Stephanie von Hohenlohe (Stephany Richter), the daughter of Johann Sebastian Richter and Ludmilla Kuranda, a Jewish woman from Prague, was born in Vienna, on 16th September 1891. According to her half-sister, Gina Kaus, her real father was Max Wiener, a Jewish money-lender. Martha Schad, the author of Hitler's Spy Princess (2002) has pointed out: "While Richter was serving a seven-month prison sentence for embezzlement, his wife had a relationship with Wiener."
Stephanie did not enjoy her early education; "School was something of a trial because I was a very erratic pupil. Abysmally poor at mathematics, for some reason I excelled at physics. My other good points were history and P.E." At the age of fifteen she enrolled in the ballet school of the Vienna Court Opera. She later wrote that "by the age of sixteen I had something of a reputation as a beauty". She was then sent to a college in Eastbourne to learn English. Stephanie had a talent for languages, and by the time she was 21 she spoke several fluently.
In 1913 Stephanie had an affair with the married Archduke Franz Salvator, Prince of Tuscany. He was the son-in-law of Emperor Franz Joseph I. She was also having a sexual relationship with Prince Friedrich Franz von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst. When she became pregnant with Salvator's baby she convinced Friedrich that it was his child. They married on 12th May 1914, giving her the title of "princess", which she used the rest of her life.
On the outbreak of the First World War Stephanie volunteered to work as a nurse on the Eastern Front. According to her biographer, Jim Wilson: "She was no ordinary nurse; she was conspicuously accompanied wherever she went in the theatre of war by her butler and her chambermaid. This retinue ensured she did not last long nursing close to the front line. But in 1917, minus her servants, she accompanied the Austrian Army as a Red Cross nurse as they advanced to confront the Italians at the battle of Isonzo River. There she served in field hospitals and witnessed Austria's defeat in June 1918 on the River Piave."
Stephanie von Hohenlohe's son, Franz Josef, was born on 5th December 1914. Princess Stephanie and her husband were divorced in 1920. Her biographer has argued: "Only 5ft 5in tall, she possessed a magnetic personality, and her classic Grecian profile, striking Titian hair and beguiling charm engaged and fascinated all who met her. The princess had an intriguing reputation as a femme fatale, a temptress used to being showered with flowers, jewellery, furs and flattery from wealthy suitors who courted her as much for her title as her charismatic personality... She was bold, adventurous, manipulative, persuasive, and although few realised it then, she was potentially dangerous... She had the reputation of having exploited and rejected a catalogue of suitors, trapping the financial resources of many of them in the process."
In 1922 she moved to Nice where she began a relationship with the Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. She also became friendly with John Warden, an immensely rich American businessman from the family who owned Standard Oil. In 1925 she took an exclusive apartment at 45 Avenue George V in Paris where she employed a household staff of nine servants. During this period she became the mistress of British insurance tycoon Sir William Garthwaite.
Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stefanie Von Hohenlohe (2011) has argued: "Cunning and opportunistic, but radiating personality and charm, the princess cut a fascinating figure. It was not just her title and her confidence that impressed, it was the daring way she behaved. Few aristocratic, titled ladies in society had the nerve to openly smoke Havana cigars as Stephanie did. It was a habit she had picked up to avoid the stench of festering wounds when she was nursing on the front line in the First World War. But she added to the outrageous image by striking her matches on the soles of her shoes."
Stephanie von Hohenlohe met Lord Rothermere in Monte Carlo in 1927. The owner of several newspapers, his personal wealth was around £25 million and he was estimated to be the third richest man in Britain. According to a FBI file, Stephanie had targeted Rothermere. It said that "she was reputedly immoral, and capable of resorting to any means, even bribery, to get her ends." They both enjoyed gambling and she described Rothermere as "a fabulous plunger at the casino tables".
Princess Stephanie persuaded Rothermere that the defeated nations had been badly treated by the Treaty of Versailles. Rothermere was impressed by her arguments and her understanding of the problem. Rothermere agreed to write an editorial on the subject. On 21st June, 1927, The Daily Mail argued: "Eastern Europe is strewn with Alsace-Lorraines. By severing from France the twin provinces of that name the Treaty of Frankfurt in 1871 made another European war inevitable. The same blunder has been committed on a larger scale in the peace treaties which divided up the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. They have been created dissatisfied minorities in half a dozen parts of Central Europe, any one of which may be the starting point of another conflagration."
Lord Rothermere also called for the restoration of the Hungarian monarchy. Rothermere was an ardent monarchist and argued that a monarchic constitution was the best bulwark against Bolshevism in Europe and hoped to restore both the Hapsburg and Hohenzollern thrones. According to Jim Wilson: "There were calls for the restoration of the Hungarian monarchy. A group of monarchists even offered the throne to Rothermere himself. Briefly, he took that offer seriously. But he quickly realized it was totally unrealistic."
Rothermere continued the campaign in his newspaper. He wrote to Stephanie in April 1928: "I had no conception that a recital of Hungary's sufferings and wrongs would arouse such world-wide sympathy. Now from all parts of the world I am in receipt of such a flood of telegrams, letters and postcards that the work entailed in connection with the propaganda is rapidly absorbing all my energies." Unknown to Rothermere, MI6 was intercepting Stephanie's correspondence and tracking her movements in and out of the country since early in 1928.
In the General Election that took place in September 1930, the Nazi Party increased its number of representatives in parliament from 14 to 107. Adolf Hitler was now the leader of the second largest party in Germany. James Pool, the author of Who Financed Hitler: The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power (1979) points out: "Shortly after the Nazis' sweeping victory in the election of September 14, 1930, Rothermere went to Munich to have a long talk with Hitler, and ten days after the election wrote an article discussing the significance of the National Socialists' triumph. The article drew attention throughout England and the Continent because it urged acceptance of the Nazis as a bulwark against Communism... Rothermere continued to say that if it were not for the Nazis, the Communists might have gained the majority in the Reichstag."
Rothermere wrote in The Daily Mail on 24th September: "What are the sources of strength of a party which at the general election two years ago could win only 12 seats, but now, with 107, has become the second strongest in the Reichstag, and whose national poll has increased in the same time from 809,000 to 6,400,000? Striking as these figures are, they stand for something far greater than political success. They represent the rebirth of Germany as a nation." According to Louis P. Lochner, Tycoons and Tyrant: German Industry from Hitler to Adenauer (1954) he heard rumours that Rothermere provided funds to Hitler via Ernst Hanfstaengel.
In December 1932 a number of European newspapers had carried allegations of espionage against her. The French newspaper, La Liberté, claimed that she had been arrested as a spy while visiting Biarritz. It asked the question: "Is a sensational affair about to unfold?" Other newspapers took up the story and described her as a "political adventuress" and "the vamp of European politics". These stories were probably the result of leaks from the French intelligence services. However, she had not been arrested.
In an article published in The Daily Telegraph on 1st March, 2005, following the release of previously classified files: "In 1933, the year that Hitler gained power, MI6 circulated a report stating that the French secret service had discovered documents in the princess's flat in Paris ordering her to persuade Rothermere to campaign for the return to Germany of territory ceded to Poland at the end of First World War. She was to receive £300,000 – equal to £13 million today if she succeeded."
Princess Stephanie now moved to London where she took an apartment on the sixth floor of the Dorchester Hotel. An American banker, Donald Malcolm, spent a great deal of time with Stephanie and advised her to negotiate a contract with Rothermere. According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stefanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "Clinching the contract was not difficult to achieve. She reminded Rothermere of the success of her intervention over Hungary, and persuaded the press baron to appoint her as his emissary in Europe. She argued - and this was undoubtedly true - that she had the contacts to gain admittance to many of Europe's most powerful people, and that she could open doors to almost every exclusive social circle on the Continent." It was later revealed that Rothermere paid the Princess Stephanie £5,000 a year (equal to £200,000 in 2013) to act as his emissary in Europe.
When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor on 30th January 1933, Lord Rothermere produced a series of articles acclaiming the new regime. The most famous of these was on the 10th July when he told readers that he "confidently expected" great things of the Nazi regime. He also criticised other newspapers for "its obsession with Nazi violence and racialism", and assured his readers that any such deeds would be "submerged by the immense benefits that the new regime is already bestowing on Germany."
