Gefreiter (Lance Corporal), German Army. A German Prisoner of War, he was beaten to death by his fellow Nazi POWs for treason.
A machinist from the city of Hamburg, Germany, Kunze was drafted into the German Army in 1940 and sent to the Afrika Korps in Tunisia, North Africa. Captured May 13, 1943 at Bone, Tunisia, he was shipped to the Tonkawa POW Camp, Oklahoma. Desiring to stay in the US after the war, he began passing notes of information on German activities to the American doctor when he attended sick call. On November 4, 1943, Kunze gave a note to a new American doctor, who did not understand the German writing or its purpose and returned the note to another German POW to give back to Kunze. Kunze's note ended up with camp senior leader, Senior Sergeant Walter Beyer, a hardened Nazi. Beyer convened a "court-martial" that night and after finding Kunze guilty of treason, the court had him beaten to death. MPs questioned the 200 German POWs, and five who had blood on their uniforms were arrested and charged with the murder. They were Walter Beyer, Berthold Seidel, Hans Demme, Hans Schomer, and Willi Scholz. The men were found guilty and sentenced to death. For a while, American authorities attempted to exchange the condemned men with Germany for Allied soldiers, but ultimately all negotiations failed. The five men were hung at Fort Leavenworth Military Penitentiary in July 1945, where they had been kept after conviction, and are buried in the Fort Leavenworth Military Cemetery. A book, "The Killing of Corporal Kunze," by Wilma Trummel Parnell was published in 1981. (Bio by Kit and Morgan Benson).
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