Capt Hans W L Boehm


Hans Walther Luigi Boehm: Born 25 January 1873 at Altkirch in Alsace.

Boehm was an operative of Dept IIIb of the German General Staff. Abteilung IIIb was the department within the General Staff with responsibility for Intelligence, Press, Propaganda and defence against enemy espionage activities. Its head throughout the war was Oberstleutnant Walter Nicolai. Hans Boehm was a high level German spy. One can see from his FBI file that they checked his movements from 1904, and the checking of his movements in the USA during WW1 were obsessive. Boehm controlled large sums of money, for which the Americans never really found out their destinations.

He was assigned by the German High Command to assist Casement while he was in Germany. Casement spoke no German and it was felt that Boehm, who was married to an American and had several Irish friends, would be suitable. However when one looks at the bigger picture and Boehm's subsequent dispatch to the USA, it would appear that the Irish Brigade was a minor part of Boehm's work, designed to get him contacts with the Irish-American network via Casement.

German Wikipedia gives that in 1915 Dept III b was divided into three main divisions, which were grouped under the umbrella of the "Chef III b". However it is difficult to find out their exact role, but Military sabotage appears to have been one of their roles.

Berlin’s July 1914 instructions to its ambassador to the United States, Johann von Bernstorff, placed the Western Hemisphere under Abteilung IIIb responsibility. When the war broke out, Major Nicolai oversaw “about 90 officers and military civil servants” in the “rear branch of IIIb” in Berlin that had both intelligence and counterintelligence duties. In July 1914, the German ambassador to the US, Johann Heinrich Count von Bernstorff, had been summoned to Berlin nine days after the Sarajevo assassination for secret consultations with Abteilung IIIB, which gave him responsibility for espionage, sabotage, propaganda and arms purchases in the Americas. Sometime during 1915, the German military intelligence office in Berlin underwent a reorganization that changed Abteilung IIIb from a sub-division to an independent division. Major Nicolai wrote that this change was a mere formality to mirror the independent status his organization had achieved since the war started, and that he was already receiving the pay of a regimental commander, as was appropriate in such cases.

IIIb had massive competition from the Naval Intelligence Service and the intelligence operations of the Foreign Office. Apparently by the end of WW1, Dept IIIb developed under its last boss, Walter Nicolai, into a kind of secret police. Apparently never before had a German intelligence department held such influence in the German Reich.

1903 Mar 24. He retired from active service

1903 Jul 27 Ellis Island record of the arrival of a H W Boehm on S S Minneapolis from London to New York. He is a 25 year old importer

1904 Jan 1. Boehm arrives in Hoboken NJ from Germany on FBI records

1904 He left Hoboken NJ for Flat River,Montana

1904 Jan 18 On to Owl Creek, Montana where he worked a mine superintendent.

1904 Jun 1. Living in St Louis, Montana

1904 Nov. Moves to Chicago.

1905 Goes from Chicago to Strandenburg, Montana

1905 Employed as a labourer in Weinhard Brewery in Portland, Oregon, later he was a Steward at the exclusive Arlington Club, and after that an expert accountant at the Good Samaritan Hospital.

1906 Sep 25 His Declaration of Intention in Oregon USA in FBI records

1909 Hans Boehm marries Helen Willis in Multnomah County, Oregon, USA. She died in 1966 and was buried at Riddle Cemetery, Douglas County, Oregon, as was her son Carl in 2001.

1910 Census in USA at 1077 East Washington Street, Portland, Oregon . Hans W L Boehm (born in Germany c1873 and arrived in the US 1904), his American born wife Helen (born Oregon c1886) and two month old son Carl. Hans was a hotel cashier

1910 census

1914 Feb. Boehm is reinstated in the German army according to US Military Intelligence

1914 Aug 17. He writes to von Pappen offering his services

1914 Sep 8. He puts his furniture into store in Portland Oregon. Obviously expecting to be away some time.

1914 Oct . Boehm and Joseph Woerndle head from Oregon to New York

1914 Oct 14. Boehm writes to A E Bult in Portland, from NY saying he was leaving for Germany that night. He appears to have left USA using a passport that was sent to his colleague Joseph Woerndle to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on Oct 9th.

