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The Thousand Year Reich ended in 1945 with Hitler’s suicide

Posted in Famous news stories, Historical articles, History, War, World War 2 on Thursday, 30 May 2013

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This edited article about Adolf Hitler originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 273 published on 8 April 1967.

Hitler's bunker, picture, image, illustration

Discovering Hitler's bunker in Berlin by Angus McBride

At 10 o’clock on the evening of 1st May, 1945, the radio station at Hamburg in Germany interrupted its programme of music to make an important announcement. “Our Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism, fell for Germany this afternoon in his operational headquarters in the Reich Chancellery.”

In fact Hitler had died the day before, and he had died by his own hand and not as the result of enemy action.

By April, 1945, it was obvious to all except Hitler and a few of his fanatical advisers that the Second World War was ending in a total and terrible defeat for Germany. From each point of the compass, great armies were advancing into the heart of the country – British in the north, French in the south, Americans in the west and Russians in the East.

Hitler’s ‘operational headquarters’ were in a bunker, a series of underground rooms 50 feet deep in the ground. The Chancellery above them was now a burnt-out ruin but the concrete bunker would probably have withstood a direct hit even by one of the most powerful bombs then being used.

It was from the cramped rooms of the bunker that Hitler directed the war during its last days, but, by 20th April, Hitler’s 56th birthday, there was very little directing to be done. Communications were breaking down: hourly there came news of fresh disasters: the Russians were actually in the suburbs of Berlin.

Hitler’s military advisers urged him to leave Berlin, pointing out that, because he had taken over all military control, it was his duty to go where control could be exercised.

But Hitler now was incapable of rational action. Those who survived to report the nightmarish days in the bunker described him as having gone completely to pieces. He would scream into the telephone, ordering non-existent armies to come to the immediate relief of Berlin, or pace up and down, waving a tattered road map of the city, planning assaults upon the huge Russian army.

The lives of those with him hung by a thread. One high-ranking officer was summarily executed for attempting to escape from the bunker. Even those outside the bunker were not safe, for over them hung the threat of death from the still efficient secret police, should they be even suspected of wishing to negotiate with the enemy.

Ten days after his birthday, it was apparent even to Hitler that the end was at hand. The German army was still fighting, but Berlin itself was a ruin and it was obviously only a matter of hours before the Russians themselves would be above the bunker.

On 30th April Hitler committed suicide. Some of his entourage followed suit. The rest fled.

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