David Irving


On the Brink of a Volcano

On October 15, 1944, the day after Rommel’s sudden death, Hitler’s agents deposed the Hungarian regent, Admiral Nikolaus Horthy, and brought “a thousand years of Hungarian history” to an end.

The Nazi coup in Budapest had its origins in July, when Horthy had stopped the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Germany and sent his then adjutant General BÈla MiklÛs to Hitler with a letter announcing his intention of appointing a military government ;  Hitler had received the general on July 21, claimed to be entitled to interfere in Hungarian affairs given the country’s key position in the Balkans, and evidently also made some promise about the Jews, because four days later Himmler ordered the deportations to cease until further notice.  He had already started talks with Allied intermediaries on an alternative means of disposing of the Jews—by barter, in exchange for goods or foreign currency from the Allies ;  on July 20, Ribbentrop had advised Edmund Veesenmayer, his representative in Budapest, that according to the BBC the Allies had rejected the barter proposal as an impudent attempt at weakening them.  As his own penciled notes for the discussion reveal, at about this time Himmler debated with Hitler the “transfer of the Jews abroad.”  “Setting them free against foreign currency, [while retaining] the most important as hostages” was the proposal—to which the Reichsf¸hrer added his own comment :  “Am against it”;  as he subsequently checked the proposal, with the proviso that the currency must come “from abroad,” Hitler evidently overruled him.  By the end of July, Adolf Eichmann had left Hungary, and his task force was disbanded soon after.  The first 318 Hungarian Jews were released from Bergen-Belsen camp and transferred to Switzerland to prove Germany’s intention of keeping the bargain ;  but Himmler’s intermediaries were asking for trucks in exchange (“to be used only on the eastern front”), and although further consignments of Jews were allowed to leave—1,355 in December and 1,100 in February 1945—the deal collapsed.

In October 1944, Himmler ordered the extermination of the Jews to stop.  What led to this order is uncertain.  SS General Ernst Kaltenbrunner, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, stated in his closing speech to the Allied tribunal at Nuremberg two years later that he had received a stunning report from an investigating judge he had appointed in 1943 to prosecute corruption at top level in the concentration camp system :  this lawyer, Dr. Konrad Morgen, had been drafted into the SS for the purpose, and his early inquiries at Buchenwald convinced him that illegal murders of witnesses of the commandant’s corrupt practices had occurred. Morgen had secured the execution of the commandant, Karl Koch, and eventually procured indictments in two hundred other cases.  Late in 1943 he had realized that a systematic mass murder was proceeding at two camps—Auschwitz and Lublin.  The commandant at Lublin, a former Stuttgart lawyer named Wirth, told him “they were destroying the Jews on the F¸hrer’s orders,” and he was running altogether four extermination camps in the eastern Generalgouvernement of Poland, including Majdanek near Treblinka, in which five thousand Jews were themselves operating the machinery (before being systematically liquidated themselves).  Shortly after telling him this, Morgen later reported, Wirth vanished from Lublin, having been instructed to raze his extermination camps to the ground.  Late in 1943, he continued, while following up a major gold-smuggling racket, he stumbled on the truth about Auschwitz, where one Rudolf Hoess was commandant.  Believing at that time that Hitler himself had ordered all this, Morgen felt powerless to intervene.  He began a merciless prosecution of the camp officials over the “lesser” murders, however—outside the general massacre program, hoping in this way to ventilate the whole issue.  But an investigating judge sent to scrutinize the files of the Reich Main Security Office itself—under whose Departments IV and IVb the massacre had begun—found that no general order for the massacre had ever been received or issued.  Morgen himself was the target of harassment ;  his staffs barracks were burned down one night, with all their files, but he fought on and eventually laid the dossier before Kaltenbrunner.

Kaltenbrunner stated (in August 1946) that he was “stunned by the report.”  He himself had been interested only in the Intelligence side of his office.  He sent the document by special courier that October 1944 day to Hitler.  Hitler sent for him in person next day, and after a long discussion agreed to call Himmler and Oswald Pohl, chief of the concentration camps, to account for their actions.  In Kaltenbrunner’s presence—as he described at Nuremberg—the F¸hrer ordered SS General Fegelein to ensure that Himmler reported to him immediately.  (According to the manservant’s register, Himmler came on October 17, and then again on November 7.)  Hitler gave Kaltenbrunner his word, as they shook hands and parted, that he would put an immediate end to the massacre.  (We have only Kaltenbrunner’s account of all this ;  he himself was hanged at Nuremberg, and his widow possesses none of his personal papers which might have thrown light on the truth.  Morgen, now a respected lawyer in Frankfurt, supports only part of the SS general’s account, while motivated by an obvious and understandable antipathy toward him.)

The following scene is, however, independently testified to.  On October 27, 1944, news reports reached Hitler that the Russians claimed to have found a former concentration camp, Majdanek, near Lublin, at which 1,500,000 people had been liquidated ;  according to Heinz Lorenz, his press officer, Hitler angrily dismissed the reports as propaganda just as German troops had been accused of “hacking off children’s hands in Belgium” in 1914.  When Ribbentrop pressed him for an answer, the F¸hrer replied more revealingly, “That is Himmler’s affair and his alone.”  He betrayed no flicker of emotion.

There was no act of violence Hitler was not prepared to commit to keep Hungary—his only remaining petroleum supplier and a large foodstuffs exporter—within his domain, his “minimum economic region.”  From the end of August 1944, when Horthy openly courted Hitler’s disapproval and announced that he had appointed General GÈza Lakatos to head a military government in place of the ailing and pro-German D–me SztÛjay, one alarm signal after another was reported to Hitler indicating that the regent was plotting to follow Romania’s—or even better—Finland’s path out of the war while there was still time.

Initially, Hitler fought to win time, hoping for a spectacular military victory in the defense of Hungary by General Friessner to restore the Hungarian Cabinet’s flagging spirit.  When on September 7 Horthy issued a semi-ultimatum demanding five fresh German panzer divisions within “twenty-four hours” or he would ask the enemy governments for an armistice, Hitler ordered Guderian to accept the demand insofar as possible ;  and the first divisions began moving into Hungary the next day.  But the next morning, the eighth, the German air attachÈ telephoned urgent warnings from Budapest about “goings-on similar to Romania.”  Hitler took him seriously, since this general, Cuno Heribert Fuetterer, had also provided the earliest alert of the coup in Bucharest.  This warning gave him five weeks’ clear notice to stage in Hungary a countercoup of the kind he had tried and failed to achieve in Romania in August.

