Third Reich

Photo of the Day

The remains of Hitler’s bunker. Photo Getty Images.

Adolf Hitler?s Last Days

At one time, Adolf Hitler was the most powerful individual in the world. Yet he ended his life cowering in a foetid bunker, surrounded by enemy troops and raging against those he believed had betrayed him. Hitler’s last days were a humiliating final chapter in the life of a man once revered by millions. But they were also the last days of a man who had been mentally and physically unravelling for months.

By April 1945, Hitler’s health was deteriorating fast. His left arm often shook, his skin was sallow and his face was puffy. An assassination attempt in 1944 had damaged his eardrums. Witnesses reported that his eyes were often filmed over. He suffered from intense stomach cramps at moments of crisis. He was taking Benzedrine and cocaine-laced eye drops to get him through the day and barbiturates to help him sleep at night. His diet cannot have helped his situation. A committed vegetarian and paranoid about being poisoned, he was only eating mashed potatoes and thin soup by the end.

In late April 1945, chaos reigned in Berlin. Years of war had turned former superpower Germany into a battleground, and its cities from strongholds into places under siege.?The Red Army had completely circled the city, which now called on elderly men, police, and even children to defend it. But though a battle raged on in the streets, the war was already lost. Adolf Hitler?s time was almost up.

Despite the hopeless situation, he was now in, visitors to the bunker were amazed that Hitler was still able to work himself up into a megalomaniacal frenzy in which Berlin would be saved and the Nazi dream fulfilled.

While in one of these moods, Hitler would pore over maps, moving buttons to represent military units. In truth, the divisions he imagined himself to be directing were broken remnants. What was left of Berlin was defended by old men and teenagers hurriedly conscripted from the Hitler Youth.

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Photo Of The Day

Image sources: The House Under the Wacky Star, National Digital Archive, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Warsaw Zoological Garden.

Image sources: The House Under the Wacky Star, National Digital Archive, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Warsaw Zoological Garden.

The House Under A Whacky Star

Jews in hiding at the Warsaw ZOO

Refuge, haven, ark ? that is how those who had survived the Second World War owing to the ?abi?ski family?s help referred to the Warsaw ZOO.

It was World War II, Warsaw was under German occupation, and the wife of the director of the Warsaw zoo spotted Nazis approaching the white stucco villa that she and her family inhabited on the zoo grounds.

According to plan, she went straight to her piano and began to play a lively tune from an operetta by Jacques Offenbach, a signal to Jews being sheltered in the house that they should be quiet and not leave their hiding places.

That scenario, repeated over years of war, was one of the tricks that allowed Jan and Antonina ?abi?ski to save the lives of many Jews, a dramatic chapter in Poland?s wartime drama. The ?abi?skis? remarkable wartime actions included hiding Jews in indoor animal enclosures.

The ?abi?skis saved hundreds of Jews during World War II by hiding them in animal cages in the Warsaw zoo and sheltering them in their home.

Many cages in the zoo had been emptied of animals during the Germans’ September 1939 bombing campaign on Warsaw, and zoo director Jan ?abi?ski used them as hiding places for fleeing Jews. Over the course of three years, many Jews found temporary shelter in these abandoned animal cells, located on the eastern bank of the Vistula River, until they were able to relocate to places of refuge elsewhere. In addition, the ?abi?skis sheltered Jews in their two-story private home on the zoo’s grounds.

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