Cornell University Law Library

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 8.15
Title Last Letters From Hitler's Air Raid Shelter.
Pages 6
Pages Supplemental None
Date 1945-11-01
Language English and German
Author Robert E. Work, Captain, Air Corps, (chief interrogator)
Witness Not applicable
Other Names Hitler; Hanna Reitsch; Ritter von Greim; Goering; Goebbels; Eva Braun; Fegelein; Martin Bormann; Frau Goebbels; Hevel; Ribbentrop; Himmler; Harald Quandt
Other Dates 28 April 1945; 30 April 1945
Abstract This document is a written report of the letters that Hanna Reitsch carried out of Hitler's air raid shelter on 30 April 1945. The Hevel and Bormann letters were brief official communications that became impertinent after the German collapse; having found no opportunity to deliver them in a timely fashion, Reitsch destroyed them. Captain Work's report summarizes the contents of these two letters based on Reitsch's memory of them. Similarly, Eva Braun's letter to her sister appears only as a recollected reconstruction, for Hanna Reitsch destroyed this letter as well, agreeing with her superior, Ritter von Greim, that its "text was so glaringly theatrical and in such poor adolescent taste that only odious reactions would result should the letter ever fall into German hands" (p. 1). Reitsch reports that von Greim, after reading Eva Braun's letter, remarked, "It sounds just as childish and obvious as she looks. Tear it up" (p. 1). The letters written by Dr. Goebbels and Frau Goebbels to their son, Harald Quandt (who was Frau Goebbels son from a prior marriage; he was Goebbels stepson), were still in the possession of Hanna Reitsch at the time of the interrogation. Captain Work's report reproduces the original German text and corresponding English translation of both letters, which Reitsch evaluates as obvious propagandistic effusions written in a bid for martyrdom and self-justification, rather than the genuine "final words" of loving parents to a beloved son. This document is a typewritten copy on very brittle, browning paper. The pages are printed on both sides, yielding six pages of text on three leaves. The reverse of each leaf is printed upside-down in relation to its obverse, an orientation most inconvenient to the purposes of a bound volume. The original classification of this document was CONFIDENTIAL; each page is marked so. A handwritten emendation, initialed CFF, in the upper right corner of the first page indicates that this classification was "Downgraded 23 November 1945 to Unclassified."
Keywords Martyrdom; Nazi ideology; Propaganda