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About this Famous Person

Marthe RICHARD

French Marthe RICHARD

born Marthe BETENFELD

Prostitute and spy

Source :  Jean Louis STRAUSS

Born: on April 15, 1889 in Blamont, France
Died: on February 09, 1982 in Paris, France


Biography

In Nancy, Marthe Richard became an apprentice to a tailor at fourteen, but later was registered as a prostitute in 1905. After a soldier accused her of giving him syphilis, she was forced to leave for Paris, where she met and later wed Henry Richer in 1907. He was a rich industrialist who worked at Les Halles.

In 1914, she participated in the founding of L'Union patriotique des aviatrices françaises ("Patriotic Union of French Women Aviators") and her husband died in World War I in 1916. She became a spy under Captain Ladoux thanks to her lover, a young Russian anarchist. As part of her duties, she became the mistress of Von Krohn, the head of the German Navy in Madrid. On their return to France, she discovered that Captain Ladoux was a double agent and he was placed under arrest.

She married Thomas Crompton in 1926. He was the financial director for the Rockefeller Foundation and patron of the restoration of the Petit Trianon. When he died unexpectedly in 1928 in Genève, she moved to Bougival and lived very well.

After being released from prison and restored to the post of commander, Captain Ladoux published his fictionalized Memoires in 1930. The volume about Richard, Marthe Richard, spy in the French service, was mostly an invention. She claimed half of the vast royalties and accepted the advice to write her own memoirs. Under the pseudonym of Richard she published the best seller, My life as a spy in the French service (adapted as a film in 1937) and instantly became a heroine of France. Under media pressure, her lover Édouard Herriot, French Prime Minister at the time, gave the widowed Mme Crompton the Légion d'honneur for Foreign Affairs.

During World War II, her courage was admired in France and she was hated in Germany. She got close to certain members of the Gestapo, including François Spirito.

She later became a politician and worked towards the closing of brothels in France in 1946.

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