Hitler's Third Reich and World War Two in the News

Death of Martin Bormann

End of the Third Reich and the Nazi Leaders

What happened to the leading figures of the Third Reich? How and when their stories come to an end? And what kind of an end it was?


Martin Bormann

Gray eminence - Bureaucratic power behind the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.
Head of the Party Chancellery, Private Secretary to Adolf Hitler.

Date of death: 1945-05-02, age 44.
Cause of death: Suicide - A potassium cyanide capsule.
Remains: Cremated and scattered over the Baltic Sea on 1999-08-16.

During the last years of the Third Reich Bormann held so much power that many historians think he was the most powerful man in the Third Reich. He controlled access to the Nazi dictator, the Nazi Party, the Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry (a huge fund of contributions made by successful business entrepreneurs). He truly was a "secret leader", because most Germans were not even aware of his existence.

Before his suicide Hitler urged Bormann to save himself. Bormann left the Führerbunker on 1945-05-01, after Hitler's suicide. After the war there were many contradictory reports about his whereabout.

Escape attempt - Bormann, Stumpfegger, Axmann, and others followed the railway line to the Lehrter Station. From there Bormann and Stumpfegger decided to follow the Invalideinstrasse eastwards. Axmann went to west, but encountered a Russian patrol and returned on the path Bormann and Stumpfegger had taken. Axmann soon found them behind the bridge, where the Invalidienstrasse crossed the railway, they lay on their backs, the moonlight on their faces. Both were dead. Axmann could see no signs of an explosion, and assumed that they had been shot in the back.

In the early days of May 1945 Berlin Postal Employees were forced to bury two bodies (Bormann and Stumpfeggers). One of these postal employees also found Bormann's pocket diary in the leather SS overcoat of the "small stocky" one, which he turned over to the Soviet authorities - it was published by the Soviet historian and former Intelligence officer Lev Bezymenski. The spot (pointed out by one of the Postal employees) where the bodies had lain, before moved to the burial site, was the exact spot where Axmann had testified to having last seen them.

In 1972 construction workers uncovered human remains in the Ulap Fairgrounds near the Reichstag building in West Berlin. Dental records - reconstructed from memory in 1945 - studied by dental expert Dr. Reidar Sognnaes identified the skeleton as Bormann's. In 1998 a DNA examination was conducted by Professor Wolfgang Eisenmenger, using blood from Bormann’s children Eisenmenger was able to conclude that the skeleton was Martin Bormann. He also determined the cause of death to be self inflicted cyanide poisoning.

"My darling girl, Unfortunately this earth is not a fairy-land, but a struggle for life, perfectly natural and therefore extremely harsh. All the same, or precisely for this reason, it is happiness and comfort for us men to have a precious sweetheart -- and I have the most precious, the dearest and best of all!"
- Martin Bormann

"Films and gramophone records, music, books and buildings show clearly how vigorously a man's life and work go on after his death, whether we feel it or not, whether we are aware of the individual names or not. There is no such thing as death according to our view!"
- Martin Bormann


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