The Funeral of General George S. Patton, Jr.

Today’s blog was written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

December 21 is the 70th anniversary of the death of General George S. Patton, Jr., renowned and controversial general and subject of the unforgettable 1970 eponymous motion picture.  While he was without a combat command at the time of his death, the occasion was nonetheless significant given his lifetime of service.

Patton had a stellar military career during which he participated in the Mexican Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916; fought in France during World War I where he was seriously wounded; and finally led American forces in North Africa, Sicily, and Western Europe during World War II.  His Second World War service was marked by several controversial incidents that almost cut short his career and ultimately led to his removal from significant command.

On December 9, 1945, the staff car in which Patton was riding was involved in a relatively minor traffic accident.  The General, however, was thrown about and broke his neck.  After lingering for twelve days, he succumbed to his injuries on December 21.  While Patton did not have the heroic battlefield death he wanted, he was given a hero’s burial at the U.S. Military Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg.  Charge d’Affaires George P. Waller sent the following report about the funeral and related matters to the Department of State.

This is a photograph of the occasion.  The pallbearer on the left is M/Sgt. William Meeks, who served as Patton’s personal orderly for many years.

photo of General Patton's casket

111-SC-223850

For more details on Patton’s life and career, see Patton: A Genius for War by Carlo D’Este.


Sources:

  • The report is U.S. Legation Luxembourg to Department of State, Despatch 348, December 24, 1945, file 811.221/12-2445, Central Decimal Files, 1945-49 (NAID 302021), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.
  • The photograph is from Photographs of American Activities (NAID 530707) RG 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, photograph 111-SC-223850.  Thanks to my colleague Holly Reed for help with the photograph.
Posted in Archives II, Civil Records, History, News | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hunting Hitler Part VII: The Search Continues, June-September 1945

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This post is part of a multi-part series.

At the end of May 1945, Allied military and diplomatic officials went to Berlin to discuss the occupation of Berlin with Marshal Georgy Zhukov, Soviet commander of the Russian Zone of Occupation. During these early talks the death of Adolf Hitler was a matter of some discussion. While some Russians believed Hitler still was alive, others did not. This latter belief was based on some dental evidence they had which indicated that a body they had recovered and inspected was indeed that of Hitler. Apparently Zhukov and General V. D. Sokolovsky, the deputy commander in chief of Soviet forces in the Russian Zone, told the dental identification story to several western military men and diplomats who had visited Berlin for quadripartite preliminary talks, including General Lucius Clay, the American Deputy Military Governor and Robert Murphy, the American Political Adviser.[1]

On June 5 when the Supreme Allied Commanders met in Berlin in order to organize the establishment of the Four-Power Government, responsible Russian officers told officers from General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff that Hitler’s body had been discovered and “identified with almost completely certainty.” They said the body was found in the bunker together with three others. It had been badly charred, attributed to the flamethrowers with which their troops had advanced. According to them, the bodies were examined by Russian doctors and this led to an “almost certain identification.” They said if the Russians were not officially announcing Hitler’s death, it was only due to their reluctance to commit themselves as long as there was the “slightest room for doubt.” However, they openly admitted that all the evidence available pointed to the conclusion that Hitler was dead.  Again, on June 6 Zhukov’s staff officers assured Eisenhower’s staff officers that Hitler’s body had been discovered, exhumed and scientifically identified.[2]

On June 6, the day the Soviet Military Administration in Germany was set up, the Russians held an unofficial press conference in Berlin at which correspondents from the United States, Great Britain and France were present. An officer from Zhukov’s staff disclosed details of the search for Hitler’s corpse and authorized the correspondents to report-without naming him as the source, that it had been found and identified with a high degree of probability. He said (incorrectly) Hitler’s smoke-blackened and charred corpse was one of four that had been discovered in the bunker on May 3 and 4. They had been burnt in the corridor by a flame-thrower, but despite this, after careful examination of teeth and other characteristics the Russians singled out one body which they believed almost certainly was that of Hitler. After examination by chemists from the Red Army, there were indications that Hitler most probably died of poisoning. Asked why no official announcement of the discovery has been made yet by Moscow, the Russian source said as long as any element of uncertainty existed, the Russians did not wish to state definitely that Hitler’s body has been found. The source added, however, that there seems little doubt that this actually is the corpse of Hitler. Covering the event, Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., United Press Staff Correspondent for Combined U.S. Press, observed that “The Russians have given no hint as to how the bodies of Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazis found in Berlin have been disposed of. This probably will remain a secret for all time to guard against the possibility of Nazi fanatics trying to recover the bodies.” His story ran June 7 in The Washington Post and The New York Times.[3]

While the Soviets in Berlin on June 6 were saying that they believed with a high degree of certainty that Hitler was dead, Stalin was saying just the opposite. On June 6 in Moscow when Hopkins, Harriman, and Bohlen again met with Stalin, Stalin said he was sure that Hitler was still alive. Thus, it is not surprising that after the June 6 press conference, Stalin immediately sent Andrei Vyshinsky (later prosecuting attorney at Nuremberg) to Marshal Zhukov in Berlin as his “political representative to the Chief of the Soviet Military Administration.” [4]   

At a major press conference on June 9, with Vyshinsky sitting next to Zhukov, the new “official Russian version” was announced to American, British, French and Russian correspondents. Hitler’s last-minute marriage to Eva Braun was disclosed by Zhukov. He said that she had flown to Berlin in the last day to be at Hitler’s side. “It is well known that two days before Berlin fell Hitler married Eva Braun” he said. He added that the Russians had found references to the marriage in the diaries of Hitler’s personal adjutants. Zhukov said “We have found no corpse that could be Hitler’s” and added that Hitler and Braun had good opportunities to get away from Berlin; “He could have taken off at the very last moment, for there was an airfield at his disposal.” Zhukov told the press “The circumstances are highly mysterious. We did not identify Hitler’s body and I cannot say anything about his fate. …” Zhukov added, “Now it is up to you British and Americans to find him.” At the press conference Colonel General Nikolai E. Berzarin, Soviet commander of Berlin, turning to the question of whether Hitler had died in Berlin, said “There are all sorts of people who were close to him who say that he killed himself. Still others say he was killed by an exploding shell,” however, Russian soldiers had not yet found Hitler’s body. “My personal opinion is that he has disappeared somewhere into Europe.” Berzarin said “Perhaps he is in Spain with Franco. He had the possibility of getting away.” The newly Soviet appointed German Buergermeister of Berlin, Arthur Werner, said “Hitler-we just don’t know…There are many Germans who say he has found refuge in another country.”[5]

The following day, June 10, Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. D. Strong, the SHAEF G-2, asked a Soviet intelligence officer regarding Zhukov’s statement that Hitler was still alive. The Soviet officer replied that the Russians had revised their earlier opinion that Hitler was dead, and that none of the evidence at present in their possession indicates definitely that this was so. Ambassador Murphy informed the State Department that while SHAEF G-2 did not exclude the possibility that Hitler may be in the Allied area, they did not accept the implication of Zhukov’s statement that primary responsibility rested with “us for finding him.”[6]

On June 10 in Madrid the Spanish Foreign Minister had his press secretary deny Zhukov’s report that Hitler might have found shelter in Spain. The Spanish statement said: “Hitler, married or single, alive or dead, is not on Spanish soil, nor would he be allowed here, and if he entered he would not receive shelter.”[7]

The Russian press on June 14 reviewed an article by Elliott [probably George Fielding Eliot] in the New York Herald Tribune commenting on Zhukov’s reported statement that the English and Americans should organize a search for Hitler. Elliott reportedly expressed agreement with Zhukov and was cited as emphasizing the probability of the Soviet statement that Hitler at present was outside the Soviet occupation zone. Elliott was quoted to effect that Hitler probably fled to Spain where there were many German refugees who probably would seek to organize Hitler’s flight. Elliott was also quoted describing a possible escape route for Hitler to Argentina. The news item concluded by quoting Elliott’s opinion that the Allies ought to organize measures to apprehend Hitler including if necessary military operations against Franco’s Spain.[8]

In June, witnesses to what had transpired in the Bunker on April 30 began surfacing in the western zones of occupation. On June 20 at the headquarters of the 21st Army Group (which became the British Army of the Rhine in August 1945), at Bad Oeynhausen, near Hanover, Herman Karnau, a guard at the bunker, told his story to reporters that he saw the bodies of Hitler and Braun burning on ground above Hitler’s bunker. He said he did not know how they had died, but suspected it was at the hands of Dr. Stumpfegger, medical officer at the Reich Chancellery. This account was published in The New York Times the next day. Also published in the same edition of the June 21 newspaper was an account of Hitler’s death by Erich Kempka, Hitler’s chauffeur, who had helped provide the gasoline for the cremation and who witnessed it. He had also spoken to reporters on June 20 and provided a great many details on the deaths of Hitler and Braun, and provided information on the death of the Goebbels’ family. He told the reporters that interviewed him that shortly before Hitler and Braun had shot themselves, Hitler ordered Otto Guensche to have their bodies burned so that their remains would not fall in Russian hands. He also said that he, Bormann, Goebbels, Guensche, and Heinz Linge, and a couple of others whose names he did not remember saw the bodies burning in the Chancellery garden near the Bunker. He added: “I doubt if anything remained of the bodies. The fire was terrifically intense. Maybe some evidence like bits of bones and teeth could be found, but I doubt it. Shells probably landed there and scattered everything all over.”[9]

Newsweek carried a piece on July 2 about the end of Hitler, quoting from Karnau and Kempka as to what happened. Time magazine on July 2 reported that at the end of June a SHAEF spokesman had said, summing up the Hitler situation “We have every reason to believe he is dead, but no evidence that he is not still alive.” It also reported the Russians, who had done all the investigating in Berlin, had not amended their reports that no trace of Hitler had been found; no believable witnesses in their custody had actually seen him die; and Hitler had ordered his henchmen to spread the story that he was dead. [10]  

A United Press story from London on July 15 reported that The Sunday Dispatch said that search parties were hunting for Hitler’s body in the Tyrol Mountains of Bavaria. A German POW had said that Hitler had been buried in the mountains under the direction of Himmler’s Reich Main Security Office (RSHA).[11] An Associated Press story from Stockholm on July 15, reported that a Swedish newspaper reported that day that a rumor was circulating in Bern, Switzerland, that Hitler was hiding in the principality of Liechtenstein under the name of “Dr. Brandl.” The story added that Braun was not with Hitler but probably in Argentina. [12]

During July, various Allied personnel visited the bunker in Berlin and subsequently reported on their visits. When Michael Musmanno visited the bunker, the Russian commandant in charge of the area, Major Feodorovitch Platonov, at once broke into a spirited argumentative denial that Hitler was dead. Musmanno had not made any assertion in the matter one way or the other. He had merely stated that he was examining the place where Hitler lived his last days and hours. The Russian major, pointing at a spot in the garden exclaimed “It is not true that Hitler was found there! Our experts have established that the man found here didn’t look like Hitler at all. And we didn’t find Eva Braun either!”  Journalist Percy Knauth visited the bunker in July and published an account of it in Life magazine. Citing what Kempka had said about which room Hitler had committed suicide, Knauth inspected the room and wrote that there were bloodstains on the left-colored armrest of the sofa. Blood dripped down and collected in small coagulated stripes in the corner. Blood was also to be seen on the outer side of the sofa on the brocade cloth. On July 17, Permanent Under-Secretary of State Sir Alexander Cadogan noted in his diary after visiting the bunker, that he was shown a shallow crater in which he was told Hitler and Braun had been buried and later dug up and cremated. “This is also a rumor, of which there are many, and nobody knows the truth…”[13]

At the Potsdam Conference Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the President, wrote that Stalin and Molotov, Truman, Secretary of State James Byrnes and he were together for lunch on July 17 and Stalin repeated what he had already told Hopkins in Moscow: “he believes that the Fuehrer had escaped and was hiding somewhere. He went on to say that the painstaking Soviet search had failed to discover any traces of Hitler’s remains or positive proof of his death.” During the lunch Byrnes asked Stalin his views of how Hitler had died “To my surprise, he said he believed that Hitler was alive and that it was possible he was then either in Spain or Argentina.” Some ten days later Byrnes asked Stalin if he had changed his views and he said he had not.[14]

At his first news conference, Colonel-General Alexander V. Gorbatov, the Russian member of the Allied Kommandantur in Berlin, on July 30 was questioned as to his views regarding the fate of Hitler. He answered that there was still no definite satisfactory evidence of his death. He added, however, that among Russian officers the saying was that if Hitler was alive he was certainly not in Russian-occupied territory. He also noted that he had heard reports that Hitler’s dentist had taken a human jawbone to Moscow and identified it as that of Hitler, but Gorbatov said he knew nothing of the matter beyond that.[15]

During July and August reports continued to surface of Hitler being alive. One in July indicated that he had taken a submarine to either Argentina or Chile; others that he was alive and hiding in Argentina. Reports of sightings continued in September.[16]

HitlerBlog003-With Declass-1

Report of Hitler in Argentina, August 1945. FBI Case File 65-53615.

A news story from London on September 8, under the headline “World-Wide Search for Hitler Goes On,” began “A manhunt that ranges from Berlin to Madrid, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, is underway today on the chance that Adolf Hitler is still alive.” Continuing, “The actual fate of the former Chancellor is the war’s biggest mystery and the Allies, not daring to gamble on such an issue, are tracking down every clue, investigating every rumor lest the story that Hitler took his own life beneath Berlin’s Reichschancellory prove to be history’s greatest and most tragic hoax.” The reporter indicated that the Allies were checking every report, “no matter how fantastic.” He noted that “One story has it that Hitler escaped to Japan by submarine; another that he is in Argentina; a third that he is hiding in Sweden. The latest rumors are that he is on board a yacht in the estuary of the Elbe River or living in luxury at a long-prepared lodge in the Bavarian Mountains.”[17] Moscow newspapers on September 9 carried a Tass item with heading “Rumors about Hitler,” dateline Rome, September 8, saying Rome Radio has reported that Hitler has been seen in Hamburg, living under another name.[18] Russian newspapers noted on September 10 of the probability that Hitler was still alive. The idea was even put forward that Hitler was in hiding in Germany.[19]

Harry Collins, a news reporter in London, on September 15 wrote that while there were reports that the charred body of Hitler had been found by the Russians in the Berlin Chancellery, the question remained “Is Hitler alive? The welter of speculation grows with each new ‘clue’ and ‘disclosure.’ The answer is simple-his conquerors do not know.” Collins wrote that the Russians had never accepted as proved that the body they found in the Chancellery grounds was Hitler’s. He reported that British Army authorities had declared that the latest rumor that Hitler was seen in Hamburg was “completely unfounded” and that they denied that the British were searching for Hitler. “Yet,” Collins noted, “it is known that British intelligence is far from convinced that Hitler is dead.”[20]

Izvestia ran a story that Hitler and Braun were alive and well, and living in a moated castle in Westphalia, in the British Occupation Zone of Germany.[21] An American journalist in Germany believed that in throwing out names of such countries as Spain and Argentina, Stalin was probably just paying off old political grievances against Franco and other neutrals. But, in having a go at the British he was virtually accusing them of harboring a living Hitler.[22] Dick White, head of counter-intelligence in the British Zone, described the situation as “intolerable.”[23] In September he would turn to Hugh Trevor-Roper to investigate the death of Hitler.


Footnotes

[1] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 405.

[2] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 247.

[3] Public Relations Division, SHAEF, Information for Correspondents, prepared by Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., United Press Staff Correspondent for Combined U.S. Press, June 6, 1945, File: SHAEF Releases, June 1-30, 1945, Press Releases, Jun 1944-Jul 1945 (NAID 622519) Record Group 331; Joseph W. Grigg, Jr., Associated Press Staff Writer, Representing the Combined American Press, “Hitler’s Body Found, Soviet Source Says,” The Washington Post, June 7, 1945, p. 2 and “Hitler Body Proof Declared Fairly Certain by Russians,” The New York Times, June 7, 1945, p. 1; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 247-248.

[4] Memorandum by the Assistant to the Secretary of State (Chester Bohlen), Memorandum of 6th Conversation at the Kremlin, 6 PM June 6, 1945, [Moscow], June 6, 1945, File: 740.00119 (Potsdam)/6-645, Decimal Files, 1945-1949 (NAID 302021) Record Group  59; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 22-23.

[5] Associated Press, “Zhukoff  (sic) Says Hitler Wed Actress in Berlin, May Be Alive in Europe,” The New York Times, June 10, 1945, pp 1, 14; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 23. Linge’s daily diaries of Hitler’s activities from February 29 to April 30 were probably found by the Russians, since Zhukov described the final days (Hitler’s marriage, etc) at a press conference in Berlin on June 9. He explained his knowledge of the events was based on the diaries of Hitler’s adjutant [he meant valet] which had fallen into Russian hands. Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 59. Linge, questioned about the matter, stated on February 10, 1956, that during his service with Hitler he kept a diary, which he recorded the daily events (meetings, visits, visitors, etc.). ibid.

[6] Telegram Sent, No. 3541, Caffery [from Murphy] to the Secretary of State, June 14 [11 written over with 14] 1945, Classified Cables Sent to the State Department, 1945-1949 (NAID 1719688) Record Group 84.

[7] Wireless to The New York Times, “Hitler Not on Spanish Soil, Foreign Minister Says,” The New York Times, June 11, 1945, p. 2.

[8] Telegram Received, No. 191, Harriman, Moscow to Murphy, June 15, 1945, File: Moscow, Classified Cables Received from Other Missions, 1945-1949 (NAID 1729247) Record Group 84.

[9] James MacDonald, “Hitler Cremated in Berlin, Aides Say,” The New York Times, June 21, 1945, p. 6.

[10] A partial copy of the Newsweek article is contained in File: XE003655, Hitler, Adolf, Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054Record Group 319; “International: Where There’s Smoke…,” Time, Vol. XLVI No. 1, July 2, 1945.

[11] “Hitler Buried in Tirols, Says Nazi Prisoner,” The Washington Post, July 16, 1945, p. 2.

[12] “Hitler Buried in Tirols, Says Nazi Prisoner,” The Washington Post, July 16, 1945, p. 2.

[13] Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, p. 233; Percy Knauth, “Did Adolf and Eva Die Here?” Life, July 23, 1945, p. 26; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 58.

[14] William D. Leahy, I Was There (New York, London, Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1950), p. 396; James F. Byrnes, Speaking Frankly (New York and London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1947), p. 68.

[15] Tania Long, “Russian Criticizes Berlin Food Chief,” The New York Times, July 31, 1945, p. 6.

[16] See File: 862.002, Hitler, Adolf, Central Decimal File (NAID 302021) Record Group 59. For related correspondence see File: XE003655, Hitler, Adolf, Personal Name File, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054Record Group 319 and FBI File: 65-53615, Headquarters Files from Classification 65 (Espionage) Released Under the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts, 1935-1985  (NAID 565806) Record Group 65.

[17] United Press, “World-Wide Search for Hitler Goes On,” The New York Times, September 9, 1945, p. 28.

[18] Telegram Received, No. 77, Unsigned, Moscow to Murphy, September 10, 1945, File: Moscow, Classified Cables Received from Other Missions, 1945-1949 (NAID 1729247) Record Group 84.

[19] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 251.

[20] Harry Collins, “Is Hitler Dead or Alive?” The New York Times, September 16, 1945, p. E5.

[21] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 406.

[22] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 406.

[23] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, pp. 131, 133.

Posted in Archives II, Military Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Harrison Report, President Truman, and General Eisenhower

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher and Dr. Sylvia Naylor, Archivists at the National Archives at College Park.

The Jewish community in the United States expressed many complaints during April and May 1945 about how displaced persons, particularly Jews, were being treated by the U.S. Army in Germany.  Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., apparently sometime in June, contacted the State Department about the stories he had heard and urged an immediate investigation.  He recommended that the State Department appoint Earl G. Harrison, formerly U.S. Commissioner of Immigration and then both dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the American representative to the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, to conduct the inquiry.  The Acting Secretary of State, Joseph C. Grew, agreed with the recommendation, and wrote President Harry S. Truman on June 21 that the Department of State was sending Harrison to survey the conditions of the displaced persons, “particularly the Jews,” in Europe and that “an expression of your interest will facilitate the mission and reassure interested groups concerned with the future of the refugees that positive measures are being taken on their behalf.” He attached a letter for the President to send to Harrison expressing his interest.  Truman signed the letter, dated June 22.[1]

Harrison left for Europe in early July with Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Patrick M. Malin, Vice-Director of the International Committee on Refugees, and Herbert Katzski of the War Refugee Board. They visited about thirty Displaced Persons camps, often in separate groups, and what they saw and heard outraged them.[2]

Harrison sent the Secretary of State an interim report on July 28.[3]  The Secretary of State provided a copy to the War Department. On August 3, the War Department sent a cable to Eisenhower, setting forth the conclusions Harrison had made and requesting he verify the accuracy of Harrison’s conclusions and furnish the War Department the results of his investigation.[4]  Eleven days later Eisenhower cabled the War Department, setting forth his policies governing the handling of stateless, non-repatriables and other classes of displaced persons in the U.S. Zone.  He noted that former inmates of concentration camps were to receive special care and attention and that separate centers were to be established for these persons, “such as Jews.”  He then went on to address the various conclusions that Harrison had made in his interim report.  He added that: “American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is representing Jewish interests in U.S. zone. This committee has not made official complaints as it has recognized that all matters in Harrison’s report are being remedied with utmost speed consonant with difficulties of situation.”[5]

On August 24, President Truman received Harrison’s final report.[6]  The report detailed the inadequacy of housing, medical and recreational facilities, and noted the lack of any efforts to rehabilitate the internees, and addressed many issues of the plight of displaced Jews in Germany.  Harrison advised that Jews should receive the “first and not last attention” and recommended they be evacuated from Germany as quickly as possible and allowed to enter Palestine. “The civilized world,” he ended his report, “owes it to this handful of survivors to provide them with a home where they can again settle down and begin to live as human beings”[7]

President Harry S. Truman wrote General Eisenhower on August 31:

I have received and considered the report of Mr. Earl G. Harrison, our representative on the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, upon his mission to inquire into the condition and needs of displaced persons in Germany who may be stateless or non-repatriable, particularly Jews. I am sending you a copy of that report. I have also had a long conference with him on the same subject matter.

While Mr. Harrison makes due allowance for the fact that during the early days of liberation the huge task of mass repatriation required main attention, he reports conditions which now exist and which require prompt remedy. These conditions, I know, are not in conformity with policies promulgated by SHAEF, now Combined Displaced Persons Executive. But they are what actually exists in the field. In other words, the policies are not being carried out by some of your subordinate officers.

For example, military government officers have been authorized and even directed to requisition billeting facilities from the German population for the benefit of displaced persons. Yet, from the report, this has not been done on any wide scale. Apparently it is being taken for granted that all displaced persons, irrespective of their former persecution or the likelihood that their repatriation or resettlement will be delayed, must remain in camps-many of which are overcrowded and heavily guarded. Some of these camps are the very ones where these people were herded together, starved, tortured and made to witness the death of their fellow-inmates and friends and relatives.

The announced policy has been to give such persons preference over the German civilian population in housing. But the practice seems to be quite another thing.

We must intensify our efforts to get these people out of camps and into decent houses until they can be repatriated or evacuated. These houses should be requisitioned from the German civilian population. That is one way to implement the Potsdam policy that the German people ‘cannot escape responsibility for what they have brought upon themselves.’

I quote this paragraph with particular reference to the Jews among the displaced persons:

As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S. troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy.

You will find in the report other illustrations of what I mean.

I hope you will adopt the suggestion that a more extensive plan of field visitation by appropriate Army Group Headquarters be instituted, so that the humane policies which have been enunciated are not permitted to be ignored in the field. Most of the conditions now existing in displaced persons camps would quickly be remedied if through inspection tours they came to your attention or to the attention of your supervisory officers.

I know you will agree with me that we have a particular responsibility toward these victims of persecution and tyranny who are in our zone. We must make clear to the German people that we thoroughly abhor the Nazi policies of hatred and persecution. We have no better opportunity to demonstrate this than by the manner in which we ourselves actually treat the survivors remaining in Germany.

I hope you will report to me as soon as possible the steps you have been able to take to clean up the conditions mentioned in the report.

I am communicating directly with the British Government in an effort to have the doors of Palestine opened to such of these displaced persons as wish to go there.[8]

On September 14, Eisenhower sent a cable to President Truman indicating that he was very much concerned by his letter of August 31 regarding the Harrison Report.  He wrote that:

I am today starting a personal tour of inspection of Jewish displaced Persons installations. General officers of my staff have also been so engaged for several days. It is possible, as you say, that some of my subordinates in the field are not carrying out my policies, and any instances found will be promptly corrected.

However, on the brighter side of the picture, I have just received very reports from our senior Rabbi who acts as liaison officer on Hebrew matters, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee which represents Jewish interest in the United States Zone states that it has made no official complaints as it has recognized that all matters mention in Harrison’s Report are being remedied with the utmost speed consistent with the difficulties of the situation.

I will give you a detailed report after we complete our current inspections, but in the meantime you can be sure that in the United States Zone in Germany no possible effort is being spared to give these people every consideration toward better living condition, better morale and a visible goal.[9]

The original report, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” sent to the President on October 8th, is transcribed below:

This is my full report on matters pertaining to the care and welfare of the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution within the United States zone of Germany. It deals with conditions reported by Mr. Earl G. Harrison, United States representative on the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, which was forwarded to me under cover of your letter of 31 August, 1945.

Since Mr. Harrison’s visit in July, many changes have taken place with respect to the condition of Jewish and other displaced persons. Except for temporarily crowded conditions, the result of shifts between established centers and an influx of persons into centers as winter approaches, housing is on a reasonable basis. Nevertheless, efforts to improve their condition continue unabated. Subordinate commanders are under orders to requisition German houses, ground and other facilities without hesitation for this purpose.

The housing problem must be seen in full perspective. This winter the villages and towns in the United States zone of Germany will be required to house more than twice their normal population. One million and a half German air-raid refugees who were evacuated into southwestern Germany, together with some 600,000 Germans, Volksdeutsche and Sudetens who fled from Poland, New Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia before the advancing Red armies have created a condition of congestion in the United States zone which forces the most careful conservation of housing space. At this moment the United States zone is under orders to absorb 152,000 more Germans from Austria. Added to this influx of population, there is the loss of housing in bombed-out cities, averaging well over 50 per cent; the necessity for billeting large numbers of our troops; and the accommodation required for prisoners of war. The resulting housing shortage is not merely acute, but desperate. Notwithstanding this situation, in my recent inspections and those made by my staff of Jewish centers, although crowded conditions were found, in nearly every instance more than the thirty square feet per person of floor space required for our soldiers was available.

Displaced persons have absolute preference over Germans for housing, but the requirements of the distribution of supplies, the provision of medical care and the need for welfare activities make it desirable that displaced persons be sufficiently concentrated so that these services may be performed efficiently by the limited supervisory personnel and transport at our disposal. Thus, considerable use has been made of large installations such as brick barracks, apartment blocks and other public buildings in preference to scattered individual billets.

Special centers have been established for displaced Jewish persons. In the latter part of June the Armies were directed to collect into special assembly centers displaced persons who did not wish to or who could not be repatriated. On 25 July, 1945, Dr. Rabbi Israel Goldstein, president of the United Jewish Appeal, recommended that non-repatriable Jews be separated from other stateless people and placed in exclusively Jewish centers. As a result, the American Joint Distribution Committee was called upon to supervise the establishment of these centers. This policy was reiterated and expanded on 22 August. Special Jewish centers were established for “those Jews who are without nationality or those not Soviet citizens who do not desire to return to their country of origin.”

At the time of Mr. Harrison’s report there were perhaps 1,000 Jews still in their former concentration camps. These were too sick to be moved at that time. No Jewish or other displaced persons have been housed in these places longer than was absolutely necessary for medical quarantine and recovery from acute illness. It has always been our practice, not just our policy, to remove these victims with the utmost speed from concentration camps.

The assertion that our military guards are now substituting for SS troops is definitely misleading. One reason for limiting the numbers permitted to leave our assembly centers was depredation and banditry by displaced persons themselves. Despite all precautions, more than 2,000 of them died from drinking methylated alcohol and other types of poisonous liquor. Many others died by violence or were injured while circulating outside our assembly centers. Perhaps then we were overzealous in our surveillance. However, my present policy is expressed in a letter to subordinate commanders wherein I said:

Necessary guarding should be done by displaced persons themselves on the volunteer system and without arms. Military supervisors may be employed, but will not be used as sentries except in emergency. Everything should be done to encourage displaced persons to understand that they have been freed from tyranny and that the supervision exercised over them is merely that necessary for their own protection and well-being, and to facilitate essential maintenance.”

I feel that we have the problems of shelter and surveillance in hand. Of equal importance is the provision of sufficient and appetizing food. In the past, a 2,000-calorie minimum diet was prescribed for all displaced persons in approved centers. Our field inspections have shown that in many places this scale was consistently exceeded, but there have also been sporadic instances where it was not met. Three or four thousand persons of the persecuted categories, including German Jews, in the American zone have returned to their home communities. Many are there making a genuine effort to re-establish themselves. Until recently, there has been no clear-cut system of assuring adequate food for this group, although in most cases they have been given double rations.

