Anna Wolkoff

Anna Wolkoff

Anna Wolkoff, the daughter of Admiral Nikolai Wolkoff, was born in Russia in 1902. During the First World War Admiral Wolkoff was the aide-to-camp to the Nicholas II in London. After the Russian Revolution Wolkoff decided to remain in England.

The Wolkoff family ran the Russian Tea Room in South Kensington. Anna Wolkoff visited Nazi Germany several times in the 1930s and had meetings with Hans Frank and Rudolf Hess. In 1935 her actions began to be monitored by MI5. Agents warned that Wolkoff had developed a close relationship with Wallis Simpson (the future wife of Edward VIII) and that the two women might be involved in passing state secrets to the German government.

Anna and her father held extreme right-wing views and were both members of a secret society called the Right Club. Other members of the group included Archibald Ramsay, William Joyce, Joan Miller, A. K. Chesterton, Francis Yeats-Brown, E. H. Cole, Lord Redesdale, 5th Duke of Wellington, Aubrey Lees, John Stourton, Thomas Hunter, Samuel Chapman, Ernest Bennett, Charles Kerr, John MacKie, James Edmondson, Mavis Tate, Marquess of Graham and Margaret Bothamley.

Unknown to Wolkoff, MI5 agents had infiltrated the Right Club. This included Joan Miller, Marjorie Amor and Helen de Munck. As a result the British government was kept fully informed about the activities of the group.

In February 1940, Wolkoff met Tyler Kent, a cypher clerk from the American Embassy. He soon became a regular visitor to the Russian Tea Room where he met other members of the Right Club including its leader, Archibald Ramsay. Wolkoff, Kent and Ramsay talked about politics and agreed that they all shared the same political views.

Kent was concerned that President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted the United States to join the war against Germany. He said he had evidence of this as he had been making copies of the correspondence between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Kent invited Wolkoff and Archibald Ramsay back to his flat to look at these documents. This included secret assurances that the United States would support France if it was invaded by the German Army. Kent later argued that he had shown these documents to Ramsay in the hope that he would pass this information to American politicians hostile to Roosevelt.

On 13th April 1940 Wolkoff went to Kent's flat and made copies of some of these documents. Joan Miller and Marjorie Amor were later to testify that these documents were then passed on to Duco del Monte, Assistant Naval Attaché at the Italian Embassy. Soon afterwards, MI8, the wireless interception service, picked up messages between Rome and Berlin that indicated that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence (Abwehr), now had copies of the Roosevelt-Churchill correspondence

Soon afterwards Wolkoff asked Joan Miller if she would use her contacts at the Italian Embassy to pass a coded letter to William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) in Germany. The letter contained information that he could use in his broadcasts on Radio Hamburg. Before passing the letter to her contacts, Miller showed it to Maxwell Knight, the head of B5b, a unit within MI5 that conducted the monitoring of political subversion.

On 18th May, Knight told Guy Liddell about the Right Club spy ring. Liddell immediately had a meeting with Joseph Kennedy, the American Ambassador in London. Kennedy agreed to waive Kent's diplomatic immunity and on 20th May, 1940, the Special Branch raided his flat. Inside they found the copies of 1,929 classified documents including secret correspondence between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Kent was also found in possession of what became known as Ramsay's Red Book. This book had details of the supporters of the Right Club and had been given to Kent for safe keeping.

Wolkoff and Tyler Kent were arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act. The trial took place in secret and on 7th November 1940, Wolkoff was sentenced to ten years. Kent, because he was an American citizen, was treated less harshly and received only seven years. It is said that after being sentenced Wolkoff swore that she would get revenge by killing Joan Miller.

Anna Wolkoff never got the opportunity to tell the public the full-story of what the Right Club was up to during the Second World War as she was killed in a car crash soon after leaving prison.

Primary Sources

(1) Joan Miller, One Girl's War (1970)

Anna Wolkoff was short and dark-haired, not very impressive in appearance, and displayed the intensity of manner which is often associated with those of a fanatical disposition. She took herself and her causes very seriously indeed. It was difficult to get close to her as she was filled with mistrust, but, once she'd accepted you, Anna was capable of impulsive and generous acts. In spite other upbringing she was a good cook and this skill, I imagine, helped to keep the restaurant in business; dressmaking, however, was her principal occupation (one of her clients was the Duchess of Windsor). She owned the flat that served as headquarters for the Right Club, as well as another one in Rowland Gardens.

