This image, which suddenly began appearing online, is believed by some to show Adolf Hitler in his last days.
The photo appears to be an altered image of actor Bruno Ganz, from the 2004 movie "Downfall" [Der Untergang]
The picture below, however, seems to be the original source....
29 May 1943:
An elderly resident of the Bishopswood Home in Highgate, north London, having a rest in an armchair, with his handkerchief shielding his face
Original Publication: "Picture Post"
'Aged People And The War' - pub. 1943
[Photo by Kurt Hutton/Picture Post/Getty Images]
Credit: Kurt Hutton / Stringer
Kurt Hutton was one of the leading photographers who worked for the famous British Magazine "Picture Post". The same picture appears on page 38 in an album of Hutton's photos, "Speaking Likeness", published by the Focal Press in 1947. Hutton calls it "Forty Winks" and published details about how it was taken.
"Forty Winks", he says, "was caught as I strolled round an old people's home in search of local colour".
He tells us he took the picture with a Leica camera using an 9 cm f4 Elmar lens. The aperture was f.4.5. and the shutter speed 1/8 second. And the picture was taken with a combination of daylight and a photoflood from the ceiling.
Other captions about the Bishopswood Home inform us that:
"Many of the residents need accommodation because their homes have been bombed or their families scattered".
In other words the old man was a victim of Hitler's bombs during the wartime Blitz on London. He was driven out of his home - made homeless by Hitler's bombing - and had to go and live in this old peoples' home.
The Wildly Misunderstood Photos of Hitler in Disguise
The legend of how a make-up artist reimagined the German dictator blossomed in the Internet age.
by Andy Wright
17 August 2016
By 1944, the face of Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler had stared out at the public from newspapers and newsreels for years. His unmistakable mustache, plastered hair and manic gaze were burned into the brains of the public [where they remain].
There was a flipside, also, to that iconic visage — the fear that the genocidal dictator could wipe his most recognizable features away, and fade into the crowd.
It was this fear that led a New York makeup artist named Eddie Senz to give Hitler a make-under. In a series of altered photographs, reportedly created for the U.S. government, Hitler sports a beard; he has glasses, is bald, and parts his hair differently. The images are strange, otherworldly, even darkly funny—there’s something satisfying about seeing the man stripped of the things that lend his face import.
The story is that Senz was called upon by his country to carry out cosmetic intelligence, providing the feds with a look-book of disguises that would enable them to nab Hitler if he shed the mustache and made a run for it. This tale surfaced in print through the years in outlets from "Der Spiegel", to the "Associated Press" to the "Times Picayune" to Australia’s "Herald Sun". It enjoyed a second life online, where it was reported by the "Daily Mail", "Business Insider" and found its way onto "Reddit" and other sites. But this version of events is not quite the truth.
Born in 1899, Senz was a legacy makeup man.
"I came by my work honestly," Senz told "The New York Times" in 1961.
"My father was make-up director for the Metropolitan Opera House and I was practically raised backstage".
Senz went to Hollywood, where he tended the blossoming stars of "talkies," doing make-up on the sets of Paramount, Fox and Warner Brothers.
His work with celebrities like Rudolph Valentino helped launch his career as a go-to authority on beauty, dispensing tutorials and tips in magazines and newspapers.
Towards the end of the war, there was a fear that Hitler would flee in a disguise
At the same time Senz was anointing starlets with powder and lipstick, World War II was grinding to an end. The Allies invaded France on D-Day, 6 June 1944, and proceeded to push back German forces in Europe. With defeat on the horizon, people began speculating about how or if Hitler would meet his demise. The idea that he would disguise himself and escape retribution by fleeing abroad was widespread.
[This fear was validated by history; plenty of Nazis successfully moved abroad and many were even assisted by the United States government in relocation].
The scenarios were alarming.
"Adolf Hitler has had his face lifted, his whiskers removed, his nose changed by facial surgery, his hair returned to its natural white for a man of his age, and parted the normal way on the left side," wrote the Berlin bureau chief of the "Associated Press" in a 1944 article.
The same year, the "New York Times" published a story by German journalist Victor Schiff that also imagined a world where Hitler altered his appearance to dodge authorities.
"Can you imagine how Adolf Hitler would look without his mustache and his dark lock, his hair cut short and dyed fair or ginger or white, and wearing horn-rimmed glasses and perhaps a bowler hat?"
"Times" readers didn’t need to use their imagination, because the paper helpfully published images of Hitler in various costumes.
"These changes are illustrated above from suggestions by Eddie Senz of New York, make-up expert for the screen, stage and opera," read the caption. "According to Mr. Senz, the hardest feature to hide is Hitler’s eyes—which he says 'are the most remarkable I have ever seen'.
This could have been the end of it. Upon his death in 1973 Senz would be remembered for his work on stage and screen, not the unusual series of images that appeared in 1944.
But the U.S. government had taken note. The Office of Strategic Services [OSS] a government agency that preceded the CIA, kept tabs on the news, and someone clipped the article and filed it away. Decades later, the Internet would help resurrect the photos and Senz. The records of the OSS were declassified and made available to researchers; eventually several of them were published online through the National Archives and Records Administration.
The first fresh mention of the Senz photos appeared in a short article in "Der Spiegel" in 1998.
"The US Office of Strategic Services wanted to be prepared for anything and instructed New York artist Eddie Senz to create the images", the story reported. The story does not specify what document the images were discovered in.
This triggered a flood of follow-up stories; several newspapers reprinted the images and similar stories. In 2012, they resurfaced online and the legend grew: The photos were distributed to officers abroad so they could hunt for Hitler, the photos were created on D-Day, they were distributed before the D-Day invasion, the photos had never before been seen until "Der Spiegel" unearthed them in the 90s.
The last bit is the easiest to debunk; the images obviously appeared in "The New York Times" in 1944. The National Archives and Record Administration confirmed via E-mail that they credit the images to the newspaper. According to official records, the OSS made a habit of accruing photographs of prominent people, often from commercial sources. The Senz series is stored in a box along with images of photographs of military and civilian figures from over seventy-five countries, including Josef Stalin and Mao Tse Tung.
It seems most likely that it was the "New York Times" that commissioned the images from one of the day’s foremost experts on faces. Since then, thanks to the Internet and an insatiable hunger for World War II narratives, the story has taken on a Hollywood sheen: Senz is the glamorous make-up man called upon by the most secretive forces of the United States government to play a role in bringing a monster to justice.
After the Hitler affair, Senz continued to work with American stars. He opened a bustling salon in Manhattan, styled Broadway stars, and beautified the political elite, including first lady Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson and her daughters.
It’s hard to imagine, though, that Senz would easily forget the affair.
Prior to Hitler’s death in 1945, people lived in fear that he would escape. After his death, they refused to believe it had happened.
For years, the FBI was flooded with news of Hitler sightings, some of which were investigated. He was spotted in a cafeteria in Los Angeles. He was living in Wisconsin, where he acted deranged and played the violin. He was a communist in Philadelphia; he lived in Miami and had plastic surgery.
Face Lift for Hitler?
Daily Mercury [Mackay, Qld]
7 April 1945
"The question whether Hitler may be undergoing operations to disguise his appearance is being seriously discussed in responsible quarters," writes John Gaunt, "Daily Express" special correspondent.
"Reliable reports reaching London show that a number of Germany's leading plastic surgeons have been brought into the Berchtesgaden fortress in recent weeks.
"As the tide of war gets nearer to this last Redoubt the question whether it will be possible to identify Hitler when he is caught is becoming more urgent. The question is exercising Allied Intelligence departments and the new Allied international 'Scotland Yard' set up to track war criminals.
"The suggestion that Hitler may be having his face changed under guise of having bomb injuries attended to is not so fantastic as it sounds. The Nazi leaders are a bunch of gangsters, and during the heyday of gangsterism in the United States gang leaders made great use of plastic surgeons. Tell tale scars were removed, fingertips changed, and faces lifted. It entailed fairly long periods of disappearance from the public gaze, which was made all the easier if the gangster had a hideout or double. Hitler has both.
"In any case, except when roused by oratory or in passion, Hitler is a dull and colorless little man, with lackluster eyes. It would need only smallest alterations and he could easily pass for any little Austrian bourgois drafted for forced labor in the fortress area".
Although Adolf Hitler claimed the Germans were of a superior Aryan race of white, tall, blonde hair, blue-eyed individuals, he himself was of modest height, blue-eyed, and brown-haired. Traudl Junge, his last secretary often told in interviews, that people were amazed about Hitler’s blue eyes. Those who met Hitler, after the War often refer, in their reminiscences, to his remarkable pale, clear blue eyes, which many state, unequivocally, had a distinctly hypnotic quality.
Hitler’s eyes are important historically because of the mystical qualities sometimes attributed to them: followers frequently describe them as blazing, hypnotic, dominating. In objective fact, they were physically prominent –large and slightly bulging– and Hitler made a point of using them for dramatic effect. It was his practice, when meeting someone for the first time, to look at them with what he imagined to be a penetrating gaze. Not surprisingly, this made a profound impression on many visitors, especially those who had come to the interview wanting this be their unforgettable meeting with the Führer. Others found the famous stare "opaque, dull".
Göbbels described one of his first meetings with Adolf Hitler in the diaries he kept:
"Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king".
Leon Degrelle in his article 'The Enigma of Hitler' ["The Journal of Historical Review"]:
"Hitler had deep blue eyes that many found bewitching, although I did not find them so. Nor did I detect the electric current his hands were said to give off. I gripped them quite a few times and was never struck by his lightning".
Sefton Delmer of the "Daily Express" wrote on 23 February 1933:
"By a detour we next reached a part of the building which was actually in flames. Firemen were pouring water into the red mass. Hitler watched them for a few moments, a savage fury blazing from his pale blue eyes".
Karl Ludecke, who published a book called "I knew Hitler", wrote the following about the first time that he heard Hitler speak:
"Hitler was a slight, pale man with brown hair parted to one side. He had steel-blue eyes -he had the look of a fanatic- he held the audience, and me with them, under a hypnotic spell by the sheer force of his conviction".
Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstängl was a Harvard-educated German businessman who was an intimate of Adolf Hitler before falling out of favor and defecting. In his article in "Collier’s, 4 August 1934, 'My Leader' he tells how he got to know and serve Hitler for whom he has greatest admiration:
"Then Drexler introduced Adolf Hitler. He didn’t look very impressive standing there in repose. That is, until you noticed his eyes. He had clear blue eyes and in them there was neither guile nor fear. There was honesty; there was sincerity; there was a hint of scorn".
Martha Dodd writes in her book "Through Embassy Eyes":
"The first glance left me with a picture of a weak, soft face, with pouches under the eyes, full lips and very little bony facial structure. The mustache didn’t seem as ridiculous as it appeared in pictures – in fact, I scarcely noticed it; but I imagine that is because I was pretty well conditioned to such things by that time. As has often been said, Hitler’s eyes were startling and unforgettable – they seemed pale blue in color, were intense, unwavering, hypnotic.
"Certainly the eyes were his only distinctive feature. They could contain fury and fanaticism and cruelty; they could be mystic and tearful and challenging. This particular afternoon he was excessive, informal, he had a certain quiet charm, almost a tenderness of speech and glance".
Hundreds of other, similar quotes are to be found in mainstream Hitler biographies, from John Toland to Alan Bullock.
"Himmler, too, would be easy enough to disguise, though Göring's size and Göbbels glowing eyes and club foot would be difficult to conceal.
"The escape situation has deteriorated for Nazi leaders recently. Argentine for so long regarded with favor and the recipient of discreet investments has declared war; and Sweden, has declared her intention of not harboring war criminals, and would certainly not receive the more prominent ones".
The Moscow correspondent of "Associated Press" says Hitler, Himmler, and Mussolini are expected to seek refuge in Japan almost any time now according to a Rumanian diplomat returning home from Tokyo,
The diplomat, Victor Gutxulesco, stated that they had been expected there for a long time. The Japanese did not appear particularly pleased about giving shelter to the Fascist leaders, fearing that it might only make life harder for them.
He was in the Soviet Union, Argentina and Denmark. Even today, people refuse to believe that Hitler perished in a Bunker by his own hand in April 1945; there are websites and books devoted to telling the truth about the dictator’s escape to Argentina and other lands.
No Report on Hitler
The Daily News [Perth, WA]
8 March 1949
JOHANNESBURG: Afrikanders near Bredasdorp [Cape Province] still believe that Adolf Hitler was landed on the Union coast from a submarine and is hiding in the district.
Police, however, are not worrying.
When Johannesburg asked the local sergeant to check the report, he said:
"I have no time to investigate the Hitler story today".
On some of these sites you’ll find the images Senz helped create, proffered as proof that the United States government knew Hitler was on the run and in disguise.
Hitler’s death is unsatisfying; he was never held accountable before the world. Maybe this is why people felt compelled to tell stories about his survival. If he had lived, it meant he could be hunted down and punished.
On 10 May 1945, a spokesman for the Red Army staff stationed in the ruins of Berlin declared peremptorily to Allied journalists rushing from all sides: "No corpse could be identified as Hitler's".
On the 26th of the same month, Stalin himself told Harry Hopkins [who was Roosevelt's gray eminence during the war]: "Hitler has escaped and is hiding". He reiterated on 6 June, saying before the same interlocutor: "I am convinced that Hitler is alive".
On 9 June, during a press conference, Marshal Zhukov [leader of the occupation forces in Germany] added: "We have not identified Hitler's body, which may have flown from Berlin to the last. The condition of the runway allowed him to do so".
Marshal Zhukov meant the famous avenue "Unter den Linden" on which the pilot Jürgen Bosser on 26 April, had succeeded by a tour de force, to land without damage an Arado-96, which had on board General Ritter Von Greim. The general was accompanied by squadron commander Hanna Reitsch, the unsurpassed virtuoso of glider sailing. After staying at the Bunker until 29 April, von Greim and Reitsch managed to leave Berlin as they had come, and, according to Marshal Zhukov, the following day, Monday 30 April, "A small plane took off at the dawn of the Tiergarten with three men and a woman on board". Zhukov added: "It is also indisputably established that a submarine left Hamburg before the arrival of the British troops, taking several passengers, including a woman".
The hypothesis of the departure of Hitler and Eva Braun aboard this small plane which, according to Marshal Zhukov, would have taken off from the Tiergaten at the dawn of 30 April 1945 is contradicted by the concordant testimonies of the nurses of the Bunker, as reported by Roger Depley. On Tuesday, 1 May, at 10:30 pm, they were all supposed to learn that Hitler wished to bid them farewell, for they thought he had left several days earlier for an unknown destination. Hitler received them in the company of Professor Strumpfegger, his special surgeon. This same collective testimony at the same time invalidates all the declarations under which Hitler would have killed himself on 30 April. On the other hand, the possibility of fitting a long-cruise submarine into the port of Hamburg between the morning of Tuesday 1 May and the dawn of Friday 4 May could possibly be retained, since the second British army had not entered the city until the 4th.
From 9 June, 1945, the Soviets had intimated to Allied officers through Colonel-General Berzarin that it might well have been Hitler that refuge in Spain, placing himself under the protection of General Franco. Conversing the next day with General Eisenhower, Zhukov said: "Our soldiers have found no trace of Hitler's corpse".
