|Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile
By Paul Manning
Hardcover, ISBN 0818403098
Publisher: Lyle Stuart, 1981
DID THE WORLD EVER REALLY KNOW MARTIN Bormann?
A man of indescribably vast power and the sole trustee of Hitler's secrets after May 1, 1945, in the Berlin bunker, Bormann continues to be the most controversial, perplexing figure of our times. There are those who wish him dead and continue to claim he is; for were he to emerge, it would embarrass the governments that assisted in his escape, the industrial and financial leaders who benefited from his acumen and transferred their capital to neutral nations in the closing days of World War II, and the businessmen of four continents who profited from the 750 corporations he established throughout the world as depositories of money, patents, bearer bonds, and shares in blue chip industries of the United States and Europe.
There are also those who know he is not dead, and I am among those who hold this belief. When I penetrated the silence cloaking this story, after countless interviews and laborious research in German and American archives for revealing documents of World War 11, I knew that the Bormann saga of flight capital and his escape to South America was really true. It had been covered up by an unparalleled manipulation of public opinion and the media. The closer I got to the truth, the more quiet attention I received from the forces surrounding and protecting Martin Bormann, and also from those who had a direct interest in halting my investigation. Over the period of years it took to research this book, I was the object of diligent observation by squads of Gestapo agents dispatched from South America by General "Gestapo" Mueller, who directs all security matters for Martin Bormann, Nazi in exile, and his organization, the most remarkable business group anywhere in the secret world of today. Mueller's interest in me, an American journalist, confumed the truth of my many interviews and my ongoing investigation: Bormann is alive, they don't want waves, so they have been willing to expend immense time and money in tracking me and my progress.
There are also those in international government and business who have attempted to stop my forward movement on this investigation. In Germany, France, England, and the United States, too many leaders in government and finance still adhere to Winston Churchill’s statement to his Cabinet in 1943: "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." For these leaders act as if the war is still on, especially when they are trying to protect their flanks, their wealth, and their influential peers in government, business, and banking. The West German government fears this story will emerge and will do harm to its growing prestige, which is really the one resounding victory the German nation can point to with pride. Yet because they are unsure how it will be received by their allies of today, and because many in the Federal Republic of Germany bear the burdens of war guilt, the prudent course, they believe, is silence, and, when necessary, the implied intimidation of publishers and literary agents who might be tempted to run with this story. But Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile, is a great slice of true history whose time has come for publication.
Oddly, I encountered less resistance from Martin Bormann and his aging peers than I did from the cover-up groups in West Germany, Paris, London, Washington, and Wall Street. Bormann knows he is mortal, as are his cronies who have turned over the day-to-day direction of the Bormann organization to a younger leadership. The old bard want the story told, and the only point of friction is whether it should be before or after Fuehrer Bormann's demise.
The investigation into this historical account begins at the Nuremberg trials, when the Tribunal appointed H. Trevor Roper, the Oxford don and author of The Last Days of Hitler, to investigate the alleged death of Martin Bormann. Roper was to comment that giving in to death was not part of the Reichsleiter's game plan: "There was at least one man in the bunker who thought only of living-Martin Bormann." In La Fin de Hitler, Gerhard Bolat, a French historian, described Bormann in those last days of downfall as *immune from the general hysteria; calm and undismayed in the midst of madmen, as though this Twilight of the Gods' was no affair of his, as though the sun would always rise for him, and intriguing up to the last."
Martin Bormann was last seen for sure in a tank crossing the Weidendamm Bridge in Berlin, on the night of May 1, 1945. Then, for most of the world, he vanished.
Nor are the Russians convinced that Bormann died in Berlin. The Soviet KGB assigned a Major L. Besytnenski in the late 1960s to probe the "death or escape" of Bormann. After two years of painstaking investigation, his report On the Trail of Martin Bormann concluded that there was a successful escape to South America.
