What happened to Hitler’s body after he died?

·5-min read

On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his bunker in Berlin. By his side was his long-time girlfriend Eva Braun, who he had married just a little over 40 hours earlier. But what happened to the bodies of Adolf Hitler and Ava Braun? 

For several years this remained a source of speculation. Some went on to suggest that Hitler had managed to escape and sought asylum in the West in exchange for ending the war. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

More than 75 years since his suicide, it can be definitely said that Adolf Hitler had indeed died that day and wasn’t living in a Western country in hiding after the war was over. 

It was revealed as Soviet propaganda.

Adolf Hitler
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

So what did happen to Hitler’s body after he died?

To answer this question let us back up a little. 

By early 1945, it was evident that Nazi Germany would collapse by summer at the latest. On January 16, Hitler had moved to his bunker, from where he was supervising the war effort. To be clear, Hitler’s bunker was, in fact, a very elaborate structure, complete with a bedroom for him, toilets, dressing rooms, conference rooms, etc. 

In fact Eva Braun had her own room too. The bunker also had a full-time doctor who had his own office as well as a telephone switchboard to connect Hitler to the outside world.

By 1 am on April 30, Adolf Hitler received a report that the Soviet forces had all but entered Berlin, the capital. By now it had been more than three months since Hitler had been inside the bunker which was located in Reich Chancellery in Berlin and he knew that it was time. 

Around 2.30 am, he met everyone who was present in the bunker – the bunker required a retinue of staff, from telephone operators to military officials, to run it – shook hands and spoke with each of them and retired to his room.

GIERLOZ, POLAND - 2020/08/22: A visitor walks by a destroyed bunker which served as a tea house for Nazi soldiers part of the historical Wolf's Lair, the first Hitler' military headquarters on the Eastern front. The famous Wolfs Lair was one of the top secrets headquarters of Nazi Germany located on nowadays Eastern Poland. The nazi site is famous for the assassination attempt on Adolf's Hitler life known as Operation Valkyrie, Claus von Stauffenberg and others targeted Hitler with a suitcase bomb during a meeting inside the Wolf's Lair. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GIERLOZ, POLAND - 2020/08/22: A visitor walks by a destroyed bunker which served as a tea house for Nazi soldiers part of the historical Wolf's Lair, the first Hitler' military headquarters on the Eastern front. The famous Wolfs Lair was one of the top secrets headquarters of Nazi Germany located on nowadays Eastern Poland. The nazi site is famous for the assassination attempt on Adolf's Hitler life known as Operation Valkyrie, Claus von Stauffenberg and others targeted Hitler with a suitcase bomb during a meeting inside the Wolf's Lair. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A few hours later, Hitler had a meeting with General Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area who told him that they would run out of ammuniation by that night and the battle for Berlin would come to an end in the next 24 hours. By 2.30 pm Hitler and Eva Braun had what would be their final meal and retired to their room. SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Günsche, who was Hitler's adjutant, stood guard outside the door.

Sometime later – the exact timing remains unclear – Hitler valet, Heinz Linge opened the door and walked inside and noticed a scent of burnt almonds. This was a common indication of the presence of hydrogen cyanide in the air. Hydrogen cyanide is a lethal drug that instantly kills the person who consumes it. When he entered the room, he saw Hitler and Braun’s corpses on the sofa. It was Braun who had consumed the poison whereas Hitler had shot himself using his own pistol. The time of Eva Brown and Adolf Hitler’s death was said to have been between 3 pm and 4 pm on April 30, 1945.

In the hours that followed, the soldiers and staff posted in the bunker rolled up Hitler and Braun’s bodies and took them to the lawns above and set them ablaze with petrol as per Hitler’s instructions. However since this was not a crematorium where the flames are concentrated on the body, the corpses were taking time to burn. In the midst of all of this, the Soviets were bombing Berlin and Hitler’s bunker wasn’t spared either. 

Hitler’s staff tried their best to burn down the two corpses completely. While they were largely successful, they weren’t able to completely burn down the teeth, which were later used by the Soviets to confirm that Hitler was indeed dead.

GIERLOZ, POLAND - 2020/08/22: A plate with the number 13, Hitler's bunker is seen inside of the historical Wolf's Lair, the first Hitler' military headquarters on the Eastern front. The famous Wolfs Lair was one of the top secrets headquarters of Nazi Germany located on nowadays Eastern Poland. The nazi site is famous for the assassination attempt on Adolf's Hitler life known as Operation Valkyrie, Claus von Stauffenberg and others targeted Hitler with a suitcase bomb during a meeting inside the Wolf's Lair. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
GIERLOZ, POLAND - 2020/08/22: A plate with the number 13, Hitler's bunker is seen inside of the historical Wolf's Lair, the first Hitler' military headquarters on the Eastern front. The famous Wolfs Lair was one of the top secrets headquarters of Nazi Germany located on nowadays Eastern Poland. The nazi site is famous for the assassination attempt on Adolf's Hitler life known as Operation Valkyrie, Claus von Stauffenberg and others targeted Hitler with a suitcase bomb during a meeting inside the Wolf's Lair. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

There remains no monument or a shrine to Adolf Hitler in Berlin. For the longest time the site of the bunker was all but ignored and even had a car park at one point. However the Germans, who though ashamed of their Nazi history, have a history of always acknowledging their dodgy past. 

And so, in the summer of 2006, just before the FIFA World Cup, an information board was set up marking the location with nothing more than a board that explains the schematic diagram of the bunker.

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