THE 7 LIVING GHOSTS OF NUREMBERG
This uncensored first-hand report takes you behind the bars of Spandau where Rudolf Hess and the other six top Nazis imprisoned for crimes against humanity wait out the tortuous years while the world forgets they exist
IN THE Berlin prison of Spandau, surrounded and controlled by almost incredible human and mechanical safeguards against escape, are the seven men who were sentenced to imprisonment by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal for their crimes against humanity. Less than a decade ago these seven top-rank German leaders were ranked among the most powerful men on earth, yet today the outside world has almost forgotten
GRAIN!) ADMIRAL KARL DOENITZ, DEPUTY FÜHRER RUDOLF HESS,
HITLER YOUTH LEADER BALDUR YON SCHIRACH,
REICHSBANK MINISTER WALTHER FUNK, GRAND ADMIRAL ERICH RAEDER, MINISTER OF WAR PRODUCTION ALBERT SPEER,
FOREIGN MINISTER AND PROTECTOR OF BOHEMIA AND MORAVIA BARON KONSTANTIN VON NEURATH.
A BONUS-LENGTH FEATURE
Now they are just names or rather numbers in a prison tomb. Yesterday these seven, who stood in dock at Nuremberg with the other Hitler lieutenants, tried to enslave the world.
The infamous careers of Ribbentrop, Streicher, Seyss-Inquart, Kaltenbrunner, Frank, Jodi, Frick, Keitel, Sauckel and Rosenberg had ended on the Nuremberg gallows. Goering and Ley had committed suicide in their cells. Hess, Funk and Raeder were sentenced to life imprisonment; Speer and Von Schirach to twenty years; Von Neurath to fifteen and Doenitz to ten.
A year ago I set out to pierce the screen of secrecy around the seven men of Spandau. Because of the agreed “silence” among the four powers who jointly guard the world’s most closely watched prisoners I was given no official assistance at all. From wives, relatives, lawyers, friends and enemies
I got a composite picture of the seven men and their characters. I gleaned information from neo-Nazi and anti-Nazi organizations. In Bonn, seat of the West German Government, I probed official and unofficial records on Spandau and its prisoners. I visited their confiscated estates and former homes. In Hamburg I talked to wartime comrades of Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz who are ready and eager to follow him again to a “new and greater Germany” when he is released. I traveled with two of the prisoners’ wives to Berlin for their Spandau visits. I had access to authentic documents revealing political and diplomatic manoeuvres to free or alter condit ions of the sentences. I spoke to people who worked closely with the seven in their Hitler heydays and was able to secure extracts from more than four hundred hitherto unpublished letters written by the seven in their cells. But the greatest part of my story came from inside Spandau itself—exactly how must remain my secret.
In presenting the intimate conversations of the seven prisoners, I am able to quote their actual words. Only in a few instances have the circumstances relating to certain discussions been altered simply for security reasons.
THESE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE WORLD’S MOST CLOSELY GUARDED PRISONER-WERE TAKEN SECRETLY AND SMUGGLED OUT OF THE FORTRESS OF SPANDAU
Some of the pictures on these pages were secretly taken inside Spandau.
It was on July 18, 1947, that the seven were taken to Spandau. At 4 a.m. they were awakened. Each was handcuffed to an American military policeman and hustled under heavy escort to a nearby airfield. Two and a half hours later, the strange cargo of war criminals landed in the British sector of Berlin. Black-curtained cars swiftly took them to No. 24 Wilhelmstrasse.
The choice of Spandau was poetic justice, for from 1933 it had been used as a collecting point for Nazi political prisoners on (heir way to concentration camps. It had been the scene of the sufferings of thousands of Hitler’s victims and still held the iron hooks upon which prisoners were strung up to die of strangulation by the “short rope’’ method favored by the Gestapo.
The seven, each walking a little ahead of a guard on either side, passed the military guardhouse and then the warders’ administration offices in which are kept the keys to the first section of the prison. The warders’ office is staffed by officers representing the four powers occupying Berlin.
Beyond the guardhouse the seven crossed a courtyard to a further steel door, then walked up twelve curling stone steps into the main prison building. On the left, at the top of the steps, was a door marked Kommandaturu, which opens into the office of the four prison directors who, in turn, govern the prison each month.
The prisoners were searched for any possible phials of poison that might have been smuggled into their possession during the journey. Goering’s sensational suicide was not forgotten.
On the Spandau Prison medical records the first entries were made, and the men then led back into the chief warder’s room. In perfect German, Chisholm, the Aberdeen-born chief British warder, said to them: “From now on, you will be known
only by numbers. These (indicating seven heaps of clothing on the table) are your clothes. They are numbered from one to seven. Number One! . .
Automatically, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess stepped forward. The man who astonished the world by parachuting into Britain with a “peace proposal’’ was still Number One to himself. With his dark skin, wavy black hair, thick shaggy eyebrows he looked more an Irishman than a Nazi Aryan as he stepped forward to receive his uniform. Ignoring this silent claim to leadership, Chief Warder Chisholm handed the first pile of clothes to blond blue-eyed Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach, who immediately began to put on the underwear, grey shirt, brown corduroy trousers and single-breasted jacket. A black dyed
U. S. Army overcoat, grey skull-cap, and straw sandals completed the outfit. Later, the sandals were exchanged for wooden clogs so that the guards could always hear the prisoners whenever they moved about. On the back of the jacket and on both trouser knee caps, the prisoner’s number his name, so to speak, until the day of release, or death was painted in glaring white.
Uniform No. 2 was handed to tall, lean, Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz who stepped forward, clicked his bare heels from force of habit, and took t he pile of clothes.
Baron Konstantin von Neurath became Prisoner No. 3; Grand Admiral Erich Raeder No. 4; Albert Speer No. 5; Walther Funk, No. 6.
