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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Hunting Hitler Part VIII: The Search Ends, September-November 1945

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This concludes the 8-part series on Hunting Hitler.

The person Brigadier Dick White, head of counter-intelligence in the British Zone, would turn to in September 1945 to sort out the details of Hitler’s death was Hugh Trevor-Roper.  Born January 15, 1914, Trevor-Roper graduated Christ Church College at Oxford in 1936 and in 1939, as a research fellow at Merton College, he qualified for the M.A. degree. His first book was Archbishop Laud, 1573-1645 (1940), a biography of the archbishop of Canterbury and adviser to King Charles I. Once the war started Trevor-Roper joined the military service and would find himself in intelligence work dealing with Germany, and would be employed in various organizations, including the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), working in signals intelligence.[1]  It was in 1945 he would find a new challenge, when the Allies decided to establish a joint Counter-Intelligence War Room in London, under the auspices of SHAEF, to collect, collate and analyze counter-intelligence material, and to advise staffs in the field on all aspects of enemy clandestine activity. Under the direction of Lt. Col. Thomas Argyll (“Tar”) Robertson, its staff consisted of experts from MI6, MI5, and the Office of Strategic Services. Trevor-Roper was appointed to run the research side of this new body, which became active on March 1, 1945.[2]  In this position he often interrogated German prisoners himself, flying back and forth to liberated France and occupied Germany for this purpose.[3] In April the War Room research department produced a manual for counter-intelligence officers in the field after victory, entitled The German Intelligence Service.[4] Dick White was impressed by what he read. It was this report, he said many years afterwards, that persuaded him to ask Trevor-Roper to undertake an investigation of the utmost importance.  With the war ended, on June 20 Trevor-Roper was appointed to a research lectureship at Christ Church. He applied for early demobilization from the Army and meanwhile continued his War Room work before taking his new post.[5]

In early September Trevor-Roper paid a visit to Bad Oeynhausen, near Hanover, the location of the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine (formerly the 21st Army Group).  There he stayed with Dick White and spent time with Maj. Peter Ramsbotham, a graduate of Magdalen who had gone into the Intelligence Corps after leaving Oxford.  One evening while Trevor-Roper was having drinks with White and Herbert Hart (another MI5 member), the three of them began to discuss the issue of the moment: what had happened to Hitler?  This question remained open. The circumstances of Hitler’s last days were mysterious; it was still uncertain whether he was alive or dead. Trevor-Roper outlined for White and Hart what he had discovered about Hitler’s last days from captured German officers, giving an account of a shoot-out in the Berlin Tiergarten which he later realized was complete fantasy. White asked Trevor-Roper if he would undertake a systematic study of the evidence surrounding the fate of Hitler. He would be given all necessary facilities to carry out his inquiry, and have the authority of a major-general to interrogate prisoners, to call on the services of the occupying forces, and to pursue the evidence wherever it led. The Russians would have to be informed, though he could expect little cooperation from them. But the Americans would help, and so, in theory, would the French. Trevor-Roper accepted the offer without hesitation.  According to Trevor-Roper’s biographer:  “Here was a unique opportunity for a young historian: to investigate one of the most dramatic stories in the history of the world, while the trail was still fresh. How could he refuse?”[6]

On September 10 White requested Trevor-Roper’s release from “Tar” Robertson. After outlining the problem, he proposed a solution. “The man who has kept the closest tabs on the matter appears to be Trevor-Roper” he wrote. “I believe that a job like this, unless it is done now, will never get done and unless it is done by a first-clap chap, won’t be worth having.” As well as being useful in calming relations with the Russians, White believed that the inquiry should be “a work of considerable historical interest.” Trevor-Roper flew back to England for a talk with Robertson. “I agree with you entirely that the idea of clearing up this business about Hitler is essential and that it should be done now” Robertson replied to White on September 19.[7]

Withdrawing his application for early demobilization, Trevor-Roper returned to Germany in mid-September to begin his inquiry. He was already familiar with much of the background. As a member of the War Room he had been on the circulation list for transcripts of interrogations or bugging of German prisoners, and he had access to a mass of captured documents, including the papers of the Doenitz government in Flensburg.  On August 20 the British reported that captured cables mentioned Doenitz as successor, but whether he was appointed by a “Testament of Hitler” (of which Bormann and Goebbels were mentioned) or not, could hardly be decided, it was believed, before such a document was found.[8]

Trevor-Roper planned to trace a sufficient number of key witnesses and confine his questions to the essential fact of Hitler’s death.  He planned to be able to accumulate enough evidence to establish beyond doubt what had happened.  Trying to locate individuals in the chaos of defeated Germany would not be an easy task.  While most of the surviving senior figures were in custody in one or other of the Allied Zones, many of those being sought had gone underground, fearing a charge of war crimes. Additionally some of the prisoners had not been identified, and the significance of others had yet to be recognized.[9]

Early on he traveled to Berlin.  There he visited the bunker and sketched out a plan of the interior.  Gradually he deduced the function of each room, a layout that would be a crucial aid to his interrogations. A British officer had picked up and subsequently handed to Trevor-Roper a copy of Hitler’s engagement diary, which recorded his appointments, hour by hour, which would provide valuable background material. Trevor-Roper would return to Berlin several times exploring the bunker and its immediate surroundings.[10]

Trevor-Roper decided to concentrate his search on the period between April 22, when Hitler had ordered much of his staff to leave Berlin, and May 2, when the Russians had taken Berlin. Trevor-Roper would focus on finding survivors who could provide eyewitness testimony for those ten days.  Besides those who had remained behind in the bunker after the exodus on April 22, he also sought out those known to have visited the bunker during the last days, such as Albert Speer.[11]

Trevor-Roper spent much of the later part of September driving by jeep to interrogate potential witnesses in the British Zone of Occupation.  Sometimes he was driven by a young soldier, though often he was completely alone.   In general his witnesses, once confronted, spoke freely.[12]

At the end of September, Trevor-Roper was ready to venture into the American Zone of Occupation.  He knew that those of Hitler’s entourage who had left on April 22 had flown to Obersalzberg, where they were now in the custody of the Americans. On October 1 Major Peter Ramsbotham called an American intelligence officer and told him that Major Trevor-Roper from Counter Intelligence War Room, London, was in Germany on a special inquiry for Brigadier White regarding Hitler’s death and that he had to make inquiries at a couple of places in the American Zone.  He said that Trevor-Roper would begin his search in the American Zone on October 2 and that White had asked Lt. Andrews (Special Counterintelligence Officer) to escort Trevor-Roper during the next three or four days. Ramsbotham said they would have to go to Innsbruck and other places.[13]  Trevor-Roper did indeed visit Innsbruck, no doubt to double-check the story that Hitler was there.[14]

By questioning those of Hitler’s entourage who had left on April 22, Trevor-Roper was soon able to discover the names of colleagues who had been left behind after the exodus – enabling him to draw up a fairly complete list of those who had stayed in Berlin.  He circulated thirty-three names of potential witnesses to prisoner of war camps in all the Allied zones, asking to be notified if any of these individuals were being held. Neither the Russians nor the French ever replied; the Americans, on the other hand, proved cooperative. In Trevor-Roper’s absence, Ramsbotham coordinated the search in the British Zone, and was soon able to report that several of the witnesses on the list were in captivity and available for interrogation. As for those who had evaded capture, Trevor-Roper reasoned that they were most likely to have sought refuge in or near their old homes, or with close relatives, so he made enquires with the British Field Security Police or the American Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) in the relevant districts. In this way further individuals on his list were located.[15] Useful to Trevor-Roper’s investigation was the four-volume dossier on Hitler compiled by the CIC.[16]

While Trevor-Roper was conducting his investigation, during early October, Hitler-sightings continued to find their way into the news media.[17]

General Eisenhower certainly did not help matters regarding Hitler still being alive, when on October 6, it was reported by the Netherlands radio that he had told Dutch newspaper men that there was “reason to believe” that Hitler was still alive. The broadcast, recorded by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London, said that one of the correspondents accompanying Eisenhower on a visit to The Hague had asked Eisenhower if he thought Hitler was dead.[18] The Associated Press (AP) in London on October 7 reported Eisenhower’s remark that there is “reason to believe” that Hitler may still be alive, reversed his previous opinion that Hitler was dead.[19]  According to The Times on October 8, Eisenhower had said to foreign journalists during a visit to the Netherlands: “Even though I initially believed that Hitler was dead, there are now reasons to assume that he is still alive.”[20]

In an editorial published on October 8 in the London newspaper, News Chronicle, commenting on Eisenhower’s remark that Hitler may still be alive, Gallman observed:

General Eisenhower’s remark that Hitler may still be alive is disturbing. It is certain there are still elements in Germany which would be only too glad to gather clandestinely round their old leader or-if that is not possible-at least to keep alive a Hitler myth. Nothing could do more to retard Germany’s return to normality than the belief that the Fuehrer is still in the land of the living.  It would have been better if the general had said less, or said more. If there is just a faint doubt, then the less it is publicized the sooner it will be forgotten. If on the other there are solid grounds for believing that Hitler is not dead, we should be told more about them. It is a matter in which everyone is interested and the public would like to hear at least such of the evidence as will not hamper the hunt.[21]

On October 8 the American Military Attaché in London sent a cable to United States Forces, European Theater (USFET) indicating that the British War Office had requested information as to whether press reports quoting Eisenhower’s statement was based on any recent information gathered by American agencies. The military attaché cabled again on October 11, reporting that the bulk of British press on October 7 published prominently the statement reportedly made by Eisenhower to Dutch journalists at The Hague on October 6 to effect that he has reason to believe Hitler was still alive. He also reported the story was broadcast by Hilversum radio [Dutch radio station in Hilversum] and also by the BBC. The Attaché requested directions, asking whether he should deny to the War Office that Eisenhower even discussed the mater or shall he say Dutch must have misunderstood.  USFET responded three days later, stating that Eisenhower spoke with representatives of Dutch Press aboard his train during his visit to The Hague. In this purely informal conversation the newsmen brought up question as to whether or not the General thought Hitler was dead or still alive. There was no speech or official statement made. Col. Edward R. Lee, the General’s aid, was present on this occasion and states, “General Eisenhower never said Hitler was alive; he merely said he could not prove he was dead.”[22]

At Frankfurt on October 12 Eisenhower, explaining the alleged remarks he had made to a Dutch newspaper, denied that he had ever said that Hitler was alive but agreed with Lt. Gen. Walter B. Smith, his Chief of Staff, who declared that “‘no human being can say he [Hitler] is conclusively dead.” Eisenhower said what he had said was that “‘There is every presumption that Hitler is dead but not a bit of positive proof that he is dead.’” He added that the Russians had been unable to unearth “one single bit” of tangible evidence of Hitler’s death.[23]

Meanwhile, on October 9 an American newspaper at Frankfurt reported “The question whether Adolf Hitler is dead or alive may be answered by the testimony of Hanna Reitsch…who was in a Berlin bomb shelter with him a few hours before the Russians captured it.” They reported that she had been arrested that day and was being interrogated.[24]  Reitsch, a famous German test pilot, told an interrogator in early October that the tactical situation and Hitler’s own physical conditions made any thoughts of his escape inconceivable.[25] She dismissed the possibility that Hitler could have survived as “absurd.” She said “Hitler is dead! The man I saw in the shelter could not have lived. He had no reason to live and the tragedy was that he knew it well, knew it perhaps better than anyone else did.”[26]

Major Edward L. Saxe, an American intelligence officer, wrote to the Chief of Counter-Intelligence on October 9, that a detailed investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Hitler had been conducted by Major Trevor-Roper, acting on behalf of the Counter Intelligence War Room and British Army of the Rhine and assisted by American Intelligence. He noted that the investigation, which has been underway for three weeks, had included examination of practically all evidence available in the American, British, and French Zones of Occupation.

The investigation as a whole, Saxe wrote, was not yet considered to be complete owing to the difficulties involved in locating all available witnesses. A careful cross examination of several material witnesses has, however, he wrote, sufficiently established the following facts:

Hitler definitely decided on April 22 not to leave Berlin, but to stay and, if the city fell, to die there. In the latter event, his body was to be destroyed and plans for the complete destruction of his body were made.

