23 January 1945

23 January 1945

23 January 1945

January 1945


Western Front

US 1st Army captures St. Vith


14th Army captures Tizaung and Myinmu

Today in World War II History—January 23, 1940 & 1945

80 Years Ago—January 23, 1940: Britain and France say they will not honor 200-mile Pan-American neutrality zone and will attack German ships in that zone.

Animals in the Berlin Zoo are placed on war rations—less meat, no bananas or peanuts.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 23, 1945: US First Army retakes St. Vith in Belgium from Germans.

Nazis execute German resistance leaders Count Helmuth von Moltke (leader of the Kreisau Circle resistance group) and Erwin Planck (son of physicist Max Planck).

In the shallow harbor of Nanguan Island, China, submarine USS Barb sinks Japanese freighter Taikyu Maru Cdr. Eugene Fluckey will receive the Medal of Honor and Barb will receive the Presidential Unit Citation.

The youngest of these boys was Alfred Czech, a twelve-year-old from Upper-Silesian Oppeln, who had been decorated for rescuing twelve wounded Wehrmacht soldiers and catching a “Soviet spy.” All boys wore the Iron Cross. “You already know what battle is like from your own experience,” says the tottering, senile, hunched-over Führer to the little boys staring at him with worshipful admiration, “and you know that this struggle is for the German people, to be or not to be. In spite of all the hardships at this time, we shall emerge victorious from this battle, especially as I am looking at German youth – at you, my boys.” “Heil, mein Fiihrer!” shouted the boys, brainwashed out of their wits, and out of their childhood, with their eyes agleam with fanaticism. They were then sent back out into the streets to fight and die for the old sociopath-bastard who turned them into his obedient Zombies.

In 1945 a desperate Hitler and his coterie was throwing boys into battle

There were eye-witness’ accounts, of course, describing more age-appropriate behavior. A detachment of eighty uniform-clad boys ambushed a column of Soviet tanks and infantry, but things went wrong: the Soviets immediately returned fire, killing and wounding several of HJ. The remaining children, shocked by the swift violence of the action, ran, tossing away their rifles, some crying hysterically, and were mostly captured by the Soviet motorcycled infantry. One youngster, still carrying his Panzerfaust, was asked why he did not shoot it. He replied that he joined the action just to be with his comrades, and that his mother forbade him to shoot, ever.

By the end of March more and more Hitler Youths were being put in trenches, bunkers and machine-gun encasements in strategic spots in Berlin’s suburbs, moved here from places like Brandenburg, Luckenwalde, and Oranienburg. By mid-April 1945, at least 6,000 of them were in the city, under the nominal command of Reich Youth Leader Artur Axmann. Many more were brought in by the end of April.

The ground was laid down early. Goering addresses a group of boys in 1935

Hitler Youth – Hitler’s Secret Weapon

Not only did thousands of Hitler Youth boys die in Berlin, but many more died in the twelfth’s army attempt to break through the Soviet encirclement toward Berlin. They were the elite core of the troops under the command of General Walter Wenck. At dawn on 28 April, the youth divisions Clausewitz, Scharnhorst and Theodor Körner were in the vanguard of the XII Army’s offensive from the south-west, attempting to break through the Soviet encirclement toward Berlin. They were made up of recent HJ, now young men from the officer training schools, making them some of the best units the German army had. After their 24-km advance towards Berlin, The Red Army halted their assault south-west of Potsdam, some 32 kmfrom Berlin. Genereal Wenck reported that no attack on Berlin was now possible and he was being pushed back. Instead, he set off to help the IX Army, encircled by the Red Army in the Halbe pocket, to break out. Wenck’s mission, although failed, was not entirely in vain, as parts of the German surrounded ninth’s Army, about 25,000 men, managed to break through and unite with the twelfth Army. About 30,000 German soldiers, many of them teenagers, were buried in the cemetery at Halbe. About 20,000 soldiers of the Red Army died trying to stop their assault and breakout.

’Hitler's final battle plan was pie in the sky. Advancing from the south, Marshall Konev's forces cut off and surrounded the Werhmacht's 9th Army in the forest south of Berlin, near the small town of Halbe. 'The massacre in that forest was appalling,' Beevor observed after a visit to the Halbe battlefield. 'There was absolutely no way of treating the wounded, they were just left screaming at the road side…' Over 50,000 [German] soldiers and civilians died. Most of the dead were German, many of them SS. It was the Nazi forces' desperate last stand. One local witness remembers how the narrow paths leading through the forest were piled high with corpses. It took the local population months to clear the site. Even today, a thousand corpses are found each year in and around Berlin. Many of them are detected in the now silent forests of Halbe…

The 12th was an “elite” Army. Many soldiers and officers among the 12th Army were war criminals, “the butchers of Greece” – those who executed the entire civilian populations and blew up villages and towns inGreece and Yugoslavia.

Hitler was more than Father to these brainwashed delinquents, he was God. They were encouraged by the massive propagandist apparatus of the state to rebel against their fathers and to worship Hitler, who replaced family and human love with a glorified, high-minded idea of Death for German Faterland. He handed out a few iron crosses and sent the 12-year-olds to death, which bought him a few more days of miserable existence in a bunker, like a rat. Unlike adults, Hitler Youth were easy victims of brainwashing, just like children are everywhere, including the U.S.with its most sophisticated propagandistic apparatus.

The Unspoken Tragedy of Hitler Youth

The tragedy of Hitler Youth generation is underscored in numbers, although numbers alone can hardly tell the full story. About 12 million German troops were interned by allies, by some estimates. At least 3 million were captured by the Red Army. Of all POW’s at least half were current and former HJ’s. Many former HJ’s were “Waffen-SS [who] received the blood-group tattoo [and]were singled out for special treatment, as were voluntary members of the SS (hence they often tried to remove the stigma by burning or cutting it out, but the scar gave them away like a mark of Cain. All told, however, these hardships scarcely measured up to the levels of sadistic abuse and murder which the SS had inflicted on their victims in the concentration camps, or which the Wehrmacht, for that matter, had practiced in camps for Soviet POWs.”

The formerly triumphant Waffenn SS, who had been often ordered to “wade in blood,” suppressing resistance to German occupation, left behind a trail of blood and destruction, Eastern Europe in ruins, populations of entire villages and towns wiped out or decimated. They were now prisoners of Soviet soldiers many of whom lost their entire families. Although instructed to demonstrate “discipline and high moral standards of a Red Army soldier,” the victors were not liberally-minded, especially so with tough, indoctrinated enemy who fought till the last bullet. The bitter irony of the whole generation was that conditioned to be The Master Race, the Hitler Youth now faced an uncertain future and slave labor, restoring the economies of their former slaves. Many of them died, before seeing home again.

Let us not succumb to the propagandistic effort to misrepresent that only Germans committed atrocities against civilians and kept POW’s in unbearable conditions. Soviet, American, British and French troops were just as guilty, albeit on a smaller scale. From summarily executing German POW’s to raping women, to keeping POW’s in terrible conditions, the cycle of violence continued, now by the victors, until the most painful memories of war faded.

Unfortunately, the pain did not end when the war ended.