I have recently raised the daily caloric food value per person for ordinary displaced persons in approved centers to 2,300, and for racial, religious and political persecutees to a minimum of 2,500. Feeding standards have also been prescribed and sufficient Red Cross food parcels and imported civil affairs military-government foodstuffs are on hand to supplement indigenous supplies and meet requisitions to maintain these standards. We are now issuing a directive that those Jews and other persecuted persons who choose and are able to return to their communities will receive a minimum ration of 2,500 calories per day, as well as clothing and shoes, the same as those in centers.

Clothing and shoes are available in adequate amounts and of suitable types. Uniformly excellent medical attention is available to all Jewish people in our centers, where they have generally adequate sanitary facilities. UNRRA and AJDC staffs, which are administering an increasing number of our centers, are becoming efficient and are making it possible for these people to enjoy spiritually uplifting religious programs as well as schooling for children.

It is freely admitted that there is need for improvement. The schools need more books; leisure-time and welfare activities must be further developed; paid employment outside the centers needs to be fostered; additional quantities of furniture, bedding and fuel must be obtained. We have made progress in reuniting families, but postal communications between displaced persons and their relatives and friends cannot yet be inaugurated; roads and walks must be improved in anticipation of continuing wet weather. We are conscious of these problems, we are working on them, and we have expert advice of UNRRA, of Jewish agencies and of our chaplains.

In certain instances we have fallen below standard, but I should like to point out that a whole Army has been faced with the intricate problems of readjusting from combat to mass repatriation, and then to the present static phase with its unique welfare problems. Anticipating this phase, I have fostered since before D-day the development of UNRRA so that persons of professional competence in that organization might take over greater responsibilities, and release our combat men and officers from this most difficult work.

You can expect our continued activity to meet the needs of persecuted people. Perfection never will be attained, Mr. President, but real and honest efforts are being made to provide suitable living conditions for these persecuted people until they can be permanently resettled in other areas.

Mr. Harrison’s report gives little regard to the problems faced, the real success attained in saving the lives of thousands of Jewish and other concentration-camp victims and repatriating those who could and wished to be repatriated, and the progress made in two months to bring these unfortunates who remained under our jurisdiction from the depths of physical degeneration to a condition of health and essential comfort. I have personally been witness to the expressed gratitude of many of these people for these things.[10]

The following images show Eisenhower’s prepared report on the situation from November 1945, sent from Germany by the Office of the U.S. Political Adviser to the Secretary of State.[11]

 

When Eisenhower left Germany in November much had been accomplished regarding Jewish Displaced Persons.  Conditions in the camps improved with the opening of all-Jewish camps, the concentration camps were closed, and the care of the displaced persons was transferred to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.  But much had not been accomplished, and work addressing the needs of the victims of Nazi persecution would continue through Truman’s Administration, and later that of President Eisenhower.  The work still continues today.


Footnotes

[1] Memo, Joseph Grew, Acting Secretary of State to The President, Subject: Mr. Earl G. Harrison’s mission to Europe on refugee matters, June 21, 1945, with enclosed draft letter from the President to Harrison, June 21, 1945, File: Decimal 800.4016 D.P./6-2145, Central Decimal Files 1945-1949 (NAID 302021), RG 59. Leonard Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), pp. 34-36.

[2] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, pp. 39-40.

[3] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, p. 40.

[4] Headquarters U.S. Group C.C. Incoming Message, Ref No. W-43716, From AGWAR signed WARCOS to USFET Main August 3, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994), RG 84.

[5] Headquarters U.S. Group C.C. Incoming Message, Ref No. S-16830, From USFET Main signed Eisenhower to AGWAR, August 14, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994), RG 84.

[6] Dinnerstein, America and the Survivors of the Holocaust, p. 40.

[7] Letter, Report of Earl G. Harrison to The President, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, September 30 (vol. XIII, No. 327), pp. 456-463.

[8] Letter, Harry S. Truman to General Eisenhower, August 31, 1945, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, September 30 (vol. XIII, No. 327), pp. 455-456.

[9] HQ US Forces European Theater Outgoing Classified Message, Ref No. S-23374, From Eisenhower to AGWAR Personal for President Truman, September 14, 1945, File: 840.1 – Jews, Classified General Records, 1945-1949 (NAID 1717994)

[10] Despatch No. 1263, Donald R. Heath, Charge d’Affaires ad interim, Berlin to the Secretary of State, Subject: Final Report by General Eisenhower on Jewish Displaced Persons in Germany, November 5, 1945, File: Decimal 800.4016 D.P./11-4545, Central Decimal Files 1945-1949 (NAID 302021)

[11] Letter, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Office of the Commanding General, Headquarters, U.S. Forces European Theater to The President , October 8, 1945, “Displaced Persons in Germany,” The Department of State Bulletin, October 21, 1945 (vol. XIII, No. 330), pp. 607-609.

 

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Hunting Hitler Part VI: The Search Begins, May 1945

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the sixth post in a multi-part series.

Stars_&_Stripes_&_Hitler_Dead2

Stars and Stripes, the official US Army magazine, announcing Hitler’s death.

With Adolf Hitler’s death just before 4pm on April 30, 1945, Hitler’s right-hand man Martin Bormann realized he had no position at all, unless Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz should confirm his appointment as Party Minister in the new government that Hitler had provided for in his political testament. He also knew it was improbable that any copy of Hitler’s political testament had yet reached Doenitz, who was therefore unaware of Hitler’s death, but also of his own right of succession. Sometime between 615pm and 750pm, Bormann, Goebbels, and Admiral Voss drafted and sent to Doenitz an ambiguous radio signal in the secure naval cipher, not bothering to mention Hitler was dead. It seemed as if Bormann wished to prolong yet a little longer the authority which he loved but could no longer legally exercise.[1] The message stated “In place of the former Reich-Marshal Goering the Fuehrer appoints you, Herr Grand Admiral, as his successor. Written authorization is on its way. You will immediately take all such measures as the situation requires. Bormann.” [2]

At Ploen, Doenitz, in the presence of Admiral Kummetz, the naval Commander-in-Chief, Baltic, and Albert Speer, received a message, which had just arrived from Berlin. The message was from Bormann announcing that Doenitz was Hitler’s successor in place of Goering. Doenitz was surprised. He incorrectly assumed that Hitler had nominated him because he wished to clear the way to enable an officer of the Armed Forces to put an end to the war. Doenitz did not find out until the winter of 1945-46, when for the first time he heard the provisions of Hitler’s will, in which he demanded that the struggle should be continued. [3] That evening Doenitz met with Keitel and Jodl and discussed the message. They agreed that Hitler was dead. They discussed making offers of an immediate armistice. [4]

On the morning of May 1, Bormann decided, or agreed, to inform Doenitz that his reign had begun. Still, he avoided an explicit admission of Hitler’s death. His message, which was sent for dispatch at 740am and received by Doenitz at 1053am stated: “The will has become effective. I shall come to see you at the earliest possible moment. In my opinion, publication should be postponed until we meet.”[5]

From that Doenitz presumed that Hitler was dead. Contrary to Bormann’s opinion to hold an announcement, Doenitz felt that the German Armed Forces ought to be told what had happened as quickly as possible.  Doenitz would later write: “Of his suicide I knew nothing. Nor from the assessment of his character that I had formed did I for a moment think of suicide as a possibility. I assumed that he had met his end seeking death in battle in Berlin. I felt therefore that the announcement of his death should be couched in respectful terms.” [6]

On May 1 Doenitz broadcast the following announcement:

The Fuehrer has nominated me as his successor. In full consciousness of my responsibilities I therefore assume the leadership of the German people at this fateful hour. My first task is to save German men and women from destruction by the advancing Bolshevist enemy. It is to serve this purpose alone that the military struggle continues. For as long as the British and the Americans continue to impede the accomplishment of this task, we must also continue to fight and defend ourselves against them.

The British and the Americans in that case will not be fighting in the interest of their own people, but solely for the expansion of Bolshevism in Europe. [7]

He also issued his Order of the Day to the Armed Forces:

The Fuehrer has nominated me as his successor as Head of the State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. I assume command of all Services of the Armed Forces with the firm intention of continuing the fight against the Bolsheviks until our troops and the hundreds of thousands of German families in our eastern provinces have been saved from slavery or destruction. Against the British and the Americans I must continue to fight as long as they persist in hindering the accomplishment of my primary object. [8]

At 318pm Doenitz received a third and last signal from the Chancellery in Berlin, whence it had been dispatched at 246pm. It was from Goebbels and Bormann, and signed by Goebbels, who would commit suicide some six hours later.[9] It read:

The Fuehrer died yesterday at 1530 hours. Testament of 29 April appoints you as Reich President, Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reich Minister Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. By order of the Fuehrer, the Testament has been sent out of Berlin to you, to Field-Marshal Schoerner, and for preservation and publication. Reichsleiter Bormann intends to go to you today and to inform you of the situation. Time and form of announcement to the Press and to the troops is left to you. Confirm receipt.-Goebbels. [10]

Doenitz decided not to wait for Bormann’s arrival to inform the Germans of Hitler’s death and did so that evening. At 930pm Hamburg Radio warned the German people that “a grave and important announcement” would be made; then, came strains from Wagner’s operas and the slow movement of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony was played, followed at 10:26pm by Doenitz announcing Hitler’s death and his own succession. The Fuehrer, he said, had fallen “this afternoon;” he had died fighting “at the head of his troops.” [11]

Meanwhile on the morning of May 1, Lorenz, Zander, Johannmeier (the three couriers with Hitler’s personal will, political testament, and marriage certificate) were on the Wannsee peninsula opposite Schwanenwerder. On May 2, the day Berlin surrendered, they were on the Havel, a tributary of the Elbe. Before dawn on May 3, they set out again, and made their way to Potsdam and Brandenburg, and on May 11 crossed the Elbe at Parey, between Magdeburg and Genthin, and passed ultimately, as foreign workers, into the area of the Western Allies, transported by American trucks. By this time the war was over, and Zander and Lorenz lost heart and easily convinced themselves that their mission had now no purpose or possibility of fulfillment. Johannmeier allowed himself to be influenced by them, although he still believed he would have been able to complete his mission. After abandoning their mission, the men split up. Zander and Lorenz went to the house of Zander’s relatives in Hanover. From there, Zander proceeded south until he reached Munich, where he stayed with his wife, and then continued to Tegernsee. At Tegernsee, Zander hid his documents in a trunk. He changed his name, identity, status, and began a new life under the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Paustin. Johannmeier meanwhile went to his family’s home in Iserlohn in Westphalia, and buried his documents in a bottle in the back garden. Lorenz ended up in Luxembourg and found work as a journalist under an assumed name. Their existence and mission would not be known to the Allies until November. [12]

The Moscow radio’s first announcement of the German report of Hitler’s death, broadcast at 312am on May 2 to the Russian people, declared that “The German radio statement evidently represents a new Fascist trick.” The radio announcement was prefaced by the phrase “it is asserted that,” indicating that the Russians were skeptical of the German version of Hitler’s fate. The broadcast said that Doenitz’s order to the German troops was repeating “the usual trickery and twists of Hitlerite propaganda.” The Moscow broadcast said that, “by the dissemination of the statement on the death of Hitler, the German Fascists evidently hope to prepare for Hitler the possibility of disappearing from the scene and going to an underground position.” [13]

The New York Times on May 2 carried an editorial entitled “The End of Hitler,” referencing the German radio announcement that Hitler had died the previous afternoon in his command post at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin “fighting to his last breath against bolshevism.” The editorial, after noting that the announcement indicated that Doenitz had been named as Hitler’s successor, observed that:

The Nazis have made lies so much a part of their politics, and their reports about Hitler’s alleged doubles have been so widely spread, that these announcements are bound to leave in many minds the suspicion that the master liar is attempting to perpetrate one last great hoax on the world in an effort to save himself, and perhaps prepare the way for his return at a later and more auspicious time. Yet, whether true or not, the announcement does mark the end of Hitler and the regime that plunged the world into this war and formed the core of the fanatical German resistance which has cost so much Allied blood and effort.

All things considered, there seems to be no good reason to doubt that Hitler is dead, or that he died as the announcement says he did. Logically, he had to die that way, and had he tried to evade his fate, it is difficult to believe that even his most devoted followers would have permitted him to do so.

The editorial added that it seemed probably that Hitler “fell as he was supposed to fall-in the roar and terror of battle, amid the crumbling walls of his capital, in the Chancellery which he had built as the seat of his world dominion, and at a moment when the conquering Russian armies were planting their victory banners on the scenes of his former triumphs.” [14]

Near the end of President Truman’s news conference on May 2, he was asked if he would care to comment on the death of Hitler or Mussolini. He responded “Well, of course, the two principal war criminals will not have to come to trial; and I am very happy they are out of the way.” He was then asked if that meant “that we know officially that Hitler is dead?” Truman responded “Yes.” He was then asked if he knew how Hitler died, to which Truman said “No, we do not.” Truman was asked “Is it official? This is confirmation that Hitler is dead?” Truman responded:  “We have the best–on the best authority possible to obtain at this time that Hitler is dead. But how he died we are not-we are not familiar with the details as yet.” Truman was asked if he could name the authority. “I would rather not” Truman replied. Finally, Truman was asked if he was convinced that the authority he gave was the best possible and that the information was true. “Yes” was his reply. The next day Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson followed the lead of Truman in expressing the opinion that Hitler was dead.[15]

Hans Fritzsche, former Ministerial Director of the Propaganda Ministry, on May 2, being held captive in Berlin, spoke about Hitler’s end. A reporter with the First U.S. Army on May 2 reported that a former high official of the German Foreign Office [Hans Fritzsche] said that day that he and his colleagues believed that Hitler was dead, his body would not be discovered, and that the Nazis would claim cremation. He also said “But admittedly there exists a possibility he is alive and attempting to disappear through feigning death.” A communiqué issued in Moscow during the night of May 2-3 announced that Hitler and Goebbels had committed suicide. This statement was attributed to Fritzsche. From London on May 3 a report was made, citing the Soviet communiqué that Fritsche had said General Krebs, Goebbels, and Hitler had all committed suicide. From London on May 3 it was reported that a deposition made by Goebbels’ chief assistant that both Goebbels and Hitler had committed suicide in Berlin was given to the world early that day by Red Army forces after they had occupied Berlin. Fritsche, was quoted in the Soviet communiqué as having reported also the suicide of Krebs. The statement of Fritsche, noted a reporter, added another version of Hitler’s demise to two already given: that he had died in battle and that he had succumbed to cerebral hemorrhage. [16]

From Moscow on May 3 came a story that the Soviets were looking for Hitler and were not convinced that he, Goebbels, and other Nazi leaders actually committed suicide. Well-known Pravda writer Nikolai Tikhonoff, wrote: “We shall see what has really happened to him. And if he escaped, we shall find him, no matter where he is.” [17]

