Until the Final Hour
Until the Final Hour (German: Bis Zur Letzten Stunde) is a memoir of the last days of Hitler's government, written by Traudl Junge. The book was part of the basis for the film Der Untergang (The Downfall) in 2004.
This memoir deals with the years (1942-1945) that Traudl Junge spent with Adolf Hitler as his personal secretary. When he first hired her, by chance as it turns out, she was 21 years old and was sought out because a secretary needed to be replaced.
She also describes in great detail some of the luxuries that she and other secretaries took advantage of while working for Hitler. For instance, she was treated to tea-parties and dinner parties with Hitler, Eva Braun, the other secretaries (all women), and the military chiefs.
Traudl Humps married Hans Hermann Junge, one of Hitler's military "orderlies". Although they were in love, they were hesitant to marry so soon because they had not known each other for very long. Hitler, however, goaded her into marrying Junge, which occurred in June 1943.
As the years passed, Hitler's health deteriorated, Germany began losing the war, and Hans Junge was killed in combat at the front in August 1944.
They traveled a great deal, going from the East Prussia Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), to the Berghof, to Munich, to the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery) and back, all by way of train. Once the Red Army began sweeping across eastern Europe after Stalingrad fell, the Wolfsschanze had to be abandoned.
Hitler had two bunkers built around the Reich Chancellery to protect from the air raids. The author was in the Reich Chancellery, the Vorbunker and the Führerbunker with Hitler. Therein, they (along with Eva Braun and the others) awaited the eventual, inevitable fall of Berlin to the Soviet Army.
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler provided everyone with cyanide capsules. Hitler stated outright he would stay in Berlin, head up the defence of the city and shoot himself before he would surrender to the Soviet Union. The mood in the bunker in the final days was one primarily of depression and hopelessness. Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda poisoned their six children with cyanide (to Junge's horror) and their bodies were found, in their beds in the Vorbunker (upper bunker), by the Russians a few days later. Goebbels and his wife either committed suicide or had the SS guards shoot them ("eyewitness" accounts differ on this point).
Hitler was dubious that the cyanide capsules would be powerful enough to kill him, so before he attempted his suicide, he tested a capsule on his beloved dog Blondi. The capsule killed Blondi almost instantly. Hitler killed himself with a gunshot wound to the right temple, using his own Walther PPK semiautomatic pistol chambered for 7.65 mm/.32 ACP while simultaneously biting into a cyanide capsule. Eva Braun, his bride of less than 40 hours, used cyanide alone.
Eventually, Junge and others still in the bunker were led out to try and break out of the Soviet encirclement. She and another secretary wanted to avoid the Russians, so they decided to flee. Junge was eventually captured by soldiers of the Soviet Army, but was held only briefly when she was in the custody of the Americans. Considered to be merely a "young follower" she was quickly released, and was never prosecuted for any crime.
In 1989 her manuscript detailing the war years was first published in the book Voices from the Bunker by Pierre Galante and Eugene Silianoff (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons).
- Original German edition: Junge, Traudl; Melissa Müller (2002). Bis Zur Letzten Stunde: Hitlers Sekretärin erzählt ihr Leben. München: Claassen. ISBN 978-3-546-00311-7. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- First US edition (2 April 2004): Junge, Traudl; Melissa Müller, Anthea Bell (2004). Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary. New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55970-728-2. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- Downfall (film), a movie partly based on the book