Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hitler’s skull: did the Fuhrer really commit suicide and die in the bunker in Berlin?

by Kathryn Hadley

Hitler's skull is that of a woman. Maybe Hitler and his wife Eva Braun did not commit suicide. Maybe they did not die in the bunker in Berlin where they retreated to at the end of April 1945 as Soviet troops closed in on the German capital. Maybe they instead hid in Germany, or fled to South America alongside many other Nazi officials. These are just some of the questions that have recently resurfaced following the latest research by experts from the University of Connecticut.

As part of the filming of a new series on The History Channel, Nicholas Bellantoni, Linda Strausbaugh and Dawn Pettinelli from the University of Connecticut investigated what happened to Hitler’s remains in the aftermath of the Second World War. They concluded that the fragment of a skull with a bullet wound discovered by Russian scientists in 1946 and believed to have belonged to Hitler in reality belonged to an unknown woman. The skull has been on display in Moscow since 2000.

The general consensus is that Hitler shot himself after taking a cyanide pill on April 30th, 1945, to avoid capture. Witnesses in the bunker at the time claimed that his body was thereafter burnt and buried. In May 1945, after the Soviet army took control over Berlin, a Russian forensic team dug up what was presumed to be Hitler’s body and post-mortem examinations and dental records revealed that the body was that of the Fuhrer.

However, part of the skull was missing, allegedly as a result of the gun shot, and Stalin sent out a second team of scientists to investigate further. It was during this second mission that the skull fragment was discovered. Stalin thereafter imposed a secrecy order on all matters relating to Hitler’s death and the body was secretly buried in Magdeburg in East Germany. It was not until 1970 that the body was dug up and cremated. All that remained was the jawbone, the skull fragment and bloodstained remnants from the sofa where Hitler and Eva Braun were believed to have died, which were preserved in the archives of the Soviet intelligence.

Nicholas Bellantoni recently inspected the remains at the Russian State Archive. He collected DNA samples which were thereafter examined by geneticist Linda Strausbaugh. The results revealed that the skull fragment belonged to a woman under the age of 40; Hitler had just turned 56 at the time of his death. Bellantoni explained in an article published on the webiste of the Daily Express:

‘The bone seemed very thin and male bone tends to be more robust. And the
sutures where the skull plates come together seem to correspond to someone under

Could the skull instead belong to Eva Braun who was 33 when she died? Bellantoni claimed in an article published on MailOnline that it was unlikely:
'There is no report of Eva Braun having shot herself or having been shot
afterwards. Many people died near the bunker.'

Since the end of the Second World War there have been several claims that Hitler did not die. Stalin was convinced that Hitler did not die and instead escaped to Spain or Argentina. In 1947, Eisenhower was also allegedly handed a secret dossier compiled by CIA agents, which claimed that Hitler was in hiding Heidelberg. Soldiers thereafter raided the area; however, nothing was found.

The recent research has paved the way for similar theories to be suggested once again.

A video of Nicolas Bellantoni and Linda Strausbaugh explaining their research is available on the website of the University of Connecticut.

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