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Bilderberg | Reports | Origins | Bernhard | Anti-Jewish?
Marilyn, Hitler and Me
The memoirs of Milton Shulman
Andre Deutsch (1998)
ISBN 0 233 99408 4
You've probably come across the notion, which has gained credibility since the
2012 publication of Simon Dunstan's 'Grey Wolf', that Adolf Hitler survived the
Berlin bunker and lived out most of the rest of his life in Argentina. The, what
I believe is Grey Wolf's fabricated stab at perverting history has been followed
by Jerome Corsi's Hunting Hitler (2014) and Harry Cooper's 'Hitler in Argentina'
(2014) spoilers. It was MI6's Hugh Trevor-Roper who began to form today's
'historical' impressions about the end of the top of the Nazi heirarchy as the
Red Army closed in on Berlin at the end of April 1945, in his 1947 book The Last
Days of Hitler.
As a Theosophy/Thule society trained godless idealist Hitler literally had nothing to live for as the final edifices of his dream empire crumbled around him. But his Gauleiter, treasurer, private secretary Martin Bormann, who'd controlled promotion within the Nazi party and access to Hitler since Rudolf Hess's flight to Scotland just days before the German army launched its surprise attack, Barbarossa, on Soviet Russia, was another story. Since Hitler's post D-Day 'Nero Decree' which demanded a scorched earth policy Bormann had been in a difficult position. The German industrialists he represented, particularly via his Swiss banking contacts, had every intention of continuing their empires after the war and that meant leaving as much industrial infrastructure, which included bridges, factories, mines etc. as intact as possible.
The impetus for overriding the Nero Decree came from the 10th August 1944 Maison Rouge Hotel, Red House Meeting in Strasbourg, which Bormann organised, but didn't attend in person. Here, all Germany's industrialist met at Strasbourg's Red House Hotel in the morning to agree terms for consolidating their wealth and continuing after the war, after lunch, most businessmen were sent home leaving just those concerned with the most sensitive arms manufacturing and banking interests. Money was to be squirreled away, mostly in Switzerland, and everything was prepared for Germany industry to survive the war. So it was in August 1944 that Bormann began altering Hitler's orders, making it clear that Germany intended to survive the war but that people better not tell the fanatical Fuhrer.
Former aide de camp to General Haig in WWI and head of economic warfare between the wars, Desmond Morton was to Churchill what Bormann was to Hitler, and the two private secretaries were in touch as the war closed. Bormann was a necessary account signatory who could relaese funds in Swiss bank accounts and all sorts of stolen goodies, safety deposit boxes. He was the one the Allies wanted, the Swiss banks demanded his signature, and he was the one who could offer unimagined riches to whoever could offer him safe passage. Both Morton and Bormann agreed they needed to fake Bormann's death to kill off post-war questions about what had happened to the Nazis' looted billions.
So there were two reasons why Operation Market Garden had to be sabotaged, firstly to allow the Nazis to get as much of the wealth they'd taken from all the vaults of Europe as possible out and to safe-havens like Argentina and Switzerland, secondly to allow the Red Army to do the hard slog to Berlin and take the bulk of the casualties in the closing months of the war. And, in my opinion, it was the 'in joke' of the Oosterbeek massacre in September 1944 near Arnhem that led to the spawning there of the Bilderberg meetings in 1954, after the massacre of the British airborne forces in the 'witches cauldron' in the same spot, a decade before.
So, back to the books about the bunker, before the recent spate of spoilers, in 1998, it was a book called The Hunt For Martin Bormann by Charles Whiting that attempted to prove that Bormann had been killed escaping the Berlin bunker. As this extract explains, the book was timed to come out just as the dark forces trying to block the publication of Churchill, Morton and Fleming's commando-spy John-Ainsworth Davis' true account were running out of steam. Vast amounts of time and money have been spent trying to obscure this treacherous dealing between some top allies willing to trade safe passage for a share of the Nazi treasury.
I hope that helps to set the scene for this account from a wonderful journalist and critic, who felt the story of Bormann, and his rescue by a special outfit financed personally by King George VI, was important enough to take up the longest chapter of his memoirs.
Am instructed to find Martin Bormann or go to the Palladium...40 years on, Creighton's mysterious claims unfold... Nazi gold and Ian Fleming's plot... Bormann dead or a double?.. Convincing publishers... Doubt and death threats... The conspiracy theory
(i) Involved in the mystery of Nazi Gold
The Fuhrer and his cohorts re-entered my life over 40 years later when I received a mysterious letter in response to an article I had written about my first day at the Evening Standard, back in 1947. On that day, the Standard's editor, Herbert Gunn, told me that my initial assignment, because I was a German army expert and had just written Defeat in the west, was to go to Berlin and find Martin Bormann. Startled by such a task, I protested, 'But Bormann is dead. I don't think it would be much of a story.'
'Are you sure he's dead?' persisted Gunn. '1 thought there was considerable doubt about that.'
'Yes,' I said. 'Some historians don't believe the evidence, but it would take some time to discover anything fresh.'
'About three or four weeks at least. And it would be rather expensive with probably nothing new to show for it.'
Gunn pondered my reply for a few minutes.
'Alright,' he said. 'If you don't think you can find Martin Bormann will you go to the Palladium and interview Chico Marx?'
Like a barrister who one day will sue a tabloid for libel and soon after defend another tabloid for a similar sort of libel, the journalist's briefs are the idiosyncratic demands of his editor. News, the lifeblood of a newspaper, has no orderly agenda. The dominant criterion of a journalist's work is readability; chronology is far less important.
In August 1989, complying with the imperative of topicality that is expected to dominate every weekly newspaper column, I used the peg of the anniversary of the defeat of Japan to write about the last days of Hitler. I retold my first day's experience on the Evening Standard when I was told to go to Berlin and find Martin Bormann. The headline read 'Find Bormann? But he's dead. . .'
My life has had many curious twists but none so strange as the Consequences of that innocuous headline on the next eight years of my career. The following day I received a letter from Christopher Creighton. The name meant nothing to me, although he assured me we had met some years before because of my friendship with his sister, a very attractive girl who was studying to become an opera singer. She gave up those aspirations when she married the owner of a small country inn and helped him run it. I had not seen her for many years when I heard that she had unexpectedly died after a brief illness.
Creighton, knowing my background in Intelligence, thought I might be more interested in Bormann than was indicated in my column. Did I want to know how he and Ian Fleming got him out? To establish his credentials as someone knowledgeable about Intelligence and Security matters, he told me he was the author of The Paladin, a novel written with Brian Garfield, which was based upon his true operations as a boy spy in 1940 and '41. The book was a great success, having made the best-seller lists in Britain and America, sold over 100,000 copies and been serialized in the Daily Express.
My first inclination was to treat the letter as one of those crank missives, usually written in red or purple ink, that often plague journalists and are dealt with by a quick toss into the nearest wastepaper basket. But because I had been extremely fond of his sister - and I was convinced that his introductory credentials were genuine - I felt I ought to put him off with a courteous reply. I asked Angus McGill, the paper's most experienced feature writer, for some advice about how to handle this strange note and, to my surprise, he was intrigued by its contents. He urged me not to dismiss Creighton and to find out more about him. I decided to give him a call. It was a decision that was to involve me in an intriguing international mystery whose ramifications - after having been investigated by intelligence experts, historians, academics and journalists - are still bewilderingly unresolved eight years after I first spoke to Christopher Creighton.
I listened with increasing fascination to the startling story Creighton summarized for me on the phone. I was, of course, well aware of the atmosphere of disbelief that existed in Fleet Street about any purported account of yet untold secrets about the final days of Germany's defeat. There had been a gullible market for such tales in the years immediately after the Armistice, but two intricate stories that turned out to be elaborate hoaxes had converted this area of historical speculation into a mendacious minefield that no editor was likely to put a toe into.
The editor of the Daily Express, Stewart Steven, was forced to admit that he had been conned into believing Martin Bormann had been discovered alive in the Argentine. An even more notorious hoax was the forging of documents purporting to be Hitler's War Diaries, which had taken in the Sunday Times as well as other respectable European papers. When Creighton had divulged what appeared to be another incredible Bormann story I told him I was intrigued by his tale but I had a small reputation as a military historian and did not want it to suffer the fate of Hugh Trevor-Roper, the author of The Last Days of Hitler, who supported the authenticity of Hitler's Diaries only to have to make a humiliating confession that he had been thoroughly duped.
After the collapse of the Ardennes offensive, the failure of Hitler's V-I and V-2 secret weapons to wreak any significant havoc against England and the speedy advance of the Russian armies in the East, it was obvious to anyone other than an ardent Nazi fanatic that Germany, had lost the war. By the beginning of 1945, senior Nazi officials and functionaries were already making plans to get as much money as they could out of Germany, and trying to arrange some bolt-hole for themselves and their families in some neutral land, either disguised or not.
Vast amounts of gold, foreign currency and art treasures were being lodged in foreign banks, chiefly in Switzerland. Some of those closest to Hitler - Ribbentrop, Goering, Himmler - were making clandestine approaches to contacts in Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland, Paraguay and the Argentine for a safe haven after the surrender and Hitler's expected assassination or suicide.
They assumed that, even if they were arrested after the war, they might have to face a term in prison after which they could live out their days with the hidden resources they had stashed away. The concept of War Crimes trials and the execution of the defeated leaders was a novel and unthinkable prospect. After Germany's defeat in the First World War political and military leaders like the Kaiser, Hindenburg and Ludendorff had been allowed to become prominent and powerful figures in a vanquished Germany. It was a tradition that the Nazi establishment expected the Allied victors to respect.
Aware of the avalanche of German resources and pillaged treasures leaving the Reich, Churchill was determined to do something about it. One of the many steps taken was to put Naval Commander Ian Lancaster Fleming in charge of an exercise to discover where some of this gold and currency was being hidden and how it could be returned to the Allies when the war was over. He had been the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear-Admiral John Godfrey. In Room 60 in the Admiralty on the 4th January 1945 Fleming met Major Desmond Morton, Churchill's personal security chief and a personal friend since World War I.
Creighton told me that Morton was his godfather. Morton, born in 1891, had served in the First World War and received a bullet in his heart which no operation could remove and remained with him all his life. His bravery was recognized by his awards of a Military Cross, a Croix de Guerre and a mention in despatches. After the war he was seconded to the Foreign Office and In 1930 he set up a body known as the Industrial Intelligence Centre, a front for a super-secret organisation which was privately financed by successive monarchs George V, Edward VIII and George VI.
Although Creighton referred to it as the M Section, he told me that there was no official intelligence operation with that title. One of its earliest activities was to Supply Winston Churchill, then out of office, with Information about German rearmament, which helped alert the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments about Hitler's aggressive intentions.
Creighton described Morton as a tall, athletic man with an authoritative manner and an upper-class accent. He was a friend of Creighton's father, Jack Ainsworth- Davis, who had qualified as a doctor at Cambridge and was a member of the British 4 x 400 metre relay team which won a gold medal at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920. Involved with supporting that team were three undergraduates: Sub-Lieutenant Lord Louis Mountbatten and two of his cousins, the Duke of York (later George VI) and his younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester. These contacts with his father brought the young Creighton, as a boy, to the attention of both Desmond Morton, Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten.
As a surgeon, Jack Ainsworth- Davis had operated on Joachim von Ribbentrop when he was Germany's ambassador to Britain. They were also on social terms. Their friendship had begun when they were at school together in Metz before the First World War. It was there that Creighton's father spent a year studying German. Convinced that war was on the way, Morton could see in the young Creighton's social contacts with Ribbentrop prospects of using him in some clandestine activity when hostilities began. After Creighton's parents divorced, Morton had him enrolled at Ampleforth for a short period and then sent him to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in September, 1939, at the age of fifteen and a half, where he was instructed to call himself by a pseudonym and never be known as John Davis nor John Ainsworth-Davis again.
I learned about this background information many months after I agreed to offer him some advice about the book he was planning about Martin Bormann. His first letters were so startling, giving me a general outline of what he had done, that I could not resist finding out much more about it.
The task Fleming was given when he met both Morton and Churchill early in 1945 was to discover what means the German government and the Nazi Party were using to remove from their territory the billions of pounds of cash, gold, jewellery and art treasures and hide it away in foreign banks and secret caves where it could be recovered when the war was over. Using intelligence resources that had been nurtured before the war, Fleming discovered the names of two Swiss banks where this plundered loot was held in secret numbered accounts. In the course of acquiring this information and transmitting it by wireless to England, a young woman secret agent, very close to Creighton, had been tortured and murdered.
When I first discussed with Creighton how he planned to write this story, he believed it could only be done, even as late as 1989, as 'faction' - a combination of fiction and the truth. Because Creighton was almost paranoic about security, my initial contacts with him were almost comical in their remoteness. I did not meet him personally until well after he had started sending me the first sections of his book which was then called Project X-2.
At first I never wrote to him but telephoned him with any comments I had to make. He has been to my flat a number of times but I have never been to his home, although I have spoken to his wife on many occasions on the phone. At the beginning he stressed that because Operation James Bond - which was later the real code name of Project X-2 - was under the M Section, its existence was never to be made public. In his book OpJB Creighton writes: 'Even at the highest level, only a handful of people outside the M Section should know of the project's existence. It had never been mentioned in any document, except under its naval party assignation, or code number. It never would be mentioned. It had simply never existed, and never would.'
It would be an understatement to say that the details of Creighton's adventure with Ian Fleming and Bormann, if true, provide one of the most daring and amazing stories of the last Great War. Perhaps Otto Skorzeny's rescue of Mussolini from Allied hands, with German parachutists, comes close to the venture in magnitude of audacity.
As Creighton's story unfolded to me in batches of about 2,000 words every fortnight under the pseudonymous title, Project X-2, I learnt that Ian Fleming's first task was to read through the file of the young man whom Morton had recommended to him as a particularly qualified deputy. So weird and secret were the contents of those papers disclosing Creighton's war-time career to date, that the room in which Fleming read them had to have its doors and windows firmly bolted and two of M Section's security officers stationed outside while Fleming perused the official documents.
'Fleming read my record with astonishment,' comments Creighton in OpJB. 'If he himself had not been on the periphery of some of the events described, he would have doubted the account's veracity; but because he had often been involved he knew that the narratives were genuine.
Fleming's second task after agreeing to have Creighton as his operational commander was to fly to Basel in Switzerland where on 11 January 1945, a pre-arranged meeting had been organized with the Swiss Foreign Minister, Ernest Nobs, and two of his colleagues. He carried with him a diplomatic passport, wore civilian clothes and bore a personal letter from Winston Churchill. The letter asked the Swiss minister for help in returning to the Allies the vast wealth that had been deposited in Swiss vaults by the murderers and tyrants of the Nazi hierarchy. The minister's first reaction was to deny any knowledge of any illegal accounts held in Swiss banks by Hitler's despoiling minions.
