With two degrees in history, I enjoy researching and writing about historical events that the history books tend to gloss over.
In 1945, 50 feet below the gardens of the Reich Chancellery building in Berlin, sat the Führerbunker, a luxurious air-raid shelter that came equipped with its own heating, water, and electricity. The bunker is where Adolf Hitler spent his last 105 days of life. While Hitler lived a relatively normal life underground holding meetings and going about his daily business, even getting married to Eva Braun, the Red Army was quickly closing in.
The day after the couple married, April 30, 1945, they committed suicide together. Or did they? For over 70 years, there has been a belief shared by many that Hitler escaped Berlin and lived out the remainder of his years as a free man. Through the years, like Schrödinger's cat, Hitler has been both alive, beginning with Operation Myth, and dead according to official American reports, with compelling arguments for each; yet only one answer is true, after DNA and osteological testing and scientific examination, the answer to this question is that he committed suicide in 1945.
Hitler Sightings After WWII
Through the years, there have been reported sightings of Adolf Hitler all over the world. More recently a program titled Hunting Hitler on A&E Network investigated the possibility that Hitler had not committed suicide but had escaped through an elaborate pre-planned route and lived out his life in Argentina attempting to establish the Fourth Reich. Admittedly, there has been compelling evidence presented through stories, books, and documentaries. It is enough to make the most hardened skeptic doubt him/herself.
However, in viewing scientific, historical, and DNA reports, there is a very good possibility that while some of his top officials may have escaped and tried to establish the Fourth Reich in Argentina, it is more certain that Hitler did in fact commit suicide in his bunker in 1945 along with his wife Eva Braun.
The Reich Chancellery
Hitler’s opulent Reich Chancellery building was constructed in the heart of Berlin just years before the war began. Berlin was intended to be a world capital when Germany and the Nazi Reich took their place as world leaders with the Chancellery building as headquarters. What eventually became the Führerbunker began as an air raid shelter in 1936.
Later it was extended into a large complex during the last stages of the war. It was there that Hitler retreated as Nazi Germany collapsed all around him. His last emergence from the bunker was to hand out Iron Crosses to Hitler Youth and SS members in the Chancellery Garden. After that, he would not be seen alive above ground again.
May 1, 1945
Late in the evening of May 1, 1945, German State Radio announced the death of Adolf Hitler. It would be a week before the manner of death was announced. Hitler had taken his own life by means of cyanide poisoning and a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the head. This act was of no surprise to those still living and working in the bunker. Rochus Misch, an Oberscharführer in the 1st SS Panzer Division, recalls that Hitler had said goodbye in the corridor before his final retreat into his rooms. Misch remarks that the Nazi commanders had wanted to evacuate Hitler, but he refused to leave Berlin.
Misch and a few fellow officers later opened the door to Hitler's rooms, where they saw his body slumped over the table and that of his wife lying next to him. The men removed the bodies and cremated them in the Chancellery gardens. However, this fate is not one that has been readily accepted by the world. Many have believed that Hitler did in fact escape Berlin as his commanders had urged.
When the Red Army reported what they had found upon entering the bunker, they found it deserted. After Hitler’s men had removed the bodies of the Führer and Eva Braun and attempted to cremate them, they then buried them in the Chancellery garden. On May 5, 1945, the Russians located the bodies. While the Russian army knew that Hitler was dead, Stalin had ordered the findings to be suppressed. He wanted to create uncertainty by spreading rumors that Hitler had escaped Germany.
Kathe Heusermann, the assistant to Hitler's personal dentist, had examined the teeth of Hitler's remains and compared them with the records held by his personal dentist. They were a match. Heusermann then entrusted the dental remains to Elena Rzhevskaya, her Russian interpreter for safe keeping. Miss Rzhevskaya in turn kept the teeth hidden as she feared for her life. This was a very real fear as Stalin sentenced Heusermann to prison for her discovery in order to keep her quiet. Such was the beginning of “Operation Myth.”
Stalin was adamant about preserving the myth that Hitler had escaped and sailed to Argentina. He remarked, "The capitalist encirclement continues.” Stalin perpetuated a myth that many still believe to this very day. In 2009, a team of American scientists determined that the skull fragment held by the Russian State archive was that of a woman that was younger than 40 years old. This finding only fueled the conspiracy.
However, recent osteological and morphological scientific analysis as reported in the European Journal of Internal Medicine stated that the skull fragment and jaw bone are unequivocally those of Adolf Hitler, who did commit suicide in 1945.
The Death of Adolf Hitler
Through the years, like Schrödinger's cat, Hitler has been both alive, beginning with Operation Myth, and dead according to official American reports, with compelling arguments for each; yet only one answer is true. After DNA and osteological testing and scientific examination, the answer to the question is that he committed suicide in 1945. The subject of his death or escape has been a tantalizing mystery for many through the years. Most remaining evidence of the bunker and chancellery building has been destroyed.
Today, a small parking lot rests atop what used to be the site of the Führerbunker. Further, only a small plaque marks the historical significance of the area. The Allies, Russians, and the German people have all had a hand in dismantling Hitler’s last-known address and contributing to the mystery that surrounded his suicide by destroying evidence. Yet now the curtain has been lifted and the physical remains of Hitler have been examined. It has been determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did in fact die in 1945. One of the most despised men in history is no longer a threat and was laid to rest over 70 years ago.
Charlier, P., R. Weil, P. Rainsard, J. Poupon, and J.c. Brisard. "The Remains of Adolf Hitler: A
Biomedical Analysis and Definitive Identification." European Journal of Internal Medicine 54 (May 2018). doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2018.05.014.
Deutsche Welle. "The Last Witness Recalls: I Saw Hitler Dead | DW | 30.04.2005." DW.COM.
Accessed June 09, 2019. https://www.dw.com/en/the-last-witness-recalls-i-saw-hitler-dead/a-1569764.
Goñi, Uki. "Tests on Skull Fragment Cast Doubt on Adolf Hitler Suicide Story." The Guardian.
September 26, 2009. Accessed June 09, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/27/adolf-hitler-suicide-skull-fragment.
Huggler, Justin. "Adolf Hitler Suicide 70 Years On: What Became of Nazi Leader's
Bunker." The Telegraph. April 30, 2015. Accessed June 09, 2019. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/11572345/Adolf-Hitler-suicide-70-years-on-what-became-of-Nazi-leaders-bunker.html.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
Linge, Mary Kay. "How the Woman Who Identified Hitler's Dental Remains Ended up in
Prison." New York Post. July 15, 2018. Accessed June 09, 2019. https://nypost.com/2018/07/14/how-the-woman-who-identified-hitlers-dental-remains-ended-up-in-prison/.
Vennard, Martin. "Death of Hitler: How the World Found out from the BBC." BBC News. May
20, 2018. Accessed June 09, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44131106.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2020:
This is a very interesting article about Hitler and the myths. Thanks for explaining all the evidence.
Binoy from Delhi on September 10, 2020:
Very interesting article. Thanks
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 10, 2020:
The death of Hitler thought puzzling and mysterious, will still linger as a question? Like who kill John F. Kennedy, it ever remain a mystery. A man who took a cynade, and then shot himselve would provide witness. Could the DNA and osteoporosis tests be enough? Many of Hitlers officers that escaped were still on wanted list. Your article is interesting and I believe more research had to be dond. Thanks for sharing.
Brandy R Williams (author) from West Virginia on September 10, 2020:
I'm glad you enjoyed the article!
Virginia Kearney from United States on September 10, 2020:
Thanks for this interesting article and for the attached sources which were a fascinating read as well.