Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger

(July 11, 1910 - May 2, 1945)

He was an SS doctor in World War II and Adolf Hitler's personal physician from 1944.

He initially worked as an assistant doctor under Prof. Karl Gebhardt in the Sanatorium Hohenlychen, which specialised in sports accidents. As a result of this experience, he was part of the medical team, along with Gebhardt, at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and the Winter Olympics of the same year in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

In 1939, the Hohenlychen was used by the SS as part of the war effort. Working under the supervision of Gebhardt, Dr. Fritz Fischer and Dr. Herta Oberheuser, he participated in medical experiments, the subject of which were women from the concentration camp at Ravensbrück. The experiments included the transplantation of bone and muscle.

In 1945, Stumpfegger started working directly for Adolf Hitler in the Führerbunker in Berlin. As the Red Army advanced towards the bunker, he helped Magda Göbbels murder her children before she and husband Josef Göbbels committed suicide.

He attempted to break out from the bunker with Martin Bormann and committed suicide with Bormann at the Lehrter Bahnhof by taking cyanide

Helmut Kunz

Helmut Kunz (26 September 1910 - 1976) was an SS dentist who, after the suicide of Adolf Hitler, was ordered to administer anesthetic to the six children of Josef Göbbels before they were killed.

Kunz was born in Ettlingen, Germany. He first studied law, then dentistry. He wrote his doctoral thesis on "Studies of Dental Caries Among School Children as Related to Their Feeding in Infancy." In 1936 he opened a dental practice in Lucka, south of Leipzig. He also joined the SS, unit Sturm 10/48.

In 1939, Kunz was a member of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. In 1941 he was seriously injured and assigned to the Waffen-SS medical office in Berlin as a junior assistant of the Dentist-General. In late April 1945 he was assigned to the Reich Chancellery.

Unlike many other leading Nazis by April 1945, Josef Göbbels showed his strong support for Hitler by moving himself and his family into the Vorbunker, that was connected to the lower Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery gardens in central Berlin. Magda Göbbels was Kunz's first patient in the Chancellery. She had developed an abscess under a bridge in her lower jaw. On 27 April 1945, Magda took Kunz aside to ask his help in killing her children. After meeting the children, he left and returned to his duty post at the Chancellery. On 1 May, Magda telephoned and requested he come to the Vorbunker. Once there, she told him that Hitler was dead and there were groups attempting to break-out of the Soviet ring but, the Göbbels had decided it was time to die. Magda and her husband, Josef Göbbels insisted that Kunz help them. According to Kunz, he injected the Göbbels children with morphine which Magda obtained from Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger to render them unconscious before cyanide capsules were administered.

Kunz returned to work at the emergency casualty station, where he remained until taken prisoner by Soviet Red Army troops on 2 May. Dr. Werner Haase, along with two nurses, Erna Flegel and Liselotte Chervinska were captured with him at that time. He spent ten years in Russian captivity, then returned to Münster. In 1955, a former Waffen SS sergeant and prisoner of war, Harri Mengershausen, implicated Kunz in the children's deaths.

In his testimony, Kunz said that he injected the children with morphine but it was Magda Göbbels, (the mother of the children), who slipped the children cyanide pills.

This contradicts the testimony of Oberscharführer Rochus Misch, a member of Hitler's Führerbegleitkommando bodyguard and head of communications in the Führerbunker and statements by Göbbels State Secretary in the Propaganda Ministry, Werner Naumann. Naumann and Misch both stated it was actually Hitler's surgeon SS Dr. Stumpfegger who mixed a sweetened narcotic drink to put the Göbbels children into a deep sleep before Magda Göbbels placed cyanide capsules into their mouths.

The German courts refused to convict Kunz, and he remained in dental practice, highly regarded until his death. He died in Freudenstadt in 1976, and is buried in the Städtischer Friedhof (municipal cemetery) division R, double grave 10/11.

The very first statement made about ANY events in the Chancellery was made to the Soviets on the 7th of May by Dr. Helmut Kunz - who reported he had seen Eva Braun alive on the evening of the 30th of April. He said he had seen Braun playing with the Göbbels' children early in the evening, and later joined her, Werner Hasse and two secretaries for coffee between 10 and 11pm! He reports that at THAT time he asked about the Führer, and Eva Braun said he was still alive - Kunz hadn't seen or heard about him all day - but had resolved to die by his own hand ONLY when he received word that his will had reached the person intended.

