On this day in 1945, Adolf Hitler proclaims from his underground bunker that deliverance was at hand from encroaching Russian troops—Berlin would remain German. A “mighty artillery is waiting to greet the enemy,” proclaims Der Fuhrer. This as Germans loyal to the Nazi creed continue the mass slaughter of Jews.
As Hitler attempted to inflate his troops’ morale, German soldiers, Hitler Youth, and local police chased 5,000 to 6,000 Jewish prisoners into a large barn, setting it on fire, in hopes of concealing the evidence of their monstrous war crimes as the end of the Reich quickly became a reality. As the Jewish victims attempted to burrow their way out of the blazing barn, Germans surrounding the conflagration shot them. “Several thousand people were burned alive,” reported one survivor. The tragic irony is that President Roosevelt, had he lived, intended to give an address at the annual Jefferson Day dinner in Washington, D.C., on that very day, proclaiming his desire for “an end to the beginnings of all wars—yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman, and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments.”