Hitler's Last Day: Everything We Know About His Bunker Suicide

By | April 28, 2020

test article image
Hitler's bunker just before demolition in July 1947. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-V04744 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

On this day in 1945, a shot rang out in a Berlin bunker that would signify the end of one of the most horrific eras of human history. After rising through the political ranks, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933, solidifying the Nazi Party's control over the economically struggling nation. Hitler used the people's desperation to seize power and carry out not only the single deadliest war to date but also the largest genocide mankind has ever known. With 70 million dead as a result of World War II, innumerable people wanted Hitler's head by April 30, 1945. A villain to the end, he took himself out before any of them had the chance.

test article image
3-D model of the New Reich Chancellery. (Christoph Neubauer/Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler's Bunker

It all went down in an air raid shelter known as the Führerbunker, a vast concrete complex designed specifically to protect the chancellor if Berlin was invaded or bombed. By late 1944, the war in the European theater was all but lost as Allied forces reclaimed more and more German-occupied territory and the Nazis suffered heavier and heavier casualties. The despot became so desperate that he began sending children as young as 12 and men as old as 60 to the front lines, but with the Soviets taking Poland and the Americans closing in on Berlin, even someone as delusional as Hitler couldn't help but see the writing on the wall. He retreated to the bunker in January 1945 and never came out again. Not alive, anyway.

Berlin's protection ended on April 19, when Soviet forces took out a major chunk of the German front line during the Battle of Seelow Heights. Hitler became so despondent after learning that his commanders were no longer obeying his orders and Fascism founder Benito Mussolini had died that he asked his doctor for cyanide capsules on April 22.