The weird case of Violette Morris

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Of all stories relating to spies and collaborators during WWII this most be one of the most intriguing ones.

When I first read about Violette Morris and saw the date she died,26 April 1944, I assumed she was killed for being a member of the French resistance. Why I thought that I don’t know.

Born in France on 18 April 1893. She was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Games in 1922 and the Women’s Olympiad in 1924.

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She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

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She married Cyprien Edouard Joseph Gouraud on 22 August 1914 in Paris. They divorced in May 1923. She had served in World War I as a military nurse during the Battle of the Somme and a courier during the Battle of Verdun.

Although she had been married, she was attracted to women.

Her motto was “Anything A Man Can Do, Violette Can Do, Too”

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France.

In 1928, she was refused license renewal by the Fédération française sportive féminine and as a result was not allowed to compete in the 1928 Olympic Games.

Despite her being openly gay she had a big fan in Adolf Hitler. This one of the anomalies in the Nazi policies,according to the Nazi doctrine women could not be gay.

In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

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She provided the Nazi regime in Germany  with partial plans of the Maginot Line, detailed plans of strategic points within the city of Paris, and schematics of the French army’s main tank, the Somua S35. Her information was vital to the German invasion of Paris in 1940.

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After the Nazi invasion, Morris remained close to the Germans and started working for the French Gestapo, the Carlingue. She had the nickname, ‘The Hyena of the Gestapo,’ because apparently she got a lot of sadistic pleasure by torturing people and extracting information.

On 26 April 1944, when she went for a  drive in her Citroën Traction Avant car with two friends and their two children for a spin on a country road.

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Her engine sputtered and the car came to a halt. Earlier tha day, the engine had been tampered with by  the French Resistance Maquis Surcouf group. Members of the group  then emerged from a hiding spot and opened fired on the car. Although Morris was the target, all five people in the car were killed. Morris’ body, riddled with bullets.

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The darker and also heroic side of Dior.

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I think mostly everyone has heard of the name Dior. The fashion house Dior is one of the most successful fashion houses in the world.

However there is a darker history behind the name and on the other hand also a tale of heroism is connected to the name. Especially the family’s history during WWII is a complicated one.

In 1937 Christian Dior was working for the designer Robert Piguet, but in September 1939 he was called up for military service because if the declaration of war.

Luckily enough  for him, his unit was not in the path of the German advance in May and June 1940 and he and his unit were demobilized quite soon after the French-German armistice on June 22nd, 1940. He stayed in the unoccupied of France for a while and did not return to Paris until 1941.

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In 1942 he joined the fashion house Lucien Lelong, where he worked closely together with legendary designer Pierre Balmain.

Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. Looking at that now it is easy to be judgmental about his fraternizing with the enemy,but other designers like Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci did the same, people did what they felt they had to do to survive. They also wanted to ensure that the couture would remain in Paris

On the other hand there was Christian’s younger sister, Catherine Dior. In 1941 she joined “Massif Central’, a Resistance network which was set up in the summer of 1940. by Polish military intelligence officers in exile in France. and were  focused on gathering and transmitting intelligence about German troop movements and weapon production.Catherine had joined them as a courier. which was extremely dangerous.

In June 1944 she was caught and arrested by the Carlingue, the French members of the Gestapo sometimes referred to as Gestapistes. After Catherine was tortured by the Carlibgie she was put on one of the last trains out of Paris, which departed on August 15, just days before the liberation of the city, her destination was Ravensbruck concentration camp.

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Between the time of her arrest and the time of her deportation, Christian tried  to seek  release for his sister,  via the Nazi contacts he made at his job and also via the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling, who mediated in the release of prisoners in the past. Unfortunately the efforts bore no fruits.

But fate was in Catherine’s favor ,she had been put to work in a munitions factory in the camp and survived the war. She was liberated in April, 1945 and returned to Paris the following month.

After the was she received the Croix de Guerre, the Combatant Volunteer Cross of the Resistance, the Combatant’s Cross, the King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom (from Britain), and being named a chevalière of the Légion d’Honneur.

Catherine also publicly distanced herself from the daughter of her other brother Raymond. Françoise Dior after the niece married Colin Jordan, a British Neo-Nazi leader.

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In November, 1952, Catherine was called to testify against 14 former members of the Carlingue before a military tribunal in Paris.Catherine helped to preserve her brother Christian’s legacy after his death in 1957, she was involved with the opening of the Dior Museum in Granville. Catherine died in 2008.

