Stöbe, Ilse (1911–1942)

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Stöbe, Ilse (1911–1942)

German anti-Nazi activist and spy. Name variations: Ilse Stobe; Ilse Stoebe. Born Ilse Müller in Berlin, Germany, on May 17, 1911; executed on December 22, 1942.

Worked in Warsaw as a correspondent for German and Swiss newspapers; while working at the German Foreign Ministry, supplied Moscow with valuable intelligence on Nazi political and military plans.

Born in Berlin on May 17, 1911, Ilse Stöbe provided important intelligence information to the Soviet Union even before the Nazis came to power. She worked as a secretary for the influential Mosse publishing firm in Berlin, and was also employed for some years by the liberal editor and publicist Theodor Wolff. Since she respected her employers, who were Jewish, Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda was offensive to her. By her early 20s, Stöbe was convinced that Hitler's movement would bring misery to Germany and Europe, and she regarded Communism and the social changes taking place in the Soviet Union as the only hope. Determined to end fascist rule in Germany, she passed important information through the Soviet intelligence network. Starting in 1931, she carried out her assignment for more than a decade. The most important phase of her intelligence work was launched in 1939, when she began working in the information office of the German Foreign Ministry. Among the secrets she communicated to Moscow was the date for the Nazi invasion of the USSR. Her network at the German Foreign Office included the important official Rudolf von Scheliha. Arrested and tortured during their interrogations, both he and Stöbe were sentenced to death by the Reich War Tribunal. They were executed by decapitation on December 22, 1942, along with several other members of the "Red Orchestra" group, including Libertas Schulze-Boysen . Stöbe's family paid dearly for her resistance; her mother died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, while her brother Kurt, who continued his underground work after Ilse's execution, was eventually arrested and executed in June 1944. Until her death, Ilse's mother carried with her a letter from Ilse requesting her not to grieve over her death, since "in such cases there is no reason to mourn. And please do not wear a black dress."


Biernat, Karl Heinz, and Luise Kraushaar. Die Schulze-Boysen-Harnack-Organisation im antifaschistischen Kampf. Berlin: Dietz, 1970.

Kraushaar, Luise. Deutsche Widerstandskämpfer 1933–1945: Biographien und Briefe. 2 vols. Berlin: Dietz, 1970.

Trepper, Leopold. The Great Game: Memoirs of the Spy Hitler Couldn't Silence. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1977.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia