The Beautiful Spy

Vera Schalburg - on the day after her capture (1 October 1940) - Not at her best: she hadn’t slept for two days and she was coming down from the morphine fix her Abwehr handlers had administered to get her on the plane in Norway. 

In her career with the German Intelligence Service - the Abwehr - between 1937 and 1940 Vera Schalburg used, among others, the following aliases:  Chalbur, Chalburg, Shalberg, De Cottani, Erikson (also spelled Eriksen, and Erichsen), von Wedel, and Starizky.

We shall, I think, call her Vera.

The more I find out about Vera the more tantalising the mystery becomes. And there is a great mystery here.  A mystery that deepens with every passing year.

Born in Siberia in 1912, she spied for the White Russians against the Soviets, for the Soviets against the White Russians, for the German Abwehr against the Soviets and later the British, and possibly for either or both of MI6 and, or MI5 against the Germans.


Vera in February 1942.

Femme fatale, caberet dancer, drug addict, hunted at one time or another by the NKVD and the Gestapo, her life reads like a spy novel - a cross between Ian Fleming and John le Carre.

Sixty-six years after her capture in September 1940, MI5 still refuse to realease all their files on ‘the Beautiful Spy’.

MI5 claim Vera was a minor player whom they ‘turned’ in 1942.  According to MI5 she was deported to Germany after WWII and thereafter, disappeared without trace.

Both her male accomplices on her last mission to England were executed for treason - Vera never even stood trial. One rumour holds that she was a double agent all along, recruited by MI6 in Paris in the thirties, another that she was the lover of a prominent member of the British establishment, by whom she had a child before the war. In any event, she survived.  But then surviving was what Vera did best.

So, was she another Mata Hari or a hapless victim of the spying game?  Did she really vanish into the ruins of post-war Germany?  Or did MI5 find her a new name, a new life in England? Did she live to a grand old age on the Isle of Wight, or die young and anonymous?  Sp many questions, so many lies, so many false trails.

Presently, I am actively following a number of lines of inquiry about what actually happened to ‘the Beautiful Spy’ after MI5 ‘mislaid’ her in October 1945.  For what it is worth I think Vera was probably given a new identity and lived out the rest of her long life in England.

If you think you have any information which may help to resolve the mystery of ‘the beautiful Spy’ I would be delighted to hear from you.