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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 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 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

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 7: Suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Around 2:30 am on April 30, 1945, the personal staff of Hitler assembled in the dining area. Hitler emerged from his private quarters. With glazed eyes, he went around the room shaking the hands of each staff member silently. Everyone in the room knew that the time had come. Hitler bade farewell to them.

After Hitler had retired back into his quarters, the officers and the staff members pondered over the significance of what  they had just witnessed. The great tension that prevailed in the past few days seemed to suddenly dissipate with the realization that Hitler was nearing the end of his days.

A few hours later Krebs received Alfred Jodl’s reply:

Firstly, Wenck’s spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue the attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste’s Corps on the defensive.

By dawn, Russian troops had reached Potsdamer Platz and the sounds of battle were all around. Russian shells were hitting the government district and the Reich Chancellery continuously. The streets around the Chancellery were just piles of rubble.

Hitler attended his last military situation conference in the Führerbunker.

Adolf Hitler asleep, next to Eva Braun - this photo was banned during Hitlers lifetime. (Source:  dailymail.co.uk)
Adolf Hitler asleep, next to Eva Braun – this photo was banned during Hitlers lifetime. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

At 2:00 pm Hitler and Eva sat down for their last lunch, a vegetarian meal as usual.

The Russians were now only a few blocks away from the Reich Chancellery. Hitler began making systematic preparations to commit suicide.

Hitler gave precise instructions for the disposal of his dead body. He ordered his adjutants to burn his corpse. He said: “I do not wish my corpse to be displayed after my death in a Russian panopticon like Lenin.

He gave his butler, Arthur Kannberg, gold and silver cigarette cases engraved with his name and said: “Look after these until we meet again.”

Shortly after 3:00 pm the personal staff of Hitler assembled in the bunker. Hitler and Eva emerged from their suite. They went around the room shaking hands of each staff member silently. Everyone in the room knew that the time had come.

Hitler gave poison capsules to his female secretaries to use if the Soviets stormed the bunker. He asked them to forgive him as he did not have better parting gifts to give them.

At 3:30 pm, the couple  bade farewell to their staff and retired to their private room, to carry out their decision to commit suicide.

Hitler and Eva carried a small box of cyanide capsules. He had two guns and she had one. After closing the door of their room, with his “Thousand-Year Reich” already in its death throes, Hitler and Eva bit into thin glass vials of cyanide. Hitler also shot himself in the head with a 7.65mm Walther pistol. Eva made no use of the revolver at her side, preferring to let the poison take its course.

Traudl Junge later wrote that while she was playing with the Goebbels children she heard gunshots:

Suddenly […] there is the sound of a [gun] shot, so loud, so close, that we all fall silent. It echoes on through all the rooms. ‘That was a direct hit,’ cried Helmut [Goebbels] with no idea how right he was.

Otto Günsche, Hitler's SS personal adjutant
Otto Günsche, Hitler’s SS adjutant

Heinz Linge, Hitler's SS valet.
Heinz Linge, Hitler’s SS valet.

Hearing a gunshot, Heinz Linge, Otto Günsche, and Martin Bormann, entered Hitler’s suite.

Author of the book “The Bunker“, James P. O’Donnell, a Signal Corps captain, and one of the first Americans to enter the bunker complex in July of 1945, investigated Adolf Hitler’s death from a journalistic perspective. He claimed that nobody heard the shot that killed Hitler as the double doors to Hitler’s study were thick enough to muzzle such a sound. He states that when he asked witnesses, who had been standing outside this door, they claimed they heard nothing; the people, who made the claim retracted their statements later saying that Allied interrogators pressured them into saying it; also some people who claim to have heard a shot were not even present at the scene.

Later, on October 25, 1956, in a courtroom in Berchtesgaden, the site of the Fuehrer’s mountaintop home in Bavaria, Heinz Linge recalled that he saw Hitler almost upright in a sitting position on a blood-soaked sofa. He said:

Hitler had his head bent forward somewhat and I could see a bullet hole on his right temple and a trickle of blood ran slowly down over his check.”

