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Felix Kersten file photo [23545]

Felix Kersten

Given NameFelix
Born30 Sep 1898
Died16 Apr 1960


ww2dbaseFelix Kersten was born into a Baltic German family in Yuryev, Russia (now Tartu, Estonia) in 1898. He enlisted in the German Army, seeing action during WW1 and the Finnish Civil War; during the latter campaign, he served both under the banner of the German Army as well as the Finnish White Guard, thus earning him Finnish citizenship in 1920. In Sep 1920, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Finnish Army. In the 1920s, after being released from military service, he studied and later practiced physical therapist in Helsinki, Finland. In 1925, he took over a therapy practice in Berlin, Germany previously owned by a Dr. Ko after Ko's retirement. After successfully treating notable figures such as Dutch Prince Hendrik and Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, he was sought out by Heinrich Himmler, who suffered stomach problems. Using his friendly relationship with Himmler, Kersten occasionally requested and obtained special pardons from Himmler to release various prisoners held by organizations under Himmler's control. He also arranged a meeting between Himmler and Swedish Jewish leader Norbert Masur, which resulted in Himmler sparing the lives of 60,000 Jews at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp. Towards the end of the war, Kersten became the liaison between Himmler and an American businessman in Sweden, through which contact Himmler wished to negotiate a separate peace, behind Adolf Hitler's back, with the Western Allies. Unbeknownst to Kersten, the influential American businessman was actually an agent of the US war time intelligence agency Office of Strategic Services (OSS), thus the Americans gained valuable intelligence on Himmler losing confidence in Adolf Hitler; ultimately, US President Franklin Roosevelt refused to negotiate with Himmler through this channel, thus such talked resulted in nothing. After the war, Kersten published his memoirs in 1947. He lived in West Germany and then in Sweden. He was lauded for saving the lives of thousands of Jews, but at the same time his exaggeration in such endeavors also earned him poor reputation in some circles. He became a Swedish citizen in 1953. He passed away in Stockholm, Sweden in 1960.

Patrick O'donnell, Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs

Last Major Revision: Jul 2015

Felix Kersten Timeline

30 Sep 1898 Felix Kersten was born in Yuryev (Dorpat), Russia.
16 Apr 1960 Felix Kersten passed away in Stockholm, Sweden.

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