When And How Did Hitler Die?

We can assume that Hitler is no longer alive.  The oldest person that ever lived in history (that was verifiable) was a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122. She died in 1997, according to USA Today.

Hitler – born in 1887 – would be 128 today. It’s probably safe to assume that he’s no longer alive, but while there is a lot of information on his death from Russian autopsies, there is little that is third-party verifiable information.

So how – and when – Hitler died is a much more nebulous, cloudy event than whether or not he is dead.

During a military conference on April 22nd, 1945, Hitler was told that the Soviets had entered Berlin. He reportedly asked everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Hans Krebs, and Wilhelm Burgdorf to leave the conference room. After a tirade about the incompetence of his officers and officials, he declared that “everything was lost,” and he announced that he would stay in Berlin until the end and then shoot himself, writes Wikipedia.  Perhaps people took him at his word.

On April 29th, after marrying his longtime girlfriend Eva Braun, Hitler took secretary Traudl Junge to another room in the bunker and dictated his will.

A Russian soldier stands in Adolf Hitler's bunker, Berlin, 1945.
Inside Hitler’s Bunker

That event was witnessed and documents signed by Burgdorf, Goebbels, and Bormann, and Hans Krebs. Later that afternoon, Hitler was informed that Italian dictator Mussolini had been executed, which presumably increased his determination to avoid capture.

On April 30th, after intense street-to-street combat, when Soviet troops were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery building, Hitler reportedly shot himself and Braun chewed a cyanide capsule.

The bodies of Hitler and Braun were reportedly carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, where they were placed in a bomb crater and doused with gasoline. The corpses were set on fire as Soviet shelling continued, writes the British newspaper The Guardian.

Photos have been taken of these areas, but there are no photos of Hitler’s dead body.

In another area at the Chancellery, in an empty pond, a corpse was later discovered by Soviet troops that looked like Hitler, because it had a similar moustache and haircut.  It was mistakenly believed to be the body of Hitler, but it turned out to be Gustav Weler, who was Hitler´s double.

What happened to the burned corpse that was supposedly the real thing?

Records in the Russian-Soviet archives, obtained after the fall of the Soviet Union, state that the remains of Hitler, Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, the six Goebbels children, General Hans Krebs, and Hitler’s dogs were found and “repeatedly buried and exhumed.”

On May 2, 1945, Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko, a Soviet counter-intelligence officer, led a group of men to the Chancellery in Berlin after hearing reports of burned corpses, said to be those of Hitler and Eva Braun.  They were reportedly in wooden boxes where they were found by Soviet intelligence officers half-buried in the shell crater near the Berlin bunker, according to governmentsecrets.com.  This information reportedly comes from the book The Death of Adolf Hitler: Unknown Documents from Soviet Archives, by journalist Lev Bezymenski from 1968.

Journalist Ron Rosenbaum argues in his book Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil that the Soviet autopsy of Hitler cannot be accepted as authoritative because Hitler’s body was said to have been almost completely immolated after his suicide, states Wikipedia.

There were not sufficient remains for any proper analysis or findings to be conducted, writes Rosenbaum.  He states that based on information from Hitler’s own doctor and recollections by the people who compiled the published report, the Soviet autopsy report was a fabrication.  According to noted historian Ian Kershaw, the corpses of Eva Braun and Hitler were fully burned when the Red Army found them, and only a lower jaw with dental work could be identified as Hitler’s remains.

The Reich Chancellery Building

The fate of Hitler’s corpse has been shrouded in secrecy for decades.  No picture or film was ever made public, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

Lieutenant-General Vasily Khristoforov, the chief archivist at the Russian federal security service, has told the news group Interfax that the service believes Hitler’s remains were incinerated in 1970 and the ashes thrown into a river in East Germany, writes the British newspaper The Telegraph.

General Khristoforov said the move took place out of concern that the original grave in the east German town of Magdeburg could become a Nazi shrine, writes The Telegraph.

“It was not worth leaving any grounds for the rise of a cult of worship…there are people who profess the fascist ideology, regrettably even in Russia.”

He said that the security service had no reason to question the authenticity of the skull fragments in its possession, writes The Telegraph.

Khristoforov said, “Hitler’s jaw is at the FSB archives, the fragment of skull at the State Archive. These materials are the only documentary evidence of Hitler’s death.”

The skull fragment claimed to have been Hitler’s was preserved for decades by Soviet intelligence.  However, according to The Guardian, in 2009, American researcher Nick Bellantoni claims to have demonstrated that the skull fragment belonged to a woman under 40 with DNA analysis. The woman’s identity is unknown.

DNA analyses performed on the skull bone held by the Russian State Archive in Moscow were processed at the genetics lab of the University of Connecticut, writes The Guardian. The results – broadcast in the US by a History Channel documentary, Hitler’s Escape – were stunning.

According to Connecticut archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni, it was clear from the outset that something was wrong.  “The bone seemed very thin; male bone tends to be more robust,” he said. “And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40.”  In April 1945, Hitler turned 56.

Fragment of Adolf Hitler's skull

Bellantoni had flown to Moscow to inspect the questionable Hitler “trophies” at the State Archive, which included the skull fragment as well as bloodstains from the bunker sofa on which Hitler and Braun supposedly committed suicide.

Bellantoni was allowed only one hour with the Hitler artifacts, during which time he applied cotton swabs and took DNA samples, writes The Guardian.

The samples were then flown back to Connecticut. At the university’s center for applied genetics, Linda Strausbau worked exclusively on the Hitler project for three days.  “We used the same routines and controls that would have been used in a crime lab,” Strausbau said.

The skull DNA was undoubtably female, writes The Guardian.

(Updated article)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/6766845/Adolf-Hitler-skull-fragment-is-genuine-evidence-of-suicide-insists-Russia.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/27/adolf-hitler-suicide-skull-fragment

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19680803&id=WDsgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=5mUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7103,518535&hl=en

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