When Fleming revealed that he knew the names of the banks in which most of this exported money was held, as well as the numbers of the suspected accounts, the Foreign Minister's answer was that it would be a criminal offence for him to disclose such information. Even if he knew it. Swiss banking regulations prevented him from naming the holders of such accounts and their identification could only be revealed if the proper signatories were obtained. But, Fleming pressed on, surely if it were proven that such funds had been illegally expropriated from conquered territories, the Swiss government would agree to have them frozen and investigated as soon as the war was over. The Foreign Minister agreed that if proof could be found that individuals or even explicit companies had been robbed by the Nazis, the banks would be ready to look into their claims; but as far as funds belonging to independent foreign states like Germany were concerned, they had absolute immunity unless the proper signatures for release were produced. They had reached stalemate when Nobs asked what would happen to these monies if they were handed over to the Allies. Fleming had a prepared answer. They would ask the Swiss government to act as trustee of these funds until an international committee had studied the claims made upon them and agreed who were the rightful owners. Any money that could not be traced to its original source would be distributed to peoples most damaged by the war - even Germans and Italians - as a form of reparations.
Although the discussion appeared to have hit a dead-end the minister was strangely insistent that Fleming stay for a few minutes for sandwiches and coffee. Sipping his coffee in a large empty room, Fleming was joined by a young, smartly .dressed woman wearing a raincoat and carrying a briefcase. She indicated that she was a member of the Swiss Intelligence Service and that she had something of interest to show him.
An hour's drive away, they arrived at a small village in a high valley in the Alps. Fleming's observant eye noticed small gun emplacements deployed unobtrusively m the area and innocent-looking chalets hiding large steel doors opening into a side of the mountain.
Fleming was told by his guide that this was a secure vault of the National Bank of Basle carved out of pure rock, and once inside his eyes feasted on an incredible Aladdin's Cave of gold nuggets, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones including Crown jewels from the Hohenzollerns and other royal dynasties of Europe. In huge wooden crates were stacked masterpieces that had been looted from museums and galleries in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, the Ukraine and Luxembourg.
The means by which these art treasures were seized or bought with unstated threats at ludicrously low prices has been meticulously documented in a scholarly work, The Rape of Europa, by Lynn H. Nicholas, in which Martin Bormann, Hitler's private secretary, is pin-pointed as the individual who decided which of this growing art treasure should be seized or purchased after being shown to the Fuhrer. Hitler personally selected the ones to be sent to the town of Linz where he was amassing what he hoped would be the greatest art museum the world had ever seen. These masterpieces were probably destined for Linz.
Fleming, amazed at the vastness of this cornucopia, asked what part of it belonged to Germany. All of it, he was told. On the military airstrip outside Basle, a white envelope was handed over to Fleming by his Swiss companion. He was told the Finance Minister had asked her to give it to him before he flew off. Inside was a single sheet of white paper, bearing one typed line: 'Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei 60508.'
It was at Birdham, a cover name for a Commando training establishment for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines near Portsmouth, that Christopher Creighton assured me the M Section had its operational headquarters. Even before Fleming returned from Switzerland, personnel were already being assembled for the prospective expedition that would be needed to stem the flow of Nazi resources out of the country. It did not take long to learn that number 60508 of the German National Socialist Workers' Party was Martin Bormann.
But how important was he? Amongst the well-known figures that constituted Hitler s Inner circle - Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Ribbentrop, Hess, Keitel - the name of Bormann never made any headlines in the Western press. He was known to be head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and Hitler's personal secretary but in photographs he was always a shadowy figure, listening to or putting documents in front of his Fuhrer to read or sign. A chunky man with a hook nose and a bully-like appearance he exercised his influence with the unobtrusive, unrelenting persistence of a mole. When history's curtain was dropped, Bormann was revealed as probably, next to Hitler, the Nazi Party's most powerful figure.
Reichsleiter Bormann was born on 17 June, 1900, in Saxony, the son of a regimental trumpet player. He saw front line duty in the First World War and became an early member of the anti-Semitic Freikorps, spending a year in prison for complicity in the murder of one of his comrades suspected of being a police spy. Through dedication and diligence he had risen to the rank of Reichsleiter and SS general when Hitler came to power in 1933. He became involved with the responsibility of handling the financial affairs of the Nazi Party when he was made Chief of Staff of Hitler's Deputy, Rudolf Hess. He was also in control of Hitler's personal funds which were immense, largely because of the royalties he was receiving for the publication of Mein Kampf.
When in May, 1941, Hess made his curious and sensational flight to Scotland in a futile attempt to reach a peace settlement with Churchill, Bormann stepped into Hess's shoes and the post closest to the Fuhrer's ear. Although almost universally detested by power-seeking rivals in Hitler's court - Goering, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, Himmler - Bormann rose relentlessly to a position that almost made him indispensable to the Fuhrer. Hitler was not prepared to hear a word against him.
According to Walter Schellenberg, Head of Germany's Secret Service, Hitler had this to say about Bormann: 'I know he is brutal, but what he undertakes he finishes. I can rely absolutely on that. With his ruthlessness and brutality he always sees that my orders are carried out.'
According to Professor H. R. Trevor-Roper, Martin Bormann was 'the Brown Eminence behind the Fuhrer's throne, the most powerful, the least public, and the most mysterious of all the Nazi leaders. He deliberately avoided publicity and his features were unknown to German people. In Hitler's last year Bormann reigned undisputed over the court. He built around the Fuhrer a Chinese wall impenetrable except by his favour. He exercised complete control over the whole structure of the Third Reich.
'As Party Chancellor,' continued Trevor-Roper, 'he controlled the entire Party machine throughout Germany. All the Gaulieters were appointed by him and under his order, all careers within the party were dependent on his favour. His power was enormous and could be compared to the power exercised by Stalin in the last days of Lenin.
It was therefore not surprising that Bormann's presence dominated the last few days and hours of Hitler's life. His name is on Hitler's wedding certificate to Eva Braun and in the Fuhrer's personal testament - written a few hours before his suicide - Bormann, 'my most loyal Party comrade', is appointed as sole executor of Hitler's will 'with full legal authority to make all decisions'. Both the will and the political testament were witnessed by Bormann.
With the knowledge of Bormann's powerful position verified by British Intelligence, Ian Fleming identified his task as a relatively uncomplicated one. Find Bormann, kidnap him, bring him to Britain and have him sign the necessary documents the Swiss banking authorities were demanding to release the German funds in their banks. It was at this stage that Creighton's early association with Ribbentrop as well as his activities in the first three years of the war which had established him as a double spy in the eyes of the Gestapo and Admiral Canaris, the Wehrmacht's head of Intelligence, made him an indispensable part of the plan to bring Bormann to England.
Through Desmond Morton's contacts, there were intimations that Ribbentrop wanted to meet Christopher Creighton. It was at first suspected that the Foreign Minister's aims were part of a German peace feeler. Trying to organize an armistice deal and some security for themselves was already occupying the minds of the top Nazi establishment. It all had to be done without Hitler's knowledge, for the Fuhrer was ready to execute any of his close comrades should he learn of such treasonable activity.
Creighton, untrained in the diplomatic manoeuvring that might be necessary if Ribbentrop was contemplating using him as a negotiating instrument, thought that Ian Fleming should accompany him, not only for his experience in such matters but because he spoke fluent German while Creighton would have relied on Ribbentrop's English for communication. Fleming had already chosen OpJP as the code-name for the operation: looking for an innocuous name that would give no hint of what it was covering up he recalled the author of a classic ornithological work about birds in the West Indies. After the war when he wrote his popular series of thrillers, he recalled the Bormann operation and thought James Bond an appropriate name for his hero because it was a thoroughly neutral and nondescript title to disguise the startling adventures of Agent 007.
Other code names for OpJB were picked from A. A. Milne's children's classic, Winnie the Pooh. Churchill was Tigger; Ian Fleming, Pooh; Desmond Morton, Owl; Bormann, Piglet; Ribbentrop, Roo; Hitler, Rabbit; the SS, Rabbit's friends; Susan Kemp (third in command), Miss Kanga. Admiral Mountbatten alone was not an A. A. Milne character and was named Charlemagne.
At Birdham personnel were being assembled and trained for what was increasingly being recognized as a vital and dangerous expedition. Morton did the recruiting and only accepted young men and women capable of undergoing the most strenuous commando training which would leave them with superior skills in jujitsu, unarmed combat, expertise in the use of knives and hand guns, silent killing and the handling of kayaks and parachute drops. They also had to be able to sustain great pain and physical hardship.
Almost 400 took part in Operation James Bond including highly trained commandos from the navy and marines, a contingent of highly trained Wrens and nearly one hundred German Freedom Fighters, mainly young Jewish men and women who had found asylum in England and were determined to contribute to the destruction of Hitler's Germany.
A large part of OpJB describes in great detail the clandestine and almost bizarre negotiations that had to take place before Martin Bormann would agree to sign the necessary documents that would release the millions of German government and Nazi Party assets in Swiss banks. The first meeting with Ribbentrop entailed Fleming and Creighton flying from Lisbon to Basle to Zurich on 8 February 1945, wearing civilian clothes and carrying diplomatic passports. One of Ribbentrop's emissaries took them to a castle overlooking Lake Constance where they were grandly wined and dined for four days until the German Foreign Secretary finally turned up. To seal the understanding that Creighton was a double spy, he was driven back into Zurich where a large sum of money - Creighton claims it was about £100,000 - was placed in his Swiss bank account - he also says he never drew a penny of it - for his services in getting Ribbentrop to England.
Another exceptional feature of the enterprise was the ingenious method that had been devised to keep Desmond' Morton and Bletchley in touch with Fleming and Creighton. Creighton, during his naval career, had trained as a pianist and after the war in 1955 was good enough to be part of a Jazz group entertaining professionally in a popular jazz club in New York's Greenwich Village. The coded message he transmitted was in music. Winding transmitter wire round the leg of the piano in the German castle and running it out of the window to a small transceiver radio in their bedroom Creighton, by playing three notes, could use them as Morse signal keys. Within ten minutes their messages were received and decoded at Bletchley.
At that first meeting Ribbentrop admitted Germany had lost the war. He was relying on Creighton to allow him to disappear in the chaos that would follow the Fuhrer's death. He hoped to get to South America but there was one obstacle that still had to be overcome. He told Creighton that his ambition was to seize for himself some of the vast assets the Nazis had accumulated abroad so that he could live out the rest of his days anonymously and financially secure.
'But there is one man I need to suborn,' Creighton reports Ribbentrop as saying in OpJB. 'Martin Bormann! The Fuhrer's secretary! He is head of the Party Chancellery and personally controls all the assets outside the Reich.'
Creighton said he had never heard of him. 'It doesn't matter,' said Ribbentrop. 'Through you I intend to offer Bormann a means of escape. I have demanded a large payment of money from him but as soon as we get out, I shall hand him over to you British or liquidate him - whatever you suggest.' Creighton then brought in Ian Fleming, who told Ribbentrop that he was the leader of a gang of unscrupulous British deserters ready to do anything for money.
A fortnight later on 4 March, word was received through a British agent in Zurich that Bormann had shown some positive interest in the proposition and Creighton and Fleming should fly to Berlin to meet both him and Ribbentrop. On hearing this news Morton decided to activate the scheme by dropping a small parachute group called Operation James Bond Vanguard (JBV) into the Muggelsee Lake.
It was now evident that the Bormann escapade was on. Returning to Birdham, Creighton and Fleming decided that the most effective way of bringing Bormann out of Berlin was through the profusion of waterways that run through and around the German capital. A large model of these waterways was built with every island, stream and bridge pinpointed for all those taking part to memorize in every detail. Although only Fleming, Creighton and Susan Kemp knew the exact purpose of the operation, the others merely knew a very important figure was being lifted, they all realized they had to become adept at the assembling, dissembling and manoeuvring of the kayaks which were to be their main means of transportation.
On the second trip to see Ribbentrop, in Berlin, Fleming and Creighton flew to Zurich from where they were driven by car to Vaduz the capital of Liechtenstein. Here they changed into Waffen-SS uniforms and from a military airstrip they were flown in monoplanes with open cockpits to a bomb-cratered airstrip some three miles south of the shattered city. A large Mercedes drove them to what first they thought was the German Foreign Office, but which turned out to be the Party Chancellery which housed not only the Foreign Secretary but Bormann, Hitler and his entire remaining entourage.
They were taken to a concrete cubicle which contained a couple of bunks and a single tap above a hand-basin and a hole in the floor for a lavatory. A short wait and they were escorted by two SS men to Ribbentrop's office which had obviously once been grand and luxurious but now its windows were cracked, furniture was dust-covered and the meal offered them was some cold sausage, black bread and ersatz coffee.
Ribbentrop assured them that the previous arrangements about money were in place, with substantial sums for both of them in Swiss francs. Having convinced the Foreign Secretary that they had personnel close by to get both Bormann and Ribbentrop out of Berlin when required, they were locked in their tiny quarters until a square, bull-necked man with a prominent scar over his left eye came to see them. It was Martin Bormann. With him was a girl interpreter. Fleming pretended he knew no German. Bormann acknowledged that the war was lost and that Ribbentrop's agreement with their English rescuers should be undertaken.
He accepted the use of kayaks, but he had to make sure that after the war there would be no international hunt for him because he had disappeared. A double must be found whose body would be the same height and weight as his, with plastic surgery to his features which would stand up to a post-mortem examination even if the PW's face was blown away, because of the means by which he was murdered.
At the same time he handed over a bulky file containing his official medical and dental records. These were subsequently doctored in London to match the German PW they had found in a camp in Canada, a man who was willing to act as a double for a promise of a prosperous future after the war. Little did he know that he was destined to be murdered. It was Susan Kemp who was given the task of finding the victim who is code-named Gunther in Creighton's book. Creighton told me that Gunther was put in the hands of the renowned plastic surgeon, Archibald McIndoe, and a dentist named A. B. Aldred of Mayfair for the necessary physical adjustments to his body which could be forged on to Bormann's official records.
While all these preparations were taking place, Creighton and Fleming received a signal to come to Rheims, temporary home of Eisenhower's Headquarters for the Allied Expeditionary Force. At Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) HQ they were civilly met by the Supreme Commander, given a cup of coffee and then asked bluntly by Ike what they were up to. He revealed in no uncertain terms that his own intelligence sources had told him all about the M Section, Operation James Bond and Churchill and Morton's plan to recover plundered Nazi assets hidden outside Germany. Although he did not explicitly say that he thought Churchill was trying to pull a fast one on the Americans by retaining such gold and art treasures, he wanted to ensure that every last gold ingot or art treasure regained through Bormann's cooperation was to be reported to him, so that their final disposition would be under joint British and American supervision and not Churchill's alone. To that end he insisted that one of his most efficient liaison intelligence officer, a Lieutenant B. W Brabenov (a pseudonym) should be attached to Operation James Bond for its entire duration. Brabenov could speak Russian and German fluently and could obviously be very useful. Churchill complained bitterly to Desmond Morton about this leak of a vital British secret to Eisenhower but was not told that Morton himself had privately briefed his opposite American number, General W J. 'Big Bill' Donovan, chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) who, duty-bound, had passed on the details to Eisenhower and Roosevelt. Whether Churchill would ever have told the Americans about OpJB had the British succeeded without their intervention is a matter of conjecture.
