DID HITLER SURVIVE THE BATTLE OF BERLIN?
(Investigator 145, 2012
The conspiracy theory that Adolf Hitler survived the Battle of Berlin
and escaped is making a comeback. The book is Grey Wolf — The
Escape of Adolf Hitler (2011) by Simon Dunstan & Gerrard
Magazine and newspaper articles about Hitler's possible escape to South
America by submarine were common after World War II.
Religious-cult founder Herbert Armstrong, in his Plain Truth
magazine, published similar speculations in the 1960s to support his
prophecies that the Third Reich would be resurrected in the 1970s as
the Fourth Reich.
The historical conclusion, however, is that Hitler and his bride Eva
Braun committed suicide about 3.45 pm, April 30th, 1945, in his Berlin
Bunker when Russian forces were only 400 metres away.
Grey Wolf has plenty of detail, footnotes, and claims about
secret passages, Swiss bank accounts, and Vatican involvement. And
that's the problem — the book is thick on speculation but thin on facts
relevant to the escape thesis. According to the authors (a filmmaker
and a television journalist) Hitler, Eva and Blondi the Alsatian went
by airplane and submarine to Argentina where Hitler fathered two kids
with Eva and died in 1962.
The newsreel of Hitler on his birthday (April 20th) inspecting a row of
Hitler Youth outside the Bunker is, according to the authors, a fake
starring a Hitler look-alike. To back this up they quote the opinion of
a medical professor. The real Hitler and Eva supposedly left Berlin on
April 28th and were replaced with doubles whose murder Martin Bormann
(Hitler's trusted secretary) arranged on April 30th.
The escape thesis if accepted means that all historians who specialized
in Adolf Hitler — who even chronicled the Battle of Berlin and Hitler's
direction of it day by day — got it wrong.
The scholars include Antony
Beevor, Alan Bullock, John Erickson, Anton Joachimsthaler, Ian Kershaw,
Werner Maser, Joachim Rest, William Shirer, Tony Le Tissier, Hugh
Trevor-Roper. The book Hitler's Last Days (Joachimsthaler, 2000
edition) has chapters titled: The Final Months, Days and Hours (ch.3),
The Suicides (Ch.4), Disposal of the Bodies (Ch.5), Odontological
The Americans, British and Russians netted thousands of Nazis after the
war. Many personnel of Hitler's Bunker who had interacted with Hitler
were captured, imprisoned and repeatedly interrogated for up to 11
years. Today we have websites that list the Bunker staff, the hour they
last saw Hitler, and how long the Allies held them captive.
On April 30th 2.30 a.m. Hitler personally said goodbye to about 20
staff gathered in the main passage of the Bunker.
General Wilhelm Mohnke who knew Hitler personally and was in charge of
defending central Berlin reported to Hitler at 6 a.m. April 30th. At
noon General Weidling who was in overall command of the defence of
Berlin briefed Hitler that Soviet troops were storming the Reichstag
(the Parliament building). Mohnke was also present again. Could a
substitute for Hitler have fooled generals who knew Hitler?
And there were others — eyewitnesses. The chief of Hitler's bodyguard,
Hans Rattenhuber, was called to Hitler's room at 10 p.m. on the 29th
(and tried to persuade him to leave Berlin) and was present in the
Bunker on the 30th. Secretary Else Krueger was present. So was Hitler's
chauffeur who, at 2.30 p.m., 30th April, was ordered to get 200 litres
of petrol for the cremation.
The great, final Russian onslaught with 2½ million troops began
on April 16th and on the 20th the battlefront reached Berlin's eastern
On the 23rd all services began to break down – public transport,
distribution, deliveries, refrigeration, telegraph (the final note was
from Tokyo wishing Berlin good luck), fire brigades, gas, electricity,
etc. Law and order also broke down because the police joined the troops
in the fight for the outer suburbs. Plundering and looting occurred
everywhere including of shops, department stores, and freight trains.
On April 24th Berlin was surrounded by 500,000 Russian troops and all
roads out were cut. Aerial bombing and strafing of German-held suburbs
by the Russian air force was routine as well as massive artillery
bombardments. To force bridgeheads over Teltow Canal to the south-east,
3000 Russian guns and heavy mortars lined up for 3 kilometres produced
one of the most concentrated artillery bombardments of WW2.
