OA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS SANITIZED
TITLE: The Defections Of Dr. John
AUTHOR: Delmege Trimble
A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ol
All siatemenis of faci. opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting ot implying US Government endorsement of an article's factual statements and interpretations.
A once sensational andintelngence betrayal isin the perspective of time for motivation and key circumstances.
THE DEFECTIONS OF DR. JOHN Delmege Trimble
Rain streaked the street* of Bertin. splashatlJ* houses Ebslened tn the light from an East-West borderedan rolled up. its tires singing on the wetA customs guard sauntered out.oment there waTonly the throb of theurmur ofwvetsaticarhythmic click of the vrtoclshield wipers. Then theand, and the car rolled across the Sandkrug Bridge into the darkness of East Berlin.
A simple incident on this warm, wet0he decennialore famousulybutso tought with significance for Germany and the West that Steelier Adenauer called itr. Otto nr^rient of the Office for the Protection of the ConstiluUon, Klfae was the most Important Westerner faUenCnrnmunlsX hands since the two British diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean. had vanished from Umtotofar more important than they in point of ImpUca-Uons for intelligence.
The ouzale was-and to some still is-the reason^why the ttlS the eastward flight of the tlhSnal security chief in the companyga Dr. Wolfgangohlgemuthoviet agent who had .bducted him, foundered on facts that gradually came to light Smr said thaiixed-up idealist, had been spurred bonierisguided concept of polltlcaJintwB*
oHL neo-Nazis and datkal and other reactionary circles around Chancellor Adenauer. His flight was pictured by
others as thatesperate man whose past was about to catch up with him. Yet others calledong-time traitor and informer,ecret Communist fanatic.
There were prejudicial grounds for some of the least pretty interpretations. John's weaknesses for alcohol and thesex were well known, his favorite sport when pixilated being to snap the elastic of women's brassler.es. It wasrumored that heouble agentomosexual, and he certainly had an affinity for too many characters with one or both of these qualifications Aside from his companion Wohlgemuth, who had connections with the East Berlin Chsrite Hospital and made no secret of his CommunistJohn was on good terms with Sonet agent Max Won-slg, blown at the Willi Kucher spy trial, and more notably with one Baron Wolfgang Oans Edler Herr von und zu Putlitz. Von und zu Putlitz hadrewar British agent in the Nazi Foreign Office, whisked to the safety of Englandubsequently he worked in tbe United States for OWI until he was fired and his valet had to support him by tending bar; later he returned to British employ in Germany; and0 be started working for the Communists in East Berlin.
Yet the stereotype of the weak man made vulnerable by his lusts or corrupted by bad company is not one that fits the Otto John picture. And all the other theses, eachstrike only tangcntially at the truth. Erich OUenhauer may have come closer when he remarked, after John rede-fectcd and began to show increasing sumsersecution and Messiah complex, "Thisase for the psychiatrists rather than thee cannot even now arrive at anythingidy analysis of the case, but we can achieve some understanding of it by tracing John's propensiLiesthe Nazi and Nuremberg eras, reviewing the circumstances of his unlikely appointment and ineffectual tenure asof the Bundesamt fuer Verfassungsschute, andin detail his behavior just before and after his defection on4 anniversary of the unsuccessfululy anti-Hitler coup.'
ept as otherwise indicated, the authority ior (actual statements in che following account rests in classified documents InIntelligence
Role in the Anti-Nazi Underground
Otto John was bornwo friendsiups from his early life remained of Importance in his adult career and were toart in the events ofuring his scbool days at Wiesbaden in the mid-twenties helose chum of Wolfgang Hoofer, son of the school principal. The intensity of German schoolboy friendships is reflected in the eventual tragedy that flowered from this early acquaintance. Hoefer, whose mother was Jewish, emigrated to the United States in thes. He changed his name to Hofler,. citizenoldier.5 he was sent to Germany and renewed his friendship with Otto John.pon John's defection, he committed suicide.
An emotionally more important relationship for Otto was that with bis brother Hans, another marked for tragedy. Hans, the younger, brighter, and sturdier, was the extrovert doer. Otto the troubled dreamer. Otto felt no fraternalhe adored the younger brother who, as long as he lived, supplied the balance Otto needed. Hans was to be tortured to death in the aftermath of the abortive4 coup.
Otto studiedareer in the foreign service, mastering Spanish. French, and English. But when Hitler came to power membership in the Nazi Partyrerequisite for aspirants to the foreign service, and he shifted tolaw.ember of any political party (though after the war he once referred to himselfuonduxohe said his convictionslend of monorchism, old-fashioned liberalism, and anti-Nazism. He received the doctorate in law from Frankfurt University
6 both John brothers were in Berlin. Hans waslaw at Berlin University. Otto served for two yearspay at Tempelhof Airdrome to qualify for final state law examinations in the service of Lufthansa.7 he became assistant legal counsel, under Klaus BonhcefTer, of the rapidly expanding civil airline. He was nowosition to dopositive about his anti-Nazi convictions. Through Klaus and his brotherutheran minister, he entered one of the circles that later were to band in the conspiracy against Hitler. An airline with routine flights Into foreign countriesonvenient frontonspiracy against a
totalitarian regime* Klaus BoohoefTer assigned Otto tocourier runs.
