GERMANY: Adolf Hitler's Last Hours

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In Berchtesgaden, last week, Gerhard Herrgesell, stenographer to Germany's Supreme Headquarters Staff, told TIME Cor respondent Perci-ual Knauth the story of the last recorded conferences which the Supreme Command held, in a little bomb proof room deep in the earth under the Berlin Chancellery: "I Must Die Here." Said Herrgesell: "The decisive briefing which determined the fate of all of us began at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of April 22 and lasted until nearly 8 o'clock that evening. At this briefing Adolf Hitler declared that he wanted to die in Berlin. He repeated this 10 or 20 times in various phrases. He would say: 'I will fall here' or T will fall before the Chancellery' or 'I must die here in Berlin.' He reasoned that the cause was irretrievably lost, in com plete contrast to his previous attitude, which had always been: 'We will fight to the last tip of the German Reich.' "What reasons motivated his change of heart no one knows. He expressed the fact that his confidence was shaken. He had lost confidence in the Wehrmacht quite a while ago, saying that he had not gotten true reports, that bad news had been withheld from him. This afternoon he said that he was losing confidence in the Waffen SS, for the first time. He had always counted on the Waffen SS as elite troops which would never fail him. Now he pointed out a series of reports which he declared were false."

This, and the failure of the 55 troops to hold the Russians north of Berlin. Herrgesell said, had apparently convinced Hitler that his elite troops had lost heart. "The F&252hrer always maintained that no force, however well trained and equipped, could fight if it lost heart, and now he felt his last reserve was gone."

Nerve Control. "During all this time participants in this conference were changing constantly. Hitler himself was generally composed. Every time he really began to get angry or excited, he would quickly get himself under control again. His face was flushed and red, however, and he paced the floor almost constantly, walking back & forth, sometimes smacking his fist into his hand. But of all the participants at all the conferences, the F&252hrer was generally the one who kept his nerves best under control.

"The really decisive conference took place in late afternoon. It lasted only about 15 minutes. Present were Hitler, Martin Bormann, successor to Hess as the F&252hrer's personal representative, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and Colonel General Alfred Jodl. All others were sent away except the two stenographers.

''Hitler again expressed his determination to stay in Berlin, and said he wanted to die there. He thought it would be the greatest service he could render to the honor of the German nation. In this conference his desire to stay in the Chancellery was violently opposed. Keitel spoke to him in really sharp terms, reminding him that his new attitude was contradictory to his former plans. Bormann supported Keitel no less strongly."

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