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Dortmund - Fanfic help/ Biographies

Käpt'n Korky

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Good day ladies and gentlemen,

as some of you might have noticed I'm from the beautiful .... the city of Dortmund, germany. Please check wikipedia for further information ont he city and it's WWII history.

Some other might also have read my rant about "no KMS Dortmund" in the Gneisenau thread.

And finally @Wellington99 asked me about german names regarding a fanfic project.

So I thought: Were there any prominent naval officers from Dortmund? And the answer is yes. And maybe other interesting figures in the 1930's to 1940's? And again: Yes.

Starting today I will give relatively short biographies of those ladies and gentlemen.
And I'll start with THE most german named man anyone can ever come accross:

Heinz Stahlschmidt - The Bordeaux Chorlitz (later Henri Salmide)

Heinz was born on November 13th 1919 in Dortmund. As a young man he learned plumber before he joined the Kriegsmarine in 1939, where he became a demolition and explosion expert. He specialised in defusing British mines.

He was sunk three times during the war, but survived. For that reason he was given a landbased post 1941 in the harbour of Bordeaux and an entry on the honourlist of the Kriegsmarine.

When the western allies arrived in France after D-Day and it became clear they would not be pushed back into the ocean, the German high command ordered the port of Bordeaux to be destroyed. As member of the demolition squad Boatswain/ Petty officer Heinz Stahlschmidt got the orders. On August the 26th 1944 the port of Bordeaux was to be blown up, estimating about 3,500 casualties among the French who lived there. Faced with that order Heinz decided to not only defy it, but to save the city. He knew very well where and how the explosives were stored, so he send the guard away on the 22nd and blew up all explosives the Germans had in one grand explosion that shook the whole city.

About 50 German soldiers died and Heinz was immediately searched for by the Gestapo and military police. He was marked a traitor who was to be arrested or shot on sight. Heinz survived thanks to some resistance contacts from his love and later wife. They hid him even after the war was over, because when the French took over the city the French police and military police searched for him as well. He was a German and had served in the German occupation army after all.

He later became a naturalised French with the adopted name of Henri Salmide in 1947.

In Germany he was branded a traitor after the war (keep in mind the people and families of the people of the Stauffenberg conspiracy were also traitors to the german republic way until the mid 1980’s). He was stricken from the honourlist of the Kriegsmarine and not relisted after the war and also did not receive any soldier pension. He was stricken out of the people who could receive it because of treachery.

In France he joined the port firebrigade of Bordeaux (how fitting, I know) but received no credit for his deed, because the resistance took all the credit. Only in 1990 his story began to surface when a local French newspaper reported about his actions in 1944. He was later acknowledged as the saviour of Bordeaux and became a member of the French Legion of honour in 2000 for 23 years of civil service. The main building of the Bordeaux harbour was named after him in 2012. Also a small street the “Rue Henri Salmide” near the submarine base of Bordeaux was named after him.

He reportedly visited germany only one time again in 2001. To the city of Dortmund, natürlich.

About the events in 1944 he said, “It was the best thing I ever did in my life.”
Henri Salmide died on the 23rd of February 2010 in Bordeaux and was buried there.

For further information people fluent in French can read the book “Bordeaux brûle-t-il?” by Dominique Lormier. 17 pages of that book are about him. @Cuirassé_Richelieu

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Albrecht Brandi – One out of two

Albrecht Brandi was born on 20th of June 1914 in Dortmund. Son to Ernst Brandi, infamous for his support of the NSDAP since 1931 at least, contributing several times to the NSDAP before they came to power. His uncle Karl Brandi was a famous historian whose contribution and influence to the nazi ideology is highly debated. So it comes to no surprise, what Albrecht did when he graduated from school.

1st April 1935, right after graduation, Albrecht Brandi joined the Reichssmarine and successfully became Offiziersanwärter (officer aspirant, OA). This showcases his wealthy origin, since to enter the officer school directly after school, especially the navy one, came at a cost and origin mattered. Most “worker sons” had to work their way up through the ranks. Only 2 months later the Reichsmarine would be renamed into Kriegsmarine.

Brandi underwent soldier basic Training in Stralsund and maritime basic training aboard the Gorch Fock. After that he participated in the last training cruise around the world of the cruiser Karlsruhe as a Seekadett (seacadet). (Maybe she will get a Walküre? Her sister does.)

June 1936 he started his officer training courses in Flensburg-Mürwik (where in May 1945 the Dönitz government of defeated Germany would reside). He was promoted to Fähnrich zur See (zur See, z.S. = at sea) during his time at the academy. Those courses continued for a year until he was assigned as third officer of the watch/deck on the minesweeper M 125 on the 2nd Juli 1937.

The M1 and the outbreak of WW2

On the 2nd Oct 1937 he was assigned to the minesweeper M 1. He was promoted there to Oberfähnrich z.S. and later Leutnant z. S. both in 1938. A week prior to WWII M 1 moved marines, from the base in Memel to the Warship Schleswig-Holstein. Those marines would attempt to take the Westernplatte after the infamouas initial shelling. At the outbreak of the war M 1 was assigned for duty in the Danziger Bucht (Danzig bay, Zatoka Gdanza). The M 1 was relocated to the North sea already on 1st Oct. 1939.

Also on the 1st of October 1939 Brandi was promoted to Oberleutnant z. S.
On the 24th Feb 1940 the M 1 spotted and sank four neutral Danish fishing ships without warning by ramming near the Doggerbank. 16 danish fishermen died. Captain Bartels told the german command they weren’t saved because of “military reasons”.

Becoming a U-Boot commander

On the 25th of May 1940 Brandi was given command of the M 1 and carried out escort missions for nearly completed german submarines. Those missions gave him the idea to apply as U-Boot commander. After a first denial he was finally accepted in April 1941 and reassigned to the U-Boot fleet. He was commissioned as a U-Boot officer in December 1941. His first assignment on a U-Boot was as Kommandantenschüler (Commander-in-training) on the U-552, the “Teufelsboot” or “red devil”. Depending on which side of the torpedo tube you were looking at. Its Kapitän was Erich Topp, who lived up to his name, being one of the top U-Boot commanders. Topp sank the first US warship in 1941, the USS Reuben James, and later became an Admiral in the Bundesmarine. Look him up, he’s got a good story even after the war. Brandis first mission on U-552 was participating in a patrol near the Azores, but before they reached the area new orders were given to patrol the Canadian coast. Since they were initially headed for the more warm and mild Azores they had no winter clothing or similar equipment and the U-Boot wasn’t prepared, not even with detailed maps of the area around Canada. And it was January 1942. Nontheless they sank two ships before returning back to base at St. Nazaire. 

First assignment – U617

On January 28th 1942 he was stationed in Hamburg with the U-617. The boat was finally commissioned in Kiel on the 9th of April 1942. His U-Boot showed a raging bull on the tower. Already on his first journey from Kiel to the mission harbor in St. Nazaire he sunk 4 ships in the western approaches. His first victim was the Faroer ship TorII on September 7th. On October 1st he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant (shortened KaLeu, Lieutenant commander) before reaching France on October 8th and receiving the U-Boot war badge.

