She was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s food taster, press-ganged into testing every morsel the Fuhrer was about to eat in case plotters tried to kill him via the kitchen.
The women doing the job cried after every meal, so convinced were they that this would be the method the British would use.
Hitler was convinced too and refused to eat meat, sticking instead to rice, noodles, peppers, peas and cauliflower.
At 96, Margot is the last surviving member of the so-called “poison brigade” of women who carried out the grisly task.
Unbeknown to her, she has been the only one for a very long time.
In a unique documentary on German television called ‘Hitler’s Food Taster’, Margot told how in 1942, she was forced to flee her house in Berlin after an RAF bomb tore off the roof off her apartment building.
She arrived in Gross Partsch, in what is now Poland, in September 1942. It was then East Prussia and she had no idea that barely six miles from her new home with her in-laws was a place called Rastenburg where Hitler had set up his eastern front HQ in mosquito-infested woodland.
It was known as Wolfschanze, the Wolf’s Lair, the most heavily defended and camouflaged few acres of real estate on earth where the increasingly-paranoid Fuehrer direced his “war without rules” in the east.
Within a week of her arrival, Margot Woelk was on Hitler’s payroll testing his food.
“I had to test his food for poison,” she said at the same apartment in Berlin which she left in 1942- the apartment which she was born in and which she returned to when the war was finally over.
Hitler would only have “good German stock” testing his food so she was rounded up by the S.S., driven off on a bus and told to eat Hitler’s lunch every day before he did.
She added: “I ended up on the doorstep of the one they called Der Chef!
“The S.S. came for me that day. They told me I would be paid, I think it was around 300 Reichmarks.”
She added: “We boarded a bus with these S.S. thugs on board and drove to house 11 kms away and there were 14 other young women around my age there, all from the locality, all Germans.
“‘You will eat the dishes which have been prepared for the Fuehrer and his staff each day between 11.00am and noon before it is served,'” said the S.S. adjutant assigned to Hitler.
“And that became my job. I felt like a lab rabbit. But if you learned one thing about life in Nazi Germany, it was that you didn’t argue with the S.S.”
Hitler, a faddy vegetarian who rarely drank, had a cook called Frau Manzialy from his native Austria who oversaw the daily menus.
For Margot, who had become used to rationed food such as coffee made from roasted acorns, sawdust bread and fatty margarine, the food now being put before her was heaven-sent.
She remembers: “Well, the food was simply wonderful.
“The freshest of vegetables, the best fruit. I shoved to the back of my mind that it might be poisoned because it all tasted so nice.
“Besides, there were so many checkpoints around the area, and so many S.S. men supervising everything, I failed to see how someone could sneak in and poison him.
“I remember no meat or fish, just vegetables, although I read after the war that his vegetarianism was supposed to be phoney and he ate both from time to time.
“We all sat, all of us girls, around a big table and we each received a plateful of what was being served that day.
“There was asparagus in season once with a wonderful Hollandaise sauce I remember. Then there were vegetable broths with little semolina dumplings, roasted red peppers, rice, salads, and vegetable stews once a week – the so called ‘one pot meals’ which the Reich asked all its citizens to eat at least once a week.
“It wasn’t like we were given a spoonful or a forkful. We were given plates of the stuff to eat
“Only after we had eaten did the S.S. commander of the day give instructions for the food to be boxed up and driven over to the compound inside the Wolf’s Lair.
“And this was my life, five days a week. I never actually got to meet Hitler but I saw him in the field near the house where he played with Blondi, his Alsatian dog.
“He would bend down and throw stricks for her. He was devoted to her.”
Hitler would end up ordering his adjutant to kill Blondi with the same kind of cyanide he would give to his bride Eva Braun to take on the day he and she committed suicide on April 30 1945.
Added Margot: “Rastenburg and the entire region was an armed camp, you can imagine.
“This was the centre of absolute power in Europe. But it was a boring, rigid life in most ways. I was a city girl, I missed Berlin, and I missed my husband.
“But you never really knew how the war was going, just the propaganda from the newspapers.”
On July 20 1944 she and the other young women had tested Hitler’s luncheon and had been invited by some soldiers to watch a black and white movie in a tent set up as a makeshift cinema, when there was an ear splitting explosion that almost threw her off her seat and temporarily deafened her.
She had heard the blast of a bomb planted by army officer Count Claus von Schenk Stauffenberg who had flown back to Berlin shortly after it detonated to initiate a coup against Hitler and his Nazi regime.
Unfortunately, the bomb was designed to go off inside a concrete bunker where the concussion blast would certainly have ended the Fuehrer’s life.
But Hitler had ordered the military conference that day to take place in a wooden barracks – and the bomb in a briefcase detonated behind the thick oak leg of the map table.
Hitler was spared and his vengeance against the plotters terrible.
Recalled Margot: “Things changed for us girls overnight.
“Until then I had spent every night with my in-laws, but the paranoia of Hitler now
demanded that we would become virtual prisoners.
“We were shipped off to an empty school building and put into dormitory beds and only allowed to go home at weekends.
“We were guarded by S.S. the whole time and they were really jittery.
“By the autumn the rumours were swirling that things were not going well on the eastern front. The the Red Army was on its way. And there were stories of atrocities….
“I had made a very good friend in one Oberleutnant Gerhard La Grange, a proper army officer, not an S.S. man.
“He said to me: ‘Get out while you can Margot. The Russians are on their way and I don’t think things will go well for anyone who worked for the Fuehrer.’
“I made contact with my mother’s old doctor in Berlin. He said he would sign me off sick with a serious illness.
“Goebbels, the propaganda minister, was in residence at the Wolf’s Lair when I decided to leave.
“I packed some suitcases and headed for the station and sat for eight hours in a civilian coach attached to his train back to Berlin.
“I had to go underground. The S.S. were looking for me because I had no authorisation to leave. I hid in the doctor’s house; he saved my life.”
But there was one terrible ordeal for her to endure before peace would come, an ordeal suffered by tens of thousands of German women – rape.
Rape was a tool of war for the Red Army, condoned by Stalin and practiced without mercy on German women.
It was payback for 27 million Soviet deaths in WW2 and women were to pay the bill for Hitler’s crimes.
“I was sheltering in the doctor’s air raid shelter when they came for me,” said Margot, her eyes misty with tears at the memory of what happened.
“I tried to say I had TB, that I was infected. It did no good. They held me for 14 days and nights and raped me.
“They were drunk. They gave me liquor too and I drank it to blot out the memory of what happened.
“After they finished I was never able to conceive. My husband and I wanted children so much…”
But at least she was reunited with her husband again. He was not killed on the eastern Front with the German Army but had fallen into Russian hands and spent two years in a POW camp .
Margot said: “On March 27, 1946, I opened the door to a man in uniform with a bandage on his head I didn’t recognise.
“It was him. We held each other for a long time and we went on to have 45 good years together before he was taken from me.
“He was heartbroken by what those Russian pigs did to me. But we had each other. We had survived.”
But only just.
After the war she met Oberleutnant La Grange – the man who told her to flee the Wolf’s lair – and he had some startling news for her.
He told her: “You were lucky to get away. The Russians shot all the other girls. They are all dead.”