Page images

Antagonism between Bormann and Hoffmann continued until the end of the war. In his quest for complete authority over the Führer, Bormann intrigued against everybody in Hitler's entourage. Hoffmann's most consistent ally in his counterintrigues to eliminate the party secretary was Dr. Theodor Morrell, who was himself on the periphery of the Führer's inner circle. Hoffmann continued to take photographs of Hitler despite the growing tension with Bormann. His collection contains six albums of pictures taken during the war at the Führer's headquarters. But by the summer of 1944, Bormann had succeeded in easing Hoffmann out of Hitler's presence by suggesting to Hitler that Hoffmann had contracted paratyphoid fever. Hoffmann's only response was to make a public appearance in Vienna to prove that he was in excellent health.12

The Allies assumed control of Hoffmann's photo collection in 1945 and invited

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Hermann Göring

12 Spruchkammer Decision, Annex p. 13; affidavit of Heinrich Hoffmann, May 12, 1950, Hoffmann File.


Martin Bormann

him to Nuremberg to act, in Hoffmann's words, as an "objective witness" in the ensuing trials. His photographs were used to supply information to the court, and Hoffmann was interrogated about leading members of the Reich and his own photographic and art activities. He sought to testify in behalf of his son-in-law, Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach, but he never appeared in court. In May 1950 a denazification court in Munich tried Hoffmann, found him guilty, and forced him to forfeit “his property, as well as his publishing and copyrights."

A legal battle for control of the collection followed. Hoffmann's son, Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr., who had been given ownership of the files in October 1937 on the occasion of his twenty-first birthday, argued that he was never a member of the party, that as the legal owner of the confiscated collection he was being punished for his father's deeds, and finally, that no other German

photographic firm dealing in the same kind of pictures had been handled in the same manner. 14

The Allies have justified their confiscation of the Hoffmann collection on 3 III, Part III, Section A, of the Potsdam Agreement of August 2, 1945 (MGR 23-58), authorizing such confiscations “to prevent all Nazi and Militarist activity and propaganda.” Further support for the seizure was found in Allied High Commission Law no. 16, of December 16, 1949, which forbade "any activity designed to foster the resurgence of militarism, and the possession or use of any article or device intended to facilitate such activities." Finally, the elder Hoffmann's conviction before the Munich denazification court of May 31, 1950, and

" 13

14 Robert Wolfe to NM and NC [Assistant Archivist for Military Archives and Assistant Archivist for Civil Archives], Nov. 18, 1965, files of the Captured Records Branch, National Archives Build. ing. See also Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr., letter, June 17, 1949, Hoffmann File.

[merged small][merged small][graphic]

the court's decision to confiscate his property as well as his publishing copyrights was seen as additional justification.15 At the end of the war crimes trials, the collection was shipped from Europe to Alexandria, Virginia, and on March 31, 1962, it was transferred to the Audiovisual Archives Division of the National Archives.

The Hoffmann collection, about ninety cubic feet of photographs, can be found in the National Archives in Record Group 242, National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1941. The material covers the years from before World War I to 1944. The collection is incomplete because a portion was left behind in Berlin in 1945.16

15 Wolfe to NM and NC, Nov. 18, 1965.

16 H. E. Potter to E. M. Harris, July 18, 1949, Hoffmann File.

There are approximately forty thousand glass negatives ranging in size from 21/4 by 314 inches to 7 by 91/2 inches. These negatives are divided into eleven series (with the designations B, BA, F, D, K, MA, MC, MR, PKTA, PKTC, and wo) grouped according to glass size. Only a very rough subject organization exists except for the MR series which consists of portraits of National Socialist members of the 1933 Reichstag.

The Hoffmann collection also includes 132 albums (6,600 pages) containing 7,117 positive Leica film strips. There are about 217,800 photographs in this part of the collection. Only a small portion of the negatives for these prints are included in the holdings of the National Archives. For the most part, the Leica albums are organized by date; however, notable exceptions are albums on the Olympic games of 1936, Nuremberg party rallies of 1929 and 1934 through 1938, the Spanish Civil War, and six albums taken at the Führer's headquarters between 1940 and 1944. Like the glass negatives, the Leica albums are given a serial designation B (Berlin) or M (Munich) to indicate the Hoffmann office in which the pictures were registered. The subject albums mentioned above were constructed from the B and M series and for all practical purposes have the separate designations of their subject matter.

