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1: I Become An Astrologer
2: Herbert Volck: The Embittered Veteran
3: Captain Lohmann: Rearmament by Stealth
4: In the Hands of the Gestapo
5: Felix Kersten
6: Find Mussolini!
7: My first meeting with Walter Schellenberg
8: Lunch with Heinrich Himmler
9: Counter- espionage Headquarters, Berlin
10: Himmler and July 20, 1944
11: Count Bernadotte's Mission
12: Himmler at the End of his Tether
13: The End Approaches
14: Heinrich Himmler's Final Orders


Zodiac & Swastika by Wilhelm Wulff: Chapter Eleven - Count Bernadotte's Mission

Chapter Eleven - Count Bernadotte's Mission

Felix Kersten

Count Bernadotte

Prior to December, 1944, Ditleff, the Swedish diplomatic representative at Berlin, had made repeated attempts to obtain the release of the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians held prisoner in Germany. He and Count Bernadotte had tried with great pertinacity for months on end to establish contact with Himmler. But these attempts had always failed, because Himmler had studiously avoided this meeting, which could have placed him in a dangerous situation with Hitler. In January-February, 1945, a resolute attempt was made through official channels to introduce Count Bernadotte into the proposed negotiations. It was difficult for a diplomat to make contact with Heinrich Himmler or the National Socialist departments in charge of concentration camp prisoners. He had to apply through the Foreign Ministry. This was a long-drawn-out procedure and was unlikely to succeed. For a matter in which speed was essential it was, of course, totally unsuitable.

I was ordered to appear in Schellenberg's office on January 22, 1945. I arrived at 1:30 PM, and among other things which had to be discussed and clarified, I was told of Count Bernadotte's mission. Schellenberg explained the situation: "Kersten is trying to put Bernadotte in touch with Himmler. Could you investigate this affair and let me know what is likely to come of it? I hope Bernadotte pushes things hard enough so that we can launch our old plan. It is high time. You know about the steps I've taken to date, but I can't bypass Himmler without exposing myself, so a meeting between Bernadotte and Himmler is important. We really must get things moving now." When Schellenberg discussed his plan for the removal of Hitler, he seldom made a direct reference to him. His aversion to Hitler was so great that he could hardly bear to say the Fuehrer's name.

Kersten had heard about Bernadotte s mission in the middle of December. Schellenberg now told me that he had decided to establish relations with Bernadotte on a more or less official basis. While discussing a harmless exchange of prisoners with him, he could broach the all-important question of peace negotiations. Schellenberg also mentioned that Count Bernadotte had asked for a personal meeting with Himmler. If I were to give precise astrological information as to the possibility of a peace settlement, this vital issue would have to be dealt with first.

At that time the Yalta Conference was in full swing, the people of Berlin were preparing to defend their city, and in every part of Germany Volkssturm men were being mustered and armed for the defense of Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich."

Kersten had first started to push the Bernadotte affair with Himmler at the end of 1944, and during Kersten's absence abroad, Schellenberg had taken over, with the result that on February 17, 1945, they managed to arrange a meeting between Count Bernadotte and Kaltenbrunner at the Horchner villa on the Wannsee. On February 16, Bernadotte came to Germany, ostensibly to inspect Red Cross convoys, but in fact with the express purpose of establishing contact with Himmler. On February 19, two days after his talk with Kaltenbrunner, he was received by Schellenberg, with whom he discussed the projected meeting with Himmler. Count Bernadotte had traveled overland through Germany on his way to Berlin and had been able to see for himself that the Third Reich was entering its final phase.

After my conversation with Schellenberg one of his officials accompanied me to the Lehrter railway station, where I met Dr. Goverts, who had just returned from Stockholm. This was a fortunate meeting, for it meant that we were able to make the journey to Hamburg together and exchange news on the way.

The station was a scene of indescribable misery, made even worse by the bitter January weather. The entrance hail was completely blocked by refugees. The sick and wounded lay on the ground among the dying and waited until room could be found for them on the overcrowded trains. We managed to reach our places in our own train only by climbing in through the windows like young cavalry officers. The journey, like all journeys in those days, was sheer torture.

