|Excerpt from "Grey Wolf – The Escape of Adolf Hitler"
Excerpt from "Grey Wolf – The Escape of Adolf Hitler" by Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan
The turning point against Germany during World War Two was not the loss of the Battle of Britain or the mounting of D-Day on Normandy's shores. While the air battle over London was an important German defeat that allowed Britain to fight on - alone at the time - other than as a moral victory, taking the islands of the United Kingdom would have had little strategic value to Germany before the United States joined the conflict. And by the time Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of northern France, the tide of war had already turned against the Nazi horde. D-Day, while imperative and impressive, was actually the beginning of massive mop-up operations.
During the autumn and winter of 1942, Germany suffered the most pivotal defeat of the war at the Battle of Stalingrad. From that day on, the outcome of the war was almost fixed. And almost everybody knew it. Until the moment when Hitler looked up from the strategic objective he was pursuing in The Soviet Union, the oilfields and refineries of Ukraine to fuel his war machine, Germany was winning the war.
On 5 April 1942, Hitler’s goal was to eliminate Soviet forces in the south, secure the region’s economic resources, and then wheel his armies either north to Moscow or south to conquer the remainder of the Caucasus. One of the ironies of the war, is that the German Sixth Army need not have got entangled in Stalingrad, but on 9 July Hitler altered his original plan and ordered the simultaneous capture of both Stalingrad and the Caucasus.
The Führer could not resist the moral victory that taking "Stalin's City", now so close, would be. Planning a quick campaign that would take mere weeks, he swung his Sixth Army from its course southward toward the oilfields and refineries, turned them to the northeast, and attacked. The bold move was at first successful and Stalingrad was captured. But in the frozen winter months of 1942-43, a four million-man Russian army surrounded the 330,000-man force of General Friedrich von Paulus.
By the time Paulus surrendered, SS forces had barely been able to break through and rescue only 5,000 survivors. The rest were force-marched to Siberia and most never heard from again. After the moral loss at Stalingrad and the tactical loss of oil to feed the hungry Nazi war machine, ultimate surrender for Germany was just a matter of time, barring an unforeseen miracle.
Martin Bormann, true to his proven, pragmatic ways, was uniquely prepared to deal with the former eventuality, and possibly capable of providing the latter. Through his old friend at the Reichspost, Wilhelm Ohnesorge, it appears likely he was supporting a program that could furnish the miracle needed - Manfred von Ardenne's uranium enrichment program. The program just required enough time.
Karl Wilhelm Ohnesorge was a German politician in the Third Reich who sat in Hitler's Cabinet. From 1937 to 1945, he also acted as the minister and official of the Reichspostministerium [RPM, Reich Postal Ministry], Reichspost. Along with his ministerial duties, Ohnesorge also significantly delved into research relating to propagation and promotion of the Nazi Party through wire signals and radio, and became known as something of a technician for his work in making the latter technically possible.
He is also known to have contributed heavily to research towards a German atomic bomb, and he presented many designs and diagrams of his ideas to Hitler himself, with whom he had developed a personal companionship.
Manfred von Ardenne's research on nuclear physics and high-frequency technology was financed by the Reichspost. Von Ardenne attracted top-notch personnel to work in his facility, such as the nuclear physicist Fritz Houtermans, in 1940. Von Ardenne also conducted research on isotope separation.
During the denazification after the war, as a leading member of the Party, charges were brought against him. However, for unknown reasons, these charges were later revoked, and Ohnesorge was not penalized for his involvement with the Nazis. His life post-war remains undocumented.
On the other hand, if time should run out, the last thing that Martin Bormann would allow his Fatherland to endure was another rapacious war reparations assessment like that forced upon it after World War One. The Allies could kill the people, plunder the land, rape the women, and level the cities, but in his shrewdly insightful way, Bormann knew that they could not own Germany itself if they did not own Germany's wealth. In the spring of 1943, Bormann began to look for ways to conserve the Reich's riches if the war was lost.
He started with 'Aktion Feuerland' [Operation Fireland].
The treasure consisted of hundreds of millions of Reichsmarks; boxes and boxes of gold and platinum, pearls and diamonds; crates full of the priceless art of Europe; and billionaire bundles of stocks and other securities. The loot was amassed in a series of bank safes and underground vaults throughout the Reich - until Martin Bormann was made aware of its existence by one of his many internal intelligence conduits. In late 1943 he took control of much, though not all, of this booty and informed Hitler of its existence and a plan he had formulated for its conservation.
"Bury your treasure, for you will need it to begin a Fourth Reich," Hitler had responded. With that blessing, Bormann took control of at least six U-Boats, some of them unmarked, from Gross Admiral Karl Dönitz, and garnered the support of Generalisimo Francisco Franco to headquarter the U-Boats in the Spanish port cities of Cadiz and Vigo. The U-Boats for the next two years, supplied by cargo planes from Germany that transported the treasures to the coastal towns on the Atlantic, began a non-stop circuit transporting the treasure to the far southern reaches of Argentina - the region known as Tierra del Fuego, or Land of Fire, at Patagonia’s southernmost point. At their destinations they were unloaded by Bormann's mysterious minions and deposited into a variety of international bank accounts controlled by a cryptic cabal of Bormann partners.
San Carlos de Bariloche, usually known as Bariloche, is a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina,
situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of
Nahuel Huapi Lake. It is located within the Nahuel Huapi National Park. After development of extensive
public works and Alpine-styled architecture, the city emerged in the 1930s and 1940s
as a major tourism centre with skiing, trekking and mountaineering facilities.
In addition, it has numerous restaurants, cafés, and chocolate shops.
The name Bariloche comes from the Mapudungun word Vuriloche meaning "people from behind the mountain" [vuri = behind, che = people]. The Poya people used the Vuriloche pass to cross the Andes, keeping it secret from the Spanish priests for a long time.
The area had stronger connections to Chile than to the distant city of Buenos Aires during most of the
19th century, but the explorations of Francisco Moreno and the Argentine campaigns of the Conquest of the Desert established the claims of the Argentine government. It thought the area was a natural expansion
of the Viedma colony, and the Andes were the natural frontier to Chile. In the 1881 border treaty between
Chile and Argentina, the Nahuel Huapi area was recognised as Argentine.
The modern settlement of Bariloche developed from a shop established by Carlos Wiederhold. The German immigrant had first settled in the area of Lake Llanquihue in Chile. Wiederhold crossed the Andes and established a little shop called 'La Alemana' [The German]. A small settlement developed around the shop,
and its former site is the city center. By 1895 the settlement was primarily made up of German-speaking immigrants: Austrians, Germans, and Slovenians, as well as Italians from the city of Belluno, and Chileans.
A local legend says that the name came from a letter erroneously addressed to Wiederhold as San Carlos instead of Don Carlos. Most of the commerce in Bariloche related to goods imported and exported at the seaport of Puerto Montt in Chile. In 1896 Perito Moreno wrote that it took three days to reach Puerto Montt from Bariloche, but traveling to Viedma on the Atlantic coast of Argentina took "one month or more.
In the 1930s the centre of the city was redesigned to have the appearance of a traditional European central alpine town [it was called "Little Switzerland"]. Many buildings were made of wood and stone. In 1909 there were 1,250 inhabitants; a telegraph, post office, and a road connected the city with Neuquén.
Commerce continued to depend on Chile until the arrival of the railroad in 1934,
which connected the city with Argentine markets.
Between 1935 and 1940, the Argentine Directorate of National Parks carried out a number of urban public works, giving the city a distinctive architectural perhaps the best-known is the Civic Centre.
Bariloche grew from being a centre of cattle trade that relied on commerce with Chile, to becoming a tourism centre for the Argentine elite. It took on a cosmopolitan architectural and urban profile. Growth in the city's tourist trade began in the 1930s, when local hotel occupancy grew from 1550 tourists in 1934 to 4000 in 1940In 1934 Ezequiel Bustillo, then director of the National Parks Direction, contracted his brother Alejandro Bustillo to build several buildings in Iguazú and Nahuel Huapi National Park [Bariloche was the main settlement inside the park]. In contrast to subtropical Iguazú National Park, planners and developers thought that Nahuel Huapi National Park, because of its temperate climate, could compete with the tourism of Europe. Together with Bariloche, it was established for priority projects by national tourism development planners.
Alejandro Bustillo designed the Edificio Movilidad, Plaza Perito Moreno, the Neo-Gothic San Carlos de Bariloche Cathedral, and the Llao Llao Hotel. Architect Ernesto de Estrada designed the Civic Centre of Barloche, which opened in 1940. The Civic Centre's tuff stone, slate and fitzroya structures include the Domingo Sarmiento Library, the Francisco Moreno Museum of Patagonia, City Hall, the Post Office,
the Police Station, and the Customs.
During the 1950s, on the small island of Huemul, not far into lake Nahuel Huapi, former president Juan Domingo Perón tried to have the world's first fusion reactor built secretly. The project cost the equivalent of about $300 million modern US dollars, and it was never finished, due to the lack of the highly advanced technology that was needed. The Austrian Ronald Richter was in charge of the project.
In 1995, Bariloche made headlines in the international press when it became known as a haven for Nazi war criminals, such as the former SS Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke. Priebke had been the director of the
German School of Bariloche for many years.
In his 2004 book "Bariloche nazi-guía turística", Argentine author Abel Basti claims that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun lived in the surroundings of Bariloche for many years after World War II. Basti said that the Argentine Nazis chose the estate of Inalco as Hitler's refuge.
"Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler", a 2011 book [and subsequent film] by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, proposed that Hitler and Eva Braun escaped from Berlin in 1945 and hid at Hacienda San Ramon, six miles east of Bariloche, until the early 1960s. These accounts are disputed by most
historians, who generally believe that Hitler and Braun committed suicide in the last days of World War II.
Another objective of the plan, was to create a secret, self-contained refuge for Hitler in the heart of a sympathetic German community, at a chosen site near the town of San Carlos de Bariloche in the far west of Argentina’s Rio Negro province.
The Nazis definitely had organized plans for a comeback. At the center of the plan was Martin Bormann, the Reichsleiter. Bormann had risen through the ranks to Party Secretary, the number two spot in the Nazi hierarchy. Hitler had entrusted Bormann with ensuring the Reich would be able to stage a comeback once hostilities ceased. The meeting in the Red House was the beginnings of Bormann's effort to expand his plan to include industrialist and top ranking office. The meeting had been the result of Bormann’s order. However, Bormann did not attend the meeting. The Treasury Department has a transcript of the meeting from a captured document.
Nazis Plotted Post-WWII Return
NEW YORK [Reuter] - Realizing they were losing the war in 1944; Nazi leaders met top German industrialists to plan a secret post-war international network to restore them to power, according to a newly declassified U.S. Military Intelligence document [Report EW-Pa 128].
The document, which appears to confirm a meeting historians have long argued about, says an SS general and a representative of the German armaments ministry told such companies as Krupp and Röhling that they must be prepared to finance the Nazi party after the war when it went underground.
They were also told "existing financial reserves in foreign countries must be placed at the disposal of the party so that a strong German empire can be created after the defeat''.
The document, detailing an August 10 August 1944 meeting, was obtained Friday from the World Jewish Congress, which has been working with the Senate Banking Committee and the Holocaust Museum to determine what happened to looted Jewish money and property in the Second World War.
As a result of the probe, thousands of documents from "Operation Safehaven'' have been made public. The operation was a U.S. intelligence effort to track how the German government used Swiss banks during the war to hide looted Jewish assets. The three-page document, released by the National Archives, was sent from Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force to the U.S. secretary of state in November 1944. It described a secret meeting at the Maison Rouge [Red House Hotel] in Strasbourg, occupied France, on 10 August 1944.
The source for the report was an agent who attended and "had worked for the French on German problems since 1916". Jeffrey Bale, a Columbia University expert on clandestine Nazi networks, said historians have debated whether such a meeting could have taken place because it came a month after the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life, which had led to a crackdown on discussions of a possible German military defeat. Bale said the Red House meeting was mentioned in Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal's 1967 book "The Murderers Among Us'' and again in a 1978 book by French Communist Victor Alexandrov, ''The SS Mafia".''
A U.S. Treasury Department analysis in 1946 reported that the Germans had transferred $500 million out of the country before the war's end to countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Portugal, Argentina and Turkey where it was used to buy hundreds of companies. “As soon as the [Nazi] party becomes strong enough tore-establish its control over Germany, the industrialists will be paid for their efforts and co-operation by concessions and orders,'' the intelligence document said.
The meeting was presided over by Dr. Friedrich Scheid, an SS Obergruppenführer and director of Hermsdorff & Schönburg Company. Attending were representatives of seven German companies including Krupp, Röhling, Messerschmidt, and Volkswagenwerk and officials of the ministries of armaments and the navy.
The industrialists were from companies with extensive interests in France and Scheid is quoted as saying the battle of France was lost and "from now ... German industry must realize that the war cannot be won and it must take steps in preparation for a post-war commercial campaign''. He also assured the gathering the "Treason against the Nation Law" about foreign exchange was repealed.
"German industry must make contacts and alliances with foreign firms and lay the groundwork for borrowing considerable sums in foreign countries. He cited the Krupp company's sharing of patents with U.S. companies so that they would have to work with Krupp. A representative of the armaments ministry then presided over a smaller second meeting with Scheid and representatives of Krupp and Roehling, who were told the war was lost and would continue only until the unity of Germany was guaranteed. He said they must prepare themselves to finance the Nazi party when it went underground".
At a smaller conference that afternoon, Dr. Bosse of the German Armaments Ministry indicated the Nazi government would make huge sums available to industrialists to help secure bases in foreign countries. Dr. Bosse advised the industrialists that two main banks could be used for the export of capital: Schweizerische Kreditanstalt of Zürich and the Basler Handelsbank. He also advised the industrialists of Swiss cloaks that would buy Swiss property for a five-percent commission.
The intelligence report added that the meetings signaled a new Nazi policy "whereby industrialists with government assistance will export as much of their capital as possible".
Bormann knew the Nazis had lost the war once the Allies landed in Normandy on D-Day. He gave himself nine months to place into operation his flight capital program to find a safe haven for the Nazis' liquid assets. Essentially, the Alsace-Lorraine area would serve as a microcosm for his plans. Germans owned the controlling interest in many of the French banks in the area. A German majority ownership also controlled many of the factories. In essence, Bormann would rely on 'Tarnung' [Corporate camouflage, the art of concealing foreign properties from enemy governments], the magic hood that renders its wearer invisible. Bormann sorted his records and then shipped them to Argentina via Spain. Bormann began his flight capital, already having control of the Auslands-Organisation and the I.G. Verbindungsmänner. Both organizations placed spies in foreign countries disguised as technicians and directors of German corporations.
