Bloomberg News

Hitler’s Blue Eyes Charmed American Blonde: Lewis Lapham

March 24, 2012

The book jacket of “Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power'' by Andrew Nagorski. Source: Simon and Schuster via Bloomberg

The book jacket of “Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power'' by Andrew Nagorski. Source: Simon and Schuster via Bloomberg

Blond, petite and pretty, Martha Dodd was the daughter of the American ambassador to Germany during the rise of the Nazis. One of Hitler’s aides thought she’d make a good girlfriend for the Fuhrer.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

Ernst Hanfstaengl, head of Germany’s foreign press bureau in Berlin, set up the date. They went for tea at Hitler’s favorite hotel, the Kaiserhof, where, surrounded by bodyguards, the Fuhrer sat down at a table nearby.

When Martha was summoned for her meeting, Hitler rose and kissed her hand, murmuring something in German, which she failed to catch. She was captivated by his “startling and unforgettable” eyes, which she recalled were “pale blue in color” and “intense, unwavering, hypnotic.”

After she returned to her table, Hitler sent “curious, embarrassed stares” in her direction, but nothing more came of the encounter. Shrugging off any lingering disappointment, Martha had affairs with lots of Nazis, including Gestapo chief Rudolf Diels.

I spoke with Andrew Nagorski, author of “Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power,” on the following topics:

1. Americans in Germany

2. Excitement of Berlin

3. Early Alarms

4. Journalist Coverage

5. Red Flag Warnings

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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