Himmler’s Getaway Vehicle

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What kind of aircraft did he use as his getaway vehicle? I’d vote for Lisunov-2 (Li-2) – a Soviet-built licensed copy of American C-47 Skytrain (more commonly known as DC-3).

During the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa the German Army captured Soviet aircraft by the hundreds – right on their airfields (German tanks were advancing so fast that the Red Air Force simply had no time to evacuate its assets). According to the Soviet statistics that lied through its teeth all the time, all captured aircraft were lost in action (i.e. shot down by German fighters or AA fire).

Combat aircraft were destroyed (they were way too risky to use due to the “friendly fire” problem), but cargo planes were a different matter entirely – they could be safely operated deep in German territory (or by its numerous allies far from the Eastern front).

And not necessarily by KG 200, of course – although there were rumors that the latter did use Li-2 to drop off Abwehr agents behind the Soviet lines. Way behind, in fact.

The distance between Flensburg and Santander (probably the most convenient landing point as it was a home to Banco Santander – one of the largest banking institutions in the world) is 1500 km “as the crow flies”.

The ferry range of Li-2 (and with just one passenger on board it was exactly that) is 2,500 km – which allowed it to fly over the water, far from the “hunting grounds” of the Allied fighters (which the KG 200 pilots were Gross masters at avoiding regardless).

However, their skills were most likely not necessary as the getaway plane was surely repainted with Spanish Air Force colors and insignia. True, at that time Spain did not operate C-47s (it began to receive them in early 1950s), but the Allied fighter pilots did not know that.

All they knew (if they encountered the aircraft which was extremely unlikely) that they were seeing a Skytrain with the insignia of a neutral nation. The war was practically over (most likely, Himmler left Flensburg for Spain on May 5th – right after the meeting with Dönitz), Hitler was dead – so who cares about the lonely C-47?

Li-2 was extensively used for supplying the Soviet partisans because it could land on a forest meadow (and not a big one at that). Hence finding a place to land in Spain presented no problem whatsoever.

Assuming it took the longest possible route to avoid encounters with Allied fighters (just in case), it took Himmler’s getaway plane roughly ten hours to reach Spain. Having took off right after sunset, it landed a couple of hours after sunrise.

Even if it was noticed by anyone in German government (local or national, military or civilian) – or even by Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) pilots, no one would have paid any attention.

No one knew for sure that Spain did not operate C-47 and the markings were obviously kosher.  Knowing Himmler’s obsessive attention to even a miniscule detail, there is no doubt that the pilots were sufficiently fluent in both Spanish and English (in case they did encounter Allied fighters along the way).

On the ground Himmler (he most likely flew solo) was met by the local Nazi sympathizers and the SS security detail that arrived in Spain in advance. SS Reichsfuhrer (no one took Hitler’s order seriously) was promptly whisked away to a safe house in Santander (or nearby).

Where he spent some time waiting for a plastic surgeon and for another set of documents to arrive. However, there is a possibility that he went straight down to business with Banco de Santander (it is highly probably that Himmler brought with him to Spain a sizable cache of highly liquid financial assets).

The pilots took a short rest and soon took off again (they did not need refueling for the last leg of their journey). A few miles offshore they skillfully landed Li-2 on the water and let it sink.

An inflatable boat took them to the shore where they received new documents and in no time were on their way to Argentina. In Luftwaffe personnel files they were listed as killed in action shortly before the surrender of Germany.

Which means, that the man with an ID in the name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger who “attempted to go into hiding” (but undertook a very strange journey on foot instead) was definitely not Heinrich Himmler. But his impersonator, his double and – for all practical purposes – his savior.

 

 

The Unlikely Death of Heinrich Himmler (2)

Himmler_pretends_to_row

The name of the book speaks for itself: “The Unlikely Death of Heinrich Himmler”. It was written based on interviews with key individuals (doctors, dentists, military officers and NCOs) who personally witnessed the events of “Himmler’s death” on May 23rd, 1945.

The first discovery made by W. Hugh Thomas was nothing short of astounding. It turned out that the British authorities did not let Heinrich Himmler (or whoever impersonated him) rest in peace. Well, they did – but only for mere eight months.

In January of 1946 the body of whoever was buried on Lüneburg Heath was completely out of the blue exhumed (finding a grave was a genuine miracle as it was too well-concealed) and a second thorough post-mortem examination was conducted.

Another genuinely shocking fact uncovered by W. Hugh Thomas was that the British brought with them… the former SS-Brigadefuhrer (Brigadier General) Walter Schellenberg. With but one objective – officially identified the remains as those of his former boss Heinrich Himmler.

Which can lead to one and only one conclusion – some reason the British authorities began to seriously suspect that the SS-Reichsfuhrer had cheated death and had duped then (and I do not know what of these two infuriated them more).

Apparently, the former head of Ausland-SD (RSHA Amt VI) either failed to positively ID the body as that of Heinrich Himmler, or worse, categorically stated that the remains were NOT of his former boss.

The second result appears far more likely as (1) after this exhumation, subsequent second autopsy and the re-burial of the body British inquiries into Himmler’s death continued; and (2) a lot of the documents pertaining to the whole “Lüneburg incident”, were classified “Top Secret” and forbidden from being made public for 100 (!) years. In other words, until June of 2045 (I still hope to be around when they are declassified).

However, there is one very much public statement about the incident that speaks volumes about its essence. Incredibly, the only official statement on the burial of Heinrich Himmler was made not by a general (which would have been expected given the rank and status of the deceased) or even the junior officer, but by an NCO – the Colour Sergeant Major Edwin Austin (the first word had nothing to do with the color of his skin – it was simply a senior NCO rank established in 1813):

“I wrapped him in a couple of blankets, I put two of our army camouflage nets around him and tied him up with telephone wires. I put the parcel on the back of the truck and drove off. I had to dig the grave myself. No one will ever know where he is buried.”

There was a little problem with that statement, however. CSM Austin did not have a driver’s license. He could not drive even a car – let alone a military truck…

What does this statement tell us? IMHO, just one thing – the first autopsy provided some serious evidence that the deceased was NOT the SS-Reichsfuhrer. However, the commanding officer in charge of the whole thing – one Colonel L. M. Murphy – has already made a report to his superiors that Heinrich Himmler was captured, detained, arrested, identified and committed suicide.

For obvious reasons, the abovementioned Colonel had no desire to admit his mistake. So he predictable engineered a cover-up which was entrusted to the fiercely loyal Sergeant Major (in the U.S. Armed Forces it is widely – and correctly – believed that if you want something done quickly and efficiently, a sergeant major can always be trusted).

And not just something, but anything. Anything at all. Including covering up a blunder of genuinely galactic proportions.

Another incredible fact was uncovered by W. Hugh Thomas in a seemingly totally unexpected place. Jerusalem. In the documents related to the trial of Adolf Eichmann – one of the key perpetrators of the Holocaust.

In 1961, when Eichmann stood trial for his role in this possibly the most horrendous act of genocide in human history, the Mossad (the Israeli equivalent of CIA or MI-6) was focused squarely on ensuring the survival of Israel and thus could allocate few (if any) resources to hunting the Nazi criminals – no matter how many Jewish deaths they were responsible for. Initially they were reluctant to go after even Adolf Eichmann.

Still, the capture and trial of the latter provided the Mossad with an opportunity too good to ignore. So a decision was made to – directly and indirectly, explicitly and implicitly, openly and clandestinely – question Eichmann about the whereabouts of other Nazis known to have committed crimes (mass murders – let’s be blunt) against the Jews.

It took a lot of time and effort (as Eichmann was not exactly cooperative and torture – for many reasons – was out of the question), but finally the Mossad interrogators came up with a four-page list.

The names on the list were divided into three categories – those war criminals who had disappeared entirely (headed ‘Disappeared’), those war criminals arrested previously, under the heading (‘Arrested’), and those war criminals free after arrest (listed as ‘Free’).

Half down the last page there is a critical entry. Under the title ‘Anomalous’ it says: ‘Eichmann tps 3, 4 – Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, alive Germany? There can be only one explanation for this entry – for some unknown reason Eichmann believed that Himmler was still alive in 1961 – despite the apparently accepted historical fact of Himmler’s suicide in British hands.

As I have already mentioned, Mossad had far more important things to do (e.g. saving Israel from annihilation and its citizens from the “Holocaust II”) than chasing such a nebulous lead. So no one pursued it – and Eichmann took his reasons (and thus possibly the mystery of Himmler’s disappearance) with him to his grave.

