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Martin Bormann – Nazi in Exile
by Paul Manning

Chapter 1

IT WAS EARLY MORNING AND THE HAZE COVERING the broad Alsatian plain was lifting to reveal glistening moun­tainside acres of wine grapes and the string of fortresses that dominate the hillsides and vineyard villages on the road from Colmar-fortresses old when Joan of Arc was young. A Mercedes­Benz, flying Nazi swastika and SS flags from the front bump­ers, was moving at high speed through columns of German infantry marching toward Colmar from where the command car had come. A mountainous region, some of World War II's bitterest fighting was to take place there as winter approached, once American divisions had bypassed Paris and moved through Metz into the Colmar Gap.

The staff car had left Colmar at first light for Strasbourg, carrying SS Obergruppenfuehrer Scheid, who held the lank of lieutenant general in the Waffen SS, as well as the title~of Dr. Scheid, director of the industrial firm of Hermadorff & Schen­burg Company. While the beauty of the rolling countryside was not lost on Dr. Scheid, his thoughts were on the meeting of important German businessmen to take place on his arrival at the Hotel Maison Rouge in Strasbourg. Reichsleiter Martin Bormann himself had ordered the conference, and although he would not physically be present he had confided to Dr. Scheid, who was to preside, "The steps to be taken as a result of this meeting will determine the postwar future of Germany." The Reichsleiter had added, "German industry must realize that the war cannot now be won, and must take steps to prepare for a postwar commercial campaign which will in time insure the economic resurgence of Germany." It was August 10, 1944.

The Mercedes-Benz bearing SS Obergruppenfuehrer Scheid moved slowly now through the narrow streets of Strasbourg. Dr. Scheid noticed that this was a most agreeable city, one to return to after the war. It was the city where in 1792 the stirring Mar­seillaise was composed by Rouget de Lisle, ostensibly for the mayor's banquet. The street signs all in French, the names of the shops all in German, were characteristic of bilingual Alsace, a land that has been disputed throughout known history, par­ticularly since the formation of the two nations, Germany and France. After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles restored Alsace-Lorraine to France, but after the fall of France in World War II the Germans reannexed these 5,600 square miles of territory, and life went on as usual, except for the 18,000 Alsa­tians who had volunteered to fight for the Third Reich on the Eastern Front.

The staff car drew up before the Hotel Maison Rouge on the rue des France-Bourgeois. Dr. Scheid, briefcase in hand, entered the lobby and ascended in the elevator to the conference suite reserved for his meeting. Methodically he circled the room, greeting each of the twelve present, then took his place at the head of the conference table. Even the pads and pencils before each man had been checked; Waffen SS technicians had swept the entire room, inspecting for hidden microphones and mini­ature transmitters. As an additional precaution, all suites flank­ing the conference suite had been held unfilled, as had the floors above and below, out of bounds for the day. Lunch was to be served in the conference suite by trusted Waffen SS stewards. Those present, all thirteen of them, could be assured that the thorough precautions would safeguard them all, even the secre­tary who was to take the minutes, later to be typed with a copy sent by SS courier to Bormann.

A transcript of that meeting is in my possession. It is a cap­tured German document from the files of the U.S. Treasury Department, and states who was present and what was said, as the economy of the Third Reich was projected onto a postwar profit-seeking track.

Present were Dr. Kaspar representing Krupp, Dr. Tolle repre­ senting Rochling, Dr. Sinceren representing Messerschmitt, Drs. Kopp, Vier, and Beerwanger representing Rheinmetall, Captain Haberkorn and Dr. Rube representing Bussing, Drs. Ellenmayer and Kardos representing Volkswagenwerk, engineers Drose, Yanchew, and Koppshem representing various factories in Posen, Poland (Drose, Yanchew, & Co., Brown-Boveri, Herkuleswerke, Busehwerke, and Stadtwerke); Dr. Meyer, an official of the German Naval Ministry in Paris; and Dr. Strossner of the Min­ istry of Armament, Paris.

Dr. Scheid, papers from his briefcase arranged neatly on the table before him, stated that all industrial materiel in France was to be evacuated to Germany immediately. "The battle of France is lost to Germany," he admitted, quoting Reichsleiter Bormann as his authority, "and now the defense of the Siegfried Line (and Germany itself) is the main problem.... From now on, German industry must take steps in preparation for a post­ war commercial campaign, with each industrial firm making new contacts and alliances with foreign firms. This must be done individually and without attracting any suspicion. However, the .party and the Third Reich will stand behind every firm with permissive and financial support." He assured those present that the frightening law of 1933 known as Treason Against the Nation, which mandated the death penalty for violation of foreign exchange regulations or concealing of foreign currency, was now null and void, on direct order of Reichsleiter Bormann.

Dr. Scheid also affirmed, "The ground must now be laid on the financial level for borrowing considerable sums from foreign countries after the war." As an example of the kind of support that had been most useful to Germany in the past, Dr.' Scheid cited the fact that "patents for stainless steel belonged to the Chemical. Foundation, Inc., New York, and the Krupp Com­pany of Germany, jointly, and that of the. United States Steel Corporation, Carnegie, Illinois, American Steel & Wire, Na­tional Tube, etc., were thereby under an obligation to work with the Krupp concern." He also cited the Zeiss Company, the Leica Company, and the Hamburg-Amerika Line as typical firms that had been especially effective in protecting German interests abroad. He gave New York addresses to the twelve risen. Glancing at his watch, Dr. Scheid asked for comments from each of the twelve around the table. Then he adjourned the morning session for lunch.

At his signal, soldier stewards brought in a real Strasbourg lunch. On a long side table they placed plates of pdte de f oie gras, matelote, noodles, sauerkraut, knuckles of ham, sausages, and onion tarts, along with bottles of Coq au Riesling from nearby wineries. Brandy and cigars were also set out and the stewards left the room, closing the doors quietly as guards stood at attention. Following lunch, several, including Dr. Scheid, left for the Rhine and Germany, where they would spread the word among their peers in industry about the new industrial goals for the postwar years. A smaller conference in the afternoon was presided over by Dr. Bosse of the German Armaments Ministry. It was attended only by representatives of Hecko, Krupp, and Rochling. Dr. Bosse restated Bormann's belief that the war was all but lost, but that it would be continued by Germany until certain goals to insure the economic resurgence of Germany after the war had been achieved. He added that German industrialists must be prepared to finance the continuation of the Nazi Party, which would be forced to go underground, just as had the Maquis in France.

"From now on, the government in Berlin will allocate large sums to industrialists so that each can establish a secure post­war foundation in foreign countries. Existing financial reserves in foreign countries must be placed at the disposal of the party in order that a strong German empire can be created after defeat. It is almost immediately required," he continued, "that the large factories in Germany establish small technical offices or research bureaus which will be absolutely independent and have no connection with the factory. These bureaus will receive plans and drawings of new weapons, as well as documents which they will need to continue their research. These special offices are to be established in large cities where security is better, although some might be formed in small villages near sources of hydroelectric power, where these party members can pretend to be studying the development of water resources for benefit of any Allied investigators."

Dr. Bosse stressed that knowledge of these technical bureaus would be held only by a very few persons in each industry and by chiefs of the Nazi Party. Each office would have a liaison agent representing the party and its leader, Reichsleiter Bor­ mann. "As soon as the party becomes strong enough to reestab­ lish its control over Germany, the industrialists will be paid for their effort and cooperation by concessions and orders."

At both morning and afternoon conferences, it was empha­ sized that the existing prohibition against the export of capital "is now completely withdrawn and replaced by a new Nazi policy, in which industrialists with government assistance (Bor­mann to be the guiding leader) will export as much of their capital as possible, capital meaning money, bonds, patents, sci­entists, and administrators."

Bosse urged the industrialists to proceed immediately to get their capital outside Germany. "The freedom thus given to German industrialists further cements their relations with the party by giving them a measure of protection in future efforts at home and overseas."

From this day, German industrial firms of all rank were to begin placing their funds-and, wherever possible, key man­power-abroad, especially in neutral countries. Dr. Bosse advised that "two main banks can be used for the export of funds for firms who have made no prior arrangements: the Basler Han­delsbank and the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt of Zurich." He also stated, "There are a number of agencies in Switzerland which for a five percent commission will buy property in Switzer­land for German firms, using Swiss cloaks."

Dr. Bosse closed the meeting, observing that "after the defeat of Germany, the Nazi Party recognizes that certain of its best known leaders will be condemned as war criminals. However, in cooperation with the industrialists, it is arranging to place its less conspicuous but most important members with various German factories as technical experts or members of its research and designing offices."

The meeting adjourned late. As the participants left, Dr. Bosse placed a call to Martin Bormann in Berlin over SS lines. The conversation was cryptic, merely a report that all industrial­ists at the one-day Strasbourg conference had agreed to the new policy of "flight capital" as initiated by the Reichsleiter. With the report completed, Bormann then placed a call, to Dr. Georg von Schnitzler, member of the central committee of the I.G. Farben board of directors.

I.G. Farben had been the largest single earner of foreign ex­change for Germany during the years of the Third Reich. Its operations in Germany included control of 380 companies with factories, power installations, and mines, as well as vast chemical establishments. It operated in 93 countries and the sun never set on I.G. Farben, which had a participation, both acknowledged and concealed, in over 500 firms outside Germany. They grew as the Third Reich did, and as German armies occupied each country in Europe they were followed by Farben technicians who built further factories and expanded the I.G. investment to RM (Reichsmarks) 7 billion. The Farben cartel agreements involving trade and the related use of its chemical patents also numbered over 2,000, including such major industrial concerns as Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), the Aluminum Company of America, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Ethyl Export Corporation, Imperial Chemical Industries (Great Britain), Dow Chemical Company, Rohm & Haas, Etablissments Kuhl­man (France), and the Mitsui interests of Japan.

