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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A Tale of Two Tourist Traps: the Creation of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver

“We can’t get too much science so am for the park.” And so opened a 1962 letter to the National Park Service from Orson Rice, an Ohio resident who owned a parcel of land near the proposed Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado. Finally established in 1969, the fossil beds that make up the monument were created roughly 34 million years ago when nearby volcanoes erupted and the ensuing ash fall worked to preserve an enormous variety of insects, arachnids, algae, leaves, and even whole trees in what was then a large fresh water lake. Our story starts much later however, in roughly 1952 as documented in the National Park Service (NPS) records held at the National Archives at Denver.

Throughout the history of the NPS there have been many proposals for protected sites and despite the time and money invested in the creation of reports, correspondence, and attempted legislation many of these proposed parks never make it to creation. In the case of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument it took nearly 50 years and while the NPS still retains the bulk of the historical records relating to the monument, we do have five folders of correspondence, reports, newspaper articles, maps, and photographs that detail the work leading up to the monument’s establishment.

The story begins in the 19th century when survey expeditions discovered and first chronicled the fossil deposits. By 1920 the area was thought of as a possibility for a park but further research was deemed necessary. Twelve years later the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, Roger Toll, submitted an “adverse report” concerning the fossil beds park proposal to the NPS director and the idea was shelved until 1952 when Secretary of Interior Oscar Chapman asked for yet another report. In December of that year Edmund Rogers, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent, and Edwin Alberts, Rocky Mountain National Park Naturalist, set out to visit the Florissant area in order to talk to area landowners and visit the two private parks already there; the New/Henderson/Pike Petrified Forest and the Colorado Petrified Forest.

Aerial photograph of the proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked.

Aerial photograph of the proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked.

Close-up of topographical map also showing proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked

Close-up of topographical map also showing proposed park area with both petrified forest attractions marked

Generally speaking, records concerning private tourist attractions are rarely found in the National Archives but much like the insects trapped in the lake so many millennia ago, records of the two privately operated petrified forests are now saved in perpetuity by token of their association with the monument. The Colorado Petrified Forest first opened in 1890 as the Copeland Petrified Forest and in 1926 P.J. Singer purchased the property. Renaming it the Colorado Petrified Forest in 1932, Singer also moved the Midland Railway station from the town of Florissant to his park for use as a museum and office. A half mile away in 1920 the New Petrified Forest, later called the Henderson Petrified Forest, opened. By 1950 the park went through yet another name change to Pike Petrified Forest as it was purchased by T. Dale Miller for around $40,000 (USD).

The section of Rogers and Alberts’ report on the two parks reads in part like a soap opera. Soon after his purchase of Henderson Petrified Forest Miller handed off the operations to John Baird, at which point the feuding between the two parks seems to have escalated with local residents telling the NPS officials it was thought Baird was “trying to develop a nuisance value so that someone will buy him out at an exorbitant price.” The feuding between the similar attractions was noted to include trick signs luring away potential visitors from the other park, high pressure solicitations along area roads, and even lawsuits flying back and forth much to the chagrin of local residents. While gathering these accounts, the NPS officials also duly paid the $0.50 admission at each and documented their visit within their report.

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Rogers and Alberts submitted their findings in January 1953 and once again the fossil beds park idea was dead. The duo recommended no action as they felt there was little active danger to the fossils, the difficulties of park creation with all of the land held in private hands, and that with fossils all over the world this site was about “average interest” and not worth purchase. Singer, owner of the Colorado Petrified Forest, followed up with a letter once again signaling his offer to sell but was rebuffed for the time being.

In the late 1950s interest began once again in the area with more officials and groups changing their perception on preserving the area and so yet another NPS report was ordered. P.J. Singer passed away in 1958 but in 1961, no doubt hearing the rumblings that park creation was back on the table, his widow Agnes began correspondence with the NPS reiterating her willingness to sell.

(NAID 24192501)

Facsimile of letter sent to Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall from Agnes Singer reiterating her late husband’s offer to sell the Colorado Petrified Forest

In April 1962 the newly filed NPS report came to a different conclusion than those compiled within the previous 30 years -the area should be established as a national monument.

(File Unit NAID 24192490)

Section of 1962 NPS report on the proposed monument, showing edits

Requests for copies of the report came in from across the country and spawned letters from a variety of universities and museums agreeing with the conclusion. George Emrick, originally from the area and who had worked as a tour guide at Pike Petrified Forest while a teenager, had since earned a MA in art and even wrote the NPS to offer his design skills for the entrance and markers for the assumed soon to be monument. As a November 1962 editorial headline from the Denver Post stated, the Florissant fossil beds were a “Geological ‘Museum’ Worth Saving” and with housing subdivision soon sprouting up nearby time was of the essence to get the project in gear.

Still bubbling under the surface was the issue that the entire park would need to be acquired from private landowners, a concern seen in a November 1962 letter from Senator Gordon Allot inquiring as to what their reactions were so far. That winter the Regional Chief of Proposed Park Studies and the Rocky Mountain National Park Superintendent travelled back to the Florissant area to meet with all of the landowners and submitted a detailed letter on the meetings. While most of them signaled approval and even enthusiasm for the plan, including Agnes Singer and her son, the one exception was John Baker who along with his parents owned the by then closed Pike Petrified Forest. Described as “somewhat belligerent,” Baker harangued the NPS officials in the four hour meeting over such trivial matters as how he felt the pictures of his attraction in the report were inferior to those of Colorado Petrified Forest. While open to selling, the officials worried the family had an overinflated estimate of the property value and noted that the sale to Walt Disney of a petrified tree stump to be installed in Disneyland several years earlier had given the family a “vision of a goldmine.” In closing they felt “the Bakers will be very hard to do business with” but by March of 1963 the NPS reported that all 13 landowners had signaled “general approval” of the project. There was no mention on how tenuous that approval was.

On the Congressional front things were hitting a snag with Representative Chenoweth asking for yet another study in order to look at shrinking the size of the park. According to correspondence he felt it held little public appeal potential and was too large – but his argument was for naught as he was unseated in the election of 1964 by Frank Evans. Correspondence indicates that NPS officials quickly moved to acquaint Evans with the proposal even before he arrived in Washington, DC in January 1965. By 1966, the monument appears to be nearly a done deal with Representative Evans backing the project enthusiastically and the NPS working on park boundaries and analyzing area visitors, population statistics, hotels, highway plants, and even climate data.

The records in our holdings stop at this point but three years later in 1969 the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was established. If you too agree with Mr. Rice in that “we can’t get too much science,” visit their webpage for more information, or visit the monument itself here in Colorful Colorado.