The official Soviet news agency on May 6 sent a wireless communiqué to all communist newspapers published outside the Soviet Union that Soviet authorities were conducting a very thorough investigation into the matter of Hitler’s fate and the world would soon know the true facts. “Up to now Nazi deviousness and Machiavellian finesse have succeeded in shrouding this in mystery.” [18] An Associated Press reporter in Moscow on May 7 reported that Russian investigators combed Berlin again that day for evidence of Hitler, and although a group of German generals insisted anew that he was dead by his own hand there was nothing to indicate the Soviets were any closer to a final resolution of his reported death. A Pravda dispatch from Berlin said the examination of bodies discovered in the courtyard of the Chancellery annex, the Reichstag and other public buildings where high Nazis shot themselves, was continuing. Nothing had been discovered to back up the Hitler suicide theory, however, it stated. AP ended the piece: “As each day goes by without confirmation of Hitler’s and Goebbels’ reported suicides the suspicion grows here that Hitler and his henchmen are still alive. Most speculation is that they have gone to some neutral country, or perhaps by long-range submarine to Japan.”[19]

Time magazine on May 7 had as its cover the likeness of Hitler’s face with a red X on it. The related story stated that:

Adolf Hitler had been buried, dead or alive, in the rubble of his collapsing Third Reich. Whether or not he had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage (as reported from Stockholm), or had “fallen in his command post at the Reich chancellery” (as reported by the Hamburg radio, which said that he had been succeeded as Führer by Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz), or was a prisoner of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler as a political force had been expunged. If he were indeed dead, the hope of most of mankind had been realized. For seldom had so many millions of people hoped so implacably for the death of one man. [20]

At Berlin on May 10, SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) issued a press release indicating that at least four bodies, one of which may be Hitler, had been found by the Russians in Berlin. However, none of them has been identified as being definitely that of Hitler. The press release added that the bodies of Goebbels and his family, of Martin Bormann, and of a number of other top Nazis had been found and identified with fair certainty. For a week, the press release continued, the Russians had searched through the ruins of the underground fortress where Hitler and his gang were. Somewhere amid the underground ruins, Hitler’s body charred beyond real recognition by flamethrowers, Hitler probably met his death. The Russians believe he might have been killed beforehand by the people around him. [21]

Hermann Goering on May 11, at Augsburg, told reporters that he was satisfied that Hitler was dead and that Hitler’s body had been disposed of so it would not fall into the hands of the Russians. On May 15, at Berchtesgaden, one of Hitler’s stenographers, Gerhard Herrgesell, told a reporter he thought there still was a possibility that Hitler was alive, but was personally convinced that Hitler died in the Bunker with Eva Braun, some SS men and probably Bormann. Herrgesell speculated that plans were made some time ago to prevent Hitler’s body from falling into the hands of the Russians. He thought the bodies of Hitler and a few close associates may have been placed in a vault in the basement of one of the government buildings and then sealed by blasting debris down upon it. Dr. Theodor Morrell, Hitler’s personal physician for eight years, told a reporter on May 21 that he did not believe Hitler had committed suicide, but believed that Hitler was dead, probably from a heart condition. [22]

During an informal exchange on May 13, Allied counter-intelligence officers were told by Russian officers that Soviet specialists had found new proof that Hitler, mentally unbalanced and partially paralyzed, had been killed in his bunker on May 1 by an injection of poison administered to him by Dr. Stumpfegger. [23]

Time magazine on May 14 carried a story with the title “Victory in Europe: The Many Deaths of Adolf Hitler,” in which it said that Hitler had died more deaths in one week than any man in history. The article noted that Hamburg radio had said that Hitler had died “at his command post in the Reich Chancellery, fighting the Russians to the last; said Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who had it from Heinrich Himmler on April 24; Hitler had a cerebral hemorrhage, might already be dead; said Dr. Hans Fritzsche, captured Goebbels deputy: Hitler had committed suicide; said the Tokyo radio: Hitler was killed by an exploding shell as he walked down the steps of his Berlin Chancellery; said the Paris-Presse: After a quarrel with Hitler over the continuation of the war, other Nazi leaders blew him to bits by a bomb placed in his underground fortress in the Tiergarten on April 21; said the London Daily Express: Hitler is on his way to Japan in a U-boat; and, said United Press war correspondent Edward W. Beattie Jr.: Germans believed that Hitler was killed in last year’s bomb plot.” The Time article stated that Soviet soldiers dug deep into the rubble of the Reich Chancellery for Hitler’s corpse. They did not find it, and Fritzsche explained to them: “The body has been hidden in a place impossible to find.” Time noted that the Russians were determined to find Hitler, dead or alive. Said Pravda: “Whether he escaped to hell, to the devil’s paws, or to the arms of fascist protectors, still he is no more. We shall find out what really happened to him. And if he escaped, we shall find him, no matter where he is.”[24]

On May 26 Harry L. Hopkins (Adviser and Assistant to the President), W. Averell Harriman (Ambassador to the Soviet Union), and Charles E. Bohlen (Assistant to the Secretary of State) met with Joseph Stalin at the Kremlin in Moscow. Near the end of the meeting, Hopkins said he hoped the Russians would find the body of Hitler. Stalin replied that in his opinion Hitler was not dead but hiding somewhere. He said the Soviet doctors thought they had identified the body of Goebbels and Hitler’s chauffeur [Kempka], but that he, personally, even doubted if Goebbels was dead and said the whole matter was “strange and the various talks of funerals and burials struck him as being very dubious.” Stalin said he thought that Bormann, Goebbels, Hitler and probably Krebs had escaped and were in hiding. Hopkins said that he knew the Germans had several very large submarines but that no trace of them had been found and added that he hoped they would track Hitler down wherever he might be. Stalin said he also knew of those submarines which had been running back and forth between Germany and Japan taking gold and negotiable assets from Germany to Japan. He added that he had ordered his intelligence service to look into the matter of the submarines but so far they had failed to discover any trace and therefore he thought it was possible that Hitler and company had gone in them to Japan.[25]

Office of Strategic Services officer Richard W. Cutler wrote that for a short time after their defeat, a number of Germans simply could not accept the fact that Hitler had died, even though the death had been proclaimed by Doenitz. Hitler’s body had not been found and rumors persisted that he was still alive.[26] Senior British intelligence officer Dick White had recognized from the start the importance of solving the mystery of Hitler’s death. “Hitler had captured the imagination of the German people; so long as the possibility remained that he might be still alive, the stability and security of the occupied zones could not be guaranteed.” [27] White had convinced Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander-in-Chief of the British Zone, of the need for an inquiry into Hitler’s fate. After the German surrender he had gone, with Montgomery’s blessing, to Berlin, where the Russians assured him that both Hitler and Goebbels had committed suicide, and that their bodies had been burnt. White had been shown a set of false teeth identified as Hitler’s. [28] Now, at the end of May the mystery deepened and widened. Many Germans were convinced Hitler was not dead, and if he did die, he had done so in the matter explained by Doenitz. Meanwhile the Soviets seemed to be increasingly changing their story. During the summer the confusion and contradictions would continue.


Footnotes

[1] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 184.

[2] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 207. Copy of a complete teleprint of the message, timed at 750pm, in German can be found in Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. Speer indicates the message was sent at 635 pm. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, trans. By Richard and Clara Winston (New York: Avon Books, 1971), p. 615, note. Another source indicates the message was sent at 540 pm. von Lang, The Secretary, p. 330. Another version reads: “Replacing former Reichsmarshall Goering, the Fuehrer appointed you, Grossadmiral, as his successor. Confirmation in writing dispatched. You are to take immediately any action resulting from the present situation.” Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Bormann, April 30, 1945, received 635pm, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5,, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331.

[3] Admiral Karl Doenitz, Memoirs: A Documentary of the Nazi Twilight (New York: Belmont Books, 1961), pp. 188-189, 191.

[4] Testimony of Wilhelm Keitel, taken at Nuremberg, Germany, October 10, 1945, 1040-1305, by Mr. Thomas J. Dodd, OUSCC, File: Keitel, Wilh. (Vol. IV 4 Oct-10 Oct 45), I., Interrogations, Summaries of Interrogations, and Related Records, 1945-1946 (NAID 6105243) Record Group 238.

[5] Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Bormann, May 1, 1945, received 1053am, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331. A copy of this message in German can found in Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. According Doenitz the message was dispatched at 740am on May 1. Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 191.

[6] Doenitz, Memoirs, pp. 191, 192.

[7] Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 192.

[8] Doenitz, Memoirs, pp. 192-193. On May 1, Doenitz also issued the following declaration to the members of the German Armed Forces: “I expect discipline and obedience. Chaos and ruin can be prevented only by the swift and unreserved execution of my orders. Anyone who at this juncture fails in his duty and condemns German women and children to slavery and death is a traitor and a coward. The oath of allegiance which you took to the Fuehrer now binds each and every one of you to me, whom he himself appointed as his successor. Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 198.

[9] Doenitz, Memoirs, p. 198.

[10] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 210-211. Copy of a teleprint of the message in German can be found at Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226. Another source indicates that this message was sent at 216pm on May 1 and was signed by both Goebbels and Bormann. von Lang,  The Secretary, pp. 331-332. Another version of the message reads: “Fuehrer died yesterday 1530 hours. His will dated 29 April appoints you as President of the Reich, Reichminister Dr. Goebbels as Prime Minister, Reichsleiter Bormann as Party Minister, Reichsminister Seyss-Inequart as Foreign Minister. Upon the Fuehrer’s orders, copies of his will were dispatched to you and to Field Marshall Schoerner and taken away from Berlin in order to safeguard it for the public. Reichsleiter Bormann will try today to come to see you, in order to inform you about the situation. Form and time of announcement to public and troops are at your own discretion. Acknowledge receipt.” Translation of Wireless message to Doenitz from Goebbels, May 1, 1945, received 318 pm, enclosure to Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, Chief, Control Party, SHAEF Control Party at OKW to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, Subject: Transmission of Records, May 18, 1945, File: 383.6/4 Interrogation of Prisoners of War, Decimal File, May 1943-August 1945 (NAID 568109) Record Group 331.

[11] Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: Regular Intelligence Report No. 143123, Intelligence Reports (“Regular” Series), 1941-1945 (NAID 6050264) Record Group 226; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 211. Other sources indicated that Doenitz had made the announcement at 930pm on May 1 during which time Doenitz had indicated that Hitler, “fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism, fell for Germany this afternoon in his operational command post in the Reich Chancellery.” Fischer, Nazi Germany, pp. 568-569; Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945, p. 381.

[12] Memorandum, Arnold H. Weiss, Special Agent, CIC, Munich Sub-Regional Office  to the Officer in Charge, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Re: Location and Arrest and Recovery of Hitler’s Documents, December 30, 1945, attachment to Memorandum, 1st Lt. Marvin L. Edwards, CIC, Commanding to Commanding Officer, 970/CIC, Regional Office IV, Subject: Zander, Wilhelm, alias Paustin, Friedrich Wilhelm, Adjutant to Bormann; Unterholzner, Ilsa, secretary to Bormann, January 4, 1946; 1st Indorsement, 1st Lt. Joseph E. Gagan, Executive, CIC Region, IV to Chief, CIC, CIB, Headquarters, USFET, January 4, 1946, File: D011874, Zander, Willi [Wilhelm], Personal Name File, Security Classified Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers, 1939-1976 (NAID 645054) RG 319; Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: XE013274, Willi Johannmeier, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 219-220; Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, p. 179; Adam Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010), p. 139; Herman Rothman, ed. by Helen Fry, Hitler’s Will, (Glocestershire, United Kingdom: The History Press, 2009), pp. 101, 103.

[13] Associated Press, “Just a ‘Fascist Trick,’ Moscow Radio Asserts,” The New York Times, May 2, 1945, p. 2.

[14] “The End of Hitler,” The New York Times, May 2, 1945, p. 22.

[15] Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States Harry S. Truman Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President April 12 to December 31, 1945 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1961), pp. 38-39; Special to The New York Times, “Truman Believes Hitler Dead,” The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 10; Special to The New York Times, “Stimson Accepts Death Story,” The New York Times, May 4, 1945, p. 3.

[16] United Press, “Cremation Report Predicted,” The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 10; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 243;Cable to The New York Times, London, May 3, 1945, “Goebbels and Fuehrer Died By Own Hands, Aide Says, The New York Times, May 3, 1945, p. 1.

[17] Wireless to The New York Times, “Russians Find No Trace of Hitler in Berlin, Moscow Paper Reports,” The New York Times, May 4, 1945, p. 3.

[18] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 244.

[19] Associated Press, “New Berlin Search Fails to Find Hitler,” The New York Times, May 8, 1945, p. 10.

[20] “Germany: The Betrayer,” Time, Vol. XLV, No. 19, May 7, 1945.

[21] Public Relations Division, SHAEF, SHAEF Release No. 1450, May 10, 1945, File: SHAEF Public Relations Division Releases, May 1-10, 21-31, 1945, Press Releases, Jun 1944-Jul 1945 (NAID 622519) Record Group 331.

[22] Associated Press, “Scared Goering Puts Entire Blame for Atrocities on Hitler,” The Washington Post, May 12, 1945, p. 2; Jack Fleischer, United Press, “Hitler in Fuddle for 2 Days Deciding He’d Die in Berlin,” Washington Times-Herald, May 16, 1945, p. 4; Tania Long, “Doctor Describes Hitler Injections,” The New York Times, May 22, 1945, p. 5.

[23] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 244-245.

[24] “Victory In Europe: The Many Deaths of Adolf Hitler,” Time, Vol. XLV, No. 20, May 14, 1945.

[25] Memorandum by the Assistant to the Secretary of State (Bohlem), of 1st Conversation at the Kremlin, 8 P.M., May 26, 1945, File: 740.00119 (Potsdam)/6-645, Central Decimal Files, 1910-1963 (NAID 302021) Record Group 59.

[26] Richard W. Cutler, Counterspy: Memoirs of a Counterintelligence Officer in World War II and the Cole War (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc., 2004), p. 65.

[27] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 133.

[28] Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, p. 133.

Posted in Archives II, Military Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Tale of Two Memos

Morgan Fox was a summer intern in the Archives 1 Processing Section in Washington, DC.

During my internship in the Archives 1 Processing Section, I had the opportunity to work on various projects to help make records more accessible to researchers.  One of the first projects involved the creating of a folder list for a series entitled, Commander Scouting Force, Sundry Subject Files, 1937-1942 (NAID 18521273), which is part of Record Group 313 (Records of Naval Operating Forces).  As I poured through the boxes of this series, the contents of one file labeled “Letters and Memos from the Flag Office” caught my eye.  Inside were two formerly confidential memoranda, both issued from the same naval station, Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, but on different dates.  What I found interesting about these two documents was the timeline: the first memorandum was dated just over one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, on October 30, 1941; while the second was written almost one month afterwards on January 8, 1942.

