Boris Tödtli: Papers and correspondence

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 70518
1 Jan 1934 - 31 Jan 1938
Level of Description
EHRI Partner


Biographical History

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Boris Tödtli is described as a man of two worlds, Russian and German, who could move with relative ease from the exotic politics of emigration to the bureaucratic machinery of the Nazi party and back. Born in 1901 in Kiev of Swiss parents, Tödtli had just completed his first two terms as a medical student when the February revolution broke out. He volunteered for the White armies, was commissioned in the field, and in October 1919, lost his hearing as the result of a bomb explosion. Taken prisoner by the red Army near the Romanian border in early 1920, Tödtli contracted typhus and was sent to a hospital in Odessa. Afterwards he lived with his parents, until, in January 1922, he joined the ranks of Russian emigration.

As an embittered ex-officer with no trade skills, Tödtli wandered from one menial job to another in the 1920s. In 1923 he 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 'this nondescript Russian émigré' 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, the trial had only whetted his political and financial appetites. As a result 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 2 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 WWII.

Archival History

The provenance of this collection is not known

Scope and Content

This microfilm collection of correspondence and papers documents the activities of Boris Tödtli, a Russian Nazi sympathiser and Anti-semite, who, as a leading light in the Swiss branch of Weltdienst organised the defence of the veracity of that infamous forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A large part of this collection consists of correspondence described as the 'Russian Letters', containing copies of the originals and French and German translations. These letters were confiscated by the Swiss police in Bern in relation to his prosecution for espionage. 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.

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Reproduction

Use R:\Document collections\MF54\Working Images\21\Wiener Docs frames 1-765; R:\Document collections\MF54\Working Images\22\Wiener Docs frames 1-619

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements


Related Units of Description

  • WL Doc No. 540.




This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.