ON THIS DAY    1 May      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1945: Germany announces Hitler is dead

AUDIO : Hitler's death as first announced by the BBC

Adolf Hitler has been killed at the Reich Chancery in Berlin, according to Hamburg radio.

At 2230 local time a newsreader announced that reports from the Fuhrer's headquarters said Hitler had "fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany".

It said he had appointed Grand Admiral Doenitz as his successor.

There followed an announcement by Admiral Doenitz in which he called on the German people to mourn their Fuhrer who, he said, died the death of a hero in the capital of the Reich.

Reports from Washington say US officials are suspicious of the announcement and are certainly not celebrating as yet.


"The news and the rumours now started to mount up - Hitler is dead, Mussolini has been hanged..."


They fear the timing of Doenitz's appointment may mean that Hitler is not dead but trying to escape or go underground.

In London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill would not make a statement to the Commons about the war situation in Europe except to say it was "definitely more satisfactory than it was this time five years ago".

Admiral Doenitz, famous for his U-boat victories in the first three years of the war, vowed to continue the battle against the Soviets and their western Allies.

"The British and the Americans do not fight for the interests of their own people but for the spreading of Bolshevism," he said.

As new head of state and supreme commander of the Wehrmacht - the German armed forces - he demanded discipline and obedience and urged German soldiers, "Do your duty. The life of our people is at stake."

There is now speculation in the British press as to whether the weakened German forces will follow Doenitz or Heinrich Himmler, head of the home army, the Volkssturm, the SS and the Gestapo.

He has made peace overtures to the Allies in recent days in meetings with Count Folke Bernadotte, a nephew of the King of Sweden, but so far these have come to nothing.

In Context
First details about the real circumstances of his death emerged on 20 June.

One of Hitler's bodyguards who escaped to the British side of Berlin said he had seen the partly burned bodies of Eva Braun and Hitler lying side by side in the grounds of the Reich Chancery near the entrance of his bunker.

Hitler had married Eva Braun on 29 April and they committed suicide the next day.

Hitler's "Thousand-Year Reich" lasted 12 years and three months.

Heinrich Himmler, whose attempts at peace talks with the Allies had convinced Hitler the war was over for Germany, offered to serve under Admiral Doenitz but was rejected.

After Germany surrendered on 7 May, Himmler tried to escape, was captured and committed suicide on 23 May.

Doenitz was sentenced to ten years' in prison at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |