In January 1945, Germany was crumbling and the brains guiding the floundering Nazi war machine were flocking to Hitler's side in the subterranean stronghold under the Reich Chancellery in battle-scarred Berlin. I was one of those summoned to the German capital to serve on Hitler's staff in the terrible spring of 1945, and became the only non-German to actually work within the Führer's personal headquarters in the Bunker. I will describe for you the incredible days I spent in the Führer bunker, cut off from the outside world, as Adolf Hitler raved against his generals, his armies, his own people and the enemy who was then preparing the death thrust into the heart of the much-vaunted Thousand Year Reich. We lived in the constant shadow of a deranged genius in a chaotic world of our own, out of which have grown a thousand theories and a mass of conflicting stories purporting to tell the fate of Hitler and the elite of the Nazi Party. But I was there, and I can tell you the truth, as I lived it, of those fantastic days.
I know the truth about the reported suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun. I shall tell you of my flight from Berlin under fire from the Russians and my final escape from Germany. And how, after my return to Spain, I assisted in the flight of Adolf Eichmann from Europe after finding him in a Swiss monastery two years after the war ended. Perhaps most important of all, I can now reveal the fate of Martin Bormann, that shadowy eminence who was Hitler's top lieutenant in the halcyon days of the Nazi regime. How do I know these things? Because I was chosen by the under-ground party movement to escort Hitler's top deputy when he made his dramatic dash for freedom beneath the Atlantic in a U-Boat in May 1946.
Many years had passed since I first entered the service of the Nazis. They considered me one of their most trusted agents with access to their closely guarded plans for re-emergence as a world power. I know the power of these men and their underground organization. I have seen the determination with which they plotted their return to power, and have helped with the formation of secret action groups in two continents. They are well organized. The High Command still exists and meets each year in western Germany, where they do not lack support. This then, is my story.
I had been head of the Nazi espionage ring in Spain throughout the war and as such, was one of their most trusted agents, but it was not until January of 1945 when British, American and Russian armies were smashing their way across the borders of the Fatherland, that I was called to the Führer's side. On January 15th, Hitler returned to Berlin from Bad Nauheim, where he had been directing the ill-fated Ardennes Offensive, the last drive of the smashed and demoralized Wehrmacht. After gambling away the remains of the once-invincible Panzer armies, the Führer retreated in a towering rage to the Führerbunker beneath the Reich Chancellery. It was in almost total defeat that Hitler, his enemies closing in from all sides, his defenses overrun and his armies outnumbered, returned to his blitzed and ruined capital.
On the day he returned, I had been working in SS Intelligence Headquarters, close to the old Reichstag. I had then been in Germany for seven months, directing the activities of certain foreign agents abroad. The following day I was informed by SS Commander Willie Oberbeil at that time, my immediate superior in the Intelligence Service that we had been ordered to Hitler's bunker, where we would be responsible for passing our agents' reports directly to the Führer himself. That night, Berlin was subjected to a heavy air raid, and smoke hung over the city as Oberbeil and myself picked our way through streets littered with rubble and broken glass to the Reich Chancellery.
This vast mausoleum-like building, which Hitler had designed himself with the purpose of overawing ambassadors and foreign heads of state who came to pay homage to him in his days of power, was now almost completely destroyed. All that remained was a blackened shell. The great marble walls had collapsed, and the heavily carved doors and costly fittings were scattered about the floors in crazy disorder. At the head of the steps leading into the building, our passes were inspected by a steel-helmeted SS guard, who directed us to a part of the building that was still intact. Another guard ushered us down a narrow staircase leading to a small pantry. We found ourselves led down a second, steeper, flight of steps at the bottom of which was a thick steel door. This was the entrance to the Bunker. It was part of a steel and concrete bulkhead - airtight, watertight, and blast-proof which, when closed, effectively shut off the fifty-foot-deep underground shelter from the outside world.
Our passes were again inspected by a black-uniformed SS sergeant before we were allowed to pass through. The doorway was so narrow we were forced to pass through sideways. We entered into a brightiy lit, low-roofed corridor with a second larger bulkhead midway along on our left. This door opened into the upper Bunker which contained kitchens and servants's quarters. A central corridor, twelve feet wide, was furnished with tables and chairs, and was used as a dining room by the Führer's staff. At the far end of this corridor, a curved concrete stair descended to a second and larger Bunker, where Hitler had his offices and command headquarters.
Oberbeil and I followed the armed guard to the foot of the stairs, which opened into another wide corridor, at the far right of which was a wooden partition and a door guarded by two more SS men. Beyond the door, I discovered, were Hitler's private apartments. As we entered the Führerbunker, a slim, gray-suited man rose from the armchairs lining the walls of the corridor and came towards us. "Good morning, gentlemen," he said, in a piping, well-educated voice. I assumed Willie Oberbeil already knew him for, turning to me, he continued, "I am Colonel Wagner. I am in charge of SS Intelligence down here". He clicked his heels, bowed, and with a thin smile said, "You gentlemen are my staff." He led us through one of two doors leading off to the right into a small room, where two secretaries were busy typing. On the right, behind the door, a third typist was working in a small partitioned cubicle. Finally, Wagner ushered us into our own office. This room had been ordered created by erecting a floor-to-ceiling partition at the far end of the typists' room. It had been put up following Hitler's decision to have a permanent intelligence staff operating within his defense headquarters. The concrete walls of the office had been sprayed with a watery gray paint which did nothing to lessen the dismal appearance of the room, which was cramped and airless. A brand new radio transmitter and receiver, and a decoding machine, had been set against the wall to the right, and there was barely room to move between the desk, filing cabinets and chairs which had been crammed into the eight-foot-by-ten-foot cubicle.
I didn't relish the idea of spending long in this place. It was clear that, should we ever become shut up for any length of time, the lack of space, the stuffy atmosphere, and the strain of working on top of one another would be intolerable. On top of this was the maddening throb which penetrated to every corner of the Bunker. I had become aware of it the moment I had entered, but now, in this office, it was so intense that the wooden partition actually vibrated. Wagner sensed my discomfort. "Do not let the noise upset you. What you hear is the Diesel engine in the next room, on which we depend for our lights and air." In time, I got used to the noise and the cramped conditions and the ever-burning lights, but never the lack of fresh air. There were at least two other large Bunkers beneath the Chancellery and a series of smaller ancillary shelters, used as dormitories by the Bunker personnel. Willie Oberbeil and myself were assigned to one of these cement-walled dormitories, which we shared with sixteen others. It was about fifteen feet below the Chancellery cellars, immediately above the main Bunker. We nicknamed this depressing tomb the "Lager," the German word for camp. The Lager was badly ventilated, and all eighteen of us who slept there were constantly complaining about the claustrophobic effect it had on us.
This unnatural life would have been unbearable had we not been occu- pied by working 16 hours a day. Living like moles, not knowing day from night, and in the Bunker itself, subjected twenty-four hours a day, to the unblinking glare of harsh electric lights, one lived an automatic routine. The absurdity of this existence was illustrated by a little pantomime devised by Hitler to regiment our lives. Each day at noon, a uniformed guard would enter our office, snap rigidly to attention and formally announce: "Today is the 23rd of February" or whatever the date happened to be. Then he would salute, turn sharply around and stamp out. It was laughable, or would have been if laughter, like every other normal show of emotion, had not been a stranger in that place.
The Bunker resembled a giant ant-heap and at times, the hurried coming and going of messengers, officials, officers and their staffs made it difficult to move about inside. There was a universal lack of space. The High Command, with its staff of many hundreds pressed together in this labyrinth of burrows, had, with the usual lack of foresight, failed to provide adequately for such elementary human needs as space to move and breathe. Many nights I woke on my bunk bed in the Lager, half suffocating, and groping my way, afraid, to the roofless Chancellery above. I sucked in great lungfuls of cold night air and longed for the cool breezes of my native Spain. It seemed a lifetime ago that I had last seen my home. It had been six months since I had left Madrid where, for four years, I had organized the activities of a German espionage ring, unhindered either by the Spanish government or the many Allied agents operating in my neutral country. But in June of 1944, I narrowly escaped death at the hands of British and American secret service agents in Madrid, who were attempting to abduct me to England for interrogation.
I had been betrayed by a certain Conrado Blanco, a man whom I had called my friend. He telephoned me in the middle of the night and said that he had a group of highly important men "waiting" for me at his house. . . . "Waiting" for me was the right expression! The door of Blanco's house was ajar when I arrived, and all was silent. I found him in his study. He seemed slightly embarrassed. In that instant, my long experience made me sense that something was wrong. My fears were confirmed by a quiet English voice from behind me. "How good of you to come, Mr. Velasco." I spun around and there behind me, with a smile on his face, was my old foe, the English secret service agent John Fulton. He was joined by two other men I knew to be Allied agents - one American and the other Canadian. Outwardly friendly, they offered me a glass of whiskey which I took. It was while we stood drinking that Fulton announced that he would be taking me back to England. My only comfort was the .32 revolver I had slipped into my jacket pocket before leaving my home. Now was the time to use it. I pulled the pistol from my pocket and fired two shots blindly as I dived for the French windows. I heard them stumbling after me in the darkness as I raced down the garden and scaled the rear wall. I was lucky and found a taxi a few streets away. Although outwardly friendly, I knew Fulton was deadly serious in his plan to abduct me. Every moment I stayed in Madrid, I knew, my life would be in danger. I might not be so lucky the next time. I paused at my home long enough to snatch up a few clothes and papers, and put a call through to my Second-in-Command in Madrid. Explanations weren't necessary. I merely mentioned the code name "Matilda" He knew what to do. "Matilda" was a code word in our ring for an emergency exit from Spain. Within an hour after leaving Blanco's house in the Colonia del Viso district of Madrid, I was being driven in a fast car towards the northwest coast of Spain.
Throughout the war, German U-Boats had been patrolling the Gallegian coast. Now members of my organization had sent a radio message and arranged a rendezvous. After a twenty hour journey, I arrived exhausted in the fishing village of Villagarcia. Waiting for me was a powerful Diesel launch. I tumbled from the car and jumped aboard, and immediately I was being taken out to sea. A few minutes after 0400, the conning tower hatch on the U-Boat clanged shut behind me. I was on my way to Germany. Our destination was Hamburg. During our trip past England, we dived deeply with the crew at battle stations. The U-Boat Captain explained that the area was alive with ships, and we guessed that this must be the assembly point for a huge Atlantic convoy. I experienced the usual depression which grips me on a U-Boat. It was forbidden for men of my profession to mix with members of the armed forces under all but the most exceptional circumstances. And so on a submarine, it was customary for an agent to eat alone, sleep alone and avoid all contact with the officers and crew. It was therefore with a feeling of great relief that I stepped onto the jetty of one of the huge U-Boat pens in Hamburg docks - a feeling which soon evaporated when I saw the shattered state of the city. The night and day pounding by Allied bombers had taken its toll. I saw signs of their marksmanship along every street. That is, where it was still possible to make out where streets had been. For in places, whole blocks had been flattened, roads obliterated and all that remained were piles of rub ble where once had been houses, shops, churches. News of my arrival was radioed ahead. I was contacted by local intelligence and ordered to report to Berlin.
I arrived in the capital, having ridden in the guard's van of a troop train, packed with soldiers heading for the Eastern Front. In Berlin, I was driven to the old Reichstag in a staff car. My orders had been to report to an SS Intelligence unit stationed there. But when I arrived, the whole place was in pandemonium! The officer who was to deal with my case was in a state of great agitation. "What is all the panic?" I asked him. He looked at me incredulously. "Haven't you heard?" he said, shaking his head in wonder. "The Allies have landed in Normandy." I thought immediately of the huge armada of ships we passed during the journey from Spain.
Within a couple of days, when I was set to work with SS Intelligence, I was to handle hundreds of top-secret telegrams from the front. It became clear to me that our armies in France had been taken completely by surprise. Despite that, Field Marshall von Runstedt, Commander-in- Chief in the West, reported the landings were not of major importance. Our Intelligence Service was hourly receiving what claimed to be authentic reports that he was powerless to prevent the full-scale invasion which would surely take place in the next few days. If the much-praised Atlantic Wall had collapsed so easily, it boded ill for Germany's more pregnable fronts farther east.
NOTE: If the handwriting was already on the wall at this stage of the war, do you think it just possible that some of those in positions of great power just might think about putting an escape route into effect? Just maybe? -- Ed.
About the middle of June, I was directed to München, where I was to work in the Foreign section of SS Intelligence and so, equipped with a new passport proclaiming me to be Dr. Juan Gomez, a Spanish doctor of medicine, I caught the train south. Unfortunately, my stay in München was curtailed as the Royal Air Force started to devote their attentions to that city. Every morning, I noticed a change in the skyline as seen from my hotel window. I was therefore not surprised one morning to learn that a blockbuster had demolished the Intelligence Department offices and, after two days of confusion, I was ordered to Köln and our Central Headquarters. I was met in Köln by SS Commander Willie Oberbeil. He was a man in his early forties, of medium height and with a short crop of receding brown hair. He wore thick, steel rimmed glasses. He took me into his office on the fifth floor of the headquarters building and he told me some- thing of what had been decided for my future. The Nazi Party he said, were satisfied with the work I had been doing and now that it was no longer possible for me personally to supervise my organization in Spain, I had been chosen to assist him in his work at Intelligence HQ. I was to work in his office and be responsible for editing a mass of reports that came in daily from agents throughout the world. From me, these reports would be wired direct to the Führer. As Oberbeil outlined my duties, I grasped the significance of what he was saying. I was soon to be given a complete panorama of the work of the Nazi espionage service. Perhaps had I then known what effect this was going to have on my later life, I would have refused this job and walked out on my Nazi masters there and then. But I was flattered by Oberbeil's verbal pat on the back and by the knowledge that the Nazi High Command considered me valuable enough to be entrusted with a position of such responsibility.
My work in Germany showed me the tremendous complexity of their intelligence service, with its spies in every corner of the world. It also showed me for the first time, some of its appalling inefficiencies. I must explain that at this time, the Nazi espionage service was in the process of reorganization. Formerly under the direction of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the service had become so hopelessly unreliable that the whole works was taken over by the SS.
NOTE: After the bomb attempt on Hitler's life in the Wolf's Lair, Canaris was arrested and held in Flossenberg Prisoner Camp until just before the camp was taken by Allied troops. Canaris was hanged by a thin piece of piano wire, actually strangling to death. It was generally accepted that Canaris was anti-Nazi and anti-Hitler, but it remains to be learned if he was also a traitor to Germany and in the pocket of the Soviets, as one rumor states. -- Ed.
A laughable instance of the unreliability of the Intelligence Service under the Abwehr, I discovered for myself, when checking a file referring to Casablanca in Africa, which is the most top secret category. I had been looking for information on President Roosevelt's residence in Washington and was amazed to find several handfuls of papers reporting the activities of Arab sympathizers. The mix-up was obvious. Reports on both subjects had come in Spanish, and Casablanca literally translated means "White House" but no one had troubled to question that there might not be Arabs on Roosevelt's Washington staff!
I settled down to work in Köln but before long, round-the-clock air raids made it almost impossible to carry on. In fact, there wasn't a win dow left in our office when Willie Oberbeil told me: "Good news, Juan. We 're getting out of this hellhole. We 've both been ordered to Berlin." And he waved a coded telegram jubilantly in front of my face. But I did not share Willie's joy. From what I had seen of the capital a couple of months earlier, I fancied that Berlin would be no more pleasant than Köln and I was right. I worked out the last months of 1944 in a drafty, comfortless room behind the old Reichstag in Berlin. I cannot remember clearly Christmas Day 1944; except that everyone drank a little too much. The Führer's name was toasted in a wave of optimism, following the early success of the Ardennes offensive, which he promised would drive the Allies back to the sea. Instead, it drove him back to Berlin, and Oberbeil and myself found ourselves summoned back to the Bunker. Within a few days of arriving in the Bunker with Oberbeil, I was to be called into that Holy of Holies, Hitler's private office, to be questioned by the Führer himself.
