Tuesday, May 03, 2005

'Hitler's nurse' breaks silence

'Hitler's nurse' breaks silence

A survivor of Adolf Hitler's wartime bunker in Berlin has been tracked down, a German newspaper claims.

The Berliner Zeitung relates 93-year-old Erna Flegel's account of the last days of World War II, under the headline "I was Hitler's nurse".

Mrs Flegel said she stayed in the bunker after Hitler killed himself and was there when Soviet troops arrived.

She said Hitler was so paranoid that he even suspected spies had filled his cyanide capsule with false poison.

From January 1943 until the end of the war, Mrs Flegel's job was to give medical treatment to Hitler and his inner circle, she told the paper.

She was interviewed by US secret service agents in 1945, but otherwise has kept silent about her experiences for the past 60 years, the Berliner Zeitung says.

Now, however, she said she had decided to speak out, telling the paper: "I don't want to take my secret with me to the grave."

'Merciless' mother

Mrs Flegel's story does not challenge what is already known, but does add new details.

She said of Hitler: "By the end, he didn't trust anyone any more - not even the cyanide capsule he swallowed."

She also recalled trying to save the lives of the six children of Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, but said his wife Magda, who poisoned them, was "merciless".

Mrs Flegel said that after Hitler's suicide, Goebbels took over as leader, but no-one paid any attention to him.

"His last subordinates shot themselves in succession," she said. "And those who didn't shoot themselves tried to flee."

She said she remained, however. "I had to look after the wounded."

In the newspaper interview, Mrs Flegel described the atmosphere in the bunker as the noise of approaching Soviet forces grew.

"You could feel that the Third Reich was coming to an end," she said. "The radios stopped working and it was impossible to get information."

Mrs Flegel added that when the Soviet troops arrived, they were well-behaved and advised her to lock her door.

She said she stayed for several days, and was one of the last people to leave the bunker.