Ten Years Since The Revolution: Stunning New Novel. Find Out More!

SAS Black Ops Al-Qaeda Dawn: Stunning New Novel. Find Out More!

Martin Bormann

Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann.

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

Early life and family

Bormann, born in Wegeleben (near Halberstadt) in the German Empire, was the son of post office employee Theodor Bormann (1862-1903) and his second wife, Antonie Bernhardine Mennong. He had two half-siblings (Else and Walter Bormann) from his father's first marriage to Louise Grobler, who had died in 1898. Later that year, Theodor Bormann married Antonie. She gave birth to three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Martin and Albert (born 1902) survived to adulthood.

Bormann dropped out of school to work on a farm in Mecklenburg. After serving briefly with an artillery regiment at the end of World War I - which never saw combat - Bormann became an estate manager in Mecklenburg, which brought him into contact with the Freikorps residing on the estate. He became involved in their activities, mostly assassinations and the intimidation of trade union organisers.

In March 1924, he was sentenced to a year in prison as an accomplice to his friend Rudolf Höss in the murder of Walther Kadow, who may have betrayed Albert Leo Schlageter to the French during the occupation of the Ruhr District.

On September 2, 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. Over the years, Gerda Bormann gave birth to ten children; one daughter died shortly after birth.

The children of Martin and Gerda Bormann were:

  • Adolf Martin Bormann (born April 14, 1930; called Krönzi; named after his godfather Hitler)
  • Ilse Bormann (born July 9, 1931; twin sister Ehrengard died after the birth; named after her godmother Ilse Hess)
  • Irmgard Bormann (born July 25, 1933)
  • Rudolf Gerhard Bormann (born August 31, 1934; named after his godfather Rudolf Hess)
  • Heinrich Hugo Bormann (born June 13, 1936; named after his godfather Heinrich Himmler)
  • Eva Ute Bormann (born August 4, 1938)
  • Gerda Bormann (born October 23, 1940)
  • Fred Hartmut Bormann (born March 4, 1942)
  • Volker Bormann (born September 18, 1943)

Gerda Bormann suffered from cancer in her later years, and died of mercury poisoning on March 23, 1946, in Merano, {{Italy]]. All of Bormann's children survived the war. Most were cared for anonymously in foster homes. His oldest son Martin was Hitler's godson. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1953, but left the priesthood in the late 1960s. He married an ex-nun in 1971 and became a teacher of theology.

Rise through the Nazi party

A good overview of Bormann's career in the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) can be found in Trevor-Roper's "Last Days of Hitler".

In 1925, after his release from prison, Bormann joined the NSDAP in Thuringia. He became the party's regional press officer and business manager in 1928.

Reich Leader and Head of the Party Chancellery

In October 1933, Bormann became a Reich Leader (Reichsleiter) of the NSDAP, and in November, a member of the Reichstag. From July 1933 until 1941, Bormann served as the personal secretary for Rudolf Hess. Bormann commissioned the building of the Kehlsteinhaus. The Kehlsteinhaus was formally presented to Hitler in 1939, after 13 months of expensive construction.

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. He developed and administered the Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry, a huge fund of voluntary contributions made by successful entrepreneurs. Bormann re-allocated these funds as gifts to almost all of the party leadership.

Bormann took charge of all Hitler's paperwork, appointments, and personal finances. Hitler came to have complete trust in Bormann and the view of reality he presented. During a meeting, Hitler was said to have screamed, "To win this war, I need Bormann!". Many historians have suggested Bormann held so much power that, in some respects, he became Germany's "secret leader" during the war. A collection of transcripts edited by Bormann during the war appeared in print in 1951 as Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944, mostly a re-telling of Hitler's wartime dinner conversations. The accuracy of the Table Talk is highly disputed, as it directly contradicts many of Hitler's publicly held positions, particularly in regards to religious adherence. The Table Talk is the only original source to claim that Hitler was an atheist. While Hitler's true religious feelings are unknown, Bormann was one of the few vocal atheists in the Nazi leadership.

Bormann's bureaucratic power and effective reach broadened considerably by 1942. Faced with the imminent demise of the Third Reich, he systematically went about the organising of German corporate flight capital, and set up off-shore holding companies and business interests in close coordination with the same Ruhr industrialists and German bankers who facilitated Hitler's explosive rise to power 10 years before. (See Ratlines)

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 was overheard by telephone operators during which Himmler reported to Bormann about the extermination of the 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 German dictator Adolf Hitler in the Führer's shelter (Führerbunker) during the Battle for Berlin. The Führerbunker was located under the Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei) in the center of Berlin.

On 28 April, Borman wired the following mesage to German Admiral 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 private secretary, Traudl Junge. Borman was Head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and was also the private secretary to Hitler. Shortly before the signing the last will and testament, Hitler married Eva Braun in a civil ceremony.

