16 August 2019

Article Review - A Sirmoor Spy: the Extraordinary Life of Honorary Brigadier Robin 'Tin-Eye' Stephens

The Sirmooree - cover
The Sirmooree - cover
Another interruption to the blog series on the black market German passport business. I'm needing some serious research time to look into the Finn Algot Niska. Quite a character but much of the information is in Finnish and requires some tedious translation work with Google Translate. Stay tuned for the continuing series in a week or so.

The Book
A Sirmoor Spy: the Extraordinary Life of Honorary Brigadier Robin 'Tin-Eye' Stephens. Nick Hinton. The Sirmoree - The Journal of the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles). Spring 2019.

I have been in back-and-forth communication with Nick Hinton, a former commander of the Gurkha's, for a while. We both share a fascination with Robin W.G. Stephens, former officer of the Gurkha's and later commandant of Camp 020.

Nick has pulled together much of the information on Stephens and written an article for the Gurkha regimental magazine - The Sirmooree. In addition to the factual information, Nick has tried to portray the human side of Stephens - What were his motivations? How did the events of his life affect him in later years? Was all his bluster just a front?

A nice pull-together of the information on Stephens and well worth a read. The Sirmooree is usually available online at the regimental association's website. The latest edition (Spring 2019) isn't up yet, but will hopefully be uploaded over the next few weeks.

Review Score
5 out of 5 -excellent summary of Stephens career.

12 August 2019

Book Review - Some were Spies - The Earl Jowitt (1954)

Cover - Some Were Spies (by The Earl Jowitt)
Cover - Some Were Spies
(by The Earl Jowitt)
Another interruption to the blog series on the black market German passport business. I'm needing some serious research time to look into the Finn Algot Niska. Quite a character but much of the information is in Finnish and requires some tedious translation work with Google Translate. Stay tuned for the continuing series in a week or so.

The Book
Some Were Spies. The Earl Jowitt. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd. 1954.

I can't quite recall how this book popped up on my radar as being read-worthy but... here it is!

The author of this book, The Earl Jowitt, was William Allen Jowitt, 1st Earl Jowitt, PC, QC (born 15 April 1885 and died 16 August 1957). Jowitt served as Solicitor General from June 1940 to March 1942. In this capacity he also served as the prosecuting attorney for several spy trials.

The book contains five chapters which deal with espionage cases:
  1. Of the Two Men who Landed at Hythe - Kieboom and Pons
  2. Of the Two Men who Landed at Dungeness - Waldberg and Meier
  3. Of the Two Men and a Woman who Landed in Scotland - Druecke, Walti & Vera Ericksen
  4. The Case of Tyler Kent
  5. The Case of Anna Wolkoff
The rest of the book presents some other cases that Jowitt prosecuted and are not pertinent to this blog. In his introduction, Jowitt states that he got permission from the authorities to write about the spy cases and that he used his case notes as his source material. Given that this book was published in 1954, this is quite astonishing. Generally, MI5 kept a close wrap on all official espionage sources so one wonders if Jowitt's account was somehow "sanitized".

Jowitt states that there were three espionage cases prosecuted during his time as Solicitor General (the first three noted above). He states that there were no other cases brought to trial during that time. This is patently false since Josef Jakobs and Karel Richter were both prosecuted (and executed) before March 1942. It's possible that Jowitt did not know about Josef's case since it was prosecuted by the military, but he should have been familiar with Richter's civil trial.

Jowitt also presents an introductory chapter entitled "Some Thoughts on German Espionage during the War". He admits that the "suspension of our doctrine of Habeus Corpus, and the internment of suspected persons without a trail - or even without an accusation - was a harsh and hard procedure and one which is opposed alike to our traditions and or principles. But in view of our perilous situation, I, for one, do not question its necessity." While Jowitt does reference the Defence Regulations (1939) and the Official Secrets Act (1920), he makes no reference to the Treachery Act (1940) which is intriguing. Given that the spies were prosecuted under the Treachery Act and not the Defence Regulations, this is a gaping omission.

During the espionage trials, Jowitt was left with the impression that the German spy missions had all the marks of hasty and very imperfect improvisation. The Germans used rather crude methods and he was quite surprised to find that many of the spies could not speak English. Other than commenting on the inefficiency of the Germans, however, he doesn't delve into any theories as to why that might be the case.

The five chapters noted above are quite well written and present the background of each of the cases and, to my eye, are fairly accurate. Jowitt, of course, had the advantage of his case notes from the trials. There were a few discrepancies which I will need to check. For example, Jowitt states that when Druecke was captured he had 19 rounds of revolver ammunition in his coat pocket and a Mauser pistol in his suitcase. A revolver is very different from a pistol. Was this just a typo on Jowitt's part or had Druecke been equipped with both a revolver (missing) and a pistol? I need to check this out.

Also disappointing was the fact that Jowitt devoted most of the chapter on Druecke, Walti and Eriksen to the two men and neglected Vera to a great extent. The chapter ends with a brief paragraph noting that there were no proceedings against Vera and that she was "no doubt" detained for the duration of the war. He ventures that she may have been of some use to the authorities.

The chapters on Tyler Kent and Anna Wolkoff provide a nice summary of those two individuals.

A readable book which benefits from the fact that Jowitt, in his role as Solicitor General, had served as prosecutor at the trials of several of the spies. The information provided is therefore relatively accurate if, perhaps, incomplete. There is, for example, no mention of the Treachery Act under which the spies were prosecuted, and no mention of Josef Jakobs and Karel Richter.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - readable and surprisingly accurate for the 1950s

07 August 2019

Bella in the Wych Elm - Solved?

Came across this news article the other day in the Birmingham Mail...

According to the article, an author named Keith K. Swallow claims that, after years of research, he knows the identity of Bella in the Wych Elm. Not a spy. Not Clara Bauerle. Not a prostitute. Not a "Dutch piece" stuffed into a tree by Van Raalt and Jack Mossop. Keith believes that Bella was a traveler/gypsy who died after a domestic altercation.

Keith is looking for a publisher for his book so I guess we'll have to wait a bit to find out the evidence that he uses to support his theories... And knowing how long it takes to get a book through the publishing stream... this could be a while!

As an aside... I know that newspaper reports tend to distort things but... this statement struck me:
He [Keith] has discovered that Clara Baurele was still performing in Germany in 1942 and died in Berlin a year later.
Well... no... I discovered Clara's death registration and posted it online. And Clara Bauerle died 16 December 1942 (not 1943). I hope that this was just a journalistic muddle and not the information Keith has in his book...

I reached out to Keith via email and had a prompt reply. The journalist took a few liberties with the facts and Keith kindly sent me one of the chapters in his book. He does acknowledge my research in uncovering the demise of Clara Bauerle. And Keith would not claim to have "solved" the mystery of Bella... just dispensed with some of the more outrageous theories!

02 August 2019

Black Market Passport Business - Fräulein Dorothea Schachtel

There is another person whom Josef Jakobs and Lily Knips both mentioned, a German Jewess who also sought to escape Nazi Germany. This Fräulein Schachtel apparently bought a Finnish passport through Ziebell but neither Josef nor Lily knew what became of her. Let's take a look...

What Lily Knips & Josef Jakobs Said
On 28 February 1941, Lily Knips was questioned by officers from MI5 and Special Branch. During her statement to them, Lily said:
"I should perhaps mention that whilst [Herr Jakobs] was discussing passport arrangements for me shortly after I met him [they met the summer of 1938], he said that he had obtained a French passport and an Irish (or Finnish) passport for a Fraulein Schachtel, (sister of a Frau Doktor Joseph Thal of Freiherr von Steinstrasse 8, Berlin) for a mortgage of 80,000-120,000 marks payable to [Ziebell]."
On 6 June 1941, Josef confirmed Lily's statement, only saying that Fräulein Schachtel had obtained a passport from Niska and that she was a good friend of Frau Knips.

A Finnish Thesis
Neither Josef nor Lily provided a first name for Fräulein Schachtel but her connection with the Finn Algot Niska provides a bit more information. I came across a 2009 Finnish Master's thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen on Algot Niska. I ran the relevant passages through Google Translate and then tidied up the English so it flows a bit better. Laitinen has this to say about Fräulein Schachtel:
One of Ziebell's clients was German Dorothea Klara Schachtel. She was from Berlin, where she was born on October 1, 1905. Ziebell, like Niska, sought to mislead Schachtel. He stated that the passport was a valid Finnish government document, except that it was not valid in Finland. However, Ziebell emphasized that it was a special passport valid for five years, valid anywhere in the world. Apparently Schachtel wanted to travel from Germany to the United States, where she should have followed Ziebell's instructions:
"... The person concerned after reaching America was to return the passport to Dr. Ziebell or the Finnish Passport Office ..." 333
Ziebell's sales pitch and Schachtel's need to get out of Germany led to a deal. Ziebell set the price for supposed freedom: Schachtel paid the lawyer DEM 25,000 (€ 147,400) for a passport. Despite her new passport, Schachtel did not reach her destination in the United States. Apparently, her plans changed as she headed to Switzerland, which she could enter without any difficulty. This change in plan may be due to the fact that a visa was required to travel to the United States, which would have required a visit to the US embassy. Switzerland, on the other hand, could be entered with a Finnish passport.

The timing of Schachtel's flight from Germany and her arrival in Switzerland are not clear. It likely happened in late 1938 or early 1939. At the end of June 1939, Dorothea Klara Schachtel was arrested by the Swiss police and her fake Finnish passport (#3391) was confiscated by the Swiss authorities. The Swiss authorities asked their Finnish colleagues for a clarification of the passport and, at the same time, stated that they had also informed the German police of the incident. No more is known about Dorothea Schachtel's fate. [p.87-88 of Laitinen's thesis]
Thank you Jussi Laitinen, you've given us just enough information with which we can identify Fräulein Schachtel and now follow her story. We can also answer the lingering question... what was Dorothea Schachtel's fate? Unlike so many other German Jews, Dorothea's story, and that of her sister, "Frau Doktor Joseph Thal" actually had happy endings. The two sisters both managed to escape the horrors of Nazi Germany and build new lives for themselves in America. This is their story...

Family Life
Our story starts, as it does so often with a marriage... On 8 October 1901, Leopold Schachtel married Elsa Lewinsohn  in Berlin. Leopold was a Rechtsanwalt Doktor Juris (a lawyer) who, unlike our friend Jürgen Ziebell, was actually entitled to call himself a "Doctor". Leopold was 34 years old, having been born on 27 April 1867 in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) to Joseph Schachtel, owner of a porcelain factory, and Johanna Sternberg.

Joseph Schachtel Porcelain Factory - unknown date
(from Museum Porcelany site)
The Joseph Schachtel porcelain factory was established in 1859 in Sophienau-Charlottenbrunn, south of Breslau, near the border with Czechoslovakia. The factory started off quite small, employing 40 people and making tubes/bowls for smoking pipes.

By the mid-1870s, Schachtel expanded the production line. A porcelain artist was hired and the company began to make decorated tableware (plates, vases, etc) as well as taking on electronic items (porcelain bells for the German Reich telegraph system as well as high voltage insulators). By 1877, the company employed 220 people and by1904 this had risen to 350.

