24 July 1915|
|Years of service||1937–1945|
|Unit||1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
4th SS Polizei Division
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Günther Schwägermann (born 24 July 1915) served in the Nazi government of German dictator Adolf Hitler. From approximately late 1941, Schwägermann served as the adjutant for Dr. Joseph Goebbels. He reached the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain). Schwägermann survived World War II and was held in American captivity from 25 June 1945 until 24 April 1947.
Born in Uelzen, Schwägermann attended secondary school and later joined the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler on 8 April 1937. He was sent to the SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz for officers' training from October 1938 until September 1939. He later served with the 4th SS Polizei Division in France and Russia. After being wounded on the Eastern front, Schwägermann became the adjutant for Dr. Joseph Goebbels. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmführer. Later on 29 November 1944, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer. In January 1945, Goebbels sent Schwägermann to his villa at Lanke, ordering him to bring his wife, Magda, and their children to stay at an air raid shelter on Schwanenwerder.
By 22 April 1945, the Soviets were attacking Berlin and Joseph and Magda Goebbels brought their children to the Vorbunker to stay. Schwägermann came with them. Adolf Hitler had already taken up residence in the lower Führerbunker in January 1945. It was in that protected bunker complex below the Reich Chancellery garden of Berlin that Hitler and a few loyal personnel were gathered to direct the city's final defence.
By the time of Hitler's death on 30 April 1945, the Soviet Army was less than 500 metres from the bunker complex. On 1 May 1945, Goebbels arranged for an SS dentist, Helmut Kunz, to inject his six children with morphine so that when they were unconscious, an ampule of cyanide could be then crushed in each of their mouths. According to Kunz's later testimony, he gave the children morphine injections but it was Magda Goebbels and SS-Obersturmbannführer Ludwig Stumpfegger, Hitler's personal doctor, who administered the cyanide.
At around 20:30, Goebbels and his wife, Magda left the bunker and walked up to the garden of the Chancellery, where they committed suicide. There are several different accounts of this event. According to one account, Goebbels shot his wife and then himself. Another account was that they each bit on a cyanide ampule and were given a coup de grâce immediately afterwards. Schwägermann testified in 1948 that the couple walked ahead of him up the stairs and out into the Chancellery garden. He waited in the stairwell and heard the shots sound. Schwägermann then walked up the remaining stairs and once outside he saw the lifeless bodies of the couple. Following Joseph Goebbels' prior order, Schwägermann had an SS soldier fire several shots into Goebbels' body, which did not move. The bodies were then doused with petrol, but the remains were only partially burned and not buried.
In one of Hitler's last orders, he had given permission for the Berlin forces to attempt a breakout of the Soviet encirclement after his death. General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin Defence Area, and SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, the (Kommandant) Battle Commander for the centre government district, devised a plan to escape out from Berlin to the Allies on the western side of the Elbe or to the German Army to the North. Mohnke split up the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker soldiers and personnel into ten main groups. Schwägermann was in one of the break-out groups of 1 May. He made it out of Berlin and escaped to the west. There Schwägermann was taken into custody and held in American captivity from 25 June 1945 until 24 April 1947. Later in life, Schwägermann lived in northern Germany.
- Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. London: Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5.
- Fischer, Thomas (2008). Soldiers of the Leibstandarte: SS-Brigadefuhrer Wilhelm Mohnke and 62 Soldiers of Hitler's Elite Division. Winnipeg: J.J. Fedorowicz. ISBN 978-0-921991-91-5.
- Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) . The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.