INSIDE HITLERS BUNKER - BERLIN APRIL 1945 Part 6/
Lieutenant Claus Sellier is is standing in the lobby of the Hotel 'Gasthaus zum Brau', which until yesterday was the temporary German Army Headquarters for the region. He is now dressed in full uniform of a member of the 9th Mountain Artillery Regiment. On his chest are medals that he won fighting the Russians in Hungary. Claus looks over the receptionist's desk and sees that the package he brought yesterday is still lying on the floor. unopened. Claus wonders if he should go around and open the package and check whether it contains what he assumes - a request for urgent supplies from his commanding officer. Instead he gives it a kick, then makes the sign of the cross over it. He's done all he can to complete the first part of the mission - although Claus can see that no one here is interested. In his room is the second package that must be delivered soon.
A Hitler Youth rummer appears in von Loringhoven and Boldt's office in the upper bunker to report that the Russian tanks are now about 500 meters from the Reich Chancellery.
Horses pull a heavy Russian gun as the Reichstag appears ghostly
Lieutenant Claus Sellier and his friend Fritz are walking out of the Austrian town of Lofer and heading for the German border and the Army Provision Headquarters in Traunstein to deliver their Small package - what Sellier suspect is a request for urgent supplies for their beleaguered training camp.
Claus feels free and strangely elated, since the Generals have all disappeared. They come across three German soldiers - one has a bandaged foot and is being helped by the others.
'Where are you going?' Claus asks the wounded soldier. 'Home to Berlin...' 'But that's 1000 kilometers! And you are limping - how will you get there?'
'What else can we do? We were told to leave the hospital and so we're going home. I don't care how far it is. Anyway - do we have a choice?'
'But there is a big battle around Berlin... Aren't you scared?'
The soldier shows Claus a letter from a doctor. It says, 'Released from the hospital. Do the best you can! We need the beds for the next bunch of wounded soldiers that comes in.'
'I am going home. I have a bed there - I hope.'
The three soldiers go their separate ways.
In the bedroom office in the upper Führerbunker, the monocled General Krebs is on the telephone to Army Headquarters in Berlin. He is told that the German defense is collapsing on all fronts. Then the line goes suddenly dead, the air balloon which supports the radio-telephone communications has been shot down. All telephone communication between Berlin and the outside world has ended.
Almost immediately a Hitler Youth runner arrives with news of a report that General Wenck's 12th Army is still holding out south-west of Berlin. Officers Boldt and von Loringhoven exchange glances. This could be the escape opportunity they have been waiting for. They need to convince General Krebs that they can do most good by breaking out and fighting with Wenck. They know that if there is any suspicion that they are trying to flee, they will be executed.
These kids from Hitler Youth were sent to defend Berlin in the last stages! They are mainly used as runners to deliver messages from the Führerbunker to the front.
Sixteen-year-old Armin Lehmann is one of the Hitler Youth Runners. Once the telephone line goes down he finds himself making several trips a day across Berlin's central street: Wilhelmstrasse, Taking messages between Army Headquarters and the Führerbunker.
Hitler's valet Heinz Linge knocks on Hitler's bedroom door. For the last six years it has been Linge's job to time the Führer getting dressed. Linge holds a stopwatch when Hitler shouts 'Los!' He sets it going and the dressing race begins. In he early days the faster he got dressed, the better the Führer;s mood, but as he becomes more disabled the game has become more of a rarity. This morning Hitler has completed the race before it has even begun. He is lying on his bed fully clothed. Except for his tie. There is a special ritual for the tie. Hitler stands in front of the mirror with his eyes closed. 'Los!'
As Linge does up the tie, Hitler counts the seconds. 'Fertig!' Hitler opens his eyes and checks the tie in the mirror.
Perhaps the last photograph of Hitler. Seen with his officers days before he died.
Hitler's barber, August Wollenhaupt, knocks and comes in to the bedroom. The Führer has already shaved himself, but Wollenhaupt attends to the hair and mustache which require fortnightly trimming. The mustache is designed to cover his unusually large nostrils. he style has come from America, where it is known as the toothbrush mustache. Both Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney sport them. In Bavaria it is known as a Rotzbremse. 'Snot Breaker'. Putzi Hanfstaengel, who knew Hitler from the beer hall of Munich in the 1920s, told him he should grow it right across the top of his mouth, 'Look at the portraits of Holbein and Van Dyck, the old masters would never have dreamed of such an ugly fashion.' Hitler replied, 'Don't worry about my mustache. If it's not the fashion now, it will be later, because I wear it.' By April 1945 it's brief period of popularity is very much over.
