Paul Scharffenberg

Based on: Thomas Rabe, John Rabe. Sein Leben, seine Zeit. Heidelberg 2009
Hua-ling Hu and Lian-hong Zhang, The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang. Carbondale 2010
Suping Lu (ed.), Terror in Minnie Vautrin’s Nanjing: Diaries and Correspondence, 1937-38. Urbana 2008
Mechthild Leutner (ed.), Deutschland und China 1937–1945: Politik – Militär – Wirtschafts – Kultur; Eine Quellensammlung. Berlin 1998
Dai Yuanzhi, Das Tagebuch von Paul Scharffenberg – nach dem Tagebuch von John Rabe ein neuer Beweis für die japanischen Gräueltaten in Nanjing. 2003

Last updated: 09/07/2019

Paul Hermann Johannes Scharffenberg was born on December 2, 1873 in Kobylnik, Poland. In 1888, he began studying at a school for non-commissioned officers and in July 1900, he joined the Second Infantry Division East Asia in Beijing. From 1901-1903, he was a member of the East Asian Occupation Brigade. After almost 13 years of military service, he left the army and became an employee of the German Consulate in Tianjin. He was promoted to consulate secretary and to chancellor in 1913. On 2 June 1916, he married Hilde Wedde who  had already lived in China as a home teacher. During WWI, the Scharffenbergs were evicted from the country in April 1917 but they returned in 1922. In late 1921, Scharffenberg had been appointed chancellor of the consulate general in Tianjin and on 11 January 1922, he acceded his position. On 1 September 1934, he was transferred to the German delegation in Beijing, which was converted into the German Embassy and relocated to Nanjing in 1935.

On 8 December 1937, Scharffenberg and his colleagues from the German Embassy and members of two other embassies and their nationals left Nanjing via the British gunship Cricket on the Yangtze. Together with Rosen and Hürter, he returned on 9 January 1938 and re-opened the German Embassy. Scharffenberg died of food poisoning on June 19, 1938.

Testifying and Contesting War Experiences in China and Japan