Rothermere now began a campaign in favour of the Nazi Party. The Daily Mail criticized "the old women of both sexes" who filled British newspapers with rabid reports of Nazi "excesses." Instead, the newspaper claimed, Hitler had saved Germany from "Israelites of international attachments" and the "minor misdeeds of individual Nazis will be submerged by the immense benefits that the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany."
In November, 1933, Lord Rothermere gave Princess Stephanie the task of establishing personal contact with Adolf Hitler. Princess Stephanie later recalled: "Rothermere came from a family that had experienced the novel possibility of influencing international politics through newspapers and was determined to sound out Hitler." Stephanie went to Berlin and began a sexual relationship with Captain Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler's personal adjutant. Wiedemann reported back to Hitler that Stephanie was the mistress of Lord Rothermere. Hitler decided that she could be of future use to the government and gave Wiedemann 20,000 Reichsmarks as a maintenance allowance to ensure that she had her hotel, restaurant bills, telephone bills and taxi and travel fares paid. Wiedemann was also allowed to buy her expensive clothes and gifts.
The following month Wiedemann arranged for Princess Stephanie to have her first meeting with Hitler. According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "The Führer appears to have been highly impressed by her sophistication, her intelligence and her charms. At that first meeting she wore one of her most elegant outfits, calculating it would impress him. It seems to have done so, because Hitler greeted her with uncharacteristic warmth, kissing her on the hand. It was far from usual for Hitler to be so attentive to women, particularly women introduced to him for the first time. The princess was invited to take tea with him, and once seated beside him, according to her unpublished memoirs. Hitler scarcely took his piercing eyes off her."
Princess Stephanie handed Hitler a personal letter from Rothermere, and passed on a verbal message. According to Stephanie on the day the outcome of the Reichstag election had been announced, Rothermere had told some of his staff: "Remember this day. Hitler is going to rule Germany. The man will make history and I predict that he will change the face of Europe." Hitler responded by kissing her and presenting her with a personally addressed reply, asking her to convey it direct to Lord Rothermere.
In the letter Adolf Hitler thanked Lord Rothermere for supporting his policies: "I should like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial support which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute to the final liberation of Europe. Just as we are fanatically determined to defend ourselves against attack, so do we reject the idea of taking the initiative in bringing about a war... I am convinced that no one who fought in the front line trenches during the world war, no matter in what European country, desires another conflict."
Lord Rothermere sent Princess Stephanie back with a gift for Hitler. It was a portrait photograph of Rothermere, mounted in a solid gold frame, made by Cartier of Paris and worth more than £50,000 at today's prices. On the reverse of the frame was a reprint of the page from The Daily Mail of 24th September 1930, which reproduced Rothermere's initial editorial, hailing the success of Hitler in the General Election. Hitler was delighted as Rothermere was clearly delivering the propaganda he sought.
Hitler was deeply impressed by Princess Stephanie but there were people in Hitler's immediate circle who resented the favours the Führer was showing her. This included Ernst Hanfstaengel who warned Hitler that Stephanie was a "professional blackmailer and a full-blooded Jewess". Hitler promised Hanfstaengel he would have the princess' family history researched. Hitler later told Hanfstaengel that the Gestapo had investigated her background thoroughly and had found the allegations that she was Jewish totally unfounded.
Princess Stephanie wrote in her unpublished memoirs: "He hardly ever smiles, except when making a sarcastic remark. He can be, he often is, very bitter. I think I can truthfully say that with the exception of his very intimate circle I am one of the few persons with whom he held normal conversations. By that I mean one where both parties speak in turn: a conversation of two human beings. Usually this is not the case. He either makes a speech and one has to listen, or else he sits there with a dead serious face, never opening his mouth... He once told me when I expressed my astonishment at his never learning English that the reason he would not be able to learn any other language outside of German was his complete mastery of the latter, which was an all time job. But I have never found that Hitler speaks or writes German as well as he claims or thinks. I have had many occasions to read letters of his, where all he did was revel in heavily involved Teutonic sentences. A single sentence often attains as much as eight or ten lines The same is true of all his speeches."
Rothermere instructed Stephanie to make contact with Kaiser Wilhelm II, his son, Prince Wilhelm and Admiral Miklós Horthy. Prince Wilhelm was a member of the Nazi Party and in June 1934 he wrote to Rothermere: "The withdrawal from the League of Nations and from the Disarmament Conference announced to the world at large the determination of the new German government, behind which for the first time the whole nation was concentrated, not to tolerate any longer being treated as a second-class people."
In August 1934 Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe wrote a letter to Lord Rothermere asking him to meet Hitler: "Please let me impress upon you that you ought to see H (Hitler) now. I know he already has some doubts as to your sincerity. I hope you have not forgotten that you assured him in your last letter you would see him in the latter part of August... He intends to discuss his present and future plans with you, and I think it is, for the first time, more in your interests than his, for you to see him."
Rothermere made his first visit to Adolf Hitler in December 1934. He took along with him his favourite journalist on The Daily Mail, the veteran reporter, George Ward Price. At the first meeting Hitler told Rothermere that "Lloyd George and your brother won the war for Britain. This was a reference to the Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Lord Northcliffe, who it was claimed made sure that the British Army received enough munitions on the front-line during the later stages of the First World War. That evening Hitler held his first major dinner party he had given for foreign visitors at his official residence in Berlin since he had taken office. The high-level guests included Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop.
On 20th December, 1934, Lord Rothermere returned the hospitality, hosting a dinner at Berlin's famous Hotel Adlon. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was placed in charge of the arrangements. Twenty-five guests attended including Adolf Hitler, Germany's Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, Joseph Goebbels, Magda Goebbels, Hermann Goering, accompanied by the actress Emmy Sonnemann. Also invited was British banker Ernest Tennant, one of the principal founders of the Anglo-German Fellowship.
In July, 1934 Lord Rothermere suddenly withdrew his support for Oswald Mosley. The historian, James Pool, argues: "The rumor on Fleet Street was that the Daily Mail's Jewish advertisers had threatened to place their adds in a different paper if Rothermere continued the profascist campaign." Pool points out that sometime after this, Rothermere met with Hitler at the Berghof and told how the "Jews cut off his complete revenue from advertising" and compelled him to "toe the line." Hitler later recalled Rothermere telling him that it was "quite impossible at short notice to take any effective countermeasures."
In August 1935 Princess Stephanie was invited by Hitler, along with her friend, Ethel Snowden, to attend the Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally. She later wrote about the "tribal excitement of Nuremberg... a shrine of Nazidom... an orgy of dedication to the Nazi creed." Her attendance upset Unity Mitford, who saw Stephanie as a romantic rival. Unity told Hitler: "Here you are, an anti-Semite, and yet you have a Jewish woman, Princess Hohenlohe, around you all the time." Stephanie claims that Hitler was fascinated by her and while watching films together he stroked her hair and gave her intimate pinches on her cheek.
Princess Carmencita Wrede claims that Unity Mitford was very jealous of Hitler's relationship with Princess Stephanie: "She complained that Stephanie Hohenlohe was Jewish, and how she had told Hitler, Here you are, anti-Jewish yet you have a Jew around you the whole time, this Princess Hohenlohe. Hitler said nothing. She simply hated the Hohenlohe for a rusée, going to tell Lord Rothermere what Hitler was up to. I asked her why she got so upset about it and the answer was short: jealousy again."
Princess Stephanie admitted in her unpublished memoirs that her relationship with Hitler upset those around him: "Every visit of mine to the Reich Chancellery seemed to them an impudent encroachment upon their sacred privileges, and every hour that Adolf wasted upon me was an hour which he might have spent to so much greater advantage in their devoted company.... His manners are exceedingly courteous, especially to women. At least that is how he has always been towards me. Whenever I arrived or left he always kissed my hand, often taking one of mine into both of his and shaking it for a time to emphasise the sincerity of the pleasure it gave him to see one, at the same time looking deep into my eyes." Princess Stephanie admitted that they were physically intimate but they were never lovers. She claimed this was because Hitler was homosexual.
The historian, Alan Bullock suggests in his book, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (1962), that Hitler was incapable of normal sexual intercourse. He quotes Ernst Hanfstaengel, a close intimate of Hitler. In his book, Hitler: The Missing Years (1957) Hanfstaengel argues: "The abounding nervous energy which found no normal release sought compensation first in the subjection of his entourage, then in his country, then of Europe... In the sexual no man's land in which he lived, he only once nearly found the woman, and never even the man, who might have brought him relief." Albert Speer was convinced that Hitler did not have a sexual relationship with Unity: "She would have slept with him, of course, she was more than willing but he would not have gone to bed with her. I doubt if he ever did more than take her hand in his. And think too, that he was in a difficult position, even if he had ever found himself alone with her."
Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer, argued in his book, Hitler was My Friend (1955) that he was not even sure Hitler had a sexual relationship with Eva Braun: "Eva moved into his house, became the constant companion of his leisure hours and, to the best of my knowledge, that was all there was to it... Not at any time was there any perceptible change in his attitude towards her which might have pointed to the assumption of more intimate relations between them; and the secrecy which surrounded the whole affair is emphasized by the profound astonishment of all of us in his most intimate circle when, at the bitter end, the marriage was announced."
Princess Stephanie also began intimate relationships with several members of the aristocracy. This included Philip Henry Kerr (Lord Lothian), Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild and Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "Rothermere and Lothian were just two from the ranks of the Establishment who fell for these pro-Nazi overtures. The Duke of Westminister, who Princess Stephanie had befriended, having met him in France some years before, was another. The duke even took her on holiday to Scotland and it is clear that for a time romance blossomed between them."
In the summer of 1936 European newspapers began running articles suggesting Princess Stephanie was a spy. She turned to Rothermere for advice on how she could clear her name over the damaging newspaper reports. Rothermere advised her to do nothing about it. He told her that he had been in the newspaper business long enough, he said, to realise that a denial usually resulted in merely refreshing the story, and was likely to stir up new rumours. Later, Stephanie urged him to sue when his name was being used in these stories. He replied in July 1936 that "the libels were of such a preposterous character that my lawyers advised me that you and myself should treat them with the contempt they deserved."
Lord Rothermere met Adolf Hitler again in September 1936. On his return he sent Stephanie to Berlin with a personal gift of a valuable Gobelin tapestry (worth £85,000 today). In a letter accompanying his gift, Rothermere wrote that he had selected the tapestry guided by the thought of Hitler the "artist", rather than Hitler the "great leader". Rothermere added that he was pleased to hear from Stephanie that "he was in high spirits and excellent health". He signed off the letter "in sincere admiration and respect".
Lord Rothermere, Princess Stephanie and George Ward Price were invited to spend time with Hitler at his holiday retreat, The Eagle's Nest, in the mountains above Berchtesgaden. Also invited was Joseph Goebbels. He wrote in his diary: "Rothermere pays me great compliments... Enquires in detail about German press policy. Strongly anti-Jewish. The princess is very pushy. After lunch we retire for a chat. Question of Spain comes up. Führer won't tolerate a hot-bed of communism in Europe any longer. Is ready to prevent any more pro-Republican volunteers from going there. His proposal on controls seem to astonish Rothermere. German prestige is thus restored. Franco will win anyway... Rothermere believes British government also pro-Franco."
In November 1937 Princess Stephanie arrived in New York City with her lover, Fritz Wiedemann. They were received by the German Consul General, but there was also a hostile crowd at the dockside, some carrying banners reading, "Out with Wiedemann, the Nazi spy." The following day the couple travelled to Washington where they stayed at the German Embassy. The couple then visited branches of the German-American Bund, a Nazi-front organisation that had been established by a German-born American citizen Fritz Julius Kuhn (he was later imprisoned as a German agent).
Hitler also gave Princess Stephanie the magnificent palace, Schloss Leopoldskron, that had been confiscated from Max Reinhardt, who had fled from Austria in 1937 after criticising the Nazi government. Hitler wanted her to use it as a home and a "political salon". One of the first people she tried to entertain in the palace was Lord Runciman, the man who had been appointed by the British government as its official mediator in the dispute between the Czech and German governments over the Sudetenland. As Martha Schad, the author of Hitler's Spy Princess (2002): "In the summer of 1938 he (Lord Runciman) was sent to the Sudetenland to sound out sentiments there, and it was suggested to Princess Stephanie – probably by Wiedemann – that she should invite him to Leopoldskron as well. The groundwork was laid and Runciman spent several delightful days at the Schloss." Schad believes that Princess Stephanie did a good job as Runciman reported to the British government that "Sudetenland is longing to be taken over by Germany , and the Sudeten Germans want to return to their homeland".
Time Magazine reported on 30th January, 1938: "Titian haired, 40 year old Stephanie Juliana Princess Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst, confidante of the Führer and friend of half of Europe's great is scheduled to sail from England to the US this week. Since the fall of Austria, Princess Stephanie, once the toast of Vienna, has lent her charms to advancing the Nazi cause in circles where it would do the most good. As a reward the Nazi government permitted her to take a lease on the sumptuous Schloss Leopoldskron near Salzburg, taken over from Jewish Max Reinhardt after Anschluss. During the Czecho-Slovak crisis she did yeoman service for the Nazi campaign. When Mr. Chamberlain sent Lord Runciman to gather impressions of conditions in Czechoslovakia Princess Stephanie hurried to the Sudetenland castle of Prince Max Hohenlohe where the British mediator was entertained."
Princess Stephanie however was having doubts about Adolf Hitler. In a letter written to Lord Rothermere on 2nd February, 1938, she argued for him to change his policy towards Nazi Germany: "It is important to know what is currently going on in Germany. The Germans are going through a serious crisis. Changes are taking place, which are of the greatest importance for the future of Europe. All the conservatives are being thrown out and only extremists are keeping their jobs or being recruited. You must be very careful in future. I do not see how it will be possible for you, under these new conditions, to continue to support Hitler in future and at the same time serve the interests of your own country."
It would seem that Adolf Hitler had not discovered that Princess Stephanie had doubts about his policies because on 10th June 1938, he had personally pinned on her the Nazi Party's Gold Medal of Honour. According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "In the Third Reich it was a badge that elevated the recipient to the level of 'Nazi royalty'. It was rarely awarded and reserved for a small group of people, mainly long-standing Nazi Party members who had given outstanding service to the National Socialist movement. It was regarded as the mark of a so-called true patriot."
It is now clear that Hitler had asked Princess Stephanie to do a very important job for him. At the end of the month she returned to London and asked her friend, Lady Ethel Snowden, also a Nazi sympathiser, to arrange a meeting with Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary, about arranging unofficial talks with the Nazi government. Halifax wrote in his diary on 6th July 1938: "Lady Snowden came to see me early in the morning. She informed me that, through someone on the closest terms with Hitler - I took this to mean Princess Hohenlohe - she had received a message with the following burden: Hitler wanted to find out whether H.M. Government would welcome it if he were to send one of the closest confidants, as I understand it, to England for the purpose of conducting unofficial talks. Lady Snowden gave me to understand that this referred to Field-Marshal Goering, and they wished to find out whether he will come to England without being too severely and publicly insulted, and what attitude H.M. Government would take generally to such a visit."
Lord Halifax was initially suspicious of Princess Stephanie. He had been warned the previous year by Walford Selby, the British ambassador in Vienna, that Stephanie was an "international adventuress" who was "known to be Hitler's agent". He had also heard from another source that she was a "well known adventuress, not to say blackmailer". Despite this, after obtaining permission from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, he agreed to meet with Hitler's representative, Fritz Wiedemann. The meeting took place on 18th July at Halifax's private residence in Belgravia. Halifax noted in a memorandum: "The Prime Minister and I have thought about the meeting I had with Captain Wiedemann. Of especial importance to us are the steps which the Germans and the British might possibly take, not only to create the best possible relationship between the two countries, but also to calm down the international situation in order to achieve an improvement of general economic and political problems."
Someone leaked the meeting to The Daily Herald. When it appeared in the newspaper on 19th July, it created a storm of controversy. The French government complained that the meeting had been arranged by Princess Holenlohe, who according to their intelligence services was a "Nazi agent". Jan Masryk, the Czech ambassador in London, wrote to his government in Prague on 22nd July: "If there is any decency left in this world, then there will be a big scandal when it is revealed what part was played in Wiedemann's visit by Steffi Hohenlohe, née Richter. This world-renowned secret agent, spy and confidence trickster, who is wholly Jewish, today provides the focus of Hitler's propaganda in London." On 23rd July 1938, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary: "Wiedemann's visit to Halifax on the Führer's instructions continues to dominate the foreign press more than ever."
Walford Selby was also shocked by this meeting that had been arranged by Princess Stephanie. He warned the government that he had information that her suite at the Dorchester Hotel in London had become a base for Nazi sympathisers and an "outpost of German espionage", and that she had been behind much of the German propaganda circulating in London since she first moved to England. On 31st July, The Daily Express published an article about the man who had met Lord Halifax in secret. They described Fritz Wiedemann as Hitler's "listening-post, his contact man, negotiator, a checker-up, a man with a job without a name and without a parallel".
On his return to Germany, Wiledemann was met by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, Abwehr, told Fritz Wiedemann that the foreign press were reporting that Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. On 29th July Wiedemann wrote to Canaris: "Princess Hohenlohe wishes to put an end once and for all to the gossip about her, and to answer the latest reports by foreign newspapers, by picking on one of the papers and taking legal action to force it to withdraw the false statements... However, in order to pursue this action. I would be most obliged to you... if you could for the time being pass over to me all the newspaper reports about Princess Hohenlohe that have appeared in the last six months."
British intelligence was also becoming very concerned about the activities of Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe. A report said: "She is frequently summoned by the Führer who appreciates her intelligence and good advice. She is perhaps the only woman who can exercise any influence on him." They also reported that she seemed to be "actively recruiting these British aristocrats in order to promote Nazi sympathies." (PROKV2/1696). According to MI5 the list of people she had been associating with over the last few years included the Duke of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, Prince George, Duke of Kent, Lady Ethel Snowden, Philip Henry Kerr (Lord Lothian), Geoffrey Dawson, Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket, Lady Maud Cunard and Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild. In August 1938 French intelligence, the Deuxième Bureau, told MI6 that it was almost certain that Princess Stephanie was an important German agent.
MI5 also interviewed Princess Stephanie's maid, Anna Stoffl. The file records: "Miss Stoffl is in no doubt Princess Hohenlohe was acting as a German agent. She had lived with her for about a year in this country and traveled with her on the Continent. For a time she had lived with the princess at a castle in Salzburg, placed at her disposal by the German authorities. During that time there had been a good deal of entertaining. The princess had paid a visit to Berlin when she was at the castle and had told the maid she had had an interview with Hitler." The German journalist, Bella Fromm, who spent time researching the subject, was convinced that Princess Stephanie was a Nazi spy: "One of the most fanatical exponents of National Socialist ideology was Stephanie, Princess Hohenlohe-Schillingsfuerst... She became a princess by marriage... She was one of the first female agents sent abroad by the Nazis before they came to power."
Princess Stephanie had a deepening understanding of Hitler's personality. She recalled an incident that took place with Unity Mitford: "In 1938 during the September crisis Hitler sent for Unity Mitford. When she arrived he told her that in view of the gravity of the situation he wanted her to leave Germany. Though it would seem that such a gesture was prompted only by friendly concern towards one of his most ardent admirers, his intention was of a different nature. His real purpose in sending for Unity Mitford was to make her return to England and impress her people and all those she would naturally talk to with the gravity of the situation. This is an example of his cunning and supreme ability to make use of even the slightest incident. He is a master at the understanding of, and playing upon, the psychology of people, which I consider his greatest gift and asset."
After the signing of the Munich Agreement, Wiedemann sent a letter to Lord Rothermere stating: "You know that the Führer greatly appreciates the work the princess did to straighten relations between our countries... it was her groundwork which made the Munich agreement possible." Princess Stephanie wrote to Hitler at the same time congratulating him on his achievement: "There are moments in life that are so great - I mean, where one feels so deeply that it is almost impossible to find the right words to express one's feelings - Herr Reich Chancellor, please believe me that I have shared with you the experience and emotion of every phase of the events of the last weeks. What none of your subjects in their wildest dreams dared hope for - you have made come true. That must be the finest thing a head of state can give to himself and to his people. I congratulate you with all my heart."
At the end of 1938 Adolf Hitler began to turn against Princess Stephanie. Officially it was because he had discovered that she was Jewish. However, he had in fact known about this for at least three years. Hitler told Fritz Wiedemann that he should break off all contact with her. Leni Riefenstahl suggested that Wiedemann's "relationship with Hitler became more distant because of his half-Jewish girlfriend." However, we know from other sources that Hitler had known she was Jewish since 1934.
Fritz Wiedemann had tried to get Hitler to tone down some of his more extremist policies. His advice on the negotiations at Munich was also badly received. In his diary on 24th October 1938, Joseph Goebbels wrote: "The Führer tells me incidentally that he really has to get rid of Wiedemann now. During the Munich crisis he apparently did not perform well and lost his nerve completely. And when things get serious he has no use for men like that." According to Martha Schad, the author of Hitler's Spy Princess (2002), Hitler discovered that Wiedemann was having an affair with Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe: "Early in January 1939 the game of hide-and-seek around the Princess Stephanie and Fritz Wiedemann came to an abrupt end. Hitler found out that Wiedemann was Stephanie's lover."
On 19th January 1939, Wiedemann was told to report to Hitler. Wiedemann later recalled what Hitler told him: "I have no use for men in high positions - by that he probably meant Schacht - and in my immediate circle - that meant me - who are not in agreement with my policies. I am dismissing you as adjutant and appointing you Counsul-General in San Francisco. You can accept the post or decline it." Wiedemann replied briefly that he accepted the position. It was clear that Hitler was not that upset with Wiedemann as he arranged for him to be paid 4,000 Reichsmarks a year more than his predecessor in the post.
Wiedemann told Hermann Goering that Hitler warned him about Princess Stephanie: "When I took my leave of the Führer, he warned me against Princess H in the interest of my future career. The Führer does not believe the princess can be relied upon and thinks that various anti-German articles in the foreign press can be traced back to her. I have informed the Führer: (1) that I vouch absolutely for the princess's integrity and loyalty to the Third Reich and its Führer. (2) that the course I have given the princess, as a foreigner, no information that might not be in the national interest. I cannot prove these things, but on the other hand I can prove that the princess had a decisive influence on the attitude of Lord Rothermere and thus of the Daily Mail." Joseph Goebbels comments in his diary in January 1939 makes it clear that Princess Stephanie was a problem: "Princess Hohenlohe now turns out to be a Viennese half-Jewess. She has her fingers in everything. Wiedemann works with her a great deal. He may well have her to thank for his present predicament, because without her around he probably would not have made such a feeble showing in the Czech crisis."
However, MI5 was under the false impression that Hitler had dismissed Princess Stephanie and Wiedemann because they had not given their full support to the invasion of Czechoslovakia: A MI5 officer wrote: "At the time of the German entry into Czechoslovakia the princess had expressed disaaproval of the Nazi action. Wiedemann, Hitler's former confidant and friend of the princess, had taken a similar line. The maid understood Wiedemann's fall from grace and his transfer by Hitler to San Francisco were the result of his attitude on the Nazi coup."
In January, 1939, Princess Stephanie decided to move to London and resumed contact with Lord Rothermere. He gave her a cheque for £5,000 and told her that the contract had come to an end. Rothermere continued to write to Hitler and other leading Nazis. On 17th June, 1939, he told Hitler: "My dear Führer. I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country." On 7th July 1939, Rothermere wrote to Joachim von Ribbentrop: "Our two great Nordic countries should pursue resolutely a policy of appeasement for, whatever anyone may say, our two great countries should be the leaders of the world."
