Did Hitler Really Commit Suicide?

In the early hours of the 29th April 1945, Adolf Hitler walked into a map room in his bunker under the streets of a Berlin in ruins and married his long-time partner, Eva Braun Less than forty hours later, both he and Eva were dead, burned in the street

But in the chaos of Berlin in those final days of World War Two, it was difficult to confirm the identity of a charred corpse Ever since then, confusion has surrounded the remains Which has led to many people asking, did Hitler really commit suicide? The most reliable account of Hitler’s last days comes from those closest to him: secretary Traudl Junge and personal valet Heinz Linge By the 22nd of April it was clear that Germany would lose the war, as Soviet and American forces invaded Acknowledging this, Hitler asked his personal physician about a reliable and painless way to kill himself

He suggested taking cyanide, followed by a gunshot to the head By the 30th April, Berlin was surrounded and defeat was a certainty At 230pm Hitler and Eva withdrew to his personal study and settled on his sofa About an hour later, several witnesses heard a loud gunshot

An SS officer discovered the two bodies slumped on the sofa Braun died of cyanide poisoning According to Heinz Linge, “Hitler sat on the arm of the sofa with his head hanging down over the right shoulder… On the right side was a bullet hole” Another SS officer noted that a spent 765 cartridge was lying on the ground

This matched the make of Hitler’s personal firearm Both bodies were carried out of the bunker and burned, so they wouldn’t be paraded through the streets The charred remains were then buried in a shallow bomb crater by 630pm The remains were discovered by Soviet army intelligence on the 2nd May but Josef Stalin kept this secret

Over the next few days the burned bodies were buried and exhumed several times, seriously inhibiting the chances of a positive identification Historian Gerrard Williams says the couple found by Soviet forces were in fact body doubles, executed, burned and left to be found In January 2016, a team of former CIA investigators supported this theory Hitler is known to have had a body double for security reasons But those who knew Hitler say he had enormous respect for his double, and would not have executed him

Yet the belief that Hitler actually died that day in 1945 is based entirely on testimonies given after the fact Traudl Junge’s account was published in 1989, while Heinz Linge and other prominent Nazis gave their stories under interrogation by the Soviets A major piece of evidence for Hitler’s death is the body fragments kept in Moscow One of these was a skull fragment with a bullet hole, found in 1946 In 2009 the bone was analysed by the University of Connecticut

They concluded that the fragment belonged to a woman below the age of forty, instead of a man in his fifties Moscow says the piece of skull is not their main piece of evidence, however That honor goes to a piece of jawbone The assistant to Hitler’s dentist, Fritz Echtmann, confirmed that the jawbone matched Hitler’s, which included a dental bridge and recognizable tooth record But as of yet, there has been no independent analysis of the jawbone to corroborate his claim

And Echtmann could have been forced to say it, perhaps to conceal the truth But why are there even rumours of Hitler’s survival? Stalin is part responsible He adopted a policy of spreading disinformation to the West Initially the Soviets claimed Hitler had escaped and was being harboured by America as part of Operation Paperclip Stalin himself, when asked by President Harry Truman whether Hitler was dead, responded with a curt, “no”

In 1969, the Soviets published the official autopsy report It confirmed that Hitler was indeed dead But was it just another part of their disinformation campaign? The Russians destroyed all the records, remains and facilities involved in the autopsy, to prevent them becoming fodder for neo-Nazis In the seventy years since the end of the Second World War, Hitler’s final days have gained near-mythological status The lack of hard evidence, combined with the Soviets’ disinformation campaign, fuels rumours of his survival

Only those who were loyal enough to be allowed in the bunker know of Hitler’s final moments And they might be loyal enough to provide a cover story for his escape However, in April 1945, very few Nazis managed to escape Berlin, as the city was besieged by three nations’ armies And Adolf Hitler was the most wanted man in the world Perhaps people are just more willing to believe that the personification of evil would survive, instead of taking his own life to rob the world of justice

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