In November 1942 he carried out his second patrol into the Mediterranean sea, for which he had to break through the strait of Gibraltar. And because that wasn’t easy enough he did on November the 8th 1942, when Operation Torch started. He was spotted, although submerged, by a british plane and water bombarded. The two bombs missed entirely. On November the 19th Brandi attacked a british naval task force. After firing four torpedos, Brandi found himself hunted by several destroyers who waterbombed him for 4 hours. He reached La Spezia unharmed on the 28th of November 1942. 

Then came his third patrol between 1942 and 1943. He patrolled the coast of Lybia. He had a three hour long encounter with a british submarine, but after none of them could get into a proper firing position, U-617 dived away. He was credited with the sinking of 8 ships and 1 destroyer. For that reason he was awarded the Knight’s cross of the iron cross. 
On his fourth patrol he sunk among other ships the HMS Welshman, which was very inconvenient for the royal navy since it played a crucial role in securing Malta.
On his fifth patrol he claimed to have sunk a light cruiser and a destroyer and was awarded the oak leaves to the knight’s cross on his return to port on 11th April 1943.
On his sixth patrol he only spotted the british aircraft carrier HMS Illurtrous and HMS Formidable, but couldn’t attack.
On his seventh patrol he eventually lost U-617. After he had sunk the destroyer HMS Puckeridge off the Moroccan coast, he was spotted by the RAF. He managed to shoot down one of two aircrafts, but had to beach U-617 near the Spanish coast. The entire crew managed to reach spain in rubber rafts or swimming. They were interned in Cadiz, but returned to Germany in November 1943.

New U-Boote and ashore but one out of two

Back in Germany Brandi became commander of U-380 On it’s only patrol with Brandi U-380 sank no enemy ships. He also ran aground because of miscalculated navigation. His superiors were dissatisfied with his performance and U-380 was lost in another USAAF attack on March 11th 1944, just when it was fully equipped and ready to leave port in the next 24h. 3 crewmen died.

In April 1944 Brandi became commander of the U-967. He only patrolled once in May with it, but managed to sink the USS Fechteler. For this he got the swords to his Knight’s cross with oak leaves. He was the last sailor to receive it. He also was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (commander). 

After a stay in hospital, he was reassigned ashore in July 1944. He was appointed to the U-Bootkommando Ostsee (U-Boot command Baltic sea) and was in charge of submarine operations in the Gulf of Finland. He was so successful with his planning, he became awarded the diamonds to his knight’s cross. Making him one of only two navy personnel who have ever been awarded with it.

Brandi was then promoted to Fregattenkapitän (Captain) and transferred on the 18th Dec 1944 to Ijmuiden, Netherlands where he was Chief commander of the “Marinekleinkampfverbände” (naval small battle units, navy divers and small subs). He surrendered his units and command to Canadian forces on the 6th of May 1945.

Post war

After the war he settled in his hometown of Dortmund. He became an architect in Dortmund, Essen und Saudi-Arabia and even became chairman of the german architect association.
Eventually karma catched up (for killing the Danish fishermen) and he died 1966 from a sudden illness in Cologne of all places. He was buried at the Hauptfriedhof Dortmund. On the funeral one of his fellow officer-in-training crewmembers said about him “Er war ein Ritter ohne Furcht und Tadel” (“He was a knight without fear and failings.”). His grave is as unimpressive as I expected when I looked for it yesterday.

U-380 showed a big four-leaf-clover on it’s tower and U-967 a white crest with a four-leaf-clover painted over a black „7“.

If you have any additional informations or questions about Brandi, please feel free to add it to this topic.

The next famous german Kriegsmarine navy person born in Dortmund is a bit of a big fish. He was an Admiral who participated in both World Wars. So I will probably will make it at least a two post piece. One until 193X and the other until his death. He's the last of three navy members born in Dortmund I could find easily. So I will either dig deeper when he is done or switch to something else than Kriegsmarine navy members.

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  • 2 months later...

This one took and takes longer than anticipated. I hope it is a worthy article and you who takes the time and effort to read it will be satisfied.

Wilhelm F. Canaris - On His Majesty’s Naval Service


Wilhelm Franz Canaris was born January 1st 1887 in Aplerbeck, a town which became a part of the city of Dortmund in 1929. It was more or less coincidence he was born there, since his family migrated since a few decades through Europe. The Kanaris family originates in Greece and the famous Greece Konstatin Kanaris, a Greece national naval hero, probably motivated young Wilhelm to join the navy, even though he grew up in Duisburg, relatively far away from the sea. His branch of the family had only come under his father into the Ruhrgebiet and said father wanted young Wilhelm to join the cavalry rather than the navy.  For that reason he gifted his son with a horse when Wilhelm turned 15 and forced him to join the heavy cavalry regiment “Prinz von Bayern”, but his father died in 1904 because of a stroke. His mother gave him in 1905 finally the permission to join the imperial German navy. Due to his wealthy birth and his service in the cavalry he was enlisted as a Seekadett (sea cadet) right away. He graduated in 1907 as Fähnrich zur See (ensign), with one of his instructors remarking “In theory very talented, of iron diligence”.

-First naval services for the Reich-

His first assignment came in October 1907 on the small cruiser SMS Bremen. The Bremen was a station cruiser and first visited a lot of ports in South America and the Caribbean before touring US and Canadian ports. Canaris probably learned fluent Spanish and good English during those voyages. He helped his captain to install a network of informants in South America, using his new language skills and showed for the first time his remarkable social skills. He was promoted to Leutnant z.S. in September 1908 and became the adjutant of the captain of the Bremen. In this position he took part in the international blockade fleet of Venezuela and the negotiations in 1909, following a debt crisis with the Netherlands. The result was the overthrowing of the current president by the military after Germany convinced the president to leave the country for medical treatment. Canaris role in the negotiations to end the crisis was so important the new head of Venezuela, Juan Vicente Gómez, awarded Lt. Canaris with the Bolivar-order (V. class). The Bremen took part in the New York Hudson-Fulton parade in 1909. Soon after Canaris was reassigned to several torpedo boats to test his skill as a commanding officer. The results were positive and he was promoted to Oberleutnant (Lt. 1st class) in 1910. 

In 1911 he was assigned to the second famous cruiser of the two ship Dresden-class, the SMS Dresden. (The most famous being the SMS Emden, natürlich.) Before she became a small legend, Canaris and the Dresden took themselves out of service for several months in 1911 by colliding with the cruiser Königsberg. Back in service they visited Valetta together and then the Dresden was assigned in the Mediterranean division, centered around the SMS Goeben (Down, DYM, down!). The division was to patrol the area of the eastern Mediterranean to protect German shipping during the second Balkans war. Canaris got the special task to oversee the building of the Baghdad railway…. which would eventually be blown up under the supervision of a certain Lawrence of Arabia a few years later. 

