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JD, what can you tell us about Hanns Joachim Scharff?
Hanns Scharff - Master Interrogator
Hanns Scharff was primarily an American 8th and 9th Air Force Fighter pilot interrogator.  He was considered the best of the interrogators at Dulag Luft. He gained the reputation of magically getting all the answers he needed from the prisoners of war, often with the prisoners never realizing that their words, small talk or otherwise, were important pieces of the mosaic.  It is said he always treated his prisoners with respect and dignity and by using psychic not physical techniques, he was able to make them drop their guard and converse with him even though they were conditioned to remain silent.    One POW commented that "Hanns could probably get a confession of infidelity from a nun."   Hanns personally stepped into search for information that saved the lives of six US POWs when the SS wanted to execute them.  Many acts of kindness by Scharff to sick and dying American POWs are documented.  He would regularly visit some of the more seriously ill  POWs and arrange to make their accommodations more humane.  At one time the Luftwaffe was investigating him.  After the war, he was invited by the USAF to make speeches about his methods to military audiences in the US and he eventually moved to the United States.  General Jimmy Doolittle was one of the first to extend the hand of friendship to Hanns after the war, inviting him to a luncheon where they compared notes.  Later he was invited to the home of Col. Hub Zemke who thereafter would send Hanns what he called a "Red Cross Parcel" every Christmas.  And 38 years after he was Hanns "guest" at Dulag Luft - Oberursel, Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski was a guest of honor at Hanns 75th birthday party.  In the United States Scharff worked as a mosaic artist.  His works are on display in Cinderella's castle at Disney World.

Of course we must remember that Hanns was the exception at Dulag Luft and there were other interrogators that were nothing at all like Hanns, whose treatment of the prisoners was more of a physical and threatening nature.

 There is an excellent book written about Hanns called "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 04:49:42 PM EST
I really cannot comment since this is the first I've heard about the man.  What I can say is there is ahuge difference between WWII and the current day situation that I can comment on.  There have been lots of great discusions on WWII on this site, and I know that is a non-answer, but really, I can only discuss things with any credibility from my own experience, which is mostly based in Latin America.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"
by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Fri Dec 9th, 2005 at 05:04:53 PM EST
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