History the death or disappearance of Hitler in the storming of Berlin has excited the minds for decades. In the late 80s, journalist Artem Borovik even showed a photo of Hitler's jaw, which was kept in the KGB archives. There were different versions of his death, but the diary of General Serov who died in 1990, discovered a quarter of a century after his death and published in 2013, put an end to this issue.
Who is General Serov? An officer of the Red Army, sent to the NKVD in 1939 and quickly became Beria's deputy, and after his execution until 1963 he headed the Soviet special services of the KGB and GRU and knew a lot about the secrets of the top leadership of the Soviet Union.
Serov was a special confidant of Stalin and during the war more than once carried out important tasks. One of the episodes of his fascinating biography was the search, by order of Stalin, in defeated Berlin, alive or dead Hitler and the leaders of the Third Reich. Serov had to get ahead of the Americans at any cost and prevent them from capturing Hitler. At that time, he was a colonel general, authorized by the NKVD for the 1st Belorussian Front, commanded by Zhukov, who stormed Berlin.
Serov, together with the advanced Soviet units, from the end of April moved to the center of Berlin, where, according to information received, Hitler and his entourage were in the Reich Chancellery. In his diary, he describes in detail the process of finding and discovering Hitler's corpse, which he saw first.
For two days, April 29-30, Serov and his group, following the tankers, advanced to the area where the Reich Chancellery was located. By the evening of April 30, they approached almost close to the Reich Chancellery. All day on May 1, there were battles for the Reichstag and the Reich Chancellery, the resistance was suppressed only on the morning of May 2.
On the afternoon of May 1, General Krebs, Chief of the General Staff of the German Ground Forces, arrived at the Soviet command. He announced Hitler's will, according to which he dies and all power is transferred to Admiral Doenitz. Hitler's deputies Bormann and Goebbels sent Krebs to negotiate an armistice.
Zhukov said that negotiations can only be about unconditional surrender. Krebs was provided with a connection with Goebbels, and he ordered him to return to the office to discuss the situation. Early in the morning on May 2, a German colonel arrived at Chuikov's headquarters and, on behalf of the chief of the Berlin garrison, conveyed his decision to surrender the garrison's troops. Then Goebbels' deputy Fritsche arrived, who announced that Goebbels was not alive, and he, Fritsche, was ready to speak on the radio, call on everyone to stop resistance and surrender. By 12 noon on May 2 Berlin surrendered.
Discovery of Hitler's corpse
On the morning of May 2, Serov and his group entered the Reich Chancellery and examined it. At the exit to the park, on the steps, lay the corpse of a man in a black jacket, about forty-five, outwardly very similar to Hitler. Serov decided that it was Hitler's body. Going out into the park, he found a deep crater, in which about forty bodies of SS officers lay in a fan, some of them had pistols in their hand. It was clear that they all shot themselves.
At the end of the park stood a hunched man of about seventy with a wandering gaze. He was shown the corpse on the steps and asked: "Is this Hitler's corpse?" He replied that this was not the Fuhrer, he was older.
Subsequently, in 1945, Serov repeatedly saw in newspapers and magazines a photograph of this "Hitler" in various poses. One correspondent even dragged him into the crater where the SS officers who had shot themselves were lying and took pictures against them. This "Hitler" was so worn out by journalists and correspondents that some publications indicated how "Hitler's corpse was taken out of the pit in torn clothes."
On the opposite side of the park was Hitler's bunker with concrete walls up to a meter thick. Going down to the bunker, Serov in one of the rooms saw a wooden bunk, on top of which lay the bodies of four girls aged 4 to 13 years. These were the children of Goebbels, their mother poisoned them, giving them injections as if from the flu.
The last days of Hitler and his entourage
On the morning of May 3, Goebbels' deputy Fritsche was brought to the Reich Chancellery. He told about the last days of the top of the Reich. These days, Hitler practically did not leave the bunker, since the Reich Chancellery was constantly raided aviation... Attempts by his entourage to contact the Americans were unsuccessful.
Goering, officially the second person in the state after Hitler, who was in the American zone of occupation, as if to save Germany declared himself the head of the government on April 23. The enraged Fuhrer ordered the arrest of Goering, so that until the last day, Goebbels, Bormann, Krebs and Fritsche were next to Hitler.
In the bunker on April 20, the Fuhrer's birthday was celebrated, which looked more like a funeral. At the end, Hitler made a speech and said that "the German people did not live up to our hopes and turned out to be weak" and that "the Germans, instead of fighting their enemies, are meeting the Americans and British with flags."
