30 October 2019

Book Review - Bella: An Unsolved Murdery - Joyce M. Coley (2007)

Cover - Bella: An Unsolved Murder by Joyce M. Coley (2007)
Cover - Bella: An Unsolved Murder
by Joyce M. Coley (2007)
The Book
Bella: An Unsolved Murder. Joyce M. Coley. History in Print. 2007.

This book was written over 12 years ago by Joyce M. Coley, and is often quoted in Bella lore. I ordered a copy from Amazon and read it in less than an hour.

The book is more pamphlet than "book" comprising only 26 pages. It provides an overview of the case but has absolutely no references or footnotes, which makes its value rather limited. How much of what Coley writes is hearsay? How much is first-hand research from primary sources? Hard to say. In many respects then, this book is a compilation of anecdotes, facts, stories and rumours, all woven together into a rather disjointed whole.

Having said that, there are some accounts which are new in their thoroughness - for example the story of Warwick Aston Plant and his mother and the girl who played the piano in their pub (p. 10-12). I've come across bits and pieces of this story before, but the amount of detail presented by Coley is new.

Another account, that of Douglas Osborne and his post-war meeting with Canadian intelligence officers, is also quite extensive.  I admit to being perplexed as to how Canadian intelligence officers would have been permitted to (a) talk about secret matters such as Germans spies and (b) been permitted to take German Secret Service documents back to Canada.

Some of the details are a bit annoying though - for example on page 21, where she notes that journalist Matthew Gull found a reference to a spy called Clara in a Birmingham reference library. More detail would have been helpful.

And then there is some information which is completely false - for example on page 25, the story of the spy found dead in a Cambridge air shelter. This would Jan Willem ter Braak and Coley notes that "this man had letters sent from England, to families still in Germany, through the Red Cross". I have no idea where that information comes from as there is not a hint in ter Braak's files on any letters being found on his person, or in his effects.

Similarly, she notes that Jack Mossop's death certificate stats that he died from an overdose of drugs. This is not accurate and therefore makes me wonder how much of the book can be trusted.

This little booklet is interesting but I'm not entirely sure of how accurate the information is. It would seem to muddy the waters more than anything.

Review Score
4 out of 5 - interesting

25 October 2019

Conclusion - Black Market Passport Business

I started this series of blog posts several months ago and had no idea it would lead me on such an epic journey. The stories of those who sought to escape the clutches of the Nazis span the gamut of tragedy to triumph. I have found it exceedingly difficult and emotionally draining to dig into the archives trying to discover who lived and who died.

As for the stories of those who orchestrated this scheme... Christian Friedrich Jürgen Ziebell and Algoth Niska... words fail me. Perhaps Niska thought he was doing a "good" thing in selling passports to rich Jews desperate to leave Nazi Germany/Austria. I have read his own story of his adventures and he comes across as a schemer looking for his next adventure, preferably one where he could get paid handsomely. Selling fake Finnish passports to Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe ticked both of those boxes.

As for Jürgen Ziebell, he was simply in it for the money, of that I have no doubt. His career after the war is just more of the same - seeking wealth and power and using whatever legal or illegal means he could to achieve his aims.

For those who land on this post and want to read the whole series from start to finish, here are some links:

Overview of the passport business - as told by Josef Jakobs
Characters involved - has links to all of the clients as well as organizers of the passport scheme
Jürgen Ziebell - German lawyer, fake and fraud artist
Algoth Niska - Finnish bootlegger, smuggler and adventurer

21 October 2019

Johann Hans Wolpe & the Aleister Crowley Connection

Aleister Crowley in America (2017) by Tobias Churton (book cover from Amazon)
Aleister Crowley in America (2017)
by Tobias Churton
(book cover from Amazon)
 A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Josef Jakobs' information on Ziebell's attempt to secure Irish naturalisations for the Jews. The scheme involved two other men: Johann (Hans) Wolpe and Josef Emil Roos. During my research for that post, I came across some references to Wolpe in Google Books - specifically a book by Tobias Churton entitled: Aleister Crowley in America - Art, Espionage and Sex Magick in the New World (2017). Given that Google Books only provides snippets of information, I ordered a copy of Churton's book which arrived in the mail last week. Here's what I discovered...

The information on Wolpe is contained within Appendix I of the book and is a summary of the history of Simeon Leon Engers (Kennedy), the brother of Beatrice (Engers) Wolpe (wife of Johann Hans Wolpe).

As it turns out, Leon Engers was a painter who moved between Holland, Germany, the USA and Paris. He encountered Aleister Crowley as early as 1911 and apparently became involved with Crowley's spiritual sect, being known as Frater T.A.T.K.T.A. Leon became known for his "psychochrome" style (painting the sitters aura), his most famous being a painting of Crowley now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in England.

Edward Alexander ('Aleister') Crowley by Leon Engers Kennedy oil on canvas, 1917-1918 National Portrait Gallery NPG 6630
Edward Alexander ('Aleister') Crowley
by Leon Engers Kennedy
oil on canvas, 1917-1918
National Portrait Gallery NPG 6630
The information contained within Appendix I of the book was compiled by Frank van Lamoen, assistant curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. It is in the appendix that we find information on Johann Wolpe and his wife Beatrice. Beyond that, Churton's book has some brief comments about Leon Engers.

The appendix information is tantalising:
Beatrice's father ran a business (Firma M. Engers) out of Rotterdam but, from 1904-1918, the family apparently lived in Berlin at Kurfürstendamm 23 (or 24). The company had branches in London, Hull, Hamburg and Bremen.

On 13 June 1917, Beatrice Engers married Johann Wolpe in Berlin-Charlottenburg. I had always wondered how the two had met, given that Beatrice was Dutch but the fact that her family was living in Berlin now explains the connection.

In 1919, Beatrice's mother, Paula (Schwabacher) Engers) was living in Berlin at Uhlandstrasse 197, the same address as J.H. Wolpe & Co, likely Johann Wolpe's company.

In 1924, Leon Engers and his American wife, Catherine Elizabeth Reilly moved to Paris where Leon may have studied at the Sorbonne. The following year, 1925, Beatrice and Johann Wolpe also moved their family from Berlin to Paris. The Appendix notes that "banker Wolpe together with a certain Fritz Klekottka (Klikottka?) accused of swindle". I had gleaned that bit of information from Google Books, but there is additional information for the following years.

In 1934, Beatrice's mother, widow Paula (Schwabacher) Engers applied for Dutch citizenship while living in Paris. She had been born in Odessa (Ukraine) in 1867 of German parents and one might expect that her marriage to Mozes Engers would have given her Dutch citizenship, but apparently not.

In 1935, Johann Wolpe, while living in Paris, tired to sell forged shares. Three years later, on 3 February 1938, Beatrice and Johann moved to The Hague, living at Laan van Meerdervoort 377. They made a trip to Ostend on 27 August 1938 and on 26 September 1938, Beatrice's mother was staying with them in The Hague.

But all was not well between Beatrice and Johann. The following year, on 17 February 1939, the couple was divorced. Beatrice and her children moved to Ostend and it isn't clear what became of Johann Wolpe. This may explain why Beatrice and her daughter were deported to Auschwitz on the same day while Johann seems to have been handled separately.

Wolpe's association with Aleister Crowley would therefore seem to be quite tangential through his wife's brother.

I have reached out to Frank van Lamoen to see if he has additional information on Wolpe... stay tuned. [Update 2019 10 21 - I heard back from Frank van Lamoen and he kindly shared his sources for the Wolpe material - mostly Dutch newspaper articles. I will be working through them and putting together a follow-up article in the next few weeks.]

16 October 2019

Herr & Frau Reiwald - Berlin - Black Market Passport Business

There are two final key individuals involved in Ziebell's black market passport business in Berlin: Herr & Frau Reiwald. Both individuals were mentioned by Josef Jakobs and Lily Knips, but the details we have on them are very sketchy.

Information from Josef Jakobs & Lily Knips
Josef said that he introduced many rich Jews to Ziebell, one of them being Herr Reiwald who had been a client of Josef's dental practice in the early 1930s. According to Josef, his wife's step-father had told him that Reiwald was interested in leaving Germany and wanted to become Dutch. Elsewhere, Josef said that Reiwald wanted to become French, but that this was found to be impossible and that he then wished to become Cuban. This could have been arranged by Ziebell except for the fact that the whole group was arrested in October 1938. Josef noted that Reiwald only wanted to get Cuban naturalisation and did not need any assistance getting money out of Germany as he had already made arrangements to transfer funds to a brother-in-law in Italy.

Finally, Josef noted that he had been introduced to Lily Knips in May 1938 by a rich Jewish family named Reiwald. Lily confirmed this stating that she had been introduced to Josef by a Jewish lady named Frau Reiwald. This lady told Lily that Josef was a very clever man who could help her in financial matters and in securing a passport to leave Germany.