When Worldroke in9 Hans John went into tbe Luftwaffeieutenant, but Otto remained with Lufthansa. That autumn he established connections with such antl-Naxu as the Social Democrat Wuhelm Leusch-ner and Col. Genera] von Beck. Prince Louis Ferdinand, grandson of Ihe Kaiser, had quit his Jobord plant in the United States to work for Lufthansa, and Otto John, along with Johannes Pcpitz. the Prussian Finance Minister,hief promoter of the Prince's pretensions to the throne inrdeler's early schemesohensollernLouis Lochner, former chief of the Berlin Bureau of the Associated Press, said that on several occasions heJohn Co meetings in Berlin of the Goerdeler and Louis Ferdinand groups.
Death was to sluff roost, of Otto's co-conspirators off the stage long before his own desertion, whether through natural causes, official executions, or the goon squads rampant at Germany's last gasp. But Louis Ferdinand remained aof the cast through tho last act. John cultivated him not only because he and his wifeormer Grand Duchess of Russia, were very pleasant social companions but alsoJohn, with his royalist incunations. was flattered at being allowed to address the Prince by his Intimate family nickname, "Lulu."
Beyond these contacts with conspiracy and his flights to neutral countries. Otto's specific resistance activities during this early period are unknown.1 be passedclassified information about the Luftwaffeochner. Strained attempts have been made to linkittle later with Rote Kapeilr. the Communistgroup active in Berlin. So evidence is avail-
' Many daadawBna murtsu capitalised on -he sdranttees at this alrinws tnwroaUooal nJghU Admiral WUhelm canans* Abwehr faction carrying on its own intrigue* against the Nazis, bad planned agents In it; Hlmralerj aa and tbe Owrtapo bad both infiltrated it; and ihe Soviets are believed to haveilot on the Berlin-Mcecowan earned Radunsa.
'Gerhard Hitler. The German itemtance,.
able to support any such connection, although It has been taken for granted that his brother Hans had Communist
When eyebrows were raised over tho appearance of the healthy Otto in mufti, he entered tho Abwehr. likely on Ocerdeicr's suggestion and through the good offices ofOstcr. the activist conspirator under Admiral Canaris. He waa assigned to Abwehrstelle Stettin but told that hism was to seek better surrender terms for Germany once Hitler was removed, using his Abwehr commission simply as cover. Threads linking the various opposition groups were now being slowly knit, and John probably provided liaison among tliose in the Abwehr. in the Army High Command, around Leuschncr and Julius Leber. Louis Ferdinand,hose heretofore diffuse activity was manifest in thehalf dozen different attempts to remove Hitler8
The2 was eventful for him. He was using business trips to Madrid and Lisbon, ostensibly for the purpose ofmore Lufthansa runways, to re-establish resistance contacts with the British and try to activate the acquaintance between Prince Louis Ferdinand and President Roosevelt, who had once put the Prince up at Blair House. During this year he was turned in to the Gestapo by an aging and Jealousmistress. Frau Ameliess Pabst. and was rescued by his Abwehr connections. Also2 Hans returned from the Russian front badly wounded and was taken to the famous surgeon Dr. Sauerbruch, who numbered among his assistants at the Charite Hospital the fateful Wolfgang Wohlgemuth. Otto soon learned to know the comrade of his future eastward flight by his pet name, Wowo.
John's peace feelers were received with considerableby the Allies, especially since he was unwilling at this time to name any conspirators. On3 the British mtelligence service Issued fromtatement to tbe effect that the Abwehr or the Gestapo was possiblyhis actlviueseception. He persisted, however, using as intermediary Juan TerTaza, one of the principalsecretaries in the Spanish Foreign Officelose friend of Louis Ferdinand His attentions were directed
toward Graham of the British Embassy in Lisbon and WlLlard L. Beaulac of the American Embassy in Madrid. Beaulac, on instructions from Assistant Secretary of State Acheson, saw John at his home but made no commitments. He, too, was dubious of his sincerity.
John's sincerityepresentative ot the military element of theole he was soon to assume, Is in factHeissenter among dissenters, thoroughly disliking the generals and never believing they would act against Hitler. He considered the military component of theuly group very weak and continually warned against it.
3 wore along, his approaches became more definite. In December he told his British contact in Madrid that he represented an internal opposition group consisting oftrade union leaders, churchmen, and generals, all strongly anti-Nazi and anti-USSR He ticked off names and disclosed details of another plot to murdere again came to Madrid ostensibly on Abwehr business. This time he said he was remaining in Spainepresentative of the anti-Nazi generals. As cover he assumed the directorship of the sister Lufthansa company there.
He later told the British that he performed no Abwehron his trips to Spain. In earlyowever, the British ascertained that he hod transmitted InformationAllied military intentions to Berlin. The nature of this information is not known; it was probably innocuous. In any case the British and American embassies In Madrid, for their part, got valuable data fromthe results of Allied bombings of Berlin, theomb and its launching bases, and the experimental station at Peenemuende.
