former right-hand man: Karl Wolff (1900–84) had been Heinrich Himmler’s right-hand man beginning in the mid-1930s. He was sent to Italy in 1943 to take charge of SS troops and protect what remained of Mussolini’s fascist regime. His role in the peaceful surrender of German troops in Italy in the spring of 1945 led to his being spared at the Nuremberg trials (at the time he benefited from the effective protection of Allen Dulles). He was again arrested in the early 1960s and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for his role in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Treblinka. But he was released in 1970 for good behavior.
armed with improvised weapons: Fritz was enrolled for a few days in the Foreign Ministry brigade of the Volkssturm. Biographical document by Gerald Mayer and Fritz Kolbe.
singer of light music: Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
our friend D. [Dulles]: Unpublished notebooks of Adolphe Jung.
the password ‘George 25900’: Biographical document by Gerald Mayer and Fritz Kolbe.
people in the car: The presence of Margot Sauerbruch on this journey is reported by Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.” Morgan also indicates that Fritz Kolbe had proposed that Maria Fritsch come with him, but that she had refused, saying that her duty was to stay in the hospital. Margot Sauerbruch, the surgeon’s second wife (thirty years younger than he, thus born around 1905) was among Fritz Kolbe’s closest friends. Although she had been married to a close associate of Hitler in the Reich Chancellery, she was an anti-Nazi. She knew very precisely the nature of Fritz’s activities, unlike the surgeon, who was never told of the details. Autobiographical document written by Fritz Kolbe in January 1947.
or by SS units: This traversal of Germany is reported in a document that is probably a debriefing of Kolbe by Ernst Kocherthaler in early April 1945, a ten-page document whose first page is missing, National Archives. See also Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
who was passing through: Biographical document by Gerald Mayer and Fritz Kolbe.
leave without further trouble: This episode appears in several documents, notably “The Story of George.” According to this document, the arrest by the Gestapo was provoked by Fritz’s visit to the Ottobeuren monastery, which was under surveillance. See also Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
long nighttime conversation: Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
the war was over: These men were in the espionage department of the Wehrmacht that specialized in Russia (Fremde Heere Ost), headed by Reinhard Gehlen. He managed to sell his knowledge to the Americans, who seem to have heard of him for the first time from Fritz Kolbe. Gehlen became one of the most important figures in the cold war. He created the foreign intelligence services of the new German Federal Republic and became the first head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Debriefing of Fritz Kolbe by Ernst Kocherthaler, April 1945.
nor smallpox, nor scabies: Biographical document by Gerald Mayer and Fritz Kolbe.
on April 4, 1945: Kappa message, April 4, 1945.
his conversations with Fritz: Message from Allen Dulles to Whitney H. Shepardson, April 5, 1945, National Archives.
developments in Japanese aviation: This information on Japan was the subject of two Kappa messages on April 6, 1945. See also Boston document no. 609.
believed in this scenario: The Germans knew that the Americans were very interested in the possibility of the “Alpine Redoubt” and succeeded in fostering their illusion for many long weeks. This maneuver had a decisive effect on the course of military operations. On April 14, 1945 (two days before Roosevelt’s death), American troops halted on the Elbe and stopped advancing toward Berlin in order to secure southern Germany. At the same time, on the night of April 15, the Russians launched their final great offensive against Berlin. See Antony Beevor, The Fall of Berlin, 1945 (New York: Viking, 2002) and Persico, Piercing the Reich.
protection of Allen Dulles: Fritz Kolbe had had the good fortune never to be suspected by the Gestapo. He was very grateful to the Americans for having done everything to protect him during the war. “I had the privilege to collaborate now during years with two of your most distinguished diplomates [sic]. I have found them so cautious and discreet that none of the secrets my life depended on has been divulged.” “The Story of George.” “I am very grateful to my ‘partners’ in Bern for having done everything to prevent my being discovered. It must not always have been easy.” Autobiographical document written by Fritz Kolbe on May 15, 1945.
Fritz—came out of prison: Walter Bauer’s name had been found in the private diaries of some of the July 20 conspirators, such as Carl Goerdeler. He was jailed in the prison on Lehrterstrasse (Berlin-Moabit) and tortured. “Will he talk?” Fritz wondered anxiously. Biographical document by Gerald Mayer and Fritz Kolbe.
he could go home: Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Sankt Augustin. Walter Bauer Archives.
“emptied like toothpaste tubes”: Report by Vassili Grossman, quoted by Antony Beevor in The Fall of Berlin, 1945.
