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(2 January 1904 – 2 May 1945)
Although still a teenager at the time, Hewel was one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party, and is calculated to have been between the 200th and 300th person to actually join the group.
Hewel graduated in 1923 and attended the Technical University of Munich. The same year, he took part in the Nazi's failed Beer Hall Putsch. After Hitler's subsequent conviction for treason, Hewel stayed in Landsberg prison with him and, for several months, acted as Hitler's valet.
After the Putsch, Hewel worked for several years as a coffee salesman and planter for a British firm in Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). InIndonesia, Hewel organised the local branch of the Nazi Party with the membership of German expatriates there. By 1937, the Nazi Party inIndonesia had established branches in Batavia, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya, Medan, Padang, and Makassar.
During the 1930s, Hewel returned to Germany where he was appointed to the country's diplomatic service and sent to Spain. JournalistJames P. O'Donnell remarked that, during this time, Hewel "was almost certainly an agent of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris' Abwehr."
In 1938, Hitler recalled Hewel to Germany. During this time, he resumed his earlier friendship with the dictator.
Technically Hewel was an ambassador and he was supposed to serve as Joachim von Ribbentrop's liaison to Hitler. However, he spent most of World War II without an official portfolio and once described himself as "an ambassador to nowhere." Survivors of Hitler's inner circle claimed that Hewel owed his position to his long involvement with the Nazi Party, and because he was one of Hitler's friends/cronies. In her memoirs, Traudl Junge, Hitler's private secretary, described Hewel as something like Hitler's majordomo. According to Junge, Hewel was placed in charge of coordinating his household, keeping peace between the military and civilian officials around Hitler, and regulating contact between male and female members of Hitler's entourage.artichoke hearts with his venison. He specialized in that kind of Gemütlichkeit that's never quite genuine unless it's a bit artificial." (O'Donnell, The Bunker, 1978)
Almost all accounts of Hewel described him as a pleasant and good-natured, if not quite intelligent, man. He usually ended up dealing with situations and events that Hitler could not handle.
Other members of the inner circle recounted that, unlike many other Nazi leaders, Hewel was able to stay awake and attentive during Hitler's long monologues on topics such as anti-Semitism. For example, Heinz Guderian, when recalling Hewel, remarked that he was "a good raconteur and a good listener."
Hewel tended to be shy around women, and as a result, Hitler often tried to play matchmaker for him. In 1944, Hewel married Elizabeth Blanda at Berchtesgaden. They had one son by the time of his death the following year.Death
Until Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, Hewel remained in his inner circle. As one of the few people to remain near him until the end, he was said to have tried to cheer Hitler up. Apparently, Hewel was the last individual to engage in a long, personal conversation with Hitler.
Following Hitler's suicide, Hewel escaped the Führerbunker in a group led by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke. Mohnke planned to break out towards the German Army which was positioned in Prinzenallee. However, Hewel was apparently suffering from psychological stress at the time. In her memoirs, Traudl Junge claimed that, after Hitler's death, Hewel appeared extremely confused and unable to make the simplest decisions for himself.
The group headed along the subway but their route was blocked so they went above ground and later joined hundreds of other Germans civilians and military personnel who had sought refuge at the Schultheiss-Patzenhofer Brewery. Upon arriving at the holdout on 2 May 1945, Hewel made remarks to the effect that he planned on committing suicide. Despite the efforts of Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, who attempted to talk him out of it, Hewel killed himself in the same manner which Professor Dr. Werner Haase had instructed for Hitler, biting down on a cyanide capsule while shooting himself in the head.
According to Schenck, Hitler had actually encouraged Hewel to commit suicide. Hitler warned Hewel that if he was captured by the Red Army, he would be tortured and "mounted in a waxworks". Additionally, Hitler gave Hewel a cyanide capsule and a Walther 7.65 handgun, then had him take an oath to kill himself rather than be captured by the Russians. Further, Schenck stated that Hewel was emotionally and physically exhausted, which contributed to his actions.Relationship with Hitler
Because of his friendship with Hitler, Hewel was given a large amount of leeway in his actions. For example, according to O'Donnell, Hewel played constant practical jokes on his boss, Ribbentrop, in order to amuse Hitler and other members of his entourage.
After the war, Hewel's 1941 diary emerged. Also, after Hitler's suicide, but prior to his own, he spoke with others about his friendship with, and opinion of, Hitler. Right before his suicide, he told Dr. Schenck:"Hitler was a consummate actor...Toward the end, he was less the leader, Der Führer, than a man flinging from reality as it advanced itself . . . . As I look back at those long briefing sessions, it strikes me that Hitler was hopelessly engulfed in the grandeur of his mission, a sense that was now disintegrating into self-pity. When the goddess Nemesis began to avenge his hubris, he lost his nerve." (O'Donnell,The Bunker)
O'Donnell referred to Hewel as a man who had a front seat to history, but who lacked the intelligence and perspective to realize it.
(German pronunciation: [?la?]; 15 February 1890 – 25 October 1945) was a Nazipolitician and head of the German Labour Front from 1933 to 1945. He committed suicide while awaiting trial for war crimes.
Ley was born in Niederbreidenbach (now a part of Nümbrecht) in the Rhine Province, the seventh of 11 children of a heavily indebted farmer, Friedrich Ley, and his wife Emilie (née Wald). He studied chemistry at the Universities of Jena, Bonn, and Münster. He volunteered for the army on the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and spent two years in the artillery before training as an aerial artillery spotter with Field Artillery Detachment 202. In July 1917 his aircraft was shot down over France and he was taken prisoner. It has been suggested that he suffered brain injury in the crash; for the rest of his life he spoke with a stammer and suffered bouts of erratic behaviour, aggravated by heavy drinking.
After the war Ley returned to university, gaining a doctorate in 1920. He was employed as a food chemist by a branch of the giant IG Farben company, based in Leverkusen in the Ruhr. Enraged by the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1924, Ley became an ultra-nationalist and joined the Nazi Party soon after reading Adolf Hitler's speech at his trial following the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. By 1925 he was Gauleiter of the Southern Rhineland district and editor of a virulently anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper, the Westdeutsche Beobachter. Ley proved unswervingly loyal to Hitler, which led the party leader to ignore complaints about his arrogance, incompetence and drunkenness.
In 1931, Ley was brought to the Nazi Party's Munich headquarters to take over as head of the party organisation (Reichsorganisationsleiter) following Hitler's dismissal of Gregor Strasserin an internal dispute. Ley's poor background and his experience as head of the largelyworking-class Ruhr party region meant that he was sympathetic to the socialist wing of the Nazi Party, which Hitler opposed, but he always sided with Hitler in inner party disputes. This helped him survive the hostility of other party officials such as the party treasurer, Franz Xaver Schwarz, who regarded him as a drunken incompetent. When Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, Ley accompanied him to Berlin. In April, when the trade union movement was taken over by the state, Hitler appointed him head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF).
The DAF took over the existing Nazi trade union formation, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellenorganisation, NSBO) as well as the main trade union federation. But Ley's lack of administrative ability meant that the NSBO leader, Reinhard Muchow, a member of the socialist wing of the Nazi Party, soon became the dominant figure in the DAF, overshadowing Ley. Muchow began a purge of the DAF administration, rooting out ex-Social Democrats and ex-Communists and placing his own militants in their place. The NSBO cells continued to agitate in the factories on issues of wages and conditions, annoying the employers, who soon complained to Hitler and other Nazi leaders that the DAF was as bad as the Communists had been.
Hitler had no sympathy with the syndicalist tendencies of the NSBO, and in January 1934 a new Law for the Ordering of National Labour effectively suppressed independent working-class factory organisations, even Nazi ones, and put questions of wages and conditions in the hands of the Trustees of Labour (Treuhänder der Arbeit), dominated by the employers. At the same time Muchow was purged and Ley's control over the DAF re-established. The NSBO was completely suppressed and the DAF became little more than an arm of the state for the more efficient deployment and disciplining of labour to serve the needs of the regime, particularly its massive expansion of the arms industry.
Once his power was established, Ley began to abuse it in a way that was conspicuous even by the standards of the Nazi regime. On top of his generous salaries as DAF head, Reichsorganisationsleiter, and Reichstag deputy, he pocketed the large profits of the Westdeutsche Beobachter, and freely embezzled DAF funds for his personal use. By 1938 he owned a luxurious estate near Cologne, a string of villas in other cities, a fleet of cars, a private railway carriage and a large art collection. He increasingly devoted his time to "womanising and heavy drinking, both of which often led to embarrassing scenes in public." In 1942 his second wife Inge shot herself after a drunken brawl. Ley's subordinates took their lead from him, and the DAF became a notorious centre of corruption, all paid for with the compulsory dues paid by German workers. One historian says: "The DAF quickly began to gain a reputation as perhaps the most corrupt of all the major institutions of the Third Reich. For this, Ley himself had to shoulder a large part of the blame.Strength Through Joy The KDF-Schiff Robert Ley, March 1939 The KDF-Schiff Wilhelm Gustloff, 23 Sept 1939
Hitler and Ley were aware that the suppression of the trade unions and the prevention of wage increases by the Trustees of Labour system, when coupled with their relentless demands for increased productivity to hasten German rearmament, created a real risk of working-class discontent. In November 1933, as a means of preventing labour disaffection, the DAF established Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF), to provide a range of benefits and amenities to the German working class and their families. These included subsidised holidays both at resorts across Germany and in "safe" countries abroad (particularly Italy). Some of the world's first purpose built cruise-liners, the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Robert Ley, were built to take KdF members on Mediterranean cruises.
Other KdF programs included concerts, opera and other forms of entertainment in factories and other workplaces, free physical education and gymnastics training and coaching in sports such as football, tennis and sailing. All this was paid for by the DAF, at a cost of 29 million Reichsmarks a year by 1937, and ultimately by the workers themselves through their dues, although the employers also contributed. KdF was one of the Nazi regime's most popular programs, and played a large part in reconciling the working class to the regime, at least before 1939.
The DAF and KdF's most ambitious program was the "people's car", the Volkswagen, originally a project undertaken at Hitler's request by the car-maker Ferdinand Porsche. When the German car industry was unable to meet Hitler's demand that the Volkswagen be sold at 1,000 Reichsmarks or less, the project was taken over by the DAF. This brought Ley's old socialist tendencies back into prominence. The party, he said, had taken over where private industry had failed, because of the "short-sightedness, malevolence, profiteering and stupidity" of the business class. Now working for the DAF, Porsche built a new Volkswagen factory at Fallersleben, at a huge cost which was partly met by raiding the DAF's accumulated assets and misappropriating the dues paid by DAF members. The Volkswagen was sold to German workers on an installment plan, and the first models appeared in February 1939. The outbreak of war, however, meant that none of the 340,000 workers who paid for a car ever received one. The entire project was financially unsound, and only the corruption and lack of accountability of the Nazi regime made it possible.Wartime role The cell where Robert Ley hanged himself
He said in a speech in 1939: "We National Socialists have monopolized all resources and all our energies during the past seven years so as to be able to be equipped for the supreme effort of battle." With the actual outbreak of World War II in 1939, however, Ley's importance declined. The militarisation of the workforce and the diversion of resources to the war greatly reduced the role of the DAF, and the KdF was largely wound up. Ley's drunkenness and erratic behaviour were less tolerated in wartime, and he was supplanted by Armaments Minister Fritz Todt and his successor Albert Speer as the czar of the German workforce (the head of the Organisation Todt (OT)). As German workers were increasingly conscripted, foreign workers, first "guest workers" from France and later slave labourers from Poland, Ukraine and other eastern countries, were brought in to replace them. Ley played some role in this program, but was overshadowed by Fritz Sauckel, General Plenipotentiary for the Distribution of Labour (Generalbevollmächtigter für den Arbeitseinsatz), in 1942.
Nevertheless Ley was deeply implicated in the mistreatment of foreign slave workers. In October 1942 he attended a meeting in Essen with Paul Plieger (head of the giant Hermann Göring Works industrial combine) and leaders of the German coal industry. A verbatim account of the meeting was kept by one of the managers. A recent historian writes:“ The key item on the agenda was the question of 'how to treat the Russians.' ... Robert Ley, as usual, was drunk. And when Ley got drunk he was prone to speak his mind. .. With so much at stake, there was no room for compassion or civility. No degree of coercion was too much, and Ley expected the mine managers to back up their foremen in meting out the necessary discipline. As Ley put it: 'When a Russian pig has to be beaten, it would be the ordinary German worker who would have to do it.' ”
Despite his failings, Ley retained Hitler's favour; until the last months of the war he was part of Hitler's inner circle along with Martin Bormannand Joseph Goebbels. In November 1941 he was given a new role, as Reich Commissioner for Social House-Building (Reichskommissar für den sozialen Wohnungsbau), later shortened to Reich Housing Commissioner (Reichswohnungskommissar). Here his job was to prepare for the effects on German housing of the expected Allied air attacks on German cities, which began to increase in intensity from 1941 onwards. In this role he became a key ally of Armaments Minister Albert Speer, who recognised that German workers must be adequately housed if productivity was to be maintained. As the air war against Germany increased from 1943, "dehousing" German workers became an objective of the Allied area bombing campaign, and Ley's commissariat was increasingly unable to cope with the resulting housing crisis.
Ley was aware in general terms of the Nazi regime's program of extermination of the Jews of Europe and encouraged it through the virulent anti-Semitism of his publications and speeches. In February 1941 he was present at a meeting along with Speer, Bormann and Field MarshalWilhelm Keitel at which Hitler had set out his views on the "Jewish question" at some length, making it clear that he intended the "disappearance" of the Jews one way or another.Postwar
As the Third Reich collapsed in early 1945, Ley was among the government figures who remained fanatically loyal to Hitler. He last saw Hitler on 20 April 1945, Hitler's birthday, in the Führerbunker in central Berlin. The next day he left for southern Bavaria, in the expectation that Hitler would make his last stand in the "National Redoubt" in the alpine areas. When Hitler refused to leave Berlin, this idea was abandoned, and Ley was then effectively unemployed. On 16 May he was captured by American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in a shoemaker's house in the village of Schleching. He told them he was "Dr. Ernst Distelmeyer," but he was identified by Franz Xaver Schwarz, the treasurer of the Nazi Party and a long-time enemy.
At the Nuremberg War Trials, Ley was indicted under Count One ("The Common Plan or Conspiracy to wage an aggressive war in violation of international law or treaties"), Count Three (War Crimes, including among other things "mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilian populations") and Count Four ("Crimes Against Humanity - murder, extermination, enslavement of civilian populations; persecution on the basis of racial, religions or political grounds"). Ley was apparently indignant at being regarded as a war criminal, telling the American prison psychologist Gustave Gilbert: "Stand us against a wall and shoot us, well and good, you are victors. But why should I be brought before a Tribunal like a c-c-c- ... I can't even get the word out!"
On 24 October, three days after receiving the indictment, Ley, the only Nuremberg prisoner displaying a guilty conscience, strangled himself in his cell using a noose made by tearing a towel into strips, fastened to the toilet pipe in his cell. Ley left behind a statement condemning anti-Semitism. "The horrors of anti-Semitism. This I have seen in my cell at Nuremberg. We have forsaken God, and therefore we were forsaken by God." After Dr. Ley's suicide, the incident led to the tightening of security around other prisoners for fear that they would commit suicide as well.
2 June 1948
Karl Gebhardt (23 November 1897 in Haag – 2 June 1948 in Landsberg am Lech) was aGerman medical doctor; personal physician of Heinrich Himmler; and one of the main coordinators and perpetrators of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz.
Gebhardt's Nazi career began with his joining the NSDAP on 1 May 1933. Two years later, he also joined the SS and became head physician at the sanatorium of Hohenlychen in theUckermark, which he changed from a clinic for tuberculosis patients into an orthopedic clinic and later, during World War II, into a hospital for the Waffen-SS. In 1938, Gebhardt was appointed asHeinrich Himmler's personal physician. In May 1942, Himmler ordered Gebhardt dispatched to Prague in order to attend to the injured Reinhard Heydrich after the assassination attempt in Prague, by British Special Operations Executive (SOE) trained soldiers Jozef Gab?ík and Jan Kubiš of the Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile. His refusal to prescribe solphoamide (an early antibiotic) contributed to Heydrich's death and had many unfortunate implications for Concentration camp prisoners who he conducted "medical experiments" on later in World War II.
In early 1944, Gebhardt treated Albert Speer for fatigue and a swollen knee. He nearly killed Speer until he was replaced by another doctor. Himmler saw Speer as a rival for power.
Gebhardt eventually rose to the rank of Gruppenführer in the Allgemeine SS and a Major General (Generalmajor) in the Waffen SS. DuringWorld War II, Gebhardt also acted for some time as the President of the German Red Cross.
Having either ordered them or carried them out, Gebhardt was directly responsible for numerous surgical experiments performed onconcentration camp inmates. He was particularly active at the women's camp in Ravensbrück (which was close to Hohenlychen) and the camp in Auschwitz. At Ravensbruck he had initially faced opposition from camp commandant Fritz Suhren, who feared future problems given the status of most camp inmates as political prisoners, but the SS leadership backed Gebhardt and Suhren was forced to co-operate.
A particularly brutal series of experiments Gebhardt carried out involved the ability of "patients" to endure long-duration operations. He would often open a subject's skull or abdomen--without the use of anesthesia--and observe how long the subject survived before succumbing toshock or sepsis. His surgical notes, which are impossible to verify, indicate that certain subjects survived nearly 24 hours under such conditions. Gebhardt was often accompanied by a committee of fellow surgeons during these experiments, allowing them to tinker with his subjects' exposed organs during surgery.Trial and execution
By 22 April 1945, the Soviets were massing their Armies to the immediate east of Berlin and Joseph Goebbels brought his wife and children into the Vorbunker. German dictator Adolf Hitler and a few loyal personnel were present in the adjoining Führerbunker to direct the finaldefence of Berlin. Gebhardt, in his capacity as the Red Cross leader, approached Goebbels about taking the children out of the city with him, but he was dismissed by Goebbels.Karl Gebhardt
After the war, Gebhardt stood trial in the Doctors' Trial together with 22 other doctors before a U.S.military tribunal, where he was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death on 20 August 1947. He was hanged on 2 June 1948, in Landsberg prison inBavaria.
(August 20, 1898 – December 27, 1967)
Schaub was born in Munich in Bavaria. On January 1, 1925 hired privately by Hitler as a personal assistant, Schaub was one of Hitler's personal adjutant to the year 1945 and in constant close to Hitler. The good relationship with his boss appeared among others in the participation of Hitler as a witness at Schaub second wedding. He was identified as "Hitler's personal Adjutant" in the 1934 film, Triumph of the Will. In the aftermath of the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler in 1944, Hitler had a badge struck to honor all those injured or killed in the blast. Hitler's aides later said that Schaub, who was in a building some distance from the explosion, falsely tried to claim he was injured so as to be able to wear the badge.
At the end of the war, April 23, 1945, Hitler ordered Schaub to burn all his personal belongings and papers from the Reichskanzlei and the Fuehrerbunker in the garden of the Reichskanzlei. Schaub then flew to Munich and did the same in Hitlers private apartment at Prinzregentenplatz and at the Berghof in Obersalzberg. Finally he went to Zell am See and Mallnitz and destroyed Hitler's personal Train, the "Fuehrerzug". Possessing false ID papers on the name "Josef Huber", he was arrested on May 8, 1945 in Kitzbuehl by American troops (36th CIC Det.), and remained in custody until February 17, 1949. Since both U.S. military and German denazification authorities didn't see any participation in war crimes in the period of 1933-1945, Schaub was classified by the denazification only as a "fellow traveler." An indictment for war crimes did not come accordingly. "His final rank, from 1944, was as an SS-Obergruppenführer. Schaub died in Munich in 1967.
Benito Mussolini and Herman Göring in the background, Adolf Hitler with Julius Schaub on Hitler's left, Joachim von Ribbentrop to the right, partly from behind, at the signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938.
After leaving Nagold for Munich, Schroeder was employed as a stenotypist in the Oberste SA-Führung, the Sturmabteilung high command.There she got to know Hitler in early 1933, when he had just been appointed chancellor. He took a liking to Schroeder and hired her same year.
Schroeder lived at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) near Rastenburg, Adolf Hitler's first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters from 1941 until he and his staff departed for the last time on 20 November 1944. She remained one of Hitler's secretaries until his suicide on 30 April 1945 in Berlin. Her account of her service as Hitler's secretary (Er war mein Chef, Herbig, 2002) is an important source in the study of the Nazi years.
Life after the war
After the war, Schroeder was interrogated in 1945 by the French liaison officer Albert Zoller serving to the 7th US-Army. This interrogation and later interviews in 1948 formed the basis for the first book published about Hitler after World War II in 1949, Hitler privat (“Hitler in private”). An English translation of Schroeder's book Er war mein Chef was published in 2009 under the title He Was My Chief: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Secretary (Frontline Books, London). The book includes Anton Joachimsthaler's introduction from the original German edition of the book and a new introduction by Roger Moorhouse. The book was serialised in The Sunday Telegraph magazine "Seven", The Weekmagazine and the New York Post newspaper.
Schroeder died in 1984 in Munich.
(1 June 1900 - 5 June 1985)
Was Adolf Hitler's chief secretary.
Wolf was born in Munich and joined Hitler's personal secretariat in 1929 as a typist, at which time she also became a member of the Nazi Party. When Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933 she became a senior secretary in his Private Chancellery. Wolf, Hitler’s senior secretary, was one of his oldest and longest tenured secretaries. While he addressed his other secretaries formally as “Frau” or “Fräulein”, he called her “Wölfin” meaning She-Wolf because of his obsession with wolves. She and Hitler had a very close relationship, and she was often thought of as the best possible source for people to go about Hitler. As a dedicated Nazi she was a trusted member of Hitler's entourage, and remained with him when he withdrew to theFührerbunker in central Berlin as the Red Army approached.
On 22 April 1945, however, Hitler, having decided to stay and die in Berlin, sent Wolf and Christa Schroeder to his house at Berchtesgaden inBavaria. They were given the task of burning his personal papers before they could be seized by the Allies.
Wolf was taken prisoner on 23 May in Bad Tölz when the Americans occupied Berchtesgaden. Together with Schroeder, she remained a prisoner until 14 January 1948. Wolf moved to Kaufbeuren afterwards and died in Munich in 1985.
Loyalty to Hitler
Although Wolf served under Hitler for many years, unlike other secretaries such as Traudl Junge, she refused to consent to any interviews or reveal any information, even when, during the 1970s, she was offered a large amount of money to write her memoirs. Whenever asked to do so, she stated that she was a "private" secretary and believed it was her duty to never reveal anything about Hitler. When Wolf was taken prisoner, Leni Riefenstahl, a German filmmaker, eventually got her to disclose some information about Hitler. Wolf revealed that people close to Hitler were not able to escape his magnetism until his death, even though he was quite emaciated. She was so loyal to Hitler that she wanted to die with him, and she also claims that Hitler was not aware of all the terrible things that were happening in Germany during his reign, but fanatics exerted more and more influence on him and they made orders Hitler knew nothing about.
The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler and his staff took up residence in the bunker in January 1945 and until the last week of the war it became the epicentre of the Nazi regime. It was here during the last week of April 1945 that Hitler married Eva Braun shortly before they committed suicide. Wolf told Leni Riefenstahl she really wanted to stay with Hitler at Führerbunker, but she departed because Hitler urged her to leave the Reich Chancellery for the sake of her 80 year old mother and he forced her and others to leave on the last flight out of Berlin.
(1 December 1907 – 3 January 1985)
Eckhard Christian was born in Charlottenburg (Berlin). He first joined the Reichsmarine (German Navy) in 1926. In 1928 and 1929, he attended officer candidate courses. Thereafter, he continued in the navy and obtained the rank of Leutnant zur See (Second Lieutenant) on 1 October 1930. In 1934, Eckhard transferred to the Luftwaffe (German Air force) glider school in Warnemünde. He was promoted to the rank ofHauptmann (Captain) on 1 April 1935. He was transferred to the Air Ministry in July 1938 and on the General Staff. On 1 June 1940, he was promoted to Major and from 15 January 1941 was attached to Chief of the Armed Forces Command Staff at Adolf Hitler's Führer HQ. Eckhard was promoted to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) on 15 March 1942.
It was there at Hitler's HQ that Eckhard met Gerda "Dara" Daranowski, who was working as one of Adolf Hitler's private secretaries. They were married on 2 February 1943. Thereafter, Gerda Christian took a break from her employment for Hitler. She was replaced by Traudl Junge. Eckhard was promoted to Oberst (Colonel) on 1 March 1943. Eckhard was appointed Ia of the Luftwaffe Command Staff at Hitler's request. Gerda Christian returned to Hitler's staff as one of his private secretaries. Eckhard was again promoted to Generalmajor and Chief of the Luftwaffe Command Staff at Hitler's request on 1 September 1944.
In April 1945, Eckhard was stationed in Berlin at the Führerbunker HQ. He left the bunker complex on 22 April 1945 to become Chief of the liaison staff of the Luftwaffe to OKW Command Staff North. His wife, Gerda, was one of two secretaries who volunteered to remain with Hitler in the Führerbunker. Eckhard was captured by British forces on 8 May 1945 and held in custody until 7 May 1947. Gerda did not ever reunite with her husband, Eckhard, after the war ended. In fact, Gerda divorced Eckhard in 1946 because he did not remain with her in the Führerbunker until after the death of Hitler. Eckhard died on 3 January 1985 in Bad Kreuznach.
May 26, 1948
Theodor Gilbert Morell
(July 22, 1886 – May 26, 1948)
Although Morell had medical training and was licensed as a general practitioner in Germany long before he met Hitler, following World War II there were investigations into his practice along with interrogation by the Allies and he came to be widely regarded as a quack. Historians have speculated his treatment contributed to Hitler's ill health.
Morell was the second son of a primary school teacher, born and raised in a small village called Trais-Münzenberg in Upper Hesse. Morell's paternal ancestry was of Frisian origin prior to the 12th century. He studied medicine in Grenoble and Paris then trained in obstetrics andgynaecology in Munich beginning in 1910. By 1913, he had a doctoral degree and was fully licensed as a medical doctor. After a year serving as an assistant doctor on cruise ships, he bought a practice in Dietzenbach. He served at the front during World War I, then as a medical officer. By 1919, he was in Berlin with a medical practice and in 1920 married Hannelore "Hanni" Moller, a wealthy actress. He targeted unconventional treatments at an upscale market and eventually turned down invitations to be personal physician to both the Shah of Persia and the King of Romania.
Morell claimed to have studied under Nobel Prize -winning bacteriologist Ilya Mechnikov along with having taught medicine at prestigious universities and sometimes called himself "professor". He also owned significant interests in several medium-sized European pharmaceuticalcompanies.
In April, he joined the Nazi party, moved his practice to a prestigious address and began describing himself as a venereologist. In 1936, he treated Heinrich Hoffmann for gonorrhea and claimed to have cured him. Hoffmann and his assistant Eva Braun introduced Morell to Adolf Hitler.
During a party at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, he first met Morell, who said he could cure him within a year. Morell's wife was unhappy when he accepted the job as Hitler's personal physician. Morell began treating Hitler with various commercial preparations, including a combination of vitamins and E. coli bacteria called Multiflor. Hitler seemed to recover and Morell eventually became a part of Hitler's social inner circle, remaining there until shortly before the war ended. Some historians have attempted to explain this association by citing Morell's reputation in Germany for success in treating syphilis, along with Hitler's own (speculated) fears of the disease which he associated closely with Jews. Other observers have commented on the possibility Hitler had visible symptoms of both Parkinson's disease and syphilis, especially towards the end of the war.
As Hitler's physician, Morell was constantly recommended to other members of the Nazi leadership but most of them, including Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, immediately dismissed him as a quack. As Albert Speer related in his autobiography:"In 1936, when my circulation and stomach rebelled...I called at Morell's private office. After a superficial examination...Morell prescribed for me his intestinal bacteria, dextrose, vitamins, and hormone tablets.""For safety's sake I afterward had a thorough examination by Professor von Bergmann, the specialist in internal medicine at Berlin University. I was not suffering from any organic trouble, he concluded, but only from nervous symptoms caused by overwork.""I slowed down my pace as best I could and the symptoms abated. To avoid offending Hitler I pretended that I was carefully following Morell's instructions, and since my health improved, I became for a time Morell's showpiece." (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, 1970).
Speer characterized Morell as an opportunist who, once he achieved status as Hitler's physician, became extremely careless and lazy in his work, and who was more concerned with money and status rather than providing medical assistance.
Göring called Morell Der Reichsspritzenmeister, a nickname that stuck. This term does not have a precise English translation. Among the translations of this nickname are "Injection Master of the German Reich", "The Reich's Injections Impresario" (Junge, Until the Final Hour), and "The Master of the Imperial Needle" (O'Donnell, The Bunker). However this term is translated, its underlying meaning is the same—it implied that Morell always resorted to using injections and drugs when faced with a medical problem, and that he overused these drug injections.
Morell developed a rivalry with Dr. Karl Brandt, who had been attending Hitler since 1933. The two often argued, though Hitler usually sided with Morell. Eva Braun later changed her opinion of Morell, calling his office a "pig sty" and refusing to see him any more.
In 1939, Morell inadvertently became involved with the forced annexation of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakian president, Emil Hacha, became so scared at Hitler's outburst that he fainted. Morell injected stimulants into Hacha to wake him and although he claimed these were only vitamins, they may have included methamphetamine. Hacha, meanwhile, soon caved in to Hitler's demands.
After the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler, Morell treated him with topical penicillin, which had only recently been introduced into testing by the U.S. Army. Where he acquired it is unknown, and Morell claimed complete ignorance of penicillin when he was interrogated by American intelligence officers after the war. When members of Hitler's inner circle were interviewed for the book The Bunker, some claimed Morell owned a significant share in a company fraudulently marketing a product as penicillin.
On 22 April 1945, about a week before committing suicide, Hitler dismissed Morell from the Führerbunker in Berlin, saying that he did not need any more medical help. Morell left behind a large amount of prepared medicine; during the last week of Hitler's life, they were administered by Dr. Werner Haase and by Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet.Death
Morell escaped Berlin on one of the last German flights out of the city but was soon captured by the Americans. One of his interrogators was reportedly "disgusted" by his obesity and complete lack of hygiene. Although he was held in an American internment camp, on the site of the former Buchenwald concentration camp, and questioned because of his proximity to Hitler, Morell was never charged with any crimes. His health declined rapidly. Grossly obese and suffering from speech impairment, he died in Tegernsee on May 26, 1948 after a stroke.Substances given to Hitler
Morell kept a medical diary of the drugs, tonics, vitamins and other substances he administered to Hitler, usually by injection or in pill form. Most were commercial preparations, some were his own. Since some of these compounds are considered toxic, many historians have speculated Morell may have contributed to Hitler's poor health. This fragmentary list of representative ingredients would have seemed somewhat less shocking during the 1940s:
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop
(30 April 1893 – 16 October 1946)
Joachim von Ribbentrop detention report and mugshots.
Ribbentrop was a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials, charged with crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prosecutors presented evidence that Ribbentrop was actively involved in the planning of German aggression and the deportation of Jews to death camps, as well as his advocacy of the killing of American and British airmen shot down over Germany. The latter two charges carried the penalty of death by hanging.
The Allies' International Military Tribunal found him guilty of all charges brought against him. Even in prison, Ribbentrop remained loyal to Hitler, stating "Even with all I know, if in this cell Hitler should come to me and say 'Do this!', I would still do it."
During the trial, Ribbentrop rather unsuccessfully attempted to deny his role in the war. For example, during his cross-examination, the prosecution brought up claims that he (along with Hitler and Göring) threatened the Czechoslovak President Emil Hácha in March 1939, with a "threat of aggressive action". The questioning resulted in the following exchange between the British Prosecutor Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe and Ribbentrop:Maxwell-Fyfe: What further pressure could you put on the head of a country beyond threatening him that your Army would march in, in overwhelming strength, and your air force would bomb his capital?Ribbentrop: War, for instance.
During the trial, Gustave Gilbert, an American Army psychologist, was allowed to examine the Nazi leaders who were tried at Nuremberg for war crimes. Among other tests, a German version of the Wechsler-Bellevue IQ test was administered. Joachim von Ribbentrop scored 129, the 10th highest among the Nazi leaders tested.
At one point during the trial proceedings, U.S. Army interpreter for the prosecutionRichard Sonnenfeldt asked Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker, Ribbentrop's State Secretary, how Hitler could have made him a high official. Weizsäcker responded "Hitler never noticed Ribbentrop's babbling because Hitler always did all the talking."
Since Göring had committed suicide a few hours prior to the time of execution, Ribbentrop was the first politician to be hanged on the morning of 16 October 1946. After being escorted up the 13 steps to the waiting noose, Ribbentrop was asked if he had any final words. He calmly said: "God protect Germany. God have mercy on my soul. My final wish is that Germany should recover her unity and that, for the sake of peace, there should be understanding between East and West." As the hood was placed over his head, Ribbentrop added: "I wish peace to the world." After a slight pause the executioner pulled the lever, releasing the trap door Ribbentrop stood upon. Although his neck snapped, he hung for seventeen minutes before the doctor declared him dead.
Historian Giles MacDonogh records a very different result: "The hangman botched the execution and the rope throttled the former foreign minister for twenty minutes before he expired."
The body of Joachim von Ribbentrop after his execution.
(21 August 1907 – 6 July 2004)
Frentz was born at Heilbronn. During the Nazi regime in Germany, he worked as a cameraman forLeni Riefenstahl; from 1939 to 1945, he was closely associated with photographing and filming activities of higher echelons of leaders of Nazi Germany, including German dictator Adolf Hitler.
He died at Überlingen in 2004.
Robert Ritter von Greim
(22 June 1892 – 24 May 1945)
On 8 May, the same day as the surrender of the Third Reich, Ritter von Greim was captured by American soldiers in Austria. Ritter von Greim was slated to be part of a Soviet-American prisoner exchange program and, fearing torture and execution at the hands of Joseph Stalin's NKVD, committed suicide in Salzburg, Austria, on 24 May.
His final words before taking Potassium cyanide were: "I am the head of theLuftwaffe, but I have no Luftwaffe."
24 August 1979
(29 March 1912 – 24 August 1979)
Was a German aviator and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Combined Pilots-Observation Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. Along with her flying skills Reitsch was photogenic and willingly appeared in Nazi Party propaganda throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, which made her a celebrity. She set over forty aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both before and after World War II, and several of her internationalgliding records are still standing to this day.
Adolf Hitler awards Hanna Reitsch the Iron Cross 2nd Class in March 1941
Reitsch in 1936
During the last days of the war, in light of Hermann Göring's dismissal as head of the Luftwaffe for what Hitler saw as an act of treason (sending the Göring Telegram and allegedly attempting a coup d'état), he appointed Colonel-General Robert Ritter von Greim as head of the Luftwaffe. To enable him to meet Hitler, von Greim asked Reitsch to fly him into embattled Berlin.
Red Army troops were already in the central area when Reitsch and von Greim arrived on 26 April in a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch. With her long experience at low-altitude flying over Berlin and having already surveyed the road as an escape route with Hitler's personal pilot Hans Baur, Reitsch landed on an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate (Greim was wounded in the leg when Red Army soldiers fired at the light aircraft during its approach). They made their way to the Führerbunker, where Hitler promoted von Greim to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall and to Hermann Göring's former command of the barely functioning Luftwaffe. During the intense Russian bombardment, Hitler gave Reitsch a cyanide capsule for herself and another for von Greim. She accepted the capsule willingly, fully prepared to die alongside her Führer.
During the evening of 28 April, Von Greim and Reitsch flew out from Berlin in an Arado Ar 96 trainer (from the same improvised airstrip). Von Greim was ordered to get the Luftwaffe to attack the Soviet forces that had just reached Potsdamerplatz and to make sure Heinrich Himmlerwas punished for his treachery of making unauthorised contact with the Western Allies. Fearing that Hitler was escaping in the plane, troops of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army, which was fighting its way through the Tiergarten from the north, tried to shoot the Arado down. The Soviet troops failed in their efforts and the plane took off successfully.Reitsch was soon captured along with von Greim and the two were interviewed together by American military intelligence officers. When asked about being ordered to leave the Fuhrerbunker on 28 April 1945 Reitsch and von Greim reportedly repeated the same answer, "It was the blackest day when we could not die at our Führer's side." Reitsch also said, "We should all kneel down in reverence and prayer before the altar of the Fatherland." When the interviewers asked what she meant by "Altar of the Fatherland" she answered, "Why, the Führer's bunker in Berlin..." She was held and interrogated for eighteen months. Her companion, von Greim, committed suicide on 24 May. Her father killed her mother, her sister, and her sister's children before killing himself during the last days of the war after expulsion by the Polish from their hometown of Hirschberg.
After her release Reitsch settled in Frankfurt am Main. Following the war German citizens were barred from flying powered aircraft, but within a few years gliding was allowed, which she took up. In 1952 Reitsch won third place in the World Gliding Championships in Spain (and was the only woman to compete). She continued to break records, including the women's altitude record (6,848 m). She became German champion in 1955.
During the mid-1950s, Reitsch was interviewed on film and talked about her wartime flight tests of the Fa 61, Me 262, and Me 163. In 1959 she was invited to India by prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to begin a gliding centre. In 1961 Reitsch was invited to the White House by US President John F. Kennedy. From 1962 to 1966 she lived in Ghana, where she founded the first black African national gliding school.
She gained the Diamond Badge in 1970. Throughout the 1970s, Reitsch broke gliding records in many categories, including the "Women's Out and Return World Record" twice, once in 1976 (715 km) and again in 1979 (802 km) flying along the Appalachian Ridges in the United States. During this time, she also finished first in the women's section of the first world helicopter championshipReitsch died in Frankfurt at the age of 67 on 24 August 1979, allegedly following a heart attack. She had never married.
February 6, 1914 - February 27, 2007
General Bernd Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven
(February 6, 1914 - February 27, 2007),
Loringhoven was a Baltic-German descended from an ancient and illustrious family first ennobled in the 12th century (Baron: Livonia, Courland 1198; Master of the Teutonic Order 1485, Gotha Register 1896, 1934 1942). He was born in Arensburg (Kuressaare), Governorate of Livonia. After one year of law studies at the University of Königsberg, he joined the Reichswehr in 1933.
In 1942 a tank battalion under Loringhoven's command was encircled during the Soviet counter-offensive at the Battle of Stalingrad, however, he was flown out of the pocket in January 1943. He was a decorated tank commander. From July 1944-April 1945, he served as an adjutant to both General Heinz Guderian and General Hans Krebs.
Loringhoven's last assignment was as a staff officer responsible for the preparation of reports for German leader Adolf Hitler. This work required a constant presence in Hitler's entourage. After 23 April 1945, when Hitler's communications staff began to desert, he had to improvise and he based his intelligence reports on information he was able to gather from the Allied news agencies Reuters and the BBC. Fortunately, Hitler was not aware of this. During the evening of 29 April, he left the Führerbunker with Gerhardt Boldt and Lieutenant-ColonelRudolf Weiss. Earlier in the morning,
Loringhoven had approached Krebs and asked if he and Boldt could leave Berlin and "return to the fighting troops." Krebs talked to Burgdorf to get his advice. Burgdorf approved but indicated that they should take his assistant, Weiss. Hitler was approached for his approval at midday. Surprisingly, he asked many questions and offered his advice. Hitler asked: "How are you going to get out of Berlin?" When Loringhoven mentioned finding a boat, Hitler became enthusiastic and advised: "You must get an electric boat, because that does not make any noise and you can get through the Russian lines." When he agreed that an electric boat would be best but added that, if necessary, they might have to use a different craft, Hitler was suddenly exhausted. He shook hands limply with each of them and quickly dismissed the group.
Captured by the British, Loringhoven spent two and a half years as a prisoner of war. He was not charged with war crimes. After being repatriated in January 1948, he lived in Munich, where he became a publisher. He joined the German Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in 1956 and attained the rank of General. He was later appointed Deputy Inspector General of the Armed Forces and retired from the army in 1973, with full honors. At the time of his death, he was one of the last three known living witnesses (along with bunker telephone operatorRochus Misch and Hitler Youth courier Armin Lehmann) to the events in the Führerbunker at the end of World War II.
BERLIN — Baron Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, a witness to Adolf Hitler’s final days who described the last throes of a despairing Nazi leadership trapped in a Berlin bunker, has died, his publisher said Monday. He was 93.
Von Loringhoven died in February of natural causes in his home city of Munich, said Wolf Jobst Siedler Jr., who published the German-language version of his book, “In the Bunker with Hitler.” Siedler did not have an exact date.
In an interview for the 50th anniversary of the end of World WarII, von Loringhoven recalled the despair among the two dozen top Nazis and their entourage in the bunker as the Soviet army converged on it in 1945.
“They talked about whether they should shoot themselves or take poison,” von Loringhoven told the Los Angeles Times. “And they talked about whether, if they shot themselves, they should put the gun in their mouths, or put it to their temples.” On April 29, the day before Hitler and his new bride, Eva Braun, killed themselves, von Loringhoven was given his way out.
As a regular army major whose duty was to assemble military intelligence dispatches for Hitler, he found himself out of a job when the advancing Soviet army knocked out the radio transmitter the army used to send him information. “I had no intention of being killed there, like a rat, in the corridor,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I asked to be given a chance either to go and find the fighting troops, or else to be given a chance to get out of Berlin.”“I had the feeling when we talked to him that he had already decided to end his life and that he, as a physical wreck, was envious of three strong young men who still had the chance of getting through.” He remembered Hitler reacting with enthusiasm, rather than condemnation, to the news that he and two comrades were going to flee. The three managed to elude the Soviets and then allowed themselves to be captured by the Western Allies.
A prisoner of war
After two years as a British prisoner of war, von Loringhoven was released and reunited with his family.
(14 April 1920 – disappeared c. 2 May 1945)
Manziarly was born in Innsbruck, Austria. She began working for Hitler from his 1943 stays at the Berghof until his final days in Berlin in 1945. The Reich Chancellery bunker complex in Berlin was made up of two bunkers, the lower Führerbunker and the older upper bunker known as the Vorbunker. Two rooms in the Vorbunker were used for food supply. Another room was the kitchen which had a refrigerator and a wine store. Frau Manziarly, used the kitchen to prepare Hitler's meals while he stayed in the Führerbunker.
Together with Gerda Christian and Traudl Junge, Manziarly was personally requested to leave the bunker complex by Hitler on 22 April.However, all three women decided to stay with Hitler until his death.
Manziarly left the bunker complex on 1 May. Her group was led by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, and awkwardly made its way north to a German army hold-out at the Schultheiss-Patzenhofer brewery on the Prinzenallee. The group included Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck and the female secretaries, Gerda Christian, Else Krüger, and Traudl Junge.
Despite claims that she took a cyanide capsule to kill herself on 2 May, the day after the majority of Führerbunker staff abandoned the stronghold to avoid impending Soviet capture, Junge recounts Manziarly leaving with her group, "dressed too much like a soldier". In 1989, Junge recalled the last time Manziarly was seen was when the group of four women who had been given the task of delivering a report to Karl Dönitz split up, and Manziarly tried to blend in with a group of local women.
In her 2002 autobiography Until the Final Hour, Junge alluded to seeing Manziarly, "the ideal image of Russian femininity, well built and plump-cheeked", being taken into a U-Bahn subway tunnel by two Soviet soldiers, reassuring the group that "[T]hey want to see my papers." She was never seen again.
