Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler

Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler

Hanna Reitsch, the first female test pilot in the world, suggests the creation of the Nazi equivalent of a kamikaze squad of suicide bombers while visiting Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden. Hitler was less than enthusiastic about the idea.

Reitsch was born in 1912 in Hirschberg, Germany. She left medical school (she had wanted to be a missionary doctor) to take up flying full time, and became an expert glider pilot—gliders were motorless planes that the Germans developed to evade strict rules about building “war planes” after WWI. In addition to gaining experience with gliders, Reitsch also did stunt flying for the movies. In 1934, she broke the world’s altitude record for women (9,184 feet). An ardent Nazi and admirer of Hitler, she was made an honorary flight captain by the Fuhrer, the first woman to receive such an honor. In 1937, the Luftwaffe, the German air force, put her to work as a test pilot. Reitsch embraced this opportunity to fly as part of what she called Germany’s “guardians of the portals of peace.” Among her signal achievements was the testing of a proto-helicopter in 1939.

Reitsch came much closer than most women to seeing actual combat during World War II, depositing German troops along the Maginot Line in France during the Germans’ 1940 invasion by glider plane. She won an Iron Cross, Second Class, for risking her life trying to cut British barrage-balloon cables (the balloons were unmanned blimps, tethered in one place, from which steel cables dangled so as to foul the wings and propellers of enemy aircraft). Among the warplanes she tested was the Messerschmitt 163, a rocket-power interceptor that she flew 500 mph. While testing the ME 163 a fifth time, she spun out of control and crash-landed (even though she was injured during the crash, she nevertheless managed to write down exactly what happened before she passed out from her injuries). For this, Hitler awarded her an Iron Cross, First Class.

It was while receiving this second Iron Cross from Hitler in Berchtesgaden in 1944 that she pitched the idea of a Luftwaffe suicide squad of pilots who would fly specially designed versions of the V-1. Hitler was initially put off by the idea, only because he did not think it an effective or efficient use of resources. But Reitsch’s commitment persuaded him to investigate the prospect of designing such planes, at which point she put together a Suicide Group and was the first to take the following pledge: “I hereby…voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as a pilot of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death.” The squad was never deployed.

Reitsch was one of the last people to see Hitler alive. On April 26, 1945, she flew to Berlin with Gen. Ritter von Greim, who was to be given command of the Luftwaffe. Greim was wounded when Reitsch’s plane was hit by Soviet antiaircraft fire. After saying farewell to the Fuhrer, tucked away in his bunker, she flew Greim back out of Berlin.

After the war, Reitsch was captured and interned by the U.S. Army. She testified to the “disintegration” of Hitler’s personality that she claimed to have witnessed during the last days of the war. When released, Reitsch continued to set records, including becoming the first woman to fly a glider over the Alps. In 1951, she published her autobiography, Flying Is My Life, and from 1962 to 1966 she was director of the national school of gliding in Ghana. She died in 1979, only one year after setting a new women’s glider distance record. In her career, she set more than 40 world records for flying powered and motorless planes.


28/02/1944: Hanna Reitsch đề xuất thành lập đội bay cảm tử với Hitler

Vào ngày này năm 1944, khi đến thăm Adolf Hitler ở Berchtesgaden, Hanna Reitsch, nữ phi công bay thử nghiệm đầu tiên trên thế giới, đã gợi ý rằng Đức Quốc Xã nên thành lập một biệt đội bay tương tự như kamikaze (Thần Phong – đội máy bay đánh bom liều chết của Nhật). Tuy nhiên, Hitler không mấy nhiệt tình với ý tưởng này.

Reitsch sinh năm 1912 tại Hirschberg, Đức. Bà rời trường y (bà từng muốn trở thành một bác sĩ truyền giáo) để bắt đầu công việc bay toàn thời gian, và trở thành một phi công lái tàu lượn chuyên nghiệp – tàu lượn (glider) là loại máy bay không động cơ mà người Đức đã phát triển để trốn tránh các quy tắc nghiêm ngặt về việc chế tạo “máy bay chiến tranh” sau Thế chiến I. Ngoài việc tích lũy kinh nghiệm với tàu lượn, Reitsch còn là phi công đóng thế trong nhiều bộ phim.

Năm 1934, bà đã phá kỷ lục thế giới khi trở thành người phụ nữ bay ở độ cao cao nhất (2800m). Là một thành viên nhiệt thành của Đức Quốc Xã và đặc biệt ngưỡng mộ Hitler, Reitsch được vị Quốc trưởng phong làm cơ trưởng danh dự, trở thành người phụ nữ đầu tiên nhận được vinh dự này. Năm 1937, Luftwaffe, lực lượng Không Quân Đức, đưa bà vào làm phi công thử nghiệm. Bà đã nắm lấy cơ hội này để trở thành một phần của cái mà bà gọi là “những người bảo vệ cánh cổng hòa bình” của Đức. Trong số những thành tựu nổi bật của bà là việc thử nghiệm nguyên mẫu máy bay trực thăng vào năm 1939.

Reitsch đã đến gần chiến trường hơn bất kỳ phụ nữ nào khác trong Thế chiến II, khi giúp điều hướng quân Đức dọc theo Phòng tuyến Maginot ở Pháp trong cuộc xâm lược năm 1940 của quân Đức bằng tàu lượn. Bà đã giành được Huân chương Sắt, Hạng Nhì (Iron Cross, Second Class), vì đã liều mạng cố gắng cắt dây cáp ‘bóng bay’ của Anh (đây là loại khinh khí cầu không người lái, được buộc cố định ở một nơi, trên đó treo lủng lẳng nhiều sợi cáp bằng thép với mục đích làm hỏng cánh và động cơ của máy bay địch). Trong số các máy bay chiến đấu mà bà thử nghiệm có Messerschmitt 163, một máy bay đánh chặn chạy bằng tên lửa, bay với vận tốc 804 km/giờ. Trong khi thử nghiệm ME 163 lần thứ năm, bà đã mất kiểm soát và rơi xuống đất (mặc dù bị thương trong vụ va chạm, nhưng bà vẫn cố gắng viết ra chính xác những gì đã xảy ra trước khi bất tỉnh vì chấn thương). Vì điều này, Hitler đã trao tặng bà Huân chương Sắt, Hạng Nhất (Iron Cross, First Class).

Khi nhận được Huân chương Sắt thứ hai từ Hitler ở Berchtesgaden vào năm 1944, bà đã nêu ý tưởng về một đội cảm tử thuộc Không Quân Đức, gồm các phi công sẽ bay phiên bản thiết kế đặc biệt của V-1. Ban đầu, Hitler đã gạt bỏ ý tưởng này vì ông ta không cho rằng đó là một cách sử dụng hiệu quả các nguồn lực. Nhưng sự nhất quyết của Reitsch đã thuyết phục ông xem xét triển vọng của việc thiết kế những chiếc máy bay như vậy. Tại thời điểm đó, bà đã thành lập một Nhóm Cảm tử và là người đầu tiên tuyên thệ: “Tôi xin… tự nguyện đăng ký tham gia nhóm cảm tử với tư cách là phi công của một quả bom – tàu lượn. Tôi hoàn toàn hiểu rằng công việc này có thể sẽ dẫn đến cái chết của chính tôi.” Tuy nhiên, đội hình này đã không bao giờ được triển khai.

Reitsch là một trong những người cuối cùng nhìn thấy Hitler còn sống. Ngày 26/04/1945, bà bay đến Berlin cùng với Tướng Ritter von Greim, người sẽ được trao quyền chỉ huy Luftwaffe. Greim bị thương khi máy bay của Reitsch bị trúng đạn phòng không của Liên Xô. Sau khi nói lời từ biệt với Quốc trưởng, người quyết định ẩn mình trong boongke, bà đã đưa Greim trở lại Berlin.

Sau chiến tranh, Reitsch bị quân đội Mỹ bắt và giam giữ. Bà đã làm chứng cho sự “phân rã” trong nhân cách của Hitler – mà bản thân bà chứng kiến trong những ngày cuối cùng của cuộc chiến. Khi được thả, Reitsch tiếp tục lập nhiều kỷ lục, bao gồm việc trở thành người phụ nữ đầu tiên bay tàu lượn trên dãy Alps. Năm 1951, bà xuất bản cuốn tự truyện Flying Is My Life, và từ năm 1962 đến năm 1966, bà giữ chức giám đốc trường dạy bay quốc gia ở Ghana. Bà mất năm 1979, chỉ một năm sau khi lập kỷ lục mới về cự ly bay tàu lượn dành cho nữ. Trong sự nghiệp của mình, Reitsch đã lập hơn 40 kỷ lục thế giới về lái máy bay có động cơ và không động cơ.


Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler - HISTORY

Female Pilot Pitches Suicide Squad to Hitler (February 28, 1944)

Today in Odd History, Hanna Reitsch, Nazi Germany's celebrated female test pilot, suggested that Adolph Hitler should create a suicide squadron of glider pilots. Hitler was skeptical of the idea, believing that such a squadron would not be an effective use of Germany's limited resources. The delicate blonde's enthusiasm finally won him over he agreed to investigate the possibility of adapting the V-1, which was designed to be a pilotless robotic bomb, to a kamikaze vehicle. Reitsch promptly formed a Suicide Group, and was herself the first person to take the pledge: "I hereby. voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as a pilot of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death." As it turned out, neither she nor anyone else was ever called upon to make that sacrifice, as the squadron was never deployed.

Reitsch came to flying by an indirect route. Born in Hirschberg, Germany in 1912, she originally pursued a career in medicine, and dreamed of becoming a flying missionary doctor in Africa. Her passion for the air soon overtook her interest in medicine, however, and she left medical school to become a full-time glider pilot. (Germany had been forbidden to build "war planes" after WWI, which meant that most of the planes constructed in Germany were built without engines.) She worked as a stunt pilot in films, but she really distinguished herself in competition, setting the women's world record for non-stop gliding in 1931, (a record she more than doubled in 1933), the women's world record for point-to-point gliding in 1939, the women's record for for non-stop distance flight in 1936, and the women's altitude record in 1934. She was the first person to cross the Alps in a glider, in 1937. In 1938, she won the German long-distance gliding championships.

In 1937, General Ernst Udet appointed her as a civilian flight captain and test pilot for the Luftwaffe. She was thrilled to her, the Luftwaffe were "guardians of the portals of peace." She was a devoted and idealistic Nazi, who adored Adolph Hitler and refused to believe the reports of concentration camps and torture. Her skill and dedication made her a powerful symbol for the Reich. The Luftwaffe made full use of her talents. She tested everything from their first helicopter, in 1937, to the prototypes of the V-1, in 1944. (A test pilot was need for this pilotless plane because the wings had shown a tendency to fall off. A special seat was built in the nose, from which Reitsch could watch the behavior of the wings and report on it after landing. She was chosen for these tests because she had already demonstrated a remarkable ability to withstand physical stress.) She flew missions, as well. In 1940, she brought German troops to the Maginot Line via glider transport. In 1942, Hitler awarded her the Iron Cross, Second Class, for her efforts to cut the steel lines dangling from English barrage-balloons, again in a glider. In 1944, she tested the rocket-powered Messerschmitt 163, which she flew at speeds of up to 500 MPH. During her fifth ME 163 flight, she spun out of control and crash-landed the plane. Despite her injuries, she managed to write out a full report before losing consciousness. Hitler awarded her the Iron Cross, First Class for that flight. It was during the ceremony, in Berchtesgaden, that she introduced him to her idea of a suicide bombing squad.

Since November 1943, Reitsch had been stationed along the Eastern front in Russia, with General Robert Ritter vonGreim. On April 26, 1945, they flew to Berlin, where Greim was supposed to take command of the Luftwaffe. Their plane was hit by Soviet anti-aircraft fire, and Greim was wounded. They stayed in Berlin for 3 days, as Hitler's guests, but on April 29th, he ordered them to return to Russia and rally the remaining German forces. Reitsch protested, at first. She wanted to be allowed to die with her Fuhrer. In the end, though, she and Greim did as they were told, escaping Berlin just as the Russian noose tightened around it. They made it to Admiral Karl Doenitz's headquarters, but both of them were eventually captured by the Allied forces. During her internment by the American Army, Reitsch testified to the "disintegration" of Hitler's personality in the last days of the war. Not until much later, though, would she say that she had been "disgusted" by what she witnessed in the Third Reich.

Although she may ultimately have been disillusioned by Nazism, Reitsch never lost her love of the skies. She set dozens of world records, and participated in a number of competitions. She was often the only woman competing. She also continued to work as a research pilot. In 1959, she traveled to India, where she became friends with Indira Ghandi and Prime Minister Nehru. In 1962, she founded the National School of Gliding in Ghana, where she stayed until 1966. Always drawn to people in power, she was friends with Ghana's president, Kwame Nkrumah. She died in Frankfurt in 1979, a year after setting yet another women's glider distance record.

Hanna Reitsch, in her own words:
The Sky My Kingdom, by Hanna Reitsch


Hannah Reitsch, prima femeie pilot de testare din lume, sugerează crearea echivalentului nazist al unei echipe kamikaze de atacatori sinucigași în timp ce vizitează Adolf Hitler la Berchtesgaden. Hitler a fost mai puțin entuziast de idee.

Reitsch s-a născut în 1912 în Hirschberg, Germania. A părăsit școala de medicină (voia să fie medic misionar) pentru a începe să zboare cu normă întreagă și a devenit un expert al pilotului de planor, avioanele au fost avioane fără motor pe care germanii le-au dezvoltat pentru a sustrage regulile stricte cu privire la construirea „avioanelor de război” după război mondial. Pe lângă faptul că a câștigat experiență cu planorii, Reitsch a făcut, de asemenea, cascadorii de zbor pentru filme. În 1934, a înregistrat recordul mondial de altitudine pentru femei (9.184 de metri). Nazi arzătoare și admiratoare a lui Hitler, ea a fost făcută căpitan de onoare de către Fuhrer, prima femeie care a primit o astfel de onoare. În 1937, Luftwaffe, forța aeriană germană, a pus-o să lucreze ca pilot de testare. Reitsch a îmbrățișat această ocazie de a zbura ca parte a ceea ce ea a numit „păzitorii Germaniei pentru portalurile păcii”. Printre realizările sale semnale a fost testarea unui proto-elicopter în 1939.

Reitsch s-a apropiat mai mult decât oricare altă femeie de a vedea lupta reală în timpul celui de-al doilea război mondial, depunând trupe germane de-a lungul liniei Maginot în Franța, în timpul invaziei germanilor din 1940 cu avionul. Ea a câștigat o Cruce de Fier, clasa a II-a, pentru că și-a riscat viața încercând să taie cabluri britanice de balot-balon (baloanele erau lovituri fără echipaj, legate într-un singur loc, din care cablurile de oțel se agățau, astfel încât să înfige aripile și elicele aeronavelor inamice) . Printre avioanele de război pe care le-a testat se număra Messerschmitt 163, un interceptor cu putere de rachetă pe care a zburat-o 500 mph. În timp ce a testat ME 163 a cincea oară, ea a scăpat de sub control și a aterizat prin accident (deși a fost rănită în timpul accidentului, totuși a reușit să scrie exact ceea ce s-a întâmplat înainte de a-și trece rănile). Pentru aceasta, Hitler i-a acordat o Cruce de Fier, clasa I.

