The Forgery of a Forgery
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”—Winston Churchill
My name is Joseph P. Bellinger, and I was the first researcher to uncover convincing documentary evidence that SS Chief Heinrich Himmler was assassinated by British agents in May, 1945, along with the clumsy attempts by individuals involved in his demise to conceal and suppress evidence of the crime. Already aware of the scandal that had erupted in Great Britain over allegations pertaining to falsified documents at the Public Records Office, it came as no surprise to me when I recently observed this controversial subject matter broached in the media for the second time in three years.
What did surprise and disappoint me was the denouement.
Since the publication of my book, Himmlers Tod: Freitod oder Mord? [Himmler’s Death: Suicide or Murder?] by Arndt Verlag in Germany, in 2005, I had been intermittently sending emails to Scotland Yard asking for updates on their investigation in the matter of the alleged forgeries discovered at the PRO in Kew, England. The responses to my emails were invariably polite, restrained and somewhat evasive. In short, precisely what one has come to expect from conscientious bureaucrats.
When the story first broke surrounding the alleged planting of forged documents in 2005, just prior to the release of Himmlers Tod in Germany, I remember thinking to myself, “How timely!”
Presently, according to recently published articles in the world press, eight mainstream British historians are demanding the prosecution of the individual (s)? responsible for allegedly planting the forged documents in the archives at the PRO.
Rather perplexingly, English authorities are not pressing for prosecution, a fact which has raised eyebrows as well as tempers in the United Kingdom. The peculiar reluctance on the part of officials to prosecute the suspected malefactor raises a number of interesting questions which I hope to address in this missive. It is no secret that the man suspected of having planted the forged documents is Martin Allen, the author of four controversial books covering various aspects of the Second World War.
According to documents recently released by the PRO, Mr. Allen (and his wife) were the only two individuals who had requested permission to view the particular files in question, but their reason for doing so was legitimate.
Rather coincidentally, Allen’s book had been published only a few days before my own was released in Germany. Thus, public attention was riveted on the hubbub generated by the media over the planting of ‘forged documents,’ rather than my own book which, although I was aware of the existence of these documents a few weeks before Himmlers Tod was released, chose not to include them as part of my evidence. The documents were subsequently relegated to an addendum at the end of the book, along with my commentary.
Repeated attempts to contact Mr. Allen at his email address proved unsatisfactory, but I did manage to speak with his prospective publishers in America by telephone.
For his part, when Mr. Allen was questioned on the matter of the forgeries by Ben Fenton, currently a journalist for the Financial Times, all he could manage to say in reply was that he was ‘absolutely devastated.’ What else could he say?
Mr. Fenton’s written account of the episode is of interest:
“Inevitably, therefore, he was the one who had come across these forgeries, although he had not suspected that any document he used was counterfeit. He thought it might all be a conspiracy. In fact, in the addendum to the American edition of the book (which acknowledged the fact that the 'Himmler murder' papers were forged, but nonetheless repeated the allegations they contained), Allen posited his own theory. At some time after he saw the documents, he suggested, they had been removed and replaced with exact replicas, clumsily forged to cast doubt on his discoveries. In the absence of any other public statement by him, this is the only explanation that Allen is known to have put forward.
But the police investigation, relying on Forensic Science Service tests, finally revealed that this had not just happened a few times. In all, there were 29 forged documents, each typed on one of only four typewriters. They were placed in 12 separate files, and cited at least once in one or more of Allen's three books. In fact, according to the experts at the Archives, documents now shown to be forgeries supported controversial arguments central to each of Allen's books...”
Fenton then speculated,
“Perhaps this was the true scenario: Allen, a self-styled "eminent historian", stumbled on the documents during painstaking research that took him to files left untouched by other historians; then, after his books were published and unknown forces read about his discoveries, the only way they (presumably modern British intelligence agents) could discredit him was to substitute forgeries in the files for the genuine "smoking gun" documents.”
Mr. Fenton’s final assessment of the situation can be summed up rather succinctly by citing his own words:
“My concern is the poisoning of the well,” he said, referring to the credibility of the National Archives. “It's not just the Himmler thing. That's the headline grabbing thing, but there are other allegations made about Britain's conduct in the Second World War which are similarly based on forgeries and don't have any support elsewhere.”
But, contrary to what Mr. Fenton thinks, it is precisely ‘the Himmler thing’ that is at issue here. More directly, the issue of ‘who’ has been ‘poisoning the well’ and why needs to be authoritatively addressed.
The story surrounding the ‘discovery’ of the forged documents is itself rather unremarkable. Mr. Fenton, who at the time the events unfolded was working for the Daily Telegraph, was the first to draw attention to the documents. Fenton revealed that he had been alerted to the suspected forgeries via email received from a friend and colleague who had recently read Martin Allen’s book. The name of that colleague, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet been revealed.
On the other hand, the provenance and subject matter of the documents themselves is of considerable interest. According to Associate Press correspondent Gregory Katz:
“One document falsely accuses Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s government of having a secret, cordial relationship with Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler at the height of World War II. Documents also allege that Churchill ordered the assassination of Himmler to keep the discussions secret.”
The peculiar suggestion that Winston Churchill maintained a cordial relationship with Heinrich Himmler is prima facie preposterous. The fact of the matter is that Churchill was loath to deal with Heinrich Himmler in any capacity whatsoever. When directly asked about the possibility of negotiating with the Nazi Reichsführer, Churchill tersely replied without equivocation, “No truck to Himmler!”
In reality, it was the American OSS agent Allen Dulles who worked assiduously behind the scenes to cultivate contacts with Himmler in the hope of ‘driving a wedge’ between the SS and the German Wehrmacht.
Prosecutors in Great Britain have stated that they opted not to prosecute Mr. Allen because he is in ‘poor health,’ a rather atypical and wholly unconventional response from the authorities which has not appeased critics of the decision. British historian Andrew Roberts was in a far less benevolent mood than the Crown Prosecutor when he opined,
‘If the guy gets away with it, it will be a green light to manufacture evidence.’
Mr. Roberts added,
“It's been done in a criminal way, and yet the police don't seem very interested in dealing with it.”
Mr. Roberts was joined in his demand to arrest and prosecute the culprit by other prestigious British historians such as John Keegan, Antony Beevor and Niall Ferguson, to mention just a few notable personalities. Speaking perhaps on behalf of them all inclusively, Mr. Roberts averred,
The phony documents are grossly unfair to Churchill because they accuse his government of having secret, cordial negotiations with Himmler at the height of the war and then ordering his death near the end of the war to keep their discussions secret. That's a blood libel against Churchill and totally untrue…”
While it is a fact that Churchill never ordered the assassination of Himmler to ‘keep their discussions secret,’ it is also a fact that the details of the supposed ‘negotiations’ consisted of nothing more than Himmler being persuaded to contact the British government through contacts in neutral Sweden, offering to surrender all German forces in the west if they would be allowed to carry on the war against the Bolsheviks in the east. Contrary to Mr. Allen’s thesis, the details of Himmler’s offer had been purposefully leaked by Anthony Eden to representatives of the media at the San Francisco conference.
Heinrich Himmler had in fact, been cleverly set up.
The fact of his assassination therefore, has nothing at all to do with any supposed ‘secret negotiations’ with Winston Churchill and his cabinet.
Similarly, when Mr. Katz writes:
“Mainstream historians reject the assertion about Churchill ordering the killing because there is no evidence to support it, except the faked papers. Himmler was never assassinated. He committed suicide by poisoning himself with cyanide after he was captured by British forces in 1945.”
Mr. Katz’s statement is untenable for a number of valid reasons. Whether mainstream historians accept the claim or not is really irrelevant, since mainstream historians have barely investigated the circumstances of Heinrich Himmler’s death, contenting themselves with unquestioningly disseminating the official version of events. Himmler’s biographer, Peter Padfield, deftly glosses over the suspicious details of his death. Moreover, Mr. Katz is perhaps unaware of the fact that the existing documentation proves that Churchill’s cabinet had been pressing for the outright assassination of captured German and Italian leaders on numerous occasions. The convergence of available evidence from all released sources provide more than ample justification to conclude that Heinrich Himmler, and a number of other high level officials in the Nazi SS organisation, were indeed assassinated as part of a pre-determined plan advanced by Churchill’s cabinet.
From their perspective, at least, the assassinations were viewed as necessary for the future stability of Europe.
These facts have all been fully investigated and meticulously documented in my book, Himmlers Tod.
In respect to the assassination of Heinrich Himmler, et. al., the evidence that did survive reveals that:
- Tentative plans were discussed and enthusiastically advocated by Churchill and his closest advisors to assassinate selected German and Italian officials within a few hours of capture.
- The autopsy report of Heinrich Himmler was falsified, incomplete, and evidence was fabricated.
- Material evidence relating to the homicide was removed at the site.
- The participants in the crime were instructed not to divulge any details [other than the officially released version] to the public or to researchers insofar as their role in the events was concerned and they were bound to the rule of official secrecy thereafter.
- Post-war accounts from the individuals in private diaries provided additional information supporting the conclusion that foul play was involved in the death of the German leader.
- At least two of the participants were later decorated with the MBE for their role in the affair.
- Material evidence relating to the crime was erased after the war at the express insistence of the War Office.
- The records surrounding the ‘official’ inquiry into the circumstances of Himmler’s death have been sealed until the end of the century.
Additionally, highly incriminating documents such as these do not just mysteriously ‘appear’ in archives. As British propagandist Sefton Delmer conceded in his book on Black Propaganda, they are usually burned or shredded. In the case of Himmler, every effort was employed by the War Office to assure that a cloak of secrecy would continue to surround the events pertaining to Himmler’s death. In short, Mr. Allen’s find was simply “too good to be true.” Mr. Allen is no newcomer to the archives, and as such, these explosive documents should have immediately aroused his suspicions.
Without second guessing Mr. Allen’s possible reservations, it may just be that his excitement upon finding the “smoking gun” documents in question completely overshadowed any apprehensions that may have surfaced at the time of the discovery.
In contradistinction to Mr. Allen, the case I had reconstructed from the available documentary evidence in the form of private diaries, forensic evidence, eyewitnesses to the events and recently released papers from the archives in the United States and Great Britain led me to the ineluctable conclusion that the chief of the Gestapo and SS was assassinated for very specific reasons related to the postwar Allied occupation of Germany. The attendant circumstantial evidence I had uncovered and assembled was so powerful and incriminating that I had no need of Mr. Allen’s documents to support my thesis. However, if the documents turned out to be authentic, they would have provided the icing on the cake.
The fortuitous fact of the matter is that I did not need to rely on clumsily contrived, opportune forgeries to prove my thesis that Heinrich Himmler was assassinated outright in 1945. If I had relied on these planted documents, my entire thesis and credibility would have been irretrievably compromised. As luck would have it, Mr. Allen is now saddled with that burden, which I suspect will only increase his current malaise.
Yet, what would Mr. Allen stand to gain from planting forged documents at the PRO over a period of three years, especially in consideration of the fact that his health is progressively deteriorating? Indeed, how could he ever hope to get away with it, as each and every request to access the archives is meticulously documented? The results of the investigation by officials at the PRO lead to only two possible conclusions: Either Martin Allen is guilty as suspected, or else he is the victim of a very elaborate and possibly on-going conspiracy to cover up the facts relating to the capture and death of Heinrich Himmler in 1945. Equally disconcerting is the complete lack of reasonable explanation as to why the authorities procrastinated for nearly two full years before releasing the results of a supposed ‘investigation,’ the details of which were undoubtedly known within a period of a few months after the crime was discovered to have occurred.
Moreover, the documents recently released by the PRO are still censored. If the Crown Prosecution is not going to charge Mr. Allen or anyone else with the crime, then the complete contents of those documents ought to have been released. Is the Crown concerned that Mr. Allen might possibly file a counter-suit?
An article published in the World News Service, London, begins by posing the question:
If the World War II files at Britain's National Archives can't be trusted, what documents can?
It certainly is a relevant question to ask. Equally relevant is the question of motive in this case. When this question was put before Sevarine Gould, a spokeswoman for the Public Records Office, she replied evasively and declined to speculate as to who might have planted the spurious documents or why.
In contrast to Ms Gould’s evasive replies, the official statement of the PRO offers deeper insight into the affair:
“In July 2005, it was discovered that a number of files held at The National Archives contained forged documents. These files related to the Second World War. This resulted in a thorough internal investigation, the findings of which are being released today.
A police investigation followed, with the full cooperation of The National Archives. Forensic examination confirmed that the suspected documents were recent forgeries and had been introduced to the files from 2000 onwards. The investigation identified 29 individual forgeries from 12 separate files.
The Metropolitan Police submitted a case file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in October 2006. The CPS decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute, and the police investigation is now closed.
David Thomas, Director of Technology & Chief Information Officer, said: "The National Archives views anything that compromises the integrity of historical information very seriously. We take pride in the quality of material held here and the level of access given to original documents. For this reason, a thorough investigation was conducted and new security measures implemented, the findings of which are now available for all to see."
Yet the documents on the PRO’s site remain censored. Entire pages are blanked out. The allegations that the documents have been forged had already been widely circulated three years ago. The National Archives are not telling us anything new, other than to now try and gloss over the entire affair and promise the public that changes will be instituted in the future. As such, if the police truly have a suspect, they need to bring him forth and charge him. Assuming that person is Mr. Allen, the case must be tried in the interests of truth and justice, whether a severe sentence or just a slap on the wrist is imposed. Of course it is also quite possible that the accused will be fully exonerated, and perhaps this possibility is really the primary concern of the establishment?
According to journalist Kari Lundgren,
“The FT [Financial Times] article by Ben Fenton, an accomplished researcher himself, details how between 1999 and 2005 a series of files were planted in the records”
Once again, I have to say, “How timely!,” because the time frame in question covers the period when the circumstances of Himmler’s death were in the process of being researched at the various archives. Certainly this unusual fact in and of itself was brought to the attention of the authorities, as had previously occurred when two German historians, Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel undertook preliminary research into the circumstances of Himmler’s death in 1963, arousing the suspicions of the War Office. Is it therefore possible or reasonable to suggest that interested individuals had already been apprised of the on-going research then being conducted into the circumstances of Heinrich Himmler’s death by me and Mr. Allen and that steps were then taken to ‘neutralise’ the apprehended fallout?
“The bad-news part of this is that police say the case will stay unsolved.”
How convenient, then, for the government and the police! Isn’t this precisely what this issue is all about? -- Governmental cover-ups and obfuscation?
As Ms Lundgren was quick to observe and correctly point out:
"The documents themselves were cited as evidence in the books by historian Martin Allen. Allen himself claims to have no knowledge of the forged documents and says he was ‘the victim of a conspiracy’.
The real stink of this is the 13 month police investigation yielded nothing but a decision to abandon prosecution as it wasn’t in the public interest.
Trust in the work you use, catalogue and preserve is vital, without it the efforts of information professionals across the spectrum are undermined. This is very much in the public interest.
If criminal proceedings aren’t an option then perhaps an inquiry is needed to ensure further breaches of trust aren’t allowed to happen and the reputation of the National Archives restored to its rightful place.”
With all due respect to Ms. Lundgren, a public inquiry is precisely what the authorities have sought to avoid since 1945.
Journalist Rosemary Sorenson, adding her voice to the growing list of Mr. Allen’s critics, wrote:
People who subscribe to Allen's version of British conspiracies against Adolf Hitler and his henchmen can be found on various websites, putting forward theories about how the documents ostensibly found by Allen in the archives have since mysteriously disappeared.
