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Conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler's death

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Hitler depicted by the United States Secret Service in 1944 to show how he might disguise himself to try to escape capture

Conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler's death contradict the fact that he committed suicide in the Führerbunker on 30 April 1945. Most of these theories hold that Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, survived and escaped from Berlin, Germany, and Europe. While these theories have received some exposure in popular culture, these viewpoints are regarded by historians and scientific experts as disproven fringe theories.[1]

Origins

The ruined Führerbunker complex, where Hitler spent his last days in Berlin

The myth that Hitler did not commit suicide, but instead escaped with his wife, was first presented to the public by Marshal Georgy Zhukov at a press conference on 9 June 1945, on orders from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.[2] When asked at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 how Hitler had died, Stalin said he was living "in Spain or Argentina."[3] This disinformation, propagated by Stalin's government,[4][5] has been a springboard for various conspiracy theories, despite the official conclusion by Western powers and the consensus of historians that Hitler killed himself on 30 April 1945.[6][7][8]

The first detailed investigation by Western powers began in November 1945 after Dick White, then head of counter-intelligence in the British sector of Berlin, had their agent Hugh Trevor-Roper investigate the matter to counter the Soviet claims. His findings that Hitler and Braun had died by suicide in Berlin were written in a report in 1946 and published in a book the next year.[9] Regarding the case, Trevor-Roper reflected, "the desire to invent legends and fairy tales ... is (greater) than the love of truth".[10] In 1947, 51 percent of Americans polled thought Hitler was still alive.[11]

Evidence

Declassified FBI documents contain a number of alleged sightings of Hitler along with theories of his escape from Germany. The FBI states that the information within those documents pertaining to the escape and sightings of Hitler cannot be verified.[12]

On 30 May 1946, while the Soviets were investigating rumours of Hitler's survival,[13] two fragments of a skull were retrieved from the crater where Hitler was buried. The left piece of the parietal bones had gunshot damage.[14] It was kept in Russia's federal archives in Moscow, and believed to be Hitler's for decades. In 2009, samples of the skull were DNA-tested at the University of Connecticut by a bone-specializing archaeologist for an episode of History's MysteryQuest.[15] The sample was found to be that of a woman aged under 40.[13]

However, neither former Soviet nor Russian officials have claimed the skull was the main piece of evidence, instead citing jawbone fragments and two dental bridges found in May 1945. The items were shown to Hitler's dentist Hugo Blaschke, his assistant Käthe Heusermann, and longtime dental technician Fritz Echtmann, who confirmed the dental remains were Hitler's and Braun's.[16][17] In 2017, Philippe Charlier, a French forensic pathologist, confirmed that teeth on one of the jawbone fragments were in "perfect agreement" with an X-ray taken of Hitler in 1944.[18] This investigation of the teeth by the French team, the results of which were reported in the European Journal of Internal Medicine in May 2018, found that the dental remains were definitively Hitler's teeth. According to Charlier, "There is no possible doubt. Our study proves that Hitler died in 1945 [in Berlin]."[19]

The Inalco House near the current settlement of Villa La Angostura. According to the fringe theory, Hitler would have lived some years here after 1945.

Alleged escape to Argentina

Some works, such as Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, suggest that Hitler and Braun did not commit suicide, but actually escaped to Argentina. The scenario proposed by these two authors is as follows: a number of U-boats took certain Nazis and Nazi loot to Argentina, where the Nazis were supported by future president Juan Perón, who, with his wife "Evita", had been receiving money from the Nazis for some time. Hitler allegedly arrived in Argentina, first staying at Hacienda San Ramón, east of San Carlos de Bariloche.[20][12] Hitler then moved to a Bavarian-styled mansion at Inalco, a remote and barely accessible spot at the northwest end of Lake Nahuel Huapi, close to the Chilean border. Around 1954, Eva Braun left Hitler and moved to Neuquén with their daughter, Ursula ('Uschi'); and Hitler died in February 1962.[21]

Photograph from a CIA document showing a supposed ex-SS trooper and a man he alleged to be Hitler c. 1954[22]

This theory of Hitler's flight to Argentina has been dismissed by historians, including Guy Walters. He has described Dunstan and Williams' theory as "rubbish", adding: "There's no substance to it at all. It appeals to the deluded fantasies of conspiracy theorists". Walters contends that "it is simply impossible to believe that so many people could keep such a grand scale deception so quiet," and says that no serious historian would give the story any credibility.[23][20] Walters "found little to foster belief in the claims of conspiracy theorists".[24] In 2014, Grey Wolf, a controversial docudrama film based on the book by Dunstan and Williams, was produced by Williams. It ended with an extensive list of people who claimed to have seen Hitler in Argentina.

