The three couriers Heinz Lorenz, Wilhelm Zander, and Willi Johannmeier, carrying copies of Adolf Hitler’s political testament, personal will, and marriage certificate, who had left Hitler’s bunker in Berlin eventually made their way to Potsdam and Brandenburg. On May 11 they crossed the Elbe at Parey, between Magdeburg and Genthin, and passed ultimately, as foreign workers, into the area of the Western Allies, transported by American trucks. By this time the war was over, and Zander and Lorenz lost heart and easily convinced themselves that their mission had now no purpose or possibility of fulfillment. Johannmeier allowed himself to be influenced by them, although he still believed he would have been able to complete his mission.
The three men split up at this point. Zander and Lorenz went to the house of Zander’s relatives in Hannover. There the two men parted and Zander proceeded south until he reached Munich on May 28 where he stayed with his wife Felicitas at 4 Kepler Strasse. After two days Zander went to Tegernsee (some 30 miles southeast of Munich), an area, that as late as December was considered a “hot spot” due to many high ranking Nazis hiding there. At Tegernsee, Zander hid his documents in a trunk. He changed his name, his identity, his status, his few friends let it be known that he was dead; and began an altogether new life under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. He was able to obtain a blank paybook from an abandoned Wehrmacht stock in the Tegernsee area and on the basis of this other identification papers were issued to him. Under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin, he entered the German Military Hospital “Seeheim” from June 6 until June 24, when he was released to the Bad Aibling Prisoner of War Enclosure for discharge. He then traveled, apparently, to Tegernsee. Johannmeier meanwhile went to his family’s home in Iserlohn in Westphalia, and buried his documents in a bottle in the back garden. Lorenz decided to live under a cover name and to await events. Lorenz eventually ended up in Luxembourg and found work as a journalist under the assumed name of George Thiers.
With the war over and things returning somewhat to normal, Heinz Lorenz thought the time was ripe to disclose that he had information of great interest. During the first week of November, using an alias, and posing as a journalist from Luxembourg, he approached the British authorities in Hannover for work and offered to give details of life inside Hitler’s bunker. Questions were asked as to how he had acquired this knowledge. As his answers were not clearly expressed, suspicions were aroused and he was subsequently arrested for possessing false identity papers. It was decided to send him to Fallingbostel, where the British had established a camp, using the former Stalag 11B for allied prisoners, to hold suspected war criminals and others under the “Arrest” category. There they were immediately searched by army personnel for any items or materials of intelligence value. Many of the Germans were found to have “smoking gun” material. This material was handled at Fallingbostel by the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section, under the command of Captain Rollo Reid. This Section included five Jewish German-born bilingual British soldiers. They did translation and interrogation work. When Lorenz arrived at the camp, during a routine search a corporal noticed the unusual bulkiness of the man’s shoulder pads. He asked him to remove his jacket and then proceeded to rip open the shoulders and found a number of documents. He instantly recognized that these must be documents of importance, even though they were typed in German and he could not understand them. Seeking advice, he put them in a safe place and telephoned Reid. This was in the middle of the night. The corporal gave him a brief description of the find and Reid realized that the documents needed immediate investigation. When arriving at the office Reid discovered that the signature shown to him on some of the documents appeared to be that of Hitler. He now needed urgent confirmation and at 5am called in five of his men who spoke German and locked the door.
In the early hours of the morning Reid proceeded to distribute the documents among the five men. He asked them whether they could identify what they held in their hands. Unanimously they burst out saying “This is Hitler’s Will. Not a copy but the original.” The pages changed hands. They carefully read and scrutinized the papers and confirmed earlier findings. Reid then had the five men translate Hitler’s wills and Goebbels’ addendum. They retired to their offices, one man per office and were ordered to lock the door. They were not to be disturbed until they had finished their translations.