By the time, the Battle of the Bulge was raging, Bormann had already been very successful in moving assets out of Germany. In 1938, the number of patent registrations to German companies was 1,618 but after the Red House meeting it had risen to 3,377. Bormann had also created a two-price system with Germany’s trading partners. In it, the lower price was the price cleared or settled at the end of the banking day, the higher price was retained on the books of the neutral importer. The difference accumulated to a German account, becoming flight capital on deposit. Under this system Bormann amassed about $18 million kroner and $12 million Turkish lira. Balance sheets in Sweden showed Bormann acquired seven mines in central Sweden.
Bormann created 750 new corporations. The corporations were scattered across the globe and represented a wide array of economic activity from steel and chemicals to electrical companies. The firms were located as follows: Portugal 58, Spain 112, Sweden 233, Switzerland 234, Turkey 35 and Argentina 98. All the corporations created by Bormann issued bearer bonds, so the real ownership was impossible to establish.
Bormann had several means of dispersing the Nazi assets. He used the diplomatic pouches of the Nazi’s foreign policy minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to send gold, diamonds, stocks and bonds to Sweden twice a month. A similar pattern was used to ferry more valuables to South America. In addition to Bormann’s Aktion Feuerland project, Bormann allowed other Nazis to transfer their own valuables through the same channels.
In Turkey, both the Deutsche Istanbul and the Deutsche Orient banks were allowed to retain all their earnings rather than send them back to Berlin. The earnings were mere bookkeeping items that were ready to be transferred anywhere in the world.
In 1941, German investments in United States corporations held a voting majority in 170 corporations and minority ownership in another 108 American corporations. Additionally, American corporations had investments in Germany totaling $420 million. With his program for flight capital well on its way, Bormann gave permission for Nazis to once again buy American stocks.
The purchase of American stocks was usually done through a neutral country, typically Switzerland or Argentina. From foreign exchange funds on deposits in Switzerland and Argentina, large demand deposits were placed in such New York banks as National City, Chase, Manufacturers Hanover, Morgan Guaranty, and Irving Trust. Over $5 billion dollars of American stocks was purchased in such a manner. These same banks were active in supporting Germany. In addition, every major Nazi corporation transferred assets and personnel to their foreign subsidiaries.
This was called 'Aktion Adlerflug' [Project Eagle Flight], is an operation code name which involved setting up innumerable foreign bank accounts and investing funds in foreign companies that were controlled by hidden German interests.
The United States and Britain never could fully grasp the extent of the Nazi flight capital.
John Pehle provides an interesting insight to why the United States was unable to stop Bormann and his movement of Nazi assets to neutral countries. Pehle was the original director of the Foreign Funds Control.
Pehle’s reasoning was:
"In 1944, emphasis in Washington shifted from overseas fiscal controls to assistance to Jewish war refugees. On presidential order I was made executive director of the War Refuge Board in January 1944. Orvis Schmidt became director of Foreign Funds Control. Some of the manpower he had was transferred, and while the Germans evidently were doing their best to avoid Allied seizure of assets, we were doing our best to extricate as many Jews as possible from Europe".
Pehle’s explanation seems overly simple. Additional personnel would have been useful and more could have been accomplished. However, the real problem was the rot and corruption within the United States. The leaders of America’s largest corporations were all in sympathy with the Nazis and almost all of them had invested heavily in Nazi Germany. Additionally, there were many in Congress that sympathized with the Nazi cause. The mood in Congress was one of "get the boys home and get on with business".
When Orvis Schmidt testified before congress to the extent of the Nazi infiltration of neutral countries before the end of the war, it fell on deaf ears. An excerpt of his testimony states:
"The danger does not lie so much in the fact that the German industrial giants have honeycombed the neutrals, Turkey and Argentina, with branches and affiliates which know how to subvert their commercial interest to the espionage and sabotage demands of their government. It is important and dangerous however, that many of these branches, subsidiaries and affiliates in the neutrals and much of the cash, securities, patents, contracts and so forth are ostensibly owned through the medium of secret numbered accounts or rubric accounts, trusts, loans, holding companies, bearer shares and the like by dummy persons and companies claiming neutral nationality and all of the alleged protection and privileges arising from such identities. The real problem is to break through the veil of secrecy and reach and eliminate the German ability to finance another world war. We must render useless the devices and cloaks which have been employed to hide German assets.
"We have found an I.G. Farben list of its own companies abroad and at home--- a secret list hitherto unknown--- which names over 700 companies in which I.G. Farben has an interest".
The list referred to in the quote list does not include the 750 companies Bormann set up.
Following the war Schmidt testified again to congress as follows:
"They were inclined to be very indignant. Their general attitude and expectations was that the war was over and we ought now to be assisting them in helping to get I.G. Farben and German industry back on its feet. Some of them have outwardly said that this questioning and investigation was in their estimation, only a phenomenon of short duration, because as soon as things got a little settled they would expect their friends in the United States and England to be coming over. Their friends, so they say would put a stop to activities such as these investigations and would see that they got the treatment which they regarded as proper and the assistance would be given to them to help reestablish their industry".
Between 1943 and 1945 more than 200 German companies set up subsidiaries in Argentina. Bormann deposited money and other assets, such as industrial patents, were transferred through shell companies in Switzerland, Spain and Portugal to the Argentine branches of German banks such as the Banco Alemán Transatlántico. The funds were then channeled to the German companies operating in Argentina, such as the automobile manufacturer Mercedes Benz, the first Mercedes Benz factory to be built outside Germany. These companies were then charged the higher production costs of their German head office for products made in Argentina. Bormann acquired his own shipping lines, including the Spanish shipping company 'Compania Naviera Lavantina' and the 'Italian Airline Linee Aeree Transcontinentali Italiane', or LATI. This gave Bormann his own independent pipeline to move people to Spain and from Spain to Argentina without having to use German Luftwaffe plane.
Statistics recently issued by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare estimate that the Nazis looted close to $27,000,000,000 from the conquered European nations. Much of this loot was used to pay for the war effort, but a large portion was still intact and in Nazi hands as the end of the war neared. The Nazi Party and the S.S., as organizations, got away intact. They got away with the money, the Reichsbank treasury, $15,000,000,000 in 1945 money. Guinness calls it the world's largest unsolved bank robbery in history. Then there was all the stolen art, pieces of which, to this day, occasionally surface.
It is easy and profitable to blame a dead, "crazy" man for one's mistakes and crimes. Hitler has assumed mythic proportions since his death. In life, he was mainly a front man, a mouthpiece, a lightning rod, and above all, the Nazi's "great communicator".
While the masses worshipped him like a god, his friends plotted behind his back, used him as a cat's paw and scapegoat, and [perhaps] cynically sacrificed him to save their own skins and fortune. Hitler had cleverly parlayed his position as figurehead into control over the military by rewording the soldiers oath. However, military power has always been subordinate to economic power. The purse strings of the Nazi Party were controlled by Bormann.
Bormann had help from his friends, like Herman Abs.
While Germany's bankers were collectively responsible for the financing of Hitler's war effort, the dean of them all is Herman Josef Abs. Money was his life, and his astuteness in banking and international financial manipulations enabled Deutsche Bank to serve as leader in fuelling the ambitions and accomplishments of Adolf Hitler and Martin Bormann. His dominance was retained when the Federal Republic of Germany picked itself up from the ashes; he was still there as chairman of Deutsche Bank, director of I.G Farben, and of such others as Daimler-Benz and the giant electrical conglomerate, Siemans. Abs became a financial advisor to the first West German chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, and was a welcome visitor in the Federal Chancellery under Mr. Adenauer's successors, Ludwig Erhard and Kurt George Kiesinger ... ... [Bormann's] friendship with Dr. Herman Josef Abs predated Abs's move into the management of Deutsche Bank. Dr. Abs had been a partner in the prestigious private bank of Delbruck, Schickler & Co. in Berlin.
Recalling those days, Abs has written: "The Reich Chancellery in Berlin was its largest account, and it was through this account that Adolf Hitler received his salary as Chancellor of the Reich".
Reichsleiter Bormann knew that his relationship with Abs would tighten as his own power grew. He knew in 1943 that with his Nazi banking committee well established, he had the means to set new Nazi state policy when the time was ripe for the general transfer of capital, gold, stocks, and bearer bonds to safety in neutral nations.
Under the direction of Dr Herman Josef Abs [who never became a Nazi] the Deutsche Bank was responsible for financing the slave labour used by business giants such as Siemens, BMW, Volkswagen, I.G. Farben, Daimler Benz and others. The banks wealth quadrupled during the twelve years of Hitler's rule. Arrested by the British after the war for war crimes, he was quietly released after the intervention of the Bank of England to help restore the German banking industry in the British zone This caused much dissension between the British and the Americans who wanted the German Economy crushed.
This is the same Hermann Abs who was chosen by Pope John Paul II to oversee the reorganization of the Vatican Bank when it was caught red-handed laundering counterfeit securities and heroin profits for the Gambino crime family. It is worth noting that in his youth John Paul II was, according to the official version, once a slave labourer for I.G. Solvay, a Farben subsidiary specializing primarily in pharmaceuticals. He is supposed to have laboured in the Solvay quarries near Auschwitz. It's a rare slave indeed who becomes Pope at all, let alone then hires his former master to keep track of his money. Wonders truly never cease.
In October 1978 the Marshall Foundation was utilized as a platform for Dr. Herman J. Abs, now honorary president of Deutsche Bank A.G. as he addressed a meeting of businessmen and Bankers and members of the Foreign Policy Association in New York City on the 'Problems and Prospects of American-German Economic Co-operation.' This luncheon was chaired by his old friend, John J. McCloy, Wall Street banker and lawyer, who had worked closely with Dr. Abs when McCloy served as U.S. High Commissioner for Germany during those postwar reconstruction years. At that time, Hermann Abs, as chief executive of Deutsche Bank was also directing the spending of America's Marshall Plan money in West Germany as the chairman of the Reconstruction Loan Corporation of the Federal Republic of Germany.
This is the same McCloy who designed the Pentagon building and served on the Warren Commission. While Undersecretary of War, he had forbidden bombing of the rail lines to Auschwitz on the grounds that it might provoke retaliation against the Jews. One cannot but wonder what he had in mind.
"Auschwitz was intended, first and foremost, to be a synthetic rubber and synthetic fuel factory complex. The more well-known dead Jews were to be merely a by-product. Abs had arranged the financing of its construction. In charge of synthetic rubber production was Otto Ambros, who also developed the root technology on which magnetic data storage is based. He was convicted of 25,000 counts of slavery and mass murder, and was sentenced to eight years in prison. After three and a half years, McCloy freed him. The head of the W.R. Grace & Co., J. Peter Grace [a Knight of Malta] hired Ambros as a research chemist and petitioned Congress to allow his emigration to the United States. This is the same J. Peter Grace who President Reagan appointed to head the so-called 'Grace Commission. to make the United States government more 'efficient'.
-- "Esquire", 19 December 1978
More than Nazi money went underground.
"Himmler was quoted as summing up his talk with Bormann to his most trusted lieutenants in these words: 'It is possible that Germany will be defeated on the military front. It is even possible that she may have to capitulate. But never must the National Socialist German Workers' Party capitulate. That is what we have to work for from now on'.
--"The Nazis Go Underground", by Curt Riass, Doubleday, Doran, and Co., Inc. 1944
"Ex"-S.S. men infiltrated, among other things, every major intelligence apparatus on earth. They have been major players in postwar history. Spymaster Reinhardt Gehlen, for example, created the rationale for starting the Cold War out of whole cloth. As we now know, had the Red Army actually been intending to continue their drive westward, as Gehlen said they did, they would not have been tearing up railroad track in front of themselves. They relied heavily on rail to transport their troops. Our leaders didn't know; they believed Gehlen, and acted accordingly. Or they knew, and they lied to us. There is no third possibility. This comes as no surprise to those who have actually studied war.
Truth is the first casualty.
"Adolf Hitler's top intelligence officials worked with U.S. intelligence officials during World War II, according to a transcript made available Tuesday of secret testimony by Allen Dulles before a House Select committee in 1947".
-- "UPI", 29 September 1982
This is the same Dulles who served on the Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of the President who had fired him just prior to the murder in Dallas that enabled the success of the coup of '63. It is interesting to note that Dulles's law firm, Cromwell and Sullivan, also represented I.G. Farben before the War.
The Nazis did very well in the war, from a business viewpoint. War is a business. It is fought for material gain. The Nazis gained materially, and lived to spend it thus, they won the war. What they lost was territory. What they gained was treasure, new friends, and experience. The treasure included a couple of U-boats full of bearer bonds, numbered stock shares and patent certificates.
"... the hard core of Nazi wealth in Latin America. In 1944 a great treasure had been sent secretly across the Atlantic, the famous "Bormann treasure". This operation involved the transport from Germany to Argentina of several tons of gold, some securities, shares, and works of art ...
"... Several U-Boats arrived in Argentine waters after the capitulation of Germany. They were the carriers of bundles of documents, industrial patents, and securities. On 10 July 1945, the U-530 surfaced at the mouth of the River Platte and entered the port of La Plata. The following month, on 17 August, the U-977 also arrived at La Plata. In accordance with international conventions, both U-Boats were interned by Argentina and later handed over to the United States authorities.
"To the surprise of few, they were found to be empty of treasure. Two more U-Boats, according to reliable sources, appeared off an uninhabited stretch of the coast of Patagonia between 23 and 29 July 1945".
-- "The Avengers", by Michael Bar-Zohar, Hawthorn Books, 1967
In occupied Germany one could neither vote with these shares nor could one collect interest, dividends, nor royalties. When [West] Germany again "took its place among the nations of the World" in 1955, the Bundestag immediately changed all this. The holders of these once worthless scraps of paper suddenly, once again, possessed incredibly wealth.
Where was Hitler’s body? This was the question asked by the first Soviet troops to enter the Führerbunker on 1 May 1945. A few days earlier, on 29 April, a special detachment of the SMERSH [NKVD counterespionage] element serving with the headquarters of the 3rd Shock Army had been created at Stalin’s insistence, specifically to discover the whereabouts of Adolf Hitler, dead or alive. The SMERSH team arrived at the Reich Chancellery moments after its capture by the Red Army. Despite intense pressure whereabouts of Adolf Hitler, dead or alive. The SMERSH team arrived at the Reich Chancellery moments after its capture by the Red Army. Despite intense pressure from Moscow, its searches proved fruitless. Although the charred bodies of Josef and Magda Göbbels were quickly found in the shell-torn garden, no evidence for the deaths of Adolf Hitler or Eva Braun was found.
