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The Euro world War II
In April 1945
Dr Iwan suwandy,MHA
Private Limited E-book In CD-Rom edition
Special for Senior Collectors Copyright@2012
Today German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Japanese Emporer Hirohito, Russian Kommisar Joeseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gathered in Berne Switzerland and agreed to call off World War Two. Sources close the the conferance speculate that an unannounced release of Oleg Maddox’s 4.0 Patch for Forgotten Battles/Aces Expansion Pack/Pacific Fighters was the primary reason for the unexpected turn of events in world history. In a post meeting press conference all participants claimed that the new patch made their counties respective aircraft superior to all others. Each was quoted as saying “I p’owned them all!”
More as the story develops.
1945 (Apr) cover and letter from ‘Pte HJ Pavey, RASC HQ, Force 135, APO England’ with d/r. FPO 836 p/m. and shield censor 10444 h/s. ‘Force 135′ located at Plymouth to liberate Jersey, Channel Islands May 1945.
Soviet soldiers engaged in bitter street fighting to finish off the remnants of the German resistance in Vienna. April 1945
British Guards and Commando units attack over the River Reno between Lake Comachio and the sea
1945 Air Mail cover from CHILE to ‘Sub Lieutenant Alastair Heffer, Volunteer Santiago de Chile, River Plate House, London’ [Undercover address – South American Volunteers with British Forces] and redirected to ‘LCI (L) 285, c/o GPO London’ with “Ship” in mss. [Landing Craft Infantry (Large)] Also PC 90 OBE 2585 label. Roughly opened
On the Western Front…
The British 2nd Army continues its advance north of the Ruhr River. Munster is taken. The Canadian 1st Army also begins to move north and east from between Nijmegen and Emmerich.
On the Eastern Front… In southeast Hungary, Magykanizsa falls to the Soviet advance while in Slovakia, Kremnica is captured.
2: Soviets launch Vienna Offensive against German forces in and around the Austrian capital city.
: German armies are surrounded in the Ruhr region.
On the Eastern Front…
the Soviet forces take
Wiener Neustadt. Almost all of Hungary is now clear of Axis troops while in Czechoslovakia
Bratislava is besieged
Postally used Cover from Bratislav in 1945
On the Eastern Front…
Bratislava falls to troops of the Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front.
On the Western Front…
British and Canadian units take
and move on
US 9th Army units have reached the river Weser opposite Hameln. Troops from US 3rd Army capture Kassel while other units take Gotha and advance near Erfurt. French units take Karlsruhe. The Nazi gold reserves are captured in the salt mine at Merkers
In Algiers… Free French leader, Charles de Gaulle, announces changes to the Committee of National Liberation. Two communists are appointed and de Gaulle is made head of the armed forces. General Giraud is being sidelined.
In Egypt… A Greek brigade mutinies under the leadership of Communists. British troops blockade the camp until April 24th. The Greeks kill 1 British officer.
In Occupied France… Members of the French resistance halt production at the Bronzavia aircraft components plant near Paris.
Over Romania… The Bucharest marshalling yards are bombed by heavily escorted bombers of the US 15th Air Force. A total of 20 aircraft are lost. Civilian casualties are reported to amount to 2942 killed and 2126 injured.
4 April 1945.
Photograph by Sergeant Travis, Army Film and Photographic Unit, World War Two, North West Europe, 1945.
Sergeant J. D. Eilbeck writes ‘No Way Out’ on a portrait of Adolf Hitler in order to provide a ‘no exit’ sign at 156th Brigade Headquarters. When this photograph was taken the brigade, part of 52nd (Lowland) Division, had just crossed the Rhine (24 March 1945) and was pushing on towards Bremen in the face of bitter German resistance.
From a collection of 23 official photographs
4: Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic, is overrun by advancing Soviet forces. The remaining members of Prime Minister Jozef Tiso‘s pro-German government fled to Austria.
4: Ohrdruf death camp is liberated by the Allies.
: Po Valley Campaign begins in northern Italy.
Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald
Colonel Hayden Sears poses with Ohrdruf survivors, April 8, 1945
On April 4, 1945, American soldiers of the 4th Armored Division of General Patton’s US Third Army were moving through the area south of the city of Gotha in search of a secret Nazi communications center when they unexpectedly came across the ghastly scene of the abandoned Ohrdruf forced labor camp.
A few soldiers in the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division of the US Third Army reached the abandoned camp that same day, after being alerted by prisoners who had escaped from the march out of the camp, which had started on April 2nd. Prior to that, in September 1944, US troops had witnessed their first concentration camp: the abandoned Natzweiler camp in Alsace, which was then a part of the Greater German Reich, but is now in France.
Ohrdruf, also known as Ohrdruf-Nord, was the first Nazi prison camp to be discovered while it still had inmates living inside of it, although 9,000 prisoners had already been evacuated from Ohrdruf on April 2nd and marched 32 miles to the main camp at Buchenwald. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the camp had a population of 11,700 prisoners in late March, 1945 before the evacuation began.
The photograph at the top of this page, taken at Ohrdruf on April 8, 1945, shows survivors who had escaped during the evacuation of the camp, but came back after the American liberators arrived.
One of the American liberators who saw the Ohrdruf camp on April 4, 1945 was Bruce Nickols. He was on a patrol as a member of the I & R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of the 354th Infantry Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division, Third US Army. According to Nickols, there were survivors in the barracks who had hidden when the SS massacred 60 to 70 prisoners on the roll call square before they left the camp on April 2nd. The body of a dead SS soldier lay at the entrance to the camp, according to Nickols.
Dead prisoners at Ohrdruf forced labor camp
In the photo above, the prisoners have been partially covered by blankets because their pants had been pulled down, an indication that these men might have been killed by their fellow prisoners after the Germens left. The first Americans on the scene said that the blood was still wet. The liberators all agreed that these prisoners had been shot, although some witnesses said that they had been shot in the neck, while others said that they had been mowed down by machine gun fire.
The American soldiers were told by Ohrdruf survivors that these prisoners had been shot by the SS on April 2nd because they had run out of trucks for transporting sick prisoners out of the camp, but there were sick prisoners still inside the barracks when the Americans arrived.
Among the soldiers who helped to liberate Ohrdruf was Charles T. Payne, who is Senator Barak Obama’s great uncle, the brother of his maternal grandmother. Charles T. Payne was a member of Company K, 355th Infantry Regiment, 89th Infantry Division.
According to an Associated Press story, published on June 4, 2009, Charles T. Payne’s unit arrived at the Ohrdruf camp on April 6, 1945.
The following is an excerpt from the Associated Press story:
“I remember the whole area before you got to the camp, the town and around the camp, was full of people who had been inmates,” Payne, 84, said in a telephone interview from his home in Chicago.
“The people were in terrible shape, dressed in rags, most of them emaciated, the effects of starvation. Practically skin and bones.”
When Payne’s unit arrived, the gates to the camp were open, the Nazis already gone.
“In the gate, in the very middle of the gate on the ground was a dead man whose head had been beaten in with a metal bar,” Payne recalled. The body was of a prisoner who had served as a guard under the Germans and been killed by other inmates that morning.
“A short distance inside the front gate was a place where almost a circle of people had been … killed and were lying on the ground, holding their tin cups, as if they had been expecting food and were instead killed,” he said. “You could see where the machine gun had been set up behind some bushes, but the Germans were all gone by that time.”
He said he only moved some 200-300 feet (60-100 meters) inside of the camp. But that was enough to capture images so horrible that Gen. George S. Patton Jr. ordered townspeople into Ohrdruf to see for themselves the crimes committed by their countrymen – an order that would repeated at Buchenwald, Dachau and other camps liberated by U.S. soldiers.
“In some sheds were stacks of bodies, stripped extremely – most of them looked like they had starved to death. They had sprinkled lime over them to keep the smell down and stacked them several high and the length of the room,” Payne said.
On April 11, 1945, just a week after the discovery of the Ohrdruf camp, American soldiers liberated the infamous Buchenwald main camp, which was to become synonymous with Nazi barbarity for a whole generation of Americans. Buchenwald is located 5 miles north of the city of Weimar, which is 20 miles to the east of Gotha, where General Dwight D. Eisenhower had set up his headquarters.
The Ohrdruf forced labor camp was a sub-camp of the huge Buchenwald camp. Ohrdruf had been opened in November 1944 when prisoners were brought from Buchenwald to work on the construction of a vast underground bunker to house a new Führer headquarters for Hitler and his henchmen. This location was in the vicinity of a secret Nazi communications center and it was also near an underground salt mine where the Nazis had stored their treasures.
A. C. Boyd was one of the soldiers in the 89th Infantry Division who witnessed the Ohrdruf “death camp.” In a recent news article, written by Jimmy Smothers, Boyd mentioned that he saw bodies of prisoners who had been gassed at Ohrdruf.
The following quote is from the news article in The Gadsden Times:
On April 7, 1945, the 89th Infantry Division received orders to move into the German town of Ohrdruf, which surrendered as the Americans arrived. A mile or so past this quaint village lay Stalag Nord Ohrdruf.
When regiments of the 89th Division got to the camp, the gates were open and the guards apparently all had gone, but the doors to the wooden barracks were closed. Lying on the ground in front were bodies of prisoners who recently had been shot.
“When I went into the camp I just happened to open the door to a small room,” recalled Boyd. “Inside, the Germans had stacked bodies very high. They had dumped some lime over them, hoping it would dissolve the bodies.
“I still have vivid memories of what I saw, but I try not to dwell on it,” Boyd continued. “We had been warned about what we might find, but actually seeing it was horrible. There were so many dead, and some so starved all they could do was gape open their mouths, feebly move their arms and murmur.
“There were ditches dug out in the compound and we could see torsos, lots of arms, severed legs, etc., sticking out. Many had been beaten to death, and bodies were still in the ‘beating shed’. Many had been led to the ‘showers,’ where they were pushed in, the doors locked and then gassed.”
One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Rabbi Murray Kohn, who was then 16 years old. He was marched from Ohrdruf on April 2nd to the main camp at Buchenwald and then evacuated by train to Theresienstadt in what is now the Czech Republic.
The following quote is from a speech that Rabbi Kohn made on April 23, 1995 at Wichita, Kansas, at a gathering of the soldiers of the 89th Division for the 50ieth anniversary of the liberation of the camps:
It has been recorded that in Ohrdruf itself the last days were a slaughterhouse. We were shot at, beaten and molested. At every turn went on the destruction of the remaining inmates. Indiscriminant criminal behavior (like the murderers of Oklahoma City some days ago). Some days before the first Americans appeared at the gates of Ohrdruf, the last retreating Nazi guards managed to execute with hand pistols, literally emptying their last bullets on whomever they encountered leaving them bleeding to death as testified by an American of the 37th Tank Battalion Medical section, 10 a.m. April 4, 1945.
Today I’m privileged thanks to God and you gallant fighting men. I’m here to reminisce, and reflect, and experience instant recollections of those moments. Those horrible scenes and that special instance when an Allied soldier outstretched his arm to help me up became my re-entrance, my being re-invited into humanity and restoring my inalienable right to a dignified existence as a human being and as a Jew. Something, which was denied me from September 1939 to the day of liberation in 1945. I had no right to live and survived, out of 80 members of my family, the infernal ordeal of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Ohrdruf, and its satellite camp Crawinkel and finally Theresienstadt Ghetto-Concentration Camp.
I must tell you something about Crawinkel, just outside Ohrdruf. It was recently discovered after the reunification of east and West Germany that in nearby Crawinkel, the Nazis were preparing the Führerbunker, the final headquarters of Hitler from where he planned to strike a deal with the Americans to join in fighting the Red Army. We worked around the clock, the project was known as the Olga Project. We were excavating inside the hills a bunker. Ten thousand people died there and it was completed with rivers of blood right down to the cutlery to embellish Hitler’s table.
When in Auschwitz my eyes witnessed the gassed transports of Jews at the Birkenau Crematories. My own eyes have witnessed Buchenwald terror and planned starvation. My body was decimated, starved and thrashed to the point of no return in Ohrdruf for stealing a piece of a potato, and my flickering life was daily, and hourly on the brink of being snuffed out from starvation or being clubbed for no reason or literally being pushed off a steep cliff over a yawning ravine at Crawinkel.
The war was intrinsically a war against the shallowness of a civilization which had evidently so little moral depth, a nation which can acquiesce in such a short time to the demagoguery of a “corporal” and accept the manifesto of racial superiority, entitled to destroy their supposed inferior enemies, as a moral right. World War II was by far not a testing ground of arms or strategic skills and sophistication, but A MORAL WAR, which declared that human rights, freedom and the equality of all men and women are the highest divine commandment, the supreme commandment to deny the Nazi racists and their cohorts any victory. My friends, many of your comrades (a half million Americans lost their lives to declare eternal war against inhumanity). Six million innocent Jews, five million Christians and some 27 million plus, lost their lives to secure finally that humanity is never to rest until crimes against humans have been eradicated.
The American military knew about the Nazi forced labor camps and concentration camps because Allied planes had done aerial photographs of numerous factories near the camps in both Germany and Poland, and many of these camps, including Buchenwald, had been bombed, killing thousands of innocent prisoners. In fact, General George S. Patton bragged in his autobiography about the precision bombing of a munitions factory near the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 24, 1944 which he erroneously claimed had not damaged the nearby camp. Not only was the camp hit by the bombs, there were 400 prisoners who were killed, along with 350 Germans.
On Easter weekend in April 1945, the 90th Infantry Division overran the little town of Merkers, which was near the Ohrdruf camp, and captured the Kaiseroda salt mine.
Hidden deep inside the salt mine was virtually the entire gold and currency reserves of the German Reichsbank, together with all of the priceless art treasures which had been removed from Berlin’s museums for protection against Allied bombing raids and possible capture by the Allied armies. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum web site, the soldiers also found important documents that were introduced at the Nuremberg IMT as evidence of the Holocaust.
All of America’s top military leaders in Europe, including Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton, visited the mine and viewed the treasure.
The photo below shows General Dwight D. Eisenhower as he examines some paintings stored inside the Kaiseroda salt mine, which he visited on April 12, 1945, along with General Omar Bradley, General George S. Patton, and other high-ranking American Army officers before going to see the Ohrdruf camp. The Nazis had hidden valuable paintings and 250 million dollars worth of gold bars inside the salt mine.
General Eisenhower on visit to salt mine near Ohrdruf
General Dwight D. Eisenhower examines Nazi treasure in salt mine
The soldier on the far left is Benjamin B. Ferencz. In the center is General Eisenhower and behind him, wearing a helmet with four stars is General Omar Bradley. In 1945, Ferencz was transferred from General Patton’s army to the newly created War Crimes Branch of the U.S. Army, where his job was to gather evidence for future trials of German war criminals. A Jew from Transylvania, Ferencz had moved with his family to America at the age of 10 months.
General Patton, left, and General Bradley, center, at Ohrdruf, 12 April 1945
On the same day that the Generals visited the salt mine, they made a side trip to the Ohrdruf forced labor camp after lunch. The photo above was taken at Ohrdruf. Except for General Patton, who visited Buchenwald on April 15, 1945, none of the top American Army Generals ever visited another forced labor camp, nor any of the concentration camps.
One of the first Americans to see Ohrdruf, a few days before the Generals arrived, was Captain Alois Liethen from Appleton, WI. Liethen was an interpreter and an interrogator in the XX Corp, G-2 Section of the US Third Army. On 13 April 1945, he wrote a letter home to his family about this important discovery at Ohrdruf. Although Buchenwald was more important and had more evidence of Nazi atrocities, it was due to the information uncovered by Captain Liethen that the generals visited Ohrdruf instead.
The following is a quote from his letter in which Captain Alois Liethen explains how the visit by the generals, shown in the photo above, came about:
Several days ago I heard about the American forces taking a real honest to goodness concentration camp and I made it a point to get there and see the thing first hand as well as to investigate the thing and get the real story just as I did in the case of the Prisoner of War camp which I described in my last letter. This camp was near the little city of OHRDRUF not far from GOTHA, and tho it was just a small place — about 7 to 10000 inmates it was considered as one of the better types of such camps. After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.
The photograph below was contributed by Mary Liethen Meier, the niece of Captain Liethen. The man standing next to General Eisenhower, and pointing to the prisoner demonstrating how the inmates were punished at Ohrdruf, is Alois Liethen, her uncle. Left to right, the men in the front row are Lt. General George S. Patton, Third U.S. Army Commander; General Omar N. Bradley, Twelfth Army group commander; and General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander. This photo was published in an American newspaper above a headline which read: U.S. GENERALS SEE A “TORTURE” DEMONSTRATION
Generals watch a demonstration of the whipping block
In the photo above, an ordinary wooden table is being used to demonstrate punishment on a whipping block. By order of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, whipping prisoners on a wooden block was discontinued in 1942, so no whipping block was found at Ohrdruf.
The first photo below shows another demonstration at Ohrdruf on a reconstructed wooden whipping block. The second photo below shows the whipping block that was found at Natzweiler by American troops in September 1944.
Ohrdruf survivors demonstrate the whipping block for the Americans
Whipping block used at Natzweiler
All punishments in the concentration camps had to be approved by the head office in Oranienburg where Rudolf Hoess became a member of the staff after he was removed as the Commandant of Auschwitz at the end of December 1943. According to the testimony of Rudolf Hoess on April 15, 1946 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, this punishment was rarely used and it was discontinued in 1942 because Heinrich Himmler, the head of the concentration camp system, had forbidden the SS guards to strike the prisoners. Some of the prisoners at Ohrdruf, who had previously been at the Buchenwald main camp for a number of years, were familiar with this punishment device and were able to reconstruct it.
Captain Liethen’s letter, dated 13 April 1945, continues as follows:
Yesterday I had the honor of being the interpreter for such honorable gentlemen as Gen EISENHOWER, Gen BRADLEY, Gen PATTON and several lesser general officers, all in all there were 21 stars present, Eisenhower with 5, Bradley with 4, Patton 3, my own commanding general with 2 and there were several others of this grade as well as several one star generals. Since I had made the investigation with some of the men who had escaped from the place the day that we captured it I was more or less the conductor of the tour for this famous party. There were batteries of cameras that took pictures of us as we went about the whole place and as I made several demonstrations for them — hell I felt like Garbo getting of (sic) a train in Chicago.
Now about this concentration camp. It was evacuated by the germans when things got too hot for them, this was on the night of April 2. All the healthy ones were marched away in the night, and those who were sick were loaded into trucks and wagons, and then when there was no more transportation available the remainder — about 35 were shot as they lay here waiting for something to come to take them away. Too, in another building there were about 40 dead ones which they did not have the time to bury in their hasty departure.
One of the survivors of Ohrdruf was Andrew Rosner, a Jewish prisoner who had escaped from the march out of the camp and was rescued by soldiers of the 89th Division in the town of Ohrdruf.
The following is a quote from Andrew Rosner on the occasion of a 50ieth anniversary celebration of the liberation of the camp, held on 23 April 1995 at Wichita, Kansas:
At the age of 23, I was barely alive as we began the death march eastward. All around me, I heard the sound of thunder – really the sound of heavy artillery and machinery. I looked for any opportunity to drop out of the march. But, any man who fell behind or to the side was shot instantly by the Nazis. So, I marched on in my delirium and as night fell, I threw myself off into the side of the road and into a clump of trees. I lay there — waiting — and waiting — and suddenly nothing! No more Nazis shouting orders. No more marching feet. No more people. Alone. All alone and alive — although barely.
I moved farther into the woods when I realized I was not really left behind. I slept for awhile as the darkness of night shielded me from the eyes of men. But, as the light of dawn broke, I heard shooting all around me. I played dead as men ran over me, stumbling over me as they went. I lay there as bullets passed by me and Nazis fell all around me. Then all was quiet. The battle was over. I waited for hours before I dared to move. I got up and saw dead German soldiers laying everywhere. I made my way back toward the road and started walking in the direction of a small village, which I could see in the distance. As I approached the village two Germans appeared. One raised his gun toward me and asked what I was doing there. I told him I was lost from the evacuation march. He told me that I must have escaped and I knew he was about to shoot me when the other German told him to let me be. It would not serve them well to harm me now. They allowed me to walk away and as I did, I said a final prayer knowing that a bullet in the back would now find me for sure. It never did!
In the small village I was told to go farther down the road to the town of Ohrdruf from where I had come three days before. There, I would find the Americans. And so I did.
As I entered the outskirts of the town of Ohrdruf two American soldiers met me and escorted me into town. I was immediately surrounded by Americans and as their officers questioned where I had been and what had happened to me, GIs were showering me with food and chocolate and other treats that I had not known for almost five years.
You were all so kind and so compassionate. But, my years in the camps, my weakened state of health, the forced death march, and my escape to freedom was more than a human body could bear any longer and I collapsed into the arms of you, my rescuing angels.
When the generals and their entourage toured the Ohrdruf-Nord camp on April 12th, the dead bodies on the roll-call square had been left outside to decompose in the sun and the rain for more than a week. The stench of the rotting corpses had now reached the point that General Patton, a battle-hardened veteran of 40 years of warfare, the leader of the American Third Army which had won the bloody Battle of the Bulge, and an experienced soldier who had seen the atrocities of two World Wars, threw up his lunch behind one of the barracks.
The photo below shows the naked bodies of prisoners in a shed at Ohrdruf where their bodies had been layered with lime to keep down the smell.
