The Death of Adolf Hitler: British Intelligence, Soviet Accusations and Rumours of Survival
University of Central Lancashire
16 April 2015
|Cabinet Office [British]|
Central Intelligence Bureau [Control Commission for Germany]
Counter Intelligence Corps [American]
Deputy Director of Military Intelligence
Director of Military Intelligence
Federal Bureau of Investigation [American]
Foreign Office [British]
Government Communications Headquarters [British]
Government Communications Headquarters [British]
Intelligence Bureau [Control Commission for Germany - British Element]
Intelligence Division of the British Control Commission Germany
Joint Consultative Committee on Captured Enemy Documents [British]
Joint Intelligence Subcommittee/Committee [British]
Security Service [British]
Secret Intelligence Service [British]
Military Intelligence Section 14 of the War Office [British]
Soviet Secret Service
Prisoner of War
Quadripartite Intelligence Committee [American, British, French and Soviet]
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Secret Intelligence Service [MI6] [British]
Soviet Counter-Intelligence agency; literally "Death to Spies"
Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadron [German]
The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.
United States Forces European Theatre [American]
War Office [British]
1. Finding The Gaps: The Story So Far
On 30 April 1945, as the Red Army battled the last remaining fanatical resistance of Nazi Germany in the streets of Berlin and the Second World War in Europe was drawing to a close, Adolf Hitler retired to his private quarters in the Führerbunker one last time. What happened in that room continues to be a source of mystery, controversy and debate seventy years later. A historical consensus is yet to be reached regarding how Hitler died. Many publications have sought to solve the mystery. Contradictory theories as to whether Hitler committed suicide by shooting and/or poisoning, was murdered or if he escaped have produced a somewhat confusing array of explanations. Historians such as Hugh Trevor-Roper have attributed the reason for such confusion to Soviet conduct. 1 Having captured Hitler’s Bunker in May 1945, the Soviets were in the best position to produce evidence of Hitler’s death. 2 Instead, Soviet officials embarked on a campaign of misinformation, claiming in May 1945 to have identified Hitler’s body with near certainty, then later asserting that he escaped to Argentina, or was hiding under British protection in Germany. 3 Theories of Hitler’s escape have gained increasing popularity since 2009 when DNA tests revealed that a piece of skull thought to be Hitler’s in a Moscow archive belonged to a woman. 4 In this climate of historical uncertainty, one must analyze the existing historiography in order to demonstrate how such theories have developed and outline the gaps in historical knowledge, some of which will be filled in this dissertation by a return to primary sources. As will be demonstrated, few historians have analyzed British documents relating to Hitler’s death, thereby overlooking evidence that could bring further clarity to this important historical issue.
In 1947, Trevor-Roper published "The Last Days of Hitler". Using evidence collected during his time leading the British investigations into Hitler’s death, Trevor-Roper concluded that Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide in the Führerbunker on 30 April 1945, Hitler by shooting and Eva by poisoning, their bodies were burned in the Reichschancellery garden, the final location of their corpses was unknown. 5 The evidence analysed by Trevor-Roper is mainly eyewitness testimony [the limitations of which he acknowledges] combined with documentary evidence such as Hitler’s last will and testament. 6 In later editions, Trevor-Roper describes his frustration with the Soviets for denying him access to prisoners of war and other evidence. 7 Following the release of important eyewitnesses from Soviet prisons in the 1950s, Trevor-Roper updated his book to include new testimonies, which, he argues, agreed with his initial conclusions. 8 Also in 1947, Lieutenant-Colonel Byford-Jones published his perspective on the Hitler investigations. 9 Byford-Jones had a limited involvement in the British investigations and withheld information due to contemporary Intelligence restrictions. 10 Nevertheless, the book is useful in demonstrating the differing opinions of some individuals regarding the evidence obtained by British Intelligence [Byford-Jones in contradiction to Trevor-Roper questions the authenticity of Hitler’s marriage certificate] and the early Cold War tensions in Berlin which coincided with the British investigations. 11
"It does not seem that the Russian Intelligence Service grasped the real importance of the Chancellery in the first days of victory. True, everyone knew that it had been Hitler's seat of government, and it was not long before large cases of files and other documents were removed, and put under guard. But there does not seem to have been any systematic effort to find out what had happened to the man who led a group of conspirators towards the goal of dominating the world, and who might have escaped to lie for years in hiding, then to emerge and call the German people to action.
"It is certain that if, within a few hours of the capture of the Chancellery a group of Scotland Yard detectives had been given the run of the place, assisted with one or two finger-print and forensic medicine experts, there would never have been any Hitler mystery at all.
"If Hitler and Eva Braun had died there some proof would certainly have been found. However, it was weeks before the work of investigation was seriously undertaken, and then it was too late to learn anything conclusive".
-- "Berlin Twilight"  by Lieutenant-Colonel W. Byford-Jones
Trevor-Roper’s book was immediately criticised by the former Chief American Intelligence officer in Berlin, W.F. Heimlich, who concluded using eyewitness testimony that Hitler was murdered by his doctors on the orders of Himmler. 12 He argues that Trevor-Roper ignored crucial evidence, rushed the investigation, led a one man show and conveyed preconceived conclusions. 13 Heimlich’s arguments have been dismissed by historians as a matter of wounded pride [as his references to Trevor-Roper’s lack of consultation with American colleagues suggest].14
The U.S. Chief of Intelligence in Berlin, Col. W.J. Heimlich reported: "There was no evidence beyond that of HEARSAY to support the THEORY of Hitler's suicide". He added that no insurance company in America would pay a claim on Hitler. Lt. Gen Bedell Smith, Gen. Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, said publicly: "No human being can say conclusively that Hitler is dead". CIA Director Walter B. Smith agreed that Hitler's death was unproven. Thomas J. Dodd, the lead U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials said, "No one can say he is dead".
Nevertheless, the impression of a one man show is somewhat valid as other aspects of the British investigations not involving Trevor-Roper have been overlooked by most historians. The theory that Trevor-Roper arrived at preconceived conclusions is furthered by authors such as Peter Levenda. Levenda claims that Trevor-Roper was appointed to lead the Hitler investigations by Dick White [future head of MI6] because as a historian he would be able to manipulate evidence to counteract Soviet claims of Hitler’s survival thereby overlooking evidence indicating Hitler’s escape. 15 However, historians have not yet analyzed recently declassified MI5 files containing correspondence between White and Trevor-Roper concerning the purpose of Trevor Roper’s book. This will shed more light on whether political considerations overshadowed the need to establish the truth about Hitler’s death.
Certain questions raised by early accounts of Hitler’s death could not be answered as Moscow maintained an official silence on the issue. 16 The Soviets released evidence only gradually. In 1965 a member of SMERSH cast doubt on Trevor-Roper’s conclusions by claiming that a Soviet autopsy on Hitler’s body showed Hitler died from cyanide poisoning. 17 In 1968, Lev Bezymenski published documents from the Soviet investigations including an official autopsy report on what was claimed to be the corpses of Hitler and Eva. 18 The autopsy concluded that Hitler died from cyanide poisoning. 19
Lev Bezymenski has been described variously as a journalist, an historian, and an Intelligence officer. He is probably best known in western Europe and the Americas as the author of "The Death of Adolf Hitler: Unknown Documents from Soviet Archives". First published in 1968, the book was the vehicle by which the Soviet government chose to inform the world of the findings of the Soviet medical team that performed the autopsy on Hitler's corpse in 1945. Notable among the findings is the claim that Hitler was missing a testicle, and his "death by cyanic compounds".
It seems strange that none of the very few doctors that ever had examined Adolf Hitler in the nude had ever reported on the rather striking condition of monorchism, but the Russians established this on a very badly burned corpse.
Because of the earlier disinformation attempts by the Soviets, western historians thought the book untrustworthy.
Anton Joachimsthaler in "The Last Days of Hitler" states that Bezymenski wrote an article in 1992 which contradicts an element reported in his book in 1968. Bezymenski reported in 1968 that Hitler's corpse was cremated and the ashes scattered in 1945. In 1992, Bezymenski reported that the corpse had been buried and reburied on several occasions before finally being burned in 1970. Joachimsthaler provides printed sources. Bezymenski's 1992 article appeared in "Sunday Express" on 5 July 1992 and a German translation was reprinted under the title 'Hitler's letzte Reise' in "Der Spiegel", No. 30, 1992. There was also another article on the matter in "Der Spiegel", No. 14, 1995
David Irving has written that Bezyminski told him that it was he who falsified certain aspects of the original autopsy reports that he published.
In the note regarding Bezyminski in "Göbbels: Mastermind of the Third Reich" Irving writes, "Bezyminski later admitted that he had faked part of the autopsies that he had published, eg. to conceal that Hitler had shot himself".
Contemporary historians have rejected Bezymenski's account of Hitler's death and autopsy, as Soviet propaganda. See Eberle and Uhl, ''The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides'' and Ian Kershaw ''Hitler, 1936–1945: Nemesis''. This outdated propaganda has been totally discredited.
This enabled Reidar Sognnaes to compare the autopsy with evidence from American archives, such as reports from Hitler’s doctors and dentists which, Sognnaes claims, prove that the body analysed in the autopsy was Hitler. 20
The book was subtitled “Unknown documentsfrom Soviet Archives". It allowed forensic scientists to evaluate the claim of the Soviet experts to have identiﬁed Hitler’s body with “a fair degree of certainty". In 1972, Reidar F.Sognnaes from the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Universityof California, Los Angeles, discovered ﬁve head X-ray plates originally taken of Hitler in 1944 following an assassination attempt.These X-rays revealed several characteristic dental conditions. Together with Ferdinand Strøm, Sognnaes compared this X-ray evidence with the dental features described in Bezymenski’s report and with other information obtained from the U.S. Archives recorded between 1945 and 1946. After careful study of various pieces of descriptive, diagrammatic, and photographic evidence, Sognnaes and Strøm provided deﬁnitive odontological proof that the body recovered by the Soviets as that of Hitler.
Some western authors such as James O’Donnell acknowledged the findings of the autopsy and combined eyewitness testimony to conclude that Hitler simultaneously took cyanide and shot himself. 21 This theory has been challenged by Anton Joachimsthaler who argues that this would be virtually impossible due to the instantaneous death administered by cyanide. 22 The autopsy has been criticised by scientists and historians for various scientific oddities and inconsistencies. 23 Consequently, historians such as Joachim Fest and Joachimsthaler argue that Hitler’s body was never found and the autopsy was fabricated Soviet propaganda. 24
Chester Wilmot in "The Struggle for Europe", the most highly regarded single-volume history of the Second World War in Europe, writes about Hitler and Eva Braun's final fate:
"In accordance with the instructions in Hitler's will, their bodies were burned in the garden of the Chancellery and no trace of them was ever found".
Alan Bullock in "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny" which was the first comprehensive biography of Adolf Hitler and influenced many other major biographies of Hitler, writes:
"Nobody can prove that it was Hitler's body which was carried up the stairs into the garden, for the head remained covered, nor have the ashes and fragments of bone, which even the fiercest fire could be expected to leave, ever been discovered".
According to Ian Kershaw the corpses of Braun and Hitler were already thoroughly burned when the Red Army found them, and only a lower jaw with dental work could be identified as Hitler's remains.
Donald McKale argues that the method of Hitler’s suicide became a political issue as Soviet officials were concerned that stating Hitler shot himself [a soldier’s death] would encourage Neo-Nazism and thus insisted that Hitler poisoned himself, ignoring evidence that indicated the possibility of shooting. 25 On the other hand, McKale accuses western historians of arrogantly dismissing the autopsy results and by insisting Hitler shot himself, defending him in death as an anti-Communist crusader.26 McKale concluded that such ideological squabbles would continue to cloud the issue. 27
However, as the Cold War ended, new forensic evidence came to light. In the 1990s, glasnost enabled Ada Petrova and Peter Watson to analyse Moscow’s files on Hitler’s death. 28 The files included what was claimed to be a piece of Hitler’s skull damaged by a bullet hole. 29 Many Soviet documents were published verbatim in "Hitler’s Death", which claimed, like Petrova and Watson, that the skull provided the definitive conclusion to the mystery. 30 The documents state that Hitler and Eva’s bodies were captured by the Soviets, two investigations into Hitler’s death were completed in which Hitler’s teeth were positively identified by his dentists, his cause of death determined by autopsy, the results given to Stalin, the bodies destroyed in 1970 and a piece of Hitler’s skull and his jaws archived in Moscow. 31 Authors such as Hugh Thomas remained sceptical. Thomas claimed through detailed forensic analysis of the Soviet evidence that forensic fraud was committed to disguise the fact that Hitler was murdered and Eva escaped. 32 Aside from extremely dubious conclusions which lack supporting evidence, Thomas’s book, like most since Soviet evidence became available, fails to refer to any British primary source documents. 33 Thomas himself admits "the part played by British Intelligence…has never properly been acknowledged".34
The new evidence from Russia provided the impetus for a large variety of publications concerning Hitler’s death. This included various memoirs of eyewitnesses from the Bunker, each providing different perspectives on Hitler’s last days.35 The numerous discrepancies amongst eyewitnesses have been analysed in detail by many historians. 36 For example, Trevor-Roper’s reliance on the testimony of Erich Kempka, who admitted to O’Donnell in 1974 that he told his interrogators whatever they wanted to hear in 1945 to save his own skin, has been heavily criticised. 37 Fest concluded that the method of Hitler’s suicide will never be discovered due to the many eyewitness discrepancies. 38 O’Donnell criticises Allied interrogators for lacking objectivity and asking the wrong questions. 39 However, little research has been conducted into how British Intelligence selected eyewitness testimonies and determined the reliable from the fictitious. Fest’s book inspired the 2005 film "Downfall" which has received widespread acclaim from historians for its attention to detail. 40 However, the film has been criticised for failing to show how Hitler committed suicide. 41 This omission perhaps reflects Fest’s argument that Hitler’s method of suicide remains unknown.
The revived interest in Hitler’s last days also saw the publication of more wide-ranging studies. Historians such as Luke Bennet noted how the narrative of Hitler’s death has become ingrained in popular culture symbolically and metaphorically with phrases such as "Bunker mentality" being frequently used in recent political discourse. 42 Other historians such as David Beisel focused on the mass German suicide of 1945 and demonstrated that Hitler’s suicide was neither unique nor inconsistent with his character as some authors and eyewitnesses claimed. 43 Such accounts supported Trevor Roper’s theories on the inherent nihilism in Nazi ideology which arguably stemmed directly from Hitler’s suicidal tendencies. 44 Combined with analysis of Hitler’s medical condition in April 1945, they undermined theories of Hitler’s escape by supporting Trevor-Roper’s argument that Hitler was physically and psychologically unable to escape from the Bunker. 45 However, as numerous scientists argued in 2005, only DNA analysis of the remains thought to be Hitler’s could completely solve the issue. 46
Due to the extensive literature about Hitler’s death, numerous historical inaccuracies have been perpetuated by historians reproducing the mistakes in other publications. 47 Joachimsthaler sought to rectify these historical untruths. Through analysis of international documents and eyewitness testimonies he concluded that Hitler shot himself in the right temple. 48 However, he analyses no British primary source documents. 49 Consequently, he presented an incomplete account with some possible untruths of its own. Joachimsthaler’s analysis of a British perspective extends only to Trevor Roper’s investigations. 50 Nevertheless, Joachimsthaler’s methodology demonstrated that when a historical issue is clouded by a mass of literature disseminating inaccuracies, it is essential to return to primary sources in order to regain perspective on official conclusions. This methodology is useful when new evidence emerges that confuses the issue further such as the 2009 DNA results which inspired a series of publications claiming that Hitler escaped the Bunker.
In "Hitler, The Survival Myth", McKale shows how many survival rumours which are popular today, such as Hitler escaping to Argentina leaving a double to be burnt in Berlin, have been repeatedly published in newspapers since 1945. 51 McKale does not blame such rumours solely on Soviet conduct but argues that Western journalists through widespread publication of survival rumours and statements by officials such as Eisenhower that Hitler could be alive, aided their dissemination. 52 However, through detailed analysis of Soviet Cold War foreign policy, McKale, like many historians, argues that Stalin’s political aims [discussed further in Chapter Two] provided the main impetus for such rumours. 53 Methodologically, McKale focuses primarily on newspaper analysis. Whilst this has advantages, such as the ability to demonstrate how various "Hitler Waves" consisting of widespread media coverage about Hitler occur when new evidence emerges, newspaper analysis can only provide a limited perspective.54 For example, although McKale refers to public opinion by assessing opinion polls, his analysis of the views of government officials is minimal and derives mainly from memoirs and other published works. 55 This represents a crucial gap in perspective as only by analyzing the opinions of officials in classified documents can the true effect and substance of survival rumours be assessed. Analysing such documents is arguably necessary to disprove the new "Hitler Wave" of conspiratorial publications produced by the 2009 DNA results
The historical debate regarding Hitler’s death since 2009 has been dominated by conspiracy theories. The most popular theory is provided in "Grey Wolf", which received considerable media coverage. 56 Like similar theories, the book emphasises the 2009 DNA results, statements made by Soviet and American officials that Hitler had escaped, and criticises historians for using unreliable eyewitness testimonies. 57 It argues that Hitler fled to Argentina in 1945. 58 Although the authors analyse many Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] documents concerning the possibility of Hitler’s escape, they fail to analyse any British War Office documents relating to Hitler’s death and consequently overlook documents that arguably disprove their theory. 59 Academic historians such as Richard J. Evans have dismissed such theories but have failed to acknowledge or reassess the evidence surrounding Hitler’s death in light of the recent DNA results. 60 The failure of academic historians to engage sufficiently in such debates has arguably fuelled the increase of conspiracy theories. Indeed, similar theories have recently been published such as "Hitler in Argentina", which claims to provide "solid proof" of Hitler’s escape. 61 Such publications raise questions regarding the role of public history and outline the issues that arise when academic historians fail to fully engage in public history debates.
Christopher Gilbert analysed public interpretations of Hitler’s death in the form of "Downfall" parodies and concluded that such interpretations are harmless when presented as fiction. 62 However, as McKale argues, when presented as historical fact, the idea that Hitler escaped, thereby fooling the Allies, is dangerous, as it romanticises Hitler, ignores the inherent nihilism in Nazi ideology that resulted in his demise and suggestions made by books such as "Grey Wolf" that the western democracies allowed him to escape may encourage neo-Nazism. 63 Such theories should therefore be challenged. Much of the literature about Hitler’s death is written by "amateur historians", authors who unlike academic historians are not trained to practice history but are often skilled in other areas such as journalism. 64 Professor William Rubinstein analysed a variety of similar historical subjects which have attracted a large amount of conspiratorial publications by amateur historians, but which academic historians generally ignore. 65 Rubinstein argues that this is because subjects such as "who was Jack the Ripper?" tend to lack the wider context which academic historians consider important to engage in a detailed study. 66 Some historians may therefore question why the seemingly narrow topic of Hitler’s death requires a detailed analysis. However, as Petrova and Watson point out, the search for Hitler’s method of death became a search for his character. 67
The way in which his regime ended was intended to be a Wagnerian "Twilight of the Gods", an example to posterity. Combined with the recent surge of survival rumours and media coverage, the question of Hitler’s death has acquired further cultural significance. By researching Hitler’s death, one is not merely researching the death of one man, but rather the death of the Nazi regime, a vision of Europe, the legacy and character of those ideas and the beginning of the Cold War.
II. Filling The Gaps: A New Approach
Although a vast amount of literature has been produced about Hitler’s death, insufficient attention has been given to the British investigations. Such investigations extended beyond Trevor-Roper’s account and consist of international and interdepartmental co-operation conducted before and after Trevor Roper’s investigations. Whilst a large amount of research has focused on Soviet documents, there has never been a full analysis of the British investigations into Hitler’s death. Consequently, this dissertation will implement Joachimsthaler’s methodology of returning to official records but in the more refined form of a case study, focusing solely on British documents, which Joachimsthaler overlooks. Qualitative analysis of a wide variety of documents from the National Archives will be implemented in order to provide as close to a full perspective on the British investigations into Hitler’s death that can be obtained with the documents currently available to historians. Analysis of Foreign Office documents will distance this dissertation from the narrative of Trevor-Roper’s "one man show" which is prevalent in the existing historiography.
Trevor-Roper’s investigations will be analysed, but from new thematic angles using new evidence from recently declassified MI5 and Cabinet documents, not present in the existing historiography. It is hoped that by returning to underused and overlooked documents, this dissertation can shed further light on the mystery surrounding Hitler’s death and provide a foundation for future case studies using archives throughout the world. There are some limitations to relying solely on official documents. It is particularly difficult for historians to research the workings of Intelligence agencies which are by their very nature intent on remaining as secretive as possible. 68 All records of MI6 are withheld from public use on these grounds. 69 However, recent legislation has enabled the release of various MI5 documents, which, as will be seen, sometimes contain MI6 documents that provide an insight into its activities. 70
However, even declassified documents provide challenges to historians. For example, important decisions made by officials are sometimes not documented and can even be made over the telephone. 71 Moreover, declassified Intelligence files go through a process of selection and only a minority of files enter the public domain; the majority are destroyed. 72 This limits the scope of perspective which historians can provide. Nevertheless, as Keith Jeffery argues, the assembly of fragments from a wide variety of documents can provide a larger picture. 73 Furthermore, the majority of Intelligence files available to the public concern Second World War topics which makes this dissertation able to provide more detail than studies about later periods of intelligence history. Indeed, the War Office files on Hitler’s death are extensive. Consequently, this dissertation is able to provide a detailed analysis of official conclusions, methodologies and acknowledge previously unpublished contributions of Intelligence officers.
This dissertation is divided into three chapters of mainly primary source analysis. Chapter One analyses the opinions of British Intelligence officials concerning rumours of Hitler’s survival to draw conclusions regarding the credibility of recent conspiracy theories. Chapter Two assesses whether Cold War political considerations affected the selection of evidence and conclusions provided by British Intelligence. Most use is made here of new evidence from recently declassified MI5 and Cabinet documents to provide a fresh insight into the internal and international co-operation of Anglo-American Intelligence agencies. Chapter Three provides an analysis of the evidence which convinced British Intelligence of Hitler’s suicide and assesses how this evidence and future historical conclusions may be affected by the 2009 DNA results. This dissertation will therefore be the first to combine all elements of the British investigations, including new evidence from recently declassified files, in a single study and thus fill the gap in the literature between case studies of Soviet documents and works that do not analyse British documents in enough detail, if at all. It will also be the first to challenge recent conspiracy theories using archival material and assess the significance of the 2009 DNA results, without resorting to conspiratorial conclusions of Hitler’s escape.
1 Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Last Days of Hitler [London: Macmillan, 2002], p. xx. See also Ada Petrova and Peter Watson, The Death of Hitler: The Final Words from Russia’s Secret Archives [London: Richard Cohen Books, 1995]), p. 161.
2 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. x,xx,xxxix.
3 Ibid, pp. xx,xlv,xlvi. See also Donald M. McKale, Hitler: The Survival Myth [New York: Stein and Day, 1983], pp. ix,4647,50-51,76; Anton Joachimsthaler, The Last Days of Hitler: Legend, Evidence and Truth [London: Cassell, 2000], pp. 2223,59,246-247; James P. O’Donnell, The Berlin Bunker [London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1979], pp. 301-302; Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 14,16,44.
4 David R. Senn and Richard A. Veems [eds], Manual of Forensic Odontology, Fifth Edition [Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2013], p. 19.
5 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. 178-183.
6 Ibid, p. xxi.
7 Ibid, pp. x,xxvii,xlvii.
8 Ibid, pp. x,xx,xxxvi.
9 W. Byford-Jones, Berlin Twilight [London: Hutchinson & CO, 1947].
10 Ibid, pp. 82-83.
11 Ibid, pp. 118-119.
12 Herbert Moore and James W. Barret [eds], Who Killed Hitler? [New York: The Booktab Press, 1947], pp. 121-123.
13 Ibid, pp. 114,117.
14 McKale, Survival, p. 132. See also Moore and Barret [eds], Killed, p. iii; Joachimsthaler, Hitler, p. 25.
15 Peter Levenda, Ratline: Soviet Spies, Nazi Priests, and the Disappearance of Adolf Hitler [Lake Worth, Florida: Ibis Press, 2012], pp. 22,25,31,34. See also Hugh Thomas, Doppelgängers: The Truth about the Bodies in the Berlin Bunker [London: Fourth Estate, 1995], pp. 94,96.
16 McKale, Survival, p. 111. See also Joachimsthaler, Hitler, p. 24.
17 Reuben Ainsztein, 'How Hitler Died: The Soviet Version', International Affairs, Vol. 43, No. 2 , pp. 307,314,318. See also Erich Kuby, The Russians and Berlin: 1945 [New York: Ballantine Books, 1969], pp. 174,177.
18 Lev Bezymenski, The Death of Adolf Hitler: Unknown Documents from Soviet Archives [London: Michael Joseph, 1968], pp. 44-51.
19 Ibid, p. 49.
20 Reidar Sognnaes, 'Hitler and Bormann identifications compared by postmortem craniofacial and dental characteristics', American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology, Vol. 1, No. 2 , pp. 109-111. See also Sognnaes, 'Dental evidence in the postmortem identification of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun and Martin Bormann', Legal Medicine Annual , pp. 197-200.
21 O’Donnell, Bunker, pp. 182-184,276,299-301
22 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 179-180.
23 Daniela Marchetti, Ilaria Boschi, Matteo Polacco and Julia Rainio, 'The Death of Adolf Hitler – Forensic Aspects, Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 50, No. 5 , pp. 1148-1149. See also McKale, Survival, p. 188; Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 227,252-253; Henrik Eberle and Matthias Uhl [eds], The Hitler Book: The Secret Report by His Two Closest Aides [London: John Murray, 2005], p. 283.
24 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 167,174-175,180-181,222,225,227,252-253. See also Joachim Fest, Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich [London: Macmillan, 2005], p. 163; McKale, Survival, p. 188.
25 McKale, Survival, p. 197. See also Trevor-Roper, Hitler, p. lvii; Ian Kershaw, Death in the Bunker [London: Penguin, 2005], p. 26; Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 75.
26 McKale, Survival, p. 197.
28 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 76.
29 Ibid, pp. 76,85,90.
30 V.K. Vinogradov, J.F. Pogonyi and N.V. Teptzov [eds], Hitler’s Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB [London: Chaucer Press, 2005], p. 26. See also Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 21,126-127.
31 Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov [eds], KGB, pp. 18-20,23-26.
32 Thomas, Doppelgängers, pp. 185-189.
33 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 100.
34 Thomas, Doppelgängers, p. 91.
35 Traudl Junge, Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary [London: Orion, 2004]. See also Heinz Linge, With Hitler to the End: The Memoir of Hitler's Valet [Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2009]; Erich Kempka, I Was Hitler’s Chauffeur [Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2012]; Christa Schröder, He Was My Chief [Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Frontline Books, 2012]; Bernd Freytag von Löringhoven, In the Bunker with Hitler [London: Orion, 2006].
36 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 148,150,158-161. See also Moore and Barret [eds], Killed, p. 154; Fest, Bunker, pp. 175-176; Levenda, Ratline, p. 38; Thomas, Doppelgängers, pp. 101-105; Bezymenski, Death, p. 71.
