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Breakfast is served

“Hitler ate a late lunch with his two secretaries and his dietician. Dressed in a uniform jacket and black trousers, he then shook hands with his staff, murmuring a few words of farewell before retreating to his study. Eva Braun, wearing a blue dress trimmed in white, joined him at 3:30 p.m. [April 30, 1945.] Only a rattle of ventilator fans and the distant grumble of artillery broke the silence. Ten minutes later, aides opened the study door to find Braun slumped on a sofa, dead from cyanide. Next to her sat the lifeless Führer, a bullet hole from a Walther PPK 7.65mm pistol in his right temple. Twelve years and four [sic] months after it began, the Thousand-Year Reich had ended. Humanity would require decades, perhaps centuries, to parse the regime’s inhumanity, and to comprehend how a narcissistic beerhall demagogue had wrecked a nation, a continent, and nearly a world. ‘Never in history has such ruination—physical and moral—been associated with the name of one man, the chief instigator of the most profound collapse of civilization in modern times,’ wrote Hitler’s biographer, Ian Kershaw. Stalin, upon hearing the news, would need but a moment to compose the Führer’s epitaph: ‘So—that’s the end of the bastard.’ Henchmen wrapped the two bodies in blankets, carried them up four flights to the shell-pocked garden, doused them in gasoline, and let them burn for three hours, a small, pleasing blaze within the larger conflagration. ‘The chief’s on fire,’ a drunk SS bodyguard called down into the bunker. ‘Do you want to come and have a look?’ A chauffeur later complained that the ventilation fans wafted a stench of seared flesh through the labyrinth. ‘We could not get away from it,’ he said. ‘It smelled like burning bacon.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

Published inAdolf HitlerRick AtkinsonThe Second World War

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