Fritz Wiedemann

Fritz Wiedemann

Fritz Wiedemann was born on 16th August 1891. After taking his school-leaving examination he joined the German Army. On the outbreak of the First World War he was the staff adjutant of the 16th Reserve Infantry Regiment. One of the men under his command, was Adolf Hitler, who he used as a despatch-runner. It was a dangerous job as it involved carrying messages from regimental headquarters to the front-line. On one day alone, three out of eight of the regiment's despatch-runners were killed. Sergeant Max Amann, recommended Hitler for officer training. However, Wiedemann rejected the idea as he considered Hitler lacked leadership qualities.

Wiedemann reached the rank of captain but on 19th June 1919, he was discharged from the army. The following month he became a small farmer with 20 acres in south-western Bavaria. He married Anna-Luise, the daughter of a wealthy Zurich silk manufacturer, and they had three children. In 1921 the family moved to Fuchsgrub in Lower Bavaria.

According to the German historian, Martha Schad: "In 1932 he and some others set up the Pfarrkirchen Central Dairy, though the business soon ran into trouble with the Nazi authorities for giving short measure on its butter delieveries. In 1933, when things were going badly for Wiedemann financially, he asked two old army friends, Bruno Horn and Max Amann, now a Nazi newspaper owner; to put in a word for him with Hitler and see whether he could be made an officer in the Reichswehr, the regular army of the Weimar Republic. Before Christmas that year he had a meeting with Hitler at the Brown House in Munich where the Führer offered him a post."

Wiedemann started work on 1st February 1934. With a starting salary of 400 Reichsmarks a month, he worked under the orders of Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer. The following month Wiedemann joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP). On 2nd January 1935 Hitler appointed Wiedemann as his Personal Adjutant at the Reich Chancellery. Wiedemann later recalled that Germany's leader was a man who he once ordered to give the canteen a coat of paint while serving in the First World War. He admitted that he had been wrong about Hitler's leadership qualities: "It was certainly not the first time in world history that a man of humble and obscure origins... was driven to achieve things of which no-one would have thought him capable".

Wiedemann became an important figure in the Nazi leadership. It was claimed "Hitler had a particularly soft spot for him" and that Wiedemann was downright alarming in his youthful zeal for the Party". Martha Dodd, the daughter of William Dodd, the American ambassador in Berlin, met Wiedemann on several occasions. In her book, My Years in Germany (1975) she pointed out: "Tall, dark, muscular, he certainly had great physical brawn and the appearance of bravery... Wiedemann's heavy face, with beetling eyebrows, friendly eyes and an extremely low forehead, was rather attractive... But I got the impression of an uncultivated, primitive mind, with the shrewdness and cunning of an animal, and completely without delicacy or subtlety... Certainly Wiedemann was a dangerous man to cross, for despite his social naivety and beguiling clumsiness, he was as ruthless a fighter and schemer as some of his compatriots."

In November, 1933, Lord Rothermere, the British press baron, gave Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe 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 Fritz Wiedemann. He later reported 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 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."

The Daily Telegraph later reported: "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."

In August 1934 Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe wrote a letter to 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.

Lord Rothermere with Adolf Hitler
Fritz Wiedemann and a portrait of Adolf Hitler

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 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.

Lord Rothermere with Adolf Hitler
Lord Rothermere, George Ward Price, Adolf Hitler, Fritz Wiedemann, Joseph Goebbels,
with Princess Stephanie and Magda Goebbels sitting in front. (January, 1936)

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, he stroked her hair when they watched films together, however, they were never lovers. She claimed this was because Hitler was homosexual.

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 von Hohenlohe 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."

Albert Speer, wrote in Inside The Third Reich (1970): "Hitler believed... the Americans... would certainly not withstand a great trial by fire, and for their fighting qualities were low. In general, no such thing as an American people existed as a unit; they were nothing but a mass of immigrants from many nations and races. Fritz Wiedemann, who had once been regimental adjutant and superior to Hitler in his days as a courier and whom Hitler had now with signal lack of taste made his own adjutant, thought otherwise and kept urging Hitler have talks with the Americans."

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).

Lord Rothermere with Adolf Hitler
Fritz Wiedemann and Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe.

In July 1938, Fritz Wiedemann, on the instructions of Adolf Hitler, travelled to London with Princess Stephanie. She asked Lady Ethel Snowden 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 come 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 highly 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 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."

On his return to Germany Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, Abwehr, told 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."

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.

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."

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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."

When he arrived in San Francisco Wiedemann 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".

Information from other sources showed that Wiedemann was working closely with Auslands-Organisation (AO) in the United States The organisation was under the control of Walter Schellenberg, the head of Gestapo counter-intelligence and Ernst Bohle, a Secretary of State at the German Foreign Office, and received considerable funding from I.G. Farben. A report from MI5 concluded that the AO was a "ready-made instrument for intelligence, espionage and ultimately for sabotage purposes".

