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Tuesday, February 8, 2005

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Göring in happier days

I gave Göring his poison pill, says American

Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles

AN American yesterday [sic] claimed to have unwittingly helped Hermann Göring to commit suicide and cheat the hangman at Nuremberg. The former GI said he slipped Hitler's number two a phial of cyanide.

For decades, historians have pondered how the art-loving war criminal managed to kill himself hours before he was supposed to be executed. One theory states that he hid the poison throughout his trial, another that Göring's wife passed it to him in a kiss.

Herbert Lee Stivers, a 78-year-old retired sheet metal worker from southern California, has now volunteered a new explanation: he handed Göring the deadly capsule in the belief that it was medicine. In 1946, Mr Stivers was a 19-year-old private assigned to an honour guard that escorted defendants in and out of the courtroom. He told the Los Angeles Times he agreed to take the phial to the Nazi to impress a local girl, who called herself Mona.

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David Irving comments:

EVERY NOW and then they come out of the woodwork, these befuddled elderly gentlemen who believe they were "there".
   One advantage of running a popular website -- as a result of my posting a link to ousted cheerleader Marilou Bresswell's webpage yesterday she got a thousand extra hits -- is that strangers constantly contact me with documents, names, and links. (More, please! More!)
   In 2003 one Herb Mosher told me of a guy in Florida, a Mr Ned Putzell, who was also a chronic Göring-suicide-helper. He too claimed to be the mystery man who slipped to the Reichsmarschall the means to "escape".
   I told Mosher what I shall repeat below, and Mosher gratefully acknowledged on July 10, 2003: "Mr. Irving, as a follow up on the Goering suicide . . . I've touched base with some former OSS members who served at Nuremberg with General Bill Donovan . . . and their consensus is that Ned Putzell, although a former OSS member, was not at Nuremberg . . . and apparently has a fantasy of "giving Goering the cyanide".
   Yes, it is a jungle out there, and full of former GIs who believe they were there, winning medals, liberating camps, and . . . in this case helping the famous Hermann Göring to die.

THE unquestionably true story was first uncovered by my good friend, the fine Texan researcher Ben Swearingen, now alas passed on. He wrote a complete book on the Göring suicide.
   He interviewed the widow of the Texan US army Lieutenant Jack Wheelis, and she showed him the fine pen Göring had given him -- a fellow huntsman -- as a reward. Wheelis had access to the property vault at Nuremberg where Göring's effects were stored.
   Göring told him where the capsule was hidden, Wheelis gave it to the German prison doctor, Dr Pflücker, who brought it in to the Reichsmarschall on his final visit. See my Hermann Göring biography for more.

THE real mystery of course is this: Why do serious newspapers believe this latest garbage? A moment's thought would have helped. The standard-issue Nazi glass cyanide capsule was housed in a screw-capped brass cartridge case, 3.5 cm long; try getting that inside a fountain pen! There is a photograph of it, next to a ruler, in my book; that photo was an annex to the official US Army Board of Inquiry report.
   The brass casing was found clutched in Göring's hand. Was the US army private so dim that he did not realise what was in it?
   Why do the newspapers contact second-raters for their views, when they know full well that my own Hermann Göring biography was the first to investigate the death in full on the basis of secret reports, including his last handwritten letters, which I published exclusively in 1987 -- letters which the Allied Control Commission had ruled in 1946 should never be allowed to see the light of day.
   The director of the Berlin Document Center, David Marwell (later chief of the OSI) was a friend who gave me privileged access to these rare letters, which were in his safe at the BDC, and in these Göring gave his own cynical version of how he got the cyanide capsule, hoping to get his own back on the hated prison commandant Burton C Andrus ("I had the capsule with me all the time" -- not so, Fatso).
   Incidentally, the newspaper's report ("In a note he claimed that he had the cyanide with him all along") indicates that they have relied on my book, without crediting me; mine is the only book to reproduce those letters.
   After completing work on my Hermann Göring biography, I donated a copy of the full top secret US Army Board of Inquiry Report to the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich and to other archives, along with all the other relevant papers, and I am pretty certain that there was no mention of any Mr Stivers in the very complete listing of all the US military personnel who had access to Göring in his cell.

JUST as a small postscript: it is amusing to see that The Daily Telegraph asked Ann Tusa, author (we are now told) of the book The Nuremberg Trial, to comment. What could she possibly know? Did she investigate the Göring suicide in any depth at all? (No). Well, her husband John Tusa (a surprisingly English-sounding name for a Czech Jewish immigrant) happens to be close to the Telegraph.
   When my own book, "Nuremberg, the Last Battle" came out, the Telegraph obligingly asked Ann Tusa to review it: she did so scathingly, without of course hinting that she had published a rival (and greatly inferior) work.
   It all belongs in the file, "How They Do It." And it is another of a growing list of examples of why people now should go to the Internet, and use search engines, to find out What Really Happened -- i.e., Real History -- and not trust the old fashioned printed newspapers any more.

