby's duplicity, the CIA and MI5 turned their attention from deeply burrowed moles to witches.

If they couldn't find Soviet agents inside British Intelligence, why not look outside? The ensuing witchhunt even pointed to the new socialist prime minister, Harold Wilson.

In the US, Angleton's disappointment over his former friend Philby's betrayal had led to a determination to exact revenge. He would help, push, even force British Intelligence into divulging or disgorging other key spies. If Angleton couldn't have Philby himself he could still thwart and destroy KGB aims, which he saw as the vanguard for attempted Soviet world domination.

Angleton worried about Wilson with his Fabian Society membership, his trade deals with the Soviets and, in the CIA man's eyes, his strange assortment of Eastern European emigre businessmen friends. These factors added up to the absurd rumour that Wilson might be a Soviet agent.

Angleton and Wright's continuing rapport was based on an increasingly common goal. When they met on either side of the Atlantic, they fuelled each other's doubts, fears, paranoias and complexes, which ranged from superiority over their enemies to inferiority about their backgrounds.

The American often asked about Rothschild and Wright obliged by talking about his great companion. Angleton could never be convinced about him. His suspicions grew.

'He could never get over Victor's closeness to Philby, Blunt and Burgess,' Wright told me in a 1988 discussion. 'I tried to reassure him but the same doubts surfaced. He would tick off a list of links ... This included Cambridge, his, shall we say, quiet membership of the Communist Party in the 1930s ... he was an Apostle, he had [Soviet] agent friends, and so on.'

Rothschild managed to partly allay those doubts by alleging, for instance, that he supported the Shah in Iran in 1953. Furthermore, his work for Mossad drew him on occasions close to Angleton, who had encouraged close ClA-Mossad links. In fact, at one point in the 1960s, the American was so keen to keep British Intelligence out of his cozy US/lsrael intelligence link that he complained to Wright's superiors about his closeness to Rothschild.

{p. 279} In 1964, Rothschild told Angleton an Israeli agent had 'hinted' that Wilson could be a Russian agent. Wright remembered Rothschild telling him something similar but couldn't recall if it were in 1964 or later. Rothschild was busy deflecting scrutiny from himself by spreading unfounded innuendo. The fact that Wilson was a Socialist gave the rumour greater credence.

'Victor didn't seem to have much time for Wilson,' a former business colleague recalled. 'It may have been because Wilson was seen as a "soft" liberal and not a tough enough Socialist. Victor liked his Socialism undiluted. He was interventionist in his mentality and much influenced if not by Marx, then Keynes. He wanted govemments to step in and take charge to stimulate the economy and achieve things. He was an ideas man, who liked to see them come to fruition. It didn't seem to matter if the state or a corporation was involved.'

A far-fetched conspiracy theory emerged from the Israeli source. Wilson had taken over the Labour Party leadership after the former right-wing leader, Hugh Gaitskell, had been murdered by the KGB. Gaitskell had died from a rare tropical disease - Lupus disseminata erythematosis, or something like it. After discussing it with Rothschild, Wright checked with scientists at Porton Down, who had been working on quick-action biological toxins, which could be used for assassination.

Wright then asked Angleton to comb all Russian medical literature to see if there were any mention of the disease. Angleton sent him a translation of an article in a 1956 Moscow journal: A drughydralazine - had produced Lupus-like effects in rats. Porton Down scientists informed Wright that the Russians could have refined it to a one-shot drug, but it seemed unlikely. The inane conspiracy theory fizzled, but only fired the Angleton/Wright desire to score a victory in the real or imagined intelligence war with the KGB.

So far both men had been outsmarted by their Soviet agent counterparts. ...

{p. 284} The report, predictably, was highly critical of British security. It recommended a greater US presence to ensure its secrets were better protected. Hollis was attacked for failing to implerr~ent effective counter-espionage.