Murder in Hitler's Bunker
Who Really Poisoned the Göbbels Children?

By Georg Bönisch

To this day, the murder by poisoning of the six children of Nazi propaganda chief Josef Göbbels remains a mystery. Newly discovered records show that a doctor confessed in the 1950s to having been an accomplice, but that the judges in the case let him go unpunished.

These are the last days of their lives, but the children don't know it. There is 12-year-old Helga, who has the eyes and dark hair of her father, Josef Göbbels. There is Hilde, 11, who is more of a brunette; anyone looking at her quickly realizes that she is about to blossom into a true beauty. And then there are eight-year-old Holde, six-year-old Hedda and the youngest of the girls, four-year-old Heide.

H for Hitler. The name of each child evokes the name of the Führer, for whom Göbbels works as propaganda chief. The family's only son is named Helmut, a slightly languorous nine-year-old.

The “H” pattern was begun by Magda's first husband, Günther Quandt. He had two sons by his first wife, and the boys' names were Hellmuth and Herbert. Magda was Günther Quandt's second wife; together they had a son named Harold. Magda divorced Günther Quandt, later marrying Dr. Göbbels.

She kept the tradition of "H" names, but there doesn't seem to be any meaning to it, other than a whimsical preference for the letter.

Berlin, the end of April 1945, the Reich Chancellery. Hitler's bunker, deep underground beneath the Chancellery, is a place of gray concrete, narrow passageways, iron doors and cold light. It isn't a welcoming place, particularly not for children who, only a few weeks earlier, were living a seemingly carefree and innocent life, playing with cats and dogs on a farm far away from Berlin.

Russian soldiers are only a few hundred meters away, and everyone in the bunker is urging the parents to finally take the children to a safe place. Hanna Reitsch, a celebrated German aviator, says: "My God, Mrs. Göbbels, the children cannot stay here, even if I have to fly in 20 times to get them out."

But the Göbbels remain unyielding.

"It is better for my children to die than to live in disgrace and humiliation," says their mother, Magda. Their father fears that Stalin could take the children to Moscow, where they would be brainwashed into becoming communists. "No, it's better that we take them along."

Unpunished Crime

On April 30, at about 3:30 p.m., Hitler shoots himself in the head, and his companion Eva Braun dies with him. The double suicide is a signal for the others. By the next day, the six Göbbels children are also dead. After receiving morphine injections to render them unconscious, they are poisoned with cyanide, a substance that causes rapid death by suffocation.

Six dead children, and yet the act was never punished. Astonishingly, no historian has ever truly delved into this tragic crime, which was part of the final act of the Third Reich. To this day, the episode remains the subject of speculation and misinterpretation.

However there was a remarkable judicial sequel in the late 1950s, involving a case that was heard by a regional appeals court in the western German city of Hamm. The case files are stored at the national archive in nearby Münster. They have remained unnoticed until now, even though they highlight the "leniency and questionable argumentation with which the courts addressed Nazi crimes at the time," says chief prosecutor Maik Wogersien, who recently stumbled upon the documents, more or less by accident. Wogersien is conducting research on precisely this subject at the Legal Academy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

According to the documents, the judges who prosecuted the Göbbels case were former members of the Nazi Party, as was so often the case in trials dealing with Nazi crimes in the newly formed Federal Republic of Germany. For example, the judges managed to disregard a completed indictment for infanticide, using incorrect and possibly even illegal arguments. The defendant was acquitted.

The newly discovered records now make it possible, for the first time, to reconstruct what actually happened.

Fateful Moment

The man who is the focus of all the documents was Helmut Kunz, who was born in the southwestern town of Ettlingen in 1910. After studying law, he went on to obtain a doctorate in dental medicine, writing a doctoral thesis titled "Studies of Dental Caries in Schoolchildren as Related to Their Feeding in Infancy." In 1936 he opened a dental practice in Lucka, south of the eastern city of Leipzig. Kunz was also a member of the Sturm 10/48 unit of the SS.

