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World War II Remembered: The Generals and the Admirals: German Cabinet Officials

Joseph Paul Goebbels 10/29/1897 - 5/1/1945

Joseph Goebbels was born on Oct. 29, 1897, in the Rhenish textile city of Rheydt, the son of a pious Catholic bookkeeper of modest means. With the support of stipends granted by Catholic organizations, the young Goebbels attended the university and earned a doctorate in literature in 1922.

After a number of unsuccessful attempts as writer, journalist, and speaker, Goebbels joined the National Socialist organization in northern Germany under Gregor Strasser in 1924 and edited various publications of this group from 1924 to 1926. In the late summer of 1925 Goebbels first met Hitler, was immediately enamored with the Führer, and broke with Strasser in November 1926 to go to Berlin as Gauleiter (district leader) upon Hitler's request. Here he founded and edited the party weekly, Der Angriff (The Attack). He took over the propaganda machine of the party in 1928 and became minister of popular enlightenment and propaganda with Hitler's rise to power in 1933.

From this position Goebbels built a machinery of thought control, which not only served as an effective support for the Nazi regime and later the war effort, but also actively limited and shaped all forms of artistic and intellectual expression to conform to the ideals of National Socialism and, most particularly, racist anti-Semitism. This involved the control of the press through censorship and removal of Jewish and non-Nazi editors and the establishment of government-sponsored radio stations, newspapers, and magazines. Jewish artists, musicians, writers, and even natural scientists--many of Germany's ablest men and women--were removed and often sent to concentration camps. Works by Jewish composers and writers were burned and outlawed. "Decadent" modern art was replaced by a Nazi standard of pseudoromantic, sentimental art. Education on all levels was similarly controlled.

Mass rallies, ever-present loudspeaker systems, and the mass production and distribution of "people's radios" ensured wide dissemination of Hitler's demagogic appeals to the nation. Goebbels, who had an unusually appealing speaking voice, increasingly became the Führer's channel of communication with the population. Most notorious was Goebbels's speech in August 1944 in the Sports Palace of Berlin, in which he fanatically called for total war.

His fanaticism lasted to the end. In 1945 Goebbels called for the destruction of the German people since they had not been able to win victory. He stayed with Hitler even after Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler had sought contacts with the Allies. Goebbels killed himself and his entire family in Berlin on May 1, 1945, only hours after Hitler's suicide.

"Joseph Paul Goebbels." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.

Heinrich Himmler 10/07/1900 5/23/1945

Courtesy of Holocaust Research Project

The German National Socialist politician Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) commanded the SS, Hitler's elite troops, and was head of the Gestapo. He was perhaps the most powerful and ruthless man in Nazi Germany next to Hitler himself.

Born in Munich, Bavaria, on Oct. 7, 1900, Heinrich Himmler was the son of the former tutor of one of the Bavarian princes. In World War I he took his first opportunity to join the army (1917), but owing to his frail health he never reached the front. Yet he continued soldiering in veterans' bands after the war while a student at the university in Munich, and in November 1923 he marched in Hitler's ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch. After a brief flirt with the leftist Strasser faction of the Nazis, the young anti-Semitic fanatic joined Hitler in 1926 as deputy propaganda chief.

In January 1929 Himmler found his "calling" with his appointment as commander of the blackshirt SS (Schutzstaffel)--then still a small, untrained bodyguard. With characteristic drive and pedantic precision he rapidly turned this organization into an elite army of 50,000--including its own espionage system (SD). After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Himmler took over and expanded the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei, secret police). In 1934 he liquidated Ernst Roehm, chief of the SA (storm troopers), and thus gained autonomy for the SS, which took charge of all concentration camps.

From this power base, to which he added the position of chief of all German police forces in June 1936 and that of minister of the interior in August 1943, Himmler coordinated the entire Nazi machinery of political suppression and racial "purification." From 1937 on, the entire German population was screened for "Aryan" racial purity by Himmler's mammoth bureaucratic apparatus. After the invasion of eastern Europe it became Himmler's task to "Germanize" the occupied areas and to deport the native populations to concentration camps.

