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

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 1556 WL 543
Held at: Wiener Library
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Full title: Tödtli, Boris (b 1901): papers and correspondence (microfilm)
Date(s): 1934-1938
Level of description: collection
Extent: 1500 frames
Name of creator(s): Tödtli | Boris | b 1901 | leader of the Russian National Socialists in Switzerland; Wiener Library


Administrative/Biographical history:

Boris Tödtli 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; Tödtli 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, Tödtli 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, Tödtli 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 Tödtli 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 Tödtli, he became so closely associated with the Russian émigrés 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 Tödtli was extradited to Switzerland, where he was promptly imprisoned. He died during World War Two.


Scope and content/abstract:

Boris Tödtli 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 Tödtli's trial; the Bern trial of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'; the Russian Union of Fascists.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, German, French, Russian

System of arrangement:

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

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

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

Finding aids:

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Boris Tödtli'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.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Jewish Central Information Office

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

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

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
October 2007

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