Women Spies in the World Wars: Marika Rokk

In my research for At the Table of Wolves, I found a number of fascinating stories of women who played important roles in the world of espionage. This is one of them.

Marika Rokk

Said to be one of Hitler’s favorite actresses, Marika Rokk is likely to have had a secret life working against the Nazis for the Russians.

Born in Cairo to Hungarian parents and raised in Budapest, Marika Rokk got her start in show business in Paris, performing in the Moulin Rouge cabaret.

She was in the right place at the right time in 1935 when Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, decided that Germany needed its own film star who could help showcase German films and engage in the culture wars with Britain and particularly the US with its superstars like Ginger Rodgers and Rita Hayworth. Rokk was relatively well-known dancer in various European revues and was tapped by Goebbels to be a Nazi film star. Subsequently, the two had an affair, but it is believed that by 1940 she had been recruited by the KGB.

These tantalizing details were recently declassified by the German intelligence service.

One of the operations she may have worked on was the planned German invasion of the Soviet Union, code named Operation Barbarossa.

After the war she was barred from the stage for two years, but was finally rehabilitated and was able to continue her film career in West Germany. She never wrote about her espionage career nor spoke of it publicly. She died in 2004 in Austria at the age of 90.

More information in this early 2017 article in the Guardian.


2 Responses

  1. Phil van L. says:

    These stories of ostensibly unlikely spies during wartime always seem to enhance the reputation of the individual by lending an air of romanticism and mystery after the fact. It begs the question as to how someone out of the military and diplomatic loop could come to know military “secrets” and beyond that, how they could transmit them to the other side. Since Mata Hari and Nora Eldok there always seem like there are others waiting in the wings for their moment of similar fame after the fact.

  2. Kay says:

    Phil, most women spies went to their graves without fame or any recognition whatsoever outside their agencies. And sometimes not even then. If citizen sleuths strain belief, I can’t prove their credentials, but diplomats and military officers are surely not always discreet nor in possession of flawless security. You may find more interesting and credible the other entries in this blog series.

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