"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Monday, 25 November 2013

Fabricating Hitler’s Death

Fabricating Hitler’s Death
Did Hitler and Eva Braun flee Berlin and die (divorced) of old age in Argentina?

Grey Wolf: Hitler's Escape to Argentina

Adolf Hitler faked his own suicide and fled to Argentina where he lived until a ripe old age, according to extraordinary new claims.


Authors of the new book ‘Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf’ believe evidence of the tyrant’s suicide is flawed – and that he actually escaped in 1945 to begin a new life with his wife, Eva Braun.

But the claims have been ridiculed by leading historian Guy Walters who today branded them ‘2,000 per cent rubbish.’

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler   Eva Braun - girlfriend of Adolf Hitler
 Claims that Adolf Hitler, left, and his partner Eva Braun, right, fled Germany and survived in Argentina have been branded 'utter nonsense' by a leading historian

Hitler and Braun’s ‘flight’ from Berlin is laid out in lavish detail by British authors Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan in their new book. They refute the widely accepted view that the Fuhrer shot himself in his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945, and Braun committed suicide by taking cyanide.
Instead, they claim, there is ‘overwhelming evidence’ to suggest that the couple escaped at the end of the Second World War for a new life in a Nazi-controlled enclave in Fascist Argentina.
Mr Williams and Mr Dunstan go on to state the pair had two daughters before Hitler died in 1962 at the age of 73. Mr Williams, a historian and journalist who has written extensively about the Second World War, told Sky News: ‘We didn’t want to re-write history, but the evidence we’ve discovered about the escape of Adolf Hitler is just too overwhelming to ignore. ‘There is no forensic evidence for his, or Eva Braun’s deaths, and the stories from the eyewitnesses to their continued survival in Argentina are compelling.’

This map shows the route that Hitler and Braun are said to have used to escape from the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin when the Russians were approaching
Escape: This map shows the route that Hitler and Braun are said to have used to escape from the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin when the Russians were approaching

The book also claims American intelligence officials were complicit in the escape, in return for access to war technology developed by the Nazis. It also says that skull fragments thought to be those of Hitler currently held by the Russians are actually that of a young woman under the age of 40. Hitler was 56 when he died.

Mr Williams said he and Mr Dunstan - an author, film-maker and photographer who specialises in military history - carried out their research on the ground in Argentina, interviewing eyewitnesses to Hitler’s presence there.

He added: ‘It’s only now that Argentina is once more a thriving democracy that the real stories are beginning to come out. ‘Even so, two of our eyewitnesses received death threats from persons unknown while working with us on this book.’

The sensational claims have already been ridiculed by historians, including Mr Walters, who has studied Nazi Germany extensively and written a series of books about the war.

He labelled the idea that Hitler lived in South America until the 1960s as the ‘worst sort of junk history’ that relied on ‘dubious secondary sources.’
He said: 'The theory that Hitler survived rubbishes decades of research by proper historians and intelligence officers. 

Hideaway: Decades of research has concluded that Hitler and Eva Braun died at the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, pictured
Hideaway: Decades of research has concluded that Hitler and Eva Braun died at the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, pictured 

New home: Hitler lived until the age of 73 in the foothills of the Andes mountains in Argentina, according to Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler
New home: Hitler lived until the age of 73 in the foothills of the Andes mountains in Argentina, according to Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler

'The two authors should be ashamed of themselves for peddling this kind of utter nonsense. It's simply unbelievable that publishers would give them the time of day.
'It's an absolute disgrace. There's no substance to it at all. It appeals to the deluded fantasies of conspiracy theorists and has no place whatsoever in historical research.

'There have been thousands of theories over the years that Hitler might have escaped but they are nothing more than parlor games.

'The evidence that Hitler was killed in simply overwhelming. For these authors to claim otherwise is simply staggering.' Mr Walters conceded that the authors are right in stating that the skull taken by the Russians was not that of Hitler.
He said: 'There were many people in the bunker and it takes a giant leap of the imagination to get from a museum in Russia to him living a life in Argentina.

'The idea that everybody in the bunker was in on the plan is infeasible. It just would not have happened.

'The whole point of Hitler was that he would die after the war. It was not in his psychology to carry on living in Argentina.'

Joseph Mengele, known as 'The Doctor of Auschwitz' Otto Adolf Eichmann
Nazis: Josef Mengele, known as 'The Doctor of Auschwitz', left, escaped to South America after the War, as did Otto Adolf Eichmann, right

Rochus Misch, 94, Hitler’s former radio operator and the last survivor of the Berlin bunker, says he saw the bodies of ‘the boss’ and Eva Braun with his own eyes. He said: ‘I was in the room next door when he shot himself. I did not hear the shot but I saw his uncovered corpse when the door was opened.

‘I saw Hitler slumped with his head on the table.

‘I saw Eva Braun sitting dead in the corner of the sofa, her head turned to Hitler, her knees pulled up to her chest. She had a dark blue dress on and a white frill on her collar.’

Historians hold him up as a reliable source and he is the author of a book, published several years ago, called The Last Witness.

Grey Wolf focuses on the crucial days in 1945 as the allies closed in on Hitler’s bunker. Mr Williams and Mr Dunstan claim a body double took Hitler’s place and an actress stood in for Eva Braun on April 27. It was at this point that the pair were able to flee Berlin, travelling to Tonder in Denmark before returning to Travemunde in Germany.

From here it is claimed that they flew to a Spanish military base at Reus, south of Barcelona, before General Franco supplied a plane to take them to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. A day later the two fugitives are said to have boarded a U-boat and the two body doubles were executed and their bodies subsequently burned.

The book points to declassified FBI documents which contain references to Hitler having escaped Berlin to begin a new life in South America.

It also includes testimony from the pilot who supposedly flew Hitler and Eva Braun out of Berlin to Mar Del Plata on the Argentinian coast. Here they say he lived in a wooden chalet in a remote village where they survived on the money from looted gold and jewellery.

The book quotes a number of sources, such as cooks and doctors, who claim to have knew the Nazi leader before he died aged 73 on February 13, 1962. They claim that Hitler's bloodline survived through two daughters he had with Braun. If Hitler had escaped to Argentina, he would have been following in the footsteps of his henchmen, Mengele, Eichmann and Barbie who all fled after the war to South America.
It is not the first time that Hitler has been rumoured to have fled to Argentina. Author Abel Basti claimed the same in his 2003 book Hitler In Argentina.
He said Hitler and Braun fled to Argentine shores aboard a submarine and lived for many years in the vicinity of San Carlos de Bariloche, a tourist site and ski haven some 1,000 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. In his book Bariloche Nazi-Guía Turística he reproduced documents, affidavits, photographs and blueprints aimed at steering the reader to the sites that sheltered Hitler and his top henchmen.

He claimed the Incalco Ranch, located in Villa la Angostura on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, was the refuge chosen by Argentine Nazis to hide the couple.
Set amid a pine forest, it could only be reached by boat or hydroplane, and belonged to Argentine businessman Jorge Antonio, one of the most trusted friends of three-times president Juan Domingo Perón.

Basti also claimed Hitler had lived at Hacienda San Ramon, six miles east of Bariloche, which belonged at the time to Schaumberg-Lippe principality.

Did Hitler flee bunker with Eva to Argentina, have two daughters and live to 73?

Though it was approaching midnight in Berlin, the streets were far from dark. On every street, fires raged out of control as the intense and savage Russian artillery bombardment crept closer to the centre of the Third Reich. By that late hour on the night of April 27, 1945, there was not one person in Germany who thought that the Nazis could still win.

Deep in his bunker, even the man who had brought such destruction to his country - indeed, to the world - knew that the war was over. As Adolf Hitler gazed at a portrait of his hero, Frederick the Great, King of Prussia and a brilliant military mind, he was certain there would be no eleventh-hour reversal of fortune.

According to Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun (right) accompanied the Adolf Hitler when he escaped through a secret tunnel from his bunker in Berlin
According to Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun (right) accompanied the Adolf Hitler when he escaped through a secret tunnel from his bunker in Berlin

The so-called ‘miracle weapons’ had never arrived, and his once mighty armies existed more in memory than in flesh and steel. The Führer had three options. He could allow himself to be captured by the Russians; but the humiliation was unthinkable. He could kill himself, but who could possibly replace him? A Fourth Reich would surely rise, and he would be needed to lead it. That left one option: escape.

Everything had been prepared to the last detail by the shady head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller, right down to the clothes worn by the body doubles that would pass for the corpses of Hitler and his intended bride, Eva Braun.

As his office clock struck midnight, Hitler turned to his orderly and nodded. Twenty minutes later, three figures emerged from a secret tunnel connecting the bunker to the surface.

Had any German citizen spotted them, he or she would have been astonished to see the Führer scuttling away like the cowards he so despised. Accompanying him were Eva Braun and her brother-in-law, Hermann Fegelein.

Dodging fires and explosions, the small party made its way to the vast Hohenzollerndamm that ran through the centre of Berlin. Once a fashionable boulevard, it was now a makeshift runway, and on it sat a Junkers-52 transport aircraft, its engines being gunned by Captain Peter Baumgart, an experienced Luftwaffe pilot.

Hitler and his companions climbed aboard the aircraft, and before they could even sit down, Baumgart pushed the throttle forward. Within a minute, the plane soared into the air, heading north.
The Führer refused to look out of the window, unwilling to face the hell he had left behind. He was heading to a new life — and a new world. That life, as it would be for so many other Nazis, would be in Argentina.

There are some who regard Hitler's escape story as the absolute truth
There are some who regard Hitler's escape story as the absolute truth

Hitler’s route there was tortuous, but necessarily so for the most wanted man in the world. After landing in Denmark, he flew to Spain, where General Franco supplied him with an aircraft to take him to the Canary Islands. From there, the Führer took a submarine to the Argentine coast, where he disembarked near the small port of Necochea, some 300 miles south of Buenos Aires.

Hitler would never again set foot outside Argentina. And though his dreams of a new Reich would never be fulfilled, he did at least find some form of domestic happiness by marrying Eva Braun, with whom he had two daughters.

Finally, after 17 years in hiding, one of the most evil men in history died on February 13, 1962, aged 73. It was to his bitter disappointment that his old foe, Winston Churchill, had outlived him.

To most of us, such a story sounds like utter fantasy. But there are some who regard it as the absolute truth. The notion that Hitler escaped from his Berlin bunker has held conspiracy theorists in thrall since the war ended. It has now reared its improbable head once more. This weekend, it emerged that the story of Hitler’s supposed escape to Argentina has become the subject of a bitter plagiarism row.

In their book, Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf Hitler, British authors Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan argued that the Führer escaped exactly in the manner described above, and did indeed see out his days in South America.

However, an Argentine journalist, Abel Basti, who comes from the Patagonian town of Bariloche, where so many Nazis ‘retired’, claims that Williams and Dunstan appropriated his research, and he is seeking compensation. Williams and Dunstan strenuously deny Basti’s accusation.

‘Basti did in no way invent the idea of Hitler being alive in Argentina,’ says Williams. ‘Books on the subject existed as far back as 1953 and 1987. I have never plagiarised anyone’s work.’

To outsiders, the row looks like three bald men fighting over a comb. The idea that Hitler could have escaped - and kept that escape hidden - seems farcical. And yet many continue to believe it. Tens of thousands of Nazis escaped after the war, including the notorious Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele. Is it not possible that Hitler escaped with them?

As Gerrard Williams says, there have been many versions of the Hitler escape story, and they have been spun ever since May 1945. In the years immediately after the war, there was no hard proof that Hitler had, in fact, died. One of the problems that investigators encountered was the lack of any physical evidence for his death.

The existence of skull fragments, found by the Russians near the Fuhrer’s bunker and believed to be his, was not known to the West until 1968. Then, in 2009, DNA testing of the bones revealed that in fact they belonged to a woman. 
 …In the immediate aftermath of the war, British and U.S. intelligence services received countless reports suggesting the former Nazi leader had been spotted alive and at large. In September 1945, it was claimed that Hitler and his private secretary, Martin Bormann, had boarded a luxury yacht in Hamburg and had sailed to a secret island off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein.

The next month, staff at the British Legation in Copenhagen informed the Foreign Office that a Danish woman had told them that a friend had dreamed that Hitler was disguised as a monk and living in Spain.

In December, the Americans were ‘reliably informed’ that Hitler had boarded a submarine off the island of Majorca, where he had been living in a hotel with a group of nuclear scientists. Then there were claims that he was living as a hermit in a cave in Italy, or working as a shepherd in the Swiss Alps. There were those who stated that he’d hidden himself in Antarctica, or even further away still — the Moon! All these reports, no matter how ridiculous, had to be taken seriously and investigated. One after the other, they were found to be groundless.

Some were undoubtedly the products of a Soviet disinformation campaign. For a long time, the Russians believed that the Allies were sheltering Hitler, and they put about these fake stories in an attempt to flush out what they thought to be the truth.

In July 1945, the Russian commander Marshall Georgi Zhukov claimed that since Hitler’s body had still not been found, he ‘could have flown away at the very last moment’. Even General Eisenhower, the former Allied supreme commander, appeared to be taken in.

Today, the vast majority accept that Hitler shot himself in the bunker (pictured) in Berlin on April 30, 1945
Today, the vast majority accept that Hitler shot himself in the bunker (pictured) in Berlin on April 30, 1945

In 1952, he said: ‘We have been unable to unearth one bit of tangible evidence of Hitler’s death. Many people believe that he escaped from Berlin.’  After the war, the historian and MI6 officer Hugh Trevor-Roper was commissioned to investigate Hitler’s death. He spoke to many of those who were present in the bunker during those last fateful days.

They all said the same thing: Hitler had killed himself, and his body and that of Eva Braun were cremated with petrol. If Hitler had hotfooted it to the Southern Hemisphere, then all these people would have had to have been lying - and to have kept it secret until their dying days.

