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Martha Eccles Dodd Stern
(1908-10-08)October 8, 1908
August 10, 1990(1990-08-10) (aged 81)
|Education||attended University of Chicago|
|Known for||espionage, writing|
Through Embassy Eyes (1939 memoir)
Sowing the Wind (1945 novel)
The Searching Light (1955 novel)
George Bassett Roberts (m. 1932;
Alfred K. Stern (m. 1938; died 1986)
William Edward Dodd
Martha Ida "Mattie" Johns
|Relatives||William E. Dodd, Jr.|
Martha Eccles Dodd (October 8, 1908 – August 10, 1990) was an American journalist and novelist. The daughter of William Edward Dodd, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first Ambassador to Germany, Martha Eccles Dodd lived in Berlin from 1933–37 and was a witness to the rise of the Third Reich. She became involved in left-wing politics after she purportedly witnessed first-hand the violence of the Nazi state. With her second husband Alfred Stern Jr., she engaged in espionage for the Soviet Union from before World War II until the height of the Cold War.
Martha Eccles Dodd was born in Ashland, Virginia. She studied at the University of Chicago and also for a time in Washington, D.C. and Paris. She served briefly as assistant literary editor of the Chicago Tribune.
Martha Eccles Dodd and her brother, William E. Dodd, Jr., accompanied their parents to Berlin when her father took up the post of U.S. Ambassador in 1933. She initially found the Nazi movement attractive. She later wrote that she
"became temporarily an ardent defender of everything going on"
and admired the
"glowing and inspiring faith in Hitler, the good that was being done for the unemployed."
She made a number of friends in high circles, and Ernst Hanfstaengl, her sometime lover and an aide to Adolf Hitler, tried to encourage a romantic relationship between Hitler and Martha Eccles Dodd. Martha Eccles Dodd found Hitler
"excessively gentle and modest in his manners",
but no romance followed their meeting. She had numerous relationships while in Berlin, including with Ernst Udet, a senior Luftwaffe officer and with French diplomat Armand Berard (later France's ambassador to the United Nations.) Other lovers included future Nobel Laureate Max Delbrück and the first head of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels.
Following the Night of the Long Knives, the mid-1934 Nazi purge of its paramilitary Sturmabteilung, Martha Eccles Dodd changed her views on the Nazis. People in her social circle were begging the Americans for help and the Dodd family found its phones tapped and their servants enlisted as spies. Her mother wrote that Martha Eccles Dodd
"got into a nervous state that almost bordered on the hysterical
[and] had terrible nightmares".
She married George Bassett Roberts in 1932 but the couple were divorced two years later.
In March 1934, the Soviet NKVD Center ordered intelligence officer Boris Vinogradov (under diplomatic cover in Berlin as press attaché), to recruit his lover Martha Eccles Dodd as an agent. Vinogradov and Martha Eccles Dodd began a romantic relationship that lasted for years, even after he left Berlin; in 1936 they asked Joseph Stalin for permission to marry. Martha Eccles Dodd agreed to spy for the Soviet Union. Other case officers soon replaced Vinogradov and Martha Eccles Dodd worked with each of them while hoping to reconnect with Vinogradov. (Vinogradov was executed in approximately 1938, during the Great Purge.)
Martha Eccles Dodd informed the Soviets of secret embassy and State Department business and provided details of her father's reports to the State Department. As part of her cover, she maintained a romantic relationship with Louis Ferdinand, grandson of the last Kaiser.
Anticipating her father's retirement from his Berlin post, she tried to learn the Soviet's preferred replacement for him as U.S. Ambassador and told the NKVD leadership that
"If this man has at least a slight chance, I will persuade my father to promote his candidacy."
After the Dodds left Germany in December, 1937, Iskhak Akhmerov, NKVD rezident in New York City, managed her espionage work.
In the summer of 1938, while still romantically involved with the filmmaker Sidney Kaufman, with whom she lived for several months, Martha married New York millionaire Alfred Stern, an investment broker who acquired great wealth in a prior divorce from the daughter of Sears Roebuck tycoon Julius Rosenwald. According to Martha Eccles Dodd, Stern was prepared to contribute $50,000 to the Democratic party to secure an ambassadorship. The Soviets viewed her as a valuable but uncertain asset. One assessment was:
"A gifted, clever and educated woman, she requires constant control over her behavior."