Hitler with a group of boys in late April 1945

Key to Effective Brainwashing of Children: Removal of Parental Authority

A child is a moral and political tabula rasa. The Latin phrase means a blank slate, on which his/her grownup teachers and indoctrinators can inscribe any toxic ideology, without having to overcome any resistance from the ethical and moral barriers that allow adults to distinguish good from evil. Tabula Rasa is also featured in Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Freud depicted personality traits as being formed by family dynamics (see, e.g., Oedipus complex, Jocaste complex, Medea complex). According to Freud’s theories, humans lack free will in a sense that they are the product of their upbringing and also – genetic influences on human personality are minimal when compared to the upbringing. In psychoanalysis, one is largely determined by one's upbringing, and we all intuitively and empirically know this to be a universally acknowledged truth.

Nazis put parents on a leash: they warned parents that interference or failure to cooperate with the Nazi regime would result in imprisonment or having their children sent to other Nazi homes to be reared.

Alfons Heck, who progressed through the Hitlerjugend ranks to become a 17-year-old Bannfuehrer,equivalent to the U.S. rank of major general, commanded thousands of other boys. Once he drew his pistol to shoot a Hitler Youth deserter, but was prevented from doing so by an old Wehrmacht sergeant. Heck admitted afterwards, that he had become intoxicated by the power he wielded. In his two critically acclaimed books, A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika[H1], and The Burden of Hitler’s Legacy [H2], Heck described the replacement of his parents’ morality by the Nazi ideology:

“We five- and six-year-olds received a daily dose of Nazi instruction, which we swallowed as naturally as our mother’s milk. The very young became defenseless receptacles for whatever was crammed into us,” especially anti-Semitism. “To us innocents in the Hitler Youth, the Jews were proclaimed as devious and cunning overachievers, especially in their aim of polluting our pure Aryan race, whatever that meant.”

Learning how to use a machine gun

Children and adults alike were lead to believe that the war Hitler started was actually unleashed… by Jews. Thus, the Waffen SS recruitment poster, shown here, intended for Flemish speaking Belgians urges to join the SS Langemarck Division. The caption in red says: “Our answer: Pick up your arms and fight!” TheUnited Kingdom (England proper) is personified as a Jew with the Union Jack on his belly, grabbing ontoEurope. It did not matter that in England’s population of 45 million people, Jews numbered about 250 thousand, or 0.5% of the population, and their political and cultural influence was miniscule.

“… My defense of the Hitler-Jugend is that even at sixteen, few of my comrades had any inkling that they were pawns of an evil empire. Bombarded by incessant indoctrination from kindergarten on, and surrounded by adults who were either captivated themselves or lacked the suicidal courage to tell the truth, they never had the luxury of any choice. To expect a child to be that discerning was ridiculous!”

This brainwashing was highly effective because a young boy or a girl was removed from the influence of the parental home at an early age, and if the father or mother objected, the SS would interpret that as a sign of disloyalty toward the Reich, which had life-threatening consequences. The parents were told: Your son is not your personal property, solely at your disposal. He is on loan to you but he is the property of the German Volk. To object to his name being put forward for an elite school is tantamount to insulting the Reich and the Fuhrer."

This indoctrination took years to shake off, but it was shaken-off to varying degrees, albeit with much emotional pain. The children’s identification with the Fuhrer, no matter how intense it once seemed, was actually superficial, because the ersatz father-figure never provided the intense give-and-take of a genuine father-child relationship. They were a generation of “nobody's children,” who were encouraged to rebel against their parents in order to belong to the state. They were psychologically capable of discarding their commitment to Hitler’s dark and mystical ideology of National Socialism, but this process was accompanied by a considerable degree of moral disorientation. They ran out of marching orders, unable to think for themselves. Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Adolf Hitler, the Nazi maniac who mesmerized the German nation for 12 years, formulated the essence of propaganda in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle,) even today studiously read by politicians, including USpresidents, fishing for clues to political success. Not unlike Hitler who appealed to chauvinism and Anti-Semitism, contemporary US politicians appeal to male-bashing, accusing men of being the source of all evil, while spending a considerable time during the election campaigns kissing babies. “Motherhood and Apple-pie” always worked wonders in America.

Here’s one of Hitler’s gems, from chapter VI:

Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (. ) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (. ) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses.

The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (. ) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

Nazi Guerillas, the Werwolf

With capitulation of the Nazi Germany, the war was not over for the Hitler Youth. In various areas, radicals attempted to continue the fight, even months after the final German surrender. Others joined in droves the doomed National Socialist guerilla movement, Werwolf, which terrorized the occupying allied forces. For up to two years after the Nazis surrendered on May 7, 1945, the threat of a Nazi insurgency loomed over Germany. Towards the end of 1944, about 5,000 members of the elite Nazi SS and the Hitler Youth were recruited and sworn into the Werwolf, trained in terrorist tactics and guerilla warfare.

It was a loose network of terrorist sleeper cells, made up of terrified, starving teenagers and fanatical Nazis, some – delusional enough to believe in a Nazi counter-revolution and resurrection, some – malicious enough to carry out a scorched earth policy attacking the allied military units and German civilians to discourage collaboration with Allied forces trying to restore Germany’s democratic traditions. Their tactics varied, but remained typically terroristic: assassinations, sniping attacks and sabotage.

The Berlin Education Department officials were amazed to hear the Soviet General Nikolai Berzarin, the first commandant of Berlin, to say “I want your children to be brought up in the spirit of respect for God.” He ordered all restrictions imposed by the Nazis on the celebration of religious holidays to be annulled. It was a counter-measure, of course: The agnostic Soviet General was advised by NKVD intelligence officers that Hitler Youth could be best described as a Godless Satanic-like cult, a description which was not far off target. Apparently, Werwolf did not appreciate the general’s largess: they ambushed and assassinated General Berzarin on June 16, 1945, a month after the war ended, although NKVD reported that he died in a motorcycle accident, presumably crashing at full speed into a column of military trucks. Similarly, Werwolf assassinated the senior liaison officer of Field Marshal Montgomery, an event which the British press did not cover. There was a Werwolf bombing of a police station, claiming 44 victims, and many other acts of terror.

Less than two months before Germany’s surrender, a Werwolf group comprised of an SS man, 2 HJ boys and a BDM girl executed an order signed by Himmler himself in one of a few notable Werwolf missions: they assassinated the new German lord mayor of Aachen, Franz Oppenhoff, an anti-fascist installed in office by the American troops. The group parachuted from a Nazi-captured American B-17 Flying Fortress, murdered a Dutch border guard, walked into Aachen, killed its lord mayor in his home, then fled, pursued by American soldiers. They all perished, presumably “stepping on the land-mines[3],” but most likely – summarily executed by the American troops. Their suicidal mission gave Goebbels the last chance to gloat about the long arm of the NSDAP, just days before his suicide. Another 2 HJ’s, a 16- and a 17-year old, who parachuted behind American lines, were captured and executed on June-1, 1945, a typical outcome, whether any terrorist actions were carried out or failed. A Pentagon report listed 42 American soldiers “killed as a result of enemy action” after the war, between June and December 1945. But in the year 1946, there were just three.

The Werwolf operations behind the Soviet lines – massacres of civilians and sniping at occupying forces – did not last long, with NKVD capturing the terrorists, then capturing their families, treating them no better than their American collegues.

The members of Werwolf were not treated in kid’s gloves by the Soviet NKVD: Some were executed and some sent to the prisoner camps, to join the Volksturm and Hitlejugend prisoners of war of odd ages, already there. Some kids, in return for being spared beatings or execution, were recruited by the NKVD and, when released, were forced to play along with their Werwolf comrades and act as double-agents provocateurs. The NKVD sought to isolate and destroy the Werwolf centers, arrest and interrogate all its members. Its efforts to “re-educate” the youngsters were focused on confinement and forced labor. The Soviet and German cities and villages were in ruins and could use some forced labor.

“… Among the boys and girls themselves, there was often a happy re-emergence of common sense, which bubbled to the surface even through the thickest muck of ideology and thought control… Thus, a unit of three HJ’s actually slipped through American lines with orders to attack targets of opportunity, but, once across the lines, they almost immediately headed for home, on the way throwing their equipment into a manure pit. This was an act with an unmistakable symbolic resonance. The CIC finally caught up with these young men and interrogated them, although they did not arrest them - 'The boys did not appear to be thoroughly indoctrinated with Nazism, nor did they seem interested in carrying out the mission the Germans had assigned them.’ ” Although thoroughly indoctrinated, these youth were also disillusioned.


Welcome to our new and improved comments , which are for subscribers only . This is a test to see whether we can improve the experience for you. You do not need a Facebook profile to participate.

You will need to register before adding a comment. Typed comments will be lost if you are not logged in.

Please be polite. It's OK to disagree with someone's ideas, but personal attacks, insults, threats, hate speech, advocating violence and other violations can result in a ban. If you see comments in violation of our community guidelines, please report them.

WILSON Genealogy

WikiTree is a community of genealogists growing an increasingly-accurate collaborative family tree that's 100% free for everyone forever. Please join us.

Please join us in collaborating on WILSON family trees. We need the help of good genealogists to grow a completely free shared family tree to connect us all.


Volumes have already been written on the subject of the Bolshevik Revolution and many more will be written in the years to come. Here we can only try to note its essential character.

Many Americans are under the delusion that the Russian Revolution was merely a revolution of industrial workers against a small but powerful group of capitalists. This misunderstanding is due to the fact that most people think it took place according to the predictions of the German socialist writer Karl Marx.

In his most famous works&mdashCapital and The Communist Manifesto&mdashMarx had expressed the belief that the communist revolution would take place in a highly industrialized country like Germany, or possibly Britain.

Russia did not fit Marx&rsquos prophecy

Actually, nothing could have fitted Karl Marx&rsquos revolutionary formula less than did Russia in 1917. At that time, as has already been pointed out, Russia was a backward agricultural country. Much of its industry, then still in its infancy, had been financed largely by foreign, not native capital. In 1917 the vast majority of the population were peasants, and the industrial workers, although growing in numbers, were still in a very small minority.

Even though efforts were being made to introduce legislation regarding wages, hours, and conditions of work, factory workers at that time were living in wretched conditions. These economic hardships caused them to play a far greater part in the November revolution than would have been expected from their numbers.

The really large group of underprivileged people in Russia, however, were not the industrial workers, but the peasants. When they were freed from serfdom in 1861, the peasants got some land and the promise of more. In 1914 there were few really landless peasants. Most peasant families owned land either individually or as part of a collective group called the mir or commune. But their holdings were so small that most of them had to work as tenants or farm hands on the estates of big landowners, or on the farms of richer peasants, known as kulaks (tight fists), or on land owned by the state or the church.

In 1917 Russia had not only factory workers who sought to overthrow an industrial capitalist class, but masses of peasants without enough land to make their living on. They wanted more land and hoped to obtain it at the expense of such great landowners as the monarchy, the nobility, the church, and most important of all, the state. The actual coup that brought Lenin to power, however, was carried out by a group of professional revolutionaries, with the support of the mutinous Petrograd garrison. It is important to note that this coup overthrew the Kerensky government, which was seeking to establish a democratic regime after having overthrown czarism in March 1917.

The Bolshevik leaders

The November revolution was led by a group of intellectuals, most of whom had never seen a worker&rsquos bench or used a peasant&rsquos plow. Many of them&mdashnotably Lenin and Trotsky&mdashhad lived in exile abroad because their views had brought them into conflict with the czarist government. The guiding spirit of the revolution was Lenin, who came from the intelligentsia and had spent his life not in manual work but in writing and speaking.

Factory workers played an important role in destroying the old government and in defending the new Soviet regime as it proceeded to socialize production (first of all in industry and trade, then in agriculture). But measured by the size of the forces engaged, the revolution of 1917 was chiefly an agrarian revolt. The slogan of the Bolshevik leaders in 1917 was &ldquoPeace, Land, and Bread.&rdquo

Bread was desired by everyone, since the war had disrupted transportation and created shortages of food in the cities. Peace, too, was desired by many, especially by the soldiers at the front, who lacked munitions. But land, above all, was desired by the peasants, who for 50 years had suffered from acute &ldquoland hunger.&rdquo

In 1917 many peasants thought they were going to oust all the big landowners and become individual owners of land themselves. This did not happen, in the long run, because the Soviet government had no intention of transforming peasants into individual property owners. The Soviet leader feared that ownership of land by the peasants would restore capitalism in another form. The Soviet authorities were determined to destroy all possible roots of capitalism in Russia. Their plan was to create the same status for workers in factories&mdashwho do not own the plant and merely receive wages for operating machinery&mdashand for workers on farms where the peasants would also become wage earners. The land, like the factories, banks, and natural resources of the country was to become the property not of individual peasants but of the state, which was to reward the peasants for their work.

Government vs. peasants

The plans of the Soviet leaders met with bitter and stubborn opposition on the part of the peasants. They fought the government tooth and nail for many years&mdashsometimes actively, most often passively. They sometimes refused to sow or else to gather the harvest, and sometimes they damaged stores of grain and other foodstuffs. The government retaliated by various measures of repression. Sending offenders to remote areas of the country where they were forced to work on roads, railways, and other tasks was a favorite penalty.

Now practically all land in Russia is the property of the state. There are a few large-scale state farms which are run like factories, the workers being paid regular wages. Most of the land, however, is cultivated by collective farms whose members receive a share of the farm&rsquos net profits. The most crucial struggle of the Soviet leaders was not a struggle waged by industrial workers against bankers, factory owners, and landlords. It was a struggle between the Bolsheviks and the peasants. To the extent that the Soviet government claimed to represent factory workers it was also a struggle between workers and peasants, between the town and the country.

Catching up with the outside world

This struggle was waged side by side with the other great struggle of the Bolshevik Revolution&mdashthe effort to transform backward Russia into a modern industrial state that could be independent of the outside world. The Soviet leaders not only wanted to liberate Russia from a dependence on the outside world which, in their opinion, threatened to make Russia a colony of advanced industrial powers. They also wanted to make the country safe from attack by one or more &ldquocapitalist&rdquo states.

