The Madam who spied for the Nazis: How ‘ice-cold opportunist’ let the SS plant 48 microphones in her Berlin brothel to eavesdrop on diplomat’s careless pillow talk
- Nazi intelligence officers planted microphones in Madam Kitty Shmidt’s brothel
- Ms Shmidt was born in Hamburg in 1882 and worked as a governess in Wales
- She later moved to Berlin and was in her late 50s when SS officers took over
- They sat in the cellar and listened to diplomats’ conversations with sex workers
The story of an ‘ice-cold opportunist’ who ran a brothel in Berlin during the second world war has been told in a book set to be released next week.
Kitty Shmidt allowed 48 microphones to be placed in lampshades, under tables and behind paintings in her nine-bedroom brothel in the upmarket district of Charlottenburg from 1939 until around 1943.
Nazi SS officers listened to customers’ pillowtalk in the cellar of the building as part of attempts to glean secrets from diplomats and rival members of the party, reported The Times.
Kitty Shmidt (pictured) allowed 48 microphones to be placed in lampshades, under tables and behind paintings in her nine-bedroom brothel in the upmarket district of Charlottenburg from 1939 until around 1943
Wieland Griebel, who decided to publish the book within minutes of reading it, said: ‘I see her as an ice-cold opportunist’, though Ms Shmidth’s contemporaries described her as ‘motherly’ and ‘charming’.
The madam was born in Hamburg in 1882 and worked as a governess in Wales before moving to Berlin.
Kitty’s Salon, opened in 1939, was her third brothel. It had a grand piano, crystal chandeliers and its customers were served champagne.
Kitty’s Salon (pictured), opened in 1939, was her third brothel. It had a grand piano, crystal chandeliers and its customers were served champagne
The madam (pictured) was born in Hamburg in 1882 and worked as a governess in Wales before moving to Berlin
Visitors included Joachim von Ribbentrop, the foreign minister, and Galeazzo Ciano, his Italian counterpart and the son-in-law of Benito Mussolini.
The idea for the brothel’s surveillance system came from Reinhard Heydrick, Adolf Hitler’s head of security.
He wanted to listen in for any information he could use to blackmail others, but the book’s writers think it may have been more about ‘voyeurism’ and ‘power obsession’.
The book, written by Urs Brunner and Julia Schrammel, revealed Heydrick himself was once recorded – despite strict instructions to turn off the microphones.
Alfred Navjocks, the intellegence officer at fault, was posted to the Russian front within a few months.
But Brunner did not think the microphones ever provided any really helpful information. He said: ‘To our knowledge it never supplied really valuable material.
‘The true motivation was in all probability a mixture of voyeurism and power obsession.’
Twenty women were specially chosen to work at the salon – and all had to be loyal to the Nazi regime.
Ms Shmidt continued to run the salon until her death in 1954, aged 71, and once told a journalist: ‘We could write a book. We wouldn’t even have to print it. It would earn more money unpublished’.