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Felix Kersten (30 September 1898 Yuryev (Dorpat), Imperial Russia [now Tartu, Estonia] – 16 April 1960, Stockholm, Sweden) was before and during World War II the personal masseur of Heinrich Himmler. Kersten used his position to aid people persecuted by Nazi Germany, although whether his actions were as decisive as Kersten claimed in his memoirs is not always verifiable from other sources. Contents 1 Early life 2 After the War 3 In popular culture 4 References 5 External links // Early life Kersten was born in a Baltic German family in Estonia when the country was still a part of Imperial Russia. During World War I he fought in the German Army and arrived in Finland in April 1918 with the German forces that intervened in the Finnish Civil War. Kersten served for a while in Suojeluskunta, was granted Finnish citizenship in 1920 and commissioned 2nd Lieutenant (vänrikki) in the Finnish Army in September 1921. Kersten began his studies in Helsinki where he studied with the specialist Dr Colander. After two years' study he was awarded his degree in scientific massage. He then left for Berlin where he continued his studies and eventually became Dr Ko's pupil after an encounter at a dinner party. In 1925 Dr Ko told Kersten "You have learned all I can teach you." He then turned his patients over to Kersten and retired. Kersten had a number of very influential customers, among them Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands (after 1928) and Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law and Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano. Kersten felt he had to fulfil Heinrich Himmler's request to become his personal masseur. He wrote that he feared for his safety if he refused. Kersten was able to alleviate Himmler’s severe stomach pains with his skills and retained Himmler's trust until the end of the Second World War in 1945. After the War In his post-war memoirs Kersten takes credit for saving, among others, the whole Dutch people from forced deportation to the Nazi-occupied East. In 1953 the Dutch government nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize on this account.[1] However a later official Dutch investigation concluded that no such plan had ever existed and that some of Kersten's documents were fabricated.[2] The Swedish archives testify that Kersten was intermediary between Himmler and Count Folke Bernadotte in the negotiations that led to the rescue operation 'The White Buses', saving hundreds of Norwegians and Danes from certain death in the last days of the Third Reich. Kersten’s claims of being instrumental in saving Finland’s Jews from German hands may be exaggerated, but the Finnish government did use his services in the hope of influencing Himmler. During the War, Kersten also provided information to the OSS (predecessor of the CIA). Towards the end of the War, Kersten arranged a meeting with Himmler and Norbert Masur, a member of the Swedish branch of the World Jewish Congress, in Harztwalde, a few miles from Ravensbruck concentration camp. As a result Himmler agreed (reluctantly; perhaps in a vain attempt to save himself from accusations of war crimes) to decline Hitler's order to kill the remaining 60,000 Jews left in Nazi concentration camps days before their liberation by the Allies. After the War Kersten lived in West Germany and Sweden, taking Swedish citizenship in 1953. Kersten's war memoirs were published in English translation in 1947 and a second edition was published in 1956 (The Kersten memoirs, 1940-1945, London 1956) with an introduction by H. R. Trevor-Roper. In December 1945 the World Jewish Congress presented Kersten with a letter thanking him for helping to save Jewish concentration-camp victims. In popular culture Felix Kersten is heavily parodied in the Woody Allen book Getting Even, in the chapter entitled "The Schmeed Memoirs"," in which a fictional barber in wartime Germany describes his time as a hair stylist for Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi officers. Kersten also appears as a character in the film Hitler: a film from Germany, directed by Hans-Jürgen_Syberberg. References ^ H.R. Trevor-Roper. Kersten, Himmler and Count Bernadotte, The Atlantic, vol 7 (1953), pp 43-45. ^ Louis de Jong, 1972, reprinted in German translation: H-H. Wilhelm and L. de Jong. Zwei Legenden aus dem dritten Reich : quellenkritische Studien, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1974, pp 79-142. External links Massage's Greatest Humanitarian Documentary film in Finnish: Who Was Felix Kersten? Satan’s Doctor documentary (directed by Emmanuel Amara, produced by Sunset Presse).