The fall of Nazi Germany has been coming for a long time – 2 years before its end. Adolf Hitler and the Wehrmacht, Germany’s armed forces, had been fighting a losing battle against the Allied Forces of Britain, Russia, and the United States since the close of the year 1942. What nobody probably saw coming was the untimely and manner of death of Adolf Hitler, the Führer.
Events before the fall of Nazi Germany
The year 1942 made Germans see that their efforts to win the war is constantly getting stamped on by the Allied Forces. The Germans were known for producing high-quality war machines, but the number of combat aircrafts, tanks, and firearms they produce each year are nothing compared to the Allied Forces’ combined. In 1943, the machine guns produced by the Allied Forces amounted to more than a million in number while the Germans only managed to produce 165,000.
The fact that the Nazi Germans were far from friendly to their workers eventually made the workers unwilling to further contribute to the destruction brought by the war. To compensate for the lack of machinery and firearms, the Germans came to the conclusion that they should aim to stop the Allied Forces’ supplies and ammunitions from reaching the opponent’s armed forces. This plan drastically failed.
Following this, Hitler made the mistake of underestimating Joseph Stalin, former Premier of the Soviet Union. Hitler thought that Russia would be easy to capture and expected Russia to crumble once attacked. The Soviet Union indeed lost many of its people, but still won the struggle since there seems to be no limit to their manpower and resources. Germany was unable to produce enough machinery to completely defeat and take control of the Soviet Union. Many of the Wehrmacht starved to death as the battle pushed longer than they have imagined.
From this point on, Adolf Hitler and the rest of Nazi Germany suffered from consecutive losses. Many Germans have now come to believe that it is impossible to win the war. Morale is at its lowest and the citizens were just waiting for the end. Hamburg was bombed, many have died or were displaced, and the production of firearms was severely affected. This sparked anger from the citizens because the Nazis have failed to protect them.
As 1943 was coming to an end, it was very clear to the citizens that Germany is losing and has lost control in the battlefield. Many of the German armed forces were retreating and there was constant bombing. At this point, the people were just fighting to stay alive and hoping that the war would soon end as they, allies of the Nazi, were becoming victims of the Nazi war themselves. Their terror was used as fuel to keep them on their feet and fight for their country.
By 1944, Hitler was constantly being attacked by his enemies in the attempt to end his life. Even some of his soldiers made attempts to take his life, too. The most famous attempt is that of Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s, a German officer who came come to the conclusion that Adolf Hitler’s reign must come to an end after he was severely wounded at a North African campaign. He took the lead of the army officers conspiring to kill Hitler and was determined to do it himself.
Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s promotion colonel had given him access to certain events where Hitler was personally attending. He had two prior attempts before he had successfully planted a bomb at Hitler’s headquarters in East Prussia during a conference. This attempt failed to assassinate the Führer. It was also during this time that Hitler became reliant on drugs and his personal physician.
Significant events leading up to Hitler’s death
In 1945, Adolf Hitler was just a shell of the greatest-ever German military leader he once was. The Führer retreated to his underground bunker in Berlin as the Allied Forces’ armies, mainly the Russians, advanced and was nearing his location. Hitler refused to leave the bunker under any circumstances because he knew there was a great risk of him getting captured and he does not want to be caught alive or dead by his enemies.
Hitler was willing to keep on fighting as long as he has someone to command. If he lost all his allies, he is dedicated to shooting himself instead. His two most trusted comrades, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, do not share this ideology. Both men made their exit after they witnessed Hitler having a total meltdown in a military conference in the Führerbunker. They believed that Hitler completely lost control and was no longer able to lead as he was not in his best condition.
Hermann Göring was Hitler’s designated successor. And so, under the impression that Hitler was unable to lead the Reich especially because he was always in his bunker, he sent a telegram to Hitler asking if he could take over. Hitler, having already recovered from the total meltdown his comrades witnessed, deemed that Göring had committed high treason and was to be executed unless he resigns all his titles and offices immediately.
