Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Most gravestones are a site of solemn remembrance, where 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 west. Hitler 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 off, Hitler 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 immediately, adding 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 Union, Joseph 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 be. According 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 it. Led by the acting Nazi leader, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis on site rolled the bodies up in a rug, gathered 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 death, millions 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 think! Many Soviet operations in the area continued to dig up the bodies of the Nazi leadership, but 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 that, Stalin 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 that “the 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 himself “Furrier 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. The “Furrier” claimed 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 deaths. They 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 government, briefly 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 conspiracies…right? 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 had a reason 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 ruins, they 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 death. To 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 II, and 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 alive, they 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 disappeared. The decision to not have any sort of memorial was undoubtedly the correct one - after 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 Affairs, usually 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 systems. While 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.