While further commandos and marines were sent to join the advance party around Berlin - the advancing Russians had to be considered as much a threat to OpJB as the retreating Germans - on 6 April 1945, Eisenhower's emissary, Lieutenant Brabenov, turned up at Birdham.
Creighton and apparently everyone else involved with OpJB were overwhelmed by Lieutenant Brabenov. Eisenhower's representative was a woman. She was, says Creighton, an attractive, well-formed woman with strikingly blonde hair wearing on the khaki jacket of her US uniform a most impressive galaxy of service medals. For the past six months she had been working in the UK under the direct orders of General Donovan, chief of the OSS. Although she was strictly speaking only a liaison officer, she interpreted her assignment of reporting everything to Eisenhower by conscientiously taking part in operational exercises in which she demonstrated her speed at drawing a .38 Smith & Wesson and firing at twenty paces bullet after bullet, as she put it, 'up a gnat's asshole'. She was an adept horsewoman and quickly learnt the technique of mastering a kayak. It must have been someone like Brabenov, if not that agent herself, who was the inspiration. for all those long-legged, glamorous, sharp-shooting, karate expert women who made millions for the many James Bond films based on Ian Fleming's a venture novels.
A Russian speaker like Brabenov would be an invaluable aid if confronted with hostile Soviet troops barring their way. She Immediately, volunteered to take part and, at a meeting between Donovan and Morton on 9 April at Birdham, permission for her involvement was granted and she was given the pseudonym of Alice, another name borrowed from A. A. Milne's children's books. [Is it really? ed.] .
The details for Operation James Bond were meticulously organized and rehearsed over and over again by all those involved. The main command group would land in the Muggelsee by a parachute drop and be picked up by the advance party. After lying up for a day in organized safe houses, they would proceed by kayak north-west down the Spree taking Gunther - Bormann's double - with them and protected by German Freedom Fighters and Royal Marine commandos. They would disembark some twelve miles downstream just before the Weidendamm Bridge, leave their kayaks with their escort and proceed by foot to a rendezvous organized by Ribbentrop or Bormann near or in the Party Chancellery.
It is not my intention in this chapter to do more than provide a brief outline of what was done in the Chancellery just before and after Hitler's death. Graphic details are contained in Creighton's book, OpJB, which in their excitement, tension and suspense read like the most daring adventure stories produced about the last Great War. Even those who refuse to believe a word of Creighton's yarn concede that its readability matches the most pulsating fiction produced in the books of Jack Higgins or Alistair Maclean.
As the concluding chapters of Creighton's story reached me at about 2,000 words a time, my incredulity about it all was modified by the staggering detail Creighton was able to produce about every facet of the Operation. A typical example was his description of the gear they were to wear in Berlin and in the kayaks. There were two changes of underwear, oiled long-johns, boat shoes, trousers and Ursula jackets specially water-proofed in the manner used by Waffen SS patrols. His cap had an SS badge on the outside and when reversed it became a Russian fur cap with the badge of a special Intelligence Group. Under this top layer, they wore thin British uniforms to which they would strip off if captured to prevent them being shot as spies. They all carried a fighting knife, a Smith & Wesson .38 revolver, two 36 grenades, waterproof watches, underwater writing tablets and life jackets.
Whatever Creighton described - whether it was a travelling route, a conversation, an intricate intelligence device, a piece of complex technical equipment like infra-red instruments to enable night-time vision, the aircraft in which they travelled, the experience of falling in a tree after a parachute drop - minute facts were provided to justify authenticity. In seven years of monitoring his accounts, I found a astonishing consistency about these myriad details, and under questioning by numerous experts and investigators he rarely wavered.
After their parachute drop, the command group stayed in one of their safe houses until they were carried by kayaks to the Chancellery where, after being challenged a number of times, the safeguards arranged by Ribbentrop enabled them to reach a cell-like room in one of the air-raid shelters. Creighton, Fleming, Brabenov and Günther (Bormann's double) had the task of managing the exodus of Ribbentrop and Bormann. But a surprise awaited them on their arrival. Fleming and Creighton were ushered into Ribbentrop's office, where they were told by a slightly embarrassed Foreign Minister that he had changed his mind about going with them. He had privately arranged a passage out of Berlin through Count Bernadotte and the Swedish Embassy. But Bormann would keep to all the arrangements.
Ribbentrop's escape plans turned out to be abortive and he was arrested by British troops in Hamburg on 14 June 1945. He was sentenced to death at Nuremburg in October 1946.
Bormann's doctored medical and dental charts, which now matched Günther, were handed back to him. After two of his guards had to be disarmed they received assurances from him that he would cooperate fully in signing all documents needed to hand over all the gold, jewellery, bank deposits and other assets in his control. After waiting three days in their confined quarters, Bormann arrived on 30 April to tell them that Hitler was dead and that the break-out would take place the next evening. The pick-up kayaks, headed by Susan Kemp, were contacted by wireless and told to be ready. They were informed that four of the rear-guard group had been killed in a shooting exchange with the Russians. This disaster had no serious effect on the operation because such casualties were accommodated in the contingency plans.
During the final search of Bormann for secret documents and suicide pills, they discovered a large buff envelope which Bormann was trying to hide and which turned out to be a copy of Hitler's will. Six copies of this document had been made and distributed amongst important emissaries, to be delivered to figures like Doenitz and others.
Fleming stowed the will in a waterproof case and it was eventually handed over to the M Section when Bormann himself was delivered.
As the OpJB personnel joined a group of about twenty German freedom-fighters crouching in the shelter of two tanks, With their instructions to break off and meet Susan Kemp's kayaks 300 yards instructions to break off and meet Susan Kemp's kayaks 300 yards short of the Weidendamm Bridge, a Russian shell made a direct hit on the leading German tank killing Bormann's double and Hitler's doctor Stumpfegger instantly. Although the real Bormann, Fleming, Brabenov and Creighton were knocked over by the blast, they only suffered superficial cuts and bruises and were able to make their way to the pick-up kayaks. Creighton told me that he was grateful that, in the event, he did not have to carry out the task of killing Günther and leaving his body where it would be likely to be picked up and identified as Bormann's. Fate had saved him from one more repellent, murderous task.
There were six kayaks, led by Susan Kemp, occupied by a party of twelve including Bormann that proceeded down the Spree and down the Havel towards the Elbe to deposit their valuable German prisoner. Just before they set off, an urgent message was received from London that Fleming was to return immediately to the rear party on the Muggelsee, where a Lysander would pick him up and fly him back to London. No explanation was given for this sudden need for Fleming, but intelligence revealed after the war was that it was King George VI who had asked for a commando group to go to Tambach Castle near Frankfurt belonging to the Hesse family. He believed there were embarrassing letters in the Castle written by members of his family to their relatives in the German royal family revealing a too intimate connection between Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter, who became mother of the Kaiser, as well as correspondence between the King's own mother, Queen Mary, and her German relations. Of even greater concern was the possibility that amongst these letters would be found some showing the pro-Nazi leanings of the Duke of Windsor. Fleming, along with Roger Hollis, future Director General of MI5, and Anthony Blunt, the art historian later to be revealed as a Russian spy, was sent to snatch these documents. This extraordinary expedition was authenticated and revealed in the British press many years after I had first read about it in Creighton's chronicle of OpJB.
As the flotilla of kayaks paddled their way to the Elbe, they were challenged and assaulted by German and Russian troops. It was Brabenov's ability to pass herself off as a senior Russian commander that saved them on numerous occasions from being arrested by Russian troops. Bormann cooperated all the time in the manning of the kayaks on water and land. On 8 May they got a signal that Germany had surrendered but drunken, rapacious, victorious Russian soldiers still provided a deadly hazard. Four lives were lost before the objective of Operation James Bond had been carried out and Hitler's Deputy, Martin Bormann, was handed over to a commando escort, accompanied by Desmond Morton in civilian clothes at a designated rendezvous on the banks of the Elbe.
(ii) Who will believe OpJB?
This brief outline of Operation James Bond was in essence what Creighton had been posting to me in large brown envelopes almost every fortnight from August 1989 to June 1990. Telling me that he had finished his book, he also sent me the actual maps of the Muggelsee, Spree and Havel that they had used for the operation. It was another nail in the coffin of my scepticism about the entire affair.
Admittedly, like almost everyone else who first "heard about Bormann's connivance with the British to escape to England, I dismissed it as the vivid imagination of either a fantasist or a liar. I went along with it at first, expecting at any time to hear about something that was demonstrably untrue. Then I found myself talking to him on the phone or sending him memos more about the style and extraneous matters in it than about the truth of the facts he was recounting.
I soon began to realize that I was not dealing with an amateur scribbler but with a professional writer whose style may at times have been over-heated and clumsy, but who had a disciplined ability to present complex facts so that they were not only readily digestible but were credible as well. Since the potential financial aspects of the story - if true - were enormous, I agreed with Creighton that we should acquire a literary agent.
What I had not paid much attention to before was that Creighton had already been involved with two books about his intelligence activities which had been commercially successful. Both had been written by well-known thriller writers but, whether fiction or faction, they both emphasized the fact that essentially Creighton had been at the centre of all these events, and that the demands of security had prevented the publisher from claiming they had actually happened.
The Paladin, written with Brian Garfield, was mainly concerned with Creighton's assignment by Morton as a sixteen-year-old boy on a bicycle to report on the whereabouts of any U-boat pens that were hidden on the west coast of Ireland, from which they sailed forth to create havoc amongst Allied shipping in the Atlantic. At that young age he guided in a Combined Operations attack on a U-boat base near Donegal. It was the first time he had ever killed anyone, murdering four men - three, he claims, with his bare hands. He was subsequently decorated secretly for his courage.
The other book, The Kruschev Objective, was published in 1988 and tells how in 1956 Creighton, then earning a living as a jazz pianist in New York's Greenwich Village was recalled by the M Section to take part in a complex security operation m England involving the protection of the Soviet leaders, Kruschev and Bulganin, from being assassinated by anti-communist White Russian terrorists. This meeting with Anthony Eden was the first time that the Soviet leaders were in touch on English soil with a British Prime Minister since the revolution. The plan was to blow up the warship on which they were at dock in Portsmouth. The mutilated corpse of the British frogman, Commander Lionel Crabb, was found near the docking site of the Soviet ships after they had departed. Creighton's book claims to unravel the mystery.
It would be disingenuous of me to claim that Creighton s explanation of all the highly secretive activities in which he was engaged, in OpJB, never altered. He admits that he cannot verify that every date and happening he recorded was absolutely accurate (no one's memory about events almost fifty years ago wouldn't occasionally be vague). Furthermore, because he relies on records he kept himself, as well as other operational reports which colleagues like Susan Kemp leaked to him from time to time, which bolstered his recollections, it is hardly surprising that in the many versions he wrote some discrepancies would appear. His critics have tried to discredit his book by attempting to catch him out about details of his acting and scholastic career, his description of security procedures at places like Bletchley, his activities as a double spy at Dieppe and Normandy; but astonishingly little, indeed not a single significant fact have they produced that would hold up as acceptable evidence in a court of law. Scepticism, hearsay, gossip, dubious factual claims, fear of another hoax like Hitler's Diaries were the basis of most rejections of Creighton's story.
At this early stage in our relationship, my own involvement in the book was initiated more by amused curiosity about where Creighton's imagination would eventually take him rather than by any serious faith in this incredible tale. But I was soon impressed by the staggering detail Creighton was providing to justify his book, as well as dozens of memoranda he was posting and faxing to me whenever I queried some inconsistency or doubt about a conversation which I suspected he had invented.
When he had written six chapters or about 25,000 words, as well as a detailed synopsis of the rest of the book, he agreed that I should approach Ed Victor, an American with an impressive reputation as a literary agent, to represent him over this volume. Victor had been his agent over The Paladin and therefore was obviously the first person to contact. After reading the summary, he phoned to tell me that he was reluctantly turning down the offer. He admitted that he had made a great deal of money out of The Paladin and had also been personally present when another of Creighton's exploits, the sinking of a Dutch submarine, was accepted by Queen Wilhelmina of Holland. However he always felt uneasy about the bizarre events m Creighton's career and was not very keen on having to go through the arduous effort of convincing publishers that most of what Creighton said was true. In any case he was now spending most of his time in Los Angeles where he was involved in conjuring up mega deals for adapting novels into films and would not be in London often enough to take on another enterprise like The Paladin. He recommended Andrew Nurnberg who had worked with him, and who had achieved prominence as the representative of major political biographies written b)r European statesmen, and was soon to be handling the memoirs of Russia's President, Boris Yeltsin.
Although Nurnberg had serious reservations about the book's authenticity, he still thought that it was one of the most exciting and intriguing stories of the last war and would probably have no difficulty finding a publisher. Although neither of us knew Nurnberg, Creighton agreed to accept Ed Victor's recommendation. Even more curious was the fact that although I had been involved with Creighton for almost four months, sometimes almost daily by letter or phone, I had never actually met him. I had no idea what he looked like. Now that an agent was playing a role, it was obvious that all three of us would have to meet soon.
Early in January 1990 Nurnberg told me that Grafton Books, a subsidiary of HarperCollins, wanted to have a meeting with me based upon the synopsis they had read. At their offices in Old Burlington Street, Nurnberg and I faced four of their senior executives with a tale we knew they were unlikely to believe. What proof, aside from Creighton's word, did we have to back up what they agreed was potentially one of the most compelling tales of the last war? They were not interested in fiction or faction, exciting as the story was. It had to be true, and convincingly true, if they were to go ahead. I told them that there were letters from Churchill, Mountbatten, Ian Fleming and others that Creighton could produce backing up OpJB but there were still security problems about the originals of these documents. At our next meeting I would show them what we had. In the meantime Creighton would carry on finishing the book which he estimated would take him another five or six months.
Nurnberg and I met Creighton for the first time on 30 January 1990, at Scott's Restaurant. Born in 1924, he was a surprisingly lithe, looking sixty-six when he shook my hand, confirming an intimacy we had enjoyed after many months discussing his project. Although he trusted my judgement, it was clear he was often irritated by the role of 'devil's advocate' into which I had been cast. If I pressed too hard for facts he had deliberately not sent me, his memos took on an acerbic note of disapproval. For example, he did not see why I should know his real name and thought that the pseudonym of Creighton was enough for me at that stage. His blond features were unlined and revealed little of the clandestine, violent, tortured, double-dealing war he had been through. He was over six feet tall, with disconcerting blue eyes and the slightly hooked nose that has been associated with martial Englishmen ever since Wellington. The only evidence of a traumatic life was a restless, jittery energy which he seemed unable to subdue.
At that lunch he produced the supporting documentation he had told me about, but which I had never seen. There were letters marked Most Secret from Churchill and Mountbatten which both indirectly and directly confirmed that a high level secret operation involving Bormann had taken place. In October, 1954, Creighton had written to General 'Pug' Ismay, the Prime Minster's Chief of Staff, for permission to write this book about his war-time experiences. Ismay passed the request on to Churchill who, in a letter dated October, 1954, on 10 Downing Street notepaper replied:
Lord Ismay has told me of your wishes but I am afraid that it is still impossible for anything to be done and you must not now speak of these matters. When I die, then, if your conscience so allows, tell your story for you have given and suffered much for England. If you do speak, then speak nothing but the truth, omitting of course those matters which you know can never be revealed. Do not seek to protect me for I am content to be judged by history. But do, I pray you, seek to protect those who did their duty honestly in the hope of a future world with freedom and justice for all.
