Pictures & Records (1)

Add Show More

Stories

The Begining

On 27th February, 1933, someone set fire to the Reichstag. Several people were arrested including a leading,Georgi Dimitrov, general secretary of the Comintern, the international communist organization. Dimitrov was eventually acquitted but a young man from the Netherlands, Marianus van der Lubbe, was eventually executed for the crime. As a teenager Lubbe had been a communist and Hermann Goering used this information to claim that the Reichstag Fire was part of a KPD plot to overthrow the government.

Adolf Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night."Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.

Thousands of members of the Social Democrat Party and Communist Party were arrested and sent to Germany's first concentration camp at Dachau, a village a few miles from Munich. Theodor Eicke was placed in charge of the first camp and eventually took overall control of the system.

Originally called re-education centres the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) soon began describing them as concentration camps. They were called this because they were "concentrating" the enemy into a restricted area. Hitler argued that the camps were modeled on those used by the British during the Boer War.

After the 1933 General Election Hitler passed an Enabling Bill that gave him dictatorial powers. His first move was to take over the trade unions. Its leaders were sent to concentration camps and the organization was put under the control of the Nazi Party. The trade union movement now became known as the Labour Front.

Soon afterwards the Communist Party and the Social Democrat Party were banned. Party activists still in the country were arrested and by the end of 1933 over 150,000 political prisoners were in concentration camps. Hitler was aware that people have a great fear of the unknown, and if prisoners were released, they were warned that if they told anyone of their experiences they would be sent back to the camp.

It was not only left-wing politicians and trade union activists who were sent to concentration camps. TheGestapo also began arresting beggars, prostitutes, homosexuals, alcoholics and anyone who was incapable of working. Although some inmates were tortured, the only people killed during this period were prisoners who tried to escape and those classed as "incurably insane".

Inmates wore serial numbers and coloured patches to identify their categories: red for political prisoners, blue for those who were foreigners, violet for religious fundamentalists, green for criminals, black for those considered to be anti-social and pink for homosexuals.

As well as the one built at Dachau concentration camps were also built at Belsen and Buchenwald(Germany), Mauthausen (Austria), Theresienstadt (Czechoslovakia) and Auschwitz (Poland). Each camp was commanded by a senior Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and staffed by members of the SS Death's Head units. The camp was divided into blocks and each one was under the charge of a senior prisoner.

As well as using members of the SS the camp commander often recruited Baltic or Ukrainian Germans to control inmates. As they had previously been minorities of repressed communities, they were particularly good at dealing harshly with Russians, Poles and Jews.

By 1944 there were 13 main concentration camps and over 500 satellite camps. In an attempt to increase war-production, inmates were used as cheap-labour. The Schutzstaffel (SS) charged industrial companies around 6 marks for each prisoner working a twelve-hour day.

At the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942 it was decided to make the extermination of the Jews a systematically organized operation. After this date extermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers including Belzec (15,000 a day), Sobibor (20,000), Treblinka (25,000) and Majdanek (25,000).

It has been estimated that between 1933 and 1945 a total of 1,600,000 were sent to concentration work camps. Of these, over a million died of a variety of different causes. During this period around 18 million were sent to extermination camps. Of these, historians have estimated that between five and eleven million were killed.

 

The Reichstag

The Reichstag was the large domed building in Berlin that was the home of the German Parliament. It was burnt down on 27th February, 1933 and later Marinus van der Lubbe, a Communist from Holland was executed for the crime.

After the Reichstag Fire the German Parliament was held in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin.

Marinus van der Lubbe

Marinus van der Lubbe was born in Holland in 1909. His father left home soon after he was born and he was brought up in extreme poverty.

Lubbe worked as a bricklayer but after an industrial accident in 1925 he spent five months in hospital. He never fully recovered from his injuries and was now unable to work and had to live on a small invalidity pension.

In 1926 Lubbe joined the Dutch Communist Party (KPH) and worked hard trying to recruit young unemployed workers into the party. He also organized demonstrations and spoke at protest meetings.

Lubbe decides he wants to live in the Soviet Union but is unable to raise enough money for his fare. However, in 1933 he moves to Germany where he immediately begins protesting against the new government headed by Adolf Hitler.

On 27th February the Reichstag caught fire. When they police arrived they found Lubbe on the premises. After being tortured by the Gestapo he confessed to starting the Reichstag Fire. However he denies that he was part of a Communist conspiracy. Hermann Goering refuses to believe him and he orders the arrest of several leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD).

As well as Lubbe the German police charged four communists with setting fire to the Reichstag. This included Ernst Torgler, the chairman of the KPD and Georgi Dimitrov of the Soviet Comintern.

Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty of the Reichstag Fire and was executed on 10th January, 1934. Adolf Hitler was furious he rest of the defendants were acquitted and he decided that in future all treason cases were taken from the Supreme Court and given to a new People's Court where prisoners were judged by members of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP).

Theodore Eicke

Theodore Eicke, the son of a station master, was born in Hampont (close to Château-Salins) on 17th October, 1892.

Eicke joined the German Army and during the First World War won the Iron Cross for bravery. He was active in the Freikorps before becoming an inspector in the Thuringian police force. He joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1928 and two years later took command of a Schutzstaffel (SS) regiment of the Rhine-Palatinate.

Suspected of carrying out bomb attacks on political opponents, Heinrich Himmler advised Eiche to go and live in Italy in 1932. After Adolf Hitler came to power Eicke returned to Germany and was appointed as commandant ofDachau.

In May 1934 Eicke was given responsibility of reorganizing Germany's concentration camp system. One of his recommendations was that guards should be warned that they would be punished if they showed prisoners any signs of humanity.

During the Night of the Long Knives Eicke was given the task of killing Ernst Roehm and other leaders of the Sturm Abteilung (SA). Three days after the purge Eicke was appointed Inspector of Concentration Camps and head of Death's Head Units.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Eicke was placed in command of the Totenkopf division of the Waffen SS. He fought without distinction but committed several war crimes including the execution of over 100 prisoners of war in the 2nd Royal Norfolk Regiment.

During Operation Barbarossa Eicke fought in the Soviet Union. Theodore Eicke died on 26th February, 1943, when his plane was shot down behind enemy lines near Orella.

The Schutzstaffel

In 1925 Adolf Hitler formed his own personal bodyguard called the Schutzstaffel (SS). Four years later Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmleras the leader of the SS. By the time of Himmler's appointment the SS had only 280 members. They wore the same uniform as the SA except for a black cap with a silver death's head badge and a black tie.

Over the next year Himmler obtained the independence of the SS from the Sturm Abteilung (SA). Sepp Dietrich was put in charge of Hitler's bodyguard whereas Himmler concentrated on building up the organization.

With the agreement of Adolf Hitler, Himmler expanded the size of the SS. Himmler personally vetted all applicants to make sure that all were good 'Aryan' types. In 1932 Himmler introduced all-black uniform of the SS.

By the time the Nazi Party gained power in 1933 Himmler's SS had grown to a strength of 52,000. He was also made head of all German political police outside Prussia, where Hermann Goering was the minister of the interior.

Himmler agreed with Goering that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to the German Army and in June 1934, along with his loyal assistants, Reinhard HeydrichKurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, he arranged what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.

As a result of this purge the SS was now the principal instrument of internal rule in Germany. In 1936 the Gestapo also came under Himmler's control. Himmler was also able to put SS men in all the key posts in Nazi Germany.

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler was born near Munich, Germany, on 7th October, 1900. The son of a Catholic schoolmaster, he was educated at the Landshut High School. During the First World War Himmler joined the 11th Bavarian Regiment and by the end of the conflict he had become an officer cadet in the German Army.

After the war Himmler was active in the Freikorps. He also joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and in 1923 took part in the Munich Putsch.

In 1928 Himmler married and became a poultry farmer. He also joined the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and was a devout follower of Adolf Hitler. Himmler believed Hitler was the Messiah that was destined to lead Germany to greatness. Hitler, who was always vulnerable to flattery, decided in January, 1929, that Himmler should become the new leader of his personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel (SS).

By the time of his appointment the SS had only 280 members. They wore the same uniform as the SA except for a black cap with a silver death's head badge and a black tie. It was only after 1932 that they wore an all-black uniform.

With the agreement of Adolf Hitler, Himmler expanded the size of the SS. Himmler personally vetted all applicants to make sure that all were good 'Aryan' types. By the time the Nazi Party gained power in 1933 Himmler's SS had grown to a strength of 52,000. He was also made head of all German political police outside Prussia, where Hermann Goering was the minister of the interior.

Himmler agreed with Goering that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to the German Army and in June 1934, along with his loyal assistants, Reinhard HeydrichKurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, he arranged what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.

As a result of this purge the Schutzstaffel (SS) was now the principal instrument of internal rule in Germany. In 1936 the Gestapo also came under Himmler's control. Himmler was also able to put SS men in all the key posts in Nazi Germany.

In December, 1940 Himmler established the Waffen SS. This new army grew rapidly and within six months grew to over 150,000 men.

Victor Weisz, News Chronicle (1945)

 

David LowWho's for it this time? (28th April, 1942)

 

During the Second World War the SS Death's Head Units were put in charge of Germany's Concentration Camps. The SS also followed theGerman Army into the Soviet Union where they had the responsibility of murdering Jews, gypsies, communists and partisans. By June 1944 the SS had over 800,000 members: Hitler's Body Guard (200,000) Waffen (594,000) and Death Head Units (24,000).

There was great competition between the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and the German military intelligence organization, Abwehr. In June, 1944 Himmler took over Abwehr and after the July Plot the organization was absorbed into the SD.

In 1944 Himmler was put in charge of the German Army facing the advancing United States Army. In January, 1945, he was switched to face the Red Army in the east. Unable to halt the decline in fortunes of the German forces, Himmler became convinced that Germany needed to seek peace with Britain and the United States. When Adolf Hitler discovered on 28th April that Himmler had been attempting to make contacting with the Allies, he ordered his arrest.

Himmler now took the name and documents of a dead village policeman. Although in heavy disguise, Himmler was arrested by a British army officer in Bremen on 22nd May. Before he could he interrogated, Himmler committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.

 

Victor WeiszNews Chronicle (1945)


Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich, the son of an actress, was born in Halle, on 7th march, 1904. He was too young to join the German Army during the First World War but at the age of sixteen joined the right-wing Freikorps. After taking part in battles with socialist revolutionaries in Halle he joined the German Navy.

While training he met and became friends with Wilhelm Canaris. Promoted to lieutenant in 1928, he joined the German intelligence service. However, he lost his job when accused of getting the daughter of important businessman pregnant. Angry at the way he had been treated, Heydrich immediately joined the Nazi Party. He also became a member of theSchutzstaffel (SS) and in 1931 he was introduced to Heinrich Himmler. Later Himmler appointed him to form the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). By 1933 Heydrich had reached the rank of Obergruppenfuhrer.

Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering argued that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to theGerman Army. In June 1934, Himmler arranged for Heydrich, Kurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, to carry out what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.

In 1936 Reinhard Heydrich became head of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and the Gestapo. Later both these organizations became part of the Reich Security Administration (RSHA).

Heydrich and his SD successfully convinced Joseph Stalin that the leadership of the Red Army was planning a coup in the Soviet Union. This lead to the Great Purge of the Soviet military that resulted in the execution of Mikhail Tukhachevsky and seven other top Soviet commanders.

Heinrich Himmler and the SS were also put in charge of the Concentration Camps. During the Second World War the SS followed the German Army into invaded countries where they had the responsibility of murdering Jews, gypsies, communists and partisans. Heydrich was given control of Czechoslovakiawhere he announced that the SS intended to "Germanize the Czech vermin."

In 1941 MI6 decided to help the Czech resistance to assassinate Heydrich. This was the only Nazi leader that the Allies attempted to assassinate. They took this decision knowing that the German Army would take terrible retribution of the people of Czechoslovakia.

Two Czech agents, Jan Kubis and Joseph Gabcik, trained in Britain, were parachuted into Czechoslovakia on 29th December, 1941. Five months later, on 27th May, 1942, was killed by a grenade while travelling in his car in Prague.

The Czech agents involved in the killing hid in the crypt of a Prague church. Three-weeks later they were betrayed and were all killed during a gun battle.

In retaliation for the assassination of Heydrich, Kurt Daluege ordered the destruction of the village ofLidice. The village was razed to the ground and its 173 male inhabitants were murdered. The 198 women were sent to a Concentration Camp in Ravensbueck. Another 256 Czechs were condemned to death for aiding the assassination plot. Thousands of Czech people were also deported to other concentration camps in Austria and Germany as a result of Heydrich's death.

 

Heydrich: The Face of Evil

Reinhard Heydrich

 

 

Kurt Daluege

Kurt Daluege was born in Kreuzburg on 15th September, 1897. He joined theGerman Army and during the First World War he was decorated for bravery.

After the war Daluege worked as an engineer. He was also active in theFreikorps before joining the National Socialist German Workers Party(NSDAP) in 1922. He formed the first Sturm Abteilung (SA) unit in Berlin before transferring to the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1928 where he worked closely with Heinrich Himmler.

In 1933 Daluege was elected to the Reichstag and soon afterwards Hermann Goering moved him to the Prussian Ministry of the Interior where he took over the police force. Goering now took control of all the police forces in Germany and placed Daluege in charge of what now became known as the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo).

Deluege also established the Kameradschaftsbund Deutscher Polizebeamten, an organisation of police officials responsible for the suppression of internal revolt. During the Second World War Daluege became second in command toReinhard Heydrich in the Schutzstaffel (SS).

When Hans Frank failed to take sufficient action after the assassination of Heydrich in May, 1942, Adolf Hitlerand Heinrich Himmler sent Daluege to Prague and appointed him as Protector of Czechoslovakia. Daluege's reprisals included the destruction of Lidice. The village was razed to the ground and its 173 male inhabitants were murdered and the 198 women were sent to a Concentration Camp in Ravensbueck. Altogether 256 Czechs were condemned to death for aiding the assassination plot.

At the end of the Second World War Daluege was arrested and tried for war crimes. Convicted by a Czech court Kurt Daluege was hanged in Prague on 24th October, 1946.

 

Walter Schellenberg

Walter Schellenberg was born at Saarbruecken, Germany on 16th January, 1910. His family moved to Lxembourg after France occupied the Saar in 1918.

Schellenberg entered the University of Bonn in 1929 where he studied medicine and law. In May 1933 he joined the Schutz Staffeinel (SS). He impressed Heinrich Himmler and he quickly moved up the hierarchy and was active in counter-intelligence operations. This included an attempt to capture the former Edward VIII.

After the invasion of Czechoslovakia Schellenberg worked closely with Reinhard Heydrich. He also led the fight against the Soviet spy ring, the Red Orchestra.

He hoped to succeed Reinhard Heydrich, as head of RSHA after his assassination but the post went instead to Ernst Kaltenbrunner.

When it became clear that Germany would be defeated Schellenberg went to Stockholm where he attempted to start peace negotiations. He was arrested in June, 1945 and he saved himself from a long-term imprison by testifying against other Nazis at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

Schellenberg also provided information to Allen Dulles on the Soviet Union. In April, 1949, he was sentenced to six years in prison where he wrote his memoirs, The Labyrinth. He was released after two years because he was suffering from a serious liver condition. Walter Schellenberg died in Turin, Italy on 31st March, 1952.


Ernst Kaltenbrunner

 

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the son of a lawyer, was born in Austria on 4th October, 1903. He got a doctorate in law from Graz University in 1925 and set up as a lawyer in Linz.

Kaltenbrunner joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1932 and worked closely with Arthur Seyss-Inquart andAdolf Eichmann. Kaltenbrunner became head of the Austrian SS in 1934 but soon afterwards was arrested and accused of being involved in the assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss. Found guilty of conspiracy and was sentenced to six months in prison.

After Anschluss Kaltenbrunner was elected to the Reichstag and became minister for state security as well as police chief in Vienna. During the next three years Kaltenbrunner served as Commander-in-Chief of the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Vienna.

In April 1941 Kaltenbrunner was appointed Lieutenant-General of Police. He impressed Heinrich Himmlerand when Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated in May, 1942, Kaltenbrunner was appointed as head of theSD (Sicherheitsdienst). In this position he not only controlled the Gestapo but also the concentration campsystem and was responsible for carrying out the Final Solution.

Nearly seven feet tall, with deep scars on his face from his student duelling days, Kaltenbrunner appeared to obtain pleasure from his work and took personal interest in the different methods of killing the inmates in the extermination camps.

As well as the hunting down and extermination of several million Jews Kaltenbrunner was also responsible for the murder of Allied parachutists and prisoners-of-war.

With the Red Army closing in on Germany, Kaltenbrunner gave orders for all prisoners in extermination camps to be killed and then fled south but was captured by Allied troops. Accused of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial he was found guilty and executed on 1st October, 1946.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart

 

Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the son of a teacher, was born in Stannern, in Austria, on 22nd July, 1892. The family moved to Vienna in 1907 and Seyss-Inquart studied law before joining the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the First World War he saw action against the Russian Army on the Eastern Front and in Italybefore being badly wounded in 1917.

After the war Seyss-Inquart became a lawyer in Austria. He developed extreme right-wing views and joined the German Brotherhood.

A strong advocate of Anschluss, Seyss-Inquart became a state counselor in May 1937. The following February Kurt von Schuschnigg appointed him minister of the interior and served as chancellor for a brief spell in March, 1938, before Hitler took control of the country.

Seyss-Inquart has a series of jobs under the Nazis including governor of Ostmark and minister without portfolio in Hitler's cabinet. When the German took control of Poland Seyss-Inquart served as deputy governor under Hans Frank. In May 1940, he became Reich Commissioner of the Netherlands.

At the end of the Second World War Seyss-Inquart was arrested and charged with war crimes inNuremberg. At his trial it was pointed out that of the 140,000 Dutch Jews, only 8,000 survived in hiding and only 5,450 came home from camps in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Arthur Seyss-Inquart was found guilty and hanged on 16th October, 1946.

Sturm Abteilung (SA)

In 1921 Adolf Hitler formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men, and became the SA's first leader.

Hitler's stormtroopers were often former members of the Freikorps (right-wing private armies who flourished during the period that followed the First World War) and had considerable experience in using violence against their rivals.

The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts (khaki shirts originally intended for soldiers in Africa but purchased in bulk from the German Army by the Nazi Party), swastika armbands, ski-caps, knee-breeches, thick woolen socks and combat boots. Accompanied by bands of musicians and carrying swastika flags, they would parade through the streets of Munich. At the end of the march Hitler would make one of his passionate speeches that encouraged his supporters to carry out acts of violence against Jews and his left-wing political opponents.

When Ernst Roehm left Germany to work in Bolivia in 1925, Heinrich Himmler took over the leadership of the SA. However, in 1931 Hitler recalled Roehm to Germany and asked him to head the SA. In just over a year Roehm expanded it from 70,000 to 170,000 members. By 1934 the SA had grown to 4,500,000 men.

In 1933, General Werner von Blomberg, Hitler's minister of war, and Walther von Reichenau, chief liaison officer between the German Army and the Nazi Party, became increasingly concerned about the growing power of the SA. Ernst Roehm had been given a seat on the National Defence Council and began to demand more say over military matters. On 2nd October 1933, Roehm sent a letter to Reichenau that said: "I regard the Reichswehr now only as a training school for the German people. The conduct of war, and therefore of mobilization as well, in the future is the task of the SA.

Werner von Blomberg and Walther von Reichenau began to conspire with Hermann Goering andHeinrich Himmler against Roehm and the SA. Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Roehm. Heydrich, who also feared him, manufactured evidence that suggested that Roehm had been paid 12 million marks by the French to overthrow Hitler.

Hitler liked Ernst Roehm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Roehm had been one of his first supporters and, without his ability to obtain army funds in the early days of the movement, it is unlikely that the Nazis would have ever become established. The SA under Roehm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.

However, Adolf Hitler had his own reasons for wanting Roehm removed. Powerful supporters of Hitler had been complaining about Roehm for some time. Generals were afraid that the SA, a force of over 3 million men, would absorb the much smaller German Army into its ranks and Roehm would become its overall leader.

 

David LowThey salute with both hands now (3rd July, 1934)

 

Industrialists, who had provided the funds for the Nazi victory, were unhappy with Roehm's socialistic views on the economy and his claims that the real revolution had still to take place. Many people in the party also disapproved of the fact that Roehm and many other leaders of the SA were homosexuals.

Adolf Hitler was also aware that Roehm and the SA had the power to remove him as leader. Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler played on this fear by constantly feeding him with new information on Roehm's proposed coup. Their masterstroke was to claim that Gregor Strasser, whom Hitler hated, was part of the planned conspiracy against him. With this news Hitler ordered all the SA leaders to attend a meeting in the Hanselbauer Hotel in Wiesse.

On 29th June, 1934. Hitler, accompanied by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS), arrived at Wiesse, where he personally arrested Ernst Roehm. During the next 24 hours 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiesse. Many were shot as soon as they were captured but Hitler decided to pardon Roehm because of his past services to the movement. However, after much pressure from Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Roehm should die. At first Hitler insisted that Roehm should be allowed to commit suicide but, when he refused, he was killed by two SS men.

The purge of the SA was kept secret until it was announced by Hitler on 13th July. It was during this speech that Hitler gave the purge its name: Night of the Long Knives (a phrase from a popular Nazi song). Hitler claimed that 61 had been executed while 13 had been shot resisting arrest and three had committed suicide. Others have argued that as many as 400 people were killed during the purge. In his speech Hitler explained why he had not relied on the courts to deal with the conspirators: "In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I become the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason."

Roehm was replaced by Victor Lutze as head of the SA. Lutze was a weak man and the SA gradually lost its power in Hitler's Germany. The Schutz Staffeinel (SS) under the leadership of Himmler grew rapidly during the next few years, replacing the SA as the dominant force in Germany.

 

Paul von Hindenburg

 

Paul von Hindenburg was born in Posen in 1847. After being educated at the cadet schools at Wahlstatt and Berlin he fought at the Battle of Koniggratz (1866) and in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Promoted to the rank of general in 1903, Hindenburg retired from the army in 1911. 


On the outbreak of the First World War Hindenburg was recalled to the German Army and after being sent to the Eastern Front won decisive victories over the Russians at Tannenberg (1914) and the Masaurian Lakes(1915). Seen as the saviour of East Prussia, he was promoted to field marshal and on the 29th August 1916 became Chief of Staff of the German Army. 

With the support of senior military officers and right-wing industrialists, Hindenburg and his quartermaster general, Erich von Ludendorff, formed what became known as the Third Supreme Command. This military-industrial dictatorship held power until 29th September 1918, when with defeat inevitable, the government of Germany was returned to the Reichstag. 

Hindenburg retired from the German Army in October, 1918, but continued to take an active interest in politics. In 1925 Hindenburg replaced Friedrich Ebert as President of Germany. Re-elected in 1932 he did not oppose the rise of Adolf Hitler and in January 1933, appointed him Chancellor. Paul von Hindenburg was so popular with the German people that Hitler was unable to overthrow constitutional government until his death in 1934.

Anton Drexler

 

Anton Drexler was born in Germany on 13th June, 1884. He worked as a machine-fitter before becoming a locksmith in Berlin in 1902.

A fervent nationalist Drexler was upset when he was rejected as unfit to serve in the German Army during the First World War.

In 1919 Drexler joined with Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart to form theGerman Workers's Party (GPW) in Munich. Adolf Hitler joined the party soon afterwards. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the party. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party's propaganda manager.

In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Roehm. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP.

The German Workers's Party used some of this money to advertise their meetings. Adolf Hitler was often the main speaker and it was during this period that he developed the techniques that made him into such a persuasive orator.

Hitler successfully persuaded Drexler that the GWP should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). In February 1920, Hitler and Drexler published its first programme which became known as the "25 Points". In the programme the party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treaty and called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied these rights.

To appeal to the working class and socialists, the programme included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education.

The programme was also reflected the racist views shared by Drexler and Adolf Hitler. It appealed to the Anti-Semitism that existed in Germany at that time by stating that "Citizenship is to be determined by race; no Jew to be a German."

On 24th February, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a mass rally where it announced its new programme. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler's first party meeting.

Hitler knew that the growth in the party was mainly due to his skills as an orator and in the autumn of 1921 he challenged Drexler for the leadership of the party. After brief resistance Drexler accepted the inevitable, and Hitler became the new leader of the Nazi Party.

Anton Drexler left the NSDAP in 1923 and was a forgotten figure by the time he died in Munich on 24th February, 1942.

Gottfried Feder

 

Gottfried Feder, the son of a government official, was born in Wurzburg, Germany, on 27th January, 1883. He studied engineering in Berlin and Zurich before starting his own construction company in 1908.

During the First World War Feder developed a hostility to Germany's wealthy bankers and in 1919 he published his Manifesto on Breaking the Shackles of Interest.

In 1919 Feder joined with Anton Drexler and Dietrich Eckart to form theGerman Workers's Party (GPW) in Munich. Adolf Hitler joined the party soon afterwards. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the party. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party's propaganda manager.

In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Roehm. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP.

The German Workers's Party used some of this money to advertise their meetings. Adolf Hitler was often the main speaker and it was during this period that he developed the techniques that made him into such a persuasive orator.

Hitler successfully persuaded members of the GWP should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). In February 1920, Feder joined with Hitler and Drexler to draft what became known as the "25 Points". In the programme the party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treatyand called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied these rights.

To appeal to the working class and socialists, the programme included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education.

The programme was also reflected the racist views shared by party members. It appealed to the Anti-Semitism that existed in Germany at that time by stating that "Citizenship is to be determined by race; no Jew to be a German."

Feder greatly influenced the anti-capitalist aspect of the Nazi programme and insisted on phrases such as the need to "break the interest slavery of international capitalism" and the claim that Germany had become the "slave of the international stock market".

On 24th February, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a mass rally where it announced its new programme. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler's first party meeting.

Feder published his book, National and Social Bases of the German State in 1920. In 1923 Feder took part in the Beer Hall Putsch. He remained one of the leaders of the party and in 1924 was elected to the Reichstag.

Throughout the 1920s Feder was a leader of the anti-capitalist wing of the Nazi Party. He put forward his views in Das Programm der NSDAP (1931), Kampf gegen die Hochfinannz (1933) and Die Juden (1933) where he expressed his anti-semitic views.

As Feder held the important post of chairman of the party's economic council, his anti-capitalist views led to a decline in financial support from Germany's major industrialists. After pressure from figures such as Albert VoeglerGustav KruppFriedrich FlickFritz ThyssenHjalmar Schacht and Emile Kirdorf, Hitler decided to move the party away Feder's left-wing economic theories.

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933 he appointed Feder as Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Economics. Feder was disappointed that he had not been given a more senior position. However, as one of the leaders of the left-wing of the Nazi Party, Hitler saw him as a threat to his leadership.

After the Night of the Long Knives where other left-wingers such as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Roehm were murdered, Feder resigned from the government. Gottfried Feder worked as a university lecturer until his death on 24th September, 1941.

Ernst Roehm

 

Ernst Roehm was born in Munich on 28th November, 1887. He joined theGerman Army in 1906 and during the First World War was wounded three times and reached the rank of major.

After the war Roehm joined the Freikorps and served under Franz Epp in Munich in 1919. He remained active in right-wing politics and in 1921 he recruited Adolf Hitler to spy on the German Worker's Party (GWP). Soon afterward Roehm also joined the GWP. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the party.

Roehm took part in the Beer Hall Putsch and after its failure was one of those imprisoned and put on trial. Although found guilty of treasonable acts, he was released and dismissed from the German Army. He now moved to Bolivia where he worked as a military instructor.

In January, 1931, Adolf Hitler recalled Roehm to Germany and placed him in charge of the Sturm Abteilung (SA). In just over a year he expanded it from 70,000 to 170,000 members. By 1934 the SA had grown to 4,500,000 men.

In 1933, General Werner von Blomberg, Hitler's minister of war, and Walther von Reichenau, chief liaison officer between the German Army and the Nazi Party, became increasingly concerned about the growing power of the Sturm Abteilung (SA). Roehm had been given a seat on the National Defence Council and began to demand more say over military matters. On 2nd October 1933, Roehm sent a letter to Reichenau that said: "I regard the Reichswehr now only as a training school for the German people. The conduct of war, and therefore of mobilization as well, in the future is the task of the SA.

Werner von Blomberg and Walther von Reichenau began to conspire with Hermann Goering andHeinrich Himmler against Roehm and the SA. Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Roehm. Heydrich, who also feared him, manufactured evidence that suggested that Roehm had been paid 12 million marks by the French to overthrow Hitler.

Hitler liked Roehm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Roehm had been one of his first supporters and, without his ability to obtain army funds in the early days of the movement, it is unlikely that the Nazis would have ever become established. The SA under Roehm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.

However, Adolf Hitler had his own reasons for wanting Roehm removed. Powerful supporters of Hitler had been complaining about Roehm for some time. Generals were afraid that the Sturm Abteilung(SA), a force of over 3 million men, would absorb the much smaller German Army into its ranks and Roehm would become its overall leader.

Industrialists, who had provided the funds for the Nazi victory, were unhappy with Roehm's socialistic views on the economy and his claims that the real revolution had still to take place. Many people in the party also disapproved of the fact that Roehm and many other leaders of the SA were homosexuals.

