A major espionage ring led by a naturalized American citizen from Russia is broken up by the FBI during World War II.
As a result of investigative activities of the FBI, Anastase A. Vonsiatsky, Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, Dr. Otto Willumeit, Dr. Wolfgang Ebell, and Reverend Kurt E. B. Molzahn were indicted on June 10, 1942, by a federal grand jury at Hartford, Connecticut for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act.
On August 25, 1942, the last member of the group was sentenced in federal court, thus bringing an end to the third major espionage ring broken by the FBI since the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
Anastase A. Vonsiatsky, a naturalized American citizen residing in Connecticut and former leader of the Russian Revolutionary Party, had in the past made certain contacts and had associated with certain leaders of the German-American Bund, including Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze. In the summer of 1941, he gave Kunze $2,800 in cash. Of this amount $800 was to defray the expenses of Kunze in departing from the United States, with the ultimate destination of Germany. The remaining $2,000 was to cover the bail bond then outstanding for his appearance in a local prosecution in New Jersey, involving a violation of certain racial statutes, which were subsequently declared unconstitutional.
Vonsiatsky also made a trip to San Francisco, California in the summer of 1941, allegedly to contact a Madam Takita, an alleged Japanese agent, who was to arrive on the Tatuta Maru. The ship did not dock at San Francisco during Vonsiatsky’s stay at that point, due to the tension then existing between the United States and Japan.
On his return from the West Coast, Vonsiatsky stopped over in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended a conference at the Bismarck Hotel, at which Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, Dr. Otto Willumeit, a Ukrainian priest, and he were present. At this conference Kunze’s departure from the United States was allegedly discussed and $50 in cash was reportedly given to the priest for the purpose of securing a fictitious passport for Kunze. The Ukrainian priest alleged that the transmittal of vital military information to Germany by Kunze was also discussed at the meeting. The priest requested of Kunze the name of a contact whom he might have in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since he intended to proceed to that point, and Kunze allegedly supplied the name of Reverend E. B. Molzahn. Subsequent to the above conference, Kunze addressed communications to the priest, bearing the return address of Reverend Molzahn.
On November 9, 1941, Kunze crossed the border from the United States to Mexico at El Paso, Texas, having previously contacted Dr. Wolfgang Ebell, who possessed numerous German contacts in that area and accompanied Kunze as far as Chihuahua, Mexico. He proceeded from Chihuahua to Mexico City where he contacted the German Embassy in an attempt to effect his travel to Germany, and these negotiations were still being carried on by Kunze when war was declared between the United States and Germany.
Subsequent to that time the German Embassy advised Kunze that it could do nothing for him as it was important not to incur the disfavor of the Mexican government. Kunze was arrested by Mexican authorities on June 30, 1942, almost in the act of leaving the country for Germany in a small boat he had purchased. Kunze, at the time he was arrested, was using an assumed name and possessed a birth certificate in this name which he had secured from a Mexican official.
Dr. Otto Willumeit, mentioned hereinbefore, was the former Chicago Unit Leader of the German-American Bund. His part in the conspiracy is based upon his attendance at the conference held in the Bismarck Hotel and his prior knowledge of the departure of Kunze from the United States, along with an admission that he was aware that Kunze had an intimate knowledge of military establishments in the western section of the country.
Dr. Wolfgang Ebell’s part in instant conspiracy involved the allegation and subsequent evidence that Dr Ebell acted as a go-between and contact man for Kunze and individuals allegedly in Mexico, as well as acting as a letter drop and medium of communication between Kunze and Vonsiatsky, after Kunze’s departure from the United States.
Reverend Molzahn’s participation in this conspiracy was based upon his relationship with Kunze and the fact that his residence was used as a mail drop. His brother-in-law, Dr. G. Gerhrensmann, Polizei Praesidium, Altoona, Germany, was reportedly the Gestapo chief of that city as well as the Province Schleswig-Holstein.
At no time during the investigation or trial of the above-mentioned persons did there appear any established European contacts indicating the actual transmittal of espionage material abroad. Vonsiatsky explained after his arrest that it was his desire for Kunze, upon his arrival in Germany, to represent him in a favorable light so that when Germany established its own puppet setup in Russia, Vonsiatsky would have an opportunity of being a part of this structure.
Background on Anastase Vonsiatsky
The long and checkered career of Count Anastase Andreievitch Vonsiatsky, self-styled Fuehrer of American Fascists residing at Thompson, Connecticut, came to an abrupt halt on June 22, 1942, when after a plea of guilty to the charges of espionage he was sentenced to serve a term of five years in a federal penitentiary and was assessed a fine of $5,000.
Vonsiatsky, a White Russian variously known as “V-V” and “Count Annie,” for many years headed the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists, which organization he founded in 1933, and carried on propaganda activities against the present Russian government through a publication known as “The Fascist” and other means.
As a matter of background it might be noted that, generally speaking, White Russia is the district north of the Ukraine and, before the current war it bordered Poland. The district has a small population and for years it was a bone of contention between Poland and Russia. In 1812, Napoleon crossed White Russia and recrossed it on his march to and from Moscow. The district was also close to the war zone in 1914 and shared in the disasters of the 1916 Russian retreat.
Though a White Russian, Anastase Andreievitch Vonsiatsky was born in Warsaw, then Russia, on June 12, 1898, the son of Andre Nicholas Vonsiatsky and Inna Anastase Plyshevsky Vonsiatsky. Vonsiatsky’s father was a Colonel in the Russian Gendarmerie and was a nobleman of the Province of Vitebsk, in White Russia.
Vonsiatsky’s ancestors on his paternal side were very close to the Czarists by reason of their military services and consequently one of the great-great-grandparents was granted a titled estate by one of the Czars. The paternal name of Vonsiatsky’s family was Vonsiatskey-Vonsiatsky but for purpose of brevity, the name was shortened to its present form. Colonel Andre Vonsiatsky was assassinated on June 16, 1910, at the Gendarmerie Headquarters at Radom, Russia, by one of his own informants in the Polish Terrorist group. At the time of his death, Vonsiatsky’s father was preparing to go to St. Petersburg to accept an appointment as head of the Gendarmerie in Kiev, Russia. Vonsiatsky’s father was a graduate of an officers’ course and after receiving a commission, spent the remainder of his life serving the Czarist regime.
Vonsiatsky’s mother died of a heart attack in Moscow in October 1916. An older brother died in the same city of unknown causes in 1922, while a sister reportedly died in Russia as a suicide in 1916, because of disappointment in a love affair. Another sister escaped from Russia to Shanghai and arrived in the United States in 1922. Still another sister reportedly remained in Russia and her whereabouts has been unknown since 1936.
