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The Bormann Testament a Thriller about Hunting for Hitler's Secretary Martin Bormann

Updated on August 4, 2012

Higgins Had to Wait Another 44 Years to Publish the Book as Originally Written

According to the author's note at the beginning of this book, this novel was originally published by Jack Higgins in 1962 under the title of The Testament of Casper Schultz.

There was no mention in the original book of the name Martin Bormann, who was Adolph Hitler's private secretary and number two man in Nazi Germany.

It was only by changing the title and deleting all references to Bormann, that Higgins was able to get his publisher to accept the book for publication in 1962.

At the time of original publication, which was the same year the story took place, the Cold War was at its height and a mere 17 years had passed since the formal cessation of hostilities between the Allied and Axis powers in Europe.

Technically it would be another 28 years before a peace treaty - known as the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany or the Two Plus Four Agreement - between the former Allied powers and Germany was signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990 which officially ended World War II in Europe.

In addition to the periodic capture of top Nazi war criminals such as Adolph Eichmann in 1960, there were frequent rumors of sightings of Martin Bormann in South America and other places.

Despite the periodic tales of Bormann sightings, Martin Bormann has never been located or captured.

With the war still fresh in everyone's memories and a need for a united front in the Cold War, it was not a good time to bring up tales of prominent people, including former government officials in the Allied governments, who had quietly or not so quietly sympathized or even collaborated with the Nazis in the early years of the war when the outcome was still in doubt.

By 2006 It is Safe to Publish the Story as Originally Written

By 2006 these concerns had vanished and Higgins was able to republish the book not only in the form originally intended but, in Higgins' words, with a little more as well.

Not having read the original version of the book, I am not in a position to comment on that version but this version of the book is an espionage thriller that is difficult to put down until one reaches the end.

A Secret Agent is Awakened in the Night

The story opens with British secret agent Paul Chavasse, being awakened by a telephone call shortly after collapsing, exhausted into bed.

Having just returned from a brutal assignment in Greece which has left him totally exhausted, both physically and emotionally, he needs rest.

Despite the late hour and Chavasse's exhaustion, his Chief orders him to report immediately. Loyal agent that he is, Chavasse quickly responds to the request and hurries to report for the new assignment.

An Embarassing Enemy On the Loose and Threatening to Embarrass Important People

A man, claiming to have knowledge of Martin Bormann as well as being in possession of a manuscript containing Martin Bormann's memoirs, has approached a British publishing house after being turned down by a German house.

Chavasse is given the assignment of going to Germany to meet the man, known as Hans Mueller, in order to verify the existence and authenticity of the manuscript as well as obtain it before others learn of its existence.

He is also charged with tracking down Bormann through Mueller. Since the manuscript supposedly names names it is sure to rouse the interest of many.

These would include the Western powers, the Soviets, the Israelis, ex-Nazis hiding in high positions in West Germany as well as prominent people in the West who once had close ties to the Nazis.

To assist Paul, who will be traveling under his own name but, as his cover, pretending to be the publisher, is Sir George Harvey.

Sir George is a former Minister of intelligence in the war time British government and now a wealthy investor who holds a major equity interest in the publishing company in question.

Traveling on the same ferry and train to Germany as Paul, Sir George will be available to be called in, if needed, to add to Paul's credibility as the publisher.

The assignment turns out to be anything but simple and, as with Higgins' other spy thrillers, is packed with action and surprises.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Secret Agent Paul Chavasse

In addition to action and drama, the reader is given insight into the emotional make up and drives of men like Paul Chavasse.

A chance encounter, following the first mix-up in plans, with Mark Hardt, a young Israeli agent, causes Chavasse some moments of introspection.

Hardt is a believer and is motivated by a cause which, in his case, is avenging the Jewish victims of Nazism by hunting down and bringing to justice the Nazis responsible for their deaths.

