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Night RaidersBurglary and the Making of Modern Urban Life in London, 1860-1968$
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Eloise Moss

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840381.001.0001

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Spy-Burglars and Secrets in the Cold War Capital

Spy-Burglars and Secrets in the Cold War Capital

Chapter:
(p.185) 8 Spy-Burglars and Secrets in the Cold War Capital
Source:
Night Raiders
Author(s):

Eloise Moss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198840381.003.0008

During the late-1940s a spate of burglaries from residences attached to the Soviet Embassy afforded an unexpected window onto the activities of those engaged in Cold War espionage, both perpetrated by Russian agents living in London and directed against them by British operatives. Thrillingly, they exposed how London’s burglary problem offered a convenient cloak to disguise thefts of information more priceless than jewels. This chapter analyses instances of espionage in which burglary featured, both real and fictive, in order to expose how London’s distinctive criminal character was a factor in shaping international politics in this era. The burglaries of residences attached to the Soviet Embassy in London, and subsequent wrangling over culpability and evidence of the crimes with those involved, mark a little-known aspect of the escalating tensions between the Soviet Union and the Foreign Office under Ernest Bevin. Later intrigues involving burglary reveal another intersection between espionage and what has been termed the ‘cultural’ cold war. It is unsurprising that burglary figured in the hugely popular spy novels of Ian Fleming and John Le Carré; the burglar—especially the ‘spy burglar’, a label coined during the early 1960s—was as much a central protagonist on the stage of the post-war metropolis as the suave ‘man about town’ or the ‘spiv’.

Keywords:   Cold War, John Le Carré, Ian Fleming, Soviet Union, espionage, foreign relations, Peter Kroger, Bernard Newman

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