A new Smithsonian Channel one-hour special recounts the final days of Adolf Hitler, told in the words of those who were with him. A trove of rediscovered interviews with the Nazi leader’s inner-circle, who surrounded Hitler in his bunker as his enemies closed in, are the centerpiece of THE DAY HITLER DIED, premiering Monday, November 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. These tapes, thought to be lost to history, were found in an archive in Pittsburgh in 2013. This extraordinary footage will be shown on television in the U.S. for the first time in THE DAY HITLER DIED.
“The filmed interviews are the work of a remarkable American naval officer,” said David Royle, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production, Smithsonian Channel. “He understood the danger that people would claim that Hitler had not died in the bunker and was determined to prevent such speculation. The accounts seen in THE DAY HITLER DIED provide a vivid portrait of the final days of one of history’s most evil figures.”
In 1948, with rumors of Hitler still being alive circulating, an American judge at the Nuremberg trials, Michael Musmanno, set out to prove that the Fuhrer was dead once and for all. He did this by talking to those who were there during Hitler’s final moments in his infamous bunker, including the leader of the Hitler Youth, Artur Axmann; Hitler’s secretary, Traudl Junge; and his aide-de-camp, Baron von Loringhoven.
In all, Judge Musmanno spoke with 22 eyewitnesses. They were members of Hitler’s inner circle who were with him in the bunker until the end. Their memories help to reconstruct in detail the bunker and the actions of the people who witnessed Hitler’s final hours.
In one interview, Traudl Junge, the secretary who typed Hitler’s last will and testament, said: “Hitler moved about like a living dead man.” Artur Axmann recalled seeing Hitler after he shot himself: “The blast of the pistol had ruptured the veins on either side of his head.”
And when asked by Judge Musmanno if there was any doubt that Hitler was going to die, Willi Johannmeier, Hitler’s army adjutant, said, “None whatsoever…”