Is bounty hunting a profitable profession



1 Florian Homm HEAD MONEY HUNT How I was gunned down in Venezuela while trying to save Borussia Dortmund FBV

2 1. A lovely family No price is too high for the privilege of belonging to yourself. Friedrich Nietzsche Your home is regarded as an exemplary home, your life as an exemplary life. Yet all of this splendor, including yourself. It's like all of this was built on quicksand. There might come a moment, a word may be spoken, and both you and all of the splendor will collapse. Henrik Ibsen My home has never been an exemplary home. It was shattered from the start. On the mother's side, the family roots can be traced back to the 16th century and include Peter Joseph Valckenberg, famous wine exporter and mayor of the city of Worms (), which was one of the Free Cities of the Holy Roman Empire. In addition to his mayor's office, he was a clever entrepreneur who acquired the vineyards around the Worms Liebfrauenkirche and exported the wine that was cultivated there, which was already famous at the time, the Liebfrauenmilch. Some nobles are also represented in the family tree of this powerful and influential family, which has its origins in Rhineland-Palatinate and Franconia. A family crest describes a fire-breathing dragon holding a shield that, oddly enough, is adorned with a Star of David. When I once had a coat of arms made for my then wife in Boston, the Armenian jeweler asked me if I wanted to keep the Jewish star

3 Part I Beginnings I would like to see whether I would prefer the more Christian pentagram as a more suitable alternative for a non-Jewish couple. My wife and I looked at each other and started laughing at the same time, choosing the Star of David. We didn't want to distort the story just to keep an appearance. Was it possible that Mayor Valckenberg had Jewish origins? Necko would turn around in his grave if he could hear me now. Valckenberg would certainly not be the first German with Jewish ancestry who bought his way into the industrial aristocracy and forgot his Jewish origins in the process. We have some strange family portraits that popped up in our neighbors' attic after the Second World War and that depict my mother Uschi's wonderful Mexican grandmother, who was called Maria Eva Peres and was easily removed from the original family tree shortly after the First World War has been. My ex-wife was convinced that some of my mother and I have Jewish blood. In addition to wealthy patriarchs with hidden Semitic roots, there are generations of merchants, textile and coal barons, a member of parliament, a former resistance fighter who spied for the Allies, and a central figure in Hitler's Nazi Germany: the retail magnate and winner of an Olympic gold medal, my great-uncle Dr. Josef Neckermann. Necko, as we called him, became my role model and was also my de facto grandfather. I never met my maternal grandparents or my uncle Mockel because they either died in a car accident in 1948 or were assassinated by American soldiers. You don't know exactly. My grandmother, Necko's sister, was reportedly an elegant and attractive woman. She grew up in a privileged environment, looked after by housemaids, cooks and private tutors. My grandmother was open, emotional, and more down to earth than my grandfather. Both loved the good life. My grandparents ran an open 36

4 A lovely family marriage, which was a completely unimaginable concept at the time. However, their diaries and letters reveal an intense and happy relationship. They were liberal, extremely tolerant, and indulgent. Their children enjoyed all privileges and hardly knew any restrictions. No doubt her parents showered her with love. My grandfather, Dr. Hans Lang, did his doctorate in law and in the thirties sold weapons for the opposition. He wrote two articles harshly criticizing the Nazis, and as a result, he lost his lawyer license. In his early thirties he moved from Bavaria to Berlin and worked successfully as a textile manufacturer and wholesaler. After the Anschluss in 1938 he was appointed to the logistics headquarters of the Reichswehr in Berlin, where he stayed until 1945. According to relatives, he apparently provided the Allies with highly sensitive information from a secret communications location in Hofheim throughout the war. He was never drafted. His language skills (Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Italian, Spanish, English, Greek and Serbo-Croatian), his great organizational talent and his wide-ranging international contacts were simply too important for the Nazis to be wasted on the battlefield. I would have liked to have met this enigmatic, opportunistic agent provocateur; he was sure to be an interesting man. He was denazified the same day the Allies invaded his hometown. Usually it would take months, if not years, for a high-ranking technocrat. Necko, for example, was convicted as a war criminal. Even after his release from prison, he was subject to strict travel and work restrictions for several years. Immediately after the war, however, my grandfather was appointed high-ranking liaison officer between the supply system of the Allied powers and the southern and central German municipalities in Germany. In my aunt's autobiography (Kristin Feireiss, Wie ein Haus aus Karten, Ullstein Verlag) I read that he was one of the largest German black market dealers of his time. 37

5 Part I Beginnings My mother and various relatives suspect that he worked as a spy for the Allies, especially the Americans, for most of the war, which would explain his prompt denazification and remarkable post-war privileges. His "official" companies made millions. It can be assumed that his clandestine business was even more profitable. "He lived a very dangerous life," said his mother, and his daughter Tini said, "My father had numerous powerful enemies." Like me, he tried to hedge his personal risks . While I was making pacts with the dark side, powerful Kurdish leaders and later the IRA, my grandfather counted the Frankfurt police chief among his "preferred" business partners in order to protect himself. A fortune-offered partner spent three years in prison trying to keep my grandfather out. The German black market trade was divided according to the Allied zones. The French were active in the west, the English in the north and the Americans in central and southern Germany. Since the Russians didn't have much to offer in terms of goods, all groups were represented in the Eastern Zone. Only a few Germans enjoyed an outstanding position in the black market trade, least of all as independent traders. Given his extensive understanding of logistics and his contacts with high-ranking representatives of the American supply system, it was naturally easy for my grandfather to sell American goods to his compatriots. That would also explain how a man whose empire was destroyed by war could rise to a nabob in just three years. He wore coats made of Russian sable, drove the most expensive cars and lived in a palatial residence. Without the slightest doubt, Hans Lang was a magnate who lived on the edge or even beyond legality just like me. A few years after the war, the black market made up a good third of all economic activity in financial terms. According to reliable sources, its main competitors were not other German black market dealers, but black market organizations operated by 38

6 A lovely family of American servicemen at middle management level and headed by members of the special operations units in Munich, Heidelberg, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Frankfurt. These organizations only employed Germans for menial jobs, such as packaging and individual sales. Hans Lang had his own organization with large warehouses and other smaller distribution facilities throughout the American occupation zone. Both groups sourced much of their goods from other similar establishments. This regularly led to conflicts and not infrequently there were violent clashes. Although my grandfather was not defenseless, he lost deliveries of goods to his more powerful and better networked American counterparts in organized looting of his warehouses. Were Hans Lang and most of his family the victims of an unfortunate accident? It is extremely unlikely. A large, heavy US Army truck literally flattened Lang's Opel. Probably all of the occupants were dead on the spot when the truck ran over them. Then the truck backed up, dragged the car almost 30 meters across the freeway, and then pushed it over a slope on the side of the road. This ensured that the hit-and-run accident or the deliberate murder of Hans Lang and most of his family went unnoticed for a while, so that the perpetrators had enough time to disappear. The German police investigation was turned over to the US Military Police because the tire marks and paint particles indicated that the accident was the result of a collision with a very large and heavily motorized US Army truck. Since the American truck must have been severely damaged, a simple check of the vehicle fleet would have been sufficient to find out which vehicle was involved in the "accident" and who was behind the wheel at the time in question. Nothing of the sort happened, however. The Americans didn’t even bother to answer the German police’s request for clarification. They had won the war and, like all winners, they could do whatever they wanted with impunity. End of the story! 39