… Williams and Dunstan maintain that the ‘Hitler’ and ‘Braun’ who shot themselves in Berlin in 1945 were, in fact, lookalikes. But would those who had known Hitler intimately for years and who were in the bunker that night really have been fooled by two doubles?

In truth, the supposed escape of Hitler should be seen as nothing more than a parlour game. There’s not a serious historian who would give the story any more credence than they would to Elvis Presley being alive and well and still hip-swinging in Tennessee.

Guy Walters is author of Hunting Evil: The Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped And The Quest To Bring Them To Justice.

From the Daily Mail @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050137/Did-Hitler-Eva-Braun-flee-Berlin-die-old-age-Argentina.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2478100/Theory-Adolf-Hitler-fled-Argentina-lived-age-73.html

But it really isn’t that simple – and careful researchers have uncovered many facts that ‘reputable historians’ seem to choose to ignore…


by Giordan Smith © 2007

Debunking the Bunker Legend

Many people are broadly familiar with the official narrative of Adolf Hitler's "Last Days", which was revisited on our cinema screens only recently in the form of the German film Downfall (Der Untergang, 2004). What they do not know is that the official narrative is a political fiction—and that the revulsion it inspires is the result of deliberate planning.

As the war reached its dreadful conclusion, Churchill and the British government set out to ensure that history never repeated itself—that there would be no resurgence of German nationalism—by dictating how history would view the ultra-nationalistic Third Reich down to the very last detail. The narrative was to be so unedifying as to permanently tarnish the regime's prestige in the eyes of even its most ardent supporters.

At no stage was historical truth a consideration. Neither the British nor the Americans showed genuine interest in Hitler's fate. Their only interest lay in assigning to the movement's leader the most ignoble exit from the historical stage as possible. In this sense, the consignment of Hitler's charred corpse to a rubbish-strewn bomb crater functioned as a metaphor for the consignment of the Hitler regime itself to the dustbin of history.

In the foreword to Hitler's Death (2005), an anthology of documents from the Russian state archives designed to buttress the official narrative of the German leader's fate, historian Andrew Roberts avers:

Part of the reason why Germany has been such a successful, pacific, liberal democracy for the past sixty years is precisely because of the way that Hitler met his end in the manner described in mesmerising detail in this book. Germany needed Year Zero in order to be reborn. 1

Few people stop to consider the sheer unlikeliness of the Germans making the Allies such a fine farewell present as a narrative of Hitler's demise that would serve the Allies' postwar agenda perfectly. In fact, Hitler's Death offers a considerable amount of evidence inviting the opposite conclusion to that peddled by Roberts. When the documents presented in this volume are examined in chronological order and correlated with other contemporary sources such as news reports, they show that the Soviet investigation of Hitler's death encountered major obstacles virtually as soon as it began.

In this article series, I tell the story of the abortive Soviet investigation and show how Stalin's failure to be taken in by planted evidence and bogus witnesses forced the British to take the initiative. Working in tandem with the Americans, the British built a veritable house of cards on the testimony of Hitler's chauffeur, Erich Kempka, despite the fact that he was almost certainly not even in Berlin during the closing days of the Third Reich. As I tell the story, I disclose a considerable amount of evidence—most of it almost entirely overlooked—that supports the theory first outlined in Hugh Thomas's path breaking 1996 book The Murder of Adolf Hitler, 2 to the effect that the Germans concealed Hitler's exit from history in a well-thought-out forensic fraud. Thomas may not be right about how the Germans pulled it off, but there can be no doubt the German regime succeeded in both obfuscating the true circumstances of Hitler's demise and ensuring that Hitler's corpse never fell into the hands of his enemies.

The Paucity of Evidence

Without bodily remains, it is impossible to affirm that a person is dead, let alone determine the manner in which he or she died. At least officially, there is no Hitler corpse because in 1970, so the Soviets/Russians maintain, the presumptive Hitler remains were macerated and intermixed with the remains of 10 other persons—allegedly Hitler's wife Eva, Propaganda Minister Josef Göbbels, his wife Magda, the Göbbels's six children and General Hans Krebs—and buried in the grounds of a KGB installation in Magdeburg, East Germany. This was done ostensibly to preclude the possibility of a burial site developing into a Nazi pilgrimage centre.

This story is an obvious deception, however. The Soviets hardly lacked the space to store the remains in the USSR, where there was no danger of a Hitler cult emerging. Its function can only have been to relieve them of the obligation to ever make the alleged Hitler corpse available for scientific testing.

 Today, all the Russians admit to possessing are fragments of what they claim to be Hitler's jawbone and two small pieces of skull. The skull fragments, one of which is distinguished by a large bullet hole, are sometimes stated to have been found in the bomb crater together with the other remains initially assumed to be those of Adolf Hitler; however, it is more usually maintained that they had been found in Hitler's study inside the Reich Chancellery building (Reichskanzelei). Unfortunately, there is no proof that the fragments were found in the Chancellery, let alone that they came from Hitler. No photographs were taken of the fragments in situ, while none of the documents included in Hitler's Death sheds any light on their discovery. In matters concerning the authentication of the alleged Hitler remains, the Russians have behaved as inscrutably as their Soviet predecessors.

In 1999, a foreign researcher, Michel Perrier of the Institute of Forensic Science at Lausanne University, was denied permission to inspect the remains.3 It is hard to see a plausible reason why the Russians would do this unless there were a chance of a negative identification. This opens up the possibility that the skull fragments are fake. We may be looking at a hoax similar to that of the Piltdown man—a notorious case in which a jawbone discovered in 1912 was subjected to rigorous testing 40 years later by a research team at the British Museum. The researchers found that the jawbone was that of a modern ape and had been artificially stained with potassium dichromate to make it appear ancient. 4

More than 60 years after Hitler disappeared from history, therefore, the Russians are obstructing research that would provide a definitive answer to the question of whether the fragments belonged to the F
ührer. As D. Marchetti et al. wrote in 2005:

The available literature concerning Hitler's cause of death is incomplete…because the skull bone fragment with a gunshot wound possibly from Hitler's corpse has not been properly examined . 5

Since the Russians clearly do not regard Hitler's skull fragments with religious reverence—we are not talking about the Shroud of Turin here—no other conclusion can be drawn than that the Russians are afraid of what will be found once the fragments are subjected to scientific testing. The best explanation for such fears is that the Russians already know that the fragments did not come from Hitler. So far they have made no effort to have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) extracted from the skull fragments for comparison with mtDNA extracted from the corpse of either Hitler's half-sister Paula or his mother Klara or from any of their living relatives—the process suggested by Marchetti et al. as the only way out of the present impasse. The Russians' unwillingness to subject the fragments to mtDNA testing implies that they already know that the result will only be negative. 6

The next most reliable kind of evidence—documentary evidence—also sheds no light on Hitler's fate. Strikingly, no films or photographs exist that would corroborate any aspect of the official narrative of the Third Reich's last days, least of all the claim that Hitler committed suicide. Given his towering importance in the Third Reich, it is hard to believe that, if Hitler had remained in Berlin until the regime fell, a comprehensive photographic record would not have been made of his final stand. Yet there are no known photos or films of Hitler that can securely be dated to April 1945 . As for written sources, all we have is an obscure entry dated 30 April 1945 in a document that is purported to be a diary kept by Reichsleiter Martin Bormann from 1 January to 1 May 1945:

Not only is it hard to believe that even in the most cursory entry Bormann would not at least have recorded the precise time of the Führer's demise, but we possess unique testimony that proves the diary to be a fake. Shortly after the war, pilot Hanna Reitsch, who was in the Führerbunker for three days (26–29 April), told American interrogator Robert E. Work that during this period Bormann had been writing an extremely detailed document which he intended to preserve for posterity. Work recorded:

Bormann rarely moved from his writing desk. He was 'putting down events for future generations'. Every word, every action was recorded on paper. Often, he would approach someone and gloomily ask about the exact contents of the F
ührer's conversation with a person to whom he had just given an audience. He also meticulously wrote down everything that took place with the others in the bunker. This document was supposed to be removed from the bunker at the last moment so that, according to the modest Bormann, it could 'take its place among the greatest chapters of German history'. 7

However, the Bormann diary which the Russians subsequently presented to the world is a paltry affair containing entries that are typically only between one and three short lines long. The most substantial entry that for 27 April, runs to a mere eight lines. Clearly, the diary does not provide a complete narrative of the death throes of the Third Reich. Although most historians (including David Irving, the self-described apostle of "real history") accept its authenticity without demur, it can only be a fake. In sum, there is no physical evidence nor evidence of a visual or written kind that would shed any light whatsoever on Hitler's fate.

Eyewitness Testimony

The case for the conventional view that Hitler committed suicide and was cremated on the afternoon of 30 April 1945
therefore depends entirely upon the verbal and written statements furnished immediately after the war by a small group of captured Nazis, most of whom were members of the Schutzstaffel (SS), who claimed to have observed these important historical events with their own eyes. The six most important accounts are those of SS Obersturmbannführer Harry Mengershausen, SS Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche, SS Obergruppenführer Johannes ("Hans") Rattenhuber, SS Obersturmbannführer Erich Kempka, SS Unterführer Hermann Karnau and SS Hauptscharführer Erich Mansfeld.

The first three eyewitnesses, Mengershausen, G
ünsche and Rattenhuber, all fell into Soviet hands after Berlin was captured on 2 May 1945. They recounted their respective versions of Hitler's fate to Soviet authorities between 13 and 20 May 1945. The three men's accounts were not available to the public until the 2005 publication of the anthology Hitler's Death. Although Hitler's valet, SS-Sturmbannführer Heinz Linge, was captured at the same time, his interrogation statements are not included in Hitler's Death and, so far as I know, have never been made public. Given that Linge subsequently emerged as one of the central protagonists in the official story of Hitler's demise, this fact obviously raises questions about the pretensions of Hitler's Death to constitute virtually the last word on the subject.

The three accounts can be supplemented by various other accounts given by German prisoners to the Soviets in May 1945, in particular that given on 7 May by SS-Sturmbannf
ührer Dr Helmut Kunz. Although Dr Kunz did not profess to know anything pertaining directly to the deaths of Adolf and Eva Hitler, his statement contains a highly significant account of Eva's last known conversation . The other three eyewitnesses, Kempka, Karnau and Mansfeld, were interrogated by the Americans and the British. Until Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler was published in 1947, 8 the accounts of Kempka and Karnau were the only ones available to the general public. The other four accounts have subsequently become available, three as recently as 2005. This means that it is possible only now to consider the six earliest eyewitness statements together as an independent body of evidence. Only now is it possible, in effect, to leave The Last Days of Hitler behind and concern ourselves with the best available original source material.

Strikingly, the information derived from these six individuals represents the bulk of the firsthand evidence that would ever become available. Only two of the persons specifically named by others as having been involved in the final days—Heinz Linge and Reichsjugendleiter Artur Axmann—survived the war and were able to give their own accounts later. However, in both cases, the eyewitnesses appear to have been pressured to conform their testimony to the Trevor-Roper account, which was treated by the Anglo-American establishment from the very beginning as definitive. None of the other individuals identified in the six earliest accounts as having been involved—Jansen, Kruge, Lindloff, Medle, Sch
ädle, Burgdorf, Krebs, Bormann, Göbbels—survived the war (so far as we know). We therefore find ourselves saddled with the task of trying to make sense of one of modern history's most important events on the basis of a remarkably thin body of evidence.

The six accounts describe similar event s . If we compare them, we find that there is general agreement on the following five points:

(1) a male body was carried from a room in the bunker to a location just outside the exit door from the bunker;
(2) the male body was wearing black trousers, shoes and socks like those Hitler usually wore;
(3) at the same time, a female body was carried out of the bunker whose face was uncovered and was readily identifiable as Eva Hitler;
(4) Heinz Linge carried the body of the male; and
(5) the two bodies were laid down on the ground beside each other, doused with petrol, cremated and buried together in a bomb crater or ditch situated a very short distance from the bunker exit door.

As soon as we look at elements of the story other than those listed above, discrepancies prove to be the rule. If they had been referring to the same event, authentic accounts ought to have agreed on most details as fully as they agreed on the aforementioned five points. It is impossible to distinguish between eyewitnesses who were "telling the truth" and eyewitnesses who were lying. In the absence of material or documentary evidence that would serve as a control, any such distinction is untenable. Indeed, each eyewitness account is as credible as any of the others. The approach that has most widely been followed, therefore, is that taken by Trevor-Roper, which simply involved assimilating all the available accounts into a narrative of a single event and ignoring or explaining away the details that did not fit with it.

By this means, to give just one example, Trevor-Roper accepted an account of events which the eyewitness Erich Mansfeld stated had taken place "not later than the 27 of April" but treated it as if it were a description of an event that a different eyewitness, Erich Kempka, claimed to have observed on 30 April 1945. 9 The shortcomings of Trevor-Roper's homogenisation technique are rather obvious, however. If one accepts the overall reliability of Mansfeld's account to the extent that one is willing to make use of the information it contains, by what right does one ignore Mansfeld's statement that he is "positive" that the events he was describing had taken place "not later than" 27 April?

Trevor-Roper did the same with the eyewitness testimony of Hermann Karnau, who stated that the events he had observed had taken place on 1 May. Clearly, one cannot simply cherry-pick the evidence in this way. Yet it is by this very method that Trevor- Roper assembled the grand narrative of the fall of the Third Reich which is accepted by most people, including most historians, as essentially correct!

