- Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression
- Vol. VI
Copy of document 3734-PS
8 October 1945
SUMMARY OF INTERROGATION
THE LAST DAYS IN HITLER'S AIR RAID SHELTER
Name: Fraulein Hanna Reitsch.
Rank: Flugkapiten [Captain of the Air — Honorary title given for
outstanding aeronautical achievement].
Date of birth: 29 March 1912.
Marital Status: Single.
Occupation: Test-pilot and aeronautical research expert.
Address: Leopolds Krone Castle, Salzburg, Austria.
Political Status: Non-party member.
Decorations: Iron Cross first class.
2. Introduction: This report is the story of the last days of the War as
they were experienced by Hanna Reitsch, the well known German test-pilot
and aeronautical research expert. Her story does not pretend to add any
sensational details to what is already known of those days; it is rather
an eye-witness account of what actually happened in the highest places
during the last
moments of the War. Her account ot the flight into Berlin to report to
Hitler and of her stay in the Fuehrer's bunker is probably as accurate a
one as will be obtained of those last days, although the "is he dead or
is he not dead" fate of Hitler is only answered to the extent of
describing the mental state and the hopelessness of the last-minute
situation, front which individual opinions must be drawn. Her own
opinion is that the tactical situation and Hitler's own physical
conditions made any thoughts of his escape inconceivable.
3. Her story is remarkable only in that she played a small part in the
events of the War's end and that she had personal contact with the
top-bracket Nazis as, that end descended upon then]. It is also of
interest as it is likely that Reitsch is one of the last, if not the
very last person who got out of the shelter alive. Het. information is
evaluated as reliable and it is possible that her story may throw some
light or perhaps serve as an aid to a fuller knowledge of what happened
during the last day., of Berlin and of the War.
4. At times she is not certain as to names and specific times. Names
escape her. In many cases the contacts herein related were quite limited
inasmuch as they have to do onIy with the last few days. Her times may
be inaccurate as the events of those days followed each other with such
tumult that she is often unable to remember the proper sequence of
5. It will be noted that much of the report concern.,; itself with the
Nazi and German interpretation of "honor." Reitsch herself, in answering
queries, carefully weighs the "honor" aspects of every remark and then
gives her answers carefully but truthfully. The use of the word amounts
practically to a fetish complex with the source and is almost an
incongruous embodiment of her entire philosophy. Her constant repetition
of the word is in no manner as obvious to her as it is to the
interrogator, nor is the meaning the same, nor does she recognize the
incongruous use she makes of the word. Therefore, each time "honor"
appears it is apologetically submitted in quotations.
6. She tells her story in conversational form, and although it is, in
part, reproduced in that manner here, no pretense is made that the
quotations are in all cases exact; they are simpIy given as she
remembers them. If it is kept in mind then that this material is a
statement of her own opinions and observations. the information may be
considered as completely reliable.
7. The Trip to Berlin: Hitler had sent a telegram to Munich on the 24th
of April to Lieutenant General Ritter von Greim,
instructing him to report to the Reichschancellery on a highly urgent
matter. The problem of getting into Berlin was then already a very
precarious one, as the Russians had practically encircled the city.
Greim however, decided that by availing himself of Hanna Reitsch as
pilot, the entrance might be accomplished by means of an autogiro, which
could land on the streets or in the gardens of the Reichschancellery.
8. During the night of the 25th to the 26th of April Reitsch and Greim
arrived at Rechlin, prepared immediately to fly into Berlin. As however,
the only available autogiro had been damaged that day, it was decided
that a Feldwebel pilot, who had taken Albert Speer to the Fuehrer two
days before. should fly Greim in because of the experience the previous
flight had given him. Some sense of responsibility to Greim, as his
personal pilot and friend, made Reitsch beg to be taken along. A
Focke-Wolf 190 was to be used, which had a pig-a-back space for one
passenger arranged behind the pilot's seat. Reitsch was stuffed into the
tail through a small emergency opening.
9. Forty fighters were taken to fly cover. Almost immediately upon
take-off they were engaged by Russian aircraft. A running, hedgehopping
flight got them to the Gatow airfield, the only Berlin field still in
German hands. Their own craft got through with nothing more than a few
wing shots but the cost was heavy to the supporting fighters.
10. The landing at Gatow was made through further heavy attacks by
Russian fighters who were strafing the field when they, arrived. What
was left of the German planes engaged the Russians while the Greim craft
made a successful landing. Immediately attempts were inade to phone the
Chancellery but as all the lines were out, it was decided to fly an
available FieslerStorch for the remaining distance and land within
walking distance of Hitler's shelter. With Greim at the controls and
Reitsch as passenger, the plane took off under a whirling cover of
German-Russian dog-fights. At a height of a few meters Greim managed to
get away from the Field and continue at tree-top level toward the
11. Street fighting was going on below them and countless Russian
aircraft were in the air. After a few minutes of flight, heavy fire tore
out the bottom of the plane and severely injured Greim's right leg. By
reaching over his shoulders, Reitsch took control of the craft and by
dodging and squirming closely along the ground, brought the plane down
on the East-West axis. Heavy Russian artillery and small-arm fire was
sheeting the area
witn snrapnei as they landed. A passing vehicle was commandeered to take
them to Hitler's shelter, with Greim receiving first aid for his
shattered foot on the way.
