Known for her sultry affair with Fidel Castro and also her involvement in an assassination attempt by the CIA on Castro's life, Ilona Marita Lorenz was born in Bremen, Germany on 18 August 1939, two weeks before the outbreak of World War II. Her mother, Alice June, was an actress and dancer who performed under the stage name June Paget and when she was about to become a film star in France in the early 1930s, she met and married Heinrich Friedrich Lorenz, a ship captain. Alice June was an anti-Nazi American and after rescuing two Allied soldiers during the war, she was recruited into the French underground. However, she was captured by the Germans, was accused of helping the forced labourers in Bremen to escape and was thrown in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, along with her six-year-old daughter. When Marita was freed, at age seven, she was raped by an American soldier who lived nearby. These early wounds seemed to make her immune to drama and danger.
After the end of the Great War, the family moved to Manhattan, where Marita’s mother worked for American intelligence and her father became captain of the liner Berlin. Marita Lorenz, who by that time had quit school after the ninth grade and was 19 years old, persuaded her parents to let her work on her father’s cruise ship and for several years she traveled around the Americas with her father.
In February 1959, weeks after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution, when Marita Lorenz arrived in Havana with her father onboard the MS Berlin, two boats approached the ship, filled with bearded men dressed in military uniforms. One of them caught her attention, the tallest man, who smoked a cigar and wanted to inspect the ship. That was the face of Fidel Castro, who only a month before had taken over Cuba from Fulgencio Batista. Much later, Marita confessed that she would never forget the first time she beheld that penetrating stare, that beautiful face, that wicked and seductive smile. Nevertheless, after he inspected the ship with Marita, from the engine room to the first class, he wanted to see her cabin and once she opened the door, the two exchanged glances and within a fraction of a second, he pushed her inside, hugged and kissed her wildly. That was her first kiss with a man. They did not make love, but before they parted, Marita gave him the home number of her brother, with whom she was supposed to live.
Within a few days after Marita Lorenz arrived in New York the telephone rang and Eidel from the other end of the line invited her to Havana. She immediately agreed and on the next day, she was on a Cubana Airlines plane. A jeep picked Marita up at the other end and drove her to the Havana Hilton, where she stayed for eight and a half months in suite 2408, while Fidel’s brother Raul and Che Guevara occupied the rooms next door.
Later, Marita confessed that they made love immediately after her arrival in the hotel. However, he was not a very good lover and was more interested in caresses than in the actual sexual act. She also said that Fidel was a narcissist and loved to watch himself in the mirror caressing his beard. He always told her not to think about marriage, as he was married to Cuba, but always assured that she is the First Lady of Cuba. He did not have any routine and sometimes left her for days together without any warning. Nevertheless, she lived with Castro for several months and became pregnant.
The end of the romance came on a day in October 1959, when in the absence of Castro she was given a glass of milk to drink that made her unconscious. Why she was given the drugged milk is a mystery. Possibly it was meant for Castro. In any case, Marita woke up in a local doctor's office, when somebody said that the baby is in fine condition. After that, she was given an injection and was shifted back to the hotel. When she came to her senses, she found Camilo Cienfuegos, the commander of the Cuban army, packing her suitcase and arranging her return to the States. She was also told that the baby had to be taken away for safe custody because of Fidel’s enemies and Fidel was on the other side of the island. However, after she arrived in New York when she was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital, she was treated for a botched abortion she had in Havana and she never said anything about having a kid.
In view of the confusing stories, Marita later insisted that she gave birth to a boy Andres Vazquez, whom she met much later, in 1981 when she went to see Fidel for the last time, after twenty years of absence.
In any case, after the incident, she was repatriated to New York and during her convalescence, she received visits from FBI people who had told her about the horrors about Fidel, the stories that she had been drugged and taken to a hospital for performing an abortion without her permission. They gradually gained her trust and the indifferent attitude of Castro after her poisoning and subsequent hospitalization for abortion, his unsympathetic reaction to her misfortune, turned Marita against Castro. Her mother, Alice Lorenz, who in May 1960 wrote an article in Confidential magazine entitled ‘Fidel Castro Raped My Teenage Daughter’, was also a big factor to take her the decision to join the anti-Castro activities. According to her own version, she was in spy business before she knew it and as her first assignment, she accepted nothing less than the assassination of Castro. She was given two botulism-toxin pills that looked like white gelatin capsules to drop in Castro’s drink, just one of which is sufficient to kill him within less than a minute.
After reaching Cuba, she hopped a jeep that took her straight to the Hilton and went upstairs to the suite 2408. She had enough time to stay with Castro, order a meal, kill him and prevent him from making a speech that night, which was already pre-announced. But she flushed the capsules down the bidet, as she knew in her heart that she cannot do that. Finally, Castro, a very tired man, entered the room, laid down on the bed and asked whether she came to kill him. When she said yes, he did not even flinch and pulled out his `45, and handed it to her. She flipped the chamber out and threw it back to Castro. She then told Castro about the plot, claiming that she still loved him. He smiled, said that he knew that she could not kill him and they made love. She wanted him to beg her to stay, but he got dressed and left. She sat there alone for a while, wrote a note for him that she would come back again and left the hotel. After a 45-minute flight from the José Martí airport, Marita was back in Miami and before she landed, the CIA knew that she had blown the plan, because they had heard Castro speaking on the radio.
Later, she also had an affair with Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the deposed Venezuelan dictator, whose famously brutal regime had been backed by the US and the Venezuelan authorities pressed charges against him for the theft of $13.5 million. But that is another story.