Spring Auction 2019 Sale 75
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/30/2019
Historically important “Cipher Message”, 1p. 4to., [n.p., Headquarters, British Main Second Army], May 20, 1940, ordering the arrest of Karl Donitz and his Flensberg Government, and effectively ending Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich”. The purple ink document, marked “TOPSEC” (“Top Secret”) and signed in facsimile by an unidentified major general, was sent to “Main 8 Corps”, the British VIII Corps headquarters at Plon. A paper filing tag is attached to the left margin of the document: “SHAEF CONTROL P[ARTY]” with the last few letters torn away. This tag indicates that this very copy, one of perhaps only a handful issued to officers, was in the hands of the SHAEF Control Party at Flensburg which was charged with the actual arrests. It reads, in part: “…members of the so called German Government of Admiral DONITZ and of OKW at FLENSBURG will now be arrested by you as quickly as possible after consultation with head of SHAEF Control Party OKW…nominations of personnel to be arrested will be made by SHAEF Control Party OKW... total numbers of personnel for disposal are estimated to amount approximately to 470 off[ice]rs and 2400 OR... all arrested personnel should be held in a separate camp until such time as orders for their final disposal are issued by this HQ….certain special personnel nominated by SHAEF Control Party OKW estimated to number NOT more than 30 will be conducted to Main HQ Second Army for fwd transmission to ASHCAN….OKW personnel will not be arrested as yet... archives at FLENSBERG will be seized and secured by you with a view to SHAEF intelligence exploitation... they will be disposed of as directed by the SHAEF Control Party... treat as very urgent and report on progress of arrests as plans develop…” With various instructions at bottom noting that the message is a “PRIORITY” and “MOST IMMEDIATE…NOT TO BE SIGNALLED”. Two file holes to the left edge and with folds consistent with having been carried in a shirt or pants pocket, overall very good. On the morning of May 23, 1945, Brigadier Gen. Lowell Ward Rooks (1893-1973), on the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, summoned Grossadmiral Karl Donitz, who headed the Flensburg Government, Gen. Alfred Jodl, and Hans-Georg von Friedeburg to the liner Patria. Here they were greeted by a large crowd of press reporters, speculating on a SHAEF Control Party action and alerted by SHAEF correspondents leaving Paris. On entering the ships' conference room, the three Germans were informed by Rooks that they had been summoned on instructions from General Eisenhower, who in agreement with the Soviet High Command, had decided the Acting German Government and OKW leaders should be arrested. This marked the official end of the “Flensburg Government”, the last vestige of Hitler’s Third Reich. Now as prisoners of war and under guard, they were told to pack and were escorted to an awaiting aircraft. When asked by Rooks if he had any statement to make, Donitz replied: “Any word would be superfluous”. Meanwhile, members of the government, unaware of the proceedings on the Patria, had gathered for their daily conference. Fully armed British soldiers burst into the room shouting “Hands up!”. All the Germans were then strip-searched for concealed weapons and documents. The arrests were intended to make the headlines, with over sixty reporters invited to record the scene. In the New York Times of the 24th May, Drew Middleton wrote: “The Third Reich died today”. American diplomat Robert Murphy summed it up: “After the arrest of Grand Admiral Donitz and his associates, not even a remnant remained of any German government. The conquerors of the Nazis were in complete control and the administration of Germany was their responsibility.”
Current Bidding (Reserve Not Met)
Minimum Bid: $1,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $0.00
Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000
Auction closed on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.
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