End of Hitler

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The precise time when Hitler realized that the end was near is hard to place, but by mid-April it was clearly apparent to him that Allied and Soviet armies soon would split Germany in two. Reserving for himself the right to command in whichever part of Germany he happened to find himself when the split came, he designated Admiral Doenitz, head of the German Navy, to command in the north should the fuhrer be in the south. Similarly, he designated Field Marshal Kesselring to command in the south should he himself be in the north.

By April 22, with Berlin under direct attack from the Soviet Army since April 16, Doenitz, Goering (heir designate to Hitler’s post), and most other ranking officials had left Berlin for either the south or the north. Hitler and his military staffs were about all that remained. The fuhrer apparently had high hopes of prolonging the war indefinitely until April 22, when a counterattack which he had ordered to strike the Russians at Berlin from the north failed to materialize. From this point he vowed to stay in the capital, eventually to kill himself rather than to fall into the hands of his enemies.

Learning the next day of Hitler’s decision to stay in Berlin, Goering assumed that it was time he took control of the government. When he radioed for instructions, saying that if he received no answer during the day of April 23, he would take charge, Hitler considered the act treasonable. He promptly had Goering arrested. By the end of April, all concerned had to admit that every effort to relieve Berlin had failed, and that the city was facing its final fight. Hitler himself, having composed a will designating Doenitz his successor as head of the German state and supreme commander of the armed forces, committed suicide.

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German Surrender

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