What Life Was Really Like As Hitler's Food Taster

It's a scene repeated ad nauseam in World War II films. "I'd hardly arrived when the SS showed up at the door and demanded, 'Come with us!'" Margo Wölk's recollections of her experiences, which she recounted to the German magazine Der Spiegel, diverge from most, because she wasn't vanished off to a camp. Rather, shortly after the 24-year-old secretary had left Berlin for Gross-Partsch, an East Prussian village now called Parcz, in Poland, she was chosen to serve as one of Adolf Hitler's food tasters.

On mornings when Hitler was at the Wolf's Lair, his Eastern Front Headquarters, an SS officer would come by her window at 8 A.M and shout "Margot, get up!" She'd get up, trudge to the Wolf's Lair, and test a small portion of whatever meal Hitler was supposed to consume, which were always vegetarian. She never met him, though considering the fact that she refused to join the League of German Girls and her father had been dragged away for refusing to join the Nazis, she didn't want to, anyway. She despised the man, but still had to check for poison: "That Hitler was a really repugnant man. And a pig."

After Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg's failed assassination attempt in 1944, all the food tasters were moved into a school to separate them from outside manipulation. However, when the Soviet Army continued its advance, a lieutenant put Margot on a train to escape. The rest of the food tasters were shot.

Every supper is your last

A local journalist paid Margo Wölk a visit on her 95th birthday. At the time, no one had heard of this story of young women testing Hitler's food. Besides simply being in close proximity with the Führer, the tension they experienced, a part of which was quoted by the BBC, was immense: "Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up. Then we had to wait an hour, and every time we were frightened that we were going to be ill. We used to cry like dogs because we were so glad to have survived." The SS officers would wait, just in case one of the girls suddenly died. When they didn't — as far as anyone knows, none of them ever were poisoned — they brought the food to Hitler. Each day, a set of girls would have decadently prepared meals consisting of white asparagus with sauce and real butter, a luxury in a war-torn country suffering from food scarcity. But since the food was for the Führer, they only ever got to eat a bite: "The food was good — very good. But we couldn't enjoy it." 

Over the seven decades since, she was still haunted by these nightmares. And if she had not broke her silence in 2012, the world might never have heard about Hilter's food tasters. Margo Wölk died a couple years later, in 2014.