Elizabeth Bentley

Female, Literature Subject

1908 – 1963


Who was Elizabeth Bentley?

Elizabeth Terrill Bentley was an American spy for the Soviet Union from 1938 until 1945. In 1945 she defected from the Communist Party and Soviet intelligence and became an informer for the U.S. She exposed two networks of spies, ultimately naming over 80 Americans who had engaged in espionage for the Soviets. When her testimony became public in 1948, it became a media sensation and had a major impact on Soviet espionage cases of the 1950s.

Bentley provided no documentary evidence to support her claims and the accuracy of her allegations was long disputed. However, the declassification of both Soviet documents and the U.S. codebreaking Venona project have confirmed that the basis of Bentley's allegations were correct, and that upon Bentley's defection the Soviet Union temporarily suspended all espionage activities in the United States.

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Jan 1, 1908
New Milford
  • United States of America
  • Vassar College
  • Columbia University
  • University of Florence
Lived in
  • Connecticut
Dec 3, 1963
New Haven

on July 23, 2013


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