Uncovering Himmler’s Treasure
HIMMLER never gave me chocolate, uttered the elderly villager as he showed us around the large shed in which, as a 10-year-old, he had chattered away to the former head of the dreaded SS over the course of eight eventful days in May 1945. Heinrich Himmler and members of his bodyguard had driven over to this farmhouse in the tiny hamlet of Mariengaard, close to Flensburg, the German city on the Danish border in Schleswig-Holstein. To avoid prying eyes Himmler preferred to wait in his car, the shed doors firmly closed, listening to his car radio, as his men were inside the family house working on false identity papers to pass through the British lines on an escape to the south that would eventually lead to capture and suicide.
The villager had never before told his extraordinary story and sadly he died shortly after our interview in 2019. He vividly reminisced how he had clamboured into the passenger seat only for Himmler to gruffly push him out. This young boy, always hungry, and on the cadge for chocolate from anyone in uniform, had a second abiding memory of Himmler: he kept his briefcase close.
That briefcase became the focus of a later frantic search by British Intelligence, as had the whereabouts of two large metal strongboxes. A file quietly declassified only a few years ago, led us to uncover a story never before revealed. In Himmler never gave me Chocolate, in the first of six accounts of episodes that took place in the final days of the Third Reich, we disclose where these strongboxes were stored, referred to in top-secret British documents as ‘Himmler’s Treasure’, even their contents, and the names of the two SS officers who hid them. One returned, 20 years later, and the heated exchange with the farmhouse owner was overheard. We visited the private property in which Himmler stayed during those eight days in May and to view the strip of land where his briefcase was buried by one of his bodyguards.
Another extraordinary story in this new book recalls what happened to 20 young children in a bombed-out schoolhouse in Hamburg, an event so shocking, it still stains the city.
Himmler never gave me Chocolate is available in paperback and can be ordered through any bookshop or media.