After finishing the translations, they exchanged documents and notes, carefully scrutinizing each other’s translations. Reid pressed them to finish the job quickly, as he had somewhat prematurely contacted Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks, commander of XXX Corps, informing him of the find of “some very important documents.” Equipped with the originals of both the political testament and personal will, and Goebbels’s appendix, as well as the translations, Reid and four others set off for headquarters. They arrived well before noon. They were immediately ushered into Horrock’s office. Before perusing the documents Horrocks dismissed his staff and spoke privately with Reid and his men. He was then shown the original documents and their translation. Very briefly he questioned them and explained that his next step would be to telephone London to ascertain the genuineness of the papers. He then brought out champagne and made a short speech, complimenting them on the swift and efficient way that they had dealt with this exceptional find. Back at Fallingbostel the men received instructions not to divulge their find to anyone, but to exercise complete silence.
During an interrogation of Lorenz by the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section he admitted that his real name was Heinz Lorenz, and that he had been Goebbels’ Press Attaché, whose primary responsibility had been to monitor enemy radio broadcasts. It was he who had brought Hitler news of Himmler’s attempt to negotiate with the Allies. He was then interrogated in great detail. He spoke freely, and the section’s assessment of him at the time was that he was a Mitlaeufer (someone who ran with the pack). After a long process of interrogation Lorenz at last told a story which was believed to be true. He said that he, together with Wilhelm Zander (assistant to Bormann) and Willi Johannmeier (assistant to General Burgdorf), left Hitler’s bunker on April 29, having each received a set of documents which they were ordered to deliver to Field Marshal Schoerner, Admiral Doenitz, and to Munich for preservation and eventual publication. Lorenz had been interrogated in detail on how he came into possession of these documents and he gave a story of the last days in the Bunker. Lorenz’s story was checked against all available evidence and appeared to be entirely reliable. The signatures on the documents were compared with other signatures of Hitler, Bormann, and Goebbels and pronounced by an expert to be genuine. They were also shown to Otto Dietrich, Hitler’s Press Chief, and were immediately recognized by him. The members of the 3rd British Counter-Intelligence Section were then given strict orders that the arrest of Lorenz should in no way be discussed outside the section and above all it should not be leaked to the press.
The British knew that of the two people Lorenz identified, Johannmeier was believed to have been in the bunker, and to have left it shortly before Hitler’s death; but nothing further was known about Zander. However, in his interrogations Lorenz gave enough information to trace Zander, as well as Johannmeier.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, who had spent October in Germany tracking down evidence of Hitler’s death, had been in Oxford only about ten days when he received a telephone call from Bad Oeynhausen informing him that a document had been found, which appeared to be Hitler’s will. He had already seen a telegram referring to a “personal testament” among Doenitz’s papers, so he was predisposed to believe it to be genuine. He was soon able to examine it himself, after a photostatic copy was couriered to him. Accompanying this personal testament was a political testament. Also attached was an appendix signed by Goebbels. Trevor-Roper flew to Germany to resume his Hitler investigation. He did so believing that the sets of documents carried by Johannmeier and Zander could be traced, this would establish authenticity of the wills beyond doubt.
Trevor-Roper had never heard of Zander, but was familiar with the name Johannmeier, whom he knew to have been on Burgdorf’s staff. Johannmeier was traced living quietly with his parents in Iserlohn, in the British Zone of Occupation, some 90 miles southeast of Bad Oeynhausen. Trevor-Roper had him detained on December 20 and interrogated. He denied everything, and his interrogator, a twenty-two year old captain, was inclined to release him. Dissatisfied, Trevor-Roper decided to go to Iserlohn to interrogate Johannmeier himself. Eventually, after long questioning, Johannmeier admitted that he had been in the bunker, but he continued to deny any knowledge of Hitler’s will. His story was that he had been ordered to escort Lorenz and Zander through Russian lines. He understood them to be carrying documents, but claimed to be ignorant of what these were. Even when shown the copies he insisted that he had never seen them before. He was a simple soldier, no more. Frustrated, Trevor-Roper gave orders that Johannmeier should be kept in detention over the Christmas period. Trevor-Roper knew that further progress was not possible till further evidence could be obtained from Zander.
