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Locating Atlantis in Tunisia.

Fascinating color-printed map purporting to show the location of Atlantis and the Citadel of Poseidon in present-day Tunisia. This map is the work of Dr. Paul Borchardt who was one of the more intriguing figures in World War II espionage.

The Map

Borchardt believed that the Shott el Jerid swamp, thought by many to be the site of the ancient Lake Tritonis, was in fact the "Atlantic Sea" referred to by Plato.

Paul Borchardt: Dachau-survivor turned Nazi spy

Paul Theodor Borchardt (1886-1953) was a German archaeologist, military man, and spy.  He is known today for his theory that the mythical city of Atlantis was located in Tunisia. The circumstances of his life during the Second World War are perhaps even more fascinating than his theories about Atlantis.

Borchardt was born in 1886 to Kommerzienrat (Councilor of Commerce) and Ältester der Berliner Kaufmannschaft (Senior of the Berlin Body of Merchants) Siegmund Salomon Borchardt and his wife Hedwig Borchardt. Though he was raised in a Jewish household, he left Judaism in favor of Protestantism, or Theosophy (sources differ). Later he would marry the painter Theodora Sattler and convert to Catholicism.

Borchardt had an exceptional academic career which saw him taught by Siegfried Passarge and Karl Haushofer (with whom he kept in contact), Both Passarge and Haushofer contributed substantially to the intellectual framework of Nazism. Rudolf Hess was also a student of Haushofer.

He visited Liberia and southern Nigeria In 1912-'13 where he was involved in the research of aerial photography at the aviation test center at Johannisthal. In 1913-'14 he participated in a geographic expedition in Africa. The British explorer and expert on the Libyan Desert, W.J. Harding King, suspected Borchardt to be a German secret service agent.

At the beginning of the First World War, he volunteered for naval aviation. In a listing of the naval flyers by Kintner, a Borchard joined the naval pilot school as Matrose (sailor) on 5 October 1914. After a crash, he was assigned as an Arabic interpreter and later as a staff officer of the Marshall von Goltz army in Mesopotamia and at the German Military Mission in Constantinople. He was decorated with the EK II.

Borchardt seems to have been an ardent German nationalist. After the First World War, he was one of the founders of the “Schwarze Reichswehr”, a secret military organization to overcome the Allied restrictions of the German army to 100,000 men.

Upon the rise of the Nazis, Borchardt lost his job and suffered discrimination because of his Jewish heritage. He was imprisoned in Dachau Concentration Camp before the intercession of former colleagues in the Abwehr saw him released and sent to the United Kingdom. 

It is around this time that Borchardt's life - and allegiances - become very complicated. One would expect that after suffering at the hand of the Nazis, Borchardt would have eagerly aided the Allies - and it appears that he attempted to do that twice, first offering his services to Great Britain, and upon his rejection there, moving to the United States and again trying to become an asset of American intelligence.  In both cases, Borchardt's involvement with the Schwarze Reichswehr probably worked against him.

An extract from explains what happened to Borchardt next:

On 8 December 1941, a day after the Pearl Harbor bombing, the FBI arrested Borchardt in his rented room in New York. On 30 December 1941 he was accused of espionage as a member of the German spy group Ludwig and bail of $25,000 was set on 1 January 1942. Borchardt had been supported by his wife with money transferred through the German consulate. But one day the newly arrived German-American Kurt Frederick Ludwig, a US citizen working for the Abwehr, visited him under the name “Joe” Josef Kessler, and brought him $ 250. Borchardt liked “Joe” and met him occasionally in his place or in a seashore cottage. According to his statements before court he never knew that “Joe” was a spy. Seubert reported after the war that it had been difficult to keep Borchardt as a V-Mann without him being a spy. When Major Ulrich von der Osten of the Abwehr became the chief of the US spying network he traveled to New York via Japan disguised as a Spanish citizen. Shortly after his arrival on 18 March 1941 he and Ludwig walked at Times Square when von der Osten was hit by a cab and then run over by a car and killed. Ludwig took his briefcase and ran. The FBI found information in von der Osten’s hotel room that finally uncovered his true name as a German spy. Ludwig continued as the leader of the spy ring and traveled to US military installations. His reports were sent by mail to Germany and already had been intercepted by the British Imperial Censorship in Bermuda. Ludwig came under FBI surveillance. By August 1941 Ludwig sensed that he was under surveillance and drove by car to Montana and continued by bus to the west coast, hoping to make his way back to Germany via Japan. On 23 August he was arrested by the FBI in the State of Washington. There he tried to bribe the sheriff who informed the FBI but played the game and asked for money. According to Winfried Meyer Ludwig gave the sheriff a name and address to ask for $ 200 for “Joe”. This address was the one of Paul Borchardt. But according to other publications Borchardt’s name also was detected in documents rescued from incineration by the janitor Walter Morrissey of the German consulate, a FBI agent, shortly before the beginning of the war. Borchardt, together with other members of the spy group “Joe K” – Ludwig was accused of spying by the Federal Court of Southern New York and was sentenced on 13 March 1942 to 20 years imprisonment. On 4 March 1942 he stated to the court that he was a Major “on parole” [ausser Dienst = retired?] of the German Army who could not reveal any names of friends and former comrades that helped him to escape Germany because they would be persecuted by the Gestapo. He also defined himself as a Jewish refugee and anti-Nazi. The prosecutor had called him a “fake refugee” and “corps on parole”. Borchardt’s silence and lack of cooperation were considered to be stubbornness and the judge gave him the longest sentence of 20 years. He was imprisoned in Leavenworth. After the war some of his family and former comrades tried to obtain clemency for Borchardt. Seubert, who was the Abwehr man who had supported and helped him to leave Germany, was according to his own reports very active in this matter. Seubert, the Abwehr officer, like many others of the office, worked for the US Army intelligence and later joined the Gehlen organization , the predecessor of the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst). With the help of the German foreign ministry Borchardt was pardoned and released from the prison on 27 August 1952 (or 7 July 1952). He returned to Germany and lived with his wife in Oberammergau. He died on 29 September 1957 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.