Kitty Harris

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This article is part of the
Venona
series.

CPUSA
Industrial Workers of the World
Cambridge Five
Manhattan Project

Kitty Harris was a Soviet secret agent. Harris was born in London, and later emigrated with her family to Winnipeg, Canada. She became a dedicated socialist and became active in the Industrial Workers of the World and a leader of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. When, in the years afterwards, the IWW was broken up and accused of communist leanings, Harris became radicalized and left the group. She joined the CPUSA in 1923. She became involved with Earl Browder, another former Wobbly who had links to Moscow. When he went to China in 1928, Harris joined him and began to serve him as a covert messenger.

Her ability was noted by the Comintern and she was sent to Berlin where she performed a number of duties. When Nazi anti-Semitism made her position too risky she was transferred to Britain, where she became a part of the team funneling information from the Cambridge Five back to Moscow. She eventually became Donald Duart Maclean's main contact.

In 1941, Harris was sent to the United States as part of the operation against the Manhattan Project. In early 1943 Harris was sent to Mexico City to be a courier for Lev Vasilevsky, KGB Rezident in Mexico. She was further detailed by Vasilevsky to the Sante Fe drugstore safe house where she coordinated the front's clandestine activities. (Source: SS, p.58-63) Her complete role in this operation is still unknown. After violating protocol by meeting with her parents, she was transferred to Mexico after the war.

She became ill, however, and it was decided that she should be retired from active service. She was given an apartment in Riga. Soon after she developed problems with alcoholism and mental illness. She died only a few years later.

Her code name in the Venona files is "Ada" or "Aida".

Source

  • Jerrold L. Schecter and Leona Schecter, Sacred Secrets: How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 2002).
  • John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America, (Yale University Press 1999).
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