At the end of World War II the Allies splintered between East and West, and they began carving up Germany and the rest of Europe. Even as the Cold War began to develop, the Allies were rounding up and preparing to try various members of the Nazi regime. It is no secret that while they were doing this, they were also deciding which Nazis to keep for their own purposes (and others would be released early from prison in the following years). This, and the consequences and questions of ethics, have been documented in many books such as The Nazi Next Door and Operation Paperclip.
The Allies also sent investigators to verify the death of Adolf Hitler, since the remains had been burned. There have always been whispers of Hitler escaping, but I’m not one to jump quickly to join conspiracy theories. Then two things happened.
First, there has been the continuing revelations of deception regarding the protecting of many Nazis brought to the U.S., or used in Europe, to “assist” in prosecuting the Cold War. The government’s nonsensical policy of picking and choosing who to use, and who to prosecute, and to occasionally change their mind years later, is a troubling window into what certain people in power do.
Second, something stood out in these accounts of investigating Hitler’s suicide in his bunker. The investigators relied on the testimony on Nazis and evidence provide by them.
I read this article a few weeks ago on one of the United States’ investigators. It is about Michael Musmanno, who was a “Navy captain who presided over one of the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War II.” He collected artifacts from the scene and “first-hand accounts of Hitler’s suicide.” I wanted to know who gave those accounts, so I read further.
Nazis. People who stood with Hitler to the end. People who had every reason to lie.
Isn’t this tainted testimony? The article states Musmanno would probably be “angry” at claims of Hitler’s survival and “most responsible historians reject the idea” that Hitler lived and. This last statement is a logical fallacy, and I have no doubt Musmanno was dedicated to his country, mission and the law, but more than enough question have since been raised to doubt the official story.
Would you accept the supposed death of an infamous drug lord based on testimony of his supporters? No, so why is this different? Researchers have spent many pages on this, so I won’t here, but consider that the FBI was still following up on Hitler sightings years later. Stalin also claimed he lived. Some may say this was just Stalin causing trouble, but millions of Russians died in WWII, so saying Hitler escaped would be worse for Stalin than the other Allies.
“Responsible historians” have been wrong before. It is true that one shouldn’t automatically assume a conspiracy behind every bush. Also true is that the shadowy side of government has been thoroughly documented. Hopefully, Musmanno and other investigators were right, but we shouldn’t be afraid to make sure one way or another.
I think the original investigators would understand that better than anyone.