The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part III: Battle Report

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

This is the third, and final, in a series of posts on the fate of the USS Lexington at the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 8, 1942.

The previous posts (1) described the Battle of the Coral Sea, included a transcript of portions of the log of the USS Lexington describing the action on May 8 1942, and included images of the entire log for that day and (2) presented a gallery of photographs.

On May 12, 1942, only four days after the battle, Captain Frederick C. Sherman submitted his battle report.  That report included a narrative of the events of May 7-8, drew conclusions about the action, and made numerous recommendations.

Lexington.Battle Report.1Lexington.Battle Report.2Lexington.Battle Report.3Lexington.Battle Report.4Lexington.Battle Report.5Lexington.Battle Report.6Lexington.Battle Report.7Lexington.Battle Report.8Lexington.Battle Report.9Lexington.Battle Report.10Lexington.Battle Report.11Lexington.Battle Report.12Lexington.Battle Report.13Lexington.Battle Report.14Lexington.Battle Report.15

 

 

In 1947, President Harry Truman presented the Legion of Merit to now-Vice Admiral Sherman.  The citation read, in part:

For exceptionally meritorious conduct . . . as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. LEXINGTON during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 7-8, 1942.  A skilled and resourceful leader, Vice Admiral (then Captain) Sherman directed his Air Squadrons in two daring attacks on enemy carriers and succeeded in sinking one and damaging or probably destroying another. . . .  When enemy dive bombers and torpedo planes staged a fierce counterattack, Vice Admiral Sherman handled his ship with superb seamanship, avoiding many torpedoes and bombs.  Later when an explosion made it necessary to abandon ship, he calmly conducted the orderly disembarkation of more than 2700 survivors who were subsequently rescued by accompanying vessels of the Task Force. . . .


Source: The battle report comes from: LEXINGTON, Serial 0100, May 15, 1942, World War II Action and Operational Reports (NAID 305236), Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. The text of the citation comes from Board of Decorations and Medals Alphabetical Awards Citation Files, 1920-1970, Entry UD-WW-85, (NAID 599836), Record Group 428: General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1947- .

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The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part II: Photographs

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

The previous post described the Battle of the Coral Sea, included a transcript of portions of the log of the USS Lexington describing the action on May 8 1942, and included images of the entire log for that day.

The following photographs were taken by unidentified Navy photographers during the May 8 action.  They provide a graphic portrayal of the events described in the Log.

Lexington.Photo.1.FINAL

The USS Lexington after the initial torpedo hits. You can see a Japanese torpedo plane approaching from the left. The smoke and spay on the water behind the plane is from anti-aircraft fire.

Lexington.Photo.2.FINAL

Not all the Japanese planes succeeded in getting through to their targets.

Lexington.Photo.3.FINAL

Deck of the Lexington sometime after 1400 hours by which time all planes had been landed.

Lexington.Photo.4.FINAL

The #2 gun position after a bomb hit. When this picture was taken the resulting fire had been extinguished.

Lexington.Photo.5.FINAL

About 1600 hours. Excess personnel are disembarking in boats and to life rafts. Alongside in the smoke is the USS Morris taking off sick and wounded.

Lexington.Photo.6.FINAL

Boats with excess crew and wounded moving away from the Lexington.

Lexington.Photo.7.FINAL

Crew leaving the Lexington. USS Morris taking off sick and wounded on the starboard side and USS Anderson (?) taking off crew from port side.

Lexington.Photo.8.FINAL

Excess crew leaving the ship. A small explosion has just taken place amidships.

Lexington.Photo.9.FINAL

A big explosion at about 1737 hours. Debris can be seen hitting the water.

Lexington.Photo.10.FINAL

The Lexington burning after the 1737 hours explosion.

Lexington.Photo.11.FINAL

Lexington after all hands had abandoned ship. Fires on deck and in superstructure.

In his battle report, Captain Sherman wrote:

The picture of the burning and doomed ship was a magnificent but sad sight.  The ship and crew had performed gloriously and it seemed too bad that she had to perish in her hour of victory. But she went to a glorious end, more fitting than the usual fate of the eventual scrap heap or succumbing to the perils of the sea.  She went down in battle, after a glorious victory for our forces in which the LEXINGTON and her air group played so conspicuous a part.

Despite the damage suffered by the Lexington, only about 216 of her crew died; about 2735 survived.  All losses were the result of air combat of the air group or torpedo and bomb hits and fire on board; no member of the crew drowned during evacuation of the ship.

NEXT: Battle Report


Source: The photographs are enclosures to LEXINGTON, Serial 0100, May 15, 1942, World War II Action and Operational Reports (NAID 305236), Record Group 38: Records of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

 

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The Death of a Lady: The USS Lexington (CV-2) at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Part I: The Log

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park. This is the first post in a three-part series.

After the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, imperial Japanese forces seemed unstoppable, winning battle after battle in the Philippines, and other places in the Pacific – Wake Island, Guam, Hong Kong, Thailand, North Borneo, Singapore, the Netherlands East Indies.  Only the April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Japan broke the monotony of Allied defeats.

By mid-April 1942, U.S. naval planners had determined that the Japanese planned to continue their expansion south and conquer the Coral Sea as part of a plan to capture all of New Guinea.

To counter that move, the U.S. established Task Force 17, a two-carrier naval force centered on the USS Yorktown (Captain Elliott Buckmaster) and the USS Lexington (Captain Frederick C. Sherman).  Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher commanded TF 17 from the Yorktown and Rear Admiral Aubrey W. Fitch commanded carrier operations from Lexington.  The opposing Japanese force was divided into three divisions aimed at capturing Port Moresby on New Guinea to control the straits between New Guinea and Australia and capturing Tulagi, one of the Solomon Islands.  The following is a simplified account of the Battle of the Coral Sea and leaves out much significant action not relevant to the document presented here.

The Japanese experienced early success, capturing Tulagi on May 3, which the Americans bombed to little effect on May 4.  On May 5 and 6, the opposing forces searched for each other.  May 7 was a day of maneuvering and long-distance skirmishing, including the sinking of the Japanese light carrier Shoho, leaving two heavy carriers intact.  The main action of the Battle of the Coral Sea took place on May 8, 1942, coincidentally just two days after the last American forces in the Philippines surrendered to overwhelming Japanese forces.  The opposing carrier groups located each other and launched attacks.  The Japanese had the advantage due to weather conditions.  American planes could not locate one Japanese carrier but damaged the second enough to put it out of action.  The Japanese attack, however, was more successful.  The Yorktown took one bomb hit.  The story on the Lexington was very different.

In his book The Two-Ocean War, distinguished naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison describes what happened to the Lexington this way:

The Japanese attack group . . . gave both American carriers a severe working-over . . . Lexington took two torpedoes and two bomb hits.  The end of the battle found “Lady Lex”   listing, with three fires burning but with her power plant intact.  There was every prospect of damage control quenching the fires when suddenly she was racked by two internal explosions which forced Captain Frederick Sherman to abandon ship.

The sequence and timing of those events and number of hits and explosions as presented in the Lexington‘s log is different and presents a more dramatic picture that helps bring to life the experience of a new kind of naval warfare.  The following are selections from the log presented as bullet-points.  The log was prepared from notes made contemporaneously with the events recounted.  Images of the entire log for May 8, 1942, are appended.

  • 0735 Commenced zigzagging in accordance with standard plan.

  • 0820 [R]eceived radio contact report of enemy.

  • 0850 [T]urned into the wind at 20 knots and between 0907 and 0924 launched attack group. . . .

  • 0930 [W]ent to general quarters and material condition Zed. Between 0930 and 0950 landed [planes] . . . for reservicing.

  • 0957 Changed speed to 15 knots.

  • 1013 [R]eceived report from Yorktown enemy bombers approaching; made 20 knots launched [planes]. . . .

  • 1016 [S]ighted heavy smoke from surface . . . about 20 miles.

  • 1023 [S]lowed to 15 knots and landed [planes]. . . .

  • 1030 [O]n signal changed course. . . .

  • 1042 [O]n signal changed speed to 20 knots.

  • 1044 [O]n signal took special cruising disposition V.

  • 1047-1050 [T]urned into wind and landed [planes]. . . . [R]esumed course.

  • 1057 [G]uide of disposition shifted to Yorktown. Radar reports many unidentified planes . . . distant about 58 miles approaching, turned into wind. . . .

  • 1101-1106 [L]aunched [planes].

  • 1106 [R]esumed course.

  • 1108 [C]hanged speed to 25 knots.

  • 1111 [A] signal to the force for course [change] . . . speed 20 knots was executed but course was not changed by this ship.

  • 1115. [F]irst enemy aircraft seen on port bow. As first torpedo was seen to drop rudder was put full right.

  • 1116 [G]unfire opened on enemy. Speed increased to 30 knots. Torpedo planes seen on starboard bow, rudder was put full left but before ship started to swing left, rudder was again put full right.

  • 1118 [T]orpedo hit port side about frame 50.

  • 1120 [H]eavy hit by torpedo about frame 72 port side.

  • 1120½ [T]orpedo hit port side near bow. Shock of second hit broke siren pull cord, jammed siren valve open.

  • 1121. [N]ear miss bomb port side about frame 50.