37 O’Donnell, Bunker, pp. 180-182. See also Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 148-149; Levenda, Ratline, p. 36; Thomas, Doppelgängers, p. 96.
38 Fest, Bunker, pp. 116,175. See also Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 110-115.
39 O’Donnell, Bunker, p. 14.
40 Tudor Georgescu, 'Hitler’s Downfall Revisited', Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Vol. 7, No. 3 , pp. 373,375.
41 Ibid, p. 376.
42 Luke Bennett, 'The Bunker: Metaphor, materiality and management', Culture and Organization, Vol. 17, No. 2 , pp. 155,160-162,167.
43 David R. Beisel, 'The German Suicide, 1945', The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 34, No. 4 , pp. 303-308. See also Christian Göschel, 'Suicide at the End of the Third Reich', Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 41, No. 1 , pp.153,155,157-158.
44 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. 4,43,64. See also Beisel, 'Suicide', p. 309; Göschel, 'Suicide', p. 155; Fest, Bunker, p. 171.
45 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, p. 63. See also D Doyle, 'Adolf Hitler’s medical care', Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh , pp. 75-80; McKale, Survival, p. 98.
46 Marchetti, Boschi, Polacco and Rainio, 'Death', pp. 1147,1151-1152.
47 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 8,40,179.
48 Ibid, pp. 8,177.
49 Ibid, p. 8. 50 Ibid.
51 McKale, Survival, pp. 6,62,131,140-141.
52 Ibid, pp. 59-61,65. See also Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 15.
53 McKale, Survival, pp. 40-41. See also Roberts in Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov [eds], KGB, pp. 10,12.
54 McKale, Survival, pp. 106,146.
55 Ibid, p. 32.
56 Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler [New York: Sterling, 2011]. See also Rick Dewsbury and Allan Hall, 'Did Hitler and Eva Braun flee Berlin and die [divorced] of old age in Argentina?’, Daily Mail [18/10/2011], http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2050137/Did-Hitler-Eva-Braun-flee-Berlin-die-old-ageArgentina.html and Adrian Lee, 'Did Adolf Hitler Escape?', Daily Express [17/10/2011], http://www.express.co.uk/expressyourself/277962/Did-Adolf-Hitler-escape and Sky News television interview with Gerrard Williams [16/10/2011], YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuLPMCxvBf8 and Sir David Frost interviews Gerrard Williams, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03aEr4SqVpM.
57 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, pp. xix,xxi,xxii. See also Harry Cooper, Hitler in Argentina [Hernando, Florida: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014], pp. 8,16,25-26,129; Ron T. Hansig, Hitler’s Escape [Twickenham: Athena Press, 2005], pp. viii,53-54; Levenda, Ratline, pp. 18,21-25,27-28,40,43,173,229.
58 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. xix.
59 Ibid, pp. 337-338.
60 Richard J. Evans, Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History [London: Little Brown, 2014], pp. 84-86.
61 Cooper, Argentina, p. 2.
62 Christopher J. Gilbert Playing with Hitler: Downfall and its Ludic Uptake', Critical Studies in Media Communication, Vol. 30, No. 5 , pp. 419-420.
63 McKale, Survival, pp. 199-205. See also Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. XXX.
64 William D. Rubinstein, Shadow Pasts: History’s Mysteries [Harlow: Pearson, Longman, 2008], p. 2
66 Ibid, p. 4.
67 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 75. 10
68 Jonathan Evans in Christopher Andrew, The Defence of The Realm, The Authorized History of MI5 [London: Penguin, 2009], p. xv.
69 Stephen Twigge, Edward Hampshire and Graham Macklin, British Intelligence: Secrets, Spies and Sources [Kew, Surrey: The National Archives, 2008], p. 8. See also Stephen Dorril, MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations [London: Fourth Estate Limited, 2000], p. xiii.
70 Dorril, MI6, p. xiii. See also Twigge, Hampshire and Macklin, Intelligence, pp. 7-8.
71 Richard J. Aldrich, The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence [London: John Murray, 2002], p. 638. See also Dorril, MI6, p. xiv. 7
2 Aldrich, Hidden, pp. 5-7. See also Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 [London: Bloomsbury, 2011], p. xi.
73 Jeffery, MI6, p. xiv.
Chapter One: Rumours of Survival
I. 'Sheer Poppycock": The Foreign Office Investigates
Most publications about Hitler’s death only discuss Trevor-Roper’s investigations.1 In doing so, they give the impression that Britain was inactive throughout the summer of 1945 and only began investigations when the Soviets claimed Hitler was hiding in the British Zone. However, the Foreign Office was investigating the "Facts about Hitler’s death" as early as 2 May 1945. 2 Indeed, British officials were receiving and commenting on information about Hitler’s last days from international sources and providing details to Winston Churchill to respond to parliamentary questions on the subject, prior to Trevor-Roper’s involvement. 3 Much of the information analysed by Foreign Office officials concerned survival rumours. Many rumours derive from newspaper articles, similar to those discussed in McKale’s book. One can provide a more detailed assessment of the basis and credibility of recent conspiracy theories by analysing the opinions of British officials, and enhance existing historical knowledge by providing an official perspective on the survival rumours analysed by McKale.
"Hitler Still Alive Says Moscow" is a headline typical of many British newspaper cuttings collected by the Foreign Office in July 1945. 4 British reporters had been told by a Russian officer who discovered a charred body believed to be Hitler’s that it was a "very poor double". From 11 September 1945, a plethora of survival rumours sent from the British Embassy in Moscow accumulated in the Foreign Office, beginning with the claim that Hitler was seen in Hamburg, living under an assumed name. 5 In a telegram of 12 September 1945, Frank Roberts informed the Foreign Office of an article in the Russian journal "Pravda" which claimed that the Deputy Bürgermeister of Berlin was "convinced Hitler was alive" 5 and that all Russian newspapers of the 11th stated that British Intelligence officers were searching for Hitler [who had recently changed his appearance by "plastic operation"] in Hamburg. 6
British security police have been investigating for the last six weeks strong rumours that Hitler and Martin Bormann have been seen in Hamburg. They picked up the trail of a mysterious mahogany luxury yacht and traced it to a small Elbe Estuary port at Glückstadt, thirty miles from the German port.
The yacht was reported to have left the port during the night early in May and Navy patrols combed dozens of small inlets and islands off the Schleswig-Holstein coast nearly as far as Denmark, but failed to find a trace of the Führer. Recently, however, the "yacht" story has taken on a new significance and the search has restarted.
A recent broadcast alleged to have been picked up in Sweden from Bormann declared that Hitler was alive and in good health in Germany.
Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler's Foreign Minister and former ambassador in London had been arrested in Hamburg by British field security police and had been flown to Supreme Allied Headquarters in Frankfurt for questioning, reported the "News Letter" on 16 June in 1945. Ribbentrop, noted the "News Letter", was the last top rank Nazi leader believed to be still alive after Germany's surrender the previous month. He had been captured after a six week search while he lay in bed in a boarding house and living under the name Reiser. It was reported that he had a tin of poison strapped to his body when he was arrested. Ltters addressed to Mr Churchill, Mr Eden and Field Marshall Montgomery were also found among his clothing. He is reported to have said to the Intelligence officers who seized him: "I wanted to stay in Hamburg until British opinion had quieted down. Then I intended to give myself up and get a fair trial".Lieutenant J B Adam from Paisley, who had been one of the officers who had seized the former German Foreign Minister, gave some further details of Ribbentrop's arrest. He said: "We searched five rooms. Ribbentrop was asleep in a single bed. I took a quick run over his body and looked into his mouth [in case he had taken poison]. I asked him how long he had been in Hamburg. He said a few weeks. I asked other questions but he gave vague answers. Then he said suddenly, in perfect English, 'The game is up. I congratulate you. If you had come two days later I would have already have given myself up voluntarily'.
One puzzled Foreign Office official wrote "This peculiarity that Hitler is still alive in the British zone or in the Argentine keeps cropping up" and requested clarification. 7 In a reply which arguably summarized the views of British Intelligence on all survival rumours, one official responded "I believe this to be sheer poppycock. The 'plastic operation which 'changed Hitler’s appearance' was probably carried out with a service revolver in the Führerbunker". 8 The Foreign Office was confident in its dismissal of survival rumours due to the evidence that had been accumulated suggesting Hitler was dead [discussed further in Chapter Three]. It is sufficient to comment here that the Foreign Office was impressed by an Intelligence report produced by SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force] on 30 July 1945 which concluded that "Despite Russian skepticism, it seems probable from all we know of Hitler’s last days, he chose to die in Berlin". 9
Not all of the survival rumours investigated by the Foreign Office came from Moscow, although it appears that most rumours were inspired by the Soviet accusations. In October 1945, Eisenhower was temporarily convinced by his "Russian Friends" that Hitler was alive, but later retracted his statement after a discussion with Trevor-Roper on the evidence available to the contrary. 10 Despite the initial confusion caused by Eisenhower’s remarks, the Foreign Office believed "‘there are no reasonable grounds for supporting that Hitler is anything but dead". 11 Having confidence in that conviction must have made it tedious for Foreign Office officials to receive reports from the Dominions Office stating that "in view of the suggestion that Hitler may be in Argentine" it may be useful to know that an "ardent Nazi" is living in Buenos Aires if there is any "substance" in the rumour. 12 One official replied "It is very doubtful that this will be of useful help to anyone". 13 "Very doubtful indeed", confirmed his colleague. At other times, the Foreign Office viewed such reports with a sense of humour. A report received in November 1945 from the British Legation in Copenhagen claimed that a Danish lady informed them that her friend who had previously predicted an RAF raid before it happened, had dreamt that Hitler was disguised as a monk, having shaved his moustache. 14 Commenting on this, one official stated "I hope the lady’s dream is true" as "we could then await with suspense" the amusing scenario of Hitler’s return as a monk. 15
In mid-year 1986 the U.S. government released documents of their counter-espionage agency, the OSS. These reveal that the Vatican had organized a safe-flight route from Europe to Argentina for fleeing Nazis. The fascists hid frequently during their flight in cloisters and in many instances disguised themselves as Franciscan monks.
The statement of one Foreign Office official that "there will be no end to stories of this kind" has proved to be prophetic.16 Indeed, the War Office continued investigating survival rumours until 1949 and some authors have attempted to publish such rumours as fact as recently as 2011. The reasons why such rumours were continually investigated, however, was not because of any doubt that Hitler was dead, as will be made clear in the following analysis of the War Office investigations into rumours of Hitler’s survival.
II. "Baumgart is telling lies": The War Office Investigates
It has become something of a tradition for historians in publications about Hitler’s death to describe the fantastic locations in which Hitler has been reported to have been seen alive after April 1945 all over the world. The survival rumours received by the War Office are no exception to this. In an MI14 [established in 1940 to provide Intelligence on Nazi Germany] "Dossier on Adolf Hitler", created prior to Trevor-Roper’s investigations, Hitler was reported to have been seen in Ireland disguised as a woman and in Egypt having converted to Islam. 17 Such rumours were described as "wild" and usually obtained little or no comment. However, other rumours were taken more seriously and investigated thoroughly during and after Trevor-Roper’s investigations. For instance, in September 1946 an investigation named "Operation Conan Doyle" was undertaken following "spiritualist revelations" that a woman named Eva Hücker was in fact Eva Braun. 18 A Mr. and Mrs. Hall had informed MI14 that they had received messages from Mr. Hall’s dead farther, who was a spiritualist, regarding a man named Stanley Knight who committed suicide after contracting venereal disease from Hücker. It was claimed that Hücker lived in Hanover with Hitler who had undergone a "facial operation" and was disguised under the name Heinrich, wearing a blonde wig.19 Although MI14 considered the story was unlikely to be true, they requested it to be investigated as many people still believed Hitler was alive and disproving such rumours would help prove his death. Accordingly, British Intelligence officers managed to trace Hücker and discovered that she was a prostitute who bore no resemblance to Braun. 20
One survival rumour was taken more seriously by British Intelligence and investigated for six months since September 1947. This was the report of Frau Anderson, given to a British Intelligence officer in Germany. She was concerned that not many people in Berlin believed Hitler was dead and reported that it was widely believed in Hohenlychen that "Hitler was definitely seen to take a lake-side walk on 24th April 1945". 21 She also claimed that it was believed that a Fieseler Storch [German light aircraft] carrying Hitler used to land frequently on a grass slope in the area so he could visit Dr. Karl Gebhardt in the SS sanatorium there.2 2 Although it appeared to be a "wild goose chase", the War Office initiated investigations. 23 The story was reported to USFET [United States Forces European Theatre] with a note stating that Anderson’s story coincidently coincided with a similar story reported by Carmen Mory in July 1945 that Skorzeny’s paratroops [famous for rescuing Mussolini] had rescued Hitler and other top Nazis from Berlin, taken them to a secret airfield in Hohenlychen and helped them escape. 24 It was stressed however that Mory was most unreliable as she had made a series of inaccurate statements before her suicide after being sentenced to death for war crimes at Nuremberg. 25 This particular survival rumour was disproved on 11 March 1948 when the War Office received interrogation results from both Gebhardt and Skorzeny. 26 Gebhardt was certain that Hitler did not visit him and that no plane landed near the sanatorium in the last days. 27 Skorzeny stated that no high Nazis were evacuated by his unit and if Hitler had been evacuated by his men, he would have known. 28 It was emphasized in correspondence to USFET that "no undue importance" was attached to the "implication of Hitler’s survival" and that the reason for investigating was in case "other leading Nazis had visited the Sanatorium". 29 Clearly, British intelligence did not doubt that Hitler was dead but felt it was important to "properly evaluate" such rumours in light of any information they may provide with regards to other top Nazis. As will be demonstrated, this was the policy in all future investigations of survival rumours.
The longest and arguably most important War Office investigation into any survival rumour began in December 1947 and was investigated until June 1948. This rumour originated with the testimony of Luftwaffe Captain Peter Baumgart at his trial in Poland in December 1947 for war crimes. In a statement reported in the Polish newspaper "Express Wieczorny", Baumgart claimed to have flown Hitler and Eva Braun to Denmark in April 1945. 30 Due to Allied bombing, he claimed to have landed and stayed overnight in Magdeburg on 28 April before continuing to Denmark the following day. Upon landing, Baumgart asserted, Hitler shook his hand and gave him a cheque for 20,000 RM. This statement was reported in newspapers throughout the world. Further weight was added to this story when the War Office received information from an ex-Nazi informant [Friederich von Angelotty-Mackensen] working for British Iitelligence, stating that a plane landed unexpectedly at Hadersleben airfield in Denmark between 26 and 28 April 1945. The informant stated that "Only the higher ranking officers were allowed to approach the plane and the purpose of the flight did not become generally known". 31 Rumours spread that the plane carried important personnel from Berlin. The War Office had also collected cuttings from a German newspaper suggesting that Hitler could have escaped to Argentina in a U-Boat, a rumour which was also stated in a German civilian communications intercept. 32 Accordingly the War Office began investigations, tracking down Luftwaffe pilots to verify Baumgart’s claims. However, Captain Hodges emphasized in several letters to Intelligence officers that "from the evidence available at this HQ" it is considered "practically certain" that Hitler and Braun committed suicide on 30 April 1945 but it is "still the policy to investigate leads which hold any promise of yielding useful historical information" and in instances where it is "thought possible that other high ranking personalities might have escaped from Germany by the method indicated". 33
Conspiracy theorists such as Cooper pose the question to the reader "If Adolf Hitler killed himself in Berlin…why were the world’s spy services still looking for him into the middle of the 1950s?’" 34 Far from doubting the evidence of Hitler’s death, British Intelligence officers investigated survival rumours to gain information on other Nazis who may have escaped and to provide evidence for future historians to disprove rumours of Hitler’s escape. After interviewing various Luftwaffe pilots who were stationed in Berlin and Magdeburg at the end of April who all refuted Baumgart’s story, and confirming that Magdeburg was overrun by US forces on 18 April 1945, the War Office concluded that "Baumgart is telling lies". 35 These conclusions undermine the argument in the most popular conspiracy theory book to date, "Grey Wolf".
III. Debunking the Conspiracy Theories
In Grey Wolf, pages of documents concerning "Hitler’s Escape" are published verbatim. 36 Such documents bear the official stamps of American Intelligence agencies and are often reproduced with statements of prominent officials such as Eisenhower and Stalin that Hitler had escaped. Such documents and statements, when selectively removed and analyzed isolated from their context may give the impression that Hitler escaped. Indeed, if one published numerous British documents analyzed in this chapter concerning "Hitler Survival Rumours", without including the opinions and conclusions of officials, the same impression could be created. However, the opinions of British Intelligence officers make it clear that all such stories amounted to nothing.
This selective methodology is employed by various publications, including "Hitler in Argentina" which claims that similar documents published verbatim constitute "documented proof of Hitler’s escape". 37 Such an approach is dishonest and an affront to the very purpose of the historian, to discover the truth about the past. Therefore, such theories should be challenged in order to promote the interests of truth, 18 increase public knowledge of genuine historical facts and prevent any further conspiracies bringing disrepute to serious historical enquiry. It is clear that when the documents employed by conspiracy theorists are analyzed to include the entire context, no conspiracy theory stands up to close scrutiny. Williams claimed in a television interview that "we have the testimony from a Warsaw court of the pilot who flew them out". 38 That pilot is Baumgart, the same Baumgart whom British Intelligence established in 1948 was telling lies. "Grey Wolf" repeats his disproved story about landing at Magdeburg. 39 Williams concludes that Hitler escaped to Argentina, a rumour which was dismissed by the Foreign Office as early as 1945 as "sheer poppycock". Williams even claimed that Trevor-Roper was unsuitable to lead the Hitler investigations. 40 However, Trevor-Roper had much experience during the Second World War deciphering German signals and interrogating Nazis as a member of MI6. 41 Yet, Grey Wolf still received considerable media coverage and similar rumours of Hitler’s survival are still published in newspapers today. 42 McKale’s argument that the press take advantage of the general reader who would not have read the factual evidence concerning Hitler’s death to make money selling survival rumours is arguably confirmed by the extensive coverage received by conspiracy theories as recently as 2011. 43 This makes studies such as this even more necessary, in the interests of genuine historical enquiry and the enhancement of knowledge.
Another crucial argument for Williams and similar conspiracy theorists is that a double was killed and burnt in Hitler’s place, allowing Hitler to escape. 44 The 2009 DNA results seemingly added further weight to this argument and have been exploited in "Grey Wolf" to this end. However, as will be demonstrated in Chapter Three, the DNA results are in no way suitable evidence to support such conclusions. McKale’s argument that the western press are partly to blame for the widespread perpetuation of survival rumours is further confirmed by Trevor-Roper’s interrogation of Baroness von Varo, filed in the recently declassified MI5 documents. She was among the women summoned by Hitler to say his final goodbyes and claims that a newspaper reporter tried to force the opinion on her that Hitler was a drugged double, an idea she described as "absurd; it was Hitler". 45 The same reporter, Leslie Randall, was later denied access to the British files on Hitler’s death in 1948 as Intelligence officers were suspicious about him trying to "ehash this very old history".46 The idea of Hitler being replaced by a drugged double who said the final goodbye to his staff with dreary eyes while the real Hitler escaped is repeated in various conspiracy theories. Hitler’s dreary eyes are in no way an indication of a drugged double. An analysis of Hitler’s medical records reveals that "the Führer complained" of seeing everything as through a "thin veil over his right eye" in March 1944, a problem which could have returned under the stressful circumstances of the Bunker in 1945. 47 British Intelligence gave a powerful argument against a similar rumour reported by Randall in 1945. Indeed, the rumour was described as "ludicrously garbled", "pure speculation" based on "theory" not fact. Further: "‘Hitler was not in a state of Coma when he said goodbye to the women; he was not supported by anyone" and "it is important that such uncritical versions of the Hitler Story should not receive circulation as fact. We are satisfied that the first hand evidence at our disposal is now so full and consistent that, apart from direct eye-witness accounts of events in the Bunker after midday on April 30th, no further material is likely to add anything significant to the story; and mere theories, unsupported by any eye-witness testimony, are worthless". 48
Indeed, the War Office remained confident that the evidence it collected "does more than offset the numerous and vague reports of Hitler’s survival which have been circulated". 49 The evidence analyzed in this chapter demonstrates that all British intelligence branches involved in investigating Hitler’s death considered rumours of Hitler’s survival to be "sheer poppycock". This does not mean that all survival rumours were dismissed off hand; to the contrary, those rumours which appeared to be more plausible were given quite detailed investigation. Since many of the survival rumours investigated have been recycled and used in recent conspiracy theories, the British investigations provide a powerful argument against them. They also provide some credence to McKale’s argument that the western press bears some responsibility for the seemingly never ending perpetuation of survival rumours, although as will be seen in the following chapters, the brunt of this responsibility lies with the Soviets.
Some conspiracy theorists claim that political motivations overshadowed the need to establish the truth about Hitler’s death. 50 This is a more serious argument which requires further analysis. It is indeed legitimate to question the role of MI6 and individuals such as Dick White, the quality and seemingly late timing of the British investigations, why Trevor-Roper was chosen to lead them, and the basis of Soviet accusations of Hitler’s escape, without resorting to unfounded assertions. Such questions will be addressed in the following chapter.
1 Some of the documents analysed in this chapter are also analysed in Richard Overy, Interrogations, Inside the minds of the Nazi elite [London: Penguin, 2001], p. 101. However, this is in the context of the Nuremberg trials and lacks detail. There is no publication specifically about Hitler’s death in which the documents are referenced.
2 The National Archives [TNA], FO 371/46748, Roberts [Moscow] to FO [02/05/1945] and WO communication concerning 'Fact’s about Hitler’s Death', [04/05/1945].
3 TNA, FO 371/46748, 'Draft Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 19', [15/05/1945].
4 TNA, FO 371/46749, News Chronicle, Daily Telegraph and Daily Herald [05/07/1945].
5 TNA, FO 371/46749, Roberts [Moscow] to FO [11/09/1945].
6 TNA, FO 371/46749, Roberts [Moscow] to FO [12/09/1945]. See also Frank Roberts, Dealing With Dictators [London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991], p. 93.
7 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [12/09/1945].
9 TNA, FO 371/46749, 'Hitler’s Last Days', SHAEF Memorandum [30/07/1945].
10 TNA, FO 371/46749, The Times [13/10/1945] and Roberts [Moscow] to FO [09/10/1945]. See also Trevor-Roper, Hitler, p. xlvii.
11 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [09/10/1945].
12 TNA, FO 371/46749, Letter from the Dominions Office [29/09/1945].
13 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [29/09/1945].
14 TNA, FO 371/46749, Letter from British Legation Copenhagen [29/10/1945].
15 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [29/10/1945].
16 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [26/09/1945].
17 TNA, WO 208/4475, BBC monitoring service, 'Hadji Hitler' [25/10/1945] and 'Hitler in Ireland' [16/06/1945]. See also Twigge, Hampshire and Macklin, Intelligence, p. 97.
18 TNA, WO 208/3791, 'Operation Conan Doyle' [04/10/1946] and MI14 signal report, p. 182 and Hirsch to Lethbridge [28/09/1946].
19 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hirsch to Lethbridge [28/09/1946].
20 TNA, WO 208/3791, Lethbridge to Hirsch [09/10/1946].
21 TNA, WO 208/3791, Air Intelligence HQ [12/09/1947].
23 TNA, WO 208/3791, Memorandum [09/10/1947].
24 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hodges to Potter [10/12/1947] and TNA, WO 208/3787, 'Report on possible fate and location of Hitler, Bormann and Fegelein' [27/10/1945].
25 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hodges to Potter [10/12/1947].
26 TNA, WO 208/3791, Moe to Deputy Director of Military Intelligence [DDMI] [11/03/1948].
27 TNA, WO 208/3791, Interrogation of Karl Gebhardt [24/02/1948].
28 TNA, WO 208/3791, Moe to DDMI [11/03/1948].
29 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hodges to Potter [10/12/1947].
30 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hamburger Allgemeine [07/10/1947], Westdeutsche Rundschau [04/12/1947], The Times [13/12/1947], Lüneburger Landezeitung [16/01/1948], Express Wieczorny [18/12/1947].
31 TNA, WO 208/3791, 'Rumours concerning whereabouts of Adolf Hitler' [02/03/1948].
32 TNA, WO 208/3791, Lübecker Freie Presse [31/12/1947] and Censorship Civil Communications [22/10/1947].
33 TNA, WO 208/3791, Hodges, 'Rumours concerning whereabouts of Adolf Hitler' [02/03/1948] and Hodges, 'Hitler Survival Rumours' [03/12/1947].
34 Cooper, Argentina, p. 26.
35 TNA, WO 208/3791, 'Rumours concerning the whereabouts of Adolf Hitler' [16/04/1948] and 'Hitler Survival Rumour' [16/01/1948] and 'Hitler Survival Rumour' [16/06/1948] and 'Baumgart is telling Lies', p. 25 and 'Hitler Survival Rumour' [17/06/1948].
36 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, pp. 163,222,225,266-267,282.
37 Cooper, Argentina, pp. 117-229.
38 Sky News interview with Gerrard Williams [16/10/2011].
39 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, pp. 160-161.
40 Sky News interview with Gerrard Williams [16/10/2011].
41 Adam Sisman, Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Biography [London: Phoenix, 2011], pp. 81,88,94,117-118,125.
42 Owen Bennet, 'Are these classified FBI files proof Adolf Hitler escaped by SUBMARINE to Argentina?', Daily Express [15/04/2014], http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/470586/Are-these-classified-FBI-files-proof-ADOLF-HITLERescaped-by-SUBMARINE-to-Argentina [accessed: 24/01/2015].
43 McKale, Survival, pp. 198-199.
44 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, pp. xx,156-157. See also Cooper, Argentina, p. 62; Hansig, Escape, pp. 25,32,38-39.
45 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Baroness von Varo [01/10/1945].
46 TNA, WO 208/3791, Memorandum, 'Release of information re Hitler to the press' [19/03/1948].
47 TNA, WO 208/3789, 'Record of Eye Examination made 2 Mar 44', p. 163.
48 TNA, WO 208/3787, 'Hitler’s Death' [07/11/1945] and Trevor-Roper to Ramsbotham, Memorandum, p. 55. 49 TNA, WO 208/3791, 'Adolf Hitler' [19/11/1947].
50 Levenda, Ratline, pp. 22,25,31,34. See also Thomas, Doppelgängers, pp. 94-95.
Chapter Two: Political Motivations? British, American and Soviet Conduct
I. Investigating the Investigations
The way in which the British investigations into Hitler's death were conducted has been criticised by various authors. Conspiracy theorists such as Levenda have argued that political motivations overshadowed the need to discover the truth about Hitler's death and that the investigations were rushed to counter Soviet claims of Hitler’s survival in the British Zone of Germany.1 Williams argues that the Allies allowed Hitler to escape in return for Nazi Intelligence to use against the Soviets in the coming Cold War. 2 O'Donnell criticised Allied interrogators for lacking objectivity and asking the wrong questions.3 In this chapter, the aims and conduct of British Intelligence and their co-operation with the Americans and the Soviets during the Hitler investigations will be analysed in order to determine whether there is any truth to such accusations of poor British conduct and political motivations.
