Jona von Ustinov
German-British journalist, diplomat and spy
Jona von Ustinov
Jona Baron von Ustinov was a German journalist and diplomat who worked for MI5 during the time of the Nazi regime. He was the son of Baron Plato von Ustinov and father of the actor Sir Peter Ustinov.
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  • 1962
    Age 69
    Ustinov died on 1 December 1962 in Eastleach, Gloucestershire from a massive heart attack.
    More Details Hide Details Administration of his estate was given to his wife, Nadia, on 7 May 1963 - his effects were valued at £1 196.
  • 1939
    Age 46
    He also tried to convince the British government of a more robust attitude towards Nazi Germany. Seven months before the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939, he was able to acquire the German plans.
    More Details Hide Details He later regretted that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain could not bring himself to take any action.
  • 1935
    Age 42
    Due to his political opinions Ustinov got into problems with the new Nazi government almost immediately. In 1935 the conflict culminated when Ustinov refused to prove that he was not of Jewish descent ("Ariernachweis").
    More Details Hide Details As a result he lost his job and chose to become a British citizen, thus avoiding internment or deportation later during the war. Meanwhile, he had begun working for the British intelligence service MI5 and hosted secret meetings of senior British and German officials at his London home. Notable among these guests were the diplomat Robert Vansittart and Winston Churchill (then out of power). Another was Baron Wolfgang zu Putlitz, a First Secretary of the German Embassy in London who provided detailed information about German rearmament. It was, alleged Peter Wright, "priceless intelligence, possibly the most important human-source intelligence Britain received in the prewar period".
  • 1920
    Age 27
    On 17 July 1920 he married the painter Nadezhda Leontievna Benois (aka Nadia Benois) (1896-1975), daughter of Leon Benois.
    More Details Hide Details The Ustinovs returned to London where Klop became a press officer for the German Embassy. Their son Peter was born on 16 April 1921.
  • 1917
    Age 24
    His brother Peter von Ustinow joined the same unit and was killed in action on 13 July 1917.
    More Details Hide Details After the war Ustinov worked for "Wolff's Telegraphisches Bureau", the first German news agency, in Amsterdam.
  • 1900
    Age 7
    Ustinov went to school in Jaffa, where - until 1900 - his father hosted the school of the Protestant Immanuel congregation in his Hôtel du Parc, later in Düsseldorf, and Yverdon.
    More Details Hide Details He studied at Grenoble University in France and worked at University of Berlin before moving to London. This peripatetic life engendered in Ustinov a cosmopolitan attitude that made him averse to any kind of nationalism. In World War I he was conscripted into the German Army and served in the Army Air Service unit Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 250. He was awarded the Württembergian Military Merit Order for his services.
  • 1892
    Born in 1892.
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