Berchtesgaden military intelligence records
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George R. Allen (1919-1998) and the Counter-Intelligence Corps in Berchtesgaden, Germany, in 1945
During the Second World War, George R. Allen served with the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army as an interrogator of prisoners of war. As the war drew to a close in 1945, the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC), which was entering upon the task of rounding up former Nazi officials in German territory, was sorely in need of individuals who spoke German. Because of his knowledge of German, Allen was assigned to the CIC detachment of his division. One of his colleagues in the detachment was Erich Albrecht, who was of half German parentage and spoke fluid German as well as French. The detachment had the task of finding and interrogating Nazis in the areas to which they were assigned. In May, Allen's CIC detachment was sent to Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps, the site of a favored retreat of Hitler and a key site in Nazi operations.
Allen arrived in Berchtesgaden on 5 May 1945. Over the next several months the Germans who were questioned by Allen and Albrecht included a number of figures from Hitler's immediate milieu, such as his sister, his half-sister, his chauffeur, one of his personal secretaries, and his personal physician. The interrogations yielded information about the last days of Hitler, including his suicide and the events around it; the assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944; the death (also by suicide, as it was revealed) of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in October 1944; the structure of the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst) of the SS; and the movements and actions of the German High Command Operational Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstab) in the last months of war. Among the various materials that came into the possession of the CIC detachment in Berchtesgaden were two stenographic notebooks found in Hitler's house, containing dictations of top Nazi officials, including Hitler himself.
On 7 May, just as Allen was taking up his duties in Berchtesgaden, he was brought two Germans who were said to have information of special interest. Their names were Gerhard Herrgesell and Hans Jonuschat, and they turned out to be former members of the Stenographic Service of Hitler's headquarters. From them, Allen learned about the existence of detailed records of Hitler's daily military conferences, which the Stenographic Service had been recording for Hitler since September 1942. Eventually Allen met the six colleagues of Herrgesell and Jonuschat, and then had at his disposal the entire eight-person team of stenographers who had been working for Hitler at the end of the war.
Hitler had created the Stenographic Service following a serious disagreement with one of his military leaders, Alfred Jodl; the service was given the mission of keeping careful minutes of his military conferences. The members of the service were highly qualified professionals, all of them with legal training; most of them had previously been stenographers for the German parliament, which had stopped meeting in April 1942. Hitler's military conferences were typically held twice a day, with the most important and longest conference, in the early to mid afternoon, devoted to the discussion of the 'morning military situation' (Morgenlage) for that day; and a second meeting, late in the evening, focused on the 'evening military situation' (Abendlage). In addition there might be a third special conference.
Two stenographers covered each conference so that they could compare their notes; and three official typescript copies were created on the basis of the stenographic records. The primary copy, along with the original stenographic notes, was reserved for Hitler himself, and was kept at his current headquarters, moving around with him from place to place. One of the remaining two copies was filed in the Army Archives in Berlin; and the other was delivered to Brigadier General Walter Scherff, the official historian of the German High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht).
At the time that Allen spoke to the stenographers, both the archive copy and Scherff's copy were presumed to have been destroyed. Hitler's set of the records had been flown out of Berlin to be stored in a garage facility in Hintersee, a small town outside of Berchtesgaden. Around the end of April or the beginning of May, those records were supposed to have been destroyed by the SS, on orders given by Scherff. Nevertheless, Allen went out to the site with several of the stenographers to investigate.
In Hintersee, Allen found that the records had been dumped into a pit and burned. But the destruction was not complete. Sifting through the charred remains over the next several days, Allen and his colleague Albrecht were able to retrieve a significant number of viable fragments, amounting to about 800 pages. The former stenographers of Hitler were given a work space at the CIC headquarters at Berchtesgaden, and they worked for two months or more on transcribing and reconstructing the fragments.
