On May 23, 1945, SS leader Heinrich Himmler committed suicide while in British custody, thus escaping trial and execution for war crimes. Or did he? British surgeon and forensics expert Hugh Thomas looks at the evidence and offers a surprising--and controversial--scenario.
Available evidence is sketchy, and it doesn't help that the British government is keeping the files on the Himmler case sealed until 2045. Still, Thomas suggests, on the strength of forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony, that Himmler's presumed corpse was in fact that of another person. And as for Himmler? It is unlikely, Thomas believes, that Himmler could have fallen by accident into Allied hands; Thomas suggests that he may have gone underground, aided by parties unknown, to direct the SS in its postwar guise, the stuff of Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Odessa File. Thomas's argument is plausible and sometimes persuasive, especially when he discusses the negotiations Himmler's agents conducted with the Allies, well before the war's end, offering to provide a Nazi buffer state against the Soviet Union in exchange for clemency. Highly speculative but well reasoned, Thomas's book should intrigue readers inclined to question received wisdom. --Gregory McNamee [via]