David Irving

HITLER’S WAR

Acknowledgments




I like to think that I chose precisely the right ten years to work on Hitler.  Any earlier, and the archives would not have begun to disgorge their captured papers ;  any later, and those who came closest to enjoying Hitler’s confidence would have died.  Hitler’s secretaries and adjutants were without exception of the utmost help.  Traudl Junge and Christa Schroeder provided unpublished manuscripts and letters of the period ;  his adjutants Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer (navy), General Gerhard Engel (army), and Colonel Nicolaus von Below (Luftwaffe) did the same, and labored through much of the resulting manuscript.  Without the memories of Colonel Erik von Amsberg, Max W¸nsche, Fritz Darges, and Otto G¸nsche, many a gap in our knowledge would have remained unfilled.  But many other adjutants attending Hitler’s conferences also assisted—of whom I must single out for mention Major General Ottomar Hansen, Lieutenant Colonel Ernst John von Freyend, Admiral Kurt Freiwald, and Captain Herbert Friedrichs, and particularly Johannes G–hler and Wolf Eberhard for the important diaries and letters they made available to me for the first time.

The most important documents were provided by Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper and by Lev Besymenski.  Dr. Cortez F. Enloe, Washington, D.C., furnished medical records on Hitler.  FranÁois Genoud, Lausanne, Switzerland, supplied key extracts from Bormann’s personal files ;  Frau Asta Greiner, Wiesbaden, Germany, her husband’s unpublished diaries and private correspondence ;  the stenographer Karl Thot, Bonn, his war diary ;  the late Colonel Karl-Heinz Keitel, papers from his father’s collection ;  Albert Speer, Heidelberg, Germany, his office Chronik and other papers ;  Reinhard Spitzy, Austria, certain letters ;  G¸nter Peis, Munich, selected items from his unique collection ;  and Dr. Heinrich Heim, Munich, papers originating from his period as Martin Bormann’s adjutant ;  furthermore Hitler’s doctors Professor Hanskarl von Hasselbach, Dr. Erwin Giesing, and Dr. Richard Weber provided papers or other aid.

Many of the collections deposited in the archives would have remained closed to me without the kindness of the following :  Isabella Adam, Ursula Backe, Anni Brandt, Ilse Dittmar, Friedl Koller, Paula Kubizek, Baroness Jutta von Richthofen, the late Lucie Rommel, Anneliese Schmundt, Gertrud Seyss-Inquart, Ruth von Vormann, Elisabeth Wagner, Elisabeth Todt, Margarete von Waldau, Baroness Marga von Weichs, Baroness Marianne von Weizs”cker—all of whom either permitted me to see or provided me with direct access to their husbands’ papers, letters, and diaries.  (The Weizs”cker diaries have been expertly transcribed by my colleague Professor Leonidas E. Hill.)  Frau Blanda Benteler allowed me the diaries of her husband Walther Hewel ;  Liselotte von Salmuth those of her husband, the Colonel General ;  Else Renate Nagy the manuscripts and papers of her late husband Dr. Wilhelm Scheidt—adjutant of Hitler’s court historian General Walter Scherff ;  Frau Gerta von Radinger the private letters of her late husband, Alwin-Broder Albrecht (whom she had married in 1940).  Frau Anneliese Schmundt gave me her private war diary.  I am also grateful to Dr. Peter von Blomberg, Manfred Br¸ckner, General Heinz-G¸nther Guderian, Joachim Hoepner, Hermann Leeb, Fritz von Lossberg, R¸diger von Manstein, and Roland Schaub for permission to use the private papers of their fathers.  The late Karl-Otto Saur, Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Major General Ivo-Thilo von Trotha, General Walter von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Ambassador Dr. Hasso von Etzdorf, and the late Ludwig Krieger, stenographer, all made diaries and papers available to me.

Of those who gave up their time for long conversations or to write letters I must mention these :  Ludwig Bahls, Werner Best, Karl Bodenschatz, Herta Berger—widow of the stenographer killed on July 20, 1944—Herbert B¸chs, Eugen Dollmann, Peterpaul von Donat, Xaver Dorsch, Baron Sigismund von Falkenstein, Ambassador AndrČ FranÁois Poncet, Reinhard Gehlen, Otto-Heinz Grosskreutz, Werner Grothmann, Hedwig Haase, Ernst “Putzi” Hanfstaengl, Heider Heydrich, Ralph Hewins, Ambassador Hans von Herwarth, Professor Andreas Hillgruber, Professor Raul Hilberg, Gebhard Himmler, Walter Huppenkothen, Professor Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, Elisabeth Kaltenbrunner, Hans Kehrl, Werner Koeppen, Marlene Kunde (nČe Exner), Dr. O.H. Schmitz-Lammers, Helmut Laux, Heinz Linge, Field Marshal Friedrich List, Heinz Lorenz, Colonel J.L. McCowen, Johanna Morell, Josef M¸ller, Pastor Martin Niem–ller, Max Pemsel, Leo Raubal, the late Anneliese von Ribbentrop, Walter Rohland, J¸rgen Runzheimer, Professor Ernst-G¸nther Schenck, Henriette von Schirach, Richard Schulze-Kossens, Dietrich Schwencke, former Federal Chancellor Dr. Kurt von Schuschnigg, General Curt Siewert, Otto Skorzeny, Gertrud and Friedrich Stumpfegger, the late Helmut S¸ndermann, Admiral Gerhard Wagner, Winifred Wagner, Karl Wahl, Walter Warlimont, and Karin Weigl.  Walter Frentz placed his photographic collection at my disposal ;  Peter Hoffmann his expertise ;  Frau Luise Jodl her husband’s papers.

For most of the ten years I also plagued archives and institutes with my inquiries.  I am most indebted to the exemplary Institut f¸r Zeitgeschichte in Munich, and to its then director Professor Helmuth Krausnick and above all its head of archives Dr. Anton Hoch, who guided me as friend and mentor with great objectivity and ability from October 1966 onward ;  Frau Karla G–tz, Hermann Weiss, and Anton Zirngibl fulfilled my often immodest demands, and Dr. Wolfgang Jacobmeyer permitted me to use his prepared edition of the Hans Frank diaries.  In transferring to the Institut my entire Hitler document collection, including the interview and interrogation records, Hitler’s armament decrees, the Canaris/Lahousen fragments, a correct transcription of Greiner’s war diary notes, the Scheidt papers, and much else, I hope to have recompensed in part for the assistance given me.  Much of the material was microfilmed by the Imperial War Museum, London S.E. I, before I transferred it to Munich ;  these films are available from the museum’s Foreign Documents Centre.  I also transferred my collection of records on Hitler’s medical history to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany (where it is filed as item Kl. Erw. 525).  I placed a copy of the Fritzsch Papers, 1938-39, in the Bundesarchiv-Milit”rarchiv in Freiburg, Germany, where Dr. Friedrich-Christian Stahl, Alfred Bottler, and Colonel Helmuth Vorwieg aided me.  At the neighboring Militargeschichtliches Forschungsamt (of the German Defense Ministry) I was guided by Colonels Karl Gundeslach, Manfred Kehrig, Rolf Elbe, and Dr. Georg Meyer through the intricacies of their own archives.  At Nuremberg’s State Archives Dr. Puchner and Dr. Schuhmann aided me ;  and at the F¸hrungsakademie der Bundeswehr in Hamburg Colonel Helmuth Technau was kind enough to allow me to carry volumes of original records—including the important Koller diaries—to London with me to put on microfilm.  In the Operational Archives Branch at Washington Navy Yard I met with the fullest cooperation of Dr. Dean C. Allard and Mrs. Mildred D. Mayeux ;  and Robert Wolfe, John E. Taylor, Thomas E. Hohmann, and their colleagues provided assistance at the National Archives.  I must also mention Mrs. Agnes F. Peterson of the Hoover Library, Stanford, California ;  Detmar Finke of the Office of the Chief of Military History (OCMH), Washington D.C.;  and Mr. George E. Blau, chief historian of USAEUR headquarters, Heidelberg, Germany.  The U.S. Mission’s Berlin Document Center provided speedy and efficient assistance while under its director Richard Bauer, as did the heads of archives of the German, French, Finnish, and British foreign offices.  In London I encountered particularly useful help from Dr. Leo Kahn of the Imperial War Museum ;  Squadron Leader L.A. Jackets of the Air Historical Branch ;  Mr. Brian Melland, Mr. Clifton Child, and Mrs. Nan Taylor of the Cabinet Office Historical Section ;  and Mr. K. Hiscock at the Foreign Office Library.  World War II researchers will find many of the special microfilms of materials prepared by me while researching this book available now from E.P. Microform Ltd., East Ardsley, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England.