To limit any continuing speculation about those documents, the National Archives has posted on its website digital reproductions of the forged letters and memos, as well as documents relating to the investigation, including reports by forensic experts.
The fact that these documents have been forged has already been proved. Or has it? Did Mr. Allen stumble upon highly incriminating documents during the course of his research which were then surreptitiously replaced by forgeries planted by “interested” parties once the gaffe became known? Two related issues require further relief: That Mr. Allen should be provided with an opportunity to clear his name, and that attention should be focused upon the motive for the forgeries and who stands to derive the longer term, greater benefit from it. The real investigation should be focused on forensic reports and evidence directly related to the death of Heinrich Himmler in May, 1945. It is my opinion that the forged documents merely served as a smokescreen to divert public attention away from the more important historical issues involved, rather than the question of how or whether archives become contaminated.
Indeed, this would certainly not be the first time archives or documents have been tampered with by individuals or by governments. David Irving was accused of pilfering documents from the archives in Moscow and Irving himself recounts a case on his Website where an Israeli dealer in collectible militaria planted false documents in a German archive.
No stranger to archives around the world, Irving was perplexed by the appearance of so many forged documents related to Himmler’s death appearing in various files at the PRO, commenting:
“I have never come across one involving a Public Record Office file before. And not just one PRO file, but two or more files, in different record groups, carrying documents about the Himmler death. There are moreover further documents in the Foxley files, I am told, which indicate that other top Nazis were slated for liquidation, including Dr. Goebbels and a close friend and adviser of Rudolf Hess, a man whose 1945 death was hitherto also thought to be a suicide.”
Irving’s insightful comments regarding the purported forged documents were posted in his on-line “Action Report” dated July 3, 2005:
“What can we predict about the culprit? I was impressed—and no doubt this was not intention – by the evidence in the newspaper stories that the document’s author (s) knew (or know) a great deal about 1945 events, and certainly more than I do; I for one did not know of the wartime role of Richard Ingram’s father, not that of Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, whom I knew of only as the Royal biographer (“King George VI”). Most forgeries I have run across are clumsy and ignorant; these documents, if again they are forgeries, seem to have been crafted by a singularly well-informed forger. A search of the eventual suspect’s home will have to yield evidence of the several typewriters used, and ribbons of the correct vintage, and perhaps a stock of wartime paper too.”
National Archives of Australia director-general Ross Gibbs recently remarked that his institution will be watching closely the fallout of this extraordinary case, as shall all concerned parties.
Make no mistake about it: discontent and grumbling over the Crown’s decision not to pursue their prosecution of the alleged forger is increasing in Great Britain and goes straight to the heart of the issue whether government can be trusted or whether this is the misadventure of one lone ailing historian. It is, after all, far easier for a government to destroy the reputation of one individual than for one individual to succeed in exposing a long-standing, carefully cultivated conspiracy, but stranger things have been known to happen.
The main question this story raises is, “Is this a forgery committed by one or two individuals, (Mr. Allen and his wife) or MI5 or other parties interested in suppressing historically valuable information related to the assassination of Heinrich Himmler in 1945?”
Few will shed any tears over the assassination of Hitler’s most devoted paladin, but the motivating factors prompting Himmler’s eradication are far more complex and historically important because they relate directly to the Allied Powers postwar policies that followed in the wake of the conquest and occupation of Germany.
The question as to whether the forged documents at the PRO were in fact planted by people working on behalf of interested parties rather than an obvious clumsy and traceable forgery by Mr. Allen still requires a definitive answer.
In short, for the third time in sixty-three years, the case of Heinrich Himmler’s death has now been officially X-Filed, which brings us right back to square one.
- http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23650462-31477,00.html. “Career forged in history’s fault lines.”
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Joseph P. Bellinger|
|Title:||The Forgery of a Forgery, The Case of the Feckless Forger|
|First posted on CODOH:||Feb. 5, 2009, 6 p.m.|