7 Part I Beginnings My mother always tells me how much I remind her of her father. My linguistic abilities, my physical characteristics, my facial expression and my attitude towards extremely adverse situations as well as my gestures were very similar to my grandfather. My mother does not see her father as an unscrupulous profiteer, but as a brilliant man and caring father, a free market advocate, a rebel and, in the worst case, a risk-taking daredevil who did everything to ensure the well-being of his family and friends in desperate times. Thousands of people attended the funeral in Würzburg. After my mother and her two sisters were orphans, Necko and his wife Annemie took them in. Necko also took control of the Lang family's assets. The asset manager who was employed for my mother and my aunts was a long-time employee in Necko's company. The more I deal with our family history, the more I realize that my mother and aunts in the Neckermann clan were treated like second-class children. You weren't really loved. Your money, on the other hand, does. Despite the various appeals from the school principal, my mother was not allowed to study at the university. Instead, she had to become a seamstress, a job she has not done a single day in her life. My aunt Jula, who according to Neckermann standards had degenerated, was a helpless soul and a failure, was banished from the family. My aunt Tini was not allowed to invite her own sister to the wedding unless she wanted to be excluded from the family as well. Who were Necko and Annemie that they banished and threatened their own stepdaughters and nieces, respectively? Real parents love unconditionally. They do not blackmail their children and do not exclude them. Your doors and hearts are always open. It was no surprise that Necko's inheritance was not split into seven equal parts among all children after his death 40

8 Became a lovely family. Predictably, Neckos and Annemie's own children, Evi, Johannes and Peter, inherited 99 percent of the property. Emotional needs were regularly ignored and potential scandals were swept under the rug. Any indication of a problem was ignored, covered up and never mentioned again. The Neckermanns' obsession with their public image left no room for weakness and human imperfection. Similarly, my pursuit of wealth left little time and energy for the emotional needs of my wife and children. On my father's side, my family's origins are far more prosaic, going back about years. The family, who supposedly worked as arms bearers and thugs for local robber barons in the Middle Ages, managed to earn a decent living as all-round craftsmen, plumbers and electricians. Typical Christmas gifts from our grandparents were two pairs of socks for each grandchild. However, their use was severely restricted as they remained eternal prisoners in my grandparents' house and could only be worn when we were visiting. As soon as we drove home, the socks had to be returned to their guards until the next visit. I loved these socks. I remember my grandfather Willi's funeral because it gave me a bloody lip. Hundreds of people attended the celebration, including many old Nazis. Many older women cried as if they had just lost their firstborn to Charles Manson. My older sister Barbara and I were part of the condolence series that included my parents, my grandfather's much younger widow (my step-grandmother Sophie), the grandchildren and some more distant relatives. My sister and I felt neither sorrow nor pain. We were glad that the old man had finally disappeared from our lives. In fact, we knew him too well to mourn him. He had tried to usurp my father's legacy, was a terrible 41

9 Part I Beginnings miserly and never had a kind word for anyone below him socially. He sold new washing machines from which he removed the new engine and replaced it with a used one, keeping the new engine. If the washing machine broke shortly after delivery, he charged the customer for installing the new motor plus a hefty installation surcharge. The man was a miniature impostor very different from me. I thought of the whole scene as a gigantic comedy. All the local hyenas had come to pay their last respects to their lead hyenas. What got on my nerves more than anything were the expressions of grief and the heartbreaking handshakes. I found it hard to put on a poker face. As I stared at the crowd in disbelief, my sister turned to me, pinched my arm, and whispered to me, “Pull yourself together and stop being so disrespectful. Show the pain you feel inside you and let your tears run free, Florian. «Meanwhile, the pastor told us that Willis' boundless generosity and his energy had enriched all of our lives. Barbara moved just inches from my face and said, “Weep the love lost for Willis. He stood for what is best about us Germans: discipline, organization, obedience, muscles as hard as Kruppstahl, fast as lightning and tough as leather. "She quoted a saying from a speech by Hitler he gave to the Hitler Youth in 1935 had held in Nuremberg. She hit the nail on the head with her mockery. Willi had spent years in French war crimes camps before finally returning after the war, and the father of his second wife was the Nazi mayor of our hometown of Oberursel. Then Barbara clicked her heels together like an SS sergeant and pretended to salute the crowd. Then I couldn't hold myself back and began to sob with suppressed laughter, which from the outside looked like a crying fit. People around us feared that my grandfather's death was too much for me. An extremely concerned couple in their nineties came up to me and gave me a tight squeeze on my arm and 42