The first memorandum was written by H.E. Kimmel, a four-star admiral of the U.S. Navy and the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, and forwarded to notable staff and commanders such as Vice Admiral William Pye, Vice Admiral William Halsey, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, Rear Admiral Walter Anderson, Rear Admiral Milo Draemel, and Rear Admiral Herbert Leary.  The memorandum was issued from the USS Pennsylvania, a super-dreadnought battleship established as the lead ship of the Pennsylvania class in the Navy.  As many know, the USS Pennsylvania was one of the first ships to open fire on the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This formerly confidential memo highlights seven specific points made at a conference between Kimmel and the above-listed commanders on October 29, 1941.  It begins by mentioning the commanders’ suggestion to amend the current sortie plan “should it become necessary to sortie at night.” (Note: A “sortie” is an attack made by troops coming out from a position of defense or strongpoint.)  Also discussed was the need to reduce the lights during a sortie, specifically buoy lights that must be “shaded from overhead,” as well as improve the markings in the harbor in order to increase visibility on incoming boats.

Adm. Kimmel makes note of other items discussed during the conference: a “blackout on the land in order to protect our patrol craft operating near land from being silhouetted and thereby presenting excellent targets to submarines”; the “necessity for getting ahead” with night gunnery practices; the modification of security measures in operating areas; and an increase in the readiness of all ships in the event of an emergency.

However, what made this memo so significant to me were the words and phrases sprinkled throughout, like “as soon as after war is declared as may be practicable”; “if and when the situation worsens”; and “the disabling of a major unit might cause internal repercussions.”  Even though I knew what was to happen in one month’s time, I still felt a sense of foreboding when reading the memo.

The second memorandum (also formerly confidential) was written by Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, the same who was copied on the first memo. He was also copied onto the Night Order Book, which is a set of guidelines added to the standing orders of the Master of the ship who is in charge of everything on board.  The memorandum was issued from the USS Lexington (CV-2), one of the Navy’s first aircraft carriers that remained part of the United States Pacific Fleet for her entire career; the fleet headquarters is even located in Pearl Harbor Naval Station. The USS Lexington served as a flagship for Task Force 11 out of Pearl Harbor under Vice Admiral Brown.

Due to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Brown issued this memorandum to outline correct actions for Staff Duty Officers and others to take in the event of emergencies.  He emphasized that Staff Duty Officers should not hesitate to take “prompt and immediate action” during an emergency, as long as they reported their actions later.  These reports, however, needed to be “so phrased as to give the Officer receiving the report a clear understanding of the situation and all of its implications.”  For example, Officers were instructed not to use the simple phrase, “Submarine bearing __”, which is vague and calls into question whether or not a submarine has been sighted by planes, ships, or vessels; has sound contact; or has neared the ship or sea.  The phrase also provides no detail about the actions the Staff Duty Officer has taken or believes should be taken upon detecting a submarine. Instead, Officers should create complete, detailed reports in order to have a clear picture and specific understanding of the situation at large, whether it be a Japanese ship about to attack or otherwise. The second memorandum thus functions as an extreme word of caution to expect the unexpected, even if it comes in the form of a surprise attack from the enemy.

While I don’t claim to be a naval or World War II historian, I do find it fascinating that these seemingly innocuous documents are sitting in files in boxes, written before and after an event that was one of the defining moments in U.S. history.  It goes to show that you never know what you may find when exploring records at the National Archives.

Posted in Archives I, History, Military Records, The Process, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Hunting Hitler Part V: The Garden (Evening, April 30)

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the fifth post in a multi-part series.

It was now shortly after 4pm, April 30, 1945. Both Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were dead, having committed suicide some ten minutes earlier. Linge, Hitler’s valet, placed Hitler’s body on a blanket and wrapped it around him, and he and another man picked up the body and moved it into the central corridor. There, Linge at the front end carrying the legs and Hoegl, Ewald Lindloff, and Hans Reisser at the back end carrying the head and shoulders, and possibly Sturmbannfuehrer Franz Schedle (commander of the SS Escort), immediately moved through the central corridor in the direction of the bunker’s emergency exit that led into the Chancellery garden. As they moved through the bunker, only the lower extremities – clad in black trousers, black silk socks and black leather shoes, such as Hitler habitually wore – were visible to Axmann, Mohnke (who had just shown up) and others and clearly recognizable. Initially following Hitler’s body upstairs out of the bunker were Goebbels, Krebs, and Burgdorf. Guensche, after interacting with Eric Kempka, who had just shown up, followed the others up the stairs.[1]

Meanwhile, Kempka, who had been tasked with finding petrol and having it placed near the garden exit and then to report to Guensche, hurried by the quickest route over rubble and wrecked vehicles in the Chancellery area to Guensche, to find out what was happening. At the moment he entered the bunker, Guensche was leaving Hitler’s room, and they met in the lobby to the situation conference room. Kempka wrote “His features had changed visibly. As white as chalk and distraught, he stared at me.” Kempka told Guensche that he must be mad asking him to endanger the lives of a half dozen of his men to bring petrol under the extensive and continuing artillery bombardment. Guensche told him Hitler was dead. Kempka asked where Braun was. Guensche said she was still in Hitler’s room and briefly told him about the suicides. Just then Bormann came out of the antechamber with Braun’s body in his arms. Those that witnessed this could see that the blanket she had been wrapped in did not cover her head and feet. Kempka felt that Bormann “was carrying her as if she were a sack of potatoes…So I grabbed the body of Eva Braun Hitler from Bormann and began to carry her up the stairs myself. I think if Bormann had resisted my effort, I would have hauled him off and clobbered him, but he made no protest.” Kempka noticed that she bore no signs of injuries or blood. When he had reached the middle landing of the staircase with her body, Guensche came down the steps toward him, and noticing that Kempka’s strength was failing, took the body from Kempka without saying a word. Guensche immediately noticed an intense smell of almonds emanating from the body and noticed that the body showed no signs of injury. Guensche turned the body over to SS officers as he reached the top of stairs. Kempka would be behind them.[2]

As the guard, Hans Hofbeck, opened the emergency exit door, Erich Mansfeld, on duty at the guard station in the bunker’s concrete tower, opened the iron window of the tower and noticed who he thought to be Hofbeck and three members of Hitler’s bodyguard running out. A few minutes later Mansfeld left the tower and went over to the emergency exit to see what was happening. He went into the exit and immediately met several SS officers carrying a body wrapped in a blanket, with black-trousered legs up to the knees protruding from it, as well as part of the left arm and all of the right arm. Mansfeld immediately believed it was Hitler based on the black trousers and the shoes he recognized. Then Mansfeld saw another SS officer carrying the unmistakable corpse of Braun, who he had seen on many occasions and who was wearing the same dress she had been wearing when Mansfeld had talked to her about 12 hours earlier. Behind them followed Bormann, Goebbels, Guensche, Linge, Kempka, Burdorf, and possibly Stumpfegger. Guensche shouted at Mansfeld to get out of the way quickly and return to his post. In the excitement of the moment Mansfled remained a few minutes on the stairway leading from the bunker and then he returned to his tower.[3]

As the bodies were on the verge of being carried out the emergency exit door to the garden, the Reich Chancellery area was being heavily shelled by the Russians. There were explosions very close by. Numerous fountains of soil plumed up. The air was filled with dust and smoke. Waiting for a pause between the shelling, both corpses were carried out through the exit, where they were laid down next to each other about two to four meters from the garden exit. At the moment Braun’s body was being put down, Bormann stepped up to Hitler’s body and freed the head from the blanket and stared at him for several seconds. While Guensche was still bent over, having helped put Braun’s body down, he again saw Hitler’s head for a short moment. In the meantime the bloodstains from the temple had spread further over the face. Then Bormann pulled the blanket over him again. [4]

Meanwhile Kempka rushed back to the shelter of the bunker, stopping for a moment, waiting for the next salvoes to arrive. Then he seized a canister of petrol, ran out again and placed it near the two bodies. Kempka then took off the cap of the petrol can. But then, shells exploded close by, spattering them with earth and dust, metal splinters whirred and whistled above them. Again he and some of the others who had not returned to inside the bunker exit earlier (probably Guensche and Bormann) ran to the bunker entrance for cover. They waited for the shelling in their area to die down. Then Kempka ran out speedily and grabbed the canister and poured the contents over the two bodies, while Guensche and Linge grabbed canisters, left the bunker exit, and poured petrol on Braun. Flying earth from exploding shells continued to spatter them. Kempka then fetched one fuel canister after another from the bunker entrance and poured them until the bodies were sufficiently soaked. Perhaps 40 to 50 gallons were used. Someone quickly tried to set the corpses on fire with a match, but this proved impossible, because of the various fires in the garden had created a fierce wind circulating in the area. Then the artillery bombardment increased to such an extent that it was no longer possible to leave the safety of the bunker entrance and for a few minutes none ventured out. [5]     

Next, either Linge or Guensche acquired a large rag near the fire hoses at the bunker exit. The rag was torn in half, a petrol canister near the exit was opened, and the rag was soaked by Guensche with the contents. Goebbels took a box of matches from his pocket and handed it to either Bormann or Kempka, who lit the rag, handed it to Linge or Guensche who threw it towards the petrol-soaked corpses, which caught fire immediately. A gigantic flame shot upwards, soon followed by billowing black smoke. Standing at the bunker entrance Bormann, Goebbels, Stumpfegger, Guensche, Kempka, Linge, and some of the others, very quickly raised their hands for a last Hitler salute. The door had to be quickly slammed shut against the encroaching fire and fumes. They, the SS officers, and probably Krebs, Burgdorf, and Rattenhuber, lingered in silence by the closed door. Then they went down the stairs into the bunker. Guensche remained in the exit for a short while, and he ordered Hofbeck not to let anyone in or out. Subsequently, Guensche, like all the others, went back down into the bunker. The whole process had taken less than ten minutes. [6]

A few seconds before the burning rag was thrown onto the bodies Sergeant Hermann Karnau, one of the guards, stumbled upon the two bodies lying side by side, close to the door of the Bunker. Karnau had disobeyed orders and out of curiosity, came through the tunnel from the Chancellery to the main entrance of the bunker. When he got there he found the door bolted. So he retraced his steps to the Chancellery. From there he went into the garden, with the intention of entering the bunker from the emergency exit door. As he neared the door, he saw two bodies on the ground. He immediately recognized one of the bodies aa Hitler. It was lying on its back wrapped in a blanket. The blanket was folded open on both sides of the upper body, so that the head and chest were uncovered. The skull was partially caved in and the face encrusted with blood. The second corpse was lying with its back upwards. It was completely covered by the blanket except for the lower legs. He noticed jerricans near the bodies. As he was looking at the bodies, they burst, spontaneously it seemed, into flame. He could not explain the sudden combustion. He saw no one. He was three feet away from the bodies. From his vantage point the interior of the exit was not visible, so he did not see the people in the shelter of the entrance nor the burning rag thrown on the bodies. While this was taking place, the whole complex of the Chancellery lay under heavy fire, so Karnau did not linger to watch the burning corpses. By the time he was entering the emergency exit door, the others had already gone back into the bunker. Hofbeck allowed him entry and he went down to the bunker. There he met Schedle, who told him “The Fuehrer is dead…he is burning outside.” [7]

After the bodies had been set alight and all the people had returned to the interior of the bunker, Hofbeck remained on guard and again opened the door a short time later, which however was only possible for a brief moment because heavy petrol fumes and smoke blew towards him. There was a wind blowing towards the exit. On opening the door he could see that the bodies were still burning.[8]

Mansfeld having just returned to the tower, saw through an observations slit in the tower a huge column of black smoke coming from the direction of the emergency exit. A few minutes later, when the smoke had partly cleared, he could see the two burning bodies, about, he thought, two meters, to the left of the emergency exit. He recognized the body of Braun but could not be certain of the other body as that of Hitler’s.[9]

Meanwhile, Gertrude Junge (Hitler’s secretary) in the upper bunker with the Goebbels children, said that shortly after 410pm the smell of gasoline penetrated the bunker. Sometime before 430pm she recalled that Guensche came along, sat down next to her, and said “‘Now I completed the last and most difficult order in my life. I burnt the Chief and Eva. Eva was still warm when I carried her up. But the poison smells terribly, I cannot endure this smell anymore. Sturmbannfuehrer Heinz Linge has carried out the Chief. Now there is a heap of ashes lying and that is all that still remained.’” Sometime later, Junge said she was told by Linge, that both Hitler and Braun had just been cremated in the park of the Reich Chancellery, as was their will. Junge also said she met Kempka later and he told her that the bodies had been consumed.[10]

Guensche, Linge, and Kempka, besides speaking with Junge, would spend time clearing out Hitler’s quarters, retrieving the pistols; removing Hitler’s clothing, his personal effects and his medicine; and having the blood-stained rug taken outside and burned near the burning corpses. Linge burned all the papers that lay on Hitler’s desk.[11]   

Meanwhile Mansfeld on duty in the tower, at intervals he saw SS men pour more petrol on the bodies to keep them alight. Around 530pm, Mansfeld was relieved of his post by Karnau. On his way to the emergency exit he recognized the remains of the still burning body of the woman. The other was almost completely burned and no longer recognizable. During the next three hours, Karnau and Mansfeld took turns in the tower. During those hours, when they left the tower, they looked at the bodies, which were charred and no longer identifiable. By 8pm the lower parts of both bodies had been burned away. At 9pm when Mansfeld visited the bodies again, they were still burning, but the flame was low. [12]

What happened next is not clear, especially since much contradictory information was provided by various participants, especially Mansfeld and Kempka, mostly during the early 1950s. It appears, however, whatever remains existed of the two bodies, sometime after 9pm, were moved on a tent shelter-half and dragged to a deep shell crater, about four or five meters from the exit, in the opposite direction of where the bodies were initially laid and burned. There the remains were placed in the crater and covered with earth and rubble. Sometime between 11pm and 1130pm, Mansfeld, from the tower, no longer saw the bodies. He did see, however, a bomb crater four to five meters in front of the emergency exit door, half filled with dirt. He was of the opinion the bodies were buried in the crater.[13]   


Footnotes

[1] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Testimony of Erich Kempka, July 3, 1946, Official Transcripts International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany, July 3, 1946, p. 12,897, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation  Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 201-202; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 153-154, 192-196; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 78, 79; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 33, 35, 41,Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[2] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Testimony of Erich Kempka, July 3, 1946, Official Transcripts International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany, July 3, 1946, p. 12,897, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 201-202; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 76-78; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 193, 195, 196, 197; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 260; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 14, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 33, 34, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[3] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations,  Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 202-203.

[4] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS,  United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 78-79; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 192, 193, 202-203;  Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195. Kempka said that when the bodies were laid down nobody lifted the blanket. He may have been correct, but it is also possible that he was still in the exit entrance or in the process of retrieving the first canister of fuel and did not witness what was happening to the bodies. [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 22, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[5] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 203;  Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 79-80; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 197, 198, 199, 211; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; [Interrogation of] Christa Schroeder, Ludwigsburg, January 25, 1948, p. 6, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 19, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[6] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46 (NAID 305264) Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 80; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 200; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 195; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 197-199; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 272; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 23, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University. The cremation Axmann believed took place about 430pm. Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, p. 38, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[7] Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 203-204; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 200; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 263-264.