The pistol was on the floor where it had dropped from Hitler’s right hand. Eva Braun was lying on the sofa beside him, her lips puckered from the poison, with the unused revolver at her side. “It was as though she had fallen asleep ..“, Linge said.

Otto Günsche said:

Hitler sat on the arm of the sofa with his head hanging down on the right shoulder which was itself hanging limp over the back of the sofa. On the right side was the bullethole.

The pair testified that when they first entered Hitler’s study, Martin Bormann, was with them.

Later on, Rochus Misch, Hitler’s telephone operator, said that he peered through the door and saw Adolf Hitler had committed suicide.

Two weeks after the couple’s death, and when the battle for Berlin ended,William Vandivert, a 33-year-old LIFE photographer, was the first Western photographer to gain access to Hitler’s Führerbunker. Vandivert photographed the almost eerie scenes inside the unlit bunker and the room where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun killed themselves.

With only candles to light their way, war correspondents examine a couch stained with blood (see dark patch on the arm of the sofa) located inside Hitler's bunker. (Photograph: William Vandivert—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
With only candles to light their way, war correspondents examine a couch stained with blood (see dark patch on the arm of the sofa) located inside Hitler’s bunker. (Photograph: William Vandivert—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

In his typewritten notes to his editors in New York, Vandivert described in detail what he saw. For the above photograph published in LIFE magazine in July 1945, he wrote:

“Pix of [correspondents] looking at sofa where Hitler and Eva shot themselves. Note bloodstains on arm of soaf [sic] where Eva bled. She was seated at far end Hitler sat in middle and fell forward, did not bleed on sofa. This is in Hitler’s sitting room.”

The above narration by Vandivert indicates that Eva Braun was also shot.

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Next → Part 8: Burning the Bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun

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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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Next → Part 7: Suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 5: Hitler’s Marriage and Last Testaments


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

In the evening of April 28, 1945, General Wenck reported to Keitel that his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front and it was no longer possible for his army to relieve Berlin. Keitel gave Wenck permission to break off the attempt to relieve Berlin.

Adolf Hitler began preparing for his own death, with the imminent advancing of the Soviets deep in Berlin, compounded by the disloyalty and betrayal by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

Sunday, April 29, 1945

The region surrounding the bunker was bombarded constantly by British and American air raids that included parachuted mines. On Sunday, April 29, 1945, there was a direct bomb hit on the Führerbunker and the electrical wiring and water pipes were rummaged.

For days there had been rumours of the impending marriage of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

Just before midnight Hitler married Eva Braun in a brief civil ceremony in the map-room. It took place against a backdrop of exploding shells.

Nevertheless, there was a festive mood as Hitler and Eva stood before a table flanked by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann as witnesses. Walther Wagner, a minor official of the Propaganda Ministry officiated at the marriage. In keeping with the Nazi requirements, the official asked both Hitler and Eva Braun whether they were of pure Aryan blood and whether they were free from hereditary illnesses.  (See Appendix C to view the marriage certificate.)

A scene from the movie 'Der Untergang' - Adolf Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) and his newly married wife Eva Braun say good-bye in the FührerBunker. (Source - meaus.com)
A scene from the movie ‘Der Untergang’ – Adolf Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) and his newly married wife Eva Braun say good-bye in the FührerBunker. (Source – meaus.com)

The marriage ceremony was followed by a celebration in the conference room. Champagne was brought out. Heinz Lorenz, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Chief Press Secretary said:

There was champagne but Hitler didn’t drink any. He was concerned about getting his last will and testament down.

Those left in the bunker listened to Hitler reminisce about better days gone by. He admitted that the war was lost. Hitler concluded, however, that death would be a release for him after the recent betrayal by his oldest friends and supporters – Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, and confided that he would rather shoot himself than fall alive into the hands of the Russians or the other victorious powers.