The current of events leading to the ill-fated Generals' Coup was now quickening. Shortly after the Allied invasion ofIn June, John consulted in Madrid with Col. Qeorg Hansen, who as Canaris' successor at the head of the Abwehr washief negotiator with the Allies, speclfi-
At about this time the report that Jobnritish agent being handled by Major F. Landsdalc and Cm dr. A. Puller ot the British Embassy In Lisbon was conveyed from the Portuguese Oeneral Stab*erman Lt CoL von Auearode (aliasho to turn informed Admiral Canaris. Canaris, of course, took: no action.
cally OeneraJ Elsenhower al SHAEF, once Ihe revolt hadIn early July he mace arrangement* that anyfrom the conspirators would be passed immediately from the American Embassy in Madrid to General Elsenhower. At the same time he learned, to the dismay of the conspirators, that tbe Western Allies would not consider negotiating apeace, and that the British and Americans wouldmake no effort to get to Berlin ahead of the Russians.1
There is conflicting evidence about his activities at the time of the attempted coup Itself. According to his own story, he was callod to Berlin to confirm in person his bad news of the unresponsiveness of the Western Allies, and arrived at Tem-pelhof Airdrome onuly. He was at OKW Headquarters in the Rendlerstrasse on the afternoon ofuly when Col. Klaus von Stauffenberg arrived from East Prussia to report that the bomb hod gone off and Hitler could be assumed dead. He worked with the conspirators there0 that evening, when It became evident that this attempt on Hitler's life bad also failed, pro-Nazi officers were regaining control, andwere being summarily executed in the courtyard. Tbe next morning, according to his account. Johannes Popitx' daughter told him of her father's arrest, and he went into hiding. He escaped to Madrid onuly by signing onechanicufthansa manifest.*
' Hitter, op. The ultimate source is John hUcatlf.
'That John was not of the pathetically few rebels to escape has been died to supporttheory that beestaponfiltrated Into the conspiracy. We hare noted that he was out of sympathy with the generals, and be seems not to bare been intimately associated with any resistance efrele except Louis Ferdinand's: bat Uw Gestapo theory is untenable. He would hardly have betrayed bis beloved brother Hans Moreover, two SS aids of Walter 3clielUr.berg later teaUfled that the Ontapo bad partially penetrated tbi SO July group, but not through Otto John.
John's story, however, is contradicted by the lists offor Spanish visas and travel manifests from Aerodrome del Prat del Hobregat. They show him arriving in Barcelona from Madrid via Lufthansa onuly and not departing for Berlin untiluly. Allied intelligence regardwi the variant embellishments of his account as probable fabrications and was mcllned to suspect that Otto credited himself with activl-
Onugust they smuggled him to Lisbon and hid himafehouse, the Boa Vista, which was also used by Spanish Communists. Onctober the Portuguese police raided this house and arrested John, the housekeeper Romero, and seven of the Spanish Communists.'
John was jailed for several day* at Curias Then theGeneral Stan* overruled the police and turned him over to tbe British. He was Gown to the UKovember, accompanied by Cmdr. Fuller, his contact at the Britishin lusben
In the British Victor's Service
On John's arrival In tbe UK thereartime snafu as to his identity, and he was internedigh-rariking Nasi. According to his own story, Churchill ut thia time called him Inonsultation that lasted naif the night. He wasfrom internment and transferred to the PoliticalDepartment of the Political Warfare Executive onecember. He was turned over to Scftonopfor the London Daily Express and later for the Times, who was wartime director of the Morale Branch of PTD.to Delmer, John lived with him foronths.Is another person who will reappear before this drama is acted out.
56 John worked for the British in variousPTD on intelligence matters, on the POWprogram at Wilton Park, and on research for
There are drrerse accounts ot this episode One tnUriiigcnee version has It that John was arrested become oficndihrp for Professor Egaz Morrlx. frequently referred to In Portugal as the ancCDcial Soviet ambassador. Der spuael, ten years later, said that he was arrestedomosexual. Another section of the German press insisted that he was arrestediesta when he gotrawloman.
Koebel, Karl von Schnitzler, und Putilts, the agent-boronby themtrlguing: all of them, like John, were later to decamp to the East Zone of Germany.
After the surrender Inohn did not return to Germany with the bulk of the political exiles He was working for the British War and Foreign Offices, interrogatinggenerals in the Kensington cage, and helping prepare legal documents for the approaching Nuremberg trials. At Nuremberg he worked as an adviser to the UK prosecutionact omitted in his own curriculum vitac.
Up to this time he could lay valid claim toerman patriot The cause which met catastrophe onury hadorthy one, that of revolt against the Nazis, notto the German nation. Its watchword was. "Againstforut when he returned for the Nuremberg trials, it was in effecterman in British battle dress. He revisited with the wrathrosecutor the country which he had fledolitical persecutee. He kept aloof from other Germans working at the trials, attempted to conceal his Identity and purpose, and spent his free time with his Britishtrying unsuccessfully lo pose as an Englishman doing historical research In the documents of the Tribunal. The spirit of the trials themselves, in which righteousat the Nazi honors was not untainted by thirst for pc-Utical vengeance, may have contributed further to theof John's character.
He was already showing psychoneurotic tendencies.5 in London herivate War Office showingilm on the Belzen concentration camp. Shortly after the movie, he told an Intelligence officer five years later, the lower part of his face began tous-like fluid and hepecies of nervous breakdown. His explanation was that the movie brought home to him the terrible failure of Iheuly revolt and ail it stood for; he had been condemned to virtual inactivity since his flight to the UK and thefrustration was simply too much for him. John clearly idenufled himself closely with the failure of the anti-Hitler
resistance andtrong guilt complex deriving probably from his brother's painful death. This reinforced hiswith the July affair and his inability to compromise with anything remotely identifiable with Nazis, right-wingor German military traditions. His excessiveand other manifestations of emotional instability would be symptomatic oftate of mind.