There was another letter from Lord Mountbatten dated 16 December 1976 on notepaper from Mountbatten's home, Broadlands, Romsey, Hampshire. It read:
As you know, I am most concerned that the vast amount of cover established to guard against any possible verification of the very gallant part you played in secret intelligence operations both during and after the war, may well result in your never receiving proper recognition.
However, since you already have Churchill's permission, and indeed mine, to 'tell your story', subject to security clearance, I am going to let you have memoranda setting out in precis your main operations and your part in them. If you decide to publish your story, then you also have my consent to publish this letter and any relevant memoranda to confirm the truth of your incredible career.
As always, my very best wishes,
Mountbatten of Burma
Accompanying this letter was a memorandum from Mountbatten, dated 9 January 1977. It concerned 'Operation James Bond' and confirmed in precise detail the fact that the 'Morton Section had established that the vast Nazi wealth plundered from occupied Europe had been transferred to the security of the Swiss Banking System.' It then repeated the information that the accounts and safety deposits were controlled by Bormann, and that through Creighton's 'private relationship' with Ribbentrop an agreement was made for Bormann to hand over all Nazi external assets 'in exchange for Bormann's safe conduct to England and absolute protection for his future life here in comfort and security as a British immigrant.'
The memorandum listed the personnel engaged in Operation James Bond who carried out 'an incursion into the Berlin lakes, unobserved by the enemy'. The memorandum then went on: 'On May 2nd, you escorted Martin Bormann out of the bunker and made your escape downstream on the Rivers Spree and Havel, arriving on the West Bank of the Elbe to the safety of Allied forces there on May 11th . . . I wish to record once more, my great admiration for Commander Fleming and yourself, and the men and women of your command for the great skill, courage and enterprise which you exhibited during this extremely hazardous and difficult operation... ' The memorandum is signed in Mountbatten's own hand. According to Creighton, Susan Kemp became head of the M Section after Morton retired.
The only flaw in this apparently convincing evidence that OpJB did take place was that all of the letters were photostats. Creighton explained that the originals were lodged in the archives of the M Section and would never be released. The M Section was, according to him, split about what documents should be released to Creighton since some felt that this amazing expedition should be made known to the public while others insisted they should never be re1eased. It was probably through Susan Kemp - who for a short time after the war was Bormann's Intelligence Control - that Creighton was given these photostats. He insisted that he'd had them studied by graphology experts who assured him they were copies of originals.
Impressive as these documents were as corroborative support of the Bormann operation, they were surpassed in significance by the contents of a leather case he opened for us. They were medals and decorations he claimed to have been given by the nations for whom he had done his various military and espionage exploits. He rattled off what they were without revealing what he had done to win them. I recall one was the Soviet Order of the Red Star. There was an Orange Order from Holland and two French decorations as well as one from the United States. The medal that caught my eye was a piece of rather dull bronze which I recognized as the Victoria Cross. Creighton allowed me to pick it up, and engraved on the back were the words 'Secret Award', the date June, 1945, and the recipient 'Christopher Robin'.
After lunch Nurnberg and I discussed this cornucopia of evidence. The documents, since they were all photostats, could be forgeries. Some of the medals could be fakes, but was it likely that anyone would have a false Victoria Cross counterfeited and attempt to pass it off on experts? Although it might be a genuine VC, how could one find out whether Creighton had been given it because the Secret List - confined to honours for the heroic deeds of anonymous espionage and intelligence agents - officially did not exist. True identities could not be attached to such decorations. Yet it was obvious that there was somewhere in the nation's secret archives some such roll of honour for some of the bravest individuals in the land. And a Victoria Cross could fetch at auction anywhere between £30,000 to £70,000.
Hardly a bauble Creighton was likely to purchase on his own to help sell a book that might never earn that much. Although Creighton was willing to display his medals, he never allowed anyone to take them away for verification or physical examination. He had evidence of attempts to snatch them from him and was suspicious that out of his control, they could be 'accidentally' damaged or tampered with.
The material we were shown was always preceded by warnings about confidentia1ity, Secrecy and Most Secrecy. Indicative of Creighton's obsession with security was the fact that seven months after we had begun to work together he had still not told me his real name and I knew nothing about his family. Although I had by then guessed what his real name was, I did not tell him I knew. It was a long time since he had been involved in any mayhem associated with security, yet he always lived as If any day someone out of the past might seek revenge for the terrible deeds he had perpetrated on behalf of his country.
He warned me that since I was involved with OpJB and the millions of pounds that were still hidden and undetected, I ought to take some elementary precautions to discover if I was being watched or followed. He had extra chain locks on his windows. A string of hair would be left each day a foot from the floor pressed against the doorway, so that it would be unwittingly disturbed by any intruder. He stacked his shirts in a precise order m their drawer so that anyone rifling through his cupboards would probably leave a tell-tale shift in their position. Items on his desk like scissors or paperclips would be left in a complicated geometric pattern difficult to reproduce. He warned me to keep a look-out for any unfamiliar cars that parked near my home too often whose licence plates I had not memorized and to be particularly wary of any van or lorry that seemed to be carrying too much aerial. Up to a point, I found all this rather comic but I did find myself looking over my shoulder and checking mysterious telephone calls more often than I used to.
While Nurnberg continued to negotiate with Grafton, as their executives kept asking for more and more facts to back up the book, I set about checking the authenticity of the Churchill and Mountbatten letters and the bona fides of the Victoria Cross. I met Dr Peter Beale of Sotheby's, who was the senior man in their Books and Manuscripts Department, and asked him if the Churchill and Mountbatten photocopies were based upon forged documents. He studied them very carefully with a magnifying glass and then told me he had examined many attempts to forge both Churchill and Mountbatten signatures, but on a rather cursory examination they looked perfectly genuine to him.
He also knew the many methods that were used with a photocopying machine to piece together items like signatures of counterfeit documents to produce a very realistic-looking forgery. But he did not believe any such methods had been used on the two letters I'd shown him. He admitted that an ingenious forger might be able to deceive him but he thought - always qualifying his judgement by the fact that he only had photostats before him - that these letters were genuine.
I next set about finding out what I could about the Victoria Cross. Although he had not received it for his involvement in OpJB, the mere fact that he had won such an illustrious award would have established his credentials as a man of courage, and a man who had been integrally involved in key operations. Creighton, indeed, played a puzzling game about this VC, for although he revealed it from time to time when he felt his integrity was being questioned, he never actually claimed he had won it until he appeared on a controversial TV programme in late 1996.
Having learnt that the Victoria Cross was exclusively produced by Hancocks, a jewellers near the Burlington Arcade in London, I asked their chief authority on the subject, David Callaghan, if Creighton's wording on the back of his medal was the usual form. Without seeing the medal, he agreed they sounded authentic enough except for the words 'Secret Award'. When I queried him further about the existence of a Secret List, he said he had never known of any VC recipient who had been on it but he was neutral about whether such list did or did not exist. 'Even if I knew there was one, he said, mischievously, you wouldn't expect me to tell you, would you?'
The whole question of these Secret Awards has bedevilled efforts to test Creighton's claims, because it has been an oath of silence to the Sovereign or the Official Secrets Act that has prevented such a disclosure being made. Yet that such a list exists is confirmed by logic, because it would be intolerable that deeds of the greatest heroism in clandestine activities could never be honoured by the nation, and because I have been told of two other men who have admitted that they have received such never-to-be-revealed medals.
Another remarkable letter produced by Creighton, which I did not take to Sotheby's, was a personal letter to Creighton from Ian Fleming, written in October 1963, ten years after his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, made him a very rich man. It was addressed to Creighton in his true name, John Ainsworth-Davis. It spoke warmly of their joint venture in bringing 'Piglet' - Martin Bormann - to England and the recovery of most of the Nazi assets plundered from Europe and deposited in Switzerland. 'You and your operation were my secret inspiration for all that followed,' ends his letter, 'a secret I have never revealed to anyone else.' With the letter was £20,000 in crisp, white £5 notes which Creighton knew was meant to be distributed amongst survivors of the operation.
With all this impressive, confirming material, Nurnberg and I thought it would have much more chance of being published if Creighton were to come out and claim that the story was true, rather than a mixture of fact and fiction. It would mean Creighton having to re-write what he had already done in the first person. At first he did not find this a congenial task, because it meant him intruding many of his personal amorous and religious emotions into the story when he had preferred to have the book written as objectively and impersonally as possible. Since the book was re-written at least four times, this blend of cold fact and individual rhetoric was never completely resolved even in the final version.
On 12 February 1990 another meeting was arranged with four executives of Grafton books and Nurnberg and myself. But this time Creighton was present. They had certainly done their homework and put Creighton through an intense cross-examination of all his more incredible claims. Why were Ribbentrop and Canaris and others ready to believe he was a traitor prepared to betray his country for money? Would he demonstrate the means by which messages were sent to Bletchley through a piano? Why had he decided forty years after the war's end to tell his story? (His answer was that the ghostwriters of his earlier novels thought the Bormann story too long to tell at that time, saying it should be written later on its own; and he had promised both Churchill and Mountbatten not to divulge it while they were still alive. The publication of Spycatcher by Peter Wright had also done much to undermine the reasons for the tight security still maintained by British Intelligence.)
They also probed him about what happened to the two SS men shot by Brabenov when Bormann was being brought out and to explain the presence of Blunt and Hollis at Birdham. He showed them the letters from Mountbatten, Churchill and Fleming and I reported my conversation with Sotheby's about the likelihood of their being genuine. He also showed them his medals, and the Victoria Cross, I suspect, influenced any of the waverers to lean towards acceptance of OpJB.
I was queried about my role in the enterprise. I said that, if true, it was undoubtedly the greatest untold story of the last war and its implications, particularly about Nazi gold, were of great significance. I also said I assumed it would be a huge publishing success and I was not averse to acquiring a small share of the inevitable serial and film rights that would follow publication. I intended, too, to write a prologue to the book explaining Bormann's connection with Hitler, his importance and the reasons why I doubted the many accounts - particularly the findings of the 1972 Frankfurt Tribunal - that the missing Bormann had died in Berlin in May, 1945.
The publishers seemed duly impressed with Creighton's casual and disarming manner which never seemed remotely thrown by any question and the way he offered a plausible explanation for anything that appeared counter to logic or common sense. A contract was signed with Grafton on 13 June 1990 for an advance of £65,000, of which £5,000 was to be paid on signature and the balance in two instalments on acceptance and publication.
By the end of the year enough material of the new first person version had been sent to Grafton for them to ask two readers to as its merits. They both damned it unreservedly, claiming it was obvious fiction and it was most unlikely that any of this was true. We asked if we could see their actual reports but Grafton claimed that they were bound by a promise of confidentiality not to show their views to Creighton. This was naturally very frustrating for him, because without the specific details that had aroused the readers' scepticism, he had no way of discovering what case he had to answer. I have since been told by a Grafton executive that neither reader had presented any facts negating Creighton's claims. They merely could not believe the entire story - facts or no facts - and Grafton had decided that similar unsubstantiated negative attitudes would dominate most of the critical reviews of the book and they were not prepared to face that kind of media hostility. Although the contract had a clause stating that a new contract could be negotiated on the basis of the book being fiction, they no longer thought there was much future financially for it as fiction and therefore wished to opt out of publishing OpJB.
After almost a year of negotiations, this was, indeed, a grievous blow. No new facts or provable evidence had emerged to justify Grafton dropping £5,000 and totally losing faith in the project. It was the curse of the Hitler Diaries.
To complicate the problem of credibility, Creighton had won his many medals being involved in operations before OpJB that were just as hard to believe as the bringing of Bormann to England, such as the aforementioned part he played, aged sixteen, in the destruction of the U-boat base in Ireland.
Even more difficult to swallow was his account of having single-handedly destroyed the Dutch submarine K-XVII just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The K-XVIL then under the command of the British fleet in the Pacific, had sighted a large armada of Japanese warships sailing in a zig-zag course which the Dutch captain rightly calculated was heading towards Pearl Harbour. He sent the message to Bletchley, where Morton and Churchill were determined to destroy everything in connection with it. Should the Americans know of this Japanese threat, the enemy would probably turn around because their whole enterprise depended on the element of surprise.
Churchill knew that unless the Americans could be persuaded to enter the war, Germany would probably win it. A Japanese effort to cripple the US Navy was the kind of provocation needed to galvanize the Americans into action. The Dutch message and all who knew about it had to be silenced. With the credentials of an engineer investigating the sub's equipment, Creighton spent a few days aboard the submarine with packages of cyanide gas and his explosives disguised as Christmas gifts. Leaving these behind to explode and destroy the entire crew of fifty-eight men, Creighton was taken off by a Berwick flying boat. The British signal operators at Bletchley who knew the contents of the Dutch warning also had to be silenced.
After the war Creighton reported this story on Dutch television with his face covered up and claiming to be an IRA terrorist. As already mentioned, he had also told It to Queen Wilhelmina when she was an exile In England and she fully accepted Creighton's version of these events. Confirming the fact that such a meeting with the Dutch Queen did take place is the American literary agent, Ed Victor who was there in his capacity as Creighton's representative. I have seen the voluminous correspondence between the historical section of the Dutch navy and Creighton which took place when the Dutch publisher of OpJB sought authoritative support for the story. The controversy ended in a verbal stalemate because neither side could agree as to whether the K-XVII was at the bottom of the sea where Dutch naval records had placed it or where Creighton claimed he had sunk it. Until an expensive underwater expedition is undertaken to find out the location of the controversial submarine, this debate is unlikely to be resolved.
A third questionable exploit described in some detail by Creighton in OpJB was the role he was given by Desmond Morton to establish himself as a British traitor in the eyes of Admiral Canaris, Chief of the Abwehr, who was known to have anti-Hitler sentiments. The Russians and the Americans were pressing for a cross-Channel invasion of Northern France in 1942, but Churchill thought such an onslaught against the Atlantic Wall would be suicidal. He had plans for an attack on the under-belly of Europe in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1943. The Dieppe raid used Canadian troops as the sacrificial lambs to prove how futile such a cross-Channel invasion would be.
To make sure Dieppe was a failure - although it was assumed the losses would be relatively minimal - Creighton was sent to meet Canaris in Berlin and tell him of the coming raid. In the process he would establish himself as a useful British defector whom Canaris could trust because of the accuracy of his information about Dieppe. Creighton claims it authenticated him as a British traitor but he never knew whether the information he provided about Dieppe was passed on to the commander of the garrison at Dieppe. In proving the impregnability of the Atlantic Wall and postponing Overlord for almost two years, Dieppe achieved its purpose. But at the cost of over 3,000 men - mostly Canadians - killed, wounded or captured in an action lasting just over nine hours.