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Sources

Fashionunfiltered.com

Jezebel.com

 

Squadron Leader Phil Lamason & the KLB Club

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I could have gone with any of 168 stories of the members of this club, but I decided to go with the highest ranking officer.

The KLB Club (initials for Konzentrationslager Buchenwald) was formed on 12 October 1944, and included the 168 allied airmen who were held prisoner at Buchenwald concentration camp between 20 August and 19 October 1944.166 airmen survived Buchenwald, while two died of sickness at the camp.

Buchenwald Gate

The “terror fliers” heads were shaved, they were denied shoes, and forced to sleep outside without shelter for about three weeks. They were given one thin blanket for three men.  They were assigned to a section of the camp called, “Little Camp,” which was a quarantine area.  Prisoners in the Little Camp received the least food and the harshest treatment.

After a short time, the men figured out who was the ranking officer of all the prisoners. Squadron Leader Phil Lamason, a Lancaster bomber pilot from New Zealand, was the most senior officer. Lamason called everyone together after their first meal together and made a speech, saying,

Phillip John Lamason DFC & Bar (15 September 1918 – 19 May 2012) was a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) during the Second World War, who rose to prominence as the senior officer in charge of 168 Allied airmen taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, Germany, in August 1944.

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Lamason’s Lancaster was shot down while attacking railway yards near Paris two days after D-Day. Two of his crew were killed; Lamason bailed out with the other four, three of whom eventually made it back to England. For seven weeks Lamason and his navigator were hidden by the French Resistance before they were betrayed to the Gestapo, who interrogated them at the infamous Fresnes prison near Paris. Lamason was wearing civilian clothes when he was captured and was therefore treated as a spy rather than as a prisoner of war.

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On August 15 1944, five days before Paris was liberated, Lamason and his navigator were taken in cattle trucks with a group of 168 other airmen to Buchenwald, a journey that took five days .

 

As the most senior officer, Lamason insisted on military discipline and bearing. He did not do this just to improve morale but also because he saw it as his responsibility to carry on his war duties despite the circumstances.

Once at Buchenwald, he risked his life on numerous occasions as he sought to obtain the men’s release and to smuggle news of their plight to the Luftwaffe — RAF prisoners of war were the responsibility of the Luftwaffe, not of the Gestapo.

By negotiating with the camp authorities he was able to secure extra blankets, clothes, clogs and food for the airmen. In October he learned that the Gestapo had ordered their execution, and he increased his efforts to secure the fliers’ release.

In late 1944 a rumor crossed inspector of day fighters Colonel Hannes Trautloft’s desk that a large number of Allied airmen were being held at Buchenwald. Trautloft decided to visit the camp and see for himself under the pretence of inspecting aerial bomb damage near the camp.

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Trautloft was about to leave the camp when captured US airman Bernard Scharf called out to him in fluent German from behind a fence. The SS guards tried to intervene, but Trautloft pointed out that he out-ranked them and made them stand back. Scharf explained that he was one of more than 160 allied airmen imprisoned at the camp and begged Trautloft to rescue him and the other airmen Trautloft’s adjutant also spoke to the group’s commanding officer, Phil Lamason.

Disturbed by the event, Trautloft returned to Berlin and began the process to have the airmen transferred out of Buchenwald. Seven days before their scheduled execution, the airmen were taken by train by the Luftwaffe to Stalag Luft III on 19 October 1944,where their shaven-headed, emaciated appearance shocked their fellow PoWs. One of Lamason’s colleagues described him as “a man of true grit, he was the wonderful unsung hero of Buchenwald”; most of the airmen who had been sent to that camp attributed their survival to his leadership and determination.

Nationalities of the 168 airmen
United States 82 American
United Kingdom 48 British
Canada 26 Canadian
Australia 9 Australian
New Zealand 2 New Zealander
Jamaica 1 Jamaican

00345664(this is not a picture of the actual men)

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Leon Jessel- Was he misguided, believing the Nazis would leave him alone?

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Leon Jessel,(January 22, 1871 – January 4, 1942) was a German composer of operettas and light classical music pieces. Although if it had been up to his parents Samuel and Mary Jessel, he would have become a textile sales man.His  Father however was a gifted violinist.

Today Leon Jessel  is best known internationally as the composer of the popular jaunty march The Parade of the Tin Soldiers, also known as The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.

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Jessel was a prolific composer who wrote hundreds of light orchestral pieces, piano pieces, songs, waltzes, mazurkas, marches, choruses, and other salon music. He achieved considerable acclaim with a number of his operettas — in particular Schwarzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl), which remains popular to this day.

