Posted Monday, July 8, 2002

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Items from the Fort Meade IRR file on Franz Konrad, now in the National Archives: summarised by David Irving in 1983
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On May 8, 1945 the Allies imprisoned at Bischofswiesen one S.S. Oberführer Wilhelm Spacil, former head of Amt II of the RSHA. He was masquerading as German army sergeant Joseph Aue in a Seventh Army prison camp at the time. Identified as an S.S. officer, he was arrested by C.I.C. detachment 307 there on June 12, 1945. In an attempt to buy his freedom, Spacil tried -- through his fanatical former commander Hauptsturmführer Gerhard Schlemmer -- to bribe the Americans. But Schlemmer was by this time an American double agent, and when Spacil told of a $1m cache he was prepared to reveal to the Americans, the trap was sprung.

To his new confidant Schlemmer, Spacil revealed fanciful details of Hitler's heroic death in the Berlin bunker, and when questioned, had added: "You can believe me! I have seen the Führer's tattered trousers, his blood-drenched coat, his diaries, and his letters to and from Eva Braun." They had been hidden for posterity -- diaries that Hitler had kept since 1923 on thin airmail paper. Spacil had advised the S.S. unit at Zell am See, where they were now hidden, not to burn them as he had been ordered.

Spacil was subjected to "repeated and lengthy interrogations" by the C.I.C. He had a small bird-like face and head, and looked rather a "likeable little fellow." He was intelligent and aggressive, but he was nervous about being locked up in a cell too long and became talkative when let out by his interrogating officers.

He stated that on May 5, 1945, an S.S. comrade, Hauptsturmführer Franz Konrad, had visited him at Taxenbach and told him, after swearing him to secrecy:

"Listen... I have the suit last worn by the Führer. ... It is bloody all over. On the right thigh the suit is all bloody tatters, and the breast was also torn. I put the suit in a zinc case, sealed it with lead, and buried it. I also had the whole exchange of letters between the Führer and Eva Braun to look through. I destroyed them. I kept the diaries of the Führer though. They were written on very thin airmail paper, and I buried them in zinc boxes too."

(Evidently Spacil's memory was at fault on detail. The C.I.C. agents concluded that he was withholding facts and details.)

Much of what Spacil revealed was substantiated. On S.S. orders, he said, he had removed the last remaining Reich funds and foreign securties at gunpoint from the Reich bank in Berlin and buried them in the Austrian Tyrol. On June 9, 1945, officers of MII Team 46-G, 7th Army HQs, accompanied by the secret agent Walter Hirschfeld, a former S.S. Leutnant now working for Seventh Army headquarters C.I.C., recovered this treasure trove from a forester, the S.S. man Reisinger -- sacks containing an estimated $25m of foreign currency and jewelry hidden at a sawmill at Taxenbach, near Zell-am-See in Austria. On the advice of G-5 of Seventh Army this treasure was handed over without counting to Military Government in Augsburg on June 11.

The 307th C.I.C. Detachment interrogated Spacil and reported on July 27. On July 31 he arrived at USFET Interrogaiton Center.

Spacil had controlled large sums of RSHA money and jewelry, and spread it around various caches in Austria. Some he gave to Konrad who forwarded some to his commanding officer Haufler, a short, stout, round-faced officer with blond hair and glasses, for safekeeping. Spacil told the Americans now that the Austrian-born S.S. Hauptsturmführer Konrad -- one of the late S.S. Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein's staff -- had boasted to him that he had "hidden Hitler's suit and diary." He had last seen Konrad on May 8th at the S.S. Remonteamt (Horse Farm) near Zell-am-See.

Konrad was known as "Ghetto" Konrad because of his odious role as Leiter für Werterfassung on the staff of the Höh. S.S. und Polizeiführer in Warsaw, during the liquidation of the 1943 Ghetto uprising. For this the Poles later hanged him. At the war's end Konrad was Verwaltungsführer beim S.S. Remonteamt at Fischhorn at Bruck-Fusch near Zell-am-See, Gau Salzburg. Here Fegelein's staff had made their temporary command post.