When Hitler began the war, Kunz served as a medical officer in the SS's notorious Totenkopf (Death's Head) division. He was seriously wounded in 1941, and after his recovery he was transferred to the medical unit of the Waffen-SS, the SS's combat arm, in Berlin. In April 1945, at the rank of Sturmbannführer, Kunz was transferred again, this time to the Reich Chancellery. For Kunz, who a confidant of Hitler had described as having an "erect soldierly bearing," it was to become a fateful moment.

Orders from Hitler

It was April 22, and the Göbbels were ready. It was too dangerous for the family to remain in their apartment in Berlin's Hermann-Göring-Strasse, and so their suitcases were packed and the children were dressed and told to put on their coats and hats. It was also a final goodbye for Käthe Hübner, their governess, nicknamed "Hübi." "We're going to stay with the Führer in his bunker now," said little Helmut. "Are you coming with us?" The young woman stayed behind, looking on as Magda Göbbels voluntarily followed the Führer "into his hopeless situation."


Magda Göbbels became Kunz's first patient at the Reich Chancellery after she developed an abscess under a bridge in her lower jaw. Magda Göbbels saw herself as a model mother and a kind of first lady. Even Hitler addressed her respectfully as "madam." This status alone made Magda Göbbels, a woman who could be very gentle at times but at other times strident, into a person of authority.

In late April, she took Kunz aside and literally asked him to "help with the killing of her children," as the dentist would later testify. Kunz, however, claimed: "I refused and told her that I was simply incapable of doing it."

He told her that he had just lost his two daughters a few months earlier during an American air ride on Lucka, and that he couldn't do it "for that reason alone." His daughter Maike was five when she died in the wreckage, and the other daughter, Maren, was barely a year old.

But Magda Göbbels insisted and is believed to have said, a short time later, that it was "no longer a request" of hers, "but a direct order from Hitler," according to Kunz's recollection of what Göbbels said during the argument. "She asked me if it was sufficient that she was delivering the order, or whether I wished to speak with Hitler in person."

Kunz allegedly replied: "That's sufficient for me." He reportedly attempted to escape a short time later, to the nearby Hotel Adlon, where one of his fellow SS members was believed to have set up a sick bay. But Magda Göbbels apparently ordered him brought back, threatening that if her husband found out about his attempted escape he would be "a dead man."

'Don't Be Afraid'

May 1, 1945, in the evening. The daughters and the son were already in bed, but were not asleep yet. "Don't be afraid," their mother said. "The doctor is going to give you a shot now, one that all children and soldiers are getting." She left the room, and Kunz injected the morphine, "first into the two older girls, then the boy and then the other girls." Each child received a dose of 0.5 cc. It "took eight to 10 minutes."

When the children had fallen asleep, Magda Göbbels went into the room, the cyanide pills in her hand, as Kunz testified. She returned a few seconds later, weeping and distraught. "Doctor, I can't do it, you have to do it," she said. The dentist replied: "I can't do it either." "Then get Dr. Stumpfegger," she said. Ludwig Stumpfegger, who was slightly younger than Kunz, had been one of SS chief Heinrich Himmler's personal doctors.

A week later, Russian coroners performed autopsies on the bodies of the children and concluded that their deaths had "occurred as a result of poisoning with cyanide compounds." The Göbbels themselves had committed suicide outside the bunker, and Stumpfegger died while attempting to break through the Russian lines in Berlin.

Kunz, however, survived. He was both a witness and a perpetrator, someone who could incriminate others and exonerate himself. Someone who could also give false testimony.

Back in Office

On July 30, 1945, the Russians flew Kunz to Moscow, where he joined hundreds of thousands of other German prisoners of war. He was imprisoned for six-and-a-half years. In February 1952, he was put on trial for being a member of the Nazi Party and the SS and, as Kunz would later claim, also for the death of the Goebbels children.

At the time of Kunz's trial in Moscow, several years had passed since the Allies had conducted the Nuremberg trials. At first, West German courts had also made a concerted effort to quickly convict Nazi war criminals. But soon, says German historian Norbert Frei, there was a "conspicuous decline in the level of enthusiasm for bringing people to justice." That development was triggered by a ruling that interpreted Article 131 of West Germany's new constitution, two years after it was passed in 1949, in favor of former civil servants. The new provision permitted the rehiring of civil servants who had been let go "on grounds other than bureaucratic or wage-related reasons" -- for example, reasons related to their Nazi past.

