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The generally accepted cause of the death of Adolf Hitler on 30 April 1945 is suicide by gunshot and cyanide poisoning. The lack of public information concerning the whereabouts of Hitler's remains, confused reports stemming from the dual method and other circumstances surrounding the event encouraged rumours that Hitler may have survived the end of World War II. Records kept by the Soviet KGBmarker and Russian FSB were opened in 1992 and mostly matched the widely accepted version of Hitler's death as described by Hugh Trevor-Roper in his book The Last Days of Hitler published in 1947. However, the Russian archivesyielded more detailed autopsy information along with what happened to the corpse.


Hitler took up residence in the Führerbunkermarker on 16 January 1945 where he presided over a rapidly disintegrating Third Reich as the Allies advanced from both east and west. By late April Sovietmarker forces had entered Berlinmarker and were battling their way to the centre of the city where the Chancellerymarker was located.

On 22 April, Hitler had what some historians later described as a nervous breakdown during one of his military situation conferences, admitting defeat was imminent and Germany would lose the war. He expressed his intent to kill himself and later asked physician Werner Haase to recommend a reliable method of suicide. Haase suggested combining a dose of cyanide with a gunshot to the head.

Hitler had a supply of cyanide capsules which he had obtained through the SSmarker. Meanwhile, on 28 April Hitler learned of Heinrich Himmler's attempt to independently negotiate a peace treaty. Hitler considered this treason and began to show signs of paranoia, expressing worries the cyanide capsules he had received through Himmler's SS were fake. He also learned of the execution of his ally Benito Mussolini and vowed not to share a similar fate. To verify the capsules' potency he ordered Dr. Haase to try them on his dog Blondi and the animal died as a result.

After midnight on 29 April, Hitler's last days: "Hitler's will and marriage" "In the small hours of 28-29 April.." Hitler married Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in a map room within the bunker complex. Antony Beevor stated that after Hitler hosted a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife, Hitler then took secretary Traudl Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament. He signed these documents at 04:00 and then retired to bed (some sources say Hitler dictated the last will and testament immediately before the wedding, but all sources agree on the timing of the signing).Beevor References p. 343. Records the marriage as taking place before Hitler had dictated the last will and testament Hitler's last days: "Hitler's will and marriage" on the website of MI5marker using the sources available to Trevor Roper (a WWII MI5 agent) The Last Days of Hitler records the marriage as taking place after Hitler had dictated the last will and testament.

Hitler and Braun lived together as husband and wife in the bunker for fewer than 40 hours. Late in the morning of 30 April, with the Soviets less than 500 metres from the bunker, Hitler had a meeting with General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the Berlin Defence Area, who informed Hitler the Berlin garrison would probably run out of ammunition that night. Weidling asked Hitler for permission to break out, a request he had made unsuccessfully before. Hitler did not answer at first and Weidling went back to his headquarters in the Bendlerblockmarker where at about 13:00 he got Hitler's permission to try a breakout that night.Beevor, References p.358 Hitler, two secretaries and his personal cook then had lunch consisting of spaghetti with a light sauce, after which Hitler and Eva Braun said their personal farewells to members of the Führerbunker staff and fellow occupants, including the Goebbels family, Bormann, the secretaries and several military officers. At around 14:30 Adolf and Eva Hitler went into Hitler's personal study.

Some witnesses later reported hearing a loud gunshot at around 15:30. After waiting a few minutes, Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, with Bormann at his side, opened the door to the small study. Linge later stated he immediately noted a scent of burnt almonds, a common observation made in the presence of prussic acid, the gaseous form of cyanide. Hitler's SS adjutant, Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche, entered the study to inspect the bodies, which were found seated on a small sofa, Eva's to Hitler's left and slumped away from him. Günsche has since stated that Hitler "...sat...sunken over, with blood dripping out of his right temple. He had shot himself with his own pistol..." The Walther PPK 7.65 mm pistol lay at Hitler's feet. According to Hitler's SS bodyguard, Oberscharführer Rochus Misch, Hitler's head was lying on the table in front of him. Blood dripping from his temple and chin had made a large stain on the right arm of the sofa and was pooling on the floor/carpet. Eva's body had no visible physical wounds and Linge assumed she had poisoned herself.