On August 11 a two man C.I.C. team (970-45) of the 307th Counter Intelligence Corps attached to Headquarters Seventh Army, based on Schloss Backnang near Stuttgart, reported to the local C.I.C. unit at Zell am See, having cleared through the headquarters of the C.I.C. at Fifth Army at Salzburg. They were Special Agent Robert A. Gutierrez, and Master Sergeant William J. Conner. (Both men are in 1983 still alive.) Their mission, arranged by agreement with USFET, was the arrest of Franz Konrad and Erwin Haufler. Their purpose:

"Previous investigation of Oberführer Wilhelm Spacil, head of Amt II, RSHA, had revealed that between 1 Apr 45 and the German capitulation on 8 May 45, Konrad and Haufler had been given charge of a number of the effects of Hitler, of Eva Braun, and of the family of Gruppenführer Fegelein. These effects included the diaries of Hitler, correspondence between Hitler and Eva Braun, and the suit supposed to have been worn by Hitler at the time of his death."

How to trace Konrad? A trap was set. American files reveal that on August 13, Walter Hirschfeld, "acting undercover as an S.S. officer" approached the wife of Johannes Göhler, Ursula, then living at the Hofer farm at Bruck, near Zell am See. (Ursula Göhler, incidentally, has a history of her own: is one of the few living witnesses of the exhumation of the mass graves at Katyn Forst in 1943, where the Russians had massacred ten thousand Poles.)

Ursula Göhler told Hirschfeld, in confidence, never suspecting that he was a C.I.C. agent, that Konrad had escaped American captivity on about May 25 and had gone to one Ursula von Bieler, a former S.S. nurse at Aufhausen, near Zell am See. Hirschfeld now went to that woman and tricked her into talking, using the same S.S. cover: she confirmed that Konrad had arrived on May 25, had obtained clothes and told him he was going to adopt the name "Franz Meier." The next family in his escape route, the Dollinger family, confirmed this and stated they had seen in his rucksack a long package of some 18x6x4 inches, tied with string, and a square parcel wrapped in white card, about 15" square. His former secretary Martha von Broskowitz, recalled when questioned by Hirschfeld that just before the end of the war Konrad had visited her and asked her to look after the long string-tied package, explaining it contained his personal letters; after his escape he had had the parcel collected from her.

With clearance of the British F.S.S. (Field Security Service?), on August 20, 1945, a C.I.C. agent (perhaps again Hirschfeld?) went to Schladming -- in the British Occupational Zone of Austria -- to seek out the relatives of Franz Konrad, purporting to be a good friend of Franz who had lost touch with him and wanted to find him. He found Konrad's widowed mother Maria living with a married daughter. Apart from visits in December 1944 and more recently in February they had not seen Franz, or so they said; but they agreed that a passing soldier, an S.S. Obersturmführer Sulzbacher, had met him near Zell am See, going under the name of Franz Meier; Konrad had told him that he had escaped captivity and was making for Switzerland.

The agent had gone on to Lietzen, also in the British Zone, called on Konrad's wife Agnes, again pretending to be an old friend. But she claimed not to have seen him since Easter Saturday, March 31. She had a niece Meier at Kirchberg, she added, which was two railroad stations from Kitzbühl. On the following day, the C.I.C. agent revealed his identity and interrogated her. She now admitted that Sulzbacher had visited her two days earlier.

On August 21, the Meier family at Kirchberg were interrogated. Kirchberg was part of the French zone in the Austrian Tyrol, near Kitzbühl. The Meiers revealed that Franz Konrad was now living at St Johann, and that he had boarded the train for Innsbruck that morning, and that he was due back that night.

That ended the search for Franz Konrad. Agents of the Zell am See section of the C.I.C. picked him up at Kirchberg railroad station at 9 P.M. He was quiet, gray-haired, clean-shaven but haggard, aged 39, height 187 cm. His papers were under the name of Franz Meier, he was dressed in German army trousers and a civilian jacket and shirt, but there was no doubt of his real identity. On his person were found 4,625 Reichsmarks (RSHA funds given him by Spacil) and one diamond brooch that had belonged to Fegelein. They were taken from him and he was handed over to Seventh Army C.I.C.

