Traudl Junge - Hitler's last secretary

TRAUDL JUNGE BIOGRAPHY:
Junge (March 16, 1920 to February 11, 2002) was Adolf Hitler’s private secretary in the final years of World War 2.  
She was by Hitler’s side through the Nazi leader’s darkest days - from defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad, the “Valkyrie” assassination attempt and finally the fall of Berlin and Hitler’s suicide.

Where did she come from?

traudl-junge-color Gertraud "Traudl" Junge was born in Munich.

Junge was born Gertraud Humps in Munich to an unemployed beer brewer, Max Humps and wife Hildegard, a general’s daughter. 
Max joined a right-wing extremist group and moved to Turkey when th girl nicknamed “Traudl” was five years old. 

From then on Junge and her younger sister Inge were raised in the home of grandfather, General Maximillian Zottmann.  Junge later described him as “pedantic, disciplinary and orderly”.
The sisters developed a passion for dancing and Junge dreamt of becoming a ballerina.
But it was Inge who realised the dream, becoming a dancer at the Deutsche Theater in Berlin during the early years of the war. It was with help from her sister and Nazi official Albert Bormann that Junge landed the position on Hitler’s staff.

Working with Hitler

Junge described Hitler as a kindly and paternal figure who she very much wanted to please.  She worked at the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, the “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters in East Prussia and accompanied Hitler when visiting Mussolini in northern Italy.

I did find it exciting.  I didn’t know what had happened to me, suddenly there I was, little Traudl Humps, sitting
opposite the Führer.
“I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler. He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend.”
Traudl Junge, 2002.

In 1943 Traudi married one of Hitler’s aides, SS officer Hans Hermann Junge. He was killed a year later when a Royal Air Force plane strafed his company in Normandy. 
Hitler broke the news of her husband’s death to Traudi personally.

Assassination attempt

Junge was in another part of the Wolf’s Lair complex during the 1944 Claus von Stauffenberg attempt to assassinate Hitler.  She remembered seeing Hitler after the bomb exploded and recalled how the incident strengthened his resolve.

We made our way to the Fuhrer’s bunker and he was standing in the anteroom.  He looked so funny that we almost burst out laughing. His hair was standing on end, his trousers were hanging in tatters, but he greeted us with an almost triumphant smile and said, ‘I have been saved. Destiny has chosen me, providence has preserved me.  It is a sign that I must see my mission through to the end.  Those cowards were too scared to open fire and risk their own lives, they planed a bomb’.
He was raging and cursing and he thought the construction squad that had just built the barracks might have hidden a bomb in the floor of the building.
“...At the time we were very relieved because, after all, we had been spared a huge change that would have affected us in ways we could hardly imagine.
 “...The incident made him feel even more certain he was on the right path.  I have often wondered whether it might have been possible before then, when the situation wasn’t so absolutely terrible, for him to say, ‘I can’t win the war’. Perhaps he would have said at some point, ‘I have to make peace.’  But after the attack any hope of that was completely in vain.”
-Traudl Junge on the assassination attempt and Hitler's reaction

The end of the line

jungeTraudl and Hans Junge show their wedding photographs
to Johanna Wolf. (photo: Walter Frentz)

Junge joined Hitler’s staff when they moved to a bunker under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin in January 1945, the dying days of the war in Europe. She said this was a “terrible time”. “We were all in a state of shock, like machines,” she said.
Junge witnessed Hitler’s wedding to Eva Braun on April 28, after which he dictated his final will and testament to her.
Hitler and Braun committed suicide on April 30 (they both took cyanide capsules, and Hitler shot himself at the same time). Junge was sitting in a room next door with the children of Joseph Goebbels when it happened:

Suddenly (...) there is the sound of a shot, so loud, so close, that we all fall silent. It echoes on through all the rooms. ‘That was a direct hit,’ cried Helmut (Goebbels) with no idea how right he is. The Führer is dead now.
“I am frozen and scarcely know what’s going on around me.  Only when Eva Braun comes over to me is the spell broken a little.
‘Please do try to get out.  You may yet make your way through.  And give Bavaria my love,’ she says, smiling but with a sob in her voice.  She is wearing the Führer’s favourite dress, the black one with the roses at the neckline, and her hair is washed and beautifully done.  Like that, she follows the Führer into his room – and to her death.  The heavy iron door closes.”
- Traudl Junge, from
Until the Final Hour, 2002

hitler-secretary A photo for Junge's
new identity card
in 1945 .

Junge fled the bunker after Hitler’s suicide and lived for a week under the alias “Gerda Alt”, trying to get out of Berlin.  She was arrested and interrogated by the Soviets and released in December 1945. 

