History's Greatest Mysteries (2020) s04e22 Episode Script

The Hunt for Hitler

Tonight, one of the most
notorious dictators in history.
A man who led Germany
into World War II.
You could go down the line.
Mass murderer,
destroyer of cities,
destroyer of life.
Basically, anything terrible
you wanna say about Hitler
would probably be accurate.
Most historians agree
that Hitler perished
as the War in Europe
came to an end.
Some claim there is not
sufficient proof of his death.
Right from the outset,
lies were being spread
about how Hitler actually died.
They've never produced
anything that can convince us.
The human remains are
not convincingly
Adolf Hitler's human remains.
Now we uncover the top theories
about Hitler's end.
Did the Nazi leader
really die in Berlin,
or was he able to escape?
If Hitler can get to Spain,
then Franco will welcome him
with open arms
and keep him cozy in secret.
There's a reason that we look
suspiciously at Argentina,
and that's because people did
escape and make their way there
in the aftermath of
the Second World War.
Could Hitler have survived
the last days of World War II?
And if so, where did he go?
May 1, 1945
The war is over.
Six years of suffering,
sacrifice, and death
After 12 years in power
and six years of war,
the Nazi regime
has come to an end.
According to news reports,
Adolf Hitler commits suicide
as Soviet forces close in
on his underground bunker
in Berlin.
On April 30, 1945,
the final fall of
the last pocket
of holdout Soviet troops
move into the bunker
and they confirm not just
the fall of the Third Reich,
but the death of
Adolf Hitler himself.
Thanks to the work of
Hugh Trevor-Roper,
a British intelligence
officer from MI5,
we have a very good timeline
of the events in the bunker.
On April 26th,
Hitler was briefed
that his army could not
that the war
was essentially lost,
and he had a complete meltdown
in the bunker.
By April 29th,
he was clearly
contemplating suicide.
There had to be
a Hitler legacy
if Hitler wasn't gonna
survive the war,
he needed to sort of martyr
himself for the Nazi cause.
On the night of April 29th,
probably slightly
after midnight,
he married Eva Braun,
and then they had
a celebratory breakfast before
going on to kill themselves
the next morning.
Shortly afterwards,
newspapers worldwide
printed the announcement
that Hitler is dead.
International reaction
to the news of Hitler's death
is at first joyous.
The sights and sounds of victory
in Europe echo
across the Atlantic
and around the world.
That gave way rather
quickly to suspicion.
And that suspicion
was based on the fact
that there was no body.
The first
Soviet troops into the bunker
are allegedly more interested
in trophies than evidence.
The Soviets, in taking Berlin,
they're gonna shell
the city to basically rubble.
So by the time the Russians
get to the bunker,
they're not going in
with scientific teams.
It's really being discovered
by frontline troops.
The Soviet troops
who found Hitler's bunker
weren't looking for evidence
that Hitler shot himself.
What they were actually
looking for were mementos,
were trophies that they could
take home at the end of the war.
So the people who were there,
who could have provided us
the evidence that
Hitler shot himself,
weren't looking for it.
It's very difficult to contain
the exuberant energy
of a conquering army
because the Soviet people
had suffered
brutally under
the German invasion.
No one is treating
Hitler's bunker
the way that it
should be treated.
They weren't doing it with
any kind of great caution.
People were just
digging everywhere.
People were tramping through
the bunker,
they were going into the rooms,
grabbing souvenirs.
But it's done in
a very ad hoc way.
Despite the chaos in the bunker,
the Soviets are initially
confident that they have found
the dead bodies of Hitler
and Eva Braun.
That confidence then
erodes pretty quickly.
Within weeks,
Joseph Stalin himself
is commenting that Adolf Hitler
escaped from Europe.
Most historians think
that Stalin was basically
playing a political game.
It was a way to strengthen
Stalin's hand
in territorial negotiations
by suggesting that the threat
of Hitler could mean
that it's safer for
Red Army soldiers
to remain in disputed areas.
He was almost certain that
they had Hitler's remains,
but he was gonna keep it
ambiguous to be able to wield it
like a cudgel against
the Western Allies.
The United States
is one of several countries
that quietly tries to ascertain
the truth about Hitler's death.
