GRAND ADMIRAL DÖNITZ --
Most secret -- urgent -- officer only
The Führer died yesterday at 15:30 hours. Testament of April 29th appoints you as Reich President, Reich Minister Dr. Göbbels as Reich Chancellor, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reich Minister Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. By order of the Führer, the Testament has been sent out of Berlin to you, to Field Marshal Schörner, and for preservation and publication. Reichsleiter Bormann intends to go to you today and to inform you of the situation. Time and form of announcement to the Press and to the troops is left to you. Confirm receipt.
Telegram sent from the Führerbunker at 15:15 on 1 May 1945
On 2 May 1945, the Battle in Berlin ended when General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army. It is generally agreed that, by this day, Martin Bormann had left the Führerbunker. It has been claimed that he left with Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the city.
As World War II came to a close, Bormann had held out with Hitler in the Führerbunker in Berlin. On 30 April, just before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout.
On May 1, within hours of Hitler's suicide, Reichskanzler Josef Göbbels sent German General Hans Krebs and Weidling's Chief-of-Staff, von Dufving, under a white flag to talk with General Vasily Chuikov. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Krebs arrived shortly before 04:00, taking Chuikov by surprise. Krebs spoke Russian fluently and informed Chuikov that Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife, had killed themselves in the Führerbunker. Chuikov, who was not aware that there was a Bunker under the Reich Chancellery or that Hitler was married, calmly said that he already knew. Chuikov was not, however, prepared to negotiate with Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender. Krebs was not authorized by Göbbels to agree to an unconditional surrender.
After supervising the corpse-disposal arrangements following on the suicide of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun on the afternoon 30 April 1945, and waiting in vain for a further twenty-four hours for a favourable reply from the Soviet commanders to the overtures made to them by Dr Josef Göbbels, Germany's new Chancellor-for-a-Day, Bormann and a group of Hitler's senior colleagues made a final breakout attempt from the Führerbunker late on May 1.
They planned to follow tunnels from the Chancellery to the subway line, and then follow the line north, under the Friedrichstrasse, to the Friedrichstrasse station a few hundred yards south of the river Spree. At that point they would surface, link up with what was left of Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke's battle group, and attempt to force their way across the Weidendammer Bridge. Then they would proceed north-west, through the Russian lines, and save themselves as best they could.
At 8:00 am on 30 April Hitler had dictated to Martin Bormann his last military commands. Orders were transmitted by Bormann to the Battle Group Mohnke to break out of the government district and join up out of Berlin with beleaguered troops which were trying to continue some struggle.
Tiger at the Gate
30 April 1945
A Tiger I and PAK 40 anti tank gun of the "Münchberg" Division, field a final defence of the capital in front of the Brandenburg Gate under the shattered remains of the famous Linden trees. The under-strength division had just been formed the previous month from a mixture of ad hoc units and various marks of tank. Despite this it put up a spirited fight until its final destruction in early May
The Last Battle
30 April 1945
Unterscharführer Karl-Heinz Turk of the Schwere SS Panzerabteilung 503, in one of the units few remaining Kingtigers, defends the Potsdammer Platz along with elements of the Münchberg Division against the rapidly encroaching Soviet forces.
Panther at the Zoo
2 May 1945
Below the vast bulk of the Zoo Bunker one of three giant Flak towers designed to defend Berlin from air attack,
some remnants of the city's defenders gather in an
attempt to break out of the doomed capital.
Amongst which are troops from the 9th Fallschirmjäger
and Münchberg Panzer Divisions, including a
rare Nightfighting equipped Panther G of Oberleutnant Rasim's Company, 1/29th Panzer Regiment
Escape to the Elbe, Berlin
3 May 1945
Following Hitlers death, the decision was taken by the officers and men of Sturmartillerie Brigade 249 to break out of the doomed capital. Shortly before midnight on the 3rd, what remained of the unit fought to the edge of the city at Spandau. By this time the brigade had been split into two elements, the first under Hauptmann Herbert Jaschke successfully punched their way out to the west.
The second group was not so lucky, and its survivors fell
into Soviet captivity
SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, the last Waffen-SS officer promoted to General by Hitler, was personally appointed by Hitler as the [Kommandant] Battle Commander for the defense of the centre government quarter/district [Zitadelle sector] that included the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker. Mohnke's command post was under the Reich Chancellery in the Bunkers therein. He formed the Kampfgruppe Mohnke [Battle Group Mohnke] and it was divided into two weak regiments. It was made up of the LSSAH Flak Company, replacements from LSSAH Ausbildungs-und Ersatz Battalion from Spreenhagan [under SS-Standartenführer Günther Anhalt],600 men from the Reichsführer SS Begleit Battalion, the Führer-Begleit-Kompanie and the core group being the 800 men of the Leibstandarte [LSSAH] SS Guard Battalion [that was assigned to guard the Führer] and the remnants of 33. Waffen Grenadier Division der SS "Charlemagne". It also boasted a large quantity of weapons, including several Tiger II tanks of the 503rd SS Heavy Tank Battalion.
Although Hitler had appointed General Helmuth Weidling as defense commandant of Berlin, Mohnke remained free of Weidling's command to maintain his defense objectives of the Reich Chancellery and the Führerbunker. The combined total [for the city's defense] of Mohnke's SS Kampfgruppe, General Weidling's LVI Panzer Corps [and the other few units] totaled roughly 45,000 soldiers and 40,000 Volkssturm. They faced 1.5 million Soviet troops.
A key figure in the final battles around Berlin was Waffen-SS general Felix Steiner, who still commanded what was left of his III SS Panzer Corps. During Himmler's brief command in Pomerania, Steiner's force had been grandly retitled the Eleventh SS Panzer Army, but in reality it consisted of little more than an oversized division. The core of Steiner's command was the Nordland and Nederland Divisions, which were still made up respectively of Scandinavian and Dutch Nazi sympathizers. They were both oversized regimental battle groups with around 3000-4000 fighting troops each. His corps was later reinforced by the Flemish-speaking Belgians of the Langemark Division and French-speaking Belgians of the Wallonien Division, which were much smaller than the other two units of the corps.
Steiner's men were a hard core of veterans from the Eastern Front, but were desperately short of tanks, artillery, trucks and other essential equipment. The Nordland Division's Panzer battalion alone had heavy armoured vehicles in the shape of 26 StuG III assault guns and 2 Panther tanks, of which only half were operational at any time. Steiner's men were positioned to the north of the German capital behind the main defensive position on the Oder as a reserve counter-attack force. Steiner's command was a shadow of its former self, and Hitler gave it an importance in his plans out of all proportion to its capabilities.
It is worth noting that Hitler expected to win at Berlin. He intended to stay to draw Soviet divisions to surround him and then for Steiner's army, Volksturm units and SS divisions to smash the Soviets against the "Anvil" of Berlin from behind.
As the noose tightened around Berlin a week into the offensive, the Nordland Division was trapped in the city along with the Zitadelle garrison. It received last-minute reinforcements in the shape of 350 French Waffen-SS volunteers who had driven through Soviet lines to join the defence of Berlin. Their unit, the Waffen-SS Charlemagne Division, had only just been disbanded after a spate of desertions. The hard-core members of the unit had nowhere else to go because the Free French government of Charles de Gaulle regarded them all as traitors. Their commander, Gustav Krukenberg, was sent to take over the Nordland, which occupied the southeastern sector of the Berlin perimeter. The scene when he arrived was apocalyptic. The divisional headquarters had just been bombed by Soviet aircraft. Dead and dying soldiers were littering the area. The surviving Waffen-SS men of the division were utterly exhausted and only 70 men were manning the front. The remainder were wounded or too exhausted to fight.
By 28 April, the German defenders were being driven back relentlessly and Soviet troops were fighting on the fringes of the Zitadelle defence sector. The Leibstandarte troops trapped inside put up fanatical resistance, launching counterattack after counterattack against Red Army troops battling through Berlin's city centre. Single Waffen-SS Tiger II tanks emerged from the ruins to take on columns of Josef Stalin II tanks, only to attract a hail of Soviet fire. It was heroic but futile.
The Berlin garrison was being steadily squeezed from all directions. Division affiliations broke down as units were chopped apart by the Soviets. Defenders coalesced around the few senior commanders still organizing resistance or who had communications with the Führer Bunker. The surviving foreign volunteers of the Nordland Division soon retreated into the Zitadelle sector and fell under Mohnke's command. Only some 600-700 men now remained in each of his two regiments, along with surviving French Nazis. The defence of the Zitadelle sector was also joined by a couple of hundred Latvian members of the Waffen-SS.
Inside the Führer Bunker, Hitler was increasingly deranged by the failure of his generals to rescue him. When he heard about Steiner's failure to attack, his faith in the Waffen-SS was shaken to the core. The hammer blow was repeated when reports started to emerge that Himmler was trying to negotiate with the Western Allies.
Hitler sent SS General Wilhelm Mohnke under a white flag to try and negotiate Hitler's escape from Berlin and flight to Tokyo with Marshall Zuhkov.
The Soviets were offered the capitulation of all German forces in northern Germany and Denmark, but they rejected this. [source: "The Bormann Brotherhood", by William Stevenson]
His suicide was by no means Hitler's plan until the last couple of days.
Since Mohnke's fighting force was located at the nerve center of the German Third Reich it fell under the heaviest artillery bombardment of the war, which began as a birthday present to Hitler on 20 April 1945 and lasted to the end of hostilities on 8 May 1945. Under pressure from the most intense shelling, Mohnke and his SS troops put up stiff resistance against impossible odds. The Red Army race to take the Reichstag and Reich Chancellery condemned the SS troops to bitter and bloody street fighting. Completely encircled and cut off from reinforcements, without hope of relief or withdrawal, his Kampfgruppe fought off Russian advances, inflicting heavy and costly casualties.
On 30 April, Unterscharführer Georg Diers and his crew of tank 314, were ordered to take up a defensive position at the Reichstag buildings. This was one of only two remaining King Tigers belonging to Heavy SS Tank Battalion 503, attached to the 11th Waffen SS Panzergrenadier Nordland. By that evening they had knocked out about 30 T34s, and the following day led a successful counterattack against the Kroll Opera House directly opposite the Reichstag. Their efforts though, merely postponed the inevitable and by the end of the day, after receiving news of Hitler's suicide, orders were issued to abandon the position and that those who could do so were to prepare to break out of Berlin.
The plan was to escape from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or the German Army to the North. Prior to the breakout, Mohnke briefed all commanders [who could be reached)]within the Zitadelle sector about the events as to Hitler's death and the planned break out. It was a "fateful moment" for Brigadeführer Mohnke as he made his way out of the Reich Chancellery on 1 May. He had been the first duty officer of the LSSAH at the building and now was leaving as the last battle commander there. Mohnke's group included his Adjutant Arthur Klingemeier, Hitler's personal pilot, Hans Baur, the chief of the Reichssicherheitsdienst [RSD] Hans Rattenhuber, secretary Traudl Junge, secretary Gerda Christian, secretary Else Krüger, Hitler's dietician, Constanze Manziarly, Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, and various others. Despite the temptation of a westbound breakout, Mohnke planned to break out north to a German army hold-out on the Prinzenallee
The group headed along the subway but their route was blocked so they went above ground and later joined hundreds of other Germans civilians and military personnel who had sought refuge at the Schultheiss-Patzenhofer Brewery.
"It was planned for ten groups to break out from the Führer Bunker on the night of 1 May 1945 and penetrate the encirclement by force of arms. Brigadeführer Mohnke, commander of the Citadel, planned the operation and led out the first group at 2300.
"Initially they made good progress and eluded detection before reaching the subway station at Wilhelmsplatz. From there they walked down the tunnel towards Stadtmitte station. They had no contact to other groups, being without radios. They came to an iron door which sealed the tunnel. Before it stood two uniformed officials of the Berlin transport board, who refused to open the door since it was required to be kept shut at night by the regulations.
"Now occurred the most incomprehensible event in the entire drama. Berlin would fall to the Russians tomorrow. This was a last minute desperate attempt to escape years of captivity or worse. The women if captured were likely to be raped. Armed to the teeth, instead of drawing their pistols and forcing the officials to open the door, the SS group, led by Mohnke, a Knights Cross holder and hero of many battles, his group now swollen to several hundred strong by refugees and stragglers, accepted the regulations governing an underground railway system which had not functioned for weeks, and turned back".
-- Kempka, Erich, "Die letzten Tage mit Adolf Hitler" [The Last Days with Adolf Hitler], Preussisch-Oldendorf, 1981. An English edition of the book was published in 2010 by Frontline Books, under the title "I was Hitler's Chauffeur: The Memoirs of Erich Kempka"
Upon learning of General Weidling's order of 2 May 1945, calling for the complete surrender of all German forces still in Berlin [and knowing they could not get through the Soviet rings], Mohnke decided to surrender to the Soviet Army. However, several of Mohnke's group [including some of the SS personnel] opted to commit suicide. Some groups kept up pockets of resistance throughout the city and did not surrender until 8 May 1945.
Following their surrender Mohnke and other senior German officers were treated to a banquet by the Chief of Staff of the 8th Guards Army, General Vladimir Alexei Belyavski, who tried to get them drunk with Vodka to get information on Hitler's death. They didn't talk, Rattenhuber was taken to Moscow, where on 20 May he gave a long and detailed description of the last days of Hitler and the Nazi leadership in the Bunker. The text of this was kept in the Soviet archives until it was published by V.K. Vinogradov in the Russian edition of "Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB in 2000"; and Mohnke was then handed over to the NKVD and on 9 May 1945 flown to Moscow for interrogation and kept in solitary confinement until 1949, when he was transferred to the Generals' Prison in Woikowo. He remained in captivity until 10 October 1955. He died in the coastal village of Damp, near Eckernförde in Schleswig-Holstein in August 2001, at the age of 90.
At 23:00 hours the mass escape began. Moving in small groups, they proceeded underground, as planned, to the Friedrichstrasse station. Here they emerged to find the ruins of Berlin in flames, and Russian shells bursting everywhere around them. Soviet troops were closing in on the building from every quarter, but it was the Soviet national holiday.
Werner Naumann, State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry, was the leader of break-out group number 3 from the Führerbunker. The group included Bormann, Ludwig Stumpfegger, who had succeeded Professor Theo Morell on 22 April as Hitler's last physician Artur Axmann, the Reichsjugendführer, who had smuggled out of the building with him the pistol with which Hitler had shot himself [according to Otto Günsche]. From that group, only Naumann and Axmann escaped the Soviet Army encirclement of Berlin and made it to western Germany.
The first group managed to cross the River Spree by an iron footbridge that ran parallel to the Weidendammer Bridge. The remaining groups likewise emerged at the Friedrichstrasse Station, but there became confused and disoriented. They made their way north along the Friedrichstrasse to the Weidendammer Bridge, where they found their way blocked, at the bridge's north end, by an anti-tank barrier and heavy Russian fire. They next withdrew to the south end of the bridge, where they were soon joined by a few German tanks. Gathering about the tanks, they again pressed forward, following the lead tanks as far as the Ziegelstrasse.
According to SS Major Joachim Tiburtius, in an interview published in the Berne newspaper "Der Bund" on 17 February 1953, Bormann and Axmann were crouching behind the tank using it as a mobile wall. When the tank was hit both men were thrown to the ground, Bormann's uniform smeared with filth. He left Axmann crouching behind a pile of rubble and pressed on. Major Tiburtius says he lost sight of Bormann at this point and turned back to the German lines which were still holding.
Fifteen minutes later, Tiburtius saw one building still intact - the Hotel Atlas - and he entered it seeking cover from the Russian bombardment. He was astonished to see Martin Bormann in the hotel lobby walking across the lobby towards the exit. Bormann was no longer wearing his uniform and had somewhere obviously found a suit of civilian clothes.
"He [Bormann] had by then changed into civilian clothes. We pushed on together towards the Schiffbauerdamm and the Albrectstrasse. Then I finally lost sight of him..."
Erich Kempka, Hitler's Chauffeur. testified at Nuremberg that he had last seen Werner Naumann walking a meter in front of Martin Bormann when the latter was hit by a Soviet rocket while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin.
Werner Naumann was State Secretary in Josef Göbbels' Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda during the Third Reich. He was appointed head of the Propaganda Ministry by Führer Adolf Hitler in his political testament after Dr. Göbbels was promoted to Reichskanzler. Naumann was present in the Führerbunker in Berlin in late April 1945.
Naumann was born in Guhrau in Silesia, Prussia, Germany. After finishing school, he studied political economics. Naumann joined the NSDAP in 1928. Naumann became a member of the SA where he rose to the rank of Brigadeführer by 1933. Thereafter, Naumann joined the SS. In 1937 he was Chief of the Propaganda Office in Breslau.
A year later he was made the personal aide of Josef Göbbels and in 1942 became his assistant secretary. His official title was "Undersecretary and Chief of the Minister's Office in the Propaganda Ministry". In April 1944 Naumann was named State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry. He was a member of the Freundeskreis Reichsführer SS around Heinrich Himmler and served in the Waffen-SS during World War II.
He was appointed Propaganda Minister in the Flensburg government of Karl Dönitz by Hitler's Testament of 29 April 1945. On 1 May 1945, he was the leader of break-out group number 3 from the Führerbunker. The group included Martin Bormann, Hans Baur [Bormann had convinced Hitler to issue an order to his pilot, Hans Baur, to fly Bormann to Dönitz], Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann. Erich Kempka testified at Nuremberg that he had last seen Naumann walking a metre in front of Martin Bormann when the latter was hit by a Soviet rocket while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin. However, according to Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann, the group followed a Tiger tank which spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge, but it was destroyed. Bormann, Stumpfegger and himself were "knocked over" when the tank was hit. Axmann crawled to a shellhole where he met up again with Naumann, Bormann, Baur and Stumpfegger and they all made it across the bridge. From that group, only Naumann and Axmann escaped the Soviet Army encirclement of Berlin and made it to western Germany. Then Naumann fled to Argentina.
In Argentina, Naumann became one of the editors of the neo-Nazi magazine "Der Weg" published by the Dürer Verlag, which circulated in the German community in June 1947. This attracted the interest of Israeli agents, who identified Naumann and made his presence known, and he decided to return to South Germany. He was in hiding there until 1949, when he started an apprenticeship as a bricklayer which he passed with excellent grades.
Naumann was the highest-ranking member of the Nazi hierarchy known to have gone to Argentina immediately postwar. How he entered is not known. The only Argentine author to have noticed him is Jorge Camarasa, who noted Naumann in his book, "Los Nazis en la Argentina" [Editorial Legasa, Buenos Aires]. Naumann's own book "Nau Nau gefährdet das Empire" was published by Dürer Haus in 1953.
Naumann was arrested by the British Army on 16 January 1953 and accused of being the leader of a Neo-Nazi group that attempted to infiltrate West German political parties; he was released after seven months in custody. Later on, he became director at a metal firm in Lüdenscheid owned by Göbbels' stepson Harald Quandt. He died in 1982 in Lüdenscheid in North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany, aged 73.
According to Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann, the group followed a Tiger tank which spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge, but it was destroyed. Bormann, Stumpfegger and himself were "knocked over" when the tank was hit. Axmann crawled to a shell hole where he met up again with Naumann, Bormann, Baur and Stumpfegger and they all made it across the bridge.
Another eyewitness later claimed to have observed the events at Weidendammer Bridge, also, and to be able to verify Bormann was killed by the tank blast. Except this witness, the Spaniard Juan Roca-Pinar, who, as an avowed Nazi was fighting near the bridge as part of a small SS unit, later reported that Bormann was not at the side of the tank but riding inside the tank when it was hit by the bazooka shell.
-- James McGovern, "Martin Bormann: 100,000 Marks Reward"
Roca-Pinar reported that he was ordered to board the tank and save Bormann, but when he opened the hatch to rescue survivors, he found Bormann dead from the blast. He nonetheless pulled Bormann's corpse from the tank before being forced to abandon it in the street under pressure of enemy fire.
Harry Mengershausen, a member of Hitler's bodyguard, agreed with Roca-Pinar - Bormann had been inside a tank. But he declared firmly that Bormann was not killed in the blast because he was not in the tank hit, but in an entirely different tank.
-- Ladislas Farago, "Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich"
Defence of the Reichstag, Berlin 1 May 1945
On the 30 April, Unterscharführer Georg Diers and his crew of tank 314, were ordered to take up a defensive position at the Reichstag buildings. This was one of only two remaining King Tigers belonging to Heavy SS Tank Battalion 503 in Berlin. By that evening they had knocked out about 30 T34's, and the following day led a successful counter attack against the Kroll Opera House directly opposite the Reichstag. Their efforts though, merely postponed the inevitable and by the end of the daythe order was given to abandon the position and prepare to break out of Berlin
In the book "Armour Battles of the Waffen-SS", a compilation of battle testimony from Waffen-SS Panzertruppen is the report by Unterscharführer Georg Diers, a Panzer Commander in SS PzAbt. 503 in the Battle for Berlin. In his entry for 1 May 1945 he says that he was ordered to the Reichschancellery to receive breakout orders. He states "I then had to go through this building and saw, at an inner yard near the wall, attempts to burn something [the body of Adolf Hitler] by throwing gasoline on it. With every attempt a cloud of smoke rose and the Russians immediately fired with mortar or artillery. Then two mines were put under it and detonated. Göbbels gave me the order: 'Assembly at the Friedrich Street railroad station, Weidenndammer Bridge. Three to five more Panzers may join you to breakout in the direction of Oranienburg'.
He goes on to say that as he was preparing for the breakout attempt:
"A number of uniformed men reported to me and requested to be taken along. They climbed onto the rear above the engine. We began our breakout at midnight or just before midnight.
"A high ranking officer joined us. His insignia could not be made out since he wore an overcoat. He was obviously respected by those around and asked to be taken along. He, too, climbed onto the rear".
His Königstiger received heavy fire from infantry and artillery coming from Ziegel Street and he says everything outside was shot off [track covers, tow cables, etc.] His driver drove at high speed onto the bridge and opened the commander's hatch and a an Untersturmführer appeared at the side.
"He stated he was the driver and second adjutant of Göbbels. He knew his way around the Berlin streets. He told me that he had jumped on to the track cover on the left when the Panzer had started out and had held on to the turret since he knew that there was fairly violent firing at Ziegel Street. To the question as to what had happeend to the people on the rear, he said they had been ripped apart. There were only pieces of cloth and flesh left... He was well informed and told me that the last one to join us was Martin Bormann".
Now it was every man for himself. Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann walked along railroad tracks to Lehrter station. Bormann and Stumpfegger followed the railway tracks towards Stettiner Station. Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back and later insisted he had seen the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger behind the bridge, where the Invalidienstrasse crosses the railroad tracks near the railroad switching yard (Stettiner Bahnhof) with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. Both were dead. He did not check the bodies, so he did not know how they died.
Axmann could see no signs of an explosion, and assumed that they had been shot in the back.
The bodies must have lain there some time. Bormann's expensive leather greatcoat was taken off the body, and the contents of its pockets were taken to Moscow, including his pocket diary: the entire diary is reproduced [including some, but not all, of the original longhand pages] in "Die letzten Notizen von Martin Bormann. Ein Dokument und sein Verfasser" by Lev Bezyminski [Stuttgart: DVA, 1974]. There is no doubt as to the diary's authenticity, as crosschecks with other rare documents establish.
There is unique testimony that proves the Bormann diary to be a fake
Shortly after the war, pilot Hanna Reitsch, who was in the Führerbunker for three days [26–29 April 1945], told American interrogator Robert E. Work that during this period Bormann had been writing an extremely detailed document which he intended to preserve for posterity.
Work recorded: "Bormann rarely moved from his writing desk. He was 'putting down events for future generations'. Every word, every action was recorded on paper. Often, he would approach someone and gloomily ask about the exact contents of the Führer's conversation with a person to whom he had just given an audience. He also meticulously wrote down everything that took place with the others in the Bunker. This document was supposed to be removed from the Bunker at the last moment so that, according to the modest Bormann, it could 'take its place among the greatest chapters of German history'.
However, the Bormann diary, which the Russians subsequently presented to the world is a paltry affair containing entries that are typically only between one and three short lines long. The diary is only a few months long and reads like a reminder note book with entries such as
24 February 1945 --- Met with Gauleiters, Hierl awarded German Order. It really does not have any real insights at all.
The most substantial entry that for 27 April, runs to a mere eight lines. On 30 April 1945 there is an obscure entry:
30. 4. 45
Eva H. [Hitler]
It is hard to believe that even in the most cursory entry Bormann would not at least have recorded the precise time of the Führer's demise.
The last note on 1 May 1945 reads: "Escape attempt!"
Clearly, the diary does not provide a complete narrative of the death throes of the Third Reich. Although most historians [including David Irving, the self-described apostle of "Real History"] accept its authenticity without demur, it can only be a fake.
Soviet Lieutenant General Konstantin Telegin of the Soviet 5th Assault Army remembered his men bringing to him Bormann’s diary: "It was brought in immediately after the fighting had ended. As far as I can remember, it was found on the road when they were cleaning up the battle area".
Inspired by the diary and reports from prisoners, General Telegin said: 'Naturally, we sent a recon group to the bridge, who searched the site of the breakthrough attempt. All they found were a few civilians. Bormann was not found".
There the story would have ended, had the controversy about Bormann not continued.
One reason why doubt remains is the amount of conflicting stories about Bormann's "alleged" escape on the night of 1/2 May 1945.
In the early morning hours of 1 May 1945 Heinz Linge left the Führerbunker. Linge later recalled: "I teamed up with SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Kempka. In full uniform we climbed through a window of the New Reich Chancellery cellar. Under a hail of shell and mortar fire we crossed Friedrich-Strasse to the railway station where a couple of our Panzers were standing and still offering the Russians battle. Towards midnight on the Weidendamm bridge we came upon Stumpfegger, Baur and Bormann who had lost their bearings, arrived by a roundabout route and were now separated from the Russians by an anti-tank barrier. As three of our Panzers and three armoured vehicles rolled up, Bormann decided to break through the Russian lines using a Panzer. Kempka jumped up, stopped the vehicles and told the leading Panzer commander what was required. Under the protection of this Panzer heading for the tank barrier, Bormann, Naumann and Stumpfegger doubled forward while I watched. The Panzer was hit by a projectile from a Panzerfaust. The people alongside it were tossed into the air like dolls by the explosion. I could no longer see Stumpfegger nor Bormann. I presumed they were dead".
Hitler's chuaffeur Kempka said they went through the underground railway tunnel beneath the river Spree to the Friedrichstrasse station where they emerged and met up with a tank unit and near Zieigelstrasse and the armoured car which Martin Bormann was allegedly sheltering beside exploded. Kempka said he saw Bormann on fire and fall down dead.
The problem with this story which Axmann partly agreed with up to the exploding armoured car is that neither Axmann nor Kempka could have passed through the underground railway tunnel because the SS flooded it to stop the Soviets on 23 April 1945.
Artur Axmann said he found Bormann lying dead on his back several blocks away on a bridge near Lehrter S-Bahn [rail station] with no injuries and his face bathed in moonlight. Unfortunately there was almost no moon that night as it was 13 days past the full moon and the highest the moon reached before dawn was 18 degrees above the horizon. It was a very thin crescent and unable to bathe anybody's face in moonlight.
For Berlin [52°31'N 13°24'E, GMT+1] on 2 May 1945, the Moon was: "waning gibbous with 78% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.", certainly not a thin crescent. [Borman allegedly died on 2 May 1945 between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM].
Thus it seems that the Moon was more illuminated, but, on the other hand, less high on the horizon than stated.
Axmann also said he was captured by Russian soldiers between Ziegelstrasse and Lehrter S-Bahn. Axmann said that although he was in a senior SS Hitlerjugend uniform they just let him walk away, whilst Hans Baur who followed the same route complained Soviet snipers shot at anything that moved. Hitler's pilot Hans Baur was shot quite badly in fact, losing his leg.
Both accounts also conflict with the account of the tank commander George Diers Pz Abt 503 who says his Panzer carried Bormann on its tail and did not explode at all, but rather his passengers were shot off the rear by small arms fire.
Diers said his King Tiger in company with other Panzers and fleeing VIPs was shot up by small arms fire near Ziegel Strasse. Diers related that someone jumped up to his turret and advised him to change direction westward.
When Diers asked what happened to three passengers aboard his tank previously which included Bormann, the individual giving instructions said they were "ripped apart" and shot to pieces by shooting from Ziegel Strasse. Unfortunately the skeleton later proved by DNA testing to be Bormann's had no bones fractured by bullets..
Another problem with Diers' account is that he says the party including Bormann, Kempka, and Axmann travelled with his tanks from the Führer Bunker and not underground.
Paul Manning cited two of Hitler's dental assistants to Dr Blaschke who said that two Bormann look alikes were removed from concentration camps and given identical dentistry to Bormann's and accompanied the break out party. Thus the confusion was planned in advance by Bormann.
Also a Ju-52 left Berlin's Brandenburg gates on 29 April 1945 from the same runway used by Hanna Reitsch and Ritter von Greim earlier. Col Niklaus von Below is known to have flown out on 29 April 1945 and Hitler is known to have ordered Bormann to escape as executor of his last will.
During the Cold War the CIA needed Stalin to believe Bormann had died in Berlin. The Soviets were looking for an excuse to accuse the west of aiding Bormann's flight.
