History synopsis Edit
Jacques Pierre Brissot (1754-1793), a famous French Jacobin who lived in London, railed against private property in his 'Recherches philosophiques sur le droit de propriété et le vol', he declared property to be robbery in nature.
Brissot was an influence on positivism by influencing Henri de Saint-Simon and Auguste Compte, postivism is a significant underlying philosophy of socialism and Marxian Communism
Engels became interested in religion. He believed religion was a corrupting influence that made people sick and they could only be fully human when they stopped submitting to a higher God. He had his activism turned towards the abolition of capitalism by a man called Moses Hess.
Moses Hess may have also converted Karl Marx. Marx certainly worked for the radical newspaper he founded. He promoted Hegelianism and many of Marx's other ideas.
Moses Hess linked his vision of the ideal community with Israel, he is acknowledge as a founder of both Socialism and Zionism. He believed the utopian socialist world, modelled on ancient Judaism, could be recreated in a future state of Israel. Zionism eventually led to the creation of Israel.
Nathan Mayer Rothschild's Uncle in law: Salomon David Barent-Cohen is the grandfather of Karl Marx. link
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin, was still asleep when Lev Davidovich Bronstein, alias Trotsky, plunked himself down on his doorstep.
It was October 1902; the place, London; the hour, dawn. Both men were in exile; both were had escaped from the czar's prisons in and out of Siberia; both were totally immersed in and dedicated to the Marxist revolutionary movement, of which Lenin, at 32, was the acknowledged head. His current command post was London. A number of his compatriot revolutionaries had congregated there, crowded into communes; Lenin, however, lived apart. So many people, he said, affected his nerves. He and his wife, Krupskaya, occupied a flat in one of the seedier neighbourhoods (not far from the shabby rooms where, nearly half-a-century before - surrounded by wife, mistress-servant, brood of children and horde of creditors - the apparently nerveless Karl Marx had produced Das Kapital).
Trotsky was 22 years old. Papa Bronstein, a barely literate Russian Jewish farmer, had educated him to become an engineer; my son the revolutionary was not what he had in mind. Nor had he expected the sojourns in the prisons of Odessa, the marriage to a Gentile woman ten years his senior, the two children born in the Siberian tundra. From Siberia, Trotsky wrote in secret the fiery tracts on Marxist theory that found their way to London, earning him the sobriquet "the Pen" and a summons from Lenin.
-- The founder of the world's first socialist state, Vladimir Il'ich Lenin, visited London six times between 1902 and 1911. He had arrived in London with his wife, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaia, earlier that month (April, 1902) in order to set up publication of Iskra, the newspaper of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). The Twentieth Century Press had agreed to carry out the printing at 37a Clerkenwell Green, (now the home of the Marx Memorial Library), and soon accommodation was found for the new arrivals not far from there, at 30 Holford Square, Pentonville.
In August of the same year he returned for the famous 2nd Party Congress, during which the RSDLP made its historic split into "menshevik" and "bolshevik" factions, During the 3rd Party Congress, which again took place in London (from 25 April to 10 May 1905), it is known that he paid a visit to Great Russell Street, and there copied out extracts from the works of Marx and Engels.
-- Few people know that a housing project named after Lenin was commissioned in London in the early 1940s. Designed by a Russian emigre architect, Berthold Lubetkin, who is now considered one of the giants of constructivism, it was to be called Lenin Court. But by the early 1950s, when the project was completed, the Cold War was in full flow. As a result, the building was renamed Bevin Court, honouring Britain's firmly anti-communist Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. "I still write my address as Lenin Court instead of Bevin Court. Letters are delivered anyway because of the postcode," says local resident Craig Ford.