Another Nazi criminal – the infamous Butcher of Lyon’ Klaus Barbie just prior to his death in 1991, began making unsubstantiated but nevertheless interesting statements about Himmler’s survival that echoed (and even rivaled) those of Eichmann.

The Eichmann entry on Himmler contained one more piece of information that could be crucial for solving the mystery of his whereabouts immediately after the surrender of Germany. This piece of information consists of exactly one word: Lorenz.

Which might point to a very specific (and powerful) individual – SS Obergruppenführer Werner Lorenz, Himmler’s personal friend (one of the very few) and at the time a commanding officer in charge of defending the of the north-west region of Germany. This region included the port of Hamburg – a convenient place to leave Germany for Spain or Latin America.

Lorenz had highly valuable business connections which would come quite handy after the war – one of his daughters (Jutti) was married to Count Kinkelbusch, who owned one of the biggest wine businesses in Germany, and his other daughter (Rosemarie), became the wife of a famous publisher Axel Springer.

His close neighbor, Hubert von Blücher, who held a Swedish passport and was at the time busily engaged in stashing away some of Himmler’s gold bullion. And American intelligence in the immediate aftermath of war, concluded that Hamburg was the kernel and headquarters of a well-established SS network. Which made the city a comfortable hiding place for someone like Himmler.

However, there is an even better candidate – not a person, but a company. Lorenz AG was a German subsidiary of the giant American company ITT. Ownership was disguised through a holding company, European Standard Electric, arranged by none other than the German firm Albert and Westrick in co-operation with their business partner Allen Dulles (!!).

Because Spain’s leader, General Franco, encouraged talented Germans to move to his country, the Spanish branch of Lorenz AG was considered by the SS to be the most important “ratline”. It also helped (and helped a lot) that the head of Spanish police was Himmler’s close friend.

This explanation is far more likely for another reason – as is evident from the Red House report, Himmler’s long-term objective was to invest the capital siphoned off the dying Third Reich into building a Fourth Reich that would arise, phoenix-like, from the skeleton of the SS ‘state within a state’, to be governed by a hard core of the élite. Hence, it made perfect sense to use a business entity in a neutral country as the “escape vehicle”.

Use of the “Spanish channel” made a lot of sense for another reason. The best “escape cover” was a cassock and a “dog collar” of a Catholic priest (there is little if any doubt that Himmler could have easily obtained either a genuine or at worst perfectly forged Vatican or Swiss passport and an ID that identified him as an employee of a Vatican organization that helps displaced persons). Spain was a practically 100% Catholic nation so a priest was highly revered and would not have been questioned.

It is also possible that in reality is was “double Lorenz” as the safest escape from Germany at the very end of the war (and right after) was – incredibly – by air. More specifically, by using one of the planes of KG 200 – a top-secret special ops Luftwaffe unit (they specialized – among other things – in dropping agents behind the enemy lines) based near Flensburg – in the area controlled by Werner Lorenz (and right where the government of the “funeral director” Karl Dönitz was based).

It flew all kinds of aircraft, including captured B-17s and B-24s which were immune to interception by Allied fighters and was under operational control of Himmler’s RSHA (more specifically, Schellenberg’s Amt VI, not the Luftwaffe).

By the time Allied investigators caught up with K G200, all the aircraft they would admit to were back at Flensburg. There was no way of knowing where they had been during the last few days of the Reich, although the Americans suspected most journeys had been to Spain.

It is also a well-documented fact that Werner Baumbach – KG 200 commander and the man in charge of all special ops of the Luftwaffe at the very end of the war was recalled from frontline operation and (by Himmler’s direct order) tasked with evacuating high-ranking Nazis.

Baumbach went ‘missing’ for a critical period of about two weeks, his whereabouts unknown. After the war, Baumbach spent three years as a prisoner of war before he moved to Argentina (!) where he worked as a test pilot. He (very conveniently) died in a plane crash on October 20th, 1953.

In other words, at the end of the war Himmler had at his disposal the best specialist escape squadron available in the world, its leader personally available to serve his Reichsführer, ready and waiting at a critical time.

Baumbach received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for the destruction of over 300,000 gross register tons (GRT) of Allied shipping – which gives some idea about his competence as a pilot.