Although large scale British investigations into Hitler’s death did not begin until Trevor Roper was appointed by Dick White to undertake them in September 1945, British Intelligence was gathering evidence concerning Hitler’s death prior to Trevor-Roper’s involvement. Nevertheless, it was the Soviet accusation that Hitler was hiding in the British Zone that inspired White, then head of Counter-Intelligence in the British Zone of Germany, to ask Trevor-Roper to initiate his thorough investigation into Hitler’s death. 4 In a letter to Thomas "Tar" Robertson, asking whether Trevor-Roper could be made available to lead the Hitler investigations, White refers to a "considerable amount of comment in the press" speculating "whether or not Hitler is still living". 5 He describes Trevor-Roper as a "first-rate chap" who has "kept the closest tabs on the matter" and is already familiar with reports on various Nazis relevant to the Hitler case. This demonstrates that the claims of conspiracy theorists that Trevor-Roper was unsuitable to lead the investigations are incorrect. Indeed, White was impressed by an Intelligence report written by Trevor-Roper concerning Nazi secret Intelligence during the war. 6 White further stated that it would be useful for "quadripartite" discussion with the Soviets who had expressed the desire to "review the evidence on the subject with the other occupational powers" to undertake a detailed investigation. White’s desire to review evidence with the Soviets is instructive for section III of this chapter, as will be demonstrated, the desire to maintain co operation with the Soviets on wider political issues was hindered by Soviet accusations of Hitler’s survival in the British Zone. Indeed, as Sean Greenwood points out, at this time, many British officials sought to maintain co-operation with the Soviets. 7 Secondly, the desire to prevent a "Hitler Myth" is mentioned in Trevor-Roper’s book and throughout his investigations. 8 Indeed, the idea of Hitler still living, or dying a "heroic" death, was a hindrance to the Anglo-American denazification programme in occupied Germany that was underway at the time. Thirdly, White claims that the investigations would be of "historical interest", a motive which is referred to throughout the investigations.
Although political considerations did provide the impetus for the initiation of Trevor Roper’s investigations, this does not mean that political motivations affected the objectivity of the evidence or the conclusions he produced. In order to determine this, detailed analysis of the investigations must be conducted. In 1946, Trevor-Roper’s book was referred to the Joint Intelligence Committee [JIC], a powerful Intelligence co-ordinating body attended by the heads of all British Intelligence sections and the Foreign Office, in order to determine the desirability of its publication and ensure that any material contained within would not jeopardize the secrecy of the Intelligence services. 9 White suggested to the JIC that its publication was desirable as it may prevent the creation of a "Hitler Myth" which was "the object" of "the original Press release" [this refers to Trevor-Roper’s initial Intelligence report on the Führer’s death given to the Quadripartite Intelligence Committee [QIC] and the press in modified form on 1 November 1945]. 10 The desire to prevent a "Hitler Myth" was re-iterated at the JIC meeting on 14 June 1946. 11 It was also suggested that the book had "propaganda value" and may be translated into German "for dissemination as propaganda". This view was strongly supported by the Foreign Office. At face value, this would appear to confirm Levenda’s argument that the British investigations were obstructed by political motivations. However, Trevor-Roper told the JIC that "the book is intended as history rather than propaganda; I think the facts are true as given; and I have been more concerned to understand the events and their causes and relations, than to push a point of view".12 This shows that Trevor-Roper was not influenced by political considerations but intended to establish historical truth, which he believed he achieved through his conclusions about Hitler’s death. Trevor-Roper further stated that "the truth is the best…form of propaganda".13 By this, he was implying that the truth of how Hitler died, by committing suicide whilst old men and young boys continued to fight for him, would be enough to dissuade the German people from reviving Nazism or revering Hitler, without embellishing the story. Therefore, Levenda's claim that British Intelligence invented the story of Hitler’s death for political purposes is incorrect. This view is supported by further analysis of Trevor-Roper’s investigations.
Although Trevor-Roper clearly did not consider his investigations or conclusions to be influenced by political considerations, the Foreign Office did not share this view. As Greenwood points out, in 1945 most Foreign Office officials believed the main threat to Britain’s security was the revival of an aggressive Germany and therefore desired good relations with the Soviets.14 On the other hand, Greenwood argues that British military Intelligence perceived the Soviets to be the main threat to Britain’s future security.15 Such disagreements were evident in some aspects of the Hitler investigations, particularly regarding the publication of Hitler’s wills. Indeed, when three copies of Hitler’s wills were discovered following a well-documented Anglo-American joint Intelligence operation conducted by Trevor-Roper, a lengthy dispute ensued between the Foreign Office and British military Intelligence regarding whether they should be published. In a brief submitted to the JIC, the Foreign Office argued for "complete suppression [of the wills] if feasible, in order to deny Hitler this posthumous weapon which might assist the renaissance of a nationalist Germany in twenty years time".16 Major-General "Tubby" Lethbridge, head of Intelligence Division [ID] in Germany, on the other hand, argued for "publication now" as the story could be leaked at a future date when"‘the German people might be more receptive to a Hitler mystique than they are today".17 However, whilst the Foreign Office was arguing for suppression, the wills were released to the press by General Truscott [Commanding General of American 3rd Army, Munich]. Adam Sisman argues that this was part of a deliberate tactic by Trevor-Roper who wanted the documents to be published and knowing that the Foreign Office favoured suppression, captured the wills in the American Zone, knowing that they would be published as an American scoop.18 However, this interpretation, as will be shown, is incorrect.
Despite the publication of the wills, the Foreign Office continued to argue that "the less public notice the documents receive in Germany, inside or outside, so much the better".19 Indeed, the Foreign Office attempted to co-ordinate policy with Washington, who agreed that although the wills had already been published, tight restriction of facsimiles and suppression of the original copies should now be implemented. 20 The Foreign Office was concerned that the wills could become "objects of great sentimental and political value" to many Germans and even contemplated destroying the originals. 21 The War Office on the other hand, took the complete opposite approach. Major-General Templer believed the wills were "not such bad documents" and "apart from the ravings against international Jewry, fairly dignified". 22 Templer believed they should be published. Lethbridge agreed, adding "I feel no real harm will come of it" as two other copies were yet to be found and could be published at a less advantageous moment when the Germans were not "down and out". 23 The danger of this occurring was highlighted by a threatening anonymous letter received by Heinrich Kopf [Oberpräsident of Hanover]in December 1945. The letter stated that "Bormann brought us the testament of our beloved Führer" and argued that "the Anglo-American thieves stole from us the Atom-Bomb", threatened to hang Kopf and other "traitors" from lampposts and claimed that Hitler’s will dictates the future action to establish "the National Socialist Great German Reich". 24 Trevor-Roper concluded that the author had not read the will and "invented its contents" and the story of its delivery "in order to give apparent authority to a threatening letter". 25 This, Trevor-Roper argued, showed "the advantage of publishing the real document!". Major Ramsbotham confirmed that British Intelligence was indeed hoping to publish the wills. 26 Consequently, a draft press hand out was prepared, giving a detailed analysis of their contents. 27 When the wills were leaked by Truscott, the War Office atmosphere appeared to be one of confusion. Indeed, British Intelligence had agreed with USFET that the wills would be kept Top Secret pending further instructions. However, the "story broke when [the] British Rep" [presumably Trevor-Roper] "had returned to USFET who were unable to explain why their instructions to Third U.S. Army had been disregarded". 28 Nevertheless, British Intelligence in Germany also gave a hand out along with copies of the wills to the press when the American story broke. 29 This was perhaps due to the intense rivalry between Anglo-American Intelligence services, with British Intelligence not wanting America to take all the credit.
One "Daily Telegraph" article somewhat confirms this interpretation in stating that "following the announcement" that "Hitler’s wills" had been "seized by United States Intelligence Officers, it was revealed tonight that British Intelligence were already in possession of a copy of the two testaments". 30 Clearly, British Intelligence wanted it to be known that they had discovered the wills before the Americans. The Foreign Office was evidentially not consulted to ask if British information on the wills could be published and contacted the War Office in an attempt to suppress the documents. 31 British Intelligence however, was irritated by the Foreign Office being so "touchy" and reluctantly ordered that all outstanding copies due to be distributed should be frozen. 32 This, fortunately for some Intelligence officers, did not prevent many copies being distributed as souvenirs. 33 One Intelligence officer asked the Foreign Office if an original copy of the will could be exhibited at the Carlton Hotel.3 4 The Foreign Office, probably incensed by this late consultation, rejected the proposal in line with its policy of suppression. 35 Despite initial opposition from the Foreign Office at meetings of the JIC, the position of the War Office eventually triumphed as the wills were published in Trevor-Roper’s book.36
Major internal disagreements between British Intelligence regarding Hitler’s death however were rare. Throughout the investigations, evidence [discussed further in Chapter Three] was shared between MI5, MI6, Government Communications Headquarters [GCHQ], the War Office and the Foreign Office. Disputes between the Foreign Office regarding the use of propaganda and the political suppression of evidence, as made clear by Trevor-Roper’s statements to the JIC, did not affect the overall objectivity and conclusions of the investigations. Trevor-Roper’s objectivity even triumphed over the staunch Foreign Office position regarding Hitler’s wills. However, it is now essential to analyse the nature of Anglo-American co-operation which may shed further light on why historians such as O’Donnell believe that Allied interrogators asked the wrong questions and the extent to which Anglo-American Intelligence rivalry may have hindered the investigations.
II. Anglo-American Solidarity
America shared the same motives as Britain in aiding Trevor-Roper’s investigations into Hitler’s death. Indeed, American motivations are clearly stated on numerous detailed reports obtained from American interrogations of Hitler’s doctors and dentists sent to the War Office as follows: a) Data useful for the identification of Hitler or his remains; b) Further material for the debunking of numerous Hitler Myths; c) The knowledge needed to expose those frauds who in later years may claim to be Hitler, or who may claim to have seen him or talked to him; d) Research material for the historian, the doctor and the scientist interested in Hitler. 37 Clearly, American and British Intelligence, as stated in Chapter One, intended historians to use the evidence they collected in their investigations to debunk future rumours of Hitler’s survival. The use of the word "frauds" demonstrates that American Intelligence genuinely believed that rumours of Hitler’s survival were false and no conspiratorial motives encompassed their investigations, as some authors have argued. Such reports and American assistance were considered to be of great importance to Trevor-Roper’s investigations as congratulatory letters following the successful locating of Hitler’s wills demonstrate. For example, Brigadier Haylor thanked Colonel Sands of USFET for "the splendid co-operation and assistance" he gave to British Intelligence officers during the Hitler investigations. 38 Haylor claimed that Trevor-Roper "never failed to receive the fullest degree of co-operation and assistance" from the Counter Intelligence Corps [CIC] and that thanks to American assistance the investigations were "concluded within a surprisingly short space of time".
American assistance was indeed valuable as it enabled British intelligence to operate over a much larger area, maintain surveillance on individuals for longer periods of time and increased the chances of capturing key eyewitnesses by the extension of manpower into the American Zone of Germany.39 Trevor-Roper repeats this positive interpretation of Anglo-American co-operation in "The Last Days of Hitler". 40 However, evidence in recently declassified documents suggests that Anglo-American co-operation was not without some major difficulties. In a letter to Brian Melland, head of the Historical Section of the Cabinet Office, Trevor Roper expressed views which contradict the dominant narrative in the historiography regarding Anglo-American co-operation during the investigations into Hitler’s death. The views he expressed may shed further light as to why O’Donnell believes the Allies asked the wrong questions. After commenting on textual discrepancies between the American and British held copies of Hitler’s will [discussed further in Chapter Three], Trevor-Roper explained "…I never saw the original which is now in American hands. There is a long history behind this, which, for reasons of Anglo-American solidarity, I have never published". 41 Trevor-Roper claimed that: " General Truscott…was clearly displeased by the fact that a British officer had discovered these documents in his area and determined to claim the entire credit for his own forces. He therefore behaved in a very curious way. First, he had the documents…shut away in a safe and I was not allowed to see them. Then, in direct contradiction to the assurances given to me that nothing would be published till the British and American texts had been compared, immediately after I had left, sent for the American press and published the whole discovery as a brilliant coup by the U.S. 6th Army. This naturally led to some indignation in the British zone, and somebody in a high place [presumably Truscott], in order to defend his action, evidentially made unspecific charges against me which resulted in my never visiting the American zone again". 42 This challenges the dominant narrative of the Anglo-American Intelligence operation to locate Hitler’s wills which is frequently presented as a triumph of Intelligence co-operation, and also the narrative given in Trevor-Roper’s biography, which implies Trevor-Roper intended to have the wills published by capturing them in the American Zone. 43 It also demonstrates the rivalry between Anglo American Intelligence services, outlined by historians such as Stephen Dorril who argues that both were in competition to become the top Intelligence service in Germany. 44
Such competitiveness had serious implications for the Hitler investigations, as Trevor-Roper explained in further correspondence with Melland. When asked by Melland if he could contact Gerda Christian [Hitler’s secretary to obtain information on the discrepancies in Hitler’s wills, Trevor-Roper explained that Christian was " located later when it was no longer possible for me to go into the U.S. zone…she was therefore interrogated by the U.S. authorities on a brief supplied by me. This, of course, was not very satisfactory, as the interrogators did not have the necessary background to pursue such topics as might emerge during interrogation, or to detect possible errors or lies at the time. Indeed, this fact was a handicap in respect of all prisoners captured after the end of 1945. The most serious case was that of Axmann…the one man who claimed to have seen Bormann dead, was interrogated on my brief only, by a U.S. interrogator without any background knowledge". 45 The inability to interrogate certain witnesses caused some embarrassment for Trevor-Roper. For example, Hannah Reitsch [the famous Luftwaffe pilot who visited Hitler in the Bunker] wrote a letter to "Die Welt" in October 1947, denying that she had ever spoken to Trevor-Roper and completely disowned the account attributed to her in Trevor-Roper’s book. 46 This has been used by conspiracy theorists to outline the supposed unreliability of Trevor-Roper’s investigations. 47 At the time, it caused some German readers of Trevor-Roper’s book to doubt his conclusions. 48 However, Trevor Roper published a reply to Reitsch explaining that she was interrogated by an American interrogator on a brief supplied by him.4 9 Moreover, she sought to distance herself from the interrogation as it emphasised her closeness to Hitler, which was hindering her attempts to obtain employment. Furthermore, Reitsch claimed that her account was crucially important to Trevor-Roper’s book; a statement which Trevor-Roper correctly argued was not true, as will be shown in Chapter Three.
Another issue caused by the American refusal to allow Trevor-Roper to interrogate witnesses was slow information sharing. Indeed, throughout the investigations, British Intelligence officers complained about USFET taking too long to deliver answers to interrogation briefs. On one occasion, Trevor-Roper asked MI5 to "ginger up" USFET because "they gradually get callous to prods, so one has to prod harder each time I find!" 50 Trevor-Roper’s unpublished account of "Anglo-American solidarity" appears to be reliable, as it is written in confidence to Melland, who was Trevor-Roper’s cousin. 51 It is further confirmed by the initial War Office confusion when the wills were published and provides the only explanation available to historians as to why Trevor-Roper did not interrogate some eyewitnesses directly. This new evidence is of significant historical value, as it demonstrates, from Trevor-Roper’s perspective, the reason why some authors may feel the Allies asked the wrong questions, which appears, in Melland’s words, to be American "childishness". However, although inconvenient and a "handicap", American interrogation reports still provided useful evidence in determining Hitler’s death as will be shown in Chapter Three.
Despite some tensions, the joint Anglo-American investigations into Hitler’s death managed to uncover a remarkable amount of evidence in a small space of time. By far a larger hindrance to the Hitler investigations than Anglo-American Intelligence rivalry [which was more about who collected and supplied the evidence than the evidence itself], was Soviet conduct, to which the focus of this chapter now turns.
III. Appeasing the Soviets? British Intelligence and Soviet Conduct
On 23 May 1945, the JIC presented a report on "relations with the Russians" to the War Cabinet. It argued that Britain should be "more tough" with the Soviets and "nothing should be given to the Russians gratuitously". 52 Further, "no Russian request should normally be granted unless some request of ours to which we attach importance is granted in connection with it". It rightly predicted that "with the end of the war in Germany" political events would have an "even greater effect upon the attitude of the Russian military authorities". Overall, it argued that Britain should "drive a hard bargain" and imply a "strict principle of reciprocity’"when negotiating with the Soviets. This evidence supports Aldrich’s argument that the post-war planning of the military and Intelligence services was conditioned by prejudices inherited during inter-war espionage activities against the Bolsheviks .53 It is therefore surprising to see the attitudes towards the Soviets from British Intelligence during the Hitler investigations. Documentary evidence suggests that in depth British investigations into Hitler’s death did not begin until September 1945 because British officials were waiting for evidence to be provided by the Soviets. Indeed, on 30 May 1945, MI6 received a report from "our American friends" detailing Hitler’s dental information [obtained from the American interrogation of Dr. Hugo Blaschke, Hitler’s dentist]. 54 This information was forwarded to the War Office and MI14 [thus illustrating the co-operation between British Intelligence services]. MI14, knowing that "the Russians have apparently been trying to identify Hitler’s body from his dental records"’, suggested that the information should be given to the Soviets as "it may be of assistance to them in settling an issue of equal interest to all the Allies". 55 It is unclear if this information was given to the Soviets as objections were raised due to it originating from an American "secret source". 56 However, the willingness to provide evidence to the Soviets despite earlier JIC recommendations demonstrates a more open-minded attitude towards them during the Hitler investigations, and a belief that they would provide evidence to the Allies once their investigations were complete.
This belief may have inspired British enthusiasm over an "ingenious" suggestion given to Aneurin Bevan by Graham Hodgson [head of the X-ray department of the British Red Cross] that X-rays of Hitler’s skull could be used to compare the "skull in Berlin" supposedly found by the Soviets and thus certify the identity of Hitler.57 This message was passed from the Foreign Office to the War Office [further demonstrating inter-service co-operation] with great enthusiasm, thus arguably showing that British Intelligence expected the Soviets to allow them access to forensic evidence at some point. British and American officials waited for Soviet confirmation of Hitler’s death as contradictory reports were collected by MI14 and the Foreign Office regarding whether Hitler was alive or if the Soviets had discovered his corpse and confirmed his method of death. On 6 June 1945 Soviet officers, including one of Zhukov’s staff officers, informed British newspapers that Hitler’s body had been found and doctors confirmed he had died from poison. 58 On the same day, Stalin told Harry Hopkins that Hitler was still alive. 59 Then, Zhukov announced on 9 June that Hitler’s body had not been found and he could have flown away at the last moment.60 At the Potsdam Conference in July, Stalin re-iterated that Hitler could have escaped to Spain or Argentina. 61 The damage done by such statements was clear to British officials. Newspapers collected by the Foreign Office said many people in Berlin believed Hitler was still alive. 62 One Civil Communications intercept showed that some Germans doubted Hitler was dead because "the Russians swear by all that is holy that he is still alive".63
Soviet behaviour even made one Foreign Office official doubt Hitler’s death as he stated "the Russians are, up to now, very dubious as to the exact cause of Hitler’s death, if he is dead". 64 A SHAEF report on Hitler’s death noted "it is impossible to give any authoritative account of Hitler’s last days as evidence is still accumulating…much of the evidence, too, is in Russian hands". 65 Yet, British Intelligence still believed Hitler was dead, despite Soviet scepticism, as was shown in Chapter One. Nevertheless, one Foreign Office official worried "can we say we believe Hitler to be dead without annoying the Russians, whose press seem to be always suggesting the contrary?". 66 This concern for the possible deterioration of Anglo-Soviet relations provides credence to Greenwood’s argument that maintaining good relations with the Soviets was a key objective of the Foreign Office. However, the Soviet accusation that Hitler was living in the British Zone must have convinced British officials that the Soviets could not be trusted to provide an objective account of Hitler’s death and put too much strain on Anglo-Soviet relations for British Intelligence to wait for a conclusive Soviet statement any longer. 67 Therefore, Trevor-Roper’s investigations were launched, but they were not tainted by anti-Soviet prejudice.
From the outset of Trevor-Roper’s investigations, the Soviets informed Dick White that they had "no satisfactory evidence" that Hitler was dead and expressed the desire to share information on Hitler’s death with the other occupational powers, White agreed to share British evidence. 68 Therefore, throughout Trevor-Roper’s investigations, the Soviets were consulted about British evidence at the QIC, an Intelligence sharing organisation containing representatives from all the occupying powers in Berlin. Despite Soviet accusations that Britain was hiding Hitler and the JIC recommendation of strict reciprocity, British Intelligence continued to pass evidence to the Soviets. 69 They also continued to show interest in searching for X-rays of Hitler’s skull. 70 This shows that prior to the tabling of Trevor-Roper’s conclusions at the QIC on 1 November 1945, British Intelligence still, despite earlier Soviet accusations, expected to gain eventual access to forensic evidence. However, when Trevor-Roper’s report [which formed the basis of his book] was tabled, the Soviets simply stated "very interesting". 71 Another QIC meeting was held on 10 November in which British Iintelligence asked the Soviets if they hold and could make available for interrogation key eyewitnesses such as Heinz Linge [Hitler’s valet] and declare any other evidence they possess on Hitler’s death. 72 By 30 November "no reaction" had been received from the Soviets. 73
Surprisingly in December 1945, American Intelligence officers convinced Soviet General Alexis Sidnev to allow British, American and French representatives to dig in the Reichschancellery garden. 74 However, only one day’s digging was carried out "because on the next day the Russians, for a reason which has never been explained prevented the entrance of the party". On 2 January 1946, numerous newspapers in Berlin, including "Russian controlled" papers, reported that Hitler’s body had been identified "without the possibility of doubt" by his dentist. 75 War Office staff complained that "‘clearly the Russians can have told us nothing" and demanded a statement from them. Attempts were made to telephone numerous Russian officers but British Intelligence received evasive responses such as "we have no official information". 76 The Soviets eventually stopped answering the phone. British Iintelligence was particularly angry as "each Ally undertook to supply any forthcoming information" on Hitler’s death "at once to other representatives" and "the Russians have promised that they would let us know if any further information" about Hitler’s death "came to their notice". 77 At the next QIC meeting, the Soviets were asked about the story but simply stated that "they had no information of this story and that the report must be the imagination of a newspaper reporter". 78 The Soviets "guaranteed" to inform the QIC of any further information they obtained relating to Hitler’s death and ironically argued that "‘rumours should be the subject of official denial in the Press".
Despite the rumours of Hitler’s survival, the accusation of Hitler living in the British Zone and the Soviets clearly withholding information from British Intelligence, the War Office continued to supply evidence to the Soviets. For example, in June 1946, the Soviets asked British Intelligence to give them copies of an interrogation report "rendered from Hitler’s former adjutant, von Below". 79 The British representative asked the War Office to "kindly" consider this request from our "Russian Allies" and the War Office showed a desire to reply to the request "reasonably quickly" and did so. 80
Trevor-Roper’s work, which was published in 1947 as a book called "The Last Days of Hitler", is intrinsically flawed, from the testimony of Hanna Reitsch—“Hitler’s favorite pilot”—who denied ever meeting Trevor-Roper or saying what he quoted of her, to Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below, who later stated that he had lied to the Oxford don and had a good laugh every time he saw his lies repeated. Hitler’s chauffeur, Erich Kempka, was interrogated repeatedly but subsequently admitted in 1974, “I told American and British interrogators just about anything or everything I thought they wanted to hear.”
Accepted as fact, Trevor-Roper’s book has never been out of print. The acclaimed historian—who in 1983 identified the pathetic "Hitler Diaries" forgeries as real—had created his own sophisticated “forgery”. He had never been given access to those Germans who had been in the Bunker and were captured by the Soviets while trying to escape Berlin; these escapees were subsequently held prisoner, some for many years. Similarly, Trevor-Roper received only written accounts from those held by the Americans. All were anxious to save their own skins and invariably related whatever their captors wished to hear—that Hitler was dead
The JIC report of May 1945 was therefore disregarded. This arguably demonstrates a remarkable objectivity on the part of British Intelligence during the Hitler investigations. Despite wider Cold War tensions, British Intelligence was willing to co-operate with the Soviets, even when evidence was not forthcoming from Moscow and they were being consistently ignored. No documentary evidence has yet been produced to explain why the Soviets repeatedly stated that Hitler was alive, despite possessing large quantities of evidence to the contrary. 81 The Foreign Office could not explain why "Russia has been…putting out reports that Hitler is alive, for some obscure reason of their own" and were "unclear what motive’ the Soviets had in ‘spreading lies". 82 Historical speculation has therefore been widespread. Most historians argue that Stalin’s political aims provided the motive for such rumours. Indeed, by claiming Hitler was alive, Stalin could strengthen his claims to territory in Germany during disagreements with Britain by suggesting it would be safer for the Soviets to remain, undermine perceived political opponents such as Zhukov who had earlier claimed that Hitler was dead, attack political enemies by claiming Hitler was in Spain or Argentina and provide an external threat advantageous to totalitarian governmental systems.8 3 Other historians have argued that Stalin wished to maintain the wartime alliance by preserving the common enemy of Hitler or that he genuinely believed Hitler had escaped. 84 However, as will be discussed in Chapter Three, the 2009 DNA results provide weight to one particular interpretation of Soviet conduct, that they were unhappy with the quality of their investigations and did not want their evidence to be scrutinised by the West. 85
The British investigations into Hitler’s death were of great political significance due to the context of Soviet accusations in which they were conducted. 86 However, they were not conducted with political bias, but rather with remarkable objectivity, even towards the Soviets. Any attempts to turn Trevor Roper’s findings into propaganda by the Foreign Office were refuted by Intelligence officers, including Trevor-Roper himself, as recently declassified MI5 documents revealed. Survival rumours, and as will be seen in the following chapter, alternative versions of Hitler’s death, were not ignored in order to convey a rushed, preconceived conclusion to counter Soviet claims of Hitler’s survival. They were investigated thoroughly by British Intelligence and all found to be false. Despite some issues of Anglo-American Intelligence rivalry which hindered the collection of evidence, there is no evidence to suggest that the evidence obtained during the British investigations was tainted by political motivations. The objectivity with which British Intelligence conducted their investigations into Hitler’s death suggests that if the evidence pointed to Hitler’s escape or murder, then Trevor-Roper would have concluded accordingly – but it did not.
1 Levenda, Ratline, pp. 22,25,31,34.
2 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. XXX.
3 O’Donnell, Bunker, p. 14.
4 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 133.
5 TNA, WO 208/3787, White to Robertson [10/09/1945]. 22
6 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 126.
7 Sean Greenwood, Britain and the Cold War [London: Macmillan, 2000], p. 6.
8 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. lviii, 205.
9 Dorril, MI6, p. 67.
10 TNA, KV 4/354, Minute from MI5 to JIC [03/06/1946].
11 TNA, KV 4/354, JIC Minutes [14/06/1946].
12 TNA, KV 4/354, JIC Minutes [24/06/1946] and Trevor-Roper to White [19/06/1946].
14 Greenwood, Britain, pp. 6,8,11.
15 Ibid, p. 10.
16 TNA, CAB 146/438, 'Hitler’s Will: Points From Foreign Office Papers' [31/12/1945].
17 Ibid. See also Aldrich, Hidden, p. 181; Dorril, MI6, p. 99.
18 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, pp. 140-141.