That on the night of April 29 Hitler decided to commit suicide on April 30. He took leave of his servants at 230am on April 30 and preparations for the destruction of his body and that of Eva Braun were made on the morning of April 30.

That on April 30 at 230pm Hitler took leave of his personal staff in the bunker and almost immediately afterwards shot himself while in his private room. Eva Braun committed suicide at the same time, probably by poisoning.

That the bodies were then carried out of the bunker and burned, as arranged, in the garden.

Saxe discussed the witnesses so far examined and noted the witnesses who could help complete the investigation.   He added that “the disposal of the bodies after burning has not yet been indicated by any evidence as complete as that on which the above statements are made and the bodies themselves have not, of course, been identified.”  Summing up his memorandum, Saxe wrote that “It is to be noted that certain alternative stories which have gained currency since the fall of Berlin have been examined and have been found to rest on no valid evidence.”[27]

On October 15 the Military Intelligence Service Center, Headquarters, United States Forces European Theater published the first of a series of consolidated interrogation reports dealing with Hitler, as seen by his doctors. It was based on information obtained from doctors who examined and treated him during the past year.  The report indicated that it was being published in order to provide medical data useful for the identification of Hitler or his remains; further material for debunking numerous “Hitler Myths,” as well as for other purposes. When the second of the series was published on November 29 the same reasons for its publication were given.[28]

In the House of Commons in London, on October 15, Hector McNeil, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs told a questioner that “The Government has no evidence proving conclusively either that Hitler is dead or is alive.” He added that investigations were continuing.[29]

telegram sent to the Secretary of State regarding Hitler's death

Telegram from Gallman to the Secretary of State, 10/16/1945

By the end of October Trevor-Roper had finished his investigation and it was now time to make the findings known. The press crowded into the Hotel-am-Zoo, the British press headquarters in Berlin’s Kurfuerstendamm, on November 1 to hear what he had to say. A handout based on Trevor-Roper’s findings “The Last Days of Hitler and Eva Braun” was distributed to the press and Trevor-Roper presented a summary to the assembled journalists. The summary began:

“Available evidence sifted by British intelligence and based largely on eyewitness’ accounts shows-as conclusively as possible without bodies-that Hitler and Eva Braun died shortly after 2:30 on April 30, 1945, in a bunker of the Reich Chancellery, their bodies being burned just outside the bunker.”

Asked by one of the newspapermen if he was aware of the Russian view on Hitler’s death, Trevor-Roper indicated that he thought the Soviets were skeptical-that is, inclined to the view that Hitler was not dead. Trevor-Roper also dismissed the possibility that it was Hitler’s double who had been burned. Finally, he conceded that there was no “conclusive proof” that Bormann was dead.   The press conference was reported extensively in the world’s newspapers. The New York Times ran the complete text of Trevor-Roper’s statement that had been handed out.[30]

Nine days later Trevor-Roper submitted his report, “The Death of Hitler,” to the Quadripartite Intelligence Committee. It concluded that Hitler had committed suicide by shooting himself and Eva Braun on April 30, and that their bodies had subsequently been burnt. Goebbels had committed suicide the next day. Trevor-Roper was satisfied the seven witnesses to the “dark period” [after April 22] whom he had located and interrogated could not have combined to concoct a story robust enough to have withstood questioning. He was confident that further findings were unlikely to add anything significant, and indeed facts which have emerged subsequently have confirmed the accuracy of his report to almost every detail. His report observed “Other versions have been circulating suggesting that Hitler is not dead at all. These have been examined and found to rest on no valid evidence whatsoever.” He finished his report with a list of suggested questions to be raised at the next meeting of the Committee, most of them directed at the Russians. The Russians noted these requests but never answered them. “Very interesting” was the only response they would make.[31]  Trevor-Roper returned to England and then on to Oxford.[32]  He would soon return to Germany, as a new piece of the puzzle of Hitler’s death surfaced in the British Zone of Occupation in the form of the capture of a courier who had carried Hitler’s personal will and political testament out of Berlin on April 29.

cover for the book The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper

(c) University of Chicago Press, 1987

Back in England, early in 1946, Dick White encouraged Trevor-Roper to write a narrative regarding the death of Hitler.  The resulting book, The Last Days of Hitler, would be finished in late 1946, and published the following year.

In his epilogue Trevor-Roper wrote:

The original purpose of the enquiry which caused this book to be written was to establish the facts of Hitler’s end, and thereby to prevent the growth of a myth; and certainly Hitler’s own exploitation of mythology in politics has been sufficiently disastrous for the world to apprehend a repetition. The facts are now clear, and if myths, like the truth, depend on evidence, we are safe. But myths are not like truths; they are the triumph of credulity over evidence. The form of a myth is indeed externally conditioned by facts; there is a minimum of evidence with which it must comply, if it is to live; but once lip-service has been paid to that undeniable minimum, the human mind is free to indulge its infinite capacity for self-deception. When we consider upon what ludicrous evidence the most preposterous beliefs have been easily, and by millions, entertained, we may well hesitate before pronouncing anything incredible.

Therefore, though the facts in this book are confidently asserted, for their original purpose I only timidly prophesy success. Many men saw Nero die; but within a year, several false Neros arose and were believed. In our own history, the Princes were clearly murdered in the Tower, but there were many who afterwards found it convenient to discover their survival….[33]

He added that he believed that the facts given in his book belonged “to the category of the undeniable minimum [of evidence], of which even the most extravagant myths must take account.”[34]

P.S.

On October 25, 1956, Judge Heinrich Stephanus, sitting in a court in Berchtesgaden, ruled that Hitler died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 330pm on April 30, 1945.  The issuance of the death certificate, which made possible the disposal of Hitler’s small personal estate, was based on the results of a four-year investigation.  Forty-two individuals who were with Hitler during his last days in the bunker were interviewed.  A vast amount of written material was also examined by the judge.  Judge Stephanus found that the suicides of Hitler and Eva Braun had been performed in private in Hitler’s sitting room in the bunker.  Aides who entered the room shortly after 330pm found Eva Braun dead of poison and Hitler shot and also dead, the judge found.  The bodies were burned in a courtyard of the Reichs Chancellery and the remains had never been recovered, according to the court’s findings.[35]


Footnotes:

[1] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 4, 39-41, 76-125.

[2] History of the Counter Intelligence War Room, March 1-November 1, 1945, n.d., pp. 3-5, File: XE022360, War Room History, Impersonal File, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files (NAID 645054), RG 319; Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, SHAEF, Counter-intelligence Records in Germany-Part I, The War Room, February 20, 1945, File: GB1/CI/CS/314.81 G-2 War Diary, General Correspondence Files (NAID 568109), RG 331; Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 125. Until July 13, 1945 it was known as SHAEF G-2 Counter Intelligence War Room, afterwards as the Counter Intelligence War Room. History of the Counter Intelligence War Room, March 1-November 1, 1945, n.d., p. 1, File: XE022360, War Room History, Impersonal File, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files (NAID 645054).

[3] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 125-126.

[4] War Room Publications, Liquidation Reports and Monthly Summaries, Appendix “C” to History of the Counter Intelligence War Room, March 1-November 1, 1945, n.d., File: XE022360, War Room History, Impersonal File, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files (NAID 645054); Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 126.

[5] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper pp. 127, 130.

[6] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 131, 132, 133; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, Author’s Preface.

[7] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 133-134, 134.

[8] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 134; Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Regular Intelligence Reports (NAID 6050264), RG 226.

[9] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 134, 134-135.

[10] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 134, 135-136, 136. On September 10, 1945 British Lt. Col. J. L. McCowen found the notes of Hitler’s daily route from October 14, 1944 to February 28, 1945, kept by Linge lying in an armchair in the Reichs Chancellery. Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 58. After the Russians learned that the British had taken notes by Linge, the Russian military government in September 1945 forbade any further visits to the Chancellery and the bunker by Allied officers and journalists.  ibid, p. 59.

[11] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 135, 136.

[12] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 136, 137.

[13] Typewritten note, apparently a telephone call from Operations Branch, October 1, 1945, File: Hitler, Adolf, XE003655, (NAID 7359097), Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, RG 319.

[14] 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. 16.

[15] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 135.

[16] Memorandum, Maj. Edward L. Saxe, Chief, Operations Branch to Chief, CI, Subject: Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Adolf Hitler, October 9, 1945, File: Hitler, Adolf, XE003655 (NAID 7359097); Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 135; Petrova and Watson, The Death of Hitler, p. 16.

[17] See File: 862.002, Hitler, Adolf, Central Decimal Files (NAID 302021), RG 59; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 406.

[18] Associated Press, “Hitler Believed Alive, Eisenhower Tells Dutch,” The New York Times, October 7, 1945, p. 10.

[19] Associated Press, London, October 7, 1945, “Ike Believes Hitler Lives,” The Stars and Stripes, October 8, 1945, p. 8, File: Hitler, Adolf, XE003655 (NAID 7359097).

[20] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 251.

[21] Incoming Telegram, No. 10492, Gallman, London to the Secretary of State, October 8, 1945, File: 862.002/10-845, Hitler, Adolf, Central Decimal Files (NAID 302021).

[22] Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater, Staff Message Control, Incoming Classified Message, Ref No. 65954, Office of Military Attaché London signed Tindall to US Forces European Theater Main, October 8, 1945, File: 091.1/1, 1945, Classified General Correspondence, 1945-46 (NAID 5665349), RG 498; Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater, Staff Message Control, Incoming Classified Message, Ref No. 65972, Office of Military Attaché London signed Tindall to US Forces European Theater Main, October 11, 1945, ibid.; Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater, Staff Message Control, Outgoing Classified Message, Ref No. SC-5486,US Forces European Theater Main signed Eisenhower to Military Attaché United States Embassy London for Tindall, October 11, 1945, ibid.

[23] Wireless to The New York Times, “Eisenhower Didn’t Say He Believes Hitler Alive,” The New York Times, October 13, 1945, p. 3.

[24] Wireless to The New York Times, “Hitler’s Woman Pilot Seized,” The New York Times, October 10, 1945, p. 9.

[25] Capt. Robert E. Work, Air Corps, Chief Interrogator, Air Interrogation Unit (USDIC), Air Division, Headquarters United States Forces in Austria, Interrogation Summary No.1, “The Last Days in Hitler’s Air Raid Shelter,” October 8, 1945, File: Interrogation Summary US Forces in Austria (NAID 2155808), Publications (“P”) Files (NAID 656424), RG 319.

[26] Capt. Robert E. Work, Air Corps, Chief Interrogator, Air Interrogation Unit (USDIC), Air Division, Headquarters United States Forces in Austria, Interrogation Summary No.1, “The Last Days in Hitler’s Air Raid Shelter,” October 8, 1945, File: Interrogation Summary US Forces in Austria (NAID 2155808).

[27] Memorandum, Maj. Edward L. Saxe, Chief, Operations Branch to Chief, CI, Subject: Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Adolf Hitler, October 9, 1945, File: Hitler, Adolf, XE003655 (NAID 7359097).

[28] 1st Lt. Arthur D. McKibbin, Editing Section, Military Intelligence Service Center, Headquarters, United States Forces European Theater, October 15, 1945, p. 1, OI Consolidated Interrogation Report (CIR) No. 2, File: Hitler as Seen by His Doctors: Theo Morell, Erwin Giesing, Walter Loehlein, Karl Weber – CIR No. 2 (NAID 6242539), Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies (NAID 647749), RG 238; 2nd Lt. Francis C. St. John, Chief Editor, Military Intelligence Service Center, Headquarters, United States Forces European Theater, OI Consolidated Interrogation Report (CIR) No. 4, Hitler as Seen by His Doctors, November 29, 1945, p. 2, ibid.

[29] Incoming Telegram, No. 10803, Gallman, London to the Secretary of State, October 16, 1945, File: 862.002/10-1645, Hitler, Adolf, Central Decimal Files (NAID 302021); Wireless to The New York Times, London, October 15, The New York Times, October 16, 1945, p. 2.

[30] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 137; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 407; Petrova and Watson, The Death of Hitler, p. 17; Reuters, Berlin, November 1, 1945, “Text of British Report Holding Hitler Ended His Life,” The New York Times, November 2, 1945, p. 3.