In the aftermath
of the conflict,
the United States military
is not allowed immediate
access to Berlin.
The Soviets eventually
allow us there,
but it's nearly
two months later.
What that leads to
is, within months,
nearly half of America
believes that Adolf Hitler
did not die in Berlin.
When General Eisenhower
is asked about it,
he honestly responds,
we don't have tangible proof.
We have not seen anything.
We're just relying on what
the Soviets are giving us.
J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI,
He looks into it and he says,
I don't have any evidence
that Hitler's remains
were found,
because he didn't.
The Soviets kept this stuff
very secret.
These narratives
about the death of Hitler
we must remember at all times
that what information we do have
went through a Russian filter.
Ooh, and it's worse than.
It was a Stalinist filter.
The worst one of them all.
Hitler is so iconic that any
inconsistency is going to be
examined or exploited.
As the world
recovers from the war,
confidential investigations
begin, and no one can quite
find the answers
they're looking for.
Adolf Hitler's death
certificate is not issued
until 1956, 11 years
after his death.
And that's really because
there wasn't a body to identify,
and there was a lot of confusion
in Berlin at that time
and in Germany as it's
trying to rebuild,
so it wasn't a priority.
This death certificate is
produced without the presence
of physical evidence
because in 1956,
there was no dead body
to stand over.
What we see is that
the prevailing theory
among most historians,
most governments,
is that Hitler shot himself
in the bunker.
The official story
looks like this:
Adolf Hitler was aware
he wasn't going to escape.
He had promised that he would
never be captured alive.
He also said he was
not going to leave Berlin,
that he realized
this was his fate.
Those convinced Hitler died
by his own hand point
to the dramatic death
of Italian dictator
Benito Mussolini
two days earlier.
The word comes into the bunker
that Mussolini and his mistress
were captured,
hung upside down, killed.
And Hitler decides he does not
want this for himself.
He is gonna control
his own death.
And so a decision was made
that he would kill himself,
that Eva would kill
herself as well.
The bodies would then be burned
so that they could not
be recovered,
so that no spectacle
could be made of
Adolf Hitler's dead body
the way that it was made of
Benito Mussolini's dead body.
On April 30th,
Hitler calls his staff together
and says goodbye to them,
shaking hands with each of them
as he goes around the room.
One of his secretaries noted
that he wasn't even
looking at her.
Rather, he was
looking through her.
Otto Gunsche, one of
Hitler's senior officials,
stands outside the door
while Hitler
goes in with his wife, Eva,
Eva Hitler now,
and at about 3:15,
he opens the door,
and there's Eva,
she had taken her shoes off,
she's laying peacefully.
Hitler, however,
had put a gun in his mouth
and blew his brains out.
Gunsche is captured
by the Soviets on May 2nd.
He claims to be one of just
a few people who handled
the bodies of Hitler and Braun.
The witnesses,
Gunsche especially,
report that there was
also the smell
of burnt almonds in the room.
Now, that's a sign of cyanide.
The Soviets,
when they interview Gunsche
about Hitler's suicide,
they ask him,
is there any other access
to this room besides
the one door you stood by?
And he said, no, there was not.
This was the one,
and that Adolf Hitler
and Eva Braun did
commit suicide.
Hitler had already instructed
his adjuncts to gather petrol
to burn his body,
he was very clear on that.
Otto Gunsche,
along with a couple
of the other people present,
will wrap Hitler's body
in carpet.
Gunsche will carry them out
into the Chancellery Garden.
They place their bodies
in a shell crater,
douse them with petrol
And then they will
light them on fire
and their bodies
will begin to burn.
According to Soviet
soldiers, Hitler's body
was unrecognizable
and reduced nearly to ash.
The Soviets dug up
two really badly
fire-damaged sets
of human remains.
And from these remains,
they took Hitler's
jaw and teeth and
they sent it back to Moscow.
The jaw is intact enough
that they can examine the teeth
and what they do is they
find the two dentists
that worked on Hitler's teeth,
and they were able to point out
specifically a bridge
that they had done
in the upper right jaw.
Dental assistants.
That's how little
the Soviets have.
They've got nothing,
they've got a couple
of fragments of a jawbone
with some teeth.
Stalin is so paranoid
that he starts to think
there's real doubt about
basically the remains
of Hitler that had been verified
by the dental assistant.
So he sends another group of
military intelligence officers
back to Berlin in 1946,
a year after the war.
That's when they find the skull.
The skull with
a bullet hole in it.
In 1946, a year
after the end of World War II,
Stalin sends a team to Berlin
to search for further proof
of Hitler's death.
He says, I want you
to go through that
Reich Chancellery Garden again
and look for remains of Hitler.
And that's when
they find the skull.
They couldn't know that
was Hitler's skull.
They weren't doing DNA testing,
but it was in the same area
where they found the teeth,
it had a hole, and he'd been
shot in the head.
The skull fragment is filed away
in Soviet archives.
It's not until 2009,
well after the fall of
the Soviet Union,
that this 1946 discovery can be
properly examined.
In 2009,
Nick Bellantoni led a team
of scientists to conduct
DNA analysis
on this skull fragment
with the bullet hole in it.
And what they found was that
the skull was actually
that of a female,
and that it was the wrong age
to be Eva Brown.
There's a bullet wound
in the skull,
and we know from
eyewitness accounts
that she poisoned herself.
That skull fragment cannot
have belonged to Eva.
There were over
150 bodies surrounding
the Chancellery building,
so there were human remains
And the skull fragment,
it's irrelevant because
of the jawbone
in the dental work that almost
definitely confirms his death.
The evidence for Hitler's
suicide in the bunker
on the 30th of April, 1945,
is forensic evidence,
it's eyewitness evidence,
and it's documentary evidence,
and it all adds up.
Nonetheless, some question
the identity of those bodies
in the bunker.
Thanks to information gleaned at
the Nuremberg War Crime Trials.
The United States of America,
presents count one
of the indictment.
That all the defendants
participated as organizers
or accomplices in
a common plan or conspiracy
to commit crimes against peace,
war crimes,
and crimes against humanity.
The Nuremberg Trials
were the first
large scale war crimes trials
in international history.
It was an effort to hold
Nazi leadership responsible
for the horrors, the crimes
against humanity that had been
perpetrated during World War II.
What quickly emerges at
Nuremberg is this realization
that there were a large number
of people that we thought
were eyewitnesses,
but they didn't actually
see a thing.
"Did you actually see
Adolf Hitler?"
"Was it definitely him?"
"Yeah, well, I saw a person
"that was rolled up in a carpet,
and we set that on fire.
I saw that happen."
Hitler's body from the head
was covered in blood,
so it made sense
to wrap that body up.
These people were
close to Hitler
and they wanted to preserve
dignity of the dead bodies.
The eyewitness
evidence is divisive.
Does it prove Hitler's death,
or suggest something else
Adolf Hitler was also
a little bit pragmatic,
every now and then,
when he absolutely had to be.
As a result of the war,
Germans were forced
to recognize that
they might have to retreat
and continue fighting
from some other location.
They'd establish
a headquarters complex elsewhere
where the Reich would live on.
And so Hitler is the one
who approved plans
for continuity of government
in the event of
the fall of Berlin.
But if Hitler somehow escaped,
where would he go?
If you're trying
to escape Nazi Germany,
you needed to get into
a neutral country
that can shelter you.
If you can get
to the Spanish border,
you will get asylum from Franco.
Throughout World War II,
Hitler wanted Franco
to come on board
to join the Axis Powers.
Franco holds back,
stays neutral,
but is friendly with Hitler.
Was it possible for him
to slip away?
Yes, and he could have done it
without ever seeing
the light of day.
Underneath Berlin,
like a lot of major
European cities,
you have a complex
tunnel system.
Early in the war,
Hitler expanded Berlin's
subway system.
Some of these tunnels
were converted into bunkers
and air raid shelters.
Together, they made up
a vast underground network
that might allow travel through
the entire city.
A number of people
are able to get out at
the bitter end
using the tunnel system.
Famously, Martin Bormann,
the chairman of
the National Socialist Party,
makes an attempt to get out,
and doesn't make it in the end,
and is killed by Soviet troops.
So the theory is that Hitler
could have used that same
bunker system to get out
of Berlin himself.
Some speculate that Hitler fled
via a tunnel
to Tempelhof Airport,
a fortified airfield in Berlin.