Another assessment was that
"She considers herself a Communist and claims to accept the party's program. In reality
[she] is a typical representative of American bohemia, a sexually decayed woman ready to sleep with any handsome man."
In a February 5, 1942, letter, Martha Eccles Dodd told her Soviet contacts that her husband should be brought into their network. With their approval, she approached her husband and reported that he responded with enthusiasm:
"He wanted to do something immediately. He felt he had many contacts that could be valuable in this sort of work."
Stern established a music publishing house that served as a cover for routing information from the U.S. to the Soviet Union. Martha Eccles Dodd and Stern proved of little value to the Soviets beyond providing the publishing house cover and occasionally recommending someone as a potential agent. As part of the Soble spy ring, Miss Martha Eccles Dodd (code named Liza) recommended Jane Foster to infiltrate the OSS.
In 1939, Martha Eccles Dodd published a memoir of her years in Berlin, Through Embassy Eyes. It included extravagant praise of the Soviet Union based in her travels there. With her brother as co-editor, she published her father's Berlin diaries, Ambassador Martha Eccles Dodd's Diary, 1933-1938.
Her 1945 novel, Sowing the Wind, described the moral deterioration of decent Germans under Hitler. It was
"not much esteemed as a work of fiction,"
but became a best-seller in translation in the Russian sector of Berlin in 1949.
The FBI had Martha Eccles Dodd under surveillance by 1948. Contacts between Martha Eccles Dodd and Stern and the NKGB, successor to the NKVD, lapsed in 1949.
In 1955, Martha Eccles Dodd published The Searching Light, a defense of academic freedom that told the story of a professor under pressure to sign a loyalty oath. In July 1956, subpoenaed to testify in several espionage cases, they fled to Prague via Mexico with their nine-year-old son. They later applied for and were denied Soviet citizenship. Boris Morros, a Soviet spy turned FBI informant, implicated Martha Eccles Dodd and Stern in 1957 as Soviet agents as part of his exposure of the Soble spy network. The Soviets then allowed them to emigrate to Moscow just as they were convicted of espionage by a U.S. court.
A KGB document, dated October 1975, noted that the Sterns spent 1963–70 in Cuba. In the 1970s, apparently disappointed with their lives in the Soviet Union, they tried without success to have their American attorney negotiate their return to the U.S. The KGB monitored the negotiations and had no objections, since their knowledge of espionage activities was outdated or had been revealed by Morros.
In 1979 the U.S. Department of Justice dropped charges against Martha Eccles Dodd and her husband related to the Soble case. She died on August 10, 1990, in Prague.
Her letters were deposited at the Library of Congress. Her FBI file contained 10,400 pages.
Martha Dodd Stern Is Dead at 82; Author and an Accused Soviet Spy
Martha Dodd Stern, an American author who in the 1930's and 1940's wrote popular books about Nazi Germany and later fled behind the Iron Curtain when she and her wealthy husband, Alfred K. Stern, were accused of being Soviet spies, died on Aug. 10 in Prague, friends reported. She was 82 years old and had lived in the Czechoslovak capital for more than three decades.
Victor Rabinowitz, a New York lawyer who received word of Mrs. Stern's death, said that although the cause of her death was not reported, she had recently suffered an intestinal blockage.
Martha Dodd came to public attention in 1939 when her first book, ''Through Embassy Eyes,'' was published. It told of her four years in Berlin beginning in 1933 when her father, William E. Dodd, was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Ambassador to Germany after Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
Then in her 20's, she was at first favorably impressed by the new leaders of Nazi Germany but her later disillusionment was reflected in her book.
In 1938, a year after her return to the United States, she married Mr. Stern, a former chairman of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council of New York who had inherited through an earlier marriage part of the fortune of Julius Rosenwald, the Chicago philanthropist.
In 1941, after her father's death and nine months before the United States entered World War II, Mrs. Stern and her brother, William E. Dodd Jr., published the Ambassador's diaries. Critics said that by failing to edit the comments of Germans who were opposed to Hitler they endangered the anti-Nazi underground.
In the last days of the war Mrs. Stern published ''Sowing the Wind,'' a novel that dealt with the moral degradation of Germans under the Nazi hierarchy.
In the early 1950's she and Mr. Stern became persistent targets of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in his anti-Communist investigations. The couple moved to Mexico City in 1953, and four years later Boris Morros, an American counterspy, testified to the House Committee on Un-American Activities that the Sternses were part of a Soviet spy network.
When they were indicted on espionage charges in 1957, the couple fled to Prague, where they settled. They later traveled to the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries and to Cuba but never returned to the United States. Mrs. Stern did translations of books and articles. Mr. Stern died four years ago at the age of 88.
Mrs. Stern is survived by a son, Robert, who lives in Prague.
Photo: Martha Dodd Stern (Associated Press, 1954)
Martha Dodd, the daughter of the diplomat, William Edward Dodd, was born in Ashland, Virginia, on 8th October, 1908. Her father was a history professor at Randolph–Macon College and created great controversy when he argued that slaveholders in the Deep South were responsible for the American Civil War.
Soon after Martha's birth he became Professor of American History at the University of Chicago. He told Theodore Roosevelt:
"The purpose of my studying and writing history is to strike a balance somewhat between the North and the South, but not to offer any defense of any thing."
Books by Dodd during this period included Jefferson Davis (1907) and Statesmen of the Old South (1911).
Martha Dodd's biographer, John Lewis Carver, has pointed out:
"Martha lived in Chicago where her father, Dr. Dodd, was a senior history professor at the University, specializing in George Washington and Woodrow Wilson. In her parents’ house, she was brought up in the liberal tradition of her father’s historic idols and on the Bible which Professor Dodd used to read each day at the dinner table."
Dodd was a member of the Democratic Party and in 1912 wrote speeches for the presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson. Dodd created further controversy when he argued that German imperialism was not the only reason for the First World War. In 1919 he published The Cotton Kingdom: A Chronicle of the Old South. He remained active in politics and wrote speeches for Wilson on why the United States should join the United Nations. Dodd also wrote for James M. Cox during the 1920 Presidential Election. Dodd published Woodrow Wilson and his Work (1923) and also co-edited the six-volumes of The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1925-27).
Martha Dodd studied at the University of Chicago before spending time in Paris. She served briefly as assistant literary editor of The Chicago Tribune. It was later claimed that she became a socialist after reading a book by Ella Winter. She married George Bassett Roberts in 1932 but the couple were divorced two years later. During this period she developed a very active social life and her name was associated with a large number of men. John Lewis Carver recalled:
" Martha was a vivacious, flirtatious, fair-skinned sexy girl, far more interested in amorous escapades than in those serious matters. But she, too, had her serious side. She wrote short stories and poetry, and made up her mind to become a writer."
Life in Nazi Germany
In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her father to the post of United States ambassador in Germany. It was considered a very important job as Adolf Hitler had just gained power. William Edward Dodd wrote:
"The realities of the American past as well as the dilemma of the present reconcile me to the adventure I am about to undertake. Germany can hardly fail to realize the importance of friendly cooperation with the 120,000,000 people of the United States, and the United States can hardly fail to realize the value of social and economic cooperation with the land of Luther, Stein and Bismarck."
Martha and her brother, William E. Dodd Jr., joined their parents in Berlin. At first she was impressed with Adolf Hitler and
"became temporarily an ardent defender of everything going on"
and admired the
"glowing and inspiring faith in Hitler, the good that was being done for the unemployed."
She also had affairs with several leading figures in Nazi Germany including Ernst Hanfstaengel, Ernst Udet and Rudolf Diels. Other lovers included the journalist, Louis Fischer, French diplomat Armand Berard and the scientist, Max Delbrück.
Martha Dodd also began a relationship with Hitler's adjutant, Fritz Wiedemann, 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."
Her biographer, John Lewis Carver, has argued:
" Nazism meant good-looking, tall, blond men to her and she liked what she saw. She was painting the Nazi capital red, but in a social way. She went out on the town every night, flirting, drinking and dancing, mostly with young men who happened to be Nazis She gained a dual reputation. Insiders described her as a nymphomaniac in her sex life and a Nazi sympathizer in her politics. This reputation gained confirmation when she started an affair with a sinisterly handsome Nazi official, Rolf Diels by name. He was then chief of the Nazi secret service. His curriculum included spying on Martha’s own father and the American Embassy in Berlin."
