Character: Evdokia Petrova
You have been subpoenaed to appear before the Royal Commission on Espionage. A subpoena is a formal written order issued by a court commanding a person to appear under penalty as a witness in a trial or an inquiry such as a Royal Commission.
All three members of the group will work closely together to prepare for the Character to appear before the Royal Commission. This will involve:
Preparing a speech (testimony) which outlines, from your point of view:
who you are;
- your views on communism and the USSR (Soviet Union);
- your role in the Soviet Embassy;
- the extent of espionage within Australia;
- why you defected;
- the impact of your defection on you; and
your understanding of the response of Australians to communism and the events of the Petrov Affair.
Preparing evidence (facts, documents etc) that supports your case.
You will be called when the Royal Commissioners are ready for you.
Be prepared to answer any questions from the Royal Commissioners especially about Soviet espionage in Australia.
Their marriage in 1940 was one of convenience—he was a safe choice for her. She had been married before and her husband’s arrest and execution almost brought about her own.
Robert Manne, The Petrov Affair, 1987
Had I received human treatment from my own people I would have not hesitated in returning to the Soviet Union in spite of my husband’s decision to remain in Australia. I have my own family in the USSR also many friends to whom I am deeply devoted—my decision to remain in Australia was not made lightly.
Evdokia Petrova, Empire of Fear, 1956
“Under the floodlights of the airport I saw the milling crowd like a roaring sea around us. I lost my right shoe, and asked my escorts to get it back for me, but they would not stop.” Evdokia Petrova, Empire of Fear, 1956
“She was repulsed at the probability of being reduced to a penniless human struggling for existence, following a term of imprisonment in a Labour Camp. She had risen from obscurity to a position of authority; she had a social standing—she could hardly be expected to sacrifice all of her life. Her parents would understand the position. Later, however she exhibited pangs of conscience. The form it took effected every person at the Safe House.” ASIO Safe House Chronicler
“…the realization of the fate of her mother, sister and brother, struck hard at Mrs Petrov’s conscience. Her remorse knew few bounds, and in her own company her thoughts of them became nightmares…” ASIO Safe House Chronicler
“The Soviet Embassy in Canberra, whose doors we entered for the first time on 5th February 1951, was, to a unique degree among foreign embassies, a microcosm of its parent. It was a Soviet fortress on alien territory, a little Moscow on Australian soil.” The Petrovs, Empire of Fear, 1956
“The gates stood open during the day; postmen, telegraph boys, tradesmen and visitors came and went by the front entrance. But behind this undramatic façade was a mentality that was constantly on the defensive and maintained a barrier between ourselves and the town and people around us.” The Petrovs, Empire of Fear, 1956
“No one can even begin to understand how people think and behave in the Soviet Union until he grasps this perpetual obsession with lurking enemies, internal and external alike.” Evdokia Petrova, Empire of Fear, 1956
Evdokia Petrova: Mr. Petrov’s wife; in Russian, womens’ surnames take a feminine ending.
The CODE NAME for Petrova: TAMARA (this was actually her sister’s name!)
The iconic object of the Petrov Affair is Mrs Petrov’s shoe. From the moment it was lost on the tarmac at Mascot Airport it became imbued with meaning. It is remembered by many Australians as the ‘Red Shoe’. Yet it is most unlikely the shoe was actually red. Its reputation as red almost certainly refers to its Communist origins. But the ‘Red Shoe’ is more than just a symbol of Communism on Australian soil. It represents a uniquely 1950s version of female identity. 1950s Australia read Mrs Petrov’s distress as much by her bare foot as by her anguished expression.
- Old Parliament House Petrov Affair website – Fallout
- The National Archives of Australia – The Petrov Affair
- Australians at War, Freedom of Speech – ‘The Petrovs.’ See and listen to Michael Thwaites. An Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs website
- Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Spies who loved us’, Tony Stephens, 27 July 2002