Chapter Twelve

The Pig Finds A Potato

"Irrefutable proof exists that a small plane left the Tiergarten
at dawn on April 30, flying in the direction of Hamburg.
Three men and a woman are known to have been on board.
It has also been established that a large submarine left Hamburg
before the arrival of the British forces.  Mysterious persons
were on board the submarine...." [cdlxii
From a Soviet intelligence commission of inquiry report, as quoted by
James McGovern, CIA agent in charge of researching the post-war survival
of Martin Bormann

"Stalin told Harry Hopkins in Moscow that he believed Bormann escaped.
Now he went further and said it was Bormann who got away in the fleeing
U-boat.  More than that Stalin refused to disclose." [cdlxiii
William Stevenson author
The Bormann Brotherhood

"That damn Martin made it safely out of Germany." [cdlxiv
Walter Buch
Top Nazi judge and Martin Bormann's father-in-law, upon his deathbed

"Of course [Bormann escaped].  He is a natural survivor." [cdlxv
Colonel General Alfred Jodl
At the signing of the European capitulation
when asked if Martin Bormann made it safely out of Berlin

  For over fifty years a debate has raged about whether Martin Bormann escaped from Berlin in the spring of 1945 or whether he was killed in a fiery explosion on Wiedendammer Bridge in that city, or whether he mysteriously died a few hours later at the Lehrter Station Bridge a few miles away.  Over that half-century, so many accounts of his last days in Berlin have been generated, fabricated, amended, modified, denied, rebutted, investigated, expunged, reborn, reshaped and abridged that nothing is certain but a black mist of confusion and suspicion that hangs over the whole affair like a thick pall.  Indeed, the truth may never be known.

  Not just because the evidence supporting any outcome is inconclusive, but because there seems to be few participants who were or are objective on the matter, and therefore the testimony and evidence they provide must, of prudence, be viewed with varying degrees of skepticism. What is known, despite the bleak picture that is always painted, is that 90 percent of those who were in the bunker at the end survived. [cdlxvi

  Why not Martin Bormann? The only "eye witnesses" to Bormann's death did not actually verify either that they were certain they saw him die, or that they were sure they saw him in death. All eye witnesses were avowed Nazis and therefore may have had vested interests in the world thinking Bormann was dead, and therefore, the argument goes, may have provided misinformation in evidence of his death.  Additional "proofs" of Bormann's demise beyond the eye witness accounts did not surface until decades later.  The veracity of their provenance has been effectively argued pro and con since.

Those who argue for his death, most notably the German government and, in a more innocuous manner, certain United States agencies, almost invariably have important interests of their own to protect.  Many of those who say he survived seem to have their reasons for maintaining his ongoing existence, as well, sometimes based on only the flimsiest evidence to support their claims, but often with substantially more confirmation.

The evidence, in fact, is significant in support of both theories and, despite claims of certainty by both camps, a detailed study of all the evidence available tends to muddy the already shadowy history beyond ever finding certain resolution.  But by filtering the information through two criteria, one may possibly gain, if not a crystal clear understanding of the outcome of events, at least the most probable outcome of Bormann's last days in Berlin that can be believed with some confidence.

  One of these criteria is to look at disassociated stories surrounding these events and see what parallels might verify each other and create a strong enough pattern to validate a given scenario.  The other criteria is that of judiciously weighing the evidence against who presented and/or supports it, in an effort to identify and properly interpret political and other influences that may have motivated and defined the information presented.  By combining these two methods of analyzing the information, a relatively coherent and believable - in fact, this author believes, probable though disturbing - picture forms. The official version of Bormann's last days ends with his death at the Lehrter Station Bridge.  Or possibly he died not far away at Wiedendammer Bridge a few kilometers north of the Reichs Chancellery building, under which Adolf Hitler's bunker was hidden.  The "eye witness" accounts disagree.

According to reports later provided by occupants of the bunker, in the late hours of 1 May, 1945 the small gaggle of survivors still burrowed in the Fuehrer Bunker after Hitler's suicide separated into a few small groups and, at intervals, sneaked out of the ground and into the frightful night.  Artillery and tank shells were falling indiscriminately around them.  A few hundred meters away, the sounds of gunfire could be heard as firefights occurred in the darkness, splashing the acrid, smoky air with bursts of red and streaks of light.  Each group was responsible to find its own way to safety.

In one of these pathetic patrols reportedly stalked the potbellied, short-legged, bull-necked profile of Martin Bormann, commander of the Nazi party and Hitler's closest confidant. According to the provided scenario, the small group slowly picked its way through the bombshells, bodies and debris littering the streets to a local subway station, where, once again, it slipped under cover of earth.  Walking the rails in the dark subway tunnels, the silent group of stragglers made its way north, where it again surfaced to find a means to cross the Spree River. At Wiedendammer Bridge the group ran into heavy fighting between German tanks and Russian forces.

  One story asserts that Bormann tried to cross the bridge under cover of a German tank navigating the narrow span.  The tank was shelled by a bazooka and exploded in a violent burst of flame, killing Bormann [cdlxvii according to "eyewitness" Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffer and a member of the Fuehrer Bunker escape party.

  Kempka admitted during his Nuremburg testimony at Bormann's in absentia trial, that he did not approach the body to confirm Bormann had been killed but was certain from the extent of the violent blast and the manner in which Bormann's body was seen "flying away," [cdlxviii that the Reichsleiter was dead.  At least four others of Hitler's trusted insiders reported seeing virtually the same event, but again, none had inspected the body or could declare with certainty it was dead, though all were convinced of it.  [cdlxix

Not to worry, a sixth eyewitness later claimed to have observed the events at Weidendammer Bridge, also, and to be able to verify Bormann was killed by the tank blast.  Except this witness, the Spaniard Juan Roca-Pinar, who, as an avowed Nazi was fighting near the bridge as part of a small SS unit, later reported that Bormann was not at the side of the tank but riding inside the tank when it was hit by the bazooka shell. [cdlxx

 Roca-Pinar reported that he was ordered to board the tank and save Bormann, but when he opened the hatch to rescue survivors, he found Bormann dead from the blast.  He nonetheless pulled Bormann's corpse from the tank before being forced to abandon it in the street under pressure of enemy fire.

Harry Mengerhausen, a member of Hitler's bodyguard, agreed with Roca-Pinar - Bormann had been inside a tank.  But he declared firmly that Bormann was not killed in the blast because he was not in the tank hit, but in an entirely different tank. [cdlxxi

The conflicting stories, while containing significant discrepancies, at least agreed, with the exception of Mengerhausen, that Bormann died during a tank explosion on Weidendammer Bridge.  But other accounts soon spun these seemingly similar scenarios on their heads.  Artur Axmann, the one-armed leader of the Hitler Youth, claimed to have run into Bormann after the Weidendammer Bridge catastrophe and asserted that Bormann was alive, well and completely unharmed. [cdlxxii  In fact, the two men, in company of others, tried for some time to escape together before later separating to find their own passages to freedom.

  Axmann headed west, but, finding the way blocked, subsequently retraced his steps and claims to have again come across Bormann and Dr. Stumpfegger, one of Hitler's physicians, on a railroad trestle at the Lehrter Fairgrounds train station. Bormann and Stumpfegger were lying side by side on the bridge and appeared to be dead; Axman leaned close to Bormann's body to check for breathing and could discern none.  He later would not swear with certainty, however, that the Reichsleiter was dead. Indeed, their "deaths" were strange.

  Neither corpse had any indication of being wounded or injured or showed any signs of violence - quite out of line with the reports from Weidendammer bridge, even if Bormann had survived the tank blast - and further mystifying given their deaths having taken place during a heavy battle.

  They lay calmly next to each other in peaceful repose, their arms resting casually at their sides, as if they had lain, or somebody had lain them, there.  Axmann wondered if they had been poisoned or poisoned themselves, but could think of no reason why they should do so, except perhaps that they had lost hope of escape and preferred not to be captured. He left the bodies where he found them and eventually escaped to the Tyrol to command a small band of Hitler Youth determined to keep fighting after the war.  American forces captured him there.

And so the semi-official version of Bormann's demise is dubiously documented in a melee of misaligned explanations and seemingly unexplainable inconsistencies.  The picture would get further obscured.

A rash of post-war Bormann sightings across Europe began to be reported.

He was in Sweden, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, even as far away as Argentina.  Many sightings were explained away as misidentifications.  Others went unexplained.  Stalin was sure he was alive and accused the United States of hiding him. [cdlxxiii

The evidence for his death was so uncertain that a year after his reported demise, the Nuremburg court convened by the Allies to bring war criminals to justice, tried and convicted Bormann in absentia, thinking from the evidence that it was probable Bormann had survived the war. With so many sightings and so many unanswered questions, people - and government agencies - began the quest to answer the controversy over Bormann's fate.  Articles and books flooded the media arguing that Bormann died - and arguing that Bormann lived.

  Searches began for evidence that proved either case. The sightings continued, but almost no hard evidence was found, though much was claimed.  New theories and additions to the existing stories began to appear, and then even to be reversed; such as that asserted by Simon Weisenthal.

  After firmly assuring the world for many years that Bormann had survived - and strongly hinting that he knew where the fugitive resided [cdlxxiv] - Weisenthal abruptly reversed himself and asserted that Bormann had committed suicide that night in Berlin when he realized escape was not possible. [cdlxxv Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, considered by many to be the leading expert on Bormann's fate, reported he was dead, then alive, then dead, then alive again.  What caused these sweeping reversals is hard to know, but they illustrate the high state of confusion and uncertainty around Bormann's fate.

Journalist Paul Manning, for his part, reported that Bormann was alive, thanks to the help of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller, who had searched for, and found in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a man who could serve as a "double" for Bormann.  Mueller's assistance can be attributed to the fact that he not only may have owed his position to Bormann, but Hitler had ordered Bormann to serve as a go-between for Mueller and his direct superior Heinrich Himmler, [cdlxxvi whom Mueller hated.

  In the months prior to Mueller's and Bormann's anticipated escapes - both men felt surrender was a probability that ought to be prepared for - Mueller ordered that the double be coached to behave like Bormann and that his dental work be redone to match that of the Reichsleiter's. [cdlxxvii While the claim of a double for Bormann initially seems far-fetched, one must remember that it was Mueller who found, arranged and prepared the well-known double for Hitler, presumably under Bormann's orders since Bormann held ultimate responsibility for Hitler's safety.

  The Fuehrer's bodyguard, and even his pilots, were under Bormann's command.  Manning explained further that he was provided the initial information about Bormann's double from a highly placed British intelligence source. He received confirmation of the incredible story from one of General Reinhard Gehlen's top aids. [cdlxxviii Manning subsequently treated the account as accurate and never questioned the story.  Indeed, the suggestion that a double actually "stood in" for Martin Bormann during the last known day of his life resolves many anomalies about the events of 1 May, 1945.

General Gehlen was Hitler's chief intelligence officer for Eastern Europe before the German surrender, at which time Gehlen became the Central European expert for the CIA, and eventually head of the secret service in the Federal Republic of Germany. [cdlxxix  He was, nonetheless, still financed by American money and thus provided America with East-bloc intelligence. [cdlxxx  According to Manning, the Bormann post-war story was at one point even further convoluted when Gehlen was forced by the CIA to write in his memoirs that Bormann was a Soviet spy who had died in Russia in 1969.  It was one of the agency's many efforts to obfuscate the facts around Bormann's fate, to make any clear exploration impossible.  Gehlen later retracted the claim.

Over two decades passed before the first physical evidence suggesting Bormann's fate surfaced.  At that time, a report was uncovered that was written shortly after Bormann disappeared.  The report declared the Russians had found Bormann's and Dr. Stumpfegger's bodies where Axmann had said they were, on the Lehrter Station Bridge, and the Russians had the corpses buried a few meters away in the Lehrter fairgrounds just days after the city's surrender. [cdlxxxi  They identified the body from a journal of Bormann's that was found in the pocket of the dead man's overcoat. [cdlxxxii

In the mid-1960s, the German State of Hesse asked that the body be exhumed, but when excessive digging where the body was reportedly buried came up empty, the quest was abandoned. [cdlxxxiii  Then in December 1972, just as two separate series of articles by Ladislas Farago and Paul Manning began being published that convincingly argued that Bormann had escaped Berlin, [cdlxxxiv a construction crew "accidentally" unearthed two skulls and some bones 20 yards from the location previously dug up by the official Bormann search party. [cdlxxxv

  The skull was examined to see if it was Bormann's but there was a problem: no records of Bormann's dentistry or any other identification marks that could be compared against the skeletal remains were extant.  The only record available was a sketch drawn from memory by Bormann's by-then-deceased dentist, Dr.Hugo Blaschke, who drew the sketches during interrogations for the Nuremberg trials. [cdlxxxvi

  The accuracy of the chart was attested to by Fritz Echtmann, a dental technician who had never actually seen Bormann's teeth, but who had built a dental bridge for a patient he "assumed" was Bormann, based on data given by Dr. Blaschke.  Using this data, the pathologists in the case compared the sketch with the unearthed skulls and proclaimed a match.

The riddle of the fate of Martin Bormann had been solved: Martin Bormann had died on Lehrter Bridge in Berlin on 2 May, 1945 as Artur Axmann had asserted; all of the stories regarding his survival, therefore, were false.  The version was made semi-official with a press conference, although it was not certified or recognized by a court. [cdlxxxvii  A great many journalists thereafter reported that the search was over and the whole world could breath easier knowing that Hitler's closest confidant was dead and gone.  One of the great unanswered secrets of World War Two now was resolved.

Except the skull probably was not Bormann's.  In 1953, almost 20 years before the skull was found and eight years after it had been buried, CIA agent James McGovern was operating in Berlin with the assignment of verifying for his agency what had happened to Bormann.  He later wrote that in discussions on the matter with the KGB, the CIA had learned that Bormann's body had been identified, by means of the diary found in the pocket of the corpse's overcoat, within days of its burial at Lehrter Station, and Moscow had ordered that the body be disinterred. [cdlxxxviii The corpse was dug up and removed - presumably to conduct forensic testing to see if it was, indeed, Martin Bormann's remains.  The remnants were subsequently reburied elsewhere in East Germany.

If the Soviet report that the body was buried somewhere outside of Berlin is true, Bormann's remains could not have been at Lehrter Station when the skull was dug up by workmen.  Therefore, the skull found there could not have been Bormann's and the identification of the skull as his, was, at the least, a serious mistake of inefficiency and sloppiness, and at the worst, a fraud.  Indeed, Ladislas Farago documents that the skull was actually four skulls, or it at least went through four iterations, [cdlxxxix each succeeding cranium becoming more and more aligned with the dental sketch of Dr. Blaschke as succeeding complaints came in about obvious inconsistencies.

  In fact, writes Farago, Professor Reider F. Sognnaes, a specialist in oral biology and anatomy who had positively identified Hitler's burnt corpse from its dental records, was so uncertain of the positive Bormann skull identification that he wrote a letter of concern to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. Sognnaes later stated, according to Farago "that he did not believe that the skull found...was the skull of Bormann." [cdxc  Manning confirms this evidence regarding the skull, writing that one of General Gehlen's aids - one of three independent sources refuting the claims about the skull - confided to him that "the skull is a fraud." [cdxci

In the latest development regarding the skull, DNA tests were begun in May 1997 and a positive identification of Bormann was announced in May 1998, though no specific results have been made public. [cdxcii  Such a finding would be the final word on the matter if the provenance of the skull was impeccable and the disposition of those who controlled the relic was beyond question neutral.

  But, as has been shown, the incontinuities regarding the skull's whereabouts for almost two decades, the reported gross inconsistencies between the dubious dental records and the new-found skull itself, the 50-odd years that have transpired since Bormann's disappearance at age 45 - meaning that Bormann almost certainly had died by 1997 and his handlers may have submitted samples from his actual skull for DNA testing - and the fact he was not even in the grave to begin with, if the Soviet report is true, all combine to cast considerable doubt upon the authenticity of the DNA tests. One last possibility is worth mentioning regarding DNA testing of the skull.

