Late–night "Fuhrer cake" and sleeping in until the afternoon are just a few of the tidbits that one of Adolf Hitler's former maids has revealed about life at the Bavarian mountain residence.
In what appears to be her first public interview about working for Hitler, 89-year-old Elisabeth Kalhammer told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten what life was like for the 22 housemaids on staff at the Berghof, the Washington Post reports.
Kalhammer responded to a wanted ad in 1943, and was accepted for the job after undergoing screening by the SS.
She told the newspaper that although she saw Hitler, she never spoke to him. Only veteran staff were allowed to speak to the Fuhrer and to go into his private quarters, she said.
High-profile guests such as Italy's Benito Mussolini stayed at the Berghof, and staff were forbidden from discussing the goings-on at the mountain retreat. Kalhammer says staff were threatened with strict punishment if they gossiped about the guests.
As for Hitler's habits, Kalhammer says that he often had late-night munchies and staff was expected to keep a particular cake with apples, nuts and raisins in stock for his visits to the kitchen, also knows as "Fuhrer cake." Hitler was no early riser either. According to Kalhammer, he usually stayed in bed until 2 P.M. She recalls the maids receiving wool for Christmas so they could knit socks for the troops. She also told the newspaper that staff addressed Eva Braun, who later became Hitler's wife, with "Heil, merciful lady."
Kalhammer doesn't criticize Hitler in the interview, or express regret for working for the Nazi leader, the Washington Post says. She describes a comfortable life, with plenty of food and drink, unlike the wartime conditions faced by ordinary Germans at the time.
As a maid, her duties included laundry, sewing, cleaning and serving tea. Hitler like his tea served in a Nymphenburg tea cup, and Kalhammer was punished once for breaking one of these valuable pieces of crockery.
She also remembers seeing Braun at the retreat, and describes her as fashionable, elegant woman. Braun designed the white apron and diagonal button uniforms the maids wore, the Post reported.
After a failed 1944 attempt on Hitler's life by Nazi officials, the residence was tense. Kalhammer worked there until nearly the end of the war, the Post reported, adding that it was eventually evacuated and bombed by the allies.
Another one of Hitler's maids opened up in a 2008 interview with the U.K.'s Daily Mail. Rosa Mitterer, 91 at the time of the interview, told the newspaper that Hitler "was a charming man, someone who was only ever nice to me, a great boss to work for. You can say what you like, but he was a good man to us."
Regarding the atrocities committed by Hitler, she said, "That he had ordered such terrible things, I just couldn't believe it," she said. "Even now, I prefer to remember the charming facets of his personality."
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