"I think my final hour has arrived"
April 30th marks the 60th anniversary of Hitler's suicide in the bunker in the Reichskanzlerei. The Berlin-correspondent of Norwegian newspaper, Theo Findahl, followed the dramatic events from day to day.
Findahl's detailed and breath-taking eyewitness accounts were never printed in the then Nazi-controlled Aftenposten, but have been taken from the book "Undergang" ("Downfall") which he published later in 1945.
Since the bomb- and shell-attacks on the centre of Berlin became ever more intense during the last days of April, Findahl was given shelter with his Finnish colleague Ada Norna in the elegant suburb Dahlem, where the Soviet forces were moving in from the southwest.
It is as though the atmosphere itself in Berlin the last few days has caused people to turn their insides out. Everyone has become so irritable, hypernervous that the slightest push is enough to make them explode. The weather is certainly gorgeous, a lovely blue afternoon sky over all those budding trees, but it only feels like a mockery."
In Berlin's only newspaper "Der Panzerbär" the Führer proclaims that "anyone sanctioning or assenting to measures which reduce our power of resistance is a traitor. He should be shot or hanged!" This simply means that anybody can kill anybody just on suspicion of defeatist spirit. The wildest chaos."
Night April 25th to 26th:
"Help, help", cries a voice from the neighbouring garden, some wounded soldier? The Germans are bastards, say the Russians, they don't take care of their wounded."
The boy is still alive and conscious and groans out a thank you of sorts to the Russian comrade. The officers shake their heads. Wait here, says one of them authoritatively, he walks out alone. We hear three shots and know the soldier is dead. A little bit later I go out and collect the dead soldier's papers from his pocket. Walter Reckling, 18 years, from Berlin. Carpenter's apprentice. Orphan."
Night April 26th to 27th:
We can't let the dead Walter lie there. One of the soldiers puts a rope in a loop around the legs of the dead, drags him over gravel and glass splinters to one of the deep little trenches the Russians have made. We make a little wooden cross, and over the grave we put a fresh branch which a shell has torn off the pear tree."
But stranger yet is to see a flock of camels wagging through the garden gate - they must come all the way from Turkestan (sic), or some other distant Asian country - so immensely great is the extent of this war."
Theo Findahl (1891-1976) Was Aftenposten's correspondent in Berlin from 1939 and through the whole war.
"No sooner have the bomb-explosion from one wave of aircraft died out, before a new series of explosions erupts."
PHOTO: JEVGENIJ KHALDEI/CORBIS/SCANPIX
"They say that Hitler has escaped to Norway and that Quisling held a radiospeech yesterday about continued resistance in Norway."
"The Red Army - an exciting encounter."
Theo Findahl (1891-1976) was Aftenposten's correspondent in Berlin from 1939 and throughout the entire war. With his anti-Nazi attitude he did his best to transmit news between the lines in such a way that they could pass through German censorship, according to press-historian Rune Ottosen. Findahl is said to have been involved in a British intelligence-operation throughout the war. In the spring of 1945 he was captured by Soviet soldiers in Berlin and imprisoned outside Moscow for four months. After the war he was Aftenposten's correspondent in London, New York and Rome, where he died in 1976.
April 16th the Russians initiation the ferocious final offensive. But only on April 30th did Hitler recognise that the war was lost, before he took his own life in the bunker. May 2nd the military commander of Berlin, General Weidling, capitulated. In the night between May 8th and May 9th General Field Marshall Keitel signed the declaration of unconditional surrender.