On the 26th Berlin was a city of terror, devastation, fire, murder,
suicide and rape; 2,000,000 women, children and elderly hid in cellars
or wherever they could. Disciplined front-line Russian troops were
being joined by hoards of undisciplined troops from every Soviet
Republic, most barely able to speak Russian let alone German. John
Erickson describes them, "a brute, drunken, capricious mob of rapists
and ignorant plunderers…" (The Road To Berlin, p. 595) Russian
guns lined up barrel to barrel blasted street barricades and then
troops poured in, taking suburb after suburb. German troops
counterattacked and some suburbs changed hands repeatedly.
On April 26th General Weidling suggested to Hitler a breakout westwards
on the night of the 28th by concentrating at one point the bulk of
Berlin's troops and spearheading them with 40 battle-worthy panzers.
The German 12th Army at the Elbe River had disengaged from the
Americans and was advancing toward Berlin and a link-up was achievable.
Hitler, however, vetoed the plan — he would stay, and Berlin would not
be surrendered. (Antony Beevor, Berlin The Downfall 1945, p.
Describing the situation around April 26-28 Cornelius Ryan in The
Last Battle writes: "District after district fell as the city's
slender defence forces were beaten back… Hitler Youths, Home Guards,
police and fire units fought side by side… Lines of Stalin Organs
crowded main thoroughfares, pouring out a continuous stream of
phosphorous shells that set whole areas ablaze. There were so many
fires that there was no night…" (pp 353-354)
Many Volksturm (German militia) were deserting and SS men roamed the
ruins to catch them and hang them from lampposts. German tank-hunters
carrying "panzerfausts" (single-shot bazookas which Berlin factories
still manufactured and delivered to the front in wheelbarrows) stalked
the streets, destroying scores of Russian tanks every day. On the 27th
General Mohnke with 2000 veteran soldiers, many armed with
panzerfausts, turned back a massed tank and infantry attack that aimed
to overrun the central government area.
The Nazis now held only 10% of Berlin's 320-square-mile area, a central
strip 10 miles by 3.
Berlin's three giant 40-metre high flak towers, with 8-foot-thick
concrete walls, and flak guns able to shoot 14 kilometres into the sky,
were located in a triangle around the city centre. These remained
unconquered until Berlin surrendered, their guns constantly harassing
Russian troops and vehicles.
ESCAPE BY AIRPLANE?
Was escape by airplane possible?
Flights in and out of Berlin occurred until April 29th. On April 22nd
ten transport aircraft flew out from Tempelhof Airport, in south-east
Berlin, carrying prominent Nazis and their staff to Munich. The last
passenger plane also left that day with passengers for Sweden. On April
25th Tempelhof Airport became unusable to airplanes. On the 26th
Russian tanks rumbled onto it but Germans counterattacked and the fight
continued all day. On the 27th the Russians rounded up 2000 German
women to clear Tempelhof of debris.
Beate Uhse (1919-2001) was a Luftwaffe captain (and the only woman to
have piloted a jet fighter). She landed an Arado 66, probably on April
23rd, at Gatow Airfield on the western edge of Berlin. Tony Le Tissier,
in Race for the Reichstag: The 1945 Battle for Berlin, says
Uhse came to rescue her infant son from the family home in the suburb
Rangsdorf. When she returned to the airport the Arado had been
destroyed. She flew out in another aircraft with her son, his nanny, a
mechanic and two wounded soldiers.
Albert Speer, Germany's munitions and armaments minister, also flew in
on the 23rd and landed at Gatow. A second airplane took him to the
East-West Axis, the linked highways through the city centre which, near
Hitler's Bunker, had been converted into a runway.
Hans Baur (1897-1993), Hitler's personal pilot since 1932 and author of
Hitler At My Side, supervised the constant repair of bomb
and artillery damage to the East-West Axis runway. On April 26th two
Junkers-52 transport planes landed there and brought reinforcements.
Gatow airfield remained usable until April 27th — on the 26th transport
aircraft landed 500 sailors there to help defend Berlin.
That same day (April 26th) Germany's most famous test pilot Hanna
Reitsch (1912-1979) arrived at Gatow with Robert von Greim whom Hitler
wanted to appoint Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe.
Her airplane was later destroyed on the ground by Russian artillery.
Gatow fell to the Russians about April 29th after fierce fighting with
Luftwaffe cadets who sheltered behind wrecked aircraft or fired
anti-aircraft guns at oncoming Russian tanks.
