Adolf Hitler

and Survival Legends 

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Some of the theories/ variations include:

1. He ate poison and shot himself at the same time.
2. He ate poison, but didn't shoot himself.
3. He shot himself, but didn't take poison.
4. One of Hitler's supposed "doubles" was killed, creating the illusion Hitler was dead, allowing the "real" Adolf Hitler to escape.
5. Somebody else killed Hitler.


Much speculation concerning the nature of Hitler's demise was created by the contradictions in the various "eyewitness" accounts of the death of Hitler and Eva Braun and the disposal of their bodies.

For example Hitler's butler Linge, on February 9. 1956, stated:

When we came into the living room Bormann and I saw the following. The bodies of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were in a seated position on the sofa standing against the wall opposite the door from the antechamber.

Bunker insider Otto Günsche, who entered Hitler's room immediately after Linge and Bormann, gave the following description on June 20, 1956:

Eva Braun was lying on the sofa standing against the wall opposite the door from the antechamber. Hitler himself sat in an armchair standing to the left and slightly forward--as seen from the antechamber--but very close to the sofa.

Why the difference in accounts: Hitler and Eva on the couch, or Eva on the couch, and Hitler in the chair. Did someone move Hitler, after death, from the chair to the couch? Did one or the other of these witnesses lie, and, if so, why?

Supposed eye-witnesses offered different statements as to WHERE Hitler shot himself.

On September 2, 1955, frequent Bunker visitor Axmann stated:

Based on the signs I found, I had to assume that Adolf Hitler had shot himself in the mouth. For me the chin, which was pushed to the side, and the blood trails on the temples caused by an internal explosion in the head, all pointed to this. Later the same day SS-Sturmbannführer Günsche confirmed my assumption. I stick to my statement based on the signs I saw, that Adolf Hitler shot himself in the mouth.

Günsche, however, in his June 20, 1956 testimony stated:

The head was canted (tilted) slightly forward to the right. I noticed an injury to the head slightly above the outer end of the angle of the right eyelid. I saw blood and a dark discoloration. The whole thing was about the size of an old three mark piece"


Linge, on February 9, 1956, stated:

I then went into the antechamber to Hitler's room, where I found the door to his room closed and smelt powder smoke.

Günsche, in his testimony stated:

After Hitler and Eva Braun had withdrawn I took up a position in front of Hitler's rooms. I then saw--I did not hear a shot--Linge open the door to Hitler's office and Linge and Bormann go inside, I thereupon immediately went into the antechamber myself.

Günsche found Hitler dead from a gunshot wound, and Braun poisoned.

But, if Günsche was right outside the door, why didn't he hear Hitler shoot himself? Were the doors/walls that thick? Did a Russian artillery shell explosion outside mask the sound? Did Linge or Bormann quickly shoot Hitler, WITH A SILENCED PISTOL, before Günsche entered?


The burning of the bodies was also witnessed by several men who were on guard duty on the garden side of the bunker. They were Hofbeck, Karnau, and Mansfield. Each offer their contrasting memories of the event.

Hofbeck, who was on guard at the door of the garden exit, stated on November 25, 1995:


Linge, Günsche and Kempka immediately poured petrol over the bodies. I had previously seen some of the cans they used standing on the topmost turn of the staircase. I don't know how much petrol was used, but it was probably at least five, but no more than ten, cans full. While this was being done, I was the one who let Kempka, Gunsche and Linge in and out of the exit by opening and shutting the door for an instant each time. At the time there was again heavy firing going on. After the cans had been emptied, Dr. Göbbels, Bormann, General Krebs, General Burgdorf and Schadle as well as Kempka each stepped outside the bunker door for a short moment and saluted the dead by raising their right arms.


Everybody involved then quickly returned to the bunker, whereupon I again shut the door. Immediately after this Bormann handed up a box of matches from the top turning of the staircase, which Günsche, Linge or Kempka took. Kempka then wet a rag with petrol. Either he or Günsche lit this rag and Günsche threw it on the bodies, for which purpose I again opened the door. At this moment, the artillery fire had slackened. Through the partially opened door of the bunker we then saw a huge flame rising up, followed immediately by heavy smoke.


After the bodies had been set alight, all the people mentioned above returned to the interior of the Bunker. I remained on guard and again opened the door a short time later, which however was only possible for a brief moment because heavy petrol fumes and smoke blew towards me. There was a wind blowing towards the exit. On opening the door I could see that the bodies were still burning. I had the impression that they had shrunk together. On both bodies the knees were drawn up somewhat.