Hitler shook hands with all, saying a few words of encouragement and thanks to each.

Gerda Christian - one of Hitler's private secretaries
Gerda Christian – one of Hitler’s private secretaries.

According to Gerda “Dara” Christian, one of Hitler’s private secretaries, Eva showed her the wedding ring on her finger. Hitler talked mostly of the past and of happier times and admitted that the war was lost and said that he would rather shoot himself than fall alive into the hands of the Russians or the other victorious powers. Gerda said she left the room, unable to bear the atmosphere of gloom and despondency.

Hitler confided to Gertraud Junge that the wedding had been an emotional experience for him. He told her that suicide would be the only means to end his many worries.

 Hitler’s Last Testaments

After the wedding ceremony, while the Red Army closed on the Reichstag building, Hitler 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).

After the war, Traudl Junge said:

“When I came to type his final testament in the bunker … I thought he would justify his actions and explain why Germany is in this position. That he had a way out from our terrible tragedy. But he repeated only the old slogans which he had used in his speeches.”

In his Private Testament, Hitler stated specifically who was to be the executor of his will, what he wanted done with his body after he died, and the names of people to receive his worldly possessions.

Hitler named no successor as Führer or leader of the Nazi Party. Instead, he appointed Joseph Goebbels as Reich Chancellor; Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, who was at Flensburg near the Danish border at that time, as Reich President; and Martin Bormann, Hitler’s long-time chief of staff, as Party Minister.

In his Political Testament, he typically blamed the Jews for everything, including the Second World War and expressed many of the same sentiments he had proffered back in 1923-24 in his book Mein Kampf. He also made a reference to his 1939 threat against the Jews along with a subtle reference to the subsequent gas chambers.

It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was wanted and provoked solely by international statesmen either of Jewish origin or working for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers for the limitation and control of armaments, which posterity will not be cowardly enough always to disregard, for responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be placed on me. Nor have I ever wished that, after the appalling First World War, there would ever be a second against either England or America. Centuries will go by, but from the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred of those ultimately responsible will always grow anew against the people whom we have to thank for all this: international Jewry and its henchmen.

Only three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war I proposed a solution of the German-Polish problem to the British Ambassador in Berlin – international control as in the case of the Saar. This offer, too, cannot be lied away. It was only rejected because the ruling clique in England wanted war, partly for commercial reasons and partly because it was influenced by the propaganda put out by international Jewry.

I have left no one in doubt that if the people of Europe are once more treated as mere blocks of shares in the hands of these international money and finance conspirators, then the sole responsibility for the massacre must be borne by the true culprits: the Jews. Nor have I left anyone in doubt that this time millions of European children of Aryan descent will starve to death, millions of men will die in battle, and hundreds of thousands of women and children will be burned or bombed to death in our cities without the true culprits being held to account, albeit more humanely.

Hitler accused Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and Reichsführer-SS and Interior Minister Heinrich Himmler, of betraying him and bringing “irreparable shame on the whole nation” by negotiating with the Allies. He expelled Hermann Göring from the party and sacked him from all of his state offices. He also canceled the 1941 decree naming Göring as his successor in the event of his death. To replace him, Hitler named Großadmiral Karl Dönitz as president of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Joseph Goebbels was appointed as chancellor.

Heinrich Himmler was also expelled from the party and sacked from all of his state offices for attempting to negotiate peace with the western Allies without his knowledge and against his permission.

Hitler signed his Testaments at 4:00 am, witnessed by Martin Bormann, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, General Wilhelm Burgdorf, and General Hans Krebs. One source says that though the adjutant to Adolf Hitler, Nicolaus von Below’s name had been included, he was an “unofficial” witness and did not sign the document.

Hitler then retired to bed.