This book would have been impossible without the patience and generosity of the many publishers who waited long years for the scaffolding to be removed from this monumentum aeris which I have erected.  My editors, Alan Williams of the Viking Press and Stanley Hochman, provided me with many a stimulus and useful reproof.  Without the indulgence of my wife, Pilar, in putting up with the years of turmoil and inconvenience the book might not have appeared.  Nor shall I forget the nameless legions who typed, translated, or trudged the archives with me :  Mrs. Jutta Thomas, the only one of my secretaries to survive the full marathon, and my colleague Elke Frohlich, who encouraged me to persist and helped me to scale the mountains of records in Berlin, Munich, London, Freiburg, and Bonn that had daunted and dissuaded other writers and would otherwise have discouraged me.


Introduction



“ To historians is granted a talent that even the gods are denied—to alter what has already happened !”

I bore this scornful adage in mind when I embarked on this study of Hitler’s war years late in 1964.  I saw myself as a stone-cleaner—less concerned with a wordy and subjective architectural appraisal than with scrubbing years of grime and discoloration from the facade of a silent and forbidding monument, uncertain whether the revealed monument would prove too hideous to be worthy of the effort.

In earlier books, I relied on the primary records of the period rather than published literature ;  I naÔvely supposed that the same technique could within five years be applied to a study of Adolf Hitler, little realizing that it would be eleven years before I would lay bare the factual bedrock on which the legend of Hitler had been built.  But I believe that hard rubbing has disclosed a picture of the man that nobody until now had suspected.

My conclusion on completing the research startled even me :  while Adolf Hitler was a powerful and relentless military commander, the war years saw him as a lax and indecisive political leader who allowed affairs of state to rot.  In fact he was probably the weakest leader Germany has known in this century.  Though often brutal and insensitive, Hitler lacked the ability to be ruthless where it mattered most, e.g., he refused to bomb London itself until the decision was  forced on him in the late summer of 1940.  He was reluctant to impose the test of total mobilization on the German “master race” until it was too late to matter, so that with munitions factories crying out for manpower, idle German housewives were still employing half a million domestic servants to dust their homes and polish their furniture.  His military irresolution also showed through, for example, in his panicky vaccillation at times of crisis like the Battle for Narvik in 1940.  He took ineffectual measures against his enemies inside Germany for too long, and seems to have been unable to take effective action against strong opposition at the very heart of his High Command.  He suffered incompetent ministers and generals far longer than the Allied leaders did.  He failed too to unite the feuding Party and Wehrmacht factions in fighting for the common cause, and he proved incapable of stifling the OKH’ (War Department’s) corrosive hatred of the OKW (the Wehrmacht High Command).  I believe I show in this book that the more hermetically Hitler locked himself away behind the barbed wire and minefields of his remote military headquarters, the more his Germany became a F¸hrer-Staat without a F¸hrer.  Domestic policy was controlled by whoever was most powerful in each sector—by Hermann G–ring as head of the powerful economics office, the Four-Year Plan ;  by Hans Lammers as chief of the Reich Chancellery or by Martin Bormann, the Nazi party boss ;  or by Heinrich Himmler, minister of the interior and “Reichsf¸hrer” of the black-uniformed SS.

The problem is that Hitler was a puzzle even to his most intimate advisers.  Joachim Ribbentrop, his foreign minister, wrote in his Nuremberg prison cell in 1945 :

I got to know Adolf Hitler more closely in 1933.  But if I am asked today whether I knew him well—how he thought as a politician and statesman, what kind of man he was—then I’m bound to confess that I know only very little about him ;  in fact nothing at all.  The fact is that although I went through so much together with him, in all the years of working with him I never came closer to him than on the first day we met, either personally or otherwise.

As a historian I have resorted to the widest possible spectrum of source materials.  I have not only used the military records and archives ;  I have burrowed deep into the contemporary writings of his closest friends and personal staff, seeking clues to the real truth in their diaries or in the private letters they wrote to their wives and friends.  In this way I have tried to understand the intricacies and contradictions in Hitler’s last years.

The sheer complexity of that character is evident from a comparison of his extreme brutality in some respects and his almost maudlin sentimentality and stubborn adherence to long-abandoned military conventions in others.  In the chapters that follow, we shall find Hitler cold-bloodedly ordering the execution of fifty or a hundred hostages for every German occupation-soldier killed ;  dictating the massacre of Italian soldiers who turned their weapons against the German troops in 1943 ;  ordering the systematic liquidation of Red Army commissars, Allied Commando troops, and—in 1945—even captured Allied aircrews ;  in 1942 he announces to the General Staff that the entire male populations of Stalingrad and Leningrad will eventually be exterminated, and he justifies these orders to himself and to his staff by political doctrines and the expediencies of war.  Yet the same Adolf Hitler indignantly exclaimed, in one of the last war conferences of his life, that Soviet tanks were flying the Nazi swastika as a ruse during street fighting in Berlin, and he flatly forbade his Wehrmacht to violate flag rules !  In an age in which the governments of the democracies, both during World War II and in later years, unhesitatingly attempted, engineered, or condoned the assassination of the inconvenient—from General Sikorski, Admiral Darlan, Field Marshal Rommel, and King Boris to Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and Salvador Allende—we learn that Hitler, the unscrupulous dictator, not only never resorted to the assassination of foreign opponents, but flatly forbade the Abwehr (Intelligence Agency) to attempt it (in particular he rejected Admiral Canaris’s plans to assassinate the Red Army General Staff).

The negative is traditionally always difficult to prove ;  but it seemed well worth attempting to discredit accepted dogmas if only to expose the “unseaworthiness” of many current legends about Hitler.  The most durable of these concerns the F¸hrer’s involvement in the extermination of the Jews.  My analysis of this controversial issue serves to highlight two broad conclusions :  that in wartime, dictatorships are fundamentally weak—the dictator himself, however alert, is unable to oversee all the functions of his executives acting within the confines of his far-flung empire ;  and that in this particular case, the burden of guilt for the bloody and mindless massacre of the Jews rests on a large number of Germans, many of them alive today, and not just on one “mad dictator,” whose order had to be obeyed without question.

I had approached the massacre of the Jews from the traditional viewpoint prevailing in the mid-196os.  “Supposing Hitler was a capable statesman and a gifted commander,” the argument ran, “how does one explain his murder of six million Jews ?”  If this book were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s Reich, it would be legitimate to conclude :  “Hitler killed the Jews.”  He after all created the atmosphere of hatred with his anti-Semitic speeches in the 1930s ;  he and Himmler created the SS ;  he built the concentration camps ;  his speeches, though never explicit, left the clear impression that “liquidate” was what he meant.  For a full-length war biography of Hitler, I felt that a more analytical approach to the key questions of initiative, complicity, and execution would be, necessary.  Remarkably, I found that Hitler’s own role in the “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem” has never been examined.  German historians, usually the epitome of painstaking essaying on every other subject, to whom no hypothesis is acceptable unless scrutinized from a thousand angles, suddenly developed monumental blind spots when Hitler himself cropped up :  bald statements were made, legends were created, blame was laid, without a shadow of historical evidence in support.  British and American historians followed suit.  Other writers quoted them.  For thirty years, our knowledge of Hitler’s part in the atrocity has rested on inter-historian incest.

Many people, particularly in Germany and Austria, had an interest in propagating the accepted version that the order of one madman originated the entire massacre.  Precisely when the order was given and in what form has, admittedly, never been established.  In 1939?—but the secret extermination camps did not begin operating until December 1941.  At the January 1942 “Wannsee Conference”?—but the incontrovertible evidence is that Hitler ordered on November 30, 1941, that there was to be “no liquidation” of the Jews (without much difficulty, I found in Himmler’s private files his own handwritten note on this).  On several subsequent dates in 1942 Hitler made—in private—statements which are totally incompatible with the notion that he knew that the liquidation program had in fact begun.  In 1943, and again in early 1944, I find that documents being submitted to Hitler by the SS were tampered with so as to camouflage the truth about the pogrom :  sometimes the files contain both the original texts and the “doctored” version submitted to Hitler.  Small wonder that when his closest crony of all those years, SS General Josef (“Sepp”) Dietrich, was asked by the American Seventh Army for an opinion on Hitler on June 1, 1945, he replied, “He knew even less than the rest.  He allowed himself to be taken for a sucker by everyone.”

