The reported “suicide” in Straubing prison of Werner Abel marks the erasing from the scene of another one of those mysterious partly criminal figures by which instrumentality Adolf Hitler succeeded in reaching a position in Germany from which he was able to grasp the supreme power of the state.
That his death was not suicide is the unshaken belief of hundreds of people who knew this corrupt and gifted young man and were acquainted with some of the facts of his astounding career. Like Dr. George Bell, the Englishman whose knowledge of the burning of the Reichstag is believed to have resulted in his murder at the hands of Nazis, Abel had far too much knowledge of the devious means by which Hitler secured support for his storm troopers and assistance in his propaganda campaign for his life to be safe even within the confines of a prison.
In 1930 the Muenchener Post carried a series of articles in which Hitler was savagely attacked. He was accused, among other things, of having trafficked with the Italians, through a Captain Giuseppe Migliorati, for the surrender of the German Tyrol to Italy. In exchange for yielding Austria’s claim to the South Tyrol, Hitler received 2,500,000 lira, the articles charged.
HITLER SUES FOR LIBEL
Abel, who like Dr. Bell, was a journalist, was the author of these articles. Among the accusations he made was that the Bavarian police chief, Seisser had helped Schulz, the Erzberger murderer, to escape, and that Attorney General Roth, as Bavarian Minister of Justice, had shielded Braun, murderer of the Social Democratic deputy Gareis. Documents presented in support of these accusations showed an exact knowledge of the financial foundations of the National Socialist party.
Hitler, with customary audacity, brought a libel suit against the newspaper. Abel repeated his accusations under oath and was charged with perjury by Roth and Hitler. The proceedings dragged along until last year when Abel was convicted against the weight of evidence and sentenced to four years in prison. In prison, he remained a potential source of embarrassment to the new rulers of Germany whom he had served so capably in the past. With his death, the possibility that Abel may some time again tell of that which Hitler and his associates wish untold is gone forever.
Werner Abel was hardly the man to take his own life. Witty, gifted and clever, a crafty political adventurer to whom intrigue and political manipulations furnished the zest of living, his thirty-one years were crammed with action. He would have been young enough at the end of his term to be able to resume his adventurous career where he had left off.
IN THE BISMARCKBUND
An elegant-loking, amiable and refined youth, Abel joined the “Iron Battalion” at the age of 17 in 1918, just at the beginning of the German revolution. It was not long before his talents were recognized and he was entrusted with charge of the press bureau.
When the situation in Upper Silesia changed that area to a battlefield, young Abel joined the Kleiwitz volunteers and fought against the Korfanty forces. Later he became active as an organizer and journalist in the Bismarckbund.
The occupation of the Rhineland and the Separatist movement found him in the forefront there. Just as Bell had tried to flood Europe with counterfeit roubles in order to discredit Soviet Russia, so Abel passed counterfeit money in an effort to discredit the Separatists. He had to flee to East Prussia to escape police, and aided in the organization of the Stalhelm, monarchistic war veterans’ organization.
When he learned of Hitler’s plans to organize a putsch in Munich, Abel hastened there as representative of the nuclear Hitlerite forces in East Prussia. He soon ingratiated himself with the leadersâ€”Hitler, Ludendorff, Seisser and Rothâ€”and under the name of Ysenberg, was soon in charge of the press bureau and active in the new movement’s diplomatic duties.
The beer hall putsch failed after a few revolver shots and Abel was captured with Hitler, Roth, Volk, and Christian Weber and sent to the Landsberg prison fortress. He was extradited to Berlin where he was sentenced to seven months for his counterfeiting activities.
THE “AWAKENING MAGYARS”
On his release, Hitler sent him to Vienna to aid in creating a Nazi movement there. It wasn’t long before Abel was in the inner circles of the “Awakening Magyars” and confidential Nazi representative in Budapest where he was associated with Schulz, the Erzberger murderer. He left Hungary hurriedly when accused of complicity in shielding Schulz and went to Turkey. En route he married the beautiful sister of the leader of the “Awakening Magyars” named Molnar (but not the playwright) and settled down in Constantinople as manager of a movie house.
After a short time his wife’s relations and the police official, Nadossy, got him back to Hungary where he prospered until another scandal rebounded on his protector and again he had to flee. Then followed a short period as a Nazi organizer and another venture in business.
And curiously, his political complexion began to change. From an extreme Rightist, he turned to the Left, as Bell had announced his intention of doing just before his assassination. His marriage with Melanie Molnar was annulled and he began a savage attack on his former associates.
Himself possessing a false passport, he gathered evidence against the magistrate who had issued it. He began a violent public denunciation of Seisser and Roth. He described Hitler’s dealings with Italy in the great detail which he knew as one of Hitler’s trusted underground agents.
Then began the frantic battle to silence Abel. The former trusted tool was now a dangerous enemy. The perjury charge which Abel was so confident he could disprove, resulted in his incarceration. Then the Hitlerites came into power. Now Abel is dead. His death is a grim warning to those hundreds of others who worked through dark and circuitous channels to advance the Hitler cause that their knowledge is not power but a death sentence.