Martha Dodd, who held socialist views, changed her opinion of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) after the Night of the Long Knives. Socialist in the party such as Ernst Roehm and Gregor Strasser were murdered in between 30th June and 2nd July 1934. She also disapproved of the way the Jews were being treated in Germany. In her book, My Years in Germany (1939), she wrote:
"There was a street-car in the centre of the road from which a young girl was being brutally pushed and shoved. We moved closer and saw the tragic and tortured face. She looked ghastly. Her head had been shaved clean of hair and she was wearing a placard across her breast. We followed her for a moment, watching the crowd insult and jibe and drive her. Quentin and my brother asked several people around us, what was the matter. We understood from their German that she was a Gentile who had been consorting with a Jew."
She added that the woman was forced to wear a placard that said:
"I have offered myself to a Jew."
Dodd was also concerned about the treatment of women in Nazi Germany:
"Young girls from the age of ten onward were taken into organizations where they were taught only two things: to take care of their bodies so they could bear as many children as the state needed and to be loyal to National Socialism. Though the Nazis have been forced to recognize, through the lack of men, that not all women can get married. Huge marriage loans are floated every year whereby the contracting parties can borrow substantial sums from the government to be repaid slowly or to be cancelled entirely upon the birth of enough children. Birth control information is frowned on and practically forbidden."
In March 1934, NKVD agent, Boris Vinogradov, was ordered to recruit Martha Dodd. The message was sent to the Berlin station chief:
"Let Boris Vinogradov know that we want to use him for the realization of an affair we are interested in.... According to our data, the mood of his acquaintance (Martha Dodd) is quite ripe for finally drawing her into our work. Therefore we ask Vinogradov to write her a warm friendly letter and to invite her to a meeting in Paris where... they will carry out necessary measures to draw Martha into our work."
The couple became lovers while in Paris. They also visited Moscow before retuning to Berlin. On 5th June, 1935, Vinogradov wrote to his spymaster:
"Currently the case with the American (Martha Dodd) is proceeding in the following way. Now she is in Berlin, and I received a letter from her in which she writes that she still loves me and dreams of marrying me. It is possible to work with her only with help from our good relations."
In October 1935, Vinogradov was recalled to Moscow and another agent, Emir Bukhartsev, took over her case. He reported:
"Martha argues that she is a convinced partisan of the Communist Party and the USSR. With the State Department's knowledge, Martha helps her father in his diplomatic work and is aware of all his ambassadorial affairs. The entire Dodd family hates National Socialists. Martha has interesting connections that she uses in getting information for her father. She has intimate relations with some of her acquaintances.... Martha claims that the main interest of her life is to assist secretly the revolutionary cause. She is prepared to use her position for work in this direction, provided that the possibility of failure and of discrediting her father can be eliminated. She claimed that a former official of the Soviet Embassy in Berlin - Boris Vinogradov - has had intimate relations with her."
In January 1936, Emir Bukhartsev reported on the progress he was making with Martha Dodd.
"For the last 2-3 weeks, I met with Dodd several times. At the first meeting, she told me about Bullitt's (U.S. Ambassador to France William Bullitt) swinish behavior during his sojourn in Berlin. According to her, Bullitt severely scolded the USSR in the American Embassy, arguing that in the next few months the Japanese would capture Vladivostok and the Russians would do nothing against it.... All of this exasperated the American Ambassador Dodd, who reported the talks in a letter to Washington.... During previous meetings Martha Dodd frankly expressed her willingness to help the Soviet Embassy with her information. Now she is studying hard the theory of communism and Matters of Leninism by Stalin. Her teacher is Arvid Harnack to whom she goes often. According to her, she now has to hide her Communist convictions due to her father's official status."
Bukhartsev also revealed that Martha Dodd was having an affair with Loius Ferdinand, the Prince of Prussia. She claimed that this was for political reasons:
"This year her father will retire, and then she will be able to conduct Communist activities more openly. However, this circumstance does not prevent her from maintaining rather intimate relations with Louis-Ferdinand, the Crown Prince's son. According to Dodd, this is a perfect disguise, because those who earlier treated her suspiciously because of her open relations with Vinogradov now consider her previous passion hearty rather than political."