The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler and his staff took up residence in the bunker in January 1945 and until the last week of the war it became the epicentre of the Nazi regime. It was here during the last week of April 1945 that Hitler married Eva Braun shortly before they committed suicide.
The Following Stories: Final occupants of the Führerbunker by date of departure (1945)
24 January 1918 – 10 May 1981
(24 January 1918 – 10 May 1981)
On 29 April, three couriers left Berlin. Each left with a copy of the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler. Communications were down, the Soviets were closing in, and many were morbidly anticipating Hitler's suicide. Boldt's friend, Bernd von Freytag-Loringhoven, obtained permission for them to leave. That evening, Boldt left the Führerbunker with Freytag-Loringhoven and Burgdorf's assistant, Lieutenant-ColonelRudolf Weiss. Weiss became separated from his two companions and was captured. He endured 5 years captivity in a Soviet POW camp in Poland. On 12th May, after several close encounters with Soviet forces, the two men parted company; Boldt went north to Lubeck and von Loringhoven headed towards Leipzig to join his wife and son.
(27 September 1910 - 19 September 1958)
(27 September 1910 - 19 September 1958)
Was a German officer, and one of the last residents of the Führerbunker.
Weiß joined the Reichswehr at 1931, and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1934. In November 1938, he was assigned to the Army High Command's personnel department, and promoted to Captain during 1940. In 1941, he was transferred to the 1st Panzer Division as an adjutant. From April 1942, he served in the General Army Office (Allgemeines Heeresamt) as a motorization officer, receiving the rank of a Major on June. On 2 October, he was appointed the personal adjutant for the Army's Personnel Department chief, a position he held until the end of the Second World War. As such, he served under General Rudolf Schmundt. On 1 April 1944, Weiß was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. On 20 July 1944, Schmundt was severely wounded in the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life, and was replaced by his deputy, Wilhelm Burgdorf. Burgdorf officially became the department's chief after his predecessor's death on 1 October.Battle of Berlin
During the Battle of Berlin, Weiß was present in the Führerbunker. On 29 April 1945, Major Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven and RittmeisterGerhardt Boldt requested General Hans Krebs' permission to join the fighting outside. Krebs consulted with Burgdorf, who answered that they should better take Weiß with them. Hitler allowed them to leave the bunker, and told them: "Send my regards for Wenck. He should make haste, before it is too late."
Weiß was separated from the other two and captured by the Red Army, and subsequently spent five years in a prisoner-of-war camp in Poland. He died in 1958
22 April 1911 – 27 September 1974
(22 April 1911 – 27 September 1974)
It was subsequently discovered that he had adopted the surname Paustin and worked as a gardener.
7 August 1913 – 23 November 1985
(7 August 1913 – 23 November 1985)
A native of Schwerin, he was a reserve officer and served as Hauptschriftführer of the Deutsches Nachrichtenbüro (DNB). In 1945, Lorenz became the deputy press attaché in the Führerbunker. Towards the end of the war, after Germany's own communications system was all but lost, Lorenz became part of a group of Germans who fabricated news reports by reviewing and re-writing Allied news reports.
On 28 April, Lorenz provided Hitler with confirmation that Heinrich Himmler was contacting the Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte. He was among the bunker personnel who left the Führerbunker on 29 April, the day before Hitler's suicide.
After the war, Lorenz was private secretary to the Haus Hugo Stinnes from 1947 to 1953. He was parliamentary stenographer for the West German Bundestag from 1953 to 1958 and Leiter of the Stenographic Service of the Bundesrat from 1958 until retirement in 1978.
Karl Bodenshatz, Heinz Lorenz partially obscured by Bodenshatz,
14 April 1970
Willy Johannmeyer (sometimes mistakenly written Willi) was a German officer during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, and, by the time of the dissolution of the Third Reich, the last Armyadjutant (Heeresadjutant) to Adolf Hitler
Johannmeyer was among the occupants of the so-called Führerbunker, the underground headquarters in encircled Berlin (where Hitlercommitted suicide) and was also present at Hitler's last birthday ceremony on 20 April 1945. During the night of 28–29 April, Hitler ordered that three copies of his political testament be handed to Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner in Czechoslovakia, Karl Dönitz in Schleswig-Holstein, and Paul Giesler in Tegernsee by Willy Johannmeyer, Bormann's adjutant SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander and Chief Press Secretary (Stellvertretender Pressechef) Heinz Lorenz, respectively. The three officers said their farewell to Hitler and were handed a white dossier with the testament by Martin Bormann at approximately 4.00 am that night. Armed with automatic weapons and wearing helmets and uniforms to break through Soviet lines, the officers left Berlin later that day.
A day later, Oberstleutnant Graßmann took off with a Fieseler Storch liaison aircraft at around midnight, 1–2 May 1945 with the obligation to fetch Johannmeyer from Pfaueninsel, Wannsee and bring him to Field Marshal Schörner's headquarters, who was unaware of his appointment to Commander-in-Chief of the Army. However, he was unable to land in Berlin, but his Storch turned back and made an emergency landing in the Erzgebirge
Johannmeyer was arrested by American troops in 1945. After his liberation, he was engaged in industrial business, mainly in Agricultural Economics and attained the respective Diploma (Dipl. agr.). He worked for the DEMAG subsidiary FMA Pokorny in Frankfurt am Main,Hessen, and became a member of the company's Board of directors. His main field of involvement reportedly was compressed airengineering, where he was praised for being "a dynamic and creative personality".
Willy Johannmeyer died on 14 April 1970 after a heavy, long illness, in Kelkheim, at the age of 54. According to other sources, Johannmeyer died in Frankfurt am Main.
(20 September 1907 – 24 July 1983
Nicolaus von Below
(20 September 1907 – 24 July 1983)
Below was German dictator Adolf Hitler's Air Force (Luftwaffe) adjutant from 1937 through 1945. Hitler generally disliked and was suspicious of soldiers with aristocratic backgrounds. This was particularly true as the tide of the war turned against Germany. But Below, with the rank of colonel, was one of the few members of Hitler's entourage to continually serve in a close capacity for so many years.
During the time between the Christmas and New Year's holiday of 1944, Hitler told Below: "I know the war is lost, the enemy's superiority is far too great." But Hitler, still dwelling on the July 20 Plot to kill him, placed the blame on traitors. He then told Below: "We will never surrender, we may go down, but we will take a world with us."
On 12 April 1945, Below was a guest of Albert Speer to see the last performance of the Berlin Philharmonic before the city was captured by the Red Army. He later wrote: "The concert took us back to another world."
On 15 April, Eva Braun was moved into the room next to the room Hitler occupied in the Führerbunker. Below wrote the following of her: "She was charming and obliging and showed no weakness right up to the last moment."Nicolaus von Below (second from right, front row) with Hitler and staff in 1940 Nicolaus von Below (left) with Hitler,Hermann Göring and Hanna Reitsch in 1941
On 29 April, after the wedding of Hitler and Braun, Below was an "unofficial" witness to the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler. He did not sign the document.After the war, Below wrote a book containing the memoirs of his service during World War IIentitled At Hitler's Side (2001) (ISBN 1-85367-468-0). He died in Detmold, Germany, in 1983.
16 September 1910 – 24 January 1975
(16 March 1920 – 10 February 2002
Traudl Junge (born Gertraud Humps;
(16 March 1920 – 10 February 2002)
Gertraud "Traudl" Humps was born in Munich, the daughter of a master brewer and lieutenant in the Reserve Army, Max Humps and his wife Hildegard (née Zottmann). She had a sister, Inge, born in 1923. As a teenager she thought of becoming a ballerina.
Traudl Junge began working for Hitler in December 1942. She was the youngest of his private secretaries.
"I was 22 and I didn't know anything about politics, it didn't interest me", Junge said decades later, also saying that she felt great guilt for "...liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived."
She said, "I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler. He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend. I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn't what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things."
At Hitler's encouragement, in June 1943 Junge married Waffen-SS officer Hans Hermann Junge (1914 – 1944), who died in combat. She worked at Hitler's side in Berlin, the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, at Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, and lastly back in Berlin in theFührerbunker.
In 1945 Junge was with Hitler in Berlin. She typed Hitler's last private and political will and testament in the Führerbunker a day and a half before his suicide. Junge later wrote that while she was playing with the Goebbels children on 30 April, "Suddenly [...] there is the sound of a shot, so loud, so close, that we all fall silent. It echoes on through all the rooms. 'That was a direct hit,' cried Helmut [Goebbels] with no idea how right he is. The Führer is dead now."
On 1 May Junge left the Führerbunker with a group led by Waffen-SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke. Also in the group were Hitler's personal pilot Hans Baur, the chief of Hitler's Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD) bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, secretary Gerda Christian, secretary Else Krüger, Hitler's dietician Constanze Manziarly and Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck. Junge, Christian and Krüger made it out of Berlin to the River Elbe, but most of the others still alive were found by Soviet troops on 2 May, hiding in a cellar off the Schönhauser Allee. The Germans who had been in the Führerbunker and captured by the Soviet army were handed over to SMERSH for interrogation about what had happened in the bunker during the closing weeks of the war
Junge died from cancer in Munich on 10 February 2002 at the age of 81 and she was given global celebrity for a few days, reportedly having said shortly before her death, "Now that I've let go of my story, I can let go of my life." Further fame came two years later when some of Junge's experiences with Hitler were portrayed in the Academy Award-nominated film Der Untergang.
FHQ Wolfsschanze Marlene von Exner (Diätköchin) Traudl Junge (Sekretärin)
Gerda "Dara" Christian née Daranowski
(13 December 1913 – 14 April 1997)
Born Gerda Daranowski, and nicknamed "Dara", she began working for Hitler in 1937 after his secretaries Johanna Wolf and Christa Schroeder had complained about having too much work. They asked for assistance but Hitler reportedly hesitated. He did not wish to see a new face in his inner sanctum. He finally gave in and hired Gerda Daranowski.
She had been engaged to Hitler's driver Erich Kempka, and later married, Luftwaffe officer Eckhard Christian on 2 February 1943. Gerda then took a break from her employment for Hitler. She was replaced by Traudl Junge. Eckhard Christian was appointed Ia of the Luftwaffe Command Staff at Hitler's request. Gerda Christian returned to Hitler's staff as one of his private secretaries.
Eckhard was promoted to Generalmajor and Chief of the Luftwaffe Command Staff at Hitler's request on 1 September 1944. In April 1945, Eckhard was stationed in Berlin at the Führerbunker HQ. He left the bunker complex on 22 April 1945 to become Chief of the liaison staff of the Luftwaffe to OKW Command Staff North. Gerda was one of two secretaries who volunteered to remain with Hitler in the Führerbunker. After Hitler's death, Gerda tried to escape Berlin on 1 May 1945. She was part of a "break-out" group led by Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, that included secretaries Else Krüger and Traudl Junge. The group was captured by the Soviets on the morning of 2 May, while hiding in a cellar off the Schönhauser Allee.
She divorced Eckhard Christian in 1946 because he did not remain with her in the Führerbunker until after the death of Hitler.
After the war, she lived in Düsseldorf, where she worked at the Hotel Eden. She was a friend of Werner Naumann, a former state secretary in the Third Reich's propaganda ministry and a leader of a postwar neo-Nazi group. She died of cancer in Düsseldorf in 1997, aged 83.
24 September 1917 – 2 October 2003
(24 September 1917 – 2 October 2003)
Was a Sturmbannführer(Major) in the Waffen-SS and a member of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler before he became Adolf Hitler's personal adjutant. He was captured by soldiers of the Red Army on 2 May 1945. After various prisons and labor camps in the USSR, he was released from Bautzen Penitentiary on 2 May 1956
Günsche was born in Jena in Thuringia. After leaving secondary school at 16 he volunteered for the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and joined theNazi Party. He first met Adolf Hitler in 1936. In 1944 he fought on the eastern front and then in France. He was present at the 20 July 1944 attempt to kill Hitler at the Wolf's Lair in Rastenburg.
As the end of the Third Reich became imminent, Günsche was tasked by Hitler with ensuring the cremation of his body after his death and Günsche stood guard outside the room where Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.
Having ensured that the bodies were burnt using fuel supplied by Hitler's chauffeur Erich Kempka, Günsche left the Führerbunker a few hours later, on 30 April 1945. He surrendered to Soviet troops encircling the city soon thereafter and was flown to Moscow for interrogation by the NKVD.
He was imprisoned in Moscow and Bautzen in East Germany and released on 2 May 1956. During his imprisonment, Günsche was a primary contributor to Operation Myth, the biography of Hitler that was prepared for Joseph Stalin. The dossier was edited by Soviet NKVD (later known as the MVD, the forerunner of the KGB) officers. The report was received by Stalin on Dec. 30, 1949. The report was published in book form in 2005 under the title: The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides.
She was in the Führerbunker during the Battle of Berlin. Krüger was with Eva Braun, Gerda Christian, Traudl Junge, and Constanze Manziarlywhen German dictator Adolf Hitler told them that they must prepare to leave for the Berghof like the others. However, she instead volunteered to remain in the Berlin Führerbunker. She was there when Braun indicated that she would never leave Hitler's side and they embraced. In a gesture of kindness, Hitler gave each of the women a cyanide capsule.
After the war Else was interrogated by the British. She later married her British interrogator, Leslie James (1915-1995), on the 23 December 1947 in Wallasey, Cheshire UK. She lived under the name Else James in Wallasey.
(23 March 1913 – 9 March 1980
(23 March 1913 – 9 March 1980)
Linge was born in Bremen, Germany. Before joining the SS in 1933 he was employed as abricklayer and was selected by Sepp Dietrich to be one of 117 original bodyguards for Adolf Hitler. By the end of the war he had obtained the rank of Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel).
He worked as a valet in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, at Hitler's residence on the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden and at Wolfsschanze in Rastenburg. He stated that his daily routine was to wake Hitler each day at 11.00am and then keep him stocked with writing materials and spectacles for his morning reading session in bed. Hitler would then dress himself to a stopwatch with Linge acting as a 'referee'. He would take a light breakfast of tea, biscuits and an apple and a vegetarian lunch at 2.30pm. Dinner with only a few guests present was at 8.00 pm.
Linge was one of many soldiers, servants, secretaries, and officers who moved into the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker in Berlin in 1945. There he continued as Hitler's favourite valet and protocol officer and was one of those who closely witnessed the last days of Hitler's life during the Battle of Berlin. He was also Hitler's personal ordinance officer. Linge delivered messages to Hitler and escorted people in to meet with Hitler.
Linge stated in his memoirs that two days before his death at approximately 3:30pm on 30 April, Hitler told him of his planned suicide withEva Braun and asked him to ensure their bodies were wrapped in blankets, then taken up to the garden and cremated. He said that following his marriage to Eva, Hitler spent the last night of his life lying awake and fully clothed on his bed. In the 1974 video documentaryThe Two Deaths of Adolf Hitler, part of The World at War collection, Linge, along with Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge, narrates Hitler's very last moments in the bunker. He tells with vivid details how the Führer said farewell to each of his servants and subordinates. He explains that Hitler and his wife committed suicide in Hitler's private room in the bunker. He tells how he went into Hitler's private study after hearing a sudden bang and found both Hitler and Eva Braun dead.
Thereafter, the two bodies were carried up the stairs to ground level and through the bunker's emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery where they were doused with petrol. After the first attempts to ignite the petrol didn't work, Linge went back inside the bunker and then returned with a thick roll of papers. Martin Bormann lit the papers and threw the torch onto the bodies. As the two corpses caught fire, a small group, including Bormann, Linge, Otto Günsche and Joseph Goebbels raised their arms in Nazi salute as they stood just inside the bunker doorway, thus attempting to keep Hitler’s corpse from being captured by the Soviet Red Army; as the Führer had commanded. Linge was one of the last to leave the Führerbunker in the early morning hours of 1 May 1945. He teamed up with SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Kempka. Linge was later captured near See-Strasse. Several days later, after his identity was revealed, two Russian officers escorted him by train to Moscow where he was thrown into the notorious Lubjanka Prison.Linge was interrogated by the Soviet NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB) about the circumstances of Hitler's death. He spent ten years in Soviet captivity and was released in 1955. He died in Bremen in West Germany in 1980. His memoir, With Hitler to the End, was published by Frontline Books-Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. (London) in July 2009 with an introduction by Roger Moorhouse, author of Killing Hitler.
(30 April 1897 – 30 June 1957),
Also known as Hans Rattenhuber, was a German police and SS general (Gruppenführer, i. e. Generalleutnant). Rattenhuber was the head of German dictator Adolf Hitler's personal (RSD) bodyguard from 1933 to 1945.
Johann Rattenhuber in Soviet captivity
"About 10 o'clock at night [on 29 April] Hitler summoned me to his room... Hitler said: 'You have served me faithfully for many years. Tomorrow is your birthday and I want to congratulate you and thank you for your faithful service, because I shall not be able to do so tomorrow... I have taken the decision... I must leave this world...' I went over to Hitler and told him how necessary his survival was for Germany, that there was still a chance to try and escape from Berlin and save his life. 'What for?' Hitler argued. 'Everything is ruined..., and to flee means falling into the hands of the Russians'...
Rattenhuber, however, was not present when Hitler killed himself on the afternoon of 30 April in the Führerbunker. He did not see Hitler's body until after it was wrapped in grey blankets and carried out of the office/sitting room where Hitler died. He was not one of those who took the body up the chairs and outside. Instead, Rattenhuber followed Heinz Linge, Otto Günsche and several others outside and watched Hitler's body be burned
On 1 May, Rattenhuber led one of the ten groups escaping from the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker. Two of the other main groups were led by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke and Werner Naumann. Most, including Rattenhuber, were captured by the Soviets on the same day or the following day. Rattenhuber was taken to Moscow, where on 20 May he gave a detailed description of the last days of Hitler and the Nazi leadership in the bunker. The text of this was kept in the Soviet archives until it was published by V.K. Vinogradov in theRussian edition of Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB in 2000.
Rattenhuber was made a Soviet prisoner of war. In August 1951 he was charged by the Soviet Ministry of State Security that "from the early days of the Nazi dictatorship in Germany in 1933 and until the defeat of the latter in 1945, being an SS Gruppenführer, Police Lieutenant-General and the chief of the Reich Security Service, he ensured the personal security of Hitler and other Reich leaders". Rattenhuber was sentenced by the Court Martial of the Moscow Military District on 15 February 1952 to 25 years' imprisonment. By a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of September 1955 he was released and handed over to the German Democratic Republic authorities, who allowed him to go to West Germany. He died in Munich in 1957
(16 June 1909 – 25 October 1982)
Was a State Secretary in Joseph Goebbels' Propagandaministerium during the Third Reich. He was appointed head of the Propaganda Ministry by Führer Adolf Hitler in his political testament after Dr. Goebbels was promoted to Reichskanzler.
Naumann was born in Guhrau in Silesia, Prussia, Germany. After finishing school, he studied political economics. Naumann joined theNSDAP in 1928, and was promoted to the leader of an SS brigade in 1933. Five years later he was made personal aide of Joseph Goebbels and in 1942 became his assistant secretary. He was a member of the Freundeskreis Reichsführer SS around Heinrich Himmler and served several times in the SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler during World War II.
Though appointed Propaganda Minister in the Flensburg government of Karl Dönitz by Hitler's Testament of 29 April 1945, Naumann fled to Argentina after escaping the Soviet Army encirclement of Berlin in the break-out from the Führerbunker on 1 May 1945. Friedrich Bergoldtestified at Nuremberg that he had last seen Naumann walking a metre in front of Martin Bormann when the latter was hit by a Soviet rocket while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin.
In Argentina, Naumann became one of the editors of the neo-Nazi magazine "Der Weg" published by the Dürer Verlag, which entered circulation amongst the German community in June 1947. This attracted the interest of Israeli agents, who identified Naumann and made his presence known, and he decided to return to South Germany. He was in hiding there until 1949, when he started an apprenticeship as a bricklayer which he passed with excellent grades.
Naumann was the highest ranking member of the Nazi hierarchy known to have gone to Argentina immediately postwar. How he entered is not known.Naumann was arrested by the British Army in 1953 and accused of being the leader of a Neo-Nazi group that attempted to infiltrate West German political parties; he was released after seven months in custody. Later on, he became director at a metal firm in Lüdenscheid owned by Goebbels' stepson Harald Quandt. He died in 1982 in Lüdenscheid in North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany, aged 73.
15 March 1911 – 6 August 2001
(15 March 1911 – 6 August 2001)
Mohnke saw action with the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in France, Poland and the Balkans. After several failed attempts to introduce a Panzer arm to the Leibstandarte, he was transferred to the replacement battalion until he was given command of a regiment in the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. It was with this regiment that he fought in the Battle for Caen. For his superior conduct in battle, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 11 July 1944. After participating in most of the French campaign, he was given command of his original division, the Leibstandarte, during the Battle of the Bulge, which commenced on 16 December 1944. He served until the very last day of the war in Europe; during the Battle of Berlin, he commanded the Kampfgruppe Mohnke and was charged with defending the Berlin government district, including the Reich Chancellery and Reichstag(nicknamed Die Zitadelle or The Citadel.
On 30 April, after receiving news of Hitler's suicide, orders were issued that those who could do so were to break out. The plan was to escape from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or the German Army to the North. Prior to the breakout, Mohnke briefed all commanders (who could be reached) within the Zitadelle sector about the events as to Hitler's death and the planned break out. They split up into ten main groups. It was a "fateful moment" for Brigadeführer Mohnke as he made his way out of the Reich Chancellery on 1 May. He had been the first duty officer of the LSSAH at the building and now was leaving as the last battle commander there.[ Mohnke's group included Hitler's personal pilot, Hans Baur, the chief of his Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD) bodyguard - Hans Rattenhuber, secretary Traudl Junge, secretary Gerda Christian, secretary Else Krüger, Hitler's dietician, Constanze Manziarly, Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, and various others. Mohnke planned to break out towards the German Army which was positioned in Prinzenallee. The group headed along the subway but their route was blocked so they went aboveground and later joined hundreds of other Germans civilians and military personnel who had sought refuge at the Schultheiss-Patzenhofer Brewery. Upon learning of General Weidling's order of 2 May 1945, calling for the complete surrender of all German forces still in Berlin (and knowing they could not get through the Soviet rings), Mohnke decided to surrender to theSoviet Army. However, several of Mohnke's group (including some of the SS personnel) opted to commit suicide. Some groups kept up pockets of resistance throughout the city and did not surrender until 8 May 1945.
