S.S. general Hans Kammler was head of construction and defence projects
He planned forced labour factories at Auschwitz and secret V-2 rocket plants
Officially he committed suicide near Prague on May 9, 1945
But a new documentary has suggested his suicide was faked by the Americans who wanted his secrets of Hitler's weapon programme
By ALLAN HALL IN BERLIN
The blood of thousands on his hands, SS General Hans Kammler killed himself in 1945 in the dying days of Hitler’s Germany. That, at least, was his official fate. The man steeped in the horrors of the death camps had met his just deserts. However, it is now claimed that Kammler survived the war, spirited away to America and given a new identity by the US authorities.
For the general wasn’t just an expert in the technicalities of industrial scale slavery and slaughter, he was also deeply involved in the Nazis’ secret weapons programme. The Americans, according to a TV documentary, were determined to have his know-how and not let him fall into the hands of the Russians.
Both the US and the Soviet Union tried to recruit Hitler’s scientists after the war to help with their own space and military programmes. But it is claimed that Kammler’s record was so monstrous that his death had to be faked and he had to have a new identity.
‘The whole history of suicide is staged,’ said Berlin historian Rainer Karlsch. ‘There are several documents that clearly demonstrate that Kammler was captured by the Americans.’
Another expert, Matthias Uhl of the German Historical Institute in Moscow, said: ‘The reports from America are more credible than those given about the alleged suicide by Kammler’s associates.’
Born in 1901, by the end of the Second World War Kammler was almost as powerful as SS Chief Heinrich Himmler and armaments Minister Albert Speer. He had access to the Nazi’s most advanced technology including the ‘weapons of retaliation’ – the V1 and V2 rockets that caused death and destruction in Britain, but came too late to turn the tide of the conflict.
Kammler designed and built the crematoria at Auschwitz which incinerated most of the bodies of the estimated 1.2 million people murdered at the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland
Kammler was also responsible for the construction of the so-called 'weapons of retaliation' - the V-1s and V-2s that caused tremendous death and destruction in Britain, but which came too late to turn the tide of the conflict in Germany's favour. Pictured, left, are soldiers of the US Army at Bomskirchen, Germany, inspecting a captured V-2 bomb and, right, a German V-2 rocket taking off
He was also involved in the construction of death camps, including the design of the crematoria at Auschwitz which incinerated most of the bodies of the estimated 1.2million people murdered at the camp in occupied Poland.
The history books say that, one day after the Third Reich surrendered on May 9, 1945, he either shot himself or took poison in the former German city of Stettin, now Szcecin in Poland. His body was never found.
‘This whole story of suicide was staged by two of his closest aides who were committed to him,’ Karlsch tells ZDF TV in Germany.
At the war’s end America, while taking part in the punishment of many top Nazis at the Nuremberg trials, also launched the covert Operation Paperclip – the secret exit of top Nazi scientists.
ZDF says in the documentary: ‘Sources say that Kammler was captured by the Americans and interrogated by the US Counterintelligence CIC. The secret service man responsible was Donald Richardson, a personal confidant of allied supreme commander General Dwight D Eisenhower.’
The sons of the secret service man told programme makers that their father was in charge of the German weapons expert after 1945.
One of them, John Richardson, said: ‘This engineer brought a special treasure from the Third Reich into the United States. He offered modern weapons for us.
‘It was put to my father that he should bring this “useful” German into the United States to prevent him from falling into the hands of the Russian intelligence service.’
It is not revealed under what name Kammler lived or when he died, though some archival material speaks of a ‘special guest’ living under Richardson’s wing.