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Len Deighton at 90 March 24, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve always been an unashamed fan of Deighton’s, albeit his politics was a fair bit more rightwards than mine, and likely yours. I think his thrillers, particularly the earlier ones, address the nature of change in British society during the 1960s and 1970s extremely adeptly. Anyhow, I just realised he turned 90 last month. So, happy birthday and many happy returns to him.

And looking at his wiki page there was this fascinating snippet:

Deighton’s interest in spy stories may have been partially inspired by the arrest of Anna Wolkoff, which he witnessed as an 11-year-old boy. Wolkoff, a British subject of Russian descent, was a German spy and next door neighbour of the Deightons. She was detained on 20 May 1940 and subsequently convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act for attempting to pass secret documents to the Germans.[7]

What an interesting story Wolkoff had. White Russian and involved in The Right Club, an effectively fascist and viciously anti-semitic organisation of anti-war supporters within the British establishment. Fairly heavily infiltrated by MI5 from the off and despite publicly disbanding many of its members wound up interned for the duration of the war.

I’m always intrigued by how that strand of reaction that Wolkoff belonged to managed to engage with national socialism which was vehemently anti-slav. Does this paper perhaps begin to give an answer to that question… hinging on the definition of Russian.


1. EWI - March 24, 2019

I actually met a Volga German a few years ago, an immigrant working here. They still exist!


WorldbyStorm - March 24, 2019

Wow. That’s interesting. And they have a clearly defined sense of ethnicity?


yourcousin - March 24, 2019

Taking into account my inherent bias. Why would they not?


WorldbyStorm - March 24, 2019

I know what you mean but I ask it in the sense that it has survived the experience of the Second World War and the Soviet period?


EWI - March 25, 2019

Apparently so. I’ll admit, I didn’t want to inquire too deeply about the whole thing.


WorldbyStorm - March 25, 2019

I’d be the same tbh.


2. 6to5against - March 24, 2019

Deighton is an interesting writer. I really liked SS GB.
His agent , Jonathan Clowes, was an interesting charactor too. The story of how they got together is a good one…

Liked by 1 person

3. Starkadder - March 24, 2019

“I’m always intrigued by how that strand of reaction that Wolkoff belonged to managed to engage with national socialism which was vehemently anti-slav”.

Alfred Rosenberg, a Baltic German, was seeped in Tsarist-era antisemitism. He promoted the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and
may have been familar with the anti-semitic pamphlets of the Black Hundreds.


WorldbyStorm - March 24, 2019

I guess it was that most of those considered ‘Russian’ were actually Baltic or other Germans. It would be interesting to know what their perspective say as regards the Russian aristocracy was. though that said all those aristocratic families across Europe were interlinked.


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