After a few months the Dresden was ordered back to Kiel for an overhaul and then assigned to the South America station of the German imperial fleet. The reason was the Mexican revolution where the Dresden was to protect German citizens and ended up with 2000 US-citizens on her. This was due to a rescue mission the SMS Dresden rolled out together with the HMS Hermione to rescue non-Mexicans from Hotels in Vera Cruz. All US citizens were returned to the US safely. Soon after that rescue the Dresden took part in the “Ypiranga Incident”. The Ypiranga was sent to Mexico with small arms for the Mexican federal government, since the USA had issued a weapons embargo against Mexico. The Ypiranga arrived in Vera Cruz just one day after the US had occupied the city and was detained. One day later the Dresden arrived and reminded the US troops of the illegality of such actions, since the US had not declared war on Mexico, nor declared a blockade to enforce the embargo against other nations. The Dresden “confiscated” the merchant ship, let it unload in the nearby, unoccupied Puerto Mexico, and then “forced” it to transport German refugees out of Mexico. At the end of the civil war the Dresden transported the toppled Huerta, his vice-president and their families to Kingston, Jamaika, where they were granted asylum by the British Empire. They arrived in Jamaika on July 25th 1914, just days before WWI broke out.

I could not find any written record or statement of the role Canaris played during the evacuation of Huerta, but given his service in Venezuela he was probably pretty involved.

-The war to end all wars- Part 1, SMS Dresden

When the war broke out the Dresden was ordered to fight a cruiser war against Entente ships in the southern Atlantic. The only problem was a huge one: Coal was low on the cruiser. If no british coal transport was to be seized, the war would be over for the Dresden, before the Royal Navy had time to ….. well, spoilers. Wait for it. But Canaris saved the day…. And the war effort of the Dresden. He knew some german merchants in Chile and Argentinia and organized a coal transport to come to the Dresden and it worked fine. On the 10th of August the Dresden stocked up on coal and started its war. On the way to the rendezvous point the Dresden stopped three British merchants but let them go because the captains could convince Cap. Lüdecke not to know about the war declaration.
In September 1914, after some small successes in the Atlantic, the Dresden was ordered to change its position into the Pacific to wait for the Ostasiengeschwader under the command of Vice-admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee (yes, that one). Since the Dresden knew via Canaris contacts in Chile and Argentinia where the British hunters were, they escaped into the Pacific met up with the SMS Leipzig and together met the fleet of von Spee at the Easter Islands. The then following Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands are worth their own articles by a historian/history nerd more professional than me. But yeah, the German fleet gave the world the first defeat of the Royal Navy since some defeats against the US Navy a hundred years earlier.
For the reconnaissance via his contacts prior to the battle of Coronel Canaris was awarded the iron cross 2nd class.
This annoyed the Royal Navy so much, they send a fleet definitively capable of sinking the Ostasiengeschwader near the Falklands. The German ships were sunk and only the Dresden escaped. She was finally scuttled by its own crew, while the British shelled her in the Chilean port of San Juan Bautista, Robinson Islands on the 14th March 1915 (illegally yes, but the Royal Navy was really very annoyed). It’s still there, if you want to pay it a visit. The whole story of the Dresden is probably worth an article by a person more capable than me.
The crew, including Canaris, was interned by Chile. End of story….? No!

-The war to end all wars- Part 2, Back home and back in action

Canaris successfully escaped the internment camp (which was more like a German colony, they even started collecting and cataloging fossils, while building and maintaining a small village) and for the first time in recorded history vanished to switch places with the Chilean merchant Reed Rosas. He rode over the mountains from Chile to Argentina and sailed to Portugal and from there to Portsmouth, England. Yes, England. His disguise was so good, the English port control suspected nothing and after proceeding to the Netherlands or Norway he reached Kiel or Hamburg. Alone or with others. My sources are contradictory on that point. There he reported about the destiny of the Dresden and was reassigned to the U-Boot section.
His first assignment was Spain in November 1915. His job was to organize a supply line with Spanish merchants for German U-Boote and a network of recon contacts to report about enemy ship movements. To fulfill his task he again switched into the role of the Chilean merchant Reed Rosas. But he wanted frontline action and asked for a reassignment. His request was granted and in February 1916 he tried to reach the German border via Switzerland, but was captured by the enemy and imprisoned in Genoa, Italy. He somehow managed to escape, get back to Spain and managed a dramatic pick-up with U-35 in a bay near Cartagena. The French were informed by a mole in the German embassy, so the French submarine Opale and an auxiliary cruiser were actually looking for them in said bay.
Back in Germany in autumn 1916 Canaris was awarded the iron cross 1st class for his service in Spain and was finally assigned for training as U-Boot commander.
His first U-Boot he was assigned to was the UC-27 on which he only made training cruises (I assume, since UC-27 was pretty successful, but has no real record with him as commander).
After he finished training, he was assigned sub-commander (badum-tuss) on U-34 in which he made his first combat cruise. He claimed his first sinkings on January 28th and 30th , a French and a British cargo ship respectively. He left the U-34 in May 1918 to command the newly commissioned UB-128. The UB-128 the first try to reach the Austro-Hungarian port of Kotor in the Adriatic Sea was aborted since one crewmember got seriously sick and some technical problems nearly sank the U-Boot. A second try from August to September 1918 was successful. A British torpedo missed when they tried to break through into the Atlantic. On August 21st Canaris and UB-128 claimed their only victim, the French coal freighter Champlain. They reached Kotor in early September 1918, but already left the port on 28th Oct. 1918, due to the crumbling of the Austro-Hungarian state. 10 U-Boote were scuttled and the other 15 tried to reach Germany. On November 8th he tried to break through the completely blockaded strait of Gibraltar. The Royal and US Navy blocked his path and spotted him with spotlights on the Spanish side of the strait. He was attacked with 7 water bombs and the boat lost depth control and found itself in 60m depth, when control was finally reestablished. The following night Canaris found the pursuers left and he was finally able to get into the ocean. There the news about the armistice reached him on November 12th 1918. According to orders he cruised to the Kors-Fjord in Norway, where his U-Boot met up the remaining U-Boote of the Mediterranean area and together they reached Kiel on 29th of November 1918. The war to end all wars was over.

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Ha, finally held my update schedule! *celebrates germanly*

Wilhelm F. Canaris – Weimar Republic years

12. November 1918. The war to end all wars was over. 31 years old Wilhelm Canaris moored his U-Boot and left the seas. UB-128 was to be eventually surrendered to the Royal Navy.
And Canaris? Canaris faced a republic he really disliked.