The three messengers

To ensure the presence of these two documents for posterity, three messengers were assigned to take them with an attendant document, an explanatory note by Goebbels, out of the besieged Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker.

The three messengers were: Heinz Lorenz, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Chief Press Secretary; SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Zander, Bormann’s adjutant; and Major Willy Johannmeyer, the last adjutant to Adolf Hitler.

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Previous – Part 4: The Doubts About Loyalty to the Führer

Next → Part 6: Preamble to Suicide

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Appendix A: Adolf Hitler’s Private Testament


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Source: eisenhower.archives.gov

Martin Bormann's note
Martin Bormann’s note

The Secretary of the Führer, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann
Führer Headquarters
Postal address Munich 33, Führerbau.

29.4.45

Dear Grandadmiral!

Since all our Divisions failed to appear our situation seems to be beyond hope.

The Fuhrer dictated last night the attached political statement.

Hail Hitler!
Yours
(Signed) Bormann

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Mein privates Testament - Page 1  (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Mein privates Testament – Page 1 (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Mein privates Testament - Page 2 (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Mein privates Testament – Page 2 (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Mein privates Testament - Page 2 (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)
Mein privates Testament – Page 3 (Source: eisenhower.archives.gov)

————————————————————————————–

My Private Testament

Since I did not think I should take the responsibility of entering into marriage during the years of combat, I have decided now before termination of life on this earth, to marry the woman who, after many years of true friendship, entered voluntarily into this already almost besieged City, to share my fate. She goes to death with me as my wife, according to her own desire. Death will replace for us that of which my work in the service of my people robbed us.

What I own belongs – as far as it is of any value at all – to the party. Should the party no longer exist it will belong to the state. Should the state also be destroyed, any further decision from me is to longer necessary.

The paintings in the collections which I have bought during the years have never been acquired for private purposes, but always exclusively for the creation of an art gallery in my native town of Linz a.d. Donau.

It is my heartfelt desire that this legacy shall be fulfilled.

My most faithful party member

Martin Bormann

shall be the executor of this testament. He is authorized to make all decisions to be final and legal. He is permitted to take everything which either has personal souvenir value or which is necessary for the maintenance of a small bourgeois household and to give it to my brothers and sisters, and besides especially to the mother of my wife and my co-workers who all are well known to him. There are most of all my oil secretaries Mrs Winter etc., who for many years gave me loyal co-operation.

Myself and my wife choose death to escape the disgrace of being forced to resign or to surrender. It is our wish to be cremated immediately at the place where I have done the greatest part of my work during the twelve years of service for my people.

Given in Berlin, 29th. April 1945, 4:00 hrs

(Signed) A. Hitler

As Witnesses:

(Sd.) Martin Bormann
(Sd.) Dr. Goebbels

As Witness:
(Sd.) Nicolaus von Below.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 4: The Doubts About Loyalty to the Führer


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring
Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring

During the afternoon on April 23, 1945, Adolf Hitler received a telegram from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, president of the Reichstag, the second-most powerful man in Germany. On June 29, 1941, Hitler designated him as his successor and deputy in all his offices. Now, Hitler was taken aback with the contents of the telegram.

My Führer!

In view of your decision to remain in the fortress of Berlin, do you agree that I take over at once the total leadership of the Reich, with full freedom of action at home and abroad as your deputy, in accordance with your decree of June 29, 1941? If no reply is received by 10 o’clock tonight, I shall take it for granted that you have lost your freedom of action, and shall consider the conditions of your decree as fulfilled, and shall act for the best interests of our country and our people. You know what I feel for you in this gravest hour of my life. Words fail me to express myself. May God protect you, and speed you quickly here in spite of all.

Your loyal
Hermann Göring

An enraged Hitler, prompted by Martin Bormann, sent Göring a message saying though he had committed high treason that warranted a death penalty, due to his long years of service, he would be spared, if he would immediately resign all of his offices. Bormann then ordered the SS near Berchtesgaden to arrest Göring and his staff.

