The Secret Life of Marian Kaufman

Back during the Second World War, spies like Marian Kaufman provided a vital service of which few were aware. Utilizing a sophisticated knowledge of Morse code as well as foreign language, such spies were able to receive and interpret enemy messages that provided their side of the war with valuable information. In this case, the language was Japanese, and Marian Kaufman served Australia while she was still just a teenager, albeit a highly intellectual one.

She did not speak of her espionage for the Australian military for at least three decades following the end of her tenure as a spy under the ASWG. This stood for the Australian Special Wireless Group, a team of Morse code breakers of which Marian Kaufman was part. She spent around ninety days in training before becoming a full-fledged participant in the ASWG, where she found that the other members of the group were incredibly welcoming and worked incredibly well together. She began to feel as if they were something akin to a family.

Her job did not depend as highly on interpreting the language of Kana as it did on interpreting the Morse code that the messages were sent in. Once this was written down, she was able to send it to the Central Bureau and they would deal with the translation. Marian Kaufman had to be able to interpret these messages as they were being received, a tough job for which she received no true recognition due to the covert nature of the operation, the Geelong Advertiser reports.

She was finally recognized in 2009 with a medal for her service. She spent a good deal of the rest of her life focusing on the building of her family as well as the enjoyment of her free time. Marian Kaufman was employed in the world of gardening for some time, and even after retirement this remained one of her key interests. She used the intelligence she harnessed during her work for the Australian military to remember plant names, and she also began writing.

Marian Kaufman was a part of something invaluable to the Australian war effort during the Second World War. Aside from her brilliance, she has also kept the bright spirit she had in those days, and has spent many of her years since taking vacations around the world. One might never expect from her demeanor that Marian Kaufman used to be a spy for the military, a woman who kept the most useful chapter of her life shrouded in secrecy for decades.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE