Goebbels was a coward: former secretary spills wartime secrets

After 60-year silence, 100-year-old speaks out about the boss she will never forgive


The 100-year-old former personal secretary to Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels has spoken out about her time with one of the most infamous Nazi war criminals after remaining silent on the subject for more than six decades.

Brunhilde Pomsel, who worked for Goebbels for the last four years of the Second World War and often allowed his six children to play with her typewriter, spoke to Germany's Bild newspaper from her home in Munich after taking five months to decide whether to be interviewed.

Looking extremely frail, and wearing a bright red cardigan and thick spectacles, Ms Pomsel was pictured in her apartment in the Munich suburb of Schwabing. She recalled how, after being bombed out, she was given dresses by Goebbels' wife Magda and said she visited the top Nazi's island villa on a Berlin lake, where she dined on roast goose.

However, Ms Pomsel said she did not like or admire her former employer: "He was unapproachable!" she said. "He never asked me a personal question. He had no idea what my name was right up until the very end." Ms Pomsel's attitude differed from that of other secretaries employed by the regime to work with senior Nazis. Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, who died in 2002, admitted to being fascinated by her employer. "He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend," she said. Her autobiography formed the basis of the 2004 film Downfall about the final days in Hitler's Berlin bunker.

Goebbels shot his wife and then killed himself in Hitler's bunker in the spring of 1945 as the Red Army was invading Berlin. Magda Goebbels poisoned her children beforehand with cyanide pills. Ms Pomsel's described Goebbels' suicide as "cowardly". "He took the easy way out. He should have been sentenced to death but he was too cunning not to realise what would happen to him."

Although Goebbels masterminded the Nazi regime's virulently anti-Semitic propaganda machine, Ms Pomsel told Bild that she only learned about the Holocaust when she was released from captivity five years after the end of the war. "I was a stupid and politically disinterested nobody from a simple background," she said.

She said she arrived in Goebbels' office in 1942 and joined three other secretaries who were already working for him. "I was forced to work there. The only way I could have refused would have been to claim that I had an infectious disease. It was an order," she said. Brunhilde Pomsel spent the last 10 days and nights of the war in the cellars of Goebbels' ministry of propaganda taking cover from Soviet artillery shells.

On 1 May 1945, she was informed of Goebbels' suicide. "The Russians then came and drove us out of the cellar," she said. Ms Pomsel spent the next five years as a prisoner in the former Nazi concentration camps of Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen that had been hastily converted by the Russians into detention centres for captured Nazis. She was finally allowed out in 1950.

She went on to work as a secretary for regional radio before joining Germany's main broadcasting station ARD in Munich. "I never believed I would ever be able to live a happy life," she told Bild. "I will never forgive Goebbels for what he did to the world or for the fact that he murdered his innocent children."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing