Armin D. Lehmann

Lehmann was born in 1928 in Waldtrudering, a borough of Munich. Lehmann received his education at Elisabet Gymnasium in Breslau during World War II, and The Journalism School in Munich after the war.

Hitler's last courier

Hitler seized power before I was five years old. It was not my choice to grow up under the form of government in which absolute power is held by a dictator. At the age of ten, it was mandatory that I join the Deutsche Jungvolk (DJV), the junior branch of the Hitler Jugend or Hitler Youth. In January, 1945, I was drafted into the Volkssturm, the home defense. I was decorated (with the Iron Cross) for pulling battle-injured comrades out of the line of fire, after I had been seriously wounded myself. I was selected by Reichsjugendführer Artur Axmann to be a member of a Hitler Jugend Helden (Hitler Youth Heroes) delegation to visit the Fuehrer in Berlin on his birthday. I met Adolf Hitler in the Reich Chancellery garden (also known as the Hinterhof or backyard) outside his bunker on his last birthday, April 20, 1945. I became one of his last couriers as a member of Axmann’s staff. During my duty as a courier inside and outside the bunker, I witnessed the total collapse of the Third Reich. I was able to observe the final days of Hitler, Eva Braun, Martin Bormann, and Josef Göbbels and his family. I was in the adjacent Party Chancellery when Hitler committed suicide. After Hitler's death, I participated in the bloody breakout from the bunker. Two months later, I succeeded in reaching the American Occupation Zone.

Lehmann emigrated to the United States in 1953. From 1955 to 1957 Lehmann taught at the United States Armed Forces Institute, (USAFI), and also served as transportation coordinator at Tachikawa AFB in Japan.

For over 40 years, Lehmann worked in the travel and tourism industry as a tour director and operator, as well as a travel industry training specialist and consultant. He lectured extensively as an associate professor in Travel & Tourism for the Airline & Travel Academy, TWA's Breech Training Academy, and Pacific States University in Los Angeles, California.

Lehmann was the author of ten books, including Travel and Tourism, An Introduction To Travel Agency Operations, and Travel Agency Policy & Procedures Manual. In addition, he wrote more than 200 articles for travel industry trade journals. From 1977-81, Lehmann served as Vice President of Education & Training for the Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA).

In 1969 he was honoured with the "Community Leader of America Award." In 1993 Lehmann retired as a travel management consultant and retail travel agency owner. He then spent his time researching, along with developing his memoirs.

Books about his childhood experiences in the Hitler Youth include Hitler's Last Courier and In Hitler’s Bunker, which has been translated into seven different languages. He also produced a documentary film about his experiences as one of Hitler's "boy soldiers", entitled Eyewitness to History.

At the end of World War II, when he was 17, Lehmann decided to devote his life to peace activism. As a peace advocate, Lehmann participated in Professor Linus Pauling's "Campaign For Nuclear Weapons Disarmament."

In the cause of peace, Lehmann traveled to more than 150 countries, speaking out for non-violence, tolerance, and understanding with such other voices as Nehru and Schweitzer to all who would listen.

Lehmann died in Coos Bay, Oregon, on 10 October 2008. His wife of 29 years, Kim, and daughter Angie were at his bedside.

Ex-Nazi Youth Member Recalls the Final Days of Adolf Hitler
As a teenager, he was assigned to the dictator's bunker for the last 10 days of the war. Now 73, he's written a book about his experiences

Bruce Olson August 19, 2001 - Los Angeles Times

WALDPORT, Ore. — In the morning, Armin Lehmann gets out of bed and uses two crutches to make his way to the bathtub, where he soaks in scalding water so he can walk.

In this way he's not unique, for he's an aging veteran who still suffers from wounds received in World War II. But in another way, this 73-year-old retired travel executive is far different from other veterans. For Armin Lehmann spent the last 10 days of the war in a bunker with Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Josef Göbbels, Martin Bormann and the dozens of other Nazis during the Battle of Berlin.

He was Hitler's last courier, a 16-year-old member of the Hitler Youth who ran back and forth across bloody Wilhelmstrasse from the Führerbunker to Nazi Party headquarters, carrying water, medicine, and messages. "I wasn't fearless," Lehmann writes in his book, Hitler's Last Courier. "But I was able to conquer my fears. I was miserable, but like a soldier I didn't buckle under the cries, the screams and the shouts around me. I parted with those horrors inside me and maintained as valiant a state of mind as possible."

Thousands of miles away and 56 years later, Lehmann sits in his airy living room a few hundred yards from the Pacific in this small Oregon town, 150 miles southwest of Portland.

He speaks of nightmares, of piles of bodies. He speaks softly, with traces of a German accent. He runs a hand through his gray hair, shifting on his couch, looking for a comfortable position. "I had to be a good boy, obedient. My father was straight Prussian, and he never repented. Even in '46 he said the Jews had themselves to blame," Lehmann said.