Anastase Andreievitch Vonsiatsky followed in the footsteps of his father and attended military preparatory schools in Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and Moscow from 1908 and 1916, entering the Emperor Nicholas Academy in St. Petersburg in the latter year. This Academy has been reported to be comparable with West Point in the United States. During the Second Revolution in November 1917, Vonsiatsky and others left the military school and went to Rostov where they joined in the battle against the Reds. Vonsiatsky himself obtained the rank of Lieutenant and fought with the White Russians until March 1920. During his period of service he received a bullet wound in the left arm and back and also another wound in the stomach. In addition, he was at one time severely ill from typhoid fever and suffered with frozen feet. Leaving the Crimea in March 1920, Vonsiatsky proceeded to Constantinople where he received treatment in a British hospital. He remained in Constantinople until April 1920, and then went to Paris and in May, arrived in London where he remained for three months as the guest of the wealthy Prince Yuossopoff. In September, 1920, the young Vonsiatsky returned to Paris and during the following month journeyed to Constantinople where he came in contact with many White Russians.
It might be noted that Vonsiatsky’s revolutionary activities have been the subject of numerous magazine and newspaper stories. It has been stated that he undoubtedly participated in numerous tortures and killings during the Russian Civil War and it had been alleged that failure to disclose his activities in this regard constituted sufficient ground to cancel Vonsiatsky’s American citizenship which he received in 1927. Such action, however, was never taken. Some newspaper articles have been published in which Vonsiatsky allegedly admitted the killings but stated “the murders referred to were justified; a civil war was raging and we were defending our country.” During 1939, one newspaper carried a story in which he allegedly stated that he would commit the killings again if he had the opportunity.
Upon Vonsiatsky’s arrival in Constantinople in October 1920, as previously mentioned, he noted that the White Russians were in complete rout and were fleeing for their very lives from Russia. According to Vonsiatsky, he thereupon decided to quit the White Russian fight and thereafter went to Marseilles, France. Within a short time he went to Paris, France, remaining there until June, 1921, when he came to the United States.
Many stories have been told of Vonsiatsky’s activities in Paris and how he happened to meet a wealthy American divorcee, 20 years his senior, in that city. One story reflects that Vonsiatsky fainted one day in Paris in the midst of a boulevard throng and was discovered by his future wife when taken to a hospital. According to various reports, Vonsiatsky married a young Russian in 1920, at Yalta, Russia, before coming to Paris. A new angle concerning his sentimental career began in Paris when he allegedly was befriended by a famous French actress. Vonsiatsky is said to have had a handful of Russian rubles when he first met her and to have asked the actress to buy them. The actress is said to have given young Vonsiatsky a hearty meal and to have obtained for him a job as a scene shifter in a theater where he worked for ten francs a day. Vonsiatsky supposedly furnished the actress very little information about his past and she provided him with funds to bring his family to Paris, not knowing that he was actually married to the young Russian girl. His wife came to Paris with her parents and shortly thereafter the romance of the young White Russian and the actress came to an abrupt halt when she received the following letter from him:
“My trouble is that I am unable to express the feeling of gratitude and respect for you which my heart contains in your own language. You, not only by your generosity and goodness, but by certain personal qualifications, have attracted to you quite a strange man. Your sisterly kindness has touched the best sentiments of my heart.
“But I am an utter stranger to you. You have never known me before and you have only seen me in this horrible miserable plight in which I have been. How much do I feel humiliated in your eyes, this, too, when you have received me in your home and have warmed my heart with your caresses. You are good; you are a saint. In you I realize that there are still good people on this earth and that charity and friendship still exist.
“You will remain as the cherished souvenir of my life.
“I kiss your hand. Your devoted,
According to some to the numerous stories which have been told about Vonsiatsky, his passage to the United States in the summer of 1921 was provided by the rich American woman who was later to become his wife. Vonsiatsky himself, however, has claimed that he was able to save enough money working in Paris to pay for his trip to the United States. Immediately upon his arrival in New York City on board the French liner SS Ile de France, Vonsiatsky contacted a banker whom he had previously met in Paris and this individual assisted him in obtaining a position in a locomotive concern where he was employed from 1921 to 1924. Vonsiatsky has stated that he contemplated returning to Russia to sell locomotives there. During the first six months of his employment, he worked in the chemical laboratory and later was employed in the foundry, cylinder shop and the assembly sections, where he was working when he terminated his employment. It has been reported that Vonsiatsky usually went to work in a big limousine and that his fellow employees referred to him as “Count Annie.”
On February 3, 1922, Vonsiatsky was married in Pennsylvania to the rich American woman he met in Paris. Shortly after this marriage one Lioubou Gourevich appeared in New York and filed a claim in the courts asserting she had been married to Vonsiatsky in Russia. According to some to the stories which have been told about the White Russian, he admitted having married the girl in Yalta, Russia, on January 31, 1920, but pointed out he entered into the marriage merely to save her from impending riots and possible death. She allegedly was the 17-year-old daughter of a wealthy Russian capitalist refugee who was a Jew but became a Christian before the girl’s birth. According to one source, the girl’s father reverted to his Jewish faith during the Russian Revolution, thereby making his daughter’s marriage in the Russian Church illegal. At any rate Vonsiatsky’s claim that it was a fake marriage was upheld and the girl was unsuccessful in her efforts in the New York courts. Previous to his marriage to the American heiress, Vonsiatsky is said to have secured an annulment of his former marriage. In denying the claim of the Russian girl, the New York Judge was quoted as saying, “Letters of plaintiff to defendant and to his present wife apparently constitute a bar to the prosecution of this action, and are wholly unexplained in the plaintiff’s moving papers.” The girl allegedly stated in one of her letters to Vonsiatsky, “I consider you not as a husband, but merely as a friend.”
Vonsiatsky became a naturalized citizen on September 30, 1927, in the Superior Court of Windham County, Putnam, Connecticut. In March, 1930, he was appointed a First Lieutenant in the Army Reserve and his commission expired in 1935.
When Count Vonsiatsky first came to the United States he apparently had not thought of playing a political role in Europe. He was of the opinion, however, that Communism could not long survive in Russia and some eight or nine years after his arrival he began to have hopes of being able to participate in the political life of Russia. He was a great admirer of General Koutepoff, a White Russian General active in Paris about 1928 in the fight against Communism, and donated 5,000 to 10,000 francs to assist him in his cause. After Koutepoff’s kidnapping, however, Vonsiatsky furnished no further aid to independent groups operating in France.
