THE SINS OF THE FATHERS:
Never Forgotten, Rarely Forgiven
(Hitler with Martin Bormann's children)
Do the genes of our fathers somehow allow the success and shame of our lives to co-exist in each of us, thereby influencing our dreams and later decisions. Who knows.
The children featured in the following article would experience much concerning this dilemma and disgrace that was placed upon them at birth, and perhaps, some of that pain still exists, even today, all of these years later.
(Used with courtesy of Harry Von Gebhardt)
Edda "Sunshine" Goering arrived in 1938 and on that day of her announced arrival, the bells of Hitler's Germany rang out in joyous unison, why it was almost a public holiday and quickly souvenir postcards were designed and sold in shops, stations and art galleries.
Today she divides her time between homes in South Africa and Munich, which she shared with her late mother, Emmy until her death in 1973. She never married and may have practiced the law.
Today she rarely grants interviews, however in 1986, she recalled fondly: "I still feel bound to my parents by a great love. I have my parent's love and kindness to thank for my wonderful childhood. I feel very moved when I think of the way my father took care of me.
I have good memories of him. He was a good father to me and I have always missed him." (Edda Goering seems to have closed the door firmly, concerning her father's dubious Nazi deeds and instead concentrated on her own life and all that its future can offer her.)
Reinhard Heydrich (named "the butcher of Prague") fathered three children by his wife, Lina, all born in Berlin. (There were later rumours, it seems, of another daughter by his mistress.) The eldest Heydrich child was Klaus, who would be tragically killed in an accident outside of the family country estate at Breschan nr. Prague in 1943. Little Klaus was just 10 years old.
Reports are conflicting on who or what caused this unexplained accident. One theory has it that it was a returning football team who swerved to avoid little Klaus. The other more accepted theory places the blame on the driver of a fruit and vegetable truck, returning from the market.
It seems after his arrest and questioning, the driver was escorted to a concentration camp, never to return. Little Klaus was later buried, interred in grounds of the chateau, his remains may still be there today.
(Incidentally when the Berlin Wall was demolished in 1989, his sister, Marte journeyed to Czechoslovakia, in a hopeful attempt to try to locate her elder brother's forgotten grave, but the exercise proved fruitless, so much of the terrain had changed since his burial.
Marte Heydrich was born posthumously in July 1942, two months after her father's death. For the last few years she has been the proprietor of a popular ladies boutique, situated on the tiny island of Fehmarn nr. the German coast. I understand also that both her mother and stepfather are interred there as well.
Silke Heydrich at one time trained as an opera singer and was employed as a model, later relocating to America, although there are reports of her home being in South Africa also.
Heider Heydrich, however has caused controversy, when in 2012, he requested planning permission to restore the country lodge, where his family had once lived during the early years of the last War. It seems Herr Heydrich offered to acquire finances in the future restoration of the chateau through EU banking assistance. Naturally this caused fierce opposition from many Czechs, with lasting memories of Reinhardt Heydrich and the terrible punishment that was later bestowed upon the little town of Lidice in 1942. (In fact this year is the 70th anniversary of that tragic town's destruction at the hands of the Nazis, in reprisals for the Heydrich assassination.
(This 20th anniversary memoriam stamps
Rudolph Hess was Hitler's constant companion in and out of prison. He also eagerly typed up Hitler's notes for Mein Kampf and acted as his secretary.
Rudolph Hess had one son by his wife Ilse, the boy was named Rudigar "Buz" Hess, born in 1937. "Buz" had the dubious honour of having Hitler act as his "godfather." He was only four years old when his father flew to England in mysterious circumstances. (Perhaps this was an orchestrated sting by MI5 to bring him Scotland in 1941, only to be later incarcerated for the rest of his life in prison. This period can be found in an article about Hess in our infamous section on the website.)