  • 1122 [T]orpedo hit near water line port side about frame 100. A bomb hit on flight deck port side near frame 60 . . . . Ship took up a list to port of about 6. A bomb hit near after end of stack, penetrated, and exploded inside stack.  A near miss bomb exploded off port side near frame 135.

  • 1130 [R]eport of damage gave boilers 2, 4, 6 out of commission, speed reduced to 25 knots. Ready service ammunition after end #2 gun gallery burning but fire there being extinguished using Amdyco equipment.  Ship turned to the right . . . .

  • 1133 [O]ne plane landing went over side – pilot . . . and passenger . . . picked up by U.S.S. Morris.

  • 1139 [S]lowed to 20 knots.

  • 1142 [S]lowed to 17 knots. All fires on flight deck out.

  • 1153 [S]teadied on course.

  • 1155 [T]urning left.

  • 1158 [S]teadied on course. . . . Repair parties inspecting and repairing damage.

  • 1200 Steaming as before . . . at 20 knots. Both elevators out of commission in up position.  List all removed from ship by shifting fluids.

  • 1230 [O]pened vents necessary for ventilation and turned into wind.

  • 1235 [A]ll fires below decks reported out.

  • 1243 [C]ommenced launching combat patrol.

  • 1247 [H]eavy explosion felt which vented up forward bomb elevator. Lost communication with central station.

  • 1259 [C]ompleted launching [planes] . . . .

  • 1313 [C]hanged course . . . .

  • 1317 [T]urned into wind.

  • 1319 [A]nother internal explosion felt. Rudder angle indicator and Dead Reckoning Tracer out of commission.

  • 1322-1328 [L]anded [planes] . . . .

  • 1336 [S]teady on course . . . . All communications in forward part of ship out of commission.

  • 1340 [T]urned into wind and launched [planes] . . . . Fires burning in forward part of ship below main deck.  Frequent light explosions felt.

  • 1351 Gyro compasses out of commission.

  • 1356 [C]hanged course . . . on signal and increased speed to 25 knots. Engine order telegraph out of commission.

  • 1400 [T]urned left into the wind to land returning attack group . . . . Radar out of commission.

  • 1413 [F]inished landing [planes] . . . . Changed course . . . .

  • 1443 [H]eavy explosion under forward elevator. Lost steering control from bridge.  All radios out of commission.  Steering by after steering station using sound power telephone to order setting for rudder.

  • 1453 [H]eavy explosion under forward elevator.

  • 1502 [S]peed slackening.

  • 1520 [H]eat of fire forward of “A” machinery unit space made that untenable. Secured A & B units and ordered personnel to abandon that space.

  • 1525 [A]n extra heavy explosion port side amidships. Heavy black smoke poured out stack.  Lost telephone communications to after steering and trick wheel.

  • 1530 [S]prinkled after magazines. Using engines powered by C & D units to maintain ship on course . . . .  Making good 12 to 15 knots.

  • 1540 [E]stablished telephone communication with after steering station by relay through main control over JV telephone.

  • 1540 [S]moke forced the abandonment of stations on stack, also air plot and communication stations.

  • 1544 [A]nother explosion on port side.

  • 1545 [A]bandon sky forward and surface forward.

  • 1548 [L]ost all pressure on fire main aft.

  • 1558 [S]everal small explosions under forward elevator. Fire on main deck out of control.  Communications to main control growing very faint.  Ordered main control to secure machinery and abandon engineering compartments.

  • 1600 Ship losing way. Hanger deck thick with smoke, fires visible under forward elevator, personnel assembling on flight deck . . . .  Injured ordered evacuated to cruisers standing by.

  • 1615 U.S.S. Morris came alongside, passed fire hoses on board in effort to combat fire.

  • 1645 [W]ater played on fire around forward elevator without success in extinguishing fire. With loss of speed a port list of 3 developed and ship took a trim down y the bow of about 2 feet.

  • 1652 [O]rdered all squadron & air department personnel and men not needed for working the ship to embark on USS Morris alongside.  Large cloud of steam and smoke came up from forward elevator.

  • 1700 [L]ist to port now 5.

  • 1706 [A] steam explosion rose on port bow.

  • 1707 Rear Admiral A.W. Fitch directed The Captain to have the ship abandoned.

  • 1710 [O]rder passed “All Hands abandon ship.”

  • All injured men on flight deck were lowered over the side to boats and life rafts. . . . Captain [Sherman] proceeded to inspect flight deck aft and after insuring all had abandoned, was last to leave going down a rope at stern about 1830 after several terrific explosions had scattered flames and debris over a large area of water.

  • At about 1945 USS Phelps fired torpedoes into hulk of U.S.S. Lexington and at 1956 the Lexington sank and as she sank three extremely heavy explosions were felt. Depth of water 2000 fathoms.

After seven minutes under direct attack and six hours of valiant work by her crew to save the ship, the Battle of the Coral Sea ended for the USS Lexington.

While perhaps a tactical victory for the Japanese, American loss of a scarce aircraft carrier was significant, the Battle of the Coral Sea was a strategic victory for the U.S. and its allies; Japan did not capture Port Moresby and never again pushed that far south.

Aside from the tactical and strategic results, the battle in the Coral Sea is notable because it was the first naval engagement in history where opposing ships never came within sight of each other.  The battle ushered in a new form of naval warfare in which big-gun ships had no role, with all action taking place at long range via carrier-based airplanes.

 

NEXT: A photo gallery


Sources:

The deck log of the U.S.S. LEXINGTON is found in RG 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978 (NAID 594258), Lexington (CV-2) – May 1942.  I thank my colleague Dr. Timothy Nenninger for bringing this log and related records to my attention.

Useful secondary sources are:

♦Samuel Eliot Morison, History of the United States Naval Operations in World War II: Volume IV: Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions, May 1942-August 1942 (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1949).  This is part of a 15 volume series.

♦Samuel Eliot Morison, The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1963).  This is a condensation of the larger 15-volume work noted above.

♦Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

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Walk the Line

Today’s post was written by Alan Walker, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

It’s all well and good to have defined boundaries between countries, but somebody has to go out and make sure that they are accurate. And that’s what survey teams from the Coast and Geodetic Survey did for many years, especially after boundary treaties between the United States and Canada were concluded in 1908 and 1925.

photo of a man looking through a scope on rocky terrain

From the report of Thomas Riggs, 1908 NAID 1411901

The survey parties submitted their final reports to the International Boundary Commission. Here is a box full of them, from surveys of the Alaska-Canada boundary, in the series Reports of Surveyors, 1906-1922 (NAID 1411901):

view of bound volumes in a box

Alaska Boundary Reports from Reports of Surveyors

The survey leaders kept daily diaries of their work. Here is a page from Frank H. Brundage’s diary (from the series Diaries, 1906-1940 NAID 1406970); his party surveyed the Vermont-Canada boundary:

diary page of Thursday September 1 and September 2

Page from F. H. Brundage Diary NAID 1406970

What’s fun about these records is that the survey parties took a lot of photographs on their travels.  Here is a view of Labonte’s Line House, mentioned in Brundage’s diary:

photo of Labont's Line house with a car and horse drawn buggy in front

Labonte’s Line House near North Troy, Vermont, 1927; 76-BS-FHB-1927-90

These line houses straddled the boundary; many survive today, with lines marked along the floors. A great tourist attraction, no matter which country you’re in.
Now you might think that the reports would be dry recitations of distances traveled, triangulation points established, and so on. Well, they do have those in abundance, but they also offer up flavorful accounts of daily life on the trail. Here is an excerpt from the report of O. M. Leland’s survey party in Alaska:

Great quantities of equipment were required for these surveys, which could last for months. The heliotrope, pictured here, was essential for establishing triangulation points on sunny days. These were in use until GPS rendered them obsolete.

Sure-footed companions (of the four-legged variety) were also necessary:

photo of men putting shoes on a horse

Thomas Riggs Report of Alaska-Canada Boundary, 1908 NAID 1411901

Boats were a necessity on many of these trips, and would certainly have been preferable to endless hiking.

photo of survey vessels on the banks of a river

Survey of J. H. can Wagenen, 1914 76-BS-JHvW-1914-17

But boats had their own problems:

text of a note: I had the misfortune to lose a 4x5 camera

D. W. Easton Report of Alaska-Canada Boundary, 1908 NAID 1411901

One advantage of having your own survey party was that you could name your vessels with whatever struck your fancy. This survey party had a hankering for German food:

photo of a raft on water

Thomas Riggs Report of Alaska-Canada Boundary, 1908 NAID 1411901

The party also named one of its triangulation markers “Sauerkraut.”
But even with such lighthearted moments, the parties faced many dangers. The going could be quite treacherous. Would you want to venture along these icy passages?

photos of a survey party on a glacier

W. F. Ratz Report of Alaska-Canada Boundary, 1908 NAID 1411901

Especially in Alaska, with its nearly 1,500 miles of shared border, the parties had to endure seemingly endless hikes over mountains and glaciers.  This surveyor takes a well-earned rest atop one of them. Note the triangulation marks etched into the photograph:

76-N-10863 Loafing on the Mountain - O.M. Leland Party, Coast Mountains of Alaska and Canada

O. M. Leland Party – Coast Mountains of Alaska and Canada, 1908 NAID 519372

Finally, a haunting double exposure. The Idaho Store and Hotel still exists at the border entry station at Eastport, Idaho.  This was taken during a 1936 boundary survey by Thomas Riggs:

76-BS-TR-1936-9 Double Exposure of Idaho Hotel and Store, 1936

Double Exposure of Idaho Hotel and Store, 1936 76-BS-TR-1936-9

The records of these surveys are rich in many kinds of detail, and as you read them you can almost imagine you’re out on the trail with these intrepid souls. I could imagine working on one of these parties for a summer; where do I sign up?