After the plot of July 1944 against Hitler, Himmler also became supreme commander of all home armies. In 1943 he made contacts with the Western Allies in an attempt to preserve his own position and to barter Jewish prisoners for his own safety--an action which caused his expulsion from the party shortly before Hitler's death. On May 21, 1945, Heinrich Himmler was captured while fleeing from the British at Bremervoerde. Two days later he took poison and died.

"Himmler, Heinrich (1900-1945)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 29 Mar. 2012.

Walter Richard Rudolf Hess - 4/26/1894 - 8/17/1987

Walter Richard Rudolf Hess (1894-1987) was Deputy Reichsführer for Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1941. He lived longer than any other major war criminal.

Rudolf Hess was born April 26, 1894, in Cairo, Egypt, eldest son of Fritz H. Hess and Klara Münch. He was educated in a German school at Alexandria and also in Germany at Godesberg am Rhein. In World War I Hess served in the Bavarian infantry and trained as a pilot. In 1919, he attended Munich University briefly and was a student of geopolitical professor Karl Haushofer. In 1920 Hess joined the Nazi Party and soon after became a private secretary to Adolf Hitler. Following the 1923 Munich putsch and 1924 trial, Hess was imprisoned at Landsberg, where he helped Hitler in preparing the book Mein Kampf. In 1927 Hess married Ilse Pröhl, and one son, Wolf Rüdiger, was born in 1937. In 1933 Hess was chosen by Hitler as a cabinet member and deputy reichsführer.

Hess oversaw the employment, promotion, and training of Nazis in government, party, and business positions; had significant responsibility for administering the Nuremberg Laws on citizenship; and adjudicated claims and appeals on a broad range of subjects. Hess's administration was honest in that he did not profit financially or build a following. Presumably it suited Hitler to have a deputy who was politically neutral and ethically "decent," but adamant in upholding authoritarian and anti-Semitic principles. Hess "saved" a few victims of persecution, but his administration established categories of people later sent to labor camps and extermination camps. In September of 1939 Hermann Göring was named war-time "successor" to Hitler, with Hess as a successor to Göring.

During the French campaign of 1940 Hitler discussed with Hess and others his wish for an Anglo-German "good will" peace settlement giving the Germans a free hand in Eastern Europe. Hitler's speech of July 19, 1940, and his "peace feelers" via Switzerland, the Vatican, the United States, and several private channels put his broad ideas in clear enough terms. In September 1940 Hess began air pilot practice and related preparations of his own for a flight to Britain as an emissary of Hitler's peace policy, but without Hitler's consent or knowledge. On May 10, 1941, Hess flew an ME110 fitted with auxiliary gas tanks from Augsburg to Scotland, landing by parachute south of Glasgow. Hitler expressed surprise and displeasure and was concerned as to what and how much Hess might tell the British about "Barbarossa," the projected invasion of Russia. Hitler ordered death for Hess should he return to Germany, but made no effort to have Hess rescued or killed and later spoke of him as a loyal but misguided "Old Comrade." Martin Bormann succeeded Hess as deputy with malign efficiency.

The surprised British confined Hess to varying forms of comfortable imprisonment and much highly-publicized censorship. According to Hess's own later account he early on asked to see the Duke of Hamilton and then explained to the duke that he came to offer peace and asked for the king's "parole" to protect and assist his efforts. Hess's subsequent interviews with Ivone Kirkpatrick of the Foreign Office and Sir John Simon, then lord chancellor, were entirely fruitless. Hess later wrote "things as I apparently imagined them are not possible in England." However, the central defect of Hess's "mission" was its lack of practical meaning. He brought no new proposals and had no authority to negotiate or even to be in Britain. In Churchill's later words, "this escapade ... had no relation to the march of events."