Before his military service, George Allen, who had graduated from Haverford College in 1940, had worked in the family business, William H. Allen, Bookseller, dealing in specialized and rare books, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. George Allen's father, William Allen, had founded the bookstore in 1918, in Temple, Pennsylvania, and had moved it to Philadelphia two years later. Following the death of William Allen in 1935, his widow, George's mother, ran the business. After George Allen's discharge from military service in November 1945, he returned to the firm and headed it until the end of his life. He died on 20 November 1998. An obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer (25 November 1998) described Allen as "the dean of Philadelphia booksellers."
The Berchtesgaden Military Intelligence Records comprise materials related to the records gathered by the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) detachment of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army, which was stationed in Berchtesgaden, Germany, at the close of the Second World War. George R. Allen, who collected the materials, was a member of that CIC detachment. Two categories of materials form the core of the collection: 1) transcriptions of interrogations and reports of the CIC in Berchtesgaden (Series II); and 2) transcriptions of fragmentary records of Hitler's military conferences (Series IV).
The subjects of the interrogations recorded by Allen and his colleagues in Berchtesgaden and vicinity beginning in May 1945 were all Germans with Nazi associations who had been found in the area, including such figures as Paula Wolf, Hitler's sister; Angela Hammitzsch, his half-sister; Christa Schroeder, one of Hitler's personal secretaries; Erich Kempka, former chauffeur of Hitler, who offered information about the suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun; Heinz Buchholz, a former member of the Stenographic Service of Hitler's headquarters, who was an eyewitness to the assassination attempt on Hitler on 20 July 1944; and Percy Ernst Schramm, who had been the head compiler of the war journal of the German High Command Operational Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstab). Allen cautions in his introductory essay: "In reading these interrogations the critic must remember that we did not make them for posterity, but only for our immediate information and reference." The records of these interrogations found in Series II are partly in the form of typescripts and partly in the form of typescript carbons. A number of the documents have handwritten emendations, and a few are signed. When originally received by the University of Pennsylvania in 1946, these documents represented confidential material, since the interrogations were carried out by military personnel in Germany in the execution of their duties.
Included in Series II are also the transcriptions produced by the CIC detachment of excerpts from two stenographic notebooks containing dictations by high-level Nazi officials, including Hitler. Allen mentions in his introductory essay that he "confiscated [the notebooks] from an AP reporter who had found them in Hitler's house on the Obersalzberg."
Not all of the individuals found and detained by the CIC in Berchtesgaden were interrogated with a stenographer present. In the case of "top-ranking men" such as Robert Ley, Fritz Sauckel, and General Frank Ritter von Epp, Allen explains that, "not being sufficiently well briefed," he and his colleagues found that the subjects were able to answer all questions evasively, with a view to clearing themselves, and that it was therefore felt that such interrogations would not yield any useful information. Lower-ranking subjects who were interrogated had various reasons for being willing to give their stories, and gave them voluntarily, "or as volunteerily [sic] as information is given when it is asked by the victor of the vanquished." Allen clarifies that he and his colleagues "at no time used violence or force in questioning persons."
The fact that a subject was interrogated by Allen's CIC detachment did not necessarily mean that he or she was being arrested. In his introductory essay, Allen mentions, for instance, that Hitler's sister Paula was simply let go, and makes some remarks concerning the question of arrests in other cases. He refers to the decision about whom to arrest as one of his primary responsibilities and indicates that the guidelines provided by the Army handbook were impossible to fulfill: "In my area I had neither the German-speaking personnel to process nor the means to evacuate the several hundred persons eligible for arrest in this handbook."
English translations of selected interrogations that were made by George Allen for Army records are found in Series III, along with a memorandum dictated by him, dated 4 January 1947, in which he claims authorship of the translations (his name is not indicated on the typescripts themselves), and also makes some other remarks about extant copies of interrogations.
The second main category of materials, found in Series IV, comprises transcriptions of fragmentary records of Hitler's military conferences from December 1942 to March 1945, which were fortuitously salvaged by George Allen and his colleague Erich Albrecht from the charred remains of one set of Hitler's official record that had been stored at Hintersee, a small town outside of Berchtesgaden. Allen was led to the site by former members of Hitler's Stenographic Service, who were among the people whom he questioned in Berchtesgaden. The former stenographers of Hitler transcribed the fragments of the record at the CIC headquarters in Berchtesgaden in May to June 1945.