RG 76, PI-170 entry 376, box 21 - G. Clyde Baldwin and Party, 1908 Report

G. Clyde Baldwin Report of Alaska-Canada Boundary, 1908 NAID 1411901

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A Record of Protest

Today’s post is written by M Marie Maxwell, an archives specialist who works at Archives I.  

Recently, as a citizen, I attended a local community meeting regarding a contentious proposal, hosted by a city government department. Besides the subject being contentious, attendees against the proposal and the city representatives did not agree on how to voice the attendees’ wishes. The attendees against the proposal wanted to stand and individually speak on why they opposed what the government was planning. The city representatives wanted attendees to fill out feedback forms. The proposal opponents claimed the forms would just go straight to the trash.

And I immediately thought, “No, they wind up in the archives.”

In my years of processing, I have come across letters, petitions, and other records of citizens’ opposition or support buried among the federal records. It is not uncommon for federal agencies to have a comment period, where comments from the public are solicited regarding a rule, a project, or changes.

Of the records I have worked with, the voice of the public is found amongst other documents, as with the letters found in RG 328 Records of the National Capital Planning Commission Development Proposals Project Files, ca. 1970 – 2000 (NAID 2765725) in the files concerning the National Harbor, also known as Smoot Bay, and Port America. There are several boxes of files relating to this project, of which the public’s comments are just one of many related topics.

RG328a1-55-bx2Some letters were mailed in, some faxed as a group, and there appears to have been a public meeting on May 12, 1998 where comment sheets were made available. We have one such example received by the office on June 2, 1998. The author, a longtime resident of nearby Oxon Hill, Maryland, stated she opposed the project, worried that it would bring a “carnival atmosphere” and other undesirable qualities. A large number of the letters document opposition to the project, citing concerns over traffic, the environment or other residential concerns. Looking at the other folders regarding what was proposed one can see what examples were presented which brought forth phrases like “carnival atmosphere” and “theme park,” as well as the other concerns.

The records do not say what happened between the planning and study period and the completion of National Harbor in 2008 that is for the researcher to explore and discover. Because this series contains material about private and federal projects, researchers will need to allow time for staff to screen these records. It is worth the wait as there is information about the project that won’t be found in the local newspaper, for those researchers studying how a large development starts out.

Another series with public comment came to mind of something I recently processed. The letters and postcards in RG 302 Records of the National Capital Housing Authority Segregation and Integration of Public Housing Files, 1943 – 1956 (NAID 23902751). A portion of the series documents the public’s opinion of plans to not segregate several public housing developments in the District of Columbia. While there are a few letters supporting the end of racial and religious discrimination in public housing. In Mrs. Evelyn L. Petshek’s May 7, 1953 letter she wrote, “As a resident of that area I wish to go on record deploring the [Washington Heights Citizen Association protest of non-segregated housing] and to state that I sincerely hope that this housing will be used on a non-segregated basis.” There are letters from organizations, businesses and individuals opposing the housing authority’s experiment in opening a few projects to all applicants. Several of the letters cite property values as a reason for opposition as in the example from one real estate business. Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Hobbs, mention overcrowding and strained facilities as a reason for opposition.1953 anti-desegration letter

RG302-P-16ltr

 

The public’s opinion, be it opposition or support, was collected and is now preserved for researchers to examine and interpret. Feedback from the public can be just one part of the information kept as part of the project or effort that the creating agency wished to document. The opinions and thoughts of those in charge of a project are better known than of the person on the street, so it is interesting when I come across the voice of the common person, regardless if I agree or disagree on what they have to say.

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Douglas MacArthur Turns 70: Birthday Greetings from the Secretary of State

Today’s post was written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880.  As his 70th birthday approached, he was serving as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in occupied Japan.  In that position he had significant interaction with the Department of State.  In honor of the General’s birthday, Secretary of State Dean Acheson signed the telegram shown below.  The relationship between SCAP and the Department of State was, to put it mildly, not the best, so perhaps sending the telegram to celebrate this milestone birthday was an effort to improve connections at the policymaker level.  

711.551[1-2550

Telegram from the Secretary of State to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, 25 Jan 1950; 711.551/1-2550, RG 59

MacArthur responded with the following telegram:

711.551[1-2750

Telegram Z-35888 from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to the Secretary of State, 27 Jan 1950; 711.551/1-2750

Given the events of the next 15 months, this exchange of messages might reflect the high point in the contentious relationship between MacArthur and Acheson.  MacArthur’s actions in Korea after the Chinese intervention in the war there in late 1950 ultimately led President Truman to relieve the General of his command and led to a total rupture in the remaining professional and personal relationship between MacArthur and Acheson.  Acheson later referred to MacArthur as a “jackass” and in his memoirs referred to the damage MacArthur’s “willful insubordination and incredibly bad judgment” did to the U.S.  He further noted that his actions “diminished” the “effectiveness” of U.S. foreign policy.


Source: Secretary of State to Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Telegram, January 25, 1950, file 711.551/1-2550 and Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to the Secretary of State, Telegram Z-35888, January 27, 1950, file 711.551/1-2750 both in the Central Decimal Files, 1950-1954 (NAID 302021), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.

For more information on the MacArthur-Acheson relationship, see:

  • Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1969)
  • Robert L. Beisner, Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)
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The Search for Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate Part III

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the final part in a three part series.

General Truscott announced on December 29 that Third U.S. Army intelligence officers, after a long search, had uncovered important documents signed by Hitler. In announcing the find, Truscott was outspoken in his praise of the cooperation between the British counter intelligence and the 303rd CIC Detachment, the Third U.S. Army operatives who made the important discovery. Truscott indicated that the documents, some of which were to remain secret until further investigation by Third U.S. Army G-2 units could be completed, were of “inestimable value” in piecing together the whole picture of the closing days of the Nazis’ downfall. The desperation of those closing days, Truscott said, was shown by the “frantically penned” covering letter from Bormann to Doenitz.[1]

Before or after Truscott finished speaking on December 29, at the direction of the Assistant G-2, USFET, the Public Relations Branch of G-2, Third U.S. Army released to the world the first information of contents of Hitler’s Political Testament, Last Will, and other associated documents discovered. Not all the text of the two wills was released however. The press was given a summary of the circumstances of the discovery.[2] Not to be outdone publicity-wise, simultaneously with the Third Army’s announcement of the Hitler documents, British counter-intelligence officers reported the arrest of the man to whom the documents had been entrusted, Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin [Zander], identified as adjutant to Bormann. Readers of The New York Times on December 30 awoke to a page one story entitled “Hitler’s Private Will Found; Affirms His Suicidal Plans.”[3]

At Nuremberg on December 30 the British and Americans disclosed to the press the complete text of the Political Testament, as well the text of the personal will and marriage certificate as well as the Goebbels’ appendix.[4]

As the year ended British Major Peter Ramsbotham informed Trevor-Roper, then back at Bad Oeynhausen, that the Joint Intelligence Committee had referred the decision on what to say about Hitler’s will up to the Cabinet; but by then it was too late, as its discovery was being announced in banner headlines in newspapers around the world.[5]

At Herford, Germany on December 31 a British intelligence officer told the press that there could be no possible doubt that Hitler had perished with his bride in a bunker under the bomb-blasted chancellery. The officer, who disclosed the full story of how Hitler’s last documents were traced down through the combined efforts of British and American intelligence agents, said that the authenticity of the papers could not be questioned. The documents included the testaments and marriage contract-and exhaustive questions of all persons now in British hands who were known to have witnessed Hitler’s last hours have disclosed a full sequence of events that, the officer said, is accepted as the true version of Hitler’s death.  On the basis of accumulated evidence, the officer said that Hitler and Eva Braun died in the bunker about 3pm on April 30. The officer said that three complete sets of Hitler’s documents were made and the messengers were now in the Allies’ hands. The officer added that one set of the documents was still missing, and the captured messenger to whom it was entrusted had thus far refused to disclose its hiding place. He said that one set of the documents was a spare, possibly designed for posterity. One of the others was directed to Doenitz and the remaining one was for Schoerner; and added that neither set reached its destination. The messengers then in Allies’ hands, the officer reported, were Lorenz, Johannmeier, and Fredrich Wilhelm Paustin, alias Wilhelm Zander.[6]

A dispatch from the American Third Army’s headquarters in Bad Toelz, apparently on December 31, said that American intelligence had spent months running down every possible thread of evidence and were also convinced that Hitler had died with his wife.[7]

Weiss, after interrogating Zander, on December 30 made a report of the arrest and interrogation. As to the possible whereabouts of Martin Bormann, Zander stated that he last saw him on April 29 in the Bunker and claimed it was impossible for anyone to leave Berlin after he did.[8]  In forwarding the report through CIC channels Weiss’s supervisor reported that while publicity released from Third U.S. Army did not indicate the part played by Agent Weiss, that Weiss had played an important role in learning of Zander’s alias and location, as well as the location of the Hitler documents in Tegernsee.[9]