His credentials as a spy for the Germans were particularly vital in his role in the invasion of Normandy and in Operation James Bond. The Allies had organized a huge and complicated deception plan to convince the Germans that Overlord would take place in the Pas de Calais. Wireless messages were full of coded orders which, when deciphered indicated the Pas de Calais was the target. Bombing operations hit roads and railways leading to the Pas de Calais, as if designed to hinder reinforcements arriving there when the invasion began. Dummy ships were floated on the English coast nearest Calais, with troops being embarked on them in daylight when they could be seen and taken off at night when they could not.
Creighton was one of the agents used in this deception. As a British informer he was delivered to Rommel's HQ by E-Boat and at a high level staff meeting informed the German commander that the invasion would take place in the Bay of Seine In Normandy. He had been informed by Morton that the true landings would take place in the Pas de Calais and he had been given suicide pills to take before he revealed that fact. The Gestapo interrupted the meeting by disclosing that they knew he was a British agent, arrested him and tortured him to reveal the true location of the landings. Under the most extreme torture he swallowed his pills only to find they were innocuous. Morton had not intended to kill him but to make him withdraw his contention that Normandy was the Allied goal and confess that it was, indeed, the Pas de Calais. Before he could be executed, he was rescued by Allied commandos. Again his purpose had been fulfilled because when Ribbentrop and Bormann investigated his record as a German agent, they found he had done his best to tell them the truth about Normandy but had not been believed by Rommel or the Gestapo.
These four operations which Creighton insisted on revealing in OpJB, provided an armada of disbelief about the probability of anything like Operation James Bond ever having taken place. Could any one individual ever have been involved in so many bizarre incidents and lived to tell the tale? Anyone who seriously investigated this inventory of super-courageous deeds would have to conclude that Creighton was either one of the greatest unrecognized heroes of the last war or a remarkably shameless liar and fantasist. When OpJB was ultimately published in September 1996, the Press unanimously opted for the latter verdict. They managed to achieve this consensus of derision about the book, less by any expert evidence of what happened to Bormann than by their refusal to accept as credible his alleged activities as a double-spy and British secret agent. In the thousands of words produced on the subject I have yet to read anything uncovering a single, concrete, provable fact that establishes decisively that Creighton has been an ingenious hoaxer.
My own role at this stage in this book was to write an 8,000 word prologue in which I would introduce the reader to the significance of Martin Bormann as Hitler's Private Secretary and sole executor of his will, and then go on to summarize the efforts that had been made to find him Since he disappeared after Hitler's death. I began with the account of Bormann's presence as a witness at the Fuhrer's marriage to Eva Braun and then moved to his giving the Nazi salute at the cremation of Hitler's body in the Chancellery Garden.
I then reiterated the conventional accounts of his death - being blown up as he was escaping from Hitler's bunker - and a body being unearthed in a children's playground in Berlin in 1972 which was established by an official tribunal in Frankfurt as Bormann's skeleton. I cast doubt on those findings in my prologue because the remains had been suspiciously unearthed in the presence of invited journalists, whereas only four years previously a similar press gathering organized by Der Stern had found nothing in almost exactly the same place. Hugh Thomas, in his intensively researched book, Doppelganger, dismisses the manner of these findings as a 'forensic fraud'. His evidence in this area is most convincing.
With the collapse of the Grafton deal, the book was sent to Secker and Warburg who took the contents seriously enough to seek an opinion about its authenticity from Rupert Allason, who under the pseudonym Nigel West had a considerable reputation as the author of a number of books on British secret intelligence and espionage. In a brief hand-written two page report West dismissed OpJB as a 'work of fiction'. To Creighton his reasons for such a peremptory conclusion were far too flimsy and cursory. It was evident that he had used Creighton's novels - which had been interlaced with deliberate fictional incidents - to support his view that Creighton was a fantasizer. Nor did he place any credence in Creighton's historical versions of D-Day or Dieppe. His most damning conclusion was that Creighton demonstrated a familiar psychiatric condition known as paraphrenia, in which individuals attempt to aggrandize themselves by putting themselves at the centre of heroic or sensational events dropping names of famous or important personalities to justify their own significance.
Having received such a report, it was natural that Dan Franklin, Secker's Editorial Director, turned OpJB down. He noted in passing that he had also heard something of the experience Grafton had had with the work, but if Creighton wished to challenge West's reasoning West would be happy to meet us about it. Because the book had now been rejected without any concrete facts to prove it was fiction, Nigel West was commissioned by Creighton and myself to expand upon his criticisms of the book and do a thoroughly investigative job on Creighton's story.
For this we paid him £1,000 in June 1991 and, three months later, received thirty-three pages of typewritten foolscap, setting out his reasons for maintaining his position that OpJB was a work of fiction. In his opening paragraphs he added that he had used The Paladin as a basis for uncovering the inconsistencies and conflicts inherent in Creighton's book, but he added that in this research he had sought the assistance of Brian Garfield, the author of The Paladin, who had confirmed to West his continuing confidence in Creighton's account of these events. Another disclaimer from Nigel West - that his report would not detail any historical research which would be required in The Hague and Germany - meant that the final days of Bormann would, at best, undergo no serious textual revision based upon Third Reich or Nazi sources.
There followed a series of lengthy exchanges between Creighton and West. The thrust of West's analysis was that the totality of Creighton's exploits could not be believed by any responsible historian. To establish the justice of his finding, he set out to prove the impossibility of Creighton's story as told in The Paladin, although Garfield repeatedly said that what West picked up as untrue was what he himself had invented as the author of a book of pure fiction. Nevertheless West insisted that fiction or not, it provided - because it was said to be based on Creighton's career - sufficient evidence that Creighton was a liar.
In addition to this sweeping generalization that a novel could be used to discredit OpJB, he picked up a number of facts in The Paladin which, he said, established Creighton's ignorance and unreliability about places and people he wrote about. For instance West doubted that Creighton's father had ever been part of the British relay team that took part in the 1920 Olympic Games, yet the Who's Who entry under Jack Ainsworth-Davis (his true name) states clearly that he was on that winning team. West also discounted Creighton's accounts of U-boat destructions, Canadian training camps in clandestine killing and the sinking of the Dutch submarine K-XVII. To the last objection Creighton simply replied that if divers were employed he would be proved right.
West also noted that Churchill's letter was dated 'October, 1954' and claimed that the precise date was never omitted in the Prime Minister's personal letters. Creighton produced other Churchill letters dated exactly this way and put forward the name of one of Churchill's secretaries who said she had actually typed it. There were more picayune details about Creighton's childhood and schooling which were easily rebutted. The charge of paraphrenia was soon dropped because Creighton had overwhelming documentation to prove his family connections with Churchill, Morton and Mountbatten as well as undeniable proof that he worked with Olivier and Coward, Roger Moore, Donald Sinden and Martine Carol. West's contention that Creighton was a paranoic name-dropper turned out to be a preposterous allegation.
The most disappointing aspect of West's report was its paucity of information about OpJB. Only five pages of the thirty-three submitted dealt directly with attempting to rubbish Creighton's facts. There was a contemptuous dismissal of the claim that Blunt and Hollis were ever at Birdham. There was an assertion that Ian Fleming could not have been with Creighton on 20 March 1945 at Eisenhower's HQ in Rheims, because on that date Fleming was in Jamaica negotiating for the purchase of Goldeneye. Creighton asserts that the negotiations for the purchase by Fleming of Goldeneye actually took place a year earlier when he bought the property. To try and check which of these claims and counter-claims were correct would have taken months probably a year - of expensive research, and as a bystander I could only assess this voluminous exchange of contradictory facts as ending in a stalemate. If a winner had to be chosen, I believe Creighton's specific details were more convincing than West's often vague or instinctive allegations.
To give him credit, West was frank about acknowledging the difficulty of assessing an operation which Creighton had originally dubbed 'The Operation That Never Was'. The secrecy surrounding it was total and any written documents about it had had to be shredded and destroyed. On Morton's instruction not a single hard fact was to be left behind from which future historians could garner that such an operation ever took place.
'Morton's orders from Churchill had been totally clear,' wrote West, reporting Creighton's account. 'Nothing, but nothing of the truth of this operation must ever leak out. The doctoring, the forging, the shredding and the manipulating had to be carried out in such a manner as to make it conclusively concrete that no such operation had ever been mounted, nor could it have been.'
West assesses this explanation of a massive conspiracy of breath-taking proportions as the reason for the total absence of any corroboration for any aspect of the story. Only three people who knew what was going on - Creighton, Susan Kemp and Barbara Brabenov - are still alive. MI5 and MI6 were excluded from the plan. 'Although Susan Kemp is supposedly willing to authenticate Creighton's story she has neither come forward nor revealed her true identity.' West's report was written in August 1992. In 1996 Susan Kemp did reveal her real identity to me in my flat, and also spoke to two associates of Simon & Schuster, who published OpJP in that year, asserting that her involvement in the Bormann affair as contained in Creighton's book was true.
Although Nigel West remained adamant in his view that the book was a work of fiction he nevertheless agreed, if asked, to write a foreword to it. This would present the pros and cons of Creighton's tale, as objectively as possible, as he had done for a book called The Penkovsky Papers. When, in 1996, West asserted on a TV programme that he didn't believe a word of OpJB, I asked him why, in that case, he was ready to associate himself with it by contributing a foreword. Even though I think it's fiction,' he answered, 'I believe it should be published because it's such an exciting read.'
After Grafton's abandonment of their interest, Andrew Nurnberg tried other publishers with mixed success. Constable's letter of rejection was perhaps typical. 'The discussion about this book was animated and heated,' it began. 'There was a healthy degree of scepticism though everyone here agreed that on present evidence the book was impossible to refute.' Doubleday took it even more seriously. They examined all the letters and read Nigel West's report and decided to advance £5,000 while they conducted their own investigations. Their contractual letter said they intended to publish provided that 'No evidence acceptable in the Supreme Court arises which substantially refutes the story's authenticity.' It was dated 14 April 1992.
His closest confidante and collaborator was, at this time, Bridget Winter - a clever, imaginative, dedicated and industrious film producer who had a track record of involvement in major BBC documentaries about the Nazi period, which involved interviewing key figures such as Hjalmar Schacht, Putzi Hanfstaengl, Martin Niemoller and many others. Creighton got in touch with her when Doubleday began to have doubts. For the next year or two he and Bridget concentrated on writing a film script and acquiring financial backing for the project. Just when the film was about to be made, it was blocked on a very high level and the deal fell through.
With the collapse of the film, Doubleday's enthusiasm for publishing the book was seriously dampened and, by the beginning of 1995, the chances of getting a book printed had reached a very low ebb, and without a book deal Bridget found US film and television companies difficult to convince. The major stumbling block was that almost all the evidence came from Creighton himself. The corroborative photocopied documents from Churchill, Mountbatten and Fleming could still have possibly been forgeries. His medals - particularly the VC - since they were on a Secret List, could not be investigated for authenticity.
None of the thirty-three other participants in OpJB whom Creighton said were still alive were prepared to vindicate the expedition, and Creighton argued it was not his job to force them to. According to him, there are many documents hidden in the secret files of the now defunct M Section, which are still bound by the Official Secrets Act. One of these is the 800-page transcript of the debriefing carried out on Bormann at Birdham when he came to England in May 1945. Each of these pages carries the initials of Martin Bormann. Since Bormann was Hitler's sole executor and aware of all the Nazi Party finances that went into Swiss banks before the war ended, the exposure of the contents of that debriefing would cast an extraordinary light on the whereabouts of the Holocaust money said to have entered and exited Swiss banks.
Nevertheless there was one person who was in OpJB from its very beginning, who was in one of the kayaks that brought Bormann out, who dealt with his early days in England, who played a senior role in the M Section and advised Creighton about almost every important action he took after the war and was probably the source of the reports of the Intelligence information leaked from time to time to Creighton. Sometimes the information she fed him was true; sometimes it was false. The cover name by which she is known in the book is Susan Kemp. Her address has never been revealed. In 1992 she swore an affidavit confirming her involvement in the operation.
Susan Kemp was third in command on OpJB, after Ian Fleming and Christopher Creighton. When Creighton first met her at Birdham in January, 1945, she had the rank of a second officer in the Wrens and had striking looks, auburn hair, blue-grey eyes and a well endowed figure. She had completed a commando and unarmed combat course and had reached the highest standards of training in jujitsu, the use of fighting knives, silent killing and endurance at sea and in the mountains.
What happened to Bormann in England was not known at first hand by Creighton. He has relied upon reports he has seen in the M Section, conversations with Ian Fleming and chiefly information provided by Susan Kemp. Soon after his arrival, Bormann was flown to Basle to sign the necessary papers to release the bulk of Nazi cash and gold in several banks. They remained in those banks for a few weeks but the initial transfers were completed by the end of June. If this story is correct then the recent release of names of deposit holders - probably Holocaust victims - which were extensively advertised on 23 July 1997, involves relatively minuscule sums that were left over after Bormann's hand-over of Party and government funds to the British and Americans. There have been various calculations about how much money was reaped by this deal with Bormann, and these range from seven million pounds at the time to seven billion pounds calculated at 1997 money values. The vast sums involved - with records about them shredded by the banks - explains why so much secrecy has surrounded OpJB.
Although the excuse for this clandestine expropriation could justifiably be that this sum was only part of the reparations Germany owed the Allies for the destruction Hitler's war had caused, the Russians could legitimately claim that some of it should have been shared with them. The answer to such a demand would be that the Russians had robbed or looted the German territories they had conquered seizing for example invaluable art treasures which they have only just recently displayed to the world. At no time did they suggest that they might share these reparations with their Allies.
As soon as Bormann was debriefed at Birdham, Morton decided his looks would have to be changed and a makeshift operating theatre was set up for Archie McIndoe, the plastic surgeon, to work on him. Alterations were made to his ears, lips and nose. His fingerprints were changed and the scar on his forehead was extended because it was too deep to be eliminated. His English was now quite good and he spoke with a cultivated stammer.
Susan Kemp, who was now in charge of a sub-section set up by Morton to seek out prominent Nazis like the rockets expert Wernher van Braun whose knowledge would be of use to the West, was Bormann's personal control. Such Nazis, if they cooperated, would not be tried as war criminals, would be reasonably paid and offered a chance of becoming, with faked passports, American or British citizens. It was a similar deal to that accepted by Bormann.
What happened to Bormann in England has undergone several variations since I was first informed about it. A brief summary of the first version had it that after his face had recovered from Mclndoe's attentions, he was housed in Highgate where he was looked after by two German girls from the unit of German Freedom Fighters who were briefed with enough information to ward off awkward questions about the pseudo-father he was now supposed to be.
Because foreign Intelligence agencies, particularly the French, suspected Bormann was in London, it was decided he should be transferred to a less conspicuous domicile. Susan Kemp knew an Austrian gir1 who had been a close friend of hers before the war. She had married a former naval captain - called Peter Grant in OpJB - and they ran a riding school in an English village. After elaborate and detailed planning, it was agreed that Bormann would be brought to the Grant household and introduced to the villagers as Martin Schuler, the father of Grant's wife, Marlene Schuler.
