Woman describes fear as food taster for Hitler
BERLIN — They were feasts of sublime asparagus — laced with fear. And for more than half a century, Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden from the world, even from her husband. Then a few months after her 95th birthday, she revealed the truth about her wartime role: Adolf Hitler's food taster.
Woelk, then in her mid-20s, spent 21⁄2 years as one of 15 young women who sampled Hitler's food to make sure it was not poisoned before it was served to the Nazi leader in his “Wolf's Lair,” the heavily guarded command center in what is now Poland, where he spent much of his time in the final years of World War II.
“He was a vegetarian. He never ate any meat during the entire time I was there,” Woelk said. “And Hitler was so paranoid that the British would poison him — that's why he had 15 girls taste the food before he ate it himself.”
With many Germans contending with food shortages and a bland diet as the war dragged on, sampling Hitler's food had its advantages.
“The food was delicious, only the best vegetables, asparagus, bell peppers, everything you can imagine. And always with a side of rice or pasta,” she recalled. “But this constant fear — we knew of all those poisoning rumors and could never enjoy the food. Every day we feared it was going to be our last meal.”
The petite widow's story is a tale of the horror, pain and dislocation endured by people of all sides who survived World War II.
Only now in the sunset of her life has she been willing to relate her experiences, which she had buried because of shame and the fear of prosecution for having worked with the Nazis, although she insists she was never a party member. She told her story as she flipped through a photo album with pictures of her as a young woman, in the same Berlin apartment where she was born in 1917.
Woelk first revealed her secret to a local Berlin reporter a few months ago. Since then interest in her life story has been overwhelming.
Teachers wrote and asked her for photos and autographs to bring history alive for their students. Several researchers from a museum visited to ask for details about her life as Hitler's taster.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Landmark Ukraine, EU deal ratified
- Poll: ‘No’ leads ‘yes’ in a close Scotland vote on independence from United Kingdom
- In ISIS battle, U.S. wary of strengthening Syria’s Assad
- Islamic State releases video showing execution of British aid worker
- French try to head off video-streaming giant Netflix
- Convict’s wish for assisted suicide OK’d in Belgium
- Aid to Ukraine uncertain as its leader visits U.S.
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike
- With hours before secession vote, many in Scotland undecided
- Russia’s business world rattled by arrest of oil tycoon Yevtushenkov
- Nations urged to follow U.S. example on Ebola