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Posted Saturday, February 1, 2003
  Opposite me now sits the Führer's silver cigar box with the logo of the Third Reich on its lid.
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The Spectator

London, February 1, 2003


David Irving comments:

ALL OF THIS is a nice story, and Mr Putzell may well believe it by now. Miss Petronella Wyatt, bless her, certainly does.
   Such are the quirks of human memory. The devil is, as always, in the detail: He gave the Reichsmarschall a cyanide "tablet"? Not so. The glass ampoule containing the amber liquid and its brass "cartridge case" container were standard Nazi issue, and the remnants were found.
   An exhaustive US Army investigation of the Göring suicide filled 200 pages, complete with photographs of the ampoule used. (I wonder why the British Army never did a similar investigation of Heinrich Himmler's "suicide".)
   I obtained access to this (it was in the safe file of the Berlin Document Center, with his last letters, marked Never to be Published) and I revealed the details in my Göring biography many, many years ago. For a while my friend the late Ben Swearingen had the actual brass ampoule container involved.
  As said, it's in the detail: Like that "cigar box" of the Führer. Ahem, a fanatical non-smoker. . . 

The quality of mercy

Petronella Wyatt

I AM sitting on a cream sofa in the evening sunset of Florida. Next to me is the man who killed Hermann Goering -- or rather helped him to kill himself. Some received wisdom says that Goering committed suicide without aid, but this is not the case, as I have just found out. When a young man of about 30, this person beside me gave the Reichmarshal the cyanide pill that saved him from having to undergo the ordeal of the gallows.

The name of this extraordinary man is Ned Putzell. Now 89, he has retired to Naples on the Gulf coast. He is tanned, spare and has laser-bright brown-grey eyes. He is wearing a crisp, white shirt, chequered trousers and large spectacles.

It all began when my host mentioned to me casually that in the apartment upstairs lived the man who gave Goering a cyanide pill. At first I thought he was joshing. But here I am, sipping a Diet Coke and listening to this fantastic tale.

Mr Putzell was born in Louisiana. He attended Harvard Law School and eventually ended up working for the law firm of a man called Donovan. This was no ordinary Donovan, but the great American hero of the first world war. Mr Putzell, leaning forward conspiratorially, told me that Donovan was a far greater soldier than MacArthur, the latter a name far better known to English ears.

During the 1914-18 war, Donovan was stationed in northern France, fighting in the trenches. MacArthur was leading the regiment next to him, geographically. When the Germans attacked, it is a little-known fact that MacArthur turned on his heels. Donovan, however, stood his ground, won and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour. Americans, it seems, do not appear to know of MacArthur's behaviour on this occasion.

'Through Donovan, I came to examine Goering during the preparations for the Nuremberg trials,' Putzell told me. 'A lot of high-ranking Americans believed his heart had not really been in the Nazi cause. Before Hitler killed himself, Goering was already giving vital information to us which I passed on to the president.'

Roosevelt had decided a while before that the United States required a proper espionage system. This was started by Donovan and became known as the OSS -- the Office of Strategic Services. Donovan was chosen to be one of the co-prosecutors at Nuremberg and took Putzell with him as his aide. Other high-ranking Nazis on trial were Albert Speer, Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg and Julius Streicher.


WHAT was Goering like? I asked Putzell. 'Oh, he could be very charming indeed.' This was a view shared by Hartley Shawcross on the British side, who recollects that Goering repeatedly winked at him during examination. 'Then, again, he might have been acting,' Putzell continues.

'When I questioned Goering, the plan was to find out whether he had been a truly dedicated Nazi. I don't think he was. Hitler had suspected him of disloyalty and other Germans told us that Goering was not a strong supporter.'

But he was condemned, nonetheless, I retorted. Putzell nods, his glasses sliding towards the middle of his aquiline and rather handsome nose.

'Yes, but Donovan secretly decided, with the agreement of the British contingent, to let him die by cyanide. Goering had been very co-operative with us and he genuinely did seem deserving of some sort of mercy.'

How did they get hold of the cyanide? I was surprised by the answer. 'Everyone in active service in the OSS was given a cyanide pill in case they were captured by the Germans and tortured. So we had quite a few on us.'

Putzell and a colleague handed one tablet to Goering (top right, in dock at Nuremberg). How did he react? Putzell laughs gutturally. 'I think he was glad to have it. It was better than being hanged.' Much better as it turned out. Some of the hangings were botched horribly.

Putzell and his wife Dorothy, a pristine and smart blonde, now live in Naples permanently. Most English people believe that the west coast of Florida is quiet and uneventful, full of purblind retired bankers and brokers. Full of men and women whose reminiscences are solely about dosh. But this is not the case.

Consider my host: his division was one of the first into house beneath the Eagle's Nest. Opposite me now sits the Führer's silver cigar box with the logo of the Third Reich on its lid. Then, in a drawer in the next room, there is an exquisite lacquered box given to Hitler by the Emperor of Japan. These mementoes of the second world war are unique. So is Mr Putzell.


Irish Taxing Master takes London court action over fake Göring dagger, items of Nazi memorabilia

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Göring: A Biography (1987)
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