See also: Martin Bormann – Nazi in Exile
Much of the For The Record series deals with the Bormann Organization and the research done on that by the late Paul Manning. Holding the official title of Reichsleiter, and having officially succeeded Hitler as the head of the NSDAP (German Nazi Party), Martin Bormann remains relatively unknown. Feared by other, better-known Nazi leaders for his perseverance, cunning, industriousness and capacity for detail, Martin Bormann was the real “power behind the throne” in the Third Reich.
Paul Manning’s research was undertaken, in considerable measure, as a result of the encouragement of Edward R. Murrow. “. . . My wartime CBS colleague, the late Edward R. Murrow, had talked at length with me about developing the Bormann saga as a solid and historically enlightening, valuable postwar story. . . .”
Captured documents in Manning’s possession reveal that on August 10, 1944 a conference of top representatives of German industry and finance enacted a flight capital program in which Germany’s economic wealth was to be legally, but clandestinely, moved to “Safehavens” in neutral countries. (FTR#305.)
Authorized by Bormann and executed by the SS, this conference paved the way for the tremendous economic power of Nazi Germany to power a postwar perpetuation of a Third Reich gone underground. As the captured documents reveal, an important provision of this conference was that German finance and industry would continue to sustain the Nazi party after the formal surrender of Germany. The Third Reich has been able to survive—underground—in deadly, Mafia-like fashion.
His death at the end of the war having been effectively faked by Gestapo chief (and later security director for the Bormann group) SS General Heinrich Muller, Martin Bormann proceeded to lead the economic and political affairs of the Underground Reich and (in effect) the Federal Republic of Germany. The Bormann group is the aggregate of five of the principal tides of capital flow in the 20th century (see FTR#99).
As a result, the deep political and para-political influence of the organization is enormous. This Underground Reich wields consummate economic power. Its intelligence links with the Cold War milieu of the Gehlen espionage outfit and powerful political forces in the West during the Cold War further extended its reach.
At the helm of the Bormann security outfit was General Muller. Former Gestapo chief Mueller controlled the security organization for Bormann for many years and institutionally shaped it until his retirement. Former Gestapo chief Heinrich Mueller’s outfit embraced the operational arm of the SS/ODESSA network. That intelligence outfit was, in and of itself, a powerful political and military component as well.
The seminal work on the Bormann Organization was done by the late Paul Manning, who published a book which sourced captured Third Reich documents, the files of the OSS (America’s World War II civilian intelligence agency and predecessor of the CIA), FBI files and British Intelligence sources. Most importantly, Manning accesses Treasury Department files from “Operation Safehaven” (the code-name for the US intelligence operation designed to interdict the Bormann flight capital program). Supplementing the documentation was the field research that Paul Manning conducted using the journalistic contacts developed as a war correspondent. Manning has authored a remarkable and essential document.
Part of the CBS radio network team that covered the war in Europe under the stewardship of the late Edward R. Murrow, Manning trained as a gunner aboard B-17s and Liberators (B-24s) in order to cover the air war in Europe. (While on such a mission, he shot down a ME-109. See excerpt below from Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile recounting some of these missions.) When Germany surrendered, he broadcast the ceremony on the CBS radio network. Manning then trained as a gunner aboard a B-29, and flew missions over Japan to cover the closing phase of the air war there. Eventually, he broadcast the surrender of Japan from the deck of the USS Missouri for CBS. After the war, Manning wrote for (among other publications) The New York Times, and authored several books.
Much of his postwar career was devoted to researching the Nazi flight-capital program÷through this research he came to write Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. Although his research on Bormann was partially funded by CBS News, the network never “went” with the story. Those who would denigrate his work on the Bormann Organization should carefully weigh their own journalistic credentials against Paul Manning’s, in addition to taking into account the research resources accessed in the book.
Manning paid dearly for his efforts. He was actively marginalized, his family suffered the resultant economic hardship. (FTR 145 contains a reading of some of Mr. Manning’s correspondence with professional colleagues, discussing the documentary sources utilized for his book, as well as some of the professional difficulties he encountered during his endeavor. Side 1 of FTR 152 is the story of the frustration of the publication of Manning’s Bormann book. When Manning was finally able to get Lyle Stuart, Inc. to publish the book, Lyle Stuart had both of his legs broken the week the book was published. FTR 125 is a spontaneous interview with Paul’s son Peter, conducted after Peter called Mr. Emory’s show. FTR 155 consists of the last published work that Paul did. Both FTR 283, and Side 1 of FTR 152 discuss Mr. Manning’s riveting professional dialogue with the Bormann group, through professional intermediaries.) Eventually, Paul’s son Gerry was murdered in retribution for the Bormann research, and as a warning against publishing a follow-up volume In Search of Martin Bormann. The “target selection” by the Bormann group for its retribution may well have been determined by the dedication of Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile. “To my wife, Peg, and to our four sons, Peter, Paul, Gerald and John, whose collective encouragement and belief in this book as a work of historic importance gave me the necessary persistence and determination to keep going.”
In Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile, Paul Manning presents an account of the combat missions he flew (and covered) during the war.
“Early in 1943, a small group of American war correspondents volunteered to be trained for flying with the B-17’s in their missions over Germany. This was intended by the U.S. Eighth Air Force to communicate to Americans back in the States the eyewitness story of these air battles and the bravery of their sons. I was one of these trainees, representing CBS news. There were also Walter Cronkite, then of United Press, Gladwin Hill of Associated Press and later of the New York Times, Robert Post of the New York Times, Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, William Wade of International News Service, Sergeant Scott Denton of Yank, and Sergeant Andy Rooney of Stars and Stripes. As a jocular takeoff of World War I’s ‘Fighting 69th,’ we were referred to as ‘the writing 69th’ by Colonel Jock Whitney, a peacetime publisher and financier, and Colonel Mac Kriendler of 21 Club fame, who were among those of the Eighth Air Force who had sold the concept to General Ira Eaker. We were sent to gunnery school in England, where we learned to identify all German fighter planes and to strip down and reassemble within 40 seconds the Browning machine guns used in the B-17’s and Liberators. This was essential knowledge, for seconds saved in fixing the stoppage in a malfunctioning machine gun could be the difference between life and death. We were not flying as excess baggage but as gunners first, war reporters second.
“Over Wilhelmshaven, on our first mission, I shot down a Messerschmitt fighter that had come right at us from the front, where I was acting nose-gunner. On the same mission, Bob Post’s Liberator came apart in midair from the combined flak from the ground and cannon fire from attacking German fighters. In his plane, none survived.” (pp. 110-111.)
“There was a year of such missions. I didn’t fly them all, just those that had special news interest. I would remain in London between missions, interviewing people and gathering news for my CBS broadcasts on ‘The World Today’ each morning. But I still recall vividly today the bombing run that I made in the company of a crew on their 25th mission; come hell or high water, they were determined to make it home, back to the States.” (p. 111.)
“We lifted up, off the airfields of East Anglia, in the early morning, 200 B-17’s climbing and gathering into close formation over the North Sea. At 12,000 feet the crew clipped on oxygen masks, fired test bursts from their Brownings, and then headed for Germany and the target, which on that day was the harbor of Gdynia, Poland. Here the Gneisenau and the Stuttgart, two German battleships, 17 U-boats, destroyers, and several smaller vessels were at anchor. It was to be a 2,000-mile round-trip flight, right across Germany, and as we crossed the coastline at daybreak the German fighters began picking us up. It was a running battle all the way to Gdynia, then ‘bombs away,’ and the swing around for a return. Some of the B-17’s limped on to Switzerland with engine malfunctions; others crossed the Baltic for safe haven in Sweden. At 20,000 feet over Poland the sea seemed a toy pond, and Sweden beckoned invitingly. Leningrad was but 400 miles to the east, but the pilot had home on his mind. The formation closed for the self-protection of crossfire and we headed for England. Here is a quote from the story I wrote on my return, which I broadcast over CBS.” (Idem.)
“Across western Germany, you could feel the big ship wobbling badly. It had taken too much flak, too much cannon fire. The holes in the fuselage ripped larger. We couldn’t keep up with the other planes and our pilot dropped lower with each mile until we were hedge-hopping 30 feet off the ground, which kept the fighters from coming up from underneath. We passed so low over a German gun emplacement in Holland I could see the sweat on the backs of the German gunners on this sunny day, trying to bring us down. Bill laid one burst right down the middle of a pathway leading to a pillbox. His shells tore a gunner apart.” (Idem.)
“We prayed that the gas would hold out. Suddenly it became necessary to lighten the load as we began crossing the North Sea. The fighters had turned away and then we were skimming low over the water. Everything moveable went overboard: machine guns, radio, empty shell cases, oxygen tanks. We made it. The captain pulled the shattered craft up over English cliffland and skidded the length of an RAF runway to a halt. All of us were still for maybe four minutes, exhausted and drained. Bill the bombardier sank down to the floor of the plane with his head between his arms. The navigator fumbled abstractedly with his maps, folding and refolding them. I just sat, thinking: ‘I’m alive.’ Five of the crewmen would never again have that or any other feeling. They had died on the way back, one with his head shot off. Fourteen hours of hell on the air.” (p. 112.)
Having passed away in the 1990s, Paul Manning is no longer able to speak directly for himself. Were he able to do so, he might echo the words of the dying Captain Miller (played by Tom Hanks) addressing Private Ryan at the end of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ “Earn This! Earn It!”