(NAID 24192502) II

Vicinity Map, found on area topographical map


All documents referenced and quotes come from RG 79 Records of the National Park Service, General Correspondence, 1954-1968 (NAID 651777), Accession NRG-079-99-178, Boxes 37-38

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Hunting Hitler Part II: The Bunker (April 29-April 30)

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

Around noon on April 29, 1945, the three couriers with copies of Adolf Hitler’s private will and political testament (and one with his marriage license) left the Berlin bunker and headed west.  For those still in the bunker, the day was one of feeling trapped and waiting for Hitler to kill himself.  Although few believed it would happen, some still were hopeful that the German relief forces would break through the Russian corridor around Berlin and save them.[1]

Hitler ate lunch around 2pm, as usual in the company of the secretaries Gerda Christian and Gertrude Junge. Christian later recalled that nothing was spoken about Hitler’s intention to die or about the manner in which this was to take place.[2]

During the afternoon, communications with the outside world were all but broken and the occupants of the bunker increasingly became unawares of what was happening on the various fronts.[3] Sometime, probably around 4pm, General Alfred Jodl was able to get a message to the bunker that in essence said that the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) knew nothing about the Ninth Army; believed General Wenck’s Twelfth Army was to be near Potsdam; and OKW could only report a hasty withdrawal westwards by Army Group Vistula.[4]

Around 4 or 430pm, at a situation conference, Hitler sent for SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commandant of the Chancellery, and requested an update on what was happening in Berlin. Mohnke spread out a map of central Berlin and reported that in the north the Russians had moved close to the Weidendammer Bridge; in the east they were at the Lustgarten; in the south, the Russians were at Potsdamer Platz and the Aviation Ministry; and in the west they were in the Tiergarten, somewhere between 170 and 250 feet from the Reich Chancellery. When Hitler asked how much longer Mohnke could hold out, the answer was “At most twenty to twenty-four hours, my Fuehrer, no longer.”[5]

After the situation conference, sometime between 5pm and 6pm, Erich Kempka (Hitler’s chief driver and head of the Fuehrer’s motor pool) visited the bunker.  Outside Hitler’s personal apartment, he stopped to talk.  Kempka said Hitler was composed and completely calm. “Even I, who knew him so well, could not read from his attitude the decision he had already taken to end his life.” In his right hand he held a large-scale map of Berlin. His left hand trembled slightly; a condition in the final months that was virtually permanent.  Hitler asked Kempka about the status of the motor pool.  Kempka replied that the vehicles were in bad condition, destroyed and damaged, but that they were still able to transport the necessary food for the emergency hospitals within the zone of the Chancellery.  Hitler then asked him how he saw things, to which Kempka replied that his men were involved in the defense of the Reich Chancellery in the sector between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. Hitler asked what did his men think.  Kempka replied that without exception they were maintaining a bearing beyond reproach and waiting for relief by General Wenck.  Hitler responded quickly “‘We are all waiting for Wenck!’”  Hitler and Kempka then shook hands, and Hitler spoke a word of encouragement, smiled and then entered his personal room. Kempka left to join his men.  In 1948, Kempka said that at no time did Hitler say goodbye or farewell. Kempka speculated that probably Hitler had not set the time of the suicide in his mind yet.[6]

At about 10pm Hitler summoned SS-Gruppenfuehrer Johann Rattenhuber, Chief of the Reich Security Service (responsible for Hitler’s protection) to his room and ordered him to gather the leading personnel of the Headquarters and his close collaborators in his reception room.  “I remember,” he later recalled, “that at that moment Hitler looked like a man who had taken a very significant decision. He sat on the edge of a desk, his eyes fixed on one point. He looked determined.”  Rattenhuber went to the door to carry out his order, but Hitler stopped him and said, as far as he could remember, the following:

“‘You have served me faithfully for many years. Tomorrow is your birthday and I want to congratulate you now and to thank you for your faithful service, because, I shall not be able to do so tomorrow…I have taken the decision…I must leave this world’…”

Rattenhuber went over to Hitler and told him how necessary his survival was for Germany, that there was still a chance to try and escape from Berlin and save his life. “‘What for?’ Hitler argued. ‘Everything is ruined, there is no way out, and to flee means falling into the hands of the Russians…There would never have been such a moment, Rattenhuber,’ he continued , ‘and I would never have spoken to you about my death, if not for Stalin and his army. You try to remember where my troops were…And it was only Stalin who prevented me from carrying out the mission entrusted to me from heaven’…”  According to Rattenhuber, Eva Braun came in from the next room and then for several more minutes Hitler talked of himself – of his role in history, that had been prepared for him by destiny, and shaking hands with Rattenhuber asked him to leave them alone. Rattenhuber thought, after him speaking about his mission from heaven, “He had lost his head from fear.”[7]

Shortly after 10pm Rattenhuber gathered up the individuals Hitler had requested.  Among those present for a meeting with Hitler were Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Colonel Nicolaus von Below, Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant.  Under fire from machine-guns and grenade-launchers, General Helmuth Weidling, Commandant of Berlin, reached the Bunker covered in mud.  The atmosphere in the bunker was like that of a front-line command post. All who gathered there for the situation report were in a despondent mood. Hitler, “his face still more pinched, was looking fixedly at the map spread before him.”  Weidling told Hitler that the situation in the city was hopeless, and that the civilian population, in particular, was in a very bad state.  He described the deteriorating military situation.  The Russians, he said, would reach the Chancellery by May 1 at the latest. Weidling suggested the troops in Berlin try to break out.  Hitler replied this was impossible as the soldiers were battle-weary, ill-armed, and without ammunition.  He then suggested that Hitler break out of the city with him and the surviving garrison, but Hitler categorically refused.[8]

Still, Weidling persistently asked Hitler to permit a breakout as soon as possible. Hitler, according to Weidling, with bitter irony in his voice, said “‘Look at my map. Everything shown on it is not based on information from the Supreme Command, but from foreign radio station broadcasts. No one reports to us. I can order anything, but none of my orders is carried out any more.’” Krebs supported Weidling in his attempts to get permission for a breakout. At last it was decided that, as there were no airborne supplies, the troops could break out in small groups, but on the understanding that they should continue to resist wherever possible. Capitulation was out of the question. Weidling felt that although he had failed to get Hitler to call a final halt to the bloodshed, he had managed to persuade him to end resistance in Berlin.[9]

About 1030pm an orderly came into the conference and said he had heard a shortwave broadcast reporting news of that Mussolini and his mistress had been executed by Italian partisans.  He may or may not have learned that their bodies had been hoisted upside down in Milan and that their bodies were pelted with stones by the vindictive crowd.  In any event Hitler had already determined that his own body should be burned to prevent its exhibition.[10]