On 17 July, receiving US Secretary of State James Byrnes, Stalin insisted: "The careful investigations of our investigators failed to find traces of Hitler's remains, and no positive proof of his death". Going further, the seven members of the commission concluded their report by saying: "Hitler is not dead, he fled".
This theory, according to which Hitler and his wife would have taken a plane from Berlin to Hamburg and then boarded a state-of-the-art submarine type XXI seems the most likely, especially since 2 U-Boats were lost in the South Atlantic after the end of the hostilities and were traveling on the "probable" route of the submarine in which Hitler would have fled ...
Finally, to further sow doubt, it is necessary to compare the statements of the staff of the Hitler Bunker, as to the time and manner which Hitler followed himself, when he married Eva Braun and what time he said farewell.
The persistent myth of Hitler's survival
By David Greenberg
2 June 2003
The Hitler mystery, the feverish speculation after World War II about whether Adolf Hitler survived the fall of Berlin — born of real confusion, stoked by the Soviet Union for political purposes, nurtured by conspiracy theorists, and spun into kitschy movies and novels— has spawned a full-fledged body of lore, what historian Donald McKale labeled [in the title of his book on the subject] "The Survival Myth." The myth that McKale documents is worth revisiting since its longevity indicates the tenacious hold that fallen dictators have over our imagination—and reveals our surprising ambivalence about total victory.
In the last months of World War II, as the Allies closed in on Berlin, rumors spread about what happened to Hitler. Some said that Hitler had a body double who had died in his place, even as the Nazi leader decamped to South America or to his Bavarian mountain retreat. Others held that Eva Braun had borne Hitler a child who might someday revive Nazism.
Although Hitler and Braun, it is now known, committed suicide on 30 April 1945, that was not certain for many months. The interval of ambiguity allowed wild suppositions to flourish. The first seemingly authoritative statement came on 1 May, with the Soviet Army in Berlin, when a Hamburg radio station announced that the Führer, fighting valiantly at his offices at the Reich Chancellery, had been killed and named Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, the head of the Navy, as his successor.
"Our Führer Adolf Hitler is dead," Dönitz came on the radio to say. "… He died a hero's death".
But just then a voice of unknown origin interrupted, declaring, "This is a lie!" and urging listeners to "rise against Dönitz".
This bizarre broadcast, especially in the context of the Nazis' well-known mastery of Propaganda, produced a strange blend of hope and disbelief. That the German capital had fallen not to the Americans or the British but to the Soviets—hardly known themselves for objective and honest news reporting—added to the unreliability of the information. Little in the following weeks clarified Hitler's fate.
On 2 May, President Harry Truman told reporters that the United States had "official information" that Hitler was dead, but neither he nor his aides could provide any proof. For months, conflicting press reports fed the confusion. One much-hyped article in the "Chicago Times" placed Hitler and Braun in Argentina, living on an estate in frigid Patagonia; though based wholly on hearsay, it was picked up by every major American and European newspaper.
Soviet leader Josef Stalin and his regime actively encouraged doubts about Hitler's death. On 2 May, "Tass", the Soviet news agency, warned that the radio announcement of the Führer's demise was a "fascist trick" designed to allow him to go "underground." This proposition became the official Soviet line.
On 6 June, Red Army officials in Berlin declared that they had found Hitler's corpse, but just three days later, their commander, Marshal Georgi Zhukov, denied that Hitler's body had been identified and suggested that "He could have flown away from Berlin at the very last moment". In June and July, Stalin personally told Truman, Secretary of State James Byrnes, and American envoy Harry Hopkins that he was sure Hitler was alive. Most audaciously, Moscow charged in September 1945 that the British had been hiding Hitler and Braun in a castle in Westphalia.
Stalin's motives for this disinformation remain inscrutable. Although given his paranoia, he might have believed it, more likely he hoped to use the threat of Hitler's survival for strategic advantage. If the resurgence of a Nazi-led, expansionist Germany remained a prospect, then Stalin might gain leverage for reparations and more favorable postwar borders. In the ideological war with the West, he could portray the capitalist Allies as soft on fascism and Soviet communism as fascism's true enemy.
The British sought to refute the outrageous charge with a thorough investigation that involved numerous interviews with witnesses to Hitler's death. The resulting report, which conclusively fixed Hitler's death as a suicide on 30 April in his Bunker, helped quell much rumor-mongering. So did the publication [and astonishing popularity] two years later of "The Last Days of Hitler", by the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who had helped conduct the British government's inquiry and enriched that account with meticulous sourcing.
But even these reports couldn't satisfy every skeptic. Because they stated that the bodies of Hitler and Braun were burned with as much as 180 liters of gasoline, some enterprising amateur scientists undertook showing that such an amount of gas couldn't consume a human body, in one experiment setting fire to a pig. Others revived the Doppelgänger thesis, suggesting that the man whom witnesses saw retreat to his room to shoot himself wasn't really Hitler at all.
