An announcement was made on 27 April 2023 that the Russian FSB’s Public Relations Center has published declassified documents from the investigation file stored in the FSB archives for the Novgorod Region regarding Adolf Hitler’s personal pilot, SS Gruppenführer and Police Lieutenant General Hans Bauer. Along with the documents of Baur himself, the investigation file preserved materials regarding other persons who were in the underground bunker under the Reich Chancellery together with Adolf Hitler from April to early May 1945. Among them was Hitler’s personal adjutant, SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche.
In the inner prison, Günsche was placed in the same cell with the former commander of the mortar regiment, Colonel Artur Schwartz, who was taken prisoner in January 1943. Günsche told his cellmate about some of the events that took place in the bunker in the last days of the Third Reich; Günsche’s recollections and revelations were part of Schwartz’s written testimony, which was translated into Russian and sent through the appropriate channels to leadership.
Two things are striking in this recent release – first, the FSB routinely ties similar declassification procedures and publication to specific events or decade anniversaries – that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Second, Schwartz seems to present Günsche’s thoughts with little regard to coherence, and non sequiturs come and go – to be fair, perhaps this is how they were presented to Schwartz. Still, when reading about, among other things, the reason for Hitler’s marriage, perhaps a grain of salt is in order.
The English translation of the Russian version of Schwartz’s written testimony is provided below.
Translated from the German
I would like to add the following to my report from 15 May:
Hitler’s adjutant – SS Sturmbannführer Günsche was taken prisoner not in the Reich Chancellery, but in the Berlin Pankow district, on Friedrichsallee, at the time when he was attempting to break through the encircling forces, so initially, nobody knew who he was. He was sent to Russian Army Headquarters (Strausberg?) where he met with General WEITLING [sic], Commandant of Berlin. When Weitling was asked about Hitler, he pointed at Günsche, stating that more accurate information in that regard could be provided by the present company, Hitler’s adjutant. During the ensuing interrogation, Günsche hoped to conceal the state of affairs, only providing evasive false testimony. On the evening of 10 May, he arrived at the Moscow prison and only offered very curt testimony. On 12 May, when returning to his interrogation, he said that he felt he had told everything that had taken place. He provided 16 pages of written evidence on the Führer’s death.
Later he told us the following: Hitler had announced that under no circumstances did he want to be taken prisoner, neither dead nor alive, and so intended on ending his own life. only a few of those around him were aware of this.
The plan was to transfer Headquarters to Berchtesgaden (Obersalzberg). The first echelon had already set off for that destination before the assault on Berlin had begun. This echelon included almost all of Hitler’s adjutants, so that by the end, only Günsche and Burgdorf remained in Berlin. Hitler disagreed with this decision, feeling that the three armies (those of Busse, Wenck, and Steiner) could still save Berlin.
In these latter days, Hitler carried on in such a way that one might think his mental composure was broken, and along with the news that the ring around Berlin had not been broken, he was heavily affected by Göring’s telegram in which the latter declared himself [Hitler’s] successor, as well as the news of Himmler’s unauthorized dialogues.
Repeated recommendations to move the Headquarters to Obersalzberg … [sic]. [Translator note: page ends at this point]
Hitler killed himself on 30 April. At the last moment before his death, he was always in a state of fear of the possibility that he would wind up in the hands of the Russians.
Overnight from 28 to 29 April, Hitler formalized his marriage with a 35-year-old woman whom he has known for about 15 years, and with whom he has met from time to time in Berlin and Salzberg (Berchtesgaden).
Fifteen minutes before her own death, this woman also bade farewell with Günsche, then took poison at the same time that Hitler shot himself. The bodies were brought out of the Reich Chancellery bunker onto an open fire that was lit outside, doused with gasoline, and burned. Taking part in burning the bodies, aside from Günsche, was Hitler’s chauffeur, pilot, and valet.
Goebbel’s Deputy Gauleiter of Berlin, SCHACH, was also in Hitler’s Headquarters, where he also killed himself.
On 1 May 1945, Günsche, along with a number of other SS commanders, made an effort to make a breakthrough, passing first by Metro tunnels to the Friedrichstrasse station, and then through courtyards and breaches to the Pankow area, where they stumbled upon Soviet tanks on 2 May. They had learned that day of the surrender of the Berlin garrison, and since they were unable to muster soldiers for a breakthrough, they capitulated.
In these latter days, there was no type of clear or unified leadership in Germany. As early as 22 April, Göring declared himself Hitler’s successor, alluding to the well-known Reichstag decision made when war was declared, since in his own words Hitler was in no position to make needed independent decisions. At the time, Göring was in southern Germany, and after this order was made, he was placed under police supervision. For quite some time he was not considered an appropriate candidate for such a position, much less deserving of being in any policy-making position whatsoever. His inability to manage the Luftwaffe and his over-the-top amoral lifestyle completely undermined his authority in Germany.
In the opinion of adjutant GÜNSCHE, Hitler married only because he had the intention to commit suicide. Otherwise he would not have married, for being the Führer of the empire, he viewed himself as a mystical personality. Hitler always led a frugal existence. He was a vegetarian and always ate alone, not counting special official functions. He never partook in alcoholic beverages, as a rule, but from time to time ordered cognac be brought to the table.
Günsche speaks of Eva Braun with respect; she not only had a nice appearance, she was above all else a very amiable person, humble in manner.
In terms of prevailing attitudes in Hitler’s circle, the following deserves more mention (although everyone understood that the war was finally lost): Hitler himself was convinced that providence was merciful to him, and specifically that it had saved him in 20 July (during the assassination attempt). This conviction had such an influence on many that, even in those days, even in Berlin, it were regarded as madness. [Translator note: Handwritten here: “see supplement”]
Günsche considered this as a propaganda stunt, since up to that time (that is, mid-March), no preparations were made in this regard.
Concerning Western propaganda, Günsche related that one German officer, a former prisoner of the English and subject to being freed as part of an exchange, was asked by an English officer before his release if he, under certain circumstances, would agree to fight under the English command against Bolshevism.
In terms of the Reich Chancellery archives, Günsche had no information. He believed that most of the archives had been burned, if not taken away beforehand. However, until the last moment, all of the records of Headquarters military briefings (documents concerning all military activities) were still in the shelters. The whereabouts of these documents are unknown to Günsche.
Günsche said nothing about Hitler’s correspondence. Hitler communicated rarely with his sister (her husband is a professor in Dresden), sending her packages for the holidays. Günsche felt that they did not enjoy a very close relationship. Hitler’s circle didn’t care for his sister; she was considered an impudent woman (a domestic dragon). I believe that Günsche, mainly owing to his SS training (by Himmler) is a strongly-expressed and personally devoted individual who has no other sentiments beyond the concept of devotion. Thus, he expressed indignation at the fact that Himmler, who personified devotion for the SS, in the end was unfaithful to Hitler. He himself finds solace in the fact that until the very end, and indeed after Hitler’s death, that he remained faithful to him.
Translators: Turayev and Umanskiy