Escape Route North

Günter Toepke

Lieutenant Colonel Günter Toepke was on the staff of von Hanneken and Lindemann during the war. On June 6, he became head of Minenkommando Dänmark, which was later renamed “Dienstgruppe Dänemark.” Dienstgruppe Dänemark could best be described as a clean-up of the many landmines that had been laid during the war.

Lieutenant colonel Toepke, as head of Dienstgruppe Dänemark in the years after the war, was involved in a major smuggling affair, during which he managed, among other things, to smuggle several leading German scientists of the so-called “Escape Route North” through Denmark to Argentina. The smuggling affair was also known as “The passport affair.” Toepke, along with some Danish officers, also used his position to smuggle German refugees back home to Germany, bypassing allied control.

Recent studies suggest that the Danish secret service was deeply involved in the affair. It is a very exciting story, and it can be read in the book: “Escape Route North”, by Harly Foged and Henrik Krüger.

A small example of how good the cooperation was is that a Danish intelligence chief on his own initiative – and as a thank you for the help – got the furniture that Toepke had in his office in Silkeborg Bad during the war picked up and brought home to Toepke’s house in Germany.

Indledning (

He was born in 1914, grew up in the Weimar Republic and began his officer training in 1933, the year Hitler took power. During the war he served in Poland, Belgium, the Baltics, Leningrad and Stalingrad before serving in Denmark from November 1943. After the end of the hot war, Toepke played a small role in the ensuing Cold War. Perhaps here he became the Danish secret service “a good man”, according to the book’s title.

Günter Toepkes ended up as colonel in the Bundeswehr.

Den ukendte soldat fra Besættelsen – Kristeligt Dagblad (

“The passport affair”

The passport affair starts in November 1947 with the arrest at Kastrup Airport [Copenhagen] of a German scientist with an Argentine passport. The affair, the concrete course of which has never been officially presented to the Danish public, is about the smuggling of German scientists with a “Nazi” past to South America via Denmark.

Fortiden skal søges i udlandet | Information

Vagner Kristensen

He also received a prison sentence of 1 year imprisonment, as well as loss of rights for 5 years, at the court in Odense on 24 October 1945.

After the prison stay he tried to start afresh, he settled in Rødding in Southern Jutland. When he was at the municipal office at one point, the person behind the counter said so loudly that others could hear it, ‘you are a traitor’ then he was looked down on and he moved from the city, and to Brørup.
In Brørup, he got a job with a gardener (Vagner Kristensen had told him that he had been in SS).
It was in Brørup in 1946 that Vagner Kristensen became part of ‘Escape Route Nord’ (Escape Route North) a network that helped National Socialists escape to countries like Argentina.
Via a contact in Flensburg, the person was sent to the gardener in Brørup when they asked to buy the rather rare flower ‘Phalaenopsis’ (Part of the orchid family, I am certainly not a flower expert)
Vagner Kristensen knew what it was about, and he then let his buyer live in his basement before he was sent on.

In 1956, Vagner Kristensen was summoned to the Danish Armed Forces (a law had been passed in 1955 that allowed convicted persons to be summoned and they could join the Danish armed forces)
He served with the Artillery Regiment at Sjælsmark barracks.
By 1957, his service was over, and from the fall of 1957 he was admitted as a Danish UN soldier, and was sent to the Gaza Strip. Here he received, among other things, The UN medal.
His UN time ended in the fall of 1959 when he tried to teach his comrades old NSU (National Socialist Youth) and SS songs. He was discharged.

