Did Hitler Escape To South America?
A 1997 report by Sean David Morton revealed as World War II ended, a female Nazi Intelligence Officer named Magda Zeitfeld offered her services to the United States Government. One of Germany`s top intelligence agents, she stripped off her uniform, put on a fetching red dress and surrendered to Col. Kevin Stapleford, head of the OSS (Allied Intelligence).
That did not, however, explain why the originally thin, straight nose of Corporal Hitler gave way to the large, exaggerated nostrils of the Führer.
Stalin was never convinced, but went along with the public version of the story. He did not want to tarnish the Russian victory or embarrass his country by letting the world know that they had let Adolf Hitler slip through their fingers. But they had.
In 1981, a retired US Army Colonel named Wendell Stephens made a trip to Ecuador. During his trip, he met a priest in a small town called Cuenca. The priest was named Father Krespi, and Col. Stephens was convinced he was in fact Adolf Hitler. He could not get people to listen to his claims that this priest was in fact Hitler. He examined thousands of Hitler photos, and was more and more concerned he has found Hitler. He even described priceless artwork that Father Krespi had in his secluded home in the mountains of Ecuador. But nobody would listen to his claims.
After her surrender at wars end, Magda Zeitfeldhad eventually married US Army Col Kevin Stapleford, the very man she had surrendered to. Col Stapleford had also known Col Stephens. In 1981, Stapleford had passed away, and Stephens made a visit to his widow. During his visit, he explained his meeting with Father Krespi and his suspicions, and convinced Magda to accompy him to visit Father Krespi and confirm or deny his suspicions. When Magda met Krespi, she too was sure it was in fact Hitler. He had the same features she had helped her father sketch out all those years ago. And she also was convinced by a specific piece of art that the Father had. She knew it as the same piece of art that had been a favorite of Hitler’s. It had hung behind him at his Reich Chancellery Office, there was no mistake.
Father Krespi`s background is mysterious, and correlates directly to the story told by Magda. Krespi claimed to have come from an Italian/Austrian family in Northern Italy, and came to the Vatican to study in 1943. He took seminary, did his time as a novitiate and was ordained into the priesthood, all within the protective walls of the Vatican, an unheard of practice that has never been repeated before or since. In fact, Krespi never set foot outside Vatican City, which has the status and diplomatic immunity of a Sovereign Country, recognized by every nation state in the world. Krespi was given a position far above his humble rank and status as a Novitiate, of Art Curator of the Vatican Archives, more popularly called `The Catacombs` because they consist of a series of highly secure tunnels and vaults under Vatican City., a city with the status and diplomatic immunity of a sovereign nation. Krespi was given a position as Curator of Art for the Vatican Achieves, a position far above his humble rank as Novitiate. This made him responsible for viewing and cataloging a collection valued at billions of dollars, and put him in the singularly unique position of being the receiver of the priceless collections that had been looted by the Nazis in Europe, much of which some how fell into the Vatican’s hands. Krespi spoke fluent Italian with a perfect accent. Magda later pointed out the fact that Hitler’s mother was from Northern Italy and spoke Italian as her first language. Hitler himself learned Italian as his first language, and spoke Italian almost always in Italian until he was around 12 years old. He would even revert to Italian when he was angry, and never used an interpreter when he met with Mussolini. It is probably where he got the rhythm that hypnotized people.
After his passing, some interesting things were discovered about him. He left behind millions of dollars worth of artwork. Magda and others later identified much of this artwork as belonging to the private collection of Adolf Hitler. Hitler, an artist himself, had accumulated quite a private collection, which was never located, was never found after the war. Witnesses say that soon after the funeral on 16 May 1993, two cargo jets were loaded with Father Krespi’s art collection and departed. It has never been seen again. The Chief of Police for the town of Cuence reported that what he termed as “teams of European men” invaded the small town the day prior to the funeral. Several attendees of the funeral were German, and had armed escorts.
There was a strong Germanic influence in various regions throughout South America. The Germans could go anywhere there and could move around quite freely without the North Americans (U.S. & Canada) knowing a whole lot about what they were doing. This may have been because the folks in South America liked the Germans, and they hated us.
All the South Americans got from the Gringos in El Norte, was a lot of talk, broken promises, and the continuation of the same kind of colonial patronizing and oppression that they had suffered under the Spanish and the Portuguese for hundreds of years. When the Germans said they were going to do something, they did it, and when they made a deal, stuck to it to the letter. They built dams, brought hydroelectric plants, telephones, heavy industry, and contributed most of what has brought South America into the 20th Century. All that they brought in science and engineering expertise cemented their friendly relations with all of South America, but most especially with Juan and Evita Peron of Argentina.
When the Germans brought all of this advanced technology over to South America, they weren't about to release any information as to the type of technological advancements they actually had to any of the peoples of that continent. The countries benefited from the Germans, and the Germans greatly benefited in return. They had gotten a lock on resources and the use of their land, and had virtually unlimited money to finance their projects from decentralized German industries -- and South America thought that they would gain a secure economic base as a result. So the factories were installed and for a time they were selling goods all over the world. Naturally the South Americans loved them.
The only thing that held the Germans plans back were North American Missionaries repeatedly and insistently demanding that all Hispanic peoples (and in turn their countries) deal with Canadians and Americans -- instead of the Germans. How does one change the sentiments of the Vatican and the Catholic Church? Well, one way is to the change the sentiment of their missionaries. Oddly enough, Lt. Colonel Wendelle Stevens (Ret.) found himself running into a great deal of convincing evidence that made it harder and harder for him to deny the strong possibility that a Catholic Missionary Priest, whom he had met and who's church he had visited in Ecuador, had a greater connection with the Third Reich than anyone could ever imagine.