Meanwhile, Princess Stephanie announced she was to sue the press baron for what she alleged was breach of contract. She hired one of the most fashionable law firms in London, Theodore Goddard & Partners; the solicitors who, in 1936, had handled the divorce case of her friend, Wallis Simpson. MI5 began to take a close interest in the case. One report said: "Princess Hohenlohe has given us a great deal of work owing to the fact that she is frequently the subject of denunciation to the effect that she is, or has been, a trusted political agent and personal friend of Herr Hitler; that she is a German political spy of a very high order; and that she was given the Scloss Leopoldskron by Herr Hitler for signal services rendered for him." (PRO-KV2/1696)
In March 1939 the MI6 passport control officer at Victoria Station arrested Princess Stephanie's Hungarian lawyer, Erno Wittman. The arresting officer reported what he discovered that Wittman was carrying: "This was astonishing; it appeared to be copies of documents and letters which passed between Lord Rothermere, Lady Snowden, Princess Stephanie, Herr Hitler and others. In the main, the letters referred to the possible restoration of the throne in Hungary and shed a good deal of light on the character and activities of the princess." It was decided to pass on this information to MI5. Amongst the documents were several letters from Lord Rothermere to Adolf Hitler. This included a "a very indiscreet letter to the Führer congratulating him on his walk into Prague". The letter urged Hitler to follow up his coup with the invasion of Romania.
It seems that Adolf Hitler had given Princess Stephanie photocopies of the letters Lord Rothermere had been sending him. As Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011) has pointed out: "These letters were secretly circulated within the intelligence services and senior civil servants in key government ministries... Nothing could be more revealing of the press baron's continued support of the Nazi Führer as the inevitable conflict drew closer, but it appears MI5 shied away from actually taking action against the press baron. Certainly there is nothing in the derestricted files to indicate whether Rothermere was warned to cease his correspondence with Berlin, though some information in the files still remains undisclosed.... The MI5 makes it clear that the secret service had warned the government that copies of this correspondence would be produced in open court, which would embarrass not only Rothermere but also a number of other notable members of the British aristocracy, and that these disclosures would shock the British public."
Three weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War Rothermere's lawyers attempted to have the legal action stopped. A member of his law firm went to the Home Office and denounced Princess Stephanie as a German agent and suggested that she should be deported. If the case reached open court it would receive huge publicity and would undermine public morale. However, the Home Office came to the conclusion that it would be improper to intervene.
The case reached the High Court on 8th November, 1939. Princess Stephanie's case was that in 1932, when Rothermere had promised to engage her as his European political representative on an annual salary of £5,000, she had understood the engagement was ongoing. She made it clear to the judge that if she lost the case she would not hesitate to publish her memoirs in America. This story would reveal Lord Rothermere's relationship with Hitler and his "numerous, often indiscreet, liaisons with women".
Sir William Jowitt asked Princess Stephanie if she had used the services of Fritz Wiedemann to put pressure on Lord Rothermere. She replied: "I have not." Then a letter from Wiedemann to Lord Rothermere was read out in court. It included the following passage: "You know that the Führer greatly appreciates the work the princess did to straighten relations between our countries... it was her groundwork which made the Munich agreement possible." However, the judge would not allow Princess Stephanie to read out the letters exchanged by Lord Rothermere and Hitler.
Lord Rothermere, who had engaged a legal team of seventeen to mount his defence, told the judge, it was preposterous that he had agreed to support Princess Stephanie "for the rest of her life". He admitted that between 1932 and 1938 he had paid her considerably more than £51,000 (almost £2 million in today's money). He added that she was always "pestering and badgering me" for money. That is why he sent her away to Berlin to be with Hitler.
Jowitt told the court that Princess Stephanie had his client's letters photocopied behind his back by the Special Photographic Bureau of the Department of the German Chancellor. He also defended Rothermere's right to enter into negotiations with Hitler in an effort to prevent a war between the two countries. "Who can say whether if Lord Rothermere had succeeded in the endeavours which he made, we might not be in the position in which we are today."
After six days of legal argument Justice Tucker ruled against Princess Stephanie. Soon after the trial finished, Lord Rothermere used Lady Ethel Snowden as an intermediary and sent Stephanie a message to say he would meet all her legal costs if she undertook to get out of the country. This she agreed to do but he thought she was going back to Europe instead of going to the United States to publish her account of her relationship with Rothermere. However, he was able to use his considerable power to make sure her memoirs were never published.
On 14th November, 1939, Margot Asquith (Lady Oxford) wrote to Princess Stephanie: "Dearest Stephanie, We are all with you. I have always told you Rothermere is no good. I respect you for having challenged him. Never mind the outcome. He is finished here. I know what I am saying. The most important things in life are: (1) To love and to be loved. (2). To be trusted. Rothermere has neither."
In the House of Commons the Liberal Party MP, Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander, asked the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, why Princess Stephanie, a " notorious member of the Hitler spy organisation" was being allowed to leave the country. Morrison replied that he needed notice of the question but in any case she had been granted only a "no return" permit and there were no circumstances in which she would be allowed to return to Britain.
Princess Stephanie and her mother left Southampton on a ship bound for New York City. Although she travelled using a false name, journalists were there to greet her. Helen Worden Erskine described her in the New York World Telegram as having: "Her auburn hair combed straight back. She wore a silver-fox turban with a provocative pink rose perched on it, a three-quarter-length silver-fox fur coat, a black dress of silk jersey (an Alix model), and black kid Pergugia sandals with sky-blue platform soles. Gorgeous diamond ear-clips were fastened on her small, pretty ears, and a scintillating, diamond clip lightened her dark dress."
The first person she phoned was Wiedemann who was based in San Francisco. They agreed that they would not meet straight away in case they were being followed by the FBI. Instead, she concentrated on having meetings with literary agents and publishers. It soon became clear that she was unwilling to write or talk about her activities as a spy. A representative for Hearst Corporation made the point: "She (Princess Stephanie) must explain the true story of the activities that brought her so much uncalled for publicity."
An internal memo sent by the editor of Town & Country made it clear that Princess Stephanie was a difficult woman to deal with: "She says that up to 1932 she was a private citizen and cannot understand why she has become so celebrated and misunderstood. In order to clear herself, she should start with a little sketch of her youth, marriage, early private life, and then her connection with Lord Rothermere and the political situation which brought her into prominence... While everyone wondered what was going on when she lived at Leopoldskron, the princess says she was trying to save things - furniture, etc. - for Reinhardt, and that she did many kind things for émigrés through her connections."
The literary agents Curtis Brown & Co provided Princess Stephanie with a ghost writer, Rudolf Kommer. He gave her some advice after their first meeting: "There are still a few idiots who misunderstand you. Admittedly - you can't hang an 'anti-Hitler' placard round your neck. But you know exactly who this is all about. The world is ablaze and neutrality is something absolutely unrealistic. Those who are lukewarm will be damned whatever happens. Show your true colours - that is the watchword!"
On 22nd January 1940, The New York Times published a story concerning Princess Stephanie's role in "Nazi diplomacy". It claimed that "The Princess is without doubt the star among a whole group of female members of the former German aristocracy who had been recruited by Hitler for a wide variety of operations, many of a secret nature. They have been acting as political spies, propaganda hostesses, social butterflies and ladies of mystery... On orders from the Nazi party, Princess Hohenlohe has placed the heads of Lords, Counts, and other highly placed personages at the feet of Hitler." According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "The idea of a Nazi princess electrified some in society and she was invited to many social events which only enhanced the opportunities for her to spread a pro-Nazi message in America. Her loyalty to Nazism and Germany remained strong, despite Hitler's suspicions of her."
Fritz Wiedemann was worried about what Princess Stephanie might say in her book. On 3rd March 1940 he wrote: "Before we do any more work on this (the book), we must talk about it first. You must surely realise that the whole world will know you have certain information that you can only have obtained through me. You must, after all, think of my position. Several books have already been published, which deal with exactly the same subject: so readers will only be interested in something extraordinarily sensational... We have to talk about all this. Writing letters can lead to too many misunderstandings."
On 28th May 1940 Princess Stephanie arrived in California. The couple arranged to meet in the General Grant Grove National Park. Their telephone conversations were being monitored and FBI agents were able to take several photographs of them together. They then drove to the Sequoia National Park where they rented a cabin as "Mr and Mrs Fred Winter" from San Francisco. With the co-operation of the park wardens the agents secured cabin no. 545, from which anyone entering or leaving Wiedemann's cabin could be observed.