Corpses sprinkled with lime in shed at Ohrdruf-Nord camp
General Eisenhower was not as easily sickened by the smell of the dead bodies. Although he didn’t mention the name Ohrdruf in his book entitled “Crusade in Europe,” Eisenhower wrote the following about the Ohrdruf camp:
I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that ‘the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.’ Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through with the ordeal. I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures. I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.
General Patton wrote in his memoirs that he learned from the surviving inmates that 3,000 prisoners had died in the camp since January 1, 1945. A few dozen bodies on a pyre, constructed out of railroad tracks, had recently been burned and their gruesome remains were still on display. According to General Patton, the bodies had been buried, but were later dug up and burned because “the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crimes.” But after all that effort to cover up their crimes, the SS guards had allegedly shot sick prisoners when they ran short of transportation to move them out of the camp, and had left the bodies as evidence.
The first news reel film about alleged German war-time atrocities, that was shown in American movie theaters, referred to the Ohrdruf labor camp as a “murder mill.” Burned corpses were shown as the narrator of the film asked rhetorically “How many were burned alive?” The narrator described “the murder shed” at Ohrdruf where prisoners were “slain in cold blood.” Lest anyone should be inclined to assume that this news reel was sheer propaganda, the narrator prophetically intoned: “For the first time, America can believe what they thought was impossible propaganda. This is documentary evidence of sheer mass murder – murder that will blacken the name of Germany for the rest of recorded history.”
The documentary film about all the camps, directed by famed Hollywood director George Stevens, which was shown on November 29, 1945 at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, claimed that the Germans “starved, clubbed, and burned to death more than 4,000 political prisoners over a period of 8 months” at Ohrdruf-Nord. These atrocities allegedly took place while the Nazis were desperately trying to finish building a secret underground hideout for Hitler who was holed up in Berlin.
Ohrdruf-Nord survivor shows shallow grave to Generals
In the photo above, the soldier on the far right, holding a notepad in his hand, is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who was at Ohrdruf to gather evidence of Nazi atrocities for future war crimes trials.
Five years after seeing the Ohrdruf camp, General Bradley recalled that “The smell of death overwhelmed us even before we passed through the stockade. More than 3,200 naked, emaciated bodies had been flung into shallow graves. Others lay in the streets where they had fallen. Lice crawled over the yellowed skin of their sharp, bony frames.” The presence of lice in the camp indicates that there was probably an epidemic of typhus, which is spread by lice.
In his letter to his family, written 13 April 1945, Alois Liethen wrote the following regarding the burial pit:
Then, about 2 kilometers from the enclosure was the ‘pit’ where the germans had buried 3200 since December when this camp opened. About 3 weeks ago the commandant of the camp was ordered to destroy all of the evidence of the mass killings in this place and he sent several hundred of these inmates out on the detail to exhume these bodies and have them burned. However, there wasn’t time enough to burn all of the 3200 and only 1606 were actually burned and the balance were still buried under a light film of dirt. I know that all of this may seem gruesome to you, it was to me too, and some of you may think that I may have become warped of mind in hatred, well, every single thing that I stated here and to the generals yesterday are carefully recorded in 16 pictures which I took with my camera at the place itself.
Both General George S. Patton and General Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to the Ohrdruf-Nord camp as a “horror camp” in their wartime memoirs. Eisenhower wrote the following in his book, “Crusade in Europe” about April 12, 1945, the day he visited the salt mines that held the Nazi treasures:
The same day, I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.
Eisenhower did not take the time to visit the main camp at Buchenwald, which was in the immediate area and had been discovered by the American army just the day before.
The Ohrdruf camp did not have a crematorium to burn the bodies. Instead, the bodies were at first taken to Buchenwald for burning, but as the death rate climbed, the bodies were buried about a mile from the camp. During the last days before the camp was liberated, bodies were being burned on a pyre made from railroad tracks. The rails were readily available because the underground bunker that was being built by the Ohrdruf prisoners featured a railroad where a whole train could be hidden underground.
In the photo below, the man on the far right wearing a dark jacket is a Dutch survivor of the camp who served as a guide for the American generals on their visit. The second man from the right is Captain Alois Liethen, who is interpreting for General Bradley to his left and General Eisenhower in the center of the photo. The man to the left of General Eisenhower is Benjamin B. Ferencz, who is taking notes. On the far left is one of the survivors of Ohrdruf.
Gen. Eisenhower views burned bodies, April 12, 1945
On the same day that the Generals visited Ohrdruf, a group of citizens from the town of Ohrdruf and a captured German Army officer were being forced to take the tour. Colonel Charles Codman, an aide to General Patton, wrote to his wife about an incident that happened that day. A young soldier had accidentally bumped into the captured German officer and had laughed nervously. “General Eisenhower fixed him with a cold eye,” Codman wrote “and when he spoke, each word was like the drop off an icicle. ‘Still having trouble hating them?’ he said.” General Eisenhower had no trouble hating the Germans, as he would demonstrate when he set up a POW camp in Gotha a few weeks later.
After his visit to the salt mines and the Ohrdruf camp on April 12, 1945, General Eisenhower wrote the following in a cable on April 15th to General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC; this quote is prominently displayed by the U.S. Holocaust Museum:
. . .the most interesting–although horrible–sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to “propaganda.”
Ironically, General Eisenhower’s words about “propaganda,” turned out to be prophetic: only a few years later, Paul Rassinier, who was a French resistance fighter imprisoned at the Buchenwald main camp, wrote the first Holocaust denial book, entitled Debunking the Genocide Myth, in which he refuted the claim by the French government at the 1946 Nuremberg trial that there were gas chambers in Buchenwald.
Note that General Eisenhower referred to Ohrdruf as an “internment camp,” which was what Americans called the camps where Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were held without charges during World War II. Ohrdruf was undoubtedly the first, and only, “internment camp” that General Eisenhower ever saw.
Why was Captain Alois Liethen investigating this small, obscure forced labor camp long before he arrived in Germany? Why did all the US Army generals visit this small camp and no other? Could it be because there was something else of great interest in the Ohrdruf area besides the Führer bunker and the salt mine where Nazi treasures were stored?
The Buchenwald camp had been liberated the day before the visit to the Ohrdruf camp. At Buchenwald, there were shrunken heads, human skin lampshades and ashtrays made from human bones. At Ohrdruf, there was nothing to see except a shed filled with 40 bodies. So why did Captain Alois Liethen take the four generals to Ohrdruf instead of Buchenwald?
What was Captain Liethen referring to when he wrote these words in a letter to his family?
After looking the place over for nearly a whole day I came back and made an oral report to my commanding general — rather I was ordered to do so by my boss, the Col. in my section. Then after I had told him all about the place he got in touch with the High Command and told them about it and the following tale bears out what they did about it.
There has been some speculation that the Germans might have tested an atomic bomb near Ohrdruf. In his book entitled “The SS Brotherhood of the Bell,” author James P. Farrell wrote about “the alleged German test of a small critial mass, high yield atom bomb at or near the Ohrdruf troop parade ground on March 4, 1945.” The “troop parade ground” was at the German Army Base right next to the Ohrdruf labor camp.
Why did General Eisenhower immediately order a propaganda campaign about Nazi atrocities? Was it to distract the media from discovering a far more important story? The first news reel about the Nazi camps called Ohrdruf a “murder mill.”
As part of the agreement signed on April 5, 1945, Tito secured a proviso that the Soviets would leave Yugoslavia once its “operational task” was completed. Ensuring compliance with this clause proved problematic, as Stalin tried to maintain a presence in postwar Yugoslavia, attempting to co-opt the Yugoslav Communist Party and create another puppet state. He failed; Tito played the West against the East in a Machiavellian scheme to keep his own Stalin-like grip on his country. Although he permitted cultural and scientific freedom unheard of in Soviet-bloc countries, he was also guilty of purging centrist and democratic forces fighting for reform within Yugoslavia and centralizing all power in one party. But upon Tito’s death, in 1980, the center could not hold–chaos was ultimately unleashed in the form of ethnic civil war
In Italy… On the west coast, American units from US 5th Army begin to attack north near Massa, south of La Spezia.
On the Western Front… Allied forces cross the Weser River at several points.
In Moscow… Molotov, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, tells the Japanese ambassador that the USSR does not intend to renew the 1941 non-aggression pact.
In Washington… It is announced that General MacArthur will take control of all army forces in the Pacific theater of operations and Admiral Nimitz will command all naval forces in preparation for the invasion of Japan
6.4.1945 cover from GB to ‘British Embassy, Moscow, c/o Foriegn Office (USSR) London’ endorsed ‘By Bag’ and censored – PASSED P.211 h/s.
On the Western Front… Most of US 1st and 9th Armies are heavily engaged around the Ruhr pocket. Among the gains in the Allied advance to the east is Gottingen. Free French paratroops are dropped north of Zuider Zee in Holland.
Over Germany… RAF Mosquito bombers raid Berlin from bases on the continent, for the first time. American bombers strike airfield and railway targets
OAS WOII Wolverhampton UK / GB – Tilburg 1945 Fieldpost
ON ACTIVE SERVICE WOLVERHAMPTON – TILBURG 8.4.1945
Veldpost – FIELDPOST OFFICE 617
On the Eastern Front… In East Prussia, the Soviet 3rd Belorussian Front begins its final attacks on Konigsberg after several days of preparatory bombardment and air attacks. To the south, forces of the 3rd Ukrainian Front enter the suburbs of Vienna. Yugoslavian forces capture Sarajevo.
On the Western Front… American forces enter Hamm.
On the Eastern Front… In Austria, the Soviet forces push on west of Vienna despite German counterattacks. There is heavy fighting in the Austrian capital. In East Prussia, the Soviet attacks on Konigsberg begin to break through the defenses.
On the Western Front… On the southern flank, troops of the French 1st Army take Pforzheim as they continue their drive to the southeast. To the immediate north, US 7th Army units capture Schweinfurt. Other Allied armies farther north also advance.
On the Eastern Front… The surviving German defenders of the Konigsberg fortress surrender to the Red Army forces. Some of the German troops in East Prussia continue to resist in the Samland Peninsula.
On the Western Front… In the attacks against the Ruhr pocket, US 9th Army units penetrate into Essen and reach the famous Krupp factories. Other British and American units, including some more from US 9th Army, are advancing near the Leine River to the east.
In Italy… The Allied spring offensive begins with attacks by British 8th Army (General McCreery). Initially, the Polish 2nd Corps advances along Route 9 toward Imola supported by British 5th and 10th Corps the right and left flanks. The objectives of the offensive include Ferrara and Bologna while the US 5th Army, which is scheduled to begin operations on April 14th, is to strike at Bologna and past Modena to the Po River.
In Liberated Italy… A Liberty ship loaded with aircraft bombs blows up in Bari harbor killing 360 and injuring 1730.
Over Germany… In a British RAF attack on German navy ships in Kiel, during the night, the Admiral Scheer capsizes, while the Admiral Hipper and Emden are damaged beyond repair. During the day, the US 8th Air Force targets jet fighter bases in the area of Munich.
In Germany… Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Admiral Canaris (former chief of the Abwehr) and Major General Oster are hanged at the Flossenburg Concentration Camp.
: Battle of Königsberg ends in Soviet victory.
9: A heavy bombing at Kiel by the RAF destroys the last two major German warships.
9: Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is executed at Flossenburg prison.
: Buchenwald concentration camp liberated by American forces.
On the Western Front… Forces of Canadian 1st Army pressure German positions in Holland and begin operations to cross the Ijssel River. British 2nd Army is advancing toward Bremen. Hanover falls to the US 13th Corps (part of US 9th Army). US 3rd Army advances toward Erfurt and US 7th Army advances toward Nuremberg.
Over Britain… The last German sortie over British territory during the war is conducted by a Luftwaffe Ar234 reconnaissance jet.
Ar-234 taking off
On this day in 1945,
the American Third Army liberates the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany, a camp that will be judged second only to Auschwitz in the horrors it imposed on its prisoners.
As American forces closed in on the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Gestapo headquarters at Weimar telephoned the camp administration to announce that it was sending explosives to blow up any evidence of the camp–including its inmates.
What the Gestapo did not know was that the camp administrators had already fled in fear of the Allies. A prisoner answered the phone and informed headquarters that explosives would not be needed, as the camp had already been blown up, which, of course, was not true.
The camp held thousands of prisoners, mostly slave laborers. There were no gas chambers, but hundreds, sometimes thousands, died monthly from disease, malnutrition, beatings, and executions. Doctors performed medical experiments on inmates, testing the effects of viral infections and vaccines.
Among the camp’s most gruesome characters was Ilse Koch, wife of the camp commandant, who was infamous for her sadism. She often beat prisoners with a riding crop, and collected lampshades, book covers, and gloves made from the skin of camp victims.
Among those saved by the Americans was Elie Wiesel, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986
On the Eastern Front… In Vienna, Soviet troops of the 3rd Ukrainian Front have reached the Danube Canal near the city center.
On the Western Front… Forces of the British 2nd Army cross the Leine River near Celle. Leading armored units of the US 9th Army reach the Elbe River, south of Magdeburg. Forces of US 3rd Army capture Weimar. Other elements capture the Mittlewerke underground V2 factory at Nordhausen.
In Italy… Carrara is captured by the US 92nd Infantry Division (an element of US 5th Army) in its advance from Massa. In the east, forces of British 8th Army have now pushed the leading units over the Senio River to the Santerno River, where bridging operations begin.
: Spain breaks diplomatic relations with Japan.
: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies suddenly. Harry S. Truman becomes president of the United States.
In the United States… President Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at Warm Springs in Georgia. Vice-President Truman becomes President. Truman has so far had limited involvement in the work of the Roosevelt administration (he was a surprising choice as running mate in 1944) and among the subjects on which he receives his first briefing in the next few days in the atomic weapons project.
On the Western Front… US 9th Army forces cross the Elbe River near Magdeburg, while in the rear of their advance, Brunswick falls. Troops of the US 3rd Army take Erfurt. In the south, French units take Baden Baden. To the rear, the Ruhr pocket has been further reduced by the capture of Essen by American attacks.
In Italy… British 8th Army has three separate bridgeheads over the Santerno. On the right of the attack, British 5th Corps is advancing along the north bank of the Reno.
On this day in 1945, Adolf Hitler proclaims from his underground bunker that deliverance was at hand from encroaching Russian troops–Berlin would remain German. A “mighty artillery is waiting to greet the enemy,” proclaims Der Fuhrer. This as Germans loyal to the Nazi creed continue the mass slaughter of Jews.
As Hitler attempted to inflate his troops’ morale, German soldiers, Hitler Youth, and local police chased 5,000 to 6,000 Jewish prisoners into a large barn, setting it on fire, in hopes of concealing the evidence of their monstrous war crimes as the end of the Reich quickly became a reality. As the Jewish victims attempted to burrow their way out of the blazing barn, Germans surrounding the conflagration shot them. “Several thousand people were burned alive,” reported one survivor. The tragic irony is that President Roosevelt, had he lived, intended to give an address at the annual Jefferson Day dinner in Washington, D.C., on that very day, proclaiming his desire for “an end
On the Eastern Front… Vienna falls to Soviet troops of 3rd Ukrainian Front after heavy fighting.
On the Western Front… The Nazi concentration camps at Belsen and Buchenwald are liberated by British and American forces respectively. Jena is captured by US 3rd Army units. To the south, US 7th Army forces take Bamberg.
In Italy… New Zealander troops capture Massa Lombarda, southwest of Lake Comacchio.
: Vienna Offensive ends with Soviet victory.
April 14 1945…
The Allied forces conduct Operation Teardrop last and largest hunter-killer operation against U-boats in the North Atlantic in World War II.
Two carrier task groups carry out an extensive search for Seewolf U-boats suspected of transporting V2 rockets to be launched against New York city.
USS Hubbard (DE 211/APD 53)
As part of Operation Teardrop, she took part in the destruction of the last desperate U-boat group to sortie, with escort carriers Bogue (CVE-9), Core (CVE-13), and many sister ships. Frederick C. Davis (DE-136) was torpedoed and sunk suddenly 24 April, and Hubbard joined in hunting the attacker. After many depth charge attacks, four by Hubbard alone, U-546 surfaced. The destroyer escorts’ guns blazed away and the submarine quickly sank.
In Italy… US 5th Army joins British 8th Army in mounting the spring offensive operations. There are attacks on either side of the roads to Bologna from Florence and Pistoia. Vergato is captured.
On the Western Front… The US 3rd Army captures Bayreuth.
In the North Atlantic…Allied forces conduct Operation Teardrop. Two carrier task groups carry out an extensive search for Seewolf U-boats suspected of transporting V2 rockets to be launched against New York city.
In Germany… Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler orders that no prisoners at Dachau “shall be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy alive.”
On the Western Front… In Holland, troops of Canadian 1st Army complete the capture of Arnhem and attack toward Gronigen. Units of the US 9th Army, which have crossed the Elbe River near Magdeburg, are forced to retreat. The US 1st Army takes Leuna. Meanwhile, Operation Venerable is launched against the German garrison in the fortress of Royan, at the mouth of the Gironde River; heavy napalm bomb attacks by the US 8th Air Force and shelling by the Free French battleship Lorraine are followed by an attack by Free French and American forces.
In Italy… Both US 5th and British 8th Armies continue their attacks. Elements of the Polish 2nd Corps (part of British 8th Army) has reached the Sillario River after crossing the Santero River.
On the Eastern Front… Soviet forces begin a final offensive against the German held positions in the Samland Peninsula.
15: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is liberated by the British Army.
: The Battle of the Seelow Heights and the Battle of the Oder-Neisse begin as the Soviets continue to advance towards the city of Berlin.
On the Eastern Front… The Red Army launches the final offensive on Berlin. The 1st Belorussian Front (Marshal Zhukov), to the east, and 1st Ukraine Front (Marshal Konev), to the southeast, lead the assault with support from 2nd Belorussian Front (Marshal Rokossovsky) in the north. Stalin is nominally in command of the operation and at this time it is not clear whether the armies commanded by Zhukov, or those commanded by Konev, are to make the final assault on the city. The two Soviet Fronts comprise over 2,000,000 men with more than 6000 tanks and self-propelled guns, about 6000 aircraft and almost 16,000 artillery tubes. The German troops defending the line are organized into Army Group Vistula (General Heinrici), facing 1st and 2nd Belorussian Fronts, and Army Group Center (Field Marshal Schorner), facing 1st Ukrainian Front. There are about 1,000,000 German troops deployed in fairly strong and well-prepared positions overlooking the west bank of the Oder River and Neisse River, however, they lack significant stocks of armor, artillery and aircraft. After the massive artillery preparation, the attacks of 1st Belorussian Front begin from the Soviet bridgehead already taken west of the Oder, near Kustrin. By a well-timed short withdrawal the forces of the German Army Group Vistula have avoided the worst effects of this Soviet bombardment, but they have insufficient strength to do more than hold the Soviet attack temporarily. The attack of 1st Ukrainian Front begins a little later over the Neisse, north and south of Triebel.
On the Western Front… US 7th Army units reach the outskirts of Nuremberg. The special prisoner of war camp at Colditz is liberated by other Allied units during the day.
The Final Battles of the Luftwaffe were being fought in the Air.
<span>During March many of the Air Units were moved to Norway.</span>
<span>Bf 109 G-14/AS from 14./JG 5. Kjevik 1945 </span>
Aircraft from Denmark and North Germany moved to Norway in March 1945.
<span>Fw 190 D9 Werk. no. 210972 at Lister</span>
Luftwaffe aircrafts left in Norway 10.8.45
<span>Arado 234 at Sola in 1945</span>
Luftwaffe units in Norway, May 10th 1945.
<span>Junker Ju 88 G-6 from NJS Norwegen, B4+SA, Norway 1945</span>
NightFighters in Norway
Luftwaffe Losses in Norway 1945.
<span>B-17’s in Kampfgeschwader 200</span>
All B-17 (excluding “Miss Nonalee II”) were transfered to KG 200 – special Luftwaffe unit. Germans had not enogh planes with that range as B-17s.
Planes had applied German national insignia, code letters (beginning from A3 – letters of KG 200) and special night camouflage. Germans added some equipment: barometrical altimeter ASI and radioaltimeter FuG 101. B-17s served in KG 200 in two Staffel, 1.Staffel was combat when 4.Staffel was training one. Planes based on Finsterwalde airfield.
German pilots were happy, because Fortress was formidable plane. They flew everywhere: Soviet Union, Poland, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Netherland, Ireland and even Palestine and Africa!
<span>Wulf Hound was eventually transferred to KG 200 in September 1943. (Petrik).</span>
All planes were top secret and target was known only for pilot and navigator.
Service in KG 200 was very dangerous – first planes were lost 15th of May and 27th of June 1944 during combat missions. Next plane was heavily damaged 19th of November 1944.
B-17 “Down and Go!” was destroyed during mission in Spanish-French border area. Plane piloted by pilots Knappenscheider and von Pechmann with 10 French collaborators took of in 9th February 1945. Shortly after took off plane exploded (about one hundred meters above airstripe) and all aboard were killed.
<span>Wulf Hound found itself to be the center of attention where ever it went. (Heinz J. Nowarra).</span>
Last plane lost during war took place 2nd of March 1945. Plane took off 11.08 p.m. from airfield Stuttgart-Euchterdingen with 8 members of crew, 9 agents and 3 containers with equipment. When plane come back to home base was shot down by British night fighting Mosquito. Part crew jumped with parachute.
Since September 1944 B-17 of KG 200 started from Finnow airfield. During following months planes made several dozen sorties over Soviet Union and Poland area.