Today the state owns all the country&rsquos resources&mdashfactories, mines, and agricultural and mineral products of all kinds. Russia has thus jumped from the stage of primitive agriculture, with barely the beginnings of industrialization, to large-scale development of all resources by the state, either directly or through state cooperatives. In the main, it has skipped over the period of large individual enterprise, financed by private capital at private risk for private gain, which characterized the transition of Europe and the New World from primarily agricultural to primarily industrial economy.

Within the span of 25 years Russia has telescoped many of the revolutions which in other countries were spread over several centuries. In that brief period it has seen the downfall of monarchy and aristocracy, the breaking up of large landed estates, the advanced stages of the Industrial Revolution, and a wholesale development of state ownership and operation. This breathtaking pace in a country whose leaders, rightly or wrongly, considered it to be constantly menaced by a hostile &ldquocapitalist encirclement,&rdquo explains much that has seemed chaotic in Russia.

PICTURES FROM HISTORY: Rare Images Of War, History , WW2, Nazi Germany

Reason to live? A young Berlin woman with her baby.

A Viennese Jew in British army uniform, George Clare found another Jewess who had survived the war because her Aryan husband had refused to divorce her. He had been the headmaster of a Berlin Gymnasium or grammar school. The Nazis forced him out of his job and he had to work as a commercial traveller. Then the Russians came and he refused to hand over his bicycle, so they shot him.

These old German women are taking it well.

Berliners felt totally cut off from the outside world. There was no transport (all bicycles and cars were liable to requisition) and there was no telephone. Meanwhile the Russians were pulling up one set of railway lines on every track and taking these away with them. Anyone who had illegally retained their wireless set had to reckon with highly irregular power. The effect in the long term was to alter the nature of Berlin, from being the industrial powerhouse that it had been since the nineteenth century to being a city devoid of industry in the late twentieth.

This woman committed suicide. Despair or had she been harassed by the Soviet troops?

Preaching in Dahlem in July the anti-Nazi theologian Otto Dibelius drew attention to the mortality figures for Berlin. In normal times, the daily rate was around 200 in the war it had risen to nearer 250 as a result of the bombing now the figure was around 1,000, and this in a far smaller city. The famine was becoming acute. People, chiefly men, were falling like flies. The final killing spree and the high mortality rate after the cessation of hostilities meant that there were lots of dead to bury. There was nowhere to put them and no coffins, and the Allies would not help. Families had interred their loved ones in the ruins or laid them out in mortuary chapels. Berliners resorted to using large wooden cupboards or simply wrapping the body in a horse blanket tied up with cord.

Death and despair lay everywhere

Berlin in the spring of 1946. It had been a perishing winter with poor shelter. As it got progressively colder the lack of amenities had begun to pinch. Berliners collected wood from the ruins and bought candles on the black market. They scavenged for coal. Infant mortality stood at 80 to 90 per cent. As there was no glass in the windows, the cold wind came howling through the damaged buildings.

Only old men and young women remained in Berlin

One can but admire the grit and determination of the German people who rose from the ruins and humiliation to build a powerful and prosperous nation again.

Trying to rebuild their lives

23 January 1945 - History

General Election (1945-46)

The 1945-46 elections were, by far, the most critical at all levels in the annals of the history of the Indian sub-continent. The first Simla Conference had broken down on July 14, 1945, on the controversial issue of the representative culture of the All India Muslim League (AIML). Also, once World War II was over the new government in Britain took control. The new government gave some new instructions to the Viceroy of India. So, on August 21, 1945, the Viceroy Lord Wavell announced that elections to the central and provincial legislatures would be held in the coming winter. As for the first phase, it was decided that election to the central legislative assembly would be held to be followed by the election to the provincial assemblies.

The Muslim League announced that it would fight the elections on the two clear-cut issues –

Pakistan is the national demand of the Muslims of India and the Muslim League is their sole representative organization. Soon after the announcement regarding the general election, the Muslim League started preparation to contest them. The League’s position in 1945 was entirely different from what it had been at the time of the previous election held in1937. It was now well established as a mass organization with branches in every province, district, tehsils, and village. To cope with the finance of the election Quaid-i-Azam asked the Muslims in his characteristic style “give us the silver bullets and we will finish the job.”

For Jinnah and the Muslim League election campaign was urgent and also extraordinarily hectic and brisk. He suffered bouts of serious illness at the time. However, Quaid-i-Azam did not slacken his pace and in a mere 24 weeks, between mid-July and the end of December 1945 “addressed thousands and had talks with hundreds,” as he stated. During this short period, he spoke at more than twenty-six gatherings across the provinces of Bombay, Sindh, Baluchistan, and the Frontier, gave out thirty-two press statements and interviews, met several delegations, and received and answered a great deal of political correspondence. In this endeavor, Jinnah was helped by a team of highly committed deputies. He had formed the All India Muslim League Committee of Action in December 1943 and later the Central Parliamentary Board whose proceedings are also printed in this volume. These small bodies of dedicated office-holders selected Muslim League candidates, settled differences and appeals over the award of League tickets, distributed funds, coordinated elections work from their Delhi head office, and travelled and supervised election activity all over India. In this, they were supported admirably by the All India and Provincial Muslim Students Federations whose members, especially at Aligarh, set examples of selflessness, sacrifice and dedication.

Elections for the Central Legislature were held in December 1945. Though the franchise was limited, the turnover was extraordinary. League’s performance was even more impressive as it managed to win all the 30 seats reserved for the Muslims. The results of the provincial election held in early 1946 were not different. Congress won most of the non-Muslim seats while Muslim League captured approximately 95 percent of the Muslim seats. On the other hand, the League celebrated January 11, 1946, as the Day of victory and declared that the election results were enough to prove that the Muslim League under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam was the sole representative of the Muslims of the region.

All said and done, it was the last variable that made Pakistan possible. Indeed, the massive electoral verdict in Pakistan’s favor during 1945-46 was the most important development between 1940 and 1947 between the adoption of the Lahore Resolution and the emergence of Pakistan. By all standards, this verdict represented the most critical step in the establishment of Pakistan. It was clear to the Congress that the Muslim League was the authoritative representative of an overwhelming majority of the Muslims in India, but it neither accepted it openly nor challenged its position.

For both the Congress and the League, the prime issue in the 1945-46 elections was the creation of Pakistan as opposed to the idea of Akhand Hindustan. Hence, the elections represented a referendum of sorts, as suggested by Gandhi, to ascertain the declared and established will of Muslims on the nationhood and separation issues. Once that will was given in Pakistan’s favor, its emergence (in some form or another) could no longer be resisted or delayed.

Adolf Hitler

Born in Braunau am Inn, Austria, on April 20, 1889, Adolf Hitler was the son of a fifty-two-year-old Austrian customs official, Alois Schickelgruber Hitler, and his third wife, a young peasant girl, Klara Poelzl, both from the backwoods of lower Austria. The young Hitler was a resentful, discontented child. Moody, lazy, of unstable temperament, he was deeply hostile towards his strict, authoritarian father and strongly attached to his indulgent, hard-working mother, whose death from cancer in December 1908 was a shattering blow to the adolescent Hitler.

After spending four years in the Realschule in Linz, he left school at the age of sixteen with dreams of becoming a painter. In October 1907, the provincial, middle-class boy left home for Vienna, where he was to remain until 1913 leading a bohemian, vagabond existence. Embittered at his rejection by the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, he was to spend &ldquofive years of misery and woe&rdquo in Vienna as he later recalled, adopting a view of life which changed very little in the ensuing years, shaped as it was by a pathological hatred of Jews and Marxists, liberalism and the cosmopolitan Habsburg monarchy.

Existing from hand to mouth on occasional odd jobs and the hawking of sketches in low taverns, the young Hitler compensated for the frustrations of a lonely bachelor&rsquos life in miserable male hostels by political harangues in cheap cafes to anyone who would listen and indulging in grandiose dreams of a Greater Germany.

In Vienna he acquired his first education in politics by studying the demagogic techniques of the popular Christian-social Mayor, Karl Lueger, and picked up the stereotyped, obsessive anti-Semitism with its brutal, violent sexual connotations and concern with the &ldquopurity of blood&rdquo that remained with him to the end of his career.

From crackpot racial theorists like the defrocked monk, Lanz von Liebenfels, and the Austrian Pan-German leader, Georg von Schoenerer, the young Hitler learned to discern in the &ldquoEternal Jew&rdquo the symbol and cause of all chaos, corruption and destruction in culture, politics and the economy. The press, prostitution, syphilis, capitalism, Marxism, democracy and pacifism &ndash all were so many means which &ldquothe Jew&rdquo exploited in his conspiracy to undermine the German nation and the purity of the creative Aryan race.

World War I

In May 1913, Hitler left Vienna for Munich and, when war broke out in August 1914, he joined the Sixteenth Bavarian Infantry Regiment, serving as a dispatch runner. Hitler proved an able, courageous soldier, receiving the Iron Cross (First Class) for bravery, but did not rise above the rank of Lance Corporal. Twice wounded, he was badly gassed four weeks before the end of the war and spent three months recuperating in a hospital in Pomerania. Temporarily blinded and driven to impotent rage by the abortive November 1918 revolution in Germany as well as the military defeat, Hitler, once restored, was convinced that fate had chosen him to rescue a humiliated nation from the shackles of the Versailles Treaty, from Bolsheviks and Jews.

Assigned by the Reichswehr in the summer of 1919 to &ldquoeducational&rdquo duties which consisted largely of spying on political parties in the overheated atmosphere of post-revolutionary Munich, Hitler was sent to investigate a small nationalistic group of idealists, the German Workers&rsquo Party. On September 16. 1919, he entered the Party (which had approximately forty members), soon changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers&rsquo Party (NSDAP) and had imposed himself as its Chairman by July 1921.

Hitler Was No Superman

Hitler promoted the idea of the Übermensch, a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race of strong, tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan supermen. The Nazis sought to breed such men through the &ldquoLebensborn&rdquo program. Ironically, the only &ldquosuper&rdquo characteristic he shared was blue eyes. Hitler was a 5' 9", skinny 155-pound (no one knows because he refused to undress for medical examinations), brown-haired Austrian.

Hitler was a vegetarian who did not smoke or drink. Dr. Ernst Gunther Schenck, who studied Hitler&rsquos medical record, said, &ldquo'Hitler`s initial complaints were the colitis that had bothered him for years, a mild kidney condition and a problem with a leg injury suffered during World War I. Morell helped him with all three problems. From the date they met in 1937 until April 1945, Hitler had absolute confidence in Morell.&rdquo

Besides resisting a complete physical, Hitler refused to be X-rayed. &ldquoMany of his symptoms were psychosomatic,&rdquo Schenck added. &ldquoAlmost daily, he complained to Morell about numerous pains. He demanded injections of invigorating and tranquilizing drugs, complained of headaches, stomach aches, constipation and diarrhea, constant colds, insomnia and many other discomforts. He described every pain very carefully and he complained bitterly.&rdquo

He was given hundreds of injections he believed would restore his energy and believed he would feel better if he could execute the generals that betrayed him, &ldquoBut in truth, he probably had an irritable bowel syndrome, and the stress aggravated it beyond his endurance.&rdquo

Schenck said Hitler was prescribed 92 different medications, some of which had not been scientifically tested. Morell owned companies that manufactured 20 of the drugs. &ldquoHitler used many drugs, but he never became addicted to any one, including morphine, which was administered to him 25 times during 1943-44, for his stomach cramps. But he was psychologically dependent upon the idea of drugs as magic.&rdquo'

Before he died, Hitler was seen shaking, which may have been a result of Parkinson disease or withdrawal from drugs.

In addition, according to historians Jonathan Mayo and Emma Craigie, &ldquoHitler himself is believed to have had two forms of genital abnormality: an undescended testicle and a rare condition called penile hypospadias in which the urethra opens on the underside of the penis.&rdquo

Another historian, Ian Kershaw, said Hitler avoided sexual activity because he feared catching an infection. Others, however, have said he had a healthy sex life and was involved with several women, most notably his mistress Eva Braun and contrary to some reports, he never contracted syphilis.

Schenck also had an answer to the question of whether Hitler was insane. He compared him to other mass murderers in history &ndash Stalin, Franco, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon &ndash whose behavior he said &ldquocannot be explained medically or psychologically.&rdquo He concluded, &ldquo'Hitler was not insane. He had a political obsession that led him to attempt insane things. The German people followed him because, like Hitler, they believed that they were surrounded by dangerous enemies.&rdquo

Hitler Becomes a Leader

Hitler discovered a powerful talent for oratory as well as giving the new Party its symbol &mdash the swastika &mdash and its greeting &ldquoHeil!.&rdquo His hoarse, grating voice, for all the bombastic, humorless, histrionic content of his speeches, dominated audiences by dint of his tone of impassioned conviction and gift for self-dramatization. By November 1921, Hitler was recognized as Fuhrer of a movement which had 3,000 members and boosted his personal power by organizing strong- arm squads to keep order at his meetings and break up those of his opponents. Out of these squads grew the storm troopers (SA) organized by Captain Ernst Röhm and Hitler&rsquos black-shirted personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel (SS).

Hitler focused his propaganda against the Versailles Treaty, the &ldquoNovember criminals,&rdquo the Marxists and the visible, internal enemy No. 1, the &ldquoJew,&rdquo who was responsible for all Germany&rsquos domestic problems. In the twenty-five-point program of the NSDAP announced on February 24, 1920, the exclusion of the Jews from the Volk community, the myth of Aryan race supremacy and extreme nationalism were combined with &ldquosocialistic&rdquo ideas of profit-sharing and nationalization inspired by ideologues like Gottfried Feder.

Hitler&rsquos first written utterance on political questions dating from this period emphasized that what he called &ldquothe anti-Semitism of reason&rdquo must lead &ldquoto the systematic combating and elimination of Jewish privileges. Its ultimate goal must implacably be the total removal of the Jews.&rdquo

By November 1923, Hitler was convinced that the Weimar Republic was on the verge of collapse and, together with General Ludendorff and local nationalist groups, sought to overthrow the Bavarian government in Munich. Bursting into a beer-hall in Munich and firing his pistol into the ceiling, he shouted out that he was heading a new provisional government which would carry through a revolution against &ldquoRed Berlin.&rdquo Hitler and Ludendorff then marched through Munich at the head of 3,000 men, only to be met by police fire which left sixteen dead and brought the attempted putsch to an ignominious end.