In the following sections, I review the six earliest known accounts while resisting the obvious temptations to dismiss certain accounts as wholesale fabrications or resort to the Trevor-Roper "cherry-picking" strategy. As we shall soon learn, the only way to make sense of the six accounts is to treat them as authentic accounts of different events. That said, it is not the case that each account represents a pure or unadulterated version of a particular cremation. The accounts of persons who had apparently observed two or more cremations—above all, Günsche—appear to represent a conflagration of events remembered from different cremations. 


Testimony from Soviet-held Eyewitnesses

The first eyewitness to give an account of the events that occupy our attention
was Harry Mengershausen, who was a member of Hitler's personal bodyguard, the RSD. Mengershausen was interrogated by a team of Soviet operatives headed by Lt-Colonel Ivan Klimenko on 13 May 1945, and by a different team headed by Lt-General Alexander Vadis six days later. The second version came from Hitler's aide-de-camp, Otto Günsche, who furnished a long written statement on 17 May. The third version came from RSD chief Hans Rattenhuber, who gave his account in Moscow on 20 May. Although all three accounts referred to a cremation which had taken place on 30 April, Mengershausen claimed to have witnessed the cremation around noon while Günsche and Rattenhuber both stated that the cremation had taken place around 3.00 or 4.00 pm.

There are no reasons to think that Mengershausen was mistaken and that in fact he witnessed the 3.00/4.00 pm cremation. Mengershausen mentioned important details which were not mentioned by either Günsche or Rattenhuber, the most problematic of which is that the male's face had been visible. While Günsche and Rattenhuber both stated that the male's upper torso was covered with a blanket—so that nothing could be seen of him other than black trousers, socks and shoes— Mengershausen made no mention of a blanket, stating instead:

When Hitler was being carried out I clearly saw his profile—his nose, hair and moustache. 10

Mengershausen also gave a full description of the clothes in which Hitler had been dressed. Hitler "...had black trousers worn over high boots and gray-green uniform jacket. Under the uniform jacket, I could see a white shirtfront and a necktie." He also described Eva's clothing as "a black dress with several pink flowers made from cloth on the breast". 11 G
ünsche and Rattenhuber were unlikely to have overlooked such a touching detail as a corsage of pink flowers; they therefore cannot have witnessed the same cremation that Mengershausen described. Last, Mengershausen stated that only four people were involved:

Except for G
ünsche and Linge, no one was present during burning of the corpses of Hitler and his wife, and the burial was performed by two men of Hitler's guard.12

In contrast, the three available accounts of the 3.00/4.00 pm cremation mentioned a larger cast of participants including Bormann and Göbbels— important personages whom Mengershausen could not possibly have failed to notice, if they had been present. It would be easy, but unfair, to suggest that Mengershausen had fabricated his story. Rattenhuber himself affirmed that Mengershausen had been present at the scene. 13 It can therefore be accepted that both Mengershausen and Rattenhuber were present at a cremation on 30 April. The conclusion that makes most sense is that this was a cremation that took place at around midday, just as Mengershausen said. This cremation is not to be confused with a subsequent cremation that took place nearby, sometime between 3.00 and 4.00 pm that same afternoon.

A helpful piece of information here is that while G
ünsche and Rattenhuber recalled the presence of Hitler's chauffeur, Erich Kempka—who also acknowledged his own presence on this occasion—Mengershausen did not notice Kempka. On the other hand, of all the eyewitnesses who observed the latter cremation, Rattenhuber is the only one who mentioned seeing Mengershausen. But this does not mean that Mengershausen was present at the 3.00/4.00 pm cremation. The appropriate conclusion to draw, I suggest, is that Rattenhuber observed both cremations that day, and the account that he subsequently gave the Soviets represented a conflation of remembered elements from the two cremations he had witnessed.

Statements from Prisoners of the British and Americans

The next two accounts that were to be given came from Erich Kempka
and another member of the RSD, Hermann Karnau. Both were reported by the press on the very same day, 20 June 1945. I have long pondered the significance of the fact that both the British and Americans went public with their alleged eyewitnesses on the exact same day. Indeed, Kempka's statement was dated 20 June 1945, suggesting that only a very short time passed between the drafting of Kempka's statement and his presentation to the press. The most probable catalyst for such haste—and co-ordination— between the two Western Allies was the publication in Stockholm of Count Folke Bernadotte's book The End: My Humanitarian Negotiations in Germany in 1945 and Their Political Consequences. 14

Published on 15 June 1945, only five weeks after the end of the war in Europe, this short book commands the distinction of being the first insider account of the closing phase of the Third Reich. It contains an appendix in which Bernadotte recounted the story of Hitler's fate as it had been related to him by SS Reichsf
ührer Heinrich Himmler's intelligence chief, SSBrigadeführer Walter Schellenberg, in Stockholm shortly after the war. No more authoritative version of Hitler's demise can exist than such an account given freely, within a few weeks of the events themselves, and by one of the best-informed men in the Reich.

While it is true that Bernadotte shared the Allies' goal of preventing the growth of a "Hitler legend", there is no reason to believe that he misrepresented Schellenberg in order to do so. There has never been, and probably never will be, a more reliable "inside" account of Hitler's fate than that furnished by Schellenberg. For the Western intelligence agencies, the problem was that Schellenberg told Bernadotte that Hitler had been murdered. According to Schellenberg, the state of Hitler's health had become a subject of discussion between Himmler, Bormann and himself in early April after Schellenberg had established that Hitler was suffering from Parkinson's disease. Schellenberg believed that Himmler had slowly and only very reluctantly awakened to the necessity of having to do away with Hitler, whose increasingly erratic behaviour was endangering the war effort. Schellenberg told Bernadotte that he believed that Hitler had been given a lethal injection, probably on 27 April.

He told Bernadotte that he had determined the date on the basis of certain "calculations", implying that he had possessed pieces of information which, while he did not share them directly with Bernadotte, enabled him to deduce the most probable date. It was almost certainly the publication of Bernadotte's book, whose content was being summarised in the US and Canadian press as early as 16 June, which forced the Western Allies to go public, prematurely as we shall see, with stories of captives claiming to have been actual eyewitnesses to the events which Schellenberg did not pretend to have seen himself.15

Evidence of the Western Allies' haste to respond to the claim that Hitler had been murdered is their failure to reconcile the discrepancies between the two alleged eyewitnesses' accounts before presenting them to the press. While Kempka's statement confirmed that a cremation had taken place at around 3.00 pm on 30 April, Karnau's statement referred to a cremation on 1 May. In Berchtesgaden on 20 June 1945, Erich Kempka made a statement for American interrogator George R. Allen, the counterintelligence agent of the 101st Airborne Division.16 In it, Kempka gave the Americans their first eyewitness account of any of the events connected with the death of the Führer. He declared that on 30 April—although he felt unable to say that this was the date "with complete sureness"—at precisely 2.30 pm, SS Sturmbannführer Günsche called him at the Reich Chancellery garage, asking him to bring five cans of petrol over to the bunker. There Günsche told him that the Führer was dead and that he had been ordered to burn his corpse "so that he would not be exhibited at a Russian freak-show". Kempka said he then helped carry the corpses.

While Linge and an orderly whom he did not remember were carrying the corpse of Adolf Hitler, he carried the corpse of Eva Hitler. Kempka simply assumed that the corpse he had seen Linge carrying was Hitler's, for he noticed "the long black trousers and the black shoes which the Führer usually wore with his field-gray uniform jacket".

The corpses were taken from the bunker to a spot in the Chancellery garden, "about 4 to 5 m distant from the bunker exit". At this location, both bodies were cremated:

SS Sturmbannf
ührer Günsche poured the complete contents of the five cans over the two corpses and ignited the fuel. Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, Reichsminister Dr Göbbels, SS Sturmbannführe r Günsche, SS Sturmbannführer Linge, the orderly and I stood in the bunker entrance, looked towards the fire and all saluted with raised hands. 17

The evidence of the fifth eyewitness, Hermann Karnau, is interesting because he is the only eyewitness to the alleged cremation of Adolf and Eva Hitler who fell into the hands of the British whose story has ever reached the public. Like Kempka, Karnau escaped from Berlin, but by mid-May he had made his way to his British-occupied hometown, Wilhelmshaven, where he surrendered to Canadian troops. After being interrogated by British intelligence officer Captain K. W. E. Leslie, Karnau related his version of the events he had witnessed to an audience of reporters which included Walter Kerr from Reuters and Daniel De Luce of the Associated Press. Leslie told the reporters:

I am sure that Karnau's report about Hitler's death is authentic. I have interrogated many German prisoners of war and I would call this man a reliable witness. 18

Unfortunately, Karnau's statement clashed with Kempka's in two important respects. First, Karnau claimed to have been certain that one of the bodies was that of Hitler. He told the reporters that he had been able to recognise Hitler "by his brown uniform and his face" 19 and, in particular, by his distinctive moustache. 20 Second , Karnau claimed that the cremation had taken place at 6.30 pm on 1 May. Karnau's account of the events of 1 May is sufficiently detailed that it cannot be said that he was mistaken about either the date or the time at which the cremation occurred. Karnau had seen Adolf Hitler alive and sitting in his favourite wicker chair when he went for breakfast on the morning of 1 May.

During that morning, he recalled, four men arrived carrying gasoline cans "for the air conditioning system". Karnau said that as he knew the bunker's air conditioning system used Diesel oil, he denied them entrance. He only allowed them in after Linge intervened. 21 Karnau, who last saw Hitler alive at around 4.00 pm, believed that Hitler was subsequently poisoned by one of his personal physicians, Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger, and cremated at around 6.30 pm that same day. It should not be concluded that Karnau was wrong about a cremation having taken place on 1 May.

On 7 May, Dr Helmut Kunz, who had worked in the Reich Chancellery dental surgery from 23 April 1945 onwards, was interrogated by the Soviets. The evidence he gave on this occasion cannot be lightly dismissed because it was the first account ever given by a bunker survivor—meaning that it is the least influenced by accounts given by others. It is also the most reliable, in the sense that the events it discusses had taken place only a week before. Dr Kunz explicitly affirmed seeing Eva Hitler alive on at least two occasions on the evening of 30 April. Dr Kunz told his Russian interrogators that he had seen Eva playing with the Göbbels children on that evening and that a little later, between 10.00 and 11.00 pm, he, Professor Werner Haase and two of Hitler's secretaries had joined her for coffee.

On the latter occasion, Eva told Dr Kunz that Hitler was not yet dead but he "would die when he received confirmation that [his] will had reached the person it had been sent to". 22 It is very hard to imagine that Dr Kunz could have been confused about the date, that in such circumstances he could have mistaken Eva Hitler for someone else or that Eva did not actually know whether Hitler was yet dead or not. Moreover, since Hitler's will never reached its intended recipient(s), it is entirely plausible that Hitler would not have decided to die until the last possible moment, which is consistent with a time of 6.30 pm on 1 May.

The odd thing is the response that Karnau's story evoked from Kempka. On 4 July, Kempka made a second statement 23 in which he insisted that Karnau couldn't have seen Hitler's moustache because "[t]he upper part of Hitler's body was fully covered by a blanket". Karnau must therefore have seen "other cremations", the implication obviously being that Karnau had mistaken someone else's cremation for that of Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler. However, the fact that Karnau had seen Hitler's face while Kempka had not suggests that it was Kempka, not Karnau, who must have been referring to "other cremations". Kempka also stated that he was now certain that Hitler had been cremated on 30 April 1945, and added the claim that the wind had blown Eva's dress, exposing her garters. However, in this respect, Dr Kunz's evidence seems decisive. Eva Hitler could not possibly have been cremated on 30 April because Dr Kunz spoke with her on the same night. What's more, on this occasion Eva told Dr Kunz that Adolf Hitler was still alive. Therefore, if Kempka saw any cremation at all on 30 April, the bodies he witnessed being burned were not those of Adolf and Eva Hitler.

No serious attempt seems ever to have been made to reconcile the discrepancies between Kempka's and Karnau's accounts, e.g., by confronting the pair with one another. The 1947 book Who Killed Hitler?, by Herbert Moore and James W. Barrett, 24 criticised Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler for "belittling" Karnau's testimony and relying instead on Kempka's. In her review of Who Killed Hitler? in the Oakland Tribune, Nancy Barr Mavity retorted that Kempka's and Karnau's accounts "differ in detail, as eyewitness accounts of a complex occurrence notoriously do". 25  How a single episode—the burning of two bodies—can be represented as a "complex occurrence" I have no idea, but her statement does show that the only option available to those who wish to believe Kempka involves explaining away or simply ignoring discrepancies between his account and those of the other eyewitnesses.

The third account, given to US interrogators by RSD member Erich Mansfeld on 30 July 1945, which referred to a cremation on either 26 or 27 April, establishes beyond reasonable doubt that there were numerous cremations and that at least some of the eyewitnesses were mistaken when they asserted that they had witnessed Hitler's cremation. In fact, the first such cremation was observed by Mansfeld while he was on guard duty on the afternoon of 27 April. After recounting what Mansfeld claimed he had seen, the statement concludes:

Subject claims there is a possibility these events took place on the 26th instead of the 27th, but is positive it was not later than the 27th of April 1945. 26

The earliest six eyewitness accounts—effectively, the only reliable accounts we have—establish that at least four cremations of corpses, which were assumed by observers to be those of Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler, took place in the Reich Chancellery garden between 26 or 27 April and 1 May. In each case, the male body wore a pair of Hitler's trousers. In each case, also, the male body was accompanied by a female who bore a convincing resemblance to Eva Hitler. It is obvious, therefore, that many bunker veterans who thought they had witnessed the cremation of Adolf and Eva Hitler had only witnessed the burning of other corpses—that is to say, corpses they were meant to mistake for those of Adolf and Eva Hitler. No one was therefore in a position to say whether they had witnessed the cremation of the real Adolf Hitler or of a substitute. However, one of the two "Hitlers" whose face had been visible appears to have been Hitler's double, whose corpse was found by the Soviets on 4 May. 27.


