Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel

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Einsiedel (second from the left) at the NKFD council in 1943

Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel (26 July 1921 – 18 July 2007) was a German journalist, politician, and World War II Luftwaffe ace.


Einsiedel, a great-grandson of Otto von Bismarck, was born in Potsdam, Province of Brandenburg, as the youngest child to Herbert von Einsiedel (1885–1945) and Irene von Bismarck-Schönhausen (1888–1982), his parents were divorced in 1931.

In World War II Einsiedel served as a German fighter pilot, initially with Jagdgeschwader 2 over the Western Front, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109, he took part in escort operations over the cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen as they made their 'Channel dash' from Brest to Germany in February 1942. von Einsiedel claimed two of the six Fairey Swordfish of No. 825 Squadron Fleet Air Arm, who made an unsuccessful low-level torpedo attack. On one occasion he was shot down and crash-landed near Rotterdam and was also shot down into the Channel and rescued. In June 1942 von Einsiedel was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 3 on the Russian Front for the forthcoming offensive against Stalingrad. Over the next six weeks, he claimed 33 Russian aircraft downed, including four Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers in the space of six minutes on 20 August.[citation needed] He was awarded the German Cross in Gold.[1]

On 30 August 1942, during combat with Russian 'Ratas', he was forced to land and was captured by Russian ground forces, becoming a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union; the Soviet authorities soon realised the pilot was a well-connected member of the German nobility and thus a potentially valuable propaganda weapon. On capture von Einsiedel refused to divulge any military intelligence to his captors, he finally agreed however to send an open letter home stating he was being treated correctly and that Germany was going to lose the war, and that his great-grandfather Otto von Bismarck, would never have invaded Russia.[citation needed]

He became a founding member, Vice-president and commissary of propaganda of the National Committee for a Free Germany[2] and led a propaganda unit which broadcast and distributed leaflets to German forces[citation needed].

Released after the war, von Einsiedel initially worked for the Tägliche Rundschau, the German newspaper of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany, but became increasingly disillusioned with the Soviet regime, experiencing at first hand the Russian corruption and inefficiency.[citation needed] He was given permission to visit West Berlin on behalf of the NKVD for intelligence gathering purposes. While meeting his mother he was arrested by US Forces and sentenced by an American court for spying and having forged documents, he was released on appeal. Despite a highly publicised press conference when back in the East, he was by now seen as a liability by the Soviet authorities.[citation needed]

He thus moved to West Germany in late 1948, where he worked as a translator, script-writer and journalist; the governing Socialist Unity Party of East Germany acknowledged von Einsiedel as a bonafide anti-fascist but a petit bourgeois who, "as soon as the class war became acute", had wavered and switched political camps for his own self interests.[citation needed]

von Einsiedel also wrote 'The Shadow of Stalingrad: Being the Diary of Temptation' in 1953, which attempted to tell his complex story. Eventually von Einsiedel joined the film industry, as a scriptwriter and a film soundtrack dubber, he also played the role of a pilot in the drama 'The Last Bridge' (1953) with his first wife, Barbara Rütting. He also wrote for the liberal Hamburg weekly, Die Zeit, he twice won the German bridge championship and played in the bridge World Cup.

Einsiedel was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1957 until 1992 and was elected as a member of the German Bundestag as a candidate of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) from 1994 until 1998.

Einsiedel died in Munich on 18 July 2007 aged 85.



  • Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel, Joachim Wieder: Stalingrad und die Verantwortung des Soldaten, ISBN 3-7766-1778-0 (German)
  • Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel: Tagebuch der Versuchung. 1942 - 1950, 1950; als Ullstein TB (1985): ISBN 3-548-33046-0 (German)
  • Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel: Der Überfall, Hoffmann und Campe 1984, ISBN 3-455-08677-2 (German)


Regarding personal names: Graf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname, it is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting; the feminine form is Gräfin.


  1. ^ Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X
  2. ^ spiegel.de Das Dilemma des Genossen Graf (German)

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