Margot Wolk was no Nazi, but she was one of 15 young women who were employed at Adolf Hitler's heavily guarded Prussian "Wolf's Lair" headquarters during World War II. Her job was to taste the Nazi leader's food before it reached his lips, to make sure it wasn't poisoned.
She was the only one to survive. All her colleagues were rounded up and shot by the advancing Red Army in January 1945. Now a frail 96-year-old widow, Margot Wolk (inset), has overcome feelings of shame and broken seven decades of silence about her time as Hitler's food taster to tell her story to German television.
"The food was always vegetarian," she told Berlin's RBB TV channel, for a programme about her harrowing and sometimes horrific experiences, which was aired on Tuesday.
"There were constant rumours that the British were out to poison Hitler. He never ate meat. We were given rice, noodles, peppers, peas and cauliflower," she recalled. But she added: "Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up. Then we had to wait an hour, and every time we were frightened that we were going to be ill. We used to cry like dogs because we were so glad to have survived."
"The security was so tight that I never saw Hitler in person. I only saw his Alsatian dog, Blondi," Ms Wolk recalled.
Security was draconian, but one night she was raped by an SS officer. By late 1944, the Red Army was advancing. Ms Wolk was helped to escape by a friendly SS officer. She was found a place on a train used by the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and fled to a Berlin in ruins. Berlin capitulated to the Russian army in May 1945. But the horror of the war did not end for Margot Wolk.
"We tried to dress up as old women, but the Russians came for me and the other girls all the same," she recalled in the programme. "They cut open our dresses and dragged us into a doctor's flat. We were held there and raped for 14 days. It was hell on earth. The nightmare never goes away."
Ms Wolk was left unable to bear children. "I always wanted a daughter. When I reached 50, I thought, if had a daughter, she would be 25 now. But sadly that never happened," she said.(©Independent News Service)