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Why them? Why there? What caused a nation of 'Dichter und Denker' to be transformed into one of 'Richter und Henker'. Höttlland attempts to answer those questions by examining the life and times of Wilhelm Georg Höttl, a former high- ranking member of the Austrian SS and SD. The trail begins in Vienna in 1915, moving up through a culture of envy, past people and events that influenced a young man to make a fateful leap aboard the Nazi bandwagon at the age of 19. Tracing his rapid advance within the ‘seething ranks’ of the SS, which saw him emerge as a heeded advisor in the SD intelligence service at 24, Höttlland documents Höttl's involvement in various wartime intrigues that included everything from a counterfeiting operation, the kidnapping of Mussolini, the rescue of Hitler's art treasure, and the occupation of Hungary, to name just a few. With priorities shifting in late 1944, the book follows Höttl as he dons the mantel of peacemaker to confer with American officials about a separate peace and the sabotaging of the much feared 'Alpenfestung'. Arrested at war's end, Höttl diligently polishes his past to salvage a future, evading post-war justice by supplying interrogators at Nuremberg with detailed information on the inner workings of the Nazi intelligence apparatus, portions of which later helped incriminate such former colleagues as Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Adolf Eichmann. Part I concludes as Höttl resurfaces in Austria in late 1947, ready to resume plying his wares with various agencies clamouring for intelligence under the gathering clouds of the Cold War.