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Hanns Scharff Master Interrogator
Hanns Scharff was primarily an American 8th and 9th Air Force Fighter pilot interrogator. [During WW II against Germany.] 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.
|Scharff with Col.
Stark (the Senior Allied Officer at Dulag Luft - Wetzlar, the transit
camp). Scharff was seldom required to wear a uniform. Though only
a corporal, Scharff was believed by many POWs to be a high ranking
Photo from, "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver.
One POW commented "Hanns could probably get a confession of infidelity from a nun."
Hanns personally stepped in to 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 on the occasion of Hanns 75th birthday party.
In the United States Scharff worked as a mosaic artist. Some of 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.
Reference the excellent book written about Hanns called "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver.
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