12. Arrival at Hitler's Shelter: Greim and Reitsch arrived in the bunker
between 6 and 7 o'clock on the evening of the 26th of April. First to
meet them was Frau Goebbels', who fell upon Reitsch with tears and
kisses, expressing her astonishment that anyone still possessed the
courage and loyalty to come to.the Fuehrer, in stark contrast to all
those who had deserted him. Greim was immediately taken to the operation
room where Hitler's physician tended the injured foot.
13. Hitler came into the sick room, according to Reitsch, with his face
showing deep gratitude over Greim's coming. He remarked something to the
effect that even a soldier has the right to disobey an order when
everything indicates that to carry it out would be futile and hopeless.
Greim then reported his presence in the official. manner.
14.Hitler's Denunciation of Goering:
Hitler: "Do you know why I have called you?"
Greim: "No, mein Fuehrer."
Hitler: "Because Hermann Goering has betrayed and deserted both me and
his Fatherland. Behind my back he has established connections with the
enemy. His action was a mark of cowardice. And against my orders he has
gone to save himself at Berchtesgaden. From there he sent me a
disrespectful telegram. He said that I had once named him as my
successor and that now, as I was no longer able to rule from Berlin he
was prepared to rule from Berchtesgaden in my place. He closes the wire
by stating that if he had no answer from me by nine-thirty on the date
of the wire he would assume my answer to be in the affirmative."
15. The scene Reitsch describes as "touchingly dramatic," that there
were tears in the Fuehrer's eyes as he told them of Goering's treachery,
that his head sagged, that his face was deathly pallid, and that the
uncontrolled shaking of his hands made the message flutter wildly as he
handed it to Greim.
16. The Fuehrer's face remained deathly earnest as Greim read. Then
every muscle in it began to twitch and his breath came in explosive
puffs; only with effort did he gain sufficient control to actually
17. "An ultimatum!! A Crass ultimatum!! Now nothing remains. Nothing
spared me. No allegiances are kept, no `honor' lived up to, no
disappointments that I have not had, no betrayals
that I have not experienced, and now this above all else. Nothing
remains. Every wrong has already been done me."
18. As Reitsch explains it, the scene was in the typical "et tu Brute"
manner, full of remorse and self-pity. It was long before he could
gather sufficient control to continue.
19. With eyes hard and half-closed and in a voice unusually low he went
on: "I immediately had Goering arrested as a traitor to the Reich, took
from him all his offices, and removed him from all organizations. That
is why I have called you to me. I hereby declare you Goering's successor
as OberbefehIshaber der Luftwaffe. In the name of the German people I
give you my hand."
20. "To Die For the 'Honor' of the Luftwaffe": Greim and Reitsch were
deeply stunned with the news of Goering's betrayal. As with one mind
they both grasped Hitler's hands and begged to be allowed to remain in
the bunker, and with their own lives atone for the great wrong that
Goering had perpetrated against the Fuehrer, against the German people,
and against the Luftwaffe itself. To save the "honor" of the flyers who
had died, to reestablish the "honor" of the Luftwaffe that Goering had
destroyed, and to guarantee the "honor" of their land in the eyes of the
world, they begged to remain. Hitler agreed to all of this and told them
they might stay and told them too that their decision would long be
remembered in the history of the Luftwaffe. It had been previously
arranged with operations at Rechlin that an aircraft was to come in the
next day to take Greim and Reitsch out of Berlin. Now that they decided
to stay it was impossible to get the information out. Rechlin, in the
meantime, was sending plane after plane, each shot down in turn by the
Russians. Finally on the 27th a JU 52, loaded with SS guards and
ammunition, managed to land on the East-West traffic axis, but because
Reitsch and Greim had intended to stay, was sent back empty. (The order
cashiering Goering was released from the underground headquarters
sometime on the 23rd of April.)
21. Hitler Sees the Cause As Lost: Later that first evening Hitler
called Reitsch to him in his room. She remembers that his face was
deeply lined and that there was a constant film of moisture in his eyes.
In a very small voice he said, "Hanna, You belong to those who will die
with me. Each of us has a vial of poison such as this," with which he
handed her one for herself and one for Greim. "I do not wish that one of
us falls to the Russians alive, nor do I wish our bodies to be found by
them. Each person is responsible for destroying his body so that nothing
recognizable remains. Eva and I will have our bodies
burned. You will devise your own method. Will you please so inform von
22. Reitsch sank to a chair in tears, not, she claims, over the
certainty of her own end but because for the first time she knew that
the Fuehrer saw the cause as lost. Through the sobs she said, "Mein
Fuehrer, why do you stay? Why do you deprive Germany of your life? When
the news was released that you would remain in Berlin to the last, the
people were amazed with horror. 'The Fuehrer must live so that Germany
can live,' the people said. Save yourself, Mein Fuehrer, that is the
will of every. German."
23. "No Hanna, if I die it is for the 'honor' of our country, it is
because as a soldier, I must obey my own command that I would defend
Berlin to the last. My dear girl, I did not intend it so, I believed
firmly that Berlin would be saved at the banks of the Oder. Everything
we had was moved to hold that position. You may believe that when our
best efforts failed, I was the most horror-struck of all. Then when the
encirclement of the city begain the knowledge that there were three
million of my countrymen still in Berlin made it necessary that I stay
to defend them. By staying I believed that all the troops of the land
would take example through my act and come to the rescue of the city. I
hoped that they would rise to super-human efforts to save me and thereby
save my three million countrymen. But, my Hanna, I still have hope. The
army of General Wenck's is moving up from the South. He must and will
drive the Russians back long enough to save our people. Then we will
fall back to hold again."
24. It appeared almost as if he believed this himself and as the
conversation closed he was walking about the roorn with quick, stumbling
strides, his hand clasped behind him and his head bobbing up and down as
he walked. Although his words spoke of hope, Hanna claims that his face
showed that the War was over.
25. Hanna returned to Greim's bedside, handed him the poison and then
decided with him. should the end really come, that they would quickly
drink the contents. of the vial and then each pull the pin from a heavy
grenade and hold it tightly to their bodies.
26. Late in the night of 26th to 27th of April the first heavy barrage
bracketed the Chancellery. The splattering of heavy shells and the
crashing of falling buildings directly above the air-raid shelter
tightened the nervous strain of everyone so that here and there deep
sobbing came through the doors. Hanna spent the night tending Greim, who
was in great pain, and in getting
Chancellery grounds before morning.
27. Hitler's Guests. in the Shelter: The next morning she was introduced
to the other occupants and learned for the first time the identity of
all those who were facing the end with the Fuehrer. Present in the
elaborate shelder on the 27th of April were Goebbels and his wife with
their six children; State Secretary Neaman: Hitler's right hand,
Reichsleiter Martin Bormann; Hevel from Ribbentrop's office; Admiral
Vosz as representative from Doenitz; General Krebs of the infantry and
his adjutant Bourgdorf; Hitler's personal pilot, Hansel Bauer; another
pilot Baetz; Eva Braun; SS Obergruppenfuehrer Fegelein as Liaison
between Himmler and Hitler and husband of Eva Braun's sister; Hitler's
personal Physician, Dr. Stumpfecker; Oberst von Below, Hitler's
Luftwaffe Adjutant; Dr. Lorenz representing Reichspresse chief Dr.
Dietrich for the German press; two of Hitler's secretaries, a Frau
Christian, wife of General der Flieger Christian and a Fraulein Kreuger;
and various SS orderlies and messengers. Reitsch claims that these
composed the entire assembly.
28. A regular visitor during the last days was Reichsjugendfuehrer Axman
who was commanding a Hitlerjugend division committed to the defense of
the city. From Axman came current information as to the ground situation
against the Russians which was well mirrored by the increasingly
despondent manner of each visit.
29. Another Betrayal: Late in the afternoon of the 27th
Obergruppenfuehrer Fegelein disappeared.Shortly thereafter it was
reported that he had been captured on the outskirts of Berlin disguised
in civilian clothes, claiming to be a refugee. The news of his capture
was immediately brought to Hitler who instantly ordered him shot. The
rest of the evening Fegelein's betrayal weighed heavily on the Fuehrer
and in conversation he indicated a half-way doubt as to Himmler's
position, fearing that Fegelein's desertion might have been known and
even condoned by the SS leader.
30. Observations on Shelter Occupants: Reitsch had little contact with
most of the people in the shelter, being mostly occupied in nursing von
Greim, but she did have the opportunity to speak to many of them and
observe their reaction, under the trying conditions of the last days in
the bunker. It is believed that she attempts to relate her observations
truthfully and that her reactions are honestly conceived. It must be
remembered that prior to her arrival in the bunker Reitsch had but
small contact with most of these individuals and that her previous
opinions regarding them were at a rather low level. Of the people she
was able to observe closely the Goebbels family probably stands out.
31. Doctor Goebbels: She describes Goebbels as being insanely incensed
over Goering's treachery. He strode about his small, luxurious quarters
like an animal, muttering vile accusations concerning the Luftwaffe
leader and what he had done. The precarious military situation of the
moment was Goering's fault. Their present plight was Goering's fault.
Should the war be lost, as it certainly now seemed it would be, that too
would be Goering's fault.
32. "That swine," Goebbels said, "who has always set himself up as the
Fuehrer's greatest support now does not have the courage to stand beside
him. As if that were not enough, he wants to replace the Fuehrer as head
of the State. He, an incessant incompetent, who has destroyed his
Fatherland with his mishandling and stupidity, now wants to lead the
entire nation. By this alone he proves that he was never truly one of
us, that at heart he was always weak and a traitor."
33. All this, as Hanna saw it, was in the best theatrical manner, with
much hand waving and fine gestures, made even more grotesque by the
jerky up-and-down hobbling as he strode about the room. When he wasn't
railing about Goering he spoke to the world about the example those in
the bunker were setting for history. As on a platform and gripping a
chair-back like a rostrum he said:
34. "We are teaching the world how men die for their 'honor.' Our deaths
shall be an eternal example to all Germans, to all friends and enemies
alike. One day the whole world will acknowledge that we did right, that
we sought to protect the world against Bolshevism with our lives. One
day it will be set down in the history of all time."
35. It appears that Goebbels exercised his greatest ability to the very
last. The rooms of Goebbels and Reitsch adjoined each other and doors
were usually open. Through them the Goebbels oratory would sound out at
any hour of the day or night. And always the talk was of "honor" of "how
to die," of "standing true to the Fuehrer to the last," of "setting an
example that would long blaze as a holy thing from the pages of
history." 36. One of the last things Reitsch remembers hearing from the
lips of the propaganda master was: "We shall go down for the glory of
the Reich so that the name of Germany will live
forever." Even Reitsch was moved to conclude that the Goebbels display,
in spite of the tenseness of the situation, was a bit overdrawn and out
and out theatrical. She claims that in her opinion Goebbels, then as he
always had, performed as if he were speaking to a legion of historians
who were avidly awaiting and recording every word. She adds that her own
dubious opinions regarding Goebbels' mannerisms, his superficiality, and
studied oratory, were well substantiated by these outbursts. She claims
too, that after listening to these tirades she and von Greim often asked
each other, with a sad, head-shaking attitude, "Are these the people who
ruled our country?"
37. Frau Goebbels: Frau Goebbels she described as a very brave woman,
whose control, which was at most times strong, did break down now and
then to pitiful spasms of weeping. Her main concern was her children,
and in their presence her manner was always delightful and cheery. Much
of her day was occupied in keeping the children's clothes clean and
tidy, and as they had only the clothes they wore this kept Frau Goebbels
occupied. Often she would quickly retire to her room to hide the tears.
It appears from Hanna's description that Frau Goebbels probably
represented the epitome of Nazi indoctrination.
38. If the Third Reich could not live she pref erred to die with it, nor
would she allow her children to outlive it. In recognition of the
example she embodied of true German womanhood, Hitler, in the presence
of all the occupants of the bunker, presented her with his personal
golden party insignia. "A staunch pillar of the 'honor' upon which
National Socialism was built and the German Fatherland founded," was his
approximate remark as he pinned it to her dress.
39. Frau Goebbels often thanked God that she was alive so that she could
kill her children to save them from whatever "evil" would follow the
collapse. To Reitsch she said, "My dear Hanna, when the end comes you
must help me if I become weak about the children. You must help me to
help them out of this lif e. They belong to the Third Reich and to the
Fuehrer and if those two things cease to exist there can be no further
place for them. But you must help me. My greatest f ear is that at the
last moment I will be too weak."
40. It is Hanna's belief that in the last moment she was not weak.
41. Conclusions that can be safely drawn from Hanna's remarks is that
Frau Goebbels was simply one of the most convinced subjects of her own
husband's rantings; the most pro-
nounced example of the Nazi influence over the women of Germany.
42. The Goebbels Children: The Goebbels children numbered six. Their
names and approximate ages were: Hela, 12; Hilda, 11; Helmut, 9; Holde,
7; Hedda, 5: Heide, 3. They were the one bright spot of relief in the
stark death shadowed life of the bunker. Reitsch taught them songs which
they sang for the Fuehrer and for the injured von Greim. Their talk was
full of being in "the cave" with their "Uncle Fuehrer" and in spite of
the fact that there were bombs outside, nothing could really harm them
as long as they were with him. And anyway "Uncle Fuehrer" had said that
soon the soldiers would come and drive the Russians away and then
tomorrow they could all go back to play in their garden. Everyone in the
bunker entered into the game of making the time as pleasant as possible
for them. Frau Goebbels repeatedly thanked Reitsch for making their last
days enjoyable, as Reitsch often gathered them about her and told them
long stories of her flying and of the places she had been and the
countries she had seen.
43. Eva Brawn: It seemed to Reitsch that Hitler's "girl friend" remained
studiously true to her position is the "showpiece" in the Fuehrer's
circle. Most of her time m-as occupied in finger nail polishing,
changing of clothes for each hour of the day, and all the other little
feminine tasks of grooming, combing, and polishing. She seemed to take
the prospect of dying with the Fuehrer as quite matter of fact, with an
attitude that seemed to say: "**** had not the relationship been of 12
long years duration and had she not seriously threatened suicide when
Hitler once wanted to be rid of her. This would be a much easier way to
die and much more proper **** ." Her constant remark was "Poor, poor
Adolf, deserted by everyone, betrayed by all. Better that ten thousand
others die than that he be lost to Germany."
44. In Hitler's presence she was always charming, and thoughtful of his
every comfort. But only while she was with him was she completely in
character, for the moment he was out of earshot she would rave about all
the ungrateful swine who had deserted their Fuehrer and that each of
them should be destroyed. All her remarks had an adolescent tinge and it
appeared that the only "good" Germans at the moment were those who were
caught in the bunker and that all the others were traitors because they
were not there to die with him. The reasons for her willingness to die
with the rest were similar to those of Frau Goebbels. She
was simply convinced that whatever followed the Third Reich would not be
fit to live in for a true German. Often she expressed sorrow for those
people who were unable to destroy themselves as they would forever be
forced to live without "honor" and reduced instead to living as human
beings without souls.
45. Reitsch emphasizes that Braun was very apparently of rather shallow
mentality, but she also agrees that she was a very beautiful woman.
Beyond fulfilling her purpose, Reitsch considers it highly unlikely that
Braun had any control or influence over Hitler. The rumor of the last
minute marriage ceremony Reitsch considers as highly unlikely, not only
because she believes that Hitler hid no such intention, but also because
the circumstances in the bunker on the last days would have made such a
ceremony ludicrous. Certainly, up to the time Reitsch left the bunker,
hardly a day before Hitler's death was announced, there had not been the
slightest mention of such a ceremony. The rumor that there had been
children out of the union, Reitsch quickly dismisses as fantastic.