In 1946 Hess was tried at Nuremberg as one of the major war criminals. The record of his suicide attempts and amnesia while in custody led to examinations and reports by psychiatrists who agreed that Hess was sane in terms of criminal law--that is, he could distinguish right from wrong and understood the consequences of his actions. Apart from this legal issue, Hess's amnesia was never complete, with no fixed temporal "bloc" associated with any sudden trauma. His active delusion that his failures were caused by the secret powers of his "Jewish enemies" was not unique among Nazis. The Nuremberg Tribunal confined itself to the counts of the indictment, convicted Hess of committing aggression and conspiracy to commit aggression, and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. It seems possible that a better memory and mental condition would have increased Hess's chance of being hanged.

After 1946 Hess was kept at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. The Western powers and many Western leaders made efforts for his release, chiefly on grounds of age and time served. The Russians, however, appeared to believe Hess morally responsible for "Barbarossa" and its 20 million Russian victims. Rudolf Hess died in 1987.

The uncertain possibilities of the Hess case compelled the attention of national leaders at the time, and the combination of sensational elements continued to attract speculative pens. As Hitler's deputy Hess could wield great power over others, but without Hitler's authority Hess's own role was humiliatingly inconsequential.

"Walter Richard Rudolf Hess." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 2 Apr. 2012.

Albert Speer 5/19/1905 - 9/1/1981

Albert Speer (1905-1081) may have known of the atrocities committed in Germany during the Nazi era, but claimed he did not. He insisted that he was only "following orders" and had no knowledge of the details. Speer received a 20-year prison sentence at the Nuremberg war crimes trials at the end of World War II.

Speer was born in Mannheim, Germany, on March 19, 1905, but grew up in the German city of Heidelberg. His father was an architect. Although Speer wanted to be a mathematician, he studied hard and became an architect in order to please his father. His girlfriend and eventual wife, Margarethe Weber, waited for him to complete his studies. Speer's family made it clear that Margarethe did not, in their opinion, measure up to the social standards of the Speer family, but the young couple ignored them and were eventually married.

Germany was in political and economic chaos following their defeat in World War I, and had not recovered years after the war's end. Adolf Hitler, who had been released from jail in 1925, after serving nine months of a five-year sentence, had reclaimed his leadership of the National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) party. While in jail, Hitler wrote his political mandate, Mein Kampf. The party and Hitler's book appealed to young Speer. He joined the Nazi party in 1931 and was soon designing and building for the Nazis. Speer was pleased with the high level of responsibility given to such a young architect. In a Germany with high levels of unemployment, especially for architects, Speer was doing what he loved and being paid for it.

A Budding Friendship

In 1933, the Nazi party was swept into power on a rising tide of German nationalism and economic discontent. Hitler was named chancellor and assumed the title of fuhrer (supreme leader). Speer was advancing rapidly in the party heirarchy. Hitler had a deep interest in architecture, and the two men became friends and collaborators on many projects. Hitler wanted buildings in Germany that would last one thousand years, and he felt Speer was the man who could design and build them. When Hitler wanted a balcony built so that he could appear before his people, he would draw a very skillful sketch. Then Speer would take the sketch, make up the blueprints, and oversee its construction. It was a comfortable partnership between two men who liked and respected each other.

By the age of 28, Speer was in the "inner circle" of power. Where Hitler went, he went. He designed the vast stadiums where Hitler held his great rallies and many other Nazi monuments.

No order for a building was too impossible for Hitler to give, and no challenge was too great for Speer to accept. Hitler wanted a new Reichs Chancellery in Berlin, and he ordered that it be one of the largest and most splendid office buildings of its day. Furthermore, he wanted it completed in only one year. With an army of laborers working in day and night shifts, and with Speer handling every detail of the planning and building, the architect finished the great building ahead of schedule. He proved to his fuhrer that he was an organizer as well as a builder, for the building was ready to be used when Hitler walked in on the first day. If there was any doubt of Speer's skill, it was gone.