One of most dangerous flights was 20th of December 1944 when plane which took off from airfield in Cracow (Poland) with 6 agents on board had to flew in Odessa area. Just before jump one of Soviet agents throwed hand grenade. One of gunners had incredible reflex and jettisioned primed grenade.
When next time crews had to carry Soviet agents, they bowsed Russians and jettisioned them over targed unconscious.
<span>Wulf Hound, the first B-17F captured intact by the Luftwaffe. (Petrik). </span>
To the end of the war planes started from Hildesheim, Wackersleben and FÃ¼rstenfelsbruck airfields. Last combat mission took place in 2nd of May 1945. All survived planes were probably destroyed by their crews or captured by Soviets.
<span>Me 163B airfields</span>
<span>The map shows all airfields on which Komet operated (note 1990 borders). The main operating bases are shown as large green dots, while the secondary operating locations are shown as smaller green dots. Large cities are shown in red. Of note is the distance between Stuttgart-BÃÂ¶bblingen and Jesau, the main manufacturing site and the production test flying locations respectively. From Jesau the aircraft were delivered to operational units.</span>
Aerial view, clearly showing two of the three original runways overgrown with trees. The gliding airstrip can be seen north of the east-west runway (slighty right of the middle in the picture). On the south side (just left of the middle) a golf course can be seen.
<span>A view of the gliding airstrip. </span>
<span>The remains of a storage facility at Bad Zwischenahn, nicely hidden in bushes and trees</span>
<span>The interior of the storage facility, which is suprisingly intact.</span>
<span>Shown is a wartime RAF/USAF map of Bad Zwischenahn, home to EK16 until August 1944. The date of the map is unknown. Source: ‘Fliegerhorste und EinsatzhÃÂ¤fen der Luftwaffe’ by Karl Ries and Wolfgang Dierlich, Motorbuch Verlag</span>
<span>Graf & Grislawski: Airfields of Last Combat Missions</span>
<span>The Last Missions for the 4th Fighter Group.</span>
THE BIGGEST DAY OF THE WAR
April 16, 1945 – The Group was ordered on a strafing mission to Prague, Czechoslovakia. They found three fields crammed with aircraft that had been pulled back from the front as they neared Prague. The Mustangs made run after run in the midst of heavy flak and destroyed 61 for the loss of eight. Multiple kills were numerous. The top was Douglas Pedersen, he destroyed eight. One of those lost was Sidney Woods who would spend the rest of the war (2 weeks) as a POW. Meanwhile, “B” Group, lead by Louis Norley, hit Gablingen Airdrome without a loss. The total for the day was a satisfying 105 destroyed.
LAST COMBAT FATALITY
April 17, 1945 – On a free lance mission to Germany, Czechoslovakia and Austria, Robert Davis’ coolant system was hit by flak and he bailed out. Although he was seen to hit the ground ok, he was killed. This was the last combat fatality of the war for the 4th.
LAST COMBAT MISSION
April 25, 1945 – The Group flew its last combat mission of World War II to Czechoslovakia and Germany. North of Prague William Hoelscher bounced a Me-262 getting several hits before he was hit by flak. His coolant system was punctured and 40mm hits smashed his left wing root and elevator. He bailed out and evaded back. He was the last combat loss for the 4th. Also, at this point the score for the 4th was 1,003. The score for the 56th was 1,008-1/2.
<span>lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita, Pilot of Romanian Airforce.</span>
Born: 14 March 1919, Baicoi
29 November 1943 – February 1944: 1st Fighter Group
February 1944 – 21 April 1945: 2nd Fighter Group
Combat missions: 29
Died: 21 April 1945, KIA Czechoslovakia
During February and March 1945 he was back in Romania, ferrying new aircraft for the group, from Someseni to Lucenec, in Slovakia.
On 21 April 1945, he took off at 9:25 in front of a patrula, which attacked two infantry platoons near the Soha Lova village and then strafed the road nearby.
By 10:20 they were back at the airfield. After two hours he took off again, but this time only with his wingman adj. av. Dumitru Silivan. Their mission was to patrol the road between Soha Lova and Dolny Nemec.
They spotted a column of about 7-8 trucks and attacked, each of them destroying one truck. When they came around for a new pass, adj. av. Silivan did not longer see his leader. Instead he saw a big white spot on the field.
The IAR-81C no. 426 of lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita had been hit by a quad machine-gun mounted on one of the trucks. The locals later found him in the cockpit, with his legs cut and a bullet hole in his forehead.
The white parachute had been spread out and cut into pieces by the German soldiers. That was probably what Silivan saw. He was buried in the Velnov cemetery, together with 33 other Romanian soldiers. He would have been 26 in several days.
In 1988 pieces of his aircraft were donated to the National Military Museum by the Czechs. In his honor, in 1991, the 86th Fighter Group was given the name Locotenent aviator Gheorghe Mociornita.
Lt. av. Gheorghe Mociornita shot down just 3 aircraft, but the point system of ARR brought him 9 victories, thus achieving the ace status. What is notable is that these kills were obtained only in 29 missions. He has also destroyed several trucks and carts on the ground, after the 2nd Fighter Group was relegated to a ground attack role. His less known side was the artist in Gheroghe Mociornita, who had written several poems (see link below) and drew with amazing dexterity.
Note: The author wishes to thank Mrs. Prof. Maria Mociornita for the interesting materials she provided about her brother.
Bibliography: Dan Antoniu, George Cicos: “Vanatorul IAR-80, istoria unui erou necunoscut”, Editura MODELISM, 2000
Grupul 1 VÃ¢nãtoare
On 28 June, the 1st Fighter Group scrambled its 17 IARs and intercepted a bomber formation and attacked it, while trying to avoid the Mustangs. Three B-17s were shot down. Also, adj. av. Zisu Sava claimed a P-51, which remained probable. This is the only case when a IAR-80 pilot claimed a Mustang. The group lost cpt. av. Stefanescu and adj. av. Prasinopol was wounded.
<span>This IAR-80B was later equipped with two Mauser 20 mm cannons and assigned to the 1st Fighter Group in 1944</span>
This was the last battle with USAAF. A part of the 1st Fighter Group’s pilots and airplanes were assigned to the 6th Fighter Group. At the end of July, the group started to train in order to convert to the Bf-109G.
<span>Picture from “Rumanian Air Force, the prime decade 1938-1947″ by DÃ©nes BernÃ¡d, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1999</span>
During the winter of 1944/45 the group was reorganized. It had only two squadrons: the 61st and 64th. It was put under the command of cpt. av. Dan Vizanti, the former commander of the 6th Fighter Group.
This new group was sent to the front in Slovakia in early 1945, where it was suppose to help the exhausted 9th Fighter Group.
The first missions were flown on 20 February. The lack of experience on the Bf-109G among most of the group’s members was obvious and soon they were diverted to air support missions.
Anyway, after 25, Luftwaffe didn’t appear in the area, except for several reconnaissance flights. The only “casualties” suffered by the 1st Fighter Group during this last campaign were two pilots that defected on 26 March to a German air base.
<span>The emblem of the 1st Fighter Group on the cowling of an IAR-80 </span>
After the war, several Romanian pilots reportedly took part in a large Allied-organized air show at Wiener-Neustadt on 1 June 1945.
These airmen were asked to represent the German techniques and equipment, including the Bf-109G6, and provide a comparison to the latest US and Soviet aircraft types.
On the way back to Miskolc, two pilots from the 1st Fighter Group, of. echip. cls. III Ion Milu and lt. av. Dumitru Baciu met several P-51Ds over Hungary and waggled their wings as a recognition sign. The Mustangs waved back when the aircraft passed each other.
A Soviet Il-2 formation, escorted by Yak-3s, came along a few minutes later. The Romanians again waggled their wings, however, the Soviets did not wave back and flew on in the opposite direction.
The last two Yaks suddenly broke formation and jumped on the two “Gustavs”. Milu had enough of the war (five years and 45 confirmed victories) and decided not to engage the aggressors.
So he dived to safety. Lt. av. Baciu apparently managed to shoot down one Soviet and returned home with 16 holes in his aircraft.
This is probably the last victory achieved by a Romanian fighter pilot
On this day in 1945,
U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Boris T. Pash commandeers over half a ton of uranium at Strassfut, Germany, in an effort to prevent the Russians from developing an A-bomb.
Pash was head of the Alsos Group, organized to search for German scientists in the postwar environment in order to prevent the Russians, previously Allies but now a potential threat, from capturing any scientists and putting them to work at their own atomic research plants. Uranium piles were also rich “catches,” as they were necessary to the development of atomic weapons.
On this day in 1942, French General Henri Giraud, who was captured in 1940, escapes from a castle prison at Konigstein by lowering himself down the castle wall and jumping on board a moving train, which takes him to the French border.
Hitler, outraged, ordered Giraud’s assassination upon being caught, but the French general was able to make it to North Africa via a British submarine. He joined the French Free Forces under General Charles de Gaulle and eventually helped to rebuild the French army
1945 cover and letter from GB to ‘Bengal & Assam Railway, 24 Parganas, India’ with circ. Overland Postage Due h/s. and censor h/s. Also d/r. HOME POSTAL CENTRE RE 1 transit p/m. to rear.
On the Eastern Front… The Soviet attacks east of Berlin continue. In the very fierce battles, which have developed, the Germans are fighting with skill and desperation but are slowly being forced to give ground. Meanwhile, in Austria and Czechoslovakia, the Soviet attacks and German losses continue, Zisterdorf and Polten are taken in Austria.
In Italy… Allied offensive operations continue. On the right flank of the British 8th Army attacks, Argenta falls to forces of the British 5th Corps after an amphibious move across Lake Coamchio. North and east of Argenta there are no more rivers before the Po River and the British units are soon passing through what becomes known as the “Argenta Gap.” West of Argenta, the British 13th Corps enters the line between British 5th Corps and the Polish 1st Corps which is moving northwest toward Bologna. US 5th Army attacks continue as well, though with slower progress because of the more difficult terrain south and west of Bologna.
On the Western Front… Germans units in the Ruhr are beginning to surrender on a large scale. There is also fighting near Bremen and Nuremberg.
On the Western Front… The last German forces resisting in the Ruhr Pocket surrender. Field Marshal Model, commanding German Army Group B inside the pocket, commits suicide. About 325,000 German prisoners have been taken in this area by the Allied forces. Meanwhile, the US 9th Army captures Magdeburg and troops of US 3rd Army cross the Czechoslovakian border after a rapid advance.
Over Germany… British RAF bombers strike Heligoland — dropping 5000 tons of bombs.
In Germany… Oberst Steinhoff (176 victories) suffers severe burns when his Me262 crashes near Munich. [He recovers and ultimately become Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe of the Federal Republic of Germany in the postwar era.]
On the Eastern Front… Except in a small area along the axis of advance of 1st Ukrainian Front, the Soviet forces engaged in the battle for Berlin have advanced less than 10 miles toward the city. However, the German defense is being worn down.
In the Ryukyu Islands… American Ernie Pyle, Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent, is killed on Ie Shima at age 45.
A famous war correspondent at the front in April,8th.1945
18: Ernie Pyle, famed war correspondent for the GI’s, is killed by a sniper on Ie Shima, a small island near Okinawa.
: Switzerland closes its borders with Germany (and former Austria).
19: Allies continue their sweep toward the Po Valley.
19: The Soviet advance towards the city of Berlin continues and soon reach the suburbs.
Happy 2nd Lt. William Robertson and Lt. Alexander Sylvashko, Red Army, shown in front of sign “East Meets West” symbolizing the historic meeting of the Red Army and American armies, near Torgau, Germany on Elbe Day.
On the Western Front… The US 1st Army captures Leipzig.
American troops parade in the famous Nazi arena with the Stars and Stripes covering the Nazi swastika after Nuremberg falls to the Allies
On the Western Front… Nuremberg and Stuttgart are taken in the Allied advance. The American flag is raised over the rostrum of the Nuremberg Stadium — scene of Nazi Party rallies. In the Stuttgart area, the French 1st Army is advancing rapidly along the Neckar Valley, trapping German forces in the the Black Forest in Bavaria.
American troops parade in the famous Nazi arena with the Stars and Stripes covering the Nazi swastika after Nuremberg falls to the Allies
On the Eastern Front… In northern Germany, forces of the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front join in the advance from the Oder River line, on a 30-mile frontage southwest of Stettin. To the south, German resistance on the Oder and Neisse river lines has been eliminated. Troops of the 1st Belorussian Front capture Protzel and units of 1st Ukrainian Fronts cross over the Spree River.
20: Hitler celebrates his 56th birthday in the bunker in Berlin; reports are that he is in an unhealthy state, nervous, and depressed.
: Soviet forces under Georgiy Zhukov (1st Belorussian Front), Konstantin Rokossovskiy (2nd Belorussian Front), and Ivan Konev (1st Ukrainian Front) launch assaults on the German forces in and around the city of Berlin as the opening stages of the Battle of Berlin.
21: Hitler ordered SS-General Felix Steiner to attack the 1st Belorussian Front and destroy it. The ragtag units of “Army Detachment Steiner” are not fully manned.
1945 cover from EGYPT to ‘2 NZEF, MEF’ with CAIRO m/c. and d/r. CENSOR h/s. Also d/r. BAPO 4 transit p/m. and s/r. NEW ZEALAND BASE ARMY POST OFFICE p/m. ‘Maadi’ in mss. Ref: 224-041.
On the Eastern Front… Leading elements of the 1st Belorussian Front reach the eastern suburbs of Berlin. Meanwhile, the 1st Ukrainian Front attacks northward from Dresden.
In Moscow… A mutual assistance treaty is concluded between the Soviet government and the Provisional Government of Poland, based on the Lublin Committee. The further recognition bestowed on the communist Poles, at a time when the London based Polish government in exile continues to receive western recognition, becomes an issue in postwar period.
In Italy… Bologna is captured by units of the Polish 2nd Corps (part of British 8th Army). Units of US 2nd Corps (part of US 5th Army) enter the town a few hours later. US 5th Army forces have now cleared the Appenines and advancing rapidly on the Lombard Plain. East of Bologna, British 8th Army is advancing rapidly.
On this day in 1945,
Adolf Hitler, learning from one of his generals that no German defense was offered to the Russian assault at Eberswalde, admits to all in his underground bunker that the war is lost and that suicide is his only recourse
Himmler meets Count Bernadotte of the Swedish Red Cross and gives him a message to pass to the western Allies, offering a German surrender to the British and Americans but not to the Soviets. The message is passed to the Allies on the 24th.
On the Western Front…
US 7th Army units cross the Danube at Dillingen and Baldingen.
. Units of 2nd and 4th US Corps (parts of US 5th Army) reach the Penaro River in their advance to the Po River. On the left flank Modena is taken
1945 (April) ‘MILITARBREV’ cover from SWEDEN to ‘Faltpost 31235′ with BORAS m/c. and redirected to ‘Strombo Idre’. Fp. 31235 – Fortress Engineer Park 520. Location Military District XII, Germany. Swedish Stationary to Swedish Volunteer in German Army. Cat. 400 Euros. Flap missing, folded
22: Hitler is informed late in the day that, with the approval of Gotthard Heinrici, Steiner’s attack was never launched. Instead, Steiner’s forces were authorised to retreat.
22: In response to the news concerning Steiner, Hitler launches a furious tirade against the perceived treachery and incompetence of his military commanders in front of Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Krebs, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Martin Bormann. Hitler’s tirade culminates in an oath to stay in Berlin to head up the defence of the city.
22: Hitler ordered German General Walther Wenck to attack towards Berlin with his Twelfth Army, link up with the Ninth Army of General Theodor Busse, and relieve the city. Wenck launched an attack, but it came to nothing.
: Hermann Göring sends a radiogram to Hitler’s bunker, asking to be declared Hitler’s successor. He proclaims that if he gets no response by 10 PM, he will assume Hitler is incapacitated and assume leadership of the Reich. Furious, Hitler strips him of all his offices and expels him from the Nazi Party.
23: Albert Speer makes one last visit to Hitler, informing him that he ignored the Nero Decree for scorched earth.
SINKING OF U 546
USS Bogue (CVE 9), USS Flaherty DE 135, USS Neunzer DE 150, USS Chatelain DE 149, USS Varian DE 798, USS Hubbard DE 211, USS Janssen DE 396, USS Pillsbury DE 133 and USS Keith DE 241
As the plane flies, St. Johns, Newfoundland, to Fayal in the Azores, the distance is 1,180 miles. On April 23, 1945, in mid-Atlantic about halfway between St. Johns and Fayal, several escort-carriers and a parade of destroyer escorts were strung out in a 100-mile north-south barrier patrol. The CVE-DE flotilla, one of the largest hunter-killer forces yet assembled, formed another segment of the “net” spread to catch the super-Schnorkels swimming across the Atlantic to invade America’s Eastern Sea Frontier.
The anti-submarine (AS) barrier was composed of two CVE task groups – TG 22.3 and TG 22.4 – and a large detachment of DEs. The force was operating under Commander Task Group 22.5 – Captain G. J. Dufek, in Bogue. Senior DE officer was Commander F. S. Hall, Commander Task Unit 22.7.1.
The DEs of Task Unit 22.7.1 included USS Pillsbury DE 133, USS Keith DE 241, USS Otterstetter DE 244, USS Pope DE 134, USS Flaherty DE 135, USS Chatelain DE 149, USS Frederick C. Davis DE 136, USS Neunzer DE 150, USS Hubbard DE 211, USS Varian DE 798, USS Otter DE 210, USS Hayter DE 212, USS Janssen DE 396 and USS Cockrill DE 398.
The ships were tactically disposed so that the DEs of the task unit formed a surface barrier between the Bogue air group to the south and Core (CVE ) air group to the north. Spaced five miles apart, the 14 DEs were ranged across the seascape like a dragnet, the carriers serving as figurative trawlers.
At 1322 in the afternoon of April 23, a search plane sighted a submarine about 70 miles from USS Pillsbury DE 133. Commander Hall formed a scouting line and the DEs steamed for the spot where the enemy had been glimpsed. The sub went down and stayed down. All afternoon the hunters combed the vicinity with their detection gear. All through that evening of the 23rd. Midnight, and they were still searching. Into the early hours of April 24 the relentless hunt went on.
<span>USS Frederick C. Davis DE 136</span>
<span>EDSALL (FMR)-Class Destroyer Escorts as they appeared between 1943 and 1946. These ships are shown carrying three 3-in./50 cal. guns in single MK 22 mounts, one MK 1 40mm twin mount, ten 20mm MK 4 single mounts, one MK 3 21-in. triple torpedo tube mount, one MK 10/11 hedgehog projector, two MK 9 depth charge tracks, eight MK 6 K-gun depth charge projectors.</span>
At 0829 Frederick C. Davis DE 136 made contact with U-546 and was proceeding to attack when, at 0840, the submarine fired a stern shot which tore the DE apart and sent her down with heavy loss of life. She was the second and last American DE to go down to enemy torpedo-fire in the Battle of the Atlantic.
The U-boat skipper who fired at the Frederick C. Davis DE 136 must have known he was courting suicide. For eight destroyer escorts from the scouting line immediately closed around the u-boat like a noose: Pillsbury, Flaherty, Neunzer, Chatelain, Varian, Hubbard, Janssen and Keith.
The submarine hunt conducted by this killer group stands as exemplary of the AS tactics employer by hunter-killers at that stage of the war.
Neunzer DE 150 and Hayter DE 212 conducted a search while Pillsbury DE 133 circled the area and Flaherty DE135 picked up survivors. Flaherty made contact in less than an hour and with Pillsbury proceeded to attack. Neunzer and Hayter took over rescue operations.
0950-1020: Flaherty and Pillsbury made hedgehog attacks. 1023: Directed by Pillsbury, Flaherty fired a magnetic-set pattern of Mark 8 charges in creeping attack. Depth-charge explosions were heard.
Five minutes later, Pillsbury lost contact with the sub. Six minutes later contact was regained – range 900 yards – but this contact would last only 16 minutes. The sub appeared to be very deep, estimated about 600 feet. It was evident the U-boat was operating at the deepest level endurable and maneuvering radically at varying speeds from practically zero to 5 knots.
1056: Pillsbury and Flaherty commenced “Operation Observant”
1059: ComCortDiv 62 ordered to form a search line, composed of all ships not engaged in attacks or rescue operations, to ready for search sweeps.
1133: Hubbard ordered to bring search line forward through target area.
1150: Pillsbury joined line as a guide
1152: Otterstetter ordered to join Hayter and Otter in rescue work.
1201: Flaherty obtained contact on U-boat.
1202: Flaherty reported her sound gear out and that contact should be ahead of DE Varian, range about 1,000 yards.
1205: Varian obtained contact.
1211: Janssen was ordered to attack, Varian assisting.
1228: Janssen delivered depth-charge attack.
1233: Hubbard was ordered to join Janssen; Varian to assist and coach creeping attack.
With Varian directing maneuvers, Hubbard and Janssen steamed into attack position. The U-boat was deep, but the two DEs were determined to dig it out whatever the level. Down went the depth-charges, a creeping attack that was launched at 1250.
1254: Varian reported a large air bubble.
1255: Neunzer was ordered to the scene of contact.
1259: Hubbard reported indications that U-boat was at depth of 600 feet.
1314: Another creeping attack delivered.
1320: Janssen relieved by Flaherty at scene of contact.
1341: Creeping attack delivered.
1346: Chatelain ordered to scene of attack.
1418: ComtCortDiv 62, in Otter, and Hayter left scene of Davis torpedoing to deliver survivors to escort carriers Core and Bogue. Otterstetter remained on scene of torpedoing to continue search for any remaining survivors.