46. Martin Bormann moved about very little, kept instead very close to
his writing desk. He was "recording the momentous events in the bunker
for posterity," Every word, every action went down on his paper. Often
he would visit this person or that to scowlingly demand what the exact
remark had been that passed between the Fuehrer and the person he had
just had an audience with. Things that passed between other occupants of
the bunker were also carefully recorded. This document was to be
spirited out of the bunker at the very last moment so that, according to
the modest Bormann, it could, "take its place among the greatest
chapters of German history."
47. Adolf Hitler: Throughout Hanna's stay, in the bunker Hitler's manner
and physical condition sunk to lower and lower depths. At first he
seemed to be playing the proper part of leading the defense of Germany
and Berlin. And at first this was in some manner possible as
communications. were still quite reliable. Messages were telephoned to a
flak tower and from there were radioed out by means of a portable,
balloon-suspended aerial. But each day this was more and more difficult
until late on the afternoon of the 28th and all day on the 29th
communications were almost impossible. On about the 20th of April, at
what was probably the last Hitler war-council in the Reichsehancellery,
the Fuehrer is said to have been so overcome by the persistently
hopeless news that he completely broke down in the presence of all the
gathering. The talk in the bunker, where
Hanna heard of the collapse, was that with this display even the most
optimistic of Hitler's cohorts tended toward the conviction that the War
was irretrievably lost. According to Reitsch, Hitler never physically
nor mentally recovered from this conference room collapse.
48. Occasionally he still seemed to hold to the hope of General Wenck's
success in breaking through from the South. He talked of little else,
and all day on the 28th and 29th he was mentally planning the tactics
that Wenck might use in freeing Berlin. He would stride about the
shelter, waving a road map that was fast disintegrating from the sweat
of his hands and planning Wenck's campaign with anyone who happened to
be ristening. When he became overly excited he would snatch the map from
where it lay, pace with a quick, nervous stride about the room, and
loudly "direct" the city's defense with armies that no longer existed
(as even Wenck, unknown to the Fuehrer, had already been routed and
49. Reitsch describes it as a pathetic thing, the picture of a man's
complete disintegration. A comic-tragedy of frustration, futility and
uselessness. The picture of a man running almost blindly from wall to
wall in his last retreat waving papers that fluttered like leaves in his
nervous, twitching hands, or sitting stooped and crumpled before his
table moving buttons to represent his non-existent armies, back and
forth on a sweat-stained map, like a young boy playing at war.
50. The Possibility That Hitler Still Lives: The possibility that Hitler
might have gotten out of the bunker alive, Reitsch dismisses as
completely absurd. She claims that she is convinced that the Hitler she
left in the shelter was physically unable to have gotten away. "Had a
path been cleared for him from the bunker to freedom he would not have
had the strength to use it," she says. She believes too, that at the
very end he had no intention to live, that only the Wenck hope stayed
his hand from putting the mass suicide plan into operation. News that
Wenck could not get through, she feels, would immediately have set off
the well rehearsed plans of destruction.
51. When confronted with the rumor that Hitler might still be alive in
Tyrol and that her own flight to that area, after she had left the
bunker, might be more than coincidental, she appears deeply upset that
such opinions are even entertained. She says only, "Hitler is dead! The
man I saw in the shelter could not have lived. He had no reason to live
and the tragedy was that he knew it well, knew it perhaps better than
anyone else did."
52. Hanna's Opinion of the Fuehrer: It is apparent from Reitsch's
conversation that she held the Fuehrer in high esteem. It is probably
also true when she says that her "good" opinion suffered considerably
during the closing stages of the War. She is emphatic when she describes
the apparent mismanagement she observed and learned of in the bunker.
For instance, Berlin had been depleted of arms to hold the Oder. When
that line fell it appeared that no coherent defense plan of Berlin had
been prepared, certainly adequate arrangements had not been made to
direct the defense from the bunker. There was no other communication
equipment available than the telephone that led only to the flak tower.
It appears that only in the last moment had he decided to direct the
battle from the shelter and then did not have the first tools with which
to operate. No maps. No battle plans. No radio. Only a hastily prepared
messenger service and the one telephone were available. The fact that
unknown to Hitler, the Wenck army had been destroyed almost days before,
was only one example of the inadequacies. All of which resulted in the
Fuehrer of Germany sitting helplessly in his cellar impotently playing
at his table-top war.
53. Reitsch claims that Hitler the idealist died, and his country with
him, because of the incompetence of Hitler the soldier and Hitler the
statesman. She concludes, still with a faint touch of allegiance, that
no one who knew him would deny his idealistically motivated intentions
nor could they deny that he was simply infinitely incompetent to rule
his country, that one of his great faults was proper character analysis
in the people about him which led to the selection of persons equally
incompetent to fill important positions. (Most important example:
54. She repeatedly remarked that never again must such a person be
allowed to gain control of Germany or of any country. But strangely
enough she does not appear to hold him personally responsible for many
of the wrongs and evils that she recognizes completely and is quick to
point out. She says rather, "A great part of the f ault lies with those
who led him, lured him, criminally misdirected him, and informed him
falsely. But that he himself selected the men who led him can never be
55. A Criminal Against the World: "Hitler ended his life as a criminal
against the world," but she is quick to add, "he did not begin it that
way. At first his thoughts were only of how to make Germany healthy
again, how to give his people a life free from economic insufficiencies
and social maladjustments. To do this he gambled much, with a stake that
no man has the
right to jeopardize-the lives of his people. This was the first great
wrong, his first great failure. But once the first few risks had been
successful, he fell into the faults of everv gambler; he risked more and
rriore, and each time that he won he was more easily, led to the next
gamble." According to Reitsch it all began with the occupation of the
Ruhr. This was the first and most difficult gamble of all and when the
world did not answer his Ruhr bluff with war every, succeeding risk
became progressively easier.