-Helping the republic to fight-

When Canaris arrived in Kiel the Governor of Kiel, social-democrat Gustav Noske, held a speech to inform the sailors about the situation in Germany. The sailors had rebelled, the republic was declared and an armistice signed. Canaris immediately joined the forces of Wilfried of Loewenfeld. The group organized an anti-republican pool of navy officers and sailors and managed to get more or less rid of all “red” sailors in Kiel. Canaris was assigned to handle the contacts with the politicians, especially Gov. Noske. The sailors were successful in working with Noske, who was a right-wing social-democrat, meaning he hated communists and did not want to work with them. The most prominent example was the “Spartakus uprising in January 1919. How it came to be is very complicated, but in January 1919 the communist party tried to seize the power in Berlin. Noske had become part in the government as “people’s representative for the military forces”. Which more or less meant he was supreme commander of officially non-existent military forces. And all the right wing non-existing military forces (“Freikorps”) were more or less loyal to him…. Or at least loyal to the cause of fighting and killing commies. So they did. The two leaders of the German communists, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg (yes, a woman), are a worthy read for their own, but on that January 1919 they were killed by members of a Freikorps led by Wilhelm Pabst and somehow Canaris was a part of the whole affair. He still served his role as contact officer (Verbindungsoffizier, cf. signature of @Ninjapacman ) and made sure the intentions of Noske and Pabst, were on par. And on the 15th January 1919 Luxemburg and Liebknecht were killed by the Freikorps. The real circumstances are very muddy and no one can tell for sure where Canaris was that day. But most people believe, and evidence supports it, he was somehow involved. Officially he was a member of the Loewenfeld-Freikorps, but he was kind of promoted in between to be the contact officer for much more military units who wanted to coordinate or simply talk to Noske. And Noske was in charge of every military operation in Berlin and the rest of Germany.
For its faithful service to the republic Canaris could convince Noske to “promote” the group to the 3rd Brigade Marines in February 1919. Thus making them an official military force of Germany. He also served the Navy in negotiations with the parliament when it was decided to form the “Reichsmarineamt” (Navy office of the Reich), which later would become the Navy command.
Since simply killing some civilians (who technically weren’t part of the rebellion, but of course the leaders of the movement which carried out the rebellion) still was and is a crime in Germany an investigation was demanded and started which led to a trial. In May 1919 a
military (!) court was constituted to judge over the now identified suspects of the illegal killings/ murders of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. The chief justice of the court was…. Wilhelm Canaris.
Unsurprising for everyone six of the nine suspects six were acquitted of all charges. All nine were acquitted of some charges, including murder. Two were convicted to two years in prison and one to 6 weeks of arrest in his barracks. The two sentenced to prison were freed soon after. And the main suspect, Vogel, was freed by Canaris himself. That fact is agreed upon and Canaris was even sentenced to prison for it. He served four days in prison in Berlin before the prison sentence was modified to an “honor detention” in the Berlin castle, the military HQ, and later acquitted by a military tribunal, whose members were exclusively picked from the very same Freikorps (Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division) that carried out the murders. How convenient for him.
For his faithful service to the republic (and Noske) the now Reichsminister of the military Gustav Noske made Canaris his personal adjutant and put him in charge of all affairs regarding the Navy. And Canaris got married with Erika Waag, daughter of an industrial. It was seemingly an arranged marriage
, but I could be wrong and the couple had two daughters.

-A putsch–

In February 1920 the allied commission demanded the disbanding of all Freikorps in Germany. Because they were officially not listed as military units but acted like military units and exceeded the 100.000 regulation of the treaty of Versailles by far. So Noske had to order the Freikorps to disband on 29th February 1920. And Canaris switched sides.
He was sent by Noske to inspect the Marines in Kiel, if they showed any signs of disobedience or were even preparing for a military coup. Canaris arrived on March 12th and found all Marines ready for action, assembled and waiting for the marching orders to start the coup. He reported to Noske “no signs for coup related activities” and joined the Marines, he never really left.
Most of the Freikorps went into revolt and initiated what is now known as the Kapp-Lüttwitz-Putsch or Kapp-coup. The Freikorps seized power in Berlin on the March 13th and other parts of the Reich under the command of General Lüttwitz and declared Kapp as chancellor. The army refused to act on their comrades in the Freikorps and therefor all members of the parliament and the government fled Berlin. The very next day the socialist and communist movement called upon all workers for a general strike. And it worked. Kapp never got a real power grip, because the workers, the industry and, most importantly, the civil administration refused to work with him.
And the Reichswehr stayed neutral. The putsch was over after 4 days and the republic had prevailed. 
Canaris was arrested but again acquitted, this time by a civil court, because there was no evidence he helped to prepare the coup. He justified his actions with the sentence:
“I had the choice to follow Noske or the squad.” The new Reichsminister of the military transferred Canaris nonetheless. He became first officer of the Navy station of the Baltic Sea. Canaris was 33 years old.

-Something something secret-

Canaris used his expertise in secret operations to manage some illegal weapon trades in the Baltic area. Especially Denmark was now his field of operation. He made contacts with some right wing underground organisations, like the Organisation Consul (OC). OC was a right wing terrorist organization which made a great deal of money and acquired a lot of weapons via Canaris. The OC was infamously responsible for the murder of Michael Erzberger (first to sign the armistice of Compiegne) and Reichsminister for foreign affairs Walter Rathenau. OC also attempted to murder other politicians but was eliminated by the republic in 1923. Two of its members later became bodyguards of Adolf Hitler. The trading partner on the other side in Denmark btw was often the IRA among others. But since the Royal Navy was better than the Irish smugglers close to none German weapons took part in the Irish war of independence.
Canaris carried on with his secret arms trade and serving as the first officer so well his superior noted in his file: "With purposeful untiring labor, prudent and clear judgment, energetic yet humble demeanor, secure and forward-looking organizational gift, he (Canaris) has an excellent part in the successes in the reconstruction of the men discipline and the solution of all military tasks and endeavors of the station commando."
In June 1923, coincidently (?) with the liquidation of OC, Canaris was transferred to the small cruiser Berlin as first officer, under the command of Wilfried von Loewenfeld, (Remember him?). There he met a certain Reinhard Heydrich, who would become the architect of the Holocaust, which he befriended. The Canaris and Heydrich family became close friends until the end of Heydrich in 1942. He also was promoted to Korvettenkapitän during his service aboard the Berlin.
Canaris served on the Berlin until May 1924, when he was sent on a mission to Osaka, Japan. A secret mission, natürlich. He was to report on the progress of the semi-secretly developed U-Boote for the Reichsmarine. When the mission was scrapped officially because the British found out and were not happy about the treaty violation, Canaris moved the secret mission to Spain. With his old spy network and his excellent knowledge of Spain and Spanish he was able to get the production of U-Boote for the Finnish, Turkish and Spanish navy underway. By producing in a Spanish wharf for third party/neutral countries the operation avoided detection and the German technicians developed new U-Boot types and techniques.

-Some revealed secrets-

Canaris operated undisturbed in Spain until 1926, when he was summoned to a “committee of enquiry of the German parliament about questions of responsibilities for everything related to the First World War”. And yes the work of that committee was as complicated and extensive as its English title. If you are really interested in the “German side” of the First World War you should look into the files that committee assembled. However, Canaris defended the Navy, repeating every lie and excuse the military had come up with since 1918. He denied a rebellious attitude of the sailors. That attitude was, according to Canaris, brought into the Navy by agents from the outside. And he also took care the Navy high commands true intentions – dying in glory at sea, taking thousands of sailors with them against the royal navy, instead of seeking peace and not wasting men and material in a futile battle - were not officially revealed. Due to his role in that committee he was targeted by pro-republican and anti-militaristic press.
That media attention also resurfaced the question of Canaris involvement in the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919, including the freeing of the alleged killer Vogel. It also showed in the press how Canaris seemingly sat in the center of everything when it came to rightwing anti republic movements and their money, like the weapons trade for OC. Canaris had a hard time fighting those accusations off and just when he was about to relax for a minute the Lohmann-affair happened. For those who didn’t read about it in the KMM or don’t know about it from other sources: The Lohmann-affair brought to daylight a secret and highly illegal program of the military. In a “black money pot” the military sold illegally ships and equipment meant for scrapping or the Entente and used the money to issue secret projects for a rearmament, like Canaris in Spain did, on the one hand and also trained and equipped secret fighting forces, like Marines fighting against French and Belgian occupation in the Ruhr region, on the other hand. (Yes, the thing Korky did, cf. link above.) The Reichsminister of the military Geßler and the Admiral of the Navy Hans Zenker had to resign. Despite all that pressure Canaris proceeded with his career in the Navy and successfully negotiated a secret agreement with Spain about the training of German naval troops in Spain.   