Tempelhof Airport
is the last exit
out for the Nazi hierarchy.
There are some people
who have theorized
that Hitler escaped by air.
Now, that seems somewhat
plausible in that there were
some planes that made
emergency escapes
while under Soviet fire.
Hannah Reitsch, the famous
German female pilot,
flew into Berlin on April 26th
in the company of
Robert Ritter von Greim,
a high ranking officer in
the German Luftwaffe.
They flew out on April 29th
in the middle of the night,
so they were able to escape.
Because of that,
it does seem plausible
to some people that Hitler may
have also flown out of Berlin.
One of the many stories
about Hitler's escape
from Berlin was that he,
and Eva Braun, and some others,
they flew out of Berlin
and they made their way
to a monastery
called the Monasterio de Samos
in Galicia, in the northwestern
corner of Spain.
Francisco Franco is a fascist
who rises to power in Spain
through a large civil war.
Because of his victory
and his rise to power,
he really owes it
to Adolf Hitler
and German equipment,
and therefore stays
friendly with Hitler
throughout World War II,
even though he holds back
and never joins the Axis Powers
like Hitler wants him to.
Franco was a deeply religious,
deeply conservative leader.
He saw in the Nazis and
in the Italian Fascists
these rigorous systems
worthy of emulation.
There's no question that if
Hitler had wanted to escape
into Spain, he would certainly
have allowed it to happen,
and allowed Hitler to go
into hiding in Spain
and then denied all knowledge
of Hitler's whereabouts.
The view of the Catholic Church
was that we need to protect
the Nazis because we've got
this godless Bolshevik,
Joseph Stalin,
and he's subsidizing
Communist parties in
Italy and in France.
He's trying to make
the revolution everywhere.
"The enemy of my enemy
is my friend."
From a political standpoint,
that made a certain amount
of sense that there would be
elements within Spain's
Catholic Church
that were sympathetic in
some ways to the German regime.
The Roman Catholic Church
was really thick as thieves
with the Nazis after the war.
They were the ones who basically
got travel documents, passports,
visas for thousands
of Nazi war criminals,
and they would pass through
like the one in Spain.
This monastery of Samos,
along the Atlantic
and the Bay of Biscay
would've been a perfect
rat line for Nazi leaders,
because they could've gone
in there and then they
could've had safe haven
in neutral Spain.
The abbot of the Samos monastery
was a close friend of
Francisco Franco,
the Spanish leader,
so he could have made
himself available to host
Hitler there secretly.
The monastery
in Samos may be part of
a vast escape network.
These overland routes
are known as "rat lines."
They connect escaping Nazis
with sympathizers who provide
falsified documents
and identities.
The rat line itself
had people who understood
what they were doing and
who they were helping
slipping through gaps
in the line
and escaping to another country.
There are some monasteries
that are used as waypoints
in the escape from Nazi Germany.
They're a good place to
conceal yourself short term
as you're transitioning to your
next mode of transportation.
If you were trying
to escape Germany,
it wasn't that hard,
because there were something
like 12 million ethnic Germans
who'd all been expelled
by the Soviets.
These people were
all going west as well.
If you were senior
a Nazi official,
you could kind of
disguise your appearance
and you could just say,
hey, I'm a German
from Romania,
and I have no documents
because I was expelled from
my country by the Red Army.
So you've got these rat lines,
which are really a way to get
Nazis, or Germans out of Germany
by having friendly folks
along the way helping you out,
providing you money,
clothes, food.
And so the idea was that Hitler
was going to make his way
to this monastery
and stay there,
I don't know, as a monk,
until he was ready
to go further.
The 1945 fall
of Berlin means the end
of the Nazi regime in Germany.
But at the end of World War II,
did Hitler really
commit suicide,
as most historians agree,
or did he somehow escape?
If you were going to try
to escape in 1945,
the best place to go
would be Spain.
The theory here is that if
Hitler could make it to Spain,
there's a monastery,
the Samos Monastery,
that was very friendly
to Nazis escaping Germany.
There was one guy who was
a stonemason's apprentice,
a teenager,
and then he told
the story when he was 80,
"I was at Samos, and I remember
when Hitler arrived
"and he was hiding in
the monastery with Eva Braun.