After Antonescu’s overthrow in August, the Hungarian and German general staffs had agreed to launch an offensive from Klausenburg to capture the Romanian half of Transylvania and then to hold and fortify the general line of the Carpathian Mountains.  But the German troops movements, two hundred trainloads, would take ten days, and the Romanians and Russians reached and blocked the passes first.  When the offensive began on the fifth, it rapidly fell apart—leaving Guderian no option but to abandon the easternmost tip of Hungary and fall back on the Maros River.  What unsettled Hitler was that the Hungarian Lakatos regime suddenly stopped the invasion of Romanian Transylvania at the eleventh hour without consulting him—evidently for political reasons.  This excited his distrust.  When General J·nos V–r–s, Guderian’s Hungarian counterpart, pleaded for more military assistance on the twelfth, the F¸hrer told him to his face :  “I have no faith in your Lakatos government.”  This evoked from V–r–s an assurance, given with Hungarian flamboyance and feeling, that Horthy would remain loyal and would fight at Germany’s side until the end of the war.  Hitler again promised to send the rest of the five panzer divisions, and at that night’s war conference he outlined to V–r–s his plans for a great new offensive to reconquer all of Romania.

He suspected Admiral Horthy of plotting a Badoglio-type betrayal.  The admiral wanted high-grade German troops moved to eastern Hungary ;  then he would sign a sudden pact with Stalin—the British and Americans having evidently given him the cold shoulder—and deliver these now isolated German divisions to the enemy sword.  East of the Tisza River Hitler had evidently already written off Hungary ;  but if he was not to lose western Hungary as well, he had no option but to take just that risk of treachery and pack every good division he had into the front line.

Together with SS Major Otto Skorzeny, Hitler began plotting ways of eliminating Horthy’s now baneful influence on his generals.  Horthy and his entourage lived ensconced in the Citadel at Budapest.  Immediately after Antonescu’s overthrow, the SS commander in Budapest, SS General Otto Winkelmann, had investigated the layout and security organization of the Citadel.  Now Hitler spent hours each day poring over the original building-plans of the Citadel and its labyrinthine underground tunnels, plotting Horthy’s capture and overthrow with all the Machiavellian attention to detail that had accompanied his planning for the Dirschau bridge and Eben-Emael fortress operations in 1939 and 1940.

Hitler’s strategy in Hungary in September 1944 had derived from the comforting conviction that having digested Romania, the Red Army would wheel south to realize Russia’s historic ambitions in the Dardanelles—and to reach the Balkans before Britain and the United States.  The planned German offensive from Klausenburg had been a product of this belief :  the Red Army was assumed to be leaving only covering forces along its Carpathian flank.  The Russian offensive from this very region, spilling out northward into the Hungarian lowlands and capturing Arad, proved the falseness of Hitler’s assumption—and this was the very eve of his debilitating two-week illness.

Immediately, on September 23, fresh alarms began sounding at the Wolf’s Lair.  German Intelligence networks evidently learned that Horthy was putting out increasingly urgent feelers to the western Allies in Italy and Switzerland, because Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to keep a close watch on all Hungarian airfields to prevent Horthy from sending his family out to safety in Switzerland.  The F¸hrer also discussed with Jodl the possibility of using three or four paratroop battalions to arrest the regent if he tried to move into the Hungarian army headquarters ;  some days later the plan was amended to include Skorzeny and five hundred Waffen SS troops in gliders.  The scale of these operations was inevitable, because Winkelmann had learned that the Hungarian commandant of Budapest, General Bakay, was already plotting a large-scale military operation to round up every major German sympathizer.  It was an undeclared war, in which Hitler was determined to keep the initiative.  On September 25 he designated all Hungary a German “operations zone,” thus bringing it under unified German General Staff control to avoid the clashes of interest that had hamstrung the German countercoup in Bucharest.(1)  Ferenc Sz·lasi, the extreme right-wing Hungarian General Staff major and Fascist leader, declared his willingness to take over the government.  Millions of Hungarian pamphlets were printed in Vienna and transported to Budapest in sealed police trucks ready for the coup.

But Hitler was now ill, and the coup was postponed day after day—whether because of this or because he wanted Horthy to make the first move, we cannot tell.  He must have found out that early in October Horthy had at last sent a team of negotiators to Moscow, because on October 3 he ordered the fight for Hungary’s defense to continue even though “we are standing on the brink of a volcano.”  Some facts spoke for themselves.  Although the Red Army had long been ready at Arad, it was still postponing its offensive, so evidently somebody was negotiating somewhere.(2)  On the sixth—without any authority from Hitler or Himmler—Winkelmann decided to force Horthy’s hand, because (as he later explained to the Reichsf¸hrer) “you can’t just keep on postponing a putsch that’s all ready and waiting.”  He ordered four top Horthy men kidnapped, including General Bakay and Horthy’s own son and heir, who was believed to be dealing with the enemy himself.  Bakay was netted at dawn on October 10.  Later that day Himmler, Winkelmann, and probably SS General von dem Bach-Zelewski as well reported to Hitler for further orders ;  Bach-Zelewski—who had just cruelly put down the Polish uprising in Warsaw and was now ordered to raze the entire city to the ground—was directed to take his giant 650-millimeter mortar to Budapest and help Skorzeny’s operation.  He arrived on the thirteenth.  The same day Hitler directed Rudolf Rahn, one of Ribbentrop’s best troubleshooting ambassadors, to follow him to Budapest and supervise the political aspects of the anti-Horthy coup, which was code-named Panzerfaust—“Bazooka.”

To put teeth into their political pressure on Horthy, the Russians launched a big offensive on October 6 from the area between Arad and Klausenburg, across the plains toward Debrecen and Szolnok, which is on the Tisza.  If this push had succeeded, it would have trapped Friessner’s army group in the Carpathians, but at Debrecen Hitler had assembled three panzer divisions and on the tenth began a four-day tank battle which resulted in the destruction of several Soviet armored corps.  This triumph should have stiffened Horthy’s resolve to fight on ;  but he had already crossed the political Rubicon and secret orders had been issued to the First and Second Hungarian armies to retreat—the first phase of the betrayal of his erstwhile ally.  Friessner was bewildered.  His operations officer later wrote :  “A major crisis occurred when on October 13 a section of the Hungarians—in fact the very ones who had been most effusive in their friendship toward us gullible soldiers—changed to the enemy side in mid-battle, no doubt in the misguided hope of a better future.”(3)

During the following night, the first instructions were telegraphed to Veesenmayer in Budapest.  The next morning, October 14, the crisis reports from Budapest multiplied.  But Rudolf Rahn had now arrived there, and so had forty-two Tiger tanks which were being conspicuously unloaded at one of the main stations.  It was the day of Rommel’s sudden death ;  Goebbels, Speer, and Keitel were visiting the Wolf’s Lair.  Hitler himself attended his war conference ninety minutes after midnight ;  at a quarter to four in the morning he sent for his two secretaries and gossiped with them until five, when he went to bed.  The news from Budapest was that Horthy had demanded to see Veesenmayer at noon the next day, and that the regent’s Cabinet was meeting at ten ;  this probably meant that the hour for Hungary’s defection had arrived.  During the night the Hungarian General Staff telegraphed a threat to Guderian to withdraw the Hungarian troops from the front because Germany had not kept her promises.  Guderian sent his deputy, General Wenck, flying to Budapest with his reply—an ultimatum to the Hungarians to stop meddling with the Hungarian divisions in Friessner’s army group, as all Hungary was a German theater of operations now ;  and to rescind within twelve hours the orders to the First and Second Hungarian armies to retreat, failing which the Reich would take such measures as seemed necessary to attain her objectives.  As this ultimatum was being delivered at 10 A.M., Skorzeny’s team in Budapest was kidnapping Horthy’s son—luring him to an ambush by telling him that an emissary from Marshal Tito was waiting for him.

Thus by the time Hitler was awakened by his staff on October 15 at half-past noon, the die had been cast ;  Horthy’s son, the pawn in Hitler’s hand, had been rolled—bloodstained and senseless—into a carpet and bundled into a plane bound for Vienna.  At that very moment, unaware that at noon “Panzerfaust” had begun to roll, the regent was receiving the German envoy, Veesenmayer.  Let us hear Winkelmann’s coarsely worded narrative of that day, in his proud report to Himmler :

Veesenmayer showed up at Horthy’s punctually at 12 noon ;  Horthy immediately launched into a violent tirade, complaining we had kidnapped his son—we’d ambushed him.  The old fellow said he had always warned him, but his son had refused to listen.  He demanded that we release his son from custody, etc.

Veesenmayer stood up to him like a man and didn’t have to wheel out the biggest gun we had agreed on, namely to tell the old chap that if there was the least whiff of treachery we would stand his son up against a wall.  Horthy threatened to quit the war, but did not commit himself positively as to when.  Shortly afterward, his radio broadcast the foul proclamation.

Meantime Ambassador Rahn had driven over to Horthy to appeal to his conscience.  Horthy was crying like a little boy, kept clutching Rahn’s hand and promising to call everything off, running to the telephone and then not speaking into it, and in general acting like somebody demented.

Horthy’s armistice announcement had been broadcast at 2 P.M.  Almost immediately the radio building was seized by a German police lieutenant and a handful of men—even before Bach-Zelewski’s Tigers had arrived.  A proclamation was broadcast, apparently signed by General V–r–s, declaring Horthy’s announcement of an armistice null and void and ordering the fight against the Red Army continued.  Hungarian and German march music was broadcast, and then came Ferenc Sz·lasi’s pronouncement that he had assumed power.  Horthy’s own troops in the capital deserted him.  He and his dwindling supporters retreated into the Citadel ;  other Hungarian ministers, “pale and evil-smelling” in SS General Winkelmann’s words, sought German protection.  The Citadel was well guarded, and its approaches were mined ;  but Hitler had twenty-five thousand men in the city and more than forty Tigers—and he had the seventy-two-year-old statesman’s son as hostage.  The deal was put to the regent during the evening hours :  at 6 A.M. the Citadel would be stormed ;  alternatively, if the regent would resign, legally transfer power to Sz·lasi, and leave the country, his son would be restored to him.  Horthy’s prime minister, General Lakatos, acted as the go-between.  Horthy must have heard the Tigers raising a horrendous clatter as they pawed their way around the inclines to his Citadel.

Hitler canceled the midnight war conference and retired to his bunker at 1:15 A.M. to gossip with his secretaries Frau Christian and Fr”ulein Schroeder.  Shortly before 4 A.M. Budapest telephoned :  General Lakatos had told Veesenmayer that his government would resign, and that Horthy would abdicate the next day.  Horthy was asking in return for asylum in Germany for himself, his family, and some friends, and for promises that the Reich would not blacken his name over the events of the previous day and would prevent any civil war in Hungary.  Hitler agreed, and went to bed at four.

Thus Hungary remained in his Festung Europa, such as it now was, with Ferenc Sz·lasi as the constitutionally appointed head of state ;  Stalin’s hopes of trapping Friessner’s Army Group South were crushed.  Horthy’s orders to his First and Second armies—of which Hitler seemingly never learned—had been squashed before they even left the Budapest ministry.(4)  General MiklÛs, commanding the First Army, deserted with a handful of his staff to the Russians.  General Lajos von Veress, commanding the Second Army, was arrested by Friessner for ordering his army to retreat.  A second great tank battle was fought by Friessner at Debrecen, and a new defeat inflicted on the Red Army.  A brief respite was thus granted the Nazis in Hungary.

In anticipation of the battle for East Prussia, Hitler had moved over into Bunker Eleven, a monstrous rebuilt complex of dormitories, operations rooms, and offices for himself and his principal minions ;  there was even space for his own diet kitchen in it.  It would be proof against the heaviest known bombs, and against poison-gas attack, since it had its own compressed air and oxygen supplies and a U-boat air-conditioning plant in case all else broke down.(5)  On the day of Arnhem, Hitler had ordered a realistic reassessment of the Wolf’s Lair’s defenses against mass paratroop attack.  “We can’t afford to take rash risks any longer. ... If a Schweinerei happens here—then myself, my entire High Command, the Reichsmarschall, the OKH, the Reichsf¸hrer SS, and the foreign minister, we are all sitting ducks !  What a catch we would be !  If I could get my hands on the entire Russian High Command at one fell swoop, I would risk two paratroop divisions for it immediately !”  On the day the Russian attack on Memel had begun, he had demanded twelve heavy antiaircraft batteries for his headquarters’ defense immediately.

Here on the eastern front, Hitler, now tired and ailing, had long lost the initiative in the face of the baffling Russian superiority ;  his only strategic prerogative was to decide which towns to defend and which to abandon.  An avalanche of enemy tanks had again swamped across Army Group North and reached the Baltic coast in the second week of October.  Memel was surrounded, but Hitler ordered this ancient port fortified and held.  Along the Memel River, the northern border of East Prussia itself, he managed to establish a new front line on the twelfth, while the long-range guns of the German battle fleet held the enemy at bay.  But Sch–rner’s attempts to drive a fresh corridor through to East Prussia failed, and the twenty-six divisions of his Army Group North were again cut off—this time in Kurland, a fifty-mile-square promontory into the Baltic.  Hitler accepted D–nitz’s arguments that the port of Libau, at its closest end, was more important than Riga, and the latter port was abandoned on the fifteenth.  In this pocket the army group remained, attracting a disproportionate number of Russian divisions away from the main front—a controversial appendix of Hitler’s “Barbarossa” campaign until the war was over, surviving six bloody battles undefeated.

On October 16, 1944, the day of Horthy’s abdication, as G–ring, Ribbentrop, and Goebbels joined in Hitler’s noon war conference, the Red Army suddenly stormed into East Prussia itself, with two big armored spearheads thrusting into the eastern flank of the province toward Gumbinnen and Goldap, evidently making for K–nigsberg itself.  Refugee columns began streaming past Hitler’s headquarters.  The German divisions were outnumbered 4 to 1.  Gumbinnen fell, burning from end to end.  By the twenty-second many of Hitler’s staff considered East Prussia already lost.  At Hitler’s noon conference that day Keitel pleaded with him to leave for Berlin.  Martin Bormann privately instructed the stenographers to begin packing for the move to the Chancellery and ordered the transcription section to make the transfer in three days.

Why did Hitler not tour the nearby battlefield now ?  He was far from well.  Half the evening war conferences were canceled so that he could retire to bed, swooning with nameless pains against which neither Drs. Morell nor Stumpfegger, nor Eicken, summoned again from Berlin, could effectively prescribe.  Morell thought it was an inflammation of the nasopharyngeal area.  His dentist, Professor Hugo Blaschke, X-rayed the jaw, found an agonizing defect to the second bicuspid about which Hitler had kept silent, and after days of pleading was allowed to extract it.

An atmosphere of imminent defeat lay heavily in his private rooms—an air which no conditioning plant could dispel.  One secretary wrote :  “It made us despair to see the one man who could end all the misery with a stroke of his pen lying apathetically in bed, gazing at us with weary eyes, while all around us all Hell was loose.  It was as though the Flesh had suddenly realized the futility of the efforts of his Will and had just gone on strike ;  and Hitler, who had never run into such disobedience before, was caught unawares by it.”

Dr. Theo Morell gloomily wrote on October 23, “It’s real autumn here, with dense fogbanks everywhere.”  Hitler’s secretaries sat each evening gossiping at his bedside.  At midnight an adjutant—Puttkamer, Below, or Major Willi Johannmeyer—would bring the brief war report.  Sometimes Colonel von Amsberg, his Wehrmacht adjutant, spent the day touring the battlefields, where the Russians had now broken into Rominten Heide.  Other times he would stand dutifully at the foot of Hitler’s bed listening to the F¸hrer ruminating on the errors he had committed in the past.  In the darkness, after the secretaries left at four or five, Hitler made up his mind to stay at the Wolfs Lair and to die fighting for the Reich’s frontier, rather than return to Berlin.

Then the miracle happened—Hitler believed it was just because his riflemen knew that he was still there.  General Hossbach’s Fourth Army halted the Russian onslaught and launched a courageous counterattack ;  first he deliberately accepted the risk to Goldap and concentrated on the enemy spearhead west of Gumbinnen.  Here the Russians were put to flight and Gumbinnen recaptured.  As Hossbach then swung south to deal with the Goldap spearhead, the devastation and carnage left by the Russian General Galizki’s Eleventh Guards Army were witnessed for the first time.  General Kreipe, touring the combat zone, wrote in his diary :  “Visited ‘Hermann G–ring’ Panzer Corps, in combat at Gumbinnen.  Gumbinnen ablaze.  Refugee columns.  In and around Nemmendorf women and children crucified on barn doors and shot.  I order photographs taken as evidence.”  The Gumbinnen atrocities made a deep impression on Hitler.  The same secretary wrote :  “Gone was his good temper.  When we arrived at night for tea, he looked grim and careworn and he had to make an effort to put these pictures and reports from the eastern front out of his mind :  women raped, children massacred, men mutilated ... He swore revenge for them.  ‘They aren’t human,’ he said.  ‘They’re the beasts of the Asiatic steppes.  The war I am waging against them is a fight for the dignity of European man.  No price is too high for victory.  We must be harsh and fight with every means at our disposal.’ ”

On October 25, Hitler told Bormann he would definitely not consider leaving the Wolfs Lair until the crisis in East Prussia was over.  “We would prefer rather more safety for the F¸hrer,” Bormann wrote nervously that day.  “After all, forty or fifty miles are nothing for modern tanks to cover.  Besides, we would prefer a more congenial place for the F¸hrer to convalesce.  But the F¸hrer commands, and we obey.”  His secretaries asked if they ought to learn to handle pistols.  Hitler loftily excused them from this need.  “No, thank you, ladies :  I have no desire to die at the hands of one of my secretaries !”

Amsberg, leaving to take up a frontline command, reported for one last time to the F¸hrer in his bunker living room and asked what he ought to tell the officers of his new unit.  “I know what I must not say, but not what I should.”  With a sigh of resignation Hitler told him :  “You know for yourself how black things look.  Tell them I am thinking and fighting all day and night for the German people and that my thoughts are always out there with my troops.  I did try—and I will keep trying—to bring this war to a happy conclusion yet.  But you know the way our Luftwaffe is, and there’s no point in concealing it.”

Sepp Dietrich, raising the new SS Sixth Panzer Army for the Ardennes offensive, visited Hitler and lectured him :  if there was no Luftwaffe available even for reconnaissance, then the most heroic fight the infantry or U-boats could put up would be in vain.  G–ring called the criticisms libel and bitterly resented Bormann’s daily rapid teleprinter reports submitted by the Gauleiters direct through him and Schaub to Hitler ;  these Party chiefs had no praise for the Reichsmarschall.  By day and night the most devastating rain of fire in history was eating out the heart of Hitler’s war industry.  A five-thousand-ton deluge of bombs dropped on one city center within twenty minutes was a commonplace ;  nine thousand tons of bombs cascaded on Duisburg in one October day.  With France lost, the Luftwaffe had no early-warning systems ;  conversely the enemy had stationed radar guidance systems in France enabling them to pinpoint towns as small as Bonn despite the most adverse weather.  These saturation raids began to cause severe shortages throughout the German economy.  By October all medical supplies—drugs, serums, bandages, anesthetics, and analgesics—were scarce or even unobtainable, as the factories had been destroyed.  But the American daylight raids were a rapier thrust to the heart ;  synthetic rubber production was hit, and this alone limited the number of the new secret Mark XXI submarines Hitler could build.  The loss of synthetic gasoline was so severe that a vicious cycle set in :  by October over three thousand day fighters were available, but their fuel supplies were low ;  the refineries were inadequately defended ;  and those pilots that did engage the enemy had been undertrained because of the lack of gasoline.

Four times in the last two weeks of October Hitler taxed G–ring in person about the Luftwaffe.  G–ring told him he had agreed with Adolf Galland and Albert Speer on a policy of conservation ;  he had now saved up three thousand one hundred fighter aircraft to throw en masse against the enemy bombers on a day when the weather was good enough.  To Hitler it seemed a strategy designed to conserve only the pilots.  He again began considering supplanting G–ring with Greim.  On November 1 he had another ninety-minute talk with the general.  Greim had suggested appointing a chief of air warfare—namely himself—with operational command over the entire Luftwaffe.  G–ring came to the Wolf’s Lair on November 3 and again on the fifth, and talked Hitler out of it.  Evidently the price Hitler demanded in return was that G–ring must appoint General Karl Koller, the Bavarian who had worked his way up from the ranks, as Luftwaffe Chief of Staff.  G–ring told Koller that day about the fight being waged against him by the SS, the army, and the Party.  “He talked about the situation and declared that he is just fed up,” wrote Koller that day.  “He wished he were dead.  He would like to join the paratroop army and fight with it at the front, but the F¸hrer won’t let him go and has told him that only he can rebuild the Luftwaffe.”

Be that as it may, Hitler’s consultations with G–ring about major Luftwaffe policy were now only pro forma.  He had just ordered Speer to triple antiaircraft artillery production at the expense of aircraft production, and he had decided that antiaircraft batteries should be concentrated on the defense of the steel industry, major factories, and railway centers ;  Allied airmen described the German batteries as their deadliest enemies.  And it was thanks to Hitler that the Me-262 was in service as a jet bomber—though five months later than he had planned.  As he had predicted, the Me-262 was proving an unwieldy disappointment as a fighter—it was vulnerable to enemy fighters during its takeoff and landing.  But the bomber version was performing well against the large enemy troop assemblies around Nijmegen.  Hitler accepted Speer’s advice and ordered the rapid design and mass production (without trial) of a single jet fighter, the Volksj”ger ;  Heinkel’s design was accepted, and the new plane was incorporated in the special production decree Speer asked Hitler to sign on October 12, concentrating aircraft production capacity on the new high-performance planes.

