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Princess Stephanie Julianne von Hohenlohe (16 September 1891 - 13 June 1972) was a member of a German princely family by marriage and a close friend of Adolf Hitler who spied for Nazi Germany.

Contents

Early life

She was of Jewish descent, born in Vienna, Austria, the daughter of Ludmilla Kuranda and lawyer Johann Sebastian Richter, and was named after Crown Princess Stephanie of Belgium.[1] In 1906, Stephanie Richter was enrolled in the ballet school of the Vienna Court Opera. As she developed into a beautiful young lady, her charm and sophistication saw her become a part of Vienna's high society.

In her early twenties, she began an affair with the married Archduke Franz Salvator, Prince of Tuscany, son-in-law of Emperor Franz Joseph I through his marriage to Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria. Pregnant with Franz Salvator's child, on 12 May 1914 the delicate matter was covered up through a marriage in London, England to a German prince of the Hohenlohe family, Friedrich Franz von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, (15 February 1879 in Budapest - 24 May 1958 in Curitiba, Brazil). On 5 December 1914, Princess Stephanie's son Franz Josef was born in Vienna. His full name was Franz Josef Rudolf Hans Weriand Max Stefan Anton von Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst (he bore the surname of his mother's husband, although the latter was not his father).

Between World Wars

Princess Stephanie, [née Stephany Julienne Richter), and her husband were divorced in 1920. He married again in Budapest, 6 December 1920, Countess Emanuela Batthyány von Német-Ujvár, (Ikervár, Hungary, 1 April 1883 - Curitiba, Brazil, 13 December 1964, aged 81), no issue.

From 6 December 1920, her married name became, according to Austrian traditions, zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst.

Over the years , Stephanie, let herself, apparently, to be known in society as a Hohenlohe Princess, spending time in Paris, France and in various parts of Europe developing friendships and intimate relationships with a number of powerful and influential men as Irish- British tycoon of influential newspapers, Associated Newspapers Ltd, Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, (1868 –1940), or leading Nazi diplomat, Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Despite being Jewish, she became closely acquainted with members of the Nazi hierarchy including Adolf Hitler who called her his "dear princess". She developed a very close friendship with Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler even declared her an "honorary Aryan." In a 1938 MI6 report, British intelligence said that "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."

Taking up residence at the exclusive Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, London in 1932, as a member of higher German nobility, Princess Stephanie socialized with the British elite, soon making her an extremely valuable propagandist and spy for Adolf Hitler's new government.

Her close friends included Lady Margot Asquith, the wife of the former prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith, Lady Ethel Snowden, the wife of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Lady Londonderry and her husband Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry.

As stated above, Princess Stephanie also befriended and received astonishing amounts of money from Lord Rothermere, the influential owner of London's Daily Mail and Daily Mirror newspapers who admired Hitler and advocated an alliance with Germany.

The savvy Princess Stephanie played her cards perfectly with Lord Rothermere and astonishingly, she was able to get him to pay her a £5,000 annual retainer (£200,000 today) for her services. However, by 1939 their association had deteriorated to the point where Rothermere stopped paying her. In a lawsuit in a British court that she ultimately lost, Princess Stephanie alleged that the publishing tycoon had promised to provide the annual retainer for life.

Beyond her involvement with Lord Rothermere, Princess Stephanie also kept very busy passing secret messages back and forth between various other high-ranking British men who were sympathetic to the Nazi regime and in 1937 she arranged for Lord Halifax to travel to Germany and meet with her friend Hermann Göring. Even more important to the German cause, Princess Stephanie was also instrumental in arranging the 1937 visit by Edward, Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis, The Duchess of Windsor.

In 1937 Princess Stephanie began an affair with Fritz Wiedemann, (Augsburg, 16 August 1891 - Postmünster, 17 January 1970), a personal aide to Adolf Hitler. When Wiedemann was appointed to the post of Consul-General in San Francisco she joined him there in late 1937. In 1938, the Nazis confiscated the property of Austrian Jews including the Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg that had been owned by theatre director Max Reinhardt. The estate was turned over by Hermann Göring to Princess Stephanie who was given the assignment of transforming it into a guest house for prominent artists of the Reich and to serve as a reception facility to Hitler's Berghof home.

The Second World War

She returned to England a year later but following the outbreak of World War II she left the country, fearful she might be arrested as a German spy. Princess Stephanie went back to her former lover Fritz Wiedemann in San Francisco. On her arrival, the United States government immediately placed her under a security surveillance and a 1941 memo to President Franklin D. Roosevelt described her as "extremely intelligent, dangerous and clever," claiming that as a spy she was "worse than ten thousand men." All the same, her social position and keen sense of self-preservation resulted in her being able to align herself with people who helped her avoid a deportation order when her visitor's visa expired.

Estranged from Fritz Wiedemann by the end of 1940, in March 1941 U.S. immigration authorities detained her for several days. She quickly seduced Major Lemuel B. Schofield, the Director of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service who put her up in a hotel in Washington, D.C. where the two carried on an affair that lasted several months. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, she was arrested by the FBI and interned at a facility in Philadelphia, and later at a Texas camp for enemy aliens. She was paroled in May 1945. [2] Documents released after her death, show that for the newly formed Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Princess Stephanie provided considerable insight into the character of Adolf Hitler that helped Professor Henry A. Murray, Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, and psychoanalyst Dr. Walter C. Langer prepare the 1943 OSS report titled the "Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler."

After the Nazi downfall

In the post-war era, Princess Stephanie built new and influential connections in Germany, working with media executives such as Henri Nannen of Stern news magazine and Axel Springer, the owner of the Axel Springer AG publishing company.

Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1972 and is buried there. Her son Franz Josef never married, and was still living in 2005.

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ See however Hitler's Spy Princess: The Extraordinary Life of Princess Stephanie Von Hohenlohe, by Martha Schad (translated by Angus McGeoch),, Sutton: 2004, ISBN 0750935146. While she always claimed to be of pure "Aryan" descent, in fact she was the illegitimate daughter of a Jewish woman from Prague and a Jewish moneylender. Even in the Third Reich, she was generally known to be Jewish, but she nevertheless was awarded the Gold Medal of the Nazi Party.
  2. ^ That Man, An Insider's Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt by Robert H. Jackson Oxford University Press 2003. ISBN 978-0-19-516826-6
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