Erich Kempka

Erich Kempka ( Oberhausen , 16 of September of 1910 – Freiberg am Neckar , 24 of January of 1975 ) was one of the drivers of Hitler, work that realized between 1934 and 1945. He was present in the zone of the Chancellery of the Reich the 30 of April 1945, when Hitler committed suicide in the Führerbunker . It was precisely Kempka who provided gasoline for the cremation of Hitler and Eva Braun in the chancery gardens. He was member of SS number 2.803 and also served in the Allgemeine SS .


Kempka was born on September 16, 1910 in Oberhausen , a family of miners with ten children. Kempka’s paternal grandparents were Ruhrpolen (Poles who had emigrated in the Rühr). In his youth he worked as a mechanic for the automaker DKW . 1

Nazi Party

Kempka joined the Nazi Party on April 1, 1930 as member number 225,639; Served as chauffeur of Josef Terboven until February 29, 1932, when, based on Terboven’s recommendations, he was charged as a reserve driver for Hitler’s personal entourage. 2

Kempka became one of the original members of the squad of eight known as SS-Begleitkommando des Führers n. 1 assigned to Hitler’s protection. 1 In 1934 he was present at the arrest of Ernst Röhm . Two years later, in 1936, he replaced Julius Schreck as Hitler’s chief driver and chief of his fleet of vehicles. 2 Normally, Kempka was driving one of the Mercedes cars from the fleet of 6-8 vehicles that were stationed in Berlin, Munich and elsewhere. Unless he was in the company of some important person, Hitler would sit in front of Kempka, while his assistant sat behind them. 3 In the entourage, Hitler’s car was followed by a second car with SS bodyguards; They were followed by a police car, a car with their helpers and their doctor, and finally the vehicles of the representatives of press agencies, stenographers and supplies would be accompanied by the entourage. Later Hitler’s car became protected by glass plates and bullet-proof armor. 3

On 1 December 1937 Kempka joined the Lebensborn association . He was decorated with Totenkopfring and SS-Ehrendegen by SS Supreme Commander Heinrich Himmler . During these years Kempka maintained a relationship with Gerda Daranowski , one of the private secretaries of Hitler, although it later married an officer of the Luftwaffe , on 2 February 1943. 4

Fall of Berlin

In 1945, as the end of the ” Third Reich ” approached, Kempka accompanied Hitler to the Reich Chancellery and finally to the Führerbunker . By then, he supervised a fleet of 40 vehicles, 60 drivers and mechanics. 2 On April 20, ten days before Hitler committed suicide, Kempka briefly accompanied the Fuehrer for about fifteen minutes, and congratulated him on his birthday anniversary.

Kempka was one of those responsible for the cremation of the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun after both committed suicide, on the afternoon of April 30, 1945. 5 The bodyguard of Hitler, Otto Günsche , were contacted by phone and Kempka He had asked her to get all the petrol she could get and take her to the Führerbunker’s emergency exit . 6 Kempka and his men managed to carry about eight or ten barrels of gasoline with about 180 or 200 liters in all. 7 8 9 The lifeless bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were taken up the stairs to the bunker’s emergency exit, and then taken to the Chancery’s garden where they would be incinerated. 10 Subsequently, the SS guards brought more gas cans to continue cremation of the bodies. eleven

Kempka left the bunker complex the following night, on 1 May, along with SS-Hauptscharführer Heinrich Doose, one of the drivers under his orders. His group went down to the underground railway tunnels and reached the Friedrichstrasse station . 12 Around 02:00 h. They found another escape group, although in the middle of that Kempka and others were wounded by the explosion of a howitzer. 13

Kempka and others followed the railroad tracks in the hope of getting to Lehrter Station . There they met some foreign workers hiding in a shed, where the Germans took advantage to get rid of their uniforms and put on civilian clothes. 14 Then a group of Soviet soldiers discovered them. A Yugoslav girl who had provided civilian clothes to Kempka told the Soviets that Kempka was her husband; The Red Army soldiers urged the group to join them and drink vodka to celebrate the victory. Later this group of soldiers left the zone. 15 In the following days the Yugoslav girl took him through the Soviet checkpoints and on May 30, Kempka arrived in Wittenberg. 16 In Munich she obtained new identity papers from a German girl who was employed by the allies as an interpreter. From there he continued to Berchtesgaden . 16 However, on 20 June Kempka was captured by US troops in Berchtesgaden, who held him in captivity until October 9, 1947. 2 He was the first of Hitler’s assistants who could confirm to the Americans the death of Adolf Hitler . 17

Historical reliability

Despite having stated otherwise during his interrogation, Kempka later admitted that when Hitler and Eva Braun locked themselves in their Führerbunker room to commit suicide , he was not near the scene; In fact, he was present after that fact took place. By the time he reached the interior of the bunker, the bodies of Hitler and Braun had already been taken out of the room where they had committed suicide. Apparently, once Kempka entered the Führerbunker , he took the lifeless body of Eva Braun that was given to him by Martin Bormann and took him during the half-way up the stairs, before giving it to Günsche, who took Braun outside Of the bunker outlet and placed it on the garden floor next to Hitler’s corpse so that both were burned. 17 18

Despite the questionable reliability of some aspects of his story, 19 many journalists and researchers cite Kempka in his work on Hitler’s suicide because of its colorful (and obscene) language.


Kempka maintained during the restuo of his life the relation with the Führerbegleitkommando attending meetings of the old members of the I Panzer SS Body . In 1951 he published his memoirs, Ich habe Adolf Hitler verbrannt (“I burned Hitler”).

Kempka died on January 24, 1975, at the age of 64, in Freiberg am Neckar . 2

Explanatory notes

  1. Back to top↑ Later this unit would be renamed as Führerbegleitkommando (FBK).


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b Kempka, 2010 , p. 9.
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Joachimsthaler, 1999 , p. 282.
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b Dietrich, 2010 , p. 138f.
  4. Back to top↑ Hamilton, 1984 , p. 141.
  5. Back to top↑ Joachimsthaler, 1999 , pp. 154, 160-182, 282.
  6. Back to top↑ Kershaw, 2008 , p. 954.
  7. Back to top↑ Joachimsthaler, 1999 , p. 210.
  8. Back to top↑ Kershaw, 2008 , p. 957.
  9. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , pp. 76, 77.
  10. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , pp. 77-80.
  11. Back to top↑ Joachimsthaler, 1999 , pp. 210, 212.
  12. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , p. 93.
  13. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , pp. 95-99.
  14. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , p. 98.
  15. Back to top↑ Kempka, 2010 , pp. 98, 99, 100.
  16. ↑ Jump to:a b Kempka, 2010 , p. 101.
  17. ↑ Jump to:a b Joachimsthaler, 1999 , p. 147.
  18. Back to top↑ Kershaw, 2008 , p. 956.
  19. Back to top↑ Joachimsthaler, 1999 , pp. 148, 149, 164, 165.