Papen, Franz von “Fränzchen”, born 29-10-1879 in Werl, Westfalen, the son of a wealthy landowner. He joined the German Army and was a General Staff officer on the outbreak of the First World War. In 1914 von Papen “Fränzchen” for his friends, was sent to Washington as a military attache. While in the United States he helped to arrange for a company in Bridgeport to produce armaments for Germany. However, in 1915 he was forced to leave the country after being accused of attempting to sabotage American armaments production for the Allies. On his return Papen was sent to Palestine where he served as chief of staff of the 4th Turkish Army . He continued to carry out undercover work and was involved in planning rebellions in Ireland and India and sabotage in the United States. As a result of papers found in Nazareth, a number of Papen’s agents were arrested and either imprisoned or executed. After the First World War Papen joined the Catholic Centre Party and in 1921 was elected to the Reichstag. Von Papen met Pope Pius XII, in 1939. Two years later he purchased a controlling stake in its leading paper, the Germania. Papen immediately sacked the editor and over the next few years attempted to use the newspaper to impose his right-wing views on the party. This plan was unsuccessful and was considered as an outsider in the BVP. As Papen had only a small political following it came as a great shock when Paul von Hindenburg decided to appoint Papen as chancellor on 31-05-1932. Freiherr Magnus von Braun a member of the Cabinets von Papen and Schleicher was the father of Wernher von Braun the V1 and V2 designer. Papen now decided to gain the support of the Nazi Party by lifting the ban on the Sturm Abteilung (SA) that had been introduced by Heinrich Brüning. This was followed by deposing the Social Democratic Party government in Prussia and aggressive statements about not keeping to the terms of the Versailles Treaty. Papen’s reactionary policies upset
Kurt von Schleicher who favoured a coalition of the centre. When Schleicher managed to persuade several government ministers to turn against Papen he resigned from office. Papen now began to plot with Adolf Hitler (see parents) in an effort to oust Schleicher who was now chancellor of Germany. With the support of industrial leaders such as Hjalmar Schacht, Gustav Krupp, he died age 79, on 16-01-1950, in Austria, Alfred Krupp, Fritz Thyssen, he died age 77, on 08-02-1951, Albert Voegler, he committed suicide age 68, on 14-04-1945 and Emile Kirdorf, he died age 91, on 13-07-1938, Papen persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor. Papen, who became vice-chancellor, told Hindenburg that he would be able to prevent Hitler from introducing his more extremist policies. After the Night of the Long Knives, Ernst Julius Röhm which included the murder of Kurt von Schleicher, Papen sent a letter to Hitler praising him for “crushing the intended second revolution.” Soon afterwards Papen resigned as vice-chancellor and was sent as ambassador to Austria (1934-39) where he plotting successfully for the achievement of Anschluss. This was followed by the post of ambassador to Turkey (1939-44). Papen retired to Westphalia where he was arrested by Allied forces on 10-04-1945.
Death and burial ground of Papen, Franz von “Fränzchen”.
Papen was captured along with his son Franz Jr. at his own home by First Lieutenant Thomas McKinley and members of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, under commander Colonel James R.Pierce a part of the 17th Airborne Division commanded by Major General William Maynadier Miley, in April 1945. McKinley rushed into the lodge to find Franz von Papen having dinner with his family. McKinley pulled out a photograph and identified Papen. McKinley then told Papen that he was his prisoner;
Papen stated in reply, “I don’t know what the Americans would want with an old man of 65 like me!” Nonetheless, McKinley sat down and ate dinner with Papen before taking him captive. Papen was heard to remark (in English), “I wish this terrible war were over.” Sergeant Fredericks responded, “So do 11 million other guys!” Also present during the capture was a small band from the 550th Airborne glider Infantry He was charged with conspiring to start the Second World War at Nuremburg.
He was found not guilty but the German government had him re-arrested and charged him with other offences committed while in Hitler’s government. On 01-05-1947 Papen was judged to be a “major offender” and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. However, like other wealthy supporters of the Nazi regime he was soon forgiven for his crimes and was released in January, 1949. Papen had his wealth and property returned to him but he did lose his state pension and was deprived of his driving license. In his retirement Papen wrote and published his Memoirs (1952). Franz von Papen died in Obersasbach on 02-05-1969, old age 89.
Von Papen is buried on the local cemetery of Wallerfangen, the grave is really neglected and on the country seat of von Papen, his granddaughter is growing mushrooms.