I was Hitler's Chauffeur, Erich Kempka

I was Hitler's Chauffeur, Erich Kempka

Erich Kempka worked as one of Adolf Hitler's chauffeurs from 1932, taking part in the last election campaigns before the Nazis came to power, before becoming Hitler's main chauffeur in 1936. He remained close to Hitler from then until the end of the war, eventually escaping from the Berlin Bunker after Hitler's death.

Although Kempka worked closely with Hitler from 1932, the bulk of this account focuses on the last months of the war, as the Allies closed in on Berlin and the Third Reich began to fall apart.

Kempha's memoirs are of value in two areas - for his account of the final days in the Berlin bunker and for his views on some of the most powerful men in the Third Reich, as seen from a position close to Hitler.

Kempha's memoirs are now known to be more accurate than was once believed. His account of the death of Bormann in Berlin in the last days of the war was discounted for a very long time, but DNA evidence suggests that it was in fact true.

Some of his judgements now look ridiculous, amongst them the idea that Bormann's influence was the 'saddest chapter in the history of the Reich'. He was understandably keen to present himself as a simple non-political driver, a technician who by chance found himself at the heart of power, but we should remember than he joined the Nazi part in 1930, well before becoming Hitler's driver, and three years before the Nazi party came to power, and was thus a committed Nazi.

The book concludes with a series of appendices originally produced for a 1975 issue of the book by Erich Kern, a former member of the SS and right-wing extremist. Moorhouse has removed most of this text, but left in some sections said to provide some context to Kempha's account. Even these extracts present a distorted view of events, and the book would have been much better without them.

Despite this flaw this is a very valuable memoir, giving us a insider view of Hitler's closest circles, and providing an invaluable account of the final months of the war as seen from the bunker.

Chapters
1 - Hitler Employs Me
2 - Thirteen Years in Hitler's Personal Service
3 - On the Berghof
4 - Professor Dr Theodor Morell
5 - Martin Bormann
6 - Signs of Disquiet
7 - In the Fuhrer-Bunker in Berlin
8 - The End Approaches
9 - The Death of Adolf Hitler
10 - After the Burning
11 - My Escape from Berlin

Appendices
1 - In the Bunker for the Last Battle
2 - The Break-out from the Citadel
3 - Christa Schroeder's He Was My Chief

Author: Erich Kempka
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 184
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2010 translation of 1991 German original


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