This week in the War, 16–22 April 1945: Birthday in the bunker

Heinrich Himmler presents Hitler with a specially printed luxury edition of Mein Kampf to mark the Fuehrer’s 50th birthday on 20 April 1939 [Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H28988/ Hoffmann/ CC-BY-SA 3.0]

Hitler’s birthday, 20 April, was a special day in the Nazi calendar and normally a cause for parades and festivities across the German Reich. Not long before the beginning of the war, 20 April 1939, Hitler had celebrated his 50th birthday. The photograph to the left shows SS-Reichsfuehrer Heinrich Himmler marking that occasion by presenting his Fuehrer with a specially printed edition of Mein Kampf.

This week in the war, on 20 April 1945, Hitler spent his birthday in the bleak concrete environment of the Fuehrerbunker, several meters beneath the surface of his capital.

Visitors included Keitel, Jodl, Ribbentrop, Speer, and Bormann. Hitler expressed his determination to remain in Berlin and fight to the end.

Göring was there, ready to head off to Karinhall where his butler had organized the shipping out of his boss’s art treasures. Himmler called by to pay his respects then left, secretly intent on negotiating a ceasefire with the Western Allies.

Hitler’s birthday dinner was a quiet affair that evening, with only Eva and himself and his secretaries attending.





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