This article is an attempt to present an episode from the private life of Karl Hanke, the Gauleiter of Lower Silesia in 1940–1945. His love affair with Magda Goebbels, wife of the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda, evidenced in source materials – the diaries of major participants in Nazi Germany’s political and cultural life – led to the end of his brilliant career in Berlin. The emotional involvement of both lovers was so strong that the issue of a possible divorce was to be decided by the Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, himself. For political and moral reasons the Chancellor refused to give his consent and Karl Hanke was immediately dispatched to a place as distant from Berlin as possible. In January 1940, he arrived in Wrocław, to take up the offi ce of Gauleiter. In comparison to Berlin, for Hanke it meant a fall and a degradation. One of the most infl uential ministers and a protector, friend of such prominent artists as Albert Speer, Lída Baarová, Leni Riefenstahl or Gerdy Troost, and a confi dant to Joseph Goebbels, whom he eventually betrayed – had to fi nd his way in Wrocław’s wartime reality. In this article I propose a hypothesis that the defence of Festung Breslau was an act of Hanke’s personal revenge on the city for his exile from Berlin and showed symptoms of “a march of folly”.
Key words: Karl Hanke, Magda Goebbels, Festung Breslau
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