Nazi Germany: What were the final days of the Third Reich like?

at 02:04 AM, 16 Jul 16 (1 year ago)
(429 | Upcoming) (m)
In short?

Total chaos mixed with terror, people abandoning all hope, death, hunger, and brutal repression.

If you found yourself in late April in Berlin, you'd experience sheer terror along with young people acting with complete abandon. Many likened it to the end of the world. Many people began doing what they wanted to do, like having parties and getting drunk out of their minds.  Some even engaged in sexual acts, knowing that it would probably be their last moments of pleasure. Water and food were in short supply but beer and alcohol were not. One family survived on a cache of champagne.

Mass Suicides

There were too many suicides to count during this time. When Hitler lost Stalingrad, many Germans at that time had an inkling of what was to come if the war ever came to Berlin. Because the Germans never saw themselves in the position where the "uncultured and Asiatic beasts" would be at their front door, they had no defenses and the city was not prepared. Because of this, many people chose to take their own lives.

Women and children waded into water, people were trying to procure cyanide or other effective poison. Some simply jumped from heights or shot themselves. Hangings were common as well. Mass suicides in Germany were horrific.

Brutal Repression

Children as young as 13 could be found hanging from lampposts for being cowards. The SS would go around and find people that were hiding out instead of fighting and would hang them for cowardice. This was done to show the population what would happen if they didn't fight back. This tactic backfired in so many ways and those who were the staunchest supporters of the Nazi regime began to have their doubts that this war could be won, regardless of what Goebbels shrieked on the radio...before taking his own life.

The only people that were really left were rag tag remnants of the 9th and 12th army, Hitler Jugend, some of the most fanatical of the SS who survived in other parts, and old men, who made up the Volksturm. There were hardly any weapons. There seemed to be lots of Italian ammunition but they wouldn't fire in German guns. So thousands of these bullets had to be cased to fit the guns. There wasn't much time to do this so they simply found guns that would fire the Italian ammunition from caches of weapons taken from other countries. This didn't work out so well.

The only weapon that was primarily effective was the Panzerfaust. Many Russian tanks were taken out this way. But the Russians just kept coming. The Panzerfaust was so simplistic in design and worked really well but there were only so many of these to go around. With the Russian Katushkas demolishing buildings, the Germans still didn't stand a chance. But Russian casualties were high....

Hunger

There were very few provisions left to feed the people. Despite the height of the Russian bombings, many housewives braved the bombs to queue in line for food. They didn't know when they would get their next meal and wouldn't dream of leaving the line that they had waited in line for. So they simply braved the bombs. Many women and children lost their lives this way. Hunger was widespread and rampant in the cities and many Germans simply died of starvation.

Mass Rapes

Many Berlin housewives told stories of the first waves of Russian troops and how they were treated nicely. They simply wanted things like light bulbs, alcohol, and wristwatches. But many were warned that second wave troops weren't going to be as nice. Rapes from the Red Army were done brutally. Some women were simply shot after being raped. Others were raped repeatedly. The abortion rate shot up after Berlin was occupied and doctors had their hands full with abortion procedures. Some women opted for suicide than rape. Others fooled the Russians by hiding in conspicuous places, dressed as old women, or simply fled to American lines where they were treated better.

 A really good book to get a sense of the times would be "The Last Battle" by Cornelius Ryan. There are some mistakes in the book that I found but it tells the human story of what it was like to live in the last days of the Third Reich with astounding clarity and humanity. You almost feel sorry for the Germans....almost. The movie, "Der Untergang" is a great movie that also tells the story of the last days. I found them both to be fairly accurate and compelling.

Depending on where you lived....

If you lived in the Soviet Zone, you knew hard times were ahead. If you lived in American occupied territory, you had more hope. Many Germans looked at Americans as their "saviors". However, in the beginning, the Americans didn't see it that way. Especially those that viewed the death camps. But the Russians were brutal in their reprisals against the Germans. The Americans had stories of atrocities of their own but nowhere near the Germans.

Stranger Things Have Happened....

There were heroic stories that came out of Germany. Such as Walther Wencke assisting German citizens to the American lines. The 9th army was even feeding German refugees and helping them through a small pocket get to the American lines.

Also there was one battle of Itter Castle in Austria where the German Wehrmacht fought on the same side as the Americans against the SS, who had VIP prisoners held up in the castle.

So the last days of the Third Reich was a strange but brutal chapter in History that should never be repeated again. But it brought forth a better Germany today.


1marviz at 08:42 AM, 6 Dec 16 (11 months ago)
(1907 | Gistmaniac) (m)
hmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!""" HISTORYYYYYYYYYYY
Reply
ruthie at 01:52 PM, 11 Aug 17 (3 months ago)
(9413 | Hero) (f)
THANK GOD, THEM NO BORN ME THAT DAY!
Reply
Floyd29 at 01:11 PM, 9 Sep 17 (2 months ago)
(2172 | Gistmaniac) (f)
Historic
Reply

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