Following their surrender Mohnke and other senior German officers were treated to a banquet by the Chief of Staff of the 8th Guards Army. He was then handed over to the NKVD and on 9 May 1945 he was flown to Moscow for interrogation and kept in solitary confinement until 1949, when he was transferred to the Generals' Prison in Woikowo. He remained in captivity until 10 October 1955. Following his release, he worked as a dealer in small trucks and trailers, living in Barsbüttel, Germany.
Despite a campaign, led by the British Member of Parliament Jeff Rooker, to prosecute him for his alleged involvement in war crimes during the early part of the war, Wilhelm Mohnke was able to live out the remainder of his years in peace. Mohnke strongly denied the accusations, telling author Fischer, "I issued no orders not to take English prisoners or to execute prisoners." He died in the coastal village of Damp, near Eckernförde in Schleswig-Holstein in August 2001, at the age of 90.
Hans-Erich Voss (or Voß, see ß)
(30 October 1897 – 18 November 1969)
Was a German Vice Admiral and one of the final occupants of the Führerbunker during thebattle of Berlin in 1945. He was also among the last people to see both Adolf Hitlerand Joseph Goebbels alive before they committed suicide.
Hans-Erich Voss in Soviet captivity
Voss has the unique distinction of being presented with the 20 July 1944 wound badges in black, silver and gold. Voss was born in Angermünde, Brandenburg, and graduated from the German Naval Academy in 1917. He served in the German Navy through the Weimar Republic andNazi periods. In 1942, he was commander of the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, and metJoseph Goebbels, then Reich Propaganda Minister, when Goebbels accompanied a party of journalists on a tour of the ship. As a result of this meeting, Goebbels arranged to have Voss appointed Naval Liaison Officer to Hitler's headquarters in March 1943.
Voss was present during the bomb plotagainst Hitler on 20 July 1944. He was in the conference room at Hitler's Rastenburg Headquarters Wolfsschanze ("Wolf's Lair") as Kriegsmarine representative. Around 12:30 hours as the conference began, plotter Claus von Stauffenberg made an excuse to use a washroom in Wilhelm Keitel's office where he used pliers to crush the end of a pencil detonator inserted into a 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) block of plastic explosive wrapped in brown paper. The detonator, which consisted of a thin copper tube containing acid , took ten minutes to silently eat through wire holding back the firing pin from the percussion cap. The primed bomb was then placed in a briefcase under a table around which Hitler, Voss and more than 20 officers had gathered.Between 12:40 and 12:50 the bomb detonated, destroying the conference room.
Although Hitler survived with minor wounds, three officers and a stenographer were fatally injured and died soon afterwards. Voss was also wounded in the bomb blast but he quickly recovered. He became a recipient of the Wound Badge of 20 July 1944. Initially his award class was presented in black but then it was upgraded to silver and finally gold because he was wounded a number of times after the initial award. Voss was the only member of the Wehrmacht to have received all three badges.
In his capacity as Kriegsmarine Liaison Officer, Voss accompanied Hitler, Goebbels, and their entourages into the Führerbunker under theReich Chancellery building in central Berlin in January 1945. In the final months of the Third Reich, Voss became a close confidante of Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. He was aware that the Goebbels had decided that they would not leave the bunker, but would kill their children and then themselves once Hitler was dead.
On 30 April, Voss was among the group of officers whom Hitler informed that he had decided to commit suicide rather than attempt to escape from Berlin, which was surrounded by the Red Army. One of Hitler's security officers, Johann Rattenhuber, later testified:"In Hitler's reception room at 10 o'clock in the morning there assembled Generals Burgdorf and Krebs, Admiral Voss, Hitler's personal pilot General Baur, Standartenführer Beetz, Obersturmbannführer Hegel, his personal servant Sturmbannführer Linge, Günsche and myself. He came out to us and said: 'I have decided to abandon this life. Thank you for your good and honest service. Try to escape from Berlin with the troops. I am staying here'. Saying goodbye he shook hands with each of us."
Interrogated by Soviet officers on 6 May, Voss recounted:"When Goebbels learned that Hitler had committed suicide, he was very depressed and said: 'It is a great pity that such a man is not with us any longer. But there is nothing to be done. For us, everything is lost now and the only way out left for us is the one which Hitler chose. I shall follow his example'."
On 1 May, Voss saw Goebbels for the last time:"Before the breakout from the bunker began, about ten generals and officers, including myself, went down individually to Goebbels's shelter to say goodbye. While saying goodbye I asked Goebbels to join us. But he replied: 'The captain must not leave his sinking ship. I have thought about it all and decided to stay here. I have nowhere to go because with little children I will not be able to make it'."
Voss then joined the group led by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke which broke out of the bunker and tried to escape from Berlin. Most of the group were captured by Soviet forces the same day. Voss was brought back to the bunker for questioning, and to identify the partly burned bodies of Joseph and Magda Goebbels, and also the bodies of their six children, who had been poisoned. The Soviet account states:"Vice-Admiral Voss, being asked how he identified the people as Goebbels, his wife and children, explained that he recognised the burnt body of the man as former Reichsminister Goebbels by the following signs: the shape of the head, the line of the mouth, the metal brace that Goebbels had on his right leg, his gold NSDAP badge and the burnt remains of his party uniform." Capture
Voss was made a Soviet prisoner of war. In August 1951, he was prosecuted by the Soviet authorities on charges that "he held a command post in Hitler's war fleet, that was involved in an aggressive war in breach of international laws and treaties." In February 1952, the Court Martial of the Moscow Military District sentenced him to 25 years' imprisonment. By a decree of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet in December 1954, however, he was released and handed over to the German Democratic Republic authorities.Voss died at Berchtesgaden in Bavaria in 1969.
(27 September 1908 – 2 May 1945)
(Ewald Lindloff (27 September 1908 – 2 May 1945) was a Waffen-SS officer, who rose to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer during World War II. He was killed during the break-out on 2 May 1945 while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin.)
Was a Waffen-SS officer, who rose to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer during World War II. He was killed during the break-out on 2 May 1945 while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge under heavy fire in Berlin.
Ewald Lindloff was born in Stuba near Danzig. He joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) on 1 May 1932. He was accepted into the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) on 15 July 1933. On 4 February 1938, he married Ilse Borchert, a secretary for Hitler's staff officers. From 20 October 1942 until 10 May 1943, Lindloff was on active combat duty with the LSSAH.
Later in April 1945, he was a member of the Leibstandarte (LSSAH) Guard Battalion (assigned to guard the Führer) in Berlin. Lindloff was present in the Führerbunker on the afternoon of 30 April 1945, when Hitler shot himself and Eva Braun took cyanide. Afterwards, Lindloff, Hans Reisser, Peter Högl and Heinz Linge carried Hitler's corpse up the stairs to ground level and through the bunker's emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery. The lifeless bodies of Hitler and Braun were doused with petrol. After the first attempts to ignite the petrol did not work, Linge went back inside the bunker and then returned with a thick roll of papers. Martin Bormann lit the papers and threw the torch onto the bodies. As the two corpses caught fire, a small group, including Otto Günsche, Bormann, Högl, Linge, Lindloff, Reisser and Joseph Goebbels raised their arms in Nazi salute as they stood just inside the bunker doorway.
After the salute, the men went back inside the bunker complex. Approximately 30 minutes later, SS-Sturmbannführer Günsche ordered Lindloff to go and see how far the cremation had progressed and to bury the remains in the Chancellery garden; thus attempting to keep Hitler’s remains from being captured by the Soviet Red Army. Lindloff went out and checked on the situation. He reported back to Günsche that the corpses were "already charred and torn open". On and off during the afternoon the Soviets shelled the area in and around the Reich Chancellery. SS guards brought over additional cans of petrol to further burn the corpses. Just after 18:30 hours, Lindloff reported to Günsche that he had carried out his orders as to the disposal of the remains with the aid of SS-Obersturmführer Hans Reisser.By 30 April 1945, the Soviet Army was less than 500 metres from the bunker complex. In one of Hitlers last orders, he had given permission for the Berlin forces to attempt a breakout of the Soviet encirclement after his death. General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin Defence Area, and SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, the (Kommandant) Battle Commander for the centre government district, devised a plan to escape out from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or to the German Army to the North. Mohnke split up the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker soldiers and personnel into ten main groups. Lindloff left the Reich Chancellery as part of one of the groups attempting to break out. After midnight on 2 May 1945, Lindloff was part of a large group of German soldiers and civilians who crossed theWeidendammer Bridge while under heavy fire from Soviet tanks and guns. Lindloff and Högl were both killed during the crossing of the bridge. Lindloff was age 36.
3 October 1904 – 21 December 1998
Prof. Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck
(3 October 1904 – 21 December 1998)
Was a German Standartenführer (Colonel) and doctor who joined the SS in 1933. Because of a chance encounter with Adolf Hitler during the closing days of World War II, his memoirs proved historically valuable. His accounts of this period influenced the accounts of Joachim Fest and James P. O'Donnell regarding the end of Hitler's life; and were included in the film, Downfall.
In April 1945, towards the end of the war, Schenck volunteered to work in an emergency casualty station located in the large cellar of theReich Chancellery, near the Vorbunker and Führerbunker. Although he was not trained as a surgeon and lacked the experience, as well as the supplies and instruments necessary to operate on battle victims, he nonetheless assisted approximately 100 major surgeries.
During these surgeries, Schenck was aided by Dr. Werner Haase, who also served as one of Hitler's private physicians. Although Haase had much more surgical experience than Schenck, he was weakened by tuberculosis, and often had to lie down while trying in vain to give verbal advice to Schenck. Due to the combination of terrible conditions and his own inexperience, after the war, Schenck told author/historian James P. O'Donnell that he was unable to track down a single German soldier he had operated on who had survived (he kept records of the operations).
During the end time in Berlin, Schenck saw Hitler in person twice, for only a brief time: once when Hitler wanted to thank him for his emergency medical services, and once during the "reception" after Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun. Schenck was captured by the Soviet Army during the Berlin "break-out" of 1 May, 1945. He was released from Russian captivity in 1953 and returned home to (then) West Germany.
11 July 1910 – c. 2 May 1945
SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Ludwig Stumpfegger
(11 July 1910 – c. 2 May 1945)
In 1945, Stumpfegger started working directly for Hitler in the Führerbunker in Berlin under the direction of Dr. Theodor Morell. At Hitler's request, he provided a cyanide capsule for Blondi, the German Shepherd dog which was a gift from Martin Bormann, to see how quickly and effectively it worked. As the Red Army advanced towards the bunker complex, some sources report that he helped Magda Goebbels kill her children as they slept in the Vorbunker, before she and her husband Joseph Goebbels committed suicide.
On 30 April 1945, just before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. On 1 May, Stumpfegger left Führerbunker in a breakout group that included Martin Bormann and Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann. They were one of ten groups attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. At the Weidendammer Bridge a Tiger tank spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge but it was destroyed. Bormann and Dr. Stumpfegger were "knocked over" when the tank was hit. There followed two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00, Stumpfegger in his group from the Reich Chancellery managed to cross the Spree. Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann walked along railroad tracks to Lehrter station where Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back and later insisted he had seen the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger near the railroad switching yard with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. He did not check the bodies, so he did not know what killed them. Their remains were uncovered in 1972, and identified by dental records. Any lingering doubt was removed when Bormann's identity was confirmed by extracting DNA in 1999. Fragments of glass found in the two men's jawbones led to the conclusion that they committed suicide via cyanide capsules.
Martin Ludwig 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 gained Hitler's trust and derived immense power within the Third Reich by controlling access to the Führer and by regulating the orbits of those closest to him.
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 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.
The children of Martin and Gerda Bormann were:
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.
At 04:00 on 29 April 1945, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, Hans Krebs, and Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. Hitler dictated this document to his personal secretary, Traudl Junge. Bormann was Head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and was also the private secretary to Hitler. Shortly before signing the last will and testament, Hitler married Eva Braun in a civil ceremony
On 2 May, the Battle in Berlin ended when General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army. It is agreed that, by this day, Bormann had left the Führerbunker. It has been reported that he left with Ludwig Stumpfegger and Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement of the city.
Axmann's account of Bormann's death
As World War II came to a close, Bormann held out with Hitler in the Führerbunker in Berlin. On 30 April 1945, just before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. On 1 May, Bormann left the Führerbunker with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger and Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. At the Weidendammer Bridge, a Tiger tank spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge, but it was destroyed. Bormann and Stumpfegger were "knocked over" when the tank was hit. There followed two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00, Bormann in his group from the Reich Chancellery crossed the Spree. Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann, Stumpfegger and Axmann walked along railway tracks to Lehrter station, where Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back and later insisted he had seen the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger near the railway switching yard with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. He did not check the bodies, so he did not know what killed them.
Axmann, Werner Naumann, and their adjutants escaped Berlin. Axmann hid in the Bavarian Alps under the alias "Erich Siewert". He was arrested in December 1945 while organising an underground Nazi movement. Naumann found asylum in Argentina, where he became an editor of the neo-Nazi magazine Der Weg.
Lieutenant General Konstantin Telegin, of the Soviet 5th Assault Army, remembered his men bringing Bormann’s diary to him. "It was brought-in immediately after the fighting had ended. As far as I can remember, it was found on the road when they were cleaning up the battle area." Inspired by the diary and reports from prisoners, Telegin said, "Naturally, we sent a recon group to the bridge, who searched the site of the breakthrough attempt. All they found were a few civilians. Bormann was not found."Tried at Nuremberg in absentia
During the chaotic closing days of the war, there were contradictory reports as to Bormann's whereabouts. For example, Jakob Glas, Bormann's long-time chauffeur, insisted he saw Bormann in Munich weeks after 1 May 1945. The bodies were not found, and a global search followed including extensive efforts in South America. With no evidence sufficient to confirm Bormann's death, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg tried Bormann in absentia in October 1946 and sentenced him to death. His court-appointed defence lawyer used the unusual and unsuccessful defence that the court could not convict Bormann because he was already dead.
In 1965, a retired postal worker named Albert Krumnow stated that around 8 May 1945 the Soviets had ordered him and his colleagues to bury two bodies found near the railway bridge near Lehrter station. One was "a member of the Wehrmacht" and the other was "an SS doctor".
Krumnow’s colleague, Wagenpfohl is said to have found a paybook on the SS doctor’s body identifying him as Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger. He gave the paybook to his boss, postal chief Berndt, who turned it over to the Soviets. They in turn destroyed it. The Soviets allowed Berndt to notify Stumpfegger’s wife. He wrote and told her that her husband’s body was "…interred with the bodies of several other dead soldiers in the grounds of the Alpendorf in Berlin NW 40, Invalidenstrasse 63."
In mid-1965, Berlin police excavated the alleged burial site looking for Bormann's remains, but found nothing. Krumnow stated he could no longer remember exactly where he buried the bodies. Stern magazine editor Jochen Von Lang, whose investigation inspired the dig, later wrote, "even if bones had been discovered, it would have been exceedingly difficult to identify them as those of Martin Bormann." He went on to opine that the only way to identify Bormann would be to find "glass particles" from a cyanide capsule in the jaw and that "would border almost on the miraculous."Two decades of unconfirmed sightings
Unconfirmed sightings of Bormann were reported globally for 20 years, particularly in Europe, Paraguay and elsewhere in South America. Some rumours claimed that Bormann had plastic surgery while on the run. At a 1967 press conference, Simon Wiesenthal asserted there was strong evidence that Bormann was alive and well in South America. Writer Ladislas Farago's widely-known 1974 book Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Fourth Reich argued that Bormann had survived the war and lived in Argentina. Farago's evidence, which drew heavily on official governmental documents, was compelling enough to persuade Dr. Robert M. W. Kempner (a lawyer at the Nuremberg Trials) to briefly re-open an active investigation in 1972. However, Farago's claims were generally rejected by historians and critics. Allegations that Bormann and his organisation survived the war figure prominently in the work of David Emory.Allegations of being a Russian spy
Reinhard Gehlen states in his memoirs his conviction that Bormann was a Russian agent and that at the time of his 'disappearance' in Berlin he in reality went over to his Russian masters and was spirited away by them to Moscow. He bases his conclusion on a conversation he had with Admiral Canaris and on his conviction that there was an enemy agent at work inside the German supreme command. He deduced the latter from the fact that the Russians appeared to be able to obtain "rapid and detailed information on incidents and top-level decision-making on the German side". Of course, at the time he was writing up his memoirs (late 1960s to early 1970s), Gehlen was not aware of the British breaking of the Enigma codes. Gehlen goes on to say that he discovered that Bormann was engaged in a Funkspiel with Moscow with Hitler's express approval. He claims that in the 1950s, when he headed first the Gehlen Organization and later theBundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the West German Intelligence Service, he "was passed two separate reports from behind the Iron Curtain to the effect that Bormann had been a Soviet agent and had lived after the war in the Soviet Union under perfect cover as an adviser to the Moscow government. He has died in the meantime." (quotes from the 1971 ed.) After the collapse of the Soviet Union, based on KGB archival material from this period, it was claimed that the Russians may indeed have had a spy in the bunker, code named Sasha. However, Sasha was said to have been a Russian, not Bormann.Discovery of remains and controversy surrounding identification
The hunt for Bormann lasted 26 years without success. International investigators and journalists searched for Bormann from Paraguay to Moscow and from Norway to Egypt. Digs for his body in Paraguay in March 1964 and Berlin in July 1964 were unsuccessful. The German government offered a 100,000-Mark reward in November 1964, but no one claimed it. The final straw came in July 1965, when the search of Albert Krumnow’s Berlin location turned up nothing. The German government determined that Berlin was simply "too full of cemeteries and mass graves dating from the last days of the war."
On the political end, the hunt for Bormann became a recurring memory of the Nazi regime and also an embarrassment that would not go away. On 13 December 1971, the West German government officially called an end to the search for Bormann. This pronouncement was met with protest from Jewish human rights groups and Nazi-hunters like Simon Wiesenthal who insisted the search must continue until Bormann was found, alive or dead.
Almost a year later, on 7 December 1972, Axmann and Krumnow's accounts were bolstered when construction workers uncovered human remains near the Lehrter Bahnhof in West Berlin just 12 m (39 ft) from the spot where Krumnow claimed he had buried them. Dental records — reconstructed from memory in 1945 by Dr. Hugo Blaschke — identified the skeleton as Bormann's, and damage to the collarbone was consistent with injuries Bormann's sons reported he had sustained in a riding accident in 1939. The second skeleton was deemed to be Stumpfegger‘s, since it was of similar height to his last known proportions. Fragments of glass in the jawbones of both skeletons suggested that Bormann and Stumpfegger committed suicide by biting cyanide capsules to avoid capture. Soon after, in a press conference held by the West German government, Bormann was declared dead, a statement condemned by Britain's Daily Express as a whitewash perpetrated by the Brandt government. West German diplomatic officials were given official instruction that "if anyone is arrested on suspicion that he is Bormann we will be dealing with an innocent man".
The remains were conclusively identified as Bormann's in 1998 when German authorities ordered a genetic test on the skull. The test identified the skull as that of Bormann, using DNA from one of his relatives. Bormann's remains were cremated and the ashes scattered in the Baltic Sea by Bormann's son Martin Adolf Bormann, a Roman Catholic and retired priest.
Despite these DNA tests, there had and continues to be controversy regarding the authenticity of the remains. For example, Hugh Thomas' 1995 book Doppelgängers claimed there were forensic inconsistencies suggesting Bormann died later than 1945. When exhumed, Bormann’s skeleton was covered in flecks of red clay, whereas Berlin is a city based on yellow sand. This indicated to some that the body had been re-interred from somewhere with a clay-based soil, such as Paraguay, the Andes Mountains or even Russia (as the Gehlen theory surmised).
Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal refused to accept the government’s declaration of Bormann‘s death, persisting in the belief that Bormann escaped Berlin with Axmann and headed south to the safety of the Alps. There he was rumoured to have been seen in both Bavaria and Austria. Bormann’s aide Wilhelm Zander was captured in Passau, along the Austrian frontier, in December 1945. From the Alps, Wiesenthal believed, Bormann and others escaped to South America.
Others, like English scholar and intelligence officer Hugh Trevor-Roper, decried the evidence upon which the German government based its searches for Bormann: the testimony of one man. He and others argued that the testimony of Artur Axmann, the only man who said he saw Bormann dead was falsified to protect Bormann who was then on the run. Both men were unrepentant Nazis and shared the motivation to keep their cause alive. Axmann, they argued, probably escaped Berlin with Bormann. Russian author Lev Bezymenski wrote that Axmann’s statements had, "the apparent aim of convincing the world that the Reichsleiter had been killed." Bezymenski also wrote that Axmann’s statements, "give rise to a lot of doubt, especially when one considers that he changed his explanations at least three times in the postwar years." Some also believed it implausible that the Soviets would identify the body of Stumpfegger and ignore Bormann’s body, supposedly at Stumpfegger’s side. Further, it was said that Bormann was reinterred only to later be "discovered" by the German government.
19 June 1897 – 17 February 1993
General Hans Baur
(19 June 1897 – 17 February 1993)
Was German dictator Adolf Hitler's pilot during his political campaigns of the 1920s and 1930s. AppointedGruppenführer in the SS, Baur was later Hitler's personal pilot and leader of the "Reichsregierung" squadron
On 10 March 1943, under heavy security, Hitler flew in to Army Group South's headquarters at Zaporozh'ye, Ukraine. Seen here, Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein is greeting Hitler on the local airfield; on the right are Hans Baur and the Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall Wolfram von Richthofen
(photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann)
Hitler was the first politician to campaign by air travel, deciding that travel by plane was more efficient than travel by railway. Baur first piloted him during the 1932 General Election.
Hitler obtained his first private aeroplane, a Junkers Ju 52/3m with tail number DC-2600 (Werk Nr. 4021), in February 1933, on becomingGerman Chancellor. Powered by BMW 132 license-built Pratt and Whitney radial engines, it was named Immelmann I after World War I pilot Max Immelmann. The Fuehrermaschine had a small folding table in Hitler's favourite seat on the right, with a clock, altimeter and airspeed indicator on the bulkhead just in front.
Baur had just became an "air millionaire" of Luft Hansa, having flown his millionth kilometre for the airline. As a result of his combination of experience and capability to restart a plane engine in combat, which Hitler took as a sign of fate, Baur was personally selected by Hitler to be his official pilot in February 1933.Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers
Baur was appointed head of the Hitler's personal squadron, initially based at Oberwiesenfeld, Munich. As the Luftwaffe was not then established, and as Hitler wanted Baur to be able to command sufficient power and respect to assure his security, Hitler commissioned BaurStandartenführer (Colonel) in the Schutzstaffel (No. 171,865).
Upon his arrival in Berlin in 1933, Baur's first task was to expand Hitler's squadron and implement new security procedures. With the approval of the Luft Hansa Director Erhard Milch, an additional Ju 52/3m was designated to meet with Baur's security requirements, namedRichthofen. In 1935, 4021 was replaced by 4053, taking the latter's name Buddecke; while 4053 was designated Immelmann II with tail number D-2600.
In 1936, after the death of von Hindenburg, Hitler reorganised the government and created the Regierungsstaffel (Government squadron), making Baur the head. Headquartered at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, Baur was charged with providing flights and pilots for the Führer's entire cabinet and for his generals, with eight planes able to carry 17 passengers each at his disposal. D-2600 remained Adolf Hitler's primary aircraft.Adolf Hitler's personal Fw 200 Condor, bearing the insignia of the Fliegerstaffel des Führers on its nose
After Hitler became Führer, he increasingly relied on Baur for advice about air war policy and technical developments. He allowed Baur to fill his squadron with experienced Luft Hansa pilots, and train them in military procedure in preparation for the forthcoming war:
Although he tried to convert Baur to vegetarianism, Hitler also invited him to the Reich Chancelloryfor his favourite meal of pork and dumplings for his 40th birthday, and gave him a Mercedes Benz to replace his personal Ford. In September 1939, the squadron was renamed Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers. Hitler's personal squadron now had a special insignia that was painted on the nose of all planes: a black eagle head on a white background, surrounded by a narrow red ring.
In early 1939, Baur felt that the Führer would be much safer flying in the newly designed Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor. Originally configured as a 26-passenger Luft Hansa transport aircraft (Werk Nr. 3099), the plushed-up Condor was named "Immelmann III" registered as D-2600, and it served Hitler until it was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid on July 18, 1944.
During the last days of the war, Baur was with Hitler in his Führerbunker, staying with him until the end. To allow Hitler to escape from theBattle of Berlin, Baur devised a plan to have a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch take off from an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten, near the Brandenburg Gate.
Although Hitler refused to leave the Führerbunker, the strip was used by Hanna Reitsch to fly in Colonel-General Robert Ritter von Greim, appointed by Hitler as head of the Luftwaffe after Goering's dismissal. Reitsch flew von Greim out on the same road-strip two days later, and Hitler suggested to Baur that he evacuate himself and Martin Bormann the same way.
After Hitler's suicide, Baur found the improvised road-strip too pot-holed for use and overrun by the Soviet 3rd Shock Army. Baur, along with a few others including Bormann, tried to escape to the American/British lines. During his escape, after losing touch with Bormann, Baur was shot in the leg, and the wound was so serious that his leg was later amputated.
Captured by the Soviets in a hospital, Baur was of great interest to his captors, who believed he had flown Hitler to safety before the fall of Berlin. They also believed he had information concerning stolen art. They especially wanted information concerning the plundering of the Amber Room, (Bernsteinraum), in Petersburg. He endured ten years of imprisonment in solitary confinement in the USSR before being released in 1955 to the French where he was kept prisoner until 1957.
Baur returned to West Germany and in 1957 wrote his autobiographyIch flog mit Mächtigen, which liberally translates as "I flew with [the] mighty." The book was later lengthened and the title was changed to Zwischen Himmel u. Erde mit Mächtigen, which translates as "Between Heaven and Earth with [the] Mighty." The French translation is more softly titled J'étais pilote de Hitler: Le sort du monde était entre mes mains, which translates to "I was Hitler's pilot: The fate of the world was in my hands."
The book contains a collection of eye witness accounts of Hitler's daily activities and conversations and is unique because Hans Baur, as his private pilot and personal friend, was in Hitler's presence practically every day from 1933 to 1945. The book contains an account of the events surrounding the arrest of Ernst Roehm, by Hitler himself, on June 30th 1934 at Bad Wiessee in which Baur took part. The book also tells of Baur's dislike for Hermann Goering (whom Baur describes as a "thick headed glutton"). Hans Baur was one of the few people who were truly close to Hitler and was one of the people assigned by Hitler to set fire to his ashes. Baur was one the last persons to see Hitler alive in the Berlin bunker. The book has since been translated into English and is a rare insider look into Hitler's daily life and doings as leader of the German Reich.
Baur died in Herrsching, Bavaria, of old age ailments in 1993. For a time, his house in Herrsching served as a place of pilgrimage for many veterans of the war. He is interred in the family plot in the Westfriedhof in Munich
18 February 1913 – 24 October 1996
(18 February 1913 – 24 October 1996)
n 1932, he was called to be a Reich Leader (Reichsleiter) of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) to carry out a reorganization of Nazi youth cells and in 1933, became Chief of the Social Office of the Reich Youth Leadership. Axmann gained a place for the Hitler Youth in the direction of state vocational training and succeeded in raising the status of Hitler Youth agricultural work. He was on active service on the western front until May 1940. In August of the same year he succeeded Baldur von Schirach as Reich Youth Leader (Reichsjugendführer) of the Nazi Party. In 1941, he was severely wounded on the eastern front, losing an arm.
During the last weeks of the war, Axmann commanded units of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend), which had been incorporated into the Home Guard (Volkssturm). His units consisted mostly of children and adolescents. They primarily fought in the Battle of Seelow Heights (Seelower Höhen), which was a part of the larger Battle of Berlin (Endkampf um Berlin). Many of the young people fighting for Germany under Axmann died having received neither military training nor equipment.
On 4 January 1944, Axmann was awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich. He and one other recipient, K. Hierl, were the only holders of the award to survive the war and its consequences. All other recipients were either awarded it posthumously, or were killed during the war or its aftermath.
During 1945, Axmann was continually pressured into letting young women be conscripted into combat roles for the last defense of Germany. Although Axmann had permitted young boys to fight in the final days, he refused to allow girls to fight. He stated, "Women bring life into the world, they do not take it."
During Hitler's last days, Axmann was among those present in the Führerbunker. On 30 April 1945, just a few hours before committing suicide, Hitler signed the order to allow a breakout. On 1 May, Axmann left the Führerbunker with SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger and Martin Bormann as part of a group attempting to break out of the Soviet encirclement. Their group managed to cross the River Spree at theWeidendammer Bridge.
Leaving the rest of their group, Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann walked along railroad tracks to Lehrter station. Bormann and Stumpfegger followed the railway tracks towards Stettiner Station. Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions. When he encountered a Red Army patrol, Axmann doubled back and later insisted he had seen the bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger near the railroad switching yard (Stettiner Bahnhof) with moonlight clearly illuminating their faces. He did not check the bodies, so he did not know how they died. He avoided capture by Soviet troops and disappeared. Axmann, presumed dead, lived under the alias of "Erich Siewert" for several months.
Axmann was arrested in December 1945 when a Nazi underground movement which he had been organizing was uncovered. A Nurembergde-Nazification court sentenced him in May 1949 to a prison sentence of three years and three months as a 'major offender'.
After his release, Axmann worked as a sales representative in Gelsenkirchen and Berlin. On 19 August 1958 a West Berlin de-Nazification court fined the former Hitler Youth leader 35,000 marks (approximately 3,000 pounds, or $8,334.00 USD), about half the value of his property in Berlin. The court found him guilty of indoctrinating German youth with National Socialism right until the end of the Third Reich, but concluded that he had been a Nazi from inner conviction rather than base motives. During his trial, Axmann told the court that he had heard the shot by which Hitler committed suicide. He also stated that he had attempted to escape from central Berlin along with Martin Bormann, who he said had died during the attempt.
He died in Berlin in 1996.
Axmann in Nuremberg, 16 October 1947
By 22 April 1945, the Soviets were attacking Berlin and the Joseph and Magda Goebbels brought their children to the Führerbunker. Schwägermann came with them. It was in this protected bunker deep below Berlin that Adolf Hitler and a few loyal personnel were gathered to direct the city's final defence.
On 1 May 1945, during the final days of the Battle for Berlin, Schwägermann assisted with burning the bodies after the suicides of Goebbels and his wife. His last rank was SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain).
Schwägermann survived World War II. He successfully escaped to West Germany where, until 1947, he was in American captivity. His life in postwar Germany is rarely discussed.
Armin Dieter Lehmann
(23 May 1928 – 10 October 2008),
Was a Hitler Youth courier in the Führerbunker towards the end of Adolf Hitler's life, leaving shortly after Hitler committed suicide. He spent his life post-war in travel, tourism, and writing and as a peace activist.
Hitler seized power before I was five years old. It was not my choice to grow up under the form of government in which absolute power is held by a dictator. At the age of ten, it was mandatory that I join the Deutsche Jungvolk (DJV), the junior branch of theHitler Jugend or Hitler Youth. In January, 1945, I was drafted into the Volkssturm, the home defense. I was decorated (with theIron Cross) for pulling battle-injured comrades out of the line of fire, after I had been seriously wounded myself. I was selected by Reichsjugendfuehrer Artur Axmann to be a member of a Hitler Jugend Helden (Hitler Youth Heroes) delegation to visit theFuehrer in Berlin on his birthday. I met Adolf Hitler in the Reich Chancellery garden (also known as the Hinterhof or backyard) outside his bunker on his last birthday, April 20, 1945. I became one of his last couriers as a member of Axmann’s staff. During my duty as a courier inside and outside the bunker, I witnessed the total collapse of the Third Reich. I was able to observe the final days of Hitler, Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, and Joseph Goebbels and his family. I was in the adjacent Party Chancellerywhen Hitler committed suicide. After Hitler's death, I participated in the bloody breakout from the bunker. Two months later, I succeeded in reaching the American Occupation Zone.
Lehmann died in Coos Bay, Oregon, on 10 October 2008. His wife of 29 years, Kim, and daughter Angie were at his bedside.
19 August 1897 – 2 May 1945
(19 August 1897 – 2 May 1945)
He joined the SS and became a member of Adolf Hitler's bodyguard in 1933 and attained the rank of SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) in 1934. From April 1935 he became the deputy to Johann Rattenhuber in the Reichssicherheitsdienst (Reich Security Service-RSD) and was appointed Chief of Department 1 (responsible for the personal protection of Hitler). In this capacity he was posted to the Obersalzberg, Munichand Berlin. From November 1944 forward, he was stationed in Berlin and held the title of Criminal Director. Beginning in January 1945, Högl spent time in the Führerbunker located below the Reich Chancellery garden in central Berlin. In April 1945, it became a de facto Führer Headquarters during the Battle of Berlin, and ultimately, the last one of Hitler's headquarters.
On 28 April 1945, it was discovered that Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate a backdoor surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden. Högl was sent to find Himmler's liaison man in Berlin, SS Gruppenführer (Lieutenant General) Hermann Fegelein who had left the bunker complex. Högl caught Fegelein at his apartment apparently preparing to flee Berlin with his Hungarian mistress to Swedenor Switzerland. Fegelein had cash and forged passports and was wearing civilian clothes. Fegelein, by that time was Eva Braun's brother-in-law. A military tribunal was ordered by Hitler to court-martial Fegelein. Waffen-SS General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal which, in addition to General Johann Rattenhuber, included Generals Hans Krebs and Wilhelm Burgdorf. Hitler thereafter condemned Fegelein to death.
After Hitler's death, Högl, Ewald Lindloff, Hans Reisser, and Heinz Linge carried his corpse up the stairs to ground level and through the bunker's emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery. There, Högl witnessed the cremation of Hitler and Eva Braun. On the following night of 1 May, Högl joined the break-out from the Soviet Red Army encirclement. After midnight on 2 May 1945, he was wounded in the head while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge and died of his injuries. Högl was age 47.
(born 29 July 1917 in Alt Schalkowitz near Oppeln, Upper Silesia) is a former Oberscharführer (senior squad leader) in the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during World War II. He served as a courier, bodyguard and telephone operator for German leader Adolf Hitler from 1940 to 1945. As of 2011, aged 94, he is the last living survivor of the occupants of the Führerbunker in the final days of the war in Europe.
2 November 1891 – 17 November 1955
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling
(2 November 1891 – 17 November 1955)
Was an officer in the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) before and during World War II. Weidling was the last commander of the Berlin Defence Area during the Battle of Berlin, and led the defence of the city against Soviet forces, finally surrendering just before the end of World War II in Europe.
During his military career, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Late in the morning of April 30, with the Soviets less than 500 metres from the bunker, Hitler had a meeting with Weidling, who informed him that the Berlin garrison would probably run out of ammunition that night. Weidling asked Hitler for permission to break out, a request he had made unsuccessfully before. Hitler did not answer at first, and Weidling went back to his headquarters in the Bendlerblock, where at about 13:00, he got Hitler's permission to try a breakout that night.
Hitler and Braun committed suicide, Braun by taking cyanide and Hitler by shooting himself. Some witnesses later reported hearing a loud gunshot at around 15:30. Per instructions, their bodies were burned.
Afterwards, when Weidling reached the Führerbunker, he was met by Goebbels, Bormann, and Krebs. They took him to Hitler's room, where the couple had committed suicide. They told him that their bodies had been burned and buried in a shell crater in the Reich Chancellerygarden above. Weidling was forced to swear that he would not repeat this news to anybody. The only person in the outside world who was to be informed was Joseph Stalin. An attempt would be made that night to arrange an armistice, and General Krebs would inform the Soviet commander so that he could inform the Kremlin.
A rather dazed Weidling rang Colonel Hans Refior, his civil Chief of Staff, in the Bendlerblock headquarters soon afterward. Weidling said that he could not tell him what had happened, but he needed various members of his staff to join him immediately, including Colonel Theodor von Dufving, his military Chief-of-Staff.
In accordance with Hitler's last will and testament, Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, became the new "Head of Government" and Chancellor of Germany (Reichskanzler). On 1 May at 03:15, Reichskanzler Goebbels and Bormann, the head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and private secretary to Hitler, sent a radio message to Admiral Karl Dönitz informing him of Hitler's death. Per Hitler's last wishes, Dönitz was appointed as the new "President of Germany" (Reichspräsident).
On 1 May, within hours of Hitler's suicide, Reichskanzler Joseph Goebbels sent German General Hans Krebs and Weidling's Chief-of-Staff,von Dufving, under a white flag to talk with Soviet General Vasily Chuikov, who was the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army in central Berlin. Krebs arrived shortly before 04:00, taking Chuikov by surprise. Krebs, a former military attaché in Moscow, spoke Russian fluently and informed Chuikov that Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife, had killed themselves in the Führerbunker. Chuikov, who was not aware that there was a bunker complex under the Reich Chancellery or that Hitler was married, calmly said that he already knew. Chuikov was not, however, prepared to negotiate with Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender. Krebs was not authorized by Goebbels to agree to an unconditional surrender.
The meeting between Krebs and Chuikov ended with no agreement. According to Hitler's personal secretary Traudl Junge, Krebs returned to the bunker looking "worn out, exhausted". The surrender of Berlin was thus delayed until Goebbels committed suicide.
In the late afternoon of 1 May, the Goebbels children were poisoned by their parents. At about 20:30, Goebbels ordered an SS guard to accompany him and his wife to the garden of the Reich Chancellery. He ordered the SS guard to shoot them both and to burn their bodies.
It was then left up to Weidling to negotiate with the Soviets.Surrender to Chuikov
Chuikov: "You are the commander of the Berlin garrison?"
Weidling: "Yes, I am the commander of the LVI Tank Corps."
Chuikov: "Where is Krebs?"
Weidling: "I saw him yesterday in the Reich Chancellery. I thought he would commit suicide. At first he (Krebs) criticized me because unofficial capitulation started yesterday. The order regarding capitulation has been issued today."
Soviet General Vasily Sokolovsky entered with an immediate question. The conversation continued:
The question surprised Weidling, but he kept his voice calm as he responded.
Weidling: "So far as I know, Goebbels and his family were to commit suicide. The Führer took poison on April 30. His wife also poisoned herself."
Chuikov: "Did you hear that or see that?"
Weidling: "I was in the Reich Chancellery on the evening of April 30. Krebs, Bormann, and Goebbels told me about it."
Chuikov: "So the war is over?"
Weidling: "I think that every unnecessary death is a crime . . . madness."
Sokolovsky cut in again.
Sokolovsky: "Issue an order regarding complete surrender, so that there will be no resistance in individual sectors. Better late than never."
Weidling: "We have neither ammunition nor heavy weapons, therefore, resistance cannot last long. All the Germans have become confused, and they will not believe me that the Führer is dead."
Chuikov: "Write an order regarding complete capitulation. Then your conscience will be clear."
"On April 30, 1945, the Führer committed suicide, and thus abandoned those who had sworn loyalty to him. According to the Führer's order, you German soldiers would have had to go on fighting for Berlin despite the fact that our ammunition has run out and despite the general situation which makes our further resistance meaningless. I order the immediate cessation of resistance. WEIDLING, General of Artillery, former District Commandant in the defence of Berlin"
Chuikov and Sokolovsky reviewed what Weidling had written and the conversation continued.
Chuikov: "There is no need to say 'former'. You are still commandant."
Weidling: "Jawohl! How shall it be headed, as an appeal or an order?"
Chuikov: "An order."
The meeting between Weidling and Chuikov ended at 8:23 am on 2 May 1945. Later that same day, loudspeakers announced Weidling's surrender order and copies of it were distributed to the remaining defenders. With the exception of scattered areas of resistance and of desperate efforts to break out, the Battle of Berlin was over.
The Soviet forces took Weidling into custody as a prisoner of war and flew him to the Soviet Union. He never returned to Germany alive.Aftermath
On 27 February 1952, a Soviet military tribunal in Moscow sentenced Weidling to 25 years of imprisonment for not surrendering Berlin sooner. Weidling died on 17 November 1955, apparently in the custody of the KGB in Vladimir. KGB records listed the cause of death as "arterial and cardiac sclerosis along with circulatory collapse."
On 18 March 1945, Colonel Refior became the Chief of Staff for Lieutenant General (Generalleutnant) Helmuth Reymann during the Battle for Berlin. Reymann was named the commander of the Berlin Defense Area on 6 March. From the beginning, it was clear to Refior that Reymann's predecessor, General Bruno Ritter von Hauenschild, had left them nothing.
By early April, Refior and Reymann confirmed to themselves that Berlin had no chance of holding out with the forces at their disposal. They recommended to Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, that civilians be allowed to leave. Refior and Reyman indicated that this was especially important for women and children. Goebbels' feeble response made it clear to Refior and Reymann that he had never considered nor had he any idea of the logistics required for such a mass evacuation.
In an attempt to determine how many soldiers and how many weapons could be counted on, Refior and Reymann attempted to make an accounting for what was available to them in the "Berlin Defense Area." They soon discovered that the title "Berlin Defense Area" carried no significance. "Berlin Defense Area" was just another phrase, like "Fortress" (Festung), coined by German dictator Adolf Hitler.
On 22 April, Reymann was replaced by General Helmuth Weidling as the commander of the Berlin Defense Area. Weidling kept Refior and made him his "civil" Chief-of-Staff.
Early on the morning of 26 April, Refior was awoken from a brief sleep in Weidling's headquarters, the Bendlerblock. What woke him was a rapid sequence of ranging shells (what the Soviets called "framing"). Refior noted that these were "old frontline hares." He knew from experience that these were the "greeting" before a salvo of katyusha rockets.
On 2 May 1945, along with Weidling, Theodor von Dufving, Weidling's "military" Chief-of-Staff, and other members of Weidling's staff, Refior surrendered to the Soviets.
(1907 - 2001
Theodor von Dufving (1907 - 2001)
Was a German officer during World War II.
Dufving completed Senior Staff Officers' training in the War Academy at 1944, and was then assigned as the 76th Panzer Artillery Regiment's chief of staff.
During the Battle for Berlin, Colonel von Dufving was the "military" Chief-of-Staff for General Helmuth Weidling. Von Dufving had also been Weidling's Chief-of-Staff when Weidling commanded the LVI Tank Corps (LVI Panzer Korps).
On 1 May 1945, within hours of German dictator Adolf Hitler's suicide on 30 April), German Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Joseph Goebbels sent General Hans Krebs and von Dufving, under a white flag, to deliver a letter he had written to Soviet General Vasily Chuikov. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Krebs, having been a fluent Russian speaker, had been brushing up in front of his shaving mirror. Von Dufving took a Latvian officer as his Russian interpreter.
The letter Goebbels gave Krebs to deliver to Chuikov contained surrender terms acceptable to Goebbels. Chuikov was not prepared to accept the terms in Goebbels' letter or to negotiate with Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender. Krebs was not authorized by Goebbels to agree to an unconditional surrender. The meeting ended with no agreement. Both Goebbels and Krebs committed suicide shortly afterwards.
