The Murderers and their Accessories

The Murderers and their Accessories

W/Cdr Wilfred “Freddie” Bowes, F/Lt (later S/Ldr) Francis McKenna, F/Lt (later S/Ldr) “Dickie” Lyon, F/Lt Stephen Courtney, F/Lt Harold Harrison and W/O H J Williams, of the Royal Air Force Special Investigation Branch, painstakingly travelled Europe and gradually pieced together enough evidence to identify the culprits. Lt. Col. A P Scotland, an Army Intelligence expert, interrogated many suspects at the London Cage.

The Court President at the resulting trials was Maj-General H L Longden; the Judge Advocate was Mr C L Stirling, with a panel of six senior military officers – three Army Colonels, two RAF Wing Commanders and an RAF Air Commodore. Ten German lawyers – one a woman, Dr Anna Oehlert – formed the defence team. The Court pronounced its verdict on September 3rd 1947, and in early February 1948, thirteen of the perpetrators were hanged at Hamelin Gaol, Hamburg.

A short while after this, a second trial took place for three more of the accused.

(W/Cdr Bowes and S/Ldr McKenna were later both awarded the OBE for their work in bringing the culprits to justice. Lt Col Scotland also received the OBE for this, and other, duties.)

German Luftwaffe

General Grosch was the Luftwaffe officer directly responsible for the security and welfare of prisoners of war. He and his deputy, Colonel Waelde, were Interrogated by Lt.Col. Scotland at the London Cage. A German civilian, Peter Mohr, who worked in the Kriminalpolizei and who was outraged at the murders, provided key information to the interrogators.

Breslau Gestapo

Standartenfuhrer Seetzen was involved with the Breslau Sicherheitsdienst, and arrested in Hamburg on September 28th 1945, after identification by former colleagues. He bit on a cyanide capsule whilst being taken for interrogation, and died within minutes.

Obersturmbannfuhrer Max Wielen, Breslau Gestapo Chief, was sentenced to life imprisonment on 3-Sep-47 but only served a few years before being released.

Gestapo Chief Dr Wilhelm Scharpwinkel was masquerading as a Lt Hagamann in the No 6 Hospital at Breslau when Frau Gerda Zembrodt, corroborated by Klaus Lonsky, saw Russian officers remove him at gunpoint. During the enquiry into the murders, the Russians refused to co-operate with the Allied investigation, although after much prodding they allowed Scharpwinkel to make a statement, in Moscow, during August and September 1946. Soon afterwards, Scharpwinkel disappeared and although reported dead by the Russians on 17-Oct-47, was believed to have found a high position in the Soviet administration.

He and his associate Lux murdered Cross, Casey, Wiley, Leigh, Pohe and Hake. The next day Lux executed Humphries, McGill, Swain, Hall, Langford, Evans, Valenta, Kolanowski, Stewart and Birkland. The day after that, he executed Kiewnarski, Pawluk, Wernham and Skanzikas. On April 6th, Lux murdered Grisman, J E Williams, Milford, Street and McGarr. Long followed soon after. Lux is also believed to have killed Tobolski and Krol, who vanished in the same area as the others. Lux, with at least twenty-seven murders on his soul, died in the fighting around Breslau at the end of the war. Gunn, killed at Breslau, is likely to have been another of their victims.

Krimilalkommissar Dr Gunther Absalon investigated the escape and poked around at Sagan for some weeks. He chaired the German enquiry into the Escape and collected evidence. It is not clear what happened to him or whether or not he was involved in the murder conspiracy. Absalon, seen alive and well in Breslau in May 1946, was reported to me as (a) being hanged and (b) having died in a Russian prison in May 1948.

Soon after 1948 the investigators caught up with Erwin Wieczorek had been involved with the killing of Cross, Casey, Leigh, Wiley, Poole and Hake. He was sentenced to death but later the sentence was quashed.

Richard Haensel was acquitted on 6-Nov-48; Dankert and Kreuzer disappeared. Kiske, Knappe, Kuhnel, Pattke and Lang were killed in the Breslau fighting. Lauffer committed suicide. Prosse died in 1944 after an unsuccessful stomach operation. Hampel was not tried, and Schroeder was a material witness.

