Viola Herms Drath

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Viola Herms Drath
Born Viola Herms
February 8, 1920
Düsseldorf, Germany
Died (aged 91)
Washington, DC
Cause of death Homicide
Body discovered In her Q street home
Nationality German-American
Education M.A. in Philosophy and Germanic Literature
Alma mater University of Nebraska
Occupation Journalist, writer
Known for Authored eight textbooks read in over 150 colleges and universities
Spouse(s) Col. Francis S. Drath (first husband)
Albrecht Gero Muth (second husband)
Children Connie Dwyer (born 1948), Francesca L. Drath (youngest daughter)
Awards William J. Flynn Initiative for Peace Award from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (2005)

Viola Herms Drath (1920–2011) was a Washington, DC socialite, a "notable figure in German-American relations for over thirty years". She died at age 91 by murder at the hands of her second husband.[1]

Early life[edit]

Drath was born in Düsseldorf, Germany on February 8, 1920.[1] She is reported to have learned English from vacations and boarding school in Scotland. During her time in Munich, Drath met Lt. Col. Francis S. Drath, who, at the time was the deputy military governor of Bavaria and would later become her first husband, on Lake Constance in Switzerland.[1] Later, she moved to the United States, with her first husband.

Career[edit]

In 1946 in Germany, she was a playwright, with one of her early productions, Farewell Isabell,[2] staged in Straubing's Municipal Theater[3] and in Munich.

During the post World War II period, Drath was a German interpreter in Munich.

After moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, with her first husband, she attended the University of Nebraska where she studied for an advanced degree in literature and philosophy. While in Nebraska, she was an editor of Die Weltpost in Omaha, commentator for KUON-TV, and correspondent for the National Observer. Later she was an American correspondent for the German magazine, Madame.

From 1968, Drath was political correspondent for the German newspaper Handelsblatt.[4] During this time, Drath and her first husband moved to Washington, DC, where Col. Drath was a legislative liaison with the Selective Service. They bought a house at 3206 Q Street, Northwest, in the Georgetown district in northwest Washington, D.C.[1]

Sonia Adler hired Drath to write for the Washington Dossier,[1] where she wrote about "political gossip, lifestyle advice, and culture, explored a diverse cross-section of the city’s fine-art world.[5]

As a member of the Executive Committee of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, she was described as a "notable figure in German-American relations for over thirty years." One of her articles, published in 1988, for the National Committee, The Reemergence of the German Question proposed negotiations on German unification between the two German states and the four Allied Powers.

Drath was a foreign policy adviser during the 1988 Bush campaign, where she helped "lay the groundwork which led to the "2+4" process towards German unification in 1990". In 1989, Drath met with President George H.W. Bush.

During her life, she authored eight textbooks read in over 150 colleges and universities. She taught at American University and lectured at the University of Southern California. Her articles and commentaries were published in American Foreign Policy Interests, Washington Times, Commentary, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, Strategic Review, National Observer, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Das Parlament, and Der Spiegel.

Social activities[edit]

During her life, she was member of the White House Commission on Remembrance, co-chair of the Berlin Air Lift Diamond Jubilee Committee, coordinator, International Consultative Mechanism on Remembrance, and National Coordinator, National Observance to Mark Iraq Liberation Day.

Diplomatic activities[edit]

During the course of Drath's life, she was:

  • Advisor and member of the Delegation of the Republic of Cyprus to the First Committee, 51st United Nations General Assembly,
  • Advisor, Member of the Delegation of the Republic of Cyprus to the 2001 UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All Its Aspects,
  • Advisor, Member of the Delegation of the Republic of Cyprus to the 2006 Conference to Review Implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action to Eradicate the Illicit Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All Its Aspects,
  • Observer, Bamako Convocation of the Eminent Persons Group in Bamako, Mali,
  • Special Advisor, Delegation of the United States to the 17th Organization of America States General Assembly,
  • Observer, 4th United Nations Meeting of the International Commission on Verification and Security, and
  • Observer, Esquipulas II.

Murder[edit]

Drath's first husband, Col. Drath, died January 11, 1986. In the early 1980s, Viola met Albrecht Gero Muth, 44 years her junior, who was then an unpaid intern from Germany.[1]

Four years after the death of her husband, Drath, then 70 years old, married the 26-year-old Muth.[6] The April 1990 marriage was performed by a Virginia Supreme Court judge.[6]

After their marriage, Muth fabricated a story that an elderly German Count had fallen from an elephant in India and needed to appoint a successor before dying—from that point forward, Muth insisted on being called Count Albrecht.[6] Following the 2003 completion of the Iraq War, Muth suddenly adopted the rank, and wore the uniform, of a Brigadier General in the Iraqi Army, organizing diplomatic events in DC that he claimed were for the new Iraqi regime.[1] In April 2011, Muth somehow arranged a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honour fallen American soldiers in Iraq, supposedly on behalf of the Iraqi regime.

Early in the marriage, Muth started a pattern of domestic violence against Drath, inducing repeated police visits to the Q Street home.[1] In August 11, 2011, Drath was found dead in the bathroom of her Q Street home.[4] Muth was later convicted of murdering her."[6]

Cultural legacy[edit]

Warren Adler, author, acknowledged Drath in his novel, The War of the Roses.[3]

In 2015, it was announced that Christoph Waltz will direct and star in the movie The Worst Marriage in Georgetown, which is based on the true crime story of the murder of Viola Drath.[7]

Awards[edit]

  • William J. Flynn Initiative for Peace Award from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (2005) for promoting German reunification
  • Recipient of the Iraqi Minister of Defense Commendation Medal
  • Honorary Member, Berlin Air Lift Veterans Association
  • ranking among the 700 Great Nebraskans
  • inducted into Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame
  • Honorable Mention for Writing by the Association of American University Women
  • Honorary Citizen of Dallas, Texas

Bibliography[edit]

  • A Thoroughly Muddled Marriage: Report of an Inmate, an unpublished and previously undisclosed memoir[5]
  • The German State in Historical Perspective, Germany in World Politics by Viola Herms Drath (ed.), New York, 1979
  • Willy Brandt: Prisoner Of His Past by Viola Helms Drath (which Dr. Henry A. Kissinger said[3] was “a must read for those interested in fully appreciating an important statesman both within his own times and beyond.”)
  • Farewell Isabell, a comedy play
  • No Reliance upon a Woman?, a comedy play
  • Toward a New Atlanticism, (article in the Washington Times)
  • Time to Reinvent the Alliance, (article in the Washington Times)
  • Engagement and Provocation, (published by Macmillan)
  • What do the Germans Want?, (published by Macmillan)
  • Reporter in Deutschland, a reader for beginners[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h White, Josh (January 1, 2012). "Viola Drath: A remarkable life hijacked". Washington Post. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Location of copy of Farewell Isabell". WorldCat. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Arellano, Megan (August 25, 2011). "Viola Drath's Cultural Legacy: A Look at the Works of a Murdered D.C. Writer". Washington City Paper. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Weber, Joseph (August 14, 2011). "D.C. police rule death of former Washington Times columnist a homicide". Washington Times. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Arellano, Megan (25 August 2011). "Viola Drath’s Cultural Legacy: A Look at the Works of a Murdered D.C. Writer". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Alexander, Keith L. (January 16, 2014). "Muth found guilty of murder in killing of socialite wife". Washington Post. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  7. ^ Andrews, Helena (May 6, 2015). "Actor Christoph Waltz will direct and star in 'The Worst Marriage in Georgetown'". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 7, 2015. 
  8. ^ "bib item 1". WorldCat. Retrieved January 16, 2014.