After Zander’s arrest, the interest switched again to Johannmeier whose story now had been shown to be untrue by Lorenz and Zander. Trevor-Roper met with him on January 1 and explained to him that Zander and Lorenz were both in Allied hands (he had already read in the newspapers about Zander’s arrest), and that in view of their independent but unanimous testimony, it was impossible to accept his statement that he had been merely an escort, and had not himself carried any documents. He nevertheless maintained his thesis for a period of two hours. He agreed that the evidence was against him, but insisted that his story was true. He gave a version of the words which Burgdorf had used when giving him his instructions to escort Zander and Lorenz. Asked if he was prepared to settle the matter in the presence of these others, he replied unhesitatingly, yes. Asked if could name any witness whose testimony might offset that of Zander and Lorenz, he stated that he had spoken to no one about his mission, and that the only man who knew the details was the man who had given it to him, General Burgdorf.  When told that Burgdorf was missing, and believed dead, he exclaimed “Dann ist meine letzte Hoffnung verschwunden, (Then my last hope is gone)” The position was put sympathetically to Johannmeier – that he must realize that the documents were already in Allied hands and that another revelation could add nothing to their knowledge, continued resistance to the evidence would entail his further, and perhaps indefinite imprisonment; but still he insisted that his story was the truth. He agreed to sign a written declaration to that effect. “If I had the documents, it would be senseless to withhold them now, but what I have not I cannot deliver. I cannot even prove that I have not got them?” By his otherwise unaccountable persistence in this story, by which he was condemning himself to imprisonment for no conceivable advantage to anyone, and by the ingenuousness of his protestations, Johannmeier had almost persuaded Trevor-Roper that these must after all be some flaw in the evidence against him, some element of truth in his improbable but unshakeable story.[10]

They were alone in the headquarters; everyone else had left for the holiday. Trevor-Roper had nowhere to put Johannmeier. He decided that he must admit failure and summon a truck to take him away.  Trevor-Roper left the room for two hours, trying to make a long-distance call. When he returned and began the mechanical questioning again (more to fill in the time than out of any hope of success) he became aware of a change in Johannmeier’s attitude.  Johannmeier, according to Trevor Roper, seemed already to have resolved his mental doubts, and after a little preliminary and precautionary fencing, in which he sought assurance that he would not be penalized, if he revealed his secret about the documents, he declared “Ich habe die Papiere! (I have the papers)” He stated that he had buried them in a garden of his home in Iserlohn, in a glass jar; and he agreed to lead Trevor-Roper to the spot and hand over the papers.[11]

On the long drive back to Iserlohn, Johannmeier spoke freely on various topics which were discussed.  When they stopped for a meal, Trevor-Roper asked him why he had decided to reveal the truth. Johannmeier said he had reflected that if Zander and Lorenz, both favored members who had risen high in the Party, had so easily consented to betray the trust reposed in them, it would be quixotic (for him) who was not a member of the Party or connected with politics, but who was merely carrying the documents in obedience to a military order, to endure further hardship to no practical purpose.  At Iserlohn they left the car some distance away, at Johannmeier’s request – he did not want the neighbors to see a British staff car outside his parents’ home. The two men walked together through the cold night to the house. It was now night-time and the ground had frozen hard. Johannmeier found an axe and together they walked out into the back corner of his garden. Johannmeier found the place, broke frozen surface of the ground with the axe, and dug up the glass bottle. Then he smashed the bottle with the head of the axe and drew out the documents, which he handed over to Trevor-Roper. They were the third copy of Hitler’s private and personal testament plus a vivid covering letter from Burgdorf to Schoerner describing the circumstances of its dictation, “under the shattering news of the treachery of the Reichsfuehrer SS.”  The Allies now had the three sets of documents that had been carried out of the bunker on April 29.[12]  Trevor-Report prepared a report to which he attached the documents and translations.[13] He returned to England early in 1946, and began writing a book about Hitler and his last days.[14]

Two sets of Hitler’s political testament and personal will ended up in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (file designation WO 208/3779).  The third set, and the marriage certificate (NAID 6883511), came to the National Archives in April 1946.  For that story, see my article in Prologue – “Hitler’s Final Words“.


[1] Draft press statement by Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, Commanding the Third U.S. Army and the Eastern Military district, Bad Tolz, December 29, 1945, File: Hitler, Adolf, XE003655 (NAID 7359097), Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, RG 319.

[2] Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section C, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of December 1945, pp. 1, 7, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army G-2 Operations Reports, 1945 – 1947 (NAID 5896761), RG 498; Hitler’s Marriage Contract and Testaments, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, G-2 Weekly Intelligence Report No. 32, for Week Ending 021200A January 1946, attachment to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, ibid.; Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264), RG 238; United Press, “Texts of Hitler and Goebbels Documents Seized by the Allies,” The New York Times, December 31, 1945, p. 6.

[3] Associated Press, “Hitler’s Private Will Found; Affirms His Suicidal Plans,” The New York Times, December 30, 1945, pp. 1, 6.

[4] United Press, “Texts of Hitler and Goebbels Documents Seized by the Allies,” The New York Times, December 31, 1945, p. 6.

[5] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 141; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, p. 278.

[6] Associated Press, “British Satisfied of Hitler’s Death,” The New York Times, January 1, 1946, p. 18.

[7] ibid.

[8] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) RG 319. Weiss suggested that CIC Headquarters at USFET be contacted for further exploitation of information which Zander might be able to supply. He opined that Zander might be able to furnish information for use in War Crimes Trial of Bormann (in absentia) at Nuremberg. ibid.

[9] Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054).

[10] Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: JOHANNMEIER, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546), Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, ca. 1977 – ca. 2004, RG 319; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters (NAID 2152314, Publications Files, 1946-1951, RG 319

[11] Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: JOHANNMEIER, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters (NAID 2152314); Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 141; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, p. 279.

[12] Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: JOHANNMEIER, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters (NAID 2152314); Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 141-142.

[13] Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: JOHANNMEIER, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546).

[14] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 142. Maj. H. R. Trevor-Roper, “Hitler—New Light on a Dark Career,” The New York Times, March 17, 1946 and H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947).

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The Search for Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate, Part II

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the second post of a multi-part series.

Hugh Trevor-Roper set out for the American Zone, probably on or about December 21, 1945.[1] On December 21, responding to a phone conversation between British and American counterintelligence officers, the British sent a photograph of Wilhelm Zander to the American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in Frankfurt for use by Trevor-Roper or for assistance in their own investigations into Zander’s whereabouts.[2] Trevor-Roper on December 21 or 22 went to the American internment camp in Frankfurt to search their records and found nothing regarding Zander.[3] On one of those days Trevor-Roper provided information to the CIC United States Forces European Theater (USFET) in Frankfurt regarding Zander, and informed them that Zander was wanted because he had knowledge of whereabouts of Martin Bormann and others from the Bunker, Adolf Hitler’s wills, as well as related information. Trevor-Roper informed the Americans that Zander had been seen in Berlin April 28; in Hannover in May; and, had left Hannover for Munich that same month.[4] Trevor-Roper, with clearance papers from CIC HQ USFET, then drove the 200 miles from Frankfurt to Munich, probably on December 22 or December 23.[5]

On December 24 Trevor-Roper contacted CIC Munich Sub-Regional Office and asked it for assistance in locating Zander and to aid in the recovery of Hitler’s personal and political testaments, documents indicating marriage to Eva Braun, and the diary of Bormann. Trevor-Roper told the Americans that he had information from British territory to indicate that Zander, who had been Bormann’s adjutant to the German Army, had taken these papers from Berlin shortly before the city capitulated to the Russians. It appears that day Trevor-Roper did not have contact with CIC agent Arnold H. Weiss, but only with a few soldiers detailed to help him, who already knew of the interest in finding Zander, but not much else. It appears that Trevor-Roper that day located Zander’s flat and searched it for the documents.[6]    

While in Munich Trevor-Roper casually discovered some evidence which satisfied him that Zander was alive and living under an assumed name in that area. The immediate problem was to find the assumed name. This was achieved in consequence of a lengthy interrogation by American CIC of a woman friend who had seen him since his arrival. The name, subsequently confirmed from another interrogation, was Friedrich-Wilhelm Paustin; and he had worked in a market garden in Tegernsee.[7]

Meanwhile, Weiss, through local confidential informants, learned that Zander was rumored to be in Tegernsee, living under an alias; that Zander had been in Tegernsee from May 28 to May 30, 1945 under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin.[8] Then, just before Christmas, Weiss received a call from the CIC field office in Munsingen. A Paustin had registered for a residence permit with the local police in a small German village near the Czech border called Vilshofen.[9]

When Trevor-Roper met with Weiss, Weiss told him Zander was using the name Paustin and was posing as a farmhand for someone named Irmgard Unterholzner in a village not too far from Munich called Tegernsee. By the time Weiss and Trevor-Roper arrived, Zander had left. [10] On December 26, while visiting a 303rd CIC Detachment Trevor-Roper, supplied a tip that Zander was living in the Tegernsee area under the alias of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. He stated that Paustin had in his possession unspecified documents, among which was the marriage license of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.[11]

