CHICAGO -- Adolf Hitler complained bitterly about aches and pains and needed several drug injections just to make it through the final days of his Third Reich, a doctor with him in his Berlin bunker said in an interview released Wednesday.
Dr. Ernst Gunther Schenck, a nutritionist for the Nazi army, was brought to the Berlin bunker on April 21, 1945, to stock food for the Third Reich's last stand against the advancing Russian army. He stayed to witness Hitler's physical breakdown and eventual suicide 10 days later.
Schenck, 81, related the last days of Hitler, as viewed through a physician's eyes, in a copyright interview in the Oct. 11 issue of American Medical News, published by the American Medical Association.
'His spine was hunched, his shoulder blades protruded from his bent back, and he collapsed his shoulders like a turtle,' Schenck said of Hitler on his last day. 'He seemed to be carrying a mountain on his shoulders. His eyes, glaring at me painfully, were blood-shot, and the drooping black sacs under the eyes betrayed fatigue and sleeplessness.
'Suddenly, it hit me like a hammer stroke. I was looking at the eyes of death. We all were doomed. I was looking into the eye of death.'
American Medical News National Affairs Editor Dennis L. Breo, who interviewed Schenck for two days through an interpreter, said he found Schenck a sincere man who told his story because of itshistorical and scientific value.
'This doctor's not doing it for money,' Breo said, 'he talked to me because he's a physician, because I'm with the American Medical Association.'
Following his release from Soviet prison, where he spent 10 years after the war, Schenck devoted all his time to examining Hitler's medical records kept by Dr. Theodor Morell, who died in 1948.
Schenck has written a book about his studies, titled 'Patient A - Adolph Hitler and His Private Physician, Professor Theodor Gilbert Morell.' The book is being published by a small German firm, and there are no plans at present to translate it into English, Breo said.
Because Morell was such a meticulous record keeper, noting every drug injection and even saving the needle, Schenck was able to compose a fairly accurate medical picture of the Nazi leader.
It is the portrait of a fallen man.
Before he died, Hitler suffered from Parkinson's disease, advanced heart disease, colitis, anxiety, depression and a host of psychosomatic illnesses brought on by the turning tide of the war.
Hitler did not have syphilis, as is often rumored, Schenck said.
'Hitler was not insane,' Schenck also maintained. 'He had a political obsession that led him to attempt insane things.'
Despite all his ailments, real and imagined, Hitler was an almost impossible patient who complained bitterly and demanded to be coddled. Schenck said Morell did his best to treat a man who refused to undress for exams, who banned X-rays and regular exams, all the time declaring, 'I have never been ill.'
Hitler's claims of health did not prevent him from becoming heavily dependent on drugs.
'Hitler often needed a drug to get to sleep,' Schenck told Breo, 'a drug to help him get through the twice-daily military briefings with generals, a drug to enable him to conduct his notorious monologues on into the night ... a drug to treat persistent colds, and again a drug to help put him back to sleep.'
Morell prescribed 92 different medications in all.
However, Schenck said, 'when the end was near, he no longer needed drugs. At that point, he needed a doctor for only one thing -- to assure his suicide would be swift and sure.'
Although a nutritionist, Schenck was -- out of necessity - performing amputations on mounting German casualties when, at 3 p.m. on April 30, he was told that Hitler had taken a cyanide capsule, put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.