Hitler was arrested and tried on February 26, 1924, succeeding in turning the tables on his accusers with a confident, propagandist speech which ended with the prophecy: &ldquoPronounce us guilty a thousand times over: the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile and tear to pieces the State Prosecutor&rsquos submission and the court&rsquos verdict for she acquits us.&rdquo

Sentenced to five years&rsquo imprisonment in Landsberg fortress, Hitler was released after only nine months during which he dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his loyal follower, Rudolf Hess. Subsequently the &ldquobible&rdquo of the Nazi Party, this crude, half-baked hotchpotch of primitive Social Darwinism, racial myth, anti-Semitism and lebensraum fantasy had sold over five million copies by 1939 and been translated into eleven languages.

The failure of the Beer-Hall putsch and his period of imprisonment transformed Hitler from an incompetent adventurer into a shrewd political tactician, who henceforth decided that he would never again confront the gun barrels of army and police until they were under his command. He concluded that the road to power lay not through force alone but through legal subversion of the Weimar Constitution, the building of a mass movement and the combination of parliamentary strength with extra-parliamentary street terror and intimidation. Helped by Goering and Goebbels he began to reassemble his followers and rebuild the movement which had disintegrated in his absence.

Rise of the Nazi Party

In January 1925, the ban on the Nazi Party was removed and Hitler regained permission to speak in public. Outmaneuvering the &ldquosocialist&rdquo North German wing of the Party under Gregor Strasser, Hitler re-established himself in 1926 as the ultimate arbiter to whom all factions appealed in an ideologically and socially heterogeneous movement. Avoiding rigid, programmatic definitions of National Socialism which would have undermined the charismatic nature of his legitimacy and his claim to absolute leadership, Hitler succeeded in extending his appeal beyond Bavaria and attracting both Right and Left to his movement.

Though the Nazi Party won only twelve seats in the 1928 elections, the onset of the Great Depression with its devastating effects on the middle classes helped Hitler to win over all those strata in German society who felt their economic existence was threatened. In addition to peasants, artisans, craftsmen, traders, small businessmen, ex-officers, students and déclassé intellectuals, the Nazis in 1929 began to win over the big industrialists, nationalist conservatives and army circles.

With the backing of the press tycoon, Alfred Hugenberg, Hitler received a tremendous nationwide exposure just as the effects of the world economic crisis hit Germany, producing mass unemployment, social dissolution, fear and indignation. With demagogic virtuosity, Hitler played on national resentments, feelings of revolt and the desire for strong leadership using all the most modern techniques of mass persuasion to present himself as Germany&rsquos redeemer and messianic savior.

In the 1930 elections, the Nazi vote jumped dramatically from 810,000 to 6,409,000 (18.3 percent of the total vote) and they received 107 seats in the Reichstag. Prompted by Hjalmar Schacht and Fritz Thyssen, the great industrial magnates began to contribute liberally to the coffers of the NSDAP, reassured by Hitler&rsquos performance before the Industrial Club in Dusseldorf on January 27, 1932, that they had nothing to fear from the radicals in the Party.

The following month Hitler officially acquired German citizenship and decided to run for the Presidency, receiving 13,418,011 votes in the run-off elections of April 10, 1931, as against 19,359,650 votes for the victorious von Hindenburg, but four times the vote for the communist candidate, Ernst Thaelmann.

In the Reichstag elections of July 1932, the Nazis emerged as the largest political party in Germany, obtaining nearly fourteen million votes (37.3 per cent) and 230 seats. Although the NSDAP fell back in November 1932 to eleven million votes (196 seats), Hitler was helped to power by a camarilla of conservative politicians led by Franz von Papen, who persuaded the reluctant von Hindenburg to nominate &ldquothe Bohemian corporal&rdquo as Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933.

Once in the saddle, Hitler moved with great speed to outmaneuver his rivals, virtually ousting the conservatives from any real participation in government by July 1933, abolishing the free trade unions, eliminating the communists, Social Democrats and Jews from any role in political life and sweeping opponents into concentration camps. The Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933, had provided him with the perfect pretext to begin consolidating the foundations of a totalitarian one-party State, and special &ldquoenabling laws&rdquo were ramrodded through the Reichstag to legalize the regime&rsquos intimidatory tactics.

With support from the nationalists, Hitler gained a majority at the last &ldquodemocratic&rdquo elections held in Germany on March 5, 1933, and with cynical skill he used the whole gamut of persuasion, propaganda, terror and intimidation to secure his hold on power. The seductive notions of &ldquoNational Awakening&rdquo and a &ldquoLegal Revolution&rdquo helped paralyze potential opposition and disguise the reality of autocratic power behind a facade of traditional institutions.

Hitler As Fuhrer

Hitler after an SS rally in Berlin

The destruction of the radical SA leadership under Ernst Rohm in the Blood Purge of June 1934 confirmed Hitler as undisputed dictator of the Third Reich and by the beginning of August, when he united the positions of Fuhrer and Chancellor on the death of von Hindenburg, he had all the powers of State in his hands. Avoiding any institutionalization of authority and status which could challenge his own undisputed position as supreme arbiter, Hitler allowed subordinates like Himmler, Goering and Goebbels to mark out their own domains of arbitrary power while multiplying and duplicating offices to a bewildering degree.

During the next four years Hitler enjoyed a dazzling string of domestic and international successes, outwitting rival political leaders abroad just as he had defeated his opposition at home. In 1935, he abandoned the Versailles Treaty and began to build up the army by conscripting five times its permitted number. He persuaded Great Britain to allow an increase in the naval building program and in March 1936 he occupied the demilitarized Rhineland without meeting opposition. He began building up the Luftwaffe and supplied military aid to Francoist forces in Spain, which brought about the Spanish fascist victory in 1939.

The German rearmament program led to full employment and an unrestrained expansion of production, which reinforced by his foreign policy successes &ndash the Rome-Berlin pact of 1936, the Anschluss with Austria and the &ldquoliberation&rdquo of the Sudeten Germans in 1938 &ndash brought Hitler to the zenith of his popularity. In February 1938, he dismissed sixteen senior generals and took personal command of the armed forces, thus ensuring that he would be able to implement his aggressive designs.

Hitler&rsquos saber-rattling tactics bludgeoned the British and French into the humiliating Munich agreement of 1938 and the eventual dismantlement of the Czechoslovakian State in March 1939. The concentration camps, the Nuremberg racial laws against the Jews, the persecution of the churches and political dissidents were forgotten by many Germans in the euphoria of Hitler&rsquos territorial expansion and bloodless victories. The next designated target for Hitler&rsquos ambitions was Poland (her independence guaranteed by Britain and France) and, to avoid a two-front war, the Nazi dictator signed a pact of friendship and non-aggression with Soviet Russia.

World War II

On September 1, 1939, German armed forces invaded Poland and henceforth Hitler&rsquos main energies were devoted to the conduct of a war he had unleashed to dominate Europe and secure Germany&rsquos &ldquoliving space.&rdquo

The first phase of World War II was dominated by German Blitzkrieg tactics: sudden shock attacks against airfields, communications, military installations, using fast mobile armor and infantry to follow up on the first wave of bomber and fighter aircraft. Poland was overrun in less than one month, Denmark and Norway in two months, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and France in six weeks. After the fall of France in June 1940 only Great Britain stood firm.

The Battle of Britain, in which the Royal Air Force prevented the Luftwaffe from securing aerial control over the English Channel, was Hitler&rsquos first setback, causing the planned invasion of the British Isles to be postponed. Hitler turned to the Balkans and North Africa where his Italian allies had suffered defeats, his armies rapidly overrunning Greece, Yugoslavia, the island of Crete and driving the British from Cyrenaica.

The crucial decision of his career, the invasion of Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941, was rationalized by the idea that its destruction would prevent Great Britain from continuing the war with any prospect of success. He was convinced that once he kicked the door in, as he told Alfred Jodl (q.v.), &ldquothe whole rotten edifice [of communist rule] will come tumbling down&rdquo and the campaign would be over in six weeks. The war against Russia was to be an anti-Bolshevik crusade, a war of annihilation in which the fate of European Jewry would finally be sealed. At the end of January 1939, Hitler had prophesied that &ldquoif the international financial Jewry within and outside Europe should succeed once more in dragging the nations into a war, the result will be, not the Bolshevization of the world and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.&rdquo

As the war widened &ndash the United States by the end of 1941 had entered the struggle against the Axis powers &ndash Hitler identified the totality of Germany&rsquos enemies with &ldquointernational Jewry,&rdquo who supposedly stood behind the British-American-Soviet alliance. The policy of forced emigration had manifestly failed to remove the Jews from Germany&rsquos expanded lebensraum, increasing their numbers under German rule as the Wehrmacht moved East.

The widening of the conflict into a world war by the end of 1941, the refusal of the British to accept Germany&rsquos right to continental European hegemony (which Hitler attributed to &ldquoJewish&rdquo influence) and to agree to his &ldquopeace&rdquo terms, the racial-ideological nature of the assault on Soviet Russia, finally drove Hitler to implement the &ldquoFinal Solution of the Jewish Question&rdquo which had been under consideration since 1939. The measures already taken in those regions of Poland annexed to the Reich against Jews (and Poles) indicated the genocidal implications of Nazi-style &ldquoGermanization&rdquo policies. The invasion of Soviet Russia was to set the seal on Hitler&rsquos notion of territorial conquest in the East, which was inextricably linked with annihilating the &lsquobiological roots of Bolshevism&rsquo and hence with the liquidation of all Jews under German rule.

At first the German armies carried all before them, overrunning vast territories, overwhelming the Red Army, encircling Leningrad and reaching within striking distance of Moscow. Within a few months of the invasion Hitler&rsquos armies had extended the Third Reich from the Atlantic to the Caucasus, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. But the Soviet Union did not collapse as expected and Hitler, instead of concentrating his attack on Moscow, ordered a pincer movement around Kiev to seize the Ukraine, increasingly procrastinating and changing his mind about objectives. Underestimating the depth of military reserves on which the Russians could call, the caliber of their generals and the resilient, fighting spirit of the Russian people (whom he dismissed as inferior peasants), Hitler prematurely proclaimed in October 1941 that the Soviet Union had been &ldquostruck down and would never rise again.&rdquo He had overlooked the pitiless Russian winter to which his own troops were now condemned, and which forced the Wehrmacht to abandon the highly mobile warfare which had previously brought such spectacular successes.

The disaster before Moscow in December 1941 led him to dismiss his Commander-in-Chief von Brauchitsch, and many other key commanders who sought permission for tactical withdrawals, including Guderian, Bock, Hoepner, von Rundstedt and Leeb, found themselves cashiered. Hitler now assumed personal control of all military operations, refusing to listen to advice, disregarding unpalatable facts and rejecting everything that did not fit into his preconceived picture of reality. His neglect of the Mediterranean theatre and the Middle East, the failure of the Italians, the entry of the United States into the war, and above all the stubborn determination of the Russians, pushed Hitler on to the defensive. From the winter of 1941, the writing was on the wall, but Hitler refused to countenance military defeat, believing that implacable will and the rigid refusal to abandon positions could make up for inferior resources and the lack of a sound overall strategy.

Convinced that his own General Staff was weak and indecisive, if not openly treacherous, Hitler became more prone to outbursts of blind, hysterical fury towards his generals, when he did not retreat into bouts of misanthropic brooding. His health, too, deteriorated under the impact of the drugs prescribed by his quack physician, Dr. Theodor Morell. Hitler&rsquos personal decline, symbolized by his increasingly rare public appearances and his self-enforced isolation in the &ldquoWolf&rsquos Lair,&rdquo his headquarters buried deep in the East Prussian forests, coincided with the visible signs of the coming German defeat which became apparent in mid-1942.

Allied Victory

Rommel&rsquos defeat at El Alamein and the subsequent loss of North Africa to the Anglo-American forces were overshadowed by the disaster at Stalingrad where General von Paulus&rsquos Sixth Army was cut off and surrendered to the Russians in January 1943. In July 1943, the Allies captured Sicily and Mussolini&rsquos regime collapsed in Italy.

In September the Italians signed an armistice and the Allies landed at Salerno, reaching Naples on October 1, and taking Rome on June 4, 1944. The Allied invasion of Normandy followed on June 6, 1944, and soon a million Allied troops were driving the German armies eastwards, while Soviet forces advanced relentlessly on the Reich from the opposite direction. The total mobilization of the German war economy under Albert Speer and the energetic propaganda efforts of Joseph Goebbels to rouse the fighting spirit of the German people were impotent to change the fact that the Third Reich lacked the resources equal to a struggle against the world alliance which Hitler himself had provoked.

Allied bombing began to have a telling effect on German industrial production and to undermine the morale of the population. The generals, frustrated by Hitler&rsquos total refusal to trust them in the field and recognizing the inevitability of defeat, planned, together with the small anti-Nazi resistance inside the Reich, to assassinate the Fuhrer on July 20, 1944, hoping to pave the way for a negotiated peace with the Allies that would save Germany from destruction. The plot failed and Hitler took implacable vengeance on the conspirators, watching with satisfaction a film of the grisly executions carried out on his orders.

To ensure loyalty from that point on, Hitler instituted a new policy called Sippenhaft in which family members could be held responsible, and subject to arrest and execution, for the actions of soldiers.

As the Allies moved inland from Normandy, Hitler ordered the military commander of the Paris region, Dietrich von Choltitz, to all but destroy the city &ndash raze the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the city&rsquos museums and blow up all the bridges &ndash before the Allies reached the city. Von Choltitz was considered one of Hitler&rsquos most loyal generals, one of the few who was not implicated in the assassination plot but had met with Hitler before taking the position in Paris and came away from the meeting convinced the Führer was deranged and the war was over.

Summoned to the Wolf&rsquos Lair, on August 6, 1944, Choltitz found &ldquoan old, bent-over, flabby man with thinning grey hair &ndash a trembling, physically demolished human being.&rdquo Von Choltitz recalled listening to Hitler rant about the plotters: &ldquoI witnessed the terrible eruption of a hateful mind&hellip. He spoke in bloodthirsty language with froth literally coming out of his mouth&hellip. Sweat was running down his face while he spoke excitedly about the hanging of the generals. I saw in front of me someone who had lost his mind&hellip. The fact that the life of our nation was in the hands of an insane being who could no longer judge the situation or was unwilling to see it realistically depressed me immensely.&rdquo He subsequently ignored Hitler&rsquos orders to devastate Paris, allowing the city to survive the war largely intact.

