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.
The medal of the Iron Cross, its ribbon stained crimson brown above its red, black and white, lay amongst the papers. The Hauptmann’s book was full of photographs of Storm Troops and of soldiers, of sisters in white blouses and dark skirts, of a heavy-built father with close-cropped hair, of other young officers with the same relentless faces.
This was the type Hitler had loosed on Europe, brave, desperate, efficient. And now he had come to his end in an Italian field, shot down by an Italian farmer’s boy with a Sten gun, shot in the back, I learned later, as he crouched in hiding.