Margery Booth

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Margery Myers Booth Strohm (1906 – 11 April 1952),[1] also known as Margery Kallus, was an English opera singer, who having married a German and emigrated to Germany, became a British spy during World War II, who met Adolf Hitler and sang at a British prisoner of war camp.[2]

Booth was born in Hodges Street, Wigan, Lancashire, the daughter of Levi and Ada Booth. The family later moved to Southport. Booth trained in Bolton with R. Evans, in Knightsbridge with Eileen D'Orme, and then the Guildhall School of Music, where she won a scholarship in 1925, then the Opera Scholarship and Liza Lehmann Prize.[citation needed] She made her professional debut at the Queen's Hall, Wigan, on 4 October 1935. She then moved back to London to continue her career in Covent Garden London in 1936, but marriage to Dr Egon Strohm, from a brewing family in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), took her to Germany.[2] Booth's career blossomed with performances at Bayreuth and with the Berlin State Opera, but she also made irregular appearances at Covent Garden. She starred as Madalene in 1936, as Flosshilde in Götterdämmerung, as the Shepherd boy in recording of Tosca with Hildegard Ranczak, but was most famous for her portrayal as Carmen.[2]

At the outbreak of World War II the Nazis mistakenly trusted her, sending her to Freigegeben (Open Prison) Stalag III-D, a camp for potential recruits to the British Free Corps. There she worked with British agent and prisoner John Brown to obtain details of traitors.[2] On one occasion she sang before Hitler just after a British officer had hidden secret documents in her dress; Hitler subsequently sent her red roses wrapped in a Swastika flag.[1]

In early 1944, she was arrested by the Gestapo as a suspected spy, and although tortured, did not reveal any information.[3] On release she made her way west, and was liberated in Germany by the advancing US Army.[3]

After the war, information she provided was used to convict both Lord Haw Haw and John Amery, both of whom were hanged for treason.[2] She then returned to London, but was professionally rejected as producers mistakingly concluded that she had been a Nazi, and was offered no work. Emigrating again to New York, on arrival she was referred to a doctor who diagosed her with terminal breast cancer, which claimed her life in New York on Good Friday, 11 April 1952.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Revealed: British opera singer turned spy who performed for Hitler with secret documents hidden in her underwear". Daily Mail. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "WWII knicker spy Margery Booth photos to be auctioned". BBC news. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Margarey Booth". British Gazette. Retrieved 24 June 2013.