1ERE TAKEN SECRETLY AND SMUGGLED OUT OF THE FORTRESS OF SPAHDAU
And last of all—No. 1was the allotted prison number for Hess. He took the clothes, his face sullen. He still talks with bitterness and resentment of his right as Deputy Führer to No. 1 uniform.
All their personal belongings, except family photographs, were taken away. Among the general pile of belongings French examining officers discovered American cigars and cigarettes. They were the regular prisoner-of-war issue in Nuremberg. “We never get any decent imported tobacco so
why should these lousy Nazis have any?” exclaimed one of the Frenchmen. The Russians agreed. So did the Americans and British. It was unanimously decided to confiscate the Nazis’ tobacco stocks.
The seven were then read sections of the Internal Security Regulations, which included this paragraph: “Prisoners are forbidden to speak to each
other, or their guards, other than a chief warder, without special permission.” The “silence rule,” at first rigidly enforced, later became a major four-power tension point at Spandau.
After the induction procedure the seven were marched into the inner cell block, an escape-proof
ninety-foot inner corridor. (See opposite page.)
Hess was led to the cell on the far left—what was intended to be his home for the rest of his natural life. The cell had been freshly painted. Eight feet long and five feet wide, it contained an army-type bed with a white linen-covered mattress supported by metal strips; a wooden chair; a wooden table, three feet long, so placed to enable the guard, inspecting the cell door through an eye-level spy grille, to see clearly the prisoner at the table. On the left of the door was a porcelain lavatory bowl. A wooden two-shelf contamer with soap and a white army towel was screwed to the wall. Heating came from four hot-water pipes. High, beyond reach, was a small heavily liarred window. Hess looked up at the glaring light above him a Liare bulb protected by an iron grille to prevent prisoners from removing it and attempting to electrocute themselves.
To make sure the prisoners cannot tap out messages to each other there is an empty cell on each side of every occupied cell. Anti-suicide checks are made every fifteen minutes, night and day, through the cell spy grilles. After lights out, surveillance is carried out with the aid of a lamp which hangs outside the door of each cell.
That first night, Doenitz, who knew that the'-" prison normally housed more than six hundred convicts at a time, decided, despite the no-talking rule, to ask a guard the question that was on his mind.
“Who else is in Spandau with us?” he enquired.
The guard hesitated, and then, feeling that this was one question he would be justified in breaking the rules to answer, replied: “There are no other
prisoners in Spandau but you seven. It’s all yours.”
Of the seven prisoners Hess soon proved himself to t>e the most trouldesome. Because he must for ever be trying to attract attention, always endeavoring to assert himself, it is not in the least surprising that he has received more punishment than any of his fellow criminals. Spandau’s daily logbook tells the story of his refractions, mostly for insolence and insul>ordination. Whenever Frau Hess fails to receive a letter from her husband she knows that, for the time being, he is unable to send or receive one and is being disciplined for some such incident as that which started one morning when the guard entered Hess’ cell to find him still in bed and apparently determined to stay there.
“Come on, get up.”
“No, I can’t, I’m ill.”
“Get up, Number Seven.”
Three times was the order repeated, but Hess made no attempt to rise. At last the guard called for assistance and the prisoner was hauled out of bed and marched out of his cell by force.
The incident was reported immediately to the four prison directors and, as a result, a punishment order was issued against Hess for wilful disobedience. For the next three days his bed was removed from the cell from first thing in the morning until lights out, so that the prisoner was deprived of any rest period. Only the wooden chair was allowed to remain. Reading was forbidden, and all books taken away.
Hess and his periodic “ailments” cause considerable trouble and his is the weightiest dossier in the prison’s medical files. He is a hypochondriac with a mania for “nature” cures, and his dossier is a case history for psychiatric investigation. Once he was cured of a “seizure” by an injection of nothing but plain sterile water.
To those Germans who scheme for the return of Hitlerian rule, Hess is a natural for a build-up as a magnetic enigma and a man of destiny. In January last year British Intelligence investigators interrogated a group of six Nazis who had been arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow the West German Government. They found that the plotters were actively considering Hess as the figurehead for a new Nazi regime. Former SS General Otto Skorzeny—-the man who rescued Mussolini after the defeat of Italy —had boasted, “Give me a hundred reliable men and two planes, and I can get Hess and the other sy*—put of Spandau. In the event of unexpected difficulties, Hess will be given escape priority.”
Hess has never ceased to regard himself as Deputy Führer. One morning as the prisoners were led to the washroom Baldur von Schirach edged over to the sink nearest the door. Hess moved to the same sink and pushed Von Schirach aside. “This is my sink !” he said.
“They are all sinks, so what does it matter who uses which?” exclaimed Von Schirach angrily. The other five prisoners watched and said nothing.
“This is the sink I shall always use, and as Deputy Führer, and senior among us, I have the first right and first choice of everything—even in prison!” shouted Hess. “That is what I wish and that is what it is going to be!” he asserted imperiously.
The guards were about to intervene when Von Schirach moved aside and Hess, using the perfumed soap his wife had been permitted to send him, began washing himself.
When Hess is angry the old Nazi arrogance and haughtiness quickly appears. Once when the seven were working in the prison garden a group of Allied inspecting officers noticed Hess standing apart from the others and sent a guard to discover the reason. The guard returned to inform the officers, “ Herr Hess feels, as Deputy Führer, that deputations should go to him and not he to them.”
Three times a week the seven go to the washroom, one at a time, to be shaved by the prison barber. And it is there that they go, two at a time, every Friday at 9 a.m. for a bath and to do their laundry. The “Friday Bath Forum” is a favorite conversational opportunity for the seven and they Look advantage of it even in the days when talking was forbidden. Almost from the very beginning they defied this rule.
