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#Sundayreading – Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair

Ready to be poisoned: Seven decades after Margot Wölk was forced into
life at Hitler’s bunker, she has told her full story

Tony Paterson Author Biography Berlin
Wednesday 17 September 2014


Every meal could have been her last. And when she had finished eating
the bland vegetarian dishes put before her, 25-year-old Margot Wölk
and her young female colleagues would burst into tears and “cry like
dogs” because they were grateful still to be alive.

Margot Wölk was no Nazi, but she was one of 15 young women who were
employed at Adolf Hitler’s heavily guarded Prussian “Wolf’s Lair”
headquarters during the Second World War. Her job was to taste the
Nazi leader’s food before it reached his lips, to make sure it wasn’t

She was the only one to survive. All her colleagues were rounded up
and shot by the advancing Red Army in January 1945. Now a frail
96-year-old widow, Margot Wölk has overcome feelings of shame and
broken decades of silence about her time as Hitler’s food taster to
tell her story to German television.

“The food was always vegetarian,” she told Berlin’s RBB television
channel, for a programme about her harrowing and sometimes horrific
experiences, which was aired on Tuesday. “There were constant rumours
that the British were out to poison Hitler. He never ate meat. We were
given rice, noodles, peppers, peas and cauliflower,” she recalled.

But she added: “Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began
eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up. Then we
had to wait an hour, and every time we were frightened that we were
going to be ill. We used to cry like dogs because we were so glad to
have survived.”

Margot Wölk kept her wartime ordeal secret until last year Margot Wölk
kept her wartime ordeal secret until last year (AP)
Surrounded by white fluffy toy polar bears, Ms Wölk told her story in
the same Berlin apartment where she was born in 1917. The daughter of
a German railways employee, she enjoyed a carefree youth and had
Jewish friends until the Nazis came to power in 1933.

She became one of Hitler’s food tasters by accident. Bombed out of her
Berlin apartment in 1941, and with her husband Karl drafted into the
army, she sought sanctuary in the home of his mother in the East
Prussian town of Partsch, which is now Parcz, Poland. Located some 400
miles east of Berlin, the town happened to be right next door to
Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair headquarters.

The mayor of the town, an ardent Nazi, forced Mrs Wölk to become a
food taster. Every day an SS guard picked her and the other girls up
in a special bus and took them to a school building, where they had to
taste the Nazi leader’s meals.

“The security was so tight that I never saw Hitler in person. I only
saw his Alsatian dog, Blondi,” Ms Wölk recalled. Security was
draconian, but one night she was raped by an SS officer.

Hitler’s fears for his life were not unfounded. On 20 July 1944, a
group of German army officers attempted to assassinate the Nazi leader
by detonating a bomb in the Wolf’s Lair. “We were sitting on wooden
benches, and suddenly we heard and felt this incredible big bang,”
recalled Ms Wölk, “We fell off the benches and I heard someone
shouting, ‘Hitler is dead!’ But of course he wasn’t.”

German dictator Adolf Hitler dines in a still from a private home
movie German dictator Adolf Hitler dines in a still from a private
home movie (Getty Images)
Nearly 5,000 Germans suspected of involvement in the bomb plot were
executed by the Nazis. Ms Wölk was forced to move into the heavily
guarded building where she tasted Hitler’s food.

By late 1944, the Red Army was advancing. Ms Wölk was helped to escape
by a friendly SS officer. She was found a place on a train used by the
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, and fled to a Berlin in

Berlin capitulated to the Russian army in May 1945. But the horror of
the war did not end for Margot Wölk. “We tried to dress up as old
women, but the Russians came for me and the other girls all the same,”
she recalled in the programme. “They cut open our dresses and dragged
us into a doctor’s flat. We were held there and raped for 14 days. It
was hell on earth. The nightmare never goes away.”

Ms Wölk was left unable to bear children. “I always wanted a daughter.
When I reached 50, I thought, if had a daughter she would be 25 now.
But sadly that never happened,” she said.

A British officer called Norman helped her recover. He went back to
Britain after the war. He wrote asking his German girlfriend to join
him. But Ms Wölk told him she wanted to wait and find out if her
husband Karl was still alive.

In 1946, Karl appeared on her doorstep. Finally allowed home from a
Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, he weighed 45 kilos, had a bandage around
his head and was at first unrecognisable. The couple tried to live a
normal life. But the war had taken a toll on both of them. Margot Wölk
couldn’t escape her nightmares. They separated. Karl died 24 years
ago. Ms Wölk has lived alone with her memories ever since.

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