Hans von Herwarth
Hans Heinrich Herwarth von Bittenfeld (Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 July 14, 1904 - Küps
Küps is a municipality in the district of Kronach in Bavaria in Germany....

 August 21, 1999), also known as Johnnie or Johann von Herwarth, was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 who provided the Allies with information prior to and during the Second World War.


Herwarth graduated from high school in Berlin. He studied law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

 in Berlin, Breslau and Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...


1927 he entered the German Foreign Office (Auswaertiges Amt) and was first stationed in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He was stationed in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 1931–1939, where he met George F. Kennan
George F. Kennan
George Frost Kennan was an American adviser, diplomat, political scientist and historian, best known as "the father of containment" and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War...

, Charles W. Thayer
Charles W. Thayer
Charles W. Thayer was an American diplomat and author. He was an expert on Soviet-American relations and headed the Voice of America.-Early years:...

 and Charles E. Bohlen
Charles E. Bohlen
Charles Eustis “Chip” Bohlen was a United States diplomat from 1929 to 1969 and Soviet expert, serving in Moscow before and during World War II, succeeding George F. Kennan as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union , then ambassador to the Philippines , and to France...

. Fitzroy Maclean, then a young diplomat in the British Embassy, states in his memoir Eastern Approaches
Eastern Approaches
Eastern Approaches is an autobiographical account of the early career of Fitzroy Maclean. It is divided into three parts: his life as a junior diplomat in Moscow and his travels in the Soviet Union, especially the forbidden zones of Central Asia; his exploits in the British Army and SAS in the...

that von Herwarth condemned the appeasement
The term appeasement is commonly understood to refer to a diplomatic policy aimed at avoiding war by making concessions to another power. Historian Paul Kennedy defines it as "the policy of settling international quarrels by admitting and satisfying grievances through rational negotiation and...

 of the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

, predicted a Soviet-German commitment to non-aggression (which came to pass as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact), and saw ahead to what he called "the destruction of Germany".

After 1939, he worked at the German Army Headquarters (OKW), in the Abwehr department.

From 1945 onward, von Herwarth worked for the new German government, first in Munich, then in Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

. In 1955, he became the first postwar German ambassador in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. In 1961, he was head of Bundespräsidialamt (the office of the Federal President
President of Germany
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany is the country's head of state. His official title in German is Bundespräsident . Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial...

); later he became ambassador to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. From 1971-1977 he was president of the Goethe-Institut
The Goethe-Institut is a non-profit German cultural institution operational worldwide, promoting the study of the German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange and relations. The Goethe-Institut also fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on German...

responsible for cultural relations.

Von Herwarth, who by marriage was a cousin of Claus von Stauffenberg, belonged to the aristocratic opposition against the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 regime. Maclean, who thought of him as an old friend, assessed him as "a patriotic German ... strongly and genuinely anti-Nazi".

Herwarth and his contacts

In his memoir
A memoir , is a literary genre, forming a subclass of autobiography – although the terms 'memoir' and 'autobiography' are almost interchangeable. Memoir is autobiographical writing, but not all autobiographical writing follows the criteria for memoir set out below...

s (Witness to History, 1973), former U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 ambassador to Germany Charles E. Bohlen
Charles E. Bohlen
Charles Eustis “Chip” Bohlen was a United States diplomat from 1929 to 1969 and Soviet expert, serving in Moscow before and during World War II, succeeding George F. Kennan as United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union , then ambassador to the Philippines , and to France...

 reveals how he on the morning of August 24, 1939, he visited von Herwarth at the German embassy and received the full content of the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

, signed the day before. The secret protocol contained an understanding between Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 on how to split Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, the Baltic region
Baltic region
The terms Baltic region, Baltic Rim countries, and Baltic Rim refer to slightly different combinations of countries in the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea.- Etymology :...

, and Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 between the two powers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 was urgently informed, but the United States did not pass this information to any concerned governments in Europe. A week later the plan was realized with the German invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

, and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


According to the website of the German embassy in London, von Herwarth and his superior, Ambassador von der Schulenburg
Schulenburg (surname)
Schulenburg is a German surname that may refer to:*Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, Mercenary, aristocrat, and Rococo art collector*Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal and Munster...

, had already been trying since before the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 to persuade Britain, France and the United States not to give in to Hitler's territorial demands.

Hans von Herwarth was the chief contact from the German embassy in Moscow to the western powers. Through him, the British were continuously informed on the progress of Soviet-German contacts during 1939. Von Herwarth is also held to be one of the German officials who informed the Allies on the decision to launch Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in 1941, and to have given some of the earliest accounts of atrocities against Jews and other civilians behind the Eastern Front and in the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. It's not known how much his Soviet counterparts were informed.

In June 1989, Hans von Herwarth met the Latvian historian and member of the Soviet parliament, Mavriks Vulfsons, during the latter's visit to West Germany. Vulfsons was the first person in the USSR to publicly confirm the authenticity of the secret protocols to the German-Soviet pact of 1939 dividing Eastern Europe into "spheres of influence", a copy of which he obtained in the archives of the German Foreign Office.
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