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Once through the Preface and Introduction sections of Spymistress, chapter one details some of the history and beginnings which shaped the early life of Vera Atkins. Beginning with her birth in Romania and telling of her relationship with her father, Max Rosenberg. Rosenberg became somewhat of a mystery to the young Atkins as he remained faithful to his Jewish name at a time when he might have been much safer claiming his lawful German status. Due to Rosenberg's advice, "There is safety in conjecture," Atkins grew up learning to be a mass of conflictions. This served her well in later life, helping to confuse her enemies.
Upon her relocation to Britain, Atkins followed another piece of her father's advice when he advised her not to sign any paperwork. She created her own identity and took her maternal grandfather's surname, which he had already changed from Etkins due to anti-Semitism in Russia. Atkins, along with her mother and two brothers, was estranged from Rosenberg during the First World War, living in Germany, trapped there by the outbreak of war. They sought refuge with Rosenberg's brother, a German soldier. Once reunited, Rosenberg had the finest horsemen and marksmen teach his daughter to ride and shoot, the best dance teachers taught her to dance, and she was sent to finishing schools in France and Switzerland in the hope she would adopt the upper class sophistications which would enable her to travel through any borders. In her teens, Atkins assisted her father in helping to get Zionists, disguised as peasants, past border guards.
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