Investigators of the History series Hunting Hitler claim to have found previously classified documents and to have interviewed witnesses indicating that Hitler escaped from Germany and travelled to South America by U-boat.[25] He and other Nazis then allegedly plotted a "Fourth Reich". However, such conspiracy theories of survival and escape have been dismissed by historian Richard J. Evans.[26]

A declassified CIA document dated 3 October 1955 highlights claims made by a self-proclaimed former German SS trooper named Phillip Citroen that Hitler was still alive, and that he "left Colombia for Argentina around January 1955." Enclosed with the document was an alleged photograph of Citroen and a person he claimed to be Hitler; on the back of the photo was written "Adolf Schrïttelmayor" and the year 1954. The report also states that neither the contact who reported his conversations with Citroen, nor the CIA station was "in a position to give an intelligent evaluation of the information".[27] The station chief's superiors told him that "enormous efforts could be expended on this matter with remote possibilities of establishing anything concrete", and the investigation was dropped.[19]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Lusher, Adam (20 May 2018). "Adolf Hitler really is dead: scientific study debunks conspiracy theories that he escaped to South America". The Independent. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  2. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 22, 23.
  3. ^ Beschloss 2002.
  4. ^ Eberle & Uhl 2005, p. 288.
  5. ^ Kershaw 2001, p. 1038.
  6. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 160–182.
  7. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 955.
  8. ^ Stern, Marlow (16 November 2015). "Hitler's Final Days Revealed: Eyewitnesses Recount the Nazi's Death in Unearthed Footage". The Daily Beast.
  9. ^ MI5 staff (2011). "Hitler's last days". Her Majesty's Security Service website. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  10. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 28.
  11. ^ Le Faucher, Christelle (21 May 2018). "Hitler Dead or Alive". WWII Museum. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b "FBI — Adolf Hitler Part 01 of 04 - File No 105-410". vault.fbi.gov. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  13. ^ a b Osborn, Andrew (28 September 2009). "Adolf Hitler suicide story questioned after tests reveal skull is a woman's". The Telegraph. (registration required)
  14. ^ Eberle & Uhl 2005, pp. 287, 288.
  15. ^ Lotozo, Eils (5 October 2009). "The Truth About Hitler's Skull". Haverford College. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  16. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 958.
  17. ^ Eberle & Uhl 2005, p. 282.
  18. ^ Brisard & Parshina 2018, pp. 224, 273–274.
  19. ^ a b Selk, Avi (20 May 2018) "Scientists say Hitler died in WWII. Tell that to 'Adolf Schüttelmayor' and the Nazi moon base." The Washington Post
  20. ^ a b Walters, Guy (28 October 2013). "Did Hitler flee bunker with Eva to Argentina, have two daughters and live to 73? The bizarre theory that's landed two British authors in a bitter war". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  21. ^ Dunstan, Simon and Williams, Gerrard. (2011) Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler. New York: Sterling Publishing. ISBN 9781402781391
  22. ^ Magness, Josh (31 October 2017). "Did Hitler escape Germany for Colombia, South America? Memos from JFK files show CIA considered it". Miami Herald. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  23. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (26 October 2013). "Hitler lived until 1962? That's my story, claims Argentinian writer". The Observer.
  24. ^ Daly-Groves 2019, p. 133.
  25. ^ Anderson, John (10 November 2015). "One Industry That Capitalizes On America's Hitler Fascination". Fortune. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  26. ^ Daly-Groves 2019, p. 24.
  27. ^ "#HVCA-2592" (PDF). CIA.gov. Retrieved 5 September 2018.

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Petrova, Ada and Watson, Peter (1995) The Death of Hitler: The Full Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-03914-6
  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh (1995) [1947] The Last Days of Hitler. London: Pan Books. ISBN 978-1-4472-1861-6
  • Vinogradov, V. K.; Pogonyi, J.F.; Teptzov, N.V. (2005). Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB. London: Chaucer Press. ISBN 978-1-904449-13-3.

External links