Adolf Hitler was also aware that Roehm and the SA had the power to remove him as leader. Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler played on this fear by constantly feeding him with new information on Roehm's proposed coup. Their masterstroke was to claim that Gregor Strasser, whom Hitler hated, was part of the planned conspiracy against him. With this news Hitler ordered all the SA leaders to attend a meeting in the Hanselbauer Hotel in Wiesse.

On 29th June, 1934. Hitler, accompanied by the Schutzstaffel (SS), arrived at Wiesse, where he personally arrested Ernst Roehm. During the next 24 hours 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiesse. Many were shot as soon as they were captured but Hitler decided to pardon Roehm because of his past services to the movement. However, after much pressure from Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Roehm should die. At first Hitler insisted that Roehm should be allowed to commit suicide but, when he refused, Ernst Roehm was killed by two SS men.

The purge of the SA was kept secret until it was announced by Hitler on 13th July. It was during this speech that Hitler gave the purge its name: Night of the Long Knives (a phrase from a popular Nazi song). Hitler claimed that 61 had been executed while 13 had been shot resisting arrest and three had committed suicide. Others have argued that as many as 400 people were killed during the purge. In his speech Hitler explained why he had not relied on the courts to deal with the conspirators: "In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I become the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason."

 

Werner Blomberg

 

Werner Blomberg was born in Stargard, Germany, on 2nd September, 1878. He joined the German Armyand served as a second lieutenant in the 73rd Fusilier Regiment. He attended the War Academy (1904-07) before joining the General Staff in 1908.

On the outbreak of the First World War Blomberg was General Staff Officer with the 19th Reserve Division. He served on the Western Front where won the Pour le Mérite. By the end of the war he had reached the rank of major. Blomberg's two brothers were both killed in the conflict.

Blomberg remained in the army and in 1920 was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was appointed Chief of Staff of the Doeberitz Brigade. Four years later General Hans von Seeckt appointed him as chief of army training.

In 1927 Blomberg was promoted to the rank of major general and was appointed chief of the Troop Office. In this position he clashed with Kurt von Schleicher and in 1929 was sent to East Prussia to serve underWalther von Reichenau.

In 1932 Blomberg was head of the German delegation at the Geneva Disarmament Conference. The following year Adolf Hitler appointed him minister of defence and in 1935 minister of war and commander in chief of the German Army. It was Blomberg's idea to get all soldiers to pledge an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. In April 1936 Blomberg became Hitler's first field marshal.

Hermann Goering was jealous of Blomberg's power and used the Gestapo to obtain embarrassing information about his private life. In January, 1938, Blomberg resigned when he discovered that Goering was planning to make public the fact that his new young wife was a former prostitute.

After the Second World War Blomberg was captured by Allied troops and gave evidence at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. Werner Blomberg died while being held in detention on 14th March, 1946.

Hermann Goering

 

Hermann Goering was born in Rosenheim, Bavaria on 12th January 1893. The son of a senior army officer, he was educated at a military school and became a member of the Prussian Cadet Corps.

Goering joined the German Army in June, 1912. He served with the infantry during the first few months of the First World War but was hospitalized with rheumatoid arthritis of the knees. After recovering, he transferred to the German Army Air Service.

At first Goering was an observer for his friend and war ace, Bruno Loerzer, but eventually became a fighter pilot and scored his first victory on 16th November 1915. After the death of Manfred von Richthofen Goering became the leader of his JG 1 squadron. By the end of the war Goering had achieved 22 victories and had been awarded the Iron Cross and thePour le Merite for bravery.

After the war, Goering earned his living as a pilot working for the Fokker company based in Holland. While there he met and married Baroness Karen von Fock-Kantzow.

Goering returned in 1923 and after hearing Adolf Hitler speak joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). He later admitted: "it was political love at first sight". Hitler also admired Goering and appointed him as head of Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men.

On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Gustav von Kahr, the leader of the Bavarian government was making a speech, Goering, Hitler and the SA entered the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the National Revolution had began.

Leaving Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials, Adolf Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Seisser, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" After this the three men agreed.

Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been leader of the German Army at the end of the First World War. He had therefore found Hitler's claim that the war had not been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists and the German government, attractive, and was a strong supporter of the Nazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become head of the the German Army in Hitler's government.

While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.

Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.

The next day Goering, Adolf HitlerEric Ludendorff, and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Partymarched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering, who had two granite splinters (from a building) in his groin.

To avoid arrest Goering fled to Sweden. Goering, who lived in Stockholm for the next four years, was in a poor physical state because of his morphine addiction. He also suffered from obesity and weighed 280 pounds.

In 1927 President Paul von Hindenburg granted Goering an amnesty and he returned to Berlin. The following year he was one of the twelve members of the Nazi Party elected to the Reichstag and on 30th August, 1932, became its president.

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, he made Goering a cabinet minister without portfolio. Later he became minister of the interior and prime minister of Prussia. He immediately replaced 22 of Germany's 32 police chiefs with SA and SS officers. He also appointed Rudolf Diels as chief of the political police, the Gestapo.

After the Reichstag Fire on 27th February, 1933, Goering launched a wave of violence against members of the German Communist Party and other left-wing opponents of the regime. He also joined with Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutz Staffeinel, in setting up Germany's concentration camps.

Goering agreed that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to the German Army and in June 1934 arranged the Night of the Long Knives. He also purged Werner von Blomberg and Werner von Fitschfrom the high command of the army.

In February, 1938, Goering became head of Germany's armed forces,. The following year he officially became Hitler's deputy and legal heir. He obtained a vast income from his various official posts and converted an old Berlin palace into his official residence. Goering also made money from his own newspaper, Essener National Zeitung and from stock in the aircraft industry.

After the outbreak of the Second World War Goering was placed in charge of the Luftwaffe and took credit for the quick defeat of FranceNetherlandsBelgium and Luxembourg in the summer of 1940. However, he failed to stop the British evacuation of Dunkirk.

Goering organized the German war effort during the Battle of Britain and made the crucial mistake of changing his tactics and launching the Blitz in September, 1940. He was criticized for the failings of the Luftwaffe during Operation Barbarossa.

When the Red Army made advances into Germany, Goering moved his headquarters to Berchesgaden. After the suicide of Adolf Hitler Goering surrendered to the US Army in Austria on 8th May, 1945.

Hermann Goering was found guilty at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial but avoided execution by swallowing potassium cyanide on 15th October, 1946.

 

The Iron Cross

The Iron Cross was originally established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in March 1813. On 5th August 1914 Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia, reestablished the medal. The Iron Cross was awarded without regard for nationality or social class to combatants for acts of heroism, bravery or leadership skills. During the First World War Germany awarded over five million of these medals to members of the armed forces: Grand Cross (5), First Class (288,000) and Second Class (5,200,000).

 

Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess, the son of a wealthy German merchant, was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 26th April, 1894. At the age of twelve Hess was sent back to Germany to be educated at Godesberg. He later joined his father's business in Hamburg.

Hess joined the German Army in August, 1914, and served in the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment during the First World War. He was twice wounded and reached the rank of lieutenant. In 1918 became an officer pilot in the German Army Air Service.

After the war Hess settled in Munich where he entered the university to study history and economics. During this period he was greatly influenced by the teachings of Karl Haushofer, who argued that the state is a biological organism which grows or contracts, and that in the struggle for space the strong countries take land from the weak. This inspired Hess to write a prize-winning essay: How Must the Man be Constructed who will lead Germany back to her Old Heights? It included the following passage: "When necessity commands, he does not shrink from bloodshed... In order to reach his goal, he is prepared to trample on his closest friends."

Hess joined the Freikorps led by Franz Epp and helped to put down the Spartakist Rising during theGerman Revolution in 1919. The following year he heard Adolf Hitler speak at a political meeting. Hess remarked: "Was this man a fool or was he the man who would save all Germany."

Hess was one of the first people to join the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and soon became a devoted follower and intimate friend of Adolf Hitler.

In November, 1923, Hess took part in the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Hess escaped and sought the help of Karl Haushofer. For a while he lived in Haushofer's home, Hartschimmelhof, in the Bavarian Alps. Later he was helped to escape to Austria. Hess was eventually arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison. While in Landsberg he helped Hitler write My Struggle (Mein Kampf). According to James Douglas-Hamilton (Motive for a Mission) Haushofer provided "Hitler with a formula and certain well-turned phrases which could be adapted, and which at a later stage suited the Nazis perfectly".

Heinrich Bruening and other senior politicians were worried that Adolf Hitler would use hisstormtroopers to take power by force. Led by Ernst Roehm, it now contained over 400,000 men. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles the official German Army was restricted to 100,000 men and was therefore outnumbered by the SA. In the past, those who feared communism were willing to put up with the SA as they provided a useful barrier against the possibility of revolution. However, with the growth in SA violence and fearing a Nazi coup, Bruening banned the organization.

In May 1932, Paul von Hindenburg sacked Bruening and replaced him with Franz von Papen. The new chancellor was also a member of the Catholic Centre Party and, being more sympathetic to the Nazis, he removed the ban on the SA. The next few weeks saw open warfare on the streets between the Nazis and the Communists during which 86 people were killed.

In an attempt to gain support for his new government, in July Franz von Papen called another election.Adolf Hitler now had the support of the upper and middle classes and the NSDAP did well winning 230 seats, making it the largest party in the Reichstag. However the German Social Democrat Party (133) and the German Communist Party (89) still had the support of the urban working class and Hitler was deprived of an overall majority in parliament.

Hitler demanded that he should be made Chancellor but Paul von Hindenburg refused and instead gave the position to Major-General Kurt von Schleicher. Hitler was furious and began to abandon his strategy of disguising his extremist views. In one speech he called for the end of democracy a system which he described as being the "rule of stupidity, of mediocrity, of half-heartedness, of cowardice, of weakness, and of inadequacy."

Hess gradually worked his way up the Nazi hierarchy and in December 1932 Adolf Hitler appointed him head of the Central Political Committee and deputy leader of the party and minister without portfolio. Joseph Goebbels described Hess as "the most decent, quiet, friendley, clever, reserved... he is a kind fellow." Joachim C. Fest (The Face of the Third Reich) argued that many Germans thought he was an "honest man" and "the conscience of the Party".

The behaviour of the NSDAP became more violent. On one occasion 167 Nazis beat up 57 members of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag. They were then physically thrown out of the building.

The stormtroopers also carried out terrible acts of violence against socialists and communists. In one incident in Silesia, a young member of the KPD had his eyes poked out with a billiard cue and was then stabbed to death in front of his mother. Four members of the SA were convicted of the rime. Many people were shocked when Hitler sent a letter of support for the four men and promised to do what he could to get them released.

Incidents such as these worried many Germans, and in the elections that took place in November 1932 the support for the Nazi Party fell. The German Communist Party made substantial gains in the election winning 100 seats. Hitler used this to create a sense of panic by claiming that German was on the verge of a Bolshevik Revolution and only the NSDAP could prevent this happening.

A group of prominent industrialists who feared such a revolution sent a petition to Paul von Hindenburgasking for Hitler to become Chancellor. Hindenberg reluctantly agreed to their request and at the age of forty-three, Hitler became the new Chancellor of Germany.

Although Adolf Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

In the build up to the Second World War Hitler began to have growing doubts about the abilities of Hess and other leaders such as Hermann GöringHeinrich HimmlerJoseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann became more important in the party.

However, it is possible that Hess was playing a new secret role in Hitler's government. On 22nd May 1940 some 250 German tanks were advancing along the French coast towards Dunkirk, threatening to seal off the British escape route. Then, just six miles from the town, at around 11.30 a.m., they abruptly stopped. Adolf Hitler had personally ordered all German forces to hold their positions for three days. This order was uncoded and was picked up by the British. They therefore knew they were going to get away. German generals begged to be able to move forward in order to destroy the British army but Hitler insisted that they held back so that the British troops could leave mainland Europe.

Some historians have argued that this is an example of another tactical error made by Adolf Hitler. However, the evidence suggests that this was part of a deal being agreed between Germany and Britain. After the war, General Gunther Blumentritt, the Army Chief of Staff, told military historian Basil Liddell Hart that Hitler had decided that Germany would make peace with Britain. Another German general told Liddell Hart that Hitler aimed to make peace with Britain “on a basis that was compatible with her honour to accept”. (The Other Side of the Hill, pages 139-41)

According to Ilse Hess, her husband was told by Hitler that the massacring of the British army atDunkirk would humiliate the British government and would make peace negotiations harder because of the bitterness and resentment it would cause.

Joseph Goebbels recorded in his diary in June 1940 that Hitler told him that peace talks with Britain were taking place in Sweden. The intermediary was Marcus Wallenberg, a Swedish banker.

We know from other sources that Winston Churchill was under considerable pressure to finish off the peace talks that had been started by Neville Chamberlain. This is why George VI wanted Lord Halifaxas prime minister instead of Churchill. There is an intriguing entry into the diary of John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary, on 10th May. In discussing Churchill’s talks with the king about becoming prime minister Colville writes: “Nothing can stop him (Churchill) having his way – because of his powers of blackmail”.

We know that George VI was bitterly opposed to Winston Churchill becoming prime minister. He tried desperately to persuade Chamberlain to stay on in the job. When he refused he wanted to use his royal prerogative to appoint Lord Halifax as prime minister. Halifax refused as he feared this act would have brought the government down and would put the survival of the monarchy at risk. (John Costello,Ten Days that Saved the West, pages 46-47).

On 8th June 1940, one Labour MP suggested in the House of Commons that Churchill should instigate an inquiry into the “appeasement” party with a view to prosecuting its members. Churchill replied this would be foolish as “there are too many in it”. Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare, recorded in his diary that the “appeasement party” was so powerful within the Conservative Party that Churchill faced the possibility of being removed as prime minister.

On 10th September 1940, Karl Haushofer sent a letter to his son Albrecht. The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. Karl talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (head of the British Legion), the Duke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. The Roberts were very close to Stewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place. Karl and Albrecht Haushofer were close friends of both Rudolf Hess and the Duke of Hamilton.

In 1959, Heinrich Stahmer, who worked with Haushofer, claimed that meetings between Samuel HoareLord Halifax and Rudolf Hess took place in Spain and Portugal between February and April 1941. The Vichy press reported that Hess was in Spain on the weekend of 20/22 of April 1941. The correspondence between British Embassies and the Foreign Office are routinely released to the Public Record Office. However, all documents relating to the weekend of 20/22 April, 1941 at the Madrid Embassy are being held back and will not be released until 2017.

Karl Haushofer was arrested and interrogated by the Allies in October 1945. The British government has never released the documents that include details of these interviews. However, these interviews are in the OSS archive. Karl told his interviewers that Germany was involved in peace negotiations with Britain in 1940-41. In 1941 Albrecht was sent to Switzerland to meet Samuel Hoare, the British ambassador to Spain. This peace proposal included a willingness to “relinquish Norway, Denmark and France”. Karl goes onto say: “A larger meeting was to be held in Madrid. When my son returned, he was immediately called to Augsburg by Hess. A few days later Hess flew to England.”

On 10th May, 1941, Hess flew a Me 110 to Scotland. When he parachuted to the ground he was captured by David McLean, of the Home Guard. He asked to be taken to Duke of Hamilton, the “middleman” mentioned in the earlier letter. In fact, Hamilton lived close to where Hess landed (Dungavel House). If Hamilton was the “middleman” who was he acting for. Was it George VI orWinston Churchill? Shortly afterwards Sergeant Daniel McBride and Emyr Morris, reached the scene and took control of the prisoner. Hess’s first words to them were: “Are you friends of the Duke of Hamilton? I have an important message for him.”

 

After the war Daniel McBride attempted to tell his story of what had happened when he captured Hess. This story originally appeared in the Hongkong Telegraph (6th March, 1947). “The purpose of the former Deputy Fuhrer’s visit to Britain is still a mystery to the general public, but I can say, and with confidence too, that high-ranking Government officials were aware of his coming.” The reason that McBride gives for this opinion is that: “No air-raid warning was given that night, although the plane must have been distinguished during his flight over the city of Glasgow. Nor was the plane plotted at the anti-aircraft control room for the west of Scotland.” McBride concludes from this evidence that someone with great power ordered that Hess should be allowed to land in Scotland. This story was picked up by the German press but went unreported in the rest of the world.

According to Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Scott, Hess had told one of his guards that “members of the government” had known about his proposed trip to Scotland. Hess also asked to see George VI as he had been assured before he left Nazi Germany that he had the “King’s protection”. The authors ofDouble Standards, believe the Duke of Kent, the Duke of HamiltonSamuel Hoare and Lord Halifax, were all working for the king in their efforts to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.

Karlheinz Pintsch, Hess adjutant, was given the task of informing Hitler about the flight to Scotland.James Leasor found him alive in 1955 and used him as a major source for his book, The Uninvited Envoy. Pintsch told Leasor of Hitler’s response to this news. He did not seem surprised, nor did he rant and rave about what Hess had done. Instead, he replied calmly, “At this particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous escapade.”

Hitler then went onto read the letter that Hess had sent him. He read the following significant passage out aloud. “And if this project… ends in failure… it will always be possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my mind.” Of course, that is what both Hitler and Churchill did later on. However, at the time, Hitler at least, still believed that a negotiated agreement was possible.

The following day Adolf Hitler knew that Winston Churchill had refused to do a deal and then the cover-up began. Pintsch was now a dangerous witness and he was arrested and was kept in solitary confinement until being sent to the Eastern Front in 1944. He was captured by the Soviets and kept alive until being released in 1955. (James Leasor, The Uninvited Envoy, page 69).

Hitler now issued a statement pointing out that "Hess did not fly in my name." Albert Speer, who was with Hitler when he heard the news, later reported that "what bothered him was the Churchill might use the incident to pretend to Germany's allies that Hitler was extending a peace feeler."

It was not until 27th January 1942 that Winston Churchill made a statement in the House of Commonsabout the arrival of Hess. Churchill claimed it was part of a plot to oust him from power and “for a government to be set up with which Hitler could negotiate a magnanimous peace”. If that was the case, were the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Hamilton part of this plot?

In September, 1943, Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, admitted in the House of Commons that Hess had indeed arrived in Scotland to negotiate a peace settlement. However, Eden claimed that the British government had been unaware of these negotiations. In fact, he added, Hess had refused to negotiate with Churchill. Eden failed to say who Hess was negotiating with. Nor did he explain why Hess (Hitler) was willing to negotiate with someone other than the British government. The authors ofDouble Standards argue that Hess was negotiating with Duke of Hamilton and the royal family, via theDuke of Kent. It is true Hamilton had a meeting with Churchill and Stewart Menzies two days after Hess arrived in Scotland. We also know that MI6 was monitoring these negotiations. If Hamilton was truly a traitor, surely Churchill would have punished him. Instead, along with the Duke of Kent, who were both in the RAF, were promoted by Churchill. In July 1941 Hamilton became a Group Captain and Kent became an Air Commodore. 

This did not stop journalists speculating that the Duke of Hamilton was a traitor. In February 1942, Hamilton sued the London District Committee of the Communist Party for an article that appeared in their journal, World News and Views. The article claimed that Hamilton had been involved in negotiating with Nazi Germany and knew that Hess was flying to Scotland. Had this information come from Kim Philby? The case was settled when the Communist Party issued a public apology. Clearly, they could not say where this information came from.

Continued

 

Later that year Hamilton sued Pierre van Paassen, who in his book, That Day Alone, described Hamilton as a “British Fascist” who had plotted with Hess. The case was settled out of court in Hamilton’s favour. Sir Archibald Sinclair also issued a statement in the House of Commons that theDuke of Hamilton had never met Rudolf Hess.

However, recently released documents show that this was not all it seemed. The Communist Partythreatened to call Hess as a witness. This created panic in the cabinet. A letter from the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, to Sir Archibald Sinclair, dated 18th June 1941, shows that the government was extremely worried about Hess appearing as a witness in this libel case. Morrison asks Sinclair to use his influence on Hamilton to drop the libel case. It is interesting that this letter was sent to Sinclair as he is the man who made the public statement about Hamilton and Hess, carried out the investigation into the Duke of Kent’s death and whose estate Hess was supposed to be living when the crash took place. Hamilton clearly took Morrison’s advice and this explains why the Communist Party did not have to pay any money to Hamilton over the libel.

The Pierre van Paassen’s case is also not as clear-cut as it appears. Hamilton sued him for $100,000. In fact, all Hamilton got was $1,300. The publisher had to promise that future editions of the book would have to remove the offending passage. However, he did not have to recall and pulp existing copies of the book.

However, it is the third case that tells us most about what was going on. On 13th May 1941 the Daily Express published an article detailing the close relationship between the Duke of Hamilton and Rudolf Hess. The Duke’s solicitor had a meeting with Godfrey Norris, the editor of the newspaper. The solicitor later reported that Norris appeared willing to print a retraction. While the discussion was taking place Lord Beaverbrook, the proprietor of the newspaper, arrived. He overruled his editor and stated that the newspaper would stick to its accusation. Beaverbrook added that he could prove that Sir Archibald Sinclair lied when he claimed in the House of Commons that Hamilton had never met Rudolf Hess. Understandably, the Duke of Hamilton withdrew his threat to sue the Daily Express. (Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie, Beaverbrook, A Life, pages 409-10)

What is clear about these events is that Churchill and Sinclair made every attempt to protect the reputation of the Duke of Hamilton following the arrival of Hess. However, Beaverbrook, who like Hamilton was a prominent appeaser before the war, let him know that he was not in control of the situation.

After the war the Duke of Hamilton told his son that he was forced to take the blame for Hess arriving in Scotland in order to protect people who were more powerful than him. The son assumed he was talking about the royal family. It is possible he was also talking about Winston Churchill.

There are other signs that Hess had arrived to carry out serious peace negotiations with the British government.. On the very night that Rudolf Hess arrived in Scotland, London experienced its heaviest German bomb attack: 1,436 people were killed and some 12,000 made homeless. Many historic landmarks including the Houses of Parliament were hit. The Commons debating chamber – the main symbol of British democracy – was destroyed. American war correspondents based in London such as Walter Lippmann and Vincent Sheean, suggested that Britain was on the verge of surrender.

Yet, the 10th May marked the end of the Blitz. It was the last time the Nazis would attempt a major raid on the capital. Foreign journalist based in London at the time wrote articles that highlighted this strange fact. James Murphy even suggested that there might be a connection between the arrival of Hess and the last major bombing raid on London. (James Murphy, Who Sent Rudolf Hess, 1941 page 7)

This becomes even more interesting when one realizes at the same time as Hitler ordered the cessation of the Blitz, Winston Churchill was instructing Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff, to reduce bombing attacks on Nazi Germany. Portal was surprised and wrote a memorandum to Churchill asking why the strategy had changed: “Since the Fall of France the bombing offensive had been a fundamental principle of our strategy.” Churchill replied that he had changed his mind and now believed “it is very disputable whether bombing by itself will be a decisive factor in the present war”. (John TerraineThe Right Line: The RAF in the European War 1939-45, 1985 page 295)

Is it possible that Hitler and Churchill had called off these air attacks as part of their peace negotiations? Is this the reason why Hess decided to come to Britain on 10th May, 1941? The date of this arrival is of prime importance. Hitler was no doubt concerned about the length of time these negotiations were taking. We now know that he was desperate to order the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) in early Spring. According to Richard Sorge of the Red Orchestra spy network, Hitler planned to launch this attack in May 1941. (Leopold TrepperThe Great Game, 1977, page 126)

However, for some reason the invasion was delayed. Hitler eventually ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22nd June, 1941. It would therefore seem that peace negotiations between Germany and Britain had come to an end. However, is this true? One would have expected Churchill to order to resume mass bombing of Germany. This was definitely the advice he was getting from Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris also took a similar view. In June 1943, Harris was briefing American journalists about his disagreement with Churchill’s policy.

Douglas Reed, a British journalist with a good relationship with Portal and Churchill, wrote in 1943: “The long delay in bombing Germany is already chief among the causes of the undue prolongation of the war.” (Douglas Reed, Lest We Regret, 1943, page 331). One senior army figure told a journalist after the war that Hess’s arrival brought about a “virtual armistice” between Germany and Britain.

On 6th November, 1944, Churchill made a visit to Moscow. At a supper in the Kremlin, Joseph Stalinraised his glass and proposed a toast to the British Intelligence Services, which he said had “inveigled Hess into coming to England.” Winston Churchill immediately protested that he and the intelligence services knew nothing about the proposed visit. Stalin smiled and said maybe the intelligence services had failed to tell him about the operation.

Hess was kept in the Tower of London until being sent to face charges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. On 13th November, 1945, American psychiatrist Dr Donald Ewen Cameron was sent by Allen Dulles of the OSS to assess Hess’s fitness to stand trial.

Cameron was carrying out experiments into sensory deprivation and memory as early as 1938. In 1943 he went to Canada and established the psychiatry department at Montreal's McGill University and became director of the newly-created Allan Memorial Institute that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. At the same time he also did work for the OSS. It is almost certain that the US intelligence services were providing at least some of the money for his research during the war.

We know by 1947 he was using the “depatterning” technique to wipe out patients memories of the past. Donald Ewen Cameron believed that after inducing complete amnesia in a patient, he could then selectively recover their memory in such a way as to change their behaviour unrecognisably." In other words, Cameron was giving them a new past. Is it possible that Cameron and the OSS was doing this during the Second World War. Is it possible that the real reason for Cameron’s visit was that he wanted to assess the treatment he had been giving Hess since 1943? That Hess was one of Cameron’s guinea pigs.

When he came face to face with Hermann Göring at Nuremberg, Hess remarked: “Who are you”? Göring reminded him of events that they witnessed in the past but Hess continued to insist that he did not know this man. Karl Haushofer was then called in but even though they had been friends for twenty years, Hess once again failed to remember him. Hess replied “I just don’t know you, but it will all come back to me and then I will recognise an old friend again. I am terribly sorry.” (Peter Padfield,Hess: The Führer’s Disciple, page 305).

Hess did not recognise other Nazi leaders. Joachim von Ribbentrop responded by suggesting that Hess was not really Hess. When told of something that Hess had said he replied: “Hess, you mean Hess? The Hess we have here?” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 169).

However, Major Douglas M. Kelley, the American psychiatrist who was responsible for Hess during the trials, stated that he did have periods when he did remember his past. This included a detailed account of his flight to Scotland. Hess told Kelley that he had arrived without the knowledge of Hitler. Hess claimed that “only he could get the English King or his representatives to meet with Hitler and make peace so that millions of people and thousands of villages would be spared.” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 168).

The list of 23 defendants at Nuremberg included Rudolf Hess, Hermann GöringWilhelm FrickHans FrankRudolf HessErnst KaltenbrunnerAlfred RosenbergAlbert SpeerJulius StreicherAlfred Jodl,Fritz SaukelRobert LeyErich RaederWilhelm KeitelArthur Seyss-InquartHjalmar SchachtKarl DoenitzFranz von PapenConstantin von Neurath and Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Robert Ley and Hermann Goering both committed suicide during the trial. Wilhelm FrickHans Frank,Ernst KaltenbrunnerWalther FunkFritz SaukelAlfred RosenbergJulius StreicherAlfred Jodl,Wilhelm KeitelArthur Seyss-Inquart, and Joachim von Ribbentrop were found guilty and executed on 16th October, 1946. Rudolf Hess, Erich Raeder, were sentenced to life imprisonment and Albert Speerto 25 years. Karl DoenitzWalther FunkFranz von PapenAlfried KruppFriedrich Flick andConstantin von Neurath were also found guilty and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment atSpandau Prison.

In January, 1951, John McCloy, the US High Commissioner for Germany, announced that Alfried Krupp and eight members of his board of directors who had been convicted with him, were to be released. His property, valued at around 45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him.

Others that McCloy decided to free included Friedrich Flick, one of the main financial supporters ofAdolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). During the Second World WarFlick became extremely wealthy by using 48,000 slave labourers from SS concentration camps in his various industrial enterprises. It is estimated that 80 per cent of these workers died as a result of the way they were treated during the war. His property was restored to him and like Krupp became one of the richest men in Germany.

Others serving life-imprisonment at Spandau Prison were also released: Erich Raeder (1955), Karl Doenitz (1956), Friedrich Flick (1957) and Albert Speer (1966). However, the Soviet Union and Britain refused to release Rudolf Hess.

However, Mikhail Gorbachev told German journalists in February 1987, that he was going to give permission for the release of Hess (Peter PadfieldHess: The Führer’s Disciple, page 328). The West German newspaper Bild reported that Hess was going to be released on his 93rd birthday on 26th April 1987. (Bild, 21st April, 1987) Hess knew differently, he told Abadallah Melaouhi, his nurse, that the “English will kill me” before I am released. (BBC Newsnight, 28th February 1989).

According to Sir Christopher Mallaby, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet Office, the British did indeed block his release. Gorbachev told Margaret Thatcher that he would expose the British hypocrisy by withdrawing the Soviet guards from Spandau Prison.

Rudolf Hess was still in Spandau Prison when he was found dead on 17th August, 1987. Officially he committed suicide but grave doubts have been raised about the possibility of a 93 man in his state of health being able to hang himself with an electrical extension cord without help from someone else.

 

Franz Epp

 

Franz Epp was born in Munich, Germany, on 16th October, 1868. He joined the German Army and served in China and South-West Africa before commanding the king's bodyguard regiment during the First World War where he won the Iron Cross.

Epp became one of the leaders of the Freikorps and in March, 1919, led 30,000 soldiers to crush the Bavarian Socialist Republic. It is estimated that Epp's men killed over 600 communists and socialists over the next few weeks.

In 1921 Epp purchased the Volkischer Beobachter and turned it into a newspaper that supported Adolf Hitler. However, he refused to take part in theBeer Hall Putsch in 1923.

Epp joined the Nazi Party in 1928 and assumed control of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) in Bavaria. Later that year he was elected to the Reichstag.

In 1933 Epp became State Governor of Bavaria, a post he held arrested by allied forces at the end of theSecond World War. Franz Epp died in an American internment camp on 31st January, 1947.

Beer Hall Putsch

On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Gustav von Kahr, the prime minister of Bavaria was making a speech, Adolf Hitler and armed stormtroopers entering the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putschwas taking place and the National Revolution had began.

Leaving Hermann Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials, Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Lossow, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Adolf Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" After this the three men agreed.

Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been leader of the German Army at the end of theFirst World War. He had therefore found Hitler's claim that the war had not been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists and the German government, attractive, and was a strong supporter of theNazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become head of the the German Army in Hitler's government.

While Adolf Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.

Adolf Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.

The next day Adolf HitlerEric LudendorffHermann Goering and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Partymarched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering.

When the firing started Adolf Hitler threw himself to the ground dislocating his shoulder. Hitler lost his nerve and ran to a nearby car. Although the police were outnumbered, the Nazis followed their leader's example and ran away. Only Eric Ludendorff and his adjutant continued walking towards the police. Later Nazi historians were to claim that the reason Hitler left the scene so quickly was because he had to rush an injured young boy to the local hospital.

After hiding in a friend's house for several days, Adolf Hitler was arrested and put on trial for his role in theBeer Hall Putsch. If found guilty, Hitler faced the death penalty. While in prison Hitler suffered from depression and talked of committing suicide. However, it soon became clear that the Nazi sympathizers in the Bavarian government were going to make sure that Hitler would not be punished severely.

At his trial Adolf Hitler was allowed to turn the proceedings into a political rally, and although he was found guilty he only received the minimum sentence of five years. Other members of the Nazi Party also received light sentences and Eric Ludendorff was acquitted.

 

Karl Haushofer

 

Karl Haushofer, the son of Max Haushofer, a professor of economics, was born in Munich on 27th August, 1869.

In 1887 he joined the Imperial German Army. He served in the 1st Field Artillery Regiment and later studied at the Artillery Academy and the Bavarian War Academy. In 1896, he married Martha Mayer Doss, the daughter of a Jewish merchant from Mannheim.

In 1908 he was sent to Tokyo. Haushofer learnt Japanese and became an expert on South and East Asia. Haushofer continued his studies and received a degree in Geography, Geology and History from the University of Munich in 1913.

During the First World War he served on the Eastern Front in Russia and the Western Front in France. By 1918 he had reached the rank of Major-General and in 1918 supervised the return of the Thirtieth Bavarian Reserve Division from Alsace to Bavaria.

In 1919 Haushofer retired from the German Army and and started teaching geopolitics at the University of Munich. Based on the writings of Oswald Spengler, Alexander Humboldt, Karl Ritter, Friedrich Ratzel, and Halford J. Mackinder, Haushofer developed the theory that the state is a biological organism which grows or contracts, and that in the struggle for space the strong countries take land from the weak.

One of Haushofer's students was Rudolf Hess. Haushofer's teachings inspired Hess to write a prize-winning essay: How Must the Man be Constructed who will lead Germany back to her Old Heights? It included the following passage: "When necessity commands, he does not shrink from bloodshed... In order to reach his goal, he is prepared to trample on his closest friends."

In 1920 Hess heard Adolf Hitler speak at a political meeting. Hess remarked: "Was this man a fool or was he the man who would save all Germany." Hess was one of the first people to join the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and soon became a devoted follower and intimate friend of Hitler, who was also influenced by the teachings of Karl Haushofer.

In November, 1923, Rudolf Hess took part in the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Hess escaped and sought the help of Karl Haushofer. For a while he lived in Haushofer's home, Hartschimmelhof, in the Bavarian Alps. Later he was helped to escape to Austria. Hess was eventually arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison. While in Landsberg he helped Adolf Hitler write My Struggle (Mein Kampf). According to James Douglas-Hamilton (Motive for a Mission) Haushofer provided "Hitler with a formula and certain well-turned phrases which could be adapted, and which at a later stage suited the Nazis perfectly".

Although Adolf Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

After the 1933 General Election Hitler proposed an Enabling Bill that would give him dictatorial powers. Such an act needed three-quarters of the members of the Reichstag to vote in its favour.

All the active members of the Communist Party, were in concentration camps, in hiding, or had left the country (an estimated 60,000 people left Germany during the first few weeks after the election). This was also true of most of the leaders of the other left-wing party, Social Democrat Party (SDP). However, Hitler still needed the support of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP) to pass this legislation. Hitler therefore offered the BVP a deal: vote for the bill and the Nazi government would guarantee the rights of the Catholic Church. The BVP agreed and when the vote was taken, only 94 members of the SDP voted against the Enabling Bill.

Adolf Hitler was now dictator of Germany. His first move was to take over the trade unions. Its leaders were sent to concentration camps and the organization was put under the control of the Nazi Party. The trade union movement now became known as the Labour Front.

Once in power Hitler began to express anti-Semitic ideas. Based on his readings of how blacks were denied civil rights in the southern states in America, Hitler attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews in Germany that they would emigrate. The campaign started on 1st April, 1933, when a one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops took place. Members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) picketed the shops to ensure the boycott was successful.

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport.

Germans were also encouraged not to use Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jewish civil servants, teachers and those employed by the mass media were sacked. On 7th April 1933 the Nazi government passed the Civil Service Laws which excluded those of non-Aryan origin from public office within the Reich.

Karl's son, Albrecht Haushofer , who worked as a government advisor on foreign affairs, now became a second-class citizens because of his mother's Jewish father. However, in June 1933, Rudolf Hessintervened personally and issued a protective letter to Haushofer. Now an "honorary Aryan" thisenabled Albrecht to continue working for the Nazi government.

Albrecht had serious doubts about continuing to work for Adolf Hitler. He wrote to his parents on 27th July: "I sometimes ask myself how long we shall be able to carry the responsibility, which we bear and which gradually begins to turn into historical guilt or, at least, into complicity."

In October 1933, Karl Haushofer was appointed as chairman of the Volksdeutsch Council. Albrecht Haushofer became his father's representative in Berlin.

On 26th June, 1938, Albrecht Haushofer sent a report of his meetings with British politicians toJoachim von Ribbentrop stating that: "Britain has still not abandoned her search for chances of a settlement with Germany... A certain measure of pro-German sentiment has not yet disappeared among the British people; the Chamberlain-Halifax government sees its own future strongly tied to the achievement of a true settlement with Rome and Berlin (with a displacement of Soviet influence in Europe.)"

Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop had become very disillusioned with Haushofer's attempts to obtain a peace agreement with Britain and in July, 1938, he ceased to work for the government. However, he remained close to Rudolf Hess and continued to meet with those sympathetic to the Nazi government.

Albrecht Haushofer continued to work behind the scenes in an attempt to persuade the British to accept a peace agreement. On 16th July, 1939, Haushofer wrote again to Douglas Douglas-Hamiltonsuggesting a way to avoid a war. Haushofer showed this letter to several members of the government including Winston Churchill. He replied that it was too late and that a war with Germany was inevitable.

On 8th September, 1940, Albrecht Haushofer, wrote to the Duke of Hamilton: "You... may find some significance in the fact that I am able to ask you whether you could find time to have a talk to me somewhere on the outskirts of Europe, perhaps in Portugal." Haushofer also referred to people who the German government believed wanted an "German-English agreement." This included Samuel Hoareand Rab Butler.

Two days later, Haushofer sent a letter to his father. The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. Albrecht talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (head of the British Legion), theDuke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. The Roberts were very close toStewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place.

On 19th September, 1940, Albrecht Haushofer wrote to Rudolf Hess about his letter to the Duke of Hamilton. He explained that Hamilton would find it difficult to fly to Portugal without the permission ofLord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary and Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air. Haushofer suggested that it would probably be better to work through Samuel Hoare but planned to send the letter via an old friend.

The letter was intercepted by MI5 and Hamilton was persuaded to work as a double-agent. Hamilton agreed to go to Lisbon to meet Haushofer. Colonel Tar Robertson, head of MI5's double agent section, wrote in April 1941: "Hamilton at the beginning of the war and still is a member of the community which sincerely believes that Great Britain will be willing to make peace with Germany provided the present regime in Germany were superseded by some reasonable form of government... He is a slow-witted man, but at the same time he gets there in the end; and I feel that if he is properly schooled before leaving for Lisbon he could do a very useful job of work."

In 1959, Heinrich Stahmer, Albrecht Haushofer’s agent in Spain, claimed that meetings betweenSamuel HoareLord Halifax and Rudolf Hess took place in Spain and Portugal between February and April 1941. The Vichy press reported that Hess was in Spain on the weekend of 20/22 of April 1941. The correspondence between British Embassies and the Foreign Office are routinely released to the Public Record Office. However, all documents relating to the weekend of 20/22 April, 1941 at the Madrid Embassy are being held back and will not be released until 2017.

Karl Haushofer was arrested and interrogated by the Allies after the war. The British government has never released the documents that include details of these interviews. However, these interviews are in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) archive. Karl told his interviewers that Germany was involved in peace negotiations with Britain in 1940-41. In 1941 Albrecht was sent to Switzerland to meet Samuel Hoare (Lord Templewood) the British ambassador to Spain. This peace proposal included a willingness to “relinquish Norway, Denmark and France”. Karl goes onto say: “A larger meeting was to be held in Madrid. When my son returned, he was immediately called to Augsburg by Hess. A few days later Hess flew to England.”

According to his friend, Rainer Hildebrandt, Albrecht Haushofer became very distressed when he discovered that the Hess peace initiative had ended in failure. As Haushofer knew the true details of the operation, he feared for his life and expected the same fate as Karlheinz Pintsch. He was right, and on 11th May, 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered the arrest of Haushofer.

The following day he was taken to Berchtesgaden and ordered to write a full report on what he knew about the reasons for Rudolf Hess flying to Scotland. Haushofer also outlined his contacts with people like the Duke of HamiltonSamuel Hoare (Viscount Templewood), Lord Halifax and Alec Douglas-Home (Lord Dunglass) during these peace negotiations.

After reading Haushofer's report Hitler ordered that he should be sent to the Prince Albrecht Strasse Gestapo Prison in Berlin to be interrogated by Heinrich Mueller, the head of the Gestapo. Haushofer was released in July 1941. The reason for this is that Hitler believed that Haushofer could still play a key role in any future peace negotiations with Britain. Haushofer was kept under surveillance andMartin Bormann sent a letter to important figures in the media that: "Professor Albrecht Haushofer should no longer be given any publicity".

Irmegard Schnuhr, one of Haushofer's favourite students, was recruited by Heinrich Mueller to spy on him. However, she remained loyal to her tutor and only gave the Gestapo information that was first cleared by Haushofer. However, she was not the only spy used and it soon became clear that Haushofer was in contact with other opponents of the Nazi government including Ulrich von Hassell,Ludwig BeckHelmuth von MoltkePeter von Wartenburg and Carl Goerdeler.

On Sunday, 7th December, 1941, 105 high-level bombers, 135 dive-bombers and 81 fighter aircraft attacked the the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In two hours 18 warships, 188 aircraft and 2,403 servicemen were lost in the attack. Luckily, the navy's three aircraft carriers, EnterpriseLexington andSaratoga, were all at sea at the time. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a united US Congress declared war on Japan.

Soon afterwards, Irmegard Schnuhr was summoned by Adolf Hitler and asked her to discover what Haushofer's views were on the possibility of negotiating a peace with Britain. Haushofer told Schnuhr that Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, would make it impossible for any negotiations to get off the ground. Hitler replied that it "would be easy to sack Ribbentrop" if the British first sacked their Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden.

A group of anti-Nazis, including Claus von StauffenbergWilhelm CanarisCarl GoerdelerJulius Leber,Ulrich HassellHans OsterPeter von WartenburgHenning von TresckowFriedrich OlbrichtWerner von HaeftenFabian SchlabrendorffLudwig Beck and Erwin von Witzleben decided to assassinateAdolf Hitler (the July Plot). Haushofer was opposed to any attempt on Hitler's life because he did not believe it would bring an end to the war.

At least six attempts were aborted before Claus von Stauffenberg decided on trying again during a conference attended by Adolf Hitler on 20th July, 1944. It was decided to drop plans to kill Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler at the same time. Stauffenberg, who had never met Hitler before, carried the bomb in a briefcase and placed it on the floor while he left to make a phone-call. The bomb exploded killing four men in the hut. Hitler's right arm was badly injured but he survived the bomb blast.

Albrecht Haushofer immediately went into hiding but was arrested by the Gestapo on 7th December 1944. He was taken to Moabit Prison in the Lehrterstrasse, Berlin. For the next few weeks Haushofer was interrogated constantly. However, unlike the other conspirators, Haushofer was not executed.

A fellow prisoner, Eberhard Bethge, later claimed that this was because Hitler had the "intention to make use of Haushofer at a later date." Hitler and Himmler were both still hoping that they could use Haushofer to negotiate a peace deal with Britain and the United States. Haushofer was given special privileges and during this period he wrote what became known as the Moabite Sonnets.

Irmegard Schnuhr approached Karl Haushofer about the possibility of using his influence to get his son released from prison. He replied: "Why should I do that? He has betrayed his country and his people and deserves no help from me."

In February 1945, Heinrich Himmler explored the possibility of doing a deal that involved capitulating to the Western Allies but not to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill and Harry Truman considered this offer but with the Red Army advancing on Berlin, it was not a realistic option. On 21st April 1945, Himmler instructed Heinrich Mueller to execute Albrecht Haushofer. This was carried out two days later.

It was decided not to prosecute Karl Haushofer at Nuremberg because it was decided that his role had only been "academic and advisory". On 11th March 1946, Karl and his wife committed suicide.

 

Albrecht Haushofer

 

Albrecht Haushofer, the son of Karl Haushofer, was born in Munich on 7th January, 1903. His mother, Martha Mayer Doss, was the daughter of aJewish merchant from Mannheim.

Albrecht studied at Munich University under his father, who taught geopolitics. Karl Haushofer developed the theory that the state is a biological organism which grows or contracts, and that in the struggle for space the strong countries take land from the weak.

A fellow student was Rudolf Hess, who became a leading figure in theNational Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Hess wrote a prize-winning essay: How Must the Man be Constructed who will lead Germany back to her Old Heights? It included the following passage: "When necessity commands, he does not shrink from bloodshed... In order to reach his goal, he is prepared to trample on his closest friends."

In 1920 Rudolf Hess heard Adolf Hitler speak at a political meeting. Hess remarked: "Was this man a fool or was he the man who would save all Germany." Hess was one of the first people to join theNational Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and soon became a devoted follower and intimate friend of Hitler, who was also influenced by the teachings of Karl Haushofer.

In November, 1923, Rudolf Hess took part in the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Hess escaped and sought the help of Karl Haushofer. For a while he lived in Haushofer's home, Hartschimmelhof, in the Bavarian Alps. Later he was helped to escape to Austria. Hess was eventually arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison. While in Landsberg he helped Adolf Hitler write My Struggle (Mein Kampf). According to James Douglas-Hamilton (Motive for a Mission) Haushofer provided "Hitler with a formula and certain well-turned phrases which could be adapted, and which at a later stage suited the Nazis perfectly".

Albrecht Haushofer visited Rudolf Hess and Adolf Hitler in Landsberg Prison. After leaving universityAlbrecht became Secretary General of Germany's Society for Geography, and later editor of thePeriodical of the Society of Geography. He also taught political geography in Berlin.

In 1931, Hess asked Haushofer to become his advisor on foreign affairs. He accepted the position but did not play an active role in the Nazi Party. Haushofer believed that it was vitally important that Germany avoided becoming involved in a European war. He wrote: "The peoples of Europe are in a position in which they have to get on together lest they all perish; and although one realises that it is not commonsense but emotional urges which govern the world, one must try to control such urges."

 

Albrecht Haushofer with Sven Hedin of Sweden

 

Rudolf Hess gradually worked his way up the Nazi hierarchy and in December 1932 Adolf Hitlerappointed him head of the Central Political Committee and deputy leader of the party and minister without portfolio. As a result Haushofer became an important figure in Hitler's government.

Although Adolf Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

After the 1933 General Election Hitler proposed an Enabling Bill that would give him dictatorial powers. Such an act needed three-quarters of the members of the Reichstag to vote in its favour.

All the active members of the Communist Party, were in concentration camps, in hiding, or had left the country (an estimated 60,000 people left Germany during the first few weeks after the election). This was also true of most of the leaders of the other left-wing party, Social Democrat Party (SDP). However, Hitler still needed the support of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP) to pass this legislation. Hitler therefore offered the BVP a deal: vote for the bill and the Nazi government would guarantee the rights of the Catholic Church. The BVP agreed and when the vote was taken, only 94 members of the SDP voted against the Enabling Bill.

Adolf Hitler was now dictator of Germany. His first move was to take over the trade unions. Its leaders were sent to concentration camps and the organization was put under the control of the Nazi Party. The trade union movement now became known as the Labour Front.

Once in power Hitler began to express anti-Semitic ideas. Based on his readings of how blacks were denied civil rights in the southern states in America, Hitler attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews in Germany that they would emigrate. The campaign started on 1st April, 1933, when a one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops took place. Members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) picketed the shops to ensure the boycott was successful.

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport.

Germans were also encouraged not to use Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jewish civil servants, teachers and those employed by the mass media were sacked. On 7th April 1933 the Nazi government passed the Civil Service Laws which excluded those of non-Aryan origin from public office within the Reich.

Albrecht Haushofer now became a second-class citizen because of his mother's Jewish father. However, in June 1933, Rudolf Hess intervened personally and issued a protective letter to Haushofer.Now an "honorary Aryan" this enabled him to continue working for the Nazi government.

Haushofer had serious doubts about continuing to work for the Nazi regime. He wrote to his parents on 27th July: "I sometimes ask myself how long we shall be able to carry the responsibility, which we bear and which gradually begins to turn into historical guilt or, at least, into complicity."

Adolf Hitler knew that both France and Britain were militarily stronger than Germany. However, he became convinced that they were unwilling to go to war. He therefore decided to break another aspect of the Treaty of Versailles by sending German troops into the Rhineland. Haushofer wrote a report warning of the dangers of expanding the Third Reich through the use of armed force.

The German generals were also against the plan, claiming that the French Army would win a victory in the military conflict that was bound to follow this action. Adolf Hitler ignored their advice and on 1st March, 1936, three German battalions marched into the Rhineland. The French government was horrified to find German troops on their border but were unwilling to take action without the support of the British. The British government argued against going to war over the issue and justified its position by claiming that "Germany was only marching into its own back yard." Hitler's gamble had come off and, full of confidence, he began to make plans to make Austria part of Germany (Anschluss).

In 1936 Albrecht Haushofer was sent by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's foreign minister, on a mission to Japan. The following year, Ribbentrop was given a similar task in China. Haushofer's reports argued that Ribbentrop should preach moderation to the Japanese.

Haushofer also attended the Olympic Games in Berlin in August 1936 and made contact with several members of the House of Commons including Douglas Douglas-HamiltonKenneth Lindsay and Jim Wedderburn. On 13th August, 1936, Albrecht Haushofer introduced Douglas-Hamilton to Herman Goering and General Erhard Milch, Chief of Staff of the German Air Force. During their discussion Milch told Douglas-Hamilton: "I feel we have a common enemy in Bolshevism."

In early 1937 Douglas Douglas-Hamilton wrote to Haushofer suggesting getting together. This took place on 23rd January, in Munich. His father, Karl Haushofer, also attended the meeting where they discussed the political situation. Haushofer told Douglas-Hamilton that "Hitler understands Churchill, but he will never understand Chamberlain."

In April 1938 Haushofer visited Britain and stayed with Douglas-Hamilton at his home Dungavel House in Scotland. Douglas-Hamilton attempted to arrange for Haushofer to meet with Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary. However, Halifax was unavailable as he was on a visit to France.

On 26th June, 1938, Haushofer sent a report of his meetings with British politicians to Joachim von Ribbentrop stating that: "Britain has still not abandoned her search for chances of a settlement with Germany... A certain measure of pro-German sentiment has not yet disappeared among the British people; the Chamberlain-Halifax government sees its own future strongly tied to the achievement of a true settlement with Rome and Berlin (with a displacement of Soviet influence in Europe.)"

Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop had become very disillusioned with Haushofer's attempts to obtain a peace agreement with Britain and in July, 1938, he ceased to work for the government. However, he remained close to Rudolf Hess and continued to meet with those sympathetic to the Nazi government.

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, met Adolf Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden in Germany. Hitler threatened to invade Czechoslovakia unless Britain supported Germany's plans to takeover the Sudetenland. After discussing the issue with the Edouard Daladier(France) and Eduard Benes (Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain informed Hitler that his proposals were unacceptable.

Hitler was in a difficult situation but he also knew that Britain and France were unwilling to go to war. He also thought it unlikely that these two countries would be keen to join up with the Soviet Union, whose communist system the western democracies hated more that Hitler's fascist dictatorship.

Benito Mussolini suggested to Hitler that one way of solving this issue was to hold a four-power conference of Germany, Britain, France and Italy. This would exclude both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and therefore increasing the possibility of reaching an agreement and undermine the solidarity that was developing against Germany.

The meeting took place in Munich on 29th September, 1938. Desperate to avoid war, and anxious to avoid an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladieragreed that Germany could have the Sudetenland. In return, Hitler promised not to make any further territorial demands in Europe.

On 29th September, 1938, Adolf HitlerNeville ChamberlainEdouard Daladier and Benito Mussolinisigned the Munich Agreement which transferred the Sudetenland to Germany. When Eduard Benes, protested at this decision, Chamberlain told him that Britain would be unwilling to go to war over the issue of the Sudetenland.

The German Army marched into the Sudetenland on 1st October, 1938. As this area contained nearly all Czechoslovakia's mountain fortifications, she was no longer able to defend herself against further aggression.

From their meetings with Neville Chamberlain, the Nazi government had discovered that he would do anything to avoid military conflict. Chamberlain was aware of the appalling destruction that would take place during a modern war. He also feared that a large-scale war in Western Europe would weaken the countries involved to the point where they would be vulnerable to a communist takeover. Adolf Hitlertold Albrecht Haushofer: "This fellow Chamberlain shook with fear when I uttered the word war. Don't tell me he is dangerous."

The pressure on Jews to leave Germany intensified. Adolf HitlerJoseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich organized a new programme designed to encourage Jews to emigrate. Crystal Night took place on 9th-10th November, 1938. Presented as a spontaneous reaction of the German people to the news that the German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, had been murdered by Herschel Grynszpan, a youngJewish refugee in Paris, the whole event was in fact organized by the NSDAP.

During Crystal Night over 7,500 Jewish shops were destroyed and 400 synagogues were burnt down. Ninety-one Jews were killed and an estimated 20,000 were sent to concentration camps. Up until this time these camps had been mainly for political prisoners. The only people who were punished for the crimes committed on Crystal Night were members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) who had raped Jewish women (they had broken the Nuremberg Laws on sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews).

Albrecht Haushofer told his friend Fritz Hesse that "Hitler is now convinced that he can afford to do anything. Formerly he believed that we must have the maximum armaments because of the warlike menaces of the Powers striving to encircle us, but now he thinks that these Powers will crawl on all fours before him!" Haushofer added: "It's true that Hitler does not want war, but he is ready to risk it, and this, in my opinion, is a guarantee of disaster... We shall probably slither into the catastrophe we thought we had averted."

Haushofer continued to work behind the scenes in an attempt to persuade the British to accept a peace agreement. On 16th July, 1939, Haushofer wrote again to Douglas Douglas-Hamiltonsuggesting a way to avoid a war. Haushofer showed this letter to several members of the government including Winston Churchill. He replied that it was too late and that a war with Germany was inevitable.

In August 1939, a group of concentration camp prisoners were dressed in Polish uniforms, shot and then placed just inside the German border. Hitler claimed that Poland was attempting to invade Germany. On 1st September, 1939, the German Army was ordered into Poland.

Hitler, who wanted a series of localized wars, was surprised when Neville Chamberlain declared war onGermany. Even after it happened he found it difficult to believe that during the first few months of the war he genuinely believed that Britain would still negotiate a peace settlement.

In 1940 Albrecht Haushofer gave up his job as Secretary-General of the Berlin Society for Geography but continued teaching at the University of Berlin. According to his friend, Fritz Hesse: "Haushofer called Hitler and his circle scum, his collaborators gangsters."

On 8th September, 1940, Albrecht Haushofer, wrote to the Duke of Hamilton: "You... may find some significance in the fact that I am able to ask you whether you could find time to have a talk to me somewhere on the outskirts of Europe, perhaps in Portugal." Haushofer also referred to people who the German government believed wanted an "German-English agreement." This included Samuel Hoareand Rab Butler.

Two days later, Haushofer sent a letter to his father, Karl Haushofer. The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. Karl talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (head of the British Legion), the Duke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. The Roberts were very close to Stewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place.

On 19th September, 1940, Haushofer wrote to Rudolf Hess about his letter to the Duke of Hamilton. He explained that Hamilton would find it difficult to fly to Portugal without the permission of Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary and Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air. Haushofer suggested that it would probably be better to work through Samuel Hoare but planned to send the letter via an old friend.

The letter was intercepted by MI5 and Hamilton was persuaded to work as a double-agent. Hamilton agreed to go to Lisbon to meet Haushofer. Colonel Tar Robertson, head of MI5's double agent section, wrote in April 1941: "Hamilton at the beginning of the war and still is a member of the community which sincerely believes that Great Britain will be willing to make peace with Germany provided the present regime in Germany were superseded by some reasonable form of government... He is a slow-witted man, but at the same time he gets there in the end; and I feel that if he is properly schooled before leaving for Lisbon he could do a very useful job of work."

In 1959, Heinrich Stahmer, Albrecht Haushofer’s agent in Spain, claimed that meetings betweenSamuel HoareLord Halifax and Rudolf Hess took place in Spain and Portugal between February and April 1941. The Vichy press reported that Hess was in Spain on the weekend of 20/22 of April 1941. The correspondence between British Embassies and the Foreign Office are routinely released to the Public Record Office. However, all documents relating to the weekend of 20/22 April, 1941 at the Madrid Embassy are being held back and will not be released until 2017.

Karl Haushofer was arrested and interrogated by the Allies after the war. The British government has never released the documents that include details of these interviews. However, these interviews are in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) archive. Karl told his interviewers that Germany was involved in peace negotiations with Britain in 1940-41. In 1941 Albrecht was sent to Switzerland to meet Samuel Hoare (Lord Templewood) the British ambassador to Spain. This peace proposal included a willingness to “relinquish Norway, Denmark and France”. Karl goes onto say: “A larger meeting was to be held in Madrid. When my son returned, he was immediately called to Augsburg by Hess. A few days later Hess flew to England.”

On 10th May, 1941, Rudolf Hess flew a Me 110 to Scotland. When he parachuted to the ground he was captured by David McLean, of the Home Guard. He asked to be taken to Duke of Hamilton, the “middleman” mentioned in the earlier letter. In fact, Hamilton lived close to where Hess landed (Dungavel House). If Hamilton was the “middleman” who was he acting for. Was it George VI orWinston Churchill? Shortly afterwards Sergeant Daniel McBride and Emyr Morris, reached the scene and took control of the prisoner. Hess’s first words to them were: “Are you friends of the Duke of Hamilton? I have an important message for him.”

Continued

After the war Daniel McBride attempted to tell his story of what had happened when he captured Hess. This story originally appeared in the Hongkong Telegraph (6th March, 1947). “The purpose of the former Deputy Fuhrer’s visit to Britain is still a mystery to the general public, but I can say, and with confidence too, that high-ranking Government officials were aware of his coming.” The reason that McBride gives for this opinion is that: “No air-raid warning was given that night, although the plane must have been distinguished during his flight over the city of Glasgow. Nor was the plane plotted at the anti-aircraft control room for the west of Scotland.” McBride concludes from this evidence that someone with great power ordered that Hess should be allowed to land in Scotland. This story was picked up by the German press but went unreported in the rest of the world.

According to Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Scott, Rudolf Hess had told one of his guards that “members of the government” had known about his proposed trip to Scotland. Hess also asked to see George VIas he had been assured before he left Nazi Germany that he had the “King’s protection”. The authors of Double Standards, believe the Duke of Kent, the Duke of HamiltonSamuel Hoare and Lord Halifax, were all working for the king in their efforts to negotiate with Adolf Hitler.

Karlheinz Pintsch, Hess adjutant, was given the task of informing Hitler about the flight to Scotland.James Leasor found him alive in 1955 and used him as a major source for his book, The Uninvited Envoy. Pintsch told Leasor of Hitler’s response to this news. He did not seem surprised, nor did he rant and rave about what Hess had done. Instead, he replied calmly, “At this particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous escapade.”

Adolf Hitler then went onto read the letter that Rudolf Hess had sent him. He read the following significant passage out aloud. “And if this project… ends in failure… it will always be possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my mind.” Of course, that is what both Hitler and Churchill did later on. However, at the time, Hitler at least, still believed that a negotiated agreement was possible.