In the past the barber's work has also been timed, in a good-humored way. Wollenhaupt likes the Führer, finds him 'gentile'. softly spoken and appreciates the fact that he always asks after his family, and is interested to hear the word on the street.
Hitler's bedroom is small and simply furnished. The only ornaments are two framed photographs beside the bed. One is of his mother Klara who died when he was 17. The other is of his first and long-term driver, Emil Maurice. (Although they had a fallout as Maurice had an affair with Hitler's nice Geli Raubal, another factor was, that Maurice was of Jewish descent, which apparently did not bother Uncle Adolf, sic)
Linge administers cocaine drops to Hitler's right eye, which has been causing intense pain for the last few days, and has been problematic in bright light for many years. He also gives Hitler a packet of pastilles to suck throughout the day. These are Dr Koester's Anti-Gas Pills, which Hitler takes for his stomach cramps and flatulence. They contain a mix of two deadly strychnine and atropine (belladonna)
A week ago Hitler had furiously dismissed Theodor Morell, his personal doctor, accusing him
of trying to sedate him with morphine in order to whisk him out of the capital. More;; had, at
the earliest opportunity, flown out of the bunker himself and was now in Obersalzberg with Eva's family.
He left behind a cabinet of medicines and medical equipment including glucose and amphetamine injections,
which he had used daily to boost the Führer's energy. At one point Hitler was taking 28 different pills
and injections every day. Morell had been treating Hitler for nine years and, until his unexpected
dismissal, Hitler would hear no criticism of him. He recommended Morell to all the senior Nazis,
most of whom suffered from symptoms of stress, but Himmler, Göring and Speer all privately regarded
the nervous overweight doctor as a quack. Hitler himself was a hypochondriac but, as well as
numerous stress-related conditions was now suffering from a heart problem and Parkinson's disease.
Dr Theodor Morell
Linge always carries spare pastilles, and spare reading glasses. Although Hitler never wears glasses in public, at meetings, Linge later recalled, 'he would toy with them in his hands which often resulted in them getting broken when he got tense'.
Hitler sends Linge to bring Wulf, his favorite of the the puppies born to his Alsatian Blondi in the bunker. As was evident in the First World War when his only friend was a terrier he called Foxi, Hitler is a great dog lover. He is particularly attached to Blondi, whom he believes to be exceptionally cl
ever and sophisticated. In an interview given by Traudl Junge towards the end of her life, Hitler's secretary remembered that Blondi would provide Hitler with a whole evening's entertainment. She barks on command, and when he gives the order to 'sing' she produces a howl. Hitler is most proud of the fact that if he then instructs her to 'sing' like Zarah Leander' - the Swedish singer of a popular song 'Wunderbar', famed for her deep voice - Blondi gives a special deep howl. Hitler boasts about Blondi endlessly, telling everyone that she obeys his every word.
Adolf Hitler with Blondi at the Berghof
General Krebs asks von Loringhoven, the two officers who are planning their exit from the bunker, to update him on the morning's runner report in preparation for the midday situation conference with the Führer. They are ready with their maps and papers. Boldt points out the streets where the German forces are making strenuous efforts to hold back the Russians. The other news of the morning has been confusing and contradictory except for the report that Wenk's 12th Army is southwest of the capital.
Von Loringhoven takes his chance.
'General, would it be useful if Bolt and I were to make speedy contact with General Wenk? We could give him the true picture of the situation i Berlin and in the Reich Chancellery. We could urge him to break through to the city as soon as possible and could indeed guide him on the best route for his attack.'
Bolt nods. There is very little left for us to do here in the bunker now that the telecommunications are down.'
Krebs hesitates. He is not sure what the Führer will make of the plan. General Burgdorf suddenly appears. He's come t to see if Krebs wants a drink Burgdorf is much more enthusiastic about the officer's proposal than Krebs. He wants his adjutant Rudolf Weiss to go with them. Martin Bormann then comes in, he's also wondering about a drink.
