Did Adolf Hitler survive the bunker in Germany and live out his days in Argentina? For decades, the world thought it had physical proof of Hitler’s death. His alleged skull was held in the Moscow archive. But when it was finally examined in 2009, the results started to re-write history. In this final part of a three-part story, read more about people who may have known the dictator, a documentarian determined to get at whatever truth is still available and learn what was discovered when Hitler’s skull was tested.
One German couple who assisted the Perons in their bid to welcome Nazis were the Eichorns, Walter and Ida. Settling in La Falda, a small village in the Argentine province of Cordoba, the Eichorns quickly became part of the German community. In the shadow of the Andes, La Falda could easily be mistaken for Bavaria. The relative remoteness gave the Eichorns the freedom to build a hotel which hosted Germans including Albert Einstein.
It also gave the Eichorns the freedom to continue their pro-Hitler work. Each time the dictator gave a speech on radio, the Eichorns would open their hotel’s dining room and provide free meals to anyone that wanted to come and listen to the speech which was broadcast throughout the property.
Together they corresponded often with Hitler and made annual trips to Germany to visit him. Somewhere during the relationship, they more than likely told the Führer about their prestigious hotel, The Eden. Hitler was so appreciative of their support that he had a Mercedes-Benz shipped to them as a thank you gift. It was the first of that model on the continent.
In the years following the end of the war, many of Eichorn’s employees would tell of the times that they waited on Hitler in the dining room or performed housekeeping duties in the chamber occupied by he and Eva Braun.
In a small public cemetery, about 45 kilometers southeast of La Falda there is a grave whose headstone reads, “A. Hitler – 1972.”
Since there is no definitive proof that Hitler died in the bunker or survived and moved to Argentina, it will be a discussion that goes on over dinner tables and online chat forums for a long time. Adding speculative fuel to the fire is the fact that the American organization, the FBI, has released documents that seem to indicate Hitler, at one time, was alive and well and living in Argentina.
For over sixty years following the end of World War II, what became of Hitler’s corpse was unknown. No photographs or film existed that were made public and Facebook wasn’t around to send the news globally.
As the Soviets gained control in the spring of 1945, forensic specialists commanded by a Russian counterintelligence unit exhumed what was believed to have been the dictator’s body. A section of the cranium was missing, presumed to have been destroyed by Hitler’s suicide shot. When a second exhumation was ordered by Stalin, a section of skull, believed to be the missing piece of Hitler’s skull was found. Complete with a “bullet hole,” the skull was held by the Russian State Archive in Moscow.
The only physical piece of evidence about Hitler’s death was held by Russia for decades. As the new century arrived, the state archive put on an exhibition called “The Agony of the Third Reich.” The bone fragment was showcased and the archive director, Sergei Mironenko, told the press that he was positive the bone section was authentic.
Things became a little different after a documentary, Hitler’s Escape, was broadcast in America on The History Channel. The findings which were reported astonished scientists worldwide. According to the documentary, DNA testing proved that the skull was not that of Hitler’s.
Nick Bellantoni was an archaeological bone specialist from Connecticut who was allowed by the Russians to examine the skull. Bellantoni was allowed one hour to examine the artifact and during his allotted hour he took DNA samples from the skull as well as blood spatter stains from the couch on which Hitler allegedly died.
The samples were then taken to the University of Connecticut for testing. The lab director, Linda Strausbaugh, focused exclusively for three days on the Hitler project. Using the same controls that are used in a crime laboratory, she tested the DNA.
The only convincing evidence that Hitler had shot himself was made moot. The DNA revealed that the skull, reported to have been Hitler’s, was actually that of a female under 40. In April 1945 when Hitler supposedly died, he was a male, aged 56.
The world today is even more unsure today about what occurred in Hitler’s bunker in April 1945.
Noam Shalev is a documentarian in Israel. Shalev is no newcomer to documentary films, having produced them since 1995. Most of his work is for international-level broadcasters and has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When not busy with the tension between those two countries, he looks at contemporary life in Israel and the middle East.
He first heard the theory about Hitler settling in Argentina in 2003. Approached by Pablo Weschler, a researcher and native Argentine, about the story, Shalev answered, “We’re not interested in any conspiracy theories.” Weschler refused to take no for an answer and kept coming back to Shalev to discuss it. Shalev’s mind was changed when he found the FBI reports from 1945 online. For Shalev, that was a game changer. Contacting historians, former military intelligence officers and Argentine government officials, they tapped into a never-ending stream of information. While much of the information was impossible to verify, other facts, testimonies and stories which could be collaborated and verified went into the documentary as the backbone of the work.
Shalev is normally suspicious of conspiracy theories. However, he didn’t believe the theory of Hitler’s arrival in Argentina was, or is, a conspiracy. “No one ‘conspired’ to get Hitler to Argentina and there never was a conspiracy to hide his whereabouts,” says Shalev. Shalev goes on to say that in July 1945 the world was “…in a mess,” and the allied forces had so many important things to do, they didn’t have time to investigate the information coming out of Argentina.
Did Hitler die in the bunker or live out his life in Argentina?
If a person remains closed to anything other than the official story then there is no real truth, only an “accepted story.” History is supposed to be about more than just accepting. In some situations the conspiracy theories are very questionable because the accepted historical account has some form of solid evidence behind it.
In the case of Hitler’s death or survival, there is so much information which conflicts that a person can’t easily pick one story over any of the rest and call it the truth. In the summer of 1945, there was no reason to doubt the “official story” that Hitler had committed suicide. When the Russian version was finally found to have more holes than substance, it was too late to investigate and most of the trails got cold. Without any hard evidence or “smoking gun,” we may never know for sure if Hitler survived to live in Argentina, eat empanadas and enjoy the view that looks remarkably like Bavaria.
By Jerry Nelson
I Love Chile