The first political organization Vonsiatsky joined in the United States was known as the Brotherhood of Russian Truth which was founded by three men about the year 1923. This party had as its goal the overthrow of the Communist regime in Russia so that the Russian people could set up a type of government of their own choosing. Members of the party attempted to accomplish its goal by preparing propaganda to be distributed among the Russians. The propaganda was usually in pamphlet form and was smuggled into Russia by workmen who placed the pamphlets in boats sailing for Russian ports. In some instances, too, the leaflets were distributed in fish markets in countries bordering on Russia, the thought being that the storekeepers would use the leaflets to wrap dried fish so that they would come into the possession of the purchasers of the fish.
The purposes and aims of the Brotherhood of Russian Truth appealed to Vonsiatsky and about 1927 or 1928, he entered the party and headed the American branch. There were chapters of the organization in Yugoslavia, Germany, France, and in fact, practically all over the world. Count Vonsiatsky was active in the organization until about 1932, when he realized that a movement was on foot to have the party fall into the hands of the Communists. After having a fight with one of the leaders he broke off his relationship with the organization in 1932. The Brotherhood of Russian Truth did not evolve any particular plan of action either inside or outside of Russia but merely urged the Russian people to prepare for the day when they would be able to overthrow the Communist regime. After leaving the Brotherhood of Russian Truth in 1932, Vonsiatsky decided to form a political party of his own to carry out his own ideas and aims in attempting to overthrow the Soviet government and establish a free government for the Russian people. He and one Donat Kunle, a former officer of the White Russian Army who had come to the United States about the same time as Vonsiatsky, founded the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists, frequently referred to as the All Russian National Revolutionary Party, for the purpose of grouping together White Russians all over the world who would be willing to go to any length to assist the Russian people in overthrowing the Communist regime and setting up a government of their own choosing. Vonsiatsky’s organization was organized in May 1933, and had its headquarters, called The Center, at the Vonsiatsky palatial estate near Thompson, Connecticut.
Vonsiatsky himself took the title Vogd (Leader) and Kunle was the secretary. The organization also had an executive committee of fourteen or fifteen members and the president, assistant president, and general secretary constituted what was known as the Presidium. Kunle was a flyer by occupation and before becoming associated with Vonsiatsky was employed by a large aviation concern. He was killed in an airplane crash in June 1941, and his body was returned to Thompson, Connecticut, where it was given burial by Vonsiatsky.
The application for membership in the Vonsiatsky organization was written in the Russian language and contained in the upper left hand corner the slogan, “God, Nation and Toil.” The membership book was in questionnaire form and the applicant signed the following statement:
“I hereby appeal for the inclusion of myself in the number of its members. Upon entering the Party, I obligate myself to fulfill all orders of its higher organs and observe the necessary conspiracy.”
The membership blank contained space for the name, nationality, citizenship, faith, date and place of birth, educational qualifications, speciality, extent of family, foreign languages known thoroughly, and the exact address of the applicant. The application was decorated with a reproduction of the emblem of the organization which consisted of a red banner bearing a white swastika on a blue field, the banner being on a staff topped by the Russian double eagle.
In a speech delivered July 4, 1937, to what was described as the Annual Meeting of Executives of the New England and New York Districts of the Russian National Revolutionary Fascist Party, Vonsiatsky made the following statements among others:
“All over the globe is resounding our appeal to organize and to fight the powers of Stalin. There does not exist any little corner in the world our ‘Fascist’ has not been read. It has fallen to my share to be a leader of the Russian National Revolutionary Movement. It has fallen to my share to tell the people of Russia about our life and struggle; to state in black and white the actual accomplishments of our many years of anti-Communistic work . . . “
“Our Russian National Revolutionary Party is a school of Fascist education. In our organization the Party workers begin to learn the duty of active work and struggle . The Party through its executive office helps to show the Party workers the way of this struggle . . .”
“I appeal to all Russian patriots to help actively in preparing for war the Russian National Revolutionary Party. Enlarge, Comrades, your activities in propaganda work; try to enlist in our ranks still more Party workers.”
As a further illustration of Vonsiatsky’s activities, consideration might be given to the January, 1937, issue of “The Fascist,” which contained a picture of a vast assemblage of German soldiers. The title over the picture was “The Army of the Holy Swastika.” The following quotation from Vonsiatsky appeared under the illustration:
“With the existence of Germany and Adolph Hitler, as a fortified base, and directing center for all anti-Communist movements, the beginning of a war by the U.S. S. R. with Germany can change with lightening-like rapidity into the end of International Communism and the victory of the Russian National Revolution.”
The June-July 1940, issue of “The Fascist” contained the following statement by Vonsiatsky concerning his Party:
“The Russian National Revolutionary Party, of which I am the leader, does not support either Germany’s or Japan’s ambition for hegemony in Europe or the Far East.
“The Germans and the Japanese have never made clear their attitude toward a replacement of the present Stalinist rule by a Russian National Government.
“The sole aim of our organization is to return Russia to a free people with a government elected by the people, of the people and for the people.
“Our intention is to form in Russia a truly DEMOCRATIC government.
“Our Party is not anti-Semitic.
“Our Party has no membership dues; it is financed solely by voluntary contributions from its members and sympathizers. It is not subsidized by any FOREIGN POWER or foreign individuals.
“Our organization is BANNED in Germany and Japan.
“Only in the United States can we enjoy freedom of action and thought within the laws of the country.
“I HEREWITH STATE EMPHATICALLY THAT THE ACTIVITIES OF OUR ORGANIZATION ARE AGAINST THE PRESENT SOVIET GOVERNMENT ALONE AND THAT IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER DOES IT ACT AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OR VIOLATE ITS LAWS WHICH WE LOYALLY SUPPORT.
ANASTASE A. VONSIATSKY
July 4, 1940”
At the time Vonsiatsky founded his Party there was already in existence a White Russian organization known as the Russian Fascist Union with headquarters in Harbin, Manchuria. Vonsiatsky took a world cruise in 1934, and while in Manchuria he attempted to effect a consolidation of his Party with the Harbin group of the Russian Fascist Union. Although Vonsiatsky reportedly was given a splendid reception by the numerous White Russians of the other group upon his arrival in Harbin, his attempts at consolidation were unsuccessful because of the actions of the former head of the Russian Cossacks. The latter individual had hopes of becoming the head of any Russian government formed in the event of the downfall of the Soviets and apparently did not look with favor upon the movement headed by Vonsiatsky. Apparently the former Cossack leader contacted various Japanese officials and made arrangements to have the Japanese warn the White Russians residing in Manchuria to have nothing to do with Vonsiatsky’s group.
