During the next two days, my conversations with Bormann naturally revolved around the post-war situation in Germany. At this stage, he was not prepared to discuss the fate of Hitler but was only too willing to talk about the probable fate of other Nazi leaders, then awaiting trial at Nürnberg.
He happily prophesied, “These people will soon be paid for the high treason they committed.”
He was particularly bitter against his former arch enemy at Hitler’s court, Hermann Göring (photo right). “That pot-bellied swine was the worst person Hitler could possibly have chosen to run the Luftwaffe.” he declared.
Ribbentrop too (photo left), he castigated, as the man responsible for Germany’s premature declaration of war;
“He may have been a good ambassador; which I doubt - but he should never have been made Minister for Foreign Affairs.”
These two men, Bormann claimed, pushed Hitler into a war for which Germany was neither economically nor militarily prepared. Göring, he said, had given Hitler a completely false impression regarding Germany’s preparedness for total war in 1930 - 1939.
“No power in Europe can fight us in the air.” Bormann claimed Göring had told Hitler. And Hitler believed him.
“For his part, Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister had done an unforgivable thing.” Bormann went on, “in failing to report truthfully and accurately to Hitler the character, morale, feelings and strength of Britain and her Empire when he returned from his last pre-war visit to London.”
“Hitler proved extremely wise in many of his decisions.” Bormann explained to me. “It was a pity he could not have been more wise in his choice of advisors.”
I never heard Bormann comment once on either Göring or Ribbentrop without he accompanied such comment with an insult.
EDITOR NOTE – The son of Joachim von Ribbentrop, tank commander RUDOLF von RIBBENTROP (4189-1995) was a Member of Sharkhunters.
Bormann stayed with me in Madrid until January 6th. On that morning, we left in my new Chrysler car for the eight-hour drive down to Condor Castle. It looked bleak and foreboding in the thin winter sunshine and the half-dozen white stone cottages nestling below its walls seemed deserted as we slowed to a stop outside the main entrance of the castle.
This place had been used during the war as an espionage center and the men living in the cottages had all worked for the Nazi regime at some stage of the war. The castle was built so as to command a perfect view of both the coastal plain and the sea, and was therefore an ideal hideout for a fugitive like Bormann. One room in the west tower had been roughly furnished and the glassless windows boarded up in preparation for Bormann’s visit. Macario had been expecting us and approached in the doorway of his cottage as we left the car. He was then about 55 years old and dressed as he was in blue jersey, canvas trousers and sandals, he resembled the typical Spanish fisherman.
He greeted us briefly and without ceremony. We were just two more clients in the long list of faceless men who had passed this way. He led us through twelve foot high heavy oak doors of the castle and, holding a hurricane lamp above his head, ushered us towards Bormann’s quarters less than a stone’s throw from the main gate. We clambered up a short flight of very steep stone steps skirting the west tower and ducked through a narrow opening on our left. A heavy drape of sacking screened the doorway. Macario pulled it aside.
“It’s probably not the best room you’ve ever had - but there are few safer.”
Macario chirped, setting the hurricane lamp down on a flat-topped writing desk against the crudely hewn stone wall. An iron framed cot had been pushed into one corner and a pair of straight-backed wooden chairs and a small chest of drawers completed the furnishings. Instead of a carpet, a two-inch layer of fine white sand covered the stone floor.
Bormann seemed satisfied - at least he made no complaint about his Spartan hideaway. But he curtly rapped out an order in German. Macario scuttled away and reappeared a few minutes later with a basked of food and wine. I did not stay to join him in his meal, but bade him good night and set out on the return trip to Madrid.
I received no word of Bormann for three months and long before this I had accepted that my part in this drama was ended. Then, on May 1, Felipe turned up again at my house. Once again he brought a message and once again, it dealt with the escape of Martin Bormann. As usual, the message was brief and to the point. Herr Fleischmann would embark from Villagarcia - a fishing town on the north-west Gallegan coast of Spain, on May 7th. And that I would be accompanying him.
Bormann was to leave and I would accompany him - but to where?