19 TNA, CAB 146/438, FO to Washington [08/01/1946].
20 TNA, CAB 146/438, MI4, Top Secret Cipher Telegram [16/02/1946].
21 TNA, CAB 146/438, FO to Washington [08/01/1946].
22 TNA, WO 208/3788, Templer to Lethbridge [08/12/1945]. Further information on Templer in Dorril, MI6, p. 98. 23 TNA, WO 208/3788, Lethbridge to Templer [04/12/1945].
24 TNA, WO 208/3789, Anonymous letter to Kopf [22/12/1945].
25 TNA, WO 208/3789, Trevor-Roper to Intelligence Bureau [IB] [23/01/1946].
26 TNA, WO 208/3789, Ramsbotham to Wethered [18/12/1945].
27 TNA, WO 208/3788, 'The Hitler Case' [02/12/1945] and TNA, WO 208/3789, 'Draft for Press Hand Out', p. 123.
28 TNA, WO 208/3789, Secret Signal, Central Intelligence Bureau [CIB] [08/01/1946].
29 TNA, WO 208/3789, Concomb to WO [22/01/1946] and TNA, WO 208/3781, 'Hitler’s Will', p. 50.
30 TNA, CAB 146/438, Daily Telegraph [31/12/1945].
31 TNA, WO 208/3781, FO to WO This Document Must Not Be Reproduced' [03/02/1946].
32 TNA, WO 208/3781, Lethbridge to Foord [22/01/1946].
33 TNA, WO 208/3788, WO to CIB [23/11/1945] and TNA, WO 208/3789, 'Hitler’s Wills' [07/01/1946].
34 TNA, WO 208/3789, Concomb to WO [22/01/1946].
35 TNA, CAB 146/438, 'Hitler’s Will: Points From Foreign Office Papers', pp. 3-4.
36 TNA, KV 4/354, JIC Minutes [14/06/1946] and JIC Minutes [24/06/1946].
37 TNA, WO 208/3789, USFET, 'Hitler As Seen By His Doctors' [29/11/1945] and TNA, WO 208/3790, USFET, 'Hitler’s Teeth' and TNA, WO 208/3787, USFET, 'Hitler As Seen By His Doctors' [15/10/1945].
38 TNA, WO 208/3789, Haylor to Sands [08/01/1946].
39 TNA, WO 208/3787, 'Present position of enquiry and recommendations for further action in British and U.S. Zone', p. 30 and 'Frau Christian', p. 147.
40 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, p. xx.
41 TNA, CAB 146/438, Trevor-Roper to Melland [28/03/1966].
43 Ian Sayer and Douglas Botting, America’s Secret Army: The Untold Story of the Counter Intelligence Corps [London: Fontana, 1990], p. 308.
44 Dorril, MI6, p. 104.
45 TNA, CAB 146/438, Trevor-Roper to Melland [08/04/1966].
46 TNA, KV 4/354, Hodges to MI5 [04/11/1947]. Also in TNA, WO 208/3791.
47 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. XXI.
48 TNA, FO 938/196, 299/MG/8482/PRISC (03/03/1948).
49 TNA, KV 4/354, Trevor-Roper reply to Reitsch, published in "Die Welt" on [14//10/1947].
50 TNA, KV 4/354, Trevor-Roper, Christ Church, Oxford [01/08/1946].
51 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 222.
52 TNA, CAB 79/33, JIC Report [23/05/1945].
53 Aldrich, Hidden, pp. 21-22,24,37,49,69.
54 TNA, WO 208/4475, MI6 Political Report [07/06/1945].
55 TNA, WO 208/4475, MI14 [13/07/1945].
56 TNA, WO 208/4475, DDMI Minutes [14/07/1945].
57 TNA, FO 371/46749, Hodgson to Bevan. See also TNA, WO 208/3781 and TNA, WO 208/3787, pp. 88-89.
58 TNA, FO 371/46748, The Times [07/06/1945] also in TNA, WO 208/4475. See also McKale, Survival, p. 46.
59 McKale, Survival, p. 49.
60 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 44.
62 TNA, FO 371/46748, The Times [09/07/1945].
63 TNA, WO 208/3790, Censorship Civil Communications [10/01/1946].
64 TNA, FO 371/46748, FO Minutes [16/05/1945].
65 TNA, FO 371/46749, 'Hitler’s Last Days', SHAEF Memorandum [30/07/1945].
66 TNA, FO 371/46749, Draft Reply to Parliamentary Question [15/10/1945].
67 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 133. 68 TNA, WO 208/3787, White to Robertson [10/09/1945].
69 TNA, WO 208/3787, GSI HQ [24/10/1945].
70 TNA, WO 208/3787, 'Hitler’s Death' [22/10/1945].
71 Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 137.
72 TNA, WO 208/3788, Cameron to Ramsbotham [26/11/1945] and TNA, WO 208/3787, 'The Death of Hitler', p. 35.
73 TNA, WO 208/3788, Searle to Trevor-Roper [30/11/1945].
74 TNA, WO 208/3789, Wethered to Ramsbotham [27/12/1945].
75 TNA, WO 208/3781, Daily Telegraph and Der Kurier [02/01/1946] and 'Alleged Discovery of Hitler’s Body' [03/01/1946].
76 TNA, WO 208/3781, Memorandum [07/01/1946].
77 TNA, WO 208/3781, 'Alleged Discovery of Hitler’s Body' [03/01/1946] and telegram to Halor [07/01/1946].
78 TNA, WO 208/3789, QIC Minutes [10/01/1946].
79 TNA, WO 208/3781, Dubrovski to Jennings [12/06/1946].
80 TNA, WO 208/3781, 'Von Below' [14/06/1946] and 'Von Below' [03/06/1945]. See also Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov [eds], KGB, pp. 22,117-118.
81 Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov [eds], KGB, p. 26.
82 TNA, FO 371/46749, FO Minutes [09/10/1945] and [12/09/1945].
83 Moore and Barret [eds], Killed, pp. 136,138. See also McKale, Survival, pp. 40-41,53-55,63; Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 248-250; O’Donnell, Bunker, p. 302; Antony Beevor, Berlin: The Downfall 1945 [London, Penguin, 2003], pp. 425-426; Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. l-li.
84 McKale, Survival, p. 73. See also Eberle and Uhl [eds], Book, p. xxiv.
85 Professor Norman Stone on 'Timewatch, Hitler’s Death: The Final Report', UK television broadcast 30/04/1995. See also Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 86-87. 86 Hugh Trevor-Roper, The Secret World, Behind the Curtain of British Intelligence in World War II and the Cold War [London: I.B. Tauris, 2014], p. viiii.
Chapter Three: The Evidence Still Stands
I. Positive and Consistent Evidence
The narrative of Hitler’s last days has been disseminated in many publications. It is therefore unnecessary in the scope of this dissertation to reproduce that narrative in detail. However, the historiography lacks a detailed analysis of how British Intelligence selected their evidence and determined the reliable from fictitious before concluding that Hitler shot himself and Eva Braun had taken poison on 30 April 1945. Conspiracy theorists argue that Trevor-Roper used unreliable eyewitness testimonies and have criticised Trevor-Roper’s report [delivered to the QIC on 1 November 1945] and his book as rushed and suggested Hitler was murdered or escaped the Bunker. 1
In order to fully assess these claims, it is essential to analyse the evidence collected by all sources of British intelligence and determine the reliability of the evidence historians have to claim that Hitler died on 30 April 1945, how he died, and assess the significance of the 2009 DNA results. Throughout May 1945 British officials began collecting Intelligence on Hitler’s end. This included signals Intelligence from the Japanese Ambassador at Bad Gastein who informed Tokyo on 30 April 1945 that "the Führer was determined to link his fate with Berlin, and if Berlin fell, he would not survive" and Hitler’s last request for battle information, intercepted from the Führerbunker on 29 April 1945.2 Additionally, the Foreign Office noted that Admiral Dönitz [Hitler’s nominated successor] had broadcast from Hamburg Radio on 1 May 1945 stating Hitler died "at his command post… fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism" [discussed further in section II]. 3 Towards the end of the month the War Office began to receive interrogation reports from captured Nazis such as Johanna Wolf [Hitler’s Secretary] who was "convinced" Hitler had "committed suicide". 4 The most important interrogation was that of Hermann Karnau who was a guard on duty outside the Bunker at the time of Hitler’s cremation. He claimed to have been ordered by an SS officer to leave the vicinity of the Reichschancellery "for a time" and did so. When he returned to the garden he saw the bodies of Hitler and Eva on fire "two metres from the emergency exit". 5 He was interrogated several times and "‘cross-examined carefully" until his interrogators were satisfied that he was "speaking the truth". 6 Karnau drew an image of the location where he claims Hitler and Eva were buried. This location closely matches similar diagrams in Soviet documents. 7
On 20 July British Intelligence obtained a statement from Kurt Samuel whose friend informed him that a member of "Hitler’s personal guard" named Mansfeld claimed "Hitler had committed suicide on 30 April’ and he witnessed Hitler and Eva’s bodies being carried into the garden and burnt". 8 In July 1945, a SHAEF report on ‘Hitler’s Last Days’ compiled the testimonies of Albert Speer [Reichsminister of Armaments], Karnau, SIGINT and Soviet statements to conclude "it seems probable that, from all we know of Hitler’s last days, he chose to die in Berlin". 9 However, the report could not determine Hitler’s manner of death due to the amount of various alternatives that had been suggested. Indeed, evidence at this point was 'ometimes contradictory and incomplete and depends often on hearsay and conjecture'. 10 It was left mainly to Trevor-Roper to determine the reliable from the fictitious. Trevor-Roper built on evidence collected by investigators before him, including a survival rumour reported by MI6 in July 1945 to MI14 [again showing inter-service co-operation]. 11 It is impossible to assess the full role of MI6 in the Hitler investigations. However, the fragments that remain demonstrate that numerous sections of British Intelligence were investigating Hitler’s death before Trevor-Roper’s involvement and thus partially explain the prompt completion of his report. Trevor-Roper’s report drew mainly on evidence obtained from interrogations conducted over the winter of 1945. Karnau was re-interrogated in September and retold his story almost identically.12 His testimony was supported by the interrogation of another Reichschancellery guard, Hilco Poppen. He stated that Karnau told him on 1 May 1945 "Hitler ist tot...Sie liegen [Hitler and Eva Braun] im Garten, und brennen". 13 He also claimed that Hitler was buried in a bomb crater in the garden which he drew on a diagram closely matching that earlier drawn by. Poppen was re-interrogated in October 1945 and repeated his story almost identically. His interrogator, Captain Ingham, considered "he has given the information to the best of his ability" and "as far as he is informed, the statements are true". 14
The interrogation of Kempka [Hitler’s chauffer] confirmed Karnau and Poppen’s testimonies.15 Kempka claimed that Otto Günsche [Hitler’s adjutant/bodyguard] telephoned him on 30 April and requested that 200 litres of petrol be sent to the Führerbunker. Kempka did so and later made his way over to the Führerbunker where Günsche told him Hitler was dead and had shot himself in the mouth. Kempka then saw Hitler and Eva’s bodies being carried out of Hitler’s room and helped carry them into the garden [Kempka took Eva’s body from Bormann] with Günsche and Linge. They then poured petrol over the bodies and quickly retreated to the Bunker exit due to heavy Russian artillery fire. Günsche lit a "rag" and threw it on the bodies "and they burst into flames". They each gave a final Hitler salute and returned to the Bunker. "Despite some discrepancies", the interrogator noted that Kempka’s account "generally agrees’ with that of Mansfeld who also stated that Hitler’s body was brought up first into the garden in a blanket with his legs protruding, followed by Eva who was uncovered. Trevor-Roper combined this evidence with recollections of Hitler’s statements and behaviour from numerous eyewitnesses who were present in the Bunker throughout April 1945 and information on his physical health from records and interrogations of his doctors to produce a detailed psychological analysis of Hitler’s decision to commit suicide. For example, the testimony of Hanna Reitsch was considered "reliable" by her interrogator and she believed "the tactical situation and Hitler’s own physical condition made any thoughts of his escape inconceivable". 16 Indeed, Hanna and other witnesses noted how Hitler frequently proclaimed his wish to shoot himself in Berlin and have his body burnt rather than be captured "alive or dead" by the Russians and how Göbbels spoke about "“setting an example that would long blaze as a holy thing from the pages of history” by dying in Berlin. 17
Trevor-Roper never claimed his Intelligence report was definitive as it explicitly states the "‘evidence is not complete; but it is positive, circumstantial, consistent and independent" as opposed to rumours of Hitler’s survival which had all been investigated and found to be "baseless". 18 He admitted that "the only conclusive evidence" would be "the discovery, and certain identification, of the body…in absence of this the only positive evidence" is eyewitness accounts. Another reason the report was submitted promptly was because [as explained in Chapter Two] British Intelligence arranged to pool evidence with the Soviets at the QIC, this was their first unsuccessful attempt to do so. Trevor-Roper concluded that it was "quite impossible" that eyewitnesses had invented a "cover story" or that Eva Braun was "fobbed off with the corpse of a double" as they were each under "‘detailed and persistent cross-examination". Trevor-Roper was responding here to speculation in the press that "circumstantial evidence" from "lesser fry could well be an attempt to cover Hitler’s trail". 19 It was in fact Trevor-Roper’s reliance on "lesser fry" that made his conclusions more believable by the fact that they were independent of each other and circumstantial. Indeed, Karnau stumbled upon Hitler’s cremation by accident; he was not supposed to witness it. Karnau saw the petrol ordered by Günsche delivered to the Bunker and a later witness confirmed he overheard the telephone conversation between Günsche and Kempka regarding petrol. 20
Shortly after the publication of Trevor-Roper’s report, Hitler’s wills and marriage certificate were discovered. The wills explicitly stated that Hitler and Braun had chosen to die in Berlin and thus confirmed Trevor-Roper’s conclusions. Hitler’s marriage was verified by numerous eyewitnesses such as von Varo who claimed the marriage "was openly discussed by everyone", the secretaries who attended the wedding reception and Hitler’s wills which mention the marriage directly. 21 Trevor Roper had the signatures on the wills authenticated by a MI5 handwriting expert who judging from years of experience was in "no doubt" that the "signatures" are "genuine" and von Below, who signed the will. 22 Melland had them authenticated again by forensic scientists in 1966. 23 Indeed, Melland had planned to transfer the wills from the Foreign Office to display at the Imperial War Museum and in the process noticed textual discrepancies between the British and American held copies. 24 These discrepancies were minor grammatical errors which did not affect "the sense of the contents" and were eventually attributed to the "frenzied atmosphere" in the Bunker. 25 More importantly, Melland discovered that the Soviets held a fourth copy of the wills, a fact that was unknown to Trevor-Roper. 26 Its existence was confirmed in Marshal Vasily Chuikov’s memoirs and by the historian John Erickson who was shown the wills by Chuikov. 27
Trevor-Roper, Erickson and Melland concluded that the fourth copy was taken by General Krebs to Chuikov during truce negotiations on 30 April 1945 after Hitler’s suicide. 28 However, they were unable to discover who typed it and it is not mentioned in any publications about Hitler’s death. Melland attempted to contact the Soviets to compare the copies but was ignored. 29 The Russians are therefore withholding more evidence than has previously been assumed.
This documentary evidence was bolstered by further interrogation reports. One criticism voiced by German readers of Trevor-Roper’s book in 1948 was "we are unable to test the sources". 30 Fortunately, the recently released MI5 files contain a detailed summary of the main sources used by Trevor-Roper submitted to the JIC. 31 In addition, a timetable of events produced by Captain Searle and modified by Trevor-Roper shows that he used the testimonies of several eyewitnesses for each key date to substantiate his conclusions, thus refuting Reitsch’s claim that her testimony was crucial to his thesis. 32
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. It would be easy, but unfair, to suggest that Mengershausen had fabricated his story, but Rattenhuber himself affirmed that Mengershausen had been present at the scene. 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.
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, 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.
In Berchtesgaden on 20 June 1945, Erich Kempka made a statement for American interrogator George R. Allen, the counter-Intelligence 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".
The evidence of the fifth eyewitness, Hermann Karnau, who escaped from Berlin, but by mid-May he had made his way to his British-occupied hometown, Wilhelmshaven, where he surrendered to Canadian troops, is intersting. 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".
Unfortunately, Karnau's statement clashed with Kempka's. He 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. 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.
Chauffeur "Saw Hitler Burning"
The Sun [Sydney, NSW]
21 June 1945
LONDON: Still another version of how Hitler died is given by the Führer's chauffeur, Eric Kempka, now in British hands. Kempka says that Hitler and his sweetheart, Eva Braun, shot themselves two days after they were married in an underground shelter behind the Chancellery in Berlin. Kempka [according to a "British United Press" correspondent in North Germany] says that at 3 am on 2 May [the day Berlin fell to the Russians] he personally carried Braun's body out of the shelter. Later he saw the two petrol-soaked bodies burning.
Another "British United Press" correspondent reports an interview at Herford [near Hanover] with a German police witness named Hermann Karnau, which substantiates Kempka's statement Karnau said he saw the bodies of Hitler and Braun burning outside the Chancellery shelter in the early hours of 2 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". 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.
On 4 July, Kempka made a second statement in which he stated that he was now certain that Hitler had been cremated on 30 April 1945. 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.
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 27 April 1945".
Lieutenant Colonel O.J. Hale conducted Kempka’s interrogation, which took place at the Third Army Intelligence Center on 26 September 1945. The report’s focus is on the final days leading up to, and circumstances, of Hitler’s death, with an additional section for Kempka’s supplementary statements. Kempka was the chief witness in the matter of Hitler’s death due to his extensive description of Hitler and Eva Braun’s cremation. A Lieutenant Blake, who attempted to disprove or verify his report, also interrogated Kempka [date unknown]. The uniformity of his account throughout multiple interrogations convinced Intelligence officers of his truthfulness on the subject [sic].
The interrogators asked, "in your report how did you fix the Führer’s death as occurring on 30 April instead of 1 May or 27 April?" Kempka responded that he placed the death on 30 April 1945 due to its proximity to the attempted escape by those still living in the Bunker on 1 May. Kempka spoke to Hitler for the last time on 29 April outside of the Bunker, when the Führer inquired about the state of the remaining vehicles in the motor pool. He responded that they were in poor condition, but that it was still possible to transport supplies to area hospitals, to which Hitler offered words of encouragement before returning to the Bunker.
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 Mayor even 2 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.
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.
Since Trevor-Roper was prohibited from the American Zone after the Truscott incident, later interrogations were conducted by American interrogators on briefs prepared by him. Such briefs asked precise, detailed and extensive questions which were usually answered in full on the resulting interrogation reports. 33 Trevor-Roper is therefore arguably too critical of American interrogators. Indeed, USFET produced several detailed reports on Artur Axmann [head of the Hitler Youth] who claimed to have entered Hitler’s room after his suicide and saw both Hitler and Eva dead on their sofa. 4 Hitler shot himself in the right temple "as Axmann saw most of the blood on Hitler’s right temple and on the right side of the face" and Eva had taken poison. 35 His interrogator, Leo Barton, drew a diagram of the position of the bodies from the viewpoint of Axmann. Barton concluded that Axmann was "able to distinguish actual observations from conjecture" and "was not shaken by objections or doubts raised by the interrogator" and remarked that"‘the Russians must have been able to verify the truth and accuracy of his story". It was mainly Kempka and Axmann who convinced Trevor-Roper that Hitler had shot himself and Eva had taken poison. This was also supported by the testimonies of Hitler’s secretary Junge and Bormann’s secretary Krüger who were both told by Günsche [then a Russian prisoner of war] that Hitler had shot himself whereas Eva had taken poison and Christian who heard the same from Linge [also a Russian PW]. 36
This evidence by the secretaries is NOT eye-witness evidence but hear-say, unacceptable in court. They are testifying to what they "were told" by others as actual first-hand knowledge of FACTS.
36 However, in order to reach these conclusions the challenge of eyewitness discrepancies had to be overcome.
Eyewitness discrepancies in Trevor-Roper’s investigations have been used by conspiracy theorists to present his account as an "intrinsically flawed…forgery" and bolster claims of Hitler’s escape. 37 Cooper has outlined in detail many discrepancies given over time between the statements of Günsche, Kempka and Linge regarding the position of the bodies, which body was carried out first, who entered the suicide room first and at what time to argue that this was an "SS charade" which provides proof that Hitler did not die in the Bunker. 38 However, Trevor-Roper took many discrepancies into account. For example, Karnau believed Hitler was cremated on 1 May, whereas Axmann claimed 29 April and Kempka 30 April. Kempka was re-interrogated in January 1946 due to these discrepancies and repeated his story identically; his interrogator concluded that he had told a "straight story". 39 Consequently, Trevor-Roper used captured documents [such as a telegram sent from Göbbels to Dönitz on 1 May 1945 informing him that Hitler had died the previous day] combined with the testimonies of those last to see Hitler to confirm that Hitler died on 30 April 1945. 40
10 January 1949
Hitler’s Aides Are Unable To Confirm Suicide: Pilot and Personal Valet Say They Never Saw Führer's Body
BERLIN: Hittler's valet, his personal pilot and his aide claim they are unable to confirm the Führer’s reported suicide death in his Berlin Bunker. All three men have been seen in Soviet Russia and asked about it. The information comes from Maj. Gen. Walter Schreiber, surgeon general of the Wehrmacht, who was a prisoner of the Russians for six years.
Schreiber was indoctrinated for a Communist-dominated job under the Russians in Germany. He came here under a pretense of accepting it and fled at the first opportunity. The general told American interrogators he had tried often to pick up information about Hitler's death, but never had any success even though he spoke with men that should have—or would have—known about it. Schreiber was captured in Berlin on 29 April 1945. by Russian soldiers who overran an underground field hospital near the Reichstag. He was taken to the Soviet prisoner camp at Strausberg. There, he says he met Colonel [Otto] Günsche. SS aide to Hitler who was captured in the Führer's own Bunker. He asked if Hitler was alive or dead, and Güntsche replied: "I did not see the dead Führer". Asked about suicide, Günsche said; "Those things were all done without us". A Russian interrogator told Schreiber that Günsche now is in Lubyanka prison in Moscow. Schreiber later met Brigadeführer [Wilhelm] Mohnke. who was on duty in the Reichschancellory Bunker. He said the SS officer had an "arrogant attitude" and "refused to give any information". In the same prison camp he met Hitler's pilot, [Hans] Baur. who was wounded while making an aborted escape from the Bunker with some SS men. Baur told him he did not see Hitler dead, but that he knew Martin Bormann, Deputy Führer was missing after he had embarked on an escape attempt. Later at another prison camp in Posen, Schreiber ran into Hitler's personal valet [Heinz} Linge, who also was chief over Hitler's household staff. Linge lold him he did not see Hitler, but he had noticed bodies wrapped up being carried out of the Bunker: "Everybody believed they were Hitler and Eva Btaun, but nobody knew for sure", Linge said he was told.
Discrepancies were attributed to "the turmoil of the last days". Joachimsthaler provides a detailed and convincing explanation for discrepancies in the accounts of numerous eyewitnesses including Linge and Günsche [who were released from Soviet captivity in the 1950s]. Indeed, he argues that due to the urgency of the situation, the witnesses may not have made "precise observations" and only noted the positions of the bodies subconsciously and therefore experienced "flash-back" recall in which it took months of interrogations for a coherent observation constructed from flash-backs to surface. 41 Historians may never be able to definitively explain all of the discrepancies. Nevertheless, as Petrova and Watson point out, eyewitness discrepancies are common in court cases, with some witnesses being certain of what they saw even when proved wrong. 42 Importantly, as Joachimsthaler points out, all the witnesses who saw Hitler’s body in situ agree that he shot himself due to the blood on and around his corpse, whereas Eva’s corpse was not bloody but smelt of bitter almonds, indicating cyanide poisoning. 43 However, one major discrepancy expressed by various eyewitnesses was that Hitler had poisoned himself, this requires further analysis.
II. Alternative Versions of Hitler’s Death
Adolf Hitler has died more deaths in one week than any man in history
Said the Hamburg radio:
Hitler died "at his command post in the Reich Chancellery, fighting the Russians to the last".
Said Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who had it from Heinrich Himmler on 24 April 1945:
Hitler had a cerebral hemorrhage, might already be dead.
Said Dr. Hans Fritzsche, captured Göbbels deputy:
Hitler had committed suicide.
Said the Tokyo radio:
Hitler was killed by an exploding shell as he walked down the steps of his Berlin Chancellery.
Said the Paris-Presse:
After a quarrel with Hitler over the continuation of the war, other Nazi leaders blew him to bits by a bomb placed in his underground fortress in the Tiergarten on 21 April.
Said the London Daily Express:
Hitler is on his way to Japan in a U-Boat.
Said United Press war correspondent Edward W. Beattie Jr., liberated last week after eight months in Nazi captivity:
Germans believe that Hitler was killed in last year's bomb plot.
Soviet soldiers dug deep into the rubble of the Reich Chancellery for Hitler's corpse. They did not find it. Dr. Fritzsche explained to them:
The body has been hidden in a place impossible to find.
But Russia was determined to find Hitler, dead or alive.
Whether he escaped to hell, to the devil's paws, or to the arms of fascist protectors, still he is no more. We shall find out what really happened to him. And if he escaped, we shall find him, no matter where he is.
14 May 1945
The announcement on 1 May 1945 that Hitler had died "fighting to his last breath" sparked a flurry of comments from the Foreign Office. The general worry was that "German propaganda will play up the manner of Hitler’s death with a view to establishing the Hitler legend" therefore "we must do all in our power to play it down". 44 On 24 April, Himmler had stated during secret peace negotiations with Count Bernadotte that Hitler was so ill that he would likely be dead within two days. 45 The Foreign Office considered this a good "weapon" to counteract Dönitz’s story of Hitler’s heroic death which they correctly believed was formulated "in an effort to secure maximum resistance by the German". 46 Consequently, Eisenhower authorised a press statement describing Himmler’s comments in order to "‘destroy the Hitler martyr myth". 47 However, this statement gave rise to claims that Hitler was murdered by his doctors on the orders of Himmler, a conclusion supported by some American intelligence officers. 48 However, far from ignoring conflicting eyewitness testimony as conspiracy theorists claim, British Intelligence investigated alternative versions of Hitler’s death.