1515: Varian reported depth indication that U-boat was at depth of 580 feet
1516: Another depth-charge attack delivered.
1545: Cockrill ordered to scene of contact.
1549: Creeping attack delivered by Neunzer, Varian and Hubbard with Chatelain as directing ship.
1556: By means of depth-finding equipment, submarine located at 420-foot level. Contact lost shortly thereafter.
At 1637 Chatelain and Neunzer were ordered to return to the line. During the previous attacks, the line had been held in readiness to make a sweep forward if contact was lost. At 1649 all ships were ordered back into line and the echo-ranging sweep was expanded.
1650: Cockrill obtained contact
1705: Having lost contact, Cockrill suggested that line make sweep through area.
1723: Line started forward through area, Pillsbury as guide.
1731: Varian reported contact.
1734: Keith reported contact.
1737: Pillsbury ordered to scene of contact to assist.
1743: Flaherty ordered to assist.
1747: By means of depth-finding equipment, Keith reported indications that U-boat was at depth of 220 feet. TU Commander ordered attack to be switched to hedgehog, in view of decreased depth.
1810: Flaherty delivered hedgehog attack. Pillsbury noted underwater explosion on sound gear.
1814: Small oil slick reported near scene of last attack.
1824: Flaherty reported bubbles coming up.
1828: Flaherty delivered hedgehog attack.
1838: U-boat surfaced.
From 9:50 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening – under fire for 10 1/2 hours – the sweating Germans had had enough of it. Moreover, the U-boat had been damaged by depth charge and hedgehog.
As the U-boat’s conning tower broke water, all ships that had a clear range opened fire. Frantic submariners fought their way out of the hatches. Under a storm of hits the sub plunged and rolled. At 1844, her bridge knocked all acockbill, the U-546 went under with her Schnorkel throat severed.
The killer of the Frederick C. Davis has been executed. Thirty-three U-boaters, including the Commanding Officer, Herr Kapitan Leutnant Paul Just, were taken prisoner.
<span>A survivor of Frederick C. Davis DE 136 is being transferred</span>
Laid down 6 Aug, 1942 Deutsche Werft AG, Hamburg
Commissioned 2 Jun, 1943 Oblt. Paul Just
Commanders 2 Jun, 1943 – 24 Apr, 1945 Kptlt. Paul Just
<span>PAUL JUST began his career in the Wehrmacht as a flier, but when Hermann GÃÂ¶ring took total command of everything that flew, JUST, like so many others, was transferred to duty with the U-Boats. As Skipper of U-546, he had several patrols but sank only one ship – the 1,200 ton American destroyer escort USS FREDERICK C. DAVIS. </span>
Career 3 patrols 2 Jun, 1943 – 31 Dec, 1943 4. Flottille (training)
1 Jan, 1944 – 9 Nov, 1944 10. Flottille (front boat)
10 Nov, 1944 – 24 Apr, 1945 33. Flottille (front boat)
Successes 1 warship sunk for a total of 1.200 tons
In Italy… Advance units of both US 5th and British 8th Armies reach the Po River. US 5th Army units manage to cross the river south of Mantua.
On the Eastern Front… Both Soviet 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts continue to advance toward Berlin. In the rear of these advances, Frankfurt (on Oder) and Cottbus are captured by Soviet troops.
In Berlin… Hitler receives a message from Goring, offering to take over the leadership of the country should Hitler be unable to continue with that task while besieged in Berlin. Hitler is infuriated and orders Goring arrested.
124.4.945 (Apr) “Commercial” cover from GREECE to GB with d/r. ATHENS p/m. and bi-lingual OBE No. 1548 label tied by d/r. CENSOR h/s. Folded.
On the Eastern Front… In the battle for Berlin, Soviet troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front (Konev) penetrate into the suburbs of Berlin from the south while the forces of the 1st Belorussian Front (Zhukov) continue attacking into the city from the east. Other Soviet units of the two fronts are moving around the city to the north and south to complete the encirclement of the city. Large parts of the German 9th Army and 4th Panzer Army, both part of German Army Group Vistula (Heinrici) are cut off to the east of Berlin as a result of the northwest advance of the Soviet 1st Ukrainian Front.
Red Army troops penetrate Berlin from the South
On the Western Front… The British 2nd Army launches attacks near Bremen. Dessau on the Elbe River is taken by US 1st Army. To the south, on the Danube River, Ulm is captured and in the Black Forest area the French 1st Army continues its advance.
In Italy… Units of both US 5th Army and British 8th Army begin to cross the Po River at several points near Ferrara and to the west. Ferrara is captured. On the west coast, La Spezia falls to the US 92nd Division. German forces are incapable of stopping the Allied advance.
: Meanwhile, Himmler, ignoring the orders of Hitler, makes a secret surrender offer to the Allies, (led by Count Folke Bernadotte, head of the Red Cross) provided that the Red Army is not involved. The offer is rejected; when Hitler hears of Himmler’s betrayal, he orders him shot.
24: Forces of the 1st Belorussian Front and the 1st Ukrainian Front link up in the initial encirclement of Berlin.
24: Allies encircle last German armies near Bologna, and the Italian war in effect comes to an end.
: Elbe Day: First contact between Soviet and American troops at the river Elbe, near Torgau in Germany.
Russian sniper 0f the 1st parachute tank division in April,25th.1945
On the Western Front… Elements of US 1st Army link up with the Soviet forces at Torgau on the Elbe River. US 3rd Army crosses the Danube near Regensburg and assault the city.
<span>American and Soviet troops shake hands on a Bailey Bridge over the Elbe River.</span>
On the Eastern Front… Soviet forces complete the encirclement of Berlin near Ketzin. The 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian froms continue to attack, from the east and south, into the city. South of the capital, elements of 1st Ukrainian Front advancing toward the Elbe River, link up with American units at Torgau. Meanwhile, in East Prussia, Pillau is taken. (Since early in the year, about 140,000 wounded and 40,000 refugees have been evacuated to the west from Pillau.) A few German troops continue to hold out at the tip of the Samland Peninsula.
Over Germany… British RAF bombers attack Berchtesgaden and coastal batteries at Wangerrooge (in the Frisian Islands).
Over Occupied Czechoslovakia… American planes strike Pilsen, nominally the Skoda Works.
In Italy… Mantua, Parma and Verona are among the towns liberated by the Allies as German resistance begins to collapse and significant numbers of German troops surrender.
In Occupied Italy… In addition to the extensive partisan operations, there are uprisings in Milan and Genoa.
In San Francisco… An international conference begins to draw up the constitution of a United Nations Organization
: Hitler summons Field Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim from Munich to Berlin to take over command of the Luftwaffe from Göring. While flying into Berlin, von Greim is seriously wounded by Soviet anti-aircraft fire.
: The encirclement of German forces in Berlin is completed by the 1st Belorussian Front and the 1st Ukrainian Front.
Kwitantie Neth. Redd Cross Society 1945 – Food Parcel
Kwitantie : Parcel to Holland 27.4.1945
On the Eastern Front… In Berlin, the Soviet forces have captured the Templehof airfield and are making progress in Spandau, Grunewald and other areas. To the north of the capital, troops of 2nd Belorussian Front begin to advance rapidly, taking Prenzlau and Angermunde.
German troop carrier destroyed in Berlin
In Germany… The western Allies reply to the peace proposals Himmler offered earlier in the month with a total refusal and a reminder of the established demand for unconditional surrender.
In Italy… Forces of US 5th Army liberate Genoa, which is already substantially controlled by Italian partisan forces.
In Occupied Italy… Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, as well as other Fascist leaders are caught by partisans near Lake Como as they attempt to escape to Switzerland. They are shot and their bodies transported to Milan and hung up by the heels in the main square, where a mob then mutilates the corpses.
Moments after their deaths at the hands of Italian partisans, Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci.
On the Eastern Front… The battle of Berlin continues with Soviet troops having now penetrated to within a mile of Hitler’s bunker from the east and the south. Most of the Potsdamer Strasse has been cleared by troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front.
On the Western Front… The US 7th Army captures Augsburg in its advance south toward Austria. Other Allied units are crossing the Elbe River in the north and others are advancing on Munich in the south.
In the Atlantic… Convoy ONS-5 is attacked by 51 U-boats over the course of a following week (April 28-May6th). It loses 13 ships (out of 42) but 7 U-boats are sunk, 5 are seriously damaged and 12 are slightly damaged. This is considered a successful rate of exchange for the Allied convoys
: Head of State for the Italian Social Republic, Benito Mussolini, heavily disguised, is captured in northern Italy while trying to escape.
Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, are shot and hanged in Milan this day. Other members of his puppet government are also executed by Italian partisans and their bodies put on display in Milan.
On April 28 1945,
the Piazzale Loreto in Milan,
Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were shot and hanged in a spectacle that was photographed repeatedly.
His last words were, “Shoot me in the chest!”
Look the situation at the piazza lorreto
: Dachau concentration camp is liberated by the U.S. 7th Army. All forces in Italy officially surrender and a ceasefire is declared.
29: Allied air forces commence Operations Manna and Chowhound, providing food aid to the Netherlands under a truce made with occupying German forces.
: Hitler marries his companion Eva Braun.
Look other Eva braun profile
Adolf Hitler’s romances followed an intriguing pattern- they carried a similar demonic streak in them that characterized his politics.
All three known women to enter his life attempted suicide, which in turn cast serious aspersions over his psychological and sexual traits.
However, if there is one relationship of Hitler’s that still evinces interest, it is that with Eva Braun, 23 years younger than him.
Braun was Hitler’s mistress for 12 years and wife for 40 hours.
Braun met Hitler in Munich when she was 17.
She was working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him more often two years later.
Much of Eva Braun’s viewpoint on their romance and her life with Hitler comes across on the site evabraun.dk
According to the site, in 1931, Eva wrote a letter to Hitler:
“Dear Mr. Hitler, I would like to thank you for the pleasant evening at the theater. It was unforgettable… I count the hours until the moment when we shall meet again..”
Braun soon agreed to follow Hitler to his mountain retreat in the Alps. Their attraction was immediate, and over the objection of her lower-middle-class Bavarian parents, she became his mistress.”
Their relationship, post that is of the kind that would re-define the word ‘enigma’. Hitler wouldn’t publicly embrace her, nor privately disown her. He provided her an opulent life, replete with all material comforts, yet deprived her of the one thing she treasured most-his company. According to Hitler’s chauffeur Erich Kempka, Braun spent most of her time waiting for Hitler.
Hitler kept Braun away from the public eye. His high-handedness towards her is said to have made his staff refer to Braun as “the girl in a gilded cage”. Braun, for her part, only became rebellious- keeping up habits which Hitler detested, such as smoking and nude sunbathing.
In a tender moment though, Hitler is said to have confided his feelings for Braun in his personal valet, Heinz Linge, “Braun is too young to be the wife of one in my position. But she is the only girl for me. So we live as we do…”
So, did Hitler love Eva Braun?
Well, so it seems. Hitler’s definition of love, though, was significantly different from the way the world perceived it. It carried an element of perversity. Apparently, he believed in ‘controlling’ the lover, without in turn living up to his part of the involvement. This behavior surprisingly brings out insecurity in as much as it does vanity.
And did Eva Braun love Hitler?
Yes. What must have started off as an infatuation eventually stood the test of time, despite abuse of various kinds. It is believed that Hitler wanted her to be with him in death, just as she had stood by him for so many years in life. Braun fulfilled his wish as she always had. On 30th April, 1945, Hitler and Braun committed suicide just when they were on the verge of being captured by the Soviet troops. The world discovered after their deaths that Hitler and Braun were man and wife. Hitler’s acquiescence to marry Braun- something she always wanted, barely 40 hours before their death, was his compensation/redemption for all that Braun had borne for him.
Had it not been for unconditional love, Braun would probably have realized the futility of craving for the moment of glory that simply wasn’t. Hitler’s narcissism did not spare his idea of love.
The article was first published in The Times of India
A New Look at Hitler’s Mistress Eva Braun
The field research on the details of the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun began while the dictator was still alive.
The “Führer” was a late sleeper. In the late morning, after he had left his bedroom, with its connecting door to Braun’s quarters, and the staff had removed the bed linens, the curious employees would scrutinize the sheets and pillowcases, searching for clues to what had happened there in the previous night.
“We snooped around in the beds,” Herbert Döhring, the manager of the Berghof, Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps, confessed to a television team decades later. But they found nothing, leading Döhring,
a member of the Waffen-SS, to conclude that the relationship between the dictator and Braun, 23 years his junior, must have been platonic.
In the Third Reich, Döhring was one of only a small group of people who knew about Braun’s close relationship with Hitler. It wasn’t until after the war that the public learned that the dictator had spent many years in the company of an attractive blonde from Munich, who he married hours before the couple committed suicide, on April 30, 1945, in the Führer’s bunker in Berlin.
Their secretiveness was based on political calculation. “Many women find me appealing because I am unmarried,” Hitler believed. “It’s the same thing with a film actor: When he marries, he loses a certain something among the women who worship him, and they no longer idolize him quite as much anymore.”
Correcting the Image of Braun
Because of the relatively clandestine nature of their relationship, after the war the public was all the more intrigued about the daughter of a Munich vocational school teacher who had spent about a decade and a half at his side — mostly at the Berghof in Obersalzberg in the German Alps, and occasionally in Berlin. But the initial answers did little to satisfy that curiosity. For decades she has been seen as a decorative companion to Adolf Hitler, an apolitical “dumb blonde” whose attentions served as an occasional diversion for the Führer.
But is it true?
Berlin historian Heike Görtemaker has now taken on the task of correcting this image of Braun, by writing the first scholarly biography of Braun, Eva Braun: Leben mit Hitler, claiming historians have hugely underestimated the role she played in his life.
She reveals her as a politically committed woman who won Hitler’s affections, enjoyed a healthy sex life with him, sympathised with Nazi politics and gave him psychological support. Görtemaker spent three years researching her book, Eva Braun: Life With Hitler, due out this month from the prestigious CH Beck publishing house. She was able to draw on previously unseen or little-known documents, letters, diary entries and photographs.
Eva Braun features in films, plays, novels and historical memoirs,but is always portrayed as the dumb blonde who had the misfortune to fall in love with a devil, and this is an image that needs to be corrected. She was capricious, an uncompromising advocate of unconditional loyalty towards the dictator who went so far as to die with him, and he adored her.
According to Görtemaker’s account, Braun was fully aware of the twists and turns of Nazi policy-making and made no attempt to speak out against the Holocaust.
She was in the loop and knew what was going on. She was no mere bystander.
By taking a strictly academic approach, Görtemaker manages to dispense with many of the anecdotes that have amused and occasionally titillated readers. According to one of these stories, Braun allegedly complained, in the Führer bunker, about her constant arguments with Adolf about meals. Hitler, an adamant vegetarian, allegedly demanded that she eat only gruel and mushroom dip, which she found disgusting (“I can’t eat this stuff”).
According to another story, told by one of the dictator’s secretaries, Braun would secretly kick Hitler’s German shepherd Blondi, supposedly because she was jealous of the dog. She is said to have gloated over Blondi’s howls after abusing the dog (“Adolf is surprised at the animal’s strange behavior. That’s my revenge.”).
Görtemaker blames British historians for shaping the image of Braun, claiming that writers such as Ian Kershaw and Hugh Trevor-Roper, and German historians such as Sebastian Haffner, judged her insignificant and her relationship with Hitler to be banal. She claims that the late Lord Dacre (Trevor-Roper) did most to influence the traditional perception. A wartime intelligence officer who carried out an official investigation into Hitler’s final days and conducted numerous interviews with his entourage after the war, he dismissed Braun in a single word as “uninteresting”.
Trevor-Roper took his cue from Albert Speer [Hitler’s armaments minister], whom he interviewed at length,, Speer said, ‘for all writers of history, Eva Braun is going to be a disappointment’, and claimed that women had no significant role to play in the Nazi party. It was said of all the women, from the wives to the secretaries. Speer was trying to protect his wife. There was a strong movement to protect women in general, and so it became to be generally accepted that women had little role to play in the politics of the Third Reich.
The lack of primary sources about Braun, and the dominant memoir literature, especially the popular autobiography by Speer, made it easy to view her as a disappointment of history because she didn’t take part in the decision making leading up to the crimes committed by the Nazis.
The Nazi women said after the war that they had nothing to do with politics at all. Even Ilse Hess, who was an early campaigner for the National Socialists and a member of the party since 1921, said after the war that she had nothing to do with politics—and as a woman had always been passive. But that was not true—and not true for Eva Braun.
‘The History of that Sofa’
Görtemaker puts as little stock in such “tabloid” stories told by the people in Hitler’s immediate surroundings as she does in Döhring’s bed-linen analysis. Instead, the historian assumes that the couple had a normal, intimate relationship, as Braun’s friends and relatives would later report. According to those accounts, when Braun saw a photo depicting British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sitting on the sofa in Hitler’s Munich apartment in 1938, she giggled and said: “If he only knew the history of that sofa!”
“It just didn’t fit into the picture people had of him. Many women in particular didn’t like it, asking how could anyone be good enough for Hitler,” said Görtemaker.
The historian takes the character at the center of her book seriously, and in the material she has analyzed, there is credible evidence that Braun was more to Hitler than an “attractive young thing” in whom the dictator “found, despite or perhaps because of her unassuming and insipid appearance, the sort of relaxation and calm he was seeking,” as Hitler’s personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann later claimed.
In his will, which Hitler drew up in 1938, Braun’s name appeared immediately after that of the Nazi Party. Under the provisions of the will, the party was to pay her a substantial, lifelong pension, to be drawn from his assets. Propaganda minister and Hitler confidant Josef Göbbels noted several times how much the dictator appreciated his mistress (“A clever girl, who means a lot to the Führer”).
She was involved in the plans for the conversion of the Austrian city of Linz into the Führer’s cultural capital, where Hitler, a native of Austria, planned to retire after the Nazi’s final victory. And if he had had his way, Braun would also have survived the demise of the German Reich. He repeatedly asked her to leave Berlin in the final days of the war and fly to Bavaria. But Braun refused. Until the very end, Hitler spoke of her “with great respect and inner devotion,” Albert Speer, Hitler’s crown prince, said in his first statements to the Allies in 1945.
Devoid of Friends?
The notion that Braun meant something to the dictator is not as banal as it may seem at first glance. The perception of her as an inconsequential accoutrement contributed greatly to the image of Hitler as a purely political being. This is the perspective conveyed by best-selling Hitler biographers Joachim C. Fest, Sebastian Haffner and Ian Kershaw.
According to their versions, Hitler lived a life devoid of friends, love and passion — a life that was easy to discard and, therefore, was accompanied by a constant readiness to commit suicide. For Haffner, at least, Hitler’s 1945 suicide in his Berlin bunker was “to be expected.” In a broader sense, the all-or-nothing policies Hitler pursued until total defeat could also be interpreted as a consequence of the dictator’s emotional emptiness.
Görtemaker avoids directly criticizing this interpretation, but it is clear that her account raises the issue, once again, of Hitler’s psyche. Of course, her book also shows how difficult it will be to find answers, because of the order Hitler issued in 1945 to destroy all private records. The order most likely extended to his correspondence with Braun, which has been proven to have once existed.
For this reason, the historian can only draw on a few letters Braun wrote to female friends and relatives, as well as fragments of a 1935 diary, although its authenticity is disputed. She also makes use of statements made by Hitler’s servants, bodyguards, his chauffeur and various senior Nazis in the decades following the war, although she treats this information with a healthy dose of scepticism, and rightfully so. A constant thread throughout the book is Görtemaker’s acknowledgement that there are many questions she cannot answer.
In 1929, Eva Braun was a sweet 17-year-old, naive but ambitious, from a respectable Bavarian Catholic family, and well aware of her attractiveness to men. She had just begun her first job in a photographic shop in Munich’s bohemian quarter. One October day, Adolf Hitler walked into her life.
Later, she told her sister Ilse what happened: “I had climbed up a ladder to reach the files that were kept on the top shelves of the cupboard. At that moment the boss came in, accompanied by a man of a certain age with a funny moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat and a big felt hat in his hand. They both sat down on the other side of the room opposite me. I tried to squint in their direction and sensed that this character was looking at my legs.”
Their future, fateful liaison was already prefigured in that brief encounter. The former convent schoolgirl, enjoying the attention, was only embarrassed because she had just shortened her skirt by hand and “wasn’t sure that I had got the hem even”.
The stranger had indeed noticed the pretty girl on the ladder. Hitler was introduced to her (as “Herr Wolf”, his usual alias) by her boss, Heinrich Hoffmann, who was both his photographer and a friend. The man who became her nemesis — and humanity’s — seems to have made an instant impression: Eva decided there and then to marry him. He was equally determined to remain single and childless. But neither would let the other go.
Eva was not Hitler’s first mistress: that dubious privilege belonged to his niece, Geli Raubal, who had shared his bed while her mother kept house for him. Not only was this an incestuous relationship, but when Geli tried to escape by taking other lovers, Hitler suffocated her with his jealousy. It was a revolting tale of beauty and the beast.
In 1931, when Geli realised that Hitler would neither marry her nor let her marry anybody else, she shot herself. Foul play was suspected, but nothing was ever proved. His grief seems to have been genuine: her room remained a shrine to the end of his life.
Eva saw her chance to comfort the stricken Führer; within weeks they were lovers. Thereafter, Eva saw off all competition. Unity Mitford appealed to Hitler’s snobbery, and he used her to impress guests in prewar Berlin, but she was too unbalanced and too English to be a serious rival. Magda Göbbels ruthlessly established herself as Hitler’s hostess when he needed to entertain. Eva was always kept in the background on official occasions. To her chagrin, she never met visiting celebrities such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. .
