Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
Sebastien Barnard writes Monday, December 27, 1999
IN Siegfried Knappe's book Soldat, (which I am in the process of reading) he says that [Hitler's foreign minister Joachim] von Ribbentrop visited the army headquarters at Waldsieversdorf in April 1945. What follows is this: "I received a call from Panzer Division Muncheberg informing us that von Ribbentrop had requested that he be allowed to accompany a combat reconnaissance patrol. I relayed that information to Weidling, who refused the request, pointing out quite logically that at Ribbentrop's age and without infantry training or experience - and wearing a uniform that would have made him stand out as a very inviting target - he would certainly be killed on an infantry patrol"
Was von Ribbentrop in the habit of visiting front-line positions towards the end of the war? Was his request an attempt to kill himself in combat, or was he trying to gain Hitler's favour once again by doing something stupid and daring?
Bookmark the download page to find the latest new free books
In fact Ribbentrop was a man of above average courage; he had served in one of the finest Potsdam regiments in World War I, and acquitted himself most honourably. As for the passage quoted above, see my biography Hitler's War (page 826 of the new Millennium edition):
"Weidling's task was nigh impossible. Hitler and Goebbels had optimistically sacrificed the capital's resources to the forward defences on the Oder; a decamping army commandant had blown up Berlin's last major ammunition dump at Krampnitz. Weidling would have hardly any tanks. Apart from the shattered remnants of his own corps, the coming street battles would be fought between trained, professional Russian combat troops with the glint of final victory in their eyes, and a few thousand German flak soldiers, Volkssturm men, and police units. About 2,700 youths had been mustered into a tank-killer brigade; Hitler assigned this Hitler Youth offering to the defence of the bridges across which the relief armies must march. From Flensburg, Admiral Dönitz promised to airlift two thousand of his best soldiers and fortress troops into Berlin in the next fortyeight hours and to put 3,500 more of his most cherished fleet personnel -- including crews trained to operate the new secret Uboat types -- on standby for the fight; if Berlin did not win this last battle, those submarines would never operate. He kept his promise, unlike Himmler who eventually parted with only half his personal security battalion. Even Ribbentrop courageously requested permission to take up arms in Berlin. Hewel telegraphed him in Mecklenburg: 'The Führer appreciates your intentions but has turned you down. Until the ring encircling Berlin has been broken open, or until you receive further instructions, you are to stand by outside the combat area.' Hewel added significantly: 'I have no political information whatever."
The above original Walter Frentz colour photo of Ribbentrop with Hitler is from the book and is available as a 2 foot wide Focal Point poster