Papen, Franz von

Papen, Franz von

Papen, Franz von, 1879-1969, German politician. Appointed (1913) military attaché to the German embassy in Washington, he was implicated in espionage activities that led (1915) the U.S. government to request his recall. He subsequently served in Turkey during World War I and, after the war, entered politics. He was (1921-32) a member of the Catholic Center party in the Prussian parliament. Although a political unknown, he was chosen (June, 1932) by President Paul von Hindenburg to succeed Heinrich Brüning as German chancellor in the hope that he could obtain support from right and center. He was, however, expelled from his party for accepting this post, and his cabinet won support only from a minority on the right. In seeking to weaken the left, he contributed to the rise of the National Socialists (Nazis), chiefly by lifting (June) the ban on their militia. In July he suspended the Prussian government and ousted its Socialist premier. Two successive elections failed to bring Papen substantial support in the Reichstag, and when he submitted his formal resignation after the elections of Nov., 1932, it was accepted. Kurt von Schleicher succeeded him as chancellor, but Papen remained a close confidant of Hindenburg and sought to return to power through an alliance with the Nazis. He succeeded in bringing Adolf Hitler to power and was appointed vice chancellor in the new cabinet. Although Hitler soon eliminated his conservative allies from the cabinet, Papen continued to serve the Hitler regime, even after several of his close associates were murdered in the "blood purge" of June, 1934. As German minister to Vienna, he helped to prepare the German annexation of Austria (1938). From 1939 to 1944 he was ambassador to Turkey. Papen was acquitted (1946) by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal. A sentence to eight years' hard labor imposed (1947) by a German "denazification" court was rescinded in 1949. His memoirs appeared in 1952 (tr. 1953).

Franz von Rintelen (died 1949) was a German spy working in the United States during World War I.

He came from a banking family with good connections in American banking. He spoke fluent English.

He was sent to the United States in 1915, while the U.S. was still technically neutral. His mission was to sabotage American ships carrying munitions and supplies to the Allies. Arriving in New York City, he posed as a businessman and, with Heinrich Albert, set up a dummy corporation called Bridgeport Projectile, through which he purchased gunpowder, which he then destroyed.

He worked with a technician to develop time-delayed incendiary devices known as pencil bombs, which were then placed in the holds of American merchant ships to cause fires in the ships' holds so that the crew would throw the munitions overboard.

He also organized the Labor's National Peace Council to foster strikes to slow American aid to the Allies.

His work was largely successful and probably included some part in the Black Tom explosion in 1916. His colleagues were not all pleased with his success, and Franz von Papen (later Chancellor of Germany) sent a telegram to Berlin complaining about him. The telegram was intercepted and deciphered by British Naval Intelligence. As he sailed back to Germany on a neutral Dutch ship, he was captured at Southampton, England and interned in Atlanta, Georgia for three years.

He returned to Germany in 1920, a forgotten man. He moved to England, where he died.

Von Rintelen wrote The Dark Invader: War-Time Reminiscences Of A German Naval Intelligence Officer which was published in 1933.

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