Panton was a Daily Express journalist who
covered Berlin, like Louis Lochner and William
Shirer, for twelve years. His papers are in the
National Library of Australia. Attached to the
British Second Army HQ, he witnessed the events
after Himmler's death in May 1945.
Clipping from R
Selkirk Panton Papers, National Library of
Australia, MS 5807, folder 71.
London, Monday, May 28, 1945
HIS SIGNATURE INTO 48 PIECES
From SELKIRK PANTON: Luneburg, Sunday [May
AS Heinrich Himmler today
lay in his rain-soaked nameless grave somewhere on
the lonely Luneburg Heath his two aides -- a burly
colonel [Grothmann] and a slightly
built major [Macher] of the Waffen
S.S. -- were flown in a British transport plane to
Field-Marshal Montgomery's H.Q.
There they will undergo a further velvet glove
interrogation by our Intelligence officers in the
hope of getting more information.
With them in the plane went Himmler's personal
belongings and all the material British Army
doctors and detectives have been able to collect in
their examination of his body -- of all fingers, a
cast of the lower jaw and a death mask.
All the records of
conversations with Himmler before he crushed the
glass suicide phial in his mouth went with them
with the small amount of information
The two S.S. men did not know what was in the
bags and parcels the British escort guarded so
The cat and mouse game is still going on. These
men do not know that Himmler, their chief, is dead
and buried. We do not know whether they too,
conceal in their mouths a tiny glass phial with
cyanide of potassium which they will crush if we
are too tough.
We have not searched their mouths yet, for two
reasons. If they have phials there they will crush
them and die on our hands without divulging perhaps
vital information. If they have not phials in their
mouths they will know we have found out Himmler's
trick, and that he is dead.
And we do not want them to know that -- yet.
They tried to find out about Himmler this
morning. They asked for newspapers. They got them,
but only up to the day before Himmler died.
Before going to the plane they were taken out of
their small room in the wooden barracks of
Barnstedt P.o.W. cage for exercise.
They walked about Luneburg Heath, where their
chief is buried. escorted by British guards and an
Alsatian police dog that our men had captured from
German S.S. policemen here.
For all I know the two S.S. men may in their
stroll have kicked leaves over Himmler's grave. For
only a British major and three British sergeants
who buried him secretly yesterday know where it
At 21st Army Group headquarters the two Nazi
thugs will be questioned again. The evidence of
Himmler's identity collected at Luneburg will again
be examined by experts. Contact will be made with
Himmler's widow and his brother -- in Allied
Efforts are being made to locate Himmler's
dentist. Shaef does not want any Himmler mystery
cropping up later. The Supreme Command wants
indisputable proof that it was Himmler.
So far identity rests on this evidence: Himmler
said he was Himmler; his appearance, comparison of
his features with photographs, especially the
minute inspection of his ear, the correct replies
to trick questions; and most interesting of all,
Just before he took poison Himmler was asked to
sign his name. Without hesitation he wrote his
signature on a piece of paper. He was just going to
hand it back with the ink still wet when suddenly
he tore the paper into 48 pieces.
Over the week-end British officers have been
piecing the scraps of paper together again.
It is now stated that Himmler's signature on it
tallies with other specimens in our hands.
But why did Himmler, who freely admitted his
identity, want to make us believe it, and never
denied it after revealing it, tear up his signature
which would help to confirm his identity.
Possibly he feared we might write something
above it, such as a confession of having personally
ordered the horrors of Belsen