The U.S. CIA, on the other hand, theorized that the Reichsleiter had succumbed to shellfire as he fled the bunker. Staunchly insisting this was so, the CIA, for some unexplained policy reason, advanced, promoted, and encouraged this belief. They intervened, for instance, when General Reinhard Gehlen was arranging to publish his memoirs. Gehlen had run the German espionage network in Russia during World War 11, and later, under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer during the cold war years, had served as chief of the German Federal Intelligence Service. The CIA obliged him to include a statement that Martin Bormann had been a Krernlin spy, and had died in Russia in 1969! I am told that the general complied with reluctance, but was indebted to the CIA, during the cold war they had founded his Eastern Europe/Soviet spy operation of 4,000 men at an annual cost to the U.S. taxpayers of around $6 million. Back in 1953, his Bureau Gehlen had turned heaven and earth upside down for clues to Bormann's whereabouts in the East, reporting officially: "Bormann is not in East Germany or the Soviet Union. The Bureau has been unable to discover what happened to him after he left the Reich Chancellery." Gehlen's credibility in knowledgeable West German political and espionage circles was damaged by this circumlocution. Called to Born to explain, he in essence retracted his statement.
My own West German sources have told me: The CIA was behind the General Gehlen statement. It was a manipulation of public opinion by the CIA, immediately obvious to anyone who knows anything about this subject. Bormann and his links to Germany today are a hidden but a very real political issue." H. Trevor Roper commented about the Gehlen affair: "For this story there is neither evidence nor probability. Had it been true, it was Gehlen's duty to report it long ago; and his belated 'revelation' has only damaged his own credibility."
In U.S. academe, Professor Male Fainsode, Harvard historian and author of How Russia is Ruled, commented on the Gehlen statement: "There is no information available among Russian scholars, so far as I know, to support or deny the presence of Bormann in the Soviet Union."
Grand Admiral Doenitz, at home in Kiel, was among those who doubted that Bormann had either considered being a Soviet agent or was making his way to Russia. Simon Wiesenthal, director of the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, likewise considers Gehlen's statement "nonsense." Wiesenthal has stated that his "last credible information confirms Bormann's presence near the village of Ibiruba, near the Paraguayan border in the Brazilian province of Rio Grande do Sul." Adolf Eichmann, captured by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960, confirmed that Bormann is alive and dwelling in South America.
In the New York Times in March 1973, I wrote, in part:
Martin Bormann is the Reichsleiter in exile, a legally appointed head of state who does not consider himself a war criminal, according to spokesmen for him. Much has been written about Bormann in recent times; all of it incorrect except for the single fact he is alive and in South America. . . . When the true story of Martin Bormann is written it will reveal him to be the man largely responsible for West Germany's postwar recovery. . . . If he is ever to come out into the open and live the life of a free man once again, he must refute the charges of Nuremberg, where he was tried in absentia in 1945-46 and found not guilty on the charge of crimes against peace, but guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In its decision, the International Military Tribunal left a loophole for Martin Bormann if he ever wishes to reopen the case. . . . "If Bormann is not dead," the Tribunal stated, "and is later apprehended, the Control Council for Germany may, under Article 29 of the Charter, consider any facts in mitigation, and alter or reduce his sentence, if deemed proper."
I concluded my article:
Will Martin Bormann, an unquestioned genius of finance and administration, take the gamble, or continue to be the most hunted man in history?
At the Nuremberg Trials, Dr. Friedrich Bergold, the wily counsel for this defendant, thought to cut through all attempts to try the absent Reichsleiter with this statement:
Your Lordship, your Honors, the case of the defendant Martin Bormann, whose defense the Tribunal has commissioned me to undertake, is an unusual one. When the sun of the National Socialist Reich was still at its zenith, the defendant lived in the shade. Also during this Trial he has been a shadowy figure, and in all probability, he has gone down to the shades-that abode of departed spirits, according to the belief of the ancients. He alone of the defendants is not present, and Article 12 of the Charter applies only to him. It seems as though history wanted to preserve the continuity of the genius loci and have chosen the town of Nuremberg to be the scene of a discussion as to whether the fact that a defendant is allegedly no longer alive can obstruct his being tried in absentia. In Nuremberg, we have an adage which has come down to us from the Middle Ages, and which says: "The Nurembergers would never hang a man they did not hold." Thus, even in former times they had an excellent way in Nuremberg of dealing with the question as to how proceedings can be taken against a person in his absence.