[31] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 137.

[32] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 137-138.

[33] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 229.

[34] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 229.

[35] Special to The New York Times, Bonn, Germany, October 25, 1945, “German Judge Confirms That Hitler Died As a Suicide in a Berlin Bunker in 1945,” The New York Times, October 26, 1956, p. 15. A copy of the court order can be found in the File: Hitler, Adolf, Reference Subject Files Relating to Adolf Hitler, 1951-1985 (NAID 12008425), RG 242.

Posted in Archives II, History, Military Records, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Funeral of General George S. Patton, Jr.

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

December 21 is the 70th anniversary of the death of General George S. Patton, Jr., renowned and controversial general and subject of the unforgettable 1970 eponymous motion picture.  While he was without a combat command at the time of his death, the occasion was nonetheless significant given his lifetime of service.

Patton had a stellar military career during which he participated in the Mexican Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916; fought in France during World War I where he was seriously wounded; and finally led American forces in North Africa, Sicily, and Western Europe during World War II.  His Second World War service was marked by several controversial incidents that almost cut short his career and ultimately led to his removal from significant command.

On December 9, 1945, the staff car in which Patton was riding was involved in a relatively minor traffic accident.  The General, however, was thrown about and broke his neck.  After lingering for twelve days, he succumbed to his injuries on December 21.  While Patton did not have the heroic battlefield death he wanted, he was given a hero’s burial at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg.  Charge d’Affaires George P. Waller sent the following report about the funeral and related matters to the Department of State.

This is a photograph of the occasion.  The pallbearer on the left is M/Sgt. William Meeks, who served as Patton’s personal orderly for many years.

photo of General Patton's casket

111-SC-223850

For more details on Patton’s life and career, see Patton: A Genius for War by Carlo D’Este.


Sources:

  • The report is U.S. Legation Luxembourg to Department of State, Despatch 348, December 24, 1945, file 811.221/12-2445, Central Decimal Files, 1945-49 (NAID 302021), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.
  • The photograph is from Photographs of American Activities (NAID 530707) RG 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, photograph 111-SC-223850.  Thanks to my colleague Holly Reed for help with the photograph.
Posted in Archives II, Civil Records, History, News | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hunting Hitler Part VII: The Search Continues, June-September 1945

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

At the end of May 1945, Allied military and diplomatic officials went to Berlin to discuss the occupation of Berlin with Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Soviet commander of the Russian Zone of Occupation. During these early talks the death of Adolf Hitler was a matter of some discussion. While some Russians believed Hitler still was alive, others did not. This latter belief was based on some dental evidence they had which indicated that a body they had recovered and inspected was indeed that of Hitler. Apparently Zhukov and General V. D. Sokolovsky, the deputy commander in chief of Soviet forces in the Russian Zone, told the dental identification story to several western military men and diplomats who had visited Berlin for quadripartite preliminary talks, including General Lucius Clay, the American Deputy Military Governor and Robert Murphy, the American Political Adviser.[1]

On June 5 when the Supreme Allied Commanders met in Berlin in order to organize the establishment of the Four-Power Government, responsible Russian officers told officers from General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff that Hitler’s body had been discovered and “identified with almost completely certainty.” They said the body was found in the bunker together with three others. It had been badly charred, attributed to the flamethrowers with which their troops had advanced. According to them, the bodies were examined by Russian doctors and this led to an “almost certain identification.” They said if the Russians were not officially announcing Hitler’s death, it was only due to their reluctance to commit themselves as long as there was the “slightest room for doubt.” However, they openly admitted that all the evidence available pointed to the conclusion that Hitler was dead.  Again, on June 6 Zhukov’s staff officers assured Eisenhower’s staff officers that Hitler’s body had been discovered, exhumed and scientifically identified.[2]

On June 6, the day the Soviet Military Administration in Germany was set up, the Russians held an unofficial press conference in Berlin at which correspondents from the United States, Great Britain and France were present. An officer from Zhukov’s staff disclosed details of the search for Hitler’s corpse and authorized the correspondents to report-without naming him as the source, that it had been found and identified with a high degree of probability. He said (incorrectly) Hitler’s smoke-blackened and charred corpse was one of four that had been discovered in the bunker on May 3 and 4. They had been burnt in the corridor by a flame-thrower, but despite this, after careful examination of teeth and other characteristics the Russians singled out one body which they believed almost certainly was that of Hitler. After examination by chemists from the Red Army, there were indications that Hitler most probably died of poisoning. Asked why no official announcement of the discovery has been made yet by Moscow, the Russian source said as long as any element of uncertainty existed, the Russians did not wish to state definitely that Hitler’s body has been found. The source added, however, that there seems little doubt that this actually is the corpse of Hitler. Covering the event, Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., United Press Staff Correspondent for Combined U.S. Press, observed that “The Russians have given no hint as to how the bodies of Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazis found in Berlin have been disposed of. This probably will remain a secret for all time to guard against the possibility of Nazi fanatics trying to recover the bodies.” His story ran June 7 in The Washington Post and The New York Times.[3]

While the Soviets in Berlin on June 6 were saying that they believed with a high degree of certainty that Hitler was dead, Stalin was saying just the opposite. On June 6 in Moscow when Hopkins, Harriman, and Bohlen again met with Stalin, Stalin said he was sure that Hitler was still alive. Thus, it is not surprising that after the June 6 press conference, Stalin immediately sent Andrei Vyshinsky (later prosecuting attorney at Nuremberg) to Marshal Zhukov in Berlin as his “political representative to the Chief of the Soviet Military Administration.” [4]   

At a major press conference on June 9, with Vyshinsky sitting next to Zhukov, the new “official Russian version” was announced to American, British, French and Russian correspondents. Hitler’s last-minute marriage to Eva Braun was disclosed by Zhukov. He said that she had flown to Berlin in the last day to be at Hitler’s side. “It is well known that two days before Berlin fell Hitler married Eva Braun” he said. He added that the Russians had found references to the marriage in the diaries of Hitler’s personal adjutants. Zhukov said “We have found no corpse that could be Hitler’s” and added that Hitler and Braun had good opportunities to get away from Berlin; “He could have taken off at the very last moment, for there was an airfield at his disposal.” Zhukov told the press “The circumstances are highly mysterious. We did not identify Hitler’s body and I cannot say anything about his fate. …” Zhukov added, “Now it is up to you British and Americans to find him.” At the press conference Colonel General Nikolai E. Berzarin, Soviet commander of Berlin, turning to the question of whether Hitler had died in Berlin, said “There are all sorts of people who were close to him who say that he killed himself. Still others say he was killed by an exploding shell,” however, Russian soldiers had not yet found Hitler’s body. “My personal opinion is that he has disappeared somewhere into Europe.” Berzarin said “Perhaps he is in Spain with Franco. He had the possibility of getting away.” The newly Soviet appointed German Buergermeister of Berlin, Arthur Werner, said “Hitler-we just don’t know…There are many Germans who say he has found refuge in another country.”[5]

The following day, June 10, Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. D. Strong, the SHAEF G-2, asked a Soviet intelligence officer regarding Zhukov’s statement that Hitler was still alive. The Soviet officer replied that the Russians had revised their earlier opinion that Hitler was dead, and that none of the evidence at present in their possession indicates definitely that this was so. Ambassador Murphy informed the State Department that while SHAEF G-2 did not exclude the possibility that Hitler may be in the Allied area, they did not accept the implication of Zhukov’s statement that primary responsibility rested with “us for finding him.”[6]

On June 10 in Madrid the Spanish Foreign Minister had his press secretary deny Zhukov’s report that Hitler might have found shelter in Spain. The Spanish statement said: “Hitler, married or single, alive or dead, is not on Spanish soil, nor would he be allowed here, and if he entered he would not receive shelter.”[7]

The Russian press on June 14 reviewed an article by Elliott [probably George Fielding Eliot] in the New York Herald Tribune commenting on Zhukov’s reported statement that the English and Americans should organize a search for Hitler. Elliott reportedly expressed agreement with Zhukov and was cited as emphasizing the probability of the Soviet statement that Hitler at present was outside the Soviet occupation zone. Elliott was quoted to effect that Hitler probably fled to Spain where there were many German refugees who probably would seek to organize Hitler’s flight. Elliott was also quoted describing a possible escape route for Hitler to Argentina. The news item concluded by quoting Elliott’s opinion that the Allies ought to organize measures to apprehend Hitler including if necessary military operations against Franco’s Spain.[8]

In June, witnesses to what had transpired in the Bunker on April 30 began surfacing in the western zones of occupation. On June 20 at the headquarters of the 21st Army Group (which became the British Army of the Rhine in August 1945), at Bad Oeynhausen, near Hanover, Herman Karnau, a guard at the bunker, told his story to reporters that he saw the bodies of Hitler and Braun burning on ground above Hitler’s bunker. He said he did not know how they had died, but suspected it was at the hands of Dr. Stumpfegger, medical officer at the Reich Chancellery. This account was published in The New York Times the next day. Also published in the same edition of the June 21 newspaper was an account of Hitler’s death by Erich Kempka, Hitler’s chauffeur, who had helped provide the gasoline for the cremation and who witnessed it. He had also spoken to reporters on June 20 and provided a great many details on the deaths of Hitler and Braun, and provided information on the death of the Goebbels’ family. He told the reporters that interviewed him that shortly before Hitler and Braun had shot themselves, Hitler ordered Otto Guensche to have their bodies burned so that their remains would not fall in Russian hands. He also said that he, Bormann, Goebbels, Guensche, and Heinz Linge, and a couple of others whose names he did not remember saw the bodies burning in the Chancellery garden near the Bunker. He added: “I doubt if anything remained of the bodies. The fire was terrifically intense. Maybe some evidence like bits of bones and teeth could be found, but I doubt it. Shells probably landed there and scattered everything all over.”[9]

Newsweek carried a piece on July 2 about the end of Hitler, quoting from Karnau and Kempka as to what happened. Time magazine on July 2 reported that at the end of June a SHAEF spokesman had said, summing up the Hitler situation “We have every reason to believe he is dead, but no evidence that he is not still alive.” It also reported the Russians, who had done all the investigating in Berlin, had not amended their reports that no trace of Hitler had been found; no believable witnesses in their custody had actually seen him die; and Hitler had ordered his henchmen to spread the story that he was dead. [10]  

A United Press story from London on July 15 reported that The Sunday Dispatch said that search parties were hunting for Hitler’s body in the Tyrol Mountains of Bavaria. A German POW had said that Hitler had been buried in the mountains under the direction of Himmler’s Reich Main Security Office (RSHA).[11] An Associated Press story from Stockholm on July 15, reported that a Swedish newspaper reported that day that a rumor was circulating in Bern, Switzerland, that Hitler was hiding in the principality of Liechtenstein under the name of “Dr. Brandl.” The story added that Braun was not with Hitler but probably in Argentina. [12]

During July, various Allied personnel visited the bunker in Berlin and subsequently reported on their visits. When Michael Musmanno visited the bunker, the Russian commandant in charge of the area, Major Feodorovitch Platonov, at once broke into a spirited argumentative denial that Hitler was dead. Musmanno had not made any assertion in the matter one way or the other. He had merely stated that he was examining the place where Hitler lived his last days and hours. The Russian major, pointing at a spot in the garden exclaimed “It is not true that Hitler was found there! Our experts have established that the man found here didn’t look like Hitler at all. And we didn’t find Eva Braun either!”  Journalist Percy Knauth visited the bunker in July and published an account of it in Life magazine. Citing what Kempka had said about which room Hitler had committed suicide, Knauth inspected the room and wrote that there were bloodstains on the left-colored armrest of the sofa. Blood dripped down and collected in small coagulated stripes in the corner. Blood was also to be seen on the outer side of the sofa on the brocade cloth. On July 17, Permanent Under-Secretary of State Sir Alexander Cadogan noted in his diary after visiting the bunker, that he was shown a shallow crater in which he was told Hitler and Braun had been buried and later dug up and cremated. “This is also a rumor, of which there are many, and nobody knows the truth…”[13]

At the Potsdam Conference Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the President, wrote that Stalin and Molotov, Truman, Secretary of State James Byrnes and he were together for lunch on July 17 and Stalin repeated what he had already told Hopkins in Moscow: “he believes that the Fuehrer had escaped and was hiding somewhere. He went on to say that the painstaking Soviet search had failed to discover any traces of Hitler’s remains or positive proof of his death.” During the lunch Byrnes asked Stalin his views of how Hitler had died “To my surprise, he said he believed that Hitler was alive and that it was possible he was then either in Spain or Argentina.” Some ten days later Byrnes asked Stalin if he had changed his views and he said he had not.[14]

At his first news conference, Colonel-General Alexander V. Gorbatov, the Russian member of the Allied Kommandantur in Berlin, on July 30 was questioned as to his views regarding the fate of Hitler. He answered that there was still no definite satisfactory evidence of his death. He added, however, that among Russian officers the saying was that if Hitler was alive he was certainly not in Russian-occupied territory. He also noted that he had heard reports that Hitler’s dentist had taken a human jawbone to Moscow and identified it as that of Hitler, but Gorbatov said he knew nothing of the matter beyond that.[15]

During July and August reports continued to surface of Hitler being alive. One in July indicated that he had taken a submarine to either Argentina or Chile; others that he was alive and hiding in Argentina. Reports of sightings continued in September.[16]

HitlerBlog003-With Declass-1

Report of Hitler in Argentina, August 1945. FBI Case File 65-53615.

A news story from London on September 8, under the headline “World-Wide Search for Hitler Goes On,” began “A manhunt that ranges from Berlin to Madrid, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, is underway today on the chance that Adolf Hitler is still alive.” Continuing, “The actual fate of the former Chancellor is the war’s biggest mystery and the Allies, not daring to gamble on such an issue, are tracking down every clue, investigating every rumor lest the story that Hitler took his own life beneath Berlin’s Reichschancellory prove to be history’s greatest and most tragic hoax.” The reporter indicated that the Allies were checking every report, “no matter how fantastic.” He noted that “One story has it that Hitler escaped to Japan by submarine; another that he is in Argentina; a third that he is hiding in Sweden. The latest rumors are that he is on board a yacht in the estuary of the Elbe River or living in luxury at a long-prepared lodge in the Bavarian Mountains.”[17] Moscow newspapers on September 9 carried a Tass item with heading “Rumors about Hitler,” dateline Rome, September 8, saying Rome Radio has reported that Hitler has been seen in Hamburg, living under another name.[18] Russian newspapers noted on September 10 of the probability that Hitler was still alive. The idea was even put forward that Hitler was in hiding in Germany.[19]

Harry Collins, a news reporter in London, on September 15 wrote that while there were reports that the charred body of Hitler had been found by the Russians in the Berlin Chancellery, the question remained “Is Hitler alive? The welter of speculation grows with each new ‘clue’ and ‘disclosure.’ The answer is simple-his conquerors do not know.” Collins wrote that the Russians had never accepted as proved that the body they found in the Chancellery grounds was Hitler’s. He reported that British Army authorities had declared that the latest rumor that Hitler was seen in Hamburg was “completely unfounded” and that they denied that the British were searching for Hitler. “Yet,” Collins noted, “it is known that British intelligence is far from convinced that Hitler is dead.”[20]

Izvestia ran a story that Hitler and Braun were alive and well, and living in a moated castle in Westphalia, in the British Occupation Zone of Germany.[21] An American journalist in Germany believed that in throwing out names of such countries as Spain and Argentina, Stalin was probably just paying off old political grievances against Franco and other neutrals. But, in having a go at the British he was virtually accusing them of harboring a living Hitler.[22] Dick White, head of counter-intelligence in the British Zone, described the situation as “intolerable.”[23] In September he would turn to Hugh Trevor-Roper to investigate the death of Hitler.


Footnotes

[1] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 405.

[2] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 247.

[3] Public Relations Division, SHAEF, Information for Correspondents, prepared by Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., United Press Staff Correspondent for Combined U.S. Press, June 6, 1945, File: SHAEF Releases, June 1-30, 1945, Press Releases, Jun 1944-Jul 1945 (NAID 622519) Record Group 331; Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., Associated Press Staff Writer, Representing the Combined American Press, “Hitler’s Body Found, Soviet Source Says,” The Washington Post, June 7, 1945, p. 2 and “Hitler Body Proof Declared Fairly Certain by Russians,” The New York Times, June 7, 1945, p. 1; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 247-248.

[4] Memorandum by the Assistant to the Secretary of State (Chester Bohlen), Memorandum of 6th Conversation at the Kremlin, 6 PM June 6, 1945, [Moscow], June 6, 1945, File: 740.00119 (Potsdam)/6-645, Decimal Files, 1945-1949 (NAID 302021) Record Group  59; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 22-23.

[5] Associated Press, “Zhukoff  (sic) Says Hitler Wed Actress in Berlin, May Be Alive in Europe,” The New York Times, June 10, 1945, pp 1, 14; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 23. Linge’s daily diaries of Hitler’s activities from February 29 to April 30 were probably found by the Russians, since Zhukov described the final days (Hitler’s marriage, etc) at a press conference in Berlin on June 9. He explained his knowledge of the events was based on the diaries of Hitler’s adjutant [he meant valet] which had fallen into Russian hands. Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 59. Linge, questioned about the matter, stated on February 10, 1956, that during his service with Hitler he kept a diary, which he recorded the daily events (meetings, visits, visitors, etc.). ibid.

[6] Telegram Sent, No. 3541, Caffery [from Murphy] to the Secretary of State, June 14 [11 written over with 14] 1945, Classified Cables Sent to the State Department, 1945-1949 (NAID 1719688) Record Group 84.

[7] Wireless to The New York Times, “Hitler Not on Spanish Soil, Foreign Minister Says,” The New York Times, June 11, 1945, p. 2.

[8] Telegram Received, No. 191, Harriman, Moscow to Murphy, June 15, 1945, File: Moscow, Classified Cables Received from Other Missions, 1945-1949 (NAID 1729247) Record Group 84.

[9] James MacDonald, “Hitler Cremated in Berlin, Aides Say,” The New York Times, June 21, 1945, p. 6.

[10] A partial copy of the Newsweek article is contained in File: XE003655, Hitler, Adolf, Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054Record Group 319; “International: Where There’s Smoke…,” Time, Vol. XLVI No. 1, July 2, 1945.

[11] “Hitler Buried in Tirols, Says Nazi Prisoner,” The Washington Post, July 16, 1945, p. 2.

[12] “Hitler Buried in Tirols, Says Nazi Prisoner,” The Washington Post, July 16, 1945, p. 2.

[13] Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, p. 233; Percy Knauth, “Did Adolf and Eva Die Here?” Life, July 23, 1945, p. 26; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 58.

[14] William D. Leahy, I Was There (New York, London, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1950), p. 396; James F. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1947), p. 68.

[15] Tania Long, “Russian Criticizes Berlin Food Chief,” The New York Times, July 31, 1945, p. 6.

[16] See File: 862.002, Hitler, Adolf, Central Decimal File (NAID 302021) Record Group 59. For related correspondence see File: XE003655, Hitler, Adolf, Personal Name File, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054Record Group 319 and FBI File: 65-53615, Headquarters Files from Classification 65 (Espionage) Released Under the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts, 1935-1985  (NAID 565806) Record Group 65.

[17] United Press, “World-Wide Search for Hitler Goes On,” The New York Times, September 9, 1945, p. 28.

[18] Telegram Received, No. 77, Unsigned, Moscow to Murphy, September 10, 1945, File: Moscow, Classified Cables Received from Other Missions, 1945-1949 (NAID 1729247) Record Group 84.

[19] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 251.

[20] Harry Collins, “Is Hitler Dead or Alive?” The New York Times, September 16, 1945, p. E5.

[21] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 406.

[22] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 406.

[23] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 131, 133.

Posted in Archives II, Military Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Harrison Report, President Truman, and General Eisenhower

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher and Dr. Sylvia Naylor, Archivists at the National Archives at College Park.

The Jewish community in the United States expressed many complaints during April and May 1945 about how displaced persons, particularly Jews, were being treated by the U.S. Army in Germany.  Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., apparently sometime in June, contacted the State Department about the stories he had heard and urged an immediate investigation.  He recommended that the State Department appoint Earl G. Harrison, formerly U.S. Commissioner of Immigration and then both dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the American representative to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, to conduct the inquiry.  The Acting Secretary of State, Joseph C. Grew, agreed with the recommendation, and wrote President Harry S. Truman on June 21 that the Department of State was sending Harrison to survey the conditions of the displaced persons, “particularly the Jews,” in Europe and that “an expression of your interest will facilitate the mission and reassure interested groups concerned with the future of the refugees that positive measures are being taken on their behalf.” He attached a letter for the President to send to Harrison expressing his interest.  Truman signed the letter, dated June 22.[1]

Harrison left for Europe in early July with Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Patrick M. Malin, Vice-Director of the International Committee on Refugees, and Herbert Katzski of the War Refugee Board. They visited about thirty Displaced Persons camps, often in separate groups, and what they saw and heard outraged them.[2]

Harrison sent the Secretary of State an interim report on July 28.[3]  The Secretary of State provided a copy to the War Department. On August 3, the War Department sent a cable to Eisenhower, setting forth the conclusions Harrison had made and requesting he verify the accuracy of Harrison’s conclusions and furnish the War Department the results of his investigation.[4]  Eleven days later Eisenhower cabled the War Department, setting forth his policies governing the handling of stateless, non-repatriables and other classes of displaced persons in the U.S. Zone.  He noted that former inmates of concentration camps were to receive special care and attention and that separate centers were to be established for these persons, “such as Jews.”  He then went on to address the various conclusions that Harrison had made in his interim report.  He added that: “American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is representing Jewish interests in U.S. zone. This committee has not made official complaints as it has recognized that all matters in Harrison’s report are being remedied with utmost speed consonant with difficulties of situation.”[5]

On August 24, President Truman received Harrison’s final report.[6]  The report detailed the inadequacy of housing, medical and recreational facilities, and noted the lack of any efforts to rehabilitate the internees, and addressed many issues of the plight of displaced Jews in Germany.  Harrison advised that Jews should receive the “first and not last attention” and recommended they be evacuated from Germany as quickly as possible and allowed to enter Palestine. “The civilized world,” he ended his report, “owes it to this handful of survivors to provide them with a home where they can again settle down and begin to live as human beings”[7]

President Harry S. Truman wrote General Eisenhower on August 31:

I have received and considered the report of Mr. Earl G. Harrison, our representative on the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, upon his mission to inquire into the condition and needs of displaced persons in Germany who may be stateless or non-repatriable, particularly Jews. I am sending you a copy of that report. I have also had a long conference with him on the same subject matter.

While Mr. Harrison makes due allowance for the fact that during the early days of liberation the huge task of mass repatriation required main attention, he reports conditions which now exist and which require prompt remedy. These conditions, I know, are not in conformity with policies promulgated by SHAEF, now Combined Displaced Persons Executive. But they are what actually exists in the field. In other words, the policies are not being carried out by some of your subordinate officers.

For example, military government officers have been authorized and even directed to requisition billeting facilities from the German population for the benefit of displaced persons. Yet, from the report, this has not been done on any wide scale. Apparently it is being taken for granted that all displaced persons, irrespective of their former persecution or the likelihood that their repatriation or resettlement will be delayed, must remain in camps-many of which are overcrowded and heavily guarded. Some of these camps are the very ones where these people were herded together, starved, tortured and made to witness the death of their fellow-inmates and friends and relatives.

The announced policy has been to give such persons preference over the German civilian population in housing. But the practice seems to be quite another thing.

We must intensify our efforts to get these people out of camps and into decent houses until they can be repatriated or evacuated. These houses should be requisitioned from the German civilian population. That is one way to implement the Potsdam policy that the German people ‘cannot escape responsibility for what they have brought upon themselves.’

I quote this paragraph with particular reference to the Jews among the displaced persons:

As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S. troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy.

You will find in the report other illustrations of what I mean.

I hope you will adopt the suggestion that a more extensive plan of field visitation by appropriate Army Group Headquarters be instituted, so that the humane policies which have been enunciated are not permitted to be ignored in the field. Most of the conditions now existing in displaced persons camps would quickly be remedied if through inspection tours they came to your attention or to the attention of your supervisory officers.