In view of his failure to consolidate the groups, Vonsiatsky decided that Shanghai, China, would be the next best place to organize a branch of his organization. The fact that a White Russian newspaper called “Russkie Avangard” was printed by one Constantine Stekloff in Shanghai was of material assistance to Vonsiatsky in the formation of a branch of his Party. Stekloff was very favorable toward Vonsiatsky’s organization and on numerous occasions published favorable articles. Vonsiatsky therefore contacted Stekloff and agreed to subsidize the latter’s paper to the extent of $600 per year if Stekloff would continue to print articles favorable to Vonsiatsky’s cause. Stekloff agreed to this proposition, became a member of the Party, and assisted in building a strong unit in Shanghai. Vonsiatsky continued to subsidize Stekloff’s paper until 1941, at which time, due to the conditions in the United States, Vonsiatsky decided to turn over the leadership of the Party to him.
According to Vonsiatsky, branches of his organization were at one time located in Sofia, Bulgaria; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Yugoslavia; Cairo, Egypt; and in several American cities.
The only requirement for membership in the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists was an interest exhibited on the part of an individual to join the organization and to help in promoting its purpose. The purpose of the Party, which as previously stated, was to help the Russians in overthrowing Communism and establishing a government desired by the Russian people, was to be effected by inciting the Russian people to overthrow their government. Propaganda to be distributed among the Russian people themselves constituted the chief means of carrying out the purpose. Vonsiatsky’s organization was believed to contain approximately 1,400 members at one time. There were no dues and no initiation fees and the only money received by the group was in the form of contributions and subscriptions to the Party paper, “The Fascist.” Most of the copies of the paper were sold out of the United States, approximately 500 copies of each issue being sent to White Russians in foreign countries and about 150 to 250 being distributed in the United States. The average distribution was approximately 750 copies each issue, but on one particular occasion approximately 10,000 copies were printed.
Vonsiatsky made trips around the world in 1934, 1936, and 1939. The pattern of these world cruises was practically the same in each instance. He embarked in San Francisco and during the course of his journeys he visited Honolulu, Kobe, Shanghai, Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang, Bombay, Port Said, Suez, Alexandria, and Naples and then went by train to Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and also to Berlin and Paris. In each instance he returned to the United States through New York City. In addition to the world cruises, Vonsiatsky made a trip to Paris and Berlin with his wife. During these various trips Vonsiatsky contacted members of his Party in the various cities visited. He traveled so as to strengthen his Party and the entire White Russian movement in its work against the Communist regime. He was the subject of much controversy and suspicion on the part of foreign governments and never hesitated to give interviews to newspaper reporters concerning the purpose of his Party and the hopes he had for final success. In Japan and Germany particularly Vonsiatsky attempted to develop friends in the governments of those countries so that they would look with favor upon the activities of his Party members.
In connection with Vonsiatsky’s world cruises, it might be noted that he ordered a specially constructed club traveling bag of light tan cowhide and about eighteen inches long, which had a secret compartment in its bottom. The secret section could be opened by pressing one or two brass buffers on the bottom of the bag. Vonsiatsky allegedly stated when ordering the bag that he contemplated considerable traveling in foreign countries and desired to carry some personal papers and wanted to obviate the necessity of what he termed “unreasonable searches” when he crossed international frontiers.
During one of his early world cruises Vonsiatsky met one Hirohita Nakamura and his wife and daughter. He became very friendly with this Japanese and sought assistance from him in the promotion of Party activities. Shortly after meeting Nakamura, Vonsiatsky sent through him a sword as a gift to General Araki, one of the highest officials in the Japanese Army. Following is the letter used in transmitting the sword:
I ask you as a sincere friend of National Russia not to refuse to accept from me a small present, a sword of an era when with the united force of Austria and Russia the Hungarian revolt of 1849 was crushed, a revolt which threatened the Austrian empire.
My present will be given to you by Mr. H. Nakamura — a great Nipponese patriot possessing a Russian spirit.
/s/ Glory to Japan, Glory to Russia,
On occasions Vonsiatsky was host to the Nakamuras at football games in New England and also on short visits to his estate at Thompson, Connecticut.
During the FBI’s investigation of Vonsiatsky’s activities, evidence was obtained that he had had some dealings with William Dudley Pelley’s organization. In fact, upon one occasion Vonsiatsky sent several copies of his publication, “The Fascist,” to Pelley’s organization in Asheville, North Carolina. On one occasion at least, Vonsiatsky ordered a hundred copies of Pelley’s publication. During 1936, a representative of the Pelley Publishers wrote Vonsiatsky stating, “Your work for the Cause we are mutually serving, publishing your Russian Fascist, has just come to our attention. From reports given us it seems you are fighting a rather lone battle, and a little camaraderie is not amiss.” The letter further stated that Pelley’s organization had been in battle “militantly” for over four years and was “determined to block Judah in government and the Jewish bankers by the coming national election.”
Vonsiatsky’s relationship with Fritz Kuhn, former head of the German-American Bund, illustrates his endeavors to promote goodwill with the German authorities. On July 16, 1939, Fritz Kuhn was arrested at Webster, Massachusetts, on a charge of intoxication and using profane language. At the same time several publications reflected that Vonsiatsky was with Kuhn when the latter was arrested. Vonsiatsky denied this, however, and during 1940 brought suit against several newspapers, charging that he had been libeled. The suits were later dropped, however. At any rate, Kuhn stated at the time of his arrest he had been visiting Vonsiatsky at the latter’s Thompson, Connecticut, estate. Several days after his arrest, Kuhn pleaded guilty to the charges of drunkenness and using profane language, being fined $5 on the first charge while the second was filed away. At the time of the hearing Kuhn was accompanied by Vonsiatsky, who furnished the necessary bail.
Vonsiatsky has admitted being on the mailing list of the German-American Bund at one time and receiving various circulars and pieces of literature from this organization. He was present and quite active at various Bund meetings, including a rally at Madison Square Garden and a celebration on the occasion of the opening of the German-American Bund camp at Yaphank, Long Island.
While evidently quite friendly with the German-American Bund, Vonsiatsky stated that he utilized the Bund so as to promote the activities of his own Party. He stated that shortly after his visit to Berlin in 1934, some of his Party members in Germany indicated they were called to Gestapo headquarters and asked whether they desired to finish their education in school or in concentration camps. The Gestapo allegedly advised the members of Vonsiatsky Party it would not be wise to have any connection with any White Russian group other than that which was fostered by the German government. Vonsiatsky explained that in view of this situation his Party members had to discontinue their activities in Germany and he utilized the German-American Bund to reestablish himself so that his Party could remain active in Germany. Feeling that eventually Germany would start fighting the Soviets, Vonsiatsky decided to be friendly with the Bund so that his Party members in Germany could say to the German officials that the heads of their organization and of the German-American Bund in the United States were very friendly. Once when Vonsiatsky’s picture was taken with Fritz Kuhn, he published the photograph in “The Fascist” and took great pains that this particular issue was distributed to the Party members in Germany.
