Cover Letter sent by Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, Sr. to President Harry S. Truman
19 March 1946
Dear Mr. President:
Our military Intelligence personnel, through information furnished by the British Intelligence Service, recovered Adolf Hitler’s personal and political wills, his marriage certificate, and a letter transmitting these documents to Admiral Doenitz, signed by Martin Bormann. The unique character of these papers and their historic significance prompt me to forward them to you as a matter of personal interest. A laboratory test by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that these documents are authentic.
Hitler’s final anti-Semitic tirade, his frantic attempt to maintain a semblance of German government, and what amounts to a suicide pact between himself and Eva Braun vividly illustrate the closing hours of the Nazi regime. These are matters of great public interest. Might I suggest that these documents be placed on display in the Library of Congress of other suitable establishment.
Secretary of War
The White House
THE DISCOVERY OF HITLER’S WILLS
The discovery by British and American GI officers of all three copies of Hitler’s wills, with attendant documents, followed as a regular development from the discovery of the first set of documents in the coat-lining of Heinz Lorenz, an official of the Nazi Pressedienst, who was already under arrest for possessing false identity papers. These documents were: Hitler’s personal will, his political testament, and an explanatory appendix by Goebbels.
The first problem was to establish the authenticity of the documents; this was attested both by a professional scrutiny of the signatures and by the consistency of their contents with facts already known from the telegrams captured at Flensburg. The next question was: How did Lorenz come into possession of these documents? After a long process of interrogation, Lorenz at last told a story which was believed to be true. The important points in this story were that Lorenz, together with two others, SS Staf Wilhelm Zander (assistant to Bormann) and Major Willi Johannmeier (assistant to Gen. Buurgdorf), left Hitler’s bunker on 29 April, having each received a set of documents which they were ordered to deliver to Fieldmarshal Scherner, Admiral Loenitz, and to Munich for preservation and eventual publication. Of these two persons, Johanmeier was known to have been in the bunker and to have left shortly before Hitler’s death; but nothing was known further about Zander. The next problem was therefore to pursue these two persons, and discover whether they had the documents which had been ascribed to them.
Willi Johanmeier was soon found, living quietly under his own name in his home town of Iserlohn. A straightforward soldier of unconditional loyalties and unquestioned courage, he firmly and plausibly maintained (after an initial cover-story) that he was merely sent as military escort to the other two, to guide them through the Russian lines. Nothing would shake him in his assertions; and in spite of the discrepancy of his evidence with that of Lorenz, he almost convinced his interrogators. At any rate, no progress could be made till further evidence could be obtained from Zander.
By all accounts from his parents-in-law in Hannover and from his wife and her circle in Munich, Zander was missing, never having reached his home in Munich after separating from Lorenz in Hannover. 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 which (it subsequently transpired) was designed to mislead the hunters. Nevertheless, a British officer who visited Munich to investigate the matter, in conjunction with the local American CIC, casually discovered some evidence which satisfied him that Zander was alive and living under an assumed name; and this, in consequence of a lengthy and clever interrogation by American CIC of a woman friend who had seen him since his arrival, was achieved. The name, subsequently confirmed from another interrogation, was Friedrich-Wilhelm Paustin; and he had worked for a time in a market garden in Tegernsee.
From that moment the arrest of Zander was only a matter of time. The local records of Tegernsee soon revealed Paustin’s movements; and after an abortive raid on his address in the village, he was tracked down to a village near Pasauon the Austrian frontier and arrested. Under interrogation, he revealed himself as a disillusioned Nazi idealist who saw the game was up and spoke freely. He gave his story, which agreed with that of Lorenz, and revealed the location of the documents. A visit to collect them was, however, unnecessary; the earlier raid in Tegernsee has so frightened the custodian of Zander’s trunk that she had already voluntarily surrendered it to the local CIC. The documents were found in it, and consisted, as Lorenz had stated, of Hitler’s two wills, the marriage certificate of Hitler and Eva Braun, and a covering letter from Bormann to Doenitz.
