What Would Have Happened to Him if The Soviets Had Captured Hitler?

In December 1947, the Russians attempted to demolish the Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker with explosives.

The world would have been invited, friend and foe alike, to witness Soviet justice upon this man.

On May 1945, in his headquarters in Berlin, German dictator Adolf Hitler vowed to fight to the last and go down in flames fighting alongside the last defenders of his capital. Instead of doing this, however, he eventually decided that all was lost and commited suicide along with his mistress and several other top officials.

What if he had stayed alive to keep fighting and had been captured? What would the Soviets have done with Hitler if they had taken him alive?

The answer is more than likely “put him on trial.” The Soviet Union was a police state with a love of show trials and political theater. Enemies of the state, whether real or imagined, would be trotted out for highly publicized and public trials where witnesses would be called in to state all the gory details of the crimes they had committed.

OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch and Hitler study maps during the early days of Hitler’s Russian Campaign

It did not matter in many cases whether there was a large amount of evidence or small amount, as more could be readily fabricated out of fear or merely out of convenience.

In the case of Adolf Hitler, however there would not have been a need for any fabrication of evidence on the part of the Soviet government. Hitler by his own admission in his memoir Mein Kampf had plotted the destruction of communism since before he had risen to power.

Hitler watching German soldiers marching into Poland in September 1939.Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S55480 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

So it would have been very simple to just use his own words against him. This inevitably would have been followed up by the literal mountains of evidence against him that was created by his actions during the war. The Soviet Union more than any other country suffered at the hands of Hitler and his forces.

While many high-ranking members of the Nazi Party were put on trial at Nuremberg by the Allies after the war, none of these trials were as much of a spectacle as Hitler’s would have been. Many of the men on trial at Nuremberg attempted to say they had  just been following orders and were not responsible for what had happened to the many victims of the Nazi regime. Hitler would not have been able to make the same claims.

The Nuremberg Trials

Hitler made many mistakes throughout the war, and possibly one of his biggest was underestimating the resilience and resistance of the Soviets. They would fight from the very gates of Moscow all the way through to steamrollering Hitler’s vaunted fortress of Berlin.

While the Nuremberg trials which eventually took place following the war were an international affair, if the Soviets had captured Hitler his trial would have been a Soviet one. Indeed if any country truly would have had the right to pursue a criminal case against Adolf Hitler it would have been the Soviet Union based on physical damage alone, not even counting the human cost.

Soldiers of the US 3rd Infantry Division in Nuremberg

So we are going with the hypothetical scenario that Hitler was dragged out of his bunker and not summarily shot by the first troops that saw him. He would have been brought to Moscow in chains, and pictures and movies of this would have circulated throughout the globe. He would have been paraded down Moscow’s main streets past Lenin’s tomb and into the Kremlin to stand trial.

The world would have been invited, friend and foe alike, to witness Soviet justice upon this man. Pictures would be painted, photographs would be taken and miles of film would be devoted to this trial. It would have made any of the show trials of the 40s and 50s look like minor affairs.

Hitler in his brownshirt SA uniform wearing the Nuremberg Party Day Badge and his World War I Iron Cross

The Soviets in all probability would have made the trial drag out for months or even years as they paraded him about to show the final victory that they had achieved. Witnesses would have been found to testify that he had committed all of the crimes he was actually guilty of as well as any others that the Soviet government felt he should be found guilty of committing.

Eventually, however, the world and probably the Soviet Union would grow tired of giving him attention and decide to carry out his much deserved execution. This more than likely would have been a very public spectacle as well. No quiet bullet in the back in a basement for him.

Pacific Fleet marines of the Soviet Navy hoisting the Soviet naval ensign in Port Arthur, on October 1, 1945.

It was much talked about by Soviet leaders that they wished to hang him in Red Square, and that is probably exactly what his final ending would have looked like. They would have strung him up like the mass murderer that he was and left him for all to see how the enemies of the Soviet Union were served justice.

Read another story from us: Death is Not Defeat: Mass Suicides in Nazi Germany in 1945

The Soviet Union had quite a score to settle with Hitler and he in a very real sense escaped justice by taking his own life. In the end the Soviet Union would visit its revenge upon Germany and its people instead. Parts of Germany have not recovered to this day from the redirected revenge exacted upon it in Hitler’s place.

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