În 1944, în timp ce primea această a doua Cruce de Fier de la Hitler la Berchtesgaden, ea a aruncat ideea unei echipe de suicid Luftwaffe de piloți care ar zbura versiuni special concepute ale V-1. Inițial, Hitler a fost respins de idee, doar pentru că nu a considerat că este o utilizare eficientă sau eficientă a resurselor. Dar angajamentul lui Reitsch l-a convins să investigheze perspectiva proiectării unor astfel de avioane, moment în care a alcătuit un grup suicid și a fost primul care a luat următoarea promisiune: „Prezent . în mod voluntar, mă înscriu în grupul sinucigaș ca pilot al o glisier-bombă umană. Am înțeles pe deplin că angajarea în această calitate va atrage propria moarte. ”Echipa nu a fost niciodată dislocată.

Reitsch a fost unul dintre ultimii oameni care l-au văzut în viață pe Hitler. La 26 aprilie 1945, ea a zburat la Berlin cu generalul Ritter von Greim, care avea să i se dea comanda Luftwaffe. Greim a fost rănit când avionul lui Reitsch a fost lovit de un incendiu antiaerian sovietic. După ce și-a luat rămas bun de la Fuhrer, ascunsă în buncărul său, ea a zburat Greim înapoi din Berlin.

După război, Reitsch a fost capturat și internat de armata americană. Ea a mărturisit „dezintegrarea” personalității lui Hitler despre care a susținut că a fost martor în ultimele zile ale războiului. Când a fost lansat, Reitsch a continuat să stabilească recorduri, inclusiv să devină prima femeie care a zburat un planor peste Alpi. În 1951, ea și-a publicat autobiografia, Zborul este viața mea, iar din 1962 până în 1966 a fost director al școlii naționale de alunecare din Ghana. Ea a murit în 1979, la 65 de ani, la numai un an după ce a stabilit un nou record de distanță pentru planor pentru femei. În cariera sa, a stabilit peste 40 de recorduri mondiale pentru avioane cu volan și fără motor.


Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler - Feb 28, 1944 - HISTORY.com

SP5 Mark Kuzinski

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Hannah Reitsch, the first female test pilot in the world, suggests the creation of the Nazi equivalent of a kamikaze squad of suicide bombers while visiting Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden. Hitler was less than enthusiastic about the idea.

Reitsch was born in 1912 in Hirschberg, Germany. She left medical school (she had wanted to be a missionary doctor) to take up flying full time, and became an expert glider pilot–gliders were motorless planes that the Germans developed to evade strict rules about building “war planes” after WWI. In addition to gaining experience with gliders, Reitsch also did stunt flying for the movies. In 1934, she broke the world’s altitude record for women (9,184 feet). An ardent Nazi and admirer of Hitler, she was made an honorary flight captain by the Fuhrer, the first woman to receive such an honor. In 1937, the Luftwaffe, the German air force, put her to work as a test pilot. Reitsch embraced this opportunity to fly as part of what she called Germany’s “guardians of the portals of peace.” Among her signal achievements was the testing of a proto-helicopter in 1939.


Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler - Feb 28, 1944 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

27 Feb in "On This Day In History"

Hannah Reitsch, the first female test pilot in the world, suggests the creation of the Nazi equivalent of a kamikaze squad of suicide bombers while visiting Adolf Hitler in Berchtesgaden. Hitler was less than enthusiastic about the idea.

Reitsch was born in 1912 in Hirschberg, Germany. She left medical school (she had wanted to be a missionary doctor) to take up flying full time, and became an expert glider pilot–gliders were motorless planes that the Germans developed to evade strict rules about building “war planes” after WWI. In addition to gaining experience with gliders, Reitsch also did stunt flying for the movies. In 1934, she broke the world’s altitude record for women (9,184 feet). An ardent Nazi and admirer of Hitler, she was made an honorary flight captain by the Fuhrer, the first woman to receive such an honor. In 1937, the Luftwaffe, the German air force, put her to work as a test pilot. Reitsch embraced this opportunity to fly as part of what she called Germany’s “guardians of the portals of peace.” Among her signal achievements was the testing of a proto-helicopter in 1939.

Reitsch came closer than any other woman to seeing actual combat during World War II, depositing German troops along the Maginot Line in France during the Germans’ 1940 invasion by glider plane. She won an Iron Cross, Second Class, for risking her life trying to cut British barrage-balloon cables (the balloons were unmanned blimps, tethered in one place, from which steel cables dangled so as to foul the wings and propellers of enemy aircraft). Among the warplanes she tested was the Messerschmitt 163, a rocket-power interceptor that she flew 500 mph. While testing the ME 163 a fifth time, she spun out of control and crash-landed (even though she was injured during the crash, she nevertheless managed to write down exactly what happened before she passed out from her injuries). For this, Hitler awarded her an Iron Cross, First Class.

It was while receiving this second Iron Cross from Hitler in Berchtesgaden in 1944 that she pitched the idea of a Luftwaffe suicide squad of pilots who would fly specially designed versions of the V-1. Hitler was initially put off by the idea, only because he did not think it an effective or efficient use of resources. But Reitsch’s commitment persuaded him to investigate the prospect of designing such planes, at which point she put together a Suicide Group and was the first to take the following pledge: “I hereby…voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as a pilot of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death.” The squad was never deployed.

Reitsch was one of the last people to see Hitler alive. On April 26, 1945, she flew to Berlin with Gen. Ritter von Greim, who was to be given command of the Luftwaffe. Greim was wounded when Reitsch’s plane was hit by Soviet antiaircraft fire. After saying farewell to the Fuhrer, tucked away in his bunker, she flew Greim back out of Berlin.


The controversy of Hanna Reitsch

But not everyone agrees with honoring Hanna Reitsch-not because of her capabilities and historical significance as a female pilot, mind you, but for her role as a Nazi and her close ties to Adolf Hitler.

The WOAW website doesn't include any Nazi-related biographical information on Hanna Reitsch (though there isn't too much information in general on the page in question ). In not accounting for her contributions to the Nazi party, they are obviously not condoning her participation in the Third Reich. But the failure to disclose that has implications as well, particularly when some of her achievements were earned or recognized in direct connection with her part in WWII and Hitler's Germany. Situations like this can obviously create some kind of moral dilemma-what is one to do?

Who was she?

Reitsch was born in Hirschberg, Germany and began flight training at the School of Gliding in Grunau when she was 20. While studying medicine in Berlin, she enrolled in a German Air Mail amateur flying school for powered aircraft. She ended up leaving medical school to become a full-time glider pilot/instructor at Hornberg in Baden-Württemberg. Contracted with the Ufa film company as a stunt pilot, she set an unofficial endurance record for women.

In January 1934, she traveled to South America on an expedition to study thermal conditions. While in Argentina, she became the first woman to earn the Silver C Badge (and the 25th to do so among world glider pilots).

In 1935 she became a test pilot and later enrolled in the Civil Airways Training School.


