Thomas Haller Cooper
|Thomas Haller Cooper|
British mugshot, 1945
29 August 1919|
|Died||1987, aged 67
|Other names||Tom Böttcher|
|Occupation||Activist, Member of British Free Corps|
Thomas Cooper was born in Chiswick to a British father, Ashley Cooper and a German mother Anna Maria, née Simon. His father was a photographer and commercial artist who had met Cooper's mother in Berlin.
Cooper attended Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith and upon leaving in 1936 attempted to find work. He was rejected by the Metropolitan Police, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, on each occasion the reason given was the fact he had a German mother. Extremely resentful of his treatment, Cooper joined the British Union of Fascists in September 1938.
A fluent German-speaker, Cooper contacted the German Academic Exchange Organisation in Russell Square, London. After a short period, he was offered a place at the RAD (Reichs Arbeits Dienst or German Labour Service) Office in Stuttgart, during the summer of 1939.
Caught in Germany at the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939, Cooper was arrested as an enemy alien. However, he was released after producing a certificate that his mother had obtained, classifying him as an ethnic German (a Volksdeutscher).
Thomas Cooper was offered an opportunity to join the SS. He eventually accepted. Thomas Cooper was ordered to return on 1 February 1940 at the Berlin Lichterfelde Barracks, the home of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. While at this camp, Cooper told his superiors that his father was now serving with British forces, and that he thought it was no longer appropriate to be serving with the SS. After being placed under arrest, Cooper reconsidered his position. He announced that he had decided to continue serving in the SS.
In July 1940, Cooper was transferred to the 8th Company, 5th Totenkopf Infantry Regiment based at Oranienburg to the north of Berlin. His task was to train recruits in the use of machine guns. He remained with this regiment until February 1941. At this time, Cooper had been moved to Płock, near the River Vistula, in Poland. Promoted to SS-Rottenfuhrer, he left the regiment to go to the SS NCO School at Lauenburg in Pomerania, for training which finished in May 1941.
Cooper was then moved to a subunit based at the Dębica training area near Kraków. Cooper's detachment centred on the security and administration of the training area. He was also promoted to SS-Unterscharfuhrer in November 1941.
Thomas Cooper was badly wounded in both legs in fighting the Russians during February 1943. He was carried back by his men to Schablinov. From there he was evacuated via Narva, Riga and Königsberg to Bad Muskau, a small town located near Görlitz. Thomas Cooper was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver, becoming the only Englishman to receive a German Combat decoration.
Cooper was tried for High Treason at the Central Criminal Court in January 1946, and sentenced to hang. An appeal failed, but days before his scheduled execution, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. The trial is covered in Rebecca West's "The Meaning of Treason".
Cooper was released in January 1953 and is believed to have emigrated to Japan. Author Adrian Weale states that he subsequently returned to England and died in early 1987, aged 67.
- Stratford, Steven. "British Military & Criminal History 1900 to 1999: Case of Tomas[sic] Haller Cooper". Retrieved 2 April 2014.
- Case of Thomas Haller Cooper Stephen Stratford's website
- Weale, Adrian, Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1994. ISBN 0-7515-1426-8
- Rebecca West, The Meaning of Treason.