Frank Arnau

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frank Arnau , born Heinrich Karl Schmitt , also Harry Charles Schmitt (born March 9, 1894 near Vienna , Austria-Hungary , † February 11, 1976 in Munich ) was a Swiss-German writer . He was born a Swiss national , in 1920 he received German citizenship , which was revoked from him in 1934.


Young years

The son of the Swiss hotel manager and general manager Charles Arnau was born under the name Heinrich Karl Schmitt and began writing in 1912 as a newspaper journalist with police reports. He then expanded his literary work to include film and theater and also worked as a business consultant. Frank Arnau, as Heinrich Schmitt was later called, was particularly successful in the field of detective novels . In 1919 he received German citizenship .

Together with Josef Ganz , Arnau published special issues of the motor criticism , which “dealt exclusively with ' revelations ' and the uncovering of allegedly bad conditions at certain plants in the auto industry”.

In 1930 he applied for a name change after 11 books had already appeared under his pseudonym Frank Arnau.


With the political rise of Hitler , Arnau was forced to emigrate because of his opposition to National Socialism . In 1933 he fled Germany across the green border to the Netherlands. Six years of exile in Europe followed, including Spain, where Arnau lived for almost three years, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. During this time, Arnau was heavily involved in the fight against National Socialism. This included the publication of his novel Die brown Pest in 84 sequels in the Volksstimme (organ of the Social Democratic Party for the Saar region ) from March 4 to June 19, 1934. On March 29, 1934, he was expatriated and his property was confiscated. Due to his articles in the French press and in the German exile newspapers about Germany's rearmament and Nazi propaganda abroad, Arnau was constantly spied on by the Gestapo and threatened with kidnapping and death.

Arnau was involved in the scandal surrounding the exiled newspaper Pariser Tageblatt , in which the editors launched a coup d'état against their publisher Polyakov in 1936 and publicly accused him of being a Nazi party. The editors founded a rival newspaper , Die Pariser Tageszeitung, with Arnau's financial help . They found widespread support among the exiled public because too many people were willing to believe unproven allegations. The editors and their supporters also carried out a number of criminal attacks. They attacked the new editor-in-chief of the Pariser Tageblatt Richard Lewinsohn and beat him to hospital. They also destroyed the edition of the Pariser Tageblatt that reported on this coup and stole the customer archive. As a result, the Pariser Tageblatt had to cease operations due to a lack of income. A short time later, at the instigation of the journal Das Neue Tagebuch by Leopold Schwarzschild, a committee of inquiry was founded in exile circles . It included well-known personalities from exile - including the editor-in-chief of the Pariser Tageblattes Georg Bernhard and Berthold Jacob , who were involved in the putsch . A little later, the committee of inquiry found that the allegations against Polyakov were baseless. Arnau, on the other hand, in his autobiography from 1972 stuck to the version that Polyakov had been messing with the Nazis.

Exile in Brazil

Arnau arrived in Brazil on May 28, 1939 - according to his own statements at the invitation of the dictatorial government of Vargas . He wrote articles in Portuguese for the pro-government newspaper A Noite and was given journalist status by Lourival Fontes, head of the press and propaganda department , although the law only allowed Brazilians to be professional journalists. Arnau, who entered Brazil as a Swiss citizen, lived with his first wife and daughter in Rio de Janeiro and worked as a freelancer for various newspapers, among others. a. the Correio da Manhã . His main source of income, however, was advising the information office of the British embassy and, from 1942, the US embassy. He was therefore suspected of being an English or German spy or double agent . His cartographic work was of particular importance for the Brazilian newspapers . He drew maps of the theaters of war and the German retreat.

After the war, Arnau founded a company for luxury printed matter, Artes Gráficas Arnau , and printed postage stamps for the Brazilian postal administration, such as the Bahia 400th anniversary block , which was honored as the best and most beautiful postage stamp of the year of issue.

He has also traveled to Germany four times as a special correspondent for Brazilian newspapers and has easily established contacts with the reawakened German big business by offering advice and, through his relationships with Brazilian government circles and industrialists, easier access to Brazil.

His French, Spanish and, finally, Portuguese language skills, his adaptability to the local mentality and his journalistic experience made it easier for him to build up his career in Brazil. His inability to engage with the fate of other exiles is very clearly expressed in his autobiography, in which they are not even mentioned. One of the exiles, the German Benedictine monk of Jewish descent Paulus Gordan, described Arnau as "a colorful figure, leading actor in his own novel."

Return to Germany

In 1955 Arnau finally returned to Germany. Among other things, he worked as an editor for the magazine Stern , often wrote leading articles for the Munich evening newspaper and worked as a freelance news dealer. He worked on his time in Brazil in the 1956 book Derchromte Urwald , which Spiegel once complimented as "one of the most successful foreign reports [...] available in German".

He continued his career as a controversial investigative journalist, including a. a. accused the Federal President Heinrich Lübke of lying. Lübke had always maintained that he never had anything to do with concentration camps . He was also temporarily president of the German League for Human Rights .

His greatest success was probably his book Kunst der Fälscher - Fälscher der Kunst from 1959, which attracted worldwide attention and has been translated into twelve languages. The Eye of the Law , a 1962 book about the power and impotence of the criminal police, also found international recognition. By 1970 his books had sold 1.4 million copies.

