In April of 1945, Hitler moved into the Führerbunker, located 50
feet below the Chancellery buildings in Berlin. In this underground
complex containing nearly thirty rooms on two separate floors, Hitler
held daily briefings with his generals amid reports of the unstoppable
Soviet advance into Berlin. He issued frantic orders to defend Berlin with
armies that were already wiped out or were making a hasty retreat westward
to surrender to the Americans.
On April 22, during a three hour military conference in the bunker,
Hitler let loose a hysterical, shrieking denunciation of the Army and the
'universal treason, corruption, lies and failures' of all those who had
deserted him. The end had come, Hitler exclaimed, his Reich was a failure
and now there was nothing left for him to do but stay in Berlin and fight
to the very end.
His staff attempted without success to convince him to escape to the
mountains around Berchtesgaden and direct remaining troops and thus prolong
the Reich. But Hitler told them his decision was final. He even insisted
a public announcement be made.
Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels then brought his entire family,
including six young children, to live with Hitler in the bunker. Hitler
began sorting through his own papers and selected documents to be burned.
Personnel in the bunker were given permission by Hitler to leave. Most
did leave and headed south for the area around Berchtesgaden via a convoy
of trucks and planes. Only a handful of Hitler's personal staff remained
including his top aide Martin Bormann, the Goebbels family, SS and military
aides, two of Hitler's secretaries, and longtime companion Eva Braun.
On April 23, Hitler's friend and Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer,
arrived for his final meeting with the Führer. At this meeting Speer
bluntly informed Hitler that he had disobeyed the Führer's scorched
earth policy and had preserved German factories and industry for the post-war
period. Hitler listened in silence and had no particular reaction, much
to the surprise of Speer.
That afternoon Hitler received a surprise telegram from Göring
who had already reached safety in Berchtesgaden.
In view of your decision to remain in the fortress of Berlin, do you agree
that I take over at once the total leadership of the Reich, with full freedom
of action at home and abroad as your deputy, in accordance with your decree
of June 29, 1941? If no reply is received by 10 o'clock tonight, I shall
take it for granted that you have lost your freedom of action, and shall
consider the conditions of your decree as fulfilled, and shall act for
the best interests of our country and our people. You know what I feel
for you in this gravest hour of my life. Words fail me to express myself.
May God protect you, and speed you quickly here in spite of all.
An angry Hitler, prompted by Bormann, sent Göring a return message
saying he had committed "high treason." Although the penalty
for this was death, Göring was to be spared, due to his long years
of service, if he would immediately resign all of his offices. Bormann
then transmitted an order to the SS near Berchtesgaden to arrest Göring
and his staff. Before dawn on April 25, Göring was locked up.
The next day, April 26, Soviet artillery fire made the first direct
hits on the Chancellery buildings and grounds directly above the Führerbunker.
That evening a small plane containing female test pilot Hanna Reitsch and
Luftwaffe General Ritter von Greim landed in the street near the bunker
following a daring flight in which Greim had been wounded in the foot by
Soviet ground fire.
Once inside the Führerbunker the wounded Greim was informed by
Hitler he was to be Göring's successor, promoted to Field-Marshal
in command of the Luftwaffe.
Although a telegram could have accomplished this, Hitler had insisted
Greim appear in person to receive his commission. But now, due to his wounded
foot, Greim would be bedridden for three days in the bunker.
On the night of April 27, Soviet bombardment of the Chancellery buildings
reached its peak with numerous direct hits. Hitler sent frantic telegrams
to Keitel demanding Berlin be relieved by (now non-existent) armies.
The final blow came on the 28th when Hitler received word via Goebbels'
Propaganda Ministry that British news services were reporting SS Reichsführer
Heinrich Himmler had sought negotiations with the Allies and even offered
to surrender German armies in the west to Eisenhower.
According to eyewitnesses in the bunker, Hitler "raged like a madman"
with a ferocity never seen before. Himmler had been with Hitler since the
beginning and had earned the nickname "der treue Heinrich" (faithful
Heinrich) through years of fanatical, murderous service to his Führer,
who now ordered Himmler's arrest.
As an act of immediate revenge, Hitler ordered Himmler's personal representative
in the bunker, SS Lt. Gen. Hermann Fegelein, who was also the husband of
Eva Braun's sister, to be taken up to the Chancellery garden above the
bunker and shot.
Now, with the desertions of Göring and Himmler and the Soviets
advancing deep into Berlin, Hitler began preparing for his own death.
Late in the evening of the 28th he dictated his last will and a two-part
political testament (shown below) in which he expressed many of the same
sentiments he had stated in Mein Kampf back in 1923-24. He essentially
blamed the Jews for everything, including the Second World War. He also
made a reference to his 1939 threat against the Jews along with a veiled
reference to the subsequent gas chambers...
