The "strange mixture of suppressed hysteria and fatalism" evident in Berlin at Christmas 1944 gave way by April to "febrile exhaustion, terrible foreboding and despair," and later that same month "a sense of nightmare unreality pervaded the city as it awaited its doom." Berliners "now referred to their city as the 'Reichsscheiterhaufen' -- the 'Reich's funeral pyre.'"
In Berlin, as the Red Army drew near, young German soldiers became "desperate to lose their virginity" and found willing companions in German girls who "preferred to give themselves to almost any German boy first than to a drunken and probably violent Soviet soldier." As Beevor puts it, "the aphrodisiac effect of mortal danger is hardly an unknown historical phenomenon," a point underscored by the goings-on in the Reich Chancellery, where, an eyewitness reported, "an erotic fever seemed to have taken possession of everybody" and SS officers were "locked in lascivious embraces" with girls they had lured off the street. It was "the apocalypse of totalitarian corruption," Beevor writes, "with the concrete submarine of the Reich Chancellery underworld providing an Existentialist theater set for hell."
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