But to where? There was no hint as to our final destination. I only knew that I would be getting further instructions from our agent in Villagarcia.
On the morning of May 3rd, 1946 I said good-bye to my wife, Conception. I told her I might be away from home for several weeks or perhaps months. I drove down to Condor in the Chrysler, urging the big car as fast as I could over the rough roads, for I was anxious to find out from Bormann where our journey would end.
He was waiting impatiently for me pacing up and down the cobbled courtyard below his room. He shook me warmly by the hand and greeted me in Spanish. He had not wasted his three months in Denia and had almost perfected the language, and looked a good deal fitter. I was unsure how to address him, but I decided to keep up the pretense of his pseudonym.
“Herr Fleischmann, it is good to see you again. I trust your stay at Condor has not been difficult.”
Bormann grimaced. “I would not say difficult, Señor Gomez. But nevertheless, I am not unhappy at the thought of leaving.”
Bormann had spoken to no one but Macario in those three months. He had not left the castle grounds, but at least his surroundings were beautiful. Acres and acres of rose gardens and lawns lay inside the castle walls. In this environment and under the warm Mediterranean sun, Martin Bormann had grown fitter, stronger and more confident. He was obviously excited at the prospect of action. The last twelve weeks had been spent in thinking and planning for the future and rebuilding of the Nazi Party. Now the time had come to translate those thoughts into deeds. He was in such good spirits that he sent Macario for a bottle of good Spanish wine and insisted that the faithful agent join us in a toast.
It was a bizarre scene. We stood, our shadows flickering in the candlelight against the bare stone walls. Bormann sloshed wine into three tumblers. He handed us our drinks and pulled himself rigidly to attention. He raised his glass.
“Gentlemen, we drink to the National Socialist Party and to its leader. Heil Hitler.”
“Heil Hitler.” We echoed and I felt a tingle of excitement rippling through my body. Could it be then that the Führer really was still alive? Bormann butted in on my thoughts.
“Come along, we must rest.” He said. “You and I, Gomez, have many miles to travel.”
Macario and I left Bormann standing alone in his cell-like chamber, and picked our way along the overgrown path to Macario’s cottage. I dreamed that night a vivid picture of the Berlin bunker. And I heard again the voice of Adolf Hitler:
“Where goes this man without a motive?”
I was awoken at dawn to find Bormann dressed and waiting. After a hasty meal of bread, freshly landed langostino, washed down by mugs of hot, sweet, black coffee, Macario had prepared a satchel of food and a bottle of cognac to take with us. Bormann and I shook hands briefly with the man, and climbed into the Chrysler. We nosed out of the little town, the rising sun at our backs, on the first leg of our eight hundred mile journey across Spain. Bormann, dressed in a cheap blue suit and white cotton shirt, sat unspeaking at my side as we sped along the coast road towards Granada. Our only stopping points that day were Granada and Seville, and then only long enough to replenish our fuel tank. I deliberately chose small roadside filling stations where there was no risk of Bormann being recognized. We ate as I drove. Bormann handing me the cognac bottle from time to time. His bubbling good humor of the previous night had been replaced by his usual taciturn demeanor.
I had chosen a round-about route deliberately so as to avoid the bigger cities, and our first overnight stop was in the small market town of Merida, near the Portuguese border. We did not travel on passports and at the quiet hotel I had picked out I registered in my own name Angel de Velasco, showing my identity card and registering Bormann as Herr Fleischmann. I was paying the bill and the sleepy concierge did not bother Bormann for his papers. Our second night was spent in Ponferrada, barely a hundred and twenty five miles from our destination - Villagarcia.
But those hundred and twenty five miles - the last lap - took us the whole of the following day to cover. The road, an ill-made up potholed track, zig-zagged wildly across a chain of mountains and I arrived at Villagarcia exhausted. I drove directly to the house of one of my agents, a man named Martinez, who made us welcome. He was a genuine fisherman and greeted us wearing the traditional calf length canvas trousers, a blue seaman’s jersey and wooden clogs. Inside the house was poor but clean, and Martinez had prepared a supper.
