Zarubina, Elizaveta Yulevna

(1900–1987)
   Before her 20th birthday, Zarubina had taken part in underground Communist Party activities behind enemy lines in the Russian civil war. After serving as a translator for Soviet trade agencies in Vienna, she joined the intelligence service. From 1925 to 1938 she worked as an illegal in Turkey, Denmark, Germany, France, and the United States. While in Turkey, she betrayed her first husband, Yakov Blumkin, who had formed a personal relationship with Leon Trotsky. Blumkin was recalled to the Soviet Union and later executed.
   In 1941 she worked in the rezidentura in Washington with her husband Vasily Zarubin and was successful in recruiting and running agents. In order to gather information about the U.S. nuclear weapons program, she persuaded Maria Konnenkova, a female NKVD staff officer, to seduce Albert Einstein and recruit him as a source. According to NKVD records, the seduction was successful although the recruitment was not.
   An American counterintelligence agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation remembered Zarubina as a “frail, pretty, middle-aged woman with an aristocratic manner.” The agent noted: “she was sort of a Red Joan of Arc, a saint whose faith in the Soviet Union was pure and bottomless.” Zarubina was recalled to Moscow with her husband in 1944. She served in Moscow from 1944 to 1946, when she retired from the service with the rank of colonel. She was apparently the first woman to hold that rank in Russian foreign intelligence.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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