Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 7 News List

New book sheds light on Hitler's bizarre last days

THE GUARDIAN , STUTTGART

Adolf Hitler was so crippled with anxiety during his final days that he would scratch his neck and ears until they bled and demanded that his toilet water, as well as the water in which his eggs were boiled, be constantly analysed for traces of poison.

Before he took his own life he ordered his valet, Heinz Linge, to pour petrol over his body and burn it.

"You must never allow my corpse to fall into the hands of the Russians," Hitler told Linge. "They would make a spectacle in Moscow out of my body and put it in waxworks."

These fascinating insights into Hitler's life, unearthed in a Moscow archive, are published yesterday in an account called The Hitler Book.

The revealing excerpts are the product of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's obsession with his longstanding enemy.

After the Soviet forces captured Hitler's adjutant, Otto Gunsche, and Linge, they documented the interrogative interviews with their prized prisoners and presented them to their leader.

The 413-page report was buried along with thousands of other secret documents on the orders of the NKVD -- forerunner to the KGB -- in Russia's Institute for History.

After gathering dust in the Communist Party archives for decades, the reports have now been rediscovered by the German historians Matthias Uhl and Henrik Eberle.

The accounts are full of curious snapshots of a man whose private personality has been shrouded in mystery.

Linge, for example, is reported to have said: "Hitler's conversation was banal. At the dinner table he would praise the dresses of the female staff and comment on how difficult they must have found it not being able to get their hair done or their nails filed.

"Hitler had a weird sense of humor. He would laugh at Eva's lipstick on a serviette and then say, `During wartime, lipstick is produced out of dead bodies.'"

But Gunsche's interviews reveal the more monstrous side to Hitler's character, and how, on one occasion, he flew into a rage when it proved difficult to hire 10 more serving girls.

"I stamp whole divisions into the dirt!" screamed Hitler. "And I can't get a few more serving sluts for the Berghof?"

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