The survival myth endured for decades in a multitude of forms, even as additional witnesses and information from the Soviet Union emerged to confirm Hitler's death. Pulp magazines ran lurid headlines proclaiming that his suicide had been faked or recounted stories about his absconding to distant shores. A Hungarian exile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, published a book entitled, "Je Sais Que Hitler Est Vivant" [I Know Hitler Is Alive]. In 1955, a magazine that was circulated to American high-school students demanded that the government "Clear Up Hitler's Death".
One set of stories argued, in all seriousness, that Hitler was hiding out at the South Pole. Real-life Hitler look-alikes continued to get stopped at customs, and as late as 1969, German authorities were still rounding up men who resembled Hitler—including one retired miner, Albert Pankla, whose refusal to change his hairstyle or shave his mustache led to his arrest, he claimed, on some 300 occasions. In more recent times, the trope has been fodder for an endless catalog of bad [and some good] art, from the delightfully trashy 1976 novel [and 1978 movie] "The Boys From Brazil," which had Josef Mengele surviving Berlin's fall to undertake Hitler's resurrection, to George Steiner's novel The "Portage to San Cristobal of A.H".
The persistence of the survival myth suggests several interpretations. It reveals a worry over the rebirth of Nazism, a fear that all the sacrifices of World War II still might not have permanently expunged this horrible evil. It is also a vehicle for admitting a perverse kind of awe for Hitler, a way to acknowledge his power without seeming to profess admiration. Or, as McKale suggests, it may betray an unwillingness "to allow Hitler to have the peace of death"."
But there is something more universal in the survival myth as well. The trope of the monstrous villain that won't die has a long lineage. In Spenser's "Faerie Queene", when St. George slays the dragon, the onlookers at first refuse to believe it is dead. In almost every Hollywood action or slasher movie of the last 20 years, the bad guy, when presumed dead, rises one last time to give the audience a final scare.
Thanks to Donald McKale's "Hitler:The Survival Myth" and to Ron Rosenbaum and his book "Explaining Hitler".
David Greenberg, a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, has written for "Slate" since 1996. He is the author of several books of political history.
|"Grey Wolf - The Escape of Adolf Hitler"
At Midnight on 27 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, and her brother in-law SS General Hermann Fegelein slipped away from the hell of the Führerbunker through a secret tunnel in Hitler’s personal quarters in the devastated Reich Chancellory to the Berlin Underground.
They were replaced by doubles chosen by Reichsfuhrer Martin Bormann and his close associate SS-General Heinrich “Gestapo” Müller.
Hitler and his party walked through the Underground tunnels to the exit at Fehrbelliner Strasse. Waiting for them on the cleared roadway of the Hohenzollerndamm was a Ju52 transport aircraft piloted by SS Captain Peter Baumgart of the secretive Luftwaffe Unit KG 200. The group flew to Tonder in Denmark, where the party took a second Ju52 to the Luftwaffe base at Travemünde.
Changing planes again the party boarded a long-range Ju 252 and flew to the Spanish Military base at Reus, 80 kms south of Barcelona, in Spain.
General Franco supplied a further aircraft, in Spanish markings, to fly the party to Fuerteventura on the Canary Islands, where 24 hours later they boarded U-518 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Hans Werner Offermann.
Oblt. Hans-Werner Offermann was one of the youngest U-Boat commanders during WWII when he left on patrol with U-518 from Lorient, France on 23 January 1944. He was only 22 years old at the time. He brought his boat to Lorient 106 days later.
He commanded the boat on another 102 day patrol before being lost with his entire crew 42 days into this third patrol on 22 April 1945 when U-518 was sunk by the US destroyer escorts 'USS Carter' and 'USS Neal A. Scott'.
A signal was sent to Berlin from the island’s base at Villa Winter, and on the instructions of Reichsleiter Bormann, Hitler’s double, Gustav Weber, and the unknown actress, who had played his wife for just two days, were executed by SS General Müller.
The bodies were carried out of the Bunker and under Russian shellfire were incinerated in the garden.
Fifty-three days later on the Argentine coast at Necochea south of Mar Del Plata, General Fegelein who had arrived three days earlier on U-880 - welcomed his Führer and sister-in law to the safety of fascist-dominated Argentina.
German submarine U-880 was a Type IXC/40 U-Boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.
U-880 was launched on 10 February 1944. She was commissioned into service under the command of Kapitänleutnant Gerhard Schötzau, with a crew 36, in 4th U-boat Flotilla.
After completing training, U-880 was transferred to the 33rd U-Boat Flotilla and left base for her first war patrol on 23 January 1945. Mechanical failures, however, forced her to return prematurely in two cases. She finally left Bergen for the West Atlantic on 14 March 1945.
She joined group 'Seewolf' in April, but was picked up by Task Force 22.5 before she could attack any ships. 'USS Frost' made radar-contact with the U-Boat just after midnight on 16 April 1945. 'Frost' and 'Stanton' chased the submerged U-Boat for several hours and finally attacked U-880 with hedgehogs, sinking her. There were no survivors.
Hitler would live there for the next 17 years, initially raising his two daughters and planning the re-birth of the worst regime in history. The couple separated in 1953, Eva sick of her lost life in the foothills of the Andes taking the girls to live in the small town of Neuquen. In the early 2000’s the women were still alive.
