Category Archives: Adolf Hitler

The World in the First Half of the 20th Century


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Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj
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In the first half of the 20th century, four flagrant men with their competing egos drove almost the entire human race to the brink of extinction with their charismatic personalities and grandiose visions.

The four, deemed notorious, are:

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

Adolf Hitler

 Adolf Hitler

Hideki Tojo

Hideki Tojo

  • Joseph Stalin – General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, from April 3, 1922, to October 16, 1952.
  • Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country as Prime Minister from 1922 until his ousting in 1943.
  • Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945.
  • Hideki Tojo, who was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan from October 17, 1941, to July 22, 1944.

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The Communists of Russia

 

Communist symbol

The Russian Revolution of 1905 is considered the major factor that led to the February Revolutions of 1917. This series of revolutions, collectively known as the Russian Revolution, led to the creation of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (SFSR) after demolishing the Tsarist autocracy.

The first Russian revolution in February 1917 (March in the Gregorian calendar since the old Julian calendar was in use in Russia at that time) focused around Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg). The February Revolution took place in the context of heavy military setbacks during the First World War (1914–18), which left much of the Russian army in a state of mutiny. The army leadership felt they did not have the means to suppress the revolution and Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, abdicated. During the chaos, members of the Imperial Parliament or Duma assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Soviets (workers’ councils), which were led by more radical socialist factions, initially permitted the Provisional Government to rule but insisted on a prerogative to influence the government and control various militias.

During the second Russian revolution in October (November in the Gregorian calendar) 1917, the Provisional Government in Petrograd was overthrown by the Bolshevik (communist) party, led by the revolutionary, politician and political theorist Vladimir Lenin, and the workers’ Soviets. The Bolsheviks appointed themselves as leaders of various government ministries and seized control of the countryside.

Joseph Stalin was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who took part in the Russian Revolution of 1917. He was named the general secretary of the party’s Central Committee in 1922. Following the 1924 death of Vladimir Lenin, he managed to consolidate power while eliminating any opposition. By the late 1920s, he was the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union.

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The Fascists of Italy

 

Fascism was a unique radical force that emerged in Italy in 1919. It had no clear predecessor, but developed out of World War I. Fascism in Italy was the offshoot of two other movements: nationalism and syndicalism.

Angered by Italy’s treatment after World War I, the nationalists, combined the idea of a class struggle with that of national struggle; and the syndicalists postulated that economic life in Italy should be governed by groups representing the workers in various industries and crafts. Italy was a proletarian nation, they said, and to win a greater share of the world’s wealth, all of Italy’s classes must unite.

Benito Mussolini, Mussolini was a syndicalist who turned nationalist during World War I.

Originally Mussolini was a revolutionary Socialist, and editor of “Avanti” (Forward) the socialist newspaper. He was later expelled from the Socialist Party. Mussolini rose to power in the wake of World War I, as a leading proponent of Fascism. At the start of World War I, like all socialists, he condemned the war as workers were forced to fight other workers while the factory bosses got richer at their expense. He forged the paramilitary Fascist movement in 1919 and became prime minister in 1922.

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The Nazis of Germany

 

Nazi symbol

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In 1914, Adolf Hitler joined the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment. He fought on the Western Front and was awarded the Iron Cross for his bravery in battle. In 1918, he was temporarily blinded by a gas attack and was invalided out of the war.

After the war, in 1919, Hitler joined the German Worker’s Party led by Anton Drexler and was in charge of the political ideas and propaganda of the party. In 1920, the party announced its 25-point programme and was renamed the National Socialist German Worker’s Party – NAZIs.

In 1921, Hitler became the leader of the party and soon began attracting attention, with his powerful speeches. Hitler stirred up Nationalist passion, giving the people the fodder to blame for Germany’s problems. Hitler’s opponents tried to disrupt the meetings so for protection Hitler set up the SA – Stormtroopers. Though the actual membership of the NAZI party remained quite low in this period, Hitler, through his meetings and speeches gained a very high profile.

By 1932, the Nazi party was the largest party in the Reichstag but did not have a majority. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. A month later, on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building was burned down. The Communists were blamed for the fire and the Communist party was banned in Germany, giving the Nazis a clear majority in the government.

On August 2, 1934, Paul von Hindenburg, the second president of Germany from 1925 to 1934, died. Hitler then combined the position of Chancellor and president and made himself Fuhrer of Germany and began building his Third Reich. Ignoring the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, he began building up the army and stockpiling weapons. The Nuremberg Laws passed in 1935 defined Hitler’s ideal pure Aryan German citizen and barred Jews from holding any form of Public office.

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Statism in Shōwa Japan

 

Japanese symbol

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Statism in Shōwa Japan also referred to as Shōwa nationalism or Japanese fascism, was a union of Japanese right-wing political ideologies, developed over a period of time from the Meiji Restoration. It was a mixture of ideas such as Japanese nationalism and militarism and “state capitalism” that was proposed by a number of contemporary political philosophers and thinkers in Japan. This statist movement dominated Japanese politics during the first part of the Shōwa period, during the reign of Hirohito.

Hideki Tōjō (December 30, 1884 – December 23, 1948) was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan during most of World War II. Politically, Tōjō was a fascist, nationalist, and militarist. He had a sharp, legalistic mind capable of making quick decisions, and was nicknamed “Razor”.

Even before he became the Prime Minister of Japan, Hideki Tōjō had planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. When he assumed office on October 17, 1941, he put his plan into effect and attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941, and thereby initiated the war between Japan and the United States.

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It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.”


Myself 

 By T.V. Antony Raj

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Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, New York City)
Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum, New York City)

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Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterward, he was hungry.

The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

Jesus said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’

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Here, the tempter tries to utilize the cravings of the flesh, namely hunger as Jesus was starving.

For the Roman Catholics, the definition of Lent varies according to different documents.

The official document on the Lenten season, Paschales Solemnitatis, says: “the first Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the annual Lenten observance” – representing a period of 40 days.

The Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar say: “The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive“, representing a period of 44 days.

Both the above-mentioned sources agree that Lent ends on the evening of Holy Thursday, before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Historically, the season of Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days when we count all the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the “Time of Lent”, but to reconcile this with the phrase “forty days of fasting“, they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence. It would be more accurate if we say “forty days fast within Lent.

In the traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality, a constituent part of repentance, of turning away from sin and back to God, includes some form of penance. The Catholic Church has specified certain forms of penance to ensure that the Catholic will do something as required by divine law while making it easy for them to fulfill the obligation. Thus, the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifies the obligations of Latin Rite Catholics.

Canon 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252: All who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence. All adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Canon 1253: It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

Thus, the Church has two forms of official penitential practices – three if the Eucharistic fast before Communion is included.

Abstinence

The law of abstinence requires all Catholics who are 14 years old and older to be bound by the law of abstinence until death to abstain from eating meat on all Fridays that are not Solemnities in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday.

Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl and moral theologians have traditionally forbidden the consumption of soups or gravies made from them.

Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal-derived products such as gelatin, butter, cheese, and eggs that do not have any taste of meat.

When solemnities, such as the Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints etc. fall on a Friday, Catholics do not abstain or fast.

During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory, and is considered a sin not to observe this discipline without a serious reason such as physical labor, pregnancy, sickness etc.

Fasting

The practice of fasting before Easter developed gradually, and with considerable diversity of practice regarding duration. In the latter part of the second century, there were differing opinions not only regarding the manner of the paschal fast, but also the proper time for keeping Easter.