It seemed that the CIA was looking at Britain as it did every other country from Iran to Vietnam. In order to create a political climate suitable to US interests, the CIA would bolster its local station, take control of the local secret police, use espionage and other methods to remove hostile politicians, and replace them with puppets. Hollis was so enraged by this American interference that he approved Wright's own ideas for strengthened MI5 counter-intelligence operations, which partially thwarted the CIA takeover. Wright also placated Angleton by convincing him that when Hollis retired at the end of 1965, he would be replaced by a suitable hawk - Martin Furnival Jones.

Consequently, Wright's power was elevated. He had a stronger counter-intelligence operation and less opposition to his forceful, obsessive and maverick ways. He decided to investigate Soviet rings at Oxford and in the scientific community, particularly at Cambridge's Cavendish laboratories. He became interested in Peter Kapitza. As usual, Wright turned to Rothschild for help. He knew Kapitza and it was important for him to cover his links to him. Rothschild organized a dinner party so that Wright could meet Lord Adrian, Cambridge University's Chancellor and President of the Royal Society.

Wright was overawed. At the party he was able to 'guide him gently on to the subject of the Russian scientist."

Adrian recalled Kapitza, for whom he had a high regard, but did not have a clue about espionage. It was not his field. He gave Wright the names of people who had worked with Kapitza.

'More names for my black books,' Wright noted wearily in Spycatcher. 'More names to be checked in the registry. More names to be traced, interviewed, assessed, cleared, and in one or two cases, removed from access [to classified material].'

{p. 285} In reality, no one was removed from any major British project. No spies were caught. Rothschild's diversion had sent Wright up another score of back alleys leading nowhere, except into the espionage wilderness. The ever grateful Wright was thankful to Rothschild for his introductions to an Establishment figure. He would mark it down as another example of his friend doing the patriotic thing.


Also in 1965, Rothschild was elevated to director of Shell International, and he acted as research coordinator for the Royal Dutch Shell Group. In short, he had taken charge of all Shell research whether it be for the Dutch, which owned 60 per cent of the group, or the British.

It allowed him to roam the world and was convenient as a cover, when he needed it in the Middle East or even China, where his agent-running took on an intensity with the build-up to the Cultural Revolution.

His secret work for Dick White and MI6 included running agents who were monitoring political events and the mood of Chairman Mao and his administration. As the Russians were even more nervous than the British and Americans about China's intentions concerning military expansion and weapons development, it's most likely that Rothschild's assessments of events would have been passed to the Moscow Centre. But Wright linked Rothschild to a bizarre plot that may have been based on some fact. Wright claimed to dose confidants that by the early 1960s the Chinese had frightened the Russians and the Americans with their development of nuclear and biological weapons, which they seemed willing to use. Chairman Mao Zedong had told India's Nehru in the late 1950s that nuclear war would be no bad thing. Even if half of mankind perished, the other half would survive and imperialism would vanish from the face of the earth.

The KGB knew the extent of Chinese germ warfare research, partly because it had given some of the technology to them. Furthermore, the Chinese had taken over a huge biological weapons

{p. 286} centre at Harbin, Northern Manchuria, which had been run by the Japanese during the Second World War. Japanese doctors and scientists had used POWs as guinea pigs in hideous experiments, which rivalled those in Nazi concentration camps.

Now Chinese scientists had begun experimenting. According to Wright's wild theory, the Asian and Hong Kong flu viruses in the 1960s were part of that experimentation.

This, the strange story continued, caused alarm in sections of the CIA and KGB. They then combined to run agents in China who encouraged Mao to purge the intellectual class, which would include the key scientists, particularly in the area of biological weaponry. Mao was apparently convinced that he could be murdered by 'a drop of invisible poison on his skin'.

In fact, the KGB and the CIA did draft in more Chinese experts and built up their Embassies in Beijing. The numbers increased further in 1966 at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, when Mao unleashed unprecedented terror across China. He stirred the youth of the country into forming Red Guards who were encouraged to root out 'bourgeois and revisionist tendencies'.

If the KGB did encourage the Cultural Revolution, the plan backfired on them a year later when families of Soviet diplomats and KGB of ficers were manhandled as they tried to escape at Beijing airport. However, during the terror, 'intellectuals' - which meant anyone qualified and working in a major university - became targets for assassination. About 50,000 of them were killed, including those working in important scientific research and development, such as biological weaponry. Mao boasted about this, comparing himself to previous emperors, who had butchered intellectuals.