56. Each success made the enthusiasm of the people greater and this gave
him the necessary, support to take the next step. The end-result,
Reitsch claims, is that Hitler himself underwent a character change that
transformed him from an idealistically motivated benefactor to a
grasping, scheming despot, a victim of his own delusions of grandeur.
"Never again, she concludes, "in the history of the world must such
power be allowed to rest with one man."
57. Suicide Council: On the night of the 27th to 28th the Russian
bombardment of the Chancellery reached the highest pitch it had yet
attained.The accuracy,, to those in the shelter below, was astounding.It
seemed as if each shell landed in exactly the same place as the one
before, all dead~center on the Chancellery, buildings. As this indicated
that the Russian ground troops could over-run the area at any, moment,
another suicide council was called by the Fuehrer. All plans as to the
destruction of the bodies of everyone in the shelter were gone over
again. The decision was that as soon as the Russians reached the
Chancellery grounds the mass suicide would begin. Last instructions were
given as to the use of the poison vials.
58. The group was as hypnotized with the suicide rehearsal and a general
discussion was entered into to determine in which manner the most
thorough destruction of the human body could be performed. Then everyone
made little speeches swearing allegiance again and again to the Fuehrer
and to Germany. Yet, through it all, still ran the faint hope that Wenck
might get in the hold long enough to elfect an evacuation. But even on
the 27th, Reitsch claims, the others paid lip-service to the Wenck hope
only to follow the lead of the Fuehrer. Almost everyone had given up all
thoughts of being saved, and said so to each other whenever Hitler was
not present. Closing the discussions on the destruction of the bodies
there was talk that SS men would be assigned to see that no trace
remained. Throughout the day of the 28th the intensity, of the Russian
fire continued while the suicide talk kept pace with the shelling in the
greatest blow of all. A telegram arrived which indicated that the
staunch and trusted Himmler had joined Goering on the traitor list. It
was like a death blow to the entire assembly. Reitsch claims that men
and women alike cried and screamed with rage, fear and desperation, all
mixed into one emotional spasm. Himmler the protector of the Reich, now
a traitor was impossible. The telegram message was that Himmler had
contacted the British and American authorities through Sweden to propose
a capituluation to the San Francisco conference. Hitler had raged as a
mad man. His color rose to a heated red and his face was virtually
unrecognizable. Additional evidence of Himmler's "treachery" was that he
had asked not to be identified with the capitulation proposals; American
authorities were said to have abided by this request, while the British
60. After the lengthy out-burst Hitler sank into a stupor and for a time
the entire bunker was silent.
61. Later came the anti-climatic news that the Russians, would make a
full force bid to over-run the Chancellery on the morning of the 30th.
Even then small-arm fire was beginning to sprinkle the area above the
shelter. Ground reports indicated that the Russians were nearing the
Potsdamer Platz and were losing thousands of men as they fanatically
prepared the positions from which the attack of the next morning was to
62. Reitsch claims that everyone again looked to their poison.
63. Orders to Leave the Shelter: At one-thirty on the morning of the
30th of April Hitler, with chalk-white face, came to Greira's room and
slumped down on the edge of the bed. "Our only hope is Wenck," he said,
"and to make his entry possible we must call up every available aircraft
to cover his approach." Hitler then claimed that he had just been
informed that Wenck's guns were already shelling the Russians in
64. "Every available plane," Hitler said, "must be called up by,
daylight, therefore it is my order to you to return to Rechlin and
muster your planes from there. It is the task of your aircraft to
destroy the positions from which the Russians will launch their attack
on the Chancellery. With LuftwalTe help Wenck may get through. That is
the first reason why you must leave the shelter. The second is that
Himmler must be stopped," and immediately he mentioned the SS Fuehrer
his voice became more unsteady and both his lips and hands trembled. The
order to Greim was that if Himmler had actually made the reported
contact, and could be found, he should immediately be arrested.
65. "A traitor must never succeed me as Fuehrer! You must get out to
insure that he will not."
66. Greim and Reitsch protested vehemently that the attempt would be
futile, that it would be impossible to reach Rechlin, that they
preferred to die in the shelter, that the mission could not succeed,
that it was insane.
67. "As soldiers of the Reich," Hitler answered, "it is our holy duty to
exhaust every possibility. This is the only chance of success that
remains. It is your duty and mine to take it."
68. Hanna was not convinced. "No, no," she screamed, can be accomplished
now, even if we should get through. thing is lost, to try to change it
now is insane." But Greim thought differently. "Hanna," he said, "we are
the only hope for those who remain here. If the chance is just the
smallest, we owe it to them to take it. Not to go would rob them of the
only light that remains. Maybe Wenck is there. Maybe we can help, but
whether we can or cannot, we will go."
69. Hanna, still convinced as to the absurdity of attempting an escape
went alone to the Fuehrer while Greim was making his preparations.
Through her sobbing she begged, "Mein Fuehrer why, why don't you let us
stay?" He looked at her for a moment and said only: "God protect you."