As disaster came closer, Hitler buried himself in the unreal world of the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, clutching at fantastic hopes that his &ldquosecret weapons,&rdquo the V-1 and V-2 rockets, would yet turn the tide of war. He gestured wildly over maps, planned and directed attacks with non-existent armies and indulged in endless, night-long monologues which reflected his growing senility, misanthropy and contempt for the &ldquocowardly failure&rdquo of the German people.

As the Red Army approached Berlin and the Anglo-Americans reached the Elbe, on March 19, 1945, Hitler ordered the destruction of what remained of German industry, communications and transport systems. He was resolved that, if he did not survive, Germany too should be destroyed. The same ruthless nihilism and passion for destruction which had led to the extermination of six million Jews in death camps, to the biological &ldquocleansing&rdquo of the sub-human Slavs and other subject peoples in the New Order, was finally turned on his own people.

Hitler&rsquos Death

As Soviet forces approached Berlin in late April 1945, Hitler began to contemplate suicide. On April 28, Mussolini had been shot by a firing squad and then hung by his feet in a public square in Milan, Italy. Fearing the same fate, Hitler tested cyanide pills he received from the SS on his Alsatian dog Blondi.

On April 29, 1945, he married his mistress Eva Braun and dictated his final political testament, concluding with the same monotonous, obsessive fixation that had guided his career from the beginning: &ldquoAbove all I charge the leaders of the nation and those under them to scrupulous observance of the laws of race and to merciless opposition to the universal poisoner of all peoples, international Jewry.&rdquo

The following day Hitler committed suicide. His body was carried into the garden of the Reich Chancellery by aides, covered with petrol and burned along with that of Eva Braun. This final, macabre act of self-destruction appropriately symbolized the career of a political leader whose main legacy to Europe was the ruin of its civilization and the senseless sacrifice of human life for the sake of power and his own commitment to the bestial nonsense of National Socialist race mythology. With his death nothing was left of the &ldquoGreater Germanic Reich,&rdquo of the tyrannical power structure and ideological system which had devastated Europe during the twelve years of his totalitarian rule.

Exterior of the Führerbunker shortly before its destruction. Hitler and Eva Braun's remains were burnt in a shell crater outside the emergency exit at the left.

Few Nazis witnessed the removal of the bodies and their cremation. Two of the men who were there, Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann, later killed themselves. The absence of witnesses prompted the emergence of a variety of conspiracy theories over the years regarding Hitler&rsquos fate, including the idea that he was still alive after the war.

General Hans Krebs (who later also committed suicide inside the Führerbunker) met Soviet General Vasily Chuikov on May 1 to inform him of Hitler&rsquos death. Stalin wanted proof and ordered Smersh, the counterintelligence organization of the Red Army, to dig up the cremated remains on May 5, 1945. They found a jawbone that was later identified as Hitler&rsquos by Käthe Heusermann, the assistant of the dictator&rsquos dentist.

The Soviets did not tell the other Allies Hitler was dead, preferring to promote the idea that Hitler survived. On May 2, 1945, for example, the state news agency Tass said that the announcement on German radio of the reports of Hitler&rsquos death were a &ldquofascist trick to cover [his] disappearance from the scene.&rdquo Stalin later told U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman and President Harry Truman&rsquos envoy, Harry Hopkins, that Hitler had escaped with Bormann, Goebbels, and Krebs. According to Jean-Marie Pottier, Stalin&rsquos reason for suggesting Hitler might have fled to the Western Hemisphere was to trick the Allies into pursuing the false lead.

Hitler&rsquos jawbone was taken to Moscow and the rest of the remains were reburied in June 1945 in a location outside Berlin. Smersh exhumed the corpses of Hitler, Braun, Goebbels, his wife, their six children, and Krebs, and buried them in the Soviet occupation zone in Magdeburg, East Germany. When the Magdeburg base was returned to East German control in 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov ordered the remains be destroyed.

The Soviets initially believed Hitler had killed himself with cyanide. Otto Günsche, Hitler&rsquos bodyguard, was captured by the NKVD (the Soviet law enforcement agency) and told them Hitler had shot himself in the head. This was confirmed during interrogations of Heinz Linge, Hitler&rsquos valet and his personal pilot Haus Baur. The Soviets did further excavations near the Führerbunker in May 1946 and discovered a skull fragment with a bullet hole.

The witnesses were secretly held by the Soviets for the next ten years while they continued to perpetuate the lie that Hitler was alive. The Allies had already confirmed his death, however, and did not accept the Soviets&rsquo subsequent claim that Hitler died by cyanide poisoning.

Meanwhile, the skull fragment and jawbone were kept in the Soviet state and FSB archives. In 2018, after months of negotiations, Russia&rsquos FSB secret service and the Russian state archives gave French scientists permission to examine a skull fragment with a hole on the left side and bits of teeth from the jawbone. They ultimately concluded that they could not prove the skull belonged to Hitler but confirmed he had died in 1945.

Based on their examination of the teeth, they were convinced Hitler had not shot himself in the mouth as some accounts had previously speculated. They also found evidence on the teeth of a &ldquochemical reaction between the cyanide and the metal of the dentures.&rdquo One of the investigators, Professor Philippe Charlier, said, &ldquoWe didn&rsquot know if he had used an ampule of cyanide to kill himself or whether it was a bullet in the head. It&rsquos in all probability both.&rdquo

Sources: Wistrich, Robert S. Who's Who in Nazi Germany, Routledge, 1997
Dennis L. Breo, &ldquoHitler&rsquos Medical File,&rdquo Chicago Tribune, (October 14, 1985).
Hitler, Adolf Medical Assessment, CIA, (November 29, 1945)
James Rothwell, &ldquoHitler &lsquohad tiny deformed penis&rsquo as well as just one testicle, historians claim,&rdquo Telegraph, (February 22, 2016).
Jean-Marie Pottier, &ldquoThey Saved Hitler&rsquos Skull. Or Did They?&rdquo Slate, (April 30, 2018)
Natasha Frost, &ldquoHitler&rsquos Teeth Reveal Nazi Dictator&rsquos Cause Of Death,&rdquo History, (May 19, 2018)
&ldquo9 Things You Might Not Know About Adolf Hitler,&rdquo Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Charles Trueheart, &ldquoThe Allies who liberated Paris, and the Nazi who saved it,&rdquo Washington Post, (August 22, 2019).

Photos courtesy of the USHMM and German Bundesarchiv
Portrait of Hitler from Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S62600 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Bunker photos from Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-V04744 / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

1925: The press support our cause

Under the chairmanship of critic and journalist John Bailey, we receive more sympathetic coverage from the press than at any time in our history, before or since. On 25 October a letter in The Times, appealing for funds for Ashridge in Hertfordshire, is signed by Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald and Herbert Asquith.

Stonehenge National Trust Chris Lacey

Watch the video: Военное дело - Война. Январь 45-го WW2. January 1945-th