But was this part of a combined CIA/KGB project? Such operations are known to have occurred in a very low-key way over the decades. Yet I found no evidence to support Wright's erratic claims.

However, KGB personnel - including Modin - did have something to celebrate with their CIA counterparts in October 1993. During our Moscow interviews in July and August 1993, Modin told me he was flying to Washington 'soon' for a 'get together' with CIA agents. I was in correspondence in September with him asking follow-up questions. He replied in one letter from Washington DC. The unusual rendezvous of supposed 'enemies' was, according to a CIA source, to celebrate a 'joint operation', yet its nature was

{p. 287} not specified. Whether it concerned the prevention of China's advances in germ warfare is speculation.

Wright did not elaborate on Rothschild's or Modin's links to the Cultural Revolution, although both of them were agent-running in China at the time.

The only other thread which could be remotely connected was the expertise that both Rothschild and Wright had in biological and chemical weapons. Rothschild had built up a vast knowledge since the late 1930s, particularly from Porton Down in 1940, where he garnered much for the Russians.

'The whole area of chemical research was an active field in the 1950s,' Wright wrote. 'I was cooperating with MI6 in a joint programme to investigate how far hallucinatory drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) could be used in interrogations, and extensive trials took place at Porton. I even volunteered as guinea pig on one occasion. Both MI5 and MI6 also wanted to know a lot more about the advanced poisons then being developed at Porton, though for different reasons. I wanted the antidotes, in case the Russians used a poison on a defector in Britain, while MI6 wanted to use the poisons for operations abroad.'

Wright was at one stage the only British Intelligence operative who had quick access to antidotes for various poisons.

He was at least indirectly involved in plots to assassinate foreign leaders as he pointed out in Spycatcher:

'[Two MI6 agents] both discussed with me the use of poisons against Nasser, and asked my advice,' Wright said matter-of-factly. 'Nerve gas obviously presented the best possibility, since it was easily administered. They told me that the London Station had an agent in Egypt with limited access to one of Nasser's headquarters. Their plan was to place canisters of nerve gas inside the ventilation system, but I pointed out that this would require large quantities of the gas, and would result in massive loss of life among Nasser's staff.'

According to Wright, Prime Minister Anthony Eden, who had first called for Nasser's assassination, later 'backed away from the operation'.

The remarks, however, demonstrate the mind-set within sections of British Intelligence. Sources close to Wright claim it wasn't the only time he was involved in plots to kill with such weaponry.

{p. 288} Six months after Philby arrived in Moscow he was well into his debriefing by KGB agents when he received word that a person from the Centre who was important to his career would be coming to the apartment to meet him. Philby thought it might be former KGB Chairman, Alexandr Shelepin (1958-62) and hoped it would not be 'cold-blooded' Ivan Serov (Chairman 1954-58), who was hated throughout the KGB. He was nervous with anticipation. ...

No car pulled up at the central Moscow apartment. There was a knock at the door. A tall, handsome man of about forty was standing there. Philby's face dropped. It wasn't a KGB chief, but nevertheless

{p. 289} an important figure in his professional life as he had been forewarned.

'I'm Yuri Modin,' the man said, with a grin. 'You know me as "Peter", I think.' ...

Modin continued to give his former star agent assignments, from political pieces for Russian magazines, which the Control enjoyed translating, to reports advising the KGB how it should react to international events. Philby was not impressed, for instance, with the KGB's reaction to President Kennedy's assassination. ...

Philby found that his advice was being ignored. For instance, he warned the Russians not to get too involved in Africa in the mid-1960s, but they overdid their financial and military aid and it cost them dearly.

{p. 292} While Philby was using Rothschild's name to stir up his adversaries, the man himself was causing trouble for Israel's enemies in the Middle East. Rothschild had long urged Mossad to use as much modern technology as possible in preparation for probable war with its hostile neighbours. He had informed Mossad chiefs of the need for computerized data in intelligence work, even introducing them to contacts in the CIA via Angleton and Helms, who could secretly assist in the electronic upgrade.'