"We know nothing"

Clearly, there are no grounds to assume that accounts of cremations which took place on different dates
can simply be conflated as if they were all accounts of the same event. This raises the question of whether on any of these occasions the real Adolf and Eva Hitler were cremated. This is a question that can be answered in the negative. While he was interned for several years in two Soviet POW camps in Strausberg and Posen, the Wehrmachtsurgeon-general , Major-General Walter Schreiber, had the opportunity to speak with four persons, each of whom had been present in the bunker until Berlin fell to the Soviets.

While he was unable to draw any information on the subject of Hitler's fate out of the "arrogant" Wilhelm Mohnke, 28 Hitler's pilot Hans Baur told him only that he had never seen Hitler dead. Heinz Linge and Otto Günsche were more forthcoming. Linge told him that he "did not see Hitler, but toward the end noticed two bodies wrapped in carpet being carried out of the bunker". Linge told Schreiber that while at the time he had assumed the bodies to be those of the Hitler couple, only later had he been told that this was the case. This admission is astounding, because Linge is the one person mentioned by all eyewitnesses as having carried Hitler's body up the stairs and into the Chancellery garden.

Günsche, with whom Schreiber spoke only a short time after the regime fell, proved even more informative. Like Linge, Günsche admitted that he had never seen Hitler's dead body. He added the enigmatic comment: "Those things were all done without us." 29 Such evidence is corroborated by General Helmuth Weidling, who told the Soviets on 4 January 1946:

After I was taken prisoner, I spoke to SS Gruppenführer Rattenhuber and SS Sturmbannführer Günsche, and both said they knew nothing about the details of Hitler's death. 30

On the basis of Schreiber's and Weidling's revelations, it can be regarded as certain that neither Günsche nor Linge, the two mainstays of the Hitler suicide legend, nor Mohnke nor Rattenhuber, had anything to do with Hitler's death or knew anything about it. It would seem appropriate to conclude that no one who knew anything for certain about what happened to Hitler has ever spoken about it publicly. Hitler's inner circle in Berlin knew nothing about what had happened to him, and the stories they told publicly after 1945 (in the cases of Kempka and Karnau) and since 1955 (in the cases of Linge and Günsche) have been lies. They were either writing themselves into history or, as seems more likely, under pressure from their captors to make statements to help buttress the Hitler suicide narrative. Indeed, it may well have been a condition of Linge's and Günsche's release from Soviet captivity in 1955 that they agreed to furnish such statements.

1. Andrew Roberts, Foreword to V. K. Vinogradov et al. (eds), Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, Chaucer Press, London, 2005, p. 11
 2. Hugh Thomas, The Murder of Adolf Hitler: The Truth about the Bodies in the Berlin Bunker, St Martin's Press, New York, 1996
 3. "Hitler's Final Enigma Solved”, The Sunday Times, UK, 24 October 1999: "Although he was not granted access to the bones, Perrier analysed Russian archive documents and photographs that could help him identify the remains." http://www. fpp.co.uk/Hitler/docs/death/CorpseID.html
 4. http : / / www. museum of hoaxes. com/hoax / Hoaxipedia/Piltdown_Man/
 5. D. Marchetti et al., "The death of Adolf Hitler – forensic aspects", Journal of Forensic Sciences 2005 Sept; 50(5), Abstract, http://journalsip.astm.org/JOURNALS/FORENSIC/PAGES/5060.htm
 6. Dr Mark Benecke, a forensic criminologist associated with the German police, claims to have unexpectedly been shown the skull fragments by a Russian state archivist in 2002. However, he did not take a sample for DNA testing. He says that this was only because he didn't happen to have a sterile drill with him at the time. This is probably one of the more ingenious cover-up stories of our time, for if Dr Benecke had been shown the skull fragments by prior arrangement, then he would have had no excuse for not taking a sample for DNA testing. 

 7. Hitler's Death, pp. 210-11
 8. Hugh R. Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler, Macmillan, New York, 1947
 9. The Last Days of Hitler, p. 202. Mansfeld's interrogation report, which was made at the US interrogation centre in Bremen, is reproduced at: http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a039.htm
10. Hitler's Death, p. 72
11. Hitler's Death, p. 72
12. Hitler's Death, p. 79
13. Hitler's Death, p. 196
14. Count Folke Bernadotte, Slutet. Mina humanitära förhandlingar i Tyskland våren 1945 och deras politiska följder ("The End. My Humanitarian Negotiations in Germany in 1945 and Their Political Consequences"), Norstedts, Stockholm, 1945
15. For example, New Castle News, 16 June 1945, and Lethbridge Herald, 16 June 1945
16. Horace R. Hansen, Witness to Barbarism, Thousand Pinetree Press, St Paul, MN, 2002, p.x, http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/edumat/witness/wtb_first.pdf
17. http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3735-ps (translation of document 3735-PS)
18. TASS, "Report on the Evidence of Hitler's Death", 21 June 1945, in Hitler's Death, pp. 283-85
19. Hitler's Death, pp. 283-84
20. Daniel De Luce, "Saw Bodies of Hitler, Braun Burn, Says Guard", Globe & Mail, 21 June 1945, http://collections.civilisations.ca/warclip/objects/common/webmedia.php?irn=5091401

21. Daniel De Luce, ibid.
22. Hitler's Death, pp. 61-62. Dr Haase's interrogation record, as well as those of several other bunker survivors, affirms that Dr Kunz was in the bunker in the period in which these events took place. Unfortunately, the record of Dr Haase's interrogation published in Hitler's Death, pp. 82- 86, contains no information pertaining to either Adolf or Eva Hitler.
23. http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3735-ps
24. Herbert Moore and James W. Barrett, Who Killed Hitler? The Complete Story of How Death Came to Der F
ührer and Eva Braun, The Booktab Press, New York, 1947
25. Oakland Tribune, 7 September 1947, p. C-3
26. http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a039.htm
27. Hitler's Death, p. 24
28. However, in a statement for Soviet authorities dated 18 May 1945, Mohnke wrote: "I personally did not see the Führer's body and I don't know what was done to it." Hitler's Death, p. 178
29. "Persons Who Should Know Are Not Certain Hitler Died in Berlin Bunker", Long Beach Press-Telegram, California, 10 January 1949, p. B-12. I have interpreted the word "us" to refer to Hitler's personal staff.
30. Hitler's Death, p. 238 .


 Let the Hoax Begin: the "Official" Hitler Corpse

On 5 May 1945, the "badly burnt" corpses of a man and woman were reportedly discovered by the Soviets
in a ditch located a mere three metres from the emergency exit from the Führerbunker. 31 It is maintained by most historians today that the corpses discovered this day were those of the real Adolf and Eva Hitler. The only mystery, they think, is why Stalin began insisting, as early as 26 May 1945 that Hitler was still alive.

In fact, there is no evidence to corroborate the story of the discovery of the two corpses. Since no photographs apparently were taken of them in situ, they could quite literally have come from anywhere. An obvious problem is that they were reportedly discovered in a ditch situated just three metres from the bunker exit. 32 Although this is consistent with the statements of alleged eyewitnesses to the burial, who cite distances of between one and three metres, this means that the ditch was located almost directly outside the exit door—a circumstance that would have rendered its use unsafe, to say the least. What's more, if the ditch really had existed, it is hard to see why the Soviets neither photographed it nor preserved it intact.

The earliest photos—those taken in early July 1945, when many foreign reporters and military officials came to view the historic spot— are of a ditch that looks at least 12 metres away from the exit, and possibly more. It is hard to see why, if the ditch mentioned by the eyewitnesses had existed in the first place, two months later it had been covered over and visitors were being shown a different ditch.

A few words are in order concerning the sheer unlikelihood of the presumed Hitler corpse having been authentic. There is something inherently improbable about the idea that Hitler's corpse would have been discarded so near the Führerbunker. The narrative of the Third Reich's last days with which we are familiar suggests that measures for dealing with Hitler's death were cobbled together more or less at the last minute as Soviet troops threatened the Reich Chancellery itself. But this view is nonsense. Hitler's fate was the subject of planning that stretched back at least until 22 April 1945. That day, Dr Göbbels told General Schörner:

The least that I can do is ensure that the Führer's corpse does not fall into the hands of the enemy as a trophy. 33

Since the Germans were committed to ensuring that Hitler's body would never be recovered by the enemy, it made no sense at all for them to place it in a location so close to the Führerbunker that it could not possibly be overlooked. It also made no sense to inter it in the same grave as a female body that would be able to be identified as Eva Hitler's. Anyone whose mission was to conceal Hitler's corpse would hardly have chosen to inter it with another that provided a blatant clue as to its identity. This is, rather, what someone would do who wanted a decoy body instantly mistaken for Hitler's.

Two further circumstances would seem to prove that we are dealing with a hoax. First, according to the Soviet autopsy report, the corpse was missing its right-side ribs and its left foot. 34 While this doesn't prove that the corpse wasn't Hitler's, it does establish that the familiar story of Hitler committing suicide in the bunker and his corpse being carried up to ground level to be cremated and buried immediately afterwards cannot be true. After all, Hitler's right ribs and left foot can hardly have fallen off on the way up the stairs. Second, the corpses discovered by the Soviets cannot have been cremated in the open air, as eyewitnesses maintained. According to an anonymous British intelligence officer who stated that he had been shown the remains shortly after they had been found:

There were not two complete skeletons and none of the main bones was intact. 35

According to W. F. Heimlich, a former intelligence officer who in 1947 was a high official in the American administration of Berlin, the corpses would probably have had to be burned in a closed crematory to achieve the condition of almost total disintegration in which they were found. 36 In The Murder of Adolf Hitler, forensic scientist Hugh Thomas provides support for this conclusion. Thomas points out that "the damage described on the skull [in the Soviet autopsy report, parts of which were not published until 1968] could have been produced only in temperatures over 1000°C—far greater than any that could have been produced in the open garden of the Reichskanzelei". 37


Creative Dentistry

On 8 May 1945, the Soviets set out to identify the corpses they suspected to be those of Adolf and Eva Hitler
. That day, two Russians—chief forensic pathologist Dr Faust Sherovsky and anatomical pathologist Major Anna Marantz— autopsied the remains at SMERSH (Soviet military counter-intelligence) headquarters in the Berlin suburb of Buch. According to their report:

The most important anatomical finding for identification of the person are the teeth, with much bridgework, artificial teeth, crowns and fillings. 38

Indeed, in the pre-DNA-testing era, the only means of obtaining a secure identification of a heavily damaged corpse was by examining the teeth and comparing them with available dental records. Unfortunately, no documents are available that describe the teeth of the two corpses as they were found on 5 May. The earliest information we have concerning their teeth derives from the autopsy report, which was written three days later. If the report can be believed, the mouth of the presumptive Hitler corpse was completely intact:

There are many small cracks in...the upper jawbones. The tongue is charred, its tip firmly locked between the teeth of the upper and lower jaws. 39

The problem was therefore locating Hitler's dental charts. 40 The Soviets' attempt to find them led them into a mire of intrigue and deception which remains unravelled even today. As far as it can be reconstructed from extant sources, the investigation proceeded along the following lines. On 9 May, a Soviet military officer, a female intelligence officer and a male translator went looking for Hitler's dentist, SS General Professor Dr Johann Hugo Blaschke, at his surgery at Kurfürstendamm 213. When they arrived, they found that Prof. Blaschke was not there and that his practice had been taken over by Dr Fedor Bruck, a Jewish dentist who, in order to evade deportation to the east, had spent two and a half years living underground in Berlin. According to a record Dr Bruck made in 1948, some of Prof. Blaschke's files were still present at the time. But while the visitors were able to take away records for Himmler, Dr Ley, Göring and Dr Göbbels, all of Hitler's had already been removed.41 However, the search was not a complete failure, for Dr Bruck told the Soviet officers where they could find Prof. Blaschke's assistant, Käthe Heusemann, and his dental technician, Fritz Echtmann.

Dr Bruck accompanied the officers to Heusemann's apartment a short distance away in the Pariserstrasse. Heusemann was then taken to the Reich Chancellery, where a fruitless search for Hitler's dental records was conducted. The next day, 10 May, she was taken to SMERSH headquarters and ordered to examine the remains there. By this stage, the jawbones had been removed from the alleged Hitler corpse, for Heusemann was shown them in a cigar box. This would presumably have been done in order to make them easier to study; however, this raises the problem of the chain of evidence, for we have no means of knowing whether the jawbones Heusemann was shown really came from the corpse autopsied on 8 May. Nonetheless, Heusemann affirmed that the teeth were Hitler's. 42 A few days later, she told Dr Bruck that she had been able to identify them immediately.

A year later, Dr Bruck told a foreign reporter that Heusemann had recognised "...an upper crown which was an anchor for a bridge on Hitler's upper jaw. The bridge had been cut because the other anchor had been extracted. The operation left surgical traces which Frau Heusermann [s i c] recognized at once." 43 According to the record of her 19 May interrogation, Heusemann recognised drill marks left behind by Prof. Blaschke in the autumn of 1944 on the fourth tooth in Hitler's left upper jaw when he had extracted two adjacent teeth. 44 "I was holding a mirror in the mouth and watching the whole procedure with great attention," she declared. 45

But before we discuss Heusemann's evidence concerning Hitler's teeth, a digression is needed in order to evaluate her evidence in regard to the teeth of the alleged corpse of Eva Hitler. As we shall see, her evidence is rather problematic and casts some doubt on her additional claims to have worked on Eva's teeth.