-Out of the “spotlight”-

The new Admiral of the Navy, Erich Raeder*, took Canaris and removed him from Spain and all secret operations. He feared Canaris would get sloppy in his secrecy and Raeder certainly did not want to share the fate of Zenker, who had to resign because of such a thing.
So Canaris was transferred to the Schlesien as first officer in June 1929. When things calmed down around Canaris, he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän and transferred into the position of chief of staff of the North Sea station of the Navy. There he faced again accusations regarding the freeing of Vogel and his role in the Luxemburg-Liebknecht affair, during a trial against one of the journalists who had targeted him in the 1920’s. The charge was treason.
The Navy gave a “declaration of honour” in Canaris favour and nothing could be stuck to Canaris. The journalist, Berthold Jacob, was acquitted btw.
After the trial Canaris was promoted to Kapitän zur See. He was given the command of the Schlesien on the 29th of September 1932. 1932 also was the year Canaris publicly held a speech in front of his man, praising National Socialism for the first time. That’s where I will continue next time.

*The also supreme Admiral of the Navy in 1939, and thus when VB will begin.

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Wilhelm F. Canaris – On the Führers secret service

Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Canaris was given the command of the Schlesien on the 29th of September 1932.

-Loving the Nazis-

Aboard the Schlesien Canaris reportedly told his sailors “national socialism depicts everything a good German soldier stands for”. His superior noted that "I must emphasize the untiring efforts of Kapitän z.S. Canaris, in the second year by personal lectures to familiarize his crew with the ideas of the national movement and the principles of state building of the new Reich." The Nazis seemed to be for Canaris everything he hoped for. Throwing away the shackles of Versailles, uniting the country inside and geographically, restoring Germany to its former glory and, probably most importantly, restoring the German military to its former glory. Canaris also received the honor of seeing the Schlesien becoming the flagship of the Reichsmarine, when the former flagship, the Schleswig-Holstein was turned into a training vessel. Former SS General Werner Best said, Canaris was an inverted Nazi and Canaris felt the Nazis were better than anything that had gone before. In 1934 Canaris was moved to a “retirement post” as fortress commander of Swinemünde. It seemed like a dead end, Canaris was also already 50 years old, but that proved wrong. The chief of the Navy, Erich Raeder, seemed to have a close relationship with Canaris as he wrote in a private, friendly toned letter dated 11th November 1934: "I've always had the plan to put you in the position of Chief of the Abwehr Department, if possible. Unfortunately, the conditions in this before the 1st of October were not yet clear to see. Now, however, they have developed in such a way that a change in the leadership is possible in this winter half-year, presumably around January 1st, by order of the Minister. The Minister has endorsed my suggestion that you take the position." His predecessor, Kapitän Patzig, seemingly honoured his name (patzig translates to stroppy or snotty) and fell in disgrace with the Nazi regime by antagonizing the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) of the SS a bit too much. Patzig warned Canaris to look out for the SS who would try to harass him and his work to which Canaris replied: "Rest assured, I can handle these boys." Of course he could, because his old friend Reinhard Heydrich was inventor and chief of the SD and had become a close aid of Himmler, the SS-leader. This constellation lead almost immediately to a very harsh competition and both became best “frenemies” until 1942, when Heydrich was assassinated. Canaris moved with his family to Berlin and Heydrich became his neighbour. The families went together on vacations and they visited each other frequently when both men were in Berlin. At the same time their two services fought for influence and power in the Reich and both couldn’t overpower each other. Or as the man who succeeded both of them in the unified intelligence service after 1944, Walter Schellenberg, claimed: “Both have had each other completely with loads of material in hand. So no one could do something against the other, otherwise he would have put himself in danger.” Canaris supposedly had files about a non-Aryan grandmother of the rival, while Heydrich collected material about resistance in the defense. And while doing so the family contact of both families never broke off. 

In the beginning Canaris struggled a bit due to his low height and unmilitary appearance to get the needed respect and authority as head of the military intelligence service. But over time he showed everyone what he was capable of. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral in 1935 and came to an agreement with the SD in 1936. During that time he expanded the Abwehr immensely and professionalised it. He also had the upper hand in experience in comparison to Heydrich, who never had any real intelligence service experience prior to meeting Himmler and getting the job of forming the SD in 1932. A time when Canaris already had nearly two decades of service in secret operations. But his new post gave Canaris new insights into the Nazi regime. He came to refer to Heydrich as a “brutal fanatic” although Canaris subscribed to almost every idea the Nazis stood for. Hitler's nationalism, his social-Darwinist beliefs, his opposition to the Versailles Treaty, his belief in rebuilding a Greater German Reich, and his anti-Semitic ideology appealed to the Abwehr chief. Although one biography states Canaris suggested the “Judenstern” first in 1935, I can find more solid evidence it was Heydrichs suggestion, after the general idea of a “Mark for the Jews” was popularised as early as 1933 (yellow dot). 

-Canaris the international-

Canaris talent for the spy game lead to the Abwehr becoming the most internationally connected service of all the German (secret) services. He had close relationships with the Spanish secret services, but especially with the military and with the Italian secret service. He also advocated and succeeded in the fostering of a very close relationship with the Japanese intelligence service. So close in fact, that the Japanese allowed officers of the Abwehr into the interrogation of a defected NKVD General in 1937. He was apparently one of the driving forces to side Germany with Japan instead of nationalistic China. (Canaris = weeaboo, confirmed!)
But his much, much better understanding of Spain led him to build up an extensive network of spies and informants on the Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish civil war started on July 17th 1936 and since the bulk of the Falangist forces were in Morocco at the time, Franco asked the Reich for ten Ju-52 transport aircraft. Canaris debated with Göring and Hitler about getting involved in the conflict and made the Lufthansa (not the Luftwaffe) send 20 (instead of 10) Ju-52. They probably even came with good looking stewardesses and a filled up mini bar (just joking, but even the CIA recommends the Lufthansa….). The Italians also send 12 transport aircraft. Without Canaris the coup of the Falangist forces would have been over before it even started. Canaris also worked to convince Hitler and the OKW (Oberkommando Wehrmacht – Supreme command of the military) to form the Legion Condor to help Franco in his battle for Spain. The nationalist forces in Spain also had the initial problem of having two disconnected sectors under control and insufficient radio equipment. Canaris helped them with that problem as well. The Abwehr managed all radio transmissions necessary. And eventually Canaris reached out to the Italian chief of intelligence, Mario Roatta, to suggest an Italian Legion for the fascists in Spain. Canaris was present on the meeting in Rome, where the Italian military high command decided to aid Franco. Canaris also frequently flew to Spain to ease tensions between Spanish, German and Italian forces and commanders. He also saw to it, that the ambassador of Germany in Spain, Faulpel, was replaced, because Faulpel often intervened when German prisoners of the international brigade were to be executed. He also took care to replace the commander of the Legion Condor, Hugo Sperrle, because he was an asshole who pissed off the Spanish generals with his arrogance, among other things, more than once. Spain also proves how complicated the structures between the Abwehr of Canaris and the SD of Heydrich was (and how much Hitler loved to put his commanders into rivalry, not caring about effectiveness). The Abwehr issued a part of the GFP (Geheime Feldpolizei – secret field police) as secret service of Legion condor, but it was staffed by the SD, but under the command of the Legion Condor itself and reported, if ever, to the local headquarter in Spain, be it of Legion Condor or the Spanish army. So Canaris was about everywhere involved in Spain, but his “core business” was kind of out of his hands in Spain.

