Across Berlin, people are destroying evidence of any link to the Nazis. Posters or photographs of the Führer are smashed and thrown with the rubble on the streets. Women are throwing out their photographs of the men they love because they are wearing German army uniform.
The immediate post-war world will not have
a good word to say about me - but later histories will treat me justly. You will all experience things
that you cannot even imagine!'
Hitler sits down for lunch with Constanze Manziarly and the two secretaries, Gerda Christian and Traudl Junge. Eva Hitler has no appetite and has stayed in her room with her maid Liesl Ostertag.
Everyone around the table maintains an artificial composure, as they twirl the plain spaghetti around their forks and prod and prod the cabbage and raisin salad. Hitler gives a monologue on the future of Germany and the difficulties that lie ahead.
'The immediate post-war world will not have a good word to say about me - histories will treat me justly. You will all experience things that you cannot even imagine.'
As he drones on the secretaries feel a mounting tension. They are desperate to get away. After the meal, as soon as they politely can, they slip off to find somewhere to smoke a cigarette in peace
Eva Hitler has chosen a black dress with white roses around the neck, one of her husband's favourites. Liesl has pressed it and now coiffing Eva's hair.
This is not inside the Führerbunker,sic.
At the Königsplatz, in central Berlin, the Russian 150th Rifle Division are diving for cover. They have not yet succeeded in crossing the moat in front of the Reichstag. They have come under heavy fire from the rear as the anti-aircraft guns from the Zoo Tower, two kilometers away, have been turned upon them. Hundreds of Russian soldiers have been killed. The survivors are forced to wait until nightfall.
However, beyond Königsplatz, the German defence fighters have been utterly unable to stop the flow of tanks and heavy artillery over Moltke Bridge into the city centre. Supported by these big guns, the Russians are systematically emptying the buildings around the square to isolate the German fighters in the rear.
Picture of the Reichstag Ruins:
The restoration done in the 1950’s was only minimal as the building could not be used as the seat of government for West Germany (the Reichstag was just at the Berlin Wall and West German politicians didn’t want to have their seat of government in tiny enclave in the East)
In the Führerbunker, the switchboard operator Rochus Misch i9s sick with panic, in order to stretch his legs he has just been over to the new Reich Chancellery where he saw three men in the corridor. Two hr recognized as high-ranking SS officers, but it was the sight of the man they were flanking that terrified Misch. The thin, pale man with close-set eyes is Heinrich Müller, aka Gestapo Müller, chief of the Gestapo. Misch can only think of two possible reasons for his arrival - either he has come to shoot the eyewitnesses to Hitler' death or he has come to blow up the bunker with a bomb.
Hitler and Eva Braun 20.4.1944 in better times looking at birthday presents
Admiral Dönitz has arrived at another police station 500 miles to the north where Heinrich Himmler has set up his headquarters. Hanna Reitsch has made it clear that Hitler want Himmler arrested, but Dönitz does not have the forces to overpower Himmler's SS guard. Himmler has kept Dönitz waiting, and finally appears with what Dönitz reckons must be every available SS officer. The room in Lübeck police station is packed. Himmler assures the Admiral that he has had no contact with Bernadotte, and has made no overtures to the Allies. He emphasizes that in these difficult times it is vital to avoid internal disputes. It suits Dönitz to take these assurances at face value.
The Goebbels children are playing quietly in heir bedroom in the upper bunker. in the corridor outside, Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge is sitting in an armchair smoking a cigarette. Otto Günsche comes up the stairs from the Führerbunker to call her. Come on, the Führer wants to say goodbye.' She quickly stubs out her cigarette and tries to waft away the smell Hitler disapproves of smoking, and hates the smell of cigarettes. He is always warning his staff that smoking causes cancer, a view many of them regards as eccentric.
Junge follows Günsche down to the Führerbunker corridor where Constanze Manziarly, Gerda Christian and other staff members have gathered together with Martin Bormann and Magda and Josef Goebbels. They wait for a few moments and the Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler emerge from his study.
Hitler walks very slowly. Junge thinks he is stooping more than ever. He shuffles from person to person proffering a quivering hand. When it comes to Junge's turn, she feels the warmth of his right hand, but she realizes that he is looking through her. He mutters something, but she can't take it in. She is numb, frozen. It's the moment that they have all been waiting for but now it has come she feels completely detached.
Eva Hitler approaches Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, and says, 'Thank you so much for everything you have done for the Führer.' She leans in and lowers her voice, should you meet my sister Gretl, please do not tell her how her husband met his death.' She doesn't want her to know that Hermann Fegelein was executed on Hitler's orders.
Then Eva goes over to Traudl Junge and jolts her out of her daze by hugging her. 'Do your best to get out, Eva says, 'It may still be possible. And give Bavaria my love.' She is smiling but her voice catches.
Josef Goebbels stands before Adolf Hitler. He is suddenly desperate. He has sworn his loyalty unto death to the Führer. He has demonstrated it by bringing his wife and children into the bunker to die alongside their leader, but the prospect now seems unbearable.
'Mein Führer', it is still possible to escape. You can oversee the war from Obersalzberg. Artur Axmann can arrange for the Hitler Youth to escort you safely from Berlin. Mein Führer, I beg you to consider...'
'Doctor, you know my decision. I am no going to change it. You and your family can of course leave Berlin'.
Joseph Goebbels raises his head and kooks the Führer in the eyes.
'We will stand by you and follow your example, Mein Führer.'
The two men shake hands. Then Hitler leans on Heinz Linge and retreats slowly to his study.
At the study doorway Hitler stops and turns to look at Linge. In the last six years, he has been at his master's suicide at all times. He has had a total of a week's leave,he has always travelled in the same vehicle as Hitler. He has always worn clothes which matched Hitler's - a uniform if Hitler was in uniform. civilian clothes if Hitler was in civilian clothes. Linge fixes his eyes on the 'hank of hair, as always, across the pale forehead'.