Chavasse, already somewhat emotionally burned out, finds the idea of working for a purpose appealing. For Chavasse spying is a profession in which getting the job done right is the main driver in his life.

Reflecting on his life, Chavasse comes to the realization that the job has become the main focus of his life to the exclusion of everything else.

He is even forced to admit to himself that, had he been born a decade or two earlier in Germany rather than England, he could just as easily entered the same line of work for the Nazis. In a way it is the job, not the employer and not loyalty to the nation that motivates him.

Chavasse Much Like Higgins' Later Character, ex-IRA Operative, Sean Dillon

In this respect Chavasse is much like Sean Dillon, Higgins' hero of later novels. Dillon, an ex-IRA terrorist and later freelance terrorist who, despite the cold blooded detachment he brings to his job, still retains a touch of humanity.

In Dillon's case, he is duped into flying a mission of mercy to aid some orphaned children in Serbia during the troubles in Bosnia and ends up the prisoner of a super-secret British intelligence organization. When given the choice of death by firing squad without trial or changing employers, this ex-IRA terrorist easily switches sides and goes to work for British Intelligence.

While Chavasse spends his career with British Intelligence, he is forced to admit that he is motivated more by his near addiction to the adrenalin rush that comes from a total focus on a job that continually brings him face to face with death than to any cause.

However, like Dillon, Chavasse also has a thin string connecting him to the rest of humanity as shown by his going out of his way to save the life of an Israeli agent who was assisting Hardt on a previous assignment as well as with his falling in love with Anna Hauptmann, another Israeli agent assisting Hardt on the current mission.

Chavasse Falls in Love but Cannot Break His Addiction to the Adrenalin Rush that Comes With Danger

Chavasse cares for Anna and seriously considers leaving the service and marrying her.

Anna, however, she sees through him and knows that he has become so dependent on the adrenalin rush that is an integral part of the profession that he has chosen that he will never adjust to normal middle class life.

In this way Chavasse is much like a drug addict who periodically looks wistfully at normality but cannot break his dependency on chemical stimulants.

The main difference here is that while the drug addict satisfies his cravings by ingesting the external chemicals his body craves, men like Chavasse satisfy their cravings by forcing their bodies to produce the desired chemicals internally.

Like all Higgins novels this one is fast paced with lots of the action that readers expect in any thriller of this nature. But its true strength is in the character development. Finishing a book like this is very much like meeting and getting to know a new friend very well.

Higgins tends to use the same agents in many of his novels, with new insights into their lives and personalities with each new story thereby allowing us to get to know and develop a friendship of sorts with fictional individuals like Paul Chavasse and Sean Dillon.

Author's Like Higgins Enable Us to Experience the Thrill of Espionage and Danger Within the Safety of Our Homes

Like all forbidden fruits, there is a certain allure to the secret agent life style and there is a part in many of us which, despite the danger and emotional havoc, is attracted to that life style.

Fortunately, a combination of common sense and cowardice keeps us from throwing caution to the wind and becoming secret agents ourselves.

Both Paul Chavasse left his job as a lecturer in languages at a university, and Sean Dillon who abandoned his acting career, in order to embrace a career that requires them to continually put their lives on the line.

However, as readers, we have found a way through the novels of Higgins, Buckley, Ludlum and others, to vicariously experience the thrills of the secret agent life through fictional characters like Chavasse and Dillon while still enjoying the physical and emotional safety of normal middle class life.


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    • solarshingles profile image


      11 years ago from london

      Chuck, thank you very much for so detailed information! I also know about those times of Fascism and Nazism, because I was born a few kilometres from Italy and Austria (Alpine border triangle ) and I enjoyed reading about that sad topic and listening to many real stories of older people, who had survived. Your mentioned facts about British aristocracy are new for me, because I dug a bit deeper only in catering and hospitality habits and standards of British Royal household.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      11 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      solarshingles - thanks for your comment. This book is a work of fiction meant for entertainment. However, Martin Bormann was a real person and throughout the 1950s and 1960s and beyond there were rumors of his whereabouts. Many ex-Nazis were able to escape and hid in places like South America, especially Argentina which has a large German population and whose government was sympathetic to the Axis powers during World War II and which turned a blind eye after the war to local fascist organizations and their sympathizers who were aiding former Nazi officials hiding in that country.