  If the Soviet report is wrong and the skull discovered was actually that of the person buried in Lehrter Station with Dr.Stumpfegger, it probably was that of Bormann's double.  Mueller, under Bormann's direction as chief of Hitler's security, had successfully found a double for Hitler in one of the Fuehrer's distant cousins. Might he have done the same for Bormann when developing Bormann's double? James O'Donnell, author of The Bunker, noticed on a personal visit to Bormann's hometown that a large percentage of the people there looked like Bormann, and were possible relations. [cdxciii

  If the body was that of a Bormann relative, DNA tests quite possibly would have shown a match with the DNA provided by another relative, without the skull being that of Martin Bormann.  In all cases, the identity of the skull found at Lehrter Station is far from above suspicion.  The author believes, when considered against the preponderance of other evidence and the provenance of the skull itself, the skull most likely is not that of Martin Bormann.

So what really happened to Martin Bormann? Among the many scenarios detailing Bormann's escape, although it was never given weight in the West, was an accusation Joseph Stalin made stating Soviet intelligence had reported Bormann was flown out of Berlin in a small airplane on the dawn of 30 April. [cdxciv Irrefutable proof exists that a small plane left the Tiergarten at dawn on April 30, flying in the direction of Hamburg. Three men and a woman are known to have been on board. It has also been established that a large submarine left Hamburg before the arrival of the British forces.  Mysterious persons were on board the submarine.... [cdxcv

In addition, according to author William Stevenson, "Stalin told Harry Hopkins in Moscow that he believed Bormann escaped.  Now he went further and said it was Bormann who got away in the fleeing U-boat.  More than that Stalin refused to disclose." [cdxcvi

Stalin later reiterated his belief, claiming that Bormann was being harbored by the United States government in his escape and continued freedom.  The Allies, led by the United States, refused to give this story credence and ignored Stalin's demands for an explanation, and, in fact, began claiming in defense that the Soviets held Bormann. But Stalin insisted until his death that his was the correct account of Martin Bormann's fate.

Why would Stalin make such a claim? What did he stand to loose if it was true? What value could he gain from such an assertion if he knew it was false? And if it were true, why would the United States discount it out of hand?  These seem to be the obvious questions concerning the matter. But equally important, though much less glaring, are the small questions; the questions about the innocuous details that make up the fabric of Stalin's very specific story.

  If Stalin was not telling the truth, why would he include such unique and seemingly contestable details as the fact the airplane carried four people when the only two airplanes capable of using the ad hoc runway - the Fieseler-Storch and the Arada - were designed to carry only two. Why did he include a woman in the escape party when it would be almost inconceivable that a woman would be on such a desperate and dangerous mission?  And why would Stalin assert the escape was continued from Hamburg on a "large" U-boat? The Allies were fairly certain that all but two of Germany's largest U-boats had been sunk during the war, and one of those was in the Pacific. The chances seemed slim that such an escape as Stalin described was ever made.

A series of totally independent accounts, however, corroborate very well Stalin's unlikely tale. 

Such a detour for such a superfluous reason seems remarkably improbable given the desperate state of affairs on the military front and the injuries to General von Greim.  Would not a radio message have done? What if all the remaining German leaders decided to travel to each other in order to wish one another farewell?  There seems to be no indication that Doenitz and von Greim had any special relationship beyond two professionals doing their jobs.  The reason for the detour seems highly suspect.

To be sure, other reasons were later given for the strange flight deviation, but, despite their outward veracity, when subjected to even minimal scrutiny they seem almost as hollow as the reason Reitsch describes.  The chief assertion is that von Greim was flown to Ploen after Hitler had concluded Himmler was a traitor who had begun separate surrender negotiations with the West.

  Supposedly von Greim was sent to arrest Himmler.[diii]  But the Fuehrer Bunker was in radio contact with Doenitz many times a day and could have had Doenitz make the arrest. The wounded von Greim, with his one-woman retinue, was in far less able condition to arrest Himmler than the healthy Doenitz with his considerable cortege. Doenitz was a strict and efficient military professional with a strong reputation for carrying out his command. Indeed, at the end of the war Hitler entrusted him with the post-war leadership of the entire nation.

If Doenitz was not capable of fulfilling the order, to send the injured von Greim to enforce the order over Doenitz's head and in his own headquarters, surrounded by the Admiral's full retinue and in the face of Himmler's substantial SS bodyguard, seems unlikely. And if they had, in fact, flown to Doenitz for this purpose, why would not Rietsch have stated so in her memoirs, written many years later?

  The order for Himmler's arrest was never a secret - not even at the time it was issued, much less decades later when she wrote her book.  And in the end, when von Greim met with Himmler, he only told the Reichsfuehrer SS that Hitler had denounced him, [div] further suggesting that von Greim was not really sent to Ploen to arrest the SS chief.  In short, there seems to be no viable reason why Reitsch and von Greim had flown alone to Ploen.

There is a reason for the huge flight deviation, however, if they were not alone. The traditional history documents well Bormann's intense efforts to make his way to Admiral Doenitz during this time.[dv]  Bormann had told his family they would be escaping on a U-boat to Japan; [dvi] and some of Bormann's closest associates, including Gauleiter Erich Koch and others, expected to escape by U-boat as well, with Bormann's help.[dvii] So strong was Bormann's effort to reach Doenitz that by 3:30 the morning of 30 April, Bormann had Hitler issue an order to his pilot, Hans Baur, to fly Bormann to Doenitz.[dviii]

To think that Bormann and Baur were aware that Hanna Reitsch was preparing to fly out of Berlin within hours after this order was issued - an order that Bormann successfully had manipulated from Hitler and that provided possibly his last chance for escape - but that Bormann failed to capitalize on the opportunity, seems exceptionally unlikely given Bormann's pragmatism, power and legendary drive to survive.  It seems especially so considering that Reitsch did, in fact, pilot the airplane to Doenitz's headquarters, although there seems to be no other viable reason for her to have gone there - as noted above - and there were many reason for her not to go to Doenitz.

Possible validation of this phantom flight is provided in another flight supposedly made from the Teirgarten, which was reported to have occurred late on the night of 29 April, 1945.  The provenance of this account is suspect, but if it is true, it certainly adds to the argument that Bormann and Heinrich Mueller may have escaped together by airplane.  In 1996, author Gregory Douglas published the first of three volumes titled The 1949 Interrogation of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller.

  The books are claimed to have been written from Mueller's own records as provided to Douglas by the Mueller family, and Douglas has done a considerable job of proving the information in the documents is true, even if the documents themselves may be suspect.  Details of such a limited nature that few people would know them are included in the book, and they have been reviewed by Robert Wolf, who worked for many years as an archivist specializing in World War Two for the United States National Archives and Records Administration.

In a telephone interview with the author, Mr. Wolf, though obviously finding his comments personally disheartening, if not distasteful, admitted that all of the details he could find objective reference to that were claimed in Douglas's account proved to be true.  The records are purported to be a post-war interrogation of Heinrich Mueller by the OSS, forerunner of the CIA, when the agency was considering hiring Mueller and the substantial spy apparatus that the former Gestapo Chief operated throughout the Soviet Union and elsewhere.

During the alleged interrogation, Mueller described his escape from Berlin on the night of 29 April, just hours before Reitsch claims to have escaped in a Feiseler Storch airplane,[dix] in the same type of aircraft Reitsch claims to have flown. In his account, Mueller is flown out alone, with a male pilot the only other person in the airplane. Instead of flying to Ploen, Mueller contended the Fieseler Storch was flown south to the Austrian/Swiss border, the approximate location Hanna Reitsch describes as her and General von Greim's final destination following their detour to Doenitz's headquarters.

