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Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection

Nuremberg trial transcripts and documents from the Collection of General William J. Donovan

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Volume 004
Subdivision "Subdivision 8 / Hitler"
Part Not applicable
Section 8.14 (Reitsch account)
Title The Last Days in Hitler's Air Raid Shelter
Pages 16
Pages Supplemental None
Date 1945-10-08
Language English
Author Robert E. Work, Captain, Air Corps, (chief interrogator)
Witness Hanna Reitsch
Other Names Hitler; General Ritter von Greim; Frau Goebbels; Josef Goebbels; State Secretary Neaman; Martin Bormann; Hevel; Admiral Vosz; General Krebs; Bourgdorf; Hansel Bauer; Baetz; Eva Braun; Fegelein; Dr. Stumpfecker; Oberst von Below; Dr. Lorenz; Albert Speer; Hermann Goering; General Wenck; Axman; Himmler; Keitel; Doenitz; Joerner; Kesselring; Koller
Other Dates 29 March 1912; 24 April 1945; 25 April 1945; 26 April 1945; 27 April 1945; 28 April 1945; 29 April 1945; 30 April 1945; 1-9 May 1945
Abstract This document is the write-up of the interrogation of Hanna Reitsch, "the well known German test-pilot and aeronautical research expert," who was one of the persons with Hitler in the latter's Berlin bunker during the last days of the war. As Captain Work states in his Introduction, Hanna Reitsch's "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 - (p. 1). From Hanna Reitsch's testimony, Captain Work constructs a narrative account of the Hitler's final days and brief character portraits of several of the chief personages present in the bunker, including Goebbels and Bormann. Reitsch's own story - flying into Berlin under heavy fire, staying in Hitler's bunker for some three and a half days under increasingly frequent and accurate bombardment, and then being ordered by the Fuehrer, very early on 30 April 1945, to leave the bunker in order to muster what remained of the Luftwaffe to defend Berlin against the Russian advance (and to arrest Himmler for treason) - brackets her observations of Hitler under extreme duress, with the German cause lost and his own end imminent. Reitsch's final evaluations of Goering, Himmler, Goebbels, and Hitler are noteworthy for their brutal honesty; her account overall strikes the interrogating officer as truthful and sincere, particularly as the motivation to bear honest witness to the tragedy of the Third Reich is the sole reason Hanna Reitsch did not commit suicide with the vial of poison given to her by Hitler for that purpose. This document is related in nature to document 35.05, "Condemnation of Goering by Hanna Reitsch," which appears in Volume XIV of the Donovan Archive. This document is a typewritten copy on sturdy, heavyweight paper. The reproduction process used to create this copy is different from the copying process used to create the other documents both in this volume and generally throughout The Donovan Papers. The typeface is quite small and inconsistently legible, although in most cases fairly clear. The narrative is broken up into numbered paragraphs, presumably for easy reference; for reasons that are not self-evident and remain unexplained, paragraph 87 (of a total of 89) has been blanked out, a strip of paper having been paper-clipped over it prior to the copy's having been made.
Keywords Fall of Berlin; Hitler's bunker; Suicide council; Luftwaffe; OSS sources