According to Charles Higham, the author of Trading With the Enemy (2007): "Wiedemann set up the German-American Business League, which had as its rules purchase from Germans only, a boycott of Jewish firms, and the insistence that all employees be Aryans. Financed by Max Ilgner through General Aniline and Film, Wiedemann developed the Business League while pretending to denounce the Associated Bunds organization. Among the members were the owners of 1,036 small firms, including numerous import-export companies, fuel services, dry goods stores, meat markets, and adult and children's dress shops. The League stirred up anti-Jewish feeling, financed secret Nazi military training camps, paid for radio time for Nazi plays, and publicized German goods. It ran lotteries without licenses and sold blue candles to aid its brethren in Poland and Czechoslovakia before those countries were annexed."

At a meeting held in San Francisco on 10th September, 1939: "You are citizens of the United States, which has allied itself with an enemy of the German nation. The time will come when you may have to decide which side to take. I would caution that I cannot advise you what to do but you should be governed by your conscience. One duty lies with the Mother country, the other with the adopted country. Blood is thicker than ink... Germany is the land of the fathers and regardless of consequences, you should not disregard the traditional heritage which is yours."

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.

In the House of Commons the Liberal Party MP, Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander, asked the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, why Princess Stephanie, a "notorius 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 the 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."

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.

In July 1941, Wiedemann was deported from the United States. Four months later he was appointed as Consul-General to the Chinese seaport of Tientsin. He was captured by the US army on 18th September, 1945.

In 1959 Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe 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.

Fritz Wiedemann died on 17th January 1970.

Primary Sources

(1) Fritz Wiedemann, The Man who Wanted to Command (1964)

By military standards Hitler really didn't at that time have potential for promotion. I'm disregarding the fact that he wouldn't have cut a specially good figure as an officer in peacetime; his posture was sloppy and when he was asked a question his answer would be anything but short in a soldier-like fashion. He didn't hold his head straight - it was usually sloping towards his left shoulder. Now all that doesn't matter in wartime, but ultimately a man must have leadership qualities if you're doing the right thing when you promote him to be a non-commissioned officer.

(2) Martha Dodd, My Years in Germany (1939)

Tall, dark, muscular, he certainly had great physical brawn and the appearance of bravery... Wiedemann's heavy face, with beetling eyebrows, friendly eyes and an extremely low forehead, was rather attractive... But I got the impression of an uncultivated, primitive mind, with the shrewdness and cunning of an animal, and completely without delicacy or subtlety... Certainly Wiedemann was a dangerous man to cross, for despite his social naivety and beguiling clumsiness, he was as ruthless a fighter and schemer as some of his compatriots.

(3) Charles Higham, Trading With the Enemy (2007)

The princess was half Jewish. She had been given the title of Hon¬orary Aryan by Dr. Goebbels along with General Erhard Milch of the air force in return for her services to the Third Reich. She and Wiedemann had become romantically involved at the time of Hitler's rise to power.

Wiedemann was handsome, with black wavy hair, chiseled features, a powerful jaw, and a boxer's physique. Fluent in many languages, shrewdly intelligent, he was the toast of society on both sides of the Atlantic. The princess had been quite pretty as a young woman but had not aged well. The addition of years had filled out her figure and rendered her features far less attractive. Nevertheless, she had immense charm and vivacity; she was witty, sparkling, high-strung,
and wonderful company. She was also one of the most dangerous women in Europe.

In the early 1930s, Wiedemann and Stefanie were entirely devoted to Hitler and I.G. Farben's AO. They were friendly with Lord Rothermere, British millionaire-owner of the London Daily Mail, who gave the princess a total of $5 million in cash to assist in Hitler's rise to power. She was less successful in France, which deported her in 1934 for scheming against an alliance between France and Poland that might have helped protect Europe from Nazi encroachment. She formed a close friendship with Otto Abetz, the smooth Nazi represen¬tative in Paris who later became ambassador and was so helpful in the fall of France. In 1938 the princess arranged a meeting between Wiedemann and Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Minister, in London, the purpose of which was to determine Halifax's and Chamberlain's attitude to Hitler. The mission was successful. As the princess had promised, Halifax told Wiedemann that the British government was in sympathy with Hitler and that he had a vision that "Hitler would ride in triumph through the streets of London in the royal carriage along with King George VI...

Wiedemann set up the German-American Business League, which had as its rules purchase from Germans only, a boycott of Jewish firms, and the insistence that all employees be Aryans. Financed by Max Ilgner through General Aniline and Film, Wiedemann developed the Business League while pretending to denounce the Associated Bunds organization. Among the members were the owners of 1,036 small firms, including numerous import-export companies, fuel services, dry goods stores, meat markets, and adult and children's dress shops. The League stirred up anti-Jewish feeling, financed secret Nazi military training camps, paid for radio time for Nazi plays, and publicized German goods. It ran lotteries without licenses and sold blue candles to aid its brethren in Poland and Czechoslovakia before those countries were annexed.