Source: Person beskrivelser –

Gråsten Castle

Over the years, there have been persistent rumors that the lazarette at Gråsten Castle served as a review scrawn for high-ranking German National Socialists disguised as patients on their way to Sweden and on from there, for example, to South America.
A book was written in 1985 entitled “Escape Route North” by Harly Foged and Henrik Krüger in which Gråsten Castle’s role is detailed. In the book, however, all the information does not seem to be true and it is the question how many of the statements can be refuted via sources from the end of the war or the subsequent legal showdown.
However, the book’s statement is supported by the so-called “Nazi hunter”, the attorney general of the District Court in Braunschweig Fritz Bauer who stated that many high-ranking National Socialists were hiding in Gråsten Castle.
Moreover, at the end of the war there were probably rumors in Gråsten that there were high-ranking National Socialists in the castle. Rumor has it that the leader of the lazarette was the well-known Dr. Josef Mengele, which, however, turned out not to be true.
The book “Escape Route North” mentions, among other things, that Friedrich Tillmann, Dr. Hans Hefelmann and Dr. Gerhard Bohne came to Gråsten Castle with Dr. Werner Heyde in April 1945. They had all had significant roles in the Euthanasia programme and worked with Heyde.
In addition, the authors mention in the book that Chief of Staff Martin Bormann, the “angel of death from Auschwitz” Dr. Josef Mengele, auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss, inspector of the KZ camps Richard Glücks and Himmler’s physician Karl Gebhardt all hid for a shorter or longer time at Gråsten Castle before being transported on to Sweden.
However, history has shown that Martin Bormann has certainly not been to Gråsten Castle after the war when he died shortly after 2 May 1945 without having left Berlin.
So far, it cannot be denied that Gråsten Castle played a secret role as a cover for well-known National Socialists.

Gråsten Palace (DanishGråsten Slot) is located at Gråsten in the Jutland region of southern Denmark. It is best known for being the summer residence of the Danish Royal Family. The main house has a modern, all-white facade, with Venetian doors opening onto sweeping, manicured lawns and gravel walkways. The grounds include a huge stables court. 

Gråsten Palace – Wikipedia

Carl Værnet

After the war, he was arrested in Copenhagen and interrogated at Alsgades School. Although the Danish authorities wanted to press charges for his SS involvement, he feigned heart trouble and escaped. It appears he tried to sell the hormone research to DuPont in 1946. He later fled to Brazil and then Buenos AiresArgentina, where he died in 1965.


Prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, Germany, 12-19-1938 - NARA - 540175 (cleanup).jpg

Dr. Vaernet is said to have told fellow doctors that his heart
trouble could only be treated in Sweden. Astonishingly, despite being
accused of perpetrating war crimes, Dr. Vaernet was allowed by the Danish authorities to travel to Sweden.

In Sweden, he made contact with the Nazi escape network, which
spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947.
On 19th November 1947, the Copenhagen newspaper, Berlingske
Tidende, carried a letter from a Danish exile living in Argentina which
reported that Dr. Vaernet was working in the Buenos Aires health department.

In Sweden, he made contact with the “Nazi” escape network, which
spirited him away to Argentina, probably in late 1946 or early 1947.

From archive material from Frederiksberg (part of Copenhagen) Police belonging to Landsarkivet for Sjælland (County archive of Sealand in Copenhagen) it appears that 2 prominent doctors helped Værnet to avoid prosecution from war-crimes.

Doctor Gunnar Kelstrup, who was connected to “Generalstabens Efterretningssektion (later Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste” (The Generalstaff´s intelligencesection, later The Intelligenceservice of the Defence) og seniordoctor, Tage Bjerring from Kommunehospitalet i København (The Communehospital of Copenhagen) gave both in 1945 and 1946 repeatedly declarations that Værnet suffered from a serious heartcondition, and apparantly only had few years left of survival.

It appears from archivepapers that Carl and his son Kjeld tried to sell the patented KZ-camp-hormone to a medicine firm in USA or UK in 1945. Kjeld Per Vaernet has been awarded with : Dannebrogorder. Icelandic Falkeorder. UN Service Medal. Korean War Service Medal.

Apart from his eldest son, Kjeld Vaernet (1920-), a medical student, the family of Carl Vaernet also went to Argentina with a so-called “Royal Mail”-ship. Kjeld, who was a coming brainsurgeon with a gruesome record rivalling his father´s, reportedly got a message from the father in Buenos Aires late 1947 delivered by Carlos Schulz, right hand of Carlos Pineyro, the leader of the Danish “ratline” from the Argentine legation in Copenhagen.

The “Rat-line” was an escape-organization with a South (Vatican) and a North Route (Sweden).

“Gay Holocaust” The Hunt for NAZI Concentration Camp Doctor Carl Vaernet | Peter Tatchell

Pink triangle jew.svg

Pink triangle – Wikipedia

Ratlines (World War II aftermath)

Read about WWII here

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