Boris Vinogradov was now working in Bucharest and in October 1936 Martha Dodd wrote to him via the Soviet embassy:
"Boris, this week it was a year since I saw you last. On the 8th I gave you a farewell kiss at the railway station, and since then we haven't seen one another. But I never, not for a minute, forgot you and everything you gave me in my life. This week, every night I thought about you - every night, and about that night we had such a stupid and mean quarrel - do you forgive me? I was scared and in a wild condition that night because I knew that I wouldn't see you for so long. I strongly wanted you to stay with me that night and forever, and I knew that I would never be able to have you. What have you been doing all this time? Have you been thinking about me and asking yourself how my personal life has gone? From various sources I know that soon you will go home. Will you go via Berlin? Write me and let me know your plans. I would like to see you once more. On December 8 I will be at home all night. Won't you call me, won't you talk to me from Bucharest - I want so much to hear your voice again - and on the 8th it will be the anniversary of our folly. We should blame our cowardice for this absence. Please, call me that night."
In her letter Dodd admitted that she had been having an affair with French diplomat Armand Berard.
"You may have heard about me indirectly. I have lived and thought many things since I saw you last time. You must know about it. Armand is still here - but you must know that he means nothing to me now - as long as you are still alive - nobody can mean anything to me as long as you are alive."
Boris Vinogradov was then posted to Warsaw and asked her to travel to Poland. On 29th January, 1937, he wrote:
"You can't imagine, honey, how often you were with me, how I have been constantly thinking about you, worrying about you and craving to see you, how I adjusted to the inevitable when I heard the first news and how I was glad to know the truth. I want to see you so much, honey. Couldn't I come before the end of the month? I would like to come on February 6, I think ... and to stay for about a week. It is extremely important for me to see you and I promise to do it as soon as possible. I would like to stay in a small hotel not far from you, and I want nobody to know I'm there because I don't want to be entertained. I only want to see you as much as possible incognito. Probably, we'll be able to leave from Warsaw to the countryside for one or two days. I will come alone. After all, my parents quite agree that I do what I want. I am 28 and very independent!"
In February 1937 Martha Dodd was told that Emir Bukhartsev had been recalled to Moscow and executed as "a Gestapo agent". Vinogradov became her main controller and in March, 1937, he was able to tell his Soviet intelligence supervisors that she was now working for Earl Browder, the leader of the American Communist Party, and an agent of the Soviet Union:
"Today Martha Dodd left for Moscow. Since her father will retire sooner or later, she wants to work in her motherland. She established a connection with Browder who invited her to work for him. She also established a connection (through her brother) with The World Committee of Struggle for Peace in Geneva and became close friends with Comintern workers Otto Katz and Dolliway. An authoritative comrade in Moscow must talk to her and convince her to stay in Europe and work only for us."
On her arrival in Moscow on 14th March she sent a letter to the Soviet Government:
"I, Martha Dodd, U.S. citizen, have known Boris Vinogradov for three years in Berlin and other places, and we have agreed to ask official permission to marry."
She had a meeting with Abram Slutsky, the head of the Foreign Department (INO) of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). Slutsky reported:
"Some time ago, Martha Dodd, daughter of the American Ambassador in Germany, was recruited by us. We used her short-term trip to the USSR for detailed negotiations with her and established that she has very valuable possibilities and may be widely used by us."
Dodd made a statement to Slutsky about her commitment to the Soviet Union:
"It goes without saying that my services of any kind and at any time are proposed to the party for use at its discretion. Currently, I have access mainly to the personal, confidential correspondence of my father with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. President. My source of information on military and naval issues, as well as on aviation, is exclusively personal contact with our embassy's staff... I have established very close connections to journalists."
Dodd admitted that she was unable to get much important information from the Germany government:
"I lost almost any connection with the Germans except perhaps for casual, high-society meetings which yield almost nothing. I still have a connection to the diplomatic corps but, on the whole, it doesn't yield great results. Germans, foreign diplomats, and our own personnel treat us suspiciously, unfriendly, and (as far as the Germans are concerned) insultingly. Is the information which I get from my father, who is hated in Germany and who occupies an isolated position among foreign diplomats and therefore has no access to any secret information, important enough for me to remain in Germany?"
In this document Dodd suggested that she would be more use working in the United States:
"Couldn't I conduct more valuable work in America or in some European organization such as the International Conference for Peace. In America, I am suspected of nothing, except for the Germans, and I have countless valuable connections in all circles. In other words, is my potential work valuable enough to stay in Germany even for the remaining term of my father's sojourn there? I have done everything possible to make my father remain in Germany. I'm still going to do everything I can in this direction. However, I'm afraid he will retire this summer or fall. He was of great benefit to the Roosevelt administration, contributing an anti-Nazi view. In any case, this was with regard to (Secretary of State Cordell) Hull and Roosevelt. Most State Department officials work with the Nazis, for example, Dunn, chief of the European department; Phillips, currently in Rome; Bullitt; and others. My father tried to prevent trade agreements with Germany; he refused to cooperate with bankers, businessmen, etc."