Simultaneously, Heinrich Himmler had been proposing to surrender all the Wehrmacht in the West to General Eisenhower, the current United States President. Himmler planned to play a key role in the new German-American-British alliance to-be. But his proposal was denied as his name and those he leads are associated with mass murder. When Hitler found out about his most loyal comrade’s betrayal, he was enraged and wants to have Himmler shot. He launched a tirade against incompetence and treachery of his commanders, where he finally declared the war, fueled by racism and prejudice, as lost.
At this point, the Soviets were mere miles from Berlin, and their pursuit of the Hitler’s headquarters was unrelenting. Despite tremendous pressure, Hitler remained firm and remained in the bunker. No last minute escapes were made, even though a hideaway in the Alps was readily available. He feared that fleeing could result to capture, and that was a situation he was unwilling to risk – he remained firm on the idea of suicide. By the 24th of April, the Soviets had completely surrounded the city. Escape was no longer an option.
Hitler later learned that Benito Mussolini, an ally, was executed by Italian partisans. His body, along with the body of his mistress Clara Petacci, have been hung up by their heels to be displayed. The bodies were later cut down and thrown into the gutter, where they were continuously mocked by Italian dissenters. Hitler was certain that the same fate would befall him.
What happened before Hitler died?
These events, according to some accounts in history, may have contributed to Hitler’s resolve to rely on suicide, as he refused to become a spectacle. Upon hearing the news, Hitler ordered Dr. Werner Haase, one of his physicians, to test the efficiency of cyanide capsules circulated by an SS physician, where it was carried out on his dog called Blondi, who died as a result.
According to witnesses in the bunker, shortly after midnight on April 29, Hitler married Eva Braun. They have been together since 1932, though their relationship has been kept private for the initial years. They lived together as husband and wife for less than 40 hours. The ceremony was followed with a wedding breakfast where Hitler gave a speech reminiscing his past victories and his two trusted comrades’ betrayal. After this, Hitler released his last will along with a two-part political testament, to his secretary.
By April 30, the forces commanded by Hitler to rescue Berlin has been surrounded. Leaders of the German command have relayed the information that they would only be able to hold off the advance for merely two days, three days at most. Here, Hitler finally came to the conclusion that his Thousand Year Reich was nearing its demise.
Shortly after meeting with his staff, Hitler and Braun had lunch with two of his secretaries and personal cook. After that, they bid farewell to the staff in the bunker and retired to their private chambers. Realizing that Hitler was about to truly commit suicide, Hitler’s four remaining military adjutants asked for permission to leave the bunker which Hitler approved of.
To this day, there are uncertainty surrounding the circumstances of the couple’s death. History narrates that the pair resorted to swallowing cyanide. For good measure, Hitler shot himself in the head using his pistol. The gunshot was heard at around 3:40PM, and after waiting for several more minutes, people went in to check on the study. They reportedly found Braun’s body away from Hitler, and clear that she has died by poisoning. Hitler was seated, his head leaning on the table front of him, with blood pooling on the carpet below. Their bodies were then wrapped in blankets to be carried up to the garden for cremation.
As per Hitler’s final orders, SS Officer Otto Günsche soaked the bodies in gasoline and burned them. Several of the officials stood by the burning corpses, where they raised their arms as salute to their fallen Führer. When there were only charred remains of Hitler and his wife, it was swept into a canvas and buried anonymously in a shell crater.
News surrounding his death quickly spread around – the first inkling of Hitler’s Death came from Germany, where one of the radio stations announced that Hitler has died that afternoon – his successor was President Karl Dönitz. According to Dönitz, Hitler was killed in action as he defended the Reich’s capital. Many celebrated Hitler’s death, including Germans because the struggles and trials they faced during the war is finally over.
Today, however, the death of Hitler remains to be contested, as many believe that he was able to flee Berlin. Conspiracies still surround his death; allegedly Hitler escaped to Argentina. But records in history and recent evidence continuously prove that the remains extracted from burial sites are Hitler’s. One thing remains certain: Hitler lives on in history as the vilest human to have ever lived, and brought about one of the worst cases of racism in Europe.
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Evans, R.J. (2009, September 8). Why Hitler's grand plan during the second world war collapsed. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/08/hitler-germany-campaign-collapsed