Because Jessel was a Jew by birth (he converted to Christianity at the age of 23), with the rise of Nazism in the late 1920s, his composing virtually came to an end, and his musical works, which had been very popular, were suppressed and nearly forgotten.

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Jessel was a Jew who converted to Christianity at the age of 23 in order to marry a Christian woman. They moved to Berlin in 1911, where Jessel continued his composing. He and his wife divorced and Jessel remarried in 1921. All through the 1920s and into the 1930s, his operettas were popular. The music was light but robust, and the plots fed the nostalgia for turn-of-the-century German imperial enthusiasm—such catchy songs, for example, as “We Wander through the Wide, Wide World” from The Girl from the Back Forest.

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In fact, that operetta was one of Hitler’s favorites. In 1930 the writing on the wall in Germany was perhaps still unclear. Maybe Jessel thought that his conversion to Christianity and his sense of nationalism would stand him in good stead. His second wife was even a member of the NSDAP (the Nazi party). Yet, none of that helped. None of it. His works were banned in 1933.  (Ironically, in that same year the German post office issued a commemorative stamp on the occasion of the first filming of Jessel’s Black Forest operetta!).

His wife was expelled from the Nazi party in 1934; Jessel was forced out of the Reichsmusikkammer (State Music Bureau) in 1937 and the recording and distribution of his music was prohibited. In 1939, he wrote to a friend: “I cannot work in a time when hatred of Jews threatens my people with destruction, where I do not know when that gruesome fate will likewise be knocking at my door.” The Gestapo came calling in 1941 and arrested Jessel for spreading Greuelmärchen (“horror stories”) about the state.

Berlin, Geheimes Staatspolizeihauptamt

 

The Gestapo took him to their infamous torture chamber at Alexanderplatz in Berlin. He was then taken to a hospital where he died on January 4, 1942.

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May 1944 Gestapo raid in Hamburg’s Chinatown- The forgotten victims

1024px-Gedenktafel-chinesenviertel-schmuckstraße

This is a little known story which took place on the 13th of May 1944. The victims were Chinese citizens, not tortured and killed by Japanese but by the Gestapo in Hamburg,Germany.

It requires a lot of imagination to recollect the past history that the Schmuckstraße as the center of a lively Chinese district of St. Pauli. Today only two houses of that time are still standing with an emptied site next to it, nothing remained or reminds the once lively Chinese district that connected close between Talstraße and Grosse Freiheit, one of the popular street in the red light district of St. Pauli, Hamburg.

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In the early 20’s, a small Chinese colony had formed in Hamburg as a result of the employment of Chinese in the German merchant shipping. Soon Chinese infrastructure were arisen in some of the European’s harbor cities. The Chinese have settled down there and opened up restaurants, Marine equipment stores, laundries. At that time, it had as many as about 2000 Chinese living in Hamburg.  They were hard-working, well-educated, went to dance and sports clubs, some were married to German women and had children with them.


The harmony living with one another were ended abruptly when the Nazis came. 165 Chinese were detained on 13 May 1944, in the so called “Chinese action” under the pretext of collaboration with the enemy. In the Langer Morgan labor camp in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg, 17 of them died. All that remains today of the camp is a plaque.

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More then a 100 people died in the camp due to inhuman conditions.

One of the Chinese victims was Woo Lie Kien  He died in the Allgemeinen Krankenhaus Barmbek(General Hospital Barmbek) as result of torture by the gestapo on the 23rd of November 1944.

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Many of the Chinese left Germany for America or have gone back to their homeland China eventually as the 2nd World War ended. A few stayed back in Hamburg , leaving a fogotten chapter of Hamburg History behind

Operation Carthage

Mosquito Copenhagen 1945.03.21

Operation Carthage, on 21 March 1945, was a British World War II air raid on Copenhagen, Denmark, which incurred significant collateral damage. The target of the raid was the Shellhus, used as Gestapo headquarters in the city centre. It was used for the storage of dossiers and the torture of Danish citizens during interrogations.

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The Danish Resistance had long asked the British to conduct a raid against this site. As a result, the building was destroyed, 18 prisoners were freed, and anti-resistance Nazi activities were disrupted. But, part of the raid was mistakenly directed against a nearby boarding school; it resulted in a total of 125 civilian deaths (including 86 schoolchildren and 18 adults at the school). A similar raid against the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus, on 31 October 1944, had been successful.

The raid was to be carried out by de Havilland Mosquito fast-bomber aircraft, and thus it was that on the morning of 21 March, these aircraft took of in three waves of six along with two Mosquitoes that were to film the raid.

