Files on Himmler 'murder' exposed as fake
By Ben Fenton
DOCUMENTS from the National Archives used to substantiate claims that British intelligence agents murdered Heinrich Himmler in 1945 are forgeries, The Daily Telegraph can reveal today.
The results of investigations by forensic document experts on behalf of this newspaper have shocked historians and caused tremors at the Archives, the home of millions of historical documents, which has previously been thought immune to distortion or contamination.
The allegation that the SS leader was murdered, with the knowledge of Churchill and War Cabinet ministers, appeared in Himmler's Secret War, published in May .
But after The Daily Telegraph, like other newspapers, was approached to publicize the book, the documents began to raise suspicions.
The improbability of allegations that flatly contradict the accepted fact that Himmler killed himself and the use of language in documents that read more like excerpts from a spy thriller than dry civil service memos prompted this newspaper to raise concerns with the National Archives.
Officials gave permission for documents to be taken to the laboratories in Amersham, Bucks, of Dr Audrey Giles, one of the foremost forensic document specialists.
She discovered that letterheads on correspondence supposedly written in 1945 were created on a high-resolution laser printer, technology not developed until at least 50 years later.
Signatures supposed to be those of Brendan Bracken, the minister of information and head of the Political Warfare Executive, which aimed to subvert the German war effort, were found to be written over pencil tracings.
Dr Giles also found that it was almost certain that letters from two different government departments were written on the same, authentically contemporary, typewriter.
She concluded that at least four of the five suspect documents were forgeries and probably the fifth.
The findings were communicated to the National Archives this week, where a spokesman said: "We are very concerned and have commissioned an official forensic examination of these papers."
Asked if there would be a police investigation, he said: "We are taking this one step at a time, but we are taking it very seriously."
There is no suggestion that the Archives could have prevented papers being smuggled in.
The forged documents suggest that Himmler was killed by a PWE agent called Leonard Ingrams, the father of Richard Ingrams, the former editor of Private Eye.
The assassination was the supposed idea of two senior Foreign Office men, John Wheeler-Bennett and Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart.
But it was allegedly supported by Bracken and the Earl of Selborne, the head of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the sabotage organization set up by Churchill with the order to "set
Prof M R D Foot, the SOE official historian, said: "This story was twisting history and it will not do.
"It was obviously bogus, but I am very grateful that it has been proved to be so."
The findings of Dr Giles's examination were put yesterday to Martin Allen, the book's author. There is no suggestion that he was anything but a fall guy for the forgers.
"I think I have been set up," he said. "But I do not even know by whom. I am absolutely devastated."
He denied having anything to do with the creation of the documents.
How Himmler's death was turned into a British murder plot
By Ben Fenton
The publicity for the book, not surprisingly, concentrates on the sensational material in the last few pages.
The first purports to be a letter from John Wheeler-Bennett of the Foreign Office who was its liaison officer with the PWE, the shadowy group committed to subverting the Nazis with propaganda, subversive broadcasts and other subliminal tactics. The second document in the file is a flimsy sheet, supposedly the deciphered version of a telegram sent by "Mr Thomas" - presumably Ingrams - to Bruce Lockhart. This is also supposedly noted by "R B-L" - Bruce Lockhart's name is not hyphenated - with the instruction to a subordinate "Copy to PM", which neatly incriminates Winston Churchill in the assassination. "I am sure that if it were to become public knowledge that we had had a hand in this man's demise, it would have devastating repercussions for this country's standing."
The first purports to be a letter from John Wheeler-Bennett of the Foreign Office who was its liaison officer with the PWE, the shadowy group committed to subverting the Nazis with propaganda, subversive broadcasts and other subliminal tactics.
The second document in the file is a flimsy sheet, supposedly the deciphered version of a telegram sent by "Mr Thomas" - presumably Ingrams - to Bruce Lockhart.
This is also supposedly noted by "R B-L" - Bruce Lockhart's name is not hyphenated - with the instruction to a subordinate "Copy to PM", which neatly incriminates Winston Churchill in the assassination.
"I am sure that if it were to become public knowledge that we had had a hand in this man's demise, it would have devastating repercussions for this country's standing."
By Ben Fenton "the printing of the letterhead of each of the [suspect] Bracken letters is composed of dry toner deposit consistent with having been produced on a laser printer".
