Archive: April2016

Margery Booth – Soprano turned WWII Allied Spy

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Margery Booth – 1905 – 1952
Ms. Booth was born in England in the midst of the Edwardian Era. At the time of her birth, most women still worked domestically inside the home, and it would be more than a decade and a half before British women gained the right to vote. By the time, she was of age, the world had changed drastically. With the first World War behind them, the roles of women had changed, allowing them to work outside the home and achieve dreams not previously available. Maximizing these new opportunities in education and the career possibilities her schooling afforded, Margery became not only well educated but trained extensively as a Mezzo Soprano, earning her two scholarships in the process. She debuted October 4, 1935, on the stage at Queens Hall, Wiggins, though continued her career at the famed Covent Gardens in London. A year later, Ms. Booth married a German doctor, and as the political turmoil on the European Continent moved toward, yet another war, Margery, and her new husband relocated from London to Germany.
There her career flourished as she became a principle performer at Bayreuth and also with the Berlin State Opera. Her audience and fame grew to encompass not only the Nazi party but Hitler himself. His adoration for the soprano became so great that he frequently sent her roses and even asked her to sing at a British Prisoner of War camp. There, the Nazi’s hoped she would help them recruit British prisoners as double agent spies. For reasons of her own knowing, she did perform at the camp, though instead of converting her compatriots to enemies, made the acquaintance of John Brown, a British P.O.W. acting as double agent, yet working undercover for the British Military Intelligence Unit MI9.
The two became close confidants, and using her ability to move freely around a continent immobilized by war, became a courier for Brown, frequently collecting secret documents from him which she would then smuggle out beneath her gowns. Once free, she would pass the documents to MI9 agents.
After years of working as an Allied Spy, she was arrested by the Gestapo and tortured for information, though with no proof of her guilt, she was eventually released. In the military trials that occurred after the war, much of the information Margery risked her life to gather and pass, was used to convict British traitors. Despite all she did for her nation, however, she was unable to find work as many thought her a Nazi collaborator. Deciding to start anew, she moved to New York, where after seeking the assistance of a medical doctor, she was found to have terminal cancer. After a life on the stage and in the shadows, she died of her illness in obscurity in New York. It is unknown whether she had descendants but the story of her bravery lives on.

 

#WWII #Margerybooth #Opera

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