After the conference concluded von Below met with Hitler.  Earlier during the day von Below had asked Hitler if he would allow him to attempt a breakout to the West. Hitler considered this straightaway and said only that it would probably be impossible. Von Below replied that he thought the way to the West would still be free.  Hitler gave him written authority to go and told him he should report to the headquarters of the Combined General Staff, then at Ploen, and to deliver a document to Field Marshal Keitel.  That afternoon von Below made his preparations and took part in the evening situation conference.  Hitler gave him his hand and said only “best of luck.”   After saying his goodbyes, Burgdorf handed von Below Hitler’s message. It was addressed to Keitel.  In it Hitler stated that the fight for Berlin was drawing to its close, that he intended to commit suicide rather than surrender, that he had appointed Karl Doenitz as his successor, and that Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler had betrayed him.  At midnight, with his batman Heinz Matthiesing, von Below left the bunker and followed roughly the same route as the others (including the three couriers) who had left earlier during the day.[11]

It was apparently after Hitler had said his goodbyes to von Below that Hitler ordered his dog Blondi poisoned.  This was in part because he wanted to ascertain the effectiveness of the poison capsules he had been given and also the desire not to have the dog captured by the Russians.  After the poison had been administered the dog instantaneously died, Hitler came to see the results and to take his leave of the dog.  According to witnesses, Hitler said nothing, nor did his face express any feeling. Afterwards, Hitler returned to his study.  Junge later said that after Hitler had seen his dead dog, “His face was like his own death mask. He locked himself into his room without a word.”[12]

While Hitler was in his room, Frau Junge and Frau Christian were conversing and having coffee with two doctors, when Eva Braun joined them.  She said that Hitler would die when he received confirmation that the documents carried by the couriers had reached the persons they had been sent to.  She also said it would not be difficult to die because the poison had already been tested on a dog, and death would come quickly.[13]

Afterwards, Junge, Christian, and Eva Braun joined Hitler for a bite to eat.  Hitler in a calm and deliberate manner said that there was no other way for him, than to commit suicide, because he wanted never, alive or dead, to fall into the hands of the enemy.  He knew from the example of Mussolini, how he would be treated. He also said he could not fight with his soldiers, because in case he was wounded, there would not be anybody in his surroundings who would give him the mercy-shot, in case he was unable to do that himself.   Hitler repeatedly told them that after he was dead, he wanted to be cremated so that nobody shall find him.  He said the best is a shot through the mouth, death was instantaneous.  Eva Braun was for taking cyanide and pulled a little brass cylinder out of her dress, asking whether it would hurt and stating that she was afraid to suffer.  She added she was ready to die, but it must be painless.  Hitler told her that cyanide causes paralysis of the nervous and breathing system and causes death in a few seconds.  So Christian and Junge, not expecting anything good from the Russians, asked Hitler for an ampoule of poison.  He walked to his bedroom where he got the poison. In handing it to them, he said, “I am sorry that as a parting gesture I cannot hand you a nicer present” and that they were very courageous and he wished his generals would have had so much poise and courage as the women did.[14]

Meanwhile, at 10pm on April 29 the three couriers, Zander, Lorenz, and, Johannmeier, found two boats and pushed out into Havel lake, heading southwards for the Wannsee bridgehead, held by units of the German Ninth Army. In the early hours of April 30 they landed independently, Johannmeier on the Wannsee bridgehead, Lorenz and Zander on the Schwanenwerder Peninsula. There they remained, resting all day in underground bunkers; and in the evening they reunited, and sailed together to the Pfaueninsel, an island in the Havel. From the Wannsee bridgehead Johannmeier had been able to send a radio message to Doenitz, informing him of their position and asking that an airplane be sent to fetch them.  On the Pfaueninsel, Johannmeier and Zander obtained civilian clothing and disposed of their uniforms.[15]

Shortly after midnight of April 29, Hitler began saying his farewells, realizing he would die on April 30.  These goodbyes were with four or five different groups.[16]  They lasted until sometime after 2am.  One group consisted of some 20-25 persons who worked in the Reich Chancellery and lived in its underground bunker.  These included the secretaries, many of them Hitler had never met.  Another group, again numbering between 20-25 persons, included the officers of his escort commando.  In the first instances Hitler shook hands with everybody, thanking each one individually.  With the latter group he did not say anything when shaking hands.[17]

When addressing the second group, Hitler, in a very calm and conversational manner, said that he did not wish to deliver himself to the Russians and that he, therefore, was going to end his life, and that he was now releasing them from their oath.  He thanked them for their services and wished them all the best on our way to the western powers, for it was his wish that they should try to get through to the Americans or British, but that they should not get into Russian hands, on no account.[18]

During these farewells, Junge and Eva Braun watched from a short distance.  The former asked the later if the time had come for her and Hitler to kill themselves.  Eva Braun said no, but that she would tell her when the time had come.  She added that Hitler still had to say goodbye to those closest to him.  At some point in the early hours of April 30, Rattenhuber, who was celebrating his 60th birthday, left his colleagues and their birthday celebration, and joined Junge and Eva Bruan.  They, all from Munich, talked about Munich and Bavaria, and how sad it was to have to die so far from home.[19] Meanwhile, Hitler was preparing to say good bye to those closest to him, knowing for many it would be the last time they would see him alive.


Footnotes

[1] Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 186.

[2] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 131, 132.

[3] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 134, 135.

[4] Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 135.

[5] Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 105. Another source indicates Mohnke replying that with the weapons and ammunition he had, he could hold out for two or three days more. Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, pp. 192-193.

[6] 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) RG 165; [Interrogation of] Erich Kempka, Munich, February 8, 1948, p. 25, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur, p. 72. Kempka told a reporter in June 1945 that this was the last time he saw Hitler alive and that Hitler appeared quiet and normal. James MacDonald, “Hitler Cremated in Berlin, Aides Say,” The New York Times, June 21, 1945, p. 6.

[7] Evidence of the Head of Hitler’s Bodyguard Hans Rattenhuber, Moscow, May 20, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 193.

[8] Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 234; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 163; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 193.

[9] Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 234. The airborne supply by parachute on the night of April 29-30 had brought almost nothing: only 6 tons of supplies were delivered, including 8-10 boxes of small arms ammunition, 15-20 artillery rounds and a small quantity of medical supplies. Manuscript Testimony of General Helmuth Weidling, January 4, 1946, in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 233; 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. 174.

[10] 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, p. 107; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 196.