Being very much moved by this experience, I gave over my post to one of my subordinates. At 2200 I again had a look out of the door of the bunker. However, there was nothing left to be seen of the bodies...


Hermann Karnau described the burning on November 13, 1953:


When I came near the garden exit, I chanced upon two bodies lying next to each other in the open about 2 to 2.5m from the exit. I immediately recognized one of these bodies as Adolf Hitler. It was lying on its back wrapped in a blanket. The blanket was folded open on both sides of the upper body, so that the head and chest were uncovered. The skull was partially caved in and the face encrusted in blood. The face, however, could still be clearly recognized. The second corpse was lying with its back upwards. It was completely covered by the blanket except for the lower legs. The lower legs were uncovered up to the knees. On the feet I recognized Eva Hitler's shoes, which were familiar to me from frequent encounters in the Bunker. These were black suede shoes.


Mansfield was questioned on July 1, 1954 about what he had seen of the events of April 30, 1945.


He stated that he had to leave his post in order to fetch his equipment from the guard's day room in the bunker and described how he saw two bodies being carried up the stairs and laid on the ground near the bunker exit. He clearly recognized Eva Braun but did not recognize Hitler, owing to the body being wrapped in a blanket.


Mansfield further related:


Through the window looking towards the bunker exit I saw several men of the Leibstandarte-- I believe I recall that one of them was Jansen-- running towards the garden exit from the Old Chancellery. The men were carrying petrol cans. I immediately closed the shutter of the window looking towards Unter den Linden in order to continue my observations. When I opened the shutter, however, heavy clouds of smoke blew towards me, so I quickly closed it again without having seen anything. Shortly after that I again opened the shutter of the window looking towards the garden exit and now saw that the bodies were burning brightly. I also saw several cans of petrol being thrown out of the bunker exit to land near the bodies. There were no people to be seen.

During the afternoon of 30 April 1945 - it was probably between 1500 and 1600hrs - Günsche and Linge came and took six to eight cans away again. Nothing was said then either...

From this testimony we can see that, before the cremation of the bodies began on the afternoon of 30 April 1945, there were between eight to ten cans of petrol of 20 litres each in the machine room of the bunker, in addition to the cans standing in the garden exit of the bunker. But that was not all there was.

In his statement on 24 November 1954 (already quoted from above), guard Maximilian Kölz said:

Shortly after this [after he had seen Hitler's and Eva Braun-Hitler's bodies being carried out of the bunker on 30 April 1945], when I was again standing at the top of the staircase [at the main entrance to the Führerbunker], petrol cans were repeatedly carried downstairs from the upper bunker to the central corridor. Who was carrying the cans I do not recall; Günsche and Linge were not involved in any case. It was clear to me, that this petrol would be used to burn Hitler's corpse. . .

Another member of the bodyguard, SS-Obersturmführer Johann Bergmüller, confirmed on 30 April 1954 in Munich that after Hitler's death several cans of petrol were brought from the upper bunker to the central corridor of the Führerbunker:

... soon after this [i.e. after the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun-Hitler had been carried upstairs] several men came from the upper bunker, each carrying two cans of petrol—these were normal petrol cans—through the central corridor of the lower bunker in the direction of the garden exit. I knew these people by sight as being drivers from the vehicle park of the Chancellery . . .

While there are some discrepancies in these testimonies, we can still summarise that, at the time when the cremation of the bodies began, there was apparently much more petrol available than has previously generally been assumed. And, as Kempka also stated, during the course of the late afternoon of 30 April 1945 'further petrol' to continue the cremation was demanded and provided. Kempka said:

When I returned to the bunker from burning the bodies in the garden, Rattenhuber.. .asked me to provide further petrol with which to continue the cremation, which I agreed to do. From the Führerbunker I immediately gave the appropriate order to SS-Hauptsturmführer Schneider by telephone. When in the course of the afternoon I returned to the bunker near the garages, Schneider reported to me that he had carried out my orders. I do not know how much petrol was involved .

This would tie in with Mansfeld's statement, that while he was on guard duty in the observation tower during the afternoon of 30 April he observed 'several men of the Leibstandarte . . . running towards the garden exit from the Old Chancellery' with cans of petrol.

It is interesting to note at this point that in 1950 Kempka, who previously had always talked about a lack of petrol, wrote in his book Ich habe Adolf Hitler verbrannt (page 117):

The cremation lasted from about 1400 to approximately 1930 in the evening. Under the most difficult conditions, I had had my men fetch several hundred [!] additional litres of petrol during the afternoon ...

