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Krebs, a higher archive official's son, did his Abitur in 1917 after finishing school at the Gymnasium in Aschaffenburg and thereafter reported to the military as a volunteer. He was not deployed in the First World War.
Krebs was discharged in March 1919, leaving him free to begin studies in Germanistics, history, national economics, and English language in Würzburg, Tübingen, Marburg and Frankfurt am Main. In 1922, he graduated and in the same year, he joined the Nazi party, the NSDAP.
Krebs had been busying himself in the youth movement even before the war. Furthermore, during his studies, he was in the Gildenschaft (a Studentenverbindung umbrella group) and in the Freikorps von Epp and Oberland.
In March 1925, Krebs was working at the Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfen-Verband (German National Trade Assistants' Federation; DHV) in Spandau in Berlin. After the reorganisation of the NSDAP, Krebs joined it in May 1926, and was appointed on 4 November 1926 leader of a group that had formerly been downgraded from Nazi Gau to "local group" (Ortsgruppe). After the group was once again raised to Gau on 26 February 1928, Krebs became Gauleiter of Hamburg.
After some infighting, in which Krebs did not feel he was being supported enough by the party leadership in Munich, he stepped down as Gauleiter. His time in office officially ended in September 1928. After this time, Krebs began to distance himself from the NSDAP.
In April 1930, Krebs took over the leadership of the Hamburg Betriebszellenorganisation, a Nazi workers' organization.
A further career advance made it possible for him, starting in 1931, to work as honorary editor-in-chief of the Nazi daily newspaper Hamburger Tageblatt. Owing to an article published early in 1932 that was critical of Kurt von Schleicher's cabinet, Krebs was upbraided by Adolf Hitler personally and excluded from the Party.
Professionally, he continued his activities as a national education and cultural consultant at the DHV until its dissolution in April 1934. Thereafter he worked as a freelancer at the German Office Workers' Union (Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft; DAG). Working from September 1934 within the Hamburg Cultural Administration, Krebs was senate director in his last position.
Through his acquaintance with Fritz-Dietlof von der Schulenburg, to whom he had been introduced in 1942, Krebs knew in advance about the resistance's plans to overthrow the Führer and also about the attempt on Hitler's life. After it failed on 20 July 1944, he had to go underground.
In Denazification proceedings, Krebs was declared "released" in 1947 on the condition that he no longer engage in political activities. On appeal, however, that ban was overturned in proceedings in October 1949.
In his autobiographical chronicle, published in 1959, "Tendenzen und Gestalten der NSDAP" ("The NDSAP's Tendencies and Shapes"), Krebs portrayed himself as a contemporary who was at first impressed by National Socialism's political ideas and goals, but who after personal experience with Hitler's dictatorial leadership style and the "incompetence in the NS Führer State" withdrew, disappointed, from political life.