For many years mystery surrounded Bormann's whereabouts. My good friend the late Ladislas "Laci" Farago ["General Patton," "The Game of the Foxes", etc], proclaimed that he had located Bormann in South America.
After supervising the corpse-disposal arrangements following on the suicide of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun on the afternoon 30 April 1945, and waiting in vain for a further twenty-four hours for a favourable reply from the Soviet commanders to the overtures made to them by Dr Josef Göbbels, Bormann and a group of Hitler's senior colleagues made a final breakout attempt from the Berlin Bunker late on 1 May.
At the Weidendamm Bridge near Lehrter Station the group were cut off by enemy troops. Bormann and Stumpfegger made a run for it. A Soviet tank shell exploded only feet away from them -- Axmann testified that he saw it happen. Both survived the blast, but they were badly shaken and decided to swallow their cyanide capsules there and then, rather than surrender.
"Stern" journalist Jochen von Lang, born Joachim Piechocki, -- another friend of mine in those years, had been an SS liaison officer in Göbbels's Propaganda ministry at the end of the war; to him in fact had fallen the duty of making the famous 1 May 1945 broadcast on Berlin Radio announcing that the Führer had "fallen in battle".
Nonetheless, he was a fine researcher, and in 1972 von Lang and "Stern" magazine persuaded the Berlin police authorities to dig up the street at the spot where the bodies of Bormann and the doctor had last been seen. It was a macabre exercise, but it came off brilliantly, when two bodies were brought to light.
Forensic experts used dental pathology to identify the bodies -- hampered in Bormann's case initially by getting his jaw upside down, so I am told. In 1976, the leading Scandinavian dental pathologist Reidar F Sognnaes published a lengthy disquisition in a scientific journal, "Legal Medicine Annual", titled, "Dental Evidence in the Postmortem Identification of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun and Martin Bormann." This established beyond doubt that Bormann's corpse was indeed his (his dental chart was on file).
As for the doctor, Stumpfegger, I located and visited his brother in the 1970s, living in Ingolstadt. A gold ring had been found on the corpse, with a date engaged inside. The brother confirmed to me that it was the date of Ludwig's wedding in 1938.
In 1998 DNA analysis confirmed that the other body was Martin Bormann's.
Two decades of unconfirmed sightings
During the chaotic closing days of the war, there were contradictory reports as to Bormann's whereabouts. For example, Jakob Glas, Bormann's long-time chauffeur, insisted he saw Bormann in Munich weeks after 1 May 1945. One of Bormann’s relatives had no doubts. In 1947, Walter Buch, the father of Bormann’s wife, Gerda, declared on his deathbed: "That damn Martin made it safely out of Germany."
The bodies were not found, and a global search followed. Unconfirmed sightings of Bormann were reported globally for two decades, particularly in Europe, Paraguay and elsewhere in South America. Several would-be Bormanns were spotted and even arrested - a Guatemalan peasant in 1967, a 72-year-old German living in Colombia a few years later. Some rumours claimed Bormann had plastic surgery while on the run and that it had spoiled his face. At a 1967 press conference Simon Wiesenthal asserted there was strong evidence Bormann was alive and well in South America. In 1972, Munich Bishop Johannes Neuhausler made public a postwar church document stating that Bormann had escaped Berlin during the final days and gone to Spain by airplane.
It was apparent to anyone who desired to know that Martin Bormann had been operating in South America for some time.
After WWII Bormann remained a mysterious figure:
- Sentenced in absentia to 10 years imprisonment and forfeiture of all property by a Berchtesgaden denazification tribunal 18 July 1948 ["Encyclopedia of the Third Reich; NYT 19 July 1948]
- Trial in absentia by an Austrian people's court at Linz announced 9 August 1949 [LT 10 August 1949; disposition unknown]
- Declared legally dead 1954 [NYT 28 February 1965; NYT 12 May 1967]
- Declared dead 16 June 1960 by Berlin denazification court and property seized [NYT 16 June 1960]
- US Embassy to Argentina believed Bormann was living in Posadas, Misiones Province, Argentina in 1947-1948 [NYT 14 December 1993)]
= Walter Flegel arrested September 1960 in Argentina on suspicion of being Bormann [NYT 30 September 1960]
- Flegel freed 30 September 1960 by Argentine authorities after fingerprint test proves he is not Bormann [NYT 1 October 1960]
- German prosecutor believes Bormann still lives 14 April 1961 and prosecution re-opened [NYT 15 April 1961]
- Brazilian police investigating leads 19 March 1964 [NYT 20 Mar 1964] - Leads the result of an impostor but West German authorities investigating report Bormann died near Asuncion, Paraguay in 1959 [NYT 21 March 1964]
- $25,000 reward posted by West Germany for capture November 1964 [NYT 28 February 1965]
-Sons Adolf Martin Bormann Jr. and Gerhard Bormann interrogated by West German authorities at Frankfurt 28 May 1965 [NYT 29 May 1965]
- Arrest of Eduardo Garcia Gomez/Juan Calero or Falero Martinez at Mariscos, Guatemala May 1967 on suspicion of being Bormann [NYT 12 May 1967; NYT 13 May 1967; NYT 14 May 1967]
- Guatemalan freed after fingerprint test proves he is not Bormann 16 May 1967 [NYT 17 May 1967]
- Extradition request by West Germany to Brazil July 1967 [NYT 5 Jul 1967]
- Reportedly living in Brazil near the border with Paraguay 31 December 1967 (NYT 1 January 1968)
- Reportedly living in Latin America 25 November 1972 [NYT 26 November 1972; NYT 2 December 1972]; claims doubted [NYT 26 November 1972]
- West German authorities consider re-opening war crimes proceedings against Bormann December 1972 (NYT 5 December 1972)
- Bormann, Argentina, and 1945 U-Boat treasure detailed [NYT 13 November 1991; NYT 7 December 1991]
- Reportedly committed suicide at Berlin in May 1945 by biting a cyanide capsule, according to dental records examined by dental detective Dr. Reidar Sognnaes [NYT 10 September 1974]
- Paraguayan Interior Ministry report says Bormann entered Paraguay 1956 and died there in 1959 [NYT 1 June 1993].
Probably no other Nazi has more words written about him than Martin Bormann does. His fate has only recently been determined. However, the valuables that he shipped to Argentina in his project Action Feuerland are still clouded in a fog of mystery and intrigue.
There are several accounts about the fate of Bormann some plausible others bordering on the preposterous. The more common and believable account had Bormann reaching South America and living out his life there. An equally likely account has Bormann dying during the last days of the Third Reich while trying to escape from Berlin. In a third account Bormann escaped to the Soviet Union and lived out his life there. General Gehlen started this account. He claimed to have recognized Bormann in a crowd at a soccer game as the television camera panned the spectators.
Lately, two ridiculous accounts have emerged. One named Bormann as a Soviet mole inside Hitler’s inner circle. The other claimed that a British commando unit rescued Bormann from Berlin in order to recover the Nazi treasure. He then lived out his life in the English countryside.
Obviously, it would have been advantageous for Bormann to be declared killed in Berlin if he had survived. Nevertheless, recent DNA taken from one of the skulls found in Berlin matched closely to an uncle of Bormann. The skull still had glass shards between the teeth. If this evidence were indeed correct, it would suggest that Bormann being unable to escape from Berlin committed suicide.
Before DNA testing was available, considerable controversy over the identity of the skull existed. In fact, the skull was caked with red volcanic clay not found in the soil around Berlin but closely matching the soil of Paraguay. Nevertheless, the government turned the remains over to the family which had the remains cremated and the ashes scattered at sea hoping to settle the controversy for all-time.
Moreover, there were credible sightings of Bormann in South America until the 1960s. Considering the skull was caked with red clay; it appears that Bormann died in South America and later his body moved to Berlin. That view would be much more likely than believing he died in Berlin. There are hundreds of creditable reports since the end of the war until the 1960s of sightings of Bormann at various locations in Europe and later in South America. Believing Bormann died in Berlin requires discrediting all of these reports. Thus his ultimate fate is still unknown and clouded in a sea of controversy.
Ladislas Farago, an ethnic Hungarian who worked for the U.S. Naval Intelligence during World War II, cleverly utilized his unique knowledge and experience after it and caused a minor sensation in that year with his articles published in England’s "Daily Express", detailing Bormann’s activities.
By professionally arranging the materials at his disposal, in his widely known book "Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich", the author attempted to prove that Adolf Hitler's personal secretary, chief of the Parteikanzlei, and "gray cardinal" Bormann escaped from the intelligence services of the anti-fascist coalition countries and made it to Latin America, where he lived without serious problems and died at a senior age.
Farago presented in a lively fashion the history of searches for Bormann, cited a whole bulk of documents, and supplied details of conversations with eyewitnesses of Bormann's secret life and even with Bormann himself. The books left many readers convinced that the Third Reich's number two official had miraculously survived and discredited the report that Bormann's skeleton had been found at a construction site in Berlin a few years after the end of the war and identified.
In Farago's interpretation, Bormann created in Latin America a secret network of his aides and native sympathizers which replicated the "authority vertical", the administrative system, and the security machine of the Third Reich. Bormann's empire allegedly spread over Argentine, Paraguay, Chile, and Bolivia, and also had bases in other Latin American countries.
Farago's evidence, which drew heavily on official governmental documents, was compelling enough to persuade Dr. Robert M.W. Kempner [a lawyer at the Nuremberg Trials] to briefly reopen an active investigation in 1972; and his investigative work led to a "New York Times" story published on 27 November, 1972, and datelined "Buenos Aires." It stated: "Argentine secret service sources said today that Martin Bormann was sheltered in the country after World War II, but could not confirm reports that he still lived there. Sources in Salta confirmed that the ranch where Bormann was said to have lived was owned by German industrialists. The intelligence sources said other Nazis arrived in Argentina with Bormann and were sheltered there, particularly by Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator".
Farago's claims, however, were generally rejected by historians and critics.
In "Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich", Ladislas Farago lays out a story similar to Paul Manning’s but differing in a number of key areas. Just like Manning, Farago asserts that Bormann escaped with Müller’s assistance to South America and like-minded ruler Perón. The specifics differ in that Farago accuses the Catholic church of operating an “underground railroad” for ex-Nazis to escape to South America. Once in South America, Farago also says that Bormann ran his huge conglomerate of corporations and was protected by former Gestapo and SS. Farago backs up his claims with much more hard evidence than Manning; his book contains citations and images of various American, Chilean, Paraguayan, Bolivian, and Argentinian documents.
Problems with argument
Ignorance of scientific evidence. Bones recovered in Berlin were consistent with photographs and dental records of Bormann. Recently those bones were compared with DNA from a relative of Bormann and they were found to be indeed Borman’s.
Vastness of conspiracy. The scope of the conspiracy required to allow Bormann to live for decades in South America while simultaneously running a huge network of corporations simply fails any rational scrutiny. So many people would have to be involved that at least one would leak the story to the mainstream press.
Lack of international action. Farago’s books actually resulted in the brief reopening of the Bormann case in 1972 but there was found to be insufficient evidence to prove that Bormann was still alive. If the evidence truly was credible the international community surely would have acted to bring the convicted war criminal Bormann to justice. Farago argues that the size and power of the conglomerate that Bormann headed would dissuade nations from coming after him [for fear of economic repercussions], but certainly the tenacious Israeli Nazi hunters would have tracked him down [as they did Eichmann].
Allegations that Bormann and his organization survived the war also figure prominently in the work of David Emory.
The next year, after journalist Paul Manning published an article in the "New York Times" detailing Bormann’s escape from justice, West German officials held a news conference proclaiming that Berlin workmen had unearthed two skeletons near the ruins of the Lehrter railroad station and that one of the skeletons had been identified as Bormann. He died in 1945 trying to escape Berlin, they stated.
This statement was condemned by Britain's "Daily Express" as a whitewash perpetrated by the Brandt government. West German diplomatic officials were given official instruction, "...if anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man."
Some controversy continued, however. For example, Hugh Thomas' 1995 book "Doppelgängers" claimed there were forensic inconsistencies suggesting Bormann died later than 1945. When exhumed, Bormann’s skeleton was covered in flecks of red clay, whereas Berlin is a city based on yellow sand. This indicated to some that the body had been re-interred from somewhere with a clay-based soil, such as Paraguay, the Andes Mountains or even Russia.
Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal refused to accept the government’s declaration of Bormann‘s death, persisting in the belief that Bormann escaped Berlin with Axmann and headed south to the safety of the Alps. There he was rumoured to have been seen in both Bavaria and Austria. In fact, Bormann’s aide, Wilhelm Zander was captured in Passau, along the Austrian frontier in December 1945. From the Alps, Wiesenthal believed, Bormann and others escaped to South America.
Others, like English scholar and intelligence officer, Hugh Trevor-Roper, decried the evidence upon which the German government based its searches for Bormann: the testimony of one man. He and others argued that the testimony of Artur Axmann, the only man who said he saw Bormann dead was falsified to protect Bormann who was then on the run. Both men were unrepentant Nazis and shared the motivation to keep their cause alive. Axmann, they argued, probably escaped Berlin with Bormann. Russian investigator Lev Bezymenski wrote that Axmann’s statements had, "the apparent aim of convincing the world that the Reichsleiter had been killed." Bezymenski also wrote that Axmann’s statements, "give rise to a lot of doubt, especially when one considers that he changed his explanations at least three times in the postwar years". Some also believed it implausible that the Soviets would identify the body of Stumpfegger and ignore Bormann’s body, supposedly at Stumpfegger’s side. Further, that Bormann was reinterred only to later be "discovered" by the German government.
However, the entire case for the Berlin death of Bormann rested on dental records prepared from memory by a dentist who had been a loyal Nazi for many years, and the sole statement of a dental technician who had been imprisoned in Russia due to his proclaimed knowledge of Bormann’s dental work. Adding to suspicions that Bormann’s death announcement was most convenient for anyone wishing to cover Bormann’s tracks was the fact that Willy Brandt’s government canceled all rewards and warrants for Bormann and instructed West German embassies and consulates to ignore any future sightings of the Reichsleiter.
These suspicions were compounded by statements from several persons who told Paul Manning that the body found near the railroad station was placed there in 1945 by SS troops commanded by "Gestapo" Müller, who was known to have used decoy bodies on other occasions.
Bormann’s death notice did not convince the late Simon Wiesenthal of the Documentation Center in Vienna, who said: "Some doubts must remain whether the bones found in Berlin are really those of Bormann".
Another source is the 1981 book, "Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile" by Paul Manning and a number of books published in the years following the war corroborate details of Manning's description of German flight capital, and the postwar Nazi underground.
According to Manning, Bormann was escorted from dying Berlin by selected SS men who passed him along a series of "safe houses" to Munich, where he hid out with his brother, Albert. In early 1946, Bormann was escorted on foot over the Alps to the northern Italian seaport of Genoa. There Bormann was housed in a Franciscan monastery. All this was arranged by "Gestapo" Müller.
In mid-1946, a steamer ship carried Bormann, provided with false identification papers, to Spain, where he entered the Dominican monastery of San Domingo in the province of Galicia, once the home of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, a supposed neutral who covertly supported Hitler. Manning noted that in 1969, when Bormann became aware that Israeli agents were sniffing along his escape route, there was a fire in San Domingo. Curiously, the fire started on the very shelves where the monastery kept its book of visitors, which contained Bormann’s name. This incriminating record suspiciously was destroyed.
In the winter of 1947, Martin Bormann and several SS officers arrived in Argentina, on the steamer Giovani, anchoring in the harbor of Buenos Aires, carrying a Vatican passport in the name of Reverend Juan Gomez. He was apparently welcomed at the pier by by Ludwig Freude and General Juan Batista Sosa Molina, the Minister of War, representing President Peron.
While on the run at the end of the war, Bormann controlled his vast commercial empire through an elaborate but well-planned communications system.
"Wherever positioned, he turned his hiding place into a party headquarters, and was in command of everything save security," explained Manning.
"Telephones were too dangerous, but he had couriers to bear documents to Sweden, where a Bormann commercial headquarters was maintained in Malmö [Sweden] to handle the affairs of a complex and growing postwar business empire. From Malmö, high-frequency radio could transmit coded information to listening posts in Switzerland, Spain, or Argentina to form a continuous line of instructions."
The Deputy Führer’s escape had not gone unnoticed. It was substantiated by a file on Bormann sent to the FBI and obtained by Paul Manning.
"When the file... was received at FBI headquarters it revealed that the Reichsleiter had indeed been tracked for years," he wrote.
"One report covered [Bormann’s] whereabouts from 1948 to 1961, in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Chile. The file revealed that he had been banking under his own name from his office in Germany in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argentinean dictator Juan Peron, and on 4, 5, and 14 August 1967, had written checks on demand accounts in First National City Bank [now Citibank] (Overseas Division) of New York, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires".
Then there was a police report from Cordoba Province dated 22 April 1955 in which a police agent with special knowledge of Bormann spotted the Nazi in the company of two other men in a hotel and trailed them. He overheard one of the men acknowledge the short, balding man who obviously was the superior of the three by saying, "Jawohl, Herr Bormann".
Although many Nazis found safe havens in Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, and Uruguay, no South American nation was more accommodating than the Argentina of Dictator Juan Domingo Peron and his lovely second wife, Eva Maria Duarte de Peron, popularly known as Evita.
The Argentine dictator was greatly honored to shelter Deputy Führer Bormann.
After several low-key meetings with Bormann, Peron saw Bormann’s flight capital program as a means of boosting the Argentine economy.
"Both realized that the capture of Bormann was a clear and ever-present danger," noted Paul Manning, "and so Peron instructed the chief of his secret police to give all possible cooperation to Heinrich Müller in his task of protecting the party minister, a collaboration that continued for years."
In 1955, Peron was ousted in a military coup and forced to flee to neighbouring Paraguay and later to exile in Madrid, Spain. He left without the body of Eva, who had died from cancer in 1952, at age thirty-three.
According to Manning, the relationship between Bormann and Peron, "became somewhat frayed around the edges after Peron left for Panama and then exile in Spain in 1955, but [Gestapo] Müller today  still wields power with the Argentinean secret police in all matters concerning Germans and the [Nazis] in South America."
ODESSA turned to gun-running as a means of financing its operations. In fact, it was never intended only as an escape route for Nazis, but, at Bormann’s instructions, it was set up as a profitable business enterprise as well. The plentiful supply of surplus arms in Europe turned out to be an immediately profitable commodity.
By 1980, Martin Bormann, then in his eighties, had traveled extensively in South America, often just ahead of Nazi hunters. He lived in a luxurious estate near Buenos Aires, writing his memoirs while still under the protection of "Gestapo" Müller.
Paul Manning said this aging recluse remained the guardian and silent manipulator of a gigantic industrial pyramid centered in Germany.
Bormann also had become mentor to a new generation of lawyers, bankers, and industrialists. In an undated interview following the 1981 publication of his book "Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile", Manning stated: "The Bormann organization is not merely a group of ex-Nazis. It is a great economic power whose interests today supersede their ideology..."
Paul Manning's book, "Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile" was completed in 1980 and published in 1981 by Lyle Stuart. Before the publication of a follow-up work, "In Search of Martin Bormann", one of Manning's four sons was murdered, convincing Manning that the murder of his son, Gerry, was a direct consequence of his continuing investigations into the Bormann Organization and its international financial dealings. He never published a follow-up work. Paul Manning traveled extensively and interviewed dozens of persons in the course of his research. Martin Bormann, born in 1900, was very much alive in 1980, according to Manning, who died in 1995.
Manning was fully aware of the reported 1972 discovery of two bodies in the ruins of Berlin's old Lehrter railway station. Following their discovery, both bodies were identified through craniofacial and dental records as those of Martin Bormann and Dr.Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler's physician. Sworn testimony from survivors of Hitler's Berlin Bunker stated that these two were last seen fleeing the Bunker area together.
Manning, in his book, claimed that an unfortunate labor camp inmate's dentition had been prepared as a duplicate of Bormann's to fool investigators regarding his survival at a future date. Manning attributed this elaborate hoax to the sly planning of Heinrich [Gestapo] Müller, who remained with Bormann throughout the rest of their lives, protecting Bormann from discovery. It would be nice to see original notes of Manning's interviews with primary sources of the enlightening information pertaining to Martin Bormann's life after 1945.
Even in the absence such transcripts, Manning's well-written discoveries may have remained plausible were it not for advances in forensics. In 1998, three years after Manning's death, Bormann's purported remains, which had been safeguarded for twenty-six years, were subjected to DNA tests in Germany. The scientific results confirmed that Martin Bormann had, in fact, perished in Berlin in 1945. Die-hard conspiracy buffs will simply claim that these tests were either performed on remains of the "real" Bormann [born in 1900], or that the results were faked in collusion with the German government to perpetuate a Bormann death myth.
Two years later, in further research, the Bormann remains underwent a mitochondrial DNA comparison, the results of which were published in the 14 February 2001 issue of "International Journal of Legal Medicine". The results support overwhelmingly the hypothesis that the remains were, in fact, those of Martin Bormann.
Paul Manning's book, a result of two decades work by a highly skilled professional journalist, is very persuasive and used as a reference throughout the Internet. If Bormann died in 1945 how are we to view Paul Manning? Is it possible that a mountain of data and innumerable cited interviews came from unreliable and tainted sources? Could Manning have been completely fooled, or was "Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile", like "The Hitler Diaries", an elaborate literary hoax? What about the voluminous investigative work on the interlocking industrial corporate and banking entities that were, Manning claims, involved in the transfer of assets from Nazi Germany before its collapse? Was this data exaggerated, invented, or the result of solid and reliable investigative journalism?
In his book "Bormann: Nazi in Exile", Paul Manning asserts that Bormann did not die in Berlin but rather he eluded the Soviets patrolling Berlin with the help of Gestapo leader Heinrich Muller (whose details of death are also not known) and escaped to South America after a trek across Europe to Spain. Allegedly facilitating this escape was ODESSA, a group set up by Bormann prior to the war’s end to help Nazis escape to South America. Once in South America, Manning says that Bormann lived off Nazi money he put away during the war and did his best to spread Nazi ideology. He cites numerous unnamed sources and several documents as proof of Bormann’s survival and successful escape. Manning further states that Bormann’s shrewd bureaucratic skills and the Nazi money he laundered were responsible for West Germany’s postwar economic boom. Manning saw Bormann as the incredibly powerful leader of an international empire of large [and profitable] corporations. Even more extraordinary, Manning claims to have had numerous exchanges with Bormann through intermediaries saying that Bormann agreed to an interview but his Nazi cronies blocked him from carrying any interview out.
Problems with argument
Selective trust in anecdotal evidence. Manning takes as truth the stories of local South American leaders who claim to have met/spoken to/seen Bormann but he flatly rejects the testimony of some of Bormann’s closest comrades who state unequivocally that they saw him dead in Berlin. Of course one could argue that they lied to help their former boss escape trial [and certain death] at Nuremburg, but clearly many of these ex-Nazis could have escaped some of their punishment through bargaining if they had supplied information about the whereabouts or even continued survival of Bormann.
Lack of cited sources. Manning tells of many details of Bormann’s life in South American [his specific location, his mindset, his health, etc.] but entirely fails to document credibly where he acquired this information.
Contradictory actions of foreign governments. Manning argues that after the War Bomann became “the object of history’s greatest manhunt” by American, British, and Israeli and countless other nations’ intelligence agencies. However Manning also states that the CIA was complicit in the escape and continued protection of Bormann from Nazi hunters. Why would the US government attempt to capture Bormann while at the same time trying to conceal his location?
Vastness of conspiracy. The scope of the conspiracy required to allow Bormann to live for decades in South America while simultaneously running a huge network of corporations simply fails any rational scrutiny. So many people would have to be involved that at least one would leak the story to the mainstream press.
Ignorance of scientific evidence. Bones recovered in Berlin were consistent with photographs and dental records of Bormann. Recently those bones were compared with DNA from a relative of Bormann and they were found to be indeed Borman’s.
Reinhard Gehlen states in his memoirs his conviction that Bormann was in fact a Russian agent and that at the time of his 'disappearance' in Berlin he in reality went over to his Russian masters and was spirited away by them to Moscow. He bases this startling conclusion on a conversation he had with Admiral Canaris and on his conviction that there was an enemy agent at work inside the German supreme command. He deduced the latter from the fact that the Russians appeared to be able to obtain "rapid and detailed information on incidents and top-level decision-making on the German side". Of course, at the time he was writing up his memoirs (late 1960s to early 1970s), Gehlen was not aware of the British breaking of the Enigma codes. Gehlen goes on to say that he discovered that Bormann was engaged in a Funkspiel with Moscow with Hitler's express approval. He claims that in the 1950s, when he headed first the 'Gehlen Organisation' and later the Bundesnachrichtendienst [BND], the West-German Intelligence Service, he "was passed two separate reports from behind the Iron Curtain to the effect that Bormann had been a Soviet agent and had lived after the war in the Soviet Union under perfect cover as an adviser to the Moscow government. He has died in the meantime."
Discovery of remains
The hunt for Bormann lasted 26 years without success. International investigators and journalists searched for Bormann from Paraguay to Moscow and from Norway to Egypt. Digs for his body in Paraguay in March 1964 and Berlin in July 1964 met with no success. The German government offered a 100,000 mark reward in November 1964, but no one claimed it.
As Martin Bormann was missing, it was decided that he would be tried in absentia. Although the allies had testimony stating that Bormann was dead, they ignored it because if "Bormann at this point was to be declared dead by the court, and then to surface later on, die-hard Nazis would suspect that perhaps the Führer was alive too." In order for allied credibility to remain intact, Bormann was to be tried for Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.
Dr. Friedrich Bergold was appointed to this difficult task of defending a missing man. He considered it "a miscarriage of justice for the Tribunal to try his client in absentia," and used the unusual and unsuccessful defense that the court could not convict Bormann because he was already dead. The International Tribunal sentenced Reichsleiter Martin Bormann to death in October 1946 .
In 1965, a retired postal worker named Albert Krumnow stated that around 8 May 1945 the Soviets had ordered him and his colleagues to bury two bodies found near the railway bridge near Lehrter station. One was "a member of the Wehrmacht" and the other was "an SS doctor".
Krumnow’s colleague, Wagenpfohl is said to have found a paybook on the SS doctor’s body identifying him as Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger. He gave the paybook to his boss, postal chief Berndt, who turned it over to the Soviets. They in turn destroyed it. The Soviets allowed Berndt to notify Stumpfegger’s wife. He wrote and told her that her husband’s body was "…interred with the bodies of several other dead soldiers in the grounds of the Alpendorf in Berlin NW 40, Invalidenstrasse 63."
In summer 1965, Berlin police excavated the alleged burial site looking for Bormann's remains, but found nothing. Krumnow stated he could no longer remember exactly where he buried the bodies. The German government determined that Berlin was simply "too full of cemeteries and mass graves dating from the last days of the war."
On the political end, the hunt for Bormann became a recurring memory of the Nazi regime and also an embarrassment that would not go away. On 13 December 13 1971, the West German government officially called an end to the search for Bormann. This pronouncement was met with protest from Jewish human rights groups and Nazi hunters like Simon Wiesenthal who insisted the search must continue until Bormann was found, alive or dead.
Late in 1945, British Intelligence appointed Hugh Trevor-Roper to investigate the evidence surrounding the death of Hitler. His book, "The Last Days of Hitler", followed in 1946 as a result of this investigation, and was updated by him over the years as new evidence emerged.
Roper left the issue of Bormann's death open in early editions of the work, because evidence of Bormann's death rested solely on the testimony of Artur Axmann. Although Axmann's testimony regarding other events was truthful so far as it could be independently verified, Roper realized that Axmann might be giving false evidence to protect Bormann from further search.
Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal refused to accept the government’s declaration of Bormann‘s death, persisting in the belief that Bormann escaped Berlin with Axmann and headed south to the safety of the Alps. There he was rumored to have been seen in both Bavaria and Austria. In fact, Bormann’s aide, Wilhelm Zander was captured in Passau, along the Austrian frontier in December 1945. From the Alps, Wiesenthal believed, Bormann and others escaped to South America.
Others, like English scholar and intelligence officer, Hugh Trevor-Roper, decried the evidence upon which the German government based its searches for Bormann: the testimony of one man. He and others argued that the testimony of Artur Axmann, the only man who said he saw Bormann dead was falsified to protect Bormann who was then on the run. Both men were unrepentant Nazis and shared the motivation to keep their cause alive. Axmann, they argued, probably escaped Berlin with Bormann. Russian investigator Lev Bezymenski wrote that Axmann’s statements had, "the apparent aim of convincing the world that the Reichsleiter had been killed." Bezymenski also wrote that Axmann’s statements, "give rise to a lot of doubt, especially when one considers that he changed his explanations at least three times in the postwar years." Some also believed it implausible that the Soviets would identify the body of Stumpfegger and ignore Bormann’s body, supposedly at Stumpfegger’s side. Further, that Bormann was re-interred only to later be "discovered" by the German government.