Since Bormann was an adroit horseman, he settled in quickly to the activities of a riding school. For months he had been briefed about the personality of Martin Schuler, who had been killed in Austria as a member of the Resistance. The Grants played along with this deception, only knowing that 'Schuler' was an important figure needing such anonymity for British intelligence purposes. They understood the imperative of secrecy, were never told the real identity of their house-guest and were well paid for their cooperation. The villagers were easily taken in by Bormann's cover story and he integrated himself into the life of the community for ten years. Then, Creighton was told by Susan Kemp, Martin Schuler (Bormann) had been taken ill and died and was buried in a village churchyard in 1956.
When OpJB was being offered to Grafton and Doubleday, this was what they were told when they asked Creighton about Bormann in England. It was a lie concocted by Morton's section. Creighton, too, was duped by it. 'Even I, who had been so intimately involved in snatching Bormann, was led to believe that his life had ended before the age of sixty,' he writes in the final chapter of OpJB.
By 1995 the likelihood of the Bormann story ever appearing in a British book had dwindled almost to vanishing point. The refusal or inability of Creighton to provide any supporting individual who would say he or she had been on the operation was the sticking point that deterred publishers from gambling on a tale that, properly and enthusiastically, handled by them would have excited many thousands of readers and made them a lot of money. At one stage the sum of a million dollars was temporarily put on the table by one publisher.
The fiftieth anniversary of VE Day on 8 May 1995, was the opportunity for an orgy of reminiscences about the war in TV documentaries, old and new books, films shot in action, interviews with much decorated veterans. My own book, Defeat In The West, based upon my work as an Intelligence officer and my interrogations of senior German commanders like Field Marshal von Rundstedt, was reissued as a paperback to mark the occasion.
When on 5 May 1995, I was invited to talk about my book on the Simon Bates show on a London radio station, I decided that somewhere in a short interview I would bring up the question of Martin Bormann. The whole issue of what had happened to him had sunk into a slough of silence. I thought it might be raised from the almost dead, if it got some media airing.
I hinted to Geoffrey Goodman, the well known political journalist interviewing me, that if he asked me towards the end of our talk if I knew of any war secrets that had still not been revealed, he might hear something interesting from me. After our scheduled four-minute chat in which I confined myself to the mistakes that Hitler made which lost him the war, Goodman popped my suggested question. I said the untold mystery was how Ian Fleming, the author of the Bond novels, had led an expedition that brought Martin Bormann to England where he lived until his death In 1956. Goodman and his producer where so startled by this astonishing claim that they pressed me for another three minutes for more details, and I explained the motive for bringing him here and a short summary of how kayaks defied Russian and German fire-power to achieve the rescue.
The Press Association picked up my interview, and although the daily papers only thought it worth a short paragraph, the Mail on Sunday gave it about six inches on its front page after its reporter, Nick Fielding, spoke to me about it on the telephone. It was not news coverage, however, that brought OpJB to astonishing life again, but a message on my answering machine from a John Ffitch-Hayes who trained horses in his establishment in Lewes, East Sussex.
What Ffitch-Hayes and his wife, Anne, had to tell me in a long conversation on the phone was mind-boggling in the context of our search for the final days of Martin Bormann. Anne had been working on a book about Bormann in England which was in its final stages of preparation and research. It seems that John Ffitch-Hayes's son had been the close friend of the son of a woman, Hanne Nelson, who possessed formidable evidence that she had been Bormann's mistress in England and had borne him a daughter. The Ffitch-Hayes had photographs, letters, passports which Hanne had given them proving their relationship.
I immediately called Creighton with this startling development, and as a man who had for years been accused of inventing the OpJB fable he was extremely delighted with this corroboration of his story that Bormann had, indeed, been brought to England. For me this positive reaction on his part was heartening because if he had fantasized the whole thing would he not have produced a Hanne Nelson in his story in the first place?
John and Anne Ffitch-Hayes met Christopher and myself at my flat on 17 May 1995, and we were shown close-up photographs of a man with the same broad cheekbones and hairline as Hitler's secretary. Only later were we told that extensive plastic surgery had been done on this man's face to make him look enough like Bormann, who had undergone operational surgery on his features.
They produced a photo of a tweed-suited man posing leisurely in an English meadow who called himself Peter Broderick-Hartley. They also had British passports, issued in 1946 by the Foreign Office showing that Broderick-Hartley had been making trips to South Africa and South America while living in England. A letter was produced written by Bormann in the bunker three days before Hitler died and compared to a letter written to Hanne in 1963, which a graphologist believed was written by the same hand. Later we were shown a smiling photograph of Broderick-Hartley with his arm cosily around the waist of a contented-looking Hanne Nelson.
Hanne Nelson's relationship with Broderick-Hartley is briefly chronicled In OpJB. Bridget Winter spent days meeting her, weeks on the telephone talking to her and questioning the Ffitch-Hayes' about the evidence they had that Hanne's story was true. She was a Dane whose British husband had died a year before she met Broderick-Hartley in July 1960, when he leapt on a moving bus and sat down beside her. He said he was a civil engineer and an affair developed between them. Not long afterwards he began speaking to her in German and 'revealed' that he was Martin Bormann. By this time Hanne, although deeply disturbed by his pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic sentiments, was so deeply in love with him that she decided to remain silent about his past. They never co-habited together - although she bore him a daughter on 1 August 1961 - because he was sharing a house with his housekeeper, Hilda or Amy Gant, who had a mysterious hold over him which Hanne never fathomed.
According to Hanne, Broderick-Hartley had grandiose plans for a new National Socialist Union in Europe, with its capital in Berlin, which would first of all unite all European countries and then convince the Americans to become part of a new world-empire in which German would be the first language. His passport shows that he travelled extensively in the Argentine, Paraguay and South Africa, where his cover as an engineer enabled him to contact émigré Nazis who shared his feverish ambitions. Hanne says he asked her to marry him in 1984 but she declined because her family had Jewish antecedents and she thought that Bormann's (Broderick-Hartley's) racist prejudices would undermine such a marriage. When he died on 20 June 1989, he was buried in an unmarked grave and Hanne did not attend the funeral.
Creighton was just as overwhelmed by this story as Bridget and myself. What he had discovered, however, was that the M Section had been aware of this liaison and when he told them that Hanne was revealing all, they cooperated with him in discovering if Hanne was really the same woman who had been Broderick-Hartley's lover six years before. At a small hotel in Sussex, Bridget and Creighton had lunch with her during which be expertly picked up by its base a glass she had been using and passed it to a waitress who was in reality an intelligence agent. Twenty-four hours later security control told him she was undoubtedly the woman who had been consorting with Broderick- Hartley.
Creighton, although he was still uneasy about Hanne's claims since he thought that the photographs of Broderick-Hartley did not quite match the Bormann he remembered, even accounting for the effects of plastic surgery, had now come round to believing her assertions and those of the Ffitch- Hayes that they had unravelled the mystery of Bormann's last days. .
Rather surprising at this stage in the saga was. that Susan Kemp, his main source of information, was not discouraging him In that belief. It was she who on 18 April 1991 informed him that Morton's records had not all been destroyed - which he had ordered - but that she and the M Section's photographic experts had made copies of them all before Morton died. She insisted, however, that for the book she knew he was writing, none of the originals could be taken away and that he could only use handwritten notes of relevant material.
Shortly after the disclosure of Hanne's relationship with Bormann/Broderick-Hartley, Creighton and Susan Kemp had lunch in a pub in the Surrey countryside and then stopped outside a cemetery. Walking along one of the paths, they stopped by a patch of mown grass. With a mischievous deadpan voice, she informed him that he was standing on Piglet's grave and that her original story that Bormann had died in 1956 had not been true. She confirmed Hanne's tale that he had died in 1989 and this unmarked spot was his last resting place. 'For a moment I was so startled that I did not believe her,' wrote Creighton, now having acknowledged to the press his real name of John Christopher Ainsworth-Davis. 'But then I looked at her and decided that she was not joking.'
All this fresh clinching evidence of the claim that Bormann had been brought to England by Creighton and Fleming roused Doubleday's interest once again, and since they had already paid £5,000 they were entitled to push ahead with publication plans. Their editorial director, Sally Gaminara, had seen all the Ffitch-Hayes material and thought that Creighton's book would be strengthened if a great deal of it could be incorporated in OpJB.
Bridget Winter was called back urgently from America where she was seeing a film company about a deal. After many meetings between Bridget and both Hanne and the Ffitch-Hayes, the terms of a contract with Doubleday were agreed. On 8 June 1995, Bridget Winter turned up at Doubleday's office in Ealing to finalize the deal but just before the contract was about to be signed Hanne came through on the telephone and demanded to speak to Sally Gaminara and renounced her part m the book and everything she had told us.
Faced with this startling dramatic turn, the deal fell apart, with Doubleday accusing us of perpetrating a hoax on them. On 17 June 1995 Bridget wrote to Sally Gaminara, defending herself against innuendoes of dishonesty and justifying her position by informing Doubleday that since that unfortunate and acrimonious meeting Hanne had telephoned her three times 'and on each occasion has agreed that what I said, was true - I also have it on tape'.
With Doubleday out of the way, I phoned HarperCollins, who had now absorbed Grafton, and asked to speak to Jonathan Lloyd, one of the Grafton executives who had considered the book in the first place. I thought they might think again if they saw the Broderick-Hartley photographs and documents produced by Hanne. I learnt that he had left to join the literary agents, Curtis Brown, as their Managing Director. Andrew Nurnberg eventually decided to abandon his role as Creighton's agent, because his faith in the book had been undermined by Christopher's inability to produce any individual other than himself who had been on the operation, or any other 'hard evidence' that satisfied him of its authenticity.
When Jonathan Lloyd saw the additional material, he thought as a literary agent that publishers in an auction were likely to pay a high price for OpJB. His judgement was quite right. No less than four prominent publishers put in substantial bids for it with the winner being Simon & Schuster who offered £450,000, plus a supplementary £50,000 depending on certain complex film and paperback rights. Nick Webb, the Chief Executive, like everyone else, was so excited by the book that he thought it would be a best-seller even if it could not be proved to be true. Its readability had been considerably enhanced by a re-write job done by the respected historical writer and journalist, Duff Hart-Davis. At first sceptical about its authenticity, Hart-Davis - after spending many months with Creighton - became a whole-hearted supporter of the enterprise. Hart-Davis, having heard about the project, contacted an executive at Doubleday and asked if he could read the manuscript. He had lunch with Creighton and Bridget Winter, after which he agreed to re-write the book. To gather more information about it, he had Creighton stay a couple of nights at his home. He wrote two chapters and a new outline, and it was on the basis of this that Doubleday put in their bid.
Nick Webb could hardly have been more enthusiastic about what he felt was a great publishing coup for his firm. Writing to Jonathan Lloyd on 6 November 1995 he wrote, 'We are all so thrilled with this project that it is becoming quite a torment being so discreet.' However he had not become so starry-eyed that he had lost his perspective about the book's value. In that same letter, he asked for a fresh Clause Four to be added which read 'The Publishers shall have the right to withdraw from this Agreement if it shall be proved that the Work is not authentic and shall be promptly reimbursed by the Proprietor (John Ainsworth-Davis) for any monies paid by the Publishers to the Proprietor under the terms of this Agreement.' Around this paragraph there developed a whirlpool of controversy in the coming months.
The Press reacted with a mixture of envy and incredulity that anyone had paid £500,000 for such a book. After all, the name Bormann become a music-hall joke after the Daily Express and the Hitler's diaries fiascos, and anyone venturing a suggestion that he had not died in Berlin - as recognized by the Intelligence establishment - was regarded as a nut-case, not to be taken seriously. When I sent a copy of OpJB in manuscript form to a senior editor of a newspaper group, it was returned to me with a polite rejection very quickly. It was evident from the pristine quality of the 400 or so typewritten pages that not one of them had been lifted from their original position and read.
In December 1995 double-page features turned up in the Daily Mail and the News of the World with photographs of Peter Broderick-Hartley cosily snuggled against Hanne, now named Johanne Nelson. She had been found by two Daily Mail reporters and told them of her life with Bormann who, she said, had also been known as William Hornegold. 'But I know in my soul that he was Martin Bormann.'
According to Hanne, Broderick-Hartley had told her he came to Britain after being forced out of Paraguay when that regime decided they no longer wanted to shelter war criminals. In that detail her story conflicts with Creighton's, but they unite in the conviction that Bormann did not die in Berlin and that at some time after the war he lived in England. She did not add much credence to her story by her belief that the housekeeper, Amy Gant, with whom she shared Broderick-Hartley's life, was really Eva Braun, Hitler's wife. She had no concrete evidence for such a bizarre speculation except that photographs of Gant revealed a woman who looked remarkably like Eva. Hanne's story about Bormann is still an enigma.
Having accepted the challenge of publishing OpJB with zest - a four-page colour advertisement in the trade journal, The Bookseller, enthused about the 'astonishing true story that will cause history to be re-written' - Nick Webb became assailed by doubts. The fact that deals were quickly tied up with German, Dutch and Japanese publishers did not console him. He hired a former MI5 agent, Gary Murray, to do a thorough investigation of the book and when Murray came up with a twenty-two-page denunciation, setting out details that branded Creighton as a forger and a liar, Nick Webb stated that unless the contract was revised he would seek legal redress to have publication stopped. He printed a disclaimer in the first pages stating that the publisher's independent research was unable to verify Creighton's account and that the 'documentary trail was often at odds with the author's narrative'. He also demanded that the advance be reduced to £150,000.
There followed months of acrimonious letters because Creighton insisted his story was true and that Gary Murray~ had dug up nothing more revealing than Nigel West's report for which we had paid £ 1000 three years ago. Two relatively piddling details, about Creighton's schooldays at Ampleforth and the date of his registration and arrival at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, apparently convinced Nick Webb that Creighton was a compulsive prevaricator.
Yet just as he had done with the West report, Creighton produced fact after fact supporting his version of the events which I, for one, found far more convincing than the vague accusations being made by Gary Murray. Creighton could bring in Cardinal Hume to verify his stay at Ampleforth. He insisted, with much justification, that the memory of a girl student who claimed that she saw him at RADA fifty years earlier on the first day of registration, when he had asserted that he was then on the Elbe and had been registered by friends who knew that his service duties would not allow him to be there until two weeks after the term began, was hardly damning evidence enough to demolish his credibility about OpJB.
Hoping to act as some sort of conciliatory liaison officer between Webb and Creighton, I invited Webb to lunch at a Chelsea restaurant. He confessed that his faith in OpJB had reached an abysmally low ebb. The reactions from colleagues and fellow publishers about us being taken in by a transparent hoax had put him in the most humiliating position of his professional career. He still wanted to publish, but he could get no help from Creighton about producing the concrete evidence he needed to persuasively vindicate his story.
Creighton became even more infuriated with Webb's lack of enthusiasm. However, claiming he was being mercilessly pressurized, he told me that he had persuaded Susan Kemp to come to my flat and answer searching questions about OpJB. She would also reveal herself to two employees of Simon & Schuster who were handling the publicity for the book. Creighton decided that it was not necessary to involve Nick Webb in such a meeting. This was by far the most heartening and supportive news anyone of us involved had received since becoming involved in the project. Not only had Susan Kemp been third in command in the kayaks bringing Bormann to Pots dam, but she was also Bormann's Intelligence Control when he arrived in England and eventually she took over Morton's position as head of the M Section. It was from her that all the truths and untruths had emanated about both Bormann and Broderick-Hartley. In every critical moment of the past eight years, Creighton had gone to her for advice, from handling ticklish queries by the press to resolving financial negotiations with publishers.