General Krebs and Burgdorf form what von Loringhoven calls a triumvirate of drinkers with Martin Bormann. The three men are spending most of heir time sitting in the bunker corridors drinking Schnapps. From time to time they cruise over to the Reich Chancellery where a kind of mass hysteria , fueled by the endless supply of alcohol i the cellars, has led to a relaxing of sexual inhibitions. The young women in the Reich Chancellery are seen as fair game.
Burgdorf explains to Martin Bormann the idea of sending the three officers to General Wenk and, to the astonishment of Boldt and von Loringhoven . Bormann also likes the plan. Krebs is finally persuaded. Now the Führer must be convinced.
A young SS officer has stopped his truck behind Claus Sellier and his friend Fritz and shouts at them from the cab. The two men are instantly irritated by the officers attitude. Fritz shows his papers and says,I'm glad you can take us to Traunstein.'
'Sorry, I can't take you, I have no room.' The SS officer points to the men in the back of the truck. 'My orders are to take these soldiers to a position were the can defend the road.'
Fritz angerly pulls out a notebook and pen from his jacket pocket, saying. 'What is your name? State your rank and your Unit number! Did you ever read military regulations? It says you are supposed to help an officer who has an important mission, under any circumstances. Do I understand correctly that you're refusing to take us?' Stunned, the SS officer gets quickly out of the cab and salutes them
'Mein Führer'. General Krebs begins, there are three young officers who are keen to try and break out of Berlin and make contact with General Wenck so that they can update him the situation here and support the speedy attack of the 12th Army on the capital.'
There is a silence of several seconds before Hitler replies, he seems weary. It has been a difficult situation conference. All the reports are extremely discouraging.
'Where are these officers?'
Krebs gives him their names.
Who are Boldt, Weiss and von Loringhoven? Send them in.'
Standing at the back of the conference room, the Luftwaffe adjutant Nicolaus von Below listens carefully to what follows. Like these young officers he is desperate to find a way to survive. With the telephone lines down he has no means of connecting his pregnant wife and children on the Baltic coast.
The three officers file in and von Loringhoven sets out the plan. He is surprised how calm the Führer seems. He points out their possible route options on the large map laid out on the table. The second option involves traveling down the River Havel. Hitler immediately prefers it.
Von Loringhoven elaborates, 'Once we reach Pichelsdorf Bridge we will take a rowing boat and row up the river Havel, between the Russian lines as far as Wannsee Lake.'
Hitler interrupts, 'Bormann, supply these officers with a motor boat, otherwise they will never get through
Boldt feels a rush of panic. If the mission depends on Bormann obtaining a motor boat in the current circumstances it will never take place. But no one is supposed to contradict the Führer. Boldt has to risk it: 'Mein Führer, we will get hold of a motor boat ourselves and deaden the noise. I'm convinced that we will get through.' Hitler slowly stands up again. He shakes the three officers by the hand. 'Give my regards to Wenck. Tell him to hurry or it will be too late.'
A huge Russian 152 mm ML-20 gin batters Berlin
Boldt, von Loringhoven and Weiss are getting off on their mission to meet up with General Wenck. They leave the Führerbunkeer through the underground garage carrying maps, sub-machine guns, camouflage jackets, steel helmets and sandwiches from the dining-room trolley. Von Loringhoven cuts the red staff officer bands of his trousers. If they are caught by the Russians he won't his captors to know that he is Staff Officer rank.
The three men emerge from the exit on the Hermann Göringstrasse and are immediately forced to shelter from mortar attack., Moments later a round of machine gun fire whistles over heir heads, the the bullets embedded in the wall behind them. As they cross Hermann-Göringstrasse heading for the Tiergarten, they pass the first dead bodies, soldiers and civilians lying where they fell. The smell of decomposition is overwhelming.
Dead German Soldier near the Brandenburg Gate
Back in the Upper Bunker, Nicolaus von Below, the Luftwaffe adjutant who also hopes to leave is suggesting to General Burgdorf that would also be more useful if he were sent on a mission. Burghof tells him that that is a decision for Hitler. Von Below goes down to the Führerbunker and waits in the corridor to speak to the Führer.
Continued under Part 7/