The following day Adolf Hitler knew that Winston Churchill had refused to do a deal and then the cover-up began. Pintsch was now a dangerous witness and he was arrested and was kept in solitary confinement until being sent to the Eastern Front in 1944. He was captured by the Soviets and kept alive until being released in 1955. (James Leasor, The Uninvited Envoy, page 69).

Adolf Hitler now issued a statement pointing out that "Hess did not fly in my name." Albert Speer, who was with Hitler when he heard the news, later reported that "what bothered him was the Churchill might use the incident to pretend to Germany's allies that Hitler was extending a peace feeler."

According to his friend, Rainer Hildebrandt, Haushofer became very distressed when he discovered that the Hess peace initiative had ended in failure. As Haushofer knew the true details of the operation, he feared for his life and expected the same fate as Karlheinz Pintsch. He was right, and on 11th May, 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered the arrest of Haushofer.

The following day he was taken to Berchtesgaden and ordered to write a full report on what he knew about the reasons for Rudolf Hess flying to Scotland. Haushofer also outlined his contacts with people like the Duke of HamiltonSamuel Hoare (Viscount Templewood), Lord Halifax and Alec Douglas-Home (Lord Dunglass) during these peace negotiations.

After reading Haushofer's report Hitler ordered that he should be sent to the Prince Albrecht Strasse Gestapo Prison in Berlin to be interrogated by Heinrich Mueller, the head of the Gestapo. Haushofer was released in July 1941. The reason for this is that Hitler believed that Haushofer could still play a key role in any future peace negotiations with Britain. Haushofer was kept under surveillance andMartin Bormann sent a letter to important figures in the media that: "Professor Albrecht Haushofer should no longer be given any publicity".

Irmegard Schnuhr, one of Haushofer's favourite students, was recruited by Heinrich Mueller to spy on him. However, she remained loyal to her tutor and only gave the Gestapo information that was first cleared by Haushofer. However, she was not the only spy used and it soon became clear that Haushofer was in contact with other opponents of the Nazi government including Ulrich von Hassell,Ludwig BeckHelmuth von MoltkePeter von Wartenburg and Carl Goerdeler.

On Sunday, 7th December, 1941, 105 high-level bombers, 135 dive-bombers and 81 fighter aircraft attacked the the US Fleet at Pearl Harbor. In two hours 18 warships, 188 aircraft and 2,403 servicemen were lost in the attack. Luckily, the navy's three aircraft carriers, EnterpriseLexington andSaratoga, were all at sea at the time. The following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a united US Congress declared war on Japan.

Soon afterwards, Irmegard Schnuhr was summoned by Adolf Hitler and asked her to discover what Haushofer's views were on the possibility of negotiating a peace with Britain. Haushofer told Schnuhr that Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, would make it impossible for any negotiations to get off the ground. Hitler replied that it "would be easy to sack Ribbentrop" if the British first sacked their Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden.

Irmegard Schnuhr was married to a senior figure in the Schutzstaffel (SS). In April 1942 she discovered that Richard Heydrich was plotting against Heinrich Himmler. Schnuhr gave this information to Haushofer who passed it onto Himmler via Carl Langbehn. Before any action could be taken against Heydrich he was assassinated by members of the Free Czechoslovak Forces.

A group of anti-Nazis, including Claus von StauffenbergWilhelm CanarisCarl GoerdelerJulius Leber,Ulrich HassellHans OsterPeter von WartenburgHenning von TresckowFriedrich OlbrichtWerner von HaeftenFabian SchlabrendorffLudwig Beck and Erwin von Witzleben decided to assassinateAdolf Hitler (the July Plot). Haushofer was opposed to any attempt on Hitler's life because he did not believe it would bring an end to the war.

At least six attempts were aborted before Claus von Stauffenberg decided on trying again during a conference attended by Adolf Hitler on 20th July, 1944. It was decided to drop plans to kill Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler at the same time. Stauffenberg, who had never met Hitler before, carried the bomb in a briefcase and placed it on the floor while he left to make a phone-call. The bomb exploded killing four men in the hut. Hitler's right arm was badly injured but he survived the bomb blast.

Albrecht Haushofer immediately went into hiding but was arrested by the Gestapo on 7th December 1944. He was taken to Moabit Prison in the Lehrterstrasse, Berlin. For the next few weeks Haushofer was interrogated constantly. However, unlike the other conspirators, Haushofer was not executed.

A fellow prisoner, Eberhard Bethge, later claimed that this was because Hitler had the "intention to make use of Haushofer at a later date." Hitler and Himmler were both still hoping that they could use Haushofer to negotiate a peace deal with Britain and the United States. Haushofer was given special privileges and during this period he wrote what became known as the Moabite Sonnets.

Irmegard Schnuhr approached Karl Haushofer about the possibility of using his influence to get his son released from prison. He replied: "Why should I do that? He has betrayed his country and his people and deserves no help from me."

In February 1945, Heinrich Himmler explored the possibility of doing a deal that involved capitulating to the Western Allies but not to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill and Harry Truman considered this offer but with the Red Army advancing on Berlin, it was not a realistic option. On 21st April 1945, Himmler instructed Heinrich Mueller to execute Albrecht Haushofer. This was carried out two days later.

It was decided not to prosecute Karl Haushofer at Nuremberg because it was decided that his role had only been "academic and advisory". On 11th March 1946, Karl and his wife committed suicide.

 

Heinrich Mueller

 

Heinrich Mueller, the son of poor Catholic parents, was born in Germany on 28th April, 1901. He fought in the First World War where he won an Iron Cross while fighting against the Russian Army on the Eastern Front.

After the war Mueller joined the Bavarian police where he specialized in collecting information about members of the German Communist Party. A supporter of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), he was recruited by Reinhard Heydrich in 1934 to take over the running of theGestapo.

In 1939 Mueller was put in charge of the Secret Political Police. This involved tracking down potential opponents including socialists, communists, liberals and Jews.

After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich Mueller worked closely with his replacement, Ernst Kaltenbrunner. He also played an important role under Adolf Eichmann in the Final Solution.

When it became clear that Germany would lose the Second World War Mueller began to plan his escape. Heinrich Mueller disappeared in April, 1945, and was never brought to justice.

Ulrich von Hassell

 

Ulrich von Hassell was born in Anklam, Germany, on 12th November, 1881. After studying law he entered the Foreign Office in 1908. Married to the daughter of Alfred von Tirpitz, Hassell was Counsul-General in Barcelona (1921-26), Ambassador in Copenhagen (1926-30) and Ambassador in Belgrade (1930-32).

In 1932 Hassell was appointed Ambassador to Rome. Initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler Hassell became increasingly critical of his aggressive foreign policies and in 1938 was sacked by Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Hassell became an active opponent of the Nazi government and joined forces with Ludwig Beck and Carl Goerdeler.

During the Second World War he tried to recruit leading generals such as Franz HalderErich Fromm and Erwin Rommel to the idea of a negotiated peace with the Allies. Later he tried to persuade them to carry out a military coup.

In April 1942 he was warned by Ernst Weiszacker, State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, that he was under investigation by the Gestapo. However, he ignored this warning and continued to conspire against Adolf Hitler.

Hassell was arrested by the police following the July Plot. He was convicted of high treason and executed on 8th September, 1944. After the war his diaries were found buried in the garden and published as The Other Germany: Diaries 1938-1944 (1947).

Ludwig Beck

 

Ludwig Beck was born in Biebrich, Germany, on 29th June, 1880. He joined the German Army and by 1933 became Adjutant General of the army. Two years later he was promoted chief of general staff.

Beck opposed attempts by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to takeover the army. In 1938 he sent an emissary to London in an attempt to get Neville Chamberlain to promise military action if Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

When Adolf Hitler discovered that Beck as plotting against the regime and he was removed from office. Replaced by Franz Halder, Beck continued to work closely with other opponents of Hitler including Carl GoerdelerWilhelm CanarisHans Oster and Ulrich Hassell.

In the early months of 1944 Beck approached Erwin Rommel about joining the July Plot. Rommel refused, criticizing the tactic of assassination claiming that it would turn Adolf Hitler into a martyr. Instead he suggested that he should be arrested and brought to trial.

Suspected in being involved in the July Plot, Beck was arrested by on 20th July, 1944. General Erich Frommtook him into custody and demanded that he commit suicide. He succeeded only in severely wounding himself and a sergeant finished the job by shooting him in the back of the neck.

Helmuth von Moltke

 

Helmuth von Moltke was born in Kreisau, Germany in 1907. He became an international lawyer and had many friends in Britain and the United States.

Moltke was opposed to Adolf Hitler and his government and in 1933 began making contacts with the resistance in Nazi Germany.

In 1939 Moltke became a legal adviser to Abwehr where he worked closely with Wilhelm Canaris and Hans Oster. He was detained by the Gestapo in January 1944 after it was discovered that he was warning conspirators that they were about to be arrested.

After the July Plot Moltke was charged with treason and was executed at Ploetzensee Prison on 23rd January, 1945.

Carl Goerdeler

 

Carl Goerdeler, the son of a Prussian district judge, was born in Schneidemuell on 31st July 1884. After studying law he became a local civil servant.

In 1930 Goerdeler became mayor of Leipzig. He also became price commissioner in the government ofHeinrich Brüning and remained in office when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Goerdeler resigned in 1934 after disagreement with Hitler over his policies.

Goerdeler publically opposed German rearmament and the Nuremberg Laws. As mayor of Leipzig he refused to pull down the statue of the Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn or to fly the swastika flag over the city hall.

Goerdeler resigned as mayor of Leipzig in 1937 and spent the next two years travelling around Europe as overseas representative of the Bosche company. In 1938 he met Winston Churchill and other important political figures in Britain and France. Goerdeler provided information about Nazi Germany and encouraged governments not to make too many concessions to Hitler. He was appalled by the Munich Agreementwhich he saw as "out-and-out capitulation" and claimed that it would lead to a war in Europe.

During the Second World War Goerdeler advocated a negotiated peace with the Allies. However, he was deeply disappointed when his political contacts in Britain told him that the war would only come to an end if Germany unconditionally surrendered.

By 1940 Goerdeler had become convinced that only the German armed forces could overthrow Hitler. He made contact with Ludwig Beckbut they were unable to find enough senior military leaders to take part in a coup.

In 1944 Goerdeler became involved in the July Plot and he agreed to become chancellor after Hitler's assassination. On 18th July, 1944, Goerdeler was warned that the Gestapo had discovered that he was involved in a conspiracy to kill Hitler. He went into hiding but was arrested the following month on 12th August. Carl Goerdeler was interrogated and tortured for five months before being executed on 2nd February, 1945.

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton

 

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, the son of 13th Duke of Hamilton, was born in 1903. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. a talented boxer he won the Scottish Amateur Middleweight title.

Douglas-Hamilton (the Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale) joined the Royal Air Force and in 1927 he became commander of the 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron.

A member of the Conservative Party Douglas-Hamilton was elected to the House of Commons in 1930 as the representative for East Renfrewshire. In 1933 he was chief pilot on the first flight over Mount Everest. In recognition of his role in the expedition, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross in 1935.

Douglas-Hamilton was sympathetic to neo-fascist groups like the Nordic League and the Right Club.This activity was monitored by MI5 and it was reported that he had "many Nazi contacts in this country". This included Archibald RamsayLord Redesdale5th Duke of WellingtonDuke of Westminster and the Marquess of Graham.

Albrecht Haushofer, who worked for the German Foreign Office, attended the Olympic Games in Berlin in August 1936 and made contact with several members of the House of Commons including Douglas-Hamilton, Kenneth Lindsay and Jim Wedderburn.

On 13th August, 1936, Albrecht Haushofer introduced Douglas-Hamilton to Herman Goering and General Erhard Milch, Chief of Staff of the German Air Force. During their discussion Milch told Douglas-Hamilton: "I feel we have a common enemy in Bolshevism."

In early 1937 Douglas-Hamilton wrote to Albrecht Haushofer suggesting getting together. This took place on 23rd January, in Munich. His father, Karl Haushofer, also attended the meeting where they discussed the political situation. Haushofer told Douglas-Hamilton that "Hitler understands Churchill, but he will never understand Chamberlain."

In April 1938 Haushofer visited Britain and stayed with Douglas-Hamilton at his home Dungavel House in Scotland. Douglas-Hamilton attempted to arrange for Haushofer to meet with Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary. However, Halifax was unavailable as he was on a visit to France.

On 26th June, 1938, Haushofter sent a report of his meetings with British politicians to Joachim von Ribbentrop stating that: "Britain has still not abandoned her search for chances of a settlement with Germany... A certain measure of pro-German sentiment has not yet disappeared among the British people; the Chamberlain-Halifax government sees its own future strongly tied to the achievement of a true settlement with Rome and Berlin (with a displacement of Soviet influence in Europe.)"

Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop had become very disillusioned with Haushofer's attempts to obtain a peace agreement with Britain and in July, 1938, he ceased to work for the government. However, he remained close to Rudolf Hess and continued to meet with those sympathetic to the Nazi government.

Albrecht Haushofer told his friend Fritz Hesse that "Hitler is now convinced that he can afford to do anything. Formerly he believed that we must have the maximum armaments because of the warlike menaces of the Powers striving to encircle us, but now he thinks that these Powers will crawl on all fours before him!" Haushofer added: "It's true that Hitler does not want war, but he is ready to risk it, and this, in my opinion, is a guarantee of disaster... We shall probably slither into the catastrophe we thought we had averted."

Haushofer continued to work behind the scenes in an attempt to persuade the British to accept a peace agreement. On 16th July, 1939, Haushofer wrote again to Douglas-Hamilton suggesting a way to avoid a war. Haushofer showed this letter to several members of the government including Winston Churchill. He replied that it was too late and that a war with Germany was inevitable.

In August 1939, a group of concentration camp prisoners were dressed in Polish uniforms, shot and then placed just inside the German border. Hitler claimed that Poland was attempting to invade Germany. On 1st September, 1939, the German Army was ordered into Poland.

Hitler, who wanted a series of localized wars, was surprised when Neville Chamberlain declared war onGermany. Even after it happened he found it difficult to believe that during the first few months of the war he genuinely believed that Britain would still negotiate a peace settlement.

On the outbreak of the Second World War re-enlisted and was given the rank of Air Commodore, he was responsible for air defence in Scotland and took command of the Air Training Corps.

Douglas Hamilton became the 14th Duke of Hamilton when his father died in 1940. On 8th September, 1940, Albrecht Haushofer wrote to Hamilton: "You... may find some significance in the fact that I am able to ask you whether you could find time to have a talk to me somewhere on the outskirts of Europe, perhaps in Portugal." Haushofer also refered to people who the German government believed wanted an "German-English agreement." This included Samuel Hoare and Rab Butler.

On 19th September, 1940, Haushofer wrote to Rudolf Hess about his letter to the Duke of Hamilton. He explained that Hamilton would find it difficult to fly to Portugal without the permission of Lord Halifax, the British Foreign Secretary and Archibald Sinclair, the Secretary of State for Air. Haushofer suggested that it would probably be better to work through Samuel Hoare but planned to send the letter via an old friend.

 

The Duke of Hamilton during the Second World War

 

The letter was intercepted by MI5 and Hamilton was persuaded to work as a double-agent. Hamilton agreed to go to Lisbon to meet Haushofer. Colonel Tar Robertson, head of MI5's double agent section, wrote in April 1941: "Hamilton at the beginning of the war and still is a member of the community which sincerely believes that Great Britain will be willing to make peace with Germany provided the present regime in Germany were superseded by some reasonable form of government... He is a slow-witted man, but at the same time he gets there in the end; and I feel that if he is properly schooled before leaving for Lisbon he could do a very useful job of work."

Robertson wanted Hamilton to extract "a good deal of information from Haushofer about how Germany is weathering the war". Another MI5 agent wrote that "presumably one fine day we shall be willing to listen to peace moves and I see no reason why we should not get advance knowledge if possible." However, before Hamilton's trip to Portugal could take place, Hess decided to fly a Me 110 to Scotlandwith the intention of having a meeting Hamilton. On 10th May, 1941, Hess arrived in Scotland. Hess hoped that Hamilton would arrange for him to meet George VI. Hess believed he could persuade the king to sack Winston Churchill and to make peace with Germany in order to join forces against theSoviet Union.

When he heard the news Adolf Hitler was quick to issue a statement pointing out that "Hess did not fly in my name." Albert Speer, who was with Hitler when he heard the news, later reported that "what bothered him was the Churchill might use the incident to pretend to Germany's allies that Hitler was extending a peace feeler."

Hess was kept in the Tower of London until being sent to face charges at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. He was found guilty of actively supporting preparations for war and in participating in the aggression against Czechoslovakia and Poland.

After the war Hamilton was Chancellor of the University of St Andrews (1948- 1973) and President of the Air League (1959-1968). He was also director of Scottish Aviation, president of the Building Societies Association and chairman of Norwich Union Life and Fire Insurance Society.

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton died in 1973.

 

Martin Bormann

 

Martin Bormann was born in Halberstadt, Germany, on 17th June, 1900. He dropped out of college and worked on a farm before joining the German Armyduring the last few months of the First World War.

After the war he joined the Rossbach Freikorps where he fought with Rudolf Höss. He joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and in 1923 was found guilty with Höss of murdering Walter Kadow, who had been accused of betraying saboteur Albert Leo Schlageter. However, he only spent a year in prison.

Bormann joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1927. Without any obvious talents he rose steadily in the Nazi hierarchy. He became party treasurer after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 he appointed Bormann as national organizer of the party.

In 1942 Bormann became Hitler's secretary and was given the post of deputy fuehrer. Bormann controlled all the papers Hitler saw and in this way he had a growing influence on government policy. He also sometimes blocked Joseph GoebbelsHermann GoeringHeinrich Himmler andAlbert Speer from seeing Hitler. Rarely leaving headquarters his judgements were invariably wrong during the final stages of the war.

When it became clear that Germany would lose the Second World War Bormann attempted to break through the lines of the Red Army. After the war several witnesses claimed they saw him killed by a Russian tank. Others said he took cyanide while standing on a bridge in Berlin. However rumours circulated that Bormann had managed to escape to South America. A skeleton found in Berlin on 8th December 1972 has officially been identified as Bormann.

Joseph Goebbels

 

Joseph Goebbels was born in Rheydt, Germany, on 29th October, 1897. A good student he won a Catholic scholarship and eventually achieved a PhD from Heidelberg University.

Goebbels was under five feet tall with a bad limp caused by a bone operation as a child and in 1914 was rejected by the German Army. It was later claimed that he spent the next two days crying hysterically in his room.

Goebbels spent the next ten years writing novels, plays and poems. When he failed to find a publisher for his work he developed the theory that this was because the publishing companies were owned by Jews. He was also rejected as a reporter by the newspaper Berliner Tageblatt.

Goebbels joined the National Socialist German Workers Party(NSDAP) in 1926. Goebbels described one of their first meetings with Adolf Hitler in his diary: "Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king."

Hitler admired Goebbels' abilities as a writer and speaker. They shared an interest in propaganda and together they planned how the NSDAP would win the support of the German people. He edited Der Angriff (The Attack) and used the daily newspaper to promote the idea of German nationalism.

In 1928 Goebbels, Hermann Goering and ten other members of the Nazi Party were elected to theReichstag. Soon afterwards Goebbels became the party's Propaganda Leader.

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, he appointed Goebbels as Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels was under five feet tall with a bad limp caused by a bone operation as a child. Congenital birth defects was a disqualification for high office and so he told people his limp was the result of a wound suffered while fighting in the First World War.

 

H. Dobhenysk, A Pure-Blooded Aryan, Chicago Daily News (1937)

 

During the Second World War Goebbels played an important role in building up hatred for the allies. He had little confidence in the abilities of other ministers in the government and made attempts to haveJoachim von Ribbentrop dismissed from office.

When the Red Army made advances into Nazi Germany, Hitler invited Goebbels and his family to move into his Fuehrerbunker. On 1st May, 1945, Joseph Goebbels, his wife and six children, committed suicide.

 

Albert Speer

 

Albert Speer, the son of an architect, was born in Mannheim on 19th March, 1905. After studying architecture at the Munich Institute of Technology and at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Institute, he became an architect in 1927.

In 1932 Speer joined the National Socialist German Workers Party(NSDAP) and shortly afterwards became a member of the Schutz Staffeinel (SS)Adolf Hitler met Speer in July 1933 and gave him the task of organizing the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.

Hitler was impressed by Speer's achievements and commissioned the design of the German exhibit at the Paris Exhibition in 1937, the Reich Chancellery in Berlin and the Party Palace in Nuremberg.

In February, 1942, Adolf Hitler appointed Speer as Minister of Armaments. A good administrator, Speer considerably raised production levels of armaments. Working closely with Karl DoenitzSpeer was able to announce that Germany was producing 42 U-boats a month by 1945.

Speer clashed with Heinrich Himmler arguing that concentration camp factories were inefficient and preferred using paid labour in occupied countries. He later claimed that he saved lives because of this policy but his opponents pointed out that this policy had more to do with efficiency than morality.

At the end of the Second World War Speer was arrested and was charged with using slave labour in his production programmes. Speer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twenty five years in prison.

After being released from Spandau Prison in 1966, Speer published his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976). Albert Speer died in 1981.

Joachim von Ribbentrop

 

Joachim von Ribbentrop, the son of a German Army officer, was born in Wesel, Germany, on 30th April, 1893. Educated at a boarding school at Switzerland he also spent time in France and England as a child.

In 1911 he began working as clerk with a German importing form based in London before moving to Canada where he worked as a timekeeper on the reconstruction of the Quebec Bridge and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. This was followed by employment as a journalist in New York City and Boston.

On the outbreak of the First World War Ribbentrop returned to Germany where he joined the German Army. While serving with the 125th Hussar Regiment he won the Iron Cross. After being seriously wounded in 1917 Ribbentrop joined the War Ministry and was a member of the German delegation that attended the Paris Peace Conference.

After leaving the German Army Ribbentrop worked as a salesman for the French firm of Pommerey in theRhineland. He later became a partner in a Berlin sales agency.

In May 1932 Ribbentrop joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). He quickly moved up the hierarchy and in 1933 became Hitler's foreign affairs adviser. The following year he established the Ribbentrop Bureau an organization that eventually had a staff of 300 people.

Adolf Hitler appointed Ribbentrop as the ambassador to London in August, 1936. His main objective was to persuade the British government not to get involved in Germany territorial disputes and to work together against the the communist government in the Soviet Union.

When Ribbentrop presented his credentials to George VI on 5th February, 1937, the British were outraged when he gave the Hitler salute. He also upset the British government by posting Schutz Staffeinel (SS) guards outside the German Embassy and by flying swastika flags on official cars.

On 4th February, 1938, Ribbentrop replaced Constantin von Neurath as Germany's foreign minister. He worked closely with Adolf Hitler in his negotiations with the British and French governments and in August 1939 arranged the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

In 1940 Hitler once again began to consider invading the Soviet Union and he sent Ribbentrop to negotiate a new treaty with Japan. On 25th September, 1940, Ribbentrop sent a telegram to Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, informing him that Germany, Italy and Japan were about to sign a military alliance. Ribbentrop pointed out that the alliance was to be directed towards the United States and not the Soviet Union.

Molotov already knew about the proposed German-Japanese PactRichard Sorge, a German journalist working in Tokyo, was a Soviet spy and had already told Molotov that Adolf Hitler was involved in negotiations with Japan. In Sorge's view, the pact was directed against the Soviet Union but it was not until December, 1940, that he was able to send Molotov full details of Operation Barbarossa.

Rippentrop became a background figure during the Second World War but was arrested and charged with war crimes in June, 1945. Joachim von Ribbentrop denied knowledge of German concentration camps and racial extermination policies, but was found guilty at theNuremberg War Crimes Trial and was executed on 16th October, 1946.

George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

George Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was born in Sandringham, Norfolk, on 14th December, 1895. George was the great-grandson of Queen Victoria and his father was George V, who became king of the United Kingdom in 1910. George's elder brother, Edward, was therefore heir to the throne. 


George was a sickly child and was often ill. He also developed an acute stammer. In 1909 he was sent to Osborne as a naval cadet but passed out bottom of his class. After attending Dartmouth he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman, but suffering bouts of acute gastritis, did not see action in the First World War until serving on HMS Collingwood at the Battle of Jutland

The outbreak of the First World War created problems for the royal family because of its German background. Owing to strong anti-German feeling in Britain, it was decided to change the name of the royal family from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. To stress his support for the British, George V made several visits to the Western Front

In 1917 George joined the Royal Naval Air Service and later the recently formed Royal Air Force(1919). However, George did not qualify as a pilot until 1919 and therefore did not take part in the highly dangerous air war

After the war George attended Trinity CollegeCambridge, but only stayed for a year. In 1920 he was created the Duke of York and carried out public duties for his father. Three years later he married Elizabeth Bowles-Lyon. The couple had two children, Elizabeth (1926) and Margaret (1930). 

George also became president of the Industrial Welfare Society. In this role he visited so many factories that he became known as the "Industrial Duke". He also made royal tours of East Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 

George's marriage had the approval of his father, George V. However, his brother, Edward, the heir to the throne, had developed a relationship with Wallis Simpson, an American woman who was married to Ernest Simpson. This was her second marriage and had divorced her first husband, E. W. Spencer in 1927. 

George V died on 20th January, 1936. Edward VIII now became king and his relationship with Wallis Simpson was reported in the foreign press. The government instructed the British press not to refer to the relationship. The prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, urged the king to consider the constitutional problems of marrying a divorced woman. 

Although Edward VIII received the political support from Winston Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook, he was aware that his decision to marry Wallis Simpson would be unpopular with the British public. The Archbishop of Canterbury also made it clear he was strongly opposed to the king's relationship. 

On 10th December, 1936, the king signed a document that stated he he had renounced "the throne for myself and my descendants." The following day he made a radio broadcast where he told the nation that he had abdicated because he found he could not "discharge the duties of king as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love." 

George now became king and the coronation took place on 12th May, 1937. Later that month, Neville Chamberlain replaced Stanley Baldwin as prime-minister. The following year Chamberlain travelled to Germany to meet Adolf Hitler in an attempt to avoid war between the two countries. The result of Chamberlain's appeasement policy was the signing of the Munich Agreement. However, after the invasion of Poland, Chamberlain was forced to declare war on Germany. 

Considered an uninspiring war leader, members of the Labour Party and Liberal Party refused to serve in his proposed National Government. Chamberlain resigned and was replaced by Winston Churchill. The king had been against Churchill's appointment but the two men eventually became close allies. Later the king wrote in his diary: "I could not have a better prime minister."

The king and queen many several tours of Britain's bombed cities during the Second World War. In September, 1940, Buckingham Palace was badly damaged during a raid. His wife, Queen Elizabeth, remarked: "I'm glad we've been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face." 

In 1943 the king flew out to North Africa to visit the troops after their victory at El Alamein. He also visited Malta and was present at discussions about the D-Day invasion. Soon after a bridgehead had been created, the king arrived in Normandy to meet the troops. 

After the war the king enjoyed a reasonable relationship with his new prime minister, Clement Attlee. He was opposed to socialism and unsuccessfully attempted to persuade him not to nationalize several of Britain's main industries. George VI died at Sandringham, Norfolk, on 6th February, 1952.

The Gestapo

When Hermann Goering became minister of the interior in Prussia in 1933 he recruited Rudolf Diels as head of Dept 1A of the Prussian State Police. Goering was impressed by Diels and made him head of what became known as the Gestapo. Others who held senior positions in the organisation included Arthur Nebe and Kurt Daluege

Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich became jealous of the power of the Gestapo and began to spread rumours about Diels's loyalty toAdolf Hitler. One of these stories claimed that Diels had joined the conspiracy being organized by Ernst Roehm. Without the support ofHermann Goering Diels would have been killed during the Night of the Long Knives.

In April 1934, Hermann Goering, under pressure from Heinrich Himmler and Wilhelm Frick, agreed to hand over control of the Gestapo to the Schutzstaffel (SS). In 1936 Himmler placed the Gestapo under the command of Reinhard Heydrich with Heinrich Muller becoming the chief of operations.

During the Second World War there were 45,000 members of the Gestapo. However, it is estimated they also employed 160,000 agents and informers.

When the German Army occupied countries they were accompanied by the Gestapo. When on foreign duties they wore civilian clothes or SS uniforms. They were responsible for rounding up communists, partisans and Jews and others who were considered to be a threat to German rule. The Gestapo quickly developed a reputation for using brutal interrogation methods in order to obtain confessions.

At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial the Gestapo was indicted for crimes against humanity. By this time most of its leaders were dead or like Heinrich Muller, had escaped capture by assuming another identity.

Claus von Stauffenberg

 

Claus von Stauffenberg was born in Jettingen, on 15th November, 1907. A bright student, at nineteen he became an officer cadet. He attended the War Academy in Berlin and joined the General Staff in 1938.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Stauffenberg joined the staff of 6th Panzer Division. DuringOperation Barbarossa Stauffenberg became appalled by the atrocities committed by the Schutz Staffeinel(SS).

In 1942 he started associating with Henning von TresckowFabin Schlabrendorff and other opponents ofAdolf Hitler. Promoted to the rank of major, he was badly injured when his staff car ran into a mine field and was attacked by enemy aircraft. Stauffenberg lost his left eye, two fingers on the left hand and his right forearm.

