A 95-year-old woman who was once one of several food tasters for Adolph Hitler has described how she and others sampled every bite destined for the German dictator, then were watched for an hour to make sure they didn't die from poisoning. Only then was the Führer served.
Margot Woelk, one of 15 food tasters for Hitler from 1942 to 1944 at the "Wolf's Lair" in northeastern Germany, was interviewed by Britain's The Sunday Times
In 1942, the then 25-year-old Woelk moved in with her mother-in-law in a Prussian village after a bombing forced her out of her West Berlin apartment and her husband was enlisted in the war. When she arrived, she was recruited as a taster for the Führer by the Schutzstaffel, the Nazi secret service known simply as the SS.
"The mayor was a Nazi and he called the SS to let them know I was there. They came as soon as I arrived and took me to the Wolf's Lair. They told me, we have to taste the food that Hitler is served," Woelk told The Times.
Woelk lived in a building outside Hitler's fortress in the forest with one of 15 other young women who served as the dictator's front line against poisonous assassination attempts.
"Of course I was afraid. If it had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it; we had no choice," she said. "Only after all 15 of us had tried it was it driven to the headquarters by the SS."
SS officers observed her and the other tasters for at least an hour before serving it to Hitler inside the compound, she said.
"It was all vegetarian, the most delicious, fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice, and salads. It was all arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him," she said.
Despite the risk of death, Woelk recalled enjoying the food, particularly at a time when Germany's food supply was rationed and fresh fruit and vegetables were scarce.
"It was quite delicious —
the best vegetables and cut fruit," she said. "There was no meat and I do not remember any fish. Drinks were delivered somewhere else —
the SS took them, we did not have to try drinks."
As the Germans started losing the war on the Eastern front and the Russian army approached the Wolf's Lair, SS officials evacuated the entire facility two years later in a swift but chaotic manner.
A sympathetic German soldier assisted her on a train to Berlin to escape the Red Army as they advanced into Eastern Germany.
"A high-ranking soldier called La Grange said to me, 'Get away from here, pack up your things'," she said.
"He put me on Goebbels' train and I got out. He saved my life. My mother-in-law told me that the other girls were all shot by the Russians."
Woelk's escape from the Russian army was only temporary, however. The Red Army encroached on Berlin and captured her.
"I was brought to a flat and kept there for 14 days where they raped me," she said. "I was never able to have children."
Historians estimate that Russian forced raped two million German women.
After the war, Woelk was reunited with her husband, who was reported missing while she was a taster.
"On March 27, 1946, I opened the door to a thin man in uniform with a bandage on his head," she said, her eyes bright at the memory. "He said, 'Don't you remember me?' It was my husband. I did not recognize him. I fainted."
Woelk and her husband Kurt remained together until his death in 1990.
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