Showing posts with label OSS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OSS. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Himmler

The glass ampoule of potassium cyanide.  
"The poison phial, one of two he carried, surrendered by Himmler to the medical officer."



"During our interview the Prime Minister mentioned that [Heinrich] Himmler appeared to be trying to show that he wasn't so bad as painted, and [the] PM said, if it would save further expenditure of life, he would be prepared to spare even Himmler. 

I suggested there were plenty of islands he could be sent to."

Personal Diary Entry,
Admiral Sir A B
First Sea Lord 
April 1945

"Further to our meeting yesterday morning, I have been giving some serious thought to the little H situation. 

We cannot allow Himmler to take to the stand in any prospective prosecution, or indeed allow him to be interrogated by the Americans. Steps will therefore have to been taken to eliminate him as soon as he falls into our hands.

Please give this matter some thought, as if we are to take action we will have to expedite such an act with some haste. "

Lockhart minuted two days later in handwriting: "I agree, I have arranged for Mr Ingrams to go for a fortnight. R B-L, 12/May/1945."






"Further to my orders we successfully intercepted H.H. last night at Lüneburg before he could be interrogated. As instructed action was taken to silence him permanently. I issued orders that my presence at Lüneburg is not to be recorded in any fashion, and we may conclude that the H.H. problem is ended."

"Further to the good news of the death of Little H, I feel it is imperative that we maintain a complete news blackout on the exact circumstances of this most evil man's demise. I am sure that if it were to become public knowledge that we had had a hand in this man's demise, it would have devastating repercussions for this country's standing."

"I am also sure [continued Bracken] that this incident would complicate our relationship with our American brethren; under no circumstances must they discover that we eradicated 'Little H', particularly so since we know they were keen to interrogate him themselves.

I am of the opinion that the special SOE/PWE Committee and team can now be dissolved, even though Mallet is still negotiating with W.S. [Walter Schellenberg] in Sweden. Perhaps you could let me know your opinion on this matter."



Top of first page marked in ink: 
"Sep. Doc, Envelope 2387." 
and numbered: "HQ 0426"
THE CAPTURE OF HEINRICH HIMMLER AND OTHER LEADING NAZIS MAY 1945
[account by Sergeant Britton]

ON 6th May 1945 at Plön, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer SS, C in C of the Reserve Army, Reichsminister of the Interior, and Chief of Police, was dismissed from his offices by Grand Admiral Doenitz, the new head of the German state after Hitler's suicide. The dreaded Himmler, one of Hitler's earliest and most trusted colleagues had become head of the SS, Hitler's elite bodyguard, and as Chief of Police and Interior Minister had been responsible for the SS -- Death's Head Concentration Camp guards -- the largest mass-murder organisation known in history. Admiral Doenitz hated and distrusted Himmler and would have no truck with him, so the SS leader decided to go South to his home in Bavaria, taking with him a few escorts, medical advisers and ADCs. Disguising themselves and holding false papers, the party 12 strong, left Flensburg on 10th May. Himmler had documents purporting to show that he was "Ex Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger of a Special Armoured Company, attached to the Secret Field Police, demobilised on 3 May 1945". This curiously unsuitable cover-name meant that he was still in an automatic arrest category. He wore a civilian jacket, shaved off his moustache, removed his pince-nez glasses, and donned an eye patch over his left eye.

Crossing the Elbe estuary by boat they then mixed with a great mass of German troops of all services who were hemmed into the peninsula formed by the Rivers Elbe and Ems and the North Sea Coast. They moved South by easy stages to Bremervörde, a small town on the little river Oste which they reached on 18th May; though they could have crossed this river elsewhere, they decided to use the bridge which was guarded by British troops of the 51st Highland Division. Acting on British 2nd Army reports, a check point had been established here by 45 Field Security Section (attached to HQ 30 Corps) based at Zeven a few kilometres further south.

Himmler and two of his escorts, a Waffen SS Lt Col and a Major walked through Bremervörde on 22 May towards the check point, and a bizarre sight they must have been. The two escorts in front were clearly military men in long green overcoats, while the dreaded mass-murderer himself looked insignificant in an odd selection of civilian garments with a blue raincoat on top. To make matters worse, the two officers glanced back from time to time to ensure that their charge was still with them. This odd trio was picked up by an alert British infantry patrol, not knowing who they were, and were brought in to the check point. Here Sergeants Arthur Britton [author of this postwar report] and Ken Baisbrown of 45 Field Security Section, and Staff Sergeant John Hogg of 1003 Field Security Reserve Detachment made out the arrest documents after a quick scrutiny of the false identity papers, and realisation that all three were in an automatic arrest category. The true identity of the second greatest German war criminal of them all did not come to light for another couple of days.

