Edward Crankshaw

Edward Crankshaw (3 January 1909 – 30 November 1984)[1] was a British writer, author, translator and commentator; best known for his work on Soviet affairs and the Gestapo (Secret State Police) of Nazi Germany.


William Edward Crankshaw was born in the suburban town of Woodford, County of Essex, England on 3 January 1909 to Arthur Edward Crankshaw (1876–1965) and Amy Beatrice Crankshaw (1879–1962). He had one sibling, a younger brother Geoffrey Crankshaw (1912–2009) a noted critic of English music. Edward Crankshaw was educated in the Nonconformist public school Bishop’s Stortford College, Hertfordshire, England. He started working as a journalist for a few months at The Times. In the 1930s he lived in Vienna, Austria, teaching English and learning German. He witnessed Adolf Hitler’s Austro-German union in 1938, and predicted the Second World War while living there.[clarification needed]

In 1940 Crankshaw was contacted by the Secret Intelligence Service because of his knowledge of German.[clarification needed] During World War II he served as a “Y” (Signals Intelligence) officer in the British Army. From 1941 to 1943 he was assigned to the British Military Mission in Moscow, where he served initially as an Army “Y” specialist[2] and later as the accredited representative of the British “Y” services, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.[3] Following a breakdown in “Y” cooperation with the Soviet General Staff in December 1942, the British “Y” Board recalled Crankshaw to London in February 1943. In May he was assigned to Bletchley Park, where he served as a liaison officer on matters pertaining to Russia.[4]

From 1947 to 1968 he worked for the British Sunday newspaper The Observer, specializing in Soviet affairs. He obtained a transcript of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev‘s secret denunciation of Stalin in 1956, a newspaper sensation. While a junior reporter, Crankshaw had been summoned by Guy Burgess of the Foreign Office to be criticized for being “too soft towards Russia”; after Burgess was unmasked as one of the Cambridge Five spies (for the Soviet Union), and fled to Moscow, Crankshaw met him there several times, though he did not report on Burgess for The Observer, and ended up liking the spy.[5]

Crankshaw died on 30 November 1984 in Hawkhurst, Kent.

Books in order of publication:

Cracks in the Kremlin1951
Russia Without Stalin1956
Khrushchev’s Russia1959
The Fall of the House of Habsburg1963
Joseph Conrad: Some Aspects of the Art of the Novel1963
Krushchev a Career1966
Maria Theresa1970
The New Cold War: Moscow V. Pekin1970
The Habsburgs1971
Krushchev Remembers1974
The Forsaken Idea; A Study of Viscount Milner1974
The Shadow of the Winter Palace: Russia’s Drift to Revolution 1825-19171976
Vienna: The Image of a Culture in Decline1976
Putting Up with the Russians1985
Russia and the Russians2011
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