70. The Leave Taking: Preparations were quickly made and Reitsch is
graphic in her description of the leave taking. Below, late Goering's
Liaison officer with the Fuehrer and now a staunch Greim-man said, "You
must get out. It depends upon you to tell the truth to our people, to
save the 'honor' of the Luftwaffe: to save the meaning of Germany for
the world." Everyone gave the departing duo some token, something to
take back into the world. Everyone wrote quick, last minute letters for
them to take along. Reitsch says that she and Greim destroyed all but
two letters which were from Goebbels and his wife to their eldest son,
by Frau Goebbels first marriage who was then in an Allied prisoner of
war camp. These Reitsch still had. Frau Goebbels also gave her a diamond
ring from her finger to wear in her memory.
71. Thirty minutes after Hitler had given the order they left the
72. The Flight Out of Berlin: Outside the whole city was aflame and
heavy small-arm fire was already plainly audible a short distance away.
SS troops, committed to guarding Hitler to the end, were moving about.
These men brought up a small armored vehicle which was to take Reitsch
and Greim to where an Arado 96 was hidden near Brandenburger Tor. The
sky was filled with
the thunder of shells, some of which landed so close that their vehicle
was knocked out several hundred yards short of the revetment where the
Arado was stationed. (Reitsch claims that she is certain that this was
the last craft available. The possibility of another plane having gotten
in and possibly out again with Hitler as passenger, she dismisses as
highly unlikely as Greim would certainly have been informed. She knows
that such a message was never delivered. She knows too, that Greim had
ordered other planes in but that each craft was shot down in the attempt
and as Russian troops already solidly ringed the city, she is certain
that Hitler never left Berlin.)
73. The broad street leading from Brandenburger Tor was to be used for
take-off. About 400 meters of uncratered pavement was available as
run-way. The take-off was made under hailing Russian fire and as the
plane rose to rooftop level it was picked up by countless searchlights
and at once bracketed in a barrage of shelling. Explosions tossed the
craft like a feather, but only a few splinters hit the plane. Reitsch
circled to about 20,000 feet from where Berlin was a sea of flames
beneath her. From that altitude the magnitude of the destruction of
Berlin she describes as stark and fantastic. Heading north, 50 minutes
saw them in Rechlin, where the landing was again made through a screen
of Russian fighter craft.
74. The Last German Reports: Greim at once issued the orders calling all
available craft to the aid of Berlin. Having performed the first of
Hitler's commands he immediately decided to fly to Ploen, near Kiel, to
determine what information Doenitz might have regarding Himmler. A
Bucker 18I was used and by the time they got into the air German
aircraft were already arriving in compliance with Greim's order. The
entire heavens were soon a seething mass of German and Russian planes.
Reitsch kept her own plane at and 2 meters altitude and even with such
protection against visibility she was twice unsuccessfully attacked.
Landing at Lubeek still necessitated an automobile trip to Ploen, during
which time they were again under constant Russian attack. On arrival
they found that Doenitz knew nothing of Himmler's actions. The next move
was to see Keitel in the event that a change in air tactics should be
employed in helping Wenck in his entry into Berlin.
75. The News of Wenck's Non-Existence: Keitel was found in the early
morning of the first of May and gave them the news that Wenck's army had
long been destroyed or captured. And
that he (Keitel) had sent word to Hitler to that effect the day before.
(30th of April).
76. Greim and Reitsch now knew that Hitler must surely have given up all
hope and both fully expected that the well rehearsed suicide plans had
already been put into operation.
77. The "New" Government: The advance of the English necessitated a
retreat into Schleswig late on the first day of May. Here, the same
evening, Reitsch and Greim learned that the announcement of Hitler's
death had been made and that he had been succeeded by Doenitz. On the
2nd of May the new government was called to Ploen. Greims and Reitsch,
to receive orders from 1)oenitz as to immediate Luftwaffe activities,
had the additional purpose of meeting Himmler and confronting him with
the betrayal story.
78. Himmler's Capitulation Explanation: Himmler arrived late so that
all the others were in the conference room, leaving Reitsch alone when
he walked in.
"One moment Herr Reichsfuehrer, a matter of the highest importance, if
you can spare the time?" Reitsch asked.
Himmler seemed almost jovial as he said, "Of course."
"Is it true, Herr Reichsfuehrer, that you contacted the Allies with
proposals of peace without orders to do so from Hitler?"
"But, of course."
"You betrayed your Fuehrer and your people in the very darkest hour?
Such a thing is high treason, Herr Reichsfuehrer. You did that when your
place was actually in the bunker with Hitler?"
"High treason? No! You'll see, history, will weigh it differently.
Hitler wanted to continue the fight. He was, mad with his pride and his
'honor.' He wanted to shed more German blood when there was none left to
flow. Eitler was insane. It should have been stopped long ago."
"Insane? I came from him less than 36 hours ago. He died for the cause
he, believed in. He died bravely and filled with the 'honor' you speak
of, while you and Goering and the rest must now live as branded traitors
"I did as I did to save German blood, to rescue what was left of' our
"You speak of German blood, Herr Reichsfuehrer? You speak of it now? You
should have thought of it years ago, before you became identified with
the useless shedding of so much of it."
A sudden strafing attack terminated the conversation.