None of us knew her real name or address. We only knew that she had reached a relatively high position in the civil service and was now retired. In 1992, as already mentioned, she had sworn an affidavit in a solicitor's office in London in which she declared in its first paragraph that she fully understood 'the criminal penalties that may apply to any false statement knowingly made in this affidavit.'
She then goes on to swear that having seen the manuscript of three hundred and fifty eight pages called OpJB, she is the Operational Second Officer Woman's Royal Naval Service referred to in it by the nom de guerre Susan Kemp. She then confirms that she took part in the actual operation described in the book and in the subsequent cover-up operations to establish that OpJB never did take place nor that Ian Fleming had ever been in command of it.
If she was truly the Susan Kemp, whose name appeared regularly in the thousands of pages I had seen about OpJB, then surely she would satisfy Nick Webb's insistence that another single individual involved with the expedition should come forward before he would once more be convinced of its authenticity.
She turned out to be a rather ample, cheerful elderly woman with brown hair, of medium height who wore glasses. Christopher Creighton arrived with her at my flat and made very few interjections during the course of our forty-five minute conversation. I began my chat with her - I felt it would be inappropriate to press her as if she were undergoing some sort of cross-examination - by saying how pleased I was to see her at last since I had been living with her by proxy for seven years.
She explained that it was chiefly her training as a wireless operator that got her into Operation James Bond. Paddling a kayak had come easily to her because she had done a great deal of punting at school. Here Creighton interrupted that he was never keen on her paddling technique since she only paddled on one side of the kayak, rather than on both sides as was the usual method. She never liked Bormann because he seemed rather grubby to her. I asked her about Fleming and if he ever made any flirtatious passes at her. She admitted there were other girls who received his advances but she wasn't one of them because she had a regular boyfriend at the time. She confirmed Creighton's statement that she had not destroyed all of the M Section documents, and that most of the originals were still in Security custody.
I had decided I would not press for details about her life at Birdham or how OpJB was organized technically because, if she was a phoney these were the easiest details she could have mugged up on and repeated to me. Before seeing me she had spoken to two of Simon & Schuster's publicity people and it was their task to interrogate her about the technical secrets they wanted revealed. Before leaving, having seen some family photographs in my drawing room, she asked if one of them was a relative of mine she had gone to school with as a child. She jotted down a small friendly note indicating her delight at the coincidence that, by such a strange route, she had been reminded of someone she had known as a small girl. Having been involved with actresses on and off stage for forty years, I was thoroughly convinced that she was not putting on a performance for me and that she was the Susan Kemp revealed in Creighton's book.
Some months after that interview she told Creighton precisely what had happened to Bormann after he came to England. She also confessed that Creighton had been lied to about Broderick-Hartley, his activities and the place and date of his death. Creighton, like so many other people who had been used for intelligence purposes, had been fed a cover-story for M Section's purposes.
In OpJB Creighton sets out the details of this deception. In essence it concerned the nervousness in government circles about the chances that their harbouring of a convicted war criminal, in order to further a secret deal with America about German funds in Swiss banks, would be found out, with obvious serious and embarrassing consequences. The best way to sustain the cover-up was, on the one hand, to provide convincing supporting evidence that Bormann was killed in Berlin as reported by Hugh Trevor-Roper and others and, on the other hand, to encourage so many false stories about sightings of Bormann in every part of the world that the Press would do no more than suppress a yawn at any news about him. The Daily Express fiasco about his presence in the Argentine was exactly the kind of event British Intelligence cherished.
In furtherance of this all-important goal, the M Section did not refrain from using someone like Creighton, who had been In on the operation from its very beginning and thought he knew what was going on, as a victim of their disinformation strategy. He was thoroughly taken in by the Broderick-Hartley masquerade and proof of his innocence lies in the fact that he agreed to pay large sums money to both Hanne Nelson and the Ffitch-Hayes for the exclusive right to their material, and to prevent them from selling it to other publishers interested in a Bormann story. It is extremely unlikely that such money out of his projected royalties - almost £50,000 - would have been promised for information which he knew was phoney if, as has been charged, he had made up the entire fictitious epic on his own. Surely this is corroboration of his persistent claim that he was not perpetrating an elaborate hoax.
In OpJB he writes, 'Although I did not know it, my own section was playing me along. For several months I was greatly excited by my belief that I had at last stumbled on the truth about Bormann's later years. I knew that during the early 1950s suspicion and rumour had been rife throughout Europe, with many fingers pointing at England. I also knew that after the end of the war several doppelgangers had performed well in Italy, Germany and other countries. What I did not know was that in 1952 the M Section had found a strikingly good replica of Bormann, in the form of Peter Broderick-Hartley, on their own doorstep, and had decided to make use of him also. The idea was that, if ever anyone seemed to be coming uncomfortably close to the truth, the British authorities could produce the resident double and say, "There you are. Of course he looks like Bormann, but in fact he's got nothing to do with him.'"
The man selected to play the part of Bormann/Broderick-Hartley was a small-time confidence man named Hornegold with several children scattered in various countries, who enthusiastically took to his training and education in the ways of Martin Bormann, since he was well-paid and it enabled him to indulge in a very full sex life.
I must confess that even though Creighton went along with the Broderick-Hartley deception, I always felt, when we discussed it, that he had reservations which he would not reveal to me. In OpJB he confirms that he could never reconcile the photographs of Broderick-Hartley with the image of Bormann stamped on his mind fifty years earlier. Susan Kemp was, as usual, the person to reveal to him what M Section's devious tricks were up to. In the spring of 1996, perhaps because the years were eroding the justification for secrecy, she told him that when he started work on his book in 1989, the Section had deliberately set out to discredit him by making him believe Bormann had died in Hampshire in April 1956, and that the grave Susan Kemp had shown him was authentic.
But what had upset the Section's disinformation plans was the accidental appearance of Hanne Nelson with her version of events. They were afraid she might publish her story independently, thus necessitating their involvement in some extremely tricky manoeuvres to rubbish her experience. At first they decided to support her claims to Creighton, but once they realized that Creighton was convinced that Broderick-Hartley was not Bormann, Susan Kemp was given permission to tell him the truth.
It seems that what had actually happened between 1945 and 1956 was that, from his base in England, Bormann made several trips to South America, under the control of the M Section and the American CIA where Barbara Brabenov - still in the intelligence service supervised his activities, resulting in large sums of cash and jewellery being unearthed, as well as the undermining of several conspiracies by wanted high-level Nazis still engaged in plotting a return of a fascist regime to the newly democratic Germany.
Creighton and Fleming were, of course, not concerned with the ethical question of harbouring a convicted major war criminal in England after the war. They assumed the Intelligence authorities must have had valid state reasons for carrying out such a deception and they obeyed orders. Although Churchill authorized the original decision to use Bormann to save vast sums of money for a financially weakened Britain, it was ultimately a decision that must have been confirmed by Attlee, whose Labour administration came to power in July 1945.
Naturally there was a great deal of anxiety lest the news of Bormann's eleven year stay in Britain would be discovered. It was the visit of the Soviet leaders, Bulganin and Khrushchev, to Britain in April 1956 at the height of the Cold War that increased the edginess of security circles about the presence of their controversial visitor. It is Susan Kemp's revelation that she was called into the office of Prime Minster Anthony Eden and screamed at by an hysterical Eden, who attacked her for allowing such a risky situation to continue.
Losing his temper in a string of obscenities, he banged the desk and shouted 'We're cosseting him like a fucking VIP I want him out of the country before these bloody Russians get here. Why don't you just cut the bloody man's head off and throw him into the sea!' Calming down after this tantrum, he returned to his normal, polite self and in a courteous voice said, 'Be so good, my dear Miss Kemp, as to escort him out of the country by 25 April.' .
Herr Schuler, the alias under which Bormann had been living in the riding school, conveniently 'died' and a coffin bearing his name was buried in the village graveyard that Creighton was first lied to about by Susan Kemp. Under escort, Bormann was flown to the Argentine, where he was put under the control of the section headed by Brabenov. Although he was only fifty-five, his health was failing and no more information-gathering activities were demanded of him.
He was moved to Paraguay, where after a long illness he died in February 1959 What happened to the corpse after that has been the subject of much debate. . ,
In order to maintain the secrecy of the deal by which Swiss banks released funds to Britain and Amenca within a month of the war's end it was imperative that Bormann be killed escaping from the bunker. If his body was foun in Paraguay many years later, It would provoke many embarrassing questions. According to Hugh Thomas, whose book Doppelganger convincingly documents what happened, a deal was made between the CIA, the. pro-Nazi Paraguayan government and cooperative German intelligence sources, for Bormann s remains to be exhumed and returned to Berlin where they were buried in the Ulap Fairground, where some workers claimed they had dug a grave for the body in 1945. One must assume that this news was then conveyed to the magazine Stern, who four years earlier had failed to find a corpse in the Fairground; but this time, surprisingly enough, within a few yards of where they had last been digging, two skeletons were found which were declared to be those of Bormann and Stumpfegger by the 1972 Frankfurt Tribunal.
But Hugh Thomas has shown the many contradictions surrounding this explanation of the location of these skeletons, not the least of which is that the Bormann skull, which is in the possession of his family, reveals dental treatment that was done long after 1945, and was caked with red-brown clay that did not match the sand subsoil in which it was found. He describes the findings as a 'forensic fraud'.
The Bormann family is not united about their father's death in 1945 and his oldest son, the priest Martin Bormann, has recently given an interview to the Frankfurter Rundschau expressing doubts about the 1972 Tribunal's findings. When Creighton went to see the family in 1996 he asked them to allow a DNA test on the skull. They refused permission at that time, but in July 1997 a newspaper report said that they had changed their minds and that a DNA test would take place. In the meantime, confusion and uncertainty still exists about what the remains found in 1972 in the Ulap Fairground actually proved.
(iii) A hostile reception and a death threat from Germany
OPJB was published on 1 September 1996. The critical reception that it received can only be described as horrendous. Some of those who reviewed it reacted as if they had been personally insulted by having to read such a farrago of nonsense. A few days earlier, Andrew Roberts, the historian I had met a number of times at the Garrick, phoned to tell he me was reviewing the book for The Times. 'It's a lot of balls, isn't it?' he said. 'How many pages have you read so far?' I asked. 'Only fifty..' 'Well, you may change your mind when you've read a few more, I said, summarising my reasons for not dismissing it a hoax. When the review appeared on 14 September it was headlined: 'I spy some big fat lies.'
Admitting that facts to discredit Creighton's story were almost impossible to come by, he wrote 'It is truly extraordinary that a reputable publisher such as Simon & Schuster should produce such a childish fantasy as fact.'
This provoked a letter from me to The Times which said, amongst other comments, 'Andrew Roberts writes that I "have been taken in by the book's absurd claims" ... In a long telephone conversation I had with him I told him that over six years a number of intelligence experts have been paid to investigate its claims; their doubts about details have been rebutted by Creighton to my satisfaction. I told him I had met "Susan Kemp" and that I am convinced she is who the book says she is ... None of this is contained in Mr. Roberts's review. He does acknowledge that I and my colleagues have offered a reward of £20,000 to anyone who can, on factual evidence, prove that OpJB did not take place. Curiously enough, he does not believe that anyone will ever win it.'
The view that Churchill, let alone Attlee, Roosevelt and Truman - leaders who had not had their consciences troubled by the dropping of an atom bomb on Hiroshima - should have engaged in such a heinous act of duplicity troubled some historians as an outrageous accusation. 'Simply not British, old boy,' one of them told me.
Richard Overy, Professor of Modern Languages at King's College, London, articulated this objection in an interview in the Independent. 'The idea that Churchill should authorize such a preposterous operation simply beggars belief,' he said. 'I cannot believe Churchill would have risked alienating our allies by secretly protecting someone as senior as Bormann while every effort was being made to apprehend other war criminals.'
Perhaps the prize for the most self-righteous, vicious review should go to Robert Harris of the Sunday Times whose moral indignation was directed at Simon & Schuster - 'it boasts forty-eight Pulitzer prizewinners' - for publishing this 'unutterable tosh' while 'knowing it almost certainly to be false'. Mr Harris has been rightly praised for writing two brilliant novels - Fatherland and Enigma - on the peripheral edge of events associated with the Second World War. But there is no evidence anywhere that he has anything but a journalist's layman's view of how Intelligence functions or functioned. The only single fact he produces in a large piece of vituperation about the book's authenticity is that 'Bormann's body was dug up in Berlin and identified from dental records'. The findings of the Frankfurt Tribunal have been totally discredited, and it is surprising that Harris still has faith in them in 1996. And anyone reading this chapter can hardly accuse Simon & Schuster of being irresponsible when real experts have investigated every fact in the book and a reward of £20,000 was offered for proof that OpJB is either a hoax or a fantasy.
I wrote a letter to the Sunday Times, printed on 15 September 1996, which implicitly challenged Mr Harris to put up or shut up. He discreetly decided to do neither. 'One hardly knows where to begin in answering Robert Harris's attack on OpJB,' I said. 'The initial premise which Harris claims makes nonsense of the book is the dug-up bodies' dental records. Hugh Thomas's book Doppelganger calls the event a "forensic fraud" and those involved in cooking up that story have not dared to sue for libel. For a start the skull in question reveals dental work that was done long after 1945. Even the family are not united in believing he died in Berlin.
'Recently opened policy archives in Argentina and Paraguay reveal almost conclusively that Bormann was in the Argentine in the 1950s and probably died in Paraguay... The recent revelations from US archives in Washington, that Nazi gold and money deposited in Swiss banks before the war's end (officially identified as the Ribbentrop Gold Fund) was shared between the British and American governments, support the reasons why Bormann was brought to England in the first place. . . It is obvious that as Hitler's sole executor (in his will), Bormann, if he were still alive, would have played a vital role in the disposal of Nazi assets in Swiss banks. The shortfall disclosed by the Foreign Office this week between $500 million deposited in Swiss banks and the $58 million accepted by the Allies in 1947 is probably explained by the secret deal between Bormann and the British and American Intelligence agencies.'
But the critics who damned OpJB without, between them, providing a single fact to justify their scepticism managed to provide a fog of disbelief about Creighton's story that no missives tucked away in letters pages could dissipate. Determined to try and arouse some individual who could prove the letters were forgeries or that Fleming was nowhere near Birdham between January and May 1945, or that operations elsewhere would show OpJB was impossible or that Creighton's many facts were ludicrous, two large advertisements - 8" x 3½" were placed in The Times and the Independent in mid October 1996 which had the figure £20,000 prominently displayed. These advertisements cost almost £2,000. The text read:
OpJB is an account of how Ian Fleming and Christopher Creighton, the book's author, led an expedition that brought Martin Bormann, Hitler's Secretary, to England at the war's end. The book has been the centre of sensational controversy. Bormann, as the sole executor of Hitler's will must have played an essential part in the disposal of Nazi assets. Bormann's authority to release such assets was the reason the Allies wanted him in England. This is a matter of supreme historical importance. Simon & Schuster, in the interests of truth, is publicising the offer of a reward of £20.000 to anyone who can provide evidence that OpJB did not take place.
