|The Man With the Iron Heart|
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
|Nationality:||Stateless Jewish person (born in the Russian Empire);|
Palestine from 1947
|Date of Birth:||Late 19th century|
Shmuel Birnbaum was a survivor of World War I, the Russian Revolution, the authoritarian rule of Joseph Stalin, and the Nazi mass murder of Jews during World War II. Prior to being sent to Auschwitz, Birnbaum had been used as slave labor by Reinhard Heydrich in 1943 and 1944. Birnbaum had helped dig the network of mines and tunnels at the base of the Alps the German Freedom Front used as its headquarters after the war ended. Birnbaum was sent to Auschwitz specifically so he would be eliminated. However, he survived.
In 1947, Birnbaum was in Berlin. After being shot in the leg by a Soviet soldier, he was then taken into custody by two NKVD officers: Moisei Shteinberg and Vladimir Bokov. When Birnbaum told them his story, the two quickly realized that Birnbaum was a valuable resource. Because the Alps were in the American zone of occupied Germany, the NKVD men were able to persuade their superior Yuri Vlasov that Birnbaum should be turned over to the U.S.
Birnbaum accompanied Bokov to Fent's Establishment, which had, before the war, been owned by Adolf Hitler's half-brother Alois Hitler, Jr. Birnbaum saw the old name bleed through the paint of the new name, and tried to back out, but Bokov forced him in.
Once Birnbaum and Bokov contacted two Americans, Howard Frank and Lou Weissberg, Birnbaum calmed down some, as both Americans were also Jews, and had, in an interesting coincidence, given Birnbaum money and food just before Birnbaum was taken into Soviet custody. Birnbaum went with the Americans, hoping to prevent the Nazis from ever rising again.
Birnbaum and Weissberg drove around the base of the Alps for some weeks before Birnbaum was able to pinpoint the exact location. And then, as American troops were slowly being pulled out of Germany, Birnbaum recognized the spot. In short order, Weissberg ordered a digging crew, which found the GFF hideout, and firefight ensued which saw Heydrich killed.
Birnbaum received one quarter of the $1 million price on Heydrich's head. He used it to move to Palestine.