My own hypothesis, to which I point in the various chapters in which I deal in chronological sequence with the unfolding persecution and liquidation of the European Jews, is this :  he killing was partly of an ad hoc nature, what the Germans call a Verlegenheitsl–sung—the way out of an awkward dilemma, chosen by the middle-level authorities in the eastern territories overrun by the Nazis—and partly a cynical extrapolation by the central SS authorities of Hitler’s anti-Semitic decrees.  Hitler had unquestionably decreed that Europe’s Jews were to be “swept back” to the east ;  I describe the various phase-lines established by this doctrine.  But the SS authorities, Gauleiters, and regional commissars and governors in “the east” proved wholly unequal to the problems caused by this mass uprooting in midwar.  The Jews were brought by the trainload to ghettos already overcrowded and underprovisioned.  Partly in collusion with each other, partly independently, the Nazi agencies there simply liquidated the deportees as their trains arrived, on a scale increasingly more methodical and more regimented as the months passed.

A subsidiary motive in the atrocity was the animal desire of the murderers to loot and plunder the Jewish victims and conceal their traces.  (This hypothesis does not include the methodical liquidation of Russian Jews during the “Barbarossa” invasion of 1941, which came under a different Nazi heading—preemptive guerrilla warfare ;  and there is no indication that Hitler expressed any compunctions about it.)  We shall see how in October 1943, even as Himmler was disclosing to audiences of SS generals and Gauleiters that Europe’s Jews had virtually been exterminated, Hitler was still forbidding liquidations—e.g., of the Italian Jews in Rome—and ordering their internment instead.  (This order his SS also disobeyed.)  Wholly in keeping with his character, when Hitler was confronted with the facts—either then or, as Kaltenbrunner later claimed, in October 1944—he took no action to rebuke the guilty.  His failure or inability to act in effect kept the extermination machinery going until the end of the war.

It is plausible to impute to Hitler that not uncommon characteristic of Heads of State who are overreliant on powerful advisers :  a conscious desire “not to know.”  But the proof of this is beyond the powers of any historian.  What we can prove is that Himmler several times explicitly accepted responsibility for the liquidation decision.

Given the brutality of Hitler’s orders to “dispose of” the entire male populations of two major Soviet cities, his insistence on the execution of hostages on a one hundred to one basis, his demands for the liquidation of Italian soldiers, Polish intellectuals, clergy and nobility, and captured Allied airmen and Red Army commissars, his apparent reluctance to acquiesce in the extermination of Europe’s Jews remains a mystery.  His order in July 1944, despite Himmler’s objections, that Jews be “sold” for foreign currency and supplies suggests to some that like contemporary terrorists he saw these captives as a potential “asset,” a means by which he could blackmail the civilized world.  In any case, by April 1945 whatever inhibitions he may have felt were overcome, and we find him ordering Himmler to liquidate any unevacuated prisoners from concentration camps that were in danger of being overrun by American troops.

My central conclusion, however, is that Hitler was a less than omnipotent F¸hrer and that his grip on his immediate subordinates weakened as the war progressed.  Hitler certainly realized this, but too late—in the final days, in his Berlin air raid shelter.  In the last two chapters we see him struggling vainly to turn the clock back, to reassert his lost authority by securing one last tactical victory over his enemies.  But there are few generals—either Wehrmacht or SS—who now heed him.


I also found it necessary to set very different historical accents on the doctrinaire foreign policies Hitler enforced—from his apparent unwillingness to humiliate Britain when she lay prostrate in 1940 (as I believe I establish on pages 152-53, for example), to his damaging and emotional hatred of the Serbs, his illogical and over-loyal admiration of Benito Mussolini, and his irrational mixtures of emotions toward Josef Stalin.  For a modern English historian there is a certain morbid fascination in inquiring how far Adolf Hitler really was bent on the destruction of Britain and her Empire—a major raison d’Ítre for her ruinous fight, which in 1940 imperceptibly supplanted the more implausible one proffered in August 1939 :  the rescue of Poland from outside oppression.  Since in the chapters that follow evidence extracted again and again from the most intimate sources—like Hitler’s private conversations with his women secretaries in June 1940—indicates that he originally had neither the intention nor the desire to harm Britain or destroy the Empire, surely British readers at least must ask themselves :  What, then, were we fighting for ?

Given that the British people exhausted their assets and lost their Empire in defeating Hitler, was he after all right when he noted that Britain’s essential attitude was “AprËs moi le dČluge—if only we can get rid of the hated National Socialist Germany ?”

Unburdened by ideological idealism, the Duke of Windsor suspected in July 1940 that the war continued solely in order to allow certain British statesmen to save face, even if it meant dragging their country and the Empire into financial ruin.  Others pragmatically argued that there could be no compromise with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  But did Britain’s leaders in fact believe this ?

Dr. Bernd Martin of Freiburg University has revealed that secret negotiations on peace continued between Britain and Germany in October 1939—negotiations on which, curiously, Sir Winston Churchill’s files have officially been sealed until the twenty-first century !  Similar negotiations were carried on in June 1940, when even Churchill showed himself in Cabinet meetings to be willing to make a deal with Hitler if the price was right.

Of course, in assessing the real value of such negotiations and of Hitler’s publicly stated intentions it is salutary to know that in 1941 he confidentially admitted to Walther Hewel (as the latter recorded in his diary) :  “For myself personally I would never tell a lie ;  but there is no falsehood I would not perpetrate for Germany’s sake !”  It is also necessary to take into account a string of broken promises that kept Europe in paralyzed inactivity for the better part of a decade.

Nevertheless, one wonders how much suffering the (Western) world might have been spared if both sides had pursued this line.  But modern historiography has chosen to ignore this possibility as heresy.

The facts revealed here concerning Hitler’s recorded actions, motivations, and opinions should provide a basis for fresh debate.  Americans will find much that is new about the months leading up to Pearl Harbor.  The French will find additional evidence that Hitler’s treatment of their defeated nation was more influenced by memories of France’s treatment of Germany after World War I than by his respect for Mussolini’s desires.  Russians can try to visualize the prospect that could conceivably have unfolded if Stalin had accepted Hitler’s offer in November 1940 of inclusion in the Axis Pact ;  or if, having been defeated in the summer of 1941, Stalin had accepted Hitler’s offer to rebuild Soviet power beyond the Urals ;  or if Hitler had taken seriously Stalin’s alleged peace offer of September 1944.

In each case, this book views the situation as far as possible through Hitler’s eyes, from behind his desk.  This technique was bound to yield different perspectives, while answering many questions that arose in the past as to the motives for his actions and decisions.  For example, I have devoted great effort to accumulating the same Intelligence material that was presented to Hitler—like the rare intercepts of G–ring’s Forschungsamt (literally, “Research Office”), which monitored telephone lines and decoded international radio signals ;  these explain, for instance, Hitler’s alarm in July 1940 over Stalin’s intentions.


Because this tragic moment in history is told from Hitler’s point of view, we inevitably see the sufferings of the Germans, whereas the destruction and death inflicted on other nations remains somewhat more abstract.  However, it is well to keep in mind that conservative estimates are that Hitler’s War resulted in 40,000,000 military and civilian deaths.  Of this number approximately 2,500,000 were Germans.

In modern Germany, some of my conclusions proved unpalatable to many.  A wave of weak, repetitive, and unrevealing Hitler biographies had washed through the bookstores two or three years before my manuscript (running to over three thousand pages in the first draft) was published.  The most widely publicized was that written by a German television personality, Joachim Fest ;  but he later told a questioner that he had not even visited the magnificent National Archives in Washington, which houses by far the largest collection of records relating to recent European history.  Stylistically, Fest’s German was good ;  but the old legends were trotted out afresh, polished to an impressive gleam of authority.  The same Berlin company also published my book shortly after, under the title Hitler und seine Feldherren, their chief editor found many of my arguments distasteful, even dangerous, and without informing me, suppressed or even reversed them :  in their printed text Hitler had not told Himmler there was to be “no liquidation” of the Jews (on November 30, 1941);  he had told him not to use the word “liquidate” publicly in connection with their extermination program.  Thus history is falsified !  (My suggestion that they publish Himmler’s note as a facsimile had been ignored.)  I prohibited further printing of the book, two days after its appearance in Germany.  To explain their actions, the Berlin publishers argued that my manuscript expressed some views that were “an affront to established historical opinion” in their country.

