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Bella Fromm (1890–1972)

Author of Blood and Banquets: A Berlin Social Diary

Includes the names: Bela Fromm

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Bella Fromm was born in Nuremberg to a prosperous, assimilated German Jewish family. Her father died when she was a child. In 1911, she married Max Israel, a businessman with whom she had a daughter. The couple later divorced. After her mother’s death in 1918, she inherited the family fortune and devoted her time to social work. She lost her wealth during the financial crisis of 1923 and went to work for the Ullstein newspapers, including the Berliner Zeitung. After starting off writing about traditionally female subjects such as fashion and social gossip, she soon graduated to reporting on politics and diplomacy. She became a well-known figure in Weimar Berlin high society, getting to know diplomats, statesmen, editors, and foreign correspondents. By her own account, she met Hitler, Göring, Hess and Goebbels several times at diplomatic events. However, as a Jew and an outspoken liberal, she was in danger after the Nazi regime came to power in 1933. She sent her daughter to the USA the following year. She was no longer able to write under her own name, but her journalism continued to appear anonymously. She returned to the family wine trade to make a living, relying on her contacts with foreign embassies and wealthy Berliners. In 1938, after Jews were excluded from German businesses, she emigrated to the USA, settling in New York City. There she worked as a typist and secretary, and married her third husband, Peter Wolff. With the entry of the USA into World War II, she published Blood and Banquets: A Berlin Social Diary (1943), which contained colorful accounts of people and events in her life in Berlin in the 1920s and '30s. In 1961, she published a novel based on her experiences in exile, Die Engel weinen (The Angels Cry). Blood and Banquets was translated into German and published in 1993 under the title Als Hitler mir die Hand küsste (When Hitler Kissed My Hand).
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