Posted Monday, August 30, 1999

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Monday, August 30, 1999

Bormann ashes are buried in the Baltic



THE last remains of Martin Bormann, Hitler's right-hand man, have been cremated and buried secretly at sea to prevent his grave from becoming a site of neo-Nazi pilgrimage.

The urn containing the Nazi's ashes was sunk in the Baltic sea near Kiel on August 16, according to a report in today's Der Spiegel magazine. The report was confirmed yesterday by Bavarian officials.

One of the final enigmas of the Third Reich has thus been put to rest. Bormann, among the most influential figures in the Reich, broke out of Hitler's besieged Berlin bunker on the night of May 2, 1945, shortly after the German leader killed himself. He then disappeared.

At the Nuremberg war crimes trial he was sentenced to death in his absence and the hunt was on for the key remaining figure in Hitler's leadership circle. British newspapers were particularly determined, tracing Bormann to the Costa del Sol, South America, Switzerland and Egypt. The German spy service meanwhile was convinced that Bormann was alive and well in Moscow. In fact, Bormann seems to have died in Berlin, at the Lehrter railway station a short distance from the bunker. His skeleton was dug up by building workers in 1972 and the skull confirmed as his on the basis of dental records. Between the teeth there were traces of glass -- Bormann clearly made use of his cyanide capsule.

In 1973 the German authorities officially declared the hunt to he over but Fleet Street was not convinced and sent its finest, at considerable expense, to follow trails, interview witnesses and exhume bodies in Paraguay.

The Germans appear not to have been absolutely certain in their judgment and refused permission to cremate the body in case there had to be further testing.

When DNA analysis became commonplace in the early 1990s Bormann's two sons demanded a new and comprehensive examination. It was time, they said, to let their father rest in peace. In May 1998 the DNA checks established that there was no room for doubt, although one British paper continued to question the corpse's identity.

The family was worried that a grave in Germany would end up like that of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy. Every August neo-Nazis try to parade in front of Hess's grave to mark the anniversary of his death. It is an unedifying spectacle with police often having to block approach roads and intercept coach-loads of right-wing extremists. The burial at sea of Martin Bormann will prevent such embarrassing demonstrations unless, that is, the neo-Nazis rent U-boats.


AR logoTHE lengths those Germans have to go to to avoid a resurgence by those pesky "neo-Nazis"! -- Buried at sea, secretly: so now Bormann's ashes are mingling with those of John F Kennedy Jr and his wife, and those of David Irving's Royal Navy officer father, and time moves on. . .

DAVID IRVING WRITES: "Martin Bormann was one of Hitler's most industrious henchmen, in a milieu where the hardworking triumphed over the indolent and malcontent. Hovering in the background, or seated inconspicuously at meals, Bormann had his notepad always ready to take down his Führer's remarks, convert them to commands, and order them executed without question. Hitler remarked one day that he had no shade to stand in as the thousands trooped past his summer home at the Berghof to see their Führer. Next day, he found a full grown lime tree standing there for him: brought in Bormann.

"Bormann became indispensable. His private hatred of the Catholic church and of the Jews became the mainspring in the campaigns which were to prove the eventual downfall of the Nazis. The body of Bormann was eventually dug up after brilliant sleuth work by Jochen von Lang, Stern journalist [born Jochen Piechocki, Himmler's man at the propaganda ministry, who boasted that it was his voice on Berlin radio that announced the death of Hitler], in the 1970s. Buried next to Bormann's was found a second male corpse with a wedding ring -- the date engraved inside confirmed it as the corpse of Hitler's SS doctor Ludwig von Stumpfegger, as I confirmed with Stumpfegger's brother, then living at Ingolstadt. The two men had broken out of Hitler's bunker on May 1; trapped by Russian troops beneath the Lehrter railroad bridge, and dazed by a tank shell detonating just yards away, they swallowed their cyanide pills as Hitler had ordered all his staff to do.

"Dental evidence on Bormann at first seemed conflicting, until the doctors realised they were looking at the jaw the wrong way up. In his expensive leather greatcoat, which was stripped off the body by a Russian soldier, was found a pocket diary, which my Moscow friend Lev Bezymenski later published: these pages provided important evidence that the Hitler's Last Testament table talks published by Trevor Roper in the 1960s were fake. But that is another story."

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