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Gestapo Chief Thrilled U.S. Ambassador’s Daughter: Lewis Lapham

When Martha Dodd met Rudolf Diels in Hitler’s Berlin, she was immediately smitten by the “cruel, broken beauty” of the Gestapo chief.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

Dodd liked calling him “dearie” in public and got a special thrill from the fact that everyone else was terrified at the sight of him.

Not politically biased, she also bedded Boris Winogradov, a spy for the NKVD, the Soviet secret police.

A flirtatious, lively blonde, Dodd was 24 years old when her scholarly father, William Dodd, was appointed America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. Quickly dumping her banker husband, she packed her bags and became an eyewitness to the early days of the Third Reich.

Dodd launched herself into diplomatic life with alacrity, and had affairs with everyone from Hitler’s close confidante Putzi Hanfstaengl to flying ace Ernst Udet, who took her falcon hunting with Hermann Goring. Other conquests included novelist Thomas Wolfe and Max Delbruck, a biophysicist who won the Nobel Prize.

More importantly, she made sure her father’s diaries saw the light of day.

I spoke with Erik Larson, author of “In the Garden of the Beasts,” on the following topics:

1. Ambassador Dodd

2. Diplomatic Circles

Source: Crown Publishing via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson. Close

The cover jacket of "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in... Read More

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Source: Crown Publishing via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" by Erik Larson.

3. Sex and Torture

4. Warnings Ignored

5. Night of the Long Knives

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at lhl@laphamsquarterly.org.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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