Lenin came to London six times, spending a lot of time at the British Library, where for the first time he got access to Karl Marx's works. "Many people at the library remembered Lenin as a short, hard-working man who read avidly. He always ordered huge amounts of books and read them amazingly fast, with astonishing energy and drive," says historian Helen Rappoport. Moreover, according to her, London became for Lenin a symbol of the evil he wanted to destroy. He often invited friends to walk through the East End, to show the gap between the classes. "It's quite ironic that a capitalist state like Britain gave Lenin access to books, freedom of action, financial aid. And precisely here, in London, Lenin wrote his books about destroying world capitalism," smiles Ms Rappoport.
In the Marx Memorial Library in London there is a mural, made in 1935. It shows a bare-chested worker surrounded by a blue-eyed Lenin, Marx and Engels. The worker is breaking the chains and shaking the whole world. Big Ben is falling down, burying the capitalists. "You can see that the painter copied Lenin from black and white photography. Remarkably this mural survived World War II, when a bomb fell on the roof of our building," says director of archives John Callow. The library also contains a room where, in 1902-1903, the Russian revolutionary edited and printed the Iskra newspaper. The room houses several busts of Lenin, brought here by numerous delegations from the Soviet Union. Mikhail Gorbachev, Nikita Khruschev and other politicians also visited this room during their visits to London.
One theory is that Lenin met Stalin for the first time in London, in 1905. At least that is what the staff at the Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell say. It is here that the historic meeting allegedly took place. "I know that Lenin often came to our pub. It's even mentioned in our book. According to archives, Lenin held a meeting with Stalin here in 1905," says manager Jason Robinson. "This meeting took place more than 100 years ago but people still come to our pub and are interested in its history," he says. For some, Lenin's important years in London are still very relevant today.
-- Trotsky managed to find his way to London, where he met and collaborated with V. I. Lenin on the Russian Social-Democrats' revolutionary newspaper, Iskra. In 1902, Trotsky met his second wife, Natalia Ivanovna whom he married the following year. Trotsky and Natalia had two sons together.
When news of Bloody Sunday in Russia (January 1905) reached Trotsky, he decided to return to Russia. Trotsky spent most of 1905 writing numerous articles for pamphlets and newspapers to help inspire, encourage, and mold the protests and uprisings that challenged the tsar's power during the 1905 Russian Revolution. By late 1905, Trotsky had become a leader of the revolution. Although the 1905 revolution failed, Trotsky himself later called it a "dress rehearsal" for the 1917 Russian Revolution.
In December 1905, Trotsky was arrested for his role in the 1905 Russian Revolution. After a trial, he was again sentenced to exile in Siberia in 1907. And, once again, he escaped. This time, he escaped via a deer-pulled sleigh through the frozen landscape of Siberia in February 1907.
In October 1916, while based in New York City, Bukharin edited the newspaper Novy Mir (New World) with Leon Trotsky and Alexandra Kollontai. When Trotsky arrived in New York in January 1917, Bukharin was the first to greet him (as Trotsky's wife recalled, "with a bear hug and immediately began to tell them about a public library which stayed open late at night and which he proposed to show us at once" dragging the tired Trotskys across town "to admire his great discovery").
At the news of Russian Revolution of February 1917, Bukharin returned to Russia by way of Japan and at once became one of the leading Bolsheviks in Moscow, being elected to the Central Committee. During the October Revolution, he drafted, introduced, and defended the revolutionary decrees of the Moscow Soviet, in whose name the insurrection took place. Bukharin then represented the Moscow party in their report to the revolutionary government in Petrograd. After the second 1917 revolution, he became the editor of the party's newspaper, Pravda.
Bukharin believed passionately in the promise of world revolution.
Agent Moura Edit
Nick Clegg’s great-great-aunt had affairs with HG Wells and Maxim Gorky and was suspected of being an agent for Bolshevik Russia. Now Dimitri Collingridge, the Liberal Democrat leader’s cousin, unpicks her tangled life I was a schoolboy when I first realised my Auntie Moura’s power to fascinate. Each pupil had to pick a subject to talk about for our Russian language exam; I chose her. The examiner’s face changed from bored to spellbound as I told of my great-great-aunt’s intimate involvement in a British plot to overthrow the Bolsheviks in 1918; her dinners with princes and politicians; and her roster of famous lovers, including HG Wells and Maxim Gorky.