Colonel Kevin Stapleford had bought a house and property from a man that just so happened to be a friend of Colonel Stevens. Regrettably, Colonel Stapleford died of a heart attack shortly after he had purchased the house. This all happened right after Stevens had taken an extensive investigative trip to Ecuador. When the Colonel returned home he received a call from the friend of his whom had sold the Staplefords the property. His friend said he had a problem and asked if the Colonel could help. He told Steven's that the man was a Retired Air Force Colonel and that he had a German war bride. He said she probably didn't know anything about U.S. Military Affairs and asked the Colonel if he'd go over and help her sort through it all. He felt rather bad for Magda, the widow of the dead colonel, and knew that it might be difficult to sort through all the "Military Affairs". Wendelle felt that he could help her arrange the military burial, and assist Magda with getting the proper insurance and benefits that were due her after her husband's long decorated career.
When Colonel Stevens arrived at Magda Stapelford's house, the first thing he noticed was a fabulous collection of exquisite fine art including a big wall plaque about 6' long by 2-1/2' high in deep relief in solid silver hanging on the wall behind a carved oak dining table that had 12 high back chairs with plush cushions and fine appointments. They had solid silver table servers and there was a solid silver fruit basket at the middle of the table. Being an art aficionado and rather somewhat of an expert amateur art historian, he immediately recognized the taste, time and money that had gone into such a fine collection.
Magda invited Stevens into the sitting room and came out of the kitchen with a tea service on an ornate silver tray, and delicately poured the Colonel a cup of tea.
"The art in your home is really magnificent," Stevens said looking around, as Magda settled in and poured herself a cup with two lumps and cream.
"My husband respected and appreciated nice things," she said in a deep, melodic German drawl, sounding like Marlene Dietrich.
"They look almost familiar", Stevens said, still looking about. "They look very much like so many of the pieces I just recently saw down in Ecuador."
Magda Stapleford stopped drinking her tea in mid sip, gently put down here cup, raised her head and looking intensely at Stevens with her crystal blue eyes, and said softly, "Ecuador?"
"Why...yes..." Wendelle was taken aback by her sudden interest. "Oh, my...it was incredible! There were masterpieces from all over the world there; almost a billion dollars in priceless artwork, all stored in a little Catholic Church. The Church is of the Saliciano sect, who are the poorest of the poor among the Catholics, taking the very severest vows of poverty." Wendelle chuckled, "It's almost funny that they are so poor and yet are sitting on all this treasure!"
Magda leaned forward in fascination, warming to Wendelle, and one thing the old Colonel loved to do was tell a story to an interested audience.
"We met with a man named Father Krispi, who wore a cassock that was frayed on the bottom, and his toes stuck out of his shoes so that he had to put cardboard in to cover the holes in the sole." Wendelle went on. "It was part of their discipline that they have to wear clothes until they completely fall apart. They're not allowed to waste anything."
Wendelle stopped and put his hand to his chin in thought. He and Magda were getting on so well, he thought, What the hell! "Say, on my way over I stopped by the photo shop and picked up the pictures from my trip." Magda's eyes lit up. "If it wouldn't bore you, I've been dying to show them off to someone!"
Magda clapped her hands together in a grand gesture. "Wonderful!" she exclaimed, and Wendelle, like a kid going to fetch a new toy, hurried out to the car to get the slides.
Some time later, some 60 slides were spread out over the grand dining room table, and they took turns holding them up to the light of the ball room sized Austrian crystal chandelier.
Magda carefully picked up one slide in particular. Wendelle looked at it sideways, as she held it to the light and adjusted her glasses to focus her eyes.
"Oh that one was a beauty!" Wendelle said, showing off his knowledge of art history. "It was painted by Raphael when he was only fifteen years old in the early classical style, in 1498 or 1499. An amazing piece!"
The painting was set against a pastoral country background in a grove of trees growing up to the right, open blue sky on the left and a river and some low hills rolling off in the distance. The painting itself was of a young, cherubic, round faced shepherd boy with curly golden hair and a halo above his head. He is wearing a tattered skin, hanging loosely from his right shoulder, leaving his left arm and breast bare. On his left, he has his hand around the neck of an adoring sheep nuzzling his side. In his right hand is a staff, just a little taller than himself, ending in the sign of a cross, with a ribbon flowing from the cross bar, which appears to read "Jesus Rex" in Latin.
Magda gave a little gasp and put her hand to her mouth.
"Oh my God!" she whispered into her hand and the color began to run from her rosy cheeks. Her already Nordic complexion paled.
"Are you alright?" Wendelle said, stopping his revere, noticing her sudden change.
She slowly put the slide back on the table shaking her head from side to side in utter disbelief.
."It hung over his shoulder. Over his shoulder...."
"Whose shoulder?" Wendelle asked, not sure he had heard her correctly.
She ignored his question, and began to look feverishly through the rest of the slides. She recognized another one, and brought it to Wendelle's attention for him to explain.
"Well, ah," Wendelle was now a bit taken aback by Magda's sudden demeanour and insistence. "It was a painting done on Moorish translucent marble. The piece had been taken out of a wall -- it had to be mounted in a wall with the sun behind in order to see the painting. The whole thing was raised and had to be chiselled in reverse."
"Was there a frame or anything around it?" she asked.
"No, it was...."
"Were there anything that looked like numbers or symbols of some kind along the edges?"
"Well, yes," Stevens said, surprised she would know something of such detail. Who was this woman? He thought getting suddenly suspicious. "But I don't read German and I wasn't sure which they were...numbers, symbols or some kind of identification markings...."
Magda went into the next room and came back with a pad of ornately decorated colored and perfumed stationary. She half wrote and sketched something on the pad and then turned it towards Stevens.
"Is that it? Is that what you saw?" she insisted.
The old Colonel looked down at the paper in surprise.
"Why yes! That is exactly what I saw!"
"Mein Gott!" she exclaimed, throwing up her hands, then jabbing at the pad. "That piece had been in my family for generations. For hundreds of years! They looted it from our ancestral castle in Bavaria. Bastards!"