While recovering from his injuries Stauffenberg decided to kill Adolf Hitler and overthrow the Nazigovernment. Stauffenberg was joined by Wilhelm CanarisCarl GoerdelerJulius LeberUlrich Hassell,Hans OsterHenning von TresckowFabin SchlabrendorffPeter von WartenburgLudwig Beck, and Erwin von Witzleben in what became known as the July Plot.

After Adolf HitlerHermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler had been assassination it was planned for troops in Berlin to seize key government buildings, telephone and signal centres and radio stations.

At least six attempts were aborted before Stauffenberg decided on trying again during a conference attended by Hitler on 20th July, 1944. It was decided to drop plans to kill Goering and Himmler at the same time. Stauffenberg, who had never met Hitler before, carried the bomb in a briefcase and placed it on the floor while he left to make a phone-call. The bomb exploded killing four men in the hut. Hitler's right arm was badly injured but he survived the bomb blast.

The plan was for Ludwig BeckErwin von Witzleben and Erich Fromm to take control of the German Army. This idea was abandoned when it became known that Adolf Hitler had survived the assassination attempt. In an attempt to protect himself, Fromm organized the execution of Stauffenberg along with three other conspirators, Friedrich Olbricht and Werner von Haeften, in the courtyard of the War Ministry. It was later reported the Stauffenberg died shouting "Long live free Germany".

Julius Leber

 

Julius Leber, the son of a bricklayer, was born on 16th November, 1891. After a brief formal education he became a journalist. He developed left-wing political views and joined the Social Democratic Party in 1913.

In 1914 he joined the German Army and during the First World War was wounded twice. He was also decorated for bravery and by the end of the war he reached the rank of second lieutenant.

During the German Revolution Leber supported the rebels and helped put down the Kapp Putsch in Berlin in 1920.

Leber worked as editor of the SDP newspaper in Luebeck before being elected to the Reichstag in 1924. Over the next few years he became one of Germany's leading opponents of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor in 1933 Leber was arrested and sent to concentration camps at Esterwegen and Oranienburg as a "danger to the State". After being released in 1937 he continued to work with the resistance and joined forces with Adolf ReichweinClaus von StauffenbergHans DohnanyiHans Oster, and Carl Goerdeler in an attempt to overthrow Hitler.

On 4th July, 1944, Leber was arrested and charged with being involved in what became known as the July Plot. Although tortured for two months by the Gestapo Leber refused to confess to his involvement in the failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. Julius Leber was found guilty and executed on 5th January, 1945.

Hans Dohnanyi

 

Hans Dohnanyi, the son of an Hungarian pianist, was born in Vienna, on 1st January, 1902. After training as a lawyer he began work at the Reich Ministry of Justice in 1929.

Dohnanyi was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court and during the Second World War was employed as a special leader on the staff of the High Command of the Armed Forces under Major-GeneralHans Oster.

Appalled by the persecution of the Jews in Germany and the occupied territories he began sending details to his brother-in-law, Dietrich Bonhoffer. He also used his position as project chief at Abwehr to help some Jews escape before being sent to concentration camps.

Dohnanyi was arrested by the Gestapo on 5th April, 1943. Released for lack of evidence, he was re-arrested shortly before the July Plot. Sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Dohnanyi was murdered on 8th April, 1945.

Dietrich Bonhoffer

 

Dietrich Bonhoffer was born Breslau, Germany, on 4th February, 1906. He studied theology in Tubingen and in New York.

Bonhoffer returned to Germany and began lecturing on theology in Berlin and wrote several books including Sanctorum Communio (1927) and Act and Being(1931). As he was a strong opponent of fascism he decided to leave Germany when Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933 and found work as a pastor in London.

When he heard that Martin Niemöller and Karl Barth had formed the anti-Nazi Confessional Church Bonhoffer decided to return and join the struggle.

On the outbreak of the Second World War the Gestapo closed down Bonhoffer's seminary and banned him from preaching. Over the next few years worked closely with other opponents ofAdolf Hitler including Ludwig BeckJosef Muller and Hans Oster.

In April 1943 Bonhoffer was arrested with his brother, Klaus Bonhoffer, and brother-in-law, Hans Dohnanyi and accused of plotting against Adolf Hitler. He was held in Buchenwald Concentration Camp until being moved to Flossenburg where he was executed in April, 1945. Ethics (1949) and Letters from Prison (1953) were published posthumously.

 

Hans Oster

 

Hans Oster, the son of a Protestant clergyman, was born in Dresden, Germany on 9th August, 1904. He joined the German Army and during the First World War won several decorations for bravery.

Oster remained in the army until being dismissed after an affair with a fellow-officer's wife. He was immediately recruited by Franz Halder to join Abwehr under General Bredow. After the murder of Bredow during the Night of the Long Knives Oster became a strong opponent of Adolf Hitler.

Oster joined a small circle of anti-Nazis at Abwehr that included Wilhelm CanarisHans Gisevius and Hans Dohnanyi. Oster was able to send important information about Hitler's intentions to foreign governments. However, his warnings about Czechoslovakia and Poland were ignored.

In April 1943 Hans Dohnanyi was arrested and Oster was suspended from duty. After the July Plot he was arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated.Hans Oster was taken to Flossenburg Concentration Camp and was executed on 9th April, 1945.


Night of the Long Knives

By 1934 Adolf Hitler appeared to have complete control over Germany, but like most dictators, he constantly feared that he might be ousted by others who wanted his power. To protect himself from a possible coup, Hitler used the tactic of divide and rule and encouraged other leaders such as Hermann GoeringJoseph GoebbelsHeinrich Himmler and Ernst Roehm to compete with each other for senior positions.

One of the consequences of this policy was that these men developed a dislike for each other. Roehm was particularly hated because as leader of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) he had tremendous power and had the potential to remove any one of his competitors. Goering and Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Roehm. Heydrich, who also feared him, manufactured evidence that suggested that Roehm had been paid 12 million marks by the French to overthrow Hitler.

Hitler liked Ernst Roehm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Roehm had been one of his first supporters and, without his ability to obtain army funds in the early days of the movement, it is unlikely that the Nazis would have ever become established. The SA under Roehm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.

However, Adolf Hitler had his own reasons for wanting Roehm removed. Powerful supporters of Hitler had been complaining about Roehm for some time. Generals were afraid that the Sturm Abteilung(SA), a force of over 3 million men, would absorb the much smaller German Army into its ranks and Roehm would become its overall leader.

Industrialists such as Albert VoeglerGustav KruppAlfried KruppFritz Thyssen and Emile Kirdorf, who had provided the funds for the Nazi victory, were unhappy with Roehm's socialistic views on the economy and his claims that the real revolution had still to take place. Many people in the party also disapproved of the fact that Roehm and many other leaders of the SA were homosexuals.

Adolf Hitler was also aware that Roehm and the SA had the power to remove him. Hermann Goeringand Heinrich Himmler played on this fear by constantly feeding him with new information on Roehm's proposed coup. Their masterstroke was to claim that Gregor Strasser, whom Hitler hated, was part of the planned conspiracy against him. With this news Hitler ordered all the SA leaders to attend a meeting in the Hanselbauer Hotel in Wiesse.

Meanwhile Goering and Himmler were drawing up a list of people outside the SA that they wanted killed. The list included Strasser, Kurt von Schleicher, Hitler's predecessor as chancellor, and Gustav von Kahr, who crushed the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.

On 29th June, 1934. Hitler, accompanied by the Schutzstaffel (SS), arrived at Wiesse, where he personally arrested Ernst Roehm. During the next 24 hours 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiesse. Many were shot as soon as they were captured but Hitler decided to pardon Roehm because of his past services to the movement. However, after much pressure from Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Roehm should die. At first Hitler insisted that Roehm should be allowed to commit suicide but, when he refused, Roehm was shot by two SS men.

 

David LowThey salute with both hands now (3rd July, 1934)

 

 

Roehm was replaced by Victor Lutze as head of the SA. Lutze was a weak man and the SA gradually lost its power in Hitler's Germany. The Schutzstaffel (SS) under the leadership of Himmler grew rapidly during the next few years, replacing the SA as the dominant force in Germany.

The purge of the SA was kept secret until it was announced by Adolf Hitler on 13th July. It was during this speech that Hitler gave the purge its name: Night of the Long Knives. Hitler claimed that 61 had been executed while 13 had been shot resisting arrest and three had committed suicide. Others have argued that as many as 400 people were killed during the purge. In his speech Hitler explained why he had not relied on the courts to deal with the conspirators: "In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I become the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason."

The Night of the Long Knives was a turning point in the history of Hitler's Germany. Hitler had made it clear that he was the supreme ruler of Germany who had the right to be judge and jury, and had the power to decide whether people lived or died.

Martin Niemöller

 

Martin Niemöller, the son of a pastor, was born in Lippstadt, Germany, on 14th January, 1892. At the age of eighteen Niemöller became an officer-cadet in the German Navy. Niemöller was assigned to the training vessel Hertha and eventually graduated to the battleshipThuringen.

By the time the First World War began in 1914, Niemöller had reached the rank of Sub-Lieutenant. It was decided that the Thuringenwas too old and was retired from active service. Niemöller was now assigned to a mine-laying submarine (U73). This was followed by spells as an officer on the U39 and the U151. In 1918 Niemöller took command of the UC67. Later that year he was responsible for laying mines off Marseilles. This operation resulted in sinking three enemy ships totalling 17,000 tons. By the end of the war Niemöller was seen as one of Germany's most successful U-boat captains and was awarded the Iron Cross (first class).

After the war Niemöller became active in German politics. Senior officers in the German Army began raising private armies called Freikorps. These were used to defend the German borders against the possibility of invasion from the Red Army. Niemöller joined this group and took part in the attempt to stop a socialist revolution taking place in Germany.

In March, 1919, General Franz Epp led 30,000 soldiers to crush the Bavarian Socialist Republic. It is estimated that Epp's men killed over 600 communists and socialists over the next few weeks. The following year Herman Ehrhardt, a former naval commander and Wolfgang Kapp, a right-wing journalist, led a group of soldiers to take control of Berlin. Niemöller supported this Kapp Putsch and commanded a battalion of Freikorps in Munster. The right-wing coup was eventually defeated by a general strike of trade unionists.

After the establishment of the Weimar Republic Niemöller decided to study theology. He remained interested in politics and became a supporter Adolf Hitler and in the 1924 elections voted for the Nazi Party. Even after he was ordained in 1929 and became pastor of the Church of Jesus Christ at Dahlem he remained an ardent supporter of Hitler. In 1931 Niemöller made speeches where he argued that Germany needed a Führer.

In his sermons he also espoused Hitler's views on race and nationality. In 1933 he described the programme of the Nazi Party as a "renewal movement based on a Christian moral foundation". The following year Niemöller published his autobiography From U-Boat to Pulpit. This right-wing nationalist view of the war and its aftermath made it a popular book with party members and sold 90,000 copies in the first few weeks after it was published.

In 1933 Niemöller complained about the decision by Adolf Hitler to appoint Ludwig Muller, as the country's Reich Bishop of the Protestant Church. With the support of Karl Barth, a professor of theology at Bonn University, in May, 1934, a group of rebel pastors formed what became known as the Confessional Church.

When the Nazi government continued with this policy Niemöller joined with Dietrich Bonhoffer to form the Pastors' Emergency League and published a major document opposing the religious policies ofAdolf Hitler. Niemöller was particularly concerned by Hitler's decision that Jews should be expelled from the Church. He argued that once Jews had been converted to Christianity they should be allowed to remain in the Church. As Bonhoffer pointed out at the time, although Niemöller was critical of Hitler he remained a committed supporter of the Nazi Party. Niemöller was later to admit that his group "acted as if we had only to sustain the church" and did not accept that they had a "responsibility for the whole nation".

Niemöller therefore did not criticize the Nazi Party for putting its political opponents into concentration camps. However, he spoke out when members of the Protestant Church were arrested. In his sermon on Sunday 27th June 1937, Niemöller pointed out that on: "On Wednesday the secret police penetrated the closed church of Friedrich Werder and arrested at the altar eight members of the Council of Brethren."

The following month Niemöller was himself arrested. He was held eight months without trial and when his case eventually took place he was found guilty of "abusing the pulpit" and was fined 2,000 marks. As he left the court he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Sachsenhausen Concentration Campto be "re-educated". Niemöller refused to change his views and was later transferred to Dachau.

George Bell, the Bishop of Chichester, took up Niemöller's case. He had a series of letters published in the British press about the arrest and imprisonment of Niemöller. Bell argued that Hitler's treatment of Niemöller illustrated the attitude of the German state to Christianity. Bell's campaign helped to save Niemöller's life. It was later discovered that in 1938 Joseph Goebbels urged Adolf Hitler to have Niemöller executed. Alfred Rosenberg argued against the idea as he believed it would provide an opportunity of people like Bishop Bell to attack the German government. Hitler agreed and Niemöller was allowed to live.

Niemöller remained a German nationalist and on the outbreak of the Second World War he wrote to Admiral Erich Raeder offering to serve in the German Navy. The letter was passed to Joseph Goebbelswho dismissed the idea as he believed it was an attempt by Niemöller to save his life. Goebbels now leaked the latter to undermine Niemöller's credibility. Niemöller's supporters retaliated by claiming the letter was a forgery. This version was believed and Niemöller became a symbol in Britain of resistance in Nazi Germany.

While he was in Dachau his youngest daughter Jutta died of diphtheria. On 28th February his eldest son was killed in battle in Pomerania. Another son was captured by the Red Army while fighting on the Eastern Front.

In 1945, with the Allies moving in on Germany, Niemöller, Alexander von FalkenhausenKurt von SchuschniggLeon Blum, and other political prisoners were transferred to Tirol in Austria by the SS. The original plan was to execute them but they were rescued by the Allies just before the end of theSecond World War.

On 5th June 1945 Niemöller gave a press conference in Naples. He admitted that he had offered to join the German Navy in 1939. He also confessed that he had "never quarrelled with Hitler over political matters, but purely on religious grounds". This resulted in a savage attack on Niemöller from those newspapers that had presented him as a symbol of resistance to Hitler's government. It was now pointed out that Niemöller had never opposed the Nazi racial theories, but merely the suppression of the Church in Germany.

When it was suggested that Niemöller wanted to visit Britain there was a campaign to keep him out of the country. Tom O'Brien of the TUC General Council wrote: "I sincerely hope he will not be allowed to come. If he is, it will be the first overt move of the Germans to "organise sympathy", as they did so successfully and so hypocritically after the last war. Niemöller commanded a U-boat in the last war and, with his brother commanders, was responsible for the drowning of many unarmed British merchant seamen. In this war he volunteered to serve under Hitler. He was (and may now be) as nationalistic as any of his congregation at the fashionable Berlin church to which he ministered."

The Archdeacon of Lancaster claimed that "the pastor's visit at this time can do nothing but harm". The Daily Telegraph pointed out that Niemöller should be denied entry as there was "no record that he ever denounced Hitler's crimes against humanity or condemned the war". The Home Secretary agreed and announced that Niemöller would not be allowed to visit Britain.

After the war Niemöller became one of the leaders of the Evangelical Church in Germany. After visiting the Soviet Union Niemöller joined the World Peace Movement. On his return to Germany he pointed out: "I cannot accept communism, but I must admit that its ideals are very different from ours, which are all tangled up with the most sordid materialism." Niemöller wrote to his friend Karl Barth explaining that he was gradually being converted to the idea of socialism: "The corner-stone of my thinking is that the root of every evil development is money." Later he wrote that " the rich must be smashed in order to build human brotherhood."

Niemöller also spoke out against the development of the Cold War. In a speech he made in New Yorkhe argued: "I am... against the often-heard statement that a war against bolshevism is necessary to save the Christian churches and Christianity. But it is unchristian to conduct a war for the saving of the Christian church, for the Christian church does not need to be saved. The church is not afraid of bolshevism. It was not afraid of Nazism. The church has to serve the communists as well as all human beings. While the church rejects communism as a creed, just as it rejects all other creeds, communism must and can only be fought and defeated with spiritual weapons. All other powers will fail."

Niemöller was a strong opponent of nuclear weapons. He thought the dropping of the atom bomb onHiroshima and Nagasaki was immoral. He upset the American government when he stated that afterAdolf Hitler, he thought that Harry S. Truman "was the greatest murderer in the world."

In June 1954 Niemöller met Otto Hahn. The two men discussed the latest nuclear developments.Niemöller was shocked when Hahn told him that it was now possible to produce an atomic device that "would end not only all human life on earth, but also the life of every higher organism." That night he re-read the Sermon on the Mount and decided he could no longer justify the use of military force for political ends and became a pacifist.

Niemöller praised the new Japanese Constitution: "The renunciation of war as expressed in the Japanese Constitution has given a first ray of hope to a world in darkness and despair." In April 1958 he travelled to England and took part in the march to Aldermaston that had been organized by the recently formed Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He also campaigned against military alliances such as NATO.

 

Else and Martin Niemöller in 1961.

 

On 7th August, 1961 Niemöller was involved in a car crash. His wife, Else Niemöller was killed but as soon as he recovered from his injuries he returned to his campaign for world peace. He became an active member of the World Peace Committee and was for seven years president of the World Council of Churches. He also published a book on his political views entitled One World or No World (1964).

In 1965 Niemöller upset the United States by visiting North Vietnam and meeting Ho Chi Minh. Afterwards he commented: "One thing is clear, the president of North Vietnam is not a fanatic. He is a very strong and determined man, but capable of listening, something that is very rare in a person of his position." Niemöller won several awards for his work for world peace including the Lenin Peace Prize (1967) and the Grand Cross of Merit (1971). He married his second wife, Sybil von Sell, in 1971.

On his 90th birthday in 1982 Niemöller stated that he had started his political career as "an ultra-conservative who wanted the Kaiser to come back; and now I am a revolutionary. I really mean that. If I live to be a hundred I shall maybe be an anarchist." Martin Niemöller died in Wiesbaden, Germany, on 6th March, 1984.

Since his death Martin Niemöller has achieved a great deal of fame for a poem entitled First they Came for the Communists. However, there is some dispute about when Niemöller wrote the poem and whether it has been altered by others over the years.

Niemöller's biographers, Dietmar Schmidt (1959) and James Bentley (1984) do not mention the poem. When it appears in books the origins of the poem are rarely given. A couple of sources claim that according to Niemöller’s wife, Sybil Niemöller, the poem dates back to a meeting with a group of students in 1946. One student asked: “How could it happen?” The story claims that Niemöller answered the question with the poem. The fact that Sybil Niemöller is quoted as the source of the story suggests that the poem emerged after the death of Martin Niemöller. This also helps to explain why it is not included in the books by Dietmar Schmidt and James Bentley.

The impression is given that his wife was at the meeting. This may have been true but that would have been Else Niemöller, his first wife. Else was killed in a car crash in 1961. Martin Niemöller did not marry Sybil von Sell until 1971. She was only a child at the time and was obviously not at the meeting she refers to in 1946. Research carried out by Harold Marcuse suggests that the poem was indeed written in 1946.

 

Martin Niemöller, Linus Pauling and Sybil Niemöller in 1983.

 

Herman Ehrhardt

 

Herman Ehrhardt was born in Germany in 1881. During the First World WarEhrhardt was a commander in the German Navy. A strong opponent of the Treaty of Versailles, Ehrhardt developed extreme right-wing views after the war.

In March 1920, Ehrhardt led a group of Freikorps soldiers to take control of Berlin.Wolfgang Kapp accepted Ehrhardt's offer to form a new government. However theKapp Putsch failed to win support from the German Army and was brought to an end when the trade unions in Berlin called a general strike.

Ehrhardt fled from Germany but later returned to form the Viking League, an auxiliary police in Bavaria under Gustav von KahrAdolf Hitler saw Ehrhardt as a potential rival and refused to invite him to join the Beer Hall Putsch in November, 1923.

Ehrhardt was one of those listed to die during the Roehm Purge but he managed to escape to Austria. Herman Ehrhardt died in 1971

Gustav von Kahr

 

Gustav von Kahr, the son of a senior Bavarian civil servant, was born in 1862. After studying law in Munich he worked as a lawyer in Kaufbeuren. In 1902 Kahr joined the Bavarian State Department where he had responsibility for art and monuments.

Kahr held right-wing, nationalist views and was eventually elected leader of the Bavarian People's Party. In the final stages of the First World War Kahr became head of the provincial government of Upper Bavaria.

During the German Revolution Kahr was ousted from power and Eugen Levine, a member of the German Communist Party (KPD), became the new leader of the Bavarian Republic. Inspired by the events of theOctober Revolution, Levine ordered the expropriated of luxury flats and gave them to the homeless. Factories were to be run by joint councils of workers and owners and workers' control of industry and plans were made to abolish paper money. Levine, like the Bolsheviks had done in Russia, established Red Guardunits to defend the revolution.

In May, 1919, Friedrich Ebert, the Chancellor of Germany, ordered the German Army and the Freikorps into Bavaria. They quickly gained control and over the next few weeks an estimate 700 men and women were captured and executed. Eugen Levine was arrested and after being found guilty of being involved in the execution of the eight spies, was shot by a firing squad.

The following year Kahr became new prime minister of Bavaria. Political violence continued and after the assassination of several political leaders Kahr was appointed general state commissioner in September, 1923. He immediately uses his new powers to ban left-wing newspapers in Bavaria.

Despite Kahr's right-wing nationalist views, Adolf Hitler was unimpressed with his government. On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. While Kahr was making a speech, Hitler and armed stormtroopers entering the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the National Revolution had began.

Leaving Hermann Goering and the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to guard the 3,000 officials, Hitler took Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Seisser, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" After this the three men agreed.

While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry andRudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.

Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.

The next day Adolf HitlerEric LudendorffHermann Goering and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Party marched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering.

Kahr's unwillingness to take part in Hitler's attempt to gain power lost him the support of right-wing nationalist forces in Bavaria and he was forced to resign from office in February, 1924.

After serving as president of the Bavarian administrative court (1924-27), Kahr retired from public life. Adolf Hitler had never forgiven Kahr for his failure to support the Nazis during the Munich Putsch and his name was added to the list of people to be murdered during the Night of the Long Knives. The seventy-one year old Gustav von Kahr was murdered by members of the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) on 30th June, 1934.


Erich Raeder

 

Erich Raeder, the son of a headmaster, was born in Wandsbek, Schleswig-Holstein, on 24th April, 1876. After a good classical education he entered the Imperial Navy in 1894. He made rapid progress and became Chief of Staff to Franz von Hipper in 1912. During the First World War he saw action and in 1928 was promoted to admiral and head of the German Navy.

Raeder disliked the domestic policies of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) but supported Adolf Hitler in his attempts to restore Germany as a great power. In 1939 Hitler promoted Raeder to the rank of grand admiral, the first German to hold this post since Alfred von Tirpitz.

Raeder strategy was to build a German Navy that could challenge the British Navy. This brought him into conflict with Hermann Goering who as director of the German economy directed more resources to theLuftwaffe than the navy.

In October 1939 Raeder sent Adolf Hitler a proposal for capturing Denmark and Norway. He argued that Germany would not be able to defeat Britain unless it created naval bases in these countries. In April 1940 Hitler gave permission for this move but he was disappointed by the heavy losses that the German Navy suffered during the achievement of this objective.

Raeder supported Operation Sealion, the planned German invasion of Britain, but argued that first the Luftwaffe had to gain air superiority. When Hermann Goering failed to win the Battle of Britain Reader advised Hitler to call off the invasion. He was also a strong opponent ofOperation Barbarossa.

Adolf Hitler grew increasingly disillusioned with the performance of the German Navy and after the Luetzow and Admiral Hipper failed to stop a large Arctic convoy he accused his commander of incompetence. Raeder resigned in January, 1943 and was replaced by Karl Doenitz as Commander in Chief of the navy.

At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Raeder was found guilty of conspiring to wage aggressive war and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released in 1955 and in retirement wrote his memoirs Mein Leben (1957). Erich Raeder died in Kiel, on 6th November, 1960.

Adolf Reichwein

 

Adolf Reichwein, the son of a teacher, was born in Germany in 1898. He joined the German Army during the First World War and in December, 1917, was badly wounded when he was shot in the lung.

After the war Reichwein he studied history and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. A member of theSocial Democratic Party (SDP), Reichwein was personal adviser to the secretary of cultural affairs (1927-30) and helped to introduce educational reforms in Germany.

Reichwein became a teacher at the University of Halle but was dismissed after Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He joined the German resistance but along with his fellow comrade, Julius Leber, was arrested by the Gestapo in July, 1944.

Adolf Reichwein was found guilty of treason and executed on 20th October, 1944.

Erwin von Witzleben

 

Erwin von Witzleben was born in Breslau, Germany on 4th December, 1881. He joined the German Armyin March 1901 as a second lieutenant in the 7th Grenadier Regiment.

On the outbreak of the First World War Witzleben he was appointed Adjutant of the 19th Reserve Brigade. He served on the Western Front where he won the Iron Cross. In April 1917, Witzleben assumed command of a battalion in the 6th Infantry. The following year he became General Staff Officer to the 108th Infantry Division.

Witzleben remained in the army and in January 1921 was given command of the 8th Machine Gun Company. He was on the General Staff of the Wehrkries IV (1922-25), 12th Cavalry Regiment (1925-26) and Infantry Command III (1926-28). W became Chief of Staff of Wehrkries IV (1929-31) and commander of the 8th Infantry Regiment (1931-33).

In 1934 Witzleben was promoted to major general and appointed commander of Wehrkries III, replacing General Werner von Fitsch, who was named Commander in Chief of the Army.

An opponent of Adolf Hitler and his government in Nazi Germany, Witzleben joined with Erich von MansteinWilhelm Leeb and Gerd von Rundstedt to demand a military inquiry into the death of Kurt von Schleicher following the Night of the Long Knives. However, the Defence Minister, Werner von Blomberg, refused to allow it to take place.

Witzleben was furious when his friend, General Werner von Fitsch, was dismissed as Commander in Chief of the Army on a trumped up charge of homosexuality. He was now a staunch anti-Nazi who began considering the possibility of a military coup against Hitler. TheGestapo became aware of his criticisms of Hitler and in 1938 he was forced to take early retirement. Witzleben plotted with anti-Nazis such as Ludwig BeckFranz HalderWilhelm CanarisHans OsterWolf von HelldorfKurt Hammerstein-Equord and Erich Hoepner and they considered the possibility of a military coup.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Witzleben was recalled to the German Army. In the invasion of France Witzleben commanded the 1st Army. His troops broke through the Maginot Line in June, 1940 and then occupied Alsace-Lorraine. As a result of this action Witzleben was promoted to the rank of field marshal.

Witzleben remained in France and after the failure of the Operation Barbarossa he once again began plotting against Adolf Hitler. TheGestapo was informed that he was once again being critical of the government and in 1942 Witzleben was called back to Germany and retired.

Witzleben spent the next two years at his country estate. He kept in touch with anti-Nazis and in 1944 became involved in the July Plot. After Claus von Stauffenberg planted the bomb the conspirators thought that Hitler had been killed and Witzleben was installed as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Erich Hoepner as Commander of the Home Army.

On 21st July, 1944 Witzleben was arrested and during his trial he was humiliated by being forced to appear in court without his belt and false teeth. Erwin von Witzleben was found guilty of treason and on 8th August, 1944 was executed by being hung by piano wire from a meat hook.

Werner von Fritsch

 

Werner von Fritsch was born in Benrath, Germany, on 4th August 1880. He joined the German Army and served throughout the First World War.

He remained in the army and in May 1935 he became commander in chief of the armed forces. Adolf Hitlerwas determined to gain control of the army and Heinrich Himmler was asked to gain information on Fritsch. Eventually, Hans Schmidt, a male prostitute, agreed to claim that he had a sexual relationship with Fritsch.

On 24th January 1938 Hitler told Fritsch about the claims made by Schmidt. When it became clear that senior members of the German Army were unwilling to support him against these false charges, Fritsch retired from office. When it was later discovered that Schmidt was lying Hitler refused to reinstate Fritsch.

Recalled to the army on the outbreak of the Second World War, Fritsch became an honorary colonel in his former regiment. Werner von Fritsch was killed during the invasion of Poland on 22nd September 1939.

Erich von Manstein

 

Erich von Manstein, the son of an artillery officer, was born in Berlin,Germany on 24th November 1887. He was an Imperial court page before spending six years in the cadet corps. He joined the German Army and in 1906 was commissioned in the 3rd Footguards.

After the outbreak of the First World War Manstein served in Belgiumbefore being wounded in Poland on November 1914. After recovering he returned to the Eastern Front before being sent to France in 1917.

Manstein remained in the army and in 1936 was appointed chief of operations. Promoted to the rank of major general he served under General Ludwig Beck as Oberquartermeiser. Considered to be uncooperative by Adolf Hitler he was sent to Silesia as commander of the 18th Division.

In the invasion of Poland Manstein served as chief of staff to the Army Group South under GeneralGerd von Rundstedt. In 1940 Manstein worked with Guenther Blumentritt and Henning von Tresckow to develop the plan to invade France. Manstein and his colleagues suggested that the German Armyshould attack through the wooded hills of the Ardennes. Hitler originally rejected the proposal but he eventually approved of a modified version of what became known as the Manstein Plan. Manstein was sent back to Silesia and did not take part in the successful operation until the final stages when he served under General Gunther von Kluge.

In February 1941, Manstein was appointed commander of the 56th Panzer Corps. He was involved inOperation Barbarossa where he served under General Erich Hoepner. Attacking on 22nd June 1941, Manstein advanced more than 100 miles in only two days and was able to seize the importance bridges at Dvinsk. The following month he captured Demyansk and Torzhok.

Manstein was appointed commander of 11th Army in September 1941, and was given the task of conquering the Crimea. The Red Army bravely defended Sevastopol and this important Black Sea naval base was taken until 2nd July 1942.

Hans von Kluge

 Was born in Poznan, Germany, on 30th October, 1882. He joined the German Army and served in the field artillery during the First World War.

Kluge remained in the army and by 1933 had reached the rank major general. The following year he was placed in charge of Wehrkreis VI in Westphalia.

In 1938 Kluge objected to the aggressive foreign policy adopted by Adolf Hitler and as a result was dismissed from office. However, on the outbreak of the Second World War Kludge was recalled and placed in charge of the 4th Army that invaded Poland.

In the summer of 1940 Kluge led the 4th Army that invaded France. He was rewarded on 19th July, 1940, when he was promoted to the rank of field marshal.

Kluge also took part in Operation Barbarossa. His 4th Army took Smolensk in July, 1941, before being sent into the Ukraine. Three months later he was ordered to attack Moscow. However, following a counter-attack by the Red Army, the operation came to a halt in December, 1941.

Kluge replaced Fedor von Bock as head of AG Centre at the beginning of 1942. He immediately clashed with Heinz Guderian and with the support of Adolf Hitler removed him as the leader of the Second Panzer Army.

On 27th October, 1943, Kluge was badly injured when his car overturned on the Minsk-Smolensk. He was unable to return to duty until July 1944. Kluge soon discovered that many of the leading generals were arguing for peace negotiations with the Allies. Kluge shared these views but Adolf Hitler was unwilling to accept that he was on the verge of defeat.

Kluge was now approached by Henning von Tresckow to join in the plot to overthrow Hitler. He refused but was kept informed about the conspiracy. After the failed July Plot the Gestapo informed Hitler of their suspicions that Kluge was now unreliable.

On 16th August, 1944, Hitler sent a letter to Kludge in France suggesting that he came back to Germany for a rest. Hans von Kluge refused and on 19th August committed suicide by swallowing cyanide.

Günther Blumentritt

 

Günther Blumentritt was born in Munich, Germany, on 2nd February, 1892. He joined the German Army and during the First World War he served on the Eastern Front in Russia.

Blumentritt and his close friend Erich von Manstein served under Wilhelm Leeb during the 1930s. During the invasion of Poland in September 1939, he served as chief of operation under General Gerd von Rundstedt. He also took part in the invasion of France in May 1940 and the following year served under Gunther von Klugeas chief of staff in the 4th Army.

In 1941 Blumentritt took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union before returning to Germany in 1942 as chief of operations. He served in France in 1943.

Blumentritt, who was associated with several of those members of the German Army involved in the July Plotagainst Adolf Hitler. In September 1944 he was sacked from office but Hitler refused to believe that Blumentritt was guilty and was eventually allowed to return to the front as commander of the 12th SS Corps.

After the Normandy landings Blumentritt and his troops were driven back by General Brian Horrocks and the 30th Corps. He was now sent to Holland and took command of the 25th Army until returning to Germany as head of the 1st Parachute Army in March 1945. Günther Blumentritt died in 1967.

Erich Hoepner

 

Erich Hoepner was born in Frankfurt Germany on 14th September, 1886. He joined the German Army and after the First World War he was a member of the Freikorps.

Hoepner remained in the army and by 1938 had reached the rank of Major General and was head of 1st Light Division and took part in the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland.

In March 1939 Hoepner succeeded Heinz Guderian as head of the 16th Army Corps and the following year led his troops in France and chased Allied troops to Dunkirk.

Hoepner also took part in Operation Barbarossa where he commanded the 4th Panzer Army. His troops attacked Leningrad before being transferred to the AG Centre and fought under Gunther von Kluge on the advance to Moscow.

By 5th December, 1941, Hoepner was only 20 miles north of the capital. However, following a counter-attack by the Red Army, Hoepner decided to withdraw his troops to save them from annihilation. Adolf Hitler was furious when he heard the news and Hoepner was cashiered. After protests from senior figures in the German Army, Hoepner was allowed to retire and was able to retain his pension rights.

In 1944 Hoepner joined the plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler . After the failed July Plot Hoepner was arrested and after being found guilty of treason was hanged at Ploetzwnsee Prison on 8th August, 1944.

Wilhelm von Leeb

 

Wilhelm von Leeb was born in Landsberg, Germany, on 5th September, 1872. He joined the Imperial Army in 1895 as an officer cadet and after being commissioned in the artillery served in China (1901-02). He attended the Bavarian War Academy in Munich (1907-09) and on the General Staff in Berlin (1909-11). Promoted to captain he did a tour of duty as a battery commander in the Bavarian 10th Field Artillery Regiment at Erlangen (1912-13).

On the outbreak of the First World War Leeb was on the General Staff of the Bavarian Army Corps. He was sent to the Western Front were he served with the Bavarian 11th Infantry Division. Promoted to major he was transferred to the Eastern Front in the summer of 1916. The following year he was appointed to the staff of Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria.

After the war Leeb remained in the German Army and in 1919 was appointed chief of department in the Reich Defence Ministry. In 1920 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and the following year became chief of staff of Wehrkreis II. In February 1922 he returned to Munich as chief of staff of Wehrkreis VII and in 1923 he was involved in putting down the Beer Hall Putsch.

Leeb was appointed commander of the 2nd Mountain Artillery Battalion of the 7th Artillery Regiment in 1924. Considered an authority on defensive warfare Leeb became the head of Wehrkries VII in 1930.

A devout Roman Catholic, Leeb was opposed to the policies of the Nazi Party. After hearing Adolf Hitler make a speech to Germany's senior army officers on 23rd January, 1933, Leeb commented: "A businessman whose wares are good does not need to boost them in the loudest tones of a market crier."

Although the Gestapo were told to keep Leeb under surveillance, it did not stop him being promoted to General of the Artillery and in 1934 was given command of Army Group 2. In 1937 Leeb published Die Abweht where he argued that Germany could not defeat the Soviet Union in a two-front war.

In 1938 Hitler decided to purge the German Army of anti-Nazis and Leeb was forced into retirement. However, he was recalled just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Despite his objections he took part in the invasion of Poland and commanded Army Group C during the Western Offensive. He was rewarded by being promoted to field marshal on 19th July 1940.

During Operation Barbarossa he commanded Army Group North. He took part in the siege of Leningrad but on 13th January 1942 he asked to retire from active service and was replaced by General George von Kuechler. Wilhelm von Leeb died on 29th April 1956.

Crown Prince Rupprecht

 

Crown Prince Rupprecht, heir to the throne of Bavaria, was born in 1869. On the outbreak of the First World War was was commander of the German Sixth Army in the Lorraine

On 14th August, 1914, the French Army, led by Ferdinand FochAuguste Dubail and Michel Maunoury attempted to capture Lorraine. Rupprecht and the Sixth Army successfully withstood the attack and persuaded Hermuth von Moltke, Chief of General Staff, to allow him to launch a major counter-offensive at the end of August. Rupprecht failed to breakthrough French defences and remained on the Western Front for the rest of the war.

In July 1916, Rupprecht was promoted to field marshal. Considered to be the most competent of the royal commanders, he clashed several times with the Chief of General Staff,Erich von Falkenhayn, who replaced Hermuth von Moltke. Revolutionary activity after the war deprived Rupprecht of his Bavarian throne. Prince Rupprecht lived in quiet retirement until his death in 1955.

Georg von Kuechler

 

Was born in Germany on 30th April, 1881. After attending cadet school he entered the Imperial Army in 1900 and served in the 25th Field Artillery Regiment. Promoted to first lieutenant he spent three years at the War Academy (1910-13) before joining the General Staff in Berlin.

During the First World War he commanded an artillery battery on the Western Front and took part in the major offensives at the Somme and Verdun. In 1916 he became staff officer of the 206th Infantry Division.

In 1919 Kuechler joined the Freikorps and fought the Red Army in Poland. After returning to Germany he joined the staff of the Jueterbog Artillery School. Promoted to colonel, Kuechler became Deputy Commander of the 1st Infantry Division in East Prussia in 1932.

Kuechler succeeded Heinrich von Brauchitsch as commander of Wehrkries I in 1937. The following year he supported Adolf Hitler in his removal of Werner von Blomberg and Werner von Fitsch from power. In March 1939 he joined with Heinrich Himmler in the successful occupation of the Lithuanian port of Memel.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Kuechler was given command of the 3rd Army. During the invasion of Poland Kuechler's troops captured Danzig. Although a committed supporter of the Nazi Party, Kuechler upset the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) by punishing soldiers who committed atrocities against civilians.

In the Western Offensive he fought under General Fedor von Bock and commanded the troops that invaded the Netherlands. He took Moerdijk, Rotterdam and the Hague before moved into Belgium and occupied Antwerp on 18th May, 1940. His attempt to cut off the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Dunkirk ended in failure.

During Operation Barbarossa Kuechler led his 18th Army into the Soviet Union. Fighting alongside Ernst Busch and Wilhelm Leeb, Kuechler moved towards Leningrad. In May 1941 General Wilhelm Keitel signed the Commissar Order which instructed German field commanders to execute Communist Party officials immediately they were captured. Kuechler enthusiastically carried out this order and also encouraged his men to kill captured partisans.

On 17th January 1942, Kuechler replaced Wilhelm Leeb as commander of Army Group North. He remained in the Soviet Union until January 1944 when he ordered a withdrawal to the Luga River. Adolf Hitler was furious and replaced Kuechler with General Walther Model.

While in retirement Kuechler was approached by Carl Goerdeler who tried to persuade him to join the July Plot. Although sympathetic to the group's objectives he refused to participate in the attempt to assassinate Hitler.

Kuechler was found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg and on 27th October 1948 he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment for his treatment of partisans in the Soviet Union. Georg von Kuechler, who was released in February 1955, died on 25th May 1968.

 

Wilhelm Keitel

 

Wilhelm Keitel, the son of a landowner, was born in Helmscherode on 22nd September 1882. He joined theGerman Army and in 1902 became a second lieutenant in the 46th Field Artillery.

Keitel had reached the rank of captain by the outbreak of the First World War. In September 1914 Keitel was seriously wounded by a shell splinter. After returning to duty he became a battery commander before being appointed to the General Staff in March 1915. He also served as an officer with XIX Reserve Corps (1916-17) and the 199th Infantry Division (1917) before returning to the General Staff in Berlin in December 1917.

After the war Keitel was a member of the right-wing terrorist Freikorps group and served on the frontier withPoland in 1919. He remained in the army and spent three years as an instructor at the School of Cavalry at Hanover (1920-23). This was followed by a spell with the 6th Artillery Regiment.

Assigned to the Troop Office he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in February 1929. Later that year he became head of the Organizations Department. In this role he was involved in secret preparations to triple the size of the German Army.

In January 1933, Adolf Hitler gained power and immediately Keitel's old friend, Werner von Blomberg, was appointed Minister of Defence. Soon afterwards Blomberg introduced him to Hitler. Keitel was impressed and became a devoted supporter of the new leader.

In February 1938 Keitel became Commander-in-Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW). He now arranged to have his friend, Heinrich von Brauchitsch, appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

During the Second World War Keitel, Alfred Jodl and Walther Warlimont were the most important figures in the OKW. He was a loyal supporter of Hitler's policies and after the invasion of Poland he issued orders to the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) and the Gestapo to exterminate the country's Jews.

Keitel advised against the Western Offensive and Operation Barbarossa but quickly backed down when Hitler responded aggressively. Both times he tried to resign but Hitler refused him permission to go.

In May 1941 Keitel signed the Commissar Order which instructed German field commanders to execute Communist Party officials immediately they were captured. In July 1941 he signed another order giving Heinrich Himmler the power to implement his racial program in the Soviet Union.

In September 1942 Keitel and Alfred Jodl defended Field Marshal Siegmund List against the criticisms of Adolf Hitler. This resulted in Jodl being sacked and for many months afterwards Hitler refused to shake hands with Keitel. This was the last time that Keitel was to challenge Hitler's military decisions. He was now referred to by other officers as "Lakaitel" (the nodding ass).

Over the next two years Keitel issued orders for the execution of striking workers, the extermination of Jews and the killing of captured partisans. He also suggested that German civilians should be encouraged to lynch captured Allied airman.

After the war Keitel was arrested and tried at Nuremberg as a major war criminal. In court his main defence was that he was merely obeying orders claiming that he was "never permitted to make decisions". Found guilty he was executed on 16th October, 1946. His autobiography, In Service of the Reich, was published after his death.

 

Alfred Jodl

 

Alfred Jodl was born in Wuerzburg, Germany, on 10th May, 1890. He attended cadet school and 1910 joined a field military regiment in the German Army.

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War Jodl suffered a severe thigh wound. He recovered and saw further action on the Western Front and the Eastern Front. Disillusioned by Germany's defeat he considered leaving the army and becoming a doctor.

In 1935 Jodl was promoted to the rank of general major. After the Anschluss he was sent to Vienna as head of the 44th Artillery Command. He returned to Germany and in September he took part in the invasion of Poland.

A strong supporter of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), Jodl worked closely withAdolf Hitler and in October, 1939, was appointed chief of operations. In January, 1944, Jodl was promoted to the rank of Generaloberst.

Jodl came close to be killed when the bomb exploded in the July Plot. He recovered and in May, 1945, signed the unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies. Soon afterwards he was arrested and charged with war crimes.

At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Jodl was charged of approving orders that violated the rules of war. Alfred Jodl was found guilty and hanged on 16th October, 1946.

Heinrich Brauchitsch

 

Heinrich Brauchitsch was born in Berlin, Germany, on 4th October, 1881. He joined the German Army in 1900 and by the end of the First World War had reached the rank of major.

Brauchitsch remained in the army and in 1925 took command of an artillery battalion. Promoted to General Major in 1930 he was Inspector of Artillery in 1932. The following year he was given command of the 1st Army Corps at Koenigsberg.

Brauchitsch resented the power of the Schutz Staffeinel (SS) and clashed with Erich Koch, the president of East Prussia. Adolf Hitler valued Brauchitsch and he went to Koenigsberg to sort the dispute out. Hitler continued to promote Brauchitsch and in 1937 became General of the Artillery.

In February, 1938, General Werner von Fitsch was forced to resign and Brauchitsch became Commander in Chief of the German Army. Much to the displeasure of many senior officers, Brauchitsch appeared to allowAdolf Hitler to take personal control of the army. Aware that Ludwig Beck and others were involved in a conspiracy to stop Hitler starting a world war, Brauchitsch did nothing to help.

After the invasion of France Brauchitsch was one of twelve new field marshals created by Hitler. However, his health declined when Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve the surrender of the Soviet Union and in December 1941 he asked Hitler to be relieved of his duties.

Brauchitsch was arrested after the Second World War and testified at the Nuremberg War Trials. Heinrich Brauchitsch died on 18th October, 1948, while in a British military while awaiting to be tried as a war criminal.

Erich Koch

 

Erich Koch was born in Elberfeld, Germany, on 19th June, 1896. He served in the German Army during theFirst World War and in 1919 became a railway clerk.

Koch joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1922 and was active in the revolt against the occupation of the Ruhr and as a result was imprisoned several times by the French authorities. Koch became a Nazi district leader and was a supporter of the faction led by Gregor Strasser.

In 1928 Koch was appointed Gauleiter of the Nazi Party in East Prussia and two years later was elected to theReichstag. After Adolf Hitler gained power in 1933 Koch became President of East Prussia.

During the Second World War Koch became head of the civil administration in the Ukraine (1941-44). This gave him control of the Gestapo in the area and was responsible for deporting hundreds of thousands of people toextermination camps.

When the Red Army recaptured the Ukraine in 1944 Koch returned to East Prussia. At the end of the war he hid from the Allied forces and remained free until being captured by the British Army in Hamburg in May, 1949.

The Soviet Union demanded Koch's extradition but the British government decided to pass him on to the Polish government instead. Held in Warsaw his trial did not take place until October, 1958. Found guilty for the deaths of 400,000 Poles (his crimes in the Ukraine were not dealt with) he was sentenced to death on 9th March, 1959. This was later commuted to life imprisonment and Erich Koch died in prison on 12th November, 1986.


Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was born on 20th April, 1889, in the small Austrian town of Braunau near the German border. Both Hitler's parents had come from poor peasant families. His father Alois Hitler, the illegitimate son of a housemaid, was an intelligent and ambitious man and later became a senior customs official.

Klara Hitler was Alois' third wife. Alois was twenty-three years older than Klara and already had two children from his previous marriages. Klara and Alois had five children but only Adolf and a younger sister, Paula, survived to become adults.

Alois, who was fifty-one when Adolf was born, was extremely keen for his son to do well in life. Alois did have another son by an earlier marriage but he had been a big disappointment to him and eventually ended up in prison for theft. Alois was a strict father and savagely beat his son if he did not do as he was told.

Hitler did extremely well at primary school and it appeared he had a bright academic future in front of him. He was also popular with other pupils and was much admired for his leadership qualities. He was also a deeply religious child and for a while considered the possibility of becoming a monk.

Competition was much tougher in the larger secondary school and his reaction to not being top of the class was to stop trying. His father was furious as he had high hopes that Hitler would follow his example and join the Austrian civil service when he left school. However, Hitler was a stubborn child and attempts by his parents and teachers to change his attitude towards his studies were unsuccessful.

Hitler also lost his popularity with his fellow pupils. They were no longer willing to accept him as one of their leaders. As Hitler liked giving orders he spent his time with younger pupils. He enjoyed games that involved fighting and he loved re-enacting battles from the Boer War. His favourite game was playing the role of a commando rescuing Boers from English concentration camps.

The only teacher Hitler appeared to like at secondary school was Leopold Potsch, his history master. Potsch, like many people living in Upper Austria, was a German Nationalist. Potsch told Hitler and his fellow pupils of the German victories over France in 1870 and 1871 and attacked the Austrians for not becoming involved in these triumphs. Otto von Bismarck, the first chancellor of the German Empire, was one of Hitler's early historical heroes.

Hitler's other main interest at school was art. His father was incensed when Hitler told him that instead of joining the civil service he was going to become an artist. The relationship between Hitler and his father deteriorated and the conflict only ended with the death of Alois Hitler in 1903.

Hitler was thirteen when his father died. His death did not cause the family financial hardships. The Hitler family owned their own home and they also received a lump sum and a generous civil service pension.

Klara Hitler, a kind and gentle woman, tended to spoil her son. Like her husband she was keen for Adolf to do well at school. Her attempts at persuasion achieved no more success than her husband's threats and he continued to obtain poor grades.

At the age of fifteen he did so badly in his examinations that he was told he would have to repeat the whole year's work again. Hitler hated the idea and managed to persuade his mother to allow him to leave school without a secondary education qualification. He celebrated by getting drunk. However, he found it an humiliating experience and vowed never to get drunk again. He kept his promise and by the time he reached his thirties he had given up alcohol completely.

When he was eighteen Hitler received an inheritance from his father's will. With the money he moved to Vienna where he planned to become an art student. Hitler had a high opinion of his artistic abilities and was shattered when the Vienna Academy of Art rejected his application. He also applied to the Vienna School of Architecture but was not admitted because he did not have a school leaving certificate.

Hitler was humiliated by these two rejections and could not bring himself to tell his mother what had happened. Instead he continued to live in Vienna pretending he was an art student.

In 1907 Klara Hitler died from cancer. Her death affected him far more deeply than the death of his father. He had fond memories of his mother, carried her photograph wherever he went and, it is claimed, had it in his hand when he died in 1945.

As the eldest child, Hitler now received his father's civil service pension. It was more money than many people received in wages and meant that Hitler did not have to find employment. He spent most of the morning in bed reading and in the afternoon he walked around Vienna studying buildings, visiting museums, and making sketches.

In 1909 Hitler should have registered for military service. He was unwilling to serve Austria, which he despised, so he ignored his call-up papers. It took four years for the authorities to catch up with him. When he had his medical for the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914 he was rejected as being: "Unfit for combatant and auxiliary duty - too weak. Unable to bear arms."

The outbreak of the First World War provided him with an opportunity for a fresh start. It was a chance for him to become involved in proving that Germany was superior to other European countries. Hitler claimed that when he heard the news of war: "I was overcome with impetuous enthusiasm, and falling on my knees, wholeheartedly thanked Heaven that I had been granted the happiness to live live at this time. Rejecting the idea of fighting for Austria, Hitler volunteered for the German Army. In times of war medical examinations are not so rigorous.

Hitler liked being in the army. For the first time he was part of a group that was fighting for a common goal. Hitler also liked the excitement of fighting in a war. Although fairly cautious in his actions, he did not mind risking his life and impressed his commanding officers for volunteering for dangerous missions.

His fellow soldiers described him as "odd" and "peculiar". One soldier from his regiment, Hans Mend, claimed that Hitler was an isolated figure who spent long periods of time sitting in the corner holding his head in silence. Then all of a sudden, Mend claimed, he would jump up and make a speech. These outbursts were usually attacks on Jews and Marxists who Hitler claimed were undermining the war effort.

Hitler was given the job of despatch-runner. It was a dangerous job as it involved carrying messages from regimental headquarters to the front-line. On one day alone, three out of eight of the regiment's despatch-runners were killed. For the first time since he was at primary school Hitler was a success.

Hitler won five medals including the prestigious Iron Cross during the First World War. His commanding officer wrote: "As a dispatch-runner, he has shown cold-blooded courage and exemplary boldness. Under conditions of great peril, when all the communication lines were cut, the untiring and fearless activity of Hitler made it possible for important messages to go through".

Although much decorated in the war, Hitler only reached the rank of corporal. This was probably due to his eccentric behaviour and the fear that the other soldiers might not obey the man they considered so strange.

In October 1918, Hitler was blinded in a British mustard gas attack. He was sent to a military hospital and gradually recovered his sight. While he was in hospital Germany surrendered. Hitler went into a state of deep depression, and had periods when he could not stop crying. He spent most of his time turned towards the hospital wall refusing to talk to anyone. Once again Hitler's efforts had ended in failure.

After the war Hitler was stationed in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. While Hitler was in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Kurt Eisner, leader of the Independent Socialist Party, declared Bavaria a Socialist Republic. Hitler was appalled by the revolution. As a German Nationalist he disagreed with the socialist belief in equality.

Hitler saw socialism as part of a Jewish conspiracy. Many of the socialist leaders in Germany, including Kurt EisnerRosa LuxemburgErnst Toller and Eugen Levine were Jews. So also were many of the leaders of the October Revolution in Russia. This included Leon TrotskyGregory ZinovievLev KamenevDimitri BogrovKarl RadekYakov SverdlovMaxim LitvinovAdolf Joffe, and Moisei Uritsky. It had not escaped Hitler's notice that Karl Marx, the prophet of socialism, had also been a Jew.

It was no coincidence that Jews had joined socialist and communist parties in Europe. Jews had been persecuted for centuries and therefore were attracted to a movement that proclaimed that all men and women deserved to be treated as equals. This message was reinforced when on 10th July, 1918, theBolshevik government in Russia passed a law that abolished all discrimination between Jews and non-Jews.

It was not until May, 1919 that the German Army entered Munich and overthrew the Bavarian Socialist Republic. Hitler was arrested with other soldiers in Munich and was accused of being a socialist. Hundreds of socialists were executed without trial but Hitler was able to convince them that he had been an opponent of the regime. To prove this he volunteered to help to identify soldiers who had supported the Socialist Republic. The authorities agreed to this proposal and Hitler was transferred to the commission investigating the revolution.

Information supplied by Hitler helped to track down several soldiers involved in the uprising. His officers were impressed by his hostility to left-wing ideas and he was recruited as a political officer. Hitler's new job was to lecture soldiers on politics. The main aim was to promote his political philosophy favoured by the army and help to combat the influence of the Russian Revolution on the German soldiers.

Hitler, who had for years been ignored when he made political speeches, now had a captive audience. The political climate had also changed. Germany was a defeated and disillusioned country. AtVersailles the German government had been forced to sign a peace treaty that gave away 13% of her territory. This meant the loss of 6 million people, a large percentage of her raw materials (65% of iron ore reserves, 45% of her coal, 72% of her zinc) and 10% of her factories. Germany also lost all her overseas colonies.

Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty Germany also had to pay for damage caused by the war. These reparations amounted to 38% of her national wealth.

Hitler was no longer isolated. The German soldiers who attended his lectures shared his sense of failure. They found his message that they were not to blame attractive. He told them that Germany had not been beaten on the battlefield but had been betrayed by Jews and Marxists who had preached revolution and undermined the war effort.

The German Army also began using Hitler as a spy. In September 1919, he was instructed to attend a meeting of the German Worker's Party (GWP). The army feared that this new party, led by Anton Drexler, might be advocating communist revolution. Hitler discovered that the party's political ideas were similar to his own. He approved of Drexler's German nationalism and anti-Semitism but was unimpressed with the way the party was organized. Although there as a spy, Hitler could not restrain himself when a member made a point he disagreed with, and he stood up and made a passionate speech on the subject.

Drexler was impressed with Hitler's abilities as an orator and invited him to join the party. At first Hitler was reluctant, but urged on by his commanding officer, Captain Karl Mayr, he eventually agreed. He was only the fifty-fourth person to join the GWP. Hitler was immediately asked to join the executive committee and was later appointed the party's propaganda manager.

In the next few weeks Hitler brought several members of his army into the party, including one of his commanding officers, Captain Ernst Roehm. The arrival of Roehm was an important development as he had access to the army political fund and was able to transfer some of the money into the GWP.

The German Worker's Party used some of this money to advertise their meetings. Hitler was often the main speaker and it was during this period that he developed the techniques that made him into such a persuasive orator.

The Last of the Hitlers

 

Hitler always arrived late which helped to develop tension and a sense of expectation. He took the stage, stood to attention and waited until there was complete silence before he started his speech. For the first few months Hitler appeared nervous and spoke haltingly. Slowly he would begin to relax and his style of delivery would change. He would start to rock from side to side and begin to gesticulate with his hands. His voice would get louder and become more passionate. Sweat poured of him, his face turned white, his eyes bulged and his voice cracked with emotion. He ranted and raved about the injustices done to Germany and played on his audience's emotions of hatred and envy. By the end of the speech the audience would be in a state of near hysteria and were willing to do whatever Hitler suggested.

As soon as his speech finished Hitler would quickly leave the stage and disappear from view. Refusing to be photographed, Hitler's aim was to create an air of mystery about himself, hoping that it would encourage others to come and hear the man who was now being described as "the new Messiah".

Hitler's reputation as an orator grew and it soon became clear that he was the main reason why people were joining the party. This gave Hitler tremendous power within the organization as they knew they could not afford to lose him. One change suggested by Hitler concerned adding "Socialist" to the name of the party. Hitler had always been hostile to socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial or sexual equality. However, socialism was a popular political philosophy in Germany after theFirst World War. This was reflected in the growth in the German Social Democrat Party (SDP), the largest political party in Germany.

Hitler, therefore redefined socialism by placing the word 'National' before it. He claimed he was only in favour of equality for those who had "German blood". Jews and other "aliens" would lose their rights of citizenship, and immigration of non-Germans should be brought to an end.

In February 1920, the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) published its first programme which became known as the "25 Points". In the programme the party refused to accept the terms of the Versailles Treaty and called for the reunification of all German people. To reinforce their ideas on nationalism, equal rights were only to be given to German citizens. "Foreigners" and "aliens" would be denied these rights.

To appeal to the working class and socialists, the programme included several measures that would redistribute income and war profits, profit-sharing in large industries, nationalization of trusts, increases in old-age pensions and free education.

 

Continued

On 24th February, 1920, the NSDAP (later nicknamed the Nazi Party) held a mass rally where it announced its new programme. The rally was attended by over 2,000 people, a great improvement on the 25 people who were at Hitler's first party meeting.

Hitler knew that the growth in the party was mainly due to his skills as an orator and in the autumn of 1921 he challenged Anton Drexler for the leadership of the party. After brief resistance Drexler accepted the inevitable, and Hitler became the new leader of the Nazi Party.

Hitler's ability to arouse in his supporters emotions of anger and hate often resulted in their committing acts of violence. In September 1921, Hitler was sent to prison for three months for being part of a mob who beat up a rival politician.

When Hitler was released, he formed his own private army called Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section). The SA (also known as stormtroopers or brownshirts) were instructed to disrupt the meetings of political opponents and to protect Hitler from revenge attacks. Captain Ernst Roehm of the Bavarian Army played an important role in recruiting these men, and Hermann Goering, a former air-force pilot, became their leader.

Hitler's stormtroopers were often former members of the Freikorps (right-wing private armies who flourished during the period that followed the First World War) and had considerable experience in using violence against their rivals.

The SA wore grey jackets, brown shirts (khaki shirts originally intended for soldiers in Africa but purchased in bulk from the German Army by the Nazi Party), swastika armbands, ski-caps, knee-breeches, thick woolen socks and combat boots. Accompanied by bands of musicians and carrying swastika flags, they would parade through the streets of Munich. At the end of the march Hitler would make one of his passionate speeches that encouraged his supporters to carry out acts of violence against Jews and his left-wing political opponents.