Konrad was held in Salzburg jail. Gutierrez interrogated him in German that day, August 21, without revealing how much he already knew from Spacil. Konrad admitted that he was going by the name Franz Meier, and working as Krankenpfleger im Lazarett in St Johann. He had escaped arrest at Zell am See on the Monday after Whitsun, May 21. Prodded about Hitler "diaries," he denied all knowledge of any. About letters, he said:

"You mean the letters of Eva Braun. I took nothing, I wasn't at Berchtesgaden. Everything was already there and it was burnt in the big boiler of the central heating at Fischhorn."

He claimed to have destroyed them.

"Es waren auch Briefe da von Hitler an Eva Braun. Ich habe einen Brief gelesen, den Hitler an Eva Braun nach dem Attentat vom 20. Juli geschrieben hat. 'Meine Hand ist noch zittrig von dem Anschlag auf mein Leben' -- das habe ich mir genau gemerkt -- und zum Schluß 'Ich bin voll Hoffnung auf den kommenden Sieg.' Es hat mir leid getan, das alles zu vernichten."

"Was wissen Sie von Tagebüchern?"

"Nichts. Ja, es waren auch Tagebücher dabei, jetzt fällt es mir ein. Richtige Tagebücher eigentlich nicht, nur insofern, es waren Konzepte der Briefe von Eva Braun an Hitler. Sie hat ihre Gedanken in Tagebüchern festgehalten. Es waren dickere Hefte, wie sie aussahen, wei ich nicht mehr. Das habe ich aber alles verheizt. Es hat etwa eine Stunde gedauert, um alles zu verbrennen."

Reminded now that he had told Spacil differently, Konrad stuck to his story, but admitted that the Hitler uniform had been with the Eva Braun Sachen "in einer Behelfsaktenkiste aus Blech." Very significantly, Konrad then claimed -- mendaciously, as I have photographs of the Americans burning the uniform in 1947! -- "den Anzug habe ich verbrannt, alles habe ich eingeheizt, nichts habe ich vergraben." And: "Gar nichts habe ich vergraben." And: "Von Tagebüchern weiss ich nur, da die beiden Hefte von der Eva Braun dabei waren."

He repeated his claim to have burned everything, adding more details: "Der ganze Ofen in der Zentralheizung war verstopft mit dem starken Kartonpapier." But Konrad mentioned another name, S.S. Hauptsturmführer Haufler, der ihm den Auftrag gegeben hatte, die Sachen die in seinem Büro lagen -- "Die Fotoalben lagen in einem Wäschekorb, der mit einem Tuch zugedeckt war" -- zu verbrennen. "Es hiess, es müsse ein Führer dabei sein und da habe ich das gemacht." (Later in October 1945 Konrad would explain: "Es war bestimmt so, daß ich den Auftrag zum Verbrennen von Haufler bekam, denn ich hatte ja auch den Schlüssel zu der Kammer.")

Questioned again about the documents, Konrad lamented:

"Glauben Sie mir, mir hat es leid getane, daß ich mir nicht wenigstens eine Unterschrift vom Führer herausgerissen habe, um sie mir als Andenken aufzuheben. Ich habe restlos alles verheizt."

This was also a lie, as he had kept such an autograph too, as he had the films, which he now claimed to have destroyed. "Die Briefe von Hitler und der Anzug -- ich weiß nicht, ob das in einer Kiste oder einem Koffer lag -- das war separat, diese Sachen von der Eva Braun."

Asked when he had "burned" it, he said, "Das war Anfang Mai, das lag aber schon wochenlang dort." He told other lies: "Gold habe ich von Spacil nicht bekommen." Questioned again about the priceless letters, Konrad admitted: "Ich habe mir freilich vor Augen gehalten, daß die Sachen einen nationalen Wert haben, aber aufgehoben habe ich nichts, es sollte ja alles verbrannt werden."

But then he recanted. He admitted that he had not burnt everything, that some relics had been cached.

"Was ich Ihnen jetzt erzähle, das ist die reine Wahrheit: den Anzug vom Führer habe ich. Ich habe auch einen Brief von Hitler an Eva Braun, und eine Originalunterschrift. Weiter habe ich ein Fotoalbum aufgehoben. All anderen Sachen habe ich verbrannt. Von Tagebüchern von Hitler weiß ich nichts, ich kenne nur die Hefte, in denen Eva Braun ihre Briefe an Hitler skizziert hat. Die habe ich auch verbrannt."