As the Soviet forces continued to fight their way into the center of Berlin. Hitler and Braun then committed suicide during the afternoon of the 30 April. Braun committed suicide by taking cyanide and Hitler by shooting himself. 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 (Reichskanzler).

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

On 2 May, the Battle of Berlin ended when General of the Artillery 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 generally agreed that, by this day, Bormann had left the Führerbunker. It has been claimed that he left with Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the city.

Death, rumours, remains, and disputes

There is some evidence that Bormann died in the closing days of the war, but his fate has been the source of much speculation since that time.

Axmann's account of Bormann's death

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 urged Bormann to save himself. On 1 May, Bormann left the Führerbunker with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger and Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. They emerged from an underground subway tunnel and quickly became disoriented among the ruins and ongoing battle. They walked for a time with some German tanks, but all three were temporarily stunned by an exploding anti-tank shell. Leaving the tanks and the rest of their group, they walked along railroad 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 railroad switching yard with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. He assumed they had been shot in the back.

Tried at Nuremberg in absentia

During the chaotic closing days of the war, there were contradictory reports as to Bormann's whereabouts. For example, Jakob Glas, Bormann's long-time chauffeur, insisted he saw Bormann in Munich weeks after 1 May 1945. The bodies were not found, and a global search followed including extensive efforts in South America. With no evidence sufficient to confirm Bormann's death, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg tried Bormann in absentia in October 1946 and sentenced him to death. His court-appointed defence attorney used the unusual and unsuccessful defence that the court could not convict Bormann because he was already dead. In 1965, a retired postal worker named Albert Krumnow stated that he had personally buried the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger.

Two decades of unconfirmed sightings

Unconfirmed sightings of Bormann were reported globally for two decades, particularly in Europe, Paraguay, and elsewhere in South America. Some rumours claimed that Bormann had plastic surgery while on the run. At a 1967 press conference, Simon Wiesenthal asserted there was strong evidence that Bormann was alive and well in South America. Writer Ladislas Farago's widely-known 1974 book Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich argued that Bormann had survived the war and lived in Argentina. Farago's evidence, which drew heavily on official governmental documents, was compelling enough to persuade Dr. Robert M. W. Kempner (a lawyer at the Nuremberg Trials) to briefly re-open an active investigation in 1972, but Farago's claims were generally rejected by historians and critics. Allegations that Bormann and his organization survived the war figure prominently in the work of David Emory.

Axmann's account gains support

Axmann and Krumnow's accounts were bolstered in late 1972 when construction workers uncovered human remains near the Lehrter Bahnhof in West Berlin just 12 meters 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. Fragments of glass in the jawbones of both skeletons indicated that Bormann and Stumpfegger had committed suicide by biting cyanide capsules in order to avoid capture. Soon after, in a press conference held by the West German government, Bormann was declared dead, a statement condemned by London's Daily Express as a whitewash perpetrated by the Brandt government. West German diplomatic functionaries were given the official instruction: "If anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man." In 1998, a test identified the skull as that of Bormann, using DNA from an unnamed 83-year-old relative.

Continuing controversy

Some controversy continued, however. For example, Hugh Thomas' 1995 book Doppelgangers claimed there were forensic inconsistencies suggesting Bormann died later than 1945. According to this work and the very controversial The Nazi Hydra in America: Wall Street and the Rise of the Fourth Reich by Glen Yeadon, there were not only significant forensic inconsistencies with Bormann's having died in 1945, but there were also a very many credible sightings of Bormann in South America well in to the 1960's. The forensic inconsistencies included the following:

1) A certain type of volcanic red clay that was found caked on much of the skull, which suggested that the skull had been dug up and moved since that type of soil doesn't exist in the ground in Berlin, but is instead largely found in Paraguay (which is where several of the Bormann sightings were reported to have occurred).

2) Record of dental work. Although Bormann's dental records dating back to 1945 matched dental work done on that skull, there was also other, more recently performed dental work that didn't show up on the 1945 dental records, but appeared to exist in addition to all of the other dental work that matched exactly the 1945 records.

3) The position and condition of the teeth in the skull indicated that the skull belonged to someone of a more advanced age then Bormann's almost 45 years at the time of his supposed 1945 death.

Some cover-up theories have suggested that after the war Bormann had lived elsewhere and that the skull was planted back at the site after his death - and even doctored with the glass shards in a cover-up attempt. Such explanations also suggest that he was buried elsewhere with no casket and later exhumed as part of some elaborate plan to make the decayed skull look appropriate for rediscovery in Berlin. These cover-up explanation provide as a motive that Bormann would want to have gone into hiding and cover-up his supposed Soviet spying activities.