On a typical Forum day Albert Speer manoeuvred his six-foot-two into one bath, while Hess, now more narrowchested and round-shouldered, got into the one opposite. “My wife tells me my boy is now very good at figures,” said Hess, opening the conversation. “He’s just like his father, although I could never really be bothered with figures. Perhaps Wolferl (his pet name for his son Wolf) will become an accountant or go into business. Or maybe he will become an engineer. 1 would like that because 1 nearly became one myself.”
Speer, not to be outdone, referred to the cello playing of his fifteen-yearold son Fritz. “1 think Wolferl will be musical too,” countered Hess. “When I was twelve years old in Alexandria, I and my brother had piano lessons from a German Fräulein. She was flabbergasted with my talent, which just goes to show that I should have become a composer. I ought to have done, then 1 might not now be sitting here. But maybe it wouldn’t have come to anything anyway, because my brain didn’t co-ordinate too well with my fingers, the distance from my brain to my fingers was too great.”
No Photographs, said Rudolf
This was no sudden flash of Hess humor. He is in fact devoid of any real sense of humor. Von Schirach says, “Hess has been known to make only one joke in his life, when he compared Germany with a hedgehog and her enemies as foxes. But even this touch of Teutonic humor was not his own; it originated from one of William Busch’s fables.”
Hess firmly believes that destiny has chosen him for a greater role than any he has yet played and that his day of freedom will come.
His pride is easily pricked. One day when one of the prison doctors called at his cell Hess, shoulders hunched, shuffled toward his visitor. “You don’t look much like a Deputy Führer nowadays,” said the doctor. Hess instantly straightened up, clicked his heels, and bowed.
“And how are you?” the doctor asked then. “Pains! Pains! In my belly. Bellyache!” Hess croaked. Every test on Hess—by now the most medically examined man in the world—has shown no sign of any physical ailment.
The prisoners are permit ted to keep eleven family photographs at a time in their cell. No one in Spandau seems to know why this figure was decided upon. But eleven it is, and on receipt of any new phot ographs, prisoners must surrender others in exchange.
“Why haven’t you any pictures of your family on the wall?” a doctor once asked Hess.
“No photographs,” said Hess shortly.
Ignoring the denial the doctor began a thorough search of the room. Under the mattress of the prisoner’s bed he found two photographs of Hess’ wife and son.
“Why don’t you put them on the wall?” he suggested.
The doctor knew he was prying into the mind of Hess. “You are to fix these photographs on the wall and that is an immediate order! And they are to stay there.”
Reluctantly and sullenly Hess obeyed. But the doctor was not finished with his probing.
“Why don’t you ever see your wife and son?” he began again. Hess throughout his entire imprisonment has never allowed them to visit him.
Hess looked down at his prison clothes, held open his jacket, and replied, “Not like this.”
In a letter to his wife on Sept. 2, 1946, he wrote, “I strictly refuse under the circumstances arranged here for visiting to come together with you or anybody else under conditions which
I consider undignified.” That was the reason he always gave the Spandau authorities, but there is much more to it than this simple excuse indicates. In an unguarded moment during one of my talks with her, Hess’ wife told me: “Rudolf has built a mental wall about himself as a protection against the strain he is under, but 1 know, and he knows, it is only a very thin wall. That is why he is afraid of my visiting him in Spandau. I might cry. The strain and emotion could be too much for both of us—we have not seen each other fora long, long time—and Rudolf
is afraid that my presence would smash his defenses.
“Once breached, a wall so thin might be beyond repair, and then God knows what would happen. His mind might go completely. And so he will not see me, nor our son. He cannot bear the thought of our boy seeing his father as a felon.”
It is not only the sight of his wife or son that Hess fears. Anything that is evocative, that reminds him of the past such as the simple beauty of music and flowers is an assault on his plaster-cast defenses. He is gravely disturbed even by the music that on Saturday afternoons comes from the chapel at the far end of the inner cell block.
The chapel is a double-sized cell, furnished with seven chairs, three religious pictures and an old harmonium. Every Saturday it echoes for almost an hour with the playing and raucous singing of Funk, Speer’s light baritone, and the voices of the other four. Hess is always absent, nor does be ever attend the services conducted by the French prison chaplain.
On special occasions, such as Christmas or Faster, the chaplain is permitted to give the prisoners a gramophone recital in the chapel. On April 4 last year Hess wrote to bis wife:
This afternoon we had an Easter concert. A Haydn symphony, a Schubert quartet, a Mozart quartet and another symphony—I don’t know its name, yet it was familiar to me and pierced the armor with which I have surrounded my soul and heart in the same way as cosmic rays cut through thick lead walls. Had it been possible I would have run away. But I was saved from being overcome by the noise of transport planes continually passing over the prison. The disturbance they caused interrupted my mood and annoyed me, which perhaps was strange for a former pilot.
From the time of his imprisonment in England Hess has always resisted any thorough medical examination of his mental state with the plea, “T cannot remember.” But. as be boastfully admitted one day to one of the medical officers at. Spandau, “To try to fool the doctors 1 became the ‘victim’ of mental blackouts. It was like grand opera all pretence. I would make out that 1 could not recollect who I was and this would go on for as long as I wanted it to. When I grew tired of the ‘attack’ 1 would then remember my name and would gaze around with astonished eyes in the realization that I had returned to the world from which I had retreated. 1 am certain but for this—my acting ability—I would have been sentenced to death.”