That isn't a lot to go on - no first names, no birth dates, nothing. All we know is that Herr & Frau Reiwald were rich, Jewish and that the husband had a brother-in-law in Italy.

A Clue from Lily's Address Book
After MI5 questioned Lily at her home, the borrowed her address book to try and trace all of the individuals listed therein. On their transcribed list of entries, there is one relevant entry:
  •  Rewald       (Edg. 3815)
                    70 Mowbray Rd
Next to this entry there is a penciled note by an officer: P.F. 55000. This is likely a reference to MI5's Personal File series. Many of the other entries have N.T. next to them (no trace), but this "Rewald" entry arouse some interest. A note attached to the transcript from Lily's address book states:
Arthur Marcus Israel Rewald and wife Elsa Sara, German Jews
70, Mowbray Road, Edgeware, Middlesex.
Arrived U.K. 28.8.39

Was a well known general exporter in Berlin. In 1937 was forced by the Jewish boycott to sell his business and went to Vienna. In July, 1939, they returned to Germany to clear up certain outstanding business and obtain current passports.

They are supported in this country by Mr. William Sandover, British, senior partner of William Sandover & Co., firm of exporters with whom Rewald formerly did business. In return for this, Rewald writes letters of introduction on behalf of this firm to his connections abroad.

Rewald has a sister Alice living in Portugal. She is married to Martin Rosenberg and their address is Avenida Defensores de Chaves, 139-3, Lisbon-Norte. This brother-in-law asked Rewald to communicate with a German schoolboy, Otto Herschan, now in this country, saying that the latter's father was well and asking for news of the boy and his mother via Rosenberg. It was in this connection that Rewald came to notice.

Nothing recorded to his detriment.
This information is intriguing but does it refer to the Herr & Frau Reiwald known to both Josef and Lily?  On the face of it, it seems unlikely.

The last name is spelled differently: Reiwald vs. Rewald. One would expect the officers of MI5 to ask both Lily and Josef for the correct spelling of the surname. Unlike Wolpe and Roos where there was some doubt as to how the names were spelled, there is no evidence of this with Reiwald.

The couple also seem to have been in Vienna from 1937 to July 1939, and would not have been in Berlin in the spring/summer of 1938 to introduce Lily and Josef to each other.

In addition, if Rewald and Reiwald were identical, one would have expected MI5 to have gone knocking on the door of 70 Mowbray Road with a view to confirming or denying aspects of Josef's story. There is no evidence of such a visit.

On the other hand, the mention of a Rosenberg in connection with Rewald is intriguing as one of the men involved in brokering a connection between Niska and Ziebell was named Herr Rosenberg (no forename). But Rosenberg is quite a common name and again, there is no evidence of these two individuals being one and the same.

In the end, we are left dangling and there is no firm evidence as to who Herr & Frau Reiwald were. There are several possibilities in the Berlin address books, but without something more concrete, their identity will likely remain unknown.

National Archives - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/25

11 October 2019

Irish Naturalisation - Johann Hans Wolpe, Josef Emil Roos and Lincoln Allan Smith - Black Market Passport Business

Jürgen Ziebell from Der Spiegel (1955)
Jürgen Ziebell from Der Spiegel (1955)
N.B. In May 2020 I downloaded some National Archives files on Arthur Albert Tester which, at first glance, have information that will require the below sections on Roos and Tester to be updated. Stay tuned...

Josef Jakobs was a client recruiter for lawyer Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin in 1937 and 1938. Josef would find rich Jews, desperate to escape Nazi Germany, who could then acquire passports, naturalisations or visas from Ziebell, for a fee.

One aspect of the business for which Josef had a fair bit of information was Irish naturalisations. These were apparently a failed initiative in which Ziebell partnered with two German expats: Wolpe and Roos. Josef's account allowed MI5 to identify both men, courtesy of MI6. According to Josef, Wolpe and Roos had worked with an Englishman named Lincoln Allan Smith, and this too was confirmed by MI6. This is the story of Wolpe, Roos and Smith.

What Josef told MI5
At the end of April 1941, Josef Jakobs gave the MI5 officers at Camp 020 a more detailed description of the black market passport business that Ziebell was running in Berlin. According to Josef, Hans Blum, a Jewish lawyer, introduced Ziebell to two men who could facilitate Irish naturalisations: Max [Josef was not sure about the forename] Wolpe and Josef Roos, both German emigres. Wolpe had apparently emigrated to Holland from Germany in 1938, while Roos had emigrated many years previously. While Wolpe was a very rich man, Roos was virtually penniless and lived off of Wolpe.

At the time of their meetings with Ziebell, both men were living in London. They would travel to Amsterdam where they would transact business with Ziebell. Josef said that Wolpe and Roos were connected with an English lawyer's office, one of whose partner's was named Smith. Josef also indicated that an English colonel was mixed up in the Irish naturalisation business but he couldn't remember the man's name. Nothing was ever known to the detriment of Smith and the mysterious English colonel, but the same could not be said about Wolpe and Roos.

Wolpe according to Josef
Between 1920 and 1928, Wolpe ran a business for financing transactons and was quite successful in getting connections to the German government, particularly with the German Postmaster General, Hoefle.

With Hoefle's assistance, Wolpe took over an important bank and obtained a large foreign credit through the German Imperial Post Office. According to Josef, Wolpe disappeared one day, leaving behind 10 million Gold Marks worth of debt. The authorities arrested Hoefle who committed suicide while in custody.

Wolpe had fled first to Holland, where he maintained a residence and then onwards to London. He claimed that he had been cheated by Hoefle and sued the German government for 30 million Reich Marks worth of damages. His case was dismissed and a warrant issued for his arrest.

After the Nazis came to power in Germany, Wolpe offered to forego his "lawful" claims if the authorities, in return, would allow him to return to Germany and take him into their service. The Nazis simply replied by sending out another warrant for his arrest.

According to Josef, Wolpe was quite a rich man who paid all of Ziebell's Amsterdam trip expenses. Wolpe had been warmly recommended to Ziebell by a bank in Amsterdam. Ziebell was also impressed that Wolpe still had a German passport, issued recently by the German Consulate General. Since it was practically impossible for a Jewish emigre to obtain a German passport abroad, Ziebell assumed that Wolpe must be very influential. Ziebell liked the sound of the Irish naturalisation business but wanted some evidence that it was actually feasible.

Apparently Wolpe knew a firm of lawyers in London, who knew the Mayor of Dublin, and arrangements could be made whereby a certain number of Jewish refugees could go to Dublin and become Irish. The cost was £600.

Wolpe chartered an aircraft and flew to Dublin with Roos and two Jews living in Holland. The trip was a spectacular failure and when the aircraft landed at Croydon aerodrome enroute from Dublin to Amsterdam, the English police arrested both Wolpe and Roos. They were released a few hours later but, upon their arrival in Holland, arrested by the Dutch Police.

Ziebell gave up the Irish naturalisation business after the unsuccessful negotiations in Dublin.

Josef has provided quite a bit of information but how much of it is actually true? I have confirmed that Anton Hoefle was the German Postmaster General and that he did indeed run afoul of the authorities after the Barmat Scandal. More on that later.

Roos according to Josef
As for Josef Roos, he had fled Germany after going bankrupt. He dabbled in fraudulent foreign exchange transactions. Roos apparently went to London, where he lived for many years, before being deported. Roos was virtually penniless and lived off of Wolpe.

Josef remembered reading in the ‘Neue Züricher Zeitung” in 1935 [while he was in a Swiss prison for gold counterfeiting] that Roos had been deported from England on account of the suspected murder of a girl of 28, who had been found dead in a flat in London. Josef did not know if this was the same Roos as Josef Roos.

Josef had never met Wolpe or Ross and did not know where they lived in London or whether they were still in England. Much of what Josef knew about Wolpe and Roos he had learned while being questioned by the Gestapo after his arrest in October 1938.

MI5 was naturally concerned about Wolpe, Roos, Smith and  the anonymous English colonel. They put out feelers with the Home Office and MI6.

What MI5 Discovered about Wolpe & Roos
MI5 began requesting traces of Wolpe and Roos through Special Branch and the Home Office, with very little success. Part of the difficulty lay in the fact that they weren't sure if it was Wolpe/Volpe or Roos/Rose.

By early June, Special Branch had dug up information on one Joseph Emil Roos, a German born on 27 January 1880 in Mosbach, Germany. Roos had first arrived in the UK on 22 November 1926 as a financial broker. On 28 December 1933, he was charged at Bow Street Police Court with failing to notify the authorities of particulars affecting the accuracy of the register. This may simply be that Roos, an alien, had moved residences but had not notified the authorities. It is also possible that the British suspected Roos of being in England for ulterior motives (spying) but had no hard evidence. Something similar had happened to Walter Simon in 1938 when he arrived in the UK illegally. Suspected of spying, Simon was deported. Roos, too, was recommended for deportation in lieu of a sentence and was deported on 13 January 1934. So Josef was partially correct - Roos had been deported but not for murdering anyone.