Bormann and I ate ravenously and while we were still eating, Martinez brought in his son, who he said would be going with us in their fishing boat the following morning. Martinez had another envelope for me, but he said:
“I have been given strict orders not to hand this envelope to you before you are embarked.”
I protested. “Why not now? I insist you hand it over.” Then I turned to Bormann. “I am tired of this guessing game. I want to know where we are going.”
Bormann remained calm in the face of this outburst.
“My friend, even I do not know our exact destination. The organization which is arranging our transport is a highly efficient one - as you yourself must know. I need not remind you of the need for the strictest security. I have left the organization in the hands of trusted men. Let us not ask questions. Soon enough, you will know.”
This gentle reprimand brought me back to my senses.
“Of course; I understand.” I said to Bormann.
And to Martinez, “Of course you must carry out your orders. I apologize for my rudeness.”
Bormann and I smoked a last cigarette before climbing the rickety stairs to a room where two single beds had been prepared for us. I was asleep even as my head hit the pillow.
It was still dark when Martinez shook my shoulder roughly. “Señor, it is time to go.” He whispered, and I heard Bormann grunt sleepily.
We dressed by the light of a paraffin lamp and carrying a suitcase each, the former Nazi Party Chancellor and myself followed the old fisherman out of the house and down to the harbor.
In the darkness of a moonless night I could make out a dilapidated old fishing boat rocking unsteadily at its moorings. A stiff wind had risen and I could hear the crash of heavy breakers against the shore. Bormann was horrified.
“Mein Gott!” He exclaimed. “Don’t tell me we have to make our journey in this thing. It will sink before it leaves harbor.”
The old fisherman told him not to worry, and helped us aboard the aged craft, of which he was obviously but unjustifiably proud. I took a last look around before following Bormann aboard. I had made arrangements for my car to be driven back to Madrid and had given the driver a brief message for my wife, telling her that I might be away longer than I had at first believed.
Neither Bormann nor myself wore overcoats and we shivered, hurrying into the comparative warmth of the boat’s main cabin. The craft had a crew of five and to an observer, it would seem that we were going on a normal nights fishing. Martinez’s boat was a forty-five footer, propelled by a sluggish diesel engine. But despite Bormann’s sarcastic comments and concern, she plowed a steady path through the white-topped waves toward the open sea.
We had come about two miles from the coast when Martinez slowed the engine and gave the order for the sea anchor to be dropped. He shouted to one of his seamen to keep a sharp lookout for any other shipping in the area, and we settled down to wait in silence. I noticed the lights of other boats in the distance and for the first time Bormann became agitated. But Martinez assured us that they were the lights of other fishing boats and were more than a mile away.
The sea was getting rougher, but the weather-beaten old fisherman was quite unconcerned by the nauseating roll of his battered tub. It was then that Martinez produced a bulky package from a pocket of his coat.
“This is the package for which you have been waiting, Señor.”
He handed the packet to me. I wanted to open it then and there, but Bormann told me,
“No, wait until we get on board our next craft.”
We had both known that there must be another boat waiting for us. Outside, a seaman shouted something and Martinez suddenly stood up and said, “Alright. It is time you were going.”
On deck, I could see no sign of another ship, but two seamen were waiting to assist us over the side. I went to the rail and what I saw took my breath away. Bumping gently against the fishing boat’s side was a rubber dinghy manned by two sailors wearing Kriegsmarine uniforms!
They gave a military salute as we lowered ourselves into the dinghy, and Bormann returned their salute. We shouted a farewell to Martinez, and the two sailors cast us loose and began paddling away from the boat. The yellow dinghy tossed violently on the waves and the sailors cursed their luck in German. Bormann and I still had our eyes fixed for some sign of an awaiting vessel. But there was nothing.
Then with incredible suddenness, the sea immediately in front of us began to boil, and from the foaming waves rose the unmistakable shape of a submarine lifting itself violently from the depths. The sea cascaded from its decks and had it not been for the seamanship of the two sailors, we should have capsized. Even so, we were forced to bail frantically.