"Who? Who took it?" Stevens was really confused now.
"The Nazis!" she said like an expletive. "The Nazis. They took everything!"
Stevens thought for a long moment before he went on.
"We went to Ecuador to look for old Spanish art, " he said, now trying to match up various stories in his head. "There seemed to be other evidence that indicated that many of the other paintings had also come from Europe. I saw one that had brass marks on the back of it indicating that it was "Property of Gran Montrouge, Paris."
Magda nodded her head, and waived her hand in confirmation.
"There were a lot of French Colonials." Stevens went on. "Mostly all masters. Some were just the stretched canvas frames, some were in very lavish decorative frames, and others were just loose canvasses cut loose from their frames with a few slashes from a bayonet. Some were in rolls. Some were laid flat in a stack, with others on top of them. I was told that there were 3,200 in all. I didn't count them, obviously, but it sounded about right because they filled an entire room very large room, right up to the ceiling."
Magda leaned forward, deadly serious, and fixed Wendelle Stevens in a glare that almost froze his blood. He was beginning to feel like an American POW being interrogated. This seemingly warm, soft, gentle, elegant woman had now turned to glacial ice and snow.
"Tell me", she said, slowly choosing her words, "all about this Father Krespi."
"Well," Colonel Stevens started taking a breath, turning his photographic memory, trained by 26 years of aerial Reconn, to the problem. "Father Krespi is little over 5 feet tall. About 5'2" or 5'3". Slightly shorter than me, and I'm 5'-6". He had long unkempt hair, just a little past his shoulders, gray, combed straight back off his forehead. He had a long beard that came down to his chest. He wore a Saliciano cassock that was frayed at the bottom, the soles of his shoes had holes clear through, like I told you before. I saw other priests in that order who had soles almost completely worn through. As I said, they all had taken vows of abject poverty. They couldn't own a ring, or anything else for that matter. Krespi slept in a cell on a stone floor with only one blanket."
"His features," Magda pressed. "Tell me what he looked like. Go into every detail you can possibly remember. Leave out nothing."
"And I'm not boring you?" he said, trying to lighten up the conversation
"Remember, I am German." she said. "Leave nothing out!"
The Colonel described very carefully, every detail of Krespi's largish dimpled ears, his teeth, his chin his high, sweeping, wrinkled forehead, his eyes, with deep bags, that drooped down at the sides under a very pronounced eyebrow ridge, and his most striking feature, his bright blue eyes.
"How did he walk?" Magda interrupted.
"How did he...?"
"His walk....please", she gestured with her hand for him to get up. "Please, show me!"
Wendelle got up and went to the far side of the long table, thinking about how to get it just right.
"Well, he kept his hands behind his back, and sort of swaggered, kind of kicking out his knees," Stevens began to laugh as he demonstrated, feeling like he was someone modeling clothes. "Come to think of it, it seemed a little odd...his walk I mean, for this humble little priest."
"Show me how he sat down and got up", Magda asked, and Wendelle did so, his curiosity getting the better of his manners.
"Alright," Stevens said in a polite, but firm manner. "Why don't you tell me what this is all about?"
Magda sat in silence for a long while, swimming back through many painful memories and years. Then she told him her story.
Hitler did not make a single speech after late 1943, and his public appearances became virtually nil. With his amazing gift to sway the masses with his hypnotic rhetoric, one would think he would be constantly speaking and rallying the people and the army on to victory for his dream of the thousand year Reich, even for what he might have felt was a lost cause. In fact, his last public appearance, to a small group of school children and Hitler youth was in February of 1945. It was extensively filmed, and he shook their hands as he strolled along the row of children in a straight line, with a pleased, happy, almost idiotic, grin on his face, looking as if he didn't have a care in the world, barely saying a word. Since Hitler, or his doubles, weren't anywhere to be seen after this time, it led the Allies, and even the doltish Russians, to believe that he had already escaped long before the Communists butchered Berlin.
Martin Borman was the second ranking member of the Nazi Party. He masterminded the decentralization of German Industry. Borman conducted several meetings with the industrialists, in Berlin and other places, which resulted in the actual movement of these companies -- moving them out of Germany -- and not placing them in one centralized location. Decentralization was one of the Nazi's original goals, but no large-scale efforts to achieve it were ever made prior to 1943. Martin Borman then disappeared from the scene. He was given sanctuary by the Vatican, which we have definite proof and evidence of, and they arranged for his safety and travel plans out of Europe to South America. He went to Argentina first, where he supposedly set up headquarters and made arrangements for others to follow. He apparently moved from there to Cuenca, Ecuador. Magda believed, from her own sources and those of her OSS/CIA husband, that a Fourth Reich had successfully been created, run by Martin Borman himself, and its headquarters were there in Cuenca. The same location, Magda observed, as Colonel Stevens', Father Krespi.
The name of Krespi was actually an alias that was given to Hitler in 1943, when all this was going on. It was the German derivative of St. Crispin, and it was on St. Crispin's day that one of the most famous battles in all history was fought. Hitler was a keen student of history, and an avid fan and aficionado of Shakespeare. It would not be lost on him that the Battle of Agincourt, fought by King Henry V, pitted a small band of English, fighting on foreign soil, against thousands of French. Hopelessly outnumbered, outflanked and in the face of certain death and defeat, the soliloquy made by Good King Harry in Henry V, Act V, scene 3 is worth repeating as one of the greatest inspirational speeches of all time, and takes on an eerie significance in light of these events, the break up of Germany, and the flight of Hitler and his top political cronies.
He who hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man's company. That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the feast of Crispian: He that outlives this day and comes safe home, Will stand a tiptoe when this day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors, And say, 'Tomorrow is Saint Crispian": Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, And say, 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day." Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages. What feats he did that day. Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words, Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered?
This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile This day shall gentle his condition: And gentleman in England, now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day!
