Werner Dankwort

13 Aug 1895
19 Dec 1986
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Dr. Carl Werner Dankwort (August 13, 1895– December 19, 1986) born in Gumbinnen, East Prussia (now Gusev, Russia), was a German diplomat who served a major role in bringing Germany into the League of Nations in 1926prior to representing the German contingent in the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, the post-World War II effort known as the Marshall Plan.

He received a doctor of jurisprudence degree in 1920 from the University of Würzburg. After a brief time in civil law, he entered the German diplomatic service in 1922 as an attache in Switzerland. He was reassigned as consul to Zurich and shortly afterward to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1927. There he received the Swedish Cross of the Commander of the Order of Vasa. In 1932 and 1933, he participated in the World Disarmament Conference and opposed attempts by the National Socialist Party to infiltrate the Berne consulate in Switzerland. His opposition resulted in his reassignment to Triestwith no possibility for professional advancement. His previous knowledge of Sweden and his ability to speak the language led to him serving as first secretary for the German legation in Stockholm from 1938 to 1945. According to Erik Boheman (Cabinet Secretary at the Swedish Foreign Ministry), during this time he “saw as his main priority to put legation reporting in such a way that Sweden would avoid any German extreme measures”,helping Sweden to stay out of the war.

In 1945 he issued the German visa to Count Folke Bernadotte which enabled the Count to receive the request from Heinrich Himmler for an armistice.He agreed to serve as a witness for the allies at the Nuremberg Trials, but was instead incarcerated by the British in Mecklenburgfor 18 months without charges ever being brought against him. During this time he also took up painting

Dr. Dankwort rejoined the West German diplomatic corps in 1950 and was assigned as Consul General and then Ambassador to Canada in 1951, effectively restoring Germany’s relations with Canada after the war. From 1956 to 1958, he served as German Ambassador to Brazil, and finally as the West German Observer to the United Nations from 1958 to 1960. He died on December 19, 1986 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Werner Dankwort married Irma Salvisbergin 1938 and raised two sons, Rudolf, and Juergen. Werner and his wife both shared anti-Nazi sentiments and both had strong opinions opposing Hitler’s rule. The two of them moved to Sweden, which was a neutral country during World War II. They were part of an organization that helped Jewish children escape from Germany and into Sweden, without being discovered by the Gestapo .

Rudolf completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and post-graduate work in electrical engineering at Duke University in North Carolina. He married and settled in Phoenix, Arizona. Juergen returned to Canada rather than remain in the U.S. during the American-led war in Vietnam, and completed his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at McGill University. He obtained his doctorate in social work from the Université de Montréal in 1994 and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where he teaches, conducts research, and is a social activist regarding human rights and social injustice. He is director of the Institute on Victimization and Social Injustice. Werner Dankwort’s wife, Irma, died on February 9, 1999.

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