Joseph Schachtel AG - Jugendstil Kaffeeservice
Joseph Schachtel AG - Jugendstil Kaffeeservice
In 1913, the owner of factory, Max Schachtel (son of Joseph Schachtel and Johanna Sternberg) died and the ownership passed to Max's brother, Eugen Schachtel (who passed away in 1920). Eugen had converted the company into a joint-stock company and, in 1928, two electrical companies took over 98.5% of the shares. The factory managed to survive the Second World War and... is owned today by Lapp Industries. But we digress...

Joseph's son, Leopold, obviously followed a different path than that family porcelain business, studying law and living in Berlin. Leopold's bride, Elsa Lewinsohn, was 24 years old having been born on 9 September 1877 in Berlin to Paul Lewinsohn, a factory owner, and Franziska Pitsch. What sort of factory Paul Lewinsohn owned is unknown. Of note, however, is Paul and Franziska's address. From at least 1900 until their death, the Lewinsohn couple lived at Lichtensteinallee 3a near the Tiergarten. This property, a tenement building, along with its neighbour, Lichtensteinallee 3, would be "appropriated" (Jewish tenants were evicted) in 1943 by Albert Speer who sought to build a house and studio upon the double lot.

Both Leopold and Elsa were Jewish and on 10 July 1902, they welcomed their first child into their family - Lisbet Johanna Franziska Schachtel. Three years later, on 1 October 1905, the couple welcomed their second daughter - Dorothea Clara Annie Schachtel. The two sisters were young when their father passed away on 22 July 1911 in Berlin. No cause of death was give, although Leopold was only 51 years old. At the time, the family was living at Wilhelmstraße 100 in Berlin-Charlottenburg, and Elsa would continue to live at that address until at least 1932.

Lisbeth's Escape to the USA
Lisbet married Carl Willy Josephthal (one word) on 3 May 1927 in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Carl was born on 26 April 1899 in Berlin to businessman (textile manufacturer) Wilhelm Josephtal (b 1867) and Elsa Wolff (b 1875). Carl served with different regiments of the Bavarian Infantry during the First World War. I have found about nine records from the Bavarian infantry, but they are spectacularly indecipherable - a combination of handwriting and military short-hand/abbreviations.
Extract from 23rd Bavarian Infantry register for Carl Josephthal
Extract from 23rd Bavarian Infantry register for Carl Josephthal - columns are:
1. Sequential Number - 57
2. Rank - seems to be an Unteroffizier (Sergeant or equivalent)
3. Name - Carl Josephthal
4. Religion - blank (interesting)
5. Location & Date of birth - Zalin-Berlin (Zehlen?-Berlin), Preußen (Prussia) - 26.4.99 [other infantry records have Berlin-Berlin]
6. Occupation and Place of Residence - Student? [indecipherable] jur. (jurist - he was a law student & living in Berlin
7. Parents - Wilhelm und Elsa geb. Wolf, fabrikbesitzer (factory owner), Berlin
The facing page (cropped at right) includes his service record, decorations received, service in action, punishments, notes.
Of note here is that he was awarded the E.K. II Kl. on 7.8.18 - this is likely the Iron Cross Second Class.

The nine Bavarian infantry registers are fascinating and one could likely get a fairly thorough picture of Carl's military service but... that is beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice to say, he served with various Bavairan reserve regiments as well as with the 23rd Bavarian Infantry regiment. He was an unteroffizier and was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class on 7 August 1918.

The year after their marriage in 1927, Carl and Lisbet were living at Landshuter Straße 23 in Berlin. Karl was listed as a "Dr. Jur" suggesting that he was a lawyer, although one Berlin address book listed him as a "Dr. Kaufman" (businessman). From 1935-1937, the couple was living at Freiherr-vom-Stein Straße 8. This confirms what Lily had said, that Fräulein Schachtel (Dorothea) had a sister, Frau Doktor Joseph-Thal living as a neighbour of Lily's.

On 24 March 1937, Carl (textile manufacturer) and Lisbet sailed from Le Havre, France bound for the USA aboard the SS Ile de France. Carl's father, Wilhelm (textile manufacturer) had made at least one previous trip to the US in 1935 and may have sown the seeds for his family's escape route to the US. Carl and Lisbet's trip in 1937 was only a brief stay, although I have not found their return voyage to the Continent. I did find a passenger manifest for the SS Normandie (French Line) which sailed from New York and arrived in Southampton on 23 May 1938, but Carl (merchant) was the only family member on that passage.

A year later, on 13 October 1938, Lisbet and Carl sailed from Southampton, England bound for the USA aboard the SS Champlain. They had been staying at the Strand Palace Hotel in London. On this occasion, they were accompanied by their two young daughters: Eva (10 years old) and Margot (7 years old). Carl's occupation was given as merchant.

Less than a year later, on 25 April 1939, Lisbet Johanna Franziska Josephthal made a petition for naturalisation in the US as Elizabeth Joan Thal. Similarly, Carl Josephthal's petition altered his name to Charles Joseph Thal. The couple was living at 225 West 86th Street in New York, along with their two children: Eva (born 13 May 1928) and Margot (born 23 April 1931). In the 1940 census, the family was living at the same address and Charles was a clerk. Three years later, Elizabeth was naturalised on 24 February 1944 at the US District Court in New York.

Charles died in 1963 in New York while Elizabeth passed away in 1968 in New York.

Their eldest daughter Eva, who had married Martin S. Belefant in 1952, passed away in 2015 in New York. She was predeceased by her husband Martin in 2011. I haven't researched much on Martin Belefant but did find his obituary which noted that he had served with the 99th Infantry Division, been captured at the Battle of the Bulge and later been awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Eva may have been buried in Snohomish, Washington according to one burial/funeral home database. The couple had one son who is an attorney in New York.

Eva's sister Margot (who may have married a Victor Cranley) was still alive in 2015, according to Eva's obituary notice. I haven't been able to find a death notice for Margot but I did find a reference to them in the footnotes of a book: "The Life and Photography of Doris Ullman" by Philip Walker Jacobs. The footnote deals with the burial location of Doris Ullman in the Ullmann family mausoleum at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York. In addition to Ullmann relations:
According to the records at the cemetery...the cremated remains of several other relatives--Elizabeth Josephtal [Lisbet (née Schachtel) Thal?], Charles Josephthal [Carl Thal?], Wilhelm Josephtal [Charles's father? - see below], Ludwig Ullmann [unknown], Victor Cranley [Margot's husband?] and Margot Cranley [Margot née Thal?]--are also located in several of the niches within the mausoleum.
How exactly Doris Ullman is related to the Schachtel/Josephthal individuals is unknown. The book on Ullman was published in 2001 and Eva's obituary notice from 2015 noted that she was survived by her sister Margot Cranley. This conflicts with the cemetery information above unless some of the mausoleum niches were only reserved for individuals.

As an aside... Charles's family members all seem to have escaped the Shoah:
  • sister - Anneliese Josephthal - born 1902 in Berlin, married Kurt Freund 1925 in Berlin, traveled to USA from Liverpool in 1940, died in 1976 in New York
  • brother - Ernst Josephthal - born 1906 in Berlin, died 1922 in Berlin
  • mother - Elsa (Wolff) Josephthal - born 1875 in Nuremburg, died 1933 in Berlin
  • father - Wilhelm Josephthal - born 1867 in Nuremburg, declared exempt from UK internment on 21 November 1939, died 2 December 1939 in England [possibly buried in New York State?]
Dorothea's Escape to the USA
Unlike her sister Lisbet's relatively straight-forward escape to the USA, Dorothea's journey to the USA was fraught with uncertainty. Being a single female, she was also a bit hard to trace.

I found one passenger list entry for a Dora Schachtel, born about 1906 and resident of Berlin, departing from Bremen on 29 May 1927 for Southampton. The information does match with Dorothea, and it is possible that it was her. She would have been 21 years old and may have been going to visit relatives in England (see below).

We pick up Dorothea's trail again in the late 1930s. Dorothea Clara Annie Sara Schachtel is listed in the register of Germans who had their citizenship annulled under the anti-Jewish laws of the Nazis. Her last address on file was Lützowstraße 88 in Berlin-Schöneberg.

I've had a look through the Berlin address books, and while there was a Schachtel living at that address in the 1930s, the name was not Dorothea but rather "Geschw". This may be an abbreviation of "Geschwister" suggesting that several Schachtel siblings were living there. I did some more digging, comparing the address book entries arranged by surname with those arranged by street address.
  • 1925 - Schachtel, Elsa, Rechtsanw. Ww., Wilhelmstraße 100 T Ztr 7643 (telephone #)
  • 1930 - Schachtel, Geschw - Wilhelmstr 100 T Ztr 7643 (this is the same address and telephone number as their mother)
  • 1930 - Schachtel, Elsa - Wilhelmstr 100
  • 1931/32 - Schachtel, Elsa - Wilhelmstraße 100 (Jewish address books)
  • 1932 - Schachtel, Elsa - Wilhelmstr 100 (last entry for Elsa - possibly passed away)
  • 1934 - Schachtel, Geschw - Lützowstr 88
  • 1934 - Lützowstraße 88 - Schachtel, D., Frl. (this is likely Dorothea)
  • 1937 - Schachtel, Geschw - Lützowstr 88
  • 1938 - Lützowstraße 88 - Schachtel, Geschw
  • 1938 - Schachtel, Geschw - Lützowstr 88
  • 1939 - Lützowstraße 88 - Schachtel, Geschw. 
  • 1940 - Lützowstraße 88 - Schachtel, F Photo (occupation)
  • 1941 - Lützowstraße 88 - Schachtel, F, Photo
The last two lines are a bit surprising as they confirm that there might have been a third sibling: "F Schachtel". It is possible, given that that the Berlin births available on Ancestry end in 1906. Leopold and Elsa could have had another child, or even several. I did some more digging in the different address/telephone books on the ZLB site and, after much hunting and pecking, came across this entry from the 1940 Amtliches Fernsprech Buch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Berlin:

Dorothea and Fritz Schachtel in the 1940 Berlin Telephone book (1940 Amtliches Fernsprech Buch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Berlin)
Dorothea and Fritz Schachtel in the 1940 Berlin Telephone book
(1940 Amtliches Fernsprech Buch für den Bezirk der Reichspostdirektion Berlin)

This would seem to confirm that Dorothea lived with a relative named Fritz at Lützowstraße 88 in Berlin. The 1940 telephone book would have been based on information from 1939, so it is possible that Dorothea was still in Berlin in 1939... or that her information had not been updated. There is no listing for either Dorothea or Fritz in the 1941 telephone book.

As for Fritz Schachtel, he was indeed the brother of Lisbet and Dorothea but, unlike his sisters, he would not escape the Nazis. I found Fritz in the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names from the Yad Vashem site. One of the items was a testimony page from Lisbet's daughter, Eva (Thal) Belefant, who, in 1994, submitted a picture of her uncle Fritz and information on his birth and death.

