During the cold war, British assumptions that the head of a KGB spy ring was male, allowed Ursula Kuczynski a woman, to steal British atomic secrets and then escape to East Germany.


Ursula Kuczynski was a cold war Soviet spy, and one of the most successful, organising the stealing of atomic bomb secrets from the British. Arguably, she changed history, yet barely rates a mention in the records, of the then male-dominated MI 5 spy agency. At the time MI5 noted that 'agent-running was predominantly a male preserve'. Codenamed Agent Sonya, she had the perfect cover—a simple housewife living in rural England. But she was also a Soviet KGB Colonel who successfully led the most extensive network-of-spies operating in Britain during the cold war. She was also the handler for Klaus Fuchs a scientist working at the British Atomic Energy Research Establishment. Kuczynski had highly developed skills and when finally discovered, these skills developed over decades—enabled her to escape to East Germany. Worth considering whether we still make assumptions based on a person's gender, age, and ethnicity.