-Something changes- 

Up until 1936 Canaris fully backed Hitler and everything the Nazis did, saying "He's (Hitler) approachable and sees something, if you just give it to him correctly." and "If you're a really good soldier, you'll be a good National Socialist, too." But in 1937 something changed. And I as an amateur writer find myself in shallow waters, because now comes the part where some stories are poorly backed by evidence or fabricated to spin some kind of “resistance mythology” around Canaris. The only thing that’s for sure is: He changed the sides and fought the republic again (Nazigermany was still a republic, “just” an undemocratic one. Technically even the Weimar constitution was still in effect.)
Canaris became aware of the true nature of the Konzentrationslager (KZ – concentration camps) and the bombing of Gernika left him reportedly shocked. Canaris asked in Winter 1936 Himmler if it was possible for some members of the OKW, including himself, to visit a KZ, because he had heard a bit more than rumors. They visited the KZ Sachsenhausen, north of Berlin, and were greeted by the inspector general of all KZs, Theodor Eicke, and some freshly tortured inmates on display. The KZ staff talked very chipper about torture methods and offered to show some of them to the guests. All of this served unwillingly the goal of Canaris, to show the OKW the inhumanity of the regime. And in autumn 1937 he told his predecessor Patzig that the Nazis “from top to bottom, they are all criminals who destroy Germany” and when Patzig asked how Canaris could remain as head of the Abwehr under such circumstances, Canaris replied: “If I leave, Heydrich comes. Then all is lost. I have to sacrifice myself.”

Why “sacrifice”? Well Canaris knew with his attitude he was no anti-Hitler hero. He was just a normal German, who kind of was okay with the political targets of Hitler in general, who held the rank of Rear-Admiral and could do “things”, but if he tried to fully save the day a lot of stuff would go much worse than it maybe would go under his influence and who thought the Nazis “simply went too far”. In 1937. So he knew he would carry out what we define today as crimes against humanity to protect the small achievements and sabotages he hoped to accomplish. The first example of this is the infamous Anschluss of Austria 1938.

-Anschluss and resistance-

In preparations for the Anschluss Canaris staged a lot of missions against Austria to prepare the country for occupation and annexation masked as a vote. His service executed all tasks with excellence. But when it was achieved in March 1938 he got to the Austrian secret service first, seized the files about leading Nazis for the Abwehr and recruited two Austrian top-spies and told them: “Recruit me some people of your service. And bring Austrians, no Ostmärker, especially to Berlin.” Ostmark was the name of the province which Austria became in the 3rd Reich after the Anschluss. Canaris had changed. He organised and covered for two big resistance circles inside the Wehrmacht. And he was only one of two Navy officers I could find among them. In a very long list and beyond. If you know of another one please tell me (The other one was Korvettenkapitän Alfred Kranzfelder. Admiral Bürkner was in Canaris inner circle, but was not active part of the resistance). The navy probably had less “traitors”, because Raeder and Dönitz made very sure the Navy loved the party and showed it. And initially Canaris helped them as shown above. Also the Navy was part of relatively few crimes. The one resistance circle he was only passively covering up a bit was the “Anti-Hitler” resistance group around the judge Hans von Dohnanyi. The other one was the “Anti-War” resistance around the Oberleutnant Hans Oster, who was given an important position in the Abwehr by Canaris. The members of each circle changed over time, Oster himself even switched into the Anti-Hitler circle, but later than around early 1938.

On April 1st 1938 Canaris was promoted to Vice-Admiral since his Abwehr did a good job, preparing the Anschluss in March. In the following months Canaris did little to prevent the crisis with Czechoslovakia and the Abwehr even helped to prepare acts of sabotage and terrorism in case a war broke out. The Abwehr also took part in preparations for a war against Poland. They recruited Ukrainian volunteers, also for sabotage when a war would break out. They also infiltrated the polish territory. The only “acts of resistance” were firm protest against the planned bombardment of Warzaw, which should be bombarded no matter how the war was going and Canaris took notes. Notes of a speech of Hitler on the 22. August 1939 about the war in front of 50 military officers of the OKW. It was forbidden to take notes, but Canaris not only took notes but read those notes to his inner staff, who were all in on the “low level” resistance plan. And one of them slipped an American journalist of the Associated Press a note about it, with a date for the attack and that journalist gave it to the British on the 25th of August 1939. 

And the Brits stepped up and stopped Hitler before he could do anything and the war was prevented, Poland was saved and…. Ah who am I kidding, we all know at least in general what happened. It’s also the point where the resistance activities of Canaris become more active. But I will now leave you hanging until at least the beta of VB is out. Unless @Legate of Mineta tells me otherwise, because I don’t want to spoil everything in case they have built Canaris or the Abwehr or some references cunningly into the game.

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  • 2 months later...

So I won’t continue Canaris and move on to some minor, non naval people from Dortmund who did something in Germany during the rule of Hitler. Let’s start/continue with a convicted war criminal.


Dr. Walter Blume – Front row seat in the holocaust


Walter Blume, whose last name translates to “flower”, was born 23th of July 1903 and was the son of a teacher and studied law to become “Assessor”, a high ranking public servant at german courts. He managed to do so in 1932 and became assessor at the city-court of Dortmund, but without a salary (Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either. It was apparently a thing in those years.) So when a friend offered him to switch over into the police force he did. Thus he became the leader of the political branch of the police in Dortmund in March 1933. Subsequently he joined the SA and the NSDAP in May 1933 and even made his doctorate in law. He also started working for the SD, the Sicherheitsdienst, I mentioned from time to time in the Canaris biography. It was the secret service of the SS, to which he switched in 1935. Before he did this he was recruited by the Prussian secret state police, served as leader of the secret police branches in several german cities and thus gained the attention of the leader of the SD, Reinhard Heydrich. He was promoted and in December 1939 became the leader of the Gestapo of Berlin. He served in that position until March of 1941, when he was ordered into the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reichssecuritymainoffice), more than less the central SS-HQ. He became the head of human resources and was tasked with organizing and developing the new “Einsatzgruppen” (task forces). Whose sole purpose was to kill civilians behind the front lines, foremost Jews, partisans and “Gypsies”. “Gypsy” was everyone who was not a Jew, not a (suspected) partisan, but was “suspicious” or “odd” in any other way. Not only Roma.

