Sunday, December 17, 2017

INSIDE HITLERS BUNKER - BERLIN APRIL 1945 Part 9/

                                               


 Sisi Wilczek finally arrives at her family home of Moosham Castle, near Salzburg. It has been snowing during the night and Sisi and her friend Missie Vassiltchikow, both wearing their restrictive nurses uniforms, had to dig the car out of a drift about an hour ago. Missie has worked with Sisi in Vienna but has never visited Moosham Castle before. She is amazed of the size of it - a medieval battlement surrounding an entire village. The Wliczeks are one of the richest families in the Hapsburg Empire. Sisi hands her parents the fortune contained in the shoe-box that she has managed to smuggle out of Vienna, and she and Missie collapse with exhaustion into a four-poster bed.

In Berlin heavy shelling shakes the Reich Chancellery bunkers.

In the basement of the Ministry of the Interior , the company of Russian soldiers of the 150th Rifle Division, who are going to lead the attack on the Reichstag, have finished their breakfast and are checking their weapons.

General Mohnke, commander of the Zitadelle (Citadel, the government district in central Berlin which includes the Reich Chancelleries, is summoned to Hitler's rooms in the Führerbunker. Hitler is sitting in a chair beside his bed wearing a black satin dressing gown on top of his nightshirt and soft leather slippers. He wants to know the latest on the Russian position.
  'They have reached thee Tiergarten, somewhere between 170 and 250 feet from the Reich Chancellery. On all sides they are a few hundred yards of the Reich Chancellery but for now their progress has been halted.'
   'How long can we hold out?'
   'Twenty or 24 hours at most, Mein Führer.'
   'In the end these decadent Western democracies will fall.'
   'Jawohl mein Führer.'
   Hitler stands up and shakes Mohnke's hand.' Good luck and thank you. It wasn't only for Germany!'

Picture- Defending Berlin

          A Dead German SS-man

The first company of Russian soldiers from the 159th Rifle Division Battalions charge out of the Ministry of Interior, heading for the Reichstag across Königsplatz. The wide leafy square at the heart of Berlin's Government District is now cratered wasteland. The soldiers run for about 50 meters before they are thrown to the ground by hurricane of German fire from the Reichstag Building on one side, and from the Kroll Opera House on the other.  Meanwhile, a premature message of triumph is radioed to Moscow from General Shatilov, commander of the 150th Rifles. Stalin is informed that the Reichstag has been taken.
Picture:
A soldier of the Red Army raises the Russian flag above the
      Reichstag in Berlin as the city falls to the Allies in 1945

  A soldier of the Red Army raises the Russian flag above the Reichstag in Berlin as the city falls to the Red Army April 1945
  (A short delay was necessary, prior to taken this picture, for propaganda reason to ensure the soldier was a member of the Communist Part -  which the original soldier was not, sic)

The Russian company leading the attack on the Reichstag remains on the ground, trapped by the crossfire on the Königsplatz.
Another Division of Russian soldiers is sent to empty the embankment buildings behind the Kroll Opera House in order to surprise the German snipers from behind.

   For the second day in a row Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, finds that the Führer is already dressed and is lying on his bed, fully clothed in his uniform jacket and black trousers. Hitler gets up and comes to the door. He pauses puts his finger to his lips and shuffles quietly down the corridor. The three drinkers, Bormann and Generals Krebs and Burgdorf, are asleep on the benches outside his room. Beside them are bottles of Schnapps and loaded pistols, safety catches off. Both secretaries, Traudl Junge and Gerda Christian can be seen through the open doorway of the conference room where they are sleeping on camp beds.
Linge accompanies the Führer down the corridor to the switchboard room. Hitler radios a message to General Weidling, the new Commandant of Berlin, asking for an update on the military situation. The reply comes quickly: The Russians are in immediate proximity of the Government District.