1914 Oct . Boehm returns to Europe

1914 Dec 10. A letter places Boehm in Rotterdam, and is about to return to New York. He presumably is still using the Joseph Woerndle passport. He also sent a letter to Katz in Oregon giving an address of 100-111 Kurfurstendamm in Berlin

1914 Dec Boehm returns to New York

1914 Dec 24, Boehm registers in Biltmore Hotel, New York, where his wife and two children are staying

1915 Jan 9. FBI say that an account for $50,000 for "special purposes" was made available to Boehm by Von Pappen in a New York Bank

1915 Jan 21. Boehm checks out of Biltmore Hotel. He must have left the USA for Germany soon after this, as he is back in Berlin by sometime in Feb

1915 Jan Feb Boehm returns to Germany

1915 Feb 22. Boehm writes a card from Rotterdam to Katz in Oregon, giving a Kampinski, Berlin address

1915 Feb Boehm met Casement in Berlin end Feb 1915. Casement was still in the process of trying to form the brigade from the men at Limburg. Casement came to rely on Boehm to help form the brigade. They continued to meet and correspond until Boehm was sent to America in September 1915.

1915 Mar 2. Boehm writes in a departmental memo "Anthony Brogan (and possibly I too) must go to Ireland very soon for the purpose of reconnaissance, establishment of contacts, preparation and reporting"

1915 Mar Boehm return to USA

1915 Mar 3 to Mar 28. He must have returned to USA by the beginning of March as the FBI list a number of meetings that Boehm had in the USA

1915 Mar 17. Kavanagh claims he saw John Kenny (IRB New York) and Capt Boehm in the camp, and that Devoy spoke to him

1915 Mar 31. British Intelligence place Boehm in London (using the name Woerndle) with Brogan

1915 Apr 8. Casement asks Nadolny to send Boehm to Limburg. He writes to Boehm. If Boehm goes, Casement hopes that 'things could be put straight - without you I am sure they cannot and shall drop the whole proceedings'.

1915 Apr 10. Letter from Casement, Berlin, to Boehm, referring to a conversation he had with the corporals at the Limburg camp which convinced him that 'there is no doubt the Brigade can be formed' as long as Boehm is involved. 'If you can get permission to make the attempt I'm safe in assuring you it will succeed' and urging that 'a decision should be come to at once as the matter loses by delay'.

1915 Apr 10 Another letter from Casement, Berlin, to Boehm, referring to the '(essential) conditions stated by the three corporals now in Berlin. These requests of theirs should be complied with'. He tells Boehm to go with Keogh to Limburg to evict the 'undesirables' and to attempt to form A Company without delay; and recommends that Fr. Crotty (one of the priests at Limburg) should say something as 'it would have an enormous effect. The men all love him and follow him like sheep'.

1915 Apr 24 Casement again write to Boehm telling him that nothing has yet happened, the interviewing for Irish Brigade recruits has not yet started.

The German authorities dispatched Captain Boehm to investigate events at Limburg and in his report to the General Staff, Boehm alludes to poor discipline amongst the Irish prisoners who refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Irish Brigade NCOs. In a POW debrief, Scanlan says that one of the Irish brigade NCOS, “unteroffizier Bailey" formerly of the Royal Irish Regiment, was surrounded by Irish prisoners who knocked him to the ground and kicked him. The Germans came to his rescue and we were punished”

1915 early May. The three men, Keogh, Quinlisk and Dowling, drove to a big tailoring establishment, accompanied by Boehm and Casement, to be measured for their new Irish Brigade uniforms, which were ready for them by the time they returned to Limburg.

1915 Jun 18. Casement accompanies Plunkett and Father Nicholson for Plunkett and Nicholson to say goodbye to the men. Nicholson was returning to New York, and Plunkett to Ireland. Plunkett, Boehm and Casement meet to discuss progress. Quinlisk says that Casement's position at this point was that "he was not wholly dissatisfied at the progress we had made, and in fact told us that the nucleus of the Brigade was all that he needed in order to convince the Imperial Government "

1915 Jul 3. Letter from Casement at the U.S. Consulate General, Munich, to Boehm, referring to letters from the three corporals remaining at Limburg to continue to recruit, and imploring Boehm to 'lay them before the officer in the General Staff charged with this matter'. He hopes that 'no further time will be lost in carrying out the promises made to the men who have already volunteered' in order to encourage further recruits. If no progress is made the result will be 'a triumph for the enemy'.

