THE SPY QUEEN WAS A NYMPHO! (Feb, 1958)

THE SPY QUEEN WAS A NYMPHO!

Revealed for the first time—the biggest secret in the torrid life of Martha Dodd, the Reds’ Mata Hari in the U.S.

By JOHN LEWIS CARVER

IN THE FALL of 1950, a short, cleanshaven, ebullient man had dinner behind closed doors in a Moscow office and while he was munching the excellent meal suddenly realized that this could very well become his last supper. In the midst of pleasantries he abruptly felt the cold gust of death breathing down his spine.

TOP SECRET magazine, in this special exclusive report, can reveal the details of that Moscow party and expose behind it the most extraordinary spy drama ever staged. In the center of the story stands a fantastic femme fatale whose role in America closely resembles that of Benedict Arnold.

It is a story as spine-chilling for all of us as was the sudden change of a friendly dinner’s climate for that man in Moscow.

He was Boris Mihailovich Morros, pudgy Hollywood composer of hits like “The March of the Wooden Soldiers” and the producer of smash movies like “The Tales of Manhattan” and “Carnegie Hall.”

His host was a faceless Soviet general named Petro Vasilievich Fedotov, one of the top ranking officials of the espionage department of the Soviet secret police.

Fedotov dined and wined Morros on receiving the composer into the inner sanctum of the Soviet secret service, because Morros was, behind his Hollywood mask, a secret agent of the Soviet Union. He joined the fold in 1945 and was the boss of a Soviet spy ring operating in the U.S. under a Russian spy-master named “Edward Herbert.” This “Herbert” was none other than Vassili M. Zubilin, a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet secret service, masquerading in Washington as a secretary of the Soviet embassy on 16th Street.

Now, at the height of the dinner, General Fedotov abruptly turned to Morros and said in a cold, searching tone: “Boris Mihailovich! 1 have here a disturbing report from Colonel Zubilin in Washington. It concerns you! One of our best American agents has warned him against you She said she had reason to believe you weren’t really a loyal Communis; but were in fact working against us, for our enemies, like the FBI.”

BORIS DOES FAST TALKING It was a blockbuster between the soup and the nuts and it caught Morros with his guard down. He had to talk fast and glibly to get hr neck out of the noose i But he managed to convince General Fedotov chat the denunciation was spurious and that he was faithful to those “Russian objectives.”

Almost seven years later, when Morros himself related the story of that close shave, it became known that the mysterious woman’s suspicions were abundantly justified. Far from being a dedicated Soviet spy, Morros was a brave and ingenious counterspy working for the FBI. His was one of the most breathtaking scoops in espionage history, because very few such operatives ever manage to infiltrate to the top of the Soviet Union’s secret hierarchy.

But how about he woman of that tip-off?

She is Martha Eccels Dodd, daughter of the late Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd, wife of a Chicago millionaire, Alfred Kaufmann Stern, himself an undercover agent of the Soviet Union.

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 Soble’s arrest, the ring was compromised and Morros’ double-edged association with it had to be revealed.

LONGTIME PARTISAN OF REDS 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 be- hind the Iron Curtain.

Now enjoying haver, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Miss Dodd can justly say to her Soviet bosses: “1 told you so!” Who knows, she may even get the Lenin Order for her excellent work for the U.S.S.R.

With the revelation of her involvement in Soviet espionage against this country, the emphasis in the plot shifts from Jack Soble and other small fry, from Fedotov, Zubilin and even Boris Morros, to the Stern couple, Martha and Alfred.

The disclosure of Martha Dodd’s crime comes as a shock, but not as a surprise, to her intimates. She was long known as a diehard partisan of the Soviet Union. She was a member of a dozen Communist front organizations and a celebrity among American subversives, widely known as eloquent propagandist of the “cause.”

But it was not known that Martha was a producing spy, a busy bee in the Soviet espionage network. There was this fateful gap in our knowledge of Miss Dodd’s interesting biography. TOP SECRET magazine can now fill this authentic and exclusive story of Martha Dodd’s insidious double-life.

TYPICAL TWENTIES’ FLAPPER It is possible, on the basis of the Martha Dodd file in the possession of TOP SECRET, even to pinpoint the origin of her treachery, which came about in the strangest of ways.

A native Virginian, 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.

Martha was ? 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.

As a typical flapper of the Roaring Twenties, she was somewhat naive in her politics But that did not prevent her from taking sides. Unlike her democratic father, Martha flirted with the fashionable totalitarian ideas of those days, had at least an interest in Fascism and Nazism, and a touch of anti-Semitism. When after her gradua- tion from the University of Chicago, it was time for her to go to work, she accepted a job with the right-wing bitterly anti-Roosevelt, Chicago Tribune as associate literary editor.

It was while working for that conservative newspaper, the most powerful mouthpiece of isolationism in the States, that she suddenly contracted the Bolshevik germ.

She was given a book to review and it turned out to be a violently pro-Soviet work by Ella Winter, a noted fellow-traveller and ex-wife of Lincoln Steffens. It was called, “Red Virtue.”

