A Pig Digging For A Potato
"I studied Bormann's technique with Hitler and realized he controlled the Fuehrer!"
Chief of Nazi foreign intelligence
Bormann was "the secret master of a despot."
Hitler courtesan Hans Frank.
"Everything had to be done through this sinister guttersnipe (Bormann)."
Hitler's General Chief of Staff
"Bormann stayed with Hitler night and day and gradually brought him
under his will so that he ruled Hitler's whole existence."
Hitler's heir-apparent until war's-end
Beneath the city of Berlin, under the Reischstag building, burrowed in a hole like a frightened rabbit seeking desperately to avoid being torn apart by hungry, angry wolves, quivered the once invincible Adolf Hitler. By the last days of April 1945, the Russians had pressed their advance to the outskirts of Berlin, almost completely surrounding it, and, with the winking approval of the Americans and English, had begun pummeling the symbolic center of Nazism under a steady, 24-hour-a-day, barrage of artillery fire. The war-wearied, ghost-faced resident survivors huddled forlorn and resigned in the subway tunnels as the constant thunder of shells rattled whatever structure was left overhead that separated the destitute and despairing from destruction.
The warren-like underground bunker that constituted the Fuehrer Headquarters seemed little more than a living tomb. To make matters worse, in the claustrophobic confines of the caverns Hitler's moods swung desperately between raging paranoiac psychopath and drugged derelict.
Numb from the imposing reality of abysmal failure, exhausted by unremitting pressure, partially paralyzed from a minor stroke suffered while in the bunker, though still officially in command, the Fuehrer was far from the commanding figure he once had been. Holed up almost continuously in his private quarters inside the bunker, the inner sanctum of the warren - actually a cell within this self-induced prison - he alternately snarled at and viciously attacked what remained of his loyal commanders and staff, and drifted in and out of exhausted and drug-induced stupors.
The former great ones - ministers, generals and admirals, territorial governors - shuttled in and out, putting on the faces of devout supporters sacrificing their all to sustain their leader. Actually, behind his back they were planning to flee the terminal tomb at the first opportunity and slide silently from the heinous history they had helped write into some foreign backwater where they would be forgotten.
Those who remained were the ill-fated, lower-level staffers who shuffled quietly up and down the dimly lit concrete corridors in support of their beleaguered Fuehrer and a few of his closest high-ranking courtesans. Most of them were there under orders, but they were loyal to the last. The atmosphere, emotionally as well as physically, was hardly breathable. News was never good. In the final stand for Nazism, the old men, young boys and walking wounded who defended the city were experiencing few successes but massive desertions. The city was being given up inch by inch at great cost - half a million people would eventually die in the battle.
Reports of Russian atrocities, rape and torture of the captured were legion. The inevitable - the unspeakable - was morosely moving toward these doomed dependents of Hitler and there was little one could do to halt the inescapable. Everyone despaired.
Everyone except Martin Bormann. This Machiavellian minister to the Fuehrer - hardly known outside the close cortege of Hitler's inner circle - with characteristic energy, focus and determination, in contrast to and quite unconcerned about those around him, was constantly sending and receiving radio transmissions from the bunker communications center. In addition to, or as part of, working out his escape, he is known to have been undermining or negotiating with others of Hitler's henchmen for control of the Reich - apparently confident there would be a Reich to control despite the bleak outlook for Germany.
Most students of these events have considered Bormann's machinations as madness, given the Reich was in its death throws. But upon closer scrutiny of his actions and review of the evidence, it appears Martin Bormann was working a master plan, with Hitler's consent - and within which U-234 played an important part.
Understanding the low-profile Martin Bormann and his unequaled power in Hitler's court is a vital key to understanding Hitler and his power over the masses, not to mention the Nazi Party and the Third Reich. Bormann's post-war activities - for the evidence is very strong that he did survive the war, with American help - and the impact they had on the Nuclear Age must also be considered against the history of his prior behavior, as well, to provide context to our chronicle.
British historian Trevor Roper-Smith calls Martin Bormann, "Hitler's Mephistopheles," his "alter ego," his "evil genius." Bormann was known in Hitler's inner circle as "The Brown Eminence" behind the Fuehrer's throne," [ccclii (author's note: he is as often called "The Gray Eminence"). The very fact that this one-time farm supervisor should, with Hitler's approval, climb to manage the barbarous Nazis' affairs of state speaks volumes of the exceptional political and financial acumen and skullduggery this sinister Shylock possessed. Hitler eventually came to rely on and appreciate his most trusted lieutenant's talents so much that Bormann - despite almost no military experience - was not only made an honorary major general of the SS but he was awarded SS number 555 - Hitler's own original SS number. [cccliii
Bormann in return fawned on his Fuehrer embarrassingly yet unapologetically; writing Hitler's nearly every word on small white cards he carried at all times. He seldom took vacations or trips of any kind that would separate him from the Fuehrer for more than just a few days, for fear of losing court status.
"Bormann stayed with Hitler night and day," Herman Goering later recounted, [cccliv "and gradually brought him under his will so that he ruled Hitler's whole existence."
Even though serving as his master's slavish lap dog - in fact, because of it - Bormann came to wield complete authority over the Reich. He accomplished this accumulation of power in a variety of ways, virtually all of them stemming from his position with Hitler. He had access to and kept copious files of evidence and materials aimed at exposing for some misdeed or another, if needed, almost every person of authority in the government, military or the party - including Hitler himself. He also discreetly distributed low-interest or no-interest loans from party coffers, [ccclv some that did not require repayment, to those whom he felt it would be advantageous to have indebted to him, such as SS leader Heinrich Himmler, who accepted from Bormann millions of reichsmarks per year. [ccclvi
The powerful group of 41 Gauleiters, the 'governors' - actually virtual dictators - of the Reich's various 'states' or 'provinces,' reported directly to Bormann as head of the Nazi Party. He cultivated and maintained a strong relationship with this group collectively and many of its most powerful members individually, throughout his tenure until the end of the war.
