At the beginning of 1945, it was clear to the military and most Nazi leaders that Germany would be defeated. In January the Allies, having liberated France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, were invading Germany itself. From the east, the Red Army of the Soviet Union was closing in as well. The Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, however, refused to accept this.
On the 16th January, he began living in the Fuhrerbunker, an air-raid shelter in Berlin. This would be the headquarters of Nazi Germany until the end of the war.
On April 30 Hitler committed suicide, along with Eva Braun, whom he had just married. The Soviet Army was less than 1,600 feet (500 meters) from the bunker.
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One of the closest people to Hitler was Heinz Linge, an SS officer who had served as Hitler’s chief valet from September 1939. In this interview, he talks about the Fuhrer’s last moments. He was with Hitler in the bunker, along with many soldiers, officers, servants, and secretaries.
Two days before April 30 Hitler told Linge of his suicide plans. He asked Linge to take his body and the body of his wife into the garden and burn them.
On April 30 Hitler took lunch with his secretaries. Hitler said farewell to his servants and staff. Eva Braun thanked Linge for his service. Hitler then retired to his study, where Linge asked him what he should do. Hitler replied that he had given an order for his troops to break through the Soviet siege, and Linge could escape to some unit still in action. When asked for whom he should fight now, Hitler replied, ‘for the coming man.’ Linge saluted and left.
Linge was the first to discover Hitler and Braun dead. They were taken to the garden and there burned as Hitler had ordered. A small group, including Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, and now Reich Chancellor by Hitler’s will, and Martin Bormann, Head of the Nazi Chancellery, watched and saluted the burning corpses.
Linge left the bunker on 1 May, but was captured by Soviet forces several days later. He was taken to Moscow, and there thrown into Lubjanka Prison. He was released in 1955, and died in 1980.
The 2004 movie Downfall depicts the last days of Hitler and his entourage in the Fuhrerbunker. The part of Heinz Linz is played by Thomas Limpinsel.
The Events Leading up to His Inevitable Fate
By the start of 1945, Germany’s military forces were falling apart, and the country itself was surrounded by the enemy on all sides. The Soviet Union had gained control over Poland in order to make their way to do the same with Berlin; the British and Canadian troops had crossed the Rhine and were making their way into the industrial center of Ruhr, and the American front in the South was invading upwards towards Mannheim and Mainz.
As all of these combined efforts were forcing the German offensive to crumble, by February, meetings between the Allies were being held to discuss putting an end to the war in Europe. By this time, however, Hitler had already been preparing for the end as well.
In January, once the Third Reich had all but disintegrated, Hitler began to retreat to his Fuhrerbunker, his safe haven in Berlin. From his hiding place, he was still making demands on his fellow Nazi officers to carry out operations to hold back the Allies.
Despite his best efforts, there was no stopping the sheer force of the manpower heading their way. By April, instructions to SS General Felix Steiner to bring in a force to rescue Berlin were never carried out, and Hitler fell into an almost nervous breakdown due to what he deemed the incompetency of his officers. At this point, Hitler had come to the realization that his war was actually lost.