Moments later we were scrambling over the wet curved steel deck and hauling ourselves up the slippery metal ladder that stretched to the lip of the conning tower. Bormann and I paused a moment on the narrow gangway circling the open hatch, from which came the pungent smell of diesel fuel. The U-Boat Commander, who had been waiting on the conning tower, had disappeared down below, leaving Bormann and I alone in the slowly gathering dawn. We caught a glimpse of the fishing boat heading back towards Spain.
Bormann gazed thoughtfully towards the coast and spoke softly as if voicing his thoughts to himself. “Europe will see me again.” He murmured, “leading a new and more powerful Germany.”
Then he turned abruptly and lowered himself into the bowels of the U-Boat. I followed him down the narrow ladder and the two seamen, having stowed the dinghy, came after me, snapping the clips of the watertight hatch behind them. Bormann faced the U-Boat Commander across the narrow deck and together they saluted.
Then the U-Boat Commander, in full naval uniform with an IRON CROSS glittering on his tunic breast, thrust out his arms and greeted Bormann in a firm embrace. He turned to me, extending a powerful hand and clicked his heels; “Captain Karl Jui” he announced formally and gave a slight bow. He was, I suppose, no older than thirty five and although still a handsome man, his hair was prematurely white. He was tall and arrogant, his height being emphasized in the cramped confines of the U-Boat’s control room.
EDITOR NOTE – Obviously not his real name.
While Captain Jui introduced his First Officer, ship’s doctor and other officers to Bormann and myself, I noticed around me the crew alert at their diving stations, awaiting the order from Jui to submerge. They all wore white jerseys as did the steward who led Bormann and myself along a steel gangway towards the boat’s bow.
As I stepped through a watertight door leading forward, I felt the boat surge and the deck ahead tilt downwards. We were going under, and I was embarking on the most fascinating voyage of my life. I glanced at my watch. It was 5:10am the morning of May 7th 1946. Exactly a year to the day after Germany surrendered unconditionally to the victorious Allies, I found myself in a German U-Boat diving beneath the waves of the Atlantic.
Apart from myself, there was only one other civilian on board this fully equipped and fully provisioned warship, the U-Boat under command of Captain Karl Jui. That other man was Martin Bormann, the most hunted fugitive of the Third Reich, the man around whom a storm of speculation had long raged. We were on our way to an unknown destination where Bormann planned the renaissance of the Nazi Party - a new Nazism which would conquer not Europe, but the indeed the world.
They had picked us up off the coast of Spain and now under full wartime conditions were thrusting its way on a three thousand mile journey beneath the Atlantic. One of the crew in the uniform of the Kriegsmarine led Martin Bormann and myself to a small cabin in the bows of the U-Boat. In this cramped steel box, Bormann and I were to share eighteen long days together. And here he laid before me his plans, plans he had prepared in the last months of the war, to ensure the continuance of the Nazi creed.
Captain Jui appeared at the door of our cabin as soon as the seaman had left. Bormann went to the door and they talked for a minute or two in German. I could not catch what they said but as Jui shut the door and left us alone, Bormann remarked:
“From now on Angel, we consider ourselves Argentine subjects.”
Only then, three months after I had been instructed to help Bormann out of Europe, did I have revealed to me our final destination. Then Bormann referred to the bulky package of papers which had been handed to me by another agent as we left Spain.
“I think that now is the time to open the envelope.” He said. “If I am not mistaken, it will contain certain instructions for our Captain.”
I took the packet from my coat and laid it on the table. I examined it carefully. It was in a plain envelope - not the usual kind used by the Nazi Intelligence Service. I slit it open without further ado. Had it been the special type of envelope I had received so many times before, doing this would have rendered any message unreadable.
First I withdrew a single sheet of paper. On it were instructions typed in Spanish referring to Martin Fleischmann, the name Bormann used during his escape. I was to instruct him in the way of life, the political situations and the language of those South American countries known personally to me. I was to pay particular attention to life in the Argentine. From the envelope I also took out two Argentine passports. One was for Bormann in the name of Luis Oleaga; the other in the name of Adian Espana was for me
Although the passports seemed genuine enough - they were issued by the Argentine Consul in San Sebastian - there was another typewritten note attached to the inside page of mine saying that these passports were intended for use in emergency only and that the people who would meet us in Argentina would supply us with more authentic papers when we arrived. The message was signed ‘ZAPATO’. I knew then that it had come from Colonel SS Wagner, former Chief of SS Intelligence in the Berlin Führerbunker.