I know you will agree with me that we have a particular responsibility toward these victims of persecution and tyranny who are in our zone. We must make clear to the German people that we thoroughly abhor the Nazi policies of hatred and persecution. We have no better opportunity to demonstrate this than by the manner in which we ourselves actually treat the survivors remaining in Germany.

I hope you will report to me as soon as possible the steps you have been able to take to clean up the conditions mentioned in the report.

I am communicating directly with the British Government in an effort to have the doors of Palestine opened to such of these displaced persons as wish to go there.[8]

On September 14, Eisenhower sent a cable to President Truman indicating that he was very much concerned by his letter of August 31 regarding the Harrison Report.  He wrote that:

I am today starting a personal tour of inspection of Jewish displaced Persons installations. General officers of my staff have also been so engaged for several days. It is possible, as you say, that some of my subordinates in the field are not carrying out my policies, and any instances found will be promptly corrected.

However, on the brighter side of the picture, I have just received very reports from our senior Rabbi who acts as liaison officer on Hebrew matters, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee which represents Jewish interest in the United States Zone states that it has made no official complaints as it has recognized that all matters mention in Harrison’s Report are being remedied with the utmost speed consistent with the difficulties of the situation.

I will give you a detailed report after we complete our current inspections, but in the meantime you can be sure that in the United States Zone in Germany no possible effort is being spared to give these people every consideration toward better living condition, better morale and a visible goal.[9]

The original report, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” sent to the President on October 8th, is transcribed below:

This is my full report on matters pertaining to the care and welfare of the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution within the United States zone of Germany. It deals with conditions reported by Mr. Earl G. Harrison, United States representative on the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, which was forwarded to me under cover of your letter of 31 August, 1945.

Since Mr. Harrison’s visit in July, many changes have taken place with respect to the condition of Jewish and other displaced persons. Except for temporarily crowded conditions, the result of shifts between established centers and an influx of persons into centers as winter approaches, housing is on a reasonable basis. Nevertheless, efforts to improve their condition continue unabated. Subordinate commanders are under orders to requisition German houses, ground and other facilities without hesitation for this purpose.

The housing problem must be seen in full perspective. This winter the villages and towns in the United States zone of Germany will be required to house more than twice their normal population. One million and a half German air-raid refugees who were evacuated into southwestern Germany, together with some 600,000 Germans, Volksdeutsche and Sudetens who fled from Poland, New Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia before the advancing Red armies have created a condition of congestion in the United States zone which forces the most careful conservation of housing space. At this moment the United States zone is under orders to absorb 152,000 more Germans from Austria. Added to this influx of population, there is the loss of housing in bombed-out cities, averaging well over 50 per cent; the necessity for billeting large numbers of our troops; and the accommodation required for prisoners of war. The resulting housing shortage is not merely acute, but desperate. Notwithstanding this situation, in my recent inspections and those made by my staff of Jewish centers, although crowded conditions were found, in nearly every instance more than the thirty square feet per person of floor space required for our soldiers was available.

Displaced persons have absolute preference over Germans for housing, but the requirements of the distribution of supplies, the provision of medical care and the need for welfare activities make it desirable that displaced persons be sufficiently concentrated so that these services may be performed efficiently by the limited supervisory personnel and transport at our disposal. Thus, considerable use has been made of large installations such as brick barracks, apartment blocks and other public buildings in preference to scattered individual billets.

Special centers have been established for displaced Jewish persons. In the latter part of June the Armies were directed to collect into special assembly centers displaced persons who did not wish to or who could not be repatriated. On 25 July, 1945, Dr. Rabbi Israel Goldstein, president of the United Jewish Appeal, recommended that non-repatriable Jews be separated from other stateless people and placed in exclusively Jewish centers. As a result, the American Joint Distribution Committee was called upon to supervise the establishment of these centers. This policy was reiterated and expanded on 22 August. Special Jewish centers were established for “those Jews who are without nationality or those not Soviet citizens who do not desire to return to their country of origin.”

At the time of Mr. Harrison’s report there were perhaps 1,000 Jews still in their former concentration camps. These were too sick to be moved at that time. No Jewish or other displaced persons have been housed in these places longer than was absolutely necessary for medical quarantine and recovery from acute illness. It has always been our practice, not just our policy, to remove these victims with the utmost speed from concentration camps.

The assertion that our military guards are now substituting for SS troops is definitely misleading. One reason for limiting the numbers permitted to leave our assembly centers was depredation and banditry by displaced persons themselves. Despite all precautions, more than 2,000 of them died from drinking methylated alcohol and other types of poisonous liquor. Many others died by violence or were injured while circulating outside our assembly centers. Perhaps then we were overzealous in our surveillance. However, my present policy is expressed in a letter to subordinate commanders wherein I said:

Necessary guarding should be done by displaced persons themselves on the volunteer system and without arms. Military supervisors may be employed, but will not be used as sentries except in emergency. Everything should be done to encourage displaced persons to understand that they have been freed from tyranny and that the supervision exercised over them is merely that necessary for their own protection and well-being, and to facilitate essential maintenance.”

I feel that we have the problems of shelter and surveillance in hand. Of equal importance is the provision of sufficient and appetizing food. In the past, a 2,000-calorie minimum diet was prescribed for all displaced persons in approved centers. Our field inspections have shown that in many places this scale was consistently exceeded, but there have also been sporadic instances where it was not met. Three or four thousand persons of the persecuted categories, including German Jews, in the American zone have returned to their home communities. Many are there making a genuine effort to re-establish themselves. Until recently, there has been no clear-cut system of assuring adequate food for this group, although in most cases they have been given double rations.

I have recently raised the daily caloric food value per person for ordinary displaced persons in approved centers to 2,300, and for racial, religious and political persecutees to a minimum of 2,500. Feeding standards have also been prescribed and sufficient Red Cross food parcels and imported civil affairs military-government foodstuffs are on hand to supplement indigenous supplies and meet requisitions to maintain these standards. We are now issuing a directive that those Jews and other persecuted persons who choose and are able to return to their communities will receive a minimum ration of 2,500 calories per day, as well as clothing and shoes, the same as those in centers.

Clothing and shoes are available in adequate amounts and of suitable types. Uniformly excellent medical attention is available to all Jewish people in our centers, where they have generally adequate sanitary facilities. UNRRA and AJDC staffs, which are administering an increasing number of our centers, are becoming efficient and are making it possible for these people to enjoy spiritually uplifting religious programs as well as schooling for children.

It is freely admitted that there is need for improvement. The schools need more books; leisure-time and welfare activities must be further developed; paid employment outside the centers needs to be fostered; additional quantities of furniture, bedding and fuel must be obtained. We have made progress in reuniting families, but postal communications between displaced persons and their relatives and friends cannot yet be inaugurated; roads and walks must be improved in anticipation of continuing wet weather. We are conscious of these problems, we are working on them, and we have expert advice of UNRRA, of Jewish agencies and of our chaplains.

In certain instances we have fallen below standard, but I should like to point out that a whole Army has been faced with the intricate problems of readjusting from combat to mass repatriation, and then to the present static phase with its unique welfare problems. Anticipating this phase, I have fostered since before D-day the development of UNRRA so that persons of professional competence in that organization might take over greater responsibilities, and release our combat men and officers from this most difficult work.

You can expect our continued activity to meet the needs of persecuted people. Perfection never will be attained, Mr. President, but real and honest efforts are being made to provide suitable living conditions for these persecuted people until they can be permanently resettled in other areas.

Mr. Harrison’s report gives little regard to the problems faced, the real success attained in saving the lives of thousands of Jewish and other concentration-camp victims and repatriating those who could and wished to be repatriated, and the progress made in two months to bring these unfortunates who remained under our jurisdiction from the depths of physical degeneration to a condition of health and essential comfort. I have personally been witness to the expressed gratitude of many of these people for these things.[10]

The following images show Eisenhower’s prepared report on the situation from November 1945, sent from Germany by the Office of the U.S. Political Adviser to the Secretary of State.[11]

 

When Eisenhower left Germany in November much had been accomplished regarding Jewish Displaced Persons.  Conditions in the camps improved with the opening of all-Jewish camps, the concentration camps were closed, and the care of the displaced persons was transferred to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.  But much had not been accomplished, and work addressing the needs of the victims of Nazi persecution would continue through Truman’s Administration, and later that of President Eisenhower.  The work still continues today.


Footnotes

[1] Memo, Joseph Grew, Acting Secretary of State to The President, Subject: Mr. Earl G. Harrison’s mission to Europe on refugee matters, June 21, 1945, with enclosed draft letter from the President to Harrison, June 21, 1945, File: Decimal 800.4016 D.P./6-2145, Central Decimal Files 1945-1949 (NAID 302021), RG 59. Leonard Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), pp. 34-36.

[2] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, pp. 39-40.

[3] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, p. 40.

[4] Headquarters U.S. Group C.C. Incoming Message, Ref No. W-43716, From AGWAR signed WARCOS to USFET Main August 3, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994), RG 84.

[5] Headquarters U.S. Group C.C. Incoming Message, Ref No. S-16830, From USFET Main signed Eisenhower to AGWAR, August 14, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994), RG 84.

[6] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, p. 40.

[7] Letter, Report of Earl G. Harrison to The President, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, September 30 (vol. XIII, No. 327), pp. 456-463.

[8] Letter, Harry S. Truman to General Eisenhower, August 31, 1945, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, September 30 (vol. XIII, No. 327), pp. 455-456.

[9] HQ US Forces European Theater Outgoing Classified Message, Ref No. S-23374, From Eisenhower to AGWAR Personal for President Truman, September 14, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994)

[10] Despatch No. 1263, Donald R. Heath, Charge d’Affaires ad interim, Berlin to the Secretary of State, Subject: Final Report by General Eisenhower on Jewish Displaced Persons in Germany, November 5, 1945, File: Decimal 800.4016 D.P./11-4545, Central Decimal Files 1945-1949 (NAID 302021)

[11] Letter, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Office of the Commanding General, Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater to The President , October 8, 1945, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, October 21, 1945 (vol. XIII, No. 330), pp. 607-609.

 

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Hunting Hitler Part VI: The Search Begins, May 1945

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

Stars_&_Stripes_&_Hitler_Dead2

Stars and Stripes, the official US Army magazine, announcing Hitler’s death.

With Adolf Hitler’s death just before 4pm on April 30, 1945, Hitler’s right-hand man Martin Bormann realized he had no position at all, unless Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz should confirm his appointment as Party Minister in the new government that Hitler had provided for in his political testament. He also knew it was improbable that any copy of Hitler’s political testament had yet reached Doenitz, who was therefore unaware of Hitler’s death, but also of his own right of succession. Sometime between 615pm and 750pm, Bormann, Goebbels, and Admiral Voss drafted and sent to Doenitz an ambiguous radio signal in the secure naval cipher, not bothering to mention Hitler was dead. It seemed as if Bormann wished to prolong yet a little longer the authority which he loved but could no longer legally exercise.[1] The message stated “In place of the former Reich-Marshal Goering the Fuehrer appoints you, Herr Grand Admiral, as his successor. Written authorization is on its way. You will immediately take all such measures as the situation requires. Bormann.” [2]

At Ploen, Doenitz, in the presence of Admiral Kummetz, the naval Commander-in-Chief, Baltic, and Albert Speer, received a message, which had just arrived from Berlin. The message was from Bormann announcing that Doenitz was Hitler’s successor in place of Goering. Doenitz was surprised. He incorrectly assumed that Hitler had nominated him because he wished to clear the way to enable an officer of the Armed Forces to put an end to the war. Doenitz did not find out until the winter of 1945-46, when for the first time he heard the provisions of Hitler’s will, in which he demanded that the struggle should be continued. [3] That evening Doenitz met with Keitel and Jodl and discussed the message. They agreed that Hitler was dead. They discussed making offers of an immediate armistice. [4]

On the morning of May 1, Bormann decided, or agreed, to inform Doenitz that his reign had begun. Still, he avoided an explicit admission of Hitler’s death. His message, which was sent for dispatch at 740am and received by Doenitz at 1053am stated: “The will has become effective. I shall come to see you at the earliest possible moment. In my opinion, publication should be postponed until we meet.”[5]

From that Doenitz presumed that Hitler was dead. Contrary to Bormann’s opinion to hold an announcement, Doenitz felt that the German Armed Forces ought to be told what had happened as quickly as possible.  Doenitz would later write: “Of his suicide I knew nothing. Nor from the assessment of his character that I had formed did I for a moment think of suicide as a possibility. I assumed that he had met his end seeking death in battle in Berlin. I felt therefore that the announcement of his death should be couched in respectful terms.” [6]

On May 1 Doenitz broadcast the following announcement:

The Fuehrer has nominated me as his successor. In full consciousness of my responsibilities I therefore assume the leadership of the German people at this fateful hour. My first task is to save German men and women from destruction by the advancing Bolshevist enemy. It is to serve this purpose alone that the military struggle continues. For as long as the British and the Americans continue to impede the accomplishment of this task, we must also continue to fight and defend ourselves against them.

