Inside Story-Adolf Hitler’s Favorite Secretary, Traudl Junge

As the Allies closed in on the Nazi state and its conquered territories, Hitler surrounded himself with his closest associates. He spent the last ten days of his life in an underground air raid shelter in Berlin with a small group of his followers, including Traudl Junge, his personal secretary.

Junge has been the topic of numerous interviews about her time working with one of history’s most renowned leaders, including writing his last will and testament, hearing his suicide, and leaving the bunker. Perhaps most controversially, she has stated that she was unaware of the Holocaust until after WWII.

Traudl Junge had no intention of joining the Nazi Party.

Traudl Junge was born Gertraud Humps in Munich on March 16, 1920. Her father was a master brewer and Reserve Army officer, while her mother looked after Traudl and her sister Inge.

Junge and her sister both wanted to be ballerinas as children. Despite the fact that Junge’s applications were rejected, Inge was a gifted dancer who relocated to Berlin to seek a career in the arts. Junge moved to Berlin with her sister when she was 22, drawn by the city’s arts and opportunities.

Junge went to school to become a typewriter after realizing she wasn’t going to be a dancer. As Hitler rose to power, job possibilities for expert typists arose, and Junge applied for one. In December 1942, she was hired as one of several secretaries in Hitler’s office.

Traudl Junge was only 22 when she became Hitler’s secretary.

During her first several months on the job, she and the other secretaries shared the same responsibilities. They helped with press requests, typed and mailed his personal letters, and responded to fan messages. As the likelihood of the regime’s demise loomed, Hitler began inviting his secretaries to eat meals with him every day so he could unwind.

Junge reflected on her growing respect for Hitler over the course of several meals, telling the BBC in 2002, “I admit, I was charmed with Adolf Hitler.” He was a good boss and a fatherly figure. I purposefully ignored all of my internal warning voices and relished the time I spent with him, nearly to the very end. It wasn’t so much what he said as it was how he said it and how he did it.”

Hitler’s Inner Circle And Junge

Junge’s inner group became increasingly dominated by the Nazi Party as she moved closer to Hitler. Her romance with Hitler’s valet, Hans Hermann, was fostered, and they married in June 1943. A year later, Hermann was killed in battle.

Though it is uncertain whether Hitler’s marriage and death prompted him to keep Junge as his closest secretary, by the end of 1943 she had become his right hand in the office. Before returning to Berlin, she traveled with him throughout Nazi-occupied territory.

Traudl Junge and Hans Hermann were married in April 1943 with the blessing of Hitler

During one of their breakfasts, another secretary, Gerda Christian, asked Hitler if he would ever leave Berlin, Junge recalled. He was determined about not doing so. Junge, Christian, Wilhelm Mohnke, Hans Baur, Johann Rattenhuber, Else Krüger, Constanze Manziarly, Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, and Eva Braun were among those who moved into the Führerbunker shortly afterward.

Traudl Junge And The Führerbunker’s Final Days

The Führerbunker was intended to resemble a military submarine in size, and quarters were cramped and stressful in the last ten days. Junge described the incident as a “horror” in an oral history released in 2013.

Hitler went into the Führerbunker knowing he wasn’t going to make it out alive. He married Eva Braun in his final 10 days, gave his pet dog a cyanide pill, and sat down with Junge to compose his last will and testament to her.

On April 22, 1945, Hitler told the bunker occupants that they were free to depart if they so desired. Eva Braun and Junge stood firm in their refusal to leave, and a few others followed suit. He gave them all the same cyanide pills he gave his dog and then killed himself on April 30 by shooting himself.

In 1945, Hitler and his closest associates entered the bunker; only a few escaped.

Following his death, the other members of the group were given the option of remaining hidden, attempting to flee, or taking the tablets. Junge left with a small group of individuals on May 1 to try to flee. She made it out of the city and to the Elbe River, but having nowhere else to go, she had no choice but to return to Berlin. Junge was apprehended by two civilian members of the Soviet military government on July 9th.

Hitler’s Secretary Attempts To Reconcile Her Monster Memories

Junge and the rest of the group were prosecuted and convicted, and numerous Allied nations interrogated Junge. She was able to move to West Berlin and continue working as a secretary by mid-1946.
She authored a memoir on her time with Hitler near the end of her life, and she frankly admitted to not using her position to examine what the Nazi Party was up to behind closed doors. She was torn between her warm memories of Hitler in private and the crimes he perpetrated during his reign.

Traudl Junge reflected on her time with Hitler and its impact on her life in a farewell interview, noting that she “felt immense shame for adoring the worst criminal ever to have lived.”

“Now that I’ve let go of my story, I can let go of my life,” Junge told Othmar Schmiderer, who created a documentary about Hitler’s final days. Junge died on Feb. 10, 2002, in Munich, after a long struggle with cancer.

References:

  • Junge, Traudl (14 June 2004). Melissa Muller (ed.). Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary. Phoenix. ISBN0753817926.
  • Compare: Taylor, Charles (31 January 2003). “Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary”. Salon. Retrieved 14 March 2016. […] she worked as an editor and science journalist, living in a one-room apartment in suburban Munich from the ’50s onward.
  • “Traudl Junge”. The Daily Telegraph. 14 February 2002. Retrieved 21 October 2017.

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