January 16

This Day in History

World War II

Jan 16, 1945:

Hitler descends into his bunker

On this day, Adolf Hitler takes to his underground bunker, where he remains for 105 days until he commits suicide.

Hitler retired to his bunker after deciding to remain in Berlin for the last great siege of the war. Fifty-five feet under the chancellery (Hitler's headquarters as chancellor), the shelter contained 18 small rooms and was fully self-sufficient, with its own water and electrical supply. He left only rarely (once to decorate a squadron of Hitler Youth) and spent most of his time micromanaging what was left of German defenses and entertaining Nazi colleagues like Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. Constantly at his side during this time were his companion, Eva Braun, and his Alsatian, Blondi.

On April 29, Hitler married Eva in their bunker hideaway. Eva Braun met Hitler while working as an assistant to Hitler's official photographer. Braun spent her time with Hitler out of public view, entertaining herself by skiing and swimming. She had no discernible influence on Hitler's political career but provided a certain domesticity to the life of the dictator. Loyal to the end, she refused to leave the bunker even as the Russians closed in.

Only hours after they were united in marriage, both Hitler and Eva committed suicide. Warned by officers that the Russians were only about a day from overtaking the chancellery and urged to escape to Berchtesgarden, a small town in the Bavarian Alps where Hitler owned a home, the dictator instead chose to take his life. Both he and his wife swallowed cyanide capsules (which had been tested for their efficacy on his "beloved" dog and her pups). For good measure, he shot himself with his pistol.

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