In 1972 the eighty-five-year-old bishop of Munich, Johannes Neuhausler, made public a document of the Roman Catholic Church, which stated that Bormann had escaped to Spain. The document said, in part: "Albert Bormann had awaited the return of his brother Martin to Munich, and they fled from Salzburg airport. The airport had not been destroyed and there were also at least ten flights from there of the Fuehrer's messengers with official documents. All aircraft were suitable for night and long distance flights." The bishop made the foregoing statement to prove that "Bormann had enough ways and means to flee Germany, and that the Vatican had not done anything special to help him."
In 1973 the West German government of Willy Brandt, in collusion with the CIA, acted to end for all time the speculation that Bormann is still alive. It held a press conference in Frankfurt to declare that Martin Bormann had died in Berlin on the night of May 1-2, 1945. It displayed a skull alleged to be that of Bormann. On December 8,1972, a crew of ditchdiggers had unearthed two skeletons near the ruins of Berlin's Lehrter railway station. Investigators had tried to locate these remains seven years earlier, but now quite by accident, it seemed, they were found just 20 yards from the previous effort. A faded military pass on the second body identified it as that of Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler's physician, who had left the Fuehrerbunker with Bormann in 1945.
Bormann's dental record, prepared from memory in 1945 by Dr. Hugo Blaschke on order of a U.S. Army investigation team, was produced at the Frankfurt press conference, along with a skull. Dr. Blaschke had been personal dentist to Hitler, Eva Braun, and Martin Bormann. Prudently, before the Russians took Berlin, he had moved to Munich. He had died in 1957. Chief testimony was by Fritz Echtmann, a dental technician who had made fittings for these three; he testified that the dental work in the skull was that of the missing Reichsleiter. So we have two items of proof first, dental data prepared from memory by Bormann's dentist who had been loyal for many years to Hitler and Bormann; and, second, the statement of a dental technician, who had suffered imprisonment in Russia because of his knowledge of dental work on Hitler and Bormann.
H. Trevor Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, commented as recently as January 14, 1973, in the New York Times: "I have my own reasons for thinking that Bormann may well have escaped to Italy and thence to South America. On the present balance of evidence it is quite possible that Bormann is still alive." But he seemed to alter his opinion somewhat in 1974 after viewing the dental evidence presented to him by Dr. Reidar F. Sognnaes, the American forensic dental specialist. Dr. Roper stated to Dr. Sognnaes that, on the basis of the Berlin skull discovery, said to be that of Bormann: 'In consequence of that discovery, and the identification which I presume to be bonafide [italics mine], that the balance of probability has shifted; and that so far I have seen no evidence that can shift it back." Yet Simon Wiesenthal was also present at the Frankfkt press display and expressed doubt that the skull he saw was that of Bormann. "There seemed to be a slight di&rence in the skull structure from that of Bormann," he mused.
Mr. Wiesenthal had gone to the heart of the matter, perhaps unknowingly. For the alleged Bormann skull is that of a grisly stand-in, a substitute whose teeth and entire dental structure had been carefully prepared over a period of time on an inmate of Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen who looked almost like the Reichsleiter--a resemblance that Wiesenthal perceived as not quite 100 percent.
Substituting one body for another has been a ploy much used by General Heinrich Mueller of the Gestapo. It was he who coordinated the details of Bormann's disappearance. This is according to statements made to me by separate individuals working for three &&rent intelligence services: the Berlin skull is from a body placed in the location of the freight yards on April 30,1945, by an SS Gestapo team commanded by General Mueller of the Waffen SS. Their account is retold in Chapter 6. Furthermore, another authority on Bormann has since told me (in 1977): "Bormann planned this flight with extreme care, and part of the grand design was a scheme to lead future forensic and dental specialists astray."
The London Daily Express termed the Frankfurt press conference by the Brandt government a whitewash, and said it was Bormann's passport to freedom in perpetuity, forever freeing him from harassment or capture. The European press held that a deal was made between representatives of the Bormann NSDAP* in exile in South America and the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Their speculation was that by so doing the government sought to free itself from the unending nagging pressure of continuing to search for Bormann. As a result of the Frankfurt press conference, Bormann was, with worldwide trumpeting, declared dead. Dr. Horst Gad, state prosecutor for Hesse, removed the West German warrant for Bormann's arrest and the reward of $36,000 for Bormann's capture. Abroad, West German embassies and consulates were directed to ignore any future reports:
*NSDAP: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers' Party-the Nazi Party).
"If anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man."
