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.
Tags: World war 2, WW2, hitler, axis, nazis, national socialists, world at war, death in the bunker, allies, soviets, communism, Berlin, wehrmacht, Waffen SS, luftwaffe, goring, joseph, goebbels, magda, suicide, death, endgame
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