In other words, people who had been judges or prosecutors during the Nazi regime were in all likelihood serving in the same positions once again, officially rehabilitated and "less and less prepared to carry out a reasonable administration of justice," according to Frei.

In addition, the young Federal Republic of Germany had declared generous amnesties, the first in 1949, the year of its establishment, and a second one in 1954, which only crippled the process of justice even further. The intention of the new amnesty law was to provide immunity from prosecution for "certain crimes from the Nazi era," or at least to deal with them leniently if mitigating circumstances could be found.

Almost all the people who were now thinking about possible mitigating circumstances had connections to the Nazis in some way or another: as employees in Hitler's justice ministry, as wartime judges or as judges on special tribunals. And they were particularly eager to ensure that sympathetic sentences were passed relating to "acts that occurred during the collapse" -- namely from October 1944 through the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945 and until July 31, 1945 -- if they had been committed "under the assumption of an official or legal obligation, especially on the basis of an order."

The law came into effect on July 18, 1954. It would be of particular importance for one man: Helmut Kunz.

Judicial Scandal

After Kunz had spent 10 years in Russian captivity, the Kremlin finally released him on Oct. 4, 1955. A short time later, the death of the Goebbels children became a case for the public prosecutor, but only because the district court in the Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden was conducting obligatory proceedings to verify Hitler's death. One of the many witnesses was Harri Mengershausen, a former assistant inspector and SS official, as well as a former prisoner of war.

Mengershausen first testified about Hitler's suicide, and then the judge, Heinrich Stephanus, began to probe into the Goebbels case: "The death of the children is still a complete mystery. We don't know who did it and what exactly was done… Dr. Kunze was once mentioned in this context." Neither the judge nor the witness knew Kunz's correct name.

"Dr. Kunze refused three times to poison the children," Mengershausen said, "and then Göbbels … pointed out to him that he still had the power to issue orders, and that he (Dr. Kunze) could be punished for disobeying a order. After that, he administered the injections…"

"But you only know this from hearsay?" Stephanus asked.

"I know it because he told me himself," Mengershausen replied.

Six Counts of Murder

By that point, Kunz had settled in the northwestern German city of Münster, where he was working as a "voluntary assistant" at the university dental clinic, and as a contract physician with the new German armed forces, the Bundeswehr. Chief prosecutor Theodor Middeldorf launched a preliminary investigation against Kunz for six counts of murder, under case No. 6 Js 1041/56.

During the coming months, Middeldorf examined many witnesses who had persevered until the end in the Führer's bunker -- Hitler's last confidants. They included his secretary Traudl Junge, his valet Heinz Linge, his driver Erich Kempka and his chief pilot Hans Baur.

Some had never heard of Kunz, while others were familiar with him and his story. But Middeldorf had, in fact, no need for a classic incriminating witness. In the first hearing, the dentist confessed that he had administered morphine to the children, and he stated that his fellow doctor, Stumpfegger, and Magda Göbbels had been alone in the room. When Göbbels emerged from the room, Kunz testified, she was weeping and said: "Everything is over now!"

In January 1959, the public prosecutor's office in Münster brought charges, not for murder, but for aiding and abetting a homicide "through six independent actions." From the very beginning, the prosecutors had ruled out the possibility that the 1954 amnesty law could be applied in the Kunz case.

First, they argued, the "request to participate in the killing of the children" was not a "binding order" for Kunz, even if Magda Goebbels had insisted that it had come directly from either her husband or Hitler. And even if Kunz had believed Magda Goebbels, he ought to have refused, the prosecutors argued, because "killing the children was nothing but a crime."

Members of the Nazi Party

After examining the records for only three weeks, the First Criminal Chamber of the Münster State Court closed the proceedings, at the government's expense. "Anyone who incurred guilt in a situation which was not under their control should, as a rule, receive immunity from prosecution," the court suggested.

And this was to apply to a doctor who felt threatened by the regime in the form of the wife of a minister? The immunity law had not been enacted for a case like Kunz's, no matter how it was interpreted. Perhaps that was why the judges wrote, in the grounds for their decision, that it was time to finally draw a line "under the confusing circumstances."

