Hitler's Secretary Traudl Junge Dies
Feb. 13, 2002
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BERLIN (AP) _ Traudl Junge, who was one of Adolf Hitler's secretaries and took his last will and testament, has died, just hours after a documentary on her life premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. She was 81.
She died of cancer overnight Sunday in a Munich hospital, festival spokeswoman Silke Lehmann said Wednesday.
Junge was born Gertraud Humps in Munich in 1920. She applied for a secretarial job in the Reich Chancellery in 1942, and became one of the Nazi dictator's personal secretaries that December _ just as World War II was turning against Germany.
In 1943, she married Hitler aide Hans Junge, who was killed a year later when a British plane strafed his company in Normandy, France.
Junge joined Hitler and his staff when they moved into an underground bunker in Berlin in January 1945. As the end neared in April 1945, Junge remembers increasingly ghostly scenes in the bunker.
That period is a focus of ``Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary,'' a 90-minute documentary that represents the first time Junge spoke at length on film about her experiences.
She recalled Hitler sitting for long periods of time just staring into the distance. Meals were no longer served regularly, and people even began to smoke in the Fuehrer's presence.
``Everything took place so unceremoniously,'' Junge said. ``It was a terrible time. I can't really remember my feelings. We were all in a state of shock, like machines. It was an eerie atmosphere.''
More controversially, she insisted that Hitler and other Nazi leaders ``practically never mentioned the word Jew'' in her presence _ even though it was during the time she served Hitler that most of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust died.
She said she only found out about the Holocaust after the war, and then felt wracked with guilt for having liked ``the greatest criminal who ever lived.''
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Nazi watchdog group, reacted sharply to Junge's statements after the film by Austrian director Andre Heller was screened in Berlin.
``Her story reflects the blind loyalty of far too many Germans whose allegiance to Hitler and the Nazi party enabled the implementation of the final solution,'' said Efraim Zuroff, director of the center's office in Israel.
On April 28, 1945, two days before Hitler and his longtime mistress Eva Braun committed suicide, the Fuehrer summoned Junge and dictated his will.
After the war, Junge was taken into custody by the Red Army, then the Americans. After being interrogated she was eventually released. She continued to work in Germany as a secretary, and later as an editor and journalist.
Heller, who culled the footage from 10 hours of interviews at Junge's tidy one-room apartment in Munich, said she agreed to speak with him because she knew she did not have long to live.
Heller said she told him: ``I have finally let go of my story. Now I feel the world is letting go of me.''