Where is Hitler buried

01:00 Mon 30th Jul 2001 |

A. Can't give you a definitive answer on this. There are so many contradictions and counter-claims that it's difficult to say with any certainty. However, the most probable answer is Magdeburg in East Germany.< xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Q. What happened, then

A. As the Allies advanced on Berlin, Adolf Hitler married his loyal mistress, Eva Braun, in a civil ceremony in his bunker under the Reich Chancellory on 29 April, 1945. The next day at 3.30pm, they took cyanide from glass vials. Hitler also shot himself in the head with a 7.65mm Walther pistol.

Q. Their funeral

A. A handful of remaining staff wrapped their bodies in grey army blankets and carried them into the Chancellery garden and placed them in a shell crater. Petrol was poured over them and set on fire.

Q. But the remains didn't remain there

A. No. The charred corpses were discovered by advancing Soviet troops and were shipped to Moscow for tests that confirmed their identity. After the post-mortem examinations, Hitler and Braun - as well as propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, whose body was found nearby - were reportedly buried in a series of locations including Buch, Finow and Rathenau, all in East Germany.

Q. And there they stayed

A. Wrong again. In February, 1946, the bodies were again moved to Smersh headquarters in Magdeburg.

Q. Smersh

A. A Soviet counter-espionage organisation, its name an abbreviation of its motto smert shpionam (death to spies). Anyhow...

Q. Yes, back to the bodies.

A. They were moved one last time in 1970 on the orders of KGB chief Yuri Andropov, later Soviet leader. All the bodies were reduced to ashes and dumped into a nearby tributary of the Danube.

Q. Any evidence for this

A. Yes. The man who did the deed came forward in May, 2001, to say what happened. Vladimir Gumenyuk, former Red Army officer, said he followed an order from Moscow to dig up the Father's remains, take them out into the countryside, burn and scatter them. Gumenyuk, now 64 and deputy manager of a hotel in the Urals, is the only survivor of the three-man squad ordered by the Kremlin to get rid of Hitler's corpse.

Q. So what did he do

A. On the night of 4 April, 1970, Gumenyuk and his companions went to the undisclosed location and dug up a crate containing the bodies. They loaded them on to a jeep and drove to the countryside at dawn - with fishing rods displayed prominently as if they were going for a day's angling. At a remote spot near a river, they poured petrol over the crates and set them alight. He then gathered the ashes into a canvas rucksack and took it up a nearby hill. 'I opened up the rucksack, the wind caught the ashes up in a little brown cloud, and in a second they were gone,' Gumenyuk recalled.

Q. So where did this all happen

A. That secret will die with Gumenyuk. 'There are still too many neo-Nazis around,' he told Russia's NTV television. 'There would be pilgrimages. They'd even put up a monument.'

Q. That's the end of Hitler, then

A. Apparently not. The Russians still have a skull fragment of the evil dictator. It was put on display last year as part of an exhibition in Moscow called The Agony of the Third Reich - Retribution. Also on display were items recovered from the bunker and long held by the secret police: a gold cigarette case discoloured by fire, a kit for testing air quality and fragments of a blood-stained couch from Hitler's study. The skull fragment is small, with jagged edges, signs of charring and an obvious bullet hole. It was found in the Chancellery garden in 1946 and probably fell off the corpse as it was removed.

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By Steve Cunningham

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