Early the following day, Von Dufving was sent to arrange for General Weidling to meet with General Chuikov. Weidling left for his meeting with Chuikov about one hour before von Dufving and his party followed him.
At 5:55 a.m., on 2 May 1945, von Dufving, Hans Refior, Siegfried Knappe, and a German Major led a column of roughly one hundred German soldiers to the end of Bendler Street (Bendlerstrasse). Knappe was also a member of Weidling's staff. The Soviets were waiting for them on the other side of the Landwehr Canal (Landwehrkanal).
The ranking Soviet officer crossed to the German side of the bridge. Von Dufving saluted and reported to him. The Soviet officer spoke to von Dufving for a moment and then returned to the other side of the canal. About two dozen Soviet soldiers with submachine guns waited there. They had several American-made jeeps. The column of Germans crossed the bridge, walking upright and in single file. The Soviet soldiers all had big grins on their faces. One Soviet soldier said "Hitler kaputt" to the German prisoners and the Soviet soldiers all laughed.
The German prisoners were then transported to Soviet General Chuikov's headquarters near Tempelhof Airport. Here they met up with General Weidling. Once inside Chuikov's headquarters, Weidling had Knappe type a report directing all German forces still in Berlin to halt any form of resistance.Post-war
In February 1949, as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, von Dufving provided evidentiary statements concerning Swedish humanitarianRaoul Wallenberg. While en route to Vorkuta, in the transit camp in Kirov, von Dufving encountered a prisoner with his own special guard and dressed in civilian clothes. The prisoner stated that he was a Swedish diplomat and that he was there "through a great error."
According to von Dufving, the man he saw was well-dressed and travelled with a special guard or companion. When von Dufving asked the man if he had been with the Swedish Embassy in Berlin, he answered, "No – in Eastern Europe." According to von Dufving, the man spoke in almost perfect German accent. Although he was reading a newspaper in Russian, he told von Dufving that he didn’t really know Russian that well.
(15 January 1917 – 1 December 2008)
As a young artillery lieutenant (Leutnant der Artillerie) in Army Group Kleist, Siegfried Knappe participated in the Invasion of France. Knappe was decorated for actions that took place on the night of 14 June 1940. The actions took place in the Paris area, south of Tremblay-en-France, at the Ourcq canal. A group of French sailors had apparently not been informed of the decision to declare Paris an open city. As a result, they were defending a bridge with machine guns from a house across the canal. After German infantry failed to clear the area withmortar fire, artillery support was requested. Though Knappe was the Battalion Adjutant and it was not his duty to man the gun, he moved up to the front with the infantry. Because the area was wooded, the 105 mm gun had to be brought up and fired almost at point blank range directly into the house. The German infantry was hidden behind a building by the bridge, where the gun was maneuvered, but in order to fire all seven crew members would be exposed to machine gun fire. On the mark, the gun was moved, aimed, and fired. Three of the seven crew members were wounded but the machine gun nest was destroyed. This action opened the road for the infantry.
Knappe was wounded by a bullet entering the back of his hand and exiting through his wrist. On 19 June 1940, he was evacuated. For his bravery, Knappe received the Iron Cross 2nd Class. He also received the Black Wound Badge for his wounds.
Knappe went on to fight on the Eastern Front and the Italian Campaign. While participating in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, he received the Iron Cross 1st class for his bravery, in particular for leading artillery attacks from forward positions. Knappe was also wounded an additional two times in the course of his career. After attending General Staff College he rose to the rank of Major and ended the war fighting in Berlin on General Helmuth Weidling's staff.Post-war
After surviving almost five years imprisonment in the Gulags of Vorkuta, Knappe was released to West Germany in 1949. Determined to take his family as far from Communism as possible, Knappe emigrated to the United States with his family and settled in Ohio. There he wrote hismemoirs which were published under the title Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949. Soldat is German for "soldier".
He died on 1 December 2008 at the age of 91
26 September 1910 - 1976
(26 September 1910 - 1976)
Kunz was born in Ettlingen, Germany. He first studied law, then dentistry. He wrote his doctoral thesis on "studies of dental caries among school children as related to their feeding in infancy." In 1936 he opened a dental practice in Lucka, south of Leipzig. He also joined the SS, unit Sturm 10/48.SS career
In 1939, Kunz was a member of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. In 1941 he was seriously injured and assigned to the Waffen-SS medical office in Berlin. In April 1945 he was assigned to the Reich Chancellery.Killing the Goebbels children
Unlike many other leading Nazis by April 1945, Joseph Goebbels showed his strong support for Hitler by moving himself and his family into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens in central Berlin. Magda Goebbels was Kunz's first patient in the Chancellery. She had developed an abscess under a bridge in her lower jaw. In late April 1945, Magda took Kunz aside to ask his help in killing her children. Kunz at first refused, telling Magda that he had lost his two young daughters in an American air raid on Lucka. But Magda insisted that her request to kill her children was a direct order from Hitler. On 1 May 1945, according to Kunz, he injected the Goebbels children with morphine to render them unconscious before cyanide capsules were administered by someone else.Later life
The Russians took Kunz prisoner and he spent ten years in Russian captivity, then returned to Münster. In 1955, a former SS sergeant and prisoner of war, Harri Mengershausen, implicated Kunz in the children's deaths.
This contradicts the written and verbal testimony of Oberscharführer Rochus Misch, a member of Hitler's Führerbegleitkommando bodyguard and head of communications in the Führerbunker. Misch states that it was actually Hitler's surgeon SS Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger who mixed a sweetened narcotic drink to put the Goebbels children into a deep sleep before Magda Goebbels placed cyanide capsules into their mouths.
The German courts refused to convict Kunz, and he remained in dental practice, highly regarded until his death. He died in Freudenstadt in 1976, and is buried in the Städtischer Friedhof (municipal cemetery) division R, double grave 10/11.
From January 1943 until the end of World War II, Flegel served in that capacity for Hitler's entourage and during the Battle of Berlin. She is believed to have been in Hitler's bunker when he committed suicide. She had originally worked alongside one of Hitler's physicians, Dr. Werner Haase, as a nurse at Humboldt University Hospital and was transferred by the Red Cross to the Reich Chancellory as the war ended. During her time in the Führerbunker she befriended Magda Goebbels and sometimes acted as a nanny to the Goebbels children until their deaths.
Upon the Soviet capture of Berlin, Soviet troops advised her to remain in the bunker complex where it was safer. Later interrogated by the Americans, Flegel then lived a life of anonymity until 1977 when documents including her interrogation were declassified. The media later tracked her down to her residence, a nursing home in Germany.
Flegel died in Mölln in 2006.
(2 August 1900 – 30 November 1950
(2 August 1900 – 30 November 1950)
Haase was born in Köthen, in Saxony-Anhalt. He obtained his Doctor's degree in 1924 and then became a surgeon. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933. From 1934, forward, he served on the staff of the surgery clinic of Berlin University.
In 1935 he began serving as Hitler's deputy personal physician. On 1 April 1941, Haase joined the SS. He was promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer on 16 June 1943. Hitler appears to have had a high opinion of him. The book Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, based on documents in the Soviet archives, reproduces a telegram from Hitler sent to Haase on his birthday in 1943, saying: "Accept my heartfelt congratulations on your birthday."
In the last days of the fighting in Berlin in late April 1945, Haase, with Ernst Günther Schenck, was working to save the lives of the many wounded German soldiers and civilians in an emergency casualty station located in the large cellar of the Reich Chancellery. The cellar led a further one-and-a-half meters down to an air-raid shelter known as the Vorbunker. The Vorbunker was connected by a stairway which led down to the Führerbunker. By this time, the Führerbunker had become a de facto Führer Headquarters, and ultimately, the last one of Hitler's headquarters.
On 29 April, Hitler expressed doubts about the cyanide capsules he had received through Himmler's SS. To verify the capsules' potency, Haase was summoned to the Führerbunker to test one on Hitler's dog Blondi. A cyanide capsule was crushed in the mouth of the dog, which died as a result. Haase remained in the Führerbunker until Hitler's suicide the following afternoon. Haase then returned to his work at the emergency casualty station, where he remained until taken prisoner by the Soviet Red Army on 2 May.
On 6 May, Haase was one of those taken by the Soviet authorities to identify the bodies of the former Reich Propaganda Minister and (for one day) Reich Chancellor, Joseph Goebbels, his wife Magda Goebbels and their six children. Haase identified Goebbels' body, despite it being partly burned, by the metal brace which Goebbels wore on his deformed right leg.
Haase was made a Soviet prisoner of war. In June 1945 he was charged with being "a personal doctor of the former Reichschancellor of Germany, Hitler, and also treated other leaders of Hitler's government and of the Nazi Party and members of Hitler's SS guard". The sentence is not recorded. Haase, who suffered from tuberculosis, died in captivity in 1950. The place of death is recorded as "Butyr prison hospital". Possibly this is a reference to the Butyrka prison in Moscow.
Fritz Tornow was a Feldwebel in the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) who served as Adolf Hitler's personal dog assistant and veterinarian. He was also one of the last personnel to occupy the Führerbunker when it was captured by Soviet troops.
During the last days of World War II, Tornow was one of the few remaining German personnel in the Führerbunker. During the course of 29 April 1945, Hitler learned of the death of his ally Benito Mussolini who had been executed by Italian partisans. This along with the fact the Soviet Army was closing in on his location, led Hitler to strengthen his resolve not to allow himself or his wife to be captured. That afternoon, Hitler expressed doubts about the cyanide capsules he had received through Heinrich Himmler's SS. To verify the capsules' potency, Hitler ordered Dr. Werner Haase to test them on his dog Blondi. Tornow had to force the dog to take one. He became visibly upset doing this, more so when the dog died as a result.
According to a report commissioned by Joseph Stalin and based on eye witness accounts, Tornow was further mortified when he was ordered to shoot Blondi's puppies. On 30 April, Tornow took each of the four puppies and shot them in the garden of the Reich Chancellery, outside the underground bunker complex, after Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide together. He also killed Eva Braun's two dogs, Frau Gerda Christian's dogs and his own dachshund.
On 2 May 1945 the Soviet Army took control of the bunker complex. Tornow was among only four living occupants; the others were Dr. Werner Haase, Erna Flegel, and Johannes Hentschel. They all surrendered to the Soviet troops.
Born in Berlin to Danish parents, Hentschel was hired on 4 July 1934. During the last days of the Third Reich, he was responsible for the machine room in the Führerbunker and he stayed in the bunker after almost everyone else had either committed suicide or left, as the field hospital in the Chancellery above needed power and water. He surrendered to the Red Army as they entered the bunker and was released four years later, on 4 April 1949. Hentschel died in 1982 in Achern, West Germany.
Oliver Stritzel was cast as Hentschel in Downfall (Der Untergang). However, in the theatrical release most of his scenes were cut and he only briefly appears restoring power to a failing generator, as well as in the epilogue which explains what happened to all the characters. In the extended version of the film, his performance is included. In his scenes, Hentschel tells Otto Günsche that he is staying in order to maintain the generators. Later, he goes to the surface and looks at the burnt remains of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels. Returning to the bunker, he finds a group of female Soviet soldiers who ask where Hitler and Braun are, then ask to be taken to Eva's wardrobe. He asks them not to open the door to the Goebbels' room, which they do anyway and find the bodies of the Goebbels children.
18 September 1903 – 1 May 1945)
(18 September 1903 – 1 May 1945)
He was born in St Peter. In 1922 he joined the German Navy. On 1 June 1934, he was promoted to Kapitänleutnant. Then on 1 November 1937, he was promoted to the rank of Korvettenkapitän. When Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, Hitler's liaison officer to the Navy, was transferred to active service on 19 June 1938, Albrecht took over that position. However, on 30 June 1939, the Commander of the Navy Grossadmiral Erich Raeder wanted him transferred to Tokyo as a military attaché or kicked out of the Navy completely when it was found out that Albrecht had married a woman "with a past". Hitler was against it. So on 1 July 1939, Hitler appointed Albrecht a NSKK-Oberführer and made him one of his adjutants. Hitler had an argument with Raeder over it and this was something Raeder never forgot. Hitler went on to meet Albrecht's wife and liked her. Under Reichsleiter Philipp Bouhler, Albrecht remained on Hitler's staff and worked in the Reich Chancellery. Albrecht was last seen defending Hitler's Reich Chancellery with a machine gun. He is believed to have committed suicide on 1 May 1945, aged 41.
8 June 1899 – 24 April 1945
(8 June 1899 – 24 April 1945)
Grawitz greeting members of the National Leader's School (Reichsführerschule} of the German Red Cross, February 20, 1939
As Reichsarzt SS and Polizei (Reichsphysician SS and Police), Grawitz advised Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on the use of gas chambers. Grawitz was also head of the German Red Cross. His wife, Ilse, was the daughter of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Siegfried Taubert.
Towards the end of World War II in Europe, Grawitz was a physician in Adolf Hitler's Führerbunker. When he heard that other officials were leaving Berlin in order to escape from advancing Soviet armies, Grawitz petitioned Hitler to allow him to leave; his request was refused.As the Soviets approached, a grenade exploded in Grawitz's house, killing him, his wife and his children. It is assumed that it was suicide in an act that also killed his family. The event was depicted in the 2004 historical film Der Untergang (Downfall), in which he was portrayed by Christian Hoening.
(29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945)
Was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism. He played a hand in the Kristallnacht attack on theGerman Jews, which many historians consider to be the beginning of the Final Solution, leading to the Holocaust.
Goebbels earned a Ph.D. from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama; he then went on to work as a journalist and later a bank clerk and caller on the stock exchange. He also wrote novels and plays, but they were rejected by publishers. Goebbels came into contact with the Nazi Party in 1923 during the Frenchoccupation of the Ruhr and became a member in 1924. He was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of Berlin. In this position, he put his propaganda skills to full use, combating the local socialist and communist parties with the help of Nazi papers and the paramilitary Stormtroopers, aka, Brownshirts, SA. By 1928, he had risen in the party ranks to become one of its most prominent members.
Goebbels rose to power in 1933 along with Hitler and the Nazi Party and he was appointed Propaganda Minister. One of his first acts was the burning of books rejected by the Nazis. He exerted totalitarian control over the media, arts and information in Germany.
From the beginning of his tenure, Goebbels organized attacks on German Jews, commencing with the one-day boycott of Jewish businessmen, doctors, and lawyers on April 1, 1933.His attacks on the Jewish population culminated in the Kristallnacht assault of 1938, an open and unrestrained pogrom unleashed by the Nazis all across Germany, in which scores ofsynagogues were burned and hundreds of Jews were assaulted and murdered. Further, he produced a series of anti-Semitic films (most notably Jud Süß). Goebbels used modernpropaganda techniques to psychologically prepare the German people for aggressive warfare.
During World War II, Goebbels increased his power and influence through shifting alliances with other Nazi leaders. By late 1943, the tide of the war was turning against the Axis powers, but this only spurred Goebbels to intensify the propaganda by urging the Germans to accept the idea of total war and mobilization. Goebbels remained with Hitler in Berlin to the end; just hours after Hitler's suicide, Goebbels and his wife Magda killed their six young children and then committed suicide.
Ex-secretary of Hitler henchman Joseph Goebbels breaks silence after 66 yrs.
London, Aug 30 (ANI): She refused interviews ever since the World War II ended and remained silent for 66 years, but now the former secretary of Adolf Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels has finally revealed the secrets of the man who made Germans hate the Jews.
Since the end of World War II, Brunhilde Pomsel, now 100, has refused all requests for interviews and offers to publish her memoirs.
But after five months of negotiations she has given a single interview to German newspaper Bild, in which she describes her four years as the chief secretary of the man closest to Hitler.
She took down every word that Goebbels uttered, both his private correspondence and his official orders, including those ordering round-ups of Jews in Berlin to please Hitler that the capital was becoming 'Jew-free'.
Frau Pomsel was employed by Goebbels from 1942 until the end of the war in May 1945. But while his propaganda presented himself to the German people as a jovial fellow Nazi, she remembers him as a cold and distant monster.
"You couldn't get close to him. He never once asked me a personal question. Right up until the end I don't think he knew my name," the Daily Mail quoted Frau Pomsel as saying.
Frau Pomsel recalls how Goebbels ordered her and three junior secretaries on February 18, 1943, into the Sportspalast Stadium in Berlin. It was shortly after the defeat of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad, the turning point of the war from which there was no way back.
On this day Goebbels delivered his infamous 'Total War' speech to the German public, exhorting them to heights of frenzied sacrifice as he warned of a wave of vengeful, barbaric Russians bearing down on the Fatherland.
She recalled: "This was a service order, we had to attend.agda Goebbels sat directly behind me as he raged.
"The photos show the crowd going wild as he asked them if they wanted total war and springing to their feet to give the Hitler salute. I wasn't as jubiliant as them. I knew what was coming," she said.
It was only after the war that she learned Goebbels and his wife killed their six young children by breaking cyanide vials in their mouths.
Goebbels then shot his wife before shooting himself. Aides poured petrol on the corpses but the remains were only partially burned and found by the Red Army.
"He got away lightly with suicide. He knew he would be condemned to death by the Allies. His suicide was cowardly, but he was also smart because he knew what was coming if he didn't take that way out," she stated.
"I will never forgive Goebbels for what he brought into this world. And the fact that he could murder his innocent children in this way.
"I never believed also that I would have a happy life after working for him. But I found a way somehow," Pomsel added. (ANI)
11 November 1901 – 1 May 1945
Johanna Maria Magdalena "Magda" Goebbels
(11 November 1901 – 1 May 1945)
In late April 1945, the Soviet Red Army entered Berlin, and the Goebbels family moved into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lowerFührerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens. One of the rooms they occupied had been recently vacated by Hitler's personal physician Theodor Morell. The only bathroom with a bath was Adolf Hitler's own, and he gladly made it available to Magda and her children. Meanwhile, reports of Soviet troops looting and raping as they advanced were circulating in Berlin.
Joseph Goebbels' last will and testament, dictated to Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, stated that Magda and their children supported him in his refusal to leave Berlin and his resolution to die in the bunker. He later qualified this by stating that the children would support the decision [to commit suicide] if they were old enough to speak for themselves.
Hitler and his bride Eva Braun committed suicide on the afternoon of 30 April. The following day, on 1 May 1945, Magda and Joseph Goebbels drugged their six children with morphine and killed them by breaking cyanide capsules in their mouths. Accounts differ over how involved Magda Goebbels was in the killing of her children. Some accounts claimed that the SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger crushed the cyanide capsules into the children's mouths, but as no witnesses to the event survived it is impossible to know. O'Donnell concluded that although Stumpfegger was probably involved in drugging the children, Magda Goebbels killed them herself. O'Donnell suggested that witnesses blamed the deaths on Stumpfegger because he was a convenient target, having disappeared (and died, it was later learned) the following day. Moreover, as O'Donnell recorded, Stumpfegger may have been too intoxicated at the time of the deaths to have played a reliable role.
Meissner claims that Stumpfegger refused to take any part in the deaths of the children, and that a mysterious "country doctor from the enemy-occupied eastern region" appeared and "carried out the fearful task" before disappearing again.
Magda appears to have contemplated and talked about killing her children at least a month in advance. She refused several offers from others, such as Albert Speer, to have the children smuggled out of Berlin. The children's bodies were later discovered by the Soviet troops who stormed the bunker. They were dressed in their nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls' hair. There was evidence in the form of bruises that the eldest child, 12-year-old Helga, had awakened and struggled before she was killed.
"Straight after Hitler's death, Mrs. Goebbels came down to the bunker with her children," Mr Misch recalls. "She started preparing to kill them. She couldn't have done that above ground — there were other people there who would have stopped her. That's why she came downstairs — because no-one else was allowed in the bunker. She came down on purpose to kill them. "The kids were right next to me and behind me. We all knew what was going to happen. It was clear. I saw Hitler's doctor, Dr Stumpfegger give the children something to drink. Some kind of sugary drink. Then Stumpfegger went and helped to kill them. All of us knew what was going on. An hour or two later, Mrs Goebbels came out crying. She sat down at a table and began playing patience. This is exactly how it was."
After their children were dead, Magda and Joseph Goebbels walked upstairs to the bombed-out garden, avoiding the need for anyone to carry their bodies. By some accounts, she was shaking uncontrollably. The details of their suicides are uncertain. One SS officer later said they each took cyanide and were shot by an SS trooper. An early report said they were machine-gunned to death at their own request. According to another account, Joseph Goebbels shot Magda and then himself. This idea is presented in the film Downfall. Their bodies were doused inpetrol, only partially burned and not buried. The charred corpses were found on the afternoon of 2 May 1945 by Russian troops and a photograph of Goebbels' burned face was widely published. Thereafter, the remains of the Goebbels family were repeatedly buried and exhumed, along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, General Hans Krebs and Hitler's dogs. The last burial had been at the SMERSHfacility in Magdeburg on 21 February 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On 4 April 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe
14 February 1895 – 2 May 1945
(14 February 1895 – 2 May 1945)
Burgdorf joined Hitler in the Führerbunker in 1945 during the Battle of Berlin. Many of Burgdorf's activities in Berlin at this time were documented by the writings of Gerhardt Boldt, a German soldier who wrote about his observations and experiences in the Führerbunker.
On 28 April, when it was discovered that Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate a surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte, Burgdorf became part of a military tribunal ordered by Hitler to court-martial Himmler's SS liaison officer Hermann Fegelein. Fegelein, by that time was Eva Braun's brother-in-law. SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal which, in addition to Burgdorf and Mohnke, included SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Hans Krebs. However, Fegelein was so drunk that he was determined to be in no condition to stand trial. Mohnke closed the proceedings and turned Fegelein over to Rattenhuber and his security squad.
On 29 April 1945, Burgdorf, Krebs, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. On 2 May, following the earlier suicides of Hitler and Goebbels, Burgdorf and his colleague Chief of Staff Hans Krebs also committed suicide by gunshot to the head. The bodies of Krebs and Burgdorf were found when Soviet personnel entered the bunker.
