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FSB declassifies testimony by Hitler’s personal pilot about Nazi leadership’s final hours

The translation of Hans Baur’s testimonies was retrieved from his investigation file kept at the FSB office in the Novgorod Region
Adolf Hitler and Hans Baur (center) Russian Federal Security Service
Adolf Hitler and Hans Baur (center)
© Russian Federal Security Service

MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. Russia’s FSB, the Federal Security Service, has declassified some documents from the investigation file of Adolf Hitler’s personal air pilot, Hans Baur, the commander of the "Fuhrer’s squadron", where he provided testimony about the last days and the final hours of the Nazi top brass holed up in a concrete bunker under the Reich Chancellery building in Berlin.

The FSB’s public relations center said in a note accompanying the disclosed documents the officers of the Soviet military counter-intelligence service Smersh (the Russian acronym of Death to Spies) of the 1st Belarusian Front’s forces that were pushing towards Berlin in the spring of 1945 had been given a special task to track down and arrest Hitler and other leaders of Nazi Germany. Smersh officers personally participated in the assault on the Reichstag and the nearby "Fuhrerbunker" - a fortified underground shelter where Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels spent the last months of the war.

"After the Fuhrerbunker was seized on May 2, 1945, and Smersh operatives detained all SS personnel that were trying to escape from Berlin, a thorough campaign began to gather information about the likely hideouts of the Third Reich’s top figures. Among those who witnessed Hitler’s last days were the chief of defense of the Citadel sector (the Reich Chancellery and the bunker) Wilhelm Mohnke, chief of Hitler’s bodyguards Hans Rattenhuber, Hitler’s valet Heinz Linge, personal adjutant Otto Gunsche and personal pilot, and the commander of the ‘Fuhrer’s squadron’ Hans Baur," the FSB said. All were repeatedly questioned about the circumstances of Hitler’s death. Their testimonies are kept in the FSB’s Central Archive, Russia’s State Archive and also some other cases in which they featured in the capacity of war criminals. The translation of Baur’s testimonies, for the first time made public on the FSB’s website, was retrieved from his investigation file kept at the FSB office in the Novgorod Region.

Baur’s testimonies

As follows from Baur’s testimony, on January 8-10, 1945, he was summoned from Munich to Hitler, who had returned to Berlin from East Prussia at the beginning of January.

"In Berlin, Hitler became even more morose and withdrawn. He secluded himself in his shelter most of the time," Baur said. "I was summoned to him only when I was given some flight task or asked for information about the duration of a flight to some destination or other."

Also, Baur said Hitler "tried to create the impression of optimism and certainty about Germany’s victory." His entourage thought that "apparently Hitler still has some resources to bring the war to a successful conclusion." Some suspected the existence of a new secret weapon, like an A-bomb or "death rays".

When the Red Army reached the Oder, "the supreme command headquarters began to sense some doubts if any further presence in Berlin is feasible," and by mid-March, the aides had completed preparations for moving the headquarters to the Baltic Sea coast. "At the beginning of April [1945], everything was ready to move the supreme command headquarters to the north or to Berghof in the south," Baur said. He kept several planes on alert in case Hitler made up his mind to leave Berlin. By the beginning of April, planes from the "Fuhrer squadron" were deployed to six airfields in Berlin. When the Red Army crossed the Oder, a road near the Brandenburg Gate was turned into a runway.

"Every night, 4-5 planes carrying papers, luggage and passengers left Berlin for Berchtesgaden. Keeping in touch with the planes and having them back was the greatest problem," Hitler’s pilot acknowledged.

Baur said that last time he saw the Nazi leader was on the day of the Fuhrer’s suicide, April 30. Hitler invited him to his room and presented him with a portrait of Emperor Friedrich the Great by Rembrandt that was hanging on the wall. Baur tried to escape from Berlin only to be injured on May 2 and taken prisoner by the Red Army.