Like many contradictory characters Hess’ moral outlook and philosophical beliefs are based on time and circumstance. For instance, when he heard that a child had been born on the wrong side of the blankets to a friend of the family, who had been left in the lurch, he was „uil of indignation and censure. Funk reminded him of an offer he had made in the winter of 1939 when, as Deputy Führer, he had said that he was prepared to be the godfather to the illegitimate children of soldiers killed in the war and had declared, “We are no longer concerned with antiquated, man-made traditions and principles of morality.” Yet here was Hess now writing to his wife on the subject of delinquent lovers and premarital chastity:
If my son Wolf would do what this young man did and produce offspring without my knowing it, so to speak behind my back, and not tell me because of pure cowardice there would be a hell of a lot of trouble. If the said son however came and confessed, I obviously would put on • a stern face and say. “Couldn’t you wait a little?” and “Couldn’t you consider the traditional sequence, marry first and then produce children, you son-of-a-gun? However, now that it has happened I demand gentlemanly behavior, also an immediate wedding ..
Nettled one day by Hess’ vain recollections of his past, Speer asked him, “You know what Hitler said about you?”
“I don’t know and I don’t want to know,” was the angry retort.
He was well aware, of course, that after his abortive flight to Scotland Hitler had declared that Hess was insane and had forbidden any further mention of his name in newspapers or over the radio. All hospitals, streets and squares named after him were ordered to he changed, and even his Nazi membership card was removed from the Reich index.
“Germany Will Be Reborn’’
Yet Hess still professes a tender regard for the memory of Hitler. “My loyalty to the Führer was not impaired by the measures he took against me,” he says, “and it is still as great as ever it was. I am sure that Hitler afterward approved my action although I had failed to consult him about it. My wife in one of her letters to me told me that whenever any suggestion was made that I had been guilty of traitorous conduct Hitler became angry and said he was convinced of the purity of my motives.”
Today Hess declares he now knows how mistaken was the whole idea of Nazi racial ideology. He asserts that the Nazis in attempting to destroy class barriers succeeded only in substituting a system of racial discrimination that was far worse. “But despite our mistakes,” he promises, “Germany will he reborn in all its power and glory and fulfil the destiny of our race.” Although Hess most frequently complains of his health, Walther Funk, the financial wizard who showed Hitler how to wage war without money, is the sickest man in Spandau. Fat and bald, Funk is now paying dearly for the riotous life he led for so many years. Once he ate the finest food in Europe, now he eats the monotonous simple Spandau fare. At breakfast the prisoners get porridge and milk, sometimes an egg, and black coffee. At 10 a.m. another mug of coffee goes to the cells. For lunch there is a bowl of meat and vegetable soup, black bread and a pat of butter, and an apple—always an apple. Supper is usually a repeat of breakfast.
Women, food and drink are still the favorite topics of conversation of this old roué, who now professes to be deeply religious and plays Bach on the worn prison chapel harmonium with the touch of a concert pianist. Funk delights in giving the young Spandau guards and his fellow prisoners advice about women, telling them about Berlin haunts and hot spots, and singing obscene songs of which he has an inexhaustible repertoire.
“What wonderful parties I used to have,” he recalls, his thick sensuous lips smiling at the memory of them. “Everybody who mattered came. We had the best wines, the finest champagne, nothing but the best. And they were real parties, they lasted all night. I used to eat too much, drink too much, and there were of course plenty of girls. They were the best, too. We had dancing girls—’’and Funk laughs with relish at his memories.
“I always did well with the women,” he says boastfully to his guards. “French women, ah!” and Funk throws a kiss in the air. “But Egyptian women. Perfect!”
Funk pays heavily for his old depravities. His nerves are strung taut: he cannot stand noise, or the impact of too much light, and needs frequent morphia and cocaine injections to ease his suffering. To enable him to sleep at all he has to take a heavy dosage of sleeping tablets. He suffers from a persistent and maddening migraine headache, and spends part of his days and the nights on which he is unable to find rest cursing and screaming at the guards in German, French, English and Russian. And how he hates the Russians! They in turn despise the ex-financial juggler more than his fellows, and they infuriate him by carrying out one particular Spandau regulation to the letter. It calls for a guard to flash a light through the spyhole of each cell throughout the night as a security measure.
And for Funk the light flicks on every fifteen minutes, every night, all night. He storms, rages and bangs on the cell door yelling, “Dirty Russian pig!”—“Dirty Russian pig!” but the lights continue to flash.
British, American and French medical officers are powerless to alter this security measure which the Russians insist on. The question of lights is regularly raised at the Spandau directors’ four-power meetings, but the Russians always say, “It is the rule to switch on.” The only alternative was to give Funk enough sleeping tablets to knock him out. But these do not work on some occasions. The inevitable happened. One night Funk’s nerves cracked.
In his customary manner he had been yelling and complaining about the noise and the lights preventing him from sleeping, when the French guard on duty decided to go to his cell. The guard unlocked the door and went in.
The fat body of Funk hurled itself at the rash visitor, knocking him to the floor. A raging, screaming animal, so it appeared, then grasped the guard’s neck striving to choke the life out of him. Gasping for breath, the Frenchman somehow managed to unlock the grip on his throat, but Funk, with the strength of madness, lifted him up and threw him bodily out of the ceU.
Other guards rushed to the rescue and pinioned Funk while aid was summoned. The crazed prisoner was then given a shot in the arm and quietened.
Funk, who was once a journalist, still has a facile pen. One night he decided to tell his family—and all the world—what a night was like for the prisoners. Before he finished he had, in a sense, told the whole story of Spandau:
A GHOST SONATA IN A PRISON CELL
by Walther Funk
My thoughts threaten to throttle me, and I have to pull them out of my soul.
What a human being has to suffer when the soul is crucified and sick nerves teased can only be judged by someone like me who has been in prison for years.
Yet I think somehow they all like me and even feel genuinely sorry for me, but there are those rules and regulations for the treatment of prisoners to which warders and guards have to conform. Again and again, some have tried to ease my plight, but what remained was still enough to destroy more and more my strength for life.