All through my stay in Germany, I had been receiving a trickle of reports from our men in the United States and South America of a new American secret weapon. Although no details were forthcoming, the reports hinted at an entirely new type of bomb of devastating destructive power. At the same time, I understood that the Nazi scientists were working desperately to design a workable nuclear warhead for our V-2 rockets. However, our hopes were crushed after Allied bombers totally destroyed German atomic research laboratories in Norway and Prussia. It was becoming obvious that the Americans would win the race to perfect this hideous weapon; the first atomic bomb. It was in connection with one of our reports from the United States that the Führer sent for me. One morning in the last week of January, Oberbeil burst into our office, highly excited and spoke to me so rapidly in German that I had difficulty catching what he said. When he finally ran out of breath, I asked him to repeat his message. "You are ordered to report to Hitler immediately," he said. "He wishes to question you personally regarding the reliability of one of our agents. Now come and follow me, quickly."
This was not the first time I had seen Hitler face to face. Eighteen months earlier I had stood at rigid attention while he decorated me, a Spanish subject, with the Iron Cross for my services to the Nazi cause. Yet, as I followed Oberbeil in the direction of Hitler's office, I found myself unconsciously straightening my tie and smoothing my hair into place. Entering this inner sanctum [Hitler's private office and apartments in the Führerbunker] was a complicated business. One had to have an express order, signed by the Führer himself personally, to get in. This was examined by an SS sergeant of the Führer's personal bodyguard before one could be admitted beyond the partitioned wall of the main conference corridor. The fact that Oberbeil was an officer of the SS made no difference; only someone personally referred to in the Führer's signed order could pass. Having satisfied this guard, we went through into a passage where there was a large wooden table with some 15 or 18 chairs arranged around its sides. To the left, three doors opened off the corridor. The middle one was blocked by a huge SS guard. He too scrutinized our passes. He told us to sit down and wait, and disappeared into the room at his back. He came back a moment later and announced: "The Führer will see you immediately."
When I crossed the threshold of his map room, Adolf Hitler was sitting at his desk. He looked shrunken and indescribably aged. His light brown uniform jacket, the Nazi party dress he almost always wore, hung from his shoulders like a shroud.
After Hitler became the leader of the Nazi Party, he began acquiring paramilitary-like titles and using Nazi Party paramilitary uniforms to denote his position. Hitler's main title within the Nazi Party was simply that of Führer [leader] and there was never any special uniform designed for Hitler's position. The brown Nazi Party uniform that Hitler is most often associated with was a paramilitary uniform of the SA and denoted Hitler's position as Oberste SA-Führer. In the late 1920s, Hitler occasionally wore a black uniform, but this was during a period when Hitler was emulating Benito Mussolini.
Hitler was, by default as Führer, the supreme commander of every Nazi paramilitary organization, but he never adopted extra ranks in these organizations nor did he have special uniforms to denote his position [for instance, there was no special SS uniform or insignia for Hitler, even though he was considered SS member #1 and outranked Heinrich Himmler].
When World War II began, Hitler appointed himself to the unique title "First Soldier of the German Reich" (Erster Soldat des Deutschen Reiches) and began wearing a gray military jacket with Swastika Eagle sewn on the upper left sleeve [contrary to anachronistic depictions in movies and popular culture, Hitler did not wear a brown Nazi party uniform at any point during World War II ].
Such was the power and personality of this man that one always expected to see someone of giant proportions, but in this setting his smallness was emphasized by the size of the desk at which he sat. It was an enormous piece of furniture, littered with trays, each stacked with bundles of papers. Four telephones, all of them black, clustered within easy reach of his right hand. The walls to the left and right of the door were lined by slanting tables covered with maps. Three high-ranking Wehrmacht officers were working on them, fixing brightly colored pins according to the instructions contained in military directives to which they referred from time to time. These men did not even glance up as Oberbeil and myself entered. Two chairs had been placed facing Hitler's desk and the Führer motioned me to sit down while Oberbeil remained standing just inside the door.
I studied Hitler, fascinated. His head did not seem to be fixed firmly on his shoulders but wobbled alarmingly as he talked. He appeared to have little control over its movement. His left arm, which rested on the side of his leather chair throughout the interview, did not move once the whole time I was there. But his right hand and arm trembled violently. Compared to the A-bomb, our new weapons, the flying bombs and rockets, seemed like nursery toys. Hitler revealed no clue to his thoughts, but he studied the report again for a full minute before he asked: "You are quite sure that if this information had not been correct, then our agent would not have transmitted?" "Yes, absolutely, my Führer," I replied. Until that moment, his speech had been slow and without emotion; the hesitant throaty voice of an exhausted man. But now, having thought a few moments longer, he seemed to come to a decision. His manner changed abruptly. Staring wildly at me, his eyes bulging horribly from their sockets, he rasped: "You will contact this man immediately. Find out the date of the first full-scale tests and the place where they will occur." His voice rising with each word, he went on: "I want to know how many of these devices the enemy possesses. How am I expected to make decisions without knowing the facts?" As he spoke, the fingers of his right hand beat a sharp tattoo on the desktop. I tried to answer calmly, but my heart was beating so hard against my ribs that I thought he must surely detect my fear of him. "I am not sure how soon I can get this information," I told him. "I realize the urgency, my Führer, but even so it might take our agent several weeks to procure this kind of information." Even as I spoke, I wondered if I might have provoked him into one of his fits of screaming and abuse, which were the horror of anyone called in to see him. But I was fortunate. Hitler stopped his finger tapping abruptly as if making an effort to control himself. When he answered, his voice had sunk to its former low-pitched level. "I appreciate the difficulties in carrying out my order, Doktor Gomez," he said flatly. "But I cannot stress too highly the importance of receiving this information quickly. I am sure our friends in America will realize this too." He nodded and became absorbed in other documents on his deck.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and half turning in my chair, saw Oberbeil standing beside me. He beckoned and walked towards the door. I stood up, saluted the bowed figure behind the desk, received a slight jerk of his right hand in acknowledgment - the interview was over. I turned on my heel and followed Oberbeil into the corridor. I left that office with mixed emotions; frightened and for the first time, unsure of my leader. I was at the same time, filled with such a great feeling of affection and loyalty as not to know which of my emotions to trust. What was it about this man, I thought, which made otherwise strong-willed men follow him blindly? I think it was the power of his eyes. There was something uncanny about them. He could inspire confi dence in his followers and turn enemies into friends, merely, it seemed, by looking at them. He was not tall, of muscular build, or even handsome. Although he could, when he chose, be charming, he was for the most part unnecessarily rude to those around him and was possessed of a cruel streak and delighted in wanton destruction when he thought it necessary - which was often. Yet when it came to his own self-destruction, Hitler failed, as only a handful of people, including myself, know. I was glad to get out of his office without inadvertently rousing him to one of his screaming tantrums, which were always liable to erupt, with little provocation. I have known brave men utterly demolished by one of these maniacal diatribes, though I have never witnessed one myself. But I shall never forget the day when Colonel SS Rudolf Wagner, my Intelligence Chief in the Bunker, staggered into our office, pale and shaking, after attending one of the Führer's stormy conferences. Wagner's face was grey with shock. He leaned on the half open door, his eyes closed. "God help us all," he gasped. "Hitler is mad. We are in the hands of a homicidal maniac." The man standing before me sobbed out the words over and over again and then sank, tears streaming down his cheeks, into a chair in front of my desk. Colonel SS Wagner, Chief of the Intelligence Department in the Berlin Bunker, had just returned from one of Hitler's daily conferences.
It was March 1945. I had been in the Führerbunker beneath the Berlin Reich Chancellery for just eight weeks, having been forced to flee my native Spain. In my own country, I had been Chief of the Nazi espionage ring, but left hurriedly when enemy agents tried to kidnap me. In the eight weeks I'd been in the Reich Capital, I had been reduced to a shadow of my former self, my nerves in shreds, irritable and jumpy. The ceaseless pounding of bombs on the city fifty feet above our heads, the fear that the rapidly advancing Russian Army might, at any moment, over-run us, and the knowledge that I was closeted in the Bunker with a madman had undermined my physical and mental health to such an extent that I was no longer able even to sleep. Wagner was in even worse shape. Looking at him now, slumped across my desk with his head buried in his hands, I knew that he had reached his limit. I glanced across at Willie Oberbeil, the SS Commander, who was the third member of our team. The sight of Wagner had obviously upset him, and he crouched over his desk, nervously biting the backs of his knuckles. Our eyes met for a moment before he glanced away. I waited, sick and embarrassed, until Wagner pulled himself together sufficiently to tell us what had happened in the Führer's conference. Puffing nervously on the cigarette I had lit for him, Wagner told us simply, "Hitler has ordered the complete destruction of Germany and the German people. He claims the nation has proved itself weak and therefore does not deserve to survive." So this was it. Hitler had finally recognized that our position was hopeless. He had accepted defeat. And now, with this "scorched earth" policy, he meant to ensure that nothing of any value would be left to the armies now gathering for their final thrusts into the Third Reich. "There is no need,' the Führer had said, 'to consider the basis of even a most primitive existence any longer." I could not believe that any German would take this spiteful, lunatic order seriously. To me, as to Wagner, it seemed like the final proof that Hitler was mad.
In fact, this order was never totally carried out, thanks to the sanity of men like Albert Speer, the Reich Industrial Minister. Even though he had served the Nazi cause since the beginnings of their power, he clearly saw the catastrophic possibilities of "scorched earth." But from the babel of orders and counter-orders which flowed in and out of the Bunker in those last desperate days, it was clear that there was one man at least who was determined to put the Führer's policy into action - Martin Bormann! Early in my days in the Bunker, I'd become fascinated by this man. He seemed to move almost unnoticed among the strutting Nazi hierarchy. He was a quiet man, not given to powerful speeches or death-defying slogans like the Bunker's other powerful occupant, Josef Göbbels. And yet, there was no doubting his tremendous power. Here was Hitler's most faithful lieutenant, his most adamant supporter - the grey eminence behind the throne. His quietness was deceptive. Although almost unknown outside the immediate circle of Nazi rule, he had succeeded in usurping the influence of men like Himmler and even Göring, now a discredited and untrusted buffoon. Bormann's secret of success seemed to be his constant presence. Hitler could hardly have turned around in those days without finding the attentive Bormann at his elbow. And such ready attention was to pay off for Martin Bormann. Before the end, he was to take charge, even over his old master.
When Hitler unleashed his "scorched earth" policy, it was Bormann who reinforced it with a series of dreadful orders. On March 23, he decreed that the whole population of Germany - men, women, children, slave laborers and prisoners of war - were to be rounded up and force-marched to Berlin. Had that order been carried out, the result would have been mass starvation. He must have been aware that millions would have died. But knowing Martin Bormann as I do, I doubt whether any such appeals on the grounds of humanity would have affected him. I came into contact with this shadowy man only rarely while in the Bunker. Yet on the few occasions when I did see him, I was struck by his apparent determination, his power and his dedication to the Führer. Even then it crossed my mind that if there was one man who might keep the flag of Nazism flying even after defeat in war, that man would be Martin Bormann. And events proved me right.
Now, as March slipped by, the military situation grew more and more desperate. The Red Army had smashed its way through Prussia, the British were thrusting into Northern Germany and the American armies were gathering for their thrust deep into the heart of the Reich. The mes- sages we handled were a catalogue of gloom, with only the occasional local success to revive our sinking spirits. Days and nights became meaningless, the atmosphere among the staff in the Bunker alternated between resignation and fear, and visitors to the Bunker dwindled to four or five a day. Always there was Bormann, with his own quarters and his own staff in a separate Bunker under the Chancellery, but the impression I got was that fewer and fewer Nazi officials and Generals were risking a trip to Berlin and the ominous threat of the advancing Russians. They knew that above all, the Russians would exact awful retribution from the Nazis they so bitterly hated. And the hope that the remnants of our best Panzer Divisions would be able to hold off the Red Army from seizing Berlin were now crumbling.
One morning, I was sitting at my overcrowded desk talking to Wagner and Oberbeil when the teleprinter began to click. Wagner rose and went over to the machine. He ripped out a two-line message, which was in code and had to be fed into the deciphering unit. Then Wagner read it. He froze for a moment, then with a sudden burst of fury, he screwed the paper into a ball and threw it into the corner. "Oh, the bastards!" he snarled, smashing his fist down on the table. "The lousy bastards!" Oberbeil went over and picked the ball of paper off the floor and smoothed it out. "We shall have to communicate this to the Führer, whatever it is," he said as he did so. Wagner rounded on him. "What are we to communicate? Everything is lost, you fool!" and he collapsed into a chair. Oberbeil showed me the message. It told us that our defenses had been smashed and the Red Army was fighting its way into Berlin. The news, although it had been expected, stunned the Bunker. We could do little except pray that the Russians did not take us prisoner. It was like living in a madhouse. By now I was thoroughly frightened. But it was nothing to be ashamed of - everyone else around me was frightened too.
Since the heavy bombardment of Berlin had begun in March, morale had sunk almost to zero. The whole Bunker trembled continually. Bombing by aircraft was going on around the clock and had been for six weeks and now, as the Russians closed in, the perceptibly different noise of artillery shelling added to the general din. We could definitely tell the difference between the explosions of shells and bombs. The shells we heard - but the bombs we could feel. During really heavy raids, it became necessary when drinking coffee to hold the cup firmly with both hands to prevent its spilling. Now and again even our emergency supply of electricity would be cut, plunging us into total darkness. It was then the urge to scream out loud became really terrible. I can think of only one reason, in fact, why I didn't go raving mad in that bombarded rat hole. It was that we were all encouraged, often instructed, to take drugs in the form of pills which, it was claimed, would make us feel optimistic. No drug could have done that but the stimulant we took might have been the reason we carried on. They certainly worked on Wagner for short spells, but he took them in handfuls. Willie Oberbeil and myself were more wary. Even so, when I had to do without them after being interned in a Swiss refugee camp, I found my nerves in shreds and I quickly became depressed to the point of suicide.
Perhaps the only message which brought any consolation to those in the Bunker the last days, was the startling news we received on April 13. We learned that President Franklin Roosevelt had died. Oddly enough, Wagner was instructed to contact Intelligence headquarters in the stronghold of Rottach am Egern in southern Germany, to ask if we had any hand in it. The answer came back: "No, it was a normal death." The news of the American leader's death was seized on in the Bunker both as a sign of a change in our fortunes and as an event which would lead to our salvation, even at this eleventh hour. I heard that Dr. Göbbels confidently predicted that, with Roosevelt out of the way, the Allies would now wake up to the threat of Russia dominating Europe and would quickly end hostilities against Germany and join us in the fight against the Red hordes. According to reports which had come into the Bunker earlier in the year from our agents in the United States, it was Roosevelt who snuffed any hopes the Nazis had that the Russians would be kept out of Berlin. Even then it was quite clear that, had they wanted to, the Americans and British could easily have won the race to the Reich capital. But Roosevelt, we were told, had already had secret talks with Stalin without the knowledge or approval of the British and French in which the Americans had agreed that the Russians take the capital. We were informed that, privately, the President regarded the Russians as the only people fit to do the dirty job of taking Berlin. The Russians, he said, were savages and he was perfectly happy to let them take Berlin. The Americans wanted no part of it. And he further agreed with the Russians, our agents said, just how Germany would be partitioned when hostilities ended. Accordingly, instructions were issued to the Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, direct from the White House, ordering him to slow the advance of the British and American armies into Germany. The Russians must be given time to take Berlin and do their "dirty work." Therefore, in contradiction of his Field Generals Patton and Montgomery, Eisenhower put on the brakes on the drive for Berlin.
