Bentley, Elizabeth (1908-1963)

Elizabeth Bentley

Elizabeth Bentley

American Communist and long-time Soviet intelligence agent who, in November 1945, betrayed agents and contacts of the Soviet intelligence network to the FBI. Bentley was a graduate of Vassar College (1930), Teachers College (1933) and the Columbia University School of Business (1936). According to Soviet intelligence files, she joined the Communist Party of the USA in 1935 under the party name of Elizabeth Sherman. Beginning in October 1938, she was an assistant to and girlfriend of Jacob Golos, who recruited her to work for Soviet intelligence (OGPUNKGB Foreign Intelligence). Until Golos’ death in November 1943, she served as his courier to sources in Washington, D.C.  From late 1943 until December 1944, Bentley acted as a courier between Soviet intelligence operatives and sources in Washington, D.C. and New York.

In November 1944, Bentley was awarded the USSR’s Order of the Red Star. In Soviet intelligence cable traffic from World War II, partially decrypted in the course of Operation Venona, Bentley appeared as “Umnitsa” [Clever girl] and “Mirna” [Myrna]. In November 1945, she was first interviewed by the FBI.  She appears in the FBI files of 1945 to 1949 under the code name “Gregory.”