As this violence was often directed against Socialists and Communists, the local right-wing Bavarian government did not take action against the Nazi Party. However, the national government in Berlin were concerned and passed a "Law for the Protection of the Republic". Hitler's response was to organize a rally attended by 40,000 people. At the meeting Hitler called for the overthrow of the German government and even suggested that its leaders should be executed.

In 1923 the German Government had to deal with a series of difficult problems. In January the French Army occupied the Ruhr because they claimed Germany was falling behind with her reparations. Workers in the Ruhr responded by going on strike which badly hurt the German economy. One of the consequences of this was rapid inflation. As people found their savings becoming worthless, they turned against their government.

On 13th August, Gustav Stresemann became the new Chancellor of Germany. When Stresemann decided to call off resistance to the French occupation of the Ruhr and to start paying reparations to the Allies again, Hitler decided it was time for him to become the new leader of Germany.

On 8th November, 1923, the Bavarian government held a meeting of about 3,000 officials. WhileGustav von Kahr, the leader of the Bavarian government was making a speech, Hitler and armed stormtroopers entering the building. Hitler jumped onto a table, fired two shots in the air and told the audience that the Munich Putsch was taking place and the National Revolution had began.

Leaving Hermann Goering and the SA to guard the 3,000 officials, Hitler took Gustav von Kahr, Otto von Lossow, the commander of the Bavarian Army and Hans von Seisser, the commandant of the Bavarian State Police into an adjoining room. Hitler told the men that he was to be the new leader of Germany and offered them posts in his new government. Aware that this would be an act of high treason, the three men were initially reluctant to agree to this offer. Hitler was furious and threatened to shoot them and then commit suicide: "I have three bullets for you, gentlemen, and one for me!" After this the three men agreed.

Soon afterwards Eric Ludendorff arrived. Ludendorff had been leader of the German Army at the end of the First World War. He had therefore found Hitler's claim that the war had not been lost by the army but by Jews, Socialists, Communists and the German government, attractive, and was a strong supporter of the Nazi Party. Ludendorff agreed to become head of the the German Army in Hitler's government.

While Hitler had been appointing government ministers, Ernst Roehm, leading a group of stormtroopers, had seized the War Ministry and Rudolf Hess was arranging the arrest of Jews and left-wing political leaders in Bavaria.

Hitler now planned to march on Berlin and remove the national government. Surprisingly, Hitler had not arranged for the stormtroopers to take control of the radio stations and the telegraph offices. This meant that the national government in Berlin soon heard about Hitler's putsch and gave orders for it to be crushed.

The next day Hitler, Eric LudendorffHermann Goering and 3,000 armed supporters of the Nazi Partymarched through Munich in an attempt to join up with Roehm's forces at the War Ministry. At Odensplatz they found the road blocked by the Munich police. As they refused to stop, the police fired into the ground in front of the marchers. The stormtroopers returned the fire and during the next few minutes 21 people were killed and another hundred were wounded, included Goering.

When the firing started Hitler threw himself to the ground dislocating his shoulder. Hitler lost his nerve and ran to a nearby car. Although the police were outnumbered, the Nazis followed their leader's example and ran away. Only Eric Ludendorff and his adjutant continued walking towards the police. Later Nazi historians were to claim that the reason Hitler left the scene so quickly was because he had to rush an injured young boy to the local hospital.

After hiding in a friend's house for several days, Hitler was arrested and put on trial for his role in theBeer Hall Putsch. If found guilty, Hitler faced the death penalty. While in prison Hitler suffered from depression and talked of committing suicide. However, it soon became clear that the Nazi sympathizers in the Bavarian government were going to make sure that Hitler would not be punished severely.

At his trial Hitler was allowed to turn the proceedings into a political rally, and although he was found guilty he only received the minimum sentence of five years. Other members of the Nazi Party also received light sentences and Eric Ludendorff was acquitted.

Hitler was sent to Landsberg Castle in Munich to serve his prison sentence. He was treated well and was allowed to walk in the castle grounds, wear his own clothes and receive gifts. Officially there were restrictions on visitors but this did not apply to Hitler, and a steady flow of friends, party members and journalists spent long spells with him. He was even allowed to have visits from his pet Alsatian dog.

While in Landsberg he read a lot of books. Most of these dealt with German history and political philosophy. Later he was to describe his spell in prison as a "free education at the state's expense." One writer who influenced Hitler while in prison was Henry Ford, the American car-manufacturer. Hitler read Ford's autobiography, My Life and Work, and a book of his called The International Jew. In the latter Ford claimed that there was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Hitler also approved of Ford's hostile views towards communism and trade unions.

Max Amnan, his business manager, proposed that Hitler should spend his time in prison writing his autobiography. Hitler, who had never fully mastered writing, was at first not keen on the idea. However, he agreed when it was suggested that he should dictate his thoughts to a ghostwriter. The prison authorities surprisingly agreed that Hitler's chauffeur, Emil Maurice, could live in the prison to carry out this task.

Maurice, whose main talent was as a street fighter, was a poor writer and the job was eventually taken over by Rudolf Hess, a student at Munich University. Hess made a valiant attempt at turning Hitler's spoken ideas into prose. However, the book that Hitler wrote in prison was repetitive, confused, turgid and therefore, extremely difficult to read. In his writing, Hitler was unable to use the passionate voice and dramatic bodily gestures which he had used so effectively in his speeches, to convey his message.

The book was originally entitled Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice. Hitler's publisher reduced it to My Struggle (Mein Kampf). The book is a mixture of autobiography, political ideas and an explanation of the techniques of propaganda. The autobiographical details in Mein Kampfare often inaccurate, and the main purpose of this part of the book appears to be to provide a positive image of Hitler. For example, when Hitler was living a life of leisure in Vienna he claims he was working hard as a labourer.

In Mein Kampf Hitler outlined his political philosophy. He argued that the German (he wrongly described them as the Aryan race) was superior to all others. "Every manifestation of human culture, every product of art, science and technical skill, which we see before our eyes today, is almost exclusively the product of Aryan creative power."

Hitler warned that the Aryan's superiority was being threatened by intermarriage. If this happened world civilization would decline: "On this planet of ours human culture and civilization are indissolubly bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he should be exterminated or subjugated, then the dark shroud of a new barbarian era would enfold the earth."

Although other races would resist this process, the Aryan race had a duty to control the world. This would be difficult and force would have to be used, but it could be done. To support this view he gave the example of how the British Empire had controlled a quarter of the world by being well-organised and having well-timed soldiers and sailors.

Hitler believed that Aryan superiority was being threatened particularly by the Jewish race who, he argued, were lazy and had contributed little to world civilization. (Hitler ignored the fact that some of his favourite composers and musicians were Jewish). He claimed that the "Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end satanically glaring at and spying on the unconscious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate."

According to Hitler, Jews were responsible for everything he did not like, including modern art, pornography and prostitution. Hitler also alleged that the Jews had been responsible for losing the First World War. Hitler also claimed that Jews, who were only about 1% of the population, were slowly taking over the country. They were doing this by controlling the largest political party in Germany, theGerman Social Democrat Party, many of the leading companies and several of the country's newspapers. The fact that Jews had achieved prominent positions in a democratic society was, according to Hitler, an argument against democracy: "a hundred blockheads do not equal one man in wisdom."

Hitler believed that the Jews were involved with Communists in a joint conspiracy to take over the world. Like Henry Ford, Hitler claimed that 75% of all Communists were Jews. Hitler argued that the combination of Jews and Marxists had already been successful in Russia and now threatened the rest of Europe. He argued that the communist revolution was an act of revenge that attempted to disguise the inferiority of the Jews.

In Mein Kampf Hitler declared that: "The external security of a people in largely determined by the size of its territory. If he won power Hitler promised to occupy Russian land that would provide protection and lebensraum (living space) for the German people. This action would help to destroy the Jewish/Marxist attempt to control the world: "The Russian Empire in the East is ripe for collapse; and the end of the Jewish domination of Russia will also be the end of Russia as a state."

To achieve this expansion in the East and to win back land lost during the First World War, Hitler claimed that it might be necessary to form an alliance with Britain and Italy. An alliance with Britain was vitally important because it would prevent Germany fighting a war in the East and West at the same time.

According to James Douglas-Hamilton (Motive for a MissionKarl Haushofer provided "Hitler with a formula and certain well-turned phrases which could be adapted, and which at a later stage suited the Nazis perfectly". Haushofer had developed the theory that the state is a biological organism which grows or contracts, and that in the struggle for space the strong countries take land from the weak.

Hitler was released from prison on 20th December, 1924, after serving just over a year of his sentence. The Germany of 1924 was dramatically different from the Germany of 1923. The economic policies of the German government had proved successful. Inflation had been brought under control and the economy began to improve. The German people gradually gained a new faith in their democratic system and began to find the extremist solutions proposed by people such as Hitler unattractive.

Hitler attempted to play down his extremist image, and claimed that he was no longer in favour of revolution but was willing to compete with other parties in democratic elections. This policy was unsuccessful and in the elections of December 1924 the NSDAP could only win 14 seats compared with the the 131 obtained by the Socialists (German Social Democrat Party) and the 45 of the German Communist Party (KPD).

 

Georges, Grim ReaperThe Nation (April, 1933)

 

 

 

 

Continued

Hitler went to live in Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. Later he was to say this was the happiest time of his life. He spent his time reading, walking and being driven fast around the countryside in his new supercharged Mercedes. For the first time in his life he began to take a serious interest in women.

Hitler liked the company of beautiful and frivolous women and avoided women who wanted to discuss political issues. His attitude towards women is reflected in his comment that: "A highly intelligent man should take a primitive and stupid woman." On another occasion he said: "I detest women who dabble in politics."

This was one of the reasons Hitler tended to be attracted to women much younger than himself, and there was a scandal when Maria Reiter, a sixteen-year-old girl he was involved with, tried to commit suicide.

In 1928 Hitler asked his half-sister, Angela Raubal, to be his housekeeper. She agreed and arrived with her twenty-year old daughter, Geli Raubal. Hitler, who had now turned forty, became infatuated with Geli and rumours soon spread that he was having an affair with his young niece. Hitler became extremely possessive and Emil Maurice, his chauffeur, who also showed interest in Geli, was sacked.

The couple lived together for over two years. The relationship with Geli was stormy and they began to accuse each other of being unfaithful. Geli was particularly concerned about Eva Braun, a seventeen-year-old girl who Hitler took for rides in his Mercedes car.

Geli also complained about the way Hitler controlled her life On September 8, 1931, Hitler left for Hamburg after having a blazing row with Geli over her desire to spend some time in Vienna. Hitler was heard to shout at Geli as he was about to get into his car: "For the last time, no!" After he left Geli shot herself through the heart with a revolver.

When he heard the news Hitler threatened to take his own life but was talked out of it by senior members of the Nazi Party. One consequence of Geli's suicide was that Hitler became a vegetarian. He claimed that meat now reminded him of Geli's corpse.

Rumours about Geli's death spread quickly amongst Hitler's enemies. It was claimed that Geli had been badly beaten up by Hitler before she shot herself. Another story involved Geli committing suicide because she was expecting Hitler's child. Some people claimed she was murdered by Heinrich Himmler because she was threatening to blackmail Hitler. Little evidence has been provided to support these suggestions and the reasons for her death remain a mystery

After the death of Geli Raubal, Hitler began to see more of Eva Braun. However he still had relationships with other women Hitler was especially fond of film-stars and one girlfriend the actressRenate Mueller, committed suicide by throwing herself out of a hotel window in Berlin.

Eva was extremely jealous of Hitler's other girlfriends and in 1932 she also attempted suicide by shooting herself in the neck. Doctors managed to save her life, and after this incident Hitler seemed to become more attached to Eva and saw less of other women.

Hitler had no desire to have children. He told several people that if he had children they were certain to disappoint him as they would never match his own genius.

The Nazi Party always attempted to keep Hitler's love life secret. In his speeches Hitler claimed that he had never married because he was "married to the German people." The severe casualties suffered during the First World War meant that there was a large number of widows and spinsters in Germany. Women in Germany found Hitler's bachelor image attractive and this helped win him votes during elections. It was for this reason that Eva Braun was never seen in public with Hitler.

Emil Kirdorf, a very wealthy industrialist met Hitler in 1927. Although Kirdorf agreed with most of Hitler's views he was concerned about some of the policies of the Nazi Party. He was particularly worried about the opinions of some people in the party such as Gregor Strasser who talked about the need to redistribute wealth in Germany.

Hitler tried to reassure Kirdorf that these policies were just an attempt to gain the support of the working-class in Germany and would not be implemented once he gained power. Kirdorf suggested that Hitler should write a pamphlet for private distribution amongst Germany's leading industrialists that clearly expressed his views on economic policy.

Hitler agreed and The Road to Resurgence was published in the summer of 1927. In the pamphlet distributed by Kirdorf to Germany's leading industrialists, Hitler tried to reassure his readers that he was a supporter of private enterprise and was opposed to any real transformation of Germany's economic and social structure.

Emil Kirdorf and his wealthy right-wing friends were particularly attracted to Hitler's idea of winning the working class away from left-wing political groups such as the Social Democratic Party and theCommunist Party. Kirdorf and other business leaders were also impressed with the news that Hitler planned to suppress the trade union movement once he gained power. Kirdorf joined the Nazi Partyand immediately began to try and persuade other leading industrialists to supply Hitler with the necessary funds to win control of the Reichstag.

Kirdorf expected Adolf Hitler to remove left-wing members of the Nazi Party such as Gregor Strasser,Ernst Roehm and Gottfried Feder to be removed from power. When this did not happen, Kirdorf switched his support to the German Nationalist Party (DNVP) led by Alfred Hugenberg.

In the 1928 German elections, less than 3% of the people voted for the Nazi Party. This gave them only twelve seats, twenty fewer than they achieved in the May, 1924 election. However, the party was well organized and membership had grown from 27,000 in 1925 to 108,000 in 1928.

One of the new members was Joseph Goebbels. Hitler first met him in 1925. Both men were impressed with each other. Goebbels described one of their first meetings in his diary: "Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king."

Hitler admired Goebbels' abilities as a writer and speaker. They shared an interest in propaganda and together they planned how the NSDAP would win the support of the German people.

Propaganda cost money and this was something that the Nazi Party was very short of. Whereas theGerman Social Democratic Party was funded by the trade unions and the pro-capitalist parties by industrialists, the NSDAP had to rely on contributions from party members. When Hitler approached rich industrialists for help he was told that his economic policies (profit-sharing, nationalization of trusts) were too left-wing.

In an attempt to obtain financial contributions from industrialists, Hitler wrote a pamphlet in 1927 entitled The Road to Resurgence. Only a small number of these pamphlets were printed and they were only meant for the eyes of the top industrialists in Germany. The reason that the pamphlet was kept secret was that it contained information that would have upset Hitler's working-class supporters. In the pamphlet Hitler implied that the anti-capitalist measures included in the original twenty-five points of the NSDAP programme would not be implemented if he gained power.

Hitler began to argue that "capitalists had worked their way to the top through their capacity, and on the basis of this selection they have the right to lead." Hitler claimed that national socialism meant all people doing their best for society and posed no threat to the wealth of the rich. Some prosperous industrialists were convinced by these arguments and gave donations to the Nazi Party, however, the vast majority continued to support other parties, especially the right-wing German Nationalist Peoples Party (DNVP).

Another new member of the NSDAP was Heinrich Himmler. Hitler was impressed by Himmler's fanatical nationalism and his deep hatred of the Jews. Himmler believed Hitler was the Messiah that was destined to lead Germany to greatness. Hitler, who was always vulnerable to flattery, decided that Himmler should become the new leader of his personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffeinel (SS).

The German economy continued to improve and as unemployment fell, so did the support for extremist political parties such as the NSDAP. In the General Election held in May, 1928, the Nazi Party won only 14 seats, while the left-wing parties, the German Social Democrat Party (153) and the German Communist Party (54) still continued to grow in popularity.

The fortunes of the NSDAP changed with the Wall Street Crash in October 1929. Desperate for capital, the United States began to recall loans from Europe. One of the consequences of this was a rapid increase in unemployment. Germany, whose economy relied heavily on investment from the United States, suffered more than any other country in Europe.

Before the crash, 1.25 million people were unemployed in Germany. By the end of 1930 the figure had reached nearly 4 million. Even those in work suffered as many were only working part-time. With the drop in demand for labour, wages also fell and those with full-time work had to survive on lower incomes. Hitler, who was considered a fool in 1928 when he predicted economic disaster, was now seen in a different light. People began to say that if he was clever enough to predict the depression maybe he also knew how to solve it.

In the General Election that took place in September 1930, the Nazi Party increased its number of representatives in parliament from 14 to 107. Hitler was now the leader of the second largest party in Germany.

The German Social Democrat Party was the largest party in the Reichstag, it did not have a majority over all the other parties, and the SPD leader, Hermann Muller, had to rely on the support of others to rule Germany. After the SPD refused to reduce unemployment benefits, Mueller was replaced as Chancellor by Heinrich Bruening. However, with his party only having 87 representatives out of 577 in the Reichstag, he also found it extremely difficult to gain agreement for his policies.

Hitler used this situation to his advantage, claiming that parliamentary democracy did not work. TheNSDAP argued that only Hitler could provide the strong government that Germany needed. Hitler and other Nazi leaders travelled round the country giving speeches putting over this point of view.

What Hitler said depended very much on the audience. In rural areas he promised tax cuts for farmers and government actin to protect food prices. In working class areas he spoke of redistribution of wealth and attacked the high profits made by the large chain stores. When he spoke to industrialists, Hitler concentrated on his plans to destroy communism and to reduce the power of the trade union movement. Hitler's main message was that Germany's economic recession was due to the Treaty of Versailles. Other than refusing to pay reparations, Hitler avoided explaining how he would improve the German economy.

With a divided Reichstag, the power of the German President became more important. In 1931 Hitler challenged Paul von Hindenburg for the presidency. Hindenburg was now 84 years old and showing signs of senility. However, a large percentage of the German population still feared Hitler and in the election Hindenburg had a comfortable majority.

Heinrich Bruening and other senior politicians were worried that Hitler would use his stormtroopers to take power by force. Led by Ernst Roehm, it now contained over 400,000 men. Under the terms of theTreaty of Versailles the official German Army was restricted to 100,000 men and was therefore outnumbered by the SA. In the past, those who feared communism were willing to put up with the SA as they provided a useful barrier against the possibility of revolution. However, with the growth in SA violence and fearing a Nazi coup, Bruening banned the organization.

In May 1932, Paul von Hindenburg sacked Bruening and replaced him with Franz von Papen. The new chancellor was also a member of the Catholic Centre Party and, being more sympathetic to the Nazis, he removed the ban on the SA. The next few weeks saw open warfare on the streets between the Nazis and the Communists during which 86 people were killed.

In an attempt to gain support for his new government, in July Franz von Papen called another election. Hitler now had the support of the upper and middle classes and the NSDAP did well winning 230 seats, making it the largest party in the Reichstag. However the German Social Democrat Party (133) and the German Communist Party (89) still had the support of the urban working class and Hitler was deprived of an overall majority in parliament.

Hitler demanded that he should be made Chancellor but Paul von Hindenburg refused and instead gave the position to Major-General Kurt von Schleicher. Hitler was furious and began to abandon his strategy of disguising his extremist views. In one speech he called for the end of democracy a system which he described as being the "rule of stupidity, of mediocrity, of half-heartedness, of cowardice, of weakness, and of inadequacy."

The behaviour of the NSDAP became more violent. On one occasion 167 Nazis beat up 57 members of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag. They were then physically thrown out of the building.

The stormtroopers also carried out terrible acts of violence against socialists and communists. In one incident in Silesia, a young member of the KPD had his eyes poked out with a billiard cue and was then stabbed to death in front of his mother. Four members of the SA were convicted of the rime. Many people were shocked when Hitler sent a letter of support for the four men and promised to do what he could to get them released.

Incidents such as these worried many Germans, and in the elections that took place in November 1932 the support for the Nazi Party fell. The German Communist Party made substantial gains in the election winning 100 seats. Hitler used this to create a sense of panic by claiming that German was on the verge of a Bolshevik Revolution and only the NSDAP could prevent this happening.

A group of prominent industrialists who feared such a revolution sent a petition to Paul von Hindenburgasking for Hitler to become Chancellor. Hindenberg reluctantly agreed to their request and at the age of forty-three, Hitler became the new Chancellor of Germany.

Although Hitler had the support of certain sections of the German population he never gained an elected majority. The best the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) could do in a election was 37.3 per cent of the vote they gained in July 1932. When Hitler became chancellor in January 1933, the Nazis only had a third of the seats in the Reichstag.

Soon after Hitler became chancellor he announced new elections. Hermann Goering called a meeting of important industrialists where he told them that the 1933 General Election could be the last in Germany for a very long time. Goering added that the NSDAP would need a considerable amount of of money to ensure victory. Those present responded by donating 3 million Reichmarks. As Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary after the meeting: "Radio and press are at our disposal. Even money is not lacking this time."

Behind the scenes Goering, who was minister of the interior in Hitler's government, was busily sacking senior police officers and replacing them with Nazi supporters. These men were later to become known as the Gestapo. Goering also recruited 50,000 members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) to work as police auxiliaries.

Hermann Goering then raided the headquarters of the Communist Party (KPD) in Berlin and claimed that he had uncovered a plot to overthrow the government. Leaders of the KPD were arrested but no evidence was ever produced to support Goering's accusations. He also announced he had discovered a communist plot to poison German milk supplies.

On 27th February, 1933, someone set fire to the Reichstag. Several people were arrested including a leading, Georgi Dimitrov, general secretary of the Comintern, the international communist organization. Dimitrov was eventually acquitted but a young man from the Netherlands, Marianus van der Lubbe, was eventually executed for the crime. As a teenager Lubbe had been a communist and Hermann Goering used this information to claim that the Reichstag Fire was part of a KPD plot to overthrow the government.

Hitler gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night."Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers".KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.

Thousands of members of the Social Democrat Party and Communist Party were arrested and sent to recently opened to concentration camp. They were called this because they "concentrated" the enemy into a restricted area. Hitler named these camps after those used by the British during the Boer War.

Left-wing election meetings were broken up by the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and several candidates were murdered. Newspapers that supported these political parties were closed down during the 1933 General Election.

Although it was extremely difficult for the opposition parties to campaign properly, Hitler and the Nazi party still failed to win an overall victory in the election on 5th March, 1933. The NSDAP received 43.9% of the vote and only 288 seats out of the available 647. The increase in the Nazi vote had mainly come from the Catholic rural areas who feared the possibility of an atheistic Communist government.

After the 1933 General Election Hitler proposed an Enabling Bill that would give him dictatorial powers. Such an act needed three-quarters of the members of the Reichstag to vote in its favour.

 

Continued

All the active members of the Communist Party, were in concentration camps, in hiding, or had left the country (an estimated 60,000 people left Germany during the first few weeks after the election). This was also true of most of the leaders of the other left-wing party, Social Democrat Party (SDP). However, Hitler still needed the support of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP) to pass this legislation. Hitler therefore offered the BVP a deal: vote for the bill and the Nazi government would guarantee the rights of the Catholic Church. The BVP agreed and when the vote was taken, only 94 members of the SDP voted against the Enabling Bill.

Hitler was now dictator of Germany. His first move was to take over the trade unions. Its leaders were sent to concentration camps and the organization was put under the control of the Nazi Party. The trade union movement now became known as the Labour Front.

Soon afterwards the Communist Party and the Social Democrat Party were banned. Party activists still in the country were arrested. A month later Hitler announced that the Catholic Centre Party, theNationalist Party and all other political parties other than the NSDAP were illegal, and by the end of 1933 over 150,000 political prisoners were in concentration camps. Hitler was aware that people have a great fear of the unknown, and if prisoners were released, they were warned that if they told anyone of their experiences they would be sent back to the camp.

It was not only left-wing politicians and trade union activists who were sent to concentration camp. The Gestapo also began arresting beggars, prostitutes, homosexuals, alcoholics and anyone who was incapable of working. Although some inmates were tortured, the only people killed during this period were prisoners who tried to escape and those classed as "incurably insane".

Hitler's Germany became known as a fascist state. Fascist was originally used to describe the government of Benito Mussolini in Italy. Mussolini's fascist one-party state emphasized patriotism, national unity, hatred of communism, admiration of military values and unquestioning obedience. Hitler was deeply influenced by Mussolini's Italy and his Germany shared many of the same characteristics.

The German economic system remained capitalistic but the state played a more prominent role in managing the economy. Industrialists were sometimes told what to produce and what price they should charge for the goods that they made. The government also had the power to order workers to move to where they were required.

By taking these powers Hitler's government was able to control factors such as inflation andunemployment that had caused considerable distress in previous years. As the government generally allowed companies to maintain their profit margins, industrialists tended to accept the loss of some of their freedoms.

 

Under fascism, most potential sources of opposition were removed. This included political parties and the trade union movement. However, Hitler never felt strong enough to take complete control of theGerman Army, and before taking important decisions he always had to take into consideration how the armed forces would react.

By the time Hitler gained power he had ceased to be a practising Christian. He did not have the confidence to abolish Christianity in Germany. In 1934 Hitler signed an agreement with Pope Pius XI in which he promised not to interfere in religion if the Catholic Church agreed not to become involved in politics in Germany.

The individual had no freedom to protest in Hitler's Germany. All political organizations were either banned or under the control of the Nazis. Except for the occasional referendum, all elections, local and national, were abolished.

All information that people in Germany received was selected and organized to support fascist beliefs. As Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels kept a close check on the information provided by newspapers, magazines, books, radio broadcasts, plays and films.

Hitler, who had been deeply influenced by his own history teacher, was fully aware that schools posed a potential threat to the dominant fascist ideology. Teachers who were critical of Hitler's Germany were sacked and the rest were sent away to be trained to become good fascists. Members of the Nazi youth organizations such as the Hitler Youth, were also asked to report teachers who questioned fascism.

As a further precaution against young people coming into contact with information and the government disapproved of, textbooks were withdrawn and rewritten by Nazis.

Brandt joined Hitler's inner circle and was given the rank of major-general in the Waffen-SS. He was also appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation.

By 1934 Hitler appeared to have complete control over Germany, but like most dictators, he constantly feared that he might be ousted by others who wanted his power. To protect himself from a possible coup, Hitler used the tactic of divide and rule and encouraged other leaders such as Hermann Goering,Joseph GoebbelsHeinrich Himmler and Ernst Roehm to compete with each other for senior positions.

One of the consequences of this policy was that these men developed a dislike for each other. Roehm was particularly hated because as leader of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) he had tremendous power and had the potential to remove any one of his competitors. Goering and Himmler asked Reinhard Heydrich to assemble a dossier on Roehm. Heydrich, who also feared him, manufactured evidence that suggested that Roehm had been paid 12 million marks by the French to overthrow Hitler.

Hitler liked Ernst Roehm and initially refused to believe the dossier provided by Heydrich. Roehm had been one of his first supporters and, without his ability to obtain army funds in the early days of the movement, it is unlikely that the Nazis would have ever become established. The SA under Roehm's leadership had also played a vital role in destroying the opposition during the elections of 1932 and 1933.

However, Hitler had his own reasons for wanting Roehm removed. Powerful supporters of Hitler had been complaining about Roehm for some time. Generals were afraid that the Sturm Abteilung (SA), a force of over 3 million men, would absorb the much smaller German Army into its ranks and Roehm would become its overall leader.

Industrialists such as Albert VoeglerGustav KruppAlfried KruppFritz Thyssen and Emile Kirdorf, who had provided the funds for the Nazi victory, were unhappy with Roehm's socialistic views on the economy and his claims that the real revolution had still to take place. Many people in the party also disapproved of the fact that Roehm and many other leaders of the SA were homosexuals.

Hitler was also aware that Roehm and the SA had the power to remove him. Hermann Goering andHeinrich Himmler played on this fear by constantly feeding him with new information on Roehm's proposed coup. Their masterstroke was to claim that Gregor Strasser, whom Hitler hated, was part of the planned conspiracy against him. With this news Hitler ordered all the SA leaders to attend a meeting in the Hanselbauer Hotel in Wiesse.

Meanwhile Goering and Himmler were drawing up a list of people outside the SA that they wanted killed. The list included Strasser, Kurt von Schleicher, Hitler's predecessor as chancellor, and Gustav von Kahr, who crushed the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.

On 29th June, 1934. Hitler, accompanied by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS), arrived at Wiesse, where he personally arrested Ernst Roehm. During the next 24 hours 200 other senior SA officers were arrested on the way to Wiesse. Many were shot as soon as they were captured but Hitler decided to pardon Roehm because of his past services to the movement. However, after much pressure from Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler, Hitler agreed that Roehm should die. At first Hitler insisted that Roehm should be allowed to commit suicide but, when he refused, Roehm was shot by two SS men.

Roehm was replaced by Victor Lutze as head of the SA. Lutze was a weak man and the SA gradually lost its power in Hitler's Germany. The Schutz Staffeinel (SS) under the leadership of Himmler grew rapidly during the next few years, replacing the SA as the dominant force in Germany.

The purge of the SA was kept secret until it was announced by Hitler on 13th July. It was during this speech that Hitler gave the purge its name: Night of the Long Knives (a phrase from a popular Nazi song). Hitler claimed that 61 had been executed while 13 had been shot resisting arrest and three had committed suicide. Others have argued that as many as 400 people were killed during the purge. In his speech Hitler explained why he had not relied on the courts to deal with the conspirators: "In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I become the supreme judge of the German people. I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason."

