Martin Bormann (17 June 1900 – 2 May 1945) was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and private secretary to Adolf Hitler. He was almost always at his Führer′s side. Hitler typically did not issue written orders, but gave them verbally at meetings or in phone conversations; he also had Bormann convey orders. He gained Hitler's trust and derived immense power within the Third Reich by using his position to control the flow of information and access to Hitler. Bormann earned many enemies, including Heinrich Himmler.
Born in Wegeleben (now in Saxony-Anhalt) in the Kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire, Bormann was born to a Lutheran family, the son of Theodor Bormann (1862–1903), a post office employee, and his second wife, Antonie Bernhardine Mennong. He had two half-siblings (Else and Walter Bormann) from his father's earlier marriage to Louise Grobler, who died in 1898. Antonie Bormann gave birth to three sons, one of whom died in infancy. Martin (born 1900) and Albert (born 1902) survived to adulthood.
Bormann dropped out of school to work on a farm in Mecklenburg. He served in an artillery regiment in the last days of World War I, but never saw action. He then became an estate manager in Mecklenburg, which brought him into contact with the Freikorps residing on the estate. He took part in their activities, mostly in assassinations and the intimidation of trade union organisers.
On 17 March 1924, Bormann was sentenced to a year in prison as an accomplice to his friend Rudolf Höss in the murder of Walther Kadow, who they thought had betrayed Freikorps member Albert Leo Schlageter to the French during the occupation of the Ruhr District.
On 2 September 1929, Bormann married 19-year-old Gerda Buch, whose father, Major Walter Buch, served as a chairman of the Nazi Party Court. Bormann had recently met Hitler, who agreed to serve as a witness at their wedding. Gerda Bormann would give birth to 10 children; one died shortly after birth.
Gerda Bormann suffered from cancer in her later years, and died of mercury poisoning on 23 March 1946, in Merano, Italy. All of Bormann's children survived the war. Most were cared for anonymously in foster homes. His eldest son, Martin, was Hitler's godson. Martin abandoned the Lutheran faith of his family and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1953, but left the priesthood in the late 1960s. He married an ex-nun in 1971 and became a teacher of theology.