He was allowed some refreshment and a floor to sleep on at the check point that night and next morning, 23 May, was sent on to No 031 Civil Internment Camp at Barnstedt; Sgt Britton drove the truck with the three prisoners, and on the way checked in at HQ 45 FSS at Zeven, where the OC Captain Excell sent them straight on to the Internment Camp for full processing. Around 7 pm that night Himmler asked for an interview with the Camp Commandant, Captain Thomas Selvester, and for some reason revealed his true identity. An Intelligence Officer was quickly sent by HQ 2nd Army nearby, bearing a specimen signature of Himmler's which was checked against the prisoner's signature, and identification was complete.

Two body searches and a complete change of clothing failed to reveal any hidden poisons, and at 9.45 pm Colonel Michael Murphy, Chief of Intelligence at HQ 2nd British Army arrived to take personal charge of the prisoner. He immediately arranged for a medical search to be carried out at Luneburg and at 10.45 pm it was done by Captain Wells RAMC, the HQ Medical Officer, now deceased [Wells died on August 15, 1975], but who left a written account of the affair.

Having searched the prisoner thoroughly he came to the mouth, where he noticed a small blue tit-like object sticking out of the lower sulcus of the left cheek. He slipped his finger into the prisoner's mouth to sweep out what he had seen but Himmler immediately clamped down on the doctor's fingers, they struggled, he wrenched his head away, crushed the glass capsule between his teeth, and the cyanide did its deadly work in some ten minutes.

The arch criminal underwent autopsy and formal identification by Allied staff officers and was buried in an unmarked grave outside Lüneburg on 25 May 1945.

While these events were going on 61 FSS and troops of 11th Armoured Division arrested Grand Admiral Dönitz and members of his interim government at Flensburg on 22 May while 53 FSS [attached to] the VIII Corps HQ Section at Lübeck arrested the Commandant of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Von Ribbentrop, Hitler's Foreign Minister was picked up to [sic] FS personnel in Hamburg at about the same time. 61 FSS had another big haul of wanted men on 23 May when they captured Colonel General Jodl, General Major Dethleffsen, Admiral Wagner, two Reichsministers and six State Secretaries. The Section's official report to GSI (b) at HQ VIII Corps described their difficulties in gathering in the bodies and their documents, as Press Teams and Shaef observers were wrongly allowed to accompany the arrest task force. These onlookers "lifted" souvenirs such as watches and wallets, which in the case of Category I arrests may well have contained highly important evidence.

Penciled note at foot of last page: "This story agreed by Mr Neil McDermott Q.C. formerly GSO1 (Int b) at HQ 21st Army Group, though he added that a gentle interrogation by M.I.5 reps also took place. TGR"

Each page is marked in ink, "Copy of document. Int. Corps Archives. A/E [Major (ret.) Alan Edwards] 7/10.05." Edwards states October 6, 2005: "I also found a most detailed report prepared by a Sgt Britton who arrested Himmler. This material was written at the time Mr Ramsey was preparing his article [for After the Battle Magazine]." 

Spelling and transcription errors have been corrected here. 
Items in brackets [ ] were inserted by this website 2005 and 2010.

Real History and the end of Heinrich Himmler

Statement dated February 11, 1964, by former colonel (British Army) Michael Murphy on the death of Heinrich Himmler, May 1945 (written to biographer Heinrich Fraenkel) (Univ of New Mexico, Heinrich Fraenkel papers). 


Monkham, Exford, Minehead, Somerset

[All handwritten:]

11 Feb 64
Dear Mr Fraenkel,

Thank you for your letter of 7th [March 1964] re Himmler. I enclose a note of what I remember of this man's last hours & you may take it they are accurate.

Mr Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote about this in a book some years ago but he is not accurate in all details. I wrote and told him so but I got no acknowledgement.

If I can be of any further assistance, let me know.

