Archive for April 20th, 2009

April of 1945 was not a good time to be vacationing anywhere in Germany.  In fact, being German and living in Germany at that time was just about the worst thing ever.  They were being bombed mercilessly, shelled incessantly, and shot at constantly by the Russian army.  For those that think Alexander’s day was terrible, horrible, no-good, and very bad (see the recommended reading below), these days were way worse.  It wasn’t safe to be outside in Berlin…almost.

On April 20, 1945, the city of Leipzig, less than 100 miles from Berlin, had just fallen to the U.S. 69th Infantry Division.  And the Russians were deep inside Berlin itself, pounding away.  It was at this time that German dictator Adolf Hitler chose to make his last “public” appearance above ground.  And while it was Der Fuhrer’s birthday, there was no cake, no noise-makers (well, there was plenty of noise), and no candles (there was plenty of fire however).  With the din of gunfire and artillery playing the part of “singing Happy Birthday”, the now pale and weakened head-of-state gave gifts rather than receiving them, handing out Iron Crosses to a group of Hitler Youth.  The German army had been attrited to the point of conscripting the very young and the very old to fight the dying Reich’s final battles.

And then Hitler was gone, back to the subterranean Fuhrerbunker, where he had been for some time.  He would not be seen in public again, unless by chance someone happened to be around the following week when his dead body was carried out and burned.

Recommended Reading: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – Yep…you knew it was coming. Get this for your kids, read it once yourself, and familiarize yourself with Australia, because they’re going to ask.

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