Many suicides were committed after Hitler’s death, especially in Berlin, Germany. 7,057 suicides were reported in 1945. This is five times more than the years before. Although the numbers were close, more women committed suicide than men during this time. Most were due to Germany’s defeat or Hitler’s death. Approximately half of these suicides were committed during the Battle of Berlin, which was the last major offensive of WWII. Germany’s defeat led to hopelessness of many Nazi and SS officers, along with their families. They had no idea of what would become of them after Germany’s defeat, and we left with absolutely no guidance after Hitler’s death. Some were martyrs, following Hitler’s lead as soon as they heard about his death.
Suicides were also extremely common in those who were close to Hitler. 8 out of 41 Nazi leaders killed themselves before 1945 and 7 out of 47 SS officers did the same. For instance, Joseph Goebbel who became a Nazi in 1923, and Hitler’s official successor, had others poison his six children with morphine before him and his wife both shot themselves. Josef Terboven, who was a Gauleiter or a Nazi Party leader, immediately committed suicide after hearing of Hitler’s death by setting off 50 kilograms of dynamite in his bunker. Heinrich Himmler was a very important Nazi. He established the first concentration camp and was the prime architect of the Holocaust, organizing death camps. When he tried to escape Hitler, he was captures and then poisoned himself.
As well as those close to Hitler, Nazis and SS officers who were captured as prisoners by other countries such as Britain and America committed suicide. Eduard Wirths was a doctor, and was sent to be a doctor at concentration camps. In Auschwitz became the highest ranked doctor, and for three years was in charge of other doctors and helped choose those for extermination. In 1945, he was captured by the British and soon killed himself by hanging. Hans Bothmann was also captured by the British. He ran an extermination camp in Poland before being captured and hanging himself. Theodore Dannecker deported Jews to concentration camp, and was captured by Americans. On December 10th 1945, he hung himself while in an American Prison Camp.
The main reason for Nazis suicide was a loss of hope and fear of the future. Nazis feared for their families,and because of this, it was not uncommon for a Nazi to kill his family before himself. For example, Corporal Max K killed his two young sons before himself. Goebbel is also a very good example. Before the murders of his six children and the suicides of him and his wife, his wife explained in a letter their reasoning. She explains that she did not want her children living in the world that was to come after Germany’s defeat. She would have rather they died than for them to live with the consequences of her husband’s actions.
Finally, the fear of prosecution was a large reason for Nazi’s suicides, and is exemplified best with those who committed suicide after their trials. Hermann Goering was one of these people. He became a Nazi in 1923, and made his way up to many positions of power. He was the commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, or Germany’s air force. In 1946 he was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging. Hours before his scheduled death on October 15, 1946, Goering poisoned himself by taking a potassium cyanide pill. He left a suicide note, stating that he had had this pill for 11 months. No one knows for sure how he obtained the pill and cheated the gallows.