If everything we had been told about Hitler’s death, cremation and burial was a lie from the beginning then it was starting to look like the Indonesians might have a point.

Then, in 2010, the Justice Department released a report by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) which detailed how Nazi war criminals were protected from prosecution by the US Government since the earliest post- war days; protected by American intelligence, the military, and even industrial corporations.

There was nothing for it. I had to find out who was buried in that Indonesian cemetery. Hitler or not, this was a key to some larger mystery. Questions had to be asked. Consensus reality had to be challenged. The truth, however improbable or counter-intuitive, had to be revealed. My trip to Chile in 1979 had been hazardous, and I was lucky to have left the country alive. What would be the case with Indonesia? If I pursued this story, would I wind up in a Javanese jail…or worse? Certainly no one was covering up this story anymore. It was forty years old; more than sixty-five years old if you count from the end of World War Two. Would anyone still care if I went poking around in the cemeteries, rain forests, and archives of this ancient land? I had already seen Abu Bakr Basyir, the infamous “Bali Bomber,” and lived to tell the tale. I had crawled around Tantric temples and half-buried ruins in the punishing heat. Not too far away or long ago, in China, I had visited military installations and prison factories and survived

none the worse for wear. I had met with neo-Nazis and Klansmen and lived to write about it. So, how hard could this be?

But…was there something else to find, something I did not as yet suspect?

Everything you know is wrong.

—The Firesign Theater

The first casualty of war is the truth.

—Arthur Ponsonby

War is the continuation of politics by other means.

—Carl von Clausewitz

I had reason to be suspicious.

After all, I was told again and again in the 1970s and 1980s that Colonia Dignidad had nothing to do with Nazis, with torture or interrogation, or with the military regime of General Augusto Pinochet. I was told this by editors of mainstream media outlets as well as by the Simon Wiesenthal people, military historians, and others. They were all seriously mistaken—if not actually lying for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with me or with the facts of the case but which had more to do with political agendas.

The very fact of the Colony itself is proof of the existence of an extensive network of escape routes and safe houses used by those who supported (and still support) the Nazi regime and its ideology.

It was when I was being told repeatedly that I did not see what I saw, that I did not experience what I experienced, that I began to realize that truth truly is the first casualty of war, as well as of politics since “war is a continuation of politics by other means”.

It reminded me of the old Groucho Marx saying, “Who are you going to believe? Me, or your lying eyes?”

The implication was that the interested parties—from the government to the media to the “official” Nazi hunters themselves—all knew about the Colony (otherwise, how could they have made these assessments?) and chose to deny what they already knew to be true. And to steadfastedly deny it for decades.

And that leads us to the present story.

There are many uncomfortable revelations in this book. The passage of time since the end of World War Two has not made any of them more palatable or excusable. We will learn about the complicity of our most cherished institutions—sacred and secular in the escape of some of the world’s most notorious war criminals. We will see men obsessed with a new enemy— Communism eagerly enlist the support of persons who had performed medical experiments on living human beings or who slaughtered them in the death camps or as slave labor. We will even see a sinister connection from that remote tropical island to an American serial killer who was executed in 2011.

Even more, we will see how history was “managed” by the intelligence agencies of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union—among many others—to present the world with the biggest lie of all. Had I not experienced politically-motivated censorship first hand, I may not have been able to write this story.

Quite simply, I would not have believed it myself.

  1. Norman Mailer, The Gospel According to the Son, New York: Random House, 1997, p. 4
  2. That Nixon and Kissinger were determined to do all they could to remove Allende from power— including covert action—is now no longer debatable. See, for instance, the CIA-issued report “CIA Activities in Chile”, September 19, 2000 in response to the Hinchey Amendment to the 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act. This report can be found on the George Washington University site http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20000919/index.html last accessed May 19, 2011.
  3. See Guy Walters, Hunting Evil: The Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped & The Quest to Bring Them to Justice, New York: Broadway Books, 2009, p. 371. For awhile Wiesenthal believed that Josef Mengele—the “Angel of Death” of Auschwitz—had used the Colony as a safe haven some months before my arrival; the report turned out to be false (if we accept that Mengele died in Brazil in February of 1979).
  4. See G. Gordon Liddy, Will, New York: St Martin’s Press, 1980, p. 208-211
  5. See, for instance, journalist David Emory’s biographical sketch of Manning on his website, Spitfire List, http://spitfirelist.com/about-paul-manning/ accessed January 12,2012.

chapter one

The Official Story

Anyone who undertakes an inquiry of such a kind is soon made aware of one important fact: the worthlessness of mere human testimony.

