Marita Lorenz is the Forrest Gump of the Cold War. She was Fidel Castro’s lover and his would-be assassin. She was also seemingly involved in or present for almost every important geo-political event of that era: from the founding of communist Cuba to the Bay of Pigs invasion to the Kennedy assassination.
By all accounts, she seems to be a woman attracted to danger. But she’s rather blasé about it all. According to Lorenz: “One thing just led to another.”
Lorenz, who is now 78 and living in her son’s workspace in Brooklyn, has penned a book about her cloak-and-dagger life: “Marita: The Spy Who Loved Castro” (Pegasus Books, out Sept. 5). This is at least the sixth version of her torrid life story. There are a total of three books, including this newest one, and two movies based on her. A third movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Marita, is slated to for release from Sony Pictures in 2018.
“I’m honored,” says Lorenz of having the starlet portray her. “I think she will be able to capture the way I lived. I would like to meet her. I want to talk to her about my intimate feelings about my life.”
Even Lorenz’s early years were dramatic. Raised in Germany, her mother was an anti-Nazi American and her father was a German cruise ship captain. At age 6 she was thrown in Bergen Belsen concentration camp with her mom, and when she was freed, at age 7, she was raped by an American soldier who lived nearby. The early wounds seemed to make her immune to drama and danger.
When she was 19, she was aboard her father’s ship in Havana Harbor when two boats approached, filled with bearded men dressed in military uniforms. One of them caught her attention. “His face fascinated me,” she writes. This was the face of Fidel Castro, who only a month before had taken over Cuba from Fulgencio Batista in the famed 26 of July Revolution. “I will never forget the first time I beheld that penetrating stare, that beautiful face, that wicked and seductive smile,” she writes.
“I am Dr. Castro,” he said. “Fidel. I am Cuba. I have come to visit your large ship.”
The two exchanged glances, and mere moments later they embraced in her cabin belowdecks — the start of an affair that would change the course of her life. He called her Alemanita — “Little German Girl,” and as soon as she returned to America, he sent a private plane to collect her. She stayed in Cuba with him for seven months, in his suite at the Havana Hilton.
“He was a good lover and a good smoocher,” Lorenz told the Post. “He liked to hold hands and hug a lot.”
She soon became pregnant, she claims, and Castro seemed happy. But when she was seven months pregnant, while Castro was away on a trip, she believes someone slipped a drug into her milk and when she awoke, the baby was gone and she was alone in a dark hotel room, terrified.
She says she quickly returned to the United States, furious at Castro and bereft at the loss of her child. She had no way of knowing what happened to the baby — whether it had been delivered or aborted.
The FBI soon visited her and used her anger to their advantage. An agent named Frank Sturgis, whom she’d met in Cuba (the spy who would later be arrested during the Watergate break-in), recruited her to take part in a plot to assassinate her former lover. She was sent back to Cuba to reunite with him, carrying two botulism-laced pills that could kill the general in minutes, she was told.
But when they reunited, Castro immediately knew why she was there. In dramatic fashion, he took his gun out of its holster and handed it to her, almost taunting her, she claims.
“No one can kill me. No one. Ever,” he said. He was right. She didn’t do it, instead dumping the pills into the bidet. She says she never had any plans to kill the father of her missing child, anyway. They made love, he left, and she returned to the United States.
Back stateside, she was soon entangled with the FBI and Sturgis again, falling in with anti-Castro Cubans in Florida. She started working as a gun-runner and a courier for the CIA in the Everglades — testing M16s and living in hotels with rebels — in preparation for the Bay of Pigs invasion. The mission was meant to overthrow the Cuban dictator, but ended in embarrassment for the United States instead, with 100 Cuban exiles dead and 1,200 captured in the Cuban harbor. The failed invasion only served to intensify the anti-Castro group’s hatred for JFK, whom they felt had abandoned them by not sending in air cover to ensure their success, she writes.
Lorenz was soon dispatched to collect money from a “retired general” who was going to donate to the anti-Castro cause. This was Marcos Perez Jimenez, one of the most repressive Central American dictators of the 20th Century, who had led a brutal regime in Venezuela and was living in exile in Miami. Perez Jimenez was entranced by the sassy spy and asked her to have some wine with him. He flirted with her and she resisted, but not for long. “Sex with him wasn’t wonderful or even good,” she writes. “I certainly couldn’t compare it to sex with Fidel. Marcos wasn’t a good lover. He was selfish and for him, sex was just a function, not something to give yourself up to and lose yourself in.”
Nevertheless, Lorenz continued to be his girlfriend for the next two years. When she got pregnant again, he was thrilled, but extradition proceedings against him stymied any chance at a happy family life. His lawyer made Lorenz file a paternity suit against Perez Jimenez in an attempt to help him remain in the country, she writes. The suit backfired badly — he was extradited, and because she had publicly named him as her daughter’s father, the confidentiality clause he’d insisted upon before giving her a $5 million trust fund had been violated, meaning he would no longer support her.
“He was a crooked lawyer, a seedy little sh-t, that I should have shot,” says Lorenz now, looking back.
At a loss for a means to support herself, she sought the help of Sturgis. She thought perhaps he could help her get to Perez Jimenez. After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the crew’s hatred for Kennedy was their driving force. “They left no room for doubt,” she writes. “They wanted him dead.”
One night, she writes, they started drawing circles on maps and she could see they were discussing something in Dallas. “I just thought it was about a new trip to transport or steal arms like so many others the group had carried out before, although I didn’t really understand why they had to go to Texas, and I didn’t ask either.” There was a new member of the team around. She took an immediate disliking to him. “He was an arrogant pipsqueak,” she says. His name was Lee Harvey Oswald.