[8] Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199.

[9] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153.

[10]  Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, pp. 5-6, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude,  Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054) Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 48, 50, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[11] Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, ibid.; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 89; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 161, 162, 175; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, pp. 272, 273.

[12] Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); Interrogation of Hermann Karnau on September 26, 1945, on the subject of burning Hitler’s body, in continuation of previous interrogation reports on the same subject, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) Record Group 165; Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 204; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 214.

[13] Capt. James A. Love, Executive Officer, Bremen Interrogation Center, Enclave Military District, Final Interrogation Report (FIR) No. 43, Erich Mansfeld, August 3, 1945, File: 100-578, Persons and Places Case File (Dossier File), 1946-1949 (NAID 1688112) Record Group 153; Maj. Robert W. Minor, Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Bremen Interrogation Center, Bremen Enclave Military District, Intermediate Interrogation Report (IRR), Erich Mansfield, Alias Erich Skrzipczk, July 30, 1945, File: Mansfeld, Erich M-7, Reports, Interrogations, and Other Records Received from Various Allied Military Agencies, 1945-1947 (NAID 647749) Record Group 238 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M-1270, Roll 25); [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, pp. 17, 25, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 55, n. 70; 148, 149, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218-219, 220-222; Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, p. 221; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 266, 267, 268; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 204-205, 205, n. 11; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 121-122.

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Miscellaneous Records: Pest Control

Alyssa Tou was a summer intern in the Archives 1 Reference Section in Washington, DC.

Most recently, I have been working on compiling a box list for a little-perused but quite interesting series in the Records of the U.S. Naval Observatory (Record Group 78). This series is known as the Records of Astronomical Observations Made Chiefly In and Near Washington, with Subsequent Computations and Compilations, January 1845-1907  (NAID 2125269). But as I have discovered, much more is contained in this series than its title would suggest. In fact, the series includes many records of observations made far from Washington, most notably those from expeditions to Sumatra, Algeria, and Spain where observers witnessed total solar eclipses.

For the purposes of this blog, there is one particular file that I want to highlight.  It is housed in a box labeled “Miscellaneous,” and has little to do with astronomical observations. It is a letter originally sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy on July 26, 1919, from the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The subject line reads: “Eradication of Roaches in the Navy Department Building.”  Once I came across this, I knew that I had to look at it more closely, even though I was a bit leery of what I might encounter.

This letter contains a warning about the dangers of roaches; speculation on how roaches were entering the building, surviving, and propagating; and a recommendation for eliminating them. As per their reputation, roaches are presented as being particularly troublesome pests on account of their “unusual ability to preserve themselves from ordinary means of destruction” and their “rapidity of multiplication.” Much is made of the roach’s incredible versatility of diet as well: they are said to eat “dead animal matter, cereals, and in fact any form of food material; woolens, leather, and cloth of leather book bindings. Occasionally they turn cannibal. Probably dead roaches frequently disappear in this way.” The letter also comments on the roaches’ menace: they “soil everything they come in contact with, leaving a nauseous roachy odor.”

The recommendation for destruction mainly involves trapping roaches with plaster of Paris and water, a combination that sets once the roaches ingest it and that “clogs” their intestines. Another strategy that the letter suggests is to sprinkle sodium fluoride powder on all surfaces. Roaches walk through the substance and attempt to clean themselves by licking their feet, whereby the substance properly enters and poisons their systems.
While this letter might be found in other record groups, since it was sent by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and potentially distributed to other offices and agencies, its presence among this series of records was a surprise. For the most part, the “Records of Astronomical Observations Made Chiefly In and Near Washington” do deal with astronomical observations, but every so often something different from the other records in the box – like a letter about roaches – crops up.

NAID 2125269 Page 1

Page 1 of NAID 2125269 Memo

NAID 2125269 Page 2

Page 2 of NAID 2125269 Memo

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Hunting Hitler Part IV: The Bunker (Afternoon, April 30)

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the fourth blog in a multi-part series.

On April 30, in his bunker, Adolf Hitler lunched with his secretaries Gertrude Junge and Frau Gerda Christian and the vegetarian cook Fraulein Constanze Manzialy from 1pm till 2pm. Eva Braun did not join them. During the meal Hitler appeared calm and under control and told the women this was the last time they would eat together. Little of importance was said and there was no mention of the impending suicide. [1]  

After lunch Junge found a room where she could sit down and smoke a cigarette. Then she went to Braun’s private quarters and found her sorting out and preparing to give away most of her belongings as final gifts. She gave Junge her most valuable fur, saying “here’s a present for next winter and your life after the war. I wish you all the luck in the world. And when you put it on, always remember me and give my very best to our native Bavaria-das schoene Bayern.” (Bavaria the beautiful). Then Junge visited Frau Magda Goebbels, who was quite upset about the fate of her children [that she planned to poison, rather than have them fall into Russian hands].[2]

Hitler, meanwhile, after lunch, met with Martin Bormann. Bormann emerged into the antechamber from Hitler’s study and went straight up to Otto Guensche and told him that Hitler and Braun wanted to bring their lives to an end that day. Their bodies were to be drenched in petrol and burned in the garden of the Chancellery. That was Hitler’s categorical order. Under no circumstances should his body fall into Russian hands. Bormann asked Guensche to make sure that everything was made ready for the burning of the bodies and to make sure the bodies were burned. Guensche said he would take care of things. Shortly after getting the instructions from Bormann, Hitler came out of his room and told Guensche that he would now shoot himself and that Braun would also depart this life. He did not want to fall into the hands of the Russians either alive or dead. The bodies were to be burnt. He wished that nothing should remain of himself, so that the Russians could not desecrate his body or display it in any way. Hitler charged Guensche with the necessary preparations. The way he expressed it, Guensche would be personally responsible for this. Guensche assured Hitler that he would carry out his orders. [3]      

A few minutes later Johann Rattenhuber, and Hitler’s personal pilots, Hans Baur and George Betz, made their way, distraught, into the antechamber. They had just run into Bormann and learned from him that Hitler wanted to take his own life. Now they assailed Guensche with questions. He was just going to answer when the door opened and Hitler came out. Rattenhuber, Baur, Guensche, and Betz gave a Nazi salute. Hitler did not react but in a tired voice merely asked them to come closer. Hitler said “I have ordered that I am to be burned after my death. Make sure that my order is carried out to the letter. I will not have it that they take my body back to Moscow to exhibit in a cabinet of curiosities.” Hitler gave a lethargic gesture of farewell with his right arm and turned round and disappeared behind his study door. [4]

But Hitler then summoned Baur and Betz to his quarters. They entered the small study. Hitler clasped Baur’s hand with both of his and said in an emotional voice, “Baur, I’d like to bid you farewell!” Hitler told him that “My generals have betrayed me and sold me out, my soldiers don’t want to go on, and I cannot go on!” Baur again tried to convince Hitler that he could still fly him to Argentina, Japan, Japanese-held Manchukuo in Asia, or to friendly Arabs. But Hitler shook his head and explained that if he went to Berchtesgaden or to join Adm. Karl Doenitz in Flensburg, he would be in the same situation again within two weeks. According to Baur, Hitler said, “I will stand or fall with Berlin. A person must have the courage to suffer the consequences of his actions. I will take my own life, today!” Hitler thanked Baur for his long years of service and then presented him, as a gift, his favorite portrait of Frederick the Great by Anton Graf. It was the painting that Baur had carried from one headquarters to another during the war. [5]

Meanwhile Guensche began carrying out Hitler’s and Bormann’s orders. Around 230pm he called Erich Kempka (Hitler’s long-time chauffeur and head of the motor pool), who was living in the bunker next to the Chancellery garage, and asked him to bring ten jerricans (a German petrol-can contained 4.5 gallons) of petrol to the Fuehrer bunker immediately and to leave it in readiness at the emergency exit to the garden behind the Chancellery, and then report to him. To Kempka’s question as to why the petrol was needed, Guensche replied that he could not tell him over the phone. Kempka protested that it would be difficult to find so large a quantity at such short notice, but was told that it must be found. Ultimately he found most of what had been requested and it was quickly delivered to the designated spot.[6]

Soon afterwards Guensche, not wanting any casual observer to witness the final scene, ordered the SS men of the bodyguard and the Security Service who occupied the little room by the emergency exit to vacate the room and find another place. He even ordered the sentries who stood by the armor-plated door which led from the stairway to the emergency exit to go back into the bunker. Just one man, SS-Untersturmfuehrer Hofbeck, did Guensche leave by the emergency exit with the order to let no one pass. Then Guensche went into the hall of the bunker and took up his position by the antechamber door. His watch read 310pm. [7]

The final goodbyes came about 315pm, when Hitler and Braun made their last appearance in the main corridor of the lower Bunker, to say farewell to what was left of the Reich Chancellery Group. Present were Joseph Goebbels, Bormann, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Walter Hewel, Hans-Erich Voss, Dr. Haase, Rattenhuber, SS Staf. Hoegl, Heinz Linge, Guensche, Frau Christian, Frauelein Else Krueger, Frauelein Manzialy, and Werner Naumann.  He shook hands with each person and apparently, in a weak voice, mumbled something to some of them. While Hitler was saying his final goodbyes, Guensche found Junge and told her that Hitler wanted to say goodbye to her. She met him in the central corridor. He shook her hand. Junge said “it seemed as if he were not looking at me…I had the feeling he was not really seeing me.” He said a few words which she did not understand, but thought it was “All the best,” or something like that. Then Braun, very much composed, took leave of the gathering. She embraced Junge and said “see to it that you manage to get through to Munich and give my love to Bavaria.” Hitler and Braun then retired to Hitler’s study.[8] 

After speaking with Hitler and Braun, Junge, not wanting to be present during the suicides, not wanting to see the corpses, went quickly to the upper bunker where the Goebbels’ six children were playing. She occupied herself with the children, getting something for them to eat and calming them. [9]

Meanwhile, Guensche continued making arrangements. He contacted Hoegl, Schaedle, Lindloff, Reiser, and perhaps another officer or two of Hitler’s escort commando and had them posted in the upper Bunker. Their imminent task, he told them, would be to carry the two corpses out of the lower Bunker outside into the garden. Guensche then cleared the lower part of the Fuehrerbunker of all persons not belonging to the immediate circle and put a guard on the staircase leading to the upper part of the bunker with orders not to let anyone in any more. He gave the same order to Hofbeck, who was standing guard on the garden exit. He then returned and stationed himself directly before the door to the Hitler apartment to stand guard.[10]   

A little later, Braun came out of Hitler’s study into the small antechamber. She looked sad as she gave Linge her hand and said, “Goodbye, Linge. I hope that you get away from Berlin. If you run into my sister Gretl, don’t tell her how her husband died.” After thanking him for everything he had done for Hitler, she went to Frau Goebbels, who was in her husband’s room, where she had remained all day, agonizing over the impending death of her children. A few minutes later Braun left Goebbels’s room and went to the telephone exchange, where Guensche was to be found. She said to him, “Please tell the Fuehrer that Frau Goebbels has asked him to come to see her one more time.” Depending upon the sources, either Hitler went to Dr. Goebbels’ room to see Frau Goebbels or she was able to enter Hitler’s study to talk to him. In either case she begged Hitler not to take his life but escape to Berchtesgaden. Hitler said he had no other recourse than committing suicide and refused to discuss the matter further. He then thanked her for her commitment and services. Sobbing and trembling, she then left the room, walked past her husband in the corridor without speaking and went to the upper Bunker. Hitler then turned to Dr. Goebbels, who begged Hitler briefly to allow the Hitler Youth to take him out of Berlin. Hitler responded brusquely “Doctor, you know my decision. This is no change! You can of course leave Berlin with your family.” Goebbels replied that he would not do so. He intended to stay in Berlin and die there. Hitler then said to him, “I entrust you with the responsibility to see that our corpses are burned immediately.” Hitler then shook his hand, and returned to his room, where he was soon joined by Braun, who said goodbye to Guensche on her way back from Dr. Goebbels’ room. It was about 340pm when Guensche took up position in front of Hitler’s door.[11]

Before Hitler entered the room, Linge asked Hitler if he might say goodbye to him and ask if Hitler had any orders for him. Hitler said “Linge, I am going to shoot myself now. You know what you have to do.” Hitler then told him that “I have given orders to break out. Try to fight your way through to the west in small groups.” Either at this point, or perhaps earlier in the afternoon, Hitler had told Linge to take charge of things immediately after his death and it was he who was to give the word when to enter the death room. Linge gave the Nazi salute, they shook hands, and as Hitler entered the room he told Linge to wait at least ten minutes and then to enter if he had heard no sound. Linge lost his composure completely and raced up all the steep steps of the emergency-exit staircase, and out into the courtyard, where he ran into sharp artillery fire. Then, just as promptly, he ran back down the steps, speechless and wild-eyed. He then took up a position near Guensche who was guarding the door. [12]

Meanwhile, Arthur Axmann, head of the Hitler Youth came to the bunker to see the Goebbels. Dr. Goebbels told him that at that moment Hitler had already retired to his room to commit suicide along with Braun. Axmann desired to bid Hitler a personal farewell, but Guensche told him the Führer would admit nobody and refused to open the door. [13]   

Axmann then joined with Krebs, Burgdorf, Bormann, Naumann, Rattenhuber, Stumpfegger, Hewel, and Goebbels in the conference room. They talked about Hitler’s saying goodbye and in a very agitated state waited for the suicides to take place.[14]  

Sometime between 345pm and 4pm there were at different times at least six people almost as near the door to Hitler’s quarters as Guensche: Goebbels, Bormann, Linge, Krebs, Burgdorf, and Axmann and maybe one or two others. When not near the door, they were gathered in the nearby conference room. While Goebbels thought he may have heard a shot, the others did not. Guensche believed that none of them heard a shot, because of the sealed double doors. “Both these doors,” he said, “were fireproof, gasproof, hence soundproof.” Other witnesses argued that it was impossible to distinguish specific sounds over the constant pounding of the diesel engines and the humming of the ventilator fans in the bunker. [15]

In any event, after ten minutes or so (at a few minutes before 4pm), in keeping with Hitler’s instructions to wait that long before entering his room, Linge remarked to Guensche “I think it’s over” and went into the outer room. The strong fumes made his eyes smart. Choking, Linge closed and locked the door and then turned back to summon Bormann. “Frankly, I was trembling,” Linge says, “and I simply did not have the gumption to go in there by myself. It was too eerie.” Linge went to the conference room and told Bormann that he had entered the room and smelled gas from a discharged firearm. Immediately Bormann followed Linge to the door, opened it and they went into the room, gasping from toxic fumes.  According to Linge, Bormann “turned white as chalk and stared at me helplessly.” [16]    

