Margot Woelk was one of 15 young women forced to work at Adolf Hitler's Wolf's Lair headquarters as a food taster.

Margot Woelk was one of 15 young women forced to work at Adolf Hitler's Wolf's Lair headquarters as a food taster.

Every meal could have been her last. When they had finished eating the vegetarian dishes, 25-year-old Woelk and her colleagues would burst into tears because they were grateful to be alive.

Woelk was no Nazi, but she was employed at the Fuhrer's heavily guarded Prussian headquarters during World War II. She was the only one to survive. All her colleagues were shot by the advancing Red Army in January 1945.

Now a frail 96-year old widow, Woelk has overcome feelings of shame and broken decades of silence to tell her story to German television.

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"There were constant rumours that the British were out to poison Hitler," she told Berlin's RBB television channel. "He never ate meat. We were given rice, noodles, peppers, peas and cauliflower," she recalled.

Woelk, the daughter of a German railway employee, enjoyed a carefree youth until the Nazis came to power in 1933. She was bombed out of her Berlin apartment in 1941 and her husband Karl drafted into the army, so she sought sanctuary in the East Prussian town of Partsch, which is now Parcz, Poland.

The town was next door to Hitler's Wolf's Lair HQ and the town's mayor forced Woelk to become a food taster. Every day an SS guard picked up the girls in a bus and took them to a school where they had to taste the Nazi leader's meals. "I never saw Hitler in person. I only saw his Alsatian dog, Blondi," Woelk recalled.

Hitler's fears were well founded. On July 20, 1944, a group of German army officers tried to assassinate him by detonating a bomb in the Wolf's Lair. "We were sitting on wooden benches, and suddenly we heard and felt this incredible big bang. We fell off the benches and I heard someone shouting, 'Hitler is dead!' But of course he wasn't."

Nearly 5000 Germans suspected of involvement in the bomb plot were executed and Woelk was forced to move into Hitler's heavily guarded building.

By late 1944, the Red Army was advancing. An SS officer helped Woelk escape. She fled to Berlin, where she was raped by Russian soldiers. A British officer called Norman helped her recover. When he returned to Britain after the war he asked her to join him. But Woelk wanted to wait and find out if her husband Karl was still alive.

In 1946, a weak and injured Karl was released from a Soviet POW camp. The couple tried to live a normal life. But the war had taken a toll. They separated and Karl died 24 years ago. Woelk has lived alone since.