The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938-1944: The Story of the Forces against Hitler inside Germany

The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938-1944: The Story of the Forces against Hitler inside Germany

The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938-1944: The Story of the Forces against Hitler inside Germany

The Von Hassell Diaries, 1938-1944: The Story of the Forces against Hitler inside Germany

Excerpt

Conspirators do not often keep diaries. Fortunately, Ulrich von Hassell, German Ambassador to Italy from 1932 to 1937, was an exception. His diary gives us a vivid contemporary account of the various plots against Hitler. It was written not after the events but in the midst of them, and the last entries were made a few days before his arrest and execution in 1944.

The Hassell family came from Hanover. Ulrich von Hassell, born in 1881, devoted his youth to preparation for a diplomatic career. After improving his knowledge of languages and of foreign affairs by studying in Switzerland and in England, he served in Tsingtau, China. In 1911 he entered the diplomatic service and served as Vice-Consul in Genoa in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of World I War. Then he joined the German Army. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of the Marne.

In 1919 he returned to the foreign service and served in Rome, Barcelona, and then as Minister to Denmark and to Yugoslavia. In Belgrade his British colleague was Nevile Henderson, and the friendship which started there brought the two men often together in Berlin in the dark days of August 1939 which led to war. Finally, Hassell returned to Rome as Ambassador to the Quirinal. Here the Hassell family considered the American Ambassador, William Phillips, and Mrs. Phillips, their most congenial colleagues.

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