Goverts had not called on Schellenberg in Berlin because he preferred to discuss his news with me. In fact, neither of us was particularly interested in the course of events anymore. Because of Himmler's continual vacillation, the moment for action-for deposing Hitler and forming a new government-had been missed. The German people would soon be draining the bitter cup to its dregs.

In Hamburg we heard that Himmler was seriously ill. At first it was said that he had influenza. His physician, Professor Gebhardt, was also ill. But Himmler had, in fact, suffered a nervous breakdown and was resting in Hohenlychen. His breakdown was rooted in his worsening relationship with Hitler.

Since the end of the year there had been considerable tension between Himmler and Hitler, which Martin Bormann had done his best to aggravate. Himmler was afraid of Bormann's intrigues and suspected that he was planning to overthrow him. And when SS Gruppenfuhrer Hermann Fegelein, Himmler's liaison officer at Hitler's headquarters, married Eva Braun's sister-for purely practical considerations, of course-Himmler became very suspicious indeed. At that time hardly a week passed in which I was not plied with questions either by Dr. Rudolph Brandt or by Schellenberg about the discord between Himmler and Bormann. It was a full eighteen months since I had cast Bormann's horoscope, but now Himmler found it necessary to obtain detailed interpretations.

Originally relations between these two had been entirely cordial. But in 1943, when Himmler was appointed Minister of the Interior, a note of tension was introduced. Bormann scented a possible rival, and it was not long before sharp conflicts arose between these two Nazi satraps. As Hess' successor and leader of the party, Bormann had a great deal of influence with Hitler, and he soon succeeded in coming between the Führer and Himmler.

Himmler went in great fear of Bormann, and before every meeting with him, he asked me if there was any danger of his being arrested by his adversary. Bormann was the reason why Himmler decided not to reduce the strength of his bodyguard, even though extra soldiers were needed for military duties. A further stratagem devised by Bormann with the purpose of removing Himmler from Berlin and consequently from contact with Hitler was Himmler's appointment as general officer commanding the "Weichsel" army group on the Eastern Front. Although Bormann knew that the new army group was far too weak to resist the onslaught of the numerically superior Russian forces, he used their desperate but unavailing resistance as a means of convincing Hitler of Himmler's incompetence.

Himmler's simplicity of mind was amazing. Although he was afraid of Bormann, he failed entirely to see through his machinations. It never entered his head that Hitler might depose him. In fact, he remained firmly convinced of the Fuehrer's loyalty until Doenitz was named as Hitler's successor. This too was a Bormann stratagem designed to keep Himmler's SS formations, many of which were still intact, at a safe distance. So long as he had access to Hitler, Himmler constituted a threat for Bormann. But after Doenitz's promotion, he was a spent force.

This left only Goebbels as a possible rival. And Bormann would not have hesitated to have Goebbels murdered if this should have proved necessary.

Himmler gradually became uneasy when news seeped through that ever since July 20 he had been suspected of having turned a blind eye on Colonel Stauffenberg's conspiracy. Bormann had engineered this "smear" in order to convince Hitler of Himmler's unreliability and incompetence.

At first Himmler refused to believe that Bormann could be so base, although he had long known from the latter's horoscope that he posed a definite threat. In fact, Bormann's hostile attitude ought really to have shown Himmler just how vulnerable his own position was and how necessary it was for him to implement his own plan of arresting Hitler's entire staff and negotiating an armistice. Now, following his failure on the Eastern Front, Himmler was laid up in Hohenlychen supposedly with influenza. In fact, he was completely shattered and wept ceaselessly. He asked Felix Kersten to come to him at once. But Kersten was far too preoccupied with his business deals in Stockholm even to think of hurrying to Himmler's side. Another four or five weeks passed before Kersten arrived with his "important plans for the fate of Germany," which he put to me as top priority. He tried to persuade me to accompany him to Himmler in the hope that I would help him with his selfish plans for business deals in Sweden. Kersten was no longer interested in negotiating an armistice. He had brought a long list of names of people whom he wanted to have liberated. Actually, the release of Swedish and Jewish prisoners had already been officially discussed-together with the question of the feasibility of an armistice-on February 19, when Schellenberg had received Count Bernadotte with Himmler's approval. Kersten's private aim was to win friends abroad to further his business plans.

 Chapter 12: Himmler at the end of his tether

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