Fritz Schachtel was born on 24 December 1910 in Berlin to Leopold Schachtel and Elsa Lewinsohn. He was a photographer. On 05/09/1942 (not sure if this is American or European date order... could be 9 May or 5 September) he was deported from Berlin on Transport 19 (Train Da 403) to Riga, Latvia. He was murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

I am left with a big "why". Why didn't Fritz escape with his sister Dorothea? Why one and not the other? Perhaps it was a matter of finances, after all, Dorothea paid Ziebell a large sum of money for a passport of questionable legality and limited value. If Lily, Josef and Laitinen are to be believed, Dorothea's escape from Germany would have unfolded something like this.

Algot Niska (from Wikipedia)
Algot Niska
(from Wikipedia)
In the spring of 1938, Dorothea bought a Finnish passport from Jürgen Ziebell for the princely sum of 25,000 RM. According to Lily Knips, Josef told her that Fräulein Schachtel had paid 80,000-120,000 RM for a passport but this seems rather ridiculous given the regular price of 25,000 RM. Josef may have inflated the number to convince Lily that 25,000 RM was a "deal". Ziebell had procured the passport through the Finn, Algot Niska, and assured Dorothea that the document was a valid Finnish passport with which she could enter any country in the world (except Finland). Dorothea wished to travel to the United States, likely to join her sister, Lisbeth. Unfortunately the US required a visa and so Dorothea traveled to Switzerland to petition the US embassy there. At the end of June 1939, Dorothea was arrested by the Swiss police and her fake Finnish passport was confiscated by the Swiss authorities. The Swiss police notified the Finnish as well as the German police. Ziebell's promises had turned out to be worthless and Dorothea faced the ugly prospect of being returned to Nazi Germany. While Laitinen provides no details of what became of Dorothea... we can piece together the rest of the puzzle.

Somehow, Dorothea managed to make her way from Switzerland to the UK, where we pick up her trail in the 1939 National Registration. Dorothea's entry suggests that it was family connections which may have smoothed her escape route from Switzerland. In September 1939, Dorothea was living at 158a Brent Street in Hendon with the Jacobi family.

Charlotte (Lotte) Jacobi (born 1884), the head of the household, was a widow living with her son Hans Jacobi (born 4 December 1905 in Berlin). This is where it gets a bit complicated. Charlotte (born 1884) and Dorothea (born 1906) were actually first cousins despite the 22 year age difference. Charlotte's mother was Rica Schachtel (born 1848), the much older sister of Leopold Schachtel (born 1867), Dorothea's father. Thus Dorothea and Hans Jacobi would have been first cousins once removed. This is important for in 1945, Hans and Dorothea would get married in New York. But we get ahead of ourselves...

Ibex House - Minories, London
Ibex House - Minories, London
Charlotte (Lotte) Jacobi had another son, Kurt Emil Jacobi who also lived in Hendon, at 35 Cheyne Walk. Kurt was married with one child and was Company Director of an import-export business. In the late 1940s, Lotte would make several trips to New York and Chile giving her occupation as manageress and supervisor. It is possible that she played a role in the import-export business. Kurt's UK Internees card provides the "name and address of employer": Ibex House, Minories, E.C. 3. This is, unfortunately, not the name of the company, but simply the name and address of an art deco office building (built 1937) in Minories, London. The fact that Kurt was director of a company in 1939 suggests that he, at least, had come to London some time before the National Registration took place.

As for Dorothea... on 30 October 1939 she was declared exempt from internment in the UK. Less than a year later, Dorothea was finally able to complete her journey to the United States. On 23 September 1940, she boarded the SS Samaria in Liverpool, bound for New York. Ten days later, on 3 October 1940, Dorothea landed in the United States.

The following year, in April 1941, Dorothea (now Dorothy Anne) applied for US naturalisation. She gave her address as 225 West 86th Street, New York (the same address as her sister Lisbet). Dorothea's occupation was given as "food service business" [waitress?]. She had a fair complexion with grey-green eyes and brown hair. She was 5' 4½" tall and weighed 130 lbs.

Not surprisingly, Hans Wolf Martin Jacobi, Dorothea's first cousin once removed, had also come to the United States, albeit a few months before Dorothea. Hans had arrived in New York from Southampton aboard the SS De Grasse on 26 February 1940. He applied for US naturalisation on 29 July 1940. Hans (now known as John Martin Jacobi) gave his address as 225 W. 86 Street, New York (the same address as Dorothea's sister). He gave his occupation as merchant suggesting he may also have been involved in the Jacobi family's import-export business. Hans had a fair complexion with brown eyes and brown hair. He was 5' 2½" tall and weighed 135 lbs, a short and rather stout gentleman it would appear.

The Belnord apartment building 225 West 86th Street, New York
The Belnord apartment building
225 West 86th Street, New York
As it turns out, the address given by Dorothea and Hans, the same at that of Lisbet (Schachtel) Thal, was a famous apartment building in New York, the Belnord. Whether Dorothea and/or Hans moved into Lisbet and Carl's apartment is not known... although in the 1940 Census (taken in April 1940), Hans Jacobi was definitely not living in the same apartment as Carl and Lisbeth. Perhaps they had their own separate apartments.

On 17 February 1945, Dorothea (now Dorothy) Schachtel and Hans (now John) Jacobi applied for a marriage license in Manhattan.

A year later, on 19 April 1946, Dorothy's petition for naturalisation was successful. She was issued with a US passport on 19 November 1947 and set sail for the UK on 31 December 1947, returning several months later on 15 May 1948 aboard the SS Batory. Her address at that time was 137 West 74th Street, New York, a 4-story brownstone built in 1910.

John Martin Jacobi formerly Hans Wolf Martin Jacobi (from Ancestry)
John Martin Jacobi
formerly Hans Wolf Martin Jacobi
(from Ancestry)
We then lose the trail of Dorothy and John Jacobi for several years until they pop up again during a trip to Brasil in 1963. Traveling on US passports issued in November 1962, the couple had departed New York aboard a Pan American Airlines flight on 13 December 1962. On 9 January 1963, they departed Montevideo, Uruguay aboard a BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) with 30 day Brazilian tourist cards in their possession. Both Dorothy and John gave their occupations as Executives. Their address was 123 West 74th Street, New York, a 9-story apartment building built in 1925.

Dorothy Anne Jacobi formerly Dorothea Clara Annie Schachtel (from Ancestry)
Dorothy Anne Jacobi
Dorothea Clara Annie Schachtel
(from Ancestry)
While the information on the Brazilian tourist cards is interesting... it is the photographs of Dorothy and John which are most appealing. They put a face to all of this information and somehow make the couple more real. I have to admit, Dorothy definitely projects the image of an executive! Whether they were involved with Carl Thal's textile manufacturing business... or with the Jacobi family's import-export business is unknown.

After that... we lose them again, only picking them up in the 1990s. Dorothy passed away on 4 March 1990, at the venerable age of 85. Her husband, John, passed away on 9 June 1997 at the age of 91. There is no evidence that Dorothy and John had any children. John's obituary notes that he was a beloved uncle but there is no mention of children.

And thus ends the tale of the Schachtel siblings: Lisbeth, Dorothea and Fritz. While the two sisters escaped Nazi Germany, their younger brother would not be so fortunate. The story of Dorothea's purchase of a useless Finnish passport from Jürgen Ziebell adds another black mark to Ziebell's story, one of many.

Elsewhere in his thesis, Laitinen notes that many of the individuals who bought Finnish passports were apprehended by the authorities. We'll touch on some of those individuals later in this series, as they are mentioned in Josef's files as well.

Finnish Master's Thesis (opens as a pdf) - "Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana" - Joensuun yliopisto Yhteiskunta- ja aluetieteiden tiedekunta Historian oppiaineryhmä Suomen historian pro gradu - tutkielma Marraskuu 2009 - Jussi Samuli Laitinen - roughly translates as "A crook or a saint? Algoth Niska's involvement in Jewish smuggling in Central Europe during 1938" - University of Joensuu: Social and Regional Sciences Faculty, History Study Group - Master's Degree in Finnish History - November 2009 - by Jussi Samuli Laitinen

National Archives - Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24

ZLB site - Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin - various Berlin address books

Ancestry - genealogical records and family trees

Yad Vashem site - Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names

Joseph Schachtel Porcelain Factory - Museum Porcelany site

29 July 2019

Black Market Passport business - Frau Lily Knips

We are going to take a bit of a break from the schemers behind the black market passport business in 1930s Berlin and focus on a few of the desperate Jewish clients who sought to escape Nazi Germany..


Before I begin this blog, I need to acknowledge Lily's granddaughter, Sylvia, who has welcomed me into her home and helped me untangle the life of Lily Knips.

When Josef Jakobs landed in England, he had one person with whom he planned to make contact, Frau Lily Knips living at 19 Compayne Gardens in London. The MI5 officers were naturally interested in anyone with whom a German spy planned to make contact and questioned Frau Knips at her flat in London. In this instance we have not only the testimony of Josef Jakobs but also that of Frau Lily Knips. Their stories about Ziebell and the passport business jived fairly well.

Lily was born on 20 July, 1891, in the city of Hannover to German Jewish parents Jacob Katz and Jenny Goldschmidt. Lily’s parents already had a young daughter, Elsa, born on 22 March, 1890. The narrow age difference likely meant that Elsa and Lily played together quite a bit as children. Both of the girls were baptized at the Evangelical-Lutheran Pauluskirche in Hannover on 14 October 1907. A Christian baptism would not be enough, however, to protect them from the wrath of the Nazis 30 years later.

Protestant baptismal register for Elsa & Lily Katz in 1907
Protestant baptismal register for Elsa & Lily Katz in 1907

Growing up, the girls likely saw little of their father, for he was a very successful businessman. Jacob was the managing director of the Germania Brewery, which he had founded in 1898, along with several shareholders (mostly publicans and beer distributors). The brewery and its shareholders experienced a roaring success for several years but with the advent of World War I, beer sales fell dramatically. The shareholders of the brewery were presented with a generous takeover bid from a consortium of other breweries in 1917 and agreed to sell. Upon purchasing the brewery, the consortium promptly shuttered the doors of the Germania Brewery.

Seeing an opportunity, Jacob and his shareholders purchased the old brewery grounds and buildings from the consortium and founded Heuweg-Werke (Hannoversche Eishaus- und Waren-Einkaufs-Gesellschaft), a clear-ice manufacturing plant. Electrically powered refrigerators were still a thing of the future and instead every household had an icebox to keep perishable food items cool. The iceboxes necessarily required ice and Jacob’s venture was another great success. The ice factory was outfitted with the most modern equipment and was soon producing thousands of kilograms of ice.

Former site of the Germania Brewery in Hannover, later turned into the  Heuweg-Werke Hannover Hannoversche Zuckerwaren und Konfitüren Fabrik A. G  Seilerstraße Südstadt Stich circa 1920 (unknown artists)  (from wikidata)
Former site of the Germania Brewery in Hannover, later turned into the
Heuweg-Werke Hannover Hannoversche Zuckerwaren und Konfitüren Fabrik A. G
Seilerstraße Südstadt Stich circa 1920 (unknown artists)
(from wikidata)
So successful was the business that Jacob and his shareholders soon expanded operations and added three departments: wine wholesales, a chocolate factory and a restaurant supply division (for porcelain, cigars, cigarettes, etc.). Soon, in addition to the 800 shareholders, the company was employing 200 workers. On August 1, 1929, in the face of the Great Depression, Jacob resigned as director. His successor restructured the company, paring off the various departments so that eventually the company was again focused on the manufacture of clear ice. Jacob had made an enormous amount of money through his business acumen and his daughters were likely accustomed to the finer things in life.