Bormann's position as Reichsleiter of the Nazi Party also made him, in theory at least, the second most powerful man in the Reich. At party rallies as early as 1934, Hitler had declared that the party gave orders to the government, not the other way round. [ccclvii Later interrogations that were part of the Nuremberg Trials verified this relationship. [ccclviii The party, therefore, controlled the government, and Bormann controlled the party.
The Reichsleiter underpinned his power-base by duplicating within the party almost every function required and operated by the viable government. In essence, Bormann created and held the strings to a very powerful "shadow bureaucracy," [ccclix complete with its own police force - the Gestapo - and its own armies - the Wehrmacht SS - both under the direction of one of Bormann's chief accomplices, Heinrich Himmler - and the 1 million-man-strong Volksturm. [ccclx
Bormann was ruthless in his quest for power, to the point that his one-time boss, Nazi Party Treasurer Schwartz, compared him to Joseph Stalin lurking behind Lenin, saying, "Bormann was the most pernicious egotist around.... He would kill, like Stalin." [ccclxi Author William Stevenson echoed that sentiment in his book, The Bormann Brotherhood, also comparing Bormann to Stalin, [ccclxii as have many authors and historians since. [ccclxiii
In truth, Hitler and Bormann were complementary pieces to the same perverted puzzle. Their personalities and psyches fully understood and intermeshed with one another across the complete spectrum of power-over-the-masses leadership they practiced - and recognized in each other the exceptional counterbalances of their strengths and weaknesses. Where Hitler's political acumen and charisma failed, Bormann would use his web of intrigue and bureaucratic power to achieve the desired end, explains Bormann biographer Joachen von Lang. [ccclxiv Whether Bormann on his climb to the top astutely identified Hitler's deficiencies and determined consciously to fill them himself, or whether the marriage was simply a fortuitous match of fate personality-wise, will probably never be known.
Eventually this symbiotic compact - whether spoken or unspoken nobody knows, either - gave Bormann the confidence he needed to take the bold step of cordoning off the Fuehrer from all others, to be accessed only through him who would become "the dictator of the ante-room" [ccclxv - Bormann himself. In 1943, Bormann successfully convinced Hitler - based on their co-dependent relationship and the fact that Hitler, who had appointed himself Supreme Commander of the Army and was spending all of his time and energy personally running the German war effort - to sign a decree appointing a Committee of Three, [ccclxvi composed of Bormann and two others, to oversee the everyday operations of the Reich and to screen the Fuehrer from unwanted distractions.
All communications, reports and requests intended for Hitler had to pass through the Committee of Three first. In typical Bormann fashion, he then subjugated the other two committee members and controlled all information coming to and going from the Fuehrer. [ccclxvii Combined with his position as head of the Nazi Party, which was already operating in proxy for the federal government, which in turn was now nothing more than a shell, Martin Bormann had solidified his hold as the second most - some said the most - powerful man in Germany.
"I studied Bormann's technique with Hitler and realized he controlled the Fuehrer!" recorded the chief of the Nazi foreign intelligence service Walter Schellenberg. [ccclxviii Bormann was "the secret master of a despot," according to Hitler courtesan Hans Frank. [ccclxix "Everything had to be done through this sinister guttersnipe (Bormann)," complained Hitler's own General Chief of Staff Heinz Guderian. [ccclxx
Following years of careful conniving and sinister strategies, Bormann had realized his dream - he was, many who were there at the time and some later historians agree, in substance if not in title, the leader of the Third Reich. [ccclxxi
While Martin Bormann's name, position and the profound power he wielded in Nazi Germany are almost unknown to the average person - and such was the case even when Bormann was enjoying unequaled fraternity with Hitler as his Nazi Party chief, administrative right-hand man and personal paladin - those close to the Fuehrer at the time, to a man, understood that the key to Hitler during the mid- to late-war years, and possibly earlier, was clenched firmly in Bormann's fist.
To understand how Martin Bormann possessed the power at the end of the war to negotiate away Nazi Germany's developing nuclear arsenal in order to sustain himself and the Nazi cause after the war, one must understand the symbiotic relationship between him and Hitler. The defining elements of their lives, sometimes detailed in mirror-like reflections and then sometimes balanced by what seem like polar opposites, while at other times punctuated with bizarre and unequaled uniqueness, are as striking as the surprisingly complementary nature of their beings. That two men could be so well fitted for forwarding the rare ambitions of one another hardly seems probable. Yet the peculiarities they shared and the differences that filled the holes where each was lacking resulted in two remarkably compatible counterparts - although not psychologically healthy ones.
Adolf Hitler was born the son of a low-ranking Austrian bureaucrat, a customs official who was a drunken sadist, already 52 years old when Adolf was born, and who beat his son and wife, squandered the family money on alcohol, and taught through his actions that "right" is always in the hands of the most powerful. Adolf Hitler learned this lesson - and how to hate - from his father, for whom he grew great loathing and animosity.
Martin Bormann was the son of a civil servant, too, a German postal worker. [ccclxxii But while Hitler hated his father and had only one sister, younger than he, Bormann adored his father and paid homage to him, often to the point of heaping upon his memory blatant and unearned exaggeration of his achievements. Holding his father in such reverence was undoubtedly the result of Martin not really having known his father, who died when Martin was less than three years old. [ccclxxiii
The elder Bormann had actually lived a simple, ordinary life, had been married once previous to his marriage to Martin's mother and had sired three children (one died in infancy) from that early union. Upon his death his widow, to support her two natural children and the two step-children she had inherited from her husband's previous marriage, quickly remarried her own dead sister's widowed husband. Bormann's new step-father brought five children of his own, Martin's cousins, into the now hodgepodge family. Martin immediately disliked this intruder, and his gaggle, whom he considered was trying to take his father's place.
The feeling was later exacerbated when, during the hardships caused to all Germans during World War One, rather than serving in the armed forces, his step-father the town banker gloated over the money he was making from war lending. Martin's enmity for the man and his unseemly behavior, however, did not keep Bormann during the next world war from indiscriminately emulating similar war profiteering conduct, but on a much grander scale. The two men remained distant throughout their lives.