As for Wolpe, Special Branch had tracked down a Hans Max Joachim Wolpe, born 17 June 1918 in Berlin and residing at 33 Drayton Gardens in South Kensington. Hans Wolpe was a student who had arrived in the UK on 20 October 1934 (16 years old) and landed unconditionally. His registration card had been marked "disappeared" on 18 March 1940 and he could not be traced. The MI5 officers did not think that this was the same man as the one described by Josef. As we shall learn later, this was actually the son of the Wolpe involved in the passport business.

Two days after Josef's execution, on 17 August 1941, MI5 received more information about Wolpe, Roos and Smith from MI6.

MI6 was quite confident that the Smith referred to by Josef was one Lincoln Allen Smith, born in London on 19 February 1890. On 13 July 1938, Smith had visited the Passport Control Office in The Hague with a view to sponsoring the visa applications of Emil Josef Roos and Johann Hans Wolpe. Smith gave two London addresses: 22 Vallence Road, London N.22 and 21 Greek Street, London, W.1. Smith described himself as a citizen and horner [more on this later] and came across as a very plausible and unprepossessing individual.

Smith produced a letter signed by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, concerning a loan to the Corporation of Dublin, which was for development purposes. Smith indicated that Roos and Wolpe were prepared to invest a considerable sum of money into a pending Dublin Corporation loan and were also negotiating the purchase of a Dublin brewery. Smith said that Wolpe and Roos were acting on behalf of a wealthy group and that he was quite satisfied as to their bona-fides.

Josef did indeed have some of the details of the story correct, although it almost sounds as if Wolpe and Roos were trying to bribe their way into securing Irish naturalisations.

According to MI6, Emil Josef Roos was a German, born on 27 January 1880 in Mosbach. He had a German passport issued 14 October 1931 and valid until 14 October 1941. He resided at Frankenslag 126 in The Hague. He visited Holland at infrequent intervals and was concerned in a financial business in Düsseldorf. He had apparently lost a considerable amount of money in the past. He was a close friend of Wolpe.

As for Wolpe, MI6 discovered that Johann Hans Wolpe was a German financier, born on 3 July 1887 in Libau, Lithuania. He had a German passport issued 15 February 1938 in Rotterdam which was valid until 15 February 1943. Wolpe was married to Beatrice née Engers, a German, born in Amsterdam on 5 June 1894. The fact that Wolpe, a Jewish German emigre had obtained a passport in Holland in 1938 is indeed remarkable, particularly given his earlier history with Hoefle, the Barmat Scandal and absconding with a significant amount of money. As we shall see later, Wolpe had a tangential relationship with the German Abwehr's operatives in Holland.

Wolpe had been the owner of a bank in Berlin for many years but left Germany in 1937 and settled in The Hague where he lived at Laan van Meerdervoort 337. He was quite wealthy and engaged in financial transactions with the assistance of "Rodins Koenigs Handel Mij" in Amsterdam. At the time of MI6's report, this bank was on the statutory black list as it was known as being a very pro-Nazi business.

I can find no trace of Rodins Koenigs Handel, and it is probably a spelling/phonetics/transcription error on the part of the British with the business likely being "N.V. Rhodius Koenigs Handel Maatschap" [N.V. Rhodius Koenigs Trading Company] of Amsterdam. As we shall see, this company did indeed have Nazi and Abwehr connections.

Rhodius Koenigs Handel Maatschap
Franz Koenigs from Wikipedia
Franz Koenigs from Wikipedia
This company was founded after the First World War by Franz Koenigs (1881-1941), a German banker and a Belgian named Felix Robertus Hermann Rhodius (1881-1959). The two men were distantly related by marriage: Franz Koenigs was the son of  Ernst Friedrich Wilhelm Koenigs and Johanna Bunge. Felix Rhodius was born in Antwerp, Belgium, the son of Richard Rhodius and Jenny Laetitia Antonia Schoeller. Felix married Sophie Laura Bunge, a second or third cousin of Johanna Bunge, the mother of Franz Koenigs. Rhodius and Koenigs were savvy businessmen and saw great financial opportunity in the aftermath of the First World War.

After the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had faced trade restrictions with France and Great Britain, restrictions that did not exist with, and via, The Netherlands. The company circumvented the trade restrictions and functioned as a banking company which provided loans to German industry. One of Rhodius's relatives, Alfred Flesche, was named attorney for the business, and from 1926 to 1939, he served as one of the company's directors.

Alfred Flesche was born 24 March 1892 in Rheinbrohl near Neuwied. In 1921, in Linz am Rhein (near Neuwied), Flesche married Adele Auguste Elise Rhodius (born 1891), the daughter of Walter Rhodius and Anna née Grebel from Haarlem (Holland). Some sites state that Flesche had married the daughter of Felix Rhodius, while others indicate that he married the sister of Felix Rhodius but this is unlikely given the genealogical information on Felix and Adele. It is possible that Felix and Adele's fathers (Richard and Walter Rhodius) were siblings, but I haven't been able to confirm that. At the time of his marriage, Alfred Flesche was serving as an Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) with the Königlichen Gruppenkommando I in Berlin (army group command). This may have been a staff officer position.

In 1936, Alfred Flesche was named the chairman of the German Chamber of Commerce (Deutsche Handelskammer) in Amsterdam. His official job was to strengthen trade relations between The Netherlands and Germany. His unofficial job, apparently, was a bit more sinister. According to MI6, the Deutsche Handelskammer in Amsterdam was a known cover for German espionage activities. MI6 believed that Flesche was the head agent in Amsterdam of Hauptmann W. Schulze-Bernett, Konsulatssekretär (Consulate Secretary) of the German Legation in The Hague. Schulze-Bernett, himself, was a representative of the O.K.W. Intelligence Service in Holland, i.e. a member of the German Abwehr. Interestingly enough, Schulze-Bernett had also worked for several banking companies in Amsterdam from 1920-1935 so it would come as no surprise that he would have connections with Rhodius Koenigs and Flesche. It was apparently Flesche's job to infiltrate Dutch businesses in Holland and some sites list him as the Leiter of Abwehr Gruppe I/Wissenschaft in The Netherlands, the branch associated with acquiring economic intelligence.

In 1939, Rhodius Koenigs received word from the British Consulate that, if they wished to avoid being blacklisted by the British, they should remove Flesche as a company director as he was a known member of the Nazi Party (having joined in 1933). In September 1939, Flesche resigned as director of Rhodius Koenigs, but this did little to help the company as they were still blacklisted by the British.

On 5 May 1940, shortly before the German invasion of Holland, Flesche was arrested by the Dutch police and his house in Haarlem searched. The police found an envelope full of secret messages for Otto Butting, the Leiter of Abwehr Gruppe I/Heer in The Netherlands. Butting was a fanatical Nazi official who was cultural attache with the German Consulte but also the head of the Reichsdeutsche Gemeinschaft in The Netherlands, a cover for the Nazi Party. Butting had organised quite a Fifth Column in Holland, and had an extensive network of spies. While his reports often passed across the desk of Schulze-Bernett, the head the Abwehr's Ast Nederlands in The Hague, the two did not not see eye-to-eye. Butting was apparently quite hated by members of the German Legation, including Schulze-Bernett who did not approve of Nazi methodologies.

In early April 1940, an official German envelope was found on the streets of The Hague and handed in to the Dutch police. It contained espionage reports on Dutch defences and included Butting's name. He was given a few hours to leave the country, unbeknownst to Flesche.

After the invasion of Holland in May 1940, the police and court records surrounding Flesche's arrest were confiscated by the Germans. Apparently the documents found on Flesche included "very important drawings covering almost the entire military defense system of our country".

Flesche also became involved in the famous Jewish financial firm of Lippman, Rosenthal & Co. when it was "acquired" by the Nazis (more information can be found in the Sources). In 1944, after the Allied landings at Arnhem, Flesche fled with his mistress to Linz am Rhein. After the war the Dutch authorities requested Flesche's surrender from the British Zone as a war criminal, on charges of robbery and blackmail with threats of violence. The request was granted and Flesche was prosecuted and convicted for his dangerous pre-war activities as a member of the German Fifth Column. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for espionage. His divorced wife passed away in 1949 in Linz am Rhein.

It is rather interesting that Johann Hans Wolpe would have had a close relationship with the Rhodius Koenigs company, thereby having a tangential relationship with a high-ranking agent of the Abwehr, Alfred Flesche. Given Wolpe and Roos's repeated trips to the United Kingdom as part of their financial dealings, one could wonder if they might have been approached by the Abwehr to keep their eyes during their travels. The Abwehr often recruited traveling businessmen and it wouldn't surprise me if Wolpe and Roos had been approached. It is also quite suspicious that Wolpe would have been granted a German passport in Rotterdam in 1938 given his history and the fact that he was a German-Jewish expat.