After the war, Wolf Hess would author three books concerning his father and the treatment that he received from the four Allies, whilst in Spandau Prison. Wolf Hess openly maintained until his death that selected SAS agents, working on orders from the British Thatcher Government, murdered his late father, weeks before his rumoured release from prison. Wolf Hess died in 2011, however some years later, the remains of the Hess gravesite were removed and secretly cremated, due to a court order. I suspect that Wolf's body was amongst those along with his parents that were disturbed.
An interesting footnote is that when the mother of Wolf and the wife of Rudolph later died in 1995, it was the eldest son of Martin Bormann Snr., who delivered the funeral summation at the cemetery for Frau Hess. Interestingly she had been Martin's "godmother" when he was born.
Today many of the important questions raised by Wolf Hess concerning his father's final hours in prison, remain unanswered and perhaps always will.
In 1939 Dr, Hans Frank was appointed the Nazi Governor General of Poland or "the king of Poland," as he foolishly described himself. Dr Hans Frank and his wife Brigitte had five children. These were Sigrid, Norman, Brigitte, Michael and Niklas.
Today only the youngest is still alive, that being author and speaker, Niklas Frank. Today so much of his angst seems to be directed at his late father's memory and in numerous interviews over the years, he seems to denigrate his late father's reputation. He even doubted his father's religious conversation shortly before he was finally hanged at Nuremberg in 1946.
Repentance, if it is genuine, should never be regretted or rubbished.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23.)
Reichsleiter Martin Bormann. He was, "the most powerful, the least public," remarked a prominent British historian, concerning this man. Bormann was quickly appointed Hitler's personal secretary soon after the mysterious Rudolph Hess flight to Scotland in 1941. (A fortuitous year in more ways than one I might add.)
In the ensuing years afterwards, Bormann would remain loyal to Hitler, until in the so-called "bunker," he quietly escaped the advancing Russians forces in 1945. (There is some doubt in that he survived the war and later died in South America. This interesting theory is related in the book Untouchable, of which I have reviewed for the website.
During his marriage to Gerda, he sired ten children and nine apparently have survived to this day. Both Gerda and her youngest son, Volker, died in 1946.
Martin Bormann Jnr. is perhaps the most prominent of the surviving family. He was born in 1930 and is a former Catholic priest. He was implicated recently in a sex clergy scandal that occurred sometime in the 1960s. This case it seems is still on going in the courts.
However at the appointed funeral of Frau Hess, the wife of Rudolph in 1999, he reminded the other Bormann children present who had come together for the funeral service, that we are here, "to remember in gratitude the father who gave us life." This parallels rather nicely with Proverbs 23:22, that wisely warns, "Hearken unto thy Father that begat thee." Herr Bormann later remarked in a conversation that: "You never escape from your parents, who ever they are."
And of the controversial evidence presented by the State Prosecutor, that his father's skeletal remains found at the bridge in Berlin were genuine, he replied: "But I have never been sure of that. Their evidence was unconvincing." And I think I have to agree with him in this matter.
(Martin Bormann Snr. may also have sired other children who were illegitimate; amazingly it seems with his wife Gerda's permission and approval.)
Klaus Von Schirach is the second son of the 'Hitler Jugend' Commander, Baldour Von Schirach. Today his son Klaus believes that the youth of Hitler's Germany "were betrayed. Just as my father was." Yet he still keeps in contact with aging members of the Youth Corp.
Perhaps it's a tentative link to his father who served 20 years in Spandau Prison for War crimes before being released in 1966 into the custody of his three sons. He later died in 1974.
Robert Von Schrich born 1938 was the third child of the marriage but was tragically "killed in the early 1970s in a car accident."
Klaus Von Schrich, born in 1935, practiced as a Munich lawyer (although he may be retired by now and acts in a consultancy manner) and of the frequent media attention the children seem to attract he muses: "You should know that we Nazi children are completely uninteresting." Yet the public appetite does not seem to have abated in the strange thirteen years of the Nazi carousel that destroyed millions of lives and aspirations of so many people. And even today does not look like abating.
The other two children of the marriage of Baldour and Henrietta Von Schirach are Angelika, born 1932. She is a successful artist in her own rite. Her brother, Richard the youngest, was born in 1942.
