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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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 Previous – Part 11: The Breakout from the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker

Next 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 6: Preamble to Suicide


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj .

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

Sunday, April 29, 1945

On the forenoon of Sunday, April 29, 1945, Hitler received news of the execution of Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, by the Italian partisans. Mussolini was then hung upside down and thrown into the gutter.

By the afternoon, Soviet ground forces were about a mile away from the Führerbunker. Hitler immediately ordered his staff to be prepared to face the worst. He began sorting through his own papers and selected documents to be burned by his SS bodyguards.

Hitler then signed the order to allow those in the bunker to breakout. According to a version on record, Eva was overheard crying, “I would rather die here. I do not want to escape.

Late in the evening, General Hans Krebs contacted Alfred Jodl, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command) by radio:

“Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck’s spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General Rudolf Holste’s spearhead.”

Most of his staff left and headed south for the area around Berchtesgaden using a convoy of trucks and planes. Only a handful of Hitler’s personal staff remained, including Martin Bormann, the Goebbels family, SS and military aides, and two of Hitler’s secretaries.

Killing of the dogs

Hitler and Blondi
Hitler and Blondi

Hitler was very fond of Blondi, the seven-year-old female German Shepherd, gifted to him in 1941 by Martin Bormann, such that he let her sleep in his bedroom in the bunker during his final days. But Eva Braun did not share this affection because she preferred her two Scottish Terrier dogs named Negus and Stasi to Blondi. According to one of Hitler’s secretaries, Eva hated Blondi and was known to kick the dog under the dining table.

From 1944, Ludwig Stumpfegger, a German SS doctor was Adolf Hitler’s personal surgeon. He started working directly for Hitler in the Führerbunker under the direction of Dr. Theodor Morell.

After discovering that his Interior Minister Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate with the Allies, Hitler no longer trusted the SS. He wondered whether the cyanide capsules given to him by Ludwig Stumpfegger, the SS doctor, would be effective. So, Hitler, gave his physician, Werner Haase, the grim task of testing the cyanide capsules on his favorite dog, Blondi.

Here is an eyewitness account by Armin Lehmann, Hitler’s last youth courier, of what happened to Blondi:

That afternoon Hitler summoned Professor Werner Haase from the emergency hospital to the bunker to stage a dress rehearsal of his own suicide. Hitler no longer trusted the SS and he wanted an assurance that the poison capsules he had been provided with by the SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger actually worked. The guinea pig chosen for this experiment was his beloved Alsatian Blondi.

The dog was led into the toilets off the waiting-room at the foot of the steps to the upper bunker by Hitler’s dog attendant Sergeant Fritz Tornow. Inside, Tornow forced Blondi’s jaws open and crushed the capsule with pliers as Haase watched. The dog collapsed on the ground instantly and didn’t move.

Tornow was visibly upset. Hitler couldn’t bear to watch the scene himself. However, he entered the room shortly afterwards and, seeing the results for himself, departed without saying a word. Tornow was further mortified to be given the task of shooting Blondi’s four young puppies. The Goebbels children were understandably upset when their sprightly little playthings were wrenched from them.

Tornow took them up to the Chancellery Garden where they were put to death along with several other pets of the bunker inmates. Later, Hitler met the medical staff to thank them in the lower bunker. As Professor Schenck records in his memoirs, one of the nurses became hysterical.”

Three years after the war, Hitler’s air force aide Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven said: “Hitler was emotionless. He only wanted to know if it [cyanide] worked and it did.”

After the battle of Berlin, the dead body of Blondi was exhumed and photographed by the Soviets. In 2005, Hitler’s nurse, Erna Flegel, said that Blondi’s death had affected the people in the bunker more than Eva Braun’s suicide had.

According to a report commissioned by Stalin and based on eyewitness accounts, Hitler’s dog-handler, Sergeant Fritz Tornow, took Blondi’s pups from the arms of Joseph Goebbels’ children, who had been playing with them, and shot them in the garden above the bunker. Tornow then killed Eva Braun’s two Scottish Terrier dogs and his own dachshund by lethal injection.

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Previous – Part 5: Hitler’s Marriage and Last Testaments

Next → Part 7: Suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun

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