Has tranquility come to this man of the shadows? It is unlikely, for there are too many glory days to remember, along with the certainty that he dare not go home to Germany, despite the economic victory he achieved for the Fatherland.
His wife, Gerda, whom he married in 1929, opened a nursery home for Jewish orphans in Bavaria in 1945. U.S. Army intelligence officers who discovered this wanted to throw her in prison; she was spared this because she was terminally ill, and died in March 1946 in the infirmary of an Italian monastery at Merano. General Patton vetoed jailing her: "Let her be. She will meet her maker soon enough." She appointed a Roman Catholic priest as executor of her will and as guardian of her ten children. The eldest, Adolf Martin, named for his godfather, Adolf Hitler, became a Jesuit priest, serving the order for years in the Congo. He asked for reassignment to South America, and the request went to the Vatican because of his father's prominence in history; the request was denied, for Vatican officials felt that it was no coincidence. It was assumed that Martin Bormann in exile missed his children and had requested his eldest son to join him in South America. Approval would have cast a spotlight of disaffection on the Vatican. Denied, Adolf Bormann resigned from the priesthood, subsequently married a former nun, Cordula, and today they are working together as missionaries to the Indians of Brazil and Bolivia. Can it not be thought that he visits Bormann, Senior, in his last years?
The flame flickers low, but Whatever became of Martin Bormann?" is unceasingly engrossing. My wartime CBS colleague, the late Edward R. Murrow, had talked at length with me about developing the Bormann saga as a solid and historically enlightening, valuable postwar story.
When Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, through an emissary, informed a gathering of Nazi industrialists in Strasbourg on August 10, 1944, "The war cannot be won by us; we must take steps in preparation for a postwar commercial campaign," he made just that possible by putting into action his new German state policy: the flight of capital-that is to say, money, patents, scientists, administrators-to neutral nations where this wealth would develop free of seizure by the Allies. This Bormann program of flight capital to safe havens, together with the endeavors of the German people, the grants of Marshall Plan money for reconstruction of factories, and the investment money that eventually found its way back home, moved the new West German Federal Republic forward to its present prosperity.
I was impelled to write this book to present to thinking people the verity of modern history's most all-encompassing conspiracy of silence, and to straighten out some of the lingering distortions that have developed from the massive outpouring of slanted communiques and press releases from governments and private interests over the past three decades, until caring people everywhere are hard put to tell truth from fiction, with too much fiction passing for history.
PAUL MANNING New York
IT WAS EARLY MORNING AND THE HAZE COVERING the broad Alsatian plain was lifting to reveal glistening mountainside acres of wine grapes and the string of fortresses that dominate the hillsides and vineyard villages on the road from Colmar-fortresses old when Joan of Arc was young. A Mercedes- Benz, flying Nazi swastika and SS flags from the front bumpers, was moving at high speed through columns of German infantry marching toward Colmar from where the command car had come. A mountainous region, some of World War 11's bitterest fighting was to take place there as winter approached, once American divisions had bypassed Paris and moved through Metz into the Colmar Gap.
The staff car had left Colmar at first light for Strasbourg, carrying SS Obergruppenfiehrer Scheid, who held the rank of lieutenant general in the Waffen SS, as well as the title of Dr. Scheid, director of the industrial firm of Hermadorff & Schenburg Company. While the beauty of the rolling countryside was not lost on Dr. Scheid, his thoughts were on the meeting of important German businessmen to take place on his arrival at the Hotel Maison Rouge in Strasbourg. Reichsleiter Martin Bormann himself had ordered the conference, and although he would not physically be present he had confided to Dr. Scheid, who was to preside, "The steps to be taken as a result of this meeting will determine the postwar future of Germany." The Reichsleiter had added, "German industry must realize that the war cannot now be won, and must take steps to prepare for a postwar commercial campaign which will in time insure the economic resurgence of Germany." It was August 10,1944.
The Mercedes-Benz bearing SS Obergruppeshehrer Scheid moved slowly now through the narrow streets of Strasbourg. Dr. Scheid noticed that this was a most agreeable city, one to return to after the war. It was the city where in 1792 the stirring Marsellaise was composed by Rouget de Lisle, ostensibly for the mayor's banquet. The street signs all in French, the names of the shops all in German, were characteristic of bilingual Alsace, a land that has been disputed throughout known history, particularly since the formation of the two nations, Germany and France. After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles restored Alsace-Lorraine to France, but after the fall of France in World War II the Germans reannexed these 5,600 square miles of territory, and life went on as usual, except for the 18,000 Alsatians who had volunteered to fight for the Third Reich on the Eastern Front.