Wiedemann returned the next day to 1808 Floribunda Avenue, Hillsborough, the residence of the German Consul-General. He then took the decision to let Princess Stephanie and her mother live with him. In a letter sent to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, he explained: "One of the circumstances under which my wife and I have taken the Princess as a guest into our home is that she is about to publish her memoirs, for which various publishers have offered her advances of up to $40,000."
Wiedemann had recruited Alice Crockett as a German agent. However, she became a FBI informant. She told them he was directing the activities of the German-American Bund and was active "in secretly storing large quantities of ammunition in the USA, and more particularly in the eastern portion of the United States and New Jersey; that this ammunition was to be used by members of the German-American Bund in fighting against the government of the United States". Wiedemann told Crockett he was working with the famous transatlantic aviator, Charles Lindbergh. He told Crockett that Lindbergh was "the best propagandist in America for Germany and Nazism" and that he was "working for and with the Nazis".
The FBI kept a close watch on Princess Stephanie. In a memo written by J. Edgar Hoover, it noted: "Stephanie von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg, who uses various aliases, is very close to Fritz Wiedemann, the German Consul-General in San Francisco... and in the past has been suspected by the French, British and American authorities of working as an international spy for the German government... The princess is described as extremely intelligent, dangerous and cunning, and as a spy 'worse than 10,000 men'... I would like to stress emphatically that in my opinion this woman's visa ought not to be renewed. I would further suggest that she be deported from the United States at the earliest possible moment."
On 27th November 1940, Princess Stephanie and Wiedemann, met Sir William Wiseman, the former head of the British Secret Service in the western hemisphere, and now a partner in the Wall Street banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company. The meeting took place in suite 1024-1026 of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. According to the German historian, Martha Schad, Wiseman was working on behalf of a group headed by Lord Halifax: "Sir William Wiseman was known to be the mouthpiece of a political group in Britain headed by Lord Halifax. These individuals were pinning their hopes on being able to bring about a lasting peace between Great Britain and the German Reich." The meeting was bugged by the FBI. It was recorded on tape and transcribed as an 111-page document.
On 13th January 1941 J. Edgar Hoover sent President Franklin D. Roosevelt received a 30-page summary of the meeting. He claimed the object of this encounter was to work out a plan for persuading Adolf Hitler to make a separate peace with Britain. "The Princess stated that she had not seen Hitler since January 1939. Wiseman then suggested that Hitler might think she was going to Germany on behalf of the British. In reply to this remark, the Princess stated she would have to take that chance but that Hitler was genuinely fond of her and that he would look forward to her coming, and she thought Hitler would listen to her." The FBI leaked the contents of these undercover meetings to British intelligence. As a result, Wiseman was warned not to have any more contacts with Princess Stephanie and Wiedemann.
On 7th March 1941 President Roosevelt gave a direct order to US Attorney General Francis Biddle: "That Hohenlohe woman ought to be got out of the country as a matter of good discipline. Have her put on a boat to Japan or Vladivostok. She is a Hungarian and I do not think the British would take her." The following day Princess Stephanie was arrested on the orders of Major Lemuel Schofield, head of the United States Immigration and Naturalisation Service.
A few days later Schofield visited her at the detention centre. According to Jim Wilson, the author of Nazi Princess: Hitler, Lord Rothermere and Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe (2011): "As she had done so successfully so often before, she switched on her undoubted sexual charms and flirted with her captor. Schofield was hardly a handsome catch. He was obese with large, ugly features, but he had authority and influence. Despite his senior position of trust in the American immigration service, Schofield succumbed willingly to the princess' seductive wiles. In the way so many influential men had done before him, he found he could not resist her." On 19th May 1941, in a move that contradicted the President's specific order, Schofield released on $25,000 bail on "condition she informed the immigration service of where she was living; made no contact whatsoever with Wiedemann in San Francisco; or had any contact with any other foreign government; and gave no interviews nor made any public declarations."
Princess Stephanie and her 89 year-old mother had moved into the Raleigh Hotel in Washington. Schofield also took a room at the hotel. Schofield wrote to Stephanie: "Everything about you is new and different and gets me excited. You are the most interesting person I have ever met. You dress better than anyone else, and every time you come into a room everyone else fades out of the picture... Because of you I do so many crazy things, because I am mad about you."
On 8th December 1941, the day after Japan carried out its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Princess Stephanie and her mother went to visit friends in Philadelphia. While leaving a cinema, Stephanie was arrested by the FBI. She was refused permission to phone Lemuel Schofield and was taken to the Gloucester Immigration Centre in New Jersey. Soon afterwards US Attorney General Francis Biddle signed an order citing that Princess Stephanie was a potential danger to public security and peace. The FBI searched her home and found the Nazi Party's Gold Medal of Honour given to her by Adolf Hitler in 1938. Her son, Prince Franz Hohenlohe, was also arrested and interned.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was furious when he discovered that Princess Stephanie had not been deported. He wrote to J. Edgar Hoover on 17th June 1942: "Once more I have to bother you about that Hohenlohe woman. The affair verges not merely on the ridiculous, but on the disgraceful... If the immigration authorities do not stop once and for all showing favour to Hohenlohe, I will be forced to order an inquiry. The facts will not be very palatable and will go right back to her first arrest and her intimacy with Schofield. I am aware that she is interned in the Gloucester centre, but by all accounts she enjoys special privileges there. To be honest, this is all turning into a scandal that requires extremely drastic and immediate action."
The Attorney General took immediate action and transferred Princess Stephanie to a more remote internment centre, Camp Seagoville, near Dallas. Major Lemuel Schofield attempted to obtain special privileges for her, including the right to make telephone calls outside the camp. When this was discovered Schofield was forced to resign and he returned to New York City. An FBI agent reported that she was "distraught and emotional" when she heard the news. However, he added that he felt she was "a consummate actress" and her "emotions were artificial and designed to win my sympathy."
On 15th December 1942, Princess Stephanie wrote to Sir William Wiseman: "As far as I know, you met Mr Wiedemann twice. The first meeting took place in your suite at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. I was not present, but saw you the same evening shortly before you left for New York. On that occasion you told me how affected you had been by Mr Wiedemann's obvious keenness and sincerity, and you thanked me for making the meeting possible. You stressed that your government would not fail to show its gratitude, when the time came. The second and last meeting took place some months later, again at a dinner in your hotel suite. That time I was there. You gave a detailed report to the Washington official. You even showed him a telegram you had received from official quarters in London, thanking you for your useful work and acknowledging your valuable reports. You offered to disclose these reports, if desired. You went on to emphasise that my article on the subject was in no way a hostile act, that, on the contrary, my activities had been extremely praiseworthy, and that my intention had been exclusively to serve Britain and the cause of democracy."
In March 1944 a review board recommended that Princess Stephanie should be released: "We are convinced that her position is one of determined and unqualified opposition to Hitler, and that she earnestly supports the Allied cause. It is our view that, once she is at liberty again, she will do everything in her power to further our war effort." However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt overruled the board and ordered she should not be released for the duration of the war." She was eventually released on parole in May 1945.
Princess Stephanie went to live with Lemuel Schofield in New York City. Every so often details of her Nazi past appeared in newspapers. In March 1947, leading newspaper columnist, Robert Ruark, with a column syndicated throughout the United States, pointed out that Princess Stephanie was a former close friend of Adolf Hitler and had been "his most trusted female spy". He went on to say: "I am not suggesting that this charming creature should be stood up against the nearest wall and shot, because I am not basically vindictive by nature. But in Nuremberg we have strung up a number of her old buddies for similar misdeeds, and, judged on her connections with high-ranking Nazis, Hohenlohe is a legitimate candidate for anyone's noose." In July 1947 The San Francisco Examiner published a story saying that she was being feted in Long Island society: "The Princess is pretty well known locally. Not favourably. She was once an ardent and well-subsidised Nazi good-will ambassador."
They lived on a farm near Phoenixville in Pennsylvania, as man and wife until Schofield died in 1954. She then went to live with multi-millionaire Albert Monroe Greenfield, at his ranch at Cobble Close Farm in New Jersey. During this period she was given a job as special correspondent for the magazine, Washington Diplomat.
