Fritz Wiedemann

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Fritz Wiedemann (16 August 1891, Augsburg – 17 January 1970, Postmünster) was a German soldier and Nazi Party activist. He was the personal adjutant to Adolf Hitler, having served with him in World War I.[1]

War service[edit]

Wiedemann and Hitler first came into contact during the First World War when Hauptmann Wiedemann, as regimental adjutant, was Corporal Hitler's superior.[2] Along with Max Amann he was one of Hitler's strongest supporters in the regiment, nominating him for the Iron Cross, First Class on a number of occasions before the medal was given in 1918.[3] Whilst giving evidence at the Nuremberg Trials Wiedemann suggested that Hitler had failed to gain promotion in the regiment due to commanding officers viewing him as a 'Bohemian'.[4]

Hitler's adjutant[edit]

After the war Wiedemann left the army and became a farmer, initially refusing an offer from Hitler at the regimental reunion in 1922 to help organise the Sturmabteilung.[5] However when Hitler came to power Wiedemann accepted a new offer to link up with his former corporal, initially in the offices of Rudolf Hess before taking up his post at Hitler's side, as well as Nazi Party membership, on 2 February 1934.[6] From then on Wiedemann remained constantly at Hitler's side, accompanying him on state visits, facilitating meetings and dealing with Hitler's correspondence.[7] He also attended a meeting with Lord Halifax in July 1938 in which Wiedemann made it clear that Hitler intended to deal with the problem of the Sudetenland by force.[8]

Diplomatic service[edit]

Not long after this Wiedemann fell out of favour with Hitler as his rival Julius Schaub became the more important adjutant.[9] Seeking a way out in January 1939 Wiedemann was appointed Consul General to the United States in San Francisco.[10] In public, Wiedemann continued to support Nazism and apparently led a playboy lifestyle which included attendance at society parties, membership of the exclusive Olympic Club and regular appearances in the columns of Herb Caen.[11] Allegations levelled in a case filed at the city's Federal District Court in 1941 also suggested that he worked on pro-Nazi initiatives with Henry Ford.[12] In private, however, Wiedemann broke entirely with Nazism. He met with the British agent Sir William Wiseman, warning him of Hitler's unstable personality and urging Britain to attack Germany. He also offered to publicly denounce the German regime, but the White House at that time had no interest in such an offer.[13]

Dr Weber has found the records of Wiedemann's talks with him in 1940 in which Wiedemann openly warned against Hitler and claimed Hitler had a "split personality and numbered among the most cruel people in the world, saw himself better than Napoleon and that peace with him was impossible." He told Wiseman of the Fuhrer's plans to attack and conquer the UK and "recommended strongly" that the British themselves strike as quickly and as "hard as possible" against him.

He also told Wiseman that the morale of the German population and the support of Hitler were lower than generally believed.Dr Weber said if Hitler had known about Wiedemann's "treason," he would have given him the death pentalty.[14]

Wiedemann was subsequently sent to Tientsin where he was a central figure in German espionage in China.[15]

Wiedemann gave evidence at Nuremberg after the Second World War although charges made against him were dropped in 1948 and he subsequently returned to farming, disappearing from public life.[16]

In 2012 it was claimed that Wiedemann helped to save Hitler's Jewish commanding officer, Ernst Hess. Hess's daughter Ursula, by then 86 and still living in Germany, stated in an interview with the Jewish Voice that her father had met Wiedemann, with whom her served in the First World War, by chance and that when he later became Hitler's adjutant he had been able to secure concessions for Hess that were not otherwise open to Jews.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harold Charles Deutsch, Hitler and his Generals: The Hidden Crisis, January–June 1938, U of Minnesota Press, 1974, p. 41
  2. ^ Thomas Weber, Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Regiment, and the First World War, Oxford University Press, 2010, p.96
  3. ^ Weber, Hitler's First War, p. 215
  4. ^ Otis C. Mitchell, Hitler's Stormtroopers and the Attack on the German Republic, 1919–1933, McFarland, 2008, p. 36
  5. ^ Weber, Hitler's First War, pp. 260–1
  6. ^ Weber, Hitler's First War, p. 293
  7. ^ Weber, Hitler's First War, pp. 293-4
  8. ^ Peter Hoffmann, The History of the German resistance, 1933-1945, McGill-Queen's Press, 1996, p. 59
  9. ^ Fabrice d'. Almeida, High Society in the Third Reich, Polity, 2008, p. 69
  10. ^ W G Krivitsky, In Stalin's Secret Service, READ BOOKS, 2007, p. 20
  11. ^ Stephen Fox, Uncivil Liberties: Italian Americans Under Siege During World War II, Universal-Publishers, 2000, p. 46
  12. ^ David L. LewisThe Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company, Wayne State University Press, 1976, p. 152
  13. ^ T Weber, "Hitlers erster Krieg", List Taschenbuch, 2012; http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/hitlers-vorgesetzter-im-1-weltkrieg-warnte-briten-und-amerikaner-a-850712.html
  14. ^ in.news.yahoo.com/hitlers-chief-aide-urged-british-topple-him-peace-045558072.html
  15. ^ Ellis M. Zacharias, Secret Missions: The Story of an Intelligence Officer, Naval Institute Press, 2003, p. 193
  16. ^ Ernst Klee, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 675.
  17. ^ Ernst Hess, Jewish WWI Veteran, Protected By Hitler, Letter Suggests