Final MI6 Note on Roos
MI6 concluded their report on Wolpe and Roos by noting that, in December 1940, Joseph Emil Roos had been in Greece, working "hand in glove" with A.A. Tester in several very shady financial transactions. Tester was a known pro-Nazi and while Roos was reported to be anti-Nazi, he was, according to MI6, a German at heart and not above doing business with Germany if he could turn a profit.

Arthur Albert Tester was born 23 August 1895 in Stuttgart to Fred Tester, an English Jew who worked as English Consul, and Emma Kauffelin, a German. At the outbreak of the First World War, A.A. Tester was apparently put in a concentration camp for Englishmen but later claimed that he held no ill will against the Germans, his sympathies lying wholly with Germany. In 1918, Tester married Bertha Balbina Lisbeth Ingeborg Stube (née Alt) in Wiesbaden. The couple had four children but at some point the couple went their separate ways, perhaps due to divorce or Bertha's death.

Tester's activities in the 1920s are a bit murky. In 1927 he was apparently expelled from France for espionage. Around 1930 he moved to England and infiltrated the upper echelons of society. He lived with a woman named Charlotte (a former night club torch singer) who he may (or may not) have married but with whom he had another two children. [This may be Charlotte E. Ueckert who married an Arthur A. Tester in 1929 in London.]

Arthur apparently acquired British citizenship and in the pre-war years, bought a yacht upon which he gave elegant parties. He apparently also sailed the yacht close to German territorial waters and transmitted information to the Germans. After the Second World War, one Abwehr officer noted that the Germans penetrated British Intelligence through the use of an English banker named Tester.

Arthur Albert Tester (from Romanian Hunedorean Newspaper site)
Arthur Albert Tester
(from Romanian Hunedorean
Newspaper site
According to the National Archives catalogue, Dr Arthur Albert Tester was involved with the British Union of Fascists before the Second World War and negotiated with the German National Socialist Party. This brought him to the attention of MI5 and Scotland Yard who wrote to the Berlin police seeking information on Tester. In June 1939, the Berlin police wrote a reply, informing Special Branch that Tester was a "dangerous international swindler".  Apparently Tester's wealth was acquired by less than legal means. He had a history of starting up bogus businesses, fleecing clients/investors, declaring bankruptcy and absconding with the funds.

In late 1938, after the waters got too hot for Tester in England (word of his bogus companies was coming to light), Tester moved himself and his family out of England and eventually settled in Athens and then Romania. He apparently became involved with the Abwehr (and/or the Gestapo) in counter-espionage activities in Romania and Greece.

Tester was reported killed along the Romanian border in 1944, but there are also reports that he faked his death and escaped to Hungary. His will was probated in 1955 by his sister, Nelly Alice Lucy Ann Tester, spinster.

What was Josef Emil Roos doing with Arthur Albert Tester in Greece, a man who was possibly a double agent for the Germans and the Allies? It is rather interesting to note that not only did Wolpe have tangential espionage links, but Roos had some much more clear-cut links to a known German agent who spied against the British.

The ultimate question is: what became of Roos and Wolpe and their tangential relationships with Abwehr operatives?

The Fate of Josef Emil Roos
Josef Emil Roos was born 27 January 1880 in Mosbach to Martin Roos and his wife Maria Schweitzer and baptised Catholic. Josef died 3 January 1944 in Mauthausen concentration camp at the age of 63. He had apparently been arrested for political reasons (he does not appear to have been a Jew) and arrived at the camp on 9 December 1943. According to his death registration, Roos was divorced and living in Spalato in Dalmatia (now Split, Croatia), which aligns somewhat with MI6's information which had him in Greece in 1940. Roos was a Kaufmann (merchant) and he died of Kreislaufschwäche (circulatory weakness). What could be the "political reasons" for his arrest and detention in a concentration camp? Espionage does come to mind, particularly if the Germans got wind of Tester's role as a possible double agent.

The Fate of Johann Hans Wolpe
As for Johann Hans Wolpe, he married Beatrice Engers in 1917 in Berlin. The couple had three children:
  • Hans Max Joachim Wolpe - born 1918 in Berlin (this is the same individual who, according to MI6 had been living in England as a student in the 1930s - more on him below)
  • Alexander Hermann Wilhelm Wolpe - born 1921 in Berlin
  • Lihana Wolpe - born 1926 in Paris
Josef had mentioned that Wolpe had operated a bank in Berlin for several years and this is confirmed by several independent sources, including a 1923 Berlin address book which lists Wolpe as a bank director living at Westfälische Straße 59 in Berlin-Halensee.

Josef had noted that Wolpe had engaged in a financial transaction with the German Imperial Post Office, with the assistance of the German Postmaster General, Anton Hoefle. According to Josef, Wolpe disappeared one day, leaving behind 10 million Gold Marks worth of debt.

A bit of research confirms that Anton Hoefle was arrested in 1925 for corruption and committed suicide later that year while still in custody. Apparently Hoefle had advanced millions in unsecured loans to the Jewish Barmat brothers who had lost the funds through speculation.

While there is no direct mention of Wolpe in many of the Barmat Scandal references, one Kansas newspaper noted that "it was strongly doubted whether the amounts advanced to the Barmat Brothers and other financial operators [emphasis added] would be recovered either wholly or in part". The total funds Hoefle had loaned from postal surpluses was around 60 million Gold Marks. It is possible that Wolpe was one of the "other financial operators".

On 30 March 1928, three of the five Barmat brothers were acquitted of the charges against them while two brothers, Julius and Henry, were found guilty of bribery and served several months imprisonment. The verdict was seen in some circles as a political compromise as the brothers should have been completely acquitted particlarly "after evidence was submitted that the Barmat affair was created by reactionary elements to serve their political purposes and to ruin the Barmat banking interests".

Wolpe is not the easiest person to trace but, after much searching, I did come across a small reference in one book which noted that:
The second case dealt with a letter of recommendation from [Foreign Minister Gustav] Stresemann and his support for a meanwhile fugitive bank director named Wolpe, who had cheated the Reich Ministry of Transport for a large amount of gold and the Reich Ministry of Posts for 5 million borrowed money. (Geyer, 2019) [Thank you Google Translate]
This passage confirms much of what Josef had to say about Wolpe - that he was a bank director, that he absconded with funds borrowed from the German Post Office and that it somehow involved Hoefle. The fact that Wolpe's third child, Lihana, was born in Paris in 1926, also suggests that something happened which had Wolpe leaving Germany around the time of the Barmat Scandal.

Aleister Crowley in America (cover) by Tobias Churton
Aleister Crowley in America (cover)
by Tobias Churton
I also came across a few tantalizing references to Wolpe in a book by Tobias Churton entitled Aleister Crowley in America: Art, Espionage, and Sex Magick in the New World. Crowley is a mysterious character in his own right, but not the topic of this blog post. I could not access the full references to Wolpe via Google Books but did find these tidbits in Churton's book:
1921 - Aug 28, 1921, Berlin, Wilmersdorf, Alexander Herman Wilhelm Wolpe born, son of Beatrice Engers & Johann Wolpe

1925 - Beatrice Engers & Johann Wolpe move from Berlin to Paris; banker Wolpe, together with a certain Fritz Klekottka (Klikottka?) accused of swindle [I have been unable to trace anything on Fritz Klekottka]

1935 - Johann Wolpe in Paris, tries to sell forged shares
This information jives with the Hoefle story, and confirms that Wolpe and his family moved from Berlin to Paris in 1925, the year that Hoefle was arrested. The fact that Wolpe was still in Paris in 1935 is intriguing. Did he and his family stay there that entire time? Or did he move around? It also sounds like Wolpe was not an upstanding banker but engaged in his own fair share of shady deals.

I also found a passenger list for Wolpe who traveled from Southampton to New York in February/March 1928. He was traveling without his family and gave his occupation as banker. He was a German citizen, born in Latvia, who was a resident of Paris, France, living at 52 Avenue de la Bourdonnais.

Around 1937 or 1938, Wolpe apparently moved his family to Holland and got involved with the Rhodius-Koenigs bank, Jürgen Ziebell and the Irish naturalisation business. It doesn't take much to understand MI6's interest in Wolpe. He was involved with a Dutch bank with obvious Nazi (and espionage) ties. He was attempting to faciliate the emigration/naturalisation of German/Dutch Jews into Ireland. It could be viewed as a pretty nice cover for infiltrating spies into Ireland.

In 1939, the Nazi regime annuled Wolpe's German citizenship with his last known address having been Westfälische Straße 59 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. Clearly the Nazis hadn't been able to track Wolpe through his many misadventures. The question becomes, what became of Wolpe and his family after 1939? It is a tragic story.

Wolpe's second son, Alexander Hermann Wilhelm Wolpe, a hotel server, was deported from Düsseldorf, Germany to Theresienstadt concentration camp on 25 July 1942. He was transferred from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz on 8 September 1943. His date of death is unknown.