On December 27, the CIC checked to determine if a Paustin was in fact located in the Tegernsee area. Records relating to a Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin were found which showed that a person by that name had been a patient in the German Military Hospital “Seeheim” from June 6 until June 24, when he was released to the Bad Aibling Prisoner of War Enclosure for discharge. A check of the CIC Registry of this item indicated that a Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin was living and employed at Bahofstrasse 87, Tegernsee. Trevor-Roper proceeded to Tegernsee and a raid was made by him, Special Agent Ernst J. Mueller of the 303rd CIC team, and two German policemen. Paustin/Zander was not at home and it was learned from Frau Keilberth, his employer, and the local CIC, that he had left on December 22 for the town of Aidenbach in company of Ilsa Unterhozner. Trevor-Roper decided that he would travel to Aidenbach in an effort to apprehend Zander, and requested that the 303rd CIC team make an effort to locate the documents believed to have been in Zander’s possession. A search of Paustin’s room at Bahnhofstrasse 87, failed to uncover any documents whatsoever. A further search in the home of a gardener, Rauh, in Tegernsee, where Paustin had lived previously also produced no results.[12]

With the lead to Aidenbach, Trevor-Roper, accompanied by Weiss, and apparently a CIC officer named Rosener, in a jeep set out from Munich on the night of December 27 for the 90-minute drive to Aidenbach. Clearing through the Regional CIC office and the Degendorf Sub-Regional Office, where an agent named Brickmann joined them, sometime between 3am and 4am on December 28 they found the farmhouse where Zander was supposedly staying. Trevor-Roper posted an American soldier with a revolver at each corner, and knocked on the door. There was no answer. Trevor-Roper ordered a German policeman to climb through the window and open the door. Inside, they found a man in bed who claimed to be a merchant named Wilhelm Paustin. With him was Ilsa Unterholzner. Both were arrested. Trevor-Roper made them dress, and then, with Weiss, drove them back to Munich for interrogation.[13]   

Ilsa Unterholzner claimed that although she had known Zander for five years and knew his complete background she had no knowledge of the documents that he had carried and the mission that had taken him out of Berlin on April 29.[14]

Under interrogation on December 28, Zander admitted his true identity and spoke freely. He gave his story about the documents and his travels, and revealed the location of the documents. Weiss immediately notified the CIC at Tegernsee where the documents were located. As it turned out, also on December 28 the Tegernsee police reported to the local CIC that a Frau Irmgard Unterholzner had called them to report that Paustin had stored a suitcase in her home sometime in June.[15] She volunteered this information because she had heard from her sister (Frau Keilberth) that the CIC had searched Paustin’s room. 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303rd CIC immediately picked up the suitcase at Frau Unterholzner’s home and took it to the CIC office in Tegernsee, where a thorough search by Special Agent Ernst J. Mueller disclosed a camouflaged packet containing several documents. A close examination revealed that the documents, all dated April 29, were an original marriage license of Hitler and Braun, witnessed by Bormann and Goebbels; an original signed Political Testament of Hitler, witnessed by Goebbels, Bormann, Krebs and Bergdorf; original signed Private Testament of Hitler witnessed by Bormann, Goebbels and Nicholaus von Below. Also found was a hand-written letter of transmittal of the documents from Bormann to Doenitz; three photographs, two of woman believed to be Braun, and one of an unknown boy of about 12 years of age; one travel pass dated May 16, 1945, issued by the Bürgermeister of Einbeck to a Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. The documents were turned over to Maj. Anthony W. Lobb, Chief, Third US Army CIC, on the afternoon of December 28.[16]    

Meanwhile, at some point on December 28, the, G-2, Third U.S. Army telephoned the Civilian Internment Enclosure at Moosburg (S-2, 2nd Bn, 47th Infantry Regiment received the message), to notify Maj. Trevor Roper, to report any information he obtained to Third Army G-2 and that he was not to move anyone out of area without notifying the Counterintelligence Branch.[17] Whether or not Trevor-Roper received this message is not known, but in any case that day after arriving back in Munich he drove straight to the headquarters of the Third U.S. Army at Bad Toelz (some 30 miles southwest of Munich), and reported his findings to the commanding officer, General Lucian K. Truscott.[18] That evening the CIC learned that Zander alias Paustin, had been apprehended by Trevor-Roper, they believed at Vilshofen, and was last reported to be in custody in Munich.[19]

The G-2 Third Army quickly reported by TWX to G-2, USFET the capture and recovery of the documents. That night the documents were photo-copied and translated by the Military Intelligence Section, of the Intelligence Branch, of G-2, Third U.S. Army. Later the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, USFET directed that a description of the documents and a summary of the circumstances of the discovery be released to the press. The Military Intelligence Section began supervising the release of the facts of the discovery and certain quotations to the press.[20]

On December 29, the documents themselves were forwarded to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, USFET.[21] The Allies now had two of the three sets of the documents.


Footnotes:

[1] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, p. 276.

[2] Memorandum, [name illegible] for Brigadier, Counter Intelligence Bureau, GSI(b), HQ, BAOR to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater, Attn: Capt. Smith, Subject: Standartenfuehrer Willy Zander, December 21, 1945, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[3] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140.

[4] Edwin (?), B. Smith, Officer in Charge, Summary of Information: Willi Zander, Source: Major Trevor-Roper, GSI HQ BAOR, December 22, 1945, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[5] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, Records of the Investigative Records Repository, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Intelligence, ibid.; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140.

[6] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Document Library Branch, Administrative Division, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), Intelligence, ibid.; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140.

[7] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319.

[8] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[9] Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005.

[10] Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005.

[11] Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (National Archives Identifier 305264), Record Group 238; Hitler’s Marriage Contract and Testaments, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, G-2 Weekly Intelligence Report No. 32, for Week Ending 021200A January 1946, attachment to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498; Memorandum, 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303 CIC Det, Headquarters, Third United States Army to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army, Subject: Documents in Luggage of Wilhelm Zander, Alias Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, December 28, 1945, File: 370.2 1945, Captured Documents, 1945, Classified Decimal Files Regarding Captured Documents, 1945 (NAID 5674542) Record Group 498. Another copy of Fial’s December 28 report is contained in Annex No. 4 (Subject: Report on Hitler Documents found at Tegernsee) to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section C, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of December 1945, p. 9, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 4 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; ; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498.

[12] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Memorandum, 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303 CIC Det, Headquarters, Third United States Army to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army, Subject: Documents in Luggage of Wilhelm Zander, Alias Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, December 28, 1945, File: 370.2 1945, Captured Documents, 1945, Classified Decimal Files Regarding Captured Documents, 1945 (NAID 5674542) Record Group 498.

[13] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Unterholzner, Ilsa, Re: Secretary of Martin Bormann, December 30, 1945, ibid.; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1946-1951, Document Library Branch, Administrative Division, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), Intelligence, ibid.; G-2 Journals (for January 1946), January 1, 1946, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498; Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, pp. 277-278; Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005. According an account apparently given by Weiss to a reporter, as the Military Police broke down the door, a shot rang out from the house. The Military Police found the startled Zander naked in bed with a women (not his girlfriend) and quickly overpowered him. Weiss grabbed Zander’s Italian Beretta-a memento he kept. Weiss told Zander they had come to arrest him and asked him his name. He said Paustin and produced an identity card. Weiss said it was a fake and he was taken into custody and taken to Munich. Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005. In a letter awarding Weiss the Army Commendation medal for service performed December 24 to 28, 1945, Brig. Gen. Edwin L. Silbert [Sibert], Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, USFET, wrote “When called upon in an emergency you assumed the responsibility of apprehending a personality high in the annals of the Nazi system.” Bruce Weber, “Arnold Weiss Dies at 86; helped to Find Hitler’s Will,” The New York Times, January 1, 2011, p. A22.

[14] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Unterholzner, Ilsa, Re: Secretary of Martin Bormann, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[15] It is possible that Zander gave her the suitcase in June as well as again on December 22 as noted earlier.

[16] Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Memorandum, 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303 CIC Det, Headquarters, Third United States Army to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army, Subject: Documents in Luggage of Wilhelm Zander, Alias Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, December 28, 1945, File: 370.2 1945, Captured Documents, 1945, Classified Decimal Files Regarding Captured Documents, 1945 (NAID 5674542) Record Group 498; Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section C, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of December 1945, pp. 1, 8, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498; G-2 Journals (for January 1946), January 1, 1946, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; ibid.; Hitler’s Marriage Contract and Testaments, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, G-2 Weekly Intelligence Report No. 32, for Week Ending 021200A January 1946, attachment to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, ibid.; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, Records of the Investigative Records Repository, Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Intelligence, ibid.; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140. According to one account, apparently based on Weiss’ memory, in Munich Zander was interrogated immediately. Trevor-Roper as the senior officer, led the questioning, and Weiss acted mostly as interpreter. For 10 hours they grilled Zander, who initially continued to insist that his was a case of mistaken identity. After more questioning, and letting him know they had had his mother and sister, Zander finally admitted his real identity. He spoke nonstop for six hours. Trevor-Roper was mainly interested in the events of the last 48 hours in the bunker. Almost as an afterthought, Weiss asked Zander why he had left the bunker. Zander said he was sent on an important mission as a courier, and said “I suppose you want the documents.” Absolutely, said Weiss, even though he had no idea what Zander was talking about and asked Zander where they were. That same day Zander led Weiss and Trevor-Roper back to Tegernsee, where he had originally hid out. There was a dry well at the back of the Unterholzener property, and he pointed down it. Weiss retrieved a fake-leather suitcase from the bottom. At first glance it contained only Zander’s discarded SS uniform. But upon closer inspection, a hidden compartment was found. In it was a plain manila envelope. Weiss tore it open. And said in German “Oh my God.” Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005.

