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1945 - Suicides
By the start of 1945 it was clear to everyone that Nazi Germany could no longer turn the war around. Nevertheless Hitler insisted on carrying on, giving more and more bizarre orders and waiting for non-existent armies to arrive from the Eastern Front. The old and the very young were enlisted in the so-called "Volkssturm" under strict orders to fight until the last man. It was in effect an order for Germany to commit collective suicide.

Suicide became the way out for many, especially the high-ranking Nazi elite. In the days before the German surrender on 8 May 1945, Hitler had killed himself together with Eva Braun on 30 April. Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda followed on 1 May, taking the lives of their six young children as well.

Others tried to escape: Heinrich Himmler was captured by the British and eventually killed himself with cyanide whilst in captivity on 23 May 1945. Hermann Goering, the highest ranking war criminal put on trial at Nuremberg, took his own life in his cell on 15 October 1946.

Not only members of the Nazi elite took their own lives. Ordinary Germans committed suicide as well, either out of desperation or out of shame and guilt.

Part of the World War II collection