Almost a year later, on 7 December 1972, Axmann and Krumnow's accounts were bolstered when construction workers uncovered human remains near the Lehrter Bahnhof in West Berlin just 12 meters from the spot where Krumnow claimed he had buried them. Dental records — reconstructed from memory in 1945 by Dr. Hugo Blaschke — identified the skeleton as Bormann's, and damage to the collarbone was consistent with injuries Bormann's sons reported he had sustained in a riding accident in 1939. The forensic identification was validated by Dr. Reidar F. Sognnaes, a leading Scandinavian dental pathologist and celebrated U.S. expert in such matters. [Reidar F. Sognnaes, 'Dental Evidence in the Postmortem Identification of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun and Martin Bormann', in "Legal Medicine Annual", 1976]
The second skeleton was deemed to be Stumpfegger‘s, since it was of similar height to his last known proportions. Fragments of glass in the jawbones of both skeletons suggested that Bormann and Stumpfegger committed suicide by biting cyanide capsules in order to avoid capture. Soon after, in a press conference held by the West German government, Bormann was declared dead, a statement condemned by "London's Daily Express" as a whitewash perpetrated by the Brandt government. West German diplomatic officials were given official instruction, "...if anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man.
Some controversy continued, however. For example, Hugh Thomas' 1995 book "Doppelgängers" claimed there were forensic inconsistencies suggesting Bormann died later than 1945. When exhumed, Bormann’s skeleton was covered in flecks of red clay, whereas Berlin is a city based on yellow sand. This indicated to some that the body had been re-interred from somewhere with a clay-based soil, such as Paraguay, the Andes mountains or even Russia [as the Gehlen theory surmised].
Bormann was the adminstrator of Operation Regentröpfchen, the evacuation of Reich gold, money and treasure to Argentina, and the size of this fortune evidenced by the few documents released from Argentine official archives is mind boggling. If Bormann survived and escaped, it was to Argentina that he came.
Postwar Nazi money laundering through bogus land deals was administered from San Carlos de Bariloche in Neuquen province. In the early 1960s there were reports in the local and foreign Press of a grave in the cemetery at Bariloche, allegedly that of Martin Bormann, having been visited by officials of the German Embassy, after which it vanished.
But the new evidence caused Roper to write in the 1978 edition of "The Last Days of Hitler that": "...in view of new evidence which has recently been found, I believe that it [the question of Bormann's death] can now be closed".
As stated in the Final Report of the Frankfurt State Prosecution office under File Index No. Js 11/61 [GStA Ffm.] in "Criminal Action against Martin Bormann on Charge of Murder", dated 4 April 1973:
Although nature has placed limits on human powers of recognition [BGHZ Vol. 36, pp. 379-393-NJW 1962, 1505], it is proved with certainty that the two skeletons found on the Ulap fairgrounds in Berlin on December 7 and 8, 1972, are identical with the accused Martin Bormann and Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger.
The accused and Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger died in Berlin in the early hours of the morning of 2 May 1945 -- sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 A.M.
XII. Further Measures
1. The search for Martin Bormann is officially terminated.
Martin Bormann Has Left the Building26 May 1995 -- One of the enduring mysteries of World War II is the fate of Deputy Führer Martin Bormann, the only top Nazi left unaccounted for (unless you go for those "They Saved Hitler's' Brain" stories). Since 1945, Bormann has been kind of the Nazi Elvis. He's supposed to be dead, but he's been spotted everywhere from Denmark to Paraguay. No one ever found his body, after all. In 1972 a German court decide that an old skull found in Berlin belonged to Bormann, but even though the Nazi-trackers at the Simon Wiesenthal center bought the finding, other researchers say the skull was a plant to throw off those very same Nazi hunters.
Last week, according to London's "Independent" newspaper, a well known British journalist and former intelligence officer, 80-year-old Milton Shulman, announced during a radio interview that he knows exactly what happened to Bormann after the war. He was kicking back in a small British village, the guest of that nation's intelligence service who "rescued" the top Nazi near the end of the war.
Why? Because, according to Shulman, "Bormann had the authority to release all German funds in Swiss banks".
Well, the motivation's solid enough. But is the story that Shulman tells plausible? Four hundred commandos stage a daring raid into Deutschland, nabbing Bormann and kayak him to safety down the Rhine and over to Merry Ol' England, favorite target of the V2 rocket. Large numbers of the commando force were knocked off along the way, either by the Gestapo or by Russian troops then overwhelming the not-quite-1,000-year Reich.
Ready for the punch line? If the tale sounds like something out of James Bond that's because the raid was led by Ian Fleming, who upon retirement from Her Majesty's Secret service became the literary light who birthed the world's most famous secret agent.
Shulman took the tale from an anonymously penned book to which he wrote the preface and assumed, unsuccessfully, the responsibility of peddling to publishers. The author of the book is, Shulman says, an old intelligence man in a position to know these things. And Shulman claims to have letters signed by none other than Winston Churchill himself, as well as Lord Mountbatten, that support the book's assertions. Nonetheless, two major publishers considered the manuscript carefully then, Shulman says, "for reasons on which I can only speculate, suddenly dropped it."
Shulman also says that he has witness who remembers Bormann in the British village, which Shulman so far refuses to name, and that the manuscript's anonymous author tried to sell his story to a tabloid, "News of theWorld" in 1966 but got the kibosh courtesy Britain's Ministry of Defence.
There are big problems checking the facts of Shulman's story. The biggest, perhaps, is that more or less everyone involved is long dead. Including Bormann who Shulman says shuffled off this Nazi coil in the early 1950s. Fleming died in 1964, having barely survived to see the movie of "Dr. No" and without breathing a word of the Bormann affair to even his closest friends. But then, as the widow of one Fleming Confidant pointed out, the real-life superspy was a spook to the end.
"He maintained that you must never say anything more than you are morally bound to say."
Update: The wild and imaginative stories about Bormann continued even after the discovery in 1972 of two skeletons near the Lehrter railway station in Berlin. The authorities said the men were probably Bormann and Ludwig Stumpfegger, one of Hitler's doctors. Splinters of glass cyanide capsules were found in the jawbones.
Although the German Government was satisfied with this theory, they locked up the remains in a cupboard at the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office. Family members were prevented from taking them away until there was final identification.
Three years ago, "The News of the World" told the story of a certain Peter Broderick-Hartley who had lived and died in Reigate, Surrey. The paper claimed he was, in fact, Martin Bormann, who had had plastic surgery.
In 1996, a British publisher paid £500,000 for rights to a book claiming that Winston Churchill smuggled Hitler's lieutenant to England in 1945 to get access to Nazi gold held in Swiss bank accounts. The author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming, was also said to be involved.
James Bond Nabs Martin Bormann
1 September 1998
In an article published last year in "The New York Times" Argentine Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella responded to an earlier op-ed article written by Ann Louise Bardach [NYT, 22 March 1997)]pointing out a number of ‘imprecisions, distortions and innuendos’ about Argentina’s pro-Nazi record as a neutral during most of World War II’ that -in Di Tella’s view- "left unattended can only mislead the less well informed among NYT’s readership".
Among other clarifications Di Tella points out that "there can be no doubt that until 1949, when restrictions on the emigration of former Third Reich based Nazis were removed, Argentina competed with others interested in Germany’s brainpower, as part of a process which also turned Argentina into a safe haven for some Nazi war criminals. Worthy of note though, is the fact that if Simon Wiesenthal was right when he wrote that Martin Bormann died in Berlin in 1945, an assesment shared by the relevant German and Israeli authorities, he could have never set foot in Argentina after the war, as implied by Bardach".
Be that as it may, if a book recently published in London is ever proven to be accurate Di Tella, Wiesenthal, as well as relevant German and Israeli authorities, could all be proved wrong. This new book claims that Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor, not only survived the final collapse of the Nazi era at the Führerbunker in Berlin in May 1945, but in fact went on to live with a new identity -until as late as 1989- not in Buenos Aires as the 1960′s quip assured ["Martin Bormann is alive and well and living in Argentina"], but as a respectable gentleman living in England after being smuggled out of Berlin by a British commando team specially picked to do the job by Winston Churchill in person.
Incredible as it may sound such is the gist of the non-fiction book "OpJB. The Last great secret of the Second World War" by Christopher Creighton, [Pocket Books, London, 1997], a fascinating tale which the publishers preface by saying that "the following account is one of the most extraordinary stories to emerge from the Second World War" and is issued "under assurances by the author that the story is true" adding that they have not been able to ‘verify his acount by independent research’. ‘Indeed the documentary trial is often at odds with the author’s narrative. In secret intelligence work it is very difficult to come up with absolute proof and in May 1945 Berlin was the end of the world. According to Creighton, evidence went missing and in the fog of war files were adjusted by those with a hidden motive. Creighton further describes how records were compromised in order to create a legend that served a darker purpose. In the end, readers will have to make their own judgements about what they believe. What is not in doubt is that this book is a thrilling story from a remarkable man’, as the publishers admit quite candidly.
What makes "OpJB" such a unique book to read is the magnitude of the new gist it casts on events which have been extensively scrutinized by others authors. Starting from the name ‘OpJB’ which stands for Operation James Bond, a name which today is inextricable linked to a certain fictional British secret agent known as 007. Such a coincidence of names is by no means accidental and stems from the fact that the man who went on to become the author of the highly succesful 007 series, Ian Fleming, was in real life a Royal Navy intelligence officer during World War II, and is also a leading figure in this extraordinary non-fictional tale.
At a first glance prospective readers could feel inclined to discard this book as an elaborate hoax, but would be well recommended to resist such a temptation and read on as Creighton may be a weird fish, but he is nonetheless also a number of things which cannot be disputed, namely a former Royal Navy special operations officer who is known to have been a personal friend of such people as Fleming, Churchill and the likes of Lord Mountbatten, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and King George VI among others.
The second fact worth bearing in mind is the author’s first hand knowledge of precise "inside" details of not only "OpJB", but of other well documented events taking place at the time, many of which are supported by evidence in the form of letters from such heavyweight names as Churchill, Mountbatten and Fleming.
Despite the often impressive supporting evidence the story Creighton -whose real name is John Ainsworth Davis- has to tell is mind-boggling: In a nutshell, that Churchill ordered an ultrasecret operation to snatch Bormann from the ruins of Berlin as a way of getting his hands on much of the Nazi booty to which he had access. To do so a special commando team supported by men and women of the German resistance [the German Freedom Fighters, GFF] and an assorted number of both male and female members of the British and US armed forces were assembled with the specific mission of snatching the Nazi bigwig from the ruins of the collapsing Third Reich. This highly trained commando group ventured into the heart of Nazi Berlin and, in what can only be rated as an extraordinary operation, spirited Bormann through both German and Russian lines back to safety into the British controlled area of Germany and from there to the UK where the Nazi chief was both interrogated and given a new identity. As part of a deception ploy a body of a Bormann look-alike and suitably doctored medical records were left in Berlin to cover up.
The books makes simple fascinating reading because it unveils to what extent secret intelligence work needs to be kept secret, even from people who readers would like to believe are in ‘a position to know’ including in this case such names as the top historians of this period of time, undisputed authorities such as Hugh Trevor-Roper [now Lord Dacre] or Hugh Thomas, both of whom have written extensively about the Nazi era and are -in Creighton’s view- both duped by the ruse.
In yet another twist of history Creighton claims that the then head of ultra-secret M section of Naval Intelligence, Major Desmond Morton, another key actor in this incredible story, takes Bormann back to Germany after the war were the former Nazi boss is able to sit in the visitor’s gallery at the Nuremberg trial at which he is sentenced in absentia.
Another stunning revelation would be the degree to which governments can manipulate information, doctoring all sorts of records so that the paperwork supports the facts which are being specifically being construed for reasons of state.
Finally, it is also particularly interesting to note that the battle for Nazi booty is not as new as the latest wave of probes for looted gold would suggest, but in fact were high on the Allies list of priorities even at the time of the war.
This book is a must for anyone who has ever pondered on what might have happened to Bormann, whose whereabouts have been the matter of speculation for over half a century.
It is to be hoped that "OpJB" triggers off some form of response from official circles in Britain, the US, Germany and Israel so we can finally get to know what happened as the Third Reich collapsed in 1945 and what came of Martin Bormann, who according to this book was ‘alive and well and living in the UK’ until his death many years after the closing battle of Berlin.
Now, DNA tests seem to prove the skeleton found in Berlin is indeed that of Hitler's Henchman
The skull when unearthed was caked in red volcanic soil which matched soil found in Paraguay suggesting Bormann had first been buried in Paraguay, unearthed and then reburied in Berlin.
Both the Bormann family and German government refused requests to have the soil tested and the skeleton was cremated in great secrecy.
At the time there were protests in many newspapers wanting to know more about the red soil. These included:
The News Letter [Belfast, Northern Ireland]; 5/5/1998
The Birmingham Post [England]; 5/11/1998
The Scotsman [Edinburgh, Scotland]; 8/30/1999
Hitler's dentist Dr Hugo Blaschke reconstructed both Bormann, Göbbels and Hitler's dental records for the Allies in 1945. Bormann's skull had about eight fillings not performed before May 1945. It had an upper right 3rd molar crown not present in 1945 and a lower window crown bridge from lower right to lower left lateral incisor inclusive.
During the war Blaschke had performed a crown on Bormann's U/left cent incisor which in the 1972 skeleton was replaced by a three element bridge. There were also at least three teeth L/L 1st molar U/L bicuspid and U/L 2nd Bicuspid missing with bone growth over their sockets which had been present before the breakout on 1 May 1945.
There were also four conflicting versions of Bormann's fate on 2 May 1945 from Kempka, Diers, Axmann and Tiburtius.
These are known facts which conflict with the accepted explanation that DNA testing has solved Bormann's fate.
The scientists compared the DNA obtained from a piece of the skull with a tissue sample donated by an 83-year-old relative of Bormann living near Frankfurt, NOT Martin, jr, and found matching sequences.
The family denied that any such relative existed.
New Genetic Tests Said to Confirm: It's Martin Bormann
The New York Times
4 May 1998
Frankfurt, Germany, May 3— Genetic tests confirm that remains found in Berlin in 1972 are of Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann, who helped organize the Holocaust and was rumored to have escaped Germany after World War II, according to news reports today.
The bones were found at a construction site and experts concluded at the time that they were of Bormann and that he died on 2 May 1945 -- possibly in a poison suicide -- as the Soviet army invaded.
But rumors persisted over the years that Bormann, the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, had escaped to South America or elsewhere.
Florian Besold, a lawyer for the Bormann family, said last month that they wanted the testing partly because of a 1996 book by a British author who said Bormann was smuggled out of Berlin to England in 1945. ''It has to do with finally ending these crazy international rumors,'' Mr. Besold said at the time.
A newspaper in Paraguay reported in 1993 that Bormann had lived in that country for three years, had died in Asuncion on 15 February 1959, and was buried in a nearby town.
In 1998, a DNA examination was conducted by Wolfgang Eisenmenger, Professor of Forensic Science at München University working on behalf of the Justice Ministry in Frankfurt am Main. Using Bormann’s dental, medical, and fingerprint records, as well as blood from Bormann’s children for the DNA match, Eisenmenger was able to conclude that the skeleton was in fact that of Martin Bormann. He further determined the cause of death to be self inflicted poisoning. The other skeleton found was determined to be that of Hitler’s doctor, SS-Obersturmbannführer Dr. med. Ludwig Stumpfegger. Bormann’s remains were cremated and scattered over the Baltic Sea on 16 August 1999 to prevent neo-Nazis from building a shrine in Germany.
All that the DNA testing proved was that the body was in fact that of Martin Bormann. It did not prove that it had been there since 1945.
Before DNA testing confirmed the skull was Bormann's a careful analysis of dental work revealed work done on his teeth with techniques which did not exist in wartime Germany. There were also teeth missing which were present in April 1945 according to his wartime dentist, but where the missing teeth left sockets, these had grown over with bone indication he must have lived at least six months after April 1945 for the bone growth to occur.
Also, the DNA test was compared with a very distant relative. Why did they not get DNA from his surviving children? Surely that would have proved it. Bormann's children were never asked to provide DNA for the test.
As one of the top Nazi suspects, Bormann had been charged with war crimes and found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia in 1946 by the international military tribunal in Nuremberg.
In 1955 an Spanish Volunteer named Juan Pinar came back to Spain from a Russian camp for POWs. He declared that he fought in Berlin's Battle, and that he personally took Bormann's corpse from a tank. He said that Bomann died because of the explosion of a grenade that hit the tank.
MI5's hunt for the "peripatetic" Nazi Martin Bormann
MI5’s exasperation over the fruitless hunt for the Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann has been revealed by new files released to the National Archives
By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
1 September 2009
Bormann, Germany’s deputy leader, escaped from Hitler’s Bunker in Berlin in 1945 and broke through the Soviet lines in a tank, only to be reported killed at a railway yard.
However his body was never identified and rumours persisted for years that he was still alive. He was convicted “in absentia” at the Nuremberg trials and sentenced to death.
Shortly afterwards in October 1946 a Brigadier Shoosmith of the British Army of the Rhine telephoned MI5 "n an extremely bad line indicating that a certain person who has recently been condemned to death in his absence may possibly be alive".
MI5 seemed to take that report seriously but a series of others followed: Oe said Bormann was in Lugano, Switzerland but MI5 said the informant appeared to be "mentally unbalanced"; another said Bormann had arrived in "the Argentine" by submarine, but the claims were dismissed.
Theories that Bormann was a Russian double agent look a little shaky in the face of the fact, noted in the file, that senior officer Kim Philby - later found to be a Soviet spy himself - requested information about reports that Bormann was living in the Middle East.
By May 1947, Bormann had been spotted in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, where a Mr Perera of the Ceylon police requested a description.
His inquiry led to the less-than-serious response from an MI5 officer: “I think Perera might be commended for his enthusiasm but it might also be broken to him gently that the late but peripatetic Herr Bormann is currently being seen in Switzerland [the most persistent locale], Bolivia, Italy, Norway and Brazil – in the last country, sitting in state on a high mountain beside his pallid Führer.
“The Egyptian story is not being pursued by the press which is doubtless waiting to break the silly season scoop that he has been seen riding the Loch Ness monster.”
Sir Percy Sillitoe, then head of MI5, was forced to write to the Ceylon police trying to dampen their enthusiasm in more measured tones, telling them:
"Bormann is almost certainly dead but his decease has not prevented numerous rumours as to his whereabouts gaining currency…Most of these reports derive from the press and probably come from irresponsible persons.
"We do not consider therefore that it would be worth your while bothering to look out for Mr Bormann in your territory".
Betty Knox of the "London Evening Standard"took up the story in July - an "early manifestation of silly seasonitis" said an MI5 memo.
But the Americans still seemed to be confused by May 1948 when the US Embassy wrote to Joan Chenhalls at MI5’s headquarters in St James’s Street asking whether Bormann was “considered to be alive or dead” and asking for “a composite description of him.”
Miss Chenhalls wrote back saying: "This office of the opinion that this highly important Nazi character is no longer alive but we have been unable up to the present to obtain evidence of his death," and then passed the inquiry to MI6.
A description and photographs were eventually sent to the Army of the Rhine, describing Bormann as "Very broad shouldered, stocky, slightly knock-kneed. Thin strands of dark brown hair beginning to turn grey, slightly bald in the centre. Bloated complexion, pale, almost Chinese yellow. Probably duelling scars on left cheek".
But Martin Bormann apparently refused to die and in November 1951, Arthur Veysey of the "Chicago Tribune" was visited in his Fleet Street office by a man claiming to be Bormann.
Special Branch turned up and reported: "At a glance it was obvious he was not" and that the man was in fact Harry Adcock, alias Harry Beaumont who lived in a "cheap lodging house”"in Holloway, North London and was a First World War veteran wounded at Gallipoli who had been a teacher before taking to drink and working as a waiter and dishwasher.
It turned out that Adcock had a history of trying to pull off hoaxes which included pretending - to an "Evening Standard" reporter - that he had played a part in the theft of the Duke of Windsor’s jewels and trying to get an interview with the actor Peter Ustinov.
The Special Branch report said Adcock was "slightly unbalanced" and added:
"I have emphasised to Veysey that he was…hoaxed – and easily at that".
Although he was reported to have been killed trying to escape from the Reich Chancellery in May 1945 his body was not found until 1972 and it was not until it was DNA tested in 1998 that rumours that he had survived the war were finally put to rest.
Martin Bormann - Nazi Ideologue or Russian Spy?
By Ben Goldby
Martin Bormann was among the most sinister and feared members of the Nazi high command.
A trusted member of Hitler's inner circle, and head of the chancellery, Bormann was the Führer's right hand man.
He was regarded by the Nazis as a true believer, a zealot to the fascist cause, so completely committed to the Third Reich's odious aims of racial purification that he was above suspicion.
But as the Nazi regime crumbled, and the Soviet troops stormed Berlin, things rapidly changed for this pragmatic bureaucrat. It is suggested that Bormann may not be the dedicated, boot-licking Hitler devotee that he made himself out to be.
Conspiracy theorists believe Bormann was in fact a Russian spy, a murky contact known to Stalin's intelligence chiefs as "Werther".
There is little doubt that a high-ranking German had been turned by their communist foes, but Bormann was not just any member of the high command, he was the personification of the Nazi stooge, Hitler's personal secretary, and a fearsome ideologue.
If the Russians did turn Bormann, it must be regarded as the espionage coup of the century.
But could a rabid, Führer-worshipping Nazi like Bormann really have fed information to Hitler's most hated foe, and if he did, how on earth did he manage to get away with it?
The Official Story
Bormann joined the Nazi party in 1925 and quickly rose through the ranks.
By the time Hitler seized power in 1933, Bormann was a trusted lieutenant and was handed the plum role of party chancellor.
Initially he lagged behind Rudolf Hess in the Fü’hrer's pecking order, but as the war in Europe intensified, the ruthless and bloodthirsty Bormann soon emerged as the perfect Nazi to become Hitler's deputy.
When Hess left for Britain, Bormann stepped up to become the Führer's right hand man, earning a reputation as a brutal, fanatical Nazi.
All of Hitler's papers, his diary, his day-to-day movements, were governed by Bormann, he alone controlled access to the leader, and therefore wielded huge power over the direction of the war effort.
A devious, manipulative power-broker, he jousted with SS chief Heinrich Himmler for dominance in Berlin.
Bormann was instrumental in devising and implementing the final solution, and his role in the holocaust was well-documented during the Nuremberg war crimes trials that followed the war.
Much of the administrative work that went into the mass transportation and extermination of Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies and other groups went through Bormann to Hitler, and some were even authorised by the deputy leader.
Such was his obsession with exterminating Jews, Bormann reportedly made furniture from the remains of those killed in the concentration camps.
As the war drew to a close and Berlin was surrounded Bormann was present in the Führerbunker where Hitler would take his own life, even acting as a witness to the leader's last will and testament.
He fled the Bunker with two other senior Nazis, and was reported dead by Artur Axmann, a fellow escapee and leader of the Hitler youth who had spotted Bormann's dead body near a rail line after they had separated in their bid to escape Berlin.
This account remained in serious doubt for five decades, despite the discovery of remains on the site Axmann identified as the scene of Bormann's demise in 1972.
As the only identification that could be carried out was based on a doctor's memory of Bormann's dental ecords from 1945, this account still remained in serious doubt, until a DNA test on the suspected Bormann body in 1998 confirmed the corpse to be his.
His remains were burned and scattered into the sea.
The Conspiracy Theory
The theory begins with Bormann's escape from Berlin.
Conspiracists claim that Axmann, a committed fanatic who wanted to continue Nazism from his hiding place in Austria, was not a credible witness, and could not even say how Bormann had died.
It is suggested that Bormann made good his escape, fleeing through Austria and on to one of a dozen different locations pointed to by theorists.
The two most popular conspiracies are:
1. That Bormann, who had unprecedented access to the funds of the Nazi party, had created a slush fund for fleeing party members, and was able to use this to escape to South America, where he lived into old age in either Chile or Argentina, and was easily able to bribe his way through any questions about his past.
2. The former Deputy Führer, a trusted subordinate with the ear of Hitler, spent the war passing detailed intelligence on German troop movements to the Soviets under the code name Werther. As the Red Army surrounded Berlin, he split from Axmann and his fellow Nazis and handed himself over to the Russians, securing a life of luxury paid for by the communist state for his role in winning the war for Stalin.
Nazi hunters, including the celebrated Simon Wiesenthal, argued fervently that Axmann's account was a lie, and that Bormann had been allowed to escape to South America.
But the sensational theory that he was a Russian spy has received even more attention from the conspiracy community.
Former Wehrmacht General Reinhard Gehlen made the allegations in the 1970s after becoming convinced that the only way Stalin could have been so well informed was if he had a spy inside the Nazi elite.
Fingers were pointed at Bormann based on information received from Soviet intelligence officers, and on the fact that as private secretary to the Führer, Bormann would have had access to everything he needed to pass sensitive information to the Russians.
Axmann was a notorious Nazi zealot, who was caught within months of his escape while trying to restart Nazism in Austria. If he felt he could aid a fellow ideologue's escape from Allied clutches, he would certainly have lied about seeing Bormann's body. As he is the only witness, the account of Bormann never escaping Berlin is shaky.
British Nazi hunter Ian Bell says Bormann hid in the Austrian Alps, and that he spotted the top-ranking Nazi trying to escape through Italy. He claims to have tracked him to Bari and watched him board a ship after being told not to engage him by the top brass.
When Bormann's body was exhumed for DNA testing in the 90s it was covered in red clay rather than the yellow sand common beneath the soil of Germany. This suggests his body was transported from somewhere else before being tested.
In 1972 the Nuremberg file on Bormann was reopened after compelling evidence was presented that he had not died in Berlin, and could still have been alive in South America.
The Red Army sometimes knew movement orders for German units in the field within hours of their release to German commanders. The only way they could gain such information was to have a mole at command level, with Bormann the prime candidate due to his unfettered access to documents.
In his book "Hitler's Traitor", author Louis Kilzer, makes a powerful case for Bormann being "Werther" the high-ranking Russian spy. He details how information was passed through Switzerland back to Stalin, and how only Bormann could have provided it.
Mr. Klizer does provide evidence, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Martin Bormann was indeed the spy-traitor, "Werther," spying from deep inside the Third Reich. He was the only person that was able to attend all the meetings in question, or if not, to have his informants and official stenographers record in minute details the German High Command's top secret transactions and military plans. Thus he was capable of relaying information to the Russians, even before the German generals were able to review and put them into action! Not even Ultra, the secret decoding of the German Enigma code, Winston Churchill's secret weapon at Bletchley Park, was able to provide this information and feedback!
Werther was not only able to have secret German military plans radioed to Moscow Center via the master spy Rudolf Rössler [code name "Lucy"] and his spy ring in Switzerland immediately after Wehrmacht conferences were over, but also let Stalin know who attended the conference and what each of the conferees stated. Werther was even capable of answering specific questions posed by Moscow center [i.e., "Gisela," the young, attractive, secretive, Jewish, Russian Spymaster, Maria Poliakova]. Kilzer shows that only one man was in the key [and only position], where he was able to do so, and that man could have only been Martin Bormann, the Fuhrer's trusted secretary!
Hitler was ruthless, but despite what we may have been led to believe, unlike Stalin, he was not a paranoid individual, and he allowed treasonous activity to thrive within the military [e.g., Generals Ludwig Beck and Georg Thomas], the police [e.g., Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo and creator of the Funkspiel, radio playback messages to Moscow], and even German military Intelligence [e.g., the official Hans Bernd Gisevius, General Hans Oster, and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr].
It was not until this serious attempt on his life by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg at the Wolf's Lair on 10 July 1944, that Hitler struck back with a vengeance against the conspirators. Only then [and as the Third Reich rapidly crumbled] did he become sadistically vindictive and unforgiving against his opponents within the German military. And yet, he never distrusted Martin Bormann, the "faithful" secretary, "who could get things done". On 30 April 1945, as he prepared for death, Hitler made Bormann the executor of his will and praised him as his "most faithful party comrade."
But Admiral Canaris, himself an honorary member of the Black Orchestra, suspected Bormann, the "Brown Bolshevik". One of Bormann's mistresses was a communist operative in the German resistance, but that was not then known, and he was not suspected. Some of the surviving top Nazis did come to suspect Bormann's betrayal to the Russians--- but only as the piece meal revelations came to light at the Nuremberg war crime trials, as they were being prosecuted. On the stand, when the prosecutor asked if he believed Bormann was dead, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring replied, "... I hope he is frying in hell. But I don't know."
What information did the spy-traitor, Werther, provide to Moscow Center that was so vital to the Soviets? No less than very detailed and specific military intelligence that led to the defeat of the Wehrmacht at the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43 and the decisive Battle of Kursk [i.e., the largest tank battle in history] during the spring and early summer of 1943, from which the Third Reich did not recover the initiative in the Eastern front.
The only question remaining for this reviewer is this: Why did Bormann not seek a timely escape route to communist Russia before the final collapse of the Reich? That is the 64 million dollar question. He might have been guarding his identity even from the Soviets. To escape, he attempted, but to surrender, he probably thought, would be futile. He had interpreted and carried out the Führer's order of genocide of the Jews during the Holocaust and the elimination of the Ukrainians during the Wehrmacht drive to the East. And his betrayal was ideological, but we will probably never have all the answers.
Thumbs up! This non-fiction, suspense thriller is recommended for both history buffs and spy aficionados, as a book that merits reading in the realm of Soviet-Nazi World War II espionage, for those with an ear for the deadly symphonies of betrayal played by the Red and Black Orchestras.
