Posted on September 15th, 2016 by:

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Rumor Goebbels Deserted As Defense Chief Adds to Fear

From the April 23, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

Thousands of panic-stricken German men, women and children fled northwest and west from embattled Berlin yesterday, according to Stockholm reports, while a rumor that Josef Goebbels, defense chief of the capital, had fled nullified the effect of posters appealing for last-ditch resistance, the United Press said.

Before the rumor of his alleged flight spread through the city, Goebbels had delivered a speech making every Berliner “responsible for his house or apartment,” Reuter said. Goebbels had demanded stern measures against slackers, saying that those “hoisting white flags of showing a cowardly attitude…must be severely dealt with at all costs.”


Old men are taught how to use the Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon in preparation for the Soviet attack on Berlin

Pledges to Stay in City


Women wash their clothes on a Berlin street near a destroyed German half track in July 1945 during the Allied occupation of Germany

He pledged that he would remain in the city, together with his wife and children, and sought to reassure the Berliners by telling them that “considerable defense works have been built in the capital in the last few weeks,” Reuters said.

A Berlin correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Morgentidningen, the UP said, described the city as being filled with fear. “I saw scenes so horrible that they cannot be printed,” this correspondent wrote. “Hysterical wild men and women squeezed wounded soldiers out of subway trains while Russian slave workers fled from SS guards.”



Pure Panic Reported

The Associated Press said that Swedish correspondents reported “pure panic, while one fantastic rumor followed another.” It was reported that the building housing the Voelkscher Deobachter, Hitler’s newspaper, had burned to the ground Friday night, possibly as a result of sabotage, although the German official report attributed it to a worker’s carelessness.

Telephone service between Berlin and Stockholm was cut at 0650 yesterday morning, according to the Swedish newspaper Expressen, Reuters said.

No Food to be Found

In Stockholm, the so-called Free German Press Bureau, after interviewing travelers returning from Berlin, said that “not even the slightest indication of a normal civil administration exits in Berlin,” the UP said.

“You can see black marketeers offer rationing cards openly on the streets without any interference but also without customers.” This bureau quoted on traveler as saying “Ration cards are plentiful but food is so scarce that one can visit 21 shops before getting a single potato. I have seen no organized anti-Nazi riots but robberies of shops and warehouses are a daily routine.”

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