In 1913, Lily married Ludwig Sauer, a German Jewish lawyer from Hannover. Their only child, Lothar Sauer was born on 12 August, 1914, in Hannover. Unfortunately, the marriage was not a happy one and in 1920 Lily divorced Ludwig. While Ludwig ended up in Brussels, Lily and Lothar made their way to Berlin.

Elsa had a similar story of marital woes. She married Alfons Anastasius Majewski and their union also ended in divorce, albeit without any children. The date of their marriage and subsequent divorce is unknown but Elsa and Anton were both living in Magdeburg in 1915, albeit at different addresses. There is a 1918 marriage registration in Magdeburg for an Alfons Gregor Anastasius Majewski, likely our fellow.

Marginal note on the 1919 cancelled marriage registration  of Walter Georg Heinrich Gross and Elsa (Katz) Majewski.  German handwriting at its finest:  "Nebenstehend den gesamten Vordruck und Eintragung  gestrichen, weil die Verlobten nicht erschienen sind.  Der Standesbeamte (signature)"  (Thanks to Traugott Vitz for his transcription/translation skills!)
Marginal note on the 1919 cancelled marriage registration
of Walter Georg Heinrich Gross and Elsa (Katz) Majewski.
German handwriting at its finest:
"Nebenstehend den gesamten Vordruck und Eintragung
gestrichen, weil die Verlobten nicht erschienen sind.
Der Standesbeamte (signature)"
(Thanks to Traugott Vitz for his transcription/translation skills!)
While it appears that Elsa never remarried, I did find an incomplete marriage registration for Elsa (Katz) Majewski and Walter Georg Heinrich Gross in Berlin from 8 December 1919. There are no witnesses listed and the information is crossed out, so it would appear that the marriage never took place. A marginal note essentially states that the wedding did not take place because neither of the two wedding parties showed up.

Nevertheless, it is interesting in that the document gives Elsa's occupation as "opera singer". Later, Elsa would give her occupation as "nurse". In addition, Walter Gross was living at Pfalzburger Strasse 15, the building next to where Josef Jakobs and his parents were living. Elsa, on the other hand was living across the street at Pfalzburger Strasse 71. At one point in time, Kaspar Jakobs and his family had lived at Pfalzburger Strasse 72 - it's a small world in Wilmersdorf apparently!

The Berlin marriage records are closed for 100 years so the 1919 records just got released. It is unknown if Elsa and Walter's marriage actually went through after 1920. Although, given that Elsa's name remained Majewski,this would seem doubtful.

In 1926, Lily married Franz Lorenz Knips, a German Catholic, in Schöneberg, Berlin. Franz was the director of the Niederlausitzer Kohlewerke A.G. (a coal company) and a wealthy man. Born in Fulda on 21 July 1883, Franz had earned his doctorate in 1911 from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. The title of his dissertation, "Entwicklung und Tätigkeit der Bank für Handel und Industrie" can be roughly translated as "Development and Activity of the Bank for Trade and Industry", a rather dry topics and it would appear that Franz was likely involved in the financial aspects of the coal company.

Shortly after receiving his doctorate, Franz had married Anna Margarete Lötzsch in Berlin in 1913 but the couple divorced in 1925. Lily would later tell the MI5 interrogators that Franz had a daughter (Hildegard (née Knips) Maronn) from a previous marriage. Franz and Lily had no children together but Lily thoroughly enjoyed life in the cosmopolitan city of Berlin and Franz doted on his step-son, Lothar. From 1929-1933, Lily and Franz lived at Apostel-Paulus Strasse 20 in Schöneberg and, in 1934, moved a few blocks south to Freiherr-vom-Stein Strasse 8. Their new house faced Stadtpark Schöneberg (now Rudolph-Wilde Park) and was located in a much sought-after area of Berlin.

On 6 January, 1934, at the age of 19, Lily’s son, Lothar left Germany to study in England. He stayed with his uncle Mr. Heilbron and studied at the London School of Economics. Lothar’s visa only allowed him to stay in England for two months, so at the end of January, his solicitors wrote to the Home Office and asked permission for Lothar to stay indefinitely so that he could continue his studies. In early February, Lothar was granted permission to stay until August 6, 1934.

Lothar’s step-father, Franz, was a generous man and supported Lothar during his studies. After completing his courses at the London School of Economics, and presumably receiving permission to stay longer, Lothar continued his studies at the Institute of Actuaries and eventually at Pitman’s College.

The Beginning of the End
Lily Knips ca 1940 - UK identification papers (National Archives - KV 2/24)
Lily Knips ca 1940 - UK identification papers
(National Archives - KV 2/24)
On 27 June, 1935, tragedy struck in Berlin when Franz passed away at the relatively young age of 52. He left Lily a small fortune and she continued to live at their home at Freiherr-vom-Stein Strasse 8 in Berlin for another six months. Lily then moved out of her home and lived in a hotel for two years. In 1937 she took a flat in Wielandstrasse 30. These moves may have been precipitated by the deteriorating situation in Germany, something that caused Lily deep anxiety. Her non-Jewish husband had died and the Nazi vice grip was slowly strangling the life out of German Jews. By 1938, Lily was desperate to get out of Germany.

Lily's son, Lothar, had returned to Germany for short holiday visits and was undoubtedly disturbed with each visit to witness the changes that the Nazis wrought in his home country. Lothar knew that he would not be returning to Germany, a country he barely recognized, and on June 11, 1936, wrote to the Home Office requesting an extension of his landing permit so that he could take up employment in an insurance office. His permit was granted and on September 1, 1936, Lothar took a job at E.B. Nathans.

In June 1938, Lily was introduced to Josef Jakobs by a Jewish woman named Frau Reiwald, a former patient of Josef's dental practice. As a Jew, Lily was anxious to leave Germany and Frau Reiwald told her that Herr Jakobs could help her. Josef told Lily that he could get her any kind of passport, for a fee. He let her know that he had helped the sister of "Frau Doktor Joseph Thal" (her former neighbour at Freiherr-vom-Stein Straße 8), one Fräulein Schachtel, procure a Finnish passport from his contact (Ziebell) for a mere 80,000-120,000 RM. After meeting Josef's contacts, Ziebell and Rammrath, Lily decided not to use their "services" (suspecting that they were illegal) and sought to escape Germany via alternate means. Lily continued to see Josef at the local tennis club where he tried to involve her in several other shady financial deals. She eventually took him to Hannover to meet her father, Jacob Katz, still a shrewd businessman even at the age of 83. Lily's father quickly assessed Josef as a scoundrel and a schemer and advised his daughter to have nothing more to do with him!

9 Compayne Gardens, London (Google Streetview)
9 Compayne Gardens, London
(Google Streetview)
In September 1938, Lily visited her son in England, through whom she was also trying to secure entry into England. Lothar wrote to the Home Office in early September asking them to issue his mother a visa so that she could reside in England as he would fully support her. In expectation of her successful application, Lothar secured a flat for her at 9 Compayne Gardens.

In mid-September, Lily returned to Germany from London and tried to extricate herself from some of the financial deals that she had entered into with Josef. She ended up selling her car to Josef and told him about her new address in England. In October 1938, Josef came to her flat and told her that some of his passport cronies had been arrested and imprisoned. Lily never saw Josef again and, in December 1938, learned from his wife, that he too had been arrested and imprisoned. For Lily, too, the net was tightening and in October 1938, she, like every other Jew in Germany was forced to add a "Jewish" forename to her name. She was now known as Lily Sara Knips. In January 1939, Lily and her solicitors wrote to the Home Office asking for a decision on her visa application as she was suffering from“severe nervous strain on account of the present situation in Germany as regards Jews”

Frau Knips was finally granted a visa and entered England on 24 April, 1939, with the understanding that she take no paid or unpaid employment while in the United Kingdom. Lily settled at 9 Compayne Gardens where she rented out rooms to boarders. In September 1939, five months after her escape from Nazi Germany, Lily's son Lothar Sauer married Hermine Apfel (a Jewish refugee from Austria) in Hampstead.

During their questioning of Frau Knips, the MI5 officers chose an opportune moment to show her a picture of Josef Jakobs. She was noticeably distressed at his disheveled appearance. The officers concluded that Lily's relationship with Josef was of a personal nature and that she was likely not a danger to the security of England. One of the officers thought that her relationship with Josef might have been more intimate than she admitted. While relating a conversation that she and Josef had had, Lily used the familiar form of "you" (Du), generally only reserved for close family and friends.

Lily also mentioned that she had received a couple of mysterious letters the previous year (1940). The first letter was incorrectly addressed to 19 (or 29) Compayne Gardens and arrived in the late summer of 1940 with a postmark from Holland (or Denmark). Poorly written in Germany, the letter writer asked Lily to pay 40,000 Marks to an American bank to the account of some lady whose name Lily did not recognize (and had since forgotten).  The letter writer also requested that Lily travel to Switzerland and visit them, but the signature was illegible. Lily gave the letter back to the postman and told him that it must have been intended for some other person. The second letter was addressed to 9 Compayne Gardens and arrived shortly after Christmas 1940 with a postmark from Shanghai. It was signed by a Frau Goldstein who said that she had been informed by Herr Jakobs that he had given Lily 40,000 Marks on Frau Goldstein’s behalf. Lily was told to send that amount to Frau Goldstein’s bank in Shanghai. Frau Goldstein mentioned that Herr Jakobs had already written to her concerning the matter, at which point Lily recalled the earlier letter and thought that it must have come from Josef. Frau Goldstein mentioned that Lily had met her husband with Herr Jakobs in Berlin and that both had been released from prison on 24 March 1940. Lily destroyed that letter. MI5 put a trace on the first letter with the Post Office but nothing seems to have come of that. We'll revisit the second letter in a later blog post about Goldstein...

While Josef was held and interrogated at MI5's Camp 020, Lily's life went on. She may have wondered what had become of him and was likely distressed to read newspaper accounts of his execution at the Tower of London on 15 August 1941.

What became of Lily Knips? What became of her sister, Elsa Majewski? What became of their Jewish father, Jacob Katz, still alive in Hannover in 1941?

Mercifully, Jacob Katz passed away on 15 April 1942 in Hannover. He, at least, would manage to avoid the Nazi death camps. It is unknown what became of his wife Jenny (née Goldschmidt) Katz.

Lily's sister, Elsa Majewski, was not so fortunate. On 13 June, 1942, Elsa war herded aboard an "Osttransport“ at Gleis (Track) 17 in Bahnhof Grunewald and deported to Sobibor extermination camp. The date of her murder is unknown.

Lily Knips - Cause of Death on death registration,  January 16, 1943 - GRO.
Lily Knips - Cause of Death on death registration,
January 16, 1943 - GRO.
We also don't know when, or if, Lily received news of the deaths of her father and sister. What is known is that on 15 January 1943, Lily Knips passed away at the young age of 52 years. According to the coroner, Lily Knips died of "asphyxia due to carbon monoxide poisoning derived from coal gas on 15 January, 1943 at her home". One could think that it was a tragic accident except for the final sentence: "She took her own life while of unsound mind".