Written by Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D., author of Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise 
This book review on Hitler's Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich by Louis C. Kilzer 
Louis Kilzer, an investigative reporter, attempts to take readers to another level of war with his examination of the politics and personalities in Hitler's headquarters in his book, "Hitler's Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Third Reich". Since the war's end, students of the Third Reich's history have been fascinated both by a supposed traitor in the Nazi hierarchy, a Soviet agent code-named "Werther," and the personality and politics of Hitler's Party Secretary, Martin Bormann. Kilzer, with the techniques of his craft, attempts to prove that Bormann was in fact the traitor Werther, who fed countless pieces of information to the Soviets, thus making him one of Nazi Germany's most notorious turncoats.
Bormann remains an interesting personality in Hitler's inner circle. His confidential letters to his wife, published after the war, proved him to be a totally amoral person dedicated only to the maintenance of his personal power and pleasures. That he might have been a Soviet spy is not an original accusation. Earlier writers and members of the inner council of the National Socialist regime questioned Bormann's loyalty. Some, indeed, accused him of being a Soviet agent. Kilzer's book adds little if anything to our understanding of Bormann or to the validity of these charges. A review of the bibliography in many respects reveals why. There are no citations from any German sources other than English translations, and none from any German archive. By and large all of Kilzer's sources are well-used postwar books and studies. Only the "Black Bertha file" in Moscow shows any real original primary research in the overseas archives where any new revelations on this subject undoubtedly lie, if they exist.
As a consequence, the reader is presented with a rehash of the Soviet spy rings that penetrated German security (most notably the notorious "Rote Kapelle" that fed Stalin key intelligence information) and a rather rambling account of Germany's war against the Soviets. In the end, the author attempts to validate that the key spy in the highest echelons of the German command was Martin Bormann. But Kilzer fails to provide proof for his accusations. In the end the proof seems to be: "Who else could it have been?" No smoking gun is produced, a factor that has caused earlier writers to question whether there even was an agent named Werther. The discriminating reader is again left with the same questions that have existed since the end of the war: Was there a Soviet agent code-named Werther? If so, who was he? Was it Martin Bormann, or possibly General Hans Oster, another German officer dedicated to destroying Hitler? We still don't know the answers.
-- Samuel J. Newland, "The German Army at War, 1939-1945"
While lax about the security of some information, Hitler was a paranoid megalomanic who constantly assessed the threat coming from those beneath him. It is hard to imagine Bormann operating with impunity for more than five years to pass intelligence to Russia at the height of the war.
Bormann was hated by fellow Nazi leaders for his closeness to Hitler and his repeated efforts to enhance his own standing at the expense of others. Had he been passing information to the Soviets, Himmler, Göring, or any of the other lieutenants who sought to undermine Bormann's position would have been able to discover it, and would not have hesitated to expose Bormann.
Bletchley Park camouflaged their decodes as the product of "Super-Agents" at Hitler's HQ
The DNA testing seems to back up Axmann's account of Bormann's death as he attempted to flee Berlin. However, this counts for little as the body tested in the 90s could easily have been dumped at any stage by the German government. It is not conclusive proof that Bormann failed to escape.
Martin Bormann was a fearsome Nazi, a cruel, devious man who manipulated his way right to the top of Hitler's high command. That he was also working for the hated Soviet's was entirely possible, for however committed to the horrors of the holocaust and the twisted Nazi world view he was, he remained an arch pragmatist, willing to play all sides against the middle. Axmann's account of Bormann's death is unconvincing, and the numerous sightings of him all over the world suggest he did escape Berlin. The Russians would surely have protected such a valuable asset, a man who had helped them win the war, and had signed the death warrant for the Third Reich through his treachery. As more and more documents are declassified, the case against Bormann strengthens, it seems this conspiracy theory could well become historical fact in the future.. For now it remains an enthralling theory, with some gaps in the evidence that have yet to be filled.
In 1984, Harry Cooper, a former Naval Reserve officer and the founder of Sharkhunters, a respected submarine warfare-studying organization, received a letter from one of the many surviving WWII members of the organization. The man claimed he was a Spaniard and that his name was Don Angel Alcázar De Velasco, and that he had worked for Japanese and German intelligence.
He made more astounding claims, the most amazing of which was that it was he who smuggled top Nazi Martin Bormann out of Berlin via U-Boat to South America. It was Bormann who knew where the massive Nazi bank accounts were, ready to fund a planned National Socialist resurgence. Don Angel also said he knew what happened to Hitler and that he most certainly did not die in the Führerbunker, that he escaped Berlin as well, drugged and whisked away by those in his inner circle.
The 'dead Hitler' was nothing more than a double.
In the early days of World War II, when it was just a European conflict, he was involved in "Operation Willie in which he was the lynch pin to success in this operation. In this operation, the abdicated King Edward VIII of England, then the Duke of Windsor, was living in Portugal and his pro-Hitler and pro-German sentiments were widely reported in the world press.
The goal of "Operation Willie" was for Don Angel to have "Teddy", as the former king was known, accompany him on a hunting expedition into Spain. Once inside Spain where the German Abwehr was heavily imbedded, "Teddy" would be captured by the Abwehr and held for ransom - the payoff was to be the end of hostilities between England and Germany. The plan failed. "Teddy" did not go hunting with Don Angel and so the whole plan fell apart.
Velasco then worked for the Japanese "To" [Eastern] spy ring for much of the war, where he was involved with many plots and intrigues.
Late in the war, Velasco began to work for the German security after the SS had taken it over from the Abwehr. He had several postings and finally, to the Führerbunker in Berlin for the final few months of the war - where he personally saw Adolf Hitler forcibly drugged by direct orders of Martin Bormann and removed from the Bunker before the alleged suicide.
Velasco continued to work for the 'movement' well after the end of the war, helping various people escape to South America via a well-organized escape agency. The people would travel through Europe under false names, usually with Vatican issued passports, to a little town called Villa Garcia some 30 kilometers from Vigo, Spain. From there, they were taken by various means [fishing boats, sailing boats, "black" U-Boats etc] to various destinations in South America. This went on from middle 1944 through middle 1947.
Martin Bormann is one of those he helped to escape, as proven by a CBS documentary that aired in the late 1960's or early 1970's - notwithstanding the "magical discovery" of a body said to be Bormann by the government.
Velasco worked for the old order until sometime in 1958 when he decided to quit the spook business and just live out his life in peace and quiet.
Velasco stated he was taken into Hitler's confidence at the last moment of the Third Reich, therefore, he was attending Hitler at his Bunker in April 1945. According to Velasco, Hitler did not commit suicide and was not in Berlin when Soviet troops occupied Berlin on 30 April 1945. Martin Bormann and Velasco himself took U-boat, U-313 on 7 May 1946 from Villa Garcia, a fishing village of Northwestern Spain and reached Argentina after 18 days voyage.
[In official records, U-313 was allegedly surrendered at Narvik, Norway on 8 May 1945, transferred to Loch Eriboll, Scotland, for Operation Deadlight where U-313 was scuttled on 27 December 1945].
During the voyage, Bormann told Velasco that: Hitler was first transferred to a fortress in Bavaria. Eva Brown had died there because of the use of drugs in the bunker. [Other stories claims she did not die and followed Hitler to Argentina]. Then, Hitler was sent to Norway by ship. He was kept in a remote Norwegian village till his evacuation plan was carried out. He can not disclose where Hitler is. Bormann was proud that he managed to make the world believe Hitler's suicide.
Velasco also stated that he dispatched Adolf Eichmann from Madrid Airport to Buenos Aires, Argentina on 6 June 1946. Velasco managed to obtain a passport at the Argentina embassy in Madrid on 3 June 1946 and passed it to the person who disclosed his real name, Eichmann, on the way to the airport.
Maintaining command was so important to Hitler that he had ordered deserting SS officer Hermann Fegelein executed on 29 April 1945—and he was Eva Braun’s brother-in-law. In his Political Testament of 30 April 1945, the day he died, he expelled his long-time associates Reich Marshal Hermann Göring and SS chief Heinrich Himmler from both the party and the government for their unauthorized contacts with the western Allies, Britain and the U.S. Previously, he had stripped Waffen-SS General Sepp Dietrich (highly popular within the Waffen-SS) and his division of special honors for not fulfilling an order adequately in a battle in Hungary; Dietrich had been with Hitler for 17 years, since 1928, and was a bearer of the Knight’s Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds.
The last letter Hitler wrote apart from his last will and political testament was on 23 April 1945 to Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner who had sent a radio message to Hitler exhorting him to leave Berlin as the Russians approached, and carry on the war from southern Germany. Hitler wrote out his response, which was radioed to Schörner. Asking him to push his group northwards, he wrote “every effort must be made to win the struggle for Berlin”.
With the forces available to him, Schörner was unable to break through the tightening Russian encirclement but was nonetheless promoted to commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht on 29 April, the day before Hitler committed suicide. In this last letter Hitler stated: “I shall remain in Berlin, so as to take part, in honourable fashion, in the decisive battle for Germany, and to set a good example to all the rest”.
In an interview with Ron Laytner that she authorised for publication only after her death, the famous German aviatrix Hanna Reitsch stated explicitly that at least part of the account attributed to her had been fabricated:
"When I was released by the Americans I read historian Trevor-Roper's book, 'The Last Days of Hitler'. Throughout the book like a red line, runs an eyewitness report by Hanna Reitsch about the final days in the Bunker. I never said it. I never wrote it. I never signed it. It was something they invented. Hitler died with total dignity'. 
This report, dated 8 October 1945, was written by Reitsch's interrogator, Captain Robert E. Work [Air Division, Headquarters, United States Forces in Austria, Air Interrogation Unit], and published for the first time in, of all places, "Public Opinion Quarterly" in 1946–47. 
 Ron Laytner, "The First Astronaut Was A Woman", Edit International
 Robert E. Work, "Last Days in Hitler's Air Raid Shelter", Public Opinion Quarterly 1946–1947 Winter; 10(4):565-81. A different translation of the same report is included in Andrew Roberts, "Hitler's Death", although without the least acknowledgement that Reitsch had repudiated it.
In a 2007 interview, Rochus Misch - who worked as Hitler’s bodyguard, phone operator and courier for five years - said: “Life in the Bunker was pretty normal. Hitler was mostly very calm".
He said historians, filmmakers and journalists always got it wrong when they described the mood in the Bunker as Soviet forces closed in on Hitler in the final days of the Nazi regime.
Baron Freytag von Löringhoven who was the last survivor among the close advisers of the Führer said, "Hitler could be very aggressive but towards the end he was very controlled. He could be pleasant and even warm. He could be very charming - he was a real Austrian".
Theo Junker, the former Waffen-SS soldier with the Viking division who set up a Hitler- and Waffen-SS Memorial on his farm in Wisconsin, stated that while he was held at a British POW camp for SS and Waffen-SS in Neuengamme after the war, he met a former SS telephonist in the Führerbunker, who told him that Hitler was basically cool, calm, collected—and very much in command—right up until his last day. Despite all the stress, he never "cracked up," Junker quoted the man as saying.
Erna Flegel, Hitler's last nurse said, "His authority was extraordinary. He was always polite and charming. There was really nothing to object to".
For these reasons, it is hard to imagine how Martin Bormann—a man unusually subservient to Hitler, albeit high-handed toward others—could have dared to drug and abduct Hitler and spirit him somehow out of surrounded Berlin to a U-Boat [and thence to South America]. Once Hitler came to, he would have had Bormann shot on principle if he had any SS guards with him, or he would have shot him himself. [On 30 June 1934 Hitler personally arrested, and then had shot, his long-time friend Ernst Röhm].
There can be no question of Hitler’s courage to engage in a final act of combat or to end his own life. The two-time Iron Cross winner in World War I, as even the most hostile English and postwar German historians have conceded, was a man of exemplary courage during 1914-1918.
As British activist-writer Michael Walsh wrote, in "Hitler’s War Record" [Historical Review Press Online]: "Werner Maser, former head of the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Munich, although very hostile to Hitler, wrote a large neutral biography called "Hitler, Legend, Myth and Reality" [Harper and Row, 1971]".
The objective record is clear: "Hitler’s wartime record—campaigns, decorations, wounds, periods in hospital and on leave, is fully documented. In addition there is evidence to show that he was comradely, level headed and an unusually brave soldier, and that a number of his commanding officers singled him out for special mention. . . ."
In 1922, at a time when Hitler was still unknown, Gen. Friedrich Petz summarized the High Command’s appreciation of the gallant and self-effacing corporal as follows: "Hitler was quick in mind and body and had great powers of endurance. His most remarkable qualities were his personal courage and daring which enabled him to face any combat or perilous situation whatsoever".
Even those historians least favorably disposed toward Hitler, like Joachim Fest, conceded that "Hitler was a courageous and efficient soldier and was always a good comrade". He also noted: "The courage and the composure with which he faced the most deadly fire made him seem invulnerable to his comrades. ‘As long as Hitler is near us, nothing will happen to us,’ they kept repeating. It appears this made a deep impression on Hitler and reinforced his belief that he had been charged with a special mission".
Even Sebastian Haffner, a Jewish writer and fanatical Hitler hater, was forced to admit "Hitler had a fierce courage unmatched by anyone at the time or since".
In his massive and hostile "Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris" [New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999], the first volume of his two-part Hitler biography, Prof. Ian Kershaw admits: "From all indications, Hitler was a committed, rather than simply a conscientious and dutiful soldier, and did not lack physical courage. His superiors held him in high regard. His immediate comrades, mainly the group of dispatch runners, respected him and, it seems, even quite liked him. . . ."
Arthur Kannenberg, Hitler's butler, said: "'Before the end he [Hitler] gave me gold and silver cigarette cases engraved with his name. When he handed them over he said; 'Look after these until we meet again'.
One version of Martin Bormann’s escape was reported by Josef Stalin’s intelligence agents.
Stalin stated to Harry Hopkins, political consultant and confidant of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and later secretary of state, that Soviet agents reported Bormann’s escape from Berlin late the night of April 29 in a small plane and in the company of three men — one heavily bandaged — and a woman. From there, Stalin insisted, his agents traced Bormann to Hamburg, where he boarded a large U-Boat and departed Germany.
"Irrefutable proof exists that a small plane left the Tiergarten at dawn on 30 April 1945, flying in the direction of Hamburg. Three men and a woman are known to have been on board. It has also been established that a large submarine left Hamburg before the arrival of the British forces. Mysterious persons were on board the submarine...."
-- From a Soviet Intelligence Commission of Inquiry Report, as quoted by James McGovern, CIA agent in charge of researching the post-war survival of Martin Bormann
"Stalin told Harry Hopkins in Moscow that he believed Bormann escaped. Now he went further and said it was Bormann who got away in the fleeing U-Boat. More than that Stalin refused to disclose".
-- William Stevenson, author "The Bormann Brotherhood"
Stalin later reiterated his belief, claiming that Bormann was being harbored by the United States government in his escape and continued freedom. The Allies, led by the United States, refused to give this story credence and ignored Stalin's demands for an explanation, and, in fact, began claiming in defense that the Soviets held Bormann. But Stalin insisted until his death that his was the correct account of Martin Bormann's fate.
Several details of these events ring true. It is a well-known fact that while Berlin was being bombed and the Nazi leadership fell into panic or fled, Martin Bormann maintained secret radio negotiations with Admiral Karl Dönitz, the commander of all of Germany’s U-Boats, and had made plans to escape to Dönitz’s submarine headquarters. Dönitz at first resisted this effort but ultimately was ordered by Hitler [presumably at Bormann’s bidding] to accept Bormann at his headquarters. From this point on, details become sketchy and many disparate accounts are given of Bormann’s escape or possible end. But parallels from various, otherwise unconnected, Führer Bunker escape stories seem to indicate a probable scenario.
First, Hitler’s good friend Hanna Reitsch, the famous German aviatrix, tells in her autobiography how she flew seriously injured German Air Force General Ritter von Greim, whom Hitler had just made Commander of the Luftwaffe, out of Berlin late one night in the last days of the war. Other accounts confirm the flight was made 29 April 1945, the same night Stalin’s agents reported Bormann’s escape by small aircraft. Reitsch recounts how they flew to Dönitz’s headquarters “to make our last visit and farewell to Grand Admiral Dönitz” before flying south to the Austrian/Swiss border — an odd and seemingly careless detour of several hundred dangerous miles with the badly injured and very important General von Greim. Was there something more to that trip than fond good-byes?
Second, a separate, independent account purportedly of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller’s escape follows a somewhat similar path, though in it he was flown out of Berlin alone. In this account, Müller was flown out of the German capital late the same night as in Reitsch’s tale, in a Fieseler Storch airplane, the same aircraft used in Reitsch’s story, under exactly the same conditions Reitsch describes. [von Greim and Reitsch flew in by Fi-156 but flew out on an Arado Ar-96].
Müller makes no account of flying to meet Dönitz, but tells a story about flying to the Austrian/Swiss border that is decidedly similar to Reitsch’s version. There are obviously discrepancies in these stories, as there are in virtually all accounts of these events; and it is hard to know what is true and what is disinformation. But the similarities of the independent accounts set against the observations of Stalin’s informants that three men, one injured, and a woman, flying out of Berlin in a small airplane, seem to paint a compelling scenario. The description of that little group of night flyers is explicit and unique in its observations, and yet it adheres in its details, even the unusual ones, with the Stalin account. It identifies Bormann and Müller by name; also a heavily bandaged man, which fits the description of von Greim at the time; and a woman, which would be Hanna Reitsch, probably the only woman in the world one could have expected to see in that circumstance, at that place, at that time. The three accounts just seem to interlock too well not to be connected.
In his book "Die Rote Kapelle" author Gilles Perrault claims that both Bormann and Gestapo Müller worked for Soviet intelligence.
Martin Bormann was the highest-ranking SS officer to take refuge in South America, specifically in Chile and Argentina. Bormann joined the Nazi party in 1925, and by the end of WWII was Adolf Hitler's personal assistant.
Bormann became so powerful that he was appointed by Hitler to collect the financial donations made by the richest German businessmen to the Nazi party, and also to look after Hitler's private estate, the Berghof in Bavaria. In 1941, Bormann was appointed Chancellor of the Nazi Party, whereby all official matters and meetings with Hitler had to be previously approved by Bormann.
In 1945, as the Soviet troops advanced on the Berlin Bunker, Bormann witnessed Hitler and Eva Braun's wedding. After the ceremony Hitler ordered Bormann to escape and save his life to carry out a mysterious "final mission."
There are many versions as to how Bormann escaped from Berlin, some claim that he died others that he escaped. Bormann's final fate remained an enigma until 1996 when a Uruguayan passport with Bormann's photo turned up in southern Chile made out in the name of Ricardo Bauer, one of the aliases allegedly used by Hitler's deputy during his flight to South America.
Bormann reportedly in South America
LONDON (UPI) -A London newspaper said today Martin Bormann, the object of one of the world's most intense hunts for Nazi criminals, is alive and hiding in South America. It said he was last seen October 5 on the border between Argentina and Chile.
The article, the first of a five-part series written for the "London Daily Express" by American writer Ladislas Farago and Express reporter Stewart Steven, was illustrated by three pictures reportedly showing Bormann as he appeared October 5. Bormann was deputy to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and was sentenced to die by the Nuernberg tribunal, which tried him in absentia but he fled before Allied agents could arrest him at the end of World War II.
Some experts believe he died as the Third Reich collapsed. But the "Daily Express" said he is living under the names of Ricardo Bauer and Juan Gomez and when last known, he lived on an Argentine ranch owned by a member of the family Krupp, which during the war was instrumental arming Hitler's forces. "His last refuge, to which the Argentine secret service traced him only a few weeks ago, was in the province of Salta," the newspaper said. "He was staying in a cottage on the Rancho Grande, the vast estate of Arndt von Bohlen und Halbach, last scion of the Krupp family."
The "Daily Express" said it would offer "incontrovertible evidence" that Bormann did not die as many believe in 1945, but is instead a prosperous businessman with high ranking friends in several South American governments. The photographs the "Daily Express" published show a balding, white-haired and thickset man confronting a man the article identified as a high ranking official of Argentina's Central Intelligence Agency at an immigration post on the Argentine-Chilean border.'
An alert immigration inspector summoned the Argentine intelligence man, Jose Juan Velasco, because he recognized the man. The newspaper said the man's passport identified him as "Ricardo Bauer" while on earlier trips he used passports identifying him as "Juan Gomez" and others. But by the time Velasco received instructions from Buenos Aires to detain the man, "Ricardo Bauer" had disappeared, apparently driving north toward Paraguay, the newspaper said. "I regret that this time, when I was face to face with Bormann in Mendoza, I did not act on my own initiative and place him under arrest," Velasco was quoted as saying.
According to Farago and Steven, Bormann fled in 1948 to Argentina by way of Genoa, Italy, to join a treasure he had sent on earlier. They said he was under the personal protection of Argentine dictator Juan Peron until Peron's ouster in 1955. "The documents show his astounding metamorphosis from a Nazi potentate into a man without a country, and then into a successful investor of the smuggled Nazi funds with a financial wizardry that has made him an important factor in the economic life of South America," the Express said. It cited surveillance reports as saying Bormann moves mostly from a farm he owns outside Valdivia in Chile, to Eldorado in Argentina and Asuncion in Paraguay, via Mendoza and Cordoba, Argentina, to attend board meetings of his enterprises in Buenos Aires, and to Carlos da Bariloche, "a winter resort high in the Argentine mountains in whose Bavarian-type environment he feels most at home and safest." Bormann went suddenly to the Krupp ranch because he feared President Salvador Allende might order his arrest, the article said.
-- "The Delta Democrat-Times"
27 November 1972
|Passport Rekindles Debate on Fate of Martin Bormann|
24 June 1996
Argentina Releases Nazi Files Evidence Shows Martin Bormann Was Never In Buenos Aires
The Washington Post
February 4, 1992
BUENOS AIRES -- President Carlos Menem began paying what he called "a debt to humanity" on Monday by ordering the release of police files on Nazi war criminals who fled to Argentina after World War II.
Officials said the documents examined thus far chart the lengthy, comfortable stay of Josef Mengele, known as the "Angel of Death" for experiments he performed on inmates of concentration camps. The files also document the uneventful life and times in Argentina of Josef Schwammberger, now on trial in Germany for charges of having slaughtered thousands of Jews in a Polish ghetto.
A file on Martin Bormann, one of Adolf Hitler`s top aides, contains no proof that he ever spent time in Argentina, officials said. Most experts say Bormann died in Germany in 1945, but there have been numerous supposed sightings in various South American countries over the years.
Release of the 10-inch stack of yellowing papers in dog-eared folders represents what Menem characterized as an "immense" change in Argentine policy.
Argentina pursued a stubborn, and lucrative, neutrality throughout the war, joining the side of the Allies in the final days when advancing Russian troops were shelling the suburbs of Berlin and Hitler had taken to his underground Bunker.
After the war, strongman Juan Peron allowed Nazis to enter the country. The number is disputed, from hundreds to thousands. He and subsequent presidents turned a deaf ear to international authorities trying to hunt down war criminals such as Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Holocaust. Eichmann lived in a Buenos Aires suburb until 1960, when Israeli commandos kidnapped him and smuggled him to Jerusalem to be tried and hung.
It has fallen to Menem, a Peronist who often proclaims reverence for the Argentine dictator, to undo much of Peron`s legacy. Over the last two years he has dismantled much of the economic structure Peron left behind. Now he is opening to scrutiny Peron`s attitude toward the fleeing Nazis, which seems to have amounted to indifference, if not benign neglect.
Shimon Samuels, director for Europe and Latin America of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Menem's action offered "a good signal" that the Argentine government is willing to break with its past.
Samuels said documents in the possession of Argentine authorities might shed light on roles that the Red Cross, the Vatican and other third parties could have played in Nazi escapes after the war, and might offer clues to the whereabouts of loot that war criminals are said to have stashed away.
Menem said he made the decision to open the files during his trip to the United States last November. The issue was raised by representatives of the World Jewish Congress, as well as in articles in the U.S.
Menem's decree immediately releases federal police files on the Nazis to the Argentine national archives. It gives other government agencies 30 days to search for any additional pertinent documents.
Did Martin Bormann die in Argentina? After years of speculation, the discovery of a passport may bring an end to the mystery surrounding Adolf Hitler’s personal aide and treasurer of the Nazi Party.
Bormann, who was first thought to have died in Berlin at the end of World War II, was long believed to have actually fled Germany for South America.
Last week, a man who remains anonymous gave the newspaper "La Manana del Sur" [Southern Morning] in the northern Patagonia resort city of Bariloche a Uruguayan passport bearing the name of Richard Bauer, an Italian national.
Bauer was one of the names allegedly used by Bormann during his exile in South America.
The man, who was identified only as “a middle-age, German man,” told "La Manana del Sur" that in 1973 he bought property from “a man I suspected was a Nazi exile.” The property was located in a Chilean town near the border with Argentina.
After taking possession of the house, he found the passport and tried to return it.
“He told me he was moving to Argentina for good, and he would not be needing it anymore,” the man told the newspaper.
“He said he always spent long spells in Argentina, and that he was moving there because Gen. [Juan] Peron was returning to power,” the man said.
Peron returned from exile in Spain on 20 June 1973, and died in office on 1 July 1974.
Bauer died in Buenos Aires in 1975 of liver cancer, the unidentified man told the newspaper.
He said he was telling the story now because he wanted “the truth about Bormann to be known.”
Sergio Widder, the Simon Wiesenthal Center representative in Argentina, said of the report about Bauer’s passport that “all this is one more version about Bormann.”
“We do not discount it, nor do we endorse it,” he said.
Bauer’s passport bears the number 9892 and was issued at the Uruguayan Consulate in Genoa, Italy, on 3 January 1946. The bearer’s photo, of a balding man wearing a dark jacket, a white shirt and no tie, shows a remarkable likeness to the last available pictures of Bormann.
Bormann was one of the most powerful men in the Nazi regime. Toward the end of the war, he was secretary general and treasures of the Nazi Party, held the second-ranking position in the government and was executor of Hitler’s will.
Some believe that Bormann died 1 May 1945, a day after Hitler’s suicide.
Witnesses said he was killed by a Soviet artillery barrage hours before the Soviet Army stormed Hitler’s Bunker.
Others have long questioned this account.
Bormann was judged “in absentia” during the Nuremberg trials, because Allied authorities believed that he was alive, even though he was not in their custody.
For decades, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal searched for proof that Bormann was alive, saying that the war criminal was living in Argentina under the name of Richard or Ricardo Bauer.
But after an autopsy was performed in 1977 on a body found buried in Hitler’s bunker grounds, Wiesenthal said Bormann had died in Berlin in 1945.
Over the years, other sources have maintained that Bormann was alive and had personally negotiated with Peron, when he first led Argentina and let several Nazi officers into the country.
Among them were Josef Mengele, Adolf Eichmann, Franz Schwammberger and Erich Priebke, who also had been living in Bariloche and was recently deported to Italy where he is on trial for participating in the 1944 massacre at the Ardentine Caves near Rome.
The Bauer-Bormann connection was reported in 1972 by the British newspaper "Daily Express", which said Bormann had left Germany in 1946 under the assumed name of Richard Bauer.
And, in 1993, Paraguayan newspapers published a police memorandum dating from early 1959 claiming that Bormann had entered the country in 1956 and died in Asuncion in 1959.
The memorandum, signed by police officer Pedro Procchuk, a Polish immigrant and survivor of the war, said Bormann was buried at a cemetery in the small town of Ita, 25 miles north of Asuncion.
“When it comes to Bormann, the stories always have a nugget of truth,” Jorge Camarasa, an Argentine journalist and author of two books on Nazis who moved to South America, said in an interview.
“When it was said he died in Buenos Aires in 1975, we found medical records under the name of a Richard Bauer who suffered of cancer to the liver.”
Camarasa found it noteworthy that the Bauer passport was issued in Italy, not in Uruguay.
“The Uruguayan government of the time was not so friendly to Nazis as the Argentine government was,” Camarasa said. “Bormann would not have been able to get a Uruguayan passport in Montevideo, but he might have bought one from a consulate official in Genoa".
Meanwhile, a copy of the passport has been sent to Israel for examination, according to an Israeli Embassy official in Buenos Aires
On the night of 15 October 1946, ten of the twelve major war criminals, condemned to death at the Nuremberg trials, were executed. Of the two who eluded the hangman, one was Reich Marshal Hermann Göring, who committed suicide by swallowing a lethal vial of cyanide two hours before his execution. The other man was Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, who had managed to gain an enormous amount of power within the Nazi Party. He was virtually unknown outside of the Party elite as he had worked in the shadows of Hitler.
As the end of the war drew near, many of the top Nazis were fleeing. Hermann Göring had fled west, and had been captured by American soldiers, after the death of Hitler had been announced. In Hitler’s political will, Göring had been expelled from the party while Martin Bormann had been named Party Minister . According to Jochen vn Lang, Göbbels and Bormann had "held a military briefing on the night of 2 May 1945".
Göbbels had already decided to commit suicide but Bormann desperately wanted to survive. The last entry into his diary was 'Ausbruchsversuch' [Break-out Attempt]." Martin Bormann’s whereabouts after this night is unknown. There are many speculations as to his fate ranging from the probable to the spectacular.
Reichsleiter Bormann who, according to A. Zoller, "exercised absolute control over the whole structure of the Reich" and yet, virtually unknown to the public, was born 17 June 1900. He was born in Saxon to a Postal Clerk. Bormann joined an anti-Semitic organization in 1920 and by 1923 he was a member of the Freikorps. During this period, he was imprisoned for a year for murder and one year after his release Bormann joined the Nazi Party as a financial administrator. By 1933 he had worked his way to being made a Reichsleiter, a General of the SS and the Chief of Staff to Rudolf Hess. When Hess took flight to England, Bormann gladly inherited his position and became Hitler’s deputy. He had many enemies in the Party and Göring explained that even Göbbels feared him and his power.