Nuremberg book

Now back in print! £27.90 plus shipping [how to order] Many full colour photos of the trial and personalities.

She approached him in the street, was interested when he produced an autograph from another prisoner, Baldur von Schirach, and asked to keep it. "The next day I guarded Göring and got his autograph and handed that to her," Mr Stivers told the newspaper. "She told me that she had a friend she wanted me to meet. The following day we went to his house."

The woman introduced him to two men, apparently called Erich and Mathias. They told Mr Stivers that Göring was "a very sick man" and needed medicine that prison officials were not providing. Mr Stivers, a member of the 1st Infantry Division's 26th Regiment, said he twice took notes from the men to Göring, concealed in a fountain pen. Then one of them gave him the capsule to deliver.

"He [Erich] said it was medication, and that if it worked and Göring felt better, they'd send him some more," Mr Stivers recalled.

Two weeks later, hours before his execution on Oct 15 1946, Göring committed suicide. In a note he claimed that he had the cyanide with him all along. "I wasn't thinking of suicide when I took it to Göring," said Mr Stivers, who was not interrogated by Army investigators after the death but was merely asked if he had seen anything suspicious.

"He was never in a bad frame of mind. I would have never knowingly taken something in that I thought was going to be used to help someone cheat the gallows."

Goering at Nuremberg

A military investigation concluded that the commander-in-chief of the Nazi air force had the cyanide throughout his trial and hid it in "the cavity of the umbilical," "in his alimentary tract" and behind the rim of his cell lavatory. But Mr Stivers said he always doubted that.

"I felt very bad after his suicide. I had a funny feeling; I didn't think there was any way he could have hidden it on his body."

Mr Stivers, from Hesperia in San Bernardino County, said he had been haunted by the death but kept his involvement secret as he feared he could be charged by the military.

It was only at the prompting of his daughter, Linda Dadey, that he agreed to speak out. Her father felt he had "made peace with God" by coming forward, she said.

Many have questioned the Army version and suggested the poison was smuggled into the prison. In his 1984 book The Mystery of Hermann Göring's Suicide, Ben Swearingen speculated that Lieut Jack Wheelis, who accepted a watch from Göring, allowed the Nazi to retrieve the phial from luggage kept in a prison storeroom.

Military records indicate that Mr Stivers was a guard at the Nuremburg trials. His version of events cannot be proved but several experts said it had a ring of truth.

However, Ann Tusa, the British historian who wrote the book The Nuremberg Trials with her husband John, said: "It's possible but I would be cautious. There have been several people over the years who have come forward [to claim involvement]. "Nobody really knows. One questions this man's motives, why he's been so quiet so long. I'm just terribly puzzled why he should suddenly come forward."

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.

And here's the original Associated Press dispatch on which the above is based:

Monday, February 7, 2005

Man Says He Helped Göring Commit Suicide: Former Prison Guard Says He Gave Nazi 'Medicine'

A former prison guard says he felt "very bad" after the suicide of Nazi Hermann Göring.

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 7) - A former guard at the Nuremberg trials has come forward to say he believes he provided the poison that Nazi Hermann Göring used to commit suicide hours before his scheduled execution for war crimes, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Herbert Lee Stivers, now 78, was a 19-year-old Army private when he took notes and a capsule hidden inside a fountain pen to Göring at the request of two men who said the notorious Nazi general was "a very sick man" who needed medicine, the newspaper said.

Stivers said he is now convinced the "medicine" was the cyanide that killed Göring on Oct. 15, 1946, the night before he was to be executed. The commander of the German air force had been convicted at the Nuremberg trials the previous month.

"I felt very bad after his suicide. I had a funny feeling; I didn't think there was any way he could have hidden it on his body," Stivers said.

Stivers had agreed to pass on the items after being introduced to the men, who called themselves Erich and Mathias.

"(Erich) said it was medication, and that if it worked and Göring felt better, they'd send him some more," Stivers said. "I wasn't thinking of suicide when I took it to Göring. He was never in a bad frame of mind."

A military investigation concluded that Göring had the cyanide all along and that a vial of poison was at various times in a body cavity or behind the rim of his cell toilet.

The Army's explanation never rang true to him, Stivers said, noting that Göring "was there over a year. Why would he wait all that time if he had the cyanide?"

It was impossible to independently verify Stivers' claim. But military records do show that Stivers was a guard at the Nuremberg trials, the newspaper said.

An Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon declined to comment to the Times.

Stivers, a retired sheet-metal worker from Hesperia, said he broke his silence at the urging of his daughter.

At the trial, he said, the guards were free to chat with the prisoners and even collect their autographs, and he recalled Göring as "a very pleasant guy" who spoke fairly good English. He said he was introduced to the two men by a pretty woman who had approached him.

After the suicide, he said, the guards were grilled but were asked only if they had seen anything suspicious.

Aaron Breitbart, a researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said Stivers' story "is crazy enough to be true," but there's no way to prove it. "Nobody really knows who did it except the person who did it," he told the newspaper.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


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