Close behind the assault troops and NKVD officers, a group of twelve women doctors and their assistants of the Red Army medical corps were the first to enter the Bunker in the early afternoon of 2 May. The leader of the group spoke fluent German and asked one of the four people then remaining in the Bunker, the electrical machinist Johannes Hentschel, "Wo ist Adolf Hitler? Wo sind die Klamotten?" ["Where is Adolf Hitler? Where are the glad rags?"]. She seemed more interested in Eva Braun’s clothes than in the fate of the Führer of the Third Reich. The failure to find an identifiable corpse would vex the Soviet authorities for many months, if not years.
Apart from the Vorbunker’s above-ground access to the Old Chancellery building, three tunnels provided the upper Vorbunker with underground links. One led north, to the Foreign Office; one crossed the Wilhelmstrasse eastward, to the Propaganda Ministry; and one ran south, linking up with the labyrinth of shelters under the New Chancellery. However, the Old Chancellery—a confusing maze of passages and staircases, much altered over the years—also had an underground emergency exit to a third, deeper, secret shelter, known to only a select few. Hitler maintained his private quarters in the Old Chancellery throughout the war until forced underground in February 1945. To get to the secret shelter, Hitler did not have to leave his private study: as part of Hochtief’s extensive underground works, a tunnel had been built that connected Hitler’s quarters directly with the shelter. The tunnel was accessible via a doorway covered by a thin concrete sliding panel hidden beside a bookcase in the study. This tunnel, in turn, was connected to the Berlin underground railway system by a five-hundred-yard passageway. The third shelter had been provided with its own water supply, toilet facilities, and storage for food and weapons for up to twelve people for two weeks. Bormann had never really planned for it to be used; it was simply one of the range of options available to get Hitler out of Berlin. But by 27 April 1945, it was the obvious means of escape to take the Führer away from the devastating shells that were raining down on the government quarter of Berlin as Soviet troops fought their way in from three directions.
During the month of May 1945 after Germany had surrendered, Russian criminologists, guided by Major Ivan Nikitine, chief of Stalin's security police, reconstructed Hitler's last days in Berlin.
In those days, according to an article in "Time magazine" of 28 May 1945:
"A removable concrete plaque was found next to a bookshelf in Hitler's personal quarters. Behind it there was a man size tunnel which led to a super secret cement refuge 500 metres away. Another tunnel connected it with a tunnel belonging to a line of the underground/tube. Remains of food indicated that there had been between 6 and 12 people there until 9 May 1945".
The knowledge of this secret passage tells us nothing. We do not know who used to save their skins. Only free access to Russian archives which remain secret, will allow us to know the details about that hidden "emergency exit" which enabled escape from the underground refuge.
However, why would a man of Hitler's ambition, drive and rampant egomania spend years building escape tunnels throughout Berlin and then refuse to use them when the time came to do so.
According to the "Express", in the midst of shooting the program 'Hunting Hitler', a new eight-part documentary on the "History Channel" a secret false wall was found in a Berlin subway station. This then led the show to hypothesize that Adolf Hitler used this to escape from Nazi Germany, which at the time of his alleged suicide had been surrounded by the invading Russian troops.
The discovery of the above tunnel proves that Hitler could have traveled from the Bunker where he is believed to have killed himself in, all the way to Tempelhof Airport underground. For years there was a clear passage from the Bunker to the airport, except for the final 200 yards. Now, with the discovery of this hidden tunnel, the final connection has been unearthed..
Designed by Hitler's favorite architect, Albert Speer, the New Reich Chancellery was to have been the seat of power of the Thousand-Year Reich. During the war as the Allied bomber offensive intensified, the Führerbunker was built to protect Hitler from the increasingly devastating aerial bombs employed by the RAF and USAAF.
In the final months of the war, Adolf Hitler retreated to the depths of the Führerbunker beneath the Old Reich Chancellery; Bormann had organized a secret tunnel that allowed the Führer and his select companions to escape via the Berlin subway system to an improvised airstrip and flee to Denmark and onward to Spain and Argentina. There had been opportunities aplenty from 21 April on, but Hitler’s refusal to leave earlier had limited Bormann’s carefully planned options. Nevertheless, on 27 and 28 April there were still potentially feasible land routes out of Berlin. The army commandant of the Berlin Defense Area, Gen. Helmuth Weidling, offered to use the forty tanks still at his disposal to spearhead an attempted breakout to the west, across the Havel River bridge at Pichelsdorf, to secure Hitler’s escape from the capital. But Bormann’s planning required that the Führer be flown out, and he needed to be certain of getting Hitler and his party to some location where an aircraft capable of carrying them out of Allied-held Europe could pick them up.
The Bunker’s major weakness was that it had never been designed as a Führerhauptquartier, or command headquarters. After the intensity of Allied bombing forced Hitler and his staff to move underground permanently in mid-February 1945, the means of communication were woefully inadequate for keeping in touch with daily developments in the conduct of the war. Bormann had recognized the inadequacy of the communication system early on; the telephone exchange, more suited to the needs of a small hotel, was quite incapable of handling the necessary volume of traffic. A separate room in the Bunker was in use as a telex center, manned by dedicated navy operators with seven machines, three of which were central to the Reichsleiter’s plans.
Bormann had already sent and signed the message "Agree proposed transfer overseas" to the key operatives along the Führer’s planned escape route using the Nazis’ still unbroken cipher, designated "Thrasher" by the British. This cipher was employed by Bormann’s private communications network built around the top-secret Siemens & Halske encryption machine, the T43 Schlüsselfernschreibmaschine. Adm. Hans-Erich Voss, Hitler’s Kriegsmarine liaison officer, had first brought the Siemens & Halske T43 to Bormann’s attention when the latter approached him late in 1944. Bormann needed to establish a totally secure communications network, one that was capable of reaching U-Boats at sea and ground stations in Spain and the Canary Islands and that could relay messages across the Atlantic to Buenos Aires. A modified version of the T43 machine was the answer to his needs. By February 1945, Bormann had taken control of all these adapted machines, and on 15 April, Adm. Voss’s team had installed three of them with their naval operators in the Führerbunker, where they would continue transmitting until Bormann left the Bunker on 1 May.
At least one machine was with the Abwehr operation in Spain, another at the secret outpost Villa Winter on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, and yet another in Buenos Aires. Eight of Adm. Karl Dönitz’s U-Boats also carried these top-secret machines. After 20 April, Dönitz had six machines waiting for him at in Flensburg, where he moved his headquarters at the end of the war, thus enabling Bormann to relay the final movement and shipment orders to be carried out by remnants of the U-Boat fleet based at Kristiansand in Norway. With his communications network set up, Bormann could set about organizing how to get the Führer and his party out of Berlin. From January to April 1945, Martin Bormann and his ally Heinrich "Gestapo" Müller were the gatekeepers controlling all access to Hitler. In drawing up the final escape plans, they were assisted by Bormann’s drinking companion, SS Gen. Hermann Fegelein. Since early 1943, Fegelein had been Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s liaison officer at the Führer’s court and so was party to many secrets. Moreover, as the husband of Eva Braun’s sister Gretl, and Eva’s close personal friend, Fegelein was one of Hitler’s most trusted "mountain people".
The first essential was to identify a practical location from which the Führer could be flown out and to decide how to get him there. The vast Soviet noose was tightening fast, and the defense of central Berlin was becoming increasingly desperate. In the city as a whole, Gen. Weidling had approximately 45,000 soldiers and 40,000 aging men of the Volkssturm [Home Guard], supplemented by the Berlin police force and boys from the Hitler Youth. On 22 April, SS Gen. Wilhelm Mohnke—an ultraloyal veteran combat officer of the Waffen-SS—had been personally appointed by Hitler as commander of a battle group to defend the government quarter around the Reichstag building and Chancellery, operating independently of Weidling. This Kampfgruppe [Battle Group] Mohnke had fewer than 2,000 men: about 800 from the SS Guard Battalion "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler"; 600 men from the Reichsführer-SS Escort Battalion [Himmler’s bodyguard unit]; the Führer Escort Company [a mixed army/air force unit]; and various others swept up from replacement depots. In addition, there were supposed to be perhaps 2,000 men of the so-called Adolf Hitler Free Corps, comprising volunteers from all over Germany who had rallied to the Führer’s defense, and even a number of secretaries and other female government staff who would also take up arms. With such meager resources, Weidling and Mohnke faced some 1.5 million Red Army troops of Marshal Koniev’s 1st Ukrainian Front and Marshal Zhukov’s 1st Byelorussian Front
The Junkers Ju 52 (nicknamed 'Tante Ju' (Aunt Ju) is a German trimotor transport aircraft manufactured from 1931 to 1952. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over twelve air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler.
In a military role, it flew with the Luftwaffe as a troop and cargo transport and
briefly as a medium bomber. The Ju 52 continued in postwar service with
military and civilian air fleets well into the 1980s.
Hitler used a Deutsche Luft Hansa Ju 52 for campaigning in the 1932 German election, preferring flying to transport by train. After he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hans Baur became his personal pilot, and Hitler was provided with a personal Ju 52. Named Immelmann II after the World War I ace Max Immelmann, it carried the registration D-2600. As his power and importance grew, Hitler's personal air force grew to nearly 50 aircraft, based at Berlin Tempelhof Airport and made up of mainly Ju 52s, which also flew other members of his
cabinet and war staff. In September 1939 at Baur's suggestion, his personal
Ju 52 Immelmann II was replaced by the four-engine Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, although Immelman II remained his backup aircraft for the rest of World War II.
Although Tempelhof and Gatow airports were already either in Soviet hands or under the Soviet guns, there were still a number of temporary landing strips available. The East–West Axis along the Unter den Linden boulevard was still in use by light aircraft, but a last-minute troop landing there on April 25, by Junkers Ju 52 transports carrying naval troops to join the garrison, had wrecked several aircraft that had run into shell holes, damaging their landing gear and making further 52 transports carrying naval troops to join the garrison, had wrecked several aircraft that had run into shell holes, damaging their landing gear and making further takeoffs impossible. The Ju 52 Tri-motor was the type most suitable for flying out the Führer and his party; the standard Luftwaffe transport aircraft throughout the war, it was elderly, slow, but extremely robust, could carry up to eighteen passengers, and needed a relatively short takeoff and landing run. Fegelein had reconnoitered the remaining viable areas for a pickup; the wide boulevard at Hohenzollerndamm was not perfect, but it was the best available. The underground railway system—the U-Bahn—offered a safe route from the government quarter to Fehrbelliner Platz, and from there [so long as the area was still held by German troops] it was a short drive to the proposed landing strip.
An important role is played by the Charlottenburger Chaussee - the so-called Ost-West Achse. Hitler had designated this wide and long boulevard in central Berlin as a takeoff and landing strip in his "order for the preparations of the defence of the Reichs capital". But no large multi-engined aircraft could hope to land here. Perhaps this is why the authors of "Grey Wolf" would have us believe that the "final" flight was not made from this location.
One of the most "notable" final flights into the centre of Berlin and the East-West Axis was made by Ritter von Greim and Hanna Reitsch.
Crucial to the plan was the most up-to-date intelligence about the situation on the ground, and during his reconnaissance sorties Fegelein had identified an officer whom he trusted to supply it. The twenty-four-year-old SS Lt. Oskar Schäfer, a veteran of France and the Eastern Front as a Waffen-SS infantryman, had been wounded several times. Now commissioned as a Panzer officer, he was assigned to SS Heavy Tank Battalion 503, and his Tiger II was one of a handful of these 76.9-ton monsters from that unit that were still fighting in the heart of Berlin.
The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, combining the latter's thick armour with the armour sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank was protected by 3.9 to 7.3 in of armour to the front. It was armed with the long barrelled 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer.
The Tiger II was first used in combat with 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion during the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 11 July 1944. On the Eastern Front, it was first used on 12 August 1944 by the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion
It was known under the informal name Königstiger [the German name for the Bengal tiger], often translated literally as Royal Tiger, or somewhat incorrectly as King Tiger by Allied soldiers, especially by American forces.
On 14 November 1944 the 503rd had a total of 39 [instead of the full complement of 45] Tiger IIs and was loaded on to trains on 27 January 1945, and sent to the Eastern Front in the Army Group Vistula sector. By 15 April 1945, it reported a total of 12 Tiger IIs, of which 10 were still operational. The 503rd ended the war fighting in the Battle of Berlin as part of Kampfgruppe Mohnke.
Late on 27 April 1945, Schäfer and two comrades were summoned to the Reich Chancellery command Bunker with orders to report directly to SS Gen. Wilhelm Mohnke for a thorough debriefing on the situation at Fehrbelliner Platz and the Hohenzollerndamm. Mohnke closely questioned Schäfer—who had been wounded with first degree burns —about the disposition of his troops and the likelihood of a breakthrough by the "Ivans" attacking his positions. Schäfer gave as detailed a report as possible: it was his opinion that they could hold the area for no longer than two more days, and the other two officers agreed. After Schäfer had had a night’s rest, Mohnke awarded him the coveted Knight’s Cross, writing the citation into his Soldaten Buch.
Mohnke also enlisted Schäfer's help in the planned breakout from Berlin on 2 May 1945. His Tiger II leading the Mohnke group was hit crossing the Heer Strasse by a Russian JS II tank. Schäfer was again seriously wounded, suffered further burns, temporarily lost his sight and lost his memory.
Schäfer remained in hospital after the end of the war recovering from his wounds, and was not released until 1947.
"Gestapo" Müller could now put into effect his and Bormann’s plans for spiriting the Führer out of Berlin—but first, those who had been chosen to escape had to "die". Hermann Fegelein was the first to disappear into the smokescreen of confusion, lies, and cover-ups that would mask the escape of all the main participants. There would be several versions of Fegelein’s death. One stated that SS Lt. Col. Peter Högl captured him in his Berlin apartment wearing civilian clothes, ready to go on the run with his mistress, variously “identified” as a Hungarian, an Irishwoman married to a Hungarian diplomat, and an Allied secret agent. Fegelein was supposedly carrying quantities of cash, both German and foreign, and also jewelry, some of which allegedly belonged to Eva Braun [though that was also hearsay]. Högl, a former policeman well known to Heinrich Müller, would be shot in the head while fleeing the Bunker and died on 2 May 1945.
After Hitler's death on 30 April, Högl, Ewald Lindloff, Hans Reisser, Heinz Linge, and possibly Sturmbannfuehrer Franz Schädle carried his corpse up the stairs to ground level and through the Bunker's emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery. There, Högl witnessed the cremation of Hitler and Eva Braun. On the following night of 1 May, Högl joined the break-out from the Soviet Red Army encirclement. After midnight on 2 May 1945, he was wounded in the head while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge, under heavy fire from Soviet tanks and guns, and died of his injuries.
One SS officer claimed to have shot Fegelein before he made it back to the Bunker, while another supposed witness even alleged that Hitler "gunned him down" personally. Most stated that Fegelein had been shot, perhaps after interrogation by Müller, following a summary court-martial presided over by Wilhelm Mohnke—but Mohnke would later deny that the court-martial ever took place.
