The International Military Tribunal trials at Nuremberg [Nuernberg] in 1946 charged the defendants with four crimes. Count One charged all of the defendants with being "leaders, organizers, instigators, or accomplices in the formation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit, or which involved the commission of, Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity." Count Two charged the defendants with crimes against peace by their participation "in the planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression." Count Three charged the defendants with war crimes. Count Four charged the defendants with crimes against humanity. Martin Bormann was indicted on counts one, three, and four.
Nazi leader Martin Bormann (1900-1945?) was tried in absentia and sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946. A key associate of Adolf Hitler known as the "Brown Eminence", Bormann implemented the racist programs of National Socialism, especially the persecution and extermination of European Jewry. His exact fate after the war was unclear.
Bormann, in the beginning a minor Nazi, steadily rose to a position of power, and, particularly in the closing days, of great influence over Hitler. He was active in the party's rise to power and even more so in the consolidation of that power. He devoted much of his time to the persecution of the churches and of the Jews within Germany.
In 1922, when only 22 years old, he joined the Organization Rossbach, one of the armed illegal groups which developed the aggressive traditions of the German Army and established a regime of terror against the small pacifist minority in Germany. WhiIe he was District Leader of the Organization for Mecklenburg, he was arrested and tried for his part in a political terror assassination. On 15 May 1924 he was found guilty by the State Tribunal for the Protection of the Republic and sentenced to one year in prison.
Upon his release from jail in 1925, Bormann again took up his subversive activities. First, he joined the Militarist Organization Frontbann. Then, in the same year, he became a member of the reconstituted Nazi Party, and began his rise to one of the most influential positions in the conspiracy. In 1927 he became Press Chief for the Party Gau of Thuringia. On 1 April 1928 he was made a District Leader in Thuringia, and Business Manager for the entire Gau. From 15 November 1928 to August 1930 he was on the Staff of the Supreme Command of the SA. Thus he participated decisively in the development of these uniformed shock troops with which the conspirators terrorized and destroyed their opposition inside Germany.
He was in charge of the Aid Fund of the party and was Reichsleiter from 1933 to 1945. From 1933 to 1941 he was Chief of Staff in the office of the Fuehrer's deputy and, after the flight of Hess to England, became head of the Party Chancellery on 12 May 1941. On 12 April 1943, he became secretary to the Fuehrer. He was political and organizational head of the Volkssturm and a general in the SS.
The evidence didi not show that Bormann knew of Hitler's plans to prepare, initiate, or wage aggressive mars. He attended none of the important conferences when Hitler revealed piece by piece those plans for aggression. Nor can knowledge be conclusively inferred from the positions he held. It was only when he became head of the Party Chancellery in 1941, and later in 1943 secretary to the Fuehrer when he attended many of Hitler's conferences, that his positions gave him the necessary access. Under the view which the Nuremberg Tribunal has talren of the conspiracy to wage aggressive war, there was not sufficient evidence to bring Bormann within the scope of count one.
By decree of 20 May 1941, Bormann took over the offices and powers held by Hess; by the decree of 24 January 1942, these powers were extended to give him control over all laws and directives issued by Hitler. He was thus responsible for laws and orders issued thereafter. On 1December 1942, all Gaue became Reich Defense Districts, and the Party Gauleiters responsible to Bormann were appointed Reich Defense Commissioners. In effect, this made them the administrators of the entire civilian war effort. This was so not only in Germany but also in those territories which were incorporated into the Reich from the absorbed and conquered territories.
Through this mechanism Bormann controlled the ruthless exploitations of the subjected populace. His order of 12 August 1942 placed all party agencies at the disposal of Himmler's program for forced resettlement and de-nationalization of persons in the occupied countries. Three weeks after the invasion of Russia, he attended the conference of 16 July 1941 at Hitler's field quarters with Goering, Rosenberg, and Keitel; Bormann's report shows that there mere discussed and developed detailed plans of enslavement and annihilation of the population of these territories. And on 8 May 1992, he conferred with Hitler and Rosenberg on the forced resettlement of Dutch personnel in Latvia, the extermination prowran1 in Russia, and the economic exploitation of the eastern territories. He was interested in the confiscation "of art and other properties in the east. His letter of 11 January 1944 called for the creation of a large-scale organization to withdraw commodities from the occupied territories for the bombed-out German populace.
Bormann was extreniely active in the persecution of tho Jews, not only in Germany but also in the absorbed and conquered countries. He took part in the discussions which led to the removal of 60,000 Jews from Vienna to Poland in cooperation with the SS and the Gestapo. He signed the decree of 31 May 1941, extending the Nurnberg lams to the annexed eastern territories. In an order of 9 October 1942, he declared that the permanent elimination of Jews in Greater German territory could no longer be solved by emigration, but only by applying "ruthless force" in the special camps in the east. On 1 July 1943, he signed an ordinance withdrawing Jews from the protection of the law courts and placing them under the exclusive jurisdiction of Himmler's Gestapo.
Bormann was prominent in the slave labor program. The party leaders supervised slave labor matters in the respective Gaue, including employment, conditions of work, feeding, and housing. By his circular of 5 May 1943, to the Leadership Corps distributed down to the level of Ortsgruppenleiters, he issued directions regulating the treatment of foreign workers, pointing out they were subject to SS control on security problems, and ordered the previous mistreatment to cease. A report of 4 September 1942, relating to the transfer of 500,000 female domestic workers from the east to Germany showed that control was to be exercised by Sauckel, Himmler, and Bormann. Sauckel by decree of 8 September directed the Kreisleiters to supervise the distribution and assignment of these female laborers.
