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  • Most gravestones are a site of solemn remembrancewhere mourners bring flowers and share memories.  

  • However, there are some people whose  graves would be more likely to become  

  • public graffiti targets - no one  more than Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

  • But no one's defacing Hitler's  grave - because he doesn't have  

  • one. Which raises one big question  - what happened to Hitler's body?

  • It was 1945, and the walls were closing in on the  Nazi regime. The Soviet Red Army was marching from  

  • the east, having liberated Poland. The attempt  by the Nazis to bomb Britain into submission had  

  • long since failed, and now the united forces of  Britain, the United States, and the rest of their  

  • allies were marching on Germany from the westHitler was surrounded and increasingly paranoid,  

  • and had retreated to his bunker, an air raid  shelter in Berlin. As the Soviets approached  

  • the city, Hitler discovered that even his own  generals were starting to reject his orders.

  • He was determined not to be taken alive.

  • As Hitler planned to end his life rather  than being taken alive, multiple Nazi  

  • leaders jockeyed for position. Hermann Goring  attempted to take control in the aftermath,  

  • and was rewarded by being stripped of  his offices by Hitler and arrested.  

  • As communications around the city were cut offHitler heard bits and pieces of news about his  

  • top allies surrendering - with Heinrich Himmler  even claiming he had the right to negotiate a  

  • surrender for the regime. Hitler also heard  word that his closest ally, Benito Mussolini,  

  • had been deposed and killed by Italian rebels.

  • It was time for the last rites.

  • Within his bunker, Hitler and his longtime  mistress Eva Braun were married, and then  

  • Hitler dictated his last will and testament to  his secretary. Knowing the end was near, he was  

  • determined he wouldn't allow his enemies to get  ahold of him and execute him or put him on trial.  

  • He had already obtained capsules of poison from  Himmler before Himmler's attempted surrender, but  

  • now doubted if they would be effective or if they  were just another betrayal. So he gave them to his  

  • beloved dog Blondi - and the dog died immediatelyadding one final casualty to Hitler's long list  

  • of kills. He soon said his goodbyes, retreated to  his room with Eva Braun, and prepared for the end.

  • What happened next has been  debated for almost eighty years.

  • The leader of the Soviet UnionJoseph Stalin, was a ruthless man  

  • and he wanted his revenge on Hitler for the  Nazi's betrayal. He had offered a medal to  

  • the person who found Hitler alive as they surged  into Berlin, and Stalin hoped to capture him alive  

  • and make an example of him. But it wasn't to beAccording to witnesses in the bunker, Hitler's  

  • valet entered the chamber and immediately smelled  gunpowder and a strange burnt almond smell. Both  

  • Hitler and Braun were dead - Braun apparently  from poisoning, as she had no visible wounds,  

  • while Hitler was bleeding from a fresh wound  to his temple and had a gun at his feet.  

  • The Nazi leader and his new wife were  apparently serious about not being taken alive.

  • And there was a plan as soon as the news broke.

  • The Nazi leaders knew Hitler's body  would be of great interest to the Allies,  

  • and they didn't want them to get ahold of itLed by the acting Nazi leader, Joseph Goebbels,  

  • the Nazis on site rolled the bodies up in a ruggathered papers covered in petrol, and lit the  

  • entire thing on fire. This took place amid heavy  Allied shelling of the area, which shows just how  

  • loyal Hitler's die-hards were - they were willing  to carry out these bizarre funeral rites even as  

  • their own lives were endangered. While Hitler's  body wasn't totally destroyed by the burning,  

  • it was now unrecognizable and was buried in a bomb  crater along with the rug soaked with his blood.

  • And that was the end of the story  - or at least, it should have been.

  • Soon, the Soviets took control of Berlin, and the  news that Hitler was already dead did not make  

  • Stalin happy. As word spread of Hitler's deathmillions of German troops left the battlefield  

  • to avoid the Soviet forces. It would be several  days before the Soviets arrived at the compound,  

  • and they dug up what is believed to  be Hitler and Braun's dental remains.  

  • A cursory analysis identified Hitler's  body, which seemed to put things to rest.

  • But Stalin had other ideas.