In the middle of November 1963, Sturgis called Lorenz, saying it was time to take a trip, she writes. The crew of Anti-Castro-ites, Sturgis and Oswald hopped in two cars filled with guns, she says. “There wasn’t even time to stop and sleep … Everyone looked like zombies on the journey, even when high on cocaine or speed.” When she finally asked where they were going and what they were doing, one of the men replied, “We’re going to kill Kennedy.” She thought he was joking.
‘I will never forget the first time I beheld that penetrating stare, that beautiful face, that wicked and seductive smile.’
When they got to Dallas, they booked a hotel room, and soon a “stocky and tubby” middle-aged man showed up. He looked like a gangster and he didn’t understand why Lorenz was there. “What’s that f–king broad doing here?” he asked Sturgis. The man, she learned, was named Jack Ruby. Lorenz was just as happy to leave — she missed her daughter back home — so she hopped on a plane. Midflight the captain informed the passengers that the plane had been redirected to Newark because of an emergency in Dallas. “Oh, my God,” she thought. “I hope not.”
Sturgis, who died in 1993, told Vanity Fair that he never met Oswald, although his name was found in the assassin’s personal phone book. Sturgis called Lorenz “a liar who’s double-crossed a lot of people. She keeps changing who the people were in the cars. I’m not saying everything Marita says is a lie, but she’ll do anything for money.”
“There is no documentation or testimony from anyone other than her” that what she says about Dallas is true, the article concluded.
Fifteen years later, when she was called to testify before the House Select Committee on Assassinations, she told them what she knew about that trip to Dallas. Her testimony was found to be unreliable.
The magazine cited an FBI report from the 1980s that said, “Lorenz has provided information in the past, some of which is reliable, however, she does have a tendency to exaggerate.”
In an attempt to find Perez Jimenez and provide for their daughter, Monica, she flew back to Venezuela, where military intelligence officers were waiting for her. They flew her to the remotest part of the Venezuelan rainforest, dropped her off, and flew away. She says she was left to live with the Yanomami tribe for eight months.
“I still cry when I think of the plane flying away,” she says, although her life there was idyllic compared to her dubious activities in the States. She was taken in by the tribe and soon adopted their ways. “I bathed in the Orinoco river and hunted piranha,” she says. She made baskets with the women, picked berries, had a pet monkey and turtles, and even had a suitor, a sweet man named Catchu who had a plate in his lip. He would bring her plates of food and even made her a hammock — the equivalent of a marriage proposal in his part of the world — before her mother managed to track her down and send a plane to bring her home.
When she returned to the United States, she fell in with yet another group of shady men — mobsters. Through a friend who was dating a prominent member of the Colombo crime family, she was introduced to that world. “Although it might seem a contradiction, I felt safe with the Mafia,” she writes. “I was happy and relaxed for the first time in my life.” The mobsters called her the “Mata Hari of the Caribbean” and respected her. “They considered me trustworthy and they knew I could keep a secret,” she writes. She went out to “all the fashionable places and danced all night … I drank as many Cuba Libre cocktails and vodka and oranges as I could find. It was as if I wanted to make up for all the partying I had missed, to forget all the ups and downs of the past.”
Eventually she met a Jewish mobster — a member of the “Kosher Nostra,” as she calls it, Eddie Levy, and became his lover. But when he took his wife on a cruise around the world, she got angry and took up with another man, Louis Yurasits, who was the super in her building on the Upper East Side. When she got pregnant again, she says the child was Yurasits’, although Levy loved him like a son. She and Yurasits would go on to marry, and the couple continued working for the FBI. They pretended to be the supers of a high rise on East 87th Street but instead spied on diplomats from Eastern Bloc countries. They divorced in 1975 and Yurasits died in 2009.
Their son, Mark, 47, now lives in Brooklyn and runs an aquarium maintenance business and manages airbrush artists for kids’ parties and other events. Monica, 52, a former Playboy model, is an actress who lives in Los Angeles. (Lorenz says she has no doubt about the paternity of any of her children, despite her merry-go-round love life. A lawyer for Perez Jimenez told Vanity Fair that the dictator always denied paternity of Monica, although he did pay child support for some time.)
As for her child with Castro, after 22 years of trying in vain, she returned to Cuba in 1981 and was finally allowed an audience with the General. “I need to find answers, Fidel. I want to know about our son,” she pleaded to him, weeping. “He’s fine,” Castro replied. “All children here belong to Cuba.” Then he signalled to a guard, who brought in a tall young man who looked like Castro.
“Am I your mother?” she asked him, breaking down into his arms. “He was our son, I believe that with all certainty,” she writes. She says as soon as she has the means she plans to travel to Cuba and ask Cuba’s current leader Raul Castro to let her see her son again. She claims his name is Andre and would be 57 now.
Lorenz believes Andre was taken from her because she was German-American, and Castro’s supporters thought if she had his baby, it would have allied him with Germany and the US. “It would have been an international incident,” she says now, sighing. Her son, as far as she knows, is a pediatrician living in Cuba.
When Castro died in 2016, she was devastated. “He was the love of my life,” she says. But he lives on in her heart. “He’s still around spiritually to me. He’s just gone in body, not in soul.”
Looking back on her life now, she describes it with one word: “Hectic.”
“I was on a merry-go-round and I couldn’t get off,” she says. “Every day was different.”
“But,” she adds, “I’m still alive. Regretfully, to a lot of people.”
culled from New york post