[17] G-2 Journal, December 28, 1945, File: G-2 Journals, Report of Operations, December 1945, Annex No. 2 to  G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498.

[18] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 141.

[19] Memorandum, 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303 CIC Det, Headquarters, Third United States Army to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army, Subject: Documents in Luggage of Wilhelm Zander, Alias Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, December 28, 1945, File: 370.2 1945, Captured Documents, 1945, Classified Decimal Files Regarding Captured Documents, 1945 (NAID 5674542) Record Group 498.

[20] Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section C, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of December 1945, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947 (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498; Hitler’s Marriage Contract and Testaments, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, G-2 Weekly Intelligence Report No. 32, for Week Ending 021200A January 1946, attachment to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, ibid.; G-2 Journals (for January 1946), January 1, 1946, Annex No. 2 to Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section A, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of January 1946, p. 1, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 1 January-31 March 1946, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, ibid.

[21] Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238.

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The Search for Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate, Part I

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the first post of a multi-part series.

HF1-112492431_2009_002

Cover page to Adolf Hitler’s Political Testament, Personal Will, and Marriage Certificate (National Archives identifier 6883511)

The three couriers Heinz Lorenz, Wilhelm Zander, and Willi Johannmeier, carrying copies of Adolf Hitler’s political testament, personal will, and marriage certificate, who had left Hitler’s bunker in Berlin eventually made their way to Potsdam and Brandenburg. On May 11 they crossed the Elbe at Parey, between Magdeburg and Genthin, and passed ultimately, as foreign workers, into the area of the Western Allies, transported by American trucks. By this time the war was over, and Zander and Lorenz lost heart and easily convinced themselves that their mission had now no purpose or possibility of fulfillment. Johannmeier allowed himself to be influenced by them, although he still believed he would have been able to complete his mission.[1]

The three men split up at this point. Zander and Lorenz went to the house of Zander’s relatives in Hannover. There the two men parted and Zander proceeded south until he reached Munich on May 28 where he stayed with his wife Felicitas at 4 Kepler Strasse. After two days Zander went to Tegernsee (some 30 miles southeast of Munich), an area, that as late as December was considered a “hot spot” due to many high ranking Nazis hiding there. At Tegernsee, Zander hid his documents in a trunk. He changed his name, his identity, his status, his few friends let it be known that he was dead; and began an altogether new life under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. He was able to obtain a blank paybook from an abandoned Wehrmacht stock in the Tegernsee area and on the basis of this other identification papers were issued to him. Under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, he entered the German Military Hospital “Seeheim” from June 6 until June 24, when he was released to the Bad Aibling Prisoner of War Enclosure for discharge. He then traveled, apparently, to Tegernsee. Johannmeier meanwhile went to his family’s home in Iserlohn in Westphalia, and buried his documents in a bottle in the back garden. Lorenz decided to live under a cover name and to await events. Lorenz eventually ended up in Luxembourg and found work as a journalist under the assumed name of George Thiers.[2]    

With the war over and things returning somewhat to normal, Heinz Lorenz thought the time was ripe to disclose that he had information of great interest. During the first week of November, using an alias, and posing as a journalist from Luxembourg, he approached the British authorities in Hannover for work and offered to give details of life inside Hitler’s bunker. Questions were asked as to how he had acquired this knowledge. As his answers were not clearly expressed, suspicions were aroused and he was subsequently arrested for possessing false identity papers. It was decided to send him to Fallingbostel, where the British had established a camp, using the former Stalag 11B for allied prisoners, to hold suspected war criminals and others under the “Arrest” category. There they were immediately searched by army personnel for any items or materials of intelligence value. Many of the Germans were found to have “smoking gun” material. This material was handled at Fallingbostel by the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section, under the command of Captain Rollo Reid. This Section included five Jewish German-born bilingual British soldiers. They did translation and interrogation work. When Lorenz arrived at the camp, during a routine search a corporal noticed the unusual bulkiness of the man’s shoulder pads. He asked him to remove his jacket and then proceeded to rip open the shoulders and found a number of documents. He instantly recognized that these must be documents of importance, even though they were typed in German and he could not understand them. Seeking advice, he put them in a safe place and telephoned Reid. This was in the middle of the night. The corporal gave him a brief description of the find and Reid realized that the documents needed immediate investigation. When arriving at the office Reid discovered that the signature shown to him on some of the documents appeared to be that of Hitler. He now needed urgent confirmation and at 5am called in five of his men who spoke German and locked the door.[3]

In the early hours of the morning Reid proceeded to distribute the documents among the five men. He asked them whether they could identify what they held in their hands. Unanimously they burst out saying “This is Hitler’s Will. Not a copy but the original.” The pages changed hands. They carefully read and scrutinized the papers and confirmed earlier findings. Reid then had the five men translate Hitler’s wills and Goebbels’ addendum. They retired to their offices, one man per office and were ordered to lock the door. They were not to be disturbed until they had finished their translations.[4]

After finishing the translations, they exchanged documents and notes, carefully scrutinizing each other’s translations. Reid pressed them to finish the job quickly, as he had somewhat prematurely contacted Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks, commander of XXX Corps, informing him of the find of “some very important documents.” Equipped with the originals of both the political testament and personal will, and Goebbels’s appendix, as well as the translations, Reid and four others set off for headquarters. They arrived well before noon. They were immediately ushered into Horrock’s office. Before perusing the documents Horrocks dismissed his staff and spoke privately with Reid and his men. He was then shown the original documents and their translation. Very briefly he questioned them and explained that his next step would be to telephone London to ascertain the genuineness of the papers. He then brought out champagne and made a short speech, complimenting them on the swift and efficient way that they had dealt with this exceptional find. Back at Fallingbostel the men received instructions not to divulge their find to anyone, but to exercise complete silence.[5]

During an interrogation of Lorenz by the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section he admitted that his real name was Heinz Lorenz, and that he had been Goebbels’ Press Attaché, whose primary responsibility had been to monitor enemy radio broadcasts. It was he who had brought Hitler news of Himmler’s attempt to negotiate with the Allies. He was then interrogated in great detail. He spoke freely, and the section’s assessment of him at the time was that he was a Mitlaeufer (someone who ran with the pack). After a long process of interrogation Lorenz at last told a story which was believed to be true. He said that he, together with Wilhelm Zander (assistant to Bormann) and Willi Johannmeier (assistant to General Burgdorf), left Hitler’s bunker on April 29, having each received a set of documents which they were ordered to deliver to Field Marshal Schoerner, Admiral Doenitz, and to Munich for preservation and eventual publication. Lorenz had been interrogated in detail on how he came into possession of these documents and he gave a story of the last days in the Bunker. Lorenz’s story was checked against all available evidence and appeared to be entirely reliable. The signatures on the documents were compared with other signatures of Hitler, Bormann, and Goebbels and pronounced by an expert to be genuine. They were also shown to Otto Dietrich, Hitler’s Press Chief, and were immediately recognized by him.[6] The members of the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section were then given strict orders that the arrest of Lorenz should in no way be discussed outside the section and above all it should not be leaked to the press.[7]

The British knew that of the two people Lorenz identified, Johannmeier was believed to have been in the bunker, and to have left it shortly before Hitler’s death; but nothing further was known about Zander. However, in his interrogations Lorenz gave enough information to trace Zander, as well as Johannmeier.[8]

Hugh Trevor-Roper, who had spent October in Germany tracking down evidence of Hitler’s death, had been in Oxford only about ten days when he received a telephone call from Bad Oeynhausen informing him that a document had been found, which appeared to be Hitler’s will. He had already seen a telegram referring to a “personal testament” among Doenitz’s papers, so he was predisposed to believe it to be genuine. He was soon able to examine it himself, after a photostatic copy was couriered to him. Accompanying this personal testament was a political testament. Also attached was an appendix signed by Goebbels. Trevor-Roper flew to Germany to resume his Hitler investigation. He did so believing that the sets of documents carried by Johannmeier and Zander could be traced, this would establish authenticity of the wills beyond doubt.[9]

Trevor-Roper had never heard of Zander, but was familiar with the name Johannmeier, whom he knew to have been on Burgdorf’s staff. Johannmeier was traced living quietly with his parents in Iserlohn, in the British Zone of Occupation, some 90 miles southeast of Bad Oeynhausen. Trevor-Roper had him detained on December 20 and interrogated. He denied everything, and his interrogator, a twenty-two year old captain, was inclined to release him. Dissatisfied, Trevor-Roper decided to go to Iserlohn to interrogate Johannmeier himself. Eventually, after long questioning, Johannmeier admitted that he had been in the bunker, but he continued to deny any knowledge of Hitler’s will. His story was that he had been ordered to escort Lorenz and Zander through Russian lines. He understood them to be carrying documents, but claimed to be ignorant of what these were. Even when shown the copies he insisted that he had never seen them before. He was a simple soldier, no more. Frustrated, Trevor-Roper gave orders that Johannmeier should be kept in detention over the Christmas period. Trevor-Roper knew that further progress was not possible till further evidence could be obtained from Zander.[10]

Trevor-Roper then returned to Bad Oeynhausen. There he heard from British Major Peter Ramsbotham that the military high-ups were panicking: no one wanted the responsibility of deciding what to do about Hitler’s will. The decision had been passed up the line to the Joint Intelligence Committee in London. “This is an historical document,” Ramsbotham said, “who are these brass-hats that they should feebly demand the suppression of historical documents?” Equally exasperated, Trevor-Roper made a bold proposal. Zander’s home was in Munich, in the American Zone. “Give me a car, for ten days, and I will look for Zander, and if I should find him and his documents I should of course have to hand the documents over to the American authorities; and if they should choose not to suppress but to publish them, that would be too bad, but it would be no business of ours: for the choice is theirs.”[11] Trevor-Roper would indeed be going to Munich where he would meet American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) agent Arnold Hans Weiss, who was also on the trail of Zander.