Afterwards, as I got up to leave, my examiner leant forward: “Moura Budberg . . . can I just ask . . . wasn’t she a Soviet spy?” I couldn’t answer, but I, too, have always wanted to know. These days I’m not alone: anyone interested in my first cousin Nick Clegg is curious as well. For Baroness Moura Budberg — opportunistic, charming, a lifelong addict of exaggeration and adventure — is also his great-great-aunt.
When you are a teenage boy, the idea that one of your relatives may be a spy is too exciting for words. I was born shortly before her death in 1974 and as I grew up I loved looking at photographs of her — in pearls or reclining on a chaise longue — and wondering what secrets they held.
Moura struck such an elegant figure as a young woman in post-revolutionary Russia that Wells, visiting the country, fell in love with her almost immediately: “She was wearing an old khaki British Army waterproof and a shabby black dress; her only hat was some twisted-up piece of black — a stocking, I think — and yet she had magnificence . . . “ I gleaned whatever I could about Moura’s life from my family, but when I mentioned espionage I would be ticked off by elderly relatives. Later I began to understand their reluctance. Over the years Moura has been accused of some thoroughly dastardly deeds, including spying on Gorky for Stalin and denouncing yet another lover, the British agent Robert Bruce Lockhart, to the Soviet secret police in 1918. This last act is said to have launched her alleged career as a Russian spy. Moura was considered so suspect that she was investigated over four decades by nearly every secret service in Europe, making her one of the most spied-on women in history.
A few years ago I launched an investigation into Aunt Moura for a BBC documentary.
I began my investigation at the Public Record Office in Kew, where her MI5 dossier is held. The entries run from 1921 to 1952. Words jumped out at me: “Double agent for the Bolsheviks and Germans in 1922-1931 . . . July 1941: Nazi agent . . . November 1942: instigator of plot to remove General de Gaulle as head of Free French Movement . . . July 1951: Soviet agent.”
I recruited Colonel Igor Prelin, a Soviet spy for 30 years to ferret around in the Russian archives. Moura, the daughter of a wealthy Anglophile tsarist lawyer and politician, was a pleasure-loving 25-year-old at the time of the Russian revolution. While her husband, a Russian diplomat called Johann von Benckendorff, fled into exile, she found herself adrift in St Petersburg looking after her terminally ill mother, with nothing but her wit, her beauty and her fluency in four languages to fall back on.
In 1918, or so the rumours go, Moura began working as an agent of the Cheka — the precursor of the KGB. Her recruitment is said to have taken place while she was involved in a passionate love affair with the dashing Lockhart.
After the Russian revolution, the newly formed Soviet government pulled out of the first world war. The British resolved to do whatever they could to entice the Bolsheviks to re-enter the conflict and Lockhart was dispatched to negotiate.
In the summer of 1918 — with chaos in the streets and respectable society on the run — Moura and Lockhart moved into a flat in Moscow together. In September 1918 Lockhart’s flat was raided and he was held in the Kremlin, charged with plotting to overthrow the Soviet regime. Moura was arrested with him and was interrogated by Yakov Peters, the fearsome deputy head of the Cheka.
She later described her interrogation to the Soviet journalist Melor Sturua, who agreed to see me: “Moura said Peters was like Count Dracula. He was very rough with her and threatened to have her shot within 24 hours unless she told him everything she knew about Lockhart. She said, ‘All I can talk about is Lockhart’s sexual prowess. I don’t know anything else.’
“You need to know what Moura was like,” Sturua continued. “If you point your finger at her she’s the type of person who’ll flirt with your finger. What else could she do under the circumstances? She had to use her feminine charms.” She didn’t stay behind bars for long.