Arnau was also a stamp collector who began collecting again several times. The Lexikon der Philatelie , the first edition of which appeared in 1957 and was republished in an expanded form in 1967 as the Handbuch der Philatelie , is considered to be one of his outstanding contributions to German philately . The Association of German Philatelists ascribes to him “a popularization of the hobby that has reached a wide audience”, “as no other has ever achieved before and since”.

The German weekly newspaper Die Zeit said that Arnau was engaged in “criminology on real cases in contemporary history as an old age hobby”. In his book Der Fall Brühne - Ferbach . Autopsy of a Judgment (1965) he examined one of the most sensational criminal cases of the post-war period. In 1967 he published the story of "Crime from the Biblical Beginnings to the Present."

1970 Frank Arnau moved to Bissone in the Swiss canton of Ticino. In December 1975 Arnau fell seriously ill and on February 11, 1976 he died of a stroke in a Munich hospital at the age of 81. His grave is in the cemetery of the municipality of Bissone in Switzerland. Most recently he worked on a book entitled Der Bart ist ab - The Unmasking of Alexander Solzhenitsyn , which was supposed to prove that the Nobel Prize winner worked for the Soviet secret service KGB during and after his time in the Gulag . It is widely suspected that the secret services leaked misinformation to him here.

In 1968 he received an honorary doctorate from the Humboldt University in Berlin in what was then the GDR . He has also received honors from the police in Malaysia and the police in the Australian state of New South Wales .

Arnau was married three times. In 1914 he married Caroline Mayerhoffer. The marriage was divorced in 1923. In 1924 Ruth married Rickelt, b. Lippstreu, the daughter of the actor Gustav Rickelt. The daughter Gisela was born in the marriage in 1926. His wife Ruth died in 1951 in Brazil due to suicide. In 1953 he entered into his third marriage with Henriette Neuber. She died in 1993 and is buried next to Frank Arnau in the cemetery in Bissone.

Works (selection)

  • The brown plague. 1934.
  • The mask with the silver lining (crime thriller). 1944.
  • Peccary # 7 (crime story with New York Homicide Inspector David Brewer). 1956.
  • The chromed jungle: light and shadow over Brazil. 1956.
  • Philately Lexicon. Stamp client A to Z . Ullstein paperback. 1957.
  • Hot patch Rio (crime thriller). 1958.
  • Panic before the gate closes An industrialist's novel . Wetzlar. 1959.
  • Only dead witnesses are silent (crime thriller). 1959.
  • Art of Counterfeiters - Counterfeiters of Art. 3,000 years of antiques fraud. 1959.
  • As silent as its shadow (crime thriller). 1959.
  • The perfect murder (crime thriller). 1960.
  • Brasilia. Fantasy and reality. Prestel, Munich 1960.
  • The lady in the chinchilla (crime thriller). 1961.
  • Tangier - After midnight (crime thriller). Ullstein Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt 1961.
  • Heroin AG (crime thriller with Chief Inspector David Brewer of the New York Homicide Squad). 1962.
  • In the Shadow of the Sphinx (crime thriller with New York Homicide Inspector David Brewer). 1962.
  • Why do people kill. 1964.
  • Beyond the Law. 1966.
  • Paper jewels. The most precious and beautiful postage stamps in the world . Schuler, Stuttgart 1966.
  • Drug - dreams on the rainbow. 1967,
  • The administration of criminal injustice in the Federal Republic. 1967.
  • Kidnapping. 1968.
  • Motive passion. 1971.
  • Lived, loved, hated (autobiography) 1972.
  • Watergate - The Swamp. 1974.


  • Richard Albrecht : "The ´brown plague´ is coming ...". Aspects of the persecution of Frank Arnau in exile , in: Exilforschung . Internationales Jahrbuch , 3rd year 1985, pp. 158-172, ISSN  0175-3347 .
  • Caught in the Eurocentric view - Frank Arnau's examination of the question of “racial democracy” and the African heritage in Brazil. In: Marlen Eckl: "Paradise is lost everywhere": The image of Brazil by refugees from National Socialism. Vervuert Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-86527-579-0 , pp. 392-394.
  • Wolfgang Maaßen: Who is who in philately. Volume 1: A - D. 3rd edition. Phil Creativ - Publishing House and Agency, Schwalmtal 2011, ISBN 978-3-932198-92-2 , p. 46 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A revolver journalist. In:  Salzburger Volksblatt , May 27, 1933, p. 5 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / svb
  2. Homepage of Hans-Christian Napp , accessed on February 7, 2020
  3. Lieselotte Maas: Kurfürstendamm on the Champs-Elysées? The loss of reality and morality in trying a daily newspaper in exile. In: Exile Research - An International Yearbook. Volume 3: Thoughts on Germany in exile and other topics. Published by Society for Exile Research, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-88377-205-4 , p. 112 ff.
  4. a b Arnau, Frank, Dr. jur. hc In: Wolfgang Maassen: Who is who in philately? Association of German Philatelists V. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on March 11, 2016 ; Retrieved June 12, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Arnau, Frank . Casa Stefan Zweig, Petrópolis (RJ), Brazil. (As of June 12, 2013)
  6. Books, new in Germany: Frank Arnau: "Derchromte Urwald". In: Der Spiegel . No. 50 , 1956, pp. 65 ( online ).
  7. Was the judiciary wrong here ?: Vera Brühne and still no end. In: Die Zeit , November 18, 1966.
  8. Weltwoche-Editorial: Intern . In: Die Weltwoche . Zurich, Switzerland. 32/2008 (as of June 12, 2013).