Three months later, the regional appeals court in Hamm upheld the lower court's decision, while emphasizing how dangerous the situation had been for Kunz. Magda Göbbels, the court argued, had "made it clear to him that he would be killed if he refused to perform the task that was intended for him."

Describing the act of being an accomplice to the killings of six children as a "task that was intended for him" is a bitter way of phrasing it. These are the words of lawyers, and it is hardly surprising that both the presiding judge, Gerhard Rose, born in 1903, and the president of the regional appeals court, Gerhard Ahlich, born in 1905, had been members of the Nazi Party. Rose's membership number was 4 413 181, and Ahlich's was 4 079 094. Both men had joined the Nazi Party on May 1, 1937.

Coincidentally, it was the same day Kunz joined the party.

Scattered in the Elbe

The dentist died in Freudenstadt in southwestern Germany in 1976. He had been highly regarded in the community and had kept working until his death. He is buried in the municipal cemetery, division R, double grave 10/11.

According to the Russian account, after the autopsies the bodies of the children, as well as those of their parents and of Hitler and Eva Braun, were hastily buried near Buch in northeastern Berlin. They were moved again twice before the politburo in Moscow ordered their "final" destruction, "under strict orders of secrecy," because the Russians wanted to avoid attracting attention. The KGB was instructed to perform the clandestine mission, code-named "Operation Archive."

According to a secret document, on the night of April 4-5, 1970, a KGB unit disinterred "skulls, bones, ribs, vertebrae and so on." The agents threw everything they found onto a bonfire, and the "remains" were "burned completely" and "together with pieces of charcoal, were pounded into powder."

The ashes were scattered in the Elbe River.

Last days of Hitler's favourite little girl
In her new book, Emma Craigie uncovers the heartbreaking story of 12-year-old Helga Göbbels, who was killed by her parents in the Berlin bunker as the Nazi empire crumbled.

By Emma Craigie
April 8, 2010

It was the loneliness of the 12-year-old that first drew me to Helga Göbbels. She was the oldest of the six children taken by their parents, Josef and Magda Göbbels, into Hitler's Berlin bunker on April 22 1945. Their tale had barely been written about and had never been the subject of a book. I decided to tell their story from Helga's point of view. My breakthrough was the discovery of an untranslated memoir of their governess, Kathe Hubner, who worked for the Göbbels family for the last two years of the Second World War.

Faced with the inevitability of defeat, Göbbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, had determined to await defeat and death alongside the Führer. Other leading Nazis had protected their children by sending them into the mountains or out of the country, but Magda Göbbels decided that she and the children would join her husband to bring their lives to what she called "the only possible and honourable conclusion".

Inside the bunker Magda could hardly bear to see her children, bursting into tears after every encounter with them. She played patience compulsively, and took to her bed. It was left to Traudl Junge, one of Hitler's secretaries, to look after them. Junge survived the war, and later recalled that the children were "happy and cheerful… They knew nothing of the fate awaiting them, and the adults did all they could to keep them unaware of it… Only the oldest, Helga, sometimes had a sad knowing expression in her big, brown eyes… Sometimes I think with horror that in her heart the child saw through the pretence of the grown-ups."

I was horrified by the thought of this young girl, sensing the danger of the situation, sensing the dishonesty, the untrustworthiness of her parents and the other adults, but unable to share her fears with her unsuspecting younger siblings. I wanted to build up a picture of Helga's life before the family entered the bunker. I turned first to the private diaries which Josef Göbbels wrote almost every day of his adult life. His focus is his own importance in public events and his children feature rarely. When they do, he shows a chillingly distant delight in them: "I speak to the children on the telephone. They are all so sweet. How attached one can become to such tiny, insignificant beings!"

Kathe Hubner's story, recorded in Die Kinder des Reichministers, gives a much more vivid and intimate picture of the Göbbels family life during the war. Hubner confirms the view that Helga alone saw through the lies of the adults and, unlike her younger siblings, "would not let herself be comforted by her mother's words when she said that Hitler would defeat his enemies".

For a bright 12-year-old the signs of the desperation of the situation must have been obvious. Women and children who were fleeing from the advancing Russian army streamed past their home, bringing stories of atrocities. Hubner also recalls Josef Göbbels' insensitivity about his children's feelings and how this could undermine their mother's attempts to reassure them.