In 1959 she moved back to Europe and made contact with Fritz Wiedemann. She helped him write his memoirs, The Man who Wanted to Command (1964).The book makes no reference whatever to their relationship and the years they spent together. Princess Stephanie also became a very well-paid contract as a consultant to the publishers of Quick Magazine. She resumed her relationship with Drew Pearson and as a result he published several articles in the magazine. Princess Stephanie also arranged for the magazine to interview John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
On 10th July 1966, she was given a contract with Stern Magazine. "Your task is to develop story opportunities for Stern: in particular you have said you are willing to use your connection with figures in public life, or of public interest, in order to give our reporters and photographers the opportunity to produce stories about these personalities for Stern... For this work you will receive the monthly sum of $2,000. Travel and other expenses arising from editorial assignments will be reimbursed by us." Princess Stephanie also worked closely with Axel Springer.
Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe died in Geneva, Switzerland on 13th June, 1972. Her friend, Ray McHugh of Copley Newspapers, wrote: "With her unmistakable style and the flair of her 19th century ancestors.... she chatted and flirted and spun like a top for sixty long years through the drawing-rooms of Europe and America... The old Europe will mourn her death; the young Europe is the poorer, because it no longer has the chance to know her."
The proprietor of the Daily Mail congratulated Adolf Hitler on his annexation of Czechoslovakia and urged him to capitalise on the "triumph'' with a march into Romania, newly released documents have revealed.
The first Lord Rothermere – the great-grandfather of the current owner of the newspaper – made the remarks in a letter intercepted by the security service during surveillance of a suspected German agent. But MI5 shied away from taking action against the press baron, whose sympathy for Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts was already well-known.
Rothermere's apparent support for the Nazi cause as late as 1939 came to light during an investigation into the activities of Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe. The daughter of a Viennese dentist of Jewish origins, she had married into the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian empire and, although divorced, continued to move in exclusive circles in London society.
Her close friends included Lady Asquith, the wife of the former Liberal prime minister, Lady Snowden, the wife of a Labour chancellor of the exchequer, and the extreme Right-wing Lord and Lady Londonderry.
Her connections earned her the admiration of Hitler, Himmler and Von Ribbentrop, the German ambassador in London.
In 1933, the year that Hitler gained power, MI6 circulated a report stating that the French secret service had discovered documents in the princess's flat in Paris ordering her to persuade Rothermere to campaign for the return to Germany of territory ceded to Poland at the end of First World War. She was to receive £300,000 – equal to £13 million today – if she succeeded. Rothermere, meanwhile, was paying the princess £5,000 a year – £200,000 today – to act as his emissary in Europe.
By 1938 MI6 was becoming very concerned about the princesses's activities. A report said: "She is frequently summoned by the Fuhrer who appreciates her intelligence and good advice. She is perhaps the only woman who can exercise any influence on him."
But then she and Rothermere fell out. He cut off her retainer and in December 1938 she sued him for breach of contract. In March 1939 the MI6 passport control officer at Victoria Station intercepted her Hungarian lawyer, Erno Wittman.
He was carrying correspondence relating to the case, including a letter from Rothermere to the German government that Berlin had given to the lawyer to help the princess's case. The officer wrote: "This was astonishing; it appeared to be copies of documents and letters which passed between Lord Rothermere, Lady Snowden, Princess Stephanie, Herr Hitler and others. In the main, the letters referred to the possible restoration of the throne in Hungary and shed a good deal of light on the character and activities of the princess.
"It was decided to give MI5 the opportunity of seeing this considerable correspondence."
Details of the correspondence from Rothermere were circulated in the intelligence services. It included a "a very indiscreet letter to the Fuhrer congratulating him on his walk into Prague" – Hitler having sent troops into the Czech capital in early 1939 in breach of the Munich agreement of the previous year. The note urged Hitler to follow up his coup with the invasion of Romania.
Three weeks after Britain's declaration of war on Germany, the press baron's lawyers attempted to have the legal action stopped. They informed the Home Office that the princess's action was not in the national interest. The Home Office declined to help and the case went to court in November 1939, but it was thrown out without the highly-compromising contents of the letters being revealed. The princess left for America, where she was later arrested for violation of visa conditions.
Every visit of mine to the Reich Chancellery seemed to them an impudent encroachment upon their sacred privileges, and every hour that Adolf wasted upon me was an hour which he might have spent to so much greater advantage in their devoted company.... His manners are exceedingly courteous, especially to women. At least that is how he has always been towards me. Whenever I arrived or left he always kissed my hand, often taking one of mine into both of his and shaking it for a time to emphasise the sincerity of the pleasure it gave him to see one, at the same time looking deep into my eyes....
He hardly ever smiles, except when making a sarcastic remark. He can be, he often is, very bitter. I think I can truthfully say that with the exception of his very intimate circle I am one of the few persons with whom he held normal conversations. By that I mean one where both parties speak in turn: a conversation of two human beings. Usually this is not the case. He either make, a speech and one has to listen, or else he sits there with a dead serious face, never opening his mouth... He once told me when I expressed my astonishment at his never learning English that the reason he would not be able to learn any other language outside of German was his complete mastery of the latter, which was an all time job. But I have never found that Hitler speaks or writes German as well as he claims or thinks. I have had many occasions to read letters of his, where all he did was revel in heavily involved Teutonic sentences. A single sentence often attains as much as eight or ten lines The same is true of all his speeches... In 1938 during the September crisis Hitler sent for Unity Mitford. When she arrived he told her that in view of the gravity of the situation he wanted her to leave Germany. Though it would seem that such a gesture was prompted only by friendly concern towards one of his most ardent admirers, his intention was of a different nature. His real purpose in sending for Unity Mitford was to make her return to England and impress her people and all those she would naturally talk to with the gravity of the situation. This is an example of his cunning and supreme ability to make use of even the slightest incident. He is a master at the understanding of, and playing upon, the psychology of people, which I consider his greatest gift and asset. In January 1939 I was staying at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin when Hitler gave his opening speech at the Reichstag in which, denouncing all political pessimists and the war prophets, he shouted to his audience the words: "I prophesy a long peace". Naturally such a statement made by Hitler was taken up by every newspaper the world over and spread in headlines around the globe. Hitler reading the result and the favourable echo his pronouncement had created, declared in private:"This was the best piece of bluff I have pulled in a long time."
Cunning and opportunistic, but radiating personality and charm, the princess cut a fascinating figure. It was not just her title and her confidence that impressed, it was the daring way she behaved. Few aristocratic, titled ladies in society had the nerve to openly smoke Havana cigars as Stephanie did. It was a habit she had picked up to avoid the stench of festering wounds when she was nursing on the front line in the First World War. But she added to the outrageous image by striking her matches on the soles of her shoes.
Titian haired, 40 year old Stephanie Juliana Princess Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfurst, confidante of the Führer and friend of half of Europe's great is scheduled to sail from England to the US this week. Since the fall of Austria, Princess Stephanie, once the toast of Vienna, has lent her charms to advancing the Nazi cause in circles where it would do the most good. As a reward the Nazi government permitted her to take a lease on the sumptuous Schloss Leopoldskron near Salzburg, taken over from Jewish Max Reinhardt after Anschluss. During the Czecho-Slovak crisis she did yeoman service for the Nazi campaign. When Mr. Chamberlain sent Lord Runciman to gather impressions of conditions in Czechoslovakia Princess Stephanie hurried to the Sudetenland castle of Prince Max Hohenlohe where the British mediator was entertained."
You will recall the lunch you invited me to in your apartment in July 1940. On that occasion I told you that certain people in Washington had misinterpreted the motive behind the meeting between you and Mr Wiedemann. And not only my own motives, but also your personal intentions. You will also recall that you were very anxious to clarify your position, both in your interest and mine, as you put it. For that reason you got in touch with a highly placed official in Washington, who arranged a meeting for you with Attorney-General Biddle. However, when you got to Washington you were told he had suddenly been taken ill, or had to leave town suddenly (I have forgotten the details now). Nonetheless, you had a long interview with the Attorney-General's personal assistant and gave him a detailed account of yourself, your views, and the role you played in the last war (which was apparently not known), as well as about your motives and activities in this particular case. You explained that, before arranging the meeting with Mr Wiedemann, you had been to see a Mr Butler, head of the British Purchasing Commission in New York, the body which was chiefly engaged in acquiring war materials. Mr Butler (I think that was his name) in turn got in touch with the Foreign Office in London, in order to find out whether you should be involved in this matter, i.e. whether your intervention was considered useful and desirable. The answer was affirmative.