Bormann saw himself to be quite a noble character and in a letter to his wife dated 2 April 1945 he wrote that, "if we are destined, like the Nibelung, to perish in King Attila’s hall, then we go to death proudly and with our heads held high". For all his bravado, as the time to fight arrived, Bormann made a frantic attempt to survive.
At the end of the war, the Allied leaders decided to prosecute top Nazis as War Criminals in Nuremberg. As Martin Bormann was missing, it was decided that he would be tried in absentia. Although the Allies had testimony stating that Bormann was dead, they ignored it because if "Bormann at this point was to be declared dead by the court, and then to surface later on, die-hard Nazis would suspect that perhaps the Führer was alive too". In order for allied credibility to remain intact, Bormann was to be tried for Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. Dr. Friedrich Bergold was appointed to this difficult task of defending a missing man. He considered it "a miscarriage of justice for the Tribunal to try his client in absentia". The International Tribunal sentenced Reichsleiter Martin Bormann to death.
The night of 1-2 May 1945 is the last known whereabouts of Martin Bormann. The Reichsleiter was desperately trying to leave Berlin alive. He had tried to negotiate with the Russians for a brief cease-fire in order for him to obtain a safe passage through the enemy’s lines. It had been rejected. The survivors in the Führerbunker were attempting to escape the city and every twenty minutes a group left. Bormann emerged wearing an SS uniform without rank and a leather overcoat. His pocket contained a copy of Hitler’s Will, securing him to power. His group, that included Axmann, Kempka and Stumpfegger, arrived at the Friedrichstrasse Subway station but were held up at the Weidendammer Bridge. The Russians held the other side of the bridge and therefore made it impossible to cross without the cover of tanks. Miraculously, some German Tiger tanks and a few armoured personnel carriers drove up. Bormann’s goup crouched around the tanks and began to cross the bridge. Bormann and Stumpfegger were together, Kempka was behind them and further behind was Axmann. A Russian projectile hit the tank beside Bormann and it exploded. After this point, the truth of the fate of Bormann is difficult to decipher from the differing stories.
The events up until this point are not disputed in the available sources. Two of the widely believed testimonies are from two of the men with Bormann on this night. One of these men was Hitler’s chauffeur, Erich Kempka. Kempka testified that when the tank exploded he saw Bormann collapse in a sheet of flames. Kempka himself was knocked unconscious by the blast and when he revived he did not see Bormann’s body, although he thought him to be dead. The other witness on this night was Artur Axmann, the head of the Hitler Jugend. He claimed that after the blast the group had separated but Bormann and Stumpfegger had rejoined him and Günter Weltzin [Axmann’s adjutant] and together they had approached Lehrter Bahn of 5-Bahn station. There had been Russians on the platform. This apparently had scared Stumpfegger and Bormann and they ran away. At approximately three in the morning, Axmann came across the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger. They appeared to be dead but without blood or injury. The Bunker elite had been issued poison capsules. Axmann presumed that both had used them to kill themselves. Unfortunately Weltzin could not confirm this testimony as he died in Russian captivity. These two men were the last to see Bormann.
There has been much discussion on the validity of their statements. One obvious confound is the fact that both witnesses were top ranking Nazis. There was certainly a motive for a deliberate false story, although they both asserted that they were no friends of his as did many of those known to Bormann . The fact that the men had both been on the bridge and in sight of Bormann and yet their stories contradict each other throws suspicion upon their testimonies. Both men had been close to Bormann when the tank exploded but Kempka reported that Bormann could not have survived the blast. But, as he did not see the body even further suspicion is cast upon his testimony. Axmann did claim to see the body but even he said that although he presumed them to be dead he was not a medical man. His statements were not used in Bormann’s Nuremberg trial, as they were unverifiable. Without a body it was difficult to verify either of these claims. Those who believed Bormann dead were very interested in finding his body, if only to put the incredible stories of his post-war adventures to rest.
In 1964, Jochen von Lang and First Public Prosecutor Joachim Richter dug for the remains of Martin Bormann. A man who claimed to have been forced by the Russians to bury Bormann and Stumpfegger had identified the supposed grave. The man knew the body had been that of Bormann because of the pocketbook found upon the body by the man’s boss. Von Lang verified this story. The man led von Lang and Richter to the spot where the bodies had lain before he had moved them to the burial site. It was the exact spot where Axmann had testified to having last seen them. Nevertheless, the search revealed nothing. Seven years later the city of Berlin was excavating the area near the suspected grave. Von Lang attended and two bodies were discovered and were identified as those of Bormann and Stumpfegger. They were found thirty-six feet away from the site of the previous search. The dental records recreated from memory by Dr. Hugo Blaschke, in 1945, identified the bodies. A press conference in West Germany announced the discovery of the remains. Since the dental records were recreated from memory their authenticity is questionable. Also, the pocketbook found by the Russians could have been fake or even a diversion. Interestingly enough, those who wished to discredit the find did not attack the dental records. Instead one man wrote that the remains were a clever fake, where a man from a concentration camp had been fitted for Martin Bormann’s dental work.
The SS sergeant said that much later he had met up with Bormann’s companion of those fateful ten days; he assured him that the party minister had made it safely through the British lines by following the Autobahn to the outskirts of Flensburg, where he was to make contact with Grand Admiral Dönitz.
Martin Bormann, in the interim, had met Heinrich Müller, who had slipped out of Berlin earlier and was waiting in a prearranged safe house. Müller told Bormann it would not be wise to meet with the new Reich president, who by now had carried out the unconditional surrender in both Rheims and Berlin. He predicted a war crimes trial of all German leaders, and said that Bormann would be inviting serious difficulty if he surfaced at this particular time. Martin Bormann secluded himself in a private German sanitarium in Schleswig-Holstein. The Gestapo chief, taking on the security of the new party minister and of his safe transportation to South America by assorted routes, made the exact plans that he would effect at precisely the right time.
Müller had already initiated a strategy of deception to explain his own disappearance from prominent circles in Berlin. The week he slipped out of the German capital, his grieving family gathered for his “funeral.” A coffin was borne to a cemetery where it was buried with appropriate ceremony. The grave was marked with a headstone bearing the words “Our Dear Daddy,” Müller’s name, his birthdate, and the date of his alleged death in Berlin in 1945.
Several years following this incident, an editor of a German news magazine, acting on an informer’s tip generated by the master deceptionist Müller himself, from South America, obtained a court order in 1963, and the grave was opened. When the coffin in question was unearthed and opened, the editor and the attending officials found three skeletons, none remotely matching Heinrich Müller’s short and thick-set measurements, or his markedly prominent forehead.
A deception plan for Bormann had been completed by Müeller in Berlin. Tops in police work and crafty beyond imagining, he provided for a matching skeleton and skull, complete with identical dental work, for future forensic experts to ponder over and to reach conclusions that suited his purpose. Müller was a former inspector of detectives in the Munich police department; he had been brought into the higher echelons of the Gestapo by Reinhard Heydrich because of his professionalism and brilliance. He had risen to the rank of SS chief group leader and senior general of the Waffen SS. The solution was elementary; his motivation was protection and enhancement of the highest authority of the state. To this principle, Müller had been devoted for a decade as chief of police.
His scheme of substituting a stand-in for Martin Bormann’s body in the freight yards of Berlin was told to me three different times by three different individuals. One was an agent whose career was in the Secret Intelligence Service of the British Foreign Office, one served the Federal Republic of Germany, and one was a member of Mossad, the exterior service of Israeli intelligence. The first tip came over dinner in 1947, in the U.S. press club in Frankfurt. It was the day I returned from Berlin and a personal meeting with General Lucius D. Clay, military governor of the U.S. Zone of Occupation. General Clay had offered me the position of his civilian deputy, but I had turned it down with some reluctance, preferring to remain a European reporter for American newspapers. During the press club dinner, the British agent and I discussed the fascinating and bizarre disappearance of Reichsleiter Bormann; this source said flatly that Müller had engineered Bormann’s escape, using the device of a concentration camp look-alike to throw future investigators off the scent. Many years later, in 1973, on a visit to Bonn, a conversation with one of General Gehlen’s aides in the Federal Republic intelligence service confirmed the 1947 British tip. The German stated: “The skull represented as Bormann’s is a fraud. Naturally the West German government wishes to bury the past and establish Bormann’s death once and for all. They have been constantly unsettled by continued revelations and scandals.” In 1978, an Israeli Mossad agent with a German specialization said to me that they had never closed the Bormann file in Tel Aviv. “We know he is in South America. We are not very compelled to find him because he was never personally involved in the ‘final solution.’” The Israeli added: “Bormann’s business was business, and from what I know personally he did a thorough job of shifting German assets away from the Third Reich.”
To piece my information together: General Heinrich Müller initiated his Bormann scheme during the waning months of the war in the time frame when the Reichsleiter was moving to transfer German assets to safe havens in other places. At Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen he examined several inmates in the special elite group known as Sonderkommando, those who had been working in the German counterfeit operation of British pound notes and of other currencies. Documents prepared by them would also be used by SS men in their flight at war’s end [eventually, over 10,000 former German military made it to South America along escape routes ODESSA and Deutscher Hilfsverein. The Sonderkommando, placed in a special context within the camp, were treated as the skilled professionals they were—engravers, documents specialists, and quality printers— who had been rounded up from occupied countries and put to work for the Third Reich.
Peter Edel Hirschweh, who participated in this special work and survived, described it as follows:
"All of the inmates, without any exceptions, were Jews or descendants of mixed marriages. We were 'bearers of secrets'. Even if those two qualifications had not alone been sufficient to classify us as a death command, we received additional confirmation and proof through the following events: If some of the prisoners felt slightly ill, received an injury on the finger (while engraving) or the like they were taken to the doctor, heavily guarded, to receive treatment there; the physician was not allowed to talk to them at all. Persons who were seriously ill were not allow to go to the infirmary, even if they could be cured there. They were isolated in the washroom and if this did not help, they were liquidated, i.e., killed.
"When Heinrich Müller visited Sachsenhausen he walked through the engraving, printing, and document areas looking for any inmates who might resemble Bormann. In one he noticed two individuals who did bear a resemblance in stature and facial structure to the Reichsleiter. He had them placed in separate confinement. Thereupon a special dental room was made ready for “treatment” of the two men. A party dentist was brought in to work over and over again on the mouth of each man, until his teeth, real and artificial, matched precisely the Reichsleiter’s. In April 1945, upon completion of these alterations, the two victimized men were brought to the Kurfürstenstrasse building to be held until needed. Dr. Blaschke had advised Müller to use live inmates to insure a believable aging process for dentures and gums; hence the need for several months of preparation.
"Exact dental fidelity was to play a major part in the identification of Hitler’s body by the invading Russians. It was to be of significance in Frankfurt twenty-eight years later, when the West German government staged a press conference to declare that they had “found Bormann’s skeleton proving he had died in Berlin’s freight yards 1–2 May 1945".
Dr. Hugo Blaschke was the dentist who had served both Hitler and Bormann. He had offices in the fashionable professional area of Uhlanstrasse, but he always went to the Chancellery for his two most important clients. Bormann had established a well-equipped dental office there, where Dr. Blaschke and his nurse, Fräulein Käte Heusemann, would take care of the dental requirements of the Führer and the Reichsleiter. The dental records for both were kept in the Chancellery. When the Russians had threatened Berlin, Dr. Blaschke prudently moved his practice to Munich, but Fräulein Heusemann had stayed on. Hitler’s dental charts were never found, because Bormann had removed them from the Chancellery files. However, the Russians, who had wanted complete identification of Hitler after the fall of Berlin, brought Fräulein Heusemann to Soviet headquarters. She had identified the dental fittings gathered in a cigar box as belonging to Adolf Hitler. This was confirmed by the dental technician, Fritz Echtmann, who had made the fittings for Hitler on order of Dr. Blaschke.
Once they had made the identifications, both were shipped off to Moscow, remaining there in prison so that they could not communicate with others for several years. They were classified by the Russians as among the Chancellery group who had survived the Bunker; they would spend years in Russian prisons and slave camps until the Kremlin leaders decided how to handle their public announcement of Hitler’s death—suicide in the Bunker, or escape to Spain and South America, as Stalin first believed.
In Bormann’s case, the problem was more complex, more challenging. Yet under Müller’s skillful guidance, two bodies were planted; their discovery was made possible when an SS man, acting on Müller’s orders, leaked the information to a "Stern" magazine editor as part of a ploy to “prove” that Bormann had died in the Berlin freight yard. The stand-ins for Bormann were two unfortunates from Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen, who had been killed gently in the Gestapo basement secret chambers with cyanide spray blown from a cigarette lighter (a killing device used later by the KGB in 1957 and 1959 against Lev Rebet and Stephen Bandera, two leaders of the Ukrainian ÎmigrÎs in Munich). At Gestapo headquarters, the night of 30 April, the bodies were taken by a special SS team to the freight yards near the Weidendamm Bridge and buried not too deep beneath rubble in two different areas. The Gestapo squad then made a hurried retreat from Berlin, joining their leader, SS Senior General Heinrich Müller, in Flensburg.
The funeral and burial caper was to be a Müller trademark throughout the years of searching for Martin Bormann. The Mossad was to point out that they have been witnesses over the years to the exhumation of six skeletons, two in Berlin and four in South America, purported to be that of Martin Bormann. All turned out to be those of others, although in Frankfurt in 1973 the dental technician, Fritz Echtmann, after years as a Russian prisoner, was to say that the dental work found in the skull of the skeleton declared to be the remains of Bormann resembled those fillings he had worked on in 1944. Simon Wiesenthal, director of the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, had been invited to Frankfurt by West German authorities who were presenting the press event, with the CIA in the background. He said that, while the skull resembled Bormann’s, he doubted it was Bormann. Still, Heinrich Müller had done his job well, and from South America he pointed the Bonn government’s investigators through intermediaries toward this second planted Bormann skeleton. So my sources state; the fabrications of 1945 continue to provide the party minister with his “passport to freedom".
-- "Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile" by Paul Manning
Another disputed on the grounds that according to a Soviet source the Russians had, upon receiving instructions from Moscow, unearthed Bormann from his Berlin grave and reburied him elsewhere in East Germany in an unmarked grave. Both of these reasons seem to be speculated and generally unfounded. The remains were also often jeered at because they were found by a group of ditch diggers. The reason behind this was that the German authorities would not have appreciated the entire area of the speculated grave excavated.
The stories about Martin Bormann’s survival are plentiful and in many cases are quite incredible. In 1961, Dr. Fritz Bauer, a well-known prosecutor of Nazi War Criminals, declared that he was convinced that Bormann was still alive. A flurry of stories about Martin Bormann’s location came into the limelight. A man claimed that he saw Bormann inside a tank in Berlin, not beside, and another stated that he knew exactly where in Argentina that Bormann was living. Another claimed that Bormann had been corresponding with his wife who lived in Italy after the war. These stories turned out not only to be unfounded but the absolute truth is still unknown. Many more stories also surfaced. Paul Manning wrote a book about the post-war life of Bormann. He explained that Bormann had escaped to Spain via the Salzburg airport. The bishop of Munich confirmed this story. Manning went on to explain that this living Bormann had been "largely responsible for West Germany’s post-war economic recovery". This story, which it ultimately must be called, becomes even more ridiculous when the author begins to speak of the harassment that he received from Martin Bormann’s own private Gestapo. His proof mainly seems to be a photocopy of Bormann’s Argentinean bank account, which seems rather unsubstantial. Unfortunately, von Lang manages to almost nullify this proof with his discovery that the Argentinean Secret Service was bribed for the mere sum of fifty American dollars.
. . . [an FBI] file revealed that he [Martin Bormann] had been banking under his own name from his office in Germany in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, and on 4, 5 and 14 August 1967, had written checks on demand accounts in first National City Bank [Overseas Division] of New York, The Chase Manhattan Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires. . . .
-- "Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile" by Paul Manning
Another book tells of the theory that Bormann escaped Germany with the help of a submarine. (Coincidentally, some sources do say that Bormann was aboard a submarine sunk by the British. Perhaps this helps prove this theory). He managed to arrive in Chile and then moved to Argentina and survived with the help of President Peron. Ladislas Farago then explains to the reader how Richter (who replaced Joachim Bauer in searching for Bormann) regarded Farago’s information as " vague... [and] proved useless in our investigation". The author seems to have discredited himself.
The Soviet KGB assigned a Major L. Besymenski to investigate Martin Bormann. After two years of painstaking research, his report entitled "On the Trail of Martin Bormann" concluded that Bormann had made a successful escape to South America. This report was written during the Cold War, where, according to many sources, that both sides saw fit to implicate the other in the disappearance of Martin Bormann. Obviously it would be good propaganda to accuse the other side of helping the evil Nazi Empire. Although many more books have been written on the fantastic adventures of Martin Bormann, after his escape from Berlin, than on his death on that night in May of 1945 the books that depict him surviving seem to be highly fictional. Each one is based upon a conspiracy and circumstantial evidence. The remains that were found in West Germany were, on the other hand, identified to be those of Martin Bormann. Since Bormann was not officially declared to be dead by a West German court but only by a press conference, the remains cannot be known to be one hundred percent truth. The fate of Martin Bormann will most likely never be completely solved but the mystery surrounding his disappearance has intrigued a great many.
The legend has been kept alive by Nazi-hunters who want to bring guilty parties to justice which is legitimate. Those who witnessed the evils of the Nazi Party cannot be free of this immorality until everyone involved has been punished.
Bormann, Martin. The Bormann Letters. Ed. H. R. Trevor-Roper. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1954.
Farago, Ladislas. Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974.
Manning, Paul. Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. Secaucus: Lyle Stuart Inc., 1981.
McGovern, James. Martin Bormann. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1968.
Stevenson, William. The Bormann Brotherhood. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1973.
Telford, Taylor. The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
Von Lang, Jochen. Bormann: The Man Who Manipulated Hitler. Translated by Chista Armstrong and Peter White. New York: Random House, 1979.
Hitler aide Bormann "escaped to Latin America"
6 February 2011
BRUSSELS — Top Nazi Martin Bormann, who German authorities say died in 1945, escaped Berlin and lived in Latin America disguised as a priest, a former Belgian collaborator said in an interview published Saturday.
Paul van Aerschodt, 88, who was sentenced to death in Belgium in 1946 but broke out of prison before his execution and now lives in Spain, told the "Derniere Heure" newspaper he had met Bormann four times in La Paz, Bolivia, around 1960.
“Bormann had come from Paraguay and was plotting with some 20 officers a coup to overthrow (dictator Juan) Peron in Argentina,” van Aerschodt said.
He claimed Bormann, who called himself Augustin von Lembach, passed himself off as a priest and celebrated masses, weddings and funerals and administered the last rites to the dying.
“But he remained a fanatic,” van Aerschodt said, adding that he had made the choice not to give Bormann away but did not know what became of him.
He said Bormann had found refuge in Bolivia in 1947 after another priest helped him to obtain a visa.
Van Aerschodt said Bormann had visited a restaurant the Belgian ran in La Paz, as had former Lyon Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, who was extradited to France in 1983 for trial and jailed.
Bormann, who was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s private secretary and one of the most powerful figures in the Third Reich, left Hitler’s Bunker as Russian forces approached.
He reportedly died not far away, but was tried at Nuremberg in his absence and sentenced to death, while Nazi-hunters continued to look for him, particularly in Latin America.
However remains found in Berlin in 1972 were identified as Bormann’s and he was officially declared dead by German authorities.
The identification was confirmed by DNA in 1998 but some skeptics believe the remains had been brought from elsewhere to be reburied in Berlin.
Van Aerschodt escaped from a Belgian prison in 1945 and fled to Spain where he was detained for a while but was helped by a priest to reach Bolivia and lived there till 1964.
He returned to Spain and worked for the United Nations for several years. He now lives in San Sebastian under the name of Pablo Simons and frequently visits Belgium, where his death sentence was invalidated in 1976 when Brussels abandoned the penalty.
"Martin Bormann is dead ..."
-- Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffeur, 20 June 1945.
"Martin Bormann is still alive . . ."
-- Dr. Gregorio Topolevsky, former Argentine ambassador to Israel, 9 May 1961.
Between these two contradictory statements stretch sixteen years and the most intensive manhunt in history. The hunt still goes on. The hunters believe it will end with the capture of Martin Bormann, Hitler's deputy and the world's most wanted war criminal. The intelligence services of the United States, Britain, West Germany, Israel, Sweden and Argentina have documented evidence that Bormann escaped from Berlin after Adolf Hitler's death and fled to South America, where he organized a global network of Nazi cells. His sinister hand has been seen in several plots to restore Hitler's henchmen to power. So far as the general public and most students of the Hitler era are concerned, however, Bormann's fate is an unsolved mystery that began in burning, shell-shocked Berlin the night of 1 May 1945. Hitler had killed himself the preceding day. His gasoline-soaked corpse was cremated, as were the bodies of Eva Braun, his long-time mistress and short-time bride; Dr. Paul Josef Göbbels, his club-footed Propaganda Minister; Frau Göbbels and the six Göbbels children. As darkness fell on May Day, the underground Bunker behind the Chancellery was set afire. Flames from the Bunker and nearby buildings made a giant funeral pyre for the Teutonic gods of the Third Reich. The Russians were only a block away, at the east end of the Tiergarten. About 500 Nazi Party and S.S. Elite Guard officers milled about in Wilhelmstrasse outside the Reichschancellery. Many of them stayed there until midnight, waiting for orders that never came.
Martin Bormann, a pudgy, bull-necked figure in the black uniform of an S.S. general, left the Chancellery around two A.M. on 2 May. With him were Erich Kempka, Hitler's long- time chauffeur, and Dr. Werner Naumann, State Secretary to the Propaganda Ministry and Göbbels' successor. They crossed the street and entered the deserted Wilhelmplatz subway station. By the flickering light of pocket torches, they walked along the U-Bahn tracks to the railroad yard behind the Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof. From there, they planned to cross the River Spree and sneak through Russian outposts. Somewhere along this route, they were joined by one-armed Artur Axmann, Hitler Youth leader. He had deserted a "suicide squad" of teen-age boys and girls at Pichelsdorf Bridge, exhorting them to remain at their posts and fight to the end. Kempka's version of the Berlin flight was related to U.S. Army intelligence officers about two months later when he was picked up at Hintersee, in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden.
He said Bormann and Naumann made their way from the Chancellery to the Friedrichstrasse Station without incident, then stopped near the station to discuss how to get away from the Russians. "Others joined them behind a large German tank and some armored vehicles," Kempka said, "They walked alongside the armored column as it moved toward the Russian lines. The column, preceded by men on foot, passed through a tank trap and had gotten fifty yards or so past it when the tank was hit by a bazooka shell. I was about three or four yards behind the tank. Bormann and Naumann were directly beside it. The shell smashed into them and I saw their bodies hurled away. They could not have survived".
Kempka repeated this story at the Nuremberg war crimes trials and many investigators accepted it—until Naumann turned up alive and well in Germany a few years later. In the confusion surrounding Naumann's "resurrection," nobody thought to ask him about Bormann.
Artur Axmann also escaped to Bavaria. When captured by American troops, he gave a different account of Bormann's fate. He said he saw the Deputy Führer lying dead in the railroad yard near Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof. There were no wounds or other visible marks on the body, he added. His theory was that Bormann took poison because he realized he could not escape. Noting that Bormann's companions had no trouble getting away, investigators dismissed the Axmann account as an obvious lie. But Kempka's version was published in several histories of the Third Reich and remains there despite Naumann's reappearance and other evidence that it too was a fabrication.
Both Kempka and Axmann later told a German court at Berchtesgaden that Bormann was killed trying to break out of besieged Berlin. Presumably, they had straightened out the discrepancies in their stories by this time, for the court declared Bormann officially dead. The only trouble was that he refused to remain buried. What really happened to Martin Bormann?
Hunt for Hitler's Deputy
Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate [NSW
28 November 1945
LONDON - American Intelligence officers are following a new train which may definitely establish whether Martin Bormann, Hitler's Deputy and the only top-ranking Nazi not yet captured, is alive, says a "Daily Mail'' correspondent in Munich.
"The Americans", he says, "are looking for a Nazi named Heinrich Glasmeier, former head of the southern German radio network, hoping that if they find him they will also discover Bormnann".
"The story is that a day or two after Bormann supposedly helped to burn the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun in Berlin Glasmeier was seen driving furiously from Linz [ (capital of Upper Austria] in Bormann's car, with Bormann's chauffeur," the correspondent says, "There is a strong possibility that Bormann was also inside the car because he could have reached Linz, which is 300 miles from Berlin after the last hours in the air-raid shelter in Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin.
"British Intelligence officers know that Bormann, after Hitler's supposed death, led a mass escape front the shelter. He was seen walking along Friedrichstrasse, alongside a tank which was hit by a Russian shell. Bormann was reported to have been wounded, and witnesses of the incident, who were themselves, wounded and dazed, say thev saw Bormann lying as though he were dead.
"However, the fact that Glasmeier, in Bormann's car, was seen escaping from the former Convent of St. Florian, which had been transformed into a luxurious retreat for Nazi leaders, and which was a natural place for which Bormnann would make, has revived hopes of his arrest".
To get the answer to this question, war crimes investigators traveled thousands of miles, questioned hundreds of witnesses and compiled thousands of pages of secret evidence. This is the consensus of their findings: Bormann, Naumann, Axmann and Kempka fled from Berlin together. They crossed through the weakest spot in the Soviet lines, commandeered a German staff car outside the city and drove over back roads to Hamburg, in the British occupation zone. From there, they made their way south to Bavaria. The Bavarian and Austrian Alps had been chosen months before as the best spot for a last-ditch stand against the Allied armies. When the Third Reich fell, Adolf Eichmann and his exterminators headed for Alt-Aussee in the Salzkammergut while Bormann and his cohorts gathered a few miles away on the German side of the border. This would account for Kempka's presence near Berchtesgaden, scenic site of Hitler's "Eagle's Nest."
Bormann also had a mountain retreat on the Obersalzburg a short distance from Berchtesgaden. He called it 'Halali', the German term for the hunting call "tallyho". Unlike the Berchtesgaden fortress, Halali had received no publicity and few outside Bormann's inner circle knew of its existence. Among those who did were Major General Otto Ohlendorf, the intellectual killer who butchered 90,000 Jews in the year he commanded one of Hitler's extermination squads, and Hartman Lauterbacher, Gauleiter or chief political officer of Southern Hanover. Before he was hanged for war crimes, Ohlendorf stated flatly that Bormann had escaped from Berlin. He suggested investigators question Lauterbacher for further details.
Official British records of the Lauterbacher investigation quote him as saying:
"I saw Bormann in the Reichschancellery in Berlin on 11 April 1945. I had gone to Berlin for orders, as most of Hannover had been overrun by American forces. Bormann was very busy. He paid hardly any attention to me, only repeating such remarks as 'Carry on the fighting; keep the people up to scratch; the war will be finally won even if it occurs in a manner previously unforseen'. Bormann telephoned frequently on outside lines and had many visitors. The Russians had reached the Oder River and Bormann spent much time giving details of the Oder defenses from maps to civilians who were unknown to me. The civilians—perhaps they were S.S. officers in civilian clothes—seemed to be in Bormann's confidence. He told us all many times that 'in a certain circumstance we will meet in Halali'.
Lauterbacher claimed he did not know where Halali was, however. Acquitted of war crimes in 1945, he was later re-arrested as a member of the Nazi Party, an organization declared illegal by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. But before he could be brought to trial a second time, he escaped from a British detention camp outside Hamburg with the help of the Nazi underground. Presumably, he went to keep the rendezvous at Halali—or some other Nazi nest.
Meanwhile, the hunt for Bormann had developed several promising leads. By the summer of 1945, Allied intelligence officers received reports that Bormann—who held the ranks of Lieutenant-General, Reichsminister and Chief of the Party Chancellery in addition to Deputy Führer—had acquired a new title: Commander-in-chief of Germany's underground army. This guerilla force was divided into three main units—the Werewolves, which Bormann and Heinrich Himmler had organized, over the opposition of the German General Staff, to fight behind enemy lines; the Volkssturm, or people's militia, called up in the final weeks of the war with Bormann at its head; and Axmann's fanatic youth corps.
Allied forces soon pulled the Werewolves' fangs and the Volkssturm disbanded without a fight. American commanders then organized "Operation Nursery" to drive the youth packs out of the Black Forest and the Bavarian mountains. Hundreds of young Nazis were rounded up, along with their chief, Axmann. Those that escaped the American dragnet retreated to the snow-capped slopes along the German-Austrian frontier and helped form a new guerilla band known as the Edelweiss Pirates. Bormann was thoroughly familiar with this wild and beautiful region. He had roamed its forests as a boy and returned as a young man to make romantic conquests in most of the mountain villages.