A Bridge Too Far

Dr Bruck also told the foreign reporter that on the same occasion
Heusemann had told him that she had been shown "a female bridge from the lower jaw which contained four teeth". "She identified it as Eva Braun's and said, 'We made it for her only six weeks ago,' he related. She told the Russians the bridge was made by a man named Eichmann [sic], who was a dental mechanic for Dr Blaschke." 46 However, the very information that initially seemed to confirm the identity of the female corpse only ended up disconfirming it. On 11 May, the Soviets questioned Prof. Blaschke's dental technician, Fritz Echtmann. He was interrogated about Eva Hitler's teeth on an unspecified number of other occasions in May 1945, and again on 24 July 1947. 47 On the latter occasion, Echtmann admitted to his interrogator, a Major Vaindorf, that "[a]t the beginning of April 1945" Prof. Blaschke had asked him "to make a small bridge for Eva Braun's right upper jaw". 48

Echtmann seems to have been talking about the bridge which Heusemann told Dr Bruck that the Soviets had shown her the day before. Dr Bruck told the foreign reporter about this in May 1946. He can probably be believed: there is no obvious reason that he could have known about the existence of the bridge requested by Prof Blaschke in early April—"the 1945 bridge", as I shall subsequently refer to it—if Heusemann had not told him about it. There are two problems with this information, however. First, the bridge Heusemann described sounds more like the bridge that had been fitted in Eva's mouth by Prof. Blaschke—Heusemann says with her assistance—in the autumn of 1944. (For simplicity's sake, I shall subsequently refer to this as "the 1944 bridge".) The 1945 bridge was for only one tooth. The question, therefore, is why Heusemann told the Soviets—and Dr Bruck—that the 1944 bridge was the one that Prof. Blaschke had asked Echtmann to make only six weeks earlier. Second, why did Heusemann say this if she knew that the 1945 bridge had never been inserted in Eva's mouth? At some stage—exactly when is not clear—Echtmann told his Soviet interrogators that Heusemann had told him it had never been fitted:

On 19 April, 1945, I called Professor Blaschke and told him that the small bridge was ready. He told me it would be sent to Berchtesgaden if Eva Braun was there. On the same day, 19 April, I sent the small denture to Professor Blaschke at the Reich Chancellery. Later, in a talk with his assistant Heusemann I learnt that Professor Blaschke had flown to Berchtesgaden on 20 April and had not fitted the small denture in Berlin. 49

The problems identified here do not damn Heusemann's evidence, but they do undermine her credibility. If she knew that Prof. Blaschke had not fitted the 1945 bridge, why did she lead the Soviets to believe that it had been fitted? The problem is compounded by the information that on 19 April, Prof. Blaschke apparently had not known whether Eva was in Berlin or not. On 19 May 1945, Heusemann told the Soviets that "a month ago we extracted one tooth [from Eva] in the upper jaw, the 6th one on the left". 50 Since Eva apparently arrived in Berlin in mid-April—the precise date does not appear to be known—and Prof. Blaschke left the city on 20 April, the extraction must have been performed during the period 15–20 April. In these circumstances, Prof. Blaschke must surely have known that Eva was in Berlin.

What's more, since the bridge contained the false tooth to be inserted in the place of the extracted tooth, it made little sense not to have established in advance when and where the bridge was to be fitted. There is something rather slipshod and unlikely about all this. Then there is the problem that Prof. Blaschke already knew in early April that Eva would need a tooth extracted. It is not clear why he therefore did not remove the tooth then, rather than wait until the denture was ready. Perhaps he wanted to replace the tooth with the denture almost immediately. But if he waited a few weeks until the denture was ready, why was it not fitted the day Echtmann sent it over to the Reich Chancellery surgery on 19 April? Since Eva was in Berlin, Prof. Blaschke had ample opportunity to insert the fitting, either the same day or the following day (20 April). After all, Prof. Blaschke's flight to Berchtesgaden did not actually take place until the early hours of 21 April.

We therefore do not know what really happened to the 1945 bridge—whether Prof. Blaschke fitted it in Berlin and Heusemann had lied to (or simply misinformed) Echtmann, whether Prof. Blaschke took it on the plane with him to Berchtesgaden or whether he left it behind in Berlin, perhaps for his replacement, Dr Helmut Kunz, to insert in Eva's mouth.

The striking fact is that Hitler's Death—the recently published collection of documents from Soviet archives allegedly proving that the human remains which the Soviets found on 5 May had been those of Adolf and Eva Hitler—contains neither Heusemann's 10 May interrogation report nor Echtmann's 11 May interrogation report. What's more, although Dr Kunz took Prof. Blaschke's place on 23 April, his interrogation record yields no information as to whether he worked on Eva Hitler's teeth after that date. Since it is hard to believe that the Soviets would not have asked Dr Kunz whether he had performed any dental work on Adolf or Eva Hitler, it can safely be assumed that the editors of Hitler's Death have chosen to suppress this information. Without any more information to go on, it is not possible to say what the real significance of the 1945 bridge was. What can be said is that if, during his first interrogation on 11 May 1945, Echtmann revealed to the Soviets that the small bridge had never been fitted, this would explain why, on or about 15 May, apparently without any advance warning, the Soviets took Heusemann into custody. 51 The fact that Heusemann was repeatedly interrogated by Soviet intelligence agents suggests that information was continually coming to light that rendered her evidence problematic. On 19 May, Lt-General Vadis interrogated her for nearly five hours. 52 A partial record of this interrogation does appear in Hitler's Death. 53

According to this document, Heusemann said that she had been able to verify that the teeth were Eva's because she recognised a "gold and resin bridge" that, with her assistance, Prof. Blaschke had inserted in the right part of Eva's lower jaw in the "summer of 1944 ". 54 At a later date—no earlier than 23 July 1947— Heusemann was still being pressed for a full description of Eva Hitler's teeth. 55 In this statement, she implied that Eva had a false tooth in her upper right jaw—which she can only have done if the 1945 bridge had been fitted after all! 56 Such prolonged and intensive questioning is inconsistent with the idea that the information Heusemann provided had been sufficient to establish that the teeth were Eva's. If so, why ask her to go over the subject again and again?

There are therefore plenty of hints of intrigue, but thanks to the fact that only very brief selections from her interrogations are included in Hitler's Death, it is not possible to chronicle the development of her story. The same goes for Echtmann's evidence: Hitler's Death only contains statements he gave on 24 July 1947, not those he gave in May 1945 during what appear to have been at least four or five interrogations. Heusemann's and Echtmann's fate supports the conclusion that the Soviets found something fishy about their evidence. Within two days of each other in August 1951, Heusemann and Echtmann were arrested by Soviet MGB (Ministry of State Security) officials. Heusemann was charged with "having treated Hitler, Himmler and other Nazi leaders until April 1945", while Echtmann was charged with "assisting Hitler and his circle". Each was sentenced to 10 years in a Soviet labour camp. 57 Neither person appears ever to have been repatriated and it is a fair guess that both vanished in Stalin's vast, impenetrable gulag. It seems hard to credit the idea that their crimes really consisted of having provided Hitler and other top Nazis with dental treatment; more likely, both paid the ultimate price for trying to deceive Stalin.

X-ray Deception

In the above discussion of the forensic issues concerning Eva Hitler's teeth
, it became obvious that Heusemann's evidence was problematic to say the least. She told the Soviets and Dr Bruck that the bridge that was shown to her had been made recently, yet it more closely resembles the bridge she claimed to have helped Prof. Blaschke insert in the summer of 1944 than the 1945 bridge. In view of the issues raised in relation to Eva's teeth that undermine her credibility, it is important to ask whether Heusemann was actually competent to assess the evidence concerning the teeth of the presumptive Hitler corpse discovered on 5 May.

By 10 May, the jawbones had been removed from the "Hitler" corpse and placed, if we can believe it, in a cigar box and shown to Heusemann. For our purposes it is unimportant whether the cigar box was ferried to Heusemann, as Soviet military reconnaissance interpreter Elena Rzhevskaya claimed, 58 o r whether Heusemann was taken to SMERSH headquarters to identify them there, which is what Dr Bruck in his 1948 memoir indicated happened. 59

What is important is that in the record of her 19 May interrogation, Heusemann stated, as established previously, that she had recognised drill marks left behind by Prof. Blaschke on the fourth tooth in Hitler's left upper jaw the time he extracted two adjacent teeth. 60 The problem is, rather, that all of Heusemann's claims to have worked on Hitler's teeth—claims which are iterated on several occasions in Hitler's Death—appear to be false. In early 1948, while still in American captivity, Prof. Blaschke gave an interview in which he stated that Heusemann "cannot give a positive identification because she knows only some X-rays of Hitler's teeth". 61 Thus, Heusemann's knowledge of Hitler's teeth derived solely from the X-rays and not from personal experience. She can therefore n e v e r have helped Prof. Blaschke work on Hitler's teeth six times between 1944 and 1945, as she told her Soviet interrogators, and can only have recognised the "drill marks" she told Dr Bruck about from the Xrays she had studied. She therefore had no means of knowing whether the X-rays accurately represented the condition of Hitler's mouth or that of someone else.

Once I realised that Heusemann had lied about having worked on Hitler's teeth, I also began to doubt Heusemann's claim to have worked also on the teeth of Eva Hitler and many leading Nazis. According to the testimony she gave the Soviets, she had worked at the Reich Chancellery dental surgery from December 1944 until 20 April 1945. She specifically claimed to have helped Prof. Blaschke extract a tooth from Eva Hitler in April 1945. However, despite the relatively long period involved—around four months—I have found no account that corroborates her presence in the Reich Chancellery surgery, aside from the aforementioned contact between Heusemann and Echtmann that does not prove that she really worked there. (Since Echtmann could have been a participant in the same intrigues as Heusemann, his evidence is far from decisive.)

During the period from 20 April to 2 May 1945, Heusemann is also supposed to have remained in the Chancellery. Dr Bruck told reporters that for safety reasons she had remained in the Chancellery "in the last days of Berlin". 62 It is odd, then, that she was not mentioned by Dr Kunz, who took over from Prof. Blaschke at the Chancellery surgery on 23 April. (Dr Kunz apparently had no assistant at all.)

My conclusion is that Heusemann was probably nothing more than an opportunist, someone who sought to profit from knowledge of the dental charts she had gained in 1944(–45?) while working for Prof. Blaschke. To this end, Heusemann appears to have recruited Dr Bruck. According to Dr Bruck himself, he renewed his acquaintanceship with Heusemann on 4 May, when he located her in the Pariserstrasse. It seems likely that this day she drew him into her confidence and explained how she had enjoyed access to Hitler's dental records.

It is clear why Dr Bruck, despite being Jewish, was a willing participant in the dental intrigues surrounding the alleged corpses of Adolf and Eva Hitler. Although he had been living underground in Berlin since October 1942—and was reportedly destitute by the time the Soviets entered Steglitz (the quarter of the city in which he had been hiding) on 26 April 1945—Dr Bruck was placed in a position by Heusemann to take over Prof. Blashke's surgery less than a week after they had renewed their association. This was quite a coup, for the surgery was located in Berlin's most fashionable street. Dr Bruck's prior relationship with Heusemann offers the only plausible explanation for this cosy arrangement. Heusemann had worked for Dr Bruck when he was a school dentist in her home town of Liegnitz (Silesia) in the mid-1930s. She moved to Berlin in April 1937 to work for Prof. Blaschke. It is possible that, knowing he would probably never return, Prof. Blaschke gave Heusemann the rights to the surgery after he left Berlin on 20 April; if so, she might have considered it a good idea to secure her right to the practice in the new post-Nazi era by placing it in the care of a Jewish dentist she knew and trusted.

What strengthens the likelihood that this scenario accords with the facts is evidence that Dr Bruck was consciously playing a role in a hoax to authenticate the alleged remains of the Führer and his wife. First, it was Dr Bruck who told Soviet investigators about Heusemann and Echtmann. Having established on 4 May where she lived, he was in a position to lead them straight to her when they arrived at the Kurfürstendamm surgery on 9 May. For by that date, Dr Bruck had already taken over the surgery and moved into the apartment connected to it. 63 It was obviously extremely convenient for them that Dr Bruck was on hand to meet them when they arrived. If the surgery had been abandoned altogether, the Soviets would have had to go to a good deal more trouble to track down anyone who apparently possessed the necessary competence to evaluate the alleged Hitler dental evidence. Things couldn't have been made any easier for them. Second, there is a puzzling instance of foreknowledge.

When the Soviet investigators arrived at the surgery, Dr Bruck seemed to know why they had come. He asked them if they were seeking to identify some "fragments" they had found. 64 While it would not have taken much by way of brains to guess they were seeking to identify a corpse, Bruck's use of the word Fragmente—which has the exact same meaning in German as it does in English (i.e., fragments)—seems quite a slip. What is sometimes referred to as Hitler's jawbone (i.e., in the singular) is actually a collection of four fragments . 65 Dr Bruck must have known in advance that it was not a question of identifying an intact set of teeth. It was a slip that implies participation in a conspiracy to deceive the Soviets. Third is the striking fact that Dr Bruck was the first person to reveal to Western reporters that the Soviets had called on Heusemann to identify teeth they presumed to be Hitler's. After Heusemann and Echtmann vanished into Soviet prisons in mid- May 1945, Dr Bruck never gave up trying to pass on information to the West that confirmed Western suspicions that the Soviets had found Hitler's body.

On 5 July 1945, two days after the Western Allies were allowed to enter Berlin, Dr Bruck began scouting out foreign reporters to ask if they knew anything about Heusemann's fate. Although there is no reason to doubt that he felt genuine concern for her safety, Dr Bruck had the opportunity from such contacts with foreign reporters to ensure that the information which the Soviets had gleaned from Heusemann, but had been withholding, reached the West at last. On 9 July, an article by William Forrest was published in the British News Chronicle that incorporated information Dr Bruck had given Forrest on 7 July. 66 Dr Bruck obviously wanted to ensure that Heusemann's information entered circulation, whether the Soviets liked it or not. Fourth, in 1947 Dr Bruck was very nearly arrested by the Soviets.