Bormann also issued a series of orders to the party leaders dealing with the treatment of prisoners of war. On 5 November 1941, he prohibited decent burials for Russian prisoners of war. On 25 November 1943 he directed Gauleiters to report cases of lenient treatment of prisoners of mar. And on 13 September 1944, he ordered liaison between tlie Kreisleiters with the camp commnndaiits in determining the use to be made of prisoners of war for forced labor. On 29 January 1943, he transmitted to his leaders OMW instructions allowing the use of firearms, and corporal punishment on recalcitrant prisoners of mar, contrary to the rules of land warfare. On 30 September 1944, he signed a decree taking from the OKW jurisdiction over prisoners bf war and handing them over to Hinimler and the SS.
Bormann was responsible for the lynching of Allied airmen. On 30 May 1944, he prohibited any police action or criminal proceedings against persons who had taken part in the lynching of Allied fliers. This mas accompanied by a Goebbels' propaganda campaign inciting the German people to take action of this nature and the conference of 6 June 1944, where regulations for the application of lynching were discussed.
His counsel, who labored under difficulties, was unable to refute this evidence. In the face of these documents which bore Bormann's signature it was difficult to see how he could do so even were the defendant present. Counsel argued that Bormann was dead and that the Tribunal should not avail itself of Article 12 of the Charter which gave it the right to take proceedings in absentia. But the evidence of death was not conclusive, and the Tribunal determined to try him in absentia. If Bormann was not dead and was later apprehended, the Control Council for Germany may, under Article 29 of the Charter, consider any facts i11 mitigation, and alter or reduce his sentence, if deemed proper.
The Tribunal found that Bormann was not guilty on count one, but was guilty on counts three and four. Martin Bormann, only 45 years old at the time of Germany's defeat, devoted his entire adult life to the Nazi conspiracy. When he joined the Nazi Party at the age of 25 he had already been active for several years in conspiratorial and terroristic organizations working secretly to prepare Germany for war, and had spent one year in jail for his participation in a political murder. Bormann became jointly responsible for the illegal annexation of Allied territories, the enslavement and spoliation of the civilian population in occupied countries, and the planned persecution and extermination of the populations in Eastern territories especially the Jews. Martin Bormann, who was never located and was rumored to be dead, was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death.
Bormann was so long unknown that when the victorious Allies began their hunt for the Nazi leaders, they had only a single photo of him. The victorious allies strongly suspected that the Swiss were hoarding, either in their vaults at home or in frozen accounts in the United States, large amounts of foreign exchange which the Germans could at any time use to finance a third world war. The fourth Reich remained an allied nightmare, especially since Martin Bormann and other leading Nazis had disappeared. At that stage even Hitler's death was still a source of some speculation. Switzerland received much more German assets, especially stolen gold, than it admitted.
Hugh Trevor-Roper, in his own landmark 1947 study, "The Last Days of Hitler" arrived at the conclusion that Bormann died in the failed attempt to escape Berlin in May, 1945. But Bormann continued to be "seen" in various parts of the world, from Italian monasteries to jungles in the Amazon. The discovery of actual Nazi fugitives like Adolf Eichmann only fueled the speculation that somehow the Reichslieter had survived.
Hungarian-born US Author Ladislas Farago argued in Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich that contended that the missing murderer was alive and living as a prosperous businessman in Latin America. Bormann, he said, left the Führerbunker for safer refuge in another nearby bunker that had been prepared by Nazi Executioner Adolf Eichmann. According to Farago, Bormann later used clerical clothes supplied by an Austrian bishop to reach Bavaria, then moved on to Northern Italy, awaiting a chance to flee to Argentina where he had stored a fortune in currency, precious stones and gold. Bormann, said Farago, had consigned the hoard to Argentina by U-boat before the war ended. The fugitive Nazi supposedly finally reached Argentina in 1948 through the assistance of Eva Perón.
Probably the most lurid version was that by Paul Manning, who argued that "Anticipating the defeat of the Third Reich, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann set up 750 corporations in neutral countries, to receive the liquid wealth of Germany in addition to patents and other proprietary industrial information. ... Bormann successfully fled Europe for South America and administered a "Reich in Exile" in the years following the war. ... One banker quoted by Manning termed the Bormann Organization, the "world's most important accumulation of money power under one control in history". Controlling Germany's major corporations, the Federal Republic itself and much of Latin America, the Bormann Organization also maintained a formidable circle of influence in the United States."
Contrary to statements of an eye-witness who reported that Martin Bormann, the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, died on 2 May 1945 in Berlin, rumors persisted over the years that he had escaped from Germany after World War II. In 1972, skeletal remains were found during construction work, and by investigating the teeth and the bones experts concluded that they were from Bormann. Nevertheless, new rumors arose and in order to end this speculation at team from the Institute of Legal Medicine, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany was commissioned to identify the skeletal remains by mitochondrial DNA analysis. The comparison of the sequence of HV1 and HV2 from the skeletal remains and a living maternal relative of Martin Bormann revealed no differences and this sequence was not found in 1,500 Caucasoid reference sequences. Based on this investigation, the team supported the hypothesis that the skeletal remains were those of Martin Bormann.
Dental records prepared by Martin Bormann's dentist Dr Hugo Blaschke in 1945 were examined in the Captured Military Record Branch of the US National Archives in 1972 and compared with the direct evidence from examination of skeletal remains unearthed in Berlin in 1972 at a site next to Lehrter RR station where Bormann was known to have been seen alive for the last time on May 2, 1945. There was adequate qualitative and quantitative concurrence between all available antemortem and postmortem dental data to ascertain that the forensic identification of Martin Bormann can be considered established.
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