He may have had woman-trouble, too.fterlaw in Londonear, he married Frau Lucy-Mar-leen Manklewitz, the mother of the girl he had been expected to wed. His newerman Jewess whose father was an old friend and adviser of Dr. Theodor Heuss, taught Wagnerian singing at Hampstead. She has been described as making up in charm and Intellect for the greater beauty of her Jilted daughter Gisela, with whom John had workedartbne British operation.
John's mistress. Frau Elsa Mueller Rudolph In Wiesbaden, the widowerman pilot killed in actionaswho 3tood to be offended by this marriage. John wrote in explanation that he was marrying an older woman because of his need for balance, and moreover his bride had important political connections in the new Germany through her family. He hoped that he and Elsa could remain friends. They did. It was Elsa who, as nearly as can be ascertained. erJargeo Otto's circle of acquaintances to includemjsffwho was later helpful In exposing and eliminating one cTTohn's rivals for the presidency of the Verfassungsschutz-amt.
In the fallo longer trying to conceal his services to the UK. John became openly the chief German assistant to the British precaution at the trial of General von Man-stem in Hamburg. This lime he apparently associated with the German lawyers defending Von Manstein. But he Irked the defense, it Is said, by deliberately twisting facts andto the advantage of the prosecutors, many of whom relied heavily on him because of their unfomiUarity with the German language and with the organization and practices of the Nazi Reich. Several friends implored him at this time to get out of the business of delivering his countrymen to the Allied hangman, and their warning that he was alienating
himself from his fatherland must have increased his emotional
John was not doing awfully well financially In the UK- He was employed by the London solicitors James Brcdie &on reparation and restitution cases, but he could notareer on claims arising outast era. He suffered from the lack of the British dttsenahip that had beanto PuUlts and certain other Germans (AC tunes be claimed that he hadreferred citixenahip.)on the other hand, was getting back on her feet
90 he made several trips to Germany to seehe Bonn governmentob. Jakob Kaiser, whom be had knowneader of the Catholic trade union resistance, offered him one in his Ministry of Ali-Oer-man Affairs, but John declined on the ground that heigher rank than Umuneruurat. Foreign Affairs had no place for him because, he suspected, of his "anU-Oerraan"in the UK and his role at the trials He also tried unsuccessfully for an appointment on the Oerman delegation to the International Ruhr Authority.
The Protector of the Constitution
0 West Germany was passing through the interna stage on the read from occupation to sovereignty, and anquestion was that of preserving ideological rectitude in the new state. The French did not want It to have any political police. The British favored an adaptauon of Scotland Yard. The united States came up with an emasculated FBI plan. The Germans wanted to return to the pre-HI tier scheme, incorporating the political police as Branch IA Into the national police. The eventual compromise was theconception of an Office for the Protection of thea police force with no power to arrest. It wastoilent security service keeping tabs on the lunatic fringes to the right and left.
Bow was it that Ottoan who already showed signs of needing watching himself, almost an expatriate, whom Chancellor Adenauer is said to have disliked from first sight, was named head of the sensitive Bunrtertmt fuer Veriassungs-schutr? Or, as the Germans put it in their rough peasant
proverb, "Who put the goat in charge of theshe had an influential friend in Jakob Kaiser, hisby marriage with President Heuss, and most importantly the gratitude of the British for his work for them during the war and in the Nazi trials.
And it was not an easy Job to fill, with its international political implications. The German proposal toon-political civil servant was vetoed by the Allied HighThe United States suggested an excellent man tn Fabian von Schlabrendorff, but he refused on grounds of ill health. The French nominated Colonel Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, information chief in the embryo defense ministry, but John disposed of this rival by having Ian Eland, his mistress' agent friend, putinger on Heinz as the source of hisreports ^awaMLtafLwl Finally, afteronths,ejected nominees, andrangling sessions of the High Commission, the British quietly sponsored Otto John, for bad luck the thirteenth man.
The German lawyers who had defended Von Manstein and the Nuremberg accused were shocked. They complained to Minister of the Interior Heinemann that John wasandad choice. Heinemann replied that the British trusted John, and anyway the job wasGermany was in no position to keep secrets from the occupation powers.
US. approval was another Gordian knot.0 High Commissioner McCloy cabled the Department of State from Frankfurt that the Federal Republic hadHJCOG to approve John's candidacy with all possible urgency, and that only the results of the Department's name check were needed to clear theeek later,0 Washlngon time.able over Dean Acheson's signature informed Frankfurt that conflicting information regarding Otto John "necessitates thorough investigation byf other sources. Results followutecember,cCloy wired back:
On basis of excellent data available here and in absence of any derogatory Information and in view of urgency ofecision and after approval by British and French, we approved appointment of Otto John onovember, prior to receipt of your telegram ofovember.
The newly Installed BfV president was again the center of discussions by the Allied Directorate when,hey took up the appointment of Vera Schwart.ecretary of Admiral Canaris, as John's secretary. The United States and the UK raised no objections. But the French did, on the grounds that Vera, arrested by the Soviets6 had turned informer for them the following year. The glandular dislike of French intelligence for John had been reflected in the commenturcte chief on hishe had exclaimed, in chorusurkish colleague, "Cost impossible!"
Just howhoice John was became increasingly apparent. Aside from bis instability and his emotional po-Utical outlook, heoor administrator and. mtelligence saw him muddling through without the energy, imagination, or adrninistratlve ability to out the BfV on its feet. He had no patience with thedetail necessary to effective mtelligence operations. He was intrigued by special missions and fanciful projects which usually wound up putting the Office and thein embarrassing, not to say ridiculous, positions.