Junge made her way from the Soviet-controlled sector to her native Bavaria, which at the time was controlled by the Americans.  After facing another interrogation she was allowed to integrate into postwar Germany.

After the war

Junge drifted into obscurity, working as a secretary and later a science reporter.  Her sister Inge had moved to Australia and Junge quietly lived there for several years in the 1970s and 1980s. 
Traudi sought permanent Australian residency but was refused because of her once-close ties with the Nazi party.  “She loved Australia and the people,” Inge said.
Junge died in a Munich hospital of cancer, aged 81.

Traudi Junge in the media

Junge contributed to a couple of books and documentaries about the war, but her story only became well-known in the final months of her life. She appeared in the 1974 TV documentary The World at War and her memoirs were published in the book Voices from the Bunker in 1989.
Junge’s autobiography, co-written by Melissa Müller, was published in 2002 as Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary.  Soon afterwards came a documentary film based on interviews with Junge called Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary.  The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival literally a couple of hours before her death.
At least five actors have played the role of Traudi Junge in film and television, most memorably Alexandra Maria Lara in the 2004 film Downfall (Der Untergang).
Junge was contrasted to resistance member Sophie Scholl in an online comic called The Line.

traudl junge downfallGerman actor Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge in Downfall.

In the “Blind Spot”

Though Junge was constantly around Nazi leaders while millions were being slaughtered in German death camps, she claims to have been kept in the dark about the Holocaust. “I thought I would be at the source of all information. But I was really in a blind spot,” she said.
Junge insisted that Hitler “practically never mentioned the word Jew” in her presence, but admits that she probably knew so little about the persecution simply because she didn’t want to know. 

We all knew about his hatred for the Jews but I think nobody took it seriously enough.
“In Hitler’s circle nobody was informed about anything of what happened to the Jews officially. 
“Maybe, I must admit that, (…) if anybody of us would have insisted and tried to find out, there would have been a possibility to find out more about it.  But I think we were cowards and we were not heroes enough (…) to look for better information.”
- Junge in a television interview (see video above).

Junge said she only started to feel guilty about working for Hitler after the war finished. “The older I get, the more I feel this burden, this feeling of guilt because I worked for a man and I actually liked him, but he caused such terrible suffering,” she said.
But Junge’s claims were scored by some including Efraim Zuroff, a director at the Israel office of Holocaust museum the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
“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,” Zuroff told the Guardian newspaper.

More Traudl Junge quotes

- Traudl Junge on her reaction to seeing a memorial to Sophie Scholl, a leader of German resistance group die Weiße Rose “The White Rose” (from Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary):
“Of course, the terrible things I heard from the Nuremberg Trials, about the six million Jews and the people from other races who were killed, were facts that shocked me deeply. But I wasn't able to see the connection with my own past.
“I was satisfied that I wasn't personally to blame and that I hadn't known about those things. I wasn't aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl in Franz Josef Strasse, and I saw that she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler.
“And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young, and that it would have been possible to find things out.”

- Traudl Junge on her mixed emotions about working for Hitler (from Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary):
“Our total collapse, the refugees, the suffering – of course I held Hitler responsible for that.  His testament, his suicide, that was when I began to hate him.  At the same tie I felt great pity, even for him.  But when your love for someone, say your partner in marriage, turns to hate, you usually try to preserve the memories of the happy times you first knew. 
“I suppose my relationship with Hitler was something like that.  He didn’t exert any erotic influence over me, but of course I wanted him to like me.  He was a kindly paternal figure, he game me a feeling of security, solicitude, for me, safety. 
“I felt protected there in the Führer headquarters in the middle of that forest, in that community, with that “father figure”. 
“I can still look back to that time with warm emotions.  I never again felt that I belonged anywhere in just the same way”.

- Traudl Junge on hearing about the German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad (from Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary):
“That evening Hitler seemed a tired old man.  I don’t remember what we talked about, but a dismal image has stayed in my memory, rather like visiting a bleak graveyard in the November rain.”

Written by C. Anderson, 2011. Last updated 2011.

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Traudl Junge biography references

•  Until the final hour: Hitler's last secretary, 2002, Traudi Junge, Melissa Müller (partly available to read online at Google Books here.

•  Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary, (2002) documentary film

•  Downfall (film), 2004

•  Obituary in The Guardian

•  Hitler's final witness, BBC, 2002

•  wikipedia.org

•  wikiquote

•  The Age article

•  The Line

Traudl Junge photo sources

•   Traudl Junge photo: colored by GuddiPoland

•   Traudl Junge 1945, with Hans Junge: Until the Final Hour

•   Alexandra Maria Lara as Junge pic Constantin Film

Unless otherwise stated, all photos used on the page Traudl Junge are, to our knowledge, in the public domain. If you think otherwise, please let us know.