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Regina Diana (Hardback)

Seductress, Singer, Spy

WWI More History Social History Women of History Biographies

By Vivien Newman, David Alexander Scott Semeraro
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 174
ISBN: 9781473861503
Published: 17th October 2017

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The Untold Story of Régina Diana tells of the rebellious daughter of working-class French-Italian parents from a run-down area of Geneva who, trained by the most ruthless spymaster of them all, Elisabeth Schragmüller (aka Fraulein Doktor), became a much-adored French ‘café-concert’ singer, a discreet and highly-prized prostitute plying her trade, and a successful German Great War spy.

Regina’s spy operations were full of intrigue: a network spanning four countries based in the ‘shamed’ city of Marseille, with her performing abilities and sexual charms allowing her to lure men from privates to generals into giving her vital information.

This book is not just about Régina, but also explodes the much-vaunted myth of Swiss neutrality. Switzerland, a nest of spies, was riven between support for Germany and France; in an extraordinary penetration of the upper echelons of Swiss society, the Swiss Army Commander-in-Chief was married to former German Chancellor Otto von Bismark’s daughter.

Yet ‘exhuming’ Régina from her unmarked grave involved a tantalising journey - getting past her disavowal by both France and Switzerland, unravelling the truth behind a three-line report about a “pretty Swiss singer’s” execution and overcoming the obfuscation of French military archivists. Even her execution was fittingly exceptional. So determined were the French authorities that she should die, her firing squad numbered not the usual twelve, but twenty-five smoking rifles.

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 Vivien Newman

About Vivien Newman

Viv Newman completed a PhD on women’s First World War poetry and wartime experiences. She now works as an independent researcher, exploring the still many untold aspects of women’s First World War lives.

She regularly speaks on Women in the First World War for groups including Women’s Institute, Rotary, Western Front Association (USA), and at national and international conferences as well as speaking widely on local radio. She is on the judging panel for the annual war poetry competitions organised by “Never Such Innocence”.


About David Alexander Scott Semeraro

David Alexander Scott Semeraro is a medic in the Swiss Army, serving in military hospitals throughout the country and M.A.S.H when in the field with the troops or abroad. For the past twenty years he has worked in many different fields stretching from pediatric oncology to leading the medical team in a high security prison.

Perfect Partner

Women Wartime Spies (Hardback)

From Mata Hari through to Noor Inayat Khan, women spies have rarely received the recognition they deserve. They have often been trivialised and, in cinema and popular fiction, stereotyped as vamps or dupes. The reality is very different. As spies, women have played a critical role during wartime, receiving and passing on vital information, frequently at considerable risk. Often able to blend into their background more easily than their male counterparts, women have worked as couriers, transmitters and with resistance fighters, their achievements often unknown. Many have died. Ann Kramer describes…

By Ann Kramer

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