Trevor-Roper, Hugh. The Last Days of Hitler. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1992. Reviewed by Frank Tommasini
Shortly after the end of WWII, British Intelligence officer Hugh Trevor-Roper was given the task to establish the facts of Hitler's end, and thereby to prevent the growth of a myth. His report, later published as “The Last Days of Hitler”, draws on Allied intelligence's interrogations of survivors who spent time in the bunker during the last ten days of Hitler's life. Trevor-Roper organizes his book chronologically, but it's more a series of character sketches than a strict time line of events. We see a raving, physically broken, nearly insane Hitler contemplating both his heroic death and the complete and intentional destruction of his Reich, while his "flatulent clowns" (as Trevor-Roper calls them), even at this late date scramble to betray their leader, and one another, in their quest for power. Remarkably, each of these "flatulent clowns" considers himself entirely fit to govern a new Germany and expects to retain power after surrendering to the Allies. But his report- cutting, detailed, and well supported- effectively stifles any thought of a popular revival of Nazism. Since Nazi officials had burned Adolf Hitler's body and disposed of the remains at an unknown site just before the Russians took Berlin, it was important to present other evidence of Hitler's demise. In spite of announcements that Hitler was dead, there were widespread fears and some hopes that he was still alive. Drawing upon interrogations he and other officials conducted, Trevor-Roper clearly described how Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun came to commit suicide on April 30, 1945, in a private room of his fortified underground bunker in Berlin. Trevor-Roper also showed how Hitler's last days were the culmination of growing dissolution of the Nazi regime in the last years of the war, with administrative chaos and bitter personal animosities among top Nazi...
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