One of the score of projects John laid on was Operation Maerchenwald. The good fairy of this Fabulous Wooduxom widow named Frau Baumann from Ansbach in Bavana, confessed guardianast Nazi treasure trove from which she was supposed to make monthly withdrawals to support indigent Nazi leaders in Switzerland and South America. The cache was somewhere in the Bavarian Alps, sometimes at the bottomery deep lake, the Frau said. John, taking her at her word, dispatched six green-jacketed BfV men to escort her to the treasure. She took them up into the Tyrolean mountains, where, according to an official report, she found the right blazed tree and the secret path of white pebbles, but was unable to And the stone slab covering the lever that opened the way to the cache.
While John was waiting in his Cologne command post for his men to report the find, VS. operatives came to see him and showed him documents proving that his good fairywindler, blackmail artist, pubuc nuisance, and congenital uar once inmate of an insane asylum. Nevertheless John
summoned Frau Baumann to Cologne lo reveal more details. Somewhat drunk, hewo-hour seance with her.
Byonn waa rocking with gossip about hisReport alter report reaching Adenauer's desk indicated that in his hatred of the Nazis John was not alert to thedanger, that he maintained relations withsympathizers, that he was given to Sts of melancholy brooding, and that he was Increasingly taking to drink. But the Chancellor had no intention ol lowering the boom on him until Germany achieved her sovereignty.
The BfV's serious operations were apparently In the hands of its de facto director, former General Staff officer Albert Radke. Helose associate of General Relnhard Gehlen. who had headed the wartime General Staff's section forEastern intelligence and In postwar Germanyigh-powered unofficial offensive espionage group. GehlenJohn because of his record of defection to the British.
John's four years in office were extremely unpleasant. He was resented by senior police officials and other German civil servants as an outsider,tooge of his British sponsors, and as one who had deserted Germany In her hour of need. Rumors were growing that his days in the BfV werethat his office would be replaced by Gehlen'aHe may have brooded most over this prospect of being supplanted by Gehlen, whom he regarded as one of thegroup responsible for the failure of4 coup and so for Hans' death by torture
In May and June4 he enjoyed the pleasant interluderip to the United States. He was brought toand shown the courtesies normally accorded the headoreign intelligence service. CIA officials dined him. and on
he was briefed on general Intelligence matters.
John returned to the Federal Republic In fine fettle. Dr. Wohlgemuth, however, who visited him in Cologneuly, insisted he appeared run down and prescribed pills. John, rather than argue about it, took them without visible effect, though later he tried to use this incident In his defense. On
again onuly he was visited by Michael Winch, a
discredited British-Soviet double agent. The subject of their conversations is not known. Frau John, who happened to be in Cologne, objected to Winch, probably because he was cadging meals and money.
John's twelve-year-old relationship with Wohlgemuth hadatter of concern for some time. ^BMkVMsaaiVHk is reported to have warned him twice about friend Wowo, first in3 and again inf ler the firstJohn is said to havefV man. Von Berge, to watch himhile, and on the second occasion to have given an "embarrassed" and conflicting account of hiswith him. Before John's visit to the Unitederlin shopkeeper, Frau Anneliese Schroeder, showed police notesonversation with one Helmutlose friend of Wohlgemuth's. Salewski told her Wowoape recorder hidden in his room and persuaded John to talk about secret matters when he visited him for evenings of women and drinking.
Onuly the Johns flew to West Berlin for the services commemorating the decennial of theulyeception given by OberburgmoisLer Reuter on the evening ofuly, families and friends of the participants in the plot against the Nazi reepme met for the purpose ofonument to the victims in the courtyard of the former OKW in the Bendlerstrasse. John and his wife took advantage of this opportunity to dine twice with his old school friend of Wiesbaden days, Wolfgang Holler, now ain the. Hotter said that the AmericansJohnritish agent, and that he himself couldn't stand the CIC any longer and wanted John to help himob in Germany. He wanted nothing more to do withservices.
An intelligence officer who spent considerable time with John during this convocation said he "lamented several times about the bad things people were saying about him and about attacks against him coming from Minister Robert Lehr and Herr Sauer. Shortly before he left Bonn to attend thefestivities, he was called into [State Secretary] Ritter von Les's office and was told they had justomplaint from the Federal Chancellery accusing him of secretly join-
ing the SPD. John said he was sick and tired of these rumors, andood opportunity presents itself he would seriously consider rejoining the Deutsche Lufthansa when it starts functioning again.'* *
In this mood he cameewspaper account of how Minister of the Interior Schroeder, his superior, plannedchanges in the BfV as soon as West Germany obtained its sovereignty. He was reported to appear visibly shaken At the commemorative exercises he made an exhibition of himself, sobbing loudly and denouncing two other mourners as Gestapo agents. Although the memories evoked of Hans' death ten years earlier were undoubtedly depressing, he had always been jovial and friendly at the memorial services of previous years.
Immediately after tbe ceremonies John declined to dine with his old friend Prince Louis Ferdinand, saying that he waswith somejSM
nand then suggested that Otto drop by his hotel afterwardsightcap, heurthis was about lflOO onuly.
John kept an engagement, however, with an elderlycouple, in-laws of an American acquaintance, at his hotel. In this interval between the memorial exercises in the Bend-lerstrasse and his appointment with Wohlgemuth, he also saw Ronde-Henriksen, correspondent for tbe Danish paper BerHngske Tldende, the man who after eighteen months was to help him return from East Germany, and apparentlytorink with him later in the evening.