The Night of the Long Knives was a turning point in the history of Hitler's Germany. Hitler had made it clear that he was the supreme ruler of Germany who had the right to be judge and jury, and had the power to decide whether people lived or died.

In 1935 Heinrich Hoffman, who worked as a photographer for Adolf Hitler, was treated by Dr. Theodor Morell for gonorrhoea. Hoffman told Hitler about his new doctor and eventually he was asked to examine the leader of the Nazi Party. At the time Hitler was suffering from stomach cramps. According to Morell, this was being caused by "complete exhaustion of the intestinal system" and recommended the treatment of vitamins, hormones, phosphorus, and dextrose.

Hitler's personal physician, Karl Brandt, warned him he was in danger of being poisoned by these large dosages of drugs and vitamins. Hitler rejected Brandt's advice and replied: "No one has ever told me precisely what is wrong with me. Morrell's method of cure is so logical that I have the greatest confidence in him. I shall follow his prescriptions to the letter." Later he was to remark: "What luck I had to meet Morell. He has saved my life."

It was not long before Hitler began to feel unwell again. As well as stomach cramps he also suffered from headaches, double vision, dizziness and tinnitus. Morell began treating Hitler with intestinal bacteria "raised from the best stock owned by a Bulgarian peasant". Morell tested dozens of unknown drugs on Hitler. This included biologicals from the intestines of male animals and amphetamines.

In the 1933 Election campaign, Hitler had promised that if he gained power he would abolishunemployment. He was lucky in that the German economy was just beginning to recover when he came into office. However, the policies that Hitler introduced did help to reduce the number of people unemployed in Germany.

These policies often involved taking away certain freedoms from employers. The government banned the introduction of some labour-saving machinery. Employers also had to get government permission before reducing their labour force. The government also tended to give work contracts to those companies that relied on manual labour rather than machines. This was especially true of the government's massive motorway programme. As a result of this scheme Germany developed the most efficient road system in Europe.

Hitler also abolished taxation on new cars. A great lover of cars himself, and influenced by the ideas ofHenry Ford, Hitler wanted every family in Germany to own a car. He even became involved in designing the Volkswagen (The People's Car).

Hitler also encouraged the mass production of radios. In this case he was not only concerned with reducing unemployment but saw them as a means of supplying a steady stream of Nazi propaganda to the German people.

Youth unemployment was dealt with by the forming of the Voluntary Labour Service (VLS) and the Voluntary Youth Service (VYS), a scheme similar to the Civilian Conservation Corps introduced byFranklin D. Roosevelt in the United States. The VYS planted forests, repaired river banks and helped reclaim wasteland.

Hitler also reduced unemployment by introducing measures that would encourage women to leave the labour market. Women in certain professions such as doctors and civil servants were dismissed, while other married women were paid a lump sum of 1000 marks to stay at home.

By 1937 German unemployment had fallen from six million to one million. However, the standard of living for those in employment did not improve in the same way that it had done during the 1920s. With the Nazis controlling the trade unions, wage-rates did not increase with productivity, and after a few years of Hitler's rule workers began to privately question his economic policies.

In Mein Kampf Hitler made it absolutely clear that he had a deep hatred of the Jewish race. However,anti-Semitism did cause difficulties for Hitler when he was trying to gain power in Germany. Jewish businessmen in Germany and the rest of the world were occasionally able to use their influence to prevent anti-Semitic ideas being promoted.

Henry Ford was forced to stop publishing anti-Semitic attacks in the United States after the Jewish community organized a boycott of Ford cars in the late 1920s. Lord Rothermere, who used his newspaper, The Daily Mail, to argue for Hitler's policies abruptly withdrew his support in 1930. Later that year, Rothermere told Hitler that Jewish businessmen had withdrawn advertising from the newspaper and he had been forced to "toe the line".

Aware of the power of Jewish money, Hitler began to leave out anti-Semitic comments from his speeches during elections. This was one of the major factors in the increase in financial contributions from German industrialists in the 1933 General Election. His change in tactics was so successful that even Jewish businessmen began contributing money to the National Socialist German Workers Party.

Once in power Hitler began to express anti-Semitic ideas again. Based on his readings of how blacks were denied civil rights in the southern states in America, Hitler attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews in Germany that they would emigrate. The campaign started on 1st April, 1933, when a one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops took place. Members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) picketed the shops to ensure the boycott was successful.

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport.

Germans were also encouraged not to use Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jewish civil servants, teachers and those employed by the mass media were sacked. Members of the SA put pressure on people not to buy goods produced by Jewish companies. For example, the Ullstein Press, the largest publisher of newspapers, books and magazines in Germany, was forced to sell the company to the NSDAP in 1934 after the actions of the SA had made it impossible for them to make a profit.

Many Jewish people who could no longer earn a living left the country. The number of Jews emigrating increased after the passing of the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race in 1935. Under this new law Jews could no longer be citizens of Germany. It was also made illegal for Jews to marry Aryans.

The pressure on Jews to leave Germany intensified. Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrichorganized a new programme designed to encourage Jews to emigrate. Crystal Night took place on 9th-10th November, 1938. Presented as a spontaneous reaction of the German people to the news that a German diplomat had been murdered by a young Jewish refugee in Paris, the whole event was in fact organized by the NSDAP.

During Crystal Night over 7,500 Jewish shops were destroyed and 400 synagogues were burnt down. Ninety-one Jews were killed and an estimated 20,000 were sent to concentration camps. Up until this time these camps had been mainly for political prisoners. The only people who were punished for the crimes committed on Crystal Night were members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) who had raped Jewish women (they had broken the Nuremberg Laws on sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews).

After Crystal Night the numbers of Jews wishing to leave Germany increased dramatically. It has been calculated that between 1933 and 1939, approximately half the Jewish population of Germany (250,000) left the country. This included several Jewish scientists who were to play an important role in the fight against fascism during the war. A higher number of Jews would have left but anti-Semitismwas not restricted to Germany and many countries were reluctant to take them.

Once in power Hitler began to consider how he could expand the territory he controlled. Hitler's reading of history convinced him that Britain posed the main threat to his dream of a Germany that dominated Europe.

In the 1930s Britain still had an empire that covered a quarter of the world. In the past Britain had reacted swiftly to any country that had threatened her empire or attempted to become the main power in mainland Europe.

Hitler respected the British and considered them to share many of the qualities possessed by Germans. In Mein Kampf he argued that to achieve his foreign policy objectives, Germany would probably have to form an alliance with Britain. "No sacrifice," Hitler wrote, was "too great if it was a necessary means of gaining England's friendship."

Continued

In his first few years in power Hitler had meetings with several British politicians and diplomats. He discovered that the British now tended to believe that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were too harsh on the defeated countries and that Britain was unlikely to declare war if Germany ignored them. Hitler also became aware that the British had a strong dislike of communism and feared a Europe dominated by the Soviet Union.

France was more committed to the Treaty of Versailles but Hitler guessed she would be unwilling to take action against Germany without support of the British. Hitler therefore felt he was in a strong position. With Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president of the United States, making it clear that he would not interfere in European disputes and both Italy and Japan having right-wing governments sympathetic to Germany, Hitler felt he was in a position to make a move.

In October 1933, Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations and claimed that he had done so because of the failure of the disarmament talks. Hitler argued that under the Treaty of Versailles Germany was militarily weak. He said that Germany had been willing to keep to this state of affairs if other countries disarmed. As this had not happened, Germany now had to take measures to protect herself.

In the months that followed, Hitler trebled the size of the German Army and completely ignored the restrictions on weapons that had been imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. By 1935, when it was clear that no action was going to be taken against Germany for breaking the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler felt strong enough to introduce military conscription.

Hitler was not sure how far he could go and was constantly looking for clues that would reveal at what point Britain and France would go to war with Germany. Hitler was heartened when Benito Mussoliniwas allowed to send his army Ethiopia in October 1935 without any serious political reaction.

Hitler knew that both France and Britain were militarily stronger than Germany. However, he became convinced that they were unwilling to go to war. He therefore decided to break another aspect of theTreaty of Versailles by sending German troops into the Rhineland.

The German generals were very much against the plan, claiming that the French Army would win a victory in the military conflict that was bound to follow this action. Hitler ignored their advice and on 1st March, 1936, three German battalions marched into the Rhineland.

The French government was horrified to find German troops on their border but were unwilling to take action without the support of the British. The British government argued against going to war over the issue and justified its position by claiming that "Germany was only marching into its own back yard.".

Hitler's gamble had come off and, full of confidence, he began to make plans to make Austria part of Germany (Anschluss). In February, 1938, Hitler invited Kurt von Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, to meet him at Berchtesgarden. Hitler demanded concessions for the Austrian Nazi Party. Schuschnigg refused and after resigning was replaced by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the leader of the Austrian Nazi Party. On 13th March, Seyss-Inquart invited the German Army to occupy Austria and proclaimed union with Germany.

After his success in Austria Hitler was now in a good position to take on Czechoslovakia. The country had been created in 1918 from territory that had previously been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As well as the seven million Czechs, two million Slovaks, 700,000 Hungarians and 450,000 Ruthenians there were three and a half million German speaking people living in Czechoslovakia.

Although Czechoslovakia had never been part of Germany, these people liked to call themselves Germans because of their language. Most of these people lived in the Sudetenland, an area on the Czechoslovakian border with Germany. The German speaking people complained that the Czech-dominated government discriminated against them. German's who had lost their jobs in the depression began to argue that they might be better off under Hitler.

Hitler wanted to march into Czechoslovakia but his generals warned him that with its strong army and good mountain defences Czechoslovakia would be a difficult country to overcome. They also added that if Britain, France or the Soviet Union joined on the side of Czechoslovakia, Germany would probably be badly defeated. One group of senior generals even made plans to overthrow Hitler if he ignored their advice and declared war on Czechoslovakia.

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, met Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden in Germany. Hitler threatened to invade Czechoslovakia unless Britain supported Germany's plans to takeover the Sudetenland. After discussing the issue with the Edouard Daladier(France) and Eduard Benes (Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain informed Hitler that his proposals were unacceptable.

Hitler was in a difficult situation but he also knew that Britain and France were unwilling to go to war. He also thought it unlikely that these two countries would be keen to join up with the Soviet Union, whose communist system the western democracies hated more that Hitler's fascist dictatorship.

Benito Mussolini suggested to Hitler that one way of solving this issue was to hold a four-power conference of Germany, Britain, France and Italy. This would exclude both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, and therefore increasing the possibility of reaching an agreement and undermine the solidarity that was developing against Germany.

The meeting took place in Munich on 29th September, 1938. Desperate to avoid war, and anxious to avoid an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladieragreed that Germany could have the Sudetenland. In return, Hitler promised not to make any further territorial demands in Europe.

On 29th September, 1938, Adolf HitlerNeville ChamberlainEdouard Daladier and Benito Mussolinisigned the Munich Agreement which transferred the Sudetenland to Germany.

When Eduard Benes, Czechoslovakia's head of state, protested at this decision, Neville Chamberlaintold him that Britain would be unwilling to go to war over the issue of the Sudetenland.

The German Army marched into the Sudetenland on 1st October, 1938. As this area contained nearly all Czechoslovakia's mountain fortifications, she was no longer able to defend herself against further aggression.

From his meetings with Neville Chamberlain, Hitler had discovered that this man would do anything to avoid military conflict. Chamberlain was aware of the appalling destruction that would take place during a modern war. He also feared that a large-scale war in Western Europe would weaken the countries involved to the point where they would be vulnerable to a communist takeover. Hitler told Albrecht Haushofer: "This fellow Chamberlain shook with fear when I uttered the word war. Don't tell me he is dangerous." Haushofer told his friend Fritz Hesse that "Hitler is now convinced that he can afford to do anything. Formerly he believed that we must have the maximum armaments because of the warlike menaces of the Powers striving to encircle us, but now he thinks that these Powers will crawl on all fours before him!"

Confident that Britain and France would not interfere as long as Germany headed east towards theSoviet Union, Hitler began to make plans for his next step. Poland was the obvious choice as it was in the east and included areas of land taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler began to make speeches demanding the return of Danzig, and German access to East Prussia through Poland.

Neville Chamberlain now changed tactics in an attempt to convince Hitler that Britain would indeed go to war if Germany continued to invade other countries. He made a speech in the House of Commonspromising to support Poland if it were attacked by Germany. The British government also sent diplomats to the Soviet Union to talk to Joseph Stalin about the possibility of working together against Germany.

The British government were still uncertain about signing a military agreement with the Soviet Union, and while they hesitated Germany stepped in and signed one instead. The Nazi-Soviet Pact took the world by surprise. Fascists and communists had always been enemies. However, both Hitler and Stalin were opportunists who were willing to compromise for short-term gain.

In August 1939, a group of concentration camp prisoners were dressed in Polish uniforms, shot and then placed just inside the German border. Hitler claimed that Poland was attempting to invade Germany. On 1st September, 1939, the German Army was ordered into Poland.

Hitler, who wanted a series of localized wars, was surprised when Neville Chamberlain declared war onGermany. Even after it happened he found it difficult to believe that during the first few months of the war he genuinely believed that Britain would still negotiate a peace settlement.

For most of the war Hitler lived underground in a concrete shelter at his headquarters in East Prussia. It was here that Hitler controlled the German war effort. At first he was extremely successful. Employing fast-moving tanks backed up with air support, Germany defeated Poland in four weeks. This victory was followed by the occupation of Norway (four weeks), Netherlands (five days), Belgium(three weeks) and France (six weeks). The German Army was amazed at how quickly they defeated these countries and they became convinced that Hitler was a military genius.

The English Channel meant that these Blitzkrieg tactics could not be continued against Britain. Hitler had great respect for Britain's navy and airforce and feared that his forces would suffer heavy casualties in any invasion attempt. Hitler, who had not seen the sea until he was over forty, lacked confidence when it came to naval warfare. As he told his naval commander-in-chief: "On land I am a hero. At sea I am a coward."

At this stage Hitler still hoped that Britain would change sides or at least accept German domination of Europe. His dreams of a large German empire were based on the empire created by the British during the nineteenth century. Although Hitler was often guilty of extreme arrogance he lacked confidence and tended to hesitate when dealing with Britain.

Immediately after the defeat of France in June 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered his generals to organize the invasion of Britain. The invasion plan was given the code name Operation Sealion. The objective was to land 160,000 German soldiers along a forty-mile coastal stretch of south-east England.

Within a few weeks the Germans had assembled a large armada of vessels, including 2,000 barges in German, Belgian and French harbours. However, Hitler's generals were very worried about the damage that the Royal Air Force could inflict on the German Army during the invasion. Hitler therefore agreed to their request that the invasion should be postponed until the British airforce had been destroyed.

On the 12th August the German airforce began its mass bomber attacks on British radar stations, aircraft factories and fighter airfields. During these raids radar stations and airfields were badly damaged and twenty-two RAF planes were destroyed. This attack was followed by daily raids on Britain. This was the beginning of what became known as the Battle of Britain.

Although plans for an invasion of Britain were drawn up Hitler was never very enthusiastic about them and they were eventually abandoned on October 12, 1940. Instead, Hitler attempted to batter Britain into submission by organising a sustained night-bombing campaign.

Frustrated by his lack of immediate success over Britain. Hitler began to concentrate his attentions on Eastern Europe. After taking over Poland, Germany now shared a frontier with the Soviet Union.

In Mein Kampf and in numerous speeches Hitler claimed that the German population needed more living space. Hitler's Lebensraum policy was mainly directed at the Soviet Union. He was especially interested in the Ukraine where he planned to develop a German colony. The system would be based on the British occupation of India: "What India was for England the territories of Russia will be for us... The German colonists ought to live on handsome, spacious farms. The German services will be lodged in marvellous buildings, the governors in palaces... The Germans - this is essential - will have to constitute amongst themselves a closed society, like a fortress. The least of our stable-lads will be superior to any native."

Hitler intended to force Norwegians, Swedes and Danes to move to these territories in the East. Hitler believed that the Blitzkrieg tactics employed against the other European countries could not be used as successfully against the Soviet Union. He conceded that due to its enormous size, the Soviet Union would take longer than other countries to occupy.

Stalin's response to France's defeat in the summer of 1940 was to send Vyacheslav Molotov to Berlin for discussions. Molotov was instructed to draw out these talks for as long as possible. Stalin knew that if Adolf Hitler did not attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 he would have to wait until 1942. No one, not even someone as rash as Hitler, would invade the Soviet Union in the winter, he argued.

Germany was now in a strong negotiating position and found it impossible to agree to Hitler's demands. As soon as talks broke-up, Hitler ordered his military leaders to prepare for Operation Barbarossa. The plan was for the invasion of the Soviet Union to start on the 15th May, 1941. Hitler believed that this would give the German Army enough time to take control of the country before the harsh Soviet winter set in.

Hitler's plan was to attack the Soviet Union in three main army groups: in the north towards Leningrad, in the centre towards Moscow and in the south towards Kiev. The German High Command argued that the attack should concentrate on Moscow, the Soviet Union's main communication centre. Hitler rejected the suggestion and was confident that the German army could achieve all three objectives before the arrival of winter.

There was also disagreement about Hitler's plans for the territory captured in the Soviet Union. Himmler's SS rather than the army was to take control. The SS were instructed to wipe out all aspects of communism in the Soviet Union. Communist officials should be executed and, as the Russians were 'sub-human', ordinary conventions of behaviour towards captured soldiers did not apply. It is estimated that during the first year of invasion, over a million communists were executed by the SS. Senior officers objected on tactical as well as humanitarian grounds. They argued that knowledge that they faced death or torture would encourage the Soviets to carry on fighting instead of surrendering.

Continued

Hitler, as always, was unwilling to listen to opposing arguments. If his advisers persisted in disagreeing with him they were dismissed. Of the seventeen field-marshals only one managed to keep his post throughout the war. Thirty-six colonel-generals were also involved in advising Hitler during theSecond World War. Of these, twenty-six were sacked or executed. As seven were killed in action, only three managed to hold on to their positions during the war.

Hitler's unwillingness to listen to information that might lead him to change his desired goals constantly caused him problems during the war. This was especially true of his attack on the Soviet Union, when he ignored warnings concerning winter weather and poor road conditions. Instead he relied on information that suggested that the morale in the Red Army was extremely low and that they would rather surrender than be involved in a long drawn-out struggle with Germany. Hitler was so confident of early success that the German Army was sent into the Soviet Union with equipment for only a summer campaign.

At first the German forces made good progress and important cities such as Riga and Kiev were taken. However, the heavy rains in October interfered with the speed and efficiency of Germany's tanks. This was followed by heavy snow in November and December that brought Germany's advance to a halt. Hitler refused to accept his mistake and ignored suggestions that the German army should make a tactical withdrawal.

After taking over Poland Hitler had another three and a half million Jews under his control. For a time there was talk of deporting all Jews to Madagascar or keeping them confined to a small area in Poland.

The number of Jews under Hitler's control grew as German forces advanced deeper into the Soviet Union. Over two million Jews lived in the Soviet Union and most of them lived in the areas under German occupation. It was while the SS were rounding up the Jews in the Soviet Union that Hitler decided on what became known as the Final Solution.

In 1942, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary about Hitler's plans: "The Fuehrer... expressed his determination to clean up the Jews in Europe... Not much will remain of the Jews. About sixty per cent of them will have to be liquidated; only about forty per cent can be used for forced labour."

Special units from the SS were set up under the control of Heinrich Himmler to carry out this extermination programme. At first the victims were shot but, with a high proportion of those involved in the killings suffering from nervous breakdowns a more impersonal method was developed.

By the beginning of 1942 over 500,000 Jews in Poland and Russia had been killed by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS). At the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich chaired a meeting to consider what to do with the large number of Jews in Germany's concentration camps. Also at the meeting were Heinrich MullerAdolf Eichmann and Roland Friesler.

Those at the meeting eventually decided on what became known as the Final Solution. From that date the extermination of the Jews became a systematically organized operation. After this dateextermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers including Belzec (15,000 a day), Sobibor (20,000), Treblinka (25,000) and Majdanek (25,000).

It was decided to make the extermination of the Jews a systematically organized operation. After this date extermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers including Belzec (15,000 a day), Sobibor (20,000), Treblinka (25,000) and Majdanek (25,000). It has been estimated that between 1942 and 1945 around 18 million were sent to extermination camps. Of these, historians have estimated that between five and eleven million were killed.

Except for the execution of Ernst Roehm, Hitler never showed any signs of remorse when people died because of his actions. It was reported that Hitler used to laugh when Joseph Goebbels described the sufferings of the Jews.

Hitler also showed little concern over the numbers of Germans who died. Late in the war, when all chance of victory had disappeared, he gave orders that resulted in thousands of German soldiers being unnecessarily killed. When commanders refused to carry out these orders he had them executed. Hitler never showed any signs of regret for these actions. He once remarked that a guilty conscience was a Jewish invention.

At the start of the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the intention of theUnited States to remain neutral. Roosevelt was personally hostile to Hitler's Nazi dictatorship but he was aware that the American people had no desire to become involved in the war. However, Roosevelt did arrange for Britain to receive supplies and loans that enabled her to continue fighting the war.

Hitler believed that he would eventually be forced to fight the United States but he wanted to make sure that he controlled Europe before that happened. He gave strict instructions that German submarines should avoid firing on ships that were likely to be carrying American passengers. He also attempted to persuade his Japanese allies to attack the Soviet Union and to leave the United States alone. They ignored Hitler's advice and on December 7, 1941, the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States.

Hitler, who had not been told of Japanese plans, was furious at first that the United States had been dragged into the war. Hitler, who had previously called the Japanese "honorary Aryans" claimed that this is what happens what your allies are not Anglo-Saxons.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan but did not mention Germany in his speech. It was still possible for Hitler to postpone the war with the United States but he decided to honour his treaty obligations with Japan, and on December 11 announced that Germany was at war with the United States. Once again he became a victim of his own prejudice. Hitler claimed that America had been "corrupted by Jewish and African blood" and would be no match for Aryans.

In the second campaign on the Soviet Union Hitler concentrated his attack on Stalingrad. During the winter of 1941-42 the Soviets had reorganised their defences and were able to halt the German advances. In the autumn of 1942 they counter-attacked and by November the German Sixth Army was surrounded. The German Army commander in the Soviet Union, Freidrich Paulus, asked permission to break out, but Hitler, refusing to believe the Soviets could beat Germany in battle, told Paulus to stand and fight. On February 2, 1943, Paulus and the Sixth Army were forced to surrender. Out of the 265,000 men, 100,000 had been killed, 34,000 wounded and 90,000 taken prisoner.

Once again Hitler refused to accept responsibility and failed to learn from the defeat. He blamedHermann Goering and the Luftwaffe for not providing the Sixth Army with the necessary support. He also claimed that he was travelling by train during an important stage of the battle and was therefore not in a position to direct operations which would have enabled the Sixth Army to defeat the Soviet forces.

The German defeat at Stalingrad was the turning point in the war. The Soviet army now began to advance from the East. For the rest of the war Germany was on the retreat.

Hitler had always found it difficult to cope with defeat. He refused to believe he was guilty of mistakes and instead accused those around him of betrayal. Hitler began to suffer from depression and his insomnia became worse.

In 1943 Hitler's health deteriorated rapidly. He was constantly ill with stomach pains, headaches, nausea, shivering fits and diarrhoea and was now completely dependent on the treatment of DrTheodor Morell. In September 1944, Hitler suffered a heart attack and was forced to spend several days in bed. He also showed signs of Parkinson's disease. Morell was now sent away and Hitler turned to Dr Karl Brandt.

Hitler was constantly tired. He rarely got out of bed before 11.00 a.m. At noon he was informed of the latest military developments. After quickly considering the news Hitler issued his orders to the relevant military personnel. After Germany's defeat at Stalingrad, Hitler was unwilling to discuss the war outside these conferences and refused to read reports that gave bad news. His secretaries, for example, were ordered not to mention the war in Hitler's presence.

Hitler would then have a long lunch followed by an afternoon nap. When Hitler was asleep no one was allowed to disturb him. Even when important events were taking place, such as the allied landing inNormandy, Hitler was left to carry on sleeping.

Whereas Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt made use of radio broadcasts to raise the morale of their people. Hitler remained virtually silent. After the German defeat at Stalingrad, Hitler only made two public speeches and five radio broadcasts. Nor did he make visits to bombed areas ofGermany. Hitler also avoided contact with injured German soldiers and rarely visited the front.

By 1943, it became clear to many senior German officers that to continue fighting a war on two fronts was bound to end in failure. It was proposed that Germany should negotiate a peace with Britain and the United States, which would then allow them to concentrate their efforts on defeating the Soviet Union.

Hitler rejected this idea. He knew that the allies would insist on his removal before agreeing to a deal with Germany. Some senior officers decided that the only solution was to assassinate Hitler. In 1943 seven assassination attempts were planned but none of them was successfully carried out.

The most dramatic of these attempts was the July Plot. On July 20, 1944, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who was attending one of Hitler's military conferences, placed a bomb in a briefcase under the table. When the bomb exploded it killed four people and seriously injured ten others, but Hitler only suffered minor cuts and burns.

Over the next few months most of those involved in plot to kill Hitler, including Wilhelm CanarisCarl GoerdelerJulius LeberUlrich HassellHans OsterPeter von WartenburgHenning von Tresckow,Ludwig BeckErwin von Witzleben and Erich Fromm were either executed or committed suicide.

It is estimated that around 4,980 Germans were executed after the July Plot. Hitler decided that the leaders should have a slow death. They were hung with piano wire from meat-hooks. Their executions were filmed and later shown to senior members of both the NSDAP and the armed forces.

Hitler believed that General Erwin Rommel, Germany's most famous military leader, was also involved in the July Plot. Rommel was so popular that Hitler was unwilling to have him executed for treason. Rommel was therefore forced to commit suicide and the public was told that he had died of a heart attack.

In January 1945, the Soviet troops entered Nazi Germany. Hitler was forced to leave his headquarters in East Prussia and moved south to Berlin. Soon afterwards he was joined by his mistress, Eva Braun. Hitler talked of the possibility that Britain and the United States would go to war with the Soviet Union and that Germany would be saved. He told one of his generals that "throughout history coalitions have always gone to pieces sooner or later." Hitler was right that the Soviet Union and the United States would eventually be in conflict, but unfortunately for him this did not happen until after the war had ended.

Hitler was now nearly fifty-five years old but looked much older. His hair had gone grey, his body was stooped, and he had difficulty in walking. His voice had become feeble and his eyesight was so poor that that he needed special lenses even to read documents from his 'Fuehrer typewriter'.

Hitler also developed a tremor in his left arm and leg. He had originally suffered from this during theFirst World War and also after the failure of the Munich Putsch in 1923. It was a nervous disorder that reappeared whenever Hitler felt he was in danger.

People who had not seen him for a few months were shocked by his appearance. One man remarked: "It was a ghastly physical image he presented. The upper part of his body was bowed and he dragged his feet as he made his way slowly and laboriously through the bunker from his living room... If anyone happened to stop him during this short walk (some fifty or sixty yards), he was forced either to sit down on one of the seats placed along the walls for the purpose, or to catch hold of the person he was speaking to... Often saliva would dribble from the comers of his mouth... presenting a hideous and pitiful spectacle."

Heinrich Himmler and Herman Goering both considered the possibility of overthrowing Hitler. One plan involved Himmler arresting Hitler and announcing to the German people that Hitler had retired due to ill-health. Their main concern was to do a deal with Britain and the United States that would prevent the Soviet Union occupying Germany. The German leaders were not only concerned about the imposition of communism, but also feared what Soviet soldiers anxious to gain revenge for the war crimes committed against their people by the SS might do. (Of the five million Soviet soldiers captured by the Germans an estimated three million were murdered or allowed to die of starvation.)

When the Soviet troops entered Germany it was suggested that Hitler should try to escape. Hitler rejected the idea as he feared the possibility of being captured. He had heard stories of how the Soviet troops planned to parade him through the streets of Germany in a cage. To prevent this humiliation Hitler decided to commit suicide.

Two days before his death Hitler married Eva Braun. That night he tested out a cyanide pill on his pet Alsatian dog, Blondi. Braun agreed to commit suicide with him. She could have become rich by writing her memoirs but she preferred not to live without Hitler.

The Soviet troops were now only 300 yards away from Hitler's underground bunker. Although defeat was inevitable, Hitler insisted his troops fight to the death. Instructions were constantly being sent out giving orders for the execution of any military commanders who retreated.

Hitler made a will leaving all his property to the Nazi Party. On 30th April, 1945, after saying their farewells, Hitler and Eva Braun went into a private room and took cyanide tablets. Hitler also shot himself in the head. His body was then cremated and his ashes were hidden in the Chancellery grounds.

The place where he was buried is now under the shadow of the Berlin Wall. The man who tried to increase the size of Germany had in fact become responsible for dividing it into two.

As a direct result of Hitler's actions, communism, which he had attempted to destroy, covered the whole of Eastern Europe, including half of Germany. The Jewish race, which he had tried to eliminate, had formed their own state and became a powerful force in world politics.

Hitler left a devastated Europe and with it a warning for the future. His regime had illustrated the dangers of nationalism, the obscenity of racism and the importance of democracy. It was an expensive lesson, but it did provide the basis for a better future.

 

Topic Details

Add Facts

Looking for more information about Death Camps ~ Page 3?

Search through millions of records to find out more.

Add

About this Memorial Page

×