His mother Henrietta Von Schirach-Nee Hoffmann and incidentally her father was Hitler's favourite photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, later divorced her jailed husband in 1949, when he was incarcerated in the Allied Spandau Prison. Her son Klaus sadly, "Never forgave his mother for not standing by his father when he was in prison, when he was a broken man." As they say children may forget, seldom do they forgive.
Yet I can't help suspecting that the resilient Von Schirach boys have moved on in their lives. The tragedy however for so many other children of the Nazis is that they were unable to do so and have remained emotionally scarred ever since.
Albert Speer. This delightful photograph of Albert Speer and his children, seated in an open BMW convertible car and perhaps taken during the war in 1943. Papa Speer is naturally at the driving wheel. Yet accounts of him since his death reveal a rather frigid man who did not seem to need another's affection or friendship.
This must have been difficult in how his own six children were able to relate to him before and after his own prison release. On a personal issue, his buying/or stealing of Jewish paintings at knock down prices and of storing them secretly in the bank vaults to be reclaimed then sold privately after his release from prison, earned him a neat profit and all of this as well as disposing privately to other buyers his collection of original sketches by Hitler of the future "Germania."
Albert Speer Jnr. born 1934 has followed in his father's architectural footsteps with sections of the Beijing Olympics being completed by his own firm.
Hilde born 1936 is a practicing politician in Germany, specialising in educational matters and promoting "green issues."
Margaret, born 1938, is a successful photographer and author of Are you Speer's daughter, these being her recollections of her absent father. In one of 400 letters he drafted from Spandau to his daughter, presumably about the controversial "Final Solution," he tries to ease her concern of what he knew or didn't know about that terrible period, when he says: "And just to calm you of the dreadful things. I knew nothing."
Yet as Hitler's willing armaments Minister he prolonged the War by over two years and all at the expense of forced slave labour. And history confirms that if this post War evidence had been presented to the Allies in 1945, Albert Speer would and should have rightly been hung, with the others in Nuremberg.
Other members of the Speer sorority have achieved success in the fields of finance, telecommunications and medicine.
Yet the final word on the Speer children must be awarded to his daughter Hilde, and it concerns the families' sad relationship with their father during and after his prison release, she recalls that: "One by one my sister and brothers gave up communicating with him." Their grief somehow is still witnessed to this day and yet I suspect the late Albert Speer had neither the time or inclination to somehow rectify this family tragedy that I feel was all of his own doing. A man who seemed to show little or no emotion.
Erwin "Desert Rat" Rommel. Rommel was an early Nazi sympathiser, although I can unearth no evidence of his joining into the Nazi party, however both he and his wife seemed loyal followers of the Fuhrer. Yet Hitler certainly admired this diminutive soldier, even sending him a silver framed signed picture as a gift of himself. I doubt he returned it!
I cannot help suspecting that he must have been seriously aware of the notorious "Einsatzgruppen" death units that murdered thousands on the Eastern front, and because of this knowledge, he certainly would have been tried at Nuremberg, alongside his fellow officers Keitel and Jodal.
Yet in 1942 he still enjoyed Hitler's trust, by being awarded the distinguished Field Marshall's baton. In 1944 Rommel would later take his own life by cyanide poisoning. His son Manfred was born in 1928 and was the former Mayor of Stuttgart.
Some years ago an exhibition concerning his late father's achievements was mounted in the city town centre and apparently it proved to be very popular with many visitors some travelling from outside Germany. A recent newspaper report however claimed that Erwin Rommel also had an illegitimate daughter named Gertrude. She was born in 1913 and would remain close to the Rommel family until her death in 2000.
Adolf Eichmann: He was the former precise note keeper of the 1942 "Wannsee Conference," that dwelt with the frightening "Final Solution," which Himmler had prepared and sanctioned. Adolf Eichmann fathered four sons by wife Vernonika, they were Klaus (1936), Horst (1940), Dieter (1942), and Ricardo born 1955 in Buenos Aires. The other three were born in Europe.