His chunky, muscular physique and his insatiable sexual appetite prompted the girls of the Obersalzburg to call him "The Bull"—a nickname that stuck throughout his career. Though his many enemies in Berlin referred to him as "The Brown Eminence" and "Hitler's Devil," to the old guard from Bavaria he remained Bormann the Bull. It was Bormann who introduced Hitler to the spectacular scenery of Berchtesgaden and to the blonde, blue-eyed local girl who became the Führer's partner in life and death. And so it was only natural that Bormann should return to his Alpine haunts after his master's suicide. No one knew the mountains better. No one would be safer there. He hid in the hills for four months. Then he apparently decided to risk a visit to another old hangout, Munich, the Bavarian capital. He was seen there in October, 1945, by J.A. Friedl, former Nazi and former top sergeant of Munich police. Friedl, who had known Bormann since the early days of the Nazi Party, later made a sworn statement to U.S. Army and Bavarian authorities. "I saw Martin Bormann with some other men in a car parked in front of the Spanish Consulate," he said. "I approached the car and greeted Bormann. He remembered me and we chatted together for a few minutes. From what I saw and heard, I gathered that Bormann was trying to arrange a visa to enter Spain."
Nine months after this incident, Bormann again was reported in Munich - this time by his former chauffeur. Jakob Glas, a long-time Munich resident, was Bormann's personal driver for several years until he was fired in 1944 during an argument over the theft of some vegetables from his employer's garden. On 26 July 1946, Glas was standing on a Munich street corner. Glancing into a passing auto, he saw his old boss riding in the front seat next to the driver. "I know Bormann and the man I saw was Bormann," he stated positively to U.S. Intelligence officers a few days later. "I am absolutely certain. The auto was moving slowly and I got a good look at him. He was dressed in ordinary, rather shabby civilian clothes. There were some other men with him, but I didn't get a close look at them. I was too busy staring after Bormann".
Between the two Munich appearances, there were other indications that Bormann was still active in Bavaria. Dr. Wilhelm Högner, first postwar Minister-President of Bavaria, announced in April, 1946, that Bormann was directing a guerilla force of 40,000 S.S. men and Hitler Youth members from his mountain stronghold in southern Bavaria. An anti-Nazi who fled to Switzerland during the war, Dr. Högner disclosed a list of 400 German officials marked for assassination by Bormann's Edelweiss Pirates. He and two other Minister-Presidents headed the list, discovered when Munich police raided the homes of several suspected members of the Nazi underground. Other documents found in the raids named Bormann and Naumann as leaders of the underground operation. The papers indicated Bormann and other high-ranking Nazis were hiding in the forests of the Obersalzburg. American soldiers and Bavarian police went into the mountains and located a stone hunting lodge which may have been Halali. The lodge bore signs of recent occupancy. Embers still glowed in the fireplace. Food was on the kitchen table. And charred scraps of paper indicated the hunted hunters had disposed of all incriminating records before they departed.
Though Bormann was not there to greet them, the searchers found a consolation prize—$5 million in gold coins hidden under the wooden floor. An official U.S. Army Intelligence report on the gold cache states that it was "assigned by Bormann to finance Nazi underground resistance". The lodge also contained shortwave radio equipment and an arsenal of small arms.
In July, after Bormann was reported seen in Munich, American forces made an all-out effort to smash his Alpine army. Heavily-armed patrols combed the mountains and rounded up hundreds of hungry, disillusioned guerillas. Many of the Edelweiss Pirates were willing, even eager, to talk about their exploits. They said Bormann had directed their operations by radio from his forest hideout. The busy Bull also had been in touch with other Nazi cells scattered throughout Europe from Spain to Sweden. One of the most active of these underground groups was the Swedish fascist movement, with headquarters in Malmoe. When the Third Reich collapsed, many Nazis fled to neutral Sweden from Norway, Denmark and northern Germany. A number of Norwegian "Quislings" also were harbored by Swedish sympathizers. From Malmoe, long a hotbed of Nazi activities, the fugitives caught ships for South America and other friendly climes. Swedish security police infiltrated the Malmoe underground early in 1946. After months of cloak-and-dagger investigation, they obtained evidence that the group received regular orders from Bormann, via courier. Among the documents they collected were a coded list of Nazi war criminals whose flights from justice were arranged in Malmoe, and Bormann's five-year plan for a Nazi comeback. With typical Nazi arrogance, Hitler's Shadow predicted that his underground would be back in power within 10 years and that its first move in the open would be made in 1950.
Word of the Malmoe investigation eventually reached the Swedish press. Though the security agents' reports were classified "top secret," newsmen managed to learn part of their explosive contents. On 11 December 1946, two Stockholm newspapers—"Arbetet" and "Aftontidningen"—announced that Bormann was in South America. In Germany, where the No. 2 Nazi had been tried and sentenced to death in absentia for crimes against race and humanity, U.S. and British intelligence services also received word that Bormann had skipped to the Argentine. According to their informants, Bormann left Bavaria in the summer of 1946, went to Switzerland to get travel funds from a secret Nazi bank account, then traveled to southern Spain where a submarine was waiting to take him to Argentina. His destination was said to be Patagonia. It was the logical place for him to light, for the Patagonian pampas were crawlng with German refugees, many of them war criminals and several only slightly less important than the Deputy Führer himself.
The Asociacion de Mayo, an Argentine refugee group in Uruguay, claimed Bormann arrived off the Argentine coast aboard the German submarine U-435 and came ashore near Rawson, a Patagonian port about midway between Buenos Aires and Tierra del Fuego. The U-435 then was sunk by members of its crew. This report was never verified, but Intelligence agents learned that at least three German U-Boats landed passengers on the southern Argentine coast between June, 1945, and October, 1946. High-ranking Nazis were aboard all of the subs. Spruille Braden, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina at the end of World War II, sent an Intelligence unit to Patagonia to investigate the U-Boat landings. The American agents were intercepted near Rawson by German-speaking gunmen who ordered them out of the region. Braden protested to the Argentine government. After considerable delay, police accompanied U.S. agents to the areas where U-Boats had been seen. They interviewed many natives who had seen the landings and many Germans who claimed to be refugees from the Hitler regime. But no major war criminals were found. The big ones again got away.
German submarine U-435 was a Type VIIC U-Boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 11 April 1940 by F Schichau GmbH in Danzig as yard number 1477, launched on 31 May 1941 and commissioned on 30 August 1941 under Korvettenkapitän Siegfried Strelow.
The boat's service began on 30 August 1941 with training as part of the 5th U-Boat Flotilla. She was transferred to the 1st Flotilla on 1 January 1942 for active service and then to the 11th Flotilla on 1 July 1942. She returned to the 1st flotilla on 1 February 1943.
In eight patrols she sank 13 ships for a total of 53,712 GRT, plus three warships and one auxiliary warship.
She was depth charged and sunk by on 9 July 1943 at position 39°48′N 14°22′W west of Figueira, Portugal by a RAF Wellington bomber from 179 Squadron.
Bormann and his staff reportedly had gone inland to lose themselves in the vast grass lands where an army could never find them. Convinced Hitler's Deputy was still alive, the U.S. State Department in 1947 distributed his photograph and description to American embassies, consulates and missions all over the world. American officials in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Peru in particular were alerted to be on the lookout for the elusive master criminal. At various times in the next few years, Bormann was reported living on a ranch in Patagonia, in a mining town in the Andes mountains and in the jungles of Brazil. His exact whereabouts from 1946 to 1950 have not been determined, but he popped up in Buenos Aires in 1950 and was seen there by several reliable witnesses who knew him in Germany. American agents knew he was there, but there was nothing they could do about it. Dictator Peron took good care of his Nazi pals, put them on the public payroll and protected them from war crimes investigators. He took especially good care of Martin Bormann, for the Bull had helped Peron overthrow the previous Argentine government.
Bormann was allowed to come and go as he pleased. When foreign governments made inquiries, Peron and his police officials simply denied any knowledge of Bormann's presence in their country. But several persons swore Bormann was living a life of luxury in a Buenos Aires suburb, where he owned an air-conditioned villa and employed a retinue of former S.S. men, including members of Hitler's personal bodyguard. He reportedly patronized the city's most elaborate bordellos and cabarets. From time to time, he was seen with attractive young women described as his mistresses. His wife, Gerda, who bore him ten children in twelve years, had died in Germany a few years after the war. According to reliable informants, Bormann's favorite Buenos Aires hangouts, outside the bordellos, were the smart Cabana restaurant and the ABC German restaurant on Lavalle Street, both in the heart of the city. These witnesses say Bormann habitually wore a black glove to disguise a false right hand. Investigators believe he was wounded while fleeing Berlin, perhaps by the Russian shell described so vividly by Erich Kempka, and subsequently had his right hand or arm amputated. Also missing is a small forehead scar Bormann acquired about thirty years ago as one of Hitler's brown-shirted street brawlers. The scar reportedly was removed by plastic surgery, but most of his other facial features remained unaltered. During his years in Buenos Aires, Bormann bossed Nazi underground activities from "Die Spinne" headquarters in Avenida Martin Haedo. He was seen there with Johannes von Leers, the Nazi propagandist, and other high-ranking Hitler henchmen.
When Peron was deposed in 1955, Bormann and his entourage left Argentina for a time. In 1957, the mayor of a West German city reported he met Bormann in a Brazilian jungle while he was hunting there. A South American mining engineer told of meeting three heavily-armed Germans at an Indian village in the Brazilian wilds, near a small airstrip used to deliver medical supplies to the natives. "From newspaper photographs, I recognized one of the Germans as Martin Bormann," the engineer said later. "He wore a Luger pistol and had a black glove on his right hand. The men with him carried machetes, rifles and pistols. Bormann introduced himself as a German businessman who was on a hunting expedition. We chatted for several minutes in Spanish and he seemed friendly enough. Apparently he didn't think I would recognize him. His bodyguards stayed close to him and said nothing".
Still another report stated the most wanted Nazi was living on a plantation near the town of Obera in Misiones Province, Brazil. When the political climate cooled in Argentina, Bormann moved back to Buenos Aires. But he returned to Brazil in a hurry when his old pal Adolf Eichmann suddenly disappeared. On 30 May 1960, one week after Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion informed the world of Eichmann's capture, a warrant for Bormann's arrest was issued to Brazilian federal police. He was reported hiding in the southern state of Santa Catarina, where many German refugees reside. Police searched for him there, without success. No house-to-house canvass was made. He could have been lying low in any one of a thousand German homes. The Santa Catarina tip was supplied by extremely reliable informants. Investigators are positive this information was correct. Four months later, Argentine police picked up a one-armed German whose resemblance to Bormann was nothing short of remarkable. He said he was Walter Flegel and that he lost his right arm in the war. Flegel's wife, who met and married him in Argentina after the war, was shown a photograph of Bormann. She agreed it looked exactly like her husband. The suspect was detained for a week, then released. Interior Minister Alfredo Vitolo announced that police had established he was not Bormann. This was proved, Senor Vitolo said, by the fact that Flegel was two inches taller than Bormann's measurements. However, no witnesses who knew Bormann were asked to view the suspect. And no Israeli or West German agents were allowed to question him.
"The Argentine police have no evidence that Bormann is not dead," Senor Vitolo added. This statement later was disputed by Dr. Gregorio Topolevsky, Argentina's former ambassador to Israel. He told reporters in Tel Aviv that Bormann had been living under an alias in Argentina and that his presence there was known to Argentine police. He said Bormann fled to Brazil in May, 1960, after the Eichmann kidnaping. The diplomat added that there were several Nazi cells in Argentina, mainly in the south, and that they had transferred huge sums of money from Switzerland. Other sources gave this description of the elusive Nazi chief:
"He was born in 1900 but, despite the years of ducking and running, be looks no older than 50 or 55. He is beefy and bald, except for a fringe of gray-brown hair at the sides and back of his head. His face is round and virtually unlined. Its habitual expression is one of placid smugness. He seldom smiles. He has a fleshy, slightly prominent nose and hard, alert brown eyes. In profile, he seems to have a slightly receding chin but this is not apparent from the front. In the old days, his erect military bearing made him appear taller than his five feet eight inches. Now his middle-aged paunch makes him seem short and deceptively soft. The Bull is still tough, muscular and amorous. He takes strenuous daily exercises to keep him in shape for his night-time sports. He is a moderate-to-heavy drinker, but seldom shows any effects from alcohol. Some of his postwar mistresses have been located and questioned. None of them could supply any important information. None of them really knew anything about him. But by pursuing the old French line of inquiry—'Cherchez la femme'—the hunters eventually hope to find the right women to lead them straight to The Bull's lair. He has one other hobby—jazz records. He never travels without suitcases full of recordings, mostly by American swing and Dixieland orchestras. Says one investigator: 'If Louis Armstrong tours South America, we may find Bormann in one of his audiences'. A master of intrigue and double-cross, Bormann served a brief prison term for a political murder before the Nazis took over in Germany and he became a member of Hitler's inner circle. Eventually, he betrayed almost every top-ranking official of the Reich cabinet except the equally sinister Dr. Josef Göbbels and Heinrich Müller, chief of the Gestapo.
"Rudolf Hess, Hitler's private secretary and Deputy, made Bormann his assistant. And The Bull repaid him by going after his job. In 1941, Bormann persuaded the psychotic Hess that Hitler wanted peace with England. He talked Hess into the mad scheme of flying to Britain to negotiate a truce. In May, 1941, Hess took off for Scotland in a Messerschmitt 110 fighter plane, convinced it was his destiny to bring Germany and England together. Bormann immediately stepped into his shoes as Deputy party leader and head of the Reichschancellery. Bormann later offered this explanation of the Hess flight in a secret letter to Heinrich Himmler: 'Hess was depressed over impotence, which a treatment failed to cure. He wanted to prove that despite this he was a real man, and he thought of aviation as the most daring thing he could do. By his flight, he wanted to prove his manhood to himself, his wife, the party and the German people'.
"Several of Bormann's relatives have been located and questioned. They were unable or unwilling to shed any light on his where-abouts".
But the hunters are far from discouraged. They feel the end of their long search is very near. One of the few admissions made by Adolf Eichmann was that Bormann is still alive. This was disclosed, according to an Amsterdam newspaper, by Tuvia Friedmann, chief of the Israel documentation on Nazi crimes and the man most responsible for Eichmann's capture. Friedmann is now trying to catch Bormann. Dr. Fritz Bauer, district attorney for the West German state of Hesse and prosecutor of several high-ranking Nazis, also is compiling evidence that may lead to Bormann's arrest. Dr. Bauer is convinced Bormann is directing the Nazi underground from South America. One of the Israeli agents who kidnapped Eichmann returned to Argentina recently to help tighten the dragnet around Bormann. "We have known since 1952 that Martin Bormann is alive," he says. "When the right moment comes, we will strike hard".
-- Paul Meskil, "Hitler's Heirs: Where are They Now?" 1961
Mystery still surrounds Hitler's Deputy's Death
"Films and gramophone records, music, books and buildings show clearly how vigorously a man's life and work go on after his death, whether we feel it or not, whether we are aware of the individual names or not. There is no such thing as death according to our view!"
-- Martin Bormann
A recent report reveals that Adolf Hitler's second-in-command, Martin Bormann's demise is still shrouded in shadows despite extensive efforts by the UK to find the politician.
Bormann, Nazi Germany's second-in-command, disappeared after the fall of the Third Reich, Germany's ruling system between 1933 until 1945, and could not be identified even after decades after the collapse of Germany's dictatorship.
Recent documents from the British National Archives demonstrate that the German leader's Deputy escaped his death sentence meted out to him in absentia in the course of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal a year after the World War II.
The British intelligence service has-long sought to capture Hitler's right-hand man who is accused of facilitating the Holocaust the National Archives files add.
Bormann's capture was crucial for the British as they wanted to establish a link between Adolf Hitler and Germany's then secret police commander Heinrich Himmler who committed suicide, dashing hopes for interrogation by the Allied forces.
His possible detention could also provide information, which would lead the authorities to other senior Nazi directors who escaped unidentified, the account concludes.
Bormann spent long hours' in Hitler's company, writing down the "reclusive" leader's ideas on various issues.
Remains of a body, found in Berlin in 1972, were officially attributed to the politician in 1973 following a number of examinations. However, many still claim that Bormann was never found.
1 September 2009
International Journal of Legal Medicine
February 2001, Volume 114, Issue 3
Identification of the skeletal remains of Martin Bormann by mtDNA analysis
K. Anslinger, G. Weichhold, W. Keil, B. Bayer, W. Eisenmenger
Contrary to statements of an eye-witness who reported that Martin Bormann, the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, died on 2 May 1945 in Berlin, rumours persisted over the years that he had escaped from Germany after World War II. In 1972, skeletal remains were found during construction work, and by investigating the teeth and the bones experts concluded that they were from Bormann. Nevertheless, new rumours arose and in order to end this speculation we were commissioned to identify the skeletal remains by mitochondrial DNA analysis. The comparison of the sequence of HV1 and HV2 from the skeletal remains and a living maternal relative of Martin Bormann revealed no differences and this sequence was not found in 1500 Caucasoid reference sequences. Based on this investigation, we support the hypothesis that the skeletal remains are those of Martin Bormann.
The "Diario Illustrado" of Santiago, Chile, 18 January1948 issue, stated:
"On 30 April, 1945, Berlin was in dissolution but little of that dissolution was evident at Tempelhof Airfield. At 4:15 p.m. a JU52 landed and S.S. troops directly from Rechlin for the defense of Berlin disembarked, all of them young, not older than 18 years.
"The gunner in the particular plane was an engineer by the name of B... whom I had known for a number of years and for whom I had endeavored to get exemption from military service. He sought to tank up and leave Berlin as quickly as possible. During this re-fueling interval Mr. B... was suddenly elbowed in the ribs by his radio operator with a nod to look in a certain direction.
"At about 100-120 meters he saw a sleek Messerschmitt Jet Model 332 [an editorial comment says this should be an Arado 234]. Mr. B.. and the radio operator saw, and without any doubt whatsoever, standing in front of the jet, their Commander in Chief, Adolf Hitler, dressed in field-grey uniform and gesticulating animatedly with some Party functionaries, who were obviously seeing him off.
"For about ten minutes whilst their plane was being refueled the two men observed this scene and around 4:30 p.m. they took to the air again. They were extremely astonished to hear during the midnight military news bulletin, some seven and a half hours later, that Hitler had committed suicide".
An editorial in "Zig Zag", Santiago, Chile, 16 January 1948, states that on 30 April 1945, Flight Captain Peter Baumgart took Adolf Hitler, his wife Eva Braun, as well as a few loyal friends by plane from Tempelhof Airport to Tondern in Denmark [still German controlled]. From Tondern, they took another plane to Kristiansund in Norway [also German controlled]. From there they joined a Submarine convoy.
Until shortly before the fall of Berlin, up to 40 aircraft were on constant standby at Berlin Gatow for the evacuation of Hitler and his entourage. These aircraft were: More than 13 Fw 200s, three Ju 290s, some He 111s, a large number of Ju 52s and "a few small machines". The "few small machines" may have included one or two helicopters. Although Germany had at least 30 helicopters operational at that time, nothing is known of their activities and none of the usual sources ever mention them.
According to James Corsi, author "Hunting Hitler", various documents suggest that Hitler's escape from Germany may have involved fleeing in a helicopter to Austria, then flying to Barcelona, and eventually arriving in Argentina via a German submarine. After he arrived, he lived in some luxury for the next 20 years, until he died in 1965.
A Fa 233 transport helicopter flew a secret operation on Hitler's order from Berlin to Danzig between 26 February and 5 March 1945, returning to Werder near Berlin on 11 March 1945 after a flight of 1,675 kms.
Source: The German Light Cruisers of WWII, Greenhill Books, 2002
The purpose of this flight is unknown but might have been a trial to test the aircraft's endurance.
Berlin-Danzig is the same distance as Berlin-German held northern Denmark and it was only one refuelling stop from there to Bodo in Norway, which the Third Reich controlled until the end.
The Ju 390, was a scaled-up Ju 290 (long-range maritime reconnaissance bomber); it had six BMW 801D engines. Two prototypes were built in 1943 and in early 1944 - one flew from Mont-de-Marsan in France to within 20 km of the US coast near New York.
The second prototype was attached to KG 200. There is some documentary evidence that this machine loaded at Schweidnitz in early April 1945, and according to declassified SS documentary material was last seen in false Swedish livery under tarpaulin wraps and heavy guard at Bodo airfield, Norway that same month.
Suddenly in early May it was no longer there, and nobody knows what happened to it.
Declassified Argentine intelligence documents state that in May 1945, a six-engined German transport aircraft from Europe landed on a large German ranch in Paysandu province, Uruguay with passengers and equipment, this ranch being near Puntas de Gualeguay about 70 kms out on the road from Paysandu town to Tacuarembo. The mile-wide River Uruguay separates Uruguay from Argentina. On the other bank from Paysandu is Entre Rios province, mostly marsh and wild pasture and a hotbed of German settlers. To transport passengers from Paysandu into and across Argentina was not an enormous undertaking.
After a long flight from Europe over the sea, Uruguay is the first neutral country on the South American landmass. It has many German settlers in the country; they tend to live in German villages and many of these settlers own large tracts of land.
Uruguay was neutral in the Second World War, Argentina was "at war with Germany" from March 1945. The only shots fired in anger between the two of them were the eight depth charges dropped on U-977 in the Gulf of San Matias on 18 July 1945.
Certain sections of the police and armed forces in Argentina had been "bought" with Reich gold but it was by no means safe to overfly Argentinean airspace and land a large aircraft, whereas what went on in Uruguay interested nobody, least of all the Uruguayans.
According to many sources Uruguay had declared war on Germany and Japan in February 1945 [On 23 February 1945 Uruguay was a signatory to the United Nations Declaration of War on the Axis], but a few state it only broke diplomatic and economic relations.
The total contribution of Uruguay to "the defeat of Hitlerism" to which it was pledged appears to have been nothing and to all intents and purposes the Germans probably considered Uruguay to be utterly harmless.
Some Junkers Ju 290 airframes were civilianised during the war to fly discreet missions to Barcelona. Spain. Some of the last missions there were at the directions of Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz to evacuate records of U-boat movements into hiding before the collapse of Nazi Germany.
Ju-290A-6 was built for the sole purpose of being a transport for Hitler. Original pressurization was abandoned, and the aircraft was completed as a 50 seat transport. This aircraft was flying with KG 200 at Finsterwalde and in the last week of April 1945 flew from Prague to Barcelona with a number of Nazi officers. The pilot was Hauptmann Braun, original commander of LTS 290.
Its passengers may have included SS Lt General Hans Kammler who disappeared from Prague about the same time. Kammler was the head of the V-2 rocket project and other secret technologies. There is also a possibility that the mission was sanctioned by the Operation Paperclip (to recruit Nazi scientists for the USA and Operation Sunrise (the secret surrender of Nazi Germany to US forces.
This aircraft [DB being the only markings] remained in Spain until purchased from a Allied Commission in 1950. After overhaul it was used as a personnel transport by the Spanish airforce based at Salamanca. A minor accident, forced its retirement in the mid 50's.
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler spent a month in Spain before fleeing Europe for South America, according to an Argentine investigator.
Abel Basti, who will soon publish "Destino Patagonia. Cómo Escapó Hitler" – his third book on Nazi movement in Argentina, claims to have found an FBI document, which states Hitler did not commit suicide in his Berlin Bunker.
Instead, he flew to Spain with lover Eva Braun and 13 high-ranking Nazi officials.
“They took off from Berlin and landed in Barcelona on 27 April 1945, via Linz in Austria,” claims the journalist, who is investigating post-World War II Nazi activity in his native Argentina.
The FBI paperwork claims the Nazi leader and his party travelled in a Junkers 290 aircraft, which had the serial number 0163.
In the summer of 1945, Allied forces discovered this plane in the Travemünde airbase, close to the German city of Hamburg.
Using its flight documentation, the military traced the aeroplane’s movements to Spain.
“Hitler used Spain as a ‘trampoline.’ He spent a month in the country before escaping to South America by submarine.
Basti believes that Hitler, Braun and the 13 officers arrived in Argentina, "between July and August 1945. He then moved between the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza and La Rioja".
From the very first day, Stalin had the idea that Hitler could have escaped to Spain [as quoted by Trevor-Roper]. General Berazin said: "my opinion is that Hitler has gone into hiding and is somewhere in Europe, possible with General Franco". Stalin said that he was alive "in hiding... possibly with General Franco". "Pravda" declared in an article entitled "Hitler's Agent, General Franco!" [6 July 1945] that the Fascist regimen in Spain should be destroyed as soon as possible.
Though seemingly the stuff of wild conspiracy theories flying around out there, the idea of the Third Reich surviving the WW 2 defeat is really nothing new. And, in fact, on various levels their continuation is very real. At the very least, it is no secret that the remarkable technological aspect of Nazi Germany was allowed to continue in other countries such as the U.S. and Soviet Union.
For example, we know that many of NASA's founding fathers and leaders of the aerospace industry - such as Wernher von Braun [director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center], Walter Dornberger [vice president of Bell Aircraft Company and Bell Aerosystems Company], Dr. Kurt H. Debus [director of Kennedy Space Center], Richard Gompertz [head of NASA's Chrysler space division] - were former Nazi scientists/officials. Many of these former Nazis were connected to one of Germany's most secret weapons programs, the V-2 rocket. Their contribution to the US space program was such that it would not be an exaggeration to state that without the technological 'gift' from the Reich, the Apollo missions to the Moon, one of the greatest achievement of mankind, would not have been possible. In a sense, interestingly, the intense space race between the US and Soviet Union, which also acquired many Nazi technological secrets at the end of the war, was collectively the continuing legacy of Nazi technology.
It was in 1945 or so that the United States began a top-secret operation to recruit valuable Nazi scientists and specialists. Under this ethically questionable project, code-named 'Overcast' before evolving into 'Paperclip', many hundreds or thousands of those deemed valuable were brought into the United States. Officially, Operation Paperclip was cancelled by September 1947. In actuality, it is reported that the project only hid itself in the ultra-secret 'Deep Black' Realm and continued its recruitment activity until the mid-1950s. The covert activity is understandable when we consider how advanced Nazi technology and scientific ideas were, compared to the rest of the world at the time, many years ahead.
Through this process, "seeds" or "viruses" of the Third Reich were transported to other powerful nations, most notably the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The victorious nations, in a sense, made deals with the devil. And the head of this devil was General Hans Kammler, in charge of all secret high-tech weapons programs of Germany, who cleverly viewed those weapons and specialists as his ticket to freedom. In this light, the unknown fate of Kammler after the war, who mysteriously disappeared and is scarcely mentioned in official documents anywhere including the Nuremberg war crimes [despite being one of the most influential Nazi figures] is certainly suspicious.
Hans Kammler was also in charge of all SS slave labor in the Reich. In Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee Reports, the one or two interviewing Albert Speer, Speer was asked a question about some upcoming weapons system and he said something like: I have no idea. For the answer to that one you will have to ask Dr. Kammler.
In that interrogation of Speer, with all our alleged "techniques of interrogation"; not one single follow-up question was put to Speer about Kammler.
And then there are the stories of the Nazis escaping to Spain, South America [especially Argentina], etc. More speculative, but there were also persistent rumors of Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann running a secret Nazi empire from South America. It is known that near the end of the war, 10 August 1944, Bormann held a meeting in the Hotel Maison Rouge at Strasbourg and told Nazi officials and German business leaders that it was necessary to prepare a postwar strategy to ensure eventual resurgence of Germany. Thus was born 'Operation Eagle Flight'. With the help of major foreign banks and businesses, it successfully created hundreds of front corporations all over the world, enabling the continuation of Nazi activities in the postwar era.
Also, as a part of this scheme, a secret organization called ODESSA [Organization der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, The Organization of former SS members] was created to orchestrate the escape of SS officers from justice.
This group's purpose was to establish and facilitate secret escape routes, called ratlines, out of Germany to South America and the Middle East for hunted members. With alleged ties to Argentina, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the Vatican, ODESSA ostensibly operated out of Buenos Aires and helped Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Erich Priebke, Aribert Heim and many other war criminals find refuge in Latin America and the Middle East.
SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny and Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks were both believed to have been active in this organization, but these suppositions have never been proven. Similarly, General Reinhard Gehlen's entire intelligence organisation that was employed and protected by US intelligence within a few months of the end of the war [and which subsequently became an important part of NATO Intelligence in eastern Europe as well as of Gladio, NATO's secret "stay-behind" paramilitary organizations], came under suspicion. In Argentina, Rudolfo Freude was allegedly a member of the network.
In November 2005, the Spanish newspaper "El Mundo" reported that Mauthausen concentration camp's Nazi doctor Aribert Heim, protected by ODESSA, had possibly been hiding in Spain for the past 20 years. According to sources from the Simon Wiesenthal Center quoted by "El Mundo", former soldiers of Otto Skorzeny [who died in an accident in Madrid in 1975] had helped maintain the organization in Spain, especially in the region around Malaga and Alicante.
According to Simon Wiesenthal, ODESSA was set up in 1946 to aid fugitive Nazis. Other sources, such as many interviews by the ZDF German TV station with former SS men, suggest that ODESSA never was the single world-wide secret organization that Wiesenthal described, but that there were several organizations, both overt and covert [including the CIA and several Latin American governments], that helped ex-SS men.
To some extent whether ODESSA was a criminal conspiracy that protected and smuggled out war criminals or an informal network by which various German and Allied elements protected "useful" former SS anti-communists from war crimes charges is purely a matter of viewpoint since, short of finding a genuine documentary constitution for it, any facts or actions would fit both descriptions equally.
