Paul Theodor Borchardt

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Paul Theodor Borchardt

Birthplace: Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Death: September 29, 1957 (71)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Bavaria, Germany
Immediate Family:

Son of Siegmund Salomon Borchardt and Hedwig Borchardt
Ex-husband of Theodora Johanna Dodo Borchardt
Father of Grete Borchardt; Private and Paul Borchardt
Brother of Anna Schlesinger; Else Tarlau; Meta Borchardt, INFANT; Ernst Borchardt; Fritz Borchardt, INFANT and 2 others

Managed by: Simon Goodman
Last Updated:

About Paul Theodor Borchardt


Paul T. BORCHARDT, Diplom-Kolonialgeograph Dieter H.M.Gröschel

Paul Theodor Borchardt was born on 23 July 1886 in Berlin as the son of the Jewish Kommerzienrat (Councilor of Commerce) and Ältester der Berliner Kaufmannschaft (Senior of the Berlin Body of Merchants) Siegmund Salomon Borchardt and his wife Hedwig Borchardt. After graduation from high school he studied economics and geography in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich and obtained a diploma in colonial geography. In 1908 he converted to Protestantism. He went to the University of London and qualified there as an interpreter. Then he worked in industry and received his degree in 1911. He was a scientific assistant in the Institute of Bibliography in Brussels. He visited Liberia and south-Nigeria In 1912/13 he was involved in the research of aerial photography at the aviation test center at Johannisthal. . In 1913/14 he participated in a geographic expedition in Africa . The British explorer and expert on the Libyan Desert, W.J. Harding King, suspected Borchardt to be a German secret service agent. At the beginning of the First World War he volunteered for naval aviation. In a listing of the naval flyers by Kintner a Borchard joined the naval pilot school as Matrose (sailor) on 5 October 1914. After a crash he was assigned as an interpreter for Arabic and later as staff officer of the Marshall von Goltz army in Mesopotamia and at the German Military Mission in Constantinople. He was decorated with the EK II. After the war he was one of the founders of the “Schwarze Reichswehr”, a secret military organization to overcome the Allied restrictions of the German army to 100,000 men. He served as the military-geographic instructor. From 1920 on he went on expeditions to North Africa and studied oasis and caravan routes, Jewish culture in North Africa, and explored location mentioned in the antique literature. He claimed that the island Atlantis was now in a sand-filled depression near Gabes in Tunesia. In 1923 he married the painter Theodora Sattler and joined the Catholic faith. In 1926 he lived in Munich, Theresienstr. 69a, in 1935 and 1938 in Cannabichstr.11/3, where his wife still lived in 1941. He supposedly was made a professor in Munich in 1929 but my search in the University of Munich catalogues of 1925 to 1933 did not show him as a member of the faculty; he was a student of philosophy from Winter 1925/26 through Winter 1926/27. In 1932 he became the founder and leader of a military-geographic seminar for Munich students. But already in 1933 he was dismissed from his post because of his Jewish background. He kept in contact with his teacher and mentor Karl Haushofer, the father of German geopolitics. After the Kristallnacht he was arrested and taken to the KZ Dachau where he was badly treated by the guards. His cousin Robert Borchardt knew Hans Oster of the Amt Ausland/Abwehr (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces High Command) and requested his help. Oster, with the support of Admiral Canaris, the chief of Abwehr, requested the Gestapo in Munich to release Borchardt from the KZ as he was an

  • There is no indication that he was a professor of the University of Munich. important collaborator. Borchardt was released after 16 days but he was a broken man and very depressed. Oberleutnant Franz Seubert of the Munich Abwehr office helped him and took away his pistol. To prevent further actions of the Gestapo the Abwehr decided to send Borchardt to England, where he was known as a good Arabist and geographer and had scientific connections, being a member of the British Geographical Society. The Abwehr declared him a V-Mann (Verbindungs – [liaison] or Vertrauens- [confident ]) Mann) and provided him with a passport. The emigration tax for “Jews” had to be only partially paid. Seubert declared after the war that Borchardt was never meant to be a spy. Borchardt arrived in England as a “Jewish refugee” in early 1939 claiming that his army colleagues helped him to escape. He offered his services to British intelligence as a “Jewish anti-Nazi”. The British intelligence service was unsure about him and put him under observation. In late 1939 he divorced his wife to protect her and an inheritance he had coming. Borchardt was worried about his stay and future in England and with the help of a Catholic aid organization obtained a visa for the United States on 29 November 1939. He arrived in New York in early 1940, applied for citizenship and offered his services to American intelligence but was not accepted. His hope to obtain a position in an American college was dashed because he asked for too much money and refused to talk about his service with the German army and the Schwarze Reichswehr. On 8 December 1941, a day after the Pearl Harbor bombing, the FBI arrested Borchardt in his rented room in New York. On 30 December 1941 he was accused of espionage as a member of the German spy group Ludwig and bail of $25,000 was set on 1 January 1942. Borchardt had been supported by his wife with money transferred through the German consulate. But one day the newly arrived German-American Kurt Frederick Ludwig, a US citizen working for the Abwehr, visited him under the name “Joe” Josef Kessler, and brought him $ 250. Borchardt liked “Joe” and met him occasionally in his place or in a seashore cottage. According to his statements before court he never knew that “Joe” was a spy. Seubert reported after the war that it had been difficult to keep Borchardt as a V-Mann without him being a spy. When Major Ulrich von der Osten of the Abwehr became the chief of the US spying network he traveled to New York via Japan disguised as a Spanish citizen. Shortly after his arrival on 18 March 1941 he and Ludwig walked at Times Square when von der Osten was hit by a cab and then run over by a car and killed. Ludwig took his briefcase and ran. The FBI found information in von der Osten’s hotel room that finally uncovered his true name as a German spy. Ludwig continued as the leader of the spy ring and traveled to US military installations. His reports were sent by mail to Germany and already had been intercepted by the British Imperial Censorship in Bermuda. Ludwig came under FBI surveillance. By August 1941 Ludwig sensed that he was under surveillance and drove by car to Montana and continued by bus to the west coast, hoping to make his way back to Germany via Japan. On 23 August he was arrested by the FBI in the State of Washington. There he tried to bribe the sheriff who informed the FBI but played the game and asked for money. According to Winfried Meyer Ludwig gave the sheriff a name and address to ask for $ 200 for “Joe”. This address was the one of Paul Borchardt. But according to other publications Borchardt’s name also was detected in documents rescued from incineration by the janitor Walter Morrissey of the German consulate, a FBI agent, shortly before the beginning of the war. Borchardt, together with other members of the spy group “Joe K” – Ludwig was accused of spying by the Federal Court of Southern New York and was sentenced on 13 March 1942 to 20 years imprisonment. On 4 March 1942 he stated to the court that he was a Major “on parole” [ausser Dienst = retired?] of the German Army who could not reveal any names of friends and former comrades that helped him to escape Germany because they would be persecuted by the Gestapo. He also defined himself as a Jewish refugee and anti-Nazi. The prosecutor had called him a “fake refugee” and “corps on parole”. Borchardt’s silence and lack of cooperation were considered to be stubbornness and the judge gave him the longest sentence of 20 years. He was imprisoned in Leavenworth. After the war some of his family and former comrades tried to obtain clemency for Borchardt. Seubert, who was the Abwehr man who had supported and helped him to leave Germany, was according to his own reports very active in this matter. Seubert, the Abwehr officer, like many others of the office, worked for the US Army intelligence and later joined the Gehlen organization , the predecessor of the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst). With the help of the German foreign ministry Borchardt was pardoned and released from the prison on 27 August 1952 (or 7 July 1952). He returned to Germany and lived with his wife in Oberammergau. He died on 29 September 1957 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


A Byte out of History. FBI Gets the Last “Ludwig Ring” Spy. FBI Stories, October 2003.

Adams, Jefferson: Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence. Scarecrow, Lanham MD, 2009

Bermuda’s WWII Espionage Role. Bernews November 11, 2011 <>

Borchardt, Paul. Wikipedia. <>  (May 2015)

Kintner, Ron: Marineflieger der Kaiserlichen Armee. Private Archive.

Ludwig, Kurt Frederick. Wikipedia. <>

Paul Borchardt (* 1886 in München?; † 1957[1]) war ein deutscher Kolonialgeograf, Geologe, Theosoph und Spion.


   1 Leben
   2 Exil
   3 Publikationen
   4 Literatur
   5 Einzelbelege


Bereits seine Veröffentlichung von 1910, ein Kommentar zu Isis Unveiled von Helena Blavatsky, weist ihn als Mitglied der „Theosophischen Gesellschaft“ und der „Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin“ aus. Borchardt war Teilnehmer am Ersten Weltkrieg unter Colmar von der Goltz im Nahen Osten, arbeitete als Flieger und vermutlich als Agent. Er diente ab 1913 in der deutschen Armee. 1929 erhielt er eine Professur in München. Als Forscher reklamierte er 1926 aufgrund seiner tunesischen Ausgrabungen in den Ruinen von Gabès den Tritonsee als Ort von Platons Atlantis.