The two men began to plan an entirely new Berlin. They had elaborate models constructed showing various buildings and street layouts. It was planned to be the most beautiful city in all of Europe. World War II stopped the plans, although both Hitler and Speer felt that the delay would be only temporary. Despite later claims to the contrary, Speer had become a dedicated party member who supported whatever Hitler wanted to do.

Minister of Armaments and Munitions

When German troops moved into neighboring countries, Allied nations became increasingly disturbed. The invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 led to a declaration of war. As battles against Allied troops were being fiercely fought, Hitler lost one of his most experienced munitions experts. Doctor Todt, the genius behind the autobahns and other projects in Germany, was killed in a plane crash. Hitler asked Speer, to take over as minister of armaments and munitions. It was a job that required the organization of industry. Although Speer didn't really want the assignment, he knew that his leader needed him. He accepted.

As the organizer of the German wartime economy, Speer held an extremely powerful position. Instead of ordering, commanding, and punishing, he approached industries in a friendly way. This led Speer to be accepted by the German workers, who labored twice as hard as before. His attempts to avoid bureaucracy worked well. He kept the wishes of working men and women in mind and, in the process, won many new friends. In spite of severe and constant Allied bombing of German factories, Speer did his job well and production continued until close to the end of the war.

A Change of Heart

It was a disillusioned Speer, who violated Hitler's "scorched earth" orders near the end of the war. Hitler ordered the destruction of roads, factories, bridges, entire cities, in an effort to delay the end. Speer sided with the generals who refused to destroy Paris and other cities. Hitler would issue ruthless orders, then Speer, who had the power and the respect of those in charge of the army, would countermand them. Speer felt the German people would need the things that Hitler wanted to destroy. In his book, Inside the Third Reich, Speer explained that he could see no need to hurt the civilian population needlessly, since he knew the war was lost.

Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in 1945 as the Russian army approached Berlin. Admiral Karl Doenitz took over as the new leader in Berlin, but there was still an army-occupied area in northern Germany. Speer and others were in charge there. They attempted to negotiate a peace treaty with the Allies, but were unsuccessful and finally had to surrender.

The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials

Soon after the war ended, the world was riveted by the war crimes trials held in the German city of Nuremberg between November 1945 and October 1946. Nazi leaders, including Speer, were put on trial for the crimes they had committed. He said later that he was certain he would be convicted and hanged, as was the fate of many of his Nazi high-command friends. He even confessed and pleaded guilty to what the Nazis had done, although he said he didn't really know all the details. Still, he was shown to have been one of the first to provide the labor needed to keep the war plants operating. He personally provided a labor force of 75,000 German Jews. Many experts believe that this group represented the first stage of the Holocaust, though Speer denied that he was aware of the killing of millions of Jews in concentration camps. He claimed that he was an "unwitting collaborator" in the horror.

Speer received a 20-year prison sentence and was sent to Germany's Spandau Prison. With the exception of three life sentences, Speer received the longest prison sentence of any Nazi leader. He was released in 1966, and began writing Inside the Third Reich. The book was published and quickly became a best seller. In 1976, he wrote another successful book, titled Spandau: The Secret Diaries. Speer died in London on September 1, 1981.

Martin Ludwig Bormann 6/17/1900 - 5/2/1945

Courtesy of Wikipedia -

Martin Ludwig Bormann (17 June 1900 – 2 May 1945?) was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and private secretary to Adolf Hitler. He gained Hitler's trust and derived immense power within the Third Reich by controlling access to the Führer and by regulating the orbits of those closest to him.

Born in Wegeleben (now in Saxony-Anhalt) in the Kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire, Bormann was born to a Lutheran family, the son of Theodor Bormann (1862–1903), a post office employee, and his second wife, Antonie Bernhardine Mennong.  Bormann dropped out of school to work on a farm in Mecklenburg. He served in an artillery regiment in the last days of World War I, but never saw action. He then became an estate manager in Mecklenburg, which brought him into contact with the Freikorps residing on the estate. He took part in their activities, mostly in assassinations and the intimidation of trade union organisers.
On 17 March 1924, Bormann was sentenced to a year in prison as an accomplice to his friend Rudolf Höss in the murder of Walther Kadow, who they thought had betrayed Freikorps member Albert Leo Schlageter to the French during the occupation of the Ruhr District.

On 2 September 1929, Bormann married 19-year-old Gerda Buch, whose father, Major Walter Buch, served as a chairman of the Nazi Party Court. Bormann had recently met Hitler, who agreed to serve as a witness at their wedding. Gerda Bormann would give birth to 10 children; one died shortly after birth.

In 1927, Bormann joined the NSDAP(national Socialist German Workers Party). His NSDAP number was 60,508 and his (honorary) SS membership number was originally 278,267. By special order of Himmler in 1938, Bormann was granted SS number 555 to reflect his Alter Kämpfer (Old Fighter) status. He became the party's regional press officer and business manager in 1928.

On 10 October 1933, Bormann became a Reich Leader (Reichsleiter) of the NSDAP, and in November, a member of the Reichstag. From 1 July 1933 until 1941, Bormann served as the personal secretary for Rudolf Hess. Bormann commissioned the building of the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest). The Kehlsteinhaus was formally presented to Hitler on 20 April 20 1938, after 13 months of expensive construction, and is commemorated on a plaque just above the entrance to the tunnel to the lift up to the Eagle's Nest. During this period, Bormann had also managed Hitler's finances through various schemes such as royalties collected on Hitler's book, his image on postage stamps, as well as setting up an "Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry", which was really a thinly veiled extortion attempt on the behalf of Hitler to collect more money from German industrialists.

In May 1941, the flight of Hess to Britain cleared the way for Bormann to become Head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) that same month. Bormann proved to be a master of intricate political infighting. Due to his mastery of such infighting, along with his access and closeness to Hitler, and because of the trust Hitler held in him, he was able to constantly and effectively check and thus make enemies of Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg, Robert Ley, Albert Speer and a plethora of other high-ranking officers and officials, both public and private. The ruthless and continuous intriguing for power, influence, and favour from Hitler within the regime came to characterize the inner workings of the Third Reich.

Bormann took charge of all of Hitler's paperwork, appointments and personal finances. Hitler came to have complete trust in Bormann and the view of reality he presented. During one meeting, Hitler was said to have screamed, "To win this war, I need Bormann!" Some historians have suggested Bormann held so much power that, in some respects by 1945, he became Germany's "secret leader" during the war. A collection of transcripts edited by Bormann during the war appeared in print in 1952 and 1953 as Hitler's Table Talk 1941–1944, mostly a re-telling of Hitler's wartime dinner conversations.

Bormann's bureaucratic power and effective reach had broadened considerably by 1942. Later, faced with the imminent demise of the Third Reich, he systematically set about organising German corporate flight capital, and established off-shore holding companies and business interests in close coordination with the same Ruhr industrialists and German bankers who, although often not Nazis, had helped to facilitate Hitler's explosive rise to power 10 years before.

His view of Christianity was epitomized in a confidential memo to the Gauleiters in 1942 by stating that Nazism "was completely incompatible with Christianity". Contrary to Hitler's tactical judgment, Bormann pushed the Kirchenkampf forward at the height of World War II. He reopened the fight against the Christian churches, declaring in a confidential memo to the Gauleiters in 1942 that their power 'must absolutely and finally be broken.' Bormann viewed the power of the churches and Christianity to be completely incompatible with Nazism, and saw their influence as a serious obstacle to totalitarian rule. The sharpest anti-cleric in the Nazi leadership (he collected all the files of cases against the clergy that he could lay his hands on), Bormann was the driving force of the Kirchenkampf, which Hitler for tactical reasons had wished to postpone until after the war.

In February 1943, the German defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad produced a crisis in the regime. Bormann exploited the disaster at Stalingrad, and his daily access to Hitler, to persuade him to create a three-man junta representing the State, the Army and the Party, represented respectively by Hans Lammers, head of the Reich Chancellery, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht ("Armed Forces High Command", or OKW), and Bormann, who controlled the Party and access to the Führer. This Committee of Three would exercise dictatorial powers over the home front. Goebbels, Speer, Göring and Himmler all saw this proposal as a power grab by Bormann and a threat to their power, and combined to block it.

However, their alliance was shaky at best. This was mainly due to the fact that during this period Himmler was still cooperating with Bormann to gain more power at the expense of Göring and most of the traditional Reich administration. Göring's loss of power had resulted from an overindulgence in the trappings of power and his strained relations with Goebbels made it difficult for a unified coalition to be formed, despite the attempts of Speer and Göring's Luftwaffe deputy Field Marshal Erhard Milch, to reconcile the two Party comrades.

However, the result was that nothing was done—the Committee of Three declined into irrelevance due to the loss of power by Keitel and Lammers and the ascension of Bormann, and the situation continued to drift, with administrative chaos increasingly undermining the war effort. The ultimate responsibility for this lay with Hitler, as Goebbels well knew, referring in his diary to a "crisis of leadership," but Goebbels was too much under Hitler’s spell ever to challenge his power.

Bormann was invariably the advocate of extremely harsh, radical measures when it came to the treatment of Jews, of the conquered eastern peoples or prisoners of war. He signed the decree of 9 October 1942 prescribing that "the permanent elimination of the Jews from the territories of Greater Germany can no longer be carried out by emigration but by the use of ruthless force in the special camps of the East." A further decree, signed by Bormann on 1 July 1943, gave Adolf Eichmann absolute powers over Jews, who now came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Gestapo.

Bormann's memos concerning the Slavs make it clear that he regarded them as a 'Sovietized mass' of sub-humans who had no claim to national independence. In a brutal memo of 19 August 1942, he wrote: "The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we do not need them, they may die. Slav fertility is not desirable."

At the Nuremberg Trials, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands, testified that he had called Bormann to confirm an order to deport the Dutch Jews to Auschwitz, and further testified that Bormann passed along Hitler's orders for the extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. A telephone conversation between Bormann and Heinrich Himmler, who was his main antagonist in the struggle for power within the Nazi elite, was overheard by telephone operators during which Himmler reported to Bormann the extermination of 40,000 Jews in Poland. Himmler was sharply rebuked for using the word "exterminated" rather than the codeword "resettled," and Bormann ordered the apologetic Himmler never again to report on this by phone but through SS couriers.

Bormann, his adjutant, SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander, and his secretary, Else Krüger, were with Hitler in the Führer's shelter (Führerbunker) during the Battle of Berlin. The Führerbunker was located under the Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei) gardens in the centre government district of Berlin. On 23 April, his brother Albert Bormann left the Berlin bunker complex by aircraft for the Obersalzberg. He and several others had been ordered by Hitler to leave Berlin.

On 28 April, Bormann wired the following message to Karl Dönitz: "Situation very serious . . . Those ordered to rescue the Führer are keeping silent . . . Disloyalty seems to gain the upper hand everywhere . . . Reichskanzlei a heap of rubble."

At 04:00 on 29 April 1945, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, Hans Krebs, and Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. Hitler dictated this document to his personal secretary, Traudl Junge. Bormann was Head of the Party Chancellery and was also the private secretary to Hitler. Shortly before signing the last will and testament, Hitler married Eva Braun in a civil ceremony.