"I further left no one in doubt that this time not only would millions
of children of Europe's Aryan people die of hunger, not only would millions
of grown men suffer death, and not only hundreds of thousands of women
and children be burnt and bombed to death in the towns, without the real
criminal having to atone for this guilt, even if by more humane means."
Just before midnight he married Eva Braun in a brief civil ceremony.
There was then a celebration of the marriage in his private suite. Champagne
was brought out and those left in the bunker listened to Hitler reminisce
about better days gone by. Hitler concluded, however, that death would
be a release for him after the recent betrayal of his oldest friends and
By the afternoon of April 29, Soviet ground forces were about a mile
away from the Führerbunker. Inside the bunker the last news from the
outside world told of the downfall and death of Mussolini, who had been
captured by Italian partisans, executed, then hung upside down and thrown
into the gutter.
Hitler now readied himself for the end by first having his poison tested
on his favorite dog, Blondi. He also handed poison capsules to his female
secretaries while apologizing that he did not have better parting gifts
to give them. The capsules were for them to use if the Soviets stormed
About 2:30 in the morning of April 30, Hitler came out of his private
quarters into a dining area for a farewell with staff members. With glazed
eyes, he shook hands in silence, then retired back into his quarters. Following
Hitler's departure, those officers and staff members mulled over the significance
of what they had just witnessed. The tremendous tension of preceding days
seemed to suddenly evaporate with the realization that the end of Hitler
was near. A lighthearted mood surfaced, followed by spontaneous displays
of merry-making even including dancing.
At noon, Hitler attended his last military situation conference and
was told the Soviets were just a block away. At 2 p.m. Hitler sat down
and had his last meal, a vegetarian lunch. His chauffeur was then ordered
to deliver 200 liters of gasoline to the Chancellery garden.
Hitler and his wife Eva then bid a final farewell to Bormann, Goebbels,
Generals Krebs and Burgdorf, other remaining military aides and staff members.
Hitler and his wife then went back into their private quarters while
Bormann and Goebbels remained quietly nearby. Several moments later a gunshot
was heard. After waiting a few moments, at 3:30 p.m., Bormann and Goebbels
entered and found the body of Hitler sprawled on the sofa, dripping with
blood from a gunshot to his right temple. Eva Braun had died from swallowing
As Soviet shells exploded nearby, the bodies were carried up to the
Chancellery garden, doused with gasoline and burned while Bormann and Goebbels
stood by and gave a final Nazi salute. Over the next three hours the bodies
were repeatedly doused with gasoline. The charred remains were then swept
into a canvas, placed into a shell crater and buried.
Back inside the bunker, with the Führer now gone, everyone began
smoking, a practice Hitler had generally forbidden in his presence. They
next began collectively plotting daring (but fruitless) escapes out of
Berlin to avoid capture by the Soviets.
On the following day, May 1, Goebbels and his wife proceeded to poison
their six young children in the bunker, then went up into the Chancellery
garden where they were shot in the back of the head at their request by
an SS man. Their bodies were then burned, but were only partially destroyed
and were not buried. Their macabre remains were discovered by the Soviets
the next day and filmed, the charred body of Goebbels becoming an often
seen image symbolizing of the legacy of Hitler's Reich.
The Last Will of Adolf Hitler
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 paintings, 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,
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.
Given in Berlin, 29th April 1945, 4:00 A.M.
[Signed] A. Hitler
Dr. Joseph Goebbels
Colonel Nicholaus von Below
First Part of the Political
More than thirty years have now passed since I in 1914 made my modest
contribution as a volunteer in the First World War that was forced upon
In these three decades I have been actuated solely by love and loyalty
to my people in all my thoughts, acts, and life. They gave me the strength
to make the most difficult decisions which have ever confronted mortal
man. I have spent my time, my working strength, and my health in these
It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted the war in 1939.
It was desired and instigated exclusively by those international
statesmen who were either of Jewish descent or worked for Jewish interests.
I have made too many offers for the control and limitation of armaments,
which posterity will not for all time be able to disregard for the responsibility
for the outbreak of this war to be laid on me. I have further never wished
that after the first fatal world war a second against England, or even
against America, should break out. Centuries will pass away, but out of
the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred against those finally responsible
whom we have to thank for everything, International Jewry and its helpers,
Three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war I again proposed
to the British ambassador in Berlin a solution to the German-Polish problem
- similar to that in the case of the Saar district, under international
control. This offer also cannot be denied. It was only rejected because
the leading circles in English politics wanted the war, partly on account
of the business hoped for and partly under influence of propaganda organized
by International Jewry.