FLIRTS WITH NAZISM 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 nympho- maniac 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.

It was from Diels that Miss Dodd first learned the intricate science and art of totalitarian espionage, the manner in which agents are planted on suspects, telephones tapped, correspondence rifled. Recalling her affair with Diels, Martha later said: “I was intrigued and fascinated by this human monster of sensitive” face and cruel, broken beauty. We went out quite a lot, dancing and driving. 1 went to his office once and saw dictaphones on the desk in an unpretentious, large and somewhat bare room. He gave me the first indication of how spying was done.”

She added: “There began to appear before my romantic eyes a vast and complicated network of espionage from which no one, official or private, could escape.”

In her yen for adventure, and in her naivety, Miss Dodd overlooked Diel’s true purpose in courting her. The American Embassy was a high priority target on the Nazi espionage list. Rolf Diels made love to the Ambassador’s pretty, petite, vivacious daughter in the hope that he could gain information; his purpose was to turn Martha Dodd into a Nazi spy — and he almost succeeded Then, unexpectedly, something happened that soured Martha on the whole Nazi shebang. Her friend Rolf Diels was unceremoniously sacked overnight and had to flee Nazi Germany. If she had ever flirted with the idea of doing Diels’ bidding, she no longer wanted to accommodate the Nazis, now that her mentor and lover was in disgrace.

HONEYMOONS WITH COMMUNISM In the meantime, others tried to cuddle up to Martha, in both a political and an amorous sense. The place of Diels in her heart was taken by a tall, blond, good-looking young Reichswehr officer who turned out to be the exact political opposite of Rolf — a violent anti-Nazi. It soon became known to Martha that her new friend was a secret Communist, actually doing yeoman duty for the Soviet secret service.

Again under the influence of a boy friend, the love-thirsty Miss Dodd revived her dormant interest in Russia and Communism. While previously she had frequented the gatherings of young pro-Nazi men and women, she now drifted into the clandestine circles of pro-Russian Germans. Before long, she had a contact inside the Soviet Embassy on Unter den Linden — the Russian Ambassador, Jacob Surich himself.

Comrade Surich unrged her to visit the Soviet Union. Martha Dodd was started off on her fateful journey, with treason lurking at the end of her road.

In July 1934, Miss Dodd was ready for the trip which she undertook over her ambassador-father’s violent objections. By then, in Moscow, she was put down as a promising espionage candidate, so naturally she was given the appropriate reception. She travelled as an ordinary tourist, but that was not how the Russians regarded her. Instead of assigning to Miss Dodd a bona fide Intourist guide, they planted on her brilliant young agent of the secret service, a comely woman who was as flirtations and vivacious as Martha herself. Her job was to size up Miss Dodd.

The trip lasted a couple of months and Miss Dodd was given the run of Russia. She could go where she pleased. But was always accompanied by her pretty and smart chaperone. This was the beginning of another love affair in Martha’s life — her love affair with the Soviet Union.

When she emerged, she was a full-fledged propagandist for the Communists, frankly saying in Berlin: “Russia is a genuine democracy in spirit and in plans,” and praising the Red Army as an organization that had none of the “arrogance of militarism.” Although she wasn’t yet working as an actual espionage operative, Martha Dodd was already firmly in the claws of the Soviet secret service.

She returned to the United States and plunged headlong into pro-Soviet activities. She joined one crypto-Communist organization after another. Among the subversive groups in which she held membership were the American Committee on Democracy and Intellectual Freedom; the American Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born; the American Council for a Democratic Greece; the Committee for a Democratic Fa. Eastern Policy; the International Labor Defense; the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee; the League of American Writers; the United American Spanish Aid Committee.

The word “democratic” recurred in the name of several organizations to which Martha Dodd belonged but, in fact, in the misleading language of the Bolsheviks, it stood for “Communist.” All of these groups were Moscow-sponsored, subversive organizations. Several were cover groups for Soviet espionage.

MARRIES PINK TYCOON Martha also undertook miscellaneous activities on behalf of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League, and signed several manifestos defending Communist causes.

If she wasn’t yet a producing espionage agent, she was not too far from becoming one. She was already feeding invaluable information, that was gathered through her unsuspecting contacts, to various Communist middlemen and a certain amount of it even to Soviet spies working out of the Embassy.

All of the time, as she moved boldly on the lunatic fringe of Communism, she was slowly being sucked into the international Soviet conspiracy and its espionage branch inside the United States.

On her wanderings in the Red labyrinth, in 1937-38, Martha met a debonair North Dakotan who enthusiastically shared her ideas and aspirations. He was, aside from that, also struck by her pixyish pink beauty. He was a native of Fargo, a millionaire several times over, Alfred Kaufman Stern by name. It was love at first sight, a collision of sex and politics.

Born in 1897, a graduate of Exeter and Harvard, Alfred Stern inherited most of his money from his highly respected banker father in the Middlewest. He himself started out by following in his father’s footsteps and from Harvard went into the banking business in his home town. He added to the family fortune through investments in real estate, public housing becoming his philanthropic hobby.