Adolf Hitler finally died on 13 February 1962 at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, demented, tormented and betrayed by Martin Bormann, attended only by his personal physician Dr. Otto Lehmann, and his faithful aide, former Graf Spee crewman, Heinrich Berthe.
Martin Bormann, with the help of Colonel Juan Peron and his wife Evita, in the pay of the Nazis since 1941, had carried out the biggest theft in world history, transferring Billions of dollars in gold, patents, bearer bonds, shares and art works to safe havens around the world, especially in Argentina, Switzerland and Turkey.
He was helped in his plan to save himself and the Führer by senior US Intelligence officers, they receiving in turn, plundered art and treasures, the Nazi’s huge technology advances in Rocketry, weaponry – including atomics – and technology.
It was a pact with the devil that would shape the world post-1945.
Did Adolf Hitler Die in His Bunker?
by Joseph Micallef
World War II ended 72 years ago. Historians have produced a voluminous history chronicling its course. Yet, almost three-quarters of a century later, there are still many unanswered questions about the war. Even now, there is considerable material about wartime military and intelligence operations that, unexplainably, remains classified.
Not surprisingly, those unanswered questions have given rise to a spate of conspiracy theories challenging the conventional narrative about the war. Among those theories is the claim that Adolf Hitler did not die in his Berlin bunker but escaped Berlin and found refuge in South America. The theme that Hitler lived has fueled countless movie scripts and thrillers, and has even led to a glut of recent documentaries examining that contention. It is not my intention here to argue either for or against the proposition that Hitler escaped from his Berlin Bunker — rather, it is to summarize the principal evidence that exists for and against that argument.
British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper documented the official account of the death of Hitler in his book "The Last Days of Hitler". Trevor-Roper was a British Intelligence officer during the war. In June 1945, he was assigned the task of documenting Hitler’s last days to prove that Hitler had in fact died in his bunker. Critics of his book have argued that Trevor-Roper was an odd choice for the task. Notwithstanding the fact that he would go on to become a distinguished military historian and the Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford from 1957 to 1980, in 1945 Trevor-Roper was known as a specialist in 16th and 17th century British history. Moreover, he neither spoke nor read German. Trevor-Roper completed his research over a period of 10 days. He appeared to have relied on summaries of interrogations of various people who were believed to have been in the bunker with Hitler in the last week of April that were provided to him by American intelligence officers. He did not have access to any Nazi prisoners being held by the Soviets, and it is unclear whether he actually spoke to any of the alleged witnesses.
The testimony obtained from eyewitnesses was contradictory, claiming that Hitler’s death had occurred on any one of five days between 27 April and 1 May. Accounts of the cause of death ranged from natural causes to poisoning to suicide. There was a consensus that the body of Hitler had been burnt, but the descriptions of the body and how it was dressed varied considerably. In itself, widely varying eyewitness descriptions is nothing new. Police investigators deal with this phenomenon all the time. It does appear, however, that Trevor-Roper constructed a narrative of Hitler’s death by combining the various eyewitness accounts, even though those accounts had widely varying timelines.
One would think that if there was any chance that Hitler had escaped from Berlin, it would have been in the interest of the Western Allies to publicize it and organize the world’s greatest manhunt. In fact, the Allies had a vested interest in advancing the narrative that Hitler had died in the bunker by his own hand. The Allies believed that the German population would be more accepting of the occupation if they believed Hitler dead and the prospect of a Hitler led Nazi resurgence impossible.
Moreover, they were determined to show that Hitler had died a coward’s death and wanted to nip in the bud any possibility that the Nazi’s could ever advance a repeat of the "stabbed in the back" explanation that followed Germany’s defeat in World War I. Trevor-Roper’s task was not to determine what happened in Hitler’s final days, it was to put together an argument that he had died in the bunker. This he did, in the process creating a bestseller.
There was another reason why the Allies wanted Hitler dead—Operation Sunrise. Hitler’s alpine retreat in Bavaria, Berchtesgaden, was more than just the Fuhrer’s vacation hideaway. It was designed to be an alternative command center in the event that Berlin fell. All of the major figures in the Nazi government had homes in Berchtesgaden, in some cases as annexes to Hitler’s own palatial estate. There were miles of tunnels built into the mountain below Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, including a 240,000 square foot command center.
The Nazi’s had intended, after the fall of Berlin, to continue the war from their mountain fortress in Bavaria. Significantly, Herman Goering was captured by the Allies in Bavaria, as were scores of other Nazi party bigwigs. After the war, the German government destroyed what was left of Berchtesgaden, bulldozing the debris and planting trees over the sight to ensure that it did not become a shrine to Adolf Hitler. The tunnels and the underground Bunker were sealed, but presumably still exist.
In March 1945, with the end of the war in sight, the OSS with the assistance of Swiss Intelligence operatives, began a series of negotiations, dubbed Operation Sunrise or Operation Sunrise-Crossroads, between Allen Dulles and Waffen-SS General Karl Wolff over the surrender of Army Group C in northern Italy and western Austria. Army Group C was tasked with the defense of northern Italy. It numbered some one million Wehrmacht soldiers, most of whom were being held in reserve. It had another purpose, however, Army Group C was tasked with manning the Alpine redoubt that the Nazi’s intended to use to continue the war in Europe after Berlin’s fall.
