Hanns Scharff: The Luftwaffe Nicest “Master Interrogator” 1942-45
Master interrogators evoke memories of savages when they are mentioned. People who are capable of causing tremendous bodily or mental harm to another without showing any sign of remorse. It’s an utterly inhuman job, yet it’s always been a need in society, especially during wartime.
If we see the NAZIs as a group of evil-doers, we have the same mindset. However, while this isn’t true for the vast majority of people who were merely following orders, those in power inside the party took great delight in the policies and practices they had implemented. A NAZI interrogator, on the other hand, connotes something sinister.
Neither Hanns-Joachim Gottlob Scharff nor the Nazis intended for him to be either one or the other. When he was born in Rastenburg, East Prussia on December 16, 1907, his father was an army officer who was killed in action during World War I.
This specific interrogator rose up the ranks and, by the end of World War II, was in charge of the notorious Dulag Luft prison camps. The expert known as Hanns Scharff was alerted when state adversaries were apprehended. He characterized himself as “…the spider resting on its web…” since he was fluent in English.
Early Life and Journey to Interrogator
Hanns Scharff, as an interrogator was so excellent at extracting information from detainees that he became known as the “Master Interrogator” who worked for the Nazis.
Because of his success, his tactics were eventually adopted by the United States. He did not, however, resort to the barbaric methods used by the Nazis. He employed a method that was so out of the ordinary that it left many in awe.
In 1907, Scharff was born in East Prussia. For many years, he lived in Leipzig, where he studied painting and learned about his family’s textile company. When he was an adult, he was transported to South Africa, where he learned to speak English as a second language.
He thrived in a company’s sales section, dealing with customers who regarded him as a gentleman.
Hanns married Margaret Stokes, the daughter of a renowned RAF (Royal Air Force) Captain named Claud Stokes, and they had a daughter together.
Despite their best intentions, newlyweds Hanns and Margaret ended up staying in Germany for a longer time than they had anticipated.
A German citizen at the time of World War II’s outbreak, Scharff received military training at the Wehrmacht division and was moved on to the Russian front. He stayed in Germany and exploited his proficiency in English to rise through the ranks, earning the rank of Obergefreiter, which is the equivalent of private (airman) first class or Lance Corporal.
The German was sent to Oberursel, a town near Frankfurt, where the legendary Luftwaffe Air Force has an intelligence and evaluation facility. Interrogation of captured Allied pilots (but not Soviets) took place at this location. Scharff was promoted to the position of Interrogation Officer.
There were no current procedures that impressed the new officer, so he was fast to implement his own ideas. In the Dulag Luft, most of the prisoners would have come from British planes that had been shot down by the Nazis.
The Gestapo, the Nazi-style secret police, was rumoured to use gruesome methods of torture.
Despite the Geneva Convention’s restrictions, unlawful torture continued to take place. Scharff was given his first opportunity when four US Army pilots were detained.
As soon as he arrived at the conference, he began gathering all the information he could about them. He opted not to wear a uniform because he only required casual clothing to gather information.
Scharff’s Interrogation Style
Rather than a spider, the inmates would discover a gentleman. The reason Hanns Scharff was so unique was that he was both a Nazi and an interrogator, yet he decided not to follow orders.
Torture has always been a part of the questioning, but he had the courage to reject it. Although the inmates and his colleagues initially thought it was a prank, Scharff was an expert at utilizing psychology to get his point through without ever resorting to force.
The fact that he was fluent in English convinced them to put their faith in him. In order to make the pilots believe that he knew more than he actually did, he created the impression that he already knew everything.
Because they were treated so well, several even volunteered to go on trips with Scharff as their guide to the woods and the zoo. There was a considerable supply of food and medical treatment for them. It is evident in the camp’s guestbook that they had a positive time -considering their circumstances -and were well cared for.
In order to trick the captives into cooperating or attempting an escape, he told them he would hand them over to the dreaded Gestapo if they didn’t.
However, he never did, in all honesty. Hanns spared Gabby Gabreski’s life since he was the only prisoner who spoke nothing. Even though Gabby didn’t support him throughout the battle, they remained friends and reunited afterwards.
In spite of the fact that Hanns had taken these prisoners, he was aware that they were human beings who had not started the conflict. He would be remembered and adored for the fact that despite being expected, he never caused harm to another soul.
Becoming US Citizen and Influencing the FBI
Scharff lived in several countries after World War II, but never in his archenemy, the United States. Pentagon officials were alerted to his situation and convinced him to join their ranks.
His approaches began to appear in newspapers and journals. Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who worked in the 9/11 investigation and at Guantanamo Bay, had a major influence on him.
In retirement, Hanns would become a US citizen and pursue his first love, art, by making mosaics for iconic landmarks like Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland. Hanns is an excellent example of a person who stands up for what is right, given the circumstances of Nazi Germany.
Allies and axis alike were treated with the same level of respect by him because of this belief. Even in times of conflict, there are still bright spots like Hanns Scharff, who was not only knowledgeable but also courageous enough to put their ideas into action.