Fake stamp which led to capture of Heinrich Himmler unearthed after 75 years

Phoebe Southworth
Heinrich Himmler  - AP

A fake stamp which led to the capture of leading Nazi Heinrich Himmler has been unearthed 75 years after his death.

British soldiers detained the SS leader at a checkpoint in Bremervörde, northern Germany, a few weeks after the Second World War ended in May 1945.

Himmler handed over an A4 identity document German soldiers were given at the end of the conflict, with his rank recorded as sergeant and his name as Heinrich Hizinger - an attempt to conceal his true identity as a key architect of the Holocaust and one of the most wanted Nazis still alive.

But an official stamp on his document was recognised by the British soldiers as the same one used by members of the SS who had been trying to evade capture.

The whereabouts of the incriminating papers has remained hidden ever since Himmler was finally caught.

However, they have now been donated to the Military Intelligence Museum in Shefford, Bedfordshire, by the great niece of Lt Col Sidney Noakes, along with the braces Himmler was wearing when he was detained.

Noakes, born in 1905, was a lawyer who joined the Intelligence Corps in 1943 but was seconded to MI5. After the war he returned to his career as a lawyer, eventually becoming a County Court Judge. He died in 1993.

He is believed to have been one of the MI5 members who interrogated Himmler before his death, and was possibly given permission to keep the documents by his superiors when any valuable intelligence had been extracted.

"I can't think of any other way he could have got them," said Bill Steadman, curator of the Military Intelligence Museum.

"Without this damning stamp on the document it is possible that Himmler may have been able to pass through the system unnoticed, and escape as did many other wanted Nazis.

"What appeals to me most about this story is that the Germans themselves made his unmasking an absolute certainty."

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