Of course the small band of Britons defeated the entire French army that fateful day with not a single casualty. Was the opening line, ""He which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man's company That fears his fellowship to die with us." the opinion of Hitler held by his associates in the High Command, the ones who were sending him away, or was the rest of the speech to represent some grand future resurrection and victory at some future time?
Despite these romantic, heroic visions, the top ranking Nazi officials knew they couldn't win the war. They were all desperately trying to preserve the birthing of the Fourth Reich and at the same time trying to figure out a way of escape for themselves. There is a great deal of evidence that seems to indicate that they were making extensive plans to go underground for quite some time, even from before the beginning of the war, should their machinations fail, the DREAM of the Reich would continue.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) stems from an organization once known as the OSS, Overseas Secret Service also originally called the Office of Special Services, which worked very closely with Allied Intelligence forces throughout WWII. The then head of the OSS in Germany directly after the war was Colonel Kevin Stapleford. He was approached by a Senior SS Colonel, a female Nazi Intelligence Officer named Magda Zeitfeld, who wished to offer her services to the United States Government. She worked in Berchtesgeaden, and was apparently one of Germany's top intelligence agents. She had also been sending the Allies information since the spring of 1944, acting as a double agent, because the SS she worked for had murdered her father and brother, under very mysterious circumstances. When the war was over, she stripped off her uniform, put on a fetching red dress and surrendered to the Allies offering her services. The man she surrendered to, due to her counter-intel espionage for the Allies, was Col. Stapleford himself, and the head of the OSS and this former SS Colonel, later got married and settled in Tucson, Arizona.
Her father had the biggest plastic surgery clinic in Berlin. He was a pioneer in the field, and well financed by the Nazis, due to their obsession with physical perfection, and was doing a landmark business. He pioneered and specialized in implanted facial prosthetics, using highly advanced silicates to build up weak jaws and noses to fit the German fashion of chiselled strength. The father had put her and her brother through medical school to eventually join the family business. Soon there was a whole family of plastic surgeons. Though she showed exceptional artistry and talent, the war thwarted her medical ambitions.
Magda was cashiered into the military, received a direct commission into the German Army and was then hand picked by the SS due to her beauty, intelligence and medical background. She told her soon to be husband Colonel Stapleford, about three men, exceptionally high level Nazi officials, that were brought to her father's clinic under a veil of extreme security and secrecy in the fall of 1943. Her father and brother were required to drastically alter the appearance of each of the men.
The father and the son studied the faces of each of them for a few days, becoming intimately aquatinted with their features and bone structure. Unbeknownst to the Nazi's, her father and brother consulted Magda for her artistic abilities and opinion and asked her assistance in the final drawings. Three different sketches were drawn for each man, indicating the potential changes that could be made to each of their faces.
Strangely enough, they each chose faces with very large, exaggerated Semitic, Jewish noses. (One wonders if they didn't also give them the black horned rimmed glasses with the glued on fuzzy eyebrows to complete the disguise!) Through various bits of information they deduced that these men were preparing to board a submarine that was being prepared at Bremerhaven. They had to be ready by a certain time, a schedule the doctors barely met.
When their faces were altered, the post-op performed and the stitches were removed and the scars sufficiently healed, the three men disappeared, just as stealthily as they had arrived under the same supreme security.
Through local connections, and Magda's high security clearances, she picked up clues that the submarine was in the intelligence service, and that it had put out to sea in Bremerhaven, and that the sub had successfully run the Atlantic blockade and was in the South Pacific.
The men's names were never given to the plastic surgeons. No identities, nothing. The doctors were only given as much information as they would need to conduct the surgery requested. They worked on important "men". There were no documents, no paperwork, no nothing. Although the father, son and, unknown to the SS, Magda, were very well aware of who these "Men" were after such intimate study and contact.
Two of the men were Martin Borman and Adolf Hitler.
Magda had access to and supervised a program, which created four "Doppelgängers" or doubles for Hitler. Some of that work was also performed earlier at her family's clinic. This was all just considered a smart security decision. The four doubles, were all the same height and same build as the Führer, which was not a problem because he was a very 'average' looking man. The doubles were given voice and movement instruction, and they mastered Hitler's soft conversational voice and distinctive walk. Their faces and dental work were altered, and even their spines were broken in the same place where Hitler had been injured in the First World War. German efficiency left nothing to chance.
But the one thing that none of these Doppelgängers could ever hope to duplicate, was Hitler's hypnotic, charismatic public speaking style. His ability to sway a crowd had never been matched or equalled. The doubles would be good for public appearances, parties, or maybe meetings or briefings where Hitler was not expected to have that much interaction with his underlings.
"The doubles never addressed a crowd." Magda emphasized. "Statements were always read for them. That was the only way you could tell if it was really Hitler. The doubles just didn't have his charm. That's why you won't find Hitler speaking to a crowd on any WWII News Reels at any time after September of 1943. He had gone underground and if one of the doubles were to have given a speech everyone would have immediately realized the deception. Hitler was gone, the staff was running Germany, and the doubles were the figure heads."
It is an established fact that Hitler never gave a public speech after the fall of 1943 and most of his personal private staff were dispersed, relocated or given other assignments.
Two weeks after the "Men" left her family's clinic, and sufficient time had passed to be sure there was no need to go back for follow up treatment, the hospital was raided and the entire staff, including both Magda's father and brother, were brutally murdered, and the clinic was burned to the ground, files and all. Magda knew that it was the Nazi's who had done this, if fact it was a division within the SS for whom she worked. She knew they wanted to remove all the evidence and ensure that no one could describe what these men looked like then, or forever after. Well, this was her own family. She wasn't loyal enough to the Nazis to let this go without feeling some desire to avenge the brutal murder of her father and her brother.
