Ilse Hirsch, born in 1922 in Hamm, was a Nazi resistance fighter who played a key role in the assassination of Franz Oppenhof the mayor of Aachen in the later days of World War Two.
Born in 1922, Ilse Hirsch joined the League of German Girl s , part of the Hitler Youth movement , when she was 16 years old and became one of the organisation’s leaders. In 1945 she became involved with the Nazi resistance force, dubbed ’The Werewolves’ , whose mission was to work behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced into Germany.
In a whirlwind recruiting campaign he collected almost 5,000 young militants by year’s end and established a clandestine training complex in medieval Hülchrath Castle, some 45 miles northeast of Aachen. The surrounding village was not only isolated, but also conveniently near the Western Front, where the battered Allies were soon embroiled in the Battle of the Bulge and unlikely to launch any major offensives before spring. Just after Christmas, Prützmann and his officers code-named the Aachen mission Operation Carnival and began selecting a team. Chosen to command the squad was 30-something SS-Untersturmführer Herbert Wenzel,
Hirsch was selected to take part in Operation Carnival , a mission to assassinate Dr. Franz Oppenhoff , who had recently been appointed mayor of Aachen by the Americans who had taken control of the city.
Oppenhoff was considered a traitor and a collaborationist by the Nazi regime, and his assassination, code named Unternehmen Karneval (“Operation Carnival”), was ordered by Heinrich Himmler, planned by SS Obergruppenführer Hans Adolf Prutzmann , and carried out by an assassination unit composed of four SS men and two members of the Hitler Youth.
Hirsch knew the ground well and acted as a guide for the team. Along with 5 other Werewolves she was parachuted in near Aachen and guided them to Oppenhoff’s countryside home outside the city. Oppenhoff was shot by SS-Unterscharführer Joseph Leitgeb from Innsbruck, on the steps of his home , after which Hirsch attempted to lead the Werewolves to safety. However she caught her foot on a trip-wire and triggered a landmine, gravely injuring her and killing Leitgeb.
Hirch’s injuries kept her in hospital for a long time but she eventually returned home. In 1949 the surviving members of the team, barring one, were arrested and became the subject of Aachen ‘Werewolf Trial’. All were found guilty and sentenced to 1-4 years in prison, but Hirsch was released. Following the war Hirsch continued to live in the Aachen area, marrying and having two sons.
Franz Oppenhoff is buried with his wife Irmgard, born Nimax, who died age 92 in 2001, on the Hauptfriedhof of Aachen.