life:

April 30, 1945: Hitler commits suicide.In the spring of 1945, LIFE’s William Vandivert was one of the first photographers to document the ruins of Berlin and the burned-out bunker beneath the city where Hitler and Eva Braun spent their final hours
In his typed notes to his editors in New York, Vandivert described in detail what he saw. For example, of the sixth slide in this gallery he wrote: 

“Pix of [correspondents] looking at sofa where Hitler and Eva shot themselves. Note bloodstains on arm of soaf [sic] where Eva bled. She was seated at far end … Hitler sat in middle and fell forward, did not bleed on sofa. This is in Hitler’s sitting room.” 

Remarkable stuff — but, it turns out, only about half right. Historians are now quite certain that Braun actually committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule, rather than by gunshot — meaning that the blood stains on the couch might well be Hitler’s, and not Eva Braun’s, after all.
Read more here.

life:

April 30, 1945: Hitler commits suicide.

In the spring of 1945, LIFE’s William Vandivert was one of the first photographers to document the ruins of Berlin and the burned-out bunker beneath the city where Hitler and Eva Braun spent their final hours

In his typed notes to his editors in New York, Vandivert described in detail what he saw. For example, of the sixth slide in this gallery he wrote:

“Pix of [correspondents] looking at sofa where Hitler and Eva shot themselves. Note bloodstains on arm of soaf [sic] where Eva bled. She was seated at far end … Hitler sat in middle and fell forward, did not bleed on sofa. This is in Hitler’s sitting room.”

Remarkable stuff — but, it turns out, only about half right. Historians are now quite certain that Braun actually committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule, rather than by gunshot — meaning that the blood stains on the couch might well be Hitler’s, and not Eva Braun’s, after all.

Read more here.

877 notes

life:

The image is chilling, bordering on surreal: On December 18, 1941, as World War II rages and countless innocents endure the horrors of the Third Reich’s “final solution” — killing operations at the Chełmno death camp, for instance, began less than two weeks before — Adolf Hitler presides over a Christmas party in Munich.
 Stark, jarring swastika armbands offset the glint of ornaments and tinsel dangling from a giant Tannenbaum; festive candles illuminate the scene. Confronted with the image, the question naturally arises: How could Nazi leaders reconcile an ideology of hatred and conquest with the peaceful, joyous spirit of the Christian holiday — much less its celebration of the Jewish-born Christ? 
Here, LIFE.com presents astonishing photos from this unsettling affair, and the equally remarkable story behind them.

life:

The image is chilling, bordering on surreal: On December 18, 1941, as World War II rages and countless innocents endure the horrors of the Third Reich’s “final solution” — killing operations at the Chełmno death camp, for instance, began less than two weeks before — Adolf Hitler presides over a Christmas party in Munich.

Stark, jarring swastika armbands offset the glint of ornaments and tinsel dangling from a giant Tannenbaum; festive candles illuminate the scene. Confronted with the image, the question naturally arises: How could Nazi leaders reconcile an ideology of hatred and conquest with the peaceful, joyous spirit of the Christian holiday — much less its celebration of the Jewish-born Christ?

Here, LIFE.com presents astonishing photos from this unsettling affair, and the equally remarkable story behind them.

1,493 notes