Stern’s business interests had an enormous range, as had his philanthropies. The former extended from housing developments in Chicago via the General American Tank Corporation to Modern Age Books, Inc., a left-wing publishing firm; while the latter ranged from the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Council to the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

In 1921, he married one of America’s fabulous heiresses — Miss Marion Rosenwald, daughter of the owner of Sears Roebuck & Company of Chicago. They had two children, but the marriage failed to work out. After their divorce, Mrs. Stern married Dr. Max Ascoli, publisher of The Reporter magazine.

Early in the Thirties, when still a young man, Alfred Stern thought he had enough money for the rest of his life, retired from business, and decided to go into public service. He became chairman of the Illinois Housing Commission — but already he was far too radical for his New Deal friends.

He was dabbling in practical politics, too and, although he was a registered Democrat, he gradually drifted to the outskirts of American Communism. It was a strange sideline for a businessman with a lavish country estate in Lewisboro, New York, a big town house in New York City, offices in Rockefeller Center — and literally mil- lions in the bank.

When Alfred Stern bumped into Martha Dodd, she was also on the rebound from a brief and unhappy first marriage. The two hit it off extremely well. On September 4, 1938, they married, thus embarking on a joint trip that was to lead them eventually behind the Iron Curtain.

BECOMES TOP-RANKING SPY Under Martha’s energetic influence, Alfred Stern sank ever deeper into the morass of Communism. He, too, joined those front organizations of which his pretty second wife was a charter member. His house became a breeding ground for Communist propaganda. He became treasurer of the notorious American Labor Party which was itself a front organization of the Soviet Union, headed by Congressman Marcantonio.

But while Alfred Stern confined his activities to such political skullduggeries, Martha Dodd became a spy. By early 1940, Soviet agents in the United States saw no reason to doubt her sincerity and loyalty to the cause. They no longer merely hinted at the work she could do for her beloved Russia. They invited her in so many words to perform certain important espionage functions for the U.S.S.R.

In 1940, several spymasters stationed in the Washington Embassy of the Soviets established direct contact with Martha Dodd Stern and met with her, strangely enough, in two sets of contradictory places. Once in a while they invited her into the inner sanctum of the Embassy; on other occasions they made arrangements for circumspect meetings, in out of the way restaurants and al fresco.

Much of her contact work was done at her husband’s estate in Lewisboro where Martha plotted and conspired against her native country with secret emissaries of the Soviet spy network — Soble, Morros, Zubilin, and others — until she herself became a top-ranking member of the ring.

She had plenty of material at her fingertips to supply, thanks to her husband’s immense wealth, her father’s prestige, and her own standing in society, especially her intimate friendship with powerful and influential people in Washington whose indiscretion is proverbial. She picked up whatever she could from them and relayed it to her couriers and go-betweens, until she came to be regarded inside that secret world as one of the most valuable agents the Soviet’ had in this country.

She even returned to the Soviet Union, allegedly on a harmless visit, but in fact to formalize her association with the Russian spy organizations. She no longer dealt with peripheral persons like the pretty secret agent posing as an Intourist guide. She now conducted her business on the top echelon of the Soviet secret service. Her zeal and sincerity was never doubted, and her ability to acquire important strategic information was admired.

WOMAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY The daughter of an American history professor and New Deal ambassador renounced her country in all but name.

Today, both Martha Dodd and Alfred Stern enjoy the protection of a Soviet satellite government. The chances are they are feted by her Communist bosses who regard them as “American” friends they can really trust, not like Boris Morros, “the slick double-agent,” who worked against the Soviet Union despite the fact that he was born in Russia.

Retribution for Martha Dodd’s hideous crime may be far off. It may never even come. But already today, she is a woman without a country. Some years ago, she wrote: “Before 1933 my life was rooted in America, in her earth and cities, people and attitudes.”

Written some Twenty years ago, these words assume a strange meaning today when that “prodigal and black child” of a celebrated American is scorched before God and country — as a traitor to her native land.

Upon her return from the Soviet Union the following year, when she attached herself body and soul to the aims of Communism, she described herself in a melancholy sentence. She painted a vivid picture of her reception by her parents, at the ramshackle old Silesian railroad station in Berlin, as she stepped from the train. She was a thoroughly changed woman even in appearance. She was wearing a colorful Caucasian cap and tried to look as much as she could like one of those drab, healthy Soviet women she had come to admire so much.

The outward change must have startled her parents, though they knew nothing of the transition within their daughter.

“They hadn’t for a short second,” Martha Dodd remarked, “recognized their prodigal and black child, scorched from the Russian sun, with her brilliant Asiatic cap!”

1 comment
  1. GaryM says: November 23, 20111:54 pm

    Morros didn’t write the music for “March of the Wooden Soliders,” which was a retitling of Victor Herbert’s “Babes in Toyland.” Nor did he write the song “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” a song by Leon Jessel.

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