Theodor von Dufving
During the Battle for Berlin, Colonel von Dufving was the "military" Chief-of-Staff for General Helmuth Weidling. Von Dufving had also been Weidling's Chief-of-Staff when Weidling commanded the LVI Tank Corps (LVI Panzer Korps).
On 1 May, after Hitler's suicide on 30 April, German Chancellor (Reichskanzler) Joseph Goebbels sent General Hans Krebs and von Dufving, under a white flag, to deliver a letter he had written to Soviet General Vasily Chuikov. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Krebs, having been a fluent Russian speaker, had been brushing up in front of his shaving mirror. Von Dufving took a Latvian officer as his Russian interpreter.
The letter Goebbels gave Krebs to deliver to Chuikov contained surrender terms acceptable to Goebbels. Chuikov was not prepared to accept the terms in Goebbels' letter or to negotiate with Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender. Krebs was not authorized by Goebbels to agree to an unconditional surrender. The meeting ended with no agreement. Both Goebbels and Krebs committed suicide shortly afterwards.
Early the following day, Von Dufving was sent to arrange for General Weidling to meet with General Chuikov. Weidling left for his meeting with Chuikov about one hour before von Dufving and his party followed him.
At 5:55 a.m., on 2 May 1945, von Dufving, Hans Refior, Siegfried Knappe, and a German Major led a column of roughly one hundred German soldiers to the end of Bendler Street (Bendlerstrasse). Knappe was also a member of Weidling's staff. The Soviets were waiting for them on the other side of the Landwehr Canal (Landwehrkanal).
The ranking Soviet officer crossed to the German side of the bridge. Von Dufving saluted and reported to him. The Soviet officer spoke to von Dufving for a moment and then returned to the other side of the canal. About two dozen Soviet soldiers with submachine guns waited there. They had several American-made jeeps. The column of Germans crossed the bridge, walking upright and in single file. The Soviet soldiers all had big grins on their faces. One Soviet soldier said "Hitler kaputt" to the German prisoners and the Soviet soldiers all laughed.
The German prisoners were then transported to Soviet General Chuikov's headquarters near Tempelhof Airport. Here they met up with General Weidling. Once inside Chuikov's headquarters, Weidling had Knappe type a report directing all German forces still in Berlin to halt any form of resistance.
In February 1949, as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, von Dufving provided evidentiary statements concerning Swedish humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg. While en route to Vorkuta, in the transit camp in Kirov, von Dufving encountered a prisoner with his own special guard and dressed in civilian clothes. The prisoner stated that he was a Swedish diplomat and that he was there "through a great error."
According to von Dufving, the man he saw was well-dressed and travelled with a special guard or companion. When von Dufving asked the man if he had been with the Swedish Embassy in Berlin, he answered, "No – in Eastern Europe." According to von Dufving, the man spoke in almost perfect German accent. Although he was reading a newspaper in Russian, he told von Dufving that he didn’t really know Russian that well.
- Tony Le Tissier, Death was our companion: the final days of the Third Reich, ISBN 978-0-7509-4588-2. Page 189.
- Ernst Schraepler, Ursachen und Folgen: Vom deutschen Zusammenbruch 1918 und 1945 bis zur staatlichen Neuordnung Deutschlands in der Gegenwart. Dokumenten-Verlag Dr. Herbert Wendler & Co. (1964). ASIN B002LJUX50. Page 158.
- Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5, p. 367