[11] 032 Civilian Interrogation Camp, 1 Corps District, B.A.O.R., First Interrogation Report, Heinz Hermann Matthiesing, January 25, 1946, inclosure to Memorandum, [signed for] Brigadier, head of Intelligence Bureau, OCG (BE), Bad Oeynhausen to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (CI), Headquarters, United States Forces European Theater, attn: Maj. Alfano, Subject: Death of Hitler, February 5, 1946, File: HITLER, Adolf – XE003655 (NAID 7359097), Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004; 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 192-19; Nicolaus von Below, At Hitler’s Side: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Luftwaffe Adjutant 1937-1945, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Greenhill Books and Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 2001), p. 241. There seems to be some doubt about von Below’s mission and to the message that he carried. Von Below, At Hitler’s Side, p. 242, n. 25.

[12] 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), RG 319 (the Junge file, while part of the Army CIC Personal Files is described with another National Archives Identifying Number: 12191624); Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 266; 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 Guensche, May 17, 1945 in Vinogrado, Pogonyi, and Teptzov, Hitler’s Death, p. 163; O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker, pp. 198-199; Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, pp. 105-106; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 132, 134; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 18, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[13] 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, p. 62.

[14] Written narrative by Traudl Junge, n.d., p. 8, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; 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. 4-5, File: XA085512, Junge, Gertrude; 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; Points emerging from special interrogation of Else Krueger, September 25, 1945, ibid.; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 197; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 177.

[15] Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 190.

[16] According to one account Hitler went to the rooms occupied by the staff, and shook hands with everyone and said a few words to them all.  To the secretary Frauelein Else Krueger he suggested that she should try to make her escape through the lines, rather than to remain in the bunker. 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, RG 165.

[17] [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 41, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 179; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, pp. 12-13, 14, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University

[18] [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, pp. 16-17, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[19]  Written narrative by Traudl Junge, n.d., p. 9, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 179.

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Milton Caniff Explains “Terry and the Pirates”

In early 1945, “Terry and the Pirates” was one of the most popular daily comic strips printed in U.S. newspapers.

title panel of the comic strip Terry and the Pirates

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

The strip, launched in October 1934, and written by Milton Caniff (1907-1988), was a serial action-adventure strip set in China and its environs.  Once World War II began, the action took place within the context of that conflict.  Over time, the strip became one of the most widely read in U.S. history.  It also appeared in overseas newspapers.

comic panel showing the character of Terry

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Caniff created a large cast of characters who moved in and out of the strip over time.  The main characters were the eponymous Terry Lee (above as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces after World War II) and Pat Ryan, who initially go to China searching for a lost mine and then get caught up in a series of adventures and misadventures.  Terry and Pat are ably assisted by two Chinese, Connie and Big Stoop, who, while instrumental in the success and survival of the heroes, also provide comic relief.  Perhaps the most famous supporting character is the Dragon Lady.  Depicted as a glamorous but ruthless pirate leader before World War II, during the war she becomes a resistance leader, only to revert to her old habits once “peace” returns to China.

This is the Dragon Lady.

Drawing of the Dragon Lady

© Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.

Given the worldwide popularity of the strip, in February 1945, the Office of War Information (OWI), the U.S. World War II-era propaganda agency, asked Caniff to record a general talk for broadcast in Australia.  An earlier recorded interview with Caniff broadcast there had been well received.  Caniff agreed and recorded his comments on March 17, 1945.

photograph of Milton Caniff

Milton Caniff

While there is no known audio version of the talk, the OWI records include a transcript in which Caniff explains the genesis of the strip and how he prepared it on a day-to-day basis.  The following is an image of the first page followed by the text of the remaining pages.  Punctuation and spelling are from the original.

textual transcription of a talk given by Milton Caniff

Transcript of Talk by Milton Caniff, 3/17/1945

The text continues: 

country.  The advent of swifter means of transportation has widened our horizons but has not diminished our curiosity about people and places over the rainbow.

With this in mind I began in 1934 to prepare a cartoon strip that would appeal to the American liking for roistering adventure.  The locale was to be the Orient generally and China particularly.  Many books have been written on that geographical area, but prior to the Japanese invasion in 1937 the country around Chungking had not become the much documented section it is today.

Primarily, China and its border territory offered a background against which anything could happen.

The characters for my narrative needed to appeal to as many types of readers as possible.  The hero, “Terry”, I decided to make a yellow-haired American boy about ten to twelve years old.  His companion in the initial episodes I drew as a handsome, black-haired Irish-American named Pat Ryan.  The two were to encounter violent physical trials and I did not wish your Terry to be beating villains three times his size in illogical combat, hence the fully mature Ryan was to be the prime belligerent as well as a believable counter for the succession of lovely ladies they were to meet.

As the strip story opened, Terry and Pat stepped from an ocean liner onto the docks of an unnamed city on the China coast.  Their purpose was to find a mine staked out years before by Terry’s grandfather, the map of which the lad had inherited.  As the story progressed the two Americans never did acquire the mine, in fact it was never my intention that they should; the devise was used only to get my yarn under way.  Such riches would have destroyed the possibilities of intrigue and limited the testing of the heroes’ resources, the very marrow of an adventure story.

I shall not retell ten years of continuity, but if the short introduction invokes curiosity in my listeners it will demonstrate the basic premise of the cartoon strip: Suspense.  You in Australia have read the Arabian Nights tales, of how Scheherazade saved herself from beheading by telling a story that never ended.  The technique is much the same as that used in the narrative strip today.

As the story of Terry continued, the pirates mentioned in the title gave way as villains in favor of the Japanese who invaded China during the so-called “incident’ of 1937.  At about this time I found that the models I had been using for characters in the strip (selected after the experimental sketches had been drawn)  were not as colorful as my friends whose exploits in real life were more fascinating than fiction.  I therefore selected a pilot named Frank Higgs with whom I had gone to college and drew him just as he appeared at the time in the uniform of the China National Aviation corporation.  The success of this venture prompted the continued use of such actual people.  Today nearly every figure in “Terry” is patterned after a living man or woman.

Perhaps my friends in Australia would like to know the actual physical preparation of the original writing and drawing that goes into “Terry”: the rectangle on which the pictures are to be produced is ruled in pencil exactly twice the size you see it in print; then the four or more blocks for individual illustrations are indicated.

The first creative step is the writing of the dialog above the heads of the figures to be drawn in later.  I do this instead of typing out the story on separate sheets of paper in order to better visualize the illustrations to come.  I don’t complete one entire strip each day, instead I write all six daily releases, then start at the beginning and pencil the drawings of all six.  Next, with a fine steel pen I trace over my pencil lines to obtain minute detail, finally using a brush to obtain the effects of light and shade.  The ink used is of the heavy black India variety which facilitates the transfer of the drawings to printing blocks by a photoengraving process too complicated to be explained here.