As far as I know, you met Mr Wiedemann twice. The first meeting took place in your suite at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. I was not present, but saw you the same evening shortly before you left for New York. On that occasion you told me how affected you had been by Mr Wiedemann's obvious keenness and sincerity, and you thanked me for making the meeting possible. You stressed that your government would not fail to show its gratitude, when the time came. The second and last meeting took place some months later, again at a dinner in your hotel suite. That time I was there. You gave a detailed report to the Washington official. You even showed him a telegram you had received from official quarters in London, thanking you for your useful work and acknowledging your valuable reports. You offered to disclose these reports, if desired. You went on to emphasise that my article on the subject was in no way a hostile act, that, on the contrary, my activities had been extremely praiseworthy, and that my intention had been exclusively to serve Britain and the cause of democracy. You said - and I quote: 'if you made a mistake, then so did I."
I am reminding you of all this, because my reason for writing is to ask you to write an affidavit for me, confirming it all. I also think it would be a good thing if' you mentioned that, when you visited London in the summer of 1940, you met Lord Rothermere's son; that he had come to see you because he was interested in my book, and that he asked you to support his father in his efforts to avoid any publicity. When, after returning to New York, you saw Lord Rothermere on several occasions, you reported to me about how hostile and embittered he felt towards me. You warned me of his attempts to discredit me, and you told me he was seeking the co-operation and support of influential people in America, to lend more weight to the whole thing.
I will not prolong this letter by describing my feelings, especially my dismay at the fact that you, knowing my difficult situation and all the background and detailed circumstances, have not felt obliged to submit such a statement on your own initiative - you should at least be familiar with the Queensberry Rules! To avoid any further hesitation on your part, I would like in any case to stress that it is only the consideration I owe my son, that might persuade me to take any further steps.
Princess Stephanie Hohenlohe Waldenburg-Schillingsfiirst plays a not insignificant role in New York society today. This is no less interesting than if I were to report that Joachim von Ribbentrop had been seen dancing at the Stork Club, or that Eva Braun was staying as a guest at the Long Island home of Mr and Mrs Bigname. Compared to this Hohenlohe hustler, Mata Hari was definitely bottom of the range, and Edda Mussolini a raw beginner, a tool of the fascists, who couldn't say `no'. In her field, the Hohenlohe girl was absolutely top-notch: she was so good that only a short time ago she was released from one of our top-security prisons for spies.
And now here she is, dolled up like a duchess, popping up under the aegis of one of society's most venerable names, at all the lorgnette-and-liqueur evenings. Unless she has moved since I last saw her, the princess is holed up in the Gotham hotel.
Before the war, la Hohenlohe was a close friend of Adolf Hitler and his most trusted female spy. Wherever there were dark dealings afoot, you could be sure to find the princess, described by insiders as "Hitler's Madame de Steel" [sic]. It was Hohenlohe who arranged the famous meeting between Hitler and Lord Rothermere. She set up the Sudetenland talks between Viscount Runciman and Konrad Henlein, the German Gaulciter in Czechoslovakia. The outcome of those talks, as I recall, was the glowing fuse before the world blew up.
This gaudy butterfly of New York society is the same girl who persuaded Hitler to send Fritz Weidemann [sic] to London as his special envoy, and who maintained an intimate relationship with Fritz, when he continued his espionage activities over here.
I am not suggesting that this charming creature should be stood up against the nearest wall and shot, because I am not basically vindictive by nature. But in Nuremberg we have strung up a number of her old buddies for similar misdeeds, and, judged on her connections with high-ranking Nazis, Hohenlohe is a legitimate candidate for anyone's noose.
I also know that no less than 42 countries refused to accept her, when we tried to deport her at the beginning of the war. That's why we had to lock her up in a concentration-camp until the shooting was over. But surely we should be able to do something better than pay court to her at Park Avenue parties.
Maybe we could offer her to the Russians, for whom she would doubtless be extremely effective as a sharp-eared international party-girl. But I doubt whether the Russians would take her, even if we were to throw in a top-class basketball-player and their highly controversial claim on Greece. Stephanie has far too noxious a reputation as a Nazi, and she makes trouble wherever she goes. At 50, she may already be too old to switch ideologies, no matter how basically similar they may be.
But what I simply cannot understand is how New York society, which is normally so impervious to titled tramps, can nurture a one-time member of the Nazi hierarchy in its bosom. For the strongest of stomachs, there is a point where it gets too much, even when a name is listed in the Almanach de Gotha.
To be honest, if Hitler had not committed suicide, it would come as no surprise in my present distraught condition, if he were suddenly to turn up in Carnegie Hall on the arm of some beauty.
After an absence of eleven years, Stephanie returned to Europe to show "Brad", as she called Schofield, her Austrian homeland. The following year the couple travelled to Europe again, this time with Schofield's two daughters. They had a chauffeur who drove them through France, Germany, Austria and Italy. Schofield's daughter Helen later married the internationally respected Hungarian historian, John Lukacs, and Stephanie was a witness at the ceremony.
On the second trip Stephanie could not resist revisiting her beloved Schloss Leopoldskron. It brought back many memories. But her home was now Anderson Place, Schofield's beautiful farm. Sadly, this happiness only lasted until 1954, when Schofield suffered a heart attack and died. He was only sixty-two.
The death of the celebrated attorney had major consequences. The Philadelphia Reporter published a lengthy story which created an uproar in the city, with its revelation that the late Lemuel B. Schofield had been evading taxes for the past six years and that the sum owed to the Internal Revenue Service, including interest, was in the region of one million dollars. The tax inspectors went to work and checked out other "prominent citizens" who had known the attorney: his family, his business partners and, of course, the woman in his life. In the course of their investigations the IRS established that since her arrival in the USA. Stephanie had earned no money at all, but that for the years 1971, 1952 and 1973 she had made no tax declaration. An initial inspection revealed unpaid taxes of $250,000.
The princess now had the guile to make a voluntary declaration, and in fact managed to show she did not have a single dollar of back taxes to pay. She claimed that her famously luxurious lifestyle was "financed by the sale of jewellery, works of art and antiques," which had been in safe keeping during her internment, some in Britain and some with her mother. In this way she had made "a few hundred dollars a month". This could well be true. And in any case, during the years which the IRS were scrutinising, she had been living with a wealthy lawyer.
In mourning after Schofield's death, the princess left that part of her life behind her, and moved to another beautiful farm. Cobble Close, near Red Bank, New Jersey. The property had originally belonged to Herbert N. Straus, owner of Macy's, the world's largest department store. Living nearby was another multimillionaire, Albert Monroe Greenfield, the richest man in Philadelphia. With him as an agreeable new lover, Stephanie would spend the next three years at Cobble Close.
It's been good talking to you over the phone! What a pity it is that Hagen has picked this time to leave Quick, when for once I had gotten the desired appointment in Texas without postponement or hitch of any kind, which has now ironically gone to waste.
As for the new interview Quick wants, I must first get all the details concerning the new person they want to send: a curriculum vitae, name, age, background etc., before I can take the responsibility for asking for one. Because I must be able to vouch for the person they will send. But please tell them, with the war in Vietnam and the political situation as it is, it will not be an easy job for me to get the desired interview. However, I will endeavour my very best to get it.
I rely on your friendship to tell me truthfully if this new situation with Quick protects my best interests.
I took it upon myself to introduce Hagen to the most important people in Washington DC on the three occasions he came here. I arranged one interview for him with Kennedy and two with Johnson. He met Rusk and MacNamara, Senator Fulbright, Johnson when Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey as Senator and later Vice-President, to name only a few. I have given Quick and Hagen a terrific build-up, and will now have to explain the sudden change. I naturally trust you and rely on your judgement, as I did with Hagen. I hope you will remind the editorial office of Quick that it is after all the President of the US, and not just anybody.
I believe it would be advantageous if you could come here for a few days. I would arrange a dinner-party and you could explain the newly developed situation. It would be more plausible and effective coming from you. I'm thinking particularly of Bill Moyers (President Johnson's press secretary), whom you can handle much better than I.