Walter Schellenberg (SS member)

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Walter Schellenberg (1943)
Walter Schellenberg during the Nuremberg Trials
Wilhelmstrasse Trial, Walter Schellenberg in the second row, second from the right

Walter Friedrich Schellenberg (born January 16, 1910 in Saarbrücken , † March 31, 1952 in Turin , Italy ) was a German SS brigade leader and major general of the police (appointed June 21, 1944). From 1944 on, Schellenberg was head of the combined secret services of the Reichsführer SS (SD) security service and defense in the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). He was sentenced to six years in prison for war crimes in the Wilhelmstrasse trial .


Youth and education

Schellenberg, the son of a piano maker , had at least six siblings. His family moved to Luxembourg in 1918 after France occupied the Saar area. From 1929 Schellenberg first studied medicine at the University of Marburg , then law at the University of Bonn . In Marburg he joined the Corps Guestphalia (today Corps Guestphalia et Suevoborussia Marburg ) in the KSCV.

Joined the NSDAP and SS

In the spring of 1933 he became a member of the NSDAP ( membership number 3.504.508) and SS (SS number 124.817). Heinrich Himmler was impressed by Schellenberg, who was able to make a career as the youngest SS general Himmler. He worked in the secret service SD (Security Service) and was involved in the attempted kidnapping of the former English King Edward VIII from Portugal ( Operation Willi ) in July 1940 . In Berlin , Schellenberg worked directly with Reinhard Heydrich , whom he wanted to inherit as his successor after his death. However, Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeded Heydrich, who was killed in an attack, as head of the Reich Security Main Office . Together with Heydrich Schellenberg worked against the resistance group Rote Kapelle . From Adolf Hitler and Himmler he took - according to memoirs - a murder assignment against Otto Strasser , which he did not carry out because Strasser was not in Portugal, where Schellenberg had flown because he suspected him there. He was also involved in the organization of the invasion of Czechoslovakia .

On November 9, 1939, Schellenberg organized the Venlo incident and kidnapped two British MI6 agents in the Dutch city of Venlo . The Venlo incident made large parts of the British espionage network in Western and Central Europe almost worthless. It led to the resignation of the head of the Dutch secret service and, in May 1940, gave Hitler a justification for the invasion of the Netherlands, whose neutrality was called into question by the cooperation with the Secret Service.

1940 Schellenberg was a handbook for the planned German invasion in England create. This special wanted list GB is one of the most interesting secret service documents that the Allies discovered in Germany after the Second World War .

From 1939 to 1941 he was head of the police counterintelligence of Group IV E of the RSHA and then functioned as head of the foreign intelligence service in Office VI of the RSHA until the end of the war. After Schellenberg arrested Canaris at the end of July 1944, he was also able to partially smash or influence the military secret service apparatus.

Schellenberg was also responsible for the personal protection of high Nazi functionaries. Among other things, he organized the security arrangements for Hitler's visits to Vienna after the annexation of Austria in 1938 and in Warsaw after the invasion of Poland in 1939. Furthermore, from 1942 he was in charge of the Zeppelin company of SS Obersturmbannführer Heinz Graefe , who tried to capture captured soldiers of the Reds Army to work with the Germans. He was also responsible for the Bernhard Aktion , in which prisoners in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp had to forge British pound notes en masse to weaken the British economy. In the further course of the war Schellenberg is said to have been involved in extorting foreign currency from Jewish communities.

When the end of the Third Reich was in sight, he came into contact with Western institutions on behalf of Himmler (Swedish Red Cross, Count Folke Bernadotte ).

Schellenberg was responsible for wiretapping in Salon Kitty (1939–1942), a Berlin noble brothel that frequented party giants, diplomats and celebrities. The Berlin police brought "women and girls who are intelligent, multilingual, nationalist-minded and, furthermore, crazy", who had previously undergone spy training, to the entertainment business. The findings were either evaluated by the intelligence service or used to blackmail those affected into cooperation.

In the last days of the war he fled to Flensburg via the Rattenlinie Nord .

