Iowa State University

FBI gets an unexpected lesson from a former interrogator for the Nazis

FBI gets an unexpected lesson from a former interrogator for the Nazis

When the FBI went looking for the best way to pry information from terrorists, they discovered it in the most unlikely of places: an almost-forgotten interrogator for Nazi Germany.

Hanns Scharff was a master manipulator, but not in the stereotypical Gestapo-like ways that usually come to mind. His tools were kindness, respect, empathy and guile.

He told meandering stories, took detainees on long strolls in the countryside and left them alone in his office to read the U.S. military newspaper, Stars and Stripes. He provided hard-to-find cigarettes and even let one captured U.S. pilot take a short flight in a German fighter plane.

But all the...

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