So ended the tragic life of Lily Knips. She had escaped the Nazi terror in Germany, albeit leaving her father and sister behind. She had set herself up in a new life in England, close to her son and his wife. Her life was perhaps overshadowed by the capture and death of Josef Jakobs. She had so much to live for and yet... she could not hold out.

Even Lily's son struggled to overcome the tragedy that seemed to follow the Katz clan. He passed away in 1962 at the age of 48 years. His wife, Hermine, however lived to the ripe old age of 87 and passed away in 2001 in Camden, London. 

Recollections by Lily's granddaughter at a Holocaust memorial in Berlin - 4 May 2019
Stolpersteine in Berlin site - Elsa Majewski
Germania Brewery - info on the history of the brewery
Eisfabrik site - theatre group operating out of the former Germania Brewery/Heuweg factory site - some great photos
National Archives - KV 2/24, 25, 26, 27
GRO - death registration of Lily Knips

Berlin marriage and death records are closed for 100 years and available on Ancestry up until 1920 with nothing beyond that.

23 July 2019

Black Market Passport Business - Christian Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell

Deutsches Reich - passport
Deutsches Reich - passport
Normally I can bang out these blog posts in about eight hours - about 6 hours of research and a couple of hours of writing and editing. In the case of Jürgen Ziebell, however, I have been sucked into an overwhelming web of information, most of it in German. It has taken me quite a while to sift through all of the information and try to make sense of it... without writing another book! This blog has been an absolute beast!

Let's just start by saying that Jürgen Ziebell, the man at the black heart of the passport business in 1930s Berlin, was an unscrupulous criminal, whose crooked career continued well into the 1960s. The more I delved into this story, the more amazed I was at the sheer audacity of the man. His ambition for fame, fortune, and above all, power, knew no bounds. Josef's association with this criminal adds another layer of darkness to Josef's own career, although I gather that Ziebell was a consummate master at projecting an image of respectability. He sucked in high-ranking politicians so I may need to cut Josef some slack for being sucked in by this scam artist.

I don't usually write such vehement denunciations of individuals on my blog, but honestly, in this case, the above condemnation is more than warranted in the case of Christian-Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell.

[N.B. A caveat, there is a fair bit of information on the internet about one Jürgen Ziebell, a German businessman, who was held in Bahrain for five years from 2012 to 2017. This Ziebell was born 1964 and lives in Hamburg with his wife and two young children (12 and 16 in 2012). This is not our man.]

Information from Josef Jakobs
During weeks of interrogation by MI5, Josef gave quite a bit of information about Ziebell... or at least... what he knew about Ziebell... or remembered about Ziebell.

Dr. Jürgen Ziebell was a lawyer born around 1906/07 of a very good family. His father was a lawyer and notary but had died many years previously. Ziebell's brother was a First Lieutenant in the regular army. At one point, Josef said Ziebell was an unimportant lawyer until he took over the Jewish emigration business from Hans Blum. In other place, Josef says that Ziebell had been a public prosecutor for many years before he started practising as a lawyer on his own account. I would tend to lean twoards the first statement being the most accurate.

Ziebell maintained that an American University had conferred an Honorary Doctor's Degree upon him in view of his good connections there and on account of certain scientific work he had done.

In view of his connections in the Argentine, Ziebell had been permitted to practise there as a lawyer, and he had also had the rank of Colonel bestowed upon him in the Argentine Army. Ziebell's representative in Buenos Aires was a German Aryan lawyer called Dr. Flume who had emigrated there many years previously.

Ziebell claimed to be engaged to a wealthy Swedish woman who supplied capital for his business.

It isn't entirely clear but it appears that Dr. Hans Blum and Ziebell were business partners. When Blum could no longer operate the passport business due to restrictions on Jews, Ziebell took over the operation. Josef said that he didn't make a lot of money bringing clients to the business until he met Ziebell in January 1938. This would suggest that the fees charged increased significantly under Ziebell. According to Josef, Ziebell became "very rich" from the business.

Josef only acted as an agent for Ziebell, bringing clients to Ziebell's "luxurious" offices on Kurfürstendamm 202. Ziebell could, for a fee, get passports, naturalisations and visas from different countries. Josef maintained that the business was legal, and that genuine passports were obtained from the consulates of the various countries concerned.

Ziebell could also assist with the aryanisation of Jewish businesses and had formed a company with eight others with a capital of 15,000,000 RM. Ziebell would take over a Jewish concern and sell it to an Aryan German firm at a significant profit. They would place their application for the purchase/sale before the “Arbeitsfront”, which gave them the necessary permission to buy Jewish businesses. Josef suggested that under these arrangements, Jewish business owners were able to get greater advantages than were allowed by law, and that this was done by bribing German officials. Josef also said that Ziebell claimed he could get people out of concentration camps.

Ziebell was also involved with an Irish naturalisation business through contacts in Amsterdam, which ended up being unsuccessful. Josef said that the clients for the Irish naturalisation got their money back.

Ziebell was also involved with a Finn, Algot Niska, in securing Finnish passports for his clients. He was assisted in this by Martin Goldstein who "placed his connections at Ziebell's disposal free of cost".

Josef repeated that Ziebell made a fortune from this business and that at one time, between forty and sixty Jewish clients were seen at his offices. Based on what Josef knew, Ziebell charged:
20,000 to 30,000 RM for naturalisation
600-800 RM (or 3000 RM) for South American visas
30,000 RM for release from concentration camps
5,000 RM for Finnish passports
In October 1938, the Gestapo arrested all of the individuals involved with the organisation (about 60 people) in total. Ziebell was arrested eight days after Josef and he too was sent to a concentration camp. He was later released but was not allowed to practise as a lawyer. According to Josef, Ziebell was a member of the "party" and also belonged to the Nationalsozialistische Rechtswahrerbund (NSRB) (National Socialist Association of German Legal Professionals).

This was apparently part of the reason why the business was broken up by the authorities in the fall of 1938. As a member of the "party" and as an Aryan lawyer, Ziebell was not allowed to look after Jewish interests. Ziebell resigned from the "society" (NSRB?) after his arrest, otherwise, according to Josef, Ziebell would have been expelled. According to Josef, the money Ziebell earned from the emigration business was not confiscated by the authorities.

So we know a bit about Ziebell through the eyes of Josef Jakobs. How much of it is true, is another question. There are several issues: Did Ziebell convey the truth to Josef? Did Josef remember information accurately? Did Josef tell the truth to the MI5 interrogators?

Let's see what we can dig up on Ziebell... thank goodness his name wasn't Schmidt (Smith). The name Ziebell, however, is not that far from Zwiebel... the word for "onion" in German. In many respects, researching Jürgen Ziebell has been like peeling away the layers of an onion and finding it rotten at the core.

Christian-Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell was born on 3 July 1906 in Charlottenburg, Berlin. Interestingly, his parents, Else Pauline Marta (geb. Völz) and Emil Julius Josef Ziebell were living in Treuenbrietzen (Zauch-Belzig) at the time, about 60 km southwest of Berlin. Jürgen was born at Pestalozzistraße 99 with the assistance of a midwife. A look at the Berlin address books for that year shows that one E. Völz, Rentiere (woman of private means), was a resident there. This may have been a relative of Else, perhaps her mother (Emma).

Both of Jürgen's parents were Protestant, although Emil was a convert from Catholicism. His occupation was Rechtsanwalt (lawyer) and Notar (notary), which confirms what Josef knew about the man. Emil and Else were married in Körlin (formerly West Pommern, now part of Poland) on 14 September 1905. Emil was listed as Catholic on his marriage registration and born on 12 September 1873 in Stolp (just northeast of Körlin). His parents were Maria (born Hofmeier) and Christian Friedrich Ziebell of Stolp. Else was Protestant and born on 12 February 1882 in Körlin. Her parents were Emma (born Ziebell) and Arnold Völz of Körlin.

This is often where my head starts to hurt - Emil Ziebell married Else Völz, whose mother's maiden name was Ziebell. Could they have been distant cousins? I did track down Else's birth from 1882 and the marriage of her parents in 1879. Her mother, Emma Wilhelmine Carolina Ziebell (born 1862), was born of Julius Ziebell and Pauline Schneider. I haven't been able to track them farther than that, and it's hard to say if there is any connection between this branch of the Ziebell surname and Jürgen's paternal branch. Josef claimed that Jürgen came from a "good family" and he certainly did come from good Prussian (West Pomeranian) stock.

Josef also claimed that Jürgen had a brother but I haven't been able to find anything to confirm that. Mind you, the only reason I have Jürgen's birth registration is because he was born in Charlottenburg even though his parents were residents of Treuenbrietzen. If the brother (and other siblings) were born in Treuenbrietzen, we're out of luck at this point in time. Given that Jürgen was born the year after the marriage of his parents (in 1905), it would seem likely that any siblings would be younger than him. Similarly, if Jürgen's father passed away in Treuenbrietzen, the Ancestry website does not include those registers.

Young Lawyer
1934 Berlin Address book - listing for:  Ziebell, Else vw Rechtsanw Charlb Berliner Str 22
1934 Berlin Address book - listing for Ziebell:
Ziebell, Else vw Rechtsanw Charlb Berliner Str 22
The next traces I can pick up of Ziebell and his mother are in the mid 1930s. Else Ziebell appears in the 1934 Berlin address books as the widow of a Rechtsanwalt and is living at 22 Berliner Straße in Charlottenburg. Ziebell would have been 28 years old, but there is no evidence of him living in Berlin at this time. We pick him up in the 1935 address book (compiled from 1934 information) when he was living at 22 Berliner Straße with his mother. His occupation was given as "Ger. Assess". At this point, he was going by Jürgen but two years later (1937) he was listed as "Chr. J.". His occupation at that time was Rechtsanwalt and two addresses were given:
  • Friedrichstraße 100
  • Wohn (abbreviation for Wohnung-  Residence) Charlb Berliner Str 22
1936 Berlin Address book - for Berliner Straße 22 Ziebell, E(lse)l vw (widow) Rechtsanw. Ziebell, J(ürgen), Ger. Assess. (Gerichtssasessor)
1936 Berlin Address book - for Berliner Straße 22
Ziebell, E(lse)l vw (widow) Rechtsanw. (The section of
the address book arranged by surnames has her as
Ziebell, Else vw Rechtsanw. Berliner Str 22)
Ziebell, J(ürgen), Ger. Assess. (Gerichtssasessor)
It would appear that in 1937, Ziebell was still living at Berliner Straße 22 but that he had an office at Friedrichstaße 100. Interestingly, Hans Blum may have had an office at Friedrichstraße 214. The two addresses are about 500 m apart so not exactly in close proximity, although this would have been around the time that Ziebell took over the the Jewish emigration business from Hans.

A year later, in 1938, Ziebell had moved up in the world. His address (just one) was Kurfürstendamm 202 and his occupation was "Dr. Rechtsanwalt". This continued to be his address until 1943, the last Berlin address books available online for that time period.