While Trevor-Roper was conducting his investigation, Weiss and his counterintelligence team, working out of an office in Munich, were similarly charged with hunting down members of Hitler’s inner circle and finding evidence of Hitler’s death. Weiss was born Hans Arnold Wangersheim on July 25, 1924, to a middle-class family of assimilated Jews that had lived in Franconia for nearly four centuries. He was six when his parents divorced in 1930. His mother Thekla Rosenberg took custody of Weiss and his two sisters. Their father provided no financial support. On her bookkeeper’s salary she could not afford to raise three children, so kept the two sisters and sent Arnold in either 1930 or 1931 to an Orthodox Jewish orphanage in Furth, near Nuremberg. He got to see his mother and sisters for a few hours every few months and his maternal grandmother’s apartment was within walking distance and he visited her at least once a week. One of his classmates was Henry Kissinger, who had been born in Furth in 1923.[12]

Weiss fled Germany in 1938, as did the Kissinger family, after his bar mitzvah and made his way to the United States with the help of a Quaker group. He only had a cardboard suitcase and $5, and did not speak a word of English or know a single person. He eventually was taken in by a family from Janesville, Wisconsin. After high school he went to a watchmaker’s college. Later, he was able to help get his mother and sisters to the United States. In 1942, he joined the United States Army Air Corps as a B-17 gunner. During a crash landing he broke both his legs, and because of his German language skills, soon found himself joining the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps.[13]

Weiss returned to Nuremberg in the spring of 1945 with the 45th Division. He helped liberate Dachau, where he learned that his father had been there and would learn later he had survived and immigrated to Brazil with a new wife. Later he learned that his grandmother had been taken to Auschwitz and did not survive.[14]

Now, Weiss in the fall, with CIC special agent Rosener, was on the trail of Martin Bormann and other top Nazis that may have survived and been hiding in the American Zone. Weiss vaguely knew that Bormann’s adjutant was from Munich. Weiss scoured the records and discovered that his adjutant, Wilhelm Zander, indeed hailed from Munich, and was still unaccounted for. Zander not only might know where Bormann was hiding, as there was a good chance that he had been in the bunker just before the Red Army stormed it. Weiss rounded up his mother and sister who told him that Zander had a 21-year old girlfriend living in Munich and Weiss had her arrested. She told him that she had been Zander’s lover and that she had seen him six weeks earlier. She told Weiss the alias Zander was using and where he was hiding. Weiss immediately sent a message to CIC headquarters in Frankfurt. It notified British intelligence, which dispatched Trevor-Roper to join Weiss in the chase.[15] This was probably on or about December 20.

The Allies had no trace of Zander since he had left the bunker and began his travels with Lorenz and Johannmeier, that is, until Weiss was able to obtain information about him. By all accounts from his parents-in-law in Hanover and from his wife and her circle in Munich, Zander was missing, never having reached his home in Munich after separating from Lorenz in Hanover. Frau Zander produced elaborate evidence of this and of her own genuine desire to discover news of him, by naming all his other relatives, producing photographs and references, and other evidence. All of this was designed to mislead the hunters. Information contained in the files of the Munich CIC office in the fall indicated that Zander was presumed to be dead.[16]

Apparently at the end of June or beginning of July Zander began working as a landscaper for some time and as a janitor in Tegernsee. In August Ilsa Unterholzner[17], who had been one of Bormann’s secretaries, by chance met Zander, whom she had known, at Tegernsee where Zander was then working as a gardener. In October Unterholzner went to Aidenbach (about 100 miles northeast of Tegernsee) to visit her sister, Mrs. Schmidt, and then invited Zander to spend his Christmas vacation with them in Aidenbach. Zander left Tegernsee on December 22 for Aidenbach in company of Unterholzner, who had apparently been visiting her sister-in-law in Tegernsee.  Before making the trip to Aidenbach, Zander gave Unterholzner’s sister-in-law, Irmgard Unterholzner, at Tegernsee, a suitcase containing the documents and told her to keep it until his return.[18]

Meanwhile, Trevor-Roper set out for the American Zone, probably on or about December 21.[19]


Footnotes

[1] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: XE013274, Willi Johannmeier, ibid.; H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947), pp. 219-220; Adam Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010), p. 139.

[2] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Memorandum, 2nd Lt. Edgar A. Zaharia, Civilian Internment Camp No. 6, Headquarters, 9th Infantry Division to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Headquarters United States Forces, European Theater (Main), Attn: Chief, CIB, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, April 20, 1946, ibid.; Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1946-1951, Document Library Branch, Administrative Division, Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2), Intelligence, ibid.; Memorandum, Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army to Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel, International Military Tribunal, Subject: Circumstances of Discovery of Hitler’s Wills, January 11, 1946, Hitler’s Private Testament and Political Testament, April 29, 1945, File: 3569-PS, United States Evidence, 1945-46, (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Col. Edward M. Fickett, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third U.S. Army, Section C, Appendix III, G-2 Section, Report for the Month of December 1945, p. 9, File: G-2 Section, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Quarterly “Report of Operations,” 4 October-31 December 1945, Appendix III, Historical Division; Program Files; Third U.S. Army; G-2; Operations Reports, 1945-1947, (NAID 5896761) Record Group 498; Memorandum, 1st Lt. Allen Fial, 303 CIC Det, Headquarters, Third United States Army to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Third United States Army, Subject: Documents in Luggage of Wilhelm Zander, Alias Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, December 28, 1945, File: 370.2 1945, Captured Documents, 1945, Classified Decimal File, (NAID 5674542) Administrative Branch, G-2 Section, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 220; Herman Rothman, ed. by Helen Fry, Hitler’s Will, The History Press (Glocestershire, United Kingdom, 2009), pp. 101, 103. In his December 30, 1945, report Arnold H. Weiss indicates at one point that Zander was in Munich May 28-30 and in another part of the same report that Zander was in Tegernsee on those days. Most likely Zander was in Munich May 28-30, before going to Tegernsee.

[3] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Rothman, Hitler’s Will, pp.  88-90, 98-100, 101, 103, 108; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 138-139.

[4] Rothman, Hitler’s Will, pp. 104, 105.

[5] Rothman, Hitler’s Will, pp. 106, 107.

[6] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Rothman, Hitler’s Will, pp. 101, 102, 103; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 139.

[7] Rothman, Hitler’s Will, pp. 103-104.

[8] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Rothman, Hitler’s Will, p. 108.

[9] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 138, 139; Richard Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2015), p. 274.

[10] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 139; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, p. 275; Concerning the Report of the British intelligence Service About Hitler’s Last Days, Tass News Agency, January 1, 1946, in V. K. Vinogrado, J. F. Pogonyi, and N. V. Teptzov, Hitler’s Death: Russia’s Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB (London: Chaucer Press, 2005), p. 295.

[11] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 139-140; Davenport-Hines, ed., Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Wartime Journals, p. 276.

[12] Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005; Bruce Weber, “Arnold Weiss Dies at 86; helped to Find Hitler’s Will,” The New York Times, January 1, 2011, p. A22.

[13] Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005; Bruce Weber, “Arnold Weiss Dies at 86; helped to Find Hitler’s Will,” The New York Times, January 1, 2011, p. A22; T. Rees Shapiro, “German-born U.S. Solder found Hitler’s last will and testament,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2010, p. B7.

[14] Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005.

[15] Ada Petrova and Peter Watson, The Death of Hitler: The Full Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996), p. 17; Matthew Brzezinski, “Giving Hitler Hell,” The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, July 24, 2005.

[16] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters, Publications (“P”) Files, 1950-1951 (NAID 656424) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[17] Ilsa Unterholzner, born February 22, 1921, in July 1937 accepted the position of typist at the Gauleitung for the Gau Westmark at Neustadt. She worked there until January 1, 1939 when she accepted a position at the Party Chancellery in Munich. She joined the Nazi Party on September 1, 1939.  In August 1944 she was transferred to the office of Bormann in Berlin where she worked as secretary for Bormann and accompanied him when he transferred the Party offices to the Fuehrer Headquarters in East Prussia. In December 1944 the Party chancellery was moved back to Berlin along with the Fuehrer Headquarters and she worked in Berlin, in the office of Bormann until April 22. On that day she was flown from Berlin to Obersalzberg to continue her work there. From April 25 to October 10 she worked on various farms in the vicinity of Berchtesgaden. Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Unterholzner, Ilsa, Re: Secretary of Martin Bormann, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, (NAID 645054) Record Group 319.

[18] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Unterholzner, Ilsa, Re: Secretary of Martin Bormann, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976, (NAID 645054) Record Group 319; Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, ibid.