In 331, St. Athanasius urged his flock to follow a period of forty days of fasting preliminary to, but not inclusive of, the stricter fast of Holy Week.

In 339, after having traveled to Rome and over the greater part of Europe, St. Athanasius wrote in the strongest terms to urge this observance of fasting upon the people of Alexandria as one that was universally practiced, “to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing-stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days”.

During the time of Gregory the Great (590–604), there were apparently at Rome six weeks of six days each, making thirty-six fast days in all. St. Gregory describes the thirty-six fast as the spiritual tithing of the year, since thirty-six days being approximately the tenth part of three hundred and sixty-five. At a later date the wish to realize the exact number of forty days led to the practice of beginning Lent on Ash Wednesday.

The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this reduction in intake of food as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity.

Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by consuming drinks which could be considered food.

People excused from fast or abstinence

Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

Aside from these minimum penitential requirements, Catholics are encouraged to impose some personal penance on themselves at other times. It could be modeled after abstinence and fasting. For example, a person could multiply the number of days they abstain. Some people give up meat entirely for religious motives (as opposed to those who give it up for health or other motives).

Some religious orders, as a penance, never eat meat.

The early Church had a practice of a Wednesday and Saturday fast. This fast could be the same as the Church’s law (one main meal and two smaller ones) or stricter, even bread and water. Such freely chosen fasting could also consist in giving up something one enjoys such as chocolates, candy, soft drinks, smoking, the cocktail before supper, and so on. This is left to the discretion of the individual.

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Was Adolf Hitler a Homosexual?


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

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A subject of historical and scholarly debate is the sexuality of Adolf Hitler.

Though the Nazi Party opposed homosexuality and persecuted homosexuals, some historians argue that Hitler himself was a homosexual. The assertions of Hitler’s active or latent homosexuality, are not new. Many biographies of Hitler mention it. The accusations dogged Hitler during his rise to power and even after he gained it.

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Lothar Machtan, author of The Hidden Hitler. (Source: wikipedia.com)
Lothar Machtan, author of The Hidden Hitler. (Source: wikipedia.com)

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In the book, “Hitlers Geheimnis. Das Doppelleben eines Diktators” (“Hitler’s Secret: The Double Life of a Dictator“) published in 2001, German-Jewish professor and historian Dr. Lothar Machtan argues that Hitler was homosexual. John Maxwell Brownjohn has translated the book into English titled “The Hidden Hitler.” Though he acknowledges that some of the evidence is only circumstantial, this legacy of assertions and speculations is historical evidence.

Machtan teaches history at the University of Bremen in Germany. He suggests that in 1908 Hitler probably had a gay relationship with his friend August Kubizek, with whom he lived in Vienna; that during World War I, Hitler had a conspicuous sexual affair with a fellow soldier; that after the war he may have had homosexual contacts with young men in Munich; and that he may have engaged in homosexual activities right up to his assumption of political power in 1933. Machtan speculates on Hitler’s experiences in Vienna with young friends, his adult relationships with Ernst Röhm, Ernst Hanfstaengl and Emil Maurice. Machtan speculates on Hitler’s experiences in Vienna with young friends, his adult relationships with Ernst Röhm, Ernst Hanfstaengl and Emil Maurice.

Machtan further suggests that Hitler’s opposition to homosexuality and persecution of homosexuals while in power was not to rid himself of a political or military threat but to expunge potentially damaging evidence of his homosexual past. He accomplished it by silencing or eliminating the people who might reveal “disreputable secrets” of his ingrained homosexuality. For example, Hitler ordered the killing of Ernst Röhm, an affirmed and well-known homosexual among many others. Röhm was his longtime colleague and head of the SA paramilitary organization.

Machtan states that many documents have been dismissed or ignored without any grounds. One such main document is the so-called “Mend Protocol.” It is a statement made in 1939 by Hans Mend, a dispatch rider who had served with Hitler during World War I.

Hans Mend joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) before it came to power. In 1931, the NSDAP owned Huber Verlag. It published a book authored by Hans Mend titled “Adolf Hitler im Felde 1914-1918.” Mend wrote:

“In this book, I want to give the German people true and unvarnished information about Adolf Hitler as a front-line soldier. As a comrade I had many opportunities to hear his pronouncements on the war, witness his bravery, and became acquainted with his brilliant traits of character… I aim to prove that he was just the same in the field as he is today; courageous, fearless, outstanding… Everyone who knew him in the field had to admit that he was a model front-line soldier… who… as a combat orderly in static warfare performed super-human feats in a dangerous and responsible position.”as a combat orderly in static warfare performed super-human feats in a dangerous and responsible position.”

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Ernst Schmidt and Adolf Hitler (c. 1933). (Source: spartacus-educational.com)
Ernst Schmidt and Adolf Hitler (c. 1933). (Source: spartacus-educational.com)

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In December 1939, when Friedrich Alfred Schmid Noerr, a member of the German Resistance,  interviewed him, Mend told a different story than the one that appeared in his book. Mend claimed that Hitler had a homosexual relationship with Ernst Schmidt:

“We noticed that he never looked at a woman. We suspected him of homosexuality right away, because he was known to be abnormal in any case. He was extremely eccentric and displayed womanish characteristics which tended in that direction. He never had a firm objective, nor any kind of firm beliefs. In 1915 we were billeted in the Le Febre brewery at Fournes. We slept in the hay. Hitler was bedded down at night with Ernst Schmidt, his male whore. We heard a rustling in the hay. Then someone switched on his electric flashlight and growled, Take a look at those two nancy boys. I myself took no further interest in the matter.”

Schmidt was a dispatch-runner along with Hitler. In his book Machtan has pointed out:

“Employed as regimental runners, they jointly delivered one message with such efficiency – or so we are told – that from November 1914 on they were permanently assigned to regimental headquarters as so-called combat orderlies. As such, they had more freedom within the military hierarchy than other enlisted men… They were invariably to be seen as a couple, not only when jointly delivering regimental orders to brigade or battalion, but off duty behind the lines.”

Machtan also cites the notes left by Eugen Dollmann, German Diplomat and a member of the SS. Dollmann wrote that he had heard Otto von Lossow, a Reichswehr General in Munich after World War I, read from what Lossow claimed was a police file containing statements by young boys in Munich. Those boys, according to Lossow, said that Hitler had paid them to spend the night with him.

In 1943 the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) received a commissioned report titled “A Psychological Analysis of Adolf Hitler: His Life and Legend,” written by Walter C. Langer assisted by other leading psychoanalysts. The report was to help the Allies understand Adolf Hitler. According to that report Hitler was an impotent coprophile – one who gets sexual pleasure out of playing with excrement.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 13: What Happened to Hitler’s Body?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The surrender of Berlin

Hans Krebs (Wehrmacht General)
Hans Krebs (Wehrmacht General)

General Wilhelm Burgdorf
General Wilhelm Burgdorf, Chief Adjutant to Hitle

Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle
SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle

Some of the SS personnel, who did not join any of the breakout groups, opted to commit suicide. General Hans Krebs, Deputy Chief of the Army General Staff, and General Wilhelm Burgdorf, the Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler, along with SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Franz Schädle of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, stayed behind.

Since the field hospital in the Reich Chancellery above needed power and water, Johannes Hentschel, the master electro-mechanic for the bunker complex, opted to stay even after everyone else had either left or committed suicide.

General Helmuth Weidling and other German generals in captivity, Berlin, Germany, on May 2, 1945. (Source: ww2db.com)
General Helmuth Weidling and other German generals in captivity, Berlin, Germany, on May 2, 1945. (Source: ww2db.com)

At 6 am, on May 2, 1945, General Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army.