Despite endless rumours, there is no evidence that Hitler was sexually abnormal, though he was certainly shy and probably a virgin into his thirties. Unlike the affair with his niece, this was not an abusive relationship, but emphatically consensual. Yet it must be significant that all the important women in Hitler’s life committed suicide: beginning with the failed attempt of an early girlfriend, Mimi Reiter, there followed Geli and Unity (who shot herself on the day Britain declared war). In the end, Eva had the satisfaction of seeing her hysterical rival Magda Göbbels kicked out by Hitler minutes before their double suicide.
What is less well known is that, much earlier, Eva twice tried to kill herself: in November 1932, she shot herself in the throat, but missed the jugular. Then, in 1935, she tried again, this time with sleeping pills. Her reason, both times, was Hitler’s neglect. Although he expected her to give up her career and all hope of marriage or children, he might see her only every three or four weeks. While away, he often didn’t write or phone. Just before her second suicide attempt, she wrote: “If only I had never set eyes on him!” Yet however unhappy she was, her devotion was a fact of life. When they finally married, she seems to have considered her life fulfilled for the 36 hours during which she was addressed as “Mrs Hitler” — though her husband still referred to her as “Miss Braun”.
The only thing that gave her life meaning was Hitler. She had him all to herself only in death, but that seems to have been enough.
The Lost Life of Eva Braun
Even the beginnings of the affair are relatively murky.
Not a single letter from Hitler addressed to his mistress, or a single letter from Eva Braun addressed to Hitler, has ever been recovered. We just have different accounts from former members of Hitler’s inner circle, like Albert Speer, the adjutant Julius Schaub, and others. The development of their relationship before 1935 remains unclear. (Görtemaker)
Hitler apparently met Braun in 1929, when she was 17, at the “NSDAP Photohaus Hoffmann,” a photography shop, on Amalienstrasse in Munich. The young woman, who looks mischievous in pictures, had previously attended a girls’ school for home economics and office management, and was now working in the photography shop. Her boss Heinrich Hoffmann, who was chosen as Hitler’s official photographer, was one of the early members of the Nazi Party. A hard-drinking anti-Semite, Hoffmann made a fortune with propaganda photos and picture books, including a book titled The Hitler Nobody Knows.
How Political Was Eva Braun?
For Hitler, a 40-year-old opposition politician at the time, there were many opportunities to pay a visit to Hoffmann’s shop. The Nazi Party’s national office was around the corner, as were the editorial offices of the party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter and, of course, Hitler’s favorite restaurant, the Osteria Bavaria.
If what Hoffmann’s daughter later said is true, the party leader charmed the teenager with snide Viennese charm:
May I invite you to the opera, Miss Eva? You see, I am always surrounded by men, and so I can appreciate my good fortune when I find myself in the company of a woman. Dates at the cinema and restaurants followed.
When he was with women he never showed the slightest inclination toward womanizing. The naïve Braun, who fantasized about the world of films and loved fashion magazines, succumbed to the strong suggestive powers that even neutral observers ascribed to Hitler. Soon after meeting Braun, the Nazi leader apparently issued orders to look into whether the Braun family had any Jewish ancestors.
No one knows when the banter turned into a relationship. In 1932, Braun tried to commit suicide with her father’s gun, which some contemporaries suspected was an attempt to pressure Hitler to pay more attention to her. The Nazi leader had his eye on the chancellorship, and it would have been the second suicide by a young woman that could have been tied to Hitler. His niece, Geli Rauball, shot herself to death, presumably to escape the attentions of her jealous uncle. After Braun’s recovery, Hitler became more committed to her and by the end of 1932 they had become lovers. She often stayed overnight at his Munich apartment when he was in town.
The Back of the Group
Eva Braun seemed to have suffered from a lack of attention or recognition from Hitler. The World War I veteran, who had been a failure in civilian life, continued to live a Bohemian existence after coming to power in 1933. He was often absent for days from the business of running the government in Berlin. He spent his time strolling through Munich, going to the opera and the theater with his shady entourage and visiting construction sites, which Hitler, a lover of architecture, felt were important. In good weather, the group would drive out to the countryside, and Braun often went along on these outings.
Of course, she was required to travel in a separate compartment with the secretaries, and during the country walks her place was at the back of the group. On occasion, Hitler would openly hand her an envelope filled with cash, which reminded Speer of “American gangster films.”
On 1 April, 1935, she complained to her diary about a recent dinner at a hotel: “I sat near him for three hours and could not exchange a single word. By way of goodbye he handed me, as he has done before, an envelope with money in it. It would have been much nicer if he had enclosed a greeting or a loving word.” (Lambert)
According to a fragment of her diary and the account of biographer Nerin Gun, Braun’s second suicide attempt occurred in May 1935. She took an overdose of sleeping pills when Hitler failed to make time for her in his life Hitler provided Eva and her sister with a three-bedroom apartment in Munich that August, and the next year the sisters were provided with a villa in Bogenhausen.
Braun attended the Nuremberg Rally for the first time in 1935, as a member of Hoffman’s staff. Hitler’s half-sister, Angela Raubal (the dead Geli’s mother), took exception to her presence there, and was later dismissed from her position as housekeeper at his house in Berchtesgaden. Researchers are unable to ascertain if her dislike for Braun was the only reason for her departure, but other members of Hitler’s entourage saw Braun as untouchable from then on.
By 1936, Braun was at Hitler’s household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden whenever he was in residence there, but she lived mostly in Munich. Braun also had her own apartment at the new Reich Chancellery in Berlin, completed to a design by Albert Speer.
She grew into the role of hostess at the Berghof, where Hitler would often spend weeks at a time, even during the war. Her official title was “private secretary.” Braun had her own private quarters at his Berghof mountain retreat, where she whiled away the time between his visits with reading, enjoying the outdoors and partying. “When he was there they led what can be called a bohemian existence,” said Görtemaker. Of course, the dictator continued to keep the relationship out of the public eye.
Detrimental to his Image
Despite his efforts to conceal the relationship, the Allied press eventually learned that Hitler had a girlfriend named Braun, and Time reported the story in 1939. But it remained a secret in Germany, and Hitler was probably correct in his assumption that going public with the love affair would have been detrimental to his image as Führer.
Reinhard Spitzy, a staunch Nazi and employee of the former German ambassador to London, Joachim Ribbentrop, was astonished when a young woman with whom he was unfamiliar suddenly interrupted a conversation between Ribbentrop and Hitler at the Berghof, and said that the men should “finally” come to dinner. A colleague explained Braun’s position to Spitzy, who was appalled. He had imagined Hitler as an “ascetic, above sex and passion.” Instead, his hero was no different from anyone else.
Görtemaker said recognising that Hitler had a “normal relationship” was a vital part of the process of seeing him as a recognisable product of German society in the first half of the 20th century.
He is mostly portrayed as incapable of having a private life, He said he couldn’t marry because he was married to Germany.
The German public was never meant to know of Braun’s existence and marriage was out of the question until the very end. He told Speer:
It’s just like an actor when he marries. For the women who have worshipped him, he is no longer their idol in the same way.
Braun had a strong interest in photography and making films, and she also liked to be photographed. The photo albums and films of her that have survived depict her as a carefree, athletic and extroverted woman, who sometimes posed in her bathing suit and even filmed her sister when she went swimming in the nude. After the war, a former member of the SS complained that she did not conform to the “ideal of a German girl.” According to the SS officer, Braun would start “making the initial preparations for all kinds of amusements” — parties at the mountain hideaway — shortly after Hitler’s limousine had pulled away from the Berghof.
Such statements conform to the image of an apolitical entourage that everyone involved — from lowly servants to luminaries such as Albert Speer — described after the war, and into which Braun seemed to have integrated herself seamlessly. There was said to be a rule at the Berghof: that politics was not to be discussed in the presence of women. Instead, the topics of discussion were apparently fashion, dog breeding and operettas.
In 1943, shortly after Germany had fully transitioned to a total war economy. this meant , among other things, a potential ban on women’s cosmetics and luxuries. According to Speer’s memoirs, Braun approached Hitler in “high indignation”; Hitler instructed Speer, who was armaments minister at the time, to quietly arrange for production of women’s cosmetics and luxuries to cease rather than instituting an outright ban.
Biographer Görtemaker doesn’t have any trouble introducing arguments against the exclusiveness of this version. A look into Braun’s photo albums, which include pictures she took on August 23, 1939, is enough to support this notion. On that day Ribbentrop, who had been promoted to foreign minister by then, was in negotiations with Stalin in Moscow over the partition of Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Hitler wanted the alliance so that he could invade Poland. The photos show how tense and visibly restless he was while waiting for the outcome of Ribbentrop’s talks with Stalin. It was pure politics, and Braun was there.
Braun became part of the Nazi propaganda machinery. She served not just as decoration; she took pictures and films portraying Hitler at his Berghof retreat as a likeable caring person and family man, fond of children. But he wasn’t a family man. And she sold these so-called private pictures to Heinrich Hoffmann, and in doing so earned a lot of money—she got 20,000 marks for one of her [home] movies. She was very rich. It cannot be said how many pictures published by Hoffmann in his famous picture books about the private life of the Führer were actually taken by Eva Braun. (Görtemaker)
Görtemaker also believes that the woman at his side “shared Hitler’s worldview and political opinions uncritically.” The circumstances alone suggest that this was the case. Braun spent almost half of her 33 years in the company of fanatical Nazis.
The Making of Legends
After learning about the failed 20 July plot to kill Hitler, Braun wrote to him, “From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love”.
Braun was faithful unto death, and it was this unconditional loyalty that Hitler presumably valued in her above all else. “Only Miss Braun and my German Shepherd are loyal to me and belong to me,” he is believed to have said near the end of the war.
At that point, Braun had already decided to remain with the Führer. She even had someone teach her how to use a pistol when the Red Army had already advanced into Berlin. “We are fighting to the end here,” she wrote from the Führer’s bunker to her closest friend on April 22. “I will die as I have lived. It will not be difficult for me.”
According to the records of the Berchtesgaden District Court, Eva Braun died on April 30, 1945, at 3:28 p.m., after biting into a capsule of potassium cyanide. Hitler followed her two minutes later.
The making of legends could begin…..
Soviet artillery fire makes the first direct hits on the Chancellery buildings and grounds directly above the Fuehrerbunker. April 24, 1945: Speer talks with Hitler for the last time in the Fuehrerbunker. He supposedly confesses to his Fuehrer that he has been countermanding his orders for scorched earth. However, the only account we have to support this contention is Speers own. There is some reason to believe that at least a portion of the story is no more than wishful thinking on Speer’s part. However, the meeting certainly is contentious as Guderian will later relate that Hitler,
after this meeting, declares: ‘I refuse to see anyone alone anymore ….(Speer) always has something unpleasant to say to me. I can’t bear that.’ (Shirer, Sereny)
April 24, 1945:
German General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, commander of the 56th Panzer Corps, arrives at the Fuehrerbunker. Communications with Weidling had been cut off since the 20th, and he had been sentenced to death on the 22nd as a deserter. He has traveled to Berlin to plead his innocence to his Fuehrer, who, impressed by the effort, soon gives him a new post. (Kershaw) April 24, 1945:
Albert Speer and Walter Frentz take their final leave of the Fuehrerbunker. April 24, 1945: Speer meets with Himmler, and fills him in on the events in Berlin and of Goering’s fall. Himmler maintains that Goering’s fall is temporary: Goering is going to be the successor now. We’ve long had an understanding that I would be his Premier. Even without Hitler, I can make him Head-of-State ….
You know what he’s like—naturally, I’ll be the one to make the decisions. I’ve already been in touch with various persons I mean to take into my Cabinet. Keitel is coming to see me shortly …. Europe cannot manage without me in the future, either. It will go on needing me as Minister of Police.
After I’ve spent an hour with Eisenhower, he’ll appreciate that fact.
They’ll soon realize that they’re dependant on me—or they’ll have a hopeless chaos on their hands. After telling Speer of his recent negotiations with Swedish Red Cross envoy Bernadotte, Himmler hints that there may be a place for Speer in his cabinet.
Speer will later write that he countered this by offering the Reichsfuehrer SS the use of Speer’s own private plane for the purpose of flying to Berlin to see Hitler one last time. Himmler declines: ‘Now I must prepare my new government.
And besides, my person is too important for the future of Germany for me to risk the flight.’ (Speer, Read) From Triumph and Tragedy by Winston Churchill: In the early hours of April 25 a telegram arrived in London from Sir Victor Mallet, British Minister to Sweden.
He reported that at 11 PM on April 24
he and his American colleague, Mr. Herschel Johnson, had been asked to call on the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Boheman.
The purpose of the interview was to meet Count Bernadotte (above), who had an urgent mission. Bernadotte told him that Himmler was on the Eastern Front, and had asked to meet him urgently in Northern Germany.
Bernadotte suggested Luebeck, and they had met the previous evening. Himmler, though tired and admitting Germany was finished, was still calm and coherent.
He said that Hitler is so desperately ill that he might be dead already, and in any case would be so within the next few days. Himmler stated that while the Fuehrer was still active he would not have been able to do what he now proposed,
but as Hitler was finished he could act with full authority. He then asked if the Swedish Government would arrange for him to meet General Eisenhower and capitulate on the whole Western Front. Bernadotte said there was no need for this as he could simply order his troops to surrender, and in any case
he would not forward the request unless Norway and Denmark were included in the capitulation. If this were done there might be some point to a meeting,
because special arrangements might be necessary as to how and to whom the Germans there were to lay down their arms.
Himmler thereupon said he was prepared to order the German forces in Denmark and Norway to surrender to either British, American, or Swedish troops. When asked what he proposed to do if the Western Allies refused his offer,
Himmler replied that he would take command of the Eastern Front and die in battle. Himmler said he hoped that the Western Allies rather than the Russians would be the first to enter Mecklenberg, in order to save the civilian population.
Count Bernadotte ended by saying that General Schellenberg was now in Flensburg, near the Danish border, eagerly waiting for news, and could make sure than any message would reach Himmler immediately.
Both Ministers remarked that Himmler’s refusal to surrender on the Eastern Front looked like a last attempt to make trouble between the Western Allies and Russia.
Obviously the Nazis would have to surrender to all the Allies simultaneously. The Swedish Minister admitted this might be so, but pointed out that if the troops on the whole of the Western Front and in Norway and Denmark laid down their arms it would be a great help for all the Allies,
including Russia, and would lead to an early and total capitulation. In any case, he thought that Bernadotte’s information should be passed to the British and American Governments.
As far as his own government were concerned, we were completely at liberty to tell the Soviets, as the Swedes would in no way be, or thought to be, promoting discord between the Allies.
The only reason that the Swedish Government could not inform the Soviets direct was that Himmler had stipulated that his information was exclusively for the Western Powers.
April 25, 1945
Churchill to Truman: You will no doubt have received some hours ago the report from Stockholm by your Ambassador on the Bernadotte-Himmler talks. I called the War Cabinet together at once, and they approved the immediately following telegram, which we are sending to Marshal Stalin and repeating through the usual channels to you.
We hope you will find it possible to telegraph to Marshal Stalin and to us in the same sense.
As Himmler is evidently speaking for the German State, as much as anybody can, the reply that should be sent him through the Swedish Government is in principle a matter for the triple Powers, since no one of us can enter into separate negotiations.
This fact however in no way abrogates General Eisenhower’s or Field-Marshal Alexander’s authority to accept local surrenders as they occur. (Churchill)
April 25, 1945
Churchill to the British Cabinet: I spoke to President Truman (by telephone) at 8:10 PM. He knew nothing of what had happened at Stockholm, except that when I asked to speak to him he inquired what it was about, and I told him about the important message from Stockholm.
He had not received any report from the American Ambassador there. I therefore read him the text of Mallet’s telegram. I also told him we were convinced the surrender should be unconditional and simultaneous to the three major Powers. He expressed strong agreement with this … (Churchill)
April 25, 1945
Churchill to Stalin: The President of the United States has the news also.
There can be no question, as far as His Majesty’s Government is concerned, of anything less than unconditional surrender simultaneously to the three major Powers.
We consider Himmler should be told that German forces, either as individuals or in units, should everywhere surrender themselves to the Allied troops or representatives on the spot.
Until this happens the attack of the Allies upon them on all sides and in all theaters where resistance continues will be prosecuted with the utmost vigor. (Churchill)
April 25, 1945
Stalin to Churchill: I consider your proposal to present to Himmler a demand for unconditional surrender on all fronts, including the Soviet front,
the only correct one. Knowing you, I had no doubt that you would act in this way. I beg you to act in the sense of your proposal, and the Red Army will maintain its pressure on Berlin in the interests of our common cause. (Churchill)
April 25, 1945:
German General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling, who had earlier been sentenced to be executed by firing squad, is appointed commander of the Berlin Defense Area. Facing an advance by two and a half million battle-hardened Soviet soldiers, he has 44,600 German soldiers, 42,500 old and under-armed Volkssturm ‘troops,’ and 2,700 Hitler Youth with which to oppose them. (Kershaw) April 25, 1945
Elbe Day: US and Soviet forces link up at Torgau, Germany, on the Elbe River, a meeting that dramatizes the collapse of Nazi Germany’s defenses. Arrangements are made for the formal
‘Handshake of Torgau’ between Robertson and Silvashko in front of photographers the following day. Statements are released simultaneously in London, Moscow, and Washington in the evening reaffirming the determination of the three Allied powers to complete the destruction of the Third Reich.
April 25, 1945:
Hitler summons Heinz Linge – who serves as his valet, as well as the chief of his personal bodyguard – to give him a set of precise instructions. He gives him the task of carrying his body from the Bunker, after he has taken his own life, and cremating it. “No one must see or recognize me after death,” he emphasizes. “
After seeing to the burning, go back to my room and collect everything I could be remembered by after death. Take everything—uniforms, papers, everything I’ve used—anything that people could say belonged to the Fuehrer.
Take it outside and burn it.” He allows for only one of his personal possessions to survive him; his portrait of Frederick the Great by Anton Graff. Frederick is to be spirited out of Berlin by Hitler’s personal pilot, Hans Baur. (Payne)
April 25, 1945:
Soviet forces completely surround Berlin as the US Army blows the swastika from the top of the Zeppelintribuene.
The last B-17 attack against Nazi Germany occurs. Nazi occupation army leaves Milan after a partisan insurrection; the liberation of Italy. Delegates from some 50 countries meet in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.
April 25, 1945
Goebbels Diary: Hitler said: ‘I’d regard it as a thousand times more cowardly to commit suicide on the Obersalzberg than to stand and fall here. They shouldn’t say: ‘You, as the Fuehrer …
‘ I’m only the Fuehrer as long as I can lead. And I can’t lead through sitting somewhere on a mountain, but have to have authority over armies that obey. Let me win a victory here, however difficult and tough, then I’ve a right again to do away with the sluggish elements who are constantly causing an obstruction.
Then I’ll work with the generals who’ve proved themselves … Only here can I attain a success, and even if it’s only a moral one, it’s at least the possibility of saving face and winning time. …
Only through a heroic attitude can we survive this hardest of times… It’s the only chance to restore personal reputation … if we leave the world stage in disgrace, we’ll have lived for nothing. Whether you continue your life a bit longer or not is completely immaterial.
Rather end the struggle with honor than continue in shame and dishonor a few months or years longer … (Goebbels adds to his Fuehrer’s thoughts:) If all goes well, then it’s in any case good. If things don’t go well and the Fuehrer finds in Berlin an honorable death and Europe were to become bolshevized,
then in five years at the latest the Fuehrer would be a legendary personality and National Socialism would have attained mythical status (ein Mythos) …
(Kershaw) April 26, 1945: After his villa is bombed by the RAF, Goering convinces Bernhard Frank (above) —
the leader of the SS squad holding him under house arrest—that it would be better if they all moved to Goering’s castle in Mauterndorf. Early this morning, Goering, Lammers, Koller, and their SS guard leave for the castle. (Read)
April 26, 1945:
As the party makes their way to Goering’s castle in Mauterndorf, an announcement is made on German radio: Reich Marshal Hermann Goering has been taken ill with his long-standing chronic heart condition, which has now entered an acute stage.
At a time when the efforts of all forces are required, he has therefore requested to be relieved of his command of the Luftwaffe and all duties connected thereto.
The Fuehrer has granted this request. The Fuehrer has appointed Colonel-General Ritter von Greim as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe while simultaneously promoting him to Field Marshal.
April 26, 1945:
In the evening a small plane containing famed test pilot Hanna Reitsch and Luftwaffe General Ritter von Greim lands on an improvised air strip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate following a daring flight in which Greim had been wounded in the foot by Soviet ground fire.
Reitsch will later write that Hitler’s ‘head drooped heavily on his shoulders, and a continual twitching affected both his arms.
His eyes glassy and remote, he greets us with an expressionless voice.’ The wounded Greim – who could just as well have been appointed by phone – is informed personally by Hitler that he is now a Field-Marshal and Goering’s successor.
Hitler tells them of Goering’s ‘treachery': ‘Nothing is spared me! Nothing! Every disillusion, every betrayal, dishonor, treason has been heaped upon me. I have had Goering placed under immediate arrest, stripped him of all his offices, expelled him from every party organization …’
Hitler abruptly ends the meeting and leaves the room. Note: Payne places this meeting on the 24th, while Kershaw maintains that it occurred on the 26th. (Kershaw, Payne) April 26, 1945 Churchill to Stalin: This is about ‘Crossword.’
