History, traditions
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Hitler's ghost was roaming about Europe until 1970

His mortal remains were reburied 8 times and eventually destroyed by fire

Adolf Hitler put down his own funeral arrangements back in 1938 as he dreamt of the world domination and his worldwide glory. He wished to be laid to rest in the city of Lintz, in a giant burial vault of the National Socialist Party. A golden sepulcher decorated with gems from the Ural Mountains should have been installed in the center of the vault. A badly charred corpse of Hitler was found in a bomb crater in the Imperial Chancellery's garden 60 years ago. His mortal remains were reburied 8 times and eventually destroyed by fire.

The first burial took place on April 30th, 1945. The Fuhrer, his newly-fledged wife Eva Braun, and his two dogs were buried in the garden of the Imperial Chancellery. A Russian soldier Ivan Churakov found two unidentified corpses in a crater on May 4th. The Russians removed the remains but put them back into the ground on the same day because Hitler's body was thought to have been already found. On May 5th the remains were dug out and moved to a clinic in the town of Buch. The medical examination of the remains took place on May 8th. The remains were interred for the 4th time in a town of Finov, to which the department of SMERSH (Russian acronym for “Death to the spies”, a counterintelligence branch of the Soviet military intelligence during WWII) of the 3rd Soviet Army was re-deployed. The remains were inhumed for the 5th time on May 17th following data re-examination conducted by General Meshik who arrived from Moscow. The report on data re-examination and the jaws allegedly belonging to Hitler and Braun were hand-carried by the general to Moscow. And the remains were laid into the ground two more times after the army headquarters changed locations. Finally, the caskets containing the remains were laid in the grave in Magdeburg. The caskets were put into the ground near the house No36 in Westendstrasse. That is where Hitler's remains were eventually annihilated on April 5th, 1970. The remains were destroyed by fire, reduced to aches, mixed with charcoal, and thrown into the river Bideritz. There were a lot of problems arising from identification of Hitler's remains from the very beginning. The witnesses' accounts varied, and witnesses were hard to find. The Soviet military intelligence personnel were combing Berlin and the surrounding areas in their efforts to find witnesses. Josef Stalin was advised of Hitler's demise by Marshal Georgi Zhukov when sent a report to the Soviet leader on May 1st, 1945. According to the report, Adolf Hitler was said to have committed suicide on April 30th at 15.50 local time.

The SMERH department of the 3rd Soviet army played a special role in the search for Hitler's remains. Colonel Vasily Garbushin, deputy chief of SMERSH department, was reported to have been personally instructed by Colonel General Ivan Serov, deputy commander of the 1st Belarussian Front, to launch a search operation and locate the corpse of Hitler.

Soviet soldiers removed two badly charred bodies from a crater in the Imperial Chancellery's garden on May 4th. But the bodies of a man and a woman were soon put back into the ground because the officers of the 3rd army were for some reason convinced that Hitler's corpse had been already found and was undergoing identification at that point of time. It is evident that some previously found mortal remains were not the body of Hitler and the search went on. The SMERSH personnel headed by Ivan Klimenko went back to the garden on an early morning on May 5th. The two bodies were again removed from the crater. A commission was set up to conduct forensic study including an autopsy of the dead bodies “presumed to be Hitler and his wife.” But the bodies were charred almost beyond recognition, therefore, identification was impossible unless additional data were available. Another SMERSH group managed to capture Kete Hoiserman who was an assistant to the Fuhrer's personal dentist. She helped to locate X-ray pictures and dental records of the Nazi leadership. The assistant identified the golden dentures worn by Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. The identification examination was carried out on May 8th, 1945. There is an amazing discrepancy in the report of identification. The document says that the examination was conducted by order of Comrade Telegin, a member of the Military Council of the 1st Byelorussian Front dated May 3rd, 1945. However, the corpse of Hitler was reportedly found either on May 5th or May 4th.

There were lots of rumors circulating in Berlin those days about Hitler's doubles and his miraculous escape to Argentina or Spain by plain or submarine. Marshal Zhukov fueled the controversy when he said on a press conference held on June 10th, 1945: “We do not have any mortal remains that have been identified as a corpse of Hitler, I can not tell you anything regarding his destiny.” Years later in Moscow, Elena Rzhevskaya, an interpreter with one of the SMERSH key units involved in the hunt for Hitler's remains, told Marshal Zhukov about the discovery of Hitler's body. The allies did not share information on progress regarding the search for Hitler's mortal remains. “Hitler's corpse in not in our possession,” said Josef Stalin during the Potsdam conference in July 1945.

All information and documents pertaining to Hitler's mortal remains were classified. Those involved in the search were told to keep it dark and they obeyed the orders implicitly since all the personnel were part of the Soviet counterintelligence apparatus. All the documents relating to the investigation were submitted to Josef Stalin for consideration on June 16th, 1945. The Soviet government made no statement on the outcome of the search operation for Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. Perhaps numerous discrepancies in the accounts of the witnesses and examination reports are to blame for the lack of an official statement.

The story about the search for Hitler's remains is quite murky. It is not for nothing that a new investigation launched in 1946 had a code name Myth. A special team of NKVD (Soviet government's secret-police organization) was again searching for Hitler in Germany nine months after the above events. They were looking for him dead or alive. The investigators conducted additional excavations on the site where the bodies of Hitler and Braun were discovered. They found a part of the cranium with a bullet hole on the left-side parietal bone.

Incidentally, the examination report on the charred mortal remains dated May 8th, 1945, says that “a cranium is partially missing.” The investigators also discovered some blood stains on the upholstery of a couch in Hitler' bunker where he reportedly shot himself. The cranium and parts of the couch were sent to Moscow. The State Archive of the Russian Federation still keeps those pieces of “material evidence.”

The jaws of Hitler removed in May 1945 are kept by the FSB archive.
Finally, on March 13th, 1970, the head of the KGB Yuri Andropov filed a letter for the attention of Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee. The letter carried a mark saying “very important.” A special technique used during the preparation of the letter highlighted its utmost secrecy. The type-written letter contained a few hand-written inserts with regard to the most classified information.

The letter said, quote, “In February 1946, on the premises of our military camp located in Magdeburg, the KGB's Special Department under the 3rd army carried out a burial of the corpses of Hitler, Eva Braun, Goebbels, Goebbels' wife and their children. In total, 10 corpses were buried. In line with operating expediency complying with the interests of our troops, the above military camp is about to be transferred to the German authorities. Taking into account a possibility of construction or other earthmoving operations on the location that may  result in the discovery of the burial site, I hereby suggest that the remains be exhumed and destroyed by incineration. The procedure will be conducted in total secrecy by a team of operatives of the Special Department of the KGB. The procedure will be properly documented,” unquote. On March 16th, the letter was agreed by Brezhnev, Kosygin, and Podgorny i.e. the top authorities of the Soviet Union at the time, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, respectively.

The operation for the final destruction of the remains was dubbed Archive. A special team of the KGB operatives followed the instructions with great care and did everything as planned. They dug out the remains in the wee hours of the morning on April 5th, 1970. Then they put the bones into the boxes and later that morning conducted “physical destruction” of the remains. 

Alisa Argunova 

On the photos: The shell-hole, in which the bodies of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were found and fragments of Hitler's jaws

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