Göring was arrested on April 25, 1945.

Tuesday, April 24, 1945 

Professor Ernst-Robert Grawitz was the head of the German Red Cross and a physician in Adolf Hitler’s Führerbunker. As many officials were leaving Berlin to escape from advancing Soviet armies, Grawitz beseeched Hitler a few days before, to allow him to leave, but his request was denied.

So, on April 24, 1945, Grawitz committed suicide with his family, by detonating two hand grenades under the dining table, while  having their supper with his wife, and their two children were.

Following Grawitz’s death, Heinrich Himmler appointed Professor Karl Gebhardt, a lieutenant general and his physician as head of the German Red Cross.

Wednesday, April 24, 1945 

In the afternoon of April 24, 1945, Professor Karl Gebhardt arrived at the Führerbunker by flight to request the Führer to confirm his appointment by Himmler as president of the German Red Cross. Hitler granted the request, though he considered it idiotic and scornfully turned to his secretaries and others present and said: “Any woman here who wants to fly off with Professor Gebhard may now do so.” Though there were four women in the room at that time, none volunteered.

Gebhardt, then left the room, bashfully, with his aide.

Thursday, April 26, 1945

On April 26, 1945, reports of Soviet troops looting and raping as they advanced were circulating in Berlin. Soviet artillery fire made the first direct hits on the Chancellery buildings and grounds directly above the Führerbunker. The Red Army had reached the city centre and were fighting within only a few hundred yards of Hitler’s refuge.

In the evening, Ludwig Weidling, the last commander of the Berlin Defense Area, presented Hitler with a detailed proposal for a breakout from Berlin. When Weidling finished, Hitler shook his head and said:

Your proposal is perfectly all right. But what is the point of it all? I have no intentions of wandering around in the woods. I am staying here and I will fall at the head of my troops. You, for your part, will carry on with your defence.

During the last days of the war, Adolf Hitler’s pilot SS-Gruppenführer Hans Baur, had devised a plan to allow Hitler to escape from Berlin. A Fieseler Fi 156 Storch liaison aircraft was held on standby which could take off from an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten, near the Brandenburg Gate. However, Hitler refused to leave Berlin.

Later in the evening, a small plane carrying Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Robert Ritter von Greim, the last commander of the Luftwaffe, in response to an order from the Führer, landed on the improvised landing strip.

Hanna Reitsch, a German aviator, Nazi test pilot, and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class. (Source: bennypdrinnon.blogspot.in)
Hanna Reitsch, a German aviator, Nazi test pilot, and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class. (Source: bennypdrinnon.blogspot.in)

The aircraft was flown by one of the most famous female pilots of all time, the pretty 33-year-old Hanna Reitsch, a Nazi test pilot, and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Luftwaffe Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds during World War II. With her long experience at low-altitude flying over Berlin and having already surveyed the road as an escape route with Hitler’s personal pilot Hans Baur, Reitsch landed on the improvised airstrip.

During the daring flight von Greim was wounded in the foot by Soviet ground fire hit the light aircraft during its approach.

Field-Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim, the last commander of the Luftwaffe.
Field-Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim, the last commander of the Luftwaffe.

When von Greim was inside the Führerbunker, Hitler informed him that he was promoted to Field-Marshal in command of the Luftwaffe and was to be Hermann Göring’s successor.

In the evening of April 28, 28, 1945, Hanna Reitsch flew von Greim out on the same road-strip and Hitler suggested to Hans Baur that he and Martin Bormann evacuate in the same manner.

Erich Kempka, Hitler’s personal chauffeur, had known Eva Braun well since 1932. That day he had a long chat with her. She told Kempka:

“Under no circumstances will I leave the Fuhrer and, if I have to, I will die at his side. Initially, he insisted that I should take an aircraft out of Berlin. I told him, ‘I will not. Your fate is also mine.‘”

Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein

SS-Gruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein.
SS-Gruppenführer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein.