The German envoys, with whom all contact was broken by us some days ago, have now arrived again on the Lake of Lucerne. They claim to have full powers to surrender the Army in Italy. Field-Marshal Alexander is therefore being told that he is free to permit these envoys to come to AFHQ in Italy.
This they can easily do by going into France and being picked up by our aircraft from there. Will you please send Russian representatives forthwith to Field-Marshal Alexander’s headquarters.
Field-Marshal Alexander is free to accept the unconditional surrender of the considerable enemy army on his front, but all political issues are reserved to the three Governments. (Churchill) April 26, 1945:
Marshal Henri Philippe Petain, the head of France’s Vichy government during WW2, is arrested on treason charges. The Germans evacuate the last survivors from Stutthof by sea to Luebeck. Hundreds die during the voyage.
April 27, 1945:
OSS chief Allen Dulles is ordered by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to resume negotiations with German ‘peace’ emissaries. Note: Waller says the 26th, Mosley the 27th. (Mosley, Waller)
April 27, 1945:
An early morning situation conference in the Fuehrerbunker concentrates on Wenck’s three battalion relief force just arriving at Potsdam. Giving up on hope that Busse’s 9th Army can link up with Wenck,
there still remains Holste’s forces north-west of Berlin. Goebbels declares: “May God let Wenck come! A dreadful situation crosses my mind. Wenck is located at Potsdam, and here the Soviets are pressing on Potsdamer Platz!”
Hitler replies: “And I’m not in Potsdam, but in Potsdamer Platz.” One of the generals present voices reassurances: “Wenck will get here, Mein Fuehrer! It’s only a question of whether he can do it alone.” Hitler opines: “You’ve got to imagine. That’ll spread like wildfire through the whole of Berlin when it’s known: a German army has broken through in the west and established contact with the Citadel (Festung).” (Kershaw)
April 27, 1945:
A Fuehrerbunker wedding celebration occurs as one of the drivers marries Liesl Ostertag, one of the kitchen maids. A reception is held in Hitler’s apartment for the couple (who had earlier offered to smuggle the Goebbels children out of the Bunker, only to be refused by Magda). (Sereny, Sigmund)
April 27, 1945:
The Voelkischer Beobachter, the newspaper of the Nazi Party, ceases publication.
April 27, 1945:
Goebbels asks his Fuehrer—while reminiscing about the good old days in the presence of a stenographer—why he had changed his mind in 1932 and decided to abandon his pursuit of the German Presidency for that of Chancellor. Hitler: I was weaving my way from one compromise to another. This lasted until the death of Hindenburg. Previously, I thought I would expose ruthlessly people like (General) Hammerstein, Schleicher, and the whole clique around that dung heap. But after eighteen months this intention gradually became less firm.
This was the time of the great work of construction. Otherwise, thousands would have been liquidated. Instead, we assimilated them. Goebbels: It occurs to me that during March (1933), so many of these will-o-the-wisps entered the Party.
There was a real frenzy for it. Because we were unwilling to take in these wretches, they asked us whether we had no desire for reconciliation. It would have been more correct if we had closed the Party and said: No more may enter. Hitler:
We could have done that if I had come to power as a result of a definite expression of the popular will or through a coup d’etat. Afterward, of course, one repents of being so goodhearted. Goebbels: All the Austrian Gauleiters said at the time that there was a flaw in the revolution.
It would have been much better if Vienna had resisted, and we could have shot the whole place to hell.” Following similar self-serving comments—all lamenting the many disadvantages being ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ can bring to an honest fellow—Goebbels prompts his Fuehrer further, asking him why he has chosen to remain in Berlin.
Hitler: I remain for the reason that I thereby have a greater moral right to act against weakness. Otherwise I do not have the moral right. I cannot continually threaten others if I myself run away from the capital of the Reich at the critical hour.
We must introduce throughout the Wehrmacht a certain code of honor. A basic principle, always followed in the navy, must be taken over by the Party and be made binding on every member. In this city I have the right to give orders: now I must obey the commands of fate. Even if I could save myself, I would not.
The captain goes down with his ship. (Payne) April 27, 1945 Churchill to Stalin: I am extremely pleased to know that you had no doubt how I would act, and always will act, towards your glorious country and yourself. British and I am sure American action on this matter will go forward on the lines you approve, and we all three will continually keep each other fully informed. (Churchill) April 28, 1945: Allied occupation forces set up a provisional occupation government in Austria as the first step towards re-establishing the Austrian republic. The bridge on the Potsdamerstrasse is seized.
April 28, 1945:
The Allies reject peace offers made by Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler, insisting on nothing less than unconditional surrender on all fronts. The International Red Cross, by arrangement with Himmler, begins the transport of 150 Jewish women from Ravensbrueck to Sweden; the first of 3,500 Jewish and 3,500 non-Jewish women to be transferred to safety in the last ten days of the war.
April 28, 1945:
Magda Goebbels (above, with family) pens a farewell letter to her 24 year old son from her first marriage, Harald Quandt (far right), a POW held in North Africa; the only one of her children who will survive her: My beloved son! By now we have been in the Fuehrerbunker for six days already—daddy, your six little siblings and I, for the sake of giving our national socialistic lives the only possible honorable end …
You shall know that I stayed here against daddy’s will, and that even on last Sunday the Fuehrer wanted to help me to get out. You know your mother—we have the same blood, for me there was no wavering. Our glorious idea is ruined and with it everything beautiful and marvelous that I have known in my life.
The world that comes after the Fuehrer and national socialism is not any longer worth living in and therefore I took the children with me, for they are too good for the life that would follow, and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation … The children are wonderful …
there never is a word of complaint nor crying. The impacts are shaking the bunker. The elder kids cover the younger ones, their presence is a blessing and they are making the Fuehrer smile once in a while.
May God help that I have the strength to perform the last and hardest. We only have one goal left: loyalty to the Fuehrer even in death. Harald, my dear son—I want to give you what I learned in life: be loyal! Loyal to yourself, loyal to the people and loyal to your country … Be proud of us and try to keep us in dear memory …
April 28, 1945:
On this Saturday night, the bodies of Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, are brought to Milan in a truck and dumped on the town square. The next day they will strung up by the heels from lampposts as Italian mobs celebrate by desecrating their corpses. Italian guerrillas had captured them while they were trying to escape to Switzerland and executed after a brief trial the previous day.
April 28, 1945:
Doenitz, believing that Himmler will soon succeed Hitler, contacts the SS leader and assures him that he has his support. Doenitz asks the Reichsfuehrer SS about rumors of Himmler’s negotiations of surrender terms with the West. Himmler denies that there is anything to the rumors. (Shirer) From Himmler by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel: While Schellenberg was during the morning of 28 April successfully calming Himmler with the aid of his favorite astrologer,
the Allied press was pouring out the news of the Reichsfuehrer’s independent attempt at negotiations. Completely unaware of this, Himmler attended a military conference in Rheinsberg convened by Keitel. At this meeting Himmler presided, which showed that he regarded himself as Hitler’s deputy and successor. In the late afternoon Bernadotte heard the news of the negotiations on the clandestine radio, and realized that Himmler was finished as a negotiator. Doenitz also heard the report and telephoned inquiries to Himmler, who immediately denied the story as it had been put in the broadcast, but added that he had no intention of issuing any public statement himself. According to Schellenberg, he then spent part of the day deciding how best to order the evacuation of German troops from Norway and Denmark.
It was not until nine o’clock that night that a monitor report on a broadcast put out by the BBC gave Himmler away to the Fuehrer in the bowels of the Bunker. According to one observer, Hitler’s ‘color rose to a heated red, and his face became virtually unrecognizable.’ Then he began to rage at this treacherous betrayal by the man he had trusted most of all. The men and women hemmed in the Bunker were convulsed with emotion, and ‘everyone looked to their poison.’
April 28, 1945:
Sometime between 7 and 9 PM, a BBC report picked up in the Fuehrerbunker announces that Himmler has just offered to surrender Germany unconditionally to the Allies.
Rochus Misch (above), the switchboard officer on duty in the Fuehrerbunker, will later tell Gitta Sereny: He (Hitler) was sitting on that bench outside my switchboard room with a puppy in his lap when Lorenz, whom I heard arrive at a run, handed him the paper on which he had jotted down the radio dispatch. Hitler’s face went completely white, almost ashen.
‘My God,’ I thought, ‘he is going to faint.’ He slumped forward holding his head with his hands. The puppy plumped to the ground – silly how one remembers such trifles, but I can still here that soft sound. Enraged at Himmler’s duplicity, Hitler rants uncontrollably about this new betrayal, then closets himself in a conference room with Bormann and Goebbels.
He first orders that Otto Hermann Fegelein, Himmler’s man at the Bunker, be arrested. He then orders Field Marshal von Greim and Hanna Reitsch to fly to Doenitz’s headquarters at Ploen and arrest Himmler. ‘A traitor must never succeed me as Fuehrer,’ he screams.
‘You must get out (of Berlin) to make sure he doesn’t.’ (Read, Sereny) April 28, 1945: SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein–the brother-in-law of Eva Braun and also Himmler’s liaison officer in the bunker–is arrested in civilian clothes while preparing to leave the country.
He is brought back to Hitler’s bunker, but is temporarily saved by Eva’s pleas for mercy on behalf of her pregnant sister. The reprieve proves short-lived as Hitler soon becomes convinced that Fegelein’s escape attempt is part of Himmler’s treachery.
Within an hour Fegelein is tried, sentenced to death, taken up to the Reich Chancellery Garden, and executed with a bullet in the back of his head. (Read)
April 28, 1945:
Robert Ritter von Greim, and Hanna Reitsch take their final leave of the Fuehrerbunker. April 28, 1945: Martin Bormann wires Admiral Doenitz: “Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei) a heap of rubble.” He informs Keitel that the foreign press is reporting fresh acts of treason and ‘that without exception Schoerner,
Wenck and the others must give evidence of their loyalty by the quickest relief of the Fuehrer. April 29, 1945: Around 2:00 AM, Hitler sends for a sleeping Traudl Junge, one of his personal secretaries, who will later tell Gitta Sereny:
I quickly washed my face and went down to his study. A table in the corner had been laid as if for a party—glasses, small plates, cutlery—but I didn’t know for what occasion. He was very quiet when I came in, but courteous as ever. He took my hand. Was I all right? he asked. Had I had a rest? I said I had, and he took me to
the large conference room and told me to make myself comfortable, what he had to dictate would take some time, and would have to be transcribed as quickly as possible afterwards. Couriers would be waiting to take it out. (Sereny)
April 29, 1945:
Hitler dictates his last Political Testament to Traudl Junge: …I left no doubt about the fact that if the peoples of Europe were again only regarded as so many packages of stock shares by these international money and finance conspirators, then that race, too, which is the truly guilty party in this murderous struggle would also have to be held to account: the Jews!
I further left no doubt that this time we would not permit millions of European children of Aryan descent to die of hunger, nor millions of grown-up men to suffer death, nor hundreds of thousands of women and children to be burned and bombed to death in their cities, without truly guilty party having to atone for its guilt, even if through more humane means…
April 29, 1945:
Hitler continues dictating as Traudl Junge takes down his Last Will and personal Testament: As I did not consider that I could take responsibility, during the years of struggle, of contracting a marriage, I have now decided, before the closing of my earthly career, to take as my wife that girl who, after many years of faithful friendship, entered, of her own free will, the practically besieged town in order to share her destiny with me.
At her own desire she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people. What I possess belongs—
in so far as it has any value—to the Party. Should this no longer exist, to the State; should the State also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary. My pictures, in the collections which I have bought in the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my home town of Linz on Donau.
It is my most sincere wish that this bequest may be duly executed. I nominate as my Executor my most faithful Party comrade, Martin Bormann. He is given full legal authority to make all decisions.
He is permitted to take out everything that has a sentimental value or is necessary for the maintenance of a modest simple life, for my brothers and sisters, also above all for the mother of my wife and my faithful co-workers who are well known to him, principally my old Secretaries Frau Winter etc. who have for many years aided me by their work.
I myself and my wife—in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation—choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years’ service to my people.
April 29, 1945:
Traudl Junge begins to type up Hitler’s official will and testament. Junge will later tell Gitta Sereny: You know, here we were, all of us doomed, I thought—the whole country doomed—and here, in what he was dictating to me there was not one word of compassion or regret, only awful, awful, anger. I remember thinking,
‘My God, he hasn’t learned anything. It’s all just the same’ … It was only when he dictated his private will, in which he explained his decision to marry, that I found out …
It didn’t take me long (to type up). There were ten pages of the Political Testament and just three for the private one. It would have gone even faster if Goebbels hadn’t come in the middle.
Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels appears in her office, weeping like a small child. Hitler has ordered him to leave Berlin, he wails. But I don’t want to run away and leave the Fuehrer. I am the Gauleiter of Berlin and my place is here.
If the Fuehrer dies, my life has no meaning. He even said to me, ‘Goebbels, I didn’t expect this from you! You refuse to obey my last orders!’ (Sereny, Read)
April 29, 1945:
The distraught Goebbels then dictates his own political testament, as an appendix to Hitler’s. The Fuehrer had ordered me to leave Berlin … and take part as a leading member in the government appointed by him.
For the first time in my life, I must categorically refuse to obey an order of the Fuehrer. My wife and children join me in this refusal. Apart from the fact that feelings of humanity and personal loyalty forbid us to abandon the Fuehrer in his hour of greatest need, I would otherwise appear for the rest of my life as a dishonorable traitor and a common scoundrel and would lose my self-respect as well as the respect of my fellow citizens …
In the nightmare of treason which surrounds the Fuehrer in these most critical days of the war, there must be someone at least who will stay with him unconditionally until death …
I believe I am thereby doing the best service to the future of the German people. In the hard times to come, examples will be more important than men ….
For this reason, together with my wife, and on behalf of my children, who are too young to be able to speak for themselves and who, if they were old enough, would unreservedly agree with this decision, I express my unalterable resolution not to leave the Reich capital, even if it falls,
but rather, at the side of the Fuehrer, to end a life that for me personally will have no further value if I cannot spend it at the service of the Fuehrer and at his side.
April 29, 1945:
Hitler and Eva Braun exchange marriage vows. A minor official named Walter Wagner—pulled from his Volkssturm unit on the front lines—conducts the ceremony. Goebbels is witness for Hitler and Bormann for Eva. Only eight guests are allowed to attend: Bormann, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, Gerda Christian, Chief Adjutant Bergdorf, General Krebs, Arthur Axmann, head of the Hitler Youth, and Fraulein Manzialy,
Hitler’s cook. The rest of the staff wait outside to congratulate the newly wedded couple as the phonograph is wound up and the one record remaining in the Bunker,
‘Red Roses,’ is set to spinning. Junge will later tell Gitta Sereny: I joined the party in the study (after typing the last testaments). I sat down with them around the table and ate little sandwiches and drank champagne as they apparently had been doing for quite awhile. Nobody said anything.
We couldn’t very well toast their future. Walter Wagner fades back into obscurity, never to be heard from again. Note: One wonders if Wagner was given a last glass of bubbly before being sent back to the front. (Shirer, Payne, Sereny)
April 29, 1945:
At 4 AM, Hitler officially signs the last will and political testament documents prepared by Traudl Junge. Signed as witnesses: Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Colonel Nicholaus von Below. Below will write later: They called me to the map room at 4 AM … I was surprised when Hitler asked me to witness his private will, together with Goebbels and Bormann.
But I also read the Political Testament and found his self-description really depressing and his repeated anti-Semitic invectives embarrassing ..
. April 29, 1945 C
Churchill to Stalin: I have just received a telegram from Field-Marshal Alexander that after a meeting at which your officers were present the Germans accepted the terms of unconditional surrender presented to them and are sending the material clauses of the instrument of surrender to General von Vietinghoff, with the request to name the date and hour at which conclusion of hostilities can be made effective.
It looks therefore as if the entire German forces south of the Alps will almost immediately surrender. (Churchill)
April 29, 1945
Churchill to Stalin: We are all shocked that you should think we would favor a Polish Government hostile to the Soviet Union. This is the opposite of our policy. But it was on account of Poland that the British went to war with Germany in 1939.
We saw in the Nazi treatment of Poland a symbol of Hitler’s vile and wicked lust of conquest and subjugation, and his invasion of Poland was the spark that fired the mine.
The British people do not, as is sometimes thought, go to war for calculation, but for sentiment. They had a feeling which grew up in years that with all Hitler’s encroachments and doctrine he was a danger to our country and to the liberties which we prize in Europe, and when after Munich he broke his word so shamefully about Czechoslovakia even the extremely peace-loving Chamberlain gave our guarantee against Hitler to Poland. When that guarantee was invoked by the German invasion of Poland the whole nation went to war with Hitler, unprepared as we were. There was a flame in the hearts of men like that which swept your people in the noble defense of their country from a treacherous, brutal, and at one time it almost seemed, overwhelming German attack. This British flame burns still among all classes and parties in this Island, and in its self-governing Dominions, and they can never feel this war will have ended rightly unless Poland has a fair deal in the full sense of sovereignty, independence, and freedom, on the basis of friendship with Russia.
It was on this that I thought we had agreed at Yalta. There is not much comfort in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate, plus the Communist Parties in many other States, are all drawn up on one side, and those who rally to the English-speaking nations and their associates, or Dominions on the other. It is quite obvious that their quarrel would tear the world to pieces and that all of us leading men on either side who had anything to do with that would be shamed before history. (Churchill) April 29, 1945: An unconditional surrender of the German armies in Italy is signed at Caserta; Venice and Mestre are captured by the Allies.
April 29, 1945:
Dachau is liberated by the US 45th Infantry Division. Some 20-30 SS men are said to have been captured. Eyewitnesses will later relate that 34 of the 200 guards captured are murdered by the Americans after surrendering.
The camp inmates tear apart 15-20 informers and kill all the Capos, who are described for the most part as common German criminals. (Waller)
April 29, 1945:
At noon, three copies of Hitler’s the last will and political testament documents are sent by courier to Doenitz, General Schoerner, and the Brown House in Munich, respectively. (Payne) From Hitler: Nemesis 1936-1945 by Ian Kershaw: The mood in the bunker now sank to zero-level. Despair was now written on everyone’s face. All knew it was only a matter of hours before Hitler killed himself, and wondered what the future held for them after his death.
There was much talk of the best methods of committing suicide. Secretaries, adjutants, and any others who wanted them had by now been given the brass-cased ampoules containing prussic acid supplied by Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, the SS surgeon who had joined the ‘court’ the previous October.
Hitler’s paranoia stretched now to doubts about the capsules. He had shown his Alsatian bitch Blondi more affection in recent years than any human being, probably including even Eva Braun. Now, as the end approached, he had the poison tested on Blondi. Professor Werner Haase (above) was summoned from his duties in the nearby public air-raid shelter beneath the new Reich Chancellery building nearby.
Shortly before the afternoon briefing on 29 April, aided by Hitler’s dog attendant, Sergeant Fritz Tornow, he forced open the dogs jaws and crushed the prussic acid capsule with a pair of pliers. The dog slumped in an instant motionless to the ground. Hitler was not present.
However, he entered the room immediately afterwards. He glanced for a few seconds at the dead dog. Then, his face like a mask, he left without saying anything and shut himself in his room.
April 29, 1945:
At the afternoon situation conference, General Burgdorf requests that Hitler’s Air Force adjutant, Colonel Nicolaus von Below, be allowed to leave the Bunker. Hitler acquiesces, and requests that von Below perform one last service to his Fuehrer; deliver a message to Keitel. After the conference, he dictates what has been called the last message Hitler will send from the Bunker: The people and the Armed Forces have given their all in this long and hard struggle. The sacrifice has been enormous.
But my trust has been misused by many people. Disloyalty and betrayal have undermined resistance throughout the war. It was therefore not granted to me to lead the people to victory.
The Army General Staff cannot be compared with the General Staff in the First World War. Its achievements were far behind those of the fighting front.
The efforts and sacrifices of the German people in this war have been so great that I cannot believe they have been in vain. The aim must still be to win territory in the West for the German people. Note: The message will never be delivered as von Below will destroy it while wandering around behind enemy lines two days later.
The version above—quoted from Payne—is recreated from von Below’s memory, with no other corroborating documentation. (Payne, Kershaw)
April 29, 1945:
Hitler shares his fears of being overcome with gas and captured by the Soviets with his pilot, Hans Baur:
The Russians know perfectly well that I am here in this bunker. I’m afraid they will use gas shells. During the war we produced a gas that could put a man to sleep for twenty-four hours. Our intelligence tells me that the Russians now have this gas too. The consequences would be unimaginable if they captured me alive. (Payne)
April 29, 1945:
At 6 PM, Hitler announces to his staff that he and his wife, Eva, are going to commit suicide together unless some miracle intervenes. He then passes out vials of cyanide.
At 9 PM, the news of the murder and the public humiliation of Mussolini and his mistress reaches the Bunker. Hitler vows that he will not share a similar fate.
April 29, 1945:
Heinrich Mueller, Bernd von Freytag-Loringhoven, Gerhardt Boldt, and Rudolf Weiss take their final leave of the Fuehrerbunker. April 29, 1945: Hjalmar Schacht, who had been implicated in the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler and arrested by the Gestapo, is now arrested by the US 9th Army. Note: Schacht will be acquitted at the first Nuremberg Trial. From The Nuremberg Trial by Joe J. Heydecker and Johannes Leeb: Ravensbrueck, Moabit, and finally the extermination camp of Flossenburg were his (Schacht’s) stopping places. ‘No one gets out alive from this camp,’ Schacht whispered to his fellow prisoners when he was brought in. Through the open door of a shed in the camp, there was a view of the scaffolding of the gallows.
