11 December 2017

Egon Rammrath through the eyes of Josef Jakobs

During his interrogations at Camp 020, MI5's secret wartime interrogation centre southwest of London, Josef Jakobs shared information about the black market passport business in which he was involved. One of the other characters in Josef's account was Egon Rammrath, son of Franz Rammrath. While not of great interest to MI5's interrogators, Rammrath's existence was confirmed by Frau Lily Knips, a Jewish woman who had briefly considered procuring a passport through the services of Josef Jakobs. She eventually managed to make it to England through her own means. She was questioned by MI5 and confirmed that an Egon Rammrath existed, although she rather thought he might be a member of the Gestapo and did not warm to him at all!

We've taken a look at what we could glean from Egon's background in the previous blog post. Here, I want to add some "colour" to Egon as seen through the lens of Josef Jakobs. It's most helpful to read the first post and then take a look at this one.

Egon Rammrath
Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896.  Egon is the young boy in front, between his grandmother(?) and mother. He would have been about 4-5 years old when this photograph was taken.  (From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96)  (from Google Books - hope link works)
Franz Rammrath and his family before 1896.
Egon is the young boy in front, between his grandmother(?) and mother.
He would have been about 4-5 years old when this photograph was taken.
(From Wilmersdorf by Udo Christoffel - Sutton Verlag, 1998 - p. 96)
(from Google Books - hope link works)
Egon's father, Franz Rammrath was a builder and a multi-millionaire. He had donated the land upon which St. Ludwig's Church sat in Wilmersdorf, as well as the land now known as Preussen Park. Egon had 6 brothers and sisters (surviving ones?) and his brothers hold important positions in the government.


Egon studied economics at Berlin University but with the outbreak of war joined the army and became an officer. During World War I, he was chief of the Spionageabwehrdienst (espionage service?) in the Berlin District. Josef thought he was an Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant).

During the hyper-inflation period in Germany (circa 1923), Egon lost most of his father's money. He dabbled in a number of business ventures: dealer in motor cards, financier, mortgage & house agent, dealer in pictures, manager of a "fashionable" Sportsclub. At some point, he was adopted by a Baron von Buchwald.

In the late 1920s or early 1930s, Egon went to the Bank für Deutsche Beamte and got a 2.5 million goldmark credit. Unfortunately, he speculated with this money and lost all of it thereby contributing to the bankruptcy of the Bank (the bank actually did go bankrupt in the late 1920s/early 1930s). Egon was tried, found guilty and sentenced to 9 months in prison but fled to Switzerland in 1933 or 1934 to escape his prison sentence. He was arrested by the Swiss authorities for suspicious financial dealings, spent 3 weeks in prison and was then deported to Germany where he served his 9 month prison sentence.

Josef met Egon in the early 1930s through Rudolf Hoch in connection with motor-corporations. Josef bought some Mexican bonds through Egon (this would have been 1932/1933) but then lost touch, likely because Egon decamped for Switzerland.

According to Josef, Egon was very well traveled and lived with his wife and children despite having been divorced for many years. Apparently, the divorce was for taxation reasons. Josef thought that Egon had one son who was in the Army and a daughter.

Josef found Egon to be, by nature, very egotistical, suspicious and insincere. He was anti-Semitic but Josef did not think he was a member of the Nazi Party.

Given the facts that we know from the genealogical information, Josef's account isn't too far off. Naturally, this is a picture of Egon filtered through Josef's own preconceptions and experiences. Still, it does give us a bit more information about a man who seems to have been a bit of a scoundrel, not unlike Josef himself!

Reference
National Archives - KV 2/27 file on Josef Jakobs.
Dealers in Black Market Passports - Josef Jakobs and Egon Rammrath - this blog site.

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