Thursday, October 2, 2014


Martin Bormann

                Johann Breyer is an 89-year-old Pennsylvania man, allegedly complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. His recent arrest and request for extradition by German authorities brings to mind perhaps the most evil Nazi of them all, and one who got away.

Martin Bormann was truly a Nazi’s Nazi. Having managed to claw his way to the top of Hitler’s Third Reich, Bormann became Hitler’s closest and most trusted collaborator and confidant, and was held in even higher esteem than Hitler’s other better known henchmen, Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer and Heinrich Himmler. In fact, Bormann was so trusted and cared for by Hitler, he was ordered out of the Fuhrerbunker in order to save himself just prior to Hitler committing suicide.

            During the war Bormann was responsible for directing a German U-boat operation to Argentina that transported six boat loads of spoils from Hitler’s persecution against the Jews. Among the treasure were extremely large quantities of gold, platinum, diamonds, currency and artwork confiscated from Jews on their way to Hitler death camps. As Bormann was never heard from again after his escape from the Fuhrerbunker, Allied authorities and others interested in such things were plagued by the nagging question of whatever happened to him. Some alleged eyewitness accounts claimed he had been blown up by the Russians troops during their advance on Berlin. Others claim he had committed suicide. In any event he was sentenced to death in absentia during the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1946. As might have been expected, there were numerous Bormann sightings for years after the war. It was commonly believed that Bormann had likely escaped to Argentina where it was believed he was living secretly as a millionaire.

            The end of the cold war brought with it a renewed interest in the fate of the missing Bormann after many Eastern European nations acknowledged their duty to review their own complicity in collaborating with the Nazis during the war. But even with this new desire of Eastern Europe to repent and come clean, Argentina refused to be so contrite. While at the time, Argentina’s government archives undoubtedly contain evidence of its own collaboration with the Nazis, including, a very large file marked “Bormann, Martin,” believed to be located in Buenos Aires,” and at least one other dossier, the then Argentine president Carlos Menem ironically refused to permit the release of any such files. His refusal was reportedly based on a 1958 confidentiality law designed to protect individuals from release of information about them in government files.

            Many have argued that 89 year old alleged concentration camp worker, Johann Breyer should just be left alone die on his own, because prosecuting him at this late date serves no good purpose. Although Martin Bormann may be the exception to the old you can run, but you cannot hide rule, what if he were to be suddenly found enjoying life in retirement at some old folks assisted living facility?  Should he be left alone? Would prosecuting serve no good purpose?

Unlike Johann Breyer, and other recently discovered former alleged Nazis butchers; one even having lived in Cleveland, Ohio as a retired auto worker, we will probably never know what ever became of Martin Bormann. A West German court pronounced him officially dead in 1973. He is undoubtedly dead by now and therefore personally free from recrimination.  But still, one cannot help wondering how many more Johann Breyers are still living among us. 

1 comment:

  1. Meanwhile: