This Day in History (16-Jan-1945) – Hitler descends into his bunker

After the Battle of the Bulge of World War II, Hitler had fallen into a state of deep despair and wearily returned to Berlin from his headquarters on the Western Front, setting up new headquarters inside the Reich Chancellery building, already partially damaged by Allied bombing. He remained there for 105 days until he committed suicide. During his daily military briefings he listened to gloomy reports concerning the unstoppable advance of largest combined military force the world had ever seen, now roaring into the Fatherland from East and West.

Throughout his life, Adolf Hitler had never been able to admit a single mistake or accept responsibility for any failure. On the west front, unwisely, Hitler ignored advice from Field Marshal Rundstedt to position his troops on the right bank of the river, thereby forcing the Allies to cross the water to attack. Instead, he left them as-is on the left bank, nearer the invaders, resulting in the loss of 350,000 soldiers and their equipment by the end of the month. For this, Hitler blamed Rundstedt and sacked him. Germans had failed to destroy a huge railroad bridge spanning the river in time to prevent American troops and tanks from seizing it. A furious Hitler ordered the execution of the eight Army officers who had bungled the bridge’s defense. This marked the beginning of a do-or-die phase for German troops at the hands of their vengeful Führer.

Mishaps and mistakes were now punishable by death. “If the war is lost,” Hitler told his Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. Those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

On April 29, Hitler married Eva Braun in their bunker hideaway. Eva Braun met Hitler while working as an assistant to Hitler’s official photographer. Loyal to the end, she refused to leave the bunker even as the Russians closed in. Only hours after they were united in marriage, both Hitler and Eva committed suicide. Both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules (which had been tested for their efficacy on his “beloved” dog and her pups). For good measure, he shot himself with his pistol.

Reference:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hitler-descends-into-his-bunker

http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/defeat/enter-bunker.htm

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