Sigrid Lillian Schultz

During the early days of radio and even somewhat within the print media, women reporters were a rarity. Reporting was usually identified as a man's role, which was the common attitude of the times.

Sigrid Schultz

Within the broadcast field, several women were heard regularly as events began to take shape in Europe in the thirties. One who was primarily a print journalist and secondly a broadcast reporter was Sigrid Schultz.

Within the broadcast field, several women were heard regularly as events began to take shape in Europe in the thirties. One who was primarily a print journalist and secondly a broadcast reporter was Sigrid Schultz.

Schultz was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 5, 1893 of Norwegian parents. Her father was a prominent painter who studied at the French Academie and who came to the United States to paint during the Chicago World's Fair. The family settled in Chicago during this time and Sigrid grew up in a tri-lingual environment (English, German, and French) among the artists, politicians and musicians who frequented the Schultz home. In an interview in 1977, Ms. Schultz explained that her name was one adopted by her great grandfather and that her ancestry is actually Norwegian and her German ancestry is very, very small.1

When Sigrid was eight years old, her family returned to Europe when her father got a commission to paint the king and queen of W├╝rtemberg. Instead of returning home, the family settled in Paris and Sigrid was educated at the Lycee and then studied international law at the Sorbonne. Her father continued to get portrait requests from Germany through his studio in France. Sigrid began her career by teaching French and English to German Jews. While in Germany with her mother, she contracted what was believed to be tuberculosis and was forced to remain in Germany during World War I.

As the correspondents began arriving in Germany at war's end (1919), one reporter, Richard Henry Little of the Chicago Tribune needed a reliable person who could speak German and English. Sigrid applied and was hired because, she says, Colonel Robert R. McCormack, owner of the Tribune, wanted someone to explain the full details of the Battle of Jutland because McCormick thought the British claim of victory was false. He couldn't get it from the Germans because they had lost the war and didn't really want to speak of the battles, but Schultz was there to help. Because of her efforts, she eventually became the Tribune's chief for Central Europe in 1926.Sigrid Schultz with U.S. Ambassador Dodd and Joseph Goebbels.

Sensing that Germany was moving toward National Socialism because of backing by the German industrialists, Schultz wanted to speak to someone connected with the Nazi's who had "the kind of table manners [one could] invite to lunch." The man who showed up was "Captain" Herman Goering, a World War I ace pilot. Through the luncheon interview they became acquaintances. This connection helped Schultz tremendously in her reporting as the National Socialists rose to power. This connection gave Schultz direct access to most of the leaders of Nazi Germany as the continent moved toward war.

Broadcast News Commentator

It was during this period, 1930-1941 that Schultz reported both for the Chicago Tribune, but also occasionally for the Mutual Broadcasting Network beginning in 1938. When Germany, England, Italy and France were discussing the fate of Czechoslovakia's Sudentenland area in what was later called the "Munich Conference," she broadcast an opinion piece on the Conference [Click for Sound]. Three days before Hitler would invade Poland in September 1939, Schultz offered an insightful look [Click for Sound] at Germany and current events. It was Schultz who roused William Shirer out of bed at 6:00 AM on the morning of the 1st of September, 1939 telling him that war had begun.

It was Shirer, along with Schultz and Wally Deuel of the Chicago Daily News who were among the leading spirits who detested the Nazi's and what they stood for. This was evident in their reporting. Because of her close contact with the German leaders, Schultz could not report what she knew without fear of being ejected from the country. And so a series of articles which appeared in the Tribune began under the pseudonym of John Dickson. To file these reports, Schultz would travel to Switzerland and phone in the reports, then return to Germany. It was Schultz, under this pseudonym who predicted the Nazi-Soviet pact.

While traveling in Spain she developed typhus and returned to the United States in March, 1941. What was supposedly a short leave developed into a three year recovery from the disease. During this time she wrote a book about the Nazis titled Germany Will Try It Again. In January, 1945 she returned to Germany for the Tribune and the Mutual Broadcasting System. Sigrid landed in Normandy with the United States Army, and reported the liberation of France and the conquest of Germany. She was one of the first journalists to visit Buchenwald and covered the Nuremberg trials. After the war, she continued her reporting writing several books along the way. She died on May 14, 1980.