Around 9 am,, the first Russian combat troops arrived at the bunker complex unopposed. They were followed by the Russian search teams of “SMERSH”, equivalent of CIC of the Allieds.

SMERSH (acronym of Spetsyalnye MEtody Razoblacheniya SHpyonov or Special Methods of Spy Detection, but also referred to as SMERt‘ SHpionam; “Death to spies”) was an umbrella name for three independent counterintelligence agencies in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943.

The Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) abbreviated НКВД (NKVD) soldiers captured more than 50 officers and men who were still there in the bunker complex, including Johannes Hentschel. Then they found out that the bulk of the Reich Chancellery group had decamped during the night.

Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Klimenko, the leader of one of the search teams found the cadaverous remains of the partly burnt corpses of the Goebbels and filmed them. He immediately sent the remains to the Russians headquarters in Berlin’s Plötzensee Prison.

Hitler’s Double

Another search team found an old oak water tank which contained many dead bodies. They pulled out a particular body that resembled Hitler.

Click on the image to see the video titled "Gustav Weler body (Hitler´s double) - Berlin 1945."
Click on the image to see the video titled “Gustav Weler body (Hitler´s double) – Berlin 1945.”

The dead man was one of Hitler’s doubles, named Gustav Weler. The Russians mistakenly believed the body to be that of Hitler because of his identical moustache and haircut. They photographed and filmed the dead body of was Weler.

The security personnel in the bunker, responsible for Hitler’s safety, may have had Gustav Weler, a doppelgänger or Body-double of Adolf Hitler, to camouflage and help Hitler escape, if Hitler decided to take part in a breakout. But, after Hitler’s death, they would have realized that any double if found would be an embarrassment, and therefore disposed him by shooting in the forehead, in an attempt to confuse the Russian troops.

Gustav Weler’s body was taken to Lefortovo prison in Moscow, for further investigations, and was laid to rest in its yard.

When Ivan Klimenko returned to the bunker the next day, May 3, 1945, he found the body resembling Hitler, displayed prominently in the main hall of the Reich Chancellery. Ignoring the darned socks, worn by the dead man, Klimenko assumed the crucial problem of finding Hitler dead or alive had been solved.

Then probing inside the darkened bunker the Russians found the bodies of many Germans who had committed suicide, including that of General Hans Krebs. The bodies of General Wilhelm Burgdorf and SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle were never found.

Bodies of the six Goebbels children, who were poisoned by their parents (Source: imgur.com)
Bodies of the six Goebbels children, who were poisoned by their parents (Source: imgur.com)

The Russians then discovered the bodies of the six Goebbels children lying in their beds in the Vorbunker. They were wearing white nightclothes with the clear mark of cyanide shown on their faces. According to the autopsy the Russians carried out, bruising on the face of 12-year-old Helga Goebbels indicated that she was forced to ingest cyanide.

Finding Hitler’s body

On the following day, May 4, 1945, Ivan Churakov, a Russian soldier, climbed into a nearby bomb crater strewn with burned paper. He saw some partly burnt furry object and he hollered, “Comrade Lieutenant Colonel, there are legs here.

They started to dig and pulled from the crater two dead dogs, and digging further they found the burnt bodies of a man and a woman. At first Klimenko did not even think that the two burnt corpses might be that of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Since he believed that Hitler’s corpse was already displayed prominently in the Chancellery and only needed to be positively identified, he therefore ordered the newly discovered burnt cadavers to be wrapped in blankets and reburied.

On Saturday, May 5, 1945, Comrade Klimenko while pondering over his finding the burnt bodies of a man and a woman from the burnt crater rushed back and exhumed the two bodies. He transported both bodies to Plötzensee Prison. There he was ordered to send them on to the 496th Field Hospital in Buch, a German locality within the Berlin borough of Pankow.

On May 8, 1945, the Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), the first preliminary forensic autopsy was performed on both bodies. Positive identification took place in a very simple yet quite foolproof.

A few days later, the Russians moved Hitler’s body to a different gravesite outside Berlin. This would be just one of several moves the corpse would make in the next few decades.

In early June 1945, the Russians re-buried the body of dead male identified as that of Hitler, in a forest near the town of Rathenau. Eight months later, they moved it again, to the SMERSH facility in the Soviet Army garrison in Magdeburg on February 21, 1946.

Soviet leaders were quite worried about leaving Hitler’s body in the garrison or burying it somewhere away from their watchful eye. They feared Hitler’s gravesite would eventually turn into a shrine for neo-Nazis.

Hitler’s body remained in Magdeburg until March 1970, when the Soviets decided to abandon the garrison and turn it over to the East German civilian government.

KGB director Yuri Andropov decided that Hitler’s remains should be destroyed. He authorized an operation to dispose the body. The KGB kept the fragments of a jawbone and skull, and stored it in government buildings in Moscow.

Yuri Andropov selected a KGB officer Vladimir Gumenyuk to pick a secret final resting place for Hitler’s remains. Armed with a secret coordinate to the last burial spot in the Soviet Army garrison in Magdeburg, Gumenyuk led a three-man team to dig out the remains and take them away for destruction.

Since the Soviet garrison was surrounded by German-built high-rise buildings in Magdeburg, to avoid being seen, Gumenyuk’s men pitched a tent over the spot where the bones had been buried. After some digging with no results, the team realized they had counted 45 meters instead of 45 paces while following the directions to the corpse. They put the dirt back, and moved the tent to the correct spot measuring in paces.

After securing the remains, Gumenyuk’s team disguised themselves as fishermen and drove to the mountains. They stopped along a small stream. There, they lit two campfires. One to make soup and the other to burn the remains further and turn them to ashes.

A general view of what Russian officials claim to be a fragment of Adolf Hitler's skull, at an exhibition in Moscow, Wed April 26, 2000.  (Photograph: Mikhail Metzel-AP)
A general view of what Russian officials claim to be a fragment of Adolf Hitler’s skull, at an exhibition in Moscow, Wed April 26, 2000. (Photograph: Mikhail Metzel-AP)

On September 26, 2009, the History Channel aired a documentary called Hitler’s Escape. For the making of the film, Connecticut archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni flew to Moscow to inspect the Hitler trophies at the Russian State Archive which included the skull fragment with a bullet hole through it, which the Russians dug up outside the Führerbunker in 1946, as well as bloodstains from the bunker sofa on which Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were believed to have committed suicide. The Russian government has been publicly claiming since 2000 that these articles belonged to Hitler.

Bellatoni said:

“I had the reference photos the Soviets took of the sofa in 1945 and I was seeing the exact same stains on the fragments of wood and fabric in front of me, so I knew I was working with the real thing.” (sic)

Examination of the skull by Bellantoni revealed it belonged to a young woman and not that of the 56-year-old dictator. “The bone seemed very thin. Male bone tends to be more robust,” he said. “And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40.”

Bellantoni applied cotton swabs and took samples for DNA tests during the one hour he was allowed with the Hitler trove. The swabs were then flown back to Connecticut. At the university’s Centre for Applied Genetics, Linda Strausbaugh, worked for three days on the samples sent by Bellatoni. “We used the same routines and controls that would have been used in a crime lab,” she said.

The DNA analysis revealed that the skull undoubtedly belonged to a female, and the only positive physical proof that Hitler had shot himself had suddenly been rendered worthless. The result of the DNA analysis reopened the mystery surrounding Hitler’s death.

If Hitler allegedly shot himself in the right temple, then why did the Russians exhibit what is claimed to be Hitler’s cranium, showing a bullet hole in the back of his head?