According to the book "Nazi Millionaires", by Kenneth D. Alford and Theodore P. Savas, Walter Hirschfeld—a former SS officer working for the U.S. Counterintelligence Corps in Germany—interviewed Fegelein’s father Hans in late September 1945. Hans Fegelein stated to Hirschfeld that "I think I can say with certainty that the Führer is alive. I have received word through a special messenger [an SS Sturmbannführer] … after his death had already been announced". The courier reportedly relayed the following message from Hermann Fegelein: "The Führer and I are safe and well. Don’t worry about me; you will get further word from me, even if it is not for some time." The courier "also said that on the day when the Führer, Hermann, and Eva Braun left Berlin … there was a sharp counterattack in Berlin in order to win a flying strip where they could take off". Hirschfeld was said to have been dumbfounded: "Many SS officers claim the Führer is dead and his body was burned!" However, Hans Fegelein allegedly assured him that it was a smokescreen: "They are all trusted and true SS men who have been ordered to make these statements. Keep your eye on South America".
In actuality, Fegelein had flown into Berlin on 25 April on board a Ju 52 put at his disposal by Heinrich Himmler. He went to his apartment and then, while in communication with Bormann and Müller, reconnoitered the temporary landing strip at the Hohenzollerndamm. He would be waiting in the secret escape tunnel to the underground for his sister-in-law and Adolf Hitler. The Ju 52 then returned to its home base at Rechlin, the same airfield Capt. Peter Baumgart is believed to have flown into Berlin from. The same pilot flew the aircraft back into Berlin on 28 April.
Hitler’s personal pilot, SS Gruppenführer Hans Baur, confirmed that Eva Braun’s brother-in-law always flew in a Ju 52, but Baur said he had not seen the landing on the twenty-eighth or had it reported to him. He had accompanied two old flying friends, Hanna Reitsch and Ritter von Greim, to the temporary landing strip at the Brandenburg gate that same night but denied seeing any Ju 52 on the ground. However, Reitsch, who flew out of Berlin on the twenty-eighth with the newly appointed head of the air force, Luftwaffe Chief Ritter von Greim, said that she took off "around midnight" and that just as her Arado AR 96 trainer became airborne they both saw a Junkers-52 transport plane "near the runway.… A lone pilot was standing by in the shadows. He was obviously waiting for somebody". It is possible that Reitsch and von Greim, flying at roof-height to avoid Soviet fighters, could have seen the escape aircraft on the ground at the Hohenzollerndamm, less than ninety seconds away by air from the Brandenburg Gate airstrip. Creating the myth of Fegelein’s execution was the first of Müller’s perfect cover-ups, and it was soon followed by his masterstroke.
Hohenzollerndamm is the name of a wide boulevard in the Wilmersdorf section of southwest Berlin. The nearest wartime airfields were Berlin-Gatow, about 7.5 km WSW of the Boulevard, and Berlin-Tempelhof, about 5 km east of the Boulevard. But both of these airfields could no longer be used after about 22 April as they were under direct Soviet artillery fire and hourly attacks by Soviet fighters and ground attack aircraft. The Germans then began using Berlin's wide boulevards for courier, liaison and med-evac flights, of which there were only a few with these usually being flown at night.
Hanna Reitsch recorded in her memoirs that she, with a heavily bandaged General von Greim by her side, flew out of Berlin from the Tiergarten, at dawn on 30 April 1945, according to her 5 December 1945 press interview. In testimony to Captain Robert F. Work, Chief Interrogator on 8 October 1945, regarding the 'Last Days of Hitler', the departure from the Bunker is stated as after 1:30 am on 30 April 1945.
Just after the stroke of midnight as 28 April, 1945, began, while the rest of the occupants of the Führerbunker were trying to get some sleep, Hitler’s escape got under way. The Führer, his beloved dog Blondi, Eva Braun, Bormann, Fegelein, and six trusted soldiers from the SS Guard Battalion "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" slipped quietly away through the Vorbunker and up to his private quarters in the Old Reich Chancellery building. The light concrete panel was slid aside, revealing the secret escape tunnel. At the end of the electrically lit passageway, down a slight incline, they entered the wider space of the third-level bunker. When the party reached the chamber, they found waiting for them two people whom Müller had had brought there from up the tunnel via the underground railway: two doubles—a stand-in for Hitler [probably Gustav Weler] and one for Eva Braun. Gustav Weler had been standing in for Hitler since 20 July 1944, when the Führer had been wounded in the bomb attempt on his life at his Wolf’s Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg in East Prussia. Hitler had suffered recurrent after-effects from his injuries; he tired easily, and he was plagued by infected wounds from splinters of the oak table that had protected him from the full force of the blast. [His use of penicillin, taken from Allied troops captured or killed in the D-Day landings, had probably saved his life]. Weler had impersonated Hitler on his last officially photographed appearance, when he handed out medals to members of the Hitler Youth in the Chancellery garden on 20 April 1945. Weler’s uncanny resemblance to Hitler deceived even those quite close to him, and on that occasion the Reichsjugendführer [Hitler Youth National Leader] Artur Axman was either taken in or warned to play along. The only thing liable to betray the imposture was that Weler’s left hand suffered from occasional bouts of uncontrollable trembling. Bormann had taken Hitler’s personal doctor into his confidence, and SS Lt. Col. Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger had treated Weler with some success. Weler was often kept sedated, but his trembling became more noticeable when he was under extreme stress.
Eva Braun’s double was simply perfect. Her name is unknown, but she had been trawled from the "stable" of young actresses that Propaganda Minister Josef Göbbels, the self-appointed "patron of the German cinema", maintained for his own pleasure. The physical similarity was amazing, and after film makeup and hairdressing experts had done their work it was very difficult to tell the two young women apart. Eva paused in the chamber to dash off a note to tell her parents not to worry if they did not hear from her for a long time. She handed it to Bormann, who pocketed it without a word [its charred remains would later be found on the floor—it was too much of a security risk for Bormann to allow it to be delivered]. Bormann then saluted the group, shook Hitler’s hand, and led the counterfeit Führer and his soon-to-be bogus bride back up the tunnel to the Führerbunker. In the anteroom of the third-level chamber, the fugitives donned steel helmets and baggy SS camouflage smocks. Hitler carried, slung from his shoulder, a cylindrical metal gas mask case; this contained the painting of Frederick the Great that had hung above his desk. Like his dog, this portrait by Anton Graff went everywhere with Hitler, and his final act in the Bunker had been to remove the 16 x 11-inch canvas from its oval frame, roll it widthwise, and slide it carefully into the long-model Wehrmacht gas mask canister. It fitted perfectly.
Hitler gave his favorite portrait of Frederick the Great, painted by Anton Graff in 1780, to his pilot, Hans Baur. Baur was subsequently captured by the Russians during his failed escape attempt from the Bunker, who took the painting from him, but it was since been returned and is currently displayed at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.
The party entered the U-Bahn system near Kaiserhof [today, Mohrenstrasse] station. The walls were painted with a phosphor-based green luminous paint, so the flashlights hanging from the soldiers’ chests bathed the fugitives in an eerie glow. The tunnel was wet, and in places they had to slosh along ankle-deep in water as they made their way to the junction at Wittenbergplatz and on toward Fehrbelliner Platz. The stumbling four-mile journey took three hours, and they were goaded along not only by the sound of bursting shells overhead, but also by echoing small-arms fire in the distance—elsewhere in the system, Soviet and German soldiers were fighting in the railway tunnels. As the group emerged onto the station concourse at Fehrbelliner Platz they were met by Eva’s other sister, Ilse, and by Fegelein’s close friend SS Gen. Joachim Rumohr and his wife. In January 1945, Ilse had fled Breslau by train to Berlin to avoid the advancing Soviet forces. She had dined with Eva at the Hotel Adlon and— despite furious rows with her sister about the conduct of the war—had remained in the city until her brother-in-law Hermann Fegelein sent a detachment of "Leibstandarte" soldiers to fetch her. As for Joachim Rumohr, this was the second time in three months that he would escape from a ruined capital city just ahead of the Red Army. A former comrade of Fegelein’s, Rumohr had been wounded in February 1945 during the bloody fall of Budapest. Erroneously reported to have committed suicide on 11 February to avoid capture by the Russians, he had managed to reach the wooded hills northwest of Budapest and from there escaped to Vienna. Now his friendship with Fegelein guaranteed him the chance of another escape, this time with his wife.
This "factoid" is based on Peter Baumgart referring to a General “Rommer” or “Römer” and his wife being with the escape party. The only Nazi general with a name similar to this was Fegelein’s close friend Rumohr.
"On 1 April 1944 Joachim Rumohr was given the command of the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer, being promoted to Standartenführer later the same month. He was mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 9 October 1944. In November 1944 he received his last promotion to Brigadeführer and led his division during the fighting in the Budapest area for which he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross. Rumohr was seriously wounded during the attempt to break out from Budapest, and committed suicide on the 11 February 1945 to prevent his capture by the Soviet Red Army".
When the fugitives reached the main entrance to the Fehrbelliner Platz station, they found three Tiger II tanks and two SdKfz 251 half-track armored personnel carriers waiting to take them on the half-mile drive to the makeshift airstrip on the Hohenzollerndamm.
The flight red signal lamps were placed along an eight-hundred-yard stretch of the wide boulevard, where troops had been set to clearing away debris and filling shell holes. At 3:00 a.m. on 28 April 1945, the lamps were lit, revealing a Junkers Ju 52/3m less than a hundred yards from the parked vehicles. The aircraft, assigned to the Luftwaffe wing Kampfgeschwader 200, had taken off in rainy conditions from Rechlin airfield, sixty-three miles from Berlin, just forty minutes earlier. Rechlin had long been the Luftwaffe’s main test airfield for new equipment designs, but in the closing weeks of the war it had reverted to more essential combat duties. It was one of several bases used by "Bomber Wing 200"—the deliberately deceptive title of a secret special-operations section of the air force commanded from 15 November 1944, by a highly decorated bomber pilot, Lt. Col. Werner Baumbach.
The Ju 52 that landed on the Hohenzollerndamm was flown by an experienced combat pilot and instructor named Peter Erich Baumgart, who now held the parallel SS rank of Captain. More unusually, until 1935 Baumgart had been a South African, with British citizenship. In that year he had left his country, family, and friends and renounced his nationality to join the new Luftwaffe.
In 1943 he had been transferred from conventional duties into a predecessor unit of KG 200; by April 1945 he was thoroughly accustomed to flying a variety of aircraft on clandestine missions, and his reliability had earned him the award of the Iron Cross 1st Class.
Any sortie over Berlin after 26 April was a nightmare of concentrated Soviet flak, huge fires and palls of smoke. There are pictures depicting a wrecked Ju-52 that apparently crashed on take off from the East West Axis on 26 April 1945
German researcher Georg Schlaug writing on April 1945 Berlin sorties in a well known German magazine described how following urgent radio messages from the Bunker were transmitted during the afternoon of 27 April 1945 - "Luftlandemöglichkeit auf der Ost-West Achse muss mit allen Mitteln versucht werden" [landing attempts with all available means must be attempted on the East-West Axis]. The gliders met such heavy fire that every one of them was shot down.
The Ju 52 that had "successfully managed to land" on the Ost-West-Achse on 28 April and then took-off again on the morning of 29 April, was apparently flown by one Oberfeldwebel Böhm from II./TGr 3. This was reported by another young Ju 52 pilot from this unit, Uffz. Johannes Lachmund who described events in his 2009 memoir. Although a pilot Lachmund flew on this sortie as a gunner. Lachmund records that this mission was flown from Güstrow to Berlin with five aircraft to evacuate high-ranking personnel from Berlin, including Ritter von Greim. As Lachmund reports, three of the five Ju 52s had to return after missed approaches, chiefly because the visibility was so poor from the heavy smoke from the fires everywhere on the ground. One Ju-52 was shot-down by the Soviets during the approach.
Lachmund mentions discussions via telephone from the 'air traffic control' command-post at the Siegessäule [Berlin's Victory column] between Ofw Böhm and the Bunker in the Reichskanzlei. There was apparently some dispute over the passengers to be flown-out, chiefly because Hanna Reitsch wanted to fly out Ritter von Greim herself at the controls of the Arado Ar-96, and not leave Berlin as a passenger on this Ju-52 flight. Eventually, the Ju 52 boarded only a few other wounded passengers but not the VIPs. Because of damage to the 'runway' from shelling, the Junkers transport had only 400 metres in which to get airborne. It is worth noting perhaps that Deutsche Lufthansa record the minimum take-off distance for their lighter [unarmoured and unarmed] Ju 52/3m as 500 metres.
-- Johannes Lachmund : "Fliegen ; Mein Traumberuf – bis zu den bitteren Erlebnissen des Krieges", Verlagshaus Monsenstein und Vannerdat OHG Münster, 2009
Georg Schlaug also records that a Feldwebel Heinz Schäfer witnessed two DFS 230 gliders departing Tarnewitz for Berlin on the afternoon of 29 April 1945. He was shown the glider pilots' Einsatzbefehl [mission orders]; "Gruppe bereithalten, Führer aus Berlin befreien". [stand ready to fly Hitler out].
Baumgart prepared his aircraft for takeoff and his passengers boarded. Baumgart’s orders were to fly to an airfield at Tønder in Denmark, forty-four miles from the Eider River, which runs through northern Germany just below the Danish border. Thankfully, the rain in which he had taken off from Rechlin had now stopped, at least for the time being. Baumgart pushed the throttles forward, and the old 'Tante Ju' rattled and shook its way down the patched length of roadway until it lifted its nose into the air. It would take seventeen minutes to climb to 10,000 feet, where Baumgart could level and settle the Junkers at its cruising speed of 132 miles per hour. It was not until he was airborne and the escape party had removed their helmets that he realized who his main passengers were. Knowing that as soon as the daylight brightened he would be in grave danger from enemy aircraft, Baumgart motioned his copilot to keep a sharp lookout. It was essential to fly as far as possible in darkness at treetop level, given sufficient moonlight, to avoid marauding night fighters protecting the Allied heavy bombers flying between 15,000 and 20,000 feet.