Yours sincerely
Michael Murphy.
[Colonel L M Murphy]



I remember very well the last hours of Himmler. There is no question that Himmler spent some time at the Intelligence Suspects Camp [Westertimke] where Capt Sylvester [sic. Selvester] met him and interrogated him. When I got there about 8 pm no attempt had been made to search Himmler and he and his officers were sitting at a table smoking cigars! He had two bodyguards [Werner Grothmann and Heinz Macher] (very big men) with him, and they had not been searched either. I turned the bodyguards out of the room and had them searched and confined. I then told Himmler I intended to search him, and told him to strip. He refused, saying, "I am Himmler." "I carry a letter for General Montgomery." I confess I don't know what happened to the letter. I never saw it. I told Himmler I did not care who he was, I intended to search him and take away his clothes. He asked what he could wear instead of his own clothes. I told him Battle Dress. Himmler said he wouldn't be seen dead in British Battle Dress. I then told him I intended to take him after searching to Army H.Q. -- about a 10 mile car ride., and if he didn't put on British Battle dress he would have to travel naked and might be rather cold! He then agreed. Stripped & his clothes were searched. The phial of cyanide was found in the lining of his jacket. During all my time with Himmler he had no form of refreshment.

It was clear to me that it was still possible for Himmler to have poison hidden about him, the most obvious places being his mouth and his buttocks. I therefore told him to dress and wishing to have a medical search conducted telephoned my G-II at my H.Q. and told him to get a Doctor to standby at a house I had had prepared for such men as Himmler. I and another officer then accompanied Himmler on the drive to this house.

On arrival we met the Doctor and told him what was wanted. Himmler stripped again and was naked except for his socks and boots. The Doctor started his examination with the mouth. He said, "Open" and H opened and immediately he saw a small black knob sticking out between a gap in the teeth on the right-hand side -- lower jaw. He shut his mouth at once. Once again the Dr said "Open" and H. opened. The Dr went closer, and with his fingers extended and closed inserted them into H's mouth. Immediately he bit hard -- hurt the Doctor and broke the phial. I dived for H's feet and threw him to the ground. We turned him on his tummy to try and stop him swallowing, and I shouted for a needle and cotton which arrived with remarkable speed! I pierced the tongue and with the cotton threaded through held the tongue out. But it was no good, with many convulsions H died in about 15 minutes.

I telephoned Gen Dempsey [British 2nd Army] to get permission to let the Press know H was dead, and we covered him with a blanket where he lay. D. said I must first get Russian approval. It was 24 hours before they arrived to view the body. Photos I have taken they would not believe. When they arrived they grudgingly agreed it might be Himmler.

As regards the capsule, this was minute -- certainly not an inch in Diameter [sic]. Himmler had no food or dinner in my presence and there is no doubt in my mind that from the time I met him to the time of his death one capsule was in his mouth. So far as I remember from the one taken from his clothes, this was of thin metal -- strong enough to withstand careful mastication and liquids -- especially if the other side of the mouth was used -- but not strong enough to withstand a decision to break(?) it.

I think the time of death was midnight 23/24 but I cannot be sure. I have no recollection of the autograph incident. H, was sure of himself & arrogant to the end. He was quite convinced that he would be taken to see Montgomery & was surprised at the firm treatment I gave him in getting rid of his bodyguard & searching him. I should have received a German General with more courtesy!



Comments by David Irving:
I am puzzled by Murphy's reference to taking the prisoner to "a house I had had prepared for such men as Himmler". Why not to his G-2 headquarters, or to 2nd Army headquarters? For that matter why not leave him at Selvester's camp for interrogation? We are entitled to suspect what the real purpose of the house was. Himmler was not the only high ranking war criminal to leave it dead. 


This account differs in significant terms from the account given by Capt T Selvester. A point at issue appears to be whether Selvester's officers conducted a proper search of Himmler and his two men before Colonel Murphy arrived, and -- not unreleated -- whether Himmler had anything to eat after his identification. Other sources state that he ate sandwiches. Murphy alone says (above) that he ate nothing. But others also described Himmler as chatting volubly with them on the drive over to 2nd Army.

Murphy's description of the capsule (of thin metal, no glass) is not only improbable but also unlike the standard issue Nazi suicide-capsule, e.g. the one found in Hermann Göring's property, which raises the possibility that Murphy did not in fact see it. It is possible that the one taken from Himmler's jacket was merely the empty screw-cap brass container; which they decided not to risk opening, and they did not realize that the glass ampoule had been removed. But would Himmler have retained the give-away brass casing, instead of throwing it aside? 

Since he did eat more than one thick British Army sandwich, it is unlikely he would have concealed the ampoule in his mouth. Finally, no other source, either at the time or later, confirms Murphy's remarkable story about piercing Himmler's tongue with needle and cotton.