—Hugh Trevor-Roper6

he authoritative and definitive narrative since 1947 on the death of Adolf Hitler has always been The Last Days of Hitler, by Hugh Trevor-Roper. It is a well-written and compelling account of the final moments of the Third Reich, with all the pettiness, office politics, meanness, sniping, and gossiping that characterized the end of the

T

Nazi regime. One reads this book with the same breathless intensity that one passes the scene of a traffic accident on the highway: too fascinated and appalled at this demonstration of human mortality to turn away and look somewhere else. The figures of Hitler, Bormann, Goering, Goebbels and others are all sharply and theatrically drawn. Their weaknesses and pathos come across strongly and there is no space in Trevor-Roper’s account for any other point of view, any other perspective, any other characterization. It reads like an abridged version of Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. With tanks.

And this is its problem. In it’s strident tone and impatience with critics it has presented posterity with certain difficulties, not the least of which is the fact that the lack of forensic evidence of any kind seemed to have been no impediment to the conclusion of the author that Hitler committed suicide with a pistol, alongside his wife Eva Braun who died of cyanide poisoning, and both around three o’clock in the afternoon of April 30, 1945.

What we have in the case of the deaths of Hitler and Braun is a purely circumstantial case: one with no corpus delicti, no forensic evidence (or forensic evidence whose provenance is uncertain or unproven), and conflicting eyewitness testimony. Add to that the almost unbearably arrogant and self-assured tone of Trevor-Roper’s report—based on research that was conducted over the space of only six weeks and included testimony from prisoners of war with every motivation imaginable to deceive,

embellish, and create out of whole cloth—and you are left with exactly the report that was intended: a piece of psychological warfare, an artfully- created and stylistically elegant propaganda device.

Trevor-Roper glides over the various inconsistent testimonies of Nazi officers with the blithe air of someone too busy with weightier concerns to concentrate on the minutiae. He ridicules those who disagree with him, even as he admits that eyewitness testimony is the least reliable of all sources of evidence. He reveals that the motive behind his report was an intelligence agenda, set by MI67: to counteract the effects of the Soviet insistence that Hitler was still alive and being protected by…British intelligence.

With all of that in hand, and admitted as such in writing by its author, how is it possible to come to any other conclusion than the report was a work of fiction—a cover story—camouflaged as fact?

Yet, there the report would stand, a Maginot Line erected against all other interpretations of the events of April 30, 1945. One criticized or objected at one’s peril, for certainly the insidious might of British Intelligence was its foundation and its champion. Dick White, the MI6 officer who had commissioned Trevor-Roper in September of 1945 to write the report, later became head of MI6 itself and was knighted in the process. As far as the British (and, to a large extent, the Americans) were concerned, Trevor- Roper had put paid to any speculation about the survival of the twentieth century’s most notorious political leader. Trevor-Roper himself admits that British Intelligence not only approved his writing of The Last Days of Hitler, but that they supported it as well.8 It is a revealing admission, for it proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the Trevor-Roper narrative is a work of art—the “craft of intelligence”—and not history. There is certainly no science in his text, no pretense towards establishing the facts of the case by anything other than comparing testimonies of various Nazis and coming up with the distillation of these interrogations that best serves the cause. It was, after all, this same approach to intelligence that presented the world with the “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq.