Dodd offered to persuade her father to help the Soviet government:
"He personally wants to leave. Shouldn't he arrange his resignation with a provocation once he decides the question of timing? Shouldn't he provoke the Germans to make them demand his recall or create a scandal, after which he could speak openly in America both orally and in the press.... To resign and to publish a protest? He could be convinced to do it if it had significance for the USSR. Roosevelt will be giving diplomatic posts to many capitalists who financed him. Having little experience with respect to European politics, Roosevelt will appoint... people or groups who will be dangerous now and in time of war. Nevertheless, my father has great influence on Hull and Roosevelt, who are inclined to be slightly anti-Fascist... Have you got anybody in mind who would be at least liberal and democratic in this post (Dodd's replacement in Germany)? ... If there is information concerning our candidates, it would be important to know whose candidacy to the post of U.S. Ambassador in Germany the USSR would like to promote. If this man has at least a slight chance, I will persuade my father to promote his candidacy."
A copy of this statement was sent to Nikolai Yezhov, the head of the NKVD. On 29th March, 1937, he sent it to Joseph Stalin with the message:
"The 7th department of the... NKVD recruited Martha Dodd, daughter of the American Ambassador in Berlin, who came in March 1937 to Moscow for business negotiations. She described in her report her social status, her father's status, and prospects of her further work for us. Forwarding a copy of the latter, I ask instructions about Martha Dodd's use."
For the rest of the year Martha Dodd provided information from the American embassy. A NKVD report stated:
"Martha Dodd... checks Ambassador Dodd's reports to Roosevelt in the archive and communicates to us short summaries of the contents, whose numbers we gave to her. She continues providing us with materials from the American Embassy, trying mainly to get data about Germany, Japan, and Poland." Her controller reported giving her "200 American dollars, 10 rubles, and gifts bought for 500 rubles."
In a memo from Boris Vinogradov he pointed out that it was important for her to believe that she would eventually be allowed to marry him. He wrote that
"her dream is to be my wife, at least virtually, and that I will come to work in America and she would help me."
In a memo dated 12th November 1937 he mentioned that Louis Fischer had proposed to her.
"The meeting with Martha went off well. She was in a good mood. On December 15, she leaves for New York where a meeting with her is fixed (with NKVD operatives in that city). She is still busy with our marriage plans and waits for the fulfillment of our promise despite her parents' warning that nothing would come of it. Not unknown to you, journalist Louis Fischer proposed to her. She did not accept since she hopes to marry me. But if we tell her that I will by no means and never marry her, she will accept Fischer's proposal. I think that she shouldn't be left in ignorance with regard to the real situation, for if we deceive her, she may become embittered and lose faith in us. Now she agrees to work for us even if it turns out that I won't marry her. I proposed giving money to her, but she turned me down."
Spying in the United States
Iskhak Akhmerov, the station chief in New York City was informed of Martha Dodd's arrival in the United States in January, 1938.
"We inform you that our source Liza (Miss Martha Dodd), daughter of the former American Ambassador in Germany Dodd - is currently in your city. You should contact her after receiving a special cable. Her address: Irving Place, New York City. You should come to her early in the morning between 8 and 9 A.M."
Akhmerov was told to say to her:
"I want to give you regards from Bob Norman."
Akhmerov reported that Martha Dodd had started a relationship with the millionaire Alfred Stern, a supporter of the American Communist Party.
"At present she has a fiance.... If Vinogradov reiterates his promise she will wait for him and reject the other man. Her fiance is Alfred Stern, 40 years old, Jew, a man with an independent material status who stayed in Germany a couple of years ago and helped the Communist Party financially.... She doesn't think her marriage would prevent her from working with us, though she doesn't understand completely what she should do."
Martha Dodd married Alfred Stern on 16th June, 1938. She wrote to Boris Vinogradov with the news:
"You haven't had time yet to know that I really got married. On June 16, I married an American whom I love very much. I wanted to tell you a lot, but I will wait until our meeting. We are supposed to be in the USSR in late August or early September this year. I hope you'll be there or will let me know where I can meet you. You know, honey, that for me, you meant more in my life than anybody else. You also know that, if I am needed, I will be ready to come when called. Let me know your plan if you get another post. I look into the future and see you in Russia again. Your Martha." Dodd was unaware that Vinogradov had already been arrested and executed as a "traitor to the motherland".
