[back] Heinrich Müller
Interview with Gregory Douglas
From: The Spotlight, January 6, 1997, pp. 12-14.
Gregory Douglas, author of the controversial book Gestapo Chief: The 1948 Interrogation of Heinrich Müller, was interviewed at Spotlight headquarters in Washington. Müller, chief of the Gestapo, was officially listed as killed during the final days of World War II, but Douglas says Müller made a deal with the United States, was brought to this country and lived here until his death several years ago. Through conversations with Müller and records supplied by the former Gestapo chief, Gregory has assembled a remarkable history that flies in the face of much surviving wartime propaganda.
Questions are by Fred Blahut of The Spotlight and George Fowler, editor of The Barnes Review. They are in bold type. Answers by Douglas are in regular type.
Why hasn't this material appeared elsewhere? World War II has been over for 52 years.
It wasn't available until now. Müller gave it to me and I promised I would not publish it until his death.
Müller was officially reported to have been killed during the final days of the war. You're saying you spoke to him afterward. Where and when did that take place?
We met here in the United States in 1965. We were introduced by a mutual friend. He was a U.S. citizen and lived here until his death. I'm not prepared to be more specific than that.
Why did he talk to you>
He was retired. He resented the stories that had been told about the Gestapo and wanted to set the record straight. The Gestapo has been falsely attacked, he said. It was not a murderous organization.
Perhaps he wanted to clean up his own image?
That, too; yes. For the sake of his children.
The word "Gestapo" has a really evil connotation here in the United States. Are you saying this is a myth?
The Gestapo was not a Nazi organization. It was made up of professionals. For instance, when a complaint about a Jew was lodged, Gestapo internal memos indicate "an investigation is called for." If the Gestapo was what propaganda says it was, then there would have been no investigation.
If a Jew was found guilty, of course, it was off to the camps. But if the accusation was found to be false, the accuser was arrested. All this is documented.
How did Müller come to the United States?
The same way other Germans, like Wehrner von Braun, for instance, came here. They were recruited by the CIA. In the case of Müller, both the CIA and military intelligence wanted him. The CIA started the ball rolling, but eventually, Army intelligence got him.
Will you comment on the post-war propaganda rumor that, immediately after the war, Müller was working for the Soviets?
A number of people from German intelligence worked for the Soviets; they worked for [Reinhard] Gehlen and they worked for the CIA. We [the Americans] didn't know these people were double agents. They became mercenaries, keeping themselves and their families alive.
These men were German nationalists first and foremost. They would work for either side.
But never Müller. He hated the Soviets. And his area of expertise was the Soviets. They didn't need him. He couldn't tell them anything they didn't know. But we needed him. He could tell us a good deal about the Soviets; Soviet agents within the U.S., that sort of thing.
Something should be said about Gehlen; who he was, what he did, and so forth.
I said some very ugly things about Gehlen. He has passed on. I knew him very well. He was the head of Foreign Armies East; a part of the Wehrmacht.
You say he wasn't very nice?
Oh, he was a nasty little man. I got a list of the people who worked for him and traced it back.
Did Müller comment on him?
Müller ran him. Gehlen sold himself to the Americans. All Gehlen was able to do during the war was battlefield intelligence. That would be interrogations of prisoners; interrogations of deserters; low-level radio broadcasts; maps and captured documents; that sort of thing. He had no information about what was going on inside the Soviet Union.
Müller, on the other hand, penetrated the Soviet Union. He was an expert in radio intercepts and he had a man inside. He captured a Soviet official and "turned" him with a promise to let him go. Müller always kept his promises. He wasn't a killer.
But Gehlen was much better known to Americans.
I knew both of them. Gehlen had a high profile, but Müller preferred the background. He didn't like to have his picture taken. And Müller was an intellectual. He spoke Spanish, English and Russian, all self-taught. He was a pianist and a good chess player.
What was Heinrich Müller's background?
He came from a poor family in Bavaria. He started out as an office helper and worked himself up to head the Bavarian state police. Then he came to Berlin. He never joined the party.
Eventually he rose to a high position in which he was reporting directly to [Adolf] Hitler. But not in the beginning; in the beginning they didn't like each other. Müller was one of the most determined opponents of the Nazis in the early days.
Conventional wisdom indicates that Hitler and his cohorts, once they came to power, eliminated all anti-Nazis. How did Müller survive and even rise in government service?
He was too capable. [Reinhard] Heydrich called him in and talked to him and then told Hitler: "This man we need to help us fight against the Russians. It doesn't matter what he did in the past against us."
What did Müller have to say about Hitler and the Jews?
He [Hitler] didn't like Jews, but he was an intellectual anti-Semite. He approached the Jewish question intellectually.
Müller was neutral on the subject; he didn't care. And he said that the Gestapo spent a lot of time chasing Jews around when the time could have been better spent on other things.
Was Müller the highest ranking man in intelligence in Nazi Germany with the exception of Admiral Walter Canaris?
He was the head of the secret police, which I have pointed out was a state organization and not a party organization. He went from that into the Gestapo in 1934-35. He came to Berlin and was given different sections to run. When Canaris started to go down the drain, Müller acquired most of his duties and his files; certainly all counterintelligence activities.