"Wo sind die Sachen jetzt?"

"Das ist weit von hier. Bei meinen Verwandten in Schladming habe ich alles hingebracht."

He corrected himself -- he had sent them there by car. Then he contradicted himself again: he had taken some in person, and sent some by car.

In a handwritten statement evidently made that same day (August 21), Konrad repeated his claim that 10-14 days before the capitulation he had, aided by one Sturmmann Franz Schuller, a kind of janitor at Fischhorn, burned Eva Braun's property in the central heating furnace on orders from Haufler.

He had first learned of the existence of these items at Fischhorn two weeks earlier. Haufler had showed him a laundry basket with photograph albums, told him they came from Eva's sister Gretl Braun (now Fegelein's widow), who would allow them to look at two albums -- they contained mostly formal photographs of state receptions and functions with Hitler -- but asked them not to look at the rest. The things to be burned were contained "in einem W schekorb sowie in einer Blechkiste."

The basket contained the photograph albums. The Blechkiste (officer's tin maneuver trunk) contained more albums and everything else including a yellow-brown cardboard box embossed with an E.

"Außer den angeführten Sachen," wrote Konrad, "habe ich noch verbrannt: Filme von Leica, Fotoalbum ca 5 Stück."

Konrad did not burn the following further items, he admitted: about five or ten albums which Haufler said Gretl particularly valued, some rolls of negatives, "sowie einen zerrissenen Anzug, wo ich annahm daß dieser von Hitler stammt." He took these together with his own valuable Briefmarkensammlung in person to his family home at Schladming. He neither saw nor hid or burnt any movie films, he said.

It was known that Standartenführer Waldemar Fegelein, the brother of the Gruppenführer, had been at Fischhorn during this period under investigation; probably Gretl too.

The C.I.C. went to get the documents from the relatives at Schladming. On August 22, 1945, Konrad was ordered to write this letter to his brother Fritz and to head it: "Kirchberg, 22.8.45." (With spelling and grammatical errors as shown.)

"Lieber Fritz!
   "Diesen Brief überbringen einige Herrn der amerikanischen Polizei, die mich in meinen derzeitigen Aufenthaltsort besucht haben. Ich bitte dich dringend, diesen Herrn alle Dinge zu zeigen, und wenn sie sich dafür interessieren auszuhändigen die ich im Laufe der Zeit zu euch geschickt, oder gebracht habe.
   "Um Komblikationen die mir schaden konnten zu vermeiden, bitte ich dich nochmals daß du den Herrn ebenso wie ich offene und klare Auskünfte über diese Dinge gibst nichts verschweigst und tatsächlich auch alles zeigst.
   "Mir geht es gut und ich hoffe, daß ich bald mehr hören laßen kann.
   "Richte an Mutter sowie an Willi und Mitzi recht viele Grüsse aus.
  "Dich und deine Frau grüßt herzlichst dein Bruder

A similar letter went to other relatives, undated: "Lieber Willi, Mitzi und liebe Mutter! "Die Überbringer dieses Schreibens sind von amerik. Geheimpolizei und haben mich in meinen derzeitigen Aufenthalt aufgestöbert. Sie verlangten von mir versch. Informationen die ich ihnen bereitwillig gegeben habe und haben mich als Dank dafür unbehelligt hier zurück gelassen, die Herrn interessieren sich für all die Dinge, die ich Euch im Laufe der Zeit zusandte oder gebracht habe. Anzüge, Briefe, Bilder, Autogramme, u.s.w. Die Herren haben keine Interesse mit den Lebensmittel die ich euch brachte und können weiterhin für mich aufbewahrt werden. Ich bitte euch nochmals den Herrn all diese Dinge zu zeigen, damit keine Unstimmigkeiten auftreten. "Mir selbst geht es gut und werde zu einen kommenden Zeitpunkt mehr schreiben. "Recht herzliche Grüsse an Alle. Grüsse an Mutter von "Franz."