Until April 29th aircraft could still land or depart close to Hitler's
Bunker. At midnight April 28/29 a replacement airplane for Reitsch and
von Greim arrived: "a Luftwaffe pilot landed an Arado trainer on the
Charlottenburg Chaussee between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory
Column in what can only be termed a masterpiece of aeronautics…" (Hitler's
Last Days, p. 126)
About 1.00 a.m. April 29th, shortly before Hitler's wedding to Eva
Braun, von Greim and Reitsch departed Berlin in the replacement
airplane. As they left they observed a Ju-52 off the runway and a pilot
waiting. James O'Donnell (The Berlin Bunker, pp 226-241)
concludes that this Ju-52 was waiting for Hermann Fegelein, Eva's
brother in law, who never reached it, being instead executed for
desertion. Reitsch was held by the Americans until October 1946 for
questioning over the possibility that she had flown Hitler out.
Hans Baur was "one of the few people who were truly close to Hitler".
He saw Hitler on the morning of April 30th and offered to fly him out
in a Fieseler Storch. This was a common German liaison airplane which
required very short landing and take-off distances. One had been used
to rescue Benito Mussolini off the Gran Sasso plateau near Rome in 1943
and had landed in only 30 metres and taken off in 80 metres. But Hitler
declined the offer. Baur was captured when Bunker personnel made
break-out attempts on May 2nd and was repeatedly interrogated until
In the 1920s aircraft already existed that could cross the Atlantic.
Germany, in 1945, possessed several giant, Junkers Ju-390 —
ultra-modern, fast, 4-engined and capable of flying 6000 miles. One was
stationed at Rechlin airfield 90km north of Berlin. (O'Donnell, p. 227)
This could have reached Japanese Manchuria or, with a refuelling stop,
Clearly, Hitler's escape from Berlin by airplane was feasible. But it
did not happen.
Hitler's secretary Gertraud Junge typed his Political Testament and
personal will near dawn on April 29th. Hitler's personal chauffeur saw
Hitler on April 30th and at 2.30 p.m. was ordered to get 200 litres of
petrol for the cremation. Hitler's dietician/cook Constanze Manziarly
cooked Hitler's final meal on April 30th and joined him at the table.
She disappeared on May 2nd, reportedly captured by Russians.
The final meal occurred at 1 p.m. when Hitler lunched with his
secretaries Gertraud Junge and Gerda Christian. Both secretaries were
present again at 3 p.m. when Hitler and Eva stepped into the central
hallway of the Bunker to shake hands with 16 people (listed and named
on pp 248-249 of The Berlin Bunker).
The suicides occurred a ½ hour afterwards.
By this time much of the East-West Axis was lost and Russian artillery
lined up on it shelled central areas still held by German troops.
Next day, May 1st, Josef Goebbels (propaganda minister) and his family
committed suicide. At midnight Bunker personnel, security staff and
nearby troops formed groups which on May 2nd tried to escape from
Berlin via tunnels and side streets. Most were caught or killed but
Berlin had 1000 bunkers, many underground factories, and connecting
tunnels. This underground world, however, became itself a battleground
and was partly flooded. An escape attempt on the ground or underground
was not an option for Hitler, since what he feared more than death was
In short, we know Hitler died in Berlin because many people who knew
him personally, and were separately and repeatedly interrogated, saw
him on the last two days of his life. Later there was also
odontological identification of Hitler's lower jawbone and upper
bridge. (The Last Days of Adolf Hitler, 2000, Chapter 6)
Although escape by airplane as late into the Battle as April 30th was
possible, Hitler stayed.
Why not an escape conspiracy that locates Hitler's escape AFTER his
"death" thus explaining why years of interrogation failed to shake
Top Nazi officials including Goebbels and Bormann escorted Hitler's
body, wrapped in a blanket, outside for burning. What if the body was
Hitler's double, someone who had received identical dental work? The
real Hitler disguised, and shielded by the same senior Nazis, could
have left that night when most Bunker personnel were distracted with
orgies and alcohol. Next a flight out in a "Storch" the airplane with
the short take-off distance. The German air force could, even at this
late stage, have protected Hitler's escape flight-route — Adolf Galland
(a Luftwaffe commander), for example, commanded 70 jet fighters! (The
First and the Last, 1970, p. 283) After that, either a Junkers Ju-390
or a submarine — and off to Brazil! Bunker survivors, no matter how
long interrogated, would sincerely describe what they seemingly saw —
that Hitler was dead.
Such escape possibilities can be imagined for a movie, novel or for
fun. History, however, is not based on imagination.