In June 1941 he was appointed commander of the “Sonderkommando 7A” and by his own accounts ordered the murder of 24.000 people until he was recalled to Berlin in September 1941. To get a promotion, natürlich, but also he was allegedly recalled because he was reluctant to shoot women and children, which gave him a reputation of being “weak”.
He was promoted to the public servant rank of “Ministerialrat”, a high ranking officer inside a ministry or similar high office and to “SS-Standartenführer” (equals Major in normal armies). Dr. Blume was given a quiet desk job until he was reassigned to Slovenia to “firefight” partisan activity. He was then for a brief period president of the whole police force of Düsseldorf, before he was again reassigned, this time to Athen in August 1943. There he became the leader and commander of the police and the SD, making him effectively the SS-leader of occupied Greece. He organized the deportation of the remaining ~45.000 Grecian Jews to Auschwitz. He got “specialists” send for this task, selected by a certain Adolf Eichmann personally. For Christmas Blume gifted his men with valuable possession, taken from those Jews. When he left Greece, it was considered “judenfrei” (free of jews). 

In 1945 Blume was captured by the US army near Salzburg, Austria and taken in custody. He was later trialed in the Einsatzgruppen Trials of the Nuremberg Trials. He was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, war crimes and membership in three criminal organizations (SS, SD and Gestapo) in 1948, but through an amnesty that death sentence was converted into a prison sentence of 25years in 1951. He even was set free in 1955 and started working again. He was again arrested in 1968 and trialed by the Bremen state court for the deportation of the jews from Greece, but all charges were dropped(!). He died peacefully in 1974 in Dortmund, he was personally responsible for the death of at least 65.000 civilians.

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Wilhelm Krane – What’s up Doc?


Wilhelm Krane was born in summer 1902 in Dortmund as the son of a railway employee, which was a public agency back then. He visited a good school when the first World War broke out and in 1918, just before the war ended, he forged his identity card so he could enlist in the Kaisers army. He experienced the last few war months in the west.

After the war he resumed his school career only to stop it shortly after the war to join a Freikorps and fight the “leftist anarchists” of the early Weimar republic. He did so until 1922, when he quit the Freikorps and resumed his school life again to finally get his Abitur (degree which permits entry to universities) and started to study chemistry. In 1923 he switched over to medicine and got his doctorate in the same year as Dr. med. He then assited teaching medicine in Münster before he took a post as a doctor at the womens clinic of Münster.

For unknown reasons he joined the Reichswehr in 1930 as a medical officer and was assigned to an infantry regiment. He was stationed in East-Prussia and served as doctor for the infantry, while also acting as a doctor in the women department of the local hospital in Königsberg and doing some research at the childs-hospital of the university of Königsberg. He later rose in positions, becoming the head medic for a cavalry regiment in Brandenburg and later becoming adjutant to the head of the medic staff in eastern Germany. While holding that position he worked on the side for a private womens clinic and in 1937 he finally graduated as a Gynecologist. He even became professor at the university of Leipzig in 1938.


When the war broke out, Krane was assigned to the medics of the 14th infantry division, which fought in southern Poland, making its way towards Lublin. After the polish campaign he was reassigned to the 16th army as adjutant of the head of medical staff Generalarzt Alexander Remus. Since the 16th army was the linchpin of the Schlieffenplan he probably saw action in Luxemburg and then actually might have seen Verdun, since it was in the operational area of the 16th army. But he did not go deep into France with the army.

In the fall of 1940 he was transferred into the reserve. I have no record of what he did there, but he was stationed in Bad Kissing and Bückeburg.

In 1942 he became head of medical staff of the 2nd Panzer division with which he rolled nearly all the way to Moscow. In 1943 he was reassigned as chief of medical staff of the whole “Heeresgruppe Mitte” (Middle army of the eastern front). He probably escaped the nearly complete destruction of “Mitte” by being in the rear and also still teaching in Leipzig to where he could go to evade the worst of action. He was taken into british custody as a POW ate the end of the war in Schleswig-Holstein.

After the war he was ordered by the british to serve as chief of medical and military staff in Bad Bramsfeld. They were ordered to restore the town to its former use as a Spa town. Apparently the brits wanted a place to relax. He remained there, opening a private womens clinic until 1958.

In 1958 he –again- joined the military, this time the Bundeswehr. There he rose through the ranks serving initially as chief of all medical staff in the north, then as chief of the whole medical service of the Bundeswehr before being put on a retirement post in the rank of a General inside the bureau of medical affairs of the Bundeswehr. He served in the army until 1964 when he retired.


He still wanted to work so he – again- opened a private womens clinic in –again- Bad Bramstedt until his death in 1977. So yeah. Nothing “big” heroic or evil to see here, but interesting nonetheless I think.

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  • Käpt'n Korky changed the title to Dortmund - Fanfic help/ Biographies

When you stumble across a German on who the Polish sources are thicker than the German ones…. (btw I don’t understand nearly enough Polish to get information out of said sources)

Paul Otto Geibel – The killer of Warzawa

Paul Otto Geibel was born in 1898 in Dortmund and participated in the first world war. After the war he worked for an insurance company. And that’s it until 1931 when he joined the Nazi party and the SA. In 1935 he joined the police and served apparently so well he was promoted to head of human resources of the “Ordnungspolizei” in Berlin, after he joined the SS in 1938. He held this post until March 1944. And there history begins.

On 3rd March 1944 he was assigned to the post as head of the police and SS in Warsaw. He held a firm grip on the population, ordering executions; did what was expected of him. Then, on 1st of August 1944 the Warsaw Uprising broke out. He managed to repel an attack at the police headquarter of the city and organized the suppression of the uprising by SS and police forces. His area of control was the southern inner city, in which he personally ordered the use of polish civilians as “meat shields” to prevent attacks by the improvised polish army. He also ordered at least the execution of 990 civilians suspected to have fought against the German occupiers. Geibel repeatedly held the police headquarter against polish attacks until the polish forces had to break down after German forces “released” the city. However he did not seize several opportunities to counter attack, he was criticized by his superiors for this passive behavior. One should probably keep in mind he was technically a police officer, not a military leader.

After the uprising, Geibel was put in charge of the destruction of Warsaw. The whole city. Not just a part or two. Since he was already head of the police and the SS he could easily implement the steps necessary. Hitler had made plans to level and rebuild Warsaw in his “German image” in 1939 already, but after the uprising ended on the 3rd of October 1944, the resolution to really do it was renewed. Almost immediately, Geibel went to work, starting with deporting all remaining civilians out of the town. It meant around 600.000 from in and around Warsaw were deported away from the city. Around 10% of them were send into concentration camps to die; the others were “only” displaced. The destruction began already in October 1944 and lasted until January 1945 when the red army conquered all of Warsaw. In January 1945 85% of Warsaw was destroyed. Half of the destruction was due to the close quarter combat house fights during the uprising and the subsequent planful destruction of the city. The German units coordinated by Geibel made especially sure to burn historic buildings, like setting the national polish archive and library on fire and leveling it completely. They also leveled both universities of Warsaw, all monuments and 94% of all historically important buildings. The damage the Germans under Geibel did to the city was so severe the rebuilding of Warsaw after the war had to rely on a city plan from before 1772 (when the first division of Poland took place), because the city layout was unrecognizable and the Germans had burnt all plans of it they could find! Geibel had killed a whole city (or at least the bigger, western, German controlled part of it). Moreover, it was the capital of Poland, no less. He literally pushed it back in time more than 172 years!

Of course Geibel received the iron cross 1st class and a promotion for all his work and was transferred to Praha as the city commander, where he was captured and later trialed by Czech authorities for "minor" crimes and being a member of the SS. After 5 years in prison, he was extradited to Poland where he was sentenced for a life in prison in 1954. He took his life in a polish prison in 1966.