In order for us to gaze, calmly and without prejudice, on the data that suggests Hitler may have escaped Berlin before its capture by the Russians and may have survived in another country, on another continent, we should

examine certain elements of Trevor-Roper’s work of imagination in order to address—and dispense with—the “facts” that he insists are the critical issues. We begin with the intelligence agenda itself, the one that MI6 called (appropriately enough) “Operation Nursery.”

Operation Nursery

For my book was written, in the first place, for exactly the same reason which made the Russians frown upon it: to prevent (as far as such means can prevent) the rebirth of the Hitler myth.

—Hugh Trevor-Roper9

A British intelligence officer, Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003) crafted the narrative concerning Hitler’s ultimate fate, beginning in September 1945 on a mission—called Operation Nursery—from the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6. This intelligence operation is the source of the story we have all been told since then. It is the authoritative version. It is based on a handful of interviews with former members of Hitler’s personal staff, only some of whom served in the bunker up until the fall of Berlin in May,1945. This eventually became Trevor-Roper’s best-selling book entitled The Last Days of Hitler. It stands today as the definitive account of Hitler’s alleged suicide, even though there are barely thirty-five pages in the original edition that deal directly with the death itself. The reason for this is simple: there was no forensic evidence to work from. There were only statements of eyewitnesses, all of whom were Nazis and most of whom were in the SS. And, according to Trevor-Roper himself, eyewitness testimony is ultimately unreliable.

Such is the value of unchecked human testimony, on which, however, much of written history is based.

—Hugh Trevor-Roper10

If one were to take all the testimony of all of the witnesses who have since written books or who have left behind transcripts of their interrogations by British, American and Russian intelligence officers, and compared them to each other we would soon begin to realize that there is virtually no consensus on critical points of the story. Some of this we can put down to

the chaos and trauma of the last days of the war and the fact that the witnesses were not members of the victorious Allied forces but were the losers in that conflict, running in fear for their lives when they were captured and imprisoned. Germany had been completely overrun. Entire cities had been reduced to rubble, including Berlin. There was widespread hunger, disease, and reportedly terrible abuse at the hands of the Soviet forces who raped and killed, seemingly without restraint.

Thus, that there would be discrepancies in these stories is understandable. But that leaves us with a problem. Whom to believe? Which version is really authoritative?

That depends on the agenda you wish to promote. History was being written by the victors to satisfy intelligence objectives and not to illuminate this dark matter of defeat and violent death. This was war, and the Allied forces were themselves about to discover that their respective agendas did not match. The Soviets had one set of goals in mind at the end of the conflict, and the Americans another.

And the British, another still. Hugh Trevor-Roper admitted he did not speak or read German. His experience in the war up to that point was limited to signals intelligence and the code-breaking teams that were intent on decoding Abwehr radio communications. Prior to the war, Trevor-Roper had been an Oxford-educated historian and had published a study of the life of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Charles I and the English Civil War of the seventeenth century. Trevor-Roper was an accomplished stylist with an acerbic wit who wrote history with an eye towards communicating the sweep of events and the stature (and idiosyncracies) of history’s personalities…and in denigrating or ridiculing the attempts of other historians who did not agree with him. The choice of Trevor-Roper for the politically-sensitive task of determining Hitler’s fate would seem curious if not for the fact that his superior, Brigadier Dick White (later to become Director of MI6), intended that a narrative be crafted that would counter the effects of Soviet insistence that Hitler was still alive. What was required was not the services of a lawyer or a scientist building a legal case from evidence but the services of someone who could build a historical text from odd bits of documents and dubious testimony, hobbled together with an eye towards presenting a single point of view. In other words, the mission objective of Trevor-Roper in Operation Nursery was a foregone one: to disprove Soviet statements that Hitler was still alive.

Thus, it had to begin with the premise (presented as fact) that Hitler was dead and had committed suicide in the bunker on April 30, 1945, and then be worked backward from there. No other interpretation or presentation was acceptable. All he had to do was collect enough “eyewitness” testimony— in German, a language he did not understand—that supported (or at least did not contradict) this version of events, and compile them into a neat story that tied together all the loose ends that then would stand as the official version. The official British version.