I.G. Farben was a formidable ally for Reichsleiter Bormann in his plans for the postwar economic rebirth of Germany. In a telephone conversation with Dr. von Schnitzler, Bormann asked what would the loss of factories in France and the other occu­pied countries mean to German industry in general and to I.G. in particular. Dr. von Schnitzler said he believed the technical dependence of these countries on I.G. would be so great that despite German defeat I.G., in one way or another, could regain its position of control of the European chemical business.

"They will need the constant technical help of I.G.'s scien­tific laboratories as they do not own appropriate installations within themselves," he further told Bormann, adding that he and other industrialists such as Hermann Rochling "do not think much of Hitler's recent declaration of a scorched-earth policy for Germany. Destruction of our factories will surely inhibit Germany's recovery in the postwar world," he affirmed.

Bormann pondered this exchange with von Schnitzler. It was then that he determined to countermand Hitler's order for the ruthless destruction of German industry. He was aware also that the Gauleiters, the regional political supervisors and area com­manders of the party, who reported to him as party chief, shared the same view as expressed by Dr. von Schnitzler.

However, Bormann waited nearly four weeks until the right moment came to go against Hitler's directive. It came when Albert Speer, minister for armaments and war production, sent a teletype on September 5, 1944, to headquarters for Hitler's attention. In this message, Speer outlined the realistic reasons why industrial plants should not be destroyed; Bormann lost no time sending this on to all the Gauleiters of Germany with his own imperative: "On behalf of the Fuehrer I herewith transmit to you a communication from Reichsminister Speer. Its provisos are to be observed strictly and unconditionally."

Speer had commented, "Even Bormann had played along with me. He seemed to be more aware than Hitler of the fearful consequences of total devastation." Speer also noted, in this month of September 1944, that "Hitler's authority in the party was no longer what it had been."

Such authority had long since passed quietly to Reichsleiter Bormann, who had succeeded in outmaneuvering all the old gang: Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, the various generals, and Speer, who was told in 1944 by Hitler always to deal directly with Bormann on all matters. As Speer put it, "I had lost for good." He was embittered and envious, and his feelings were to color every utterance he made about the Reichsleiter.

Martin Bormann was now the leader in fact of Germany. Hitler, exhausted, drained of the charisma of the glory days of the thirties and the conquest years of the early forties, was going through the gestures of military leadership mechanically as his troops fell back on all fronts. Martin Bormann, forty-one at the fall of Berlin, and strong as a bull, was at all times at Hitler's side, impassive and cool. His be-all and end-all was td guide Hitler, and now to make the decisions that would lead to the eventual rebirth of his country. Hitler, his intuitions at peak level despite his crumbling physical and mental health in the last year of the Third Reich, realized this and approved of it. "Bury your treasure," he advised Bormann, "for you will need it to begin a Fourth Reich." That is precisely what Bormann was about when he set in motion the "flight capital" scheme August 10, 1944, in Strasbourg. The treasure, the golden ring, he envi­ sioned for the new Germany was the sophisticated distribution of national and corporate assets to safe havens throughout the neutral nations of the rest of the world.

Martin Bormann knew in his heart that the war in Europe was over when Normandy was lost. The day Hitler's troops were defeated at the Falaise Gap was the day he ordered swing indus­trialists of Germany to Strasbourg to hear his plans for Ger­many's future.

Society's natural survivors, French version, who had served the Third Reich as an extension of German industry, would con­tinue to do so in the period of postwar trials, just as they had survived the war, occupation, and liberation. These were many of the French elite, the well-born, the propertied, the titled, the experts, industrialists, businessmen, bureaucrats, bankers. On the other hand, the intellectuals, the writers, the propagandists for the Germans, and the deputies of the Third Republic were among those purged with a heavy hand. The number of French­men who were part of the resistance during World War II was never large, about 2 percent of the adult population. With the liberation of France, old scores were settled: 124,750 persons were tried, 767 being executed for treason or contact with the enemy in time of war. Sentenced to prison terms were 38,000, who also endured "loss of national dignity"-disenfranchisement and ineligibility to hold public office. Even before any arrests and trials could take place, another 4,500 were shot out of hand.