The last item in the packet was another sheet of white paper containing a lengthy message written in numbered code. I could not decipher it. I handed it to Bormann and he simply shrugged and said,
“Give it to the Captain.”
The message in fact was Jui’s sailing orders. Bormann and I sat down to study our documents and take stock of our surroundings. There were two bunks in the cabin bracketed against the steel bulkhead to the right of the door, and placed one above the other. Over these there were shelves where we could put our only luggage; two small suitcases. Opposite the door was a table that folded back against the bulkhead when not in use. A single unshaded bulb glowed continuously from a bracket in the ceiling, and there was a small lamp screwed to a shelf above the table. The bunks themselves were firm but comfortable - each prepared with crisp, white sheets and pillow cases, and had a reading lamp above. The steel deck had a piece of threadbare carpet in the center of the floor. Our washing facilities comprised a small aluminum hand basin fixed to the gangway bulkhead outside our cabin. Two steel chairs completed the furnishings.
We had been in the cabin for something like two hours when I sensed the U-Boat tilting its nose upwards. Bormann and I glanced at each other wondering, but our unspoken query was answered almost immediately by Captain Jui who knocked on our door and entered briskly.
“Gentlemen, we have surfaced. We are just off the coast of Portugal. We shall be here for less than an hour to take on essential supplies.”
Curious, I followed Captain Jui back to the U-Boat’s operations deck and stood watching while two sailors opened the conning tower hatch and disappeared out of sight above us. A third seaman secured the hatch behind them and Jui rasped an order:
“Take her down three fathoms.”
I heard the sound of ballast tanks filling, and then silence. By this time, Bormann had joined us on the bridge and we watched while Captain Jui made a 360º sweep with his periscope. Apparently satisfied, the captain came over to join us.
“Everything’s all right - but we must wait.”
He produced a chess board and pieces. He and Martin Bormann settled down to a game.
From time to time, Captain Jui excused himself to take a brief glance through the periscope. About an hour after the two seamen had left, Jui gave the order to surface. I felt a blast of fresh air as the conning tower hatch was opened and shortly afterwards the two men stumbled down the steps of the ladder, each carrying a small box about the size of a cigar box. I guessed they must have been extremely heavy for the men had difficulty carrying them down. The boxes were stacked on the deck and they returned for another load. All together, nineteen of these boxes were brought down. I suspected that they carried gold. But if Bormann knew, he was not saying and my suspicion was never confirmed. After these boxes, two larger wooden crates were lowered down and I was told they contained food.
Fifteen minutes later, we were submerged again and life on board the boat settled down for our eighteen day non-stop run across the Atlantic. For most of the time Bormann and I were closeted together in our cabin, occasionally speaking with a member of the crew, but generally conversing only between ourselves.
We were served excellent food in our cabin including crispbread, freshly baked on board twice a week. One of the marines (sailors) was detailed to wait on us. Occasionally, Captain Jui himself joined us for a meal, but he soon wearied of this, as it meant him standing to eat. There were only two places at our table.
Jui was a veteran U-Boat man with all the arrogance that life and death command gave these wartime heroes. Twice I was to cross swords with him. The first time was a trivial incident and occurred during my second day aboard. I had wandered on to the bridge, but was rudely ordered back to my quarters when Jui discovered me in conversation with one of his officers, and accused me of distracting the man from his duty. Upon my return to our cabin Bormann sensed my ruffled feelings and I told him what had happened.
“Don’t take it too seriously. You must remember that on this boat we are his guests. Jui is in command and we must accept what he says and try not to antagonize him.”
I resolved to put the incident out of my mind.
The second time I quarreled with Captain Jui was a very much more serious affair, but it happened towards the end of our voyage and I shall tell you of it later.