Eva Hitler hurries up the concrete steps from the Führerbunker to the Reich Chancellery Garden. She has a sudden urge to see the sun once more'. The garden has been wrecked by shelling and the sky darkened by smoke from the battle of the Reichstag. She hesitates briefly before returning to her bedroom. She has barely slept.
Adolf Hitler follows his wife's example and heads up the steps to the Reich Chancellery Garden He climbs slowly, and as he reaches the top the sounds of shelling intensifies. He doesn't open the door, but turns around and makes his way back down.

Lieutenant Claus Sellier and his friend Fritz are packing their few belongings. They've decided that, although it is tempting to help Barbara and the girls on the farm, they should finish their mission and go to Traunstein to deliver the final package. Once that;s done, Claus is determined to go home.

In Berlin, in the upper bunker corridor, one of the kitchen orderlies is clearing the table of debris - glasses, bottles of Schnapps and cigarette ends left by the overnight drinkers - so that Goebbels children can have breakfast there. In the small room which the six children are sharing, Helga and Hilde, the two eldest girls are helping the younger ones to get dressed. They have now been in the bunker for one week and their clothes are getting rather grubby. The brought pajamas but no spare clothes, as their parents didn't expect them to be staying very long.
The Goebbels children are sitting around the upper bunker table, eating a breakfast of jam and butter bread. One thing that they all appreciate is that here in the bunker they are allowed as much food as they like. Their parents been very strict about keeping to the rations that ordinary Germans are allowed and in the fridge at home each child has had their own tiny labelled  ration of butter, milk and eggs to last them the week.
   Magda Goebbels is lying on her bed. She can hear the chat and clatter of the children from her room, but she can't face seeing them and has no appetite for breakfast.
iicture:
 Helga with her favorite parent.

            Helga and her favorite parent

  In the Bavarian Alps15-year-old Barbara has taken two young German lieutenants Claus and Fritz to an elderly neighbour so they can listeb to her radio and get news of the war.
  'I don't listen to it anymore.' the old lady says. 'All day long they play military music, and there are bits of news in between, but it is always the same. 'We're winning the war...' Yet in town they are saying there are American tanks on the autobahn. I don't know who to believe.'
   They all sit and drink milk and listen to a station broadcast from Rosenheim near Munich. The women is right - the newsreader says emphatically that the Germans are winning and Hitler is in control.
   A neighbour arrives - a tall, skinny farmer aged about 80. He has heard from the girls that the young officers need a lift to Traunstein. He's happy to take them to the door of the army provision headquarters.
'Maybe they'll trade their stores for my apples he jokes. 'They won't need what they've got for much longer.' The farmer also knows that it will be far safer for him to travel if he has two army officers in his truck.

In the public library on Berlin's Ravenneestrasse, 33-year-old teacher Willi Damaschke is hiding among the bookshelves. He had to flee his house a few days ago, and since then has been moving from place to place - last night he broke in through the library front door.
Outside the battle is raging. Damaschke looks at the spines of the books - August Winning's The Book of Science, Felix Timmerman's The Hermat Family, books by Wilhelm Scholz and Regina Holderbusch. Damaschke reflects on how he used to spend time among these shelves peacetime. Damaschke gets out a pocket diary from his coat. In it he writes, A wretched life! I'd like to get back to the house, but the courtyard's under heavy fire.'

On the other side of the city, Russian tanks and self-propelled gins are rolling over Moltke Bridge to support the infantry assaulting the Reichstag. The first company has suffered many casualties. The survivors are trapped. The sky above them is as black as night.

Martin Bormann rises from the corridor bench in the Führerbunker, nursing a handover. He He makes his way to the upper bunker to grab some sandwiches from the trolley in the corridor. He takes a couple to eat and stuffs some extras into his pockets.

Traunstein has recently been wrecked by Allied bombs and deserted. A farmer is driving Claus and Fritz through town. They tell him to pull up outside the headquarters of the town's military commander. Suddenly they hear a female voice inside yell 'American tanks are in town' then there is a single shot. The two men run inside and find the military commander slumped dead on the floor, the muzzle of his rifle still in his mouth.
Picture of Traunstein:

Image result for pinterest picture of traunstein bavaria



In Traunstein, Claus and Fritz are digging a grave for the town's military commander in his housekeeper's back garden..She is in tears, as she feels responsible for his death. She'd told him she'd heard that American tanks had arrived. As a proud officer who'd never recovered from defeat in the First World War, he could not bear the shame losing another war.

A white ox is walking through the rubble of the streets of Berlin. Through the bars of her basement window, 34-year-old Ruth Andreas-Friedrich watches it, transfixed by its large gentle eyes and heavy horns. Also watching the ox are other members of the small anti-Nazi resistance group she has helped found. For the past few days they have had little water and hardly any food.
They slip out of the basement as quickly as they can, grab the ox by its horns and pull it into a courtyard. They have brought knives with them.
In Berlin, the ox is lying in a pool of blood. It's surrounded by men, women and children shouting and screaming as they fight for the meat. Some have brought buckets to take away their spoils. No sooner had the beast slaughtered than people began to emerge out of the rubble. Ruth Anderson-Friedrich wonders if they could smell the blood. She stands back, watching.
'The liver belongs to me' someone growls.
'The tongue is mine!' someone else shouts as five people try o pull it out of the ox's throat.
Ruth walks away feeling utterly miserable. She writes later today in her diary, 'So that is he hour of liberation amounts to. Is this the moment we have awaited for 12 years? That we might fight over an ox liver?'
With the support of tank fire and the heavy artillery that has arrived over the Moltke Bridge into the heart of the capital, the 250th Rifle Division have reached the moat surrounding the Reichstag.

In the Führerbunker Eva Hitler is dressed, made up, ready, at a loose end. She asks Traudl Junge to come into her rom. 'I can't bear to be alone with my thoughts.'
It's hard to know what to talk about. They try to remember happier times. The spring in their home town of Munich. Eva Hitler suddenly leaps up and opens her wardrobe. She pulls out a silver fox fur which has been one of her favorite coats. She holds it towards Traudl Junge.'Frau Junge, I'd like to give you this coat as a goodbye present.' She fondles the soft fur. 'I always love seeing well-dressed women. I like the thought of you wearing it - I want you to have it now and enjoy it'. She holds the coat open and Junge slips her arms into the sleeves and pulls it around her. 'Thank you,' she says. She feels very moved, though she can't imagine where and when she might wear it.

Hitler shuffles along the corridor to the telephone switchboard. He pauses in the doorway. Misch stands up, awaiting orders, but there are none. Without saying anything, the Führer turns away and shuffles back to his room.
Hitler summons the military staff for the daily situation conference. General Weidling commandant of Berlin, leads the briefing. He is very pessimistic. 'Munition is running out. Air supplies have become impossible. Morale is very low. Fighting continues only in the city centre. The battle of Berlin will be over by veining.
Hitler is silent for a long time. Then he turns to General Mohnke who, at six in the morning, had suggested there might be 24 hours left. In a weary voice Hitler asks Mohnke his view. Mohnke nods heavily. He agrees with Weidling. Hitler pushes himself slowly out of his chair.
Weidling asks permission to ask a final question. If they run out of ammunition, will the Führer give permission for the remaining soldiers to attempt a breakout from the city? Hitler turns to General Krebs. Krebs agrees that permission to breakout should be given. Hitler then orders it to be confirmed in writing, that small numbers can attempt to break out so long it is clear that Berlin will never surrender.

Eva Hitler is in her bedroom with Liesl, choosing her final outfit.
The Goebbels children are playing in their  bedroom. Magda Goebbels is lying on her bed.
  Hitler sends for Bormann, his private secretary, to come to his study. Bormann, who has already started the day's drinking, stands before the Führer in the crumpled  suit he slept in.
Hitler begins, 'The time has come. Fräulein Braun and I will end our lives this afternoon.' He never called her Frau Hitler. I am giving Günsche instructions to cremate our bodies.'
  It is the conclusion Bormann has dreaded. He has made every effort to persuade the Führer to escape to Obersalzberg, but now he can only accept the inevitable.