But now, with Roosevelt dead, Nazi hopes were rising that the Allies in the west would resume their push to the capital. Regrettably for Germany - and as it turned out, for the rest of the world - this never happened. One effect of this American failure was to make it easier for me to escape Germany. And not only for me, but for many Nazi leaders who fled across the borders to Switzerland. Had they seized their opportunities, the Allies might well have captured the man who was destined to continue preaching our Nazi creed long after the war was over - Martin Bormann himself! But these considerations hardly worried us as we waited there in the besieged Bunker in April 1945. On the 15th of that month, the Bunker received one of its most interesting visitors.
Eva Braun was as different from the popular image of a dictator's mistress as one could imagine. She came from a simple middle-class family . . . and she was a simple, middle-class person. This woman, pretty rather than beautiful, had in her twelve years courtship spent little more than a few weeks alone with Hitler since their first meetings in a photographer's studio in 1933. And now, with the Führer alternately raving at the break-up of his empire and directing impossible orders at the badly mauled armies, she found it no less difficult to have him to herself. It is difficult to say what she did with herself in the Führerbunker. She came in with no luggage but carrying a fur coat, and disappeared beyond the door to Hitler's personal quarters. I saw her only once more.
On April 16, Wagner ordered Oberbeil and myself to remove all the office records from their files. Box by box was carried them into an adjoining room where they were burned in a boiler. Even then, those reports which arrived during the following few days were destroyed as soon as they had been read by Hitler. On the 21st, we were finally ordered to evacuate the Bunker. An hour before we were told, I had gone upstairs to the upper level of the Bunker and I saw Martin Bormann arrive. His face was stern, his uniform had been torn and spattered with mud - which gave support to a rumor in the Bunker that he had been personally directing rear guard action of our troops in Berlin. He entered the Bunker in a hurry, ignoring the greetings of those Party officials standing, waiting for him in the entrance corridor. I followed him downstairs and, as I stopped to enter my own office, I saw him brush aside the SS guard outside the door to Hitler's quarters, and stride in. From the look of unsmiling resolve on his face, I got the impression that he had arrived at some important decision. But even this did nothing to sweeten the air of defeat which hung like a shroud around the Bunker. A state of mind which was summed up in a phrase which I heard more and more often: "All is Lost Except Honor."
Bormann was closeted with the Führer when Wagner joined Oberbeil and myself in our office and announced: "Today will be our last day in the Bunker, gentlemen." He sat on his deck and handed around cigarettes. Then, in a steady voice, more composed than he'd been for many weeks, he went on: "Our work here is finished. There is nothing left for us to do." "Nothing?" I queried. "No. At least, not here. I have been told that we are leaving for another part of the Reich. I imagine we shall continue our work there," Wagner replied. Then he strode out of the office and left us to our own thoughts. Mine turned around the problem of how we would ever get out of Berlin alive. I was technically a neutral citizen, but I had a strong suspicion that Russian shells did not respect neutrality and that if I were captured by Soviet troops, I would be shot anyway. But, however great the odds against living in that battleground upstairs, I was perfectly willing to take them; anything rather than die in this hole in the ground. I must have been in my office for some two hours after Wagner's announcement when I heard the sounds of unusual activity in the central corridor of the Bunker. I went out and looked. I was in time to see Martin Bormann leaving Hitler's quarters in company with General Zimmermann and half a dozen other men, most of them out of uniform. Bormann seemed much more relaxed than he had on entering, and I even saw him smile weakly at some remark of Zimmermann's. From the other end of the corridor, a group of officers had entered and now stood in groups along both sides of the corridor. One group stood within a yard of me and it was in front of these officers that Zimmermann stopped and spoke. He told them: "The war is not lost. Although the situation is both heavy and dangerous, I am convinced that the faith and courage of the Wehrmacht will enable us to make a last stand which will, I am sure, oblige the Allies to await negotiations."
Despite the patriotic assurances of this SS general, the officers near me received his words with little enthusiasm. I could see from their faces they quite plainly did not believe a word he said. But Bormann seemed in a hurry to get away and took the General by the arm to lead him toward the stairs and the exit from the Bunker. Another two hours passed - though to me, anxious to leave, it seemed like two years - before anything more happened. There was another commotion in the corridor outside and once more I went to investigate. This time I counted about thirty officers and officials standing in small groups along the corridor. Now and again, they glanced towards the door leading to Hitler's quarters, outside which the SS guard still stood, impassively, to attention. Somewhere, an unseen radio crackled an announcement. I caught only these words: "The Führer . . ." before someone switched it off. I sensed that something big was about to happen. Moments later, the door of the Führer's quarters opened and Eva Braun appeared. A fur coat was folded over her arm and in her right hand, she was holding a black vanity case. Behind her came two young girls in civilian clothes, and an elderly woman followed by three uni formed SS officers carrying cases. Eva Braun had changed terribly in the few days since I had seen her. She seemed to be sleepwalking. Her hair was tangled and uncombed, and the rings beneath her eyes were dark and startling as if she had not slept for days. Her eyes were lifeless, as if all life had been drained from her. She walked slowly along the corridor, turning to murmur a vague "Goodbye" to some of the men who now lined the corridor and were looking at her incredulously. Her feet appeared to drag and scuff along the floor, as if walking was an effort. After nerve-wracking minutes, she reached the foot of the stairs where a young colonel stepped forward and took her arm. She gave him a quick, weak smile and leaning heavily on him, disappeared from sight.
The last of my courage seemed to go with her and at that moment, I felt like the greatest coward in the world. To me, this tragic figure was a living symbol of our defeat. Hardly had she disappeared when the door of the conference room opened again and Hitier himself appeared in the doorway. A group of generals, Keitel and Jodl among them, and GrossAdmiral Dönitz, followed close behind him. The Führer shuffled down the corridor, his left leg dragging slightly, shaking hands with every one of us assembled there.
Hitler meets Großadmiral Dönitz
in the Führerbunker, April 1945
NOTE: At this point in Don Angel's letter, I thought we had caught him in a lie. We did not think that Admiral Dönitz could be in Berlin at that late stage of the war. I telephoned Peter-Erich Cremer (Sharkhunters member number 114-1985). He was head of the personal guard of Dönitz at Flensburg, and so should have personal knowledge. I did not give him any specific date - I only asked if Admiral Dönitz was in Berlin anytime in March or April of 1945. He said very quickly that it was not possible for Dönitz to be in Berlin in those months because he was in Flensburg, commanding the navy, and Berlin was under constant siege and nearly encircled by the Red Army. At this point, I believed that Don Angel was lying. I put his letter into a file and went on about my work. Two days later, "Ali" Cremer called me back from his home in Germany. He said that he had looked at his personal notebook of the war years and he told me that GrossAdmiral Dönitz WAS in the Führerbunker over 21 April. I had not given him a date in my earlier question, only "March or April" and he told me this precise date as claimed by Don Angel. I realized that the letter from Don Angel was not a lie, and I pulled it again from its dusty file. -- Ed.
Hitler's complete degeneration was there in every movement he made. He was like a puppet without strings, an empty shell of a man whose power alone prevented his complete collapse. Step by step he moved nearer - pausing in front of each of my companions for a hand-shake and a mumbled word. My eyes were glued on him; fascinated. I who had thrilled to his stirring oratory and responded to his call to war could hardly believe that this hobbling creature had come so close to rul ing the world. Yet when he came to me and I held his limp, thin hand in mine, I felt a great force like an electric shock in my arm. It was as if all his distress and sickness were being passed into me. His eyes were downcast and when he spoke, his voice was so low I could hardly catch his words. I craned forward lest he had some vital message of hope and encouragement. But all he said was: "Where goes this man without a motive?" To this day, I don't know what he meant, but considering the situation then, he could hardly have muttered more apt words. He turned away from me. He stumbled, and Keitel and Admiral Dönitz leapt forward and took him under the armpits to stop him falling. But with a tremendous effort, Hitler shrugged them away and continued down the corridor without assistance. Throughout this funereal walk, he waved his right hand aimlessly. It was as if he was trying to say: "My dear friends, excuse me". I, and I imagine everyone else, had been expecting some kind of excuse or explanation ... some word to tell us what was to happen now. But there was nothing. Bormann had promised that the Führer would find some way of pulling through, but now it was plain to us all that neither Hitler; a finished and broken old man on the evidence of my own eyes; not Bormann; nor anyone else believed this promise any longer. Indeed Bormann, who for so long had diligently worked in Hitler's shadow night and day, was conspicuous by his absence.
It was believed by some of the bunker staff that Bormann in collusion with Dönitz was attempting to negotiate with the Russians. Wagner himself told me this, adding: "It is probably the only way of getting free of this cemetery in which we are living." He did not seem to question the rights and wrongs of it. Survival was all that mattered. But I, who later heard Bormann condemn the Communists and all they stood for, could not accept that this fervent could betray us so easily to the enemy. As he told me himself, eight months after the War ended: "I was not concerned that day with making excuses for Adolf Hitler. I was only concerned with saving his life." And he told me then: "Our Führer can still unify Germany and make it free from spiritual and geographical division." From what Bormann told me and from what I saw in those last hours in the Bunker I have almost satisfied myself as to what actually happened to Hitler. I know that many people who remained in the Bunker after I have left have given their own explanation of what took place there and their accounts are possibly more acceptable than mine. In fact, I do not attempt to discredit them. But on the evidence as I know it, this is my reconstruction.
A few minutes after Hitler had disappeared up the steps leading out of the Führerbunker I saw for myself a man who bore a startling resemblance to Hitler in stature and facial features being escorted by three uniformed SS officers into the Führer's private apartments. It was commonly accepted that there was on the Führer's staff, a man who was said to be his double. In conversations with Bormann, he was insistent that Hitler had been removed from the Bunker under the influence of drugs on April 21st - the day I shook hands with him in the Bunker corridor. Bormann would not give me any explanation as to how many apparently reliable witnesses had claimed to have seen and spoken to Hider in the Bunker right up until his reported suicide on April 30th, except to say that as creator of the Hitler suicide myth he had seen to it that all participants had been carefully briefed. It is only left to me to believe that it was Hitler's double who, nine days after I left, was destined to play this most important role in the history of Nazism. It was this man who was shot through the mouth and whose body, dressed in Hitler's uniform, was burned alongside that of Eva Braun in the Chancellery garden that same afternoon. I cannot swear to the truth of this story. I was not there. But seven years later I was to witness an incredible scene which was to reinforce my view that Adolf Hitler did not die in Berlin in April 1945.
Three hours after shaking hands with Adolf Hitler I left the Reichbunker and staggered up to ground level into a scene of the most appalling confusion and noise. Russian artillery was pounding Berlin to ruins. The capital seemed on fire. The sky itself was dark but the jagged outlines of the battered city showed starkly against a red backcloth of fire. I lay close to a bomb shattered wall in the burnt out ruin of the Chancellery, waiting for a lull in the heavy shellfire from the Russian lines half a mile away. It didn't seem possible for one to live in this inferno - but in a momentary lull, a voice yelled in my ear: "Come on! Run!" and I was jerked onto my feet. I recognized the voice of Colonel SS Wagner, Chief of Intelligence in Hitler's underground headquarters. With him was Commander SS Willie Oberbeil and together the three of us stumbled across the cratered ruins of the Chancellery garden. Wagner took the lead and we pounded after him. Staggering and occasionally sprawling, we scrambled over mounds of shattered masonry which littered the darkened streets outside. I might have been running for three minutes or three hours. I was so frightened that afterwards I found I could not reckon in terms of time, only of terror. The streets of Berlin were full of dead and dying men and women, rubble and dirt and broken scaffolding. But around us the spattering of machine gun fire drove us on. I did not know how far I ran or where I was going. But suddenly the shadowy figure ahead of me stopped and seconds later, friendly hands were guiding me into the back seat of a large, black Mercedes. I fell into a deep leather seat, not knowing what was happening, only glad to be alive. I felt rather than saw Oberbeil slump into the seat by my side, followed by Wagner and a fourth man unknown to me. The steel-helmeted driver let in the clutch and the powerful car surged forward. The great exodus from Berlin had begun.
Although the capital was lost, the brains of the Nazi party remained intact. Three hours earlier, I had watched Hitler shuffle his way out of the Bunker, attended by his Generals and personal staff. My spirits could not have been lower. For me, this seemed the end. My Nazi masters were defeated and the cause which I had followed with so much enthusiasm seemed crushed beyond repair. After Hitier's strange behavior, I found the Bunker even more oppressive than usual and was relieved when Wagner announced we were leaving. He told Oberbeil and me that by the morning everyone of importance would be gone. But at this time, there seemed to me little point in running away. The messages I had seen the previous week spelled only one thing - Germany had suffered total defeat. Yet here I was, being driven, apparently unhindered, out of Berlin. I had no idea where we were going, but the simple fact that there was still somewhere to go helped to repair my badly damaged faith. But we were far from safe. The Russians by this time had almost entirely surrounded Berlin. Only the southwestern sector was still in the hands of the Germans.
Several platoons of our troops backed by Artur Axmann's Hitler Youth battalions had succeeded in holding off the enemy long enough for us to make our escape No one spoke as we twisted and turned through the city's back streets. Anxiously we watched for signs of enemy troops who might yet end our bid for freedom. Many streets were partially blocked where blitzed buildings had collapsed. Three times we were forced to stop and claw a way through the rubble with our bare hands. Once our driver careened straight over a three foot mound of bricks and broken concrete. Once clear of the deserted suburbs, our driver stopped the car. He told us it would be safer to wait for the others before going on to Munich. Within ten minutes, headlights flashed on the road behind, illuminating a convoy of about eighteen other cars coming in our direction.
NOTE: When the top brass said they would fight to the last man; do you think they really meant they would fight to the last of everyone else while they and their families escaped? Keep reading - the defeat of Germany was anticipated more than a year before it finally ended and those at the top made sure that as many of them as possible could escape. Keep reading as this well-planned and well-executed escape operation becomes apparent. -- Ed.
The last I saw of Berlin was a smudgy glow on the skyline. The sound of gunfire had died to a distant rumble and with the immediate danger behind me, I took stock of my companions. At my side, little Oberbeil was complaining that he had lost his spectacles and could not see. Wagner was examining a deep gash in his right ankle - he had caught it on a half buried girder on our sprint from the Bunker. And our other passenger, a round faced and pot bellied SS Colonel, his uniform crumpled and stained, was still sprawled in the seat where he had fallen. Fear and unaccustomed physical exertion had left him exhausted. I found a half finished pack of cigarettes in my pocket and passed them around. Only when I came to light my own did I discover how badly I was shaking. We continued south throughout the night, and dawn found us rushing through the German countryside, fresh and pleasant in contrast to the hell we had left behind us in the night. Only now, in daylight, did I realize the extent of our getaway operation. We were the last car of a convoy of nearly two dozen vehicles. Practically all the key men who had staffed the Bunker in those last desperate weeks were here. The nucleus of the Nazi High Command was moving en bloc to the last stronghold of the Thousand Year Reich. Many of them were destined to arrive.
Death swooped from the clear blue sky in the shape of a British fighter patrol. In seconds, the air was full of exploding cannon shells. Our driver braked and swerved into a hedgerow as the leading car of the convoy vanished in an eruption of flame. I threw myself from the car and fought my way into the hedge. I was dimly conscious of the screams of the wounded above the roar of the aircraft engines, and saw a burst of fire from one of the planes above, cut a swath of death less than a yard in front of me. I didn't see what happened to the others - I hugged the ground with my belly, my head buried in my hands. In that kind of situation you don't worry about the others. The world ends with the person by your side; the rest cease to exist. It was all over in a minute; yet in that minute 23 people had died and at least a dozen others lay badly wounded along the roadside. Ten of the cars were destroyed completely. Some of the less badly wounded, we took in the remaining cars, but the rest we left behind, wrapped in blankets and greatcoats, hoping that our own ambulance service or the Allied Red Cross would discover and take care of them.
