– Martin Bormann Essay, Research Paper On the night of October 15, 1946, ten of the twelve major war criminals, condemned to death at the Nuremberg trials, were executed. Of the two who eluded the hangman, one was ReichMarshal Hermann Goring, who committed suicide by swallowing a lethal vial of cyanide two hours before his execution.
– Martin Bormann Essay, Research Paper
On the night of October 15, 1946, ten of the twelve major war criminals, condemned to death at the Nuremberg trials, were executed. Of the two who eluded the hangman, one was ReichMarshal Hermann Goring, who committed suicide by swallowing a lethal vial of cyanide two hours before his execution. The other man was Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, who had managed to gain an enormous amount of power within the Nazi Party. He was virtually unknown outside of the Party elite as he had worked in the shadows of Hitler. As the end of the war drew near, many of the top Nazis were fleeing. Hermann Goring had fled west, and had been captured by American soldiers, after the death of Hitler had been announced. In Hitler?s political will, Goring had been expelled from the party while Martin Bormann had been named Party Minister . According to Jochen Von Lang, Gobbels and Bormann had ?held a military briefing on the night of May 2, 1945. ? Gobbels had already decided to commit suicide but Bormann desperately wanted to survive. The last entry into his diary was ?escape attempt! ? Martin Bormann?s whereabouts after this night is unknown. There are many speculations as to his fate ranging from the probable to the spectacular.
Reichsleiter Bormann who, according to A. Zoller, ?exercised absolute control over the whole structure of the Reich? and yet, virtually unknown to the public, was born June 17th, 1900. He was born in Saxon to a Postal Clerk. Bormann joined an anti-Semitic organization in 1920 and by 1923 he was a member of the Freikorps. During this period, he was imprisoned for a year for murder and one year after his release Bormann joined the Nazi Party as a financial administrator. By 1933 he had worked his way to being made a Reichsleiter, a General of the SS and the Chief of Staff to Rudolf Hess. When Hess took flight to England, Bormann gladly inherited his position and became Hitler?s deputy. He had many enemies in the Party and Goring explained that even Goebbels feared him and his power . Bormann saw himself to be quite a noble character and in a letter to his wife dated April 2nd, 1945 he wrote that, ?if we are destined, like the Nebeliung, to perish in King Attila?s hall, then we go to death proudly and with our heads held high.? For all his bravado, as the time to fight arrived, Bormann made a frantic attempt to survive.
At the end of the war, the allied leaders decided to prosecute top Nazis as War Criminals in Nuremberg. As Martin Bormann was missing, it was decided that he would be tried in absentia. Although the allies had testimony stating that Bormann was dead, they ignored it because if ?Bormann at this point was to be declared dead by the court, and then to surface later on, die-hard Nazis would suspect that perhaps the Furher was alive too.? In order for allied credibility to remain intact, Bormann was to be tried for Crimes against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. Dr. Friedrich Bergold was appointed to this difficult task of defending a missing man. He considered it ?a miscarriage of justice for the Tribunal to try his client in absentia.? The International Tribunal sentenced Reichsleiter Martin Bormann to death.
The night of May 1-2, 1945 is the last known whereabouts of Martin Bormann. The Reichsleiter was desperately trying to leave Berlin alive. He had tried to negotiate with the Russians for a brief cease-fire in order for him to obtain a safe passage through the enemy?s lines. It had been rejected. The survivors in the Fuhrerbunker were attempting to escape the city and every twenty minutes a group left. Bormann emerged wearing an SS uniform without rank and a leather overcoat. His pocket contained a copy of Hitler?s will, securing him to power. His group, that included Axmann, Kempka and Stumpfegger, arrived at the Friedrichstrasse Subway station but were held up at the Weidendammer Bridge. The Russians held the other side of the bridge and therefore made it impossible to cross without the cover of tanks. Miraculously, some German tiger tanks and a few armoured personnel carriers drove up . Bormann?s goup crouched around the tanks and began to cross the bridge. Bormann and Stumpfegger were together, Kempka was behind them and further behind was Axmann. A Russian projectile hit the tank beside Bormann and it exploded . After this point, the truth of the fate of Bormann is difficult to decipher from the differing stories. The events up until this point are not disputed in the available sources.
Two of the widely believed testimonies are from two of the men with Bormann on this night. One of these men was Hitler?s chauffeur, Erich Kempka. Kempka testified that when the tank exploded he saw Bormann collapse in a sheet of flames. Kempka himself was knocked unconscious by the blast and when he revived he did not see Bormann?s body, although he thought him to be dead. The other witness on this night was Artur Axmann, the head of the Hitler Jugend. He claimed that after the blast the group had separated but Bormann and Stumpfegger had rejoined him and Gunter Weltzin (Axmann?s adjutant) and together they had approached Lehrter Bohnn of 5-Bahn station. There had been Russians on the platform. This apparently had scared Stumpfegger and Bormann and they ran away . At approximately three in the morning, Axmann came across the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger. They appeared to be dead but without blood or injury. The bunker elite had been issued poison capsules. Axmann presumed that both had used them to kill themselves. Unfortunately Weltzin could not confirm this testimony as he died in Russian captivity.