Vonsiatsky admitted upon interview after his arrest sending Fritz Kuhn checks to assist in furnishing articles to German war prisoners interned in Canada. Vonsiatsky at first denied having furnished any money to the German-American Bund.
During the course of the FBI’s investigation, information was received indicating Vonsiatsky once had an audience of thirty-seven minutes with Adolph Hitler in Berlin and had dinner with field Marshal Goering. Vonsiatsky had pictures of Hitler on the walls of the stone building he used as an office and arsenal and reportedly had the highest regard for both Hitler and Mussolini and spoke of them with reverence. It might be noted in this connection that Vonsiatsky has denied meeting with Hitler and other high German officials.
During 1940, Vonsiatsky denied having any direct relations with the German government and stated he tried to avoid antagonizing that government. In this connection he used a Russian saying which in effect was, “Do not spit in the well as you may want to use it later.” He explained if the persons associated with him in the fight against Communism should be in a position to go into Russia in the future to fight, they would have to pass through Germany. In view of this fact, he considered it desirable that his relationship with the German governments should be a friendly one so that he and his followers could pass through that country.
Prior to the entry of the United States into the war during December 1941, Vonsiatsky allegedly made statements indicating he was of the opinion Germany would win in the conflict. On the day after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, he expressed the belief that the losses of American ships were actually much worse than indicated by the American government. On the day before war was declared on Japan, Vonsiatsky was heard to state, “Well, the United States was looking to get into this war and now they’re in it.”
In articles written about Vonsiatsky, he has been quoted as saying he did not believe Germany would attempt to invade England but would concentrate instead on sinking every ship to Great Britain. He attributed England’s remaining in the war to help from the United States but stated that such assistance would not be enough to enable England to win over Germany. Vonsiatsky was quoted in August, 1941, as stating, “My work is nearly done. My next issue of ‘The Fascist,’ of which I am editor, will come out when Germany has occupied Moscow. It will be the last issue which will be published over here. The next issue will be published in Moscow.”
In an interview with Vonsiatsky which appeared during the summer of 1941, he predicted the fall of Moscow within two weeks and stated he got rid of the leadership of his Party because of his other plans. He remarked that the new Russian government was taking place with the knowledge and sanction of Hitler and stated, “we Whites see in Hitler the realistic power about which we dreamed for the past twenty years.” Vonsiatsky allegedly stated he was a conspirator and expected to become the representative in the United States of the Russian National Government in Moscow.
Vonsiatsky’s nephew was killed in England in October 1941, while flying with the Eagle Squadron of the RAF and was buried on October 15, 1941, with full military honors in England. Vonsiatsky allegedly expressed sorrow at hearing of his nephew’s death and stated he was as sorry as he was to hear of the unnecessary deaths of other American youths in the war. He added that he regretted not having an opportunity to talk with his nephew before the latter enlisted inasmuch as he would have tried to influence the young man not to go.
Vonsiatsky was further quoted as follows:
“Fascisms are different. The German, Italian, and Russian Fascisms are different in many respects. The Russian Fascist Party is just a united movement of Russians against Communism, and Fascism is the only political society on the earth at the present time that can wipe out Communism. Force is the only thing that can knock it down.”
“Theoretically a democracy is the ideal form of government but when it comes to a fight, it is too weak in many ways to combat Communism.”
The following telegram which has appeared in the press was allegedly sent by Vonsiatsky to the Russian Embassy in the United States in the fall of 1941.
“Accept my heartfelt and profound congratulatory sentiments of the recent glorified victory and triumphant march of the heroic Soviet Red Army. It behooves me to ask your kindness to convey these very sentiments to Field Marshal Timoshenko, assuming of course that he has benevolently spared of the grim destiny of Tuhachevsky.
I graciously hasten to make articulate my horror-filled sympathy for the personal safety of my esteemed and beloved pal, Joseph Stalin, and strenuously urge your official position to make luxurious and speedy his inevitably desperate departure to more hospitable shores.
Provided his passage is crowned with gratification, I will personally exert every possible influence to secure a position consistent with his abilities, namely a nearby sewage disposal plant.
While your Ambassadorial dignity may not reconcile itself to the stench involved it is my sincere suggestion that you partake of the atmosphere attached thereto.
In the words of Shakespeare, I contribute the following sapuence: ‘welcome the coming and speed the parting guest.’
Tis written that lilac smells sweetly of sabotage in this beautiful season in Moscow. Please believe me in my sincerity along with a Boisterous Bronx for the most vigorous Red Army.
Anastase A. Vonsiatsky,
Leader of the Russian Fascists.”
Rumors circulating in 1940 indicated that Vonsiatsky was conducting a military camp in which he specialized in teaching youths Nazi principles and military science and tactics. It was alleged he had an arsenal of approximately ten thousand guns in the vicinity of Thompson, Connecticut. No verification was ever obtained concerning these rumors.
As a matter of fact, Vonsiatsky actually maintained some sixty rifles in a stone building on his premises which was used as his social and business quarters. These guns were of the old Russian type, and Vonsiatsky has indicated he was keeping them to give his office the atmosphere of the old Russian days. He also maintained a submachine gun, gas guns, and gas grenades which he allegedly purchased for self-defense since his anti-Communistic attitude made him many enemies who he though might try to harm him. It might be noted, however, that at the time of his involvement in this case Vonsiatsky had made most of his guns available for police and civilian defense use.
After moving to the Thompson, Connecticut, estate of his wife in the early 1920s, Vonsiatsky engaged in no gainful employment and realized only a small income from stock holdings. It appears that his wife, who inherited millions, supported him through the years and made available funds with which he could finance his Party activities. It has been reported that his wife was inclined to “mother” Vonsiatsky, and on one occasion she allegedly stated she would rather have him engaged in his Party activities than to be totally unemployed.
Vonsiatsky is a rather impressive looking individual from a physical standpoint, weighing approximately two hundred pounds and being six feet one inch in height. He is of dark complexion and wears his hair closely cropped. Football is one of his favorite hobbies, and it has been reported that he attended a large eastern university for one year in order to participate in this sport. In recent years he attended numerous football games in the New England States and frequently spent considerable time working on his estate doing such odd jobs as cutting branches from trees and burning leaves. It might be noted that Vonsiatsky always kept one large German police dog on his grounds at all times.
