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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.


Related documents on this website: 

Heinrich Himmler dossier
The capture of Heinrich Himmler and other Leading Nazis, May 1945, report by Sergeant Britton
Statement by Captain Donald McPherson who worked in the Control Commission for Germany
© Focal Point 2005 e-mail:  write to David Irving