The lack of a respected father figure, the eclectic and tangled family tree and the distorted relationships these conditions fostered must have been the source of much unusual and perverse psychological programming for the young Martin Bormann. Thus in the petrie dish of dysfunctional families and flawed fatherhood were the psychotic psyches of Adolf Hitler and Martin Bormann born.
Both Hitler and Bormann, in a society that valued highly the Germanic ideals of education and intellectual achievement, dropped out of high school, neither one achieving consistently good performances in their matriculations but both showing flashes of real genius in the disciplines they personally enjoyed. Hitler, molded by the heavy hand of his abusive father, extended the unmitigated malice resulting from this excessive behavior to all authority figures he faced, which caused him trouble in the classroom.
He was ejected from a catholic school for defying a no-smoking rule, overbearingly insisted on being the leader among his classmates despite any hint of trying to earn such a position or the respect that goes with it, and openly "sabotaged completely," in his own words, any school endeavor not to his liking. [ccclxxiv He later vilified or otherwise repudiated as stupid or crazy educators in general, making exception only for Dr. Leopold Poetsch, a fervent German nationalist, among all the teachers of his childhood.
German pre-World War One schools, most particularly in the Weimar region where Bormann grew up, were teaching a searing brand of nationalism, pan-Germanism and German cultural superiority, too. [ccclxxv Like every other youngster in Germany at the time, Martin Bormann was seeped in this doctrine whose spirit swept the German nation right up and into the first world wide conflict. Bormann absorbed the nationalistic fervor and carried it within him throughout his life, though in his case, as in Hitler's, it would grow in a monstrous, mutated form.
A patriotic appreciation, in whatever form and however important to his later life, was one of the few benefits Bormann would receive from his schooling. While later events proved he was anything but stupid, in the classroom, for whatever reason, he appears to have struggled. Using dates he later provided in government documents and applications, it appears Martin Bormann took eight years to complete seven grades, apparently also sabotaging his own education; and he exited high school ungraduated, as had Hitler before him, after the eleventh grade. [ccclxxvi
Driven by visions of grandeur and a staunch belief in his own genius, at the age of 18 years Hitler left his widowed, incurably ill mother in the town of his childhood and moved to Vienna to become an artist. He wandered the streets of the metropolitan city, painted, dreamed and starved. He was rejected for acceptance at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts when he failed the entrance examination, a rejection he never forgave, and for the next half-decade he wandered the streets, took small jobs, painted and sold his artwork in the streets when he could, and panhandled for food and shelter when he could not.
His "genius" unrecognized and expectations of riding his talent to easy wealth and fame thus unfulfilled, Hitler looked outside himself for the reasons for his failure. The blame, he decided, lay in a weak government, in this case a parliamentary democracy, that allowed Jews to control and therefore own its economy and thus disenfranchise the rightful heirs of the fruits of that government, those of Germanic blood. Because so many Jews at the time supported Marxist ideals, he deduced that the two parties were colluding on a grand scale to control the world. Communism joined Jewry and democracy as a cause for his failings and, in his mind, the failings of the Germanic race. Where his father taught him to hate, and disemboweled dreams magnified this malevolence, Hitler now had a focus upon which to aim his virulence.
Wallowing in his misery, penniless, often homeless and usually sick, his life was in an unpromising, spiraling descent when "The War To End All Wars," World War One, erupted to send much of the civilized world into the depths of hell - and to save Adolf Hitler.
On the crucible of the battlefield he found the vehicle to vent his rage - war. Serving in no less than 47 battles in a four-year span, Hitler was wounded twice, for which he spent several months in recuperation and earned the Iron Cross, both First and Second Classes. [ccclxxvii Although never rising above the rank of corporal during the four war years in which he served, he showed an inkling of the boldness for which he would later become known when he captured an enemy officer and 15 of his men.
During the war, a new vision began to form in Hitler's fevered
head. The images that once he placed on canvas were now being replaced
with a skewed vision of how the world should be ordered. Soon his brushes,
pencils and painter's palette would be replaced by a more formidable media
- death and destruction: grenades and guns and tanks, with which he would
paint a new and very real picture of what he thought the world should be.
"Might is right!"
If there is an opposite of living the daring, Bohemian, but inspired existence of the artist, as had Adolf Hitler, it is living the structured, precise, but ample life of a bureaucrat. So it was with Martin Bormann.
Leaving school during the closing months of the war, Bormann joined the army and spent what few months remained of the already-lost conflict avoiding a useless death from bullet or grenade by serving as an officer's orderly. Here he learned not only how to evade placing himself in harm's way but, enamored with his proximity to important people - in fact, tutored by them - he began his lifelong avocation, which migrated into a vocation, of licking the boots of those higher than he in order to get ahead. The instinct was one that Hitler, who as a school boy had insisted all others follow him in the game of Follow the Leader, would later enthusiastically acknowledge was the most essential characteristic of his most valued and trusted lieutenant, Martin Bormann.
One should not consider Bormann's position that of weakness. The power that flowed through him from his master and protected him by virtue of his slavish alignment with his master's wishes was unequivocal and untouchable by all others save the source of that power. As long as Bormann remained unquestionably attentive, the powerful host would continue to feed the parasite. And the parasite would continue to feed on the throng that was drawn to his master while at the same time forcing that throng to do their master's bidding. Bormann's parasitic behavior was toward the throng, not his master; the relationship with the master was symbiotic, each benefiting from the behavior of the other.
Bormann's innate and infallible instincts for survival served him well after World War One. With the country in ruins, the economy in chaos and the populace impoverished and starving, Martin Bormann, revealing a latent predilection for always incisively cutting to the kernel of an issue, quickly divined that if lack of food is the problem he faced, going to the source of food is the solution.
His instincts drove him not only to get work on a farm but also to achieve a position of control on the farm. Immediately upon being mustered out of the army he found work as an estate manager trainee in Meklemburg, North Germany. [ccclxxviii He appears to have done well, for he recorded that less than two years later he had worked his way up to general manager of the von Treuenfels estates, which, combined, totaled almost 8,000 acres.