Some of Vonsiatsky’s reported activities in connection with his Party were rather amusing, to say the least. In 1937, it was rumored that he caught a dozen mud turtles and pointed the Russian swastika on their shells. He thereupon turned the turtles loose to carry the emblem throughout the peaceful woods. On another occasion, he reportedly sought to purchase a number of rubber balloons which were to be sent to Poland so that they could be used to float propaganda into Russia. On one occasion Vonsiatsky received a number of relics from Russia which he claimed belonged to his family. Some connected with the White Russian movement have doubted whether these were genuine Russian relics and have expressed the belief that Vonsiatsky was not a true Count and possibly falsely adopted this title.
As a further illustration of Vonsiatsky’s tendency to relive the days of the past, it might be noted that he remodeled a room at his residence so that it would resemble his room at the military school in Russia. The uniform which he wore as a cadet was placed in a glass showcase at one end of the room. The pictures decorating this particular room, as well as those throughout the rest of the building, were pictures of Russia in the days of the Czars.
A rather interesting sidelight on Vonsiatsky’s activities was his claim that he was trusted by no particular group. He discounted any affiliations with the Nazis and disclaimed any anti-Semitism despite his emblem consisting of a red banner bearing a white swastika on a blue field, the banner being on a staff topped by the Russian double eagle. Vonsiatsky has pointed out the Germans claimed his organization was financed by Jewish interest, while the latter contended the Party was supported in its activities and its policies dictated by the Nazis. Vonsiatsky also contended that the Japanese believed he was a spy for the American Army.
Though the files of the FBI contained no prior criminal record for Vonsiatsky, it has been reported that in 1923 he was arrested in Pennsylvania for parking his automobile on a business street. After explaining that he did not expect to be arrested and had no money, Vonsiatsky was loaned the amount of his fine by the police officer making the arrest.
On May 8 and 9, 1942, Vonsiatsky’s estate at Thompson, Connecticut was searched by special agents of the FBI under appropriate legal process and vast amounts of material were obtained. Among the articles seized were 17 file cabinets containing three drawers each of Russian correspondence between Vonsiatsky and various Russians from 1929 to date; a complete set of “The Fascist;” hundreds of documents relating to Vonsiatsky’s Party; numerous Victrola billies; 18 gas billy cartridges, 1 police billy, 2 gas guns, 57 rifles, two automatic pistols and a quantity of ammunition; 1 large silk banner with swastika emblem; 2 khaki military coats with swastika emblems on the left arm sleeve; and 1 box of swastika arm bands.
On June 6, 1942, a complaint was filed at Hartford, Connecticut, charging Vonsiatsky with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act. He was taken into custody on the same date at Providence, Rhode Island, and later removed to Connecticut. On June 10, 1942, the federal grand jury at Hartford, Connecticut, indicted Vonsiatsky and the four other persons previously named on charges of conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act.
On the date the indictment was returned, Vonsiatsky entered a plea of not guilty. After unsuccessful attempts had been made by his attorney to have him examined by a psychiatrist so that he could be committed to an institution, Vonsiatsky entered a plea of guilty to charges named in the indictment on June 22, 1942. After hearing the outline of the charges against Vonsiatsky, the federal judge at Hartford, Connecticut, sentenced him to serve five years in a federal penitentiary and assessed a fine of $5,000.
Background on Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze
The placid serenity of the little town of Boca Del Rio, bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, a short distance south of Vera Cruz, Mexico, was disturbed during the spring of 1942 by reports that German submarines were plying in the Gulf and preying upon American and Mexican shipping.
Early in June, a clean-shaven, German-appearing individual arrived at this fishing village and took a room in a quiet little hotel giving his name as Alfonso Graf Cabiedes. Upon questioning he stated that his mother was German and his father was Mexican; that he suffered from heart trouble and had gone to Boca Del Rio to enjoy the restfulness of the seaside. His story was accepted for a time but his actions soon merited the suspicions of the natives.
This man, Cabiedes, purchased a twenty-foot launch with a six-cylinder gasoline engine and began laying in supplies for a voyage out into the Gulf for the purpose, as he stated, of fishing and resting his heart. Those who had the opportunity to witness his preparations wondered, however, whether he was planning an innocent fishing trip. Certainly one man would not need 200 pounds of fish, meat, rice, flour, beans, fruits, coffee, condensed milk, and chocolate. Could this individual with a weak heart consume fifty packages of cigarettes? How long a fishing trip would it be, or could it be, that required 200 liters of gasoline and 450 liters of drinking water?
With invasion by the Axis powers becoming more and more a threat to Mexico and the Americas, and Axis submarines skirting their very doorstep, the people of Boca Del Rio were taking no chances with questionable strangers who might be numbered among the Fifth Column agents of the enemy across the waters. Alfonso Graf Cabiedes was apprehended by officers of the Ministry Gobernacion of Mexico and questioned concerning his identity and his intentions. Among his effects were found a camera, a compass, rulers, maps of the Antilles and colored drawings of maps of the Americas.
While in custody, the astounding news was received that this man was not an innocent convalescent, but was the former National Leader of the German-American Bund in the United States, who had illegally left that country in an effort to escape to Germany and was wanted as a fugitive by the FBI on the charge of conspiring with several other individuals to furnish vital information to the German and Japanese governments.
His real name was Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze.
Upon interrogation by the Mexican authorities he admitted that he had hoped to reach Germany via the Azores in his recently acquired launch. On the personal order of President Manuel Avila Camacho, of Mexico, Kunze was flown to Mexico City and there after the necessary arrangements had been completed he was taken by airplane across the border to Brownsville, Texas, where he was received by special agents of the FBI.
Kunze thereupon was taken to New York, arriving there on July 5, 1942, where he was arraigned on charges of violating the Selective Service Act and his bail fixed at $50,000.00. He was later flown to Hartford, Connecticut to face charges that he had conspired to violate the 1917 Espionage Act.
To fully appreciate the case of Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze it will be well to review his early life, his activities in connection with the German-American Bund and finally his connection with those who were indicted with him on espionage charges.
Kunze was born on January 10, 1906, at Camden, New Jersey, and was educated in the public schools of Camden and Philadelphia. On June 2, 1930, he married at Oberlungwitz, Saxony, Germany, and returned with his wife to this country two months thereafter. He has several relatives in the United States and Germany but the majority of his wife’s relatives were still residing in the province of Saxony, Germany. During his early days he made several trips to Germany, the last of which was in June 1938. On January 31, 1941, he sent his wife and his six-year old son to Saxony and they now reside with his wife’s parents.
