Franz Schädle

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Franz Schädle
FranzSchadleHimmler.jpg
Schädle stands to the right of the soldier greeted by Himmler (left)
Born 19 November 1906
Westerheim
Died May 1, 1945(1945-05-01) (aged 38)
Berlin
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Years of service 1930–1945
Rank SS-Obersturmbannführer Collar Rank.svg Obersturmbannführer
Unit SS-Begleitkommando des Führers; Führerbegleitkommando
Commands held Führerbegleitkommando (1945)

SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Franz Schädle (19 November 1906 – 1 May 1945) was the last commander of Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard (the Führerbegleitkommando; FBK), from 5 January 1945 until his death on 1 May 1945, aged 38.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Westerheim, Baden-Württemberg and after trade school he worked as a construction technician. He joined the SS on 1 February 1930. On 1 March 1932, Schädle became one of eight founding members of Hitler's personal bodyguard. He also served on the staff of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler from 1 May 1934. Schädle guarded Hitler at the various Führer Headquarters and accompanied him on all his trips.[1]

On 5 January 1945, Schädle was appointed commander of the bodyguard unit after the dismissal of Bruno Gesche.[1] Thereafter, he accompanied Hitler and his entourage into the bunker complex under the Reich Chancellery gardens in the central government sector of Berlin.[1] By 23 April 1945, he commanded approximately 30 members of the unit who stood guard therein for Hitler.[2] On 28 April 1945 he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel. It caused him to have to "hobble" around using a crutch.[3] After Hitler committed suicide on the afternoon of 30 April, Schädle was present at Hitler's cremation in the garden of the Reich Chancellery.

After Hitler's suicide, orders were issued that those who could do so were to break out. The plan was to escape from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or to the German Army to the North. Those left in the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker were split up into ten main groups.[4] FBK member and bunker telephone operator, Rochus Misch stated that Schädle had ordered, that when the time came, he was to join SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke's lead break-out group.[5] Misch later recalled that shortly thereafter four fellow FBK guards came down into the Führerbunker carrying an empty stretcher. They wanted to carry Schädle on it during the break-out. Schädle turned them down.[5] According to the bunker's master electro-mechanic Johannes Hentschel, by that time, Schädle's wound had turned gangrene.[6] Schädle committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with a pistol, rather than attempt the break out from the Reich Chancellery to escape from the advancing Red Army.[1] He did not want to endanger the lives of the others in the attempt.[5]

Film portrayal[edit]

Franz Schädle's suicide is depicted in a brief scene in the 2004 German film Downfall (Der Untergang). Schädle is portrayed by Igor Bubenchikov.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 293, 294.
  2. ^ O'Donnell 1978, p. 97.
  3. ^ O'Donnell 1978, pp. 236, 349.
  4. ^ Fischer 2008, p. 49.
  5. ^ a b c O'Donnell 1978, p. 349.
  6. ^ O'Donnell 1978, p. 341.

References[edit]