The last survivor of Hitler's bunker speaks for the first time
The last survivor of the end days of Hitler's bunker tells his story publicly for the first time. Von Loringhoven was aide-de-camp to Hitler's last two chiefs of staff, Guderian and Krebs, and the link between the armies at the fronts and Hitler in his Berlin bunker. For the last nine months of the Third Reich he was present at the daily military briefings between Hitler and Marshals Keital and Goring, General Jodl and Admiral Donitz, along with Goebbels, Bormann, Ribbentrop, Himmler and Fegelein.
Von Lorninghoven was witness to the ever-growing gap between the reality of reports outside the bunker and Hitler's misunderstanding of the calamity that was encircling the regime. As the Third Reich spiralled downwards, he watched and recorded Hitler's catastrophic strategic mistakes and the paralysis in which he held his generals. Hitler's reason was twisted by his need for vengeance after the assissination attempt; he was searching for an impossible theatrical victory from an empire in total ruin.
The final week of the regime saw Loringhoven living wholly in the bunker, watching the deteriorating relations among the inmates, military and civilian, as the atmosphere poisoned to an inevitable end. When radio-telephone communications finally broke down on 29 April he escaped the bunker - amazingly with Hitler's blessing - crossed the Russian lines and was picked up and taken prisoner by the Americans. He was released in January 1948.
Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven was born in 1914 into an aristocratic German family. In 1934 he embarked on a career as an officer in the Reichswehr. He was one of the lucky few officers to escape the Russians at Stalingrad in 1943. After another year on the Russian Front he found himself appointed ADC to General Guderian, which took him via Hitler's HQ in East Prussia to the bunker in Berlin. Captured by the Americans at the end of the war, he filled four large notebooks with memories from the bunker during his two and a half years in prison, but kept them hidden for sixty years. After the war he joined the new German army, the Bundeswehr, eventually becoming its Deputy Chief of Staff. Now aged 92, he lives in Munich. It was the journalist Francois d'Alancon, a chief reporter for La Croix, Paris, who convinced him to tell of his experiences - the last nine months of the Third Reich.