Martin Bormann (17 June 1900 – 2 May 1945) was an influential official in National Socialist Germany, chief of staff and personal secretary to Rudolf Hess, and then Adolf Hitler. After Rudolf Hess's flight to Britain in 1941 Bormann became head of the NSDAP's Chancellery.
Born in Wegeleben (now in Saxony-Anhalt) in the Kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire, Bormann was the son of Theodor Bormann (1862–1903), on the staff of the Post Office, and his second wife, Antonie Bernhardine Mennong. The family was Lutheran. He had two half-siblings (Else and Walter Bormann) from his father's earlier marriage to Louise Grobler, who died in 1898. Antonie Bormann gave birth to three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Martin and Albert (1902–89) survived to adulthood. Theodor died when Bormann was three, and his mother soon remarried.
Bormann's studies at an agricultural trade high school were interrupted when he was required for service in The Great War and joined the 55th Field Artillery Regiment as a gunner in June 1918. In training, he never saw action before the war ended months later, but served in garrison duty until February 1919. Bormann subsequently became estate manager of a large farm in Mecklenburg. Shortly after starting work at the estate, Bormann joined a landowners association. Her later joined the Freikorps organisation headed by Gerhard Roßbach in 1922, acting as section leader and treasurer.
In 1927 Bormann joined the National Socialist Party (NSDAP), working on the staff of the SA from 1928 to 1930, and while there he founded the National Socialist Automobile Corps, precursor to the National Socialist Motor Corps. On 1st January 1937 he joined the Schutzstaffel (SS). On 1st July 1933 he was appointed Chief-of-Staff to the office of Rudolf Hess. On 10 October 1933 Hitler named Bormann Reichsleiter (national leader – the second highest political rank) of the Party, and in November he was named a Reichstag deputy. By June 1934, Bormann was gaining acceptance into Hitler's inner circle and accompanied him everywhere, providing briefings and summaries of events and requests. In 1935 Bormann was appointed as overseer of renovations at the Berghof, Hitler's property at Obersalzberg.
When Captain Karlheinz Pintsch, Rudolf Hess's adujtant, arrived at the Berghof to tell Hitler of Hess's unexpected flight to Britain in May 1941, Pintsch told Bormann of it in the corridor on the way to lunch. His response was "Don't involve me! I don't know anything about it, Pinsch!" After lunch Pinsch was arrested and imprisoned for three years. He survived the war.
According to Heinrich Heim, whom Bormann ordered to record Hitler's Table Talk as well as a minute chronicle of all the important events at the Fuhrer's court, Bormann stated "at my suggestion Heydrich was appointed Reich Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia, having spoken up for Heydrich to Hitler. Heim subsequently stated that Bormann's motive was to separate SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler from Heydrich.
Heydrich (who was assassinated in 1942) was investigating Bormann as a possible Soviet spy. Later, in his 'Memoirs', the National Socialist intelligence officer and later head of West German intelligence Reinhard Gehlen stated that Bormann had been a Soviet spy: these have been debunked. Also others have made similar claims.
After Hitler committed suicide, Bormann, in the company of Hans Baur (d.1993), Erich Kempka (d.1975), Johann Rattenhuber (d.1957), Heinz Linge (d.1980) and Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, "all wearing steel helmets" prepared to flee central Berlin on 30 April/1 May 1945. (Stumpfegger was shot in the leg during the escape and committed suicide on 2nd May.) There has been a great deal of controversy and debate and many theories on Bormann having survived and sightings were reported at points all over the world. Bormann's body was not found until 1972 in Berlin. Various methods including genetic DNA testing have supported the identification. It appears he died, possibly by suicide, near the Lehrter Bahnhof (Station).
At the Nuremburg Show Trials Bormann was tried in absentia and sentenced to death.
The Spy arguments
Lieutenant-General Reinhard Gehlen suggested in his memoirs, Der Dienst, that Bormann had not only been a Soviet spy but had survived the war and was living in Russia under perfect cover. "There was widespread incredulity and scepticism" and the editors of Die Welt, upon approaching Gehlen for detailed confirmation, were turned down. The newspaper stated "conclusive proof is lacking" - "too many questions about Bormann remain unanswered" - "innumerable hot trails". Horst von Glasenapp, a Frankfurt investigating judge, immediately asked Gehlen to record his secret information on Bormann, and the Federal Government gave Gehlen permission to make a statement. Gehlen then said that in 1946 or 1947 one of his contact men had seen the weekly newsreel in an East Berlin cinema; it included a sporting event in Moscow and during the film the camera had swung along the mass of spectators in the stadium. Gehlen's man had detected Bormann among the crowd. This was all Gehlen's statement to Glasenapp amounted to. Moreover, he was not prepared to make the statement, which ran to four foolscap pages, on oath.
- Hutton, 1970, pps:58-61.
- Heydrich by Gunther Deschner, 1977; English-language edition by Orbis, London, 1981, p.190.
- Network - The Truth About General Gehlen and His Spy Ring by Heinz Hohne and Herman Zolling, Hamburg 1971 and London 1973, pps:xx-xx1.
- Reinhard Heydrich: Part III http://revblog.codoh.com/2012/09/reinhard-heydrich-3/
- Book Review: Hitler’s Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich (by Louis Kilzer) : WW2 http://www.historynet.com/book-review-hitlers-traitor-martin-bormann-and-the-defeat-of-the-reich-by-louis-kilzer-ww2.htm
- Until The Final Hour by Traudl Junge (Hitler's last secretary), London, 2003, p.192-3, ISBN 0-297-84720-1
- Network - The Truth About General Gehlen and his Spy Ring, by Heinz Hohne and Hermann Zolling, Hamburg 1971 and London 1972, pxx-xxi.
- Martin Bormann by James McGovern, William Morrow & Co.. New York, 1968.
- Hess - The Man and His Mission, by J. Bernard Hutton, London, April 1970.
- NOT GUILTY AT NUREMBERG: The German Defense Case - detailed descriptions and criticisms of the alleged evidence against each of the accused at the IMT
- Book Review: Hitler’s Traitor: Martin Bormann and the Defeat of the Reich (by Louis Kilzer) : WW2