Now, if we were relying solely on genealogical records, this would be as far as we could go. There are two other possible reference to him, one in 1948 from the Munich address books and another in 1955 from the Mainz address books. But these would normally be a tenuous stretch without any corroborating evidence. Luckily, Ziebell turns out to have been a rather newsworthy individual who continued to be involved in shady deals! He appears in articles from Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Wikipedia, the German Parliament (Bundestag) minutes and several books. From these sources, we can extract a few more tidbits and begin to stitch together a more complete story about his time in Berlin... and his further adventures after the war.

Schemes in Berlin
After Ziebell graduated from high school in 1925 he studied law, political science and forestry. In 1933, Ziebell claimed that he was awarded a doctorate in law from the University of Marburg in Hesse and subsequently passed both "juristischen Staatsprüfungen" - state law exams. That same year, he joined the Motor-SA or the Nationalsocialist Motor-Corps (a Nazi automobile club). He later (July 1937) served as legal advisor of the Motor Corps.

I would suggest that the "University of Marburg" business needs to be taken with a grain (pound) of salt. The sole reference I have found to it is Wikipedia and it is not confirmed by any primary sources. The Munzinger Archiv site (which Wikipedia uses as a references) simply indicates he left high school, went to law school and then passed his "juristischen Staatsprüfungen". Elsewhere, I've come across information which suggests that Ziebell graduated with a law degree in 1930 but there would then be a gap of several years before he began working as a lawyer in Berlin (1934). He could have gone to Argentina or even the USA during this interval... perhaps.

In 1934, Ziebell worked for a few months at the Berlin public prosecutor's office (Staatsanwaltschaft), where he did not perform all that well. He then became a Gerichtsassessor (court assessor) and Rechtsberater (legal advisor) to the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front). The Nazi Party had founded the organization in 1933 to replace the labour unions. It would seem likely that Ziebell showed at least some sympathy for the Nazi ideology in order to secure such a position. His position as Gerichtsassessor is confirmed in the 1935 Berlin address book, which gives his occupation as "Ger. Assess." This information would have been from the previous year, so that in 1934, he was a Gerichtsassessor.

In October 1936, Ziebell was admitted as an attorney-at-law (lawyer) to the Kammergericht in Berlin (Berlin Appellate Court). How long this position lasted is unknown.

In September 1938, the Argentine Consul in Berlin and several German Jews sued Ziebell. He had apparently promised to give Jews entry visas to South American countries in return for large sums of money. He also gave them stolen Finnish passports which turned out to be useless. On 19 October 1938, Ziebell was arrested and, on 15 March 1940, sentenced to 15 months imprisonment by the Landgericht (Regional Court) for receiving stolen goods. That same year (1940), honour court proceedings were initiated against him but not completed because Ziebell voluntarily withdrew from the Bar. There is also some evidence that, between 1938 and 1942, Ziebell was also charged with bribery, embezzlement and foreign exchange offenses. One writer noted that Ziebell charged the Jews "horrendous sums" for passports and visas. Another reference notes that after his arrest on 19 October 1938 that he was released on 24 April 1940... doesn't quite jive with the above but he may have had several arrests...

In 1940, the Berlin Landgericht (Regional Court) determined that Ziebell was not entitled to call himself a "doctor" which would call into question the earlier note that he graduated from the University of Marburg with a doctorate in law.

Years later (1952), Ziebell was questioned about his life and made several statements which have not been corroborated and need to be taken with a grain of salt. Ziebell claimed:
  • that, in 1933, he was appointed Dr. h.c. by a university in New York on the basis of his thesis/paper on folk medicine (Volksmedizin) - intriguing but unproven. This is the same year that he supposedly earned a doctorate in law from the University of Marburg. It may be that this is the "doctorate" that he kept clinging to through the decades, and which consistently got him into trouble.
  • that the Gestapo arrested him in 1938 for representing Jews and opponents of the Nazi regime in court - this would seem unlikely, unless it involved the way in which he represented Jewish clients in the passport business
  • that after he was released in 1940, he served with the Wehrmacht from 1942 to 1945 - possible but unproven
  • that he served as defence counsel at the Nuremberg Trials - this might be verifiable, although he would likely have played a minor role on one of the defence teams
Post-War Machinations
The amount of information on Ziebell is rather bewildering. A whole book has been written about the Schmeisser Affair and Ziebell's pivotal role in shaping the politics of the time. There are several Spiegel and Zeit newspaper articles from the 1950s and 1960s that also touch on Ziebell and his impact on current events. Ziebell's post-war story is complex and even the author of the Schmeisser Affair notes that the stories told by various individuals (including Ziebell) are often contradictory. Suffice to say that the entire story is interwoven with politics and espionage. Ziebell often ended up at the heart of events, attempting to influence politics/politicians, journalists and intelligence agencies of various countries (Germany, France, America and the USSR). On top of that... there were multiple intelligence agencies vying with each other for superiority... For example, Germany had the LfV, the BfV and (after 1956) the BND while France had the BST, DST, SDECE and Sûreté. These intelligence agencies did not always share information or even similar policies. Some French intelligence agencies happily shared information with the USSR... some did not. It's enough to make one's head hurt. I am going to do my best to give an overview of Ziebell's machinations as he attempted to influence politics, make money with various scams, share information with intelligence agencies and stay one step ahead of the police. I hope to avoid stepping into any fettnäpfchen along the way (put my foot/pen in my mouth)... I must acknowledge as well the assistance of Traugott Vitz in summarizing some of this information from Germany sources. For others, I have relied on Deepl online translator... which isn't always great. Corrections welcome!

Dabbling in Bavarian Politics (1946)
After the war Ziebell reinvented himself and landed on his feet. He managed to conceal his past history with the Nazi party and portrayed the 1938 criminal proceedings as "politically motivated persecution" by the Nazis. On this basis he entered the Bavarian Sonderministerium (Bavarian State Ministry for Special Tasks) in 1946, where he portrayed himself as a "doctor". This would appear to be a bit of a stretch for in 1940, the Landgericht Berlin (Regional Court Berlin) determined that Ziebell was not entitled to use the title "doctor". Elzer also notes that there was some evidence that in 1945, Ziebell worked for a company (Anton E.) in Bad Dürkheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) where he already used the code name "de Laborie" (remember this name... it will come up later). This would suggest that Ziebell was already engaged with one of the French intelligence services.

In Munich, Ziebell ended up working in the legal division of the Entnazifizierungministerium (gotta love the German penchant for assembling incredibly long words together - the denazification ministry). After the war, it was the role of the denazification department to make sure that individuals were given a clean bill of health - i.e. that they had not been involved with the Nazis. Rather an odd assignment for Ziebell given his past connections with the Nazi party! But Ziebell always talked a good story...

He also cut a dashing figure and his slim build and dark, almost Italian complexion fitted the image of a "diplomat of the old school". He apparently had the manners of a grand seigneur who could impress even the most distinguished individuals. He was a wheeler-dealer who tried to better his position by using his charm and influence with leading personalities in politics, business and nobility.

Munich address book - 1948
Ziebell, not surprisingly, liked the finer things in life and used his influence to fleece his own nest. He used his contacts to decorate his villa in the Robert-Koch-Straße in Geiselsteig with fancy furniture, carpets and paintings from a Bavarian castle. [Incidentally, this is confirmed by a 1948 Munich address book which lists Ziebell as living at Robert-Koch-Straße 7.] The villa had previously belonged to a local group leader of the Nazi Party and had been confiscated by Ziebell. The authorities would eventually notice that Ziebell's income of 1,000 RM per month was insufficient to support such a lavish lifestyle, particularly as his Czech-born "wife" had expensive tastes. This may the woman that Josef thought was Swedish. Even though Ziebell presented her as his wife... they were not married and the woman was actually a Soviet agent... more on that later. Suffice to say that we already have hints that shortly after the war, Ziebell had connections to French and Soviet intelligence agencies.

The Bavarian denazification department would develop a reputation of being a bit corrupt. This was due, in part, to the fact that Ziebell gave legal advice to former Nazi and SS men and ensured that they received a clean bill of political health, for a fee... of course. Ziebell also had excellent relations with the KPD (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands - Communist Party of Germany), although, when the Americans began to remove Communist-leaning individuals from higher civil service positions, Ziebell stepped away from the party. At the same time, Ziebell promised not to reveal the political leanings of some of the Communist individuals in the Bavarian administration, particularly his own denazification department which was rife with them. One of his subordinates was Hans-Conrad Schmeisser (we'll come across him later), a definite friend of the KPD. There is some evidence that Schmeisser had been appointed by the KPD to keep an eye on Ziebell. At the same time, the KPD believed that they had Ziebell in their back pocket due to their detailed knowledge of his past history in Berlin. If that wasn't enough, Ziebell also had connections with a group that was working for a separate Bavarian state under French protection.

Ziebell also tried to cut deals with the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands - Social Democratic Party) in supporting the candidacy of Josef Müller (a member of the CSU - Christlich-Soziale Union - Christian Social Union) for Ministerpräsident of Bavaria.  All Ziebell asked for in return was that he be appointed Staatssekretär (Secretary of State for Bavaria) if/when Müller was successful in becoming Ministerpräsident.

Ziebell's boss, however, Anton Pfeiffer also had his eyes on the Ministerpräsident position. In late 1946, shortly before the election, Pfeiffer initiated proceedings against Müller. It turned out that Müller had served in the Abwehr during the war and this, combined with his possible affiliation with the Nazi Party, meant that he faced a lengthy denazification trial. Ziebell sought to sidestep the lengthy process by a variety of means. He tried to convince the chief prosecutor of the investigation to drop the case. He also tried to get the Americans to fast-track Müller's proceedings under the chairmanship of himself (Ziebell). The Americans, however,  refused to get involved in such a process. Finally, Ziebell found a witness who testified that Pfeiffer had been sent to Tunis during the war by the Abwehr. This naturally led to denazification proceedings against Pfeiffer!

At the same time, Ziebell's elaborate lifestyle on a civil servant's salary was beginning to attract attention. The Ministerpräsident, Hoegner, had initiated a disciplinary process against Ziebell several months previously due to a suspicion of corruption. Word had apparently gotten around that many former Nazi's were getting a clean bill of political health (Persilschein) and that something wasn't quite right in the denazification department.

On 21 December 1946, the position of Ministerpräsident went to Hans Ehard. Pfeiffer returned to the Bavarian State Chancellery and sought to flush the rats out of the denazification department. He pushed for the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate members of the Sonderministerium who had tried to influence the formation of the government. The first person in their sights was Ziebell and, in January 1947, he was dismissed from his position by his new boss, Alfred Loritz. The parliamentary committee met in February and March 1947 and determined that Ziebell had, out of personal ambition, sought to make Müller the Ministerpräsident. In doing this, Ziebell had misused his professional position. An arrest warrant was issued for Ziebell but his friends from the Bavarian separatist group helped him escape to Saarbrücken.