The war destroyed all the written records of the collection. At the end of the war Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr., reconstructed the files from memory, but he was not permitted to complete his project and these finding aids are of limited value. Shelf lists of a general nature exist for most of the series of photographs, and a name index and a chronological index were created for the 132 albums of Leica strips. The staff of the National Archives is presently preparing a subject index to the BA, MA, and MR series related to the early years of the Nazi party. Hopefully this index will make the Hoffmann collection more available and useful to the public.


I have today signed an Executive Order establishing a new, more progressive system for classification and declassification of Government documents relating to national security. With these words President Nixon issued Executive Order 11652 on March 8, 1972.

Some aspects of the president's efforts to overhaul the security classification system and broaden access to classified information have been widely discussed in the press and among scholars. Little if any attention, however, has been given to the overwhelming complexity of the problem faced. Its magnitude can best be stated in numbers.

The archivist of the United States estimates that there are in storage more than 760,000,000 pages (the equivalent of more than 3,000,000 copies of an average newspaper) of classified documents "appropriate for preservation” from the period 1942 to 1962. This works out to a rate of accumulation of more than 146,000 pages per workday, which means that if the papers presently in storage could be reviewed for declassification at the rate of 146,000 a day, it would take twenty years, that is, until 1992, to get up to 1962. And this of course means we would still be thirty years behind.

Moreover, the estimated rate of accumulation since 1962 was rising all the time and was probably approaching 200,000 pages a day. In the real terms of public access to government documents this meant it was going to take longer and longer for information to become available.

To speed declassification in the future the new order set up an automatic declassification schedule of six, eight, or ten years. For the first time the classifier is required to make a judgment when he classifies the information as to when it should be declassified. Only sensitive information falling within four specific categories (for example, cryptographic information) may be exempted beyond the ten-year period. And such continued classification may be challenged by any member of the public under a new mandatory review procedure for declassification.

This mandatory review feature in the new order is also applicable to classified material already in existence, provided it is more than ten years old, is identified with sufficient particularity, and can be found with a reasonable amount of effort. A requester is not charged the cost of finding and reviewing papers unless the request for declassification is granted and the material made available. Of some 177 requests received during the first few months, 83 have been granted in full, 4 in part, 52 denied, and 38 are pending. Those granted include requested papers related to the Abel-Powers exchange, the Adenauer visit to Moscow in 1957, and the release of the RB 47 fliers by the Soviet Union in 1961.

It is often suggested that the president, to speed declassification of material already in existence, simply order whole periods declassified, that is, not by specific request. The trouble with this approach is that a small percentage of sensitive intelligence material scattered throughout the archival holdings continues to require protection in the interest of national security. Moreover, such holdings often contain sensitive information about individuals, publication of which would constitute unwarranted invasions of privacy. Such material must therefore be reviewed page by page. But to review immediately all material more than ten years old would be impossibly timeconsuming and costly. Review must therefore be undertaken in response to requests.

Review of older (World War II) materials, however, has been undertaken. Pursuant to President Nixon's request to Congress last year, $1.2 million was appropriated to begin this task, and the best estimate is that the project should be completed by the end of 1975, but what happens after that? It will still be necessary to continue to review huge amounts of classified material if the full record of the 1950s and the 1960s is ever to

be made public. And if the new order had not been instituted with its automatic declassification provisions this ever-increasing expense would have continued indefinitely. Moreover, the delay in public access to such material would certainly have become more and more pronounced.

Finally, for the first time an Interagency Classification Review Committee was created to follow through on the implementation of the new order.

Ambassador John Eisenhower, who chairs the Interagency Committee, recently reported to the president that since June 1, the overall number of persons with authority to classify has been cut by 63 percent (from forty-three thousand to sixteen thousand) in the major departments of State, Defense, Justice, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Security Council. (In the Central Intelligence Agency the percentage cut has been 86 percent in Top Secret and 26 percent in Secret.)

Although sixteen thousand may sound high, it is only 1.5 percent of the total work force in these departments when military personnel are excluded and only 0.5 percent when military personnel are included. It is anticipated that the compilation of the sixteen thousand names will be useful in stopping unauthorized classifying.

The first appeal to the committee for a document denied under the new mandatory review procedure has now been considered. The committee voted to declassify the material, and the “Gaither Report” of 1957 has now been opened.

In short, overhauling the security classification system is a complex undertaking. The first specific and concrete steps have been taken to get control of the classification machine and facilitate increased public access to government information, but time will be required before its full impact can be assessed. There is little doubt, however, that the new order sets a policy that is more progressive and forthcoming than that of any other major power.

« PreviousContinue »