They were both so kind to me.
They tipped me so well."
None of it could be true.
None of it could,
but he talked about it
with absolute and
utter conviction.
Many believe
this theory is flawed.
A lot of this is
a lot of stretched reality.
The belief that they had
gone through tunnels,
the Tempelhof Airport,
and flown out of there
over occupied Allied territory
and landed in Spain.
Historically speaking,
this idea of Hitler
being content with
staying in a monastery
and living the life of a monk
is pretty preposterous.
This guy's a megalomaniac.
He's pretty much insane by
the end of World War II,
and we're expecting him
to keep a low profile?
Ain't going to happen.
But is it possible
Hitler moved on
to another destination?
The idea is that if Hitler
can get himself out of Berlin,
get himself into Spain,
Hitler's going to be safe
for maybe the next leg
of his journey.
Then a number of noteworthy
cases emerge of war criminals
who escape justice in Europe,
and they flee to South America,
and they find a home
in Argentina.
Argentina ultimately joins
the Allies during World War II,
but does so very late
in the game.
There were those in the country
who were sympathetic
to Nazi Germany,
and it's because of these
sympathies that we have
to recognize the possibility
that Adolf Hitler could
have gotten there himself.
Germans had migrated
into Argentina
in significant numbers,
in different waves.
They were able
to build communities,
particularly in the southern
part of the country,
where they concentrated
slightly more.
The symbol of
tyranny began to appear
in the large
South American cities
and in the backwoods
of Patagonia.
So would Hitler have found
a welcome reception there?
Could he have hidden there?
Most likely.
So the theory that Hitler
escaped to Argentina
seems plausible
to some theorists,
partly because it is plausible.
But if Hitler
did escape to Argentina,
how did he get there?
During the war,
Germany had a group
of submarines called U-boats.
They were incredibly lethal,
and they were far ranging,
really traveling
all around the world.
German U-boats could
certainly range
across the Atlantic
into Argentinian waters.
They frequently attacked
Allied shipping.
They had an incredibly
dangerous fleet.
They were sinking
Allied shipping
almost as fast
as it could be built.
Ordered out from
Atlantic bases to destroy
or be destroyed themselves,
hundreds of newly built
Nazi submarines
take to the open sea.
When the Allies declare victory,
all German submarines or U-boats
are ordered to give themselves
up to the Allied forces.
Most do so, but not all.
In fact, the U-530 submarine
resurfaces in
a surprising place.
On July 10, 1945,
you actually have a U-boat
showing up at
an Argentinian naval base
called Mar de Plata.
It's impossible not
to recognize that
U-530 could have
potentially carried
very important cargo in the form
of Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler.
The timing works out.
With this U-boat
show up at Mar de Plata
on July 10, 1945,
that's almost
two months to the day
that Hitler commits suicide,
and it takes two months
for a U-boat
to get from Spain to Argentina.
There's a reason that we look
suspiciously at Argentina,
and that's because people did
escape and make their way there
in the aftermath of
the Second World War.
Most notoriously,
Adolf Eichmann is living on
a house on Garibaldi Street
in Buenos Aires.
one of the main architects
of the Holocaust, escapes Europe
and reinvents himself
in Argentina.
He changes his name
to Ricardo Clement,
and works as a mechanic
at the Mercedes-Benz factory
in Buenos Aires before
being captured and hanged by
Israel's Mossad agents in 1960.
In 1954, the US
Federal Bureau of Investigations
conducts an investigation
about sightings,
supposed sightings of
Adolf Hitler in Argentina.
The FBI files include
material about
an unnamed German expatriate
who is living in Argentina
and exchanging correspondence
with an Adolf Hitler
who is alive and well and
living somewhere in Argentina.
If he could somehow
make it to Argentina,
is it possible Hitler would have
gone further than the coast?
Archaeologists have recently
unearthed something astounding
deep in the Argentine jungle.
This could be an answer
to what happened to Hitler
after World War II.
In 1945, the Soviet Union
told the world it had evidence
that Hitler committed suicide
in a bunker in Berlin.
FBI documents declassified
in 2014 bolster that fact.
But there are those
who speculate
a different end, and believe
a remote location in Argentina
holds important new clues.
