Armin Dieter Lehmann (23 May 1928 – 10 October 2008), was a Hitler Youth courier in the Führerbunker towards the end of Adolf Hitler's life, leaving shortly after Hitler committed suicide. He spent his life post-war in travel and tourism, writing, and as a peace activist.
Lehmann was born in 1928 in Waldtrudering, a borough of Munich. Lehmann received his education in Germany at Elisabet Gymnasium in Breslau during World War II, and The Journalism School in Munich after the war.
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 Reichsjugendfuehrer 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 Joseph Goebbels 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.
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, including Chinese. He has also produced a documentary film about his experiences as one of Hitler's "boy-soldiers" titled 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."
Lehmann died in Coos Bay, Oregon on 10 October 2008 at 6:55 PM PDT. His wife of 29 years Kim and daughter Angie were at his bedside.
In Hitler's Bunker is also available from the following publishers internationally: El Ateneo (Argentina), Random House (Australia and New Zealand), Nase Vojsko (Czech Republic), Tammeraamat (Estonia), Calmann-Levy (France), Piergiorgio Nicolaazzini (Italy), Jiuzhou Press (China), Pagasus (Turkey), Mainstream (United Kingdom).
An atmospheric recreation of the final days in the bunker may be seen in Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2004 film, Downfall (Der Untergang). It is based on memoirs written by Albert Speer, Traudl Junge, and Siegfried Knappe. It includes a horrific scene of the murder of the Goebbels children, who Lehmann saw frequently playing in the bunker.
In the documentary film, Eyewitness to History, Lehmann notes that two of the girls bore a striking resemblance to two of his sisters.