Wolpe's wife and daughter, Beatrice (nee Engers) Wolpe and Lihana Wolpe, were both deported from Mecheln, Belgium to Auschwitz on 26 September 1942. Their dates of death are unknown.

Wolpe himself was deported from Westerbork Transit Camp, Holland to Auschwitz on an unknown date. He died in Auschwitz on 6 March 1944.

As for Wolpe's first son, Hans Max Joachim Wolpe, his story also has a sad ending, it just took longer.

Hans Max Joachim Wolpe
The eldest child of Johann and Beatrice Wolpe managed to escape the Shoah, as hinted at by the MI6 report. Hans Max Joachim Wolpe was born 17 June 1918 in Charlottenburg, Berlin. From MI6, we know that he arrived in the UK in October 1934 and that his last known residence was 33 Drayton Gardens in South Kensington. By the time they tried to track him down in 1940, after he hadn't been processed through the alien internment tribunals, he was no longer living there and had, to all intents and purposes, disappeared.

It turns out that Hans Max Joachim Wolpe had returned to the Continent and, in May 1940, was working as a longshoreman in Antwerp, Belgium. While the rest of his family was shipped off to concentration camps, Wolpe was assigned to a slave labour battalion. In September 1944, Wolpe was helping to build German pill boxes around Calais. He somehow managed to escape across enemy lines and approached the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. After convincing them that he was not a spy, he was allowed to join the RWR as an unofficial soldier and took part in an attack on Calais during which he captured over 40 German soldiers from three pill boxes. Wolpe was granted the unofficial rank of Corporal and continued to fight wiht the RWR until the spring of 1945 when one of his legs was shattered by machine gun fire. Wolpe was evacuated to a hospital in London and in February 1946 arrived in Winnipeg as a hero and a Canadian citizen.

Hans Max Joachim (John) Wolpe Rockford Morning Star 1963
Hans Max Joachim (John) Wolpe
Rockford Morning Star 1963
Wolpe received his Bachelor degree with honours from the University of Manitoba and a doctorate from Harvard. Wolpe taught modern languages at Stanford and in 1961 moved to Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois where he chaired the Department of Modern Languages.

On 1 May 1963, Wolpe shot himself with a .38 calibre handgun. He was apparently depressed by his divorce the previous year and likely his separation from his three children who lived in California with his ex-wife. Wolpe was 45 years old.

After all of Wolpe's adventures, it's a tragic end for a man who had endured so much and had so much to live for. He had married Vera Wendel in 1954 in California. Vera had been born 8 May 1933 in Austria, the daughter of  Rudolf Pierre Wendel and Rose Natalie Hirschberg who emigrated to the USA in 1934.

We have reached the end of this rather complex story of Wolpe and Roos, one that is still quite incomplete. All that is left to investigate is their Britsh partner, Lincoln Allan Smith.

Lincoln Allan Smith
Josef Jakobs had mentioned an Englishman named Smith who had been brokering a connection between Wolpe/Roos and the Mayor of Dublin. MI6 was able to confirm that this gentleman would undoubtedly be Lincoln Allan Smith who had approached the Passport Control Office in The Hague in July 1938 with a view to sponsoring the visa applications of Wolpe and Roos. Smith came across as a very plausible and unprepossessing individual who described himself as a citizen and a horner. MI6 also provided Smith's birthdate which gives us a solid jumping off point.

Lincoln Allan Smith was born 19 February 1890 in Wood Green, Middlesex to Cornelius Smith (1855-1899?) and Elizabeth Hannah Arnold (1856-?). The couple had six children in total of which Lincoln was the second youngest. Cornelius passed away sometime between 1891 and 1901, possibly in 1899 in Edmonton, Middlesex. Two years later, in 1901, Lincoln was attending school in Eton at the British Orphan Asylum, Slough, Buckinghamshire. By 1911, Lincoln was back home in Wood Green, Middlesex living with his mother and five siblings:
  • Elizabeth Hanna Smith - head - age 53
  • Marion Smith - daur - age 28 - record clerk for a typewriter company
  • Arnold Frederick Smith - son - age 23 - bank clerk
  • Lincoln Allan Smith - son - age 21 - clerk for Marine Insurance Company
  • Cornelius Sydney Smith - son - age 18 - clerk for precious stone merchant
  • Lillian Connie Stead - grand-daughter - age 6 (daughter of Jesse Jenny Mary Smith and Joseph Exley Stead)
West Yorkshire Regiment cap badge
West Yorkshire Regiment cap badge
With the outbreak of war, Lincoln enlisted with the West Yorkshire Regiment and by 1915 was commissioned a temporary Second Lieutenant with the Second Battalion. He then moved up to Second Lieutenant with the WYR. In 1916, he was attached to the 15th Field Company of the Royal Engineers for some weeks but rejoined the Second Battalion of the West Yorkshire Rregiment in
July 1916 after the Battle of the Somme.

Earlier that same year, on 28 January 1916, Lincoln had married Daisy Hilda Lasbury (b. 1895) in Southwark, Surrey. After the war, the couple would have two daughters: Doreen Smith (born 1919 in Barnet, Hertfordshire) and Iris M. Smith (born 10 Dec 1922 in Edmonton, Middlesex).

coat of arms of  the Worshipful Company of Horners
coat of arms of  the
Worshipful Company of Horners
On 3 December 1924, Smith submitted an applicaton to the Freedom of the City to be admitted to the Company of Horners. He gave his occupation as insurance broker and the application was approved in January 1925. This would explain a rather cryptic reference in the MI6 notes in which, when Smith appeared in The Hague, stated that he was a citizen and a "horner". This would be a reference to one of the Livery Companies of the City of London - the Company of Horners. This seems be a centuries long tradition in the City of London involving guilds and the privileges granted to them by the city.

Three years later, in 1927, Smith was involved in the establishment of the British Surety Insurance Company, Ltd and was listed as Managing Director. The chairman was The Right Honourable Lord Askwith K.C.B., K.C. and the company seems to have gotten off to a good start. In 1929, however, the company was involved in a court case: Kaufman vs. British Surety Insurance. The insured (Kaufman) had had a motor vehicle accident and was denied an award by the company. The case went to court and the judge ruled in favour of the insured (Kaufman). This was likely not a good verdict for the company and the following year, on 12 May 1930, the court issued an order to "wind up". The company would be struck off the register in 1938.

Four years later, on 9 June 1934, Smith set sail for Quebec City aboard the Empress of Britain. Smith gave his occupation as merchant and his address as Lincoln House E.C.3 (London) at the premises of Lincoln Allan Smith & Co. Interestingly, the Electoral Register for 1934 has Smith and his wife registered at 35 Crutched Friars E.C.3 while listing their abode as 22 Vallance Road. There are multiple individuals with the same address (35 Crutched Friars) but different abodes, not something I've come across before in the Electoral Registers. On 5 July 1934, Smith arrived back from Quebec and gave his address as 35 Crutched Friars, London, c/o Westminster Bank Ltd, Piccadilly Brand.

A few months later, on 16 October 1934, Smith was again in the courts, this time as a creditor requesting the winding up of Callie & Company. The company had been struck off the register of companies in 1924 but it isn't clear what interest Smith would have had in the company.

From the MI6 documents, we know that Smith apparently traveled to The Hague to vouch for Wolpe and Roos. What could have inspired him to get involved in something like the Irish naturalisation scheme is a complete mystery. In September 1939,  Smith was living at 39 Leaside Avenue in north London with his wife, Hilda, their two daughters, Doreen and Iris, as well as Hilda's widowed mother, Elisabeth Lasbury (b. 1863). Smith gave his occupation as insurance broker, so the failure of the British Surety Insurance company obviously hadn't ended his career.

Smith was 50 years old at the outbreak of the war but this did not exclude him from being called up. On 24 January 1940, he was granted a commission as a Pilot Officer (on probation) in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force. A year later, on 18 January 1941, Smith was granted the war substantative rank of Flying Officer, but his fortunes were about to change. During the spring and summer of 1941, MI5 was interrogating Josef and MI6 was following up on some of the information he provided. Smith's involvement with Wolpe and Roos came to light in the summer of 1941 and may have impacted his military career. On 23 July 1941, Smith resigned his commission as Flying Officer.

Beyond that, we don't know what happened to him. Was he questioned by MI6 or MI6 about Wolpe and Roos and the Irish naturalisation business? Wolpe was associated with a German-Dutch bank that had Nazi and intelligence ties. Roos was associated with the infamous A.A. Tester, a half-German banker who had ties to Nazi intelligence. The only evidence we have that Smith was hauled in by the British security services is two marginal notes.