In fact, there was not a single record left in all of Germany that could be used to identify Hitler after the war. Every doctor that had ever been affiliated with him, having even second hand knowledge, had simply vanished into thin air. The one exception to this was a lone dental assistant who been called in to help the dentist she worked for, clean Hitler's teeth on two occasions. When the "bones" of Hitler were brought out of their Berlin Bunker, the Bolsheviks asked her to draw a picture of what she remembered Hitler's teeth to look like. After ten hours of deliberation, which followed days of brutal interrogation of the hapless nurse, with Patton breathing down their neck, and the eyes of the world upon them, the Russians decided the sketch and the teeth they had matched. Stalin was not convinced, but went along with the public version of the story, not wanting to tarnish the Russian victory or embarrass himself or his country, by letting the world know that they had let Adolf Hitler slip through their fingers.
He was in fact, by then, history anyway.
Magda continued to work for the SS, even though she was rapidly becoming a potential asset to U.S. Intelligence, and began to leak information to the Allies. When the war ended she had no family to go back to. Germany had collapsed. She had nothing left. That's when she approached the OSS. She no longer feared what the Fourth Reich could do to her, there was nothing left for them to destroy. They had already taken her life. Upon offering her services to the United States, she found herself spending a great deal of time with Colonel Stapleford (the Head of the OSS) who couldn't wait to find out how much she knew. She knew a great deal and there was much that she wanted to tell him. He was intrigued by Nazi intelligence, but he was even more intrigued by Magda's intelligence. They fell in love and were married and moved from the bad memories of war torn Europe to the American Southwest.
The Colonel and Magda Stapleford moved to Arizona and took up residence in the northern part of Tucson, in the foothills there. The OSS went out of existence and was replaced by what is now the CIA. After that, Colonel Stapleford ended up going to work for Howard Hughes, as head of the Hughes Intelligence Network. The Colonel retired and then decided it was time for a change, so they sold their house and bought a new one.
"Whose shoulder did it hang over?" Wendelle Stevens asked her, breaking her reverie and bringing her with a jolt back to the present. "You said the painting of the Shepherd boy, the Raphael, hung over 'his' shoulder. Who?"
"Mein Führer", she replied flatly. "Adolf Hitler. I was in his office hundreds of times, and that was his favourite. It hung on the wall over his right shoulder every day that he was Chancellor."
She thought for a moment and jumped up. "Just a moment!" and she bustled into the next room.
Stevens had been all over the planet seeking out the strangest of the strange for most of his adult life, and now he truly marvelled at what he might have gotten himself into!! Could it be? Could this unassuming little priest be...?
Magda came back into the room with a pair of scissors in her hand, which she laid down on the table. She laid flat a black and white portrait that was over laid by a white sheet of paper. She had cut a large kidney shaped piece of the paper out, so that only the eyes, forehead and ears of the man in the picture were visible.
"Look at this very carefully." she said. "Examine every detail. You analyzed pictures for your American Air Force for many years, yes? Use all those talents to look at this now."
Wendelle leaned forward getting very close studying every facet of the obscured portrait. An involuntary shiver went through his body, his eyes went wide and a space began to open in his head as a terrifying realization dawned.
"Is that not your Father Krespi?" Magda demanded. "Are those his eyes? His forehead? His ears?"
"Why...yes. That is him exactly," Stevens said, his head swimming. "This man is much younger..." He reached for the slide on the table and held it up to the light, glancing back and forth. "But yes, without the wrinkles or liver spots...I would say that this is definitely the same man."
Magda dramatically took away the cover sheet like a magician pulling a cape from a successful illusion. "There is your 'Priest!' "she exclaimed, almost spitting out the last word.
The picture was Adolf Hitler.
"This is impossible!" Wendelle at last protested. "Hitler shot himself and his body was burned in that bunker!"
"Oh, dear man," Magda clucked, "we expected to fool the dull stupid Russians with that story. Not you clever Americans."
"But Father Krespi spoke fluent Italian, with a perfect accent to all the other priests and the people on his staff," Stevens protested. "Hitler didn't speak Italian."
Magda slowly smiled to her herself. "Did you know that Hitler's mother was a staunch Roman Catholic from northern Italy? Did you know that his first language was Italian, and it was all he spoke until he was 12 years old?"
Stevens was in shock.
"In any of the news reels or films," Magda went on slowly, "did you ever see an interpreter between him and Mussolini? No. Never. He used to speak Italian to his staff in the Chancellor's office all the time. He would even revert to it when he got angry. It's where he got that rhythm that so hypnotized people."
Stevens sat deep in thought for a long moment, then took a gamble. If this was all true it was one of the greatest stories he had ever heard, but it needed absolute confirmation.
"Come with me," he said suddenly. "Come with me to Ecuador. You can confirm it for your self, and meet him face to face."
Magda thought about it for a considered moment. "No...no, I cannot" she concluded at last. "If I was to go with you, it would be like signing my own death warrant. The Fourth Reich is very real and very powerful. If I was to meet him my life would not be worth, how do you say, 'a plug nickel'."
"But," she raised her finger to make a point, "If Father Krespi and Adolf Hitler are one in the same, which I am convinced of, and the reports that Martin Borman later moved to Cuence, Ecuador are true, then that would confirm my intelligence that the headquarters of the Fourth Reich is in that place."
She paused for effect and continued more ominously. "They have an almost all powerful intelligence operation there, and they do control politics throughout South and Central America. They make and break political parties and presidents down there. No. I am quite certain that if I was to go with you I would not be able to successfully get out again."
Krespi was given a position far out stepping his humble rank and status as a Novitiate, of Art Curator of the Vatican Archives, more popularly called 'The Catacombs', because they consist of a series of highly secure tunnels and vaults under Vatican City. This made him responsible for viewing and cataloging a collection valued at billions of dollars, and put him in the singularly unique position of being the receiver of the priceless collections that had been looted by the Nazis in Europe, much of which some how fell into the Vatican's hands.
Those who might think that the Vatican would be above receiving the stolen goods of a ravished Europe or harboring high level Nazis, even Hitler himself, have not been keeping abreast of current events.
