|Birth date||24 September 1917|
|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|
|Years of service||1933–1945|
|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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
He was imprisoned in Moscow and Bautzen in East Germany and released on 2 May 1956. 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".
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."
Portrayal in the media
- SS-Untersturmführer: 21 June 1942
- SS-Obersturmführer: 20 April 1943
- SS-Hauptsturmführer: 20 April 1944
- SS-Sturmbannführer: 21 December 1944
Awards and decorations
- Deutsche Olympia-Erinnerungsmedaille, 1936
- SS Honour Chevron (SS-Ehrenwinkel)
- Sudetenland Medal with the Prague Castle Bar (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938 mit Spange „Prager Burg“)
- West Wall Medal (Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen)
- Homecoming of Memel Commemorative Medal (Medaille zur Erinnerung an die Heimkehr des Memellandes)
- Iron Cross (1939), 2nd and 1st Class
- 1st Class in December 1943
- Infantry Assault Badge (Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen) in Bronze
- Wound Badge (1939) in Black and Silver
- Goldenes HJ-Ehrenzeichen
- Iron Cross 1st Class
- War Merit Cross (1939), 2nd Class with Swords
- Wound Badge of 20 July 1944 (Verwundeten-Abzeichen „20. Juli 1944“) in Black on 20 July 1944 as SS-Hauptsturmführer
- (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  (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  (2001). The Bunker. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3.