The Last Days Of Hitler _TOP_
Hitler retreated to his Führerbunker in Berlin on 16 January 1945. It was clear to the Nazi leadership that the battle for Berlin would be the final battle of the war in Europe. Some 325,000 soldiers of Germany's Army Group B were surrounded and captured in the Ruhr Pocket on 18 April, leaving the path open for U.S. forces to reach Berlin. By 11 April, the Americans crossed the Elbe, 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the west of the city. On 16 April, Soviet forces to the east crossed the Oder and commenced the battle for the Seelow Heights, the last major defensive line protecting Berlin on that side. By 19 April, the Germans were in full retreat from Seelow Heights, leaving no front line. Berlin was bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time on 20 April, Hitler's birthday. By the evening of 21 April, Red Army tanks reached the outskirts of the city.
The Last Days of Hitler
By this time, the Red Army had advanced to the Potsdamer Platz, roughly a kilometre away from the bunker, and all indications were that they were preparing to storm the Reich Chancellery. This report and Himmler's treachery prompted Hitler to make the last decisions of his life. Shortly after midnight on 29 April, he married Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in a map room within the Führerbunker. The two then hosted a modest wedding breakfast, after which Hitler took secretary Traudl Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament. It left instructions to be carried out immediately following his death, with Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz and Joseph Goebbels assuming Hitler's roles as head of state and chancellor, respectively. Hitler signed these documents at 04:00 and then went to bed. Some sources say that he dictated the last will and testament immediately before the wedding, but all agree on the timing of the signing.[n][o]
The tee-totaling, vegetarian Hitler had a quiet last lunch, shook hands with the remaining staff, and that afternoon committed suicide with his wife on a couch in his private sitting room. Winston Churchill would later write,
Those were the words of Armin Lehmann, a fanatical, sixteen-year-old member of the Hitler Youth who, along with thousands of teenagers, had been transported to Berlin in early April 1945 to defend the city against the rapidly advancing Red Army. Lehmann was chosen as a courier, running messages backwards and forwards from the radio room of the Reich Chancellery to and from the diminishing figure of Adolf Hitler. By April, Hitler had permanently retired to an underground bomb shelter located close to the Chancellery known as the Führerbunker. Lehmann was to witness firsthand the final days of the man who had brought Germany to its knees.
Hitler, meanwhile, took daily strolls around the elegant gardens of the Chancellery with his beloved German Shepherd dog, Blondi. It was one of his last remaining pleasures. However, as the Red Army began its final advance on the capital and shells began to rain down on the Chancellery and its gardens, even this was denied him.
And what of Armin Lehmann, the fanatically loyal teenager who was one of the last people to see Hitler alive? He was forced to witness for himself the monstrousness of the regime he supported when the Americans took him to see the horrors of a Nazi death camp. He renounced his Nazi faith that very same day and decided to become a peace activist. He spent the rest of his life travelling around the world promoting peace, tolerance and non-violence at events held in over 150 countries. He died in Coos Bay, Oregon on the 10th of October 2008.
Hitler's secretary on the last days in the bunker; a CIA operative on the killing of Che Guevara, remembering the US invasion of Iraq, a child of the Soweto Uprising and the tricky task of bringing Disneyland to France.Photo: Getty Images
Fifteen minutes later, at 2:45 p.m., Magda Goebbels demanded to see Hitler. Knowing she must keep her vow to kill herself and her family, she implored Hitler to try to escape. But Hitler refused, and Magda would be the last person besides Braun to see him alive.
EVERY TIME YET another book appears on Hitler's last days it is tempting to ask: what more is there to learn? Less and less is the answer. Everything there is to know about the last days has been fled, published, exhaustively examined. The more fanciful speculations have been overturned. Hitler never was spirited away, or replaced by a double. The things that cannot be said with certainty (did Hitler shoot himself in the temple, or through the mouth?) will now never be established. We have reached the end of the trail.
He may have been the most popular revolutionary leader in the history of the modern world. The emphasis is on the word popular, because Hitler belongs to the democratic, not the aristocratic, age of history. He is not properly comparable to a Caesar, a Cromwell, a Napoleon. Utterly different from them, he was, more than any of them, able to energize the majority of a great people, in his lifetime the most educated people of the world, convincing them to follow his leadership to astonishing achievements and extraordinary efforts and making them believe that what they (and he) stood for was an antithesis of evil. He led them to prosperity and pride, inspiring in them a confidence with which they conquered almost all of Europe, achieving a German hegemony soon lost because he overreached himself. His Reich, which was to have lasted a thousand years, ended after twelve; yet he had an enormous impact and left a more indelible mark upon this century than any other dictator, a Lenin or a Stalin or a Mao.
The Allies at lastpublished the list of 24 top Nazis who will be tried in a group as warcriminals under the general charge of conspiracy to wage aggressivewar. Specific charges, probably, will be brought against eachcriminalthe Rotterdam and Coventry bombings against Hermann Goring;wholesale murder against Hans Frank, former Nazi overlord of Poland.
All but one of the 24 were in custody. The exception was Martin Bormann,Hitler's deputy and closest adviser in the final days. Contradictoryreports that Bormann had or had not been found continued to fly betweenthe Allied capitals.
Join Clare Mulley as she examines the lives of two female pilots, offering a fascinating insight into Nazi Germany and its attitudes to women, class and race.During the Second World War, Nazi Germany employed the talents of two brilliant female aviators. They would end their lives on opposite sides of history.Hanna Reitsch was the first woman to fly a helicopter. She later tested rocket planes and even an experimental piloted version of the V1 flying bomb. A 'fanatical Nazi' to the end, in the final days of the war Hanna begged Hitler to let her fly him to safety from his Berlin bunker. Melitta von Stauffenberg was an aeronautical engineer and test pilot for the Stuka dive bombers that were synonymous with the Blitzkrieg. She was also secretly part Jewish. In July 1944, Melitta was at the centre of an attempt on Hitler's life. In this revealing talk, Clare Mulley will offer an insight into the lives of these two fascinating women. 041b061a72