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Death of Hitler: How the world found out from the BBC

The main listening room at BBC Monitoring in 1945

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Karl Lehmann was once one of a few 1,000 other people running at Caversham Park by way of the tip of the struggle

It was once past due within the night on 1 Might 1945 and Karl Lehmann was once running at his table at the outskirts of Studying, 40 miles (65km) to the west of London.

Soviet forces have been ultimate in on Berlin and the struggle with Germany had reached its ultimate phases.

The 24-year-old was once tracking German state radio when listeners have been instructed to arrange for the most important announcement.

“They performed solemn song after which they mentioned Hitler had died,” he remembers. “They mentioned he had fallen combating Bolshevism. It was once introduced in an excessively sombre method.”

He and his more youthful brother, Georg, were despatched from Germany to Britain by way of their oldsters 9 years previous to flee the Nazis’ expanding persecution of Jewish other people. Their father was once a German Jew.

“I felt general reduction as a result of [Hitler] had ruined my lifestyles.”

Karl Lehmann was once running at BBC Tracking, arrange at the eve of International Warfare Two. Its primary goal was once to hear, translate and tell the British Govt about radio announces from Germany and its allies, in addition to from different international locations.

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The German tracking staff was once in large part made up of Jews, socialists and business unionists who had fled Nazi persecution

“We have been the primary other people in Britain to listen to the announcement,” he recalls. “The entire construction cheered. We realised how necessary it was once. It supposed the tip of the struggle in opposition to Germany.”

It was once now not for some other six days that Germany formally surrendered.

Whilst there was once unquestionably that Hitler was once lifeless, it emerged most effective later that he had killed himself.

“Fallen supposed ‘died in energetic fight’ – we heard a large lie,” Karl says.

“They did not admit he had dedicated suicide as a result of that may had been the tip right away. However that was once the Germans themselves saying over their radio that Hitler was once lifeless. It was once as professional as you get.”

The newsreader additionally mentioned that Hitler had appointed Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor.

Hitler’s downfall 1945

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Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs

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Adolf Hitler married Eva Braun on 29 April because the Pink Military closed in at the Reich Chancellery

15-16 April Ultimate attack on Berlin starts in a single day when Soviet forces release a formidable artillery barrage on German forces to the east of town

21 April Pink Military enters outskirts of Berlin, captures outlying suburbs

27 April Soviet and American forces meet on the River Elbe in Germany, effectively reducing Germany military in two

29 April Hitler and Eva Braun marry in his bunker underneath Reich Chancellery headquarters

30 April Hitler and his new spouse kill themselves and their our bodies are burned

1 Might German radio declares Hitler’s loss of life

7 Might Germany indicators unconditional give up, bringing to an finish six years of struggle in Europe

The German announcement of Hitler’s loss of life was once temporarily translated by way of Ernst Gombrich, a manager within the German Tracking staff who went directly to turn into a famend artwork historian.

“He wrote it out on bits of paper, which was once a horrible factor to do as a result of he may have muddled them up, and he had horrible handwriting,” says his former colleague.

“He did it for velocity as a result of we most often typed issues or wrote them out smartly.”

Ernst Gombrich then phoned the Cupboard Place of work in London to inform the federal government. BBC newsrooms have been additionally knowledgeable and broadcast the inside track to the country and the sector.

Learn extra about Hitler’s finish and the BBC at struggle

Now 97, Karl says he recalls a complete country cheering the inside track.

For him in my opinion it supposed he may just see his oldsters once more. His father, Walter, had run a wholesale millinery trade in Cologne, which he was once pressured by way of the Nazis to promote for subsequent to not anything prior to he and his spouse, Edith, fled Germany, ultimately attaining the USA.

One thousand other people have been running at BBC Tracking at Caversham Park by the point of Hitler’s loss of life. Amongst them was once a senior Italian observe, Doris Penny, who turned into his first spouse.

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Karl Lehmann

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Karl Lehmann (third from L) grew up in Cologne however was once despatched to Britain in 1939 together with his brother Georg (a ways L)

Of the 40 within the German staff many have been Jews, socialists and business unionists who had fled Nazi persecution.

“They have been thrilled by way of Hitler’s loss of life as he had pressured them to to migrate,” Karl says.

And the Nazi dictator’s loss of life had one much less glaring dividend – for the German displays.

“Hitler was once very tricky to translate,” Karl recalls.

“He was once a horrible author and his speeches have been unimpressive whilst you learn them within the German however utterly other when he spoke. He depended on his oratory. It supposed we shouldn’t have to translate him anymore.”

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