There are several extensive histories of Operation Sunrise. There are also a lot of unanswered questions. The OSS files regarding the negotiations ended up at the CIA, and it is not clear whether they have all been released. Wolff was not authorized to conduct negotiations with the Allies. The surrender of Army Group C on May 2, five days before Germany’s official surrender, sealed the fate of the Third Reich and eliminated any possibility of continuing the war in the Bavarian Alps.
This is where the conspiracy theories have taken root. One version of the story is that Wolff convinced Hitler that he was negotiating with the Western Allies an anti-Soviet alliance that would cease hostilities on the Western Front and allow Allied armies, along with the remaining German forces, to immediately advance East and stop any further Soviet advances. Such an explanation isn’t that farfetched, Hitler harbored fantasies until his death that he could create a split between the Soviets and the Western Allies.
A related version of the story is that as part of this new alliance, Hitler would be given safe passage out of Germany. That addendum might have come from Wolff or it might have been created by the Soviets. Allied records of the negotiations, at least those that have been released, make no reference to such a deal even being broached much less negotiated. Another version of this story is that Hitler proposed a potential alliance with both the Soviets and the Western Allies, offering the remaining German military forces to whichever side agreed first to the German alliance. The combined force would then push either the Western Allies or the Soviets out of the European territory they controlled.
This would have been a replay of the negotiations between the Nazis and the British and French on one side and the Soviets on the other side that ultimately led to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. That Hitler might have believed that such a scenario was plausible isn’t surprising, but there is no evidence that any such substantive discussions ever occurred with either the Soviets or the Western Allies.
The Soviets were eventually informed by the US Ambassador to Moscow Averill Harriman of the negotiations. Stalin insisted that a Soviet representative be included in the deliberations. Wolff, however, threatened to break off the negotiations if the Soviets were part of the discussions. By March of 1945, it was clear that Germany’s defeat was only a matter of time. It was also clear by then that Moscow intended to organize national governments in the territories it had liberated that would be to its liking.
Stalin’s armies were steadily expanding over Central Europe, he had no interest in bringing the war to a faster end. From the Kremlin’s perspective, the longer the war lasted the more territory would fall into Soviet hands. After the end of the war, Soviet media sources began citing the Sunrise negotiations as proof that the Allies had made a deal to grant Adolf Hitler safe passage. The Trevor-Roper investigation was designed to refute that rumor by demonstrating that Hitler had died in the bunker.
The physical evidence of Hitler’s death was collected by SMERSH. Most people know of SMERSH as the mythical organization of bad guys in the early James Bond films. There really was a SMERSH and it actually was the Russian acronym for "Death to Spies". It referred to three counterintelligence agencies in the Soviet Red Army that operated from 1942, or possibly late 1941, until 1946. Stalin was deeply suspicious of the loyalty of the Red Army and was concerned about Nazi attempts to suborn it. SMERSH played a variety of roles, including identifying potential traitors in the army, as well as verifying the loyalty of returning prisoners of war that had been captured by the Nazis.
The story of Hitler’s physical remains is an incredibly convoluted one, and has been documented extensively by Australian researcher Giordan Smith. Space doesn’t allow me to repeat it but his analysis can be found here. In a nutshell, over the years the Soviets and then the Russians, have trotted out various skulls that they claim were Hitler’s but these have all been rejected for various reasons. The most recent case, an analysis by a team from the University of Connecticut in 2009, found that the skull that Russian authorities claimed was Hitler’s had in fact been that of a woman.
The most definitive forensic evidence was a jaw whose dental analysis matched the dental records obtained from Hitler’s personal dentist. Normally dental records, especially when they show extensive dental work, is taken as proof of identity. Giordan Smith, however, points to circumstantial evidence that the records might have been deliberately faked. He notes that Hitler’s dentist was subsequently arrested by Soviet authorities and disappeared into the Soviet Gulag and was never heard of again. A rather stiff sentence for just being Hitler’s dentist, but not surprising if the Soviets had concluded the dentist had tried to deceive them.
According to the Soviets, all but two of the bones recovered from the chancellery grounds were eventually cremated and the ashes dispersed to ensure that Hitler’s remains would not become a shrine for Nazi diehards. What remains, if the Kremlin is to be believed, consist of a skull and the lower jaw used for the dental identification. The Soviets, and now the Russians, have seemed reluctant to settle the question of whether Hitler died in the Bunker. They control whatever forensic evidence, however questionable, exists concerning Hitler’s death. DNA analysis might be able to confirm that the bones are in fact Hitler’s. It’s not clear why Moscow would have any reason to not want to settle the issue other than for the possibility that it is in the Kremlin’s interest to preserve the narrative that the Western Allies somehow helped Hitler escape.
Several years ago the FBI released around 700 pages of documents relating to the question of Hitler’s death. Conspiracy theorists were quick to pounce on them as proof that Hitler escaped the Bunker. Those documents, however, offer no such proof. Generally, they cover three issues. First they describe the FBI’s doubts, for a variety of reasons, that the physical remains that had been shown to FBI investigators by Soviet intelligence officials were in fact the remains of Adolf Hitler. Secondly, they relate comments by various Soviet officials, including those from Josef Stalin and Field Marshall Zhukov that "Hitler got away". That belief was not just limited to the Soviets. US General George Patton also expressed the same view.