Conditions of the reward. Applicants must provide direct, first-hand, factual evidence, not based on rumour, gossip, hearsay or opinion, provable in a court of law, that Operation James Bond, as described in OpJB, did not take place. Applicants must also be prepared to rebut and negate the evidence produced by Creighton that OpJB did take place. The facts to be relevant must have occurred between Jan. 1 1945 and May 15 1945. This offer is open until Dec. 31 1996 and only the first person providing such conclusive evidence will receive the £20,000 reward. If legal costs are involved, each side will pay its own. Applications to be sent to Christopher Creighton, c/o Curtis Brown, Haymarket, London.
None of the reviewers or historians who asserted with such confidence their denunciation of the book as a fraud came forward with their knowledge to claim the reward. Neither did Nigel West or Gary Murray who had been paid substantial sums to investigate it. Indeed there were only four serious claims and their facts were so decisively rebutted by Creighton that they made no further efforts to acquire the £20,000. The closing date of the offer - 31 Dec 1996 - came and went without a single legally provable fact turning up to establish that OpJB did not take place. Nor has such a fact been revealed by the date of the publication of this book. [1998, ed.]
Each time the book turned up in translation the foreign publishers in Germany, Holland, France made intensive efforts to check the authenticity of its contents, and each time decided to publish even though Creighton's inability to provide them with every answer to everyone of their questions left them uneasy about the inconclusive nature of some of the evidence.
Nick Webb was not impressed with the results of the advertisement nor with my report of my meeting with Susan Kemp who, he felt, was some actress Creighton had hired or was someone involved in Creighton's elaborate hoax. Such newspapers as retained any interest in the story continued to deride any effort made to reveal something positive about it. Snippets of information substantiating Creighton's story would turn up from time to time, but were never any longer taken seriously.
One of the frequent so-called 'facts' used to discredit OpJB was the assertion that Ian Fleming was only a 'chocolate' soldier, and would never have been involved in any such physically hazardous operation as the Bormann affair. But on 17 August 1996, the Daily Telegraph reported a plan 'released by the Public Record Office under the government's policy of greater openness'. Fleming, then the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, had put forward a daring scheme to seize a German ship which would have enemy cryptograph material that would enable us to crack the Enigma ciphers.
This plan was advanced in September, 1940, at the height of the German blitz. 'Pick a tough crew of five, including a pilot, wireless operator and word perfect German speaker (which would be Fleming), dress them in German Air Force uniforms, add blood and bandages.' After the next German air raid on London, these men would occupy one of the captured German bombers in British possession and join the tail-end of the German bombers returning to the Continent. Once on the French side of the Channel, they would switch off one engine, lose height fast and, with smoke pouring from a candle in the tail, ditch into the sea. The men would then put to sea in a dinghy and after the bomber had sunk, radio German naval units of their plight and wait for a German ship to be sent to pick them up. Fleming's plan was then to kill the crew of the rescuing boat, dump their bodies overboard and sail the ship back to England with its valuable cryptograph code-books.
There was great enthusiasm for this scheme at Bletchley Park. When Operation Ruthless had to be cancelled because our reconnaissance plane could not spot a German vessel in the Channel that might be sent to rescue them, the head of Bletchley Park's Naval Section had to postpone and eventually cancel this 'very ingenious plot'. Before another suitable occasion came up, the British had already started to break the Enigma code.
According to Admiral Norman Denning, a post-war Director of Naval Intelligence, this scheme was typical of many of Fleming's planned missions. 'A lot of Ian's ideas were just plain crazy,' said the admiral. 'But a lot of his far-fetched ideas had just a glimmer of possibility in them that made you think twice before you threw them into the waste-paper basket.' Does Fleming's involvement in OpJB seem so far-fetched after one reads of his part in an officially acknowledged true expedition every bit as dangerous and bizarre as bringing Bormann to England?
While sales of OpJB reached 19th on the best-seller list in Britain, it was never taken up with any enthusiasm by the major book-sellers because they had been put off by the ridicule heaped on the book by the critics. It was not distributed with any enthusiasm by Simon & Schuster, who behaved as if they might catch leprosy through handling it. Nevertheless it is such a gripping and unputdownable read that it had more than earned its £150,000 advance by the end of 1997. Nearly one million copies were sold throughout the world. Despite all his negative instincts about the story, Nick Webb has printed a paperback version of OpJB.
The revelation, because of Jewish pressure from Holocaust victims in America, that Swiss banks had been collaborating with Hitler's minions in hiding away looted treasure in their vaults, made OPJB even more relevant than ever. Did not Creighton's book reveal, eight years earlier, what Swiss banking officials were now shame-facedly admitting? The list of names that have been publicized as owners of bank accounts untouched for fifty years is a startling development. What is surprising in all the disclosures about this scandal, is that no mention has been made of Martin Bormann. After all, as Hitler's sole executor and custodian of German funds outside of the Reich, his part in what happened would be crucial.
Even if he had died in 1945, someone would have had to take his bureaucratic place to enable looted money to be released. Who then was the adopted executor of Hitler's will - his Mein Kampf royalties were worth millions - if Bormann did not perform that function? Why has no government statement from Britain or America made any disclosure about this mystery?
When the book was published in Germany, Creighton was contacted by former Nazis determined to substantiate the story that Bormann died in 1945 so that they could claim he was not a war criminal when he was killed. On this legalistic basis, it is believed that there are still some valuable assets of Hitler's Deputy waiting for claimants under his will which have not been vitiated by his being a convicted war criminal.
At about seven in the evening of 14 October 1996 a large brown envelope with the word SHULMAN on it was dropped into my letter-box. The doorbell had not been rung to alert me to its presence. Badly typed on cheap paper it read:
You sensible experienced journalist and army intelligence man. You know we serious. You Creighton, Winter, Hart-Davit, Econ Verlag and associates have not yet declared publicly that book Operation James Bond is lie and that Martin Bormann did not die 1959 Paraguay but Berlin May 1945. You have also not denied that Creighton M Section have complete records Swiss/Nazi gold and part control.
Do not tell Police or newsmen except Operation James Bond false.
We depend to you Shulman to get these done otherwise we shall take serious violent action.
It was clear from the pigeon English in which the note was written, and the reference to the German publisher, Econ Verlag, and the mis-spelling of Hart-Davis's name, that the writer was trying to give the impression that it was the appearance of OpJB in Germany that he was trying to stop. However, the well-phrased expressions 'not yet declared publicly' and 'you have also not yet denied' seemed at odds with such basic foreign errors as 'you know me serious' and 'we depend to you'. My first suspicion was that it was written by an English speaker and naturally one felt it might be Creighton. But what for? When I phoned him he told me he had received a similar death threat. We both agreed that it would be useless telling the newspapers because they would accuse Creighton of concocting a publicity stunt to help sell the book and no one would print it. It placed me in a dilemma because if the threat was real, the scepticism of the Press towards the book would ensure that all I would get from them would be hoots of derision. I told Creighton I intended to go to the police, and the next day a detective from Scotland Yard heard from me all the details of the facts leading up to this ugly missive. He took it seriously, came to see me a second time and about a week later phoned to tell me that he had been in contact with the German police, who knew all about it, and that I had nothing to worry about because they were dealing with it. .
Creighton told Bridget and myself that he was going to Berlin to sort out the Reichsleiter and his associates. Reichsleiter was the rank Bormann had in the Nazi party as its National Organizer. The new Reichsleiter was probably the head of some underground resurgent Nazi movement and very likely the German security forces were well aware of their activities.
Creighton disappeared for eight days and because of queries from his distraught wife, Bridget and I did our best to find out whether he had been killed or not in Berlin. We managed to get hold of Susan Kemp who denied any knowledge of Creighton's whereabouts, although we never believed her professed ignorance. But Creighton did return to England, apparently having satisfied the German police that his mission had been genuine. He was immediately admitted to a hospital suffering from two bullet wounds. As yet Creighton has maintained complete secrecy about what went on in Berlin, except that he has assured Bridget and myself that the Reichsleiter is unlikely to trouble us any further.
With the intrusion of the revelations of the money deposited in Swiss banks and the intense efforts of American and Jewish authorities to learn the truth, the evidence in OpJB has acquired a more significant dimension than mere history. All those involved in this search have commented on the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the British to release the secret documents in their archives that dealt with the activities of Desmond Morton and Ian Fleming. It took over fifty years to reveal Fleming's plan to acquire the Enigma code and one can be sure that many more such schemes are still officially buried disclosing the fertile imagination of the author of the James Bond novels.
If Creighton's story is true and millions if not billions of German funds were creamed off by the Morton Section and the CIA, with very little left over for the looted victims in 1997, would it not be imperative that any cover-up operation be continued to discredit any suggestion of a deal between Bormann and Allied security forces? Trying to weigh the balance of evidence between a complete hoax and a complex cover-up needs much more investigation and analysis than the so-called experts in the media have given it so far.
Against OpJB being a true record of a daring, intelligence coup are the following considerations:
(i) Creighton's account of his part in discovering V-boats in Ireland, informing Admiral Canaris about the Dieppe raid, blowing up the Dutch submarine and his efforts as a double spy to deceive the Germans about the location of the Normandy landings, are of such a heroic, important nature that to achieve anyone of them would have been a classic Intelligence achievement. To assert that one individual did them all has been too much for critics to swallow, even though no one has yet provided first-hand verbal or documentary proof that Creighton is little more than a Baron Munchausen, inventing fables of military derring-do.
(ii) The letters from Churchill, Mountbatten, Fleming have only been seen in the form of photostats. Creighton claims that the M Section will not release the originals.
(iii) The Victoria Cross which Creighton has shown to many people involved with this book remains a decoration of much mystery. The firm that has made all such decorations has no record of one given to any of the many names employed by Creighton. Creighton, with much logic on his side, insists it was awarded to him on a Secret List which the government maintains for all Intelligence and Security personnel, who would obviously need such protection if they were to continue to function as Intelligence or Security agents. But Creighton will not hand over the medal for such expert scrutiny.
iv) Creighton claims that there are about thirty persons still alive who took part in OpJB. He has tried to get some of them to come forward, but either they feel bound by the Official Secrets Act or are not willing to face the media attention of such a disclosure, but no one - except Susan Kemp - has personally supported his story.
(v) Although Susan Kemp did swear an affidavit and reveal to me that she was on OpJB, she has refused to come out again and meet either the media or Creighton's publishers. She is still adamant in that refusal. Barbara Brabenov, who was very active in organizing hiding places for Germans whose knowledge as scientists or informers would be of use to the Americans or the British, has often indicated her willingness to support Creighton's book but claims that CIA pressure has prevented her from doing so.
(vi) There are many petty details about this operation that have been used by critics to destroy the book, but they are only of a peripheral nature due to loss of memory over the years or a conflict of evidence, such as the date when Creighton first turned up at RADA - either the first day of term, when he would have been on the Elbe, or two to three weeks after that because his active service was accepted by the RADA authorities as a credible excuse for his having been late starting the classes.
For the theory that there has been a cover-up by Desmond Morton and the security forces, there are events so strange and improbable that the most likely explanation for their having been done was to create an atmosphere of disinformation through which no one could ever pick a way to the truth.
(i) One of the very remarkable aspects of Creighton's book is the mass of technical detail it enlists to describe the tactics, the weapons, the clothing, the orders involved in the various raids on land and water in which he was engaged. No one has yet faulted OpJB in its display of intricate military expertise.
(ii) The fact that Creighton has never been loathe to face investigation or interrogation is shown by his financing of Nigel West to reveal the material's fallacies and improbabilities.
(iii) Creighton has been interrogated by many experts. Dozens of small improbabilities about travel routes, aircraft, units employed have been flung at him, but he has almost always bested these critics. A reading of the very lengthy rebuttals of the reports of Gary Murray and Nigel West would convince any objective observer that Creighton's defence of his position is far more convincing than the criticisms levelled at him.
(iv) The sequence and shape of any operation in which he took part has always been described with amazing consistency Over the years in which I have known him.
(v) Other hoaxes in military affairs have always collapsed as soon as convincing evidence has been adduced. Hitler's Diaries were abandoned by their counterfeiters as soon as the evidence against them was produced. Similarly, the story offered by Farrago about Bormann being found in the Argentine collapsed as a commercial proposition immediately the photo of Bormann turned out to be a chef known to Farrago. OpJB has never deviated from its claim that - except for memory lapses - it is true. Dozens of opponents have made statements and produced photographs to demolish the book's foundations, but Creighton has never conceded their authenticity or been forced to shift his ground about this event.
(vi) No one has proved that the letters of Churchill or Mountbatten are forgeries. Creighton has offered to show the original in a lawyer's office and in front of a handwriting specialist, but no one has yet asked him to do so.
(vii) My colleagues are aware of individuals who have received decorations registered on the Secret List. Common sense dictates that there must be such a List. The insistence of Creighton that his Victoria Cross is on a List of that kind should in no way undermine his claim that he was honoured with a VC.
(viii) When the Ffitch-Hayes turned up with Hanne Nelson and Broderick-Hartley claiming he was Bormann, Creighton was convinced that the real Bormann had at last been found. So sure was he of the authenticity of their evidence that he paid them almost £50,000 to have their material incorporated in his book. If he knew then that the whole operation was just a hoax or a figment of his imagination, would he have handed over such a large sum of money to back up his deception?
(ix) Throughout this operation, the M Section or the security authorities at MI5 have fed Creighton, through Susan Kemp, disinformation so that stories about Bormann would be contradicted so often no one would believe anything more about him. Without using the powers of the Official Secrets Act, they had made OpJB such a laughing stock that they did not have to worry about the truth being discovered through its pages.
(x) It is strange that a book called The Hunt for Martin Bormann by Charles Whiting, 'proving' Bormann died in 1945, was published only two weeks before OpJB and was described as a 'spoiling operation'. The book received hardly any reviews or attention. Who, one might ask, would finance such a spoiling operation?
(xi) A reward of £20,000, for anyone providing facts that proved convincingly that OpJB never took place, has never been effectively claimed.
If OpJB is not an historical account of a true event, or it is true but been discredited through an elaborate cover-up plan, then we are left with only one other explanation. It is an amazing work of adventure fiction which can rank with the best of that genre about the last Great War, and Creighton deserved great acclaim for that achievement.
But while investigations are still taking place in official government circles about the deposition of Nazi gold in Swiss banks, surely Creighton should be subpoenaed or requested by one of these tribunals - the World Jewish Congress ought to be interested - to tell his story. Bormann's authority to handle all this money cannot just be hushed up while Creighton asserts that there is an 800-page debriefing of his role which would reveal where a great deal of this looted money went. If Creighton claims that the M Section will not release that evidence, then pressure should be brought to bear upon the British to release it before it is shredded, or to prove that such a debriefing never existed because Bormann was never in England. Creighton says he is willing to face the cross-examination of such a tribunal.
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