Can a leader be a servant

End of the war in 1945 Suicide in the Führerbunker: How Adolf Hitler died

Berlin, April 30, 1945, 3:30 p.m.: A shot is fired in Adolf Hitler's private room. Powder smell. The valet of the "Führer" Heinz Linge is faced with a cruel sight: two pistols lie on the floor, a pool of blood in front of the sofa. Adolf Hitler and his newly wedded wife Eva sit lifelessly next to each other on the sofa. They're dead. At least that's how Linge describes it. Together with SS-Sturmbannführer Otto G possibly and Reich Youth Leader Artur Axmann, he is one of the first to find the dead dictator.

Experts agree that Hitler died in the bomb-proof Führerbunker back then. Theories that he might have survived the war persisted and still belong in the corner of legends and conspiracies today. However, there are contradicting statements about the way in which Hitler died. Did he shoot himself in the head? Did he take poison? Or did he even do both? None of his confidants was in the room at the time. So nobody can say exactly what really happened. The circumstances of death were long controversial and there is still room for speculation today.

"Battle for Berlin"

On Hitler's last days, at the end of April 1945, Berlin was in ruins. The battle for the imperial capital has been decided. The Soviet flag is already waving on the ruins of the Reichstag. The front between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army is only a few hundred meters south of the Führerbunker. Bombs hit the garden of the Old Reich Chancellery, eight meters below is Hitler's quarters.

Together with his long-term partner Eva Braun, he lives in several rooms here. On April 29, 1945, shortly before midnight, the two married in the Führerbunker. Then Hitler dictates his will to his secretary Traudl Junge. During the night he says goodbye to his employees and confidants.

Suicide in the Führerbunker

Continuous Soviet fire and bombs woke the "Führer" on April 30th after only a few hours of sleep. Around noon he lets his personal secretary Martin Bormann, who had acted as best man the day before, as well as Adjutant Otto G Greetings, about his plans:

"He [Hitler] told me personally that he was going to shoot himself and that Fraulein Braun would also die. He did not want to fall into the hands of the Russians, either alive or dead, and not to be exhibited in a panopticon, where he von Moscow spoke. The corpses should be cremated. He transferred the necessary precautions to me, "said Otto Günsch during an interrogation on June 20, 1956.

After lunch, served by Diener Linge, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun-Hitler finally withdraw. Both take their own lives - while the SS is still hunting deserters on the streets who want to escape the long-lost final battle. Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda also decide to commit suicide that evening. They take their children with them to death. They poison the five little girls and their nine-year-old boy.

What happened to Hitler's body

The faithful to the "Führer" - Günsch, Linge and Bormann - burn the corpses of Adolf Hitler and his wife around 4 p.m. in the garden of the Old Reich Chancellery. They need "nine or ten" canisters of gasoline, so there are requests. As ordered, nothing should be left of the "greatest leader of all time". But that fails.

A few days later, the Soviets say they discovered the buried and charred remains. Hitler is later identified by his teeth. The public does not find out about this, however, and conspiracy theories take their course. His teeth eventually end up, together with the jawbone and a piece of skull, with the Soviet secret service in Moscow. According to Russian authorities, they are still there today.

Hitler's remains scattered near Magdeburg?

But what happened then to the charred corpse of Hitler? Alleged Soviet intelligence documents are supposed to provide information about their whereabouts. They are called "Operation Mythos" and appear in the early 1990s.

According to the records, the body of Adolf Hitler was reburied several times and buried in February 1946 on a military site in Magdeburg. More than 24 years later, on April 5, 1970, KGB chief Yuri Andropov ordered the remains to be exhumed in the highest degree of secrecy and now to be completely incinerated. A KGB special unit is responsible for this action and then drives the dictator's ashes a few kilometers away in a plastic bag. From the so-called pig bridge near Biederitz, they scatter the ashes left over from Hitler into the Ehle, a tributary of the Elbe.