For a time, we didn't feel like talking and once again I was thankful just to be alive. But soon my mind began to sort out the tremendous events I had witnessed in the past few days. Suddenly the SS Colonel, his name I believe was Lachner, broke into my thoughts and caught the attention of us all. "The Führer wanted nothing more than to be left to die with his people," he shrilled "But Bormann wanted him out alive." I felt Wagner stiffen and Oberbeil peering intently at the Colonel. It was obvious he knew a lot more than we did about Hitler's fate. "Bormann had left orders that the Führer was to be drugged, by force if necessary, and taken out of Berlin. That's what happened." Lachner, who had held a responsible position close to Bormann in the Party Chancellery, told us the full story of what had happened. When Bormann appeared at the Bunker the last time, Hitler was still determined to stay and if necessary, prepared to die defending the capital with the phantom legions which, by then, existed only in his mind. But Bormann had already assumed command and gave orders that both Hitler and Eva Braun were to be evacuated from the Bunker. They were both forcibly drugged with, it turned out, fatal results for Eva Braun. As Lachner spoke, I recalled Hitler's ashen grey face and his stutter which had been even more pronounced than usual. I had assumed his appearance had been due to the strong emotion he must have felt on leaving Berlin - but now it seemed more likely due to the side effects of the drugs he had been given.
The knowledge that Bormann had countermanded the Führer's last wish left us stunned. It seemed incredible that Martin Bormann, the man who had been Hitler's faithful lieutenant for twenty years, could perform such a "volte face." I had to wait almost a year to hear, from Bormann himself, the true reason for this seeming piece of treachery. Our flight across Germany lasted almost twenty hours. I still have a vague picture of the shattered towns and the blank faced people we passed on the long drive south. As the hours dragged past, Lachner grew more and more voluble, chattering endlessly on and on about the back-stage intrigue at Hitler's court. Lachner was insistent that many of Hitler's worst blunders were due to the misguided advice he was given by a covey of astrologers whom he regularly consulted. Some years after the war, I myself discovered how the British Secret Service had managed to bribe the so-called prophets and gave them certain information to pass on to the Führer in the form of predictions. An English Secret Service agent told me that without their advice, Hitler would never have attacked Russia. If this were true, and I had no reason then or now to doubt it, then this can be considered as probably the biggest single triumph in the long history of espionage.
As dusk on the evening of April 22nd, our depleted convoy arrived at its destination - Rottach am Egern; Germany's natural redoubt in the Bavarian mountains. It was here the Nazis planned to make their last stand against the advancing Allies. And as we approached the heavily guarded mountain fortress, I recalled the words of General SS Zimmermann, that here we might yet win an honorable peace. Long queues of vehicles waited to pass through the checkpoints along the road. At each point, we were thoroughly scrutinized by SS guards, and stage by stage, we penetrated deeper and higher into the redoubt; each car directed to its different section according to the number hastily painted on the sides. We were told to follow a narrow rutted track which wound us up the steep incline from the foot of one of the mountains. The driver finally pulled up outside the entrance to a tunnel, guarded by more SS men with sub-machine guns. Without a word, a young lieutenant led us through a steel doored entrance into a miniature Bunker - smaller but similar in layout to the Führbunker in Berlin. For the first time in two days, our small intelligence unit was alone again; Lachner having left us at the main barrier of Rottach am Egern to rejoin his colleagues in another section.
We had been allocated a tiny office near the Bunker entrance, the new headquarters for Nazi Germany's espionage work. Wagner exploded when he saw our miserable quarters. Apart from a heavy wooden table and four hard backed chairs, the room was completely bare. We were equipped neither with radio nor transmitter or files, code books and the necessary paraphernalia for our job, yet we were expected to cope, we discovered, with the escape plans of some of Nazi Germany's leading figures.
NOTE: When some of the leaders said they would fight to the last man, perhaps they meant they would fight to the last Sergeant while they got out safely. Did they have a very elaborate safety net in place for the escape of themselves and their own families? Read on; see what you think. -- Ed.
Escape from Germany
Fortunately, one of Wagner's angry outbursts brought quick results and 24 hours after our arrival, a powerful radio trans mitter and receiver was set up in a comer of our office. In the week that followed we received and transmitted orders for the escape from Germany of dozens of top officials in the Nazi Party. Who most of them are, I shall never know. To me they were just code names on a piece of paper. But it was obvious that this mass escape had been planned a long time before. Our two main escape routes out of Germany led through the Swiss border towns of Feldkirch and Kempten. Of these, the latter was far the safest route as our agent there was a member of the local Communist Party - a Nazi who had been planted there during the war among our bitterest enemies. It was one of the few pieces of foresight shown by the German Intelligence Service -- probably one of the most inefficient organizations of its kind in the world.
I had been in Rottach am Eggem for just a week when Wagner called me into his private office. He had been almost without sleep for a week and he looked like a man about to acknowledge final defeat. But he forced a smile as he told me: "My dear Gomez; I have good news for you. You have been ordered back to Madrid. There you are to contact members of your old organization and prepare to receive a very special visitor." "Who is he?" I asked. "That I cannot tell you. What I can tell you is that if the Nazi Party is to survive, then it is essential that this person gets safely out of the Reich and out of Europe. The job has been assigned to you. You will receive instructions in due course. They will be signed by the code name "Zapato." I returned to my own quarters with mixed emotions. Glad to be getting back to Spain but intensely curious as to who it was Wagner considered so vital to the Nazi cause. On the 29th of April, 1945 I left the redoubt - the last fragments of the Nazi Empire which had spanned Europe only a year before. That morning, I said goodbye to Colonel Wagner and Willy Oberbeil. My last vision of them was of two tired and dispirited men, their once arrogant black uniforms now stained and creased. They answered my salute with a weary mumbled "Heil ..." I turned and left the Bunker. Outside an SS guard was waiting with a OKW car, topped up with fuel, and a pass to enable me to get out of the main gate. I drove past the checkpoint, still heavily manned, and took the road to München where I had been given the address of a garage to refuel.
I was still a long way from the advancing American Front but the evidence of war was all around me. The road to München was littered with abandoned vehicles, a few intact but most of them partially or totally destroyed. Hastily arranged diversions set up by the Wehrmacht Police enabled me to avoid the worst sections and I was able to make good speed apart from a thirty minute holdup to allow a military convoy through. I met few civilians on the roads and the little traffic I encoun tered was all military. SS Intelligence had supplied me with false papers, identifying me as a Spanish chef in the Hotel Deutsche Kaiser in München. My papers were barely glanced at by the guards at the checkpoints I passed. It was hard to recognize in the blank faces of these guards, the proud army which had once goose-stepped its triumphant way across Europe with such arrogant ease. And had it not been for the rigid discipline of their officers, I felt sure that many of these men would have swollen the stream of deserters who were daily giving themselves up to the advancing Americans. But soon I had my own troubles.
I had been assured that I would have no trouble getting fuel in München. None of the filling stations along the road had been open but it had not worried me. However, when I went to the address I had been given and the garage owner refused to serve me with gasoline, I became concerned. I told him no one at this time could run a car unless he were on government business. But he refused to be persuaded. Just then, an SS detachment had turned into the street and were marching towards me. I waited until they drew abreast of me and I stepped out to speak with the sergeant in charge. I took the risk of confiding in him that I was on an extremely important secret mission which necessitated my traveling on forged papers. Had he not believed my story, I could have been thrown in prison and days might have passed, with communications as they were, before Wagner could have arranged my release. Fortunately, the man accepted my story and came with me into the garage owner's office. The sergeant, a huge crop-haired brute, threatened the cowering man with instant arrest unless he filled the tank of my car. The man did so; and I can't blame him.
The farther towards Switzerland I traveled, the more obvious it became that the Third Reich was defeated. I began to meet groups of refugees, old men, women and children, trudging hopelessly away from the tide of battle. I questioned some of them, but they did not appear to know where they were going. They were just running away. The adults appeared thin and badly clothed, and I noticed that many of the children were without shoes. To one group, I tossed a few tins of meat and vegetables which had been stacked in the back of my car. They snatched them greedily without a word of thanks. I stopped at a small roadside inn and asked inside for a cool Lager, but the landlord shrugged and offered me the only thing he had in his cellar - a glass of water. I pressed them to look again and this time I produced a piece of butter, half the size of a matchbox. The landlord's wife accepted eagerly and moments later, a liter of foaming chilled beer was mine. Two miles farther along the road, I discovered what price I really had to pay. The car shuddered and stopped! My host had siphoned off my whole tank of petrol. In a fury, I considered having the man arrested, but common sense made me realize I would be wasting precious time. Instead, I filled a case with food and a blanket and a spare pair of shoes, and walked. In just over an hour, I arrived at a small railway station, where I was amazed to find that trains were still running. But there was no question of buying a ticket. "Are you mad?" asked the porter. "Nobody buys tickets any more. When the train stops, you just get on if you can."
When it arrived, the train consisted of freight wagons and open coaches, but at least it took me to the outskirts, Garmisch, where, after a three-hour delay, I was able to get on a train to Innsbruck. The town was swarming with troops and the station itself was littered with stretcher cases and walking wounded. I decided to eat before continuing on the last stage of my journey to Feldkirch. I walked away from the station and threaded my way down a little side street until I came to a tiny coffeehouse away from the crush of field grey uniforms. I sat at a table near the cafe's entrance. It was dim in the blackout and, at first, I did not notice the couple sitting adjacent to me. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I turned to study them more closely and recognized the man. I had last seen him in the Führerbunker, exhorting us to the final defense of the Third Reich. It was General SS Zimmermann! He must have recognized me at the same instant and a flicker of disbelief crossed his face. He beckoned me over. I hardly sat down when he began to talk quietly and rapidly. "This lady is my wife. I want you to take care of her. See that no harm comes to her, because I intend to kill myself." I was speechless. This man was a comparative stranger, an influential SS officer who did not even know my name. He who a short time ago had been full of optimism now proposed to commit suicide, and thrust the responsibility of his wife's safety onto my shoulders. I begged him to reconsider, but despite my pleadings, he explained that he could never leave Germany and since he had no intention of serving anyone but the Führer, the only course open to him was suicide. Seeing that it was pointless to go on arguing, I told him that I had been ordered back to Spain and would take his wife with me if he insisted. Suddenly, as if fearing I might change my mind, Zimmermann stood up. He kissed his wife on the forehead, shook me firmly by the hand and without saying a word, walked out into the night. Frau Zimmermann (her name was Maria) half rose from her chair, then slumped back. She simply said: "God help him, wherever he goes"
Two years after the war I discovered that General Zimmermann had indeed carried out his promise and committed suicide. Maria Zimmermann and I, the following night, made contact with our agent, a Catholic priest in Feldkirch named Father John. We decided it would be best if we traveled as man and wife, and Father John promptly forged an appropriate wedding certificate. We stayed with the priest for three days and it was in his house on May 1st that I heard the German radio announcement that Hitler had "... died at the head of his troops." I was confused by this announcement, for I felt it could not be true. I knew of Bormann's instructions to transport the Führer to a safe place, away from the battle and the advancing Red Army. I had seen for myself the carefully planned escape of every other top Nazi, and I refused to believe that Hitler had been allowed to remain behind. On the night of May 3rd, I crossed safely back into Switzerland, knowing that scores of high-ranking Nazis had preceded me through similar escape routes and countless others were to follow. In Switzerland we presented ourselves to the authorities as Angel Donate Reca and Maria Pinto, man and wife, and asked for repatriation to Spain. Both of us were extensively questioned and passed from camp to camp until at last we were dumped in the refugee camp for Spanish nationals at lePlaine near the French border. I was in this ghastly place on 7 Maywhen I heard that the war was over. Germany had surrendered unconditionally.
The misery of the filth at lePlaine almost defied description. We lived in unheated huts and slept on wooden bunks thinly covered with straw. The toilet was a hole in the ground at one end of the hut. The stench was indescribable. On the second day there, I was lucky enough to find a pro-Nazi Swiss guard who agreed to pass on a message to a certain Father Ramon, whose name had been given to me by the Catholic priest who assisted us in Feldkirch. This monk took my case to the Spanish consul in Geneva, and shortly afterwards, I was visited by the Consul, one Senor Albazor. He pulled a great many strings and arranged with the Allied authorities on the Inter-Allied Commission for the Repatriation of Refugees to have Maria and me transferred to a hotel in Geneva under police supervision. From here it was a simple job to arrange passage for the two of us to Barcelona. I had cabled my wife when we were arriving, and she was waiting for us with a car when we docked late in July. After hearing our story, she insisted on Maria Pinto coming to live with us in Madrid. Maria stayed with us for three years before returning to Germany. Later I learned that she was working in South America. Now Maria is once again settled in Germany, at Köln, and she got engaged to an Englishman. But now she lives under the name of Maria Danneworth.
By the time I reached home, the Allied nations were celebrating the crushing of Nazi Germany. But I knew that their victory had not been complete. Even as they rejoiced, scores of men, capable of keeping the spirit of Nazism alive, were being assisted to safety by those who still believed in their cause. I was one of those who assisted in these escapes. Two men came to me for help ... the first stands convicted for the murder of millions. I met him the first time in 1946. In June of that year, a monk from a Swiss order, called at my home in Madrid asking me to give assistance to a German refugee who had sought sanctuary with his brotherhood. The man's name he said, was Climents. He was described by the monk as: "A good man who wishes to start a new life in the Argentine." I said I might possibly be able to help, but first I would like to meet him. I accompanied the monk to the college of his order a few miles from Freiberg in Switzerland. I thought it possible that I might recognize Climents, but I did not. At that time he told me simply: "I am an officer of the SS, and I am being hunted by the Allies. Will you help me?" I agreed. Climents returned with me to Madrid on a special passport issued to him by the Vatican. These passports were issued to many refugees after the war, but were valid for travel only inside Europe. I noticed that this passport was made out in the name of Didier. However, I asked no further questions and obtained an Argentine passport for him in the name of Climents. On the third day of July, 1947 I drove him to Madrid Airport to catch a plane for Buenos Aires. As we waited together in the departure lounge, I asked if he could tell me his real name. "My name is Eichmann." he replied. It meant nothing to me then. But now, all these years later, all the world knows what the name Eichmann means.
Who was the other man who came to me for help? It was Martin Bormann. I stood with my companion on the conning tower of the U-Boat and stared out across the white-flecked Atlantic. The coast of Spain was a grey smudge in the thin light of early dawn. It was quiet except for the hollow slap of waves against the submarine's hull. Then my companion spoke: "This is not running away. This is merely a pause. The war is not over as everyone believes. One day Hitler's Germany will emerge victorious." He gazed toward the distant coast. But I knew that it was not Spain that he saw. He was seeing Germany. A much diminished, war-torn, scarred and defeated Germany. "One day I shall return." he challenged. " On that, I, Martin Bormann, give you my word." In silence we descended to the deck below. As Bormann dropped into sight, a 12 man Kriegsmarine guard of honor crashed to attention. Martin Bormann faced the U-Boat commander across the narrow deck and proudly drew himself to attention. Their arms came up as one and together they answered the salute. "Heil Hitler." It was 7 May 1946, exactly one year to the day after the signing by Germany of an unconditional surrender at Reims. A new chapter in the history of Nazism had begun.
After my escape from Germany, where I spent the last three months of the war in the Führerbunker, Hitler's headquarters beneath the Reich Chancellery, I thought for a time that I had finally finished with my Nazi masters. On leaving the Reich, I had been instructed to alert the members of the Nazi espionage ring in Spain, of which I had been the wartime chief, to prepare for a "special visitor." These were the instructions given to me by Colonel SS Wagner, Intelligence Chief at Rottach am Egern - scene of the Nazis' last stand against the invading Allies. From time to time during the following months I recalled these orders, but was convinced they would never be put into operation. I little imagined I was soon to be plunged once more into the National Socialist cause, which I was certain had no further need for me. Until that day in December, 1945 when I received a visit from Felipe, a German who had worked with my organization in Spain.
