The Oxfordshire housewife who almost killed Hitler

The Oxfordshire housewife who almost killed Hitler: How undercover Soviet agent who married her English recruit hatched plot to blow up the Fuhrer as he ate before assassination attempt was called off at the eleventh hour

  • Ursula Kuczynski, code-named Sonya, coordinated a plot to assassinate Hitler
  • With agent Alexander Foote, they planned to blow the Führer up at a restaurant
  • Hitler visited Munich restaurant the Osteria Bavaria at least three times a week
  • But just weeks before the Germans and Soviets signed Molotov-Ribbentrop pact

Top Soviet spy Ursula Kuczynski came close to killing Adolf Hitler after hatching a plan to blow up the Führer while he he ate in a restaurant, a new book reveals.

Ursula Kuczynski, code-named Sonya, helped to coordinate an attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1938, while she lived in Switzerland where she ran agents in Germany, the Times reported.

But following the war the spy took up the identity of Mrs Burton and moved to the Cotswold where she became a housewife famous for her scones, new book Agent Sonya by Ben Macintyre details.

Ursula Kuczynski, code-named Sonya, helped to coordinate an attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1938 alongside agent Alexander Foote

Kuczynski, now known as Ruth Werner, presented an idea to Moscow to assassinate Hitler as he ate in one of his favourite Munich restaurants

Her Oxfordshire neighbours were unaware that the woman living near them was in fact the 1930s Soviet spy ‘Agent Sonya’.

The plot to assassinate Hitler began to form when Alexander Foote, one of her agents, was dining at the Osteria Bavaria in Munich when Hitler entered a private dining room, where he visited up to three times a week.

But Foote noticed that Hitler’s personal guards failed to react as Foote’s dining companion reached into his jacket pocket for cigarettes at the very moment Hitler walked past the table. 

Foote told Kuczynski that it would be possible to plant a bomb in a suitcase next to the partition in the main restaurant and the assassination plot began to come together.

Foote noticed that Hitler’s personal guards were lax on security when the Führer dined at one of his favourite Munich restaurants, the Osteria Bavaria (above)

The plot to assassinate Hitler came to a halt just weeks before the attempt as the Germans and Soviets signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a non-aggression agreement. Kuczynski moved to Oxfordshire in Britain and took up the identity of ‘Mrs Burton’ after the war

Kuczynski presented the idea to Moscow after declaring it an ‘excellent idea’, and agents were ordered to plan an operation to shoot Hitler as he walked through the restaurant, or blow up the Führer as he ate.

A more difficult plan to blow up the airship Graf Zeppelin was abandoned in favour of the Foote and Kuczynski’s plan.


Ursula Ruth Kuczynski, now known by Ruth Werner, was a German-born Soviet espionage agent and writer. 

She was born one of six children of Robert Rene and Berta Kuczynski on May 15, 1907. Her father was a distinguished economist who specialised in demography and labor statistics, taught and worked in Germany, the United States and Britain. 

The Kucyznkis were considered ‘progressive’ and later some of them joined the Communist Party. 

The committed communist operated as a spy for the Soviet Union in China, Nazi Germany, Switzerland, and England beginning in about 1930. 

Using the code name Sonya, she gathered and transmitted classified intelligence to Moscow, including technical information supplied by the German-born British physicist Klaus Fuchs about the Manhattan Project’s research into the atomic bomb. 

Moscow broke off contact with her in the summer of 1946, with no explanation and after World War II she settled in East Germany. 

She took the pen name Ruth Werner and became a celebrated writer of short stories, novels, and an autobiography, Sonja’s Rapport.

She was twice awarded the order of the Red Banner, the highest Soviet military decoration, and also held the rank of colonel in the Red Army. 

Her only connection with the GRU after settling in East Berlin was in 1969 when she was invited to a ceremony to receive her second Red Banner decoration. 

She died in Berlin on July 7, 2000, aged ninety-three, survived by her three children, five grandchildren and three sisters. 

Source: Britannica and JWA

The assassination plot was only weeks away when the Germans and Soviets signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, a non-aggression agreement.

Months later after the plan was abandoned, Kuczynski had divorced her German architect husband and married her English recruit Len Beurton for a passport.  

Macintyre, who wrote new book Agent Sonya, believes the plot to kill Hitler would have ‘transformed world history’ and and had a better chance of success than any attempted. 

He said: ‘Would there have been a Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? I think almost certainly not. It’s a real “what if?” but I can’t help thinking also that the world would have been a better and safer place, which was certainly the way Ursula thought about it.’

Kuczynski moved to Britain and took up the identity of ‘Mrs Burton’, whose three children had three different Soviet spies as fathers.

She moved near the atomic energy research establishment at Harwell and later settled in idyllic village of Great Rollright, near Chipping Norton.

It was in England where she became the handler of Klaus Fuchs, the Soviet Union’s most successful thief of nucelar secrets. 

The physicist supplied information from the American, British and Canadian Manhattan project to the Soviet Union during and following the Second World War. 

Kuczynski, now known as Ruth Werner, was only interviewed by the secret services in 1947 after the defection of fellow agent Foote. 

And Fuchs was caught after spending 1944 to 1946 working with the American Atomic Research department in Los Alamos.

He was put on trial in January 1950 but a day before his trial, Kuczynski left Britain and escaped to East Berlin.

Here, she adopted the pen name Ruth Werner and became a celebrated writer of short stories and novels.

She also penned her autobiography Sonja’s Report, which was completed in 1974 and published in East Berlin three years later.

But under the conspiracy rules she never mentioned Fuchs, who was still alive, instead writing about other clandestine operatives.

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