"Filed in P.F. 46708 SMITH 50A" Marginal note from National Archives Security Service file on Josef Jakobs KV 2/25 104a
"Filed in P.F. 46708 SMITH 50A"
Marginal note from National Archives Security Service file on Josef Jakobs
KV 2/25 104a
The first marginal note states that the MI6 report on Smith/Wolpe/Roos was filed in P.F. 46708 SMITH 50A. A second martinal note states that a follow-up report was filed in P.F. 46708 SMITH 51A.

It would seem that Lincoln Allan Smith had a Personal File in MI5's registry, with quite a few documents judging by the folio numbers (50A and 51A). There is no evidence that Smith's file has ever been released to the National Archvies by MI5. They may still hold it... or it may have been destroyed.

As for Smith... His wife Daisy passed away in 1947 in Edmonton, Middlesex. Smith himself passed away in 1957 in Brighton, Sussex.

The story of Ziebell, Wolpe, Roos and Smith is unfinished and, while revealing many tantalising details, has left us with a host of unanswered questions.

Was Wolpe coerced/encouraged to work for the German intelligence services? Given that Roos was tied to Albert Arthur Tester, was he also involved in espionage? Why was Roos interned in a concentration camp for political reasons? What role did Lincoln Allan Smith play with these two men of questionable integrity? Why did he resign his Flying Officer commission? Why does/did he have a fairly significant MI5 file?

At this point, I have no answers but I have ordered the Aleister Crowley in America book with some hope that it will shed some light on Wolpe's time in Paris... stay tuned.

Franz Koenigs official site
Dutch site - NRC.nl - article in Dutch about Rhodius Koenigs - mentions the the resignation of Alfred Flesche
International Law Reports - via Google Books - Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases for the Year 1949; H. Lauterpachthas (ed.), published 1955. Has a piece about the prosecution of Alfred Flesche after the war
Joodsamsterdam site - info on Flesche
Lippman-Rosenthal - blog post about Flesche's involvement with the Jewish financing firm Lippman, Rosenthal & Co.

Dejong Book - in Dutch - mentions Otto Butting
Abwehr Activities in The Netherlands - lists the individuals in charge of each Abwehr Gruppe
DeJong book - German Fifth Column in Holland - 1953 - Otto Butting
British Clandestine Activities in Romania during the Second World War, Dennis Deletant, 2016 - opens as a pdf - has several paragraphs on A.A. Tester
Romanian site on Arthur Albert Tester - in Romanian
German Wikipedia page on Arthur Albert Tester

Barmat Scandal - Wikipedia
Kapitalismus und politische Moral in der Zwischenkriegszeit oder: Wer war Julius Barmat? - 2018 by Martin H. Geyer - accessed via Google Books

Winnipeg Free Press - 1946 newspaper articles on Hans Joachim Max Wolpe
Rockford Morning Star - 1963 newspaper article on Hans Joachim Max Wolpe's death
Interview with Lisa Wolpe - daughter of Hans Max Joachim Wolpe 

07 October 2019

Martin Goldstein & Emil Dochnal - Black Market Passport Business

Preamble to Dochnal, Rosenberg & Goldstein
Another blog in my series focused on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin during the Second World War. I highly recommended that you read my earlier blog for an overview of the sale of black market passports to Berlin Jews, as related by Josef Jakobs and Frau Lily Knips. Another key blog reviews the characters involved in the business which had several strands including Finnish and Irish passports. I am currently writing a blog series about the Jews who purchased forged Finnish passports via the Finnish smuggler, Algoth Niska. It was only in late September 1938 that Niska apparently made a deal whereby Ziebell purchased a batch of forged Finnish passports for his Jewish clients. As it turns out, Niska was selling forged passports to unsuspecting Jews all through July and August 1938 telling them that he was an official of the Finnish government or a Finnish policeman or... He was none of those things and you can read more about Niska in an earlier blog.

A key source for these stories is the 2009 Finnish thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen which I roughly translated with the help of Google Translate. It provides names and birth dates of Niska's clients which has been invaluable in tracing these individuals with certainty. Another key document was the MI6 report on Niska's activities, contained within one of the Security Service files on Josef Jakobs. These documents and a variety of genealogical sites form the backbone of the stories...

Individuals with a birth date are generally traceable, but not always. Part of the problem lies in the limits of genealogical resources which are rich for the UK, USA and, to some extent, Germany and Austria, but less so for other countries. For example, there isn't much online genealogical information for France, Switzerland, Palestine, Cuba, the Balkans or the Nordic countries. If Jewish refugees took any of these paths to freedom... they don't leave much of a trace. In many instances, no news is actually good news.

I am going to begin each individual story with the information from the Laitinen thesis and the MI6 report, as these provide a factual leaping off point.

Today, we are looking at three men who apparently facilitated the connection between Algoth Niska and Jürgen Ziebell. These men are: Emil Dochnal, Martin Goldstein and a Jew named Rosenberg. The men only receive brief mentions in Laitinen's thesis but Josef Jakobs gives more information in the MI5 interrogation reports. Finally, Frau Lily Knips, a German Jewess refugee who knew Josef Jakobs and considered purchasing a passport from Ziebell, shared some key information about Martin Goldstein.

Background Information from Laitinen, Jakobs and Knips
Laitinen Thesis: At the end of September 1938, Niska had a bunch of blank passports in his possession and wanted to unload them as quickly as possible. Niska apparently told the Finnish State Police (after his arrest) that he met two men in Berlin, Rabau and Rosenthal, who agreed to deliver two of the forged passports to their own contacts. Laitinen notes that the names Rabau and Rosenthal appear in none of the other archival documents and he wondered if Niska had perhaps altered the names of the men.

Later, when discussing the passports Niska sold to Ziebell, and the arrest of Ziebell's clients, Laitinen notes that Ernst & Clara David's passports were obtained by police when they arrested an unknown Jew named Dochnahl.

MI6 Report: No mention of any of the men.

What Josef Said: In describing the black market passport business, Josef Jakobs made a few comments about Dochnal, Rosenberg and Goldstein.

Josef said that he got to know Martin Goldstein through a Jewish lawyer named Dr. Schwarz of Königstraße 41. Goldstein was a man "in very comfortable circumstances". He had a large textile business and employed over two hundred workers. Josef said that he introduced Ziebell to Goldstein who placed his many connections at Ziebell's disposal, free of cost. Josef stressed that Goldstein was the only one who really worked idealistically for his beliefs and his fellow-race (i.e. the Jews).

Goldstein worked with a man called Emil Dochnal (an Aryan) of Prinz-Regentenstraße 77 who had agents in various countries. Dochnal, in turn, worked with a Jew called Rosenberg (no forename). Through Goldstein and Dochnal, Ziebell was able to put forward naturalisation applications for Cuba as well as visas for South America (primarily Uruguay and Paraguay). Dochnal was apparently friendly with the son of the Uruguayan Consul in Berlin.

Goldstein also facilitated the connection with Niska for Finnish naturalisations. According to Josef, the Finnish agents (Niska and another man) met with Rosenberg who then connected with Dochnal who connected with Ziebell. It seems a rather convoluted arrangement although much of what Josef had to say about the Finnish passports was gleaned after his own arrest and subsequent interrogation and trial.

Josef said that the only time he met Dochnal was after their arrest when the Gestapo confronted the two men with each other. Josef noted that nothing detrimental could be said about Goldstein or Dochnal. According to Josef, he and Martin Goldstein were released from the concentration camp on the same day. Goldstein emigrated to Russia in July 1940.

What Lily Knips said
Lily Knips was questioned by Special Branch and MI5 officers at the end of February 1941 regarding her connections with Josef Jakobs. She told the tale of how he had suggested she purchase a naturalisation through Ziebell. Josef had also introduced her to Martin Goldstein who apparently specialised in getting French passports.

In December 1938, Lily bumped into Josef's wife on the street and heard that he had been arrested by the Gestapo. Lily had not seen him since then but admitted that he did know her address in London - 9 Compayne Gardens.

She then told the officers that, since arriving in England in April 1939, she had received two letters under mysterious circumstances.

The first letter was incorrectly addressed to 29 or 19 Compayne Gardens but had shown up in her postal box. It arrived about two months after the occupation of Denmark (likely summer 1940) and had been postmarked "Nederland" or "Denmark". Lily could not read the signature and said the letter was badly written in German. The writer asked Lily to pay 40,000 Marks to an American bank, to the account of a lady, whose name Lily did not recognize and which she had since forgotten. The writer also asked Lily to go at once to Switzerland to meet them. Lily said she gave the letter back to the postman, saying that it must have been intended for some other person. MI5 later made inquiries at the Postal Office regarding the letter but there is no evidence that it was ever traced.

The second letter arrived just after Christmas 1940 and was correctly address to Lily at 9 Compayne Gardens. The letter was postmarked from Shanghai and was signed by a Frau Goldstein. The writer stated that she had been informed by Herr Jakobs that he had given Lily 40,000 Marks on Frau Goldstein's behalf and that Lily should send that amount to Frau Goldstein's bank in Shanghai. The writer noted that Herr Jakobs had already written to Lily concerning this matter. Lily then recalled the first letter and believed that it may have come from Josef. She had no idea who Frau Goldstein was although it did seem likely that she was the wife of the Herr Goldstein who had been associated with Josef in Berlin. The letter writer had said that Lily had met her husband with Herr Jakobs in Berlin and stated that Jakobs and Goldstein had been released at Easter 1940. Lily destroyed that letter.

Emil Dochnal & Rosenberg
I have found virtually no information on these men. The name Rosenberg is a bit too common to begin speculating on which one might have been involved in the passport business.

As for Emil Dochnal, he appears to have been born 3 May 1901 in Müschenbach, Westerwald, Rhineland-Palatinate (halfway between Bonn and Wetzlar). In the late 1930s, he apparently lived at Motzstraße 78 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, but I have not been able to confirm that in the Berlin address books. There was an "E. Dochnal" living at Belzigerstraße 27 in Berlin in 1929. And in 1941 and 1943, there was a Frau Testa Dochnal living at Droysenstraße 6 in Berlin-Charlottenburg, but no E. Dochnal. Until further information comes to light... these two men remain quiet dead ends. We have, however, quite a bit more success with Martin Goldstein for one document gave his birth date as 6 July 1904 in Berlin and that is enough...

Parents of Martin Goldstein
Martin Goldstein was born on 6 July 1904 in Berlin to businessman Benno Goldstein and his wife Hulda (née Elend).

Martin’s parents were both Jewish and had been married on 12 September 1899 in Berlin. Martin’s father, Benno, had been born 8 November 1875 in Berlin to Moritz Goldstein and his wife Cecilia Guth, both of whom were still alive in 1899 and living in Berlin when Benno married Hulda. Benno was living at August Strasse 33a and his occupation was “Kaufmann” (businessman). His father, Moritz was a a Handlesmann????.

Martin’s mother, Hulda, had been born 9 February 1874 in Jutroschin (now part of Poland) to Louis Elend and ????? Samuelis, both of whom were still alive in 1899 and living in Jutroschin. Hulda was a Verkäuferin (shop keeper) and living at Reinickendorfer Strasse 8a.

The witnesses at Benno and Hulda’s wedding were 28 year old businessman Carl Goldstein (living at Brunnenstrasse 59) and 29 year old businessman Philip Elend (living at the same address as Hulda and possibly a brother).

Martin's father, Benno, passed away on 26 October 1918 at the age of 42 years. His death was registered on 18 November 1918 in Berlin but he passed away in Rastatt, a town on the current border of France and Germany, just north of Baden-Baden. It would appear that he died at a field hospital (Festungs Lazaratt I) and that he was a Kanonier (gunner) with Flakbatterie 73 (flak battery or anti-aircraft battery). His address in Berlin was Kommandantenstrasse 60 and both of his parents were deceased.

In 1918, Hulda was living at Kommandantenstrasse 60. In 1920, she was at the same address and her occupation was "Blusenkonfektion" - "ready-made blouses". In 1930, Hulda was still living at Kommandantenstrasse 60, but this time she is listed as a "Geschäftsinhaber" - "business owner". There is a second entry in the address book with her name highlighted in bold as if it is a business name. “Hulda Goldstein, Kleider u. Blusen” - "Hulda Goldstein, Dresses & Blouses". The address is Krausenstraße 40. Hulda would have been 56 years old.

A marginal note on Benno and Hulda's marriage registration states that Hulda passed away on 17 August 1939 in Berlin-Wedding. She would have been 65 years old.

Birth of Martin Goldstein
As for Martin, he was born on 6 July 1904 to Benno and Hulda who were living at Wilmersdorfer Strasse 12.

We then lose his trail for many years and pick him up on 21 October 1935, when he married Ruth Edith Küchler in Berlin. Ruth Edith was born in Alzey (Hessen) on 11 August 1913. On 16 July 1937, Martin and Ruth had a daughter, born in Berlin. Martin apparently had a lady's coat and suit factory with a partner which he had to hand over to his partner under the anti-Jewish Nazi regulations. This factory may have been connected with his mother's blouse business.

In 1939, Martin's name appears on a legal document I have for Josef which names the individuals - both scammers and victims - arrested for their involvement in the black market passport business. We know from Josef that Martin was released from the concentration camp at the end of March 1940, but what became of Martin and his family after that?

Escape to Shanghai
There were two key pieces of information which put me on the trail of Martin Goldstein and his family: Josef's statement that Goldstein had escaped to Russia in July 1940 and Lily Knips's revelation of a letter received from Frau Goldstein in Shanghai. As it turns out, Martin Goldstein's daughter is still alive and quite active in the Jewish community. She has given several interviews and even written a chapter for a book about Jewish refugees who escaped to Shanghai. I'm going to give a brief summary of the Goldstein family but those interested in the full story can visit the links below.

In November 1938, Martin Goldstein was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and subsequently in Mauthausen concentration camp. He was released in late March 1940 and the family escaped Nazi Germany using transit visas issued by Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice consul in Kaunas, Lithuania. The family traveled across Russia on the Trans Siberian Railway but, upon arrival in Vladivostok, learned that their visas could not be used for entry to Japan. They were sent on to Shanghai where there was a significant population of Jewish refugees. Shanghai, as it turned out, was an "open" city and one of the few places in the world that accepted Jewish refugees. About 20,000 Jews would escape the Nazis and find refuge in Shanghai, the Paris of the Orient. At the time, Shanghai was under the control of the Japanese, with the exception of several foreign concessions.

In late 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Japan took over control of the foreign concessions and, with Germany's encouragement, corralled all post-1937 stateless Jewish refugees in the Hongkew area of the city. Life in Hongkew was a far cry from that of Berlin with poverty, disease and misery making the lives of the refugees exceedingly difficulty. Martin and his family survived the war and Hongkew, however, and were able to immigrate to the United States. The family set sale on the SS Marine Swallow on 16 January 1948 from Shanghai and arrived in San Francisco on 30 January.

Martin and Ruth settled in California and were naturalised in 1953. Their daughter was naturalised the following year and married in 1956. Ruth passed away in 1996 and Martin passed away in 1999, both in California.

Letters from Shanghai to Lily Knips
The letters Lily Knips received from a Frau Goldstein in Shanghai are a bit of a puzzle. Given the information included in the second letter, it would seem that the writer was indeed the wife of Martin Goldstein. While the evidence is tenuous... I did wonder if the following account from Lily and Josef might have relevance.

In 1938, Josef Jakobs suggested that Lily Knips could move some of her money out of Germany with the help of a Swiss man named Seiler. This man had purchased a Berlin clothing manufacturing business and needed operating expenses, but did not want to liquidate his Swiss capital. Josef suggested that Lily could make her funds available to Seiler who would then transfer an equal amount of funds to the account of Lily's son in England. In this way, Lily would be able to get a significant portion of her funds out of Germany.

Lily met with Josef and Seiler who assured Lily that he had the permission of the Devisenstelle (currency control) to buy Jewish capital. Lily reached an agreement with Seiler and, after opening a joint bank account with him, sold her shares and transferred 30,000 German Marks into the account. At some point, Lily became suspicious of Seiler and spoke with her bank manager who urged her to seek legal advice, which she did. Her lawyer wrote to the Devisenstelle inquiring about Seiler. In the meantime, Lily went on a trip to England to visit her son (early September 1938). While there, she received several phone calls from Josef, urging her to make the funds available to Seiler so the transfer could be completed. Upon her return to Berlin mid-September, Lily learned from her lawyer that Seiler did not have the permission of the Devisenstelle. The lawyer advised Lily to have nothing to do with Seiler and Josef.

Lily confronted Josef about Seiler and he admitted that he had met Seiler while both of them were in a Swiss prison. Seiler had apparently served a two year sentence for fraudulent bankruptcy. Lily retrieved her funds from the joint account and paid Seiler 600 Marks for his troubles.

The data points of interest are the following:
  • Swiss named Seiler who wished to purchase a Berlin clothing manufacturing business
    • Goldstein owned a clothing manufacturing business which he had to give up
    • the first letter writer urged Lily Knips to visit the writer in Switzerland (Seiler was Swiss)
  • Lily was going to exchange 30,000 RM with Seiler
    • the second letter writer from Shanghai - likely Frau Goldstein, wife of Martin Goldstein, former owner of a Berlin textile factory - requested 40,000 RM from Lily
Is it possible that the clothing manufacturing business Seiler had acquired was that of Martin Goldstein? And that Seiler talked a fast story with both Martin and Lily - promising to pay Martin under the table with funds that he would acquire from Lily Knips? And that in the turmoil of arrests in October/November 1940, word of the failed Knips/Seiler deal got lost? Perhaps the Goldstein's somehow believed that Lily Knips had received money from Seiler and that this was somehow owed to them? The monetary amounts do differ, however. It is just perplexing that Frau Goldstein would write to Frau Knips requesting such a large sum of money.