Hans-Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein, an SS-Gruppenführer (group leader) was a general of the Waffen-SS and a member of Adolf Hitler’s entourage. He was the brother-in-law of Eva Braun through his marriage to Gretl Braun, one of her two sisters.

In August 1941, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the SS Cavalry Brigade to be formed under the command of Hermann Fegelein from the 1st and 2nd SS Cavalry Regiments.

On July 17, 1941, Himmler assigned Fegelein’s regiment to the general command of HSSPF Erich von dem Bach for the “systematic combing” of the Pripyat swamps, an operation designed to round up and exterminate Jews, partisans, and civilians in that area of the Byelorussian SSR. Fegelein reported to von dem Bach that his men had killed 13,788 Jews and what he claimed were “soldiers in civilian clothes” during the first stage of the operation. At the end of the second stage, which ran during the last two weeks of August, Fegelein reported that all  3,500 Jewish men in the Rogatschew region had been killed.

Fegelein was wounded a couple of times in action. After he was wounded for a third time, on the Russian front, Himmler reassigned him on January 1, 1944, to Hitler’s headquarters staff as his liaison officer and representative of the SS. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant (group leader and lieutenant-general) of the Waffen-SS.

On July 20, 1944, Fegelein was present at the failed attempt on Hitler’s life at the Wolf’s Lair headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia, and he received a minor wound on his left thigh from the bomb blast.

Historians William L. Shirer and Ian Kershaw picture him as cynical and disreputable. Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect, called him “one of the most disgusting people in Hitler’s circle”.

Fegelein was an opportunist. He sought favour with Himmler, who granted him the best assignments and rapid promotions. Even his courting of Gretl Braun, one of the two sisters of Eva Braun, was a calculated move to advance his career.

Gretl Braun and Hermann Fegelein at their wedding.
Gretl Braun and Hermann Fegelein at their wedding.

Hitler, Himmler, and Bormann acted as witnesses at his marriage. However, Fegelein was a known playboy and had many extramarital affairs.

Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Luitpold Himmler
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Luitpold Himmler

Flooding of the Berlin underground on April 27, 1945.

Facing total defeat and engulfed with fury, Adolf Hitler had reached his limits and wanted the earth scorched. He was now prepared to sacrifice everything and everybody, including his army and the German people. He ordered his troops to keep on fighting.

In the early morning of April 27, 1945, Hitler ordered the flooding of the Berlin underground to slow the advancing Soviet troops.

Hitler’s order resulted in the drowning of thousands of German soldiers under Weidling’s command and civilians who had taken refuge in the tunnels. The diary of the officer with the Müncheberg Panzer Division went on to describe the flooding:

New command post: Anhalter subway station. Platforms and control rooms look like an armed camp. Women and children huddle in niches and corners. Others sit about in deck chairs. They all listen for the sounds of battle. Suddenly, water starts to pour into the station. Screams, sobs, curses. People fighting around the ladders that run through the air shafts up to the streets. Masses of gurgling water rush over the stairs. Children and wounded are abandoned and trampled to death. The water covers them, rises three feet or more and then slowly goes down. The panic lasts for hours. Many are drowned. Reason: On somebody’s orders, engineers have blasted the locks of the canal between Schöneberger and Möckern Bridges to flood the tunnels against the advancing Russians. Meanwhile, heavy fighting has been going on above ground level. Change of position to Potsdamer Platz subway station in the late afternoon. Command post on the first floor, as tunnels still under water. Direct hits on the roof. Heavy losses among wounded and civilians. Smoke pours in through the shell holes. Outside, stacks of Panzerfausts go up in the air. Another direct hit, one flight below street level. A horrible sight: Men, soldiers, women, and children are literally glued to the wall.