There are obvious inconsistencies in this tale compared to Reitsch's - besides the fact that it may not even be true.  But the discrepancies may be easily explained if it is true.  First, if Bormann and Mueller did escape secretly in company of Reitsch and von Greim, it would seem that as joint conspirators they all would have agreed to protect their secret. For that reason, Reitsch would not have identified Bormann or Mueller as having been on the flight she piloted to Doenitz.  Under the same agreement, Mueller would not have identified any of his flying mates either, therefore he reported he flew alone; and he may even have reported a different take-off time to further separate himself from the other escapees.  Or possibly he considered the pre-dawn hours of 30 April as part of the night of 29 April.

Second, if the flight to Doenitz was ever tied to U-234 - considering the inferences that could later be made from that connection - Mueller again would not have wanted to reveal it.  No one knew as well as Mueller how compartmentalized governments, and intelligence agencies in particular, are when it comes to maintaining state secrets.  He could not assume that the OSS officer interrogating him was aware of a possible Bormann/U-234 connection with the United States; that information would have been available within the agency on a "need to know" basis only.

  Certainly Mueller and Bormann both would have agreed in the original escape negotiations not to discuss a Bormann/U-234 arrangement with anyone, and to keep it as far from being discovered as possible.  Since there was no need for his interrogators to know of the U-234 deal, in fact, there were good personal and United States national security reasons for them not to know of it, Mueller simply excluded any reference to it from the interrogation.  Those in the know within the CIA would have expected him to do so, and he knew it.

Third, if Mueller escaped with Bormann onboard U-234, he could not have been flown to the Swiss border of Austria on the airplane, as he reported in the interrogation version of his escape.  True, but if he escaped on U-234, he, like Bormann, would not have wanted anyone to know how he made his escape, for the same reasons as listed above.  If Mueller told the interrogator he had been flown to Hamburg, he would have had to tell him how he escaped from there.

  Rather than tell them he escaped aboard a U-boat from Hamburg, which threatened to lead right back to U-234 and further questions, it made good sense to adopt the remainder of Reitsch's and von Greim's flight as his own cover story. He therefore told his interviewer that he flew to the Austrian/Swiss border and escaped across the Alps.  Such adaptation into cover stories of real events falls perfectly in line with intelligence operatives' practice of keeping deceptive scenarios as close to the truth as possible, deviating only when necessary to protect that which is being covered.

  In this way, if the Fieseler Storch bearing Reitsch and von Greim had been spotted and recorded as having landed in the area Mueller asserted, the sighting would validate Mueller's story.  Using specified portions of reality in cover stories was also considerably easier than Mueller's alternative, which was to create a totally fictitious story that would hold up under investigative scrutiny, and as a result would have been more difficult to do believably.
One last set of observations may be made concerning Mueller's reputed flight.  While it was possible to fly in and out of the Tiergarten, it was not an easy thing to do and it was quite dangerous - as illustrated by General von Greim's injuries a few days earlier.  Such flights were even more risky during the last two days of April when the Reichs Chancellery was almost entirely surrounded by Soviet forces.

  The more flights that flew in and out of the makeshift airstrip, the more likely they would draw attention of Russian air support, who would shoot the slow and defenseless hedgehoppers down.  In addition, the Russians were more likely to locate the airstrip itself, and, as a result, identify the general area of Hitler's bunker.  Given these considerations, it seems unlikely several flights per night were permitted.  To suggest that two, and possibly three, flights may have lifted off from the airstrip on the night of 29-30 April - Mueller's flight, Reitsch's flight, and the one Stalin claims - while Hitler was still inside the bunker, seems risky if not out of the question.

  The chances of multiple flights being allowed to depart seem even less likely when considering Reitsch's and Mueller's flights were supposedly both destined for approximately the same location on the Austrio-Swiss border.  Surely Hitler's headquarters staff would have consolidated flights when possible, rather than let several take off and increase the risk of exposure.  The trouble involved in lighting, dousing and relighting the airstrip multiple times and in keeping available a number of the rare airplanes capable of using the short landing strip also would have discouraged such activity.

Even without the questionable Mueller account, using only Reitsch's memoirs, Stalin's story of the mysterious flight appears to have a strong basis in fact.  Bormann and Mueller were reported by some to have escaped together.[dx] If Bormann and Mueller were on the Fieseler Storch with Hanna Reitsch and General von Greim, Stalin's description of four people flying out of Berlin together, one of them Bormann and one a woman, would have been accurate.

  In addition, the description of the small party escaping in a large U-boat identifies itself particularly well with U-234, which, it will be remembered, had received at least one - and possibly two - radio transmissions from Hitler's bunker; and which led General Kessler to anticipate an important passenger from Berlin. In addition, as will be reviewed in detail in the next chapter, Captain Fehler appears to have taken U-234 on a convoluted voyage, with each successive twist and turn intended to hide the U-boat's movements and activities.

  The description of Bormann's getaway boat as a large U-boat links the escape to U-234 even closer, not just because U-234 was by comparison extremely large, but even more so because it appears to have been the only boat of its mammoth size left in Europe.

  U-234 was originally built as a minelaying, Type XB U-boat, commissioned March 3, 1944.  These double-hulled, triple-sized U-boats were designed to seed strategically chosen bodies of water with high-explosive mines. The Allies became so adept at detecting and eradicating these mines before any harm was caused, however, that the Type XB quickly became obsolete.[dxi]  There was but a handful of Type XBs ever built: U-116 through U-119, U-219, U-220, U-233 and the mysterious U-234.[dxii]  When the Type XB proved not to have the impact for which it was designed, the boats were refitted as supply vessels for the 'wolfpack' boats sinking Allied convoys on the battlefront in the Atlantic.

  Compared to the wolfpack boats, however, Type XB U-boats were huge, more than 1600 tons displacement when surfaced, while the ubiquitous Type VII U-boats that constituted 75 percent [dxiii] of Germany's submersible fleet, were 500 tons - less than one-third the size of a Type XB.  The other popular U-boat, the Type IX, was larger than the Type VII at anywhere from 740 to 1100 tons. But the Type XB was 50 percent larger than even these more common front boats that, combined with the smaller Type VII, constituted almost the entire remaining U-boat fleet.  Russian observers of U-boats were probably accustomed to both the Type VII and the Type IX and probably would not have differentiated them by size as out of the ordinary.

  Type XBs, however, were almost unknown. As noted, there had been only eight of them made. U-116 through U-220, with the exception of U-219, were all sunk in the year between the first of October 1942 and the end of October 1943.dxiv  U-219 had fortuitously avoided this fate by being stationed in the Pacific immediately upon commissioning, having left Bordeaux, France on 23 August, 1944 for Djakarta, Indonesia, where it arrived on 11 December, 1944.dxv

  In the South Pacific it was far away from Europe and Bormann and the fierce Atlantic fighting when the war in Europe ended.  When Germany surrendered, U-219, still in the Pacific, was turned over to the Japanese Imperial Navy to continue the war under the flag of the Rising Sun.dxvi  U-233 had been sunk before commissioning, leaving U-234 as the only remaining "large" Type XB U-boat available in Europe at the time of Bormann's alleged escape.

  The Type XIV U-boat was the only other U-boat larger than the popular Type IX and comparable in size to the Type XB.  Like the XB, few of these boats were made - only ten - which were all built and operational by the end of 1942.dxvii  They were designed and used as a refueling boat for the wolfpack vessels, and, as a result, like the XB, had a very high mortality rate.  The sinking of a single Type XIV shortened the combat patrols of approximately twelve fighting U-boats, so Allied anti-submarine efforts concentrated on what the German U-boaters affectionately called their 'Milk Cows.'

   The process of refueling was dangerous, requiring the Type XIV fuel supply boat and its recipient lie still in the water for hours on end during the fuel transfer process.  During this time, both boats were vulnerable to attack, which happened often, at which the panicked crews would quickly detach the umbilicals and both boats would execute emergency dives.  The smaller fighting boat, with its more compact size, greater maneuverability, and with its more disciplined, battle-seasoned crew, would invariably be the first to maneuver out of harm's way, leaving the clumsy behemoth Type XIV at the mercy of the enemy.  It was an easy target.

