CONSPIRACY THEORY:

DID HITLER SURVIVE THE BATTLE OF BERLIN?


(Investigator 145, 2012 July)



CONSPIRACY

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 Williams.

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.


HISTORIANS WRONG?


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 Identification (Ch.6).

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 BATTLE

The great, final Russian onslaught with 2½ million troops began on April 16th and on the 20th the battlefront reached Berlin's eastern suburbs.

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. 320)

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 1955.

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, South America.

Clearly, Hitler's escape from Berlin by airplane was feasible. But it did not happen.


NO ESCAPE

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 some succeeded.

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 capture.

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.


CONSPIRACY REVIVED

Why not an escape conspiracy that locates Hitler's escape AFTER his "death" thus explaining why years of interrogation failed to shake witnesses' testimonies?

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.




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