SS-Hauptsturmführer Schneider, the supervisor of the garages, had stated that, when Günsche originally ordered him to provide petrol, he had only been able to supply eight cans, because that was all he had available. However, that was not all the petrol there was in the vicinity of the Chancellery and the Führerbunker. Hans Fritzsche, Director and Head of the Radio Department in Göbbels' Propaganda Ministry, made the following statement on 5 February 1948 in Nuremberg:

May I add something at this point? I know that many people have debated the question whether it was possible to cremate Hitler's and Eva Braun's corpses with only 180 litres of petrol. I do not understand this objection at all, because during the final weeks in Berlin I had more petrol available to me than during the whole of the war. It had been brought over from the airports that had had to be evacuated. And I had 20 to 30 or even more barrels filled with petrol in the garden of the Propaganda Ministry. On 27 or 28 April I called the Chancellery and asked if they needed petrol because I had so much and actually thought it could be a bit dangerous. Those in the Chancellery told me, 'We have too much ourselves.' I then had the barrels taken to the Tiergarten through Voss-strasse in order to get rid of them. When the Russians later brought me to the garden near the Führerbunker, I saw with my own eyes many cans standing about.

Anton Joachimsthaler,
The Last Days of Hitler
The Legends - The Evidence - The Truth




Hugh Thomas, in his book The Murder of Adolf Hitler, puts forth a theory about Hitler's death that MAY explain various Bunker resident's contradictory statements about where the fatal gun wound was located, as well as why no shot was heard.


As Thomas paints the scene:

He (Hitler) is still shuffling around the anteroom when Linge returns. Linge... offers him a cyanide capsule from a small brass case, and the use of the Army pistol that Linge withdraws from the drawer of a table. Staring blankly and uncomprehendingly at his manservant, Hitler calls him a 'stupid peasant' and turns his back."


Linge picks up the cyanide capsule and vainly tries to force it into Hitler's mouth from behind--forcing the mouth open by closing his powerful middle finger and thumb across the Führer's mouth, from side to side in the cheek pouch. Despite his feeble state, Hitler manages to turn his head away from the strong grip and lower his head. Linge's increasingly violent efforts can't succeed, even though he is by now half facing the Führer.


But the affront has been made, the first act of violence committed. Savagely Linge turns the prematurely aged man around and throttles (strangles) him from behind. Terrified, he holds up the Führer in front of him while the frothing stops and struggles cease.


He is still holding the corpse almost at arm's length, when Stumpfegger comes into the room... Stumpfegger beckons Linge to lay the corpse down on the floor. Checking that Hitler is dead, he reaches in his pocket and produces an ampule-crushing forceps. The cyanide capsule is quickly and professionally crushed under Hitler's protruding tongue.




With the Russians, marching through Berlin and almost literally at the door, the surviving Bunker personnel had a very limited time to dispose of Hitler's body, in accordance with his specific orders and/or instructions. Unlike Mussolini, Hitler did not want the Russians/Allies to have access to his recognizable corpse after death, for display/mutilation/desecration.


Here are some supposed eyewitness accounts of key Bunker observers/participants concerning the final disposal of Hitler's lifeless body:


According to Linge, once the bodies had been brought up into the garden (of the Chancellory) Linge, Günsche and Kempka began the cremation. Linge stated on February 10, 1956:

The petrol which had been provided was then immediately poured over the bodies (of Hitler and Braun). Besides myself, Günsche and Kempka took part in this. I emptied two cans. I do not know how many cans Gunsche and Kempka emptied. Because of the heavy shelling, it was not possible to ignite the petrol directly. The surrounding buildings were burning and shells were coming in thick and fast. Standing in the exit from the bunker, I therefore twisted a piece of paper into a spill which Bormann lit with a match and which I then threw.


I do not recall whether others also attempted to ignite the petrol. In any case, I did not see a piece of cloth. When the petrol caught fire, a gigantic flame shot upwards. We then observed the cremation through a slit in the closed bunker door. One thing that stuck in my mind is that within a very short while one of Eva Hitler's knees was lifted up. One could see that the flesh of the knee was already being roasted. About eight minutes after the cremation began I went back downstairs. Before that, all of those present in the exit from the Bunker had given Adolf Hitler a final salute. I did not make any observations about the further progress of the fire. I did not return to the site of the fire, nor did I learn anything from the other sources...


