MI5 manhunt for dead Nazi revealed

A hitherto classified MI5 file, finally released a couple days ago, reveals that the British secret services were, for a long time, chasing after a dead Nazi. Seems like a productive use of taxes folks, and also a classic plot-line for a cloak & dagger movie…?

Martin BormannMartin Bormann, Adolf Hitler’s private secretary, is known to have died along a railway track on May 1, 1945, potentially after ingesting a cyanide pill. Either way, the fact that he died in the waning days of WWII did not deter Britain’s domestic intelligence agency from keeping his file open, tracking and recording sightings of the dead man for years after.

In one such instance, a London correspondent for the Chicago Tribune said he had been approached in 1951 by Bormann, who had asked him to pass along clandestine papers to Washington. It turned out – not surprisingly – that the man claiming to be Bormann was not him at all, but a mentally unstable individual from North London by the name of Harry Ardour.

One memo in the file refers to current (that is, post-mortem) sightings of Bormann in Switzerland, Bolivia, Italy, Tibet, Norway and Brazil. Quite the world traveler!

British spies continued to follow their Bormann leads, despite the protests of their superiors. The manhunt became something of an obsession, and London could not dissuade her agents against keeping up the search…until 1998, when forensic evidence – a skull believed to be Bormann’s was positively identified – closed the case once and for all.


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