(4 March 1898 – 1 May 1945)
On 28 April 1945, Krebs made his last telephone call from the Führerbunker. He called General Wilhelm Keitel at the new Supreme Command Headquarters inFürstenberg. He told Keitel that, if relief did not arrive within 48 hours, all was lost. Keitel promised to exert the utmost pressure on General Walther Wenck who commanded the German 12th Army and General Theodor Busse who commanded the German 9th Army. The 12th Army was attacking towards Berlin from the west and the 9th Army was attacking from the south.
On 22 April, Adolf Hitler had ordered both of these armies to link up and come to the relief of Berlin. In addition, forces under General Rudolf Holste were to have attacked towards Berlin from the north.
Later on 28 April, when it was discovered that Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate a backdoor surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte, Krebs became part of a military tribunal ordered by Hitler to court-martial Himmler's SS liaison officer Hermann Fegelein. Fegelein, by that time was Eva Braun's brother-in-law. SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal which, in addition to Krebs and Mohnke, included SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Wilhelm Burgdorf. However, Fegelein was so drunk that he was determined to be in no condition to stand trial. Mohnke closed the proceedings and turned Fegelein over to Rattenhuber and his security squad.
On 29 April, Krebs, Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler. Hitler dictated the document to his personal private secretary, Traudl Junge. Bormann was head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and private secretary to Hitler.
Late that evening, Krebs contacted General Alfred Jodl (Supreme Army Command) by radio and made the following demands: "Request immediate report. Firstly, of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly, of time intended to attack. Thirdly, of the location of the 9th Army. Fourthly, of the precise place in which the 9th Army will break through. Fifthly, of the whereabouts of General Holste's spearhead."
In the early morning of 30 April, Jodl replied to Krebs: "Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, 12th Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of 9th Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive."
Later that day, the Soviet forces continued to fight their way into the centre of Berlin. Hitler committed suicide at around 15:30 hrs. In accordance with Hitler's last will and testament, Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Karl Dönitz was named Hitler's successor as Staatsoberhaupt(Head of State), with the title of Reichspräsident (President) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The same document named the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels as "Head of Government" with the title of Reichskanzler (Chancellor).Surrender of Berlin and suicide
On 1 May, within hours of Hitler's suicide on April 30, Goebbels sent Krebs and Colonel Theodor von Dufving, under a white flag, to deliver a letter he had written to General Vasily Chuikov. Dufving was General Helmuth Weidling's Chief of Staff. The letter contained surrender terms acceptable to Goebbels. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Krebs arrived shortly before 4 a.m. and took Chuikov by surprise. Krebs, who spoke Russian, informed Chuikov that Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife, had killed themselves in the Führerbunker. Chuikov, who was not aware that there was a bunker complex under the Reich Chancellery or that Hitler was married, calmly said that he already knew all of this. Chuikov was not, however, prepared to accept the terms in Goebbels' letter or to negotiate with Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender, as it was agreed with the other Allies. Krebs was not authorized by Goebbels to agree to such terms, however, and so the meeting ended with no agreement. According to Traudl Junge, Krebs returned to the bunker looking "worn out, exhausted". Krebs's surrender of Berlin was thus impeded as long as Goebbels was alive.
At around 8 p.m. on the evening of 1 May, Goebbels removed this impediment. Shortly after killing their own children, Goebbels and his wife,Magda, left the bunker complex and went up to the garden of the Reich Chancellery. They each bit on a cyanide ampule and either shot themselves at the same time, or were given a coup de grâce immediately afterwards by the SS guard. Their bodies were then burned by Goebbels' adjutant, Günther Schwägermann. After Goebbels' death, Krebs was now suicidal himself. The responsibility for surrendering the city fell to General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area.
On 2 May, with Krebs in no condition to do it himself, Weidling contacted General Chuikov to again discuss surrender. Weidling and Chuikov met and had the following conversation in which Chuikov asked about Krebs:
Chuikov: "You are the commander of the Berlin garrison?"
Weidling: "Yes, I am the commander of the LVI Panzer Corps."
Chuikov: "Where is Krebs?"
Weidling: "I saw him yesterday in the Reich Chancellery. I thought he would commit suicide. At first he (Krebs) criticized me because unofficial capitulation started yesterday. The order regarding capitulation has been issued today."
As the Soviets advanced on the Reich Chancellery, Krebs was last seen by others, including Junge, in the Führerbunker when they left to attempt to escape. Junge relates how she approached Krebs to say goodbye and how he straightened up and smoothed his uniform before greeting her for the last time. Krebs and at least two other senior officers, including General Wilhelm Burgdorf and SS Standartenführer Peter Högl—along with SS Untersturmführer Franz Schädle of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers—stayed behind with the stated intention of committing suicide. The bodies of Krebs and Burgdorf were found when Soviet personnel entered the bunker complex. They had committed suicide by gunshot to the head. Schädle also committed suicide and Högl was wounded in the head during an attempted crossing of theWeidendammer Bridge (during the break out) and died of his injuries on 2 May 1945.
Thereafter, the corpses of Krebs, the Goebbels family along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun and Hitler's dogs were repeatedly buried and exhumed by the Soviets. The last burial had been at the SMERSH facility in Magdeburg on 21 February 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On 4 April 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe
(19 November 1906 – 1 May 1945)
He was born in Westerheim, Baden-Württemberg and after trade school he worked as a construction technician. He joined the SS in 1930 and from March 1932 he was one of eight founding members of Hitler's personal bodyguard and he also served on the staff of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler from 1934. He guarded Hitler at his headquarters and accompanied him on all his trips.
On 28 April 1945 he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel. According to the account of Otto Günsche despite his injury he may have helped to carry Hitler's body up the stairs from the Führerbunker in Berlin before witnessing his cremation in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. He later committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a pistol, rather than join the break out from the Reich Chancellery to escape from the advancing Red Army.
30 October 1906 – 28 April or 29 April 1945
SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein
(30 October 1906 – 28 April or 29 April 1945)
Was a General of the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany, a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage, brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl, and husband of the sister-in-law to Adolf Hitler through Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun.
Relationship with Himmler
Fegelein was nicknamed Heinrich Himmler's "golden boy"; his boyish face and subservient attitude gained him considerable favour with Himmler, who treated him like a son (although he was only six years Himmler's junior). Himmler granted him the best assignments (mostly related to horses), the best staff and generous budgets. Himmler brought Fegelein home after he was wounded on the Russian front in October, 1943. Himmler reassigned Fegelein to Adolf Hitler's headquarters staff as Himmler's adjutant and representative of the SS.
His politically arranged marriage to Margarethe "Gretl" Braun took place on June 3, 1944 at the Palace of Mirabell in Salzburg. A marriage license was obtained at the local town clerk's office and Heinrich Himmler was a witness at the simple ceremony. A two-day celebration was then held at Hitler's and Martin Bormann's Obersalzberg mountain homes and the Eagle's Nest. Photographs of the wedding dinner appeared in Britain's weekly Picture Post Magazine the next year after the war ended, showing Hitler at the festivities.
Fegelein was a known playboy and after his marriage to Gretl Braun had many extramarital affairs. Hitler was apparently aware of Fegelein's dalliances and, while not approving, chose to ignore them.
From January to April 1945, Martin Bormann controlled access to Hitler's office. Fegelein was on close terms with him. Further, being married to Eva Braun's sister placed him in Hitler's inner circle. After Fegelein's boss, Heinrich Himmler, tried to negotiate a backdoor surrender to the Western Allies via Count Bernadotte in April 1945, Fegelein left the Reich Chancellery bunker and was caught by SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Högl in his Berlin apartment wearing civilian clothes and apparently preparing to flee to Sweden or Switzerland with his Hungarian mistress. He was carrying cash - German and foreign - and jewelry, some of which belonged to Eva Braun. According to most accounts he was intoxicated when arrested and brought back to the bunker.
At this point, historical accounts begin to differ. In The Last Days of Hitler, historian Hugh Trevor-Roper remarked:
The real causes and circumstances of the execution of Fegelein provide one of the few subjects in this book upon which final certainty seems unattainable.
However, it should be noted that Trevor-Roper's book was written in 1947. Some other theories disagreed with each other, and a few seemed preposterous (e.g. a claim that Hitler himself gunned Fegelein down). Most claimed he had been shot following a court-martial. JournalistJames P. O'Donnell in his interviews of the 1970s, discovered a detailed version as to what happened to Fegelein. Waffen-SS GeneralWilhelm Mohnke, who presided over the court-martial, told O'Donnell the following:
"Hitler ordered me to set up a tribunal forthwith. I was to preside over it myself...I myself decided the accused man [Fegelein] deserved trial by high-ranking officers. The panel consisted of four general officers - Generals Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs, Johann Rattenhuber, and me...We did, at that moment, have every intention of holding a trial.
What really happened was that we set up the court-martial in a room next to my command post...We military judges took our seats at the table with the standard German Army Manual of Courts-Martial before us. No sooner were we seated than defendant Fegelein began acting up in such an outrageous manner that the trial could not even commence.
Roaring drunk, with wild, rolling eyes, Fegelein first brazenly challenged the competence of the court. He kept blubbering that he was responsible to Himmler and Himmler alone, not Hitler...He refused to defend himself. The man was in wretched shape - bawling, whining, vomiting, shaking like an aspen leaf. He took out his penis and began urinating on the floor...
I was now faced with an impossible situation. On the one hand, based on all available evidence, including his own earlier statements, this miserable excuse for an officer was guilty of flagrant desertion... Yet the German Army Manual states clearly that no German soldier can be tried unless he is clearly of sound mind and body, in a condition to hear the evidence against him. I looked up the passage again, to make sure, and consulted with my fellow judges...In my opinion and that of my fellow officers, Hermann Fegelein was in no condition to stand trial, or for that matter to even stand. I closed the proceedings...So I turned Fegelein over to [SS] General Rattenhuber and his security squad. I never saw the man again."
Some survivors of the bunker say Eva Braun pleaded with Hitler to spare her brother-in-law Hermann, and some say she did not speak a word in his defense. There is agreement among bunker survivors that when Fegelein was first arrested Braun did inform Hitler that her sister was pregnant and this apparently led Hitler to initially consider releasing him without punishment. However there is no agreement on whether she said anything once Hitler condemned him to death.
Relationship with Himmler
Fegelein was nicknamed Heinrich Himmler's "Golden Boy"; his boyish face and subservient attitude gained him considerable favour with Himmler, who treated him like a son. Himmler granted him the best assignments (mostly related to horses), the best staff and generous budgets. When he was injured on the Russian front, Himmler brought him home to work in Hitler's staff as Himmler's adjutant and representative of the Waffen SS.
His politically-arranged marriage took place on June 3, 1944, and a two-day celebration was held at Hitler's and Martin Bormann's Obersalzberg mountain homes. Photographs of the wedding dinner appeared in Britain's weekly Picture Post Magazine the next year showing Hitler at the festivities.
Hitler had been actively trying to find a husband for Gretl for some time – in so doing, he would have an excuse to present Eva Braun to visitors, and to bring her to official functions.Gretl Braun had an extremely bad reputation as being promiscious – within the SS, she was nicknamed "the nymphomaniac of the Obersalzberg."
Hitler had earlier tried to marry her off to a Captain Fritz Darges, but Darges actually asked to be sent to fight in the Eastern Front rather than marry her. Moreover, at the time of the marriage, Gretl Braun was pregnant by a man other than Fegelein. Fegelein became known as the playboy of the Third Reich, and after his marriage to Gretl Braun, engaged in numerous extramarital affairs.Nonetheless, Hitler was apparently aware of Fegelein's dalliances, and while not entirely approving of it, cast it a blind eye. This was common within Hitler's inner circle.
Martin Bormann had 10 children with his wife and also kept a mistress, while Heinrich Himmler had children with both his wife and mistress. Hermann Fegelein also became the Commandant of the S.S. Horse Farm in Fischhorn Castle near Zell am See. Although he had a house with his wife, a love-nest apartment in Berlin, and a bedroom in Hitler's underground bunker below the Reich Chancellery, it was the farm where he was in charge and had his best friends.
Journalist James O'Donnell discovered in his interviews numerous claims and theories as to what happened next to Fegelein, many of which disagreed with each other, and some of which seemed preposterous (i.e., a claim that Hitler himself gunned Fegelein down). Many claimed he had been shot following a court-martial, and this theory predominated for many years. General Wilhelm Mohnke, who presided over the court-martial, told O'Donnell the following:
Many other people in the bunker argued that Mohnke was lying, that he had in fact had Fegelein killed, and only made the above statement to try and explicate himself from any guilt. This was complicated by the fact that Mohnke was the only survivor of this court martial - Krebs and Burgdorf committed suicide by May 2. While Rattenhuber survived, O'Donnell was only able to speak with him once before his death, and Rattenhuber did not discuss Fegelein with him.However, as O'Donnell noted, nobody actually saw Fegelein's execution (or, if they did, they weren't talking). O'Donnell and many historians, with the evidence at hand, agreed with Mohnke, and have concluded that Fegelein was doomed because of a combination of Himmler's betrayal and suspicions that his mistress was a spy. Fegelein, then, was killed without a proper trial on Hitler's orders, probably hanged by members of the SS in a nearby cellar.
Both of Fegelein's parents survived the war and felt he was continuing resistance underground and claimed to receive messages via a third party. His wife, who inherited some of Eva Braun's valuable jewelry (of questionable provenance), survived the war and gave birth to a daughter. However, after Fegelein was found trying to escape to Sweden with another woman in the last days of the war, Hitler ordered his execution personally.
The daughter's true parentage is the subject of some speculation – it was clearly conceived after her marriage to Fegelein, though it is not certain Fegelein was the father (the fate of the baby she was pregnant with at the time of her marriage is unknown; some members of Hitler's entourage claimed she had an abortion with the aid of Theodore Morell, one of Hitler's doctors).The daughter (named 'Eva' after her late aunt) committed suicide in 1975.
The Goebbels children were the five daughters and one son born to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda Goebbels. The children, born between 1932 and 1940, were murdered by their parents in Berlin on May 1, 1945, the day both parents committed suicide.
10-year-old Harald Quandt (in DJ-uniform) at his mother's wedding with Joseph Goebbels. Hitler, who acted as Goebbels' best man, can be seen in the background.
Born September 1, 1932. Goebbels was proud of his eldest daughter and would go straight to her cot as soon as he returned from his office, to take her on his lap. Helga was a "daddy's girl" who preferred her father to her mother. She was reported to have been a lovely baby who never cried and just sat listening uncomprehendingly to the Nazi officials with "her blue eyes sparkling". It was not unusual for Hitler, who was fond of children, to take her on to his own lap while he talked late into the night.
She was photographed with Hilde presenting Hitler with flowers on his birthday April 20, 1936.
Helga was 12 years old when she died. Bruises found on her body postmortem led to wide speculation that she had struggled against receiving (according to most accounts) an injection of morphine, which was used to quickly sedate the children before they were apparently killed with cyanide capsules.Hildegard Traudel
Born April 13, 1934, Hildegard was commonly called "Hilde". In a 1941 diary entry, Joseph referred to her as "a little mouse".
Hilde was eleven years old at the time of her death.Helmut Christian Magda and Joseph Goebbels with their children, Hilde (left), Helmut (center), and Helga (right), visit Hitler on the Obersalzberg, Kehlstein House, 1938.
Born October 2, 1935, Helmut was considered sensitive and something of a dreamer. In his diary, Goebbels called him a "clown." When his teacher at the Lanke primary school reported, to his father's dismay, that his promotion to a higher form was doubtful, he responded so well to intense tutoring from his mother and his governess that he not only achieved promotion, but also excellent marks. He wore braces on his teeth.
On April 26, 1945, Helmut read aloud his father's birthday speech to Hitler, and responded to Helga's protests that he was copying their father by arguing that no, Goebbels had copied him.
Helmut was nine years old at the time of his death.Holdine Kathrin
Born February 19, 1937. It is claimed that Holde got her name when the doctor who delivered her, Stoeckel, bent over her and exclaimed "Das ist eine Holde!" ("that's a pretty one!") Meissner claims that Holde was the "least lively" of the children and was somewhat "pushed aside" by the others to her considerable distress. He claims Goebbels responded to this by making her something of a favorite, to which she responded with devotion.
She was eight years old at the time of her death.Hedwig Johanna
Born May 5, 1938, she was commonly called "Hedda". She had insisted, in 1944, that when she grew up she was going to marry SS Adjutant Günther Schwägermann, having been captivated by the fact he had a fake eye.
She was almost seven years old at the time of her death.Heidrun Elisabeth
Magda once described the temperaments of five of her children to her sister-in-law Eleanore (Ello) Quandt by describing how each would react to learning they had been deceived by their spouse:
In 1934, in search of privacy for himself and his family, Goebbels bought an imposing house in its own grounds on Schwanenwerder, an island in the River Havel. He also bought a motor Yacht Baldur for use on the river. Harald had his own nursery on the first floor while Helga and Hilde shared another. The children not only had ponies, but also a little carriage to ride around the gardens in. Two years later he purchased a neighboring property and extended the park, and included a private "citadel" as his own personal retreat.
Later, the City of Berlin placed a second lakeside house at his disposal, a small castle, Lanke am Bogensee, as an official residence, which was only really large enough for the family to use as a weekend retreat, though Goebbels later added a large modern house on the opposite shore of the Bogensee.
When the Goebbels marriage reached crisis point in the summer of 1938, over Goebbels´ affair with Czech actress Lída Baarová, Hitler himself intervened and negotiated an agreement whereby the actress would be banished and the couple would keep up public appearances for a year subject to any reasonable conditions Magda might make. One of her conditions was that Goebbels would only be able to visit Schwanenwerder and see the children with her expressed permission. If, after that year, Magda still wanted a divorce, Hitler would allow it, with Goebbels as the guilty party, and she would retain Schwanenwerder, custody of the children, and a considerable income.
Goebbels abided scrupulously by the agreement, always calling for permission before visiting and expressing his regret at missing Magda if she was not there, or taking his place, amiably, with his family at the tea table, if she was. It is claimed that the children at no time seemed to be aware that their parents were living separately at this time.In the media Joseph Goebbels with his daughters, Hilde (center) and Helga (right), at a Christmas celebration in the Saalbau (Hall) Friedrichshain, Berlin, 1937, during the singing of the national anthems.
In 1937, Helga and Hilde were photographed with their father at the Berlin Frühjahrsregatta.
The public reconciliation agreement in August 1938 was cemented by the appearance of Helga, Hilde and Helmut with their parents in front of the cameras of UFA, as a cinematic image of domestic reconciliation.
In 1939, Goebbels used a concealed camera to film his children as a "healthy" contrast to the handicapped children in a propaganda film intended to promote the euthanasia of handicapped children.
During 1942, the children appeared 34 times in the weekly newsreels, going about their lives, helping their mother, playing in the garden or singing to their father on his 45th birthday. That October, as a gift from the German Newsreel Company, Goebbels was presented with a film of his children playing.
On February 18, 1943, Helga and Hilde were photographed along with Magda at one of Joseph's best-known events, the total war speech.
Towards the end of 1944, Goebbels sent Magda and his two eldest daughters into a military hospital to be filmed for the weekly newsreels, but abandoned the project on realising that the terrible injuries of the soldiers were too traumatic for his daughters.Last days Floor plan of Vorbunker room.
As the Red Army moved closer at the end of January 1945, Goebbels ordered the removal of his family from the Lanke Castle estate to the relative safety of Schwanenwerder. From there the children could soon hear the rumble of artillery in the east and wondered why rain never followed the "thunder."
By April 22, 1945, the Red Army was entering Berlin and the Goebbels brought their children into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens. Adolf Hitler and a few personnel were staying in the Führerbunker to direct the final defence of Berlin. Red Cross leader Karl Gebhardt wanted to take the children out of the city with him, but was dismissed.
General Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven later described the children as "sad" but Erna Flegel, with whom they had much contact in the bunker, characterised them as "charming" and "absolutely delightful", as did their young governess "Frau K".
Hitler was very fond of the children, and even in the last week of his life still took great pleasure in sharing chocolate with them as well as giving them the use of his bathroom, it being the only one with a bathtub.
They are reported to have played with Hitler's dog Blondi during their time in the bunker complex, where they slept in a single room. While many reports suggest there were three separate bunk beds, secretary Traudl Junge insisted there were only two. The children are said to have sung in unison while in the bunker, performing for both Hitler and the injured Robert Ritter von Greim, as well as having been conducted in play-song by pilot Hanna Reitsch. Junge said that she was with the children on April 30 when Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves.Death
Stories of brutality and rape by the advancing Soviet troops were circulating in Berlin, and there was much discussion in the Führerbunker about suicide as a means to escape humiliation or punishment from the Soviets.
Goebbels's last testament, appended to Hitler's, claimed that his wife and children supported him in his refusal to leave Berlin, qualifying this by asserting that the children would support the decision if they were old enough to speak for themselves. Both pilot Hanna Reitsch (who had left the bunker on April 29) and Junge (who left on May 1) carried letters to the outside world from those remaining. Included was a letter from Magda to Harald who was in an Allied POW camp.
The following day, on May 1, 1945, the Goebbels' six children were injected with morphine (likely by an SS dentist, Helmut Kunz) and then, when they were unconscious, killed by having a crushed ampoule of cyanide placed in their mouths. Accounts differ over how involved Magda was with the killing of her children. According to Kunz, he administered the morphine but it was Magda Goebbels and Ludwig Stumpfegger(Hitler's personal doctor) who administered the cyanide tablets.
Another account says that the children were told they would be leaving for Berchtesgaden in the morning, and Ludwig Stumpfegger was said to have provided Magda with morphine to sedate the children. Erna Flegel claims that Magda reassured the children about the morphine by telling them that they needed inoculations because they would be staying in the bunker for a long time. Erich Kempka reported after the war that he believed the children had been "taken away by a nurse" that day, just before he left the bunker. Some witnesses claimed that SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger crushed the cyanide capsules into the children's mouths, but as no witnesses to the event survived it is impossible to know. O'Donnell concluded that, although Stumpfegger was probably involved in drugging the children, it was Magda who killed them. He suggested that witnesses blamed the deaths on Stumpfegger because he was a convenient target, having disappeared (and died, it was later learned) the following day. Moreover, as O'Donnell recorded, Stumpfegger may have been too intoxicated at the time of the deaths to have played a reliable role.
