Traudl Junge was only twenty two years old when she became one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries. This was in 1942.
The secretaries had little work to do and one of their duties was to dine with Hitler to keep him amused, keep his mind off the war for a short while and of course, to supply him with an audience.
Initially Traudl found her boss to be rather charming and pleasant company. This was to change as the war progressed and as she discovered more about the Nazi regime.
Periodically Hitler and his entourage, which included his secretaries, would spend time at the Berghof, the fuhrer’s country home in the Alps. Life was more comfortable there due to the presence of Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun.
The lunch party would assemble in the living room where casual conversation would take place. Traudl describes Hitler on these occasions as being rather like a genial country host. There would often be several guests in addition to the residents.
An orderly would announce that lunch was ready and the party would make its way to the luxurious dining room. On the first occasion Traudl lunched with Hitler she was relived to discover that she and the other guests were not expected to follow his diet.
Adolf Hitler was vegetarian
Guests would eat meals such as marinated beef with vegetables and salads whilst their fuhrer dined on gruel, muesli and vegetable juices. During the meals, Hitler would often say how difficult it was to find good vegetarian food. His mistress, Eva Braun was openly scathing of Hitler’s diet.
Conversation at lunchtimes would be relaxed, trivial and cheerful. Hitler would tell stories from his youth and tease his guests. Hard for us to imagine. Politics and the war were rarely mentioned. But Hitler did have one subject that he spoke about often — his vegetarianism.
He would try to put the meat-eaters off their food by describing the appalling conditions in abattoirs. His graphic descriptions of what happened to the animals ‘through from pig to sausage’ would cause some guests to push their plates to one side.
Implying that his guests would not eat meat if they too had seen the goings on in an abattoir he would say “I can happily watch carrots and potatoes being pulled up, eggs collected from the hen house and cows milked.”
His regular dining companions, such as Traudl, had heard his abattoir speech so often that it washed over them but first-time guests were often put off their hearty, meaty meals.
How strange that the man who sent people to their deaths by the thousand tried to convert people to vegetarianism and lectured them about animal welfare.
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