A perhaps equivocal indication of his intention to come back that night was the fact that when he changed clothes he left papers and notes from his pockets in his hotel room. But he also hud reservationseturn night from Berlin, and his desk calendar tn Cologneuture schedule of normal activities. Driving from his hotel, he stopped in at the Maison deestaurant near Wohlgemuth'^ downtown office, in order, according to Erich Ollenhauer, to pick up there an answerroposal he had made Mendes-Frnnce that the
' Lufthansa would not have taken him.
Fedora] Republic's remUiturlzatlbnpkuis be exposed to debate at the forthcoming Geneva Conference. The answer was not there.
For John's meeting and movements with Wohlgemuth the evidence consisted until recently mainly of his owngiven after red election, which begins by omitting these known preliminary activities,uspicious cup of coffee served him at the Wohlgemuth apartment, and endsheatrical invented scene wherein he awakensrugged sleep in an abandoned house and is threatened by Communists speakingussian accent But there were three important (acts from other sources. Item one.telephoned the Cbarite Hospital in East Berlin thatand said.hall come now with my goodtem two. he apparently Intended, like John, to come back; he left in West Berlin hisuits of clothes, four apartments, five mistresses, and third wife. Later we shall look at otherof Wohlgemuths intent made public6 by theof testimony given at John's treason trial. Item three, the customs officer on duty at the Sandkrug Bridge that night. Ernst Richard Hanke. who halted Wohhjemuths sedan at the border, peered inside and saw that both occupants were awake and alert. When Hanke pointed out that the vehicle was about to enter the Sovietan of John'sreplied. "Aber dort wollen wir dochthat's where we want logo."
The Bonn Government insisted that John must have been abducted. Theyeward ofor conclusivepecial Bundestag committee was established to Investigate theariant on the abductionwas given. intelligence cable:
Johnamned fool caughtell-bailedo very likely overestimated his own position to the extent or believing that the Soviet* would not dare harm him. He took andisk In pursuit of bait set by persons who evaluated correctly his psychology aad his deem toajor personal coup followlne; heavy attacks on his office to recent Bondestas debates.
The suicide onuly of Otto's friend Hoffer. who hadthat Che German secret police supposedly guarding John had actually been holding him under arrest, made tbe
double one. John claimed,tatementfrom East Berlin, that his friend hod been driven toby the CIC's Insistence that he spy on him Part of the German press said that Hoffer killed himself rather than face an inevitable investigation.. Army officiallythat he had been detailed to check up on John or on Wohlgemuth. L'S. InteUigence had him feeling that theof his life-long friend shattered his wholecareer.
The Bntish, publicly at any rate, stood by John.ugust that any British official had been thean Associated Press story to the effect that theyJohn ten months earlier; they considered such ato be "skillfulohn continued to have a
At the other extreme were those who believed, on the grounds of John's vulnerability and associations, that he might have long sinceoviet agent; and these in-
fjpt. AtleasithTrTrere reports pointing to possible Com-muniat pressures and preparation. Baron Wolfgang von und zu Putiltt. who first boasted and then denied havingthe defection of Burgess and Maclean and who urged John on3 that he at least conferoviet officer about saving Germany from beingn East-West conflict, visited Bonn in the spring4 and again in July, and on at least one of these occasions he met with John. Informed circles tn East Berlin were reported into consider John's defection and that of the Bundestag deputy Karl Franz Schmidt-Wittmack to have beenby Soviet General Ivan A. Serov and run from KGB headquarters inefugee who bad worked
Deriabln says chat at the time of his own defectionoviet State Seconcy was bail dingile on John's dealings with tbe Nazis, and be suggests John waa blackmailed Into defecting by the Soviet threat to expose his pro-Nazi activities! (The Secret World,
tor the East German Security Service claimed later to nave heard Colonel Beater of the Service remark that two of his agents. Axel and Peter (the Rittwagens) were preparing in West Berlin for the defection or, if necessary, the abduction of Otto John, and that Beater had met at least once with Wohlgemuth and with Wolfgang Haffer of the CIC.
Except to doggedly suspicious minds the baited-trap, drug-abduction, long-time-agent, and fleeing-wrongdoer theories were disproved and the main mysteries of the case cleared up by John's public appearancerivate conversation onugust.onference attendedestern and Communist reporters in the East Berlin press building on Friedrichstrasse, he said that the West German government hadere instrument of American European policy, which was using Chancellor Adenauer to renazify andGermanypearhead against the USSR, that there were secret clauses In the EDC treaty in this connection, that Adenauer and the militarists regarded the EDC as an interim device for restoring German military hegemony In Europe, that the Gehlen organization had stepped up itsIn France to this end, and that the Americans, in their hysterical fear of Communism, wereew Hitler Crusade against the East that would leaveass of atomic ashes.
These standard theses of the Communist propaganda line were probably consonant with John's own anti-Nazi and anti-military obsession, reinforced In recent months by hisfeeling of being not appreciated in West Germany and not wanted In the government, even deliberately persecuted under the influence of the neo-Nazis. And if he felt guilt over his earlier desertion to the British, he could now choose the anti-Nazi East and still remain on German soli rather than "fleeeconds he later told the Danish correspondent Henrik Bonde-Henriksen.
After the press conference Johnminute talk over glasses of beer with Gaston Coblentz of the New York Herald Tribune and two London paper correspondents, Karl Robson of the News Chronicle and his one-time boss and benefactor Sefton Delmer of the Daily Express. They were joined at the tablerivate dining room of the press building by four
Communist members of the Council for Oermun Unity, but these made no attempt to control the conversation. They did not need to. the three Western correspondents agreed: John was saying of his own volition what they would have sought to have rum say. The three gave him many opportunities to Indicate by some sign that be was being held against bis will, but although the talk around the table wns going in several directions and it would have been easy, he did not do so.
John reiterated that he had crossed over voluntarilyof his long-smoldering unhoppiness about reaarlnca-tion in West Germany. In replyuestion about Dr. Wohlgemuth's role, he said it was relatively"he only established my contact with the CommunistJohn substantiated the theory that he had notto remain in the Soviet Zone when he drove across the Sandkrug Bridge with Wowo. Asked whether he hadin advance to stay, he replied: "No. My decision was made only after my talks with the Communistame over to confirmould be able to stay on myas able to doould have been freead wanted to."
John's motives do at this point seem understandable, and the main course of events clear. But as late as November I'JiiS. perhaps because the picture was again confused byenior US. mtelligence officer in Germany was of the opinion that, "barring an unforeseeable stroke of good fortune, we doubt that we shall ever know the truewhich prompted Otto John's appearance in Rusthe Way Back
Shortly after his arrival in East Germany, John wasto have made contact with Dr. Erich Correns, head of the National Front, and to have prepared for the Ministry ofist of someest German governmentpossibly susceptible to defection inducements.he West Berlin Tetegraf reported his suggesting that former Field IViarshal Friedrich von Pauiufl. who surrendered the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad,ommittee to "unveil the aggressive machinations of the National Socialist circles in West Germany."
A few weeks later, the East German government announced plansinistry for German Unity to be headed by John. Its proposed purpose waa to establish contact with persons in West German public life who were opposed to the Bonnand thus encourage their opposition or provide them with an incentive to defect. The ministry neveralthough John wroteumber of prominent West German politicians urging them totand againstAdenaucr policies.
On4 John was reported to be working on the All-German Committee of the East Zone government and also on the German Committee sponsored by the GDP. Press and Information Office It was learned later that he spent several weeks that fall in the USSR Reports received in4 Indicated that he was planning to establish permanent residence in Leipzig, that he was working with the new East German Lufthansa, and that he wasropaganda offensive to re-establish amonarchy in Germany and would soon maketo Prince Louis Ferdinand.
In5 it was learned that lie had been appointed permanent adviser to the National Council of the National Front and was touring the Soviet zone in official capacity,conferences of regional committees and issuing special directives for conducting anti-West propaganda. Late inhe was reported to be editorew publication, the Berliner Poitlische Korrespondem, directed against theof the Bonn government and intended mainly forin West Berlin and the Federal Republic. He was also reported to be writing memolres.
But there had already been indications that John,with East Germany and with having been givim only the position of "Itinerant preacher fors he wrote his wife, was toying with the idea of returning to the West. This was tho implicationtatement he made to Bonde-Henriksen in5 that he was free to leave at any moment but hesitated because of fear of being arrested in West Germany.hree-hour interview with thecorrespondent. John said he would not have stayed on in East Germany if he thought the USSR desired war. Hennk-
sen remarked. "Ituestion of whether you would have been permitted to say 'Goodbye and thanks.'" andould have known ways and" He concluded tbe Interview by saying:uman being with the shortcomings and virtuesumanan be accused of many things,ave not failed the ideals of my youth. You may call me naive.mand developments will prove me right."
In less than six months, however, perhaps particularly movedessage from Prince Louis to the effect that if John really believed the things he was saying he could no longer be his friend, John arranged with Bonde-Henrlkson lo be picked up on Uhter den Linden in front of the University0 hours ont5 be entered the University from Dorothceruitrasse, telling his two guards to wait at the gate since he had an appointment there. The guards let him go in alone. He walked through the buildings to where Henriksen was parked, waiting. Partially disguiseduffler and dark glasses, he drove with Henriksen In the car bearing the Danish coat of arms through theGate to the Victory Column and then to Tempelhof
rlennksrn and Wiechmanr. from the regional BfV office Sew with him to Wahn. Prom there he was driven to Bonn. Pott Mortem
Ilia fears of being arrested after his redefection were soon confirmed. He was charged on8 withconspiracy and high treason for his East Zone activities. His defense was that he thought it less damaging to West Germany, once be found himself tn Communist hands through the drug-abduction routine, if he pretended lo cooperate; If he refused, he would be brainwashed and forced to reveal suite secrets of importance. He contended that he had had no chance to speak freely with Setter. Delmer and the other Western correspondents at hisugust press ccerference or to convey any hint to anyone during the entire eighteen months that he was acting under compulsion.
The court waa uriimpressed.auist&king reviewthe circvirnstances he was found guilty on two countsconspiracy for his services lo EasternHe was acquitted of betrayingJudged guilty of treasonable falsifications that wouldsecret ifallegation of secret clauses tn theand of activities of the Genlen organrsation aimedhegernony. Sentenced to four years'was released tn8 under an amnesty
Wohlgemuth was brought to trial on treason charges but acquitted on8 by the West German Supreme Court. The court proceedings in the Wohlgemuth case have not yet been released, but the publication8 of theUrtttl from the trial of Otto Johnconfirms the general outline of both men's motivations and actions drawn above and fills in some details.
