Karl Kapp (1889–1947) was a German officer and diplomat as well as Arabic-Persian scholar.
Before Abitur and studies, Karl Kapp and his best friend Lothar Eckertz and his brother Herbert Eckertz decided to go to Palestine for one year in 1909. Father Eckertz, after finding out, tried to stop the ship, but the young men were old enough and the captain rejected the request. They stayed in Haifa and did odd jobs to survive. They would swim naked, drink a lot and have just a great time. Once they got sick, possibly malaria, but a female German doctor came and treated them. Herbert and Lothar always had a picture of their older sister Amaranth with them. Karl saw it and fell in love. Lothar told him, to forget it. Karl was 19, Amaranth already 26, but Karl didn't care. On his return, Karl courted her, although Lothar still tried to convince him to court the younger sister Irene. Soon, Karl and Amaranth married, their first child, son Torald, was born 1914.
Kapp, after returning to Germany, went back to school, achieved his Abitur, and started studying at university. he served in the Imperial German Army during World War I, until a severe bullet wound to the head in 1916 made him unfit for further service. He then entered the consular service (Diplomatischer Dienst), and was stationed in Constantinople, Budapest and Damascus during the rest of the war. As a university student, he had mastered Arabic and Persian.
The German Empire transferred the representation of German citizens and interests in Jerusalem to the Spanish consulate in 1917. Kapp served from 1921 to 1924 as a German attaché in the Spanish consulate. From 18 December 1924 to 24 July 1926, he was Vice Consul when the Consulate General of Jerusalem was re-established, his successor was Dr. jur. Erich August Karl Nord (1881–1935). He even found a job for his friend Herbert Eckertz in the consulate, who later brought his wife. Karl Kapp even wrote the lyrics for one of Herbert Eckertz's operas. Kapp's many cats had many cat babies, therefore everyone he married, which he coud as consul, would receive one or two kittens, if they wanted or not.
In February 1925, Alma Margaretha Maria, née Schindler, widow of Gustav Mahler, since 1920 divorced from Walter Gropius, reported on an excursion to the Dead Sea accompanied by the German Consul Karl Kapp and his brother-in-law, a musician from the Palestine concert department and a great admirer of Karl Kraus, and their wives.
- Of course the British conquest of Palestine in 1917 forced the closure of the German consulate. It was not until 1924 that impoverished and defeated republican Germany again had a consul resident in the splendid villa on the Street of the Prophets, where the consuls of imperial Germany had once resided. The restored German consulate enjoyed a vast reservoir of Jewish good will, a heritage of cordial relations dating back to 1842. Old Jerusalemite Jewish families still recall the formal visit by the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine, A. I. Kook, to German Consul Karl Kapp. Until 1932, the German consuls continued their protection of the hospitals and schools that enjoyed the special patronage of German Jewish philanthropy. Even Jewish institutions that were not primarily German in their orientation, such as the newly established Hebrew University at Jerusalem, extended and received exceptional reciprocal courtesies at the German consulate on all gala occasions. Consul Kapp, 1924-1926, and his successor Dr. Erich Nord, 1926-1932, maintained the amiable philosernitic attitudes of their predecessors.
On 10 December 1926, he became German consul in Bombay (India). He became an avid sportsman in Bombay, joining several hunting and riding clubs. In 1930, he re-established the "German Club" in Bombay to promote Anglo-German reconciliation in India. After 1936, the Club's activities were reported in the monthly publication "Der Deutsche in Indien". Kapp even joined the 1934 German expedition to climb Mount Nanga Parbat.
At the end of 1936, he was named Consul General in Cleveland, Ohio, succeeding Attaché Dr. jur. Rolf Kaßler (who stayed on as acting consul when Kapp was not present). He brought with him his wife Amaranth, née Eckertz, and daughter Cornelia "Nele" (b. 1919), their sons Torald (b. 16 April 1914; later Dr. and Regierungsdirektor) and Peter stayed in Germany.
Kapp was later afforded a staff of 10 for his consulate offices on the 14th floor of the Midland Building downtown, the largest consulate staff in Cleveland. Visitors were greeted by a large, oval enameled, pink colored emblem on which the words “Deutsches Konsulat” were inscribed above a winged swastika.
On 28 February 1937, the Kapp familiy sailed with the new S. S. Hamburg from the Hamburg-Amerika Line (HAPAG) to Germany for an extended vacation, it was the first time in years they had been in the homeland. Vice Consul was from 1939 to 1940 Wilhelm Günther von Heyden (1908-2004). Kapp, like Dr. Kaßler before him, held close ties to the German American Bund and spoke at the German Day celebrations at the German Central Organization's farm in Parma. Some sources state, he had ties to the Teutonia Association, but this is not proven.
He was close to Rev. John Foisel, of 761 Eddy Road, and pastor of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Cleveland. He was a quiet, slender, middle-aged, balding, unassuming minister, living in a small home, but with great influence. Foisel spoke out on behalf of Germany as early as 1934, by invitation of Martin Kessler’s group. In 1937, Foisel inherited the direction of the city’s German Educational Service from the German consulate. As the local director of the service, Foisel took his orders from Ernst Kotz, the chief of the Service in New York. In turn, Kotz took his orders from Alfred Rosenberg in Germany, the new prophet of National Socialist culture, who was directly under Joseph Goebbels. Another close associate was the notable Akron attorney Frank B. Burch.
Burch supplied Kapp with lists of prominent area citizens that he knew may be interested in pro-German information. Burch also helped to found the Akron branch of the America First Committee. This committee emerged nationally as sympathetic to National Socialism, and defined itself by its anti-administration stance. Notable leaders of the group were Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, Henry Ford and Robert E. Wood, chairman of the board of Sears, Roebuck and Company. This committee was also popular with the Ku Klux Klan.