Claus Sellier and Fritz have at last arrived at their final destination. For six days the two young Mountain Artillery officers have been on a mission to deliver vital documents, 'Guard them with your lives!' the commanding officer of their training school had told them. The army provision headquarters in Traunstein is deserted. At the gate there is an elderly cigarette=smoking guard who tells them that he base closed last week, and that today is his last day on duty, There is no one to receive Claus's documents.
Claus walks through the complex with its neat rows of tents, blankets, shoes and uniforms. In the room he disturbs a group of civilians helping themselves to equipment, who then flee through a hole in the fence.
The farmer who drove them to Traunstein can't believe there is so much in the stores. 'Is all  this unprotected? There's enough stuff for an Army... I'm glad that I brought you!'
Claus tells him to load up and take supplies for Barbara and the girls.'The farmer starts helping himself.
I'll come back tomorrow, and I'll bring a few friends.'

Hitler summons his adjutant Otto Günsche. Like Rochus Misch, Günsche is seen by others in the bunker as a gentle giant. They find his physical presence reassuring. He is six foot six and broad shouldered, a quiet, obedient man, with a long serious face.
Hitler tells him, 'It is time to get the petrol. Tell Kempka we need it now, urgently. I don't want to end up in some Moscow waxwork display.'
Hitler's voice is calm but his driver, Erich Kempka, can hear the panic in Günsche's voice when he calls the underground  garages.
In the kitchen in the upper bunker, Constance Manziarly is supervising the cooking of Hitler's last meal. There's a big pan of water coming to the boil for spaghetti and one of the orderlies is making a vinaigrette dressing for a salad. Like Hitler Manziarly is an Austrian. She started working for Hitler in Obersalzberg since 1943. She quickly became his favorite cook as she has been trained in the Viennese/Bavarian cuisine that Hitler loves. She is a plump, kind. effacing women who takes great trouble to prepare gentle vegetarian dishes which suit his delicate stomach and to bake the sweet, moist cakes he loves.

Forty kilometers away, in the village of Putting, Annemarie Cramer is settling into a lakeside holiday hut with her six children. It is a place she knows from pre-war family holidays. She and her children left their home near Breslau in January. Her husband, an academic turned ordinary soldier, Ernst Cramer, managed to get them onto the last plane to leave Breslau before the Russians arrived. It took them to Berlin, where they caught a train, which took two weeks to reach Bavaria. She feels very lucky that she has managed to get here with all the children. The train was absolutely packed and one of her sons had had to be heaved in through a window after the train had started moving. They had just passed through Traunstein station before it was destroyed by bombs. At least they didn't leave on foot, like many others she knows  on a ship like the Wilhelm Gustloff where so many thousands lost their lives.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H27992, Lazarettschiff "Wilhelm
      Gustloff" in Danzig.jpgPicture: The Wilhelm Gustloff Vessel



MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German military transport ship which was sunk on 30 January 1945 by Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea while evacuating German civilians, Nazi officials and military personnel from Gdynia (Gotenhafen) as the Red Army advanced. By one estimate, 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history

  Annemarie doesn't know that her husband has just been killed in a gun battle with Americans near Leipzig. He was a very reluctant soldier. As a teenager he had fought in the First World War and had been held in France as a prisoner of war.

In Traunstein, Claus and Fritz are digging a grave for the town's military commander in his housekeeper's back garden..She is in tears, as she feels responsible for his death. She'd told him she'd heard that American tanks had arrived. As a proud officer who'd never recovered from defeat in the First World War, he could not bear the shame losing another war.


In the Führerbunker Eva Hitler is dressed, made up, ready, at a loose end. She asks Traudl Junge to come into her rom. 'I can't bear to be alone with my thoughts.'
It's hard to know what to talk about. They try to remember happier times. The spring in their home town of Munich. Eva Hitler suddenly leaps up and opens her wardrobe. She pulls out a silver fox fur which has been one of her favorite coats. She holds it towards Traudl Junge.'Frau Junge, I'd like to give you this coat as a goodbye present.' She fondles the soft fur. 'I always love seeing well-dressed women. I like the thought of you wearing it - I want you to have it now and enjoy it'. She holds the coat open and Junge slips her arms into the sleeves and pulls it around her. 'Thank you,' she says. She feels very moved, though she can't imagine where and when she might wear it.