79. The Last Orders-To Hold the. Russians: Greim indicated that little
had been decided at the first Doenitz war council. How
ever everyone was in accord that at best, resistance would only be
possible for a few days longer. In the meantime commanders against the
Russians were to hold to the last to enable as many civilians as
possible to flee from the advance. Reitsch claims that Greim, whose leg
was becoming increasingly worse, insisted upon flying immediately to
Feldmarschall Joerner, in command of troops in Silesia and
Czechoslovakia, to instruct him that he should resist even after the
80. On the flight to Joerner, Greim's foot became so bad that he had
momentary lapses of unconsciousness. Upon arrival Joerner indicated that
he had already decided to hold as long as possible and had issued orders
to that effect even before Greim's arrival.
81. It was then decided to fly on to Kesselring with the same
instructions, but Greim's leg was by now so critical that further
movement was impossible. From the 3rd of May to the 7th it was necessary
to remain at headquarters in Koenigratz where Reitsch nursed Greim until
he could move about again.
82. On the night of the 7th of May. they took off in a Dornier 217 to
fly to Graz where Kesselring was reported to be. Directly over the field
German flak severely damaged their craft which crash landed at the edge
of the field. Reitsch and Greim were of the understanding that the
capitulation would come on the night of the 9th of May and when it was
learned that Kesselring had left Graz for Zell am See they flew on in an
effort to instruct him.
83. The End at Zell am See: They arrived at Zell am See flying a
Fieseler-Storch, and reported to General Koller, Chief of the GAF
General Staff, who was to tell them of Kesselring's whereabouts. Here
they learned that the capitulation was to be on the 8th instead of the
9th. They still wanted to locate Kesselring but Koller either chose not
to tell them where Kesselring was, because it was already too late or
else he did not knom, that Kesselring was in the village of AImdorf, a
few miles north of Zell am See. At this news Reitsch and Greim decided
that any, further efforts on their part were quite useless. Just before
the capitulation they left Zell am See for Kitzbuhl to place themselves
under the care of a well known Doctor who had just opened his hospital
84. Reitsch claims that had it not been for the severe agony of Greim's
foot she would not have been able to convince him to save his limb. To
the last he yanted to encourage resistance against the Russians.
85. Why the "Redoubt" Was Not Utilized: In response to the question as
to why the Austria-Southern Germany last stand of resistance was never
put into operation, Reitsch has little to add to what is already known.
She states that as late as the 15th of April it still seemed that there
was every intention of moving the government and military headquarters
to Berchtesgaden. All of the bureaus and headquarters in Berlin at that
time were on a constant 2 hour alert. From what she heard from Oberst
Below and others it appeared that the conference mentioned in paragraph
46 was to decide on the full particulars covering the move. She claims
that the reports Hitler received at that time were so shocking that he
was convinced that preparations to make "Redoubt" resistance a success
would never be completed in time. It was believed that the realization
that "Redoubt," of which so much was expected, would have to be crossed
off as useless was the major cause of Hitler's breakdown. It was also
said that Goering and Hitler had had a strained conversation regarding
this, with Goering insisting on an early evacuation to the "Redoubt"
area and Hitler declining in the hope that the Oder would hold. Goering
was to have claimed that "Redoubt" was ready for occupancy While Hitler
preferred to wait until he could have its readiness confirmed at the
above mentioned conference. It was the talk later at the Doenitz war
council and elsewhere that Goering's departure was governed solely by
his realization that the Oder would be crossed and by his unfulfilled
hope that the partially completed "Redoubt" area would hold.
Had Goering's coup succeeded, it is believed that "Redoubt" might have
been more actively defended. The reasons that it was not: First --
Goering's failure. Second — Hitler's belief that continued resistance
in Berlin might be more eventful than the sure collapse he saw in an
86. Reporting to the Americans: They arrived in Kitzbuhl on the morning
of the 9th and reported to American Military authorities shortly
thereafter. Greim was under treatment until the 23rd of May when he was
taken to Salzburg, prior to being taken on to Germany as a prisoner of
War. He committed suicide with Hitler's poison capsule in Salzburg on
the night of the 24th of May. Although he was much less known than his
corpulent predecessor, both in Germany or the world, in Hanna's opinion
he should have had Goering's position years ago. The fact that he
disagreed with Goering on almost every count is, to her, evidence enough
of his capabilities.
hope that the par-
87. Evatuation of Source: It is the opinion of the interrogator that the
above information is given with a sincere and conscientious effort to be
truthful and exact. The suicide of her family, the death of her closest
friend, von Greim, the physical pain of Germany, and the trying nature
of her experiences during the closing days of the war combined
themselves to seriously tempt her to commit suicide as well. She claims
that the only reason she remained alive is for the sake of the truth; to
tell the truth about Goering, "the shallow showman," to tell the truth
about Hitler, "the criminal incompetent," and to tell the German people
the truth about the dangers of the form of government that the Third
Reich gave them. She believes that she is fulfilling much of this
mission when she speaks to the interrogator. It is therefore felt that
her remarks may be considered as her deepest efforts at sincerity and
honesty. At the moment she is undergoing a severe mental struggle in an
effort to reconcile her conception of "honor" with her denunciations of
Goering, of Himmler, and of Hitler himself. This difficulty appears less
great when she is speaking to the interrogator than it is when she
speaks to civilians, but from civilians who have led her conversation
and then unknown to her, reported the results to the interrogator it
appears that she is striving to exert a progressively more democratic
influence over her countrymen.