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Excerpt from pp. 179–183 of Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile

The SS sergeant said that much lat­er he had met up with Bormann’s com­pan­ion of those fate­ful ten days; he assured him that the par­ty min­is­ter had made it safe­ly through the British lines by fol­low­ing the Auto­bahn to the out­skirts of Flens­burg, where he was to make con­tact with Grand Admi­ral Doenitz.

Mar­tin Bor­mann, in the inter­im, had met Hein­rich Mueller, who had slipped out of Berlin ear­li­er and was wait­ing in a pre­arranged safe house. Mueller told Bor­mann it would not be wise to meet with the new Reich pres­i­dent, who by now had car­ried out the uncon­di­tion­al sur­ren­der in both Rheims and Berlin. He pre­dict­ed a war crimes tri­al of all Ger­man lead­ers, and said that Bor­mann would be invit­ing seri­ous dif­fi­cul­ty if he sur­faced at this par­tic­u­lar time. Mar­tin Bor­mann seclud­ed him­self in a pri­vate Ger­man san­i­tar­i­um in Schleswig-Hol­stein. The Gestapo chief, tak­ing on the secu­ri­ty of the new par­ty min­is­ter and of his safe trans­porta­tion to South Amer­i­ca by assort­ed routes, made the exact plans that he would effect at pre­cise­ly the right time.

Mueller had already ini­ti­at­ed a strat­e­gy of decep­tion to explain his own dis­ap­pear­ance from promi­nent cir­cles in Berlin. The week he slipped out of the Ger­man cap­i­tal, his griev­ing fam­i­ly gath­ered for his “funer­al.” A cof­fin was borne to a ceme­tery where it was buried with appro­pri­ate cer­e­mo­ny. The grave was marked with a head­stone bear­ing the words “Our Dear Dad­dy,” Mueller’s name, his birth­date, and the date of his alleged death in Berlin in 1945.

Sev­er­al years fol­low­ing this inci­dent, an edi­tor of a Ger­man news mag­a­zine, act­ing on an informer’s tip gen­er­at­ed by the mas­ter decep­tion­ist Mueller him­self, from South Amer­i­ca, obtained a court order in 1963, and the grave was opened. When the cof­fin in ques­tion was unearthed and opened, the edi­tor and the attend­ing offi­cials found three skele­tons, none remote­ly match­ing Hein­rich Mueller’s short and thick-set mea­sure­ments, or his marked­ly promi­nent fore­head.

A decep­tion plan for Bor­mann had been com­plet­ed by Mueller in Berlin. Tops in police work and crafty beyond imag­in­ing, he pro­vid­ed for a match­ing skele­ton and skull, com­plete with iden­ti­cal den­tal work, for future foren­sic experts to pon­der over and to reach con­clu­sions that suit­ed his pur­pose. Mueller was a for­mer inspec­tor of detec­tives in the Munich police depart­ment; he had been brought into the high­er ech­e­lons of the Gestapo by Rein­hard Hey­drich because of his pro­fes­sion­al­ism and bril­liance. He had risen to the rank of SS chief group leader and senior gen­er­al of the Waf­fen SS. The solu­tion was ele­men­tary; his moti­va­tion was pro­tec­tion and enhance­ment of the high­est author­i­ty of the state. To this prin­ci­ple, Mueller had been devot­ed for a decade as chief of police.