'You expect everything in PRO to be real. It's a disaster' By Ben Fenton You think: 'Yippee, I've found something. That gives me the lead on to something else'. But if you think the archive was seeded in such a way by the time you get the information - that's devastating, absolutely devastating." The implications for historians in general are profound. "Documents I find in the archives I tend to treat as gospel," Nigel West, the intelligence expert and historian of the SOE, said. The sort of fabrication uncovered in the Himmler affair was unprecedented in "It has happened with the UFO lobby in America and we have to face the fact that we are going to have to be more sceptical where the subjects are ones that people obsess about: UFOs, royalty, the Kennedy assassination, or in this case the Nazis. "The second worrying thing is that we know the SOE had plans to bump off Hitler and there are documents showing - although perhaps I ought to say that appear to show - that we were planning the same for Mussolini and his deputy. "So they are something we could almost believe before we see them." By Ben Fenton
Himmler murder files are fakes
Forgeries exposed by a hunch and by science
At first sight the three documents seized on by Martin Allen to underpin allegations that the Political Warfare Executive was responsible for the assassination of Himmler looked remarkable.
At second sight they looked even more remarkable because their language just did not ring true
Surely, civil servants of the 1940s simply did not use language like "eliminate him" as John Wheeler-Bennett was supposed to, nor would even as flamboyant a man as Brendan Bracken have spoken of "devastating repercussions for this country's reputation".
These are the words of the late 20th century, not its middle years.
Suspicions aroused, the next step was to look more carefully at the documents and compare them with handwriting and signatures known to be genuine.
The Daily Telegraph was then able to provide David Thomas, the director of government and archive services at the National Archives, with a sufficient prima facie case of forgery for him to agree to a full forensic examination.
Four thick files from
She subjected five questionable documents to minute examination and also looked at several papers known to be genuine, for comparison.
First, she examined three letters purporting to come from Brendan Bracken, Churchill's confidant, minister of information and head of the Political Warfare Executive.
One of those three, dated May 27, 1945, apparently implicated Bracken in the cover-up of the killing of "Little H" while the other two were earlier letters suggesting that PWE was encouraging Himmler to believe that he could negotiate a peace deal with
All three were claimed to have been sent to the Earl of Selborne, the minister responsible for the SOE, and were found by Mr Allen in the Archives document HS 8/944.
All three were supposedly typed on Ministry of Information headed notepaper, with a salutation to "My Dear Top" - Lord Selborne's nickname - and a signature in Bracken's distinctive handwriting. Dr Giles was also given six genuine original letter headed letters from Bracken.
She examined the letterheads at x500 magnification and concluded that the relatively ragged outline of the letters showed that
In the genuine letters, though, the heading was produced by a traditional embossing technique that under the microscope produced a smooth edge.
She was able to go further, and concluded that the laser printer, not in use until the 1980s, was a model of relatively high definition and therefore of fairly recent manufacture.
These were the findings that seemed to carry most weight with the National Archives.
Next, Dr Giles studied the salutation and signatures on the suspect Bracken letters using a Video Spectral Comparator which "allows the ink of the signatures and handwritings on the documents to be viewed in infra-red light" and she made another damaging discovery.
"My examination of the inks of the writings on the Bracken documents clearly revealed the presence of pencil lines under the writings of the greeting and signature on each of these documents." She studied the ink under a particular infra-red wavelength.
"Under these conditions, the ink of the handwriting is almost transparent but the pencil guide lines remain dark. Indeed if the original documents are examined carefully under a microscope, fragments of the pencil lines are visible."
After studying genuine Bracken signatures and handwriting that had no such lines, she reported: "There is conclusive evidence that the Bracken letters … are not genuine, but are simulated documents."
She also said that there was "conclusive evidence" that the letterheads were of "relatively recent" fabrication.
Under international forensic standards, there is no higher level of certainty than "conclusive evidence".
Dr Giles found the same level of certainty for the view that the alleged handwriting and initials of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart on the letter purported to have been sent by John Wheeler-Bennett on May 10. 1945, was not his handwriting.
She also found "very strong evidence" - the next highest level of certainty on the international scale and likened to being "almost certain" of a fact - for the proposition that the Wheeler-Bennett letter was written on the same typewriter as the Bracken letters, which she has conclusively found to be forgeries.
On the telegram allegedly sent by "Mr Thomas" to Bruce Lockhart, confirming the murder of Himmler at Luneberg, Dr Giles found that the amount of writing was not enough for a definite conclusion, but she came to the conclusion that there was "strong support" for its being forged as well.
It certainly appears very similar to the forged handwriting of Bruce Lockhart.
All in all, Dr Giles has told The Daily Telegraph that she is convinced that all the suspect documents provided to her are forgeries.