Finally, they describe various purported sightings of Adolf Hitler. Many of those were in fact in South America, but reports of Hitler sightings came in from all over the world. In fact, Hitler sightings may be exceeded only by those of Elvis. Some of those sightings had remarkably accurate descriptions, not surprising given that Adolf Hitler was by then the most notorious person in the world, complete with his trademark toothbrush mustache. Although one would think that the first thing that Hitler the fugitive would have done was shave his telltale mustache.
The final body of documentation cited by conspiracy theorists relates to the evidence that the Nazis established a bolt hole in Argentina and that following the end of the war scores of Nazis made their way there. Much of this information is credible and has been verified. The Nazis began paying Argentine President Juan Peron a subsidy beginning in 1932, to ensure that they would have a safe refuge waiting for them if they needed it. Nazi front organizations made large purchases of real estate in Argentina, including a giant ranch in Patagonia that had a dock capable of berthing ocean going ships or submarines.
In the days following the German surrender, 40 Nazi submarines left German ports, as well as scores of ships and planes. Thirty submarines subsequently surrendered, two including U-977, the submarine that allegedly carried Hitler to Argentina, surrendered after dropping off their cargo. Eight submarines were never accounted for. That large numbers of submarines and aircraft carrying prominent Nazis that left Germany after its surrender is a matter of historical fact. That one of them carried Adolf Hitler is conjecture.
There are any number of plausible theories of how Hitler could have escaped Berlin, assuming he was even there. The city had an extensive underground subway system that would have allowed an escape to the West. In addition, on 26 April, Luftwaffe pilot Hanna Reitsch, described as Hitler’s personal pilot or favorite pilot, landed a Fiesler Storch on an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate not far from the Chancellery grounds. The Storch only needs about 200 feet of runway. She left a few hours later. Conspiracy theorists are quick to point out that she might have carried Hitler safely out of Berlin. That’s entirely plausible, although there is no evidence she had a passenger, much less who that passenger was. She would fly in and out of Berlin several times between 26 April and 28 April.
There are other interesting tidbits that weave their way in and out of the Hitler lived narrative. Hitler supposedly had a thyroid condition that made him particularly sensitive to warm temperatures. His home in Berchtesgaden was built with north facing windows to permanently keep out the sun. There were frequent reports that visitors found the home always cold. Interestingly enough, a German businessman in Argentina that often fronted for the Nazis, built an exact replica of Hitler’s home in Berchtesgaden in San Carlos di Bariloche in the province of Rio Negro.
The area had a large German community and its terrain was very similar to the Bavarian Alps. The house built in Bariloche had south facing windows designed to keep out the sun. Perhaps the home was intended for Hitler’s use, then again maybe the view was better to the south. Either way, even if the home had been designed for Hitler’s use that doesn’t mean he actually made it there. The Nazi’s considered Argentina their bolt hole, so its not inconceivable that Hitler had plans to relocate there if he needed to.
There is also the unresolved mystery of the Hitler fortune. The Nazis were notorious kleptocrats. Hitler liked to project the image that he was above the ceaseless moneygrubbing of his associates. Nonetheless, Hitler is believed to have accumulated a substantial fortune. Tens of millions of copies of "Mein Kampf" were printed by the German government for which Hitler was paid a royalty. Hitler also received royalties for the use of his visage on German stamps. There were probably other sources of wealth accumulated by der Fuhrer. None of this wealth was ever found, however.
So, what exactly do we know and not know? There is no tangible evidence that Hitler died in the Bunker in the closing days of April 1945. It is entirely possible that he could have escaped but, equally, there is no tangible evidence that he actually did. The official accounts of the events leading up to Hitler’s death are suspect. That doesn’t mean he didn’t die, but it does mean that he could have died under significantly different circumstances.
There were certainly ways for Hitler to get to South America. Many Nazis did in fact do exactly that. Again, however, other than for some intriguing circumstantial evidence, there is no proof that Adolf Hitler was one of them. The many reported sightings of Hitler after the end of the war were by people who have long since died and the accounts are now hearsay evidence. They are as believable as the reports about Elvis.
Had there been even a shred of possibility that Hitler might have lived, one would think that Western Intelligence agencies would have mounted a worldwide campaign to find him. If there was such a campaign it has never been disclosed and it is hard to believe it could have stayed under wraps for this length of time. Likewise, one would think that Israel’s Mossad would have made finding Hitler its absolute priority, but again there is no evidence that any such mission was ever undertaken.
The most likely scenario is the simplest one. Hitler did die in the Bunker but probably under very different conditions than the official history. The Western Allies had a vested interest in perpetuating the narrative that Hitler died a coward’s death at his own hand. The Soviets, who could have disputed that narrative had their own interests for leaving the issue unresolved. Baring the release of some "smoking gun"document currently buried in Intelligence archives, the question will probably never be settled.
-- Joseph V. Micallef is a military historian, bestselling author, keynote speaker, syndicated columnist and commentator on international politics and the future.