His scheme of sub­sti­tut­ing a stand-in for Mar­tin Bormann’s body in the freight yards of Berlin was told to me three dif­fer­ent times by three dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als. One was an agent whose career was in the Secret Intel­li­gence Ser­vice of the British For­eign Office, one served the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many, and one was a mem­ber of Mossad, the exte­ri­or ser­vice of Israeli intel­li­gence. The first tip came over din­ner in 1947, in the U.S. press club in Frank­furt. It was the day I returned from Berlin and a per­son­al meet­ing with Gen­er­al Lucius D. Clay, mil­i­tary gov­er­nor of the U.S. Zone of Occu­pa­tion. Gen­er­al Clay had offered me the posi­tion of his civil­ian deputy, but I had turned it down with some reluc­tance, pre­fer­ring to remain a Euro­pean reporter for Amer­i­can news­pa­pers. Dur­ing the press club din­ner, the British agent and I dis­cussed the fas­ci­nat­ing and bizarre dis­ap­pear­ance of Reich­sleit­er Bor­mann; this source said flat­ly that Mueller had engi­neered Bormann’s escape, using the device of a con­cen­tra­tion camp look-alike to throw future inves­ti­ga­tors off the scent. Many years lat­er, in 1973, on a vis­it to Bonn, a con­ver­sa­tion with one of Gen­er­al Gehlen’s aides in the Fed­er­al Repub­lic intel­li­gence ser­vice con­firmed the 1947 British tip. The Ger­man stat­ed: “The skull rep­re­sent­ed as Bormann’s is a fraud. Nat­u­ral­ly the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment wish­es to bury the past and estab­lish Bormann’s death once and for all. They have been con­stant­ly unset­tled by con­tin­ued rev­e­la­tions and scan­dals.” In 1978, an Israeli Mossad agent with a Ger­man spe­cial­iza­tion said to me that they had nev­er closed the Bor­mann file in Tel Aviv. “We know he is in South Amer­i­ca. We are not very com­pelled to find him because he was nev­er per­son­al­ly involved in the ‘final solu­tion.’” The Israeli added: “Bormann’s busi­ness was busi­ness, and from what I know per­son­al­ly he did a thor­ough job of shift­ing Ger­man assets away from the Third Reich.”

To piece my infor­ma­tion togeth­er: Gen­er­al Hein­rich Mueller ini­ti­at­ed his Bor­mann scheme dur­ing the wan­ing months of the war in the time frame when the Reich­sleit­er was mov­ing to trans­fer Ger­man assets to safe havens in oth­er places. At Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Sach­sen­hausen he exam­ined sev­er­al inmates in the spe­cial elite group known as Son­derkom­man­do, those who had been work­ing in the Ger­man coun­ter­feit oper­a­tion of British pound notes and of oth­er cur­ren­cies. Doc­u­ments pre­pared by them would also be used by SS men in their flight at war’s end (even­tu­al­ly, over 10,000 for­mer Ger­man mil­i­tary made it to South Amer­i­ca along escape routes ODESSA and Deutsche Hil­fsvere­in). The Son­derkom­man­do, placed in a spe­cial con­text with­in the camp, were treat­ed as the skilled pro­fes­sion­als they were—engravers, doc­u­ments spe­cial­ists, and qual­i­ty print­ers— who had been round­ed up from occu­pied coun­tries and put to work for the Third Reich.

Peter Edel Hirschweh, who par­tic­i­pat­ed in this spe­cial work and sur­vived, described it as fol­lows:

All of the inmates, with­out any excep­tions, were Jews or descen­dants of mixed mar­riages. We were “bear­ers of secrets.” Even if those two qual­i­fi­ca­tions had not alone been suf­fi­cient to clas­si­fy us as a death com­mand, we received addi­tion­al con­fir­ma­tion and proof through the fol­low­ing events: If some of the pris­on­ers felt slight­ly ill, received an injury on the fin­ger (while engrav­ing) or the like they were tak­en to the doc­tor, heav­i­ly guard­ed, to receive treat­ment there; the physi­cian was not allowed to talk to them at all. Per­sons who were seri­ous­ly ill were not allow to go to the infir­mary, even if they could be cured there. They were iso­lat­ed in the wash­room and if this did not help, they were liq­ui­dat­ed, i.e., killed.

When Hein­rich Mueller vis­it­ed Sach­sen­hausen he walked through the engrav­ing, print­ing, and doc­u­ment areas look­ing for any inmates who might resem­ble Bor­mann. In one he noticed two indi­vid­u­als who did bear a resem­blance in stature and facial struc­ture to the Reich­sleit­er. He had them placed in sep­a­rate con­fine­ment. There­upon a spe­cial den­tal room was made ready for “treat­ment” of the two men. A par­ty den­tist was brought in to work over and over again on the mouth of each man, until his teeth, real and arti­fi­cial, matched pre­cise­ly the Reichsleiter’s. In April 1945, upon com­ple­tion of these alter­ations, the two vic­tim­ized men were brought to the Kur­fuer­sten­strasse build­ing to be held until need­ed. Dr. Blaschke had advised Mueller to use live inmates to insure a believ­able aging process for den­tures and gums; hence the need for sev­er­al months of prepa­ra­tion.

Exact den­tal fideli­ty was to play a major part in the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Hitler’s body by the invad­ing Rus­sians. It was to be of sig­nif­i­cance in Frank­furt twen­ty-eight years lat­er, when the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment staged a press con­fer­ence to declare that they had “found Bormann’s skele­ton prov­ing he had died in Berlin’s freight yards May 1–2, 1945.”