Himmler murder files are fakes
"Crikey," Martin Allen said when he was told that the documents on which he based the climax of his book were forgeries.
"Bloody hell, how could that have had happened?"
The historian, who lives in
"It never occurred to me that anything in the PRO wouldn't be real. You go to the PRO and expect to find kosher documents.
"It undermines the whole process of National Archives."
Mr Allen, whose other two books focused on the flight of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess to
He would also be contacting his publisher, Robson Books, to discuss whether or not the book should be withdrawn.
"I think I will ring my publisher and say that we have got something of a disaster here.
"Something strange has happened indeed. I really don't understand, I really don't.
"It's not within my skill to do something like this or in my interest because I'm a bona fide historian with several books behind me. I do my research. I spend a lot of money doing it and I didn't expect this. I am absolutely devastated.
"You read an awful lot of documents without finding anything at all and then when suddenly, at the end of the day, at on a wet winter evening you find something like this.
Himmler files confirmed as forgeries
NEW disclosures about forged documents at the National Archives emerged yesterday as officials in
The first set of five forged papers were used by the historian Martin Allen to support allegations in his book Himmler's Secret War that the head of the SS did not commit suicide, but was murdered by British intelligence agents.
But two new papers brought to the attention of experts at the Archives by this newspaper and which they are now examining, refer to Allen's previous book, The Hitler/Hess Deception, published in 2003.
The official inquiry into the first five papers was ordered by Sarah Tyacke, the chief executive of the National Archives, after The Daily Telegraph provided copies of a detailed forensic examination by Audrey Giles, former head of Scotland Yard's Questioned Documents Unit.
Ms Giles found damning evidence that the papers had been counterfeited relatively recently and smuggled into the Archives.
A statement posted on the National Archives' website last Friday evening confirmed Ms Giles's conclusive findings that four letters were forged and her strong suspicion over the fifth document, a telegram supposedly confirming that Himmler, the head of the SS, had been murdered by British agents in May 1945.
The statement reads: "The National Archives has taken these allegations very seriously. We commissioned an official forensic examination which has now concluded that these five documents are, indeed, forgeries.
"In the light of this, we are reviewing our own procedures and taking legal advice, with a view to further action."
It is not clear whether this will include a police investigation because neither the Archives nor the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which is responsible for it, knows whether or not an offence has been committed.
Asked about the new suspect documents, which are referred to in The Hitler/Hess Deception, a spokesman for Allen, said that because he researched every scrap of available evidence in the Archives, the writer was likely to be the person who first, unwittingly, came across the forgeries.
The most suspicious of the two papers under new examination was used by Allen in his second book to support a strong suggestion by him that a Nazi ideologue who might have had the key to why Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy, flew to Scotland in May 1941, was murdered in his Bavarian home by two British agents after the end of the war.
Allen suggests that Karl Haushofer, a geo-political theorist who was Hess's mentor at university and whose son Albrecht was one of the Nazi deputy's closest friends and advisers, was killed along with his wife Martha to stop him giving evidence at the International Military Tribunal, otherwise known as the Nuremberg War Trials.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP who takes a special interest in freedom of information and Archives matters, has tabled a parliamentary question on the forgeries. He said: "If this isn't illegal, then I think everyone would agree that it should be. We can't allow people to get into the Archives and literally rewrite history for their own ends. The implications are horrific."
Historians have called for a police investigation of the forgeries, warning that the implications for the study of history were dire.
Now that the Telegraph's investigation has been officially confirmed, attention will focus on who has had access the files.
By Ben Fenton
"the printing of the letterhead of each of the [suspect] Bracken letters is composed of dry toner deposit consistent with having been produced on a laser printer".
'You expect everything in PRO to be real. It's a disaster'
By Ben Fenton
You think: 'Yippee, I've found something. That gives me the lead on to something else'. But if you think the archive was seeded in such a way by the time you get the information - that's devastating, absolutely devastating."
The implications for historians in general are profound.
"Documents I find in the archives I tend to treat as gospel," Nigel West, the intelligence expert and historian of the SOE, said.
The sort of fabrication uncovered in the Himmler affair was unprecedented in
"It has happened with the UFO lobby in America and we have to face the fact that we are going to have to be more sceptical where the subjects are ones that people obsess about: UFOs, royalty, the Kennedy assassination, or in this case the Nazis.
"The second worrying thing is that we know the SOE had plans to bump off Hitler and there are documents showing - although perhaps I ought to say that appear to show - that we were planning the same for Mussolini and his deputy.
"So they are something we could almost believe before we see them."
By Ben Fenton