Russian officials, however, rejected the findings of Nick Bellantoni.

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← Previous – Part 12: The Breakout by Martin Bormann

Next → Part 14: The Fate of the Three Messengers

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 10: Announcement of Hitler’s death to the outside world


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, Reichspräsident (President of the Reich) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, Reichspräsident (President of the Reich) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Großadmiral Karl Dönitz had left the Führerbunker on April 21, 1945. He was in a remote hideout at Plön, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. He received the following message from Martin Bormann:

The Führer has appointed you, Herr Admiral, as his successor in place of Reichsmarschall Göring. Confirmation in writing  follows. You are hereby authorized to take any measures which the situation demands. — Bormann.”

This surprised Dönitz. In his memoirs, he describes his reactions:

… This took me completely by surprise. Since July 20, 1944, I had not spoken to Hitler at all except at some large gathering. … I had never received any hint on the subject from anyone else…. I assumed that Hitler had nominated me because he wished to clear the way to enable an officer of the Armed Forces to put an end to the war. That this assumption was incorrect, I did not find out until the winter of 1945-46 in Nuremberg, when for the first time I heard the provisions of Hitler’s will…. When I read the signal I did not for a moment doubt that it was my duty to accept the task it had been my constant fear that the absence of any central authority would lead to chaos and the senseless and purposeless sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of lives I realized that the darkest moment in any fighting man’s life, the moment when he must surrender unconditionally, was at hand. I realized, too, that my name would remain forever associated with the act and that hatred and distortion of facts would continue to try and besmirch my honor. But duty demanded that I pay no attention to any such considerations. My policy was simple — to try and save as many lives as I could ...

On the morning of May 1, 1945, Dönitz received the following radio message, classified as “Secret and Personal,” from Bormann:

[Hitler’s] Will now in force. Coming to you as quickly as possible. Pending my arrival you should in my opinion refrain from public statement.

On perusing this message, Dönitz presumed that Hitler was dead, but knew not how. The public had to be told of the Führer’s death expressed in respectful terms:

… To denigrate him as, I felt, many around me would have liked me to do, would, in my opinion, have been a mean and cheap thing to do I believed that decency demanded that I should word my announcement in the manner in which it was, in fact, worded. Nor, I think, would I do otherwise today…

The same day, Dönitz received a third and final radio message from the Berlin chancellery classified as “Personal and Secret” but signed this time by Goebbels and Bormann:

Führer died yesterday, 1530 hours. In his will dated April 29 he appoints you as President of the Reich, Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, Bormann as Party Minister, Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. The will, by order of the Führer, is being sent to you and to Field Marshal Schoerner and out of Berlin for safe custody. Bormann will try to reach you today to explain the situation. Form and timing of announcement to the Armed Forces and the public is left to your discretion. Acknowledge.

 Then the voice of Großadmiral Karl Dönitz, named by Hitler in his political testament as his successor with the title of Reichspräsident, was relayed from his remote hideout in North Germany. He said:

German men and women, soldiers of the armed forces: Our Führer, Adolf Hitler, has fallen. In the deepest sorrow and respect the German people bow.

At an early date he had recognized the frightful danger of Bolshevism and dedicated his existence to this struggle. At the end of his struggle, of his unswerving straight road of life, stands his hero’s death in the capital of the German Reich. His life has been one single service for Germany. His activity in the fight against the Bolshevik storm flood concerned not only Europe, but the entire civilized world.

Der Führer has appointed me to be his successor.

Fully conscious of the responsibility, I take over the leadership of the German people at this fateful hour.

It is my first task to save Germany from destruction by the advancing Bolshevist enemy. For this aim alone the military struggle continues. As far and for so long as achievement of this aim is impeded by the British and the Americans, we shall be forced to carry on our defensive fight against them as well. Under such conditions, however, the Anglo-Americans will continue the war not for their own people, but solely for the spreading of Bolshevism in Europe.

What the German people have achieved in battle and borne in the homeland during the struggle of this war is unique in history. In the coming time of need and crisis of our people I shall endeavor to establish tolerable conditions of living for our women, men and children so far as this lies in my power.

For all this, I need your help. Give me your confidence because your road is mine as well. Maintain order and discipline in town and country. Let everybody do his duty at his own post. Only thus shall we mitigate the sufferings that the coming time will bring to each of us; only thus shall we be able to prevent a collapse. If we do all that is in our power, God will not forsake us after so much suffering and sacrifice.

 Even as he announced the death of Adolf Hitler, Dönitz was not aware of the suicide of Joesph Goebbels and his wife, and the murder of their children.

Front page of the U.S. Armed Forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes, 2 May 1945. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Front page of the U.S. Armed Forces newspaper, Stars and Stripes, 2 May 1945. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Dönitz then authorized a withdrawal of the German forces to the west hoping to save the army and the nation by negotiating a partial surrender to the allied forces. This move enabled about 1.8 million German soldiers to avoid capture by the Soviets. However, the troops continued to fight until May 8, 1945.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 12: The Breakout by Martin Bormann


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On May 1, 1945, around 11:00 pm, Martin Bormann left the Führerbunker in one of the ten breakout groups that included Adolf Hitler’s personal surgeon Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann, Hitler’s pilot Hans Baur, Erich Kempka and Werner Naumann, State Secretary in Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Martin Bormann - Hitler's private secretary
Martin Bormann – Hitler’s private secretary

Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler's personal surgeon.
Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler’s personal surgeon.

Artur Axmann, leader of the Hitler Youth (Reichsjugendführer)
Artur Axmann, leader of the Hitler Youth (Reichsjugendführer)

They made their way north along the Friedrichstrasse to the Weidendammer Bridge, which was under heavy Russian fire and blocked by an anti-tank barrier at its north end. So, they withdrew to the south end of the bridge where a few German tanks soon gathered.

A Tiger B (Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B) tank spearheaded the first attempt to storm across the bridge, but it was destroyed by the Soviet artillery. The violent explosion stunned Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Baur; and the bright flash almost blinded Kempka. Hans Baur was left with gunpowder burns that remained in his pores for many months. Baur then rejoined Bormann, Stumpfegger and Axmann at a ruined tenement. He crawled up the stairs and through a window counted around 20 Russian soldiers in the courtyard and reported to Bormann, and they moved on.

The German tanks made two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00 am, Bormann’s group using the tanks as their shield managed to cross the bridge and pressed forward as far as the Ziegelstrasse, but retreated back to the Weidendammer Bridge.

Realizing they were not going to move ahead as a group, Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann left the rest of their group and walked along the railway tracks towards Lehrter station.

On reaching the station, Bormann and Stumpfegger decided to go east on Invalidestrasse and Axmann decided to go alone in the opposite direction of his two companions.

When Axmann came across a Soviet patrol, he hurried back to catch up with Bormann and Stumpfegger. Axmann was stunned when he saw the dead bodies of Bormann and Stumpfegger near the railroad switching yard. He knew it was them because he saw their faces clearly under moonlight. He could see no signs of an explosion. He did not have time to check the bodies. So, he did not know how they died. He assumed that they had been shot in the back. Axmann avoided capture by Soviet troops and disappeared from Berlin.

After Bormann, Stumpfegger, and Axmann left him at the Weidendammer Bridge, Hans Baur was shot in the legs. Gangrene set in and his right lower leg was amputated later in Posen on June 10, 1945.

The breakout by others

Otto Günsche left the Führerbunker after midnight on May 1, 1945. He was captured by Soviet troops encircling the city on May 2, 1945 and was flown to Moscow for interrogation by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs).

The last courier of the Hitler, the 17-year-old Hitler Youth, Armin Lehmann, mislead to the end, until the suicides of the top Nazis, caught him off guard. After hiding in cellars and disused buildings, he succeeded in reaching the American Occupation Zone two months later. He realized that he was just a minor figure in the grand scheme of things placed in a critical location at a critical time.

SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Georg Betz left the Reich Chancellery as part of one of the groups attempting to break out. By midnight Betz was part of a large group of German soldiers and civilians who crossed the Weidendammer Bridge that was under heavy fire from Soviet tanks and guns. Betz was wounded during the crossing.

Heinz Linge, valet of Adolf Hitler, was one of the last to leave the Führerbunker in the early morning hours of May 2, 1945. He teamed up with Hitler’s chauffeur SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Erich Kempka. They left the bunker complex on the night of May 1, 1945, along with one of the SS-Hauptscharführer Heinrich Doose, a driver who was a member of his staff. During their escape, they came across the wounded Betz and left him in the care of Kaethe Hausermann, but Betz succumbed to his wounds the following day.

Linge got separated from Kempka and was captured near Seestraße station. Several days later, after his identity was revealed, two Russian officers escorted Linge by train to Moscow, where he was thrown into the notorious Lubjanka Prison.

Rochus Misch, bodyguard, courier, telephone operator and attendant of Adolf Hitler, fled the bunker on May 2, 1945, only hours before the Red Army seized it. He was captured by the Russians shortly thereafter. Misch was sent to the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, where he was tortured in an attempt to extract information regarding Hitler’s exact fate because the Soviets did not believe Hitler was dead.

The surrender of Berlin

In the early morning of May 2, 1945, the Soviets captured the Reich Chancellery.

General Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defense Area, unconditionally surrendered the city to General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army at 6 am.

Hans Krebs (Wehrmacht General)
Hans Krebs (Wehrmacht General)

General Wilhelm Burgdorf
General Wilhelm Burgdorf, Chief Adjutant to Hitle

Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle
SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle

Some of the SS personnel, opted to commit suicide. General Hans Krebs and General Wilhelm Burgdorf, along with SS SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Franz Schädle of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, stayed behind.

In the early morning hours of May 2, 1945, the trio committed suicide by gunshot to the head.

Johannes Hentschel, the master electro-mechanic for the bunker complex, stayed after everyone else had either left or committed suicide as the field hospital in the Reich Chancellery above needed power and water. He surrendered to the Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) abbreviated НКВД (NKVD) search teams that entered the bunker complex at 09:00 am on May 2, 1945.

The NKVD soldiers captured more than 50 officers and men who were still there in the bunker complex and found out that the bulk of the Reich Chancellery group had decamped during the night and did not know where they were.

They saw the macabre remains of the partly burnt corpses of the Goebbels and filmed them. Then inside the bunker they found the bodies of many Germans who had committed suicide including that of General Hans Krebs, General Wilhelm Burgdorf, and SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle.

Bodies of the six Goebbels children, who were poisoned by their parents (Source: imgur.com)
Bodies of the six Goebbels children, who were poisoned by their parents (Source: imgur.com)

The Russians discovered the bodies of the Goebbels’ six children only on May 3, 1945. They were lying in their beds in the Vorbunker, wearing white nightclothes with the clear mark of cyanide shown on their faces. According to the autopsy the Russians carried out, bruising on the face of 12-year-old Helga Goebbels indicated that cyanide was administered to her forcibly.

A few days later, Hans-Erich Voss captured by the Russians and brought back to the bunker identified the partly burned bodies of Joseph and Magda Goebbels and the bodies of their children.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 14: The Fate of the Three Messengers


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the early morning of April 29, 1945, while the Red Army closed in on the Reichstag building, Hitler after his wedding ceremony, retired to a room with Traudl Junge, his youngest private secretary, and dictated in a hurry, his last Testaments: a Private Testament – a will (see Appendix A), and a Political Testament (see Appendix B).

Hitler ordered that three copies of these testaments to be taken out of the Führerbunker in the besieged city of Berlin by three messengers to ensure their presence for posterity.

Three officers: Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Chief Press Secretary Heinz Lorenz, Bormann’s adjutant SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander, and the last adjutant to Adolf Hitler Major Willy Johannmeyer, were chosen as messengers to hand-deliver these testaments to Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner in Czechoslovakia, Karl Dönitz in Schleswig-Holstein, and Paul Giesler in Tegernsee.

After the three messengers said their farewell to Hitler, Martin Bormann gave each of them a white dossier containing the testaments. Later that day, armed with automatic weapons, the trio left the besieged Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker. They escaped from Berlin, passing through Soviet lines without being captured.

The arrest of Heinz Lorenz

Heinz Lorenz, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief Press Secretary
Heinz Lorenz, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Chief Press Secretary

The British arrested Heinz Lorenz, traveling under alias as a journalist from Luxembourg, for possessing false identity papers. The documents were hidden in Lorenz’s coat-lining. After a lengthy process of interrogation, Lorenz finally confessed the truth.

Lorenz  revealed the existence of two more copies smuggled out of the Führerbunker, and the names of the other two messengers as SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander, and Major Willy Johannmeyer.  He told the British interrogators that they left the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker on April 29, 1945, after receiving a set of documents each.

The next problem that faced the interrogators was how to pursue the two absconding messengers, and find out whether they still had the documents with them.

The arrest of Major Willy Johannmeyer

Major Willy Johannmeyer, the last adjutant to Adolf Hitler.
Major Willy Johannmeyer, the last adjutant to Adolf Hitler.

Major Willy Johannmeyer was found living quietly under his own name in his hometown of Iserlohn. He was a straightforward soldier of unconditional loyalties to his Führer and courageous. He firmly asserted and almost convinced his interrogators that he was merely sent as a military escort to the other two, to guide them through the Russian lines.

Eventually, under pressure Johannmeyer coughed up: “Ich habe die Papiere”. Then, he led his interrogators to a corner of his garden, dug up a bottle containing Hitler’s political testament and a covering note from Burgdorf to Schoerner.

The arrest of SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander

Hans Arnold Wangersheim was born in Nuremberg on July 25, 1924. His parents divorced when he was six years old, and he was put in a Jewish orphanage.

On 9–10 November 1938, a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and Austria was carried out by SA paramilitary forces and non-Jewish civilians while the German authorities looked on without intervening. This series of coordinated attacks is referred to as Kristallnacht (English: “Crystal Night”), also known as Reichskristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass as the result of the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows smashed.

The pretext for the attacks was the assassination on November 9, 1938, of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old German-born Polish Jew living in the French capital.

On November 15, 1938, five days after the Kristallnacht in Germany and Austria, a delegation of British Jewish and Quaker leaders appealed to Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. They requested the British government to permit temporary admission of unaccompanied Jewish children into Britain, without their parents.

The Kindertransport (children transport), a rescue mission was born. In the months between the Kristallnacht Pogrom to the start of World War II, nearly 10,000 children were sent, without their parents, out of Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Free City of Danzig, to safety in Great Britain. These children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms. Often they were the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust. A similar, but a much less organized effort to transport unaccompanied children, mostly Jewish, to the United States was known as the One Thousand Children (OTC). The program brought about 1,400 children aged between 14 months and 16 years to the United States.

In 1938, about a year before the Second World War began, Arnold Wangersheim was rescued by a Jewish social service organization.