Some historians question Bormann's assertion he became general manager in two years based on the idea that he could not have learned the entire farm business in 18 months, and the fact he was still a minor. But such a rise does not stretch the imagination given Bormann's later proven and remarkable skills of administration - and the tell-tale lapdog relationship he quickly cultivated with the lady of the estate, Ehrengard von Treuenfels, the Baroness von Maltzahn.
Indeed, the friendship was maintained at least until his escape from bombed-out Berlin a quarter-century later and his disappearance into the back alleys of history; and Martin even named a daughter Ehrengard after the Baroness. In any case, Bormann honed and further integrated the skills of administration and vassalage into a potent power base while serving the Treuenfels at Mecklemburg.
The experience of the victors of the war placing the reckoning of accounts at the vanquished's door caught crosswise in both Hitler's and Bormann's throats. Consumed by hate and inspired by the power of carnage, Hitler took bitter umbrage to the mountainous war reparations the Allies demanded of the German people despite the country's then non-existent economy and starving population. In the act of demanding such onerous reparations alone did the Allies incite World War Two.
For had the reparations been less burdensome it is doubtful Hitler would have had the fuel he needed to ignite with his private rancor the fires of vengeance in the German people that would propel the Nazi cause. Bormann shared Hitler's convictions, although he probably had not actually heard of Hitler by then; but for this cause both Hitler and Bormann, during their early political activism, spent time in prison. Hitler for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 that would serve as a catalyst to bring the Nazi party to power (he wrote Mein Kampf while in prison serving time for the crime); and Bormann for his part in the murder of a man who had betrayed the nationalist cause.
During his time as a land agent, Martin Bormann became involved in political activism. In 1923, the year of the Beer Hall Putsch, Bormann joined the Nazi's predecessor and early competitor, the Freikorps Rossbach, where he quickly rose to become one of the leaders of the Mecklemburg chapter's organization. While functioning in this position, Bormann was an accomplice in the murder of another member of the organization, Walther Kadow, a former elementary school teacher of his. [ccclxxix
Kadow had been suspected of betraying a third party member, the soon-to-be Nazi martyr Albert Leo Schlageter, to the French during the occupation of the Ruhr. Bormann and others recruited a gang to execute Kadow - a mob that included Rudolf Franz Hoess, the future commandant of Auschwitz. Kadow was dragged into a forest and beaten with clubs and heavy branches before having his throat cut and being shot twice. [ccclxxx
There is no evidence that Bormann had a hand in the actual killing; the mob of members under his direction performed the deed, but Bormann was tried and condemned to a year in prison for providing the weapons and leadership for the act. Years later, Adolf Hitler would award Bormann the Blutorden (Blood Order) for his part in the murder and the time he paid in prison because of it. [ccclxxxi
Hitler, too, was implicated for murder when he was a young man, long before he made cold-blooded killing a component of official government policy. Hitler's suspected homicidal action, unlike Bormann's calculated, pragmatic act, was the result of jealous and unthinking rage. According to one version, he appears to have viciously murdered his niece, with whom he was having an incestuous, turbid relationship, following a violent, jealousy-driven argument. The niece, Angela "Geli" Raubal, was trying to break off their relationship. [ccclxxxii
"He's a monster. Nobody can imagine the things he wants me to do," she once confided.
She disclosed that he had forced her to urinate on him and to perform other heinous obscenities. He also reportedly completed a number of artistic renderings of Geli executed with questionable taste and of detestable subject matter. Bormann is said to have later located all of these pictures and quietly bought them back to avoid future controversy.
As Geli tried to extricate herself from the affair ( she not only detested her relationship with Hitler but she was interested in another man ) Hitler is thought to have confronted her in his apartment in Munich during one of their forced liaisons. Possibly she threatened to reveal his perverted predilections but it is not known for certain what led up to the killing or how it was committed. According to William Stevenson in The Bormann Brotherhood, there were witnesses to the crime - Gerhard Rossbach and Dr. Otto Strasser - but they were close Hitler cronies who refused to reveal what they knew. All that is known is that Geli's dead body was found naked on the floor, her nose broken, killed by a bullet from Adolf Hitler's pistol. [ccclxxxiii
For Hitler, the murder was a disaster about to be unleashed that would not only ruin his career but probably his life as well. While he had consolidated his position as leader of the Nazi Party, he was not yet a citizen of Germany much less its uncontested leader. Three more years would pass before he could protect his murderous madness with that shield. By now, September 1931, Bormann had been released from prison, joined the Nazi Party, and in six short years had burrowed his way into the party leadership and was looking for opportunities to demonstrate devotion to his demigod, Adolf Hitler. In the murder of Geli Raubal he recognized an opportunity to prove to his murderous master his allegiance and his shrewd, if immoral, penchants.
Stevenson goes on to describe how Munich's intelligent, hard-working chief inspector, Heinrich Mueller, who up to that point had been working hard to eliminate the Nazi Party, had begun investigating the apparently open-and-shut case. Bormann stepped in. When he stepped back again the chief inspector dropped the case, Hitler walked free, and Mueller was soon on a train to Moscow to learn the black art and septic science of running a secret police department, all at Nazi Party expense.
The net result of Bormann's arbitration? Adolf Hitler escaped that most desperate personal and political predicament to eventually become arguably the most powerful man in the world. Heinrich Mueller was installed on a career track that would propel him to the pinnacle of the German police state - the police state of all police states - as chief of the vaunted and feared Gestapo. In fact, Mueller would eventually carry to his grave the nickname "Gestapo" Mueller.
And Martin Bormann would grasp Hitler's attention and allegiance in a way that would create a mechanism for perpetual expansion of Bormann's power base through the Master's increasing trust and appreciation. Add to this the power that would flow to Bormann from Bormann's co-opting of Heinrich Mueller and the massive intelligence and control mechanism that would soon be supplied to him through the Gestapo, and Bormann's position had, indeed, increased by several orders of magnitude as a result of this single affair.