      Bormann was tried and convicted in absentia at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial that followed the war. That tribunal sentenced him to death for his crimes and the hunt was on by the Allied powers and Israel to find him and carry out the sentence imposed by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

      However, there were also rumors that he died attempting to flee Berlin during the Soviet conquest of that city. According to Wikipedia ( ) these rumors were bolstered in 1972 when construction workers uncovered what appeared to be the remains of Bormann during work on a new building. DNA testing in 1998 confirmed that the remains were Bormann's and that he did, in fact die in Berlin in 1945.

      As to Nazi sympathizers, there were many in the United States and Europe who looked favorably on the apparent economic progress that was taking place in Germany under Hitler and his Nazis and in Italy under Hitler's ally Benito Mussolini and his Fascists in Italy. Mussolini is still remembered for getting the trains to run on time in Italy (he did it by stationing military firing squads at each railway station with orders to execute any railroad engineer who's train arrived late. After executing one or two engineers, the trains ran on time for the duration of Mussolini's reign. President Franklin Roosevelt himself is on record for praising Mussolini's economic achievements - this interview, of course, took place prior to the outbreak of the war. The American aviator Charles Lindbergh had his reputation tarnished following a pre-war trip to Germany where he praised the economic achievements of Hitler.

      In England, King Edward VIII (click here for more information was sympathetic to Germany and the Nazi's prior to the war and was courted by Hitler up to and during the war. There were rumors that Hitler intended to restore him to his throne (Edward was forced to abdicate in 1937 because of his plans to marry a twice divorced American social climber) once Germany conquered England. During the war Edward, who then had the title "Duke of Windsor" was packed off to the British colony of the Bahamas which had the effect of placing both the British and American Navies between Edward and Hitler.

      Then there was Douglas Douglas-Hamilton the 14th Duke of Hamilton ( ) who, prior to the war, was active in fascist organizations in England (which were common at the time) and was in contact with a number of prominent Nazis prior to the war. He was so openly sympathetic to the fascist cause that a number of prominent Nazis, including Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy, considered him a potential ally. However, despite his pre-war political views, Hamilton was loyal to Britain and served in the Royal Air Force during the war. This, however, did not stop top Nazis, like Hess, from believing that Hamilton was a potential ally in Britain. This belief eventually led Hess to attempt a secret (not even Hitler knew about it) flight to England in May of 1941 to contact Hamilton (who also knew nothing about these plans in advance) and attempt to negotiate an alliance with Great Britain against the Soviet Union. Hess' plane crashed and he was taken to hospital where he gave his name as Albert Horn and asked to see the Duke. When Hamilton arrived, Hess revealed his true identity, whereupon the Duke reported him to the authorities and assisted in the investigation of Hess following his arrest (Hess spent the remainder of the war as a POW in England and was then sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremburg trials - he died in Spandau prison in 1987 and has the distinction of spending a decade or more as the only prisoner in a prison run jointly by the U.S., England, Soviet Union and France from the end of World War II until his death).

      Martin Bormann replace Rudolph Hess as Hitler's deputy after Hess' defection.

    • solarshingles profile image


      11 years ago from london

      I simply love to read such materials, but I really don't trust them a lot. One needs to take any fact with 'a pinch of a salt', to stay on the safe side. Far too many different political world powers had their interests there. I've found very useful, if one gets a chance to compare papers from the west, papers from the east and papers in between, if they existed. But, that's maybe, a bit too much, though.

      Very nice, very challenging and very specialized hub, even though it is about our every day reality.

    • Trsmd profile image


      11 years ago from India

      very informative page..


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