At the end of 1944 he commissioned a propaganda film about his two oldest girls, Helga and Hilde, visiting a military hospital, and giving the soldiers flowers. The girls were so visibly horrified by the mutilated patients that the project had to be abandoned.

From 1944-45 the children lived with Hubner, a nanny and their grandmothers in the Göbbels' rural residence of Waldhof am Bogensee. Joseph was mostly in Berlin, Magda often with him. Hubner describes the excitement of the children when he came home, but also how he "liked to tease the children", particularly the only boy, nine-year-old Helmut.

Both grandmothers lived in log cabins on the Bogensee estate. Magda's mother Auguste, who avoided all contact with Josef, whom she hated, was suicidal and alarmed Hubner, and presumably the children, with her constant wailing. Every Sunday the children would visit their Göbbels grandmother and sing to her. Katherina Göbbels was very critical of her son the Reich Minister, always asking in her strong Rhineland accent, '"What has that boy done now?"

According to Hubner, Magda Göbbels attempted to hide her worries from her children whenever she was there. Only Helga "sensed it a bit". Despite her efforts to keep cheerful, Magda, like many of the leading Nazis, succumbed to nervous ailments and depression. She had always had problems with her heart, but now, Hubner recalls, the right side of her face became paralysed. She spent weeks on end away from the children in a Dresden sanatorium. When at home, Hubner remembers her walking through the great hall listening to Gluck's tragic opera, Orpheus and Eurydice, which echoed throughout the house, "I wish I had never been born/ Alas that I am on earth."

Hubner's memoir contains a number of personal photographs of the family. We see Helga, just before her 12th birthday, with her dark plaits and smocked dress, picnicking with her brother and sisters, cuddling a doll. She looks very young for her age. In another picture she is sitting on a wall beside Hubi, as they called her, holding a tiny puppy on her lap. Her long, thin legs dangle down, legs which are recognisable in the terrible autopsy photographs taken by the Russians.

The pictures give the impression of a hesitant, sensitive girl – the very opposite of the feisty child of earlier photographs, one of which we chose for the cover of Chocolate Cake with Hitler. Here Helga, aged three, is sitting on a bench beside the sea. Next to her is Hitler. He is leaning right over her, his hands clasped tightly between his legs. Helga stares fiercely at the camera. She has turned right away from him. Her legs are firmly crossed. One hand is clamped down on them, the other clings to the back of the bench. She is having nothing to do with the Führer.

Helga was always said to be Hitler's favourite little girl. Hubner refuses to comment on this, saying only that it is a question which journalists have always pestered her with – she always refused to answer their questions – and that Hitler was friendly to all children.

Whatever Hitler felt about Helga, her feelings about him are evident in another early photograph, also taken when she was three. The occasion is Hitler's birthday. A queue of people are lined up to shake his hand. When Helga gets to the front she backs off. The picture shows her standing with her back to a closed door, her hands tightly clasped together in front of her chest.

There was no sign of such rudeness in the bunker. Traudl Junge stresses how well behaved all the children were during their 10 days there: drinking hot chocolate every day with Hitler, telling him about their school work, apparently taking no notice of his increasingly odd behaviour, his rants against his generals and the reverberating bomb blasts.

It was only at the very end of her life that Helga's rebellious spirit resurfaced. When Magda put the children to bed on May 1 1945, she told them that they needed an inoculation. In fact they were injected with morphine by an army dentist, Dr Kunz. Magda wanted him to help her give the children cyanide once they were asleep, but he refused. She turned instead to one of Hitler's doctors, Ludwig Stumpfegger, who helped her crush cyanide tablets between the children's teeth as they slept.

Magda and Josef then left the bunker and went up and out to the garden of the Reich Chancellery. She took a cyanide tablet and, to make doubly sure, he then shot her with a pistol, before turning it on himself.

When the first Russians entered the bunker two days later they discovered the children's bodies. They were lying in their beds wearing white nightclothes, completely unmarked, except for Helga. According to the autopsy the Russians carried out, bruising on her face indicated that force had been needed to administer the cyanide to her. At the very end, this powerless, isolated child had rediscovered her spirit of resistance.