All of this sounds quite casual.  Actually, before a word is written or a line drawn, every detail of background, mechanical objects, uniform details, etc., must be double-checked for accuracy.  Terry has grown from the child of 1934 to a second Lieutenant (corresponding to Pilot Officer in the RAAF) in the United States Army Air Forces.  Consequently each change in military dress, equipment and usage must be accurate enough to please the millions of readers in and out of military service who expect their fictional favorites to be portrayed correctly.

To achieve this authenticity I keep and elaborate file of photographs obtained from many sources.  In addition I interview returning combat soldiers to keep myself posted on the latest turn in slang and usage.  My studio is filled with objects which must be drawn and re-drawn so often that a photograph will not suffice.

My studio is in a large white building which also contains living quarters.  It stands on the side of a low range of mountains not far from the mighty Hudson river in the State of New York and is forty-five miles from the City of New York.

I work at night because the telephone seldom rings during the early morning hours.

If you are interested in the way we in the United States do things, remember we are just as absorbed by everything Australian.  In my particular case, my young friend Terry may lead me into an intensive study of your country.  If a turn of his fortunes brings his aircraft down on Australian soil I must know all I can about you.  Even if I am only an arm-chair globe trotter I must do my best to use my models well.

Terry never made it to Australia, but for those interested in rollicking, if dated, adventures set in the pre-World War II and World War II-era Far East, the Library of American Comics has republished the entire run of “Terry and the Pirates” by Milton Caniff in six volumes (the strip continued from 1947 to 1973 under the authorship of another author/illustrator after Caniff left his cartoon syndicate and began the long-running strip “Steve Canyon”).

During World War II, Caniff also produced a somewhat risqué non-serial strip called “Male Call” for use in U. S. military camp newspapers.

Milton Caniff was a giant of the U.S. cartoonist world.  He served as a founder and president of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) and in 1947 won the Society’s first Cartoonist of the Year Award.  He is an inductee into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.  In 1995, when the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American comic strip, it chose Milton Caniff and “Terry and Pirates” as one of the classic strips to be honored.

image of the Terry and the Pirates stamp

Terry and the Pirates commemorative stamp


Source:  The photograph and text of the talk are from Correspondence with Prominent Persons Regarding Recordings (Entry NC-148 563; NAID 820096), file: “Caniff, Mr. Milton (recorded 3/17/45)”, RG 208.

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 appreciate the assistance of Linda Teegen and Julie Brown of The Permissions Group for their help in securing approval to use images from “Terry and the Pirates.”

Posted in Archives II, Military Records | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hunting Hitler Part I – The Bunker (April 28-April 29)

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

Introduction

On November 10, 2015, the History Channel will begin an eight-part series on the possibility that Adolf Hitler did not die in his Berlin bunker on April 30, but escaped to South America, called Hunting Hitler.  When I learned about the forthcoming television series I remembered that in 2003 the National Archives released the FBI file 65-53615 from the series Headquarters Files from Classification 65 (Espionage) Released Under the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts, 1935-1985 (NAID 565806), regarding the multitude of unsubstantiated sightings of Hitler after April 30, 1945.  My curiosity prompted me to take a look at the file and found, as I remembered from a decade earlier, that it consisted primarily of rumors regarding Hitler being in South America.  I then proceeded to a 1945-1949 State Department Central Decimal File (NAID 302021),862.002 (Hitler, Adolf) – and found that it contained similar information, as did the files Hitler, Adolf – XE003655 in the Intelligence and Investigative Dossiers Personal Files, 1977-2004 (NAID 645054).

Having written a two-part blog on Hitler’s stenographers and their escape from Berlin in April 1945 as well as an article in Prologue regarding Hitler’s personal will, political testament, and marriage license, I thought I would write something about the death of Hitler in the bunker on April 30 and the subsequent search during 1945 for proof of his death.  Thus, this series of blogs.


On the evening of April 28, Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Reich chancellor and President, had a lot on his mind. News had arrived during the day that there had been an uprising in northern Italy; Benito Mussolini had been arrested by the partisans; armistice negotiations were being initiated by some of Hitler’s military commanders in Italy; and there had been an attempted coup in Munich.  Russian forces were only some 1,000 yards from the bunker, and the German Ninth Army, which had been ordered to break through the Russian-encircled capital of the Reich to rescue Hitler would most likely not to be able to accomplish its mission. Still, Hitler held a slim hope that Gen. Walther Wenck’s 12th Army, heading toward Potsdam and Berlin, would succeed.[1]

As the evening progressed, more bad news was received in Hitler’s bunker.  During the night Hitler received confirmation that Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was negotiating with the Western Allies. In response, Hitler ordered Eva Braun’s brother-in-law, SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hermann Fegelein, Himmler’s liaison to Hitler, executed for desertion and treason.[2]

Because of the decreasing hope of rescue by his military, the actual and perceived disloyalty of his subordinates (including Hermann Goering), and the desire not to be captured alive, Hitler knew that he soon would have to commit suicide. Before doing so, he wished to marry Eva Braun, and write his final political testament and private will (NAID 6883511).

Hitler’s secretary, 25-year-old Gertrude Junge, tried that evening to sleep for an hour. Sometime after 11 p.m., she woke up. She washed, changed her clothes, and thought it must be time for the evening tea with Hitler, secretary Frau Gerda Christian, and Hitler’s vegetarian cook Fraulein Constanze Manzialy, as had become a nightly occurrence. When she opened the door to Hitler’s study, Hitler came toward her, shook her hand, and asked, “‘Have you had a nice little rest, child?’” Junge replied, “Yes, I have slept a little.” He said, “Come along, I want to dictate something.” This was between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. They went into the little conference room near Hitler’s quarters. She was about to remove the cover from the typewriter, as Hitler normally dictated directly to the typewriter, when he said, “Take it down on the shorthand pad.” She sat down alone at the big table and waited. Hitler stood in his usual place by the broad side of the table, leaned both hands on it, and stared at the empty table top, no longer covered that day with maps. For several seconds Hitler did not say anything. Then, suddenly he began to speak the first words: “My political testament.” After finishing his political testament, according to Junge, Hitler paused a brief moment and then began dictating his private will.[3]

Hitler’s private will was shorter. It explained his marriage, disposed of his property, and announced his impending death:

Although during the years of struggle I believed that I could not undertake the responsibility of marriage, now, before the end of my life, I have decided to take as my wife the woman who, after many years of true friendship, came to this city, already almost besieged, of own free will, in order to share my fate. She will go to her death with me at her own wish, as my wife. This will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.