Switzerland's largest bank confirmed on Monday, July 28, 1997, that documents discovered in its shredder room by a night watchman may have been related to property sold by Jews under the Nazis.
The Union Bank of Switzerland had previously maintained that the documents salvaged by the guard, Christopher Meili, were unrelated to dormant accounts of Holocaust victims.
But a statement Monday acknowledged the documents might have some relation to the victims. Jewish groups have criticized Swiss banks for not being forthright in revealing records of Jewish gold and assets that disappeared in Switzerland following the war.
Some of the shredder room documents were relevant to the research of an international panel of historians investigating Switzerland's dealings with the Nazis, the panel's secretary, Linus von Castelmur, told The Associated Press, but he declined to elaborate.
Union Bank said it had copies of documents relating to "the case of three properties, for the purchase of which a German bank in 1937 acted as intermediary and whose previous owners were possibly Jews."
Since Jews were under Nazi pressure to sell their property in Germany at prices well below market values, the mortgages for a 1937 sale of property, possibly by Jews, could well come under the scope of the commission's work. Documents related to the sale were in the shredder room.
Meili, who lost his job after turning the documents over to a Jewish organization in January, is under investigation for breaking Switzerland's banking secrecy rules, has fled to the United States with his wife and two children because he said he felt their lives were in danger. The U.S. Congress has moved to give them permanent residence status.
Union Bank admitted that its chief archivist shredded documents earlier this year, but it is not known how many or which documents were destroyed.
The bank also admitted the documents' destruction violated a law requiring preservation of any evidence that might relate to investigations into the World War II era.
Just last week, Swiss banks broke their tradition of secrecy, publishing a list of 1,872 names of holders of dormant accounts from the WWII-era - a move intended to help heirs of Holocaust victims trace assets buried in bureaucracy and silence.
The published accounts add up to about $42 million kept in 67 banks. The banks previously said they could find only $27 million.
Today's statement by the bank for the first time gave statistics on the documents salvaged by Meili. It gave no details on any documents that had already been shredded.
The statement said Meili took a total of 65 property files, and that 47 of them related to the period before and during the war. The rest were from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Twenty-two documents were from the 1930s and 40s, the bank said. The Nazis came to power in 1933.
The bank declined to state definitively if documents taken by Meili related to Holocaust victims, saying that is "ultimately for the (panel of experts) to decide."
In a related story to this, the Associated Press reported later on that same week:
Vatican Denies Holding Gold
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Swiss banks aren't the only facilities accused of safeguarding plundered Nazi-era gold. A newly declassified document identifies the Vatican as a postwar repository used by the ousted Nazi puppet government of Croatia. In the first evidence of Vatican complicity in the handling of Holocaust loot, a document uncovered by researchers points to 200 million Swiss francs, mostly in gold coins, held for members of the deadly Ustasha after the fall of Nazi Germany.
If the 200 million Swiss francs were still held today, it would be valued at about $170 million, plus hundreds of millions more in accumulated interest.
The Vatican today denied the accusation. "There is no basis in reality to the report," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He said it is based on an anonymous source "whose reliability is more than dubious.
The Ustashas who controlled Croatia during the war exterminated hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies, and historians have denounced the Vatican for maintaining ties to the regime led by Ante Pavelic. A Croatian cardinal was convicted by the postwar communist government of abetting war crimes.
The document, disclosed by researchers for an A&E Television documentary, is an internal U.S. Treasury Department memo kept secret for 50 years. It is among 15 million U.S. documents related to the safekeeping of Nazi-plundered gold, mostly by Swiss banks. New details of the scandal continue to emerge as various researchers pore over the trove.
"Approximately 200 million Swiss francs was originally held in the Vatican for safekeeping," says the declassified Oct. 21, 1946, memo from Treasury agent Emerson Bigelow to his superior, Harold Glasser, identified as director of monetary research.
The document surfaced after A&E producers Stephen Crisman and Gaylen Ross finished a two-hour documentary on Switzerland's handling of Nazi gold, so it is not reported in the program, which is being shown on the cable channel July 26.
The program details shipments of gold ingots by the fascist Romanian government to Swiss banks to keep from the Allies and dealings of the secretive Bank of International Settlement, run by American Thomas McKittrick, which Ross said laundered gold for the Nazis in Switzerland.
Ross provided a copy of the memo on the Vatican to The Associated Press, and other researchers vouched for its authenticity. It contained declassification markings dated Dec. 31, 1996.
Other documents establish that Bigelow received reliable information from the American Overseas Special Services, precursor of the CIA, on Nazi wealth held in specific Swiss bank accounts.
The memo quotes a "reliable source in Italy," apparently a U.S. intelligence source, as saying the Ustasha organization removed 350 million Swiss francs from funds it had confiscated in Croatia, then part of Yugoslavia.
The memo says 150 million Swiss francs were impounded by British authorities at the Austrian-Swiss border and the balance was held in the Vatican.
While stating that as a fact, the document cites rumors that a considerable portion of the Vatican-held money was sent to Spain and Argentina through the Vatican's "pipeline," but says the rumors might be a "smokescreen to cover the fact that the treasure remains in its original repository" at the Vatican.
A number of Ustashas, including Pavelic, found refuge in either Spain or Argentina after the Nazi defeat.
Several investigations are following the trail of Nazi plundering after World War II.
In another development, the Swiss Bankers' Association is trying to resolve claims to looted gold by buying space in newspapers around the world this week to list owners of all dormant accounts dating to World War II, The Times of London reported today.
Surviving account holders or their heirs will be encouraged to come forward to settle the accounts, the newspaper said. Any money unclaimed a year from now will be donated to charities chosen by the association and Jewish groups.