Trevor-Roper then returned to Bad Oeynhausen. There he heard from British Major Peter Ramsbotham that the military high-ups were panicking: no one wanted the responsibility of deciding what to do about Hitler’s will. The decision had been passed up the line to the Joint Intelligence Committee in London. “This is an historical document,” Ramsbotham said, “who are these brass-hats that they should feebly demand the suppression of historical documents?” Equally exasperated, Trevor-Roper made a bold proposal. Zander’s home was in Munich, in the American Zone. “Give me a car, for ten days, and I will look for Zander, and if I should find him and his documents I should of course have to hand the documents over to the American authorities; and if they should choose not to suppress but to publish them, that would be too bad, but it would be no business of ours: for the choice is theirs.” Trevor-Roper would indeed be going to Munich where he would meet American Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) agent Arnold Hans Weiss, who was also on the trail of Zander.
While Trevor-Roper was conducting his investigation, Weiss and his counterintelligence team, working out of an office in Munich, were similarly charged with hunting down members of Hitler’s inner circle and finding evidence of Hitler’s death. Weiss was born Hans Arnold Wangersheim on July 25, 1924, to a middle-class family of assimilated Jews that had lived in Franconia for nearly four centuries. He was six when his parents divorced in 1930. His mother Thekla Rosenberg took custody of Weiss and his two sisters. Their father provided no financial support. On her bookkeeper’s salary she could not afford to raise three children, so kept the two sisters and sent Arnold in either 1930 or 1931 to an Orthodox Jewish orphanage in Furth, near Nuremberg. He got to see his mother and sisters for a few hours every few months and his maternal grandmother’s apartment was within walking distance and he visited her at least once a week. One of his classmates was Henry Kissinger, who had been born in Furth in 1923.
Weiss fled Germany in 1938, as did the Kissinger family, after his bar mitzvah and made his way to the United States with the help of a Quaker group. He only had a cardboard suitcase and $5, and did not speak a word of English or know a single person. He eventually was taken in by a family from Janesville, Wisconsin. After high school he went to a watchmaker’s college. Later, he was able to help get his mother and sisters to the United States. In 1942, he joined the United States Army Air Corps as a B-17 gunner. During a crash landing he broke both his legs, and because of his German language skills, soon found himself joining the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps.
Weiss returned to Nuremberg in the spring of 1945 with the 45th Division. He helped liberate Dachau, where he learned that his father had been there and would learn later he had survived and immigrated to Brazil with a new wife. Later he learned that his grandmother had been taken to Auschwitz and did not survive.
Now, Weiss in the fall, with CIC special agent Rosener, was on the trail of Martin Bormann and other top Nazis that may have survived and been hiding in the American Zone. Weiss vaguely knew that Bormann’s adjutant was from Munich. Weiss scoured the records and discovered that his adjutant, Wilhelm Zander, indeed hailed from Munich, and was still unaccounted for. Zander not only might know where Bormann was hiding, as there was a good chance that he had been in the bunker just before the Red Army stormed it. Weiss rounded up his mother and sister who told him that Zander had a 21-year old girlfriend living in Munich and Weiss had her arrested. She told him that she had been Zander’s lover and that she had seen him six weeks earlier. She told Weiss the alias Zander was using and where he was hiding. Weiss immediately sent a message to CIC headquarters in Frankfurt. It notified British intelligence, which dispatched Trevor-Roper to join Weiss in the chase. This was probably on or about December 20.