The Soviet forces continued to fight their way into the centre of Berlin. Adolf and Eva Hitler committed suicide during the afternoon of the 30 April. Eva took cyanide and Adolf Hitler shot himself. As per instructions, their bodies were taken to the garden and burned. In accordance with Hitler's last will and testament, Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, became the new "Head of Government" and Chancellor of Germany. Martin Bormann was named as Party Minister, thus officially confirming his position as de facto General Secretary of the Party.

At 03:15 on 1 May, Goebbels and Bormann sent a radio message to Dönitz informing him of Hitler's death. In accordance with Hitler's last wishes, Dönitz was appointed as the new "President of Germany". Goebbels and his wife committed suicide later that same day.

On 2 May, the Battle in Berlin ended when General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army. It is agreed that, by this day, Bormann had left the Führerbunker. It has been reported that he left with Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement of the city.

As World War II came to a close, Bormann held out with Hitler in the Führerbunker in Berlin. On 30 April 1945, just before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. On 1 May, Bormann left the Führerbunker with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann and Hitler's pilot Hans Baur as part of one of the groups attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. At the Weidendammer Bridge, a Tiger tank spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge, but it was destroyed. Bormann and Stumpfegger were "knocked over" when the tank was hit. There followed two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00, Bormann in his group from the Reich Chancellery crossed the Spree. Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann, Stumpfegger and Axmann walked along railway tracks to Lehrter station, where Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back and later insisted he had seen the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger near the railway switching yard with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. He did not check the bodies, so he did not know what killed them.

Axmann, Werner Naumann, and their adjutants escaped Berlin. Axmann hid in the Bavarian Alps under the alias "Erich Siewert". He was arrested in December 1945 while organising an underground Nazi movement. Naumann found asylum in Argentina, where he became an editor of the neo-Nazi magazine Der Weg.

Lieutenant General Konstantin Telegin, of the Soviet 5th Shock Army, remembered his men bringing Bormann’s diary to him. "It was brought-in immediately after the fighting had ended. As far as I can remember, it was found on the road when they were cleaning up the battle area." Inspired by the diary and reports from prisoners, Telegin said, "Naturally, we sent a recon group to the bridge, who searched the site of the breakthrough attempt. All they found were a few civilians. Bormann was not found."

The hunt for Bormann lasted 26 years without success. International investigators and journalists searched for Bormann from Paraguay to Moscow and from Norway to Egypt. Digs for his body in Paraguay in March 1964 and Berlin in July 1964 were unsuccessful. The German government offered a 100,000-Mark reward in November 1964, but no one claimed it. The final straw came in July 1965, when the search of Albert Krumnow’s Berlin location turned up nothing. The German government determined that Berlin was simply "too full of cemeteries and mass graves dating from the last days of the war."

On the political end, the hunt for Bormann became a recurring memory of the Nazi regime and also an embarrassment that would not go away. On 13 December 1971, the West German government officially called an end to the search for Bormann. This pronouncement was met with protest from Jewish human rights groups and Nazi-hunters like Simon Wiesenthal who insisted the search must continue until Bormann was found, alive or dead.

Almost a year later, on 7 December 1972, Axmann and Krumnow's accounts were bolstered when construction workers uncovered human remains near the Lehrter Bahnhof in West Berlin just 12 m (39 ft) from the spot where Krumnow claimed he had buried them. Dental records — reconstructed from memory in 1945 by Dr. Hugo Blaschke — identified the skeleton as Bormann's, and damage to the collarbone was consistent with injuries Bormann's sons reported he had sustained in a riding accident in 1939. The second skeleton was deemed to be Stumpfegger‘s, since it was of similar height to his last known proportions. Fragments of glass in the jawbones of both skeletons suggested that Bormann and Stumpfegger committed suicide by biting cyanide capsules to avoid capture. Soon after, in a press conference held by the West German government, Bormann was declared dead, a statement condemned by Britain's Daily Express as a whitewash perpetrated by the Brandt government. West German diplomatic officials were given official instruction that "if anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man".