At that time, the Americans warned him that the Soviets had decided to arrest him. Had he not been warned in time, they would surely have succeeded and Dr Bruck would have joined Heusemann and Echtmann in Soviet captivity. Instead, Dr Bruck emigrated to the United States and in 1952 acquired American citizenship. (He spent the last 30 years of his life living in New York under the Anglicised name of Theodor Brooke.)

The thesis that best accounts for events, therefore, is that on 4 May Dr Bruck struck a deal with Heusemann to ensure that the Soviets would believe that they had found the remains of Adolf and Eva Hitler. In return for services such as ensuring that the Soviets were able to locate Heusemann and Echtmann without difficulty, Dr Bruck appears to have been rewarded with Prof. Blaschke's Kurfürstendamm surgery. When the Soviets sought to arrest him in 1947—the same year Heusemann and Echtmann were apparently re-interrogated about their claims—the Americans intervened and gave him refuge in the United States. Where the plan went awry, I would suggest, is that it was based on knowledge that Heusemann had only derived from studying Adolf and Eva Hitler's dental charts (or, more likely, charts she had assumed to be those of Adolf and Eva Hitler). It is easy to see how Heusemann could have been encouraged to examine them. All Prof. Blaschke had to do was leave the charts and X-rays of a man who had been selected to die in Hitler's place lying around in his surgery for Heusemann and Echtmann to inspect. They would have had no idea that he had done so with a view to misleading them.

At any point between the date that the X-rays were made—apparently they date from September 1944—and April 1945, the man would have been murdered and his body stored for use when Berlin fell. The charts and X-rays would then have been destroyed—an act that would have reinforced the belief that the charts had been authentic. All this could have been done without Heusemann and Echtmann realising that they were being used. However the intrigue unfolded, there is one fact that cannot be denied: so far as anyone knows, the only person to survive the war who genuinely possessed the expertise to identify Hitler's teeth was Prof. Blaschke himself.


Reconstructing the Truth

Having run into a brick wall with Heusemann and Echtmann
, the Soviets must have been overjoyed when in July 1945 Prof. Blaschke turned up in an American camp for prominent POWs. They promptly sent him a bag containing all the necessary equipment and ordered him to reconstruct, as perfectly as his memory enabled him, the appearance of Hitler's jawbone. The result, we are told, perfectly matched the jawbone Heusemann had identified as Hitler's. 67 But if Prof. Blaschke's evidence corroborated Heusemann's identification, the proof itself has never been published.

Although the Americans had Prof. Blaschke in their hands from May 1945, when he was captured, until late 1948, they never made public any of the information he shared with them about Hitler's teeth. On 5 February 1946, for example, he was interrogated by US military intelligence on precisely this subject. However, the report based on the 1946 interview was never released and remains classified by the US Department of Defense even today. 68 Given that by 1946 the Americans were extremely keen to publicise any information which suggested that the Soviets really had discovered Hitler's corpse, it must be the case that, wittingly or otherwise, Prof. Blaschke had given them information that contradicted this position. It is also hard to draw any firm conclusions from an interview Prof. Blaschke gave on the subject of Hitler's teeth while still in American captivity in early 1948. Although on this occasion Prof. Blaschke expressed confidence that the Soviets really did have Hitler's jawbone, he made two remarks that only undermined this view. First, as we saw above, he stated that Heusemann had not been qualified to give a "positive identification". Second, Prof. Blaschke challenged the Soviets to show him the jaw in question:

Why don't the Russians show this jaw to me? I only need one look and can definitely state this is or is not Hitler's jaw. 69 

The only obvious answer to this question is that the Soviets knew that it was not really Hitler's.70 Prof. Blaschke may even have been punished for these indiscretions. Towards the end of 1948, just as the Americans were about to release him, Prof. Blaschke was tried by a German "denazification" court and sentenced to a further three years in prison. 71 It looks suspiciously like he was being punished for more than just having been Hitler's dentist. Prof. Blaschke was released from prison and practised dentistry in Nuremberg until he died in 1959. He never said anything further about Hitler's teeth. His silence on the subject seems almost inexplicable.

Information derived from Prof. Blaschke is also conspicuously absent from Hitler's Death. If it was Prof. Blaschke's reconstruction of Hitler's jawbone that helped clinch the identification of the alleged Hitler remains, there can be no reason for omitting it from the Hitler's Death volume. In these circumstances it seems highly likely that Prof. Blaschke's evidence had only confirmed what the Soviets had already suspected—that they had been led down the garden path.

Finally, there is an obvious problem with the idea of thinking that Prof. Blaschke could be relied upon to tell the truth: if a dental hoax was perpetrated to mask Hitler's mysterious departure from history, as I allege, then Prof. Blaschke himself, who had been Hitler's dentist since 1932, would have been involved. He would have only needed to reproduce his own work in the mouth of someone who had been selected to die in Hitler's place to pull this off.


31. V. K. Vinogradov et al. (eds), Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, Chaucer Press, London, 2005, pp. 53-54
32. Hitler's Death, p. 54
33. Hitler's Death, p. 245
34. D. Marchetti et al., "The death of Adolf Hitler – forensic aspects", Journal of Forensic Sciences 2005 Sept; 50(5), Abstract, p. 1148, http://journalsip.astm.org/JOURNALS/ FORENSIC/PAGES/5060.htm
35. "Did Hitler And Eva Die One Year Ago?” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1946
36. "Yank Intelligence Officer Says He Doesn't Believe Hitler Dead", Charleston Gazette, 9 February 1947
37. Cited in D. Marchetti et al., p. 1150
38. Cited in D. Marchetti et al., p. 1148
39. Cited in D. Marchetti et al., p. 1148
40. Neither Adolf Hitler's nor Eva Hitler's dental charts have ever been found. According to Paul Manning, in Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile (Lyle Stuart, Secaucus, NJ, 1981, p. 182): "Bormann had removed them from the chancellery files."
41. Kay Lutze, "Von Liegnitz nach New York: Die Lebensgeschichte des jüdischen Zahnarztes Fedor Bruck (1895–1982)" ("From Liegnitz to New York: The Life of the Jewish Dentist Fedor Bruck..."), Zahnärtzliche Mitteilungen 96(10):124-27, 16 May 2006, http://www.zm-online.de/m5a. htm?/zm/10_06/pages2/hist1.htm (NB: Lutze is Bruck's grandchild.)
42. Hitler's Death, p. 95
43. Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1946, p. 7
44. Hitler's Death, pp. 97-99
45. Hitler's Death, p. 97
46. Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1946, p. 7
47. Hitler's Death, pp. 102-7
48. Hitler's Death, p. 106
49. Hitler's Death, pp 106-7
50. Hitler's Death, p. 99. Amazingly, this tooth was in the exact same location as the tooth that Heusemann told the Soviets (Hitler's Death, p. 97) she had helped extract from Hitler's mouth in 1944 (not the fourth, as Dr Bruck told the Western reporter). What are the odds of that?
51. Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1946, p. 7. Dr Bruck stated: "Two days after she told me the story, a Russian officer and a Russian woman drove up and asked her to prepare a bag for a visit of some days. I have not seen or heard of her nor Eichmann [sic] since."
52. Hitler's Death, pp. 95-100
53. The record of this five-hour-long interrogation is only a few pages long and can account for no more than 10 minutes of the interrogation at best, leaving one to wonder what other matters took up the rest of the time. Another curious fact is that the interrogation record actually combines evidence given on two occasions more than two years apart—on 19 May 1945 and 24 July 1947. No indication is given as to which sections derived from which interrogation. It is therefore impossible to state whether Heusemann gave the evidence I cite in 1945 or in 1947.
54. Hitler's Death, p. 99
55. Hitler's Death, pp. 101-2
56. Hitler's Death, p. 101: "In the upper jaw all natural teeth, except for the 6th." This implies that the sixth was a false tooth, not that there was no tooth in that location at all.
57. Hitler's Death, pp. 96, 102
58. http://www.guardian.co.uk/ Observer/international/story/0,6903, 1479109,00.html
59. Lutze, 2006
60. Hitler's Death, pp. 97-99
61. "Dentist Says Russ Have Hitler's Jaw", Oakland Tribune, 6 May 1948
62. Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1946, p. 7
63. Lutze, 2006
64. Bruck recalled: "When I asked whether the documents they were looking for were for the purpose of identifying some sort of fragments that had been discovered, the first lieutenant made a very annoyed official face and put his index finger over his mouth, from which I gathered that my guess had been on the right track." (Lutze, 2006)
65. See photograph, Hitler's Death, p. 97. 66. Lutze, 2006
67. For example: http://www.welt.de/ data/2006/10/25/1085392.html
68. "United States Forces in the European Theater", Military Intelligence Service Center, Final Interrogation Report no. 31 (O1-FIR No. 31), "Hitler's Teeth" (7 pages and annexes), 5 February 1946. A copy of this document is held in the William Russell Philp Collection, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, Stanford, California. Ronald Bulatoff, archival specialist at the Hoover Institution Archives, recently wrote to an Australian researcher with whom I am in contact confirming that the document remains classified. Oddly enough, Mark Benecke, a German forensic biologist, writes on his website (http://www.benecke.com/airhihe.html): "The reports of Hitler's dentist, Blaschke (who had formerly studied in the U.S.), and other witnesses clearly show that the teeth in that little cigar box must indeed be the Führer's (see Figure 5)." If Benecke has had access to a report that remains classified, this suggests that he is working in tandem with the US military to keep the hoax alive. It is hard to see any other reason why he should be granted access to a document that members of the general public are not allowed to examine.
69. Oakland Tribune, 6 May 1948
70. The Associated Press (AP) version of the same report evaded the problem of raising this response in the reader's mind by omitting Prof. Blaschke's challenge to the Russians. See "Russians Have Hitler's Jaw, Says Der Führer's Dentist", Indiana Evening Gazette, 5 May 1948
71. Valley Morning Star, 17 September 1948, section 2, p. 5


The Soviets' Futile Search for the Real Hitler Corpse
The evidence I have discussed so far establishes that, during the last days of the Third Reich
, multiple cremations were carried out in the Reich Chancellery grounds in front of sundry witnesses who had been persuaded to believe that the bodies they saw being cremated were those of Adolf and Eva Hitler. It would also appear that Heusemann and Echtmann, the two dental workers associated with Hitler's dentist, Professor Blaschke, deceived themselves into thinking that they possessed sufficient expertise to identify the human remains recovered by the Soviets as those of Adolf and Eva Hitler.

The progress of the Soviet investigation was so rapid, however, that it had begun to fall apart even before the problems with Heusemann's and Echtmann's evidence could have been detected. The Soviets' problems began on 8 May—the day the autopsy of the putative Hitler remains was carried out—when a "bullet-torn and battered body of a man identified as Hitler" was found in the ruins of the bunker. 1

An American war correspondent, Joseph ("Joe") W. Grigg, Jr, proudly announced from Berlin that Hitler's body had almost certainly been found. Grigg was soon forced to retract his scoop, however. On 10 May, he reported that "[f]our bodies, blackened and charred, that seem to answer to Hitler's general appearance have been dragged out of the [Chancellery] ruins". He observed that "none has been identified as being definitely that of the Nazi Führer". Considering that within five days they had found six corpses, any one of which could have been Hitler's, Grigg's conclusion was appropriately pessimistic: "...the Russians are beginning to believe that no body that can be identified without any shadow of doubt as that of Adolf Hitler ever will be found now". 2

It is no small indication of the difficulties the Soviets experienced that, within a month of being discovered, the corpses initially taken to be those of Hitler and his wife had been buried, unburied and reburied no less than three times. They were first buried at an undisclosed location near Berlin, then exhumed and moved to Finov in the Soviet Union, and then exhumed and reburied in Rathenau, Germany, on 3 June 1945. Nor did their travels end there. A month later, they were taken to Friedrichshafen, Germany, where one of Hitler's bodyguards, Harry Mengershausen, was asked to look at them for identification purposes. It would be hard to account for this macabre travelling show if the Soviets were sure that the bodies they had found were really those of the Hitler couple.

In early June, the substantial scale of the hoax became apparent when it was revealed that the bunker had been littered with bodies of numerous individuals dressed in Hitler's trousers. On 9 June, during a press conference attended by British, American, French and Russian reporters, the Soviet military commander Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov admitted that they had "found no corpses which could be Hitler's". The Soviet commandant of Berlin, Colonel-General Nikolai E. Bezarin, explained that the Russians had "...found several bodies in Hitler's Reich Chancellery with the Führer's name on their clothes...

In Hitler's Chancellery we found, in fact, too many bodies with his name on the clothes. It got to be a joke. Every time I would find a pair of pants I would say, 'These are Hitler's'." Zhukov told the reporters that he now considered it a serious possibility that Hitler had escaped Berlin by air. "He could have taken off at the very last moment, for there was an airfield at his disposal," he said. 3

Strikingly, one of the planted corpses could have belonged to Hitler's arch-enemy, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the duplicitous head of the Abwehr (German military intelligence) who was tried and sentenced to death for complicity in the 20 July 1944 assassination plot. In December 1950, Canaris' adjutant, Willy Jenke, told British author Ian Colvin that he had just received fresh information about Canaris' fate from a former acquaintance, Johannes Töppen, who had been the Abwehr's chief accountant. Töppen told Jenke that "Canaris was seen in Berlin about April 20th [1945] under close escort and...that he was subsequently told that the Admiral had been shot and buried in a bomb crater on April 23rd at a time when Hitler was ordering some of the last executions". 4 It would be incredibly ironic if the male corpse autopsied by the Soviets on 8 May 1945 had actually been that of Admiral Canaris.