  Of the 39,000 German sailors who fought on U-boats during the war, 28,962 were killed and an additional 4,000 captured.  A total of over five out of every six U-boaters, therefore, was lost in the war. Remarkably, despite these numbers, Germany's U-boat service was the only one of its military services that had more volunteers than it could use throughout the entire duration of the war.dxviii Type XIV U-boats had an abnormally high mortality rate compared to even these chilling statistics, making it apparent that survival of a Type XIV U-boat for even a few months was miraculous. In fact, none of the Type XIV U-boats survived to the end of the war, all ten had suffered the fate of the majority of Type XBs by the end of 1943.dxix  The only other large U-boat built was the Walther U-boat, which was designed and under construction, but not operational, before the end of the war.

  U-234, therefore, was the only 'large' U-boat left in the Reich's fleet that would most closely fit Joseph Stalin's escape boat description.  And, as already mentioned, it is known that U-234 had received at least one radio transmission from the Fuehrer Bunker, and quite possibly more; and that Bormann, apparently, had some connection or even control over the boat.  Apparently, the "wild pig routing for a potato" had dug up the morsel that would save his life.

So what does the composite story of Bormann's escape look like, taking into account all of the acknowledged tales of Bormann's last days in Berlin and the additional evidence since uncovered? Even though Doenitz's order to U-234 countermanding the directive from Berlin to stay put, and then ordering the U-boat to leave as soon as possible, was received on the 14th, U-234, as noted elsewhere, did not actually set sail until two days later, on the 16th - the same day the barrage of Berlin began.

  Perhaps Bormann, from Hitler's headquarters, had set the final attack on Berlin as the automatic signal that Fehler stealthily set to sea, from where he would await further orders. On the morning of 22 April, Bormann radiogrammed Helmut von Hummel, his top aid, who was now working in Obersalzberg: "agree to proposed overseas transfer south."  The Soviet Bormann expert Lev Besymenski later interpreted this message to refer to a prescheduled escape to South America.dxx

In Berlin, the Russians were daily tightening their noose around the beleaguered city and the core of Hitler's remaining leaders huddled in the bunker under the Reich Chancellery.  During the final three days of April, virtually all historians agree, Bormann struggled mightily to escape the strangle-hold of Berlin and make his way to Admiral Doenitz. At the same time, he held conference with Heinrich Mueller as they tried to execute their escape plan and finalize the details of fleeing Berlin.dxxi

On the night of 28-29 April, when Hitler ordered Hanna Reitsch to fly out of Berlin with new Luftwaffe commander von Greim, the opportunity Bormann and Mueller were looking for had arrived.  Bormann quickly succeeded in getting Hitler to order that he should be flown out to Doenitz, as well.dxxii  In fact, according to author James P. O'Donnell, Bormann was simply substituted for Hitler in an escape plan Hitler's pilot, Hans Baur, had prepared.dxxiii  O'Donnell suggested, however, that the original plan, which was never completed, was for Baur to fly Hitler - before Bormann was substituted - out of Berlin, not for Hanna Reitsch to fly him.

  Reitsch's and von Greim's impending departure appears therefore to have been a fortuitous opportunity to implement Baur's plan for Bormann and Mueller to escape with Baur being the pilot. Two more considerations support the scenario that Hanna Reitsch flew Bormann out of Berlin: 

What else but the Reitsch flight could have been done to implement Baur's escape plan? Hitler had already married Eva Braun and composed his last will and testament, demonstrating that he expected Nazism to carry on despite his absence and its dismal conditiondxxvi - probably as a result of Bormann convincing him the Flight Capital Program would still work if he, Bormann, could escape to administer it.  This was the moment for which Bormann had anxiously waited.

  But up until then, the Fuehrer had not given Bormann final permission to forever leave his service.  Bormann, loyal to the end, would not dream of deserting Hitler if he knew his master might yet need him. At 3:30 a.m. 30 April, the Fuehrer had concluded his baneful business on earth and all but ended his life.  He would put a bullet through his head 12 hours later, but not before he had ordered Baur, in no uncertain terms, to make sure Bormann got to Doenitz to deliver his last will and political testament, which Bormann would hand carry and personally deliver.dxxvii 

Jochen von Lang, who inaccurately wrote that Bormann would later sign the message informing Doenitz that Hitler was dead, puts the time at about noon, hours after Bormann would have escaped in the plane.  But Dollinger puts the time simply "in the morning" of 30 April, the inference being that it was shortly after Hitler's 3:30 a.m. signing of his will and political testament.

Whatever the case, Bormann's uncanny influence over Hitler had worked one final time.  "Bormann has been given several orders which he must take to Doenitz in person....It is most important that Bormann gets to Doenitz," Hitler told Baur.  At dawn of the same day, 30 April, Martin Bormann and Heinrich Mueller most likely departed with Hanna Reitsch and General von Greim toward Admiral Doenitz's headquarters in Ploen. Bormann's double remained to unwittingly play his awful role in a final fraud performance.

  General Baur never made any attempt to fly Bormann to Doenitz, although the traditional history suggests the topic was discussed by Goebbels and Baur on 1 May, long after Bormann apparently was gone and a flight out of Berlin was no longer possible.dxxviii Given the convergence of so many disparate elements - Bormann and Mueller having worked so long and painstakingly together to develop his double; their escape plan preparations on the night of 28-29 April, which coincides with the timing of Hitler's order that Bormann travel to Doenitz; the report that Mueller had flown out to freedom in that same time frame; Reitsch's admission that she had flown a small plane to Doenitz the morning of 30 April; and, again, Stalin's insistence that Bormann escaped in a small plane at exactly the same time - the weight of the evidence for this scenario seems far too compelling to be overshadowed by any of the historically entrenched but seriously conflicting stories.

The escape described above would have given Bormann and Mueller a day or two head start from the others in the bunker and the opportunity to leave behind a viable alibi that would resolve their fates for the outside world and eliminate post-war searches.  Bormann's and Mueller's detailed hard work appeared to have paid off.  Indeed, five staunch Fuehrer bunker Nazis all testified that they saw Bormann killed on Wieddendammer Bridge, an assertion now considered a patent lie.  And other would-be observers provided slightly different versions of the same story.

The cover story, designed to end later searches, would insist that Bormann and Mueller escaped Hitler's headquarters with the others in the bunker the night of the breakout. Upon exiting the bomb shelter, the scenario went, Mueller and Bormann were separated and Bormann made his way to a location - possibly Wiedendammer Bridge had already been selected, possibly it was left to the vaguaries of the fluid condition of the battle for that to be decided.  The story would describe how, once at Wiedendammer Bridge, Martin Bormann was killed by a blast to a tank he was using to cross the bridge.

  Both Paul Manning and James O'Donnell site a story of a tank having been specifically pre-arranged to be at Weiddendammer bridge at the fateful moment to complete the illusion.dxxix  Manning believed the story, O'Donnell did not. To further validate the death, Bormann's double would be taken to the bridge and killed via cyanide or some other form of poisoning to later be found with Bormann's diary placed in the unfortunate corpse's pocketdxxx to identify the body as Bormann's and conclude the illusion. The body would validate the "eye witness" reports of the Reich Minister's demise: Bormann's death would be assured and he would fade into the shadows of history.

Once the cover story was completed and disseminated to Hitler's remaining top aids for post-surrender circulation, Bormann and Mueller flew with Reitsch and von Greim to Hamburg, where U-234 would soon pick them up just as Stalin insisted had happened.  The only exception to Stalin's story is his assertion that the woman and all three men boarded the U-boat.  Possibly his contacts reported so because Hanna Reitsch and von Greim had flown to safety with Bormann and Mueller and the observers assumed they had thus continued the escape together, when later events revealed they had not.

  Or, quite possibly considering Hanna Reitsch's adventurous, inquisitive and "tomboyish" nature, she boarded the U-boat temporarily with General von Greim for a quick look around and to wish her companion flyers farewell before continuing her journey to the south.  Perhaps the spies never saw her return to the U-boat deck and then dockside.

Whatever the case, upon disembarking Hamburg, the U-boat took Bormann and Mueller to a prearranged rendezvous point in the Bay of Biscay, where the two men boarded another vessel and were ferried to the north coast of Spain. There, Bormann and Mueller quietly completed their European business affairs behind-the-scenes and under the protection of Spain and, by secret extension, the United States' watchful eye. The plan was a good one, detailed and well thought out considering all the possibilities.