Kunze was a restless character and was variously employed in the United States, Trinidad, and Mexico. He has worked as a salesman, truck driver, butler, and chauffeur, and as a steward on ocean-going vessels. Like his beloved paper-hanging Fuehrer most of his jobs before devoting himself to the cause of National Socialism were menial ones. In September 1933 he became interested in the organization known as the Friends of New Germany, the predecessor of the German-American Bund. From that time on he was continuously affiliated with this organization and later with the Bund.
In August 1937, he was appointed by Fritz Kuhn, then National Leader of the Fund, as National Public Relations Officer and from October, 1937, on he was employed on a full-time basis at the national headquarters of the Bund in New York City. In September 1939, Kuhn designated Kunze Deputy National Leader and from December of that year until September, 1940, he was acting National Leader in view of Kuhn’s conviction and imprisonment for embezzlement. At the National Convention of the Bund in 1940, he was elected National Leader and remained in that capacity until November 9, 1941, when he resigned.
While with Bund he received $45 a week as well as a drawing account of $300 a month. In his capacity as National Bund Leader he issued all commands. Each unit leader of the organization was required to discuss with or transmit each Bund command to the members of the unit so that they would be fully acquainted with all regulations in accordance with the “Leadership Principle.” Kunze was a domineering type of individual and like the Chancellor of the German Reich gloried in the military meetings of the Bund, the color of his uniformed organization and its other symbolisms.
A true picture of Kunze could not be obtained without following in some detail his activities while in the Bund. The FBI from the founding of the Friends of New Germany made a comprehensive survey and investigation of that organization and its successor, the Bund. As one of the key figures in the Bund, the FBI was particularly interested in the activities of Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze.
Kunze’s legal residence for the past several years has been at 6501 North Smedly, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the home of his father. He gave 211 East 87th Street, New York City, as his address when registering under the Selective Service Act. During the year of 1936, he was active as President of the Philadelphia branch of the Bund. In 1937, Kunze continued his work in Philadelphia and on July 18 of that year assisted in the dedication of Camp Nordland, Andover, New Jersey, the twenty-first German-American Bund Camp established in this country.
This year was highlighted also by his participation as one of the presiding officers at the Fifth Reich Congress of Foreign Germans held at Stuttgart, Germany, from August 28 to September 5, 1937. Dressed in the uniform of the Bund, he made one of the principal speeches of the assembly, praising the aims and achievements of the Third Reich and condemning the Jews and their influence in the United States. He later admitted that one of the purposes of this meeting was to bring together active and former members of the Bund. Upon his return from Stuttgart he was photographed by newspaper reporters being welcomed by Fritz Kuhn. At a meeting of the Bund in New York City on November 16, 1937, he was introduced to the assembled crowd as the National Propaganda Leader who had just returned from Germany.
The year of 1938 was a busy year for Kunze and he spoke at many meetings in New York, Chicago, Syracuse, New Haven, and Pittsburgh. The meeting in Syracuse on February 11, was interesting for it was protested by one hundred members of the American Legion who, as proven patriots of America, questioned his right to conduct a demonstration praising the aims and purposes of the Nazi government. Kunze is reported as parrying their inquisition with the curt answer, “It’s nobody’s business.”
The Deutscher Weckruf Beobachter was the official publicity organ of the German-American Bund, but Kunze frequently published messages to his cohorts in this paper. The September 29, 1938, issue carried a greeting from him which concluded with the words, “Hold firm! Make propaganda your cause! Get new friends and comrades! Don’t let anyone ever rob you of your German language and the pride in your German racialism!”
During 1939, when events in Europe were coming to a head and resentment in America was growing steadily against the aggressions of the Axis forces, Kunze redoubled his efforts on the part of the German-American Bund and gave speeches in many cities including Milwaukee, New York, Newark, and Chicago. In several instances he was particularly vindictive concerning the President and his policies. In a twenty-four page German booklet published in March of that year entitled “Zehn Jahra Deutshe Jugend in U.S.A.” (Ten Years German Youth in U.S.A.) he is quoted as saying,
“We have always known that our folkdom in America still has the right courage of life and only had to be shaken awake by the spirit of Adolf Hitler in order to be able to resist with German thoroughness and striking strength the undermining forces of the enemies of all free people!”
Kunze on April 20, 1939, spoke at a Hitler birthday celebration at Eblings Casino, New York, to a multitude of over one thousand persons. At the conclusion of the ceremonies a telegram of congratulations was approved and sent to Hitler.
The year 1940 witnessed a retrenchment program on the part of the German-American Bund. Fritz Kuhn had been forced to retire as National Leader following his conviction for embezzlement and there was a growing antipathy against the Bund upon the part of the American people. In the company of George Froboese, Kunze traveled about the country visiting various sectional and divisional heads and holding conferences concerning the Bund’s critical condition. The FBI through its various field offices continuously followed their activities and noted their contacts. On June 9, 1940, he addressed a Bund gathering in Milwaukee and stated the Germans were being persecuted and discriminated against. He criticized the British crown stating “we must fight the British Fifth Column in the U.S.”
On July 8, 1940, he voluntarily appeared before the Senate judiciary subcommittee and protested against the proposed legislation requiring registration of foreign-controlled organizations stating it would force the Bund to disband. The Deutscheer Weckruf und Beobachter carried a special feature article over his signature in the July 25, 1940, issue entitled “German Americans! Wake up and fight the Democratic reign of Terror.” The article is a long recital of the alleged persecutions of Bund leaders and in asking support from his cohorts Kunze stated in part:
“We do not call upon you to stand out openly in this battle, the while your employers or their masters are your enemies and can always force you to crawl and beg for mercy by threatening to starve your families . . . “
He further stated that America is not an English democracy and that thirty million German-Americans will not be enslaved nor deprived of their birthright and that the freeman’s cry “no taxation without representation” is as much alive today as it was during the Revolution.
In testimony of their confidence in Kunze the German-American Bund elected him National Leader on September 5, 1940. At this time he took occasion to comment upon the fifty old destroyers furnished by the United States to Great Britain. The year 1941 found Kunze still in the front ranks on behalf of the Bund although the organization was reported to have gone under cover in view of public sentiment against it. He, August Klapprott, and George Frobose were active in traveling about the country and holding secret meetings. Their activities were carefully watched and followed by the special agents of the FBI.
In a speech in Chicago in the spring of that year, he criticized what he termed the lack of freedom of speech in America and stated to his followers:
“We fight for our heritage. Within this country are 13,000,000 German-Americans out of 100,000,000 white men. We have more than enough to fight for our rights. It is always the job of the minority, and this time of stress is the best time to free ourselves.”