At Rechlin he had been promised an escort of at least seven Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, but there was no sign of them. Baumgart would say later that he followed an indirect flight plan, landing for some time at Magdeburg to the west of Berlin to avoid Allied fighters [Magdeburg was occupied by United States troops on 19 April 1945] and then flying northward through what the pilot said was an Allied artillery barrage to the Baltic coast. His luck held, and he encountered no further Allied aircraft before finally touching down on 29 April at Tønder, Denmark, a former Imperial German Zeppelin base. It was strewn with wrecked machines; just four days earlier, this field and that at Flensburg had been strafed by RAF Tempest fighters [of No. 486 "New Zealand" Squadron] that had destroyed twenty-two aircraft on the ground. As Baumgart closed down the engines and waited for the ground crew to approach, he caught sight of at least six Bf 109s dispersed around the field—the promised escort. Baumgart unbuckled himself and pulled the flying helmet from his head. In the rear he could hear his passengers getting ready to disembark; they had brought little luggage with them. He climbed out of his seat and walked back down the fuselage, coming to attention and saluting when he reached Hitler. The Führer took a step forward and shook his hand, and Baumgart was surprised to find that he was being slipped a piece of paper, which he put in his trouser pocket to look at later. He watched as the ground crew opened the door from the outside, and Hitler, Eva Braun, Ilse Braun, Hermann Fegelein, Joachim Rumohr, and Rumohr’s wife disembarked.
The party transferred to another Ju 52 to reach the long-range Luftwaffe base at Travemünde, where they boarded a Ju 252 for their flight to Reus, near Barcelona, in Spain.
The Junkers Ju 252 was a cargo aircraft that made its first flight in late October 1941. The aircraft was planned as a replacement for the Junkers Ju 52/3m in commercial airline service, but only a small number were built as cargo aircraft for the Luftwaffe.
Compared to the Ju 52, the Ju 252 was twice as heavy [13,100 kg vs. 5,600], was over 100 km/h faster [440 km/h vs. 305], and had dramatically improved range [3980 km vs. 1300]
when fully loaded. Design was headed by Konrad Eicholtz.
Although the Ju 252 was a vast improvement over the Junkers Ju 52/3m, the situation at that time did not permit any disruption of the existing production lines, and the Reich Air Ministry [RLM] was of the opinion that any replacement for the Junkers Ju 52/3m must make minimum demands on supplies of strategic materials and use power plants not required by combat aircraft. Junkers was then instructed to investigate the possibility of redesigning the Ju 252 in order that a considerable portion of wood could be included in its structure, simultaneously replacing the Junkers Jumo 211F engine with the BMW Bramo 323R engine of which surplus stocks existed. The result was the Junkers Ju 352. Production of the Ju 252 was restricted to already completed prototypes plus those for which major assemblies had already been semi-completed, thus only fifteen transports of this type were completed before production was switched to the Junkers Ju 352.
Capt. Baumgart had been sent for psychiatric tests when he first made these claims which the "Associated Press" and other news outlets reported in contemporary newspapers.
Declared sane, he repeated his story in detail in court in Warsaw. Released in 1951, he was never heard of again.
Maintains Hitler Escaped to Denmark
9 February 1949
LONDON, Tuesday. - Captain Peter Baumgart, a former German Luftwaffe pilot, who insisted that he flew Hitler and Eva Braun to Denmark shortly before the fall of Berlin, was today sentenced by a tribunal of three Polish judges to imprisonment for five years for being a member of the S.S.
Baumgart told the tribunal that he was born in South-West Africa, but renounced British citizenship in 1935. He claimed he had shot down 128 Allied aircraft in Crete, Italy, North Africa and the Eastern Front, and was the holder of the Iron Cross and other decorations.
He added that on 25 May 1945 [sic], shortly before the fall of Berlin, Hitler suddenly summoned him and ordered him to fly to Denmark.
Hitler, Eva Braun and a German general, with others, boarded his plane in Berlin, and it took off for Denmark. The plane made a forced landing at Magdeburg, but, upon Hitler's insistence, he flew the following day through an artillery barrage to the Danish shore.
They landed about 44 miles from the Eiter River in a field. Hitler shook hands with him, gave him a cheque for 20,000 Marks, and ordered him to return to Berlin immediately. Baumgart added that he believed Hitler and his party had boarded a submarine.
One of the judges reminded Baumgart that Allied 'Intelligence reports showed that Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves on 3 May 1945 [sic], but Baumgart stuck lo his story, adding that, Hitler was 'not the kind of man to take his own life.'
Baumgart’s own claims would be separately corroborated by the testimony of a German prisoner of war, Friedrich Argelotty-Mackensen. The transcript of Mackensen’s interrogation by U.S. Admiral Michael Musmanno records a sighting of Hitler speaking to wounded German soldiers at an airfield, in Tønder, Denmark, three days before he was supposed to have died in Berlin
Musmanno: “Who had command of the plane?”
Mackensen: “Well, of course, I have no idea. I only know that in one of the planes in which Hitler was, that this plane was being flown or piloted by a certain Captain Baumgart. I was lying in the grass and then I was being picked up again. I was carried to some certain place around the plane. Then somebody set me down. All the others were standing there already. Somebody put a Knapsack under my head and then Hitler was standing there and… one moment now. Now, now, at the crucial point! Hitler has said that Admiral Dönitz is now in supreme command of the German army and Admiral Dönitz will enter into unconditional surrender with the Western powers. He is not authorized to surrender to the Eastern powers".
During the Trial Baumbach was doubted and sent to an asylum for psychological evaluation because he maintained that he was the man who facilitated Hitler’s escape. The asylum concluded that this man was very sane and he will maintain his story to his death. The tribunal simply passed him off as a “lunatic” even though their own psychiatrists had testified he was not insane at all. Why was this man's testimony not believed?
According to period newspaper accounts, Baumgart—was briefly imprisoned in Poland after the war, released in 1951, and "never heard of again". However, Baumgart after his release from Polish prison surfaced in the form of a TWA passenger manifest. According to it, Baumgart flew from Europe to New York before catching a flight for Washington, D.C., within weeks of his 1951 parole.
The Blohm & Voss BV 222 'Wiking' [German: Viking] was a large, six-engined German flying boat of World War II. Originally designed as a commercial transport, and produced in only limited quantities, it was both the largest flying boat and largest sea-based German aircraft to achieve operational status during the war.
Prior to World War II, the German airline Luft Hansa had carried out many transatlantic mail flights. However, their main interest was passenger transport, and they initiated a program in 1936 that culminated in an order for three BV 222 flying boats designed by Dr. Richard Vogt.
Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, plans were made to connect Germany and Japan by air using Luftwaffe aircraft modified for very long range flights since commercial flights to the Far East by Luft Hansa were no longer possible, and it had become very dangerous for ships or U-Boats to make the trip by sea. Field Marshal Erhard Milch authorized a study in to the feasibility of such direct flights and various routes were considered, including departing from German-occupied Russia and Bulgaria, and a sea route using a BV 222 flying from Kirkenes in north Norway to Tokyo via Sakhalin Island, a distance of4,000 mi.
The BV 222 was one of three aircraft considered seriously for the program, along with the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 and the Heinkel He 177. The He 177 was ruled out due to it being considered unreliable and in 1943 the Junkers Ju 290 was selected for the flights.
After the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, the remaining BV 222 aircraft were transferred to KG 200. Of these, one was probably the BV 222 reported to have been strafed and destroyed by Hawker Typhoon aircraft of No. 439 Squadron RCAF on 24 April 1945 at Seedorf, while two others were scuttled by their crews at Travemünde and Kiel-Holtenau airport respectively, at the end of the war.
Friedrich Arthur René Lotta von Argelloty-Mackensen, a twenty-four-year-old SS lieutenant of the "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler," would claim to have seen would claim to have seen Hitler on Tønder airfield. Wounded in the fighting around the government quarter on 27 April, he and three comrades, including his superior, SS Lt. Julius Toussaint, had been lucky enough to be put aboard one of the last medical evacuation flights out of Berlin. Mackensen—running a fever and slipping in and out of delirium—was unable to remember the place from which he had left. He described lying on a stretcher in the dimly lit interior of the plane and asking for water. At Tønder, where he would have to wait for several days, he was carried out of the plane by his comrades and laid on the ground. At some point he heard somebody say, "The Führer wants to speak once more". Mackensen was moved nearer and laid down again with a Knapsack to pillow his head. Hitler spoke for about a quarter of an hour. He said that Adm. Karl Dönitz was now in supreme command of the German forces and would surrender unconditionally to the Western powers; he was not authorized to surrender to the Soviet Union. When Hitler finished speaking, the assembled crowd—estimated by Mackensen at about a hundred strong—saluted, and Hitler then moved among the wounded, shaking hands; he shook Mackensen’s, but no words were exchanged. Eva Braun was standing near an aircraft, which Hitler then boarded, and it took off.
For this next leg, on 29 April, the Junkers was not flown by Capt. Baumgart, who was ordered to fly another aircraft back to Berlin for further evacuation flights. The piece of paper in his pocket turned out to be a personal check from Adolf Hitler for 20,000 Reichsmarks, drawn on a Berlin bank. The Führer’s aircraft returned to the field at Tønder, flying over it about an hour later, and a message canister was thrown down onto the airfield; it held a brief note to the effect that Hitler’s party had landed at the coast.
Hitler’s flight from Tønder to Travemünde on the German coast northeast of Lübeck had taken the Ju 52 just forty-five minutes. Waiting there was Lt. Col. Werner Baumbach of the Luftwaffe, the commander of KG 200. Baumbach had been assessing his diminishing options. At the start of that month, three huge six-engined Blohm & Voss Bv 222 flying boats, with a range of at least 3,300 miles, had been made ready to take senior Nazis to safety. To provide another possibility, a four-engined Junkers Ju 290 land aircraft with a similar range had also been ordered to Travemünde. Two of the flying boats were now at the bottom of the inlet, destroyed by Allied air attack. The Ju 290 had also been caught by strafing RAF pilots just as it landed on a specially lengthened concrete strip beside the shore; it was hit several times, forcing the pilot to overshoot, and had pitched over to one side, ripping off a wingtip. Baumbach had one Bv 222 flying boat left in the hangar, but he had never liked the type; its great size made it unwieldy, and although heavily armed it would be no match for an Allied fighter.
Martin Bormann had finally received confirmation from the Abwehr in Spain, through the modified T43 communications system, that an airfield had been made ready for the Führer’s arrival. Hitler would be flown to Reus in Catalonia, a region in which Generalissimo Franco’s fascists maintained an iron grip following their defeat of Catalan Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Lt. Col. Baumbach personally drew up the flight plan. With the Ju 290 out of action, the mission would be entrusted to a trimotor Ju 252—a plane Baumbach knew well, having flown them during his time with KG 200’s 1st Group. While a descendant of the old 'Tante Ju,' the Ju 252 was a vast improvement; its top speed was still only 272 miles per hour, but it had a range of just under 2,500 miles, a pressurized cabin, and a ceiling of 22,500 feet. It could reach the Spanish airfield at Reus, just over 1,370 miles away, with fuel to spare.
As the passengers disembarked from the Ju 52 at Travemünde after its short flight from Tønder, the Ju 252 was waiting on the tarmac with its engines already turning. Eva Braun now bade her sister Ilse a fond farewell—Ilse had decided to take her chances in Germany. Hermann Fegelein also embraced her. His own wife— Eva and Ilse’s sister Gretl—was heavily pregnant with their first child, and it had been considered too dangerous for her to flee with her husband. Bormann had assured his colleague that there would be plenty of time later to bring his wife and child to join him in exile. Joachim Rumohr and his wife had also decided to stay in Germany. Born in Hamburg, the cavalryman knew the countryside of Schleswig-Holstein well, and he felt sure he and his wife could find sanctuary there. [The overwhelming motive for Hitler’s hangers-on had been to escape the threat of Russian captivity; the Allied forces now advancing fast to the coasts north of Lübeck and Hamburg were from the British Second Army]. The remaining members of the escape party then boarded the Ju 252, and Baumbach saluted his Führer for the last time on German soil.
As the aircraft rolled down the runway and took off, he felt great relief:
The Junkers Ju 290 was a large, four-engine long-range transport and maritime patrol aircraft used by the Luftwaffe late in World War II that had been developed from an earlier airliner.
The Junkers 290 was developed directly from the Ju 90 airliner, versions of which had been evaluated for military purposes, and was intended to replace the relatively slow Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor which by 1942 was proving increasingly vulnerable when confronted by Royal Air Force aircraft, and the Fw 200's airframe lacked sufficient strength for the role. The Ju 290 was also intended to meet the need for large transport aircraft. A bomber version, the A-8, was planned, but never built. Design was headed by Konrad Eicholtz.
The development programme resulted in the Ju 290 V1 prototype BD+TX, which first flew on 16 July 1942. Both the V1 and the first eight A-1 production aircraft were unarmed transports. The need for heavy transports saw the A-1s pressed into service as soon as they were completed. Several were lost in early 1943, including one taking part in the Stalingrad Airlift, and two flying supplies to German forces in Tunisia, and arming them became a priority.
The urgent need for Ju 290s in the long-range maritime reconnaissance role was now also high priority, and resulted in the Ju 290A-2. Three A-1 aircraft were converted to A-2 specification on the assembly line. Production was slow due to the modifications necessary and the installation of strong defensive armament. The A-2 was fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band search radar and a dorsal turret fitted with a 20 mm MG 151 cannon. The Hohentwiel radar was successfully used to locate Allied convoys at ranges of up to 50 mi from an altitude of 1,600 ft or 62 mi from an altitude of 3,300 ft. It allowed convoys to be tracked while remaining out of range of anti-aircraft fire and carrier based fighters.
The A-3 version followed shortly after with additional navigational equipment and a heavier defensive armament. It was fitted with two hydraulically powered HDL 151 dorsal turrets armed with 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, with a further 20 mm MG 151/20 and a 13 mm [.51 in] MG 131 machine gun fitted in a typically German Bola gondola [a fitment for almost all German WW II bomber aircraft] directly underneath the forward dorsal gun turret, and a 20 mm MG 151/20 fitted in the tail operated by a gunner in a prone position. Two MG 131s were also fitted in waist positions [Fensterlafetten]. The A-3, along with the A-2, also featured large fuselage auxiliary fuel tanks. Both retained the rear loading ramp so that they could be used as transports if required.
The improved A-7 version appeared in spring 1944; 13 were completed, and 10 served with the long-range reconnaissance group, Fernaufklärungsgruppe [FAGr] 5. Some A-7s and some A-4s were fitted with a detachable nose turret armed with a 20 mm MG 151/20 for added defense against frontal attack. No bombs were carried, as it was intended that the A-5 and A-7 would be fitted with the FuG 203 Kehl radio guidance system to launch MCLOS-guided Fritz X and Hs 293 anti-ship missiles.
Production lines were set up at the Letov aircraft factory in Prague for combat versions of the aircraft, commencing with the Ju 290 A-2, which carried the aforementioned Hohentwiel maritime search radar for its patrol role. Minor changes in armament distinguished the A-3 and A-4, leading to the definitive A-5 variant. The A-6 was a 50-passenger transport aircraft.
A special long-range reconnaissance group, FAGr 5 [Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5], had been formed on 1 July 1943 and during the late summer of 1943.
