Posted Monday, July 8, 2002

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You won't have any difficulty finding him. He lives in New Mexico. He had an unusual name. It was Gutierrez. -- Former SS officer's wife, helping Mr Irving to locate the American who made off with Eva Braun's diaries.



July 8, 2002 (Monday)
Key West (Florida)

I SHALL start unveiling the speakers for Cincinnati 2002 soon. Last year I invited Traudl Junge, private secretary of Adolf Hitler; she wrote apologizing that she was too old now, which she proved by dying earlier this year.

Earlier this year I sent a diffident invitation to Johannes Göhler, who was Hermann Fegelein's adjutant; he was with Hitler until a week before the end -- Hitler had ordered Fegelein shot for desertion -- and was then flown out of Berlin with the secret orders, entrusted to him by the Führer in person, to destroy all Hitler's and Eva Braun's papers. But Göhler has replied a few days ago regretting that he would normally have accepted with alacrity, but he is now in his 80s and experience with his comrades shows that he is at risk of being declined entry by the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service: and not just that -- they would hold him in a detention center for a few days first, before sending him back.

I just wanted the younger Americans (and our international guests as well) to have a chance, as I did over the years, to meet with these people at first hand and get first hand real-history accounts of how things were on what Basil Liddell Hart once called "the other side of the hill".


HITLER ordered Göhler to destroy all his and Eva's private papers in Bavaria. It turns out that Göhler did not carry out Hitler's orders personally, and the junior SS officer whom he detailed to do so did not destroy the papers either. That officer was Franz Konrad, about whom more shortly.

Göhler's wife Ursula -- now long dead, I believe -- told me the whole story nearly thirty years ago, in November 1973: some parts of it I can't reveal here, but she read all Eva's diaries and all the other priceless papers and then packed them into the suitcase of a US Army Counter-Intelligence Corps officer, for whom she was working after 1945, and he took them back to the USA in February 1946 -- Eva's diaries, bundles of letters from Adolf, and much of her personal stuff as well. The CIC officer's haul even included the uniform which Hitler had been wearing at the moment of the July 20, 1944 bomb attempt on his life.

"You won't have any difficulty finding him," Ursula Göhler assured me a few months later, after I won her confidence. "He lives in New Mexico. He had an unusual name. It was Gutierrez."

It was not a promising start, but find him I did (that is another story). I paid him a surprise visit a few days later, in his little adobe house on the edge of the New Mexico desert. I shall post the whole Gutierrez dossier on my website in the next few days, as there is no point in sitting on it any longer.


I BIKE out to Stock Island at seven p.m. I phone Kenneth Alford from Harpoon Harry's (I find it is possible to speak quite quietly into a cellphone in public), and he eagerly accepts the invitation to speak at Cincinnati. Alford is an expert in military research. He has a new book coming out in July, Nazi Millionaires: The Cold War Winners (Casemate Books). He has dug deeply into the secrets of post-war Germany and America, and traced what happened to the RSHA's top guns and the missing millions amassed by the SS. These Nazis "misled US army investigators and walked away free men," says Alford.

It is a small world, among real historians. Alford first came into my sights in January 1990, when he corresponded with me about Franz Konrad, the officer whom Johannes Göhler detailed in April 1945 to destroy the Eva Braun papers. Konrad was hanged by Poles in 1947, and from what I hear he no doubt deserved it.

I passed on to Alford the leads he needed to locate Robert Gutierrez, that 1945 CIC officer, in New Mexico and track down other OSS thieves. He wrote a whole-page article on the Gutierrez case in The New York Times (which admittedly managed to suppress the fact that he had all the necessary initial leads from me!) He got nowhere with G. either. Somebody told me afterwards that a wealthy American had also visited Gutierrez and opened his attaché case to reveal two million dollars in cash: "This is yours," he said to Gutierrez, "If you give me the Eva Braun papers." Even then, Gutierrez did not.

But it is amazing what a convincing ID can do. A German colleague of mine, whose acquaintance I made while researching at the Federal Records Center in Maryland, -- he was researching at the time in the captured I.G. Farben files for Jewish "shakedown" interests -- scooped part of the Eva Braun cache, years later.

His name was Willi Korte. It was he who also pulled off the amazing feat of finding the Quedlinburg Tryptych, locked away in a bank vault in Texas where its GI thief had stowed it. Korte used a combination of intuition, common sense, and braggadocio to persuade the local Texas bank manager to admit that the mediaeval work of art was in his bank's vault. It is now safe back in Germany, the German government having quietly bought it from the GI's family, and Korte earning a substantial finder's fee.


WHEN it came to the Eva Braun stuff, Korte was a much better investigator than I, or perhaps just more ruthless. I recall that in a fit of generousity, in 1986, I gave him the leads to locate Gutierrez too. By this time, around 1983, the US Government had released its intelligence files on the affair. (See my 1983 diary). I expected to hear no more of this, but Korte flew straight down to see him, flourished his German driving licence with its photo ID, and implied that he was visiting the ex CIC officer on government business.

"I have been expecting you all these years," said Mr Gutierrez to this visitor, and without further ado he handed over to this "official German representative" Eva's wedding dress and a number of silverware items, including her hairbrush and a toilet mirror, embossed with her characteristic EB "butterfly" monogram. Korte solemnly signed a receipt for them, and they turned up soon after in the auction house of Hermann Historica, in Munich.

I saw them in the catalogue, and knew what had happened. How I kicked myself! Feeling cheated and somewhat annoyed, I immediately took a plane from Kansas City down to Albuquerque, and knocked on that same door where I had stood thirteen years years before: a grubby passing child said that Mr Gutierrez was not home, but later that day he agreed by phone to meet me at a big hotel downtown. Nothing about him or his story had changed. I taped the whole conversation, he dropped delicate hints that he still had other things, but I never saw them; and now I suppose I never shall.

I suspect that he may well have destroyed the Adolf Hitler/Eva Braun papers, for all their inestimable monetary value. One argument that he used, during my first surprise visit, all those years ago when we first spoke in 1973, has stuck in my memory: "If these letters were ever published, they would show him as a human being. That would not be right."

The born-again Christian in Robert Gutierrez seems to have triumphed over the natural instinct to convert his trophies into cash, and history (or psychiatry) is the loser.

Nobody can fathom him. Even the most experienced truffel-hunter floundered. One just didn't know "what piano to play on", as the Germans say. Some suspect that Gutierrez sits tight on his priceless trove because of his son, who is an astronaut in the NASA space program; he doesn't want to jeopardise his son's career.

There may be other reasons. After he came for dinner in 1987, I think it was, in that Albuquerque hotel, I found his wallet on the floor; before I handed it in I took a peek inside -- it had an identity pass tucked into a flap; and this showed that he still enjoyed the rank of a colonel, in the CIA.


[Postscript, Tuesday, July 9, 2002: A reader informs me that from SSN records a Robert A Gutierrez of 87125 Albuquerque, Bernalillo, NM, born May 21, 1914, appears to have died on December 26, 2000]



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