Federal Foreign Office receives documents from Fritz Kolbe’s estate
Karin Kolbe and Hans Carl von Werthern
The Political Archive has received many historical documents from the estate of Fritz Kolbe, who actively resisted the Nazi regime while a member of the foreign service by giving important information to the western Allies. The documents give insights into the motives behind his resistance activities.
“Fritz Kolbe saw the evil around him and he took action,” said Karin Kolbe, Fritz Kolbe’s granddaughter. She travelled to Berlin from her home in Australia to present the documents from the estate of her grandfather to the Political Archive on 15 May. Hans Carl von Werthern, the Director-General for Management of the Federal Foreign Office, thanked the Kolbe family for their generous donation of the documents. “We are very proud to have had Fritz Kolbe at the Foreign Office,” he said.
Fritz Kolbe (1900-1971) was a member of the foreign service from 1925 to 1945. During the Nazi era, he sought contact to American intelligence services in Switzerland and, beginning in 1943, provided them with important, sometimes secret documents. During the war, Kolbe thus became one of the most important intelligence sources for the western Allies. In the 1950s, he was not reemployed in the foreign service. Since 2004 an event hall at the Federal Foreign Office has been named after him.
Historical documents provide insights
Letters from Fritz Kolbe’s estate
The documents that have now been received cover the period from 1920 to 1960 and fill two archive boxes. There are identification papers, letters and notebooks – some of them densely written in the old German Sütterlin script or even shorthand. The Political Archive has entered all the documents into a finding aid – a kind of index. Among the documents can be found, for example, Kolbe’s ministerial passport, with which he undertook his many trips to Switzerland to meet his contact person to the American intelligence service.
French journalist Lucas Delattre established the contact between the Federal Foreign Office and Fritz Kolbe’s descendents, who live in Australia. It was through Delattre’s 2004 biography of Kolbe that his activities became known to a wider public.
The private archive of written material and audio recordings can be consulted at the Political Archive by appointment.
Last updated 15.05.2012