Meanwhile the devastation continued.  General Galland kept delaying his fighters’ Grosser Schlag—the Grand Slam.  Finally Hitler lost patience, calculated for himself that Galland’s arithmetic was full of fallacies, and announced at a war conference on November 6 :  “It’s pure madness to go on turning out new aircraft all the time just so that the Luftwaffe can juggle with figures.”  On the twelfth, Galland claimed he had three thousand seven hundred fighter aircraft ready, but that same day an episode in Norway dealt the death blow to his plan.  A small force of British heavy bombers attacked the crippled battleship Tirpitz at anchor in Tromso Fjord.  The local Luftwaffe fighter squadron was given more than adequate warning of the attack, and the Lancaster bombers, each carrying a ten-ton earthquake bomb, would have made easy targets ;  but—as Admiral D–nitz furiously telegraphed to Hitler—the fighters arrived too late.  After eight minutes it was all over, and the huge battleship suddenly capsized, entombing one thousand sailors in the hull.  Hitler angrily ordered Galland to surrender his hoard of fighters for his own Grosser Schlag—the coming top-secret Ardennes offensive—instead.

After the Tirpitz incident, he did not spare G–ring’s feelings even in public.  Some days later, G–ring showed him a memorandum.  Hitler tossed it contemptuously aside.  “There’s no point in my reading that, it’s all a pack of lies !”—and he turned his back on him.  Galland was also on the way out.

To balance his grudges, Hitler showed special favor to some.  Only recently he had ordered Bormann to find a suitable estate to present to Field Marshal von Manstein, and he did not take it amiss when Rundstedt asked for the services of Manstein, Leeb, or Kleist on the western front ;  he hinted to his staff that if ever Germany began great military offensives in the east he would again send for Manstein to command.  Even Field Marshal von Brauchitsch—whom one officer claimed to have seen riding through Berlin in full field marshal’s uniform on July 20 and whose conduct in 1939 and 1940 was not above reproach, as the Oster/Dohnanyi documents revealed—was restored to Hitler’s favor.  On August 3 he had written Hitler a letter offering his services and dissociating himself from Stauffenberg and the putschists ;  and now that Hitler’s secret order creating the Volkssturm under Himmler had been made public, the elderly field marshal wrote again offering his life for Germany.  Brauchitsch was given high marks in Hitler’s book for having fostered Peenem¸nde and the V-2 rocket project :  the V-1 flying bomb was still in action against the port of Antwerp, to which the enemy had now forced access by clearing the Scheldt Estuary, but only the V-2 rocket could still reach London.  Every day he asked Jodl for the latest V-2 launching figures.  Twenty or thirty times a day the missiles hit the British capital, each time with a one-ton warhead and the dynamic force of an express train.  “No population can hold out under such an uninterrupted bombardment,” Hitler gloated to his secretaries.  “Their nerves won’t stand it, because there is no warning from the sirens.  The bomb can impact at any instant.  Sheer panic will grip the masses and drive them out into the open countryside.  But just imagine what that means—for the millions of people of a city almost twice as big as Berlin to swarm out to where there is neither roof nor rafter to accommodate them.... It will be an avalanche of misery and suffering, because even when the people get there, the local villagers will regard them as a plague.  What parliamentary government can survive that !  There will be such a storm of protest and war-weariness that the government will be overthrown.  And that will mean peace at last.”

By early November the British government had still not admitted that London was under enemy missile attack.  But the repeated appeals to the evacuees not to return to the capital, and the lengthening obituary notices in London newspapers, gave all the confirmation Hitler needed.

From his two-week illness onward, Hitler, who had avoided as much contact with the civil affairs of the Reich as possible since 1939, concerned himself exclusively with military command decisions.

Dr. Hans Lammers, chief of the Reich Chancellery, had secured his last conference with him on September 24, 1944.  That day the F¸hrer signed his last law into the statute book (a minor item permitting Wehrmacht members to belong to the Nazi party).

In the east and west, in the Balkans, in Italy and in Norway, he was having to yield ground to the enemy which he might have been able to defend with his new strategic reserves but for his unshakable decision to concentrate those reserves in a great new counteroffensive in the Ardennes.  Every day saw him in secret consultation with the handful of associates he had taken into his confidence—Fegelein, Himmler’s liaison officer ;  Jodl, his chief strategic adviser ;  Buhle, who was scouring the Reich for every available piece of artillery.  But even the military burden was now proving too much for him.  He could seldom muster enough strength to hold his evening war conference.  Several times he lay awake all night, sick with worry about the future—and about an aching throat which stirred in him the same cancer fears that had led to an operation in 1935.  After supper on October 29, for example, he received Fegelein, Puttkamer, and Dr. Franz von Sonnleitner—Hewel’s stand-in—for their reports on SS, Wehrmacht, and foreign affairs, then he sat sipping tea until 3:30 A.M.  But he could not sleep :  Dr. Morell was fetched at 6:10 A.M.—no doubt with sedatives—and again after breakfast eight hours later.  Even the most vital evening conferences were transferred to this shabby, semidarkened bedroom.  There was room for only one stenographer.  “10:50 t0 11:21 P.M.:  took down conference of General Buhle and SS General Fegelein in F¸hrer’s bedroom,” noted the stenographer Karl Th–t, on the thirty-first.  “The F¸hrer was lying in bed, but no less vigorous than usual.  I sat behind his two visitors at a round table with a lamp.”

His Ardennes gamble depended on the eastern front remaining stable until then.  Here the war gods aided Hitler.  Although fierce fighting would rage all winter in Hungary, elsewhere the Red Army was evidently exhausted.  General Guderian predicted that Stalin would delay his main offensive until the frost—probably later than usual this year.  Thwarted in East Prussia by Hossbach’s counterattack, the Red Army had stormed Sch–rner’s army group in Kurland on October 27, again hoping for a quick victory.  But again they lost heavily.  On the eleventh day of this fierce battle General Wenck said triumphantly to Hitler, “We have already knocked out five hundred twenty-two tanks.”  When Hitler soberly pointed out that the Russians had “huge numbers of tanks,” Wenck continued, “—against which our own material losses are only three 75-millimeter guns, seven light field-howitzers, nine 122-millimeter Russian guns, and one 150-millimeter.”  “Slight losses indeed !” conceded Hitler.  “When we stand fast !  All our losses have come from our ‘glorious’ retreats—the kind of retreat one makes to ‘regain one’s tactical freedom.’ ”