Towards the end of 1943, Admiral Dönitz demanded that the entire output of Ju 290s be made available for U-Boat warfare. However, only 20 were assigned for this purpose. Even though both Hitler and Dönitz demanded an increase, the Luftwaffe General Staff declared it was unable to assign any more for naval reconnaissance purposes. The General Staff argued that there could be no increase in output so long as the Luftwaffe was not conceded "precedence in overall armaments".
In the spring of 1944, after Albert Speer had taken over the direction of air armaments, the Luftwaffe High Command boldly announced that production of the Ju 290 was to be suspended despite it being urgently needed for maritime reconnaissance; suspending production meant that resources could instead be diverted to building fighters. At that point in time, Speer's position was weak and Hermann Göring was trying to find allies to help him strip Speer of his power, and the Luftwaffe was not prepared to offer the Navy more than "goodwill".
On 26 May 1944, shortly after daybreak, a Sea Hurricane piloted by Sub Lieutenant Burgham from the escort carrier 'HMS Nairana' shot down a Ju 290 over the Bay of Biscay. The afternoon of the same day, Sub Lieutenants Mearns and Wallis attacked two more Ju 290s. Mearns shot down one piloted by Kurt Nonneberg, which ditched in the sea. The other Ju 290 disappeared on fire into cloud and was assumed to have crashed.
As the Battle of the Atlantic swung irrevocably in favour of the Allies with the loss by the Germans of French bases in August 1944, FAGr 5 withdrew eastwards and the remaining Ju 290s were reassigned to transport duties, including service with KG 200, where they were used to drop agents behind enemy lines and other special missions.
A Ju 290 A-5, of Luft Hansa flew to Barcelona on 5 April 1945, piloted by Captain Sluzalek. The aircraft suffered damage to its landing gear on landing and was repaired with parts brought from Germany by a Luft Hansa Fw 200. It remained in Spain because the Spanish Government ordered that regular Luft Hansa flights on route K22 be terminated from 21 April and was turned over to the Spanish authorities.
Fights to Japan
Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, plans were made to connect Germany and Japan by air using Luftwaffe aircraft modified for very long range flights. Commercial flights to the Far East by Luft Hansa were no longer possible, and it had become too dangerous for ships or U-Boats to make the trip by sea. Field Marshal Erhard Milch authorised a study into the feasibility of such direct flights. Various routes were considered, including departing from German-occupied Russia and Bulgaria. Nautsi, near Lake Inari in the north of Finland, was finally selected as the optimum starting point for a great circle route along the Arctic Ocean then across eastern Siberia, to refuel in Manchuria before completing the flight to Japan.
In 1943, the Ju 290 was selected for the flights and tests began in February 1944 of a Ju 290 A-5, loaded with 45 tons of fuel and cargo. Three Ju 290 A-9s were modified for long-range work at the Junkers factory in March 1943. The plan was eventually put on indefinite hold after the Japanese failed to agree on a route, as they did not want to provoke the Soviet Union by an overflight of Siberia, and the three aircraft were eventually transferred to KG 200 without any attempt at a long-range flight to Japan.
The idea for a flight to Japan was revived again in December 1944 to transport Luftwaffe General Ulrich Kessler to Japan as a replacement for the German air attaché in Tokyo. Ju 290 A-3, was flown to Travemünde for the necessary modifications, but the work was delayed and it was decided to send Kessler aboard the submarine U-234 instead. The aircraft was destroyed on 3 May 1945 as British troops arrived. Some sources claim that the trip to Japan took place, departing from Odessa and Mielec and landing in Manchuria.
The Luftwaffe Special Operations squadron, KG 200 used the Ju 290 amongst its various aircraft types. The KG 200 Ju 290 mission most well known was flown on the night of 27 November 1944. KG 200 pilots Braun and Pohl flew a Ju 290 from Vienna to a position just south of Mosul, Iraq, where they successfully air-dropped five Iraqi parachutists. Staging through the island of Rhodes which was still under German occupation, they evacuated some 30 casualties from there to Vienna.
Hitler's personal transport
On November 1943, Ju 290 A-5, along with many other new aircraft and prototypes, was shown to Adolf Hitler at Insterburg, East Prussia. Hitler was impressed by its potential and told Göering that he wanted a Ju 290 for his personal use. A Ju 290 was not however assigned to the Fliegerstaffel des Führers [FdF] until late 1944, when an A-7, , was supplied, which had formerly assigned to FAGr 5. Modifications were completed by February 1945 at the FdF's base at Pocking, Bavaria, a Stammkennzeichen alphabetic designation code of KR+LW being applied. Hitler's pilot, Hans Baur, tested the aircraft, but Hitler never flew in it.
The aircraft was fitted with a special passenger compartment in the front of the aircraft for Hitler, which was protected by 12 mm [.5 in] armour plate and 50 mm [2 in] bulletproof glass. A special escape hatch was fitted in the floor and a parachute was built into Hitler's seat; in an emergency it was intended that he would put on the parachute, pull a lever to open the hatch, and roll out through the opening. This arrangement was tested using life-size mannequins.
Hans Baur flew the aircraft to Munich-Riem airport on 24 March 1945, landing just as an air-raid alert was sounded. He went home after parking it in a hangar but on returning to the airport, he discovered that both hangar and aircraft had been destroyed by American bombers.
The long range of the Ju 290 made it a good candidate for further development concerning the Amerika Bomber project, competing with the three airworthy examples of the Messerschmitt Me 264, the never-built Heinkel He 277 and Focke-Wulf Ta 400 designs, and as a result, the six-engined Ju 390, based directly on the Ju 290 airframe with even longer range was built in prototype form, two airframes being completed and test-flown. The Ju 290 itself was considered as a tanker to refuel the Amerika bomber, specifically the Me 264.
In late 1942 Field Marshal Milch ordered that the possibility of increasing the fuel capacity of the Ju 290 to enable it to perform the Amerik bomber mission. The draw backs were twofold, first the initial rate of climb would be very poor, and the fully loaded airplane could only operate out of two fields in France. A lightened Ju 290E was considered in March 1943 but was never to be. The Ju 390 at gross weight required a tow to take off. At first a He 111Z was tried but the Ju 390 was predicted it might be unstable in such an instance so plans were changed to use two Ju 290s instead. During May 1942 engineers at Junkers had done calculations to investigate the possibility of refueling the Ju 390 in flight from a Ju 290. By March 1943 consideration of using a Ju 290 to refuel another was made and the result was to see up to four Ju 290s converted to be tankers or long range bombers. Tanker/receiver experiments continued in early 1944 when two Ju 290 A-2s were tested under operational conditions from Mont de Marsan in France. As Germany lost access to the ocean, the America Bomber role soon evaporated, and by October 1944, all production was stopped. Both the Ju 290A-8 and Ju 390A-1 were each intended to use two of the under-development, Borsig-designed Hecklafette HL 131V quadmount tail turrets (each armed with four MG 131 machine guns apiece), with one turret for rearwards defence and, in the nose, one for forward defence.
Germany's Last Ju 290s
Despite the end of reconnaissance operations from France and the Amerika bomber program, starting in September 1944 three more Ju 290s were constructed for "special purposes" by Junkers. What those "special purposes" were, or if they ever came to be, is unknown.
"Thank God that’s over. I would rather leave some things unsaid, but it occurs to me that these diary notes may one day shed a little light on the strains, the desperate situation and maddening hurry of the last few days. At that time I had almost decided to make my own escape. The aircraft stood ready to take off. We were supplied with everything we needed for six months. And then I found I could not do it. Could I bolt at the last moment, deserting Germany and leaving in the lurch men who had always stood by me? I must stay with my men".
The final Escape Party—Hitler, Eva, Fegelein, and Blondi—flew to Reus in a long-range Ju 252 of KG 200. On arrival at Reus, a Spanish air force Ju 52 picked the party up for the flight to the Canary Islands. To eliminate evidence, the KG 200 aircraft was dismantled. Hitler and his party flew from Reus to Fuerteventura, stopping to refuel at the airbase at Morón, before arriving at the Nazi base at Villa Winter to rendezvous with the U-boats of Operation Seawolf.
The Spanish Military Airbase, eighty miles south of Barcelona, dated back to 1935. [During the Civil War there were three military airfields near Reus, the other two being at Maspujol and Salou]. After perhaps a six-hour flight from Travemünde, Hitler and his companions stepped down from the Ju 252. The crew lined up on the tarmac to salute; the Führer returned the compliment, and his party was taken away quickly in two staff cars to a low building on the edge of the airfield. The KG 200 pilot had been in radio contact with the military commander at Reus during his approach to the airfield, and that officer in turn had called the military governor of Barcelona. Fifteen minutes later a Spanish air force Ju 52 in national markings landed at the far edge of the field. The Ju 252 in which the party had arrived would be dismantled; there was to be no physical evidence that the flight had ever taken place, thus allowing Franco complete deniability. The fugitives’ next stop would be the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic, where Villa Winter, a top-secret facility, had been established on the island of Fuerteventura. From there they would embark on the next leg of their journey to a distant place of safety. For a number of other Nazis, however, Spain would be the final destination of choice.
On 8 May 1945—the day victory in Europe was celebrated—the wounded SS Lt. Friedrich von Argelotty-Mackensen was at last about to leave Tønder airfield in Denmark, destination Malaga. He would report that before his plane took off he saw another recognizable figure there: the Belgian SS Col. Leon Degrelle, the leader of the fascist Rexist Party and, as the highly decorated commander of the Belgian Waffen-SS contingent, a much-photographed personality. Degrelle had fled from Oslo that day in a Heinkel He 111H bomber stripped out for passenger transport, flown by Albert Duhinger [who later lived in Argentina flying commercial aircraft].
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in 1934. Through development it was described as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" because the project
masqueraded the machine as civilian transport, though from conception the Heinkel was intended to provide
the nascent Luftwaffe with a fast medium bomber.
Perhaps the best-recognised German bomber due to the distinctive, extensively glazed "greenhouse" nose of later versions, the Heinkel He 111 was the most numerous Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. The bomber fared well until the Battle of Britain, when its weak defensive armament was exposed. Nevertheless, it proved capable of sustaining heavy damage and remaining airborne. As the war progressed,
the He 111 was used in a variety of roles on every front in the European theatre. It was used as a
strategic bomber during the Battle of Britain, a torpedo bomber in the Atlantic and Arctic,
and a medium bomber, supporting the German campaigns in the field until 1943 when, owing to Western Allied and Soviet air superiority, it reverted to a transport aircraft role in the Western, Eastern, Mediterranean,
Middle Eastern, and North African Front theatres
Among other European collaborators to be offered a way out was Norway’s puppet leader, Vidkun Quisling. At his trial in Oslo in September 1945, he related how Josef Terboven, the Nazi Reichskommissar of Norway, had offered him passage in an aircraft or a U-Boat to get to Spain or some other foreign country. Quisling said that as a "true patriot" he had refused the offer and stayed to face his countrymen; he would soon pay for this decision in front of a firing squad. At the beginning of May, Pierre Laval, the former Vichy French prime minister, was flown to Spain aboard a Ju 88. [Franco would expel him, and he too would be executed by his countrymen in autumn 1945].
The Junkers Ju 88 was a German World War II Luftwaffe twin-engined multirole combat aircraft. Designed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke [JFM] in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber ["fast bomber"] which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages
of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter and even, during the closing stages of the conflict in Europe, as a flying bomb
It was reported that the Berlin ambassador of Italy’s rump Fascist republic, Filippo Anfuso, had also escaped late in April 1945, apparently aboard a "Croat plane". As early as 26 April 1945, "Moscow Radio" had charged that Spain was receiving Nazi refugees at an airfield on the Balearic island of Minorca.
Quoting Swiss sources, the Soviets said:
"To supervise the business, Gen. José Moscardo, an intimate of Franco … visited Minorca last month. Recent arrivals at the aerodrome are the family of [Robert] Ley and several Gauleiters".
Robert Ley, the head of the German Labor Front since 1933, committed suicide while awaiting trial for war crimes at Nuremberg in October 1945. During his interrogation, however, Ley stated that when he last met Hitler in the Bunker during April, the Führer had told him to "Go south, and he would follow".
Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments minister, said much the same about a meeting in the Bunker on Hitler’s birthday, 20 April:
"At that meeting, to the surprise of nearly everyone present, Hitler announced that he would stay in Berlin until the last minute, and then "fly south".
SS Staff Sgt. Rochus Misch, the telephone operator in the Führerbunker, said:
"There were two planes waiting to the north of Berlin. One of them was a Ju 390, and [the other] a Blohm & Voss that could fly the same distance. So Hitler could have escaped if he had wanted to".
The feasibility of Hitler making a last-minute escape from Berlin was apparently accepted by the most senior Soviet officers. On 10 June 1945, the commander of the Soviet Zone in Germany, Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, stated that Hitler "could have taken off at the very last moment, for there was an airfield at his disposal".
The Soviet commandant of Berlin, Col. Gen. Nikolai E. Berzarin, said:
"My personal opinion is that he has disappeared somewhere into Europe—perhaps he is in Spain with Franco. He had the possibility of taking off and getting away".
Whatever the popular image of total Allied air superiority over Western Europe in the last days of the war, in reality it was unnecessary to maintain total surveillance of thousands of cubic miles of sky; the remnants of the Luftwaffe were encircled in an ever-decreasing area. For Allied fighter pilots it was a "target-poor environment"; the very fact that air-to-air encounters were at this point so rare argues that single machines flown by intrepid, experienced, and lucky German airmen could slip across it unnoticed. Since it is established that Leon Degrelle was flown all the way from Norway—and according to Mackensen, via Tønder in southern Denmark—to northern Spain as late as 8 May, there is certainly nothing inherently impossible about Hitler having beaten him to it on 29 April.
In Berlin, Bormann and Müller were meanwhile "tidying up" with ruthless efficiency. During 28–29 April, the two actors in the private quarters of the Führerbunker played out a ghastly pantomime orchestrated by the Nazi Party’s grand puppet-master, Martin Bormann. It ended on 30 April in a fatal finale that would have been executed by "Gestapo" Müller. At some time that afternoon Eva Braun’s double was poisoned, and Hitler’s double, probably Gustav Weler, was shot at close range by Müller in person.
Shrouded in blankets, the two bodies were carried upstairs, soaked in gasoline and burned in a small depression near the conical ventilation tower, in the shell-torn Chancellery garden, as described by Erich Kempka, the head of the Chancellery motor pool. Although accounts by witnesses are confused and sometimes contradictory, this iconic scene has become an accepted historical fact. Indeed, everything about it may be correct—apart from the true identities of the two burning corpses. The entire Göbbels family died in the Führerbunker on 1 May 1945, with the six children poisoned and their parents committing suicide. The bodies were burned in a funeral pyre in the Reich Chancellery garden—the same fate that befell the body doubles of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.
