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Real Women Spies

Posted September 07, 2011 to photo album "Real Women Spies"

While most onscreen spies, from James Bond to Jason Bourne, are men, women, like the Rachel Singer in THE DEBT, are more than their equal. We remember the great role that real-life women spies have played in modern history.

Rachel Singer
Mata Hari
Denise Bloch
Mathilde Carré
Suzanne Spaak
Nancy Wake
Violette Szabo
Virginia Hall
Madeleine Damerment
Princess Stephanie Julianna von Hohenlohe
Krystyna Skarbek
Princess Stephanie Julianna von Hohenlohe

Princess Stephanie Julianna von Hohenlohe

While many women spied against the Nazis, there were also a few female Nazi spies. Perhaps the most famous was Princess Stephanie Julianna von Hohenlohe, an Austrian who was ironically of Jewish descent. In her 20s, after an indiscreet affair with Emperor Franz Joseph I’s son-in-law, Stephanie was married off to a German prince from the Hohenlohe house to save the court embarrassment. Since it was a marriage of convenience, she divorced a few years later. During the 1920s, Princess Stephanie used her title to mix with the rich and powerful throughout Europe, including leading Nazi officials. Indeed, despite her Jewish heritage, she became such a close friend of Hitler that in 1938 a MI6 report claimed, "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." In this unique position between high society and the German high command, Princess Stephanie was often tapped to deliver secret messages between the Nazis and British aristocrats sympathetic to their cause. She was most famous for helping pave the way for the visits between Edward, Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson, and Hitler. In 1937, she moved to San Francisco to continue an affair with Fritz Wiedemann, the German Consul-General there. Even though the affair ended, Princess Stephanie stayed in the United States. American security was so fearful of her activity that after Pearl Harbor she was arrested and interned at a facility in Philadelphia until after the war. Only subsequently was it revealed that she was assisting the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) construct a psychological profile of Hitler.