By June 1945, the Soviets could be virtually certain that they had not found Hitler's corpse. From that point onwards, however, rather than acknowledging the prospect that Hitler's body might never be found, Stalin endorsed the idea that Hitler had escaped from the bunker. While attending the Potsdam Conference in Berlin in July 1945, during conversations with US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff, Stalin expressed the firm conviction that Hitler was still alive. In fact, in August 1945, he accused the British of "concealing the real, living Adolf Hitler in their sector of Berlin". 5

The Origins of the Suicide Legend

During the last week of April and first few days of May 1945
, the world laboured under considerable uncertainty as to Hitler's whereabouts. Reports that Hitler had gone to Berlin to conduct the city's defence were dismissed as propaganda. Among numerous reports published concerning this subject, several claimed that Hitler was already dead. The first such report came from a "high diplomat" who had reached safety in Switzerland; on 28 April, he said that Hitler and Göbbels had been shot three days earlier. 6 The next day, papers reported that according to a "high British source" Himmler had had Hitler poisoned. 7 The first official pronouncement on Hitler's fate came at 10.27 pm on 1 May 1945, when Admiral Karl Dönitz declared over Hamburg radio that Hitler had "fallen at his command post in the Reich Chancery fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and for Germany". Until they learned about this broadcast, the Allies apparently had not known that Hitler was dead. But the British accepted the idea with enthusiasm. "The Foreign Office took the view that it was 'extremely unlikely' Hitler's death would have been announced by the Germans if it had not actually occurred, the [anonymous Foreign Office] commentator said." 8

While the certainty of the British media set the tone for other countries in the Empire, such as Canada and Australia, scepticism was widespread in the United States. An editorial in the New York Times cautioned:

The Nazis have made lies so much a part of their politics, and the reports about Hitler's alleged doubles have been so widely spread, that these announcements are bound to leave in many minds that the master liar is attempting to perpetrate one last great hoax on the world in an effort to save himself, and perhaps prepare the way for his return at a later and more auspicious time. 9

The Salamanca Republican-Press wrote in the same vein:

The German radio is a creature of the Nazi regime, and one of the Nazi principles is that lying is not only permissible but praiseworthy if it will further Nazi purposes. Some such announcement as this would be a natural ruse if Hitler decided to do what he has been reported to have planned to do—disappear, and 'go underground', there to plan further crimes. 10

In his war column published on the same page, DeWitt Mackenzie asserted:

The story of Hitler's death is almost to [sic] good to be true, and certainly can't be accepted until proof is forthcoming, because there's such a strong possibility of trickery. 11

A Gallup poll subsequently established that 68 per cent of those surveyed questioned whether Hitler was really dead.12 However, the question of whether Hitler was really dead was instantly eclipsed by the question of how he had died. This time, the New York Times was at the least sceptical end of the spectrum, asserting in its editorial column that "there seems to be no good reason to doubt that Hitler…died as the [German] announcement says he did". 13

The editorial made the persuasive point that such a death would have helped "perpetuate the legend which formed the core of Nazi propaganda and by which [Hitler] rose to power— the legend that he and the Nazis were shining knights in armor fighting for European civilization against Bolshevism—'to their last breath'." At the other extreme, a British Foreign Office spokesman dismissed the idea that Hitler had gone down fighting as the "most complete nonsense" .14 To support this conclusion, the spokesman revealed that several days earlier, "Himmler was said to have given the information that Hitler was likely to die within 48 hours". 15

He had given this information to a Swedish contact, Count Folke Bernadotte, who later claimed that on this occasion Himmler had told him that he planned to create "a Hitler legend which, after the fall of the Third Reich, would play the same part as the 'stab in the back' phrase after the peace of Versailles" .16 If Himmler really had said this, Bernadotte must have relayed the information to the Allies very quickly, for, even before anyone could even be sure that Hitler was dead, the priority had shifted to insisting that Hitler "had met death in a manner which would thwart any die-hard Nazi attempt to build a Wagnerian legend about him".17

Intriguingly, an Associated Press report from London that was published in the Toronto Globe and Mail on 2 May 1945 asserted that Dönitz's claim that Hitler had died a hero's death had been denounced by a "ghost voice":

Dönitz eulogized Hitler as a man who had dedicated his life to Germany and to warring against 'Bolshevism', and who now had died a 'hero's death'. A powerful ghost voice interrupted him, shouting: 'This is a lie!' The ghost voice continued to heckle throughout the Dönitz speech. 18

Whether this report of a "ghost voice" is true or not, it shows that the Foreign Office was anxious from the first to cast doubt on claims that Hitler had died as a result of enemy action. The next day, 3 May, probably at the request of his political adviser, John Wheeler-Bennett of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations), US General Dwight D. Eisenhower laid his considerable prestige behind what seemed at the time to be the best alternative theory of Hitler's demise. He backed up the Foreign Office statement, explaining that early on the morning of 4 April Himmler had told Count Bernadotte that Hitler was "a dying man" and that Himmler's intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg, had told Bernadotte that Hitler was "suffering from a brain hemorrhage". 19

Initially, therefore, the Allies inclined towards the view that Hitler had died of natural causes, in effect taking Himmler's word over Dönitz's. A BBC announcer also told the world that Hitler had died of a stroke—information that had been leaked that same day at the San Francisco conference by the British Foreign Minister, Sir Anthony Eden. 20 However, the Allies were not merely prejudiced from the start against any account of Hitler's fate that might have fuelled the enthusiasm of the Nazi underground resistance, but were also biased in favour of the most ignominious account possible. Thus the idea that Hitler had died a natural death began being deflated as soon as evidence emerged that Hitler had not been in bad health at all.

On 7 May, the Baltimore Sun stated that according to Major Erwin Giesing (Hitler's brain, ear, nose and throat specialist, who had seen him on 15 February 1945), Hitler had been "in unusually good physical condition for a man of his age" and had certainly not died of a brain haemorrhage. 21 Reports pouring cold water on the theory that Hitler had been ill and had probably died a natural death or had been euthanized continued to be published whenever the opportunity arose. 22

But what really brought about the rapid demise of the natural death theory were the revelations of the most important member of the regime to have been captured alive thus far: Dr Hans Fritzsche. Dr Fritzsche, Göbbels's deputy in the Propaganda Ministry and Germany's leading radio propagandist, was taken into custody by the Soviets on 2 May after he had formally handed the city over to them in a ceremony in the Tiergarten. The next morning, 3 May, the Soviets issued a communiqué stating that Dr Fritzsche had made a deposition in which he declared that Hitler, Dr Göbbels and General Hans Krebs had all committed suicide in the bunker. 23

Although the Soviets were duly sceptical—Moscow state radio suggested that it was "another Fascist trick" designed to facilitate Hitler's escape—the suicide story was at once taken up by the western press. 24 Intriguingly, there is evidence that the public was preconditioned to accept the suicide theory. As early as 31 March 1945, the Globe and Mail published a Canadian Press report headlined "Expect Hitler To Be Suicide". Datelined "Emmerich, March 30", the piece stated that a rumour was current among German troops to the effect that Hitler would commit suicide. In any event, the suicide story was an immense boon to Anglo–American propaganda, since Hitler's resort to suicide could be used to convey a message about the nature of Nazism itself:

When the American journalist William L. Shirer, who had been living as a correspondent in Berlin until 1941, learned of Hitler's death by suicide in the bunker of the Reich Chancellery on 30 April 1945, he declared: 'In fact, I have always been certain myself that that was what he wanted to do in the end,' thereby seeing the Third Reich as an ultimately suicidal regime. 25

The suicide theory was also a weapon of psychological warfare on the German population. To understand the propaganda impact of the Hitler suicide legend on the German mind, it is important to understand that, for many if not most Germans, the idea that Hitler had taken his own life was deeply repugnant as it contradicted everything they believed he had stood for. When General Krebs gave him the news, General Helmuth Weidling recalled thinking:

So we have been fighting for five-and-a-half years for someone who committed suicide. Having drawn us into this terrible disaster, he himself chose the easy way out and left us to fend for ourselves. 26

At the other end of the military hierarchy, sixteen-year-old Dieter Borkowski, who had been among the Hitler Youth recruits fighting to defend Berlin to the last, felt drained of the desire to live. "These words make me feel sick, as if I have to vomit," he wrote.

I think that my life has no sense any more. What was this battle for, what were the deaths of so many people for? Life has apparently become worthless, for if Hitler has shot himself, the Russians will have finally won... Has the Führer not betrayed his own Volk then after all? 27

The suicide legend was therefore used to discredit Hitler in the eyes of his own followers and stifle their urge to resist foreign occupation. There was so much haste to assign to Hitler what was thought to be a fitting end that few people stopped to ask such obvious questions as how Dr Fritzsche knew that Hitler had committed suicide, whether the Soviets could have pressured him into saying this, or whether the suicide story could have been a cover story for Hitler's escape. Given Dr Fritzsche's status as the most important man in the Propagandaministerium after Dr Göbbels, it is self-evident that nothing he told the Soviets immediately after the regime collapsed can be regarded as free of the possibility of propagandistic deception. Yet in London and Washington, where throughout the war the view had been taken that the Nazis were unconscionable liars, there was a dramatic shift away from scepticism. The idea that Hitler had committed suicide was so appealing that any Nazi who claimed to know that Hitler had committed suicide never risked having his or her veracity impugned. Clearly, all Nazis were liars—except those who told the Allies what they wanted to hear.


Operation Trevor-Roper

The fact that Hitler's corpse had apparently not been found in Berlin
caused considerable consternation in the Western press. A Toronto Daily Star editorial commented anxiously on 18 July:

It is becoming apparent that indisputable proof of Hitler's death either during the past ten weeks or at some early future date, if he should still be alive, is highly desirable for psychological as well as for practical reasons. Unless his demise is beyond argument...the world is in for a potentially dangerous Hitler legend. This might become a psychological weapon in the efforts of German leaders eventually to restore the self-confidence and revive the truculence of this people who for so long have been intolerable disturbers of international peace. 28

Indeed, the very title of the editorial, "To Destroy Hitler, Whether Man or Myth", implies that it was considered as important to destroy Hitler "the myth" as Hitler "the man". By mid-1945, the public was being asked to choose between a proliferating number of escape stories and the suicide theory. Given that the escape stories were outlandish if not often patently ridiculous, the public was given the impression that only the suicide theory had any evidence to support it and deserved to be taken seriously.

The British response to the burgeoning Hitler escape stories was not long in coming. In September 1945, Brigadier Dick White, commander of the Intelligence Bureau in the British Zone of Occupation, commissioned Major Hugh Trevor-Roper, a young Oxford-trained historian who, since 1943, had supervised the work of the Secret Intelligence Service's Radio Intelligence Section (RIS), to investigate, at least ostensibly, the circumstances of Hitler's alleged death. This was the opening phase of the British establishment's fabrication of a narrative of the last days of the Third Reich that made short work of Hitler "the myth". Given that his only previous publication was a biography of a 17th-century English archbishop, William Laud, and that he neither read nor spoke German, Trevor-Roper was a curious choice for such a task. What's more, as the world saw in the 1980s, he authenticated the spurious "Hitler Diaries", even though the task of determining the authenticity of a single document would have been much simpler than that of establishing the truth about Hitler's demise.

During the last three months of 1945, according to the official story, Trevor-Roper and a team of intelligence agents travelled through Germany, tracking down and interrogating bunker survivors. However, this procedure did not bear a great deal of fruit, probably because most survivors were interned in Soviet prisons and concentration camps. In addition to uncovering the alleged diary of Hitler's valet Heinz Linge, Trevor-Roper achieved only one coup: scoring interviews with Gerda Christian, who had been one of Hitler's secretaries, and Else K
rüger, who had been Bormann's secretary. Surprisingly, Trevor-Roper seems not to have interviewed any witnesses who had fallen into American hands, which means the better part of those to be found outside Soviet prisons. It appears that instead of allowing him to meet with them, American intelligence operatives interviewed them and passed copies of their reports to him. In one particularly flagrant case, the Americans furnished Trevor-Roper with partly fabricated testimony; in another, they supplied information that had been obtained in such unusual conditions that it, too, must be considered suspect.

The first case was that of the famous German aviatrix Hanna Reitsch. In an interview with Ron Laytner that she authorised for publication only after her death, Reitsch stated explicitly that at least part of the account attributed to her in The Last Days of Hitler had been fabricated:

When I was released by the Americans I read historian Trevor-Roper's book, 'The Last Days of Hitler'. Throughout the book like a red line, runs an eyewitness report by Hanna Reitsch about the final days in the bunker. I never said it. I never wrote it. I never signed it. It was something they invented. Hitler died with total dignity. 29

This report, dated 8 October 1945, was written by Reitsch's interrogator, Captain Robert E. Work (Air Division, Headquarters, United States Forces in Austria, Air Interrogation Unit), and published for the first time in, of all places, Public Opinion Quarterly in 1946–47. 30

The second case was that of Nurse Erna Flegel. On 23 November 1945, several American intelligence agents took Flegel out for a six-course dinner, the result of which was a five-page statement in English which is presented as a summary of the information she allegedly imparted during her "interrogation". However, Flegel neither wrote the statement herself nor signed i t . 31 In fact, no one can be said to vouch for this document because, despite its having been declassified, the names of the persons responsible for it, including the name of the agency for which they worked, remain blacked out.

If this approach was typical, then Trevor-Roper's chief sources were summaries of information that had already been pre-digested for him by American intelligence operatives—involving what distortions and attempts at ironing out inconsistencies we will probably never know. Given that there were few bunker survivors in British hands and that Trevor-Roper had no access to bunker survivors in Soviet hands, his task basically appears to have been that of creating a coherent narrative out of information that he was being spoon-fed and that he had no means of assessing himself. There is no reason to believe that any of the evidence that reached Trevor-Roper did so with the active consent of the witnesses. My impression is that in 1945, captured Nazis were little more than the puppets of their Allied captors; they could be made to say anything their captors wanted them to say, and if they objected there was nothing they could do about it anyway.