The French doctors who treat me do their best to ease my pains with injections, but the nightly noise, and the “Firework of Hell”—the lighting of the cells from outside and inside — robs me of sleep even though I pack cotton wool into my ears and use a dark cloth over my eyes.
I wake from the noises outside my cell, and when the light is put on I can’t fall asleep again. I feel like the blind of whom it is said, “They feel the moonlight on their hands and hear snowflakes falling.” When the heavy iron door at the entrance of the hall leading to the cells is banged—in one night I counted twenty-eight such bangs—I have a bad pain in my eyes as if a knife had been thrust into them.
It says in the regulations that every fifteen or thirty minutes at night a light must be shone into the cells and that warders must patrol up and down checking whether we are still alive. These marching steps we hear all night through the little barred window in the cell door which must remain open. We also hear the conversation of the warders and every sound multiplies in the cell corridor.
The healthier of my comrades don’t suffer so much from the night disturbances. Only Doenitz and Von Sehirach frequently complain of sleeplessness through light and noise. Like myself, Doenitz, who endures rheumatic pains, has a notice on the board of his cell stating, “No Noise” and “Switch on Ught only if necessary.” But the warders do not always strictly follow,these medical orders.
Hess, who sometimes suffers from mental disturbances and acute hysterical pains, once had to spend a fortnight in the dark cell, the only furniture of which was a chair. But certain directors have tried hard to ease rules and regulations, in particular the American director.
It is now ten o’clock at night. The trumpeter blows the last call from across the barracks. Warningly, sadly, devotionally, sounds the bugle. All summer the young bugler painfully but conscientiously practiced. Now he can blow it like Young Siegfried.
The light at my cell door is switched off, only to be switched on again in fifteen minutes. Now the searchlights of the guards on the prison walls outside play against the window and
through the glass onto the cell walls.
The orders of the changing guards bark through the night, but though it is night, with the light through the little window in the cell door, one can still see everything in the cell’s dim light.
Now the ghosts of the night will come, knocking, tapping, marching up and down, all part of Spandau’s strange ghost sonata.
It is twelve o’clock—midnight. Now starts the actual hour of the ghosts. But it is not easy for my ghosts, for my cell grows neither dark nor is it quiet enough for them.
The control clock in the cell corridor buzzes its half hourly signal, and midnight is the signal for the change of nations among the groups of warders. Russians hand over to Americans, Britons change with the French, or vice versa. All this happens with much talk, rattling of keys, closing of heavy iron doors, and either the retiring guard or the new one, or sometimes both, shine the light into my cell, while the head guard on his inspection looks into my cell once more.
My hearing is as sharp as that of a dachshund. I know the various warders. There are about thirty of them. I know not only their voices, their coughs, whistling and humming but also their steps, the way they sit down or play with the keys, or how they put or throw them on to the table.
I belong to those happy and yet unhappy beings born to love. I cannot hate. I cannot hate a single human being. Hate is nothing but an inferiority complex. I looked always only for the beautiful, the goodness in men, and that was my downfall. Doing favors can become a plague.
Visiting days are the great, feast days of the year here. Before a visit all our thoughts and feelings are keyed up for the great day. How much one has to tell and to ask, but most things remain unsaid because of the lack of time. The highly strung soul of a prisoner is overwhelmed during such visits. Conversation during a visit is carried on at a tremendous speed in order to be able to talk and ask as much as possible, but memories chase each other and become confused. Sometimes memory stops and one tries in vain to remember a name one used to know quite well.
But the wire fence between the prisoner and visitor in the visiting room is depressing on such a day of celebration. A fence like this I remember having seen as a measure of protection in the Aquarium against poisonous reptiles in the zoo.
After my operation in October 1949 an official of the French High Commission came to see me in the prison hospital room to enquire after my health. This official gave me permission for a special letter to be sent to my wife telling her about the successful operation. How grateful I must be for the outstanding operation of the great French surgeon. Yes, the French doctor, and the professionally excellent, tender nurse, were an oasis of human kindness and culture in this desert .
Generally the improvement in my health continues. I now receive two drugs of an interesting character. What they really do here to keep me alive!
1 dozed awhile and have just had an unpleasant dream. I pulled out my hair—fistfuls of it—and yet, in reality, 1 am bald. And in another part of my dream 1 played cards with the Americans—with Attorney-General Jackson and Judge Biddle. I think it was a game of poker. I lost heavily. Bad luck in dreams is supposed to bring luck in life. Yet I always said “Twenty-two” whenI should have called “Twentyone.” Why was I condemned to such a sentence?
Now the eerie sound of the owl is mixing with the nightly concert of the ghosts of Spandau. The owls, like the falcons, are nesting in the walls and towers of the prison. Together with the crows and rooks, they haunt this place. Once we unsettled one of the eerie fellows when we had to clean the corridors of this large prison building in readiness for an inspection by officers of the Occupying Powers.
It is tioNv 6 a.m. and the bugler calls reveille. The full light is switched on. Keys are rattling in the cell door. Time to get up for washing. I need ten minutes to pull myself together. My head is buzzing, my eyes burn.
And so the day arrives oh! that it wotdd be over.
FUNK WAS NOT PERMITTED to send this to his Nvife. It mentioned too many subjects whose mention is forbidden in Spandau letters. Shortly after it was written he told two nursing orderlies a yarn involving Hess, himself and Richard Strauss, the composer.
“Do you know,” he asked Hess, “that one night Strauss kept an audience of thousands waiting for him to appear as conductor of a symphony concert while he played whist with a friend and myself? There we were in evening dress, tucked into a little room behind the concert platform, and Strauss wouldn’t leave for anybody until the hand was played out. What’s more, we were back at the game as soon as the interval was reached.”
