RCL Club meeting with speaker – HELEN FRY shares: Spymaster – The Man who saved MI6
January 24 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
SPYMASTER: THE MAN WHO SAVED MI6
Thomas Joseph Kendrick was one of the most senior spymasters of the British Secret Intelligence Service in the 20thcentury. From the shadows of a clandestine world, he tracked Communist agents across Europe in the 1920s and Nazi spies in the 1930s from his headquarters in Vienna. He was placed in Vienna as the British passport officer, but this was a cover for his true role in running spy networks into Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy and Nazi Germany. After Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938, Kendrick embarked on a humanitarian mission to save Austria’s Jews. He issued fake visas and papers for those who did not qualify for emigration, saving up to 200 Jews a day – in an extraordinary legacy for which he has yet to be fully recognised.
Dubbed ‘the elusive Englishman’, his real identity eluded the Hitler’s Secret Service (the Abwehr) until his betrayal by a double agent in the summer of 1938. Kendrick faced ‘Soviet-style interrogation’ from the Gestapo, before being expelled for spying. He returned to London and disappeared from the public eye… but behind the scenes in the Second World War he headed one of the most important intelligence operations of the war that shortened the war and saved thousands of lives. At the heart of his wartime operation were German-Jewish refugee “secret listeners” who eavesdropped on prisoners’ conversations and Hitler’s Generals in captivity. Kendrick’s work saved MI6 from a number of intelligence disasters that threatened its very existence and the survival of Britain.
ABOUT HELEN FRY
Historian Dr Helen Fry has written numerous books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans who fought for Britain, and also British intelligence, espionage and WWII. Her latest bestselling book is Spymaster: The Man who Saved MI6. She has written over 25 books – including The Walls have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of WWII; The London Cage about a secret interrogation centre in WWII; and MI9: A history of the British Secret Service for escape and evasion in World War Two. Helen has appeared in numerous TV documentaries, including David Jason’s Secret Service (Channel 4), Spying on Hitler’s Army (Channel 4) and Home Front Heroes (BBC1). She is an ambassador for the National Centre for Military Intelligence opening in 2023, and President of the Friends of the National Archives.