Kurt Lüdecke

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Kurt Georg Wilhelm Lüdecke (sometimes also written Curt and Ludecke; b. 5 February 1890 in Berlin, Province of Brandenburg, German Empire; d. 1960 in Prien am Chiemsee, Bavaria, West Germany) was a German journalist, Hitler emissary, and an early NSDAP fundraiser. Lüdecke later turned against Hitler and wrote a "self-aggrandizing" memoir[1] which was exploited by the media outside of Germany. As a memoir some of his claims are suspect. Lüdecke was a friend of Ernst Hanfstaengl, Gregor Strasser, Alfred Rosenberg, Hanns Heinz Ewers and was acquainted with Ignaz Trebitsch Lincoln.

World War I and his travels abroad

Kurt Lüdecke and Adolf Hitler.jpg

Ludecke and his two older brothers were the children of Albert and Elsie Ludecke. His father was director of a chemical factory in Oranienburg. At age 19, Ludecke went to London and later Paris becoming a playboy on the Continent. With monies won from gambling he traveled to Italy, Egypt, and India. When World War I broke out he returned to Germany from France and enlisted. In a misunderstanding he was suspected of being a spy and was imprisoned for a few weeks.

Only partly fit for active duty with the Imperial German Army, he was eventually assigned as a clerk in a military mental asylum adjacent to Heidelberg University. During this time he meet Professor Geheimrat Alfred von Domaszewski, a racialist philosopher teaching at Heidelberg, who introduced him to the ideas of the world’s greatest racialist thinkers.

After the war he found his way thru Holland and South America working on schemes--usually involving aircraft--to make himself rich. He arrived in Mexico in the middle of a revolution. He crossed the border in Texas and traveled onto New York. From New York he sailed back to Germany and late became a tire sales representative for the new Baltic republic of Estonia.

Meeting Hitler

He returned to Germany and first heard Hitler give a spell bounding speech on August 11, 1922 in Munich and became one of his earliest supporters. He approached Hitler and agreed to meet with Mussolini and open a line of communication. Ludecke helped to organize and equip some of the first SA units buying uniforms and weapons from the black market. He lost his position with the SA in a quarrel with Hermann Göring.

Ludecke in America

Lüdecke arrived in the US in January 1924 as a reporter for the NSDAP's newspaper Völkischer Beobachter. He met with Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, the son and daughter-in-law of the great composer Richard Wagner, in New York. The Wagners were trying to rekindle interest in the composer's operas that became unpopular in the US during the First World War. The three travel to Detroit to meet with the industrialist Henry Ford with the intent of obtaining funding of the NSDAP in Germany. Ford was interested in the events in Germany, especially the destructive role played by the Jews, but he was not enthusiastic to the idea of financing the party.

On another visit to Detroit Ludecke meet a librarian and they soon married. They moved to New York were both of them worked for a travel agency. A wealthy German businessman, Gunther Quandt and his young wife arrived in America and met Lüdecke. Lüdecke wanted to win the businessman to support the National Socialist cause by first recruiting the young wife. He gave her several books to read and later back in Germany she volunteered at the National Socialist Women’s League. The young women divorced her husband and married Joseph Goebbels and became known to the world as Magda Goebbels.

In 1932, Ludecke founded the Swastika League of America and in June of that year started the publication American Guard. In February 1933 he gave an interview to The Pittsburgh Press explaining Hitler and National Socialism.[2]

Ludecke returned to Germany in 3 May 1933 and soon found himself out-of-favor by becoming a gossip and general pest. He was sent to Oranienburg concentration camp at the direction of Hitler and spent eight months until his released (other reports say he escaped) in March 1934, eventually finding his way back to America.

During the summer purge of 1934, he lost several of his old comrades including his lawyer Alexander Glaser. Feeling bitter over these events, like Hermann Rauschning and others, he returned to the USA and published a memoir I Knew Hitler in 1937. He was denied US citizenship in 1938. In February 1942, he was arrested as a enemy alien by US authorities and held prisoner for four years.


Lüdecke returned to Germany in the 1950s and died 1960 in Prien am Chiemsee Bavaria.


  • I Knew Hitler: The Story of a National Socialist Who Escaped the Blood Purge, New York: Scribner's 1937 (London: Jarrolds, 1938)