It had been several years since I had last seen him. Then, he had weighed a good 16 stones [a British stone is equal to 14 pounds], but now he had lost considerable weight. He was tall, blond-haired and aged about 40. He threw his arms around me and seemed very happy to see me again. We talked over old times together, before and during the war. I was not very surprised when Felipe told me he was still working for the Nazis. I knew that large sums of money had been deposited with different agents in various parts of the world - all men dedicated to the Nazi cause. These men, and Felipe was one of them, had been chosen to keep Nazism strong in the event of Germany losing the war. They were all fanatics. Some of them had even sold their homes and possessions to carry on their work. But Felipe was more fortunate and still had access to large sums of ready cash. His was a key position in the escape route that had been reserved for those top Nazis who survived the war. Because of this, I felt sure that his surprise visit was not simply a social one. It was probably connected with the arrival of my long-awaited "special visitor." Felipe told me nothing of his mission, but before leaving he handed me a sealed envelope which he said contained important information. I opened it in the usual way. My espionage training with the Germans had taught me how to handle this kind of message. I went to my bureau and selected a large plain envelope, a size larger than the one Felipe had left. I placed the one inside the other and sprayed the whole package with a liquid which I kept locked in my desk drawer. Quickly I plugged in an electric iron and pressed the twin package until it was dry. It became rigid. Treatment with a second liquid spray caused the inside envelope to open. To have tried to open it in any other way would have resulted in the message it contained being destroyed. My instructions were written in Spanish. EXPECT SPECIAL VISITOR IN MADRID BETWEEN JANUARY 1ST AND 15TH. THIS PERSON, WHOM YOU WILL RECOGNIZE, WILL BE BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE BEARER OF THIS LETTER. ZAPATO ZAPATO! That was the code name which Wagner had made me memorize before leaving Rottach am Egern.
I spent the next four weeks in a frenzy of speculation. The peace of mind I had known over the past few months vanished, to be replaced by an undeniable compulsion to be once more back in the service of the cause. The message, though guarded in its phrasing, told me the one thing I wanted most to hear. At least one important Nazi had survived the war. Felipe came to my house on January 3, 1946. But this time he was not alone. His companion I did not recognize at first. He was wearing a dark overcoat over a grey suit and wore a bottle-green trilby hat pulled down low over his eyes. I knew I had seen this man before, but I could not see enough of his face to give him a name. Felipe introduced us. "Angel, I would like to present you to Herr Fleischmann," It was as I stepped forward to shake his hand that I recognized Martin Bormann. But a much changed Bormann. When I had last seen the Party Chancellor in the Bunker, he had been a good three stones heavier. His heavy jowled face had grown lean and his cheeks drawn. But there was about his eyes some unmistakable gleam, which reflected his insatiable appetite for power and limitless ambition. He removed his hat and I noticed he was partly bald at the front, though I discovered that this had been artificially brought about. Plastic surgery had taken care of his prominent Greek nose. Felipe was curious to learn the real identity of the man he had brought to my house and at the first opportunity, he took me aside and asked "Who is this Herr Fleischmann?" I told him: "Who else should it be but Herr Fleischmann?" But he pressed me to know what position the man held in Germany. I told him I had known Herr Fleischmann as one of Himmler's assistants. I could see that Felipe was not satisfied with that answer, but he shrugged and dropped the subject and left shortly afterwards.
As soon as we were alone, I took Bormann into the lounge, offered him a cigarette and a glass of Spanish brandy; both of which he accepted, and I waited. He spoke first. "Do you remember me from the Bunker?" "Yes," I replied. "You are Martin Bormann." He smiled thinly and told me, "That's right. But to everyone else, I am Herr Fleischmann. Do you understand? " "Of course." And then remembering to whom Felipe's message had been addressed, I added "If you are Herr Fleischmann, then I am not myself, but Senor Gomez." Gomez was the name I had worked under in the Berlin Bunker. We talked in Spanish, though the Spanish of Bormann was a terrible thing. "You will have to study hard if you want to improve your Spanish sufficiently to stay here undetected." I told him. "I shall not be staying in Spain permanently." he replied. "But I shall take your advice and study the language." Then he handed me a white envelope, blank on the outside and unsealed. Inside were further instructions, signed ZAPATO. I was told to take Bormann down to Condor, a castle on the Mediterranean coast of Spain at Denia, 30 miles south of Valencia. I was further informed that Macario, a German who had been living in Spain for over thirty years and who had been working for the Nazis since before the war, was expecting us. He had a large house two miles from the castle, and the use of a small cottage built into the castle wall. I assumed then that my part in the business would be over when I had delivered Bormann to Denia, but Bormann warned me "Get plenty of exercise. You must be fit to make a long journey very soon." That night he slept in the guest bedroom of my home. He had arrived without luggage of any kind and I had to send out for pajamas and shaving gear.
Bormann the Prophet
During the next two days, my conversations with Bormann naturally revolved around the post-war situation in Germany. At this stage, he was not prepared to discuss the fate of Hitler but was only too willing to talk about the probable fate of other Nazi leaders, then awaiting trial at Nuremberg. He happily prophesied: "These people will soon be paid for the high treason they committed." He was particularly bitter against his former arch-enemy at Hitler's court, Hermann Göring. "That pot-bellied swine was the worst person Hitler could possibly have chosen to run the Luftwaffe." he declared. Ribbentrop too, he castigated, as the man responsible for Germany's premature declaration of war. "He may have been a good ambassador; which I doubt, but he should never have been made Minister for Foreign Affairs." These two men, Bormann claimed, pushed Hitler into a war for which Germany was neither economically nor militarily prepared. Göring, he said, had given Hitler a completely false impression regarding Germany's preparedness for total war in 1939. "No power in Europe can fight us in the air." Bormann claimed Göring had told Hitler. And Hitler believed him. "For his part, Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister had done an unforgivable thing," Bormann went on, "in failing to report truthfully and accurately to Hitler the character, morale, feelings and strength of Britain and her Empire when he returned from his last pre-war visit to London."
"Hitler proved extremely wise in many of his decisions." Bormann explained to me. "It was a pity he could not have been more wise in his choice of advisors". I never once heard Bormann comment on either Göring or Ribbentrop without accompanying such comment with an insult. Bormann stayed with me in Madrid until January 6th. On that morning, we left in my new Chrysler for the eight-hour drive down to Condor Castle. It looked bleak and foreboding in the thin winter sunshine and the half-dozen white stone cottages nestling below its walls seemed deserted as we slowed to a stop outside the main entrance of the castle. This place had been used during the war as an espionage center and the men living in the cottages had all worked for the Nazi regime at some stage of the war. The castle was built so as to command a perfect view of both the coastal plain and the sea, and was therefore an ideal hideout for a fugitive like Bormann. One room in the west tower had been roughly furnished and the glassless windows boarded up in preparation for Bormann's visit. Macario had been expecting us and approached in the doorway of his cottage as we left the car. He was then about 55 years old and dressed as he was in blue jersey, canvas trousers and sandals, he resembled the typical Spanish fisherman. He greeted us briefly and without ceremony. We were just two more clients in the long list of faceless men who had passed this way. He led us through twelve foot high heavy oak doors of the castle and, holding a hurricane lamp above his head, ushered us towards Bormann's quarters less than a stone's throw from the main gate. We clambered up a short flight of very steep stone steps skirting the west tower and ducked through a narrow opening on our left. A heavy drape of sacking screened the doorway. Macario pulled it aside. "It's probably not the best room you've ever had but there are few safer. "Macario chirped, setting the hurricane lamp down on a flat-topped writing desk against the crudely hewn stone wall. An iron framed cot had been pushed into one corner and a pair of straight-backed wooden chairs and a small chest of drawers completed the furnishings. Instead of a carpet, a two-inch layer of fine white sand covered the stone floor. Bormann seemed satisfied - at least he made no complaint about his Spartan hideaway. But he curtly rapped out an order in German. Macario scuttled away and reappeared a few minutes later with a basket of food and wine. I did not stay to join him in his meal, but bade him good night and set out on the return trip to Madrid.
I received no word of Bormann for three months and long before this I had accepted that my part in this drama was ended. Then, on May 1, Felipe turned up again at my house. Once again he brought a message, and, once again, it dealt with the escape of Martin Bormann. As usual, the message was brief and to the point. Herr Fleischmann would embark from Villagarcia, a fishing town on the northwest Gallegan coast of Spain, on May 7th. And I would be accompanying him. Bormann was to leave, and I would accompany him - but to where? But to where? There was no hint as to our final destination. I only knew that I would be getting further instructions from our agent in Villagarcia. On the morning of May 3, 1946 I said good-bye to my wife, Conception. I told her I might be away from home for several weeks or perhaps months. I drove down to Condor in the Chrysler, urging the big car as fast as I could over the rough roads, for I was anxious to find out from Bormann where our journey would end. He was waiting impatiently for me, pacing up and down the cobbled courtyard below his room. He shook me warmly by the hand and greeted me in Spanish. He had not wasted his three months in Denia and had almost perfected the language, and looked a good deal fitter. I was unsure how to address him, but I decided to keep up the pretense of his pseudonym. "Herr Fleischmann, it is good to see you again. I trust your stay at Condor has not been difficult." Bormann grimaced. "I would not say difficult, Senor Gomez. But nevertheless, I am not unhappy at the thought of leaving".
Bormann had spoken to no one but Macario in those three months. He had not left the castle grounds, but at least his surroundings were beautiful. Acres and acres of rose gardens and lawns lay inside the castle walls. In this environment and under the warm Mediterranean sun, Martin Bormann had grown fitter, stronger and more confident. He was obviously excited at the prospect of action. The last twelve weeks had been spent in thinking and planning for the future and rebuilding of the Nazi Party. Now the time had come to translate those thoughts into deeds. He was in such good spirits that he sent Macario for a bottle of good Spanish wine and insisted that the faithful agent join us in a toast. It was a bizarre scene. We stood, our shadows flickering in the candlelight against the bare stone walls. Bormann sloshed wine into three tumblers. He handed us our drinks and pulled himself rigidly to attention. He raised his glass. "Gentlemen, we drink to the National Socialist Party and to its leader. Heil Hitler." "Heil Hitler," we echoed and I felt a tingle of excitement rippling through my body. Could it be then that the Führer really was still alive? Bormann butted in on my thoughts. "Run along; we must rest," he said. "You and I, Gomez, have many miles to travel." Macario and I left Bormann standing alone in his cell-like chamber, and picked our way along the overgrown path to Macario's cottage. I dreamed that night a vivid picture of the Berlin Bunker. And I heard again the voice of Adolf Hitler: "Where goes this man without a motive?"
I was awaken at dawn to find Bormann dressed and waiting. We had a hasty meal of bread, freshly landed langostino, washed down by mugs of hot, sweet, black coffee. Macario had prepared a satchel of food and a bottle of cognac to take with us. Bormann and I shook hands briefly with the man, and climbed into the Chrysler. We nosed out of the little town, the rising sun at our backs, on the first leg of our eight hundred mile journey across Spain. Bormann, dressed in a cheap blue suit and white cotton shirt, sat unspeaking at my side as we sped along the coast road towards Granada. Our only stopping points that day were Granada and Seville, and then only long enough to replenish our fuel tank. I deliberately chose small roadside filling stations where there was no risk of Bormann being recognized. We ate as I drove, Bormann handing me the cognac bottle from time to time. His bubbling good humor of the previous night had been replaced by his usual taciturn demeanor. I had chosen a round-about route deliberately so as to avoid the bigger cities, and our first overnight stop was in the small market town of Merida, near the Portugese border. We did not travel on passports and at the quiet hotel I had picked out, I registered in my own name Angel de Velasco, showing my identity card and registering Bormann as Herr Fleischmann. I was paying the bill and the sleepy concierge did not bother Bormann for his papers. Our second night was spent in Ponferrada, barely a hundred and twenty five miles from our destination, Villagarcia. But those hundred and twenty five miles - the last lap) - took us the whole of the following day to cover. The road, an ill-made up potholed track, zig-zagged wildly across a chain of mountains and I arrived at Villagarcia exhausted.
I drove directly to the house of one of my agents, a man named Martinez, who made us welcome. He was a genuine fisherman and greeted us wearing the traditional calf length canvas trousers, a blue seaman's jersey and wooden clogs. Inside the house was poor but clean, and Martinez had prepared a supper. Bormann and I ate ravenously and while we were still eating, Martinez brought in his son, who he said would be going with us in their fishing boat the following morning. Martinez had another envelope for me, but he said: "I have been given strict orders not to hand this envelope to you before you are embarked." I protested. "Why not now? I insist you hand it over." Then I turned to Bormann. "I am tired of this guessing game. I want to know where we are going." Bormann remained calm in the face of this outburst. "My friend, even I do not know our exact destination. The organization which is arranging our transport is a highly efficient one, as you yourself must know. I need not remind you of the need for the strictest security. I have left the organization in the hands of trusted men. Let us not ask questions. Soon enough, you will know:' This gentle reprimand brought me back to my senses. "Of course. I understand," I said to Bormann. And to Martinez, "Of course you must carry out your orders. I apologize for my rudeness." Bormann and I smoked a last cigarette before climbing the rickety stairs to a room where two single beds had been prepared for us. I was asleep even as my head hit the pillow.
It was still dark when Martinez shook my shoulder roughly. "Senor, it is time to go." he whispered, and I heard Bormann grunt sleepily. We dressed by the light of a paraffin lamp and carrying a suitcase each, the former Nazi Party Chancellor and myself followed the old fisherman out of the house and down to the harbor. In the darkness of a moonless night I could make out a dilapidated old fishing boat rocking unsteadily at its moorings. A stiff wind had risen and I could hear the crash of heavy breakers against the shore. Bormann was horrified. "Mein Gott!" he exclaimed. "Don't tell me we have to make our journey in this thing. It will sink before it leaves harbor." The old fisherman told him not to worry, and helped us aboard the aged craft, of which he was obviously but unjustifiably proud. I took a last look around before following Bormann aboard. I had made arrange- ments for my car to be driven back to Madrid and had given the driver a brief message for my wife, telling her that I might be away longer than I had at first believed. Neither Bormann nor myself wore overcoats and we shivered, hurrying into the comparative warmth of the boat's main cabin. The craft had a crew of five and to an observer, it would seem that we were going on a normal nights fishing. Martinez's boat was a forty-five footer, propelled by a sluggish Diesel engine. But despite Bormann's sarcastic comments and concern, she plowed a steady path through the white-topped waves toward the open sea.
We had come about two miles from the coast when Martinez slowed the engine and gave the order for the sea anchor to be dropped. He shouted to one of his seamen to keep a sharp lookout for any other shipping in the area, and we settled down to wait in silence. I noticed the lights of other boats in the distance and for the first time Bormann became agi- tated. But Martinez assured us that they were the lights of other fishing boats and were more than a mile away. The sea was getting rougher, but the weather-beaten old fisherman was quite unconcerned by the nauseating roll of his battered tub. It was then that Martinez produced a bulky package from a pocket of his coat. "This is the package for which you have been waiting, Senor." He handed the packet to me. I wanted to open it then and there, but Bormann told me "No, wait until we get on board our next craft." We had both known that there must be another boat waiting for us. Outside, a seaman shouted something and Martinez suddenly stood up and said: "All right. It is time you were going." On deck, I could see no sign of another ship, but two seamen were waiting to assist us over the side. I went to the rail and what I saw took my breath away. Bumping gently against the fishing boat's side was a rubber dinghy manned by two sailors wearing Kriegsmarine uniforms! They gave a military salute as we lowered ourselves into the dinghy, and Bormann returned their salute. We shouted a farewell to Martinez, and the two sailors cast us loose and began paddling away from the boat. The yellow dinghy tossed violently on the waves, and the sailors cursed their luck in German. Bormann and I still had our eyes fixed for some sign of an awaiting vessel. But there was nothing. Then with incredible suddenness, the sea immediately in front of us began to boil, and from the foaming waves rose the unmistakable shape of a submarine lifting itself violently from the depths. The sea cascaded from its decks and had it not been for the seamanship of the two sailors, we should have capsized. Even so, we were forced to bail frantically. Moments later we were scrambling over the wet curved steel deck and hauling ourselves up the slippery metal ladder that stretched to the lip of the conning tower. Bormann and I paused a moment on the narrow gangway circling the open hatch, from which came the pungent smell of Diesel fuel. The U-Boat Commander, who had been waiting on the conning tower, had disappeared down below, leaving Bormann and me alone in the slowly gathering dawn. We caught a glimpse of the fishing boat heading back towards Spain.
