11/23/2021

SpyMaster; The Man Who Saved MI6 - Helen Fry

At 7pm on Tuesday 23rd November, we will be welcoming Helen Fry into our library, who will be talking about Thomas Joseph Kendrick, one of the British Secret Service's most senior spymasters in the 20th century. Kendrick was placed as SIS head of station in Vienna, a capital at the heart of Europe's espionage hub and one of SIS's most important stations. After Hitler's annexed Austria in March 1938, Kendrick and his staff worked in 12 hour shifts to save up to 200 Austrian Jews a day, a legacy of incredible humanitarian effort that has yet to see him fully recognised.

Denounced by a double agent on August 1938, Kendrick's arrest caused panic in Whitehall because it was feared that the whole European network of spies was at risk. The spymaster refused to give up the SIS network. He was unceremoniously thrown out of Austria and returned to Britain with a cloud of espionage chargers hanging over him. He re-emerged during the Second World War, still operating a clandestine spy unit against Nazi Germany but this time from within Britain's borders, which saw his teams working closely with Alan Turing, Dilly Knox and others at Bletchley Park. By his incredible wartime operations, Kendrick has enabled SIS/MI6 to survive, and his intelligence unit also prepared Britain ahead of the Cold War.

"An exhaustively-researched book on a man whose life cried out for an autobiography... an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of a secret." The Guardian

"An absorbing biography... Fry has done a remarkable job of reconstructing the life, networks and secrets of a man who spent most of his existence hiding them" The Times

"A must-read for everyone interested in British intelligence." Tessa Dunlop, author of The Bletchley Girls