Ebrulf Zuber (alias Ackermann) was a former Waffen-SS member, who after WWII was recruited into the German foreign secret service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) with the assistance of US intelligence.
A detailed biography in English is contained in his declassified personnel file,1 containing around 350 documents.2 In recent years finally some light has been shed on the activities of Zuber by German historians. Biographical details of Zuber have been included in a publication by the "Independent Historians Commission" (Unabhängige Historikerkommission) appointed by the German government.3^
Ebrulf "Zuber was born on 28 March 1920 in Petersburg (now Petrograd) near Karlovy Vary, Kreis Saaz, Czechoslovakia, where his father, a German national, was an estate manager. He was educated in Czechoslovakia, graduating from the Realgymnasium, Kreis Saaz, in 1939."1 Until 1938 Zuber had been a functionary of various völkish associations in the Sudetenland.3 After its annexation in 1938, Zuber became a functionary of the Hitler Youth, reaching the rank of Gefolgschaftsführer,3 and at the outbreak of World War II Zuber was drafted for the Reichsarbeitdienst ("Reich Labour Service").1 In 1940, he joined the Leibstandarte (1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler), the "personal bodyguards" of Adolf Hitler.3 After attending an officer training course he became a trainer there.3 He was wounded in a training accident in 1941 and hospitalized until 1942, when he changed to the Germanische Leitstelle, where he tried to recruit Belgians and Dutch for the Waffen-SS, as he was disabled for front service.3
The Germanische Leitstelle was a department (Amt VI (Foreign Intelligence))1 of the SS-Hauptamt under the command of Obergruppenführer Gottlob Berger. It oversaw the recruitment and propaganda offices for the Waffen SS in Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels and The Hague. Reactivated at the end of 1944, Zuber took part in the fights on the Eastern Front in the III Germanic Armoured Corps of the Waffen-SS until the Battle of Berlin, at last as SS-Obersturmführer.3 "Declared fit for duty in October 1944, he became Aide to SS-General Steiner, and in January 1945 as an SS-First Lieutenant, was assigned as C.O. of Headquarters Company of the Norwegian SS Regiment 'Norge.'"1 Captured by Soviet troops in May 1945 in Berlin, he assumed a false identity, which he only relinquished in American custody. He was sent to various PW camps subsequently. His CIA biography mentions Landsberg/Warthe, Lithuania, Heydekrug/Meml, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia. Considered a Czechoslovakian he was released by the Soviets to Camp Motol, near Prague, but was expelled to Germany as a Sudeten-Deutscher in November 1946. In December 1946, he was captured by US forces in Heilbronn/Neckar, and subsequently interned in various PW camps. The UHK publication mentions the camps in Ludwigsburg and Kornwestheim.1
He was released in June 1947 to accept recruitment by the Gehlen Org, the predecessor organisation of the BND, with the assistance of the US Army unit responsible for the Org. According to the UHK,
"Zuber was recruited directly from the camp in June 1947 through his friend Friedrich Sturz. Zuber and Sturz had been active together in the SS troop houses (SS-Mannschaftshäuser), an SS student organization, and had met again in the Kornwestheim internment camp. Sturz was able to establish a connection to Brieland, which organized Zuber's dismissal and recruitment via Wondrak. Zuber returned the favor to Sturz, and after his dismissal in April 1948 ensured that Sturz was also hired.
Being hired by the Gehlen Org, enabled Zuber to escape denazification.3
According to his personal file, a later denazification was not necessary, "because he had already belonged to the predecessor organization of the BND and there was an agreement between the organization and the American authorities that formal denazification procedures should generally not be carried out."
Zuber would first come to work in the Dienststelle 120 ("Department 120"), "one of about 15 large external organisations in which information gathering was organised in 1948." According to the UHK publication,3
"It was established in January 1947 by Hermann Wondrak and was concerned with information procurement from Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) of Germany. Wondrak came from Reichenberg in the Sudetenland. The fact that he was active as an agent for a German secret service in 1938 in preparation for the invasion of the Sudetenland suggests his involvement in völkish associations. Since 1940 he belonged to the Waffen-SS and since 1943 to the Security Service of the SS (SD). Until the end of the war, he headed the SD branch office in his home town of Reichenberg, which belonged to the SD-Leitabschnitt Reichenberg. His last rank was SS-Untersturmführer. Since September 1946 in the organization Gehlen, he belonged to its founding generation.
Wondrak initially hired a typist for the new external organisation: Erika van Brieland [Zuber's later wife]. She had already been his typist at SD Reichenberg from 1943 to 1945. Wondrak also recruited operational staff for his office from among his former comrades-in-arms. Erhard Marschner, who had been active as an "old Sudeten German fighter" in the administration of the Reich Protectorate until 1945, made the contacts. Marschner was hired second by Wondrak. In 1947, there were three more: SS-Ober Sturmführer Wilhelm Richter, who had headed the culture department at SD Reichenberg and now became Wondrak's deputy, Fritz Klein and Gerhard Undeutsch. The professional biography of the latter is still a desideratum. These men belonged to the older generation (G1), if one classifies them in the generation model designed by Christoph Rass...
In September 1948, a total of 15 employees worked at the Dienststelle 120. No information is available on five persons. Among the others were:
- six employees of the SD Reichenberg,
- one employee of the Administration of the Reich Protectorate,
- two officers of the Waffen-SS, one of them an employee of the Germanische Leitstelle
- one member of the Gestapo.
Thus, about half of Hermann Wondrak's field organization was made up of former SD Reichenberg employees. From networks of former activists in national associations in the Sudetenland and through private acquaintances, the staff was extended to other milieus with Nazi backgrounds. Once the floodgates had been opened for people with a distinguished career in the Third Reich, more encumbered men were brought in."
In 1950 Wondrak moved to the BND headquarters in Pullach near Munich, and Zuber took over the management of the Dienststelle 120, for which he hired at least two more SD Reichenberg employees: in October 1951, Anneliese Richter, who from summer 1944 to May 1945 worked as a secretary for the SD Reichenberg, and Erwin Mittich, recruited by Ernst Worm in 1952, who had also been with the Reichenberg SD from 1940 to 1945.3
"Due to his affiliation to the Waffen-SS, Zuber also recruited in this milieu, e.g. Hans-Dieter Schliack. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at a national political educational institution (Napola) in Berlin-Spandau and in 1937 worked for the Waffen-SS. From 1940 to 1942 he belonged to the SS division Das Reich, then to other SS units. In May 1945 he was Hauptsturmfuhrer and battalion commander. Living under a false name for several years after the war, he worked as a businessman until Zuber recruited him in 1961 out of camaraderie, although Schliack had no intelligence experience whatsoever."3
Zuber's CIA biography details his various subsequent roles within the BND:1
"He served in various field offices on duty, becoming chief of the BND office in Ulm in 1956, and chief of the BND office in Augsburg in 1960. His principal experience has been in the field of positive operations targeted against the Soviet Zone. He was qualified for activities against Satellite targets owing to his educational background and knowledge of the Czechoslovakian language.
Under Zuber's leadership, the Dienststelle 120 created the field office "Department Divan" (Dienststelle Diwan):3
"The 'Diwan' office was a branch of Zuber's service unit operating from West Berlin in the GDR. In 1960, seven persons belonged to its staff. Its head from 1957 to 1963 was Wolfgang Otto. After graduating from high school, he had voluntarily joined the SS-Totenkopf associations at Napola Dresden. As a member of the 1st SS-Totenkopf-Standarte Oberbayern, he was involved in guarding prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp during external work assignments. After training as an officer, he joined the SS-Division Das Reich, where he last held the rank of Hauptsturmführer in the Division Staff. In the post-war period, he lived under changing identities and was sought by the Allies because of his involvement in various Nazi conspiracies. Although he was on the wanted list, he worked from 1947 to 1949 as an agent for the American secret service CIC. He later became an official of HIAG. In 1955 Otto von Karl Kreutz, also of the SS-Division Das Reich and since 1951 in the organization Gehlen, was proposed as an employee and hired in 1956 at Zuber's instigation."
Subsequently "Zuber assumed responsibility for the operational security of the entire BND in Munich in 1963 and for the BND machine records program in 1964."1
Zuber's CIA biography calls him "intelligent, conscientious, loyal to his organization, in general well-suited to his position," and in April 1965 acquired a top US security clearance:1
"Though described as pompous and bureaucratic by some, he is pro-American and maintains good working relations with his American counterparts. He has been married since October 1949 Erica née van Brieland, born in 1914 in Berlin, and they are known to have at least one child. Zuber was cleared for US Top Secret and COSMIC information in April 1965."
- FOIA documents relating to Ebrulf Zuber (352 documents)
- 1. a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. "SUBJECT: Visit of a Member of the West German Intelligence Service to the United States," declassified document, Central Intelligence Agency, April 8, 1966, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/ZUBER, EBRULF VOL. 1_0039.pdf.
- 2. Search results for "Ebrulf Zuber" in the Central Intelligence Agency Library, https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/zuber.
- 3. a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. j. k. l. Christoph Rass, "Leben und Legende. Das Sozialprofil eines Geheimdienstes," In: Die Geschichte der Organisation Gehlen und des BND 1945–1968: Umrisse und Einblicke, Unabhängige Historikerkommission zur Erforschung der Geschichte des Bundesnachrichtendienstes 1945–1968, conference protocols, December 2, 2013, http://www.uhk-bnd.de/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/UHK-BND_Bd2_online-12.pdf.