Pengolodh (s.c) (pengolodh_sc) wrote,
Pengolodh (s.c)

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The following is a translation of an article (not written by me, just so things are clear) appearing in Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten today - I would have just linked it, except for the fact that most of you don't understand Norwegian all that well. The article contains excerpts from columns written by Aftenposten's Berlin correspondent in late April and early May 60 years ago - the columns were never printed in the paper back then, but were published in a book in the autumn of that year. I thought it an worthy article, on account of what happened April 30th that year, in a bunker.

"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.

April 21st:
"From the Eastern part of the town crowds of refugees stream in towards the city centre, one sees the strangest things on the streets, like just now that little boy herding a large black and white cow across Potsdamer Platz while the shower of stone from shell-impacts flies around them.

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."

April 22nd:
"I sit down to write up something about the thunder from the shells that now come rushing through the air into the centre of the city from East, about the lines of refugees moving through the streets, about the lines before the food-retailers after it was announced extra distribution of a number of foodsupplies, about the birdsong in the parks . . ."

April 23rd:
"The flames from the fires of war begin to eat their way further and further in towards the heart of the large city. Some say the Russians are now only two and a half kilometres away from Alexanderplatz. Adolf Hitler himself has taken command in his capital, it is reported, but nobody knows where he is.

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."

April 24th:
"The villa in Podbielski allé 4 lies in a lovely garden, full of newly blossomed flowers, green trees and bushes. As night progresses the guns thunder worse and worse, but greater danger threatens us from German soldiers keen on defending the house. After midnight the roar of war rises steadily. The villa tremours under explosions from shells and bombs all round it. The barometer of war is now showing hurricane."

April 25th:
"A horrible day. No sooner have the bomb-explosions from one wave of aircraft died away, before a new series of explosions erupts. Massive assault! Silent and still we stay down in the cellar, I'm laying one solitaire after the other to quell my nervousness. The minutes we are up in the kitchen we are in luck. Machinegun-shots make circular holes in the livingroom's panes of glass, but do not strike us. The worst shock comes from an artilleryshell which grazes the outer wall and makes bricks come loose in the wall of the entrance hall. I think my final hour has arrived."

Night April 25th to 26th:
"We must have dozed off, because half an hour after midnight we suddenly jump out of half-sleep. Heavy strikes of riflebutts on the entrance door. The Red Army - an exciting encounter. The Russians in earth-brown uniforms, black, dusty as always in a battle, armed to the teeth, looking around sharply. The adjutant breaks up a crate with his bayonet, haplessly filled to the brim with wine and spirits. The Russians are beaming with delight in the whole face, "schnaps" - finally, finally!

"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."

April 26th:
"The wounded soldier is moaning for help, much weaker now, and to no use. To Russian soldiers drag him to our street door and lay him there, a young boy with a gaping fleshwound in his thigh. Help the German comrade, says our friend from the night.

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:
"By the dawn the mood turns completely apocalyptic, as the villa shivers like a leaf under the firing of a monster of a warmachine in the next door garden, a Stalin Organ. A roar about destruction for Stalin's enemies.

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."

April 28th:
"The smokeclouds from the burning Berlin are not quite as heavy today, the artillery barrage not quite so incessant and violent. The battle of Berlin must be close to the end"

April 29th:
"It is strange to see the Russian steppe-horses grazing in the villa-gardens of Dahlem, nibbling on lilacs and forsythia.

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."

April 30th:
"It has been my first calm night. The only thing to fault with our passing guests, is that they in Russian manner have made a bad mess in the toilets."

May 1st:
"As yet we do not know anything about what's happening out in the world, but we imagine that May 1st is the day Stalin will proclaim victory over Berlin, over Nazism.!

May 3rd:
"That Hitler is dead is being confirmed from all quarters, but there is disagreement about the way."

May 8th:
"On our way down to the city today . . . we encounter two Norwegians with little Norwegian flags on their sleeves. They say that Hitler has escaped to Norway and that Quisling held a radio speech yesterday about continued resistance in Norway."

Theo Findahl
Theo Findahl (1891-1976) Was Aftenposten's correspondent in Berlin from 1939 and through the whole war.
Soviet forces near the Reichskanzlerei
"No sooner have the bomb-explosion from one wave of aircraft died out, before a new series of explosions erupts."
Quisling meets face to face with Hitler
"They say that Hitler has escaped to Norway and that Quisling held a radiospeech yesterday about continued resistance in Norway."
Red Army hoists the Hammer and Sickle over Berlin
"The Red Army - an exciting encounter."
Theo Findahl

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.

"We are now yet again moving towards brighter days, and even the mauled Berlin can greet you with friendly smiles", wrote the SS war correspondent Arne Jerdem in the Nazi-controlled Aftenposten on February 24th 1945. This was at the same time as the Red Army advanced across the river Oder, few miles East of Berlin.

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.

In 1939 Berlin had a population of ca. 4.3 millions. During the Second World War the city was exposed to numerous large air-attacks. At the end there was combat within the city itself; they ended with complete Soviet takeover on May 2nd 1945.
During the summer of 1945 USA, Great Britain and France each took over a sector in the southern and western parts of Berlin; the rest of the city was garrisoned by the Russians. In time significant antagonism arose between the Russian authorities and the Western authorities.
June 24th 1948 the Russians initiated a complete blockade of the city. In response the Western powers opened an air bridge on June 28th, and the Russians raised the blockade May 12th 1949.
Relationship between the western and the eastern part of the city were greatly worsened in 1961, when the East Germans blocked the border to West Berlin with a wall straight through the city.
During the course of 1990 the wall was removed. The four victory powers relinquished authority over Berlin, and the city was formally reunited in October 1990.
In 1991 the Federal German Parliament (der Bundestag) decided that the German government and Parliament should be moved from Bonn to Berlin.

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