Night and day morphed into one. With their demise imminent, no one in the Führerbunker felt compelled to sleep away what little time they had left. The doomed men and women drank the never-ending day away and spent countless sleep-deprived hours discussing the various methods of suicide. They lived in a fantasy world, growing detached from the ugly reality of the war as it encroached. The subject of religion came up once in a while, but given the crimes they had all committed in the name of National Socialism, they felt very far away from God.
Then, in the early hours of 30 April 1945, Adolf Hitler unexpectedly called a staff meeting. The glum generals and advisors reluctantly entered the situation room. And they were stunned by what they saw.
Adolf Hitler was in a tuxedo. His wife Eva Braun wore a beautiful red Italian designer gown. The map table was covered with a white linen tablecloth. Bohemian crystal chalices were filled with forty-year old French Bordeaux, and perfectly cooked Sauerbraten was set out on fine china. By all accounts, it was an incredible sight.
The men hadn’t seen real food in weeks. Their mouths watered at the sight of the roast beef marinated in burgundy wine, vinegar and spices, exquisitely complimented by potato pancakes, applesauce, and red cabbage. With the Russians moving closer with each tick of the clock, fine dining was the last thing they expected.
General Krebs laughed out loud. “You’ve outdone yourself, mein Führer. This is fantastic.”
Hitler acknowledged the compliment with a nod and motioned for everyone to sit. As his guests dove into their food, the Führer noticed that Artur Axmann’s seat was empty. “Where’s Axmann?”
No one answered the question. After a few moments of very uncomfortable silence, Goebbels spoke up. “I haven’t seen him in a few hours. Maybe he left.”
Hitler pondered that for a minute. “Do you really think it is possible that Artur has surrendered to the Russians or fled from Berlin?”
“Yes,” Goebbels replied. “I think so.”
The room got quiet. Hitler suddenly pointed across the table, right at General Krebs. “Hans!” he shouted.
Everyone froze. General Krebs was terrified.
“Can you please pass the applesauce? It’s quite tasty,” Hitler said, rather nonchalantly.
Krebs nearly choked. Hitler’s casual request for a side dish was no less surprising to his guests than if he had attacked them with a flamethrower and a pack of rabid ferrets.
For the next thirty-five minutes, Adolf Hitler dined with his generals for the last time. The men enjoyed the food, but they kept a close eye on Hitler as they ate, fearful of what might happen next in the bizarre culinary episode.
When everyone had finished eating, Hitler addressed the group again. “By the lack of food on your plates, I can tell that you enjoyed your meal. That makes me happy. Very, very happy. Now, I would like to tell you a very interesting story about the delicious food that you just ate.”
General Krebs spit a mouthful of roast beef into his napkin and turned white. Holy Christ. Hitler just poisoned everybody.
“This luxurious meal was expensive. In fact, it cost us twenty-one of our finest soldiers. Seventeen of them were killed on the assault on the wine cellar alone. You have no idea how hard it is to find a good Bordeaux right now.”
The men were incredulous. Hitler hadn’t poisoned anyone. He paid for their food with German lives.
You sent men on a suicide mission so we could have a nice goddamn meal? Wouldn’t it have been faster to drink their blood? General Krebs desperately wished that he were brave enough to say those words out loud.
“I believe the price was worth it. Don’t you agree, Joseph?” Hitler asked.
“Ja,” Goebbels replied, his mouth full of food.
General Weidling stared at his knife and wondered if he could jump across the table and stab Hitler in the heart before the SS guards could stop him. Probably not.
Hitler’s surreal monologue continued. “I sent those brave men on a mission to gather this food and drink for an extraordinarily special occasion. After more than five years—and just when all hope seems lost—we’re about to win the war. We’re having dinner together to celebrate the imminent victory of the Third Reich. Isn’t that wonderful?”
The room fell silent. General Weidling dropped his fork onto his plate, splashing gravy onto his tunic. With the exception of Goebbels—who had a smirk on his face—everyone looked at Hitler with a mixture of dismay and fear. They weren’t sure if the collective mind fuck was a macabre practical joke or if the Führer had just lost his marbles. Or both.
“By the looks on your faces, I can see that most of you think I’m crazy. You don’t think it’s possible to win the war at this late date, do you?”
Even with the Red Army closing in and Berlin in ruins, his guests didn’t want to answer the question honestly. They feared sending the Führer into another blind rage.
Adolf Hitler noticed his guests squirm and took immense pleasure in their discomfort. “Perhaps you find it odd that a leader holed up in a bunker that is surrounded by hordes of Asiatic barbarians would still talk about Final Victory.” Hitler laughed out loud, but no one else got the joke.
General Weidling’s thin smile betrayed his incredulity. What the hell is this circus? Send in the goddamn clowns. Oh wait, they’re already here.
Suddenly, Hitler got very animated and happy. “Germany will win the war!” he shouted. “I can tell you this with mathematical certainty because I have … a supernatural weapon!”
Eva Braun clapped and whistled. Everybody else just sat there.
The Führer stood up. He leaned over, put his hands on the table and shouted at his dinner guests.
“When Operation Tristan is launched, we will destroy the Soviet Red Army within three days! I’m going to kick Stalin out of an airplane into the Black Sea! Then, we’ll take care of the rest of the Jews, the French, the Poles, the Russians, the English, the Chinese, the Arabs, the Japanese, and most of the fucking Norwegians! Next on the list, the lawyers, the intellectuals, the communists, the mentally and physically deficient, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Anarchists, Africans, Americans, South Americans, homosexuals, heterosexuals, blind people, and all of those assholes who teach at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. And then maybe we’ll kill some more fucking Norwegians! We’re going to kill EVERYONE!”
“Everyone!” Eva Braun repeated.
General Krebs put his head in his hands and sighed. Hitler’s mental capacities were obviously limited at this point. “Mein Führer, I apologize for pointing this out. But, we are allies with the Empire of Japan.”
Hitler didn’t back down. “We’re going to kill EVERYONE.” Then he pounded on the table for emphasis. Twenty-seven times. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!
Hitler sat down, took a drink of tea, and became strangely calm. “Unfortunately, there has been a change in the strategic situation. Operation Tristan must now be launched from Prague Castle. I hope you understand.”
Prague Castle? Now his generals were truly perplexed. Czechoslovakia would fall to Soviet forces and Czech partisans within days. Any military forces in Prague could not possibly get to Berlin in time to make a difference in the battle for the city. Are we fighting the same war?
“Don’t worry. We’ll be safe here until it’s time to launch Operation Tristan. The Allies don’t have a bomb big enough to take out this bunker.” Hitler looked up. “God himself doesn’t have a bomb big enough to take out this bunker!”
Suddenly, there was a thunderous rumble. The floor shook violently and Hitler was knocked down. The lights flickered as Goebbels and General Krebs helped the Führer to his feet.
Eva Braun wiped food off of her evil husband’s tuxedo and wondered if there was anything left of the Reich Chancellery above them. Hitler took her hand. “Final Victory is upon us,” he said. “We are going to win this war …”
If the Führer noticed his guests staring at him in complete and utter disbelief, he didn’t show it. He was lost in thought. For years, Adolf Hitler had known this was exactly how the Second World War was going to end.
And he looked forward to it with every fiber of his cursed existence…