The staff car drew up before the Hotel Maison Rouge on the rue des France-Bourgeois. Dr. Scheid, briefcase in hand, entered the lobby and ascended in the elevator to the conference suite reserved for his meeting. Methodically he circled the room, greeting each of the twelve present, then took his place at the head of the conference table. Even the pads and pencils before each man had been checked; Waffen SS technicians had swept the entire room, inspecting for hidden microphones and miniature transmitters. As an additional precaution, all suites flanking the conference suite had been held unfilled, as had the floors above and below, out of bounds for the day. Lunch was to be served in the conference suite by trusted Waffen SS stewards. Those present, all thirteen of them, could be assured that the thorough precautions would safeguard them all, even the secretary who was to take the minutes, later to be typed with a copy sent by SS courier to Bormann.
A transcript of that meeting is in my possession. It is a captured German document from the files of the U.S. Treasury Department, and states who was present and what was said, as the economy of the Third Reich was projected onto a postwar profit-seeking track.
Present were Dr. Kaspar representing Krupp, Dr. Tolle representing Rochling, Dr. Sinceren representing Messerschmitt, Drs. Kopp, Vier, and Beerwanger representing Rheinmetall, Captain Haberkorn and Dr. Ruhe representing Bussing, Drs. Ellenmayer and Kardos representing Volkswagenwerk, engineers Drose, Yanchew, and Koppshem representing various factories in Posen, Poland (Drose, Yanchew, & Co., Brown-Boveri, Herkuleswerke, Buschwerke, and Stadtwerke); Dr. Meyer, an official of the German Naval Ministry in Paris; and Dr. Strossner of the Ministry of Armament, Paris.
Dr. Scheid, papers from his briefcase arranged neatly on the table before him, stated that all industrial materiel in France was to be evacuated to Germany immediately. "The battle of France is lost to Germany," he admitted, quoting Reichsleiter Bormann as his authority, "and now the defense of the Siegfried Line (and Germany itself is the main problem. . . . From now on, German industry must take steps in preparation for a postwar commercial campaign, with each industrial firm making new contacts and alliances with foreign firms. This must be done individually and without attracting any suspicion. However, the party and the Third Reich will stand behind every firm with permissive and financial support." He assured those present that the frightening law of 1933 known as Treason Against the Nation, which mandated the death penalty for violation of foreign exchange regulations or concealing of foreign currency, was now null and void, on direct order of Reichsleiter Bormann.
Dr. Scheid also affirmed, "The ground must now be laid on the financial level for borrowing considerable sums from foreign countries after the war." As an example of the kind of support that had been most useful to Germany in the past, Dr. Scheid cited the fact that "patents for stainless steel belonged to the Chemical Foundation, Inc., New York, and the Krupp Company of Germany, jointly, and that of the United States Steel Corporation, Carnegie, Illinois, American Steel & Wire, National Tube, etc., were thereby under an obligation to work with the Krupp concern." He also cited the Zeiss Company, the Leica Company, and the Hamburg-Amerika Line as typical firms that had been especially effective in protecting German interests abroad. He gave New York addresses to the twelve men. Glancing at his watch, Dr. Scheid asked for comments from each of the twelve around the table. Then he adjourned the morning session for lunch.
At his signal, soldier stewards brought in a real Strasbourg lunch. On a long side table they placed plates of pate de foie gras, matelote, noodles, sauerkraut, knuckles of ham, sausages, and onion tarts, along with bottles of Coq au Riesling from nearby wineries. Brandy and cigars were also set out and the stewards left the room, closing the doors quietly as guards stood at attention.
Following lunch, several, including Dr. Scheid, left for the Rhine and Germany, where they would spread the word among their peers in industry about the new industrial goals for the postwar years.
A smaller conference in the afternoon was presided over by Dr. Bosse of the German Armaments Ministry. It was attended only by representatives of Hecko, Krupp, and Rochling. Dr. Bosse restated Bormann's belief that the war was all but lost, but that it would be continued by Germany until certain goals to insure the economic resurgence of Germany after the war had been achieved. He added that German industrialists must be prepared to finance the continuation of the Nazi Party, which would be forced to go underground, just as had the Maquis in France.
"From now on, the government in Berlin will allocate large sums to industrialists so that each can establish a secure postwar foundation in foreign countries. Existing financial reserves in foreign countries must be placed at the disposal of the party in order that a strong German empire can be created after defeat. It is almost immediately required," he continued, "that the large factories in Germany establish small technical offices or research bureaus which will be absolutely independent and have no connection with the factory. These bureaus will receive plans and drawings of new weapons, as well as documents which they will need to continue their research. These special offices are to be established in large cities where security is better, although some might be formed in small villages near sources of hydroelectric power, where these party members can pretend to be studying the development of water resources for benefit of any Allied investigators."
Dr. Bosse stressed that knowledge of these technical bureaus would be held only by a very few persons in each industry and by chiefs of the Nazi Party. Each o h would have a liaison agent representing the party and its leader, Reichsleiter Bormann. "As soon as the party becomes strong enough to reestablish its control over Germany, the industrialists will be paid for their effort and cooperation by concessions and orders."
At both morning and afternoon conferences, it was emphasized that the existing prohibition against the export of capital "is now completely withdrawn and replaced by a new Nazi policy, in which industrialists with government assistance (Bormann to be the guiding leader) will export as much of their capital as possible, capital meaning money, bonds, patents, scientists, and administrators ."
Bosse urged the industrialists to proceed immediately to get their capital outside Germany. "The freedom thus given to German industrialists further cements their relations with the party by giving them a measure of protection in future carts at home and overseas."
From this day, German industrial firms of all rank were to begin placing their funds-and, wherever possible, key manpower- abroad, especially in neutral countries. Dr. Bosse advised that "two main banks can be used for the export of funds for firms who have made no prior arrangements: the Basler Handelsbank and the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt of Zurich." He also stated, "There are a number of agencies in Switzerland which for a five percent commission will buy property in Switzerland for German firms, using Swiss cloaks."
Dr. Bosse closed the meeting, observing that "after the defeat of Germany, the Nazi Party recognizes that certain of its best known leaders will be condemned as war criminals. However, in cooperation with the industrialists, it is arranging to place its less conspicuous but most important members with various German factories as technical experts or members of its research and designing offices."
The meeting adjourned late. As the participants left, Dr. Bosse placed a call to Martin Bormann in Berlin over SS lines. The conversation was cryptic, merely a report that all industrialists at the one-day Strasbourg conference had agreed to the new policy of "flight capital as initiated by the Reichsleiter. With the report completed, Bormann then placed a call, to Dr. Georg von Schnitzler, member of the central committee of the I.G. Farben board of directors.
I.G. Farben had been the largest single earner of foreign exchange for Germany during the years of the Third Reich. Its operations in Germany included control of 380 companies with factories, power installations, and mines, as well as vast chemical establishments. It operated in 93 countries and the sun never set on I.G. Farben, which had a participation, both acknowledged and concealed, in over 500 firms outside Germany. They grew as the Third Reich did, and as German armies occupied each country in Europe they were followed by Farben technicians who built further factories and expanded the I.G. investment to RM (Reichsmarks) 7 billion. The Farben cartel agreements involving trade and the related use of its chemical patents also numbered over 2,000, including such major industrial concerns as Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), the Aluminum Company of America, E.I. du Font de Nemours, Ethyl Export Corporation, Imperial Chemical Industries (Great Britain), Dow Chemical Company, Rohm & Haas, Establishments Kuhlman (France), and the Mitsui interests of Japan.
I.G. Farben was a formidable ally for Reichsleiter Bormann in his plans for the postwar economic rebirth of Germany. In a telephone conversation with Dr. von Schnitzler, Bormann asked what would the loss of factories in France and the other occupied countries mean to German industry in general and to I.G. in particular. Dr. von Schnitzler said he believed the technical dependence of these countries on I.G. would be so great that despite German defeat I.G., in one way or another, could regain its position of control of the European chemical business.
