Walter Schellenberg

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Correctly: Walther Schellenberg, full name Walther Friedrich Schellenberg (January 16, 1910 - March 31, 1952) was a German Nazi and second-in-command of the Gestapo.

Walther Schellenberg was born in Saarbrücken, Germany. When France occupied Saarland after the First World War, his family moved to Luxembourg because of the economical crisis in the Weimar republic.

Schellenberg enrolled in the University of Marburg, and then in the University of Bonn in 1929 to study medicine, but soon after he decided to study law. When he graduated, he joined the SS in May 1933 and worked in counter-intelligence. He became acquainted with Reinhard Heydrich and from 1939 to 1942 was a deputy leader of the Reich Central Security Office and Heinrich Himmler's personal aide.

In November 1939 Schellenberg played a major part in the Venlo Incident, which lead to the capture of two British agents, major Best and captain Stefens. In 1940 he was charged to compile a list of 2300 prominent Britons that would have been arrested after a successful conquest of Britain. He also arranged many other plots of subterfuge and intelligence gathering, including bugging a Berlin brothel.

Also in 1940 he was sent to Portugal to capture the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and try to persuade them to work for Germany. The mission was a failure; Schellenberg managed only to delay their baggage for a few hours.

Schellenberg served as major general (Brigadeführer) in the Waffen-SS and held a high post in political secret service. He also led the hunt of the Soviet spy ring Red Orchestra. According to his memoirs, he was a friend of Wilhelm Canaris, whom he replaced in 1944, when he became head of Combined Secret Services, with the Abwehr being disbanded.

At the end of the war Schellenberg persuaded Himmler to contact Western Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte and went personally to Stockholm in April 1945 to arrange their meeting. He was in Denmark attempting to arrange a surrender when Allied troops arrested him in June 1945.

In the Nuremberg Trials, Schellenberg testified against other nazis and in 1949 was sentenced to only six years imprisonment in the Ministries Trial. In prison he wrote his memoirs, The Labyrinth. He was released in 1951 due to worsening liver condition and moved to Switzerland, and then to Pallanza, Italy.

Schellenberg saw himself as one of the great spymasters of the era and failed to notice that, for instance, most German spies in England had been detected and killed or turned to work for the English security services.

Walther Schellenberg died of cancer in Turin, Italy.


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