Angel of Death

Nazi Hunters chronicles the stories of those individuals who chased some of the most hated and reviled criminals on earth. Prepared to hunt the perpetrators of the World War II atrocities that shocked the world these pursuers of justice included the likes of Winston Churchill, the British Special Air Services, the strategists who planned the D-Day landings and the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations (Mossad).
Episode Hunting The Nazi Rocket Scientists – These stories of pursuit and the struggle to balance the scales of justice are full of drama and tragedy. Brilliant German scientists worked for the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, creating the V2 ballistic missile. When the war ended, the US was desperate to get its hands on these scientists before the Russians did. They wanted their expertise as the need for military superiority overrode any concerns of bringing these criminals to justice. Their wartime work hid a dark secret. Hundreds of slave labourers died building the V2. There was a chase across Germany in 1945 to get them before the Russians did. But these rocket scientists had blood on their hands.
Episode The Hunt For Martin Bormann – Martin Bormann was vital to Hitler. Bormann made Hitler, and the Third Reich, rich through thinly veiled extortion schemes such as The Hitler Endowment Fund of German Industry. He also came up with the idea of charging royalties on Hitler’s image on postage stamps, and so made his Fuhrer personally wealthy. He became so close to Hitler and the running of the war that Hitler once screamed “To win this war I need Bormann!”. More sinister was Bormann’s involvement in ensuring the progress of the final solution . Himmler had to report back to Bormann on the extermination of the Jews. BormannHitler’s doctor Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann (the Head of the Hitler Youth) all left the bunker in Berlin together after Hitler’s suicide on 30th April 1945. After Axmann left them at the Lehrter Station Bormann and Stumpfegger disappeared. This led to one of the longest Nazi hunts in history.
Episode Justice SAS Style – Former Gestapo officers in Eastern France, Hans-Dietrich Ernst and Heinrich Neuchtschwanger. Also targeted, the evil Dr Rohde, who executed four female spies by lethal injection. Ernst and Neuchtschwanger murdered some 31 SAS soldiers caught during a secret mission, Operation Loyton. The SAS War Crimes Investigation Team, commanded by Major Eric Alistair “Bill” Barkworth. SAS secretly hunted down these Gestapo officers. It is said that the SAS always prefer to “hunt their fox in secret”and this is what they did here. Alongside him was SOE operative, Vera Atkins There were 31 missing SAS men, victims of the botched Operation Loyton. But there were no clues. No bodies. They had just disappeared. It smelled bad.
Episode Peiper the Murderer of Malmedy – Joachim Peiper and his vicious bunch of SS thugs marched US 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion into a field near Malmedy in January 1945 and shot them. There were a series of other massacres of US soldiers which were attributed to Peiper. The hunters were members of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. They were horrified by the brutality of the action. It was also the biggest massacre of US soldiers in the Second World War and caused uproar among the US public.
Episode Death Camp Kommandant Stangl – Franz Stangl was the Nazi commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps in Poland. He was responsible for the extermination of around 900,000 men, women and children. At the end of the war, he escaped to Italy where he joined a “rat line” organised by Vatican officials. From therehe disappeared. Simon Wiesenthal was a survivor of the Holocaust. Born in the Ukraine in 1908, he was rounded up with his family in 1939 and imprisoned in a labour camp where he serviced the German railroad. In May 1945, he was liberated by Allied soldiers from Mauthausen camp. His six foot frame weighed barely 99 pounds. Restored to health, he vowed to track down some of the Nazi monsters who had put him and so many other Jews through hell.
Episode The “Good” Nazi? Albert Speer – His crimes included using and organising slave labour in death camps and prolonging the war by his fanatical work to develop the Nazi war machine. He was hunted by two groups. The UN War Crimes Commissionbut first he was wanted by the US Strategic Bombing Survey. This strange group of people included the economist JK Galbraith and the veteran arms negotiator Paul Nitze. These were hardly hardened prosecutors and they had authorisation from the highest level to keep Speer out of the hands of the Criminal Investigators from the UN. They tracked Speer down and spirited him away to a country house after the war, where he was extensively questioned, giving the Americans detailed information about the effectiveness of US bombing. This was critical intelligence and would eventually shape much of US strategy during the Cold War. When this story leaked out it caused huge controversy as the hint has always been that the Americans agreed to go easy on Speer at his trial in exchange for his co-operation.