  But the unpredictability of battle, the serendipitous nature of fate, and the persistence of people who refused to let justice go undone, undid it. First, the integrity of the scenario was not kept after the key bearers of the cover story were captured. Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffer; Hans Baur, Hitler's pilot; Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet; Johann Rattenhuber, chief of Hitler's detective bodyguard; and Otto Gunsche, Hitler's SS adjutant, were the survivors of Berlin who were closest to Hitler and Bormann during the final days in the bunker. They all asserted that they saw Bormann die in the tank explosion on Weidendammer Bridge.

  As the keepers of the cover story, this was what they were expected to do.  But others swore to different events, both on the bridge and off.  As noted above, Roca-Pinar and Harry Mengerhausen testified to very significant variances in the Weidendammer Bridge episode.  These versions were possibly the result of their later captivity with the official keepers of the escape scenario - from whom they apparently heard the story - and a desire to be known, possibly falsely, as a participant in the historical event, but having modified the story to their own ends.

The later identification by Axmann of the dead Bormann on the Lehrter Station Bridge further undid Bormann's and Mueller's caper.  There is little reason to believe Axmann was lying, other than the bizarre details, when he told his odd story of calm corpses lying uninjured in the midst of the great battle.  He probably had, in fact, checked the breathing of the poisoned body of Bormann's double lying peacefully next to that of Dr. Stumpfegger, thinking it was the actual Bormann. Presumably, Stumpfegger was in on the escape scenario and it was his task to poison Bormann's double - as he had poisoned Goebbels' children - to conclude the desired illusion.dxxxi

Stumpfegger may have decided to "do in" the counterfeit Bormann on Lehter Station Bridge, instead of according to the cover story on Weidendammer Bridge, because the Russians already controlled the latter overpass by the time the duo reached their planned destination.  The Doctor possibly then calculated the Lehrter trestle was as close as he was going to get to fulfilling the details of the cover story and so committed the execution there.  Once the deadly deed was done, apparently seeing he was on his own and devoid of hope of escaping the tightening Soviet ring, Stumpfegger concluded his grotesque killing spree by taking his own despicable life as well; following Hitler, Goebbels, General Burgdorf and others, in suicide.

  Thus Axmann found Bormann - or actually Bormann's double - and Dr. Stumpfegger lying dead, but otherwise unharmed, peacefully reclined side by side on Lehrter Station Bridge.

Bormann was supposed to have been escaping Berlin expressly to deliver Hitler's will and political testament, which he was personally carrying, to Admiral Doenitz.  The body found was identified as Bormann's when the Reichleiter's personal journal was found in its overcoat pocket. Hitler's will and political testament are never mentioned as having been found on the body, however, although at least one account indicates they were sewn into the lining of his SS uniform.dxxxii

  Perhaps they were overlooked, but it seems doubtful given the fact that if the diary was found, almost certainly everything else about the corpse, including its garments, would have been carefully scrutinized for further proof it was Bormann's body.  As already noted, the body was later exhumed according to the Soviet report to the CIA, probably to perform forensics tests to confirm or disprove it was actually Bormann's remains.

  The second series of scenario-crippling conclusions came when additional facts related to the escape began to arise.  For instance, although the disappearance of Heinrich Mueller was lost on many in the confusion surrounding the escape attempt, a grave reportedly containing his remains was later identified in the Kreuzberg garrison cemetery in Berlin.dxxxiii  Supposedly, he had been killed in street fighting during the escape.  Since then flowers had been lovingly placed regularly at his headstone for 18 years - presumably by members.  Later reports were received, however, suggesting that possibly the Gestapo Chief's remains were not in the coffin under the headstone bearing his name and at which flowers were regularly being placed.  By order of the West Berlin District Attorney's office, the remains were exhumed and forensics tests performed.  The findings showed that bits and pieces of three men shared the grizzly grave, but none of them was Heinrich Mueller.dxxxiv

  The depth and breadth of some of the escape plans was beginning to become clear.  Had Bormann and Mueller made plans so complete, so airtight, that they included detailed, carefully prepared camouflaging tactics to conceal the escapes, and carried out macabre charades for decades after to ensure their safety?  The answer, viewed against the conflicting testimonies and cryptic anomalies linked to the supposed demise of Martin Bormann, caused those who suspected Bormann might not have died in Berlin to look even closer at the evidence.

 Especially interested were those investigators, such as Paul Manning,dxxxv Ladislas Faragodxxxvi and William Stevenson,dxxxvii who believed Bormann and Mueller carefully worked out their escapes together.  Manning quotes an unnamed Bormann expert as saying "Bormann planned this flight with extreme care and part of the grand design was a scheme to lead future forensic and dental specialists astray."dxxxviii

 The journalist later sited Mueller's skill and considerable professionalism at such endeavors,dxxxix which was evidenced by the phony grave he left behind. Even von Lang, who ultimately insists Bormann died in Berlin, intimates Bormann and Mueller made plans to escape together.dxl  If Mueller and Bormann went to such pains to hide the escape, the investigators started asking, what had they done to prepare for it?  As the investigators found and started pulling on loose threads, the carefully constructed tapestry began to unravel.

  Many will assert that it was impossible for Bormann to have escaped Berlin because the testimony of witnesses who were with him and the long litany of radio transmissions he authored from the Fuehrer Bunker proves he was intact in Hitler's headquarters until just hours before the escape attempt.  A careful, chronological review of the messages and of his actions, however, reveals some interesting irregularities that, if nothing else, may be telling in their incongruities.

  Up until the night of 29 April, the historical record seems fairly unassailable except for one small, perplexing detail.  The record shows Bormann was paying particular attention to keeping Admiral Doenitz informed of events in Berlin.  Bormann's constant contact with Doenitz is now accepted widely, 50 years later, and is unquestioned, but in its contemporary political context, such activity on Bormann's behalf is bewildering.  Updating Doenitz on the military situation in Berlin was undoubtedly needed, but it would have been a military matter and should have been carried out by Hitler's military chain of command, which was still intact in the bunker, not through a civilian office, which was Bormann's domain.

  Hitler's generals were, in fact, in constant contact with one another through military channels during the course of the battle, and this should have included Doenitz, as well.  Why Bormann was in contact with Doenitz seems to be unknown. Hitler had not yet announced his "unexpected" appointment of Doenitz as his successor, so it was too early for Bormann to initiate government business with the Admiral. Despite all Bormann's machinations in the past, through which he, at times, had influenced military matters, Hitler had never allowed Bormann to participate directly in military affairs; and Bormann seldom showed more than passing interest in doing so. Despite these conditions, Bormann, for some reason, was now in regular contact with Doenitz, constantly updating him on the state of the battle.

On 29 April, the Reichsleiter wired Doenitz, "Situation very serious.... Those ordered to rescue the Fuehrer are keeping silent....  Disloyalty seems to gain the upper hand everywhere....  The Reichs Chancellery a rubble heap....  We are staying on."dxli  Alone such an update, though abnormal, would not have - and has not - been considered remarkable. But considered in light of later developments, such communications may appear to have been part of a narrower context, rather than a simple update on the state of the battle.

Earlier that night, the last gasps of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich had begun in earnest.  The Fuehrer married, concluded all his worldly affairs, and began his last day on earth awaiting the moment to ignominiously end his life.  Before midnight on the 28th or in the early morning hours of the 29th, he had asked his old friend Hanna Reitsch to fly General von Greim out of Berlin.dxlii

While it is fairly certain Hitler gave the order for the flight on the night of the 28th, historical accounts vary as to when the order was actually carried out.  Some, such as General Koller in his account of events, claim the flight took place on the night of the 28th.dxliii Others claim the flight occurred on the 29th; and still others, such as Reitsch herself according to a news account to which Farago refers, claim she and von Greim flew out at dawn on the morning of the 30th.dxliv  These disparate dates may be explainable as skewed pieces of an overall cover story or simply as the results of aging on memories or the confusion of war, but certainly, if taken at face value, Reitsch's account should be given precedence.