Soviet spy or agent

In his 2000 book, Hitler's Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Louis Kilzer makes the case that Bormann was the elusive Soviet spy "Werther."

According to Reinhard Gehlen's 1972 autobiography, The Service, Bormann was a Soviet agent throughout World War II.

References in popular culture

  • Legendary softcore film director Russ Meyer used character actor Henry Rowland in four of his films to portray Bormann including Beyond the Valley of the Dolls where Bormann is stabbed to death by a transsexual while dressed in full Nazi regalia. Supervixens (1975) and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens (1979) feature Boorman as a gas station owner and small town Lothario respectively and in UP! (1978) where only his voice is heard coming from a mental institution where he is locked up with a recently castrated Adolf Schwartz aka Hitler.
  • Bormann's photo is shown in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and is identified as a man in South America who is the winner of the last golden ticket, a ticket that is later determined to be a forgery.
  • In the Mel Brooks movie To Be Or Not To Be Brooks, playing Adolf Hitler, refers to Bormann singing "So I said to Martin Boorman, I said, hey Marty, why don't we throw a little nazi party?".
  • In the Philip K. Dick science fiction novel The Man in the High Castle, Bormann is the current leader of Germany.
  • In Don Rosa's comics series The Pertwillaby Papers (first published in 1970s, published in book form 2001, by Gazette Bok, Oslo), Bormann was in charge of hiding the art treasures the Nazis had stolen from around the Europe; he is eventually found, frozen to death, on the North Pole.
  • In the Soviet miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973), Bormann is portrayed to play a key role in Nazi's purported separate peace talks with Western leaders, and concealing the 'party gold' after the defeat of the Nazis.
  • In Torgny Lindgren's Hash (Pölsan) (2002) (), Bormann escapes to Sweden and attempts to integrate into the local environment of a small village. He engages school teacher Lars in the quest of finding the world's best "hash" (the translator's attempt at finding a word for Swedish "pölsa", a real and non-drug-related dish).
  • In Kinshasa, Zaire, while covering the 1975 Rumble in the Jungle between Mohammad Ali and George Foreman for Rolling Stone magazine, Hunter S. Thompson had the hotel bellhop page "Martin Bormann." When Thompson left Zaire, he took with him a pair of elephant tusks that he had paid for with a traveller's check signed "Martin Bormann."
  • In Takao Saito's manga series Golgo 13, the Israeli government hires Golgo 13 to rescue a Mossad agent and eliminate Neo-Nazis operating in Argentina under the leadership of Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann.
  • Blue Öyster Cult recorded a track called Boorman the chauffer, which appears on the re-release of the 1974 Secret Treaties album.
  • Monty Python recorded a one-off show for German TV in 1972 called Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus, which included several sketches about the Olympic Games. One of these sketches includes a sprinter in a starting line-up who is described as "Bormann of Brazil." This sketch subsequently reappeared in the 1982 concert movie Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • Bormann, played by actor James Jeter, is shown as the bass player on the Sex Pistols' 1979 song The Biggest Blow (A Punk Prayer) in both the movie The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and on the single's picture sleeve. The single was recorded in Brazil with Ronnie Biggs on lead vocals, which presumably tied in with many post-war reports of Bormann's whereabouts in South America.
  • In 1987, Manchester group The Fall released a single with the song "Haf Found Bormann" as the B-side.
  • Martin Bormann was impersonated twice in the episode "The Legend" of the 1966 TV show Mission Impossible. First by a mannequin being used by a Nazi to resurrect Nazism in Germany and then by Martin Landau in the character of "Master of Disguise" Rollin Hand to discredit the Nazi."The Legend". Martin Landau. Mission: Impossible. CBS. February 11, 1967. No. 20, season 1. 50 minutes in.
  • In the 2005 Rebellion Developments game Sniper Elite, the player is tasked to kill Bormann to prevent him from surrendering himself to Soviet agents.
  • Thomas Thieme portrayed Bormann in the 2004 German movie Der Untergang about the last days of Hitler's life.
  • Jack Higgins wrote three novels in which Martin Bormann is featured: The Valhalla Exchange (1976), Thunder Point (1993), and The Bormann Testament (2006).
  • Martin Bormann is featured in the Colin Forbes novel "The Leader and the Damned" as a Russian spy
  • In a 'Timequake' story from the British science fiction comic Starlord, Bormann murders and then assumes the identity of a soldier who has traveled back in time to Berlin in 1945 to study the city under siege. Bormann successfully infiltrates the organisation of Time Control and changes the outcome of WWII, placing himself as the Reich's new Führer.
  • In the anime series Blood+, he is seen only once in episode 12 as one of Diva's chevaliers. It was believed he was killed later on.

 Original article  

Visit Home Page of Nazis.