Hitler shuffles along the corridor to the telephone switchboard. He pauses in the doorway. Misch stands up, awaiting orders, but there are none. Without saying anything, the Führer turns away and shuffles back to his room.
Hitler summons the military staff for the daily situation conference. General Weidling commandant of Berlin, leads the briefing. He is very pessimistic. 'Munition is running out. Air supplies have become impossible. Morale is very low. Fighting continues only in the city centre. The battle of Berlin will be over by veining.
Hitler is silent for a long time. Then he turns to General Mohnke who, at six in the morning, had suggested there might be 24 hours left. In a weary voice Hitler asks Mohnke his view. Mohnke nods heavily. He agrees with Weidling. Hitler pushes himself slowly out of his chair.
Weidling asks permission to ask a final question. If they run out of ammunition, will the Führer give permission for the remaining soldiers to attempt a breakout from the city? Hitler turns to General Krebs. Krebs agrees that permission to breakout should be given. Hitler then orders it to be confirmed in writing, that small numbers can attempt to break out so long it is clear that Berlin will never surrender.

Eva Hitler is in her bedroom with Liesl, choosing her final outfit.
The Goebbels children are playing in their  bedroom. Magda Goebbels is lying on her bed.
  Hitler sends for Bormann, his private secretary, to come to his study. Bormann, who has already started the day's drinking, stands before the Führer in the crumpled  suit he slept in.
Hitler begins, 'The time has come. Fräulein Braun and I will end our lives this afternoon.' He never called her Frau Hitler. I am giving Günsche instructions to cremate our bodies.'
  It is the conclusion Bormann has dreaded. He has made every effort to persuade the Führer to escape to Obersalzberg, but now he can only accept the inevitable.

Claus Sellier and Fritz have at last arrived at their final destination. For six days the two young Mountain Artillery officers have been on a mission to deliver vital documents, 'Guard them with your lives!' the commanding officer of their training school had told them. The army provision headquarters in Traunstein is deserted. At the gate there is an elderly cigarette=smoking guard who tells them that he base closed last week, and that today is his last day on duty, There is no one to receive Claus's documents.
Claus walks through the complex with its neat rows of tents, blankets, shoes and uniforms. In the room he disturbs a group of civilians helping themselves to equipment, who then flee through a hole in the fence.
The farmer who drove them to Traunstein can't believe there is so much in the stores. 'Is all  this unprotected? There's enough stuff for an Army... I'm glad that I brought you!'
Claus tells him to load up and take supplies for Barbara and the girls.'The farmer starts helping himself.
I'll come back tomorrow, and I'll bring a few friends.'

Hitler summons his adjutant Otto Günsche. Like Rochus Misch, Günsche is seen by others in the bunker as a gentle giant. They find his physical presence reassuring. He is six foot six and broad shouldered, a quiet, obedient man, with a long serious face.
Hitler tells him, 'It is time to get the petrol. Tell Kempka we need it now, urgently. I don't want to end up in some Moscow waxwork display.'
Hitler's voice is calm but his driver, Erich Kempka, can hear the panic in Günsche's voice when he calls the underground  garages.
In the kitchen in the upper bunker, Constance Manziarly is supervising the cooking of Hitler's last meal. There's a big pan of water coming to the boil for spaghetti and one of the orderlies is making a vinaigrette dressing for a salad. Like Hitler Manziarly is an Austrian. She started working for Hitler in Obersalzberg since 1943. She quickly became his favorite cook as she has been trained in the Viennese/Bavarian cuisine that Hitler loves. She is a plump, kind. effacing women who takes great trouble to prepare gentle vegetarian dishes which suit his delicate stomach and to bake the sweet, moist cakes he loves.

                                                                       Continued under Part 10/