Guensche entered the room after Linge and Bormann. He went to the conference room and told its occupants that Hitler was dead. Goebbels and Axmann, with Guensche, then went to Hitler’s outer room and entered it. They then joined Bormann and Linge in Hitler’s study.[17]    

Once in Hitler’s study Linge, Bormann, Axmann, Goebbels, and Guensche found that the room smelled of gunpowder, smoke and bitter almonds. They saw the bodies seated on the blue and white sofa standing against the wall opposite the door from the antechamber. Hitler was slumped at the right hand armrest of the sofa (left hand as the witnesses viewed it). His head was inclined to the right and slightly forward and his eyes open. In Hitler’s right temple gaped a bullet wound the size of a small coin. Form this spot a streaked trail of blood ran down to about the middle of his cheek. Hitler’s lower right arm was between the armrest of the sofa and his right thigh, and his open hand lay on his right knee, palm upwards. The left hung at his side. His feet were on the floor. They were pointing forwards and were about 12 to 15 inches apart. Next to Hitler’s right foot lay a 7.65mm Walther pistol, and next to his left foot a 6.35mm Walther pistol. On the carpet next to the sofa a puddle of blood the size of a plate had formed. The rear wall and the sofa were bespattered with blood. Next to Hitler was a dead Braun, with her head near, or resting on his left shoulder. She was wearing a blue dress, and showed no signs of injuries or blood. She was in the snug position she had assumed before swallowing the poison. Her upper body rested against the back of the sofa, the head was upright. Her legs were drawn up under her on the sofa. Her brightly colored high-heeled shoes stood side by side on the floor in front of the sofa. Her eyes were open and her bluish lips were firmly pressed together. [18]  

Linge immediately left the room and fetched the two woolen military blankets he had left in the antechamber to wrap Hitler up in. Goebbels, Bormann, Axmann, and Guensche remained with the bodies for several minutes in silence. Guensche finally snapped out of the trance and directed Linge, who had returned, to move aside the two chairs and the table, in order to spread the blankets onto the floor. While Linge was spreading out the blankets, Guensche went to get Hoegel, Schaedle, Lindloff, Reiser, whom he had put on call to be ready to assist with the bodies. Apparently, Bormann also left the room to call other people to lend a hand. Meanwhile, Dr. Stumpfegger arrived. He examined both bodies and pronounced Hitler and Braun dead. Goebbels and Axmann were wordless spectators to the activities taking place. Linge spread one of the blankets on the study floor in front of the sofa, and with the help of Bormann, or another person, he laid Hitler’s body on the ground and wrapped him in the blanket. Linge then called out to one of the others present that the blanket for Braun was in Hitler’s bedroom. The person he addressed in this manner was already occupied with her body. He does not remember who it was. [19]  

The next activities would be getting the bodies out of the bunker and then cremating them in the garden.


Footnotes

[1] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude,  Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 45, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 199-200; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 111; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 247-248; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 150-151.

[2] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude,  Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 45, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 248.

[3] Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 268; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 143-145; von Lang,  The Secretary, p. 329.

[4] Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 194; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensch, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 163-164; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, pp. 268-269; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 144-145.

[5] C. G. Sweeting, Hitler’s Personal Pilot: The Life and Times of Hans Baur (Washington, D.C.: Brassey’s, 2000), pp. 258, 264; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 247.

[6] Testimony of Mr. Erich Kempka on the last days of Hitler, Berchtesgaden, June 20, 1945, File: 3735-PS, United States Evidence Files, 1945-46, (NAID 305264), Record Group 238; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945, (NAID 2790598) Box 711, Captured Personnel and Material Branch, Records of the War Department General and Special Staff, Record Group 165; Strategic Services Unit, War Department, Intelligence Dissemination No. A-65458, Subject: Interview with Erna Flegel, Red Cross Nurse in Hitler’s Shelter, Date of Report: December 11, 1945, Distributed: February 25, 1946, File: 0240346, Army Intelligence Document Files, 1950-1955, (NAID 305269), Records of the Army Staff, Record Group 319; Historical Branch, War Department General Staff, G-2, Historical Interrogation Commission, Oberstrumbanfuehrer Erich Kempka, Chief Driver & Head of the Fuehrer’s Motor Pool, September 26, 1945, Third Army Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. O. J. Hale, Interrogator, File: Historical Interrogation Report, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945, (NAID 2790598) Box 711, Captured Personnel and Material Branch, Records of the War Department General and Special Staff, Record Group 165; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, pp. 75-76; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 200; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 269; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 110; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 146-147, 206; Michael A. Musmanno, Ten Days to Die (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1950), p. 214.

[7] Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 269; Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, p. 214; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 200.

[8] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 45-47, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 150, 152, 153; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 248-249; Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, pp. 215-216.

[9] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 47-48, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 187.

[10] Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 112; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 250; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 152, 153, 155.

[11] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent in Charge and Arthur R. Clarke, Special Agent, CIC, Operations, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Officer in Charge, Subject: Junge, Gertrude, June 13, 1946, p. 6, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 198; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, pp. 269, 270; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 200; Michael Musmanno, “Is Hitler Alive,” published in the Swiss newspaper Die Nation in issues 50, 51, and 52 of 1948 and issue 1 of 1949, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 323; Musmanno, Ten Days to Die, pp. 215, 216; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 153; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 250-251; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 114-115.

[12] Linge, With Hitler to the End, pp. 198-199; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 111-112; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 270; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 249-250; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 151, 153.

[13] Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 25-27. Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 251; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 115; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 157.

[14] Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, p. 27, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensch, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 164; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 153, 155; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 270.

[15] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 251-253; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 156; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 116.

[16] Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 199; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, pp. 270-271; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 253, 254, 257; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 154. Linge puts death at 350pm. He allegedly noted it by the grandfather clock in the antechamber to Hitler’s office, a clock he had always been at pains to keep running very accurately since Hitler himself took his time from this clock. Guensche puts the death at 330pm, claming to have looked at wristwatch. Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 153.

[17] Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 27-29, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 154-156; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 116-117; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271.

[18] Interrogation of Arthur Axmann, Palace of Justice, Nuremberg, 1630-1930 hours, January 7, 1948, pp. 29, 30,  Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 199; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 201; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 255, 257; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 155, 156, 157, 164, 167, 181; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 116; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to Prisoner of War Interrogations, 1943-1945, (NAID 2790598) Box 711, Record Group 165; Special Interrogation of Erich Kempka, at US Third Army Internment Camp No. 6, Moosburg, October 7, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, ibid. Apparently as a precaution, Hitler had the smaller pistol nearby in case the heavier pistol, with which he was far less familiar, should jam. O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 255; Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 199; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 180.

[19] Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 199; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 156-157, 192; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 257-258; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 271.

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“Terry and the Pirates” Spreads the Word on Security During World War II

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

From August 28, 1943 to February 6, 1944, the plot line of one of America’s most popular daily comic strips, “Terry and the Pirates” by Milton Caniff, included as one element the issue of information security.  Even though the action in the strip took place within the context of military operations in China and its environs, this was no incidental plot line.  It was all part of an organized governmental effort to alert the American public to the need for security; an effort in which Milton Caniff was intimately involved.

In late summer of 1942, after the U.S. had formally been at war for several months, senior representatives of the Army, the Navy, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), met with a representative of the Office of War Information (OWI), the U.S. World War II-era propaganda agency.  They met to discuss the need for some sort of action to educate the public about the need for security for military information such as troop movements, production, and shipping activities.  While the three agencies agreed on such a need, there existed no mechanism for them to work together on that.

Recognizing the need for such an information program, OWI agreed to take on that task.  The result was the establishment of the Security of War Information Campaign, sometimes referred to as the “hush-hush campaign,” and the Security Committee, which cleared all plans for that effort.  The Committee included representatives of OWI, the Army, the Navy, the FBI, and other agencies.  The Committee’s first meeting took place in October 1942.  As a result of those actions, in addition to telling America’s story, OWI had responsibilities for preventing useful information from reaching the Axis enemy.

During the first eight months, the work of the campaign focused on generally educating the public about the need for security using the themes “Careless Talk Costs Lives” and “Think Before You Talk.”  In addition, all U.S. Government agencies were asked to instruct their employees about the program, too.  The campaign spread the word through posters, billboards, leaflets, radio broadcasts, the creation of local Security Committees, cooperation with advertisers who incorporated themes into their ads, stories and articles in magazines and newspapers, news releases, and movies.

In mid-1943, OWI expanded the security program to include other avenues for spreading the word.  While it is not clear exactly why, it reached out to Caniff, probably because “Terry and the Pirates” was a very popular strip and Caniff was known to be partial to American servicemen and women.  In June, OWI wrote to Caniff indicating an interest in talking with him “about a project on which we feel you could be of great assistance.”  Eventually, representatives of OWI and the Military Intelligence Division had an all-day meeting with Caniff.  During that meeting, they asked Caniff to weave into his strip an information security thread.  Caniff enthusiastically agreed with the result that from August 1943, to February 1944, the plot of “Terry and the Pirates” included the issue of information security.

Terry and the Pirates strip of December 2, 1943

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

The story demonstrated how a seemingly-innocent comment overheard by the wrong person can potentially lead to disaster.  The action involved a cross-dressing female spy posing as Free-French pilot Captain H. Midi (her real name is Sanjak). Captain Midi overhears the hero, Terry Lee, talking about the flight of a transport plane carrying important Chinese finance officials.  Lee is given the information to take to the flight operations staff and is told that it is “absolutely hush-hush.”  Later, he mentions their presence on the airplane in front of the spy.  His commanding officer quiets him and says “you can never afford to forget security regulations for any reason.”  But, too late, the information is already in the wrong hands.  Midi informs the Japanese through his local contacts and the airplane is ambushed.  In the end, things turn out well and the spy is uncovered but because of the careless mention of sensitive information, people die and more people are put in danger.  While the action in “Terry” took place within a military setting, the message was still the same: loose lips can sink ships or, in this case, shoot down airplanes.  The important thing was that Caniff made the security point in the story without it seeming to be out of place.

At the same meeting that Caniff agreed to incorporate the security line into his strip, he suggested eight other leading cartoonists to approach about doing the same.  Subsequently, in September 1943, letters went out to Harold Grey, writer of “Little Orphan Annie”; Frank King, writer of “Gasoline Alley”; Zack Mosley, writer of “Smilin’ Jack”; Chester Gould, writer of “Dick Tracy”; Martin Brannan, writer of “Winnie Winkle”; Chick Young, writer of “Blondie”; Ham Fisher, writer of “Joe Palooka”; and J. R. Williams, writer of “Out our Way.”  Each letter was customized to a particular strip.  For example, the letter to Harold Gray noted “We’re writing you this personally because we believe that if you know of the importance of the problem there is some way in which Annie, Daddy Warbucks, the Asp and Aunt Sally and Uncle Spangle can figure out a way of getting across this message.”  Each letter also noted that “we believe that cartoon strips like yours are so widely read that a message contained therein will probably register as effectively as through any other known channel.”  Evidence indicates enthusiastic responses from at least some of these writers.

To acknowledge Caniff’s time and effort on the project, Elmer Davis, the OWI’s director, sent him the following note:

note from Director of OWI thanking Caniff for his efforts in aiding the security campaign

Letter from Elmer Davis to Milton Caniff, 09/22/1943


Source:  RG 208: Records of the Office of War Information, Records Concerning War Information Programs (Entry NC-148 59), files “History” (NAID 4733064) and “Terry and the Pirates, Milton Caniff” (NAID 4732989).

For more information about Milton Caniff and his influence on American cartooning, see MEANWHILE …: A Biography of Milton Caniff Creator of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon by Robert C. Harvey (Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, WA: 2007).

I once again express my appreciation to Linda Teegen and Julie Brown of The Permissions Group for their help in securing approval to use the image from “Terry and the Pirates.”

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Hunting Hitler Part III: The Bunker (Morning, April 30th)

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives at College Park. This is the third blog in a multi-part series.

In the early hours of April 30, 1945, Hitler continued saying his goodbyes in his bunker.  The next group would consist of many people closest to him.  This gathering consisted of Joseph and Frau Goebbels; Martin Bormann; Generals Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Mohnke, and Johann Rattenhuber; Vice Admiral Hans-Erich Voss; Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger (his physician); State Secretary Werner Naumann; Ambassador Walther Hewel; Junge and Christian (the secretaries), Miss Manziarly (his vegetarian cook); Hans Bauer and Georg Betz (his personal pilots); and several high-ranking SS officers; at least twenty people in all. Hitler shook hands with each, making a personal comment to each one, spoken barely above a whisper, so softly that people could hardly understood what he said. Then addressing the group, he said he did not want to fall into Russian hands and therefore he had decided to commit suicide. Everyone present was freed from his or her oath to him. He hoped they would be able to reach the British or American lines.[1]  SS-Unterscharführer Maximilian Koelz of the bodyguard later testified that from the foot of the stairs he saw Hitler saying goodbye to his entourage.  Immediately following this scene, according to Koelz, one of the participants told him that Hitler would now shortly kill himself. “This information did not surprise me in the least: in recent days we older officers had reached the conclusion that the relief [of Berlin] could no longer be counted upon…”[2]

Around 130am Hitler asked that all the medical staff of the hospital at the Reichs Chancellery visit him.  By 2am they were gathered in the the lobby of the bunker outside of Hitler’s quarters.  In this group were Chief physician of the hospital- Obersturmfuehrer Dr. Haase; Senior physician of the hospital- Standartenfuehrer Dr. Schenck; the second physician of the hospital Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Kunz; surgical nurses Erna Flegel, Liselotte Chervinska, and, Elisabeth Lyndhurst; another surgical nurse Rut (full name not known); Frau Heusermann (Dr. Blaschke’s dental assistant); and perhaps another 15 to 20 nurses and some other women, including Baroness von Varo (apparently the mistress of an officer of Hitler’s escort commando).  Schenck recalled Hitler’s clothes were “sloppy, food-stained.” He “could see Hitler’s hunched spine, the curved shoulders that seemed to twitch and tremble.” “He struck me as an agonized Atlas with a mountain on his back.” Hitler seemed hardly able to shuffle the two paces forward to greet them. “His eyes although he was looking directly at me, did not seem to be focusing… The whites were bloodshot…Drooping black sacks under his eyes betrayed loss of sleep…” Hitler then greeted them individually, inquiring about the names of the persons whom he did not know. According to von Varo, Hitler’s eyes “were glaring into emptiness,” “his left hand trembled,” and that Hitler did not seem to look at the person when he shook hands.  After greeting each person individually, Hitler then thanked all of whom that had earlier in the night had been decorated for their services.  This greeting lasted four or five minutes.  Then Hitler dismissed them, and asked Haase to join him in his room.[3]