"They will need the constant technical help of I.G.'s scientific laboratories as they do not own appropriate installations within themselves," he further told Bormann, adding that he and other industrialists such as Hermann Rochling "do not think much of Hitler's recent declaration of a scorched-earth policy for Germany. Destruction of our factories will surely inhibit Germany's recovery in the postwar world," he affirmed.
Bormann pondered this exchange with von Schnitzler. It was then that he determined to countermand Hitler's order for the ruthless destruction of German industry. He was aware also that the Gauleiters, the regional political supervisors and area commanders of the party, who reported to him as party chief, shared the same view as expressed by Dr. von Schnitzler.
However, Bormann waited nearly four weeks until the right moment came to go against Hitler's directive. It came when Albert Speer, minister for armaments and war production, sent a teletype on September 5, 1944, to headquarters for Hitler's attention. In this message, Speer outlined the realistic reasons why industrial plants should not be destroyed; Bormann lost no time sending this on to all the Gauleiters of Germany with his own imperative: "On behalf of the Fuehrer I herewith transmit to you a communication from Reichsminister Speer. Its provisos are to be observed strictly and unconditionally."
Speer had commented, "Even Bormann had played along with me. He seemed to be more aware than Hitler of the fearful consequences of total devastation." Speer also noted, in this month of September 1944, that "Hitler's authority in the party was no longer what it had been."
Such authority had long since passed quietly to Reichsleiter Bormann, who had succeeded in outmaneuvering all the old gang: Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, the various generals, and Speer, who was told in 1944 by Hitler always to deal directly with Bormann on all matters. As Speer put it, "I had lost for good." He was embittered and envious, and his feelings were to color every utterance he made about the Reichsleiter. Martin Bormann was now the leader in fact of Germany. Hitler, exhausted, drained of the charisma of the glory days of the thirties and the conquest years of the early forties, was going through the gestures of military leadership mechanically as his troops fell back on all fronts. Martin Bormann, forty-one at the fall of Berlin, and strong as a bull, was at all times at Hitler's side, impassive and cool. His be-all and end-all was to guide Hitler, and now to make the decisions that would lead to the eventual rebirth of his country. Hitler, his intuitions at peak level despite his crumbling physical and mental health in the last year of the Third Reich, realized this and approved of it. "Bury your treasure," he advised Bormann, "for you will need it to begin a Fourth Reich." That is precisely what Bormann was about when he set in motion the "flight capital" scheme August 10,1944, in Strasbourg. The treasure, the golden ring, he envisioned for the new Germany was the sophisticated distribution of national and corporate assets to safe havens throughout the neutral nations of the rest of the world.
Martin Bormann knew in his heart that the war in Europe was over when Normandy was lost. The day Hitler's troops were defeated at the Falaise Gap was the day he ordered swing industrialists of Germany to Strasbourg to hear his plans for Germany's future.
Society's natural survivors, French version, who had served the Third Reich as an extension of German industry, would continue to do so in the period of postwar trials, just as they had survived the war, occupation, and liberation. These were many of the French elite, the well-born, the propertied, the titled, the experts, industrialists, businessmen, bureaucrats, bankers. On the other hand, the intellectuals, the writers, the propagandists for the Germans, and the deputies of the Third Republic were among those purged with a heavy hand. The number of Frenchmen who were part of the resistance during World War I1 was never large, about 2 percent of the adult population. With the liberation of France, old scores were settled: 124,750 persons were tried, 767 being executed for treason or contact with the enemy in time of war. Sentenced to prison terms were 38,000, who also endured "loss of national dignity"-disenfranchisement and ineligibility to hold public office. Even before any arrests and trials could take place, another 4,500 were shot out of hand.
Still, economic collaboration in France with the Germans had been so widespread (on all levels of society) that there had to be a realization that an entire nation could not be brought to trial. Only a few years before, there had been many a sincere and well-meaning Frenchman-as in Belgium, England, and throughout Europe-who believed National Socialism to be the wave of the future, indeed, the only hope for curing the many desperate social, political, and economic ills of the time. France, along with other occupied countries, did contribute volunteers for the fight against Russia. Then there were many other Frenchmen, the majority, who resignedly felt there was no way the Germans could be pushed back across the Rhine.