By November 5 the Red Army had also been thrown out of the East Prussian town of Goldap, leaving a battlefield strewn with so much equipment in comparison to the meager haul of Russian captives that Hitler concluded—probably rightly—that the Red Army’s “divisions” were of only regimental troop strength.  “They are staking everything on their artillery,” he pronounced.  “Their ‘divisions’ are all understrength, just conglomerations of a few thousand men.”  Wenck agreed ;  it was remarkable, he pointed out, that they had scraped reinforcements together from quite far afield to try to save their foothold in Goldap.  Hitler tried to read Stalin’s mind.  Where would it be best to launch the great winter offensive ?  In East Prussia or in Poland ?  “He must have had his doubts,” commented Hitler, reflecting on the barely-hoped-for German victory in East Prussia.  “He has always been wary of sending his troops into a highly developed area, as they would be bound to realize the absurdity of bolshevism after seeing it.  So it is possible he’ll move them into here”—indicating the Vistula bridgeheads in Poland—“and that up here [on the Baltic] he’ll say he’s got what he wanted by snapping off this thing,” meaning Army Group North.  Some minutes later, after hearing of an aircraft reconnaissance report on the menacing Soviet bridgehead across the Vistula at Baranov, Hitler again postulated :  “That’s where we must be on the lookout.  Everything he’s doing up here is just a diversion.... Besides, he must sense that up here on German soil [i.e., East Prussia] he’ll have to shed a lot of blood—a lot.”

The F¸hrer felt he had good reason to expect an early clash between Russia and her Allies.  Throughout the autumn the unnatural three-year-old alliance between the capitalist democracies and the Bolshevik dictatorship had been closely examined in Berlin for signs of “metal fatigue.”

Hairline cracks were already appearing.  Stalin had given British and American military delegations twenty-four hours to get out of Bulgaria.  His invasion of Romania and Bulgaria, and the spread of Communist subversion in the Balkans, flagrantly violated the Teheran agreements of 1943—as the Cicero documents showed.  Stalin’s annexation of eastern Poland was causing uproar in London and Washington if the foreign press dispatches and code intercepts were to be trusted :  Hitler and Ribbentrop soon believed they could name their own price—once the “East-West war” began.  On October 10, Himmler had shown Hitler a strong clue that Stalin was again putting out oblique feelers to him.  Foreign Minister Anthony Eden admitted in Parliament that relations with Stalin were strained, but he advised Goebbels not to fasten any hopes on it.  However, actions spoke louder than words.  Neither Stalin nor Hitler could fail to see that the British were still purposefully allowing the Wehrmacht to escape unhindered from the southern Balkans to the battlefields in Hungary.  “It’s obvious the British could have done something here, given the position we’re in,” Jodl commented to Hitler.  “They only had to invade somewhere along here”—indicating the Adriatic coast of the Balkans—“and they would have cut us off completely down there.”  In the United States meanwhile, the Hearst press quoted Washington officials’ predictions of an early outright conflict.  In Iran, British and American oil interests had already provoked a government crisis over their dispute with the Russian oil interests.  In Greece the government appointed by the British military commander had disbanded the Communist guerrilla units—on paper, if not in fact.  Most encouraging of all for Hitler was the Luftwaffe’s discovery that an entire British tactical air force wing had vanished from the Italian front despite Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander’s warning that the Germans were not weakening.  At the same time German Intelligence had reported Russian troops and tanks appearing on Bulgaria’s frontier with Turkey, only a hundred miles from the coveted Dardanelles.  A tactical air force needed prepared bases—like those airfields the British had demanded of Turkey last winter.  Hitler speculated :

Perhaps they have disengaged a tactical wing to be on the safe side.  Because for all the polite phrases they are swapping, the tension seems to be building up.  Perhaps they are disengaging it to transfer it to Greece or to here

and at this point Hitler’s finger must have tapped eastern Thrace, that is, northern Turkey.

It’s quite definite that the Russians will attack there.  I estimate it’ll take them two to three weeks to deal with that.  And when you’re on one shore of the Dardanelles you don’t just stop there, because you’ve got to occupy the other shore as well.  You can only use the waterway if you control both shores.  So he’ll have to take the second bit as well [southern Turkey].

“And that,” concluded Hitler logically, “will start the whole structure toppling.... My view is the British are standing by, because vital interests are at stake.”  A few weeks later Ribbentrop summarized Hitler’s current strategy as follows :  “If we are asked whether we would consider a political settlement, we reply that we are intent only on fighting on, and are not thinking of any political settlement—because this stance in itself might bring such a political settlement that much nearer.”

Meanwhile the OKW instructed German military attachÈs not to discuss the coming East-West conflict at all.

With Hitler’s last European ally gone, and the German nation nevertheless unbowed by bombing or military reverses, the Allies could only hope for a speedy victory if the F¸hrer was ill or a power struggle broke out.  Rumors abounded in the foreign press that he was ill, exhausted, in an asylum, or even Himmler’s captive.  “According to this one,” Hitler guffawed, reading one news report aloud to his staff, “I’m a prisoner in my own house, my own ‘residence’ on the Obersalzberg !”

No doubt his increasing dependence on doctors and specialists caused some of the rumors.  Morell had temporarily abandoned him—pleading a heart complaint—and was now far from the autumn fogs and military alarms of East Prussia.  His assistant, Dr. Richard Weber, proved equally acceptable ;  on some days he was called to Hitler’s bunker three or four times, and on November 13, Hitler was examined by the dentist, Blaschke, and by Major Stumpfegger as well.  His throat was very sore, and he was finding it difficult to eat.  He postponed the necessary X-rays, fearing they might reveal a malignancy.

The preparations for his top-secret counterattack in the Ardennes were nearing completion.  Rundstedt had capably fulfilled Hitler’s main requirement—that the western front be stabilized until the attack was launched.  At Arnhem, Aachen, and now Antwerp, a series of costly battles had been forced on the Allies :  Antwerp had fallen into enemy hands in early September, but for three months Hitler had prevented any convoys reaching the port.  Aachen, the westernmost town of the Reich, had barred Lieutenant General Omar Bradley’s advance across the West Wall.  For purely prestige reasons he had begun a heavy attack here on October 2, but Hitler had ordered the town defended house by house, as Stalingrad had been, and when the Americans poured artillery shells into it he repeated his Paris order—that on entering, the enemy was to find only a field of ruins.  When Aachen was finally encircled and overrun on October 21, the Allies found to their chagrin that Hitler had used the vital respite to rebuild the West Wall line to the east.  Every ton of equipment and supplies that the enemy moved to the Aachen area for the later drive to the Ruhr pleased Hitler more—for then the booty from the Ardennes attack would be bigger.  He told his staff he would not be tempted to divert reinforcements from his own Ardennes buildup “even if the enemy pushes through to Cologne.”

This was General Eisenhower’s main objective for early November :  the British and American armies would exploit the Aachen gap to reach the Rhine on a one-hundred-mile front ;  they would then envelope the Ruhr industrial region from north and south.  But Rundstedt launched a strong spoiling attack on October 27, and Eisenhower’s plans were delayed by two weeks.  Meanwhile General Patton, south of the Ardennes, had assured his superiors that he could reach the Saar in three days—with a quarter of a million troops, his Third U.S. Army outnumbered the Germans 3 to 1 in that sector—and then “easily breach the West Wall.”  Patton’s attack began on November 8, but confronted with pouring rain, mud, and minefields he advanced only fifteen miles toward the West Wall in eight days before the elastic tactics of General Hermann Balck and the stubborn defense of the city of Metz finally halted him.