Destination number one
for Nazi war criminals
was Argentina.
These guys came ashore,
and there was no attempt by
the Argentine government
to punish this,
they were welcomed
into the country.
In 2015, a team led by
former CIA agent Bob Baer
travels to Argentina
to pressure test 700 pages
of recently declassified
FBI documents.
Bob Baer goes down to
Argentina to sorta
check this out in 2015,
and what he finds
is a big school,
a Hitler Youth school,
and finds out it was used to
teach Nazi doctrine to children,
just like the Hitler Youth in
Germany in the '30s and '40s.
What he was finding
was evidence of a colony
where they flew
the Swastika flag,
where they were raising youth
and teaching them in the ways
of National Socialism,
and teaching them
about the history
of Adolf Hitler.
It appears that
a colony lived on
that kept the torch going
about National Socialism
even after the fall of Berlin.
This is almost like
a cult waiting for its leader
to come back to lead them
to power.
But Bear's team doesn't stop
at San Antonio Oeste.
The trail takes them from
the coastal town
to areas that
would be much harder
for prying eyes to find.
In the Argentinian jungle
in Missiones,
there's a compound,
and farmers there
discover a bunker
but it's not wood and dirt.
It's tiled, looks rather fancy,
they find Nazi coins
and other Nazi memorabilia.
To Bob Baer, the complex seems
intended for use
by someone important.
Also in the FBI files,
the locals have noted
a network of roads
that are controlled by
the local German community.
These roads, which are small
and run through jungle towns
and rural communities,
could be used to move anyone,
or anything anonymously.
Simple military engineering.
If you have one way out,
one way in,
It's very easy to control
who moves back and forth
on that road complex.
If anyone approached
and began snooping,
there would be plenty of warning
whereby you could skirt off
to someplace else.
The Missiones complex
does seem like a place where
Hitler could survive
safely and comfortably,
and Argentina itself
does seem like
an ideal place for Hitler to be.
But Germans have a strong
presence in Argentina
after the war,
so having Hitler exist
secretly among them seems like
it would be a tall order.
There's always
the possibility that Argentina
wasn't a great place
to go because
we were looking there
after the war.
Certainly U-530 provided us
with a big fat arrow
pointing directly at Argentina.
If people are looking,
maybe it's not
the best place to hide,
maybe someplace else more remote
would be a better place to hide.
It's a hop, skip, and a jump
from the southern tip of
Argentina to the South Pole.
There's a possibility
that Adolf Hitler may have
ended up in Antarctica.
There's been a lot of
exploration of Antarctica
by Germany even before
World War I.
The first of two
German Antarctic expeditions
occurs between 1901 and 1903.
The goal of this expedition
was to survey a part of
the Antarctic continent
and to determine
if it had strategic value.
The German industry needs fuel,
and the concept is that
the answer to this is whale oil.
And so these German patrols
go down to Antarctica.
They survey the grounds.
The idea is to build a plant
to produce whale fat into fuel.
During the National Socialist
period, there was an actual
Nazi Antarctic expedition
that carved out a slot
of the Antarctic continent
that was for National
Socialist Germany.
In 1947,
a book comes out claiming
that German U-boats after
the war were actually
delivering ex-Nazis
to Antarctica and
the South Pole.
But later, one of
the German U-boat commanders,
a guy named Heinz Schaeffer,
he comes out and denies
the whole thing.
The captain denies that
they proceeded to Antarctica.
But, of course,
if he was trusted
with moving the German
head of state
to an unidentified,
undisclosed location,
wouldn't that be the story
he tells?
By the spring of 1945,
Nazi Germany has fallen.
But some international
intelligence reports
suggest that Hitler may have
escaped and is on the run.
Some theorists
raise the possibility
that his ultimate destination
is Antarctica.
Prior to World War II,
Nazi Germany is actually
looking to establish bases to
support its whaling fleet.
In 1938, the Germans
take possession of an area
of Antarctica called
This actually
belonged to Norway,
and the Germans basically
just plucked up
the Norwegian flag
and put down their own.
Now, it sounds strange
that Germany would send
U-boats to Antarctica,
but at that time,
the continent was considered
to be a treasure trove
of resources,
especially for countries
that were looking
to expand their empires.