A picture of an unburnt Hitler "corpse" with a gunshot wound to the forehead circulated extensively after the war. It is now believed to be possibly that of a cook in the Bunker who bore a vague resemblance to Adolf Hitler. It was just one of at least six "Hitler" bodies, none of them showing any signs of having been burnt, that were delivered to the Soviets in the days after the fall of Berlin. A third impersonator would also die: Dr. Werner Haase, one of Hitler’s physicians, used a cyanide capsule on Blondi’s double. Her recently born pups—which the Göbbels children had loved to play with in the Bunker—as well as Eva’s Scottish terriers Negus and Stasi, and Haase’s own Dachshund, were killed by Sgt. Fritz Tornow, who served as Hitler’s personal veterinarian.
Bormann communicated the news of "Hitler’s death" to Adm. Karl Dönitz, appointed as the new Reich president in Hitler’s will. Before Bormann and Müller could finish their "cleaning," there was one more potential witness to be silenced. SS Lt. Col. Peter Högl, the last person to have seen Hermann Fegelein, was also shot in the head, as the final groups of would-be escapers left the Bunker on the night of 2 May. At this point, SS and Police Gen. Heinrich Müller, Bormann’s principal co-conspirator and hit man, disappeared from the "official" history record without a trace. A few days later his family would bury a body in a Berlin cemetery; the casket bore the touching inscription "To Our Daddy," but it would later be determined that it contained body parts from three unknown victims.
In the early hours of 2 May, Bormann made his own escape from the Führerbunker along with Werner Naumann, Göbbels’s nominated successor as propaganda minister, who later in 1945 would turn up in Argentina. The party of Bormann, Artur Axmann, the leader of the Hitler Youth; Hitler’s doctor, Ludwig Stumpfegger; and Waffen-SS Capt. Joachim Tiburtius, clambered aboard two Tiger II tanks, which tried to make their way up Friedrichstrasse, but the attempt was short-lived. One of the tanks took a direct hit from a Soviet anti-tank weapon, and the wreck blocked the other Tiger’s path. Bormann and Tiburtius made it on foot separately to the Hotel Atlas; Bormann had already stashed escape clothes, new identity papers, and cash there [as he had at various other points around the city], Tiburtius and the Reichsleiter pushed on together toward the Schiffbauerdamm, a long road running beside the Spree River in Berlin’s Mitte district; then the SS captain lost sight of Bormann.
The following day Bormann was in the town of Königs Wüsterhausen, about twelve miles southeast of the Chancellery. He had been wounded; a shell fragment had injured his foot. He managed to commandeer a vehicle that took him to a German military first aid station for medical treatment. A young, slightly wounded SS sergeant found himself seated alongside a familiar-looking, short, heavyset man wearing a leather overcoat over a uniform stripped of insignia. The young NCO said that he was on his way to the house of his uncle, a Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed in Russia, and invited Bormann to go with him. Joined by another officer, they later walked through the dark streets to the house at Fontanestrasse 9 in the Berlin Dahme-Spreewald neighborhood. Bormann later made it safely through the British lines by following the Autobahn to the outskirts of Flensburg, where he had planned to make contact with Dönitz. Waiting for him at a safe house just outside the town was "Gestapo" Müller, who had also managed to slip through the British lines. Müller told Bormann that it would be impossible to meet Dönitz, who had by now carried out unconditional surrenders in both Reims and Berlin. The plans had to be changed; Martin Bormann headed south, for the Bavarian mountains.
There was little option but to choose a submarine as the means to carry Hitler across the Atlantic to Argentina, but it was still a high-risk plan. Since the tipping point in the Battle of the Atlantic in May 1943, the balance of power in the sea war had shifted. The Kriegsmarine had lost its French U-Boat bases in the summer of 1944, making the approach voyages to possible patrol areas much longer, more difficult, and more dangerous. Allied antisubmarine naval and air forces with greatly improved equipment now dominated the North Atlantic sea-lanes and the waters around most of Europe, so Allied shipping losses were a small fraction of what they had been. In 1944, U-Boat loss rates had outstripped the numbers of new boats being commissioned; consequently, the remaining crews and most of their commanders were much less experienced. From January through April 1945 alone, no fewer than 139 U-Boats and their crews were lost. The chances of a successful submarine escape directly from northwest Europe to South America would have been slim; however, the odds improved significantly with Spain as the point of departure.
The only available U-boat class that had the range and capacity to carry passengers to Argentina in anything approaching comfort was the Type IXC
. In March 1945, nine Type IX U-Boats
sailed for the Atlantic; this was the last major U-Boat operation of the war, and the first such operation since the scattering of the failed Gruppe Preussen a year previously. Two of the boats, U-530 and U-548, were directed to operate in Canadian waters, to "annoy and defy the United States". The other seven, designated Gruppe Seewolf—U-518, U-546, U-805, U-858, U-880, U-881 and U-1235—were to form a patrol line code-named Harke ["Rake"]. It is believed, however, that in mid-April three of these boats opened sealed orders that would divert them southward on a special mission.
This U-Boast type was designed to be able to operate far from home support facilities. As an example of their endurance, the Type IX boats briefly patrolled off the eastern United States. Some 283 were built from 1937–44. It was not by chance the word “Wolf” was used in the operation’s designation. From early in his career and throughout his life Hitler used the pseudonym Wolf. Among the most successful German operational techniques during the war were the "wolf-pack tactics" [known as Rudeltaktik] by which the U-Boats preyed on Atlantic shipping, and the submarines themselves were lauded by the Propaganda Ministry as "Grey Wolves". It was typical of Bormann’s meticulous planning that three separate U-Boats of Gruppe Seewolf were assigned to the escape mission to provide alternatives if needed and that the mission was concealed within a conventional Atlantic operation so as not to attract Allied curiosity.
The planning for this phase of the escape had begun in 1944, when Aktion Feuerland had already been under way for more than a year. On Bormann’s instructions, navy and air force assets across the Reich had been allocated to play contingent parts in the complex and developing escape plan. One such part was a misinformation phase. In July 1944, News Agencies reported that Hitler had approved a plan for an imminent attack on New York, with "robot bombs" launched from submarines in the Atlantic. On 20 August, the Type IXC Boat U-1229 [Cdr. Armin Zinke] was attacked and forced to surface off Newfoundland on the Canadian east coast, and among the captured survivors was a German agent, Oskar Mantel. Under interrogation by the FBI, he revealed that a wave of U-Boats equipped with V-1 flying bombs was being readied to attack the United States. In November 1944, U-1230 landed two agents off the Maine coast; they were spotted coming ashore and arrested. During their interrogation, Erich Gimpel and William Colepaugh [an American defector] corroborated Mantel’s story. This also seemed to be supported by the prediction in a radio broadcast by the Reich armaments minister, Albert Speer, that V-missiles "would fall on New York by 1 February 1945". On 10 December 1944, New York’s mayor Fiorello La Guardia broke the story to an astonished American public. On 8 January 1945, Adm. Jonas H. Ingram, commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, announced that a new wave of U-Boats approaching the United States might be fitted with V-1 rockets to attack the eastern seaboard. The Nazis might launch "robots from submarine, airplane or surface ship" against targets ranging from Maine to Florida, but the U.S. Navy was fully prepared to meet the threat.
The story of the Code-Breakers and computer pioneers of Bletchley Park, the sixty-acre facility fifty miles northwest of London where the British government’s Code and Cypher School—Station X—was installed in August 1939, has been told at length elsewhere. The bare essentials are that in January 1940, British specialists, building upon invaluable prewar Polish research, managed to crack the encrypted German Army transmissions generated by the Enigma machine. Decryption of the Luftwaffe’s transmissions soon followed; however, the Kriegsmarine’s encryptions for message traffic between Adm. Dönitz’s U-Boat Command and his boats at sea remained unbroken. The huge toll of Allied and neutral shipping that the U-Boats were taking in 1940 made solving this mystery a priority. It became even more urgent from September 1940, when Dönitz successfully pioneered his wolf-pack tactics, using encrypted communications to vector multiple boats into the path of a sighted convoy. Lt. Cdr. Ian Fleming of British naval intelligence concocted a scheme to crash-land a captured German aircraft in the English Channel, wait for rescue by a German patrol boat, overpower its crew, and capture an Enigma machine. The men and the aircraft for this Operation Ruthless got as far as Dover before the plan was canceled, on the sensible grounds that none of the vessels operated by the Germans in the Channel at night was a suitable target [and that there was no guarantee that the ditched plane would float long enough for its crew to be rescued].
On 9 May 1941, U-110 was attacking convoy CB318 in the North Atlantic, south of Iceland, when Royal Navy escorts forced it to the surface by a depth-charge attack. The U-Boat crew abandoned ship after setting scuttling charges, but these failed to detonate; the British apparently shot the submarine’s captain, the U-Boat ace Lt. Cdr. Fritz Julius Lemp, when he tried to return to the vessel to finish the job. Royal Navy sublieutenant David Balme of 'HMS Bulldog' led a boarding party across, risked going down the hatch, and recovered the Enigma machine and its priceless accompanying instruction books—a success that the British went to great lengths to conceal from the captured crew. Constant radio intercepts and ceaseless work to keep up with the changing settings of the naval Enigma machines were still necessary to maintain the flow of Ultra intelligence, and the introduction of the Schlüssel M four-rotor Enigma machine defeated Bletchley Park from February to December 1942 and continued to hamper the decrypters until September 1943. Nevertheless, Ultra gave the Allies a massive intelligence-gathering advantage; concealing the Allies’ knowledge of Enigma transmissions—their greatest secret "weapon"—from the Germans was a matter of life and death.
The Germans never did discover that the Enigma codes had been broken, but in February 1945, a new sort of traffic was coming over the radio speakers in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park —traffic that nobody had ever encountered before and that nobody had the slightest idea how to break . The British gave the names "Tunny" and "Thrasher" to these two latest weapons in Germany’s cryptographic arsenal; neither seemed to be generated using the now relatively familiar Enigma systems. In time, a stupendous effort and the use of the Colossus computer would allow Tunny, produced by the Lorenz SZ42 machine, to be read [at least intermittently], but Bormann’s communications network based on the Siemens & Halske T43 machine remained secure. On 23 April 1945, Adm. Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, Hitler’s navy adjutant [and another survivor of the 20 July 1944, bomb attempt], was sent to the Berghof in Bavaria to destroy Hitler’s private papers there. Puttkamer had three T43 machines in mobile radio trucks in an underground garage at Berchtesgaden, guarded by forty SS troops, and on 25 April the machines began transmitting. They continued to communicate with a variety of stations until 1 May, and many of the messages were for German agents in South America.
Hut 3 at Bletchley Park housed a team headed by Prof. [RAF Wing Cdr.] Oscar Oeser, a South African–born physicist; this group sifted incoming traffic for deciphering by Colossus. In late April 1945, Oeser received a visit from Ian Fleming, whose latest target was Thrasher and the Siemens & Halske T43 machine; this was still defying all efforts at decryption, and Thrasher was being used with increasing frequency. Fleming said that he had located at least two of the latest machines, and he asked if Oeser would join a commando mission into Germany to capture and evaluate them. Oeser was unique in holding degrees in both physics and psychology, and he had studied in Germany. Despite the forty-one-year-old academic’s unwarlike and sedentary background, his work at Bletchley Park, his breadth of expertise, and his fluency in German made him the perfect candidate for the task of both evaluating equipment and interrogating its operators. Oeser was immediately interested. A week later he was on the ground near Berchtesgaden as part of TICOM [Target Intelligence Committee] Team 5.
On 2 May 1945, the TICOM team targeted Adm. von Puttkamer’s group, met with no resistance from the SS guards, and captured the three T43 machines. [Oeser later handed two of the machines over to the Americans under Operation Paperclip]. Prof. Oeser was amazed at what he found, which he described as "a digital computer system … decades ahead" of anything the Allies had. Bletchley Park never did break the Thrasher cipher. However, the TICOM team also captured the premier signals-intelligence unit and almost eight tons of its most secret equipment. With this apparatus the decrypters were able to break the cipher of the latest Soviet military teleprinter that was known by Bletchley Park as "Russian Fish" and subsequently "Caviar". The TICOM team was in awe of the Nazis’ advanced technology, which gained many German operators comfortable employment in Britain for the next few years decoding Soviet military traffic.
Hitler's Escape from Berlin is remarkably well documented. The Führer’s trail led as far as Reus near Barcelona, where his trimotor escape plane was dismantled and he boarded a Spanish aircraft. His next documented sighting would be deep in Argentina in the Southern Hemisphere, at the San Ramón estate near Bariloche in Río Negro province, in June 1945. It has not been possible to establish precisely how Hitler and his party reached Argentina, but taking into account the "pieces on the board"—to use a chess axiom— it is likely it happened in the following way. By using logic, deduction, and research on what vessels, aircraft, locations, and people were available to the Nazis and how they could be used, it can be believed Hitler would join with the three missing boats from Seewolf and some six weeks later arrive at Necochea on the coast of Argentina. Argentina. As when you are hunting an animal, you do not always see your quarry, but you can see traces of where it has been and where it is going.
Oo 28 April 1945, the three designated U-Boats from Gruppe Seewolf—U-518, U-880, and U-1235—arrived one-half nautical mile off Fuerteventura at Punta Pesebre, at latitude 28°07′00″ N and longitude 14°28′30″ E. Their crews had no knowledge of what their mission was to be; they had simply been ordered to this position and told to wait for further orders for up to ten days if necessary. A signal lamp from shore had been flashed at a specific time for the previous two nights. When the submarines arrived, a single, brief message was sent to Berlin from Villa Winter, confirming their presence. Bormann’s reply was equally brief: "Agree proposed transfer overseas". While they awaited further orders, the U-Boat crews took the welcome opportunity to relax in the warm sunshine.
The Villa Winter Base on the deserted Jandía peninsula of Fuerteventura had been built in 1943 under the supervision of the senior Abwehr agent in the Canary Islands and had then been manned by personnel of the SS intelligence service. The base had deliberately been excluded from utilization during the Nazi war effort. Bormann intended this facility to serve one purpose only: to act as a key link in the escape route from Berlin. It was the perfect place for the Führer to be picked up by the "last wolf-pack". By late 1944, with the movement of funds out of Germany in top gear after the Hotel Maison Rouge meeting of that August, the Germans had built a runway at the end of the peninsula; 1,650 yards long by 66 yards wide, this could easily handle four-engined aircraft like the Junkers Ju 290 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor. Bormann was covering all the bases, providing his escape plan with built-in redundancies.