It was Moura’s relationship with Peters that first aroused suspicions that she was a Soviet agent. Indeed, Lockhart in his memoirs recalls Peters bringing her along to his interrogations: “Moura, who was standing behind Peters and in front of me, was fiddling with my books . . . She caught my eyes, held up a note and slipped it into a book. I was terrified . . . Moura and I had hardly exchanged a word but already I felt a new hope . . . As soon as they had gone, I rushed to the book and took out the note. It was very short — six words only, ‘Say nothing — all will be well’.”
Moura certainly behaved like a secret agent, but, if she was one, exactly whose agent was she? Prelin’s trawl through the KGB archives was inconclusive: “As far as the Cheka were concerned there was no evidence that she was directly involved in the plot and that is why they released her, although she may well have helped Lockhart in some way, perhaps by introducing him to people who were against the Soviet regime.”
Lockhart was eventually sent back to Britain in exchange for the Soviet ambassador. As for Moura, the Lockhart plot left her badly compromised. She had been in the company of spies and the Soviet secret services now had something on her if they needed it. Her husband had been killed in exile and she would need all her feminine charms to survive.
When most young widows would have hidden or fled, Moura simply found herself an influential new protector, the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, the Bolsheviks’ literary mouthpiece and a close friend of Lenin. He spoke only Russian, and Moura, young, energetic and multilingual, soon made herself indispensable as his translator, literary agent and, of course, mistress. Moura’s relationship with him inevitably led to yet more controversy, this time with jealousy at its root.
The acclaimed Russian novelist Nina Berberova was among those who lived in Gorky’s household during the 1920s and, although she clearly did not like Moura, she studied her closely.
In 1982, in a book published eight years after Moura’s death, Berberova accused Moura of giving Stalin a suitcase of secret letters written by opponents of his regime, including Trotsky and Bukharin. Gorky had entrusted the correspondence to her to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
This is a horrific accusation. If true, it would make Moura complicit in the darkest period in Soviet history — the great terror in which millions of innocent people were put to death or sent to labour camps.
But was it true? If Moura had indeed given the letters to Stalin, they should now be at the Gorky archive in Moscow. But the staff there told me the documents were not in their possession, nor had they ever been. What’s more, Prelin, who investigated the matter thoroughly on behalf of the KGB in 1988, told me the letters were nowhere to be found in the secret service archives.
At this point in my quest I was feeling vindicated. Moura may have been a shameless opportunist, but she wasn’t necessarily the ruthless, cold-hearted traitor that Berberova made her out to be.
Then Prelin came up with a nasty surprise: evidence that throughout the 1930s Moura was in contact with Genrikh Yagoda, one of Stalin’s most feared secret police chiefs. One of the documents Prelin showed me from the archive of the FSB (the post-communist successor to the KGB) reads: “Budberg was living abroad and was in correspondence with Yagoda and through Yagoda obtained entry and exit visas to the USSR.”
Yagoda was a key figure in organising the purges and show trials until he himself fell victim to Stalin’s paranoia and was executed in 1938. I asked Prelin what he made of Moura’s relationship with him. Prelin replied: “As a former KGB operative I know how these things work. Of course Moura was asked to do certain things — to report about what was happening in Gorky’s circle, to exert some influence over Gorky at the request of the Soviet authorities. Naturally she couldn’t say no. She was compromised in connection with the Lockhart plot and could be arrested at any time. If Moura had refused she would have been denied permission to come to the USSR or she might have been prevented from leaving it and she was intent on seeing Gorky . . . She was an informant for the secret service.”
Moura needed Yagoda because she needed permission to move freely — and discreetly — between Russia and Britain. As Gorky’s star waned in Russia, Moura had looked to Britain for help, lighting on Gorky’s friend Wells as her best route to safety. By the early 1930s she was living in Britain as Wells’s lover, moving as easily in his social circles as she had among the Bolshevik nomenklatura. But she liked to return to Russia from time to time to visit her beloved Gorky: trips kept secret from Wells, who was furious when he discovered.
Wells was aware of the pressures that Soviet intelligence was putting on her.