A season's catch may be valued
at over 2 million pounds.
The purpose of these
bases was to get Germany in
on the whale oil game,
when whale oil was as good
as gold or as good as oil.
But those same bases
could also be used
at the end of the war
to harbor fugitives.
In 1943, Grand Admiral
Karl Dönitz claims
that Germany's submarine fleet
has created
an unassailable fortress
on the other end of the world.
Now, while this sounds like,
oh, there's obviously
a fortress down there,
this is what he would have said
about any locations
the Germans possessed
during World War II.
He understands the power
of propaganda
and what to use
against the enemy.
The German U-boat fleet
was also known
for sneaking off
and doing secretive things
and conducting secretive
landings that we don't
find out about
until years later.
In the example of U-537,
it actually sails
to what would eventually
become part of Canada in 1943
and it establishes
a weather station that
nobody knows a thing about
until the 1970s.
So we're not writing
science fiction
when we imagine the Germans
using a U-boat to sail
to a remote and very cold place
to conduct a landing
and put structures ashore.
Articles come out
with this theory
that months after
the capitulation of Germany,
April of 1945,
a German U-boat shows up
in Antarctica,
and the crew gets off
and they don't get back on.
They stay and they
start building
shelters for themselves.
That leads to this
tantalizing possibility
that they may have been
laying the infrastructure
for the Fuhrer himself
to come there
and to begin this continuity
of government program
from Antarctica.
Nazi Germany definitely
had interest in Antarctica,
but there's absolutely
no evidence to suggest
that Hitler escaped
to Antarctica.
Hitler wouldn't want
to have lived in Antarctica.
He would have hated living
in Antarctica.
From a psychological
it would seem odd for a person
who's used to having
all of this power
and control to end up
at the bottom of the world
with no one around him.
Doesn't seem like a good fit.
But talk of a German
Antarctic base persists,
and the international
search continues.
Down the road, articles,
books come out saying
that after World War II,
in August of 1945,
just months after
Germany's surrender,
the British launched
Operation Tabarin,
the idea being that they
sent troops down to Antarctica
to take this fortress,
but were held back
by the Germans,
who possessed it
for decades after.
So again, every time
they tamp down,
one rumor or another
is gonna pop up.
As the foremost
maritime power in the world
prior to World War II,
it's unsurprising
that the British Navy
is involved in
a substantial number
of expeditions mapping out
the rest of the world
and looking for
basing opportunities.
However, Operation Tabarin
was not a secret
military mission
to attack some Nazi base
in Antarctica.
It was a scientific mission
designed to study
the climate of Antarctica.
It doesn't look like
the theory that Hitler
left Germany after World War II
and went to a secret Nazi base
in Antarctica
is in any way true.
The only evidence that we've
been able to find shows that
Germany had a base in
Antarctica for whale oil.
After the fall
of Germany in 1945,
some intelligence reports
suggest Hitler may have escaped.
Others have made an even more
startling claim,
one that boggles
the imagination.
There were a lot of
people that didn't like him,
and there were a lot of people
who wanted him dead,
even in Germany.
So there's a possibility that
the person who killed himself
in the bunker in Berlin
was somebody
who just looked like Hitler,
that it wasn't him at all,
that it was a body double.
To support
this theory, some turn to
the many assassination attempts
made against the Nazi League.
There were 42 assassination
attempts, if we're counting
actual attempts,
and if you add up plots
that were foiled before
they could be sprung,
the number reaches over 100.
One of them was a general
was gonna hug him
with two hand grenades
in his hands and blow him up.
They also put explosives
on his airplane
when he was traveling
to the Russian front.
The most famous one probably
being Operation Valkyrie,
which has been immortalized
in the film starring Tom Cruise.
Valkyrie becomes
known as the July 20 bomb plot,
because it occurs on
July 20, 1944,
just a little bit after D-Day,
where the Allies
are coming across France.
By the summer of 1944,
a growing number of Germany's
senior military leaders
are losing hope.
Many blame Hitler for leading
Germany to disaster.
One of Hitler's army officers,
Von Stauffenberg,
is going to bring
a briefcase bomb
down into his Wolf's Lair,
and he's going to break
two little glass tubes
in the briefcase
that will start a timer.