Episode The Angel Of Death Mengele – He experimented on adults and children in the Auschwitz death camps. He was a prime target and was, for many years the world’s most wanted criminal. The Hunters were Simon Wiesenthal, the UN War Crimes Commission and even Mossad. But none of them succeeded. Wiesenthal lacked the resources. The official investigators made blunders, twice letting Mengele slip through their hands. Mossad preferred to concentrate on Eichmann. After the war, the victorious powers had literally millions of POWs to screen. Among them were 22 people called Josef Mengele. So even though the hunt was one for the “Angel of death” of Auschwitzhe simply got lost in an American POW camp. Once out, Mengele was simply able to slip out of view thanks to the Nazi escape organisation, Odessa. But one man would not give up on him. Simon Wiesenthal had been imprisoned in concentration camps twice during the war, but managed to get out of the first through a degree of collaboration. He was recaptured after a year and survived because his new guards needed prisoners in order to escape being sent to fight on the Eastern Front.
Episode The Jewish Avengers – After the war, a Jewish group called the Avengers were horrified by the number of known Nazis with blood on their hands who were simply allowed to resume their normal lives. They decided to hunt these Nazis down. In the spring of 1945, as World War II was drawing to its end, a Passover gathering was addressed by Abba Kovner, a survivor of the Jewish uprising in the Vilna ghetto. He spoke passionately, invoking Psalm 94, in which God promises that he shall deal with the enemies of the people of Israel “He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness.” Among those who heard him were Joseph Harmatz and Leipe Distel. Together they would become the Avengers. Drunk on their powerand believing they were above the law, the Avengers went for one monstrous act of revenge. It was planned by Abba Kovner. He decided that the Germans must suffer as the Jews had suffered. An eye for an eye. Six million for six million. He wanted to poison the water supplies of Munich, Berlin, Nuremburg, Hamburg and Weimar. But Someone high in the Zionist hierarchy betrayed him and he was arrested by British Military Police.
Episode Killing Reinhardt Heydrich – They called him “The Hangman” Reinhardt Heydrichbecame one ofthe most hated men in all of occupied Europe. He was the real mastermind behind the Final Solution and created the blueprint for the Holocaust. Heydrich’s ambition knew no bounds, he even wanted to replace Adolf Hitler. He ruled occupied Czechoslovakia with a rod of iron and thought himself untouchable. But in London, a top secret hit squad had different ideas. They began to target Heydrich for execution.
Episode Hunting Adolf Eichmann – He was the logistical brains behind Hitler’s Final Solution. He organised the transportation and incarceration of 6 million Jews to the death camps. The Holocaust even made him rich. Eichmann stole the jews’ last possessions and sold them for profit. At the end of the war, when others were being arrested, Adolf Eichmann vanished. He had escaped to Argentina where he thought he was safe, but on his tail was Israel’s ruthless intelligence agency Mossad.
Episode The Monster and the Butcher Barbie and Demjanjuk – 1987 was a dramatic year for Nazi Hunters. Klaus Barbie in France and John Demjanjuk in Israel were about to face justice, 45 years after their alleged war crimes. Why had it taken so long?
Episdoe Who Killed Heinrich Himmler – Two weeks after the end of World War II Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and the Gestapo Germany’s dreaded secret police, killed himself while being interrogated by the British. On the face of it his death looked like straightforward suicide.As the mastermind behind the Final Solution, the systematic murder of six million Jews, no-one mourned Himmler’s passing. However it was not long before rumours about the way in which Himmler died began to spread, lasting for years to come.
Episode Goering the Star Exhibit – Commander In Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering was Hitler’s anointed successor and had been at the Fuhrer’s side for over twenty long years. Goering also first suggested the idea of a Final Solution, the extermination of the Jews. At the end of World War 2, Goering was the only top Nazi left alive. As the Allies closed in, one after the other, top Nazis had chosen suicide. Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, all gone. Hermann Goering was the last man standing and the Allies were desperate to put him in the dock. He was soon apprehended and any idea of a happy ending rapidly vanished. At the trial of the century in Nuremberg, he became the Star exhibit, his guilt, unique in its enormity. However the outcome would be as mysterious as it was controversial and would take everyone by surprise.