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 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 had 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.
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 poison.
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.
LAST WISH OF HITLER
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
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