Woelk was one of 15 women the SS kept to taste the Fuhrer's meals at his "Ostfront" HQ in modern-day Poland.
The Daily Mail
reports that she moved from Berlin in 1942 to the East Prussian village of Gross Partsch, now Parcz in modern-day Poland, after her flat in Berlin was bombed. Her husband Kurt had been sent to war and she went to live with her mother-in-law in the countryside. But the SS "picked her up" soon after she arrived there and forced her to join Hitler's team of tasters.
According The Telegraph
, the SS took Woelk to Hitler's Eastern Front headquarters known as the "Führerhauptquartier Werwolf,"
where she joined a team of 14 other women brought there to taste Hitler's food for poison.
The term "Werwolf" means "Wolf's Lair."
She told The Times
: "Of course I was afraid. If it [the food] had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it, we had no choice. Between 11 and 12 o'clock, we had to taste the food, and only after all 15 of us had tried it was it was driven to the headquarters by the SS."
reports she said: "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."
According to the Daily Mail
, Woelk said she was not required to taste Hitler's drinks.
She explained that there was always about an hour's delay before Hitler ate the meal. The hour's delay presumably gives enough time for the effects of any poison in the food to be observed. The Mirror
reports that the 15 women who tasted the Fuhrer's food were kept away from him. The food was driven to him after all of them had tried it.
Woelk said she was required to report everyday at the HQ. She was allowed to live with her mother-in-law until Claus von Stauffenberg's unsuccessful assassination attempt with a briefcase bomb in July 1944. Following the incident, she was kept in a school building and could see her mother-in-law only during weekends, with eagle-eyed SS officers watching.
According to The Mirror
, Woelk said she lived in fear of being poisoned but fortunately it appears there was never an assassination attempt on Hitler through food poisoning. She had no choice about it. She was forced to sample the Fuhrer's meals. She said: "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 enthusiasm for vegetarianism may reflect his ideological obsession with Aryan "purity," The Telegraph
suggests. A Hitler Youth manual from the 1930s reportedly promoted soya beans as meat substitute. The manual referred to soya beans as "Nazi beans."
Hitler reportedly told Goebbels in 1942 that he planned to convert Germany to vegetarianism after he had won the war.
Although the Fuhrer professed vegetarianism and referred to meat broth contemptuously as “corpse tea," he did not always refuse meat in his diet. His strict adherence to a vegetarian diet appears to have developed while he lived at the Werwolf
in East Prussia. His cook before the war Dione Lucas said Hitler loved stuffed pigeon, Bavarian sausages and an occasional slice of ham.
There have also been witness accounts of Hitler's table manners. According to The Telegraph
, a 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 Werwolf
. He abandoned it in November 1944, as Russian forces advanced.
Woelk said she escaped from the HQ soon after Hitler left. A senior officer smuggled her on board Joseph Goebbels' train. She said: "He put me on Goebbels’s train and I got out."
She is the only surviving member of the Fuhrer's team of food tasters. She fears the other women may have been shot by the Russians.
Mrs Woelk was reunited with her husband, Kurt in 1946. She had presumed him dead. The couple lived together until Kurt's death in 1990, the Daily Mail
reports Mrs Woelk now lives alone in the West Berlin apartment where she was born in 1917. Over the years she kept her painful memories of the war to herself and refused to talk about it. But friends finally persuaded her.