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Showing posts from 2020

Black market passport business - Richard Eduard Wiener

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I received an email in early August 2020 from a gentleman living in Norway, the son-in-law of Karl Victor Hagen (brother of Clara Hagen). He had read my blogs on the pre-war black market passport business in Berlin and had a bit of information which he thought might be helpful. For those who wish to get a bit of back information, four blogs are pertinent to the story of Richard Eduard Wiener:Overview of the Black-market Passport BusinessJosef Jakobs and the Characters involved in the Passport BusinessErnst & Clara David - Clients of the Passport BusinessAlgoth Niska and the Black Market Passport Business
We don't know much about Richard Eduard Wiener, simply that he was one of the many German Jews who wanted to escape Nazi Germany. Through word-of-mouth, Wiener heard that a Berlin lawyer, Jürgen Ziebell was able to provide Jews with authentic Finnish passports, for a price. The truth was a bit shadier. Ziebell procured the forged Finnish passports through a Finnish bootlegger, …

Book Review - From Art to Life and Back - Yvonne Hagen

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The Book
From Art to Life and Back: N.Y.-Berlin-Paris, 1925-1962. Yvonne Hagen. Xlibris. 2006.

Background
A relation of the Hagen clan, living in Norway, put me onto this book. Yvonne (née Forrest) Hagen was the wife of Karl Victor Hagen, who happened to be the son of Louis Georg Hagen, one of the individuals who appeared as clients of Jürgen Ziebell in the black market passport business with which Josef Jakobs was involved. I tracked down a second-hand copy of the book and it arrived a few weeks ago.Summary
The book is an autobiography of Yvonne Hagen, up until 1962, or thereabouts. The first half of the book is quite intriguing, covering her upbringing and her marriage to Karl Victor Hagen. After the war, Karl Victor was involved with the Allies in instituting German currency reforms. Yvonne and her young children moved to Berlin with Karl Victor and she shares a bit about the art scene in war-torn Berlin. After Karl Victor's death in a plane crash, during the Berlin Airlift, Yv…

German Swindler Josef Emil Roos

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A year ago, I published a series of blogs about Josef Jakobs' involvement with a blackmarket passport scheme in Berlin. The scheme was orchestrated by a German lawyer, Jürgen Ziebell, and involved selling fake passports to Jews desperate to escape Nazi Germany. Many of the fake passports were from Finland and supplied by Finnish bootlegger Algot Niska.

The link above provides a summary of the blackmarket passport business, but I posted a separate blog with links to all of the characters involved in the scheme.
There was a triad of individuals who were involved in securing Irish naturalisations for Ziebell: Johannes Hans Wolpe, Josef Emil Roos and Lincoln Allan Smith. While I had found quite a bit on Wolpe, I had only found brief mentions on Roos and Smith. There was one intriguing reference in an MI6 report on Roos which noted that he had been hanging out with one A.A. Tester in Greece. This spring, I downloaded several files from the National Archives (Kew) that related …

Eric Vincent Ewart White - the Barrister-at-Law who defended a German Spy

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A few months ago, I wrote a follow-up post about Eric Vincent Ewart White, the defence attorney for Josef Jakobs at his 1941 court martial. I had tracked down the names of three of Eric's grandchildren and reached out to one of them. And... success! Rowan Ewart-White kindly sent me a photograph of his grandfather and a post from the Epsom & Ewell History Explorer site. This post draws heavily upon my 2015 blog on Eric which can be read here, but also includes some extra information.
After so many years, it's exciting to be able to see the face of the man who met my grandfather and who did his best to defend him against the charges of espionage and treachery. The following is a blend of some new information from the Epsom & Ewell site, as well as my own supplemental research.
Early Life
Eric was born in the third quarter of 1909 in Lewisham, Greater London. Eric's parents Bertram Ewart White and Avera Emily née Vincent had married in the second quarter of 1909 in the W…

Book Review - Langes Seil, Schneller Tod - Traugott Vitz

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The Book
Langes Seil, Schneller Tod: Wie Großbritannien seine Mörder hängte.[Long rope, Fast Death: How Great Britain hanged their Murderers] Traugott Vitz, Kirchschlager. 2016.

Background
I had come across an English translation of a chapter from Langes Seil, Schneller Tod in February 2017. The chapter dealt with the execution of various wartime spies in Great Britain and mentioned Josef Jakobs. Several months later, I received an email from the author, Traugott Vitz, and we have been email pals every since. Traugott kindly sent me a copy of his book in German and, while it took me a couple of years due to the illness and death of my father, I did finish it earlier in 2020. My level of German is not all that advanced and quite rusty. I can deal with simple conversations and books fairly well but anything more complex requires a fair degree of effort. With the help of Google Translate, I learned quite a bit of technical legal and execution lingo.

Summary
This book covers the history of exe…

Book Review - Out of Nazi Germany and Trying to Find my Way - Irene Matthews

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The Book
Out of Nazi Germany and Trying to Find my Way. Irene Matthews. Upfront Publishing. 2002.

Background
A relation of the Hagen clan, living in Norway, put me onto this book. Irene Matthews is the daughter of Ernst David & Clara Hagen, individuals who appeared as clients of Jürgen Ziebell in the black market passport business with which Josef Jakobs was involved. I tracked down a second-hand copy of the book and it arrived a few weeks ago. I read it in one sitting (it's 109 pages) and was entranced.

Summary
In a very engaging and simple style, Irene tells the tale of growing up in Berlin and Potsdam during the 1930s. The everyday activities of a little girl, visiting her Opapa, going to school, playing with her dog. And yet, over all of these everyday activities, the looming shadow of Nazism cast a pall. Slowly, ever so slowly, signs appeared - No Jews Allowed. In late 1938 and early 1939, after her father was sent to a concentration camp in the wake of Kristallnacht, Irene&#…