According to some Hitler biographers, the story of Hitler's murder of Geli Raubal is anecdotal and has been proven to be false. Their account says Hitler was booked in a hotel far from Munich on the day Geli was killed. This in fact may be true, but if Stevenson's version that Bormann and Mueller "fixed" the outcome is true, this evidence may be part of the cover-up rather than the true account of events. Perhaps what actually occurred will never be known.
During the six years between Bormann's release from prison in 1925, when he joined the Nazi Party, and his alleged bold intercession on Hitler's behalf in Geli Raubal's murder, Martin Bormann had already climbed a considerable distance within the Nazi party hierarchy. Presumably his stature was elevated upon his very entrance into the party as a result of his already-proven commitment to the ideals and operational methods of the Nazi Party as confirmed by time spent in prison for the Kadow murder. Within two years he was the regional press officer for the Nazi Party in Thuringia and the following year was elevated to chief business manager in the same regional party chapter, as well as being made Gauleiter (Nazi Party governor) of Thuringia. [ccclxxxiv He was also promoted to the supreme command of the party's military arm, the S.A. (Sturmabteilung).
By the end of that same year, 1928, Bormann was working for Hitler's personal secretary and right-hand man, Rudolf Hess. [ccclxxxv Bormann had been referred to Hess by Nazi Party Treasurer Franz Xavier Schwarz, [ccclxxxvi who recognized in Bormann a shrewd and astute financial manager and efficient commissar who could bring the party's business dealings into control, which Hess had been unable to accomplish.
Because of Bormann's penchant for working quietly in the background, throughout his career his versatile nature went largely unnoticed despite his latent genius for finance - magnified and unbridled by a complete lack of moral or ethical circumspection. His versatility revitalized the party. It made Hitler a rich man. And it made Bormann a rich man.
The following year, Bormann married the daughter of another ardent party member who would soon become the top judge in Nazi Germany, Reichstag Deputy Walther Buch, who enjoyed Hitler's respect (Hitler was a witness to the Bormann wedding, being friend of both bride and groom).
With his new wife Gerda, Bormann began a family that would eventually include ten children and would, if possible, in some respects be even more perverse than the family in which he grew up. He openly and with Gerda's blessing, and, in fact, with her encouragement, carried on multiple sexual relationships simultaneously with a bevy of other women, despite universal agreement that Bormann, in the "looks" department, had little to offer women. Physical attraction not withstanding, his oily charm and powerful position made him an attractive coup to many ladies.
Between these liaisons and his official duties he was seldom home, and when he was he ruled his wife and family with an iron fist. Yet he wrote Gerda lovingly almost every day, ensured she was always well taken care of, and, despite his otherwise secretive nature, he entrusted her in writing with his innermost thoughts and feelings on almost every subject. The Bormann's relationship is an enigmatic paradox that makes a fascinating study in and of itself of the man and the Machiavellian manner in which he operated.
Hitler continued with his convoluted relationships, too. Bormann, as Hess' deputy responsible for Hitler's safety including command of his bodyguard, [ccclxxxvii and for the management of his personal business affairs, found yet another opportunity to wrap his sticky tentacles around his misguided messiah. Shortly after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he was threatened with the knowledge being spread that he had been performing and having performed upon him perverted sex acts. [ccclxxxviii Henny Hoffman, the daughter of photographer Heinrich Hoffman, had told her father about her twisted trysts with the Fuehrer.
The elder Hoffman, understandably, was at first enraged. Threatening to prosecute or otherwise make public the accusations, Hoffman demanded that justice be done. At this point in Hitler's career his carefully-crafted image of a humble and morally incorruptible leader of the downtrodden masses - upon which his power was founded - would not stand the scrutiny of such a disclosure. Furthermore, at this time, neither Hitler nor the Party were sufficiently entrenched to employ traditional Nazi strong-arm tactics to resolve what was a personal problem. Those tactics were reserved and 'acceptable' only for resolving political issues, such as communism or "the Jewish problem."
Bormann again stepped into the breach. He suggested that Hoffman be made the Fuehrer's personal photographer, a position that promised fame, further exposure for his photography business, and a resulting increase of income from royalties received from every copy of the photographs he took of his famous potential client. Upon hearing the proposal, Hoffman's righteous indignation over his daughter's barbarous abuse melted away into pragmatic profiteering, and the deal was consummated.
What really made Hitler take notice, however, was that Bormann had at the same time negotiated with Wilhelm Ohnesorge, the Minister of Posts, a royalty to be paid to Hitler as well as to Hoffman, whenever the Fuehrer's likeness was used - as it was on stamps. [ccclxxxix Bormann again had turned Hitler's career-threatening, possibly life-threatening, problem into a public relations and financial coup, while at the same time once again proving his unquestioned allegiance. While the income per transaction was small (the cost of a stamp, after all, is minimal), the volume of transactions was huge.
The resulting income from this clever contrivance alone made Hitler a wealthy man. More important, Bormann's negotiations with Posts Minister Richard Ohnesorge appears to have opened a long relationship between the two men that culminated in an alliance that contributed to the political fortunes of both; and that was central to Bormann's later escape from Berlin and his post-war survival.
Hitler, who enjoyed his new-found wealth but disliked the details of accumulating it, and who in fact, for political purposes carefully promoted an image of austerity, quickly recognized and appreciated Bormann's astute perceptions; taciturn, confidential nature; and "fiscal" talents. Bormann would go on to devise and execute a great many other schemes through the years, legal and otherwise, that lined the Fuehrer's pockets - as well as his own.
Shortly after the Henny Hoffman affair, Hitler appointed Bormann to be Hess's chief of staff. The appointment came, no doubt, not only as a reward for Bormann's assistance with the Henny Hoffmann and Geli Raubal incidents and other past accomplishments, such as the Kadow murder, but because Bormann was also piling up a body of work that aided Hitler in a wide variety of other functions. In 1930, for example, recognizing party coffers were in dire straits, Bormann created the Hilfskasse, a compulsory "accident insurance" fund for party members who were injured while brawling with communists. [cccxc All party members had to pay into the fund. This capital not only supported the wounded but also generated a substantial surplus that allowed the party to fulfill significant financial obligations and still provide funding for future operations.
