Toedtli, Boris (b 1901): papers and correspondence (microfilm)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Boris Toedtli papers: a large part of this collection consists of correspondence described as the 'Russian Letters', containing copies of the originals and French and German translations. The letters are thought to prove a link between the different Russian military organisations of conservative character and of Fascist tendencies with the Pan-Aryan centre in Erfurt, Germany, directed by Colonel Ulrich Fleischhauer, editor of the World Service ( Weltdienst ), the notorious anti-Semitic publication.

Also reports and correspondence on the subjects of Boris Toedtli's trial; the Bern trial of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'; the Russian Union of Fascists.

Administrative / Biographical History

Boris Toedtli born in 1901 in Kiev of Swiss parents; fought with White armies during Russian Revolution; taken prisoner by the Red Army near the Romanian border in early 1920; Toedtli contracted typhus and was sent to a hospital in Odessa; lived with his parents, until, in January 1922, he joined the ranks of Russian emigration.

With no trade skills, Toedtli wandered from one menial job to another in the 1920s; in 1923 studied photography in Zurich, where he worked for 2 years before moving on to Paris, Geneva, Lausanne and finally, in 1932, to Bern. There he became a dental technician. Until 1933, when he joined Roll's National Front, Toedtli apparently did not engage in any political activity. It was only in that year that he found a home in the Nazi movement and that his bilingual fluency and anti-Semitism made him a useful go-between for Russians and Germans.

When he joined the National Front Toedtli also began to establish contacts with Russian right wing circles. It was probably through these contacts that he first became aware of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Approached by Markov II of Weltdienst in November 1934, to help arrange the defence of the Protocols in court, he immediately appointed himself 'Chief of the Swiss Section of the Russian Imperial Union' and dispatched letters to dozens of right wing exiles asking for their expertise and testimony at the trial. He was unable to persuade witnesses to attend the trial, not least because of the costs involved.

More important for Toedtli, he became so closely associated with the Russian èmigrès and the Nazi bureaucracy that in November 1936 the Bern police charged him under Article II of the Swiss Espionage Act of 21 June 1935. In 1937 he was sentenced to two months in prison, which he managed to avoid by fleeing to Germany. However, after the signing of the Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, the Russians became a political liability for the Third Reich, and in December 1939 Toedtli was extradited to Switzerland, where he was promptly imprisoned. He died during World War Two.

Arrangement

Material gathered by the Wiener Library precedes Boris Toedtli's correspondence.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Acquisition Information

Jewish Central Information Office

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue www.wienerlibrary.co.uk

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Microfilm

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Custodial History

Boris Toedtli's letters were confiscated by the Swiss police in Bern in relation to his prosecution for espionage. The remaining material was collected by the Wiener Library - then called the Jewish Central Information Office.

Location of Originals

Wiener Collection, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Bibliography

Williams, Robert C., 'Toedtli, A Bern Defender of the Protocols', Wiener Library Bulletin, vol XXIII , (Wiener library, 1969)