The Allies had no trace of Zander since he had left the bunker and began his travels with Lorenz and Johannmeier, that is, until Weiss was able to obtain information about him. By all accounts from his parents-in-law in Hanover and from his wife and her circle in Munich, Zander was missing, never having reached his home in Munich after separating from Lorenz in Hanover. Frau Zander produced elaborate evidence of this and of her own genuine desire to discover news of him, by naming all his other relatives, producing photographs and references, and other evidence. All of this was designed to mislead the hunters. Information contained in the files of the Munich CIC office in the fall indicated that Zander was presumed to be dead.
Apparently at the end of June or beginning of July Zander began working as a landscaper for some time and as a janitor in Tegernsee. In August Ilsa Unterholzner, who had been one of Bormann’s secretaries, by chance met Zander, whom she had known, at Tegernsee where Zander was then working as a gardener. In October Unterholzner went to Aidenbach (about 100 miles northeast of Tegernsee) to visit her sister, Mrs. Schmidt, and then invited Zander to spend his Christmas vacation with them in Aidenbach. Zander left Tegernsee on December 22 for Aidenbach in company of Unterholzner, who had apparently been visiting her sister-in-law in Tegernsee. Before making the trip to Aidenbach, Zander gave Unterholzner’s sister-in-law, Irmgard Unterholzner, at Tegernsee, a suitcase containing the documents and told her to keep it until his return.
Meanwhile, Trevor-Roper set out for the American Zone, probably on or about December 21.
San Diego shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO marked 2015 with the delivery of three lead ships: USNSLewis B. Puller, the Isla Bella and the Lone Star State, all representing new first-in-class vessels.
1. USNS Lewis B. Puller
In June, NASSCO delivered the USNS Lewis B. Puller to the U.S. Navy, the first ship in the Expeditionary Base Mobile (ESB) class. Previously known as a Mobile Landing PlatformAfloat Forward Staging Base (MLP AFSB), the 784-foot long ship include a 52,000 square-foot flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, mission planning spaces and accommodations for up to 250 personnel. The vessel will operate in support of Air Mine Counter Measures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security operations, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions and Marine Corps crisis response. The ship is also designed to support MH-53 and MH-60 helicopters, and will be upgraded to support MV-22 tilt rotor aircraft.
In October, NASSCO shipbuilders began construction on a second ESB, and in December 2015, Congress approved $635 million in funding for a third ESB.
2. Isla Bella
In October, NASSCO delivered the world’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered containership, the Isla Bella, to TOTE Maritime nearly two months ahead of schedule. Isla Bellais the first in a two-ship contract signed in December 2012 with TOTE. The 764-foot long Marlin Class containerships are the largest dry cargo ships powered by LNG, making them the cleanest ships of their type anywhere in the world. The Isla Bella’s sister ship, the Perla Del Caribe, is currently under its final stages of construction at the NASSCO shipyard and is scheduled to be delivered to TOTE during the first quarter of 2016.
3. Lone Star State
In November, NASSCO also delivered the first ECO-Class tanker, the Lone Star State, to American Petroleum Tankers (APT). The new ECO Class tanker is the first of a five-tanker contract between NASSCO and APT, which calls for the design and construction of five 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tankers with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity. The 610-foot-long tankers were built with a new “ECO” design, offering significantly improved fuel efficiency and the latest environmental protection features. The tankers are 33 percent more fuel-efficient than the previous five tankers built by NASSCO for APT between 2007 and 2010.
For its commercial work, NASSCO partners with South Korean shipbuilding power, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), for access to state-of-the-art ship design and shipbuilding technologies.
The first thing I learned since then is that it takes me some 3,300 hours, or the better part of two years, to research and write a 300-page book. This means that the first person my budding story has to interest is me. The second is NIP’s acquisition editor, once Tom Cutler and now Gary Thompson.
