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  • Helen Fry

A Tribute To Susan Lustig (1921 - 2013)

Updated: Dec 18, 2018


This month saw the passing of a much-respected war veteran, devoted wife and mother: Susan Lustig.


Susan was born Susanne Cohn in Breslau in 1921 at a time when no one could have suspected the horrors that would besiege the region after Hitler came to power in 1933. She managed to flee to England in July 1939. Life was not easy for a penniless refugee in London in those days but Susan always kept her optimistic and cheerful outlook through difficult times. She had an extremely interesting and important war when she transferred from the ATS to the Intelligence Corps in December 1943.


After an interview at the War Office she was posted to a top-secret unit, first at first Latimer House and then Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire, where German emigres were secretly bugging the conversations of German prisoners-of-war for British Intelligence. Here she was immediately promoted to Sergeant and worked on prisoners’ personal classified intelligence files. She was required to sign the Official Secrets Act and not allowed to talk to family or friends about it.


It was at this unit (MI19) that Susan met fellow-refugee Fritz Lustig, her husband of 67 years. Fritz was one of the secret listeners there who worked in the “M Room”, bugging the conversations. After the war Susan discovered the awful truth that her mother, who could not get out of Breslau, had died in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis.


In latter years Susan and Fritz were very happy to record their stories in two books: The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens, and The M Room: Secret Listeners who Bugged the Nazis. It was an absolute delight for Susan to be able to attend the launch of The M Room in January at the London Jewish Cultural Centre and the proudness on her face as she and two other veterans (one of whom was her husband) received public recognition of their extraordinary contribution to the war and defeat of Nazism.