Eberhard von Künsberg

September 2, 1909, Speyer - February 1945, Budapest

Baron Eberhard Max Paul von Künsberg, born on 2 September 1909 in Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate, and died in February 1945 in Budapest, came from an age-old noble Upper Franconian family. His father was a regular army officer. In 1929, he joined the NSDAP (No. 132.008) and the general SS (no. 1552). He studied law from 1929 to 1934 and then served briefly as an SS officer in the Reiterstandarte Regensburg unit. Meanwhile he took a part in various Nazi societies and organizations. In 1936 he was hired by the foreign affairs office of the NSDAP. Meanwhile he also served in the Munich/Riem SS cavalry school set up by Heinrich Himmler to undermine the Baden-Baden horse races, which he saw as too conservative and liberal.

On 14 March 1939 Künsberg was hired by the German Foreign Office. When war broke out, his task was gather from occupied countries diplomatic documents that he thought were important. He also began gathering art works and sending them to Germany. This was in fact a systematic series of legally unfounded art robberies, for the benefit not of German museums, but of many higher-ranking SS officers on a friendship basis. By January 1941, a hundred units bore the name “SS Special Commander von Künsberg”. His sorties took him across the Balkans and as far as Crete. By then his unit had grown into a battalion that merged in August 1941 into the Waffen-SS.

Künsberg’s apparatus worked through the entire Balkans and much of the Soviet Union. Early in 1942 his unit was given new tasks, among them to find Tatar volunteers for the German forces. Neither Himmler nor Ribbentrop were pleased with his output and he was assigned to the front. In summer 1944, he was placed in an unspecified post in the 8th SS cavalry battalion.