By FOIA Research
on April 18, 2019 - Last updated: December 23, 2020

Investigative Committee of Free Jurists (TPEMBER, CADROIT)

The CIA project CADROIT (1949-55), formerly TPEMBER, "subsidized and guided" the activities of the Investigative Committee of Free Jurists (Untersuchungsausschuss freiheitlicher Juristen, UfJ), active in East and West Germany.1 Ostensibly a grassroots organization of jurists dedicated to expose human rights breaches in the GDR, the UfJ was in fact a CIA front operation with a rather large spectrum of activities. On June 25, 1969, the UfJ was integrated into the federal government as the "All-German Institute" (Gesamtdeusches Institut) of the "Federal Institute for All-German Affairs" (Bundesanstalt für gesamtdeutsche Aufgaben).2

The UfJ grew out of a one-man-operation run by a certain Horst Erdmann, a fraudster who appeared under the pseudonym "Dr. Theo Friedenau." Erdmann served as the head of a committee headquartered in West Berlin, which quickly developed into an active organization with a 75-strong staff. Additionally, the organization had around 2000 East German covert contacts at its command, many from legal professions or governmental positions.1

It is said that Henry Hecksher had the idea to found the UfJ. According to David Murphy et al., chief of the Berlin Operation Base, Hecksher had recruited Horst Erdmann, to establish the organisation, who operated as a lawyer in Belzig under his pseudonym and fictitious credentials as a lawyer.3

On the other hand, the later deputy leader of the UfJ, Siegfried Mampel, is convinced that Horst Erdmann must be seen as the initiator for the foundation of the UfJ.4

Tim Weiner in his Magnum Opus Legacy of Ashes describes the situation as follows:

"On the same day that Dulles was speaking at the Princeton Inn, Henry Hecksher was writing a heartfelt plea to CIA headquarters. For years, Hecksher, soon to become chief of the Berlin base, had cultivated a unique agent inside East Germany, Horst Erdmann, who ran an impressive organization called the Free Jurists' Committee. The Free Jurists were an underground group of young lawyers and paralegals challenging the communist regime in East Berlin. They compiled dossiers on the crimes committed by the state. An International Congress of Jurists was set to convene in West Berlin in July 1952, and the Free Jurists could play an important political part on a world stage."5

With the help of the CIA, the UfJ "conducted extensive propaganda campaigns in East Germany based mainly on information from East German informants to expose illegal actions breaches of justice and acts of inhumanity committed and tolerated by authorities in East Germany."1

From 1950 onward, the UfJ published information letters, from 1952 documentations and from 1953 regular reports on human rights violations. Since 1961 it published the encyclopedia SBZ-Biografie, the "biography" of the Soviet-occupied zone. The UfJ and especially the Aid Committee of Political Prisoners in the Soviet Zone, a sub-organization of the UfJ, maintained contacts to the human rights organization Amnesty International since 1960. The first human rights report by Amnesty International in 1966 about political prisoners in the GDR was produced with the support of the UfJ.6

The UfJ kept meticulous dossiers on GDR citizens and functionaries. After ten years of UfJ activity in 1959, these files comprised around 100,000 persons. On the basis of the collected information, the UfJ wrote indictments in leaflet form about the state leadership and high state officials. A total of 26 to 30 such indictments with a circulation of 10,000 copies were published.7 In addition, "warning lists" that  wared of persons from all occupational groups were distributed. Threatening letters were sent to persons considered by the UfJ to be close to the GDR system. With thin information available, these letters were formulated very unspecifically.8

A certain Helmut Casemir was also involved in the project, of whose CIA file hitherto 321 documents have been released.9

International Congress of Jurists in Berlin

Out of the UfJ-sponsored International Congress of Jurists in Berlin, founded in 1952, grew the International Commission of Jurists in The Hague, "which was supported by the CIA in the framework of project QKFEARFUL."1


CADROIT also included the sub-project CADROWN, a paramilitary stay-behind organization established in East Germany, trained for activation during wartime. Although Wisner is not mentioning CADROWN by name, when he described the following scenario:

"[Frank] Wisner wanted to take control of the Free Jurists and turn them into an armed underground. Hecksher protested. These men were sources of intelligence, he argued, and if they were forced into a paramilitary role, they would become cannon fodder. He was overruled. Wisner's officers in Berlin selected one of General Reinhard Gehlen's officers to transform the group into a fighting force made up of three-man cells. But every member of every cell they created knew the identity of every other member of every other cell—a classic lapse in security. After Soviet soldiers kidnapped and tortured one of their leaders on the eve of the international conference, every one of the CIA's Free Jurists was arrested."10


  • Search results for "CADROIT" on the CIA website

Works in German

  • Frank Hagemann, Der Untersuchungsausschuss Freiheitlicher Juristen 1949 bis 1969, Lang, Frankfurt a. M., 1994, ISBN 3-631-47716-3.
  • Frank Hagemann, "Die Drohung des Rechts" – Der Kampf des Untersuchungsausschusses Freiheitlicher Juristen," Unrecht überwinden–SED-Diktatur und Widerstand, 1996, ISBN 3-931575-17-9,
  • Norbert Pötzl, "Der Kampf der Systeme: Töricht und tödlich." Spiegel, Juli 29, 2008,
  • Friedrich-Wilhelm Schlomann, Mit Flugblättern und Anklageschriften gegen das SED-System. Die Tätigkeit der Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit (KgU) und des Untersuchungsausschusses freiheitlicher Juristen der Sowjetzone (UfJ), Der Landesbeauftragte für Mecklenburg-Vorpommern für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der Ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, Schwerin 1998.
  • "Drohung mit Recht," Der Spiegel Nr. 16, April 16, 1952,
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