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  • 1 month later...

Since I'm done with all my "major" figures, I'll add some small, short biographies of people born in Dortmund who experienced Germany under Nazi rule.

Günther Deilmann – The Doc who saved a town


Günther Deilmann was born in Dortmund on the 3rd of October 1904. He studied medicine in the 1920’s in Freiburg and Berlin and started as assistant doctor in Göttingen and Berlin, before he came to the small town of Merkers in western Thuringia. He probably chose it because he was in a german Studentenverbindung (very formal student fraternity) and the town is very close to the Wartburg, an important place for people who are or were in such a fraternity. He became the county doctor for the surrounding towns and villages and the doctor for the nearby Merkers mines. Due to “racial impurity”, (I dug as deep as I could, I couldn’t find the kind of impurity. He was no jew apparently) he was barred from serving in WWII by the Nazis and remained the doctor of the county and also became doctor responsible for the POWs working in the mines. When the Allied forces arrived, he managed to convince the SS to leave the town, helped defusing a big, explosive filled train wagon and surrendered the town, accompanied by the mayor, peacefully to the US Army. Said US Army found the biggest single deposit of “Nazi Gold” (Gold and Money deposit of the Reichsbank) inside the Merkers Mines. Thus, Dr. Deilmann survived the war, became a honorary citizen of Merkers and even got a Guiness World Record for being the oldest person ever to achieve the german sports badge. He died 10th of July 2002 in Merkers.


Konrad Schragmüller – On the wrong end of long knives

Konrad Schragmüller was born on March 11th 1895 in what was then the village of Östrich in the county of Mengede and nowadays the far north-west of the city of Dortmund. His father was the bailiff in charge of the county Mengede. Since his father was an officer of the cavalry he also started a military career there and became Leutnant in 1915. In 1916 he transferred to the newly established “Fliegerkorps” (flying corps), where he stayed until the end of the war. His sister btw was head of anti-french intelligence operations, but she was born in Minden. If you’re interested look up Dr. Elsbeth Schragmüller.
After the war he served in several anti-democratic Freikorps maily against Poles and in the Baltics. He joined the NSDAP in the 1920, member No. 162.827, and joined the SA. He had moved to Magdeburg by now and worked his way up to leader of the local SA. He also became a member of the Reichstag in 1932 as representative for Magdeburg. After the rise of the Nazis to power in 1933, the head of the SA, Ernst Röhm made Schragmüller “special commissioner of the SA-leader for Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt”, which gave Schragmüller supervision power over all government agencies in those areas. He then became chief of police in Magdeburg, after the Nazis had removed the old one that didn’t suit them. During the night of the long knives (Röhm-Putsch) he was arrested, brought to Berlin and shot there by the SS on July 2nd 1934.  Sidenote: the former navy officer Carl Christiansen succeeded him as chief of police in Magdeburg.



Kurt Piehl – The traipsing Edelweiss pirate


Everyone knows the “Weiße Rose” – white rose-. The famous resistance group against the Nazis at munich university against. Well Dortmund had his own, worker kids group. Enter Kurt Piehl.

Kurt Piehl was born January 6th 1928, so when war broke out he was 11. But he was born into a “red” Dortmund in the northern parts of the city. As such he became part of a worker kids subculture native to northern Dortmund which was fractured when he entered primary school. Several groups met at the then barren field of the Brügmannplatz close to the railway to fight each other and to get to know each other. He was part of the “Latscher” (traipses), other groups called themselves Navajos or travelers. All those names rooted in the tradition of organized walks and journeys for workers kids to get them out of the city and into the countryside. For fun and health. Now when the Nazis took over all those groups and organizations were banned and the kids forced to join the Hilter youth….. but some didn’t join. Those “wild tramps” were harassed by Hitler youth members and even the Gestapo and this external pressure, according to Kurt Piehl, formed the fractured, fighting boys into a more or less cohesive resistance group. So they fought less and talked more and became friends and brought their girls etc. and initially that was it. They simply didn’t want to join the Hitler youth. However, that was enough to raise suspicion. Under the mounting pressure of Hitler youth and police, they began to fight back.
Initially the Hitler youth raided their meeting place on a regular basis, but soon the boys turned the table. They ambushed small groups of Hitler youth members and even lone policemen. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until they got news of a resistance group at a southern university (guess who? Yes, the Weiße Rose) they all started calling themselves “Edelweißpiraten” in 1943. Basically every one of them owned a bavarian leather shorts. They were cheap, robust and had usually a metallic Edelweiss attached to them. They also started to disturb police and Nazi actions wherever they could. Their actions even led to the prohibition of showing an Edelweiss in public in Dortmund. Natürlich, the Gestapo and Hitler youth still had many advantages and Kurt Piehl himself was brought into the dreaded “Steinwache”, the Gestapo prison of Dortmund. He was interrogated, mauled and humiliated. But he survived the Nazis.
After the war, he worked as a construction worker in the neighbouring town of Bergkamen. He became an activist for the acknowledgement of the resistance in Dortmund and published a book about the resistance groups in Dortmund. In it, he mentions the “afterwar shock” because they traipses also didn’t fit into the post-war society. They formed a suspiciously cohesive organization, defying authority….. subsequently they were nicked by American MP, who called them “Tramps”. And who was called in by the Yanks as witnesses against them: Their old “friends” at the Gestapo, natürlich. Imagine that for a moment. That farce only ended when the brits took over in Dortmund. Kurt Piehl conducted several small-scale activities for the recognition of the Edelweißpiraten as a resistance group and a rehabilitation of those who were sentenced to prison for activities conducted as Edelweißpiraten. In 1980, he published a book about the Dortmunder Edelweisspiraten.
Kurt Piehl died 2001 in a village near Lübeck at the Baltic sea.


One more thing about the “Edelweißpiraten”: Several groups from Cologne to Dortmund were called “Edelweißpiraten” by the Gestapo itself.  Starting in 1939 in Cologne, four years prior to the Dortmunder. Of course, everyone heard rumors about the others, but active collaboration was practically non-existant. Since they went by the same name and existed in close proximity to each other they were sometimes confused by the Nazis and surely by the allied forces which had to deal with them until around 1947.

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Okay I decided to end this topic for now. I have a few interesting people left, but they are probably boring to the audience. And they're more and more not in the focus of this forum. A few people who emigrated to the USA and had an impact there, a social democrat who fled Hitler only to be killed inthe Stalins red terror, a woman who died in the uprising of the Sobibor camp..... etc. So yeah, that's it. Maybe I finish Canaris someday, but that'll be after launch day for sure.

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  • 3 years later...

It's been a while, but I remembered this thread because yesterday Kurt Piehl (see above) was officially recognised by his homecity of Dortmund.

A square near his former home in Dortmund was named after him.

In the article linked below we also learn he has actually a connection to the German Navy. To escape further troubles with police directly after the war (what's worse than Gestapo? Frustrated Gestapo after a lost war) he joined a mine clearing command in Cuxhaven.



Behind this link several other biographies can be found. Including Heinz Stahlschmidt (see above): https://www.dortmund.de/de/freizeit_und_kultur/stadtarchiv/steinwache/steinwache_online/beitraege_so/index.html

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