Of the three individuals who ostensibly helped Ziebell acquire forged Finnish passports from Niska, we can really only trace one, Martin Goldstein. The other two, Emil Dochnal and Rosenberg, are a complete mystery. I must admit to being quite relieved to be able to trace Martin Goldstein and his family from Germany, across Russia, into Shanghai and, from there, to America. I doubt I would have been able to trace him without those two bits of information from Josef Jakobs and Lily Knips. They were the clues that I needed.

We are almost at the end of this series on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell. There is only one more aspect requiring investigation: Irish naturalisations. Josef told the MI5 officers that Ziebell worked with two men in Holland, Roos and Wolpe, who were involved in securing Irish naturalisations for Ziebell's clients. Neither of these two men would survive the war.

Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009 [Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Crook or saint? Participation of Algoth Niska in smuggling Jews in Central Europe during 1938; University of Joensuu; 2009]
Algoth Niska & J. Jerry Danielsson - Over Green Borders (1995) - English translation of Yli vihreän rajan published in 1953.
National Archives, Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27
Ancestry - genealogical information
Geni.com - genealogical information
Shanghai Remembered - Stories of Jews who Escaped to Shanghai from Nazi Europe - Berl Falbaum (ed) - 2005 - has a chapter by Ingrid Gallin
US Holocaust Memorial Museum - page on German and Jewish refugees in Shanghai
Remember the Holocaust - Ingrid Gallin
Congregation B'nai Israel - CBI Legacies - 37 minute interview with Ingrid Gallin

02 October 2019

Ernst and Clara David - Clients of Ziebell's Black Market Passport Business

Preamble to Ernst and Clara David
Another blog in my series focused on the black market passport business run by Jürgen Ziebell in Berlin during the Second World War. I highly recommended that you read my earlier blog for an overview of the sale of black market passports to Berlin Jews, as related by Josef Jakobs and Frau Lily Knips. Another key blog reviews the characters involved in the business which had several strands including Finnish and Irish passports. I am currently writing a blog series about the Jews who purchased forged Finnish passports via the Finnish smuggler, Algoth Niska. It was only in late September 1938 that Niska apparently made a deal whereby Ziebell purchased a batch of forged Finnish passports for his Jewish clients. As it turns out, Niska was selling forged passports to unsuspecting Jews all through July and August 1938 telling them that he was an official of the Finnish government or a Finnish policeman or... He was none of those things and you can read more about Niska in an earlier blog.

A key source for these stories is the 2009 Finnish thesis by Jussi Samuli Laitinen which I roughly translated with the help of Google Translate. It provides names and birth dates of Niska's clients which has been invaluable in tracing these individuals with certainty. Another key document was the MI6 report on Niska's activities, contained within one of the Security Service files on Josef Jakobs. These documents and a variety of genealogical sites form the backbone of the stories...

Individuals with a birth date are generally traceable, but not always. Part of the problem lies in the limits of genealogical resources which are rich for the UK, USA and, to some extent, Germany and Austria, but less so for other countries. For example, there isn't much online genealogical information for France, Switzerland, Palestine, Cuba, the Balkans or the Nordic countries. If Jewish refugees took any of these paths to freedom... they don't leave much of a trace. In many instances, no news is actually good news.

I am going to begin each individual story with the information from the Laitinen thesis and the MI6 report, as these provide a factual leaping off point.

Today, we are looking at two of Jürgen Ziebell's clients who purchased forged Finnish passports from him in late September or early October: Louis Georg Hagen and his wife Viktoria Gertrude Hagen. In the case of the Hagen's, we also have some supplementary information from Josef Jakobs who had met Louis Georg Hagen.

Laitinen Thesis, MI6 Report and Josef Jakobs
Laitinen Thesis: In late September 1938, Algoth Niska was trying to offload the last passports he had in his possession. After selling a couple of passports to the Falkenburgs, Niska met Dr. Jürgen Ziebell, a Berlin lawyer. Ziebell told Niska that he had several customers who wanted to buy Finnish passports. Ziebell then provided Niska with the personal details and photographs of the customers and paid Niska the agreed price. Niska made the fake passports, handed them over to Ziebell who, in turn, passed them on to his customers, for a profit of course. According to Laitinen, Niska forged at least eight passports for Ziebell. Niska was paid somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 German Marks for each passport.

One of the eight passports went to Dorothea Schachtel whose story we have already uncovered. Of the seven remaining individuals, Laitinen states that none of them escaped from Germany. In the fall of 1938, likely after the Ziebell ring had been busted in mid October, all seven were arrested by the Gestapo. Two of those individuals were Louis Georg & Viktoria Gertrud Hagen, whose story we have reviewed in the last blog.

The remaining five passports were reserved for persons who have hardly any information other than names:
  • Alfred Gutmann
  • Erna Levi
  • Richard Eduard Wiener - Wiener's passport, however, was still in Ziebell's possession when Gestapo detectives came to arrest him.
  • Ernst Michel & Clara David
According to Laitinen, David's passports were obtained by police in connection with an arrest of an unknown Jew named Dochnahl.This is likely one of Ziebell's coworkers, Emil Dochnal whom we will meet in another blog post.

MI6 Report: No mention of any of the individuals named above.

What Josef Said: Josef Jakobs was interrogated about his involvement in Ziebell's black market passport ring. After MI5 received the report on Niska, and the list of passport clients, from MI6, they questioned Josef about the individuals. He didn't know many of them but the name Louis Georg Hagen rang a bell. Josef noted that Hagen had a brother-in-law named David, who was now in England. David was very rich and had also ordered a Finnish passport from Ziebell, for which he was prepared to pay 5000 RM. In the end, David had left the country on a German passport accompanied by his wife.

MI5 was quite intrigued about this Hagen brother-in-law named David and put out a trace on him. Unfortunately, they seem to have missed the comment that David was a brother-in-law of Louis Georg Hagen and that "David" was a forename and not a surname. Thus MI5 sent out a trace for one David Hagen, for which there was no result in the Registry. They also sent a request to MI6 which, again, came up empty. The MI5 officers were rather disappointed having hoped that David Hagen could shed some light on the "Finnish passport racket".

We, however, have a bit more information at our disposal than MI5 did in 1941. We know that Louis Georg Hagen had a sister named Clara Hagen. We also know from the Laitinen thesis that an Ernst Michel David and a Clara David purchased passports from Niska. It doesn't take much to connect the dots and realise that Clara David is Louis Georg Hagen's sister and that Ernst David is the brother-in-law mentioned by Josef.

Early Life
From the previous blog on Louis Georg Hagen, we know that Clara (Levy) Hagen was born in 7 May 1891 in Berlin to banker Carl (Levy) Hagen and Katharina Philippi. Like the other children, Clara's surname was changed from Levy to Hagen in 1905.

Ernst Michel David was born 19 March 1889 in Berlin to Theodor Lebrecht David and his wife Rosa Sommerfeld. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1898 when Theodor passed away at the age of 45 years. He left behind a widow and several children.

There is no record of a marriage registration for Ernst and Clara although they were already having children in Berlin by 1917.

Escape to England
The next time we find a trace of Clara and Ernst is in 1939 when they appear in the 1939 UK National Registration, as well as in the Aliens registry. Ernst was a former German banker and the couple had at least one of their children living with them; Lisselotte David (born 1918 in Berlin). They apparently had two more daughters, one of whom was named Katherina Clara David (born 1917).

In the fall of 1939, Ernst and Clara were living at Paisley House, Farnham Lane, Haslemere, Surrey were exempt from internment.

Ernst passed away in 1960 while Clara passed away in 1977. It would appear that they had continued to live in London.

It isn't clear how Ernst and Clara David escaped Nazi Germany with their three children. Perhaps the children, who were around 20 years old, were already in England? Suffice to say that forged Finnish passports played no role in their escape and actually brought them to the attention of the Gestapo.

Ziebell's other Three Finnish Passport Clients
Laitinen mentioned that Ziebell procured forged Finnish passports for eight of his clients. We have met five of them: Dorothea Clara Schachtel, Louis Georg & Viktoria Gertrud Hagen and Ernst & Clara Hagen. The remaining three individuals do not have enough information to trace:
  • Alfred Gutmann
  • Erna Levi
  • Richard Eduard Wiener - I did find an 1876 birth registration for a Richard Eduard Wiener in Berlin but it is hard to say if this is the same gentleman. There is no other trace of the man in the genealogical databases.
Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009 [Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Crook or saint? Participation of Algoth Niska in smuggling Jews in Central Europe during 1938; University of Joensuu; 2009]
Algoth Niska & J. Jerry Danielsson - Over Green Borders (1995) - English translation of Yli vihreän rajan published in 1953.
National Archives, Kew - Security Service files on Josef Jakobs - KV 2/24, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27
Ancestry - genealogical information
Geni.com - genealogical information