WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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I continued by exposing the true nature of Achenbach's career in France that was unknown until our research had brought it to light.

Achenbach had been a member of the Nazi Party since 1937. He was appointed to the staff of the German Embassy in Paris shortly before the war, and he later returned with Otto Abetz, whose political adviser, if not inspirer, he was. When Abetz was being cross examined in November 1945, he stated: "The most important part of the embassy was the political section, which was under the direction of Ernst Achenbach."

Schleier, who was second-in-command in the embassy, admitted at Nuremberg that the most important political questions – particularly the directives for Franco-German collaboration – were handled by Abetz and Achenbach together. Another diplomat, Ambassador Karl Ritter, said at Nuremberg: "Achenbach was a man of great capacities; he had a reputation for being very efficient….The ambassador was considered to be putty in his hands, and it was really Achenbach who called the tune."

It was Achenbach who, on August 13, 1940, stressed the importance of complete German control over French newspapers, radio, motion pictures, theater, and book publishing. It was also Achenbach who played a prominent part in the fateful meeting between Hitler and Pétain at Montoire. One of Pétain's ministers, du Moulin de la Barthète, gives a striking picture of Achenbach in his memoirs of the Vichy government, Les temps des illusions ("The Years of Illusion"):
In a soft, almost obsequious voice, Achenbach told me how pleased the ambassador was over the initial conference with Laval the previous evening. Laval had been superbly witty, modest, and alert, and had completely charmed the Führer. France was lucky to have two such men [Pétain and Laval] at the helm. So far as Germany was concerned, there was no antagonism whatever toward France, just a little embarrassment over the necessity of the military occupation of so beautiful a country. "If only your allies had not let you down! But everything can still be fixed."
Du Moulin saw Achenbach again when Otto Abetz and his staff crossed the demarcation line on December 16, 1940, to come to the aid of their vassal Pierre Laval, whom Pétain had disgraced and who was being kept under close surveillance at Châteldon.
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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