[19] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 140.

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The [Transplanted] 28th Rose Bowl, Oregon State vs. Duke – January 1, 1942

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

The Oregon State College (now Oregon State University) Beavers football team, under Coach Lon Stiner, started the 1941 season winning two games and losing two games.  One of those victories was a 10-0 shutout of Stanford University and one of the losses was to the University of Southern California (USC), 13-7, with the Trojans scoring the winning touchdown with thirteen seconds left in the game.  Then Oregon State reeled off five victories, defeating Idaho 33-0, UCLA 19-0, California 6-0, Montana 27-0, and Oregon 12-7.  With the latter victory, on November 29, the Beavers won the Pacific Coast Conference, and a trip to the Rose Bowl, to be played on January 1, 1942 in Pasadena, California.

As was the custom at the time, the Beavers, who ranked 12th in the country in the final Associated Press (AP) poll on December 1, got to select their opponent for the Rose Bowl game.  Oregon State desired to play Fordham University, which had just won the Lambert Trophy as the outstanding football team on the East Coast.  But just six and a half hours before receiving the Oregon State invitation, Fordham agreed to play the University of Missouri in the Sugar Bowl.  Oregon State then invited Duke, the undefeated and untied champions of the Southern Conference, as well as the nation’s leader in total offense, and the Blue Devils, led by legendary head coach Wallace Wade, accepted.  Duke hoped to avenge its 7-3 lost to USC in the 1939 Rose Bowl. The number two ranked team in the county, Duke finished the season at 9-0, including victories over Tennessee, 19-0; Maryland 50-0; Georgia Tech, 14-0; Davidson, 56-0; North Carolina 20-0; and North Carolina State 55-6.

Then came the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7 and America was at war.  The Associated Press reported on December 13 that in spite of the war football fans would get their usual quota of bowl games on New Year’s Day-unless present plans were changed by unexpected military developments.  That night, Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt, commanding general of the Western Defense Command, requested California’s governor to cancel the Rose Bowl game and the Tournament of Roses parade.  He gave as his reasons: national defense and civilian protection. Mayor Edward J. Kelly of Chicago immediately contacted the Tournament of Roses Committee about the possibility of moving the game to Chicago’s Soldier Field.  Even before the game in Pasadena was officially canceled, Duke coach Wade sent the following telegram to Oregon State athletic director:

“We regret that conditions have developed that have influenced the military authorities to suggest cancellation of the Rose Bowl game. Duke is ready to accept the decision of Oregon State and the Tournament of Roses Committee. We wish to suggest for your consideration the possibility of playing the game at Durham in the Duke Stadium, either with Rose Bowl sanction or otherwise. We can accommodate about 50,000 spectators. Our climate at New Year’s is usually favorable for football. We would be glad to have your reaction to this suggestion if it is desirable not to play the game in Pasadena.”

On December 14, AP reporting from Pasadena, noted that “cancellation of the annual Rose Bowl football game cast considerable disappointment today over this site of the historic New Year’s Day classic, but the reason-the war-was thoroughly and patriotically understood by all.”  The Tournament of Roses Committee, it added, was immediately beginning preparations for refunding deposits on more than 60,000 tickets.  Sports writer Bob Considine, in New York City on December 14, wrote:

Too bad about the Rose Bowl game. The country will get along without it, of course. But it didn’t seem to us to constitute much of a menace to civilian defense.

We’re supposed to be stressing sports, building bodies, giving the people now and then a few hours respite from the seven-day grind of the war business. The Rose Bowl game would have been a source of relaxation not only for the 90,000 who might have witnessed it but for millions who might have read about it or listened to it on the air. Its colorful pregame parade typifies the pleasant, peaceful things we’ve gone to war to protect. Gen. De Witt knows best, but-

England, only a few minutes removed from the full weight of the Luftwaffe, still has its soccer games, rugby matches and popular horse-racing fixtures. Haven’t we as much poise?

In the meantime, both Oregon State and the Tournament of Roses Committee agreed to the suggestion of moving the Rose Bowl to Durham, North Carolina.  Now in the Central Decimal Correspondence Files, 1940-1945 (NAID 895294) a telegram was sent from the secretary of the Durham Chamber of Commerce to General George C. Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff, stating: “In behalf of Duke University and Durham we request information as to whether there would be any objection from the military standpoint to playing the Rose Bowl game between Duke and Oregon State in Durham an inland city.”

Telegram from Frank Pierson, Secy Durham Chamber of Commerce to General George C. Marshall, 12/15/1941

Telegram from Durham Chamber of Commerce to General George C. Marshall, 12/15/1941; File 353.85 Football 11-1-40 to 12-31-41, NAID 895294

Undoubtedly other high government officials, including Henry Stimson, the Secretary of War, were contacted by people and organizations about playing the game in Durham.  In any event, later on December 15, Stimson, probably after coordinating with Marshall, directed a telegram be sent to Duke University indicating that the War Department had no objection to the Rose Bowl game being played at Duke University (from the same series Central Decimal Correspondence Files, File 353.85 Football, 11-1-40 to 12-31-41).

Memorandum for the Adjutant General from Colonel W. B. Smith, 12/15/1941

Memorandum for the Adjutant General from Colonel W. B. Smith, 12/15/1941;  File 353.85 Football, 11-1-40 to 12-31-41, NAID 895294

Meanwhile, from Durham on December 15, the AP reported that:

The football faithful of North Carolina jumped from the depths of gloom to something approaching hysteria today when word came through that the canceled Rose Bowl game between Duke and Oregon State had been revived and would be played here.

With a grin a mile wide, the usually dour Coach Wallace Wade, of the Blue Devils, received the news that Oregon State had agreed to play the game on New Year’s Day in Duke Stadium…

War Department approval already has been asked for the contest, which was to have been held, as usual, in Pasadena but was canceled upon the request of Army officers after outbreak of the war with Japan.

Urging official military sanction, Gov. J. Melville Broughton assured Washington authorities that the game would not interfere in any way with the defense program in North Carolina.

‘I think the Army will give its permission,’ he commented. ‘We want to have the game here, and to tell you the truth I’d like to see it myself.’

The Secretary of War having agreed to the transplanted Rose Bowl, planning moved into high gear, with the Tournament of Roses Committee making arrangements for the game to be played in Durham, with Duke the visiting team (as technically it was still the invited guest).

On December 19, sports writer for The Washington Post, Shirley Povich observed “The battle at Durham has all the elements of a pretty good football game” and “It should be fun in Durham’s Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.”

While Duke was borrowing bleachers from the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State, boosting stadium capacity from 35,000 to 55,000 spectators, the Oregon State team took a five-day train trip to Durham. “From a football standpoint, it is a tough assignment,” Beavers coach Lon Stiner said. “But we’ll be in there doing our best even with these added odds against us.”

Duke was a 12-to-5 favorite when the game was first announced and the odds increased to 3.5-to-1 after the game was moved to Durham. “I don’t quite understand why my boys should be rated so low for this game with Duke,” Stiner said. “They may be light, but they are poised and tough and not upset at the prospect of meeting high scoring Duke.”  On December 26, the Associated Press reported from Durham that “Duke will have a decided edge over Oregon State when the teams meet here New Year’s Day before an overflow crowd of 55,000 in the transplanted Rose Bowl.”  The article pointed out that Duke outscored its opponents 311-41 while Oregon State outscored its opponents 123-33, and Duke accumulated 3,335 total yards compared to Oregon State’s 2,241.  The AP quoted the Oregon State’s team captain as saying “We feel that a lot of people around here are going to be mighty surprised.”

Rose Bowl game program from January 1, 1942

Rose Bowl Game Program, Football Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, (c) Duke University

January 1, 1942, was a cold, rainy day in Durham.  Ben Dulaney (sports editor for The Washington Post) writing from Duke Stadium after the Rose Bowl game, observed:

There weren’t any parades before today’s Duke-Oregon State game. There wasn’t a girl in a bathing suit anywhere-not even a movie actress. You couldn’t even buy a chrysanthemum-much less a rose. Also the California sun must have stayed in California.

No, the transplanted Rose Bowl didn’t bring its color with it. But, gentlemen, the 55,000 who plunked down their four-forty apiece saw just about the greatest exhibition of collegiate football ever presented in the East.

Oregon State won the game 20-16.  It turned out that The Washington Post on December 27 was correct when it ran an article entitled “Oregon State Defense Only Major Asset.” The Beavers recovered three Duke fumbles and intercepted four Duke passes.

Most of the players in the 1942 Rose Bowl would serve in the military during World War II, with one Oregon State and three Duke players dying in action in the Pacific.  Wallace Wade, the Duke Coach, enlisted in the military after the game and served until 1945. One of the Oregon State players did not make the trip to Durham.  Being of Japanese ancestry, Chiaki “Jack” Yoshihara, was prohibited by executive order from traveling more than 35 miles from home. He would listen to the game on radio and spend 1942 in an internment camp.

After the Japanese setbacks in the Pacific, including the Battle of Midway, during 1942, it was deemed that the West Coast was no longer vulnerable to attack, and the Rose Bowl game continued on in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena.

P.S.

The Duke quarterback, Tommy Protho, became Oregon State’s coach in February 1955.

In ten seasons, Prothro had considerable success at OSU, taking teams to the 1957 and 1965 Rose Bowls.

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