Hitler had not lost his nerve.  In his secret order for the Ardennes attack signed on November 10 he expressly accepted all the risks inherent in his Ardennes buildup “even if the enemy offensive on either side of Metz, and the imminent attack on the Ruhr region, should create major inroads into our territory or fortifications.”  It was a calculated risk, but one largely justified by events.

Hitler had provisionally ordered the Ardennes attack to begin on December 1.  The eastern front was still quiet, with the exception of Hungary.  But on November 14 the Allies began a renewed assault on the Alsace region ;  two days later the delayed American attack through the Aachen gap also began, while bombers devastated the minor towns between there and the Rhine :  2,703 tons were dropped on D¸ren in one attack—leaving it 95 percent wiped out—1,917 tons on J¸lich, and 1,020 tons on Heinsberg.  A steady drain on the German fuel and ammunition resources buildup for the Ardennes attack began.  Thus Keitel and Jodl had a powerful case for Hitler to transfer his headquarters to the west.  Moreover, his throat had now been X-rayed, and on the eighteenth it was again examined at Karlshof hospital (near Rastenburg) by Eicken, Morell, Stumpfegger—who had transferred his loyalties completely from Himmler to the F¸hrer—and Dr. Brandt ;  a laryngeal polyp, not a malignant tumor, had been found on the anterior third of his left vocal cord, but Eicken would have to operate on Hitler’s throat in Berlin at once.

The F¸hrer’s departure from East Prussia was kept secret.  The special train would have to arrive in Berlin in the dark small hours for that reason.  At 3:15 P.M. on November 20, while the noise and clatter of the construction gangs working on the last bunkers still continued, Hitler left the Wolf’s Lair for G–rlitz station and boarded his train.  After tea he slept for a while, and then he invited his private staff to dine with him at 8:30 P.M.  An SS orderly listed those at dinner as Martin Bormann, Dr. Morell, the dietician Fr”ulein Manzialy, Julius Schaub, the impresario Benno von Arent, and two secretaries.  One of the latter wrote evocatively of the journey :

I had come to love the forest life and East Prussia’s landscape.  Now we were leaving them forever.  Hitler probably knew that too.  And although he ordered the construction work continued as though he intended to return one day, he too was in a farewell mood.  Had he not always maintained that so long as he personally commanded any sector it had never been abandoned ?  His carriage windows were blacked out.  He sat in his compartment with the light switched on ... a twilight like a mausoleum.

I had never seen Hitler as dejected and distant as on this day.  His voice barely rose above a whisper.  His eyes were rooted to a spot on the white tablecloth.  An oppressive atmosphere crowded in on the narrow, swaying cage around us.

Hitler suddenly began to talk about an operation and about his confidence in Professor von Eicken’s skill.  “It’s a great responsibility for him, but he’s the only one who can do it.  An operation on the vocal cords isn’t dangerous, but it may leave me with no voice . . .”

At 5:30 A.M., the train arrived at Berlin’s Grunewald station.  The usual station, the Silesian station, had been damaged in an air raid.  With the car’s headlights picking out only ruins to the right and left, Hitler was driven back to his Chancellery.

His sojourn here lasted three weeks, as circumstances obliged him to keep postponing the Ardennes attack.  Fr”ulein Eva Braun joined him, and lunched and dined with him almost every day.  Eicken operated on him on November 22 ;  the pathologist confirmed that the polyp—a piece of flesh the size of a millet seed—was quite benign, more commonly referred to as a “singer’s knot.”  The morphine injection Eicken used to anesthetize the F¸hrer proved an alarming overdose, however, for he was knocked out by it for nearly eight hours ;  the professor had failed to take into account Hitler’s total abstinence from alcohol and nicotine in calculating the dose.  Gradually Hitler’s voice returned, although by early December he could still only whisper ;  soon the entire Chancellery was talking in whispers too.  He remained out of sight, kept company only by Eva and the three older secretaries ;  an adjutant brought him the war reports.  When Albert Speer came for a conference on the twenty-eighth, it was obvious Hitler had recovered.

During Hitler’s fresh physical incapacity, the enemy inflicted an unexpected defeat on General Balck’s Army Group G.  It was of little strategic significance, but a further blow to German morale.  On November 23, American tanks pushed into Strasbourg and reached the Upper Rhine, after the German First and Nineteenth armies had been put to flight.  On the twenty-sixth Hitler put Himmler himself in command of this Upper Rhine sector, with control over all army, Waffen SS, and even Luftwaffe units in his area.

On December 10, Hitler left Berlin at 5 P.M.;  ten hours later, in pitch darkness, he switched from his train to a car and drove on to the Eagle’s Nest, the bunker headquarters built in 1940 at Bad Nauheim near the western front.  That afternoon and the next he forcefully addressed two audiences of twenty senior generals whose divisions would begin the Ardennes attack on the sixteenth (his voice was not strong enough to command a larger audience).  He suggested that evil forces had blocked Germany’s unification ever since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.  Peoples suffered the hardships of war bravely, but only so long as victory was still possible.  If that hope was now suddenly removed from the enemy, their people must turn against the war.  “Whatever they do, they cannot expect me to surrender.  Never, never !”  He reminded his audiences of how Frederick the Great had fought on in the Seven Years’ War although all his generals and even his own brother had lost hope.  “His state presidents, his ministers, turned up from Berlin in droves to beg him to stop the war because it could no longer be won.  But the tenacity of that one man made it possible to fight on until finally the tide miraculously turned.  To suggest that if the throne hadn’t changed hands in Russia the tide would not have changed, is quite beside the point ;  because if they had stopped the war in the fifth year a throne change in the seventh year would have been neither here nor there.  It is that moment we have to wait for !”

Never in history had heterogeneous coalitions such as existed between East and West in 1944 survived long.  The enemy powers were already almost at each other’s throats.  “If you sit at the center of the web, like a spider, and follow this trend, you can see how from hour to hour the contrasts between them grow.  So if we throw in a few really powerful punches, we may at any moment see this entire artificially erected common front suddenly collapse with a mighty clap of thunder.”

The Ardennes offensive began at 5:30 A.M. on December 16.  The weather was perfect for the attack.

1 Romania had been partly an OKW and partly a General Staff theater ;  operational control was shared by General Gerstenberg, General Friessner, General Hansen, and Admiral Brinkmann.

2 They were indeed.  The severe armistice terms dictated by Molotov to the Hungarian delegation on October 8, 1944, required the Hungarian armies not only to declare war on Germany “immediately,” but to commence hostilities against them at the same time just as Hitler had feared.  Horthy cabled his acceptance of these terms on the tenth, as the secret Hungarian telegrams show.  After the war, however, Horthy frequently denied he had ever accepted.

3 His manuscript continued :  “At the end of September we had transferred our army group headquarters to a picturesque but modern sanatorium for railwaymen in the M·tra Mountains north of Gy–ngy–s.  The accommodation and surroundings could not have been more beautiful.  I refused to be robbed of my daily midday ride on Yutta through the brightly colored autumn beech forest.  In the evening the deer were calling !!”—The general was a passionate huntsman.