Hitler's Final Days in the Bunker

Name: Fräulein Hanna Reitsch
Rank: Flugkapitän [Captain of the Air -- Honorary title given for outstanding aeronautical achievement]
Date of birth: 29 March 1912
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Test-pilot and aeronautical research expert
Citizenship: German.
Address: Leopolds Krone Castle, Salzburg, Austria
Political Status: Non-party member
Decorations: Iron Cross first class

This report is the story of the last days of the War as they were experienced by Hanna Reitsch, the well known German test-pilot and aeronautical research expert. Her story does not pretend to add any sensational details to what is already known of those days it is rather an eye-witness account of what actually happened in the highest places during the last moments of the War.

Her account of the flight into Berlin to report to Hitler and of her stay in the Führer's Bunker is probably as accurate a one as will be obtained of those last days, although the "is he dead or is he not dead" fate of Hitler is only answered to the extent of describing the mental state and the hopelessness of the last-minute situation, from which individual opinions must be drawn. Her own opinion is that the tactical situation and Hitler's own physical conditions made any thoughts of his escape inconceivable.


The British interrogation centre at Bad Nenndorf, formally known as No. 74 Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre Western European Area [CSDIC WEA] where Hanna Reitsch was interrogated under
American supervision

Her story is remarkable only in that she played a small part in the events of the War's end and that she had personal contact with the top-bracket Nazis as that end descended upon then. It is also of interest as it is likely that Reitsch is one of the last, if not the very last person who got out of the shelter alive. Her information is evaluated as reliable and it is possible that her story may throw some light or perhaps serve as an aid to a fuller knowledge of what happened during the last days of Berlin and of the War.

At times she is not certain as to names and specific times. Names escape her. In many cases the contacts herein related were quite limited inasmuch as they have to do only with the last few days. Her times may be inaccurate as the events of those days followed each other with such tumult that she is often unable to remember the proper sequence of events.

It will be noted that much of the report concerns itself with the Nazi and German interpretation of "honor". Reitsch herself, in answering queries, carefully weighs the "honor" aspects of every remark and then gives her answers carefully but truthfully. The use of the word amounts practically to a fetish complex with the source and is almost an incongruous embodiment of her entire philosophy. Her constant repetition of the word is in no manner as obvious to her as it is to the interrogator, nor is the meaning the same, nor does she recognize the incongruous use she makes of the word. Therefore, each time "honor" appears it is apologetically submitted in quotations.

She tells her story in conversational form, and although it is, in part, reproduced in that manner here, no pretence is made that the quotations are in all cases exact they are simply given as she remembers them. If it is kept in mind then that this material is a statement of her own opinions and observations, the information may be considered as completely reliable.

The Trip to Berlin:

Hitler had sent a telegram to Munich on 24 April [1945] to Lieutenant General Ritter von Greim, instructing him to report to the Reichschancellery on a highly urgent matter. The problem of getting into Berlin was then already a very precarious one, as the Russians had practically encircled the city. Greim however, decided that by availing himself of Hanna Reitsch as pilot, the entrance might be accomplished by means of an autogiro, which could land on the streets or in the gardens of the Reichschancellery.

During the night of the 25 to 26 April Reitsch and Greim arrived at Rechlin, prepared immediately to fly into Berlin. As however, the only available autogiro had been damaged that day, it was decided that a Feldwebel pilot, who had taken Albert Speer to the Führer two days before. should fly Greim in because of the experience the previous flight had given him. Some sense of responsibility to Greim, as his personal pilot and friend, made Reitsch beg to be taken along. A Focke-Wolf 190 was to be used, which had a pig-a-back space for one passenger arranged behind the pilot's seat. Reitsch was stuffed into the tail through a small emergency opening.

Forty fighters were taken to fly cover.

Almost immediately upon take-off they were engaged by Russian aircraft. A running, hedgehopping flight got them to the Gatow airfield, the only Berlin field still in German hands. Their own craft got through with nothing more than a few wing shots but the cost was heavy to the supporting fighters.

The landing at Gatow was made through further heavy attacks by Russian fighters who were strafing the field when they, arrived. What was left of the German planes engaged the Russians while the Greim craft made a successful landing. Immediately attempts were made to phone the Chancellery but as all the lines were out, it was decided to fly an available Fieseler Storch for the remaining distance and land within walking distance of Hitler's shelter.

With Greim at the controls and Reitsch as passenger, the plane took off under a whirling cover of German-Russian dog-fights. At a height of a few meters Greim managed to get away from the field and continue at tree-top level toward the Brandenburger Tor. Street fighting was going on below them and countless Russian aircraft were in the air. After a few minutes of flight, heavy fire tore out the bottom of the plane and severely injured Greim's right leg. By reaching over his shoulders, Reitsch took control of the craft and by dodging and squirming closely along the ground, brought the plane down on the East-West axis.

Heavy Russian artillery and small-arm fire was sheeting the area with shrapnel as they landed. A passing vehicle was commandeered to take them to Hitler's shelter, with Greim receiving first aid for his shattered foot on the way.

Arrival at Hitler's Shelter:

Greim and Reitsch arrived in the Bunker between 6 and 7 o'clock on the evening of the 26 April. First to meet them was Frau Göbbels, who fell upon Reitsch with tears and kisses, expressing her astonishment that anyone still possessed the courage and loyalty to come to the Führer, in stark contrast to all those who had deserted him. Greim was immediately taken to the operation room where Hitler's physician tended the injured foot.

Hitler came into the sick room, according to Reitsch, with his face showing deep gratitude over Greim's coming. He remarked something to the effect that even a soldier has the right to disobey an order when everything indicates that to carry it out would be futile and hopeless. Greim then reported his presence in the official manner.

Hitler's Denunciation of Göring

H itler: "Do you know why I have called you?"

Hitler: "Because Hermann Göring has betrayed and deserted both me and his Fatherland. Behind my back he has established connections with the enemy. His action was a mark of cowardice. And against my orders he has gone to save himself at Berchtesgaden. From there he sent me a disrespectful telegram. He said that I had once named him as my successor and that now, as I was no longer able to rule from Berlin he was prepared to rule from Berchtesgaden in my place. He closes the wire by stating that if he had no answer from me by nine-thirty on the date of the wire he would assume my answer to be in the affirmative".

The scene Reitsch describes as "touchingly dramatic," that there were tears in the Führer's eyes as he told them of Göring's treachery, that his head sagged, that his face was deathly pallid, and that the uncontrolled shaking of his hands made the message flutter wildly as he handed it to Greim. The Führer's face remained deathly earnest as Greim read. Then every muscle in it began to twitch and his breath came in explosive puffs only with effort did he gain sufficient control to actually shout: "An ultimatum!! A crass ultimatum!! Now nothing remains. Nothing spared me. No allegiances are kept, no honor lived up to, no disappointments that I have not had, no betrayals that I have not experienced, and now this above all else. Nothing remains. Every wrong has already been done me".

As Reitsch explains it, the scene was in the typical "et tu Brute" manner, full of remorse and self-pity. It was long before he could gather sufficient control to continue.

With eyes hard and half-closed and in a voice unusually low he went on: "I immediately had Göring arrested as a traitor to the Reich, took from him all his offices, and removed him from all organizations. That is why I have called you to me. I hereby declare you Göring's successor as OberbefehIshaber der Luftwaffe. In the name of the German people I give you my hand".

"To Die For the 'Honor' of the Luftwaffe"

Greim and Reitsch were deeply stunned with the news of Göring's betrayal. As with one mind they both grasped Hitler's hands and begged to be allowed to remain in the Bunker, and with their own lives atone for the great wrong that Göring had perpetrated against the Führer, against the German people, and against the Luftwaffe itself. To save the "honor" of the flyers who had died, to reestablish the "honor" of the Luftwaffe that Göring had destroyed, and to guarantee the "honor" of their land in the eyes of the world, they begged to remain. Hitler agreed to all of this and told them they might stay and told them too that their decision would long be remembered in the history of the Luftwaffe.

