Hassell, Baron Ulrich von, 1881-1944

Hassell was a German diplomat who served as Ambassador to Italy until 1938 when he was suddenly retired and not given a further posting. In enforced retirement Hassell frequented resistance circles and members, such as GORDELER, BECK and the Kreisau circle. In February 1940 he made a personal initiative to negotiate peace terms with Great Britain via a mutual acquaintance of Lord HALIFAX but this faltered when none of the German Generals would give him the slightest encouragement. After this attempt Hassell increasingly put pressure on the younger members of his acquaintance to try to assassinate HITLER. Hassell was powerless himself to do anything but plan for Germany after a coup. He was an aristocrat who was a father figure to resisters. In 1942 he was warned by the Senior State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry that he was being watched by the Gestapo and he had to be careful about his behavior. He was not directly involved in the planning of the July Plot of 1944 but he was clearly implicated in it and shortly after the discovery of secret resistance documents in a safe at Zossen containing papers of Gordeler, CANARIS, Oster and Hassell, all four were arrested. Hassell was put on exhibition and his execution was public: he was hanged on a loop of piano wire.

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