I have also made it quite plain that, if the nations of Europe are again
to be regarded as mere shares to be bought and sold by these international
conspirators in money and finance, then that race, Jewry, which is the
real criminal of this murderous struggle, will be saddled with the responsibility.
I further left no one in doubt that this time not only would millions of
children of Europe's Aryan people die of hunger, not only would millions
of grown men suffer death, and not only hundreds of thousands of women
and children be burnt and bombed to death in the towns, without the real
criminal having to atone for this guilt, even if by more humane means.
After six years of war, which in spite of all setbacks, will go down
one day in history as the most glorious and valiant demonstration of a
nation's life purpose, I cannot forsake the city which is the capital of
this Reich. As our forces are too small to make any further stand against
the enemy attack at this place and since our resistance is gradually being
weakened by men who are as deluded as they are lacking in initiative, I
should like, by remaining in this town, to share my fate with those, the
millions of others, who have also taken upon themselves to do so. Moreover
I do not wish to fall into the hands of an enemy who requires a new spectacle
organized by the Jews for the amusement of their hysterical masses.
I have decided therefore to remain in Berlin and there of my own free
will to choose death at the moment when I believe the position of the Führer
and Chancellor itself can no longer be held.
I die with a joyful heart, aware of the immeasurable deeds and achievements
of our soldiers at the front, our women at home, the achievements of our
farmers and workers and the work, unique in history, of our youth who bear
That from the bottom of my heart I express my thanks to you all, is
just as self-evident as my wish that you should, because of that, on no
account give up the struggle, but rather continue it against the enemies
of the Fatherland, no matter where, true to the creed of a great Clausewitz.
From the sacrifice of our soldiers and from my own unity with them unto
death, will in any case spring up in the history of Germany, the
seed of a radiant renaissance of the National Socialist movement and thus
of the realization of a true community of nations.
Many of the most courageous men and women have decided to unite their
lives with mine until the very last. I have begged and finally ordered
them not to do this, but to take part in the further battle of the Nation.
I beg the heads of the Armies, the Navy and the Air Force to strengthen
by all possible means the spirit of resistance of our soldiers in the National
Socialist sense, with special reference to the fact that also I myself,
as founder and creator of this movement, have preferred death to cowardly
abdication or even capitulation.
May it, at some future time, become part of the code of honor of German
Army officers - as is already the case in our Navy - that the surrender
of a district or of a town is impossible, and that above all commanders
must march ahead as shining examples, faithfully fulfilling their duty
Second Part of the Political
Before my death I expel the former Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring
from the party and deprive him of all rights which he may enjoy by virtue
of the decree of June 29th, 1941; and also by virtue of my statement in
the Reichstag on September 1st, 1939, I appoint in his place Grossadmiral
Dönitz, President of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed
Before my death I expel the former Reichsführer-SS and Minister
of the Interior, Heinrich Himmler, from the party and from all offices
of State. In his stead I appoint Gauleiter Karl Hanke as Reichsführer-SS
and Chief of the German Police, and Gauleiter Paul Giesler as Reich Minister
of the Interior.
Göring and Himmler, quite apart from their disloyalty to my person,
have done immeasurable harm to the country and the whole nation by secret
negotiations with the enemy, which they have conducted without my knowledge
and against my wishes, and by illegally attempting to seize power in the
State for themselves...[Hitler then names the members of the new government].
Although a number of men, such as Martin Bormann, Dr. Goebbels, etc.,
together with their wives, have joined me of their own free will and did
not wish to leave the capital of the Reich under any circumstances, but
were willing to perish with me here, I must nevertheless ask them to obey
my request, and in this case set the interests of the nation above their
own feelings. By their work and loyalty as comrades they will be just as
close to me after death, as I hope that my spirit will linger among them
and always go with them. Let them be hard but never unjust, but above all
let them never allow fear to influence their actions, and set the honor
of the nation above everything in the world. Finally, let them be conscious
of the fact that our task, that of continuing the building of a National
Socialist State, represents the work of the coming centuries, which places
every single person under an obligation always to serve the common interest
and to subordinate his own advantage to this end. I demand of all Germans,
all National Socialists, men, women and all the men of the Armed Forces,
that they be faithful and obedient unto death to the new government and
Above all I charge the leaders of the nation and those under them to
scrupulous observance of the laws of race and to merciless opposition to
the universal poisoner of all peoples, International Jewry.
Given in Berlin, this 29th day of April 1945, 4:00
Dr. Joseph Goebbels Wilhelm Burgdorf
Martin Bormann Hans