Did Hitler Fake His Own Death to Flee to South America?
The popular theory is that Adolf Hitler killed himself on the 30th of April, 1945. But, right after the second world war ended, it was widely rumored that the man known as the Fuhrer of the Third Reich was still alive.
Unfortunately, the rumor of Hitler escaping death in Germany found fertile ground—the Internet—and has since generated manifold conspiracy theories about the end of the German dictator. Let’s objectively assess some of these theories.
A Rumor Turned to Conspiracy Theory
The theory of Hitler escaping death during the second world war gained traction in 2011. Interestingly, though the rumor came in several shades, the popular narrative was that Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, merely staged their death before fleeing the country.
Faithfuls of this theory believe that Hitler and Braun found a way of escaping to South America, Argentina specifically, where they lived the rest of their lives.
Rumors, Propaganda, Books, and the Internet
Remember that the rumor of Hitler surviving the heavy shelling of his Berlin bunker has been around since 1945. However, it took on new energy in 2011, all thanks to the synergy of some learned theorists and the power of the Internet.
Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan co-authored a book about Hitler’s 1945 escape. In the book, the duo was not too assertive about the event’s occurrence. Instead, they pieced together all known information about the conspiracy theory.
Escape in a Submersible Vessel
The first speculation that theorists of Hitler’s survival cite is a massive exodus of German submarines to Argentina immediately after WWII. They claim that one of these Underwater ships conveyed Hitler to the shores of Argentina.
To clear the diplomatic air, these theorists stated that Nazi Germany had offered financial support to Juan Perón during his campaign to become Argentina’s president. So, Perón received the fleeing Hitler with open arms.
An Argentine Recluse
The book by Dunstan and Williams then proceeds to state that Perón set up Hitler and his wife at the Nahuel Huapi Lake. Though this region, located on the Argentine-Chilean border, has multiple National Parks, the lake has several small isolated islands that could have served as a perfect hideaway for Hitler and Braun.
According to these two authors, Hitler passed away in 1962, shortly after Braun and Ursula—his daughter—moved to the Argentine province of Neuquén.
Alleged Forensic Evidence
After the targeted air raids that destroyed Hitler’s Berlin bunker in 1945, some unidentifiable remains were salvaged. All these items were initially stored in Russia’s Federal Archives in Moscow.
However, as part of the investigation into the Fuhrer’s death, some forensic analysis was conducted on the human remains retrieved from the bunker. There was a skull with a bullet hole and teeth fragments among the recovered fragments.
Results of the Forensic Tests
In 2009, the bone fragments were taken for identification through DNA profiling. It was then revealed that the skull, with a bullet hole, belonged to a 40-year-old woman, definitely not Miss Braun. Braun was 33 years old at the time of her supposed demise.
On the contrary, the jaw fragments were found to belong to the Fuhrer of the Third Reich. Hitler’s dentist and another specialist confirmed this fact.
The FBI's Verdict on the Theories
Like the UFO sighting conspiracy theories, the authorities tend to make their findings when a theory becomes widespread. So, the FBI was meticulous enough to do their findings, trace clues, and assess the accuracy of the information at their disposal.
Recently, the FBI declassified documents and reports on the Hitler conspiracy. The summarised conclusion of the reports is that there’s no substance to the rumors and claims of Hitler having lived beyond 1945.
First Mention of the Hitler Theory
Readers of George Orwell’s book 1984 will tell you that some telltale signs of a dictatorship are disinformation and propaganda. So, it is no surprise that the Soviet government first sponsored the theory about Hitler surviving WWII.
Records have it that Marshall Georgy Zhukov of the Soviet Union made comments during a mid-1945 press conference that suggested that Hitler was still alive. Also, Stalin told US President—Harry Truman—that the Soviets had reasons to believe that Hitler survived WWII.
Historians are known for their knack for documenting events as they unfold, and over the years, they collectively discredited the Hitler theories.
Although many historians shared this opinion, only a few made an official statement on the issue. One of these few was Guy Walters, who published an article inferring that the propaganda was sponsored by people who saw the Fuhrer’s demise as a tragedy.