A second lesson learned is that I must establish very early in this long process that the story is, in fact, not fiction. I spent three months researching one report (or incident), the disappearance of the lightship Cross Rip (LV-6) off her station in Nantucket Sound with all hands on board during the paralyzing freeze-up of 1918, which turned out not to be true. The Cross Rip’s septuagenarian first mate, Henry Joy, purportedly left his ship—caught that February in pack ice and shoved past the Nantucket Light out to sea—and walked ashore seven miles (seven!) over the floes to ask Keeper William Grieder for permission to abandon ship. Permission denied, Joy headed nobly and numbly back to his ship; neither he, others of the crew (the Cross Rip’s captain was on leave ashore), nor their ship were ever seen again.
A great story: the era of lightships was a fascinating one; the infamous 1918 freeze-up amounted to a one-year ice age across the American Midwest and New England; shipwrecks and mysterious disappearances are always interesting, and better yet, old man Joy’s (he was my age today) dangerous trek across the ice gave the story an emotional focal point. But the first mate’s trial seems to have been wholly made up by newspapermen on the Cape looking to lend the Cross Rip’s mysterious disappearance some special interest. No government investigations or anything anywhere else substantiated it.
Another lesson has to do with sources. Unlike political speeches, written history needs facts—events that really happened—at its core. Not only facts, interpretation and speculation are fine in their place, but more than imagination or pure conjecture is required. Sources, both primary and secondary, provide this essential foundation.
Not long ago I thought about writing a book on the American Protective League, a self-described "vast, silent volunteer army" whose quarter-million civilians nosed freely about the United States on a mission to unearth draft dodgers of the Great War. Its eager operatives hoped and believed they would expose the German Kaiser’s spies and sympathizers who, they felt, were surely concealed among millions of disloyal German- and Austrian-Americans in the country.
Primary research materials, in the archives of the Departments of Justice and the Treasury among others, are rich. Secondary sources on the APL are also good, among them many period newspapers and much periodical reporting that provides special insights. Several books, including Emerson Hough’s The Web, a Revelation of Patriotism (Chicago: the Riley & Lee Company, 1919), the APL’s "authorized history," Prof. Joan Jensen’s The Price of Vigilance (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1968), and recently (perhaps too recently) Bill Mills’ The League (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013) are available, too.
The history of the APL is interesting in its own right, but that history becomes fascinating when viewed as the distant roots of American anxiety today about homeland security and the xenophobia that together lie at the core of the 2016 presidential campaign. I hope to have time to describe this story someday.
Embassy to the Eastern Courts, America’s Secret First Pivot Toward Asia 1832‒37, my most recent NIP book, is the true story of two bold and curious diplomatic missions sent around the world by President Andrew Jackson. These missions represented America’s first attempts at regularizing trade with colorful empires in Araby and Asia. It’s the story, as well, of a once-tiny, two-ship squadron that during the next century grew into history’s most powerful fleet. Happily, the adventures I describe—exhausting months afloat followed by exotic port calls, crews swept by epidemic disease, a shipwrecked crew tormented by pirates, frustrating negotiations (some successful, some not) between proud people, and more—are all true, as fully documented in excellent sources at the National Archives, the Library of Congress, on the Web, and in libraries abroad.
The Tennessee, subject of an upcoming Naval Institute Press book by Andrew Jampoler, is shown here soon after commissioning in her "Great White Fleet" paint scheme. (Naval History and Heritage Command)
With Embassy behind me (but I hope in front of you), my next NIP book will relate the story of the handsome armored cruiser USS Tennessee (ACR-10) and her fascinating mission to Europe in 1914‒15 during the first months of World War I. Back home, in May 1916, the Tennessee was rechristened Memphis, freeing the state’s name for a planned new battleship. At anchor in shallow water off Santo Domingo during the balmy afternoon of August 29, 1916, the Memphis failed to get steam up in time to escape a series of huge waves that pushed her ashore, destroying the ship. Nearly 250 of her crew were killed or injured in the disaster. The origin of those waves is a mystery still.
To learn more about Andrew Jampoler and his forthcoming book talks, check his website. Jampoler’s January speaking engagements, which are open to the public, follow.