Hess, who is always easy meat for this kind of fairy tale, stared in amazement as lu; listened to Funk’s romancing. “You know,” said Funk, shaking with laughter, “he was completely taken in. Not a doubt of it. Hess is really the living proof that the insane, the drunk and the childish are always protected by God. When you think of Hess and his impossible ways, it shows what irresponsible people once ruled Germany.”
Six-foot-two Albert Speer, the only one of the Spandau seven who unreservedly admits his guilt, still works and plans for the future. Always on the table in his pastel-green distempered cell, with its family pictures around the walls, is an architect’s set-square, drawing block, and an untidy pile of drawings and blueprints.
During the afternoon rest period, and every night after supper until lights out at ten o’clock, Speer busies himself with drawings and designs for industrial buildings, blocks of flats, houses, stadiums and streets and highways for the Germany of tomorrow. “Ï must keep on working and storing up ideas Nvhile my brain is still fertile so that I can earn something for my family as soon as I get out,” Speer says. “Amer'ca would be the best place for us to go, that’s where the money is.”
To the staff at Spandau, Speer is the most intelligent, the most outstanding personality of the seven. He strives to extract humor from every possible situation. When the duty director makes his routine morning visit to the men, each cell is opened in turn, and with Speer inspection time is a social occasion. Immediately his visitor arrives Speer stands up, and, in his deep voice, says slowly and distinctly: “Do come into my office. Have a chair. I’m sorry there’s no whisky and soda. Now what can I do for you today, dear chap?” No one ever sits down in response to his invitation, but this doesn’t discourage him from making the offer.
When given a pair of army spectacles to ease the eyestrain of his work, he read the printed notice on the box giving advice on how to wear them with a respirator and instantly he called the guard demanding a “respirator for his spectacles.” So insistent did he become that he nearly had the harassed guard believing that this type of spectacle could only be used with a respirator.
Though Speer is a good mixer, he and Baldur von Shirach don’t hit it off together. When he was questioned about this hostility by a senior officer Speer said, “Sir, there are quarrels in
the best of families,” which was, of course, a sly dig at the constant dissension between the Allied directors of tlu; prison.
But sometimes the mask slips from his face as the loneliness of' his life opens before him like an enormous wound and, in anguish, he turns to one of his fellow criminals and asks, “Is it possible that they will let us out before our time? Life here is becoming an endless agony.”
Recalling the past, Speer once said, “It is perhaps hard to understand, but Hitler really did have an almost hypnotic personality and mastery of the power of suggestion, although that is no excuse for the criminal blunders of myself and the others.
“I should have spoken my mind to Hitler years ago. When I woke up and realized he was destroying the future I ought to have kicked the bastard in the pants or killed him. But I did neither.”
End of a “Boy Scout”
Speer was once asked by Dcenitz why he had failed to carry out the Fiihrer’s scorched-earth policy when Germany faced defeat. He answered: “Because one maniac in the country was enough.”
According to Speer he was actually plotting to kill Hitler in the fall of 1944. The liquidation of the Führer was to be accomplished by infiltrating poison gas through the air-conditioning plant of the underground bunker that Hitler occupied in Berlin, and where he spent the last hours of his life. The plan was knocked sideways when a protective chimney was built around the ventilation funnel and no further opportunity presented itself.
That is Speer’s story and he sticks to it, but even his closest friends remain sceptical.
When Baldur von Schirach, the Hitler Youth Leader, arrived at Spandau to begin his twenty-year term, he said, “I am surprised. I thought they were going to hang me.” The aristocratic Von Schirach, who insists he is “a product of the Boy Scout movement,” carries on his cell table pictures of his daughter and his three sonsbut no photograph of his wife, Henriette.
She divorced him in October 1950.
Two months earlier she had written him this letter:
Have you ever once asked yourself how Nve manage to exist? Have you at any time, instead of sitting in your cell studying philosophy, Latin. French, writing poetry and thinking how to straighten out your position in history, as you call it, actually faced reality and wondered where the next meal was coming from for your wife and children?
You have isolated yourself from everything and everyone, your head is forever in the clouds as it almost always has been from the day of our marriage. As the years went by I realized more than ever that your idealistic obsessions and dreams wentaking you farther and farther from me and the children.
Remember that day in 1943 when 1 came to Berchtesgaden after staying with some friends in Amsterdam, and the copy of a Life magazine 1 bought on my way back through Lisbon? I showed it to Hitler, who, as you know, hardly ever saw any foreign publication. I pointed out to him a feature in the magazine written about the war and its inhumanities.
Do you remember what happened? You were in the room at the time. Hitler blew up and told me, “You people must learn to hate, all of you. You are much too sentimental.”
I could see that in y presence irked the Führer, and as 1 made to leave Martin Bormann walked over and put on a record to soothe Hitler’s nerves. When 1 reached the staircase I heard the blare of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and, suddenly, the certainty canuto me that those whose company I had just left, and you were among them, were doomed, finished absolutely.
When you joined me later, I told you of my premonition and what I thought. You called me a fool who didn’t understand that today’s world was a world of men hard men. I was always the fool. I never understood.
Then, when Hitler’s Germany crashed in ruins around us, I fully expected you to ask me to take poison Nvith you, as did Goebbels svith his wife and children. Our best friend, Colin Ross (an American renegade author who worked for the Nazis during the war) said “I played the wrong hand and now I must take the consequences.” Then Colin dug his own grave in the garden of our home in Urfeüdt and shot himself in our sitting room.
I buried him myself after wrapping him in the canvas of his favorite tent, and it was then that I was ready to face death with you. Your answer to me was, “I cannot take my life. First I must make my place and my work clear in history.” As always, you would not face facts. Had I taken poison, it would have saved me untold suffering in my fight to live and keep my children alive. I have expressed my feelings so many times before to you, but you have always preferred to ignore them as being distasteful. Reality has always been distasteful to you.
