Weiszäcker, Ernst Heinrich Freiherr von

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Weiszäcker, Ernst Heinrich Freiherr von
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Weiszäcker, Ernst Heinrich Freiherr von, born 25-05-1882 in Stuttgart, was a German diplomat and politician. He served as State Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1943, and as German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945. He was a member of the prominent Weizsäcker family, and the father of German President Richard von Weizsäcker and physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. In 1911 he married Marianne von Graevenitz, who belonged to the old nobility. In 1916 he became a Freiherr, Baron, as his father and his family were raised to the inheritable nobility, less than two years before the fall of the local monarchy. In 1900, Weizsäcker joined the Imperial German Navy, to become an officer, serving mainly in Berlin. In 1916, he served as Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Reinhard Scheer
 aboard the German flagship Friedrich der Grosse during the Battle of Jutland. Scheer died age 65 on 26-11-1928.  In 1917, during the latter portion of World War I he earned the Iron Cross and was promoted to Korvettenkapitän. He was a member of the Naval Staff led by Admiral Reinhard Scheer from August 1918. From June 1919 to April 1920, he served as naval attaché to the Hague. Weizsäcker joined the German Foreign Service in 1920. He was appointed as Consul to Basel in 1921, as Councillor in Copenhagen in 1924 and was stationed in Geneva from 1927. He became head of the department for disarmament in 1928, and was appointed as envoy to Oslo in 1931 and to Bern in 1933. In 1936 as Ambassador to Bern. He was encouraged by his superior to join the ruling NSDAP party, which he did in 1938, and he was also awarded an honorary rank in the SS. In 1938, Weizsäcker was opposed to the general trend in German foreign policy of attacking Czechoslovakia out of the fear that it might cause a general war that Germany would lose; Weizsäcker had no moral objections to the idea of destroying Czechoslovakia and was only opposed to the timing of the attack. Through Weizsäcker had some contacts with members of the German opposition, during his interrogations after the war, he never claimed to be a member of the resistance. It was only after he himself was brought to trial  that Weizsäcker first claimed to be an out and out anti-Nazi, working with all his heart and might to overthrow the Nazi regime. On August 19, 1938, Weizsäcker wrote a memo to the Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop stating: “I again opposed the whole theory of (an attack on Czechoslovakia) and observed that we should have to wait political developments until the English lose interest in the Czech matter and would tolerate our action, before we could tackle the affair without risk”. Weizsäcker never sent his memo to Ribbentrop. Together with the Abwehr chief, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and the Army Chief of Staff, General Ludwig  Beck
, Beck committed suicid in the Bendlerhof, age 64, on 20-07-1944Weizsäcker was a leader of the “anti-war” group in the German government, which was determined to avoid a war in 1938 that it felt Germany would lose. This group was not necessarily committed to the overthrow of the regime, but was loosely allied to another, more radical group, the “anti-Nazi” faction centered around Colonel Hans Paul Oster  and Hans Bernd Gisevius , which wanted to use the crisis as an excuse for executing a putsch to overthrow the Nazi regime. Gisevius died age 69, on 23-02-1974 in Mühlhem. He was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer on  30-01-1942. After the German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943 and the changing German war fortunes, and following his own request, Weizsäcker resigned as State Secretary and was appointed German Ambassador to the Holy See from 1943 to 1945. Weizsäcker continued to present the Vatican with anti-communist slogans, and both threatened a separate Russian-German peace and requested from Monsignore Domenico Tardini  the immediate mounting of a Papal peace initiative to stop the war in the West so Germany could finish Communism in the East. Tardini , he died age 61 on 30-07-1961, saw in this a transparent effort to obtain a military solution. Like several other German officials, Weizsäcker attempted to negotiate the survival of some segment of the government and to avoid the “unconditional surrender” of Germany, but his efforts to bring up the topic of “a German transition government, and the likelihood of his being a member of it,” failed.  Ernst von Weizsäcker (right) with son Richard at post war trial. After the end of the war, Weizsäcker initially remained in the Vatican City with his wife, as a guest of the Pope and a member of the diplomatic corps. He did not return to Germany until 1946. Weizsäcker was arrested on 25-07-1947, in Nuremberg in connection with the Ministries Trial, also known as the Wilhelmstrasse Trial, after the location of the German Foreign Office in Berlin. Weizsäcker was charged with active cooperation with the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz, as a crime against humanity. Weizsäcker, with the assistance of his son, the future President of unified Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker,  who appeared as his assistant defense counsel, Richard was a law student during the trial, claimed that he had no knowledge of the purpose for which Auschwitz had been designed and believed that Jewish prisoners would face less danger if deported to the East. SS Hauptsturmführer, Josef Mengele
  infamous for performing human experiments on camp inmates in Auschwitz, including children, for which Mengele was called the “Angel of Death”. In 1949, the Americans sentenced him to 7 years in prison, one of the three judges voted to acquit him, but the same year, the sentence was reduced to five years, and the following year, he was given an amnesty, which obliterated any legal remembrance of the sentence, and he was freed.

Death and burial ground of Weiszäcker, Ernst Heinrich Freiherr von.

     He subsequently published his memoirs, in which he portrayed himself as a supporter of the resistance. He died of a stroke, age 69, on 04-08-1951 and is buried with his wife Marianne, born Graevenitz, who died age 83, on 09-01-1983, on the cemetery Solitude in Stuttgart.

 

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