10 A lovely family my hand to calm me down. I would either burst into loud, hysterical laughter, pee in my pants, or both. To prevent this from happening, I bit my lower lip so hard that it started bleeding, and quite badly. The taste of blood had an immediate sobering effect. As I swallowed the first few drops, I managed to pull myself together and avoid eye contact with my sister, the mourners, and the nice old couple. I stared dully at my cheap, polished black shoes and sorted my thoughts and feelings. A few minutes later, I apologized by saying I am not feeling well, found a park bench, and read the local newspaper I brought with me in case I got bored at the funeral.After some thought, and given the fact that they had disinherited me, I came to the conclusion that Sophie and Willi Homm were petty, wretched, hypocritical, petty-bourgeois ex-Nazis. As a result, they do not deserve any further attention. When my mother married my father Jochen, the contrast couldn't have been greater. Jochen was the prototype of an Aryan: a stature of 1.94 meters, blue eyes, blonde, athletic, an outstanding athlete, skier, tennis player and fencer. He came from a small business family. My mother was a member of the upper class. As a favorite of the Hitler Youth, my father had been asked in 1944 to reinforce Hitler's bodyguard, but he refused. In the spring of 1945 my father and his squadron of 14 to 16 year old boys were called to march to Berlin to support the Führer in the final victory. My father and a friend ran away at dawn. His classmates died either in the final battle or in Russian lead mines after the war. Deserting had been the right decision. On the outside, my father looked charming. He was however full of water, calculating and cold-blooded. His sense of humor and flirtation was 43

11 Part I Beginnings extremely pronounced, at least measured against German standards. The women gathered around him like moths around the light. He also had a paternal, caring side, but that diminished over time. I remember he spent an entire night on the edge of my bed after I sustained a terribly painful injury to my ankle. He also worked day and night to pay for my private school and college education. I often accompanied him on business trips, on which he introduced me to his worldview. He told me how to get to the top of the pyramid. He was caring, even attentive, but from the time I started my studies at Harvard University, our priorities began to diverge dramatically. Just like Necko, Jochen was increasingly interested in social advancement, whereas I was increasingly interested in developing my skills and developing a résumé with which I could maximize my future wealth. Unlike my father and great-uncle, I didn't care about my reputation or social status as long as they didn't clash with my plans to become a billionaire. Three generations of ill-advised men had sold their souls and families for money and social status. Jochen did not take part in my wedding celebration in 1989 in Gruyère, Switzerland.I had made the mistake of not giving up my mother completely during the divorce process of my parents, unlike my siblings, but instead watched the celebrations with his lover from the castle wall. During the divorce war I tried to treat my parents equally and to keep in touch with both of them. As his favorite child, my father never forgave me for not taking his side. He found my behavior disloyal and felt betrayed. The end of the song was that I lost my father. I could sell my soul to the devil, but I refused to give up on my mother. I've always had an innate sense of fairness. Besides, I am not open to blackmail, neither with money nor with feelings. 44