Then after describing his possessions and their disposition, he named Martin Bormann as Executor, with “full legal authority to make all decisions.” He concluded: “My wife and I choose to die in order to escape the shame of overthrow or capitulation. It is our wish for our bodies to be burnt immediately on the place where I have performed the greater part of my daily work during the course of my 12 years’ service to my people.”[4]

The dictation was completed.  He moved away from the table on which he had been leaning all this time and said, “Type that out for me at once in triplicate and then bring it in to me.” Junge felt that there was something urgent in his voice, and thought about the most important, most crucial document written by Hitler going out into the world without any corrections or thorough revision. She knew that “Every letter of birthday wishes to some Gauleiter, artist, etc., was polished up, improved, revised—but now Hitler had no time for any of that.” Junge took her notepad and typewriter across the hall to type up the political and private wills, knowing that Hitler wanted her to finish as fast as possible. The room she used was next to Reichs Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels’s private room. [5]

The next item of business was the Hitler-Braun marriage. Once Junge departed the conference room, guests began entering to attend the wedding ceremony.  The ceremony took place probably at some point between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.  The ceremony lasted no longer than 10 minutes.  They then withdrew into their private apartments for a wedding breakfast. Shortly afterward, Bormann, Goebbels, Magda Goebbels, and the secretaries Christian and Junge, were invited into the private suite.

Junge would not come right away as she was typing across the hall. At some point during the party, Junge walked across the corridor to express her congratulations to the newlyweds and wish them luck. She stayed for less than 15 minutes and then returned to her typing.

For part of the time, General of Infantry Hans Krebs, Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Lt. Col. Nicholaus von Below (Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant) joined the party, as did Werner Naumann (state secretary in the Ministry of Propaganda), Arthur Axmann (Reich youth leader), Ambassador Walter Hewel (permanent representative of Foreign Ministry to Hitler at Fuehrer headquarters), Hitler’s valet Linge, SS-Maj. Otto Guensche (personal adjutant to Hitler), and Manzialy, the cook. They sat for hours, drinking champagne and tea, eating sandwiches, and talking. Hitler spoke again of his plans of suicide and expressed his belief that National Socialism was finished and would never revive (or would not be resurrected soon), and that death would be a relief to him now that he had been deceived and betrayed by his best friends. [6]

Hitler left the party three times to ask how Junge had gotten in her typing. According to Junge, Hitler would look in and say “Are you ready?” and she said, “No my Fuehrer, I am not ready yet.” Bormann and Goebbels also kept coming to see if she was finished. These comings and goings made Junge nervous and delayed the process, increasing her distress about the whole situation, and she made several typographical errors. Those were later crossed out in ink. Also complicating her task was the need to add to the political testament the names of some appointments of the new government under Adm. Karl Doenitz. During the course of the wedding party, Hitler discussed and negotiated the matter with Bormann and Goebbels. While Junge was typing the clean copies of the political testament from her shorthand notes, Goebbels or Bormann came in alternately to give her the names of the ministers of the future government, a process that lasted until she had finished typing.  Toward 5 a.m., Junge typed the last of the three copies each of the political testament and personal will. They were timed at 4 a.m., as that was when she had begun typing the first copy of the political testament.

Just as she finished, Goebbels came to her for the documents, almost tearing the last piece of paper from the typewriter. She gave them to him without having a chance to review the final product. She asked Goebbels whether they still wanted her, and he said, “no, lie down and have a rest.” The wedding party was ending, and Goebbels took the copies of the documents to Hitler. The documents were ready to be signed. First Hitler signed the personal will, followed by the witnesses Bormann, Goebbels, and von Below. Hitler and witnesses Goebbels, Bormann, Burgdorf, and Krebs then signed the political testament. [7]

At around 6am on April 29 the regular intense Russian artillery bombardment began with the whole area around the Reich Chancellery and the government district coming under fire. Then in the early morning hours the Soviets launched their all-out offensive against the center of Berlin.  Soon the front line was now only some 450 yards from the Chancellery. [8]

Hitler now, in the early morning hours, wanted the three copies of his political testament and private will to be taken out of Berlin and delivered, to Grand Admiral Doenitz and Field Marshal Ferdinand Schoerner (then commander of Army Group Center in Bohemia – who would become the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army by Hitler’s political testament). The first person summoned to serve as a courier was thirty-year old Major Willi Johannmeier, Hitler’s adjutant to the Army. At this point he resided in the air-raid shelter under the new Reichs Chancellery, near Hitler’s bunker.

At about 8am Burgdorf sent for Johannmeier and told him that an important mission had been entrusted to him. Like Johannmeier, Burgdorf’s room was in the shelter of the new Reichs Chancellery.  He was to carry a copy of Hitler’s political testament and private will out of Berlin, through the Russian lines, and deliver them to Field Marshal Schoerner. With him would go two other messengers, bearing similar documents. These were SS-Colonel Wilhelm Zander (an aide to Bormann, representing Bormann) and Heinz Lorenz (an official of the Propaganda Ministry, as representative of Goebbels). These two men would receive separate instructions. Johannmeier was charged to escort the party on their journey through enemy lines. Burgdorf then gave him the documents he was to carry, along with a covering letter from himself to Schoerner:

Führer’s HQ April 29, 1945

Dear Schoerner

Attached I send you by safe hands the Testament of our Fuehrer, who wrote it today after the shattering news of the treachery of the RF SS [Himmler]. It is his unalterable decision. The Testament is to be published as soon as the Fuehrer orders it, or as soon as his death is confirmed.

All good wishes, and Heil Hitler!

Yours,

Wilhelm Burgdorf

Maj. Johannmeier will deliver the Testament.

About the time Burgdorf was meeting with Johannmeier, or perhaps later, Bormann summoned Zander, who, like Johannmeier, resided in the nearby shelter under the new Reichs Chancellery. Bormann gave him his instructions, including that he was to take copies of Hitler’s private will and political testament to Doenitz.  When Zander expressed his desire to stay, Bormann went to Hitler and explained Zander’s wish. Hitler said he must go and Bormann conveyed this to Zander. Thereupon he handed Zander copies of Hitler’s political and private testaments, and the certificate of marriage of Hitler and Eva Braun.  To cover these documents Bormann scribbled a short note to Doenitz: “Dear Grand Admiral,-Since all divisions have failed to arrive, and our position seems hopeless, the Fuehrer dictated last night the attached political Testament. Heil Hitler.-Yours, Bormann.”  After receiving the documents from Bormann, Zander sewed them in his clothing later that morning.

