Posted 22 июня 2021, 16:34

Published 22 июня 2021, 16:34

Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:37

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MI5 archives: "red Mata Hari" could be involved in the murder of Maxim Gorky

22 июня 2021, 16:34
Фото: Геннадий Чародеев / нет
The British authorities removed the secrecy label from the encrypted messages of MI5 agents who worked in Moscow in the 1930s, including about the life and work of Baroness Maria Budberg, personal secretary and beloved woman of Maxim Gorky.

Today she is suspected of having links with the intelligence services of three countries and the murder of the great writer.

Sergey Kron

British intelligence, it turns out, has been following Budberg, nee Zakrevskaya, for a long time, literally following her on her heels - in London, Berlin and Moscow. In their reports, the agents called Budberg a "spy, lesbian, drunkard" and "a very dangerous woman". In London, newspapers called her "Red Mata Hari".

Maria Ignatievna Budberg has been under the "cap" of MI-5 since 1927, when she officially moved with her children from the Soviet Union to Foggy Albion. Using her connections in Moscow, she came to visit Maxim Gorky whenever she liked. She could fall into the mansion on the Nikitsky Gate even in the middle of the night. And, as a result, she fell in love with the writer.

Stalin "patronized" personally

The punchy character of Budberg amazed the Russians, the British, and the Germans. It was rumored that she enjoyed the support of many influential persons in the USSR, including the head of the OGPU (Joint State Political Directorate), Heinrich Yagoda, and even Joseph Stalin himself.

Gorky, in one of his letters to the leader, called Mary "my informant". She corresponded with many well-known politicians and cultural figures in Europe. The "iron woman", as the writer Nina Berberova called her, could well have been used to obtain information about the mood among the foreign intelligentsia. Gorky all the time advised Stalin: in order to ensure the authority of the Soviet state, it is imperative to get closer to the intelligentsia of England and France. “Otherwise it won't work,” the writer thought.

“There has always been talk of Maria Budberg’s connections with the Cheka”, - the well-known Gorky scholar Vladimir Barakhov told Novye Izvestia. - But I made inquiries in the archives of the Lubyanka. There is no evidence that this woman worked for the OGPU. True, it is possible that the secret services simply decided to keep the "agent Mura" secret forever.

One of the MI5 employees, who compiled a detailed account of Budberg's personality, claimed that this woman not only served as Gorky's secretary, but also "was his common-law wife." The informant was struck by the fact that the beautiful Budberg "could have drunk a lot of alcohol, especially gin, and at the same time did not lose her mind." The secret agent said bluntly: “This woman can betray or set up. It's hard to deal with her".

But foreign intelligence services were interested not so much in Budberg herself as in those men who were next to her - Gorky, Lockhart, Freud, Rilke, Wells, Chukovsky, Nietzsche, Peters, Yagoda, Stalin.

Apparently, the British and German special services took care of a valuable informant, therefore they ignored any "libels" against Budberg. And once, apparently, “for special merits” "the leaders of MI-5" struck "Maria Ignatievna" eternal residence permit "in London. There, until the end of her life, she lived with her two children.

The Baroness herself, by the way, never once confirmed or denied suspicions about her connections with Soviet, British or German intelligence.

Museum staff A.M. Gorky was told that a lot of gossip, rumors and legends still circulate around the name of Maria Budberg. The personality of the "red Mata Hari" is still prejudiced today. Here's just one example.

Gorky, together with theater director Meyerhold, architect Iofan and other figures, signed a letter to the authorities asking them to destroy the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, built in honor of the victory of the Russian people over Napoleon in 1812. On December 5, 1931, at 12 noon, the main Orthodox church in Russia was blown up. Plates with the names of the heroes of the Patriotic War were crushed and the paths in Moscow parks were sprinkled with crumbs from them... There were persistent rumors that it was Budberg who persuaded Gorky and Meyerhold to sign the letter.

Who really was - Maria Ignatievna Zakrevskaya-Budberg?

She loved security officers, writers and just men

The girl Masha was born in 1892 in Poltava in a noble and wealthy family. Her father was a Senate official Ignatius Platonovich Zakrevsky. In 1911, Mura (that was the name of her relatives) was sent to London, where her half-brother served as a court counselor at the Russian embassy. Soon, the girl married the secretary of the Russian embassy, Ivan Benkendorf. Later he was transferred to Germany, his wife went with him to Berlin.

The First World War began, and the couple were forced to return to Russia. They settled in the Benckendorff family estate near Reval. In 1917, Maria's husband was killed by rebellious peasants. Mura was left a widow with two children - her son Pavel and daughter Tatyana.

Very soon she remarried to Baron Budberg. However, in fact, the marriage lasted only a few days: the newly made spouse turned out to be a mot and a womanizer. Nevertheless, Maria Ignatievna liked the title of Baroness so much that she bore the surname Budberg until the end of her life.

After an unsuccessful marriage, Maria went to Petrograd, where she got a job as a nurse in an officer's hospital. After some time, she, who knew English and German perfectly, made acquaintance with the British ambassador to Russia, Robert Lockhart. They soon became lovers.

Not very, it would seem, sentimental, like all spies, Lockhart later described his feelings in The Memoirs of a British Agent: “Something entered my life that was stronger than life itself. Maria! From that moment on, she did not leave me, until the military force of the Bolsheviks separated us. "

Budberg and Lockhart moved to Moscow. But in September 1918, the diplomat was arrested on charges of "conspiracy of ambassadors" who tried to overthrow the Soviet regime.

From the documents of the investigation it follows that on the night of September 1, 1918, a detachment of Chekists under the leadership of the Kremlin commandant Malkov conducted a search in Lockhart's apartment. This is what they saw there: “Vases of fruit and flowers, wine and biscuit cake in the living room. A beautiful woman, Lockhart's concubine, a certain Mura in the diplomat's bedroom".

Budberg was arrested, and she ended up in the basements of the Lubyanka. However, when he was released, Lockhart went to rescue his beloved. First, he turned to the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs with a request for her release, then directly to the formidable deputy. Chairman of the Cheka Yakov Peters. The Chekists released Mura almost immediately.

Historians have their own versions on this score. First, Budberg could have been recruited into the OGPU. In addition, it is known that she became the mistress of the then head of the Cheka Peters.

For Lockhart, everything ended relatively well, too, but he had to leave Russia. Budberg returned to Petrograd. The writer Korney Chukovsky helped her with work, who arranged for Maria Ignatievna to work at the World Literature publishing house. A little later, Chukovsky introduced her to Gorky.

Are the manuscripts not burning?

The "great proletarian writer" invited Mura to the post of secretary, and she accepted this offer. Business relationships quickly developed into love relationships. Gorky even wanted to officially marry the beautiful Baroness, but was refused. Although she lived with him, she was in charge of the household, in charge of all the affairs.

Prior to that, Maria had accompanied her "boss" more than once on trips abroad. Alexey Maksimovich was in love like a boy. At this time, Moura was in her early 30s, and she looked at 18 - without a single wrinkle on her face, with a thin waist and mischievous giggles in her eyes.

The writer dedicated one of his main works to this woman - "The Life of Klim Samgin".

It can be assumed that the Chekists turned to Maria Ignatevna for help in order to return Gorky to the USSR. Stalin was very afraid that the writer would criticize him from behind the hill. On Mura's advice, Gorky agreed to return. For some reason he left his entire archive to her.

According to the recollections of Gorky's granddaughter Marfa Maksimovna, Stalin once presented a huge bouquet of flowers to Budberg at his dacha in Gorki. It is not excluded that it could have been a gratitude from the head of state for the transfer of Gorky's secret "Italian archive" to him. There were many rumors around this event. Maria, according to Berberova, in a suitcase that the writer handed her back in Sorento, allegedly kept Gorky's correspondence with anti-Stalinists abroad.

Stalin was especially interested in the details of Gorky's communication with Bukharin, Rykov and other Soviet leaders who, having escaped from the USSR on a business trip, bombarded the writer with letters about the atrocities of "the wisest and greatest." Until now, historians are looking for this mysterious suitcase.

Subsequently, in Moscow, evil tongues talked about the fact that it was Baroness Budberg who poisoned Gorky on the instructions of Stalin. Indeed, Maria came to Moscow for the last time literally on the eve of the writer's death. Some historians have argued that it was she who remained in Gorky's bedroom in the last forty minutes of his life. There was one! She did not let Stalin, who was dying, even come to say goodbye, into the room. As soon as Budberg left, Gorky died. And she went somewhere with the leaders of the Cheka. Many home helpers have seen this.

The subsequent years for Maria Ignatievna passed calmly. After the death of Gorky, she settled in London, and a whirlwind romance broke out between her and the science fiction writer Herbert Wells. Wells passed away in 1946. He was 79 years old, Budberg 54 when Wells died. According to her will, Maria received part of the writer's huge inheritance and rights to all of his works. Budberg continued to lead a secular life, had a wide circle of acquaintances throughout Europe. In Russia, she no longer appeared. They say that Brezhnev ordered that.

In 1974, the Baroness moved to Italy, where her son lived. Two months later, Zakrevskaya-Budberg died in Rome. The body was transported to London, where a significant part of her life passed. The funeral service in the Orthodox Church was attended by the French ambassador, representatives of British intelligence and the Russian emigration.

Anticipating death, Maria Ignatievna burned the manuscripts and the entire personal archive, which for some reason she kept in a car trailer parked near the house. Maybe she was afraid of revenge of the Chekists? All secrets are gone with her...