Bormann gazed thoughtfully towards the coast and spoke softly as if voicing his thoughts to himself. "Europe will see me again." he murmured, "leading a new and more powerful Germany." Then he turned abruptly and lowered himself into the bowels of the U-Boat. I followed him down the narrow ladder, and the two seamen, having stowed the dinghy, came after me, snapping the clips of the watertight hatch behind them. Bormann faced the U-Boat Commander across the narrow deck and together they saluted. Then the U-Boat Commander, in full naval uniform with an Iron Cross glittering on his tunic breast, thrust out his arms and greeted Bormann in a firm embrace. He turned to me, extending a powerful hand and clicked his heels; "Captain Karl Jui" he announced formally and gave a slight bow. He was, I suppose, no older than 35 and although still a handsome man, his hair was prematurely white. He was tall and arrogant, his height being emphasized in the cramped confines of the U-Boat's control room. While Captain Jui introduced his First Officer, ship's doctor and other officers to Bormann and myself, I noticed around me the crew alert at their diving stations, awaiting the order from Jui to submerge. They all wore white jerseys as did the steward who led Bormann and myself along a steel gangway towards the boat's bow. As I stepped through a watertight door leading forward, I felt the boat surge and the deck ahead tilt downwards. We were going under, and I was embarking on the most fascinating voyage of my life. I glanced at my watch. It was 5:10 am the morning of 7 May 1946. Exactly a year to the day after Germany surrendered unconditionally to the victorious Allies, I found myself in a German U-Boat diving beneath the waves of the Atlantic.
Apart from myself, there was only one other civilian on board this fully equipped and fully provisioned warship, the U-Boat under com mand of Captain Karl Jui. That other man was Martin Bormann, the most hunted fugitive of the Third Reich, the man around whom a storm of speculation had long raged. We were on our way to an unknown destination where Bormann planned the renaissance of the Nazi Party, a new Nazism which would conquer not only Europe, but indeed the world.
They had picked us up off the coast of Spain and now under full wartime conditions the ship was thrusting its way on a three thousand mile journey beneath the Atlantic. One of the crew in the uniform of the Kriegsmarine led Martin Bormann and myself to a small cabin in the bows of the U-Boat. In this cramped steel box, Bormann and I were to share eighteen long days together. And here he laid before me his plans, plans he had prepared in the last months of the war, to ensure the continuance of the Nazi creed. Captain Jui appeared at the door of our cabin as soon as the seaman had left. Bormann went to the door and they talked for a minute or two in German. I could not catch what they said but as Jui shut the door and left us alone, Bormann remarked: "From now on, Angel, we can consider ourselves Argentine subjects." Only then, three months after I had been instructed to help Bormann out of Europe, did I have revealed to me our final destination. Then Bormann referred to the bulky package of papers which had been handed to me by another agent as we left Spain. "I think that now is the time to open the envelope." he said. "If I am not mistaken, it will contain certain instructions for our Captain." I took the packet from my coat and laid it on the table. I examined it carefully. It was in a plain envelope, not the usual kind used by the Nazi Intelligence Service. I slit it open without further ado. Had it been the special type of envelope I had received so many times before, doing this would have rendered any message unreadable. First I withdrew a single sheet of paper. On it were instructions typed in Spanish referring to Martin Fleischmann, the name Bormann used during his escape. I was to instruct him in the way of life, the political situations and the language of those South American countries known personally to me. I was to pay particular attention to life in the Argentine. From the envelope I also took out two Argentine passports. One was for Bormann in the name of Luis Oleaga and the other in the name of Adian Espana was for me. Although the passports seemed genuine enough - they were issued by the Argentine Consul in San Sebastian - there was another typewritten note attached to the inside page of mine saying that these passports were intended for use in emergency only and that the people who would meet us in Argentina would supply us with more authentic papers when we arrived. The message was signed "Zapato." I knew then that it had come from Colonel SS Wagner, former Chief of SS Intelligence in the Berlin Führerbunker.
The last item in the packet was another sheet of white paper containing a lengthy message written in numbered code. I could not decipher it. I handed it to Bormann and he simply shrugged and said: "Give it to the Captain." The message in fact was Jui's sailing orders. Bormann and I sat down to study our documents and take stock of our surroundings. There were two bunks in the cabin bracketed against the steel bulkhead to the right of the door, and placed one above the other. Over these there were shelves where we could put our only luggage: two small suitcases. Opposite the door was a table that folded back against the bulkhead when not in use. A single unshaded bulb glowed continuously from a bracket in the ceiling, and there was a small lamp screwed to a shelf above the table. The bunks themselves were firm but comfortable - each prepared with crisp, white sheets and pillow cases, and had a reading lamp above. The steel deck had a piece of threadbare carpet in the center of the floor. Our washing facilities comprised a small aluminum hand basin fixed to the gangway bulkhead outside our cabin. Two steel chairs completed the furnishings. We had been in the cabin for something like two hours when I sensed the U-Boat tilting its nose upwards. Bormann and I glanced at each other wondering, but our unspoken query was answered almost immediately by Captain Jui who knocked on our door and entered briskly. "Gentlemen, we have surfaced. We are just off the coast of Portugal. We shall be here for less than an hour to take on essential supplies."
Curious, I followed Captain Jui back to the U-Boat's operations deck and stood watching while two sailors opened the conning tower hatch and disappeared out of sight above us. A third seaman secured the hatch behind them and Jui rasped an order: "Take her down three fathoms." I heard the sound of ballast tanks filling, and then silence. By this time, Bormann had joined us on the bridge and we watched while Captain Jui made a 360 degree sweep with his periscope. Apparently satisfied, the captain came over to join us. "Everything's all right but we must wait." He produced a chess board and pieces, and he and Martin Bormann settled down to a game. From time to time, Captain Jui excused himself to take a brief glance through the periscope. About an hour after the two seamen had left, Jui gave the order to surface. I felt a blast of fresh air as the conning tower hatch was opened and shortly afterwards the two men stumbled down the steps of the ladder, each carrying a small box about the size of a cigar box. I guessed they must have been extremely heavy for the men had difficulty carrying them down. The boxes were stacked on the deck and they returned for another load. All together, nineteen of these boxes were brought down. I suspected that they carried gold. But if Bormann knew, he was not saying and my suspicion was never confirmed. After these boxes, two larger wooden crates were lowered down and I was told they contained food. Fifteen minutes later, we were submerged again and life on board the boat settled down for our eighteen day non-stop run across the Atlantic.
For most of the time Bormann and I were closeted together in our cabin, occasionally speaking with a member of the crew, but generally conversing only between ourselves. We were served excellent food in our cabin including crispbread, freshly baked on board twice a week. One of the marines was detailed to wait on us. Occasionally, Captain Jui himself joined us for a meal, but he soon wearied of this, as it meant him standing to eat. There were only two places at our table. Jui was a veteran U-Boat man with all the arrogance that life and death command gave these wartime heroes. Twice I was to cross swords with him. The first time was a trivial incident and occurred during my second day aboard. I had wandered onto the bridge but was rudely ordered back to my quarters when Jui discovered me in conversation with one of his officers, and accused me of distracting the man from his duty. Upon my return to our cabin Bormann sensed my ruffled feelings and I told him what had happened. He shrugged. "Don't take it too seriously. You must remember that on this boat we are his guests. Jui is in command and we must accept what he says, and try not to antagonize him." I resolved to put the incident out of my mind. The second time I quarreled with Captain Jui was a very much more serious affair, but it happened towards the end of our voyage and I shall tell you of it later.
In accordance with my instructions, I started to coach Martin Bormann in the ways of fluent Spanish. Bormann applied himself studiously. Each night he studied a German-Spanish phrase book and insisted I test his vocabulary, growing annoyed with himself if he forgot a word. My particular difficulty was in teaching him to speak Spanish the Argentine way, which had a different pronunciation to the Spanish used in Spain. I myself had been several times to the Argentine and knew the language and country well. I had passed several months there during the war, engaged on espionage work for the Nazis, arranging a spy network with Japanese Intelligence to relay information on British-bound food convoys to our U-Boat packs in the North Atlantic.
NOTE: This was the notorious "TO" Ring¡ -- Ed.
In the first few days, Bormann did little except study Spanish and make notes in a leather-bound writing case. I gradually became aware that the man I was with was no longer the refugee Bormann I had greeted in Madrid three months earlier. He had regained all his old authority and assumed again the air of a man who knows exactly where he is going. And as his confidence in himself grew, he began to talk more freely of the past and his plans for the future. During one conversation in which he had told me something of his plans for keeping Nazism alive. I asked him "How is it possible for the National Socialist Party to continue after the battering it has suffered?" He answered: "Neither I nor many of the others understood until it was too late what were our possibilities for the future. But now I am fully aware of those possibilities and will soon be in a position to take advantage of them." At this stage he was unwilling to reveal his plans in more detail. But he expressed his belief that Hitler's Germany could win a second war of conquest; within the next six years. "Hitler's Germany?" I asked. "How can you talk of Hitler's Germany if the Führer is dead?" He regarded me seriously before answering. "You yourself saw the Führer leave the Bunker. And if you saw him leave, then he could not have died there." "Yes, I saw him leave," I agreed, "but I have no idea what happened to him after that. He could have returned, for all I know." Bormann said nothing for a full minute. "Do you want to know where Adolf Hitler is today?" "I am more concerned to know if he is alive." I answered. "As to where he is - it is not so important." "You are right. It is as important for our followers to know that he is alive as for the Allies to believe him dead." Then he told me the incredible story of Hitler's fate.
"Listen to me carefully and remember what I say. It is true. When Adolf Hitler left the Führerbunker, he was barely conscious of what was happening. After months of fighting the enemy on the battlefield and the treachery in his own camp, he was both mentally and physically exhausted.
"But time and again he expressed to me his resolution to die with German soldiers around him. This I could not allow to happen. Hitler was the embodiment of the National Socialist cause. One could not survive without the other. At least not then. "By the 21 April  it was obvious that the war was lost. It became necessary to countermand the Führer's wishes and remove him physically from the Bunker. I arranged to have him driven secretly from Berlin to Rottach am Egern, escorted by officers from my personal staff. Only a handful of people besides myself knew that the Führer was there, and these were people who I knew could be trusted to keep the secret of his escape for as long as it was necessary.
"From Rottach he was driven across Germany and smuggled by ship to Norway. Two of my agents kept him in a place many miles from the nearest village until arrangements were completed for him to leave Europe".
I asked "What of Eva Braun and the suicide?"
"Eva Braun never arrived in Norway. Unfortunately she was given an overdose of drugs from which she later died. As for the suicide, I was the author of the story that Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide and their bodies were burned with petrol. Those witnesses who afterwards testified to this end had been carefully briefed on my instructions". Bormann leaned intently across the table: "That Hitler did not die I know. I also know that he is still alive but more than that I am not prepared at the moment, to tell you." And with that I had to be content. Yet later in a fantastic - and on reflection - nightmarish, mission I was to be shown near conclusive evidence that what he had said was true. But even now I gradually began to accept the incredible fact: Adolf Hitler was still alive.
Bormann told me he believed the news of Hitler's death was a source of satisfaction and pleasure to the Allies. He believed that with Hitler dead, the Allies would accept that Nazism could not be rebuilt. Bormann also wanted to perpetuate the myth of his own death for the same reason. On a number of occasions throughout our U-Boat journey, he asked me what I would do if his name ever cropped up in conversation. During one such conversation, I assured him: "Martin, from me everyone will believe you are dead". This pleased Bormann. "That is what I wanted to hear". But he added, "Not that I died here. Tell them I died on the battlefield fighting the Bolsheviks". Then I suggested to Bormann that he had given me so much information, and since I was the only person in the world who could tell the world that he was still alive, he might never allow me to return from this journey. "I am more or less your prisoner," I told him. Bormann chuckled and rose from his bunk on which he had been lying. He reached out and clasped my hand in his. "There is no question of your remaining my prisoner. You have proved yourself a good friend and a loyal member of the Party. There are of course, certain things I cannot tell you. It is simply not convenient that you know everything, but that does not mean that I do not trust you. I am more than confident that you will not reveal the secret of my escape when you return to Spain".
lt was the closest that Martin Bormann and I came to intimate friendship. Life in a submarine is so claustrophobic that it is impossible for two men to be confined almost entirely to one cabin without their nerves stretching to the breaking point. There were times when I positively loathed Bormann. I remember clearly one incident - we had been at sea for a week when one of the crew fell seriously ill and the U-Boat doctor reported that the man's condition was extremely grave. For want of something to do, I remarked to Bormann "I think I will go and talk with this poor fellow. Perhaps I might be able to cheer him up." Bormann's reply shocked and surprised me. Testily he snapped in a harsh voice, quite out of character "Why waste your time. This is of no importance to you. Do not bother yourself with it. What happens to this man can in no way affect our future." This sort of insensitive attitude shook me. It might have been acceptable coming from the warped brain of a man like Himmler. But from Bormann, who loathed Himmler in any case, it seemed unnecessarily brutal. In due course, the sailor died. Bormann was quite unaffected by the man's death and when I asked what they did with a man who died on a submarine, he leered and replied: "We eat them." In fact, shortly afterwards, we had surfaced and the crew were ordered onto the upper deck where I presume the poor wretch was given a naval funeral.
But in the main, I must say Bormann proved an interesting and pleasant companion. Our talks together ranged over every conceivable subject. When you are shut in a steel tomb under the sea, it becomes necessary to find an outlet in talking about everything, and also nothing. Within a week I had developed a kind of U-Boat craziness and experienced bouts of depression and physical sickness. Bormann comforted me by telling me that this was not unusual even in hardened U-Boat crews, and advised me to think of the future. "At the moment, everyone is talking about the destruction of our cause," he told me. "For them, the battle has been fought. But for us, this is not the case. While they content themselves with editing their diaries, we prepare a new chapter in the history of the Nazi Party. Time will soon come when their nerves will be as shattered as ours are down here. You must cheer up. We will soon be off this damned submarine and back on dry land and it has not really been very long since we left Spain." But to me it seemed that we had been at sea and trapped in our metal box for half a lifetime and I refused to be comforted.
I envied Captain Jui his patience and acceptance of this unnatural life. However, I knew that he had spent the whole war in U-Boats. He had been in the early years a First Lieutenant in a submarine similar to this, operating in the North Atlantic. Most of his war had been spent patrolling the Western Approaches to Europe, and he had been in on the sinking of seven Allied ships. For his part in these actions he had been awarded the Iron Cross and in late 1944, had been given command of his own U-Boat. He had been at sea at the end of the war and had received special orders to take his boat to a secret island base off the South American coast and await further orders. Throughout our journey, the U-Boat remained in radio contact with its base, and daily during the last part of our trip Bormann received messages from the agents awaiting him in South America. To kill time, I repeatedly offered my services to Bormann to help him with his constant writing, but apart from asking one or two questions concerning intelligence work, he refused my offers of assistance. Consequently I faced long stretches of boredom and took to wandering about the submarine. However, most of the crew to whom I spoke with, were guarded in their answers even in response to innocent questions about their duties. I found that my only escape was sleep, and in order to sleep, I asked the ship's doctor to provide me with tablets.
This officer, whose name he told me was Willy, proved more approachable than most. Oddly enough, he was also the ship's radio officer, but in neither capacity was he needed for more than a few hours each day. We became good friends and spent a lot of time talking about our families. Willy's home was Hamburg, where he had a wife and son whom he had seen only four times since he joined the U-Boat Service in 1939. He was aged about forty and in contrast to most of the crew, had jet black hair. However, in common with them all, he was on the small side. It was a curiosity of the U-Boat service that the men who manned them were almost invariably short. Willy was a very enthusiastic sailor and liked the life of a submariner, but for myself I had quickly lost any enthusiasm I may have had for underwater vessels. This boat was fitted with the then newly invented "snorkel" apparatus which was supposed to maintain a good supply of fresh air when the boat was submerged. I had been full of praise for it in the first two or three days, but after a week I found the poor circulation of air, the stench of dDesel and almost unbearable heat made me feel sick. And I damned the "snorkel" along with every other piece of machinery on the boat. For Bormann, it did not seem so bad. He rarely left our cabin and spent hours at a time writing in his book. Even this was a torment for me, for at such times he answered me with grunts; for long stretches refused to acknowledge my presence at all. During his long silences, Bormann, whose shaved head had grown and who had by now, a thick stubble of beard, developed a maddening habit of tugging endlessly at his left jowl. It was just one of those little things that can drive you crazy on a long submarine voyage.
After politics, Bormann's favorite topic of conversation was his family. I was surprised to learn that he was married and had a daughter, then aged fifteen. He said he hoped to arrange her passage to the Argentine as soon as he himself had settled. Years later I learned that the girl had managed to join him and she now lives in Buenos Aires, and is married with children of her own. However, if I was feeling in a state of nervous collapse, I became aware that my condition was shared by large numbers of the crew. Halfway through the second monotonous week at sea, one of the crew caught his foot in the engine room machinery and was quite badly injured. As a result, he had to spend his time in the seamen's mess area quite near our cabin. Since the poor fellow couldn't escape, I fastened on to him as someone to talk to and soon deduced that he was as anxious as I was to see this voyage over. However, he said that this was not as bad as some of the trips he had made, but added his hope that the injury to his foot would be good enough cause for Captain Jui to put him ashore with Bormann and myself when we reached South America. And although it caused him some pain, he seemed almost pleased to have been injured. From the remarks of other crew members, I began to suspect that he had arranged the accident himself and many of the crew openly congratulated him on his prospects of quitting the boat. It seemed to me that the attitude of some of the more outspoken seamen bordered on the mutinous and my impression of them changed from that of a smart, well drilled and enthusiastic crew to that of a group of dispirited men who only hoped to end their wanderings under the waves. And I thought that Captain Jui might have trouble with them before our voyage was over.
One day I caught Bormann in a philosophical mood. For hours I listened to his explanation of the past, and his hopes for the future. He began by comparing National Socialism with some of man's most ancient religions, pointing out that as in all beliefs, Nazism looked for a super-human leader to free its people and lead them to world superiority. Bormann believed that there were only two possible theories in man's living; Communism and National Socialism. Bitterly he condemned Communism; "Who wants all men to be equal like animals?" he snorted. "Nazism is the only way. We believe there should be rulers; supermen for the masses to follow. We want to breed a race of men with the brains and physique to lead the world. We started this with the SS because none of the people selected for the SS had any physical or mental defects. We want to procreate our race, and in a thousand years, the Reich will produce a race of splendid men and women." Pacing up and down the cabin, he went on: "I am convinced that National Socialism will rise again in Germany. It may take a few years; even a generation; but it will come back." I protested that this was an impossible dream, since Germany would be occupied for many years to come and the Allies would certainly crush any reawakening of Nazi feelings. I added that the world is not full of heroes, and men would soon forget the war and this period of German history. They had lost the war; that was enough for most. Bormann turned on me in a fury. "You bloody fool! Have you lost your faith?" he shouted. "Can't you see that just by occupying Germany, the Allies will always give the Germans cause to turn against them?" Bormann ended this tirade by predicting: "The fools will think they have won the final victory, but if they are so stupid as to go on hating the German people and showing that hatred, then the Nazi cause will never die. They will look to us again for freedom." He talked optimistically for finding in South America a people who would lend themselves to the Nazi teaching of a super-race. "They must be a very clever people," he remarked. But on this, I had to disillusion him. "If you expect to find a super race there, you will be disappointed, Martin," I told him. "But is it not true that we have followers there?" I replied: "Yes, but you do not yet know the South Americans. Today they will call you a hero. Tomorrow they could just as easily shoot you in the back."
At this point, our discussion was ended by the urgent blaring of klaxon horns and a fierce hammering on the door of our cabin. I realized that the U-Boat's motors had stopped. A rating entered the cabin and told us that Captain Jui wanted to see us urgently, and he led us at a rapid walk to the hatchway leading down to the engine room. In front of a huge bank of accumulators, Captain Jui was talking excitedly to a group of engineers. When we joined them, Jui broke off and told us seriously "We shall have to stop to make emergency repairs to one of the accumulators." He pointed to one of the huge accumulators and indicated a crack running the full length of it from ceiling to deck. He explained that in its damaged condition, it would seriously affect the supply of electricity to the motors and unless repaired immediately, would make it necessary to continue our journey on the surface using the Diesel engines. "I have no need to tell you how dangerous this would be for all of us," he added. But already the engine room crew had begun to seal the crack, which meant that the immediate danger would soon be past. Escorting us back to our cabins, Captain Jui again apologized for the defect in his ship, but remembering my conversations with the crew, I told him: "I am not surprised to find things going wrong. I do not think your crew is a happy one, Captain." Jui laughed, "Don't worry about the crew. We have been in worse situations than this together. I believe the cause is simply that my ship has been heavily depth charged several times, and this has weakened the accumulator casings."
The next day our spirits were given a boost when we neared the River Platte estuary. It meant that we were only a day or two from landfall. Bormann became excited and pulled out a large scale map of South America. He drew a large cross over our point of disembarkation, the tiny port of Puerto Coig in the Argentine district of Patagonia. That same afternoon my belief that the crew were determined not to sail again on this boat was further strengthened when another mysterious crack was found in another bank of accumulators. In my nervous state I even imagined disaster overtaking us within a few miles of safety. I was quite certain of sabotage, and I told Captain Jui so. "It is incredible that between your officers and yourself there is no one who can see how this trouble was caused. It was sabotage, you fool. Can't you see that?" Captain Jui exploded with anger. In language that would shock a Hamburg docker, he raved at me for fully two minutes. At this moment, Bormann stepped between us. "Captain Jui," he roared. "You will come to attention and keep quiet!" Jui was shocked into obedience. Red faced with fury, Bormann viciously abused the stunned Captain. Pale and trembling, Jui suffered an outburst which only Hitler himself could have matched. In a screaming temper, the Führer's Deputy tongue-lashed the young captain and ended by telling him "You do not deserve to be in command of a German ship. This gentleman," and he indicated myself, "I consider to be a hero. It is thanks to him that I am here at all. And if you insult him, you can consider yourself as having insulted the leader of the Nazi Party!" He thrust his face close to that of the shivering Jui and snarled "Need I remind you Captain, of the consequences of such a serious blunder?" With that, Bormann turned and walked away. After Bormann had left, the officers and crew on the bridge took moments to recover. But by this time, my temper had evaporated and to ease the tension, I stepped forward and held out my hand. "As far as I am concerned Captain, this matter is closed. Believe me, I regret it having taken place at all." Jui seemed glad to accept my friendship, and together we went to his cabin and split a bottle of French wine.
While we were in the Captain's cabin, Bormann joined us, seeming also to have forgotten the incident. Almost immediately, a rating appeared with a message. It read: "Everything is prepared and we await you." It was signed "Rodriguez" This message, our first direct contact with our agents ashore, brought a whoop of relief from us all. Bormann asked me if I knew Rodriguez personally, and I told him I did not. "This is strange," he said. "I have been told that he is a priest, and that you will know him." "I have only known one priest who worked for us in the Argentine," I replied, "and his name certainly was not Rodriguez." Bormann smiled, "Your name is not Adian, is it Angel? And mine is not Luis. So why should this priest's name not be Rodriguez?" The message was not in code, I noticed. And a second signal a few hours later made us certain at last that we had finally reached safety. It said "You may proceed in perfect safety. We are in complete command. Heil Hitler!" We had less than twenty-four hours to go before disembarking and the tension was tremendous. But Bormann and I spent the night restlessly tossing in our bunks and were unable to sleep. Willy, the doctor, gave us both a sedative and even suggested that I might like an injection to put me out for those last agonizing hours of suspense, but I would not agree. Even now I could not forget my espionage training and my cardinal rule - never trust anyone. I was the only witness to Martin Bormann's escape. I was taking no last minute chances.
On the morning of May 25th, Captain Jui gave the order to surface and I felt the rhythmic "THUMP THUMP THUMP" of our Diesel engines take over from the electric motors, and the U-Boat thrust onwards on the surface. Bormann and I raced for the bridge in time to see Jui returning from a brief reconnaissance. Around his neck were a pair of powerful Zeiss binoculars. "You have a reception committee waiting for you," he told Bormann. "How many?" asked Bormann. "I have counted eight men and two cars," Jui replied. But I could wait no longer. I brushed past Jui and scrambled up the steel ladder to the observation platform on the conning tower. It was my first sight of land in eighteen nerve-racking days. Through the mist I could see the beach quite close, and a number of figures waving at us. Once ashore, I watched Martin Bormann walk up the beach near the tiny town of Puerto Coig with a feeling of intense satisfaction. My most important job as an espionage agent of the Nazi cause had been accomplished. Bormann, the most wanted war criminal in the world, had been safely smuggled out of Europe and was now safe on the friendly shores of the Argentine.
I stood on the stony beach that morning in May 1946 and took a last look at the vessel which had brought us out of Spain. In the mist I could vaguely make out the glistening steel plates and her crew standing stiffly to attention on her upper deck, their arms outstretched in the Nazi salute. Bormann turned, a thick-set, wind-blown figure at the crest of the steeply rising beach, and stretched his arm toward the distant U-Boat. Three minutes later, the rubber dinghy which had brought us ashore had returned to the boat and eager hands hauled it aboard. I gazed seaward and caught sight of Captain Jui alone now on the conning tower.
Various scenarios have been put forth by mainstream historians claiming Bormann died in a firefight in 1945 or that Bormann was captured by the Brits and tortured for information about Nazi bank accounts. In the 1980s, one history program clamed they had proof Bormann made it to Argentina. They offered the compelling testimony of eyewitnesses, and neighbors who knew Bormann, plus photos they claimed were of the escaped Nazi. The truth is, none of these scenarios is any more plausible than that set forth in this book. Moments later he, too, disappeared and the U-Boat vanished in the mist. Its last mission completed, the boat was heading for Buenos Aires - sur- render and asylum.
We had been met on the beach by the Nazi agent Rodriguez, a priest whom I had recognized as a man who had worked with me some years before in that country under the name of Father Vogamiz. Rodriguez, wearing Roman Catholic garb, greeted Bormann enthusiastically. I doubt whether the good priest, or anyone else there, realized that they were the welcome committee for the new Nazi Führer.
Half -Buried Hatreds
Ever after these years, the face, the name and the recorded voice of Adolf Hitler are still sufficient to stir half-buried hatreds and unforgettable fear in the hearts of millions who suffered and fought in the last war. Yet to those who shared his beliefs - and I was one of them - he was considered a genius. The memory of the madness of those last weeks I spent with him in the Berlin Bunker are still vivid in my mind, and I still remember as if it were yesterday the words of the Führer's deputy, Martin Bormann, as we fled the shores of Europe in the Spring of 1946. "Only under Hitler can Germany ever hope for real spiritual and geographic unification." But the image that springs to my mind at the mention of Hitler's name is not that of the dynamic, dominating dictator. It is of a grotesque cripple, a man feebly clinging to life in the deathly wastes of the South Polar ice cap.
The most macabre adventure of my career as a professional espi onage agent began one July day in 1952. I had left Spain to live with my wife and family in Mexico three years before and settled in Cuidad Juarez, a small town close to the U.S. border. Ostensibly, I was working for the GARCIA VALSECA newspaper group as Literary Editor of a weekly supplement. But as always, my real work was with the Nazis, helping establish, for the expanding Party in Central and South America, a communications system for their intelligence service. It was a routine job with little travel and no risk. I began again to think that my usefulness to the Nazi cause had passed its peak. That is, until the day in July 1952 when I received a routine message ordering me to report to an isolated region on the southern tip of South America where I would be taken to see a "most important person." I naturally assumed that this most important person referred to in my orders would be my old friend, Martin Bormann. But I was wrong. Even now, after years of self-interrogation, I am forced to the conclusion that the man I met was no less a person than the Führer himself, Adolf Hitler.
I felt the old excitement as I drove to the airport. Once again, I was called to serve my Nazi masters. I wondered what mission they had in line for me. I was still wondering when, after several changes of aircraft and many hours of frustrating delay, I finally arrived at the airfield named in my instructions. The airstrip was in wild, forbidding country in the southernmost part of the Argentine. I had been expected and when I entered the only building, a rough wooden shack in one corner of the field, I was greeted by a blond Aryan type who turned out to be a former Luftwaffe pilot. Our transport, a twin-engined freight plane, was parked, already fueled, at the far end of the runway. Without further delay, the pilot told me to follow him and we boarded the aircraft. To me, sitting in the co-pilot's seat, it seemed impossible that the big plane could take off from the tiny strip. But my pilot coaxed her into the air and within an hour, we were crossing the coast five thousand feet below. I had asked him where we were bound, but was not surprised when he refused to discuss our destination. He simply explained that there was no difficulty involved in our flight, since there had been none of the usual formalities at the airstrip we had used. The only clue to our ultimate destination was that the aircraft was fitted with skis as well as wheels and now as we flew, I noticed that our compass was bearing steadily south-east. Incredibly, we were flying towards the South Pole!
For several hours we flew over endless wastes of ice with never a sign of life or vegetation. My pilot seemed to know our route well, for he made few references to maps or navigational aids. Finally, after the briefest check on the, to me, meaningless and patternless terrain below, he eased back the twin throttles and dipped towards the ground. We came to land on a smoother tract of snow, and it was not until the aircraft was almost stationary that I picked out the angular outlines of a snow-covered hangar and a cluster of buildings grouped a hundred yards farther on. We taxied towards the main hangar and, with a final burst of power from the engines, slid to a halt. After the continual roar of the motors alongside me, the silence of that Arctic waste was unearthly. I hardly expected to find other human beings in what seemed a ghost town in the snow, but as soon as our aircraft stopped, a party of well-muffled men left the shelter of the hangar and walked towards us. They greeted my pilot as an old friend and welcomed me in polite German. One of them provided me with a heavy, fur-lined topcoat and urged me to hurry to the nearest house, one hundred paces away. Once in the house, a wooden single-story affair, I was handed a steaming hot drink and shown to my quarters. My room was hardly bigger than a normal sized bathroom, but there was a comfortable bed and a chest of drawers, which was quite sufficient for my needs. I found there were similar rooms in the building, plus a larger room where all the occupants ate their meals together.