Long before the ZDF TV network, biographer Gitta Sereny wrote in her 1974 book "Into that Darkness" that the ODESSA network was of minor importance if it existed at all. She attributed the fact that several criminal SS-men could escape due to the post war chaos and the lack of means of the Catholic Church, the Red Cross and the American military to verify the claims of people who came to them for help or were imprisoned. She also wrote that one pro-German Bishop called Aloïs Hudal in Rome who knowingly helped several ex-SS men to escape out of Europe must have had some help or permission from other people in the church hierarchy. One of the ex-SS men that he helped is the former commander of the extermination camp at Treblinka, Franz Stangl.
Uki Goñi, in his 2002 book "The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina" suggests that Sereny's more complex, less conspiratorial, story is closer to the real truth. The book prompted a US House of Representatives resolution in 2003, urging Argentina to open their hitherto secret documents concerning this matter.
Of particular importance in examining the postwar activities of high-ranking Nazis is Paul Manning's book "Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile", which details Martin Bormann's rise to power through the Nazi Party and as Hitler's Chief of Staff. During the war, Manning himself was a correspondent for the fledgling CBS News along with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite in London, and his reporting and subsequent researches present Bormann's cunning and skill in the organization and planning for the flight of Nazi-controlled capital from Europe during the dimming years of the war [notwithstanding the established fact of Bormann's death in Berlin on 1 May 1945].
According to Manning, "eventually, over 10,000 former German military made it to South America along escape routes ODESSA and Deutscher Hilfsverein...." . While in Manning ODESSA itself is incidental, the continuing existence of the Bormann Organization is a much larger and more menacing fact.
Albert Schnez was an officer in three successive German armies: the Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht, and finally the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the modern Federal Republic of Germany. He was involved in the debate on the internal leadership of the newly formed Bundeswehr and was close to the German defense minister, Franz Josef Strauss. Schnez served from 1968 to 1971 with the rank of lieutenant-general [Generalleutnant] as the Inspector of the Army.
From 1949, Schnez, together with other veterans of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS, built a clandestine shadow army, the "Schnez-Truppe", that intended to fight against the Soviet Union. By 1951, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had learned of the existence of this secret army and its head Schnez, but evidently declined to act against them.
Statements by Schnez suggest that the project to build a clandestine army was also supported by Hans Speidel -- who would become the NATO Supreme Commander of the Allied Army in Central Europe in 1957 -- and Adolf Heusinger, the first inspector general of the Bundeswehr.
Otto Skorzeny, the decorated Waffen SS officer who freed Mussolini the Italian dictator in a daring glider raid on the mountaintop where he was held prisoner by anti-fascists, was also involved in the plans.
Even though Schnez's army violated Allied law -- military or "military-like" organizations were banned, and those who contravened the rules risked life in prison -- it quickly became very popular.
In his search for financing for a full-time operation, Schnez requested help from the West German secret service during the summer of 1951. During a 24 July 1951 meeting, Schnez offered the services of his shadow army to Reinhard Gehlen, the head of the Intelligence service, for "military use" or "simply as a potential force," be it for a German exile government or the Western allies.
It's likely that Gehlens' enthusiasm for Schnez's offer would have been greater if had it come one year earlier, when the Korean War was breaking out. At the time, the West German capital city of Bonn and Washington had considered the idea of "gathering members of former German elite divisions in the event of a catastrophe, arming and then assigning them to Allied defense troops".
Within a year, the situation had defused somewhat, and then-chancellor Konrad Adenauer had retreated from this idea. Instead, he pushed for West Germany to integrate more deeply with the West and for the establishment of the Bundeswehr. Schnez's illegal group had the potential to threaten that policy -- if its existence had become public knowledge, it could have spiralled into an international scandal.
It is currently unknown exactly when the secret army disbanded.
And, though very much in the realm of myth, it has been suggested by some that the Nazis had built a secret base in Antarctica for advanced saucer-shaped aircraft inside the hole at the South Pole where they sought refuge after the war.
Chester William Nimitz was a fleet admiral of the United States Navy. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet [CinCPac], for U.S. naval forces and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas [CinCPOA], for U.S. and Allied air, land, and sea forces during World War II.
Nimitz was the leading U.S. Navy authority on submarines. Qualified in submarines during his early years, he later oversaw the conversion of these vessels' propulsion from gasoline to diesel, and then later was key in acquiring approval to build the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, 'USS Nautilus', whose propulsion system later completely superseded Diesel-powered submarines in the U.S.
On 20 October 1945, at the Nuremberg trials, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, the only one of the defendants prepared to request specific counsel, asks for German naval judge advocate Flottenrichter [Captain] Otto Kranzbuhler. "But if he cannot be reached I have requested that a British or American submarine admiral come here to defend me. You see, he can understand me. He did the same job."
Kranzbuhler, on 6 March 1946, as Dönitz's counsel, requested the Tribunal's permission to send an interrogatory to Admiral Nimitz concerning US wartime policies and practices on the high seas, specifically those having to do with submarines. Kranzbuhler is accused of attempting the banned 'tu quoque' defense [the "you did it too" argument].
After much discussion behind closed doors, on 10 April 1946, Kranzbuhler wins a major victory as the Tribunal allows his proposed interrogatory to be sent to Admiral Nimitz.
"The International Military Tribunal have authorized the enclosed questionnaire formulated by counsel for Admiral Dönitz, to Admiral Nimitz. The basis of the Tribunal's decision in authorizing the questionnaire was that it was appropriate to construe the international law of submarine warfare by determining what actions were taken by the powers during the war".
An interrogatory was permitted to be submitted to Admiral Nimitz.
Dönitz produced an affidavit from Admiral Chester Nimitz admitting that he had also waged unrestricted submarine warfare in the Pacific since 7 December 1941 and that American submarines did not rescue survivors in situations where their own safety was in question. In view of all the facts proved and in particular of an order of the British Admiralty announced on 8 May 1940, according to which all vessels should be sunk at sight in the Skagerrak, the sentence of Dönitz was not assessed on the ground of his breaches of the international law of submarine warfare.
This evidence is widely credited as a reason why Dönitz was sentenced to only 10 years of imprisonment.
According to the BBC: "When Dönitz was released in 1956, Nimitz was among a number of Allied veterans who joined together to express in writing their regret about the way he had been treated".
Interestingly, Nimitz also went to privately visit Admiral Dönitz, after Dönitz's release from prison in 1956. Did Nimitz just extend pleasantries and condolences to his imprisoned Nazi counterpart, or did they have weightier matters to discuss?
Nimitz was a native German speaker and by virtue of his rank and position would have been privy to the very highest levels of war-time intelligence. He was uniquely qualified to debrief Dönitz, in a way that virtually no one else on the American side would have been. It also must be mentioned that Nimitz was appointed the Chief of Naval Operations after WW II, and it was in this capacity that less than a year after the conclusion of hostilities in WW II he issued the orders for the well-known Antarctic "Operation High Jump". Operation High Jump has been the subject of much speculation in both UFOlogy and Nazi conspiracy circles concerning the possible presence of a remnant, post-WW II, high-tech Nazi redoubt in the Antarctic region, perhaps incorporating a flying saucer base.
Who really knows? A great deal of what happened just before, during, and just after the conclusion of military hostilities in WW II remains very murky, to this day.
With respect to Grand Admiral Dönitz, he commanded the German Kriegsmarine during the last two years of WW II, and in the closing days of the war, Adolf Hitler appointed Dönitz to be Reichspräsident. Dönitz was, thus, "de facto and de jure" head of state of the Third Reich for the last week of its existence, in the first week of May 1945. According to Joseph Farrell, the Bell program was conducted at a very secretive level by powerful elements of the SS, but was in reality also a securely compartmentalized Navy [Kriegsmarine] program, under the direction of Konteradmiral Wilhelm Rhein, who was Chief of Office Group for Research, Invention and Patenting, Naval Weapons Head Office, OKM from 1 September 1942 - 8 May 1945.
Admiral Rhein and Admiral Karl Witzell, head of the Marinewaffenhauptamt were involved with the Kriegsmarine nuclear propulsion and weapons programs during WW2, a project based at Hamburg and later at Stettin trying to create nuclear powered versions of the Type XXI Elektro U-Boot. .
On 1 April 1941 Witzell was promoted to General Admiral, he resigned on 31 August 1942 from active service and was placed at the disposal of the Navy on 1 October 1942, but no longer for active military service. He was appointed to the Presidential Council of the Reich Research Council, and finally awarded the 'Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern' [Knight's Cross of War Merit Cross. with swords] on 5 October 1942 in recognition of its high contribution to the development of weapons and armor of the German Reich.
Despite having ending his military career Witzell became a Russian prisoner of war in May 1945 and was sentenced in the Soviet Union by a military tribunal in a 25-year prison sentence for war crimes on 25 June 1950 . On 7 October 1955, he returned prematurely returned home prematurely and became a founding member of the Association of Defence Technology.
However, the actual work on the “Bell” project itself was apparently directed by an SS General Emil Mazuw, about whom very little is known, albeit that he was one of the highest ranking Nazi officers in the Third Reich.
Farrell also points out the importance that mercury seems to have played in the Bell technology. As it happens, in the closing stages of the war, no less than three German U-Boats were dispatched to Japan bearing cargoes of mercury: U-864 with more than 60 tons of mercury in steel flasks, as well as jet engines, parts and technical drawings, U-234 with 562 kg of Uranium oxide [interestingly, U-234 is also the notation for one of the isotopes of Uranium], also mercury and optical glass in its keel, and U-859 with 31 tons of mercury. All of these German submarines were either surrendered or sunk in the last months and days of the war, so their cargoes are known.
Were other German submarines loaded with mercury or other exotic cargoes also underway at or near war's end, but perhaps completed their missions without being captured or sunk, and thus both their cargoes and destinations remain unknown? In that regard, it is noteworthy that German Submarines U-530 and U-977 both surrendered in Mar del Plata, Argentina, months after the formal cessation of military hostilities with the Third Reich. Did either of these submarines deliver a special cargo or special passengers to Argentina or another destination in the region, or is it simply that their commanding officers wished to surrender in Argentina. Who knows? But this is not the first or only time that Argentina has come to public mention as a destination for Nazis fleeing Europe after WW II.
Revealed: The secret report that shows how the Nazis planned a Fourth Reich...in the EU
By Adam Lebor
9 May 2009
The paper is aged and fragile, the typewritten letters slowly fading. But US Military Intelligence report EW-Pa 128 is as chilling now as the day it was written in November 1944.
The document, also known as the 'Red House Report', is a detailed account of a secret meeting at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg on 10 August 1944. There, Nazi officials ordered an elite group of German industrialists to plan for Germany's post-war recovery, prepare for the Nazis' return to power and work for a 'strong German empire'. In other words: the Fourth Reich.
The three-page, closely typed report, marked 'Secret', copied to British officials and sent by air pouch to Cordell Hull, the US Secretary of State, detailed how the industrialists were to work with the Nazi Party to rebuild Germany's economy by sending money through Switzerland.
They would set up a network of secret front companies abroad. They would wait until conditions were right. And then they would take over Germany again.
The industrialists included representatives of Volkswagen, Krupp and Messerschmitt. Officials from the Navy and Ministry of Armaments were also at the meeting and, with incredible foresight, they decided together that the Fourth German Reich, unlike its predecessor, would be an economic rather than a military empire - but not just German.
The Red House Report, which was unearthed from US intelligence files, was the inspiration for my thriller "The Budapest Protocol".
But as I researched and wrote the novel, I realised that some of the Red House Report had become fact.
Nazi Germany did export massive amounts of capital through neutral countries. German businesses did set up a network of front companies abroad. The German economy did soon recover after 1945.
The Third Reich was defeated militarily, but powerful Nazi-era bankers, industrialists and civil servants, reborn as democrats, soon prospered in the new West Germany. There they worked for a new cause: European economic and political integration.
Is it possible that the Fourth Reich those Nazi industrialists foresaw has, in some part at least, come to pass?
The Red House Report was written by a French spy who was at the meeting in Strasbourg in 1944 - and it paints an extraordinary picture.
The industrialists gathered at the Maison Rouge Hotel waited expectantly as SS Obergruppenführer Dr Scheid began the meeting. Scheid held one of the highest ranks in the SS, equivalent to Lieutenant General. He cut an imposing figure in his tailored grey-green uniform and high, peaked cap with silver braiding. Guards were posted outside and the room had been searched for microphones.
In 1942 Dr. Friedrich Scheid held an important position in Albert Speer’s Ministry of Armaments and Munitions, and at the end of 1942, I.G. Farben’s Dr.Walther Schieber, Chief of the Armaments Delivery Office, put him in charge of the bureau of “Industrial Independence", in which position he had far-reaching responsibility for the Nazi arms industry. As reported in an article entitled 'General Eisenhower: Interesting Document', in "Junge Welt", Dr. Scheid fled from Berlin in April 1945 and was interned by the Soviet occupation forces from June 1945 until 31 December 1945. He was subsequently named the German director of the Board of the Soviet Joint Stock Company [SAG]. He died in 1949.
There was a sharp intake of breath as he began to speak. German industry must realise that the war cannot be won, he declared. 'It must take steps in preparation for a post-war commercial campaign.' Such defeatist talk was treasonous - enough to earn a visit to the Gestapo's cellars, followed by a one-way trip to a concentration camp.
But Scheid had been given special licence to speak the truth – the future of the Reich was at stake. He ordered the industrialists to 'make contacts and alliances with foreign firms, but this must be done individually and without attracting any suspicion'.
The industrialists were to borrow substantial sums from foreign countries after the war.
They were especially to exploit the finances of those German firms that had already been used as fronts for economic penetration abroad, said Scheid, citing the American partners of the steel giant Krupp as well as Zeiss, Leica and the Hamburg-America Line shipping company.
But as most of the industrialists left the meeting, a handful were beckoned into another smaller gathering, presided over by Dr Bosse of the Armaments Ministry. There were secrets to be shared with the elite of the elite.
Bosse explained how, even though the Nazi Party had informed the industrialists that the war was lost, resistance against the Allies would continue until a guarantee of German unity could be obtained. He then laid out the secret three-stage strategy for the Fourth Reich.
In stage one, the industrialists were to 'prepare themselves to finance the Nazi Party, which would be forced to go underground as 'Maquis', using the term for the French resistance.
Stage two would see the government allocating large sums to German industrialists to establish a 'secure post-war foundation in foreign countries', while 'existing financial reserves must be placed at the disposal of the party so that a strong German empire can be created after the defeat'.
In stage three, German businesses would set up a 'sleeper' network of agents abroad through front companies, which were to be covers for military research and intelligence, until the Nazis returned to power.
'The existence of these is to be known only by very few people in each industry and by chiefs of the Nazi Party,' Bosse announced.
'Each office will have a liaison agent with the party. As soon as the party becomes strong enough to re-establish its control over Germany, the industrialists will be paid for their effort and co-operation by concessions and orders.'
The exported funds were to be channelled through two banks in Zürich, or via agencies in Switzerland which bought property in Switzerland for German concerns, for a five per cent commission.
The Nazis had been covertly sending funds through neutral countries for years.
Swiss banks, in particular the Swiss National Bank, accepted gold looted from the treasuries of Nazi-occupied countries. They accepted assets and property titles taken from Jewish businessmen in Germany and occupied countries, and supplied the foreign currency that the Nazis needed to buy vital war materials.
Swiss economic collaboration with the Nazis had been closely monitored by Allied intelligence.
The Red House Report's author notes: 'Previously, exports of capital by German industrialists to neutral countries had to be accomplished rather surreptitiously and by means of special influence.
'Now the Nazi Party stands behind the industrialists and urges them to save themselves by getting funds outside Germany and at the same time advance the party's plans for its post-war operations'.
The order to export foreign capital was technically illegal in Nazi Germany, but by the summer of 1944 the law did not matter.
More than two months after D-Day, the Nazis were being squeezed by the Allies from the west and the Soviets from the east. Hitler had been badly wounded in an assassination attempt. The Nazi leadership was nervous, fractious and quarrelling.
During the war years the SS had built up a gigantic economic empire, based on plunder and murder, and they planned to keep it.
A meeting such as that at the Maison Rouge would need the protection of the SS, according to Dr Adam Tooze of Cambridge University, author of "Wages of Destruction: The Making And Breaking Of The Nazi Economy".
He says: "By 1944 any discussion of post-war planning was banned. It was extremely dangerous to do that in public. But the SS was thinking in the long-term. If you are trying to establish a workable coalition after the war, the only safe place to do it is under the auspices of the apparatus of terror".
Shrewd SS leaders such as Otto Ohlendorf were already thinking ahead.
As commander of Einsatzgruppe D, which operated on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1942, Ohlendorf was responsible for the murder of 90,000 men, women and children.
A highly educated, intelligent lawyer and economist, Ohlendorf showed great concern for the psychological welfare of his extermination squad's gunmen: he ordered that several of them should fire simultaneously at their victims, so as to avoid any feelings of personal responsibility.
By the winter of 1943 he was transferred to the Ministry of Economics. Ohlendorf's ostensible job was focusing on export trade, but his real priority was preserving the SS's massive pan-European economic empire after Germany's defeat.
Ohlendorf, who was later hanged at Nuremberg, took particular interest in the work of a German economist called Ludwig Erhard. Erhard had written a lengthy manuscript on the transition to a post-war economy after Germany's defeat. This was dangerous, especially as his name had been mentioned in connection with resistance groups.
But Ohlendorf, who was also chief of the SD, the Nazi domestic security service, protected Erhard as he agreed with his views on stabilising the post-war German economy. Ohlendorf himself was protected by Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS.
Ohlendorf and Erhard feared a bout of hyper-inflation, such as the one that had destroyed the German economy in the Twenties. Such a catastrophe would render the SS's economic empire almost worthless.
The two men agreed that the post-war priority was rapid monetary stabilisation through a stable currency unit, but they realised this would have to be enforced by a friendly occupying power, as no post-war German state would have enough legitimacy to introduce a currency that would have any value.
That unit would become the Deutschmark, which was introduced in 1948. It was an astonishing success and it kick-started the German economy. With a stable currency, Germany was once again an attractive trading partner.
The German industrial conglomerates could rapidly rebuild their economic empires across Europe.
War had been extraordinarily profitable for the German economy. By 1948 - despite six years of conflict, Allied bombing and post-war reparations payments - the capital stock of assets such as equipment and buildings was larger than in 1936, thanks mainly to the armaments boom.
Erhard pondered how German industry could expand its reach across the shattered European continent. The answer was through supranationalism - the voluntary surrender of national sovereignty to an international body.
Germany and France were the drivers behind the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Union. The ECSC was the first supranational organisation, established in April 1951 by six European states. It created a common market for coal and steel which it regulated. This set a vital precedent for the steady erosion of national sovereignty, a process that continues today.
But before the common market could be set up, the Nazi industrialists had to be pardoned, and Nazi bankers and officials reintegrated. In 1957, John J. McCloy, the American High Commissioner for Germany, issued an amnesty for industrialists convicted of war crimes.
The two most powerful Nazi industrialists, Alfried Krupp of Krupp Industries and Friedrich Flick, whose Flick Group eventually owned a 40 per cent stake in Daimler-Benz, were released from prison after serving barely three years.
Krupp and Flick had been central figures in the Nazi economy. Their companies used slave labourers like cattle, to be worked to death.
The Krupp company soon became one of Europe's leading industrial combines.
The Flick Group also quickly built up a new pan-European business empire. Friedrich Flick remained unrepentant about his wartime record and refused to pay a single Deutschmark in compensation until his death in July 1972 at the age of 90, when he left a fortune of more than $1billion, the equivalent of £400million at the time.
'For many leading industrial figures close to the Nazi regime, Europe became a cover for pursuing German national interests after the defeat of Hitler,' says historian Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, an adviser to Jewish former slave labourers.
'The continuity of the economy of Germany and the economies of post-war Europe is striking. Some of the leading figures in the Nazi economy became leading builders of the European Union'.
Numerous household names had exploited slave and forced labourers including BMW, Siemens and Volkswagen, which produced munitions and the V1 rocket.
Slave labour was an integral part of the Nazi war machine. Many concentration camps were attached to dedicated factories where company officials worked hand-in-hand with the SS officers overseeing the camps.
Like Krupp and Flick, Hermann Abs, post-war Germany's most powerful banker, had prospered in the Third Reich. Dapper, elegant and diplomatic, Abs joined the board of Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest bank, in 1937. As the Nazi empire expanded, Deutsche Bank enthusiastically 'Aryanised' Austrian and Czechoslovak banks that were owned by Jews.
By 1942, Abs held 40 directorships, a quarter of which were in countries occupied by the Nazis. Many of these Aryanised companies used slave labour and by 1943 Deutsche Bank's wealth had quadrupled.
Abs also sat on the supervisory board of I.G. Farben, as Deutsche Bank's representative. I.G. Farben was one of Nazi Germany's most powerful companies, formed out of a union of BASF, Bayer, Hoechst and subsidiaries in the Twenties.
It was so deeply entwined with the SS and the Nazis that it ran its own slave labour camp at Auschwitz, known as Auschwitz III, where tens of thousands of Jews and other prisoners died producing artificial rubber.
Under the direction of Dr Herman Josef Abs [who never became a Nazi] the Deutsche Bank was responsible for financing the slave labour used by business giants such as Siemens, BMW, Volkswagen, I.G. Farben, Daimler Benz and others. The banks wealth quadrupled during the twelve years of Hitler's rule. Arrested by the British after the war for war crimes, he was quietly released after the intervention of the Bank of England to help restore the German banking industry in the British zone This caused much dissension between the British and the Americans who wanted the German Economy crushed.
When they could work no longer, or were "verbraucht" [used up] in the Nazis' chilling term, they were moved to Birkenau. There they were gassed using Zyklon B, the patent for which was owned by I.G. Farben.
But like all good businessmen, I.G. Farben's bosses hedged their bets.
During the war the company had financed Ludwig Erhard's research. After the war, 24 I.G. Farben executives were indicted for war crimes over Auschwitz III - but only twelve of the 24 were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one-and-a-half to eight years. I.G. Farben got away with mass murder.
Abs was one of the most important figures in Germany's post-war reconstruction. It was largely thanks to him that, just as the Red House Report exhorted, a "strong German empire" was indeed rebuilt, one which formed the basis of today's European Union.
Abs was put in charge of allocating Marshall Aid - reconstruction funds - to German industry. By 1948 he was effectively managing Germany's economic recovery.
Crucially, Abs was also a member of the European League for Economic Co-operation, an elite intellectual pressure group set up in 1946. The league was dedicated to the establishment of a common market, the precursor of the European Union.
Its members included industrialists and financiers and it developed policies that are strikingly familiar today - on monetary integration and common transport, energy and welfare systems.
When Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany, took power in 1949, Abs was his most important financial adviser.
Behind the scenes Abs was working hard for Deutsche Bank to be allowed to reconstitute itself after decentralisation. In 1957 he succeeded and he returned to his former employer.
That same year the six members of the ECSC signed the Treaty of Rome, which set up the European Economic Community. The treaty further liberalised trade and established increasingly powerful supranational institutions including the European Parliament and European Commission.
Like Abs, Ludwig Erhard flourished in post-war Germany. Adenauer made Erhard Germany's first post-war economics minister. In 1963 Erhard succeeded Adenauer as Chancellor for three years.
But the German economic miracle – so vital to the idea of a new Europe - was built on mass murder. The number of slave and forced labourers who died while employed by German companies in the Nazi era was 2,700,000.
Some sporadic compensation payments were made but German industry agreed a conclusive, global settlement only in 2000, with a £3billion compensation fund. There was no admission of legal liability and the individual compensation was paltry.
A slave labourer would receive 15,000 Deutschmarks [about £5,000], a forced labourer 5,000 [about £1,600]. Any claimant accepting the deal had to undertake not to launch any further legal action.
To put this sum of money into perspective, in 2001 Volkswagen alone made profits of £1.8billion.
Next month, 27 European Union member states vote in the biggest transnational election in history. Europe now enjoys peace and stability. Germany is a democracy, once again home to a substantial Jewish community. The Holocaust is seared into national memory.
But the Red House Report is a bridge from a sunny present to a dark past. Josef Göbbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, once said: 'In 50 years' time nobody will think of nation states.'
For now, the nation state endures. But these three typewritten pages are a reminder that today's drive towards a European federal state is inexorably tangled up with the plans of the SS and German industrialists for a Fourth Reich - an economic rather than military imperium.
--"The Budapest Protocol", Adam LeBor's thriller inspired by the Red House Report, is published by Reportage Press.
Fourth Reich plot revealed
Jewish group uncovers secret papers that prove conspiracy by 'ODESSA File' Nazis
Daniel Jeffreys | New York - Friday 6 September 1996|
Secret United States documents uncovered by a Jewish human rights group have proved the existence of a Nazi support group that sought to smuggle people and gold out of Germany in 1945, and worked for the establishment of a Fourth Reich.
The group is vividly portrayed in Frederick Forsyth's novel "The ODESSA File". Mr Forsyth confirmed yesterday that his novel was based on reports of a meeting in France in August 1944. This meeting is detailed in US documents seen by "The Independent" which were collected by a top-secret intelligence operation called Project Safehaven at the end of the war.
"The ODESSA existed and they removed billions of dollars in looted Jewish assets from Germany," Elan Steinberg, executive director at the World Jewish Congress [WJC], said. "Their plan was to re-establish the Nazi Party from safe havens outside Germany and many of the assets they smuggled out must still exist." The WJC is seeking to recover Jewish assets which were stolen by the Nazis.
The ODESSA document is a US intelligence report stamped "Secret", written in November 1944. It is based on the work of a French intelligence agent deployed by the Deuxieme Bureau which penetrated Nazi organisations in Paris during the occupation. The agent observed an August 1944 meeting of German industrialists held in Strasbourg. It was presided over by SS Obergruppenführer Dr Scheid, managing director at the Heshe [Hermandorff & Schonburg] company before the war.
"Their plan was to smuggle gold, patents and art out of Germany along with top industrialists," Mr Steinberg said. "Meanwhile, the Nazi Party would re-establish itself in Germany as an underground movement". The document was discovered in July when Mr Steinberg gained access to recently declassified papers from the National Archive in Washington. Mr Steinberg has authenticated the report and linked it to others which show that the German Reichsbank was involved in the plot.
According to a secret US State Department telegram dated 4 December 1945, the Reichsbank maintained a depot of gold at the Swiss National Bank throughout the war. By 1945 it had accumulated bullion worth $123m which was earmarked for ODESSA operations.
The Strasbourg meeting laid out a comprehensive plan for resurrecting the Reich. Executives from Volkswagen, Krupp Steel, Brown-Boveri, Messerschmidt, Zeiss and Leica were ordered to establish operations overseas and finance the Nazi Party from abroad. The intelligence report quotes SS Obergruppenführer Scheid on post-war strategy: "From now on, German industry must realise that the war cannot be won and that it must make steps in preparation for a post-war commercial campaign," he said.
This and other documents in the possession of the WJC may have adverse implications for the modern descendants of leading German corporations. "We now have sufficient evidence for an indictment," Elan Steinberg said yesterday.
The ODESSA document came to light after the WJC failed to persuade Switzerland to open secret Nazi bank accounts in May this year. "The documents are evidence of the biggest robbery in the history of mankind," said Mr Steinberg, who has now forced the Swiss government to begin a full inquiry.
"The Independent" reported yesterday that Hitler had been reported to have held numbered accounts at Union Bank of Switzerland. UBS yesterday issued a statement denying that it was still handling funds deposited by Nazis during the war.
Robert Vogler, the bank's chief spokesman in Zürich, could not say whether such an account had ever existed but he said that all funds belonging to Germans were frozen after the war, their owners vetted, and those traced to known Nazis handed over to the Allies.
"Few people believed Frederick Forsyth when he said the villain of 'The ODESSA File', Eduard Roschmann, the Butcher of Riga, was a real character", writes Steve Boggan. "Or that a meeting of high-ranking SS officers and industrialists took place at the Maison Rouge hotel in Strasbourg in 1944 to discuss ways of moving Nazi gold out of Germany and France".
Yet Mr Forsyth always insisted that large elements of his book were true, based on information from "friends in low places". The US report talks of a meeting at the Hotel Rotes Haus. "I believe there were a number of meetings there at which the SS and industrialists carved up much of the proceeds of the Third Reich," he said.
The basis for this plan had been developed years earlier, as on 11 September 1940 Reich Propaganda Minister Josef Göbbels delivered a speech, 'The Europe of the Future' to Czech intellectual workers and journalists stating: “I am convinced that in 50 years, people will no longer think in terms of countries…. In those days people will think in terms of continents…. No single European nation can in the long run be allowed to standin the way of the general process of organization.”
In the same year  as Göbbels’ speech, Nazi Minister of Economic Affairs [1937-1945] Walther Funk wrote a 16-page booklet, "The Economic Future of Europe", and called for a 'Central European Union' and 'European Economic Area'. In 1942, Funk co-authored "The European Economic Community", in which he declared, “There must be a readiness to subordinate one’s own interests in certain cases to those of [the EC]".
Funk’s co-authors echoed his sentiments. Nazi academic Heinrich Hunke wrote:
"Classic national economy..is dead…community of fate which is the European economy…fate and extent of European co-operation depends on a new unity economic plan".
Fellow Nazi Gustav König observed:
"“We have a real European Community task before us…I am convinced that this Community effort will last beyond the end of the war".