Beginning on 9 May 1938, a series of German radio programs were to begin broadcasting from Berlin to Ohio. Ohio was the first area to be honored by Berlin by such a goodwill gesture. Yet there was also a planned exchange of broadcasts, and cultural selections typical of Ohio were to be sent back to the Fatherland. A record prepared earlier was to be broadcast to Berlin with selections from the Ohio State University band, with the “Buckeye Battle Cry,” “Fight the Team” and “Carmen Ohio” being among them.
Before the beginning of the Second World War, Kapp’s speeches continually stressed Germany’s love for peace, while attempting to fulfill her desire for Lebensraum for her people. On 29 September 1938, the Munich Conference seemed to assure both of these goals, as the Sudetenland was returned to Germany. This feat was well applauded by Kapp as it was for England’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who joyfully proclaimed that the agreement meant “peace for our time.” Kapp announced “we thank our Führer, Adolf Hitler, Mr. Chamberlain, Mussolini, Mr. Daladier and President Roosevelt for preserving the world’s peace.” Dr. Herbert S. Reichle, president of the Deutsche Zentrale, also announced at Kapp’s meeting, “the German nation has much to be thankful for today. We are glad to see that the war which started in 1914 has ended finally in 1938.” He supplied important information to General Friedrich Wilhelm von Boetticher at the German Embassy in Washington D.C.
On 5 May 1940, Kapp addressed over 1,000 people at a meeting he arranged at the Deutsche Zentrale in Parma. He affirmed his belief that England, who had declared war on Germany, was stifling trade. He announced “there shall be no free commerce in this world until the one single country which today controls all strategic points on the high seas ceases to control them. That is what Germany is striving to do and nothing else.” At this meeting, Kapp received much praise from the crowd for his take on German affairs.
On 16 June 1941, Kapp was vacationing in a cabin in Cook’s Forest, high in the hills of Pennsylvania. He received a call from his consular office in Cleveland warning him that Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles had announced that all German consulates were to be closed, and that all consuls should be out of the United States by 10 July 1941. Kapp packed his belongings in a hurry and had left the cabin in less than 15 minutes. In his own hasty flight, he only left behind, ironically enough, a newspaper clipping of Rudolph Hess’ flight to England and a single pair of pajamas. Welles simply stated that Kapp and others had to leave “because German consular officials and other Nazi agents have been engaged in activities harmful to the United States.” Nele was in her junior year at the Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University and the Fiancée of a German American Clevelander, was nonetheless expelled.
Returning with his family to the Reich, Karl Kapp was posted to Italy while his daughter studied nursing in Germany, but soon joined her parents. In July 1943, Kapp was named Consul General in Sofia, Bulgaria, daughter Nele became embassy secretary. Within a month, she was approached by the American OSS and was allegedly recruited as a spy. Her reward was to be her return to the USA. To escape the bombing of Bulgaria, she was transferred by her father to the German Embassy in Ankara, Turkey in the first week of January 1944, subordinated to commercial attaché in Ankara and SD chief Ludwig Carl Moyzisch (Cicero Spy Affair). Here, as she later wrote, she met her finacée again, now an OSS agent. She was described as a "long-haired blonde and well-dressed woman". After defecting to the USA (Chicago) in 1944, it is reported, she married a FBI man, moved to California and had children.
Daughter Nele sent food packages for years, starting Christmas 1945 with special help from the American SSU (Strategic Services Unit), not only to her parents, but also to the family of her maternal uncle, composer Herbert Eckertz.
Karl Kapp was a member of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft (German Oriental Society), abbreviated DMG as well as the German Alpine Club (German: Deutscher Alpenverein, DAV for short), for which he held lectures. Even in his last to years in Holy Imperial coty of Goslar (part of the British occupation zone from 1945 and the site of a displaced persons camp.), he would hike the Harz, a highland area in northern Germany.
- Nazi Germany's Consuls in Jerusalem, 1933 -1939
- Dr. Rolf Georg Kaßler (later written Kassler) was only 27 years old when he was appointed as Cleveland’s German acting consul in 1934. He was born in Halle an der Saale, Province of Saxony-Anhalt, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire, and studied law at the universities of Greifswald (Corps Guestfalia Greifswald) on the Baltic Sea and Bonn on the Rhine (Corps Guestphalia Bonn). He had also studied at schools in Paris and Edinburgh, where he learned French and English. He then practiced law in Germany for three years while working on his doctorate dissertation concerning the relations of German contract-law to French and Italian Law. He expressed a great admiration for America, especially in terms of its international importance. More importantly though, he illustrated how America largely fulfilled the important German lust for “Lebensraum” (“living space”). Lebensraum was the feeling that each individual German needed so much land and resources to live and prosper. In order to announce and culturally translate Germany’s policies, Kaßler began the consular tradition of explaining his homeland’s continuing military buildup and territorial expansion. During the 1935 German Day cultural festival at Edgewater Park in Cleveland, Kaßler, the lead speaker, emphasized how Germany had begun building herself back up (including militarily, and in violation of the unjust Versailles Treaty). He stated that “through Hitler’s energy, the Fatherland has been freed from shameful chains and has attained what every nation needs for existence: honor, equal rights and the right to defend herself against her enemies. A strong Germany is necessary for European peace. A strong army and a strong labor service are of equal importance.” In November 1937, Dr. Kapp returned to Germany in November 1937 and worked at the German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) in Berlin.
- The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was the intelligence agency of the United States during World War II between 1942 and 1945. The OSS was formed as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning.
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