When Hitler committed suicide on 30th April 1945, he set in motion the detailed plan to dispose of Hitler’s body.
Hitler killed himself with a bullet to the head, shot by his own Walther PPK 7.5 pistol. Sensing imminent defeat in World War 2 and therefore his own demise, he married his longtime companion Eva Braun. She died by his side after biting a cyanide capsule.
After hearing the gun shot at 3.30pm, several witnesses recorded that Bormann and Heinz Linge (Hitler’s faithful valet) opened the door of Hitler’s private study and immediately smelt burnt almonds – a smell associated with cyanide.
On entering the study Otto Gunsche, an SS officer and one of Hitler’s personal assistants, described the scene inside. Hitler’s body was slumped on the couch and Eva was described as having her legs drawn up. Hitler “sat … sunken over, with blood dripping out of his right temple. He had shot himself with his own pistol, a Walther PPK 7.65.”
His gun was laid at his feet and another witness, Rochus Misch, Hitler’s bodyguard, described Hitler with his head lying on the table with a pool of blood dripping from his temple, down his chin, staining the couch and forming a growing red pool of blood on the carpet floor.
What happened to Hitler’s body?
In the event of his death, Hitler left instructions for what should happen to his body. He wrote the instructions in his last will and testament, signed the day before his death on 29th April.
In it, Hitler declared he would choose death over being captured and tried in a court. Hitler’s Will named Martin Bormann (his faithful secretary) as his executor and expressed his wish that his body should be cremated following his suicide.
In accordance to his instructions, the two bodies were carried out of the study, up the stairs and through the emergency exit that lead into the Reich Chancellery garden.
Then, Hitler’s and Eva’s bodies were doused in petrol and burned. After initial difficulty in getting the fire started, the bodies ignited and a group – Bormann, Günsche, Linge, Goebbels, Erich Kempka, Peter Högl, Ewald Lindloff, and Hans Reisser – gathered around and raised their arms in a final salute to their beloved Fuhrer.
The fire did not totally burn the bodies. This was due to the cremation taking place outdoors. So, in between the heavy Soviet shelling, more petrol was brought by SS guards. The bodies burned between the hours 16:00 – 18:30. After 18:30, Reisser and Lindoff covered what was left of the remains in a shallow bomb crater.
Discovering Hitler’s body
Fighting continued for a number of days after Hitler killed himself. On the morning of the 2nd May, however, the Soviets captured the Reich Chancellery and a couple of days later on the 4th May, the burnt remains of two bodies – one male, one female – were found in the garden.
The bodies were exhumed and secretly transported to SMERSH (the Red Army’s counter-intelligence agency) of the 3rd Assault Army in Buch, a district of Berlin. On May 11th, the jaw bone that was foud in the shallow crater was verified as Hitler’s. This was done by Hitler’s personal dentist and cross-referenced and confirmed via existing dental records.
In early June 1945, the bodies of Hitler, Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels were moved from Buch to Finow. Here, the SS guard that buried Hitler identified the remains as the very same remains found in the Chancellery garden.
The bodies were then buried in a forest in Brandenburg (outskirts of Berlin) on 3rd June, and finally exhumed and moved to the SMERSH unit’s new facility in Magdeburg.
In Magdeberg, the bodies were put in five non-descript wooden boxes and buried on 21 February 1946. That wasn’t their final resting place, however.
In 1970, the facility was swapped from SMERSH to the control of the KGB. Authorities grew concerned that, if known, the burial site of Hitler would become a shrine for neo-Nazis, and so the KGB director Yuri Andropov ordered that the remains be dug up again and destroyed.
On 4th April, 1970, the remains of the 10 or 11 bodies of high-ranking Nazis. They were described as being “in an advanced state of decay”. Hitler’s body was burned and crushed. The ashes thrown into the Biederitz river.
Did Hitler die?
Yes. There are many conspiracy theories floating around on the internet. A prominent one is that Hitler fled via plane and made it to Argentina where he lived long after the war.
This is false. After the war, the Soviets purposefully spread disinformation as to what happened to Hitler – including pedalling the Argentina story. They have since admitted to spreading false rumours and the information above regarding the dental records and subsequent burials/cremation have been corroborated