Diels, Rudolf, born on 16-12-1900 in Berghausen, Taunus, a son of a farmer and cousin of Hermann Goering, was a German politician and SS Oberführer. He served in the army during World War I and afterwards studied law at the Universaty of Marburg from 1919. At university he had a reputation as a drinker and philanderer. While there he also received a number of dueling scars, a “badge of honour” resulting from the academic fencing once practised by young upper-class Austrians and Germans in trying to prove their manhood. The scars did not greatly detract from his good looks and in fact imparted a quite striking appearance. American tourists visiting Germany in the late 19th century were shocked to see the students, generally with their Studentcorps, at major German universities such as Heidelberg, Bonn or Jena with facial scars – some older, some more recent, and some still wrapped in bandages.He joined the Prussian interior ministry in 1930 and was promoted to an advisory position in the Prussian police in 1932, targeting political radicals, both Communists and Nazis. He was head of the Prussian Political Police when Adolf Hitler came to power. Diels was one of the group SA members who killed Albrecht “Ali” Höhler a criminal carpenter
and an active member of the local Communist Party branch who was sentenced to six years imprisonment for the shooting of the SA Sturmführer, Horst Wessel
on 23-02-1930. Diels was in charge of the Gestapo from 1933 to 1934. He was married with Hildegard “Hilde” Mannesman, who was the daughter of Alfred Mannesman, who happened to be very wealthy. She was the first wife of Diels. Besides the fact that Hilde had red hair, she clung to Diels like a magnet, even after their divorce in 1936. Diels on 17-01-1943 married Ilse Goering. She was the daughter of the Korvettenkapitäns Otto Burchard (1865–1904) and Frieda Goering (1875–1929)and enjoyed the protection of Hermann Goering.
During the Second World War there were 45.000 members of the Gestapo
. However, it is estimated they also employed 160.000 agents and informers. He served in the Army during World War I and when Adolf Hitler
(did you know
) (see Alois Hitler
) (see parents
) (see William Hitler
) came to power, Diels was head of the Prussian Political Police in Berlin, Josef Goebbels
was the Gauleiter of Berlin. Hermann Goering
(did you know
) was made minister for Prussia in 1933 and was impressed with Diels’ work and new commitment to the Nazi party. Goering appointed him as chief of the new Prussian state police department
. On 27-02-1933 the Reichstag fire occurred, and Diels was the main interrogator of the principal accused, Marinus van der Lubbe
. He heard Hitler shouting through the fire “these sub-humans do not understand how the people stand at our side. In their mouse-holes, out of which they now want to come, of course they hear nothing of the cheering of the masses.” He also ordered SS Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe
to arrange the killing of Gregor Strasser
in October 1933; ironically Strasser, age 42, was later killed during this night of the Long Knives in which Diels himself was almost killed. Nebe was sentenced to death by the Volksgericht, People’s Court and according to official records, was executed in Berlin at Plötzensee Prison on 21-03-1945, age 50, by hanging with piano wire from a meat hook.
Nebe was involved in various plots including the 20 July 1944, bomb plot against German dictator Adolf Hitler. Diels soon attracted the attention of political rivals including Heinrich Himmler
and Reinhard Heydrich
. Effectively smeared, he narrowly avoided, helped of Goering, execution during the Night of the Long Knives, SA leaders Ernst Julius Röhm
, Edmund Heines
and August Schneidhuber
was killed, fleeing his post for five weeks.
When the German Army occupied countries they were accompanied by the Gestapo. When on foreign duties they wore civilian clothes or SS uniforms. They were responsible for rounding up communists, partisans and Jews and others who were considered to be a threat to German rule. The Gestapo quickly developed a reputation for using brutal interrogation methods in order to obtain confessions. Diels maintained his association with Goering, marrying a cousin of his protector. Goering saved him from prison on a number of occasions, notably once in 1940 when he declined to order the arrest of Jews and more vitally after the 20-07-1944.
He presented an affidavit for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials but was also summoned to testify by Goering’s defense lawyer.
Death and burial ground of Diels, Rudolf.
He later served in the post-war government of Lower Saxony from 1950 and then in the Ministry of the Interior until his retirement in 1953. He died, at the age of 56, on 18-11-1957, following an accident, as his rifle went off taking it from the trunk of his car, prepared for a hunt. He is buried with his family on the small cemetery of Berghausen, near Katzenelnbogen.
The authorities of Berghausen were not so enthusiastic in the beginning to give me the grave location. Alas the gravestone is removed, not the one of his brother Hermann.
Cemetery location of Diels, Rudolf.
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