Shortly after Hitler took office, Bormann also founded the Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry. [cccxci The endowment "strong-armed" companies that enjoyed success as a result of Hitler's economic policies into making contributions to his government. The funds were then hoarded in Hitler accounts managed by Bormann or dispersed according to Hitler's and Bormann's directions.
By the end of 1934, Hitler had been in power a year, Bormann was serving as his personal secretary and business manager, and considerable advances had been made in Bormann's efforts to weld himself to the man he could now, with the rest of the nation, call his Fuehrer. Bormann had become inseparable from the Fuehrer, following him night and day and writing nearly his every word on little white sheets of paper, to be acted upon immediately or to be treasured up for a future history that he was certain would one day be chronicled in a tome that would glorify his Master. [cccxcii
In 1935, leaning on his old estate management experience, Martin Bormann initiated construction of and oversaw the management and building of the immense, now nearly mythical, multi-million reichsmark Bavarian complex at Berchtesgaden that Hitler would come to regard as his home and sanctuary from the demands and pressures of public office.
In May 1941, Bormann's position rose again when Rudolf Hess, Bormann's direct superior, in an act that stunned the world, secretly flew his personal Messerschmidt airplane to Scotland. His self-appointed purpose - which he hoped would bring him back into the good graces of Hitler, with whom he felt a rift was forming - ostensibly was to sue for peace and a united German/British front against Bolchevism. He was immediately rewarded with imprisonment in the United Kingdom. As a result, Bormann was given on a silver platter exactly what he was prepared to work - and conspire - hard for: the chancellorship of the Nazi Party.
Some have suggested that Bormann may have been responsible for inspiring Hess's deranged attempt [cccxciii - may have, in fact, suggested it to his superior with foreknowledge of the results - in order to remove Hess from blocking Bormann's path to greater power. Whether true or not, Bormann did ascend to the position of Nazi Party Chancellor by Hitler's command, which was added to his responsibilities of personal secretary and manager to the Fuehrer that he had already held before Hess's defection.
Hitler also discovered in 1941, through one of the greatest spy coups ever, that Roosevelt and Churchill had established a secret transatlantic telephone connection. [cccxciv Charles Howard Ellis, possibly one of the Nazis most valued undercover agents as second-in-command to the remarkable Sir William Stephenson (who ran the combined intelligence efforts of Britain and the United States, reporting directly to Winston Churchill) had received information about the hotline and passed it to Heinrich 'Gestapo' Mueller, his Nazi controller. "Gestapo" Mueller was the same Heinrich Mueller who was chief inspector for the city of Munich with whom Martin Bormann had allegedly negotiated a resolution of the Geli Raubal murder case. Mueller was now, perhaps as a result of those negotiations and the path Bormann had put him on, the head of Germany's feared secret police, the Gestapo.
On hearing of the Roosevelt/Churchill hotline, Hitler quickly passed an order to Bormann to break into it and have the "confidential" conversations decrypted, at whatever cost necessary. Bormann turned again to another of his former conspirators, Richard Ohnesorge, the postal minister.
The Minister of Posts maintained a research and development institute inside the ministry that worked on an eclectic assortment of scientific problems. The work was well-funded from the regular postal service. When, several months later Ohnesorge's program successfully decrypted its first transatlantic conversation, Hitler was delighted, and, from then until the end of the war, he gleefully read the transcriptions of these conversations only hours after the words had been breathed from the mouths of his two great enemies.
The research institute of the Ministry of Posts was not working on cryptology only. Great amounts of reichsmarks were being invested in nuclear bomb development, [cccxcv as well, of which Ohnesorge - who, as a doctor of physics and mathematics, was on the Reich Research Presidential Council, [cccxcvi the organization that oversaw nuclear development for Hitler - was a great proponent.
As noted previously, at least twice Ohnesorge personally reported before Hitler the progress and merits of the German atomic bomb programs. Undoubtedly Bormann, in his position as Hitler's secretary and personal manager, and later as his secret overseer as well as through his relationship with Ohnesorge, was privy to these meetings and information. True to his shrewd nature, Bormann must have divined its worth.
Hitler's admiration and dependence on Bormann grew to immense proportions - noticed, but with little concern until too late, by the court elite. None of them appeared to see in the crude, bulbous, smarmy Martin Bormann the cunning and dangerous threat he represented to them.
The men Bormann considered his competition for Hitler's attention and as the Fuehrer's possible eventual successor, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Speer, and at one time even Hess, were men, like Hitler, who championed the grand design of Nazism in overblown speeches, sweeping dramatic demonstrations of their power, and open adulation of their Fuehrer, for which they enjoyed in return the adulation of the crowds over which he lorded. They echoed Hitler but, with the possible exception of Speer, added little to him and therefore they added little to their own potential as well.
Bormann was an altogether different animal. Instead of assuming the voice of Hitler, which after all was Hitler's greatest strength and needed little assistance, Bormann was Hitler's hands and feet, his eyes and ears. He did the details and dirty work Hitler detested with an eye dedicated to the same purposes the Fuehrer espoused. Bormann did the Fuehrer's bidding, anticipating his wants and requirements without being told , and then fulfilling them with force and power without having to be directed; so much so that years later, when Bormann started to plant in Hitler's mind his own ideas and then act upon them, Hitler did not perceive the transition. As a result, Bormann to a large degree eventually became Hitler's heart and mind as well as his eyes, ears, hands and feet; controlling him and the empire he governed without the master ever suspecting control had slipped from his hands.
Bormann had positioned himself specifically for this task. Not only had he catered to Hitler slavishly to create an unbreakable bond of appreciation, trust, and dependence - it is important to note here that Bormann's allegiance to the Fuehrer was always genuine and total - but Bormann continually cultivated and expanded his resources to forever widen his web of control on behalf of himself and the Fuehrer.