Every night Schacht heard the screams and shots which left no doubt what was happening. Many a morning, as he took his exercise, he could count up to thirty dead being carried away on stretchers from the places of execution. Only much later Schacht learned that the commandant of Flossenburg had been expressly ordered to shoot him as soon as the Allies came anywhere near the camp. But it did not come to that.
In the face of imminent defeat the SS suddenly attempted to introduce a more humane treatment, perhaps in the hope of thereby saving themselves.
Thus Schacht, together with other prisoners, was transferred first to Dachau and later to Austria when the Americans advanced. As the transport halted at the Pragser Wildsee the Ninth Army liberated him, and with him a number of others who were internees and ‘VIP prisoners’ of Hitler ..
.(among them: Pastor Martin Niemoeller, Miklos Kallay, Bruno Bettelheim, Kurt von Schuschnigg, Fritz Thyssen, Leon Blum, Nicholas von Horthy, Alext Kokosin, Franz Halder, Peter Churchill) ..
.”Why did Hitler put you in jail? Schacht was asked by the Americans. ‘No idea,’ answered the banker. He also had no idea why he was not set free, but kept under arrest. He was well treated, he had excellent food, and was allowed to walk unguarded by the Pragser lake. But then he was moved again, and by various stages reached eventually the overcrowded prisoner-of-war camp Aversa near Naples. Hjalmar Schacht, the financial genius with the old-fashioned stand-up collar, had changed sides several times. Now he was on his way to the prison at Nuremberg.
April 29, 1945:
Late in the evening, General Krebs radios General Jodl with three terse questions from Hitler: Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck’s spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General Rudolf Holste’s spearhead. (Kershaw) April 30, 1945: Jodl replies to Krebs: Firstly, Wenck’s spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly,
Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste’s Corps on the defensive.” Keitel writes on the bottom: “Attacks on Berlin not advanced anywhere. (Kershaw)
April 30, 1945:
Nicolaus von Below takes his final leave of the Fuehrerbunker, carrying Hitler’s ‘last message’ to Keitel. (Payne) April 30, 1945 Churchill to Truman: There can be little doubt that the liberation of Prague and as much as possible of the territory of Western Czechoslovakia by your forces might make the whole difference to the post-war situation in Czechoslovakia, and might well influence that in near-by countries. On the other hand, if the Western Allies play no significant part in Czechoslovakian liberation that country will go the way of Yugoslavia. Of course, such a move by Eisenhower must not interfere with his main operations against the Germans, but I think the highly-important political consideration mentioned above should be brought to his attention. (Churchill) April 30, 1945: In the early morning hours, Bormann dispatches a message to Doenitz: DOENITZ! Our impression grows daily stronger that the divisions in the Berlin theater have been standing idle for several days. All reports we receive are controlled, suppressed, or distorted by Keitel …. The Fuehrer orders you to proceed at once, and mercilessly, against all traitors …. The Fuehrer is alive, and is conducting the defense of Berlin … (Shirer) April 30, 1945: By late morning, the Soviets have overrun the Tiergarten in Berlin, and one advance unit is reported on one of the streets next to Hitler’s bunker under the Reich Chancellery. SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, commander of the center sector of Berlin, informs Hitler that the center will be able to hold out for less than two days. Later that morning Weidling informs Hitler in person that the defenders will likely exhaust their ammunition that night and again asks Hitler’s permission to break out. At about 13:00 Weidling finally receives Hitler’s permission to attempt a breakout in the evening. April 30, 1945: Hitler sends for Bormann at noon and informs him that the end is near. He then attends one last lunch with his secretaries and his cook, who prepares spaghetti with a light sauce. Eva is not present, but she joins him after the lunch to shake hands and say sad farewells to the staff. Eva embraces Traudl Junge: ‘Please try to get out of here,’ she pleads. ‘You might make it. Give my love to Bavaria.’ Hitler and Eva then enter Hitler’s private quarters and close the door behind them. SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Otto Guensche takes up his post at the door, with orders that the couple not be disturbed. (Read, Payne) April 30, 1945: Soviet forces enter Ravensbrueck concentration camp north of Berlin. Meanwhile, Allied troops capture Munich and French forces cross the border into Austria. At 3:00 PM, American forces in Nuremberg discover the tunnel and underground bunker where the spear of Longinus (the Holy Lance) has been hidden to prevent its capture by the Allies. April 30, 1945: After the Hitlers retire to their room, Traudl Junge suddenly realizes that, in the excitement, no one had thought to feed the Goebbels’ children. She rounds them up, leads them to the tiny dining room, and scrounges up some fruit and sandwich ingredients. Junge will later relate that she ‘heard the shot’ while making sandwiches and for them. Rochus Misch will later tell Oliver Harvey: I saw Hitler slumped by the table. I did not see any blood on his head. And I saw Eva with her knees drawn up, lying next to him on the sofa. Hitler was wrapped in a blanket as I watched. He was then taken outside to be burnt. It was over. Note: There is some dispute in the historical record concerning some of the events of this day. One is the contention that a distraught Magda Goebbels had actually burst in on Hitler and Eva in the privacy of their room, making one last tearful plea to Hitler that he allow himself and the rest of them to escape Berlin and make a last stand at Obersalzberg. However, other eyewitnesses have denied that any such scene actually occurred, and it is quite doubtful that it ever did. Another area of dispute is whether or not the shot that killed Hitler was actually heard by any of the Bunker witnesses. Some say they heard the shot, but others will testify that they did not, and that the door was too soundproof to have allowed the sound to escape. Definitive answers are difficult when eyewitnesses disagree. (Read) From Women of the Third Reich by Anna Maria Sigmund: On April 30, 1945, when Hitler and Eva Braun, now married, took their leave in order to commit suicide, Magda Goebbels cried out in shock, ‘My Fuehrer, do not leave us; we will perish miserably without you!’ Traudl Junge, Hitler’s secretary, was just giving food to the Goebbels children when she heard a shot coming from Hitler’s den. With regard to Magda Goebbels’ intentions, there are conflicting reports. Albert Speer believed that, ‘… she found the idea that her children had to die unbearable, but she submitted, it seemed, to her husband’s decision.’ Two close co-workers of the propaganda minister, however, claimed they had overheard Goebbels suggest to his wife that she flee to the West since they had nothing to fear from the British. April 30, 1945 Death: At 3:30 PM, Adolf Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, commit suicide in their private quarters under the Chancellery. Their bodies are taken above ground by Hitler’s aides, burned with difficulty due to the conditions and the limited supply of gasoline, and buried in a shallow grave formed from a bomb crater. Kempka, Goebbels, Bormann, Krebs, Linge, and Burgdorf give one last Nazi salute to their Fuehrer, before an exploding Soviet shell sends them scurrying back down into the Bunker. (Read) From Napoleon and Hitler: A Comparative Biography by Desmond Seward:During the Emperor’s flight from Russia in 1812 he speculated as to what the Allies would do if they caught him. ‘Can you picture to yourself, Caulaincourt, the figure you would cut in an iron cage, in the main square of London?’ He then had a fit of hysteria. Hitler had no illusions. He knew that he would be put on show and then executed…in the one chivalrous gesture of his entire life, he married Eva Braun. Next day both retired to their bedroom to die. Clutching a photograph of his mother, the Fuehrer shot himself, while Eva took poison. Amid his own ruin in 1814 Napoleon confided in a loyal supporter ‘My dear fellow, if the Cossacks reach the gates of Paris it’s the end of Emperor and Empire.’ As it was, Tsar Alexander’s Cossacks stabled their horses in Paris. In 1945 Stalin’s Cossacks rode into Berlin. Neither capital need have entertained them had it not been for their rulers’ madness. Determined to escape from a war on two fronts, both had been destroyed by such a war. April 30, 1945: Goebbels presides at his first and last situation conference as Reich Chancellor. Bormann proposes that the 300 to 500 troops around the Bunker spearhead a breakout through the Soviet lines to link up with Doenitz, but Goebbels rules it out. He decides instead to send General Krebs to the Soviet lines under a white flag with a truce proposal. (Read) April 30, 1945: Bormann and Goebbels again radio Doenitz, without informing him that Hitler is already dead: The Fuehrer has appointed you, Herr Admiral, as his successor in place of Reichsmarschall Goering. Confirmation in writing follows. You are hereby authorized to take any measures which the situation demands. (Shirer) April 30, 1945: The bizzare turn of events catching him completely off guard, Doenitz, in shock, has absolutely no desire to succeed Hitler. Believing that Hitler is still alive, he replies to the previous message from the Fuehrer Bunker with as much encouragement as he can muster: MY FUEHRER! My loyalty to you will be unconditional. I shall do everything possible to relieve you in Berlin. If fate nevertheless compels me to rule the Reich as your appointed successor, I shall continue this war to an end worthy of the unique, heroic struggle of the German people. (Shirer) April 30, 1945: The Red Army captures the Reichstag at 10:50 PM, hoisting the first of more than forty victory flags, though no photograph can be taken due to the late hour. Various Soviet military units will unfurl and photograph an assortment of flags, of which the one above is the ‘official’ victory flag, photographed early on the morning of May 1. German artillery will knock it down later that same morning, and it will be replaced in the afternoon only to be taken down on May 3 and eventually shipped to Moscow. May 1, 1945: An announcement is made on the German wireless: Announcer: It has been reported from the Fuehrer’s headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon in his battle headquarters at the Reich Chancellery, fallen for Germany, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism. On the 30th of April the Fuehrer nominated Grossadmiral Doenitz to be his successor. The Grossadmiral and Fuehrer’s successor will speak to the German nation.” Doenitz: “German men and women, soldiers of the German Armed Forces. Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler is dead. The German people bow in deepest sorrow and respect. Early he had recognized the terrible danger of Bolshevism and had dedicated his life to the fight against it. His fight having ended, he died a hero’s death in the capital of the German Reich, after having led an unmistakably straight and steady life. From Adolf Hitler and the German Trauma by Robert Edwin Herzstein: Bormann made sure that the news of Hitler’s death was not broadcast until he had made one last desperate attempt to achieve supreme power for himself. First he attempted to manipulate and control Admiral Doenitz, who was still at liberty in northern Germany. Bormann informed Doenitz that he would soon join him in Flensburg. This never occurred … When Hitler’s death was announced, it was done in the true spirit of National Socialism; false heroism and blatant lies. The slow movement of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony was played, along with Siegfried’s ‘Funeral Music’ by Wagner. Then it was announced that ‘Adolf Hitler has fallen at his command post in Berlin after fighting with his last breath against the Bolsheviks.’ This was consistent with Nazi rhetoric, for in April Nazi and SS officials had scrawled all over the walls of beleaguered Berlin: ‘Berlin remains German.’ ‘Our walls are broken but not our hearts,’ ‘SS believes in the Fuehrer.’ If Hitler had indeed committed suicide and had not fought the Russians to the very end, it might appear as if he had irresponsibly and pusillanimously tricked and betrayed the millions who had taken an oath of allegiance to him in one form or another. May 1, 1945: Martin Bormann’s fifteen year old son and namesake had been enrolled in the Nazi-elite school, Feldafing, but the school had closed its doors April 23. He was provided with 100 RM, false identification papers (under the name of Martin Bergmann), and transportation to a hideout near Salzburg. Martin the Younger will later tell Gitta Sereny: It was a small inn and a very small Stube. We sat on benches tightly packed together. It’s impossible now to convey the atmosphere. The worst moment was when, at two o’clock in the morning on May 1, the news of Hitler’s death came through on the radio. I remember it precisely, but I can’t describe the stillness of that instant which lasted…for hours. Nobody said anything, but very soon afterwards people started to go outside, first one—then there was a shot. Then another, and yet another. Not a word inside, no other sound except those shots from outside, but one felt that that was all there was, that all of us would have to die. (Picking up a gun, Martin walks outside.) My world was shattered; I couldn’t see any future at all. But then, out there, in the back of that Inn, where bodies were already lying all over the small garden, there was another boy, older that I—he was eighteen. He was sitting on a log and told me to come sit with him. The air smelled good, the birds sang, and we talked ourselves out of it. If we hadn’t had each other at that moment, both of us would have gone—I know it. (Note: He will live to become a jesuit father.) (Sereny) May 1, 1945: General Krebs meets with Zhukov, but returns empty handed after refusing to agree to an unconditional surrender. Note: Only Reichskanzler Goebbels now has the authority to agree to an unconditional surrender. May 1, 1945: Magda Goebbels combs out the hair of each of her six children (ages 5 to 13) and dresses them for bed. Rochus Misch will later tell Gitta Sereny: It was only just after 5 PM when Frau Goebbels walked past me followed by the children. They were all wearing white nightgowns. She took them next door. An orderly arrived carrying a tray with six cups and a jug of chocolate. Later somebody said it was laced with sleeping pills. I saw her hug some, stroke others as they drank it. I don’t think they knew about their Uncle Adolf’s death; they laughed and chatted as always. A little later they passed me on their way upstairs, Heidi last, her mother holding her hand. Heidi turned around. I waved to her, she waved back with one hand, and the suddenly, letting go of her mother’s hand, she turned all the way around and, bursting into that happy clear laugh of hers, she scraped one forefinger along the other and chanted that little rhyme she always sang when she saw me: ‘Misch, Misch, you are a fish.’ (Misch, Misch, Du bist ein Fisch.) Her mother put her arm around her and pulled her gently up the steps, but she went on chanting it. I still hear it now. After the children have fallen asleep, Magda—her husband is not present and does not participate—assists Hitler’s personal physician, Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger, as he administers lethal injections to all six of the children. After ensuring their demise—and apparently struggling with her oldest daughter who, it seems, had not been slumbering sufficiently to sleep through the pain of the fatal injection—Magda leaves the room and sits down to play solitaire. (Sereny) May 1, 1945: Albert Speer hears of Hitler’s death. Annemarie Kemp will later tell Gitta Sereny: I think it was raining on May 1. Anyway, we were inside our living room trailer when the phone rang. It was Doenitz. One of us took the call – I don’t remember if it was me or Edith; he didn’t ask to speak to anyone in particular. As I remember he just said, ‘The Fuehrer is no longer alive,’ and then hung up. I remember I felt, well, taken aback, because of course, I hadn’t known. Were we sad? Oh, I don’t know. We were no longer in a state of mind where the word ‘sad’ could apply. Germany was in tatters. There was no future, and now he was dead too. Speer left a few minutes later to join Doenitz at Ploen. (Sereny) May 1, 1945: Doenitz receives another radio message signed by Goebbels and Bormann: The Fuehrer died yesterday, 1530 hours. In his will dated April 29 he appoints you as President of the Reich, Goebbels as Reich Chancellor, Bormann as Party Minister, Seyss-Inquart as Foreign Minister. The will, by order of the Fuehrer, is being sent to you and to Field Marshal Schoerner and out of Berlin for safe custody. Bormann will try to reach you today to explain the situation. Form and timing of announcement to the Armed Forces and the public is left to your discretion. Acknowledge. From Doenitz’s testimony before the IMT: This radio message first of all contradicted the earlier radio message which clearly stated: “You can at once do everything you consider to be right.” I did not and as a matter of principle never would adhere to this second radio message, for if I am to take responsibility, then no conditions must be imposed on me. Thirdly, under no circumstances would I have agreed to working with the people mentioned, with the exception of Seyss-Inquart. In the early morning of 1 May I had already had a discussion with the Minister of Finance, Count Schwerin von Krosigk, and had asked him to take over the business of government, insofar as we could still talk about that. I had done this because in a chance discussion, which had taken place several days before, I had seen that we held much the same view, the view that the German people belonged to the Christian West, that the basis of future conditions of life is the absolute legal security of the individual and of private property. …the legitimate successor would have been the Reich Marshal; but through a regrettable misunderstanding a few days before his appointment, he was no longer in the game, and I was the next senior officer in command of an independent branch of the Wehrmacht. I believe that was the determining factor. That fact that the Fuehrer had confidence in me may also have had something to do with it. May 1, 1945: Joseph and Magda Goebbels commit suicide mere feet away from the partially burned and buried body of their Fuehrer. From The Devil’s Disciples by Anthony Read: At 8:15 PM Goebbels informed the SS guards that he and his wife intended to commit suicide out of the bunker in the open air. At least, he joked blackly, it would save the guards the trouble of having to carry the bodies upstairs. He put on his hat, scarf, long greatcoat and kid gloves, then offered his arm to his wife. Together they mounted the stairs to the bunker entrance. They planned to die in the same way as the Fuehrer; both had cyanide capsules, and Goebbels carried a Walther P-38 revolver. They stood together. Magda bit her capsule and slid to the floor. Her husband delivered the coup de grace, shooting her in the back of the head. Then he bit his own capsule, pressed the Walther’s muzzle to his temple and fired. The SS guards doused the bodies with petrol and set fire to them. They burned through the night, but were only partially destroyed – there had not been enough petrol left to do the job properly. As soon as the bodies were alight, the escape parties gathered their things and rushed for the exit, in a mad scramble led by Bormann. Soon, there were only three people left, Krebs, Burgdorf and the commander of the SS bodyguard, Hauptstrumfuehrer Schedle. They had all decided to shoot themselves. Those who left met with mixed fortunes. A few, including the three secretaries, managed to make their way safely to the West. Some were captured by the Soviets, and spent years in harsh captivity. Most were killed, including Bormann, who only got as far as the Lehrter rail station on Invalidenstasse before he and his companion, Dr Stumpfegger, came under fire and ended their lives with cyanide capsules to avoid being captured. Their bodies were buried under the rubble and were not discovered and identified until many years later. May 1, 1945: Following Goebbels’ suicide, Doenitz becomes the sole representative of the crumbling German Reich. Ribbentrop offers his services, but Doenitz refuses outright (he will be captured by the Allies on June 14). Count Ludwig Graf Schwerin-Krosigk, in addition to discharging his duties as Foreign Minister and Minister of Finance, is appointed by Doenitz to form the temporary government and preside over the activities of its cabinet as Reichskanzler. Himmler attempts to make a place for himself in the new regime, but to no avail, ultimately. The Doenitz government will not be recognized by the Allies and will be more or less ignored. In his memoirs, Doenitz will write: “Now, most clearly, I recognized the evil side of National Socialism and so changed my attitude to the form of state created by it.” (Read, Manvell) From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer: The leaders of the (German) Army, the Air Force and the SS, he (Hitler) believed, had betrayed him, had cheated him of victory. So his only possible choice of successor had to be the leader of the Navy, which had been too small to play a major role in Hitler’s war of conquest. This was a final jibe at the Army, which had done most of the fighting and lost most of the men killed in the war. There was also (in Hitler’s Political Testament) a last parting denunciation of the two men (Goering and Himmler) who had been, with Goebbels, his most intimate collaborators since the early days of the party…Having expelled the traitors and named his successor, Hitler then proceeded to tell Doenitz whom he must have in his new government. They were all ‘honorable men,’ he said, ‘who will fulfill the task of continuing the war with all means.’ Goebbels was to be the Chancellor and Bormann the ‘Party Minister’—a new post. Seyss-Inquart, the Austrian quisling and, most recently, the butcher governor of Holland, was to be foreign minister. Speer, like Ribbentrop, was dropped. But Count Schwerin von Krosigk, who had been Minister of Finance continuously since his appointment by Papen in 1932, was to retain that post. This man was a fool, but it must be admitted that he had a genius for survival. May 1, 1945: Doenitz issues his Order of the Day to the Armed Forces: I expect discipline and obedience. Chaos and ruin can be prevented only by the swift and unreserved execution of my orders. Anyone who at this juncture fails in his duty and condemns German women and children to slavery and death is a traitor and a coward. The oath of allegiance which you took to the Fuehrer now binds each and every one of you to me, whom he himself appointed as his successor. From Doenitz’s IMT Testimony: When on 1 May I became head of the State, circumstances were different. By that time the fronts, the Eastern and Western fronts, had come so close to each other that in a few days people, troops, soldiers, armies, and the great masses of refugees could be transported, from the East to the West. When I became head of the State on 1 May, I therefore strove to make peace as quickly as possible and to capitulate, thus saving German blood and bringing German people from the East to the West; and I acted accordingly, already on 2 May, by making overtures to General Montgomery to capitulate for the territory facing his army, and for Holland and Denmark which we still held firmly; and immediately following that I opened negotiations with General Eisenhower. The same basic principle—to save and preserve the German population—motivated me in the winter to face bitter necessity and keep on fighting. It was very painful that our cities were still being bombed to pieces and that through these bombing attacks and the continued fight more lives were lost. The number of these people is about 300,000 to 400,000, the majority of whom perished in the bombing attack of Dresden, which cannot be understood from a military point of view and which could not have been predicted. Nevertheless, this figure is relatively small compared with the millions of German people, soldiers and civilian population, we would have lost in the East if we had capitulated in the winter. Therefore, in my opinion, it was necessary to act as I did: First while I was still a soldier, to call on my troops to keep up the fight, and afterwards, when I became head of the State in May, to capitulate at once. Thereby no German lives were lost; rather were they saved… I said quite clearly in the first order that I would fight in the East until troops and refugees could be rescued from the East and brought to the West and that I would not fight one moment longer. That was my intention, and that is also clearly expressed in that order… I had to continue fighting in the East in order to rescue the refugees who were moving to the West. That is certainly very clearly stated. I said that we would continue to fight in the East only until the hundreds and thousands of families from the German eastern area could be safely transferred to the West… From the military point of view the war was absolutely lost, and there was then only the problem of saving as many human beings as possible, and therefore we had to continue resistance in the East. Therefore that resistance in the East had a purpose… Of course, in the fighting in the East during those few days there might be further losses, but they were necessary in order to save hundreds of thousands of refugees. May 1, 1945: Doenitz addresses the German people in a radio broadcast: The Fuehrer has nominated me as his successor. In full consciousness of my responsibilities I therefore assume the leadership of the German people at this fateful hour. My first task is to save German men and women from destruction by the advancing Bolshevist enemy. It is to serve this purpose alone that the military struggle continues. For as long as the British and the Americans continue to impede the accomplishments of this task, we must also continue to fight and defend ourselves against them. The British and the Americans in that case will not be fighting in the interests of their own peoples, but solely for the expansion of Bolshevism in Europe. From Speer’s IMT testimony: Only after 1 May 1945 did Doenitz try to act with reason, but it was too late… There is one loyalty which everyone must always keep; and that is loyalty toward one’s own people. That duty comes before everything. If I am in a leading position and if I see that the interests of the nation are acted against in such a way, then I too must act. That Hitler had broken faith with the nation must have been clear to every intelligent member of his entourage, certainly at the latest in January or February 1945. Hitler had once been given his mission by the people; he had no right to gamble away the destiny of the people with his own. Therefore I fulfilled my natural duty as a German. I did not succeed in everything, but I am glad today that by my work I was able to render one more service to the workers in Germany and the occupied territories. May 1, 1945: A mass breakout from the Fuehrerbunker occurs as Erich Kempka, Traudl Junge, Gerda Christian, Constanze Manzialy, Else Krueger, Otto Guensche, Johann Rattenhuber, Werner Naumann, Wilhelm Mohnke, Hans-Erich Voss, Ludwig Stumpfegger, Martin Bormann, Artur Axmann, Walther Hewel, Guenther Schwaegermann, and Armin D. Lehmann flee for their lives. May 2, 1945: A few days after killing the six Goebbels children—as well as Hitler’s dog, Blondi—SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger (above, right, Adolf Hitler’s personal physician since 1944), commits suicide at the Lehrter Bahnhof by taking cyanide alongside Bormann (above left, with his skull in between) while fleeing Berlin. May 2, 1945 Stalin to Truman: The Soviet Supreme Command has given instructions that whenever Soviet troops contact Allied troops the Soviet Command is immediately to get in touch with the Command of the US or British troops, so that they, by agreement between themselves, (1) establish a temporary tactical demarcation line and (2) take steps to crush within the bounds of their temporary demarcation line all resistance by German troops. (Churchill) May 2, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: US President Truman appoints Robert Jackson as chief US counsel for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. The Executive Order: …Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal… May 2, 1945: Speer, participating in what he will later call Doenitz’s ‘operetta government,’ is appointed Minister of Economics and Production. After obtaining a signed order from Doenitz to stop all demolition activities, he travels to Hamburg to make a live radio broadcast on the subject to the nation. (Read) From Fritzsche’s IMT testimony: I remained in Berlin, in violation of the order which I was given. When Hitler and his entourage took the way of suicide or fled toward the West, I was, to my knowledge, the only higher official to remain in Berlin. At that time I gathered together the employees of the highest Reich authorities, who had been left to their fate, in the ruins of my office. Hitler had left behind an order to fight on. The commander of Berlin could not be found. Therefore, as a civilian, I felt obliged to offer to the Russian Marshal Zhukov the capitulation. As I was sending off the emissaries who were to go across the battleline, the last military adjutant of Hitler appeared—General Burgdorff—and was going to shoot me in compliance with Hitler’s order. Nevertheless, we capitulated, even though it was signed by the commander, who had been found in the meantime. Thus, I believe I kept my oath, the oath which I had taken to the German people in the person of Hitler… The fact was that Hitler tried to use this defeat for the extermination of the German people, as Speer has now horribly confirmed and as I was able to observe during the last phase of the conflict in Berlin when, through deceit by raising false hopes, boys of 15, 14,13, and l2 years of age were equipped with small arms to fight against tanks and called into battle, boys who otherwise might have been the hope for future reconstruction. Hitler found escape in death, leaving behind him the order to keep on fighting. He also left behind him the official report that he had died in battle. I learned that he had committed suicide; and thus my last public statement, on 2 May 1945, was to let everybody know of this suicide, for I wanted to kill a Hitler legend in the bud. May 2, 1945: As Berlin falls to the Soviet Army, rocket scientist Werner von Braun and over 100 of his team flee to the relative safety of the American front. His brother and fellow rocket engineer, Magnus, spotting an American private from the US 44th Infantry Division, addresses the soldier in broken English: “My name is Magnus von Braun. My brother invented the V-2. We want to surrender.” (Braun) May 2, 1945: The British Second Army takes Luebeck and Wismar on the Baltic Coast. Canadian forces take Oldenburg; hostilities in Italy cease as Nazi troops surrender. May 2, 1945: From the Manchester Guardian: “Europe has never know such a calamity to her civilization and nobody can say when she will begin to recover from its effects.” (Kershaw) May 2, 1945: Rochus Misch, Helmuth Weidling, Hans Refior, Theodor von Dufving, and Siegfried Knappe take their final leave of the Fuehrerbunker. Generals Burgdorf and Krebs, SS Captain Schedle, and SS Lieutenant Stehr take their final leave of life by committing suicide. Only Erna Flegel, Werner Haase, and Johannes Hentschel remain hiding in the Fuehrerbunker. (Sereny) May 2, 1945: The Soviets capture what’s left of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. The remains of Hitler, Braun and two dogs (thought to be Blondi and her offspring Wulf) are discovered in a shell crater by Ivan Churakov of the 79th Rifle Corps. (Above: The empty gasoline cans utilized in the cremation attempts.) General Weidling, defense commandant of Berlin, surrenders the city to the Soviets. The Soviet Union announces that Berlin has surrendered to the 1st White Russian and 1st Ukrainian armies. Note: 80,000 men were killed taking Berlin, 275,000 wounded or missing in the lead up to the battle and in the battle itself. Two thousand Soviet tanks destroyed, 150,000 Germans killed. May 3, 1945: Doenitz invites all the civilian military commanders of the German occupied territories to Flensburg to coordinate a simultaneous surrender. (Heydecker) May 4, 1945: Goering, having finally talked his SS ‘captors’ into letting him go, writes a letter to Doenitz complaining of Bormann’s intrigues against him and his resultant loss of status. He offers his services as official German negotiator to Eisenhower—’as one marshal to another’—and reminds him of how well he had done in the past ‘in all the important negotiations abroad with which the Fuehrer always entrusted me before the war.’ ‘Moreover,’ he continues, ‘both Great Britain and America have proved through their press and radio, and in the declarations of their statesman over the last few years, that their attitude toward me is more favorable than toward all other political leaders in Germany.’ Doenitz never replies. (Read) May 4, 1945: An SS detachment burns Hitler’s Berghof. May 4, 1945: Hans Fritzsche, who has been in the hands of the Red Army since May 2, is made to identify the charred bodies of Goebbels and his family. It will be several days before he is informed that he is under arrest, then he will be transported to the infamous prison Lubyanka. He will undergo months of severe solitary confinement before ultimately ending up in Nuremberg. (Heydecker, Maser) May 4, 1945: The US 7th Army captures Hitler’s country retreat of Berchtesgaden as General LeClerc’s French 2nd Armored Division discovers Hermann Goering’s private train, loaded with priceless art objects, on a siding at the railway station. May 4, 1945 Holocaust: Liberation of the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg by the British Army. May 4, 1945 Churchill to Eden (San Francisco): I fear terrible things have happened during the Russian advance through Germany to the Elbe. The proposed withdrawal of the United States Army to the occupational lines which were arranged with the Russians and Americans in Quebec, and which were marked in yellow on the maps we studied there, would mean the tide of Russian Domination sweeping forward 120 miles on a front of 300 or 400 miles. This would be an event which, if it occurred, would be one of the most melancholy in history. After it was over and the territory occupied by the Russians, Poland would be completely engulfed and buried deep in Russian occupied lands. What would in fact be the Russian frontier would run from the North Cape of Norway, along the Finnish-Swedish frontier, across the Baltic to a point east of Luebeck, along the at present agreed line of occupation and along the frontier between Bavaria to Czechoslovakia to the frontiers of Austria, which is nominally to be in quadruple occupation, and half-way across that country to the Isonzo river, behind which Tito and Russia will claim everything to the east. This constitutes an event in the history of Europe to which there has been no parallel, and which has not been face by the Allies in their long and hazardous struggle. The Russian demands on Germany for reparations alone will be such as to enable her to prolong the occupation almost indefinitely. We have several powerful bargaining counters on our side, the use of which might make for a peaceful agreement. First, the Allies ought not to retreat from their present positions to the occupational line until we are satisfied about Poland, and also about the temporary character if the Russian occupation of Germany, and the conditions to be established in the Russianized or Russian-controlled countries in the Danube valley, particularly Austria and Czechoslovakia, and the Balkans. Secondly, we may be able to please them about the exits from the Black Sea and the Baltic as part of a general settlement. All these matters can only be settled before the United States armies in Europe are weakened. If they are not settled before the United States armies withdraw from Europe and the Western World folds up its war machines there are no prospects of a satisfactory solution and very little of preventing a third World War. It is to this early and speedy showdown with Russia that we must now turn our hopes. Meanwhile I am against weakening our claim against Russia on behalf of Poland in any way. I think it should stand where it was put in the telegrams from the President and me. (Churchill) May 4, 1945: Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering surrenders to the Allies. Note: Goering will be sentenced to death at the first Nuremberg Trial. From The Face Of The Third Reich by Joachim C Fest: In the final phase of his life he (Goering) suffered from profound illusion. In April 1945 he had been dismissed with ignominy from all his posts, arrested, and bequeathed a curse. But when he heard of Hitler’s death, he was, his wife recalled, ‘close to despair’ and exclaimed, ‘He’s dead, Emmy. Now I shall never be able to tell him that I was true to him till the end!’ In much the same way as Himmler, he hoped to be accepted by the Allies as a partner in negotiations. As General Bodenschatz has testified, soon after his capture by the Americans his main concern was the proclamation which he intended to make to the German people as soon as he had reached a satisfactory agreement with Eisenhower. His claim to the leadership of the Reich after Hitler’s death was indisputable in his view. Even at Nuremberg he compelled his fellow prisoner the Grand Admiral Doenitz to admit that he owed his own ‘nomination as the Fuehrer’s successor solely to coincidence’. And if Goering defended himself before the International Court of Justice with striking skill and some aggressiveness, behind which some of the old elemental force of his personality could be felt, it was because of his conviction that his role as leader placed greater responsibility upon him than upon the other prisoners. Obstinately and at times not without success, he tried to command them, to influence their statements, and to establish a regime which Speer referred to angrily as ‘Goering’s dictatorship’. At last, after so many years, so many blows and humiliations, for a brief and fruitless span he had reached his goal: to be the First Man and ‘Nazi Number One’, as he called himself. May 4, 1945: Hans Frank is captured by American troops at Tegernsee near Berchtesgaden. Upon his capture, and after a severe beating from two American soldiers, he tries to cut his own throat. Two days later, he will lacerate his left arm in a second unsuccessful suicide attempt. Note: Only Streicher, of all the other defendants, will be similarly mistreated in captivity. (Maser) May 4, 1945: Fedor von Bock, General Field Marshal with monarchist sympathies who had been permanently retired by Hitler, is killed in an Allied bombing raid. May 4, 1945: Field Marshal Montgomery announces that all enemy forces in the Netherlands, Northwest Germany and Denmark have surrendered unconditionally. May 5, 1945: In Austria, French politicians Reynaud and Daladier and former Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg, imprisoned by the Nazis, are released. The poet Ezra Pound is arrested in Italy for treason. The Soviets take Swinemuende and Peenemuende on the Baltic coast, where V1 and V2 rockets were launched, to find that all the leading German rocket scientists have evacuated with the Americans. (Menaul) May 5, 1945: Himmler assembles his SS chieftains to deliver a farewell address, hinting that he still has some great destiny ahead of him. After passing out cyanide capsules all around, Himmler shaves off his mustache, puts on an eyepatch and a Field Security Police uniform, arms himself with a fake ID, and tries to slip away in the confusion. He will eventually commit suicide by cyanide capsule after he is apprehended on May 23. May 5, 1945 Stalin to Churchill: …we cannot be satisfied that persons should be associated with the formation of the future Polish Government who, as you express it, are not fundamentally anti-Soviet, or that only those persons should be excluded from participation in this work who are in your opinion extremely unfriendly towards Russia. Neither of these criteria can satisfy us. We insist, and shall insist, that there should be brought into consultation on the formation of the future Polish Government only those persons who have actively shown a friendly attitude towards the Soviet Union and who are honestly and sincerely prepared to cooperate with the Soviet State. It appears from your message that you are not prepared to regard the Polish Provisional Government as the foundation of the future Government of National Unity, and that you are not prepared to accord it its rightful position in that Government. I must say frankly that such an attitude excludes the possibility of an agreed solution of the Polish question. (Churchill) May 5, 1945 Truman to Stalin: Since you are well acquainted with the position of the US Government from the messages you have received from President Roosevelt and myself, I need hardly tell you that I agree with the views set forth in Mr. Churchill’s message of April 28 in regard to the reorganization of the Polish Government. I must tell you that any suggestion that the representatives of the present Polish Provisional Government be invited to San Francisco, conditionally or otherwise, is wholly unacceptable to the Government of the United States. For the United States to agree to such an invitation would mean to accept the present Warsaw Provisional Government as representative of Poland. This would be the equivalent to abandoning the agreement reached in the Crimea. (Churchill) May 5, 1945 Churchill to Eden (San Francisco): In the north Eisenhower threw in an American corps with great dexterity to help Montgomery in his advance on Luebeck. He got there with twelve hours to spare. There were reports from the British Naval Attache at Stockholm, which we are testing, that, according to Swedish information, the Russians have dropped parachutists a few miles south of Copenhagen and that Communist activities have appeared there. It now appears there were only two parachutists. We are sending in a moderate holding force to Copenhagen by air, and the rest of Denmark is rapidly being occupied from henceforth by our fast-moving armored columns. I think therefore, having regard to the joyful feeling of the Danes and the abject submission and would-be partisanship of the surrendered Huns, we shall head our Soviet friend off at this point too. You will by now have heard the news of the tremendous surrender that has been made to Montgomery of all Northwest Germany, Holland, and Denmark, both as regards men and ships. The men alone must be more than a million. Thus in three successive days 2,5000,000 Germans have surrendered to our British commanders. This is quite a satisfactory incident in our military history. Ike has been splendid throughout. We must vie with him for sportsmanship. (Churchill) May, 5 1945: Prominent German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoeller is liberated by the Allies from Nazi captivity. From Doenitz’s IMT testimony: I had no connections with anybody who had been sent to a concentration camp; with the exception of Pastor Niemoeller. Pastor Niemoeller was a former comrade of mine from the Navy. When my last son was killed, he expressed his sympathy; and on that occasion I asked him how he was… I received the answer that he was all right… I received this information through a third person. May 5, 1945: Admiral Karl Doenitz orders all U-boats to cease offensive operations and return to their bases. German Army Group G surrenders to the Americans at Haar in Bavaria. Mauthausen concentration camp, together with satellite camps at Gunskirchen and Ebensee, become the last concentration camps to be liberated by the Allies. The US War Department announces that 400,000 men will remain in Germany as an occupation force. From Khrushchev Remembers by Nikita Khrushchev: I remember one day in Kiev getting a call from Zhukov. He was jubilant. ‘Soon I’ll have that slimy beast Hitler locked up in a cage,’ he said. ‘And when I send him to Moscow, I’ll ship him by way of Kiev so you can have a look at him.’ I wished Zhukov every success. I knew that with him commanding the front, our offensive was in good hands. Then, after Germany capitulated, Zhukov called me again and said, ‘I won’t be able to keep my promise after all. That snake Hitler is dead. He shot himself, and they burned his corpse. We found his charred carcass.’ Thus ended the great epic of our people’s war against the Hitlerite invaders. We were overjoyed at the destruction of our enemy, and we felt a lofty moral satisfaction with our victory. The words of Alexander Nevsky rang in our ears: ‘He who comes to us with a sword shall perish by the sword.’ I should have known better, but I decided to call Stalin in order to congratulate him on the capitulation of Germany. When he answered the phone, I said, ‘Comrade Stalin, permit me to congratulate you on the victory of our armed forces and our people over the German army.’ And what was his response? He cut me off rudely and said I was wasting his time. I was simply dumbfounded. I rebuked myself for having called him in the first place. I knew what sort of person he was, and I should have expected exactly what happened. As I have already said, Stalin was a good actor. He was pretending now that since the war was over and done with, he was already thinking about other, more important matters; why should I waste his time talking about yesterday when he was straining his mind, thinking about tomorrow? He acted as though he weren’t in the least surprised by our victory. He wanted me to think that he had known all along how the war would turn out. But I knew better. I had watched him during moments of crisis. I knew that during the war he had been even more worried and afraid than the people around him. May 6, 1945: An Allied CIC team working with the US 80th Division’s 319th Regiment arrest Ernst Kaltenbrunner’s wife on an estate in the Austrian town of Strobl. Under interrogation, she informs them that her husband had been with her as recently as May 3. Note: Kaltenbrunner will be captured on May 12 and ultimately be sentenced to death for War Crimes at Nuremberg. May 6, 1945: Constantin von Neurath is arrested in the French occupation zone; the only Nuremberg defendant captured by the French. Note: The Americans now have ten defendants in custody, the British five, while three are in joint US/UK custody and the Soviets hold two.) From Bodyguard of Lies by Anthony Cave Brown: When the war finally ended, the fate of the German General Staff, once so mighty, resembled the collective fate of the Emperors of Byzantium. During his twelve years as Fuehrer, Hitler created twenty-six Field Marshals and Grand Admirals. Few escaped his own fury, and those who did survive did not escape the retribution of the Grand Alliance. All either were shot, committed suicide, were compelled to commit suicide, or were jailed by the Allies. The Chiefs of the General Staff fared no better. All suffered similar ends. Of the estimated 2,500 generals of the Wehrmacht, 786 are known to have died in the war. Of these, 253 were killed in action, 44 died of wounds, 61 committed suicide, 23 were executed by Hitler, 41 were executed by the Allies for war crimes, and 326 died of other or unknown causes. Those captured by the Americans or the British were imprisoned; of those captured by the Russians, many died in jail. The toll among the SS generals was even greater. Thirty-two were killed in action; four died of their wounds; two were executed by Hitler for treason; fourteen were executed by the Allies for war crimes; five died from unrecorded causes; nine died from natural causes while on duty; eight died in jail; four were executed by the West German government; and sixteen committed suicide. Thus ninety-four of the generals of the inner cabal of Nazism died, from all causes, but most significant was the number of suicides—the ultimate signal of fear and despair—both in the Army and the SS. Ninety-seven German generals died by their own hands. In the Kaiser’s war, Germany lost 63 generals in combat and 103 through other causes; only 3 committed suicide. May 7, 1945: Alfred Jodl signs the instruments of unconditional surrender in Reims as representative for Karl Doenitz. Jodl receives permission to make a statement: With this signature the German people and the German Armed Forces are, for better or worse, delivered into the hands of the victors…In this hour I can only express the hope that the victor will treat them with generosity. From Keitel’s IMT testimony: I can say that I was a soldier by inclination and conviction. For more than 44 years without interruption I served my country and my people as a soldier, and I tried to do my best in the service of my profession. I believed that I should do this as a matter of duty, laboring unceasingly and giving myself completely to those tasks which fell to me in my many and diverse positions. I did this with the same devotion under the Kaiser, under President Ebert, under Field Marshal Von Hindenburg, and under the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler… As a German officer, I naturally consider it my duty to answer for what I have done, even if it should have been wrong. I am grateful that I am being given the opportunity to give an account here and before the German people of what I was and my participation in the events which have taken place. It will not always be possible to separate clearly guilt and entanglement in the threads of destiny. But I do consider one thing impossible, that the men in the front lines and the leaders and the subleaders at the front should be charged with the guilt, while the highest leaders reject responsibility. That, in my opinion, is wrong, and I consider it unworthy. I am convinced that the large mass of our brave soldiers were really decent, and that wherever they overstepped the bounds of acceptable behavior, our soldiers acted in good faith, believing in military necessity, and the orders which they received. May 7, 1945: The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany as Keitel signs an unconditional surrender in Berlin. May 8, 1945 VE Day: Churchill announces the end of the war in Europe: …The Germans are still in places resisting the Russian troops, but should they continue to do so after midnight they will, of course, deprive themselves of the protection of the laws of war, and will be attacked from all quarters by the Allied troops. It is not surprising that on such long fronts and in the existing disorder of the enemy the orders of the German High Command should not in every case be obeyed immediately. This does not, in our opinion, with the best military advice at our disposal, constitute any reason for withholding from the nation the facts communicated to us by General Eisenhower of the unconditional surrender already signed at Rheims, nor should it prevent us from celebrating to-day and to-morrow (Wednesday) as Victory in Europe days. Today, perhaps, we shall think mostly of ourselves. Tomorrow we shall pay a particular tribute to our Russian comrades, whose prowess in the field has been one of the grand contributions to the general victory. The German war is therefore at an end…