Back When: PM sends condolences as German leader dies

Hitler2An occasional series in which we look back on how the great events of history were reported

1 May 1945:

The Prime Minister has sent his condolences to the people of Germany, after its head of state Adolf Hitler died suddenly yesterday.

Details of Hitler’s death are sketchy, but it is understand that the German leader shot himself rather than be captured by the Russians.

Prime Minister Peter Fraser said the relationship between Germany and New Zealand over the years had been a warm one.

“In recent times things have moved from merely warm to rather hot,” said Mr Fraser.

“But apart from two bloody world wars in which thousands of New Zealanders died at the hands of German forces, we have always enjoyed a very good relationship with Germany.”

Mr Fraser said flags would be lowered to half-mast on all government buildings in honour of the German leader.

He also sought to downplay concerns that relations with Germany had been strained in recent years.

“It is correct to say that we have not always been in agreement with Germany on some matters,” the Prime Minister acknowledged.

“But while it would be tempting to focus on the things that divide us, such as the invasions of Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, France, Norway, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, and Italy, the widespread atrocities committed in the name of the monstrous Nazi ideology, the murder of millions of people by Hitler’s thugs, and the fact that right at this moment we are at war with Germany, we must also acknowledge that Hitler was a great man. An evil man whose savage cruelty and lack of respect for human life seemed to know no bounds, but a great one nevertheless.”

It is not yet clear whether a representative from the New Zealand government will attend Hitler’s funeral, as German officials have reported some difficulty with locating the body. Some reports suggest that Hitler’s body may have been doused in petrol and set alight in the Reich Chancellery garden outside Hitler’s Berlin bunker, and that the charred remains were then either buried or sent to Russia.

But while no official funeral has yet been announced, it is understood that surviving members of the Nazi regime may be organising a ceremony of condolences to be held in a secret location somewhere in South America.