Meanwhile, individuals had to survive. After 1940 France was neatly tucked into the German economic scheme; occupied countries would be supply areas for the benefit of the Third Reich. As an example of the cooperating industrialist, there was Marcel Boussac, the richest man in France at the time. This aging cotton textile magnate, now deceased, prospered under German occupation, like his peers. He had done well in World War I, and he did well during World War 11. In the former he made his first millions, by supplying uniforms and airplane fabric to the French army. Between wars he expanded, acquiring textile factories by the dozens. When the Germans swept across France in 1940 he promptly turned to them as new customers, and began making the cloth for German army uniforms, parachute materials, and linen for fire-hose lining (a big-ticket item as British and American bombers set fire to German cities). Other textile manufacturers, particularly those at Calais and Caudry, made the camouflage for such German defense installations at the West Wall, and mosquito netting for Rommel's Afrika Korps.
Boussac and his kind produced a trickle of fabrics for French clothing, but, on German orders, there was almost no limit to the quantity and quality of goods they turned out for the French fashion industry. German policy was to nurture the haute couture houses of Paris. It brought in foreign exchange, and it was good propaganda to have the world note luxury continuing to flourish as ever in the French capital.
In 1943, when the needs of the civilian population were to be met with an annual allowance of one kilo of cloth per person, the haute couture received 80 metric tons, enough to fill the regular clothing rations from 80,000 French civilians. Lucien LeLong, under German guidance, was the director in charge of policy for the French fashion industry. His collection and those of 60 other maisons de couture participating in the seasonal fashion shows in Paris for buyers from Germany, the other occupied countries of Europe, and the neutral nations, maintained prewar Parisian fashion standards. French fashions continued to be sold in markets of the Western Hemisphere throughout the war. One device often used as part of such a marketing scheme was to have fashionable women “expelled” from France for anti-German and pro-Allied sentiments. The women would then make their way to Lisbon and sail for New York or Buenos Aires on a neutral steamer with their trunks containing the latest creations of LeLong and his group of collaborating maison du de couture. Orders were taken, paid for, filled.
This was collaboration, but few in this industry were to go on trial, any more than were the industrialists who owned the textile companies, chemical plants, and heavy industry. However, the rayon industry was more than a collaboration between French and German interests. The Gillet-Carnot organization of the French rayon interests had close prewar relationships in price controls and markets to the German Kunstseide and Zellwolle Ring, and this laid the foundation for fuller collaboration after the collapse of France. By December 1940, most of the rayon-producing facilities in France were united under a new holding company, France-Rayonne, to which the German Ring group contributed 33 percent of the capital in the form of patent rights and technical advice.
The capital of those French companies that became subsidiaries of France-Rayonne totaled over 800 million francs. Three quarters of this sum was represented by National Viscose and Givet-Izieux, in which the Gillet and related families, such as Balay, Bizot, and Motte, were the largest shareholders.
The large French chemical interests of Kuhlmann also had their agreements with I.G. Farbenindustrie long before the war. Then, when France fell, this relationship ripened, expanding into full German majority control and stock ownership. The I.G. board of directors formed a new French holding company, capitalized at 800 million francs, and named it Francolor; it held the stock of Kuhlrnann and other French dye and chemical interests. Fifty-one percent of Francolor's stock was acquired by I.G. Farbenindustrie, without whose basic patents no chemical company in Europe could operate.
The Germans were also diligent in acquiring stock control in other prime industries, and when their troops were forced from France in 1944, their economic imprint would remain.
When Reichsleiter Bormann accepted the fact that the war was lost, he gave himself nine months to place into operation his flight capital program of safe haven for the liquid assets of Germany. Little Alsace-Lorraine was a microcosm of Nazi takeovers in the rest of occupied Europe as regards commerce, industry, and banking. They had fitted the iron and steel industry of Lorraine into their vast International Steel Cartel and had "Aryanized" Jewish concerns, which meant outright appropriation. I.G. Farben assumed control of the potassium mines of Alsace. The insurance business, which had been largely underwritten by French and British companies, was transferred to German companies. The big German banks, such as Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and Dresdnerbank, purchased majority shares of the Alsace-Lorraine banks, the institutions that under occupation controlled the very life and economy of the people.
With the disastrous coflict-to-come looming after August 10, 1944, the realists-that is to say, Bormann, the Ruhr industrialists, and the German bankers-knew it was time for new and secretive directions, were Germany to survive and emerge from defeat to once more become a world leader.