The death of Adolf Hitler is an event that paints the picture of the demise of the Third Reich, one of the darkest periods in the history of Germany. One of the most powerful men in Europe at the time, if not the world, reduced to being forced to take his own life in a bunker in order to avoid further humiliation!
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in the Austrian town of Branau. Neither popular nor bright at school, Hitler was also denied admission into an art school in Vienna. It was during these years of poverty and rejection in Vienna that Hitler is believed to have developed his political views and anti-Semitic sentiments.
Following early military and diplomatic successes in the Second World War, the Hitler-led Nazi Germany conquered, controlled, or was allied with the entire continental Europe, with the exception of Russia and the neutral countries of Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey.
However, Hitler's decision to invade Russia backfired spectacularly, leading to a steady pattern of losses and retreats along the Eastern front. The Soviet Union's retaliation, coupled with Hitler's increasingly erratic judgment of military tactics and the Allied invasion at Normandy, wrested most of its conquered territory from Nazi Germany.
Where did Hitler Die?
With defeat looming nearer, Hitler took shelter in a subterranean bunker -- Führerbunker -- in the capital city of Germany, Berlin, on January 16, 1945. He was accompanied by his partner Eva Braun and fiercely loyal Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, other security personnels and officers. The bunker was located below Hitler's Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Hitler suffered a nervous breakdown on April 22, 1945 upon hearing that his commands had not been obeyed by a military unit known as Army Detachment Steiner, and that his trusted second-in-command Heinrich Himmler had initiated peace talks with the Allies without the Führer's permission.
The latter news caused him to launch a scathing tirade upon his senior officers, accusing them of cowardice, incompetence and treachery. In his rage, Hitler even conceded-for the first time-that the war was lost. By that time, the Russian army had entered Berlin.
When did Hitler Die?
Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. Around midnight on April 29, Hitler married Eva Braun in his bunker amidst minimal ceremony. Meanwhile, the news of ally Benito Mussolini's fate had reached Hitler's ears, strengthening his resolve to take his own life to avoid a similar situation.
Mussolini was executed by insurgents; his corpse was hung upside down in a gas station and subjected to stoning from the irate local populace, before being thrown in a gutter. Later, Hitler signed his last will. He also granted permission for an attempt to break out later in the night to his general Helmuth Weidling.
How did Hitler Die?
After having their lunch, Hitler and his wife retired to his personal study at around 2.25 pm, having said personal farewells to the other occupants and staff of the bunker. Witnesses reported to have heard a gunshot at around 3.30 pm from the study.
When Hitler's valet Heinz Linge entered the room a few minutes later, he found the couple slumped on the sofa leaning away from each other. Hitler had a gunshot wound on his temple. Eva Braun did not have any physical injury.
It was evident that she had died due to consumption of cyanide, borne out by the fact that Linge smelt prussic acid, the aqueous form of hydrogen cyanide, upon entering Hitler's study. Later reports confirmed that Hitler had also consumed cyanide, in addition to shooting himself.
According to the official report, Adolf and Eva Hitler were crudely cremated in the open, with gasoline (Hitler had left instructions that their bodies be burnt). The incompletely burned bodies were later buried in a shallow bomb crater.
However, analysis of the remains believed to be Hitler's revealed that the skull was, in fact, of a woman aged between 20 to 40 years! This is a major loophole in the official story, and one that has not been explained authoritatively.
Another theory of a staged suicide is that Hitler escaped to South America, ultimately dying of stomach cancer. Defection into relatively peaceful countries was common among the Nazis at the time, and many weren't found until several years later. The possibility of Hitler having done the same is one that can't be rejected without consideration.
History is always written by victors. Considering that a proclamation of Hitler's death would have provided a massive boost to the Allied forces, it is possible that the absconding Hitler was declared dead by the Red Army.
However, this theory has little credence, since the Russians controlled the region around Berlin, thus making it impossible for Hitler to escape. Also, it is highly unlikely that a man of Hitler's temperament would have stayed under the radar for long, even in foreign territory.
The death of the Führer continues to attract conspiracy theorists like moths to a lantern, and the story of the death of one of the most infamous figures of the 20th century may one day have to be rewritten.