He's gonna put the suitcase
under a table
and get out of there.
Because of the heavy legs
of the table,
one of those legs absorbed
a lot of the blast.
Hitler survived it.
He actually gets on the phone
and begins calling people,
putting down this insurrection,
and it's probably
the best known attempt
to kill Hitler
and restore some degree
of normalcy in Germany.
According to Bauer,
he may have been killed
in the July 20
assassination plot
and they just didn't want
to let Germany know
because it was at
a critical moment in the war.
This is not a good time to
have to go, oh, yeah, hey,
by the way, somebody killed him,
and it was one of our guys
that did it.
In 1939, Maximilian Bauer
writes this book called
"The Strange Death
of Adolf Hitler"
and claims that
Hitler died in 1938.
And so all events that
are gonna take place
hence on is actually gonna
be from a body double.
According to Bauer,
Adolf Hitler is dining with
some of his critical leaders,
and he's poisoned during
the meal.
So the senior leadership,
they felt like that would
just be too much of
a blow to morale.
And so what they did
was replace him
with a series of body doubles.
The Nazi propaganda machine
is one of the most well-oiled
machines there is.
Joseph Goebbels is using
every incident, everything,
to churn out language
of the Nazi Party.
And so if anybody's going
to be able to cover up
the death of Adolf Hitler
and convince everyone
that this other person is him,
it's gonna be Joseph Goebbels.
If Hitler was dead
long before the end of the war,
is it possible he was
replaced by a body double?
As proof, some turn
to a body found
in the wreckage of
the Reich Chancellery.
And he looks so much
like Adolf Hitler
that all these Soviet soldiers
kind of pile in around him.
They're taking photos of him.
It actually belongs to
a man named Gustav Weller,
but he looks so much
like Adolf Hitler,
they at first thought,
"Oh, my gosh,
here's his dead body,
we found him."
They even placed
a painted portrait
of Adolf Hitler on the chest
of the dead body,
as if to confirm, see,
it's the guy in the painting.
Is this a coincidence?
A man who looks exactly
like Adolf Hitler is found
just feet away from where
he's cremated?
Maybe Weller is exactly
what they wanted
the Russians to find.
You have personal accounts
describing the bitter end.
You have a body double that
looks like Adolf Hitler
with a bullet wound to the head.
Detractors of this theory
point out that a body double
would be unlikely to fool
those who knew Hitler well.
Hitler first met
Mussolini in 1934,
and although Mussolini
was a very bad man,
he wasn't an idiot, and I think
he would notice if Hitler
was replaced by a double.
Similarly, Hitler was dating
Eva Braun since 1932,
and I think she would
definitely tell the difference
if Hitler had been replaced
by a double in 1938.
There is no evidence, there is
nothing written by Adolf Hitler,
by anybody in his inner circle
that said there
was a doppelganger,
there was a person
looking like Hitler
that we used to trick people.
There's nothing like it.
It was simply people found
that look like Hitler,
that this assumption was made
that there was a doppelganger.
The idea of Hitler living
anonymously as a Mr. X
somewhere in Spain
or in Argentina,
in Antarctica,
it's not Hitler's style.
He was the Fuhrer of Germany,
he wanted to go down as such.
And one of the reasons why
he killed himself
is because he wanted to avoid
the shame of overthrow
or surrender.
Thousands of
historians have spent decades
looking at all of the theories
of what possibly could've
happened to Hitler
at the end of World War II,
and more outlandish theories
seem to come out every day.
Hitler's death is a mystery
that's really
deliberately fanned by
the specific circumstances
of Hitler's demise
in Berlin on April 30, 1945.
And really, Stalin did
his work too well.
He clouded the issue
so much at the outset that
he left the mystery alive,
and then the mystery
just festered
and persists down to this day.
Nazi Germany's downfall
remains a source of fascination
nearly 80 years later.
The overwhelming majority agree
that the official story
is the true one.
Hitler committed suicide
in Berlin.
But why is the idea
of Hitler escaping
such a long lasting theory?
Perhaps it's the quest
for justice that appeals
to many of us.
Regardless, Hitler's death
may remain the subject
of investigation
for many years to come.
I'm Laurence Fishburne.
Thank you for watching
"History's Greatest Mysteries."
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