Arnold was 13 when he arrived in the United States, with only a cardboard suitcase and $5 cash. He did not know anyone in America, nor knew a single word of English. Eventually, he was placed with a family that owned a jewelry store in Janesville, Wisconsin. He changed his surname “Wangersheim” to “Weiss” – a name he borrowed from Howard Weiss, a Wisconsin football star and was known as Arnold Hans Weiss thereafter.

Arnold Hans Weiss in 1945
Arnold Hans Weiss in 1945

He studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison before joining the Army. In the Army, Weiss trained as a tail gunner until a crash landing broke both his legs. During his recuperation, since he spoke German, he was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II intelligence service, the precursor of the CIA.

In 1945, in the months following the fall of Nazi Germany, the 21-year-old Weiss was back in Germany as a U.S. military intelligence officer in the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC).

Weiss’s unit was given the responsibility of confirming Adolf Hitler’s death because there were endless rumors that Hitler was still alive. Since Berlin was part of the Russian zone, and no witness and neither the body of Hitler nor of Eva Braun had been produced by the Soviets, many Germans refused to believe the Fuhrer was dead. However, Weiss and his unit were certain that he had committed suicide in his bunker. Weiss questioned many members of the Nazi hierarchy in advance of their trials.

The British and the Americans believed that Martin Bormann, the highest-ranking Nazi, the Brown Eminence, the Nazi Party secretary and Hitler’s gatekeeper was still on the loose. If anyone knew what had really happened to Hitler, then it would none other than Bormann. Weiss vaguely remembered that his adjutant Wilhelm Zander hailed from Munich and was still unaccounted for. So, Weiss surmised that there was a good chance that Zander had been in the Führerbunker just before the Red Army stormed it and might know where his boss, Bormann, was hiding. So, Weiss referred the Munich phone book and found several Zanders listed in it.

He rounded up Zander’s mother and sister. They seemed just ordinary people. They insisted that Zander had done nothing wrong. Eventually, he found out from them that the 34-year-old Zander had a young 21-year-old girlfriend in Munich and lived with her parents.

Weiss had Zandeer’s girlfriend arrested. He lodged her in a large jail, on the outskirts of Munich which housed common criminals.  There, he let her sit alone in a cell to ponder over her fate. After two days, she was ready to talk. She said she saw Zander six weeks earlier and that he was working as a farmhand for someone named Irmgard Unterholzener in a village not too far from Munich called Tegernsee. She also told Weiss that Zander was using the alias “Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin“.

Hugh Trevor-Roper, British intelligence officer and historian (1950)
Hugh Trevor-Roper, British intelligence officer and historian (1950)

 Weiss immediately sent a coded communique to CIC headquarters in Frankfurt. The U.S. intelligence notified British Intelligence, which dispatched its lead investigator Hugh Trevor-Roper, to join Weiss in the chase.

In November 1945, Trevor-Roper, the British intelligence officer and historian who wrote “The Last Days of Hitler,” was ordered by Dick White, then head of counterintelligence in the British sector of Berlin to investigate the circumstances of Adolf Hitler’s death, and to rebut the Soviet propaganda that Hitler was alive and living in the West.

Weiss and Trevor-Roper made hasty arrangements to raid the farmhouse, but by the time they arrived, Zander had vanished. For the next three weeks, Weiss chased down blind leads without luck. Then, just before Christmas, Weiss got a call from the CIC field office in Munsingen, Germany. A Paustin had registered for a residence permit.

Weiss, Trevor-Roper and a junior American CIC Special Agent Rosener, along with several MPs reached the old stone building where Zander was hiding before 4 am on Christmas Eve.

As the MPs broke down the door, a shot rang out from the house. They found the startled Zander naked in bed with a woman, not the girlfriend Weiss had arrested earlier, and quickly overpowered him.

Arnold Weiss took part, largely as a translator, in the interrogation of Wilhelm Zander. Initially, the arrested person claimed that he was a victim of misidentification. They grilled him for 10 hours. They confronted him with all the facts of his life. Finally, Weiss said: “We have your mother and sister.” This was not true. Weiss had arrested only the girlfriend. But Zander didn’t know that and he solemnly accepted that he was SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander.

That same day Zander led Weiss and Trevor-Roper back to Tegernsee, where he had originally been hiding. He took them to a dry well at the back of the Unterholzener property, and he pointed down it. They retrieved a fake-leather suitcase lying at the bottom of the well. It contained Zander’s discarded SS uniform. But upon closer inspection, they found a hidden compartment and in it was a plain manila envelope containing the Mein privates Testament, the Mein politsches Testament and the marriage certificate of Hitler and Eva Braun, and a covering letter from Bormann to Doenitz.

 The documents were sent to the United States. In Washington, a forensic analysis of the paper and ink by the FBI confirmed their authenticity.

With that the last of the documents in the case was in the hands of the Allieds. Thus, one of the copies fell into the hands of the British while the other two copies of the documents ended up in the hands of the Americans.

By January 1946, the texts of these documents were published widely in the American and British press. However, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, considered restricting access to these documents. He feared they might become cult objects among the Germans. But the Americans did not share these concerns since they were already public knowledge, but nonetheless agreed to refrain from further publication of them.

Letter to President Truman from the Secretary of War ((Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Letter to President Truman from the Secretary of War ((Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)

Hitler’s political testament and his marriage certificate were presented to American President Harry S. Truman by the Secretary of War. One set was placed on public display at the National Archives in Washington for several years.

Thus, one of the copies fell into the hands of the British while the other two copies of the documents ended up in the hands of the Americans.

 

 Previous – Part 13: What Happened to Hitler’s Body?

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 11: The Breakout from the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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General Helmuth Weidling, defense commandant of Berlin.
General Helmuth Weidling, defense commandant of Berlin.

Although Hitler had appointed General Helmuth Weidling as the defense commandant of Berlin, SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke remained free of Weidling’s command to maintain his defense objectives of the Reich Chancellery and the Führerbunker. The aggregated total for the Berlin’s defense of General Weidling’s LVI Panzer Corps and the other few units, and Mohnke’s SS Kampfgruppe (combat group), totaled roughly 45,000 soldiers and 40,000 Volkssturm (people’s militia). They faced a superior number of Soviet soldiers. There were about 1.5 million Soviet troops allocated for the investment and the assault on the Berlin Defence Area.

After the death of the Führer the occupants of the Führerbunker were now free to make their escape from Berlin based on the orders issued by Hitler the day before he committed suicide along with his wife Eva Braun. Most planned was to escape from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or to the German Army to the North.

The breakout by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke’s group

Wilhelm Mohnke, SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS.
Wilhelm Mohnke, SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS.

Prior to the breakout, Wilhelm Mohnke briefed all commanders who could be reached within the Zitadelle sector about Hitler’s death and the planned break out. They split up into ten main groups. Mohnke, split up the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker soldiers and personnel into ten main groups.

Mohnke planned to break out towards the German Army which was positioned in Prinzenallee. His group included: secretary Traudl Junge, secretary Gerda Christian, secretary Else Krüger, Hitler’s dietician, Constanze Manziarly, Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, Walther Hewel and many others.

Before leaving the Führerbunker, Traudl Junge approached General Hans Krebs to say goodbye. Hans straightened up and smoothed his uniform before greeting her for the last time.

On the night of May 1, 1945, Mohnke led the group out of the Reich Chancellery. It was an apocalyptic moment for him because he had been the first duty officer of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) at the building and now was leaving it as its last battle commander.