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The force left RAF Fersfield in the morning and it reached Copenhagen after 11:00. The raid was carried out at rooftop level. In the course of the initial attack, a Mosquito hit a lamp post, damaging its wing, and the plane crashed into the Jeanne d’Arc School, about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the target. Several bombers in the second and third wave attacked the burning school, mistaking it for their target.

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In all, eighty-six children and thirteen adults, mostly nuns, were killed. Separately, over fifty Gestapo members were killed in the attack on the headquarters, along with dozens of Danish workers and several prisoners of the Gestapo. Memorials now stand to the children killed as well as the Danish resistance members.Mindesten_for_den_Franske_Skole_(2_af_2)

All fourteen prisoners in the Southern wing of the Shell House survived as this part of the building was not bombed.Shellhuset_210345

The three remaining prisoners were under interrogation on the 5th floor, one of whom died. 18 out of 26 prisoners survived the bomb raid. A total of 133 Danes died during and after the raid. Telegrams from Copenhagen modstandsbevægelse (Resistance Movement) thanked the RAF for the successful raid, and with the destruction of the Gestapo archives the threat against its members was neutralised..

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Karl Silberbauer-the man who arrested Anne Frank and her family.

karl_josef_silberbauer_member_of_sd_ss_and_gestapo

Karl Josef Silberbauer (21 June 1911 – 2 September 1972) was an Austrian police officer, SS-Oberscharführer (staff sergeant), and undercover investigator for the West German Federal Intelligence Service. Silberbauer is best known, however, for his activities in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. In 1963, Silberbauer, by then an Inspector in the Vienna police, was exposed as the commander of the 1944 Gestapo raid on the Secret Annex and the arrests of Anne Frank, her fellow fugitives, and their protectors

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Born in Vienna, Silberbauer served in the Austrian military before following his father into the police force in 1935. Four years later, he joined the Gestapo, moved to the Netherlands, and in 1943 transferred to the Sicherheitsdienst in The Hague. He was then assigned to Amsterdam and attached to “Sektion IV B 4”, a unit recruited from Austrian and German police departments and which handled arrests of hidden Jews throughout the occupied Netherlands.

Silberbauer was employed directly by Eichmann and answered to him at Berlin’s infamous department IVB4, the headquarters of the programme to exterminate the Jews.

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His job was to transfer non-Jews who helped Jews, those who sheltered English pilots and those who listened to the English radio to concentration camps.

Silberbauer was the officer in charge of the Gestapo squad which arrested the Frank family on 4 August, 1944. After the War, the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal tracked down Silberbauer, who was working as police inspector in Vienna.

On 4 August 1944, Silberbauer was ordered by his superior, SS-Obersturmführer (lieutenant) Julius Dettmann, to investigate a tip-off that Jews were being hidden in the upstairs rooms at Prinsengracht 263.

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He took a few Dutch policemen with him and interrogated Victor Kugler about the entrance to the hiding place. Miep Gies and Johannes Kleiman were also questioned, and while Kugler and Kleimann were arrested, Gies was allowed to stay on the premises. Both Otto Frank and Karl Silberbauer were interviewed after the war about the circumstances of the raid, with both describing Silberbauer’s surprise that those in hiding had been there more than two years. Frank recalled Silberbauer confiscating their valuables and money, taking these spoils away in Otto Frank’s briefcase, which he had emptied onto the floor scattering out the papers and notebooks which made up the diary of Anne Frank.

Soon after, Gentile protectors Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, together with Otto Frank, Edith Frank-Holländer, Margot Frank, Anne Frank, Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, Peter van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer, were arrested and taken to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam.(below is the red cross card of Johannes Kleiman after his arrest)

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From there, the eight who had been in hiding were sent to the Westerbork transit camp and then to Auschwitz concentration camp. Soon after, Margo Frank and Anne Frank were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they would die of typhus, three weeks before the camp was liberated by British forces. Victor Kugler and Jo Kleiman were sent to work camps. Of the ten, only Otto Frank, Kugler, and Kleiman survived.

Silberbauer returned to Vienna in April 1945 and served a fourteen-month prison sentence for using excessive force against members of the Communist Party of Austria.After his release, Silberbauer was recruited by the West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), and spent ten years as an undercover operative. According to Der Spiegel reporter Peter-Ferdinand Koch, who learned of his postwar activities while researching BND employment of former Nazis, Silberbauer infiltrated neo-Nazi and Pro-Soviet organizations in West Germany and Austria. His BND handlers believed, correctly, that Silberbauer’s past membership in the SS would blind neo-Nazis to his true loyalties.