Brno/Zlin Gestapo

Brno Gestapo Chief Hugo Romer, believed to have given instructions for the murders of Kirby-Green and Kidder, disappeared. Kriminalrat Hans Ziegler, Gestapo Chief of Moravia, arranged the killing of S/L Tim Kirby-Green and F/O Kidder, which was done by Erich Zacharias (arrested in Fallersleben, also after having been given away by his deserted wife) and Adolf Knippelberg (arrested in Czechoslovakia), with drivers Friedrich Kiowsky (arrested in Prague by the Czechs) and Schwartzer. Knippelberg, Hauptsturmfuhrer Franz Schauschutz (arrested in Austria) and Zacharias were recognised from a painted mural in a dubious wartime Gestapo night club. The Czechs executed Schwarzer and Kiowski in 1947. Ziegler committed suicide in the London Cage (Cockfosters) on 3-Feb-48. Zacharias, described by Lt. Col. Scotland as “without doubt the most uncivilised, brutal, and morally indecent character in the entire story” was hanged at Hamelin on 27-Feb-48. Knippelberg was captured by the Russians; released in 1945, he disappeared.

Wilhelm Nolle was arrested 10-Jun-48 but was not tried; Otto Koslowsky was executed by the Czechs in 1947.

Danzig Gestapo

Danzig Gestapo Chief Dr Venediger ordered many of the killings and received 2 years on 17-Dec-57. The deaths of Henri Picard, Tim Walenn, Edward Brettell and Romas Marcinkus were believed to have been at the hands of Hauptmann Reinholt Bruchardt, who was traced in 1948 and sentenced to death but later commuted to life imprisonment (in Germany, this meant 21 years). Max Kilpe, Harry Witt and Herbert Wenzler were not prosecuted; Walter Sasse, Walter Voelz and Julius Hug disappeared.

Karlsruhe Gestapo

Oberregierungsrat Josef Gmeiner, who with Kriminalsekretar Otto Preiss shot Cochran, aided by his driver Heinrich Boschert. The latter was arrested in Karlsruhe, the French handed over Gmeiner, and all three were sentenced to death, although Boschert’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Gmeiner, Preiss and Walter Herberg were hanged at Hamelin on 27-Feb-48.

Otto Gannicher committed suicide 26-Apr-46; Magnus Wochner given 10 years.

Kiel Gestapo

Chief Friedrich Schmidt and his deputy Sturmbannfuhrer Johannes Post were being eagerly sought by the RAF SIB. Post, living with his mistress Marianne Heydt, was arrested at Minden under a false name after being given away by the wife he had deserted. Arrogant to the last, he admitted the murder of Catenach, Christiansen, Espelid and Fugelsgang, under the orders and assistance of Danzig Gestapo Chief Dr Venediger, and aided by Hans Kaehler and his associate at Danzig. Post, Oskar Schmidt, Walter Jacobs and Kaehler were hanged at Hamelin on 27-Feb-48; Friedrich Schmidt escaped prosecution until May 1968 when he was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Drivers Arthur Denkman and Wilhelm Struve were each given 10 years on 3-Sep-47.

Franz Schmidt committed suicide 27-Oct-46

Munich Gestapo

Gestapo agents Johan Schneider, Emil Weil and Eduard Geith shot Gouws and Stevens; all were hanged at Hamelin on 27-Feb-48. Charges against Oswald Schafer were dismissed on 11-Dec-68; Martin Schermer committed suicide on 25-Mar-45.

Reichenburg Gestapo

Gestapo Chief Bernhard Baatz, Robert Weyland and Robert Weissman of Bruex arranged the killing of W Williams, Bull, Kierath and Mondschein. Baatz disappeared after being released by the Russians; Weyland stayed living in the Russian Zone. The French later captured Weissman, but his fate is unknown.

Saarbrucken Gestapo

Oberleutnant Dr Leopold Spann (killed 25-Apr-45 in an air raid on Linz), Gestapo Chief at Saarbrucken, Kriminalsekretar Emil Schulz (found to be custody at Saarbrucken under a false identity) and driver Walter Breithaupt (arrested in Frankfurt) were responsible for the deaths of Roger Bushell and Bernard Scheidhauer. Schulz was hanged at Hamelin 27-Feb-48, Breithaupt given life on 3-Sep-47.

Strasburg Gestapo

The portly Alfred Schimmel, a former solicitor, and another unidentified Gestapo man took Hayter from Strasburg jail on April 6th 1944, and killed him near Breslau. Schimmel was hanged at Hamelin, 27-Feb-48,

Max Dissner committed suicide 11-May-45; Heinrich Hilker acquitted and died 11-Apr-48; Erich Isslhorst executed for other crimes.

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