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Erich Kempka

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Erich Kempka
Kempka on phone
Kempka receives yet another call from Gunsche.

Born:

16 September 1910

Died:

24 January 1975 (Aged 64)

Nicknames:

Hitler's driver/chauffeur
Taxi Nazi
Gas Man

Notable for:

Providing the fuel for burning Hitler's body and outdoor barbecues, being replaced by Steiner, being told to shut up by Günsche as the latter was hauling Hitler's body out of the bunker

Portrayed by:

Jürgen Tonkel

Erich Kempka (16 September 1910 – 24 January 1975) was an SS officer and Adolf Hitler's private chauffeur.

Kempka was born in Oberhausen to a miner with ten children. He worked as a mechanic for the automotive manufacturer DKW.

Kempka joined the Nazi Party on 1st of April 1930 as member #225,639. Two years later, he was one of eight founding members of the SS-Begleit-Kommando.

Kempka served as chauffeur for Josef Terboven until 29 February 1932, when, based on Terboven's recommendation, he was tasked as a reserve driver for Hitler's personal entourage. In 1934, he was present at the arrest of Ernst Röhm. In 1936, he replaced Julius Schreck as Hitler's primary chauffeur and chief of his car fleet. As his chaufeur Kempka usually drove one of Hitler's black Mercedes cars from a fleet of six to eight which were stationed in Berlin, Munich and other places. Unless in the company of an important personality, Hitler would sit in the front, next to Kempka, with his valet behind him.

He was also Gerda Christian's first husband, but they divorced at 1943. Kempka resided in the bunker during the last days of Nazi Germany. He provided the gasoline with which the corpses of Hitler and Eva Braun were doused before being set aflame.

The real-life Kempka made some astonishing remarks about his fellow bunker residents:

  • About Hermann Fegelein he said he "had his brains in his scrotum". (Fegelein was a known playboy, and after his marriage to Gretl Braun he had many extramarital affairs.)
  • About Magda Goebbels he said "you could hear her ovaries rattling" when she was around Hitler. (Magda Goebbels was said to be quite attached to Hitler psychologically.)
  • When Martin Bormann carried Eva Braun's corpse out of the bunker, Kempka took the body from him and insisted on carrying it up himself, remarking that Bormann was carrying Braun "like a sack of potatoes". (Bormann and Braun had a mutual dislike.)

At the Nuremberg trials, Kempka was called to testify because he claimed to have seen Martin Bormann killed by a Soviet anti-tank rocket. He later referred to Eva Braun as "the unhappiest woman in Germany". He was released on 9 October 1947. He died on 24 January 1975, aged sixty-four, in Freiberg am Neckar.

In the parodies

In Downfall, Kempka is played by actor Jürgen Tonkel. He appears as a hermit living in the garage due to his character being one of the most laid-back, possibly second behind Koller. His occupation as a chauffeur was largely replaced by Steiner in most parodies; instead Kempka did other kinds of jobs, mostly to answer the phone everytime Günsche uses it. He also gives a hand when they burn Hitler and cook outdoors.

Triva

  • In Downfall, he appears 3 times where he is first believed to appear at Himmler and Fegelein at the garage scene, the second time at Hitler instructs Günsche scene, and finally in Hitler Suicide Scene.
    • He has no lines at all in his first appearance, but then in his second scene, he has about 3 lines total, and finally he has at least about 1 or 2 lines in his third, and final appearance in the movie.
  • In real life, Kempka's house was very close to the Führerbunker in which it was in the garden of the Foreign Ministry during that time period.

Gallery


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