A little after 11 p.m., Gertrude Junge, the 25-year-old secretary to Adolf Hitler, woke from a one-hour nap, and, thinking it was time for the nightly tea with her boss, headed for his study.
“Have you had a nice little rest, child,” her boss asked her as he shook her hand. “Yes, I have slept a little,” she replied.
Getting any sleep in Hitler’s bunker, deep underground in Berlin, might have been difficult that night in April 1945.
Russian troops were only about 1,000 yards away, and the war was all but lost by then. The head of Hitler’s dreaded SS, Heinrich Himmler, was already negotiating with the Western Allies. The Third Reich was almost over.
But the dictator had something else on his mind at tea time.
“Come along,” he said to Junge, “I want to dictate something.”
They went into the conference room next to Hitler’s quarters, and Junge began to uncover the typewriter she usually used to take down his dictation.
Not this time, however, as Greg Bradsher recounts in “Hitler’s Final Words” in the Spring 2015 issue of Prologue magazine, the National Archives’ flagship publication.
“Take it down on the shorthand pad,” Hitler said. So she sat down and waited for him to begin.
“My political testament,” he said.
Then came words that millions had heard before, she later recalled, “the explanations, accusations and demands that I, the German people and the whole world would know already.”
After finishing his “political testament,” he dictated his personal will, then told Junge to type the documents out in triplicate and bring them to him.
The dictator then headed to another room in the bunker to marry Eva Braun and wait for Junge to finish her typing assignment. Hitler wanted copies of this testament and will to go to three different locations and wanted to see the couriers on their way before moving to the next item on his plan.
The couriers left. Finally, at 3:30 p.m. on April 30, 1945—the war in Europe just eight days from an Allied victory—Hitler and his new bride committed suicide.
Today, one set of the documents is in the holdings of the National Archives, where it first went on display in April 1946. Greg Bradsher’s article also tells the story of the documents’ journey to the National Archives.