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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 Nine - Counterespionage Headquarters, Berlin

Chapter Nine - Counterespionage Headquarters, Berlin

After the July 20 plot Himmler's position seemed, if anything, more solid than ever. By liquidating Röhm and his friends in June, 1934, ten years before, Heinrich Himmler had achieved a dual purpose: He had eradicated the SA as a possible rival of the SS, and he had proved his loyalty to Hitler. As soon as war was declared, Himmler had worked to increase the power of his organization. The expansion of the SS and especially of the Waffen-SS, which began in 1939, was pursued so methodically that by 1943 they comprised five armored divisions, four Panzergrenadier divisions, a corps of mountain troops, and a large number of formations recruited from the occupied territories. At the end of the war there were thirty-seven SS divisions in existence. Himmler's final objective was the creation of an SS-Luftwaffe. But this he failed to accomplish.

During the war the divisions of the Waffen-SS fought in genuine comradeship and with unusual heroism and fanaticism side by side with the regular army divisions. Himmler looked after his SS soldiers extremely well and -as far as equipment and replacements were concerned -they had a great advantage over the Wehrmacht troops, an advantage they fully justified by their sacrifices and high casualties. Although the differences between the Waffen-SS and the army became far less marked in the late phases of the war, initially the army divisions undoubtedly felt offended at being downgraded in this way.

When Himmler was made commander in chief of the replacement army and of all troops stationed in Germany, he fulfilled a great ambition, although he was anything but a general! In his new position he began to expand the Waffen-SS as fast as he could and with his Volksgrenadier divisions created a new kind of fighting force, which eventually developed into the Volkssturm (German Home Guard). But after Himmler's appointment as commander in chief, Bormann began to intrigue against him in Hitler's headquarters, although Himmler did not notice this at first. His units did not achieve a great deal in the war and soon started to run down. By the beginning of 1945, when Himmler had a nervous breakdown, they had come to a complete standstill.

I knew Himmler's history well, but the personality of the man was a mystery to me. Just before my first meeting with him I had spent some time at Hartzwalde with Kersten. I was full of dark premonitions, for I had long suspected that Himmler wanted to see me and that Schellenberg was arranging the meeting. While there I took a walk with Frau Kersten a highly intelligent and agreeable woman-and asked her about Himmler. For a long while she was silent. Then she said, "It's difficult to say what he's like. He's an entertaining man, I suppose." After this she fell silent again.

But in the end the truth burst from her quite involuntarily: "Himmler's a swine, a real swine!" she said and told me that he had once made the wives of the Jehovah's Witnesses at Ravensbrück concentration camp parade in the nude and then had them whipped. Afterward he had walked away with a spiteful laugh.

Now my own first "audience" with Heinrich Himmler was over. I had travelled to Aigen in a mixture of curiosity and dread, and I had survived the encounter. Schellenberg's fears that I might endanger myself and consequently him and the whole of the Kersten circle by speaking too openly had proved groundless. I had the impression that I had done rather well.

I had thought for a long time about how to deal with Himmler, and in the end I managed to approach him frankly and openly. It seemed to me at the time that I had achieved my purpose: I had described the hopeless political situation and Hitler's horoscope in the blackest possible terms, I had urged him to stage a putsch, and yet I had gained something approaching his confidence.

Once I was back in Berlin I drove straight to counterespionage headquarters in the Berkärstrasse in Dahlem to report to Schellenberg. The counterespionage department occupied an enormous multistoried house built in the "utility" style of 1930's architecture and surrounded by chunky-looking bunkers, garages, and an enormous courtyard. Schellenberg sat in the midst of the network of endless corridors leading to the various subdepartments, which were split up according to provinces and subjects like a spider's web.

All visitors were closely watched by young SS officers and were accompanied to the various departments by an escort of two men. Anyone who stopped in the corridors was automatically suspected of trying to listen at the office doors and was promptly shouted at. But, although exaggerated, the security measures were really amateur. For example, I noticed a number of sheds on a building site opposite the entrance to the house which were not watched and from which anybody using a camera with a telescopic lens could easily have photographed every person entering or leaving the counterespionage building.

