The escape route of many of the high-ranking National Socialists into Schleswig-Holstein and the city of Flensburg in the year 1945, is known as the “Northern Ratline”. At the end of the war in May 1945, up to 3,000 SS-members succeeded in hiding from prosecution, as Flensburg’s police-director SS-Standartenführer Hans Hinsch helped them change identities, thus transforming murderers and Holocaust-managers into ordinary troopers. Even SS-Führer Heinrich Himmler came to Flensburg with 150 loyal comrades on 2nd May 1945, hoping to join the administration of Hitler-successor Karl Dönitz and participate in negotiations with the Western Allies. But Dönitz did not give Himmler any power of office, and the Allies declined to negotiate. In the SS-minded police headquarters of Flensburg, Himmler obtained new papers, and a suitable uniform in the naval training centre of Mürwik. Camouflaged as „country constable Heinrich Hitzinger“ he arrived in Lower Saxony, accompanied by a few loyal comrades. He was checked on the 20th May by British forces, who were alarmed by his all too new papers. On 23rd May „Mr Hitzinger“ was disguised as Heinrich Himmler. He forestalled judgement by biting open a cyanide capsule, hidden between his teeth. Many of the Nazi-criminals who had fled to the German-Danish border region, were taken prisoner by the British Field Security Section (FSS). But many of those, who had adopted a new identity in Flensburg, succeeded in hiding for a longer period of time. And supported by a syndicate of silent confidants, many of the old Nazis entered into leading positions in the new Federal Republic – and as such notably in Schleswig-Holstein.
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