The Pittsburgh Press (November 18, 1944)
London hears Der Führer is still alive but failing rapidly; protected by wall of silence
London, England (UP) –
Adolf Hitler was reported still alive but in rapidly failing mental and physical health at Berchtesgaden today, kept from insanity only by a fantastic stream of false news reports telling of Nazi military “victories” and imaginary demonstrations of loyalty to the Führer by the German people.
Stockholm press reports said Heinrich Himmler, Gestapo chief and commander of the German Home Army, had issued an order strictly forbidding the Germans to discuss Hitler’s health, according to the FCC.
The Exchange Telegraph, quoting information just received from a neutral capital, said the Nazi Party chieftains had erected an elaborate wall of silence around Hitler to prevent his learning the actual extent of the military reverses suffered by Germany since midsummer.
On advice of Hitler’s physicians, a special news staff was said to have been set up at Berchtesgaden under the personal supervision of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Himmler’s righthand man and chief of the Reich Security Office, to edit a special “Good News” edition of the Völkischer Beobachter.
Printed daily, the Berchtesgaden edition of Hitler’s favorite newspaper was reported to contain only the most favorable “news” from the fighting fronts and carefully-doctored stories picturing the German people as fanatically loyal to their Führer.
The Exchange Telegraph account said Hitler had been more or less confined to his mountain hideaway at Berchtesgaden since the attempt on his life last July 20, and that the Nazi Party leaders were becoming increasingly alarmed over his condition.
Any bad news was said to cause a severe nervous reaction in the Führer, varying from hallucinations to outbursts of maniacal rage.
At the same time, Swiss dispatches said Nazi authorities had ordered censorship of all domestic mail in Germany, presumably in an effort to prevent the spread of unrest stirred by the military reverses in the west and Hitler’s continued silence.
Local Nazi Party organizations have been assigned the task of censoring letters circulating within the country, an Exchange Telegraph dispatch from Zürich said.
Evidence continued to pile up that Himmler had succeeded Hitler as Acting Führer of Germany. This theory has been accepted even by German soldiers and officers captured in recent days by the U.S. 9th Army inside the Reich, a pooled dispatch from the front said.
So far as the Army was concerned, officers told their captors, Hitler has relinquished control to the high command.
Food situation worse
Zürich reports asserted the food situation was becoming more acute inside Germany. Leipzig and other Saxony towns were said to have been without potatoes for 10 days because of transport difficulties.
Railroad authorities in Berlin acknowledged that there was a critical shortage of locomotives, Zürich said.
The Exchange Telegraph Agency also quoted a Swedish nurse who has just returned to Malmö after six years in Berlin as saying that conditions in the German capital were “worse than anybody outside Germany can conceive.”
She said fresh reductions in food rations were expected, with butter disappearing entirely for civilians. The staple German diet was described as bread and potatoes and she believed the political situation would become critical if potatoes disappeared altogether.