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Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg
Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg (20 November 1875 ‚Äď 10 November 1944) was a German diplomat who served as the last German ambassador to the Soviet Union before Operation Barbarossa. He began his diplomatic career before the First World War, serving as consul and ambassador in several countries.

Diplomatic career

Schulenberg was born in Kembergmarker, Saxony-Anhaltmarker. As Count ("Graf") Bernhard von der Schulenburg's son, Friedrich-Werner studied law in Lausannemarker, Munichmarker and Berlin after a one-year stint in the military. In 1901, he joined the Foreign Officemarker's consular service as a junior lawyer (Assessor). By 1903, he was already the vice-consul at Germany's consulate general in Barcelonamarker, and in the years that followed, he also found himself working at consulates in Lvivmarker, Praguemarker, Warsawmarker and Tbilisimarker. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, von der Schulenburg returned to the military, and after the First Battle of the Marne was promoted to captain in October 1914 and put in charge of an artillery battery. In 1915, he went as German liaison officer to the Ottoman Army on the Armenianmarker Front. In 1916, he took over leadership of the Georgian Legion in the struggle with Russiamarker, until its collapse in 1917. During his time in the military, he received the Iron Cross and also some high Turkishmarker honours. After the German Empire's collapse, he was captured by the Britishmarker and interned on the Turkish island of Prinkipo (now called B√ľy√ľk Adamarker), returning to Germany only in 1919. Von der Schulenburg returned to the Foreign Office Service and became consul in Beirutmarker.

Noble estate

In the 1930s, von der Schulenburg acquired the Burg Falkenberg, a castle in the Upper Palatinatemarker. He had it converted and renovated to serve as a retirement home. This monumental work was undertaken between 1936 and 1939.

Resistance activities

After the First World War, von der Schulenburg got his diplomatic career going again, becoming, among other things, an envoy to Tehranmarker and Bucharestmarker. In 1934, he was appointed German ambassador to the Soviet Unionmarker. Von der Schulenburg favoured an agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union, and was instrumental in bringing about the August 1939 German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. After Soviet invasion of Poland, despite state of war between Germany and Poland, he used his position as the most senior ambassador in Moscow to allow Polish diplomats (including ambassador WacŇāaw Grzybowski) to leave the Soviet Union, when the Soviets tried to arrest them. To the last, he tried to thwart the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 through means such as hinting at the country's military strength and the unassailability of its industrial reserves.

After the aggression began on 22 June 1941, von der Schulenburg was interned for a few weeks, and transferred to the Soviet-Turkish border. Thereafter, von der Schulenburg was assigned leader of the Russia Committee, a Foreign Office post with no political influence that neutralized him. Later he would make his influence felt in the military opposition, to reach a quick peace agreement in the east. He was ready and willing to negotiate even with Stalin in the plotters' names. In the plans for the overthrow, Friedrich-Werner von der Schulenburg was tentatively foreseen as the new foreign minister.

After the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944, he was arrested, and charged as a 69-year-old with high treason. On 23 October 1944, the Volksgerichtshof sentenced him to death. He was hanged on 10 November 1944 at Plötzenseemarker Prison in Berlin.


He married from 1908 to 1910 Elisabeth von Sobbe (Burg bei Magdeburgmarker, 14 March 1875 - Wolframshof, 6 July 1955), and had an only daughter:
  • Christa-Wernfriedis Hanna Margarete Engelberta Gr√§fin von der Schulenburg (Praguemarker, 29 December 1908 - ?), married to Max Wolfgang, Freiherr von Lindenfels (Wolframshof, 12 July 1908 - Wolframshof, 28 November 1982)

See also


  • Schorske, Carl "Two German Ambassadors: Dirksen and Schulenburg" pages 477-511 from The Diplomats 1919-1939 edited by Gordon A. Craig and Felix Gilbert, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1953.

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