Between late 1943 and February 1944, at least 250 Nazi agents made their way into the Canary Islands and the Spanish Saharan colony of Rio del Oro, via the Spanish port of Cádiz. The Spanish authorities did not hinder them in any way. At least four months before the long-awaited Allied invasion of France, Bormann was moving key personnel involved in Aktion Feuerland to new bases, and these relocations to the Canaries rapidly increased later in 1944. In October 1944, German activities in Spain were increasingly annoying the influential U.S. broadcaster and columnist Walter Winchell—a close friend of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and usually well informed by both U.S. and British intelligence services. Winchell reported, "Hitler had been building air bases in Spain since 1939.… Work was supervised by German Army engineers, done by Franco’s political prisoners who worked at bayonet point". He went on to state that "Spanish islands off the coast of Villa Garcia were cleared of their civilian population last year. Landing fields, advance Luftwaffe, and three whole regiments of Nazi flyers took over the islands. All civilian travel has been suspended between the Spanish mainland and the Balearics and the Canaries". Civilian travel to the islands was indeed banned. Winchell said that there were two major Nazi bases on Gran Canaria: Gando airfield and a nearby submarine base. If civilians had been able to travel to the islands, Winchell said, they “would see the great storage tanks for submarine fuel, in Las Palmas they would see German officers marching with the Falangists and ten times as many soldiers as in normal times. They would also see the great Nazi seaplane base in Baleares [on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca]".
Hitler's change of Aircraft on 29 April at the Spanish military base at Reus, from the Luftwaffe Ju 252 to a Ju 52 with Ejército del Aire markings, was carried out quickly and in secrecy. The Führer’s party was then flown to Villa Winter on Fuerteventura. During this leg of the journey, the sense of relief on the aircraft must have been palpable. The refugees were flying through neutral Spanish airspace while Allied eyes were still focused on Berlin and, in the case of U.S. intelligence, Bavaria. Stopping briefly to refuel at the Spanish air force base at Morón in southern Spain and guided by the extensive communications network from the Villa Winter, the aircraft was on the ground in the Canary Islands by late 29 April or early on the thirtieth. Its passengers were driven along dirt roads from the airstrip to the luxurious villa, to receive a good meal and to sleep—for the first time in months—free from the ominous rumble of bombing and artillery, to prepare for the long and comfortless journey by submarine, to the refuge organized and financed by Bormann’s Aktion Feuerland, which was built, decorated, and ready. Two months later, on the windswept coast of Argentina, the last U-Boat of Gruppe Seewolf would land its passengers
Twenty-five-year-old Hans-Werner Offermann, although the youngest of the three commanders, was a seasoned submariner with personal experience in South American waters, and his crew had been sailing on war patrols since May 1942. By 1945—when the average life expectancy of U-Boat men was one and a half patrols—that longevity set them apart as unusually lucky and skillful veterans, and this combination of experience made U-518 a sensible choice for Hitler’s boat. When the passengers had been made as comfortable as possible in the cramped conditions of a fighting U-Boat, it departed the island for its voyage of 5,300 miles.
The trip would take fifty-nine days, during which the time must have hung as heavily as it had in the "concrete submarine" of the Führerbunker.
After dark on 4 May 1945—two days after the "official" announcement of Hitler’s death, which caused some wry smiles aboard U-518—the boat anchored for four hours off the southwestern side of the uninhabited island of Branco, in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa. Taking the opportunity to "air" the boat, Offermann allowed Eva Braun in particular to come up onto the bridge to smoke—she was finding the conditions aboard the submarine almost intolerable. For a fleeting moment four days later, at approximately 30°W, Offermann considered surfacing for the customary equator ceremony of "crossing the line," but he quickly dismissed the idea. He had a rendezvous.
SS Gen. Hermann Fegelein arrived off the Argentine coast aboard U-880 on the night of 22–23 July, some five days ahead of the Führer’s boat. The boat had maintained maximum speed throughout its journey to enable Eva’s brother-in-law to organize preparations for the Führer’s arrival. He transferred into a tugboat of the Delfino SA line about thirty miles off Mar del Plata in the early hours of 23 July. Sailors from U-880 off-loaded forty small but heavy boxes, the size of ammunition chests, from the submarine onto the Delfino tug. U-880’s final service to the Reich had now been performed. The crew transferred to the tugboat, the last men opened the seacocks and scrambled to safety, and as they watched quietly their U-Boat flooded with seawater and sank for the last time into the South Atlantic depths. Meanwhile, in the tugboat captain’s cabin, Fegelein showered and shaved for the first time in fifty-four days. Fifteen minutes later, Fegelein was dressed in a sharp grey double-breasted suit, courtesy of Buenos Aires' finest tailor. This had been brought aboard for him by Col. Juan Perón’s personal representative Rodolfo Freude, the son of the Nazi "ambassador" in Argentina, the wealthy businessman Ludwig Freude.
When Fegelein and Freude landed on the quay at Mar del Plata, a black Argentine navy staff car was waiting for them. A short while later the SS general and the Argentine Nazi boarded a Curtiss Condor II biplane—freshly painted in the colors of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina, established less than six months before—and took off. This Curtiss was one of four originally ordered by the Argentine navy in 1938; the type was renowned for its short take-off and heavy payload capability. It touched down again just half an hour later, on the grass airstrip at a German-owned ranch four miles from the coast near Necochea.
SS Gen. Hermann Fegelein, wrapped in a borrowed greatcoat to protect him from the Argentine winter’s night, was waiting under a starlit sky on the beach at Necochea for his sister-in-law and his Führer. U-518 arrived off the coast an hour later. Hans Offermann brought his submerged boat as close to the shore as he could, moving dead slow and with a tense hydrophone operator straining for the sounds of surface vessels; the commander had little detailed or recent information about the coastline he was approaching. Eventually he ordered the boat to periscope depth and cautiously raised the observation periscope; a careful 360-degree sweep satisfied him that no vessels or aircraft were nearby and that the light signals from shore coincided with those in his orders. Still taking no chances, he ordered his gun crews to prepare to man the 37mm and 20mm antiaircraft cannons as soon as the boat surfaced, although they had little ammunition in the lockers.
Fegelein sent out a small motorboat belonging to the ranch to meet the submarine. For the middle of the Southern Hemisphere winter, the water was surprisingly calm. As the launch approached the beach, lit by sailors’ flashlights, Fegelein raised his arm in the classic Nazi salute. The 'Admiral Graf Spee' men splashed into the small breakers on the beach and helped pull the craft up onto the sand, and Fegelein moved forward to help Eva Braun from the boat. Hitler was helped down by the boat crew, returned Fegelein’s salute, and shook him by the hand. The one-time ruler of the Thousand-Year Reich was almost unrecognizable. He was pasty-faced from the long voyage, the trademark moustache had been shaved off, and his hair was lank and uncut. Eva had made an effort to look good throughout the trip, but the prison-house pallor of her skin was highlighted by the lipstick and rouge she had applied before leaving the submarine.
No doubt Fegelein took the opportunity of the short drive to brief Hitler on the immediate arrangements. An avenue lined with tamarisk trees led to the main house of the Estancia Moromar, where they would spend the first night. Security at the ranch house was surprisingly light: the fewer people who knew about the visitors, the better. The petty officers Shultz, Dettelmann, and Brennecke helped in the subsequent unloading of many heavy boxes, which were ferried ashore from the U-Boat on repeated trips by the motorboat and the submarine’s rubber boats. The boxes were loaded onto the farm trucks and driven to outbuildings on the Estancia Moromar; repacked in new boxes, the contents would be taken to Buenos Aires and deposited in Nazi-controlled banks. At the end of the unloading, most of the crew from U-518 came ashore in the rubber dinghies and marched in column in civilian clothes, their kitbags slung over their shoulders, to quarters on the estancia. Meanwhile, an eight-man skeleton crew took U-518 out on its final voyage, to be scuttled further from shore. They would return in the motorboat, to join their shipmates for their first fresh meal in two months.
The next morning, 30 July 30, 1945, Hitler, Eva, and Fegelein boarded the same Argentine air force Curtiss biplane that had picked Fegelein up at Mar del Plata. They would travel the last leg of the months-long journey that had brought them nearly one-third of the way around the globe, from the rubble-strewn battlefield of Berlin to a world of huge, silent horizons. Although Hitler had been thoroughly briefed about the vastness of Patagonia, such knowledge was theoretical, and during the daytime flight westward he was amazed at the physical spectacle unrolling below him. After what would have been a three-and-a-half-hour flight, the Curtiss Condor landed at another grass strip just outside the town of Neuquén in the north of Patagonia. None of the passengers bothered to leave the aircraft as a small tanker truck drew up, and the pilot supervised a group of men in air force uniforms while they refueled it. Topped up, the 'Condor' was soon back in the air and heading southwest, while from the right hand windows the three passengers watched the majestic, snow-capped Andes Mountains unrolling under the afternoon sun. Two hours later, with the waters of Lake Nahuel Huapí glinting below as dusk approached on 30 July, the biplane came in to land again, bumped over the grass, and taxied to a halt on the airfield at San Ramón.
In this region, the Estancia San Ramón was the first officially delineated estate to be fenced in. The ranch is isolated, approached only via an unsurfaced road past San Carlos de Bariloche’s first airfield. The family of Prince Stephan zu Schaumburg-Lippe had bought the estate as long ago as 1910 and still owned it in 1945. In 1943 Prince Stephan and Wilhelm von Schön, respectively the Nazi government’s consul and ambassador in Chile, had been called back to Germany as part of the planning for Aktion Feuerland. They left South America through Buenos Aires, where they held lengthy discussions with the de facto ambassador, the local millionaire Ludwig Freude.
The staff at the isolated San Ramón estate had been busy for days since being given advance warning of the impending arrival of important guests. The arrival of a security team of 'Admiral Graf Spee' sailors a week before had already added to the staff’s workload, and two new faces had joined the weekly shopping trip into San Carlos de Bariloche to ensure that no gossip betrayed the guests’ presence. Contact with Martin Bormann, who was still on the move in Europe, was infrequent, but his "Organization" in Argentina was finalizing security plans for the couple’s permanent residence. This more private and secure refuge was nearing completion; named Inalco, it was fifty-six miles from San Ramón, on the Chilean border near Villa Angostura.
In March 1946, the San Ramón estate employees were called to a meeting and told that their guests had been tragically killed in a car crash close to the property. They were warned never to discuss the matter again. The trail in Patagonia was to go cold; not only were Hitler and Braun "dead" in the Berlin Bunker, but now they were “dead” again in Argentina. If anyone managed to follow the Hitlers to Argentina, all they would find were more stories of corpses burned beyond recognition, this time in an automobile accident.
The Stauffenberg bomb plot of 20 July 1944, had injured Hitler more extensively than the Nazi propaganda machine had made public. The deep cold of the Patagonian winter now contributed to his "rheumatism" and he suffered from inflamed joints and stiffness in his right hand, but more distressing was the fact that the surgeons had been unable to remove all the oak splinters that had sprayed from the table that saved his life. The constant pressure from an oak fragment lodged deep in the nasal bones between his eyes caused him acute neuralgic pain during the stay at Estancia San Ramón. Hitler needed surgery. Since it was judged too much of a security risk for him to attend a hospital in Buenos Aires, he and Eva traveled north to the province of Córdoba and the Nazi hospital and health spa at the Gran Hotel Viena, at Miramar on the Mar Chiquita lake.
The Gran Hotel Viena was built by an Abwehr agent, an early Nazi Party member named Max Pahlke, between 1943 and 1945—the same period as the construction of Villa Winter on Fuerteventura and the extension of the airfield.
The building contained eighty-four rooms, a medical facility staffed by doctors, nurses, and massage therapists, a large swimming pool, a library, and a dining room that seated two hundred. Every room had air conditioning and heating, granite floors, walls lined with imported Carrara marble, and bronze chandeliers. The facilities included a bank, a wine cellar, a food warehouse, a bakery, a slaughterhouse, an electricity generating plant, and garages with their own fuel supply. Of the seventy hotel employees, only twelve were locals from Miramar, all of whom worked outside the facility and had no contact with hotel guests. The remaining fifty-eight employees were either from Buenos Aires or from Germany, and all spoke German. In addition to a modern telephone system that connected guests with the rest of the world, the Gran Hotel Viena also had a tall telecommunications antenna on the seventy-foot-high water tower. This vantage point, and a further tower just down the coast, enabled watchful guards to spot any approach to the hotel by land, water, or air. The tiny market town of Miramar was a strange location for a huge, state-of-the-art hotel and spa complex, miles away from any major roads or other commercial routes.
The Hitlers enjoyed their stay at the exclusive, luxurious waterside hotel. One of his bodyguards recalled that the couple would regularly walk along the shore, Hitler commenting on the wonderful sunsets. The operation to remove the splinters at first seemed to be successful, but the pain in Hitler’s face would return to plague him in later life.
In February 1946, Juan Domingo Péron was finally voted into untrammeled power as president of Argentina, which must have eased any latent fears of pursuit on the part of some of the fugitive Nazis. During the late 1940s, Hitler himself would move fairly freely between strategic points in Argentina, around a triangle based on San Carlos de Bariloche; the home of his friends and early financial backers, the Eichhorns, at La Falda; and Mar Chiquita. He owned huge tracts of land in all three areas. , controlling the network in Argentina from afar. He was in regular contact with Ludwig Freude through the portable T43 encryption system. He also made good use of his wide-ranging contacts, most importantly inside the Vatican, to advance his own plans for exile.
The Hitlers moved into Inalco, their new mansion from June 1947 until October 1955.
A coup on 16 September 1955, caused Perón to escape to Puerto Madero. Waiting there for Perón was a gunboat sent by Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, and the once-and-future president fled the country.
Hitler to move to a smaller house where he could live in complete obscurity, a property called La Clara, even deeper within the Patagonian countryside.
On 12 February 1962, at midday, the seventy-two-year-old Hitler collapsed, and three hours later he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. After spending a restless night, the dictator slipped into a coma, and died on 13 February 1962, at 3:00 p.m.
According to a "Dr Victor Vega Diaz" of the "Clinico San Carlos" near Madrid, Spain, Adolf Hitler died of a heart attack on 1 November 1947.
Greg Hallett in "Hitler was a British Agent" states that Hitler died of stomach cancer on 19 February 1950 in Barcelona, Spain.
There have been many years of testimonies of people who assure that they had seen Hitler and Eva Braun in San Carlos de Bariloche, then a small isolated town in the heart of the Patagonian steppe. One of the most striking tells how Hitler died in 1957 and is buried under the false name of Patagonian Paulo Kak in the cemetery El Calafate.
Peter Levenda in "Ratline Soviet Spies Nazi Priests and the Disappearance of Adolf Hitler" writes that Hitler died in Surabaya, Indonesia on January 15 1970.
Abel Basti in "Hitler in Exile" accepts Hitler's death on 3 February 1971 in Paraquay.
Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias, who wrote "Hitler in Brazil – His Life and His Death" claims Hitler died incognito in 1984 in a small town near Brazil's border with Bolivia.