After Zander, the interest now switched again to Johanmeier whose story was not assailed by the independent, but unanimous testimony of both his companions, nevertheless, Johanmeier held firmly to his version. He had no documents and could therefore produce none. It was clear that he was actuated by true loyalty. His orders were that the documents were not to fall into our hands, and these orders he intended to fulfill, in spite of the evidence. No threats or implied threats would have moved him, being too proud to accept them. The appeal was therefore to reason. He could give us nothing that we had not got; we had no interest in holding him and yet must do so unless he could explain away the difficulty. Nevertheless, for two hours Johannmeier firmly resisted even this appeal, and by his single-minded insistence almost convinced his interrogator. Ultimately it was a pause in the proceedings which achieved his conversion. In a pause, a man can reason with himself and catch up on the argument, and in this pause Johannmeier decided that if his companions, old and highly-promoted party men could so easily betray a trust which, to them, was connected with their alleged political ideals, it was quixotic of him, who had no such party connection, to suffer longer in their cause. After the pause, when the long business began again, he observed at last “Ich habe die Papiere”; and within a few hours had led his interrogator to a corner of his garden in Iserlohn and dug up a bottle containing (as expected) Hitler’s political testament and a covering note from Burgdorf to Schoerner. With that the last of the documents in the case were in Allied hands.
The personal will and “political Testament” of Hitler are reproduced below, together with the appendix written by Goebbels.
MY PERSONAL WILL
Although during the years of struggle I believed that I could not undertake the responsibility of marriage, now, before the end of my life, I have decided to take as my wife the woman who, after many years of true friendship, came to this city, already most besieged, of her own free will, in order to share my fate. She will go to her death with me at our own wish, as my wife. This will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.
My possessions, in so far as they are worth anything, belong to the Party, or if this no longer exists, to the State. If the State, too, is destroyed, there is no need for any further instructions on my part.
The paintings in the collections bought by me during the course of the years were never assembled for private purposes, but solely for the establishment of a picture gallery in my home town of Linz on the Danube.
It is my most heartfelt wish that this Will should be duly executed.
As Executor, I appoint my most faithful party comrade, Martin Bormann. He is given full legal authority to make all decisions. He is permitted to hand over to my relatives anything which is of value as a personal memento, or is necessary for maintaining a petit bourgeois standard of living especially to my wife’s mother and my faithful fellow workers of both sexes who are well known to him. The chief of these are my former secretaries, Frau Winter, etc. who helped me for many years by their work.
My wife and I choose to die in order to escape the shame of overthrow or capitulation. It is our wish for our bodies to be burnt immediately on the place where I have performed the greater part of my daily work during the course of my 12 years’ service to my people.
Berlin, 29 Apr 45… 4.00 hours
Witnesses: Martin Bormann.
Nicolaus von Below.
MY POLITICAL STATEMENT
More than 30 years have passed since I made my modest contribution as a volunteer in the First World War which was forced upon the Reich.
In the three decades, the love of and loyalty to my people alone have guided me in all my thoughts, actions and life. They gave me the power to make the most difficult decisions which have ever confronted mortal man. I have spent all my time, my powers and my health in these three decades.
It is untrue that I or anybody else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was wanted and provoked exclusively by those international statesmen who were either of Jewish origin or worked for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers of limitation and control of armaments, which posterity will not for all time be able to disregard, for the responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be placed on me. Further, I have never wished that after the first appalling world war, there should be a second one against either England or America. Centuries will go by, but from the ruins of our towns and monuments, hatred of those ultimately responsible will always grow anew. They are the people whom we have to thank for all this; international Jewry and its helpers!
Three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war, I suggested to the British Ambassador in Berlin a solution of the German-Polish question, similar to that in the case of the Saar under international control. This offer, too, cannot be denied. It was only rejected because the ruling political clique in England wanted the war, partly for commercial reasons, partly because they were influenced by propaganda put out by international Jewry.
I also made it quite plain that if the peoples of Europe were again to be regarded merely as pawns in the game played by the international conspiracy of money and finance, then the Jews, the race which is the real guilty party in this murderous struggle, would be saddled with the responsibility for it. I left no one in doubt that this time not only would millions of children of the European Aryan races starve, not only would millions of grown men meet their death and not only would hundreds of thousands of women and children be burnt and bombed to death in the cities, but this time the real culprits would have to pay for their guilt, even though by humaner means than war.
