Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adolf Hitler: How Did He Die?

The end of World War II was marked by the death of a major political figure: Adolf Hitler. His death stopped the very War, which was considered to be unstoppable.


On 16th January, 1945, Hitler started residing in his F├╝hrerbunker, while the war was still on. There he attended his final meeting with the officials of Nazi Germany, the Third Reich. At this stage Germany was open to severe attacks from the Allies from all sides and Hitler realized that Germany would soon be done for in the war. In fact, by late April, the mighty Red Army of the Soviet Union had battled their way right into Berlin, where they thought Hitler was residing.


Towards 22nd April Hitler had, what many historians described as a nervous breakdown. Hitler realized that Germany was in a very unfavorable position and facing a humiliating defeat in the war was imminent, so he consulted his physician, Werner Haase, to know what the right form of suicide would be. Haase suggested Potassium cyanide with a bullet through the head.


Hitler got himself cyanide capsules through the Schutztaffel, only to learn that his supplier had soon escaped to the US. He considered this treason and felt that the cyanide capsules could actually be fake ones. To verify their potency, he ordered Dr. Hasse to try them on his favorite pet, his dog Blondi. The innocent animal whom Hitler had loved so much was no more.


Strange as he was, Hitler chose no better moment for his marriage. On 29 April 1945, he married Eva Braun with minimal celebrations, in a ceremony room within the bunker complex. According to British historian Antony Beevor, after the wedding ceremony, Hitler dictated his last will and testament to Traundi Junge, his secretary. Unofrtunatley for Hitler, his married life lasted for less than even 40 hours.


On the morning of 30th April, the Red Army was less than 500 meters away from Hitler’s bunker. Extremely tensed, Hitler consulted the commander of Berlin Defense Area, Helmuth Wiedling about their war statistics only to learn that their ammunition would take less than a day’s time to run out. At around 1300 hours that day, Adolf, Eva and the residents of the bunker had a light meal of sphagetti with sauce. Then they personally bid goodbye to the Goebbels (the family of Hitler’s good friend and advisor, Dr. Joseph Goebbels). Soon, at around 1430 hours, many saw Hitler and Eva entering the study. That was the last time they were seen alive. Certainly not the most romantic idea of celebrating the first day after marriage.


There was a loud gunshot at 15:30, when the Goebells’ youngest son declared “A direct hit!”, thinking that it was a Soviet bomb falling somewhere nearby. But most knew what had happened and Hitler’s valet, Heinze Linge, rushed to the study, accompanied by many others. There they found Adolf’s and Eva’s bodies lying against the two hands of the sofa, Eva to the left and Adolf to her right, each slumped away from the other.


The study had been filled with the smell of burning almonds, a characteristic smell of prussic acid, the gaseous form of cyanide. Adolf had clearly shot himself to death, as there was an exit wound on his left temple and the 7.65 mm pistol that he had used lay at his feet. Later studies confirmed that he had also consumed cyanide. Eva had not suffered from any physical injuries, so it was clear that she had consumed cyanide.

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