Possibly due to BND pressure, Silberbauer was reinstated by the Viennese Kriminalpolizei (Kripo) in 1954, four years after the German publication of Anne Frank’s diary and was promoted to the rank of Inspektor.

He is quoted as saying of Anne Frank’s diary: “I bought the little book last week to see if I am in it. But I am not. Maybe I should have picked it up off the floor.”

Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal began searching for Silberbauer in 1958, upon being challenged by Austrian Holocaust deniers to prove that Anne Frank actually existed. One Holocaust denier stated that, if Anne Frank’s arresting officer were found and admitted it, he would change his mind.

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During the 1948 Dutch police investigation into the raid on the Secret Annex, Silberbauer’s name had been disclosed as “Silvernagel”. The Dutch police detectives who had assisted with the raid were identified by Miep Gies, who recalled their commander as having a working-class Vienna accent.

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The Dutch policemen claimed to remember nothing except an erroneous form of their superior’s surname.

Wiesenthal considered contacting Anne’s father, Otto Frank, but learned that he was speaking out in favor of forgiveness and reconciliation. Otto Frank also believed that the person responsible for the denunciation to the Gestapo, not the arresting officers, bore the greatest responsibility. Wiesenthal, however, was determined to discredit the growing Holocaust denial movement and continued his search for “Silvernagel”. In late spring 1963, after ruling out numerous Austrians with similar names, Wiesenthal was loaned a wartime Gestapo telephone book by Dutch investigators. During a two-hour flight from Amsterdam to Vienna, Wiesenthal found the name “Silberbauer” listed as attached to “Sektion IV B 4” and could not wait for his plane to land.

Upon his arrival in Vienna, Wiesenthal immediately telephoned Dr. Josef Wiesinger, who investigated Nazi crimes for the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. Upon being told that Silberbauer might still be a policeman, Wiesinger insisted that there were “at least six men on the Vienna police force” with the same surname and demanded a written request. On 2 June 1963, Wiesenthal submitted a detailed request but was told for months that the Vienna police were not yet ready to release their findings.

In reality, the Vienna police identified Inspektor Silberbauer almost immediately.

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When he had admitted his role in arresting Anne Frank, the department had been terrified of the bad press that would result from disclosing his past. Therefore, the Vienna police suspended Silberbauer from the Kripo without pay, ordered him to “keep his mouth shut”, about the reasons for his suspension. Instead, Silberbauer lamented his suspension and disclosed the reasons for it to a colleague. His fellow officer, a member of the Communist Party of Austria, immediately leaked the story to the Party’s official newspaper, who published it on 11 November 1963. After Izvestia praised “the detective work of the Austrian comrades”, an infuriated Wiesenthal leaked Silberbauer’s address to the Dutch media. When reporters descended upon Silberbauer’s Vienna home, the policeman freely admitted that he had arrested Anne Frank.

Silberbauer’s memories of the arrest were notably vivid – he in particular recalled Otto and Anne Frank. When he asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding, Frank answered, “Two years and one month.” Silberbauer was incredulous, until Otto stood Anne against the marks made on the wall to measure her height since they had arrived in the annex, showing that she had grown even since the last mark had been made. Silberbauer said that Anne “looked like the pictures in the books, but a little older, and prettier. ‘You have a lovely daughter’, I said to Mr. Frank”.

Although he disclosed what he knew, Silberbauer was unable to provide any information that could help further the Dutch police’s investigation into the Dutch collaborator who provided the tip. He explained that the call was taken by his commanding officer, SS Lieutenant Julius Dettmann, who said only that the information came from “a reliable source”. As Dettmann had committed suicide in a POW camp after the end of the war, the second investigation also hit a dead end.

 

Although the Austrian government stated that the arrest of Anne Frank “did not warrant Silberbauer’s arrest or prosecution as a war criminal”, the Vienna Police convened a disciplinary hearing. Among the witnesses was Otto Frank, who testified that Silberbauer had “only done his duty and behaved correctly” during the arrest. Otto Frank added, however, “The only thing I ask is not to have to see the man again.”

As a result, the police review board exonerated Silberbauer of any official guilt. His unpaid suspension was lifted and the Vienna police assigned him to a desk job in the “Identification Office”, or Erkennungsamt.

However ,Silberbauer,was not only responsible for ruining the lives of Anne Frank and her family but of hundreds of other Dutch people.

Inspektor Karl Joseph Silberbauer died in Vienna in 1972.

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https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/08/04/the-betrayal-of-anne-frank-and-her-family/