Memorabilia, Documentaries and Biographies on the Life and Times of Hitler
The internet is awash with various content claiming to reveal previously unknown details of the life of Hitler. Some sponsor such content to sell online merchandise, while others do it for cheap publicity.
Likewise, Gerrard Williams, one of the earlier mentioned authors, decided to make a documentary in 2014. The documentary was an effort to defend some of the claims made in the book — Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler.
Content and Reception of the Documentary
The documentary featured multiple interviews with people who claimed to have seen Hitler at different times in Argentina. Some people said he had changed his name and now had a Black wife when they encountered him.
Nonetheless, reviewers have given very poor scores to the documentary. For one, they stated that the documentary does not present any concrete evidence to back up the book’s primary message—Hitler’s escape.
Media Houses Exploiting the Conspiracy
Media outlets don’t give a hoot about the truth of conspiracy theories. Well, maybe they do, but the average media outlet is on a mission to thrive; they’re always trying to rake up the numbers.
So, at the peak of the Hitler escape wave, the History Channel also started a program titled Hunting Hitler. The program featured a team of enthusiasts who went on a tour of South America to find clues to prove that Adolf Hitler really escaped.
Adolf Leipzig Died in Brazil
Simoni Renee Guerreiro Dias was a female postgraduate student in Brazil when she wrote a book titled Hitler in Brazil — His Life and His Death.
In the book, Dias puts forth strong theories claiming that Hitler lived in a small Brazilian town and died in 1984 at a fairly ripe age. The doppelganger in Dias’s book was named Adolf Leipzig and was called ‘the Old German’ by Brazilian locals.
Were Hitler and Leipzig the Same?
Dias states in her book that she believes Hitler left Argentina at a point and eventually settled in Brazil. To cover up his true identity, she suggests that Hitler made many changes to his person during his stay in Nossa Senhora do Livramento, Brazil.
First, he changed his last name to Leipzig, shaved his signature mustache, and got a girlfriend named Cutinga. Dias asserts that because Cutinga was a person of color, she dispelled all suspicions of the fascist’s real identity.
Leipzig's Links to the Vatican
Dias spent extensive time investigating the life of Leipzig in the little Brazilian town. Of course, this was several years after his death.
However, she also noted there were documents indicating that Leipzig’s arrival in Nossa Senhora do Livramento coincided with the Vatican asserting their claim to some ancient treasures located in the city. Close pals of Leipzig from the period also claimed that he was often treasure-hunting in the town, with a map that was probably provided by his friends at the Vatican.
How Dias Initiated a Research Into the Conspiracy
Dias was at the time living in the town of Mato Grosso in Brazil and chanced upon an old picture of Adolf Leipzig. She claims to have immediately noticed the striking semblance between Leipzig and the Nazi Fuhrer.
Dias went as far as adding a mustache to the old picture using Photoshop. After this, she ventured out to find out all she could about Adolf Leipzig. At a point, she even went as far as asking permission from authorities to exhume the remains of Leipzig.
Citing Other Clues
Besides self-sourced clues, Dias also took the testimony of a nun. The woman in question was a holocaust survivor and claimed to have treated Adolf Leipzig at a hospital in 1979.
In her book, Dias states that the nun immediately recognized Leipzig as Hitler, even without his mustache and stately pomp. However, there’s still a loose end that Dias has not resolved after her book’s publication.
A Would-Be Concrete Evidence
Simoni Dias was granted permission to exhume Leipzig’s remains. She was also given access to a living descendant of Hitler. This allowed her to analyze DNA from the two individuals and would have nailed the coffin on all the claims by Dias and previous theories about Hitler’s death.
However, the DNA test results have not been made public to date. This has given speculators even more reasons to doubt the accuracy of Dias’s claims.
Who Do We Believe?
So far, historians continue to maintain that Hitler died in his bunkers by shooting himself in the head and poisoning Braun. It is also widely reported that the airstrikes targeted at the location of his death mangled his remains and made them unidentifiable.
However, with all the claims being continually recycled, particularly on the Internet and by writers, it’s difficult to know who and what to believe.