4 Upon receiving a certain code message (“Carry out order of March 1, 1920”), Generals Veress and MiklÛs were to contact the Russians and turn their guns immediately on the Germans instead ;  the Third Army’s General HeszlÈny was not trusted enough to be taken into Horthy’s confidence.  Horthy issued the code message on October 15, but the Hungarian defense ministry officers were suspicious and refused to transmit it.

5 The air-conditioning plant installed by the Drager firm had poison-gas filters ;  should these filters perish, canaries in the bunker rooms would provide an early warning.  But Hitler declined to have canaries in his own rooms.


p. 717   In Himmler’s files is a teletype report from SS Colonel Kurt Becher dated August 25, 1944.  The fact that “three hundred items [Jews] had unconditionally crossed the frontier” would amend the other side’s opinion that “we only want their agreement to exploit it for propaganda purposes” (T175/59/4473 et seq.).  See too in this connection Schellenberg’s interesting explanation noted by Count Schwerin von Krosigk in his diary on April 15, 1945 :  the treatment of the Jews had been worse than a crime—it was a folly, he said, as two thirds of all Jews lived outside the German domain.  Quite wrongly the Reichsf¸hrer was being blamed for what “admittedly occurred in his name, but not at his behest.”  Therefore they had now allowed one thousand two hundred Jews to go to Switzerland, with the object of improving the Reichsf¸hrer’s image abroad. On April 19, 1945, Himmler himself claimed to Krosigk “that for two years nothing else has happened to the Jews still left in Germany—we need them as a pawn for all the coming negotiations.”

p. 718   Kaltenbrunner’s closing speech is in IMT, Vol. XXII, pages 431 et seq.  His widow, now living in Linz, Austria, was unable to provide me with any further documentary support for his—on the face of it, implausible—account.  I traced Dr. Konrad Morgen, now a respected Frankfurt attorney ;  he displayed understandable animus toward Kaltenbrunner, but his replies to my questions largely supported the SS general’s claim.  Morgen himself had reported voluntarily to the U.S. Seventh Army on September 22, 1945, and was regarded by them as a reliable witness on SS atrocities (SAIC report PIR/313);  but when Kaltenbrunner’s defense counsel applied for Morgen’s appearance at Nuremberg, the Americans denied knowledge of his whereabouts until July 1, 1946, when they admitted that he was being held at Dachau.  Thus Morgen’s testimony came too late for Kaltenbrunner to be cross-examined on it (IMT, Vol. XX, pages 532 et seq.).  Kaltenbrunner made his claim about showing the Morgen report to Hitler in his Closing Speech at Nuremberg, August 1946 (IMT, Vol. XXII, pages 431 et seq.).  I also used his testimony earlier (Vol. XI, pages 306 and 338).  Dr. Konrad Morgen’s testimony is in IMT, Vol. XX, pages 532 et seq.:  and I corresponded with him in 1974.  Heinz Lorenz several times described how Hitler reacted to the Majdanek reports (e.g., in CSDIC interrogation);  and see Helmut S¸ndermann’s diary, October 27, 1944.

In Himmler’s files are only faint echoes of Morgen’s long investigations ;  thus on January 29, 1944, Martin Bormann asked him “please to read for yourself” a horrifying report on conditions at Lublin concentration camp.  Himmler replied suavely that the commandant concerned, SS Major Hermann Florstedt, was already under arrest :  “The abuses are being ruthlessly remedied [ausgerottet] and redressed by a sweeping judicial process” (T175/53/7290).

p. 719   On Hungary’s preparations for defection :  OCMH and U.S. State Department interrogations of Greiffenberg and Veesenmayer ;  Kasche’s note on Hitler’s talk with the Croat “Poglavnik,” September 18, 1944 (AA Serial 1770);  and naval staff diary, September 26-28.

p. 720   For Hitler’s remarks to V–r–s, see Greiffenberg’s telegram to Berlin on his talk with GÈza Lakatos, the Hungarian Prime Minister, September 15, (T77/869/5914).

p. 720   SS General Winkelmann’s sometimes hilarious account of events in Budapest, dated October 25, 1944, is in Himmler’s files (T175/59/4489 et seq.).  Even Otto Skorzeny deprecates Winkelmann’s choice of words.

p. 721   I adopt the word “shameful” used by Professor C.A. Macartney in his publication of the secret Hungarian telegrams in VfZ, 1966, pages 79 et seq.  From Lakatos’s testimony in the trial of Sz·lasi we know that in the decisive Budapest government meeting of October 10, 1944, he had spoken in favor of accepting the Soviet terms—and even proposed they invite the Red Army to halt briefly outside Budapest to give BÈla MiklÛs’s First Army time to withdraw “so that we can really attack the Germans properly.”

p. 722   The appointment book kept by manservant Heinz Linge for the F¸hrer from October 14, 1944, to February 28, 1945, was found by British Intelligence officers on September 10, 1945, in the ruins of the Chancellery (T84/22);  with it was Hitler’s desk appointment pad of April 1945 (AL/1488/4).

p. 724   Hitler kept his promise not to blacken Horthy’s name.  See the D.N.B. (German News Agency) dispatch of October 17, and Helmut Sundermann’s diary of the same date.  Editors had been instructed, “No attacks are to be made on the former regent.”

p. 724   A folder of documents on the bunker’s air-conditioning plant is in the BA, file R 58/1057.

p. 726   Hitler told Keitel and Jodl, in conversation on April 22, 1945, that he had resolved to die at the Wolfs Lair.

p. 726   Jodl’s note on the F¸hrer’s war conference of October 25, 1944, survives.  “Russian atrocities during occupation of East Prussian territory must be publicized by Wehrmacht propaganda branch.  Photographs, eyewitness accounts, documentary reports, etc., for this” (1787-PS).

p. 728   On the decline in G–ring’s role :  interrogations of G–ring and Galland ;  Speer’s chronicle, October 7, 1944 ;  the Kreipe diary ;  and Koller’s note on a talk with G–ring, November 5.

p. 728   The disappointing performance of the Me-262 jet as a fighter is highlighted in Messerschmitt director Fritz Seiler’s papers (FD-4924/45)—a report by Ludwig B–lkow dated October 25—and a memo in Bormann’s files, dated October 21 (NS-6/152).  The first Heinkel 162 “Volks” fighter flew on December 6, 1944 ;  it was an aerodynamic disaster.

p. 733   The quotation is from Hitler’s war conference on November 6, 1944 (Heiber, page 711).  See the Neue Z¸rcher Zeitung November 14, and Himmler’s files (T175/524) for such rumors.  Hitler also mentioned them during lunch with Sz·lasi on December 4.  Baron Gabriel von KemÈny, the Hungarian foreign minister, later reported :  “The F¸hrer said with a laugh that the enemy camp has repeatedly proclaimed him dead—crediting him with a complete nervous breakdown or rumoring a cancer of the throat” (T175/130/6884).