On 7 May 1945, Churchill received SIGINT from numerous Ambassadors which stated Hitler had died in a variety of ways. For example, the Brazilian Ambassador claimed "Hitler, Göring and Göbbels were assassinated" during a struggle between Himmler and the military. 49 At the end of the month the Foreign Office collected newspaper cuttings asserting "that according to evidence discovered by the Russians, Hitter was probably killed by an injection given by his physician Dr. Morrell". 50 From May to September 1945 British intelligence investigated rumours that Hitler was assassinated on the orders of Himmler in 1944 and buried in a crypt at Obersalzberg. 51 In October 1945 Bernadotte asserted "it is my absolute conviction that Hitler is dead and that Himmler killed him". 52 Conspiracy theorists accuse Trevor-Roper of overlooking this statement. 53 Furthermore, several of the eyewitnesses interrogated by British intelligence, including Karnau, claimed that Hitler had poisoned himself.54 Similarly, Willi Otto Müller believed Dr. Stumpfegger had poisoned Hitler with an injection. 55 During Trevor-Roper’s investigations, eyewitnesses were questioned on the possibility of Himmler murdering Hitler. Werner Grothmann [Himmler’s aide-de-camp] "did not believe that Himmler ever contemplated murdering Hitler; he regarded such a suggestion as fantastic; Himmler always professed complete loyalty to Hitler". 56 This statement was confirmed by other close associates of Himmler. Consequently, Trevor-Roper established that Bernadotte was mistaken. 57 Trevor-Roper found the statements of those who claimed Hitler had poisoned himself, or was poisoned by his doctors to be based on hearsay. Indeed, Karnau when re-interrogated admitted that "the poison story…is mere hearsay based on old stories that the Führer would take poison before being captured by the Russians". 58 Many witnesses, including Karnau, had simply assumed Hitler poisoned himself as they believed Dr. Stumpfegger poisoned Hitler’s dog Blondi. 59 Crucially for Trevor-Roper, the eyewitnesses who saw Hitler dead on his sofa claimed he had shot himself and informed his immediate entourage of the fact. Clearly, as Ian Kershaw argues, the conclusions of conspiracy theorists such as Thomas that Hitler was murdered "belong in fairyland". 60 Nevertheless, the Soviets claimed Hitler was poisoned. However, the Soviet autopsy, like the skull claimed to be Hitler’s, is questionable.
III. The Skull Changes Everything?
As Chapter One demonstrated, Hitler has been said to have fled to Ireland, Egypt and Hamburg. Therefore, one must question why most conspiracy theories claim Hitler escaped to Argentina. One reason is quite simple, because other Nazis fled there. However, if this logic was applied to other survival rumours the outcome would be ridiculous. For instance, one Nazi was apprehended in May 1945 disguised as a monk, this does not mean that survival rumours of Hitler dressed as a monk should be taken more seriously. 61 Yet, this is the level of speculation that conspiracy theorists expect to convince readers to draw history changing conclusions. A similar lack of relationship between evidence and conclusions is disseminated by conspiracy theorists who use the 2009 DNA results as evidence of Hitler’s escape. 62 Stalin said Hitler escaped to Argentina, other Nazis escaped there, the skull in Moscow thought to be Hitler’s belongs to a woman, the Soviets did not find Hitler’s body, therefore, Hitler must have escaped is their basic line of argument. Yet, if one analyses the Soviet investigations in more detail, interesting questions are raised and matters become more complex, but nothing suggests that Hitler escaped the Bunker.
Petrova and Watson’s analysis of Soviet documents came close to a plausible explanation of the 2009 DNA results. As the documents revealed, the first corpse claimed to be Hitler’s found by the Soviets at the Bunker was a very poor look-alike. Historians disagree whether this was Gustav Weler [Hitler’s double] or a corpse deliberately dressed up by SMERSH to look like Hitler. 63 Nevertheless, as a result of thinking this corpse was Hitler, two bodies found in a bomb crater near the Bunker exit were reburied. 64 This was an embarrassing start to the investigations by the SMERSH unit who had been ordered to find Hitler’s body. Even more embarrassing was the way in which evidence was disregarded in the Bunker. Indeed, the first Soviets to enter the Führerbunker were a group of women from the medical corps who stole Eva Braun’s lingerie. 65 Byford-Jones was later shown a room full of Hitler’s personal belongings looted from the bunker by Soviet guards. 66 Clearly, the Bunker vicinity was not properly secured as on 10 September 1945, British Lieutenant-Colonel McCowen broke into the Führerbunker and found Hitler’s engagement diary kept by Linge, which was used by Trevor Roper to validate certain times and dates. 67 That vital evidence such as this could be left discarded five months after Hitler’s death demonstrates how poor Soviet evidence gathering was. When it was discovered that the look-alike corpse was not Hitler, the two bodies [which Soviet documents claim are Hitler and Eva] near the Bunker exit were re-exhumed and sent for autopsy which stated they died from poisoning. 68 However, as Petrova and Watson point out; there are significant issues with the SMERSH investigation. 69 For instance, the autopsy did not dissect the organs of the alleged Hitler and Eva corpses to determine for certain whether they died from poisoning, yet they did so with the corpses of the Göbbels family. 70
Stalin must have been unsatisfied by the initial SMERSH conclusions as he authorised a second commission into Hitler’s death by the NKVD [Soviet Secret Service] in 1946. 71 Petrova and Watson argue that Stalin could have ordered this second investigation due to embarrassment and jealousy that the West may have collected more evidence than him which could also explain why the Soviets refused to share evidence with Trevor Roper. 72 The Soviets had displayed similar behaviour before. As the JIC concluded in April 1945, the Russians’ were unlikely to allow western "Intelligence teams" to visit areas under their control as they were conscious "of their administrative inferiority compared with the Americans and ourselves" due to their "rapid advance". 73 The second NKVD investigation suggested that Hitler had died by shooting after confirming that bloodstains on Hitler’s sofa and walls in the Bunker were of his blood type and finding a piece of skull damaged by a bullet hole in the bomb crater where the two corpses found by SMERSH were buried. That such evidence could be found a year later shows the poor quality of the initial investigation. Suspiciously, SMERSH did not allow the alleged Hitler and Eva bodies to be re examined by the NKVD, despite an order from Moscow. 75 This, Petrova and Watson argue, is because SMERSH was embarrassed that they had "botched" the autopsy and reached the incorrect conclusion that Hitler had poisoned himself.7 6 The Soviets therefore maintained an official silence as they did not want to admit their mistakes. 77
The 2009 DNA results demonstrate that the Soviet investigations were in fact more "botched" than was previously thought. Indeed, Anatoli Prokopenko [director of the State Special Trophy Archive in Moscow claimed the skull fragment was genuinely Hitler’s. 78 Bold claims made by historians that the skull proved once and for all Hitler’s method of death were refuted in 2009 by DNA testing. However, rather than indicating Hitler’s escape, it is likely that the NKVD simply recovered a fragment from one of many corpses which were strewn around the Reichschancellery garden by Soviet artillery fire and thrown into numerous bomb craters. 79 What then, happened to Hitler’s body? Due to the amount of eyewitness discrepancies, Trevor-Roper could only conclude that "‘like Alaric…the modern destroyer of mankind is now immune from discovery". 80 Most historians agree that the Soviets recovered Hitler’s teeth; these have been identified by his dentists and confirmed by X-ray comparison. 81 But as Fest argues, it is likely that the teeth are all that remained of Hitler. 82 As some eyewitnesses claim, the rest of his body was probably destroyed by artillery fire. 83 Due to the unprofessional behaviour of Soviet Intelligence officers and resulting poor quality of their investigations, the dubious autopsy report with scientific inconsistencies tainted by ideological motivations and the 2009 DNA revelations, the author is inclined to agree with historians such as Joachimsthaler, Fest and Kershaw that the Soviets did not find Hitler’s body. 84 However, this does not mean that Hitler escaped. Thorough cross-examinations of eyewitnesses, documentary evidence [captured telegrams, Hitler’s wills], bloodstains on Hitler’s sofa and the identification of Hitler’s teeth provide ample evidence to refute such claims. Indeed, Trevor-Roper was able to conclude convincingly that Hitler committed suicide without knowing the final location of his corpse. Ultimately, the 2009 DNA results reveal more about the quality of the Soviet investigations than Hitler’s suicide.
1 Moore and Barret (eds), Killed, p. 114. See also Levenda, Ratline, pp. 21-22. 2 TNA, HW 1/3760, Japanese Ambassador to Tokyo (30/04/1945) and TNA, HW 5/767, CX/MSS/SC.2. See also Aldrich, Hidden, p. 27 for further information on Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) from the Japanese Ambassador. 3 TNA, FO 371/4764, The Times (02/05/1945). 4 TNA, WO 208/4475, Interrogation of Johanna Wolf (31/05/1945). 5 TNA, KV 4/354, Report on Interrogation of Hermann Karnau (19/06/1945). 6 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Hermann Karnau (28/05/1945), Report on Interrogation of Hermann Karnau (19/06/1945). 7 Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov (eds), KGB, pp. 67,80. 8 TNA, KV 4/354, ‘Verbal statement’ by ‘Kurt Samuel’ (20/07/1945). 9 TNA, FO 371/46749, ‘Hitler’s Last Days’, SHAEF Memorandum (30/07/1945). 10 Ibid. 11 TNA, WO 208/3787, CX CF/IV/73 (July 1945). 12 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Karnau (26/09/2945). 13 TNA, WO 208/3787, Interrogation Report of Hilco Poppen (30/09/1945). Figure 2: Rough sketch by Hilco Poppen showing the location of Hitler and Eva's burial, TNA, WO 208/3787.
14 TNA, WO 208/3787, Interrogation Report of Hilco Poppen (06/10/1945). 15 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Erich Kempka (07/10/1945). 16 TNA, WO 208/3787, USFET, Interrogation of Hanna Reitsch (08/10/1945). 17 Ibid and TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Albert Speer (11/09/1945) and TNA, WO 208/3791, USFET, Interrogation of Gerda Christian (25/04/1946).
18 TNA, WO 208/3781, ‘The Death of Hitler’ also in TNA, WO 208/3787. 19 TNA, FO 371/46748, The Times (09/07/1945). 20 TNA, WO 208/3791, Kurt Hewe ‘My Service in the Shelter of the Reich Chancellery’ (18/12/1946). 21 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Baroness von Varo (01/10/1945) and ‘Points Emerging from special interrogation of Else Krüger’ (29/09/1945) and USFET, ‘Interrogation of Junge, Gertrud’ (30/12/1946) and TNA, WO 208/3791, USFET, Interrogation of Gerda Christian (25/04/1946). 22 TNA, WO 208/3788, Statement by William James Skardon (01/12/1945) and TNA, WO 208/3781, undated ‘Second Interrogation of Von Below’. 23 TNA, CAB 146/438, Forensic Science Laboratory Report by Ronald M. Mitchell (16/06/1966). 24 TNA, CAB 146/438, ‘Note on Hitler’s 1945 Wills’ (1971). 25 TNA, CAB 146/438, Melland to Trevor-Roper (23/03/1966) and Melland to Dr. L. Kahn (09/12/1966). 26 TNA, CAB 146/438, ‘Note on Hitler’s 1945 Wills’ (1971). 27 TNA, CAB 146/438, Translation of Marshal Chuikov’s memoirs (1964) and John Erickson to Melland (28/09/1965). 28 TNA, CAB 146/438, ‘Note on Hitler’s 1945 Wills’ (1971) and Erickson to Melland (31/03/1965). 29 TNA, CAB 146/438, ‘Note on Hitler’s 1945 Wills’ (1971). 30 TNA, FO 938/196, ‘Report on “The Last Days of Hitler” By Trevor-Roper For North Rhine Westphalia’ (1948). 31 TNA, KV 4/354, JIC ‘Bibliographical Note’ (03/06/1946). 32 TNA, WO 208/3790, Trevor-Roper to Searle (07/03/1946) and ‘Time Table of Events in Hitler’s Bunker’. 37 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. XXI. 38 Cooper, Argentina, pp. 8-16. 39 TNA, WO 208/3788, USFET, Interrogation of Kempka (12/01/1946). 40 TNA, WO 208/3789, Searle to USFET (26/01/1946) and TNA, WO 208/3790, Trevor-Roper to USFET (11/02/1946). 41 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, p. 159. 42 Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 114-115. 43 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 155-156,161,163-164,166,173,176-177,182. 44 TNA, FO 371/46748, ‘Some thoughts on Hitler’s death’ (02/05/1945). 45 TNA, FO 371/46748, ‘Top Secret Cypher Telegram’ (02/05/1945). 46 TNA, FO 371/46748, ‘Some thoughts on Hitler’s death’ (02/05/1945) and ‘Top Secret Cypher Telegram’ (02/05/1945). 47 TNA, FO 371/46748, ‘Top Secret Cypher Telegram’ (02/05/1945) and C1958/31/18 (04/05/1945). 48 Moore and Barret (eds), Killed, pp. 121-123. 49 TNA, HW1/3760, ‘Brazilian Ambassador, London, Reports on Death of Hitler’ (03/05/1945). 50 TNA, FO 371/46748, The Times (24/05/1945). 51 TNA, WO 204/2349, (entire folder) and TNA, FO 371/46748, FO Minutes (07/06/1945) and TNA, WO 208/3787, ‘Nazi Underground Installation’ (21/09/1945). 52 TNA, WO 208/4475, BBC Monitoring (17/10/1945). 53 Moore and Barret (eds), Killed, pp. 117,123. 54 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Hermann Karnau (28/05/1945). 55 TNA, WO 208/3790, Memorandum on ‘Mueller, Willi Otto’ (04/02/1946). 56 TNA, KV 4/354, Interrogation of Werne Grothmann (26/09/1945). 57 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, p. xxiii. 58 TNA, KV 4/354, Report on Interrogation of Hermann Karnau (19/06/1945). 59 TNA, KV 4/354, ‘Top Secret: Ref:- Hermann Karnau’ (21/06/1945) and TNA, WO 208/3790, Memorandum on ‘Mueller, Willi Otto’ (04/02/1946). 60 Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis (London: Penguin, 2000), p. 1038. 61 TNA, CAB 79/33, JIC SHAEF ‘Political Intelligence Report’ (14/05/1945). 62 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. xix. See also Levenda, Ratline, p. 18. 63 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 90. See also Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 21,180; Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov (eds), KGB, p. 24. 64 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 53. See also Bezymenski, Death, p. 33. 65 Fest, Bunker, p. 158. 66 Byford-Jones, Twilight, p. 122. 67 TNA, KV 4/354, statement of John L. McCowen (30/05/1947) and Trevor-Roper to White (20/06/1947). 68 Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 53-56. 69 Ibid, p. 81. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid, p. 82. 72 Ibid. 73 TNA, CAB 79/33, JIC Report (29/04/1945).
74 Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 85, 87. See also Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov (eds), KGB, p. 24. 75 Petrova and Watson, Death, p. 86. 76 Ibid. 77 Ibid, p. 87. See also Stone on ‘Timewatch’. 78 Petrova and Watson, Death, pp. 2,3,76. 79 TNA, WO 208/4475, Interrogation of Axmann (16/10/1947). See also Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 217,252. 80 Trevor-Roper, Hitler, pp. 182-183. See also TNA, KV 4/354, White to Shoosmith (04/10/1946). 81 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 225,231,236,253. See also Vinogradov, Pogonyi and Teptzov (eds), KGB, pp. 95-107. 82 Fest, Bunker, p. 164. 83 Joachimsthaler, Hitler, pp. 214,218,221,252. 84 Ibid, pp. 180-181,252-253. See also Fest, Bunker, p. 163; Kershaw, Hitler, p. 1039.
Conclusion: "The Onus is on Hitler"
Having analysed the opinions of British officials on various Hitler survival rumours and determined that political motivations did not obstruct their conclusions, it has been established that according to British Intelligence, based on their evidence and investigations, there is no basis in fact whatsoever to any conspiracy theories. Through analysis of recently declassified Intelligence files, this dissertation has shed further light on the mystery surrounding Hitler’s death. Indeed, previously unpublished interrogation reports preserved by MI5 revealed just how meticulous British Intelligence was in cross examining witnesses and demonstrated the objectivity of their conclusions through Trevor-Ropers statements to the JIC.
So magisterial was Trevor-Roper, now Lord Dacre, in relation to Hitler studies that when in 1983 Britain’s "Sunday Times", by then owned by Rupert Murdoch, acquired the rights to a set of notebooks purporting to be Hitler’s personal diaries, the now ageing but immensely distinguished historian was cynically deployed to authenticate the "Hitler Diaries". In the media frenzy that surrounded the publication of "the scoop of the century", Murdoch threw Trevor-Roper to the wolves, dismissing the elderly historian’s subsequent doubts with the memorably brutal: "Fuck Dacre. Publish".
In the uproar that preceded the exposure of these documents as shameless forgeries, Trevor-Roper was first humiliated, then pilloried. [Initially, he had expressed doubts, then changed his mind under duress, and declared that they could be genuine, before finally agreeing that they were a fake]. His reputation never recovered.
-- The Guardian
5 September 2016
It is rarely possible when studying Intelligence files to recreate personal relationships between Intelligence officers.1 However, the files on Hitler’s death contain personal correspondence, jokes and compliments. Consequently, recently declassified files enabled this dissertation to outline the dynamics between Anglo-American Intelligence agencies which resulted in both friendships and vendettas. More importantly, the analysis of the contributions of numerous Intelligence officers has distanced this dissertation from the "one man show" of Trevor-Roper and acknowledged the efforts of other officers who often go unsung. 2 However, the role of Trevor-Roper must not be understated. His failure in later life to identify the fake "Hitler Diaries" [which Sisman convincingly argues was a betrayal of Trevor-Roper’s trust] has enabled conspiracy theorists to be overly critical of his early Intelligence work. 3 But as this dissertation has shown, Trevor-Roper was a highly regarded Intelligence officer in 1945 who showed a great deal of objectivity in his scrupulous hunt for the truth of how Hitler died. The "Hitler Diaries" fiasco should not reflect badly on his earlier Intelligence work.
The evidence analysed in this dissertation suggests that any doubts regarding political motivations or the reliability of Trevor-Roper’s conclusions can be removed. Nevertheless, no conclusions on Hitler’s death can be definitive as many Russian archives remain closed. Consequently, although this dissertation has debunked numerous conspiracy theories, it has also raised more questions, such as who typed the fourth copy of Hitler’s will. The files of Stalin’s secretariat if they are ever released may reveal why Stalin decided to repress evidence and could contradict the conclusions made in this dissertation about Soviet conduct.
When it was first published, "The Last Days of Hitler" had a quasi-propaganda purpose: to prove, definitively, by brilliant detective work, that the Hitler was not only dead, but had killed himself.
This, triumphantly, Trevor-Roper achieved. His account has never seriously been challenged. More than that, he also contrived to interweave into his narrative a critique of the Nazi state and its origins that would help shape the prodigious historiography of the Hitler regime that blossomed like a pernicious weed throughout the second half of the 20th century.
Trevor-Roper’s contemporary and rival, the historian AJP Taylor, wrote in the "Observer": "Trevor-Roper’s brilliant book demonstrated how a great historian can arrive at the truth even when much of the evidence is lacking or, as in this case, deliberately kept from him… This was all the doing of one incomparable scholar".
Although the evidence outlined in Chapter Three suggests Hitler shot himself, it would be foolish [as the 2009 DNA results showed] to claim this is the definitive answer. What is needed in future studies is co operative scholarship between forensic scientists and historians using archives throughout the world. A future study using American archival material could provide an American perspective of Truscott’s actions and assess the opinions of American officials on rumours of Hitler’s survival. Perhaps, as Fest argues, due to numerous eyewitness discrepancies, historians may never know Hitler’s method of suicide. There is however no longer any ideological baggage in concluding that Hitler shot himself. Indeed, despite Dr. Göbbels’ attempt to create a myth that would revive Nazism from the ashes of a heroic Wagnerian ending, the lies of conspiracy theorists and the deliberate confusion evoked by the Soviets, Hitler’s actions have shown historians that he died a hypocrite and a coward. By challenging the criticisms of Trevor-Roper’s investigations, assessing the opinions of Intelligence officers on rumours of Hitler’s survival and providing a plausible explanation for the 2009 DNA results, this dissertation hopes to have undermined conspiracy theories which have dominated the historiography since 2009. That they were able to do this demonstrates that some topics which may appear to be the narrow field of amateur historians are too important for academic historians to ignore. Indeed, despite the 2009 DNA results, there is still an overwhelming amount of evidence to suggest Hitler died in Berlin. Trevor-Roper concluded without analysing any corpse that Hitler had committed suicide, and his conclusions are still convincing today. One Foreign Office official wrote in October 1945 "I think the onus is now not on His Majesty’s Government to prove that Hitler is dead but on Hitler to prove that he is alive". 4 The onus has been on Hitler for seventy years. It is certain beyond all reasonable speculation that he committed suicide on 30 April 1945.
"Is Hitler dead? More than seven years have now passed without any trace of his survival, despite the most lurid and exciting rumours. lt may well be doubted whether a man in his exhausted state of health would in fact have lived long if he had escaped from the Bunker.
"True, the evidence is only circumstantial - the accounts, most carefully investigated by H. R. Trevor-Roper, of those who took part in the final scene at the Bunker; Hitler's statement of intention in his will; and so on.
"But the simplest explanation may still be the correct one. It is not known how thorough a search was made by the Russians, and it is perfectly possible that the remains of Hitler and his wife became mixed up with those of the other bodies which were found there, especially as the garden remained under continuous bombardment until the Russians captured the Chancellery on 2 May. This remains hypothesis, but when it is added to the psychological probability—which all the evidence confirms —that this was the end Hitler would choose, and the state of his health at the time, it is a fairly convincing argument.
"In any case, seven years is a long time. If Hitler has not so far appeared to take advantage of the confusion and divisions which he left as his legacy to Europe, it is a reasonable assumption that he is in fact dead. Whether a Hitler legend may not yet appear to prove more troublesome than ever Hitler alive would be, is another question, to which the answer of the future is still concealed"..
-- In 1992, "The New York Times" wrote: "First published in 1952, Alan Bullock's "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny" remains the standard biography of the dictator and a widely respected work on the Nazi movement in general". In 1998, Hitler expert Ian Kershaw described the book as a "masterpiece". In his 2007 book "Cultural Amnesia", critic Clive James wrote: "Books about Hitler are without number, but after more than 60 years, the first one to read is still Alan Bullock's Hitler A Study in Tyranny".
1 Jeffery, MI6, p. xv.
2 Evans in Andrew, MI5, p. xvii.
3 Dunstan and Williams, Wolf, p. XXI. See also Sisman, Trevor-Roper, p. 504.
4 TNA, FO 371/46749, C7164 [15/10/1945].
The National Archives, Kew: Cabinet Records: CAB 79/33 CAB 146/438 Foreign Office Records: FO 371/46748 FO 371/46749 FO 371/103736 FO 938/196 GCHQ Signal Intelligence Passed to the Prime Minister: HW 1/3760 HW 5/767 Security Service [MI5] Records: KV 4/354 War Office Records: WO 204/2349 WO 208/3781 WO 208/3787 WO 208/3788 WO 208/3789 WO 208/3790 WO 208/3791 WO 208/4475 WO 311/39 53
Ainsztein, Reuben. 'How Hitler Died: The Soviet Version', International Affairs, Vol. 43, No. 2 , pp. 307-318.
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There is no clear and conclusive evidence that Hitler died in the Führerbunker in Berlin. Actually, there is no viable evidence at all. Hitler scholars base their propositions on cherry picking out of a hopeless mess of mixed evidence. Further, they point a finger at their academic adversaries and argue that is their no clear evidence for a get-away of Hitler, and that therefore Hitler must have died in the Führerbunker.
Much has been written about this topic. Anton Joachimsthaler, "Hitlers Ende" [2nd edition Munich 2004] is the best for the paper trail.
One of the reasons why the assessment is so difficult is that Hitler had at least six, possibly more than ten look-alike body doubles, similar to many leading politicians today. Hitler’s alleged remains were severely burnt by petrol fires in a cremation attempt. The charred remains consisted of calcified bones and an alleged set of [removable] false teeth, never shown to the public. The cremated remains were found by the Soviets of the Stalin era – not exactly the most trustworthy of witnesses. Stalin was of the opinion that Hitler escaped alive from the Führerbunker. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is on record as concurring with Stalin’s opinion. These were worldly-wise leaders. The historical narrative that Hitler committed suicide is chiefly based on so-called testimony [vis-a-vis Soviet interrogators] of some of Hitler’s closest aides. They would have had an overpowering interest to let the Soviets believe that Hitler was dead, not that he got away. This is exactly what the Soviet interrogators wanted to hear. Unfortunately, witness testimony is the weakest method of proof.
No such thing as Hitler’s dead body was ever found, nor was such a thing ever presented to the witnesses, to Allied officers or to the public. The Soviets in several instances announced that they would present Hitler’s dead body, but it never actually happened. Apart from a single useless photo of a dark and confused jumble in a box, no photograph of Hitler’s dead body exists. For all we know there was no dead body of Hitler in Berlin at the time the Soviets took over. The bureaucratically diligent Soviets wrote an autopsy report, coming to the written conclusion that Hitler most likely committed suicide in the Führerbunker and that certain parts of some human body found near that location did in fact belong to Hitler. The Soviet autopsy report was not even believed by Stalin the Soviet leader. It was a convention of scared underlings to lie to the Soviet leader, to cook numbers and statistics in an outright bizarre proportion, etc. In hindsight, such myth-making was an almost humorous but definitely characteristic trait of the Soviet empire. Even at face value the credibility of such an autopsy report is practically nil, or in a bit more frank diction: it is a joke and one of the mainstays of conventional Hitler biography.
In the first part of the 1990s, a team of leading French forensic medical doctors analyzed the Soviet autopsy report. They found that the Soviet medico-legal commission had used "subterfuge" [French spelling]. Their results were published in two medical journals:
E. Laurier V. Hedouin, D. Gosset, P.H. Muller; 'Le rapport d’autopsie d’Hitler : le point de vue du médecin légiste' [Hitler’s Autopsy Report: a Forensic Point of View], "La Semaine des hôpitaux de Paris", 69 , 1993, pp. 294-300 and 'Etude critique médico-légale du rapport d’autopsie d’Hitler' [Critical Forensic Analysis of the Autopsy Report on Hitler], "Journal de Médecine Légale Droit", 37  1994, pp. 65-67 A news report replete on the Internet about the work of the French forensic medical experts states the following summary of the detailed analysis:
"The 18 March 1994 issue of The Plain dealer [Cleveland, Ohio] carried an AP story titled 'Doctors Find Burnt Body Could Not Be Hitler's'. Excerpts include: "...French forensic experts say the charred corpse said to be Hitler’s is not his body... experts FALSIFIED verification reports ordered by Josef Stalin to APPEASE the Soviet dictator... the body is actually that of an unknown German male. (The forensic experts} spent more than two years analyzing the autopsy reports prepared by Soviet coroners in the days following (the) surrender of the Third Reich in 1945... the body (said to be Hitler’s) had an extra tooth and only one testicle... no German doctor who had examined Hitler before his death ever mentioned either anomaly".
The forensic autopsy report of 8 May 1945 indicates that "probably Hitler’s corpse" was found. That is a cautious diction, not completely assertive, for a coroner’s report, certainly insufficient for a conviction in a trial. Shortly after this report was released, other Soviet officials disclaimed it. Then, a next version to be leaked was that dental evidence identified the remains as being Hitler’s. Then, however, again a short time later, this was disclaimed. [Joachim C. Fest, "Hitler" [1973, p. 1024].
Berlin, 30 April 1945, shortly before 3:40 p.m.