The British and the Americans in that case will not be fighting in the interest of their own people, but solely for the expansion of Bolshevism in Europe. [7]

He also issued his Order of the Day to the Armed Forces:

The Fuehrer has nominated me as his successor as Head of the State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. I assume command of all Services of the Armed Forces with the firm intention of continuing the fight against the Bolsheviks until our troops and the hundreds of thousands of German families in our eastern provinces have been saved from slavery or destruction. Against the British and the Americans I must continue to fight as long as they persist in hindering the accomplishment of my primary object. [8]

At 318pm Doenitz received a third and last signal from the Chancellery in Berlin, whence it had been dispatched at 246pm. It was from Goebbels and Bormann, and signed by Goebbels, who would commit suicide some six hours later.[9] It read:

The Fuehrer died yesterday at 1530 hours. Testament of 29 April appoints you as Reich President, Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reich Minister Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. By order of the Fuehrer, the Testament has been sent out of Berlin to you, to Field-Marshal Schoerner, and for preservation and publication. Reichsleiter Bormann intends to go to you today and to inform you of the situation. Time and form of announcement to the Press and to the troops is left to you. Confirm receipt.-Goebbels. [10]

Doenitz decided not to wait for Bormann’s arrival to inform the Germans of Hitler’s death and did so that evening. At 930pm Hamburg Radio warned the German people that “a grave and important announcement” would be made; then, came strains from Wagner’s operas and the slow movement of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony was played, followed at 10:26pm by Doenitz announcing Hitler’s death and his own succession. The Fuehrer, he said, had fallen “this afternoon;” he had died fighting “at the head of his troops.” [11]

Meanwhile on the morning of May 1, Lorenz, Zander, Johannmeier (the three couriers with Hitler’s personal will, political testament, and marriage certificate) were on the Wannsee peninsula opposite Schwanenwerder. On May 2, the day Berlin surrendered, they were on the Havel, a tributary of the Elbe. Before dawn on May 3, they set out again, and made their way to Potsdam and Brandenburg, and on May 11 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. After abandoning their mission, the men split up. Zander and Lorenz went to the house of Zander’s relatives in Hanover. From there, Zander proceeded south until he reached Munich, where he stayed with his wife, and then continued to Tegernsee. At Tegernsee, Zander hid his documents in a trunk. He changed his name, identity, status, and began a new life under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. Johannmeier meanwhile went to his family’s home in Iserlohn in Westphalia, and buried his documents in a bottle in the back garden. Lorenz ended up in Luxembourg and found work as a journalist under an assumed name. Their existence and mission would not be known to the Allies until November. [12]

The Moscow radio’s first announcement of the German report of Hitler’s death, broadcast at 312am on May 2 to the Russian people, declared that “The German radio statement evidently represents a new Fascist trick.” The radio announcement was prefaced by the phrase “it is asserted that,” indicating that the Russians were skeptical of the German version of Hitler’s fate. The broadcast said that Doenitz’s order to the German troops was repeating “the usual trickery and twists of Hitlerite propaganda.” The Moscow broadcast said that, “by the dissemination of the statement on the death of Hitler, the German Fascists evidently hope to prepare for Hitler the possibility of disappearing from the scene and going to an underground position.” [13]

The New York Times on May 2 carried an editorial entitled “The End of Hitler,” referencing the German radio announcement that Hitler had died the previous afternoon in his command post at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin “fighting to his last breath against bolshevism.” The editorial, after noting that the announcement indicated that Doenitz had been named as Hitler’s successor, observed that:

The Nazis have made lies so much a part of their politics, and their reports about Hitler’s alleged doubles have been so widely spread, that these announcements are bound to leave in many minds the suspicion that the master liar is attempting to perpetrate one last great hoax on the world in an effort to save himself, and perhaps prepare the way for his return at a later and more auspicious time. Yet, whether true or not, the announcement does mark the end of Hitler and the regime that plunged the world into this war and formed the core of the fanatical German resistance which has cost so much Allied blood and effort.

All things considered, there seems to be no good reason to doubt that Hitler is dead, or that he died as the announcement says he did. Logically, he had to die that way, and had he tried to evade his fate, it is difficult to believe that even his most devoted followers would have permitted him to do so.

The editorial added that it seemed probably that Hitler “fell as he was supposed to fall-in the roar and terror of battle, amid the crumbling walls of his capital, in the Chancellery which he had built as the seat of his world dominion, and at a moment when the conquering Russian armies were planting their victory banners on the scenes of his former triumphs.” [14]

Near the end of President Truman’s news conference on May 2, he was asked if he would care to comment on the death of Hitler or Mussolini. He responded “Well, of course, the two principal war criminals will not have to come to trial; and I am very happy they are out of the way.” He was then asked if that meant “that we know officially that Hitler is dead?” Truman responded “Yes.” He was then asked if he knew how Hitler died, to which Truman said “No, we do not.” Truman was asked “Is it official? This is confirmation that Hitler is dead?” Truman responded:  “We have the best–on the best authority possible to obtain at this time that Hitler is dead. But how he died we are not-we are not familiar with the details as yet.” Truman was asked if he could name the authority. “I would rather not” Truman replied. Finally, Truman was asked if he was convinced that the authority he gave was the best possible and that the information was true. “Yes” was his reply. The next day Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson followed the lead of Truman in expressing the opinion that Hitler was dead.[15]

Hans Fritzsche, former Ministerial Director of the Propaganda Ministry, on May 2, being held captive in Berlin, spoke about Hitler’s end. A reporter with the First U.S. Army on May 2 reported that a former high official of the German Foreign Office [Hans Fritzsche] said that day that he and his colleagues believed that Hitler was dead, his body would not be discovered, and that the Nazis would claim cremation. He also said “But admittedly there exists a possibility he is alive and attempting to disappear through feigning death.” A communiqué issued in Moscow during the night of May 2-3 announced that Hitler and Goebbels had committed suicide. This statement was attributed to Fritzsche. From London on May 3 a report was made, citing the Soviet communiqué that Fritsche had said General Krebs, Goebbels, and Hitler had all committed suicide. From London on May 3 it was reported that a deposition made by Goebbels’ chief assistant that both Goebbels and Hitler had committed suicide in Berlin was given to the world early that day by Red Army forces after they had occupied Berlin. Fritsche, was quoted in the Soviet communiqué as having reported also the suicide of Krebs. The statement of Fritsche, noted a reporter, added another version of Hitler’s demise to two already given: that he had died in battle and that he had succumbed to cerebral hemorrhage. [16]

From Moscow on May 3 came a story that the Soviets were looking for Hitler and were not convinced that he, Goebbels, and other Nazi leaders actually committed suicide. Well-known Pravda writer Nikolai Tikhonoff, wrote: “We shall see what has really happened to him. And if he escaped, we shall find him, no matter where he is.” [17]

The official Soviet news agency on May 6 sent a wireless communiqué to all communist newspapers published outside the Soviet Union that Soviet authorities were conducting a very thorough investigation into the matter of Hitler’s fate and the world would soon know the true facts. “Up to now Nazi deviousness and Machiavellian finesse have succeeded in shrouding this in mystery.” [18] An Associated Press reporter in Moscow on May 7 reported that Russian investigators combed Berlin again that day for evidence of Hitler, and although a group of German generals insisted anew that he was dead by his own hand there was nothing to indicate the Soviets were any closer to a final resolution of his reported death. A Pravda dispatch from Berlin said the examination of bodies discovered in the courtyard of the Chancellery annex, the Reichstag and other public buildings where high Nazis shot themselves, was continuing. Nothing had been discovered to back up the Hitler suicide theory, however, it stated. AP ended the piece: “As each day goes by without confirmation of Hitler’s and Goebbels’ reported suicides the suspicion grows here that Hitler and his henchmen are still alive. Most speculation is that they have gone to some neutral country, or perhaps by long-range submarine to Japan.”[19]

Time magazine on May 7 had as its cover the likeness of Hitler’s face with a red X on it. The related story stated that:

Adolf Hitler had been buried, dead or alive, in the rubble of his collapsing Third Reich. Whether or not he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage (as reported from Stockholm), or had “fallen in his command post at the Reich chancellery” (as reported by the Hamburg radio, which said that he had been succeeded as Führer by Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz), or was a prisoner of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler as a political force had been expunged. If he were indeed dead, the hope of most of mankind had been realized. For seldom had so many millions of people hoped so implacably for the death of one man. [20]

At Berlin on May 10, SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) issued a press release indicating that at least four bodies, one of which may be Hitler, had been found by the Russians in Berlin. However, none of them has been identified as being definitely that of Hitler. The press release added that the bodies of Goebbels and his family, of Martin Bormann, and of a number of other top Nazis had been found and identified with fair certainty. For a week, the press release continued, the Russians had searched through the ruins of the underground fortress where Hitler and his gang were. Somewhere amid the underground ruins, Hitler’s body charred beyond real recognition by flamethrowers, Hitler probably met his death. The Russians believe he might have been killed beforehand by the people around him. [21]

Hermann Goering on May 11, at Augsburg, told reporters that he was satisfied that Hitler was dead and that Hitler’s body had been disposed of so it would not fall into the hands of the Russians. On May 15, at Berchtesgaden, one of Hitler’s stenographers, Gerhard Herrgesell, told a reporter he thought there still was a possibility that Hitler was alive, but was personally convinced that Hitler died in the Bunker with Eva Braun, some SS men and probably Bormann. Herrgesell speculated that plans were made some time ago to prevent Hitler’s body from falling into the hands of the Russians. He thought the bodies of Hitler and a few close associates may have been placed in a vault in the basement of one of the government buildings and then sealed by blasting debris down upon it. Dr. Theodor Morrell, Hitler’s personal physician for eight years, told a reporter on May 21 that he did not believe Hitler had committed suicide, but believed that Hitler was dead, probably from a heart condition. [22]

During an informal exchange on May 13, Allied counter-intelligence officers were told by Russian officers that Soviet specialists had found new proof that Hitler, mentally unbalanced and partially paralyzed, had been killed in his bunker on May 1 by an injection of poison administered to him by Dr. Stumpfegger. [23]

Time magazine on May 14 carried a story with the title “Victory in Europe: The Many Deaths of Adolf Hitler,” in which it said that Hitler had died more deaths in one week than any man in history. The article noted that Hamburg radio had said that Hitler had died “at his command post in the Reich Chancellery, fighting the Russians to the last; said Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who had it from Heinrich Himmler on April 24; Hitler had a cerebral hemorrhage, might already be dead; said Dr. Hans Fritzsche, captured Goebbels deputy: Hitler had committed suicide; said the Tokyo radio: Hitler was killed by an exploding shell as he walked down the steps of his Berlin Chancellery; said the Paris-Presse: After a quarrel with Hitler over the continuation of the war, other Nazi leaders blew him to bits by a bomb placed in his underground fortress in the Tiergarten on April 21; said the London Daily Express: Hitler is on his way to Japan in a U-boat; and, said United Press war correspondent Edward W. Beattie Jr.: Germans believed that Hitler was killed in last year’s bomb plot.” The Time article stated that Soviet soldiers dug deep into the rubble of the Reich Chancellery for Hitler’s corpse. They did not find it, and Fritzsche explained to them: “The body has been hidden in a place impossible to find.” Time noted that the Russians were determined to find Hitler, dead or alive. Said Pravda: “Whether he escaped to hell, to the devil’s paws, or to the arms of fascist protectors, still he is no more. We shall find out what really happened to him. And if he escaped, we shall find him, no matter where he is.”[24]

