Ernst-Günther Schenck

Ernst-Günther Schenck ( Marburg , 3 of October of 1904 – Aachen , 21 of December of 1998 ) was a medical German who served many functions during the Third Reich both the Wehrmacht and the SS , where he reached the rank of Obersturmbannführer . 1

In his work as a doctor of a hospital in the old Chancellery during the last days of World War II , he met Adolf Hitler , who consulted him about his intention to commit suicide . Due to this encounter, his memories are valuable as a historical document. 2 His memoirs about this period influenced the stories of Joachim Fest and James P. O’Donnell about the last days of Hitler.

Schenck was known by a wider audience thanks to the film Der Untergang , in which he appears as a rational counterpart until the end of the war against the fanaticism of the Nazis. This positive depiction shows only one aspect of the biography of Schenck, who as an SS physician carried out experiments with humans in the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp , in which the inmates died from edema . 3 4

World War II

Schenck was born in Marburg . He graduated as a doctor and enrolled in the SS . During the war , Schenck actively participated in the creation of a large herb planting in the concentration camp of Dachau , which was composed of more than 200,000 medicinal plants, from which were produced, among other things, vitamin supplements for The Waffen SS . In 1940 , Schenck was appointed Nutrition Inspector for the SS. In 1943 , Schenck developed a protein sausage that was sent to troops on the battle front. Prior to its approval, it was tested on 370 prisoners, some of whom died. In addition, it was related to attempts to develop holistic methods to prevent cancer by Erwin Liek . 5

According to the Oberscharführer Hans Bottger (of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler ), Schenck left his governmental position to go to the Eastern Front in his “learning for the Iron Cross”; However, instead of manipulating the situation to obtain the medal like many others, Schenck was in command of a battery of machine guns after the commander was assassinated. Schenck acted “well” in combat and obtained the second-class Iron Cross . 6

Towards the end of the war, Schenck volunteered to work at an emergency station located in the Chancellery of the Reich in April 1945 near the Führerbunker . Although he was not licensed as a surgeon and lacked experience, in addition to not having the material and the instrumentation needed to operate in battle, he performed about one hundred surgical operations of importance. In the course of these interventions, Schenck was assisted by Dr. Werner Haase , who served as one of Hitler’s personal physicians . While Haase had much more experience in surgery than Schenck, he had tuberculosis and often had to lie down while trying, in vain, to give Schenck advice. Due to the combination of terrible conditions and his own inexperience, after the war, Schenck told O’Donell that he was unable to remember a single German soldier who had operated and survived (he had records of his operations).

In this period, Schenck saw Hitler in person only twice and for a short time: once, when Hitler wanted to thank him for his emergency medical services and another during the “reception” that followed Hitler’s marriage to Eva Braun .


In 1953 he was freed by the Russians . Before writing his memoirs , Schenck was interviewed by O’Donell for his book The Bunker , which records his memories of Hitler’s last days. In his own memoirs, Schenck stated that his only interest was to improve nutrition and fight hunger. However, a report in 1963 condemned Schenck for “using humans as objects, like guinea pigs.” In the Federal Republic of Germany , Schenck was not allowed to continue his medical career. 7

Interpretations in the media

Ernst-Günther Schenck was played by the following actors in films and television:

  • Frank Gatliff in the movie The Bunker ( 1981 ), based on the homonymous book of James O’Donnell.
  • Christian Berkel in the film Der Untergang ( 2004 ), which shows the last ten days of the people who accompanied Hitler in the Führerbunker who stayed with him in Berlin while the Red Army continued its siege to the city.


  1. Back to top↑ Klee, Ernst (2005). Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945 . Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, p. 530.
  2. Back to top↑ Schenck, HG (1995). Sterben ohne Warde: das Ende von Benito Mussolini, Heinrich Himmler und Adolf Hitler , Ars Una.
  3. Back to top↑ “die tageszeitung”, 15.09.2004, “Der Arzt von Berlin”, Artikel von Stefan Reinecke
  4. Back to top↑ Quellensammlung anlässlich des Films “Der Untergang”
  5. Back to top↑ Proctor, Robert N. The Nazi War on Cancer
  6. Back to top↑ Fischer, Thomas (2008). Soldiers of the Leibstandarte , JJ Fedorowicz Publishing, p. 58.
  7. Back to top↑ Cesarani, David. The Massaging of History , The Guardian , April 7, 2005