By Alex Jones
THIS PERSONAL diary of Hitler’s pilot includes rarely seen photographs of the Nazi leader and offers a unique insight into one of the evillest men in history, including his final words.
Lieutenant-general Hans Baur’s diary highlights the remarkable story of the pilot who was an intimate friend of the Führer and one of his most trusted members of staff.
Their friendship was sparked in the early 1930s when Baur was hired to help Hitler campaign around Germany.
Just three years later, Hitler was Baur’s best man at his wedding.
In 1945, Baur was one of the very last people to speak to the Nazi warlord before his grisly suicide in a Berlin bunker.
Remarkable photos included in the diary show Baur and Hitler warmly greeting each other on an airfield, standing alongside each other whilst throwing a Nazi salute, and the soon-to-be leader of the Third Reich posturing stony-faced whilst serving as best man for his beaming captain.
The first German edition of Baur’s memoirs Ich flog Mächtige der Erde (‘I Flew with the World’s Powerful’), was published in 1956, but the diary has now been reprinted and re-released by Frontline Books in English with the title I was Hitler’s Pilot.
The captivating book explains how Baur flew and made pleasant small talk with the man responsible for the death of 6million Jews and countless others, but also elaborates on how the accomplished pilot, who survived the First World War as an airman and went on to become one of German airline Luft Hansa’s first pilots, also transported some of the Third Reich’s highest ranking ministers, Mussolini, as well as various heads of state.
Baur’s enthralling account allows the reader to experience Hitler’s rise to power, his role in the most destructive conflict in history, his mistakes and shortcomings, and his eventual death at his own hands as the Nazi empire crumbled.
One of the more startling passages in the book remembers the Nazi leader’s emotional last words to Baur.
“Hitler came up to me and took both my hands in his,” recalls Baur, who died in 1993 aged 96.
“’Baur, I want to say good-bye to you.’
“‘You don’t mean . . .’ I began in dismay.
“‘Yes,’ he answered. ‘The time has come. My generals have betrayed me; my soldiers don’t want to go on; and I can’t go on.’
“I tried to persuade him that there were still planes available, and that I could get him away to Japan or the Argentine, or to one of the Sheiks, who were all very friendly to him on account of his attitude to the Jews.
“‘The war will end with the fall of Berlin,’ Hitler declared. ‘And I stand or fall with Berlin.
“’A man must summon up courage enough to face the consequences – and therefore I’m ending it now.
“’I know that tomorrow millions of people will curse me – that’s fate.
“’The Russians know perfectly well that I am here in this bunker, and I’m afraid they’ll use gas shells.
“’There are gas-locks here, I know, but can you rely on them?
“’In any case, I’m not – and I’m ending it today.’”
Hitler then gifted Baur a valuable painting as a gift for his 12 years of service.
Minutes later Hitler would kill himself, alongside his wife Eva Braun.
Goebbels and his family, including their small children, would also perish with many other prominent Nazis before Russian soldiers were able to storm the bunker.
Baur managed to escape from underground but did not make it far. He was shot in his attempts to escape and lost his leg as a result. He then spent ten years in a Soviet prison where he was relentlessly tortured for information about Hitler.
Despite his key role in the Führer’s inner circle, Baur suggests he was not involved in the politics of the Third Reich, stating he was ‘a pilot, not a politician’.
There was no doubt that the two shared a special bond however, with Hitler even purchasing Baur a brand new car for his 40th birthday.
“Hitler’s complete confidence in me had led to a more intimate and friendly relationship,” explains Baur, after a few years of flying Hitler around Europe.
“After all, again and again his life depended on my skill, and he realised that I always did my level best for him, so one day he told me that henceforth I was to consider myself as his personal friend and permanent guest as well as his pilot.
“From now on I was to be allowed to go in and out of his house whenever I liked without special pass or permission.
“After that I almost always had lunch and dinner with him, and I found it very interesting to get to know the way he lived, and in particular how he relaxed.
“In the garden of the Reich Chancellory there were a number of very tame squirrels, and whenever he went out into the garden they would come running up to jump on his shoulders. They wanted nuts, of course, and when Hitler went into the garden, he always took some with him.
“Once when the supply was exhausted I offered to go back to the Reich Chancellory and get some more, but Hitler refused: ‘No, Baur. Your job is flying me, not waiting on me.’”
Baur’s personal account also includes more personal aspects about Hitler’s life, including love life advice, his fondness for animals and the virtues of a vegetarian diet, and why he had a fear of flying.
Hans Baur’s I was Hitler’s Pilot, published by Frontline books, is available here. A new print run is due for release this month.