To reach Schellenberg's private office a visitor had to pass through two outer offices, one of which was occupied by his secretaries, the other by his adjutant, Dr. Schmitz. Schellenberg sat at a large writing desk with a polished top. On it stood a small attractive model cannon which he used as a paperweight. But on the left and right, within easy reach under the central drawer, special compartments containing automatic pistols had been fitted. Schellenberg had to reckon at all times with the possibility that Kaltenbrunner's or Muller's men might attempt to shoot him down.

Next to his writing desk there was a switchboard that looked like a radio. It was used to control the bugging devices which had been mounted in the various reception and conference rooms and Lord knows where else. There was also a bugging device in Schellenberg's office. It was situated between the two windows and was crudely camouflaged to look like a cupboard. With this instrument he was able to record every conversation which he conducted with his guests. I found this extremely disturbing, and later, when I took to visiting Schellenberg more frequently, I always sat in the farthermost corner of the room in a small alcove, where I thought it least likely that microphones would have been planted. Counterespionage was equipped with every technical refinement of crime detection. The whole setup, which was both elaborate and naïve, was precisely what the man in the street imagines the intelligence service to be.

When Schellenberg saw me fit and well, he was greatly relieved. He wanted to know all about my conversation with Himmler and, above all, about what I had said. I assured him that I had not worn my heart on my sleeve. "How long did the Reichsführer speak to you?" Schellenberg asked. I replied that I had been with him from about 2 P.M. until 7 P.M. "That's good, that's a good sign," Schellenberg exclaimed. "He doesn't often spend such a long time with anyone."

Schellenberg was well aware of the way things were going, and since he knew that Himmler was interested in astrology, he wanted to use me as a means of influencing him. He hoped that my mundane horoscopes would persuade the Reichsführer to have Hitler murdered and to end the war as soon as possible. Schellenberg had delivered my mundane horoscopes to Himmler in person and my own journey to Aigen-ostensibly to discuss the publication of an astrological magazine in Switzerland for propaganda purposes-was really intended to bring me into personal contact with Himmler so that I might bring a direct and lasting influence to bear on him.

At that time-May, 1 944-Schellenberg was particularly nervous. The Allied invasion was expected any day, and Schellenberg also expected an attempt to be made on Hitler's life. For although I was ignorant of it then, it is now common knowledge that Schellenberg had been informed by his intelligence service and through his contacts with the Americans in Switzerland about the assassination plot. He knew Himmler was hesitating on the brink of removing Hitler, and he also knew that Kaltenbrunner was just waiting for an opportunity of eliminating Himmler. The more difficult Schellenberg's situation became, the more he came to rely on Kersten, Himmler's masseur and "father confessor," who did his best to ensure that Himmler listened to Schellenberg as often as possible. Kersten's daily contact with Himmler was an important channel of communication through which Schellenberg was able to pass information and slanted reports. Shortly after my return from Aigen the situation became even more critical. The long-awaited Allied invasion in Normandy began. Kersten came to me wringing his hands. ''Himmler is still hesitating to act," he said. "He told me that his senior officers are no longer trustworthy and that consequently he cannot stage a putsch."

Things then moved quickly. On July 20, an attempt was made on Hitler's life, and Himmler, who had a guilty conscience, made amends by savagely and mercilessly pursuing the conspirators and their followers.

At this point Dr. Goverts returned from Switzerland, where he had been exploring the possibilities of launching the astrological journal. We had a talk in which I made no attempt to conceal my disappointment at the failure of the assassination attempt and Himmler's vacillation. It seemed to me that destiny could no longer be averted and that all my work had been in vain. I told Dr. Goverts that if it was at all possible, I wanted to get away from the SS. But he pointed out to me that it was very important to maintain this direct contact with one of the most powerful men in the Third Reich and that we must at all costs keep on trying to bring influence to bear or at least obtain valuable information for resistance groups. And so I was prevailed upon to continue playing the dangerous role of Himmler's astrological adviser to the bitter end.

 Chapter 10: Himmler and July 20, 1944

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