According to journalist Curt Riess in "The Nazis Go Underground" , it was on the morning of 9 November 1942 that Hitler’s Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler in his private office in the Brown House in Munich confided to Martin Bormann that while Germany may have to capitulate militarily, "never must the National Socialist German Workers Party [Nazi Party] capitulate. That is what we have to work for from now". Relevant to this effort, Himmler organized everything right down to the last detail regarding Nazis going underground and spreading throughout the world to fulfill their plan, perhaps in two generations. Preliminary work and planning was done by Himmler at the Gestapo building in the Prince Albrechtstrasse, Berlin, and the major Nazi undergound movement began 16 May 1943 at 11 Königsallee in Berlin under SS Generals Werner Heissmeyer and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Curt Riessalso revealed that "[The Nazi Underground] organization in Argentina is all set up and waiting impatiently for the ‘go-ahead’ signal".
The documents, Accession Number 56-75-101, Agency Container Number 169, File Number BIS/2/00, concern Germany's "looted" gold being transferred to the 'Bank for International Settlements' in Switzerland.
One important paragraph [#9] says:
"It is clear both from correspondence and from testimony that the management of the B.I.S. during the war was 'in the hands of the Administration Council, in which the AXIS representatives have an authoritative influence' and that in 1942 the Germans favored the reelection of President McKittrick whose 'personal opinions' they characterized as 'safely known'." [It has been claimed by some researchers that the 7 most powerful Bankers in the world -- who collectively control over 80 percent of all global financial transactions and over 60 percent of all global trade -- have in the past met regularly at the Bank of International Settlements or 'B.I.S.' office in the fitly named 'Tower of Basel' in Basel, Switzerland].
Enclosed in the file is a clipping from the "New York Times", date not included but appears to be in 1945, that states: "McKITTRICK SLATED FOR POST AT CHASE. He Will Take Over Duties as Vice President of Bank Here Next Autumn. Thomas H. McKittrick, American banker who has served as president of the Bank for International Settlements [B.I.S.] since the beginning of 1940, will become a vice president of the [Rockefeller's] Chase National Bank of New York next fall, Winthrop W. Aldrich, chairman of the board of Chase, announced yesterday". The article ends by quoting McKittrick: "I realize it is my duty to perform a neutral task in wartime. It is an extremely difficult and trying thing to do, but I'll do the best I can".
Another formerly Top Secret document declassified was "Subject: Conversation in Switzerland with Mr. McKittrick, President of the Bank for International Settlements" from Orvis A. Schmidt to Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, dated 23 March 1945. It describes McKittrick's dealings with the real head of the Nazi banking system, a Vice President named Puhl.
"Puhl was described by McKittrick as a career banker who had been with the Reichsbank for some twenty years, who does not share the Nazi point of view... the Swiss National Bank said that in order to be sure they were not obtaining looted gold they had requested a member of the Reichsbank, whom they regarded to be trustworthy, to certify that each parcel of gold which they purchased had not been looted. The person who had done this certifying was Puhl".
Puhl was Reichsbank Senior Vice President Emil Johann Rudolf Puhl. He was in charge of taking booty into the bank and was in charge of it for the Nazis. His Senior Shipping Clerk Albert Thoms said that they needed up to thirty men to help him sort and repack the valuables, which consisted of "millions in gold marks, pounds sterling, dollars and Swiss francs, 3,500 ounces of platinum, over 550,000 ounces of gold, and 4,638 carats in diamonds and other precious stones, as well as hundreds of pieces of works of art" ["Aftermath," Ladislas Farago, Avon, 1974]. This material was shipped out of the country in Operation Fireland or Aktion Feuerland in German. "The transaction was named 'Land of Fire' after the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego at the southern extremity of Argentina and Chile, the area to which some of of the shipments were originally consigned".
Hitler, exhausted, drained of the charisma of the glory days of the thirties and the conquest years of the early forties, was going through the gestures of military leadership mechanically as his troops fell back on all fronts. Martin Bormann, forty-one at the fall of Berlin, and strong as a bull, was at all times at Hitler’s side, impassive and cool. His be-all and end-all was to guide Hitler, and now to make the decisions that would lead to the eventual rebirth of his country. Hitler, his intuitions at peak level despite his crumbling physical and mental health in the last year of the Third Reich, realized this and approved of it.
In the Spring of 1944, Merck and Company, Inc. received a large cash infusion from Martin Bormann.... This at the time Merck's president, George W. Merck, was advising President Roosevelt, and initiating strategies, as America's biological weapons industry director. According to CBS News correspondent Paul Manning, the lion's share of the Nazi gold went to 750 corporations, largely including Merck, to secure a virtual monopoly over the world's chemical and pharmaceutical industries. This was done not only for Germany's economic recovery, but to assure the rise of 'The Fourth Reich'.
Merck then, along with Rockefeller partner I.G. Farben, received huge sums of money from the Nazi war chest to actualize Hitler's proclaimed 'vision of a thousand-year Third Reich (and) world empire. This was outlined with clarity in a document called 'Neuordnung,' or 'New Order,' that was accompanied by a letter of transmittal to the (Bormann led) Ministry of Economics. "Bury your treasure,' Hitler advised Bormann, 'for you will need it to begin a Fourth Reich".
Bormann apparently ignored his Führer, and in a momentary burst of Christianity, heeded Christ by not burying his treasure, but investing and increasing it, setting in motion the 'flight capital' scheme on 10 August, 1944, in Strasbourg. The treasure, the golden ring, he envisioned for the new Germany was the sophisticated distribution of national and corporate assets to safe havens throughout the neutral nations of the rest of the world.
The myth of "ODESSA" was overlaid with the idea of a secret conference of Nazi government and economic leaders, who had supposedly met in the Hotel Maison Rouge in Strasbourg on 10 August 1944, and who had provided the necessary funding for the organization's endeavors.
Along with other leading figures within the Third Reich, General Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann had apparently come to the conclusion by the summer of 1944 that the war was invariably lost. The only hope for the future survival of himself and other head Nazis, all of whom faced execution if captured, lay in utilizing their own resources for their escape from Europe. He deemed it absolutely necessary to bring the enormous Nazi treasure out of Europe and to invest it securely. Entire industries must be transferred out of Germany. Key Nazi firms must establish roots abroad in order to avoid rapacious reparation payments. Thousands of war criminals, most of whom were members of the SS, needed assistance to leave the Reich and secure hiding in the prepared settlements and German colonies of foreign lands. In order to secure and coordinate the financial backing for such operations, Bormann apparently called a hidden meeting of business leaders and top-ranking members of the war and naval ministries to Strasbourg in the summer of 1944, without the knowledge of Heinrich Himmler or Adolf Hitler. The results of this meeting were indeed supposedly quite substantial, for enormous money amounts, hidden currencies, and gold reserves were eventually moved out of Germany. Besides establishing the firm foundations for the economic security and growth of Nazi firms abroad, the money apparently served to finance the actual escape of such individuals through secret organizations like Odessa as well.
Heinz Schneppen ["ODESSA und das Vierte Reich: Mythen der Zeitgeschichte". Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2007] argues, however, that any critical historical analysis of the meeting in Strasbourg proves that the event was sheer fantasy. Many of its alleged participants were senile, already dead, or in concentration camps. Indeed, their presence, as well as the participation of representatives from government ministries, simply cannot be proven. In addition, the alleged civilian chairman of the meeting, a Dr. Scheid, was indeed a ceramic industrialist and leading official in Albert Speer's ministry, but he would have been a poor choice of an individual who could have brought the SS into the plan. Having experienced immense difficulty himself in obtaining membership in the Nazi Party, he never even became a member of the SS.
Not only are the reports about the participants not convincing, but justifiable doubt exists concerning the meeting place as well. Schneppen places into serious question whether a conspiratorial meeting could have actually taken place only weeks following the attempt on Hitler's life [20 July 1944], when the party was hunting mercilessly for any hint of defeatism. In addition, skepticism concerning the funds to which the conference participants had access is necessary. Throughout the fall of 1944, the Reich was in possession of only scant amounts of gold and foreign currencies in order to finance the war. The idea of any substantial capital transfer out of Germany seems highly improbable, especially in light of the increasingly restrictive rules concerning financial transactions with Nazi Germany that the Allies were imposing at the time upon neutral states, like Switzerland.
In the end, any efforts on the part of Odessa, or any plans finalized at the Strasbourg Conference to procure financing for the organization, could only succeed if a foreign power overseas actually allowed a 'Fourth Reich' to take root.
Jeffrey Bale, a Columbia University expert on clandestine Nazi networks, said historians have debated whether such a meeting could have taken place because it came a month after the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life, which had led to a crackdown on discussions of a possible German military defeat. Bale said the Red House meeting was mentioned in Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal's 1967 book "The Murderers Among Us" and again in a 1978 book by French Communist Victor Alexandrov, "The SS Mafia".
The secret Nazi plan was also described in American official Sumner Welles’ "The Time for Decision" .
Adolf Hitler in the second part of his final 'Political Testament' given in Berlin on 29 April 1945 at 4 AM requested that Nazi Party head Martin Bormann and others continue the work of the Nazis after Hitler’s death. He remarked, “Let them be conscious of the fact that our task, that of continuing the building of a National Socialist State, represents the work of the coming centuries, which places every single person under an obligation always to serve the common interest and to subordinate his own advantage to this end.” In the first part of his final 'Political Testament'. Hitler had forecast, “From the sacrifice of our soldiers and from my own unity with them unto death, will in any case spring up in the history of Germany, the seed of a radiant renaissance of the National-Socialist [Nazi] movement and thus of the realization of a true community of nations".
An important report was given by Herbert W. Armstrong from the United Nations building on 9 May 1945, just nine months after the secret meeting between German industrialists. In that report he said:
"The war is over, in Europe—or is it?.....We don’t understand German thoroughness.....From the very start of World War II, they have considered the possibility of losing this second round, as they did the first—and they have carefully, methodically planned, in such eventuality, the third round—World War III ! Hitler has lost. This round of war in Europe is over. And the Nazis have now gone underground".
David Lee Preston wrote in 'Hitler’s Swiss Connection' ["The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine", 5 January 1997] former Nazi Reichsminister of Finance Hjalmar Schacht "was quoted as saying National Socialism would conquer the world without having to wage another war".
Heinz Schneppen. "ODESSA und das Vierte Reich: Mythen der Zeitgeschichte" Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 2007.
Reviewed by Alexander Peter d'Erizans [CUNY Manhattan]
Published on H-German [August, 2011]
Commissioned by Benita Blessing
A Scrutiny of the ODESSA Myth
The legend of ODESSA, a secretive SS [Schutzstaffel] organization formed in the aftermath of the Second World War in order to smuggle Nazi officials and treasure out of Germany with the intention of striking roots for the establishment of a "Fourth Reich," has captivated novelists, the media, political groups, government security services, and dominant global personalities throughout the last half-century.  In his work, "ODESSA und das Vierte Reich: Mythen der Zeitgeschichte", the former West German diplomat Heinz Schneppen seeks to separate myth from reality. While he vehemently challenges the notion that ODESSA actually existed, Schneppen wishes primarily to elucidate the particular factors accounting for why such a legend actually arose in the first place. In so doing, he hopes to offer insight into the genesis of myth-making itself and the formulation of conspiracy theories throughout history. For Schneppen, the idea of ODESSA has been particularly durable for a variety of reasons. Certainly, ignorance has played a significant role in the myth's persistence. Many of those individuals who have promoted the existence of ODESSA, such as Simon Wiesenthal, have demonstrated insufficient knowledge concerning the sources and inadequate training required for critical analysis of the latter. Political motives, ideological bias, and outright disinformation have often accompanied this shortage of professionalism as well, resulting in vague hypotheses supported by unverifiable data masquerading as facts.
Professional shortcomings or political biases of myth-makers, however, only go so far in explaining the production and staying power of the idea of ODESSA, for Schneppen argues that such stories ultimately satisfy a collective need as well, particularly during periods of rapid rupture and flux like the complete collapse of Nazi Germany. On the one hand, for many of the Third Reich's most diehard supporters, the end of the Second World War produced a profound spiritual vacuum. Although their world lay in rubble, devoted Nazis still had to believe that the timeless, indestructible Germany of their most recent and glorious past had survived. To them, therefore, lay the task of sustaining the idea and substance of the Nazi regime in the postwar period. As the racial elite of the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft [national community], to whom it owed unwavering allegiance, the SS invariably assumed the leading role in achieving this objective. After 1945, with the Reich in ruins, the loyalty of the SS shifted from Adolf Hitler to a spiritual Germany of eternal "blood and soil." Since the organization's members could not realize their dreams in Germany itself, perhaps they could construct a new empire in some foreign land, a project that would require the services of a secretive human-smuggling outfit like ODESSA in order to actually transport them and other leading Nazis to their new home.
The sentiments that gave care and comfort to Nazi supporters, however, at the same time dramatically heightened the concerns and fears of those individuals, particularly members of ethnic and political groups the Nazis had targeted, who were afraid [to the point of paranoia] of any indication that National Socialism would experience a revival, indeed, that it had never truly been extinguished. Ultimately, then, Schneppen argues that contrary expectations served to ensure that the myth of ODESSA would receive sustained nourishment throughout the years following 1945.
In the end, Schneppen admits that the factors giving birth to such legends as ODESSA must move beyond the authors themselves as well as the particular historical contexts within which they are living. As old as man himself, such conspiracy theories simply seem too irresistible for some to concoct and never abandon, for they rest upon the exciting, intriguing, and often dramatic premise that behind the appearance of reality, powers are constantly at work formulating plans [almost always devious] revealed to no one. Such myths extend beyond the empiricism of causes and contexts which historians seek to discern and for which they seek to account. Nonetheless, with all their irrationality, such myths often demonstrate plausibility by referring to particular facts and events, whose truth the most ardent skeptics could not even deny. In addition, the very strength of conspiracy myths is their ever elusive nature, for that which does not exist also cannot be entirely refuted.
Schneppen wrestles with the imaginings that ultimately forged the myth of a secret Nazi organization that ferried top-ranking members of the Third Reich out of Europe by zeroing in on the three principal pillars supporting the legend: the alleged formation of ODESSA itself, the Strasbourg Conference of August 1944, and the "Argentinean Connection" linking Nazis with the government of Juan Perón. ODESSA was the means; Strasbourg the decisive site, where leading Nazis apparently coordinated plans to secure their own future amidst a rapidly deteriorating military situation; and Argentina was the goal.
The author first discusses the theory of the ODESSA organization and its shortcomings. Supposedly, in the vicinity of Odessa in 1947, a worldwide secretive escape outfit of leading SS and Gestapo members formed, taking the name of the city in which it was founded. The group provided a thickly connected, smoothly functioning network in which all Nazi escapees could rely on a contact point every forty kilometers. Over the so-called cloister route, ODESSA apparently smuggled fleeing Nazis first to Genoa and Rome with the assistance of the Vatican and Italian authorities, and from there to Perón's Argentina, which served as a final "end station". The organization, however, supposedly occupied itself with more than just ferrying Nazi criminals out of Europe. Odessa energetically sought to undermine the Federal Republic from within by infiltrating its parties and government apparatus at the national, regional, and local levels. It strived to gain a foothold in the economy, the judicial system, and the police as well. Its members sought to drag out the investigation and pursuit of Nazi criminals, and if a particular case reached court, ODESSA ensured that each defendant had access to the best defense money could buy. Throughout the postwar period, the organization apparently became a fervent organizer of neo-Nazi activities as well. Odessa supposedly even officially declared war on Israel, continuously seeking to thwart the operations of the country's commando units, and assassinate its secret agents. A series of ODESSA cells apparently operated throughout such cities as Rosenheim, Stuttgart, Kempten Mannheim, Berchtesgaden, Dachau, all co-ordinated on the ground by SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny. Periodically, small groups of members secretly met in hotels and cafes in order to hatch plans and to coordinate operations.
In order to fund such activities, Odessa supposedly harnessed the profits that its members had made during the war, particularly during the implementation of the Final Solution. Secured in the banks of neutral lands, such as Switzerland, the funds were readily available. In addition, throughout the Arab world, Odessa traded stolen weapons and munitions for marijuana and opium. Working in conjunction with various Mafia networks, the organization then would sell the drugs on the global market.
Despite the often detailed and comprehensive depiction of ODESSA, Schneppen indicates that all serious historical inquiry speaks against the existence of any such organization. Scholars and watchdog groups of neo-Nazi activities refute its existence due to the lack of evidence. Ultimately, however, the author argues that simple logic speaks against the existence of ODESSA as well. First, considering that numerous government and non-government bodies within not only Germany, but the free states of the rest of the world, maintain a close watch on the slightest stirrings of fascism, the idea that a secret, widespread, and active Nazi global network could actually conduct its work is simply inconceivable. In addition, since the cause ODESSA reportedly pursued had only the slightest chance of success, one must consider the former Nazi functionaries in the organization as either complete phantoms or total idiots, and nothing in-between. After all, as Schneppen argues, only the prospect of gaining power could ultimately enable a politically minded individual to persist decades-long in order to achieve a particular goal. Even though conspiracy theorists lend much weight to the biographies of certain prominent Nazis who fled, such as Adolf Eichmann [SS Obersturmführer, head of Jewish affairs at the Reich Main Security Office], Josef Mengele [camp doctor at Auschwitz], Franz Stangl [commandant of Treblinka], Eduard Roschmann [commandant of Riga Ghetto], and Josef Schwammberger [SS-Oberscharführer and former ghetto commandant in Przemysl], the author states that none of the above individuals ever referred to assistance that ODESSA apparently provided to them.
Certainly the escape stories of such prominent Nazis reveal certain similarities. An exchange of identities was vitally important for all of them, which could and did take place at various points: before the collapse of the Third Reich, within internment camps, after release from prison, or during escape. In addition, certain commercial human-smuggling organizations, the Red Cross, and the Catholic Church did assist escapees for a variety of material and humanitarian concerns, sometimes cooperating with each other in their endeavors. Nonetheless, their efforts in helping the escapees, even if at times coordinated, did not necessarily represent a systematic plan of any secret, overarching SS organization called ODESSA. The myth of ODESSA was overlaid with the idea of a secret conference of Nazi government and economic leaders, who had supposedly met in the Hotel Maison Rouge in Strasbourg on 10 August 1944, and who had provided the necessary funding for the organization's endeavors. As for ODESSA, Schneppen details the theory, while pointing out its limitations.
Along with other leading figures within the Third Reich, General Nazi Party Secretary Martin Bormann had apparently come to the conclusion by the summer of 1944 that the war was invariably lost. The only hope for the future survival of himself and other head Nazis, all of whom faced execution if captured, lay in utilizing their own resources for their escape from Europe. He deemed it absolutely necessary to bring the enormous Nazi treasure out of Europe and to invest it securely. Entire industries must be transferred out of Germany. Key Nazi firms must establish roots abroad in order to avoid rapacious reparation payments. Thousands of war criminals, most of whom were members of the SS, needed assistance to leave the Reich and secure hiding in the prepared settlements and German colonies of foreign lands. In order to secure and coordinate the financial backing for such operations, Bormann apparently called a hidden meeting of business leaders and top-ranking members of the war and naval ministries to Strasbourg in the summer of 1944, without the knowledge of Heinrich Himmler or Adolf Hitler. The results of this meeting were indeed supposedly quite substantial, for enormous money amounts, hidden currencies, and gold reserves were eventually moved out of Germany. Besides establishing the firm foundations for the economic security and growth of Nazi firms abroad, the money apparently served to finance the actual escape of such individuals through secret organizations like ODESSA as well.
The author argues, however, that any critical historical analysis of the meeting in Strasbourg proves that the event was sheer fantasy. Many of its alleged participants were senile, already dead, or in concentration camps. Indeed, their presence, as well as the participation of representatives from government ministries, simply cannot be proven. In addition, the alleged civilian chairman of the meeting, a Dr. Scheid, was indeed a ceramic industrialist and leading official in Albert Speer's ministry, but he would have been a poor choice of an individual who could have brought the SS into the plan. Having experienced immense difficulty himself in obtaining membership in the Nazi Party, he never even became a member of the SS.
Not only are the reports about the participants not convincing, but justifiable doubt exists concerning the meeting place as well. Schneppen places into serious question whether a conspiratorial meeting could have actually taken place only weeks following the attempt on Hitler's life [20 July 1944], when the party was hunting mercilessly for any hint of defeatism. In addition, skepticism concerning the funds to which the conference participants had access is necessary. Throughout the fall of 1944, the Reich was in possession of only scant amounts of gold and foreign currencies in order to finance the war. The idea of any substantial capital transfer out of Germany seems highly improbable, especially in light of the increasingly restrictive rules concerning financial transactions with Nazi Germany that the Allies were imposing at the time upon neutral states, like Switzerland.
In the end, any efforts on the part of ODESSA, or any plans finalized at the Strasbourg Conference to procure financing for the organization, could only succeed if a foreign power overseas actually allowed a "Fourth Reich" to take root. To this topic the author proceeds to turn through a discussion of how Perón's Argentina served as the destination point for Nazi men, money, and gold. Yet again, however, the author points out that the evidence is lacking, not only concerning the transfer of funds, but for conceptualizing Argentina as the staging area for future Nazi plans as well. For Schneppen, a transfer of capital to Argentina could simply not have taken place. In January 1944, Argentina had broken diplomatic relations with the Reich, and on 27 March 1945, had actually declared war on Germany. Prior to these events, however, largely because of pressure from the United States, Argentina had already restricted trade relations as well as bank and financial transactions with Nazi Germany. The rupture of diplomatic relations severed vital contacts between German firms and their Argentinean subsidiaries, although Allied blockade efforts had in reality stifled such relations much earlier. A few days after the declaration of war, all branch offices of German firms as well as the fortunes of German nationals resident in Argentina came under state control, and when the war ended, the liquidation of such industries took place. Under such circumstances, Argentina hardly seems like an ideal site for the transfer and hiding of Nazi fortunes.
Upon assuming power in the summer of 1946, as Schneppen points out, Perón accelerated the above efforts. From time to time, German firms certainly sought, with varying degrees of success, to delay, or even evade, the measures of the Argentinean authorities. Before the official break of diplomatic relations, for example, certain German businesses aimed to secure their wealth by investing in bogus firms. The particular economic concerns of the industries involved, however, rather than any grand political and ideological design in coordination with ODESSA, accounted for such behavior. In addition, these admittedly secretive moves of German firms to ensure their own survival never seemed to take place with the close cooperation of Perón, who, despite genuine German sympathies extending throughout his military career and awe at the manner in which the Nazis and Fascists had mobilized their populaces, first and foremost sought to promote the material interests of Argentina through the nationalization and the sale of Reich business enterprises.
Perón certainly demonstrated an eagerness to acquire Germany's "human capital" throughout the postwar period. Again, however, his policy was primarily nationalist, and not part of a wider scheme to facilitate the construction of a "Fourth Reich" within his country. When he took power, Argentina was one of the wealthiest nations on the globe as a result of its extensive exports of agricultural products to the Allies during the Second World War. In order to maintain prosperity in a postwar world, Perón believed that his country needed to establish a more diversified economy through industrialization. Such economic changes necessitated skilled workers that the country simply did not have, but which could be acquired through the immigration of Europeans, most notably Germans [approximately 22,400 arrived in Argentina between 1945 and 1949] seeking to start a new life outside of Europe. For the most part, then, according to the author, Perón ran his government primarily as a pragmatist and opportunist, not an ideologue.
To drive the point home that Argentina did not become a bastion of Nazism, the author points out that the many German technicians, engineers, and natural scientists who immigrated to the country had few political motives. For Schneppen, one must distinguish not only between Nazis and the majority of nonpolitical immigrants, but also between Nazis and the very small number of war criminals, as defined by the Allied Control Council Law No. 10 of December, 1945, who sought refuge in Argentina. Those individuals who actually had held high posts in the Nazi ruling structure and faced criminal charges in Germany comprised an extremely small percentage of immigrants, only about 2 or 3 percent. Schneppen outlines each of those biographies--twenty-three in total, according to a 1999 report of the independent commission [CEANA], which the Argentinean government had charged with investigating Nazi activities in the country. Most of the immigrants simply sought anonymity in a foreign land, rather than dreaming of establishing a "Fourth Reich." The task of acclimating to a new society and surviving was more than enough for them. Ultimately, the author concludes that, while one could certainly consider Argentinean behavior careless and morally questionable [or, at the very least, indifferent], the scholarly evidence refutes the notion of any concerted and calculated effort on the part of Peron's regime to help Nazi war criminals flee Europe.
While detailing the history surrounding Odessa, the Strasbourg Conference, and the Nazi-Argentinean connection, as well as questioning the evidence accounting for their existence, the author continues to explore the factors accounting for the rise and longevity of such legends in the first place. Certainly a careless use of unverified sources proved instrumental in enabling Odessa and the stories circulating around it to persist. Novelists, as well as the public at large, often eagerly took up the dramatic tales surrounding ODESSA, which were exciting, riveting tales full of mystery and intrigue.
Schneppen, however, points out that one must consider the genuine ideological as well as the more cynically political motivations of particular individuals, groups, and institutions propagating and disseminating the myths. Wiesenthal, as a survivor of the Nazi camps himself and an individual who dedicated his entire life to documenting Nazi crimes and hunting down perpetrators, was all too ready to truly believe that Nazis were lurking in secret, planning a resurgence through the solidification of a "Fourth Reich". After the conclusion of the Second World War, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. pointed to ODESSA and the supposed ever-present danger of a Nazi resurgence in order to bolster his case that the Allies needed to deindustrialize Germany for good in order to avoid any future conflicts arising from its people. Left-wing groups in the Federal Republic, as well as government officials, security services, and historians in the German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Union, propagated the myth in order to agitate against the rise of neo-Nazi movements in West Germany and strengthen the link in Marxist theory between fascism, monopoly capitalism, and imperialism. Throughout the postwar period, the danger of a "Fourth Reich" served as a pretext for the United States to conduct its interventionist policy throughout Latin America. During the Second World War itself, British radio, acting as German stations, spread stories about the widespread Nazi exodus of top Third Reich leaders, including the Führer himself, as well as the funds to support them, in order to break the morale of German fighting troops.
Harnessing a wide variety of archival, literary, and media resources form across the globe and spanning a half-century, Schneppen not only persuasively argues that ODESSA was a fiction, but offers a reflective and insightful commentary concerning the multiplicity of factors providing for the genesis and spread of the legend as well. In his analysis of the organization itself, the Strasbourg Conference of August, 1944, and the Nazi-Argentinean connection, the author reveals the dubious nature of the sources and points towards the political, economic, and international realities which seriously place into question the historical validity of all three "pillars" of the ODESSA idea.
Particularly concerning the third issue, the link between Nazism and Perón's Argentina, the author nonetheless perhaps establishes overly dichotomous immigrant categories of "nonpolitical" Germans, "Nazis," and "war criminals". These classifications may oversimplify the more nuanced nature of accommodation and complicity of Germans with Nazism. Increasingly, scholarly work in cultural history as well as Alltagsgeschichte [the history of everyday life] have pointed out the shortcomings of earlier analyses which have tended to portray the Third Reich as populated by Nazis, on the one hand, and Germans, on the other.  That is to say, instead of establishing categories of mutual exclusion, this research has increasingly sought to decipher the often complex, ambiguous, and dynamic ways in which Germans from all walks of life actually related to and participated in the National Socialist project of renewal and change. The subtle mixture of enthusiasm, devotion, uncertainty, and dismay that may have characterized the relationship of many ordinary Germans to Nazism is lost through the employment of rigid labels.
Ultimately, however, Schneppen's wider point that the movement of Germans to Argentina throughout the post-World War II period did not constitute a co-ordinated effort to lay the foundations for a "Fourth Reich" is sound, and indeed provides a strong conclusion to a formidable analysis refuting one of the most cryptic and enticing global myths of the post-World War II period.
. Paul Manning, Martin Bormann-Nazi in Exile [Secaucus: Lyle Stuart, 1981]; E. R. Carmin, Das Schwarze Reich: Geheimgesellschaften und Politik im 20. Jahrhundert [Munich: Heyne, 1997]; Frederick Forsyth, Die Akte Odessa [Munich: Piper, 1973]; Simon Wiesenthal, Ich jagte Eichmann. Tatsachenbericht [Gütersloh, Sigbert Mohn Verlag, 1961], Doch die Mörder leben [Munich: Drömer Knaur, 1967], Recht, nicht Rache [Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein Verlag, 1988]; Lew Besyminski, Auf den Spuren von Bormann [Zurich: Aurora Verlag, 1965]; Oliver Schroem, Stille Hilfe für braune Kameraden: Das geheime Netzwerk der Alt-und Neonazis [Berlin: Christoph Links Verlag, 2001]; Andreas Rosenfelder, 'Winnetous Erben,' Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 24 February 2005; and the series by Simon Wiesenthal: 'Doch die Mörder leben: Auf der Jagd nach flüchtigen NS-Vebrechern,' Der Spiegel, 33 [7 August 1967]: 52-62; [14 August 1967]: 60-73; [21 August 1967]: 68-80.
. Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008]; Andrew Stuart Bergerson, "Forum: Everyday life in Nazi Germany," German History 27 . For examples of the earlier view, see Thomas Childers, The Nazi Voter: The Social Foundations of Fascism in Germany, 1919-1933 [Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1983]; Detlev Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition, and Racism in Everyday Life [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989]; Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power [New York: Penguin, 2005]; Ian Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich: Bavaria 1933-1945 [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983], and The "Hitler Myth": Image and Reality in the Third Reich [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987].