Lehmann's father was a car salesman who joined the Nazi Party and became a propagandist in Hitler's intelligence unit. The Nazis made him feel important. He had money, he wore a uniform.

Lehmann's father beat him, mocked him as a "washrag" and forced him to carry a medicine ball to become strong. On April 20, 1938, at age 9, Armin Lehmann was initiated into the Hitler Youth.

Jews and communists were identified as enemies of the state. Theories of the master race were drilled into the young members. No one contradicted the teachers. By April 20, 1945, Lehmann, then 16, had been wounded at the eastern front, earning a medal for bravery. He was selected by Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann to serve Hitler in the bunker.

Lehmann puts his feet on a cushion in his living room, his voice rising. "I had seen Hitler in '38. He looked tall to me then, powerful. But when I saw him there in the bunker he had aged 20 years." Lehmann stands stiffly, curling his shoulders forward. "Hitler hunched like this," he said. "There were black circles under his eyes, his hand trembled, he tried to hold his uniform coat with his other hand so we didn't see him tremble."

Hitler spoke to a group including nine new couriers that day--his 56th birthday. He shook Lehmann's hand and Lehmann could see Hitler's eyes were "filled with moisture, perhaps because he was taking some kind of drug."

Hitler spoke of a new weapon and said it was imperative that everyone keep fighting with an "iron will." For 10 days Lehmann lived in a world without day or night, a world of constant danger that filled his mind with ghastly images.

In Hitler’s Bunker: A Boy Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of the Fuhrer’s Last Days
Armin D. Lehmann with Tim Carroll

Adolf Hitler is now considered one of the world’s most ruthless madmen. Yet this was not always the case. In fact, Hitler was idolized by the German people, and with the aid of Josef Göbbels, he was deified by the German youth. Not even the death and destruction in Germany during the closing days of World War II could shake the faith of these young fanatics. Yet very few members of the Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth) ever got to see the real face of the Führer, or be in his presence for more than a few hours.

Armin Lehmann was a notable exception to this. During the waning days of Nazi Germany, Lehmann was the courier for the Hitler Jugend leader Artur Axmann. He tells his story with collaborator Tim Carroll.

In Hitler’s Bunker
is the story of a sensitive youth who is transformed twice by the power of Hitler. The book opens with a look at the Führer’s bunker in which he would watch the great cataclysm unfold for Germany. The second chapter is a look back at Armin’s early days, and the influences that shaped him. Even then there was a schism in his life. His mother and grandparents installed a strong moral sense in him, but his disapproving father demanded much, and any setback was seen as a failure. In retrospect it’s easy to see that the father (Fritz Lehmann) was trying to use Armin’s success to fill the void due to his own life’s failures. Thus when Armin failed or was perceived to fail, his father’s disappointment and anger was crushing to Armin. Yet Armin was a talented poet, and his works were brought to the leader of the Hitler Jugend, Baldur von Schirach. Schirach encouraged him to continue writing his creative works.

The war brought changes that unsettled Armin, but beyond questioning himself, he did not question the state or its roll in the disappearance of his hunchbacked friend Rudi or any other activities one with his sense of morality should have. (Rudi and Armin both shared a love of animals, and after a rocky beginning, became friends). Armin also helped an old and infirmed Jewish lady cross the street bringing on a confrontation with another member of the Hitler Jugend. When she disappeared one day, Armin was uneasy but still did not question. Armin’s father seemed to have a job in the Schutzstaffel service (SS – Body Guard) monitoring radio stations. Once, Fritz Lehmann had a report publicized when acting as a War Correspondent which made Armin proud of him. It was this job that brought the Lehmann family to Breslau. As the Soviets closed in on the city, Armin was away taking mountaineering training. Leaving early to be by his family, Armin was assigned to Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) Gutschke. Wounded in the fighting, Armin was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd class for helping rescue and treat other wounded Germans.

In the hospital, Armin had his first true love with an older Red Cross nurse (she was 19 and he was 16). Returning to his unit, he discovered that only one third had survived, and the unit was to be mustered in the Waffen-SS or armed SS. As the unit was being paraded for Artur Axmann, the Hitler Jugend leader saw the Iron Cross ribbon. A short discussion later and Armin was in the delegation to be presented to the Führer on his birthday. After meeting and being shocked by the appearance of the Führer, he had one more surprise coming. Artur Axmann decided to keep Armin with him to serve as a courier in the Kampfgruppe, which consisted of twenty Hitler Youth groups in and around Berlin. Armin was to win the Iron Cross 1st class for destroying a Soviet tank while helping a group of nurses and patients move to the Berlin Zoo bunker. He stayed with Axmann around the Führer’s Bunker until Hitler gave the orders for those who wanted to breakout of the encirclement to attempt it. During the action, Armin was wounded yet again. Given his discharge papers by the Soviets, Armin fled to the west where he was reunited with his family.