Fegelein left the Reich Chancellery bunker complex, but was apprehended on April 27, 1945, by SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Högl in his Berlin apartment while preparing to flee to Sweden or Switzerland, wearing civilian clothes, carrying German and foreign cash and jewelry, some of which belonged to Eva Braun. Högl also confiscated a briefcase containing documents with evidence of Himmler’s attempted peace negotiations with the western Allies. According to most accounts Fegelein was intoxicated when arrested. He was brought back to the Führerbunker.

When Fegelein was arrested, his wife, Gretl was heavily pregnant. Hitler considered releasing him without punishment or assigning him to Waffen-SS General Wilhelm Mohnke ‘s  troops. However, Hitler ordered Mohnke to set up a tribunal to inquire into Fegelein’s desertion. The court martial panel consisted of Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs, Johann Rattenhuber, and presided by Wilhelm Mohnke.

Fegelein was still drunk when he was produced before the martial panel. Unable to stand up, he vomited and even urinated on the floor. Since the German military law required the defendant to be of sound mind and body during a court martial, Mohnke was in a predicament.

Fegelein refused to accept the authority of Hitler, and stated that he would answer only to Himmler. Although Mohnke was certain Fegelein was “guilty of flagrant desertion,” he ended the proceedings and turned the defendant over to General Rattenhuber and his RSD security squad. Mohnke never saw Fegelein again.

On the night of April 27, Soviet bombardment of the Chancellery buildings reached its peak with numerous direct hits. General Hans Krebs made his last telephone call from the Führerbunker to Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) in Fürstenberg. Krebs told Wilhelm Keitel that if relief did not arrive within 48 hours, all would be lost. Keitel promised to exert the utmost pressure on Generals Walther Wenck, commander of the Twelfth Army, and Theodor Busse, commander of the Ninth Army.

Meanwhile Hitler’s private secretary, Martin Bormann, wired to Großadmiral Karl Dönitz:

Situation very serious Those ordered to rescue the Führer are keeping silent Disloyalty seems to gain the upper hand everywhereReichskanzlei a heap of rubble.”

Since the foreign press was reporting fresh acts of treason, Bormann said:

that without exception Ferdinand Schörner, Walther Wenck, and the others must give evidence of their loyalty by the quickest relief of the Führer.”

Saturday, April 28, 1945

On April 28, 1945, Hitler was told by Goebbels that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had left Berlin on April 20, 1945, and that British news services were reporting that  Himmler was trying to discuss terms of surrender with the Western Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte and surrender the German armies under his command in the west to Eisenhower. Hitler was furious. Considering this as treason, he ordered Himmler’s arrest and according to certain sources ordered the immediate execution of Hermann Fegelein.

Gertraud Junge - Hitler's youngest private secretary
Gertraud Junge – Hitler’s youngest private secretary

Traudl Junge, Hitler’s youngest private secretary from December 1942, an eyewitness to events in the Führerbunker, later stated that Eva Braun pleaded with Hitler to spare her brother-in-law and tried to justify his behaviour. However, on April 28, 1945, Fegelein was taken to the garden of the Reich Chancellery and was “shot like a dog“.

Rochus Misch, Hitler's courier, bodyguard and telephone operator.
Rochus Misch, Hitler’s courier, bodyguard and telephone operator.

In 2007, in an interview with Der Spiegel, Rochus Misch, Hitler’s courier, bodyguard and telephone operator, and the last surviving person from the Führerbunker, disputed aspects of Traudl Junge’s account. According to Misch, Hitler ordered only Fegelein’s demotion and not his execution. Misch claimed to know the identity of Fegelein’s killer, but refused to reveal his name.

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Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 2: Hitler retreats to the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

The “Battle of Berlin” 

The Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, also known as the “Battle of Berlin” was the last major offensive against the Germans in the European Theatre of World War II.

