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The last written words of Adolf Hitler’s henchman Heinrich Himmler – and his silk toiletry bag – have sold at auction for £4,000.
The items belonged to the family of a British soldier, who had taken them as war trophies when he spotted Himmler attempting to flee Germany at the end of World War Two.
Himmler, who was head of the Nazis’ murderous SS force, posed as an ordinary soldier and used fake documents in a bid to flee the Allies on May 22, 1945.
He was disguised in a shabby military uniform when he was stopped by an army patrol who ordered him to show his ID papers.
But his escape plan was thwarted when eagle-eyed British Sergeant Grenville Grayer spotted a stamp used by SS soldiers on his documents.
He ordered the soldier to write dozens of lines on a piece of paper to check his handwriting against signatures on the documents.
Heinrich Himmler posed as an ordinary soldier and used fake documents in a bid to flee the Allies on May 22, 1945.
The lines Himmler was forced to write after being stopped by a British soldier, along with his wash bag, which sold at auction for £4,200 as part of a collection
Himmler was ordered the soldier to write dozens of lines on a piece of paper (pictured) to check his handwriting against signatures on SS documents
Himmler’s escape plan was thwarted when eagle-eyed British Sergeant Grenville Grayer (pictured) spotted a stamp used by SS soldiers on his documents
A collection of medals, and war trophies, including Himmler’s wash bag and last written words, which sold for almost £7,000 at auction on Thursday. Other paperwork includes a photocopy of Himmler’s arrest report and an original photo of Sgt Grayer while working with 45 FSS Intel Corps
Heinrich Himmler’s murderous SS was among the ‘most feared’ organisations in Nazi Germany
Founded in 1925, the ‘Schutzstaffel,’ German for ‘Protective Echelon,’ initially served as Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler’s (1889-1945) personal bodyguards, and later became one of the most powerful and feared organisations in all of Nazi Germany.
Heinrich Himmler (1900-45), a fervent anti-Semite like Hitler, became head of the Schutzstaffel, or SS, in 1929 and expanded the group’s role and size.
Recruits, who had to prove none of their ancestors were Jewish, received military training and were also taught they were the elite not only of the Nazi Party but of all humankind.
By the start of World War II (1939-45), the SS had more than 250,000 members and multiple subdivisions, engaged in activities ranging from intelligence operations to running Nazi concentration camps.
Some troops specialized in brutalizing and murdering individuals in territories occupied by the Nazis.
They were also involved in the daily operation of Hitler’s death camps.
At the postwar Nuremberg trials, the SS was deemed a criminal organisation for its direct involvement in war crimes.
Himmler penned the line: ‘Ich soll das Reinigungsgerät mitnehmen’, 34 times which roughly translates as: ‘I must bring my rifle cleaning kit.’
The test showed discrepancies in his writing style and Himmler admitted to his captors his real identity as the feared head of the SS.
But Himmler cheated justice after he bit on a cyanide capsule – nicknamed a ‘SS cough drop’ – hidden in his tooth and he dropped down dead.
After his death Sgt Grayer, who worked for British Intelligence Corps, took the written lines along with Himmler’s silk toiletry bag as souvenirs.
The lines and washbag were among a collection of items sold at Richard Winterton Auctioneers for a total of £6,710 on Thursday.
The medals, Himmler’s lines and his washbag sold for £4,200 while a captured SS cap fetched £2,000.
A Luftwaffe pilot’s parachute harness sold for £340 and a collector snapped up a Swastika armband for £170.
Nick Thompson, militaria specialist, said: ‘All things considered, it is simply an amazing archive.
‘Mr Grayer would often chat with his family how one of the soldiers looked uneasy and out of place.
‘When the prisoners were checked, some were in possession of documents which the Intel Corps knew were being faked to cover up real identities.
‘One of these was a Sgt Heinrich Hizinger.
‘Mr Grayer and another sergeant by the name of Britton became even more suspicious and the suspect was ordered to write lines to confirm and ascertain his handwriting.
‘Soon the game was up, and the man identified himself as Heinrich Himmler.’
Sgt Grayer, from Oldbury, West Midlands, was born in 1917 and joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1939 before moving to the newly formed Army Intelligence Corps.
Sgt Grayer (pictured), who worked for British Intelligence Corps, took the written lines along with Himmler’s silk toiletry bag as souvenirs
A captured SS cap fetched £2,000 while a a Swastika armband went for £170 (pictured together)
Sgt Grayer’s medals (pictured), Himmler’s lines and his washbag sold for £4,200 collectively
A Luftwaffe pilot’s parachute harness (pictured) sold for £340 at the auction on Thursday
Himmler’s lines are pictured in a protective sleeve next to an article reporting on the death of Sgt Grayer, who stopped him fleeing Germany following the Nazis’ defeat in 1945
Sgt Grayer’s medals (pictured) included his British Empire Medal in its original box of issue, plus Africa, Italy, France and Germany Stars, Defence and War medals
Sgt Grayer (far left, seated) is pictured with fellow 45 FSS Intel Corps servicemen
The wartime artefacts of Sgt Grayer include a series of photos of tanks and warships, coins and an illustration of a man and woman embracing (pictured). The drawing is part of Nazi propaganda, which shows the soldier being gripped by death in the mirror in front of the couple.
‘ A precarious story’: A document marked ‘German propaganda’ contains a story which was printed alongside a sketch of a woman kissing a soldier, who then looks into the mirror and sees ‘death’ kissing her husband, who is away on the frontlines
Several documents relating to Sgt Grayer’s service, including a certificate of transfer and record of service (pictured)
Sgt Grayer (pictured in service) passed the souvenirs to his family who have kept them safe following his death in 1955 at the age of 78
It was while serving with 45 FSS in Germany following the Nazi surrender that he stumbled across Himmler on May 22, 1945.
The German soldiers were stopped at the Bremervorde bridge and handed over to 45 FSS for identity checking.
The next day Himmler killed himself – just three weeks after Hitler’s own suicide in his secret bunker.
Just hours after Himmler’s death, Sgt Grayer pocketed the handwriting samples and the silk toiletry bag as a war trophy.
Sgt Grayer passed the souvenirs to his family who have kept them safe following his death in 1955 at the age of 78.
His medals included his British Empire Medal in its original box of issue, plus Africa, Italy, France and Germany Stars, Defence and War medals.
Other paperwork includes a photocopy of Himmler’s arrest report and an original photo of Sgt Grayer while working with 45 FSS Intel Corps.
Sgt Grayer’s nephew Martyn Grayer, of Lichfield, Stafforshire, said: ‘It has been a fascinating experience to revisit the extraordinary story that relates his wartime experiences and the event of Himmler’s capture that with recent events seem to resonate even more.
‘Our ‘Uncle Gren’ fulfilled the entire definition of a ‘favourite uncle’, a unique character, generous, supportive with an anarchic humour but most of all liked by everyone he met.’
Source: Daily Mail