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Researcher help needed in Russia!

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Tamas Polgar, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. Tamas Polgar

    Tamas Polgar New Member

    Oct 9, 2019
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    Hey guys,

    I have a historic mystery on my hand. It seems I've uncovered a former member of the German "Brandenburg" division by chance. The story is quite amazing. I'll just copy a long text here which I usually send to people who may be able to help. So far I had little luck.

    Currently I'm trying to find a professional historian in Russia who can speak English and can obtain a research permit in Soviet war archives, particularly the Archives of the Ministry of Defence in Podolsk. I can't go to Russia for several reasons, and their military archives are usually strictly off-limits for foreigners anyway. Tip me off if you know someone who knows someone please! Thanks.

    Here comes the story...

    Dear Sirs,

    We are trying to find the story of a Hungarian person in German military service during World War II. We have ample reason to believe that the answer to his secrets lie in Russian archives, most likely in captured German documents, and there must be a GRU or NKVD file on him too. This person's name was Károly Kaszap. If you don't mind, I'd give a somewhat long description of who he was, and how I found his family.

    I moved from Hungary to Canada in 2016. In 2017 I visited the Aviation and Space Museum of Canada where I met a volunteer working as a guide, Charles Kaszap, a former officer of the Canadian Air Force. His father happened to be Hungarian. He was, as he told me, a captain of the Royal Hungarian Army, a paratrooper specialist, and he completed several secret commando missions behind Soviet lines. Once he was tasked with blowing up oil pipelines. At another occasion he destroyed a bridge with a train transporting tanks. These missions were all top secret and the old man really knew how to keep them: he never told anyone about exact locations, dates, names, only in broad terms. He passed away in 2010 without telling more. All that remains now is a video cassette with some of his recollections at the lunch table. Mr. Kaszap is now trying to find this cassette. Most of what we know about his father is fragments of the story he told to him throughout his life, some even decades ago.

    When I heard this story it immediately struck me as unusual, as to my knowledge Hungary had a quite small paratrooper force, a single division even in their best days, and they were used only in one operation on the Eastern front, but that one wasn't a secret one. They were dropped to reinforce an airfield against advancing Soviet forces. During the rest of the war they fought as regular infantry, mostly during and after the siege of Budapest. There's no record of any kind of commando missions, and actually this didn't even match their profile and training. Of course it's not impossible that one or more members were sent to such missions and the records were lost later - many of the army's documents were lost during the fights in 1944-45, including, for example, the entire archive of the air force - but it still sounded highly unlikely. On the other hand the Hungarian army was active in the area of Voronezh and there were no oil pipelines. At that time the Soviets only had pipelines in the Grozny-Baku area, but it was far from the Hungarian zone of interest. If there were such missions, it must've been a German and not a Hungarian operation.

    The first thing we did was to contact the Hungarian Ministry of Defence to request information on Captain Károly Kaszap. We of course know his full details, date and place of birth and everything. The answer was brief: there's not a single trace of such person in the archives. At this point I was pondering over two possibilities. One is that his file was lost, like so many others. This seemed more likely. The other is that he was never actually in the army, just made it up. But this would've been difficult to maintain for an entire lifetime, and the truth sooner or later would've came to light. So we assumed that the story is true, there's no reason to mistrust the late Mr. Kaszap. But what could've happened?

    A few more details on the circumstances of his escape to Canada shed a different light on his story. Allegedly he was in Germany at the end of the war. He told his son several times that he saw the new jet fighters taking off to engage Allied bombers, and he specifically mentioned the Me-163 and the He-162 Volksjäger. The latter only entered service in late 1944. At that time Hungary was in great peril, and the "Szent László" paratrooper division was in the thickest of it as the most capable military unit. It's highly doubtful that such a battle-hardened specialist weren't with them. After the war he returned to Hungary. It wasn't until 1949 when he got tipped off by a former army comrade who now worked as a police officer that Soviet intelligence officers were looking for him, and they're probably coming to arrest him soon. He ran away from home, just in time and attempted to cross the border to Austria. He failed and he was caught, then taken to, as his son remembers the story, a castle which was right on the border. This could only be the 19th century fortress of Komárom. As he spoke perfect Russian, he befriended some Soviet officers who invited him to drink, this is how he told his story. When they passed out he escaped through a window and swam to Czechoslovakia which was not under Soviet occupation. From there he managed to go to West Germany, and from there to Canada where he settled in Québec City.

    Now let's look at the details. We know that the communists were going after a great number of people who they perceived war criminals - whether they actually were or not, that's another matter. Many and more brave soldiers ended up in prison or on the gallows in the 1950's. It makes sense that a high ranking special forces officer was on the death list. However in Hungary the Soviets never directly involved themselves in these matters. They actually barely cared about anyone but high ranking Germans who were either involved in atrocities or commanded major units. It should've been the Hungarian State Protection Authority that went after Captain Kaszap. Therefore, for some reason, he was interesting enough for the Soviets to deal with him directly.

    But why only in 1949? And why has Kaszap returned to Hungary in 1945 when it was already under Soviet occupation and it was obvious for anyone with a pinch of a brain that they aren't going to leave anytime soon? The answer is because he must've been certain that they won't go after him. Which means that he knew for the fact that whatever records the Germans kept about him was all destroyed. He obviously underestimated the GRU and the effort they put into the investigation. At one point he mentioned it to his son that Soviet intelligence officers went to his village and asked around about his life. This is very uncommon, the Soviets rarely performed investigations in Hungary.

    Therefore Károly Kaszap must've been doing something extraordinary during WW2 which went way beyond the duty of even a special paratrooper officer. On a side note, the communists mostly let the surviving Hungarian paratroopers alone after the war.

    Then Mr. Kaszap remembered another story his father told him. He once told him that he was deployed in the Soviet Far East to observe the dredging of a new canal to a seaport. After making his reports he made it back to Europe. Now this is really alien from any kind of Hungarian soldier. Not so alien however from a special German unit: the Brandenburger division, the Abwehr's own special force. It absolutely makes sense to assume that Kaszap was a Brandenburger because the members of this unit were all foreigners who were loyal to Nazi Germany, and spoke foreign languages well. The mission profiles also match the Brandenburgers' methods. In fact this unit was heavily involved in the battle around Maykop and Grozny where they had ample opportunities to blow up oil pipes - and they actually did. Observing harbors was also their speciality, some Arabic speaking members have been watching Gibraltar and Cairo for years. After the war all members of the Brandenburger Division were declared war criminals by both the Western and Eastern Allies, and this is where the pieces all fall in place. The Soviet investigation, why it took four years to track him down, and why he never talked about his actual allegiance. However he spoke about Nazi Germany a lot: he once recalled hearing one of Hitler's speeches personally which was, as he put it, a defining moment of his life, and he always spoke about pre-war Germany with utmost respect.

    So this is the story, and I'm looking for help now to uncover evidence. There must be some captured German documents in Russian archives on which the investigation was based. I'm pretty sure there's a GRU or NKVD file with his name. Can you help us to find it?

    With regards,
    Tamas Polgar
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

    Jun 5, 2008
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