The strange, fascinating story of Martha Dodd
Martha Dodd and husband Alfred Stern in 1957. (eBay)
Today on Vox Tablet, host Sara Ivry sits down with Wendy Lower, author of Hitler’s Furies, a surprising new book about the women of the Third Reich. In the same vein, we are remembering Margaret Dodd, the American writer turned socialite turned Nazi consort turned Soviet spy. Her story, though relatively unknown, is astounding. Dodd’s life shows us an alternative 1930s, through the eyes of playful young woman with a writer’s imagination and a serious knack for political shape-shifting to fit in with her partner of the moment.
Born to a middle class family in 1908 in Ashland, VA, Martha Dodd was a graduate of the University of Chicago (English major). She became the assistant literary editor of the Chicago Tribune, and spent the late 1920s writing short stories and having many lovers—as English majors are wont to do—including Carl Sandburg and Thomas Wolfe.
Dodd spent the 1930s in Berlin with her father, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Originally quite enamored of the Nazis, her liaisons provide a veritable who’s who of the up-and-coming National Socialists, including Rudolf Diels, then head of the Gestapo. Her memoir, My Years in Germany, deliciously chronicles many an inter-war party scene involving history’s villains; while her writing never received any critical approval, her memoir strikes the perfect balance of gossipy description and judgmental analysis of early Nazi faux pas (many involve having no sense of humor). (more…)