  • It just seemed too easy, didn't it? Hitler had  terrorized the continent and beyond for twelve  

  • years, and now he's dead with no way to hold  him accountable for his crimes? That sounds  

  • like exactly what he'd want them to thinkMany Soviet operations in the area continued  

  • to dig up the bodies of the Nazi leadershipbut it's not clear if they found any more of  

  • Hitler's body beyond what was believed to be his  teeth. And without more proof, Stalin refused to  

  • believe his nemesis was truly gone. And as  Stalin spoke, millions of people listened.

  • And so began the great Hitler conspiracy battle.

  • Early polls showed that over two-thirds  of Americans thought Hitler might still be  

  • alive in June 1945, but the leadership didn't  seem to share those doubts. The same couldn't  

  • be said for the Soviet Union, where Joseph  Stalin actively spread the conspiracies!  

  • In fact, only a month after the  discovery of the dental remains,  

  • Stalin ordered his Field Marshall Georgy  Zhukov to present details on how Hitler  

  • could have survived. And a month after thatStalin stated at the Potsdam Conference that  

  • Hitler had probably escaped to Spain or  Argentina like so many other Nazi leaders.

  • And this had some unintended consequences.

  • Conspiracy theories don't stay  where they're supposed to.  

  • Stalin's motivation for insisting Hitler was alive  

  • may have been because he wasn't willing to  give up on bringing the Nazi leader to justice,  

  • but there were also still a lot of loyalists to  Hitler. Soon enough, the former Nazi ambassador  

  • to Vichy France, Otto Abetz, was claiming  that Hitler was still alive, just in hiding.  

  • Soon, the Allied forces were dealing with a more  active Nazi resistance not willing to give up the  

  • war - because after all, if their leader was still  alive, then they hadn't actually lost the war.

  • It got intense enough that  governments had to get involved.

  • With the Soviets consistently boosting the  conspiracy theory that Hitler was still alive,  

  • the British counter-intelligence division in  Berlin launched an investigation. They found  

  • no conclusive evidence that Hitler was still  alive - but that didn't stop the conspiracies.  

  • The official report stated thatthe desire to  invent legends and fairy tales is greater than  

  • the love of truth” - which is probably proven  right every time someone watches an infomercial  

  • for a miracle product and picks up the phone  immediately. Even after this investigation,  

  • almost half of the US population  still believed the conspiracy.

  • And it was about to get a major boost.

  • It was only a year after the war when letters  started going out around the country from  

  • someone calling himselfFurrier No. 1”. The  mysterious madman not only claimed to be Hitler,  

  • but insisted he was living in Kentucky under  an assumed name with Eva Braun - and he had not  

  • given up the war effort. TheFurrierclaimed  to be building tunnels under Washington DC,  

  • and to be armed with sleeper cells and nuclear  bombs - and even invisible spaceships to take the  

  • Nazi regime to space. Needless to say, the writer  wasn't Hitler, he was a miner and Baptist preacher  

  • who used his scam to defraud his supporters of  $15,000 before being arrested for mail fraud.

  • But the next conspiracy would  have more meat on the bones.

  • Arthur F. Mackensen wasn't a bigwig in  the German military during World War II,  

  • just a Lieutenant - but he claimed that fate  put him in the most important role of all.  

  • In 1948, he spoke to major newspapers and  claimed that on May 5th, 1945 - five days  

  • after Hitler's supposed death - he had fled Berlin  in tanks alongside Nazi official Martin Bormann,  

  • Hitler and Eva Braun, who had faked their deathsThey flew to Denmark, and Hitler and Braun then  

  • boarded a submarine to Argentina. The only problem  with this? Not only was there no record of this  

  • crazy escape mission, but there was no record  of Arthur F. Mackensen, who may have been named  

  • after First World War field marshal August von  Mackensen. So the entire affair may have been  

  • a creative work of fiction by some newspaper  writers - who definitely sold papers off it.

  • The question for these conspiracists is,  

  • if Hitler survived and escaped, whose body  was dug up in that Berlin bomb crater?

  • For the conspiracy theorists, the answer  is simple - he obviously planned ahead.  