At about 1 a.m. the morning of the 29th, Hitler married Eva Braun in a short civil ceremony witnessed by Bormann and Goebbels and attended by a few others.dxlv  He then sequestered himself with a secretary and dictated his last will and testament and political manifesto, which he completed and signed about 4 a.m.  A few moments later, at 4:17 a.m.,dxlvi Bormann sent his message to Doenitz informing the Admiral of the dire state of the military situation in Berlin and of the Reichs Chancellery being "a rubble heap," but that they were determined to "stay on." He mentioned nothing of Hitler's marriage or preparations for his death, although Hitler had already made his absolute decision to die in Berlin, as attested by granting Eva Braun her last wish of marriage to him and preparing his will.

Despite this decision, apparently later the same day, Bormann sent another message to Doenitz challenging him to prove his loyalty by immediately relieving the Fuehrer.dxlvii  But Doenitz had already sent two divisionsdxlviii and a contingent of sea cadet traineesdxlix - most of whom were slaughtered - to Berlin.  Knowing that Hitler vehemently had refused days earlier to escape to Bavaria, and that he had now determined and started the preparations to die in Berlin,dl it seems remarkable that Bormann encouraged Doenitz to invest more men on some sort of rescue attempt of the Fuehrer, undefined as that may be.

  The message, however, seems to continue a series of deceptions and stonewall techniques Bormann was playing with Doenitz for some mysterious end. The next 24 hours in the bunker must have felt hopelessly macabre for the subterranean survivors, with the final hours interminably passing and the incessant rumbling of heavy guns and artillery constantly jarring the earth overhead.  Hitler's generals sent communiques far and wide, continually trying to save the desperate, if not hopeless, situation.  But Soviet forces were too strong and held a stranglehold on the city.  At 3:15 a.m. 30 April, the day after Hitler's final preparations to die, Martin Bormann sent Admiral Doenitz another message.dli

  He described briefly how the Wehrmacht's rescuers were "stubbing their toes," inferring that a rescue by them was doubtful, and then added a post script of sorts: "Addition from Berlin.  Attempts will probably be made to jam radio transmissions.  Do not let it upset you. Future communication will be forwarded to Ploen."  The message appears to be instructions to expect the possibility of communications from the Fuehrer Bunker by way of different transmission centers than from the bunker itself, or possibly by a different manner of communication altogether.

At dawn a half-hour to an hour later,dlii depending on which account one chooses to believe,dliii Hanna Reitsch and General Robert Ritter von Greim flew out of the Tiergarten in a small aircraft.  Despite the plane's short take-off capacity and the fact several previous flights had already proven the landing strip to be plenty long for the small hedge-hopper, the airplane barely cleared the statuary atop the Brandenburg Gate.dliv  The reason given for the dangerous near miss was that the aircraft had taken off with the wind.  Perhaps so.  But perhaps the aircraft, which was designed to carry only two people, was carrying twice the weight it was designed to, in the form of two additional passengers.  Such a scenario would explain the over-long takeoff and would certainly add credence to Stalin's determined assertion that three men and a woman took off in a small airplane at the same time and place as the flight noted above.

Around 3:30 p.m., Adolf and Eva Hitler killed themselves.  Two hours later, Bormann informed Doenitz that the Admiral had been chosen the Fuehrer's successor, but, mystifyingly, he did not tell the Admiral that Hitler was dead.dlv  Doenitz asked Bormann for verification from witnesses, apparently suspecting Bormann might be playing him for a dupe.dlvi  Bormann made no effort to provide the requested witnesses - probably because he was no longer in the bunker to receive and fulfill the request; nor had he been for two or three hours.  In addition, Bormann would have feared that witnesses would tell Doenitz the Fuehrer was dead, which would have ruined Bormann's plan.
Fourteen hours after that, at 7:40 a.m. on 1 May, Bormann again contacted Doenitz, this time to tell him that Hitler's testament was in force, but once again he did not reveal directly that the Fuehrer was dead.dlvii  The Reichsleiter then recommended to Doenitz that he not publish this information.

Historians for over fifty years have tried to understand in the context of the traditional history these strange, outwardly unnecessary and seemingly meaningless, deceptions.  In the context of the traditional history, Bormann's messages seem to make little sense, though many writers have strained to read meaning into them.  But against the background of the earlier reported radio signals to U-234 from the Fuehrer Bunker, and Doenitz's struggle to maintain chain-of-command of the U-boat, Bormann's strange convolusions begin to be clear.

  The Reichsleiter, as only he could, appears to be playing a game of cat-and-mouse with the Admiral. The evidence throughout appears to suggest Doenitz was undecided as to helping Bormann escape, or possibly had decided not to help him at all.  There is strong evidence Doenitz was concerned Bormann was manipulating him, such as Doenitz's request for witnesses to his being Hitler's successor.  Indeed, later Doenitz issued an arrest order for Bormann should he make it to Ploen.dlviii

  As a result, apparently Bormann felt it necessary to manipulate the U-boat Service commander, first by earlier convincing him to commit to help Hitler's escape - even though he, Bormann, would be the one escaping. Presumably, Doenitz's thinking he was helping Hitler escape would have convinced him to release U-234 from its staging area near Ireland, to slide into Hamburg to pick up its fugitive passengers.

And later, once U-234 was on its way back to Germany, Bormann appears to have kept Doenitz "on the string" by hanging the bait of being post-war leader of Germany in front of him, which the Admiral was guaranteed when Hitler named him his successor.  Probably, Bormann had convinced the Fuehrer to select Doenitz as his successor for his strong leadership and clean, non-political, but avowed nationalist loyalties, which would make him a good choice as Germany's leader after the capitulation. That the Allies would not allow such an arrangement had yet to be proven and was no matter to Bormann.

  The real reason Bormann convinced Hitler to appoint Doenitz was to give the Reichsleiter a hand he could play to get Doenitz's cooperation with his escape - Bormann needed that U-boat. With Doenitz feeling he was on the verge of leading the nation, Bormann knew the Admiral would be careful not to displease the Fuehrer.  But once Doenitz knew Hitler was dead, the Admiral's command would be law and Bormann would be one of the first of Hitler's paladins he would seek to bring down, and Bormann knew it.  Until Doenitz became aware of Hitler's death, however, Bormann would have the upper hand.  So Bormann kept the death a secret.  He flew out of Berlin, not to Ploen straight away, but to Hamburg, where he, instead of Hitler, waited for U-234 to land.

At 5 p.m. on 30 April, Bormann probably was safely hidden away not in the besieged bunker in Berlin but in Hamburg, awaiting the arrival of U-234, when he buttressed his frail position with Doenitz by sending the message informing the Admiral that he had been chosen Hitler's successor.  Doenitz would not have been overly concerned even if he could identify the message as coming from Hamburg, or any other point for that matter, since Bormann, in anticipation of his escape requirements, had warned the Admiral to expect communications to come from almost anywhere because of possible signal jamming.  In addition, Doenitz would not necessarily have assumed Hitler must be dead in order to succeed him as Fuehrer; if Hitler escaped Europe and went into hiding the testament would be in force and Doenitz would be in charge.  To this end Doenitz was working.

Finally, probably some time on 3 or 4 May, the giant U-boat Stalin reported had served as Bormann's escape vehicle, slipped into Hamburg. But on 1 May, Bormann's final piece was already in place for the escape and Doenitz could not have stopped Bormann's breakout. Bormann probably sent his last message to Doenitz while safely ensconced in Hamburg, while Doenitz thought he was in Berlin, but undoubtedly Bormann was still careful not to let the Admiral know of the Fuehrer's demise. Possibly he did not know of Hitler's death himself since he had not been in the bunker since hours before the suicide.  In any case, Bormann appears to have tried to make Doenitz think he was in the Admiral's control: "Testament in force.  Will join you as soon as possible. Advise delay publication until then."