It had been previously arranged with operations at Rechlin that an aircraft was to come in the next day to take Greim and Reitsch out of Berlin. Now that they decided to stay it was impossible to get the information out. Rechlin, in the meantime, was sending plane after plane, each shot down in turn by the Russians. Finally on 27 April a JU 52, loaded with SS guards and ammunition, managed to land on the East-West traffic axis, but because Reitsch and Greim had intended to stay, was sent back empty.

Hitler Sees the Cause As Lost

Later that first evening Hitler called Reitsch to him in his room. She remembers that his face was deeply lined and that there was a constant film of moisture in his eyes. In a very small voice he said, "Hanna, You belong to those who will die with me. Each of us has a vial of poison such as this," with which he handed her one for herself and one for Greim.

"I do not wish that one of us falls to the Russians alive, nor do I wish our bodies to be found by them. Each person is responsible for destroying his body so that nothing recognizable remains. Eva and I will have our bodies burned. You will devise your own method. Will you please so inform von Greim? "

Reitsch sank to a chair in tears, not, she claims, over the certainty of her own end but because for the first time she knew that the Führer saw the cause as lost. Through the sobs she said: "Mein Führer, why do you stay? Why do you deprive Germany of your life? When the news was released that you would remain in Berlin to the last, the people were amazed with horror. 'The Führer must live so that Germany can live,' the people said. Save yourself, Mein Führer, that is the will of every. German".

Hitler: "No Hanna, if I die it is for the 'honor' of our country, it is because as a soldier, I must obey my own command that I would defend Berlin to the last. My dear girl, I did not intend it so, I believed firmly that Berlin would be saved at the banks of the Oder. Everything we had was moved to hold that position. You may believe that when our best efforts failed, I was the most horror-struck of all. Then when the encirclement of the city began the knowledge that there were three million of my countrymen still in Berlin made it necessary that I stay to defend them. By staying I believed that all the troops of the land would take example through my act and come to the rescue of the city. I hoped that they would rise to super-human efforts to save me and thereby save my three million countrymen. But, my Hanna, I still have hope. The army of General Wenck is moving up from the South. He must and will drive the Russians back long enough to save our people. Then we will fall back to hold again".

It appeared almost as if he believed this himself and as the conversation closed he was walking about the room with quick, stumbling strides, his hand clasped behind him and his head bobbing up and down as he walked. Although his words spoke of hope, Hanna claims that his face showed that the War was over.

Hanna returned to Greim's bedside, handed him the poison and then decided with him. should the end really come, that they would quickly drink the contents. of the vial and then each pull the pin from a heavy grenade and hold it tightly to their bodies.

Late in the night of 26 to 27 of April the first heavy barrage bracketed the Chancellery. The splattering of heavy shells and the crashing of falling buildings directly above the air-raid shelter tightened the nervous strain of everyone so that here and there deep sobbing came through the doors. Hanna spent the night tending Greim, who was in great pain, and in getting in the Chancellery grounds before morning.

Hitler's Guests in the Shelter

The next morning she was introduced to the other occupants and learned for the first time the identity of all those who were facing the end with the Führer. Present in the elaborate shelder on the 27 April were Göbbels and his wife with their six children State Secretary Naumann: Hitler's right hand, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann Hewel from Ribbentrop's office Admiral Voss as representative from Dönitz General Krebs of the infantry and his adjutant Burgdorf Hitler's personal pilot, Hans Baur another pilot Beetz Eva Braun SS Obergruppenführer Fegelein as liaison between Himmler and Hitler and husband of Eva Braun's sister Hitler's personal Physician, Dr. Stumpfegger Oberst von Below, Hitler's Luftwaffe Adjutant Dr. Lorenz representing Reichspresse chief Dr. Dietrich for the German press two of Hitler's secretaries, a Frau Christian, wife of General der Flieger Christian and a Fräulein Krüger and various SS orderlies and messengers. Reitsch claims that these composed the entire assembly.

A regular visitor during the last days was Reichsjugendführer Axman who was commanding a Hitlerjugend division committed to the defense of the city. From Axman came current information as to the ground situation against the Russians which was well mirrored by the increasingly despondent manner of each visit.

Another Betrayal

Late in the afternoon of the 27th Obergruppenführer Fegelein disappeared. Shortly thereafter it was reported that he had been captured on the outskirts of Berlin disguised in civilian clothes, claiming to be a refugee. The news of his capture was immediately brought to Hitler who instantly ordered him shot. The rest of the evening Fegelein's betrayal weighed heavily on the Führer and in conversation he indicated a half-way doubt as to Himmler's position, fearing that Fegelein's desertion might have been known and even condoned by the SS leader.

Observations on Shelter Occupants

Reitsch had little contact with most of the people in the shelter, being mostly occupied in nursing von Greim, but she did have the opportunity to speak to many of them and observe their reaction, under the trying conditions of the last days in the Bunker. It is believed that she attempts to relate her observations truthfully and that her reactions are honestly conceived. It must be remembered that prior to her arrival in the Bunker Reitsch had but small contact with most of these individuals and that her previous opinions regarding them were at a rather low level. Of the people she was able to observe closely the Göbbels family probably stands out.

Doctor Göbbels

She describes Göbbels as being insanely incensed over Göring's treachery. He strode about his small, luxurious quarters like an animal, muttering vile accusations concerning the Luftwaffe leader and what he had done. The precarious military situation of the moment was Göring's fault. Their present plight was Göring's fault. Should the war be lost, as it certainly now seemed it would be, that too would be Göring's fault.

"That swine," Göbbels said, "who has always set himself up as the Führer's greatest support now does not have the courage to stand beside him. As if that were not enough, he wants to replace the Führer as head of the State. He, an incessant incompetent, who has destroyed his Fatherland with his mishandling and stupidity, now wants to lead the entire nation. By this alone he proves that he was never truly one of us, that at heart he was always weak and a traitor".

All this, as Hanna saw it, was in the best theatrical manner, with much hand waving and fine gestures, made even more grotesque by the jerky up-and-down hobbling as he strode about the room. When he wasn't railing about Göring he spoke to the world about the example those in the Bunker were setting for history. As on a platform and gripping a chair-back like a rostrum he said: "We are teaching the world how men die for their 'honor.' Our deaths shall be an eternal example to all Germans, to all friends and enemies alike. One day the whole world will acknowledge that we did right, that we sought to protect the world against Bolshevism with our lives. One day it will be set down in the history of all time".

It appears that Göbbels exercised his greatest ability to the very last. The rooms of Göbbels and Reitsch adjoined each other and the doors were usually open. Through them the Göbbels oratory would sound out at any hour of the day or night. And always the talk was of "honor" of "how to die," of "standing true to the Führer to the last," of "setting an example that would long blaze as a holy thing from the pages of history".

One of the last things Reitsch remembers hearing from the lips of the Propaganda master was: "We shall go down for the glory of the Reich so that the name of Germany will live forever". Even Reitsch was moved to conclude that the Göbbels display, in spite of the tenseness of the situation, was a bit overdrawn and out and out theatrical. She claims that in her opinion Göbbels, then as he always had, performed as if he were speaking to a legion of historians who were avidly awaiting and recording every word. She adds that her own dubious opinions regarding Göbbels' mannerisms, his superficiality, and studied oratory, were well substantiated by these outbursts. She claims too, that after listening to these tirades she and von Greim often asked each other, with a sad, head-shaking attitude, "Are these the people who ruled our country?"

Frau Göbbels

Frau Göbbels she described as a very brave woman, whose control, which was at most times strong, did break down now and then to pitiful spasms of weeping. Her main concern was her children, and in their presence her manner was always delightful and cheery. Much of her day was occupied in keeping the children's clothes clean and tidy, and as they had only the clothes they wore this kept Frau Göbbels occupied. Often she would quickly retire to her room to hide the tears. It appears from Hanna's description that Frau Göbbels probably represented the epitome of Nazi indoctrination.

If the Third Reich could not live she preferred to die with it, nor would she allow her children to outlive it. In recognition of the example she embodied of true German womanhood, Hitler, in the presence of all the occupants of the Bunker, presented her with his personal golden party insignia. "A staunch pillar of the 'honor' upon which National Socialism was built and the German Fatherland founded," was his approximate remark as he pinned it to her dress.

Frau Göbbels often thanked God that she was alive so that she could kill her children to save them from whatever "evil" would follow the collapse. To Reitsch she said, "My dear Hanna, when the end comes you must help me if I become weak about the children. You must help me to help them out of this life. They belong to the Third Reich and to the Führer and if those two things cease to exist there can be no further place for them. But you must help me. My greatest fear is that at the last moment I will be too weak".

It is Hanna's belief that in the last moment she was not weak.

Conclusions that can be safely drawn from Hanna's remarks is that Frau Göbbels was simply one of the most convinced subjects of her own husband's rantings the most pronounced example of the Nazi influence over the women of Germany.

The Göbbels Children

The Göbbels children numbered six. Their names and approximate ages were: Helga, 12 Hilda, 11 Helmut, 9 Holde, 7 Hedda, 5: Heide, 3.

They were the one bright spot of relief in the stark death shadowed life of the Bunker. Reitsch taught them songs which they sang for the Führer and for the injured von Greim. Their talk was full of being in "the cave" with their "Uncle Führer" and in spite of the fact that there were bombs outside, nothing could really harm them as long as they were with him. And anyway "Uncle Führer" had said that soon the soldiers would come and drive the Russians away and then tomorrow they could all go back to play in their garden. Everyone in the Bunker entered into the game of making the time as pleasant as possible for them. Frau Göbbels repeatedly thanked Reitsch for making their last days enjoyable, as Reitsch often gathered them about her and told them long stories of her flying and of the places she had been and the countries she had seen.

It seemed to Reitsch that Hitler's "girl friend" remained studiously true to her position as the "showpiece" in the Führer's circle. Most of her time was occupied in finger nail polishing, changing of clothes for each hour of the day, and all the other little feminine tasks of grooming, combing, and polishing. She seemed to take the prospect of dying with the Führer as quite matter of fact, with an attitude that seemed to say: ". had not the relationship been of 12 long years duration and had she not seriously threatened suicide when Hitler once wanted to be rid of her. This would be a much easier way to die and much more proper. " Her constant remark was "Poor, poor Adolf, deserted by everyone, betrayed by all. Better that ten thousand others die than that he be lost to Germany".

In Hitler's presence she was always charming, and thoughtful of his every comfort. But only while she was with him was she completely in character, for the moment he was out of earshot she would rave about all the ungrateful swine who had deserted their Führer and that each of them should be destroyed. All her remarks had an adolescent tinge and it appeared that the only "good" Germans at the moment were those who were caught in the Bunker and that all the others were traitors because they were not there to die with him. The reasons for her willingness to die with the rest were similar to those of Frau Göbbels. She was simply convinced that whatever followed the Third Reich would not be fit to live in for a true German. Often she expressed sorrow for those people who were unable to destroy themselves as they would forever be forced to live without "honor" and reduced instead to living as human beings without souls.

Reitsch emphasizes that Braun was very apparently of rather shallow mentality, but she also agrees that she was a very beautiful woman. Beyond fulfilling her purpose, Reitsch considers it highly unlikely that Braun had any control or influence over Hitler. The rumor of the last minute marriage ceremony Reitsch considers as highly unlikely, not only because she believes that Hitler had no such intention, but also because the circumstances in the Bunker on the last days would have made such a ceremony ludicrous. Certainly, up to the time Reitsch left the Bunker, hardly a day before Hitler's death was announced, there had not been the slightest mention of such a ceremony. The rumor that there had been children out of the union, Reitsch quickly dismisses as fantastic.

Martin Bormann moved about very little, kept instead very close to his writing desk. He was "recording the momentous events in the Bunker for posterity". Every word, every action went down on his paper. Often he would visit this person or that to scowlingly demand what the exact remark had been that passed between the Führer and the person he had just had an audience with. Things that passed between other occupants of the Bunker were also carefully recorded. This document was to be spirited out of the Bunker at the very last moment so that, according to the modest Bormann, it could, "take its place among the greatest chapters of German history".

Adolf Hitler

Throughout Hanna's stay, in the Bunker Hitler's manner and physical condition sunk to lower and lower depths. At first he seemed to be playing the proper part of leading the defence of Germany and Berlin. And at first this was in some manner possible as communications. were still quite reliable. Messages were telephoned to a Flak tower and from there were radioed out by means of a portable, balloon-suspended aerial. But each day this was more and more difficult until late on the afternoon of the 28th and all day on the 29th communications were almost impossible. On about 22 April, at what was probably the last Hitler war-council in the Reichschancellery, the Führer is said to have been so overcome by the persistently hopeless news that he completely broke down in the presence of all the gathering. The talk in the Bunker, where Hanna heard of the collapse, was that with this display even the most optimistic of Hitler's cohorts tended toward the conviction that the War was irretrievably lost. According to Reitsch, Hitler never physically nor mentally recovered from this conference room collapse.

Occasionally he still seemed to hold to the hope of General Wenck's success in breaking through from the South. He talked of little else, and all day on the 28th and 29th he was mentally planning the tactics that Wenck might use in freeing Berlin. He would stride about the shelter, waving a road map that was fast disintegrating from the sweat of his hands and planning Wenck's campaign with anyone who happened to be listening. When he became overly excited he would snatch the map from where it lay, pace with a quick, nervous stride about the room, and loudly "direct" the city's defence with armies that no longer existed [as even Wenck, unknown to the Führer, had already been routed and destroyed].

Reitsch describes it as a pathetic thing, the picture of a man's complete disintegration. A comic-tragedy of frustration, futility and uselessness. The picture of a man running almost blindly from wall to wall in his last retreat waving papers that fluttered like leaves in his nervous, twitching hands, or sitting stooped and crumpled before his table moving buttons to represent his non-existent armies, back and forth on a sweat-stained map, like a young boy playing at war.

The Possibility That Hitler Still Lives

The possibility that Hitler might have gotten out of the Bunker alive, Reitsch dismisses as completely absurd. She claims that she is convinced that the Hitler she left in the shelter was physically unable to have gotten away. "Had a path been cleared for him from the Bunker to freedom he would not have had the strength to use it," she says. She believes too, that at the very end he had no intention to live, that only the Wenck hope stayed his hand from putting the mass suicide plan into operation. News that Wenck could not get through, she feels, would immediately have set off the well rehearsed plans of destruction.

When confronted with the rumor that Hitler might still be alive in Tyrol and that her own flight to that area, after she had left the Bunker, might be more than coincidental, she appears deeply upset that such opinions are even entertained.

She says only: "Hitler is dead! The man I saw in the shelter could not have lived. He had no reason to live and the tragedy was that he knew it well, knew it perhaps better than anyone else did".