'I'm going to go now.' The Führer's voice is quiet and calm. You know what you have to do. Ensure my body is burned and my remaining possessions destroyed.' 'Jawohl mein Führer.'
'Linge, I have given the order for the breakout. You must attach yourself o one of the groups and try to get through to the west.'
Linge swallows. 'What is the point? What are we fighting for now?'
'For the coming man.'
It is not clear what he means, but Linge salutes. Hitler offers his hand. He looks exhausted, grey. Then the Führer raises his right arm his final salute. He turns to go into his study.
Traudl Junge is suddenly seized by a wild urge to get as far away as possible. She rushes out of the Führerbunker and towards the stairs to the upper bunker. There sitting silently, halfway up, are the six Goebbels children. No one has remembered to give them lunch. They want to find their parents and Auntie Eva and uncle Hitler.
Probably the last picture of Hitler looking at the destruction he leaves behind
'Come along,' says Junge, trying to keep her voice calm and light. 'I'll get you something to eat.'
She tells them to sit down at the table in the Vorbunker corridor and goes to the kitchen where she finds bread, butter and a jar of cherries.
The children's parents are still down in the Führerbunker. Magda Goebbels is embracing Eva Hitler. The relationship between Germany's first lady and the Führer's escort has always been awkward. Magda, 11 years older, has always been more dominant, more socially confident, but now, as they say goodbye, it is Magda who stands weeping and Eva, calm and controlled, who tries to comfort her. Eva then turns and joins her husband in his study.
Heinz Linge closes the door behind Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler and for a moment the corridor is quiet. Then suddenly there's a commotion. Magda Goebbels bursts out crying, begging to be allowed t see the Führer for a final time. Linge hesitates. Magda Goebbels is insisting that she has to have a personal conversation'. Linge goes through to ask Hitler if he will see her, and he agrees.
It is a very brief conversation, Like her husband, Magda is panicking as the reality of killing their children comes closer. She begs the Führer to leave the capital. If Hit;er goes then her husband will agree to go, and she will feel that she and the children can leave too. His refusal is brusque. She emerges from the room crying and Heinz Linge closes the heavy iron security door of the study behind Adolf and Eva Hitler for the last time.
Magda Goebbels and baby Helga
People start to drift away from the corridor. Linge goes up the stairs to the bunker for a quick breath of fresh air, but he doesn't hang around . He knows it won't be long.
In the Reich Chancellery canteen someone puts on a record and a group of soldiers and nurses start dancing. There is no longer a sense of day or night in this underground world. As their music drifts down, the dancers have no idea what is happening in the Führerbunker.
Hitler's adjutant, the gentle giant Otto Günsche, is standing guard outside the study. Goebbels, Bormann and several members of staff are hovering nearby, waiting for the sound of a gunshot.
There is a lull in the shelling. The only sound is the loud drone of the Diesel generator.
At the table of the upper bunker corridor the Goebbels children are wolfing down their lunch, watched by Traudl Junge. Helmut is particularly cheery. He loves hearing all the explosions knowing that they are safe: 'The bangs can't hurt us in the bunker.' There is the sound of a gunshot.
For a moment they all fall silent. Then Helmut shouts, 'Bulls-eye!'
Traudl Junge says nothing. She presumes it's the sound of the Führer's gun. She butters another slice of bread, and asks the children brightly what games they are planning to play after lunch.
Heinz Linge decided that they have waited long enough. He opens the door and enters the study. Bormann is close behind him. They find Hitler and his wife sitting side by side on the sofa. There are two pistols by Hitlers feet, the one he fired and the the one he kept as a reserve. He has shot himself through the right temple. His head leaning towards the wall. There is blood on the carpet, blood on the blue and white sofa. Eva is sitting on Hitlers right. Her legs are drawn up on the sofa, her shoes are on the floor. On the low table in front of them is the little brass box in which she had kept her cyanide phial. The poison has contorted her face.
Sofa in the Führerbunker being inspected by war correspondents
Bormann goes to fetch help and Linge lays out two blankets. As Linge lifts the Führer's body and lays it on one of the blankets he avoids looking at his face - an issue which the Russians will return again and again during the valet's ten years of interrogations as they seek to establish the details of the fatal gunshot.
War correspondents inspecting likely spot where Adolf Hitler and his wife had been incinerated
The Goebbels children go back to their bedroom to read and play. Traudl Junge helps herself to a glass of Steinhäger gin from a bottle that has been left on the table. She knows it's all over.
With the help of three SS guards, Linge carries Hitler's body up the steps to the Reich Chancellery garden. The Führer's head is covered by the blanket but his legs are sticking out. Martin Bormann lifts the wrapped body of Eva Hitler and carries her out into the corridor. Erich Kempka, who has just come up from the underground garages to deliver the petrol, takes the body. He doesn't to see her being held like a sack of potatoes by a man she so despised, he tells interviewers after the war. Kempka carries her to the stairs where Günsche, who is much bigger and stronger, takes over. He carries her out into the garden and lays her body besides Hitler's. In a spot about three meters from the bunker door.
Place where the bodies of Hitler and his wife Eva were cremated in the former Reichs Chancellery garden. The entrance to Hitler's bunker is in the immediate rear. ( Source: Pinterest picture)
Soviet shells are falling all around as Günsche and Linge pour the petrol over the bodies. Goebbels has brought matches, which Linge uses to light some paper, creating a torch. He hurls the burning paper towards the bodies and then races back to the bunker entrance. A fireball engulfs the bodies as he pulls the door behind him. The funeral party raise their arms and shout 'Heil Hitler' from the safety of the staircase.
Continued under Part 11/