On that day August 22 Gutierrez(?) interrogated members of Konrad's family. His nephew Rudolf Meier confirmed that Franz had been there in mid April, asking his (Rudolf's) wife to look after his valuable stamp collection (she had refused); and again late in May, with the exhaustion of a hunted man, arriving from Innsbruck -- where he had been several times -- and Kitzbühl, and now going by the name of Franz Meier; in his rucksack there appeared to be only clothing and personal effects. Meier helpfully revealed to the C.I.C. agents:

"Konrad asked me to stop in Schladming and to inquire of his mother, his brother, his sister, and his brother-in-law what had happened to the two trucklolads of goods he had sent there."

The goods apparently included radios, foodstuffs, liquor and trunks, and he dropped hints that he had "a terrific amount" of something near Taxenbach, Zell am See and Bruck.

Armed with this knowledge the C.I.C. again interrogated Franz Konrad on August 23. He made a 15-page typed statement about the Eva Braun property left at Fischhorn.

"Im Büro von Haufler," he repeated, "stand eine Blechkiste (Behelfsaktenkiste) und ein mit einem Tuch zugedeckter W schekorb."

They had been there about fourteen days when Konrad persuaded Haufler to move them to a safer adjacent room where fewer people went in and out all day; but about two days after that move, Haufler told him to burn everything. Konrad gained the impression that the tin trunk belonged to Eva Braun, while the albums in the laundry basket belonged to her sister, Gretl Braun.

He now denied seeing bloodstains on the torn Hitler uniform. That evening he also burned Himmler's personal files, which his secretary Erika Lorenz had herausgegeben. Gutierrez(?) confronted Konrad with the results of his interrogations elsewhere:

"Was befand sich auf den zwei LKW's, die Sie nach Schladming geschickt haben?"

Surprised, Konrad admitted:

"Ich sehe, Sie sind gut informiert. Ja, es stimmt. Auf dem ersten LKW waren Lebensmittel, meine Briefmarkensammlung, Radioapparate und meine persönlichen Sachen, Uniformen, usw. Der zweite LKW war gar nicht ganz voll, da habe ich Schnaps (Bols) hingeschickt. ... Damals habe ich auch die Fotoalben mitgegeben."

Then he reflected, and admitted that he himself had been with the 1. LKW:

"Ich habe immer alles zu meinem Schwager Pichler gebracht, bei meinem Bruder habe ich nichts."

Gutierrez asked Konrad about the keys found on him. He gave incomplete answers and distracted Gutierrez with a rigmarole about other valuables that had been concealed by his comrades. But he now admitted Spacil had entrusted to him gold and currency, which he claimed to have buried in a shallow hole punched with a pole into a Schlackenhalde hinter der Zentralheizung in Fischhorn in einer alten amerikanischen Konservendose (October 1945: "die Büchse habe ich mit Wachspapier -- ach nein, mit Billrothbatist -- verschlossen").

Asked suddenly about the letters he claimed to have burned, Konrad added fresh details:

"Es waren vielleicht 30 Briefkarten. In der linken oberen Ecke war das Hoheitszeichen und 'Der Führer' eingeprägt."

"Warum haben Sie Spacil erzählt, Sie hätten die Sachen vergraben?"

"Ich habe gedacht, Spacil hat ein besonderes Vertrauen zu mir, da er mir so viel Geld gibt und das wollte ich rechtfertigen, indem ich ihm das erz hlt habe."

Konrad also told the C.I.C. now about further S.S. treasures hidden on the Fischhorn estate -- the Warsaw Staatsbibliothek treasures, oil paintings from the Warsaw museum, the carpets, painting and Silbersachen mit Gravierungen vom Führer aus Berchtesgaden.

On August 24, Gutierrez took his team to Schladming and recovered from the home of Konrad's brother Fritz the torn Hitler uniform, as well as "one chest full of photo albums depicting the private lives of Hitler and Eva Braun, belonging to Eva Braun, also notes made by Eva Braun from her letters to Hitler and art photos of Hitler and Eva Braun;" he siezed too her monogrammed silverware, and Franz Konrad's private stamp collection which had taken him 25 years to piece together.

But the search was not over. Turning over these items to Seventh Army C.I.C. on August 29 Gutierrez and his then commanding officer Richard C. Cahoon recommended: "that the case be continued. (The agents in charge have been alerted for shipment to the United States.)"

[Continued in Part 2]continued


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