Escape to the Saar (1947)
Upon arriving in the Saar, Ziebell founded a company in the Saaruferstraße in Saarbrücken: Industrieanlagen GmBH. It was apparently a cover for a his friends... the group of francophile Bavarian separtists. The Munich representative of Industrieanlagen GmbH was Anton Karl, former director of the Dachau Herb Garden, a huge research facility for aromatic and medicinal herbs attached to the concentration camp. Industrieanlagen GmBH apparently made lucrative foreign exchange deals in which it cheated its customers. There is also some evidence that the company was a front for communist agents and that it forwarded passports (stolen from the French Ministry of the Interior) to communist spies. Ziebell himself received a passport under the name "Georg Ziebel from Neunkirchen, Saarland". His passport attracted official attention in 1949/50 in Ludwigshafen when he was closely scrutinized by the local railway administration for using forged free tickets. True to form, Ziebell lived a plush lifestyle in the Saar. He moved into a confiscated villa in Scheit [sic], near Saarbrücken. He dined at the French offier's barracks and was able to buy plenty of food.

Ziebell's former subordinate, Hans-Conrad Schmeisser also ended up in the Saar area. By 1948/49, Schmeisser was an agent for the Service de Documentation et Contre-Espionage (SDECE), the French intelligence service of the French Prime Minister. Schmeisser's cover name was René Levacher. He worked in Boppard am Rhein, a French-occupied city and spun a network of agents whom he paid for news. He also rubbed shoulders with some West German celebrities: Dr. Adolph Reifferscheidt (at the time economic consultant at the CDU, later Consul General of West Germany in Casablanca), Herbert Blankenhorn (at the time Secretary General of the CDU, later Ministerial Director and Head of the Political Department at the Bonn Foreign Office) and Konrad Adenauer (at the time Zone Chairman of the CDU, later Federal Chancellor of West Germany). These connections would later become the hub of the Schmeisser Affair. How friendly were Adenauer and crew with the French? How much political information did they pass along to the French? Suffice to say that Schmeisser would later claim that Adenauer, Blankenhorn and Reifferscheidt had been quite friendly with the French. This information would later be used by Ziebell as a political lever in the Bundestag.

Schmeisser was not the only one working for intelligence services. One of Schmeisser's sources was the agent Hella Hubaleck. In 1950, Ziebell approached Hubaleck and offered to pay her money if she would copy interesting information from Schmeisser's reports. He said he wanted to leak the information to the French tabloids but... when the French BST (Brigade de Surveillance Territoire) interrogated Hubaleck... they suspected that he wanted to pass the information to the Soviets. In April 1950, the BST arranged a little test of Ziebell. They got Schmeisser to pass along to Ziebell a bogus report about a change in Blankenhorn's Saar policy. They then had the French radio service monitor transmitters from the Soviet zone of Germany. No surprise... the news they were looking for appeared a few days later. Ziebell was hauled into the local BST offices and he and his "wife" were accused of passing information along to the Soviets. Despite Ziebell's denials, he was dismissed as an agent of the BST. This was not, however, the end of his connections with French intelligence services, some of whom had a much more laissez faire attitude about the Soviets, for they had worked together during the war. Ziebell was apparently also connected with the French High Commissariat in the Saar, the Sûreté and the SDECE.

We've already encountered Ziebell's "wife" in Munich... and she apparently followed Ziebell to the Saar. According to Schmeisser's wife, Ziebell was not actually married to his alleged wife who was also not from Prague. Frau Schmeisser and even Ziebell himself, admitted that Frau Ziebell was a communist/Soviet agent. When Ziebell escaped from the Saar, Frau Ziebell went with him. During one of his later interrogations, Schmeisser claimed that Frau Ziebell had three passports: one German, one Saarland and one Czech. By 1953, Frau Ziebell was apparently living as Madame de Laborie (remember Ziebell's early code name as a French agent in 1945) in Santiago, Chile. She apparently had something of the air of a "Bardame vom Berliner Kurfürstendamm" and impressed everyone with her "catlike character". She spoke Czech, English, German and French and portrayed herself as a fashion designer in Santiago. Even while in Chile, Frau Ziebell was still acting on behalf of the Soviets...

But we are getting ahead of ourselves... back to Ziebell in the Saar...

In the fall of 1950, Ziebell sought to expand his reach when he applied for employment at the German BfV (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz - Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution). The BfV was/is Germany's domestic security agency, similar to MI5 in the UK. What possessed Ziebell to apply to the BfV is left to our imagination... In describing his career in his application, Ziebell conveniently jumped from his position at the Berlin Kammergericht in 1935 right to 1945 and his entry into the Bavarian Sonderministerium. According to his own testimony, Ziebell had fought communist activities in the Bavarian Sonderministerium and attributed his dismissal in December 1946 to communist intrigues. He then claimed to have worked as a journalist in the Saar and made no mention of intelligence services.

Ziebell's resume had some suspicious gaps and in June 1951, the BMI (Bundesministerium des Innern - Federal Ministry of the Interior - oversaw the BfV) conducted some enquiries at the BMJ (Bundesministerium der Justiz - Federal Ministry of Justice) about Ziebell. After viewing Ziebell's file from the BMJ, the BMI noted that Ziebell's employment with the BfV was out of the question.

In the Saar, Ziebell was quickly overstaying his welcome. His political intrigues revolved around the Saar Question (should it remain a separate state, rejoin Germany, etc). He was affiliated with the Saar's version of the SPD (the SPS) and sought to sow disorientation and division among the other parties, primarily the DPS.

In the fall of 1951, Ziebell's luck ran out. The High Commissariat asked Ziebell to cover for an official involved in bankruptcy proceedings... and Ziebell used the opportunity for personal enrichment. The end result was the fraudulent bankruptcy of the Kaufhauses Walter. Once again, the water had gotten too hot for Ziebell and he fled the Saar back to Germany.

Escape to Germany (1951)
Like a cat, Ziebell landed on his feet, drawing upon his relationship with an old friend, Paul Schmidt, the head of the LfV (Landesbehörde für Verfassungsschutz - State Office for the Protection of the Constitution) in Wiesbaden, Hesse. Similar to the federal security agency (BfV), each state in Germany had its own state-level security agency. It would also appear that Paul Schmidt of the LfV was also an agent of the SDECE. Schmidt protected Ziebell from the Saarland judiciary and defended Ziebell as a German patriot and a hunter of foreign agents. Although Ziebell had an office at the LfV, he later vehemently denied being an employee of the LfV... although it's a bit difficult to take anything Ziebell said at face value.

At the same time that Ziebell was burrowing himself into the LfV, Schmeisser was getting desperate to get out of France and the Saar. He was running out of money and out of French intelligence agencies willing to employ him. Schmeisser really wanted to work as a journalist in the Federal Republic of Germany but at the same time, he believed he had some compromising information on Blankenhorn and Adenauer, information that might earn him some money. He sent his wife to Bonn to offer the information to the SPD but, while they were interested, they weren't willing to pay the exorbitant figure that Schmeisser demanded. Ziebell, with his network of connections, learned of the offer to the SPD and this gave him leverage over Schmeisser. At the same time, Ziebell still sought to influence events in the Saar through his network of agents.

In November 1951, Ziebel suggested that Schmeisser join him at the LfV in Wiesbaden. Ziebell promised to help Schmeisser make a break with his previous life and suggested that he make a statement about his work for the French intelligence agencies to the responsible authorities in Germany. On 21 November, 1951, both Schmeisser and Ziebell gave statements at the LfV in Wiesbaden.

In December 1951, the Saarbrücken Regional Court sought to have Ziebell arrested in Germany, but their application was rejected at the Wiesbaden Local Court due to: (a) insufficient evidence and (b) Ziebell's German citizenship. Even though the Saar was legally part of Germany, it was regarded as a foreign country and, Germany did not extradite its citizens.

Ziebell might have had high hopes of using the information provided by Schmeisser to assist the SPD in the Bundestag but... in May 1952, the Deutsche Saar-Zeitung beat him to the punch. They published his intrigues and the background of his subversive operations in the Saar. His entire network of agents threatened to fall apart. Ziebell himself contacted the southwest correspondent of "Der Spiegel". An article about Hella Hubaleck "Falsch wie die Taube" (False as the Pigeon) followed on 2 July 1952. A week later, another article followed: "Am Telefon Vorsichtig"... this one however threw the cat amongst the pigeons! Ziebell apparently believed that the article would assist the SPD and benefit himself and Paul Schmidt as well. According to Schmeisser, both men had their eyes on political positions. In this instance, Ziebell again overplayed his hand...

Am Telefon Vorsichtig (Careful on the Telephone) (July 1952)
The Spiegel article quoted Schmeisser at length, stating that he had been in negotiations with Blankenhorn about what would transpire if the Red Army invaded Germany. The plan was to spirit Blankenhorn, Adenauer and their families out of Germany and to Spain with the assistance of the French Secret Service. At the same time, the article indicated that Blankenhorn had considered ceding the area west of the Rhine to France. Consternation reigned in the halls of the Bundestag and Chancellor Adenaur moved quickly to determine who was responsible for the 9 July article. Ziebell, however, had ensured that the trail led away from him... straight to Schmeisser's door and that of the SPD. Schmeisser and several individuals from Der Spiegel were charged with libel and slander, charges brought forward by Adenauer, Blankenhorn and Reifferscheidt. Their day in court would not, however, come quickly as three years of investigation followed. During that period, it became apparent that Ziebell and Schmidt were also involved in the publication of the offending Spiegel article.

In April 1952, two months before the Spiegel article, Interpol Saarbrücken again requested that the Wiesbaden police commissioner deliver Ziebell to them so that he could face the charges involving the Kaufhauses Walter bankruptcy. Word of the request filtered up to the Federal Justice Minister (Dehler) who remembered Ziebell's name from the Munich Sonderministerium debacle. Dehler ordered the BfV to begin inquiries into Ziebell and the 9 July Spiegel article simply sped up the BfV inquiries.

In the late summer and fall of 1952, more and more information came to light about Ziebell. It was determined that the Wiesbaden Local Court's decision not to hand over Ziebell to the Saar authorities had been questionable at best. At the same time, files on Ziebell from the Bavarian authorities were forwarded to the BfV. Ziebell was most definitely wanted for questioning...

Arrested in Berlin (1952)
With the authorities breathing down his neck in Hesse, Ziebell decided to escape to Berlin in October 1952. The LfV Berlin office got wind of this and tipped off Kurt Klang, a Berlin criminal assistant, and a member of the FDP (part of the governing coalition). Adenauer had instructed the Gehlen Organisation (forerunner of the BND) to keep an eye on Ziebell and his movements. On 31 October, 1952, Klang met Ziebell's plane at Tempelhof Airport, arrested him and questioned him extensively at police headquarters. Ziebell talked a fine story about his work for the LfV Wiesbaden and how he had uncovered a French spy ring in Hesse. Believing that Klang's supervisor was a member of the SPD, Ziebell emphasised his role in discovering how far Adenauer would go in accommodating the French. Klang, however, was not a member of the SPD but of the FDP. And he had actually gone behind his boss's back in arresting Ziebell and bringing him in for questioning. The information Ziebell provided was of vital interest to the federal intelligence services who were investigating the Schmeisser Affair, as well as to Blankenhorn and Adenauer who became clear that Ziebell had valuable information. There wasn't much that Klang could do with Ziebell however, since the original arrest warrant from the Saarbrücken court had been revoked by the German court. Ziebell was released the following day.