On January 12, 1945, the Soviet Army advanced across Poland towards eastern Germany. The Soviet Red Army breached the German front in the Eastern arena of the European Theatre of World War II. This successful operation by the Red Army, known as the Vistula–Oder Offensive, took place between January 12 and February 2, 1945.

Map of the Battle of Berlin, phase of 16-25 April 1945 based on Praca zbiorowa Boje Polskie 1939-1945 Przewodnik Encyklopedyczny, Bellona, Warszawa 2009

The Russians advanced westward as much as 25 miles (40 km) a day through East Prussia, Lower Silesia, East Pomerania, and Upper Silesia, temporarily halting on a line 37 miles (60 km) east of Berlin along the Oder River.

When the offensive resumed, two Soviet fronts attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin.

At the same time, the Allied air forces devastated Berlin with bombing raids.

Hitler retreats to the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker 

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

As the Third Reich was rapidly disintegrating, Hitler, after deciding to stay in Berlin for the last great siege of the war, retreated to the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker on January 16, 1945. He was joined by his senior staff, Martin Bormann, and later, Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun.

Two to three dozen support, medical, and administrative staff were also in the bunker complex. These included Hitler’s secretaries – Gerda Christian, Gertraud “Traudl” Junge, a nurse named Erna Flegel, and Rochus Misch, Hitler’s courier, bodyguard and telephone operator.

Hitler With his Alsatian Dog, Blondi.
Hitler With his Alsatian Dog, Blondi.

When Hitler moved to the underground Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker brought his pet Blondi, the seven-year-old female German Shepherd, gifted to him in 1941 by Martin Bormann, along with him, and Eva Braun brought her two Scottish Terrier dogs Negus and Stasi along with her. In the underground bunker Blondi had a litter of five puppies. Hitler named one of them “Wolf”, his favorite nickname and the meaning of his own first name, Adolf (Noble wolf).

Eva Anna Paula Braun

Eva Braun
Eva Braun

Eva Braun, hailing from a middle-class Catholic family, met Adolf Hitler, 23 years her senior, in Munich when she was 17 years old. She was then employed as an assistant to Heinrich Hoffmann, the official photographer for the Nazi Party (NSDAP). She was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler.

On August 10 or 11, 1932, Eva attempted suicide by shooting herself in the chest with her father’s pistol. However, historians feel the attempt was a bid for Hitler’s attention. After Braun’s recovery, Hitler became more committed to her, and by the end of 1932 they had become lovers. She often stayed overnight at Hitler’s Munich apartment.

Eva then became a shadowy figure tucked away at the Alpine retreat at Obersalzberg, the main area of Nazi occupation in Berchtesgaden, spent her time with Hitler out of public view. She spent her time skiing and swimming. Though she had no perceptible influence on Hitler’s political career, she provided a certain domesticity to his life.

A few weeks before Hitler’s last birthday on April 20, Eva came to Berlin. From then on, against his will, she stayed with him until their death.

The advance of the soviet army

On April 16, 1945, the Russian Army started the Battle of Berlin and 2.5 million Russian soldiers reached the German capital. By April 19, 1945, the Red Army started to encircle the city.

When Marshal Georgy Zhukov’s Russian troops resumed its offensive, two Soviet fronts attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Street fighting raged in the north of Berlin, with the few German troops putting up a desperate defence against the Red Army. The German Army did not have the means to halt Marshal Zhukov’s troops. The Soviet army outnumbered the Germans 15 to 1. Moreover, the Red Army seemed to have unlimited mechanized armor.

Two Soviet fronts attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Street fighting raged in the north of Berlin, with the few German troops putting up a desperate defence against the Red Army. The German Army did not have the means to halt Marshal Zhukov’s troops. The Soviet army outnumbered the Germans 15 to 1. Moreover, the Red Army seemed to have unlimited mechanized armor.

Some battalions of the German army were making a hasty retreat westward to surrender to the Americans. Overwrought with rage, Hitler started issuing frantic orders to defend Berlin with his depleted armies.

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