As planned, the group headed along the subway, to the Friedrichstrasse station, but their route was blocked because of the flooding of the Berlin underground on April 28, 1945, to slow the advancing Soviet troops. So, they went above ground and found Berlin in flames, and Russian shells bursting everywhere around them.

At noon,  Wilhelm Mohnke’s group joined hundreds of other Germans, military and civilian, bent on seeking refuge at the “Schultheiss-Patzenhofer Brewery” on Prinzenallee. Although the brewery housed large air-raid shelters, it had hardly been hit by the enemy aircrafts and was unscathed.

There was a large courtyard, forming the center of the main building. The morale and discipline was deteriorating rapidly among the simple soldiers and lower ranks in the German army. Not certain of where the Russians were, the soldiers decided it was good a time as any to take a sunbath, on this sunny afternoon of Wednesday, May 2, 1945.

The Russians were not far-off. Having heard the news of the capitulation by the Germans, they were simply biding their time by prolonging the May Day celebrations of the day before.

General Mohnke mustered his senior officers for a last staff meeting. Most officers thought the Red Army would storm the brewery by nightfall. Mohnke decided to surrender to the Russians.

Around 2:30 pm, Mohnke along with a non-SS officer named Clausen, sought out the Russian general commanding the Wedding sector in Berlin. However, Mohnke returned soon, leaving Clausen to mediate.

Knowing that it was impossible to get through the Soviet cordons, Mohnke told the soldiers what the officers already knew — that Adolf Hitler was dead. But he did not tell them that Hitler committed suicide. He took upon himself the responsibility of telling all officers and men that their oath of allegiance was binding only up to the Führer’s death and advised them, to escape capture, at the first chance, even by changing into civilian clothes.

While many eagerly slipped out of the brewery that same afternoon, and headed north and west, some others had located stored kegs of beer; and drinking parties were in progress. Several hysterical women fleeing the invading Russians, threw modesty into thin air and flung themselves into the arms of startled and exhausted men and paved the way to group sex.

Most of the SS officers discreetly retreated into the cellar caverns of the brewery and spent a serene afternoon.

A while later, the Russians encircled the brewery and ordered those inside to surrender.

Mohnke turned to the women in his party and asked them to try to get out of Berlin and go north to Admiral Dönitz’s headquarters and give him a report he had in his hand. Gerda Christian, one of the secretaries of Hitler and two other women persuaded Traudl Junge to carry the report.

They were still about ten miles to the outskirts of Berlin. A Luftwaffe sergeant, a Berliner who knew his way around the city, volunteered to escort the women out of Berlin. The women took off their steel helmets, pistols and military jackets, shook hands with the men and left.

When the small group came out to the courtyard, they saw members of the Volkssturm who had already thrown down their weapons and surrendered. The Russian soldiers were handing out cigarettes and schnapps to them. The small group ambled through the crowd in the courtyard surrounded by victorious Russian soldiers as if they were invisible.

Led by the Luftwaffe sergeant, the women managed to slip out of Berlin. They reached the River Elbe that evening and hid overnight in the woods. They eventually made it to the west.

General Mohnke was captured by the Soviets on the morning of the following day, while hiding in a cellar off the Schönhauser Alle, one of the most important streets of the Prenzlauer Berg district.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 9: Suicide of Joseph Goebbels and His Wife


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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“For us, we have burnt our bridges. We cannot go back, but neither do we want to go back. We are forced to extremes and therefore resolved to proceed to extremes.”
– Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.

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Adolf Hitler with  Goebbels'  first daughter, Helga (born September 1, 1932), in Heiligendamm in 1933.
Adolf Hitler with Goebbels’ first daughter, Helga (born September 1, 1932), in Heiligendamm in 1933.

On May 1, 1945, after Hitler committed suicide, Joseph Goebbels looked very depressed. He 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 left for us is the one which Hitler chose. I will follow his example.

Though Hitler in his political testament had appointed Joseph Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, the latter considered it as an empty title. He knew that Karl Dönitz whose sole concern was to negotiate with the western Allies to save Germany from Soviet occupation, would not want a notorious figure like him to be the head of his government.

Even though Hitler had signed the order to allow a breakout from the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker on April 29, 1945, Goebbels told Vice-Admiral Hans-Erich Voss that he would not entertain the idea of either surrender to the Soviets or escape:

I was the Reich Minister of Propaganda and led the fiercest activity against the Soviet Union, for which they would never pardon me.”

Moreover, Goebbels could not escape because he was Berlin’s Defense Commissioner and he considered it would be disgraceful for him to abandon his post.

In the morning on May 1, 1945, Joseph Goebbels, in his official capacity as the new Chancellor, dictated a letter and ordered German General Hans Krebs, under a white flag, to deliver the letter to General Vasily Chuikov, commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanding the Soviet forces in central Berlin. In this letter, Goebbels informed Chuikov of Hitler’s death, and requested a ceasefire, hinting that the establishment of a National Socialist government hostile to Western plutocracy would be beneficial to the Soviet Union.When this request was rejected, Goebbels knew that further efforts were futile.

Shortly after, he dictated a postscript to Hitler’s testament:

The Führer has given orders for me, in case of a breakdown of defense of the Capital of the Reich, to leave Berlin and to participate as a leading member in a government appointed by him. For the first time in my life, I must categorically refuse to obey a command of the Führer. My wife and my children agree with this refusal. In any other case, I would feel myself… a dishonorable renegade and vile scoundrel for my entire further life, who would lose the esteem of himself along with the esteem of his people, both of which would have to form the requirement for further duty of my person in designing the future of the German Nation and the German Reich.

In the afternoon on May 1, 1945, before the start of the breakout from the Führerbunker, Vice-Admiral Hans-Erich Voss and about 10 generals and officers, went individually to Goebbels’s shelter to say goodbye, and asked Goebbels to join them. 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.”

Magda Goebbels bore six children to Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels between 1932 and 1940 – five daughters and one son. According to some writers the names of all the children began with ‘H’ as a tribute to Adolf Hitler, but there is no evidence to support this contention; rather, it supports that Magda’s ‘H’ naming was the idea of her first husband, Günther Quandt who named his other two children after his first wife beginning with ‘H’.

Magda and Joseph Goebbels hated each other, and were estranged for a long period since the husband blackmailed his wife emotionally. Their marriage was held together on Hitlers’s orders only.

The Goebbels sought the help of Helmut Kunz, an SS dentist, to kill their six children.

Magda Goebbels told her children that they needed an inoculation. According to Kunz’s testimony, he injected the children with morphine. Magda then put the children to bed. She then asked Kunz to help her give the children cyanide once they were asleep, but he refused. She then turned to one of Hitler’s doctors, Ludwig Stumpfegger. He helped her crush cyanide vials between the children’s teeth as they slept.

Around 8:15 pm, Goebbels and his wife left the Vorbunker and went up and out to the garden of the Reich Chancellery. They were followed by Goebbels’s adjutant, SS-Hauptsturmführer Günther Schwägermann. While Schwägermann was busy preparing the gasoline, Magda bit a vial of cyanide and, Goebbels shot her with a pistol, to make doubly sure that she died, before turning it on himself. Schwägermann ordered one of the soldiers to shoot Goebbels again because he was unable to do it himself.

The bodies of Joseph Goebbels and his wife were then burned in a shell crater, but owing to the lack of petrol, the burning was only partly effective. The remains were not buried.

