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Thomas Haller Cooper
British mugshot, 1945
Born (1919-08-29)29 August 1919
Chiswick, London
Died 1987, aged 67
Other names Tom Böttcher
Occupation Activist, Member of British Free Corps

Thomas Haller Cooper, (29 August 1919 – 1987), also known as Tom Böttcher, was a member of the German Waffen-SS British Free Corps[1][not in citation given] and former member of the British Union of Fascists.


Early life[]

Thomas Cooper was born in Chiswick to a British father, Ashley Cooper and a German mother Anna Maria, née Simon. His father was a photographer and commercial artist who had met Thomas' mother in Berlin.

Cooper attended Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith and upon leaving in 1936 attempted to find work. He was rejected by the Metropolitan Police, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force; on each occasion the reason given was the fact he had a German mother. Extremely resentful of his treatment, Cooper joined the British Union of Fascists in September 1938.

A fluent German-speaker, Cooper contacted the German Academic Exchange Organisation in Russell Square, London. After a short period, he was offered a place at the RAD (Reichs Arbeits Dienst or German Labour Service) Office in Stuttgart, during the summer of 1939.

Caught in Germany at the outbreak of war on 3 September 1939, Cooper was arrested as an enemy alien. However, he was released after producing a certificate that his mother had obtained, classifying him as an ethnic German (a Volksdeutscher).

Military life[]

Cooper was offered an opportunity to join the SS, which he eventually accepted. He was ordered to return on 1 February 1940 at the Berlin Lichterfelde Barracks, the home of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. While at this camp, Cooper told his superiors that his father was now serving with British forces, and that he thought it was no longer appropriate to be serving with the SS. After being placed under arrest, Cooper reconsidered his position. He announced that he had decided to continue serving in the SS.

In July 1940, Cooper was transferred to the 8th Company, 5th Totenkopf Infantry Regiment based at Oranienburg to the north of Berlin. His task was to train recruits in the use of machine guns. He remained with this regiment until February 1941. At this time, Cooper had been moved to Płock, near the River Vistula, in Poland. Promoted to SS-Rottenfuhrer, he left the regiment to go to the SS NCO School at Lauenburg in Pomerania, for training which finished in May 1941.

Cooper was then moved to a subunit based at the Dębica training area near Kraków. Cooper's detachment centred on the security and administration of the training area. He was also promoted to SS-Unterscharfuhrer in November 1941. It has been stated that "the circumstantial case is compelling" that Cooper was involved in the Holocaust.[2]

Cooper was badly wounded in both legs fighting the Red Army during February 1943. He was carried back by his men to Schablinov. From there he was evacuated via Narva, Riga and Königsberg to Bad Muskau, a small town located near Görlitz. He was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver, becoming the only Englishman to receive a German combat decoration during World War II. He was "transferred to the British Free Corps in early 1944".[3] On 20 April 1944 he "was promoted to Oberscharführer and sent to man a transit camp for new recruits at a villa in the Grunewald district of Berlin"[4] In November 1944 he was dismissed from the British Free Corps and arrested for "various heinous anti-Nazi crimes". He was taken to the depot of the Panzergrenadier training battalion of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler division of the SS (Stammkompanie SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Ausbildungs-and-Ersatz Bataillon 1), where he spent the next six months working for the Feldjägerkorps.[5]

After the war, Cooper was tried for high treason at the Central Criminal Court in January 1946, and sentenced to hang.[6] An appeal failed,[7] but days before his scheduled execution, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment "on the grounds that [he] had been [a follower] in treason rather than [a leader]."[8] The trial is covered in Rebecca West's The Meaning of Treason. The depositions in his trial are held at the National Archives under reference CRIM 1/484 and his pardon is held under reference CRIM 1/585/142. The Home Office and Security Service files on him are held by The National Archives under references HO 45/25805 and KV 2/254 1939 Nov 01-1946 Jul 20 respectively.

Later life[]

Cooper was released in January 1953 and is believed to have emigrated to Japan.[1] He 'settled in Tokyo, converted to Buddhism and became a language teacher'.[9] Author Adrian Weale states that he subsequently returned to England and died in early 1987, aged 67.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stratford, Steven. "British Military & Criminal History 1900 to 1999: Case of Tomas[sic Haller Cooper"]. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  2. Adrian Weale. Renegades: Hitler's Englishmen. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2nd edition, 2014
  3. "The legion of traitors". 8 September 2002. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  4. Weale, Adrian (2014-11-12). Renegades (Kindle Locations 2339-2340). Random House. Kindle Edition
  5. Weale, Adrian (2014-11-12). Renegades (Kindle Locations 2848-2854). Random House. Kindle Edition
  6. "Death Sentence For High Treason." Times, London, England, 12 Jan. 1946: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
  7. "Court Of Criminal Appeal." Times, London, England, 12 Feb. 1946: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 May 2015.
  8. Weale, Adrian (2014-11-12). Renegades (Kindle Location 3356). Random House. Kindle Edition.
  9. Sean Murphy. Letting the Side Down: British Traitors of the Second World War, P215. London: The History Press Ltd, 2005. ISBN 0-7509-4176-6

Further reading[]

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