Once ordained in 1956, Father Krespi was sent to a remote jungle station in the Jivaria, Montaqa Region of Eastern Ecuador. Here he met the Jivaro Indians a tribe famous for their fierceness and their head shrinking. Living in the tropical forest, they hunted with blowguns, and the ancient Inca of Peru probably taught the Jivaro how to keep llamas and guinea pigs for food and wool. The villages were fortified with trenches filled with spears, and they would usually only personally fight to avenge the honor or death of a relative. The victorious warrior would cut off his fallen enemy's head and shrink it to be worn as a battle trophy or adorn the doorway of his hut. About 10,000 Jivaro live in Ecuador today, having mostly given up warfare, living peacefully thanks in part to the Catholic missionaries. Krespi discovered the Jivaro were a special racial type, which seemed unique, even in blood chemistry, from the other South American Indian Civilizations. They have rather large cranial capacities and are extremely intelligent. Krespi found them to be a pure race, with good strong physiques who were very loyal and trusting to those they accepted as part of their tribe.
You may recall that one of Hitler's original pet projects had been a youth program. He had wanted to raise a race of pure Germanic youths and thus actively recruited young men and women (as well as boys and girls), and put them in camps, where they were selectively bred to produce this pure racial type. This was done in conjunction with various German scientists from the previously noted scientific societies. This project failed, (we think), because it was found by the rest of the world to be quite repugnant. From there the program, like everything else we are finding out about Germany, went underground. But here it's a new time, a new place, and a new race and Krespi, now on his own, has another go at it.
Father Krespi's first act was to establish a boys school where these Jivaro children would be taught to read and write and were provided a level of education that would adequately prepare them to move forward to another Catholic mission, further up the line, where they would attend an elementary school. This was reportedly the first time that Jivarian Indian children had actually had any schooling, of any kind. Father Krespi served in a lower capacity as a teacher and administrator for only a few months, and was then moved forward to the next school.
The Vatican found out about his "hobby" of breeding a pure racial strain, and relocated Krespi once again.
He later shows up as the head of the Saliciano Order at this church in Cuenca, Ecuador, in, of all places, the same city where Martin Borman had set up the headquarters of the Fourth Reich. This unassuming man was now the head of the poorest of the poor churches in the region, with all the priests having taken the severest vows of poverty. They denied themselves even the most minimal of living comforts. Krespi slept in a cell on a stone floor, rolled in only a blanket, as did most of his local Indian parishioners. He also ate what they did, hard grains and a kind of small hard bread.
Krespi was a beautiful old man, at the time Wendelle Stevens first met him. He was said to be 87 years old, but was spry, erect and had startling clear blue eyes. His hair was long and he had a flowing white beard. His cassock was frayed at the hem, and his shoes were so worn they cracked open at the sides. His sleeves were also frayed and had been turned over once and hemmed
His congregation was composed of a group of mostly old men and Indian women; most of them carrying babies on their backs. There are very few men in the entire town, and all of these were very old, with apparently no young, healthy men to be seen. Krespi's church had a board door, had no pews and every one stood for the services. There were some Spanish paintings hanging on the walls on display. The Indians would come in the back door, stand against the wall, and Krespi would begin to say the daily mass for them.
Colonel Stevens went to the services and noted that they were quite routine and mundane.
"I attended several of his masses and they were mechanical, they weren't devote at all", Stevens said later. "You know, the Catholic Priests I've known are usually quite devoted... when they elevate the host and adore it before they consume it. This priest raised it mechanically, looked at it, lowered it, put it in his mouth and masticated it, then sipped the wine, wiped off the wine glass... he did everything correctly, but not adoringly. Like a bored robot."
It didn't make any difference to the Indians though, because the whole service was in Latin anyway. At the end of the service, when Father Krespi said, "Go in Peace" they turned toward the door and waited. The old Father would remove his ceremonial vestments, then go down through the crowd and take his position at the door.
He was wearing a cassock with deep pockets on either side, and as each member of the congregation left he would reach into one of those pockets and come out with something. He'd take the hand of each Indian in his, and put his other hand over the top of theirs and then say something to them. He'd then bless them and they would leave the church, taking with them whatever it was that he had had in his hand. It turned out that he was giving them each one of the big Ecuadorian coins. It was enough to buy a bottle of papaya juice and a pancita (a loaf of hard bread), and that would be enough to buy them food for the day.
"Father, I've got to say that this is the strangest Church I've ever been in, " The Colonel remarked to Father Krespi later on. "You don't pass a collection plate, and when the people leave you give them money."
Father Krespi looked away and sadly shook his head. "My son," he said in his strangely accented Spanish, "these people have nothing. What little money I give to them is all they have. There is a mass every morning, and every day they come, and when they leave they receive just enough money to last them one more day." He put his hands behind his back and raised up on his toes. "It's all I can do for them."
"Here is a man," Stevens observed, "who is sitting on billions of dollars worth of art yet he's wearing the poorest of clothes, and giving out a small coin to each of the Indians as they leave his parish. Was it 'all he could do', or was it 'the least he could do?'"
Later, the little priest led Stevens and his party down a narrow corridor to an inner court, up two flights of stairs, around a balcony to left and opened a locked wooden door. In the room there were some beautiful old Spanish Colonial paintings, their subjects in pain and sorrow over the plight of Christ.
The painting containing all the keys to finding the great Kinara Treasure was also there. More than 40 chests of gold and silver in a caravan bound for Quito from Cuzco were buried in the Kinara Desert during a civil war. A local artist painted the clues to its recovery into a beautiful landscape scene and hung it in the parish church. A subsequent earthquake changed the landscape and two of the clues. To this day, no one has deciphered the altered topography correctly and the treasure still lies buried.
Stevens's friend and guide, Osvaldo, had seen another room full of paintings on the same floor. He asked to see them, too. The priest hesitated, but was finally persuaded, and he agreed to bring some of them out if the men would wait in the library nearby.