Iskhak Akhmerov reported on 1st December, 1938:
"Since Liza (Martha Dodd) became the wife of a millionaire, her everyday life has changed considerably. She lives in a rich apartment on 57th Street, has two servants, a driver, and a personal secretary. She is very keen on her plan to go to Moscow as the wife of the American Ambassador."
He pointed out that Stein was willing to contribute $50,000 to the Democratic Party in order to get the post but he considered
"his chances are still very weak."
The NKVD ordered Dodd to use her influence with important figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt. One report of Martha Dodd claimed:
"A gifted, clever and educated woman, she requires constant control over her behavior.... Let (Dodd) move in the circles interesting to us rather than in circles close to the Trust... It is necessary to continue activating her activities as a successful journalist. She should also be guided to approach and deepen her relationship with the President's wife, Eleanor, through different social organizations, committees, and societies. Here, the special interest of the Roosevelts in China and everything connected with it must be used. Dodd can play on this factor. Let her approach Eleanor through the committee on help to China."
Another agent was rather disapproving of Dodd's behavior:
"She considers herself a Communist and claims to accept the party's program. In reality, Liza is a typical representative of American bohemia, a sexually decayed woman ready to sleep with any handsome man."
Zalmond Franklin asked her to control her sexual behaviour. Martha replied:
"Why? What's wrong with it?"
"It may be demoralizing. The work may suffer. Relations suffer because they become too intimate. Lovers chatter too much, especially in bed."
Franklin went on to say:
"Bluntly but frankly, I asked Martha if her sexual relations with her husband were satisfactory. She, of course, asked why. I explained that I was interested because she had twice remarked that she would divorce her husband if she stood in... the way of his political development. I suggested that one does not talk of divorce quite so casually unless one wanted a divorce. Martha explained: She loved her husband very much. Their relationship was quite satisfactory in every way. She loved him, not the wild love she felt for Boris Vinogradov, but still a satisfactory love. Having once started, Martha, as in the past, talked quite freely... Martha's life in Berlin can be summed up in one word - sleep. Seemingly, she spent most of her time in bed. In addition to the Russian or Russians, she had slept with a full-blown fascist-General Ernest Udet, second in command (after Goering) of the German air force; Louis Ferdinand, grandson of the Kaiser; and some guy at the French Embassy in Berlin. (A real internationalist!)"
Recruits Alfred Stern as Soviet Agent
Martha Dodd recruited her husband as a Soviet agent. In December 1941, Vassily Zarubin arranged for Stein and Boris Morros to form a music publishing house in the United States. Stern agreed to invest $130,000 in the venture and Boris Morros agreed to put $62,000 in the Boris Morros Music Company. According to Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999):
"Using funds provided by the NKGB, Morros would establish a music publishing house in the United States - a business that could also serve as a cover for Soviet illegals... Soviet intelligence's adventure in the American commercial music industry was launched at a September 1944 meeting of Morros and Stern brokered by Zarubin."
Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999), has pointed out that Dodd was not a very important spy during the Second World War.
"Beyond Martha Dodd's occasional help as a spotter, identifying potential agents from among her circles of radical friends, and Alfred Stern's cheerful willingness to invest and lose personal funds in an NKCB cover business, Moscow now found little of value in Stern (known as "the Red millionaire") and his socially active spouse."
Dodd did publish My Years in Germany (1939) which
"focused mainly on Germany but was also filled with euphoric commentary on the Soviet Union, observations made during her trip around the country with Boris Vinogradov (though discreetly omitting any mention of him)."
In 1944 Jack Soble became the couple's new NKVD handler. It was suggested that Jack Soble should be a co-owner of Boris Morros Music Company but the idea was rejected as he was still a Soviet citizen. Jack Soble complained about Boris Morros:
"Boris, having fallen for music, almost forgot about the main idea, i.e., that... music is only a means of fulfilling our central goal, that is penetration by providing cover identities to Soviet operatives into a number of countries neighboring the U.S. Publishing music would require an insignificant financial investment, and we could open branches wherever we need."
