Margaret Wölk was 25-years old when she began working at Adolf Hitler’s “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters. It was 1941. Her husband had been drafted for the war. Her apartment had been bombed so she went to live with her mother-in-law in Gross-Partsch (now Parcz), Poland.
Before the war, she had Jewish friends and lived a happy life. Things would change shortly after she traveled the 400 miles east of Berlin. Her mother-in-law lived less than two miles from Hitler’s Eastern Front headquarters. The mayor of the town was a devoted Nazi. Shortly after she arrived in town, he showed up with the SS and forced 15 women to be Hitler’s food tasters.
There were rumors that the British were trying to poison Hitler’s food so the women were picked up every day and driven to Wolf’s Lair were they were forced to eat everything that had been prepared for Hitler. An hour later, assuming they were all still healthy and alive, the Fuehrer would eat his meal.
The food was all bland vegetables and grains. Hitler did not eat meat. Many of the ladies would cry, not knowing if they were eating their last meal. And, later, with relief for having survived.
Security was so tight, Wölk never saw Hitler, just his dog, Blondi. Even so, she was raped one night by one of the SS officers.
On July 20, 1944, an attempt was actually made on Hitler’s life. A group of officers from the German army brought a bomb to a meeting in the Wolf’s Lair. Wölk and the other women heard the bang and felt a blast so strong it knocked them off of their seats.
The Nazis arrested and executed nearly 5,000 Germans who were suspected of being involved in the assassination plot. Wölk had to move into the Wolf’s Lair.
In 1944, as the Soviets were approaching, Wölk was able to escape with the help of a SS officer who was friendly to her. She was put on the train that Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister for the Nazis, traveled in. She returned to Berlin as it was being bombarded by the Allies.
In 1945, the Nazis surrendered to the Soviets. The younger women, like Wölk, tried to dress like old women but they were taken by the Soviet soldiers just the same. Their dresses were cut open and they would be kept captive and raped for two weeks.
Wölk always wanted to have a daughter. Because of her treatment during and after the war, she was never able to have children.
A British officer came to her aid and helped her in her recovery. When he returned to Britain after the war, he wrote and asked her to join him. She declined. She wanted to find out what had happened to her husband.
He finally came home to her in 1946 after being allowed to leave the Soviet prisoner-of-war camp he had been detained in. He weighed 100 pounds and had a bandage on his head. Wölk didn’t recognize him at first.
The couple got on with their lives even though the war had taken a toll on each of them. They could not escape the memories and nightmares of their experiences but they stayed together until Karl died almost 30 years ago, leaving Wölk alone with the memories.
She told no one about her experiences until 2012 when she gave an interview to a German television station and talked about the experiences she had during and after the war. Almost 70 years after those events, she could finally talk about them.