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Stars and Stripes - Wednesday May 2, 1945 - page 1 / 1





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Stars and Stripes - Wednesday May 2, 1945

I t was a monumental downfall. Nazi Germany was losing the war and everything else. The country was collapsing. Hitler, its ruthless, criminal ruler, was falling apart too. The last few days of April 1945 saw the un- stoppable advance of the Soviet army into Berlin. Hitler, in the then sombre and stuffy atmosphere of the bunker under the German chancellery, could not escape the noise and tremors of the direct hits that the building was suffer- ing. Soviet forces, with their heavy artil- lery were closing in. Hitler’s once mighty army had disintegrated, his most trusted generals and friends were abandoning him, if not directly ignor- ing his orders. In this atmosphere Hitler designed his last grandiose coup de teatre: he married his long-standing girlfriend Eva Braun. They toasted with

champagne. It was a mixture of tragedy and perhaps a little happiness. But the impending doom could not be halted. The war was lost.

On April 29, Mussolini was executed, hanged upside down at a petrol station in Milan, then thrown into the gutter, spat on, kicked and abused. The news quickly reached the Berlin bunker.

The following day Hitler was sure that his time had come. He rejected the ad- vice of his aides to flee and save his life. But he knew there was nowhere he could hide. In the early afternoon of April 30, the newly-weds poisoned themselves, and to make sure, Hitler shot himself in the head. As he had asked explicitly in his will, his body was taken outside, doused with gasoline and burnt beyond recognition. He decided to choose death for himself and his wife "in order to es-

cape the disgrace of capitulation".

This is how the newspaper of the United States Army, in its German edi- tion printed in Frankfurt, reported the news: "Adolf Hitler, for 12 years the master of Germany and the man who set out to conquer the world,died yesterday afternoon, the German radio at Ham- burg announced last night. Declaring that Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz, com- mander-in-chief of the German Navy, was Hitler’s successor, the radio stated. "It is reported from Der Fuehrer’s head- quarters that Der Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, has fallen this afternoon at his com- mand post in the Reich Chancellery, fighting to the last breath against Bol- shevism and for Germany".

On the back page there was a picture of Hitler and Mussolini with this sar- castic headline: "Hitler joins his pal".

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