Meissner claims that Stumpfegger refused to take any part in the deaths of the children, and that a mysterious "country Doctor from the enemy-occupied eastern region" appeared and "carried out the fearful task" before disappearing again, but this explanation may owe more to Meissner's characteristic diplomacy and consideration than any reality.
Magda appears to have contemplated and talked about killing her children at least a month in advance. After the war, Günther Quandt's sister-in-law Eleanore recalled Magda saying she did not want her children to grow up hearing that their father had been one of the century's foremost criminals and that reincarnation might grant her children a better future life. Reitsch, who stayed in the bunker after flying Luftwaffe General von Greim in to meet with Hitler, said Magda asked her in the last days to help ensure she did not back away from killing the children if it came to that.
She also refused several offers from others, such as Albert Speer, to take the children out of Berlin. The children seemed unaware of the impending danger, but the eldest child, Helga, seemed to sense that the adults were lying to her about the outcome of the war and asked what would happen to them. Rochus Misch, a radio operator in the bunker, reported that Helga, whom he called the brightest of the children, was "crying softly" just before bedtime on that final night and wore a glum expression as her mother brushed her hair and kissed her and her siblings. Magda had to push Helga towards the stairs that led to the upper bunker or Vorbunker. The smallest child, four-year-old Heide, had had tonsilitis and wore a scarf around her neck. She turned back to look at Misch, giggling, and teasingly said, "Misch, Misch, du bist ein Fisch," or "Misch, Misch, you are a fish", as her mother led her and her siblings upstairs. Misch recalled later that he suspected what was about to happen and would always regret not intervening. The children's bodies, in nightclothes, with ribbons tied in the girls' hair, were found in the two-tiered bunk beds where they were killed, when Soviet troops entered the bunker a day later. A Soviet autopsy on Helga's body noted "several black and blue bruises", indicating that she probably woke up and struggled with her killer. A photograph taken during the autopsy showed heavy bruising on the dead child's face. The injuries were apparently caused when her killer forced a cyanide capsule into her mouth. One account stated Helga's jaw was broken.Aftermath
On May 3, 1945, the day after Soviet troops led by Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko had discovered the burned bodies of their parents in the courtyard above, they found the bodies of the six children in their beds, dressed in their nightgowns, the girls wearing bows in their hair.
Vice Admiral Hans Voss was brought to the Chancellery garden to identify the bodies, as was Hans Fritzsche, a leading German radio commentator who had answered directly to Goebbels, the following day. Their bodies were brought to the Buchau Cemetery in Berlin for autopsy and inquest by Soviet doctors. In spite of repeated attempts, even Frau Behrend, the children's grandmother, never learned what became of the bodies. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was revealed that the bodies were repeatedly buried and exhumed, along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, General Hans Krebs and Hitler's dogs. The last burial had been at theSMERSH facility in Magdeburg on February 21, 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On April 4, 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe.
Rochus Misch, a former radio operator for Adolf Hitler, attracted controversy in 2005 when he called for a memorial plaque to be installed in honour of the six Goebbels children. Critics felt it would taint the memory of Holocaust victims to honor the children of the Nazi leader. Despite their parents' crimes, Misch argued that the children themselves were innocent, that to treat them as criminals like their parents was wrong and that they were murdered just as other victims during the war were murdered.
Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were married on the 28th of April
1945 at about 8pm by a civil servant from the Propaganda
Ministry. Martin Bormann and Paul Josef Goebbels were
witnesses of the wedded. Hitler and his bride were married in
the Conference room of Hitler's bunker in Berlin. Hitler was
then a very sick man : his face was ashen, his gaze
wandered. It is a miracle Eva Braun accepted to marry such a
wreck. He was then wearing the crumpled tunic in which he
nowadays laid on his bed all day, he has just pinned on it the
Gold Party Badge, the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Wounded
Medal of the Great War.
Eva Braun too was very pale. She wore a dark-blue silk dress
under a grey fur cape. The ceremony behind close doors
lasted less ten minutes. Bormann opened the door again
when Hitler and Eva were signing the licence : she started
signing her name Braun, realized her mistake, scratched the B
and signed Eva Hitler. Hitler then kissed her hand. That was it.
The Goebbels along with two secretaries, Frau Christian and
Frau Junge, were then invited to a wedding tea in the study.
Adolf Hitler 1889-145 and Eva Braun
1912-1945 died on the 30th of April 1945.
They both committed suicide.
Otto Günsche and Heinz
Linge were the witnesses
of Hitler's last hours (1).
When the wedding tea was over, Hitler summoned Frau Junge (pic to the right) to his study. He
dictated his Will to her. Hitler edited it several times before to order 3 copies to be done for the
final version. In it, he dictated the composition of the new governement : Admoral Dönitz was
going to be his successor as President, not as Führer. Martin Bormann was to remain leader of
the NSDAP with ministerial rank. During the same night, the bunker was under heavy fire from
the Soviets : at around 6am, a firestorm began to rage in the nearby governement district and
shells crashed into the Chancellery and exploded on the roof of the bunker.
In the bunker, the ambiance was gloomy. In the afternoon, there was a rumour that the Russians
were trying to reach the Chancellery through the U-Bahn tunnel, Hitler started to play nervously with
his little dog Wolf (2) to hide his fear. The excitement in the bunker reached its high point,
Goebbels who chain smoked turned totally grey and his wife was weeping profusely.
Around noon on the 29th, Hitler went to the bunker in the Reich old Chancellery. Here he greeted
the secretaries and typists and said softly to them :"Thank you, children" and he went back to the
his bunker in the new Chancellery. Everybody spent the rest of the day and the night waiting for
the Russians to arrive. After midnight, the shelling from the Soviets abated a little. In the hall of the
bunker, Professor Haase (3) was standing with Hitler's dog handler, Sgt Tornow. Hitler had
given Tornow the job of poisoning Blondi, his Alsatian bitch sheperd because he wanted to try the
cyanide on her. Just after midnight, the poison was administered on her. It worked immediately.
Hitler checked on her death, said nothing and left the lavatory where the poison had been given to
Traundl Junge, one of Hitler's
secretary, typed in his last Will.
Later, she wrote a book about her
life with the Fuehrer. At the end of
the war, she was raped and was a
"personal prisoner" (4) of a high
ranking Soviet intelligence officer.
She did not mention it in her
Memoirs "Until the final hour".
At that time, the Russian tanks were only 300 meters away from the Chancellery.
Everybody in the bunker still hoped that Hitler would change his mind and decide to leave
the bunker. But the Fuehrer was too afraid to take the risks to be taken alive by the
Russians. During the night of 29 April, he had his regular evening tea with Eva, Frau
Christian, Frau Junge and Fraülein Manziarly, his diet assistant who was the mistress of
one of Hitler's Generals. At 5:00 am they left Hitler with tears in their eyes and Frau Junge
said to Sturmbannführer SS Otto Günsche, Hitler's last personal adjutant, that the Führer
wanted to shoot himself that day, as he had already announced to his staff in the bunker
since some time.
The rest of the night was spent once more waiting for the Russians. A 8:00 am on 30 April
Hitler dictated to Martin Bormann his last military orders which were completely out of
reality. Orders were transmitted by Bormann to the Battle Group Mohnke (5) to break out of
the government district and join up out of Berlin with beleaguered troops which were trying
to continue some struggle. A 2:00 pm, Bormann rushed out of Hitler's study looking pale
and confused. He went to Otto Günsche and said that Hitler and Eva wanted to bring their
lives to an end that day. Their bodies, he added, were to be drenched in benzene and
burned in the garden of the Chancellery. That was Hitler's categorical order. Under no
circumstances should his body fall into Russian hands.
Bormann asked Günsche to make sure that everything was ready for the burning of the
bodies. Then Günsche called Mohnke and asked him to come to Hitler's bunker. Some
minutes later, SS Oberführer johann Rattenhuber, head of Adolf Hitler's
Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD), Hans Baur, Hitler's pilot and his assistant Betz came into
the antechamber to Hitler's study. Hitler came out of his study : his eyes were snuffed out,
his face earthen, his eyes had dark rings. His left hand was shaking more than ever and it
seemed that the tremor had taken the whole body. He only said :"I have ordered that I am
to be burned after my death. Make sure that my order is carreid out to the letter. I will
not have it that they take my body back to Moscow to exhibit in a cabinet of curiosities."
Then Hitler traced a lethargic gesture of fareweel with his right arm and turned round and
disappeared behind the study door where Eva was waiting for him. Günsche summoned
Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffeur, to bring ten canisters of benzene to the bunker and to
leave it at the emergency exit to the garden. When all was set, he took up his position by
the antechamber door while he waited for the gunshot. His watch read 3:10pm.
A little later, Eva Braun came out of the study into the antechamber : she looked sad, said
goodbye to Linge, then went to Frau Goebbels who was in her husband's room. A few
minutes later she came back and asked Günsche to tell Hitler that Frau Goebbels wanted
to see him one more time. Hitler relented to her query, met the Goebbels who tried once
more to convince him to flee berlin. In a hysterical voice, Hitler replied :"No, Doctor, you
know my decision. It is not going to change." Then he took leave of Magda Goebbels
and went back to his appartment. At the door to the study Linge wanted to say goodbye to
Hitler only answered that he had given orders to break out from Berlin to the West in small
groups. Linge stared at Hitler and asked whom they should be fighting their way out for now
? Surprised Hitler looked at him and said:" For the coming man!". Then he said goodbye
to Linge and Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, Heinrich Himmler's representative, with a limp
handshake and raised his right arm. Linge and Krüger gave back the Nazi salute, closed
the door to the study and went to the old bunker. Then it was Eva Braun to leave Magda
Goebbels's room : she walked slowly to Hitler's study. A few minutes later, Goebbels
came out and joined Bormann and other Nazi dignitaries in the conference room. Another
minutes and Linge came back from the old bunker. It was just a few minutes before 4:00
pm. As Linge walked past Günsche he just said that he thought it was by now over and
went to the antechamber. Goebbels said :"I think I heard a shot."
There Linge smelled gunpowder, told Bormann about the smell and he opened the door
and Gobbeels and Axmann walked in with Bormann following. Then they saw the following
scene : on the left-hand side of the sofa sat a dead Hitler. Next to him was an as dead Eva
SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke
(1911 – 2001) was one of the
original 120 members of the SS-
Stabswache "Berlin" formed in
March 1933. From those ranks he
was to rise to become one of
German last remaining generals. He
commanded Kampfgruppe Mohnke
and was charged with defending
the Berlin government district,
including the Reichstag during the
Battle of Berlin.
Kempka (16 September 1910 – 24
January 1975) served as Adolf
Hitler's chauffeur from 1934. He
was member #2803 of the
The Führer in slippers
In Hitler's right temple there was a bullet wound the size of a coin and two streams of
blood were running down on his cheek. Günsche assumed that Hitler shot himself
through the mouth. On the carpet, next to his right foot, lay a 7.65mm Walther pistol and
next to his left foot was a 6.35 mm Walther. Hitler was still wearing his grey tunic, a
white shirt with a black tie, black trousers, black socks and black leather slippers (sic).
Eva Hitler had pulled her legs under herself and had poisoned herself with cyanide.
Linge laid Hitler's body on the ground and wrapped him in a blanket. He carried it out to
the garden while Goebbels, Axmann and other dignitaries raised their arm in salute.
Then Kempka emerged from the study carrying Eva's body that strongly smelled of
cyanide. Bormann himself carried Eva Braun's body to the garden. Both corpses were
put down on the ground at the emergency exit because the shelling by the Russians
was too intense to immediately go to the garden. When it abated a little, they drew the
bodies to the Chancellery garden and laid them in the shallow pit graves that had
been dug out by SS members. Bormann, Günsche, Kempka and three others SS
grabbed canisters filled with benzene and poured 200 liters of combustible over the
corpses. Linge ignited a piece of paper and tossed it on the bodies that were instantly
in flames. After a few seconds they all went back in silence to the bunker.
Günsche went to the study room picked up the two Walther pistols, Hitler's famous
dog-whip and joined the others in the conference room to decide what to do next.
Bormann was extremely agitated and only thought about the best way to get out of the
bunker. Goebbels proposed to make contact with the Soviets and to secure a short
cease-fire. Frau Goebbels was sobbing as usual wondering what was going to happen
to herself and her six children Hilde, Helga, Helmut, Holde, Heide and Hedda (all
carried names starting with an H in honour of Hitler). Nevertheless in this moment, she
blamed the Führer for "having done it". Later around 4:00 pm, she asked
Dr.Stumpfegger to kill her children by poisoning their coffee. She waited outside the
room and when the job was done, Dr. Stumpfegger came out of the room, nodded to
her and she fainted. Immediately after, she was taken back to her room by two SS men.
A 5:30 pm. General Weidling (6) turned up in the bunker for the afternoon conference
and was informed of Hitler's death : they decided to ask the Russians for a ceasefire
that was refused. The shelling of the district continued unabated all night.
On the morning of the 1st of May, Goebbels emerged from his room asking Linge
whether he could have prevented Hitler's suicide. Linge laughed at the suggestion. The
Propaganda minister came back to his room and he and his wife shot themselves. His
body was also drenched with benzene and set ablaze by SS men. At around noon,
General Krebs, Deputy Chief of Army General Staff (OKH), returned to the bunker with
the news that the Russians were asking unconditional surrender. It was decided in
the evening to go for a break-out : the garrison was planning to escape that evening.
Some made it, other died : Bormann was seen jumping on a German tank by Axmann
who said later that a hand grenade was thrown on the tank. His body will be dug out
from the Berlin street in the 70s and identified by ADN test.
The last picture of Hitler alive. He is
passing in review a contingent of
Hitler's Youth lead by Artur Axmann. A
large number of them were used during
the battle of Berlin and sent to their
death while Axmann managed after
Hitler's death to flee from Berlin. He
died in his bed in 1996.
(1) Otto Günsche, (1917 – 2003) was a Sturmbannführer in the SS and
a close aide of Adolf Hitler. Günsche was born in Jena in Thuringia. He
was present at the July 20 plot to kill Hitler. As the end of the Third Reich
became imminent, Hitler asked Günsche to ensure that his body would
be burnt after his death. Having done so, Günsche left the Führerbunker
but was captured by Soviet troops encircling the city soon thereafter. He
was imprisoned in Bautzen and released in 1956. He was one of the
main witnesses used by the Russians to establish the exact conditions
of the death of Hitler.
Heinz Linge ( 1913 – 1980) was a valet at German dictator Adolf Hitler's
headquarters. Linge was born in Bremen. He worked as a valet at
Wolfsschanze in Rastenburg and at Hitler's bunker in Berlin in the last
days of the Führer's life, and was Hitler's personal ordinance officer.
Linge was one of the last to leave the bunker and was arrested by the
Red Army, which interrogated him about the circumstances of Hitler's
death. He was released from Soviet captivity in 1955 and died in Bremen
in West Germany.
(2) The little dog "Wolf" was the puppy of Hitler's bitch Blondi. He was
shot in the garden of the Chancellery by a SS member in April 1945 with
other puppies from the same mother. Blondi was poisoned on Hitler's
(3) Werner Haase (1900 – 1950), German professor of medicine and
SS officer, was one of Adolf Hitler's personal physicians.
In the last days of the fighting in Berlin in late April 1945, Haase, with
Ernst Günther Schenck, was working to save the lives of the many
wounded German soldiers and civilians in the public air-raid shelter
under the Reich Chancellery building in central Berlin, next to the
Führerbunker. Haase was made a Soviet prisoner of war. In June 1945
he was charged with being "a personal doctor of the former
Reichschancellor of Germany, Hitler, and also treated other leaders of
Hitler's government and of the Nazi Party and members of Hitler's SS
guard." The sentence is not recorded. Haase, who suffered from
tuberculosis, died in captivity in November 1950.
(4) Traundl Junge, (1920 – 2002, born Gertraud Humps) was Adolf
Hitler's youngest personal private secretary, from December 1942 to
April 1945. Years after the war, she returned to the public eye with the
release of an autobiography, Until the Final Hour (2002) , which
described the time she worked for Hitler. She was also interviewed for
the 2002 documentary film Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary. This suddenly
brought her much attention and for a few days she was accorded
something approaching global celebrity when, aged 81, she died in a
Munich hospital. She never recovered from her sentiment of guilt and
was never able to forget her past.
(5) SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke (1911 – 2001) was one of the
original 120 members of the SS-Stabswache "Berlin" formed in March
1933. From those ranks he was to rise to become one of German last
remaining generals. He commanded Kampfgruppe Mohnke and was
charged with defending the Berlin government district, including the
Reichstag during the Battle of Berlin.
(6) General Helmuth Weidling (November 2, 1891 – November 17, 1955)
was the last German commander of the Berlin Defense Area during the
final assault by Soviet forces on the city of Berlin.
(7) SMERSH (Death to Spies) was the name of a specialized
counterintelligence department in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the
General Staff GRU of the Soviet Union. Operating under various names
since the beginning of the GRU, it was given its most notorious name
SMERSH during the years immediately preceding World War II. The
direction of SMERSH was to secure the rear of the active Red Army from
partisans, saboteurs, and spies, on the front to investigate and arrest
conspirators and mutineers, "traitors, deserters, spies, and criminal
elements", and support the General Staff's strategic operations by
carrying out global assassination of elements considered subversive to
the military stability of the Red Army.
General Helmuth Weidling (1891 –
1955) was the last German commander
of the Berlin Defense Area during the
final assault by Soviet forces on the city
On the 4th of May, Soviet secret-services men of the Smersh (7) dug out
the Hitlers' bodies, husband and wife. But as they believed the corpses
laid in the building of the Chancellery they reburied the bodies. The next
day, officers from another Russian secret-service dug up the remains of
Adolf and Eva Hitler. The remains were wrapped in blankets and
smuggled to the Smersh HQ in Berlin-Buch. On the 6th of May, at the
field hospital #496 in Berlin-Buch, an autopsy was made of 11 human
bodies by a medical commission led by Lt-Colonel Shkaravsky : they
were the already identified remains of Gal Krebs, Goebbels and wife, six
children and the presumed remains of Adolf and Eva Hitler.
A dental examination of those two bodies was made on 11 May by Pr
Hugo Blaschke and his technician Käthe Heusermann who stated that
the bodies en question were those of Adolf and Eva Hitler. The Hitlerian
nightmare was over, the cold war could start. More than 11 million
Russian soldiers died during WW2, and about 4 million German
soldiers. WW2 was a conflict to the end between two tyrants : Hitler lost.
Paul Josef Goebbels's charred corpse was also
discovered by the Russians and was subject to autopsy
by pathologists belonging to Smersh (7)
At the end of the war, Heinz Linge and Otto Günsche
were taken into custody as POWs by the Russians and
interrogated during months to establish the truth about
Hitler's last moments. The Soviets questioned a lot of
other POWs but Linge's and Günsche's testimonies
were considered as the most useful and reliable.
Formerly with the Leibstandarte SS division Adolf Hitler
Linge was Hitler's soldier-servant from 1935 and
personal servant from 1939.
Günsche, born in 1917, entered the Hitler Youth in
1931 and the Leibstandarte SS division Adolf Hitler in
1934, he was a member of the NSDAP since 1933. In
1936, he was a non commissioned officer in the Führer
Escort command. From January to August 1943 he
became Hitler's personal adjutant then was affected to
the Eastern Front Line as a company Commander in the
Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. From February 1944 to April
1945 he was Hitler's personal adjutant again and was
taken prisoner in May 1945 by the Russians.
After years of lengthy interrogations by the Soviet, he
was sentenced in 1950 to 25 years in a labour camp. He
was released in 1955 and delivered to the East
Germans who released him in 1956. He then fled to
West Germany and died in 2003.
At the end of the war Hitler is a complete ruin. Here he
is passing in review a contingent of the Hitler Youth led
by Arthur Axmann who were used to defend Berlin and
some strategic bridges. One of the Youth, a 12 year old
boy was given that day the Iron Cross First Class.
Arthur Axmann stayed in the Hitler's bunker until the
end, then escaped to the West and died in his bed in
1996. He had lost an arm on the Russian front. NB: I
have received a comment on my guest-book of an
individual signing Axmann. This chef d'oeuvre can be
The picture to the left is the last picture of Hitler alive. He is inspecting
the damages made to the Chancellerie where he retired at the end of
the war that was located at the Voßstraße in Berlin. Next to him stands
his personal adjutant Julius Schaub. It was taken by the still
photographer after Hitler inspected the Hitler-Jugen boys in the
Reichschancellery garden on March 20, 1945.
Suposed last foto of Adolf Hitler in the Bunker on the day of its dead
Suposed last foto of Adolf Hitler in the Bunker on the day of its dead
On May 2, the last German defenders of Berlin capitulated before the Soviets. The Red Army entered the bunker where Hitler's were in retreat since January 17. They found the charred bodies of Joseph Goebbels, his wife Magda and their six children who had been poisoned. In the same place, the corpse of a man with a mustache, made the soldiers believe for a moment that was Hitler. In a detailed observation, concluded it was a lookalike .. Arose the suspicion that Hitler had fled, eliminating its double.
This body was discovered by the Russian contingent in Berlin and assumed to be Adolf Hitler. It is actually Gustav Weler, Hitler’s doppelganger (body double), who was executed with a gunshot to the forehead.
Adolf Hitler's last days honoring the Hitler Youth for heroic deeds in the defense of Berlin
The room of the bunker where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun supposedly committed suicide , you can see clearly thecouch that the Russians presented has proof of his death, the blood analysis was inconclusive
The place were the bodys were found