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76 years ago today, on April 30 1945, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, who he had married less than 40 hours earlier, committed suicide in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin.
The Nazi dictator, then aged 65, swallowed a cyanide capsule before shooting himself in the head after being alerted to the fact that Soviet forces were closing in on Berlin.
Hitler’s officers had urged him to escape to the small town of Berchtesgarden in the Bavarian Alps, but he decided instead to die.
But before this happened, the Fuhrer wrote his final memo, dubbed his “suicide note”, which announced his fate.
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In the letter, which was sent to one of his favourite commanders Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner, he explains his reasoning for not fleeing.
The Fuhrer’s chilling message read: “I shall remain in Berlin, so as to take part, in honourable fashion, in the decisive battle for Germany, and to set a good example to all those remaining.
“I believe that in this way I shall be rendering Germany the best service.
“For the rest of you, every effort must be made to win the struggle for Berlin. You can there help decisively, by pushing northwards as early as possible.”
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The lot also included a transcript of the letter from Schörner, urging him to escape.
It read: “I should like… to ask you, at this grave hour, to leave Berlin and to assume command… from the southern sector.
“If you fell, Germany would also. Millions of Germans await the opportunity to build up Germany once again, with you.”
The lot was sold for $65,000 (£46,580) at auction in 2019 at Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, US.
At the time, Auction company president Bill Panagopulos said: "There is no other written evidence of Hitler declaring his intention to remain (and die) in Berlin that anyone has been able to locate.
"This is essentially Hitler's 'suicide note'.
"In it, he tries to portray himself as a valiant leader of his men until the end, when in actuality he shuffled into his bedroom and fired a bullet into his head."
In his last will and testament, Hitler promoted Schörner to commander-in-chief of the German army, succeeding himself.
Six days after signing the letter, Hitler killed himself.
Schörner would later abandon his post and flee to Austria, where he was arrested by American forces.
- Adolf Hitler
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