Moments In History
Hitler’s death still a mystery
BY FRANKLIN SCARBOROUGH
Adolf Hitler, if still alive, would be 110 years old.
Did the genocidal tyrant live out his life in some remote area of the world?
Or did he really die in his Berchtesgaden command post as allied soldiers stormed Berlin near the end of World War II?
That question has plagued Nazi hunters since that time. But there has never been conclusive evidence of a positive identification.
The European war was going badly for him and Germany was putting up its last resistance as April 1945 came in. Large headlines in The Salisbury Evening Post said such things as: “Nazis reel back on all fronts,” “Nazi cities fall like tenpins,” “Squeezing Berlin to death,” “Nazis reduced to guerrilla war,” “Nazis surrendering by the thousands.”
By April 30, the headlines read: “V. E. hour may come any moment.”
On Tuesday, May 1, 1945, The Post headline blared, “Hitler Is Dead.”
The Hamburg radio announcement said: “Adolf Hitler was killed this afternoon in his command post at the Reich’s chancellery in Berlin. The German dictator fought up to his last breath against bolshevism. Admiral Karl Doneitz, commander of the German navy, has succeeded Hitler.”
Doneitz announced: “German men and women, soldiers of the German army, our fuhrer Adolf Hitler has fallen. With deepest sorrow and reverence the German people bows. He had recognized the horrible danger of bolshevism very early and dedicated his existence to fight against it.”
On May 3, the paper said: “Hitler and Goebbels both suicides. Adolf Hitler, who vowed to rule the world, committed suicide in the ruins of Berlin with propaganda minister Paul Joseph Goebbels. Whether Hitler was a suicide or whether he was a victim of a brain hemorrhage, a possibility reported by supreme headquarters, there was little doubt among Allied leaders that the Fuhrer was indeed dead and that he had met death in a manner which would thwart any die-hard Nazi attempt to build a Wagnerian legend about him.
“A statement authorized by the Supreme Allied Command told of a secret meeting eight days ago at Luebeck, Germany, between Gestapo Chief Heinrich Himmler and Swedish Count Floke Bernadotte, reported peace go-between, at which Himmler was reported to have said, ‘Hitler is so ill he might already be dead.’
“Himmler was quoted as saying Hitler at that time could not live more than two days length. A German general named Schillenburg, who was present at the meeting, said Hitler had been stricken with a brain hemorrhage.”
A May 4 announcement said: “Hitler and Goering’s remains not found in chancellery flames.
“The Chancellery of the third reich in the Wilhelmstrasse has failed to yield the body of Hitler and now the building is burning,” a Red Star Dispatch from the German capital said today. The disclosure that the chancellery where Hitler had his offices was ablaze indicated that it might be difficult ever to prove that the Fuhrer committed suicide along with propaganda minister Goebbels, was the German report.
“The statement that the bodies were not found in the building, however, indicated that it had been searched, and strengthened the theory that if Hitler did kill himself it was not in the chancellery.”
May 7 stories said: “The greatest war in history ended today with the unconditional surrender of Germany.”
A May 10 report said four bodies had been found and any one could have been Hitler.
A May 23 report from Russian intelligence to the Supreme Headquarters said Hitler “died in a mercy killing.
“Hitler was paralyzed and insane with pain on the last five days of his life. The Russian said a physician gave Hitler an injection of some sort that put him to sleep forever, the official declared. The Supreme Headquarters official said he had learned from another doctor that Hitler had been taking several types of injections the last few years.”
A June 6 report said a body believed to be Hitler’s was found, and indicated death was brought on by poisoning.
“The body, smoke-blackened and charred, was one of four discovered in the ruins of the great underground fortress beneath the new Reich chancellery after the fall of Berlin. These four bodies, any one of which answered pretty well to Hitler’s description, were removed and carefully examined by Russian army physicians. All were badly burned from the flame throwers with which the Red army soldiers finally cleared out the underground command post where Hitler and his leading Nazis made their last ditch stand.
“After careful examination of teeth and other characteristics the Russians singled out one body which they believed almost certainly is that of the Nazi Fuhrer.
“Asked why no official announcement of the discovery has been made by Moscow, the Russian source said that as long as any element of uncertainty exists the Russians do not wish to state definitely that Hitler’s body has been found.
“It will be recalled, however, that Russian sources recently reported that Hitler died of an injection given him by his physician.”
There is not much doubt Hitler had planned an escape. On June 20, a report said a huge plane had been found.
“A huge four-engined plane which carried 30,000 gallons of gasoline has been found near Travemuende and German ground crews said they were ordered in the last week of the war to keep it ready to carry Hitler non-stop to Japan.”
A headline on July 17 said, “Seek Hitler and Eva in Argentina.”
“A spokesman said the embassy would look into the story, sent by a Chicago Times correspondent from Montevideo that the pair had reached a solitary section of the long Argentina coast by submarine and are living on a huge German-owned estate in Patagonia. It was pointed out that Argentina has given assurance to the other Allied governments that it would refuse to harbor any Axis war criminals.”
The next day an AP report said, “ Hitler rumor has him in Antarctic. Tales of escape linked with Nazi U-boats at large. Adolf Hitler, variously reported dead or escaped to one place or another, was brought back in the news today by a report that he had taken up residence on an island in the Antarctic.
“The broadcast said that Hitler and Eva Braun had taken refuge on Queen Maude island, a former base for German Antarctic explorers after being landed by the submarine U-530, which surrendered last week to Argentine authorities.”
All the reported facts still leave one wondering what really happened to Hitler.
A reporter named James Marlow wrote a column that said:
“We’d better find Hitler —dead or alive — and be sure it is Hitler. If not we’ll probably have to put up with a Hitler myth for years to come.
“You can see it now. Screwballs will be jumping off buildings, or under trains, or dying in flophouses after scrawling a note like this: ‘I sure fooled everybody. Adolf H.’ ”
MAYBE HE WAS PICKED UP IN ONE OF THESE AND TAKEN TO ANOTHER PLANET?