After 1945

He was arrested in June 1945, but was able to avoid a long prison sentence thanks to his testimony at the Nuremberg war crimes trial . Allegedly Schellenberg passed on information about the Soviet Union to Allen Dulles . In April 1949 he was sentenced to six years imprisonment from June 17, 1945, according to the judgment of the Military Court No. IV in the Wilhelmstrasse trial . After two years in which he wrote his memoirs ( Das Labyrinth ), he was released early from the Landsberg War Crimes Prison in December 1950 because of a liver disease . After 1945 Schellenberg lived according to data Klaus Harpprechts of the royalties and fee advances for his autobiography. He is also said to have advised the British secret service. After his release from prison, Schellenberg settled in Pallanza not far from Lake Maggiore and is said to have tried to make contact with other former SS members in Spain as late as 1951 . He died on March 31, 1952 42-year Italian Turin to cancer .


Schellenberg married Käthe Kortekamp in May 1938; the marriage had been arranged by Wilhelm Albert , head of personnel and organization of the SD main office . The marriage was soon annulled, however, in October 1940 he married his second wife Irene Grosse-Schönepauk, with whom he had five children.

The memoirs he wrote while in custody : the memoirs of the last head of the secret service under Hitler were viewed as an attempt to show himself as the least burdened procurer of information for the Third Reich . Der Spiegel also saw Schellenberg's intention in the book to subsequently present his activities in the SD to a broader public.

Awards (selection)

Fonts (selection)

In his autobiography he portrays the greats of the “ Third Reich ” up close, for example Reinhard Heydrich , Heinrich Himmler , Adolf Hitler , Joachim von Ribbentrop , Wilhelm Canaris , Martin Bormann , Ernst Kaltenbrunner , Heinrich Müller and others.

  • André Deutsch: The Labyrinth. The Memoirs of Hitler's Secret Service Chief . London. 1956, abbreviated: Hitler's Secret Service . Pyramid. 1958.
  • German edition: Records: the memoirs of the last head of the secret service under Hitler . Limes publishing house. 1979. ISBN 3-8090-2138-5 .
  • Invasion 1940 . St. Ermin's Press, London. 2001.
  • Records of the last head of the secret service under Hitler . Publishing house Moewig. Rastatt. 1981. ISBN 3-8118-4363-X . Commented by Gerald Fleming, ed. And introduction by Gita Petersen, foreword by Klaus Harpprecht .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Hermann Weiß (Ed.): Biographical Lexicon for the Third Reich , Frankfurt am Main, 1998, p. 400f.
  2. a b Cf. Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Third Reich , Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 529f.
  3. Peter Koblank: The Venlo incident , online edition Mythos Elser 2006.
  4. ^ Peter Koblank: Information booklet GB , online edition Mythos Elser 2008.
  5. Gordon Williamson: The SS - Hitler's Instrument of Power. Neuer Kaiser Verlag 1998, p. 287.
  6. ^ Roland Holzer: Walter Friedrich Schellenberg - head of the secret services in the RSHA (1910-1952) . In: Internet portal Rheinische Geschichte . 2017 ( [1] [accessed December 31, 2018]).
  7. Stephan Link: "Rattenlinie Nord". War criminals in Flensburg and the surrounding area in May 1945. In: Gerhard Paul, Broder Schwensen (Hrsg.): Mai '45. End of the war in Flensburg. Flensburg 2015, p. 21.
  8. The Judgment, p. 278.
  9. ^ Roland Holzer: Walter Friedrich Schellenberg - head of the secret services in the RSHA (1910-1952) . In: Internet portal Rheinische Geschichte . 2017 ( [2] [accessed December 31, 2018]).
  10. ^ Roland Holzer: Walter Friedrich Schellenberg - head of the secret services in the RSHA (1910-1952) . In: Internet portal Rheinische Geschichte . 2017 ( [3] [accessed December 31, 2018]).
  11. Gordon Williamson: The SS - Hitler's Instrument of Power. Neuer Kaiser Verlag 1998, p. 287.
  12. ^ For fine people In: Der Spiegel , October 7, 1959, accessed on December 31, 2018.