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Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Sergeant-Major Edwin Austin on the Death of Heinrich Himmler, BBC interview

[recorded evidently on May 24, 1945]

Website note: Transcribed by this website from a sound recording. It may be the actual Sergeant Major Edwin Austin, but equally possibly an actor, reading his script. "Sergeant Major Austin" is very word-perfect, and only fluffs once in the final paragraph. Minor pauses are marked [. . .]


CHESTER WILMOT: Hello BBC, this is Chester Wilmot speaking from Lüneburg, where Himmler committed suicide last night.

One of the men with him, in the room at the time, at 31 Ülzener Strasse, was Sergeant Major Edwin Austin of Mortlake in Surrey, and I've brought him to the microphone to tell you what happened. Sergeant Major Austin.

SERGEANT MAJOR AUSTIN: Before I arrived, I didn't know it was Himmler. I was only told there was, uh, an important prisoner whom I was to guard. As he came into the room, not the arrogant figure which we all know, but dressed in an army shirt, a pair of underpants, with a blanket wrapped round him, I immediately recognised him as Himm-lah [his pronunciation]. [Three second pause].

Speaking to him in German, and pointing to an empty . . . couch, I said, "That's your bed. Get undressed."

[Pause]. He looked at me, and then looked at an interpreter and said, "He doesn't know who I am."

I said, "Yes, I do. You're Himm-lah. But still that's your bed. Get undressed."

He tried to stare me out. But I stared at him back . . . and eventually he dropped his eyes, and sat down on the bed and started to take orf [his pronunciation] his underpants. The doctor [Captain C J Wells] and the Colonel [Michael Murphy] then came into the room, and started to carry out a routine inspection, uh, looking for poison which we suspected . . . he probably had on 'im. He looked at between his toes, all over his body, under his armpits, in his ears, behind his ears, in his hair, and then he came to his mouth. He asked Himmler to open his mouth. He did, and he ran his tongue around his lips quite easily, but the doctor wasn't satisfied. He asked him to come nearer to the light. He came nearer to the light and opened his mouth. The doctor tried to put two fingers into his mouth to 'ave a, 'ave a good look inside, I, uh, suspected, and Himmler . . . drew his head away, and, clamping down on the doctor's fingers, crushed the phial of poison which he had been carrying in his mouth for hours.

The doctor said, " 'e's done it!" and the colonel and I instinctively jumped to him, the doctor held him by the throat as he was falling and tried to make him, uh, spit out the poison which he was swallowing, and the colonel and I held him. After a struggle, uh, lasting a quarter of an hour in which we tried all methods of artificial respiration under the directions of the doctor, he died, and when he died, we threw a blanket over 'im. And left 'im.


Related documents on this website: 

Heinrich Himmler dossier | Statement by Sergeant Britton on arrest of Himmler
Our dossier on death of Heinrich Himmler
Statement dated February 11, 1964, by former colonel (British Army) Michael Murphy on the death of Heinrich Himmler, May 1945
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