The Goebbels family in 1942: (back row) Hildegard, Harald Quandt, Helga; (front row) Helmut, Hedwig, Magda,  Heidrun, Joseph and Holdine. (Source- Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1978-086-03-CC-BY-SA)
The Goebbels family in 1942: (back row) Hildegard, Harald Quandt, Helga; (front row) Helmut, Hedwig, Magda, Heidrun, Joseph and Holdine. (Source- Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1978-086-03-CC-BY-SA)

In the above manipulated vintage image, the visage of the uniformed Harald Quandt, stepson of Joseph Goebbels born to Magda Behrend Rietschel and Günther Quandt, was inserted and retouched. Actually Harald was away on military duties when the photo of the Goebbels family was taken. He was not present when his half-siblings were killed.  He was safe in Canada, incarcerated in a prisoner-of-war camp.

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 Previous –Part 8: Burning the Bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun

Next Part 10: Announcement of Hitler’s death to the outside world

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 8: Burning the Bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Kempka - Hitler's personal chauffeur
SS-Obersturmbannführer Erich Kempka – Hitler’s personal chauffeur

In 1936, when Hitler’s top driver suddenly died, SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant-colonel) Erich Kempka was appointed as Hitler’s personal chauffeur. He served as Adolf Hitler’s chauffeur until April, 1945. Hitler was particular in providing his drivers the best accommodation and food. He once said: “My drivers and pilots are my best friends! I entrust my life to these men!”

On April 30, 1945, around 3:45 pm, 1945, Kempka was in the underground garages. Hitler’s SS personal adjutant Otto Günsche, phoned him. His voice hoarse with excitement, he said: “I must have 200 litres of petrol immediately.”

At first Kempka thought it was a joke and told him it was out of the question. Günsche began shouting: “Petrol, Erich, petrol!”

“Why would you need 200 liters of petrol?” Kempka asked.

“I cannot tell you on the phone. But believe me, Erich, I simply must have it. Whatever it takes, it must be here right now at the exit to the Führer-bunker!” Günsche shouted back.

Kempka knew that the only source was the Berlin Zoo bunker, where the Nazis had buried a few thousand liters of petrol. But, he also knew that it would be certain death for his men to go there under bombardment. So, Kempka told Günsche: “Wait until at least 5 pm because the firing generally dies down a bit around then.”

“I cannot wait another hour. See how much you can collect from the damaged vehicles and send your men at once to the exit to the Führerbunker in the Chancellery garden. And, then come yourself immediately!” Gunsche ordered and hung up.

The concrete roof of the underground garages had caved in. Except for a few, most of the vehicles there were covered with masonry. Kempka ordered his men to siphon out whatever petrol they could find.

While a heavy Russian bombardment was in progress, Kempka returned to the Führerbunker. As he entered he saw Günsche leaving Hitler’s sitting room. His face was as white as chalk. Kempka hurried over to Günsche.

“For God’s sake, Otto, what is it?” Kempka asked.

Günsche went to the two outer doors with Kempka following hin and shut them. Then he turned and said: “The chief is dead.”

Kempka was shocked. He said: “How could that happen, Otto? I spoke to him only yesterday. He was healthy and calm.”

Gunsche raised his right arm, imitated holding a pistol with his fist and pointed to his mouth.

Hermann Karnau, an SS bodyguard of Hitler, saw four men, subordinates of Erich Kempka, arrive with gasoline cans outside the bunker, which they said was for the air conditioning system inside the bunker. Remembering the air conditioning system was fuelled by diesel, Karnau denied them entrance into the Führerbunker. When pressed he allowed one of the men to enter the bunker. The subordinate found Kempka and told him that he and his men had placed around 180 to 200 litres of petrol at the exit to the bunker. Kempka sent the man back to the surface.

At that time the door of Hitler’s sitting room opened and his SS valet Heinz Linge shouted desperately at Kempka: “The petrol, where is the petrol?”

Kempka replied: “It is in position.”

According to Erich Kempka, he saw the dead Führer in his study. Hitler had fallen across the table with the revolver in his hand and Eva sat at an angle beside him. She had taken poison. Her right arm was hanging over the side of the sofa and on the ground nearby was the pistol.

Linge returned to the sitting room. Seconds later the door opened again. Hitler’s doctor, Ludwig Stumpfegger, and Linge emerged carrying Hitler’s body wrapped in a blanket. Hitler’s face was covered as far as the bridge of his nose and his left arm was dangling out of the blanket.

Bormann followed with Eva in his arms, her head inclined backwards. Kempka took Eva’s body from Bormann. Her side was wet. Kempka assumed that she had also shot herself, but later Günsche told him that when Hitler’s body collapsed across the table it overturned a vase and the water flowed over Eva.

There were 20 steps up to the bunker exit. Halfway up, Kempka’s strength failed and he had to stop. Günsche hurried to help him and together they carried Eva’s body into the open.

It was around 5 pm. The Reich Chancellery was under siege. The Russian shells exploded all around them, sending fountains of sand and grit into the air.

LIFE correspondent Percy Knauth sifting through the dirt and debris in the shallow shell hole where the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were thought to have been burned after their suicides. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)
LIFE correspondent Percy Knauth sifting through the dirt and debris in the shallow shell hole where the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were thought to have been burned after their suicides. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

Stumpfegger and Linge placed Hitler’s body wrapped in the blanket on the ground in a shell crater about three metres from the bunker exit with his legs towards the bunker stairway. Günsche and Kempka placed Eva at an angle to her husband.

Kempka rushed back to the bunker exit. Panting, he seized a can of petrol. He came back and placed the can near the two bodies. As he was about to remove the cap of the petrol can, shells exploded close by, spattering them with earth and dust. So, all ran to the bunker entrance for cover. When the shelling died down, Günsche, Linge and Kempka poured petrol over the corpses. Goebbels, Bormann and Stumpfegger watched from the entrance to the bunker.

Kempka protested when someone suggested that they should ignite the bodies with a hand grenade. He saw a large piece of rag at the bunker exit.

“Get that cloth!” Kempka shouted.

Günsche tore the rag in half. Opening the petrol can Kempka soak the rag with petrol.

“A match!”, Kempka again shouted.

Goebbels took a box of matches from his pocket and handed it to him. Kempka lit the rag and lobbed it on the petrol-soaked corpses.

In seconds a bright flame flared up, accompanied by billowing black smoke. Slowly the fire nibbled at the corpses. For the last time, Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Heinz Linge, Otto Günsche, and Erich Kempka, stood at attention and gave the Hitler salute as they watched the two bodies burn.

Under the most difficult conditions, Kempka’s men supplied several hundred more litres of petrol and kept on pouring petrol over the burning corpses.

July 1947 photo of the rear entrance to the Führerbunker in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. (Source: Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-V04744,_Berlin,_Garten_der_zerstörte_Reichskanzlei)
July 1947 photo of the rear entrance to the Führerbunker in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. Hitler and Eva Braun were cremated in a shell hole in front of the emergency exit at left; the cone-shaped structure in the centre served as the exhaust, and as bomb shelter for the guards. (Source: Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-V04744,_Berlin,_Garten_der_zerstörte_Reichskanzlei)

After the flames had died, Heinz Linge touched the remains of the burnt bodies with his boot and a few scorched bones crumbled into dust. Later, along with Hermann Karnau and some other men the charred remains of the bodies were gathered up and interred in a shallow grave at the side of the house fronting the garages. They covered the grave with rubble and stamped on them.

Back inside the bunker everyone seemed to be relaxed. Now that the Führer was no more, they smoked without any inhibition because he had generally forbidden smoking in his presence.

Next, they collectively began plotting ways and means to flee from Berlin, avoiding capture by the Russians.

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 Previous – Part 7: Suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun

Next → Part 9: Suicide of Joseph Goebbels and His Wife

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