On May 26 Harry L. Hopkins (Adviser and Assistant to the President), W. Averell Harriman (Ambassador to the Soviet Union), and Charles E. Bohlen (Assistant to the Secretary of State) met with Joseph Stalin at the Kremlin in Moscow. Near the end of the meeting, Hopkins said he hoped the Russians would find the body of Hitler. Stalin replied that in his opinion Hitler was not dead but hiding somewhere. He said the Soviet doctors thought they had identified the body of Goebbels and Hitler’s chauffeur [Kempka], but that he, personally, even doubted if Goebbels was dead and said the whole matter was “strange and the various talks of funerals and burials struck him as being very dubious.” Stalin said he thought that Bormann, Goebbels, Hitler and probably Krebs had escaped and were in hiding. Hopkins said that he knew the Germans had several very large submarines but that no trace of them had been found and added that he hoped they would track Hitler down wherever he might be. Stalin said he also knew of those submarines which had been running back and forth between Germany and Japan taking gold and negotiable assets from Germany to Japan. He added that he had ordered his intelligence service to look into the matter of the submarines but so far they had failed to discover any trace and therefore he thought it was possible that Hitler and company had gone in them to Japan.[25]

Office of Strategic Services officer Richard W. Cutler wrote that for a short time after their defeat, a number of Germans simply could not accept the fact that Hitler had died, even though the death had been proclaimed by Doenitz. Hitler’s body had not been found and rumors persisted that he was still alive.[26] Senior British intelligence officer Dick White had recognized from the start the importance of solving the mystery of Hitler’s death. “Hitler had captured the imagination of the German people; so long as the possibility remained that he might be still alive, the stability and security of the occupied zones could not be guaranteed.” [27] White had convinced Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief of the British Zone, of the need for an inquiry into Hitler’s fate. After the German surrender he had gone, with Montgomery’s blessing, to Berlin, where the Russians assured him that both Hitler and Goebbels had committed suicide, and that their bodies had been burnt. White had been shown a set of false teeth identified as Hitler’s. [28] Now, at the end of May the mystery deepened and widened. Many Germans were convinced Hitler was not dead, and if he did die, he had done so in the matter explained by Doenitz. Meanwhile the Soviets seemed to be increasingly changing their story. During the summer the confusion and contradictions would continue.


Footnotes

[1] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 184.

[2] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 207. Copy of a complete teleprint of the message, timed at 750pm, in German can be found in Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. Speer indicates the message was sent at 635 pm. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, trans. By Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Avon Books, 1971), p. 615, note. Another source indicates the message was sent at 540 pm. von Lang, The Secretary, p. 330. Another version reads: “Replacing former Reichsmarshall Goering, the Fuehrer appointed you, Grossadmiral, as his successor. Confirmation in writing dispatched. You are to take immediately any action resulting from the present situation.” Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Bormann, April 30, 1945, received 635pm, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5,, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331.

[3] Admiral Karl Doenitz, Memoirs: A Documentary of the Nazi Twilight (New York: Belmont Books, 1961), pp. 188-189, 191.

[4] Testimony of Wilhelm Keitel, taken at Nuremberg, Germany, October 10, 1945, 1040-1305, by Mr. Thomas J. Dodd, OUSCC, File: Keitel, Wilh. (Vol. IV 4 Oct-10 Oct 45), I., Interrogations, Summaries of Interrogations, and Related Records, 1945-1946 (NAID 6105243) Record Group 238.

[5] Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Bormann, May 1, 1945, received 1053am, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331. A copy of this message in German can found in Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. According Doenitz the message was dispatched at 740am on May 1. Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 191.

[6] Doenitz, Memoirs, pp. 191, 192.

[7] Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 192.

[8] Doenitz, Memoirs, pp. 192-193. On May 1, Doenitz also issued the following declaration to the members of the German Armed Forces: “I expect discipline and obedience. Chaos and ruin can be prevented only by the swift and unreserved execution of my orders. Anyone who at this juncture fails in his duty and condemns German women and children to slavery and death is a traitor and a coward. The oath of allegiance which you took to the Fuehrer now binds each and every one of you to me, whom he himself appointed as his successor. Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 198.

[9] Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 198.

[10] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 210-211. Copy of a teleprint of the message in German can be found at Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. Another source indicates that this message was sent at 216pm on May 1 and was signed by both Goebbels and Bormann. von Lang,  The Secretary, pp. 331-332. Another version of the message reads: “Fuehrer died yesterday 1530 hours. His will dated 29 April appoints you as President of the Reich, Reichminister Dr. Goebbels as Prime Minister, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reichsminister Seyss-Inequart as Foreign Minister. Upon the Fuehrer’s orders, copies of his will were dispatched to you and to Field Marshall Schoerner and taken away from Berlin in order to safeguard it for the public. Reichsleiter Bormann will try today to come to see you, in order to inform you about the situation. Form and time of announcement to public and troops are at your own discretion. Acknowledge receipt.” Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Goebbels, May 1, 1945, received 318 pm, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331.

[11] Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 211. Other sources indicated that Doenitz had made the announcement at 930pm on May 1 during which time Doenitz had indicated that Hitler, “fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism, fell for Germany this afternoon in his operational command post in the Reich Chancellery.” Fischer, Nazi Germany, pp. 568-569; Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945, p. 381.

[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) RG 319; Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: XE013274, Willi Johannmeier, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 219-220; Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, p. 179; Adam Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010), p. 139; Herman Rothman, ed. by Helen Fry, Hitler’s Will, (Glocestershire, United Kingdom: The History Press, 2009), pp. 101, 103.

[13] Associated Press, “Just a ‘Fascist Trick,’ Moscow Radio Asserts,” The New York Times, May 2, 1945, p. 2.

[14] “The End of Hitler,” The New York Times, May 2, 1945, p. 22.

[15] Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States Harry S. Truman Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President April 12 to December 31, 1945 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1961), pp. 38-39; Special to The New York Times, “Truman Believes Hitler Dead,” The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 10; Special to The New York Times, “Stimson Accepts Death Story,” The New York Times, May 4, 1945, p. 3.

[16] United Press, “Cremation Report Predicted,” The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 10; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 243;Cable to The New York Times, London, May 3, 1945, “Goebbels and Fuehrer Died By Own Hands, Aide Says, The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 1.

[17] Wireless to The New York Times, “Russians Find No Trace of Hitler in Berlin, Moscow Paper Reports,” The New York Times, May 4, 1945, p. 3.

[18] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 244.

[19] Associated Press, “New Berlin Search Fails to Find Hitler,” The New York Times, May 8, 1945, p. 10.

[20] “Germany: The Betrayer,” Time, Vol. XLV, No. 19, May 7, 1945.

[21] Public Relations Division, SHAEF, SHAEF Release No. 1450, May 10, 1945, File: SHAEF Public Relations Division Releases, May 1-10, 21-31, 1945, Press Releases, Jun 1944-Jul 1945 (NAID 622519) Record Group 331.

[22] Associated Press, “Scared Goering Puts Entire Blame for Atrocities on Hitler,” The Washington Post, May 12, 1945, p. 2; Jack Fleischer, United Press, “Hitler in Fuddle for 2 Days Deciding He’d Die in Berlin,” Washington Times-Herald, May 16, 1945, p. 4; Tania Long, “Doctor Describes Hitler Injections,” The New York Times, May 22, 1945, p. 5.

[23] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 244-245.

[24] “Victory In Europe: The Many Deaths of Adolf Hitler,” Time, Vol. XLV, No. 20, May 14, 1945.

[25] Memorandum by the Assistant to the Secretary of State (Bohlem), of 1st Conversation at the Kremlin, 8 P.M., May 26, 1945, File: 740.00119 (Potsdam)/6-645, Central Decimal Files, 1910-1963 (NAID 302021) Record Group 59.

[26] Richard W. Cutler, Counterspy: Memoirs of a Counterintelligence Officer in World War II and the Cole War (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2004), p. 65.

[27] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 133.

[28] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 133.

Posted in Archives II, Military Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Tale of Two Memos

Morgan Fox was a summer intern in the Archives 1 Processing Section in Washington, DC.

During my internship in the Archives 1 Processing Section, I had the opportunity to work on various projects to help make records more accessible to researchers.  One of the first projects involved the creating of a folder list for a series entitled, Commander Scouting Force, Sundry Subject Files, 1937-1942 (NAID 18521273), which is part of Record Group 313 (Records of Naval Operating Forces).  As I poured through the boxes of this series, the contents of one file labeled “Letters and Memos from the Flag Office” caught my eye.  Inside were two formerly confidential memoranda, both issued from the same naval station, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, but on different dates.  What I found interesting about these two documents was the timeline: the first memorandum was dated just over one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, on October 30, 1941; while the second was written almost one month afterwards on January 8, 1942.

The first memorandum was written by H.E. Kimmel, a four-star admiral of the U.S. Navy and the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, and forwarded to notable staff and commanders such as Vice Admiral William Pye, Vice Admiral William Halsey, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, Rear Admiral Walter Anderson, Rear Admiral Milo Draemel, and Rear Admiral Herbert Leary.  The memorandum was issued from the USS Pennsylvania, a super-dreadnought battleship established as the lead ship of the Pennsylvania class in the Navy.  As many know, the USS Pennsylvania was one of the first ships to open fire on the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This formerly confidential memo highlights seven specific points made at a conference between Kimmel and the above-listed commanders on October 29, 1941.  It begins by mentioning the commanders’ suggestion to amend the current sortie plan “should it become necessary to sortie at night.” (Note: A “sortie” is an attack made by troops coming out from a position of defense or strongpoint.)  Also discussed was the need to reduce the lights during a sortie, specifically buoy lights that must be “shaded from overhead,” as well as improve the markings in the harbor in order to increase visibility on incoming boats.

Adm. Kimmel makes note of other items discussed during the conference: a “blackout on the land in order to protect our patrol craft operating near land from being silhouetted and thereby presenting excellent targets to submarines”; the “necessity for getting ahead” with night gunnery practices; the modification of security measures in operating areas; and an increase in the readiness of all ships in the event of an emergency.

However, what made this memo so significant to me were the words and phrases sprinkled throughout, like “as soon as after war is declared as may be practicable”; “if and when the situation worsens”; and “the disabling of a major unit might cause internal repercussions.”  Even though I knew what was to happen in one month’s time, I still felt a sense of foreboding when reading the memo.

The second memorandum (also formerly confidential) was written by Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, the same who was copied on the first memo. He was also copied onto the Night Order Book, which is a set of guidelines added to the standing orders of the Master of the ship who is in charge of everything on board.  The memorandum was issued from the USS Lexington (CV-2), one of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers that remained part of the United States Pacific Fleet for her entire career; the fleet headquarters is even located in Pearl Harbor Naval Station. The USS Lexington served as a flagship for Task Force 11 out of Pearl Harbor under Vice Admiral Brown.

Due to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Brown issued this memorandum to outline correct actions for Staff Duty Officers and others to take in the event of emergencies.  He emphasized that Staff Duty Officers should not hesitate to take “prompt and immediate action” during an emergency, as long as they reported their actions later.  These reports, however, needed to be “so phrased as to give the Officer receiving the report a clear understanding of the situation and all of its implications.”  For example, Officers were instructed not to use the simple phrase, “Submarine bearing __”, which is vague and calls into question whether or not a submarine has been sighted by planes, ships, or vessels; has sound contact; or has neared the ship or sea.  The phrase also provides no detail about the actions the Staff Duty Officer has taken or believes should be taken upon detecting a submarine. Instead, Officers should create complete, detailed reports in order to have a clear picture and specific understanding of the situation at large, whether it be a Japanese ship about to attack or otherwise. The second memorandum thus functions as an extreme word of caution to expect the unexpected, even if it comes in the form of a surprise attack from the enemy.

While I don’t claim to be a naval or World War II historian, I do find it fascinating that these seemingly innocuous documents are sitting in files in boxes, written before and after an event that was one of the defining moments in U.S. history.  It goes to show that you never know what you may find when exploring records at the National Archives.