ALMOST AS a postscript Henriette von Schirach finished off her letter with, “I imend to divorce you immediately.”
Von Schirach never replied to this letter, nor did he ever write to his wife again.
For days on end he hardly spoke to anyone, until one morning a duty officer visited Von Schirach’s cell on a routine checkup.
“Any complaints?” he asked as usual.
“My nerves are upset,” said Von Schirach, “and I have terrible migraine headaches. T think my condition is due solely to a letter I have received from my wife. She is divorcing me. Everything’s gone now, everything is finished.”
The officer had already been told of Von Schirach’s domestic disaster by the prison censor. “I’ll see you get something for your headaches,” said the visitor.
“Thank you, hut it’s not pills I want,” urged Von Schirach in flawless English. “Some cyanide would he much more helpful. My family and friends 'will see you are paid well, and in advance, if you give me a hand to 'get hold of a phial.”
“Don’t be a fool. My job is to keep you alive not to kill you,” answered the visitor as he walked out of the cell.
Any Jews in the Kitchen?
When Von Schirach said he could pay well, he meant it. For since he entered Spandau he and his sister Rosalinde have inherited a large family fortune, most of it in American gilt-edged securities. The inheritance was taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property in the United States, hut it will continue to grow until Von Schirach is free to claim his share. He has refused point blank to allow his ex-wife any of the money to use in bringing up his children.
Although Von Schirach and Speer don’t get along they share a common interest in Hess.
“Hess and his mania about being poisoned,” asserts Von Schirach, “is enough to drive anyone mad. I remember on one occasion at Nuremberg when he told me not to eat the biscuits with which we had been served because he believed they had been impregnated with a drug. . One day in the garden in Spandau Hess said to me: ‘Are you sure there are no Jews employed on the kitchen staff of the prison? There may be one of them on the staff who is acting for international Jewry and putting poison in my food on their instructions.’ ”
Von Schirach recalls that Hess once asked whether the vegetables the prisoners ate were artificially grown. He said the reason he asked was that for years he had followed a strict rule about not eating vegetables grown with artificial fertilizers. He even used to have a greengrocer deliver special vegetables cultivated only with natural manure.
“This man Hess,” Von Schirach says, “has never been other than what he
is today. It is really strange that he of all persons should have been deemed worthy to be Hitler’s second-in-command. And then, of course, there was always Goering the drug addict—what a bloody fine pair they made!”
At 10.30 every morning the weather permits, four blue-uniformed guards lead the seven prisoners from their cells to a steel door at the far end of the inner cell block. The door is unlocked, and in single file, preceded and followed by their escort, the seven descend a narrow winding stone stairway to yet another steel door below. Beyond is the Garden of Eden, as the prisoners have named it, after Britain’s Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden.
On a typical day as the seven stepped into the spacious garden they instinctively glanced at the sky for t heir friends the birds who make their home in Spandau’s trees, winging and wheeling their way up and over the wall. Spades and rakes were quickly handed out and the prisoners headed for the vegetable plots they work individually.
Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, watering can in hand, joined the eighty-yearold Baron Konstantin von Neurath; Baldur von Schirach paired with seventy - seven - year - old Grand Admiral Erich Raeder; Walther Funk walked up and down awhile muttering and grumbling to himself, before moving over to Von Neurath and Doenitz; Albert Speer headed for his tomato bed. Rudolf Hess immediately engaged in his favorite gardening pastime, the doubtful comfort of the nearest wheelharrow on which to stretch out and sleep for an hour or so.
Tall and heavily built, Von Neurath of the duel-scarred cheek is the only one among the seven who really understands gardening. Always courteous, rarely complaining and belonging to a different world and generation from that of his companions, Von Neurath commands the respect of prisoners, guards and administration staff by his calm acceptance of his punishment.
Von Neurath’s grave heart condition is a daily anxiety and in the garden a nursing orderly watches him constantly. As he works there, Von Neurath often over-exerts himself, then suddenly stiffens and holds out his arm for support. Slowly, aided by Doenitz and Speer, he lowers himself to the ground and sits there while the nurse breaks one of the Trinitrin capsules always available for these emergencies. Sniffing the capsule Von Neurath rests until he is sufficiently recovered from his heart attack.
Repeatedly doctors warn him not to work in the garden or even to wash his own clothes, but his answer is always, “One must work.” Whenever he feels he is in danger—the warning is a tightness in his chest—he has special permission to lie or sit regardless of where he is.
It is around Von Neurath’s silverhaired close-cropped head that Spandau’s greatest political controversies have raged. From time to time British, American and French officials have unsuccessfully tried to get him transferred to a hospital. But the Russians refuse point-blank to discuss a transfer.
When Von Neurath talks in the garden of Spandau, the other six listen. “If we didn’t have Von Neurath we would all go crazy, he is so practical,” says Speer.
And to the six, Von Neurath advises: “Think much hut say little. Feel much, hut show little.”
Everybody stops to listen when Von Neurath harks back to the old days, for he once moved in exalted circles. He always represented the Nazis at events outside Germany and attended the funeral of King George V.
In spite of the ban on newspapers the seven manage to learn something about what is happening in the world outside and Von Neurath was greatly affected by the news of the death of Queen Mary; that day he had a severe hear: attack. When he had recovered, and for many days afterward, he could talk of nothing else but the royal lady with whom he and his wife had grown up.
“When I was a boy,” he recalls, “I remember the Princess Elizabeth von Teck arriving with her daughter Mary at Ludwigsborg Castle (near Stuttgart). I can still see the old Princess wearing what had just become the lates: fashion, a tailor-made costume of black barathea which buttoned right down the bodice with a hundred pearl buttons.
“The Princess was very large and buxom, and I remember the girls in the castle trying to guess the exact number of buttons on her bodice. She took a keen interest in the young ladies’ dancing lessons in the great hall at Ludwigsborg, but Mary was unable to take part because of a bereavement she had not long suffered by the death of her fiance, the Duke of Clarence. She was dressed entirely in black, and her appearance, together with the fact that she had lost a sweetheart at that early age, made her in the eyes of fhany, a romantically tragic figure.
“My father was Lord Chamberlain to the King of Württemberg and I was accordingly presented to Mary. But for my father and I there might never have been a Queen Mary to rule England for so long. Late one evening, when I was seventeen, on arriving at Stuttgart Castle we were horrified to see the flicker of fire from one of the castle bedrooms. We rushed to the room and burst in to find the curtains ablaze from a petrol lamp and young Mary, asleep, unaware of her danger. We roused and escorted her to safety and then returned to put out the flames. Castle officials agreed that but for the fortunate discovery of the fire Mary might have been burned to death.”
Years later Von Neurath, who married Marie Moser von Filseck of Würt-
temberg, met Mary again in London. It was at a reception held by King George V and the Queen at Buckingham Palace early in 1930, soon after the Baron had presented his credentials as the new German ambassador.
“All the gentlemen were presented first,” said Von Neurath, telling the story to Speer, “and when it came to my turn, Queen Mary exclaimed, ‘Surely it is not little Konstantin!’ ”
Von Neurath says, “Perhaps if I had listened to Queen Mary I wouldn’t be in Spandau today. She had a premonition that my career was going awry when I was called back to Germany from London by Hindenburg.”
The Grand Admirals of Spandau, Erich Raeder and Karl Doenitz, are still at war—with each other . . .
The First Man Out
Erich Raeder was sacked by Hitler in January 1943 from ms post of Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, and replaced by the newly promoted Grand Admiral Doenitz, his critic for many years and the rival chiefly responsible for undermining his authority. Now the two men are together in a jail where they cannot avoid daily contact. Soon after he reached Spandau, Raeder asked that his life sentence be changed to execution hy firing squad as “an act of mercy.” His petition was rejected and he now runs the prison library.
To hear Doenitz talk of his plans when Spandau opens its gates for him (his sentence of ten years makes him the shortest-term prisoner there) one would get the impression that the martial fires within him had long since been damped forever.
Tall, lean and thin-lipped, the man said to have been chosen by Hitler, athis last gasp, to be President of the Third Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces will tell to anyone who cares to listen, “I want to care for children, orphans and those in need—I think I shall start a kindergarten, a mixed one for puppies as well as children.”
This belated paternalism isn’t, per-
haps, quite so coy as it appears to be j at first sight, particularly when it is j recalled that no one among Hitler’s cohorts labored more ruthlessly than did Grand Admiral Doenitz to fill the world with orphans. “Kill and keep on killing,” he exhorted his submarine commanders. “Remember, no survivors. Humanity is a weakness.”
For all his disarming chatter about children and puppies Doenitz remains unrepentant and Spandau’s most dangerous character; dangerous because he is a Nazi by every unnatural instinct; dangerous because prison has blunted j neither his ambitions nor destroyed his belief that he is ordained to lead Germany back to the fold—the masterrace fold.
Doenitz’ enmity toward Britain and his refusal to acknowledge his country’s defeat have endeared him to what has become known as the “Doenitz Brigade,” a powerful and influential organization dedicated to hoisting him into the saddle as the new Führercum-saviour. Among its members are no fewer than thirty-six of the Grand Admiral’s former U-boat commanders.
Already the Doenitz “legend” is alive in Hamburg, Kiel, Düsseldorf, Munich and Western Berlin. He is Der Löwe (The Lion), and true-blue Nazis ask, “How soon will he be out to lead us the way we want to go?” It isn’t a question that can be answered wit h any certainty. Actually there are three possible dates on which Doenitz’ senj tenee could be deemed by the authorij ties to have ended. They are: Either May or autumn of 1955, or October, 1956. It really depends on whether Doenitz’ sentence is to be regarded as having begun from the moment of his arrest at Flensburg on May 23, 1945, or in the autumn of the same year when he was transferred to Nuremberg for trial, or in October 1946, when he was sentenced.
Now that the biggest part of his sentence is behind him Doenitz can watch the calendar knowing that when his time is up many will be awaiting his return to society as Hitler’s successor and ready to back him in a bid for power.
Every Sunday afternoon in Spandau the seven men sit down in their cells to write a letter home—letters that must pass a rigid censorship. This is their only official contact with the world outside the prison walls.
Both Doenitz and Hess—the two claimants to Hitler’s mantle—write many letters with an obvious eye on future autobiographies, or biographies. Hess carefully injects his stiff letters to the wife and son he has not seen for thirteen years with phrases of patriotism and guidance for the faithful who still regard him as the “Führer of Tomorrow.” He often writes about his idol, Napoleon, and by inference suggests an affinity between them.
But, in ending one letter to his wife, who lives in a town called Gailenberg, his inner thoughts escaped his selfimposed discipline as the silent and enigmatic Hess. Following a discussion of supernatural phenomena he added two emotional and poignant lines that revealed his longing for the days of his glory. They also contained a measure of the lament of all the Seven Men of Spandau:
“Oh that I could be a ghost among you at Gailenberg, and with my men of days gone by.” ★
In the next issue a second installment of Jack Fishman’s report will tell the story of the Women of Spandau—the wives who have never ceased waiting and working for the release of their men. In expanded form these excerpts will later be published in a book, The Seven Men of Spandau, by W. H. Allen, London.