SS fanatics guard the bunker as Hitler marries

Soviet soldiers in a position inside a Berlin home.

Soviet soldiers in a position inside a Berlin home.

A Soviet soldiers runs past a burning building in Berlin.

A Soviet soldiers runs past a burning building in Berlin.

Half a million Red Army troops were now engaged in the final assault on Berlin, making street by street advances to the centre of Nazi power, Hitler’s bunker. Inside the bunker Hitler had finally admitted to his inner circle that the war was lost. Many inside the bunker were trying to find an opportunity to escape, while others were preparing to end it all.

Guarding them all were the remnants of a fanatically loyal SS unit. An anonymous German soldier describes the scenes:

The close combat boys went into action. Their leader was SS-Obersturmfuhrer [First Lieutenant] Babick, battle commandant of the Reichstag. Babick now waged the kind of war he had always dreamed of. Our two battery commanders, Radloff and Richter, were reduced to taking orders from him.

Babick’s command post was not in the Reichstag itself but in the cellar of the house on the corner of Dorotheenstrasse and the Hermann Goring Strasse, on the side nearer the Spree. There he ruled from an air-raid shelter measuring some 250 sq ft. Against the wall stood an old sofa and in front of it a dining table on which a map of the center of Berlin was spread out. Sitting on the sofa was an elderly marine commander and next to him two petty officers.

There were also a few SS men and, of course, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Babick bending over his map. He played the great general and treated everyone present in the dim candle-lit room to great pearls of military wisdom. He kept talking of final victory, cursed all cowards and traitors and left no one in any doubt that he would summarily shoot anyone who abandoned the Fuhrer.

Babick was tremendously proud of his successes. He was hoping for reinforcements. From somewhere or another, marines had come to Berlin on the night of 28 April, led by the very Lieutenant-Commander who was now hanging about the cellar with nothing to say for himself.

Babick never moved from his map, plotting the areas from which he expected reinforcements and even the arrival of “Royal Tigers” [heavy tanks]. Babick was still bubbling over with confidence. For one thing, he thought himself perfectly safe in his shelter. SS sentries were posted outside, others barred the corridor to the Reichstag, and Royal Tigers, our finest weapons, were apparently just around the corner.

One group was commanded by SS-Untersturmfuhrer [Second Lieutenant] Undermann; he was posted south of the Moltke Bridge in the Ministry of the Interior (the building the Russians called “Himmler’s House”) and the bridge itself lay in his line of fire.

Then an SS ensign, aged about 19, came to Babick with the report that Undermann and his men had come across some alcohol and that they had got roaring drunk. As a precaution he had brought Undermann along; he was waiting outside. Babick roared out the order: “Have him shot on the spot!”

The ensign clicked his heels and ran out. Seconds later we heard a burst of fire from a submachine-gun. The boy reappeared and reported: “Orders carried out.” Babick put him in charge of Undermann’s unit.

Our ranks in the Reichstag got thinner and thinner. Part of our battery gradually dispersed, and by the night of 30 April, no more than 40 to 50 people, soldiers and civilians, were left in the cellar. This remnant was now busy looking for the safest possible hiding-places. There we intended to sit tight until the Russians came. But they kept us waiting for another 24 hours.

This account appears in Jon E. Lewis (ed):The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness World War II, the original source is not given.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun at the Berghof in 1942.

Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun at the Berghof in 1942.

Meanwhile Hitler had decided to marry his long term mistress, Eva Braun. She had never been publicly acknowledged because Hitler thought it would damage his image as the Fuhrer.

After the war Stalin received a report reconstructing the circumstances of the marriage, which took place during the night of 28th-29th April, obtained from the testimonies of Hitler’s staff subsequently taken prisoners by the Red Army:

Hitler and Eva Braun left their apartment hand in hand and went into the conference room. Hitler took each step with a great effort. His face was ashen, his gaze wandered restlessly. He was wearing the crumpled tunic in which nowadays he lay on his bed all day. He had pinned on to it the Gold Party Badge, the Iron Cross First Class and the Wounded Medal of the First World War.

Eva Braun, also pale from sleepless nights, wore a dark-blue silk dress under a fleecy grey fur cape. Goebbels and Bormann were waiting for them in the antechamber. The latter had put on the grey uniform of an SS-Obergruppenfuhrer. Goebbels wore the brown Party uniform.

In the conference room Hitler and Eva greeted the functionary who had taken up his position at the table. Then they sat down in the first two chairs, and Bormann and Goebbels too went to their assigned places. The door was closed. The ceremony lasted no longer than ten minutes.

Bormann opened the door again when Hitler and Eva were signing the licence. Hitler then kissed Eva’s hand. She was now his wife. He ordered that the table be laid for a wedding tea in his study. Goebbels and his wife were invited together with Bormann and the secretaries Frau Christian and Frau Junge.

See The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Otto Guensche and Heinze Linge, Hitler’s Closest Personal Aides

Soviet officers  examine the bodies of a dead company commander and Volkssturm fighter .

Soviet officers examine the bodies of a dead company commander and Volkssturm fighter .

Volkssturm prisoners are led past a Soviet tank.

Volkssturm prisoners are led past a Soviet tank.

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Gregory McKenna April 29, 2015 at 3:13 am

Interesting factoid: the German clerk who officiated the wedding was killed by Soviet artillery fire. That story is almost a neat-little microcosm of how Hitler’s leadership had brought Germany nearly to the highest peak of power only for it all too come crashing down on their head.

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