Did Hitler Escape From Germany? – A Look At Conspiracy Theories

It is 1945, and the end of WWII is near. Adolf Hitler is in his bunker alongside his wife, Eva Braun, on April 30th, 1945. On this day, Hitler and his wife commit suicide after realizing Germany is going to lose the war. This is what the history books tell us. However, there are people who believe the history books are wrong – that Hitler and his wife may have fled the scene to South America, or possibly Spain.

A conspiracy theory is an idea that explains an event or a plot kept secret from the public, by someone with power, or perhaps by a government agency.

The bunker that Hitler spent his final days at... via Wikipedia
The bunker where Hitler spent his final days. Via Wikipedia

Adolf Hitler’s death was riddled with conspiracy theories from day one. Just a few months after his death, the Soviet Union was promoting that he was still alive and had fled to a safe haven.  Many conspiracy theories have developed over the years, from the Soviet Union’s misinformation to a book that was recently published that states Hitler lived until the 1980s. This theory is perhaps the most ‘famous’ as it was in the news only a few years ago.

Conspiracies around Hitler’s death ran rampant as Hitler and his wife’s bodies were never publicly shown, meaning visually, there was no proof. Here’s a look at some of the popular conspiracies surrounding Adolf Hitler’s death.

He Escaped to Brazil

Conspiracy theories don’t usually garner a lot of international headlines, but this one has been different. A book released in the last few years titled Hitler in Brazil – His Life and His Death, makes the claim that Hitler fled Germany and spent the rest of his days in Brazil.  The book makes the claim that Hitler fled to Paraguay and then moved to Brazil where he lived in Mato Grosso, and went by the name Adolf Leipzig.

It is stated that he chose this name because that is where his favorite composer, Bach, was born.  According to the book, he would have lived to be 95, dying in the 1980s. According to the text, Hitler used the fake name and had a local girlfriend. The author says that the locals referred to him as the “Old German” and that his girlfriend, Cutinga, was used to mask the fact that he was an Aryan Supremacist.

Photo taken during Adolf Hitler's last public appearance, on April 25th, 1945. Photo via Wikipedia
This photo was taken during Adolf Hitler’s last public appearance, on April 25th, 1945. Photo via Wikipedia

Hitler went to Brazil looking for treasure, according to the book. He was given a handwritten treasure map from his friends at the Vatican.

The author bases all of these claims off a grainy photo showing a man (presumed to be Hitler) and a woman (presumed to be his Brazilian girlfriend). It was taken in 1982, two years before the claimed year Hitler would have died (if this conspiracy were correct).

While the photo is grainy, the author stated they truly believed it was Hitler after they photoshopped a mustache onto his face.

He Escaped to Argentina

The most popular place for Nazis to flee to after the war was South America. As such, it is only natural that many people would think Hitler would flee to South America. A book released in 2011, Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler, has a different idea on where Hitler went and what he did. This conspiracy theory is based around the idea that Hitler fled to Argentina with Eva Braun, to live off the gold the Nazis had stolen from other countries and sent to Argentina on U-Boats.

One of the claims is that the gold was sent to several countries, mainly Argentina. This theory states that he went on to live until age 73, dying in 1962. It also states he had a mansion, which was out in the middle of nowhere and that he and Eva had two daughters once in South America. This theory is aided by the known U-Boat landings in Argentina, and the known FBI investigations into Hitler possibly being in Argentina.

Hitler and Braun in 1942. They got married on April 29th, 1945, the day before they committed suicide. Photo via Wikipedia
Hitler and Braun in 1942. They got married on April 29th, 1945, the day before they committed suicide. Photo via Wikipedia

He Escaped to Spain

In this theory, it’s believed that Hitler escaped to Spain on a plane and was helped out by General Franco. The claim comes in the form of Franco’s driver, who stated that on the night of April 30th, 1945, he was sent to pick up Hitler at Madrid Airport. Another conspiracy involving Spain comes from a Venezuelan man, who says that Hitler made it to Spain and later died. He believes Hitler was buried in a cemetery in Galicia, in the Northwest part of Spain.

What Really Happened: Russian’s Have Hitler’s Skull

When the Soviets swept the grounds around Hitler’s Berlin bunker, they did so taking the remains of Hitler and his wife. Though the remains are said to have been destroyed in 1970, the country believed they had Hitler’s skull up until the 2000s. That would be debunked by the United States during an investigation that found the skull to be that of a woman, likely between the age of 20-40.

Joseph Stalin did not believe that Hitler was dead either, and asked to compare dental records to make his decision. After seeing the dental records, he determined that Hitler must be dead.

Front page of a United States military newspaper in early May of 1945. Photo via Wikipedia.
Front page of The Stars and Stripes military newspaper in early May of 1945. Photo via Wikipedia.

FBI Looked Into Spottings

The FBI closed their investigation into Hitler’s death in 1947. But there were many “spottings” of Hitler basically everywhere. None of these were ever verified, and many reports were just absurd, such as a man who claimed to have had dinner with him, or that he lived in Manhattan. It is believed that the FBI has over 700 files regarding Adolf Hitler; some of these have been declassified in the last few years and are available to the public.

Hitler died, with his wife, on April 30th, 1945. Though there are many different ideas in regards to how he died, or if he escaped, they all agree on one thing: the former Nazi leader is dead now. While Hitler officially died 71 years ago, interest into how and when he died continues to be strong.

Lincoln Riddle

Lincoln Riddle is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE