Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Goebbels Saved Jewish Ex-Fiancee to Hide His Past as Communist Clerk at Dresdner Bank in Cologne

Before Joseph Goebbels became a Nazi, he was a communist.

His fiancée at the time was a Jewish girl called Else Jahnke. To help Goebbels out, Else got him a job at the Dresdner Bank in Cologne.

Unfortunately, the future Reichspropagandaminister only lasted three months at the bank. Goebbels' communist principles, it seems, were too rigid and principled for him to make satisfactory progress in such a kapitalistischen Stellung (a capitalist position).

Years passed, and Goebbels duly progressed from communism to Nazism, and to senior office in the German government. Else Jahnke, meanwhile, was sacked from her job as a schoolteacher in 1933 for being Jewish.

Luckily, she was able to blackmail Goebbels with details of his shameful communist past. To protect his reputation, Goebbels was obliged to protect Else, giving her a job at the Reichsfilmkammer. As a result, she and her husband managed to survive the war.

These details have emerged this week, following the discovery of Else's husband's de-Nazification files in the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Düsseldorf.

The young communist Goebbel's unsuccessful stint as a junior clerk at the Dredner Bank in Cologne is reminiscent of a Tom Stoppard scenario, full of comic yet discomfiting echoes.

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