In 1940, the activities of the German-American Bund and Kunze were brought forcefully to the attention of the American people when Kunze and August Klapprott, Wilbur V. Keegan, and several others were indicted by the Sussex County Grand Jury at Newton, New Jersey, charged with violating a New Jersey statute forbidding the inciting of racial hatred. Kunze was convicted on January 30, 1941, and sentenced to serve twelve to 14 months in state prison. On appeal, however, the conviction was reversed by the New Jersey Supreme Court on December 5, 1941, on the grounds that they statute was unconstitutional. Kunze had been arrested while attending a Bund meeting at Camp Nordland, Andover, New Jersey.
Prior to his departure from the United States, Kunze together with Dr. Willumeit made an extensive trip throughout the Middle West and along the West Coast at which time Kunze obtained detailed information regarding the typography of the country, the situation of military establishments, the disposition of troops and naval units, and the possible weaknesses in our national defense preparations. Upon his arrival in El Paso, final plans were made between Kunze and Dr. Ebell for Kunze to leave the United States. On November 8, 1941, Kunze and Ebell secretly drove from the United States into Mexico. Kunze later corresponded with Ebell and gave him instructions to be furnished to the other members of the conspiracy together with letters which were to be released in the United States.
It was ascertained that Kunze directed a letter from Mexico to Vonsiatsky dated December 8, 1941, containing the following passage:
“If the Japanese war had waited a few weeks more, I’d have been in Japan; as it is, I shall have gone on in another direction by the time this letter reaches you.
The Atlantic crossing by air, which I originally had in mind, would cost $2,600.00 more than I have now and would require months of waiting. Another method of travel, the only other one left open, will require about $1,000.00 more than I have. There can be no going back for me any more, and the farther away I go, the more difficult it will become to send me money.
Please send what you can to:
Dr. Wolfgang Ebell
111 N. Mesa
El Paso, Texas.”
In connection with the espionage charges pending against him at Hartford, Connecticut, Kunze entered a plea of guilty and on August 21, 1942, he was sentenced to serve a term of 15 years in a federal prison.
Background on Otto Willumeit
Dr. Otto Willumeit was born in Sarrebourg, Lorraine, France, November 25, 1905. He entered the United States in 1925 and became a naturalized American citizen at Hammond, Indiana, on September 16, 1931. He returned to Germany in 1933 and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1936 at the University of Bonn in Berlin. Upon returning to the United States in 1936, he obtained a position with a firm in Chicago, Illinois, which position he held until 1938.
Dr. Willumeit joined the German-American Bund in 1937 and became head of the Chicago unit of the organization in 1938, holding this position until December 1941. He was also one of the National officers of the Bund as well as president of the Teutonia Publishing Company which published the official Bund newspaper in the Chicago area. In addition, he was president of the Haus Vaterland, an organization which owned and operated real estate in Chicago including a meeting hall used by the Bund and a restaurant frequented by German sympathizers.
While at a Bund camp in Michigan during 1941, Dr. Willumeit ordered a young man who was active in the camp to jump into the lake and swim with all his clothes on. The youth obeyed the order promptly and without question. When he came from the water he stated, “We are accustomed to swimming such distances; in Germany we swim with forty pound packs on our back.” Willumeit allegedly ordered the young man to jump into the lake to demonstrate the discipline in the Bund camp under his leadership.
An individual who attended a celebration at the Haus Vaterland for Hitler’s birthday upon one occasion reported Dr. Willumeit gave a speech to the assembled group in which he called Hitler a “miracle man.” Willumeit was also quoted as stating that Hitler must be considered the greatest man to walk the face of the earth since Christ.
Dr. Otto Willumeit entered a plea of guilty in connection with the espionage charges at Hartford, Connecticut, and on August 21, 1942, received a sentence of five years in a federal prison.
Background on Wolfgang Ebell
Dr. Wolfgang Ebell was born in Zabern, Alsace, France, on July 28, 1899. He lived in Germany until January 31, 1927, and received his M.D. Degree in 1924 at the University of Freiburg. He went to Vera Cruz, Mexico, in January 1927, and entered the United States at El Paso, Texas, in October 1930, where he was admitted to practice medicine. He became a naturalized American citizen in El Paso during 1939.
Dr. Ebell became affiliated with the German-American Bund as its principal representative in El Paso in 1937. He was intimately acquainted with Kunze, and the latter visited him on various trips throughout the United States whenever he was in the El Paso area.
The FBI had received numerous complaints concerning Dr. Ebell before his involvement in the espionage conspiracy. One individual reported having seen in Ebell’s possession a picture of his father in the uniform of a Nazi storm trooper giving the Nazi salute. At a meeting of a club during 1941, the club members drafted a resolution endorsing the stand of the Secretary of State who at the time was in Havana, Cuba. Ebell, who was a member of the club, attempted to block the resolution by insisting that the club should not engage in politics. The club members replied that it was not a question of politics, but a matter involving national unity. Ebell soon dropped out of the club altogether.
Dr. Ebell entered a plea of guilty to the espionage charges at Hartford, Connecticut, and on August 21, 1942, received a sentence of seven years in a federal prison. Previously, on December 30, 1941, a complaint had been filed at El Paso, Texas, praying for the cancellation of Ebell’s certificate of naturalization. This certificate was canceled on April 2, 1942, on the grounds of fraud.
Background on Kurt E. B. Molzahn
Reverend Kurt E. B. Molzahn, the fifth person involved in the conspiracy, was born on June 28, 1895, in Belgrad, Pomerania, Germany. He served in the First World War as a Captain in the German Army and came to the United States in February 1924.
In 1913 he entered the American Seminary in Brecklum, Germany, but his education was interrupted when he was drafted for the army in 1914. He returned to the Seminary in 1919 and finished his course before coming to the United States. After his arrival in this country he taught at a college in Pennsylvania for a time and was a pastor at Johnstown before he accepted a church in Philadelphia in 1929.
Reverend Molzhan returned to Germany for visits in 1927, 1934, and 1937. He was very friendly with various officials of the German Government and had close connections with the German Embassy staff at Washington, D.C. He attended and spoke at several meetings of the German-American Bund in Philadelphia upon the invitation of Kunze. Reverend Molzahn secured his final naturalization papers in November 1940.
Reverend Molzahn was the only one of the five individuals involved in the conspiracy who did not plead guilty. He was taken into custody on June 11, 1942, and was convicted by the jury in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 21, 1942. Four days later he was sentenced to serve ten years, but on June 1, 1945, his term was commuted to the period already served, and he was released. Reverend Molzahn was reported at that time to be suffering from a heart condition.