(2) Archibald Ramsay, The Nameless War (1955)

The main object of the Right Club was to oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry, in the light of the evidence which came into my possession in 1938. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective. There were no other and secret purposes. Our hope was to avert war, which we considered to be mainly the work of Jewish intrigue centred in New York.

(3) A MI5 agent reported on the activities of the Right Club in October 1939.

From two independent sources we learn that the activity of the Right Club is centred principally upon the contacting of sympathisers, especially among officers in the armed services, and the spreading by personal talks of the Club's ideals. There is talk of a military coup d'etat, but there seems to be lack of agreement among members on the question of leadership. Sir Oswald Mosley they regard with suspicion.

(4) The Right Club published some subtle anti-war leaflets in 1940. This is an extract from one entitled Your New Year's Resolution.

We appeal to the working men and women of Great Britain to purchase the new Defence Bonds and Savings Certificates thus keeping the War going as long as possible. Your willing self-sacrifice and support will enable the war profiteers to make bigger and better profits and at the same time save their wealth from being conscripted. Lend to defend the rights of British manhood to die in a foreign quarrel every 25 years. Don't be selfish. Save for shells and slaughter. Forget about the slums, the unemployed, the old age pensioners and other social reforms your money could be invested in. Just remember that your savings are much more wisely spent in the noble cause of death and destruction. Be patriotic. Come on, the first million pounds.

(5) Report by an MI5 agent on Archibald Ramsay and the Nordic League (September, 1939)

These individuals are agreed in their hatred of Jewry and their conviction that Jews are responsible for the 'misunderstanding' between Germany and Britain, and are the instigators of the present war. There is, however, a wide range of views among them as to their own action now that the country is actually at war. Whilst very few are willing to bear arms against Germany, the majority feel that nothing should be done which might prejudice this country's interests and that they should play their part in civilian defence and humanitarian work, striving at the same time to enlighten those with whom they come into contact as to the 'real' nature of the factors which brought about the war.

Captain Ramsay MP has expressed himself as willing to continue his anti-Jewish propaganda and has enlisted the support of the above- mentioned.

He intends to proceed on two lines:

(a) The distribution among MPs; in clubs; in the Services, of a carefully prepared memorandum or leaflet aimed at refuting the Prime Minister's statement that Hitler cannot be trusted, dealing with the issues of Austria, Bohemia and Poland and designed throughout to show that World Jewry are the instigators of the war.

(b) Leaflets and adhesive labels bearing purely anti-Semitic propaganda. It is intended that these latter shall be printed secretly and distributed during the night.

Captain Ramsay has been in touch with Sir Oswald Mosley with a view to arriving at a basis for cooperation, and it is reliably reported that the two have reached agreement. In this connection two articles which appeared in the current issue (16 September) of 'Action', headed 'Peace Aims' and 'War Aims' respectively, may be significant - they are framed on very similar lines to those of Ramsay's proposed memorandum.

(6) Tyler Kent, witness statement (20th May, 1940)

In the course of general conversation with Captain Ramsay on general political subjects in relation to the past several years, it became apparent that he was misinformed or ignorant on certain points of which I had knowledge, and I simply undertook to enlighten him on these points, and in order to do so, I invited him to come to my place and I showed him the documents - some of them.

(7) Joan Miller, One Girl's War (1970)

I was obliged to give evidence at the Wolkoff trial, an ordeal I'd have found hard to endure if it hadn't been for M's constant support and encouragement, I remember standing beside him in the courtroom when Anna caught sight of me from the dock and started shouting abuse, among which I made out the threat to kill me, as soon as she was released.

(In the event, she served her sentence, and died in a car crash shortly afterwards.) Certainly I understood that she had great cause for annoyance: three other trusted associates having turned out to be members of the Security Service; on top of everything else, she must have felt this made her look pretty much of a fool.