Much speculation and mystery surrounds the last photograph taken of Adolf Hitler who committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Records show that no photographers were in the Berlin bunker after March 20 and therefore confirming the Nazi dictator’s final picture is complicated.
Most historians argue that Hitler‘s last known photograph was taken on April 20, 1945, just ten days before his death. The picture was captured during a ceremony on his 56th birthday at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
It shows Hitler standing alongside his longtime associate, Martin Bormann, as they decorate members of the Hitler Youth with the Iron Cross for their bravery. The photo is often referred to as “Hitler’s last birthday photo.”
Second contender for Hitler’s last photograph
However, another contender as the last known picture of Hitler is the one believed to be taken two days prior to his death as he stands outside his Berlin bunker entrance surveying the devastating bomb damage.
With Germany lying in ruins after six years of war, and with defeat imminent, Hitler decided to take his own life.
But before doing so, he married Eva Braun and then penned his last will and testament. The next day in the afternoon on April 30, 1945, Braun and Hitler entered his living room to end their lives. When Hitler asked his physician to recommend a reliable method of suicide his doctor suggested combining a dose of cyanide with a gunshot to the head.
Later that afternoon the remaining members of the bunker community found Hitler slumped over, and blood spilled over the arm of the couch. Eva was sitting at the other end.
Hitler had killed himself by biting down on a cyanide capsule while shooting himself in the head. Eva only used the cyanide capsule. Hitler committed suicide two days before the surrender of Berlin to the Soviets on 2 May, and just over a week before the end of World War II in Europe on 8 May.
Third contender for Hitler’s last photograph
Yet another theory suggests that Hitler’s last photo is the one below, where Hitler decorates General Theodor Tolsdorff taken on March 20 1945 more than a month before Hitler’s death.
In Berlin, Tolsdorff received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He was promoted to General lieutenant (major general) and appointed commander of the LXXXII Army Corps, which was stationed in Bavaria.
On 8 May, he surrendered in Austria to Lt. Carwood Lipton and Robert F. Sink of the 101st Airborne Division. Tolsdorff’s convoy of 31 vehicles drove down from the mountains loaded with his personal baggage, liquor, cigars, cigarettes, and his girlfriends.
“As I did not consider that I could take responsibility, during the years of struggle, of contracting a marriage, I have now decided, before the closing of my earthly career, to take as my wife that girl who, after many years of faithful friendship, entered, of her own free will, the practically besieged town in order to share her destiny with me. At her own desire, she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.
What I possess belongs – in so far as it has any value – to the Party. Should this no longer exist, to the State; should the State also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary.
My pictures, in the collections which I have bought in the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my hometown of Linz on Donau.
It is my most sincere wish that this bequest may be duly executed. I nominate as my Executor my most faithful Party comrade, Martin Bormann. He is given full legal authority to make all decisions. He is permitted to take out everything that has a sentimental value or is necessary for the maintenance of modest simple life, for my brothers and sisters, also above all for the mother of my wife and my faithful co-workers who are well known to him, principally my old Secretaries Frau Winter, etc. who have for many years aided me by their work.
I myself and my wife – in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation – choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of twelve years’ service to my people”.
Given in Berlin, 29th April 1945, 4:00 a.m. Signed: A. Hitler Signed as witnesses: Dr. Joseph Goebbels Martin Bormann Colonel Nicholaus von Below