Since the early 1960s, Rothschild had pushed for the use of electronic listening devices (thanks in part to what he had learned from Peter Wright) to replace human agents as guards on Israel's vulnerable borders. Consequently, Mossad developed the signals

{p. 293} side of its Intelligence operations so that it could intercept enemy communications.

By the mid-1960s, masts, antennae and radar discs began to appear on Mount Hermon above the Golan Heights. They allowed military Intelligence to listen to phone and signals traffic in Damascus, which was only forty-three miles away. The listening system was a replica of the one developed in Britain for use by America's National Security Agency, the CIA and British Intelligence in their techno-battle and war defence against the Soviet Union.

Israel was using the information captured by its giant border ears to computerize data about every enemy officer in the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia. By 1967, every Israeli field Commander had a dossier on his potential opponents in the field, down to the military qualifications of each opposing platoon and company leader.

On the eve of the Six Day War, Jews worldwide prepared to rally to Israel's cause. For many who had, in the two decades since the Second World War, settled as refugees in new countries, the horrors of the Holocaust were still stark. They would do everything to avoid a repetition.

Among the deeply concerned was Miriam Rothschild, now sixty and recovering from a major operation. She had to be restrained by her brother from rushing to the airport. Victor had just donated a million pounds to Israel on behalf of the family, but Miriam was not satisfied. However, he managed to make her see she might be a hindrance rather than a help.

Besides, Victor pointed out, a Rothschild would be there. Baron Elie of the French house was flying out in his own private plane. Victor was also confident that Israel would cope. He more than anyone knew the preparation that had gone into the country's military.

Yet Rothschild still looked on with nervous anticipation and a sense of deja vu on the eve of the Six Day War with the Arabs as Israel's Signals Corps cracked enemy army codes, intercepted messages and transmitted false ones, in much the same way that British Intelligence did against the Nazis in the Second World War.

Israeli and Egyptian troops massed on either side of the border. Nasser delivered an ultimatum demanding the removal of the UN buffer force in Sinai. The force left. Nasser's troops occupied the

{p. 294} region of Sharm-el-Sheikh, which threatened to blockade the sea route to the Israeli port of Eilat. The move made war inevitable.

Israel's Intelligence readiness was now to be tested. The large amount of data gathered indicated how vulnerable and unprepared the Arab armies and airforces were. Once the Egyptians made their anticipated moves in Sinai, the Israeli air force mobilized and carried out pre-emptive air strikes.

The Israelis boldly sent false messages about Egypt's success in Sinai to Jordan in order to draw that country into the conflict. Later, the Israeli Signals Corps cheekily demonstrated its skills by eavesdropping on a radio conversation between Egypt's President Nasser and Jordan's King Hussein.

Israel's superiority in the techno-war allowed it to win a quick and resounding victory. Their spectacular success caused Jews to hope that the homeland's troubles might be over, especially as Jerusalem was a united city and a safe border had been established on the River Jordan.

Yet Israel's Intelligence chiefs were already considering the consequences of humiliating its neighbours. They did not anticipate the response of dejected Palestinians, who had hoped Israel would be defeated and banished from their region and whose guerrilla groups would join forces for a new kind of conflict, which would be harder for Israel's technology to monitor and control. Instead Mossad chiefs were expecting that regrouped and improved Arab military forces would again try to destroy Israel.

When Rothschild flew to Israel not long after the Six Day War, uppermost in the minds of his friends in the military and Intelligence was an enhancement of the nation's nuclear weapons programme.

In the decade since the Dimona Plant had been completed, Israel's leaders had felt some measure of comfort in knowing that they had the technology to develop a nuclear arsenal as an ultimate deterrent to aggression. The Six Day War was an urgent reminder that they still needed access to the nuclear weapons' raw material: uranium.

