Otto Günsche

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Otto Günsche
Birth date 24 September 1917(1917-09-24)
Place of birth Jena, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Death date 2 October 2003 (aged 86)
Place of death Lohmar, North Rhine-Westphalia
Allegiance  National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.png SS
Years of service 1933–1945
Rank SS-Sturmbannführer
Battles/wars World War II

Otto Günsche (b. 24 September 1917 in Jena, Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, German Empire; d. 2 October 2003 Lohmar, Germany) was a SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) in the Waffen-SS and a member of 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler before he became Adolf Hitler's personal adjutant. He was captured by soldiers of the Red Army on 2 May 1945. After various prisons and labor camps in the USSR, he was released from Bautzen Penitentiary on 2 May 1956.[1]

Otto Günsche II.JPG


Otto Günsche and Sepp Dietrich (middle)
Otto Günsche III.jpg
From left to right: Max Wünsche, Gerda "Dara" Christian (née Daranowski)[2] and Otto Günsche

Early life

Günsche was born in Jena in what is today Thuringia. After leaving secondary school at 16 he volunteered for the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and joined the National socialist Party. He first met Adolf Hitler in 1936.


He was Hitler's SS ordnance officer from 1940 to 1941. He then had front-line combat service until January 1943 when Günsche became a personal adjutant for Hitler. In 1944, Günsche fought on the eastern front and then in France until March 1944 when he again was appointed a personal adjutant for Hitler.[3] He was present at the 20 July 1944 attempt to kill Hitler at the Wolf's Lair in Rastenburg. The bomb explosion burst Günsche's eardrums and caused him to receive a number of contusions.[4]


As the end of the Third Reich became imminent, Günsche was tasked by Hitler with ensuring the cremation of his body after his death on 30 April 1945. He stood guard outside the room as Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.[5] Having ensured that the bodies were burnt using fuel supplied by Hitler's chauffeur Erich Kempka, Günsche left the Führerbunker after midnight on 1 May. He was captured by Soviet troops encircling the city on 2 May 1945 and flown to Moscow for interrogation by the NKVD.[1]

He was imprisoned in Moscow and Bautzen in East Germany and released on 2 May 1956.[1] During the imprisonment, Günsche and Heinz Linge were supposedly primary sources for Operation Myth, a biography on Hitler that was prepared for Joseph Stalin by the Soviet NKVD. A stated translation of the report was published in book form in 2005 under the title The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides. It supposedly includes Holocaust testimonial evidence that "shows for the first time that Hitler was intimately involved".[6]

David Irving has criticized this, writing that he examined the report already in the 1960s and had corresponded with both Günsche and Linge.

"I also interviewed Günsche closely on Hitler's knowledge of the massacres. His statements to me were negative -- Hitler had known nothing, had not been involved, there had never been any discussion of this sort of thing at Hitler's headquarters. But then of course I did not beat and torture him, I merely questioned him as any real historian should."[6]


Günsche died of heart failure at his home in Lohmar, North Rhine-Westphalia in 2003. He had three children, including a son named Kai.

Portrayal in the media

  • In the 2004 German film "Downfall" (Der Untergang), Otto Günsche is portrayed by Götz Otto (de).



Awards and decorations

Further reading

  • (2005) The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-366-1. 
  • Hamilton, Charles (1984). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 1. R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 0-912138-27-0. 
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton [1995] (1999). The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth, Trans. Helmut Bögler, London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8. 
  • Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-06757-2. 
  • O'Donnell, James [1978] (2001). The Bunker. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 281.
  2. Gerda was also a personal secretary of Adolf Hitler and the wife of Eckhard Christian.
  3. Hamilton 1984, p. 149.
  4. Hamilton 1984, p. 148.
  5. Kershaw 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hitler planned Holocaust - report