Auf Grundlage des Gesetzes zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums vom April 1933 wurde er wegen seiner jüdischen Abstammung aus dem Staatsdienst entlassen. Im Zuge der Reichskristallnacht im Herbst 1938 verhaftet, brachte man ihn ins Münchener Gefängnis und später ins KZ Dachau, wo er, späteren Angaben gegenüber dem MI5 zufolge, misshandelt wurde. Exil

Auf Intervention eines Verwandten beim Chef der Abwehr, Admiral Canaris, erreichte die Abwehrstelle München seine Freilassung. Von dieser erhielt er Reisepapiere, mit denen er 1939 in Großbritannien eintraf. Hier trat er angeblich zum Katholizismus über. Beim britischen Geheimdienst MI5 existierte bereits seit 1920 eine Akte über ihn (Az. KV 2/2429), allerdings war man unschlüssig, wie mit Borchardt zu verfahren sei, der sich dem Secret Service als „jüdischer Anti-Nazi“ andiente: „[E]s ist vielleicht das erste gesicherte Beispiel eines feindlichen Agenten, der dieses Land als jüdischer Flüchtling betritt.“ Er wurde nicht interniert oder in seiner Bewegungsfreiheit eingeschränkt und man vermutete, ihm sei wegen seiner nichtjüdischen Frau eine Rückkehr angeboten worden.[2]

1940 reiste Borchardt in die USA und bot auch hier seine Dienste an. Als Kontaktperson „Robert“ fand man ihn im März 1941 im deutschen Notizbuch des Majors Ulrich von der Osten, den die „Abwehr I H West“ unter dem Decknamen „Don Julio Lopez Lido“ als Boten der spanischen Botschaft in die USA entsandt hatte und der bei einem Autounfall auf dem Broadway verstorben war. Als kurz vor Kriegseintritt der USA das deutsche Generalkonsulat in New York seine Akten im Kamin verbrannte, sicherte ein Pförtner, der für das FBI arbeitete, einen Teil für seinen Auftraggeber. Aus den Unterlagen wurde Borchardt als das Mitglied „Robert“ des Spionagerings Joe K um Kurt Frederick Ludwig identifiziert. Beim Auffliegen des Rings war die British Security Coordination entscheidend tätig. Am 13. März 1942 wurde Borchardt durch das U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wegen Konspiration und Spionage „vor dem Kriegszustand“ anstatt zum Tode zu 20 Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt.

Borchardt sprach mehrere Sprachen fließend und hatte als Mitglied der Royal Geographical Society zahlreiche Bekannte in den USA. Er verschwieg im Prozess die Namen der deutschen Offiziere, die ihm aus dem KZ und zur Flucht verholfen hatten. Mit Unterstützung des Auswärtigen Amtes bewirkte ein ehemaliger Offizier der Abwehr München nach dem Krieg Borchardts vorzeitige Freilassung und eine Rente.[3] Publikationen

   Ein Kommentar zu dem Werke Die entschleierte Isis von H. P. Blavatsky. Theosophisches Verlagshaus Dr. Hugo Vollrath, Leipzig o.J. [1910] (56 Seiten).
   Platos Insel Atlantis – Versuch einer Erklärung, mit 3 Skizzen und 2 Karten. In: Dr. A. Petermann's Mitteilungen aus Justus Perthes Geographischer Anstalt. Jg. 73, Heft 7/8, 1927, S. 19–32 und Tafel 3.
   Nordafrika und die Metallreichtümer von Atlantis. In: Dr. A. Petermann's Mitteilungen aus Justus Perthes' Geographischer Anstalt. Jg. 73, 1927, S. 280–282.


   Helmut Roewer, Stefan Schäfer, Matthias Uhl: Lexikon der Geheimdienste im 20. Jahrhundert. Herbig, München 2003, ISBN 3-7766-2317-9, S. 73 ff.


Winfried Meyer: Unternehmen Sieben. Eine Rettungsaktion für vom Holocaust Bedrohte aus dem Amt Ausland/Abwehr im Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. Hain, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-445-08571-4, S. 201. [1] Gert Buchheit: Der deutsche Geheimdienst. List, München 1966.

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Paul Theodor Borchardt's Timeline

July 23, 1886
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
September 29, 1957
Age 71
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Bavaria, Germany