Ruth Werner

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Ruth Werner (born May 15, 1907 in Schöneberg ; † July 7, 2000 in Berlin ), actually Ursula Beurton , previously Ursula Hamburger , born Ursula Maria Kuczynski , was a German communist , writer and agent for the Soviet military intelligence service GRU . There she was led under the code name "Sonja" and last held the rank of colonel . As an author she worked from 1958 under the pseudonym Ruth Werner , the maiden name of the actress Helga Molander .


Ursula Kuczynski was born as one of six children of Robert René Kuczynski and Berta Kuczynski into a wealthy Jewish family in Schöneberg . Her father worked as an economist and statistician. Her older brother was the economist Jürgen Kuczynski .

She grew up in a villa on the Schlachtensee in Berlin. She attended a lyceum in Berlin-Zehlendorf . From 1924 to 1926 she trained as a bookseller. At the beginning of her professional training, she became a member of the Communist Youth Association Germany .

In 1926 she joined the Communist Party of Germany . In 1926/27 she attended a school for librarians and worked for a lending library; then she was employed by Ullstein Verlag , from which she was dismissed in May 1928 for participating in a May 1 demonstration . She founded the Marxist Workers' Library (MAB Berlin) and took over its management. She began to write for the party newspapers of the KPD Die Rote Fahne and Welt am Abend . From December 1928 to August 1929 she worked in a bookstore in New York.

Work for the Soviet Union

In 1929 she married the German architect Rudolf Hamburger and went to Shanghai with him in 1930 , as there was a lot of construction going on there at that time. Their son Michael was born in 1931 . In Shanghai, after four and a half months, she met Richard Sorge , through the left American journalist Agnes Smedley , who recruited her for the GRU and had information gathered in China for the Soviet Union. She kept in contact with Chinese Communists who had gone into hiding, stored weapons and hid someone who was wanted. When her husband found out about this, the marriage fell apart. After two years of activity, she went to Moscow in 1933 on the recommendation of Richard Sorge to learn the trade of agents thoroughly. There she was u. a. trained as a radio operator and learned to use Morse Code . Meanwhile, her son Michael lived with her in-laws in Czechoslovakia .

Ursula Hamburger served in the GRU military intelligence service in Asia and Europe. In 1934 she was in Mukden , Manchuria , which Japan had occupied since the Mukden incident of 1931. Your management agent there called himself Ernst . She had a temporary romance with him. When the GRU feared the exposure of the two agents in 1935, they ordered Ruth Werner, who was expecting her daughter Janina from Ernst in April 1936, with her husband to Poland . In 1937 she received the Order of the Red Banner in Moscow for her work in China .

Before the German Reich attacked Poland after the Hitler-Stalin Pact was concluded and the German-Polish non-aggression pact was broken , Werner and her husband and the secret broadcaster had already fled to Switzerland in 1938 under the name Ursula Schulz .

In Switzerland she recruited resistance groups for use in Germany. From there she also radioed for Sándor Radó as part of the Red Chapel . In February 1939 she met the English communists and Spanish fighters Len Beurton and Alexander Foote in Switzerland . Foote, who had been recommended to her by Moscow headquarters because of his glorious service in the Spanish Civil War , put her on the Messerschmitt works . His compatriot Len Beurton was supposed to establish contact with IG Farben . For Beurton it was love at first sight according to his descriptions. She described it as a duty of disguise.

When Germany occupied the Free City of Danzig with the attack on Poland in 1939 , Ruth Werner built resistance groups in the city.

In Switzerland, she married her second husband Len Beurton in early 1940 and obtained British citizenship . In 1940 Werner was sent by the GRU to the United Kingdom to set up a network and lived there until 1949. In 1943 she gave birth to her son Peter. She settled in the Oxford area in order to work from 1943 as a courier for the " nuclear spies " Klaus Fuchs and Melita Norwood . This accelerated the development of the Soviet atomic bomb , which was detonated for the first time in a test in 1949. In addition to Fuchs and Norwood, she led a Royal Air Force officer , a specialist in submarine radar, and obtained information from her brother, her father and other German emigrants.

