This is the sixth report and covers Salon Kitty- Heydrich´s Bordel.
Salon Kitty was a high-class brothel used by diplomats in the 1930s. Reinhard Heydrich decided to use it for espionage work and Walter Schellenberg of the SS went to work converting the basement into a "workshop" where five operators could make transcriptions of conversations from the diplomats love-making.
Salon Kitty can still be found at number 11 Giesebrecht Strasse.
Dozens of Berlin´s prostitutes were arrested by the Sittenpolizei (Vice Squad) and the best 20 were selected to work at Salon Kitty. The prostitutes worked as SD agents and were trained to recognise military uniforms and how to glean secrets from clients. Although the prostitutes were not informed about the microphones, they were expected to make a full report after each visitor had left the establishment.
It should be noted that the original Salon Kitty girls knew nothing of the whole operation and continued working as before. However the 20 girls working for the SD only received clients who had been given the codeword phrase "I come from Rothenburg".
Various diplomats and military leaders passed through Salon Kitty during the SD operations. Count Ciano from Italy was always useful for information about Italy´s war efforts and for what the Italians thought about Hitler. In fact the SD operations only came to an end in September 1943 when the Italians surrendered to the Allies, there were then no major diplomats available to make continued espionage operations worthwhile. Other guests included Sepp Dietrich and Josef Goebbels.
Reinhard Heydrich also paid visits, but he knew about the microphones in the rooms and the operators in the basement.
A British agent called Roger Wilson who pretended to be on the staff of the Romanian diplomatic corps and went under the name of Ljubo Kolchev, noticed the wires and tapped the microphones. He passed on information to British Intelligence before being captured.
In July 1942 an Allied air raid destroyed the upper levels and the brothel was on the ground floor only. A year later and the SD handed the brothel back to Kitty Schmidt. Kitty promised to keep quiet about the espionage operations, a promise she kept until the day she died in 1954. The girls who had been SD agents, stayed on after the war.
There has been several books on the topic published recently. Although one or two films made on the subject do not tend to relate to closely to the known facts and concentrate more on the sexual side of the story.
Kitty Schmidt with her daughter. The salon served three generations of Schmidts until it closed about 1992. One wonders if the present day occupants really know what went on there in the past?