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Ulrich von Hassell in court, September 8, 1944
Ulrich von Hassell (12 November 18818 September 1944) was a Germanmarker diplomat during World War II. A member of the German Resistance against German dictator Adolf Hitler, Hassell was executed in the aftermath of the failed July 20 plot.


Hassell was born in Anklammarker, Province of Pomeraniamarker, to First Lieutenant Ulrich von Hassell and his wife Margarete. Hassell passed his Abitur at Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium in 1899. Between 1899 and 1903 he studied law and economics at the University of Lausannemarker, the University of Tübingenmarker and in Berlinmarker. He was active in the Corps Suevia Tübingen (a Studentenverbindung). After spending some time in Qingdaomarker (then known as the German colony of "Tsingtao") and Londonmarker, he began in 1909 to work as a graduate civil servant (Assessor) in the Foreign Officemarker.

In 1911, Hassell married Ilse von Tirpitz, Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz's daughter. The couple would have four children. Also in 1911, he was named Vice-Consul in Genoamarker.

In the First World War, Hassell was wounded in the chest in the First Battle of the Marne on 8 September 1914. Later in the war, he worked as Alfred von Tirpitz's advisor and private secretary. He also later wrote his father-in-law's biography.

After the war ended in 1918, Hassell joined the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei or DNVP). In the years that followed, he returned to the Foreign Office and worked until the early 1930s in Romemarker, Barcelonamarker, Copenhagenmarker, and Belgrademarker. In 1932, Hassell was made Germany's ambassador to the Kingdom of Italy.

In 1933, Hassell joined the Nazi Party. He was very much against the Anti-Comintern Pact concluded by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italymarker, and the Empire of Japanmarker in 1937, and favoured instead Western-Christian unity in Europe. In 1938, as a result of the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair, Hassell was recalled from his posting as ambassador in Romemarker by Adolf Hitler, without, however, being cast right out of the diplomatic service. Then, right after the German attack on Poland on 1 September 1939, Hassell led a delegation to allay north European governments' fears of a forthcoming German strike on their countries.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Hassell took part in plans to overthrow Hitler. Hassell's main function was to be a liaison between the conservative opposition groups centred about Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Ludwig Beck (Hassell once ironically called this group "His Majesty's most loyal opposition" – using the English term) and the younger Kreisau Circle.

Over the next few years, Hassell used his position in the executive committee of the Central European Economic Congress to discuss with Allied officials what might happen after a possible coup d'état in Germany. He envisaged himself, along with Beck and Johannes Popitz, planning for Germany's post-Hitler internal organization after a successful coup. Hassell was to be Foreign Minister in the foreseen transitional government. Meanwhile, since 1943, he was no longer in the actual centre of the resistance, and not even involved in Claus von Stauffenberg's plans to assassinate Hitler.

Nevertheless, on 29 July 1944, Hassell was arrested by the Gestapomarker for his involvement in the July 20 plot, something that he had foreseen. On 8 September, after a two-day trial at the German People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), over which presided Roland Freisler, he was sentenced to death. He was executed the very same day at Plötzensee Prisonmarker in Berlin.

Ulrich von Hassell is also the grandfather of Agostino von Hassell, a noted author on military and war history.

Anglo-German pact

In 1940 von Hassell met with amateur diplomat James Lonsdale-Bryans to discuss a possible pact between Germanymarker and the British Empire. Lonsdale-Bryans proposed that Germany would be allowed control of Europe whilst Britain would control the rest of the world.


  • The Von Hassell Diaries 1938-1944: The Story of the Forces Against Hitler Inside Germany, Ambassador Ulrich von Hassell, (Doubleday & Company, 1947, ASIN B000VB0W42), (Hamish Hamilton, 1948, ASIN B0014X98FU) (Greenwood Press, 1971, ISBN 978-0837132280)

See also


  1. BBC News

Marie Vassiltchikov: Berlin Diaries 1940-1945, 1988. ISBN 0-394-75777-7

External links

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