1950 film interviews with Hitler’s aides resurface
Adolf Hitler with Hermann Wilhelm Goering on his left. “Adolf Hitler – Germany’s Führer, the worst criminal in the world, the worst gangster in human history, is dead,” is the announcement at the opening of the black- and-white film. Photograph: Picture Post/Getty Images
So Michael Angelo Musmanno, a naval captain and US judge who had presided at several of the Nuremberg trials, was ordered to film testimony from the survivors of Hitler’s inner circle. His 1948 interviews formed the basis of his book 10 Days to Die , published in 1950, but the original film material disappeared – until now.
“Adolf Hitler – Germany’s Führer, the worst criminal in the world, the worst gangster in human history, is dead,” announces Mr Musmanno, in full naval uniform, at the opening of the primitively-edited black- and-white film.
One of the first people to see Hitler after his suicide on April 30 1945 was Arthur Axmann, the Hitler Youth leader. He told Musmanno how he arrived in Hitler’s underground bunker at 3pm and, finding Hitler’s office locked, sought out propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and personal aide Martin Bormann in a nearby conference room.
“Suddenly we heard a pistol shot. Goebbels and I ran out,” he said. “Eva Braun’s head was resting on Hitler’s shoulder, she was wearing a chiffon dress, she was dead but there was no sign of violence on her body, she died of poison.
“Hitler’s lower jaw was slightly out of place, he had shot himself in the mouth,” Axmann said. “On both temples were drops of blood, veins were ruptured on both sides. The sofa was stained with blood and his pistol lay at his feet.”
Chauffeur Erich Kempka told Musmanno how he had carried Braun’s body outside and watched it burn along with that of Hitler. Heinz Lorenz, Hitler’s deputy press secretary, recalled the macabre Hitler wedding reception in the bunker the previous day.
“There was a little party and we drank champagne,” he said, “but Hitler didn’t partake as he was dictating his will.”
Traudl Junge, secretary to Hitler since 1943, typed up the will. “I was disappointed . . . as I thought he would explain why Germany found itself in this situation,” she told Musmanno. “But he just repeated old expressions.”
Another aide tracked down by Musmanno was Arthur Kannenberg, Hitler’s majordomo. “I took care of all entertainment. He was a great music-lover,” said Mr Kannenberg. Asked to name Hitler’s favourite song, the butler announced proudly: “The song he liked most was Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? ”