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Posted Friday, March 30, 2007

He recognises me, I recognise him; neither of us speaks to the other. Eyelashes are left unbatted. This is England, after all.

Himmler death telegram

March 29, 2007 (Thursday)
London (England)

click for originIN the mail I find the original telegram that the Intelligence officer at British Second Army Headquarters sent to his commanding general, M. C. Dempsey, announcing the "suicide" of Heinrich Himmler. Its owner, a private collector in Australia, has sent it to me. The bits of the puzzle are slowly coming together.

At 6 pm I am at the Kew home of Hugo Haig-Thomas, a researcher who has done fine work for me in the Himmler files held at the Public Record Office. He tells me he is puzzled to find himself credited in the latest Williams biography on Reinhard Heydrich, by an author for whom he has never worked.

He has a friend, Colin Macmillan, whose father was in the Scots 51st Highland Division in World War II, and has two albums of post-1945 photographs. One of them is a 1945 copy photograph taken by the proprietor of a Hamburg Foto Werkstatt, Hans Hümpel, of the May 22, 1945 British army report on the arrest of "Heinrich Hizinger" (sic) -- the name adopted by Himmler as he tried to break through British lines.

click to enlargeIt appears that somebody took a plate-camera photograph of the document; the glass plate cracked, and a print made from that has been re-photographed.

Colin says his father bought a print at a time when such bootleg prints were being sold cheaply around the British army in northern Germany. It is an interesting document, and I will compare it with the original in the British archives to see if there are differences.

Its date, May 22, is odd: Himmler's actual death was one day later. Where did he spend those last two days?

The whole mystery interests me deeply. An American in Idaho tells me in an email this morning that he has ninety-two original photographs showing Himmler and Hitler, including Himmler's death.

"I have one photo of Himmler taken at his death site. It is similar in layout to the sketches done in the Illustrated London News in 1945. It shows Himmler on his back with the strings strung near the body, as seen in the news paper, pencil sketch (I quess the strings were to keep people from disturbing the body), the eye glasses had been placed back on his face, as seen in the pencil sketch as well. Bruises are obvious on his lips, so some one did try to pry open his mouth."

Hitler jokes, Himmler smiles

Still opening mail, I find an original photograph of Adolf Hitler and Himmler, sent by veteran document hunter Charles Snyder [ website]. The picture is taken from behind Hitler as he addresses the Nazi Old Guard in a Munich beerhall on November 9, 1943, a month after Himmler's ominous speech at Posen. Hitler has just cracked a joke, and the Reichsführer (center front row) is applauding appreciatively, his hands in a blur.


Lord ArcherI INVITE A., my barrister friend, to dine at an Italian restaurant near my hotel in Belgravia. The waiter seats us by the window.

At the table next to ours I notice Lord Archer, left, deep in furrowed-brow discussion with a gentleman of swarthy countenance. He recognises me, I recognise him; neither of us speaks to the other. Eyelashes are left unbatted. This is England, after all.

Archer was sent to a British prison in 2001 for four years for telling porkies in the High Court. I have just come out of an Austrian prison for venturing a true but illegal opinion on history, over seventeen years ago.

Two unrepentant jailbirds, wing to wing: former people's perjurer, and former political prisoner. I know which I prefer.

  [Previous Radical's Diary]

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