According to biographer William Stephenson, Bormann's great talent was a genius for "what really mattered in a bureaucracy." [cccxcvii Stephenson goes on to explain how Bormann dredged police, military and political organizations to form alliances, either by force or by finesse, that he would later manipulate to fill his purposes. Add to this his great propensity for navigating in and, in fact, forming, molding and operating bureaucracies, and one sees a master who controlled all the strings that ran the party and the government. His mind "thrived upon this kind of nutrition," [cccxcviii Stephenson wrote. "Where the Fuehrer's genius and aura failed to work, (Bormann) would step in and exert power," [cccxcix wrote Joachen von Lang in his biography of Bormann, The Secretary.
Bormann used the bureaucracies around him to consolidate his position and control the forces - pro and con -against and within which he had to operate. These bureaucracies were his source of all control through the currencies they commanded, hard currencies such as the millions of reichsmarks cached in his, Hitler's and the party's various funds and business operations, and soft currencies, like the personal intelligence collected on various leaders inside and outside the party and the country.
The constitutional government of Germany controlled the country's legal administration; in the early years of Hitler's chancellorship the party, on paper, held little power. Bormann, as primarily a functionary of the party, therefore, could only administer in party matters, not government policy. To circumvent this inconvenience Bormann created and constantly grew a "shadow bureaucracy" [cd over the ensuing years that duplicated each crucial government function and then allowed him to control the strings he desired to pull: The state police was shadowed by the Gestapo, with Bormann's alleged protégé Mueller at its head.
The province chiefs and mayors were shadowed by Nazi Party Gauleiters (district governors), and their administrative regional structures, who vied for control of their jurisdictions. Bormann would usually side with the Gauleiters, or convince Hitler to do so, thus empowering them over their counterparts and expanding the influence of Bormann, leaving Gauleiters and other party officials in his debt [cdi - officials who would eventually virtually run the country when Hitler later placed the Nazi Party in control.
Bormann also placed large numbers of key officials under his bondage through bald-faced bribery, providing "discrete distributions of loans" from party coffers to whoever he deemed would be a valuable leader to own. [cdii "Almost all the top party functionaries received gifts from this fund," [cdiii wrote Speer, who added that such gift giving, though innocuous, had the very real effect of conferring more power upon Bormann than almost any other person in the land.
Himmler approached Bormann for one such loan of 80,000 reichsmarks so he could buy a house near Berchtesgaden for his mistress and their illegitimate child. [cdiv Bormann not only produced the loan but he encouraged Gerda to befriend Himmler's mistress. The women would share cozy conversation and children's clothing in the years ahead, until Bormann severed Himmler's relationship with the Fuehrer in the waning days of the war.
But the Bormanns' and Himmlers' "pseudo-friendship," [cdv and Bormann's ongoing contributions to Himmler's personal cache thereafter - totaling millions [cdvi - was a valuable protection for Bormann later when the real extent of his power became apparent among Hitler's coterie and envious courtesans tried to destroy him. "Again and again I have come to terms with Bormann although it is my duty really to get him out," [cdvii complained Himmler. Knowing Bormann had "the goods" on him, there was little Himmler could do to dethrone the Fuehrer's Iago. In fact, it is doubtful Himmler really wanted to topple Bormann, since much of his personal income would be lost if Bormann fell.
Bormann, using Mueller and his Gestapo, as well as other vehicles, had access to a comprehensive collection of files, reports and dossiers that provided a solid engine of power by blackmail [cdviii to drive Bormann's schemes. The files included virtually every ranking member of the Nazi Party, including possibly Hitler himself, if Hitler's murder of Geli Raubal and the Henny Hoffmann incident are true.
As Hitler pushed his foreign policy toward war with the rest of the world during the mid- to late-thirties, Bormann increasingly and on his own volition dominated domestic affairs. By the time the war actually broke out in 1939, the party was firmly in control of the government.
The official mantel of Nazi power now placed upon Bormann, combined with the very real puissance he practiced through bureaucracy, blackmail and bribery, placed Bormann at the pinnacle of power. Only Goering, Goebbels and Himmler could hope to unseat him; and Himmler, as has been described, was in a poor position to do so.
Bormann did not stop. He continued to increase and fortify his position throughout the next year. In the winter of 1942, the others distracted by the war and Hitler increasingly relying on Bormann to manage administrative affairs while he pontificated military strategy, Bormann slapped his fellow courtesans with a most revealing, direct and jolting blow that for the first time unveiled him openly as a contender for the throne. In an alliance with General Keitel, Hitler's military second-in-charge, and Hans Heinrich Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancery, in other words the government's chief legal minister, Bormann created the Committee of Three through which all business directed for Hitler must pass, effectively cordoning off Hitler from all others. [cdix Hitler, appreciative as always that distracting details were being lifted from his busy schedule, supported the arrangement.
Barely half a year later, in July 1943, Bormann again redefined his role as secretary to the Fuehrer, again with Hitler's consent, to proclaim himself the sole mediator between the government, the party and the Fuehrer, [cdx thus eliminating even Keitel and Lammers from the picture. Bormann was now the sole link between Hitler and his chiefs. Speer noted with disgust how important issues and programs could not reach Hitler without first going through Bormann's hands and first having his blessing before even being considered by the Fuehrer. [cdxi
With Hitler insulated from opposing views on critical affairs, Bormann could now set and execute agendas, needing Hitler only to rubberstamp his plans. Speer asserts that, as an important military minister, he was not among those excluded from Hitler's presence, but in reality even Hitler's most favored associates were dealt the indignities of having to crawl to Bormann for access to the Fuehrer. Often an audience was denied and Bormann responded alone. For example, it was Bormann, not Hitler, who answered in the negative Speer's request of Hitler that he be awarded jurisdiction over the important V-1 and V-2 rocket projects and other research and development programs based at Peenemunde. [cdxii
Simon Weissenthal wrote that many orders bearing Hitler's signature showed obvious evidence of being the product of Bormann's mind. And Goering stated flatly that many documents issued from Hitler bore the unmistakable stamp of Martin Bormann's heavy hand. [cdxiii
Bormann now controlled Hitler and guided from him the decisions that were running the country. According to biographer Paul Manning, "Martin Bormann was now the leader in fact of Germany." [cdxiv William Stephenson agrees that Bormann covertly governed the Third Reich, adding that historians have consistently misunderstood both "Bormann's role and his character." Bormann was not interested in the fame and glory the rest of Hitler's courtesans desired, according to Stephenson, he craved the real power. [cdxv Bormann was "the secret master of a despot," [cdxvi said Gauleiter Hans Frank. Joachen von Lang, another of Bormann's biographers, asserted, "Bormann now considered himself the actual heir of the Third Reich," [cdxvii if not the one so stated in Hitler's will. Bormann now was looking down from the top of the heap, and carefully watching his quibbling cohorts.
"Those who were Bormann's rivals and even enemies always underestimated his abilities," [cdxviii lamented one of those enemies, Walter Schellenberg. "They spoke about (Bormann), calling him a bootlicker and often a pig," described Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach, continuing, "If cartoonists had drawn his picture, his shape, bulk, short legs, mug - it actually would have turned out to be a pig." [cdxix Schellenberg, too, likened him to a wild pig digging for potatoes. [cdxx Most of Hitler's retinue simply called him "Hitler's evil spirit" [cdxxi, or "The Gray (or sometimes "Brown") Eminence" [cdxxii - behind his back, of course.
By now Bormann was a general in the SS commanding a 1 million man army; he controlled vast sums of money that he used freely for his own legal and illegal purposes; he had at his fingertips enough information to pull down any party or government leader in the Reich; and he held in his hands the strings that controlled Adolf Hitler. At the end of the war, nobody in Nazi Germany had more power than Martin Bormann.
ccclii Trevor Roper-Smith, The Letters of Martin Bormann, p. IX
cccliii Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 285
cccliv William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 39
ccclv William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 28
ccclvi U.S. National Archives II, War Crimes Records, Interrogation Summary #1739, of General Karl Wolff interrogation, Nuremberg, p. 2, 8 April, 1947, RG 238 - M1019 Roll 80; also Interrogation Summary #2797, of General Karl Wolff interrogation, Nuremberg, p. 2, 25 June, 1947, RG 238 - M1019 Roll 80
ccclvii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 28; Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. p. 109
ccclviii U.S. National Archives II, War Crimes Records, Interrogation Summary of General Karl Wolff interrogation, Nuremberg, 5 September, 1945, pp. 1, 2, RG 238 1270 Roll 22
ccclix Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, pp. 87, 107
ccclx Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 271
ccclxi Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 86
ccclxii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 285
ccclxiii Paul Manning, Martin Bormann: Nazi In Exile, pp. 38, 46
ccclxiv Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 297
ccclxv Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 176
ccclxvi Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, pp. 300, 301
ccclxvii Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 238
ccclxviii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 23
ccclxix Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 108
ccclxx William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 65
ccclxxi Paul Manning, Martin Bormann: Nazi In Exile, pp. 29, 46; Joachen von Lang, The Secretary, pp. 108, 109, 328; H.R. Trevor-Roper, The Letters of Martin Bormann, p. ix; William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 18
ccclxxii Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 36; Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 16
ccclxxiii Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, pp. 16-18
ccclxxiv Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 151
ccclxxv Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 19
ccclxxvi Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 20
ccclxxvii Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 152
ccclxxviii H.R. Trevor-Roper, The Letters of Martin Bormann, p. ix, x; Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p.22
ccclxxix H.R. Trevor-Roper, The Letters of Martin Bormann, p. x; Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 36
ccclxxx Alan Levy, The Weisenthal Files, pp. 212, 213
ccclxxxi Alan Levy, The Weisenthal Files, p. 319
ccclxxxii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 30
ccclxxxiii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 31
ccclxxxiv Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 36
ccclxxxv Alan Levy, The Weisenthal Files, p. 319; Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 36
ccclxxxvi Ladislas Farago, Aftermath, p.218, 219
ccclxxxvii Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 239
ccclxxxviii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 37
ccclxxxix Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, pp. 103, 104; Joachen
von Lang, The Secretary, p. 51
cccxc Dr. Louis L. Snyder, Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, p. 36; Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p.103
cccxci Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p.104
cccxcii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 39; Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, pp. 104, 114
cccxciii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, pp. 50-55
cccxciv Paul Manning, Martin Bormann: Nazi In Exile, pp. 76, 77; David Irving, The German Atomic Bomb, p. 150
cccxcv David Irving, The German Atomic Bomb, pp. 77, 78; Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p. 271
cccxcvi David Irving, The German Atomic Bomb, p. 256
cccxcvii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 49
cccxcviii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 45
cccxcix Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 297
cd Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 107
cdi Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 109
cdii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 28
cdiii Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p. 104
cdiv Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 273
cdv Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 256
cdvi U.S. National Archives II, War Crimes Records, Interrogation Summary #1739, of General Karl Wolff interrogation, Nuremberg, p. 2, 8 April, 1947, RG 238 - M1019 Roll 80; also Interrogation Summary #2797, of General Karl Wolff interrogation, Nuremberg, p. 2, 25 June, 1947, RG 238 - M1019 Roll 80
cdvii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 50
cdviii William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 45
cdix Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p. 301
cdx Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 238
cdxi Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich, p. 301
cdxii Paul Manning, Nazi In Exile, p. 64
cdxiii Simon Weissenthal, The Murderers Among Us, p. 319
cdxiv Paul Manning, Nazi In Exile, p. 29
cdxv William Stevenson, The Bormann Brotherhood, p. 18
cdxvi Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 108
cdxvii Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 38, 39
cdxviii Paul Manning, Nazi In Exile, p. 39
cdxix Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 253
cdxx Jochen von Lang, The Secretary, p. 285
cdxxi Paul Manning, Nazi In Exile, p. 39
cdxxii H.R. Trevor-Roper, The Letters of Martin Bormann, p. ix
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