With that sketchy information, Doenitz would be careful not to overstep his bounds and would wait patiently for an explanation when Bormann arrived - and then he would arrest him.  But Bormann never showed.  The suggestion he was coming to Doenitz was a ruse, not just to neutralize Doenitz while Bormann waited for the U-boat at Hamburg, but it would work as well to camouflage his escape when investigators later pursued his whereabouts.  While Doenitz later was told Bormann had been killed in the street fighting, actually Bormann, presumably accompanied by Mueller, set out to sea on the U-boat, which was by then out of Doenitz's hands.

 What U-boat captain could resist having the Fuehrer's top lieutenant on board personally giving him orders, especially if it was part of a previous plan?  Indeed, there must have been a pre-agreed upon U-boat escape plan intact long before Bormann ever entered the boat, or why would Bormann's children and several of his political cronies all claim Bormann had made arrangements for them to escape by U-boat.  And why would the giant U-boat have been brought into Hamburg to pick up the missing Reichsleiter in the first place?

Champions of the traditional history will assert there are serious flaws in this chronology.  They will ask, how could Bormann be in Hamburg waiting for the U-boat while he is known to have been participating in Hitler's death and burial and the unsuccessful surrender negotiations with the Soviets during the early morning hours of 1 May?  Or they will question Bormann's alleged signing, with Goebbels, of the message later informing Doenitz that Hitler was dead, sent sometime between 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. May 1, long after Bormann is supposed to have been in Hamburg waiting for the U-boat.

The serious flaws in these accounts are actually in the traditional history. For despite assertions that Bormann oversaw the Soviet surrender negotiations, General Krebs, who was sent to the Soviets to parlay, states that he could not agree to the Soviet demand for unconditional surrender because he did not have Goebbels' authorization to do so.dlix  He never mentioned Bormann in this context, even though Bormann signed the authorization to initiate negotiationsdlx - he probably pre-signed all necessary documents that could be anticipated for the surrender before leaving the bunker - and he would almost certainly have been expected to provide leadership during negotiations had he still been present. James O'Donnell, author of The Bunker, agrees that Krebs was negotiating only under Goebbels' direction.dlxi

And although the traditional history insists Goebbels forced Bormann to sign the document notifying Admiral Doenitz of Hitler's deathdlxii that afternoon, a photograph of the actual document as shown in Dollinger's The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan shows that Goebbels alone signed the communique to Doenitz - Bormann's signature is not on it.dlxiii  This is an important and very telling discrepancy, since up until then all communications with Doenitz, for some mysterious reason, had apparently gone through Bormann.

 The telephone exchange of the bunker was also under Bormann's direct command up until 30 April, after which Goebbels took control of the system.dlxiv  Apparently, from the evidence, the Reichsleiter seems to have vanished. Bormann still had a presence in the bunker, though - in the form of his Gestapo-supplied double, who would soon be sacrificed on Lehrter Bridge. And undoubtedly those who did not know any better continued to account for the Reichsleiter in this inconsequential counterfeit.  But those who knew Bormann was gone gave the double no consideration.

  That is why Krebs and Goebbels failed to take him into account in their dealings with the Soviets.dlxv  And thus we read eyewitness reports that Bormann fecklessly was participating in these events and nothing significant was ever done under Bormann's hand again.  The presence of Bormann's double acting in his place explains the rash of eyewitness accounts describing how, after Hitler's death, Bormann's demeanor seemed to have changed from overbearing to timid.dlxvi  Many have explained this as Bormann's survival reaction to the loss of his protector, Hitler, who was now dead.

  But such a behavior swing seems out of character with the persona of the man, as illustrated by his radiogram sent after Hitler's death in which Bormann, while informing Doenitz he is Hitler's successor, is still forceful and confident in his position. The aberrant behavior of the "Bormann" observed in the bunker, however, could be expected of a common man thrown into such bizarre circumstances as playing the role of a very important international leader during the catastrophic fall of the empire that leader served.

 Admittedly, the scenario above assumes much in certain areas of the account.  There is no direct proof that Bormann and Doenitz ever actually communicated specifically about U-234 or that any of the transmissions from Bormann to Doenitz originated from any other location than the Fuehrer Bunker.  Nor is there direct documentary evidence that U-234 was part of an escape plan or that Bormann was ever aboard her.

 But the preponderance of evidence - especially when viewed through the two filters of comparing disparate stories to find specific similarities and patterns, and of weighing evidence against the possible vested interests of its sources - certainly tends to validate this scenario above any other, even and including the traditional history.  And the explanations for the far less substantial conflicts and incongruities of this scenario are much less incredible than those of the history presently accepted.

Stalin's report of the flight from Berlin and Bormann's boarding a U-boat in Hamburg, the Hanna Reitsch flight and Bormann's determination to get to Doenitz and Hitler's order that Bormann be taken to Doenitz, all happening virtually at the same time, combine to present the most credible, compelling story for Bormann's escape.  It is hard to believe that Hanna Reitsch departed to fly to Doenitz at the same time Bormann was trying to get to the Admiral, by order of Hitler, and yet that Bormann was not on that airplane.

  There appears to have been little reason for Stalin to lie about such an episode, for what could he have hoped to gain from it?  If he had made it up, the Western Allies would have paid little attention to it, so such a concoction would be of little value.  If it were true, however, especially considering the implications to the Soviet Union of the cargo U-234 carried, if Stalin knew about it, then Stalin would have every reason to be upset and insist the mystery be resolved.

  He could be expected to never let the subject die, which he did not during his lifetime.dlxvii  But certainly to protect its advantage, the United States would deny and minimize any such accusation - which it did and has done ever since, including throwing the same complaint in the Soviet's face of harboring Bormann, - in order to belittle, confuse and defuse in the public's mind Stalin's claim.

If Stalin was telling the truth about the flight from Berlin, as the details he included tend to demonstrate he was, then why not about the large U-boat, as well?  British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery was reported in early September 1945 to have said British Intelligence received a report of Bormann in Hamburg the night of 1 May,dlxviii apparently verifying Stalin's assertion that Bormann had been flown to Hamburg, or else how would he have gotten there so fast.

That Bormann flew to Hamburg and escaped in a submarine is further supported by an episode Ladislas Farago described when he asked British Intelligence about a report that Bormann escaped in a U-boat.  He was told by one of Britain's highest ranking intelligence officers that they had investigated the report immediately after the war, but that the inquiry was more interested in the U-boat he escaped in than in the missing Reichsleiter himself.dlxix

Two points are of interest in this response.  The first is that there was no denial that Bormann had escaped by U-boat.  On the contrary, the connotation is that the report was true and there seemed to be some specific knowledge about the escape and the escape vehicle, which would tend to validate the U-boat escape story.  The contact noted that the investigation was later dropped; which is quite possibly a telling event, as well.  The investigation would have been dropped once it was discovered the U-boat wound up in American hands, and probably not until then or until the whereabouts of the wayward U-boat and Bormann had been determined.

The second point is that almost all German U-boats had surrendered by this time, and, with the war over, held little more value than as surplus submarines for the Allied navies.  Most were sunk as target practice shortly after the war.  On the other hand, the Allies knew by then that Bormann controlled all of Hitler's vast wealth as well as the Nazi Party's massive funds and properties and several colossal government accounts.  In addition, he had untold knowledge about the workings of the Third Reich, its intelligence services and international business dealings that were worth billions of dollars.

  These were the spoils of war, and under the guise of reparations, the Allies were intent on claiming them, if they could identify them.  For that, it would be most helpful to have Bormann.  What Bormann controlled, therefore, was far more valuable than a single submarine.  Certainly Hitler's missing lieutenant would take top billing over any single U-boat and its cargo, which British intelligence seemed so interested in - with the possible exception of the world-molding critical cargo of U-234.

The mysterious activities of U-234 - which will be reviewed in the next chapter - support the idea that Bormann was picked up by the U-boat in Hamburg.  Indeed, William Stevenson noted a direct link between Bormann and U-234 when he described how Bormann "had at his fingertips all the details required for...moving special cargoes like the dismantled rockets shipped by U-boat to Japan"dlxx as well as the "scientists" who developed Germany's atomic bomb.dlxxi



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