Most of the survivors of the Führerbunker report: At this day and time a single shot rang. According to celebrated Hitler biographer Joachim Fest [pp. 1022], one single surviving eyewitness, the SS officer Johann [a/k/a Hans] Rattenhuber, testified to the Soviets that he saw Hitler sitting dead on a sofa, his face smeared with blood. Hitler’s dead wife next to the male corpse on the sofa had an unused revolver in her lap; she died of cyanide poisoning. The Soviet investigators assumed that Hitler poisoned himself with cyanide. Around 11 p.m. the body in question was nearly completely burnt and charred [J. Fest, "Hitler", pp. 1022 f.]
Fest’s alleged single surviving eyewitness for seeing Hitler dead on a sofa prior to his immolation by petrol fire was the RSD Commander [Reichssicherheitsdienst, i.e. Hitler’s police bodyguard] Rattenhuber, chief of some 200 police bodyguards who wore gray SS uniforms.
Spontaneous reaction would be: This man would tell you anything to save his dearly beloved Führer. Also, if the face of the dead male body on the sofa was smeared with blood, how well would Rattenhuber have been able to distinguish if this was Hitler or merely one of Hitler’s body doubles?
Here follows another, newer and essentially different version of the Rattenhuber testimony, an example for the eerily shifting course of key details of Hitler history writing as the years grind by:
On 30 April, Rattenhuber was one of the group to whom Hitler announced that he intended to kill himself rather than be captured by the Soviet forces who were occupying. He later testified: "‘About 10 o’clock at night [on 29 April] Hitler summoned me to his room... Hitler said: 'You have served me faithfully for many years. Tomorrow is your birthday and I want to congratulate you and thank you for your faithful service, because I shall not be able to do so tomorrow. I have taken the decision... I must leave this world'. I went over to Hitler and told him how necessary his survival was for Germany, that there was still a chance to try and escape from Berlin and save his life. 'What for?' Hitler argued. 'Everything is ruined, and to flee means falling into the hands of the Russians'.
Rattenhuber, however, was not present when Hitler killed himself on the afternoon of 30 April in the Führerbunker. He did not see Hitler's body until after it was wrapped in grey blankets and carried out of the office/sitting room where Hitler died. He was not one of those who took the body up the stairs and outside, but he was told of this immediately afterwards by Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet. Rattenhuber followed Heinz Linge, Otto Günsche, Peter Högl, Ewald Lindloff and several others outside and watched Hitler's body be burned.
On 1 May, Rattenhuber led one of the three groups escaping from the Bunker, the other two being led by SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke and Werner Naumann. Most, including Rattenhuber, were captured by the Soviets on the same day. Rattenhuber was taken to Moscow, where on 20 May he gave a long and detailed description of the last days of Hitler and the Nazi leadership in the Bunker.
The text of this was kept in the Soviet archives until it was published by V.K. Vinogradov in the Russian edition of "Hitler’s Death: Russia’s Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB" in 2000".
Note the key discrepancy between this description and the description summarized earlier according to Joachim Fest from his 1973 Hitler biography. Fest 1973 still has Rattenhuber as the eyewitness, but after Vinogradov's version Rattenhuber has been demoted to a mere hearsay witness. Also note that there were escapees from the Führerbunker on 1 May 1945, and only "most” but not "all" of them were captured. Ron Rosenbaum, "Explaining Hitler, The Search for the Origins of His Evil" [New York 1998] is one of the very few Hitler biographers who dare to acknowledge that the Soviet autopsy of Hitler is bogus. Rosenbaum informs his readers that the Soviet autopsy is a fabrication since it is not in accordance with the information from Hitler’s doctor. Hitler had been wounded in the First World War; and there was an alleged statement by his WWI company commander that Hitler lost one testicle in the attack. There is no evidence that Hitler missed a [left] testicle [See the ten-year medical analysis by Fritz Redlich, "Hitler, Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet" [Oxford etc. 1998 (first 1993), especially p. 219].
There are several films, allegedly the most authentic a 2004 German film entitled "Der Untergang" [Downfall, 2005] based on the 2002 book "Der Untergang” by Joachim Fest. A survivor, Hitler’s driver and bodyguard Rochus Misch, in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung", 29 April 2005, complained that the book/movie portray him with false statements that he never made, that he was not interviewed for the book/movie, and that other details of the presentation are fabrications. Fest concludes that at the end, it was not Hitler’s intention to win the war but Hitler wanted the downfall. Reviewers were startled by this bold conclusion expressed in Fest’s last book [for example, reviewer Thomas Meissen the "Neue Züricher Zeitung", 6 November 2002); and Fest defended his striking opinion in a German TV interview [with Werner Witt, SWR 2, 19 June 2005]. Joachim Fest died weeks before his 80th birthday in 2006, leaving us his startling final conclusions as his legacy.
The latest output by the "Hitler died" camp is a short medical forensic opinion by Professor Klaus Püschel in Hamburg 'Wie starb Adolf Hitler?' [Hitler’s Demise], in: 'Rechtsmedizin', June 2008, Nr. 3, p. 202-204.Püschel’s research level is lower than that of an entry-level student. He diffidently rubber-stamps the Soviet autopsy report as if there were no research by others. Given today’s knowledge, such an argument borders on the perception of an ostrich. Why do practically all leading Hitler biographers deceive us about this? Must we be cheated out of the truth? The truth is that there is no conclusive evidence that Hitler committed suicide. In contrast to the truth, practically all leading Hitler biographers take it as a matter of routine knowledge that Hitler committed suicide. In any case, a historian lacks any and all forensic medical expertise even to take part meaningfully in this medical forensic discussion. This is a key example of how sleight of hand is fraudulently handed down as authentic history – of how writers of history puff themselves up to the stature of knowing more than they possibly can know, and of knowing things with a greater degree of certainty than reality permits.
Did Hitler Die In The Bunker? by Eric Frattini
Between the truth, the legend and the fiction
28 September 2015
When I began preparing the documentation to write the novel "El Oro de Mefisto" in 2009 I found the first documents that spoke of an alleged flight of Adolf Hitler from the Bunker of the Chancellery in the last days of World War II.
The simple official papers spoke of a legend I had heard countless times and the only thing I thought was to include Hitler's flight from the Bunker as a secondary story in my novel, and in the context of fiction. Documents signed by such persons as J. Edgar Hoover -FBI Director between 1935 and 1972 - Dwight D. Eisenhower -military governor of the American Allied Occupation Zone in Germany between May and November 1945- and Marshal Georgi Zhukov himself -Conqueror of Berlin- claimed that Hitler could have escaped from the Soviet siege to the capital of the Third Reich in April 1945. While creating the plot of fiction around Hitler's flight I found real documents with real characters such as Hanna Reitsch, Peter Erich Baumgart, Martin Bormann, Heinz Schäffer, Otto Wermuth, Michael Musmanno, Gustav Weler, actors who were forming a plot whose reality undoubtedly surpassed the fiction I was creating.
Most people are widely familiar with Adolf Hitler's "Last Days" official history, which was screened through the German production "Der Untergang" [Downfal]l directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and based on the book of the same title written by the great German historian Joachim Fest. What people did not know was that "official history" could have become a political fiction and that the result had been a deliberately planned history by the victorious powers. Here the words of Winston Churchill that "history is written by the victors" had never been more real than in the death of Hitler.
As the war drew to a close, Prime Minister Churchill and the British government had to make sure that history was never going to happen again, that there would be no resurgence of German National Socialism by dictating the end of the Third Reich's history. The story was to be so little edifying as to permanently tarnish the prestige of the regime in the eyes of even its most ardent supporters. Neither British nor Americans really showed any interest in Hitler's true destiny. Its only interest was to assign to the leader of the Nazi movement the most ignoble exit of the historical stage. In this sense, the image of Hitler's charred corpse in the crater of a bomb in the Chancellery's garden as if it were "scattered garbage," as Michael Musmanno, a judge at the Nuremberg Trials, said, worked perfectly as a metaphor with the slogan "The passage of the regime of Adolf Hitler to the "dustbin of history". But if something I have learned in my years as a file mouse searching and searching some official document, is that everything -absolutely everything= is written and that writing will one day be found. The writer Umberto Eco, in his magnificent book "Confessions of a Young Novelist" , speaks of the supposed flight of Hitler from a very interesting point of view. Eco says: "So, let me use the expression 'encyclopedic truths' for all elements of common knowledge that emerge in an encyclopedia [such as the distance from Earth to the Sun or the fact that Hitler died in the Bunker]. I give certain information because I trust the scientific community, and accept a kind of 'division of cultural work' by which I delegate to specialized people the task of demonstrating them".
But encyclopedic statements also have limits. They are subject to revision, for by definition science is always ready to reconsider its own discoveries. If we keep our minds open, we must be willing to review our views on Hitler's death as soon as new documents are discovered. In fact, the fact that Hitler died in a Bunker has already been called into question by some historians. It is conceivable that Hitler survived the fall of Berlin into the hands of the Allies and escaped to Argentina, that no corpse was burned in the Bunker or that the cremated body was of another, or that Hitler's suicide was invented for propaganda purposes by the Russians who came to the Bunker. Any statement concerning encyclopaedic truths can, and often must, be checked in terms of external empirical legitimacy [according to this, we would say "give me evidence that Hitler actually died in the Bunker"}. Following Eco's theory, I set to work not so much in order to "prove" that Hitler fled the siege of Berlin and of "calling into question" the theory of his suicide. In my search for those documents referred to by the author of "The Name of the Rose", I collided with more than 3,000 pages of the FBI, CIA, NSA, CIC [Military Counterintelligence Corps], MI6, OSS [Office of Strategic Services] , Department of Justice, War Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US embassies in Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Bogotá and Rio de Janeiro, United Nations Organization, KGB and CEANA [Commission for Clarification of Activities of Nazis in Argentina]. In them they spoke of "Hitler's flight", "Hitler hidden in Argentina", "Rumors that Hitler could be in Argentina", "Hitler seen in Bogota and Brazil", "Report of Hitler and Eva Braun in Argentina" "Hitler is alive," "Adolf Hitler's whereabouts," "Hitler would be in Spain, not Argentina," "Hitler escaped us," and countless more definitions covering ten years of investigations, from 21 September 1945 [supposedly five months after the suicide in the Bunker) until 17 October 1955.
Even the United Nations in a document dated 3 May 1948, entitled 'Is Adolf Hitler dead?' states that "it is the wish of all United Nations investigators to answer this question. Because they have not been able to make clear the disappearance of the German dictator. The truth is that the fascination of National Socialism and the figure of its Führer, is above all the most brutal extermination policy and the most inhuman machinery created for the most horrendous cruelty. If today you ask the people for sure most of them will respond that the reign of the Third Reich was the darkest time in history, ahead of even the Middle Ages or the Inquisition".
"If someone comes to me with reproaches and asks me why I have not resorted to the competent courts of law to judge the guilty, I can only say that at that time I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and for that I was the Supreme Judge of the German people", Hitler himself would say in a speech before the Reichstag.
Today, seven decades after the "Reich of the Thousand Years" was reduced to ashes, the world is still wondering how Germany, a civilized nation made up of civilized people, could accept without any resistance the guilt admitted by a Führer with lots of blood on his hands. How could a nation that had been the cradle of illustrious men like von Humboldt, Beethoven, Mozart, Göthe, Einstein, Mendelsohn, Schumann, Schiller, Planck or Fichte allow barbarism and extermination. Hitler controlled the Reichstag, the Armed Forces, imposed on the media what had to be said and how it should be said, had Germany in a fist, a country of eighty million people, without majority reprimand. Murders were committed by a regime that many of them supported at the polls. The historical admission that a single German together with his small clique could order the deaths of millions of people without making use of the law and without provoking the slightest reaction among the German people, is equivalent for many to a moral accusation against the whole of the German people. Michael Musmanno wrote: "From Bremerhaven to Breslau, from the Saar to East Prussia, I have heard the words: 'They lied to us', 'We were deceived'. These lamentations were not unjustified, the reality was there, but the fraud could have been prevented. Any mayor or councilor, any university professor or head of district, and of course any officer of the Army or Navy, were all responsible to their nation and their people for their failure to do their duty". Germany had been subjugated by an Adolf Hitler who excited the people by claiming that two million Germans killed in World War I could not have done it in vain. "Germany had not lost the war. He had been deceived", Hitler told a gathering of the Nazi Party in Nuremberg.
To answer the question of what place Hitler would occupy in history, one does not have to go to too many encyclopedias to find the answer he gave in 1941 in a letter to Duce Benito Mussolini. "Above all, Duce, it seems to me that the development of mankind was interrupted fifteen hundred years ago, and it is now that he is about to resume his previous path," wrote Hitler. The Nazi leader referred to the year 441 when Attila, at the command of his hordes, was at the height of his power as a conqueror of weaker nations, a treasure trooper, a thief of private property, and a devastator of Europe. Attila was Hitler's idol. Today the Nazi leader is compared to Attila himself, Caligula, Gengis Khan, Kim Il-Sung, Josef Stalin, or Pol Pot; all are bloodthirsty criminals on whose backs are the systematic murder of millions of human beings. The truth is that the suicide story of Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, in the Chancellery's Bunker was never considered as a historical truth and now, seventy years later, not even as a documented truth.
On 1 May 1945, a day after the alleged suicide of Hitler, the world could only hear this obituary on German radio: "It is reported from the Führer Headquarters that Adolf Hitler has fallen this afternoon at his command post. The Chancellery of the Reich, fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism and Germany". These were indeed the only words, not confirmed by solid evidence, which gave rise to the rumors and speculations that were spreading exponentially. Different versions appeared on the death of Hitler. In the first instance there was talk of a Führer dying heroically in the fighting in the streets of Berlin and that his body was hidden by his fanatical followers. Another version is that Hitler was killed by his own officers in Berlin. But the most popular story is that Hitler managed to escape Berlin besieged and managed to hide in Paraguay or Argentina, where he lived with his wife Eva Braun until his death in 1962, at the age of 73. If he managed to flee by plane or in a submarine has been, and continues to be, a reason for wide debate. For example, on 26 May 1945, Stalin met with Harry Hopkins, special envoy of President Harry S. Truman, and tells him that "Martin Bormann, Josef Göbbels, Hitler and probably Hans Krebs have escaped and are now hiding". This same version is defended and repeated by the Soviet leader in the following meetings that he has with Truman and Churchill. Two weeks later exactly, on 9 June, it is Marshal Zhukov who repeats Stalin's version of the doubts in Hitler's death. Between 16 July and 2 August 1945, then-Secretary of State James Byrnes, held a chance encounter with Salin during the Potsdam Conference. The American asks the Soviet leader about his opinion regarding the possible flight of Hitler. Stalin responds "I think that Hitler is alive and is very likely to be in Spain or in Argentina". If on 4 May 1945 the Soviet troops allegedly found the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun in the Chancellery's garden, why was Stalin so skeptical?
By the end of 1948, all the material collected by the SMERSH unit, the counter-Intelligence department of the 3rd Soviet Assault Army, whose men were the first to enter the Bunker, was sent from Germany to Moscow, to the 2nd General Department of the Ministry of Security of the State of the Soviet Union, which was in charge of investigating all the facts and events that surrounded the death of the main Nazi leaders. Documents, dentures of the Göbbels, and the most important parts of the jaw and teeth used for the identification of the bodies of Hitler, Eva Braun and others, were filed under the classification of Top Secret. In 1954, Ivan A. Serov, president of the KGB, transferred to the Council of Ministers of the USSR all the materials filed in a special room of the KGB general archive. In 1996, Nikolai D. Kovalyov, director of the Federal Security Service [FSB], gave the order to open to the public documents relating to covert KGB operations, including Operation under the Filename code. The document explained how, in 1970, the then-all-powerful KGB president, Yuri Andropov, ordered the remains of Hitler, Eva Braun and others to be completely destroyed. A special unit of the KGB took out the supposed remains of the Nazi leader who had been buried in an NKVD barracks in Magdeburg [East Germany] in February 1946, burned them and threw the ashes into the waters of the Elbe river, near the city of Biederitz, also in East Germany. But were these the real remains of Hitler and his wife? There is no forensic or documentary evidence that Hitler and Eva Braun died in the Bunker on the last day of April 1945.
The famous fragment of Hitler's skull that were stored by the KGB in Moscow turned out to be those of a woman in her early 40s after a DNA test by a US university. There was not even the possibility that they were the remains of Eva Braun, whose corpse was allegedly cremated alongside Hitler's in the moat of the Chancellery's garden, since the wife of the Führer had died at only 33 years old. Even now it has been shown that Hitler's famous last photograph taken on 20 March 1945, in which he is accompanied by Arthur Axmann, leader of the Hitler Youth and where he surveys a ragged line of young fighters, is not he actually . The old gentleman who touches the cheek of young Wilhelm Hubner was a double, one of the many used by Hitler. The image was analyzed by Alf Linney, a professor at University College London, one of the world's leading facial recognition experts and creator of the best recognition programs currently used by the British and US security forces. The result of his report was that the Hitler, who appeared with his cap plastered and stuffed into a thick coat that Tuesday, 20 March 1945, in the Chancellery's garden, was not really the Führer. Could the memorandum dated 4 September 1944 and addressed to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, entitled "Possible Flight of Adolf Hitler to Argentina" then be true?
The document was drafted and sent to the headquarters of the FBI in Washington by General David W. Ladd, military attaché at the US embassy in Buenos Aires. It is a clear analysis of what could have happened in the months following the fall of the Third Reich. In paragraphs 1, 4 and 5 of the document, Ladd states: "Many political observers have expressed the opinion that Adolf Hitler could seek refuge in Argentina after the German collapse. [...] A large healthy German colony in Argentina provides great possibilities to provide a refuge for Hitler and his followers. One of its members, Count Luxburg, has been mentioned as the owner of a ranch that would serve as a refuge. [...]".
By the nature of some plans formulated for the abandonment of Germany after its collapse, it is virtually impossible to substantiate some allegations referring to the Nazis in Argentina after the defeat. However, some importance can be given to the fact that Argentina was silent despite all the accusations that it would serve as the final destination for Hitler after a non-stop flight of 7,376 miles from Berlin in a specially built or passenger aircraft or on a long submarine voyage. Most curious of all is that this document was written almost seven months before the alleged suicide of Hitler in the Bunker of the Chancery. Is it that the Americans were already alerted about Hitler's possible plans once the war ended and did not report it to their Allies? Between 16 July and 31 October 1944, several American media echo the same news. On 16 July 1944, it is the "St. Petersburg Times", titled, 'Can Hitler Escape?': Senior government officials have predicted last night that as the terror that now grips Germany begins to lighten, Adolf Hitler will try to escape from his "Holy Nazi Land". But where, they ask themselves, can Hitler go? To which country could he go? In the complete text of the article different declarations of congressmen and senators are collected recommending what must be done with Hitler after the end of the war. On 18 September, the "United Press" from its London office cites Finnish officials who had visited Berlin and who had had contact with senior officers of the German General Staff: [...] Adolf Hitler has prepared a capable submarine to reach Japan, "if and when Germany collapses." [...] The submarine, equipped as a passenger ship, would be in Gdynia, on the Baltic coast.
On 28 September 1944, "The Free Lance Star" newspaper titled 'It is sought to prevent the evasion of Hitler'. The article highlights the clear warning of Secretary of State Cordell Hull to neutral nations stating that they will lose American friendship if they give sanctuary to Hitler or other leaders of the Axis after the war. The US warnings are directed mainly at Sweden, Turkey, Switzerland and Spain, "although all of them have given assurances that they will not allow Axis nationals to fly within their borders or that they are fully aware of the problems that such action might cause". Again, on 2 October 1944, the story of Hitler's possible evasion in a submarine stationed in Gdynia, north of the port of Gdansk, is again made public. The "Ellensburg Daily Record" publishes an article on 2 October 1944 entitled 'Can Hitler Escape?' Apparently, the rumor of the submarine in which the Fiihrer was alleged to have fled would have originated from a source in Sweden: The 1,200-tonne submarine could perhaps sail 20,000 miles without refueling. [...] Vast gold stores are being prepared to board. It is believed that it would stop in Argentina and other points in the route towards the final destination that, according to reports, there is no doubt that it would be Japan. The ship would have been built in the shipyards of Gydnia. [...] The commander would be the hero of the German submarines, Lieutenant Lüuth, the only sailor to have the Iron Cross Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds. The article refers to Wolfgang Lüth, one of the most decorated commander of the U-Boot fleet of the war. In March 1943, the U-181 under the commandl of Lüth left the port of Bordeaux in order to patrol in North Africa and in the Indian Ocean. In spite of difficulties the U-181, after 205 days of patrol, managed to sink to a dozen ships [45,331 tons in total] and its commander became the first member of the Kriegsmarine to receive the highest decoration of the German army. Mysteriously in early 1944, he was removed from active duty and sent as an instructor to the Navy school, or Marineschule, in Flensburg-Mürwik, the place where the future officers of the Kriegsmarine were prepared.
On 31 October 1944, the "St. Petersburg Times" newspaper echoes briefly Commander Werner Bender's remarks about the possibility that Hitler might escape on a submarine. Bender told a small audience at the Nazi Naval Academy in Denmark that "the German Navy will organize for Adolf Hitler his submarine flight when the final defeat arrives". If one day it were really necessary that our Führer leave Germany it would be with the German Navy that knows the world's oceans and has U-Boot bases and hiding places in the most remote seas. Apparently the statement of Bender was actually made in late 1943 and collected by the press a year later. Captain Werner Bender was to die on 4 October 1943 when his U-841 submarine was sunk off Cape Farewell, south of Greenland, after a deep-sea attack launched by the British frigate 'HMS Byard'. it would be terrible reality that the man who caused the death of millions of human beings could have escaped justice with his wife Eva Braun and spent his last days in quiet Argentina with his deputy, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann and the head of The Gestapo Heinrich Müller, known as "Gestapo Müller". Based on documentary evidence that would demonstrate that both the US with its Paperclip Operation and Britain with Operation Epsilon facilitated the flight of war criminals to both countries, it would not be foolish to say that any Allied Intelligence service would have preferred to close its eyes and ears before the "known" escape of Hitler.
The acclaimed historian and former member of British Intelligence Hugh Trevor-Roper in 1947 wrote a book based on his report entitled "The Last Days of Hitler", insisting that Hitler committed suicide in the Bunker on 30 April 1945 and based on this story the Allied powers accepted the debate without asking questions and in this way spread it to the public. For the victorious Western powers in the war, what George Orwell wrote in his 1984 work, "Whoever controls the past controls the future" must be fulfilled. The historian -the same who certified with Eberhard Jäckel and Gerhard Weinberg, Hitler's famous false diaries as authentic in 1983- based his data on the last moments of the Führer's life on an interview with the Aviator Hanna Reitsch, Hitler's favorite pilot. In 1958, Reitsch herself declared that she did not know anything about Trevor-Roper, let alone talk to him about what happened inside the Bunker during the siege and fall of Berlin. Trevor-Roper also had no access to the Germans, civilians or soldiers, who remained in the Chancellery Bunker until the last moment. Some had committed suicide, others had disappeared among the millions of refugees moving aimlessly across Europe, others had been captured by the Soviets and transferred to the Soviet Union and others simply died a few days after the end of the war. Hugh Trevor-Roper was only able to access the transcripts of the interrogations carried out by US counter-Intelligence of officials of the Chancellery, members of the SS, and a circle close to the Führer who were
in the Bunker. The only witness to whom he had direct access was Erich Kempka, Hitler's driver, and he was not even inside the Bunker at the time of the alleged suicide of Hitler and Eva Braun. The British historian could not see any image of Hitler and Eva Braun dead simply because there was none, nor could he study the scene because when Trevor-Roper was able to enter the Bunker, it was completely flooded. Nor could he read any reports of the place of burial or cremation, nor any medical reports because they were not performed, much less autopsies. The wills, both personal and political, appeared in the month of December 1945, a month after Trevor-Roper made public the results of his investigation. Cremation site studies were conducted by the Soviets and, of course, did not give Trevor-Roper access to them.
"The Bunker" [German: Die Katakombe], also published as The Berlin Bunker, is an account, written by American journalist James P. O'Donnell and German journalist Uwe Bahnsen, of the history of the Führerbunker in early 1945, as well as the last days of German dictator Adolf Hitler. Its English edition was first published in 1978. However, unlike other accounts, O'Donnell spent considerable time on other, less-famous residents of the Bunker complex. Additionally, unlike the more academic works by historians, the book takes a journalistic approach. The book was later used as the basis for a 1981 CBS television film with the same name.
During World War II, O'Donnell worked in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. On 1 July 1945, he was mustered out and immediately took a position as German bureau chief for Newsweek magazine. On 4 July, he arrived in Berlin with instructions to get details on Hitler's last days, as well as information on Eva Braun.
Soon after arriving, he traveled to the Bunker complex, which was mainly overlooked by troops [who were more interested in the Reich Chancellory]. He found it guarded by two Red Army soldiers, and for the price of two packs of cigarettes, he gained access to it. He found the Bunker complex a flooded, cluttered, stinking mess.
Ironically [and essential, given his later work], the Bunker had not, even at this late point, been systematically investigated by the Russians. Lying around for anyone to pick up were such historic items as Hitler's appointment book, Martin Bormann's personal diary, the battle log for Berlin, and segments of Josef Göbbels' diary. Right in front of O'Donnell, a British colonel took as a "war souvenir" a blueprint for a reconstruction of Hitler's hometown Linz, in Austria. This historic document (brooded over by Hitler during his last days) ended up over the colonel's fireplace in Kent.
As the new bureau chief, O'Donnell wrote about developments, such as the Russian discovery and identification [after several mistakes] of Hitler's body in mid-May of the same year. In August, he came upon a strange sight - the Russians were apparently making a documentary reconstructing Hitler's final days.
Although theBbunker complex fell within the Soviet Union controlled sector of Berlin, and many of the survivors were captured by the Soviets, it was the Western powers who revealed the first accurate account of Hitler's death. The British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, on 1 November, held a press conference [covered by O'Donnell] where he revealed the generally accepted theory of Hitler's death. While O'Donnell agreed with Trevor-Roper's account save for some minor details [and, in "The Bunker", continues to agree with it], he was unsatisfied with this account. Some reasons he gave were:
-- Trevor-Roper only had access to two witnesses - Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffeur, and Else Krüger, Bormann's secretary. When he wrote "The Last Days of Hitler" the following year, he only had access to two more witnesses - Hitler secretary Gerda Christian and Hitler Youth leader Artur Axmann.
-- The vast majority of the major witnesses were captured by the Soviets and, without being charged with any crimes, spent the next ten years in Russian captivity. Because the Soviets kept denying that Hitler was really dead, they refused to release their interrogation notes to the other Allies.
-- Accounts of the Bunker centered on major figures, such as Hitler and Göbbels, while paying scant attention to more minor figures. Usually, such accounts stopped after the death of Hitler [or, in some cases, Göbbels]. Except for people looking for Bormann [who, for many years, was thought to have survived], nobody bothered writing an account of the "Bunker breakout" after Göbbels' death.
In 1969, O'Donnell met Albert Speer, who had just published his memoirs [he wrote an article on Speer for "Life", published in 1970]. At this point, O'Donnell realized that many of the aforementioned witnesses had long since been released by the Soviets. He began to track them down.
