There were few better pilots in the Third Reich than Hanna Reitsch, and none more loyal to its leader, Adolf Hitler.
Her flying skills and fanaticism were fully displayed on the night of April 26, 1945, when Reitsch landed her small Fieseler Storch plane on a makeshift airstrip on the Tiergarten in the centre of war-ravaged Berlin.
Accompanied by General von Greim, the head of the Luftwaffe, Reitsch made her way to Hitler's bunker, where she found a scene of chaos.
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Drunken Wehrmacht officers caroused with secretaries, while nearby artillery shells provided a rumbling background soundtrack of impending doom.
According to most accounts, Reitsch's mission was little more than an expression of her complete devotion to her Fuhrer.
The Hitler she found in the dying days of the war was not a well man, his gait shuffling, his face lined, his body coursing with a noxious torrent of prescribed drugs.
She expressed a wish to die alongside her ailing hero in an epic scene of Wagnerian drama.
But Hitler insisted that the fight was not over, and that although his body was weak, his will still radiated the same power as it had back in the 1930s.
Hitler informed the 33-year-old pilot that her next task would be the most important she would ever perform - she was going to help him escape.