Tbe testimony of witnesses established that by the spring4 John hod_become so apprehensive about attacks on him and his Office thathe secured the promiseegalwith an industrial firm against eventualities. It was clear to the court also that he had been genuinely, iftroubled by the idea that National Socialism mightain political power in Bonn. His political thinking, ifvague, was certainly oriented toward the West Jft away from totalitarian forms of government. He distrustedmen, opposed remilitarization, and was shocked bv the very thought of another war.
Witnesses pictured him as almost pathologically disturbed during his July visit to Berlin. He was convinced that the newspaper story of changes planned by the interior Minister was aimed at him.unch onuly, when someonethatar could resolve the current tension he "shot up out of hist the BfV Berlin office that afternoon he went to pieces, complaining with haif-drunken vehemence about the lack of confidence in him. Onury
HotJtotrrat and Staataqt'atrdung. Bandueller,he Vrtm Includes an exhaustive and impartial summary of the evidence and arguments of bota orcae-cuttor. and defense.
at lunch he bemoaned the "growing influence ot the Nazis" and wentong reminiscence of the Third Reich and bis own imsonderstood role at Nuremberg. The memorial service onuly had an extraordinarily shattering effect on him.
With respect to any premeditation of hisuly defection it was testified that he hadeturn flight to Cologne foruly, that he had refused his secretary's request for use of the official car onuly on the grounds that he would need it himself, that he told his chauffeur after dinner onuly that he was through with the car for the day but would call for it In the morning, and that as he left the hotel for the last time,lerk told him his wife was In the lobby, he did not say goodbye to her. His frequent letters to her from the East Zone referred again and again to hisdecision and entreated her for understanding.
There was evidence also that the East Oerman security service was unprepared for John's appearance in the East Zone and imcertam about hisest German woman journalist whom it had imprisoned two years earlier oncharges and whom it supposedood deal about John wad brought before one of its officers In Halle just afteruly and questioned as to whether she thought John'sbona fide. Another West German journalist was told by John himself, in complete privacy onhat the "number two Russian" in Karlshorst to whom he had offered his collaboration onuly was surprised, butind of gentleman's agreement not to demand any secrets from him and to let him move about freely.
The testimony did not touch on the Hoffcr mystery except to show that John had beenest of Hoffer's when he claimed the CIC had made him spy on him. From the bits of evidence available here It appears likely that Hofler was disillusioned with mtelligence Intrigues, had made somecontacts in East Germany, and was afraid that his friend's defection would bring on an interrogation andJohn's attempt to blame his suicide on theeeling of guilt for it on his own part
Wohlgemuth, who did not make himself available as awas pictured in the testimony as politically far to the
left, announcing to all and sundry his conviction thatwould come to power in western Europeew Years Nevertheless he had apparently not engaged In any legally actionable activities. With respect to his ir.tenilons in driving John across the Sandkrug Bridge, it was testified that when uhe two men left the office-apartment after the end of the Doctor's office hours that night, he was stillhis white trousers and carryingrench coat, and that in the wee hours ofuly he came back, alone, very much upset, and dashed to and fro through the house hastilyrunk.
He told the night nurse that John, whom he had introduced to some people In the East Zone, had unexpectedly decided to remainthere, and that he himself might be suspected of wrongdoing and was therefore going back to stay at the Charlie until things quieted down. Heote for the day nurse to tbe same eflect, and told her to take care of the office and apartment.. he telephoned his attorney, gave him the same excited account and asked him to take full powers over his property. Then he went to his mistress' house in Lieteenburger street, where hene-room apartment, and called her down to the street Telling her what had happened, he suggested that ids aoartment might be searched and asked her to remove rds camera photographs, films, and books. At about five o'cJocTne stopped at the Uhland garage for gasoline, where theTtteodant noticed that he seemed to be Inigger hurry tharv.usual."
None of these people informed the police or Frau John,who first got from InteUigence sources the news of John's probable defection, confirmed onuly by his own announcement over the East German radio:
aveesolute step and made contactave been deprived of any oasis forin the Federal Republic.ad beenin mv office by the Nazis again rampantand even 5public life, tbe
SSor has now made any further work tn my official poaitioa Lnpossible tor me by declaring to the press thatoming of sovereignty he wouldree hand and be able to entrust ihe protection ot the constitution to persons who are trnfrabowerman policy has run into a
blindet there isossibilityhall soon present aiy Ideas and plans for German reunification to the Oerman public.
Some students of the case are still convinced, In spite of the apparent adequacy of John's personal motivation, that he must nevertheless have defected under Soviet or more likely British control. To them the case can butystery; for although acquaintances like Winch, Putlitz. andmay well have encouraged John's own obsessions, no evidence has come to light onupposed definitivewas exercised, and it is rlifficult to arrive even at atheoretical reconstruction of British or Soviet purposes ', consistent with the facts.
It seemed evident to the court, as it doeseader of fcie intelligence files, that John's decision to approach the Communist authorities in the East Zone, madetate of heightened neurotic tension and perhaps alcoholic befuddle-ment, derived from his frustration In what he considered his mission to stem the renazification of Germany and was precipitated by the irriminent likelihood of his losing what position and Influence he still had in the Federal Republic. When his Initial Soviet contacts in Karlshorst led him. it seems probable, to believe he would be free of duress in the East and might be able to accomplish there what he could not In the West, he forthwith made his marriage ofwith the Communists, in which any real position and influence yet escaped him and from which he eventually opted to return to his Western wife and friends.Original document.