Over the next six years, O'Donnell narrowed his list of witnesses to about 50, and embarked on a project to collate their stories. He usually had these witnesses read his work to verify its authenticity. The book was the result.
While O'Donnell had 50 witnesses, some saw more than others. Below is a rough list of his main sources. He singled out these sources by eliminating individuals who never saw Hitler after 22 April 1945.
-- Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments
-- Gerda Christian, one of Hitler's secretaries
-- Traudl Junge, another of Hitler's secretaries
-- Else Krüger, Bormann's secretary
-- Erich Kempka, chauffeur
The following observers were captured by the Soviets and held for a decade, and were thus unavailable for many of the initial accounts of Hitler's death.
-- Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, physician and operator of a casualty station in the Reich Chancellery--
-- Hans Baur, Hitler's personal pilot
-- Johannes Hentschel, mechanic in charge of Bunker's electricity and water supply
-- Wilhelm Mohnke, Waffen SS general
-- Otto Günsche, Hitler's personal SS adjutant
-- Rochus Misch, the Führerbunker telephone/radio operator
While most people were cooperative, a few didn't speak to O'Donnell. Johanna Wolf, another Hitler secretary, declined to talk since she was a "private" secretary. Albert Bormann also refused to cooperate, in this case because of family connections [he was Martin Bormann's brother]. Other people who had been close to Hitler in the final days, most notably Ambassador Walther Hewel, committed suicide after the break-out. More witnesses died in Soviet captivity, such as Dr. Werner Haase, the last physician to attend Hitler, who had already been gravely ill with tuberculosis in April 1945.
O'Donnell based the book on interviews. When witnesses disagreed, he evaluated them based on the "reliability" of their other statements, the agreement/disagreement with other witnesses, and with his intuition. Many critics [especially those from academic backgrounds] have taken issue with this methodology. Anticipating this, O'Donnell wrote in the prologue:
"Just how close this composite account comes to historical truth, to the kind of documentation an academic historian insists on, I simply cannot say. Nor is it overly important to my purpose. I am a journalist, not a historian. I ring doorbells; I do not haunt archives. What I was looking for is what I believe many people look for, psychological truth".
O'Donnell asserted that his method -interviewing the witnesses- is superior to the methods used by academics, noting that much of the written documentation was burned or otherwise destroyed in the final days of the war. Also, written accounts do not allow the writer to "read" a person's expression. O'Donnell even noted that many of the people he interviewed, to make a point, would literally "act out" scenes, a touch not found in historical archives.
Furthermore, he disputed the reliability of the interrogations of witnesses in 1945, which are used as primary sources by most historians. He argued that these interrogations, because of the recent occurrence of the Bunker events, the end of the war, and worries over possible criminal charges, were about as accurate as "asking the shell-shocked to describe exactly the burst of artillery". Moreover, many witnesses admitted that they either lied or withheld information during their 1945 interviews, mainly due to pressure from their interrogators [this was especially true of those captured by the Soviets]. O'Donnell argued that the witnesses needed time to "digest" their experiences.
However, many critics dispute whether this method was the most reliable. The most cited example was O'Donnell's complete acceptance of Albert Speer's claim to have tried to assassinate Hitler. While many professional historians dispute this claim due to lack of evidence, O'Donnell wrote about it unquestioningly. It is arguable that, if one compares the accounts written in "The Bunker" with those in "Inside the Third Reich", that O'Donnell presents the supposed assassination attempt as more dramatic and purposeful. Admittedly, O'Donnell befriended Speer, and interviewed him 17 times for the book, more than any other witness.
O'Donnell also used hearsay evidence. He used Dr. Schenck for this on numerous occasions, first to discuss Hitler's health [since Hitler's personal SS physician, Haase, died in Russian captivity], and to discuss Hitler's final conversation with his friend Walther Hewel [who committed suicide right in front of Schenck].
O'Donnell states other theories of the Bunker events, some of which are criticized because of the above methodology. To name a few:
-- He held that the Soviets botched the investigation into Hitler's death. As he saw firsthand, the Soviets did not properly evaluate the "crime scene". Also, in his capacity as a Berlin journalist, he argued that either paranoia or a desire to embarrass the West led Josef Stalin to deny Hitler's death, and with it, to deny the 15 May 1945 autopsy of Hitler's corpse, which was verified by dental records. O'Donnell holds that whatever remains of Hitler still existed by this date were cremated and scattered, and that any parts of the corpse the Soviets claimed to have afterwards were fabricated to satisfy Stalin. According to contemporary historians, such as Ian Kershaw, the corpses of Braun and Hitler were thoroughly burned when the Red Army found them, and only a lower jaw with dental work could be identified as Hitler's remains
--He holds that Magda Göbbels was alone responsible for the deaths of her children, although someone must have given her the cyanide, and her husband was supportive of the act. He bases this on Madga's personal correspondence, as well as interviews with the survivors. Some historians do not believe Magda Göbbels was capable of those actions alone.
-- From his interviews, he concludes that Hitler did indeed die from shooting himself in the head while simultaneously biting into a cyanide capsule. For the ones who claim this type of suicide was near impossible, he sardonically pointed to Walther Hewel's suicide a few days later - he killed himself in the same way, after receiving the same instructions Dr. Haase gave Hitler.
-- He claims that nobody heard the shot that killed Hitler. Whenever he asked witnesses who were standing by the double doors to Hitler's study, which were thick enough to muzzle such a sound, they claimed they heard nothing. He put forth that ones who did make this claim in 1945 withdrew it, saying that Allied interrogators pressured them into saying it. He contends that some people who claim to have heard a shot were not even present at the scene.
O'Donnell's main contribution to Führerbunker literature was his account of the "breakout" that occurred on the night of 1–2 May 1945 - no other historian [or writer] attempted to describe this event before him. He devotes two chapters to it.
Over the years many researchers and even prestigious historians have questioned the research of Hugh Trevor-Roper. After his grave error in certifying as authentic the false Diaries of Hitler, his critics baptized to him with the nickname of Lord Faker, making a play on words with the title that granted to him in 1979, Baron Dacre of Glanton, since, in English, Dacre is pronounced like Faker. The satirical magazine "Private Eye" named him Hugh Very-Ropey. Concerning the Hitler Diariess, Trevor-Roper said only that "he had made a small mistake". Based on this, many wondered, could it not have made a "small mistake" in certifying the death of Hitler and Eva Braun in the Bunker that 30 April 1945? There are many descriptions of Hitler's final days, but they all revolve around the "official" version of Trevor-Roper. For example, the famous book written by James O'Donnell entitled "The Bunker", or the one of Joachim Fest titled "Der Untergang" [Downfall] describe minute by minute the life of Hitler as it was recounted by Trevor-Roper, but without presenting evidence that the "facts" they relate happened thus. Between July and August of 1945 famous persons like Stalin, Eisenhower and Zhukov put in question the death of Hitler in different public declarations.
Joachim Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic, and editor best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance to Nazism. He was a leading figure in the debate among German historians about the Nazi period.
In 1961, Fest was appointed editor-in-chief of television for the North German broadcasting service Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), where he was also responsible for the political magazine "Panorama". He resigned after a disagreement with left-wingers who eventually came to dominate the magazine.
Fest then embarked on his most important work, his biography of Adolf Hitler, which was published in 1973. This was the first major Hitler biography since that of Alan Bullock in 1952 and the first by a German writer. It appeared at a time when the younger generation of Germans was confronting the legacy of the Nazi period, and proved to be a great success in commercial terms, as well as being immensely influential. It sparked controversy among German historians, because Fest, politically a conservative, rejected the then-dominant left-wing view that the causes of Hitler's rise to power had been largely economic.
Fest explained Hitler’s success in terms of what he termed the "great fear" that had overcome the German middle classes, as a result not only of Bolshevism and First World War dislocation, but also more broadly in response to rapid modernisation, which had led to a romantic longing for a lost past. This led to resentment of other groups —especially Jews— seen as agents of modernity. It also made many Germans susceptible to a figure such as Hitler who could articulate their mood. "He was never only their leader, he was always their voice ... the people, as if electrified, recognised themselves in him".
In 1977, Fest directed a documentary entitled "Hitler, eine Karriere" [Hitler: A Career]. Fest's film, which was intended to explain why ordinary people in Germany loved Hitler, created some controversy among some critics such as the American historian Deborah Lipstadt who wrote that, by featuring extensive clips of Hitler from propaganda films while totally ignoring the Holocaust, Fest had engaged in a glorification of the Führer.
Fest served as the editorial aide for Albert Speer, Hitler's court architect and later Minister for Munitions, when Speer was working on his autobiography, "Inside the Third Reich". After Speer's death, amid controversy over the reliability of the memoirs, Fest wrote "Speer: The Final Verdict" , in which he criticized Speer for his knowing complicity in the crimes of the Nazi regime, something he successfully concealed at the time of the Nuremberg Trials. This echoed the verdict of Gitta Sereny in her major work "Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth" 
His other major work on German history was "Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler" , written to mark the 50th anniversary of the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. This work marked a partial reconsideration of his earlier harsh verdict on the German people. He acknowledged that many Germans had opposed the Nazi regime within the limits imposed on them by their circumstances. He maintained his view, however, that the majority of Germans had willfully refused to accept the truth about Nazism until it was too late.
In 2002, Fest published "Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich", a work based in part on available evidence following the opening of the Soviet archives, but which largely confirmed the account of Hitler's death given in Hugh Trevor-Roper's book "The Last Days of Hitler" . "Inside Hitler's Bunker", along with the memoirs of Hitler's personal secretary Traudl Junge, formed the source material for the 2004 German film "Der Untergang" [Downfall], the third post-war German feature film to depict Hitler directly.
Many people ask me why the Mossad did not take action in their search for Hitler or Martin Bormann as they did with Adolf Eichmann [kidnapped in May 1960] or Herberts Cukurs [murdered in February 1965] . In those years, Israel was facing serious territorial threats, that ended up in the Six-Day War and their Intelligence agents did not have time to look for Nazis in South America. The survival of the State was now its top priority. "Our enemies were now others," a former Mossad officer told me one day when I asked him about it. The German democratic government led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer also had little interest in investigating the Nazi hornet in South America, much less after the abduction and subsequent transfer to Israel of the Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. During his trial in Jerusalem, the head of the Final Solution in Europe quoted the name of Hans Globke, who at the time was Adenauer's own chief of staff. Globke was the official who in November 1932, two months before Hitler's accession to power, instituted a set of rules to make it more difficult for Prussian Germans of Jewish descent to change their surnames to less recognizable ones. He also helped formulate the 1933 law, which gave Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers throughout Germany. Adenauer's close friend and collaborator was co-author of the legal commentary on the Reich Citizenship Act, one of the laws of Nuremberg introduced by the Nazi Party in September of 1935, and that revoked the German citizenship of the Jews. In 1938 Globke was appointed deputy director of the Department of Jewish Affairs in the Ministry of the Interior because of his "extraordinary efforts in drafting the Law for the Protection of German Blood." On April 25, 1938, Konrad Adenauer's assistant was praised by the Reich's Interior Minister, Wilhelm Frick, hanged at Nuremberg in 1946, claiming that Globke "was the most capable and efficient officer in my ministry" at the time to compose anti-Semitic laws. The truth is that after the war Globke, like many other Nazis, went unnoticed and, in his case, it was because of the hatred that Martin Bormann felt for him. His application to join the National Socialist Party was rejected on 24 October 1940 by Bormann himself, because of Globke's former membership in the Catholic party Zentrum, hence his name did not appear in the party files seized by the Allied authorities. Not to mention the case of many Nazis who were allowed to join the so-called "Gehlen Organization", which would become the founding nucleus of the BND, the current German Intelligence service. With this scenario, there is no doubt that Adolf Hitler, Martin Bormann or Heinrich Müller may well have survived hidden and protected by the regime of Juan Domingo Perón in the distant Argentine paradise. "In 1945, in Argentina, anything was possible," said Aníbal Fernández, minister of justice between 2007 and 2009, regarding the possibility that Hitler and other Nazi leaders might have landed on the coast of his country.
This book is not intended to demonstrate that Hitler and his wife managed to flee from a Berlin surrounded by Soviet troops, as well as others have been able to demonstrate reliably that Hitler committed suicide inside the Bunker of the Chancellery on 30 April 1945, at 15:30. This book is only intended to present certain doubts to the reader and to force him to consider that the "encyclopedic truth" to which Umberto Eco referred is not always the "absolute truth" and in the case of Hitler's alleged suicide this absolute rule is not absolutely fulfilled.
"How can I direct the movements of the troops in the decisive battle around Berlin, if I am thinking of being safe? Fate will decide if I have to die in the capital or if I can find refuge at the last moment", Hitler told his then-Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer.
That night of 30 April 1945, would be the beginning of something and not the end of everything. The story about the last days of Adolf Hitler is well known for the version given by historians such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, Joachim Fest, Robert Payne, James O'Donnell, Alan Bullock, Sebastian Haffner, Anton Joachimsthaler, Michael Musmanno and Arnold Toynbee, among others. The curious thing is that none of them presents in their writings documentary or any other evidence that confirms the suicide of the Führer in the Bunker. All without exception continue their studies following the line marked by "The Last Days of Hitler" written by Hugh Trevor-Roper. Even Musmanno, who did interview several survivors of the Bunker for his book titled "Ten Days To Die", the authoritative and dramatic story of Hitler's mad finale where for the first time this sensational account is drawn from direct eye-witnesses, prefers to follow the guideline marked By Trevor-Roper. But curiously none of them questioned the British historian's version, not even in the erroneous data collected by Hugh Trevor-Roper in his report and in his later revisions on the last days of the Führer.
Trevor-Roper makes a serious misconception about the wedding of Hitler and Eva Braun. The ceremony officiated by Justice of the Peace Walter Wagner began on Sunday, 29 April, but when it was finished it was already 00:25 am on Monday, 30 April. Wagner did not notice the date on the certificate and Trevor-Roper also failed to notice the error during his investigation. There is also among the different historians controversy about the exact time Hitler committed suicide. Some of them, including Trevor-Roper, claim that it was about 3:15 am on 30 April. Michael Musmanno talks about "lunch break" and Robert Payne at 14:30. Rochus Misch, the last survivor of the Bunker, in his book "I was Hitler's Bodyguard", at 3:30 pm on the 30th. Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary and who remained inside the Bunker until the end, speaks in her bography titled "Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary", that she had lunch with the Führer at 14:30 of 30 April, so that it is unlikely that Hitler committed suicide that same day or time as Trevor-Roper states. Nor is the British historian right in Eva Braun's attire. He and Musmanno claim that he wore a black, dark dress on the day of his death; Günsche or Payne speak of a blue dress of small white dots, while Misch speaks of a navy blue dress with white appliques in the form of small flowers.
Let's not talk about the famous shot, which supposedly ended Hitler's life and no one heard. Neither Traudl Junge, nor Gerda Christian, nor Rochus Misch nor Erich Kempka, not even Heinz Linge, who was standing next to Otto Günsche, at the very door of Hitler's rooms in the Bunker, heard a shot. James O'Donnell published the book "The Bunker: The History of the Reich Chancellery Group", based on his interviews with fifty survivor witnesses from the Bunker between 1972 and 1976, wrote that Erich Kempka, Hitler's chauffeur, revealed to O'Donnell that he was not inside the Bunker and therefore could not hear the shot. When the writer reminded him that in 1945 he had said otherwise, the Führer's driver replied: "It is now 1974. In 1945, I said only what the interrogators wanted to hear". Nor do the witnesses agree on two important facts: the position of the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun after committing suicide or at the entrance of the shot in the skull of the Führer. With respect to the first point, Otto Günsche said in 1950 that they were sitting side by side on the sofa. In 1960 he gives another version when affirming that Hitler was in the chair, sitting, Braun lying in the chair. Heinz Linge claims that they were sitting on opposite sides of the sofa. Braun on the left. The chauffeur, Erich Kempka, says they were both on the couch - Hitler lying down, Braun seated. Trevor-Roper claims that Hitler and Eva Braun were lying side by side on the couch. They do not come to an agreement. With respect to the entrance of the shot in the head of Hitler, Günsche assured in 1950 that it entered by the right temple, but ten years later, the same Günsche declares that there is no data on the matter. Linge said the shot entered the left temple, while Kempka and Trevor-Roper defended sharply that the shot entered the mouth. Interestingly, Erich Kempka changed his version when he told the "United Press Agency" on 20 June 1945, that "the assistant, who is called Günsche, found Hitler with a bullet in the head and Eva with another in the heart. Both bodies were on a sofa. A Walther seven-millimeter pistol had been used for that purpose".
Even for two important data such as these, witnesses, researchers and historians disagree. Reading the books written by various historians and based on the films that have come to us in these last decades, we can affirm that there are many variants on Hitler's death: he ingested poison and shot himself with his pistol, swallowed venom but did not shoot himself, he fired but did not take the poison, someone shot Hitler, or one of his doubles was killed that 30 April, etc.
The truth is that this "official" story begins on Wednesday, 25 April 1945, in a Bunker located several meters underground of Citadel, the codename of the governmental zone of a Berlin besieged by the Soviet troops. Hitler was worried about his death. Curiously it was the same man who had ordered the mass murder of millions of people without caring about the system used, but he wanted something quick, effective and painless. Like Siegfried, a hero of Germanic mythology, he was to lie in a bed of fire and his beloved Brunhilda [Eva Braun] should lie beside him on the funeral pyre. Everybody in the Bunker knew what had to be done to fulfill the last wish of his Führer. That same afternoon at the last minute he called Heinz Linge, his aide-de-camp, and gave him very precise instructions on how the final act should be carried out. He would kill himself with a shot. Linge should then wrap his body, take him to the Chancellery's garden, burn him until there is absolutely nothing left and check that not a single one of his bones could fall into Soviet hands. Once the corpse had burned, Linge had to return to the Führer's office, to collect "all that may be a memory of me. Take everything, uniforms, papers, everything I've used, anything that people can say has belonged to the Führer. You take it out and burn it all", Hitler ordered his faithful escort Curiously, the only thing the Führer wanted to save in the rubble of Europe was a portrait of Frederick the Great, painted by the eminent Swiss painter Anton Graff and acquired after his rise to power. This portrait of the King of Prussia was the object he most appreciated of the many pieces of art he had and he asked his personal pilot Hans Baur to bring it safely out of Berlin. Heinz Linge recalls in his interesting memoirs "With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Valet", that Hitler gave him instructions coldly, without showing an ounce of sentimentality, like a general sending his men to death. "He was standing behind the table in the small conference room of the Bunker, his face livid and his eyes effaced. He spoke without emotion, as if it were something that no longer interested him", recalled Linge. The only thing that interested Hitler in those supposed last hours was to leave all possible loose ends tied up. His mistress Eva Braun had to stop being it to become the lady of Hitler. His political will and his personal will must also be written, with formalized witnesses to both documents. and then put in safe hands that could get them out of Berlin. Hitler, the supreme judge of life and death of millions of human beings, did not want to leave anything to chance.
On the evening of Sunday, 29 April, the Führer himself announced that his marriage to Fräulein Braun would be that very night. Josef Göbbels reminded his boss that his own marriage to Magda had been performed by a justice of the peace named Walter Wagner. SS members did not find him in his home, but in a trench on nearby Friedrichstrasse, fighting against the Soviet vanguard in a unit of the Volkssturm. Rochus Misch, one of the last members of the Chancellery's staff to leave the Bunker, stated in his memoirs that Wagner had to return home to collect a marriage certificate and return to the Citadel under the intense fire of Soviet artillery. When Walter Wagner reached the Bunker, Hitler and Eva Braun were already waiting for him. The two wedding witnesses were Josef Göbbels, on the part of Hitler, and Martin Bormann, on the part of Eva Braun. Their names were also recorded on the marriage certificate. After the questions of rigor, the justice of the peace said: "Since both contractors have declared their intentions I declare that this marriage is legal before the law". Signatories and witnesses then signed the certificate. As a curiosity, it is possible to say that Eva began to sign with her maiden name, Braun, but when realizing it crossed out the letter B that already had written in the document and wrote "Hitler geb. Braun"." When the four participants had affixed their signature, Walter Wagner wrote the date 29 April, but was wrong since it was 30 April, 00:25. Once the ceremony was over, the justice of the peace was returned to his trench in the Friedrichstrasse and was never heard of again despite the fact that SMERSH sought him all over Berlin after the end of the battle to declare what had happened that night in the Bunker.
For a few minutes, after the ceremony, the newlyweds went out into the main hall to receive congratulations from the few remaining officers, secretaries and assistants in the Bunker. Eva was radiant despite the events that were a a few meters above where she was. The officers gave a small heel click and kissed the bride's hand. The women kissed her on the cheek. Now on her ring finger Mrs. Hitler wore a thin gold ring. Most curious of all is that the wedding rings had been found in an SS safe, Rochus Misch said, and likely belonged to Jews killed in a concentration camp. The wedding banquet was attended by Martin Bormann, Josef and Magda Göbbels, General Hans Krebs, General Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hitler's two secretaries, Traudl Junge and Gerda Christian, and the Führer's cook, Constanze Manziarly. Everyone toasted champagne for the bride and groom. Hitler took the floor and remembered the wedding of his minister of Propaganda. "It was a happy day. Now it's over. Death will be a relief to me. I have been deceived and betrayed by all", Hitler said. The Göbbels tried to cheer him up but Hitler, as Heinz Linge declared, had already entered a deep depression. The Waffen-SS and SS 1st Panzer Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Otto Günsche , and Colonel Nicolaus von Below, liaison officer between the Luftwaffe and Hitler, were also invited to toast the newlyweds . After receiving the personal greeting of Hitler, he one asked his secretary Traudl Junge to accompany him to his office to finish the work that had begun that morning.
Hitler had been dictating his personal testament in which he explained why he had decided to marry Eva Braun and also why he had decided to die next to her. His political will is more careful was more than a document, it was a final speech that should be read after his disappearance in the ashes of history. Hitler had never wanted war. It had been imposed by international Judaism. Other culprits of the war were the English, whom Hitler accused of having rejected maliciously his proposals of peace. In short, Adolf Hitler wanted to appear before the world and before history as a poor innocent man dragged by events. The day would come when this six-year war would be remembered as "the most courageous and glorious manifestation of a people's will to live". Hitler wrote that he would die with "the joyous heart" because he recognized the immeasurable achievements of the German soldiers at the front, and the unique contribution of the Hitler Youth, "the youth that bears my name". He also wrote that he "preferred to die to fall into the hands of enemies who to the delight of the masses overflowing with hatred require a new spectacle promoted by the Jews". At four o'clock on the morning of 30 April 1945, Traudl Junge finished the copies of the private testament, which consisted of three pages, and of the political, ten. Hitler called to Bormann, Göbbels and von Below as witnesses in the first document. Bormann, Burgdorf, Krebs and Dr. Göbbels acted as witnesses to the latter. Shortly after 4, Hitler and his wife Eva went to bed.
On Monday, 30 April, Hitler woke up about 11 o'clock in the morning. He washed, shaved and dressed in his uniform to preside over the meeting with his military chiefs. Hitler sent his last message transmitted from the Bunker to Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, commander in chief of the German Army.
"The people and the Armed Forces have given everything in this long and difficult struggle. The sacrifice has been enormous. But many have abused my confidence. Disloyalty and treachery have undermined resistance throughout the war. For this reason it has not been possible for me to lead the people to victory. The General Staff of the Army can not be compared to the General Staff of the First World War. Their successes have been much inferior to those of the combat front. The efforts and sacrifices of the German people in this war have been so great that I can not believe they have been done in vain. The goal must continue to be to gain territory in the East for the German people".
Later all preparations for death were begun. First Hitler decided that to use a revolver and would shoot himself in the mouth and upwards, to the brain. He confessed to his pilot Hans Baur that he was afraid of being gassed and falling into Soviet hands. "The Russians know perfectly well that I am in the Bunker. I'm afraid they'll use gas bombs. During the war we made a gas that kept a man asleep for twenty-four hours. Our Intelligence service tells me now that the Russians also have that gas. It is impossible to calculate the consequences if they capture me", Hitler told his faithful pilot. [On April 28 about 9 pm, Radio Stockholm had broadcast the news of the execution of Benito Mussolini by partisans and how his body and that of his lover Clara Petacci had been hung for public display in a square in Milan]. Hitler then had Dr. Werner Haase brought from the Chancellery's infirmary and asked about the most potent and effective poisons. To test them, Hitler poisoned his beloved German shepherd, Blondi. The experiment was a success. Blondi died instantly. Hitler decides to send a desperate message to General Walther Wenck with clear questions: When will he attack? Where is the IXth Army? Shortly after, the answer came: "Wenck has been detained south of Lake Schwielow. The XIIth Army is unable to continue the attack on Berlin. Meanwhile, the bulk of the IXth Army is surrounded. Nothing is done or can be done to save Berlin". General Helmuth Weidling, commander-in-chief of the Berlin air defense, announced that the first Soviet lines would arrive at the Bunker doors no later than the morning of 1 May.
After lunch, Hitler then gets up from the table and retires to his quarters in order to meet his wife. Minutes later he calls Otto Günsche. The conversation behind closed doors takes about half an hour. The aide-de-camp leaves Hitler's room with a pale face and heads for the Bunker switchboard where Rochus Misch is located and over the phone calls Erich Kempka, Hitler's personal chauffeur for the last fourteen years and head of the mobile fleet of the Chancellery, to bring him several fuel tanks. In total two hundred liters. Kempka's men were to leave them at the very door of the Bunker, in the garden of the Chancellery. Minutes later, the Bunker begins to be flooded by a strong smell of gasoline. According to Kempka's own statement, at first the request was taken as a joke, but Günsche's tone indicated that the order was serious Kempka only gets 180 liters distributed in eleven cans of four and a half gallons each. Few people remain inside the Bunker. Five women: Magda Göbbels, secretaries Traudl Junge and Gerda Christian, cook Constance Manziarly, and Else Krüger, secretary of Martin Bormann. Also a dozen men: Martin Bormann; Josef Göbbels; Generals Wilhelm Burgdorf and Hans Krebs; Admiral Erich Voss; Walter Hewel, representative of Ribbentrop in the Chancellery; Johann
Rattenhuber, head of security of Hitler; Werner Naumann, of the ministry of Propaganda; Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge; and Erich Kempka, Hitler's driver. All form a line along the narrow Bunker corridor. At that moment, Hitler and his wife Eva appear on the scene and begin to shake hands with each of them. It's the farewell. Eva Hitler has a pale face, but maintains perfect self-control. She kissed the women on the cheeks and shook hands with the men. Hitler instead, as if he were an automaton, shook hands with everyone After the farewell, the couple returned to the small vestibule of their dormitories in that basement that had become a mousetrap.