Series IV comprises a full set of the documents that were produced by the team of stenographers at Berchtesgaden, in the form of typescript carbons with occasional handwritten emendations. This set was one of a total of six copies that were produced. It was one of the two copies given to the Military Intelligence Service, and was retained by Allen. One copy, along with the original fragments, was sent to the United States Seventh Army Document Center, and today resides in Washington, D.C. The other three copies were turned over to the United Nations War Crimes Commission.
The reconstructed records of Hitler's military conferences in Series IV represent only a small fraction of the total record. The surviving fragments amounted to about 800 pages out of an estimated 200,000 pages that constituted the full record. In the 1950s and 1960s additional discoveries were made of materials related to several of Hitler's military conferences beyond the set of records represented here.
Three essays by George Allen (Series I) provide a general orientation to the collection. They are in the form of typescripts with handwritten emendations; two of them are signed. Two of the essays are expressly formulated as introductions to, respectively, the records of the CIC interrogations (Series II) and the transcribed fragments of the minutes of Hitler's military conferences (Series IV).
In addition, the collection also includes, as Series IV, materials related to the publication of Hitler Directs His War. The Secret Records of His Daily Military Conferences, selected and annotated by Felix Gilbert (New York: Oxford UP, 1950), a book that conveys a portion of the records of Hitler's military conferences in English translation, with explanatory notes by Gilbert, and a foreword by George Allen. Among these materials are four typewritten manuscripts, including one read by Allen, and one that was the final manuscript for publication; galley proofs; and page proofs.
A few newspaper clippings can be found at the end of the collection (Series V), all dating from approximately 1945 to 1946. These news articles contain reports about the information that was being learned at that time by American military intelligence in Germany.
Endnotes (Scope and Contents)
 "Introduction to Berchtesgaden Interrogations," typescript I (folder 1), p. 11.
 "Introduction to Berchtesgaden Interrogations," typescript I (folder 1), p. 9.
 "Introduction to Berchtesgaden Interrogations," typescript I (folder 1), pp. 11-12.
 "Introduction to Berchtesgaden Interrogations," typescript I (folder 1), p. 12.
 See folder 23.
 The disposition of the six copies is recounted by Helmut Heiber in his introduction to the first complete published edition of the material, Hitlers Lagebesprechungen. Die Protokollfragmente seiner militärischen Konferenzen, 1942-1945, ed. Heiber (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1962), 25. That edition appeared in English as: Hitler and His Generals. Military Conferences 1942-1945. The First Complete Stenographic Record of the Military Situation Conferences, from Stalingrad to Berlin, trans. Roland Winter, Krista Smith, and Mary Beth Friedrich (London: Greenhill Books, 2002). The latter edition includes an English edition introduction by Gerhard L. Weinberg; and David M. Glantz is credited as the Editorial Advisor English Edition.
 George Allen, "Introduction to Hitler's 'Lagebesprechungen,'" typescript (folder 2), p. 2. See also Allen's foreword, "On the Discovery and Preservation of the Record," in Hitler Directs His War. The Secret Records of His Daily Military Conferences, selected and annotated by Felix Gilbert (New York: Oxford UP, 1950), xi.
 Transcriptions related to two additional military conferences were included in Heiber's German edition in 1962. Gerhard Weinberg published a further conference transcript in 1964; and other newly discovered material was published by the German magazine Der Spiegel in 1966. See Weinberg's discussion of these later discoveries in the English edition introduction to Hitler and his Generals, iv-v.
 According to Gerald Weinberg, Hitler Directs His War "contains less than a quarter of the surviving material"; English edition introduction to Hitler and his Generals, ix, n. 3.
Gift of George R. Allen, 1946, 1950.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Violet Lutz
- Finding Aid Date
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