Helldorf, Wolf-Heinrich Graf von, born 14-10-1896, in Merseburg, a noble landowner’s son, von Helldorff served as a Leutnant from 1915 in the first World War. Assigned to Thüringische Husaren-Regiment Nr. 12
on 02-08-1914 and reassigned to infantry: 24-10-1916. His younger brother, Leutnant Hans-Joachim Graf Helldorff also of the 12th Hussars was killed in action at Equiancourt on 05-09-1918. Wolf -Heinrich became the Kompaniefuhrer in the Machine Gun-Kompanie III of the Südarmee on 20-11-1916. Returned to the Husaren-Regiment 12 in 1918. Retired from the Reichswehr
in December 1919. He was a member of the Prussian Parliament from 1924 to 1928, and again in 1932. He was also friends with the stage magician and psychic, Erik Jan Hanussen,
who constantly lent him money for his debts. Eric Jan Hanussen who was assassinated on 25-03-1933 in Berlin, age 43, probably by a group of SA
, was an Austrian Jewish publicist and clairvoyant performer who lied about his origins. Acclaimed in his lifetime as a hypnotist, mentalist, occultist, and astrologer, Hanussen was active in the Weimar Republic Germany and also at the beginning of Nazi Germany. He is said to have instructed Adolf Hitler
(did you know
) (see Hitler parents
(see William Hitler
in performance and the achievement of dramatic effect. “The count von Helldorff was always in debt, and his private life was a wreck. He was separated from his wife and was on bad terms with his mother after omitted on his promise to pay her rent. Sometimes he was behind in his own rent. On one occasion he ‘forgot’ to pay for a new Mercedes. And he was always late paying his personal tailor and the trainer he hire for his racehorse. There were other debts as well, all from a gambling habit von Helldorff couldn’t shake. Luckily, he could always count on a handout from Hanussen. All he had to do was sign an IOU, which Hanussen would add to his growing pile of chits he kept safe in his apartment.” Served with Freikorps Lützow and Freikorps Roßbach
in Upper Bavaria, participating in the Kapp-Putsch of 1920, to overthrow the nascent Weimar Republic, as leader of the Offiziers-Stoßtrupp of Freikorps Roßbach
; following this, he lived in exile in Italy, returning to Germany in 1924. He became a member of the NSDAP
in 1926, and by 1931 had joined the SA, functioning as an SA leader in Berlin.He had five children, Wolf-Ingo born 23-10-1921, Joachim born 06-03-1928, Oda born 20-10-1927, Hans-Benno born 03-03-1929 and Olaf born born 15-03-1936. His oldest son sergeant Joachim von Helldorff served in the Waffen SS
and was captured near La Haye on 11-07-1944 by the Allied forces. The scope of his work got bigger in 1933 when he was also given responsibility for the SS’s Berlin-Brandenburg leadership. At the same time, he was also elected to the Reichstag. In March of the same year, he was named Police President of Potsdam, and from July 1935, he took on the same function in Berlin, a post in which he remained for the last decade of his life.
Von Helldorff, an inveterate gambler, was notorious for arresting wealthy Jews, seizing their passports and then extorting huge bribes from them to secure their release and exit from Germany. He was closely allied with Dr. Joseph Goebbels
, Gauleiter of Berlin and Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. As chief of the Berlin Police,
von Helldorff played an instrumental role in the harassment and plundering of Berlin’s Jewish population in the early and mid-1930s. Joseph Goebbels mentioned in his diary on 02-07-1938, that “…Helldorff wants to construct a Jewish ghetto in Berlin. The rich Jews will be required to fund its construction.” Von Helldorff was the organizational brains behind the arson and looting of Berlin’s synagogues and Jewish businesses in the Kristallnacht pogroms of November 1938.
Von Helldorf rages at his police officers for obeying orders to stand down and vows that if he had been in Berlin he would have issued orders to shoot the rioters. On 08-11-1938, the day Kristallnacht began, he was quoted in the New York Times saying, “as a result of a police activity in the last few weeks the entire Jewish population of Berlin had been disarmed” Helldorff used his office for personal enrichment. In the Blomberg
Affair he first withheld from the top Nazi leadership evidence which contradicted the Gestapo’s assertion that Werner von Blombergs new wife had a criminal record for posing for pornographic photos, then later leaked to the Wehrmacht leadership the same exculpatory evidence to create the implication that it had been in the possession of but withheld by the Gestapo. Similarly in the Fritsch affair, von Helldorf possessed documentary information that would have exonerated Fritsch from the allegations that Fritsch paid for the services of homosexual prostitutes, it was a cavalry captain with a similar surname. After Fritsch’s consequent dismissal as Commander in Chief of the Army, von Helldorf
then leaked to the army leadership the denitrification upon which Fritsch had been framed and disgraced. From 1938, it is asserted that von Helldorff was in some form of communication with the military opposition to Hitler. This is especially the case in Hans Gisevius’ book “To the Bitter End”, in which von Helldorff plays an important role in Gisevius’
circle of conspirators and anti-Nazis. Gisevius was a German diplomat and intelligence officer. A strong (but covert) opponent of the Nazi regime, he served as a liaison in Zürich between Allen Welsh Dulles
station chief for the American OSS and the German Resistance forces in Germany. Gisevius died in Müllheim in Baden Württemberg, age 69, on 23-02-1974. On 20-07-1944, von Helldorff was in communication with the coup d’état plotters. His place was to command his Berlin police during the coup, first to not interfere with the military takeover, then to aid the new government. The fact that von Helldorff sided with the anti-Hitler movement in their attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler earned him a place in history as a German resistance fighter against the Nazi régime. Whether his involvement was due to a sudden case of principles, or rather to his well-proven opportunism, he was to pay dearly for it: of all the conspirators, none attracted as much hatred from Hitler and Himmler
as the “traitor” von Helldorf, whose gambling debts they had personally taken care of in the past. For possibly the only decent act in his life, von Helldorf was tortured, publicly humiliated and for his participation in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia, he was condemned
by Roland Freisler
at the Volksgerichtshof as he stated that he had opposed Hitler since the time of Stalingrad and that the Führer was the ruin of Germany. Put to death at the Plötzensee Prison and Hitler was so enraged at his participation in the plot that he ordered that he be forced to watch all others hanged before him and then hanged last.
Death and burial ground of Helldorf, Wolf-Heinrich Graf von.
Cemetery location of Helldorf, Wolf-Heinrich Graf von.