Sigrid Schultz Papers, 1835-1980


Sigrid Lillian Schultz was born on January 15, 1893 in Chicago, where her Norwegian-born father, the artist Hermann Schultz, had come to paint during the Chicago World's Fair. Her mother, Hedwig Jaskewitz, was eleven years her husband's junior. Born in Wiesbaden, she had once been among his portrait sitters as he traveled throughout the European continent. After Sigrid's birth, the Schultzes settled in the northern Chicago neighborhood of Summerdale. There Sigrid grew up in a tri-lingual environment (English, German, and French) among the artists, politicians, musicians, and others who frequented the Schultz home.

In 1901 the family sailed for Europe. Although they settled in Paris, Mr. Schultz resumed his artistic travels throughout Europe and the Middle East, painting royalty and commoners. In 1911 Sigrid graduated from the Lycée Racine in Paris; three years later she received a diploma from the Sorbonne. Often during these years she battled ill health in Switzerland.

In 1914 mother and daughter journeyed to Hermann Schultz's Berlin studio; but when war was declared they were unable to flee due to his ill health. Instead, the family spent the war years in Berlin as virtual prisoners, reporting twice a day to the police. During this time, Sigrid worked as a French and English language tutor. In 1917 she worked for the mayor of Baghdad (who was also stranded in Berlin), attended courses in international law at Berlin University, and translated her course notes for him into French.

Through friends in 1919 she was introduced to Richard Henry Little of the Chicago Tribune, and she immediately became his assistant and interpreter. Her natural inquisitiveness, familiarity with German society, and talent for language enabled Sigrid to develop into an excellent newspaperwoman. In 1926 Sigrid was appointed the Tribune's correspondent-in-chief for Central Europe; no other woman journalist in Europe at that time held such an important position. From this vantage point, she was able to witness the rise of the Nazi Party. In 1930 she was befriended by Hermann Goering, who for many years thereafter attended her dinner parties and proved to be a great source for her “scoops.” In 1932 Sigrid met Adolf Hitler for the first time.

Hedwig, who became a widow in 1924, remained with Sigrid in Berlin until 1936, when the two sailed to the United States. Sigrid then purchased a house in Westport, Connecticut, for her mother and returned to Berlin. Because of her anti-Nazi stance, she came under continual observation by the Gestapo. Often she was forced to travel out of Germany to file news reports; many of those stories appeared under her pseudonym, John Dickson.

During the Munich Conference of 1938, Sigrid added broadcasting to her regular news assignments. As a radio correspondent for the Mutual Broadcasting Company until 1941, she risked her life during the bombing of Berlin to provide on-the-spot coverage. In 1940 she suffered a shrapnel injury which was to trouble her for the rest of her life. Sigrid left Germany in February 1941 for what she expected would be a brief vacation. Instead, she became very ill and went to Westport to recuperate.

During the war, Sigrid lectured throughout the United States on the horrors of Nazi Germany. In 1944 she authored Germany Will Try It Again, warning the Allies not to allow Germany to rearm. Later that same year she returned to Europe as a war correspondent for McCall's and the Tribune. While covering the advance of the First and Third armies, Sigrid was among the first to enter Buchenwald concentration camp. After her return to Westport in 1945, she began work on several books on post-war Germany, none of which were published.

Although she made another trip to Germany in 1952-1953 as a correspondent, Sigrid spent most of the post-war years working on scores of unpublished articles, manuscripts, and memoirs. After her mother's death in 1960, Schultz became involved with the Overseas Press Club, and she served as editor of the Cookbook, headed the Insurance Committee, served on numerous awards committees, and contributed to two additional publications, I Can Tell It Now (1964) and Newsbreak (1974). Although suffering from arthritis and heart problems, in her later years she maintained an avid correspondence with friends such as the Wallace Deuels and Bella Fromm Wells. She died on May 14, 1980, still at work on her autobiography.