Still, economic collaboration in France with the Germans had been so widespread (on all levels of society) that there had to be a realization that an entire nation could not be brought to trial. Only a few years before, there had been many a sincere and well-meaning Frenchman-as in Belgium, England, and throughout Europe-who believed National Socialism to be the wave of the future, indeed, the only hope for curing the many desperate social, political, and economic ills of the time. France, along with other occupied countries, did contribute volunteers for the fight against Russia. Then there were many other Frenchmen, the majority, who resignedly felt there was no way the Germans could be pushed back across the Rhine.

Meanwhile, individuals had to survive. After 1940 France was neatly tucked into the German economic scheme; occupied countries would be supply areas for the benefit of the Third Reich. As an example of the cooperating industrialist, there was Marcel Boussac, the richest man in France at the time. This aging cotton textile magnate, now deceased, prospered under German occupation, like his peers. He had done well in World War I, and he did well during World War II. In the former he made his first millions, by supplying uniforms and airplane fab­ ric to the French army. Between wars he expanded, acquiring textile factories by the dozens. When the Germans swept across France in 1940 he promptly turned to them as new customers, and began making the cloth for German army uniforms, para­ chute materials, and linen for fire-hose lining (a big-ticket item as British and American bombers set fire to German cities). Other textile manufacturers, particularly those at Calais and Caudry, made the camouflage for such German defense installa­tions at the West Wall, and mosquito netting for Rommel's Afrika Korps.

Boussac and his kind produced a trickle of fabrics for French clothing, but, on German orders, there was almost no limit to the quantity and quality of goods they turned out for the French fashion industry. German policy was to nurture the haute couture houses of Paris. It brought in foreign exchange, and it was good propaganda to have the world note luxury continuing to flourish as ever in the French capital.

In 1943, when the needs of the civilian population were to be met with an annual allowance of one kilo of cloth per per­son, the haute couture received 80 metric tons, enough to fill the regular clothing rations from 80,000 French civilians. Lucien LeLong, under German guidance, was the director in charge of policy for the French fashion industry. His collection and those of 60 other maisons de couture participating in the sea­sonal fashion shows in Paris for buyers from Germany; the other occupied countries of Europe, and the neutral nations, maintained prewar Parisian fashion standards. French fashions continued to be sold in markets of the Western Hemisphere throughout the war. One device often used as part of such a marketing scheme was to have fashionable women "expelled" from France for anti-German and pro-Allied sentiments. The women would then make their way to Lisbon and sail for New York or Buenos Aires on a neutral steamer with their trunks containing the latest creations of LeLong and his group of collaborating maisons de couture. Orders were taken, paid for, filled.

This was collaboration, but few in this industry were to go on trial, any more than were the industrialists who owned the textile companies, chemical plants, and heavy industry. How­ever, the rayon industry was more than a collaboration between French and German interests. The Gillet-Carnot organization of the French rayon interests had close prewar relationships in price controls and markets to the German Kunstseide and Zellwolle Ring, and this laid the foundation for fuller collabo­ration after the collapse of France. By December 1940, most of the rayon-producing facilities in France were united under a new holding company, France-Rayonne, to which the German Ring group contributed 33 percent of the capital in the form of patent rights and technical advice.

The capital of those French companies that became subsidi­aries of France-Rayonne totaled over 800 million francs. Three quarters of this sum was represented by National Viscose and Givet-Izieux, in which the Gillet and related families, such as Balay, Bizot, and Motte, were the largest shareholders.

The large French chemical interests of Kuhlmann also had their agreements with I.G. Farbenindustrie long before the war. Then, when France fell, this relationship ripened, expanding into full German majority control and stock ownership. The I.G. board of directors formed a new French holding company, capitalized at 800 million francs, and named it Francolor; it held the stock of Kuhlmann and other French dye and chemical interests. Fifty-one percent of Francolor's stock was acquired by I.G. Farbenindustrie, without whose basic patents no chemical company in Europe could operate.

The Germans were also diligent in acquiring stock control in other prime industries, and when their troops were forced from France in 1944, their economic imprint would remain.

When Reichsleiter Bormann accepted the fact that the war was lost, he gave himself nine months to place into operation his flight capital program of safe haven for the liquid assets of Germany. Little Alsace-Lorraine was a microcosm of Nazi take­overs in the rest of occupied Europe as regards commerce, in­dustry, and banking. They had fitted the iron and steel industry of Lorraine into their vast International Steel Cartel and had "Aryanized" Jewish concerns, which meant outright appropri­ation. I.G. Farben assumed control of the potassium mines of Alsace. The insurance business, which had been largely under­written by French and British companies, was transferred to German companies. The big German banks, such as Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and Dresdnerbank, purchased majority shares of the Alsace-Lorraine banks, the institutions that under occupation controlled the very life and economy of the people.

With the disastrous conflict-to-come looming after August 10, 1944, the realists-that is to say, Bormann, the Ruhr industrial­ists, and the German bankers-knew it was time for new and secretive directions, were Germany to survive and emerge from defeat to once more become a world leader.

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