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A Dance in the Bunker, from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

This is from William Shirer’s 1960 The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany, as quoted by Randall McElroy at The Distributed Republic (2007-09-30)

Evening had now come, the last of Adolf Hitler’s life. He instructed Frau Junge, one of his secretaries, to destroy the remaining papers in his files and he sent out word that no one in the bunker was to go to bed until further orders. This was interpreted by all as meaning that he judged the time had come to make his farewells. But it was not until long after midnight, at about 2:30 A.M. of April 30, as several witnesses recall, that the Fuehrer emerged from his private quarters and appeared in the general dining passage, where some twenty persons, mostly the women members of his entourage, were assembled. He walked down the line shaking hands with each and mumbling a few words that were inaudible. There was a heavy film of moisture on his eyes and, as Frau Junge remembered, they seemed to be looking far away, beyond the walls of the bunker.

After he retired, a curious thing happened. The tension broke which had been building up to an almost unendurable point in the bunker broke, and several persons went to the canteen—to dance. The weird party soon became so noisy that word was sent from the Fuehrer’s quarters requesting more quiet. The Russians might come in a few hours and kill them all—though most of them were already thinking of how they could escape—but in the meantime for a brief spell, now that the Fuehrer’s strict control of their lives was over, they would seek pleasure where and how they could find it. The sense of relief among these people seems to have been enormous and they danced on through the night.

–William Shirer (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a History of Nazi Germany, p. 1132.

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