Posted in Archives I, History, Military Records, The Process, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Hunting Hitler Part V: The Garden (Evening, April 30)

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

It was now shortly after 4pm, April 30, 1945. Both Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were dead, having committed suicide some ten minutes earlier. Linge, Hitler’s valet, placed Hitler’s body on a blanket and wrapped it around him, and he and another man picked up the body and moved it into the central corridor. There, Linge at the front end carrying the legs and Hoegl, Ewald Lindloff, and Hans Reisser at the back end carrying the head and shoulders, and possibly Sturmbannfuehrer Franz Schedle (commander of the SS Escort), immediately moved through the central corridor in the direction of the bunker’s emergency exit that led into the Chancellery garden. As they moved through the bunker, only the lower extremities – clad in black trousers, black silk socks and black leather shoes, such as Hitler habitually wore – were visible to Axmann, Mohnke (who had just shown up) and others and clearly recognizable. Initially following Hitler’s body upstairs out of the bunker were Goebbels, Krebs, and Burgdorf. Guensche, after interacting with Eric Kempka, who had just shown up, followed the others up the stairs.[1]

Meanwhile, Kempka, who had been tasked with finding petrol and having it placed near the garden exit and then to report to Guensche, hurried by the quickest route over rubble and wrecked vehicles in the Chancellery area to Guensche, to find out what was happening. At the moment he entered the bunker, Guensche was leaving Hitler’s room, and they met in the lobby to the situation conference room. Kempka wrote “His features had changed visibly. As white as chalk and distraught, he stared at me.” Kempka told Guensche that he must be mad asking him to endanger the lives of a half dozen of his men to bring petrol under the extensive and continuing artillery bombardment. Guensche told him Hitler was dead. Kempka asked where Braun was. Guensche said she was still in Hitler’s room and briefly told him about the suicides. Just then Bormann came out of the antechamber with Braun’s body in his arms. Those that witnessed this could see that the blanket she had been wrapped in did not cover her head and feet. Kempka felt that Bormann “was carrying her as if she were a sack of potatoes…So I grabbed the body of Eva Braun Hitler from Bormann and began to carry her up the stairs myself. I think if Bormann had resisted my effort, I would have hauled him off and clobbered him, but he made no protest.” Kempka noticed that she bore no signs of injuries or blood. When he had reached the middle landing of the staircase with her body, Guensche came down the steps toward him, and noticing that Kempka’s strength was failing, took the body from Kempka without saying a word. Guensche immediately noticed an intense smell of almonds emanating from the body and noticed that the body showed no signs of injury. Guensche turned the body over to SS officers as he reached the top of stairs. Kempka would be behind them.[2]

As the guard, Hans Hofbeck, opened the emergency exit door, Erich Mansfeld, on duty at the guard station in the bunker’s concrete tower, opened the iron window of the tower and noticed who he thought to be Hofbeck and three members of Hitler’s bodyguard running out. A few minutes later Mansfeld left the tower and went over to the emergency exit to see what was happening. He went into the exit and immediately met several SS officers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket, with black-trousered legs up to the knees protruding from it, as well as part of the left arm and all of the right arm. Mansfeld immediately believed it was Hitler based on the black trousers and the shoes he recognized. Then Mansfeld saw another SS officer carrying the unmistakable corpse of Braun, who he had seen on many occasions and who was wearing the same dress she had been wearing when Mansfeld had talked to her about 12 hours earlier. Behind them followed Bormann, Goebbels, Guensche, Linge, Kempka, Burdorf, and possibly Stumpfegger. Guensche shouted at Mansfeld to get out of the way quickly and return to his post. In the excitement of the moment Mansfled remained a few minutes on the stairway leading from the bunker and then he returned to his tower.[3]

As the bodies were on the verge of being carried out the emergency exit door to the garden, the Reich Chancellery area was being heavily shelled by the Russians. There were explosions very close by. Numerous fountains of soil plumed up. The air was filled with dust and smoke. Waiting for a pause between the shelling, both corpses were carried out through the exit, where they were laid down next to each other about two to four meters from the garden exit. At the moment Braun’s body was being put down, Bormann stepped up to Hitler’s body and freed the head from the blanket and stared at him for several seconds. While Guensche was still bent over, having helped put Braun’s body down, he again saw Hitler’s head for a short moment. In the meantime the bloodstains from the temple had spread further over the face. Then Bormann pulled the blanket over him again. [4]

Meanwhile Kempka rushed back to the shelter of the bunker, stopping for a moment, waiting for the next salvoes to arrive. Then he seized a canister of petrol, ran out again and placed it near the two bodies. Kempka then took off the cap of the petrol can. But then, shells exploded close by, spattering them with earth and dust, metal splinters whirred and whistled above them. Again he and some of the others who had not returned to inside the bunker exit earlier (probably Guensche and Bormann) ran to the bunker entrance for cover. They waited for the shelling in their area to die down. Then Kempka ran out speedily and grabbed the canister and poured the contents over the two bodies, while Guensche and Linge grabbed canisters, left the bunker exit, and poured petrol on Braun. Flying earth from exploding shells continued to spatter them. Kempka then fetched one fuel canister after another from the bunker entrance and poured them until the bodies were sufficiently soaked. Perhaps 40 to 50 gallons were used. Someone quickly tried to set the corpses on fire with a match, but this proved impossible, because of the various fires in the garden had created a fierce wind circulating in the area. Then the artillery bombardment increased to such an extent that it was no longer possible to leave the safety of the bunker entrance and for a few minutes none ventured out. [5]     

Next, either Linge or Guensche acquired a large rag near the fire hoses at the bunker exit. The rag was torn in half, a petrol canister near the exit was opened, and the rag was soaked by Guensche with the contents. Goebbels took a box of matches from his pocket and handed it to either Bormann or Kempka, who lit the rag, handed it to Linge or Guensche who threw it towards the petrol-soaked corpses, which caught fire immediately. A gigantic flame shot upwards, soon followed by billowing black smoke. Standing at the bunker entrance Bormann, Goebbels, Stumpfegger, Guensche, Kempka, Linge, and some of the others, very quickly raised their hands for a last Hitler salute. The door had to be quickly slammed shut against the encroaching fire and fumes. They, the SS officers, and probably Krebs, Burgdorf, and Rattenhuber, lingered in silence by the closed door. Then they went down the stairs into the bunker. Guensche remained in the exit for a short while, and he ordered Hofbeck not to let anyone in or out. Subsequently, Guensche, like all the others, went back down into the bunker. The whole process had taken less than ten minutes. [6]

A few seconds before the burning rag was thrown onto the bodies Sergeant Hermann Karnau, one of the guards, stumbled upon the two bodies lying side by side, close to the door of the Bunker. Karnau had disobeyed orders and out of curiosity, came through the tunnel from the Chancellery to the main entrance of the bunker. When he got there he found the door bolted. So he retraced his steps to the Chancellery. From there he went into the garden, with the intention of entering the bunker from the emergency exit door. As he neared the door, he saw two bodies on the ground. He immediately recognized one of the bodies aa Hitler. It was lying on its back wrapped in a blanket. The blanket was folded open on both sides of the upper body, so that the head and chest were uncovered. The skull was partially caved in and the face encrusted with blood. The second corpse was lying with its back upwards. It was completely covered by the blanket except for the lower legs. He noticed jerricans near the bodies. As he was looking at the bodies, they burst, spontaneously it seemed, into flame. He could not explain the sudden combustion. He saw no one. He was three feet away from the bodies. From his vantage point the interior of the exit was not visible, so he did not see the people in the shelter of the entrance nor the burning rag thrown on the bodies. While this was taking place, the whole complex of the Chancellery lay under heavy fire, so Karnau did not linger to watch the burning corpses. By the time he was entering the emergency exit door, the others had already gone back into the bunker. Hofbeck allowed him entry and he went down to the bunker. There he met Schedle, who told him “The Fuehrer is dead…he is burning outside.” [7]

After the bodies had been set alight and all the people had returned to the interior of the bunker, Hofbeck remained on guard and again opened the door a short time later, which however was only possible for a brief moment because heavy petrol fumes and smoke blew towards him. There was a wind blowing towards the exit. On opening the door he could see that the bodies were still burning.[8]

Mansfeld having just returned to the tower, saw through an observations slit in the tower a huge column of black smoke coming from the direction of the emergency exit. A few minutes later, when the smoke had partly cleared, he could see the two burning bodies, about, he thought, two meters, to the left of the emergency exit. He recognized the body of Braun but could not be certain of the other body as that of Hitler’s.[9]

Meanwhile, Gertrude Junge (Hitler’s secretary) in the upper bunker with the Goebbels children, said that shortly after 410pm the smell of gasoline penetrated the bunker. Sometime before 430pm she recalled that Guensche came along, sat down next to her, and said “‘Now I completed the last and most difficult order in my life. I burnt the Chief and Eva. Eva was still warm when I carried her up. But the poison smells terribly, I cannot endure this smell anymore. Sturmbannfuehrer Heinz Linge has carried out the Chief. Now there is a heap of ashes lying and that is all that still remained.’” Sometime later, Junge said she was told by Linge, that both Hitler and Braun had just been cremated in the park of the Reich Chancellery, as was their will. Junge also said she met Kempka later and he told her that the bodies had been consumed.[10]

Guensche, Linge, and Kempka, besides speaking with Junge, would spend time clearing out Hitler’s quarters, retrieving the pistols; removing Hitler’s clothing, his personal effects and his medicine; and having the blood-stained rug taken outside and burned near the burning corpses. Linge burned all the papers that lay on Hitler’s desk.[11]   

Meanwhile Mansfeld on duty in the tower, at intervals he saw SS men pour more petrol on the bodies to keep them alight. Around 530pm, Mansfeld was relieved of his post by Karnau. On his way to the emergency exit he recognized the remains of the still burning body of the woman. The other was almost completely burned and no longer recognizable. During the next three hours, Karnau and Mansfeld took turns in the tower. During those hours, when they left the tower, they looked at the bodies, which were charred and no longer identifiable. By 8pm the lower parts of both bodies had been burned away. At 9pm when Mansfeld visited the bodies again, they were still burning, but the flame was low. [12]

What happened next is not clear, especially since much contradictory information was provided by various participants, especially Mansfeld and Kempka, mostly during the early 1950s. It appears, however, whatever remains existed of the two bodies, sometime after 9pm, were moved on a tent shelter-half and dragged to a deep shell crater, about four or five meters from the exit, in the opposite direction of where the bodies were initially laid and burned. There the remains were placed in the crater and covered with earth and rubble. Sometime between 11pm and 1130pm, Mansfeld, from the tower, no longer saw the bodies. He did see, however, a bomb crater four to five meters in front of the emergency exit door, half filled with dirt. He was of the opinion the bodies were buried in the crater.[13]   


Footnotes

[1] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Testimony of Erich Kempka, July 3, 1946, Official Transcripts International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany, July 3, 1946, p. 12,897, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation  Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 201-202; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 153-154, 192-196; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 78, 79; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 33, 35, 41,Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[2] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Testimony of Erich Kempka, July 3, 1946, Official Transcripts International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany, July 3, 1946, p. 12,897, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 201-202; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 76-78; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 193, 195, 196, 197; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 260; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 14, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 33, 34, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[3] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations,  Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 202-203.

[4] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS,  United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 78-79; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 192, 193, 202-203;  Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195. Kempka said that when the bodies were laid down nobody lifted the blanket. He may have been correct, but it is also possible that he was still in the exit entrance or in the process of retrieving the first canister of fuel and did not witness what was happening to the bodies. [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 22, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[5] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 203;  Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 79-80; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 197, 198, 199, 211; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 19, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[6] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 80; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 197-199; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 23, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University. The cremation Axmann believed took place about 430pm. Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, p. 38, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[7] Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203-204; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 200; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 263-264.

[8] Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199.

[9] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153.

[10]  Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, pp. 5-6, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude,  Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 48, 50, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[11] Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 89; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 161, 162, 175; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, pp. 272, 273.

[12] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 204; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 214.

[13] Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, pp. 17, 25, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 55, n. 70; 148, 149, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218-219, 220-222; Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, p. 221; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 266, 267, 268; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 204-205, 205, n. 11; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 121-122.

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