Rudolf Nadolny

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Rudolf Nadolny
Rudolf Nadolny in 1917
Born (1873-07-12)12 July 1873
Groß Stürlack, East Prussia, German Empire
Died 18 May 1953(1953-05-18) (aged 79)
Düsseldorf-Benrath, Germany
Occupation Diplomat
Children Burkard Nadolny

Rudolf Nadolny (12 July 1873 – 18 May 1953) was a German diplomat and military officer. During the First World War he worked in a branch of the German General Staff, which experimented in biological warfare. He was the German Ambassador to Turkey (1924–1933) and the Soviet Union (1933–1934) and head of the German delegation at the World Disarmament Conference (1932–1933). He sought to pursue close relations between Germany and the Soviet Union. Nadolny left the diplomatic service in opposition to Hitler's policy towards the Soviets.


Nadolny was born in Groß Stürlack, East Prussia (modern Sterławki Wielkie, Poland) to Heinrich (1847–1944) and Agnes Nadolny née Trinker (1847–1910). His father's family had been landowners in East Prussia since the 14th century. His mother's ancestors were Protestant exiles from Salzburg.[1][2]

Nadolny passed his Abitur at the gymnasium (school) of Rastenburg in 1892 and studied law at the University of Königsberg. Nadolny joined the German diplomatic service in 1902 and was deployed in St. Petersburg in 1903 -1907 where he witnessed the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the Russo-Japanese War. Nadolny was then sent to Persia, Bosnia and Albania.[1][3]

First World War[edit]

During the First World War Nadolny led the political section of the German General Staff the so-called ""Sektion Politik Berlin des Generalstabs". This group and Nadolny himself were responsible for acts of sabotage using explosives and biological warfare.[4][5] In 1915 Nadolny shipped anthrax and glanders (a horse disease that is also deadly to humans) cultures to the German embassy in Romania using them to target animals traded with the Russian Empire. The operation lasted till August 1916.[6][7] Bacteria used by Nadolny were prepared in Berlin, and from there Nadolny sent out the biological agents to Spain, United States, Argentina and Romania[8] It was Nadolny who sent the infamous Anton Dilger to the still neutral United States,[9] where Dilger engaged in one of the first acts of state sponsored bioterrorism during the 20th Century,[10][11][12]

In July 1916 he became the German chargé d'affaires in Persia, but returned to Germany in November 1917 to serve as the acting head of the Eastern department of the German Foreign Office. As such, Nadolny took part in the negotiations which led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.[1]

Interwar era[edit]

After the end of the First World War, Nadolny was the Foreign Office's representative in the Office of the German President. From January 1920 he led the German legation in Stockholm and became German ambassador to Turkey in May 1924.[1] During the interwar era Nadolny wrote that out of mixing of German and "Slavic" blood a new species and race would be born, an "East-Elbian" race,[13] and attacked the Czech national leader Masaryk for criticizing "Prussian Spirit", claiming that Czechs are just relatives of Prussians.[14]

From February 1932 to October 1933, Nadolny was the head of the German delegation at the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In November 1928, after the death of Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, the German ambassador in Moscow, Nadolny applied for this post but his efforts were vetoed by Gustav Stresemann. However, Nadolny became the German ambassador to the Soviet Union in autumn 1933. His attempts to enhance German–Soviet relations on the basis of the Treaty of Rapallo (1922) were largely unsuccessful as this contradicted Hitler's policy. Nadolny believed in 1933 that it was feasible for Nazi Germany to annex Polish territories in Pomerania in exchange for promising the Poles Lithuanian Memel[15]

Nadolny argued against the German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934 because of its influence on German–Soviet relations and urged "decent treatment" of Litvinov "even if he is Jewish".[16][17] In a conference with Hitler, Nadolny pointed out that in his view close ties with Russia were of essential interest, while Hitler rejected any compromise with Bolshevism. However, Nadolny admitted that a really friendly relationship with Russia was impossible.[18] The meeting, which was described as a "stormy one", ended with Hitler declaring the conversation finished while Nadolny answered that "the conversation had just begun".[19] On another occasion he addressed Hitler as "Herr Reichskanzler", as opposed to the common "Mein Führer", and refused to use the Nazi salute.[20] Nadolny resigned on 16 June 1934 and worked as an administrator of an estate. In World War II he served as a captain and later major at the Wehrmacht's High Command and on the staff of Admiral Canaris.[1]


In 1945 Nadolny, without a compromising Nazi party affiliation, became president of the German Red Cross and was active in the "Society for German reunification" and the "German Unity Association". With the growing tensions between the Western Allies and the Soviets, Nadolny was sometimes seen as a Soviet agent and generally mistrusted.[1][20]

During the Blockade of Berlin in 1948–49, Nadolny moved to West Germany. He died in 1953 in Düsseldorf.[1][20]


Nadolny married Änny Matthiessen (1882–1977) in 1905. Burkard Nadolny (1905–68) was their son and Sten Nadolny their grandson.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography" (in German). Neue Deutsche Biographie. 
  2. ^ "Biography" (in German). Bundesarchiv. 
  3. ^ Adams, Jefferson (2009). Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence. Rowman&Littlefield. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-8108-5543-4. 
  4. ^ Biological Warfare D.B. Rao page 172
  5. ^
  6. ^ Microbes:redefined Personality S.R. Joshi page 207
  7. ^ Susan D. Jones, Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax, page 137
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Susan D. Jones, Death in a Small Package: A Short History of Anthrax
  10. ^ Shayne Cox Gad, Handbook of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, State-sponsored bioterrorism, page 1577
  11. ^ Jeffrey Ryan, Jan Glarum, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Containing and Preventing Biological Threats, page 9
  12. ^ Bioterror. Die gefährlichsten Waffen der Welt | Kurt Langbein, Christian Skalnik, Inge Smolek, Bert Ehgartner, Michaela Streimelweger, Doris Tschabitsche page 67
  13. ^ Rudolf Nadolny Stollberg, Germanisierung oder Slavisierung?: Eine Entgegnung auf Masaryks Buch Das neue Europa, 1928 -
  14. ^ Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd, or, Procrustes at Large, page 232, 1943, reprinted 2007 Ludwik Mieses Institute
  15. ^ Collective security of isolation?: Soviet foreign policy and Poland, 1930-1935 Evropeiskiy Dom, page 34-35 "Rudolf Nadolny believed that "the assignment to Poland |of| a bank of Lithuanian territory leading up to Memel" was a "feasible solution"
  16. ^ Young, William (1994). German Diplomatic relations 1871–1945; The Wilhelmstrasse and the Formulation of Foreign Policy. pp. 199, 200. ISBN 978-0-595-40706-4. 
  17. ^ Russia and Italy against Hitler: the Bolshevik-Fascist rapprochment of the 1930s Joseph Calvitt Clarke, Greenwood Press, 1991, page 46
  18. ^ Russia and Germany by Walter Ze'ev Laqueur, page 177
  19. ^ Craig, Gordon A.; Gilbert, Felix (1994). The diplomats, 1919–1939. Princeton University Press. p. 417. ISBN 0691036608. 
  20. ^ a b c "Die Lieb' zum Vaterland". Der Spiegel (in German). April 1951. 
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff (- 1918)
German Ambassador to Turkey
Succeeded by
Frederic von Rosenberg
Preceded by
Herbert von Dirksen
German Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Succeeded by
Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg