Werner Von Alvensleben

Werner von Alvensleben (Neugattersleben, July 4, 1875 – Bremen-Vegesack, June 30, 1947) was a German businessman and politician.

He was the second son of Werner Graf von Alvensleben-Neugattersleben (1840-1929) and Anna von Veltheim (1853-1897). His younger brother Bodo Graf von Alvensleben-Neugattersleben was later to become the president of the German Gentlemen’s Club (Deutscher Herrenklub). He joined the army after studying law, became second lieutenant in Infantry Regiment No. 24 and attended the War Academy in 1904–1905. He then resigned from military service, fell out with his father who disinherited him, and travelled to Vancouver, Canada. This is where his younger brother, Gustav Konstantin von Alvensleben, was already living, who had worked his way up from a simple workman to become a successful entrepreneur. In 1909 he married Alexandra Gräfin von Einsiedel (1888-1947). Three daughters, Alexandra, Armgard and Anna Caroline Harriet were born to this marriage, as well as a son named Werner. From this time on he worked as a businessman in export and financial transactions.

In World War I von Alvensleben was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class, later he became an Orderly Officer in the Gallwitz army group, aide-de-camp to Eichhorn, the commander-in-chief of the Ukraine, and finally personal aide-de-camp of the Kaiser with Pawel Skoporadski (1873-1945), supreme commander of Ukraine, in Kiev. In this capacity he championed independence for Ukraine.

After the war, von Alvensleben became increasingly involved in politics alongside his professional activities. Although he had been a member of the German Conservative Party before the war, he did not join a political party afterwards, preferring to work in the background above all. Nor did he belong to the gentlemen’s club of which his younger brother Bodo was the president. In June 1930 the ‘Deutsche Bund zum Schutz der abendländischen Kultur’ (German Federation to Protect Occidental Culture) was founded and he became its president. Its aim was to funnel all conservative energies into one comprehensive conservative party, planning to have a thorough reform of the ‘estates’ in the state and the economy. Politically he was a member of the inner circle surrounding the later German Reich defence minister and Reich Chancellor General Kurt von Schleicher, and also had close contact with the supreme army commander, Colonel General Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord.

After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, von Alvensleben belonged to the conservative opposition. He refused to swear the oath of allegiance to Hitler prescribed by law as he was a captain of the reservists. In connection with the so-called Röhm putsch and the murder of Schleicher on June 30, 1934, Hitler said in a speech to the Reichstag on July 13, 1934, ‘Röhm became connected with General von Schleicher through the mediation of a thoroughly corrupt swindler, a Mr. v A.’ By this he meant Werner von Alvensleben who was sentenced to several months’ imprisonment on June 30, 1934 but was not executed—as had actually been intended. When he was released he was ordered not to leave Neugattersleben unless he had permission from the Gestapo. Later on he had contact with Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Ludwig August Theodor Beck via Hammerstein and was—as Rudolf Pechel writes in his book ‘Deutscher Widerstand’ (German Resistance)—partially privy to the coup plans at the end of 1941. He had already been arrested and charged again for different reasons before July 20, 1944. At the trial before the Volksgerichtshof on February 1, 1945 it was not possible to prove that he had known about the assassination plans, but he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for defeatist statements made during a tea party in August 1943, whereby his age and failing health mitigated the punishment.

In April 1945 he was freed from Magdeburg prison by American troops. As Neugattersleben had since become part of the Soviet occupied zone, he went to live with his daughter in Bremen-Vegesack where he died on June 30, 1947.

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