These two men were the last to see Bormann. There has been much discussion on the validity of their statements. One obvious confound is the fact that both witnesses were top ranking Nazis. There was certainly a motive for a deliberate false story, although they both asserted that they were no friends of his as did many of those know to Bormann . The fact that the men had both been on the bridge and in sight of Bormann and yet their stories contradict each other throws suspicion upon their testimonies. Both men had been close to Bormann when the tank exploded but Kempka reported that Bormann could not have survived the blast. But, as he did not see the body even further suspicion is cast upon his testimony. Axmann did claim to see the body but even he said that although he presumed them to be dead he was not a medical man. His statements were not used in Bormann?s Nuremberg trial, as they were unverifiable. Without a body it was difficult to verify either of these claims.
Those who believed Bormann dead were very interested in finding his body, if only to put the incredible stories of his post-war adventures to rest. In 1964, Jochen Von Lang and First Public Prosecutor Joachim Richter dug for the remains of Martin Bormann. A man who claimed to have been forced by the Russians to bury Bormann and Stumpfegger had identified the supposed grave. The man knew the body had been that of Bormann because of the pocketbook found upon the body by the man?s boss. Von Lang verified this story. The man led Von Lang and Richter to the spot where the bodies had lain before he had moved them to the burial site. It was the exact spot where Axmann had testified to having last seen them. Nevertheless, the search revealed nothing. Seven years later the city of Berlin was excavating the area near the suspected grave. Von Lang attended and two bodies were discovered and were identified as those of Bormann and Stumpfegger. They were found thirty-six feet away from the site of the previous search. The dental records recreated from memory by Dr. Hugo Blaschke, in 1945, identified the bodies. A press conference in West Germany announced the discovery of the remains. Since the dental records were recreated from memory their authenticity is questionable. Also, the pocketbook found by the Russians could have been fake or even a diversion. Interestingly enough, those who wished to discredit the find did not attack the dental records. Instead one man wrote that the remains were a clever fake, where a man from a concentration camp had been fitted for Martin Bormann?s dental work. Another disputed on the grounds that according to a Soviet source the Russians had, upon receiving instructions from Moscow, unearthed Bormann from his Berlin grave and reburied him elsewhere in East Germany in an unmarked grave. Both of these reasons seem to be speculated and generally unfounded. The remains were also often jeered at because they were found by a group of ditch diggers. The reason behind this was that the German authorities would not have appreciated the entire area of the speculated grave excavated.
The stories about Martin Bormann?s survival are plentiful and in many cases are quite incredible. In 1961, Dr. Fritz Bauer, a well-known prosecutor of Nazi War Criminals, declared that he was convinced that Bormann was still alive. A flurry of stories about Martin Bormann?s location came into the limelight. A man claimed that he saw Bormann inside a tank in Berlin, not beside, and another stated that he knew exactly where in Argentina that Bormann was living. Another claimed that Bormann had been corresponding with his wife who lived in Italy after the war. These stories turned out not only to be unfounded but the absolute truth still unknown. Many more stories also surfaced. Paul Manning wrote a book about the post-war life of Bormann. He explained that Bormann had escaped to Spain via the Salzburg airport. The bishop of Munich confirmed this story. Manning went on to explain that this living Bormann had been ?largely responsible for West Germany?s post-war economic recovery.? This story, which it ultimately must be called, becomes even more ridiculous when the author begins to speak of the harassment that he received from Martin Bormann?s own private Gestapo. His proof mainly seems to be a photocopy of Bormann?s Argentinean bank account, which seems rather unsubstantial. Unfortunately, Von Lang manages to almost nullify this proof with his discovery that the Argentinean Secret Service was bribed for the mere sum of fifty American dollars.
Another book tells of the theory that Bormann escaped Germany with the help of a submarine. (Coincidentally, some sources do say that Bormann was aboard a submarine sunk by the British. Perhaps this helps prove this theory.) He managed to arrive in Chile and then moved to Argentina and survived with the help of President Peron. Farago then explains to the reader how Ricther (who replaced Joachim Bauer in searching for Bormann) regarded Farago?s information as ? vague? [and] proved useless in our investigation.? The author seems to have discredited himself.
The Soviet KGB assigned a Major L. Besymenski to investigate Martin Bormann. After two years of painstaking research, his report entitled On the Trail of Martin Bormann concluded that Bormann had made a successful escape to South America. This report was written during the Cold War, where, according to many sources, that both sides saw fit to implicate the other in the disappearance of Martin Bormann. Obviously it would be good propaganda to accuse the other side of helping the evil Nazi Empire.
Although many more books have been written on the fantastic adventures of Martin Bormann, after his escape from Berlin, than on his death on that night in May of 1945 the books that depict him surviving seem to be highly fictional. Each one is based upon a conspiracy and circumstantial evidence. The remains that were found in West Germany were, on the other hand, identified to be those of Martin Bormann. Since Bormann was not officially declared to be dead by a West German court but only by a press conference, the remains cannot be known to be one hundred percent truth. The fate of Martin Bormann will most likely never be completely solved but the mystery surrounding his disappearance has intrigued a great many. The legend has been kept alive by Nazi-hunters who want to bring guilty parties to justice which is legitimate. Those who witnessed the evils of the Nazi Party cannot be free of this immorality until everyone involved has been punished.
Bormann, Martin. The Bormann Letters. Ed. H. R. Trevor-Roper. London:
Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1954.
Farago, Ladislas. Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich. New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1974.
Manning, Paul. Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile. Secaucus: Lyle Stuart Inc.,
McGovern, James. Martin Bormann. New York: William Morrow and Company,
Stevenson, William. The Bormann Brotherhood. New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc., 1973.
Telford, Taylor. The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.
Von Lang, Jochen. Bormann: The Man Who Manipulated Hitler. Translated by
Chista Armstrong and Peter White. New York:
Random House, 1979.
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