Strikingly, Trevor-Roper made his "conclusions" public less than two months after he'd begun investigating the case. At a press conference on 1 November 1945, Trevor-Roper (who remained anonymous at this stage and was referred to in print merely as "a young British intelligence officer") presented reporters with a statement that consisted of little more than a narrative of the last week or so of Hitler's life. It described how Hitler had committed suicide, probably by shooting himself in the mouth. 32  Although Trevor-Roper told the reporters that so far he had spoken to about 20 witnesses, the statement did not name even one of them. Nonetheless, reporters probably left the conference under the erroneous impression that the version of Hitler's last days that he had provided was backed up by the testimony of multiple witnesses. Yet he had not found a single new eyewitness to the critical events—Hitler's suicide and cremation; all he had done was take Kempka's testimony as gospel truth and discount Karnau's.

The final section of the Trevor-Roper statement rejected theories that Hitler could have escaped Berlin. In this section, it becomes glaringly obvious that his investigation had been designed to lead to predetermined conclusions. Here we learn, first of all, that Trevor-Roper assumed that Hitler's fate had been entirely determined by last-minute contingencies. According to this line of reasoning, Hitler could not have escaped the Chancellery because this or that avenue of escape had been rendered impossible (or at least difficult, which for Trevor-Roper appeared to mean the very same thing).

Trevor-Roper circumscribed Hitler's exit possibilities by means of generalisations that are all extremely questionable. He wrote, for example, that it would have been impossible for Hitler to have been flown out of Berlin because his "two pilots" remained in the bunker and "took part in the attempted escape on the night of 1 May". 33 This is all very well, so long as you presuppose that Hitler would never have permitted anyone else to fly him out of Berlin or that one of the pilots could not have left the bunker and returned to it afterwards. Trevor-Roper confined his discussion of Hitler's escape possibilities to planes and cars. However, in January 1946, General Helmuth Weidling, who was interned in a Soviet prison camp, furnished a long statement for the Soviets in which he conceded that he had grown sceptical about the suicide theory. He had meditated on the problem of Hitler's escape possibilities and concluded:

On the night of 29/30 April there were still opportunities to leave— through the Zoo underground station in western Berlin and through the Friedrichstrasse station in the north. One could have escaped relatively safely through the underground tunnels.

Can we really believe that this possibility never occurred to Trevor-Roper? Since it's unlikely that he did not know that Berlin possessed an extensive underground railway system, it seems that the only escape possibilities Trevor-Roper was interested in talking about were those he could exclude. Perhaps Trevor-Roper's most conspicuous flaw was his haste to discount the possibility that the eyewitnesses could have put their heads together to work up a coherent story to cover up for Hitler's escape. In his report, he commented:

It is considered quite impossible that the versions of the various eye-witnesses can represent a concerted cover story; they were all too busy planning their own safety to have been able or disposed to learn an elaborate charade, which they could still maintain after five months of isolation from each other, and under detailed and persistent cross-examination. 35

This argument makes about as much sense as the claim that there can be no such thing as an orchestra because there is no way that a large number of people could ever perform a complex piece of music such as a symphony at the same time. In any case, the "charade" was hardly that "elaborate". As we saw in part one, there are many significant differences between the recollections of the various eyewitnesses. The SS orchestra was playing the same tune, to be sure, but not always in the same key.

Kempka Unravelled

Operation Trevor-Roper is best seen, therefore
, not as a bona fide investigation of Hitler's fate but as the major stage in the British plan to enshrine anti-Nazi propaganda as historical fact. As we saw in part one, the first eyewitnesses to go public were Hitler's chauffeur Erich Kempka and RSD bodyguard Hermann Karnau. After Kempka's veracity was called into question by Karnau's claims, Karnau's story virtually disappeared and Kempka's story was extolled as the more authoritative. Indeed, Kempka's evidence not only became the basis for Trevor-Roper's book but Kempka was also endorsed at Nuremberg as the sole source of reliable information concerning Hitler's demise.

The primary reason Kempka's story won such a positive reception from the Anglo–American authorities was that Kempka was the sole source of evidence that appeared to support the suicide theory (Karnau simply referred to the cremation he had witnessed). Kempka also contradicted Soviet claims that Hitler could have escaped. In his 4 July 1945 interview record, he declared:

[With a] statement reported to have been made by the Russian Marshall Chukov [sic] that Hitler and Eva Braun could have escaped from the Berlin area by air, I can't agree. On 4/30/45 and two or three days previous, no one could possibly have left the inner parts of Berlin by air. There was a heavy artillery fire on all the inner parts of Berlin during those days. Neither did I hear about a plane arriving or leaving after the 25th or 26th of April 1945. 36

Unfortunately for Kempka, one of the best-attested events of the last days of the Third Reich is that of a flight piloted by General Robert Ritter von Greim and Hanna Reitsch that arrived in Berlin on the morning of 26 April. The same pair took off from Berlin in the early hours of 29 April. Reitsch herself not only spoke about the two flights on numerous occasions between 1945 and her death in 1979 but also devoted a chapter to them in her autobiography Flying Is My Life. 37

Given that the evidence from other sources is abundant enough to establish that they actually took place, there is something extremely suspicious about Kempka's assertion that no such flights would have been possible. There is no reason to jump to the conclusion, however tempting, that Kempka must have lied about being in the Chancellery during the regime's final days. He could have been temporarily absent from the bunker on a mission. If so, he had returned by the afternoon of 30 April. As we saw in part one, several eyewitnesses have provided evidence establishing Kempka's presence at a cremation held in the Chancellery garden at around 3.00 pm that afternoon. SS Hauptsturmführer Karl Schneider acknowledged speaking to Kempka at the Chancellery garage on the evening of 1 May. He told the Soviets on 19 May 1945 that on this occasion Kempka had told him that Hitler was "allegedly dead". 38

The explanation that best accounts for events, therefore, is that Kempka sought to suppress his knowledge of the two flights. When Kempka first gave his story to the Americans in June 1945, he had no reason to believe that they knew anything at all about them. There is a very good reason why Kempka would not have wanted to mention these flights: the cover story—that Greim flew to Berlin to receive instructions from Hitler, who had just made him the new head of the Luftwaffe—is preposterous. Why would Hitler, who was anxious for everyone else to leave Berlin, want someone to come to him? Why would he have been so keen to talk to the head of an almost nonexistent entity? The official story fails to justify Greim and Reitsch's extremely dangerous flight. It also does not explain why the pair's flight from the Luftwaffe air base at Rechlin near Berlin to Gatow airport on Berlin's periphery was accompanied by an escort of 30–40 fighter jets—in other words, the extant Luftwaffe virtually in its entirety. Clearly, the flight had a more serious purpose than we have been led to believe.

One writer believes that Greim and Reitsch ferried Martin Bormann out of Berlin. 39 However, in a striking passage in his memoirs, former Volkssturm member Dieter H. B. Protsch relates an incident that took place in Berlin on 29 April 1945. That day, which happened to be his thirteenth birthday, in the course of searching for food for his family he stumbled upon a basement occupied by several Waffen-SS men operating radio equipment who gave him bread and chocolate:

After some small talk about the family, they suddenly stopped talking when the radio operator raised his hand to demand quiet. The 'Funker' (Radio Operator), wearing a head set, started smiling and stated that 'der Führer' got his belated birthday present. He explained further that he [Hitler] made it safely out of Berlin, flown out by his personal pilot Hanna Reitsch, Germany's best female test pilot. The report stated that she was flying a small one engine, two or three seater plane, a so-called 'Fiseler [sic] Storch'. 40

Thus the truth seems to be that, exactly as the Soviets subsequently alleged, Hitler did indeed make it out of Berlin— more or less around the time that the official story tells us that he was still in the bunker dictating his Political Testament—and that Erich Kempka knew precisely when and how this had taken place, but withheld the information from the Americans. According to Reitsch, the flight reached Rechlin at about 3.00 am. Here, she states, Greim attended a conference. Then she and Greim flew—apparently using a different aircraft—to Plön, a distance of some 400 miles. Their next destinations were Dobbin, where Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel was, 41 Lübeck, Plön again ("to see Dönitz"), and finally Königgrätz (in Bohemia, now Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic). 42

If we assume, as I think we should, that Hitler was present during at least the first of these several stages, we can say that at Rechlin the trail goes cold. If Hitler left Berlin with Greim and Reitsch, then that would account for the series of bizarre events—the marriage to Eva Braun, the writing of the Political Testament, the recurring rages—that have been enshrined in official history as "the last days of the Third Reich". Obviously, Hitler's last days in the bunker needed to be accounted for, and so a lurid series of episodes had to be invented to fill in the yawning gap. This three-part series has not tried to resolve the many questions raised by these bizarre episodes for the obvious reason that they all depend on an underlying assumption—that Hitler committed suicide in the bunker—which we feel we have shown to be nothing but a propaganda fiction. 

About the Author:

Giordan Smith is an independent academic from Sydney, Australia, with a special interest in modern German history.

First published in Nexus New Times Magazine


 1. Globe and Mail, Toronto, 11 June 1945
 2. Joe Grigg, "Berlin Ruins Yield Bodies", Hamilton Spectator, 10 May 1945
 3. Globe and Mail, 9 May 1945
 4. Ian Colvin, Chief of Intelligence, Victor Gollancz, London, 1951, p. 214
 5. Fred C. McKenzie, The Greatest Illusion: The Death (?) of Adolf Hitler, 1995, quoted at: www.blackraiser.com/nredoubt/identity.htm
 6. Toronto Daily Star, 28 April 1945
 7. Nevada State Journal, 29 April 1945
 8  Hamilton Spectator, 2 May 1945
 9. New York Times, 2 May 1945

10. Salamanca Republican-Press, 2 May 1945
11. Salamanca Republican-Press, 2 May 1945
12. Michael Beschloss, The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1941–1945, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2002,    p. 226
13. New York Times, 2 May 1945
14. Hamilton Spectator, 2 May 1945
15 . Globe and Mail, 2 May 1945; Hamilton Spectator, 2 May 1945
16. Count Folke Bernadotte, "Accounts Of Führer's Last Heroic Fight Are Pure Myth", Hamilton Spectator, 5 September 1945
17. Hamilton Spectator, 3 May 1945
18. Globe and Mail, 2 May 1945
19 . Drew Middleton, "Story of Hitler's Death As Hero Declared a Lie", Globe and Mail, 3 May 1945. However, it is probably worth noting that, according to Bernadotte's own account, Himmler had told him that "Hitler was probably already dead and that, if not, he would be within the next few days".
20. Toronto Telegram, 2 May 1945
21 . Lee McCardell, "Assert Hitler Almost Normal On February 15", Hamilton Spectator, 7 May 1945
22 . For example, Field Marshal Kesselring, who had last seen Hitler in mid-April when "he appeared in excellent health"; Howard Cowan, "Kesselring Most Surprised Hitler Remained In Berlin", Hamilton Spectator, 10 May 1945
23. Globe and Mail, 3 May 1945; 8  Hamilton Spectator, 3 May 1945
24. Globe and Mail, 3 May 1945
25. Christian Goeschel, "Suicide at the End of the Third Reich", Journal of Contemporary History 2006; 41(1), p. 155
26. V. K. Vinogradov et al. (eds), Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, Chaucer Press, London, 2005, p. 236
27. Cited in Omer Bartov, Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich, Oxford University Press, New York, 1991, p. 110
28. "To Destroy Hitler, Whether Man or Myth", Toronto Daily Star, 18 July 1945
29  Ron Laytner, "The First Astronaut Was A Woman", Edit International, http://www.editinternational.com/printstory.php?cat=42f3cd58d6fc1&sub=44ee0674d77d6
30. Robert E. Work, "Last Days in Hitler's Air Raid Shelter", Public Opinion Quarterly 1946–1947 Winter; 10(4):565-81. A different translation of the same report is included in Hitler's Death, although without the least acknowledgement that Reitsch had repudiated it.
31. The complete document can be viewed online at: www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/nurseflegel1.html32 . "Text of British Report Holding Hitler Ended His Life", New York Times, 1 November 1945
33. ibid.
34. Hitler's Death, p. 238. I would observe that a living Hitler did not need to escape Berlin; for example, a courier carrying a box with the Führer's ashes in it could have taken it out of the city.
35. "Text of British Report Holding Hitler Ended His Life", New York Times, 1 November 1945
36. http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/imt/nca/nca-06/nca-06-3735-ps
37. See Hanna Reitsch, "The Last Journey to Berlin", in Flying Is My Life, Putnam's Sons, New York, 1954, pp. 220-37. The Greim–Reitsch flights were not even the only flights in and out of central Berlin in this period. In her book, Reitsch refers to at least two others.
38. Hitler's Death, p. 43.
3 9 . Carter P. Hydrick, Critical Mass: The Real Story of the Birth of the Atomic Bomb and the Nuclear Age, 1998, available online at: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/atomicbomb/chap12.htm
40. Dieter H. B. Protsch, Be All You Can Be: From a Hitler Youth in WWII to a US Army Green Beret, Trafford Publishing, 2004, p. 32
41. Keitel confirms in his memoirs, p. 261, that he was at Dobbin this day, thus confirming Reitsch's reliability. He adds the striking information, which Reitsch does not mention, that Himmler was at Dobbin, too. Wilhelm Keitel, In The Service Of The Reich: The Memoirs of Field Marshal Keitel, ed. Walter Goerlitz, Focal Point Publications, London, 2003
42. Reitsch, Flying Is My Life, pp. 235-36

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1 comment:

  1. How about this ONE, we not only fabricated his death, but we also fabricated his life!


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