Conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler's death

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

Conspiracy theories about Adolf Hitler's death contradict the majority view that Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Führerbunker on 30 April 1945. Most of these theories hold that Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, survived and escaped the city of Berlin. While subject to some exposure in popular culture, examples being books such as Grey Wolf: The Escape Of Adolf, these viewpoints are regarded by mainstream historians as disproved fringe theories.[1]

The theory that Hitler did not commit suicide but escaped with his wife, was deliberately promoted by Soviet government personnel as part of its policies of state-sponsored disinformation. This "myth" first being announced by Marshall Georgy Zhukov at a press conference on 9 June 1945 on orders from Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin.[2] Even at the level of the Potsdam Conference, U.S. President Harry S. Truman received a flat denial from Stalin as to whether Hitler had died. This ambiguity has been a main cause of various conspiracy theories over the years, despite the official conclusion by Western powers that Hitler indeed killed himself in April 1945.[3]

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 (and later head of MI5 and MI6 in succession), 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 first written in a report and then published in book form in 1947.[4] As Trevor-Roper stated in 1946, "the desire to invent legends and fairy tales...is (greater) than the love of truth".[5] However, Trevor-Roper later lost credibility when, in 1983, he "authenticated" the hoax Hitler Diaries.

"Disputed" evidence[edit]

Declassified FBI documents contain a number of alleged sightings of Hitler along with conspiracy theories of his escape from Germany. The FBI state that information within those documents pertaining to the escape and sightings of Hitler cannot be verified.[6]

It has been suggested that the corpses of "Hitler" and "Braun" were those of doubles who were mercilessly shot, but there is no evidence that any doubles were killed. Also, given that Hitler had some respect for his main double, Gustav Weler, and given that there was no shortage of corpses in wartime Berlin, such a killing would have been unnecessary.

A skull fragment with a bullet-hole, found outside Hitler’s bunker and kept in Russia’s federal archives in Moscow, was for decades believed to be that of Hitler. However, in 2009 samples of the skull were DNA-tested at the University of Connecticut by archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni and colleagues. It was found to be that of a woman aged under 40.[7]

However, the Russians have never claimed that the skull was the main evidence, instead citing jawbone fragments and a dental bridge which were found. The items were shown to Käthe Heusermann, the longtime dental assistant of Hitler's dentist, Hugo Blaschke, and longtime technician Fritz Echtmann who both identified them as being Hitler's.[8] The skull fragment was found only later, in 1946, when the Soviets investigated rumours of Hitler’s survival.[7]

Alleged escape to Argentina[edit]

Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, a book by British authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams, proposes that Hitler and Braun did not commit suicide, but escaped to Argentina. The book's premise is that the Nazis had looted the gold reserves and art treasures of occupied countries. Some of these riches were funnelled via Switzerland, Spain and Portugal to pay for the German war effort; but a substantial portion was retained by Hitler's deputy Martin Bormann (who appreciated that the war was lost) to finance an escape to Argentina. By 1945, even without the money Bormann had reserved, Hitler was the wealthiest man in Europe: he was exempt from income tax on his large income as Führer, he received royalties from Mein Kampf (compulsory reading throughout the Third Reich); and he received commission from all representations of himself (including on each and every postage stamp). The scenario proposed by the authors is this:

"A number of U-boats took certain Nazi and the "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[1][6] 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."[9]

This theory of Hitler's flight to Argentina has been dismissed by mainstream historians, in particular by Guy Walters,[10] who maintains that Hitler and Braun died in the last days of World War II in Europe. Waters has described Dunstan & Williams' theory as "rubbish", adding: "There's no substance to it at all. It appeals to the deluded fantasies of conspiracy theorists". Waters contends "it is simply impossible to believe that so many people could keep such a grand scale deception so quiet", saying "no serious historian would give the story any credence".[11]

The authors contend there is no conclusive evidence that Hitler and Braun committed suicide in the bunker. There is no film footage nor reliable photos, and the corpse remains were clearly neither Hitler's nor Braun's. The surviving bunker "witnesses" who testified that the Hitlers had committed suicide had an interest to maintain that story. By contrast, in Grey Wolf, Dunstan and Williams provide: (i) evidence of sufficient infrastructure and looted riches to realise the escape plan; (ii) evidence of logistical support from Perón and from the Vatican, Switzerland, Spain for Nazis; (iii) confirmed records of U-boat landings off Patagonia; (iv) FBI documents revealing the USA's concern that Hitler might be alive in Argentina; and (arguably) the most convincing is (v) the written and recorded testimony of a significant number people in Argentina who say they met him or served him (as a nurse, cook, attendant, or former crew of the scuttled Graf Spee, etc), including Catalina Gomero, Hérnan Ancin and Jorge Colette. Others claim to have seen "Uschi" pushing her elderly mother Eva Braun in a wheelchair in an Argentinian city.[12]

After the release of the book, a controversial drama-documentary film Grey Wolf was produced by author Gerrard Williams in 2014, concluding with an extensive list of people who claimed to have seen Hitler in Argentina. The film garnered a mixed response. Also, separately, the involvement of the filmmakers with the Weavering Capital scandal attracted negative attention, with the movie's production involved with divisive financial disputes.[13][14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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". Mail Online (London: The Daily Mail). Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  2. ^ Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth, Brockhampton Press, pp. 22, 23. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8
  3. ^ "Hitler’s Final Days Revealed: Eyewitnesses Recount the Nazi’s Death in Unearthed Footage". The Daily Beast. 
  4. ^ MI5 staff (2011). "Hitler's last days". Her Majesty's Security Service website. Retrieved 24 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Joachimsthaler (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth, p. 28.
  6. ^ a b "FBI — Adolf Hitler Part 01 of 04 - File No 105-410". vault.fbi.gov. Retrieved 3 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Andrew Osborn in Moscow (28 September 2009). "Adolf Hitler suicide story questioned after tests reveal skull is a woman's". Telegraph.co.uk. 
  8. ^ Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography, p. 958. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6.
  9. ^ Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, 2011 Simon Dunstan & Gerrard Williams,
  10. ^ Dewsbury, Rick; Hall, Allan; Harding, Elanor (18 October 2011). "Did Hitler and Eva Braun flee Berlin and die (divorced) of old age in Argentina?". Mail Online (London: The Daily Mail). Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Harding, Anna (25 January 2014). "New book claims THIS picture proves Hitler escaped his Berlin bunker and died in South America in 1984 aged 95". Mail Online (London: The Daily Mail). Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, 2011 Simon Dunstan & Gerrard Williams,
  13. ^ "Magnus Peterson sentenced to 13 years in prison | Press room | SFO - Serious Fraud Office". SFO. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  14. ^ "Jailed Millionaire Fraudster In Hitler Movie Scam – Goldeneye Publishing". Goldeneyepublishingltd.wordpress.com. 2015-07-20. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 

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