Sidney Reilly

Shlomo Rosenblum (born in Odessa in 1874) was recruited by MI6 before World War I and at one time considered Britain’s most important secret agent.

He changed his name to Sidney Reilly because “In Europe, only the British hate the Irish, but everyone hates the Jews.”

Sidney Reilly was a talented actor who spoke seven languages, and an extremely confident man. This meant he was able to pass as a Russian docker or a German army officer. His exploits included saving diplomats in the jungles of South America to infiltrating the German High Command during World War I.


Reilly was said to have been killed by the Russians near the Finnish border in 1925, but others claimed he was imprisoned and became an advisor to Feliks Dzerzhinsky, head of Lenin’s secret police.

In 2003 British MI5 documents revealed he was captured at the Finnish border and executed after questioning by the Russians in 1925. It turns out Reilly was only a “real” spy for four years, but managed to convince his colleagues in MI6 (called MI1c at the time) he had been with them for much longer than that.

Sidney Reilly’s life was glamourised in the TV series Reilly – Ace of Spies.