“be hit?” (April 24): Unpublished notebooks of Adolphe Jung.
the destruction of documents: Episode reported in various documents, notably a memorandum written by Fritz Kolbe for the Swiss police, July 12, 1945 (personal archives of Fritz Kolbe, Peter Kolbe collection, Sydney) and the record of the hearing of Fritz Kolbe by the Swiss authorities, April 26, 1948 (Swiss Federal Archives, document kindly supplied by Peter Kamber). See also Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
secretly shipped to Bern: These secret shipments of gold to Bern are mentioned by Robert Kempner, American prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, in Das III. Reich im Kreuzverhör (p. 282): “700 kilos of gold were transferred to the German legation in Bern, with Ribbentrop’s approval, in the form of coins, in March 1945.” The building housing the German legation in Bern was placed under seal in May 1945. Swiss Federal Archives.
door in Fritz’s face: This series of visits to Otto Köcher is set out in detail in several documents from the personal archives of Fritz Kolbe: “The Background of the George Story”; letter from Fritz Kolbe to Walter Bauer, May 9, 1948; memorandum from Fritz Kolbe to Walter Bauer, August 4, 1950. Peter Kolbe collection, Sydney.
Ludwigsburg, north of Stuttgart: Ludwigsburg had been liberated by the French in April 1945, but had soon come into the American occupation zone, like the entire northern part of Würtemberg.
“His name: Fritz Kolbe”: “Köcher supposed that [the withdrawal of Swiss protection] was due to American influence provoked by George. This suspicion was told by him as a fact to the many German diplomats concentrated with him in the camp, and this was the reason for considering George responsible for the death of Köcher in the eyes of many of his colleagues.” “The Background of the George Story.”
confident about his future: “How full of confidence he was about the future after the war!” wrote Maria Fritsch many years later. Letter from Maria Fritsch to Peter Kolbe, May 31, 1978. Peter Kolbe collection, Sydney.
again at the ministry: Memorandum from “George Wood,” April 17, 1945, National Archives. Opinion of Fritz Kolbe on the members of the Foreign Ministry in late March 1945. Kolbe had filled several sheets of paper with the names of the principal diplomats in the ministry. A red star in front of a name meant “particularly dangerous” (besonders gefährlich). A blue star meant “not a member of the Nazi Party” (nicht Pg). A classification into four categories specified matters. The figure 1 meant “immediate expulsion desirable (sofortige Entfernung erwünscht), affecting 79 people. The figure 2 meant “expulsion in the near future desirable” (54 people). 3: “can be employed again on a trial basis after a warning” (84 people). 4: anti-Nazi (24 people mentioned, including Willy Pohle, Karl Dumont, Gertrud von Heimerdinger, and a few people in the ciphering office and the diplomatic courier service). Karl Ritter was in category 1 with a red star.
“The Story of George”: This undated document is sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third. It recounts the principal events in Fritz Kolbe’s life as a spy. It contains the following noteworthy passage: “All these details of his adventures in fighting the Nazis we had to extract from his friends, because George himself dislikes publicity and surrounds himself by a wall of modesty.” The document is in Fritz Kolbe’s personal archives as well as in the National Archives.
banks of the Tegernsee: Eva Braun committed suicide on April 30, 1945 with Adolf Hitler, whom she had married the day before, in the underground bunker of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
headed toward Kreuth: Memorandum of prelate Schreiber about a trip to Bavaria from June 2 to 6 with Fritz Kolbe and an American officer. See also memorandum from Ernst Kocherthaler to Allen Dulles, June 8, 1945, National Archives. The Gauleiter of Munich was Paul Giesler, designated by Hitler as the successor to Heinrich Himmler in the final hours of the war.
June 14, 1945: The circumstances of Ribbentrop’s arrest were bizarre. In Hamburg, the British had arrested someone who they were not sure was the former foreign minister. They confronted him with his sister, Ingeborg Ribbentrop, who immediately recognized him and could not help crying out “Joachim!” Hans-Jürgen Döscher, Verschworene Gesellschaft (Berlin, 1995).
the OSS in Germany: Peter Sichel, interview in New York, May 25, 2002.
time to General Donovan: General Donovan met “George Wood” several times thereafter and seemed to appreciate him. In a letter of March 16, 1949 to Allen Dulles, he wrote: “I am returning your letter from ‘George.’ I would like to see him again when he gets there.” Allen W. Dulles Papers.
