Sunday, 4 January 2015

Fritz Wiedemann

Born on 16 August 1891, Fritz Wiedemann was a colourful character who was Hitler’s commander in the First World War, later Hitler's personal adjutant, and then a diplomat - before he turned on Hitler.

Hitler’s superior during the First World War, Wiedemann provided strong support for the Austrian soldier. He nominated Hitler for the Iron Cross First Class on several occasions before it was eventually awarded in 1918.

After the war, Wiedemann refused an invitation from Hitler to organise the SA.

When Hitler came to power, Wiedemann accepted an offer to serve as his adjutant. He accompanied the Führer on state visits, answered correspondence and kept his diary.

In July 1938, Wiedemann travelled to London, with Hitler’s approval, and met with Lord Halifax (British Foreign Secretary) to discuss the Sudeten issue. Halifax told Wiedemann that a solution of the Sudeten German question by force would not be calmly accepted by the British people.

Wiedemann told Halifax that the latest possible date for a solution was March 1939, having obtained that date from Hitler and having it confirmed by the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – High Command of the Armed Forces).

On Wiedemann’s return, Hitler did not let him report in detail. Hitler’s dismissive response hardened Ludwig Beck (at that time still the Chief of Staff of the German Army) to the view that reasoned argument would no longer be effective with Hitler.

Wiedemann let his London contacts know that Hitler intended to solve the Sudeten question by force in the immediate future.

In 1937, Wiedemann commenced an affair with Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe – a relationship which annoyed the Führer. In January 1939, no longer in favour with Hitler, Wiedemann was appointed German Consul-General in San Francisco. Princess von Hohenlohe joined him in the United States.

Whilst there he privately warned British representatives that Hitler’s support at home was not as strong as might appear, and that Hitler had an unstable personality and was very dangerous. He urged the British to strike at Hitler as soon as possible.

He offered to US authorities to publicly denounce the German regime, but the US did not want this embarrassment at the time.

Wiedemann was subsequently sent to Tianjin in Japanese-occupied China.

After the war Wiedemann gave evidence at Nuremberg.

He died on 17 January 1970.

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