Marion Hedda Ilse, Countess von Dönhoff, was born the daughter of an old East Prussian landowning family. Her father was a diplomat. Marion studied economics at the University of Frankfurt, where some are said to have called her the "red countess" for her opposition to the growing Nazi movement. She left Germany soon after the Nazis took power in 1933, moving to Switzerland, where she earned her doctorate at the University of Basel. In 1938, she returned home to help administer the family estates and joined the German resistance movement. Although arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 following a failed assassination attempt on Hitler, she was released. In January 1945, as Soviet troops moved into Germany, her family home at Schloss Friedrichstein was destroyed, and Dr. Dönhoff fled westward, travelling seven weeks on horseback before reaching Hamburg. She recounted her grueling journey in a book of essays published in 1962. In 1946, Dr. Dönhoff joined the fledgling liberal weekly newspaper Die Zeit as political editor. She was later promoted to editor-in-chief and then publisher. Dr. Dönhoff never married. She was considered an architect of postwar German journalism. Dr. Dönhoff became one of the most prominent political analysts and cultural historians of the 20th century and wrote more than 20 books.