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hitler bunker, hitler's bunker, fuhrerbunker, hitler berlin bunker, hitler hideout
Associated Press
A U.S. soldier examines what's left of
Hitler's underground bunker in 1945.

On This Day: Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun Commit Suicide

April 30, 2011 06:00 AM
by Haley A. Lovett
On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler shot himself in the head in his bunker beneath Berlin, moments after Eva Braun, his wife of just one day, killed herself by ingesting cyanide.

Hitler’s Last Days in the Führerbunker

Long before his last days hiding in his bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler was aware that he would not win the war he had started. In March 1945, as the Allied armies closed in on Germany, Hitler had what remained of German industry, transportation and communication destroyed, wishing for the destruction of his country to take place alongside his own demise.

He had lived since January 1945 in the Führerbunker, an underground complex below the Chancellery buildings in Berlin. There he grew increasingly hysterical, and his staff tried to convince him to escape the bunker to keep the Reich alive. But he refused, deciding to stay to the bitter end. The Soviet army was already firing on the Chancellery buildings by April 27, and Hitler didn’t have enough of an army left to defend his own hiding place.

On April 28 an infuriated Hitler learned that Heinrich Himmler, one of his commanders, had attempted to surrender German armies to the Allies. Hitler then drafted his final will and statement, in which he blamed the Jews for everything that had gone wrong. Around midnight he married Eva Braun, his longtime mistress.

At his post-marriage celebration, “Hitler talked mostly of the past and of happier times. However, he admitted to her that he knew the war was lost,” writes the U.K. Security Service. “He added that he would never allow himself to be taken prisoner by the Russians but intended to shoot himself.”

On April 29, Hitler learned of the capture and execution of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. The next day, Hitler learned that the Soviet army was just blocks from his hideout.

He and his wife retired to their room. After hearing the sound of a gunshot, members of Hitler’s staff entered to find Hitler dead by gunshot wound to the head, and Eva Braun dead from eating a capsule of cyanide.

Artur Axmann, leader of the Nazi Youth, described in a 2005 interview: “Adolf Hitler sat on the right side of the sofa. His upper body was leaning slightly to the side, with the head slumping down. His forehead and face were very white, and a trickle of blood was flowing down. I saw Eva Braun next to Hitler on the sofa. Her eyes were closed. There was no movement. She had poisoned herself, and appeared to be sleeping.”

Hitler’s aides then covered the bodies in gasoline and burned them, but they were unable to completely destroy them. The bodies were buried in a bomb crater, where they were later discovered by Soviet troops.

Background: World War II

Hitler surprised the world when, on Sept. 1, 1939, his Nazi army invaded Poland and started World War II. In the beginning of the war, Hitler’s soldiers were successful because of their “blitzkrieg” strategy, which involved very quick deployment of many different types of soldiers on land and in the air. His army then moved on to invade a number of European countries including Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg and even France in 1940. Britain was able to hold its ground.

Although Hitler had made a pact of nonaggression with Soviet Russia before he invaded Poland, he broke this pact and invaded the country 1941 in an attempt to spread his “Final Solution” and the horrors of the Holocaust.

However, by the time he invaded Russia, the war had grown; the Allies now included the United States. Although Hitler claimed in October of 1941, just a few months after invasion, that the Soviet Union “would never rise again,” he had severely underestimated the power of the Soviet army and the severity of the winters in Russia, and his generals began to seek withdrawals. Hitler decided to take over all military command himself.

At the same time, Germany’s ally, Italy, was losing ground. By July of 1943 Mussolini’s reign was over and the Allied forces were gaining ground on Hitler’s army, which was now on the defensive.

By this time, many of the Nazi army generals were aware that Germany could not defeat its many enemies, and their frustration with Hitler led to a plot to kill him in 1944. The plot failed, but Hitler soon retreated to the Führerbunker in Berlin where he would spend his remaining days.

Questions Around Hitler’s Death

Because the bodies of Hitler and Braun were burned after their deaths, speculation remained about whether or not the two were actually dead. Many books have been written about that day, and some authors have claimed that either one or both of the pair had escaped. One author, without any evidence, claims that Braun escaped, and that Hitler’s death was not a suicide but a murder.

However doubts faded when, a decade ago, Soviet intelligence confirmed that the burned remains of the bodies had in fact been identified as Braun and Hitler, but were cremated and then put in the Elbe River.

A book written by journalists Ada Petrova and Peter Watson looked closely at the Soviet investigations of the deaths and found that perhaps it was Stalin who ordered that it be kept a secret that the bodies had been properly identified in 1945.

A year later another Soviet investigation found skull fragments at the burial site and concluded that the cause of Hitler’s death was officially a gunshot wound to the head, and not cyanide as they had at first thought.

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