The biggest problem in dealing analytically with Hitler is the aversion to him as a person created by years of intense wartime propaganda and emotive postwar historiography.  My own impression of the war is limited to snapshot memories of its side effects :  early summer picnics around the wreckage of a Heinkel bomber on the fringe of the local Bluebell Woods ;  the infernal organ note of the V-I flying bombs awakening the whole countryside as they passed overhead ;  convoys of drab army trucks rumbling past our country gate ;  counting the gaps in the American bomber squadrons straggling back from Germany in formation after the day’s operations ;  the troopships sailing in June 1944 from Southsea beach, heading for Normandy ;  and of course VE-Day itself, with the bonfires and beating of the family gong.  Our knowledge of the Germans responsible for all this was scarcely more profound.  In Everybody’s magazine, long defunct, I recall “Ferrier’s World Searchlight” with its weekly caricatures of a club-footed dwarf called Goebbels and the other comic Nazi heroes.

The caricatures of the Nazi leaders have bedeviled the writing of history ever since.  Writers have found it impossible to de-demonize them.  Confronted by the phenomenon of Hitler himself, they cannot grasp that he was an ordinary, walking, talking human weighing some 155 pounds, with graying hair, largely false teeth, and chronic digestive ailments.  He is to them the Devil incarnate.  The process flourished even more after his death :  at the Nuremberg Trials, the blame was shifted from general to minister, from minister to Party official, and from all of them invariably to Hitler.  Under the system of “licensed” publishers and newspapers enforced by the Allies in postwar Germany, the legends prospered.  No story was too absurd to gain credence ;  the authority of the writers who created them passed unchallenged.

Among these creative writers the German General Staff must take pride of place.  Without Hitler, few of them would have risen higher than to the rank of colonel ;  they owed him their jobs, their medals, their estates, their endowments.  Often they owed him their military victories too—the defeat of France in 1940 (see pages 44-45, 8o-81, 114, 116-18), the Battle of Kharkov in 1942 (pages 387-88), to mention just two.  After the war those who survived—which was not infrequently because they had been dismissed, and thus removed from the hazards of the battlefield—contrived to divert the blame away from themselves to the erstwhile F¸hrer and Supreme Commander.  I have exposed the frauds and deceptions in their biographies.  Thus in the secret files of the Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson, I found a note addressed to his investigator warning about the proposed tactics of General Franz Halder, the former German Army Chief of Staff :  “I just wanted to call your attention to the CSDIC intercepts of Halder’s conversations with other generals.  He is extremely frank on what he thinks should be suppressed or distorted, and in particular is very sensitive to the suggestion that the German General Staff was involved in anything, especially planning for war.”  Usually, these tactics involved labeling Hitler a “madman”—although the medical experts who treated him are unanimous that clinically speaking he remained quite sane to the very end.

Fortunately, this embarrassed adjusting of consciences and memories was more than once, as above, recorded for posterity by the hidden microphones of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centers.  When General Heinz Guderian—one of Halder’s successors as Chief of Staff and the arrogant, supercilious General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg were asked by their American captors to write their history of the war, they felt obliged to obtain the permission of Field Marshal Wilhelm von Leeb as senior officer at the Seventh Army CSDIC.  Leeb replied :

Well, I can only give you my personal opinion : ... You will have to weigh your answers carefully when they pertain to objectives, causes, and the progress of operations in order to see where they may affect the interests of our Fatherland.  On the one hand we have to admit that the Americans know the course of operations quite accurately ;  they even know which units were employed on our side.  However, they are not quite as familiar with our motives.  And there is one point where it would be advisable to proceed with caution, so that we do not become the laughingstock of the world.  I do not know what your relations were with Hitler, but I do know his military capacity.... You will have to consider your answers a bit carefully when approached on this subject, so that you say nothing that might embarrass our Fatherland....
Geyr von Schweppenburg :  The types of madness known to psychologists cannot be compared with the one the F–hrer suffered from.  He was a madman surrounded by serfs.  I do not think we should express ourselves quite as strongly as that in our statements.  Mention of this fact will have to be made, however, in order to exonerate a few persons.  The question is whether now is the right time to mention all this.

After an agonized debate on whether and which German generals advocated war in 1939, Leeb suggested :  “The question is now, whether we should not just admit openly everything we know.”  The following discussion ensued :

Geyr von Schweppenburg :  Any objective observer will admit that National Socialism raised the social status of the worker, and in some respects even his standard of living as long as that was possible.
Leeb :  This is one of the great achievements of National Socialism.  The excesses of National Socialism were in the first and final analysis due to the F¸hrer’s personality.
Guderian :  The fundamental principles were fine.
Leeb :  That is true.

I was startled and, as a historian, depressed by the number of “diaries” which close scrutiny proved to have been faked or tampered with—invariably to Hitler’s disadvantage.  Two different men claimed to possess the entire diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris—the legendary Abwehr chief hanged by Hitler as a traitor in April 1945.  The first produced “documents of the postwar German Intelligence Service (BND)” and original papers “signed by Canaris” in his support ;  the second, a German High Court judge, announced that his set of the diaries had recently been returned by Generalissimo Francisco Franco to the West German government.  Forensic tests on the paper and ink of a “Canaris” document supplied by the first man, conducted for me by a London laboratory, proved them to be forgeries.  An interview with Franco’s chef de bureau—his brother-in-law Don Felipe Polo Valdes—in Madrid disposed of the German judge’s equally improbable claim.  Neither ever provided the actual diaries for inspection.  The Eva Braun diaries published by the film actor Luis Trenker were largely forged from the “memoirs” written decades earlier by Countess Irma Larisch-Wallersee ;  the forgery was established by the Munich lawcourts in October 1948.  (Eva Braun’s genuine diaries, and her entire correspondence with Hitler, were acquired by a CIC team based on Stuttgart-Backnang in the summer of 1945 ;  they have not been seen since.  I identified the team’s commander and visited him in New Mexico ;  he admitted the facts, but I failed to persuade him to make the papers available for historical research—perhaps he has long since sold them to a private dealer.)  The oft-quoted “diaries” of Himmler’s masseur Felix Kersten are equally fictitious, as for example the “twenty-six-page medical dossier on Hitler” described in them shows.  Oddly enough Kersten’s real diaries—containing political dynamite on Sweden’s elite—do exist and have not been published.  Similarly, the “diaries” published by Rudolf Semmler in Goebbels—the Man Next to Hitler (London, 1947) are phony too, as the entry for January 12, 1945, proves :  it has Hitler as Goebbels’s guest in Berlin, when the F¸hrer was in fact still fighting the Battle of the Bulge from his HQ in West Germany.  And there are no prizes for spotting the anachronisms in Count Galeazzo Ciano’s extensively quoted “diaries”:  for example Marshal Rodolfo Graziani’s “complaints about Rommel” on December 12, 1940—two full months before Rommel was appointed to Italy’s North African theater !  In fact Ciano spent the months after his dismissal in February 1943 rewriting and “improving” the diaries himself, which makes them very readable but virtually useless for the purposes of history.  Ribbentrop warned about the forgery in his prison memoirs—he claimed to have seen Ciano’s real diaries in September 1943—and the Nazi interpreter Eugen Dollmann described in his memoirs how the fraud was actually admitted to him by a British officer at a prison camp.  Even the most superficial examination of the handwritten original volumes reveals the extent to which Ciano doctored them and interpolated material—yet historians of the highest repute have quoted them without question as they have Ciano’s so-called “Lisbon Papers,” although the latter too bear all the hallmarks of subsequent editing.  They have all at some time been retyped on the same typewriter, although ostensibly originating over six years (1936-42).

Other diaries have been amended in more harmless ways :  the Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Karl Koller’s real shorthand diary often bears no resemblance to the version he published as Der letzte Monat (Mannheim, 1949).  And Helmuth Greiner, keeper of the official OKW operations staff war diary until 1943, seized the opportunity in 1945, when asked by the Americans to retranscribe his original notes for the lost volumes from August 1942 to March 1943, to excise passages which reflected unfavorably on fellow prisoners like General Adolf Heusinger—or too favorably on Hitler ;  and no doubt to curry favor with the Americans, he added lengthy paragraphs charged with pungent criticism of Hitler’s conduct of the war which I found to be missing from his original handwritten notes when I compared them with the published version.  This tendency—to pillory Hitler after the war—was also strongly evident in the “diaries” of General Gerhard Engel, who served as Hitler’s army adjutant from March 1938 to October 1943.  Historiographical evidence alone—e.g., comparison with the 1940 private diaries of Reichsminister Fritz Todt or the wife of General Rudolf Schmundt, or with the records of Field Marshal von Manstein’s Army Group Don at the time of Stalingrad—indicates that whatever they are, they are not contemporaneous diaries (regrettably, the well-known Institut fur Zeitgeschichte in Munich has nonetheless published them in a volume, Heeresadjutant bei Hitler 1938-1943 [Stuttgart, 1974], rather feebly drawing attention to the diaries’ inconsistencies in a short Introduction).

My exploration of sources throwing light on Hitler’s inner mind was sometimes successful, sometimes not.  Weeks of searching with a proton-magnetometer—a kind of supersensitive mine-detector—in a forest in East Germany failed to unearth a glass jar containing stenograms of Goebbels’s very last diaries, although at times, according to the map in my possession, we must have stood right over it.  But I did obtain the private diaries written by Walther Hewel, Ribbentrop’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff, and by Baron Ernst von Weizs”cker, Ribbentrop’s state secretary.  Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen’s widow made available to me the two thousand-page original text of his unpublished diaries too ;  in fact every officer or member of Hitler’s staff whom I interviewed seemed to have carefully hoarded diaries or papers, which were eventually produced for my exploitation here—mostly in German, but the research papers on the fringe also came in a Babel of other languages :  Italian, Russian, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, and Czech ;  some cryptic references to Hitler and Ribbentrop in the Hewel diaries defied all my puny codebreaking efforts, and then proved to have been written in Indonesian !  For the sake of completeness, I would add that Field Marshal Fedor von Bock’s diary was pruned by him, but he does not seem to have interpolated fresh material ;  and that General Halder’s diary is completely trustworthy (having been originally transcribed from the shorthand by the British) but is best employed without reference to Halder’s postwar footnotes.

Many sources of prime importance are still missing, although enterprising West German publishers have now obtained the full text of Goebbels’s diaries.  That those of Hewel and Weizs”cker remained hitherto unexplored by historians is a baffling mystery to me.  They only had to ask the widows, as I did.  The diaries of Hans Lammers, Wilhelm Br¸ckner, Karl Bodenschatz, Karl Wolff, and Professor Theo Morell are missing, although known to have fallen into Allied hands in 1945.  Nicolaus von Below’s are probably in Moscow.  Himmler’s missing pocket notebooks certainly are.  Alfred Rosenberg’s remaining diaries are illicitly held by an American lawyer in Frankfurt.  The rest of Field Marshal Erhard Milch’s diaries—of which I obtained some five thousand pages in 1967—have vanished, as have General Alfred Jodl’s diaries covering the years 1940 to 1943 ;  they were looted with his private property by the British 11th Armored Division at Flensburg in May 1945.  Only a brief fragment of Benito Mussolini’s diary survives (see pages 541-42) :  the SS copied the originals and returned them to him in January 1945, but both the originals and the copy placed in Ribbentrop’s files are missing now ;  a forgery perpetrated by two Italian nuns temporarily and expensively deceived the London Sunday Times some years ago, before it was exposed by the same laboratory that tested the “Canaris” document for me.  The important diaries of Schmundt were unhappily burnt at his request by his fellow adjutant Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer in April 1945, along with Puttkamer’s own diaries.  The diary of Dr. Stephan Tiso, the last Slovak premier (from August 1944) is unaccountably held in the closed files of the Hoover Institution.

As for autobiographical works, I preferred to rely on the original manuscripts rather than the published texts, as in the early postwar years apprehensive publishers (especially the “licensed” ones in Germany) made changes in them—for example in the memoirs of Karl-Wilhelm Krause, Hitler’s manservant.  Thus I relied on the original handwritten memoirs of Himmler’s Intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg, rather than on the mutilated and ghostwritten version subsequently published.  I would go so far as to warn against the authoritativeness of numerous works hitherto accepted as “standard” sources on Hitler—particularly those by Konrad Heiden, Dr. Hermann Rauschning, Dr. Hans Bernd Gisevius, Erich Kordt, and by Hitler’s dismissed adjutant Fritz Wiedemann.  (The latter unashamedly explained in a private 1940 letter to a friend :  “It makes no difference if exaggerations and even falsehoods do creep in.”)

With the brilliant exception of Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper, whose book The Last Days of Hitler was based on the records of the era and is therefore virtually unassailable even today, each successive biographer has repeated or engrossed the legends created by his predecessors, or at best consulted only the most readily available works of reference themselves.  Since it proved impracticable to study in detail such a dictator’s whole life within this one volume, I limited myself to his war years ;  I eschewed as far as possible all published literature, since by 1964 when I began the research it was possible to speculate that “books on Hitler” outnumbered page for page the total original documentation available.  This proved a sad underestimate.

Idle predecessors had gratefully lamented that most of the documents had been destroyed.  They had not—they survived in embarrassing superabundance.  The official papers of the Luftwaffe Field Marshal Milch, G–ring’s deputy, were captured by the British and total over 60,000 pages (not that G–ring’s most recent biographer consulted even one page of them).  The entire war diary of the German naval staff, of immense value far beyond purely naval matters, survived ;  it took many months to read the 69 volumes of main text, some over 900 pages long, in Washington, and to examine the most promising of the 3,900 microfilm rolls of German naval records held there too.

And what is the result ?  Hitler will long remain an enigma, however hard the historians burrow and toil.  Even his intimates realized they hardly knew him.  I have already quoted Ribbentrop’s puzzlement ;  but General Alfred Jodl, his closest strategic adviser, also wrote in his Nuremberg cell on March 10, 1946 :

... But then I ask myself, did you ever really know this man at whose side you led such a thorny and ascetic existence ?  Did he perhaps just trifle with your idealism too, abusing it for dark purposes which he kept hidden deep within himself ?  Dare you claim to know a man, if he has not opened up the deepest recesses of his heart to you—in sorrow as well as in ecstasy ?  To this very day I do not know what he thought or knew or really wanted.  I only knew my own thoughts and suspicions.  And if, now that the shrouds fall away from a sculpture we fondly hoped would be a work of art, only to reveal nothing but a degenerate gargoyle—then let future historians argue among themselves whether it was like that from the start, or changed with circumstances.

I keep making the same mistake :  I blame his humble origins.  But then I remember how many peasants’ sons have been blessed by History with the name, The Great.

“Hitler the Great”?  No, contemporary History is unlikely to swallow such an epithet.

From the first day that he “seized power,” January 30, 1933, Hitler knew that only sudden death awaited him if he failed to restore pride and empire to post-Versailles Germany.  His close friend and adjutant, Julius Schaub, recorded Hitler’s jubilant boast to his staff on that evening, as the last celebrating guests left the Berlin Chancellery building :  “No power on earth will get me out of this building alive !”

History saw this prophecy fulfilled, as the handful of remaining Nazi faithfuls trooped uneasily into his underground study on April 30, 1945, surveyed his still warm remains—slumped on a couch, with blood trickling from the sagging lower jaw, and a gunshot wound in the right temple—and sniffed the bitter-almonds smell hanging in the air.  Wrapped in a gray army blanket, he was carried up to the shell-blasted Chancellery garden.  Gasoline was slopped over him in a reeking crater and ignited while his staff hurriedly saluted and backed down into the shelter.  Thus ended the six years of Hitler’s War.  We shall now see how they began.


— David Irving,
London, January 1976




Hitler’s People



As an aid to following the narrative, brief biographical details follow of the principal German personalities referred to in the text.


ALBRECHT, Alwin-Broder :  Until June 1939 Hitler’s naval adjutant, his replacement was demanded by Raeder after an unfortunate marriage ;  Hitler demurred and made him a personal adjutant instead.  He is presumed to have died in the last days in Berlin.

AMSBERG, Colonel Erik von :  A former adjutant of Keitel’s, he stepped in as Hitler’s Wehrmacht adjutant after Below, Puttkamer, and Schmundt were injured in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion.

ASSMANN, Admiral Heinz :  Jodl’s naval staff officer, who frequently attended Hitler’s war conferences from 1943 to 1944.

BACKE, Dr. Herbert :  The very capable state secretary in the food ministry, who virtually supplanted the minister, Richard Walter Darre, in 1942.

BECK, General Ludwig :  Was Army Chief of Staff until August 1938, when he was replaced by Halder and began to intrigue against Hitler ;  after the July 20, 1944, bomb plot failed, he committed suicide.

BELOW, Colonel Nicolaus von :  Genteel and educated, Below served as Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant from 1937 until the F¸hrer’s suicide.

BERGER, SS General Gottlob :  Chief of Himmler’s SS Main Office (Hauptamt).

BEST, Dr. Werner :  A department head in the Gestapo, he was appointed Hitler’s Plenipotentiary in Denmark in 1942.

BLASCHKE, Professor Johannes :  Hitler’s principal dentist—his postwar interrogation by the Americans provides the main evidence that Hitler’s was the corpse found by the Red Army in Berlin.

BLOMBERG, Field Marshal Werner von :  The first field marshal created by Hitler—in 1937—Blomberg was fired as war minister in early 1938 after marrying way, way below his station ;  but Hitler had a soft spot for him until the very end.

BOCK, Field Marshal Fedor von :  One of Hitler’s toughest and most successful soldiers in France (1940) and Russia (1941-42), he died in an air raid in 1945.

BODENSCHATZ, General Karl :  Officially G–ring’s chef de bureau, Bodenschatz became his permanent representative at Hitler’s HQ.

BONIN, Colonel Bogislaw von :  Latterly the chief of operations in the German General Staff.

BORGMANN, Colonel Heinrich :  Succeeded Engel as Hitler’s army adjutant in 1943 killed by air attack on his car in April 1945.

BORMANN, Albert :  Younger brother of Martin Bormann, but not on speaking terms with him ;  Albert was an adjutant in Hitler’s Private Chancellary.

BORMANN, Martin :  Rose from relative obscurity as Hess’s right-hand man to position of vast personal power upon Hess’s defection in May 1941.  Head of the Nazi Party Chancellery, and from 1943 the “F¸hrer’s secretary” as well.  He was the dynamo inside the Nazi machine, converting Hitler’s half-spoken thoughts into harsh reality.  Hard working, hard living-condemned to death at Nuremberg in absentia, his lawyer’s appeal for clemency is still on the case file, undecided.

BOUHLER, Reichsleiter Philipp :  As Chief of the Chancellery of the F¸hrer of the Nazi party, Bouhler handled the incoming mail of German citizens ;  as such his office dealt with applications for clemency and thus became involved in the murderous euthanasia projects and the technicalities of the liquidation of Jews and other “undesirables.”  He took his own life in May 1945.

BRANDT, Dr. Karl :  Hitler’s accompanying surgeon from the mid-Thirties onward, he was dismissed in October 1944 by Martin Bormann ;  the Americans hanged him in 1947 for his part in the euthanasia planning.

BRAUCHITSCH, Field Marshal Walther von :  Appointed Commander in Chief, Army, by Hitler in 1938 for want of a better general ;  Hitler tolerated him only reluctantly until his ill-health provided sufficient cover for his retirement in December 1941.  He died in British captivity in 1948.

BRAUN, Eva :  Hitler’s only known mistress from 1931 onward ;  she provided conversation and company, and according to Hitler’s secretaries, developed from the humble laboratory assistant she had been before then into a woman of great poise and charm.  He formally married her thirty-six hours before their joint suicide in April 1945.

BRUCKNER, SA Gruppenf¸hrer Wilhelm :  A chief adjutant of Hitler’s, dismissed in October 1940—having, like Albrecht and Blomberg, contracted a much-criticized marriage.

BURGDORF, General Wilhelm :  Succeeded Schmundt as Hitler’s chief Wehrmacht adjutant and chief of the army personnel branch after Schmundt was wounded in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion ;  previously Schmundt’s deputy.  A rough diamond and heavy drinker, he committed suicide soon after Hitler.

CANARIS, Vice Admiral Wilhelm :  Chief of the Abwehr—the OKW Intelligence Branch—until its absorption by the SS in 1944, Canaris weathered many storms.  A man of few friends, with Indian manservants, Greek blood, and a liking for warm champagne for breakfast, he slipped off his tightrope between the traitors and the SS in 1944 and was hanged in the last month of the war.

CHRISTIAN, General Eckhard :  He had been Jodl’s chief staff officer until he married Hitler’s personal secretary Gerda Daranowski in November 1942 ;  then he rose rapidly until he was the chief of the Luftwaffe operations staff.

CHRISTIAN, Frau Gerda :  One of Hitler’s four private secretaries, and certainly the most attractive—as the F¸hrer is known to have appreciated.  She joined his staff before the war, retired on her marriage in November 1942, but returned a year later and stayed with Hitler until the end.

DARGES, Fritz :  Martin Bormann’s adjutant until 1939, he became Hitler’s personal adjutant from March 1943—until Hitler sacked him in July 1944, ostensibly because of an incident with an insect during a war conference, more probably because Darges had jilted Eva’s sister Gretl Braun.  He was sent to the Russian front.

DIETRICH, Dr. Otto :  Hitler’s press spokesman.

DIETRICH, SS General Josef “Sepp”:  One of the Party Old Guard, he commanded the SS Leibstandarte (Life Guards) and then the SS Sixth Panzer Army.

D÷NITZ, Grand Admiral Karl :  Commander in Chief of the German U-boat service until 1943, he stepped into Raeder’s shoes when the latter resigned as Commander in Chief, Navy, that January.  D–nitz supported Hitler’s bolder strategic decisions—i.e., to hold on to the Crimea and the eastern Baltic provinces—and satisfied Hitler that he was the best successor as F¸hrer in April 1945.

DORSCH, Dr. Xaver :  After Fritz Todt, one of the Reich’s most outstanding civil engineers ;  became head of the Todt Organization building military sites in Reich-occupied countries.

EICHMANN, SS Colonel Adolf :  A minor official in Kaltenbrunner’s Reich Main Security Office, Eichmann was responsible for the smooth running of the Jewish deportation programs ;  he was one of the driving forces behind the extermination of the Jews.

EICKEN, Professor Carl von :  The ear, nose, and throat specialist who operated on Hitler’s throat in 1935 and again in November 1944.

ENGEL, Colonel Gerhard :  Hitler’s army adjutant from 1938 to 1943, he then distinguished himself as a division commander.

ETZDORF, Major Hasso von :  Liaison officer between the General Staff and Ribbentrop’s foreign ministry, his often cryptic penciled notes were deciphered by the Americans postwar and present vital information on Hitler’s foreign strategy.

FALKENHAUSEN, General Alexander von :  The aristocratic Nazi Military Governor of Belgium, he entered into a liaison with an equally aristocratic Belgian lady which resulted in his dismissal in July 1944 ;  this probably spared him from the hangman’s noose some weeks later, as his implication in the bomb plot escaped the attention of the Gestapo.

FEGELEIN, SS General Hermann :  Himmler’s representative at Hitler’s HQ from 1944 to the end ;  married Gretl Braun (see also Darges) but left her a widow, as he was shot for attempted desertion in the last days.

FELLGIEBEL, General Erich :  Chief of the Wehrmacht’s and Army’s Signals Branches, he was executed after the failure of the 1944 bomb plot in which he was implicated.

FRANK, Dr. Hans :  One of Hitler’s oldest friends and his personal legal adviser in the Thirties.  Hitler appointed him Governor General of rump Poland after that country’s defeat in 1939.

FRANK, Karl-Hermann :  Deputy Protector of Bohemia-Moravia.

FRICK, Dr. Wilhelm :  Minister of the Interior, until Himmler supplanted him in August 1943.

FROMM, General Friedrich :  A deadly enemy of Keitel, Fromm commanded the Replacement Army—divisions being raised and trained in Germany ;  he was implicated in the July 20, 1944, conspiracy, but only vaguely—the People’s Court found no evidence, for example, that he had known of the plot, but condemned him to death for cowardice in not having acted more energetically against his Chief of Staff, Stauffenberg, that afternoon.

GIESING, Dr. Erwin :  Army ENT-specialist summoned from Rastenburg hospital after July 20, 1944, bomb explosion to treat Hitler’s head injuries.

GLOBOCNIK, SS Brigadier Odilo :  Formerly police commander in occupied Polish district of Lublin, he ranked with Eichmann as one of the Nazis behind the massacre of the Jews.

GOEBBELS, Dr. Joseph :  one of the Party’s Old Guard ;  Gauleiter of Berlin, and after 1933 Reich propaganda minister—an outstanding speaker and master of dialectics, but undoubtedly one of the evil geniuses behind the F¸hrer.  Took his own and his family’s lives after Hitler’s suicide.

GOERDELER, Dr. Carl :  Former mayor of Leipzig, Goerdeler was political leader of the anti-Hitler conspiracy culminating in the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion.

G÷RING, Reichsmarschall Hermann :  A man of many titles, but principally important as Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe and head of the Four-Year Plan office.  Alternating between bouts of laziness and spasms of intense activity, he was most closely identified by the German public with their eventual misery and defeat—but somehow his popularity remained virtually unimpaired until his October 1946 suicide.

GUDERIAN, General Heinz :  Ranks as one of World War II’s leading tank commanders ;  was dismissed by Hitler in December 1941 to satisfy Kluge and remained in a command limbo until Hitler appointed him his personal Inspector of the Panzer Service in February 1943.  Even then Guderian wavered in his loyalty ;  he certainly had advance warning of the July 20, 1944, bomb explosion and prudently absented himself from the F¸hrer’s HQ that day—to return only hours later, to his own surprise, as the army’s new Chief of General Staff until March 1945.

GĐNSCHE, SS Colonel Otto :  Formerly a private in Hitler’s escort squad, G¸nsche—a big, blond bulldog of an officer—became his personal adjutant and bodyguard, and was entrusted by the F¸hrer with burning his corpse after his suicide in April 1945—and with giving him a coup de gr’ce with his pistol if necessary.

HAASE, Professor Werner :  Had treated Hitler before the war, became his doctor again briefly in the last days in Berlin.

HALDER, General Franz :  Succeeded Beck as the army’s Chief of General Staff in 1938 ;  generally acknowledged to have been a good tactician, Halder retained this post until Hitler could stand him no longer—in September 1942.

HASSELBACH, Dr. Hanskarl von :  Dr. Karl Brandt’s deputy as Hitler’s accompanying surgeon until October 1944.

HESS, Rudolf :  Hitler’s official “deputy” until his flight to Scotland in May 1941.

HEWEL, Ambassador Walther :  He had joined the Nazi party as a student in the early Twenties, shared Hitler’s Landsberg imprisonment briefly in 1923, then emigrated as a planter to Java ;  he returned to become a member of Ribbentrop’s staff—serving through the period of this book as liaison officer at Hitler’s HQ.

HEYDRICH, SS General Reinhard :  Kaltenbrunner’s predecessor as chief of the Reich Main Security Office of the SS ;  as such he was more interested in the “executive” side—the building of a formidable police organization throughout Germany.  Appointed “Reich Protector” of occupied Czechoslovakia in October 1941, embarked on reforms there, assassinated by British-trained agents in May 1942.  As he was the brain behind the extermination camps, he merits no sympathy.

HIMMLER, Heinrich :  SS Reichsf¸hrer, chief of police, and—after August 1943—Minister of the Interior.  “Himmler,” said the Nazi party newspaper chief Max Amann, “considered it his duty to eliminate all enemies of the Nazi ideology and he did so calmly and impersonally, without hate and without sympathy.”  A rare mixture of crackpot and organizational genius.

JESCHONNEK, General Hans :  A lieutenant at sixteen in World War I, he seemed marked out for a brilliant career ;  by 1939 he was Luftwaffe Chief of Staff—by August 1943 he was dead, a suicide.

JODL, General Alfred :  A pure soldier, of unquestionable loyalty to his F¸hrer, Jodl served as chief of the OKW operations staff (Wehrmachtf¸hrungsstab) from August 1939 to the very end.  His strategic insight was profound.  He was hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.

JUNGE, Fran Traudl :  Youngest of Hitler’s secretaries, she joined his staff when Gerda Daranowski married in 1942 ;  she herself married Hitler’s manservant Hans Junge, was widowed by 1944, and stayed with Hitler to the end.  (NČe Traudl Humps.)

JUNGE, Captain Wolf :  Jodl’s naval staff officer until August 28, 1943, then again from summer 1944 onward while Assmann recovered from injuries sustained on July 20, 1944.

KALTENBRUNNER, SS General Dr. Ernst :  Heydrich’s successor as chief of the Reich Main Security Office—but personally more interested in the Intelligence side and less in the police and executive aspects, in which “Gestapo” M¸ller grew in influence.

KEITEL, Field Marshal Wilhelm :  Chief of OKW (German High Command) in title only ;  he exercised his ministerial functions well ;  the military and strategic side he—wisely—left to Jodl.  Loyal and hardworking, Keitel shared Jodl’s fate at Nuremberg.

KESSELRING, Field Marshal Albert :  He held important air commands during the invasions of Poland, France, and Russia.  Supreme commander of German forces in Italy (1943-1945), in March 1945 he took over from Rundstedt as Commander in Chief West.  In 1947 he was condemned to death for war crimes against Italian civilians, but this sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.  He was pardoned in 1952.

KLUGE, Field Marshal Gunther Hans von :  A good commander of men, like Rommel—always in the battle line with his troops, but politically ambitious too.  Lent an ear to various groups of plotters, but would not commit himself.  Fearing implication in the failed July 20, 1944, plot, Kluge took cyanide and closed his “big blue, patrician eyes” for the last time on August 18, 1944, his personal admiration for Adolf Hitler undiminished.

KOCH, Erich :  Gauleiter of East Prussia, he was appointed Reich Commissioner in the Ukraine in 1941, pursuing policies of such brutality as to achieve the impossible—a pro-Soviet Ukraine.

KOEPPEN, Dr. Werner :  Rosenberg’s representative at Hitler’s HQ, he recorded the F¸hrer’s political Table Talk for some months in 1941.

KOLLER, General Karl :  Luftwaffe Chief of Staff from November 1944 to the end ;  Bavarian, dour but capable, having risen from the enlisted ranks.

KORTEN, General G¸nther :  Luftwaffe Chief of Staff following Jeschonnek’s 1943 suicide, he died an agonizing death when a fragment of table pierced him after Stauffenberg’s bomb exploded beneath it in July 1944.  Korten was the first to campaign for a strategic bomber force in the Luftwaffe.

KRANCKE, Vice Admiral Theodor :  Permanent representative of the Commander in Chief, Navy, at Hitler’s HQ after September 1942.

KREBS, General Hans :  Last Army Chief of Staff, he negotiated with the Russians in Berlin following Hitler’s death, then committed suicide.

KREIPE, General Werner :  Luftwaffe Chief of Staff from August 1 to September 21, 1944, when Hitler banished him from war conferences at his HQ.

LAMMERS, Dr. Hans Heinrich :  A legacy of the Hindenburg regime, Lammers was an expert on constitutional law and, as chief of the Reich Chancellery, the most important civil servant of the Third Reich.

LEY, Dr. Robert :  Party Organization chief, he took over the trade unions in 1933 and molded them into the monolithic German Labor Front (DAF).

LINGE, Heinz :  Hitler’s manservant until the very end in Berlin.

LOSSBERG, Colonel Bernhard von :  Jodl’s army staff officer.

LUTZE, Victor :  Succeeded the murdered Ernst R–hm as chief of the SA brownshirt army in 1934.  A heavy drinker and loose talker, he engaged Himmler’s displeasure by remarks about the SS, and died in a car crash in 1943.

MAISEL, General Ernst :  Burgdorf’s deputy in the Army Personnel Branch—a quiet, intelligent officer manhandled by postwar writers for his unfortunate part in Rommel’s death.