Jack Soble reported to Moscow on 18th August 1947:
"One has to be an iron man to tolerate Alfred Stern in a commercial affair, especially in America, where risk, broad scope, and timeliness are the basic elements in any commercial enterprise.... But certainly, Boris Morros is a talented, energetic, and enterprising man. Undoubtedly, he can keep a secret and wants and is ready to do business with us. But his problem is... living in a Hollywood environment in conditions of luxury and abundance... He is an honest man and obeys our decisions."
House Committee on Un-American Activities
The FBI became suspicious of Boris Morros and in 1947 he was arrested. He agreed to become a double agent and provided information on the Soviet spy network. Jack Soble was eventually arrested and convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to seven years in prison. Fearing that they will be called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) Stern and Dodd fled to Mexico City where they joined several left-wing activists, including Ian McLellan Hunter, Ring Lardner Jr., Dalton Trumbo, Hugo Butler, Jean Rouverol and Albert Maltz. On Saturday mornings this group and their children used to have picnic lunches and play baseball together. The FBI were spying on them in Mexico and according to declassified reports, the agents believed that these picnics were cover for "Communist meetings."
Julian Zimet was another left-wing writer who moved to Mexico: "In the early fifties the refugees in Mexico were Americans. Schoolteachers, doctors, writers, journalists, businessmen, college professors, and government employees dismissed for political reasons, and Communist Party members and functionaries, were members of the community that I was about to join. Some of them were well-known, such as Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who went to prison in 1951 for refusing to reveal to a federal judge the names of contributors to a bail fund for eleven Communist leaders convicted under the Smith Act, and Martha Dodd, daughter of Ambassador William E. Dodd, Roosevelt's man in Berlin from 1933 through 1937. The Hollywood contingent included Albert Maltz, Dalton Trumbo, Gordon Kahn, Hugo and Jean Butler, and John Bright, a group whose screen writing credits covered many of the best and most important films that came out of Hollywood both before and after the blacklist."
In July 1956 Dodd and Stern moved to Prague. They tried to gain entry into the Soviet Union but this was initially refused. However, On 12th August 1957, Boris Morros appeared before the House of Un-American Activities Committee and named Dodd and Stern as being members of a Soviet spy ring in the United States. As Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999) has pointed out: "Within days, on August 28, the KGB recommended to the Central Committee of the Communist Party that Martha and Alfred Stern be allowed to settle in the USSR. The Sterns arrived in Moscow the following month, at the same time an American court found them guilty in absentia of espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union."
Dodd and Stern were refused permission to meet with Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, the British agents who had fled for sanctuary to Moscow years earlier. Unhappy in the Soviet Union the couple returned to Czechoslovakia in January 1958 where Stern worked in the export-import field and Dodd edited English-language books.
In February, 1958, John Lewis Carver published an article, The Spy Queen was a Nympho, in Top Secret Magazine. Carver highlights the spying career of Stern and Dodd based on the testimony of Boris Morros:
"By the time Morros pointed the accusing finger at the woman who betrayed him, Miss Dodd and her tycoon husband were safely beyond the reach of the FBI. They had a timely warning! Last January, the Bureau arrested one of Morros’ associates, a bristle salesman named Jack Soble, and unmasked him as second-in-command in the Morros ring. With Jack Soble’s arrest, the ring was compromised and Morros’ double-edged association with it had to be revealed. That was the last-minute tip-off for Miss Dodd and her husband. They quickly picked up a few hundred thousand random dollars of the Stern millions and took a run-out powder, on the eve of their scheduled appearance before a grand jury. They first crossed the unguarded border to Mexico, then sneaked surreptitiously to safety behind the Iron Curtain."
In 1963 the couple moved to Cuba but returned to Czechoslovakia seven years later. Allen Weinstein, the author of The Hunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America (1999) has argued:
"Apparently, even Havana, the newest of New Jerusalems for a couple perpetually suffused with Communist idealism, did not measure up to their hopes. During the 1970s, monitored by the KGB, American lawyers for Martha and Alfred began negotiating with the FBI for their return to America with out prosecution or imprisonment for espionage." The KGB did not object to their departure, according to a 14th October, 1975, memo: "Data that the Sterns have about the activities of Soviet intelligence are obsolete and mainly known to the adversary from the traitor (Boris Morros's) testimonies."
However, the negotiations proved unsuccessful.
Martha Dodd died in Prague on 10th August, 1990.