Kupfer Koberwitz Dachau Diaries

On May 11, 1945, just three days after the German capitulation the US-Missions in Bern, Stockholm, and Madrid requested access to the German Diplomatic Archives. A “diplomatic note” to Switzerland was sent 5 weeks later on June 18th, 1945 when the “Deutsche Interessenvertretung in der Schweiz” (German Interest Section in Switzerland) was already established. The “Deutsche Interessenvertretung in der Schweiz” was a unique construction as it was established as part of the Swiss Foreign Office. The former German Consular staff was working under the leadership of the Swiss Government. Head of this department was Swiss Diplomat Hans Zurlinden and the office was located at the former German Consulate in Bern. Zurlinden, together with his Swiss and German staff, promised to fulfill his task in a “good Swiss and correct manner”.

With the diplomatic recognition of Germany by Switzerland on March 16th, 1951, this unique construct came slowly to its end. The complete archive was transferred back to Germany in May 1952 and the “Deutsche Interessenvertretung in der Schweiz” was obsolete by April 1953.

 

You see here the ERSATZPASS (replacement passport) of writer Edgar Max Kupfer (Kupfer-Koberliz). The document was issued in Zürich 24 Sep 1948 by the Swiss Political Department for German Interests in Switzerland and was several times extended. His passport has two visas issued by the ALLIED HIGH COMMISSION, OFFICE IN BERNE including 2 x $2 AMG revenues. A highly interesting and rare document of early post-war area.


Thanks to an attentive reader of my website I got this additional information on the document I own. So here is the update on the writer of the “Dachau Diaries”, his tragic life and denied success of his diaries. Kupfer Koberwitz Dachau Diaries

Edgar Kupfer was born in the town of Koberwitz, Germany on April 24, 1906. He received his education in various cities across that country, including Bonn, Regensburg, and Stuttgart. When his parents were divorced he left school to support his mother and sister. He remained with them and worked various jobs in factories, stores, and banks. Kupfer’s parents were later reconciled, and in the aftermath of a disappointing love affair, Kupfer left Germany for Italy in 1925. Between 1925 and 1940, he moved between Germany and Italy, working in many types of jobs, including for newspapers, travel bureaus, and as a model for a sculptor of monuments.

In 1940, Kupfer was taken into custody by German police as an enemy of the German state, presumably for his pacifist ideology. He was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp for the duration of World War II. By pretending to be simple-minded, Kupfer received a clerk’s job in the camp’s storeroom, which gave him the opportunity to clandestinely begin a diary. He recorded incidents of concentration camp life on tiny slips of paper. He hid the pages of his diary from prison guards by concealing them among business papers. He later buried them, where some of the pages sustained water damage.

While at Dachau, Kupfer continued to practice the vegetarianism he had embraced years before, dividing his meat ration amongst fellow prisoners. In his diary, he explained his belief that humans’ ability to cruelly deny the humanity of others stemmed from widespread brutality of humans towards animals. He explained, “I believe as long as man tortures and kills animals, he will torture and kill humans as well—and wars will be waged—for killing must be practiced and learned on a small scale. We should try to overcome our own small thoughtless cruelty, to avoid it, and to abolish it.” During his regime, in an attack on pacifist organizations, Hitler banned all vegetarian organizations and arrested their leaders in German-occupied territories.

Despite nearly being consumed by typhus, Kupfer survived his imprisonment at Dachau and was among the more than 67,000 prisoners liberated by American forces on April 29, 2945. Kupfer expressed his gratitude at having evaded death in the camp: “The day is over, this April 29, 1945. I will celebrate it for the rest of my life as my second birthday, as the day that gifted me life anew.” Vowing to use his writings to publicize his experiences and views, Kupfer attained the assistance of Thomas Emmet of the Counter Intelligence Corps to save his manuscript from deterioration in its hiding place.

Kupfer took great pains to establish the genuineness of his manuscript. To demonstrate its authenticity, he unearthed it in the presence of Counter Intelligence Corps agents. Kupfer also created and circulated a questionnaire among former Dachau inmates, gathering statements about his behavior in camp and his general trustworthiness. The Dachau Diary was serialized in the journal „Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte“ under the title “Als Häftling in Dachau.” From his Dachau notes, Kupfer also wrote an essay on vegetarianism which was published in the book Radical Vegetarianism, written by Mark Mathew Braunstein in 1981.

Kupfer, a resident of Chicago in the postwar period, donated his diaries to the University of Chicago on April 1, 1954. On July 7, 1991, Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz died aged 85 in an anthroposophic nursing home near Stuttgart, Germany.

Further reading: The University of Chicago Library-Guide to the Edgar Kupfer-Koberwitz Dachau Diaries 1942-1945

Kupfer Koberwitz Dachau Diaries