Hanns-Joachim Gottlob Scharff was born in Rastenburg, East Prussia (now the town of Kętrzyn in northeastern Poland) made famous as the location of Adolf Hitler's Eastern Front military headquarters in WW2 called the "Wolf's Lair" (German: Wolfsschanze). He worked as a file clerk in the XII Army Headquarters at Wiesbaden shortly after his induction to the army. His wife wrangled him a transfer to Dolmetscher Kompanie XII (Translation company 12). He was later transferred to the Luftwaffe because of his skills. Then he was vaulted into the position of full-fledged interrogator of captured American 8th and 9th Air Force pilots after a crash of a German transport aircraft, killed his friend and opened up the position. As such, he became the best interrogator for the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Nicknamed Poker Face or Stone Face he has been called the "Master Interrogator" of the Luftwaffe and possibly all of Nazi Germany; he has also been praised for his contribution in shaping U.S. interrogation techniques after the war. A mere Obergefreiter (Lance corporal), he was charged with interrogating German-captured American fighter pilots during the war after he became an interrogation officer in 1943. He has been highly praised for the success of his techniques, in particular because he never used physical means to obtain the required information. Scharff’s interrogation techniques were so effective that he was occasionally called upon to assist other German interrogators in their questioning of bomber pilots and aircrews, including those crews and fighter pilots from countries other than the United States. Additionally, Scharff was charged with questioning many V.I.P.s (Very Important Prisoners) that were funneled through the interrogation center, namely senior officers and world-famous fighter aces. After the end of World War II, Scharff was invited by the United States Air Force to give lectures on his interrogation techniques and first-hand experiences. The U.S. military later incorporated Scharff’s methods into its curriculum at its interrogation schools. Many of Scharff's methods are still taught in US Army interrogation schools. After the war, Scharff immigrated to the United States from South Africa. From the 1950s until his death in 1992, Scharff redirected his efforts to artistry, namely mosaics. He eventually became a world-renowned mosaic artisan, with his handiwork on display in such locations as the California State Capitol building; Los Angeles City Hall; several schools, colleges, and universities, including the giant Outdoor Mosaic Mural facade of the Dixie State College Fine Arts Center; Epcot Center; and in the 15-foot arched mosaic walls featuring the story of Cinderella inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, Florida. He died at the age of 84, in the small community of Bear Valley Springs, located in Tehachapi, California.
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