Ellen Rometsch

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Ellen Rometsch (born September 19, 1936 in Kleinitz, Germany) was rumored to be an East German Communist spy who was assigned on diplomatic cover to the West German embassy in Washington, D.C. during the early 1960s. She had fled East Germany with her parents in 1955. She married German air force sergeant Rolf Rometsch, who was stationed at the West German embassy.[1] She is also widely thought in some Washington journalism circles to have been one of President John F. Kennedy's girlfriends during the height of the Cold War. However, the FBI never turned up "any solid evidence" that Rometsch was a spy or that she had relations with President Kennedy.[2]

Rometsch was expelled from the U.S. August 21, 1963 "because of her behavior in Washington", behavior which threatened to have scandalous overtones reminiscent of the Profumo Affair in England.[3] Rometsch had been known to visit the Quorum Club located in the Carroll Arms Hotel adjacent a Senate office building. It was a private club requiring annual membership dues and was used by lawmakers and other influential men to meet for food, drink, and ladies away from the press that were constantly downstairs at the bar in the hotel lobby.[4] Rometsch had apparently disclosed details of her illicit relations with highly placed government officials that she had met at the club, to a former FBI informant of questionable reliability. Because she had been born in East Germany and was rumored to have once worked for Walter Ulbricht the FBI decided to investigate her.[5] Attorney General Robert Kennedy was informed of the planned investigation on July 3, 1963. On July 12, 1963 Rometsch was interviewed by the FBI and it was concluded that the security allegations against her were not warranted and the high-level sex contacts were unsubstantiated.[6] However, due to the sensation that the Profumo Affair had created in the press and because the US State Department could not remove Rometsch without disclosing a specific reason to the West German authorities, it was decided that the information developed by the FBI would be transmitted via liaison to the State Department and then be made available discreetly to West German authorities.[7] On August 14, 1963 Sgt. Rometsch was informed by his superiors of the allegations being made against his wife and that he was therefore being recalled back to West Germany in one week.[8] The couple divorced on Sept. 27, 1963.[8]

The allegations involving Rometsch and her subsequent removal from the U.S., were brought to the public's attention through a front page article written by Clark R. Mollenhoff in the October 26, 1963 issue of the Des Moines Register.[9] Mollenhoff said her circle included "several congressional figures" and "several high executive branch officials" and "moved in a crowd that included some well-known New Frontier figures."[9] And that she led a life that "could not be financed on the pay of a non commissioned West German soldier."[10] A few days later Clark Mollenhoff asked President Kennedy at a live televised press conference if he is fulfilling the requirements of his Code of Ethics. In his response Kennedy seemed to make a veiled reference to the Rometsch story Mollenhoff had just written by saying, "I have always believed that innuendoes should be justified before they are made, either by me and the Congress, or even in the press."[11] Years later however, Bobby Baker seemed to have corroborated some of the claims made by Mollenoff by confirming that he was the one who introduced Ellen Rometsch to one of President Kennedy's closest friends, Bill Thompson[12] while they were at the Quorum Club. Thompson allegedly asked if Rometsch could accompany him for dinner at the White House and Baker arranged for Rometsch to be taken to Bill Thompson's apartment where they drove to the White House together to have dinner with the President "on many occasions".[13]

Rometsch was an alleged call girl, which she denied, and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if she had been working as an East German spy.[14] Although FBI director J. Edgar Hoover met privately with Senators' Mike Mansfield and Everett Dirksen telling them there was "no evidence" that Rometsch was a spy, he then proceeded to tell them details about the senators who had been "entertained" by Quorum Club girls.[15]

Robert Kennedy desired to squelch any press reports of his brother's alleged involvement with Rometsch, which led him to seek Hoover's help in discouraging any mention of the Rometsch "allegations" in the Senate investigation of Bobby Baker, who held the post of Senate Secretary for the Majority until he resigned on October 7, 1963.[16][17] According to biographer Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy had Rometsch deported to cover-up an alleged extramarital affair John Kennedy had with her.[14] Rometsch denied the sexual and spying allegations.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas, Evan (2000). Robert Kennedy: His Life. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. p. 255.
  2. ^ Thomas, Evan (2000). Robert Kennedy: His Life. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 255–256.
  3. ^ Reuters, U.S. 'Profumo' Scandal About to Break", Toledo Blade, October 27, 1963
  4. ^ Baker, Robert G. (June 1, 2009). "In the Cloakroom and on the Floor, Interview #1 p.110" (Interview). Interviewed by Donald Ritchie. United States Senate: Senate Historical Office.
  5. ^ Courtney A. Evans memo to Alan Belmont FBI File 105-122316 Vol.1 Subject: Ellen Rometsch (July 3, 1963). Rometsch Internal Security-East Germany (Report). FBI. p. 2 of 478.
  6. ^ W.R. Wannall FBI File 105-122316 Vol.1 Subject: Ellen Rometsch (July 12, 1963). Rometsch Internal Security-East Germany (Report). FBI. p. 5 of 478.
  7. ^ W.R. Wannall FBI File 105-122316 Vol.1 Subject: Ellen Rometsch (July 31, 1963). Rometsch Internal Security-East Germany (Report). FBI. p. 51 of 478.
  8. ^ a b Braley, Russ (October 29, 1963). "Ousted Model Is Protected By Armed Man". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  9. ^ a b Mollenhoff, Clark (October 26, 1963). "U.S. EXPELS GIRL LINKED TO OFFICIALS, is sent to Germany after FBI probe". Des Moines Register. Des Moines Register and Tribune Co. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  10. ^ Clark R. Mollenhoff, quoted in United Press, "Paper Says Senate Inquiry to be in Secret", Toledo Blade, October 27, 1963
  11. ^ Kennedy, John (October 31, 1963). "News Conference 63" (Interview). Interviewed by President Kennedy's News Conferences. State Department Auditorium: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  12. ^ Smathers, George A. (September 5, 1989). "Oral History Interviews; Interview #4: Kennedy and Johnson" (PDF) (Interview). Interviewed by Donald A. Ritchie. Washington D.C.: United States Senate: Senate Historical Office.
  13. ^ Baker, Robert G. (June 1, 2009). "In the Cloakroom and on the Floor, Interview #1 p.110" (Interview). Interviewed by Donald Ritchie. United States Senate: Senate Historical Office.
  14. ^ a b c Thomas, Evan (June 2, 2017). "We may owe our lives to a back channel with Russia". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
  15. ^ Thomas, Evan (2000). Robert Kennedy: His Life. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 255, 256, 263, 268.
  16. ^ Thomas, Evan (2000). Robert Kennedy: His Life. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 263, 268. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  17. ^ "Investigations: Bobby's High Life". Time Magazine. Vol. 82 no. 19. Time Inc. November 8, 1963.

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