  • Hitler was known to be paranoid, and  frequently was surrounded by food tasters,  

  • bodyguards, and even body doubles to prevent  him from being assassinated. While it worked,  

  • none of them could save him from his fate in  that Berlin bunker - unless they did. The idea  

  • is that one of Hitler's body doubles died in  his place, allowing their body to be burned  

  • and then discovered, only for the real Hitler  to escape to a safe space for former Nazis.

  • And the conspiracies would continue for years.

  • During the 1950s, the FBI and CIA constantly  received tips that Hitler was alive - often  

  • living in the United States. Maybe that man at the  grocery store had a slightly suspicious mustache.  

  • Maybe that traffic cop was a little too  into order when he gave someone that ticket.  

  • All these tips were taken by the governmentbriefly investigated - and quickly dumped in  

  • the circular storage file. But that didn't  stop the paranoia - the conspiracy about  

  • Hitler still being alive made it all the way  to the Nuremberg trial, where one judge briefly  

  • examined the evidence. But in 1956, the West  German judicial system issued a final report  

  • stating that the circumstances of Hitler's death  were exactly what everyone thought they were.

  • And that should put an end  to the conspiraciesright?

  • While the Allies were mostly united on the fact  that Hitler was dead, the Soviets had a different  

  • opinion. The question is, why? Stalin likely  saw the exact same evidence everyone else did,  

  • but he had an ulterior motive for  keeping the truth muddled. After all,  

  • if Hitler was supposedly still alive, he hadreason to keep a heavier hand on occupied Germany.  

  • From the start, he was obstructing investigations  of Hitler's bunker - only briefly allowing a  

  • limited investigation of the site months after  the fact. While they found some evidence of  

  • Hitler and Braun's belongings in the ruinsthey would have no chance to investigate  

  • them - and the Soviets quickly barred them  from the grounds again on shady accusations.

  • But behind the scenes, a  different picture was forming.

  • By the end of 1945, Stalin wanted the truth, so  he ordered his intelligence agencies to launch  

  • a second investigation. This time, they used  modern science to comb every corner of the bunker  

  • and gather evidence pointing to Hitler's deathTo start, they took blood samples from the sofa  

  • and wall where Hitler supposedly died. They  tested the blood type and found it was a match  

  • to Hitler's type-a blood. They dug through the  crater again and found fragments of a skull,  

  • which had damage from a bullet wound. It  was pretty strong evidence that Hitler  

  • had died in the bunker - just like all  the non-conspiracy theorists knew - but  

  • it wouldn't be enough to put  the issue to rest completely.

  • Because there was one  question still to be answered.

  • Hitler hadn't survived the end of World War IIand there was no real evidence he ever had. The  

  • conspiracy was the product of a combination of  Soviet disinformation, and Nazi wish fulfillment,  

  • combined with the successful escapes of  many lower-profile Nazis like Adolf Eichmann  

  • and Josef Mengele to South America. But while  they weren't household names, Hitler avoiding  

  • detection while the whole world was  looking for him was highly unlikely.  

  • But while everyone knew he wasn't alivethey still didn't know exactly where he was.

  • Because Hitler's body was essentially  disappeared by the Soviets.

  • He died in the bunker, and then his body  was exhumed and examined by the Soviets.  

  • At which point, it just disappearedThe decision to not have any sort of  

  • memorial was undoubtedly the correct oneafter all, not only did he not deserve one,  

  • but a gravestone would become a rallying  point for Neo-Nazis. But many people wanted  

  • more transparency - and they were not going to get  it from the people responsible for investigating  

  • Hitler's death - because they were among the most  feared spy agencies to ever grace the planet.

  • And no, they weren't the KGB.

  • The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairsusually referred to as the NKVD, was the internal  

  • security spy agency for the Soviets. Similar  to the FBI, it handled domestic affairs while  

  • the KGB handled foreign affairs. Unlike the  FBI, it had near-universal authority - and  

  • there was usually no appeals process when they  got their hands on you. Not only did they take  

  • responsibility for the nation's regular police  work when they were created in 1917, but they  

  • also oversaw the prison and labor camp systemsWhile they were eventually disbanded, Joseph  

  • Stalin brought them back stronger than ever and  made them the country's official secret police.  

  • They were responsible for the investigation of  Hitler's death, and for the disposal of his body.