Günsche exited the study and announced that the Führer was dead. Immediately afterwards, several people in the bunker began smoking cigarettes (which had been forbidden, given Hitler's strong dislike for smoking). Several witnesses said the two bodies were carried up to ground level and through the bunker's emergency exit to a small, bombed-out garden behind the Chancellery where they were doused with petrol and set alight by Linge and members of Hitler's personal SSmarker bodyguard. Someone was heard to shout: 'Hurry upstairs, they're burning the boss!' The SS guards and Linge later noted the fire did not completely destroy the corpses but Soviet shelling of the bunker compound made further cremation attempts impossible and the remains were later covered up in a shallow bomb crater after 18:00.


Red Army troops began storming the Chancellery at approximately 23:00, about 7 hours and 30 minutes after Hitler's death. On 2 May, the remains of Hitler, Braun and two dogs (thought to be Blondi and her offspring Wulf) were discovered in a shell crater by Ivan Churakov of the 79th Rifle Corps, to which a unit of SMERSH had been attached with orders to find Hitler's body.

Even after the autopsy which, contrary to public reports authorized by Stalin in 1945, recorded both gunshot damage to Hitler's skull and glass shards in his jaw, Stalin was wary about believing his old nemesis was dead. The remains of Hitler and Braun were repeatedly buried and exhumed by SMERSH during the unit's relocation from Berlin to a new facility in Magdeburgmarker where they, along with the charred remains of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and those of his wife Magda Goebbels and their six children, were buried in an unmarked grave beneath a paved section of the front courtyard. This location was kept highly secret.

In 1970, the SMERSH facility, by then controlled by the KGB, was scheduled to be handed over to the East Germanmarker government. Fearing that a known Hitler burial site might become a Neo-Nazi shrine, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. A Soviet KGB team was given detailed burial charts and on 4 April 1970 they secretly exhumed the ten bodies and thoroughly burned them before throwing the ashes in the Elbe river.

In 1969, Soviet journalist Lev Bezymensky's book on the SMERSH autopsy report was published in the West but because of earlier disinformation attempts historians may have thought it untrustworthy. However in 1993 the KGBmarker/FSB publicly released the autopsy records and other statements by former KGB members. Drawing from these, historians reached a consensus about what happened to the bodies of Hitler and Braun.

In 2009, analysis of the DNA and bone structure of a skull fragment retained by SMERSH, and originally linked to Hitler, proved it actually belonged to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40.


  • The Death of Adolf Hitler is a British 1973 made-for-television production. Set in the Führerbunker it follows the last ten days of Hitler’s life. Starring Frank Finlay who won a BAFTA award of Best Actor for his title role performance. The film has been criticized for inaccuracies.
  • Hitler: The Last Ten Days is a 1973 feature film directed by Ennio De Concini and starring Sir Alec Guinness in the title role. It is a movie depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's death. It has been criticized for many inaccuracies.
  • The Bunker was a 1981 made-for-television film directed by George Schaefer. Based on the book: The Bunker (1978) by James O'Donnell which describes both the last months of the war and days in the Führerbunkermarker from 17 January 1945 to 2 May 1945. Sir Anthony Hopkins won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Hitler.
  • Der Untergang (The Downfall) is a 2004 German feature film largely set in and around the Führerbunker and is about the last days of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel accurately reconstructing the actual look and atmosphere as best he could through eyewitness accounts, various survivors' memoirs, and other verified sources. It also features an interview with Traudl Junge.
  • Valkyrie is a 2008 production depicting the rise and fall of the Third Reich. It also accurately expresses the attempt to assassinate the Führer.

See also



  • Fischer, Thomas (2008). Soldiers Of the Leibstandarte. J.J. Fedorowicz Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-0-921991-91-5.
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (1996). The Last Days of Hitler - The Legends - The Evidence - The Truth, Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019-902-X

Further reading

  • Ryan, Cornelius, The Last Battle, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1966
  • Fest, Joachim. Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich, ISBN 0-374-13577-0
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (2000). The Last Days of Hitler: Legend, Evidence and Truth, Cassell (reprint), ISBN 0-304-35453-8
  • Gardner, Dave. The Last of the Hitlers, BMM, Worcester, UK, 2001. ISBN 0-9541544-0-1
  • O'Donnell, James (2001). The Bunker. New York: Da Capo Press (reprint), ISBN 0-306-80958-3.
  • Petrova, Ada and Watson, Peter (1995). The Death of Hitler: The Full Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives, W W Norton & Co Inc. ISBN 0-393-03914-5
  • William L. Shirer (1959), The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster; ISBN 0-671-62420-2
  • Waite, Robert G.L. (1977). The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler, New York: First DaCapo Press Edition, 1993, ISBN 0-306-80514-6.


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