He wrote in HG Wells in Love: “I think there were documents that it was undesirable should fall into the hands of the OGPU forerunner of the KGB] and that she secured them. I think there was something she knew and that she had promised to tell no one. And I believe that she kept her promise. In such matters Moura is invincibly sturdy.”
All the people I spoke to who knew Moura well described her as a loyal friend and trustworthy confidante — although even a loving nephew has to admit that the ability to feign such qualities is indispensable in a double agent. As to what kind of information she might have passed on to the Soviets, no one knows for certain, but she would have had no problem thinking of something juicy if she needed to.
John Julius Norwich, whose father, Duff Cooper, was Churchill’s minister for information and a close friend of Moura, told me: “Frankly, I adored her but I don’t think she knew the meaning of the word ‘truth’.
I can’t think that anything serious would have been given to Moura because by the time it came out the other end of Moura it would have been so transformed anyway.”
Her tendency to exaggerate and embroider was certainly amusing: she claimed, utterly implausibly, to have been present when Rasputin was killed, and her accounts of her prison days were rich in storybook details about being befriended by a rat “which sang to me”.
Clearly, anyone who listened to Moura for long had to disentangle truth from fiction.
After the war Moura settled in Ennismore Gardens in Kensington and entertained her friends on vodka and Cheeselets at 6pm daily. The British intelligence services set watchers on her tail, although their reports are comical in their banality: “After shopping in the South Kensington district, she returned home at 3pm . . . whilst on this shopping expedition she appeared to be very suspicious of being followed and it was therefore deemed advisable to lift the observation.”
One report observed simply that “she has been seen to lunch in first-class establishments and mix with leaders of society”. She certainly knew how to throw a party: every evening it was open house in Ennismore Gardens. The secret services, listening in, disapprovingly observed that the esteemed Guy Burgess was among the regulars at Moura’s salon and reported that the raffish Baroness Budberg was “not a desirable acquaintance for someone of his character”. Whoever wrote that pompous sentence must have flushed a little when Burgess defected in 1951.
After Burgess fled, MI5 decided to bring Aunt Moura in for questioning. It assigned one Agent U-35 to the case: Jona “Klop” Ustinov who was also a good friend of hers. “Klop”, father of the actor Peter Ustinov, gently told her that she had better help him out with some intelligence as lots of people at MI5 thought she was a spy and he needed her help to convince them otherwise. Moura was happy to oblige, even expressing her willingness to become a paid informant.
Over the coming months she fed U-35 with inconsequential leads. One stood out from the rest: “The most startling thing Moura told me was that Anthony Blunt, to whom Guy Burgess was ‘most devoted’, is a member of the Communist party. When I said, ‘I only know about him that he looks after the King’s pictures’, Moura retorted, ‘Such things happen only in England’.”
The irony is that this potentially invaluable piece of intelligence was ignored by MI5, on the basis that Moura was too unreliable. Considering her past, perhaps this is not entirely surprising. Moura’s co-operation with U-35 did, however, convince MI5 that she was fundamentally loyal to Britain. In 1952, after 30 years, the case against her was finally dropped.
Aunt Moura found herself in trouble with the law one last time in her eighties, when she was fined for pocketing some toiletries without paying. She admitted to friends that she shoplifted because she needed some danger in her life; otherwise she’d know she was “getting old”.
People have made the comparison between Moura Budberg and Mata Hari and at the end of my journey I reckon there is some truth in that. Aunt Moura was a woman about whom extraordinary and extravagant stories built up over the years, but when you scrape away the accumulated myths, it all becomes hazy. Although she certainly dabbled in espionage, I found no evidence she had committed any terrible crimes, so to that extent I feel I’ve cleared her name.
I could be wrong, though. It’s impossible to prove someone wasn’t a spy . . . because the best spies leave the fewest traces.
Dimitri Collingridge’s documentary My Secret Agent Auntie is available on DVD from benlewis.tv