Meanwhile Johannmeier had found Lorenz and told him that a special mission awaited him. Lorenz went to breakfast where he met Zander, who gave him a similar message, and advised him to go to Goebbels or Bormann at once. Lorenz reported to Goebbels sometime before 10am, and was told to go to Bormann and then return. From Bormann, Lorenz received copies of Hitler’s personal and political testaments. Bormann told Lorenz that he had been given this mission because as a young man with plenty of initiative, it was considered that he had a good chance of getting through. On his return, Goebbels gave his Appendix [to Hitler’s Political Testament] to him. Where Goebbels told him to take it is not totally clear. It seems that he was to take them to Doenitz if possible, or failing him, the nearest German High Command, and if all else failed, he was to publish the wills for historical purposes, and ultimately, it appears that the documents were to end up at the Party Archives in Munich.

When Johannmeier went to see Hitler around 9am he had the will in his (Johannmeier) possession. Hitler told him that this testament must be brought out of Berlin at any price, that Schoerner must receive it. Hitler expressed his opinion that Johannmeier would succeed in the task and once again stressed the importance of the will reaching the destination which he ordered.  Johannmeier said they both realized that they would not see each other again and that this influenced the tone in which they said goodbye. Hitler spoke very cordially. Hitler shook his hand. Johannmeier realized that Hitler was going to die. [9]

While Johannmeier, Zander, and Lorenz were getting their instructions, the Russian attack drew ever relentlessly near the bunker. At about 9am the Russian artillery fire suddenly stopped, and shortly afterwards runners reported to the Bunker that the Russians were advancing with tanks and infantry towards the Wilhelmplatz. It grew quite silent in the bunker and there was a great tension among its occupants. [10]

About 10am, SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commandant of the Chancellery, rang Guensche and informed him that Russian tanks were advancing into Wilhelmstrasse and towards Anhalt station. Guensche reported this to Hitler, who ordered Mohnke to come to him. When Mohnke arrived, Hitler, in the presence of Krebs, Goebbels and Bormann, asked him immediately how long his forces could hold out against the Russians capturing the bunker. Mohnke replied that unless he received heavy weapons, principally anti-tank weapons and sufficient ammunition, he could only hold out for another 2-3 days at most. At this point, according to Mohnke, the mood of all the leaders was gloomy and “all looked to Adolf Hitler and felt doomed.” [11]

Later in the morning Junge went back to Hitler’s bunker, in order to see whether any changes had taken place. She saw messengers from the fronts coming and going, Hitler was uneasy and walked from one room to another.  Hitler told her he would wait until the couriers had arrived to their destinations with the testaments and then would commit suicide.[12]

During the morning General Krebs described to Major Freytag von Loringhoven, his adjutant, the profound disillusionment of Hitler. After the failure of all his effort, Hitler had positively decided to end his life.[13]

At noon, with the Russians closing in on the bunker, Hitler held his situation conference. Joining Hitler were Bormann, Krebs, Burgdorf, Goebbels, and a few others.  During the briefing Hitler was informed that the Soviet forces had begun an encircling attack on the remnants of the Citadel from three sides and resistance could not be maintained much longer. Krebs added that there was no news of the relief Army.[14]

At about noon, Lorenz, in civilian clothes, Zander in his SS uniform, and Johannmeier in military uniform, accompanied by a corporal Heinz Hummerich (a clerk in the Adjutancy of the Fuehrer Headquarters), left the Bunker.  Penetrating three Russian rings thrown around the center of the city, they reached Pichelsdorf (at the north end of Havel Lake) by around 4pm or 5pm, , where a battalion of Hitler Youth was holding the bridge against the expected arrival of the relief army. There they slept till night. [15]


Footnotes

[1] Anton Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler: Legend, Evidence and Truth (London: Cassell, 2000), p. 125; Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven, In the Bunker with Hitler: 23 July 1944-29 April 1945 (New York: Pegasus Books, 2006), p. 168; Gerhard Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days: An Eye-Witness Account, trans, by Sandra Bance, (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military Classics, 2005), p. 169.

[2] Erich Kern, “In the Bunker for the Last Battle,” Appendix 1 to Erich Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur: The Memoirs of Erich Kempka, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Frontline Books, 2010), p. 141; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 125; Joachim Fest, Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich, trans. By Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Girousx, 2004), p. 94.

[3] 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. 3, 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. 4, 31-32, 35, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Traudl Junge, Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s last secretary, ed. By Melissa Mueller and trans. By Anthea Bell (London: Phoenix, 2004), pp. 182-183..

[4] Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary, Allied Force Headquarters (NAID 2152314), Publications (“P”) Files, 1946-1951, RG 319; [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 32, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University.

[5] [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, p. 34, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184.

[6] 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598) RG 165; [Interrogation of] Erwin Jakubeck, Munich, February 6, 1948, p. 22, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184; H. R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947), pp. 174-175, 174, n. 13; Heinz Linge, With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet, trans. By Geoffrey Brooks (London: Frontline Books and New York: Skyhorse Publsihing, 2009), p. 194; James P. O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker (London: Arrow Books, 1979), p. 188; Henrik Eberle and Matthias Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler’s Personal Aides, trans. By Giles MacDonogh (New York: Public Affairs, 2005), p. 263; Anthony Read and David Fisher, The Fall of Berlin (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), pp. 443, 444.

[7] 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. 4, 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); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); [Interrogation of] Gertraud [Gertrude] Junge, Munich, February 7, 1948, pp. 34-35, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Junge, Until the Final Hour, p. 184; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 182.

[8] Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, pp. 172-173; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 264; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 131.

[9] Text of letter from Gen. Burgdorf to Field Marshal Schoerner accompanying Hitler’s Political Testament (Johannmeier’s copy), Appendix to Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine],  File: Johannmeier, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); 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. 4, 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); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); Third Interrogation of Willi Johannmeier, January 1, 1946, at CIB, BAOR [British Army of the Rhine], File: Johannmeier, Willi – XE013274 (NAID 7359546); Interrogation of General Eckhard Christian and Major Willy Johannmeyer [Johannmeier], Americana Club, Nuremberg, 1330-1830 hours, March 10, 1948, pp. 36, 37, Interrogations of Hitler Associates, Musmanno Collection, Gumberg Library Digital Collections, Duquesne University; Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 187-189; Manuscript Statement by Hitler’s Aide-de-Camp, Otto Guensche, May 17, 1945 in V. K. Vinogrado, J. F. Pogonyi, and N. V. Teptzov, Hitler’s Death: Russia’s Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB (London: Chaucer Press, 2005), p. 163; Herman Rothman, ed. by Helen Fry, Hitler’s Will, The History Press (Glocestershire, United Kingdom, 2009), p. 101.