By contrast, Kempka, recalling these same events on December 2, 1953 recounted:

There were several cans of petrol standing inside the exit from the bunker. I immediately picked up one of these cans, went back outside and poured the contents over Adolf Hitler, after I had moved his left arm, which was extended sideways, closer to the body. I then jumped back into the exit and then emptied two further cans over Adolf Hitler and Eva Hitler, while Günsche
and Linge were similarly engaged. While this was going on, the garden was still under very heavy fire. In the bunker exit we then discussed how to light the petrol. Günsche suggested throwing a hand-grenade, which I rejected. We then found a large rag lying next to the fire hoses in the exit. Günsche picked this rag up. I opened a can still standing in the exit and wet this rag with petrol.


Dr. Göbbels handed me a box of matches. I lit the rag. Günsche threw the burning rag on to Adolf and Eva Hitler. They immediately caught fire, which burst into a mighty flame. After we had saluted, we followed Göbbels back into the bunker. I was not personally involved in the continuation of the cremation nor did I make any personal observations with regard to this...


Günsche, the third person involved in setting fire to the bodies, stated on June 21, 1956:

When I turned back towards the bunker exit after I had put the body of Eva Braun down, Kempka and Linge had already stepped out with open cans of petrol in their hands. We three then poured petrol onto the bodies; it is possible all of the nine or ten cans that had been provided--these were Army cans holding 20 liters and they were filled to the top--were emptied. Lighting the petrol presented a problem because of the heavy shelling. Attempts with matches failed. I then considered using a stick grenade which was available. While I was unscrewing the cap I saw that Linge had already made a paper spill which Bormann was in the process of lighting, Bormann then immediately threw this spill outside, whereupon the Bunker door was closed. While the door was closing, a bright flare of fire could just be seen. I then remained in the exit for a short while, and I again ordered Hofbeck not to let anyone in or out. Subsequently I, like all the others, went back into the bunker. Before leaving, each of us saluted, some from outside the exit from the Bunker, others from inside...




What now actually became of Hitler's body? To what extent was it burned? Did the Russians find anything resembling a corpse? The burning of a corpse in the open is not of course comparable to a cremation in a crematorium, and not even to the burning of a body or parts of a body in a stove such as occurs from time to time in criminal cases.


During a cremation, the enveloping heat reflected from the walls of the oven leads to the intensive destruction of organic matter. If a corpse is burned in the open, as was the case with Hitler and Eva Braun-Hitler, the distribution of heat varies and consequently so does the depth of destruction, besides which much heat is lost by radiation into the atmosphere. When a human body is burned in the open by means of petrol, the first thing that burns off is the extraneous petrol, which causes a strong heating up of the corpse. Then, because they act like a wick, the fire spreads to the clothes, which burn away more or less quickly depending on the nature and structure of the fabric.


When the open flames then act directly on the body surface for a longer period of time, the final result is carbonization. During the process, steam forms in the subcutaneous tissue and in the course of the burning the pressure can rise dramatically, so that the body surface bursts open in many places, like an overheated frozen burrito. The skull can also burst from the same effect. The heat causes the protein in the cells of the muscles to congeal, which then contract. This leads to contortions of the arms or the lifting up and contracting of the upper body and legs, which stay in this position because of posthumous heat rigor mortis, which is called the "fencer's stance."


The heat causes the body fat to melt and the fatty acids released to run out of the gashes in the skin. Because of the major loss of water and fat, the carbonated corpse or torso shrinks to a substantial degree. If the burning continues for an extended period of time, the soft tissue is almost completely consumed. The only thing remains is fragile, calcified bones that can easily disintegrate even without external force being applied. As a result, it is very unlikely that anything resembling a human corpse remained following Adolf Hitler's post-mortem burning.


According to Günsche:

That Adolf Hitler was not completely burnt up with the help of the petrol is correct. The remains were scattered and shell fire did the rest... The heavy artillery and napalm fire went on until 2 May. Nothing was left that could point to Hitler... Often I can only shake my head about the claims of so-called witnesses, some of whom were not even there and are only repeating hearsay from others as their own observations. Maybe such claims, which were made immediately after the end of the war and have been repeated in various versions, are the answer to the fact that no one was in a position to prove what was left of the Führer's corpse and where this could be seen. None of the reports about this can be proved: they are falsification... The destruction of the Führer's corpse and that of his wife was complete through various causes.


Therefore, it is most likely nonsense that the Russians, as they claimed several weeks after his death, ever found Hitler's body/corpse. To this day the Russians have not presented a single piece of evidence that they found Hitler's corpse. Where are the authentic photographs? Where is the allegedly lead-lined box with Hitler's identifiable corpse? Why was this not shown to the German witnesses the Russians had captured? Even though in 1945--and during their reconstruction of the events in 1946--the Russians kept telling Linge, Günsche, Baur, Hofbeck, Henschel and the others that they would be "confronted with Hitler's body," they never showed it to any of these people.


Flugkapitän Hans Baur said on November 24, 1995:

After we arrived in Berlin, I was interrogated by a Commissar I already knew called Krause (Klausen), who had come with us from Moscow. This Commissar held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel . He told me that it was now high time to decide what to do with the corpses. We would be shown the bodies and should say whether we recognized any features which could indicate the identity of Hitler or Eva Braun. Up to now the bodies had been preserved. It was now time to decide if this should remain so or whether they should be destroyed. A confrontation with the corpses did not take place, however...


The only person who claimed to have seen Hitler's corpse is Harry Mengershausen. He recalled that, in early June 1945, an inspection of "the place" where Hitler's corpse had allegedly been buried took place. The crater had been dug up. We must remember that the garden of the Chancellory and the area around the bunker was a huge field of craters. That Mengershausen spoke of a specific crater is already an indication that he was lying. Mengershausen goes on to say that in early July he was taken from the prison in Friedrichshagen to an open pit in woods nearby in order to identify three corpses. Each of the corpses was by itself in a "small wooden casket." The corpses had been those of Hitler and Herr and Frau Göbbels. Mengershausen claims to have "clearly recognized" Hitler by the shape of the head, the distinctive shape of the nose and the missing feet. "From the distance" he had not been able to see if Hitler's jaw had still been there. The whole "viewing of the bodies" had lasted for less than two minutes.


Once again, Mengershausen is telling a story--in great detail as usual--that simply does not fit the circumstances. It is impossible that Mengershausen was able to detect the "distinctive shape of Hitler's nose." The nose, like all the other soft tissues of the face, the torso and the extremities, must surely have burned away during the relatively long cremation process. A skull that is exposed to strong heat can preserve its bony shape for quite some time, but not its distinctive features, which it takes from the soft tissue of the face.


There was another witness available in 1945, who had been as closely involved in the final phase of the destruction of Adolf Hitler's and Eva Braun's bodies as Harry Mengershausen, if not more closely. This witness was Hermann Karnau, who was a prisoner of the British. On November 13, 1953, Karnau recounted:

In November 1945 I was taken from Esterwegwn to Berlin. Here I was told by an officer of the Secret Service that I was to lend a hand in the local search for Hitler's remains. However, this did not take place because of the refusal of the Russians.




Because of the fact that Hitler's corpse was never found, rumors, stories and myths have proliferated since the end of World War Two. For many years after the end of World War Two there were more sightings of Hitler, alive in South America, than of Elvis at Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in the deep South.


Certainly the fires of rumor were fanned by the fact that Stalin informed Truman, Byrnes and Leahy over lunch in Potsdam on July 17, 1945 that "Hitler had escaped." Keep in mind, this is the same Stalin who also claimed that the Russians had possession of Hitler's corpse. He also claimed, or Russian KGB files claimed, that Hitler was captured alive, taken to the Soviet Union, and held in a prison/hospital for many years.

So, at one time or another, Stalin/the Russians claimed:

A. Hitler escaped alive from Berlin.

B. Hitler's corpse was found and seized by the Russians.
C. Hitler, alive, was transported to the Soviet Union and kept there, secretly, for years.

Talk about covering all the options. The only concept that the Russians didn't put forth was: a guy named Adolf Hitler never existed.

CONCLUSION - Is Hitler Alive?

The fact that Hitler died in his Bunker is almost certain, despite the lack of provable physical evidence to this effect. It is also quite likely that Hitler did not die by his own hand. There is reason to believe that Hitler, unable to bring himself to commit suicide, and with the Russians almost at the door, was killed, possibly by his Butler Linge, in order that the remaining Bunker residents might attempt to escape from the advancing Russians.

While it will never be proven with certainty, it certainly would be poetic justice for Adolf Hitler, the most powerfully evil man of the 20th Century, to be strangled to death by his "faithful" servant.

Ironically, the answer to one of the most intriguing deaths/murders of the century, may indeed be: the Butler!


In Whodunits, it's "the butler did it." Who did it first?

The Soviet historian, Lew Alexandrowitsch Besymenski, who examined secret Soviet archives refers in
The Death of Adolf Hitler to a 1947 US army intelligence report as concluding that:

None other than Günsche (arrested by the Russians) went into the Führer's room and shot him in the head with his Walther revolver, calibre 7.65. At this time, Hitler was already dead.

Data Sources include: The Last Days of Adolf Hitler, by Anton Joachimsthaler, translated by Helmet Bogler, Arms & Armour Press (1996); The Murder of Adolf Hitler, by Hugh Thomas, St. Martin's Press (1995)