Hanna's Opinion of the Führer

It is apparent from Reitsch's conversation that she held the Führer in high esteem. It is probably also true when she says that her "good" opinion suffered considerably during the closing stages of the War. She is emphatic when she describes the apparent mismanagement she observed and learned of in the Bunker. For instance, Berlin had been depleted of arms to hold the Oder. When that line fell it appeared that no coherent defence plan of Berlin had been prepared, certainly adequate arrangements had not been made to direct the defence from the Bunker. There was no other communication equipment available than the telephone that led only to the Flak tower. It appears that only in the last moment had he decided to direct the battle from the shelter and then did not have the first tools with which to operate. No maps. No battle plans. No radio. Only a hastily prepared messenger service and the one telephone were available. The fact that unknown to Hitler, the Wenck army had been destroyed almost days before, was only one example of the inadequacies. All of which resulted in the Führer of Germany sitting helplessly in his cellar impotently playing at his table-top war.

Reitsch claims that Hitler the idealist died, and his country with him, because of the incompetence of Hitler the soldier and Hitler the statesman. She concludes, still with a faint touch of allegiance, that no one who knew him would deny his idealistically motivated intentions nor could they deny that he was simply infinitely incompetent to rule his country, that one of his great faults was proper character analysis in the people about him which led to the selection of persons equally incompetent to fill important positions. [Most important example: Göring]

She repeatedly remarked that never again must such a person be allowed to gain control of Germany or of any country. But strangely enough she does not appear to hold him personally responsible for many of the wrongs and evils that she recognizes completely and is quick to point out. She says rather, "A great part of the fault lies with those who led him, lured him, criminally misdirected him, and informed him falsely. But that he himself selected the men who led him can never be forgiven".

A Criminal Against the World

"Hitler ended his life as a criminal against the world," but she is quick to add, "he did not begin it that way. At first his thoughts were only of how to make Germany healthy again, how to give his people a life free from economic insufficiencies and social maladjustments. To do this he gambled much, with a stake that no man has the right to jeopardize - the lives of his people. This was the first great wrong, his first great failure. But once the first few risks had been successful, he fell into the faults of every gambler he risked more and more, and each time that he won he was more easily, led to the next gamble". According to Reitsch it all began with the occupation of the Ruhr. This was the first and most difficult gamble of all and when the world did not answer his Ruhr bluff with war, every succeeding risk became progressively easier.

Each success made the enthusiasm of the people greater and this gave him the necessary, support to take the next step. The end-result, Reitsch claims, is that Hitler himself underwent a character change that transformed him from an idealistically motivated benefactor to a grasping, scheming despot, a victim of his own delusions of grandeur. "Never again, she concludes, "in the history of the world must such power be allowed to rest with one man".

Suicide Council

On the night of the 27th to 28th the Russian bombardment of the Chancellery reached the highest pitch it had yet attained. The accuracy to those in the shelter below, was astounding. It seemed as if each shell landed in exactly the same place as the one before, all dead-center on the Chancellery buildings. As this indicated that the Russian ground troops could over-run the area at any, moment, another suicide council was called by the Führer. All plans as to the destruction of the bodies of everyone in the shelter were gone over again. The decision was that as soon as the Russians reached the Chancellery grounds the mass suicide would begin. Last instructions were given as to the use of the poison vials.

The group was as hypnotized with the suicide rehearsal and a general discussion was entered into to determine in which manner the most thorough destruction of the human body could be performed. Then everyone made little speeches swearing allegiance again and again to the Führer and to Germany. Yet, through it all, still ran the faint hope that Wenck might get in the hold long enough to effect an evacuation. But even on the 27th, Reitsch claims, the others paid lip-service to the Wenck hope only to follow the lead of the Führer. Almost everyone had given up all thoughts of being saved, and said so to each other whenever Hitler was not present.

Closing the discussions on the destruction of the bodies there was talk that SS men would be assigned to see that no trace remained.

Throughout the day of the 28th the intensity, of the Russian fire continued while the suicide talk kept pace with the shelling in the shelter below.

The greatest blow of all

A telegram arrived which indicated that the staunch and trusted Himmler had joined Göring on the traitor list. It was like a death blow to the entire assembly. Reitsch claims that men and women alike cried and screamed with rage, fear and desperation, all mixed into one emotional spasm. Himmler the protector of the Reich, now a traitor was impossible. The telegram message was that Himmler had contacted the British and American authorities through Sweden to propose a capituluation to the San Francisco conference. Hitler had raged as a mad man. His color rose to a heated red and his face was virtually unrecognizable. Additional evidence of Himmler's "treachery" was that he had asked not to be identified with the capitulation proposals American authorities were said to have abided by this request, while the British did not.

After the lengthy out-burst Hitler sank into a stupor and for a time the entire Bunker was silent.

Later came the anti-climatic news that the Russians, would make a full force bid to over-run the Chancellery on the morning of the 30th. Even then small-arm fire was beginning to sprinkle the area above the shelter. Ground reports indicated that the Russians were nearing the Potsdamer Platz and were losing thousands of men as they fanatically prepared the positions from which the attack of the next morning was to be launched.

Reitsch claims that everyone again looked to their poison.

Orders to Leave the Shelter

At one-thirty on the morning of 29 April, Hitler, with chalk-white face, came to Greim&rsquos room and slumped down on the edge of the bed. "Our only hope is Wenck," he said, "and to make his entry possible we must call up every available aircraft to cover his approach". Hitler then claimed that he had just been informed that Wenck's guns were already shelling the Russians in Potsdamer Platz.

"Every available plane," Hitler said, "must be called up by, daylight, therefore it is my order to you to return to Rechlin and muster your planes from there. It is the task of your aircraft to destroy the positions from which the Russians will launch their attack on the Chancellery. With Luftwaffe help Wenck may get through. That is the first reason why you must leave the shelter. The second is that Himmler must be stopped," and immediately he mentioned the SS Führer his voice became more unsteady and both his lips and hands trembled. The order to Greim was that if Himmler had actually made the reported contact, and could be found, he should immediately be arrested. "A traitor must never succeed me as Führer! You must get out to insure that he will not".

Greim and Reitsch protested vehemently that the attempt would be futile, that it would be impossible to reach Rechlin, that they preferred to die in the shelter, that the mission could not succeed, that it was insane.

"As soldiers of the Reich," Hitler answered, "it is our holy duty to exhaust every possibility. This is the only chance of success that remains. It is your duty and mine to take it".

Hanna was not convinced. "No, no," she screamed, Nothing can be accomplished now, even if we should get through. Everything is lost, to try to change it now is insane". But Greim thought differently. "Hanna," he said, "we are the only hope for those who remain here. If the chance is just the smallest, we owe it to them to take it. Not to go would rob them of the only light that remains. Maybe Wenck is there. Maybe we can help, but whether we can or cannot, we will go". Hanna, still convinced as to the absurdity of attempting an escape went alone to the Führer while Greim was making his preparations. Through her sobbing she begged, "Mein Führer why, why don't you let us stay?" He looked at her for a moment and said only: "God protect you".

The Leave Taking

Preparations were quickly made and Reitsch is graphic in her description of the leave taking. Below, late Göring's Liaison officer with the Führer and now a staunch Greim-man said, "You must get out. It depends upon you to tell the truth to our people, to save the 'honor' of the Luftwaffe: to save the meaning of Germany for the world". Everyone gave the departing duo some token, something to take back into the world. Everyone wrote quick, last minute letters for them to take along. Reitsch says that she and Greim destroyed all but two letters which were from Göbbels and his wife to their eldest son, by Frau Göbbels first marriage who was then in an Allied prisoner of war camp. These Reitsch still had. Frau Göbbels also gave her a diamond ring from her finger to wear in her memory.