At that time, there appeared to be only myself and the three men who met me, and a white-jacketed servant who cooked and served our food. Dinner that night found me no nearer the solution to the mystery of this desolate Polar settlement. No one had volunteered why I, or anyone else for that matter, was here. My few attempts at questioning my com- panions had brought me stares as blank as our surroundings and an infuriating stone wall response. During the meal, I was excluded almost entirely from the others' conversation and was thankful to excuse myself on the grounds of tiredness, and retreat to my room. I lay on the cot that night with a thousand questions buzzing around my brain. Why was I here? Where was I going? And, most important of all, who was I to meet? And what were the connections between this God-forsaken outpost and the photographs of two teen-age children I had been instructed to bring with me? I took the photos from my briefcase and studied them again. I knew these children well. In the past six months, I had received repeated instructions to check on their well-being. Several times I had visited their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I understood they had been brought over from Lisbon, Portugal in 1951. Often I had watched them from a discreet distance and taken photographs of them on their way to and from school. In what way were they linked with this mystery man I had flown three thousand miles to meet?
It was nearly mid-day August 10th when one of the men who I had met, came to my room and announced "Senor Gomez, today you are going to meet the Führer." He mentioned the title so matter-of-factly that at first I did not grasp what he meant. "The Führer?" I asked. "Who do you mean when you say the Führer? " The man stared at me as if I was mad. "There is only one," he replied. "Adolf Hitler." Abruptly, he motioned me to follow him and turned on his heel. Dumbfounded, I let him lead me out of the house and across the snow to another, larger building. Just inside, he stopped and knocked on the door of a room leading off from the hallway. A muffled voice answered his knock. He threw open the door and ushered me in. There were four men in the room. Three of them were standing, but these I scarcely noticed. My attention was riveted on the fourth man, who was seated behind a large wooden desk facing the door. I knew instantly that this must be the man I had heard referred to as the Führer. But if this was Hitler, then he was barely recognizable as the man whom I had seen leaving the Berlin Bunker in April, 1945.
To recognize in this person the Hitler who had dominated Germany for twelve years, it was necessary to have a willing imagination. This man had no mustache. He was completely bald and the skin of his cheeks and temples had been stretched out of shape and left taut across the cheekbones. Yet his forehead and chin were heavily wrinkled and lined, and an inch-long scar showed white on his left temple. This sinister face was framed against a huge scarlet and black Nazi banner which hung on the wall at his back. One of the three men standing to my left led me forward and introduced me to the figure behind the desk. I came to attention and gave the Nazi salute. The man behind the desk smiled fleetingly and acknowl edged me with a slight wave of the right hand. Hitler, if Hitler it was, received me sitting down and later I learned that he had difficulty in standing. I could see that his left arm was semi-paralyzed and useless. His face was grey and every few moments, he had to wipe a trickle of saliva from his sagging chin. When he did this, I noticed that his thin, wrinkled hand trembled violently. He looked like a man from whom most of the life had been wrung and his eyes were dull and almost devoid of spark. He wore a dark blue double breasted suit with a Nazi Party emblem in the lapel, but the suit fitted him badly and hung limply from his narrow shoulders. The man who ushered me to the desk now bade me sit down and produced a file of papers which he set in front of the old man before me. After a brief glance at the papers, he began to ask me questions in a thin, hesitant voice questions about South America, and the political and economic states of various countries of that continent, but he spoke as if not really interested, and I had to lean forward in order to catch his words properly. I was gripped with such a strong feeling of dream-like unreality that I had to concentrate hard to answer intelligently.
He continued to ask questions, now about the strength of the Nazi movement in South America and about my work for the cause of National Socialism. Yet only once did he show any signs of life and real interest, when with a sudden clench-fisted movement of his right arm, he asked me "Have you the pictures of the two children?" It was as "the children" or "that boy" that he referred to them throughout, never giving a hint of his relationship to them, if any. I only knew the boy's name was Adolfo and he was then about sixteen. The girl's name was Stern, German for Star. When he asked, I produced a pack of some fifty or sixty photographs of the children. I told the Führer that they seemed well and happy. As I spoke, he pored eagerly over the pictures and when I had finished, the questioning ceased. Without further sign from the old man behind the desk, the interview was over. One of the others in the room stepped up and tapped me on the shoulder, motioning me silently to leave. I rose, bowed slightly to the man at the desk, and left the room. The following day, I was flown back to Argentina. I never again saw the man they called the Führer.
Throughout the flight, I cast my mind continually back to the macabre meeting with the hunched, shriveled man sitting in a Swastika decorated room in that little hut on the South Polar ice cap; the man his companions referred to as "the Führer." Could this shrunken old man have been the one-time ranting, dominating dictator whom I had last seen in the Berlin Führerbunker during the collapse of Nazi Germany? Was this poor creature, now presiding over a million square miles of nothing, the same as he who had conquered a continent? Was this Adolf Hitler? I remembered the long conversations I had had with Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann, during our long flight together out of Europe six years before. Then, Bormann told me how he had planned the escape of the Führer from the flaming hell of Berlin and how he planned to keep him hidden away until Nazism was again strong enough to lead Germany to freedom. Now, as our aircraft droned on towards South America, I was filled with excitement. It seemed likely that all Bormann had told me was perfectly accurate, and that the Nazi Party would indeed prove strong and resilient enough to re-emerge.
Upon my return to my home in Cuidad Juarez, a little Mexican town close to the U.S. border, I settled down to await orders from the Nazi underground movement which I still served. My task, under the guise of working for a newspaper group, was to organize and seek contact with Nazi sympathizers in Central America, and to this end I received orders on a radio receiver-transmitter which I kept in the bedroom of my house. It was just strong enough - it had a range of some 100 miles - to keep me in touch with the next link in the chain of party workers strung the length of South America. But the days of waiting for the big news stretched into weeks; the weeks into months; and the months into years. The messages I did get were trivial. There was no sign of a call to arms from Bormann or any of the other high-ranking Nazi Party chiefs who had escaped.
In early 1957, I decided to quit working for my Nazi masters. I yearned to return to my native Spain and settle there once more with my wife and children, and spend the rest of my life making up to them the time I had spent on the Nazis. But my plans were delayed. On June 6th, 1957 my radio received brought me news which was to send me chasing through South America for yet another meeting with Martin Bormann. At first I balked at the uninformative order to proceed to Panama City and await further contact with another Nazi agent. Instead of following my orders as I had done for so long, I decided to take the bold step of flying direct to Germany to make contact with the men at the heart of the Nazi cause. Here I hoped to get more definite instructions. If I did not, I resolved to quit the organization altogether and move back to a quiet life in Madrid. To cover my trip, I proposed to my newspaper boss that I fly to Europe for a series of interviews. I managed to arrange one with General Franco, and this was sufficient to justify my journey, and I duly left. But immediately after my audience with Franco, I set out across Europe to the German town of Köln.
Köln had replaced München as the new shrine of Nazism and it was here, I knew, that men such as Bormann came from all over the world for top-level talks on the Nazi situation at least once a year. The way I made contact with the Nazi underground movement was to insert a specially worded advertisement in a Köln newspaper, giving my whereabouts. The day the ad appeared, I took a telephone call at my hotel and was instructed to attend a rendezvous at a certain cafe in the city. There I was met by a man I had known during the war, a former SS officer, who is now among the group of highly important men who control the new Nazi party in Germany. This man took me to his home on Wagnerstrasse where I stayed for two days. I explained my feelings to him and asked him to be more explicit about the trip I was supposed to make from Panama City, but he refused to be drawn. He simply said that the High Command had requested me to attend one of their meetings somewhere in South America. He only added that when I got there, I would appreciate the reason why I had been sent for. This news reversed my pervious decision not to go. I resolved that I would make one more journey into South America, for I guessed that a request from the High Command could only lead to a meeting with Martin Bormann, the Nazi fugitive I had not seen since the day we stepped from a "pirate" U-Boat off the coast of Argentina ten years before.
I returned immediately to Mexico and laid plans for my last journey at the bidding of Nazi Intelligence. First, I packed my wife back to Spain and told her I would rejoin her quite soon. Then, with my eldest son Angel, I moved to Chihuahua. The next step was to shake off the American counter-espionage agent of the CIA who had me under observation. This was not difficult since I had passed on considerable information about the activities of a Communist cell in Mexico to the U.S. military attache in Mexico City. The CIA agents who kept tabs on me did not seem unduly interested when I let it be known that I was to embark on a tour of Latin American countries with a bullfighting circus. I had great fun setting up my traveling bullring. I'd been a pretty good bullfighter myself in the arenas of Spain in the early 1930s and I looked forward to the trip as a pleasant holiday. As I say, I took my son with me and also recruited a young woman who was trying to make a name for herself in the somewhat crude bull-fights of Latin America. It would be useful to have her along, I thought. Having her in the show gave it an attraction and made my travels appear to be a serious business venture. I bought all the equipment we needed in Mexico City.
We set out for Panama, traveling via El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. All the way down, my little show and the woman bullfighter, whom I had rechristened "Lola Montez," proved a big attraction. Just outside Panama City, in a little town called Davis, I met my contact agent. He was a German named Karl who had taken up cattle breeding. He had apparently been in the business since about 1947. I guessed his story. Anyway, he informed me that I was to travel to Ecuador, and he gave me the location of a farm in the state of Cuenta in that country where, he said, the High Command meeting was due to take place. I plodded on with my traveling bullring. It was hard work, since I found myself having to go into the ring myself to rouse the bulls sufficiently to make a show of it for the now deadly efficient Lola. It was usual, when we arrived in any town, for me to travel around searching for reasonably impressive bulls, which were hard to come by. Consequently, when we finally got to Cuenta, I hired a truck and gave the driver the address of the farm, as told to me by Karl. Unfortunately, the truck was unable to go the whole way and I had to resort to hiring a mule, which picked its way towards the farm, nestled in the foothills of the Andes.
The journey on the back of a mule proved as hair-raising as any I had ever made. Some of the ravines we were forced to cross here were spanned by planks of wood, no more than 18 inches wide, and I found myself hanging on terrified to the neck of the mule. Worn out but thankful that I had not come to any great harm, I reached the farm. It was a large, splintery wooden house with several smaller cabins dotted around, and as I walked across the dusty ground towards the house, I was approached by the apparent owner, an Ecuadorian, and a posse of about fifty Indians. Quickly, I explained that I had come for the meeting. "Meeting?" said the man without emotion. "There is no meeting here." Mystified and more than a little annoyed, I turned to go. But the man called me back and said that since I had obviously come a long way, he would be pleased if I would join him in a drink. He led me into the house and poured me a glass of the local spirit, a rather fierce drink rather like brandy to taste but with twice the kick. We talked in Spanish about nothing very much for a minute or two, at the end of which I drank up and made my farewell. I was just about to leave the house when a sunburned but obviously European man appeared in the doorway. "Are you Don Angel Alcazar de Velasco?" he asked in German ("Sind Sie Don Angel Alcazar de Velasco?"). "Yes," I replied. "Then come this way," he said and led me through a door and up a flight of narrow wooden stairs. At the top of the stairs, he hesitated a moment, then threw open the door and bade me enter. I walked into a very large room where seven men were seated around a long, cloth-covered table. And there, smiling a welcome from the top of the table, was Martin Bormann.
I recognized him instantly, but ten years had left their mark on his features. He was now almost completely bald and had deep pouches on his cheeks, but in his eyes and smiles there was no mistaking the man I had brought out of Europe. I made the Nazi salute as I entered the room and the group responded immediately by rising and answering "Heil Hitler!" Martin was first to speak, "Man, you've grown old, Angel" "And the years have made a difference to you, too, Martin," I countered with a chuckle. Bormann invited me to sit down at the table and join himself and the others for coffee. He made no attempt to introduce me to these men, mostly Germans, and I recognized none of them. He ladled my coffee out from a large bowl on the table and as he did so, he remarked "I have been keeping track of you ever since we parted, Angel. I have seen plenty of reports about your good work for us, plus a few reports which you have made out yourself. I wanted to tell you per- sonally how pleased I am with the work you have done for the party." I sipped my coffee, thanked him, and replied, "I myself have thought often about you and of the trip we made together."
Bormann insisted then that I should go downstairs and wash the dust from my body and rest before joining him at dinner. As I left the room, I nodded curtly to the other men at the table, each of whom had a pile of papers in front of him, as if each had been given an agenda for an impor- tant board meeting. I went downstairs and was shown to a room where I lay down on a single bed and slept for about an hour. I was woken and invited upstairs again, where Bormann and his friends were preparing to dine. A place for me had been laid on the rough wooden table on Bormann's right-hand side. During dinner, thick soup eaten from heavy earthenware bowls, Bormann talked earnestly to me, questioning with great enthusiasm. He wanted to know everything I had learned about Central and South America in the years I had lived there since last we met. Furthermore, he wanted to know who I knew in South American pol itics and what the situation was, as I saw it, with the organization of underground Nazi agents in the continent. He listened intently while I outlined the social, political and economic affairs of those agents I knew personally. Then he pressed me for my views about certain Latin states and their ripeness for revolutionary take-over. On this subject, the other men began interjecting with their own questions; about armaments, finance and the structure of various governments until at the end of an hour, I felt like a well-squeezed lemon. I did not mention that I had recently been to Europe and they did not mention that part of the world.
Bormann did not tell me too much about himself and his life in South America, but I gathered that he had been well employed and dug his fingers into many different political pies. But he did mention that he had been successful in setting up a number of youth movements along the same lines as the old Hitler Youth; those children who had proved their worth in the battle-scarred streets of Berlin in 1945. But there was one thing above all, that I wanted to tell Bormann; and one question above all, that I wanted to ask. First, I informed Bormann that I had decided to end my work for the Nazi cause and return to Madrid and my family. He did not seem surprised, but asked me to think again. "This is not the time to think about leaving us," he said fiercely. "After all we have fought for over the years, now we can see the chance of realizing our ambitions. Our party is now the strongest in South America and the revival of Nazi Germany is only a matter of a short time, a few years at the most. It has taken longer than planned I know, but soon we shall be in a position to put Germany back on the road to triumphs such as the Führer dreamed of in 1939." He paused after this speech. "It seems silly for you to leave us," he concluded, "when everything you have been working for is about to take on some meaning." But I would not be persuaded. "I am glad that things are turning your way, Martin," I answered. "But I have lost much of my energies. I do not feel up to taking on further work. In a word, I am tired." Bormann accepted my decision without further comment and changed the subject. I waited for my opportunity during the meal before asking my million-dollar question. "What of the Führer?" The question brought dead silence from all around the table. Bormann answered slowly. "I don't follow. What about him?" "Is he still waiting?" I asked. "I planned to bring the Führer back into Germany at the correct psychological moment," said Bormann. "That plan is now abandoned." "Does that mean Adolf Hitler is now dead?" I asked. Bormann shrugged. He refused to answer me, but turned the subject quickly and pointedly.
Bormann's last question during that strange meal was to ask me an out-of-character inquiry for this once publicity-hating man. He wished to know if people in Europe still talked about him. "The people, yes. They are still talking about you. But you are rarely named in the press these days," I told him. "That is good; that is good," came his reply. I left Bormann the next morning. We parted solemnly, both expressing the wish and hope that we would meet again some time, some place and in more happy circumstances. The last words he ever spoke to me were these. "I promised you once that I would return to Germany and that is still my promise. The destiny of the Fatherland lies with the National Socialist Party and its Führer. Heil Hitler! " I clambered onto my mule and without looking back on the group of men standing near the farmhouse at the foot of the Andes, I returned to Cuenta. As soon as I could arrange a booking, I returned at the first opportunity to my home in Madrid. I had finished serving my Nazi masters. I had given them two decades of my life; two decades in which I had risked my life and made myself prematurely old with worry. I do not work for them now, but thousands of others are helping to keep the Nazi cause alive and I am sure of that. However hard the democratic powers try to delay it, the re-emergence of the Nazi creed in Europe is bound to occur. I know. I have seen the men who are working for that end. They have power. They have influence. They have the financial determination to put Germany back on top of the heap. They also have Martin Bormann. While men like him live, Nazism will never die.
- Don Angel Alcazar de Velasco