Israel had been supplied with uranium partly thanks to the efforts of Zionist Dr Zalman Shapiro, a research chemist who had worked on the Manhattan Project. Shapiro set up an Israeli-financed corporation called Numec, which handled nuclear materials and equipment.

{p. 295} Over the next decade, 206 lb of enriched uranium disappeared from Numec's Pennsylvania plant and ended up in Israel. The corporation was investigated by US authorities and fined a million dollars, causing it to shut down.

Along with the cutting of this supply, US regulations safeguarding uranium supplies were tightened after the Six Day War. Some in the State Department feared Israel's aggression and Arab revenge could see an escalation of war to a nuclear conflict in the Middle East.

Now Rothschild's expertise in both banking and bombs was needed in a more complicated plot to acquire uranium. He was consulted by Intelligence chiefs and became privy to a plan to set up a European operation - codenamed Plombat - involving dummy Israeli companies and shipping, which would eventually see a large amount of uranium being hijacked to the Israeli port of Haifa and transported to Dimona.

Scientists at the plant were thus able to prepare a 'substantial number' of atomic devices, which were stored in tunnels under the Negev Desert.

According to both CIA and Mossad sources, Rothschild was also useful to the Israelis in 'mending fences' with some neighbours in the Middle East after the disruption of the Six Day conflict. For instance, he called on his old friend the Shah of Iran and suggested several 'crop breeding' ventures, which had been perfected in Israel and elsewhere. Some were adapted in Iran. By 1968, he had put his money, exceptional know-how, contacts and influence at the disposal of the state he had helped create and protect. ...

{p. 298} Blunt and Rothschild tried to deflect guilt from themselves and on to the innocent Watson, but he never confessed to spying.

Wright continued his zealous hounding of suspects, who included Leo Long, John Cairncross and highly-placed civil servant, Dennis Proctor. Often he took them back to meet Blunt in harrowing encounters, at which much alcohol was consumed but no new or surprising secret connections were divulged.

Wright felt he had found his true niche as a-spyhunter. He widened his brief to several scientific and academic institutions. But it seemed, each time the ruthless investigator came close, the pressure on suspects caused tragedy. While he was probing an Oxford University spy ring, Sir Andrew Cohen, a diplomat who had been an Apostle at Cambridge with Rothschild and Blunt, died of a heart attack soon after he learned he was to be questioned. Bernard Floud, a proposed junior minister in Wilson's cabinet, committed suicide after tough questioning by Wright and before he had to endure another interrogation. A few days later, Phoebe Pool threw herself under a tube train. She had been a courier for Blunt in the 1950s and a colleague of his at the Courtauld Institute.

Wright's relentless pursuit of those he envied for their privileged education of three decades ago was causing a spiralling despair among the former ideological students from Oxbridge. The fear generated would touch everyone involved for the rest of their lives.

All during this time Blunt anaesthetized himself with alcohol and stood firm. He insisted there had only been a ring of four at Cambridge - himself, Burgess, Maclean and Philby - with secondrank spies, such as Cairncross and Long, existing independently of the central ring members. There was no Fifth Man, Blunt insisted. But the more he protested, the more Wright became suspicious that there had to be a key figure he had missed, someone who could even be right under his nose.

{p. 299} He complained to Rothschild that it could be the only reason that all their investigations led to dead spies or those who were already under suspicion. For once, his genius companion seemed perplexed. Not even he could offer a plausible explanation.


Anatoli Golitsyn, the defector, addressed a conference of counter-intelligence officers from Canada, Britain, the USA, Australia and New Zealand in Melbourne in late 1967, and made a convincing case for there being a lack of understanding of his methodology the way he went about searching for Soviet spies.

He had bounced back and forth across the Atlantic maintaining his marketability with 'new' information about Soviet penetration of Western Intelligence. But until that conference, he had slipped in credibility because many of his leads were too general and proved fruitless. MI5's chief, Martin Furnival Jones, Hollis's successor, was impressed and offered him the files on all MI5 personnel.

From the spring of 1968 Golitsyn was given £10,000 a month to peruse the files in a safe house near Brighton. The defector concentrated on Venona - the several thousand KGB radio communication messages, which had been partly or completely decoded. Eight codenames had been found.