Dieter acts as the family historian and he is reported as saying: "My father has had so much dirt thrown at him, and so much that is written about him is false."
Horst is a businessman living in Argentina and operating a small transport company.
Klaus: Information on his profession is scant and he may well be a retired operative in the medical profession.
Ricardo: His profile is more transparent to learn about. Today he is a distinguished professor of archaeology, based in Berlin. He was born in Argentina and was supposedly named after a Catholic priest, who assisted Eichmann in his getaway from war torn Europe, then organized by the controversial Vatican "Rat Run." So much of this escape route is still clouded in secrecy.
I have incidentally, for the purpose of this article, e-mailed Prof. Eichmann for any background information about him and his father, but to date I have received no reply. I will of course update this article if and when I receive further contact from the Professor.
In preparing this article, I have two black and white photos of a happy looking child, enjoying with her father, a local circus treat.
In the second picture she is again with her father but now standing in which rather looks like an internment camp or it may be Dachau. (She did indeed visit the camp with her father, who explained the different herbs seen in a cultivated herb garden, presumably maintained by the prisoners for the camp staff.)
She seems very at ease with the photographer but her father has a sly half smile on his face as he glances at the staff photographer, perhaps he was caught slightly unaware of the camera protruding on to this family event.
The child's name was Gudrun Himmler (nicknamed "Pupi.") And apparently she adored her father because we learn that: "At fourteen the girl was deeply attached to her father. She cut out every picture of him from the newspapers and glued them into a large scrapbook." That devotion although misplaced has remained with her ever since. In a 1959 interview she claimed over the next few years, she would author a manuscript concerning her Father. To date that book has never been completed for publication.
Gudrun has never accepted the official reason for her father's suicide in Lunenburg in 1945, for she said the following of this: "I don't believe he swallowed that poison capsule." And of the death picture of her father on the floor of the guardroom, she suggests: "To me it's a retouched photo from when he was alive." So sadly it seems even today she is still in denial concerning her father's fate.
Now aged 83 years old she has over the last decade involved herself in far right organizations, and is happy to receive the audiences applause, at the mention of her late father's name at these annual events. She also married and raised a family. She resides in Munich and of course she continues to strive to have her father's name reinstated with honour in post-War German history.
As Frau Gudrun Burwitz-nee Himmler she remains on the fringe of the present lives of the other now aging Nazi children. One remarked about her: "I don't know anyone who has ever had a good word to say about her."
Gudrun it seems is impervious to people's views or opinions about her or her late father's notoriety, now or then.
Incidentally Gudrun has two half siblings from her father's relationship with his secretary, Hedwick Potthast. They are Helge and Nanette. Their mother may have perhaps re-married soon after the war. She also seemed to have some connection with the OSS/CIA in those post-War days in Germany.
Perhaps she was able to furnish her captors at the 7th U.S. Army Interrogation centre with fresh information about Himmler and some of his secrets in the final days of the War. She did however claim in an OSS report that Himmler, "Is trying to save something for Germany." If this was for his honour or Germany's remained unclear.
So in conclusion, the trauma that some of these children suffered, seems to have run deep, but scars are similar to still waters it is claimed, they to run silent and deep.
P.S. According to Katrin Himmler's book The Himmler brothers (2007), Heinrich Himmler's common law wife, Hedwig Potthast, did marry soon after the war but her husband died soon afterwards. His name gave her a new identity for her and her children. Her son was apparently in a poor state of health and remained with his mother. Her daughter trained and later practiced as a doctor. Hedwig Potthast died in 1997.
P.P.S It had been my original intention to examine the Ribbentrop, Keitel, Donitz, and Sauckel children, and how their lives have progressed over the years. But time and other commitments have prevented this. So this will have to be future project. As regards the featured children/adults in this article if they should so wish to contact me as regards any mistakes or errors I have made I will gladly correct them. These are their lives, not mine.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
Hunting evil, Guy Walters
My father's keeper, Stephan And Norbert Lebert
(All Rights Reserved)
In memory of Tia, 16.8.12