After a six years’ war, which in spite of all set-backs, will one day go down to history as the most glorious and heroic manifestation of the struggle for existence of a nation, I cannot forsake the city which is the capital of this State. As our forces are too small, to withstand the enemy attack on this place any longer, and our resistance will be gradually worn down by men who are merely blind automata, I wish to share my fate with that which millions of others have also taken upon themselves by staying in this town. Further, I shall not fall into the hands of the enemy who requires a new spectacle, presented by the Jews, to divert their hysterical masses.
I have therefore decided to remain in Berlin and there to choose death voluntarily at that moment when I believe that the position of the Fuehrer and Chancellor itself can no longer be maintained. I die with a joyful heart in my knowledge of the immeasurable deeds and achievements of our soldiers at the front, of our women at home, the achievements of our peasants and workers and of the contribution, unique in history, of our youth which bears my name.
That I express to them all the thanks which come from the bottom of my heart is as clear as my wish that they should therefore not give up the struggle under any circumstances, but carry it on wherever they may be against the enemies of the Fatherland, true to the principles of the great Clausewitz. From the sacrifice of our soldiers and from my own comradeship with them to death itself, the seed has been sown which will grow one day in the history of Germany to the glorious rebirth of the national socialist movement and thereby to the establishment of a truly united nation.
Many brave men and women have decided to link their lives with mine to the last. I have asked and finally ordered them no to do this, but to continue to take part in the nation’s struggle. I ask the commanders of the armies, of the navy and the air force to strengthen with all possible means the spirit of resistance of our soldiers in the national socialist belief, with special emphasis on the fact that I myself, as the founder and creator of this movement, prefer death to cowardly resignation or even to capitulation.
May it be in future a point of honour with German officers, as it already is in our navy, that the surrender of a district or town is out of the question, and that above everything else, the commanders must set a shining example of faithful devotion to duty until death.
SECOND PART OF THE POLITICAL STATEMENT
Before my death, I expel the former Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering from the Party and withdraw from him all rights which were conferred on him by the decree of 29 June 1941 and by my Reichstag speech of 1 September 1939. In his place I appoint Admiral Doenitz as president of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht.
Before my death I expel the former Reichsfuehrer SS and Minister of the Interior Heinrich Himmler from the party and from all his state offices. In his place I appoint Gauleiter Karl Hanke as Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German police, and Guleiter Paul Giesler as Minister of the Interior.
Apart altogether from their disloyalty to me, Goering and Himmler have brought irreplaceable shame on the country and the whole nation, by secretly negotiating with the enemy without my knowledge and against my will, and also by illegally attempting to seize control of the state.
In order to give the German people a government composed of honourable men who will fulfill the task of continuing the war with all means, as leader of the nation I appoint the following members of the Cabinet:
Chancellor: Dr. Goebbels
Party Minister: Bormann
Foreign Minister: Seyss-Inquart
Minister of the Interior: Gauleiter Giesler
Minister of War: Doenitz
Supreme Commander of the Army: Schoerner
Supreme Commander of the Navy: Doenitz
Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe: Greim
Reichsfuhrer SS and Chief of the German Police: Gauleiter Hanke
Culture: Dr. Scheel
Propaganda: Dr. Naumann
Labour: Dr. Hupfauer
Leader of the German Labour Front and
Member of the Cabinet: Reichminister Dr. Ley
Although a number of these men, such as Martin Bormann, Dr. Goebbels, etc., as well as their wives, have come to me of their own free will, wishing under no circumstances to leave the Reich capital, but instead to fall with me here, I must nevertheless ask them to obey my request and in this case put the interests of the nation above their own feelings. They will stand as near to me through their work and their loyalty as comrades after death as I hope that my spirit will remain among them and always be with them. May they be severe but never unjust, and may they above all never allow fear to influence their actions and may they place the honour of the nation above everything on earth. May they finally be conscious that our task, the establishment of a National Socialist state, represents the work of centuries to come and obliges each individual person always to serve the common interest before his own advantage. I ask all Germans, all National Socialists, men, women, and all soldiers of Wehrmarcht to be loyal and obedient to the new government and its president until death.
Above all I enjoin the government of the nation and the people to uphold the racial laws to the limit and to resist mercilessly the poisoner of all nations, international Jewry.
