Litzi Friedmann

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Alice Friedmann (née Kohlmann; 1910–1991), known as Litzi Friedmann, was an Austrian Communist who was the first wife of Kim Philby, a member of the Cambridge Five.[1]

Early life

Friedmann was born in Vienna to Israel and Gisella Kohlman in 1910.[2]

In 1931 Kohlmann married Karl Friedmann. They divorced one year later.

Political activity

Still living in Vienna, Friedmann joined the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) and worked for the Moscow-led European underground. She was imprisoned for several weeks in 1933; in this year, the KPÖ became an underground organisation. Friedmann had a wide network of Communist connections across Europe, including to Soviet intelligence.[3] She was also in a romantic relationship with Gábor Péter (Benjámin Eisenberger), who was then married to another woman.[4]

In February 1934, the government of Engelbert Dollfuss began a further crackdown on known leftists. Working with Kim Philby, Friedmann smuggled activists out of Vienna through the sewer system.[3]

The couple married in Vienna on 24 February, partly so Philby's British citizenship could protect Friedmann from the Austrian police. According to some sources, Teddy Kollek, later the Mayor of Jerusalem, was present at the wedding.[5]

In 1934, the Socialist movement collapsed, and the couple left Vienna for London in April to live with Philby's mother.[3] Friedmann had a friend in London who was working for Soviet intelligence, the photographer and fellow Viennese Edith Tudor-Hart. One biographer of Philby, Genrikh Borovik, who had access to the Soviet archives, says that Tudor-Hart recommended Friedmann and Philby as suitable candidates for NKVD recruitment.[6]

Friedmann and Philby split up in the 1930s – some sources claim that Philby had to distance himself from known communists to penetrate the British establishment. However, they remained in contact for years afterwards and divorced only in 1946.

In 1946, after the war, Friedmann and the German-Jewish refugee Georg Honigmann lived in East Berlin, where Honigmann became editor of the Berliner Zeitung.

Death and legacy

Friedmann died in 1991. Her daughter, German writer Barbara Honigmann has written a biography of Friedmann.[7]


  1. ^ "Spies and lovers". The Guardian. 2003-05-10.
  2. ^ Simkin, John. "Litzi Friedmann". Spartacus Educational. Spartacus Educational Publishers Ltd. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "My Spy". Lapham’s Quarterly. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  4. ^ Boris Volodarsky: Stalin's Agent: The Life and Death of Alexander Orlov. Oxford University Press, London, 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-965658-5.
  5. ^ Rufina Philby (2003). The Private Life of Kim Philby: The Moscow Years. ISBN 0-9536151-6-2.
  6. ^ Genrikh Borovik (1994). The Philby Files – The Secret Life of Master Spy Kim Philby. ISBN 0-316-10284-9.
  7. ^ Barbara Honigmann (2004). Ein Kapitel aus meinem Leben (A Chapter from my Life). ISBN 3-446-20531-4.

External links

  • An English-language review of Honigmann's biography of her mother
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