In November 1952, Ziebell applied for, and received, a German passport in Berlin. He also went to the Chilean and Swedish embassies in Bonn and applied for visas to both countries. It would seem that he had escape on his mind, perhaps intending to join his "wife" in Chile... The German federal authorities began to get nervous. Ziebell could not be allowed to escape but his passport could only be confiscated if criminal proceedings were brought against him. The Chilean and Swedish authorities agreed to delay the visas a bit and would notify the Germans once they were approved. Several weeks later Ziebell was arrested, accused with breach of custody (he was suspected of having taken copies of the 21 November 1951 Schmeisser statement from the LfV Wiesbaden). Ziebell's passport was seized and proceedings against Ziebell were sent to the public prosecutor's office in Hanover in early 1953. Ziebell would not escape German retribution so easily. Despite repeated requests, his passport would not be returned to him until after the dust from the criminal proceedings settled in 1959.

Trial in Hannover (1955)
Christian-Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell from Der Spiegel 1955 10 05
Christian-Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell
from Der Spiegel 1955 10 05
In the fall of 1955, three years after the offending Spiegel article had been published, Schmeisser, Ziebell and the Spiegel representatives finally had their day in court. It would all be a bit anti-climactic. On the first day, Ziebell's lawyer successfully argued that since Ziebell had not been included in the original criminal complaint filed in 1952, that he should not stand trial with the other accused individuals. He was successful in his arguments and Ziebell walked out of the court room., much to the disgust of the Spiegel representatives. They already suspected that Ziebell had deflected the spotlight onto Schmeisser while Ziebell remained hidden in the background. But Ziebell wasn't off the hook yet...

As for the other accused... the charges were withdrawn by the plaintiffs (Adenauer et al). Schmeisser, however, was left holding the bag for some of the legal costs... and that was that.

In October 1955, Der Spiegel printed an article summarizing the trial in Hannover and indicated that there was more to Ziebell's involvement than met the eye. A week later, it appears that the Spiegel had to print retraction/clarification in which they admitted that Ziebell was never included in the original indictment made by Adenauer et al.

In December 1955, the SPD brought forward questions in the Bundestag about the criminal proceedings. After all, there had been a three year judicial investigation which had involved trials, interrogations, extensive files, witnesses brought in from overseas... and then the charges had been withdrawn on the second day of the trial. Adenauer responded to the questions and noted that:

"... The most interesting person in the whole matter is Herr Ziebell. Herr Ziebell's defence counsel objected at the beginning of the trial to the fact that his client was being tried because an error had occurred in the service of the indictment on Herr Ziebell. The court had to grant this request, so that the proceedings against Ziebell, who interested me the most and will continue to do so in the future, had to be separated."
Konrad Adenauer (at left, behind the children) visiting St. Ludwig's Catholic Church in Wilmersdorf, Berlin in July 1954. Pfarrer Greve is pictured along with Josef Jakobs' son, Raymond Jakobs (wearing the dark suit just behind and to the right of Adenauer) (postcard photo from Jakobs family collection)
Konrad Adenauer (at left, behind the children) visiting St. Ludwig's
Catholic Church in Wilmersdorf, Berlin in July 1954.
Pfarrer Greve is pictured along with Josef Jakobs' son, Raymond Jakobs
(wearing the dark suit just behind and to the right of Adenauer)
(postcard photo from Jakobs family collection)
Adenauer then proceeded to deny much of what Schmeisser had claimed in the 1952 Spiegel article. He answered a few questions from the SPD and the debate ended, as abruptly as the Schmeisser trial had. Der Spiegel noted in another article that perhaps the SPD didn't want to shine too much light on the Schmeisser Affair and how they sought to benefit from it...

Adenauer indicated that criminal proceedings were continuing against Ziebell and that the Bundestag would be informed of the results. I did find further references to the Ziebell affair in the 1958 02 12 Bundestag minutes from the 10th Sitting. Dr. Bucher of the FDP asked what had become of the Ziebell proceedings and was answered by Dr. h.c. Erhard, the Deputy Federal Chancellor. In late December 1957 at the Regional Court in Hanover, Ziebell acknowledged the allegations made against Adenauer et al had been incorrect and he expressed his sincere regret without reservation. Ziebell agreed to bear the financial costs of the plaintiffs. End of story. This would seem to jive with other information which indicates that the proceedings against Ziebell had been resolved by 1959 when he was once again permitted to hold a passport. The FDP were less than pleased with Erhard's answer, particularly as Adenauer had said in 1955 that Ziebell was the most interesting individual...

New Fraud Scams (1955-1962)
We now jump back to early 1955 when, despite the fact that he was being investigated by the authorities for his role in the Schmeisser Affair, Ziebell continued to generate new money making schemes. In early 1955, he tried to persuade the owner of a pharmaceutical factory in Bissendorf (near Hannover) to enter into a business partnership with him. Ziebell promised the man that they could speculate in real estate and double their money. Ziebell planned to only contribute a small amount of money but... the factory owner noticed the trap after reading about Ziebell's involvement in the Schmeisser trial in Der Spiegel.

Mustard pot from Langner-Feinkost (from eBay)
Mustard pot from Langner-Feinkost
(from eBay)
In the fall of 1955, Ziebell acquired a delicatessen company in Ettlingen, Baden (Langner-Feinkost AG which specialized in mayonnaise and meat salads). With the assistance of a crooked accounting system, Ziebell managed to skim funds from the company and acquire tax advantages for himself. In the summer of 1961, the company went bankrupt. Ziebell, however, had cannily withdrawn funds from the company and placed them out of reach of creditors. In the end, the company's debt was over DM 3.9 million, of which only a fraction could be settled by liquidating assets. Ziebell was taken into custody in February 1962 and charged with 41 offences, one of which included the unauthorized use of the term "doctor". In June 1964, his trial for fraud began in the Karlsruhe Regional Court. At the end of July 1964, Ziebell was sentenced to five and a half years imprisonment for fraud and fraudulent bankruptcy.

Marginal note from Jürgen Ziebell's 1906 Birth Registration gives the information for his marriage in 1959
Marginal note from Jürgen Ziebell's 1906 Birth Registration
gives the information for his marriage in 1959
What his new wife thought of her husband can only be imagined. According to Ziebell's birth registration, he married Eva Luise Auguste König in Schaidt/Pfalz (west of Karlsruhe and Ettlingen) on 14 February 1959. This was his first marriage, confirming again that he was not married to his previous "wife", the Soviet agent who ended up in Chile.

Despite the fact that Ziebell had been in custody since February 1962, however, he still managed to create a stir in prison by his association with the notorious Soviet mole Heinz Felfe.

Soviet Friends
Soviet mole Heinz Felfe (From SIGINT Chatter site)
Soviet mole Heinz Felfe
(From SIGINT Chatter site)
Felfe had been a department head in the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst - Federal Intelligence Service) under General Gehlen since the late 1940s. By 1951, however,  he was also definitely working for the Soviet KGB providing them with extremely valuable information, including the names of West German field officers. In the fall of 1961, he was arrested on suspicion of treason after a KGB defector, Anatoliy Golitsyn, provided enough information to identify Felfe as a Soviet spy.

Surprisingly, Felfe was not held in a maximum security facility but in a more relaxed prison facility where he had access to another prisoners. He received permission to leave his cell on weekends and play chess with three other prisoners in the prison library. Because chess requires such concentration (of course) the prison guards did not disturb the chess players and Felfe was able to have unmonitored conversations with the other players. These conversations could then be converted into contact with the outside world, since the other chess players were not as restricted in their communications.

One of these chess players was our friend Ziebell... Felfe was able to send coded messages through magazines shipped from the prison (cheap labour) which then made their way to the Soviets. He was also able to write letters to his mother in the GDR using secret ink (water and alum).

Felfe and Ziebell also concocted an escape plan in which they tried to make a replica of a gate key. Some of the other inmates (once released) eventually reported Felfe and Ziebell's antics. Felfe was transferred to another prison and both men were put into solitary confinement.

Felfe would eventually be traded back to the Soviets on 14 February 1969 at Herleshausen in return for 21 prisoners held by the Soviets. As for Ziebell... his legal appeal was heard by the Federal Supreme Court in June 1966 and dismissed.  It would appear that some of the charges were altered and sent back to the Regional Court for a new hearing and decision, including the costs of the appeal.

After that... Ziebell's trail disappears. Did he escape to Chile where his first "wife" had worked for the Soviets? Or did he try to make it to Sweden as suggested by his earlier visa application? It's rather hard to imagine that he was released from prison and then simply led a quiet, unassuming life in Germany.

It's a bit an anti-climactic conclusion to such a breath-taking story. As author Elzer noted: Ziebell possessed a beguiling charm with which he camouflaged his lack of conscience. While stirring the political currents of post-war Germany, Ziebell always sought to increase his own position - be it power, wealth or influence. The interesting thing is that even Elzer had to rely on second-hand information regarding Ziebell's time in Berlin and the Jewish passport fiasco. Surely there are records squirreled away in Berlin archives somewhere... just waiting to be discovered... some day.

Primary Sources
Herbert Elzer - Die Schmeisser Affäre - 2008 - I perused a copy of the book at the British Library this past May. Without an index, it was difficult to navigate although I did take dozens of pictures of key sections/pages in the book. Much of Ziebell's later career (1946-1963) comes from this book, although it also provided key bits of information on his wife and his 1930s adventures in Berlin.

Ancestry - genealogical records

Spiegel - 1947 01 11 - Loritz räumt auf - cleaning up the Bavarian denazification department
Spiegel - 1952 07 02 - Falsch wie die Taube - article about Hella Hubaleck
Spiegel - 1952 07 09 - Am Telefon vorsichtig - the bombshell Spiegel article
Spiegel - 1955 10 05 - Lieber Spiegelleser - the first two days of the trial in Hannover
Spiegel - 1955 10 26 - Schmeisser - retraction
Spiegel - 1955 12 14 - Ziebell nach vorn - Bundestag debate re Schmeisser Affair
Spiegel - 1963 06 05 - Wasser und Alaun - Heinz Felfe and Ziebell in prison
Spiegel - 2008 05 27 - Spione in der Staatskanzlei - Elzer's book on the Schmeisser Affair

Zeit - 1955 09 29 - Die Sache Schmeisser ad acta gelegt - the Hannover trial
Zeit - 1955 10 13 - Ein Dritter Mann im Spiel - suggests Paul Schmidt at the heart of Schmeisser Affair

Bundestag Sitzung #116 from 1955 12 07 - Adenauer answers questions re: Schmeisser (opens as a pdf)
Bundestag Sitzung #10 from 1958 02 12 - follow up on what became of Ziebell criminal proceedings (opens as a pdf)

Web cache page (12 June 2019) of Bundesgerichtshof ruling from 1966 - not sure how long this cached page will be available online - I printed a copy.

Secondary Sources
LTO - Legal Tribune Onlinee - 2012 10 21 - article on Schmeisser Affair
HLB - Historical Lexicon Bayern - Bavarian Sonderministerium
Munziger article - Bio stub on Ziebell - full article requires subscription or library access

Wikipedia - consulted articles on Jürgen Ziebell, Hans-Konrad Schmeisser, Heinz Felfe and others for background information