On the same day, a meeting was held at which it was decided that Hitler, Bormann, Krebs and Goebbels would remain in Berlin, while Himmler and Ribbentrop would go north to Schleswig and try to establish contact with the Americans. At this meeting, various options for the defense of Berlin were discussed, including the possibility of turning German troops from west to east against the Red Army. Hope was also pinned on Wenck's army, which existed only on maps, she had no troops.
Fritsche said that Hitler married Eva Braun on April 27 and wrote a will the next day in the presence of close friends. On April 28, the new Air Force commander, Field Marshal Graim, flew for the Fuhrer from Admiral Doenitz with his wife, the famous German pilot Anna Reich, to take the Fuhrer to territory still under German control. The wide street of Unter den Linden made it possible for a light aircraft to take off and land. Hitler refused, saying: "For 12 years I led the German people from Berlin, who trusted me, I am grateful to him, so I will die in Berlin." After that, Graeme and Reitsch flew to Doenitz.
Fritsche said that he was in the bunker until the last minutes of the existence of Hitler and Goebbels and showed in the park a small, trampled elevation where they were buried. The burnt corpses of Goebbels, his wife and Eva Braun were dug up at a shallow depth. At the bottom of the pit was a burnt male corpse, his face and hair were burnt, his jacket and the top of his trousers were also burnt.
Fritsche recognized Hitler in him and told how, after the will and distribution of posts in the Reich, Hitler decided to commit suicide on April 30, and Eva Braun expressed the same desire. In the presence of Fritsche, Hitler instructed his adjutants Linge and Günsche, who had a can of gasoline, to thoroughly burn the corpses. Then Hitler took potassium cyanide and shot himself in the head.
In 1947, this story with the adjutants continued. One of the prisoners of war officers detained in a camp near Moscow asked for Serov. He introduced himself as Gunsche's adjutant and told in detail that Serov already knew how Hitler poisoned himself at 30 o'clock on April 3 and shot himself. When asked why he badly burned Hitler's corpse, he replied that he had only one can of gasoline and it was impossible to burn four corpses. Gunsche burned the Fuhrer's corpse to the maximum, and the rest with what was left, besides, he tried to hide as quickly as possible.
The further fate of the corpses is also quite interesting. With the onset of darkness they were taken to another place and buried in Magdeburg on the territory of one of the NKVD bases. The fact that the bodies of Hitler and Goebbels were found was not officially reported. Stalin, most likely, started an intrigue with the possible flight of Hitler, and it excited the minds of researchers for many years. Serov in 1955, by the nature of his service, was at the burial site. There our servicemen set up a gazebo, set tables and drank tea under the trees during breaks from work. In 1970, when the territory of this base was to be transferred to the GDR, the remains were dug, cremated and thrown into the river. Only the jaw and part of Hitler's skull with a bullet entrance hole have survived, which are still stored in the archive.
In June 1945, the German dentist Echtman was arrested, who had treated the Fuehrer's teeth for a number of years. The dentist testified that shortly before his marriage, Hitler wanted to insert a missing tooth. The dentist was taken to the bunker. A couple of days later, he prepared an artificial one instead of the missing tooth and made a gold belt, to which he soldered the artificial tooth, and then put the belt on the healthy tooth. He indicated the serial number of the tooth. All this was confirmed by the found medical record. The group drove to Hitler's burial site, dug up the body and removed the jaw for inspection. The dentist's testimony was fully confirmed. So the jaw ended up in the archive.
Thus, Serov repeatedly checked and proved from various sources that Hitler committed suicide. Therefore, any assumptions, legends, versions, including photographs of "corpses with mustache", were fiction.
Hitler's condition before the collapse of the Reich
Fritsche, Günsche and other Germans, who in recent days were around the Fuehrer, described in detail the appearance and condition of Hitler. It was a wreck that no longer doubted that the war was lost, and did not hide it from others.
Hitler was already having difficulty moving, dragging his feet and throwing his upper body forward. He struggled to keep his balance. If he had to move to another room, then he was resting on a bench installed along the wall, or holding his hand to the nearest companion. The left hand did not work, the right one was trembling, saliva flowed from the mouth. He looked terrifying. Perhaps this was the result of an assassination attempt on July 20, 44.
As for the memory and the working head, everything was fine. He continued not to believe anyone, believing that they wanted to deceive him. When the failures of the German troops became apparent, Hitler considered it a betrayal on the part of the generals and his entourage.