The remains were conclusively identified as Bormann's in 1998 when German authorities ordered a genetic test on the skull. The test identified the skull as that of Bormann, using DNA from one of his relatives. Bormann's remains were cremated and the ashes scattered in the Baltic Sea by Bormann's son Martin Adolf Bormann, a Roman Catholic and retired priest.

Wikipedia -

Adolf Eichmann 3/19/1906 - 5/31/1962

One of the most brutal of the Nazi officers who controlled Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, Karl Adolf Eichmann nearly escaped prosecution. It took 15 years after the end of World War II to find him, but Israeli secret service agents finally located him in Argentina and arrested him. As chief of the Gestapo's "Office for Jewish Emigration" from its inception, Eichmann was responsible for moving Jews from all over Nazi-occupied Europe to the concentration camps where an estimated six million died.

Born in the German town of Solingen in 1906, Eichmann moved with his family to Linz, Austria (coincidentally, Hitler's home town) during World War I. He became interested in the then-secret National Socialist (Nazi) Party and actually joined early in 1932. Within six months he had joined the elite group known as the Schutzstaffel, or the SS, and a year later he was attached briefly to the Austrian Legion, a group of Nazis camped in Bavaria on the Austrian border. This group was to march into Austria and overtake the country should Hitler give the order. (Hitler was later able to take control of Austria without needing physical force.)

In 1934, Eichmann was back in Germany, moving up in the SS ranks. He was attached to the SS unit that dealt with Jewish affairs. At that time, no one had any idea that the Jews were to be systematically murdered as part of what was called the Final Solution. By the time Eichmann was named head of the Office for Jewish Emigration in March of 1938, he was clearly among the group of individuals who did know, and he accepted his new responsibilities with no apparent pangs of conscience. William L. Shirer, the correspondent who chronicled Hitler's Germany in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, noted that Eichmann reportedly told one of his staff that his role in the murder of so many innocent people troubled him so little that he expected to go to his grave laughing.

Beginning with the city of Vienna, which had gone from being capital of Austria to one of several administrative centers when Germany took over the country, Eichmann worked, ostensibly, to clear out all the Jews and "resettle" them. The Jews were sent to concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald. There, many people were executed, often brutally; those who survived often died of exhaustion or starvation as they toiled at hard labor. People of other religions and creeds were imprisoned and murdered as well, but for the Jews the Nazis designed a means of systematic extermination.

Eichmann was responsible for the logistics. He continued his gruesome work until the end of World War II, when Allied forces marched into Germany. He was captured by U.S. soldiers and placed in a prison camp pending his trial as a war criminal. In 1946, however, Eichmann managed to escape, and for the next 14 years he was able to stay under cover despite numerous Israeli attempts to capture him. Apparently he spent some time traveling through the Middle East; in 1958 he moved to Argentina, where he planned to live out his days. (Argentina and several other countries in South America were havens for Nazis; there were no extradition agreements with Israel, and in any case Israel was half way around the world.)

Although he thought he was safe, Eichmann was high on Israel's war criminals list. On May 11, 1960, members of the Israeli Secret Service found him near Buenos Aires. He was smuggled out of Argentina on May 20 and brought to Israel to stand trial. The smuggling was a controversial move since Eichmann was essentially kidnapped, but given his status as a war criminal, any controversy was quickly set aside.

Eichmann got better treatment at the hands of the Israelis than the Jews he sent to death got from him or his fellow officers. His trial lasted from April 11 to December 15, 1961. Although he tried to defend himself, the scope of his crimes and his unrepentant attitude were too horrible for anyone to give him much sympathy or support. A three-judge panel heard the case and at the conclusion they found him guilty. They sentenced him to death. Eichmann mounted the gallows in Tel Aviv and was hanged in May 31, 1962.

"Karl Adolf Eichmann." World of Criminal Justice. Gale, 2002. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 3 Apr. 2012.