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The establishment of a suicide squadron (staffel) was originally proposed by Otto Skorzeny and Hajo Herrmann. The proposal was supported by noted test pilot Hanna Reitsch. The idea proposed was that Germany would use volunteers as suicide pilots in order to overcome the Allies' numerical advantages with their fanatic spirit. The idea had roots in German mythology that was glorified by Nazi propaganda. Hitler was reluctant, but eventually agreed to Reitsch's request to establish and train a suicide attack air unit, with the condition that it would not be operated in combat without his approval. The new unit, nicknamed the "Leonidas Squadron", became part of KG 200. It was named after Leonidas I, king of Sparta, who in 480 BC, after realizing that he was being flanked, dismissed the bulk of his army and resisted the invading Persian army at the Battle of Thermopylae with 1400 warriors who fought to the last man against 100,000 Persians.

Reitsch's plan was to attack Allied invasion shipping using the Messerschmitt Me 328 as a suicide weapon which would dive into the sea underneath ships and explode a 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) bomb. Heinrich Himmler approved the idea, and suggested using convicted criminals as pilots. The Luftwaffe's High Command was unenthusiastic Erhard Milch turned the plan down as impractical, and Hermann Göring showed little interest. Adolf Hitler was against the idea of self-sacrifice, believing that it was not in keeping with the German character, and furthermore did not see the war situation as being bad enough to require such extreme measures. Despite this, he allowed Reitsch to proceed with the project after she had shown the plan to him in February 1944. Günther Korten, the Luftwaffe's head of general staff, gave the matter to the commander of KG 200 to deal with. [1]

Over 70 volunteers, mostly young recruits, came forward they were required to sign a declaration which said, "I hereby voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as part of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death." [2]

Problems were experienced in converting the Me 328, and the decision was taken to use instead a manned version of the V-1 flying bomb, the Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg) however, it never entered operation.

On 9 June 1944, Karl Koller announced that a group of KG-200s equipped with special Focke-Wulf Fw 190s was ready for "total operations". Each aircraft carried a heavy bomb, the weight of which meant that the machines could not carry enough fuel for a return flight. Thus the pilots were only trained using the aircraft as gliders. This project ultimately came to nothing, and Werner Baumbach, by then the commander of KG-200, persuaded his friend Albert Speer that it would be more productive to use the men against Russian power stations rather than against the Allied invasion fleet Speer passed this on to Hitler. [1]

During the Battle for Berlin, the Luftwaffe flew "self-sacrifice missions" (Selbstopfereinsätze) against Soviet-held bridges over the Oder River. These 'total missions' were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange from 17 April until 20 April 1945, using any aircraft that were available. The Luftwaffe claimed that the squadron destroyed seventeen bridges. However, the military historian Antony Beevor, writing about the incident, claims that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin was definitely destroyed. Beevor comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog and were in a position to overrun it. [3]


Hannah Reitsch, a világ első női tesztpilóta, az öngyilkos merénylők kamikázok csoportjának náci ekvivalensének létrehozását javasolja, miközben Adolf Hitlert látogatja Berchtesgadenben. Hitler kevésbé volt lelkes az ötlet iránt.

Reitsch 1912-ben született a németországi Hirschbergben. Elhagyta az orvosi iskolát (misszionáriusi orvosnak akart lenni), hogy teljes munkaidőben vállalja a repülést, és profi siklópilóta lett. A motoros motorok nem voltak olyan repülők, amelyeket a németek fejlesztettek ki annak érdekében, hogy megkerüljék a „háborús repülőgépek” építésére vonatkozó szigorú szabályokat. A siklóernyőkkel szerzett tapasztalatok mellett Reitsch kaszkadőrként mozog a moziban. 1934-ben megtörte a világon a nők magassági rekordját (9184 láb). A lelkes náci és Hitler csodálója, a Fuhrer, az első nő, aki ilyen megtiszteltetésben részesült, tiszteletbeli repülési századossá tette. 1937-ben a Luftwaffe, a német légierő tesztpilótaként tette hozzá. Reitsch megragadta ezt a repülési lehetőséget annak részeként, amit Németországnak a „békeportálok őrzőjének” nevez. - Jelzései között szerepelt egy proto-helikopter tesztelése 1939-ben.

Reitsch a többi világháború idején közelebb lépett a tényleges harchoz, amikor a német csapatokat a Maginot vonal mentén helyezte el Franciaországban a németek 1940-es inváziója alatt, a vitorlázó repülővel. Megnyerte a második osztályú vaskeresztét azért, hogy életének kockázatával megpróbálta elvágni a brit léggömb-léggömbök kábeleit (a léggömbök pilóta nélküli pillanatai voltak, egy helyre vannak kötve, ahonnan acélkábelek lógtak, hogy az ellenséges repülőgépek szárnyai és hajtócsavarjai megsérüljenek). . A tesztelt hadi repülőgépek között szerepelt a Messerschmitt 163, egy rakéta-hatalom-elfogó, melyről 500 mph repült. Mialatt ötödik alkalommal tesztelte a ME 163-at, ellenőrizetlenül kilépett és ütközés alá került (bár az ütközés során megsérült, ennek ellenére sikerült pontosan leírnia, mi történt, mielőtt kiszabadult a sérüléseiből). Ezért Hitler első osztályú Vaskereszttel ítélte oda.

A második vaskereszt átvételekor, amikor Hitlertől 1944-ben Berchtesgadenben megkapta ezt, elképzelte egy Luftwaffe öngyilkos csapatot, amely a V-1 speciálisan tervezett változatát repülné. Hitlert eredetileg elhalasztotta az ötlet, csak azért, mert nem gondolta, hogy az erőforrások hatékony vagy eredményes felhasználása. De Reitsch elkötelezettsége rágyőzte őt, hogy vizsgálja meg az ilyen repülőgépek tervezésének kilátásait. Ekkor összeállította az Öngyilkossági csoportot és először vállalta a következő ígéretét: „Ezúton… önként jelentkezem arra, hogy felvételt szerezzek az öngyilkos csoportba egy emberi vitorlázó bomba. Teljes mértékben megértem, hogy e minőségben történő foglalkoztatás saját halálomat fogja eredményezni. ”A csapatot soha nem helyezték be.

Reitsch volt az egyik utolsó ember, aki életben látta Hitlert. 1945. április 26-án Ritter von Greim tábornokkal repült Berlinbe, akinek a Luftwaffe parancsnokságot kellett adniuk. Greim megsebesült, amikor Reitsch repülőgépét szovjet légijármű-tűz sújtotta. Miután búcsút mondott a fiharéról, amelyet a bunkerébe dobtak, Greim visszarepült Berlinből.

A háború után Reitsch-t az amerikai hadsereg foglyul ejtette és internálta. Tanúsította Hitler személyiségének „szétesését”, amely állítása szerint a háború utolsó napjaiban volt tanúja. Kiadása után Reitsch folytatta a rekordok felállítását, beleértve az első nőt, aki vitorlázó repülőként repült az Alpok felett. 1951-ben kiadta önéletrajzát, A repülés az életem, 1962-től 1966-ig a Ghána nemzeti siklóiskolájának igazgatója volt. 1979-ben, 65 éves korában halt meg, csak egy évvel azután, hogy új női repülési távolságot állított fel. Karrierje során több mint 40 világrekordot állított fel motoros és motor nélküli repülőgépek repülésére.