Martin Bormann was born on 17 June 1900 in Halberstadt, in Sachsen-Anhalt, into a family of modest means. He served for a brief period in the artillery during the First World War, before joining right wing movements after the war. He became a member of the NSDAP, the Nazi party, in 1925.
Between 1928 and 1930 he was a member of the SA. Rising through the ranks of the party, Bormann was elected to the Reichstag in 1933. From July 1933 until 1941, he was head of Rudolf Hess’s cabinet office. After the latter’s flight to Great Britain, Bormann was appointed as Party Chancellor in May 1941. In April 1943, he became secretary to Hitler. As someone working behind the scenes, and closest collaborator of Hitler, Martin Bormann wielded enormous power, making him the No 2 in the declining regime.
Martin Bormann was accused of having used his various official functions, his personal influence and close contacts to the Führer, to promote the accession to power of the Nazi conspirators and the consolidation of their power in Germany, in terms of the count of indictment No1. Bormann was also accused of participating in war preparations in terms of count of indictment No1. In addition he was also accused of having authorised, directed and taken part in acts constituting war crimes, in terms of count No 3, and of crimes against humanity according to count No 4, due especially to the numerous crimes committed against people and property .
Bormann was always known to have been an unrelenting proponent of draconian measures against the Jews, the people in the occupied territories in the East and prisoners of war. He took part in the discussions with a view to the expulsion of 60’000 Viennese Jews to Poland, in cooperation with the SS and the Gestapo. It was he who signed the decree of 31 May 1942 which extended the Nuremberg laws to cover the territories annexed in the East. In October 1942, he signed a decree which stated that “the permanent elimination of the Jews from the territories of Greater Germany, can no longer be realised through emigration but by the use of implacable force in the camps in the East” Another decree signed by Bormann on 1 July 1943, bestowed on Adolf Eichmann absolute power over the Jews, who from that point on were subject to the sole jurisdiction of the Gestapo, the secret police, and no longer to that of the regular courts.
Bormann played an important role in setting up the forced labour programme and in the orders related to prisoners of war. To take just a few examples, on 5 November 1941 he forbid any decent burial of Soviet prisoners of war. On 29 January 1943, he issued instructions allowing the use of firearms and corporal punishment against recalcitrant prisoners of war. On 30 September 1944, Bormann signed a decree which withdrew military jurisdiction for prisoners of war who, from that date, became subject to the sole judicial competence of Himmler and the SS.
Martin Bormann left Hitler’s bunker on 30 April 1945. His fate is not known. According to witnesses, he was reported to have been killed whilst trying to cross the Soviet lines. According to others, he committed suicide.