He was firmly convinced that, under any circumstances, America and England would not leave him in a difficult situation and would agree to an armistice in order to enable the war against the Bolsheviks to continue. He was especially happy when Roosevelt, whom he considered his enemy, died.
The fate of Hitler's associates
Serov also describes in detail the fate of Hitler's closest associates, which he was well aware of by his occupation and from the Americans.
Himmler, until May 21, wandered with two guards in the English zone, dressed in civilian clothes. By chance he was detained and sent to the British commandant's office, where he immediately confessed that he was Himmler, and demanded a meeting with Field Marshal Montgomery. Himmler was stripped naked, thoroughly searched, and an ampoule of potassium cyanide was seized. Then officers from Montgomery's headquarters ordered that Himmler be searched again. He was asked to open his mouth, he clenched his jaw and bit through the ampoule.
Goering fled Berlin when our troops approached around the twentieth of April and tried to establish contact with Eisenhower. At the same time, on April 23, he announced that in connection with the current situation, he was taking over all power in Germany. On the same day, at the direction of Hitler, Goering was arrested by the SS, but when he was being led, he saw his subordinate Air Force officers, and they released him.
Goering continued to represent himself as the leader of the Reich, and on May 9 he sent an envoy to the commander of the American division with a proposal to negotiate. The divisional commander detained him and placed him in the mansion, allowing Goering's wife and servants to come. He was later placed in the Nuremberg Prison.
When Goering was announced the decision of the Nuremberg Tribunal on the death sentence by hanging, he began to petition to be pardoned or to be replaced by shooting, since he could not allow the Reichsmarschall of Germany to be hanged. His request was denied. When they came for him to the execution cell on October 15, 1946, he was already wheezing, having bit through the ampoule. The ampoule could be given to him by his wife, who visited him, and he had the opportunity to keep this ampoule.
In the cell, Goering left a letter to the head of the Nuremberg Prison with gratitude for the good content, since in the cell he lived a free life, had several suits, various shaving accessories and creams, and a tea set. He had much to thank the Americans for. There was also a note on the table, addressed to the sergeant guarding him. Goering thanked the sergeant for his care and attention and asked that the superiors not scold the sergeant.
Serov also told several interesting episodes of how the execution of the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal took place. The execution of the sentence was entrusted to the Americans, and they carried it out with pomp. A special scaffold with a height of 3 meters was arranged in the prison. There was a hatch on the floor of the scaffold under the gallows. A rope was put on the criminal's neck. One of the tribunal members read out the verdict. An American Army sergeant kicked the pedal down, and the criminal fell through the hatch with a noose around his neck.
After the doctor fixed the death, the sergeant removed the rope from the hanged man and hid it in his bosom. When the Soviet general asked why he was hiding the rope, he, smiling happily, replied: “The rope from a hanged man brings happiness to young people, but I’m a business, I will sell it in pieces for dollars”.
The American and British generals behaved interestingly in the process of spraying the ashes of state criminals in one of the canals. The accompanying Soviet general, when approaching the canal, drew attention to the fuss and noise in the back seat of the car, where the American and British generals were holding urns with ash in their hands and each tried to be the first to get into the urn with his hand, beating off the other's hand. It turns out that according to their traditions, whoever throws the ashes first will be happy. When the car stopped, our general, stifling laughter, looked at the ash-smeared "happy" generals who rushed to the water to throw the ashes.
Serov also found out the fate of Bormann. In the course of undercover data and checks, he established that Bormann, along with Reich Youth Leader Axmann, fled from Berlin in an armored personnel carrier. On one of the streets a grenade was thrown in an APC from the second floor, and Bormann was wounded. It was not possible to establish more. This then gave rise to many legends: they say, Bormann remained alive and is hiding in South America.
Already in the 60s, one of the former postal workers in Berlin told the police that on May 8, 1945, he and his colleagues were instructed to bury two corpses, one of which seemed to be Bormann. During the excavations, the bodies were not found, but in 1972, during construction work near the indicated place, human remains were discovered, in the jaws of which there was glass, which indicated poisoning with cyanide potassium. An examination confirmed that one of the remains belonged to Bormann, and in 1973 the German government declared Bormann dead. Thus ended the long-term saga with the "surviving" deputy Fuhrer for the Nazi party.
Despite strong evidence, versions of Hitler's life and death continued to exist. In 2017, leading French scientists were allowed to examine the jaw, which was kept in the FSB museum, and a part of Hitler's skull with a bullet hole in the State Archives. The conclusions of French scientists on the study of the remains discovered by General Serov once again confirmed that these are the remains of Hitler.