Last living witness

Erna Flegal was Hitler’s nurse and survived the last days in the Berlin bunker as the 1000-year Nazi reign crumbled. She’s never spoken publicly about her experiences, until now.

On Hitler: “His authority was extraordinary. He was always polite and charming. There was really nothing to object to.”

On Magda Goebbels: “She was a brilliant woman, on a far higher level than most people. I wanted her to take at least one or two of them [her children] out of the city. But Mrs Goebbels simply said, ‘I belong to my husband. And the children belong to me.'”

On Eva Braun: “Oh dear God. She didn’t have any importance. Nobody expected much of her. She was just a young girl, really. She wasn’t really his wife.”

On her attitude to Nazism and her role in it: “After 1945 people started pointing fingers at each other. A great many people didn’t say anything. Later it was still a source of controversy. I didn’t discuss it.”

This interview emerges as the powerful Downfall is screening across Australia – “They got a few small details wrong. But generally it was correct,” Flegal said. “I even recognised myself as a nursing sister” – and reminds us of the importance of revealing the cogs in the wheels of movements such as Nazism. Without many of these individuals, 20th century history could have been radically different.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common