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Göbbels's last testament, appended to Hitler's, claimed that his wife and children supported him in his refusal to leave Berlin, qualifying this by asserting that the children would support the decision if they were old enough to speak for themselves. Both pilot Hanna Reitsch (who had left the bunker on April 29) and Junge (who left on May 1) carried letters to the outside world from those remaining. Included was a letter from Magda to Harald who was in an Allied POW camp.
The following day, on May 1, 1945, the Göbbels' six children were injected with morphine (likely by an SS dentist, Helmut Kunz) and then, when they were unconscious, killed by having a crushed ampoule of cyanide placed in their mouths. Accounts differ over how involved Magda was with the killing of her children. According to Kunz, he administered the morphine but it was Magda Göbbels and Ludwig Stumpfegger (Hitler's personal doctor) who administered the cyanide tablets.
Another account says that the children were told they would be leaving for Berchtesgaden in the morning, and Ludwig Stumpfegger was said to have provided Magda with morphine to sedate the children. Erna Flegel claims that Magda reassured the children about the morphine by telling them that they needed inoculations because they would be staying in the bunker for a long time. Erich Kempka reported after the war that he believed the children had been "taken away by a nurse" that day, just before he left the bunker. Some witnesses claimed that SS doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger crushed the cyanide capsules into the children's mouths, but as no witnesses to the event survived it is impossible to know.

James O'Donnell, author of The Bunker, concluded that, although Stumpfegger was probably involved in drugging the children, it was Magda who killed them. He suggested that witnesses blamed the deaths on Stumpfegger because he was a convenient target, having disappeared (and died, it was later learned) the following day. Moreover, Stumpfegger may have been too intoxicated at the time of the deaths to have played a reliable role.

Hans Otto Meissner in Magda Göbbels, First Lady of the Third Reich claims that Stumpfegger refused to take any part in the deaths of the children, and that a mysterious "country Doctor from the enemy-occupied eastern region" appeared and "carried out the fearful task" before disappearing again, but this explanation may owe more to Meissner's characteristic diplomacy and consideration than any reality.
Magda refused several offers from others, such as Albert Speer, to take the children out of Berlin. The children seemed unaware of the impending danger, but the eldest child, Helga, seemed to sense that the adults were lying to her about the outcome of the war and asked what would happen to them. Rochus Misch, a radio operator in the bunker, reported that Helga, whom he called the brightest of the children, was "crying softly" just before bedtime on that final night and wore a glum expression as her mother brushed her hair and kissed her and her siblings. Magda had to push Helga towards the stairs that led to the upper bunker or Vorbunker. The smallest child, four-year-old Heide, had had tonsilitis and wore a scarf around her neck. She turned back to look at Misch, giggling, and teasingly said, "Misch, Misch, du bist ein Fisch," or "Misch, Misch, you are a fish", as her mother led her and her siblings upstairs. Misch recalled later that he suspected what was about to happen and would always regret not intervening.

On May 3, 1945, the day after Soviet troops led by Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko had discovered the burned bodies of their parents in the courtyard above, they found the bodies of the six children in their beds, dressed in their nightgowns, the girls wearing bows in their hair, Vice Admiral Hans Voss was brought to the Chancellery garden to identify the bodies, as was Hans Fritzsche, a leading German radio commentator who had answered directly to Göbbels, the following day. Their bodies were brought to the Buchau Cemetery in Berlin for autopsy and inquest by Soviet doctors.

The Soviet autopsy on Helga's body noted "several black and blue bruises", indicating that she probably woke up and struggled with her killer. A photograph taken during the autopsy showed heavy bruising on the dead child's face. The injuries were apparently caused when her killer forced a cyanide capsule into her mouth.

In spite of repeated attempts, even Frau Behrend, the children's grandmother, never learned what became of the bodies. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was revealed that the bodies were repeatedly buried and exhumed, along with the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun, Josef and Magda Göbbels, General Hans Krebs and Hitler's dogs. The last burial had been at the SMERSH facility in Magdeburg on February 21, 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On April 4, 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe.
Rochus Misch attracted controversy in 2005 when he called for a memorial plaque to be installed in honour of the six Göbbels children. Critics felt it would taint the memory of Holocaust victims to honor the children of the Nazi leader. Despite their parents' crimes, Misch argued that the children themselves were innocent, that to treat them as criminals like their parents was wrong and that they were murdered just as other victims during the war were murdered.