Werner managed to tap into the US secret service in the fall of 1944 . Since the Americans wanted to drop German emigrants over Germany as parachutists at the end of World War II , they made sure that the majority of them were reliable Communists who were supposed to provide their information from National Socialist Germany not only to Washington but also to Moscow.

From 1945

In 1949 Werner had to flee Great Britain because of the exposure of Klaus Fuchs and went to East Berlin in the GDR . In 1950 Werner left the GRU at his own request.

“She was perhaps the most successful scout of the Soviet Union in World War II” and one of the few who survived Stalin's distrust, his purges and waves of arrests unscathed. However, 10 years after she left the GRU, she was dismissed from the Information Office in the GDR because she forgot to close a safe door. After six years in civil service, she initially worked as an author mainly on the publication of children's books. During this time she took on her pseudonym Ruth Werner .

In 1969 the GRU honored her with a second Order of the Red Banner, the highest military order in the Soviet Union. Until 1977 she fulfilled her duty of confidentiality in an extremely disciplined manner.

With the publication of her autobiography Sonjas Rapport in the GDR, she achieved great popularity. In the bestseller, however, she withheld her contacts with Klaus Fuchs, who was still alive at the time. In the same year she was honored in the GDR with the First Class National Prize and the Karl Marx Order .

For the peaceful revolution in the GDR, the now 82-year-old stepped onto the political stage again in November 1989 and spoke of her trust in socialism with a human face in the Berlin Lustgarten before tens of thousands after the fall of the Berlin Wall . At first she put great trust in Egon Krenz . Then she withdrew from the public again.

Until her death she was a member of the "Council of Elders" in the PDS executive committee .

At her burial in July 2000 at the Baumschulenweg cemetery in Berlin , an envoy from the Russian Federation spoke as a funeral orator. Without Werner ever wearing a uniform, she was a colonel in the Red Army . She was posthumously awarded the Russian Order of Friendship .

People of the "Red Chapel"


as Ursula Beurton :

  • Always on the move. Report from Prague about the activities of our engineers abroad. Publishing house Die Wirtschaft, Berlin 1956

as Ruth Werner :

  • An unusual girl. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1958
  • Olga Benario. The story of a brave life. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1961
  • Over a hundred mountains. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1965
  • A summer day. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1966
  • In the hospital. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1968
  • Auntie flour. New edition: Spotless, Berlin 2000
  • Small fish - big fish. Journalism from two decades. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1972
  • The armored Doris. Children's book publisher, Berlin 1973
  • A warm February in summer. Children's book publisher, Berlin 1973
  • The china dealer's gong. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1976
  • Father's dear good leg. Children's book publisher, Berlin 1977
  • Thoughts on the bike. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1980
  • Course talks. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1988
  • Sonja's report (autobiographical). First complete edition, Verlag Neues Leben (Eulenspiegel Verlagsgruppe) 2006 (first 1977), ISBN 3-355-01721-3


  • 1980: Muhme Mehle (TV film)
  • Sonja's report. DEFA feature film 1982; Director: Bernhard Stephan
  • Sabine Mieder : Code name Sonja - the secret life of the agent Ruth Werner. First broadcast February 7, 2001
  • Top Secret: Heroes and Traitors. Three-part documentary, Germany 2007, first broadcast on October 1, 2009, last broadcast on ARD on April 5, 2014


in order of appearance

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Karin Hartewig, Bernd-Rainer Barth:  Werner, Ruth . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  2. Thomas Karny: "Sonja" - Stalin's best spy. In: Wiener Zeitung . May 11, 2007.
  3. Unabridged version of the GDR bestseller “Sonjas Rapport” . Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, February 28, 2006 ( Memento from May 4, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Top Secret: The Story of Espionage (1/3) - Heroes and Traitors. In: . 5th April 2014.