1915 Aug 10. Boehm recommends various NCO appointments to Casement. These appear to be first Official appointments

1915 Sep 16. The Militärwochenblatt publishes his promotion to Hauptmann a.D. with a Patent.

1915 Sep 18. Boehm tells Casement that he will be leaving the Irish Brigade, and that he will no longer be able to deal with Corporal O'Mahoney's case (seems to be a court martial)

1915 Sep 24. A letter from the German liaison officer, Capt H Boehm, to the General Staff deals with complaints by Sgt Keogh of the Irish Brigade. Boehm believes "The Irish are housed in a very good, very well furnished barrack is good and plentiful...As a consequence of various transgressions it has been found necessary to tighten up on discipline...Sending them to work has been considered impractical because of the unreliability and lack of discipline of the men"

1915 Sep. Boehm departs for USA. Before he went he had discussions with General Staff about interruptions to the Canadian railroad system. Such sabotage was designed " to prevent Japanese and other war transports". German naval intelligence decided to make an effort to hire Irishmen in the United States for placing explosives aboard British ships. Agent Hans Boehm recruited Irishman Anthony J. Brogan for sabotage work. According to Boehm, Brogan was ‘ready for anything’ and ‘hates England’.

1915 Oct 15. Boehm leaves Germany for USA. Mrs Boehm says that she saw him for the last time for a long time

1915 Oct 18 Casement writes to Mrs Boehm from Hotel Baseler Hof, Prannerstrasse 11, Munich, thanking her for the cards and cuttings she had sent. He hopes that she has heard that her husband's ship left Kirkwall [Orkney Islands] safe and sound with him on board. Please let me know when you have any news. He had two or three letters for me'.

1915 Nov 1. Mrs Boehm writes to her mother in USA saying that her husband had been award the Iron Cross that day

The award shown in a later portrait of Boehm is a Prussian Iron Cross I Class one. Criteria for the I Class award was the II Class must be won first, in extreme cases the two awards could be made simultaneous on paper, with only the First Class being worn in Civil / Evening attire. The other award seen in the picture is Spanish.

1915 Dec FBI record that Boehm and MRS J L Thrasher went to Chicago using the alias "Harry Blake". He then left her and went further west to Salem, Oregon.

1915 Dec 30. Casement writes to Mrs Boehm welcoming the news of her husbands arrival in USA

1915 Dec 31. Boehm takes an apartment in Chicago with Mrs Thrasher (Boehm using the alias of Harry Blake)

1916 Jan 3. Zimmerman telegram below, published

1916 Boehm works in USA as a spy. Military Intelligence Centre at 60 Wall Street, operated under the direction of von Pappen's successor, Wolf von Igel. Among payments on the account of the German Intelligence Centre in New York, the account showed that four sums, aggregating $4,000, were paid to Pyajn (Boehm) between March 20, 1916, and June 10, 1916. Zimmermann's coded telegram of April 3, 1915, ordering the destruction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was mentioned that "Captain Boehm who is well known in America and who will shortly return to that country is furnished with expert information on that subject." Boehm was only one of the numerous secret agents who were sent direct to the United States by the German Government with specific instructions to bring about explosions or in other ways cause the destruction of munitions of war intended for the Allies.

1916 Jan 5. Boehm pays Biltmore Hotel bill from Dec 30 to Jan 5

1916 Feb. He returns to Chicago

1916 Feb 7. Soon after this date, Boehm has a meeting in Salem, Oregon with a group of Germans

1916 Feb 15. Boehm back in New York City

1916 Mar He has a succession of meetings with Miss Paltz

1916 Apr 23. Boehm had a meeting in Astor Hotel, New York with an Eric Theurar

1916 May. FBI record him being in the Catskill Mountains with Mrs J L Thrasher.

1916 Jun 16. Boehm leaves USA for Holland on the SS Rijndam, and from there on to Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Grenada, Vigo and elsewhere. He uses alias and passport of J L Thrasher (the FBI did not believe that the real J L Thrasher was involved in this passport fraud).

1916 Aug 11. Boehm writes to Miss Floral Paltz

1916 Sep 5. Miss Paltz gets letter from Boehm postmarked Madrid

1916 Dec 8. Boehm sends Zorn cable saying "Start next week for the Philippines"

1916 Dec 22. Boehm gets Thrasher passport extended by US consul in Madrid

1917 Jan 3. Boehm leaves Vigo, Spain to return to Germany

falmout arrest


Intercepted FBI evidence

1917 Jan 9. Boehm taken of SS. Zeelandia in Falmouth. The ship was bound for Holland from Spain and diverted by the Royal Navy. Part of her cargo had been seized in Falmouth and was put up for auction by the British authorities. The Zeelandia appears to have proceeded to Amsterdam, and there she turned round for a new voyage to Buenos Aires, but was prevented by increased German submarine activity.

There is an FBI file on Boehm, but it's very difficult to read and does not mention his eventual fate, but it does contain partial transcripts of his interviews/interrogations in Britain. On the 12 January 1917 he was interrogated at New Scotland Yard by A.C.C., Lord Herschell and Major Hall

Basil Thomson interrogated him in January 1917 and writes in his book "Queer People", an American boasting the name of Jelks Leroy Thrasher was found on board the Dutch passenger steamer Zeelandia when she put into Falmouth on her way to Holland. Mr. Thrasher was a young, clean-shaven man who had something about him of military courtesy, which scarcely accorded with the account that he was prepared to give of himself. For this reason he was asked to land, and sent to me for an interview. He had quite a marked American accent, and yet there was something about it that did not quite carry conviction. After the usual caution he became even more communicative than before, and was ready to tell me every detail of his past life from his very earliest years. There was something quite uncanny about his memory. He could describe the colour of people's hair whom he could have known only when he was just out of the perambulator. He was never at a loss for a name, and his elaborate description of Quitman, Georgia, where he said he had passed his early life, would have astonished the residents of that little-known centre. There were, of course, a few discrepancies, and as the examination proceeded he began to show uneasiness. I said at last, * Do you know, you are not telling your story very well.' He looked concerned and bowed from the waist. I said, * Your accent is not quite American, though it is a very good imitation.' He again bowed, as before, from the waist.

What I wanted was a name to put to him, and so we adjourned for luncheon to consider what Germans were at the moment loose upon the world on unlawful pursuits. It happened that about this time the German Government had had occasion to send a direct messenger to New York in connection with the negotiations for landing arms in Ireland, and it was intended, no doubt, that the messenger should afterwards proceed to Holland in the guise of an American. The officer's name was known to be Captain Hans Boehm. There were several other Germans wandering about, but as this man seemed the most likely I thought I would try him first. After luncheon Mr. Thrasher resumed his seat, and I again referred unkindly to his American accent, which I pointed out to him was too laboured for an American. At last I said, " You are not doing this well, Captain Boehm.' He looked surprised, but said nothing. * No, Captain Boehm, you are not doing it well.' He smiled and again bowed from the waist. I said, * Take, for example, your bow. No American bows like that.' He laughed and bowed again, and, as he made no objection to being called Captain Boehm, I said, * Perhaps I am not quite fair. You had a very difficult part to play, and you played it better than any German officer who has yet sat in that chair/ That pleased him, and after a little pressing he told me most of his story. He was the son of an official in Alsace, was well-educated, and had spent a good deal of his life in America. During 1916 he was commanding a battery of artillery near Wytschaete, in Flanders, and, on account of his reputation as an American, he had been taken out of the line to be employed upon a special mission. He was now on his way back. He would tell me nothing about the nature of his employment that we knew from another source but he did admit that he had met Roger Casement while in Germany. It afterwards appeared that there had been a man of the name of Jelks Leroy Thrasher in Quitman, Georgia, but he was dead. Probably the passport was one of those that had been retained by the German Government on the pretence that it had been lost at the Foreign Office when sent thither for a visa. Captain Boehm was treated as a military prisoner, and told that as soon as his uniform arrived he would be treated as an interned officer. He wrote to his friends from Brixton on 17th January 1917 saying : ' I wish to emphasise that the treatment meted out to me right throughout has been very good.

Donington Hall

1917 After initial interrogation he was transferred to Donington Hall POW camp. The camp was for officers only, and therefore it was very well guarded. It had two 6ft high barbed wire fences. These also had an electrified wire running around the inner fence, deep and complicated wire entanglements in between the fences. There was an outer Guardhouse overlooking the main road, and the nearest town and railway station was a few miles away. The camp itself had a low height watch tower, a few searchlights, and open country, except for the trees surrounding the estate. Donington Hall was formerly a stately home. (It is now the HQ of British Midland Airways.) The officers were housed in the main building, and their servants had quarters in the wooden huts.

1917 Oct 16. FBI files indicate that he was again at Scotland Yard when Mr Thomson, Captain Hall, Lord Herschell, Major Carter and Major Becke were present. The full FBI file is here - it appears to be carbon copies, so was perhaps stolen from the British. The interrogation notes say very little.

1918 Apr 18. A letter was written to Fred Hesse in Oregon "Please see to it that storage for my furniture is paid" Schudam, Hotel Odeon, Holland

A collection of Boehm/Casement letters was deposited in UCD Archives in April 1995 by Karl Boehm-Tettelbach of Köln, Germany. Karl Boehm-Tettelbach, a WW2 German fighter pilot who was born in the USA He served on Hitler's staff before going on to a management position with Pan Am as Pan-Am Manager in Berlin. This Karl was the son of Hans Boehm, who changed his name to Boehm-Tettelbach soon after the end of WW1.

1921.Hans Boehm, later Boehm-Tettelbach, worked as manager for Kronprinz-Werke in Immigrath, later Solingen-Ohligs, where wheels were produced. In 1921 he was executive officer (kaufmännischer Leiter, Prokurist), in 1927 his position is "Generalbevollmächtigter" (general manager). In 1930/31 he was in the USA with Rudolf Kronenberg, one of the Kronprinz-founders.

1926 Hans Boehm and his brothers Alfred and Arthur changed the name in 1926 to Boehm-Tettelbach because of their grandmothers birth name Tettelbach. They wanted to save the name from extinction, because the name was connected to several family members which where significant in the protestant church of the 16/17th century and in art and music of the 17/18th century.

1928 Oct 26 Amongst the passengers of the SS Berengaria which arrived in New York was a 55 year old merchant, Hans Boehm-Tettelbach born in Altkirch, Germany. He was going to stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, New York. His last permanent residence was Immigrath, Germany and he was 5'10'' with grey hair and blue eyes. His next of kin in Germany was Frau H Boehm-Tettelbach, Immigrath, Niederrheim 33, Kronprinz St. He had previously been in the US in 1916.

1932 he became director (CEO) of the Immigrath factory and in 1936 he was sales director in Ohligs.

1938 Sept 12. Shortly before the intended putsch, Chief of General Staff General Halder instructed his confidante, Lieutenant-Colonel Hans W. Boehm-Tettelbach, to fly to London in order to apprise the British government of the planned coup, and to request their help. The message was given to Sir Robert Vansittart. Just before Chamberlain capitulated to Hitler, Halder — in an attempt to avoid war — discussed with several other generals the idea of removing Hitler from power. As regards his 'orders', he himself stated in the July 10, 1948 issue of the Rheinische Post: 'My orders were to request key members of the British Foreign Office to ensure the British government's rigid opposition to Hitler's demands. My principals wanted nothing more than the British government's decided 'no' to Hitler's expansionist endeavours.'

However, on September 29 Chamberlain gave in to Hitler’s demands, and Halder’s plot to remove Hitler died as peace had been preserved. Two days later, on October 1, German troops entered the Sudetenland.

At that time Hans Boehm-Tettelbach was not in military service. He knew Beck from his active service in "1. Oberelsässisches Feldartillerie-Regiment 15" in Straßburg. Halder and General Oster he knew from the "Stahlhelm" (Steel Helmet, League of Frontline Soldiers), where they discussed their view on national socialism.

1939. In the summer of 1939, Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Boehm-Tettelbach again visited London on the orders of Halder and Canaris.

1939 Nov. He was reactivated to the Wehrmacht and was responsible for accelerated delivery of key equipment in the northwest areas. He did this job from Ohligs, so he could continue his work for Kronprinz.

1944 Jan. His "Prokura" for Kronprinz was deleted, and until December 1944 he was busy on an agency contract.

1945. There is almost no information on how Boehm-Tettelbach survived the end of WW2. In a letter to his brother he wrote in September 1945, that he was in contact to the American troops within one hour after their invasion.

1954 July 20. On the 10th anniversary of the attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler inside his Wolf's Lair headquarters, Boehm-Tettelbach was invited to the official celebration in Berlin.

1959 Jul 15. He died in Düsseldorf and was buried in the grave of the family at Berlin Southwestern Cemetery in Stahnsdorf

hans boehm grave boehm's grave

Irish Brigade