12 A Lovely Family Our wedding favors were a fake Rolex that had cost $ 25 and an equally fake Gucci handbag from Thailand for Susan, brought by one of his water carriers. I was upset and angry. I looked up to my father for most of my life. As my ex-wife always was, she believed that my extended forays into juvenile delinquency, my anger, my heavy media focus, and later my often hostile business practices were all desperate attempts to communicate with my father and gain his attention and love. I tried to reach out to him for 15 years, but he refused all contact. I wrote letters, sent family photos, and called him. Jochen never answered. He doesn't even know his grandchildren. Susan told our children that Jochen died years ago. In a figurative sense, she was right. Ten years ago, I gave up trying to connect with him. I've made up for the fact that after the death of my sister and a brother who wasn't the least bit interested in me, I had little family left with the exception of my mother. Regardless, my door is always open to my father and brother. My mother looked like Sophia Loren. She was quite tall, with well-formed curves, high cheekbones, noticeably dark skin, and wavy auburn hair. She is highly intelligent, serious, suspicious, introverted and reserved. It takes about twelve years for her to warm to another person. She always complained that she had so few friends, but her efforts to make friends have been dubious at best. I tried to help her by giving her Dale Carnegie's book How to Make Friends: The Art of Becoming Popular and Influential. She read it and said, "Fucking someone else's butt is submissive and wrong. Carnegie is insincere and a weirdo. In addition, such ass-creeping requires too many character contortions from me. I would rather be unhappy than anyone's darling. ”Without a doubt my mother is authentic. She came to our wedding, gave us generous gifts and intimidated the best 45

13 Part I Beginnings one of my dad's friends and pissed them off. She made some pretty impressive scenes, but that was fine with me. "She's my mom, she can do whatever she wants," I laughed as I watched her target and terrorize her favorite targets. Their style, money, intellect, and tradition mated with the pure commercial energy and bare social ambition of my father. What a crazy and symbiotic connection. In fairness, it must be said that my father wisely used my mother's inheritance to build a regional, medium-sized, highly profitable construction company that helped pay for our expensive education. Their children were, of course, giants. My sister was taller than six feet, my brother, Hajo, was six feet and I was two meters. With his steely blue-gray eyes, his blond hair and his pale skin, the round head and his massive physique, my brother looks like a wet Nazi dream, whereas my sister and I were more like oversized Latin American-Arab hybrids. Hajo graduated from the London School of Economics and is an engineer. He worked with my father for several years before becoming an antique dealer. Hajo has extraordinary math skills and was a gifted painter in his youth. He never liked me, possibly because my father paid more attention to me than to him. He was delighted when my father turned away from me during his war of divorce. Once he said to me that you can choose your friends, but not your brother. My parents, neither of whom went to university, placed great emphasis on education, sophistication, and extensive travel. On my twelfth birthday, my father gave me Egon Corti's book The Rise of the Rothschild House, which I devoured within two days and kept forever. Necko's die-hard Catholic family found it strange that 46

14 A lovely family a Gentile was so interested in this world that he even wanted to work in it, because for them it was a purely Jewish world. And so my nonconformist nature led me to ask myself with fascination: "What do the Jews do, what do they know, how can I learn?" This topic was very close in the truest sense, because the Rothschilds come from the Jewish district of Frankfurt. I said to myself that if I decided to have children, preferably boys, I would send them all over the world to build up a bombastic financial empire like the money changer Mayer Amschel Rothschild around the corner. My father also told me, "The closer you get to money, the easier it is to get money." This basic lesson seemed extremely logical to me. The first seeds for a career in the financial world were successfully planted. Until then, I had fed deer with walnuts in the harsh winters and filled the rivers and lakes around Oberursel with brown trout in the spring, because I had the idea of ​​becoming a forester or gamekeeper. This career aspiration quickly faded. As far as our social status was concerned, we belonged to the upper middle class, while the Neckermann side belonged to the economic and social elite. As part of Necko's family tourage, we were invited to many high society events where I met countless celebrities. However, my moral education was rather poor and deficient, not to say Machiavellian. My mother was a notorious cheater. One of her lovers was only two years older than me. I once spent a nerve-wracking weekend with her at my London house, waiting for him to arrive. He never showed up and I had to play the psychiatrist for several days. My mother wasn't the perfect wife in every way. Uschi's extremely liberal attitude towards her own sexual fulfillment is explained by her childhood and adolescence. Her parents were in an open marriage. After my marriage, Uschi openly encouraged me to sleep with other women in front of my wife. She was a firm believer in 47