Otto Günsche had Hitler's express order not to let anyone in until the final act had taken place. Heinz Linge stood at his side, to help Günsche, in case anyone wanted to access Hitler's rooms. Suddenly there was a small commotion when Magda Göbbels ran to the door and demanded that Günsche allow her to see the Führer. She wanted to convince him not to commit suicide. Günsche prevented her passage, but at her insistence, he decided to open the door and ask Hitler if he wanted to receive her. "I do not want to see her", was the answer. Hitler was standing in front of the portrait of Frederick the Great. Günsche could not see Eva who must have been in the bathroom. He heard the water run. Otto Günsche closed the door again and waited. "It was a strangely bourgeois suicide," Günsche would say to his interrogators of the Soviet NKVD. "There were no voices heard, not even the sound of a shot," Linge would say to the Soviet agents. He recalled in his biography "With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler's Valet", that with all his nerves in tension waiting for a shot, he clearly remembered that he did not know of Hitler's death until he perceived the vague and almost imperceptible smell from gunpowder. The most curious thing is that finding himself at the very door of Hitler's rooms he did not hear the detonation. Hugh Trevor-Roper, explains "assuring" that Hitler would have wrapped the revolver, a Walther 7.65 mm, in a towel to drown out the sound". Interestingly, no direct witness to the suicide of Adolf Hitler gives this information. Only the British historian. Rochus Misch, who was also inside the Bunker, claims that he had not heard the shots. But let's keep the official story.
When Günsche and Linge entered the room, they found Hitler sitting on a couch, folded over and with his arms down. His mouth was open and blood dripped from his head on the table to fall on the carpet. He had shot himself directly in the mouth. Near him was a Walther. Eve was at his side curled up on the couch with her knees almost touching his chest. His mouth was half open and his glassy eyes half closed. At his feet was a Walther pistol 6.35 mm that had not been fired and not a 6.68 mm as Trevor-Roper asserts. Günsche told his Soviet interrogators, "Mrs. Hitler's body smelled of bitter almonds, the characteristic smell of cyanide". Göbbels, Bormann and Artur Axmann, head of the Hitler Youth, entered the room and saw the two bodies of the Hitler couple. Perhaps to verify that with that image ended the bloody dream of the Reich of the Thousand Years. Again, here the versions contradict again. Robert Payne claims that Hitler was embracing his mother's portrait, something hard to believe if we think of the version that he was shot in the mouth. Trevor-Roper, however, does not speak of this detail, not even in passing. Günsche, Linge, Kempka and an unknown SS soldier wrapped Hitler's corpse in a gray blanket [or a rug, according to Linge], climbed the four flights of stairs and went outside. Martin Bormann did the same with Eva Braun's lifeless body. He took her in his arms, handed her to Kempka, who took her out into the garden of the Chancellery, which was full of rubble. "I saw the Führer's body being removed, but I only saw his shoes protruding from the blanket," Misch said when asked if he could see Hitler's dead face. Traudl Junge said that she never saw the corpse of her boss and that she learned of his death by Otto Günsche. Gerda Christian said he did not hear the shot and did not know Hitler had committed suicide. She learned of the death of the Führer from Heinz Linge. The truth is that neither of Adolf Hitler's two secretaries knew when or how his boss committed suicide even though both were inside the Bunker, nor heard the alleged shot that killed the Chancellor, but Michael Musmanno states That "from the interior of Hitler's office you can hear the penetrating and intense staccato of a gunshot". Reality or literary freedom?
Robert Payne was an English-born author, known principally for works of biography and history, although he also wrote novels, poetry, magazine articles and many other works.
A prolific author, Payne is best known for his biographies of prominent historical figures, such as Hitler, Stalin, Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong and Gandhi, These works are praised for their readability and literary power, although not always for their historical rigour.
Some of his works were Book of the Month Club selections: "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler" was a Main Selection
Payne's biographies were sometimes informed by his personal encounters with his subjects. Payne had actually met Hitler in 1937 in Munich at the Hotel Vierjahrenzeiten at the invitation of Rudolf Hess. As Payne recounted in his book "Eyewitness: A Personal Account of a Tumultuous Decade, 1937-1946", Hitler offered him a strawberry cream cake.
Payne's biography of Hitler was seen as attempting to "humanize the inhuman Hitler". The American critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote that the effect of this approach was "interesting and terrifying". The historian Alan Bullock commented that Payne's focus on Hitler's personal life resulted in a good account of Hitler's earlier years, but proved less productive for his later life when he "becomes absorbed in politics". The Biography Book recognized the "narrative and imaginative power" of Payne's account, while stating that "it incorporates speculation as fact". One example of this was the book's acceptance of claims by Bridget Dowling [Hitler's sister-in-law] and others that Hitler had spent time in Liverpool before 1914, a claim later described as "conclusively disproved".
The two bodies were placed in a crater from a bomb. Then someone opened the fuel tanks and flushed the liquid, in total 180 liters, inside. The two bodies were completely soaked by the flammable liquid. Here the sources do not agree either. The historian Robert Payne states that "within ten minutes of his death they were already burning," but without saying who lit the improvised funeral pyre. Hugh Trevor-Roper says that someone may have thrown a match from the entrance to the Bunker. According to Musmanno, between the "fire of the battle, before which Hitler has regressed in life, comes to find him in death", and it is Otto Günsche who ignites a rag soaked in gasoline, ignites it and throws it into the crater. When the flames died out, someone poured more gas over what was left of the remains. The flesh melted, but the bones were still visible in the flames. For more than two and a half hours, the flames devoured the remains. At 4:00 p.m. both bodies were smoking because of the enormous temperature. By 17:00, the meat had already been completely consumed, including the lower limbs of the body. At 18:00 hours, the forms of Eva Hitler could still be identified as those of a female body. About eleven o'clock on the evening of 30 April, several men [no historian identifies them], led by SS general Johann Rattenhuber, Hitler's chief of escorts, collected the ashes and buried them in some other part of the garden of the Chancellery. This story is quoted by Robert Payne in his book, while Hugh Trevor-Roper says that Günsche said that "the ashes were collected in a box and taken out of the Chancery".
The battle for Berlin lasted from 16 April to 2 May 1945, thousands of civilians and military would find death. To get an idea of the magnitude of the military operation, the Soviets launched almost one million eight hundred thousand shells on the city. The capital of the Reich became a ruin, a pile of rubble. The buildings burned and fell on the people who had taken shelter inside. The smoke, which made it almost impossible to breathe, had dyed the heavily grayish sky. In addition to the military, about 100,000 civilian Germans fell under Soviet fire. For his part, it is estimated that Zhukov lost between one hundred and two hundred thousand men. As the Soviet vanguard advanced, it is estimated that they carried out about one hundred and thirty thousand violations. In this way Stalin's troops took revenge on the effects left on the USSR by the German military following the start of Operation Barbarossa, on 22 June 1941.
Until 30 April, the day Hitler allegedly committed suicide, the Allies hoped to be able to try him as a war criminal. The prospect was interesting because it was the most hated man in the world. "Some day they will have to recognize that Hitler was a genius, but a genius of evil," said Hjalmar Schacht, Minister of Economy of the Reich, to his interrogators in Nuremberg. The issue of judging Hitler was one of the delicate issues addressed by the US War Department when, in late 1945, serious war crimes trials began. An illustration published in the "Free World" newspaper in April 1945 clearly showed the Allies' fear of putting Hitler before an international tribunal that should try him for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Upstairs you can see a row of judges looking towards the center of the courtroom where journalists and television cameras crowding around a Hitler throwing harangue at the microphones of CBS and NBC and Göbbels, Göring, Himmler and Ribbentrop raising their thumbs in approval. His suicide or flight greatly simplified the process of other Nazi leaders and undoubtedly softened the political situation that was to begin to live in a Europe covered with debris and the scene of a Cold War that began its first skirmishes.
The ghost of Adolf Hitler hovered over the preparations for the Nuremberg Trials. There was no certainty that the Führer had committed suicide. The units of the Soviet army discovered on 4 May in a pit excavated in the garden of the Chancellery the calcined corpses of Hitler and Eva Braun. But were they really the remains of Hitler and his wife? An officer of the SMERSH, the military counter-espionage, appeared on 5 May and without a word seized all the documentary material and bone remains found in the Chancery's garden. The historian Robert Payne stated in 1983, the year of his death, that he did not believe that the Soviets had found the burnt remains of Hitler and Eva Braun, since they never presented any evidence. A curious statement coming from a historian who to write his book had been guided only by what was stated by another historian [Hugh Trevor-Roper] without checking any of the data presented by him.
The Third Reich ended its days in the horror and despair of millions, but neither the Germans nor their enemies learned the lesson. Hitler's rise to power coincided with the invention of cheap, mass-produced radio, which made him a a constant presence in the homes of all Germans. Historians agree that he might have succeeded in mastering Germany equally without the advantages of absolute control over German broadcasters, but without these advantages he could not have succeeded in establishing his totalitarian regime so successfully. Its power was such that the German people lost their own identity and absolutely all Germans [minus a persecuted and annihilated minority] became small Hitlers acting under the shadow of the great leader. Hitler really hated the German people because he saw them as just another instrument of his will. The fact is that the Germans who fought cleanly with democratic criteria against Hitler and his regime can be counted on the fingers of one hand and most of them were part of the White Rose led by Sophie and Hans Scholl. So much so that the name of Georg Elser has been named -a quiet, reserved and mentally retarded carpenter who put the bomb in the Bürgerbräukeller brewery in Munich, to end Hitler's life in November 1939- to a square In that city, in homage to this "symbol of anti-Nazi resistance". The great historian Allan Bullock, in his book "Hitler and Stalin. "Parallel Lives", says that "the truth of politicians or soldiers is never expected. They have to lie because of the very nature of their professions". Hitler, a politician and soldier at the same time, lied more than most and more successfully". Armed with the perfect machinery of destruction he embarked on such daring conquests that even his own General Staff [OKW] was frightened and warned against an exaggerated extension of his military resources. No doubt he was about to achieve almost all his goals, and if it had not been for a few mistakes, he could have conquered the world and founded a great German empire. Once, Adolf Hitler told his secretary Martin Bormann that he lived according to some verses found in the Nordic Edda. These verses said, "All will pass away, nothing remains except death and the glory of the deeds," but the truth is that in their deeds there was no glory, only death, shame, destruction, famine, and terror. Adolf Hitler, better than anyone, represented the Red Horse, of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, mounted by the war rider: "Then another horse, red, came out; The one who rode him was granted to remove peace from the earth so that they slaughtered one another; He was given a large sword ".
During the following years, the death of Adolf Hitler or his mysterious disappearance was one of the great mysteries of World War II. The world was absolutely ignorant about this subject. Only the information [not precise] that had been offered by some witnesses was available, but could not be confirmed with documentation of any kind. Although the Soviets, Americans and British were very interested in capturing war criminals, naturally the Soviet counter-espionage, SMERSH, was more interested in the capture of Adolf Hitler and the members of his closest circle. The first information on Hitler had been given by important captured officers, such as Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, who was arrested after surrendering with his army in Stalingrad. More information about the Nazi leader was collected in the territories that were falling under the control of the Red Army. The problem was that the top leaders of Nazi crimes were not detained and brought to justice, but were executed instantly. For example, Wilhelm Kube, the bloodthirsty Gauleiter of Belarus, responsible for massacres in the Minsk ghetto, would be killed by a special task force of the NKVD on 22 September 1943.
Kurt Jahnke was a German-American Intelligence agent and saboteur active both during World War I and World War II.
According to the Senate testimony of Intelligence officer and double agent Dr. Paul Altendorf, who was undercover in Mexico City with the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps from 1917 through April 1919, Jahnke had schemed a Mexican attack on the United States. An army of 45,000 men, funded by ambassador Heinrich von Eckardt and trained by German reservists, would march against the U.S. in 1918 and "arouse the Negroes to civil war".
Back in Germany in the late 1930s, Jahnke established the "Jahnke Büro", essentially a small private Intelligence service reporting to Rudolf Hess. There is speculation that Jahnke was somehow involved in Hess's still-puzzling flight to Scotland in May 1941; true or not, he fell out of favor with Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Gestapo and his accumulated files were confiscated. Later in the war, Jahnke served as Intelligence advisor to Walter Schellenberg. He and his wife were captured by Soviet SMERSH agents in April 1945, interrogated, and executed.
Walter Wolf, chief of the German police in Poland; or Erich Gunzen, head of the German military mission in Romania.
Closer to Berlin, other bigwigs were trapped in the network of Soviet Intelligence. Kurt Janke, German spy; General Heinrich Vert, Chief of Staff of the pro-Nazi Hungarian Army;
Henrik Werth was a Hungarian military officer, who served as Chief of Army Staff during the Second World War.
He became a military cadet in 1897 in Vienna, and got a rapid advance in rank during World War I. By 1918, he was a lieutenant colonel. He later served the Hungarian Soviet Republic after the collapse of Austria-Hungary as the commander of the Hungarian Red Army's I Army Corps before being given command of the 7th Infantry Division. Werth continued serving after the fall of the communist regime, being promoted to colonel in 1920, and to major general in 1926. He taught at the general staff academy and briefly served as the chief of operations on the general staff during that time. Werth was given mandatory retirement at age of 55, which he reached in 1936. However, he was recalled up into service in 1938 and became the chief of general staff. Having German ancestry, he supported Hungary's entry into World War II and believed that Hungary could profit from helping the Germans. He was later dismissed from his post because of making a promise to the Germans that all Hungarian Army units would be available to them [without the permission of Regent Miklos Horthy]. He was recalled from retirement in February 1945 by the Soviet Forces, and was immediately arrested. The Hungarian People's Court sentenced him to death because of war crimes. He was transferred to the USSR where he died in 1952.
The interrogations to which they are submitted confirm that Hitler arrived in Berlin in a special train from Frankfurt the 17 of January of 1945 and that from that day resided in a special Bunker under the old Reich Chancellery, at #77-78 of the Wilhelmstrasse. On 20 April Hitler sent most of his staff to the Berghof, his resting place at the Bavarian Obersalzberg. During the conquest of Berlin, special commands of the SMERSH were operating in the Citadel area, where they interrogated any senior members of the Reich detained in government buildings and seized and analyzed all the documents found in those same buildings. On 30 April, Paul Mazers, a naval liaison officer who had been attached to an SS battalion, was captured. Mazers told Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Klimenko, head of SMERSH in the 79th Infantry Corps, that "Hitler, Göbbels and others ... are in the Reich Chancellery since 28 April". On 3 May, Erich Haberman, an officer of the Chancellery's guard, was captured in civilian clothes in the basement of the Reich Chancellery's Hospital. Haberman assures that Hitler is dead but that he has not seen the corpse. Elisabeth Lyndhurst, a nurse from the Chancellery hospital, is arrested by Soviet Intelligence officials and discovers, among her belongings, Hitler's pocket watch, the portrait of Hitler's mother, his party emblem, the Iron Cross he was awarded him during the First World War and a minor award received for war wounds. [Erich Haberman also stated he had seen Elisabeth Lyndhurst ..wearing around her neck a locket containing a portrait of Hitler's mother and that she had the Führer's Gold Party Badge...Hitler's Gold Party Badge supposedly was given to Magda Göbbels but this contradicts this view unless it was stolen]. Other senior party officials were arrested in the following days. Some confirmed that Martin Bormann and other senior SS officers had left the Bunker to try to cross the siege of the city and flee to the west. In the final days of the war, it was very important for the Allies to know the truth, as well as for war criminals to be detained but also to put an end to myths and legends, with rumors and speculations, which only provoked contradictions. From a historical and political perspective, it was necessary to ensure that the truth was known to future generations.
The last refuge of the Führer was occupied by the Soviet forces 2 May 1945 at 17:00 hours. The first to enter were the counter-Intelligence officers, Ivan Klimenko, head of SMERSH in the 79th Infantry Corps; Major Boris Alexandrovich Bystrov, head of the Counter-espionage subsection of the 3rd Assault Army; and Major Isaak Hazin, deputy chief of the counter-espionage section of the 207th Infantry Division. They discovered the corpses of the Göbbels. Klimenko ordered Colonel Andrey Miroshnichenko of counter-Intelligence from the 3rd Assault Army to collect as much information as possible about Hitler's suicide and whether his body had been cremated in the Chancery's garden, to "collect any kind of the rest "of his corpse or that of his wife Eva Braun". On 2 May, the TASS agency launched a dispatch from Moscow, in which it refers to the alleged death of Hitler: "This announcement is but one of the usual tricks of the fascists. In spreading the news of Hitler's death, the German fascists are obviously hoping to prepare for the possibility that he will disappear from the stage and into a clandestine illegal existence. [...]" Dönitz repeated the lies of Hitler's propaganda, aimed at creating a dissension among the nations of the anti-Hitler coalition. In the United States the feeling and the doubts are the same. The United Press agency releases information stating that "the opinion of the official circles of the capital [Washington] could be synthesized in the comment made by Senator Edwin C. Johnson [D-Colorado], who expressed his hope that the news was true, but he quickly added that he would like to see the corpse, saying: 'I do not believe the Germans. They could invent anything'.
In an article published by "The Pittsburgh Press" and entitled 'Hitler, Alive or Dead', two pieces of information stand out, the first that says that Hitler suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and that he did not live more than 48 hours, and the second, which speaks of the famous double Führer. In another article by the Associated Press correspondent in Moscow, and published by the newspaper "The Florence Times", it is ensured that the Russians believe that Hitler is alive.
The biggest interest now on the part of the Soviet SMERSH and the British and American counter-Intelligence units is to stop the largest number of witnesses to the alleged suicide of Hitler and his wife Eva in the Chancellery's Bunker. Soviet Intelligence manages to stop Karl Schneider, captain of the SS and responsible for the vehicle workshop in the mobile park of the Chancellery. During an interrogation led by Captain Nikolai Terioshin, investigator of the 2nd Subsection of the 4th Section of SMERSH, Department of Counter-Intelligence of the 1st Belarusian Front, Schneider reveals a fact that alerts the Soviets. N. Terioshin: "What do you know about Hitler's fate?" K. Schneider: "I can not tell you anything about Hitler's fate. I only heard on the afternoon of 1 May 1945, from the workshop chief of the Reich Chancellery and personal driver of Hitler, SS Obersturmbannführer Kempka, that Hitler was dead. Rumors were circulating among the soldiers on guard that Hitler had committed suicide. I do not know if Hitler was in Berlin before 1 May 1945. The truth is that I did not see him".
On Saturday, 5 May 1945, the soldiers Churakov, Oleynik and Seroukh, led by Red Guard Lieutenant Alexei Panasov, commander of a patrol of the SMERSH Counterpopulation Department in the 79th Infantry Corps, found the bodies of a man and a woman half charred and covered with dirt in the crater of a bomb. Intelligence officials made sketches of the exact location and the head of the Army's Topographic Service, Major Gabelok, conducted a survey of the ground from the same place where the remains of the two bodies had been found. One of the corpses found would be Blondi, Hitler's dog. Two of those arrested by the SMERSH, Fritz Echtmann, dental technician of the Chancellery, and the nurse, Käthe Heusemann, were questioned about it. Echtmann would give the molds he had from the teeth of the Führer and his wife Eva Braun. Nurse Heusemann was interrogated on 19 May by Lieutenant General Alexandr Vadis and Colonel Andrey Miroshnichenko, both of SMERSH. Heusemann claimed to have participated in the dental treatment of Hitler and his wife as well as those of the Göbbels family. The nurse also said that on more than one occasion the molds of the Führer's teeth had been used with other patients sent directly by the SS. "I did not ask questions," she told her interrogators. Curiously, although the dental charts found in Dr. Hugo Blaschke's office, a dentist in the Chancellery, showed that they could be the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun, Stalin was not entirely convinced, so he refused to officially communicate the finding of the remains of Hitler. Stalin argued that it was possible for doctors Echtmann and Blaschke, to have made a complete mold of Hitler's denture, and to have placed an exact prosthesis to one of his famous doubles [Doppelgänger]. This same theory applied to Eva Braun.
As the days went by, the NKVD continued to hold high-ranking officials of the Third Reich: Hans Piekenbrock, and Franz von Bentivegni, heads of Departments 1 and 2 of the Abwehr; Kurt Gerum, Chief of Police of Berlin; Martin Mutschmann, Gauleiter of Saxony; Gustav Martenn, Gauleiter of Poltava District [during the occupation]; Wilhelm Mohnke, commander of the SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler; Heinz Linge, Hitler's aide-de-camp; Otto Günsche, and Hans Baur, his personal pilot.
Martin Mutschmann was nominated Gauleiter of Saxony in 1925. He maintained this position until the end of World War II. Generally his political activity concentrated on Saxony rather than on Germany as a whole. Mutschmann was passionately interested in the preservation of Saxon arts and crafts.
On 30 January 1933, after the Nazis came to power, Mutschmann was appointed Nazi Governor [Reichsstatthalter)]of Saxony. A passionate hunter, he was often accused of being more interested in his hobby than the welfare of Saxony. The bombing of Dresden gave no exception to such accusations. Mutschmann has been blamed for not preparing that city for the horrific bombing, which occurred from 13 February to 15 February 1945.
On 1 May 1945, Mutschmann was in Dresden. As the Gauleiter of Saxony, he insisted that the city go into public mourning after the suicide of German dictator Adolf Hitler on 30 April 1945. On 5 May, Mutschmann let it be known that a large-scale German offensive on the Eastern Front was about to be launched. Two days later, on 7 May, Mutschmann was captured by Soviet troops while trying to escape.
Mutschmann was sentenced to death in Moscow and shot on 14 February 1947
Also falling into the hands of the NKVD were Erich Kempka, driver of Hitler; Frau Else Krüger, secretary of Bormann, and the guards Erich Mansfeld and Hilco Poppen.
RSD member Erich Mansfeld [alias Skripczyk] in an account, given to US interrogators on 30 July 1945, referred to a cremation on either 26 or 27 April, observed while he was on guard duty. establishing 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.
"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 27 April 1945".
On Saturday, 2 June, Lieutenant General Alexandr Vadis and Viktor Abakmov discovered Göbbels' diaries inside the Bunker. The discovery of Bormann's was much more complex. The central archive of the FSB contains a document of a transmission made on 29 June 1945, from the SMERSH unit responsible of the 5th Assault Army to Major General Melnikov, SMERSH chief in the Soviet Occupation Forces Group in Germany. The text states that the diaries of Martin Bormann were found by a French "slave" worker named André and that he delivered them to a certain Ernst Otto, the head of a car workshop in Berlin. According to Otto, in a statement to the Soviet counter-Intelligence officer to whom he delivered the papers, Andre discovered the documents in the pockets of a brown leather coat that had been given to him by a Soviet soldier in the central district of Berlin. SMERSH officials questioned tenants of the Bunker, who asserted that the day Bormann disappeared from the Bunker, the morning of 30 April, he wore a military coat of gray color and not a brown leather coat. Thus began the conjectures about the possible escape of Martin Bormann through the siege of Berlin.
On Wednesday, 6 June, at a large press conference held by the commander-in-chief of the Red Army in the Berlin sector, he announced in a surprising manner that Hitler's remains had been discovered and identified with "complete safety", thanks to the jaw, and claimed that he had been poisoned. The most curious thing is that the Kremlin did not support the theory presented by its official in Berlin and continued maintaining the theory that Hitler could still be alive and perhaps protected by some Intelligence service, American or British. The TASS agency went even further and published news that claims Hitler fled Berlin dressed as a woman, landed secretly near Dublin and was hidden somewhere in Northern Ireland]. The US and British services were put on high alert in case any indication was found that indicated Hitler's whereabouts. The FBI gives Intelligence officers in Germany a photograph of Hitler retouched by its laboratories in Washington. The ICC also gives all its agents deployed in post-war Europe a series of photographs of the Führer with glasses, without glasses, with a mustache, without a mustache, with a beard. Anything to capture the leader of the Third Reich.
At the end of June the British secret services arrested Hermann Karnau, a member of the Bunker guard, and transferred him to Montgomery headquarters. Karnau declared that on "1 May" [actually 30 April 30] he had seen the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun burned in a crater opened by a bomb in the gardens of the Chancellery".
"A prisoner, a soldier in the security service of the Chancellery of the Reich, says that on 1 May he saw Eva Braun in the Chancellery shouting that she did not want to flee and that she preferred to die there. Late in the afternoon, when he opened the emergency exit, he saw Hitler and Eva Braun burning on the floor. Hitler's head had opened and his legs were already charred. Probably Hitler had poisoned himself in his office with Eva Braun, and his valet Lange had executed the order to incinerate both corpses. Hitler's body was apparently buried 1.8 meters from the emergency exit, in the crater of a bomb. This testimony can not be said to be solid proof, and the Russians, who have publicly expressed doubts about Hitler's death, say that their efforts to find the body in the Chancellery have been unsuccessful. Despite Russian skepticism, it is not unlikely that, for all we know about the last days of Hitler, he would die in Berlin".
Despite all this, the rumors continued to expand through barracks, embassies and chancelleries, and more when in early September a part of the BBC announced that Hitler had been seen in Hamburg, where he lived under a false identity. For days the SIS agents scoured the city and even sent Royal Navy boats to intercept a mahogany sailboat in which Hitler and Eva Braun were supposed to have fled. British Intelligence agents detained a surgeon named Hans Pleve who claimed to have subjected the Führer to a plastic surgery to change his face.
The next chapter in the story is well known. Annoyed by the continuing rumors surrounding Hitler's death, the British military Intelligence decided to open an exhaustive investigation with all the evidence available to the Western allied powers. A young Intelligence commander and future historian named Hugh Trevor-Roper was charged with directing the investigation. The report, written in October and communicated to the press in November, was to say what everyone knows or, rather, what everyone has read about Hitler's last days in the Bunker of the Chancellery. Hitler married Eva Braun and committed suicide with a shot in the temple, Braun poisoned hrself, their bodies were taken out of the Bunker, thrown into the crater left by a bomb, sprayed with fuel and cremated. The story and the uncomfortable questions are over for the next half century. Interestingly, during interrogations in Nuremberg, all Nazi leaders remembered hearing that Hitler was about to commit suicide, von Ribbentrop, Göring, even Wilhelm Scheidt, the official historian of the Wehrmacht, suddenly recalled how on 20 April Hitler himself, during his birthday party in the Bunker, hinted that he was called upon to perform a mission. At first Scheidt said he did not know what he meant by that statement, but a few days later he changed his statement saying that he meant suicide. The only thing that could convince the Allies of what happened or not in the Bunker were the very witnesses who lived those last hours of the German dictator. Thus began the race on the part of the American, British and Soviet Intelligence services for locating, detaining and interrogating the largest number of people who could have witnessed the alleged suicide of Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva Braun on 30 April 1945.
The truth is that despite what the German Allied authorities assured of the death of Hitler, public opinion, mainly of the conquering countries, still did not believe it. For example, on August 1945, the "Toronto Daily Star" publishes a report by correspondent Charles Lynch, entitled 'He is dead, alive or in the dark. The legend of Hitler grows'. On 8 September it is the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper that echoes the controversial statements of Deputy Mayor of Berlin, Karl Maron, who states that he believes that Hitler is alive and adds that "there is no proof that it was any of the five bodies found near the Chancellery of the Reich". Also, on 8 September, the United Press agency launches a great report that is published by hundreds of newspapers all over the world, entitled 'Allies perform Hitler's global search'. Below the headline is a phrase that helps to further increase the mystery, "The greatest mystery of war too important to discover. The hunting of the man from Berlin to Madrid, from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, is now underway in the face of the possibility that Adolf Hitler is still alive", affirms the UP dispatch. The text also states that security officers of the four winning powers were organizing a door-to-door search, in cities and towns.