He brought in several Spanish Colonials that were similar to the ones from the walls of the little church, and as he gathered them up to bring out some others, Osvaldo said, "Let me carry those for you," and followed the priest out of the room, winking at his friends. When they returned, among the Spanish Colonials--which were much better than the paintings from the first collection--were some Flemish and Venetian-style works. They quickly photographed everything they could.
When Osvaldo went to help the priest return the paintings, he followed him out of the room, then winked and jerked his head at Stevens and his friend to quietly follow them.
Inside the room they saw thousands of paintings. Some were in partly opened wooden boxes; hundreds were stacked on their sides, like books on a shelf, others in heaps in the corner, all without frames. Some were still on stretchers; others were rolled up, while some had apparently been cut out of their frames with a knife.
The old priest was upset that the men had snuck into his room and he shooed them out and locked the door behind him. However he did let them look at the paintings that Osvaldo was already carrying out. Some looked like Biblical paintings and others had the unmistakable fine detail, composition and color of the classics. One pair was painted in reverse on the back of heavy glass so that the painter had to start from the front, and then finish off the painting working backwards. This was the piece that Magda Stapleford claimed was looted from her family's ancestral home in Bavaria. Another was painted on a slab of translucent marble and had to be viewed with back lighting like a stained glass window. Another was the bust of an old hairless gentleman with a brown robe over his shoulder which still had an engraved label on the back which read in French "Property of the Gran Montrouge" and a number branded on the stretcher frame.
"I came into possession of these paintings quite by accident," Father Krespi explained. "I was the Superior of a missionary whose parish was a small jungle village on the east side of the Andes, about six kilometers from the coast." He shrugged his shoulders as he sat. "The missionary had given the sacraments to a new convert in the village, who then died and left his home and possessions to the church. It seems the convert had no heirs, but had lived there a long time. He arrived about 30 years ago in a truck with his possessions, built a house and lived there the rest of his life.
""He was a white man," the priest said stroking his beard and looking off in the distance, who at first spoke with a foreign accent, but over the years he blended in and attracted little attention. He was unmarried had no children, lived alone, never received visitors, was retired and lived on his pension.
"When the man fell ill" he continued, "I tried to help him, but he refused to let a doctor treat him and he would not leave his home. He asked for the sacraments and I baptized him.
"After he died, he left us everything. I went to take inventory and under the floor I found a room with several large wooden boxes and I was surprised to find...." he made a gesture to the paintings in front of him and back to the room they had just left.
"I notified my Superior and they were all taken here, to the parent parish." he concluded, looking a bit weak from having told such a long story. He smiled, slyly and stroked his beard.
Three weeks later Stevens was in Guayaquil, when he stopped into the only American hamburger stand in the whole city, as he was feeling homesick and needed a treat. The owner, an American widow named Betty Mann, struck up a conversation with him, both of them happy to meet a fellow American and speak English again.
Wendelle mentioned the story the priest told and all about the amazing paintings he had seen, and Betty said she had a story to tell that might fill in a few puzzle pieces for him.
Sometime in late 1943, a foreigner with a thick German accent contacted her late husband, a mining engineer, who owned a small yacht, and hired him to take the German deep-sea fishing. He chartered the boat and he and Mr. Mann sailed out to a precise spot south of the Galapagos Islands. The German had given Mann exact coordinates and wanted to be taken to the precise spot.
About 4:00 PM that afternoon, a huge black unmarked submarine surfaced just to the port. Men came out of the conning tower onto the deck and hailed them. A man came aboard; followed by a crew of sailors who loaded a number of heavy boxes aboard the yacht. Mann was now ordered to sail to a coastal point indicated on a map. When they arrived, Mann helped the two men haul the crates ashore until they were all on the beach, which took several hours. Then the newcomer was left on the beach and Mann and his charter customer sailed back to Guayaquil.
The German paid Mann exceptionally well, almost three times his rate, and reminded him that he was an American in Ecuador, and that he had just become party to a smuggling operation.
"Our friend and those boxes will never be found and no one would believe you if you decided to go the authorities anyway," The German chuckled evilly, patting the American on the back.
Mann never told anybody but his wife, and he passed away and that was all Betty ever learned of the strange adventure.
"I can tell you that I personally know that Martin Borman lived in Cuenca and I have been to the address." Wendelle Stevens said emphatically at one point in our interview. "I know who he is. I know what he was doing. Since we were strangers in town, asking a lot of questions, we had a difficult time trying to prove to him that we weren't Nazi hunting. But we were meeting with Krespi all the time and they were very upset about that.
"We were 'asked' to go home. A group of very tall blond men broke into our hotel, gathered us together all in one room and held us at gun point, ordering us to leave the country or they would be back in a 'not so good mood.' " Wendelle concluded, shaking his head, remembering the experience vividly.
Father Krespi passed away in 1993. By tradition, the Saliciano Order, simply wrapped their priests in a shroud, with no coffin or pomp and circumstance, and buried them with only a small humble wooden cross to mark the site. Over two thousand people coming from all parts of the world mobbed this small town to attend his funeral. Father Krespi was interned in a beautifully ornate polished teakwood coffin, with baroque gold handles placed in a gleaming white marble mausoleum, on a hill over looking the church and the entire city where he had lived and worked for so many years. His funeral had all the trappings and ceremony of that of a president or king. The white marble sepulchre is polished and cleaned every week, and is constantly adorned with flowers. All this largess from "Anonymous Admirers".
Colonel Wendelle Stevens was back in Ecuador for the funeral, only to watch, a few days later, the entire magnificent collection of Father Krespi and the Saliciano Order, be loaded, lock stock and barrel, onto two airplanes stuffed to the brim, to be flown to join their brethren in the Archives of the Vatican.
"We watched the Boeing 707 jet transports being loaded with treasure from his storage room," Stevens said sadly, shaking his head at the loss to all mankind. "It included gold plaques and solid gold statues and many of the paintings looted from Europe and the rest of the world. All gone. All right there, slipping through our fingers. Never again to see the light of day.