Though the official story is that Hitler killed himself in his bunker in 1945, conspiracy theories have arisen that Hitler fled to Argentina with Eva Braun and was protected by the Argentine government.
“…Claims to have aided six top Argentine officials in hiding ADOLPH HITLER upon his landing by submarine in Argentina. HITLER reported to be hiding out in foot-hills of southern Andes…”
So begins a memo, on official FBI letterhead, dated “9-21-45.” The memo goes on to detail an encounter that took place in Hollywood, Calif., on July 28, 1945, between two men. One of whom, allegedly, described meeting Adolf Hitler himself, in Argentina a few weeks earlier.
The problem? Adolf Hitler had died almost exactly three months prior.
On April 30, 1945, deep in the Führerbunker, Adolf Hitler killed himself with a shot to the head. His wife of one day, Eva Braun, joined him, taking a capsule of cyanide. In accordance with the Führer’s last will and testament, the bodies were carried out of an emergency exit and set alight. The burned remains were kept in an undisclosed location until 1970 when they were cremated, the ashes scattered.
The story of the demise of Adolf Hitler, the most hated man in history, is well known. But, is it the truth? Even 73 years later, the mystery still lives on. Most recently, the rumor mill has been churning out theories that Hitler and his bride fled Germany, and sought asylum in Argentina, where they lived for the duration of their lives under the protection of Argentine officials.
Spurned by the release of official-looking documents on official-looking letterhead, the rumors insist that the pair’s tandem suicide was a fake, that they fled to South America, and that they were helped by the government of Argentina.
According to one document, the FBI had reported seeing a submarine traveling up the coast of Argentina, dropping off upper-level Nazi officials. From there, the rest of the information is second-hand, told to FBI agents in exchange for political asylum by unnamed informants.
One informant claimed that he knew, firsthand, that Hitler was living in Argentina. He claimed to be one of just four men who had met the submarine in Argentina, and that there had been not just one, but two. The Nazi officials had been on the first sub, and Hitler and Eva Braun the sole passengers of the second.
The informant added that the Argentinian government not only accepted the Führer but welcomed him with open arms, granting him their full protection. He detailed specific villages that Hitler had been taken to and provided credible physical details of the man himself.
Despite the credible witness, whose name has been redacted from all official documents, the FBI never followed up on the leads, further adding to the conspiracy theorists cases. Additionally, the reaction of the various governments to the news of Hitler’s death exacerbated claims that he could still be alive.
The first man to announce Hitler’s death was the man who was appointed as Hitler’s successor by Hitler. In other words, a fellow Nazi who, by announcing Hitler’s death, had a lot to gain – with him gone, the Allies would be more willing to negotiate surrender terms, and potentially the release of Soviet POW’s.
Furthermore, Hitler’s body was never seen by any Allied forces before it was burned beyond recognition. Stalin had demanded that the body be released, and when it wasn’t, sent troops marching into the Führerbunker to find it. The team found the charred remains of two bodies, reported to be Hitler and Braun, in a small crater outside the exit, though Stalin remained convinced that it wasn’t him.
Even when he was asked by U.S. President Harry Truman if Hitler was dead, Stalin replied with a firm “no.”
Though publicizing Hitler’s death helped to quell the terror that was mounting worldwide, more and more evidence keeps cropping up that suggests it took longer for authorities to believe in his death than they let on. In 1945, the Stars and Stripes newspaper claimed that then-General Eisenhower himself believed in the possibility of Hitler living under Argentine protection. And, the government publicized photos of Hitler in various disguises, to show the world what he could look like if he had in fact survived.
Of course, there is much information that the FBI is privy to that laypeople are not, and for all we know someone could have seen Hitler’s body up close and personal before it went missing. The official version of events is still the April 30 double suicide, and for as much evidence to the contrary as there is, there is just as much that backs it up. Additionally, there are several other theories about where Hitler went, each of them increasingly more far-fetched.
Though Hitler fleeing to Argentina seems like the kind of wartime mystery that conspiracy theorists eat up, the fact that the FBI never investigated it fully does lead one to believe that they didn’t fully trust it.