However, whether these events actually took place and whether the Soviet investigations are genuine is a matter of dispute. The investigation into Hitler's suicide was just as difficult in the 1950s.

Hitler's Death: A Story With Many Truths

The Second World War ended on May 8, 1945. Germany surrenders. But it wasn't until eleven years later, on October 25, 1956, that the Berchtesgaden District Court officially declared Adolf Hitler dead.

Why so late? Because after the end of the war important witnesses to clarify the exact circumstances of Hitler's death are initially missing. You are in Soviet custody. The valet Heinz Linge is one of the key witnesses. It was not until 1956 that investigators were finally able to interrogate him in the Munich Palace of Justice. What really happened in Hitler's tiny private room in the Führerbunker? Linge's interrogation is recorded on tape under oath:

When I entered, Hitler was sitting on the left, as far as I was concerned, on the left, in the right corner of the sofa. And had his head tilted slightly forward and there was a bullet point on the right temple that was about the size of a penny.

Heinz LingeHitler's valet

The German investigators heard a total of 42 witnesses at the time, and the crime scene was being reconstructed with detectives. But the statements of the immediate eyewitnesses contradict each other.

If you put their stories together, there are many versions of what happened: sometimes Adolf Hitler sits lifeless next to Eva on the sofa, sometimes they sit separately from one another - he on an armchair. Sometimes a shot is fired, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a gun next to Eva, sometimes not. Sometimes Hitler shoots himself in the temple, sometimes in the mouth. Not even suicide seems certain: is Hitler's servant Linge playing it safe with a coup de grace?

The book "Hitler's End" by Anton Joachimsthaler provides well-founded answers. In it the historian describes the many "legends, lies and half-truths" about Hitler's death. He meticulously reconstructs the events and also examines the highly explosive question of whether Hitler took poison on April 30, 1945 before he shot himself?

The poison thesis: a Soviet fake

During the identification of Hitler, one month after his death, Soviet coroners claim to have found fragments of glass from an ampoule in the mouth of the charred corpse. This poison thesis is entirely in the Soviet interest and is propagated by Lev Besymensky. At that time he was a member of the Red Army's military intelligence service.

Joachimsthaler, however, contradicts the Soviet findings: "Of course Hitler must have poisoned himself in it [in the autopsy report] according to the 'Russian specifications and reading', no matter what the cost!" The historian bases his results on numerous documents and statements from more than 50 witnesses. According to this, SS Adjutant Günsch does not find any gunshot wounds in Eva Braun-Hitler, but a bitter almond odor. This is typical for hydrocyanic acid poisoning. In the case of Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, Günsch does not notice any odor. The eyewitnesses Linge and Axmann say the same. Over the years, Besymenski finally rowed back and revised his statements as "propaganda" given from above.

The Soviet authorities hushed up the circumstances more than investigated. Investigations could only be carried out by the Russians, but what they actually investigated is still unknown to this day.

Anton Joachimsthaler, historian "Hitler's End"

Hitler's death: an (un) clarified myth?

In summary, Joachimsthaler describes the suicide in his book as follows: Adolf Hitler and his wife are sitting on the sofa in the study. First Eva bites a cyanide vial and then tips sideways on Hitler. Hitler then shot himself in the head with a 7.65 mm pistol that he was holding in his right hand. Joachimsthaler ruled out poisoning. The gun falls on the floor. A plate-sized pool of blood forms on the carpet in front of the arm of the sofa.

This scenario also confirms the results of Richter Dr. Stephanus, who was entrusted with the determination of Hitler's death in 1956: "There can no longer be the slightest doubt that Adolf Hitler shot himself in the Reich Chancellor's bunker in Berlin on April 30, 1945, with a shot in the right temple who took his life ", as the press release says (quoted from" Bayerische Staatszeitung ", No. 43 of October 27, 1956).

At the end of this search for clues, there is a lot of certainty - but also enough room for speculation: some scientists still do not want to rule out hydrogen cyanide poisoning. So there is still speculation about the exact circumstances of Hitler's death, even 76 years after his suicide.