Photo of Anastase A. Vonsiatsky

 
 
Vonsiatsky Espionage		

 

As a result of investigative activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Anastase A. Vonsiatsky, Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, Dr. Otto Willumeit, Dr. Wolfgang Ebell, and Reverend Kurt E. B. Molzahn were indicted on June 10, 1942, by a Federal Grand Jury at Hartford, Connecticut, for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act. On August 25, 1942, the last member of the group was sentenced in Federal Court, thus bringing an end to the third major espionage ring broken by the FBI since the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.

Anastase A. Vonsiatsky, a naturalized American citizen residing in Connecticut and former leader of the Russian Revolutionary Party, had in the past made certain contacts and had associated with certain leaders of the German-American Bund, including Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze. In the summer of 1941, he gave Kunze $2,800 in cash. Of this amount $800 was to defray the expenses of Kunze in departing from the United States, with the ultimate destination of Germany. The remaining $2,000 was to cover the bail bond then outstanding for his appearance in a local prosecution in New Jersey, involving a violation of certain racial statutes, which were subsequently declared unconstitutional.

Vonsiatsky also made a trip to San Francisco, California, in the summer of 1941, allegedly to contact a Madam Takita, an alleged Japanese agent, who was to arrive on the Tatuta Maru. The ship did not dock at San Francisco during Vonsiatsky's stay at that point, due to the tension then existing between the United States and Japan. On his return from the West Coast, Vonsiatsky stopped over in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended a conference at the Bismarck Hotel, at which Gerhard Wilhelm Kunze, Dr. Otto Willumeit, a Ukrainian priest, and he were present. At this conference Kunze's departure from the United States was allegedly discussed and $50 in cash was reportedly given to the priest for the purpose of securing a fictitious passport for Kunze. The Ukrainian priest alleged that the transmittal of vital military information to Germany by Kunze was also discussed at the meeting. The priest requested of Kunze the name of a contact whom he might have in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since he intended to proceed to that point, and Kunze allegedly supplied the name of Reverend E. B. Molzahn. Subsequent to the above conference, Kunze addressed communications to the priest, bearing the return address of Reverend Molzahn.

On November 9, 1941, Kunze crossed the border from the United States to Mexico at El Paso, Texas, having previously contacted Dr. Wolfgang Ebell, who possessed numerous German contacts in that area and accompanied Kunze as far as Chihuahua, Mexico. He proceeded from Chihuahua to Mexico City where he contacted the German Embassy in an attempt to effect his travel to Germany, and these negotiations were still being carried on by Kunze when war was declared between the United States and Germany. Subsequent to that time the German Embassy advised Kunze that it could do nothing for him as it was important not to incur the disfavor of the Mexican government. Kunze was arrested by Mexican authorities on June 30, 1942, almost in the act of leaving the country for Germany in a small boat he had purchased. Kunze, at the time he was arrested, was using an assumed name and possessed a birth certificate in this name which he had secured from a Mexican official.

Dr. Otto Willumeit, mentioned hereinbefore, was the former Chicago Unit Leader of the German-American Bund. His part in the conspiracy is based upon his attendance at the conference held in the Bismarck Hotel and his prior knowledge of the departure of Kunze from the United States, along with an admission that he was aware that Kunze had an intimate knowledge of military establishments in the western section of the country.

Dr. Wolfgang Ebell's part in instant conspiracy involved the allegation and subsequent evidence that Dr Ebell acted as a go-between and contact man for Kunze and individuals allegedly in Mexico, as well as acting as a letter drop and medium of communication between Kunze and Vonsiatsky, after Kunze's departure from the United States.

Reverend Molzahn's participation in this conspiracy was based upon his relationship with Kunze and the fact that his residence was used as a mail drop. His brother-in-law, Dr. G. Gerhrensmann, Polizei Praesidium, Altoona, Germany, was reportedly the Gestapo chief of that city as well as the Province Schleswig-Holstein.

At no time during the investigation or trial of the above-mentioned persons did there appear any established European contacts indicating the actual transmittal of espionage material abroad. Vonsiatsky explained after his arrest that it was his desire for Kunze, upon his arrival in Germany, to represent him in a favorable light so that when Germany established its own puppet setup in Russia, Vonsiatsky would have an opportunity of being a part of this structure.

The long and checkered career of Count Anastase Andreievitch Vonsiatsky, self-styled Fuehrer of American Fascists residing at Thompson, Connecticut, came to an abrupt halt on June 22, 1942, when after a plea of guilty to the charges of espionage he was sentenced to serve a term of five years in a federal penitentiary and was assessed a fine of $5,000.

Vonsiatsky, a White Russian variously known as "V-V" and "Count Annie," for many years headed the Russian National Revolutionary Labor and Workers Peasant Party of Fascists, which organization he founded in 1933, and carried on propaganda activities against the present Russian government through a publication known as "The Fascist" and other means.

As a matter of background it might be noted that, generally speaking, White Russia is the district north of the Ukraine and, before the current war it bordered Poland. The district has a small population and for years it was a bone of contention between Poland and Russia. In 1812, Napoleon crossed White Russia and recrossed it on his march to and from Moscow. The district was also close to the war zone in 1914 and shared in the disasters of the 1916 Russian retreat.

 

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