Hence, he most likely (right after obtaining two U-boats for moving a load of valuables to South America) boarder a B-17 or B-24 with American markings and – disguised as a catholic priest with either genuine or perfectly forged documents of the Holy See flew to Spain (most likely, illegally – he had no desire to have any conversation with the Spanish border guards – no matter how sympathetic).

By that time he already had all necessary infrastructure in Spain – including the services of a highly plastic surgeon and a new set of documents (most likely, genuine Swiss passports).

After spending a few months in Spain, he most likely moved to one of the German-speaking cantons in Switzerland (most probably to Bern or Zurich) which would become the interim headquarters of Die Neue SS. After spending several years there, he most likely moved to Germany (IMHO, during the Neumann Affair he was already in his home country).

History and Knowledge Mining

Data Mining

History is all about knowledge management. Hence all historians MUST be properly trained in this discipline (unfortunately, to my knowledge, no one is). More specifically, history is all about knowledge mining – extracting knowledge from data and information.

By definition, data (although “datum” is a correct term) is an elementary unit of information (i.e. name or a rank of a certain officer of Waffen-SS). Information is a structured collection (group/assembly/set) of data that has a unique meaning (i.e. a number of victims of the Night of the Long Knives).

In a general sense, knowledge is information that has value (to the one who has this knowledge, of course) – financial, functional, emotional or spiritual. For a historian, knowledge is the truth about historical events (i.e. the Holocaust) or historical objects and individuals (i.e., Adolf Hitler, the SS, a certain concentration camp, etc.). Actually, individuals are objects as well – at least in the historical research.

The truth about events consists of the most fundamental questions of historical research – who did what (which usually includes the “how”) when and why (i.e. what were the objectives of the decisions and actions in question). And, of course, what were the actual results; were they different from objectives in question (i.e. from intended consequences) and if they were, why.

The truth about objects or individuals is usually structured as profiles (i.e. psychological profile of a criminal or a victim, specifications of a fighter aircraft, the structure and key attributes of an organization, etc.).

History is a science and for a scientist there is no such thing as a relative truth. The truth is always absolute. Always. The unbreakable laws of formal logic dictate that if a statement by one historian contradicts a statement of another historian (i.e. they are mutually exclusive), then they can not be both right – although they can be both wrong, of course.

I am Roman Catholic, consequently, I believe in the supernatural. In other words, I believe in the existence of an intangible, invisible, “subtle” world which is as real as the physical world that we can see, hear, feel, etc.

I also believe (as it makes complete sense) that this invisible world contains a complete and comprehensive knowledge base; in other words, complete, comprehensive and accurate knowledge about any events that ever took place in human history – and any objects and individuals who ever existed on Earth.

Understandably, every historian who believes in the existence of this knowledge base (and there are a few) would want to be able to access it the way we all can access JSTOR, ProQuest or any other database developed by humans. Or Wikipedia for that matter.

Obviously, it is not possible – at least not directly. All we can hope for (actually, it is a lot) is to collect, structure and study sufficient amount of data and information to accumulate a “critical mass” that will produce a “revelation”.

In other words, provide the historian in question with access to knowledge that he or she intends to “mine” from the abovementioned data and information. Or “download” this knowledge from the abovementioned knowledge base, if you will.

It is important to note that the sources of information and data do not need to be 100% accurate (which is good because they seldom are). They only need to be sufficiently accurate to unlock access to the “knowledge base” (i.e. to produce revelation).

People lie – it is a fact of life. They lie in their memoirs, they lie in their witness statements (even when being cross-examined by expert lawyers or interrogated by highly skilled professionals); they lie in their speeches, reports and other documents… in short, they lie just about everywhere and just about everything that really matters.

Hence it is futile to hope to obtain knowledge from analyzing even the primary sources; instead, one must learn how to use them to get access to the “intangible knowledge base”.

And that’s exactly what I am going to do – using both the primary and secondary resources. In fact, any and all resources (including even Wikipedia) to obtain the genuine knowledge from the only reliable source – the abovementioned intangible knowledge base.

As this book is about Adolf Hitler, the most important primary sources are, of course, his books (Mein Kampf and Zweites Buch), his most important speeches, his orders and his (in)famous Table Talk.