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Adolf and Eva died in a suicide pact in Berlin… right? Not if you believe 70 years of rabid conspiracy theories.
Adolf Hitler and his wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide 70 years ago—or so they’d like us to believe.
Of all the Nazi conspiracy theories (buried gold sunken in Austrian lakes; jungle hideaways; U-boats filled with treasure off the coast of New Zealand), the most pervasive and indefatigable legend is that the fascist lovebirds survived the war and lived the rest of their lives in peaceful South American retirement.
The origins of these rumors lie in the fact that, though scholars agree Hitler and Braun carried out a suicide pact in an underground bunker, their remains were never publicly and formally identified. If they had made a daring escape as Berlin fell, say, the next stop would have been to Latin America, which was rolling out the red carpet for fleeing Nazis.
These fictions needed almost no time to marinate. They were spurred on by top officials in both the Nazi and Allied forces, and spread virulently in the West’s postwar confusion. “Nazi Envoy Says Hitler Still Alive,” the Associated Press blasted in 1945, with two quotes from a German diplomat promising the leader’s imminent return. Such assertions and sightings were so pervasive that the Federal Bureau of Investigation began actively looking into them.
Last year, the FBI declassified more than 700 pages of tips and investigations into the possibility that Hitler survived the war. Included in the trove were hundreds of typed and handwritten notes to the FBI, government memos attempting to verify the claims, and J. Edgar Hoover’s replies.
“According to [retracted], he was one of the four men who met HITLER and his party when they landed from two submarines in Argentina approximately two and one-half weeks after the fall of Berlin,” one report said, conveying descriptions of the heavily guarded ranch where Hitler, who had shaved off his mustache, was supposedly hiding out.