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04.30.15 9:15 AM ET

Hitler’s Strange Last Orders

In the hours before completing his suicide pact with Eva Braun, Hitler found time to leave orders for his art, his people, and dismiss those he felt betrayed him.

Swansong 1945: A Collective Diary of the Last Days of the Third Reich is a volume from the World War II series Echolof (Sonar) by German writer Walter Kempowski. It combines letters, diary entries, memorandums, and reports by participants and witness from WWII into a collage that paints a compelling portrait of the Reich’s demise. Swansong focuses specifically on four days at the end—the 20th of April (Hitler’s final birthday), the 25th of April (when the Soviets and Americans met at the Elbe), the 30th of April (when Hitler and Eva Braun completed their suicide pact), and May 8 (VE Day).

What follows in the excerpt from the chilling book are portions of Hitler’s last testaments—including his suicide pact with Braun, what he wanted to happen with his art collection, and his dismantling of Herman Göring and Heinrich Himmler.

— William O’Connor

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Political testament

I have therefore decided to stay in Berlin and, of my own free will, to choose death there at the moment when I believe that the position of Führer and Chancellor itself is no longer tenable.

I die with a happy heart, conscious of the immeasurable deeds and achievements of our soldiers at the front, of our women at home, the achievements of our farmers and workers and the work, unique in history, of our youth, who bear my name.

That I express my thanks to you all from the bottom of my heart, is just as self-evident as my desire that you should, because of that, on no account give up the struggle, but rather continue it against the enemies of the Fatherland, no matter where, true to the creed of the great Clausewitz.

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Political testament

Many of our bravest men and women have resolved to unite their lives with mine until the very last. I have begged, and finally ordered, them not to do this, but to take part in the further struggle of the nation. I implore the heads of the army, the navy, and the air force to strengthen by all possible means our soldiers’ spirit of resistance in line with the National Socialist cause, with special reference to the fact that even I myself, as founder and creator of this movement, have chosen death over cowardly resignation or even capitulation.

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Political testament

Before my death I am expelling the former Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring from the party and depriving him of all rights which he enjoyed by virtue of the decree of 29 June 1941; and also by virtue of my statement in the Reichstag on 1 September 1939. I appoint in his place Grand Admiral Dönitz, President of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Political testament

Before my death I expel the former Reichsführer-SS and Minister of the Interior, Heinrich Himmler, from the party and from all offices of state. In his stead I appoint Gauleiter Karl Hanke as Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police, and Gauleiter Paul Giesler as Reich Minister of the Interior.

Göring and Himmler, quite apart from their disloyalty to my person, have done immeasurable harm to the country and the whole nation by secret negotiations with the enemy, which they conducted without my knowledge and against my wishes, and by illegally attempting to seize power in the state for themselves.

In order to give the German people a government composed of honourable men—a government which will fulfill its pledge to continue the war by every means—I appoint the following members of the new Cabinet as leaders of the nation: [...]

Although some of these men, such as Martin Bormann, Dr Goebbels, etc., together with their wives, have joined me of their own free will and did not under any circumstances wish to leave the capital of the Reich, but were willing to perish with me here, I must nevertheless ask them to obey my request, and in this case place the interests of the nation above their own feelings. By their work and loyalty as comrades they will be just as close to me after death, as I hope that my spirit will linger among them and go with them always. Let them be hard, but never unjust, above all let them never allow fear to influence their actions, and let them set the honour of the nation above everything in the world. Finally, let them be aware of the fact that our task, that of continuing the building of a National Socialist state, represents the work of the coming centuries, which places every single person under an obligation always to serve the common interest and to subordinate his own advantage to this end. I demand of all Germans, all National Socialists, men, women, and all the men of the armed forces, that they be faithful and obedient unto death to the new government and its president.

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Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Political testament

I demand of all Germans, all National Socialists, men, women, and all men of the armed forces, that they be faithful and obedient unto death to the new government and its president.

Above all I charge the leaders of the nation and those under them to scrupulous observance of the racial laws and to merciless opposition to the global poisoner of all peoples, international Jewry.

Given in Berlin, 29 April 1945, 4.00 a.m.
Adolf Hitler


Witnessed by:

Dr Joseph Goebbels,

Wilhelm Burgdorf,

Martin Bormann,

Hans Krebs

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Private testament

As I did not consider that I could take responsibility, during the years of struggle, of contracting a marriage, I have now decided, before the closing of my earthly career, to take as my wife that girl who, after many years of faithful friendship, entered, of her own free will, the practically besieged town in order to share her destiny with me. At her own desire she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Private testament

What I possess belongs—in so far as it has any value—to the party. Should this no longer exist, to the state; should the state also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary.

My pictures, in the collections which I have bought over the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my home town of Linz a.d. Donau.

Adolf Hitler, 18891945 Führerbunker, Berlin Private testament

It is my most sincere wish that this bequest may be duly executed.

I nominate as my executor my most faithful party comrade, Martin Bormann.

He is given full legal authority to make all decisions. He is permitted to take out everything that has a sentimental value or is necessary for the maintenance of a modest simple life, for my brothers and sisters, also above all for the mother of my wife and my faithful co-workers who are well known to him, principally my old secretaries, Frau Winter, etc. who have for many years aided me by their work.

I myself and my wife—in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation—choose death. It is our wish to be burned immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of twelve years’ service to my people.

Given in Berlin, 29 April 1945, 4.00 a.m. (Signed) A. Hitler

Witnesses:

Martin Bormann

Dr Goebbels

Witness:
Nicolaus von Below