Go-Betweens for Hitler

Go-Betweens for Hitler

Go-Betweens for Hitler

Go-Betweens for Hitler


The untold story of how Germany's top aristocrats contributed to Hitler's secret diplomacy during the Third Reich, providing a direct line to their influential contacts and relations across Europe, especially in Britain. Using previously unexploited sources from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and the USA, Karina Urbach unravels the story of how men such as the Duke of Coburg, grandson of Queen Victoria, were tasked with some of Germany's top-secret foreign policy missions from the First World War onwards, culminating in their role as Hitler's trusted go-betweens during the Second World War.


Many of us have been go-betweens at one time or another in our lives. We may have conveyed messages between siblings, parents, or friends after a misunderstanding or argument. But go-betweens not only exist on a personal level, they are also employed in high politics, well hidden from the public eye. Right now they may be working where official channels have become stuck.

Go-betweens are not an invention of the twenty-first century, they have existed for a long time. Those in power who have launched go-between missions over the last century have done so regardless of the form of government. But a common thread existed when it came to choosing the ideal person for such missions: up to 1945 they were mainly members of the aristocracy from every corner of Europe. Only after the Second World War were these people replaced by international businessmen, secret servicemen, and journalists.

In the American television series House of Cards, the Vice-President snarls at a congressional inquiry: ‘When a back channel becomes public, it defeats its purpose.’ It has been my purpose for the last five years to highlight the role of the back channel in the first half of the twentieth century. This book uses new sources found in thirty archives in the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.

It has been a pleasure writing this story because it gave me a chance to meet real life go-betweens. Following James Watson’s advice ‘avoid boring people’, I have been spoilt with wonderful friends and colleagues. This is a, probably, incomplete list of them: Gerry Bradshaw, Christopher Clark, Matthew Cotton, Shawn Donnelley, Andreas Fahrmeir, Otto Feldbauer, Annegret and Peter Friedberg, Lothar Gall, Ulrike Grunewald, Klaus Hildebrand, Paul Hoser, Eva Klesse, Jeremy Noakes, Klaus Roser, Stephen Schuker, Jonathan Steinberg, the Stolzenbergs, Natascha Stöber, Miles Taylor, the Unholzers.

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