Later as the war progressed, he ran the 20th of July Commission. Toward the end of the war he was in charge of all intelligence. It was phenomenal how much he controlled. He had the files of all the intelligence organizations; he even had control of the telephone-tapping group.
Is it possible to estimate how much intelligence information he passed to us?
He gave the United States what we were interested in, which was information on the Soviet Union; Soviet agents in the United States; Soviet agents in Great Britain. It was what we really wanted and we paid him $1 million for it. Anything dealing with what went on inside Germany didn't interest us.
We're led to believe that the Allies went in at the end of the war and just scooped up all the intelligence material; material that the Soviets didn't get.
There was a huge fight at the end of the war. The British were trying to find out what the Germans had on them, for instance; as were the Americans. But Müller had made copies of everything. He had material that the U.S. desperately wanted.
What about Rudolf Hess and the Duke of Windsor? Did he talk about them?
The Hess matter is very simple. I tell the whole story about Hess and the Duke of Windsor in the second volume.
A recent story in a British newspaper talked about a planned invasion of England by the Germans. The story said Windsor talked about it with the Germans; that he would be returned to the throne in that scenario.
Operation Sea Lion [the code name for the invasion] was a bluff. The Germans knew their phone conversations were being intercepted.
According to the London Independent, Windsor went along with it.
Oh yes; but it was all bluff on the part of the Germans. They didn't want him. And the British ate it up.
In your book, one of the most controversial items is a reported conversation between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to Pearl Harbor in which Churchill tells FDR that the attack was coming. What did Müller have to say -- and what do you know independently -- about radio intercepts during that period?
The British were very capable, more capable than us, as were the Germans. I describe in the book how the Germans were able to intercept radio telephone transmissions. There is a good deal of unclassified material on this in the National Archives, so there is no question that the Germans were pulling these conversations out of the air.
The archives in Germany have copies of 10,000 intercepts including the one between Churchill and FDR.
Didn't Churchill, if not FDR, know that their radio telephone conversations could be picked up by the Germans?
You're dealing with two monstrous egos, but limited intellects. They just felt that they were so important that they could talk and no one would listen.
Did Müller discuss with you his relationship with the National Socialist government? Was he getting political interference in any areas except as we already discussed, being ordered to chase Jews around?
They left him alone. He was a quiet man. He didn't make any attempts to go after anyone else's power. And he was very efficient. He came to work very early and he went home very late, eventually moving into an apartment at his office. He worked 14 hour days, seven days a week. He had one vacation during his entire tenure; one week. He was sick once and was out for three days.
What sort of policeman was he?
He was an excellent interrogator. They called him "the man with the iron [backside]," because he would sit for hours questioning a person. He didn't get nasty or scream or anything like that; he didn't need to. His theory was that if a person were interrogated long enough and had something to hide, he would eventually make a mistake. "And then I'd get him," Müller told me. "I'd remember." And he did. He had a phenomenal memory.
Did Müller talk to you about the counterfeit British pound notes? Were they destroyed?
There were varying degrees of quality of the notes printed by the Germans. Some were excellent; as good as the original. Many of them wound up in the Bank of England.
The CIA got their hands on some of this money and used it to pay off the Arabs in Lebanon.
There are stories about cooperation between Müller and the CIA in nefarious doings, including black-market operations which made him wealthy and made a lot of money for the CIA, too.
After the war the Company [i.e., the CIA. --Ed.] was working with Müller to sell stolen art. They'd give it to him, he'd fence it, keep half and give half to them in cash.
Speaking of cash, what about those Swiss bank accounts that have been in the news lately? Did Müller know anything about them?
The bank accounts kept by various Nazis in Switzerland were known to Müller and cleaned out. There's nothing left in them now. The Swiss got a third, Müller got a third and the CIA got a third.
Did Müller have any comments on the British royal family?
He said the members of the British royal family were inbred imbeciles who married their own cousins and produced children with the intellect of chickens. He said the king -- that was back then -- was so stupid that if it weren't for his wife, he wouldn't take off his clothes when he bathed. That was George VI.
You've said that Müller discussed the CIA with you at length. Tell us what he said.
I discuss that in detail in Volume II.
You have undoubtedly been questioned about the authenticity of the material in your book. What is your response?
People start screaming about the book and I say, "Now listen; I'm not interested in whether you like the book or don't like the book. If you liked it I'm glad you bought it. Thank you.
"If you don't like it, that's fine. If you can find anything substantive with the book that's wrong, I want to know about it. Please tell me and if I'm wrong I will make a correction in public."
I have never had one substantive objection. I have had personal objections; people who said "We wouldn't do that," or "we wouldn't hire a horrible person like that." But that's not substantive; that's a personal opinion. I don't care about personal opinions.
No one has been able to produce proof that anything you say in the book is wrong?
That's correct. A man at the National Archives asked me the same question, about any substantive objections to the book. I said I had received no substantive objections; that no one had been able to find anything wrong.
He said: "I can't find anything wrong either."
People have had plenty of time to object. The book has been out for a year. It was a best seller in Germany, so they banned it.
END OF INTERVIEW
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