[10] Boldt, Hitler’s Last Days, p. 172; Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 265.

[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, pp. 177, 178. According to another source, Mohnke said a day at most. Eberle and Uhl, eds., The Hitler Book, p. 265.

[12] 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. 4, 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).

[13] Freytag von Loringhoven, In the Bunker with Hitler, p. 170.

[14] 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 191; Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler, p. 131.

[15] 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 POW Interrogations, 1943-1945 (NAID 2790598); Col. C. R. Tuff, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 60, For week ending February 27, 1946, Part II-General Intelligence, “The Discovery of Hitler’s Wills,” [based on information supplied by Control Commission (BE) Intelligence Bureau] File: Combined Weekly Intelligence Summary (NAID 2152314); Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, pp. 189-190.

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I Can’t Believe It’s Not Oleomargarine

Today’s post was written by Jessica Lee.  She was a summer intern in the Archives 1 Reference Section, working with the Civil records team.

During my internship, I have had the opportunity to work with archivists on different kinds of projects. For one assignment, I entered titles of various public and private laws and resolutions into a database. One particular Congressional act caught my attention, so much so that I had to look at it more closely. It was:

Forty-Ninth Congress, Sess. 1, Chap. 840, approved August 2, 1886: “An act defining butter, also imposing a tax upon and regulating the manufacture, sale, importation, and exportation of oleomargarine.”

Using the printed U.S. Statutes at Large, I read the entire eight pages of the law. In it, the act defined oleomargarine as including “all mixtures and compounds of tallow, beef-fat, suet, lard, lard-oil, vegetable-oil annotto, and other coloring matter…made in imitation or semblance of butter,” whereas butter was defined as being “made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter.”

The law also imposed special oleomargarine taxes: $600 on manufacturers, $480 on wholesale dealers, and $48 on retail dealers. It also decreed that oleomargarine must be “packed by the manufacturer thereof in firkins, tubs, or other wooden packages not before used for that purpose, each containing not less than ten pounds.” Additionally, the manufacturer was also required to affix on each package a label that says “Notice.–The manufacturer of the oleomargarine herein contained has complied with all the requirements of law. Every person is cautioned not to use either this package again or the stamp thereon again, nor to remove the contents of this package without destroying said stamp, under the penalty provided by law in such cases.”  A manufacturer neglecting to do so would incur a $50 fine.

An additional tax on the manufacturer included two cents per pound for “oleomargarine which shall be manufactured and sold, or removed for consumption of use.” Imported margarine did not escape notice as it too was taxed fifteen cents per pound, in addition to any import duties.

The consumer, it seems, was also affected. The law stated that someone who “knowingly purchases or receives for sale any oleomargarine” which has either not been branded or stamped accordingly, or for which the manufacturer has not paid the special tax, could be fined $50 and $100, respectively, for each offense.

Oversight fell to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The law decreed that “an analytical chemist and a microscopist” would be appointed by the Commissioner to assist in the policing of oleomargarine.

So what happened to the Federal Margarine Act of 1886? According to a post on the NARA’s “Prologue – Pieces of History” blog, it appears that the “federal margarine tax system came to an end in 1951.” It goes on to say that the “dairy state Wisconsin was the last state to repeal the restrictions on the sale, coloration, and/or manufacture of margarine” which happened in 1967.

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Lithograph Company v. Adolph Coors – a Case of an Unpaid Tab

Today’s post was written by Cody White, Archivist at the National Archives at Denver

142 years ago this fall Adolf Coors, along with Denver businessman Jacob Shueler, recorded a deed of purchase for an abandoned tannery in Golden, Colorado. Within months the building would become home to the Golden Brewery, thus beginning a new chapter in beer brewing history.

Coors was born in Germany in 1847 and by the age of 15 was already an apprentice in a local brewery. Immigrating to the United States at the age of 21, Coors ventured west to Colorado where he worked as a gardener as well as the manager of a bottling plant, saving his money in the hopes of opening his own brewery. Two years after the opening of the Golden Brewery, Coors bought out Shueler and renamed his venture the Coors Golden Brewery. It was only a few years after this point when Adolph Coors found himself in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Colorado, and so is now today found in Record Group 21 Records of District Courts of the United States – Civil Case Files (NAID 721171).

In 1889 Coors had contracted with the Beck and Pauli Lithography Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 5,000,000 bottle labels and 500,000 shipping labels, as well as letterhead, postcards, and advertising showcards discussed in part within these two handwritten letters found in the case file – 3165 Beck and Pauli v. Adolph Coors (NAID 22740465).

The above letter from December, 1889 also references Coors’ displeasure in how the “rock” is depicted in the trademark. The rock in question is Castle Rock, a prominent feature on South Table Mountain in Golden, Colorado and is seen on this letterhead for Golden Brewery from 1889 (NAID 22740512).

letter written on Golden Brewery stationary showing Castle Rock

Letter from A. Coors to Beck & Pauli Lithograph Company, 11/7/1889

Its inclusion in the Coors’ trademark image makes further sense when one sees a photograph of just how prominent the peak is in relation to the brewery. In this close-up of a 1967 Bureau of Reclamation aerial photograph, from the file 154/001-005 Scenic Cities General GP (NAID 23811891), one sees Castle Rock to the right of the Coors plant.

photo of Castle Rock to the right of the town of Golden, CO

Bureau of Reclamation, 1967

After settling on the design, by March of 1890 the company had shipped nearly a quarter of the entire order and with that the problem began. Coors felt that delivery of the order should have been staggered and he was receiving much more of everything than he needed. This bill (NAID 22740516) would be the spark that would ignite the case; Coors refused to pay it.

bill for Coors labels totalling $910.42

Bill from Beck & Pauli Lithograph Company, 3/19/1890

Later that year the lithography company sent an employee out west to Colorado to reason with Coors and attempt to collect on the bill. According to the correspondence, he argued for so long with Coors that the lithography employee missed his train back into Denver and was forced to hire a wagon and team to get back to his hotel. The trip was for naught as Coors still refused to pay. The nearly $1,000 order grew to $3891.64 with interest by November 10, 1894 when the lithography company finally filed suit in Denver.

summons for adolph coors notifying of a case to recover $3891.64

Summons for Adolph Coors, 11/12/1894

The case never made it to trial. While the file itself makes no mention, the court clerk’s minutes from January 16, 1896 in another RG 21 series notes that when the judge called for trial the plaintiff was not ready and so the case was dismissed at plaintiffs cost without prejudice.

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