the British secret services: “Usually skeptical and conservative British officials rated this contact as the prize intelligence source of the war.” Memorandum for the President, June 22, 1945, sent to President Truman by General Donovan, National Archives (entry 190c, MF1642, roll 83).
the plot against Hitler: Letter from Fritz Kolbe to Ernst Kocherthaler, July 2, 1945, Wiesbaden. Personal archives of Fritz Kolbe. Gerstenmaier was the representative of the Protestant bishop of Würtemberg in Berlin. He frequented the Kreisau Circle, one of the centers of opposition to the Nazi regime implicated in the July 20 plot. “Gerstenmaier was the kind of man who would have a Bible in one hand and a revolver in the other.” Peter Sichel, interview in Bordeaux, December 1, 2001.
hesitation in saying so: “The role played by the Protestant and Catholic Churches in the fight against Hitler was large but should not be overestimated. In no sense did the Churches have a monopoly in the combat against fascism. To grant them that role today would amount to favoring the creation of a clerical government in Germany,” Fritz Kolbe wrote in a document on the “question of the Churches” (zur Kirchenfrage) written in Wiesbaden, July 9, 1945. Personal archives of Fritz Kolbe.
of the Nazi regime: Hans-Bernd Gisevius went to live in the United States after the war. He worked for a think tank in Dallas, the Dallas Council on World Affairs. Presented as a great German resistance figure in the American press, he was considered an inveterate liar by the German press. Der Spiegel no. 18 (1960); Allen W. Dulles Papers.
US Army C-47: Letter from Fritz Kolbe to Ernst Kocherthaler, Wiesbaden, July 2, 1945, personal archives of Fritz Kolbe. See also Morgan, “The Spy the Nazis Missed.”
at the Charité hospital: In March and April 1945, “we lived on Scotch whiskey and Swedish crackers in the Charité shelter,” according to the memoirs of Ferdinand Sauerbruch.
in the Soviet zone: In May 1945, Professor Sauerbruch was named by the Soviets as director of health in the city administration. But in October of the same year, he was dismissed from all his political offices. In December 1949, he was removed from his medical and teaching posts in the Charité and in Humboldt University. Afflicted with a cerebral ailment, he nevertheless continued to operate almost until the end of his life. Several patients did not survive in the operating room. He died on July 2, 1951 at the age of seventy-six after publishing a book of memoirs that was a best-seller in Germany.
had returned to France: Adolphe Jung returned to Strasbourg, where he had a great deal of difficulty in reestablishing himself, because he was suspected of collaboration with the Germans. He asked for help from the Americans, but they could not do much to help the surgeon save his reputation. The wounds of the past are still very much alive in Strasbourg. Postwar correspondence between Adolphe Jung and Allen Dulles, Allen W. Dulles Papers; interview with Frank and Marie-Christine Jung and Pierre Kehr, Strasbourg, January 2003.
had not completely disappeared: Throughout 1945, Nazi commandos continued to create anxiety and insecurity in Germany. The terrorist groups were known as Werewolves. See handwritten notes of Ernst Kocherthaler, April 10, 1945, National Archives.
recalling the year 1945: Document written by Maria Fritsch in October 1972, private archives of Martin and Gudrun Fritsch, Berlin.
CARE packages containing food: CARE (Cooperative American Remittance for Europe) packages made it possible to avoid the rationing in force in Germany. They were distributed in Europe beginning in the spring of 1946.
medicine, or a job: Getting a pass required going through an obstacle course for everyone who did not have connections with the occupation authorities. To go from Berlin to Hamburg, for example, one needed an “interzone” pass, which was good for only one round trip and could not be obtained without a “favorable opinion” from the military authorities.
working for the conquerors: The details of Fritz’s work for the OMGUS are found in a letter from Fritz Kolbe to Ernst Kocherthaler, December 29, 1945, personal archives of Fritz Kolbe.
become common insults: In German, Aliiertenknecht and Vaterlandsverräter.
she was deeply hurt: The family of Maria Fritsch (from the petite bourgeoisie; one of her brothers owned a grocery store in Berlin) were hugely suspicious of Fritz but nonetheless came to see him for provisions supplied by the Americans, which they sold on the black market. Interview with Maria’s nephew Martin Fritsch, Berlin, January 5, 2002.
“transportation firms,” he said: Letter from Fritz Kolbe to Allen Dulles, National Archives.
major German political figures: For example, Fritz Kolbe interviewed Kurt Schumacher for Tagesspiegel in the spring of 1946. Letter from Fritz Kolbe to Ernst Kocherthaler, April 1, 1946, personal archives of Fritz Kolbe.