Dr. Hugo Blaschke was the den­tist who had served both Hitler and Bor­mann. He had offices in the fash­ion­able pro­fes­sion­al area of Uhlanstrasse, but he always went to the chan­cellery for his two most impor­tant clients. Borm
ann had estab­lished a well-equipped den­tal office there, where Dr. Blaschke and his nurse, Fraulein Kaete Heuse­mann, would take care of the den­tal require­ments of the Fuehrer and the Reich­sleit­er. The den­tal records for both were kept in the chan­cellery. When the Rus­sians had threat­ened Berlin, Dr. Blaschke pru­dent­ly moved his prac­tice to Munich, but Fraulein Heuse­mann had stayed on. Hitler’s den­tal charts were nev­er found, because Bor­mann had removed them from the chan­cellery files. How­ev­er, the Rus­sians, who had want­ed com­plete iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of Hitler after the fall of Berlin, brought Fraulein Heuse­mann to Sovi­et head­quar­ters. She had iden­ti­fied the den­tal fit­tings gath­ered in a cig­ar box as belong­ing to Adolf Hitler. This was con­firmed by the den­tal tech­ni­cian, Fritz Echt­mann, who had made the fit­tings for Hitler on order of Dr. Blaschke.

Once they had made the iden­ti­fi­ca­tions, both were shipped off to Moscow, remain­ing there in prison so that they could not com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers for sev­er­al years. They were clas­si­fied by the Rus­sians as among the chan­cellery group who had sur­vived the bunker; they would spend years in Russ­ian pris­ons and slave camps until the Krem­lin lead­ers decid­ed how to han­dle their pub­lic announce­ment of Hitler’s death—suicide in the bunker, or escape to Spain and South Amer­i­ca, as Stal­in first believed.

In Bormann’s case, the prob­lem was more com­plex, more chal­leng­ing. Yet under Mueller’s skill­ful guid­ance, two bod­ies were plant­ed; their dis­cov­ery was made pos­si­ble when an SS man, act­ing on Mueller’s orders, leaked the infor­ma­tion to a Stern mag­a­zine edi­tor as part of a ploy to “prove” that Bor­mann had died in the Berlin freight yard. The stand-ins for Bor­mann were two unfor­tu­nates from Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Sach­sen­hausen, who had been killed gen­tly in the Gestapo base­ment secret cham­bers with cyanide spray blown from a cig­a­rette lighter (a killing device used lat­er by the KGB in 1957 and 1959 against Lev Rebet and Stephen Ban­dera, two lead­ers of the Ukrain­ian Îmi­grÎs in Munich). At Gestapo head­quar­ters, the night of April 30, the bod­ies were tak­en by a spe­cial SS team to the freight yards near the Wei­den­damm Bridge and buried not too deep beneath rub­ble in two dif­fer­ent areas. The Gestapo squad then made a hur­ried retreat from Berlin, join­ing their leader, SS Senior Gen­er­al Hein­rich Mueller, in Flens­burg.

The funer­al and bur­ial caper was to be a Mueller trade­mark through­out the years of search­ing for Mar­tin Bor­mann. The Mossad was to point out that they have been wit­ness­es over the years to the exhuma­tion of six skele­tons, two in Berlin and four in South Amer­i­ca, pur­port­ed to be that of Mar­tin Bor­mann. All turned out to be those of oth­ers, although in Frank­furt in 1973 the den­tal tech­ni­cian, Fritz Echt­mann, after years as a Russ­ian pris­on­er, was to say that the den­tal work found in the skull of the skele­ton declared to be the remains of Bor­mann resem­bled those fill­ings he had worked on in 1944. Simon Wiesen­thal, direc­tor of the Jew­ish Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter in Vien­na, had been invit­ed to Frank­furt by West Ger­man author­i­ties who were pre­sent­ing the press event, with the CIA in the back­ground. He said that, while the skull resem­bled Bormann’s, he doubt­ed it was Bor­mann. Still, Hein­rich Mueller had done his job well, and from South Amer­i­ca he point­ed the Bonn government’s inves­ti­ga­tors through inter­me­di­aries toward this sec­ond plant­ed Bor­mann skele­ton. So my sources state; the fab­ri­ca­tions of 1945 con­tin­ue to pro­vide the par­ty min­is­ter with his “pass­port to free­dom.”