Berlin, 29 April 1945… 4.00 hrs
Dr. Joseph Goebbels Wilhelm Burgdorf
Martin Bormann Hans Krebs
Appendix to the Fuehrer’s Political Statement
REICHMINISTER DR. GOEBBELS
The Fuehrer has ordered me to leave Berlin if the defence of the Reich capital collapses and to take part as a leading member in a government appointed by him.
For the first time in my life I must categorically refuse to obey an order of the Fuehrer. My wife and children join me in this refusal. Otherwise, apart from the fact that on grounds of fellow feeling and personal loyalty we could never bring ourselves to leave the Fuehrer alone in his hour of greatest need,I would otherwise appear for the rest of my life a dishonourable traitor and common scoundrel, and would lose my own self-respect as well as the respect of my fellow citizens, a respect I should need in any further service in the future rebuilding of the German nation and German State.
In the nightmare of treason which surrounds the Fuehrer in these most critical days of the war, there must be at least some people to stay with him unconditionally until death, even if this contradicts the formal, and from a material point of view, entirely justifiable order which he gives in his political testament.
I believe that I am thereby doing the best service to the future of the German people. In the hard times to come, examples will be more important than men. Men will always be found to show the nation the way out of its tribulations, but a reconstruction of our national life would be impossible if it were not inspired by examples which are clear and easily understandable to all.
For this reason, together with my wife, and on behalf of my children, who are too young to be able to speak for themselves, but who, if they were sufficientlyt old, would agree with this decision without reservation. I express my unalterable decision not to leave the Reich capital even if it falls and, at the side of the Fuehrer to end a life which for me personally will have no further value if I cannot spend it at the service of the Fuehrer and by his side.
Berlin 29 Apr 45… 5.30 hours
Sgnd. DR. GOEBBELS
MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE OF ADOLF HITLER TO EVA BRAUN
The persons mentioned under 1 and 2 state that they are of pure Aryan descent and that they are not infected with inheritable diseases which would exclude them from marriage. Considering the war situation and the special circumstances they apply for marriage under special war time laws. They also ask to accept an oral publication of the bans to disregard all legal delays.
The application is accepted. The oral publication of the bans is checked. The findings are in order.
I come now to the ceremonial act of marriage.
In the presence of the witnesses mentioned under 3 and 4 I ask you,
My Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, Are you willing to take the Miss Eva Braun as your wife? If you are, answer “I Do”
Now I ask you, Are you willing to take Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler as your husband? If you are, answer “I Do”
Since both newlyweds have stated their intentions, I declare this marriage as legal before the law.
Berlin, 29 April 1945
(1) Husband: (Signed) Adolf Hitler
(2) Wife: Eve Hitler nee Braun
(3) Witness 1: Joseph Goebbels
(4) Witness 2: M. Bormann
(5) (Signed) Wagner
Of the Capital of the Reich
Before Walter Wagner, City Councillor, as the appointed Registrar of the Capital of the Reich appeared, for the purpose of joining in marriage.
(1) Adolf Hitler
Born 20 April 1889 at Braunai
Residence: Berlin, Reich Chancellory
Marriage of the parents
Identified by: Personally known
(2) Miss Eva Braun
Born on the 6th of February 1910 in Munich, Wasserburgest No. 8
Residence: Munich Wasserburgest No. 12
Father: Friedrich Braun
Mother: Franciska Braun, Nee Dronburger
Marriage of the parents
Identified by: special identity card dated 4 April 39 issued by the Chief of the German Police
(3) Witness: Reich-Minister Dr. Goebbels, Joseph
Born 26 October 1897 Rheydt
Residence: Berlin, Hermann Goeringst 20
Identified by: Personally kown
(4) Witness: Reichs Leiber Martin Bromann
Born 17 June 1900 in Halberstadt
Identified by: Personally known
- (Source: Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau)
- Adolf Hitler’s Private Will, Marriage Certificate and Political Testament, April 1945 (34 pages) [Harry S. Truman Library, HST-WWII: World War II Collection, 1932-1996, Subject Files, Documents Relating to the Last Will of Adolf Hitler (MHDC 350)]
- Part II: General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” undated (This is a history of how the will, marriage certificate and political testament were found)[Harry S. Truman Library, HST-WWII: World War II Collection, 1932-1996, Subject Files, Documents Relating to the Last Will of Adolf Hitler (MHDC 350)]