Dr. Schenck believed that it was with Haase that Hitler discussed the manner and method of his own suicide. “I know this because Professor Haase told me so, the day after the suicide.” They also, according to Schenck, were discussing the problem of how to destroy the bodies.[4]

When Hitler and Haase withdrew from the room, everyone, according to von Varo, asked each other what the meaning of it could be, and they concluded that it must be the preliminary to suicide.  She added that she and her colleagues stayed up all night, contemplating what they would do and talking about how Hitler would commit suicide. “We waited for it. It had to come.”[5]  After the meeting with Hitler, Schenck was invited to join a party that was taking place.  Guensche, whom he knew, introduced him to the others. Among them were Bormann, the Goebbels, Krebs, Burgdorf, Bauer, Rattenhuber, Axmann, Hewel, Voss, Linge, and Kempka. He recalled Krebs remarking that it was his guess that the Red Army would want to wait another 24 hours, until May Day, so that Russian Marshal Zhukov could present the big prize (Berlin) to Stalin. “This touch of gallows humor drew rather hollow laughs.”[6]

At 3am Field Marshal Keitel sent a message by radio telling of the failure of Wenck’s Twelfth Army to break through for the relief of Berlin and the Ninth Army being fully encircled; thus, nothing could be expected from the relief armies.  This message clearly indicated that all hope was gone. Whether this message was seen in the bunker is not clear, but undoubtedly the occupants, including Hitler, realized at this point there would be no armies coming to their rescue.[7] Junge recalled that morning they knew “there was no hope left for the Army Wenk (sic).”[8]

At 315am, Bormann sent a message to Doenitz:

“Doenitz!-Our impression grows daily stronger that the divisions in the Berlin theatre have been standing idle for several days. All the report we receive are controlled, suppressed, or distorted by Teilhaus [codename for Keitel]…The Fuehrer orders you to proceed at once, and mercilessly, against all traitors.-Bormann.”[9]

A postscript contained the words: “The Fuehrer is alive, and is conducting the defense of Berlin.” Undoubtedly, according to H. Trevor Roper, Bormann saw his power coming to an end with the death of Hitler and was trying to drag things out until he could be sure a courier had reached Doenitz and thus have his power renewed as called for in Hitler’s political testament.[10]

While Hitler was saying his goodbyes in the early morning of April 30th, Mohnke managed to repel all Russian attacks, although suffering heavy losses.[11]

Between 3am and 330am Hitler once again queried Haase on the foolproof method of suicide he had recommended, telling him that it was his wish that the double deaths be simultaneous – “We both want to go together when we go.”  After speaking with Hitler, Haase visited Eva Braun in her chambers and told her “Simply bite quickly into your capsule the moment you hear a shot.”[12]

Then, around 330am Hitler and Eva had tea in Hitler’s study with Frau Christian, Frau Junge, and Fraeulein Manziarly. Around 430am the secretaries and Manziarly left Hitler’s study with tears in their eyes. Junge reported to Guensche that Hitler wanted to shoot himself that day, because the Russians could force their way into the bunker at any moment. She recounted that Eva had given her several valuable things-clothes and the fur she had worn at her wedding. In addition she had made her a present of a little pistol, that Hitler had once given her.  Junge handed them [probably meant the pistol] over to Guensche.[13]

Hitler retired and laid down on top of his bed, not under the covers, just before 430am.  At 5am Soviet artillery again opened up on the government district. It had by now zeroed in on the Chancellery and took it under constant fire.  It sounded like heavy thunder to those in the bunker.[14]

At 6am Sergeant Rochus Misch called Mohnke and told him Hitler wished to see him alone in his quarters and immediately. Mohnke asked about Hitler’s temper. Misch replied that Hitler was then in a calm and relaxed mood and no one else was with him. Misch said he did not think Hitler had been able to sleep at all the whole night and that twice within the last hour he had come out to chat with him. Just a moment ago he said he wanted to have a talk with his old friend Mohnke.  After a quick cup of coffee, Mohnke, headed for the bunker, realizing that he had to give Hitler the bad news that he could no longer hang on. He expected the Russians to make a major assault on May 1. He surmised this must be what Hitler’s summons was about.  Upon arriving in the bunker around 630am Misch told Mohnke that Hitler had told him that he wanted to receive him informally in his bedroom. Hitler rose politely to greet Mohnke. He moved from the bed to the only chair in the room, then motioned to Mohnke to take a seat on the bed. Mohnke noticed that the bed had not been slept in. At least, the blankets were not rumpled.  For most of the time, Hitler gazed straight ahead, past Mohnke toward the wall. Hitler’s left arm was trembling now and then, but only slightly. He was grasping the arm of the chair and he used his right arm freely to gesture.

Mohnke began with a brief situation report. Hitler listened for five minutes or so in silence. The Russians had reached the Wilhelmstrasse, in the area of the Adlon Hotle, about four blocks away. Russian Infantrymen had penetrated into the subway tubes under both the Friedrichstrasse and the Voss-Strasse. Most of the vast, wooded Tiergarten was now in Russian hands. Russian assault troops had all but encircled the German positions on the Potsdamer Platz, only 300 meters from the Reich Chancellery. Hitler took it all in, intently, calmly. He asked no questions.  Finally, Mohnke told Hitler that he could guarantee that his exhausted, battle-weary troops could hold for more than one more day. “I now expect a frontal, massed-tank attack tomorrow at dawn, May 1. You know what May 1 means to Russians.” Hitler said, “I know. Let me say that your troops have fought splendidly, and I have no complaints.”  Hitler then launched into a monologue, denouncing the western democracies, reviewing his whole career, and explaining why National Socialism had failed and how the war had been forced upon him.  He then proceeded to criticize his military leaders and the betrayal of Goering and Himmler.  Then he thanked Mohnke for his service and wished him the best. Mohnke then returned to his command post.[15]

After meeting with Mohnke, which ended around 7am, Hitler wandered about the Bunker listlessly, his eyes cast to the floor, his hands clasped behind his back.  Misch, who witnessed this for about an hour, reported that Hitler seemed like a frustrated animal in a cage.[16]

Towards 8am heavy artillery fired against the Chancellery and the fear of an impending Russian ground attack mounted. The guards in the Chancellery were increased at the entrances to the bunkers, at the air locks and in the corridors. The corridors in the bunkers were barricaded by SS men. Hand grenades and sub-machine guns were distributed to the members of the bodyguard and the security guards.[17]

Sometime during mid-morning, Ambassador Hewel (permanent representative of Foreign Ministry to Hitler at Fuehrer headquarters) met with Hitler for the last time. They chatted for half-an-hour about the old days. Then Hitler told Hewel that he felt confident that if he fell into Russian hands, he would be “squeezed until the pips squeak and then displayed in the Moscow zoo.”  He said “Hewel, they will torture and kill you and mount you in a waxworks.” At this point Hewel swore to take his own life rather than fall into Red Army hands.[18]  Also sometime in the morning Guenther Schwaegermann, adjutant to Goebbels, was told by a member of Hitler’s escort commando that Hitler had said goodbye to his entire entourage.  He reported that Blondi had already been killed the previous day. After hearing this, Schwaegermann recalled that he knew that the death of Hitler was imminent.[19]

Krebs now came up with a situation report even more alarming than that given to Hitler by Mohnke only three hours before. Krebs reported how the Red Army troops had taken both sides of the Leipziger Strasse, the city’s main commercial thoroughfare, which ran parallel to the Unter den Linden and was one block closer to the Reich Chancellery. The Anhalter railroad station had also, by now, been stormed.[20] According to those present, Hitler listened in apathetic silence as Krebs droned on. He did not even ask any questions.[21]

About 10am Rattenhuber went to check the sentries. Going upstairs he approached the SS guard on duty, Mengershausen, who was standing at the exit from the Reich Chancellery to the garden. Mengershausen reported to him that at about 8am Eva Braun came up from the Bunker, said “‘good morning’” and went out into the garden, returning approximately 15 minutes later. She explained her visit to the garden by saying “‘I want to see the sun for the last time.’” Then she said goodbye to him and, upset, went down into the bunker. At the time the grounds of the Reich Chancellery were already under Russian rifle fire.  Then Rattenhuber went to Hitler’s reception room.  He recalled that “The situation was very tense” and the Russians were expected to reach the grounds of the Reich Chancellery at any moment.[22]

Towards noon Hitler’s last briefing began. Weidling came over from his command post in the bunker in Bendlerstrasse and reported that Soviet troops were storming the Reichstag.  There was fighting in the Red City Hall, the Friedrichstrasse station had been reached by Soviet forces and the Russians had penetrated the tunnel in Voss-strasse (close to the Reich Chancellery).  Weidling said that in all probability the battle for Berlin would be over by that evening.  Weidling then again mentioned the possibility of a breakout and told Hitler that perhaps he should try to get out and break through to join Wenck’s army near Potsdam. Hitler, who had received the report without emotion, said it was useless; “Anyway, nobody is carrying out my orders.”

When Weidling asked for instructions in case all their reserve munitions were exhausted, which would happen no later than the evening of May 1, Hitler said he would never capitulate. Wenck and all other commanders were not to surrender.  After a short exchange with Krebs, Hitler replied that only then, after the reserve munitions were exhausted, could a breakout in small groups be considered because he refused to surrender Berlin. Weidling was then allowed to go. A little later the last “Fuehrer command” was delivered to Weidling:

“In case the defenders of the capital city of the Reich face a lack of munitions and supplies, I give my consent for a breakout. They must break out in small groups, and must look for units that are still fighting and join them. If they cannot find any, the small groups are to continue fighting in the forests.”[23]

After the noon briefing Hitler met in his quarters for about twenty minutes with Bormann, Krebs, Burgdorf, and Goebbels.  Afterwards, Guensche met with Bormann and two others, probably Krebs and Burgdorf.  They were in a highly emotional state when they told him about the conversation.[24]

A radio message was received at 1250pm from Berlin to Doenitz’s headquarters: “No possibility of retreat.”[25]  Hitler, having no intention of retreating (or escaping Berlin), now turned his attention to the time of his death that afternoon, and how his and Eva’s bodies would be destroyed beyond recognition.


Footnotes

[1] [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 42, 43, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 108; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 137, 138.

[2] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 137-138.

[3] Strategic Services Unit, War Department, Intelligence Dissemination No. A-65458, Subject: Interview with Erna Flegel, Red Cross Nurse in Hitler’s Shelter, Date of Report: December 11, 1945, Distributed: February 25, 1946, File: 0240346, Army Intelligence Document Files (NAID 305269), RG 319; Interrogation of the Baroness von Varo, October 1, 1945, enclosure to Memorandum, Brigadier [no name given], Counter Intelligence Bureau (CIB), GSI (b), Headquarters, British Army of the Rhine to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, US Forces European Theater, Subject: Investigation into the Death of Hitler, November 22, 1945, Document No. CIB/B3/PF.582, File: Major Trevor-Roper Interrogations, Reports Relating to POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598), RG 165; Interrogation of Baroness von Varo, Stein Castle, Stein, 2000-2330 Hours, March 10, 1948, pp. 5-7, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Record of Interrogation of the Reich Chancellery Physician Helmut Kunz, by 4th Section of the Smersh Counter-Espionage Department of the 1st Byelorussian Front, May 7, 1945, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 59, 61; Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 194; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 192-195; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 197; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 139;

[4] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 198.

[5] Interrogation of Baroness von Varo, Stein Castle, Stein, 2000-2330 Hours, March 10, 1948, pp. 5, 8, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University

[6] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 195.

[7] Charles B. MacDonald, The Last Offensive, United States Army in World War II, European Theater of Operations (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1973), p. 459; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 108.

[8] Memorandum, Karl Sussman, CIC Special Agent, Region IV, Garmish Sub-Region, Headquarters Counter Intelligence Corps, United States Forces European Theater to Commanding Officer, Garmish Sub-Region, Subject: Interrogation of Junge, Gertrude, August 30, 1946, p. 5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude, Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054), Record Group 319, (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624).

[9] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199. According to a British report Bormann said in his last cable to Doenitz that “Teilhaus (Keitel) controls suppresses and “colors” all messages…The Fuehrer orders that you smash the traitors quickly and regardlessly.” Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: No. 143123, Regular Intelligence Reports (NAID 6050264), 1941-1945, RG 226.

[10] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199.

[11] Handwritten Statement by the Commander of the “Adolf Hitler” Division, Chief of the Central Berlin Defense Region, Wilhelm Mohnke, Moscow, May 18, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 178.

[12] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 254-256. It has been suggested that Haase had given Hitler, when he last seen him, a shot of morphine; or at least a very strong tranquillizer to face the end. O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 210, 349.

[13] Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 267.

[14] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 242; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 140; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 268.

[15] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 205-208, 210, 211; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 140. According to Fest, Mohnke told Hitler they could not hold out more than a few hours because the Russians had advanced to within a few hundred yards on all sides, though for the moment their progress had been halted. Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 108-109. According to Linge he went to Hitler, who was opening the door as he arrived. He had lain on the bed fully dressed and awake as he had done the night before. While Bormann, Krebs and Burgdorf dozed on sofas near his door, and the female secretaries made themselves as comfortable as possible while awaiting the events that must soon come, Hitler asked him to accompany him, finger to his lips, indicating that he should be careful not to disturb the sleeping people. They went to the telephone exchange, where Hitler rang the commandant, who told him that the defense of Berlin had already collapsed. Linge, With Hitler to the End, p. 197.

[16] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 242. According to Fest, sometime after 7am Hitler decided to exit the bunker, but when he reached the top of the stairs, the shelling became heavier again, and he turned back. Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 109.

[17] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 140.

[18] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 351.

[19] Personal History of the Adjutant of Schwaegermann, Guenther, Adjutant of the Minister Dr. Goebbels, n.d., ca. October or November 1945, p. 10, enclosure to Despatch No. 1487, U.S. Political Adviser for Germany, Berlin to Secretary of State, Subject: Statement by Guenther Schwaegermann, December 3, 1945, File: 740.00116 EW/12-345, Central Decimal Files (NAID 302021), 1945-1949, RG 59; Translation of statement made by Guenther Schwaegermann, Immenstadt, February 16, 1948, p. 7, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[20] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 244.

[21] O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 245.

[22] Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 194-195.

[23] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 141, 142; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 109-110; Jochen von Lang, with the assistance of Claus Sibyll, trans. By Christa Armstrong and Peter White, The Secretary, Martin Bormann: The Man Who Manipulated Hitler (New York: Random House, 1979), p. 329; Anthony Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945 (New York: Penguin Books, 2003), pp. 357-358; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 199

[24] Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensch, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 163; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, p. 247.

[25] Document Section (GAD/C), Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office, Ref. No. 54, Subject: Fragments of a “White Book” by the “Doenitz Government” on the German surrender and the last communicates exchanged with the Hitler Government in Berlin, August 20, 1945, File: No. 143123, (NAID 6050264)

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