A woman who served as Adolf Hitler’s food taster has claimed that the Führer was a dedicated vegetarian.Margot Woelk, 95, said that Hitler ate only the freshest fruit and vegetables during the two and a half years that she was forced to check his food for traces of poison.
During the Second World War, Mrs Woelk, a German citizen whose husband had been sent to fight, was taken by the SS to Hitler’s Eastern Front headquarters in modern-day Poland, known as the “Wolf’s Lair”.
There, she joined a team of a dozen other women whose job it was to protect Hitler from any attempts to poison him.
She said: “Between 11 and 12 o’clock, we had to taste the food, and only after all of us had tried it was it driven to the headquarters by the SS.
“It was all vegetarian, the most delicious fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice and salads. It was all arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him. There was no meat and I do not remember any fish.
“Of course I was afraid. If it had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it, we had no choice.”
Hitler’s apparent enthusiasm for vegetarianism reflected the Nazi obsession with Aryan bodily purity.
A Hitler Youth manual from the 1930s promoted soya beans, which it called “Nazi beans” as an alternative to meat.
In 1942, Hitler told Joseph Goebbels that he intended to convert Germany to vegetarianism when he won the war.
But although he referred to meat broth as “corpse tea”, he was not fastidious about declining meat. Dione Lucas, his cook before the war, claimed that he was a fan of stuffed pigeon and he was also known to be partial to Bavarian sausages and the occasional slice of ham.
His table manners also came under scrutiny. In a secret diary, one German soldier wrote: “Hitler eats rapidly, mechanically. He abstractedly bites his fingernails, he runs his index finger back and forth under his nose, and his table manners are little short of shocking.”
Hitler spent 800 days at the Wolf’s Lair between 1941 and November 1944, when he abandoned it as the Russians approached.
Mrs Woelk is believed to be the only surviving member of Hitler’s food tasting team.
Shortly before his camp fell to the Russians, she was smuggled out and helped back to Berlin by a sympathetic soldier.
“He put me on Goebbels’s train and I got out,” she said. It is thought that the other women with whom she worked were shot by the Russians.
In 1946, Mrs Woelk was reunited with her husband, Kurt, whom she had presumed dead. The couple lived together until his death in 1990.
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