Helen Witte Silvermaster née Vera Lavrow was born 19 July 1899 in Russia. Her father, Baron Peter Wittee, was a counselor to the Czar and acted as advisor to the Mongolian government. After the October Revolution he was released and later became the head of the Rice Institute in the Southern Ukraine. He was known in Russia as the “Red Baron” for his support of the Bolsheviks. After the Revolution she traveled to China and married a Russian becoming Vera Ivanova Witte about 1923. They emigrated to San Francisco in 1924 where her son, Anatole Boris Volkov was born in 1924. Shortly after Anatole's birth the couple separated and Helen began living with Nathan Gregory Silvermaster. They were married in 1930.
The couple came to Washington D.C. in 1939. In Washington Helen was one of the leaders of the Washington Bookshop, the American League for Peace and Democracy, the Washington Committee for Aid to China, and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. All these organizations were Comintern and CPUSA sponsored organizations.
Helen's code name with Soviet intelligence and in the Venona project is "Dora".
- Silvermaster Group FBI FOIA
- Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev, The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—the Stalin Era (New York: Random House, 1999).