The Full Wiki

Erich Kempka: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Erich Kempka

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Erich Kempka.

SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Erich Kempka (16 September 1910 – 24 January 1975) served as Adolf Hitler's chauffeur from 1934. He was member #2803 of the Allgemeine-SS.




Early life

Kempka was born in Oberhausen to a miner with ten children. Kempka's paternal grandparents were of Slavic descent, and were considered Ruhrpolen. He worked as a mechanic for the automotive manufacturer DKW.

Nazi career

Kempka joined the Nazi Party on 1 April 1930 as member #225-639. Two years later, he was one of eight founding members of the SS-Begleit-Kommando.

He served as chauffeur for Josef Terboven until 29 February 1932, when, based on Terboven's recommendation, he was tasked as a reserve driver for Hitler's personal entourage. In 1934, he replaced Julius Schreck and Emil Maurice as Hitler's primary chauffeur, valet and bodyguard. That same year he was present at the arrest of Ernst Röhm.

On 1 December 1937, he joined the Lebensborn society. He was also awarded a Totenkopfring from Heinrich Himmler. His wife Gerda (born Daranowski) divorced him and married General Eckard Christian, whom she divorced in 1946.

In 1945, as the end of the Third Reich drew near, Kempka accompanied Hitler to the Reich Chancellery and then the Führerbunker. On 20 April, ten days before Hitler's suicide, he briefly wished the Führer a happy birthday and spent about fifteen minutes with him.

Kempka's signature.

Kempka was one of those responsible for burning Hitler's body. He was detailed on the afternoon of 30 April to deliver 200 litres of gasoline to the garden outside the bunker, but was only able to obtain 180. He left the bunker on the following day. After his escape, he came across Standartenführer (Colonel) Georg Betz (Hitler's personal co-pilot and Hans Baur's substitute) and left him in the care of Kaethe Hausermann. On 20 June, he was captured by U.S. troops at Berchtesgaden.

According to The Last Days Of Adolf Hitler, H. R. Trevor-Roper, p. 128, Betz was last observed in the area of the Weidendammer Bridge as part of the group which left the Fuehrerbunker during the evening of May 1, 1945. Nothing further has been heard from him since Kempka's last sighting. Betz's ultimate fate remains unknown, but he is assumed to have died in the area of the bridge.

Historical reliability

Despite claims made to the contrary during his interrogation, Kempka later admitted that when Hitler and Eva Braun locked themselves in a room to commit suicide, he lost his nerve and ran out of the Führerbunker, returning only after Hitler and Braun were dead. By the time he returned to the bunker, Hitler and Braun's bodies were already being carried upstairs for cremation.

Despite his questionable reliability, many interviewers quote Kempka in their accounts of Hitler's suicide because of his colorful (and raunchy) language. For example, one interviewer, O'Donnell, recounted the following quips in his book, The Bunker:

  • He referred to General Hermann Fegelein as having "his brains in his scrotum". (Fegelein was executed by Hitler for trying to desert Berlin with his mistress.)
  • He remarked that when Magda Goebbels was around Hitler, you could "hear her ovaries rattling". (Magda Goebbels was said to be quite attached to Hitler psychologically.)
  • When Martin Bormann carried Eva Braun's corpse out of the bunker, Kempka took the body from him and insisted on carrying it up himself, remarking that Bormann was carrying Braun "like a sack of potatoes". (Bormann and Braun had a mutual dislike.)

At the Nuremberg trials, Kempka was called to testify because he claimed to have seen Martin Bormann killed by a Soviet anti-tank rocket. He later referred to Eva Braun as "the unhappiest woman in Germany". He was released on 9 October 1947.


Kempka was the subject of Mauri Sariola's 1972 book Kolmannen valtakunnan kuningatar (Queen of the Third Reich).

He died on 24 January 1975, aged sixty-four, in Freiberg am Neckar.

Kempka retained his association with the "Führer-Begleit-Kommando" by attending reunions of 1st SS Panzer Korps members until the year before his death. His memoirs first appeared in 1951 under the title Ich habe Adolf Hitler verbrannt (I cremated Adolf Hitler). In 1975, it was reissued with a foreword by author and former member of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Erich Kern under the less sensationalist title Die letzten Tage mit Adolf Hitler (The Last Days with Adolf Hitler). An English edition of the book will be published early in 2010 by Frontline Books, under the title I was Hitler's Chauffeur: The Memoirs of Erich Kempka, with an introduction by Roger Moorhouse.

At the 2008 military trial for Osama bin-Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, the defense argued for his innocence, noting that Kempka was not tried as a war criminal for being a chauffeur for Hitler.[1]

Portrayal in the media

Erich Kempka was portrayed by Jürgen Tonkel in the 2004 German film Downfall (Der Untergang).[1]

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address