MANSTEIN, Field Marshal Erich von :  Universally acclaimed as Germany’s most outstanding General Staff product, as he displayed in offensive operations in Poland (1939), the west (1940), and the Russian campaign.

MEISSNER, Dr. Otto :  Like Lammers, a leftover of the Hindenburg era ;  head of the Presidential Chancellery (Pr”sidialkanzlei).

MILCH, Field Marshal Erhard :  Founder of Lufthansa airline, Milch was called upon by Hitler and G–ring to build the secret Luftwaffe in 1933.  After years of intense rivalry with G–ring, Milch—who had labored to conceal a serious defect in his family tree (he was pure Aryan, but accepted popular legend to the contrary to conceal the fact that he was the product of the illicit relationship between his mother and her mother’s brother)—was sacked in 1944.

MODEL, Field Marshal Walter :  Monocled, highly schooled, modern in outlook, he was the antithesis of Manstein ;  when a front line needed holding or restoring, Hitler sent for Model.

MORELL, Professor Theo :  Morell alone had been able to cure Hitler of a gastric disorder in 1936 ;  he appointed him personal physician and turned a deaf ear on all his critics until the very end.

MĐLLER, SS General Heinrich :  Chief of Amt IV (the Gestapo) under Kaltenbrunner, he vanished in the last days of the war and has not been positively seen since.

PAULUS, Field Marshal Friedrich :  Led his Sixth Army into Soviet captivity after the Battle of Stalingrad, 1943.

PUTTKAMER, Admiral Karl-Jesco von :  Hitler’s naval adjutant from March 1935 to June 1938, then again from August 1939 to the end—one of the most important witnesses still surviving from Hitler’s circle.

RAEDER, Grand Admiral Erich :  Was already Commander in Chief, Navy, when Hitler came to power in 1933, and forcefully resigned exactly ten years later.

RATTENHUBER, SS Brigadier Hans :  Chief of Hitler’s police bodyguard at HQ, responsible for his security, he sought to conceal his brutal and intriguing nature beneath a veneer of Bavarian charm.

RIBBENTROP, Joachim von :  Reich foreign minister after 1938, he realized that many of Hitler’s foreign policies were doomed to failure but allowed the F¸hrer to overrule him every time ;  hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.

RICHTHOFEN, Field Marshal Wolfram von :  Perhaps the toughest Luftwaffe strike commander, Richthofen commanded first an air corps, then an air force (Luftflotte) ;  Hitler always committed Richthofen where the battle was fiercest, and listened readily to the field marshal’s extravagant complaints about his army counterparts.

ROMMEL, Field Marshal Erwin :  Commandant of Hitler’s HQ 1939-40, he secured command of a panzer division in time for the attack on France, fought a brilliant if reckless campaign there, and repeated his triumphs on a larger scale in North Africa, until the lack of supplies and the Allied superiority in tanks and aircraft beat him back ;  his loyalty to Hitler remained unchanged, but his hatred of the OKW and Jodl reached pathological proportions in 1944.  Implicated by others in the July 20, 1944, conspiracy, he took the consequences—poison—in October that year.

ROSENBERG, Alfred :  Verbose Party philosopher ;  bitter opponent of Koch, particularly after Rosenberg as Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories had to deal with him ;  notorious anti-Semite.

RUNDSTEDT, Field Marshal Gerd von :  Blunt, chivalrous, loyal, but elderly and easygoing in later years, Rundstedt was the senior serving German soldier ;  Hitler was fond of him and rightly trusted him—thrice appointing him to high commands, and thrice relieving him when expediency demanded.  From 1942 to 1945 Rundstedt was—with a brief interval in the summer of 1944—Commander in Chief West.

SAUCKEL, Fritz :  Gauleiter of Thuringia, Sauckel was appointed by Hitler in 1942 to take charge of the manpower procurement program of the Reich ;  this Sauckel achieved by contracts, inducements, or slave labor.  Hanged at Nuremberg.

SAUR, Karl-Otto :  Outwardly the typical Nazi—stocky, forceful, crude—Saur was first Todt’s, then Speer’s right-hand man in the munitions ministry ;  his phenomenal memory for dates and statistics made him one of Hitler’s favorites.

SCHAUB, Julius :  Joined the Nazi party in 1925, served as Hitler’s personal adjutant and factotum until the end ;  of too limited an intellect to intriguehence valued highly by the F¸hrer in his entourage.

SCHEIDT, Dr. Wilhelm :  Adjutant to Hitler’s court historian Scherff.  After Scherff’s injury on July 20, 1944, Scheidt took his place for many months at Hitler’s war conferences.  But through his friendship with Beck, Goerdeler, and Kurt von Hammerstein, Scheidt was the source (unwittingly perhaps?) of much secret Intelligence that reached the enemy, direct from Hitler’s HQ.

SCHERFF, General Walter :  Chief OKW historian, appointed by Hitler in 1942 to write the Reich war history ;  but he never got around to it—and on his orders the shorthand records of most of Hitler’s war conferences were burned in May 1945.

SCHMUNDT, General Rudolf :  Hitler’s chief Wehrmacht adjutant after 1938, and chief of the army personnel branch after October 1942 as well ;  his role as private adviser to Hitler needs intensive research.  He died a lingering death, blind and burnt, after the July 20, 1944, bomb blast.

SCH÷RNER, Field Marshal Ferdinand :  Like Model, Sch–rner was usually assigned to sectors where other generals had failed, and he usually succeeded.

SCHROEDER, Christa :  Hitler’s private secretary after 1933, she stayed with him until ordered to leave Berlin on April 20, 1945.  Hitler warmed toward her, despite her sharp tongue and feline comments on the war’s progress.

SEYSS-INQUART, Dr. Arthur :  A quiet-spoken Austrian lawyer, propelled by the 1938 union between Germany and Austria into high office in Vienna as a Nazi sympathizer, Seyss-Inquart was Hans Frank’s deputy in Poland until May 18, 1940, when he was appointed Hitler’s viceroy in the Netherlands.  Hanged at Nuremberg.

SONNLEITNER, Dr. Franz von :  diplomat, stood in for Hewel during his recovery from air crash injuries in 1944.

SPEER, Albert :  Nominated by Hitler as architect for Berlin, despite his youth ;  ambitious, vain, publicity-conscious, but possessing—like G–ring—undoubted presence and organizing ability.  Hitler shrewdly appointed him Todt’s successor as munitions minister in February 1942, but became disillusioned with him in the last weeks of his life.

STUMPFEGGER, Dr. Ludwig :  A well-known surgeon on Himmler’s staff, who began treating Hitler in October 1944.

TODT, Dr. Fritz :  Hitler’s main civil engineer, who had built the autobahn network on his orders, and then the West Wall in 1938-39 ;  in March 1940 Hitler nominated him to head a new munitions ministry.  When Todt was killed in a plane crash in February 1942, Speer succeeded him.

VORMANN, General Nikolaus von :  Appointed by Brauchitsch to act as army representative at Hitler’s HQ in August and September 1939.

VOSS, Vice Admiral Hans-Erich :  Succeeded Krancke as naval representative at Hitler’s HQ on March 1, 1943.

WAGNER, General Eduard :  Quartermaster General of the German army—until his suicide after the July 20, 1944, bomb plot failed.

WARLIMONT, General Walter :  De facto deputy to Jodl in the OKW operations staff, Warlimont deeply felt that he should have held Jodl’s position (which by rights was his).

WEIZSźCKER, Baron Ernst von :  Ribbentrop’s state secretary at the foreign ministry after 1938 ;  from early 1943 onward he was German ambassador to the Vatican.

WOLF, Johanna :  Oldest of Hitler’s private secretaries.

WOLFF, SS General Karl :  Chief of Himmler’s personal staff, SS representative at Hitler’s HQ until early 1943—when he was involved in a marriage scandal—and from September 1943 chief of police in Nazi-occupied Italy.

ZEITZLER, General Kurt :  Dubbed “Thunderball” (Kugelblitz) because of his intensive energy as Chief of Staff to a panzer corps in Russia, 1941-42 ;  Hitler fetched him from his position as Rundstedt’s Chief of Staff in France (1942) to succeed Halder as Army Chief of Staff.  Zeitzler put up with Hitler’s tantrums until June 30, 1944, when he simply vanished and reported sick.