Two in particular interested him: DAVID and ROSA. The messages decoded indicated that they had worked together, most likely as a married couple. Golitsyn asked for the files of all MI5 officers who had been working for British Intelligence at the time of the Venona traffic. He studied the files and after a week asked Wright to come and see him in Brighton.

Wright arrived at the safe house excited about a break-through. Golitsyn pointed to two files on the desk in the study.

'I've discovered DAVID and ROSA,' he said excitedly. 'My methodology has uncovered them.'

Wright glanced at the name on the files. He knew them well. They belonged to Victor and Tess Rothschild.

Wright told him not to be absurd. Rothschild, he informed the Russian, was one of the best friends this Service ever had. Golitsyn, however, was emphatic and Wright asked how he came to such a conclusion.

{p. 300} 'They are Jewish,' Golitsyn replied. 'DAVID and ROSA are Jewish names.'

Golitsyn was guessing wildly and was incorrect. Tess was not Jewish. Nor did she marry Rothschild until 1946. Although they had worked closely during the war, they were not always together. Rothschild often went on assignments alone, such as when he acted as MI5's security inspector at weapons research facilities. Wright put the accusation down to typical 'KGB anti-Semitism', which had been rampant since Stalin's purge after the 'Jewish Doctor's Plot': kaganovich.html.

Golitsyn could not give any further reason for linking David and Rosa with the Rothschilds and Wright dismissed his claim as another attempt to justify his importance and the money he was being paid, which irritated the MI5 man. In the bitter atmosphere of accusation and counter-accusation in the late 1960s, which had been in the main engendered by Wright himself, this appeared to be another hopeful, ill-founded guess.

'I could not help thinking that if this had been the CIA and I had been Angleton,' Wright remarked in Spycatcher, 'Victor and Tess would almost certainly have been listed as spies on Golitsyn's groundless interpretation.'

Fortunately for Rothschild, his close companion and confidant had been the one informed and there was no further investigation. Golitsyn had earlier informed Wright about a file marked 'Technics' in a safe at the Moscow Centre. It was basically a file on all MI5 technical operations against the Russians, which Wright and his team had initiated. This proved to him that a mole had indeed been spying on him and his activities. Wright never discussed with Golitsyn what he had told Rothschild. If he had, the Russian would have realized that his guess had been accurate.

{p. 432} From 1945 to 1963, the Fifth Man became enmeshed in the Cold War spying game on the Soviet side ...

After 1963, ... Capitalism, for all its miserable faults, had survived, as had Churchill's 'best worst' system, Western-style democracy, which had been scorned by Rothschild. He knew at base it was a charade. From his perspective, the country was really run by the Establishment, of which he was a prominent member.


Pavel Sudoplatov on the Atomic Spies: atomic-spies.html.

Victor Ostrovsky on How Mossad Got America to Bomb Libya & Fight Iraq : ostrovsky.html.

Rothschild might have changed tack since the early 1960s. The Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973 led many Jews to switch from Communism to Zionism.

Perry makes it clear that Rothschild was pro-Communist but not necessarily pro-Soviet Union. That depended on how amenable the USSR was to Jews and Zionism. When the USSR was un-cooperative, Leftists commonly switched over to the New Left (new-left.html), to Marxist Anti-Communism (kostel.html), or even came out as Neo-Cons: cia-infiltrating-left.html.

They were thus switching over to a Trotskyist, a Fabian or a Green position, all of which had much in common.

Many people are wondering whether the West really did win the Cold War, given the political correctness in our universities and public discourse, the Open Borders, the World Court, the Gay Marriage. Instead, the "Convergence" idea - convergence of Capitalism and Communism - seems to be what we've got: convergence.html.

The Anglo-American Establishment: quigley.html.

Roland Perry's book The Fifth Man is ouit of print. To purchase a second-hand copy via ABEbooks:

To purchase a seciond-hand copy from Amazon:

Back to the Zionism/Communism index: zioncom.html.

Write to me at contact.html.